Monday, December 12, 2011

Damien Hirst: Is a Shark Art?

Damien Hirst, always controversial, and arguably artistic, made a splash (yes, pun intended) when he created his most notorious work The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living in 1991. The work consists of a tiger shark in a tank of formaldehyde solution and asks us to confront our fears of death. Whether or not it is art has been a debate since its creation; but, more recently a few years ago it re-opened the age old debate of originality and authenticity as well when the shark had to be replaced. The shark was purchased by hedge-fund manager Steve Cohen and since it was degrading in quality, i.e. disintegrating, it had to be replaced by another shark (2006).

One of the major issues we seem to have in the history of art is whether or not a work is authentic if it is not made solely by the hand of the one artist on the label (see "The Renaissance" for thousands of people who worked under one name, yes you should be detecting sarcasm), or if it's a replica/replacement then is it as valuable as the "original?" Below is a video with the curator of Contemporary Art, Gary Tinterow, at the Met in NY discussing these issues, when Mr. Hirst's work was exhibited after the replacement shark was put in its new home (2007-2010 for the exhibition).

May inspiration and creativity be with you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Does PETA Have Too Much Free Time?

O.K. so PETA just has way too much free time on their hands! I respect the rights of people who choose to be vegetarians and care about animals and all that but, going after visual imagery in video games for promoting cruelty to animals, seriously? While we all know the strength and power that visual images can have, I think it more than fair to say that this is a ridiculous stretch of the imagination and that there are bigger fish to fry (or tofu) out there than a beloved cartoon character from a video game. Aren't there more important problems in the world than little old Mario? For more on this check out the article from yahoo, "PETA Slams Mario Over Use of a Fur Suit" written by Ben Silverman.

May inspiration and creativity be with you!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Simplicity Changed the World: the Roman Arch

Title: Pont du Gard

Date: 1st century BCE

Location: near Nimes, France

We tend to take the small things for granted in life and the art world. One innovation that truly revolutionized construction and architecture was the round stone arch. Although it had been developed earlier, about the 2nd-millennium BCE in Mesopotamia, the Romans were the first to apply the technique to a wide range of structures, and to tap its full potential for above ground structures.

The Pont du Gard near Nimes, France is an aqueduct: a channel constructed to supply water. However, this is no one trick pony. While the topmost layer safely and efficiently carried water down from the higher ground (can you say pricey mountain spring water?) the bottom level was wide enough to accommodate foot traffic and carts for people and soldiers that were traveling in or through the area. I found a great little video that shows you some of the features of the Pont du Gard, including some nice shots of the spaces left by the Romans to maintain the structure.

May inspiration and creativity be with you!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lego Man on Siesta Key Beach, Florida

A giant Lego man showed up on Siesta Key Beach in Florida this morning. The Lego group is apparently not behind this in any way; but, because of the message on his chest "NO REAL THAN YOU ARE" and on his back "EGO LEONARD 8" it seems that somebody might be trying to make an artistic statement of some sort. It will be interesting to see if anybody claims the object and explains their intentions of plopping him on a beach and causing us to ask existential questions about the nature of reality and that would be fun.

Here is a link to the story:

Here is a video of the Lego man from "The Art Whisperer" on YouTube:

May inspiration and creativity be with you!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

James McNeil Whistler, Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother, 1871. Oil on canvas, 56.8" x 63.9" (144.3 x 162.4 cm). Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

Commonly referred to as "Whistler's Mother," this painting is perhaps one of the least warm and loving images of motherhood but, a staple in the world of art nonetheless. Whistler was an American born artist who was trained in France, and then spent most of his adult life in England. This painting was not originally meant to be a portrait of his mother at all but another model. When she fell ill his mother was a quick replacement; however, she did not stand as originally intended because of her advanced years and her frailty.

So why do we find this simple seated profile of an aged woman so fascinating? Perhaps it is the dignity with which he painted her, reflecting her strong Protestant values. Or possibly it is the varying techniques he used to render multiple textures (lace, handkerchief, curtains, dress, flesh, and so forth). Whatever the reason may be, intellectual or otherwise, the painting still remains in our collective subconscious, even making its way into popular culture in many different formats. One of the most recent inclusions of "Whistler's Mother" in that vein is the film Bean (1997) starring Rowan Atkinson as the bumbling title character who rarely speaks yet, still manages to ruin this famed painting. If you are a conservator of paintings beware, this video may give you some serious heart palpitations indeed.

May inspiration and creativity be with you!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chinese Performance Artist Zhang Huan

Zhang Huan, Family Tree, 2000. Still Photograph of a performance in New York.

Of all the contemporary Chinese artists working today, Zhang Huan has always stood out to me as a dominant force. He has recently turned away from performance art and back towards more traditional media; but, his current work still emulates his spirit and conveys complex ideas. In his performance work he has often addressed the complicated issues surrounding identity, particularly what it means to be Chinese and yet live in the convoluted global society of today. He intensely examines the difficult issues of how one can hold onto Chinese traditions while still moving forward into contemporary life and thought.

He has said of this piece: "I invited 3 calligraphers to write texts on my face from early morning until night. I told them what they should write and to always keep a serious attitude when writing the texts even when my face turns to dark. My face followed the daylight till it slowly darkened. I cannot tell who I am. My identity has disappeared. This work speaks about a family story, a spirit of family. In the middle of my forehead, the text means "Move the Mountain by Fool (Yu Kong Yi Shan)". This traditional Chinese story is known by all common people, it is about determination and challenge. If you really want to do something, then it could really happen. Other texts are about human fate, like a kind of divination. Your eyes, nose, mouth, ears, cheekbone, and moles indicate your future, wealth, sex, disease, etc. I always feel that some mysterious fate surrounds human life which you can do nothing about, you can do nothing to control it, it just happened."

You can see more of the artist's works and read more about him on his website at:

A video clip where he talks about some of his most recent work.

May inspiration and creativity be with you!

Blog Awards

Some awards this blog has received thanks to some nice folks!

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog Award
given on 07/24/2009 by Nanny Dee (