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David Bowie punks the art world, 1998
07.14.2016
11:43 am

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David Bowie and art critic Matthew Collings at the the launch party for William Boyd’s book on Nat Tate, 1998. Jeff Koons is in the background.
 
This week it was announced that David Bowie’s private art collection will be revealed to the public for first time, in an exhibition to be held at Sotheby’s in London starting July 20 as well as other locations. An auction of the works is expected eventually.

The collection of Bowie, who passed away this January, was held in high regard and included notable works by Damien Hirst, Henry Moore, Gilbert & George, and Patrick Caulfield. One of the most prized items in the collection is a 1984 canvas by Jean-Michel Basquiat called Air Power, which is expected to fetch in excess of $2 million at auction.

Bowie is said to have had excellent taste in art, which makes perfect sense. The occasion of an exhibition and auction of Bowie’s art holdings is also a reminder of a curious episode from the late 1990s when Bowie totally punked the New York City art world.

In 1998 Bowie joined the editorial board of a magazine called Modern Painters, and he also set up a publishing company called 21 that would focus on art books. One of 21’s first books was a volume by noted novelist William Boyd (Brazzaville Beach, The Blue Afternoon) celebrating an artist whose life had been cut short with the title Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928-1960. You can buy that book today on Amazon.
 

 
Nat Tate was born in 1928 in New Jersey; his father was absentee, and his mother died in a car accident when Tate was eight years old. His mother had worked as a maid for a wealthy family in Long Island—upon the death of Tate’s mother her employers adopted the child. Tate studied under Hans Hofmann in the late 1940s and became part of the abstract art scene in New York in the early 1950s. Tate was an alcoholic who was obsessed with the work of Georges Braque. In early 1960 Tate committed suicide by jumping off the Staten Island Ferry. Somewhat like Franz Kafka had intended, Tate had a tendency to destroy his own work, and left little in the way behind for audiences to appreciate.

Trouble was, there never was any such artist as Nat Tate. Boyd, with a key assist from Bowie, had made him up. A lot of people took the bait, and claimed to remember exhibitions of Tate’s that had never happened. People should have given more thought to Boyd’s profession of novelist.
 

William Boyd
 
It was a thoroughly successful literary, or artistic hoax, à la Sidd Finch or Ern Malley. It’s also a bit reminiscent of a hoax of 2006, in which British art students invented a German noise rock band from the 1970s named Lustfaust—we covered that one here.

Boyd delivered a hifalutin justification for the prank, saying, “I’d been toying with the idea of how things moved from fact to fiction, and I wanted to prove something fictive could prove factual.” But it’s pretty obvious that the primary motivation was that it’s fun to catch a lot of supposed art experts out on their own terrain. Also, it’s just fun to concoct fake footnotes and stuff like that:
 

Much of the illusion was created in the details, the footnotes and in getting the book published in Germany to make it look like an authentic art monograph. ... I went to a lot of trouble to get things right. I created the “surviving” artworks that were featured in the illustrations and spent ages hunting through antique and junk shops for photos of unknown people, whom I could caption as being close friends and relatives.

 
Gore Vidal (in on the joke) supplied a suitably gushing pullquote for the cover. Picasso’s biographer, John Richardson, gave them a bogus anecdote:
 

Vidal allowed himself to be quoted in the book saying, ‘Tate was essentially dignified, though always drunk and with nothing to say,’ while Richardson told of how Tate had been having lunch with Picasso when he came to visit. It was these details that made it. People stopped wondering why they hadn’t heard of Tate when Vidal, Picasso and Richardson started appearing.

 
At the launch party for Boyd’s book on Tate, which was pointedly held on April 1, 1998, David Lister, arts editor for the Independent at the time who was also in on the hoax, spent the event asking guests for their reminiscences about Tate. Curiously, a fair number vividly remembered attending a retrospective of his in the late 1960s.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Cleveland braces for the Republican National Convention with a rude coloring book
07.13.2016
04:57 pm

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Art
Politics

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Trump emulating King Kong on Cleveland’s landmark, Terminal Tower
 
I moved to Cleveland three years ago, and as a Cleveland resident, I think of the impending Republican National Convention, which hits the city next week, with a substantial amount of dread and foreboding. Cleveland has been gearing up for this event for many, many months, and the news that Donald Trump’s odious political platform has given a great many prominent Republicans cause to spend the week elsewhere is a bit of a bummer for the city’s powers that be.

Of course, Cleveland is a solidly Democratic city, and so it’s going to be bizarre to have Trump and his cohorts here all week. It’s hard not to entertain visions of liberal protesters being beaten down by riot police or violence-prone Trump supporters. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that liberal activists will see that the better part of valor is to let Trump hang himself on his own idiocy and not play to his supporters’ worst instincts, but I do understand the impulse to register dissent on the ghastly policies Trump would impose.

The bulk of the week’s activity kicks off on Sunday night, for a massive opening night party at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center on Sunday, and will conclude with Trump’s speech on Thursday night—hopefully with a minimum of damage to human tissue and inanimate property. I’ve heard countless friends tell me that they’re going to “stay away from downtown” all week, and I certainly intend to follow suit.

Cleveland Scene is the city’s leading alt-weekly, and this week they ran several pages of a would-be “Republican National Convention coloring book” that features various Republican, ah, “dignitaries” (Trump, Cruz, Christie, etc.) juxtaposed with Cleveland sites such as the oversized FREE stamp in Willard Park, the weekend hangout known as Whiskey Island, and the “Guardians of Traffic” on the Hope Memorial Bridge.
 

Ted Cruz, a.k.a. the Zodiac Killer, making friends on the shores of Lake Erie
 

Trump enjoying his update to Claes Oldenburg’s iconic FREE stamp
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Disney presents Cannibal Holocaust on VHS’ and other killer fan-art mashups
07.13.2016
09:19 am

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Art
Movies

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Collecting horror and exploitation films on the VHS format has become a huge deal in the past five years with several Facebook collector groups popping up, newsworthy lists of tapes that fetch hundreds of dollars on the open-market, and the excellent documentary film Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story Of The VHS Collector covering the obsession.

Graphic artist and collector Bobais B Borris has been making waves in the VHS collector community recently with his fan-art mash-ups of classic classic VHS box art and reimaginings of modern film art, had they been released in the VHS era.
 

 
Borris has created a series of, in his words, “silly mockups” of the most notorious films in the world—had they been released in the VHS era by Disney. There’s just something hilariously unsettling about seeing the Disney logo above Cannibal Holocaust or Pink Flamingos.

Borris runs Afraid of the Basement, which is a fanzine, website, and video label. The fanzine covers “dark and freak culture,” highlighting subjects like goth and deathrock music, occultism, history, extreme film, and esoteric art.

Borris started AOTB Video about two years ago, beginning with making custom VHS covers for modern horror films like The Babadook, The Conjuring, Curse of Chucky, Noroi: The Curse, and other films that he wanted for his own VHS collection. He found a market in that and it began to take off. Borris started licensing actual films about a year ago, mostly concentrating on obscure live music and documentaries. As of this article he’s licensed about seventeen official releases, as well as over 100 custom fan art mock-ups including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Deadpool among various others. His most popular fan art releases, however, have been the series of faux Disney films that have found their way all across the Internet.

Borris’ art is available on his Instagram page, @afraidofthebasement, while his official licensed releases are available for purchase along with his custom poster designs on the website www.afraidofthebasement.com.
 

 

 
Plenty more after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
People face-swapping with their own tattoos = high-test nightmare fuel
07.13.2016
08:32 am

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Amusing
Art
Science/Tech

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The Face Swap filter on the Snapchat smartphone app does exactly what it says on the box—exchanges two faces within a photo, or with a face in another photo in your phone’s picture library, all within the app, no need for any image editing experience. For an automated photo filter for phones, it can actually do a decent enough job, and the results are invariably highly weirding. Even if you don’t use Snapchat you’ve surely seen the filter’s output on your Facebook feed. It’s mostly goofy fun for normals—Snapchat is, after all, a social media platform based entirely around selfies—but I’ve seen it done creatively and disturbingly with pets, toys, and amusingly, inanimate objects the app has mistaken for a face.

But the most messed up expression of the fad yet has to be people face-swapping with their own tattoos, and the more rudimentary, abstract, or just plain bad the tattoo, it seems, the crazier the result. The pics below were culled from features on tattoodo and inkedmag, where you’ll find more like this.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Diabolical dioramas depict murderous clowns, tiny cannibals and their unfortunate victims
07.12.2016
11:20 am

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‘Problem Solved.’ A ‘Dieorama’ by artist Abigail Goldman. Pictured with a dime to show scale.
 
In 2012 the violently awesome dioramas of Bellingham, Washington-based Abigail Goldman, the artist behind “My Wife Makes Dioramas” made the rounds on the Internets and a lot of people dug the dark concepts featuring little plastic people being chopped up into bits by clowns or dismembered by cannibals just in time for dinner. In other words, Miss Goldman is fantastic.
 

Cannibal pool party. Groovy!
 
If you somehow missed the first round of Goldman’s blood-splattered dioramas then you’re in luck as a couple of weeks ago several new dioramas were uploaded to the My Wife Makes Dioramas Imgur site and boy, it was worth the wait as there is all kinds of mayhemic bad shit going on including MORE AXE WIELDING CLOWNS! From what I understand you can actually purchase Goldman’s bloody dioramas by contacting her over at her amusingly titled website “DIEORAMA.”

If you’re planning on being in San Francisco in next month you can see some of Goldman’s works in person at the Hashimoto Contemporary August 4th - the 27th. Images of Goldman’s gruesome minuscule murder scenes follow (along with some of her past work that I had to include) and are somewhat NSFW. But you knew that when I said the words “murderous clowns,” didn’t you?
 

 

 
More murderous mayhem in miniature after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Donald Trump meets ‘Calvin and Hobbes’
07.12.2016
09:45 am

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I really didn’t want to like this. I’m 100% in line with the consensus that the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes is a transcendent and perfect work of art that will resonate for as long as there are imaginative children and adults who wish to reactivate that magic. Detourning, parodying, or otherwise fucking with it is done at one’s peril. So that being said, it’s pretty astonishing that this worked: An imgur user and obvious MST3K fan going by the name DrForester has shared a baker’s dozen Calvin and Hobbes strips wherein Calvin’s face is replaced with Donald Trump’s.

The effect is spot-on. Strips selected typically show Calvin at his most toxically self-centered, making them perfect fodder for the bottomlessly loudmouthed and narcissistic GOP presidential candidate, though the strips have a more sophisticated vocabulary than your typical Trump stump. I checked a few random selections from the detourned strips against the originals, and in the ones I was able to find readily for comparison, the original strips’ dialogue bubbles are entirely untouched. Compare the lead image at the top of this post to the original:
 

 
DrForester doesn’t seem to be the strips’ creator, but rather an aggregator—there’s a Reddit thread full of these that dates back to last winter, and the oldest I found—the one above—was uploaded by a user named eucalyptusfire. A lot of them are simply uncanny in their reflection of Trump’s ethos.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Artist creates analog printer to make a giant alphabet out of bird poop
07.11.2016
12:02 pm

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Amusing
Animals
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I had zebra finches growing up, and while they were sweet little birds, they had two major drawbacks—the after-hours chirping, and all the pooping. The chirping you could remedy with a towel over the cage. Regardless of the hour, any light on and they were under the impression they had to greet the morning dawn, but darken the cage and they’d shut up. There was no remedy to the pooping however, so you simply accepted that when you took them out to play, sometimes you were going to get bird shit on you, a small price to pay to have them cheerfully hop up and down your arm.

Artist Fabrizio Lamoncha has managed to actually utilize the talents of the zebra finch, with his Poo Printer, an enclosure with letter-shaped perches that encourage the finches to shit a sort of crude calligraphy. In Lamoncha’s own words:
 

A group of male zebra finches underwent this experiment with rigorous commitment. The author/captor, taking the role of some kind of 1984´s Big brother, is providing the implementation guidelines for the transformation of this countercultural attitude into a marketable artsy product. The observation of this group of non-breeding birds in captivity and the experimentation with induced behaviors has been rigorously documented for this task. This project researches in a hybrid, artistic and scientific framework the physiological, mechanical and social dynamics of birds under captivity in a simulated factory-chain environment.

The result is the Poo Printer, an analog generative typography printer using the bird-poo as the particle substance in order to slowly generate the Latin alphabet characters over a large paper roll.

 

 

 
A time-lapse video of the Poo Printer in action, after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Disturbingly beautiful sculptures created with discarded doll parts
07.11.2016
11:30 am

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Art

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An up-close look at a sculpture made from discarded doll parts by Freya Jobbins.
 
Referring to herself as a “plastic surgeon” of sorts, Australia-based artist and sculptor Freya Jobbins uses pieces of dolls and other toys to create eerie human looking faces, busts and figures that appear to be holding themselves together with their own inanimate plastic parts.
 

 
Unlike many of her artistically inclined peers Jobbins didn’t start out as an artist and after figuring out that being a policewoman wasn’t as much fun as Angie Dickinson made it look, she decided to go back to school and graduated with a major in both printmaking and sculpture in 2004. Jobbins collects her materials from second-hand sources and her thought-provoking works conjure up a full range of responses from fascination to fear.

Here’s Jobbins’ own take on her compelling sculptures:

I am interested in generating a range of responses to existing cultural objects, which have been placed out of context. The irony of my plastic works is that I take a material that was created to be touched, and I make it untouchable as an artwork.

Jobbins’ choice of materials help reinforce the importance of reuse and recycling—something the artist takes very seriously not only when it comes to her line of work but also in her life. Jobbins even donates her unused doll hair to a friend—a weaver who uses the materials for her own creative pursuits.
 

 

 
More of Jobbins’ dazzling and disturbing works follow after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Tiny Andy Warhol-themed vinyl toys
07.11.2016
09:59 am

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Art
Design

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Here’s a delightful Andy Warhol-themed series of Dunny figures by Kidrobot. I’m sure most of you already know this, but if not, a Dunny is a type of vinyl art toy created by Paul Budnitz and Tristan Eaton and produced by Kidrobot. They’ve been in production since 2004 and are widely traded.

According to the Kidrobot website, each Dunny comes packaged in a blind box style “so each and every box is an incredible and creative surprise!” (And if you want to “collect ‘em all” this also means you’ll inevitably have lots of duplicate “traders.”

Each quantity equals one blind box. To order a case pack, please order a quantity of 20 units. 

The first 50 people to order a case pack (20 units) will receive a special Limited Edition Gift with Purchase Warhol Dunny! Customer Service will not be able to tell you if you are one of the first 50 orders nor will you be notified if you are one of the first 50 people. You will simply receive the gift with purchase in your order.

I’m blogging about this a little late, so you’re probably not going to be one of the first 50 people. However, there’s a slight chance I could be wrong.


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Anatomical studies of Spider-Man, mermaids, and more (NSFW)
07.08.2016
01:46 pm

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Animals
Art

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Walmor Corrêa is a Brazilian artist whose work has appeared in exhibitions in his native Brazil as well as Spain, Belgium, Germany, Uruguay, Ecuador, Austria, Chile, Argentina, the United States, and South Africa.

In two series of artworks, “Super-Heróis” (2005) and “Memento Mori” (2007), Corrêa endeavored to capture some ideas about the anatomy of superheroes and other figures of myth, including a cyclops (“Curupira”), a mermaid (“Ondina”), and Marvel’s Spider-Man.

His art is done somewhat in the style of Leonardo da Vinci but also are reminiscent of the incredible images in the Codex Seraphinianus, which, if you haven’t read it, is utterly astonishing. “Memento Mori” was actually published as a book.

However, to his credit Corrêa’s work doesn’t seem derivative of either of those sources, just somewhere in the same corner of a strange universe.

Any anatomical studies, even cryptozoological ones, have a whiff of the NSFW about them, and these are no exception.
 

 

 
More after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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