Friday, April 30, 2010

C’mon, Get Happy!: Romero Britto’s “Happy!”

“I am an optimist,” Brazilian-born artist Romero Britto writes in the introduction to his new book Happy! “I know that isn’t a common trait to have these days, but I just can’t help myself.” When the blues strike you hard, the art of Britto—full of bold color and luscious textures—can soften the blow and, even better, heal the wounds. You’ll find yourself unable to help smiling yourself and to share the shiny glimmer of Britto’s optimism when turning the pages of Happy! Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "C'mon, Get Happy!"

[Many thanks to Rizzoli for providing me with a review copy of Romero Britto’s Happy!]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Watching Paint Dry: Alex Katz: Five Hours

It’s usually a tie between watching paint dry and watching grass grow for the title of most boring thing to do ever. Watching the paint dry and, more importantly, flow in Alex Katz: Five Hours, however, may be the most fascinating thing you’ll find yourself watching. Renowned American portraitist Alex Katz allowed himself to be filmed in 1992 painting January III, a triptych featuring a portrait of his wife Ada flanked by a wintry forest, from beginning to end over the course of five hours. Boiled down to 20 minutes, those five hours seem like an eternity—in a good way. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Watching Paint Dry."

[Many thanks to Microcinema for providing me with a review copy of Alex Katz: Five Hours.]

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Untouchables: Groping the Art at the MoMA

Marina Abramović’s exhibition The Artist Is Present currently at the MoMA has drawn a lot of attention this year, as her provocative work normally receives. She’s perfected attracting eyes to her work for decades. Unfortunately, some people have gone beyond just looking when it comes to encountering the “Imponderabilia” part of the retrospective, in which a man and a woman stand nude and face one another in the doorway leading to the exhibition space. Touched by the roving hands of overexcited patrons, the performers of “Imponderabilia” have felt firsthand the difference between museumgoers in America and other parts of the world. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "The Untouchables."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Society Painter: Otto Dix at the Neue Galerie New York

“When I tell people I would like to paint them, I already have their portrait in mind,” German artist Otto Dix once said. “I don’t paint people who don’t interest me.” Even more interesting than the people Dix painted is how he painted them. Dix’s 1925 Portrait of the Dancer Anita Berber (pictured) gives a clue to how he saw the people of the Weimar era in Germany between the wars as the embodiment of the opulence and the decadence of the time. The garish red of the dress hugging the dancer’s form bleeds with the intensity of the period, which throbbed with the aftershocks of the Great War that scarred both Germany and Dix himself, who served on the front lines. An exhibition of Dix’s work currently at the Neue Galerie—the first exhibition ever of his work in North America—presents this complex and challenging artist of the past as someone who perhaps has something to say about our time. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Society Painter."

[Image: Otto Dix (1891-1969), Portrait of the Dancer Anita Berber, 1925. Oil and tempera on plywood. 120.4 x 64.9 cm (47 3/8 x 25 1/2 in.). Sammlung Landesbank Baden-Württemberg im Kunstmuseum, Stuttgart. © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG, Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Courtesy of the Neue Galerie New York.]

[Many thanks to the Neue Galerie for providing me with the image above and for a review copy of the catalogue to Otto Dix, which runs through August 30.]

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Distance Learning: Mary A. Favret’s “War at a Distance”

It’s a common truth now that as much as we create our culture, our culture also creates us. Like Frankenstein’s monster acting with a mind of his own, culture eludes our attempts to rein it in and shapes us in return. Mary A. Favret’s War at a Distance: Romanticism and the Making of Modern Wartime looks at the way we look at warfare from the home front and point to the age of the Romantics, mired as they were in the Napoleonic Wars, as the origin of how we still see our world in times of conflict. Ranging back in history as far back as the Iliad and as far forward as W.G. Sebald, Favret centers her view of warfare vision on the days of Wordsworth and Turner. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Distance Learning."

[Many thanks to Princeton University Press for providing me with a review copy of Mary A. Favret’s War at a Distance: Romanticism and the Making of Modern Wartime.]