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‘Dr. Strangelove’ recreated using everyday household objects
09:24 am



Artist Kristan Horton knows Dr. Strangelove well. I mean really well, much, much better than you do: he’s watched it hundreds of times, the natural outcome of a situation that arose when a VHS cassette of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece was the only content he could play on his TV set over a period lasting more than two years.

Horton, who is from Canada, says that this created a relationship to the movie he had to respond to, somewhat like when “Star Wars fans ... log hundreds of viewings and go on to make Storm Trooper outfits for themselves in their living rooms.”

Several years ago Horton decided to make an art project by re-creating hundreds of stills from the movie using ordinary objects you might find in your home. The project is called Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove and was shown at Jessica Bradley Art + Projects and Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery.

Horton had wanted to re-create the movie via animation, but eventually realized that the stills from Dr. Strangelove had a special power and allowed for sober comparison of the original and the imitation:

The project began with an intention to animate [by creating] an animated film. But it was the still that attracted me. The comparison was the exciting part. We can take as much time as we like in making the comparison. Time is on our side, not whizzing by at 24 frames per second.

The project has roughly 200 images, of which we show a small sample here. You can buy the book of Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove and study all of the images at your leisure.

(Click on each image to see a larger view—these are gorgeous, and you’re going to want a closer look.)


More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Derek Erdman: America’s greatest living ‘Art Garbage Movement’ painter
07:24 am



“In McMembrance”
Derek Erdman is currently one of my favorite American artists. It’s not just that I connect with his absurdist outsider pop images, but it’s his entire philosophy about producing art which is accessible—both figuratively and literally—that draws me to his work. In addition to being a highly prolific painter, Erdman is an infamous prankster, as well as the mastermind behind “Rap Master Maurice,” who, for $17, will make a “revenge rap” phone call for you. Erdman also happens to be a receptionist at the venerable Sub Pop record label.

His website contains hundreds of works for sale, and, incredibly, also includes a link for price haggling

After the recent purchase of a lovely portrait of a certain 1970s, Flavor-Aid-serving cult leader, I had the pleasure of talking to Derek about his work and refreshingly anti-classist approach to the “art world.”

I can’t be the first person to have made this joke, but since you’re an artist and you also work at Sub Pop, does that make you a “Sub Pop artist”?

Derek Erdman: I reckon that’s the case, yes. I’d very much love to have a SP catalog number for one of my paintings one day, that’s kind of a dream. Dean Whitmore’s (Sub Pop Sales Department) daughter has a catalog number. Art Director Jeff Kleinsmith’s wedding has a catalog number. Founder Bruce Pavitt’s daughter has one. It’s wild over at Sub Pop. Wiiiiiiiiild.

Does your “day job” allow you enough time to be such a prolific artist? Do you still “need” a day job at this point in your career?

DE: I started working at Sub Pop because painting all day at home was really lonely. At times I totally forgot how to communicate with people. In a way, I’d say I’m only just now acclimating into office life. I have a feeling I’m pretty annoying in the office, like the guy who bursts into a room wearing a beanie and interrupting everything. My co-workers have great patience, but also a penchant for losing their bus cards, which I have to replace. I love my role there, and in a way I can make art while at work, or at least have ideas that I can go home and make into paintings. That place also encourages pranks, which is nice. I could hustle enough money to live without it, but Sub Pop allows me to get my teeth fixed and eat foods that aren’t black beans and rice. Plus having a schedule is a good thing for me, otherwise I’d just stay up for 36 hours at a time in some kind of manic flurry. And that hardly ever ends well.

“She Made Them Realize”
I mentioned the word “prolific” in the last question, and that’s no understatement.  How many paintings would you say you’ve done? There seem to be hundreds on your site.

DE: I’d say I’m between 5,500 - 6,000. Those aren’t Steve Keene numbers, but I’m cool with that. I like naps.

Your work seems equally inspired by the Pop Art movement and the Outsider Art movement. If you were to “art-historian” yourself, under what category would you classify Derek Erdman’s work?

DE: Oh jeez, I dunno. Art Garbage? The Vague Sincerity Movement? Old Country Buffet?

When I first saw your paintings, I was reminded a bit of the art of Sam McPheeters. Are you familiar with his work? I also got a Howard Finster vibe. Are there any artists who inspired or informed your style, or do you think that these sort of outsider “lowbrow” styles develop of their own accord? Is it fair to use the term “lowbrow”?

DE: Lowbrow is fine, I don’t take offense to that. I find coolness or being fancy to be pretty unappealing. I probably couldn’t be an art museum grant-having, complicated-explanation artist if I tried. My style mostly comes from the clip art of Tom Tierney, my work ethic from being raised in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s rough and tumble there. If you don’t work hard, you end up all rusty and alcoholic. I love Sam McPheeters, his sense of humor is perfect. I was in a band for a week that did Dead Milkmen covers in college and we opened for [Sam McPheeters’ ‘90s band] Born Against in a pizza shop basement. At the beginning of the show somebody made the declaration that there shouldn’t be any anti-religious statements during the show, I think there was a then-current controversy. So in between Dead Milkmen covers we made up a song called “Fuck the Church.” God, we were the worst. I later made a fake “distro” newsletter listing bootlegs of a ton of Born Against and Universal Order of Armegeddon shows, you know, like Grateful Dead tape trader style of dates and different cities. I sent a copy of it to Vermiform [Records] and whoever got it really didn’t like that joke. Moss Icon though, holy shit.

“Nighthawks in the Bathroom”
What is the typical process involved in doing a painting?

DE: Usually acquiring different sizes of wood and painting them different colors. Then I’ll eventually have an idea that seems vague enough to have multiple meanings, and paint them onto the wood with house paint. I like to watch 48 Hours type true crime murder mystery TV shows on YouTube while I paint. There’s a really good documentary about the “Paul is Dead” controversy called The Winged Beatle. It’s so dumb. I love the difference between stupid and dumb. Sometimes my paintings are dumb, but I hope for them to never be stupid.

I first became aware of your work from the Can’t Kids Brushes Touches Tongues album cover, but I think I was late to the game. What was your first “big break” in the art world?

DE: It doesn’t really feel like I’ve ever had that. Sick shit has happened and I’ve done some bigger projects that I’ve been really proud of, but there hasn’t been a particular instance that I can recall. I did have a summer where a bunch of friends and I were pretty into cough syrup. That helped a lot, I was kind of an asshole before that summer. We called it the Summer of Tuss. 2003. The best year of my life. That’s not really true.

Among your massive online portfolio, one can see that your work seems to be divided between “serious” portraits and pieces that inject absurd humor. Do you prefer to do work with intentional humor?

DE: Humor is really important to me, yes. Even if it’s a joke that only two people will get (see the above Born Against/Vermiform story). Laughing is probably my favorite thing. Unfortunately, I feel that life is ultimately bleak, a giant overwhelming sadness, and that’s a ripoff. The best parts are the laughs in between, but then everything always flutters back to despair. Geez, I had no idea I even thought this before I typed it.

“Hitler - Cross Eyed and Chubby”
Correct me if I’m wrong on this. Did I read somewhere that you stopped doing Bill Cosby portraits after the dozens of rape allegations that came out against him? If I’m getting that correct, you’re still producing portraits of guys like David Berkowitz and Hitler. How do you decide what’s OK and not OK for subject matter? Is anything taboo?

DE: People stopped ordering Bill Cosby paintings, I didn’t stop making them. Like a lot of my early paintings, I would never remake them for myself because they’re pretty boring now. But shit, if somebody ordered one, I’d make it. I’m not the boss of people, but I’ll gladly have their money. Plus, that’s a real easy painting to make.

I think being mean is a taboo. But there’s a lot of cultural sensitivity today that’s painting entertainment into a corner. Sure some of it is warranted, but for the most part, if somebody doesn’t like something: fuck ‘em.

Fine art is often reserved for the well-off. The last time I purchased one of your works, I thanked you for being so “affordable,” and I also thanked you for the drill holes, which made the work easy to hang without going through the expensive process of framing. You told me that it was part of your philosophy of art being “for the people,” which REALLY resonated with me. Would you care to expound on that a little bit?

DE: I’m anti-classist at heart, so I’d be really disappointed in myself if the things that I made became inaccessible to everyday people. I also really like the idea of paintings as decoration that could go unnoticed, but once inspected could have a subtle message. So, you know, just hanging in a kitchen or bathroom in low light. Framing seems elitist to me. It’s so expensive. A proper frame will set you back much further than a perfectly good piece of art, and that’s fucked. I’m not trying to change the world with these opinions though, that’s just my way of thinking. I decorate my house in my own paintings, I guess that says something!

“Denise Eckersley”
As a working businessman who happens to be an artist, thematically, what “sells the best”? I’m going to guess “cats,” but I’d love to be proven wrong.

DE: Bears on old reclaimed windows in different colors. You can buy the windows for $5, clean them up and then sell them for $120 all day long. Otherwise yes, cats. Pet portraits.

Is there anything you haven’t painted because you’re too intimidated to tackle it?

DE: [No.] Fuck em’!

Here is a selection of Erdman’s work. There are literally hundreds more amazing pieces on his site:

“The Woman With Bird Earrings”

“World War 2/ Bay of Pigs/ Desert Storm”
More Derek Erdman after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
For the discerning Satanist: Demonic sculptures made from bones
06:49 am



Untitled No. 2
Sculptor John Paul Azzopardi creates these lovely, elaborate skeletal structures from actual bones to a sort of “Refined Satanist” effect. The works invoke a kind of “pop pagan” iconography—ram’s heads, bats, a mysterious structure that looks like it belongs on an altar etc.—but the articulated detail of each sculpture prevents them from being perceived as too… “serial killer?” Azzopardi does not say where he gets his bones, but they appear to be small animal bones, or possibly small children’s bones, humanely sourced from crooked orphanages and Marilyn Manson’s trash cans.

From his site:

Bone is a collection of fossilized structures that explores the gentle temperance located within the constitution of sound, i.e. its very silent centre.  The architectural relationship that oscillates back and forth from the simple and the complex to the living and the dead connects space and form, creating existential structures of interwoven silence. The death embedded in its form, its life. This might confront the spectator with a spectre, the simulacrum of itself that stalls, halts being something in its tracks.


Untitled No. 2

Untitled No. 6
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Ten years before Disney, Lotte Reiniger made breathtaking animated features before fleeing the Nazis
04:09 pm



The popular history of animation starts with Walt Disney—a tragic oversight and a considerably US-centric misconception. In addition to the pre-Disney animation in America, the Soviets were making cartoons early on (starting with cautionary propaganda, of course) and the Japanese produced amazing early animation referencing folklore. However, the most beautiful and ambitious of early cartoons have to be from Charlotte “Lotte” Reiniger, a German filmmaker who produced lush, elaborate scenes using stop-motion with excruciatingly detailed silhouette cut-outs. Even more impressive was the duration of her films—which qualify as features—made ten years before Disney’s Snow White, which is generally recognized as the first animated feature film.

Below you can watch Reiniger’s most famous work, 1935’s Papageno, which was set to music from Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute.” While it lacked the production values of some of her later features, Papageno is the most fantastical, following Papageno the birdcatcher’s quest to find his true love. The silhouettes themselves are a perfect example of Reiniger’s cut-out style, which was inspired by Chinese silhouette puppetry. The cut-outs were generally set against brightly monochromatic backgrounds, but the painstakingly cut scenery and subjects really pop against white as well. The piece is a perfect fairy tale—richly evoked with drama, romance and humor.

Despite her success (she was particularly popular in the avant-garde scene alongside artists like Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill), Reiniger’s career was sporadic. As known leftists during the rise of the Third Reich, she left the country with her husband and collaborator Carl Koch. Unable to get permanent Visas, the couple hopped around Europe for over ten years and still managed to create twelve films, including Däumelinchen (better known as “Thumbelina”), Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and 1955’s beautifully colored Hansel and Gretel


Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Handsewn images of Patti Smith, Marianne Faithfull, Nico, Syd Barrett and more
11:24 am



Nico hand embroidery
Nico, Nude and Deaf in One Ear (recto and verso) - 2013 - 2014, 84” x 40”, hand embroidery on muslin
Masterful embroiderer Jenny Hart said she was really unhappy while away art school in France, so she dropped out of the program she had enrolled in and got a degree in French instead. Lucky for all of us, Hart continued to draw and thanks to inspiration from her beloved comic books and the legendary line drawings of R. Crumb, found her muse. Embroidery.

Since forming her company, Sublime Stitching, Hart’s work has been featured in publications likeVogue and The New York Times. Her work is privately owned by many collectors, including the estate of the late Elizabeth Taylor, as well as a piece that is part of a permanent display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

Hart has even experimented sewing with human hair, an artistic dream that she wanted to make a reality for as long as she can remember. After an exhaustive search through the wig stores of LA (a great story on its own I’m sure), Hart found a wig made exclusively from human hair extensions. Despite this discovery, she ended up stringing her own hair through a piece of leather that would go on to become a piece called “Oh Unicorn”.
Patti Smith embroidery
Patti Smith Transfigured (detail) - 2014, hand embroidery on cotton
Marianne Faithful embroidery
Marianne Faithfull - 2005
In addition to the intoxicating images of Smith, Faithfull and Nico, Hart has also created embroidered versions of French cabaret singer Edith Piaf; La Chingona from SF-based Incredibly Strange Wrestling; Marianne Faithfull, The head of John the Baptist; Iggy Pop; Pink Floyd’s founder Syd Barrett, and many others. If you are handy with a needle and thread, take a look at some of the patterns you can make on your own that Hart created in collaboration with cartoonist, Jim Woordring. Many images of Hart’s work that your eyeballs will dig follow!
Edith Piaf embroidery
Edith Piaf: Piaf - 2002

Syd Barrett - 2003, hand embroidery on satin
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Stunning occult posters of magicians from many decades ago
09:35 am



Kellar. Thurston. Carter. These names are forgotten to us, but once they motivated throngs of people to attend their mystical performances of occult hoodoo and magic. Their posters are models of the seductive appeal, with their bold names and strange images of impossible creatures. The prominence of the name in these posters is far from accidental—only after years of painstaking labor rising up through the ranks might a magician become one of the select handful whose name alone could draw crowds.

Harry Kellar was called the “Dean of American Magicians” and one of his main illusions was the “Levitation of Princess Karnack,” which trick he pilfered from a rival magician by bribing a member of the other guy’s theater staff. He also had a trick that involved decapitating his own head, which would then levitate over the stage.

Howard Thurston (it does sound more alluring without the “Howard,” doesn’t it?) was a partner of Kellar’s, a master of tricks involving playing cards. You can see that one of the posters says “THURSTON: KELLAR’S SUCCESSOR.” Thurston eventually did become the best-known magician in America.

Charles Joseph Carter perfected the classic “sawing a woman in half” illusion and also had an especially macabre trick in which his shrouded body would vanish just as it dropped from the end of a hangman’s noose.

Some of you might remember a diverting 2001 novel called Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold, a thriller, somewhat like Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, about a fictionalized version of Carter.

More magicians, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Poorly Drawn Album Covers’: Your Facebook time waster for the day
07:23 am



I have a big weakness for injudiciously liking and joining extremely narrow-purpose Facebook pages and groups, and as such I’m a proud member of “Staring At This Picture Of Dave Navarro Until It Gives Me An Acid Flashback,” at least a dozen groups that consist of nothing but vinyl enthusiasts posting the covers of whatever they’re listening to at the moment, and OF COURSE “The Same Photo of Glenn Danzig Every Day,” which DM told you about last week. But the thing that’s been tickling me this week is “Poorly Drawn Album Covers,” which is exactly what you think. The page’s unnamed admin draws (presumably by him or herself, no artist credits are given), shoddily, in what must be MS Paint or worse, album covers ranging from iconic, instantly recognizable classics (amusingly, their Screamadelica and Songs About Fucking don’t actually look super different from the originals at first glance) to recent indie stuff—and they have quite good taste in indie, IMO. But even if you can’t name the record (they’re not identified for the reader, which I like), it’s still always a giggle. Here are a few samples. There’s plenty more where this came from, and if that’s still not enough for you, these folks have competition on Tumblr.

Bjork, Homogenic

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly (which by the way is as good as everyone says)

Ride, Nowhere
More poorly drawn album covers after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Song portraits’: What does music by Radiohead, Stevie Wonder & David Bowie LOOK like?
01:00 pm



Led Zeppelin, “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” Led Zeppelin III
Synesthesia is a fascinating condition experienced by 2% to 4% of the population, wherein a stimulus of one sense (taste, say) is processed and perceived within the framework of another sense (hearing, say). A person with the condition might say “That spaghetti tastes loud,” or “That song is purple.” Some minor crossing of wires that leads to a harmless yet stimulating state of affairs for those who have it. Notable synesthetes include Nikola Tesla, David Hockney, Vladimir Nabokov, Duke Ellington, and Wassily Kandinsky. Nabokov famously felt that each letter had a very specific color, which is a relatively common manifestation of synesthesia. 

Erin Kelly at All That Is Interesting has posted the, well, interesting “song portraits” of a Missouri artist named Melissa McCracken. As Kelly writes,

Each of McCracken’s paintings is based on a certain song, and incorporates the song’s notes, tempo, and chord progression through textures, hues and shapes. It is not imperative that one understands the condition’s neurological underpinnings to appreciate the work being done here, but those with a taste for abstract art will perhaps extract the most enjoyment from these pieces.

Check them out, they’re quite wonderful. I woulda said the Prince song would have a lot more purple to it, but I suppose McCracken knows best.

(Clicking on a song title will bring you to a YouTube version of that song. Highly recommended to refresh your memory! Hearing the music makes the pictures pop a lot more.)

Stevie Wonder, “Seems So Long,” Music of My Mind

Etta James, “At Last,” At Last!

Radiohead, “Karma Police,” OK Computer
More synesthesia after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The cover for Nirvana’s iconic album ‘Bleach’ was based on an accident
08:20 am



One of the primary accomplishments of Montage of Heck documentary on Kurt Cobain that aired on HBO earlier this week was to remind me how much I fuckin’ love Bleach. Nirvana’s three studio albums are very distinctive, of course—all three albums are excellent, but in my mind I classify them as “raw (low budget),” “polished (medium budget),” and “raw (high budget).” I really like Nirvana in its “raw (low budget)” state. The whole first half of Montage of Heck consists largely of quasi-animated sequences with Nirvana music churning underneath, and damned if I don’t find “School,” “Negative Creep,” and “Blew” just as galvanizing and toe-tapping as I did when the album became lodged in my CD player back in 1990.

When Bleach was released, a big portion of the mystique of the album derived from its doomy, mysterious album cover. What the hell is a “Kurdt Kobain”? This really cost $606.17? What is happening in the picture on the cover? Why is “Bleach” in quotation marks? And so on. The front cover is a classic, and the tall, serif letters of “NIRVANA” would shortly adorn ten thousand T-shirts as well as all of the band’s official releases, from Nevermind all the way to From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah (but not the B-sides comp Incesticide).

Remarkably, one of the most important decisions of the band’s career—what the logo would look like—was decided by chance, indeed, as Jacob McMurray has written, “mostly by accident.”

Quoting from the indispensable volume edited by McMurray, Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses, which documented the 2011 exhibition of the same name,

The layout for the Bleach cover was created by graphic designer and musician Lisa Orth at the offices of The Rocket, where she also worked. The cover comformed to Sub Pop’s design aesthetic: a stark field of color with bold type and a striking photograph. The photo, by Kurt Cobain’s girlfriend Tracy Marander, was reversed-out as if it were a film negative. It featured the band (including [Jason] Everman, though he didn’t perform on the album) playing at the Reko/Muse Gallery in Olympia, WA, on April 1, 1989. Orth asked The Rocket’s typesetter, Grant Alden, to set the band’s name in whatever was already installed in their typesetting machine. And thus Nirvana’s logo was born, mostly by accident.

That typeface, based on Bodoni Extra Bold Condensed, was called Onyx, and it looks like this:

The differences between Bodoni Extra Bold Condensed and Onyx aren’t 100% clear to me, but as Caitlin Richards helpfully explains, “The difference between Onyx and Bodoni is that Onyx’s letters are tracked closer to each other.”

Art Chantry gets into the jargon in the book Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses,

It was a typeface called Onyx which is a Compugraphic bad design of Bodoni Condensed—really hunky, ugly, and those Compugraphics, if you didn’t use the right kerning programs you had really bad letterspacing. And so Grant Alden basically just sat down, slammed it out, charged Lisa Orth 15 bucks, which she paid out of pocket, and that is where Nirvana’s logo came from.

While we’re on the subject of the Bleach cover, here are three fascinating images of the design elements that went into it. I had never seen these before like two days ago (clicking spawns a larger version).


And finally—my favorite of them all—here’s the cover image in its un-inverted state, which I’ve been dying to see for 25 years:

Again, if you find this even a fraction as interesting as I do, you really have to pick up Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses.

Photos: Lance Mercer

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
See Frida Kahlo’s wardrobe, locked away for 50 years
11:43 am



Traditional Tehuana dress
Anyone with the remotest familiarity with the paintings of Frida Kahlo will have noticed that one of her primary subjects is her own physical pain and the fragility of her own body, especially after a life-altering accident with a bus that occurred in 1925. In that accident, the bus she was riding on collided with a trolley car, and the list of the ailments that resulted would give even the staunchest stoic pause: a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, several broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, a dislocated shoulder; an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus as well.

It wasn’t just her paintings that referenced her broken body (Tree of Hope, 1946, is a good example); her wardrobe inevitably did as well. Her clothes were an expression of her indomitable will as much as anything else—she was determined to live a fulfilled, independent, and creative life, and thus created for herself ad hoc clothes that fused skirts and corset or prosthetic leg and boot, and accommodated her misshapen, asymmetrical legs (as a result of which, she wore long, traditional Tehuana dresses to conceal her lower body). She painted on her body casts (one of them has the Communist hammer and sickle on it).

After Kahlo’s death in 1954, her husband Diego Rivera shut her belongings in a bathroom at their Mexico City home, the Blue House, the marvelous house they shared—and then insisted that it be locked up until 15 years after his death (which, in the event, happened in 1957). In fact, the room wasn’t opened until 2004, when Ishiuchi Miyako was given permission to photograph its intimate contents. The photographs will be on display at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London from May 14 through July 12.

The best thing that could happen to the Internet right now would be for Etsy to become infected with Kahlo’s distinctive clothing aesthetic. This is a style icon!

Cats-eye glasses

Full body cast/skirt
More of Frida’s fashion, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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