Monday, December 15, 2014

Hearing (and Feeling) the Contemporary Art of Allora & Calzadilla

Imagine standing in a bare room in which a small, 4-billion-year-old rock hangs from the ceiling by a thin wire as three vocalists whistle and breathe on it to make it swing. For some people, such a scenario might be the nightmare version of contemporary art run amok, so far “out there” that it’s never coming back. However, standing there and watching the piece, titled Lifespan, part of the new exhibition Allora & Calzadilla: Intervals, I couldn’t help but find myself mentally urging the rock to move, as perhaps others in the crowd were, too. The art of collaborators Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla encourages this kind of chain-reaction collaboration by making you first hear the work and then feel it in your mind and body. For those who think contemporary art’s lost in space, Allora and Calzadilla bring it back to Earth. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Hearing (and Feeling) the Contemporary Art of Allora & Calzadilla."

Monday, December 8, 2014

How to Speak Fluent "Museum"

The best way to learn any language is total immersion. If you live in a place long enough and open yourself up to the experience, then you’ll come away not just with a new tongue, but also with the flavor of the culture in which that language is expressed. For many people, art museums feel like a foreboding foreign nation with a language all its own. Frederick Wiseman’s new documentary, National Gallery, finally offers an immersion class in how to speak fluent “museum.” Wiseman’s 39th documentary, National Gallery takes you inside London’s National Gallery to eavesdrop on the docents leading tours, spy on the early morning floor waxers, look over the shoulders of conservators, and even join executive meetings behind closed doors all in the name of learning what really happens in an art museum and how the very voice of the modern museum is changing with the times. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How to Speak Fluent 'Museum.'"

Should We Be Letting Machines See for Us?

Anyone who has seen James Cameron’s 1984 film The Terminator remembers “seeing” through the eyes of the killer android sent into the past as it scans its surroundings for clothes, weapons, and, eventually, its target. Beneath the fleshly form of the future “Governator” resided a robot skeleton sent from the future to eliminate the main human foe of the machines’ plan to rule the future. German filmmaker Harun Farocki would later call those pictures “operational images”—the machine-made and machine-used pictures of the world that threatened to supplant not just how people see, but people period. In the November 2014 issue of the journal e-flux, Trevor Paglen revisits Farocki’s now-decade-old work and updates it for today. Paglen raises interesting questions about the very nature of how machines see as well as whether we should be letting machines—from license plate readers at intersections to drones in combat zones—see for us. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Should We Be Letting Machines See for Us?"

Sunday, November 30, 2014

How Peter Blume Painted His Personal Reality of Hope

On October 3, 1948, at 3:50 pm, Peter Blume finished his epic painting, years in the making, titled The Rock (shown above). “After a turbulent decade in which Peter Blume embarked on false starts, endured debilitating anxiety, experienced self-doubt, and found his faith in the creative process renewed,” Robert Cozzolino writes in the catalog to the new exhibition Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis, finishing The Rock must have been a great relief. Blume recorded that date and time the way many record the
birth of their children, for The Rock was his precious baby, but completing it marked a rebirth of sorts for Blume as a different kind of artist. Shaped by political and artistic currents of the first half of the 20th century, Blume emerges as a difficult to categorize artist, but also as a fascinating visionary who struggled to paint a personal reality clinging to the foundation of hope. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Peter Blume Painted His Personal Reality of Hope."

Monday, November 24, 2014

William Glackens: Forgotten Father of American Modernism?

With a $20,000 check and instructions to bring back “some good paintings” from friend and financier Dr. Albert C. Barnes, American artist William Glackens set off for Paris in 1912 with carte blanche to buy the very best modern art he could find. Long a champion and connoisseur of European and American modernism, Glackens sent back to Barnes 33 works by now-renowned artists such as Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh that helped shape the collection that eventually became The Barnes Foundation. Glackens, however, was much more than a buyer. Glackens early on bought into the ideas of European modernism and interpreted them for an American idiom, as can be seen in a new exhibition at The Barnes Foundation. William Glackens, the first comprehensive survey of this undeservedly neglected artist in almost half a century, makes a powerful case for William Glackens as the forgotten father of American modernism. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "William Glackens: Forgotten Father of American Modernism?"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Steven Sebring and Coco Rocha’s Visual Manifesto of the Human Body

“Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it. Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it,” Madonna lied and “Vogue”-ed way back in 1990. Contrary to popular opinion, posing is hard work, made even harder by the requirement to look effortless. The reigning “Queen of Pose,” Canadian supermodel Coco Rocha has been clocked at 160 different poses per minute and viral videoed striking 50 poses in 30 seconds. When photographer Steven Sebring approached Rocha back in 2010 with the idea of a project involving one model striking a thousand different poses captured using Sebring’s revolutionary, 360-degree photographic technology, it seemed a match made in modeling heaven. Study of Pose: 1,000 Poses by Coco Rocha tests the limits of expression by the human form while capitalizing on the latest in technology to produce no less than a new manifesto on posing the human body as an object to be both admired and accepted for all its truth and beauty. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Steven Sebring and Coco Rocha’s Visual Manifesto of the Human Body."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How Prison Changed Egon Schiele’s Portraits for Better or Worse

Bürgerschreck! rang the accusations in German at Austrian painter Egon Schiele in April 1912. This “shocker of the bourgeois” found his home rifled by local constables searching for evidence of the immorality locals suspected of a man who lived with a woman not his wife and invited local children to pose for him. The constables brought over one hundred drawings as well as Schiele himself to the local jail, where he sat for 24 days until a court trial during which the judge flamboyantly burned one of Schiele’s “pornographic” portraits in front of the chastised artist before releasing him. That experience changed the rest of Schiele’s life and art. Egon Schiele: Portraits at the Neue Galerie in New York City centers on this turning point in Schiele’s portraits, which remain some of the most psychologically penetrating and sexual explicit portraits of the modern age. Schiele’s capacity to shock today’s audience may have declined as modern mores finally catch up to him, but the power of his portraits to captivate through their unconventionality, sensitivity, and empathy never gets old. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Prison Changed Egon Schiele’s Portraits for Better or Worse."