SPOTLIGHT: Kehinde Wiley

 

American Artist_Kehinde Wiley

 

American Artist, Kehinde Wiley‘s work is a colorful blend of traditional and contemporary roots seen in his trademark over sized portraits where young men and women 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 ‘art house 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.

 

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“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:

  • Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic at The Toledo Museum of Art (On view Feb. 10-May 14, 2017) offers an overview of the artist’s prolific 14-year career. His signature portraits of everyday men and women riff on paintings by Old Masters, replacing European aristocrats in those paintings with contemporary black subjects and drawing attention to the absence of African-Americans from historical and cultural narratives
  • Not convinced that you need to see the exhibit?  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 on demand 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 now in circulation and editorial imprints, try Artsy’s resource.

 

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Spotlight: Kerry James Marshall

Spotlight: Kerry James Marshall black history month

Spotlight: Kerry James Marshall black history month

Kerry James Marshall, was born in Birmingham, AL in 1955. Needless to say he was born into a world of murder, turmoil, and sadness for African-Americans everywhere. He has said in the past that it was impossible for his art not to have been influenced by his birthplace.

One of Mr. Marshall’s core beliefs is that “we all stand on the shoulders of giants.” Some of his greatest influences have been classic pieces of art, their structure and their subject matter. He developed this idea in his work and has applied many of these influences to creating his own Black masterpieces.

As Mr. Marshall would walk the hall of various museums, he noticed a striking difference between the busts of African heroes and the ones of Greco-Roman heroes. There was animation, aggressiveness, and heroism in those busts, while the African pieces were static, inert, and passive. Why couldn’t Black people be depicted as the Greco-Romans were?

From that idea came modeling his subjects as superheroes. Superheroes have been mostly White through the ages, and it was one of his ways of taking back power in Black imagery. The positive associations and feeling that superheroes engender were exactly what Mr. Marshall was seeking. Power, positivity, and heroism, long absent in representation.

For this idea, he hearkened back to his childhood and his love of superhero comic books. The irony that in this case, he stood on his own “shoulders” this time is very powerful, and he resurrected a long-dormant idea. There was power in blackness that had long been hidden, and questioned by the White world. He furthered this idea by depicting his figures as the blackest of black. This beautiful color was often highlighted by his colorful backgrounds. It was a lovely sight.

The other thing that struck this reporter about his art were his depictions of houses, all closed up from the outside, but inside, animated and warm. What went on behind the closed doors of Black folks? The maids, field hands, servants, slaves? What were their secret dreams and desires? To the rest of Caucasian America this was certainly a mystery. Exposing the secret yearnings and often sad and powerful world behind these doors is another goal of Mr. Marshall’s art. The overarching idea is that there is power and heroism in Blackness, and we need to spread the word.

“I am trying to establish a phenomenal presence that is unequivocally black and beautiful. It is my conviction that the most instrumental, insurgent painting for this moment must be of figures, and those figures must be black, unapologetically so.” — Kerry James Marshall

Spotlight: Kerry James Marshall black history month

Kerry James Marshall (American, born Birmingham, Alabama 1955)
Untitled (Studio), 2014
Acrylic on PVC panels; 83 5/16 × 119 1/4 in . (211.6 × 302.9 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation Gift, Acquisitions Fund and The Metropolitan Museum of Art Multicultural Audience Development Initiative Gift, 2015

 

Spotlight: Kerry James Marshall black history month

KERRY JAMES MARSHALL, “School of Beauty, School of Culture,” 2012 (acrylic on canvas). | Collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art; Museum purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth (Bibby) Smith, the Collectors Circle for Contemporary Art, Jane Comer, the Sankofa Society, and general acquisition funds. Photo courtesy MCA Chicago

 

Learn More:

  • If you missed his latest exhibition ‘Mastery’ at The Met, not to worry.  The audio guide for the exhibit is still up on the museum’s website.  You’ll find out more about his inspirations from Renaissance masterpieces to comic books—the discussion is led by a Met curator and the artist himself as they explore details and share the remarkable stories behind select works in the exhibition.

The Gallery You Wear: Art History Inspired Tattoos

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt Tattoo: Rita “Rit Kit” Zolotukhina

Great works of art are timeless, transcending the artists who created them. Sometimes stepping in a museum to view them simply isn’t enough. These art history inspired tattoos prove that for some, canvasing the art – embedding it into flesh, was their passion made tangible.

Each tattoo finds me putting much thought into what the significance is for the wearer; wanting to connect with them on culturally personal level. I’ve never been one for tattoos, but after seeing how these art lovers infused their world with beauty and cultural history, I might just be a believer yet.

Art History Inspired Tattoos_Rothko

Rothko Tattoo: Jamie Luna

Bicycle Wheel by Marcel Duchamp

Bicycle Wheel by Marcel Duchamp Tattoo: Lucas Cordeiro

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai Tattoo: Oozy

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock Tattoo: Anton Senkov

Vincent Van Gogh's "Night Cafe"

Vincent Van Gogh’s “Night Cafe” Tattoo:99Tattoo Design

Starry Night by Van Gogh

Starry Night by Van Gogh Tattoo: Bob Price

Water Serpents I and II by Gustav Klimt

Water Serpents I and II by Gustav Klimt
Tattoo: Amanda Wachob

Picasso (left) and Matisse (right)

Picasso (left) and Matisse (right) Photo credit: Cristina Folsom

Keith Harring

Keith Harring Tattoo: Megan Oliver

Banana by Andy Warhol

Banana by Andy Warhol Photo source: Postmodernism Ruined Me

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein Tattoo: Deanna Wardin

Via [My Modern Met]

Steffen Dam’s Cabinets of Curiosities

Steffen Dam

Danish artist, Steffen Dam’s grandfather, born in 1893, was a passionate amateur in the field of natural history.  As a child, Dam enjoyed pouring over his grandfather’s library of scientific books full of illustrations of specimens.

Today Dam, a highly skilled glass blower, uses his affinity for natural history to create his imaginatively wonderful backlit “Cabinets of Curiosities”.

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Mimicked oceanic specimens in glass cylinders seemingly containing liquid and air bubbles become optical illusions; the translucent character of the glass object in the cylinder imitates sea life. His specimens aren’t actually objects found in nature, rather a quirky re-writing of the biological world.

“I have been working with glass for 25 years. Initially I was blowing glass, but over the years casting, grinding and techniques from other crafts emerged. My aim is to describe the world as I see it. One could also say to describe what’s not tangible and understandable with our everyday senses. My cylinders contain nothing that exists in the ocean, my specimens are plausible but not from this world, my plants are only to be found in my compost heap, and my flowers are still unnamed.”

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*photos taken by HAHA MAG

Astro Creates Massive Optical Illusion Mural

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If your stroll down the street suddenly feels like you’re portaling into another dimension, you may have stumbled into one of Astro’s massive illusions.  Parisian graffiti artist Astro creates optical illusion murals that draw viewers into unreachable realms.  His trademark curves and abstract calligraphy shapes recently turned up on a residential building in Loures, Portugal, just south of Lisbon for the urban art project Loures Art Publica.

Check out the sweet pics below.

 

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Astro: Website Instagram

via [MyModernMet]

All images via Astro.

Insomnia: Our Mild Obsession with Colombian Artist Omar Castaneda

Last year at the Pinta Art Fair in Miami, I walked away mildly obsessed with the work of Colombian artist, Omar Castaneda.  His imagery is so ‘in your face’.

Castaneda is committed to the local culture of Columbia – exposing their socio-political issues with concepts and materials related to food and animals, since according to him, that is the basis of the people, the culture and their habits.  Using these common elements, he dissects the past of towns and regions, tells personal stories and recreates armed conflicts, both current and past.

As his art delivers this message with what could fairly be described as disturbing imagery, it delves into the explorations of subjects and materials related to his native South America.  Castaneda’s inspiration and resource is food – A basic human necessity, food is loaded with cultural, social and political implications with regard to its value, production, source, and consumption. Food effectively dissolves most preconceived distinctions between nature and culture, production and consumption, morals and markets, family and society, the individual and the collective, body and mind.

Explore below, pieces from his exhibition, ANIMAL GENERATION. Or do some digging of your own over at omarcastaneda.org.

Omar Castaneda

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Thomas Robson: Collision Art

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The absurd defacing of classic portraits juxtaposed with pixelations and thick strokes of pigmented color draw you into British artist Thomas Robson’s amplified work – a modern appropriation of old narratives colliding with a new visually provocative story in hyperbolic color.

His work edges along often dramatic boundaries of graphic and fine art, confronting the viewer with a new contextualization.

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Collsion Art, Yellow on old grounds

Collsion Art, Yellow on old grounds

Collsion Art Landscape

Collsion Art Landscape

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collision art; interventions; Thomas Robson;

collision art; interventions; Thomas Robson;

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boom-art & UWL Go Culturally Stylish with Limited-Edition Surf & Skateboards

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Flowers Triptych Surfboards/ Limited Edition by Jan Davidz de Heen 1606-1684

Leave it up to the French to make surfing and skateboarding a culturally stylish event.  That’s not sarcasm, more like a nod of approval (not that they need it, but I’m giving it).

This special edition line of surf & skateboards from french skateboard company boom-art and European surf giant UWL will never see the water and rightfully so.  The limited editions feature lush and richly colorful works by artistic masters like Jan Davidsz de Heem (1606-1684) and Gustav Klimt (1862-1918).   Each edition is handmade and limited to 10 individually numbered by UWL in France. 

If you were thinking about taking them to a salty death or a vert ramp – each piece comes with a mounting kit – use it, don’t abuse it.

J BOSH 1 SURFBOARD Limited edition 1 Surfboard Bosh The Garden of Earthly Delights 1510

Limited edition 1 Surfboard Bosh The Garden of Earthly Delights 1510

 

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Klimt Surfboards

 

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Flowers Triptych & Diptych Skateboards Limited Edition by Jan Davidz de Heen 1606-1684

 

all images courtesy of boom-art

via DesignBoom

At The Blot of Art

How much attention do you spend staring at your ink-stained cloths?

Tim Moore, fashions that same question with his book, “Tim Moore: Not My Blotting Tissues: A sensitive collection of incidental expression”.

His pictorial book storylines an unseen process of creating incidental art as through the use of blotting tissues he collected from the art studio of artist Del Kathryn Barton. The tissues are streaked and impregnated with brilliant colors and untrained lines that mirror abstract works

Moore worked as Barton’s studio assistant, during that time he collected the delicate white tissues that Barton blotted paintings with or wiped her brushes on. While tissues used to blot pieces of art aren’t the most thrilling of subjects, I suppose I can understand that one can find beauty in the ordinary.

You know what they say, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder’

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To purchase the book, which features 95 images of the tissues, check out Formist’s website.

via The Formist

‘And Then Art Walked Into The Fray’ or the less dramatic title ‘They Called it Moonshine Kingdom’

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“Moonshine Kingdom” on the side of 56 Wyckoff Avenue. Photo by London Kaye

BUSHWICK, NY – Might as well view it now, because it’s gone.  This piece featuring Sam Shakusky from Wes Anderson’s 2012 Moonrise Kingdom holding hands with Delbert Grady’s daughters from The Shining got tangled up in a bigger social conversation – and it ain’t about street art aesthetics.

Yarnbomber, London Kaye (@madebylondon) installed this 15-foot crochet mural on the side of a family’s building adjacent to the Brooklyn Flea in Bushwick.  It was put up without the family’s permission.  In all fairness, Kaye thought she had the owner’s blessing.  Rob Abner, the flea’s founder, gave Kaye permission to erect the crochet piece, Abner did not, however, ask the family if he could decorate the facade of the home.  Rightfully, the family was a bit pissed.  Matters only got worse when their interactions with Abner requesting its removal went poorly (read all about that here, on The Gothamist – where the story was first reported).

Tenant advocate and Bushwick native Will Giron’s aunt owns the property.  In frustration over the artwork being erected without consent, Giron took to Facebook to air his family’s grievances… and that’s all she wrote.  We all know that the internet loves to reblog and comment on issues like this one.

The rage isn’t about the art, the debate is really about gentrification in urban neighbourhoods – it’s not easy to shake.  The lack of permission coupled with the poor communication Giron experienced with Abner just perpetuated the larger problem at hand – a lack of awareness and burgeoning sense of entitlement the residents were feeling from the new communities moving into their neighborhoods.  The beginning of the shift is usually an influx of artists who find the low rents affordable.  They bring a certain flair to the neighborhood which then attracts developers who attract wealthier individuals. While the affect is higher property values, unfortunately, the effect is the displacement of lower-income families and small businesses.

Kaye told The Gothamist

 “The last thing I was thinking about was making somebody upset with my art. The whole thing I wanted to do was make people happy.”

Can’t help but think of the comments I’ve heard in the past questioning the validity of street art’s ability to provoke conversations on social issues…

You really should read the rest of the story at The Gothamist

‘ROLLER DERBY KISSES’ SPORTS BEAUTIFUL BRUISES

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Riikka Hyvönen 2015

 

It’s that old saying come to light, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.  In this case, artist Riikka Hyvönento finds beauty in a roller derby girls’ occupational hazard turned accidental canvas.  Inspired by the feminist, communal spirit of the sport her work reflects the community, fragility, and personal strength of the women who play it.

Roller Derby is high-octane, aggressive, physically demanding competitive contact speed skating sport that originated in the United States (hello Philly Roller Derby Girls).  One gnarly side effect is the technicolor rainbow of bruises the players sport after a particularly rough game.  Bruising is a trophy in this sport – a proudly earned right of passage from a well-played game. 

Hyvönen spent the last year collecting photographs of roller derby girls’ bottoms and converting the bruises – which she calls ‘kisses’ – in giant pop artworks.

“I am objectifying these women totally. But I am doing it exactly in the way they objectify themselves,” Hyvönen says.

“The players fall, and although it hurts, they get up smiling: after the match they are immensely proud of their bruises. Posting photos online and competing in who’s got the most colorful, biggest bruise, is a phenomenon: it would be a shame if no one saw the sign of bravery after a well-played game.

Hyvönen portrays the feminist, communal spirit as one of the essential characteristics of the sport. Even the titles of her works are inspired by the comments posted under the photos the girls have shared on social media:

Oh, Lord. Is That the One That Looks Suspiciously Like My Wheel?! God, I’m Sorry To Have Marked You So :( … Um, Think Of It As A Love Bite? xx” – The Finnish Institute in London

‘Roller Derby Kisses’ is part of an exhibition at the Finnish Institute in King Cross, London, it will run until August 20, 2015.

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Riikka Hyvönen 2015

 

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Riikka Hyvönen 2015

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Riikka Hyvönen 2015

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Riikka Hyvönen 2015

 

Art Smart on the Sly

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.