Thursday, March 6, 2014
When people say that an art movement or
school “died out,” they usually don’t mean it literally. In the case of the Italian Futurists, however, you can specify the day the movement “died”—August 17, 1916, the day that artist Umberto Boccioni
succumbed to injuries at the age of 33 after falling from a horse and
getting trampled during Italian Army cavalry training for World War I.
Boccioni exemplified the best parts of an art movement that celebrated
modern technology aesthetically. His death registers today as another
senseless death among millions during the “Great War.” In a different
sense, however, Italian Futurism “lived on” for another three decades
and one more world war in the person of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the movement’s chief manifesto maker and warmonger. The Guggenheim Museum’s new exhibition Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe,
which runs through September 1, 2014, resurrects the good, the bad, and
the ugly truths of an art movement that died in the culture and wars of
the past yet still lives on, zombie-like, in our modern ones. How did
Italian Futurism become the undead art movement? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Italian Futurism: The Undead Art Movement?"
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
We all dream of mastering a skill like a pro—to skate like an Olympian, sing like an Idol, or go to the hoop “like Mike.” What if we could learn to see how an artist sees? “It’s so important to move through the world with this kind of wonder,” artist Bo Bartlett says of putting on an artist’s eyes in SEE: An Art Road Trip. “It all passes so fast.” Directed by Bartlett with his wife and fellow artist Betsy Eby and filmmaker Glenn Holsten, SEE challenges and inspires us to see the world through an artist’s eyes not necessarily in hopes of making art but, more importantly, in hopes of our appreciating the beauty that rushes past us and our high-speed everyday lives. Part road trip, part art history lesson, and part existential drama, SEE at all times conveys a vision of a more aware, more visually activated life that most of us only dream of but can finally experience, if only fleetingly, through these pros’ eyes. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Can We Learn to See How Artists See?"
“Master of Modernism and Creator of His Own Song Style” read the posters for Jazz trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong when he appeared in Memphis, Tennessee in late 1931 at the end of a decade of development that saw him take the raw talent spawned in his hometown of New Orleans and spread it across all of America, bringing not just jazz, but modernism itself to both black and white audiences. In Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism, musicologist and Duke University professor Thomas Brothers traces the trajectory of Armstrong’s rise against the backdrop of the racial and cultural divisions of early 20th century America. Brothers takes readers deep inside the art of Armstrong and dismisses both the myth of Louis’ naïve, unlearned talent and the criticism of Louis’ sellout to white tastes with the ease of the master hitting a high note. In Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism, Louis Armstrong emerges not just as the founding father of jazz (and all American popular music that follows in its wake), but as the first true modernist of American art. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Was Louis Armstrong the First Great American Modernist?"
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
“Oh! what a tangled web we weave,” Sir Walter Scott wrote in his 1808 epic poem Marmion, “When first we practice to deceive!” But what a pretty web it might be, researchers might add today. The idea that being a good liar helps one be a better actor, novelist, or painter isn’t a new one, but a group of business school professors recently put the idea to an empirical test and came up with some interesting conclusions about the connection between deceit and creativity. Not only might artists be better at lying, cheating, and general rule breaking, but it’s also possible that such behaviors might actually add to one’s creativity. At the risk of plunging the art world and the world in general into chaos, can we ignore the question of whether liars make better artists? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Do Liars Make Better Artists?"
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Michael Jackson proudly wore the crown as the “King of Pop” until his death in 2009. In the visual arts, at least for Americans, Andy Warhol’s ruled as the “King of Pop,” reigning as the prime example of Pop Art for the uninitiated as well as for connoisseurs. Most British (and more than a few American) art lovers, however, see Richard Hamilton as the true “King of Pop” and Warhol as just an upstart usurper to the throne. The Tate Modern’s new exhibition Richard Hamilton, which runs through May 26, 2014, provides not only a
of Hamilton’s greatest pop hits, but also a career-long survey that
shows how he engaged with popular culture beyond just Warhol-esque
celebrity and marketing gestures and got at the heart of what Pop Art
should and could be. Is Richard Hamilton the true “King of Pop”? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Richard Hamilton: The True King of Pop?"
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
The only thing possibly worse than facing a creative blank is facing a creative overload—to find yourself drowning in a sea of influences with no guiding life preserver in sight. In a recent article in Wired, Paul Ford wrote about how “Netflix and Google Books Are Blurring the Line Between Past and Present” and creating what he calls “a history glut.” Although Ford focuses primarily on the “history glut” and delves momentarily into the “music history glut,” similar gluts can be seen in all the arts, especially the visual arts. Literary critic Harold Bloom coined the phrase “the anxiety of influence” in 1973 with no clue how that anxiety would blossom exponentially four decades later. Can artists today cope with that growing, digitally available anxiety to create their own art? Does cultural big data amplify the anxiety of influence? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Does Cultural Big Data Amplify the Anxiety of Influence?"
Thursday, February 13, 2014
“I leave you with four words: I'm glad Reagan dead,” Mike “Killer Mike” Render rapped in his song “Reagan” off the 2012 album R.A.P. Music. His harsh, inflammatory statements drew attention from the press at the time that only increased when the video’s similarly hyperbolic imagery (one example shown above) drew fire from conservatives. In the January/February 2014 issue of Art Papers, Dr. Joycelyn A. Wilson interviews Render and gets at the heart not only of “Reagan,” but also at the rap world’s general distaste for the 40th President of the United States, a man basically sainted by the right. Reagan’s presidency ended in 1989 and his life ended in 2004 after a long illness that kept him from the public eye, yet he remains a powerfully negative symbol for some decades later. Why do rap artists still hate Ronald Reagan? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Why Rap Artists Still Hate Ronald Reagan."