Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Vision Loss: The Forgotten German Prophets Secretly Behind Modern Art

 The forgotten aspects of art history will always be the most intriguing. Digging up the dead storylines of art history, whether in the distant or the recent past, will never end, mostly thanks to forces that buried the facts, if not the bodies, for whatever agenda. Artists and Prophets: A Secret History of Modern Art 1872-1972 at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt resurrects German visionaries and Jesus wannabes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries to look at how their exploits and artistic creations helped shape the course of German and European modern art. It also shines light on how the impact of those figures fell into obscurity as another casualty of the ideological war waged by that most unfortunately unforgettable of German messianic aspirants — Adolf Hitler. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Vision Loss: The Forgotten German Prophets Secretly Behind Modern Art."

Flower Power: Women, Gardens, and the Dawn of American Impressionism

American Impressionism’s often been seen as a pale copy of the French Impressionism that flowered in the late 19th century. Although American Impressionists early on copied their French counterparts (and even made pilgrimages to Monet’s Giverny garden and home), the exhibition The Artist's Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887–1920, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts through May 24, 2015, proves that American Impressionism quickly blossomed into something distinct — and distinctly American — by the turn of the 20th century. Capturing aesthetically a moment of contradictions as American nativism threatened to close borders while women’s suffrage struggled to open doors, The Artist’s Garden demonstrates the power of flowers to speak volumes about the American past, and present. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Flower Power: Women, Gardens, and the Dawn of American Impressionism."

Repairing the World: The Road to The Rothko Chapel

Of the many concepts of Judaism artist Mark Rothko took to heart, the idea of tikkun olam, Hebrew for “repairing the world,” penetrated the deepest. In Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel, academic and a cultural historian Annie Cohen-Solal cuts to the heart of Rothko’s life and art and sheds new light on how both seemingly had to end at The Rothko Chapel (shown above), the Houston home of Rothko’s final works that he tragically didn’t live long enough to see himself. In this tightly focused new biography, Cohen-Solal shows us both how The Rothko Chapel culminates Rothko’s life-long mission to repair his world and how it continues to serve as a light of hope in our darkening world. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Repairing the World: The Road to The Rothko Chapel."

Comebacks: Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and the City of Detroit

Few American cultural institutions stared as deep into the yawning, austerity-driven abyss of large-scale deaccessioning as The Detroit Institute of Arts. When the City of Detroit declared bankruptcy in 2013, vulturous creditors circled the DIA’s collection, estimated worth (depending on the estimator) of $400 million to over $800 million. Some experts see signs of a Detroit comeback, however, but one very visible sign is the new DIA exhibition Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit, a showcase of the city’s ties to Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera as well as a tribute to Kahlo’s and Rivera’s own artistic comebacks. Few exhibitions truly capture the spirit of a city at a critical moment in its history, but Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit is a show of comebacks that will have you coming back for more. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Comebacks: Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and the City of Detroit."

Death at the Museum: Tunisia, ISIS, Civilization, and Survival

The attack at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, Tunisia, on March 18, 2015, was an attack on civilization itself. Not just Tunisian civilization or Western civilization or Islamic civilization or Christian civilization — ALL civilization. ISIS may not have been directly involved in the Tunisian attack, but its iconoclastic, its “year zero” philosophy certainly was present. The fact that these attackers targeted tourists seeking out ancient civilizations rather than the artifacts of those ancient civilizations makes this latest tragedy even more chilling. The Bardo National Museum attacks may one day emerge as the first battle in the ultimate fight for civilization’s survival. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Death at the Museum: Tunisia, ISIS, Civilization, and Survival."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

“Starf@#king”?: Björk at the MoMA

It’s hard to remember a major show at a major American museum generating so much angst as Björk at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Some arts sites quickly began aggregating art critics’ aggravation over almost every detail of the show. What began as art criticism evolved into a media lynching of the MoMA, American museums, and pandering-to-the-public curators (in this case, Klaus Biesenbach). New York art world critics, and husband-and-wife team, Jerry Saltz and Roberta Smith hated the show in different ways, but both connected to their love of Björk and her music.  ArtNews’ M.H. Miller wins the poison pen prize, however, for coining the new critical term “starf@#king” to describe the MoMA’s treatment of Björk as much as its treatment of the viewing public. The question of whether Björk is good or not might really be a question of what Björk is really about. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "“Starf@#king”?: Björk at the MoMA."

Monday, March 2, 2015

Andy Warhol’s Masturbation Metaphor

 In a 1977 interview with Glenn O’Brien for the marijuana lifestyle magazine High Times, O’Brien asked Andy Warhol if his teachers recognized his early “natural talent.” “Something like that,” Warhol responded with his characteristic unconventionality, “unnatural talent.” Warhol’s “unnatural talent” quip alluded not only to his mass-produced, machine-like paintings of soup cans and silk screen portraits, but also to his sexual orientation—the “unnatural” life of a homosexual. Just as Warhol turned that verbal double play, art scholar Michael Maizels tries to touch those two bases of Warhol’s art in “Doing It Yourself: Machines, Masturbation, and Andy Warhol” in the Fall 2014 issue of Art Journal. For Maizels, the way that Warhol made art reflected the way Warhol lived his life as a homosexual male in late 20th century America. When we look at Warhol’s art, Maizels suggests, we should see not just a critique of commercialized society and its art, but a critique of that same society’s sexual tolerance. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Andy Warhol’s Masturbation Metaphor."