Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Work of Art: The Next Great Artist" : A Watch-Worthy Television Show

I know it's not an art text, but a recent Bravo television show has caught my interest (more than any art book I've read or heard about in the past few weeks), so I thought I'd deviate from the norm and discuss the new hit show.

"Reality Television" are two words that usually make me cringe. I am not entertained by wanna-be celebrities duking it out on a private island or trashy Jersyites documenting their days spent at the tanning salon and showing off their"Situations" on the boardwalk.

But, I do like to think of myself as open-minded, and as an art-lover, I felt the show deserved a chance. After watching two episodes of "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist" I eagerly await the third one (and the entire season for that matter). Similar to one of the few reality television shows I do watch, "Project Runway" (in which fashion designers compete in various elimination-style challenges for a chance to show their line at NY Fashion Week and a large cash prize), "Work of Art" started off with over a dozen hopeful contestants (artists with differing backgrounds, educations, art experience and artistic styles - ranging from representational to conceptual, etc) eager to show off their talents. "Work of Art" eliminates one artist each week, based on how they perform in the challenge (a time-sensitive, limited-resource, art-related task).

The fashionable actress, New Yorker, and self proclaimed art-enthusiast Sarah Jessica Parker is one the executive producers of "Work of Art," which will reward its winner with a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum along with a hefty $100,000 prize.

I like the non-snooty aspect of the show and the universal quality (you don't need to know much about art to understand, appreciate and enjoy "Work of Art"). The judges are honest and detailed in their critiques, which is refreshing (and educational). Famed art critic Jerry Saltz is a judge, along with China Chow (who's also the show's host), Bill Powers and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn. Simon de Pury, chairman of the world-renowned auction house Phillips de Pury and Company, acts as the mentor for the contestants, giving them feedback as they create in the studio (if you watch "Project Runway," consider Simon the Tim Gunn of "Work of Art").

In all, the show is engaging (I shout out my thoughts and nod in agreement along with the judges as if I'm one of them), the characters are intriguing (I'm rooting for the OCD installation artist, Miles) and the art is diverse and unique (which to me, shows that the weekly challenges are well thought out and broad enough to allow for many different interpretations).

Check it out on Bravo, Wednesdays at 10pm Central Time.

See what the NY Times has to say about "Work of Art"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo

San Francisco's unique Mission District, a haven for street art - and art in general for that matter, contains the world's largest concentration of public paintings. The vibrant Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo (Annice Jacoby) explores and showcases the district's street art - an array of boldly painted images and murals that embody and embrace activism, culture, passion and the desire for social change.

During the early 1970s the city's legendary Mission District transformed into an art epicenter - crossing popular culture, fine art, and political audiences. "Mission Muralismo," as the movement is termed, is an ongoing and ever-changing movement that combines elements of Mexican mural painting, surrealism, pop art, urban punk, eco-warrior, cartoon and guerilla graffiti that has catapulted many San Francisco artists into the spotlight of the international art world.

The book, which features over 500 full-color photographs, also contains in-depth commentary by artists who have been part of "Mission Muralismo" and that of Mission-savvy writers. The 30 essays expose the 3+ decades of the expansive public art movement of San Francisco. Among others, R. Crumb, Shepard Fairey, Swoon, Barry McGee (TWIST), Rigo and Spain Rodriguez, have commented on street art and the movement in Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo. Additionally, the book contains a forward by Grammy Award Winner Carlos Santana, who states,

"The whole Mission neighborhood is a massive public artwork, both sacred and profane, brimming with graff and goddesses."

Click here to buy the book

Click here to see what's going on in San Francisco's dynamic art scene

Friday, April 2, 2010

Going Gaga for Lady Gaga

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, AKA Lady Gaga, is an American recording artist turned international music sensation. The 24-year-old musician began performing in the rock music scene of NYC's Lower East Side after dropping out of NYU's prestigious Tisch School of the Performing Arts. In 2007 she signed with Streamline Records (an imprint of Interscope Records). Her seemingly overnight rise to fame began with her aptly titled debut album, "The Fame," released in August of 2008.

Gaga's eccentric performances - complete with over-the-top costumes and sets, as well as her glam rock and pop infused music have allowed Lady Gaga to explode onto the contemporary music scene; the artist has sold 10 million albums, plus 35-million singles worldwide.

The Overlook Press recently published the starlet's biography, titled "Lady Gaga: Behind the Fame." Written by Emily Herbert, the book profiles the NYC-born Lady Gaga, a dynamic and talented go-getter who has said,

"I make music and art and design all day long. Yes, I wash my face and go to sleep but when I wake up, I am always Lady Gaga."

Overlook Press publicist Leslie Brandon describes Lady Gaga as "an Upper East Side girl with a downtown attitude." The former outcast has become a fascinating spectacle - skyrocketing to the top of the music charts, charming the pants off the fashion world and securing her place in pop culture history.

"Lady Gaga: Behind the Fame" contains 23 pages of color photographs and details Gaga's inspiring journey from student to superstar, from Stefani Germanotta to Lady Gaga: Classically trained on the piano since age 4. Other highlights of the biography include Gaga's high school experiences with Paris and Nicky Hilton, her meeting and performing for the Queen of England, discussions of gay rights, as well as Gaga's riotous loyal fan base, which the star affectionately calls her "little monsters."

Click here to read more about the #1 hit-maker's biography and purchase a copy.

Monday, March 1, 2010

International Contemporary Masters Volume III

World Wide ArtBooks has recently released its International Contemporary Masters Volume III, which traces the current art world’s latest trends and features the work of select international artists who are helping to mold the evolution of the contemporary art world. International curator and founder of World Wide ArtBooks Despina Tunberg produced the book with the goal of showing that innovation in art is still thriving around the globe.

Greek born Tunberg, who owns galleries in both Europe and the U.S., recognized how artists can spend time struggling to show their art, when they would rather spend time creating it. She created the International Contemporary Masters series as a luxury art publication that would allow artists to introduce their world to the art world. Her books include well known and lesser known artists, all of whom are extremely talented and innovative.

The newest volume features some 400 images of artwork from over 230 artists. Nearly 50 countries’ artists are represented, and each artist was selected by a special committee that adhered to strict criteria of originality and proficiency. Editors sought the inclusion of artists who have broken new ground – even if the artists haven’t yet been discovered by the art world at large. Media presented in the book includes painting, mixed media, sculpture, photography, digital art and installation.

Click here to read more about the book, how Tunberg supports artists beyond including them in her publication, and about World Wide ArtBooks.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Biggest Book in the World on Display

While it's not necessarily a "read-worthy art text," the 350 year-old Klencke Atlas is definitely a "view-worthy art text." The colossal book is five feet tall and six feet wide; it was given to the king by Dutch merchants and placed in his cabinet of curiosities. The Atlas, which has never publicly been displayed with its pages open, will be on view this summer at the British Library. The summer exhibition is dedicated to maps and will be showing about 100 of the world's greatest - about three-quarters of which have never before been on display.

Peter Barber, the British Library's head of map collections, recently stated,

"...[the maps] hold their own with great works of art. This is the first map exhibition of its type because, normally, when you think of maps, you think of geography, or measurement or accuracy."

Furthermore, the exhibition will show how great maps are often as important as great art. They were important status symbols, especially before the 1800s, and were considered to be almost as prominent as paintings, sculptures and tapestries.

Visit the Guardian to read more on the history of maps and other types of maps that will be on display at this summer's unique exhibition.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Noteworthy Book on the Bauhaus School

"The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism," by Nicholas Fox Weber, details the life and works of famed architects Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; painters Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Josef Albers, and weaver and textile designer Anni Albers (Josef's wife).

Begun by WWI lieutenant Walter Gropius of the German Army, the Bauhaus school, which included a mix of architects, painters and master artisans of various crafts, sought an integration between the art and industrial worlds to benefit humanity. His conception included ideas about reconciling beauty, simplicity, utility and mass production (which was completely different from the contemporary standard of decorative elaboration). The school only lasted from 1919 until 1933 and faced constant opposition during its existence in Germany. However, the Bauhaus initiated global changes in the art and craft realms.

Weber's book explores six of the school's most influential people. In a recent NY Times Book Review, the author is quoted as saying,

"In focusing on six of the people at the school who went far beyond the issues of one period or place, and were geniuses for all time, and in trying to sketch them as human beings, I have attempted to show how they created and lived out a dream that was never equaled before or since."

The author is a specialist in writing biographies about artists; he is the author / co-author of six previous volumes about Josef and Anni Alberses (who he met while studying fine art during graduate school at Yale).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Painting Below Zero: Notes on a Life in Art"

The term "Pop Art" is defined as a visual art movement that challenged tradition (first during the mid-1950s in Britain and then in the late 1950s in the U.S.) by asserting that an artist's use of the mass-produced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art. Case in point: the most well-known American Pop Artist, Andy Warhol, silk-screened a seemingly non-iconic image of a Campbell's soup can onto a canvas and voila, the public became fascinated with the Campbell's Soup image (and the product itself).

As a recent review from the NY Times discusses, James Rosenquist penned "Painting Below Zero: Notes on a Life in Art," an autobiography about the artist's accidental status as a pop artist (as a Midwest painter whose work happens to thematically parallel that of Warhol). Rosenquist started his art career as a sign painter and didn't initially meet Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein until 1964 (after Warhol and Lichtenstein had individually developed their avant-garde styles).

The artist's book contains a detailed biography (including his various art-world experiences), along with photographs (like the one below of the artist standing with his proud mother below his first billboard painting - for Coca-Cola), and various anecdotes. Rosenquist acquired the assistance of David Dalton (a founding editor of Rolling Stone Magazine) as well as Tony Scherman (a veteran music journalist) on his book.

To read the entire article from the NY Times - including more about Rosenquist's autobiography and life, art critic Arthur C. Danto's new pop-art related book, and discussion on new definitions / explanations of "Pop Art," click here.