This video on Vox does a great job of explaining so-called “white” paintings by artists like Robert Ryman, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly, and so on, as examples of Minimalism and where these fit in the story of modern and contemporary art. Some of these paintings — including one that was essentially a blank white canvas — has sold for tens of millions of dollars at auction in recent years. It sparks the never-ending debate about what is and isn’t “art” and brings up the the often expressed sentiment of “I could do that” among the skeptical art-viewing public.
Our annual New Year’s ritual of doing some house cleaning and organizing, throwing things out and making room for all the stuff we got as Xmas gifts, yielded this small trove of matchbooks and matchboxes. We must have picked up these from various restaurants and shops because the designs struck us in some way at the moment we saw them. Each design is distinct and an exercise in branding. These matches are from the New York City outpost of the restaurant Mission Chinese; James Beach, a restaurant in Venice Beach; Esquelito, a jewelry store in Echo Park, Los Angeles and the Spanish word for “skeleton”; the Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo, New York; and Love Adorned, another jewelry shop with branches in NYC and LA.
The current mural at the “Bowery Wall” (a.k.a., the “Deitch Wall”) in downtown New York City is an epic, colorful composition of 3D block letters and abstract 2D graphical shapes.
The massive painting is by the artist Lakwena and its message “Lift you higher” could be describing the artwork itself. It’s a bright, aesthetically cheery artwork that has all the right pleasure-centering amounts of visual flavor crystals added to it.
The MoMA (that’s the Museum of Modern Art in the New York-fucking-City) has recently launched a web video series on YouTube called “At the Museum,” and we, savvy reader, are L-O-V-I-N-G it. (See video below!)
It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the innermost workings of one of the world’s greatest art museums as it prepares to mount a major exhibition. It’s documentary-like, but only to a point. The tone is more cinema-verite in a reality-TV-show way, but produced in ultra-understated, high-minimalist style. There’s no narration. No explanation. No formal sit-down interviews. When staff do talk to the camera, it’s while they’re working, doing the mundane daily tasks of their jobs, like the way witnesses in an episode of “Law and Order” always answer detectives’ questions at their place of work while continuing to do whatever it was they were doing (unloading a truck, wiping down a bar, butchering meat, etc.).
“At the Museum” may have documentary and reality TV bones in its basic visual-narrative architecture, but its manner is the polar opposite of the chaos, Real-Housewivery or Kardashian-Jennerisms we’ve become accustomed to from contemporary reality TV. And it’s far away from anything by Ken Burns or Werner Herzog. No pans, no scans, no slow zooms, no German accents, no depressive anecdotes.
Each episode of “At the Museum” is about ten-minutes long and focuses on some aspect of the museum from the mundane to the important, e.g., shipping and receiving of the artwork. There’s high drama, too, but it’s not obvious and it’s largely confined to the nuances of the art world and its culture and codes. There’s much being said and interpreted in the raised eyebrow or long pause in speech by one of the many MoMA staff, some of whom seem like walking-talking art-world cliches straight outta Central Casting.
But these are real people. The type of people who live, breathe, eat, drink, fuck and poop art, and the type who love their jobs, for whom displaying a small Max Ernst sculpture a quarter centimeter higher on a platform makes all the difference. And we love it! Watch this series.
We just learned that her new mural has now been completed and the artist has posted a photo (below) of the new artwork on her socials.
The precise location of Maya’s new mural was a bit of a mystery, but we can now confirm that it is in a space at the new Google Flatiron pop-up at 5th Avenue and 16th Street in NYC’s Flatiron neighborhood.
Ok. That is all. Now back to your regularly scheduled weekend.
… More details to come, but here’s a pic from Maya of the work in progress.
We’re back after a “few days” hiatus. The break was in part due to Columbus Day, a U.S. national holiday, that for many people, including us, is not a holiday at all. More on that later.
But first … Did you miss us? NO? Well, we missed YOU, savvy reader!
What with the Columbus Day non-holiday stuff and — more to the point — really good surf arriving these past couple of weeks in California after a month of no good surf, we took a few days off from posting.
And then those few days became a week. A week became weekS!
All that time, roaming up and down the SoCal coastline hunting waves AND trying to get work done. Emphasis on “trying.” We didn’t get a lot of work done, at least in terms of posting to this site.
But we did take lots and lots of pix for this site and saw a lot of art in the service of reporting it on this site.
So, Columbus Day non-holiday holiday.
The U.S. government and its related entities, as well as all banks, take this day off. They shut their doors, let their calls go to voicemail, and fuck-off for a Monday.
In the process, they extend their weekend for additional and various weekendy non-work activities like …
- Day drinking
- Home improvement/DIY stuff
- Catching up on and binge-watching their favorite TV shows
- Epic shopping excursions to big-box retailers like Costco and WalMart.
- Road trips up the coast
- Road trips down the coast
- Road trips to the coast …
- Road trips away from the coast
- Supplemental day drinking
That kind of stuff.
Some public and private companies observe the holiday and give their employees the day off, too. But it’s kind of scattershot.
When we were working in the advertising and branding agency world in New York City, most of the companies gave us Columbus Day off.
Not so at our current company or most of the same kind of advertising and branding agencies here on the West Coast.
Columbus Day is kind of a bigger deal in NYC. There’s an annual Columbus Day parade there that celebrates the legacy of Italian Americans.
There are statues of Columbus, and in Midtown Manhattan especially, steps away from Central Park and the Trump International Tower and a Whole Foods, is a traffic circle (what Brits call a “roundabout”) named Columbus Circle. In middle of it is a tall column topped by a statue of Columbus. See photo above.
Columbus is a controversial figure as a symbol of historical celebration, which is understandable. The Italian navigator who sailed for Spain and discovered the “New World” is a symbol of imperialism, colonialism, and genocide for some. Increasingly, It seems the statue’s days may be numbered.
His legacy, however, can’t be denied, for good or ill. And one byproduct of his legacy, in the U.S., at least, is an annual national holiday that befuddles a nation of gainfully employed populaces who just want some clarity on whether they get the day off from work and can spend that day off to go day drinking, etc. (see bullet list above).
Another byproduct is the amazing on-site art installation by artist Tatsu Nishi in 2012 titled “Living Room,” wherein the Japanese artist constructed a temporary apartment living room around the that statue of Columbus atop the column in NYC’s Columbus Circle, making it the centerpiece of a living room.
Let’s be clear, we want the day off. So how about calling it “Controversial Historic Legacies Rememberances Day” or something like that? And then go day drinking? Or to WalMart.
Whatever it’s called, either everybody should get the day off or nobody should. Consistency, folks. Consistency! (Granted, unlike our posts … but we’re working on that.)
News flash, kids! Times change! What was shocking once, now evokes a weary “Meh!” When that crushing realization is made, it can be kind of depressing for some, forcing people to ask themselves “What’s it all mean?” and to think really hard for a moment about one’s ever-shrinking relevance and relative smallness in the scheme of the Universe.
Or, to put it another way: Some shit just don’t resonate anymore and nobody gives a flying f*ck.
The artist Claes Oldenburg and his chief collaborator Coosje van Bruggen, a GIANT of post-modern pop art probably best known for his literally GIANT artworks, may have elicited “Oohs” and “Aahs” when his art installation of a GIANT ashtray overflowing with GIANT cigarette butts hit the public back in the day. The artwork is titled “Giant Fagends” (which might be funny to some subset of rural American teenage boys) and was created way before our time in 1967. (In case you didn’t know, “Fagends” is the British English word for cigarette butts.) It is a major artwork by a major artist that any major museum or serious major collector would be stoked to have in their major collection.
But spotting this fun and playful artwork with a sudden rush of art-nerd enthusiasm in the Whitney Museum in New York City, we were a bit surprised to see so many museum visitors — uh, almost everybody, actually — walk by it with scarcely an intrigued glance during a 10-minute period.
First, this says something about Whitney Museum visitors, which is a mix of aforementioned art-nerds, art-worlders, hipsters, students and tourists. Art-nerds and many art-worlders aside, lot of them don’t know shit about art, or they’re tired or bored and don’t even want to be at the museum.
And, for the art-nerds/-worlders and hipsters and those who are interested in art and do want to be at the museum, there’s just so damn much to see at the Whitney. Sure, it’s not the gargantuan MoMA, but it’s still huge. It’s a treasure trove of an art collection and is among the finest in the world. But it can be exhausting. (Granted, this is pretty much true for any major museum.)
More importantly, it says something about where art is at, mon amis! With each passing hour, “Giant Fagends” has to compete for human attention with an ever-faster, ever-growing body of artworks and media, in the museum, in the city, on the streets, in other galleries, on the Internet, on your iPhone, in your InstaSnapFaceTwitter feed.
But don’t despair. In the five decades since Oldenburg birthed “Giant Fagends,” contemporary art as we know has evolved and arrived in greater volume, in more mediums (media?), at greater scale and in more surprising ways, in an exponential explosion of richly diverse creative output, that is more than we can keep track up in our present uber-information-over-loaded era. Hooray and awesome!
And this is a testament to the power and influence of Oldenburg’s work and other artists and artworks like it. It was ground-breaking, pioneering, original and genius, and it opened the minds of creators and viewers alike to the possibilities of what art was and could be, where it was going, where it could go.
Sooooooo. Amen. Word. #shook. Go to the Whitney — and if you’re lucky! — “Giant Fagends” will still be on view.
The wheat-paste street art of artist “Bunny M” depicts a mysterious mythical humanoid that reads at a glance like an artifact of dark, foreboding Japanese manga comic book illustration enshrined on the brick and stone walls of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Pictured here is one in Nolita in downtown New York City.
The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles has an ongoing program where it invites artists to create on-site wall paintings specific to the museum in its cavernous lobby. In the current exhibition rotation is new work Brooklyn-based artist Kenny Scharf, a fixture of New York’s 1980s and ’90s East Village art scene.