He began collecting as a teenager in suburban Baltimore, where his first pieces included an Andy Warhol print of Jackie Kennedy, purchased in 1964, for $100 — “which was a lot then,” he said. “A hundred dollars was like $1,000.”
—New York Times interview with John Waters by Melena Ryzik, May 23, 2019
LONDON — The British street artist Banksy pulled off one of his most spectacular pranks on Friday night, when one of his trademark paintings appeared to self-destruct at Sotheby’s in London after selling for $1.4 million at auction.
The work, “Girl With Balloon,” a 2006 spray paint on canvas, was the last lot of Sotheby’s “Frieze Week” evening contemporary art sale. After competition between two telephone bidders, it was hammered down by the auctioneer Oliver Barker for 1 million pounds, more than three times the estimate and a new auction high for a work solely by the artist, according to Sotheby’s.
“Then we heard an alarm go off,” Morgan Long, the head of art investment at the London-based advisory firm the Fine Art Group, who was sitting in the front row of the room, said in an interview on Saturday. “Everyone turned round, and the picture had slipped through its frame.”
The painting, mounted on a wall close to a row of Sotheby’s staff members, had been shredded by a remote-control mechanism on the back of the frame.
Science fiction author Harlan Ellison has died:
The science fiction genre has lost one of its greatest — and most controversial — authors. Harlan Ellison, who wrote and edited groundbreaking sci-fi anthologies, short stories, and television episodes, died at the age of 84, according to his wife, via an associate.
Ellison was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1934, and published his first short stories in 1949, before moving to New York City to focus on writing science fiction. Throughout the 1950s, he wrote hundreds of short stories, and served in the US Army for two years. In the 1960s, he relocated to California, where he began to write scripts for television shows such as The Outer Limits, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Star Trek. He later served as a consultant for shows such as The Twilight Zone and Babylon 5. Ellison also worked briefly for Walt Disney Studios, only to get fired after a day when co-founder Roy Disney overheard him joking about making a porn film with the company’s characters.
I’m not big sci-fi reader, so I only discovered Ellison about 8 years ago from an interview posted on Youtube:
That clip had a profound effect on me as a graphic designer and artist.
All artists would be wise to heed the words of Ellison. Health Ledger’s Joker also said it nicely, “If you are good at something, never do it for free.”
Netflix, HBO, magazines, publishers, they’re all nothing without the creative output of artists. Sure, I’ve bartered, exchanging the services of someone else for mine, but that’s the exception, not the rule (I did a hair salon’s website for free in 2002 in the East Village in exchange for free $60 haircuts for 8 years).
Know what you’re worth and and get paid for it.
via James Victore
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.
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.
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.
—Found in Batman #395
“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.
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)
There is no art without laziness.
“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.”