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‘Swimming through a diamond’ with artist Bridget Riley
02.27.2014
10:34 am
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Bridget Riley did not like her paintings being labeled as Op Art, as they were not some kind of visual trick, but the artist’s response to the pure visual beauty of life.

“Looking is a pleasure, a continual surprise that might seem too trivial an aim, but pleasure is at one end of a scale that runs up to joy.

Sight, the activity of looking, helps us to be more truthfully aware of the condition of being alive.”

When Riley curated an exhibition of her work at the National Gallery, London in 2010, she surprised critics by juxtaposing her paintings with classical works of art by Jan Van Eyck (Portrait of a Man 1433), Mantegna (Introduction of the Cult of Cybele to Rome 1505-6), Raphael (Saint Catherine of Alexanderia 1507) and three studies by Seurat.
 
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Raphael’s ‘Saint Catherine’ (1507) with a detail from Riley’s ‘Red With Red’ (2007)
 
Riley was revealing her source materials from which she had abstracted elements of color, movement, pattern and shape to create her own paintings such as Arrest 3 (1965) or Red With Red (2007). 

Riley’s paintings create what she terms as an “activity” that comes out at the viewer, an experience that is suspended between the viewer and the canvas.

Her first awareness of this visual experience came when she was a child swimming off the coast of Cornwall, where “a glitter of bright sunlight and its tiny pinpoints of virtually black shadow” made her feel as though she was “swimming through a diamond.”

In this documentary by David Thompson, made for the Arts Council in 1979, Riley recalled another equally memorable experience.

“I remember one very hot summer, it was in the south of France, and I was climbing a hillside of broken shale, and the light was so strong that it dazzled. It seemed to come at me from all directions—it was beating down form above and beating back into my eyes at the same time. One lost all sense of focus, everything seemed to disintegrate in light, the landscape dissolved, it was like standing in a field of pure energy.”

 

 
More on Bridget Riley, plus a review of her National Gallery show, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.27.2014
10:34 am
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The early jazz album covers of Andy Warhol
02.26.2014
11:30 am
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Thelonious Monk, Monk, 1954
 
Before he became just about the most important person in the world in the 1960s, Andy Warhol made a living as a graphic designer. He did a whole slew of album covers and, as is well known, a good many book jackets as well. Often he enlisted his mom to write the scrawled text, as we saw in this delightful mock cookbook from 1959, her handwriting was his secret weapon until he made the silk screen his signature medium of choice.

For most of these albums, he was responsible for the drawing if not necessarily the layout. In the case of the Monk album above, we know it’s his mother’s handwriting and he may not have done the layout, so it’s unclear exactly how much credit he should get, but then again, that was more or less his method at The Factory!
 
Count Basie
Count Basie, s/t, 1955
 
Kenny Burrell
Kenny Burrell, Volume 2, 1956
 
Kenny Burrell
Kenny Burrell, Blue Lights, 1958
 
Artie Shaw
Artie Shaw and His Orchestra, Both Feet in the Groove, 1956
 
More work from Warhol’s “Blue Note period” after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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02.26.2014
11:30 am
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John Waters and Jeff Koons on good taste, bad taste and beyond taste
02.25.2014
04:12 pm
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Jeff Koons’ art really divides people. Some say his work is “crass” and all about the money—or that other people “do all the work”—but personally, I love his stuff. When you see it in person, the incredible amount of craftsmanship and just childlike wonder that his epic works inspire, well, they’re really impressive. And FUN.

Many of the most iconic pieces of Koons’ work normally reside within walking distance of where I am typing this now, at the BCAM annex of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The BCAM acronym stands for the Broad Contemporary Art Museum and billionaire art collector Eli and Edythe Broad are probably Koons’ single biggest benefactor/collectors (it’s not like there are all that many people who could afford to be his Medicis). When BCAM’s stunning Renzo Piano-designed building opened to the public—filled to the bursting point with some of the finest examples of postwar modern art that hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars can buy, the wife and I joined the museum. Some of the very, very best Warhols, Baldessaris, Rauschenbergs, Cindy Shermans, Hirsts, Ruschas, Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, etc, do not live in Manhattan, but in Los Angeles. My favorite things to look at when I’m at LACMA, though, are the Koons: At one point or another, BCAM has displayed the vacuum cleaners; the floating basketballs; the stainless-steel “Rabbit”; “Bubbles,” Koons’ infamous life-size porcelain sculpture of Michael Jackson and his pet chimp; a “Balloon Dog” and a “Cracked Egg.”

We’ve got the good stuff out here on the best coast. And last night, we had the artist himself in town, in a special discussion with “the Pope of Trash,” director John Waters—sponsored by Eli Broad’s foundation—at the stunning Orpheum Theatre in downtown. Waters was an inspired choice to interview Koons—aside from the whole bad taste/bad taste issues that make this pairing a natural, Koons actually went to art school in Baltimore, which figures into the conversation.

Referring to Koons’ art, at one point Waters remarks “It stops you in your tracks, and you feel stupid at first, and then you get smarter by the second as you look at it.”

Koons typifies his work as “optimistic.”

Oddly, he credits hearing Led Zeppelin for the first time—not a work of art per se—for spurring his ambition in life.

Posted by Richard Metzger
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02.25.2014
04:12 pm
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This is not origami: Beautiful hand-made paper birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera
02.25.2014
10:11 am
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Bogotá, Colombia’s Diana Beltrán Herrera is a sculptor who hand-crafts astonishing replicas of birds from paper. These sculptures are miles beyond origami. Via Amusing Planet:

Diana Beltran Herrera hand-makes the paper birds by building up layers to form the base structure, then glues on delicate feathers that are curled and splayed once attached. Wire legs are added and feathers are painted to make the models as realistic as possible. Each model takes from 5 days to 2 weeks to complete depending on size and complexity.

 

 
The mechanics are impressive, and the end results are truly lovely, but the birds represent to Herrera a way to address the disengagement of humanity from nature in an urban milieu. Here’s a pertinent passage from a recent Smithsonian interview.

“I had this knowledge of things living around me, but did I really know about them? I decided that it was time to play again, to rediscover the place where I was living.”

Herrera’s explorations began with birds. She observed local birds in her city of Bogotá and did Internet research on these species, identifying them and learning about their behavior and habitat. The artist also met with members of an ornithology group that provided more information.

“I discovered that I was living in a city full of nature, but somehow the traffic and modernism never allowed me to see what was living in there,” says Herrera. “With time,  I started to find those plants, animals and life in general and felt astonished about each single thing, but the most recurrent animal was always the bird.”

Be sure to have a look at her projects page to see some of her stunning commission work, but first, enjoy these fantastic images. If you like what you see, and will be in Berlin this spring, Herrera will be participating in this year’s Pictoplasma Festival.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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02.25.2014
10:11 am
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Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s ‘Oblique Strategies,’ the original handwritten cards
02.24.2014
05:36 pm
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Oblique Strategies
 
The concept behind Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies, a set of 115 cards with elliptical imperatives designed to spark in the user creative connections unobtainable through regular modes of work, is now a commonplace. Every Barnes & Noble sells kits for breaking writer’s block—hell, you can even buy them in the form of playing dice with questionably useful words like “REDEEM” and “TRAP” on them. In 1974, when the original Oblique Strategies set was developed, it was a more radical intervention with roots in Eastern philosophy.

In his college years Eno was fascinated by the Fluxus movement. Oblique Strategies was almost certainly inspired by George Brecht’s 1962 Fluxus work “Drip Music”:
 

George Brecht produced this thing called “Watermelon” or “Yam Box” or something like that. It was a big box of cards of all different sizes and shapes, and each cards had instructions for a piece on …  All of the cards had cryptic things on them, like one said, “Egg event—at least one egg.” Another said, “Two chairs. One umbrella. One chair.” They were all like that, but the drip event one said, “Erect containers such that water from other containers drips into them.” That was the score, you see. I did a simple one which won an award.

 
Meanwhile, Peter Schmidt, a German composer and painter, had recently finished a project involving 64 paintings inspired by the I Ching.
 
Peter Schmidt and Brian Eno
Peter Schmidt and Brian Eno, London, ca. 1977
 

The cards had instructions like, “Honour thy error as a hidden intention” and “Remember those quiet evenings.” Here are some (not all) of the original cards. Both the cursive and the block print are Eno’s handwriting.
 
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Sets of the cards have been available since the 1970s. The first four editions are out of print and collector’s items (and priced to match). The 5th edition is currently available from Eno’s website for £30 (about $50). In 2013 a limited 6th edition of 500 numbered sets were available but quickly sold out.

The following account comes from Brian Eno: Visual Music by Christopher Scoates:
 

Unlike the Fluxus scores that Eno had used years earlier, which were essentially directives for performance, the Oblique Strategies cards were idea-generating tools and tactics designed to break routine thinking patterns. While born of a studio context, Oblique Strategies translated equally well to the music studio. For Eno, the instructions provided an antidote in high-pressure situations in which impulse might lead one to default quickly to a proven solution rather than continue to explore untested possibilities: “Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation—particularly in studios—tended to make me quickly forget that there were other ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach.”

In fact, while producing David Bowie’s album Heroes (1977), Eno and Bowie used Oblique Strategies on the song “Sense of Doubt.” They each picked a card but didn’t reveal its content. “It was like a game,” Eno recalled. “We took turns working on it; he’d do one overdub and I’d do the next. . . . As it turned out they were entirely opposed to one another. Effeciively mine said, ‘Try to make everything as similar as possible,’ and his said ‘Emphasize differences.’”

 
1977 “Sense of Doubt” video directed by Stanley Dorfman and reworked by Peter Wachsman:
 

Brian Eno discusses the Oblique Strategies cards with Jarvis Cocker in a 2010 BBC Radio 6 interview:
 

 
via William Caxton Fan Club (i.e. John Darnielle’s Tumblr)

Posted by Martin Schneider
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02.24.2014
05:36 pm
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The Cuddlification of Cthulhu
02.21.2014
05:09 pm
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Cthulhu leggings from Ali Express

After endless weeks of snow, ice, and subzero temperatures, the clear, starry winter sky makes a girl’s thoughts turn to one thing: H.P. Lovecraft.

In the manner of people who like to kit themselves out with ducks, spouting whales, pink flamingos, or lucky cats, it is possible to dress head to toe in Cthulhu-themed clothing, jewelry, and accessories. Not to mention all those Cthulhu tea cosies, car decals, window stickers, class rings, Jello molds, and holiday decorations.

Some of these items are downright cute, an adjective never used by Lovecraft in his Cthulhu mythos. The cuddlification of Cthulhu drives a lot of people…well, mad. He’s supposed to inspire mind-fucking fear, not make you want to snuggle him as a plush toy or wear him as a comfy accessory! Still, Geek Crafts is why some of us learned handicrafts.

Cthulhu charm bracelet
 
Stuart Williams’ Lovecraftian Charm Bracelet


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Stuart Williams’ Cthulhu Medallion Necklace


cthulhu scarf ravelry
 
Cthulhu Scarf knitting pattern from Merelen’s Knits on Ravelry


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Crocheted Cthulhu scarf from Humphreys Handmade
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Kimberly J. Bright
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02.21.2014
05:09 pm
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Alternate universe movie posters
02.20.2014
12:48 pm
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Sean Hartter’s “Alternate Universe Movie Posters” website boasts some bust-a-gut funny twists on classic films. I selected a few pieces I found highly amusing, but I suggest moseying on over to Sean’s website yourself to… “take it all in.”


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley
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02.20.2014
12:48 pm
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Riot Grrill: Take a bite out of the patriarchy
02.19.2014
01:33 pm
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Although certain things are especially resistant to mainstream co-option, capitalism is always gonna try…

A guest cartoon from artist Derek Erdman. He’s got tons of neat stuff to buy at his webstore. (We have one of his paintings, “Fortunate Teens Party With Morrissey, 1994” hanging in the Dangerous Minds office.)

If you are a resident of Seattle, WA, Derek wants to gift you with a free drawing of Carol Channing.

Below, Don’t Need You: The Herstory of Riot Grrrl:

Posted by Tara McGinley
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02.19.2014
01:33 pm
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Domestikia: The gorgeously surreal animation of Jennifer Linton
02.19.2014
11:09 am
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There is always something wonderfully exciting about the serendipity of the Internet. Whilst looking for pictures of Jayne Mansfield, I happened across Jennifer Linton’s blog (Lady Lazarus: dying is an art. Musings on the macabre), which in turn led me to her fabulous artwork and these beautifully surreal stop-frame animations, Domestikia.

Linton describes herself as “an interdisciplinary visual artist working with new media, animation, drawing and printmaking.” She has exhibited her artworks in the America, Italy, and across Canada, and says Domestikia is:

A tale of love, betrayal and one vengeful butterfly. This project was inspired by the surreal animations of Lenica, Borowyck and Svankmajer, Japanese tentacle erotica, and those strange, middle-of-the-night dreams one has after spicy food.

Certainly dreamlike, these animations cling long after viewing. Check out Jennifer Linton’s fantastic artworks here. They might not all be “safe for work,” as they say…
 

Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.19.2014
11:09 am
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Beautiful artwork drawn with fire on skulls
02.19.2014
10:58 am
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Peter Deligdisch is just this guy, you know? He likes drawing lines, coloring things in, burning wood, and short, insignificant walks on the beach.

There’s nothing I love quite like an understated artist’s statement. Under the name “Peter Draws,” Deligdisch creates ink drawings of surpassing intricacy, some of which could easily pass as engravings. But what I’m sharing today is his pyrography, which is as it sounds—drawings made with fire. With woodburning tools, Deligdisch creates gorgeous, labyrinthine drawings on animal skulls.
 

 

 

 

 
More of Peter Deligdisch’s work after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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02.19.2014
10:58 am
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