Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bettina Sellman (Lauren's Pick)

Bettina Sellman’s recent works are watercolor portraits and figures. She uses washes of pure color on canvas to build up the subjects. The appearance of the figures quote the Baroque period of Western Europe, a time when superficiality was become prominent in society. The costume-like appearance of the paintings’ subjects reference the expectations of behavior and lifestyle that are placed on different groups of people because of their social standing.
I was first attracted to her work because of its vibrant colors and precise detail. The facial features and anatomy of the portraits are unbelievably accurate, while the watercolor adds fluidity and motion. It is the contrast of these two qualities that give her work the mask-like quality she is trying to achieve. I feel that Sellman’s stylistic choices cohere very well with her theme, giving an overall strength to this series.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Man Ray

***for some reason blogger is cutting off my images beyond a certain point and i dont remember my html well enough to resize them. help***

Man Ray (actually Emmanuel Radnitzky) was a modernist artist and had a strong influence on the Dada and Surrealist movements. Originally educated as a painter, Ray is known best for his unconventional (then, VERY unconventional) photography. His transition to photography was an unusual progression, as most artists leave the “more rigid” art of photography in search of the broader range of expression that is thought to be thought of in painting, drawing, sculpture etc. On the contrary, in his own words:

“I began as a painter. In photographing my canvases I discovered the value of reproduction in black and white. The day came when I destroyed the painting and kept the reproduction. From then on I never stopped believing that painting is an obsolete form of expression and that photography will dethrone it when the public is visually educated. I know one thing for sure - I need to experiment one form or another. Photography gives me the means, a simpler and faster means than painting.”

Producing the bulk of his best-known work in the 20s and 30s, man ray’s use of alternative printing techniques was then unheard of. Perhaps most importantly, he managed to pull it off in such an elegant and beautiful way that it caught the public’s eye, and helped propel the Surrealist and Dada movements into the next decade.

I love Man Ray so much. He manages to create painterly, surreal, dreamlike photographs, not unlike one of my other favorite photographers, Jerry Uelsmann. As a fellow painter/photographer, this influences me to blend me interests and allow my work to flow through different mediums.

I would compare Ray’s work as a photographer to Roger Ballen’s photographs, both relying on strong juxtapositions and eerie feelings that something is just not right.



Jan Von Holleben

Oh how I adore these photos! Jan Von Holleben’s creative Dreams of Flying series are full of childhood innocence and charm. Jan utilizes the influences of his cinematographer and child therapist parents on this project. His work explores the visual representation of childhood and what it really means to be a kid. The background, which is really the floor, is set up so as to present a storyboard aesthetics. The kids are really just lying on their side. Perhaps it is easy to figure it out but it becomes irrelevant how his images are made because the photographs themselves are beautiful and fun. I included this photographer because I have plans of photographing childhood as well and I really miss photography that is fun...

Roger Ballen

I’m including an artist that I do not understand because how he talks about his work is intriguing. Ballen, who was born in New York but got involved in the mining industry in Johannesburg, South Africa where he found himself documenting the workers. In the mid 90s, he became a photographer of fictions. The series that peaked my interest was Shadow Chamber; it focuses on the interaction between the people, animals, and/or objects in the somewhat apprehensive space. His photographs have been noted as being painterly and sculptural. Which is one of the reasons why I felt a need to understand his work.

Ballen has often related his process of working to mining (he was a mining consultant), an ore car coming and going from a black hole, traveling back and forth from some place called the unconscious mind to some place called the conscious mind. He is often meticulous with the physical set up of the scene but yet gave total freedom of his models. I am including him as one of my artists because his work art baffles me. It seems deeply personal and for me to interpret it, it is like trying to interpret this man’s own memories.

Hughie O'Donoghue

I've recently come across this artist, Hughie O'donoghue. He works with a variety of media, the pieces shown are Carborundum, an etching, and an oil painting, respectively. I find Hugie's work very similar to mind in the sense that he really plays with the human figure and what he can show to allow a viewer to still recognize it as a figure.

I think that O'Donoghue's work is can be compared with Robb johnson's photography. His work, like Hughie's gives the viewer a glimpse, sometimes even less, of an image, leaving us to ponder what we are looking at.

Walter marton and Paloma Munoz

Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz depict uneasy scenarios with their photographs of snow globes. My initial impression of Martin and Munoz’s work was that of fancifulness. However, it quickly darkens and I found myself feeling anxious. What I love about the Travelers series is its ability to uproot your sense of place and reality to offer you another possibility. The construction of each globe is so minimal yet each clearly contains a suspenseful story of travelers experiencing a moment of homelessness. It pricks at our fear of loosing the security that a house or home symbolizes. The artist’s decision to show the curved limits of the globes allows the work to acknowledge its own fantastical nature, yet it did not diminish the ambiance and feeling each scenario conjures up in the viewer. I was made fully aware of being a voyeur and at times being helpless. I am attracted to Travelers ability to draw the viewer into its frames and in essence transcend its two dimensionality.

In a way, Martin and Munoz’s work reminds me of Robert and Shana Parkeharrison’s collaboration, specifically images that encapsulate a dreamscape. Personally, I gravitate a little more to Travelers because of its refreshing aesthetics and dark humor.

jenny Saville

my artist of the week is Jenny Saville. Her painterly style has been compared to that of Lucien Freud and Rubens. Her paintings are usually much larger than life size. They are strongly pigmented and give a highly sensual impression of the surface of the skin as well as the mass of the body. Since her debut in 1992, her focus has remained on the body. Her published sketches and documents include surgical photographs of liposuction, trauma victims, deformity correction, disease states and transgender patients. I really admire the brushwork in her paintings, not to mention the color and the style.

I think Jenny's work is very similar to Shawn Barber's paintings, his tattoo series. I see very similar painterly qualities in some of the brushwork and style in theses paintings.

Miss Van (jenn's pick)

Miss Van is a graffiti artist from Toulouse, France. I actually found her by accident while I was doing research on teaching graffiti in high schools (for another class).
Miss Van started wall-painting in the streets at the age of 18, in the early 1990's, initiating the feminine movement in street art. She is now exhibiting all around the world from NY to LA, in Europe (France, Spain, Italy, UK) as in Asia. She now works on canvas as well, and uses acrylic paint (I like it when people use acrylic paint). Not that money is important, but it's it's interesting when someone goes from street art to $30,000 dollar paintings. I also tried to post these in chronological order so you can see the difference.
I appreciate street art, and people who actually go and do it. I especially appreciate her because I feel like street art is a male dominated field, and she plays off this in her work. She used her dolls as her tag, and placed them on places, or other peoples tags or murals to create a message. Likewise, since this art is secretive, illegal, and underground- someone could come to her work the next night and completely cover it, or change it to alter the meaning.
What I find most interesting is her use of color, and the way she found a way to portray these doll/masklike women in a consistent way, but giving them all individual characteristics and emotion. She also creates a narration using subtle props, or even body position. These works are similar to James Jean in terms of using illustrative technique. Miss Van's new work is also similar to Jean in terms of color palate, and in creating depth.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cheryl Kelley

1. Cheryl Kelley was born in the late sixties when the feminist movement in America was starting. Kelley is an oil painter who paints a variety of images, however I am interested in her paintings of muscle cars. Growing up, she was aware that muscles cars were, “the last bastion of young male dominance. These big engine cars, seemingly fueled by raw testosterone, were ironically most definitely feminine in form”. Her paintings show a personal level of understanding of the female body. She uses oil paints to further push the sense of fluidity and sensuality of the muscle cars. In order to produce her works, Kelley take photographs at car shows and then manipulates certain aspects of the images to better suit her needs.

2. Two artists that I think whose work is similar to Kelley’s are Don Eddy and Martha Rosler. Kelley and Eddy are two artists who deal with reflective surfaces. Additionally both artists paint incredibly intricate images that have a lot of dimensionality to them. Rosler reminds me of Kelley because both women manipulate images. Rosler collages while Kelley changes photographs, both artists create new images.

Artist of the Week: Nancy Boyd

1. For the artist of the week I choose artist Nancy Boyd. Boyd brings her background in illustration and design into her pieces. She is interested in capturing unique views, fascinated with how views from up-close and far away have a striking similarity. Out of all of her series I enjoy her Morphology series the most. Nancy uses acrylic paint on layered plexi in these pieces. Her use of color, line and shapes makes the studies of these living organisms/flora feel dimensional and alive. The pieces look like they belong in an exciting science textbook or a magical garden in a storybook.

2. I think Nancy Boyd’s work is similar to Masha Dyans. Both artists use color, line and shape as essential components in their pieces. Additionally, the works of these artists have somewhat of a whimsical feel to them.

Richard Barnes

When I was in Italy this summer, I think one of the most interesting experiences was going to La Specola, which is Florence's slightly decrepit natural history museum. The museum is filled with rooms and rooms of glass display cases with dusty old taxidermied animals. For the most part, little or no context is provided for the display of the animals, they are simply lined up next to each other on shelves. The whole thing was interesting on a few levels. One thought I had was about how much museum design has changed over the years, and how we now expect to find context for our exhibits. But even when context is provided, the museum is at its core a somewhat false experience. Exhibits may make the pretense at being inclusive or objective, but really, they have been filtered and constructed to a high degree.

Which brings us to the photographer I'm posting about here. With his Animal Logic series, Richard Barnes highlights these falsities through showing museum exhibits in a state of construction. His work also brings up issues of preservation and restoration. On a larger scale, I think that Animal Logic can be taken as a comment on the construction of our perception of reality.

And Alec Soth thinks he's pretty cool too.

A while ago, Monica posted on another artist working with taxidermy, Maurizio Catttelan. I think that there are also stylistic connections between Richard Barnes and the last two artists I posted about.

Brian Demetter

Brian Demetter creates his pieces by selectively cutting through the pages of old books to reveal images and text. To me, his work brings up questions of intentionality. It's obviously highly planned out, to an extent that makes me wonder how he managed to get it all to work together as well as it does, since he doesn't rearrange any of the pages. Yet the final effect is generated by the book itself, based on how the images all come together.

Plus, I really like old encyclopedia imagery and book arts. Lots more images here.

Also, he made this awesome ram's skull out of old melted cassettes:

Something about the quality of his work reminds me of Kara Walker, although her content is completely different. Still, she draws from the style of old illustrations, which is what Demetter is working with.

William Gedney (Cade)

William Gedney was not a night photographer. He was an "immersion photographer", traveling to places he had never been, throwing himself into the culture, and absorbing a documenting it. However, he drove across the U.S. a few times and a had an interest in photographing street scenes at night. What interests me the most about Gedney is the fact that his images could have been shot in Worcester. He is relatively unknown; he photographed in the 60's and 70's and only gained posthumous recognition in the late 90's. His night photos are sort of a forgotten series, ignored in the face of his other work--and that's exactly what the subject matter is too. Scenes that you wouldn't look twice at because they are so commonplace, but scenes that you must look at carefully in order to see the depth and the genius. He manages to show the desolation, but also to inject a hint of presence and a bit of familiarity into them.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

James Jean (Mike S)

Jump, Recess Series

Wave, Recess Series

Crowdsourcing, illustration for WIRED

pages from a sketchbook

James Jean moved to New Jersey from Taiwan with his family when he was 3. Like most of my previous picks, he is strongly influenced by graphics and illustrations. In an interview Jean recalls that he used to help his dad with the paper route to earn money for comics, and when he was old enough, he moved to New York and immediately began illustrating covers for DC and Vertigo comics.

Since that point, judging by his website, it seems he has enjoyed nothing but success. Sections of his site feature some incredible and unconventional comic book covers, as well as commercial illustration work for such firms as Burton, Men’s Health, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Spin, ESPN, Nike, Playboy, Target, Time, Wired, etc., etc., etc.


When I saw the list I figured that each illustration would conform to some popularist aesthetic given each demographic, yet his illustrations themselves comprise a cohesive body of work that draws on painting, with a unifying style. It’s the kind of work I would imagine going to see at a gallery and loving; the illustrations actually stand along.

He also has some pages from his sketchbook on display that I found really impressive. He tends to really develop his sketches with watercolor and other color media, which inspires me to take my sketchbook somewhat more seriously. There is also an absurd aesthetic way that Jean has of seeing the world. That comes out in the sketchbooks

His current project is called “process recess” and it “is about childhood & ghosts. It is a series of pictures depicting the suburban milieu.” The series depicts children in familiar school-like settings, drawing on painting and digital arts. Each sccene is injected with a healthy amount of morbidity that makes the images difficult to read and interpret.

I also really like Jean’s color palette. He tends to use a lot of muted complimentary colors: pinks, light blues, etc. This makes the rare saturated color really stand out.

I would group Jean’s work together with Nicholas Di Genova’s, stylistically in this graphical, illustrational, character-based camp. I would also make a connection to Maurizio Cattelan in that both artists are drawing on a somewhat absurdist style to achieve humorous, yet simultaneously obscene/threatening results.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kara Walker (Nicole's Pick)

My artist of the week is Kara Walker. Greg showed us her work in class and I found it really interesting. Born in California, she moved to Georgia in her early teens. She was apprehensive about the movie to the south due to fears of racial issues. Her work deals primarily with gender and race issues of African American women during “Antebellum South”, creating an almost alternate world and nightmare effect. Her techniques range from painting to drawing. She is more widely known for her signature black paper silhouette installations. I respond to her work because she is dealing with an issue that she originally feared when moving to the south. She confronts her fears through her work and uses it as a type of therapy, much like I am attempting to do with my fear of dolls. Kara Walker relates to Nicholas Di Genova in that they both combine images, whether they be animal or human, to create new and often exaggerated forms.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Wolfgang Tillmans

My artist of the weeks this week is Wolfgang Tillmans. His work appeals to me because of his documentary style and his use of color...He shoots mostly his friends, who he considers not only models but his collaborators. I really enjoy taking pictures of my friends as a way to document my own experience of life and I think Tillmans does a great job of portraying his life through his photographs. I also really enjoy the fact that Tillmans works with color film, I feel that it's pretty obvious in his work that the images aren't digital, and there's a kind of preciousness in the idea of using film, as it seems to be becoming increasingly obsolete. The colors to me are obviously the kind of colors you get from film. The colors are also subjective without being completely over the top...I think Tillmans does a great job of controlling and altering the color of his images, without making them look overdone.

Tillmans work could be compared Justin Sunhueza Campoy's work, as both artists draw inspiration from everyday objects and experiences. A large component of both artist's bodies of work is a subjective use of color, which is mostly realistic, but is still used as a vehicle for expression.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Justin Sanhueza Campoy (Jenn's pick)

How Do You Kill Yourself in an
Electric Oven
, Oil on Canvas, 2005 68"x58"

I love this guy. I found him when on some painting contest book/website, and looked him up. I'm glad that he actually had a website because all weekend I've been seeing/meeting people I would like to look up and I can't find anyone.
Anyway, his website was really interesting because he talks about his work, on video. Even though the video is kind of awkward looking, and long, I learned lots of good things.
He says he doesn't bother trying to load his work with meaning, because that back tracks the work, making it less interesting and meaningful. He says that he just does paintings that were originally sketches in his sketchbook. He doesn't try to make them things that they're not. This is interesting to me because I like painting things in in my sketchbook, but have felt a lot of pressure to try to make them link together so that people in class won't ask the horrible question "uh, how does this relate to what you did last week?" He works in kind of Equisite Corpse style- his work relates because he's been drawing it, and thinking it. That's the only way it all relates, yet he has a coherent body of work.
It's good to know that there doesn't really have to be an ultra deep thesis behind everything you're doing. Sometimes you like a picture, so you paint it. After you do this so many times you might find an overall thesis. This also relates to something I learned in my education class- that you write the introduction after you finish the paper, making the paper less limiting. In some of the video, he emphasizes that it's important to make lots of work, and some paintings will be good, and some will be bad, but it's OK as long as you keep going.
Anyway, I like the self portrait "I want to go home, I want sex, I want a new job, I want a pizza"
because he really relates to what I'm thinking about 80% of the time. I'm guessing this relates to what other people are thinking a majority of the time too.
Like other artists people have shown, Monica's, and Nicole's picks... there is a lot of humor, but still a "deep" element. "How to Kill Yourself in an Electric Oven" is funny at first glance, but it's just a more literal meaning for "yeah those legs are sexy but they are going to make you miserable or kill you."

I Want to Go Home, I Want a New Job, I Want Sex, I Want a Pizza, 2006, 36"x48"

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Nicholas Di Genova

I've been feeling slightly burnt out on art theory recently, so I decided to post about an artist who works in a more illustration-informed mode. I've been thinking about working in non-paint media recently. It's somewhat refreshing to me when I feel that I can enjoy art without needing to set it in a larger art historical context, look for referents, etc, etc. Maybe other people people don't get overwhelmed by a need to find meaning in work this way, but sometimes I do. And what can I say, I've always been a sucker for good line quality. (More hi-res images here)

Nicholas Di Genova, also known as "Medium" is an artist from Toronto. He creates hybrid animals designs, often combining the features of two very different animals to create a strange new creature. The fact that he's coming from a street art background is pretty easy to see in the way his works are primarily character design. In terms of content, I enjoy the way his work references zoology and evolution.

Artists' blogs are always fun to look at: There are plenty more images here, including ones from a recent show he had in Toronto.

Jill Greenberg (Nicole's Pick)

Jill Greenberg is commercial photographer who is probably most well known for her “monkey series”. She stirred up controversy in 2006 when she shot portraits of children’s faces “contorted by various emotional distresses”. She would cause the “emotional distress” by offering the child a piece of candy and then suddenly taking it away. The titles of the pieces “reflect Greenberg’s frustration with both the Bush administration and Christian Fundamentalism in the United States”. I like her work because she is able to capture the vulnerability of a child and also a great deal of emotion within a few seconds. Greenberg could relate to Monica’s pick of the week Maurizio Cattelan. Although Greenberg’s images aren’t necessarily meant to be humorous, she is pushing society to its limits, making people laugh and also get angry about her photos all at the same time. I also liked Whitney’s artist of the week Robb Johnson and his focus on the physicality of photography by layer images. As opposed to focusing on just the “image” he is pushing it further.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thomas Kinkaide (Michael's Pick)

I've been making jokes about using Thomas Kinkaide (The Painter of Light, tm) seriously for a few weeks now. The more I make them, the more I realize that half the time we makes jokes in life, its because we want to gauge other's responses.

So why not consider Thomas Kinkaide seriously? He's the best selling artist of our time. Formally and aesthetically, his artwork is beautiful and pleasant. Ask any grandmother. Can beauty be its own reward, or is that a bygone of the era of art as image?

My interest in Thomas Kinkaide comes mainly from the fact that he makes no bones about marketing his artwork in ridiculous ways. Go to Barnes and Noble, for example. You can get the Thomas Kinkaide 2008 Engagement Calendar, Thank You cards, and he even has a series of novels that he "co-wrote" in the Religious Fiction section. While we may consider the pandering of his aesthetic to a targeted niche (the tasteless), he really is playing the market in a rather saavy way. Has he compromised his ideals? Does he share OUR ideals as artists? Does he derive joy from his painting, from making marks on the printed canvases he sells at his mall "gallerys"? Don't artists historically panderer to the rich and clueless?

Living in this post mechanical reproduction, post image world, an artist like Kinkaide (whether knowingly or not) is demonstrating a lot of very important issues in the art world and asking a lot about the role of the artist and the modes of representation. Obviously though, his lack of importance in the art world comes from the fact that he contributes nothing to our culture. Its all more of the same, and it looks tacky on my walls, even though the print was cheap at the Christmas Tree Shop.

But I cant help but be a little envious. He is doing something he loves, has reconciled the fact that he's pandering to bad sensibilities (check out his website. He's doing paintings for Disney of Cinderella's Castle!!!), and is making a mint off it. I can fault him all I want, but he's still rich as hell. Artistic integrity or Grandma's Money?

You decide.