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kottke.org posts about art

Bold & Colorful Minimalistic Portraits

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 24, 2021

colorful abstract portrait of a woman with a red face

abstract portrait of a woman with colorful hair

colorful abstract portrait of a woman

Check out these striking portraits by Brazilian artist Luciano Cian from his Magna and Kuhle projects. Find more on his website, Behance, and Instagram. (via colossal)

Embroidered Forests

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 14, 2021

embroidered forest landscapes by Katrin Vates

embroidered forest landscapes by Katrin Vates

I am enjoying these embroidered forest landscapes by Katrin Vates. The stitching provides a lovely & subtle variable depth to the bushy trees that you don’t get from a drawing or painting.

pOrtal, a Seamless Sci-fi Video Link Between Cities

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 14, 2021

video portal between two cities

video portal between two cities

pOrtal is a project that allows for people in two different locations to interact via circular video screens. Right now, the link is between Vilnius, Lithuania and Lublin, Poland but there are plans to add more cities (Reykjavik/Vilnius and Vilnius/London to start). The production is a bit over-the-top (e.g. the video), but the idea of fun, seamless, sci-fi presence between two locations is a good one. (via moss & fog)

Edo Period Shadow Puppetry Woodblock Prints

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 08, 2021

woodblock print of shadow puppet instructions

woodblock print of shadow puppet instructions

woodblock print of shadow puppet instructions

Circa 1842, ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige released an 11-print series revealing the secrets of shadow puppetry performances. From the description of one of these woodblock prints held in the collection at The Minneapolis Institute of Art:

As comic entertainment, shadow performances were among the many diversions, including music and dance, offered at teahouse parties during the Edo period. In the eleven-print series Improvised Shadow Performances, Hiroshige depicted figures making shadows on shōji screens by contorting their bodies. The images demonstrate how to create ingenious shadows and could easily have been used as a how-to guide for clever shadow making.

You can find more of Hiroshige’s shadow prints at Ukiyo-e.org. (via colossal)

Bent Reality

posted by Jason Kottke   May 27, 2021

Bent Reality

Bent Reality

Bent Reality

These surrealistic images were created by Cream Electric Art for a United Airlines ad campaign. Here’s a quick behind-the-scenes on how the Route 66 image was constructed. Prior art: Berg’s Here & There map of Manhattan, Inception, and these curved cityscape panoramas. (via moss & fog)

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Hokusai, Explained

posted by Jason Kottke   May 24, 2021

Great Art Explained is a super YouTube series that I am somehow just now learning about that, uh, explains great art. Host James Payne has done about a dozen videos on pieces like Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Beheading Holofernes, Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych, and Untitled (Skull) by Jean-Michel Basquiat. His latest is about The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai.

In 1639 Japan closed its borders and cut itself off from the outside world. Foreigners were expelled, Western culture was forbidden, and Entering or leaving Japan was punishable by Death. It would remain that way for over 200 years.

It was under these circumstances that a quintessentially Japanese art developed. Art for the people that was consumed on an unprecedented scale.

Really interesting stuff. Subscribed.

See also several different versions of The Great Wave print and The Art of Traditional Japanese Printmaking. (via open culture)

A Harsh Review, Revisited

posted by Jason Kottke   May 19, 2021

This is pretty unusual. Years ago, NY Times film critic AO Scott panned Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic and Silverman, instead of reacting in a typical way, ultimately took his core criticism to heart and changed the way she thought about her comedy. The two of them recently linked up for a conversation about the “challenges both of doing comedy and of writing criticism”, namely that:

You’re supposed to be honest, and you’re supposed to tell the truth and not worry about giving offense. On the other hand, what you do, what I do has a risk of hurting people.

Here’s Silverman:

But the thing you wrote that kind of changed me on a molecular level, which is what, I think, you were kind of onto at the time was completely what I was abusing — and you saw that before anyone else, and you made me see it — which is I’m liberal, so I’m not racist, so I can say the N-word, because I’m illuminating racism.

My intentions were good but ignorant, and it’s funny that in that movie and in the subsequent series I did, my character was ignorant [and] arrogant, but what I didn’t realize was [that I] myself was arrogant [and] ignorant.

I couldn’t help thinking of Pixar’s Ratatouille here, in which the opposite thing happens: the artist changes the critic’s mind.

Watch as David Hockney Pages Through His Sketchbook

posted by Jason Kottke   May 17, 2021

This is a treat: artist David Hockney wordlessly flipping through one of his sketchbooks from 2019 for 6 minutes. For the first few minutes, I thought that some verbal annotation would be nice, but it’s actually perfect as-is — you can just focus on looking. (via open culture)

Banksy Graffitied Walls And Wasn’t Sorry

posted by Jason Kottke   May 14, 2021

the cover of Banksy Graffitied Walls And Wasn't Sorry

Banksy Graffitied Walls And Wasn’t Sorry is biography of street artist Banksy written for children by Fausto Gilberti. Gilberti has also written kid’s books about other artists: Jackson Pollock Splashed Paint and Wasn’t Sorry, Yayoi Kusama Covered Everything in Dots and Wasn’t Sorry, and Yves Klein Painted Everything Blue and Wasn’t Sorry.

Everyday Objects, Sliced

posted by Jason Kottke   May 13, 2021

a sculpture of a shoe sliced apart and put loosely back together

a sculpture of a camera sliced apart and put loosely back together

Fabian Oefner takes physical objects apart and puts them back together into exploded/fragmented sculptures.

The sculptures of the Heisenberg Series are based on Werner Heisenberg’s famous Uncertainty Principle. This theory states, that you can not measure two separate parameters of a particle simultaneously. You can either determine one parameter and ignore the other or vice versa, but you can never know everything at once.

Oefner took this idea from the world of physics and created an artistic equivalent of it. The sculptures are made of five different everyday objects: shoes, a clock, a tape recorder and a black box. The artist filled these with resin and carefully sliced them into hundreds of individual parts. He then rearranged the slices into a distorted new version of the object, that lets you see its inner workings.

Through this transformation, the objects have a peculiar effect on their observer: When you look at them from a distance, you can easily identify the object. However, if you start to get closer to observe its inner workings, the shape of the object starts to get distorted and vanishes completely. As an observer you are never able to observe the object as a whole and its inner workings simultaneously. The more accurately we see one view, the less clearly we see the other.

When I first glanced at Oefner’s images, I thought they were uninterestingly digital — 3D-generated images digitally manipulated or some such — but they’re real-world things actually sliced apart. (via colossal)

“The Woman Who Made van Gogh”

posted by Jason Kottke   May 11, 2021

Self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh

There are certain writers that, when I see their byline, I read their stuff, even if it takes me a few weeks to find the time. Ever since reading his excellent The Island at the Center of the World, Russell Shorto has been one of those writers. His latest piece, The Woman Who Made van Gogh, tells the story of Jo van Gogh-Bonger who, after both her husband Theo and her brother-in-law Vincent died within a year and a half of each other, worked tirelessly for decades to get Vincent’s work out into the world.

The brothers’ dying so young, Vincent at 37 and Theo at 33, and without the artist having achieved renown — Theo had managed to sell only a few of his paintings — would seem to have ensured that Vincent van Gogh’s work would subsist eternally in a netherworld of obscurity. Instead, his name, art and story merged to form the basis of an industry that stormed the globe, arguably surpassing the fame of any other artist in history. That happened in large part thanks to Jo van Gogh-Bonger. She was small in stature and riddled with self-doubt, had no background in art or business and faced an art world that was a thoroughly male preserve. Her full story has only recently been uncovered. It is only now that we know how van Gogh became van Gogh.

Because of her work, Vincent van Gogh is a household name all over the world and even the way people think about artists and their art forever changed.

Low Poly Landscapes

posted by Jason Kottke   May 06, 2021

landscape painting by Elyse Dodge

landscape painting by Elyse Dodge

landscape painting by Elyse Dodge

landscape painting by Elyse Dodge

Lovely work here by Elyse Dodge — these look like half-finished renderings by the machine that’s simulating our universe. You can keep up with her work on Instagram or get some for yourself in her shop. (via moss & fog)

Desus and Mero Go to the Met Museum

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 28, 2021

After months of lockdown and closure due to the pandemic, Desus Nice & The Kid Mero go to the Met Museum in NYC to take in some art. Would 100% take a tour of any art museum with these two astute cultural commentators.

Rotating Lights in the Desert

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2021

Always a pleasure to see new work from Reuben Wu, whose stuff I’ve featured here before. For this piece, Wu journeys into the audiovisual realm, combining his light-forward photography with his music production work (he’s a member of the band Ladytron). Colossal, as usual, has the skinny:

For EX STASIS, Wu programmed a stick of 200 LED lights to shift in color and shape above the calm landscapes. He captured the mesmerizing movements in-camera, and through a combination of stills, timelapse, and real-time footage, produced four audiovisual works that juxtapose the natural scenery with the artificially produced light and electronic sounds. “As it gets dark, my surroundings cease to be an exterior experience and become a subliminal space, and that’s when I feel most connected and aware of my sense of being,” Wu says. “This dynamic terrestrial chiaroscuro synchronizes with my sound design and music to form singular looping pieces.”

“Dynamic terrestrial chiaroscuro”!!! Also, this photo from Wu’s Insta is just fricking beautiful. (via colossal)

How to Draw a Self-Portrait in 11 Levels of Increasing Complexity

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2021

In this video, artist TM Davy demonstrates how to draw a self-portrait in 11 levels of increasing complexity. As he notes early on, this isn’t so much about the mechanics of art as the levels of thinking that go into creating a portrait. Davy defines complexity as “the layers of thinking that help us to build observational truths that are necessary for a picture that somehow feels right”.

In his journey towards complexity in portraiture, he starts with the “solar head” (basically a smiley face) and moves to individually identifying features, depicting simple volume & proportion, and the more complex geometry of the human face. From there, observation becomes increasingly important — he uses variations on “looking” or “observing” many times in his explanation — as he covers contours, light & shadow, chiaroscuro, and color.

See also Tony Hawk on the 21 Levels of Complexity of Skateboard Tricks and A Demonstration of 16 Levels of Piano Playing Complexity.

Building Black: Ekow Nimako’s All-Black Lego Sculptures

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2021

Ekow Nimako's Lego artwork

Ekow Nimako's Lego artwork

Ekow Nimako's Lego artwork

Ekow Nimako's Lego artwork

For his series called Building Black, Ekow Nimako uses only black Lego pieces to build fantastical and futuristic sculptures based on West African masks, folklore, and medieval kingdoms. From Colossal:

Running through each of these artworks is a fluid understanding of time and space that blurs the distinction between generations, locations, and histories in order to imagine a new reality. “We are all living proof of our ancestors, all their joy, love, knowledge, and pain. They live in our DNA,” the Ghanaian-Canadian artist says. “Aesthetically, I enjoy taking elements from bygone eras and creating futuristic landscapes, particularly of African utopias to imagine a liberated existence for us all.”

That blurred temporality that foregrounds his sculptures and installations parallels his own trajectory, as well. “My art practice developed when I was four years old, as I constantly told myself I want to do this (play with LEGO) forever, and sometimes it feels as though my future self communicated with my past self, astrally perhaps, to ensure this very specific destiny manifested,” he says, noting that the plastic blocks have remained a fixture in both his personal and professional life since becoming a father.

Vice did a short video feature on Nimako and his work:

(via colossal)

Amy Sherald: The Great American Fact

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 21, 2021

Amy Sherald painting

Amy Sherald painting

Painter Amy Sherald is displaying new work at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in LA through June 6: The Great American Fact. One thing I really notice in her art now, after watching the excellent documentary Black Art: In the Absence of Light, is how at least one person in her paintings is looking directly at the viewer. Here’s Sherald talking about that in the documentary:

The eyes tell you what’s in the soul and, for me, the people that I paint, they’re no longer themselves in the painting. They are these archetypes that know they are present. These aren’t passive portraits — they’re maybe subversively confrontational, if you will — but it’s definitely a response to a lot of images I saw growing up where our gaze was always averted. Or thinking about the fact that you couldn’t look at a white person in the eye. So, this is my way of nodding my head at that narrative and empowering the image in a way. I like the paintings hung a little lower for that reason so when the viewer walks up, it’s a different conversation. You’re not looking up at it — it’s almost looking directly at you and I think that creates a different kind of sensation.

She also says of her subjects: “It’s important for me that they’re just Black people being Black” and I think that really comes through in this new work. (via colossal)

The Art of Traditional Japanese Printmaking

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 15, 2021

There are many steps in making traditional Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e), but this short video focuses on the printing process as demonstrated by master printmaker Keiji Shinohara. This is a delight to watch — Shinohara’s deliberate precision is impressive and inspiring.

My absolute favorite part of this video is at the 3:40 mark when he precisely and firmly grasps the pressing tool (called a baren), swipes it on his face three times, and then uses it to press the paper into the inked block. This pre-press face maneuver is repeated several times but otherwise goes unremarked upon in the video — one of the commenters offers this explanation: “The oils from his face help grip the paper, making a firm and even press.” (via open culture)

You Don’t Know What’s Going On In People’s Lives

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 31, 2021

You Don't Know What's Going On In People's Lives

You Don't Know What's Going On In People's Lives

Illustrator Hazel Mead created a pair of pieces called You Don’t Know What’s Going On In People’s Lives: the original version and one featuring children. The images above are snippets from the larger images, both of which are available as prints in Mead’s shop. (via cup of jo)

Update: Several people sent me a link to this video from Cleveland Clinic that is very similar to Mead’s illustrations.

The Louvre Puts Its Massive Collection of Art Online

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 29, 2021

Louvre Online

Louvre Online

Louvre Online

Louvre Online

Louvre Online

Late last week, the Louvre announced that it had put its entire collection online, over 482,000 works in all.

Designed for both researchers and curious art lovers, the collections.louvre.fr database already contains more than 482,000 entries, including works from the Louvre and the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix, sculptures from the Tuileries and Carrousel gardens, and ‘MNR’ works (Musées Nationaux Récupération, or National Museums Recovery) recovered after WWII and entrusted to the Louvre until they can be returned to their legitimate owners. For the first time ever, the entire Louvre collection is available online, whether works are on display in the museum, on long-term loan in other French institutions, or in storage.

With so many works, where to start? Try these “playlists” created by the museum, e.g. Masterpieces of the Louvre or Major Events in History. Or try the search function and find, for instance, all of the museum’s works by Leonardo da Vinci or Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (one of the very few women whose art is on display at the museum).

Paintings on Found Trash That Blend Into the Landscape

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 26, 2021

Mariah Reading

Mariah Reading

Mariah Reading

Eco-artist Mariah Reading finds discarded objects in National Parks, on native lands, and in other natural environments and paints impressionistic landscapes on them so they blend into the backgrounds of the places they were found. Atlas Obscura has an interview with Reading about her work.

The first piece I did that was a single object, not a bunch of [objects] stuck together. I was working at Guadalupe Mountains National Park and along its edge there was a major highway. I would walk along it and find a lot of car parts, just a lot of scrap things that fall off as the cars are whizzing past. I found half of a hubcap, and I took a closer look at it and realized it had cracked perfectly to form the silhouette of the mountain range I was standing in front of. I had a vision that I would just paint the land onto it and use the shape of the object to inform the piece. That’s when I started getting more into photography, too. Then my finished work shifted to not just being the painting, but also the painting photographed in the land where it was found.

That piece, called “El (Hub)Capitan”, is pictured at the top of this post. You can check out more of Reading’s work on her website and on Instagram. (via the morning news)

XXXX Swatchbook, a Book of CMYK Embroidery

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 25, 2021

XXXX Swatchbook

XXXX Swatchbook

XXXX Swatchbook

Back in January, Clive Thompson asked his Twitter followers for links to books of unusual dimensions. In the resulting thread, people shared images and links to books of all different shapes and sizes, from Irma Boom’s miniature books to the Codex Gigas to a book of Kraft American Singles (my contribution). Designer Evelin Kasikov’s XXXX Swatchbook, a handmade book about CMYK printing constructed entirely of embroidery thread and paper, would fit nicely into that collection.

XXXX Swatchbook shows the range of colours that can be achieved in handmade printing technique. But it also twists the idea of print by turning quick reproduction process into slow handmade process. It’s a book about a process, and with no less than six years in the making, the book itself is a process. It’s a catalogue of colour, a unique art book and an object of book art. The book documents 400 hand-stitched colour swatches in CMYK embroidery. The line screen in my book is incredibly low and ranges between 4 to 7 lines per inch (as opposed to 300 lpi in standard printing).

See also Embroidery that Breaks the Fourth Wall and The Embroidered Computer. (via colossal)

Seal Skin Spacesuit Made by Inuit Artists

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 24, 2021

Seal Skin Spacesuit

Working with Dr. Heather Igloliorte at Montreal’s Concordia University, Inuit artist Jesse Tungilik and a group of students designed and built a spacesuit made out of seal skin. Tungilik was inspired by the feelings he’d had as a child, bundled up in hunting clothes made by his mother out of caribou hide.

When Jesse Tungilik was a child, his mother made him traditional caribou hunting clothes. While wearing the bulky, heavy handmade outfit, he often imagined that he was in a spacesuit.

“That memory stuck with me when I heard about this opportunity here at Concordia, with its future-themed focus, and the two ideas met in the middle,” Tungilik says.

The image above is a still from a video taken by Brittany Hobson of the spacesuit on display in an exhibition at the Qaumajuq museum in Winnipeg. She says “the video doesn’t do it justice” but the suit looks pretty amazing in that video — I would love to see this in person someday. Dr. Igloliorte, who co-curated the exhibition, talked about the suit and its creation in this video:

Via CBC, you can see a photo of Tungilik as a kid, bundled up in his homemade “spacesuit” while out hunting with his father. Aww. (via @UnlikelyWorlds)

Animated Folding Screen of Painted Sekigahara Landscapes

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 23, 2021

Riffing on a byōbu folding screen of the Battle of Sekigahara painted in the 1700s, Yusuke Shigeta made a pixel animated version for a recent exhibition. The video above is a tantalizingly short preview of the work — I could have watched these tiny pixel vignettes all day.

Stone Lithography

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 17, 2021

Well, add stone lithography to the list of cool hobbies I will do once I’m done sitting in this chair watching videos about things like stone lithography.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec revolutionised the world of graphic design with his striking posters at the end of the nineteenth century. This was in some ways due to his innovative approach to stone lithography to create his colourful designs.

If you think this video is too brief, you can check out this longer one. (via the kid should see this)

Ballhaus, the Art of Basketball

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 10, 2021

Ballhaus

Ballhaus

Ballhaus

The @ballhaus Instagram acct is pairing photos of basketball players with art. From top to bottom: Luka Dončić × Correggio, Obi Toppin × Myron, C.J. Miles × René Magritte. (via austin kleon)

Van Gogh That Was in Private Hands for More Than a Century Up for Auction

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 08, 2021

painting by Vincent van Gogh of Montmartre

A painting by Vincent van Gogh that hasn’t been exhibited for the public since it was painted in 1887 is up for auction this month. The Paris landscape was created by the Dutch master on the cusp of his impressionist phase:

The work reflects Van Gogh’s exploration of a new city as well as his first encounter with the Impressionists and other avant-garde painters in Paris, which in turn sparked a transformation of his palette. “Gone were the dark tones of his early works, replaced with color in all its brilliance,” Sotheby’s writes in a statement. “It was in Montmartre, during these formative years, that the foundations of his inimitable style were established.”

There’s some press release sales bluster here, but looking at the painting, you can see inklings of his signature kinetic style — the flag appears to flutter, the trees wave in the wind, and the windmill spins. The whole thing is alive with motion. Wonderful. Here it is with the (assumed) original frame:

Van Gogh Montmartre 02

I hope that whoever buys it makes it available for public display; I’d love to see it someday.

Create Escape — Bob Ross Narrates a Banksy Behind-the-Scenes Video

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 04, 2021

Banksy took some Bob Ross narration from The Joy of Painting and dubbed it over video footage that shows the street artist painting an image of an escaping inmate on the wall of a former prison in the dead of night. Colossal has more info on why Banksy picked the wall of this particular prison to do:

The expansive and unblemished prison wall was a daring and perfect spot for a Banksy piece. It’s best known for its most famous inmate: Oscar Wilde served two years in the prison from 1895-1897 for the charge of “gross indecency” for being gay. The work is clearly a tribute to the poet, as the escape mechanism appears to be a long strand of paper emerging from a typewriter in place of the usual bed sheets.

Topps Marks 70 Years of Baseball Cards with Special Artist-Designed Cards

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 02, 2021

Topps baseball card

Topps baseball card

Topps baseball card

In 1951, Topps released their first set of baseball cards, hoping to entice people into buying their chewing gum. Instead, they created a sports collectable industry that’s still going strong 70 years later. To celebrate the anniversary, “artists and creatives around the globe are revisiting and reimagining 70 years of iconic baseball card designs” as part of Project70.

They’re releasing a few cards at a time for a limited time — you can find the current selection in the Topps online store. I’ve included three of my favorites above: 1976 Mike Trout by Fucci, 1953 Rickey Henderson by Pose, and 1983 Roberto Clemente by Sean Wotherspoon.

Question: Since the case is now part of the collectable being sold, do you have to put the whole thing in a bigger case to preserve its overall mint condition? Where does this end? (via print)

Sculpture by Valérie Hadida

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 02, 2021

Valerie Hadida

I love this bronze sculpture by French artist Valérie Hadida. You can find more of her work on Colossal and Artsy.