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kottke.org posts about art

A Relaxing Acrobatic Performance to Debussy’s Clair de Lune

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 06, 2018

Choreographer & acrobat Yoann Bourgeois and pianist Alexandre Tharaud have collaborated on a performance that combines a trampoline, a staircase, and Claude Debussy’s most famous composition, Clair de Lune. Even though I’ve seen a performance from Bourgeois before and knew what was coming, that first drop onto the trampoline was startling.

Three is a trend: slowly shredding some pow to classical music and Clair de Lune in the moonlight. (via @alexchabotl)

Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours

posted by Tim Carmody   Aug 31, 2018

While Isaac Newton and the 17th century were more decisive for understanding the physics of color, you can’t beat the late 18th and early 19th century for a broader, subtler, more humanistic sense of the science of colors. The playwright and polymath J.W. von Goethe built up his Theory of Colours by collecting almost 18,000 meteorological and mineralogical specimens, with an emphasis on subtle distinctions between colors and their psychological perception in nature, rather than wavelengths of light.

Another phenomenal collection of naturalist examples is Abraham Gottlob Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, first published in 1814. An 1821 edition recommends it for “zoology, botany, chemistry, mineralogy, and morbid anatomy.” At My Modern Met, Kelly Richman-Abdou writes:

Nomenclature of Colours served as a must-have reference for artists, scientists, naturalists, and anthropologists alike. The exquisitely rendered guide showcases the earth’s rich range of color by separating it into specific tones. Illustrated only by a small swatch, each handwritten entry is accompanied by a flowery name (like “Arterial Blood Red” and “Velvet Black”) as well as an identifying number. What the book is truly known for, however, is its poetic descriptions of where each tone can be found in nature.

Werner was a German mineralogist who created the system of color classification in the book to help distinguish between his own samples. His Scottish collaborators Patrick Syme and Robert Jameson were a painter and naturalist, respectively, who adapted the system into the book format in which it exists today. As you might guess, each color in the book includes a name, a swatch, and examples from the animal, vegetable, and mineral world showing where each color is found in nature.

werners-nomenclature-of-colours-4.jpg

Probably the most famous user of Werner’s book was Charles Darwin, who used it to help describe animals and other bits of the natural world in his books and journals. But if you think about it, before photography, anything that let naturalists describe what they were seeing in something resembling a universal vocabulary had to be essential. Essential enough that they were willing to produce the book by hand, with no real way to print in color.

Amazon sells a pocket-sized facsimile edition of the book. It may not be as handy as a color wheel for painting a room, but might be handier if you’re identifying bird eggs or a rare bit of stone.

Painting the skin you live in

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 29, 2018

School Colors

For the beginning of school, second-grade teacher Aeriale Johnson had each of her students mix up a container of paint that matched their skin color so they could use it in paintings of themselves during the rest of the school year.

We started with a base of brown or peach tempera for each child then, in small groups, added white, yellow, red, dark brown and/or green to get to just the right hue. They looked like they were at Ulta trying to find foundation. :) The conversations were great!

Go back in time to the Byzantine Empire

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 29, 2018

Antoine Helbert

Antoine Helbert

Antoine Helbert

French illustrator Antoine Helbert is a great fan of the architecture of Byzantium and has created more than two dozen intricate drawings of buildings and monuments in the capitol city of Constantinople spanning a period of almost 1000 years from the 4th century to the 13th century. (via open culture)

An appreciation and brief history of generative art

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 27, 2018

Vera Molnar

In his piece Why Love Generative Art?, Jason Bailey takes us on a short journey through the history of using computers to generate artwork, from the influence of Cézanne to the algorithmic art of Sol Lewitt to the women generative artists in the 60s and 70s, to John Maeda to the AI-generated artworks of the present day.

Imagine for a second that you drew the image above yourself using a pen and a piece of paper and it took you one hour to produce. It would then take you ten hours if you wanted to add ten times the number of squares, right? A very cool and important characteristic of generative art is that Georg Nees could have added thousands more boxes, and it would only require a few small changes to the code.

Unlike analog art, where complexity and scale require exponentially more effort and time, computers excel at repeating processes near endlessly without exhaustion. As we will see, the ease with which computers can generate complex images contributes greatly to the aesthetic of generative art.

The image at the top of the post is a piece done by Vera Molnar in 1974. I’m an instant fan…her stuff is fantastic.

The post also praises the work of Jared Tarbell, which I was obsessed with back in the 2000s. Tarbell’s work is still one of my favorite online things ever.

Jared Tarbell

Jared Tarbell

Jared Tarbell

Tarbell still works with generative art but makes real-life objects using digital fabrication techniques.

Infinite mirrored tunnels

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 23, 2018

Sarah Meyohas

Sarah Meyohas

Sarah Meyohas

Digging this work by Sarah Meyohas. I mean, why do I like these so much? (via colossal)

Pixel Pottery

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 23, 2018

Toshiya Masuda

Toshiya Masuda

Toshiya Masuda

Using traditional materials and techniques to achieve a digital effect, Japanese artist Toshiya Masuda makes this cool ceramic pixel art. (thx, karen)

Watching an art conservator restore a damaged painting

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 20, 2018

There’s something so relaxing about watching art conservator Julian Baumgartner restore this damaged painting, a self-portrait by Italian painter Emma Gaggiotti Richards. I love how he paints tiny cracks in the damaged areas to match those in the rest of the painting.

There are many more videos and photos of Baumgartner’s restoration process on Instagram and YouTube. (via the kid should see this)

The Bob Ross Challenge

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 14, 2018

As a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Micah Sherman and Mark Stetson produced a web series called The Bob Ross Challenge in which 13 comedians attempt to paint along with Bob Ross as he does his thing with the trees and little fluffy clouds. Here’s the first episode, featuring Aparna Nancherla:

I feel like she does a lot better than I would have! The episodes are each less than 2 minutes long…you can burn through the whole season in about 20 minutes. Or if you want to try the challenge yourself, you can watch every episode of The Joy of Painting on YouTube. (via open culture)

Did this unassuming small-town couple steal a $160 million Willem de Kooning painting?

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 04, 2018

De Kooning Stolen

When Jerry and Rita Alter died, a painting was found in their bedroom in the tiny town of Cliff, NM, and then was sold to an antiques dealer along with the rest of their effects for $2000. The dealer soon discovered that the painting was an original Willem de Kooning worth in the neighborhood of $150 million. The painting had been stolen in a daring raid from a Tucson museum in 1985 and a recently discovered piece of evidence shows the Alters were in Tucson on the day before the theft.

De Kooning Stolen

The next morning, a man and a woman would walk into the museum and then leave 15 minutes later. A security guard had unlocked the museum’s front door to let a staff member into the lobby, curator Olivia Miller told NPR. The couple followed. Since the museum was about to open for the day, the guard let them in.

The man walked up to the museum’s second floor while the woman struck up a conversation with the guard. A few minutes later, he came back downstairs, and the two abruptly left, according to the NPR interview and other media reports.

Sensing that something wasn’t right, the guard walked upstairs. There, he saw an empty frame where de Kooning’s “Woman-Ochre” had hung.

At the time, the museum had no surveillance cameras. Police found no fingerprints. One witness described seeing a rust-color sports car drive away but didn’t get the license plate number. For 31 years, the frame remained empty.

Earlier this year, WFAA made a short documentary film about the Alters and the heist.

(If you don’t want to watch the entire video, at least check out the bit starting at 18:00 where the painting is given back to the museum and authenticated…that is something you rarely see on video as it happens.)

Adding to the mystery: the couple obviously never sold the painting but they retired early, travelled the world, and left a $1 million inheritance, all seemingly beyond their means as public school employees.

Something else doesn’t add up. Jerry and Rita Alter worked in public schools for most of their careers. Yet they somehow managed to travel to 140 countries and all seven continents, documenting their trips with tens of thousands of photos.

And yet, when they died, they had more than a million dollars in their bank account, according to the Sun News.

“I guess I figured they were very frugal,” their nephew, Ron Roseman, told WFAA.

Hmm, where did they get all that coin?

Virtually reality

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 30, 2018

From Vladimir Tomin, a fun augmented reality video where he uses a set of image editing tools to manipulate the scenery in fanciful ways. (It’s kinda hard to describe this…just give it 5 seconds and you’ll get the idea.)

(via Instagram’s explore page (yes, I’m the guy who uses the IG explore page))

The artist who paints music

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 26, 2018

Melissa McCracken

Melissa McCracken

Melissa McCracken

Melissa McCracken has synesthesia and experiences seeing the music she listens to as shifting colors. In an old artist statement, McCracken explained how she sees the world differently than many people:

Basically, my brain is cross-wired. I experience the “wrong” sensation to certain stimuli. Each letter and number is colored and the days of the year circle around my body as if they had a set point in space. But the most wonderful “brain malfunction” of all is seeing the music I hear. It flows in a mixture of hues, textures, and movements, shifting as if it were a vital and intentional element of each song.

Great Big Story did a short video profile of McCracken a couple of years ago:

I like how she says she dislikes how some songs sound but likes how they look. What a cool way to be able to experience the world.

McCracken is a bit coy on her site and Instagram about which songs inspired which paintings, but the paintings above are titled Love Is Touching Souls (from a Joni Mitchell lyric), Life on Mars (David Bowie), and Wasn’t It Kind of Wonderful (lyrics from a Lianne La Havas song?).

Sci-fi spaceship designs inspired by everyday objects

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 24, 2018

Eric Geusz

Eric Geusz

Eric Geusz

Eric Geusz takes everyday objects like can openers, tongs, and potato peelers and turns them into spaceships that wouldn’t look out of place in Star Wars or Star Trek.

The last working fore-edge painter in the world

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 19, 2018

This is a short video profile of Martin Frost, who might be the last remaining professional fore-edge painter in the world.

Dating back centuries, the delicate art form places intricate scenes on the side of books, cheekily hidden beneath gold gilded pages. The beautiful paintings are only visible to the trained eye, but once you unlock the secret, you’ll find pure magic.

I love the two-way paintings…you fan the book’s pages out one way it depicts one scene and if you fan them out the other, you get another scene.

The hyperrealistic drawings by this 11-year-old Nigerian artist are incredible

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 17, 2018

Kareem Waris Olamilekan is 11 years old and makes very realistic drawings like these of his friends, family, and other faces he runs across (like Rihanna):

Waspa

Waspa

Olamilekan, who goes by Waspa on Instagram, is inspired by Michelangelo and fellow Nigeria artist Arinze Stanley Egbengwu and is a full-on prodigy in my book. BBC recently did a one-minute video look at Olamilekan’s work:

Luminescent fruit

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 10, 2018

Wojtkiewicz Fruit

Wojtkiewicz Fruit

At first, I thought these images by Dennis Wojtkiewicz were photographs of backlit fruit slices, but they’re actually super-realistic paintings four or five feet across. Ok, “super-realistic” is probably not the right description. Under scrutiny, the images are too perfect. Wojtkiewicz refers to his technique as a “heightened approach to realism”, a conscious journey into the uncanny valley.

Album covers designed by Andy Warhol

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 26, 2018

Of course you know he designed the album cover for The Velvet Underground & Nico…Warhol’s name (and not the band’s or the album’s) is right there underneath the electric yellow banana. But he also designed covers for the likes of Paul Anka, John Lennon, The Rolling Stones, Count Basie, Diana Ross, Kenny Burrell, and Aretha Franklin.

Warhol Covers

Warhol Covers

Warhol Covers

Warhol Covers

You can see more covers by Warhol here, here, and here. All of the covers he designed are collected in this book, Andy Warhol: The Complete Commissioned Record Covers.

Everything you can imagine is real

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 25, 2018

Justin Peters

Justin Peters

Justin Peters

Justin Peters

Justin Peters takes stock photos and combines them into fantastical and mind-bending scenes. I’ve seen lots of this sort of thing, but these are particularly well done. The one with the umbrella and the road is a straight-up optical illusion and broke my brain for awhile. (via colossal, which has been a real source of joy & possibility these days)

Huge online collection of Frida Kahlo art and artifacts

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 22, 2018

In partnership with over 30 museums and institutions from around the world, Google Arts & Culture has launched Faces of Frida, a massive collection of art, letters, essays, videos, and other artifacts about the life and work of Frida Kahlo. There’s a *lot* here, including dozens of zoomable high-resolution scans of her artwork and essays by art historians and experts.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

This is the kind of “organizing the world’s information” I want to see more of from Google. (via open culture)

A colorfully illustrated Cold War-era desk calendar

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 18, 2018

Cold War Calendar

Cold War Calendar

Cold War Calendar

All through the 1980s, a disgruntled Department of Defense analyst adorned his daily desk calendar with all sorts of illustrations and commentary on the news.

The majority of the entries focus on domestic politics and international affairs, providing (with the exception of 1988) a day-by-day view of the Reagan Administration and the waning years of the Cold War. It all seems to be here: the end of the Iran hostage crisis, the invasion of Afghanistan, Poland’s Solidarity movement, supply-side economics, and the Space Shuttle, to name just a few, along with hundreds of lesser-known events all but forgotten today except by scholars.

What a wonderful piece of folk art. (via the paris review)

The chimeras of the NYC subway

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 14, 2018

The NYC subway is home to many interesting characters and creatures but perhaps none as delightfully weird as Matthew Grabelsky’s straphanger chimeras.

Matthew Grabelsky

Matthew Grabelsky

Matthew Grabelsky

(via colossal)

Flowing portraits

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 07, 2018

Lee K

Lee K

I really like these dynamic swirling drawings by artist Lee.k. They’re like a cross between van Gogh, DeepDream, and Wind Map. (via colossal)

A short dance performance, collaboratively illustrated by hundreds

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 04, 2018

Over 300 different people drew/illustrated moments from a real-life dance performance, which Kristen Lauth Shaeffer then assembled into one cool animated performance. This strongly reminds me of Oliver Laric’s clip-art animation.

Visualizing our world’s ever-growing urban infrastructure

posted by Jason Kottke   May 31, 2018

Marcus Lyons

Marcus Lyons

Marcus Lyons

For his projects Exodus and Timeout, Marcus Lyon takes overhead photographs and edits them into fantastical scenes that nonetheless seem plausible. LAX isn’t that large, no waterpark in Houston has that many pools, and Dubai’s roads do not have 70+ lanes, but you kinda have to look at satellite imagery on Google Maps to verify the fabrications.

Brutalist cuckoo clocks

posted by Jason Kottke   May 31, 2018

Artist Guido Zimmermann has updated the architectural styling of the cuckoo clock with models based on buildings by Brutalist & Bauhaus architects.

Modern Cuckoo Clocks

Modern Cuckoo Clocks

The classic cuckoo clock is a symbol for prosperity in the middle class and is considered a kind of luxury for the home. The updated version, a prefabricated panel construction (“plattenbau”), reveals today’s urban and social life in residential blocks.

(via colossal)

Sculptures made from scraps

posted by Jason Kottke   May 29, 2018

Artist Lydia Ricci collects scraps (of paper, cardboard, etc.) and sculpts them into everyday objects.

From Scraps

From Scraps

From Scraps

From Scraps

I love these…and there are a ton more to look at. Gah ok, just one more:

From Scraps

(via @yhaduong)

Intricate circuit board model sculpted from plasticine clay

posted by Jason Kottke   May 25, 2018

Modified Man

Modified Man

When commissioned to create some artwork for a London music duo, Tim Easley spent 80 hours making this model circuit board out of plasticine clay.

The idea behind the cover was how the modified men of the future may make artwork out of ancient circuit boards, not quite understanding what they were for because of their crude appearance. For this I created a design with representations of computer chips and wires.

He then photographed the results for an album cover and other printed matter. (via colossal)

Imaginary insects based on Star Wars characters

posted by Jason Kottke   May 21, 2018

Star Wars Insects

Star Wars Insects

Star Wars Insects

Illustrator Richard Wilkinson is drawing a series of insects inspired by Star Wars and other pop cultural items.

This project was born out of a fascination with collecting, cataloguing and classifying.

It draws inspiration from classic Natural History illustration but explores the subjects that we love to collect and classify from the modern world: Films, TV, Video Games, Comics, Vehicles, Sneakers, Brands etc.

The first book of the series, working title: “Arthropoda Iconicus Volume I: Insects From A Far Away Galaxy”, is a collection of insects that bear a subtle yet uncanny resemblance to characters and vehicles from the worlds favourite space opera.

You can check out more on his Instagram and a few are available as prints in his online shop. (via colossal)

Plastic iceberg

posted by Jason Kottke   May 17, 2018

Plastic Bag Iceberg

Speaking of great magazine covers, for their issue on plastic, National Geographic put artist Jorge Gamboa’s arresting plastic bag iceberg image on the cover. A simple yet powerful concept, perfectly executed.

Update: The iceberg plastic bag is not an original concept. Prior art includes a 2015 ad campaign for Tesco and a pair of stock images on Getty (date not listed). It’s unclear whether Gamboa created his image after seeing these images or if multiple people had this same idea. (via @krjohn01/status/997198395189223424)

A fake Modigliani, the Kardashians, and the American Dream

posted by Jason Kottke   May 16, 2018

I’ve never watched a single second of the reality TV show Keeping Up with the Kardashians but I found Rachel Tashjian’s When a Modigliani Almost Changed the Kardashians’ Lives to be an engaging read.

Suddenly, Scott’s doubts seem to diminish. Kourtney finds him a few days later examining carpet samples and asks if they’re for his new home. He delivers a maxim we should all live by: “I look at carpet only for aviation and yachts.” When Kourtney asks why he’s “suddenly into this,” he begins screaming: “I’VE ALWAYS BEEN INTO BEING ULTRA RICH! I JUST NEVER BELIEVED IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN THE WAY IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN!”

The tension builds to obscene absurdism. The idea that the Kardashians — who live in Calabasas, a city with a median income of $119,624, and who film each scene sprawled on pristine white couches in endless living rooms, and snacking off giant marble countertops in family room-sized kitchens — are dreaming about getting rich is almost too…rich. But then, this is the arc of American promise, regardless of how much money you have: this idea that something everyone else thinks is worthless or pointless is actually going to make you rich and famous is what has fueled 22 seasons of Antiques Roadshow, is perhaps the foundation of Southern Gothic literature, and is what makes people believe in the American dream to begin with.