Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Crying Game

Whenever I hear the name of Turner Prize-winning artist, Chris Ofili, I unfortunately think of the old Monty Python joke: “What’s brown and sounds like a bell? Dung!” For Americans who still remember Rudy Giuliani’s dung-inspired demagoguery in the mid-1990s, Ofili remains defined by that single word and single, controversial moment. A new exhibition at the Tate Britain and a revelatory new book, however, look to redefine this anger- and thought-provoking artist. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "The Crying Game."

[Image: Chris Ofili, No Woman, No Cry (1998). Acrylic, oil, polyester resin, pencil, paper collage, glitter, map pins and elephant dung on linen. 243.8 x 182.8 cm. Photo: Tate. © Chris Ofili.]

[Many thanks to the Tate Britain for providing me with the image above from the exhibition Chris Ofili, which runs from January 27 through May 16, 2010, and to Rizzoli for providing me with a review copy of the first monograph on the artist, Chris Ofili.]

Relay for Life

I've never tried to raise funds on this site, but I've never been involved in something as important to me and my family as the fight against cancer, specifically The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Please consider clicking through to my personal donation page and giving something to help in the battle against cancer. Just last year our family lost my Father-in-Law, William, to cancer. Going through that experience really impressed on me how everyone has a "cancer story" in their life. Please help us make sure that our children don't have such stories to share someday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Beautiful Mind

What makes something we see pleasing to our eyes? Is beauty always in the eye of the beholder, or is there something common to the human mind that says, “This is art”? Beauty and the Brain: A Neural Approach to Aesthetics, a new exhibition at The Walters Art Museum, brings together science and art to answer these questions by turning an art gallery into a laboratory, with art patrons the willing participants. Please visit Picture This at Big Think to read more of "A Beautiful Mind."

Jean Arp, La dame de Delos (The Woman of Delos), 1959, plaster, 14 5/8 x 18 7/8 x 9 ½ inches, Adler & Conkright Fine Art, New York.]

[Many thanks to The Walters Art Museum for providing the image above from Beauty and the Brain: A Neural Approach to Aesthetics, which runs from January 23 through April 11, 2010.]

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pop Divas

When you think of Pop Art, the art movement that dominated the late 1950s and early 1960s in America, you almost automatically cast up the wigged head of Andy Warhol. A few other names might rise up from memory— Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, or even the British artist Peter Blake—but even those names have in common one thing—they’re all men. Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists 1958-1968 at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia wants you to learn the names of the “pop divas,” the women who worked in the same culture-driven, irony-laced language as Warhol and others but were never heard, until now. Please venture over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Pop Divas."

Image: John Wayne by Marisol, 1963, mixed media, 104 x 96 x 15 inches. Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, Art © Marisol Escobar/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.]

[Many thanks to the
University of the Arts in Philadelphia for providing me with the image above from Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists 1958-1968, which runs from January 22 through March 15, 2010.]

Thursday, January 21, 2010

CSI: Renaissance Italy

Who killed Caravaggio? Or what killed Caravaggio? Four hundred years later, who cares? To “celebrate” the 400th anniversary of the demise of the demented genius of the Renaissance, Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage looks to answer these questions once and for all. According to a report from Reuters, a team from the departments of Anthropology and Cultural Heritage Conservation at the universities of Ravenna and Bologna will play a different kind of tomb raiders in search of Caravaggio’s remains. The process, however, which sounds more convoluted than an episode of CSI, would challenge even Gus Grissom’s team. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "CSI: Renaissance Italy."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Unforgivable Blackness

Enough time and thought has been spent on the philandering of Tiger Woods, so I don’t want to follow the crowd. From my visual perspective, the most interesting part of this soap opera is the transformation of an extremely likeable, vastly marketable American of color into a sexually charged punch line. Annie Liebovitz’s photo of a shirtless Tiger pumping iron on the February 2010 cover of Vanity Fair was taken before the recent revelations, but in its repurposing I find themes that go back centuries. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Unforgivable Blackness."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Delightful Surprise

When the women artists of today look back in history for examples to follow, they usually limit themselves to the artists of the twentieth century. Sure, an Artemisia Gentileschi here and a Rosa Bonheur there pop up to prove that women have fought for their rights over the centuries, but the larger pattern has been of successful women artists playing the male-dominated game. That dearth of historical heroines makes the lack of attention paid to nineteenth century French artist Adélaïde Labille-Guiard all the more criminal. Laura Auricchio’s Adélaïde Labille-Guiard: Artist in the Age of Revolution, the first book in English to tell the great pioneering portraitist’s story, rights that wrong in a delightful, insightful way. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "A Delightful Surprise."

[Image: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Head of a Young Woman, French, 1779. Pastel on paper, 21 1/2 x 17 1/2 in. Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum. 96.PC.327]

[Many thanks to Getty Publications for providing me with a review copy of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard: Artist in the Age of Revolution by Laura Auricchio and for the image above.]

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brooding Giant

For those of us who didn’t live in the time that the moral giant Martin Luther King, Jr., walked the earth, we have only the pictures—the young, fiery preacher, the protest leader sitting in a Birmingham jail, the seas of people listening to the “I Have a Dream” speech, and, finally, the flock of arms and hands rising towards the source of the assassin’s bullet that left him in a pool of his own blood. On this day honoring Dr. King’s memory, I offer a different image—John Woodrow Wilson’s 1981 mammoth charcoal portrait, Martin Luther King, Jr. (pictured). Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Brooding Giant."

[Many thanks to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for providing me with the image of John Woodrow Wilson’s 1981 charcoal portrait Martin Luther King, Jr. Art © John Wilson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.]