looking at art and creating it

How to Teach Your Children to Care about Art:

To start, it’s a cornerstone of art education programs to cultivate a symbiotic relationship between looking at art and creating it. In museums, it’s become standard practice for educators to develop art-making programs that engage audiences with the works in a current exhibition or permanent collection.

New York’s Whitney Museum, for example, has developed a vast array of programs to engage children of all ages (beginning with Stroller Tours for newborns and new parents), but one of its most popular programs is Open Studio, an in-house art studio led by graduate students that allows families to visit freely and create art on the weekends. “It’s a drop-in art-making program” says Billie Rae Vinson, coordinator of Family Programs, over the phone. “It’s a way to explore the artwork through some kind of material exploration.”

More of this please.

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Art, Education

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You can please some people some of the time…

Writing for Quartz, Anne Quito on Scott Dadich’s new Netflix docu-series on design, Abstract:

Design is the animating force behind brands, buildings and interfaces, and so an engrossing series that explains to a general audience what actually goes on behind the scenes was long overdue. Many designers hoped that Netflix’s Abstract: The Art of Design (released Feb. 10) would do for design what Chef’s Table did for food: Through a series of beautifully shot (if at times overly dramatized) profiles, Chef’s Table gave viewers a global sampler of the most creative minds working in the culinary industry.

But after a fortnight of trudging through the first season’s eight 40-minute episodes, I found Abstract puzzling and on the whole, tedious. It’s unfortunate because Abstract’s stellar cast of superstar designers—including graphic design legend Paula Scher, Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield, and architecture’s “wacky wunderkind” Bjarke Ingels—are some of the most winsome and articulate ambassadors for their specialization.

Needless to say, Quito is not a fan of a series. She’s critical of everything from it’s production value (it’s over-produced) to the designers they chose to feature (“the usual roster of design stars”).

I think Quito is way off-base. I’ve enjoyed all 6 episodes I’ve watched so far. I find the series beautifully shot and I can’t remember seeing such attention to detail in a docu-series before. If Dadich had chosen a more “raw” style of shooting, people would be complaining it was under-produced.

As for the people featured in Abstract, I’m familiar with many of the design stars within my field of graphic design, but I don’t know many in other industries. The second episode with Tinker Hatfield is a great example. I had no idea he was the guy who brought us the Air Jordan line and collaborated with Michael Jordan for over 20 years.

Then there’s the “hero worship” Quito thinks is dangerous. The reality is, when you’re dealing with people with extreme talent, ego, and vision they’re elevated by the people to a lofty place where we can admire them whether they like it or not. These aren’t production designers working in Photoshop or 40-year-old architecture interns building cardboard models. These are people at the top of their game, and when you get to that level, clients see you out, not the other way around. This puts designers in a similar circle as artists.

There’s clearly room for a series focusing on the undiscovered and under-appreciated people in design. Perhaps a designers’ version of A People’s History of the United States, but that’s another series for someone else to make.

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Art, Film

“Seeing comes before words.”*

John Berger, Provocative Art Critic, Dies at 90:

John Berger, the British critic, novelist and screenwriter whose groundbreaking 1972 television series and book, “Ways of Seeing,” declared war on traditional ways of thinking about art and influenced a generation of artists and teachers, died on Monday at his home in the Paris suburb of Antony. He was 90.

Ways of Seeing should be in every artist and designer’s library (*the title of this post is the first sentence from the book).

I still have the copy I bought in college on my book shelf.

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Art, Human Experience

“Sitting around waiting for an idea is the worst thing you can do. All ideas come out of the work itself.”

That title is a quote from a great profile over at The New York Times by Wil S. Hylton on one of my favorite artists of all time, Chuck Close. It’s titled, The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Chuck Close:

he has recently set about leaving much of his old life behind: filing for divorce from his wife, Leslie, after 43 years of marriage, disappearing for the winter to live virtually alone in a new apartment on Miami Beach and retreating from his summer friends to the crowded isolation of Long Beach.

His painting style has dramatically changed too:

It’s difficult to know how to describe that painting, or the series of new work it was part of, except to say that it was a radical departure from the last 20 years of his art. Gone were all the swoops and swirls that he typically paints into each square of the grid. In their place, he had filled each cell with just one or two predominant colors, creating a clunky digital effect like the graphics of a Commodore 64. The colors themselves were harsh and glaring, blinding pink and gleaming blue, while the face in the portrait — his face — was cleaved right down the middle, with one side of the canvas painted in different shades from the other. To the left, his skin was peach, his shirt deep red and the background mint green; to the right, his skin was pink, his shirt sapphire and the backdrop orange. There was a sea-green splotch hovering over his neck, with a long tail that poked into his nose, and one ear was radioactive yellow; the nose was honking blue.

The dude is getting old. Cut him some slack. The systems inside his body are shutting down, possibly including his brain. It’s called aging. To Close’s defense, “blinding pink and gleaming blue” sound like the colors he would see around him in Miami Beach.

This bit about Jeff Koons resonated with me:

In Long Beach, exile had the sound of summer, and I spent a few more days with Close, watching the tides roll out. We would sit at the long table on the middle floor, eating Indian takeout and discussing the commercial compromise made by artists who rely on assistants to make their work. “I look at my friend Jeff Koons, and I think, Why in God’s name does he want to do that?” Close said. “Why would he give up the fun part to become the C.E.O. of an art-­manufacturing company?”

Seriously. Why would you give up the fun part? If I had to guess, I’d say Koons is more interested in being a businessman than being an artist.

The transformation in Close’s work reminds me of what happened to Willem De Kooning towards the end of his life. His works became more and more minimal to the point where they were barely recognizable as De Kooning paintings. There are allegations of De Kooning’s assistants taking away canvases when they considered them finished.

After reading the Close profile, Austin Kleon wondered how you tell the difference between symptoms of art-making and dementia. Great question. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

I’ll say this: even if Close is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, his work is still incredible. This isn’t a case where a once brilliant painter has forgotten his process and lost his craft and is finger painting (although Close could probably do a mean finger painting).

(Fifty-cent word from the Close profile: uroboric)

Categories:

Art, Pyschology

“where are our future designers architects craftsmen/women engineers technicians software designers and mathematicians going to come from if no one can draw?”

Instead of regurgitating rants about the yoof’s over-reliance on technology and its zombiesh enslavement by screens, Bob sees the larger issues of exam-based curricula and financial difficulties as the things thwarting creativity. “The way the education system works is a bit like having high land prices in London – they stop you working creatively,” he says. “If all you’re thinking about is working towards exams and jumping over hurdles, it pushes away creativity; and high land values are pushing creativity out of the capital.”

Art as a human right and why creativity is “pushed out of” London

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Art, Politics

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No Context Comics

nocontext1_bl

Read enough old comics and this type of stuff shows up more regularly than one would expect.

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Art

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I can’t make art because I have a kid… and the fucking dog ate my homework. And other weak excuses.

I’ve been working on a new book since last July. Back in October I wrote, “I’ve been told that becoming a parent lights a fire under your ass like nothing else, so we’ll see what happens.” Ha.

I made a promise to Owen before he was born that I would not use him as an excuse to fail at The Thing I needed to do.

Oh sure, I would use him as an excuse for plenty of other things I didn’t want to do, like answer emails or attend various social functions, but I would not use him as an excuse to give up on The Thing.

Writers are constantly looking for excuses not to write, but there’s nothing more pathetic than a man who blames his family for not being able to write.

—Austin Kleon, On writing post-fatherhood

I’ve also made a promise to myself that if and when I have a child I won’t use him/her for an excuse not to design, or screen print or make whatever is I’m making. It’s a cop out.

If you really want something, you find a way to get it.

At least I do.

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Art, Human Experience

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