American Artist, Kehinde Wiley, 37 was born in California. His father is Yoruba from Nigeria and his mother is African-American. He’s studied art in Russia, earned his BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and got his MFA from Yale University.
Wiley’s work is a colorful blend of traditional and contemporary roots seen in his trademark over sized portraits where young men of color, posed in their street clothes are fixed into grandiose backgrounds that suit them as if they were royalty. Initially his portraits were based on the photographs of young men in Harlem, now he has firmly situated himself as the painter known to travel to urban places in Israel, Africa, Brazil and India to find his next subject.
These portrayals inspire people to throw out phrases like ‘crossing boundaries’, and ‘breaking down barriers’ when they refer to his art. In the last six years or so, Wiley has become a highly sought after painter – with a style I like to refer to as ‘arthouse rebel rousing’. At the forefront of this modern takeover is his artistic desire to make art that continues to carry on a discourse for people of color, “I think it’s important for African-American kids to see pictures of people who look like them on museum walls”, says Kehinde.
“I think one of the things that must happen in the work is for it to become class-conscious. You’ll never be able to exist within this marketplace without recognizing that paintings are perhaps the most expensive objects in the art world. It’s not going to change anyone’s life. But what it does function as is a catalyst for a different way of thinking. The very act of walking into the Los Angeles County Museum and seeing Kerry James Marshall as a kid gave me a sense of, Damn, maybe I can do this. And, so, symbols matter. One of my interests is in having the work in as many public collections as possible. When I go to the Brooklyn Museum or the Metropolitan Museum and see my stuff, I’m aware that there are other young kids who don’t have access to anything like it.”
—quote pulled from Meghan O’Rourke’s interview with Kehinde Wiley in WSJ
Enjoy these great links to more information on Wiley
- Brooklyn Museum is putting on a retrospective, Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic opens February 20th and runs till May 24, 2015.
- Not convinced that you need to see the Retrospective? Wow yourself with the necessity to see Kehinde Wiley’s work in person with this intimate portrait of Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace, now ondemand at PBS Art.
- There are several great art books that verse you in all things Wiley, but the book simply titled, Kehinde Wiley is by far my favorite. The book gets bonus points for having curator, Thelma Golden onboard as one its contributors.
- For a closer look at Kehinde Wiley works currently in circulation and editorial imprints, try Artsy’s resource.
Since you never know what crowd you’ll be falling into –we’ve compiled a non-threatening mix of books to get your Art Smart on. Some cover the hype of a few well-known art stars, and others take you into current art movements. There are a few biographies and “text” book like works on our list, but that’s because it makes it easier to appreciate the new when you know what influences the artist drew from. We’re not promising to turn you into art aficionados, but we can help you load your bookshelf down with a couple of gems. The oldies but goodies you should already own.
- History of Art by HW Janson – The seminal art history textbook. The one to which all others pale in comparison. I used this when I took my first Art History class, and it totally changed the way I looked at art and gave me a basis with which to view art that I still call upon today.
- 501 Great Artists: A Comprehensive Guide to the Giants of the Art World by Susie Hodge – Another basic text for art lovers, easy to read and very educational. It’s a very good “primer” on who makes up the bedrock of the art world.
- Lust for Life by Irving Stone – Irving Stone is a wonderful writer and this account of Van Gogh’s life is quite amazing. This book gives you an idea of what a tortured soul he was, and how hard he tried to find his place in life.
- The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone – This time Stone writes about Michelangelo’s life. He was so clearly a genius since youth. It takes you through his time painting for sponsors, and then his grand patrons, the Medici’s. His relationship with the Pope was a complex one as well, and Stone brings this all to the book. A must-read.
- Going Postal by Martha Cooper – Because stickers from the US Postal Service, UPS, DHL and FEDEX are so readily available, it became the perfect canvas for the graffiti culture. Graffiti photography Martha Cooper showcases a collection of more than 200 photographs of some of her favorite handmade postal stickers from around the world.
- Jean -Michel Basquiat: 1960-1988 by Leonhard Emmerling – This is an amazing bio of Basquiat, who in less than a decade became an international art star. His genius trapped in a burgeoning art movement set on ‘crazed’ did nothing to help slow down the excesses he became eventually became a victim of.
- Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury & Aly Sujo – This is the story of John Drewe, an alleged physicist and avid art collector, who began passing off copies of famous art pieces as genuine, and then forging their provenance. A real page-turner about a con artist and how he got away with it for so long.
- Hiding in the Light: On Images and Things (Comedia) by Dick Hebdige – A wonderful back to the basics book about the meaning of Post-Modernism.
- The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: A to B and Back Again by Andy Warhol – Andy writes about himself, no holds barred. A great book from the Master’s own mind.
- Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton – This is an incredible book about the in’s and out’s of the art world. We get a great ride ‘behind the scenes’, a detailed look at how a painting is brought to auction, and the intricate hierarchy that exists between the collector and buyer. I didn’t think it would be interesting, but I was into it from the first page.
- Subway Art by Martha Cooper – Yet another must-have book from photographer Martha Cooper. This book covers the epitome of classic NYC graffiti, a veritable Bible for this subculture.
- Steve Powers: A Love Letter for You by Steve Powers – Graffiti Artist, Steve Powers started painting his “ESPO” alias across the walls and rooftops of Philadelphia in 1984, just as the city’s Anti-Graffiti Network was launched. Twenty-five years later, in the summer of 2009, he returned to Philly, armed with 1,200 cans of spray paint, 800 gallons of bucket paint and 20 of the finest spray painters in America, to inscribe an epic love letter on the rooftops facing the Market-Frankford line, as a public art project. Powers consulted the community in West Philly and collaborated with The Mural Arts Program and the Pew Center, and with their help, transformed this 20-block stretch of buildings into visual and architectural Valentine poems.
- Training Days: The Subway Artists Then and Now by HenryChalfant and Sacha Jenkins – Throw some old school B&W photos of break dancers at Coney Island (is that the Cyclone I see in the background), a table of contents designed to look like an NYC Subway stop, interviews with graffiti legends like Lady Pink, andSkeme, and I’m all ready to meet the mailman at my door on the regular until my Amazon package shows up.Seriously though, Training Days: The Subway Artists Then and Now promises authentic first–person accounts from the graffiti artists whose creative genius fueled the movement from its beginning in late 1970s and early 1980s New York.
Some of the best mistakes in photography are double exposures…or so I think. It’s like being caught in a parallel universe…stuck somewhere in between the places you’ve been and the places you dream about. As if you could be grounded one second and take flight the next.
Enter the haunting layering of untold stories seen through London-based photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten‘s double exposure portraits. Fullerton-Batten is known for using cinematic lighting, and beautiful backgrounds to frame her subjects in a aura of intimacy and grace. These double exposure prints are from Batten’s personal collection… in her bio “She insinuates visual tensions in her fine-art images, and imbues them with a hint of mystery, that combine to tease the viewer to re-examine the picture continuously, each time seeing more content and finding a deeper meaning with every viewing.”
These photographs are no exception.
Julia Fullerton-Batten Website
I think its apparent that Chicago based artist, Jim Bachor got tired of his city’s pothole problem. These beautiful flower adorned mosaics are more than just a axle saver – it’s some serious street art that I hope catches on in other cities (preferably my own …Philly potholes are murderous and plentiful).
The mosaics were put in this fall; Bachor has a handy list of addresses up on his website – go discover if any of the mosaics survived the crush of the tire.
If you’re in the windy city, Bachor is exhibiting his free standing mosaics at the Packer Schopf Gallery in Chicago, November 9 to December 13, 2014.
Urbani’s mural is featured on the outside of Elixr Coffee right now as part of ‘Art at Elixr’ - curated by Ryan Greenberg.
Brothers and graffiti artists Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, aka Os Gêmeos, are helping the World Cup host country, Brazil celebrate in style. The duo painted the exterior of Brazil’s national team’s airplane.
It took one week and 1,200 spray paint cans to complete the portraits along the surface of the aircraft’s body.
Os Gêmeos explains that it’s “an airplane transformed into a work of art to transport the Brazilian people and the Brazilian national soccer team, placing art in people’s lives and taking our characters to the clouds.”
The project was completed in collaboration with Gol/9ine, who will continue to use the Boeing 737 for two years once the World Cup is over.
Os Gemeos on the web.
What I love about Escif’s work is it’s ability to deal with weighty issues in a often non confronting way. Escif’s has a particular way with illustrative forms of storytelling, translating an evolving understanding of global thoughts/politics onto a wall .
This new Escif illustration “Batalla Campal” translates as ‘Royal Battle’ – it plays like an urban toile – moving in for the closer inspection you’ll find hidden in the repeating decoration the crux of the message.
I bet a lot of these Andy Warhol Bugaboo strollers will start cropping up in the parks this summer – where the cool babies meet for even cooler play dates.
It’s not the first artist inspired baby accessory Bugaboo has put out, but the 1966 Velvet Underground album cover design is their latest collaboration with the Andy Warhol foundation and slickest one yet.
Chuck Close Bathroom
Keith Haring Theatre
Lichtenstein Moe’s Tavern
I immediately assumed these photos were part of a press release for new art hotel rooms – turns out they’re the digital creations of artist Jon Rafman. You might know of Rafman by way of his popular digital series 9-Eyes where he exhibited these found images from Google Street View. This new on-going project where he takes modernist paintings and completely wraps rooms with them is called Brand New Paint Job.
Some rooms are a bit heavy on the eyes, which is putting it mildly really – most of these head to toe room makeovers take a bit of an adjustment for your eyes. That may have something to do with them being 3D models taken from the Google 3D Warehouse, an online gallery that allows users of Google Sketchup to upload to and share their works. The bigger statement here may be its questioning of the over commercialization of art.
via My Modern Met
De Kooning Hallway
Monet USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) Bridge
Duchamp Seinfeld Set
Matisse Baby Room
Monet Master Bedroom
In Tennessee hollow logs may not be sold.
Strange laws still on statute books make for interesting subject matter when it comes to this ongoing photo series ‘I Fought the Law’ by Olivia Locher. Locher cleverly parodies the bizarre nature of these unusual US state laws with scenes that prey upon the prohibited acts.
Who knew it was illegal to back pocket ice cream in Alabama?
She says: “Using early pop art as inspiration, I intend to defy rules and regulations across all the remaining US states.”
Way to go rebel! Maybe I’ll start putting my Good Humor bars in my back pocket once I’m over the Mason Dixon line too.
In California Nobody is allowed to ride a bicycle in a swimming pool.
In Utah no one may walk down the street carrying a paper bag containing a violin.
In Rhode Island it is illegal to wear transparent clothing.
In Arizona you may not have more than two dildos in a house.
In Delaware it’s illegal to wear pants that are “form-fitting”around the waist.
In Wisconsin it is illegal to serve apple pie in public restaurants without cheese.
In Texas it is illegal for children to have unusual haircuts.
In Alabama it is illegal to have an ice cream cone in your back pocket at all times.
In Hawaii coins are not allowed to be placed in ones ears.
All images © Olivia Locher
Six years ago, Vancouver based artist Fiona Tang began focusing on a career in ceramics when she discovered she was allergic to the glazes and clay, so, she moved onto painting and drawing. Apparently, switching mediums didn’t hurt, now she’s showcasing these amazing trompe l’oeil* style charcoal and chalk pastel life-sized animals that are seemingly popping out of walls in mid action. For her art is a means “to connect and understand the world around me, also to express and invited the outside world into mine, to see the world through my eyes, through my emotions, my marks, my energy.”
Seen above is Shark vs Humpback Whale (March 2014), and below is The Guardian (2014).
* trompe l’oeil – drawing realistic imagery that makes 2D objects appear 3D.
Brian Steinhoff’s attempts at lessening the shock with a skin trade of floral patterns doesn’t make me blush any less. Matter of fact, I debated whether or not to add NSFW to this post. But my eyes were quick to replace grandma’s bad wallpaper for skins tones and fleshy parts.
Steinhoff’s creative form of discussing the “banality of censorship” makes me think of those late nights trying to bring in films I ought not – trying to make out bodies through the fuzz and static. What I couldn’t see was quickly replaced by my wild adolescent imagination. With form and shape still intact does Steinhoff’s series really hide anything? Or does it represent the things/images we inevitably can’t control?
*See more images from the series Porn for the Whole Family here.