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Miniature versions of punks and pop culture idols made of peanuts
12:00 pm



Nirvana peanut art
One inch versions of Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic of Nirvana made from peanuts
Artist Steve Casino’s creations are as cool as his name. Made from the entire contents and outer pod of the peanut, Casino’s tiny works of art can take up to 20 hours for him to complete.
A scene from John Waters' Crybaby made of peanuts
Hatchet-Face, “Cry-Baby” Wade Walker, and Milton Hackett from John Waters’ Cry-Baby
Breaking Bad peanut art
Walter White and Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad
Alfred Einstein peanut art
Albert Einstein
Johnny and June Carter Cash peanut art
Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash
Casino also uses other materials to complete his figures, such as bamboo or wood, then fills the shell with foam to ensure the nut doesn’t crack. He uses acrylic paint to bring his peanuts to life, and the results are nothing short of magical. Especially given the fact that his salty subjects are only one to four inches tall. Casino, a self-described “toy inventor” says his tiny celebrity nutjobs will run you anywhere from $130 to $230.
Picasso peanut art
Lydon and Sid Sex Pistol peanut art
Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Andy Warhol luxury surfboards
08:35 am

Pop Culture


Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol portrait surfboards
Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol portrait surfboards

By some strange twist of fate in 1968, the paths of eleven-year-old surfer Tim Bessell and pop art phenomenon Andy Warhol, intersected in La Jolla, California where Warhol was filming San Diego Surf.
Brillo surfboard
Brillo surfboard (based on Andy Warhol’s mid-sixties work, “Brillo Boxes”)
The Last Supper Andy Warhol surfboard, Series One
The Last Supper surfboard (from “The Last Supper” series by Andy Warhol, 1986)
Although the film would go unseen for 43 years, Bessell had the unique opportunity to observe Warhol and his muses up close during his formative years. According to Bessell, Warhol lived only two blocks away from him during his time filming in La Jolla and that the artist himself even ended up purchasing surfboards from Carl Ekstrom (the inventor of the asymmetric surfboard and snowboard), who was mentoring Bessel at the time.

Too young to understand the sudden culture explosion surrounding him, Bessell was content to be a curious observer, but the experience would go on to help frame his future as an artist. After graduating with degrees in Art and Architecture from San Diego State University, Bessell and Warhol found themselves rubbing shoulders once again at a mid-80’s party at the Playboy Club in New York. Bessell shared his childhood recollections of when Warhol’s “freak show” invaded his sleepy, hippie surf town during the Summer of Love. He says that this chance meeting “opened his relationship” with Warhol and ultimately led to his collaboration with The Andy Warhol Foundation for a decadent line of surfboards, all bearing Warhol’s unmistakable artwork.
Marilyn Monroe surfboards
“Marilyn” (Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe done in the weeks after her death in 1962)
Elvis (silver tone) and Gun Metal Elvis surfboards
“Elvis” (silver tone) and “Gun Metal Elvis” surfboards (based on “Double Elvis” by Andy Warhol, 1963)
Chairman Mao Zegong surfboard
“Mao Zedong” surfboard (from a series of portraits of Mao done by Andy Warhol in 1973)
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Beautiful color Autochrome portraits by Alfred Stieglitz 1910-15
07:58 am



Photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) has been described as “perhaps the most important figure in the history of visual arts in America.” During his fifty year career, Stieglitz produced some 2,500 mounted photographs, of which 1,642 are held by the National Gallery in Washington, DC as significant works of art.

Stieglitz said photography allowed him to “see straight,” a passion through which he divined “a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”

Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1864, Stieglitz was the son of German-Jewish emigrants. His father was a highly successful businessman, who eventually sold his company for a vast profit in 1881 and moved his family back to Germany. Alfred enrolled in school before deciding to study engineering at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin. During his time at the technical college, Alfred bought his first camera and started taking photographs. When his parents returned to America in 1884, he opted to stay on and continue with his newly found interest in photography.

Over the next decade, he quickly established a reputation as a photographer. Stieglitz was fortunate that he came from a wealthy family, as photography was not cheap and was mainly the pastime—or occasionally the profession—of the upper classes. On return to New York in 1891, his father realized Alfred had no intention of abandoning his interest in photography and therefore bought his son a small photographic business to encourage him in making his passion a career. However, Alfred was no businessman—he overpaid his staff and spent a small fortune on new photographic techniques—but the experience proved vital in developing his talent and reputation as a photographer.

Stieglitz also wrote about photography for various photographic magazines and was elected head of the early photographic society the Brotherhood of the Linked Ring—an organization whose main objective was to have photography recognized as an art form. He also joined the Camera Club of New York—a seeding ground for some of America’s greatest photographers. His work with the Camera Club led to a breakdown in his health, however, and by January 1903, Stieglitz had launched his next project—a photographic magazine Camera Work. In its first issue, Stieglitz stated the magazine’s intent that the magazine would only publish photographs that showed:

...evidence of individuality and artistic worth, regardless of school, or contains some exceptional feature of technical merit, or such as exemplifies some treatment worthy of consideration, will find recognition in these pages. Nevertheless, the Pictorial will be the dominating feature of the magazine.

Now with a family (wife Emmy, daughter Katherine “Kitty”) and a magazine to manage, Stieglitz was living well beyond his means. Still, photography remained his all-consuming passion. As part of experiment to prove that photography could be as valid and as artistic as painting, Stieglitz embarked on a series of images that was to define his career—most notably the photo “The Steerage”, which depicted lower deck passengers on a steamer voyaging from New York to Germany. While in Europe during this time, Stieglitz heard of a new color process marketed by the Lumière brothers in France beginning in 1907. The Autochrome Lumière allowed photographers to take color pictures through use of a glass plate coated with microscopic grains of potato starch dyed red-orange, green, and blue-violet that serve as color filters.

Returning to New York, Stieglitz began to take his own Autochrome portraits, starting with his family (daughter Kitty pictured above) and friends.
More of Stieglitz’s Autochromes after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘It’s the exact same duck! I am furious!’: Massive ‘counterfeit’ rubber duckie enrages artist
07:22 am



If you’ve been on the Internet at all over the last, say, year, you may remember seeing pictures of a giant inflatable duck, bobbing in the ocean in various ports around the world. The whimsical piece is the work of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, who intended it as an environmental statement about the earth’s waters (sort of a “Planet Bathtub” kind of thing). However, one thing Hofman feels we do not share is the right to giant floating ducks! Now Hofman doesn’t build his ducks, he just sends drawings of the duck to whoever wants to build one themselves, so when the Tall Ships festival in Los Angeles ordered his “plans” last year (plans they maintain were just untechnical sketches), they probably assumed they could reuse it in the Philadelphia Tall Ships festival the following year.

Not so, says Hofman, who fumed:

“I was shocked. They don’t have permission to show my duck again. And they are charging money for tickets. I want this rubber duck for the whole world to see. It is sad. They make it into this joke, but the rubber duck is not a joke. It is serious artwork which connects all people in the world.”

On top of all of that—they’re not even using the same duck, but have constructed a second in Philadelphia. This only made Hofman angrier (“It’s the exact same duck! I am furious.”), but to be fair, some of his anger appears to be related to a late payment from the Los Angeles Tall Ships festival.

It’s all a bit absurd to me, probably because I just don’t think “big duck” is so conceptually unique as to merit such a sense of artistic ownership, even by the strictest definitions of intellectual property. And really, if anyone is being ripped off here, isn’t it the original rubber duckie toy innovator, Peter Ganine, who patented his “upcapsizeable duck” in 1949?!? (Yeah, that’s right. I looked up the history of rubber duckies.)

Regardless, I invite you to gaze upon the original and the impostor, side by side. Place your bets!

So which mock duck is the real deal? If you guessed the left duck, congratulations; you are an aesthete with a trained eye and refined tastes. However, if you guessed the right duck, you’re a vulgar philistine and a rube, doomed to be fooled by charlatans, art forgers and snake oil salesmen all your life!

This duck controversy is getting press just after artist Richard Prince made tens of thousands of dollars a pop selling prints of other peoples’ Instagram shots—since they were altered just slightly, the work is considered “transformative,” and therefor legal (if not terribly ethical or artistically creative). So if you have an Instagram account and you think your work can be monetized, watermark that shit!

But if you make giant ducks… maybe lighten the hell up?

More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘The Filth & the Fury’: Sex Pistols comic from 1984
07:12 am



Milestones on the road from terrifying societal scourge to mass-market-friendly cultural icons…. In 1984 Smash Hits put out a “yearbook” that contained this wonderful 4-page comic about the entire career of the Sex Pistols, from their origins in 1975 Chelsea to their final show in San Francisco in 1979. [Update: This was in 1978, of course; the comic had it wrong as well.] Flickr user Jon Hicks posted these a few years back—as he points out, the strip has no profanity at all.

The comic is signed by Arthur Ranson, whose art graced countless publications from the early 1970s up through as recently as 2013. The writer is Angus Allan, whose image (according to the above link) appears bottom left of third page, but I haven’t been able to figure out what that’s supposed to mean. (Maybe they mean the fellow who pops up in the “EMI” panel of the second page?)

Click on the images for a larger view:





Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Nakamura Hiroshi’s absolutely brutal protest art against U.S. military in Japan
12:58 pm



“Gunned Down,” 1957
The paintings of Nakamura Hiroshi follow a tragic narrative.Trained as in political realism to do reportage painting, his work became highly stylized and surreal as he covered Japanese anti-military activism. There was a mass mobilization in the 1950s, particularly among Japanese students and unions, against the expansion of U.S. military presence, including massive bases. The painting you see above depicts the death of a woman who was fatally shot by an American soldier as she collected used bullet casings. The one below shows a protest against the extension of an airstrip over land confiscated from poor farmers. 

Hiroshi covered the protest movement diligently and loyally, even as a commercial failure who couldn’t afford canvases. His painting, “The Base,” now considered a masterpiece, was actually done on cheap wood, the grain of which gives the piece an ominous depth. However, as the conservative government took power and made major concessions to the Americans, Hiroshi began to despair. His paintings took on apocalyptic themes, with explosive imagery and lots of red, a reference to the firebombings that destroyed his hometown when he was twelve. Though the political inspiration for his work never won out, he lived to see it lauded by the critics, and went on to produce surreal work on a developed Japan.

“Sunagawa #5,” 1955

“Sunagawa #5” (detail)

“The Base,” 1957
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Brilliant fold-out ‘chutes and ladders’ cover for XTC’s ‘Making Plans for Nigel’ single
11:25 am



In 1979 XTC released their third album, Drums and Wires, which featured what would prove to be their second-most successful single, the Colin Moulding-penned “Making Plans for Nigel” (“Senses Working Overtime,” which came out three years later, charted slightly better). The content of the song sketched a familiar tale of a couple desirous that their son Nigel pursue a “future in a British steel” over any individualistic ambitions Nigel may have carved out for himself. The title phrase is so creepy that the song succeeds on little more than sarcastic repetitions of phrases like “Nigel is happy in his work.”

The first 20,000 pressings of the single came in a very special and very ambitious cover that folded out into a fully playable gameboard of Chutes and Ladders (or Snakes and Ladders, if you prefer) with the gameplay adapted to details of Nigel’s miserable life. Ingeniously, the gameboard was reproduced twice, one to be played by Nigel and the other to be played by his parents. The details of the game flesh out the narrative of Nigel with the purchase of a scooter, job interviews, a holiday in Spain, and an engagement to “a very nice girl,” to the point that it becomes something more like a short-story or an hour-long TV drama.

According to the back cover, the illustrations were by Steve Shotter and the sleeve by Cooke Key. I take that to mean that Key did the general concept and execution of the cover.

Here’s the full game board, cobbled together using separate scans of the different game areas—the different parts aren’t aligned perfectly, but they still read fine and you can still play the game successfully. Click on the image for a larger view.

The game was advertised in the September 6-19, 1979 issue of Smash Hits:

... and the October 4 issue featured a little item in which Andy Partridge explained the rules of the game (click for a larger view) under the title “Making Rules for Nigel”:

Here are the rules of the game written out, complete with additional information on Nigel and his overbearing parents.

Use two markers such as stones, pennies, buttons, etc. Decide who is to be Nigel and who is to be his parents.
If you have no dice use the spinner with a match through the centre.
The highest throw starts first. You then proceed along the course until you land on either a picture space, or an up or down space.
To finish the game you must land on 70 exactly. If you overthrow, you must go backwards by the remainder of numbers from 70.

5 parents insist you spend your pocket money on a suit for Sundays. Back 3 spaces (yawn).
9 You sell Dad’s old bike without him being told. Bit of money for the pictures. Have another throw (ting ting).
16 Parents phone up for job in bank and Dad drives you to the interview. No escaping. Miss a turn (zzzzz).
24 Your girlfriend offers to take you on holiday to Spain for a week. She’ll pay for everything. Move on 4 spaces (olé).
30 Mum and Dad decorate your room one day while you’re out. Mum rips up all your pop posters. Go back to 22.
39 Dad asks your advice on something (about time they listened to you - a good sign). Go on 2 spaces.
44 Big argument with parents. They refuse to keep you anymore, unless you accept the job they’ve found for you in the steel factory. Go back to 36 (swear).
56 Parents decide to go on holiday to Butlins without you (great eh!). Go on 4 spaces.
63 You fall in love with a girl who expects nothing of you other than to be yourself (how nice). Throw again.
66 You get in a real low mood and you need money to repair your scooter. The factory gates seem to loom nearer (gloom). Go back to 50.

5 Nigel spends his pocket money on a scooter. Back 3 spaces (vroom).
9 You find cigarettes in Nigel’s coat. You confiscate them (chuckle). Have another throw.
16 Nigel ill on day of job interview. He doesn’t particularly want to go anyway (drat!). Miss a turn.
24 A friend of the wife’s says she can get Nigel a job in her factory (respectable like). Move on 4 spaces.
30 Nigel brings home weird hippy girl for tea (too far out for the boy). Go back to 22.
39 You spot Nigel parting his hair (a good sign). Go on 2 spaces.
44 Big argument with Nigel. He refuses to accept the job you’ve found for him in the steel factory. Back to 26 (cuss).
56 Nigel agrees to take a Saturday job in a supermarket. Go on 4 spaces (stack stack).
63 Nigel announces his engagement to a very nice girl, who makes him take a nightshift job to save for their mortgage (poor Nigel). Throw again.
66 Wake up to find a note from Nigel. “Dear Mum and Dad, I’ve gone to sea. No factories for me (gasp).” Go back to 50.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The dopey paintings of Sylvester Stallone
08:09 am



“Finding Rocky”
You’ve only got two more days to do it, but if you’re reading this in Nice, France, and would like to see paintings by the muscular star of Rhinestone, Over the Top, and Stop! or My Mom Will Shoot, then hurry on over to the Galerie Contemporaine du Musée de Nice, which is currently mounting an exhibition of Stallone’s work called “Real Love: Paintings 1975-2015.” The show has been on since May 15 and ends May 30.

Look, I think Stallone gets a bad rap for being a dumb guy, he’s clearly a formidable fellow and more intelligent than it might at first appear. One of the things he’s gotten flak for in Hollywood is his apparent need to mess with the scripts of his movies (check out his voluminous screenwriting credits). That may make him an egomaniac or worse, but the criticism that he wants to write all of his movies isn’t consistent with his occasional depiction as an idiot.

I’m no art critic and I have little way of differentiating good art from bad. But… let’s see—subjects including boxing gloves, Rocky, Joan Crawford, some of it in a loosely abstract expressionist style and other parts vaguely conceptual (one of his paintings, “Backlash,” is half-painting, half-mirror)... I submit that if I told you that Stallone was a painter, this is exactly the type of stuff you’d expect out of him. He’s no better or no worse than Ronnie Wood, which is not necessarily a compliment.

“Behind the Mind”

“The Arena”

“Untitled (Michael Jackson)”
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Walking Dead’ and more reimagined as old VHS covers
08:41 am



French artist Julien Knez has whipped up a handful of delightful VHS covers for popular post-DVD-era TV series and movies like The Walking Dead or The Wolf of Wall Street. Anyone who was around in the early 1980s, when VHS tapes were first widely introduced to the market and cable TV dramatically expanded its audience will remember cheesy-ass covers just like these.

On his Instagram feed Timeless VHS, Knez has uploaded several of the lovingly re-created what-if VHS covers. As evidenced by the bottom picture in this post, Knez actually made these in real life, rather than just as Photoshop mockups. Unfortunately, he’s only done nine of the gorgeous covers, and hasn’t uploaded any since early April. We’d love to see more! 

Knez has done a truly remarkable job recreating the “magic” of a bulky, plastic VHS cassette cover that spent most of its time on a shelf in a store with a name like “Super Video Palace.” VHS distribution was a pretty bottom-up business (Hollywood had initially regarded home video as a threat to its movie theater business, and only belatedly embraced VHS as a second, thriving channel of distribution), and the puzzling array of companies represented in these covers (“Regal Video, Inc.”) is a spot-on evocation of the wild and woolly world of home video during that era.

Wired points out that the Gravity cover was inspired by the original VHS cover for the 1979 James Bond movie Moonraker, just as Interstellar apes the cover for the sultry 1980 classic starring Vanity known as La Bete d’Amour, and Game of Thrones is a reworking of the cover of 1983’s Yor, the Hunter from the Future.


More VHS covers after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Gigerstein’: The extraordinary guitar that H.R. Giger designed for Blondie’s Chris Stein
09:31 am



A few days ago VICE ran an interesting interview with Chris Stein of Blondie on the subject of his close friendship with the masterful Swiss artist H.R. Giger. Stein was heavily involved with Debbie Harry’s first solo album, KooKoo, for which Giger supplied the incredibly memorable cover art, with Harry’s face seemingly punctured by several large acupuncture needles.

Stein was very fond of Giger, who died about a year ago, calling him “a really sweet guy.” Stein said that he owns a throne that Giger designed: “It’s one of a very few in the country. The seat cushion rotted completely at one point and he gave me a second seat cushion, which is starting to rot. It was made from foam rubber.”

I was poking around on Stein’s own website dedicated to Blondie information when I spied a reference to “Gigerstein,” identified as follows: “Chris’ custom GIGERSTEIN guitar, designed with the help of H. R. Giger and Chris himself.” Sure enough, click on the link and you arrive at the web page for Lieber Guitars, which indeed has plenty of information and pics about this remarkable guitar.

According to the page,

The asymmetrical bio-mechanical body is hand carved in wood. It is adorned with carbon graphite, assorted biological materials and bronze castings.

The neck and six-fingered “peg-hand” comprise unidirectional carbon graphite fiber. A unique construction feature is the integral molding of the neck and fingerboard.

The Lieber Guitars page that highlights the instrument is a little vague on who actually designed this guitar. It would be enough for it to be “based on” the incredibly distinctive artworks of Giger, but if Giger had a hand in the design of the guitar itself, well, then that’s even better. Two consecutive sentences flesh out the details here: “After [Thomas] Lieber’s careful study of Giger’s artworks, the concept of using an Alien’s hand for the peg-head was realized and several body depictions were rendered.” Okay, so Lieber was on his own, it seems. But then we read on: “In an artistic meeting, Giger, Chris and Lieber hammered out the final modifications and details and the result is truly a work of art.” So it was mainly Lieber’s design but Giger definitely, according to the guitar maker, was involved in the process of creating this singular guitar.

More information as well as these pictures can be found at the Lieber Instruments website.


More looks at Gigerstein after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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