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kottke.org posts about Art

A People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 19, 2021

a discolored dollar bill found after Hurricane Sandy

a slipper found after Hurricane Katrina

a collection of tools from Anarctica

For the last ten years, artist Amy Balkin has been collecting artifacts related to the climate crisis. The collection is called A People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting.

A People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting is a collection of materials contributed by people living in places that may disappear because of the combined physical, political, and economic impacts of climate change, primarily sea level rise, erosion, desertification, and glacial melting.

From a piece about the archive in the New Yorker:

There is an incredible pathos to Balkin’s collection of things. In the light of imagined future eyes, tinged by loss, all manner of things become relevant that would otherwise pass unnoticed. Even two beer-bottle caps, in this context, are mesmerizing. Both are from places that are threatened with a certain kind of disappearance, or, at the very least, radical change; through their corrosion and fading, they seemed to foretell this disappearance somehow. And yet, paradoxically, looking at them, I knew that these pieces of metal would likely outlast me. A future person might see them in a museum, displayed with a label that reads “Beer-bottle caps, common in this time.” But what would that person’s world be like? What would be lost, between now and then, even as these fragments are shored up against ruin?

You can contribute to the archive — instructions for sending in an artifact are here.

Swirling Clay Landscape Sculptures

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 19, 2021

a blue sky and green field landscape sculpted from clay

a blue sky and green field landscape sculpted from clay

a blue sky, green field, and river landscape sculpted from clay

Alisa Lariushkina uses air-dry clay to make swirling sculptures that look like landscape paintings. Lariushkina’s patterns and color palette evoke the style of Post-Impressionist painters — indeed she’s even recreated van Gogh’s Starry Night in clay. (via my modern met)

A Small Store

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 18, 2021

illustration of a Korean convenience store with a tree with yellow leaves outside of it

illustration of a Korean convenience store

illustration of a Korean convenience store with a fruit tree outside of it

Always great to check back in on the work of Me Kyeoung Lee, who has been drawing delicate & detailed portraits of convenience stores from around Korea. Check out her Instagram for more work and some behind-the-scenes — I was surprised at how large some of her drawings are. (via colossal)

Star Wars Oil Paintings

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 15, 2021

oil painting of Star Wars X-Wing fighters

oil painting of Star Wars X-Wing fighters and the Millennium Falcon

oil painting of Star Wars X-Wing fighters and the Death Star

oil painting of Star Wars X-Wing fighters

Check out these expressive impressionist oil paintings of scenes from Star Wars by Naci Caba. (He also does paintings of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.) Seeing futuristic sci-fi rendered in this medium is giving me a bit of cognitive dissonance.

You can buy prints and even the original oil paintings in his shop or at Etsy. (via digg)

Foraged Mushroom Collages

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 08, 2021

mushrooms and other foraged items arranged in a colorful display

mushrooms and other foraged items arranged in a colorful display

mushrooms and other foraged items arranged in a colorful display

Using foraged mushrooms, berries, leaves, moss, and other natural materials, Heather Brooks makes these lovely and lively colorful collages, which she displays on Instagram and offers prints of on Etsy and on her website. (via life is so beautiful)

Dynamic Ribboned Sculptures by Isabel Miramontes

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 07, 2021

sculpture of a woman walking, her dress flaring out

sculpture of two people intertwined in an embrace

sculpture of a man playing an invisible violin

It’s quite a neat trick of the artistically gifted to make figures cast in solid bronze seem like they’re moving, and that’s exactly what Isabel Miramontes has done with her ribboned sculptures of people. (via colossal)

A Rubens Masterpiece? Or a Fake?

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 05, 2021

This is Samson and Delilah, a painting attributed to the Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens that hangs in the National Gallery in Britain.

a painting of Samson and Delilah attributed to the Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens

Since the late 90s, there’s been some doubt cast upon the painting’s authorship, summarized in this short video:

From a recent piece in the Guardian about an AI art-analysis algorithm that declared Samson and Delilah is not a Rubens painting:

Critics have long argued that it is only a copy of a Rubens original that is known to have been painted between 1608 and 1609 for his Antwerp patron Nicolaas Rockox which then disappeared after his death in 1640.

They argue that the National Gallery picture is a different painting, one that only surfaced in 1929, declared a Rubens by Ludwig Burchard, an expert who, after his death in 1960, was found to have misattributed paintings by giving out certificates of authenticity for commercial gain.

The picture’s critics dismiss its colours as uncharacteristic of Rubens’s palette and its composition as awkward. They question why, for example, it differs from two contemporary copies made from Rubens’s original. The toes of Samson’s outstretched right foot, for example, are cropped in the National Gallery version, while they are shown in an engraving by Jacob Matham and a painting that depicts the Samson and Delilah hanging in Rockox’s home by Frans Francken the Younger.

Disgustingly Beautiful Mold Art

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 30, 2021

colorful mold in a petri dish

colorful mold in a petri dish

colorful mold in a petri dish

colorful mold in a petri dish

Artist Dasha Plesen combines molds, bacteria, spores, and other objects in petri dishes to create these colorful abstract photographs. You can find more of her work on Behance and Instagram. (via neatorama)

Fine Balloon Art

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 28, 2021

Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco Goya, rendered in balloons

Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio, rendered in balloons

Balloon artist DJ Morrow has been branching out recently. Morrow makes elaborate balloon animals and other things but two of his latest creations are his amazing interpretations of Francisco Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son and Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio. I can’t stop looking at these. And prints are available! (thx, caroline)

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 21, 2021

the Arc de Triomphe, wrapped in a layer of fabric

the Arc de Triomphe, wrapped in a layer of fabric

For the next two weeks, L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris will be wrapped, an installation that realizes a project begun by the late husband and wife team Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 1961.

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, a temporary artwork for Paris, is on view for 16 days from Saturday, September 18 to Sunday, October 3, 2021. The project has been realized in partnership with the Centre des Monuments Nationaux and in coordination with the City of Paris. It also receives the support of the Centre Pompidou. The Arc de Triomphe is wrapped in 25,000 square meters of recyclable polypropylene fabric in silvery blue, and with 3,000 meters of red rope.

In 1961, three years after they met in Paris, Christo and Jeanne-Claude began creating works of art in public spaces. One of their projects was to wrap a public building. When he arrived in Paris, Christo rented a small room near the Arc de Triomphe and had been attracted by the monument ever since. In 1962, he made a photomontage of the Arc de Triomphe wrapped, seen from the Avenue Foch and, in 1988, a collage. 60 years later, the project will finally be concretized.

Jeanne-Claude died in 2009 and Christo followed in 2020, so the project was completed by their team according to their wishes. I would have liked to have seen this in person…The Gates in NYC were wonderful.

“Art Is Everything”

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 14, 2021

In this wonderful short documentary by Lydia Cornett, we meet Yves Deshommes and observe him moving through his many responsibilities and interests in life, including being an NYC concierge, art dealing, raising his daughter, playing the violin, and helping his home country of Haiti.

Deshommes, who grew up in Haiti, came to New York on a student visa in 1985. He was seventeen years old, and when his visa expired he became undocumented. He lived with an older brother and took classes day and night and through the summer in order to finish high school in two years. “I became a man the moment I set foot on U.S. soil, full of responsibility,” he told me. He started playing the violin a few years later, with teachers at the Harlem School of the Arts. He was soon practicing several hours a day and working long shifts at Pizza Hut. He felt that he was too old to train as a professional, but his practice had become central to his life: “Music was the escape, music was the goal. Music was what made me achieve great things,” he said. “The violin gives me a discipline where I feel I can conquer anything.”

Dancing NYC Subway Mosaics by Nick Cave

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 07, 2021

NYC subway mosaic pattern by Nick Cave featuring dancing figures

NYC subway mosaic pattern by Nick Cave featuring dancing figures

Oh, I really like this new NYC subway mosaic installed in the corridor between Times Square and Bryant Park designed by Nick Cave.1 It’s based on Cave’s Soundsuits project, full-body suits that “camouflage the shape of the wearer, enveloping and creating a second skin that hides gender, race, and class, thus compelling the audience to watch without judgment”. From a NY Times piece on the mosaic:

The Soundsuits have always been an amalgam of cultural references, Cave explained: the concepts of shamans and masquerade, obscuring the race, gender and class of the wearer and forging a new identity. They contain ties to Africa, the Caribbean and Haiti.

“It’s very important that you can make references, you can connect to something,” Cave said. “In one of the mosaics in the corridor, there’s a sneaker. So that brings it to this urban, right-now time.”

From beneath a pink-and-black cloak of raffia, carefully crafted out of glass shards, pokes a contemporary sneaker in shades of salmon, white and maroon. Cave likes the play that’s happening here: The form is sometimes figurative, sometimes abstract. “Sometimes it’s identifiable and sometimes it’s not,” he said. “But that’s the beauty of it all.”

(thx, caroline)

  1. No, not that Nick Cave.

Colorful Pencil Portraits

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 25, 2021

colorful portrait of a woman wearing glasses

colorful portrait of Steve Buscemi

Loving these portraits from Lui Ferreyra, particularly the top one, which is a little Impressionistic — the colors remind me particularly of van Gogh and Seurat. Ok fine, it’s not Impressionism but it’s not not Impressionism either. (via colossal)

In the Midst of Disaster

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 25, 2021

a man slipping in the shower

a man falling down the stairs

Control meets chaos in these carefully arranged images from Kerry Skarbakka’s series The Struggle to Right Oneself.

A Restored Vermeer Painting, Now with Bonus Cupid

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 24, 2021

a restored version of Johannes Vermeer's painting Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window alongside the painting before restoration

Only 34 paintings by Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, art history’s foremost painter of Side Views of People Doing Things Near Windows, have been known to survive to the present day, so when one of them is restored, it’s a big deal. The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden shared the first image of the completed restoration of Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window — and you might notice a pretty big change on the wall behind the girl.

The painting has been in the museum’s collection for more than 250 years and the hidden Cupid had been known about since an x-ray in 1979 and infrared reflectography in 2009. It had been assumed that the artist himself had altered the composition by covering over the painting of Cupid.

But when a major restoration project began in May 2017, conservators discovered that the paint on the wall in the background of the painting, covering the naked Cupid, had in fact been added by another person. When layers of varnish from the 19th century began to be removed from the painting, the conservators discovered that the “solubility properties” of the paint in the central section of the wall were different to those elsewhere in the painting.

Following further investigations, including tests in an archaeometry laboratory, it was discovered that layers of binding agent and a layer of dirt existed between the image of Cupid and the overpainting. The conservators concluded that several decades would have passed between the completion of one layer and the addition of the next and therefore concluded that Vermeer could not have painted over the Cupid himself.

There is a certain aesthetic amenity to the bare wall in the altered version but maaaybe the original Cupid lends the painting some figurative meaning?

1800s Astronomical Drawings vs. Modern NASA Images

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 23, 2021

I love this post from the NYPL comparing astronomical drawings by E.L. Trouvelot done in the 1870s to contemporary NASA images.

Trouvelot was a French immigrant to the US in the 1800s, and his job was to create sketches of astronomical observations at Harvard College’s observatory. Building off of this sketch work, Trouvelot decided to do large pastel drawings of “the celestial phenomena as they appear…through the great modern telescopes.”

He made drawings of Saturn, Jupiter, aurora borealis, the Milky Way, and more. Here’s his incredible drawing of sun spots compared to a recent image of the Sun’s surface:

a drawing of sun spots

the sun

And his drawing of a solar eclipse compared to a recent image:

a drawing of a total solar eclipse

modern photo of a solar eclipse

Check out the post for more examples of Trouvelot’s work.

Household Surrealism by Helga Stentzel

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 23, 2021

an orange blanket and a book arranged on a sofa to look like a fox

two windows and some hanging laundry that look like a face

two washing machines and socks hanging on a laundry basket that look like a face

Often using the phenomenon of pareidolia, Helga Stentzel arranges common household items to resemble faces, animals, and other fun characters. You can find prints of some of her creations on her website.

Miniature Life

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 19, 2021

tiny chefs preparing food on domino 'stoves'

two tiny men swimming in ramen noodles

a group of tiny people looking at a sushi roll pie chart

tiny people shooting at mahjong 'targets'

a tiny Neo (from The Matrix) dodges spaghetti 'bullets'

Since 2011, Tatsuya Tanaka has been creating daily images of miniature people in the midst of everyday items that resemble bigger things (think broccoli as trees, rows of staples as countertops, floating leaves as boats). Here’s a short video of Tanaka at work on his miniatures:

You can follow his work on his website or on Instagram. (thx, porter)

Animated Embroidery

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 19, 2021

I love these little stop motion videos by Huw Messie (using Processing, I think) that use embroidery for the animation.

You can check out more of Messie’s work on Vimeo, Instagram, and NFT repository hic et nunc.

Reconstructed Portraits

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 05, 2021

artwork by Karen Navarro

artwork by Karen Navarro

artwork by Karen Navarro

artwork by Karen Navarro

These images are drawn from Argentinian-born artist Karen Navarro’s projects El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos (Belonging in Modern Times) and The Constructed Self. You can also find her on Instagram.

The HD Video Feedback Kinetic Sculpture

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 30, 2021

Here’s a description of what the machine featured in this video does: “The HD Video Feedback Kinetic Sculpture creates fractals and organic-looking images in real-time, without a computer: this is old-school video feedback.” But just watch the video for the full effect — this thing produces some amazing imagery.

This is part sculpture, part performance art, and may make the most complex video feedback ever created, using three cameras, two video switchers, a sheet of beam-splitter glass, and an HDMI input from a phone or live video feed.

Much like a musical instrument, the operator at the helm of this device plays it, but instead of making sounds, makes entire worlds, spirals within spirals, loops within loops, galaxies, classical fractal imagery and primordial organisms, leaves, trees, and insects. It really is the God machine.

Minimalist Creative Funny Photography

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 29, 2021

a woman stands in front of a large subway map and her hat appears to be a station

a woman and a tree lean the same way in front of a building

a woman stands in front of a wall covered in holes and her hat appears to be one of the holes

architectural dots on a wall appear to be raining down on a woman holding an umbrella

a woman appears to be pulling an architectural element across a wall

Spanish photographers Anna Devís and Daniel Rueda cleverly use landscapes and architectural elements to create minimalist and fun portraits of themselves. You can check out more of their work on Instagram. (via moss & fog)

How to Draw Yourself as a Peanuts Character

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 22, 2021

In this video, The Snoopy Show storyboard artist Krista Porter and Apple’s Anthony Jackson show us how to draw yourself as a Peanuts character. Once you get past all of the Apple synergy stuff (Pages! Pencil! Apple TV+!), this is actually pretty neat and you can obviously do it with any device/app or even pencil & paper. They’ve even included a PDF of drawing references to make it easier.

different faces drawn for Peanuts comic strip characters

See also Watch Charles Schulz Draw Charlie Brown — it takes him about 35 seconds. (via print)

Hilma af Klint, the Life of an Artist

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 19, 2021

On his Art History School YouTube channel, Paul Priestley gives a short but thorough overview of the life and work of pioneering abstract artist Hilma af Klint.

Hilma af Klint shared an interest in the spiritual with the other pioneers of abstract art including Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, and Piet Mondrian. And like Hilma af Klint many were drawn to Theosophy, which opened a route towards a new world of spiritual reality, rather than merely depicting visual impressions of the world around them.

Had she not kept her abstract work secret she would surely have held the accolade of producing the world’s first abstract paintings. Instead, Kandinsky’s paintings of 1911 would, until recently, come to be recognised as the first abstract works of art.

(via open culture)

Great Art Explained: van Gogh’s Starry Night

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 01, 2021

Bear with me, I am on a bit of an art kick lately. As I said earlier this week, I’ve been slowly working my way through James Payne’s Great Art Explained video series. But then — bang! — he came out with a new episode on Vincent van Gogh and his masterpiece, Starry Night. Having seen this painting in person for the first time in a few years just days ago at MoMA, I abandoned the back catalog and dug in to this new one immediately.

Van Gogh is one of my favorites — I spent several happy hours at his museum in Amsterdam in 2017 — and Payne does a good job of contextualizing his life and work around the time he painted Starry Night, particularly the emphasis on the influence of Japanese art on his work and his probable incorporation of spiral galaxy imagery into Starry Night. Highly recommended, especially if you’ve seen the painting in person.

Frida Gets Personal

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 01, 2021

Evan Puschak looks at how the personal nature, intimacy, and stylistic approachability have given Frida Kahlo’s work enduring and increasing popularity.

Great Art Explained: Michelangelo’s David

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 30, 2021

Great Art Explained is one of my favorite newish YouTube channels and I’ve been slowly working my way through their back catalogue. Today’s watch was a 15-minute explanation of one of the signature masterpieces of the Renaissance, Michelangelo’s David. The details related to the carving of the swollen jugular vein and the variable visibility of the veins in the hands is fantastic. (via open culture)

American Gothic + 1 and Other Restored Masterpieces

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 29, 2021

Last week I posted about the digital “restoration” of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch with the help of an AI program.

Using a contemporary copy of the full scene painted by Gerrit Lundens and an AI program for getting the colors and angles right, the Rijksmuseum has “restored” The Night Watch, augmenting the painting with digital printouts of the missing bits.

Edith Zimmerman got access to this technology and ran some of her own experiments of famous artworks. You may be shocked and delighted at what she found.

the iconic American Gothic painting with an extra person

A Rembrandt Masterpiece Uncropped by AI

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 24, 2021

a full frame version of Rembrandt's The Night Watch painting

In 1715, a significant chunk of Rembrandt’s masterpiece The Night Watch, including a 2-foot-wide swath from the left side of the painting, was lopped off in order to fit the painting in a smaller space. (WTF?!) Using a contemporary copy of the full scene painted by Gerrit Lundens and an AI program for getting the colors and angles right, the Rijksmuseum has “restored” The Night Watch, augmenting the painting with digital printouts of the missing bits. The uncropped Rembrandt is shown above and here is Lundens’s version:

Gerrit Lundens' version of Rembrandt's The Night Watch painting

I’m not an expert on art, but the 1715 crop and the shift of the principal characters from right-of-center to the center appears to have radically altered the whole feel of the painting.

With the addition especially on the left and the bottom, an empty space is created in the painting where they march towards. When the painting was cut [the lieutenants] were in the centre, but Rembrandt intended them to be off-centre marching towards that empty space, and that is the genius that Rembrandt understands: you create movement, a dynamic of the troops marching towards the left of the painting.

(via @john_overholt)

See 1540 Paintings by Claude Monet in Two Hours

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 24, 2021

In just over two hours, this video presents 1540 paintings by impressionist master Claude Monet, a significant portion of his lifetime output. This is a really intriguing way to look at art. It’s not in-person and you don’t get a lot of time with each piece, but the video is HD, you can pause or slow the playback speed, and by seeing a lot of work over a short span of time, you can get a real sense of the stylistic choices and variations across Monet’s oeuvre — a view of the forest rather than the trees. (via open culture)