A Formula for the 21st Century

September 23, 2008


Tacita Dean’s entry when asked by Hans Ulrich Obrist to design a formula for this century

The popular Swiss art critic Hans Ulrich Obrist recently asked many famous (and not so famous) artists to devise a formula for this current century. These graphical representations have been collected in a book entitled Formulas For Now and within it you’ll find submissions from people like Damien Hirst, Yoko Ono, and Richard Dawkins.

Click this link to see an image gallery of some of the submissions.

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Paul Cezanne, Still Life with an Open Drawer (1877-1879)

September 13, 2008

Paul Cezanne, Still Life with an Open Drawer (1877-1879)

The wonderful Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) is considered a bridge between 19th century Impressionism and 20th century Cubism.

click here to see a larger version of this image

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(Neo)Neo-Realism a big hit at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival

September 10, 2008

Mickey Rourke gives a performance of a lifetime in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler”

Like any event with a history, the cries of “sell out” appear pretty quickly and then reappear over and over again. The Toronto International Film Festival has not been immune to these accusations from film purists. This year the purists seem to have scored a small victory. Thanks to the chaotic state of the American economy plus Hollywood in general, studios have held back from unleashing their big ticket products in Toronto. The A-list stars are all here ensuring the cachet of the festival, but the films harken back to a more art house time.

This year’s festival has been marked by the strong return of realism. The film falling into the realist camp garnering the most buzz has been Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke. A.O. Scott of the New York Times takes a look at the resurgence of realism:

These are not the usual indie touchstones — we’ve already seen enough would-be Tarantinos, Altmans, Scorseses and Cassaveteses for one lifetime — but rather the new masters whose names seems to resonate everywhere except in American mainstream movie culture. “Treeless Mountain” shows a clear thematic affinity with Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Nobody Knows,” while in mood and tone it recalls some of the work of the Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien and the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami.

click here to read the rest of the article

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Feeding a Murderer to Goldfish and Calling it “Art”

September 3, 2008

Will the goldfish have any scruples in regards to their dinner?

As art zooms past the Postmodern little is left other than grand tableauxs or art that intends to shock. Chilean artist and Danish resident Marco Evaristti manages to cover both those bases successfully. One need only to take a look at his work entitled “Ice Cube Project” in which he:

….was to paint the exposed tip of a small iceberg red. This took place on March 24, in Kangia fjord near Ilullissat, Greenland. With two icebreakers and a twenty-man crew, Evaristti used three fire hoses and 3,000 litres (790 US gallons) of paint to color the iceberg blood-red. The artist commented that, “We all have a need to decorate Mother Nature because it belongs to all us.”

Ice Cube Project

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Art’s Lonely Guy – The Cartoonist

September 2, 2008

What makes cartoonists tick?

An oldage goes that whatever looks simple is usually the most difficult thing to do. This can be readily applied to cartooning. Glancing at newspapers as a youth, I recall seeing the same strips day in, day out, with few of them longer than four panels. Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” seemed to start the trend for an even easier task: the single panel cartoon. Yes, these artists could draw and yes they could be funny (rarely, in my opinion even as a kid) but it couldn’t be that difficult! Now, guys like Robert Crumb must have had it more difficult since they had a lot more room to fill.

Naturally, I’m wrong. Cartooning is a difficult job and cartoonists must have a certain temperament, especially those with deadlines. What makes these unique characters tick? Seth, the author of Down the Stairs, explains to us the life of a cartoonist in The Quiet Art of Cartooning.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

A cartoonist isn’t like a writer. Writing requires a special kind of focus. Your mind must be utterly devoted to the task at hand. When I’m breaking down a strip or hammering out dialogue, I’m using that writer’s focus. But drawing and inking are different. They use different parts of the brain. I often find that when I’m drawing, only half my mind is on the work — watching proportions, balancing compositions, eliminating unnecessary details.

The other half is free to wander. Usually, it’s off in a reverie, visiting the past, picking over old hurts, or recalling that sense of being somewhere specific — at a lake during childhood, or in a nightclub years ago. These reveries are extremely important to the work, and they often find their way into whatever strip I’m working on at the time.

click here to read the rest of the article

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Mark Rothko, Untitled (1960)

August 18, 2008

Mark Rothko, Untitled (1960)

As readers of this site are already familiar with my favourite piece of art it should come as no surprise to you that I really appreciate the Rothko work shown above. Rothko refused to explain his work leaving us with one of art’s great mysteries. The UK Times is asking us what we think of this piece and what we think it represents. While you ponder those questions, have a look at some quotes by Mark Rothko:

“I am not an abstract painter. I am not interested in the relationship between form and color. The only thing I care about is the expression of man’s basic emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, destiny.”

“The role of the artist, of course, has always been that of image-maker. Different times require different images. Today when our aspirations have been reduced to a desperate attempt to escape from evil, and times are out of joint, our obsessive, subterranean and pictographic images are the expression of the neurosis which is our reality. To my mind certain so-called abstraction is not abstraction at all. On the contrary, it is the realism of our time. ”

“Since my pictures are large, colorful and unframed, and since museum walls are usually immense and formidable, there is the danger that the pictures relate themselves as decorative areas to the walls. This would be a distortion of their meaning, since the pictures are intimate and intense, and are the opposite of what is decorative.”

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Seeing Berlin by Rooftops

August 15, 2008

Weekend Club
Berlin’s The Weekend Club

In North America Berlin seems to get a bad rap (Europeans know better). When listing off the best European capitals to visit, people will usually start off by naming the holy trinity of European travel destinations: London, Paris and Rome. Beyond that you’ll usually hear Prague and Budapest and maybe Vienna and Copenhagen shortly thereafter.

It’s really quite too bad since Berlin has to be Europe’s most underrated city for tourism. A tectonic fault line worthy of San Andreas during the Cold War, the city manages to balance the old (Unter den Linden) with the new, tradition with technology, art with finance. The city has long been a centre of the arts and especially a nucleus for architecture and design.

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