It fascinates me how art presents itself when we stay open. Last week, my wife, Laurie, and I were working our morning crossword, puzzling through a series of clues in the form of quotations. As it turned out, all the clues were from famous artists: Picasso, Gauguin, Dali, and Chagall. Picasso is featured in our film review this month, so it seems appropriate to dig a little deeper into his wisdom. Here is a Picasso gem: “Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness.” If we wander our own community with wonder and curiosity, it is possible to discover all forms of art. Some of it is "official" and some might challenge our personal definitions of "good taste," but all of it has something to offer if we look deeply enough. At a minimum we can appreciate the artist's creativity.
Within this newsletter are many examples of artistic creativity. I hope you enjoy.
Hello Art Friends. It’s official. Fall is here and as lovely as that can be, if you are like me, you are dreading the winter months ahead.
This is a great time to be taking little drives out into the country to enjoy the changing colors of the scenery. If you drive south to Washington you can add a nice exhibit of Lianne Westcot’s paintings to your trip. “Meditations Midwest” will be showing at Art Domestique on the square in Washington until October 31st. The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10-4.
For you artists out there Art Domestique is calling for artists to participate in their “Small Works” show. All works must be 12x12 inches or less including frame. Up to three pieces are welcome. The entry fee is $25, and there are prizes. For more detailed information such as dates contact the gallery. Phone 319-653-8550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
So here are the sites I found that you might enjoy visiting now and then. Go toartsandculture.google.com, “10 Iconic Museums and Galleries to Visit From Home”. The list includes The Met, Uffizi, LeLouvre, Rijks, Acropolis, British, Smithsonian, State Hermitage, d’Orsay, Moma, and an extra....the Metropolitan Opera. I just spent a pleasant hour with a coffee visiting some Vermeer’s at the Met. Paris next trip?
I will close my letter to you with a story of a new ART SCANDAL. A grad student writing a thesis on Edward Hopper discovered in an arcane art magazine from the late 1800’s some pictures that were nearly identical to three of his early works. They were done earlier than Ed’s and all by other artists. The article is a good read and quite informative on the life and character the man who so symbolized the America of the mid twentieth century. You can find the story here.
And a last note on John Preston’s free water color and pastel demos. They are usually Wednesdays at 1 to 2:30 or so and the past demos are posted to watch if you are interested. Go to his Facebook page and paint along with him if you like.
Migrate Art is an arts charity which supports displaced communities across the globe. In 2019, we were asked by Migrate Art to produce artist paints pigmented with ash from burnt crop fields in Iraqi Kurdistan. The result is Scorched Earth oil and acrylic paints, which have been used by 16 contemporary artists, including Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor (think "Cloud Gate", the large shiny egg in Millennium Park, Chicago), and Raqib Shaw, to make original artworks for the Scorched Earth charity exhibition. These artworks will be sold at auction at Christie's, with all proceeds going to charity.
In Florida, not Ithaca, NY! A very nice exhibition of clothing and artwork that can in many cases blur the line between artistic expression and practical apparel. My reasoning is that there is a lot of style in what is shown, and that translates into expression for me, i.e., I feel something more than just colors, shapes, recognizable imagery, artistic treatment. Molded reliefs, gorgeous "costumes", actual clothes, painting/photos, in other words plenty to view for a click or two. Peppy music, and anyway how many of us are going to Delray Beach, FL in Palm Beach County soon?
My artwork and the subjective subconscious or just subconscious for me: here's a decent lay explanation.
"The subconscious mind is the powerful secondary system that runs everything in your life. ... The subconscious mind is a data-bank for everything, which is not in your conscious mind. It stores your beliefs, your previous experience, your memories, your skills. Everything that you have seen, done or thought is also there."
Having subscribed to this thinking as a young adult, I am finding, as a fresh realization, that so much of what I do well in art is not actually cognitive in origin, but fed by impulses. These impulses are not urges like emotions or biological events or whims. They are just other ideas. Separating the two is tricky.
How do I channel them? I don't; they only arrive while working a lot or "by luck", and not often. This distinction is more useful to me these days though not a unique psychological awareness.
And the more I work, the more I understand Hippocrates' chiseled quote over the front door of the old U. of Iowa art building: "Art is long, life is short."
The long list of artists with birthdays in October includes a big one: Pablo Picasso. Born in Malaga, Spain, on Oct.25, 1881, Picasso went on to have one of the longest and most celebrated careers of any artist in history, producing thousands of paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, and even theater sets. He’s a household name, but film portrayals of him are few. Sir Anthony Hopkins offered a scathing picture of the artist’s callous womanizing in 1996’s Merchant-Ivory production Surviving Picasso. The filmmakers weren’t permitted to show his works so the movie says little about his artistry. In a similar vein, Picasso (played by Marcial Di Fonzo Bo) appears briefly as the jealous older boyfriend of Marion Cotillard in Woody Allen’s romantic fantasy Midnight in Paris (2011). Ironically, both films show only a single side of the artist who pioneered the multiple perspectives of Cubism.
More recently, Spanish superstar Antonio Banderas starred as Picasso in a National Geographic mini-series, Genius: Picasso (2018). Though Banderas was lauded by critics, the film itself received mixed reviews. But a 10-hour film covering the artist’s entire life is a major tribute nonetheless. I haven’t seen it but can’t imagine it’s not at least worth a look. Finally, for a different take on Picasso’s life, there’s LaBanda Picasso (Picasso’s Gang), an inspired-by-true-events Spanish comedy from 2012 about the young painter’s suspected involvement in the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. (Spoiler alert: he didn’t do it.)
All in all, Picasso has been better served by documentaries, of which there are many. One of the earliest is The Mystery of Picasso (1956), a unique look at the artist at work by French director Henri-Georges Clouzot (best known for his macabre thrillers Le Corbeau, Diabolique, and The Wages of Fear). In Mystery, Clouzot trains his camera not on Picasso but on his “canvas” (a specially designed glass plate) behind which Picasso sits and draws. The viewer can’t see him but watches his lines and colors appear on the screen, as if the painting magically paints itself (some time-lapse photography is also used). Occasionally a shirtless Picasso struts into view to grab a smoke and confer with Clouzot, who makes no mystery of his technique, lounging casually next to his camera, hobnobbing with the world’s most famous artist about the exclusive artwork they’re co-creating. Picasso’s drawings and paintings were destroyed afterward so they exist only in this film. In 1984 the French government declared the documentary a national treasure in order to preserve their images.
Another October birthday of note is that of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, who painted such exquisite masterpieces as The Milkmaid and Girl with the Pearl Earring. The latter became the subject of an historical novel in which author Tracy Chevalier invents a tender but platonic relationship between the painter and a household maid who poses for his picture. The best-selling book was adapted into a 2003 film with Scarlett Johansson as the model and Colin Firth as Vermeer. The two stars do well in their roles—especially Johansson, who looks remarkably like the original--but they’re outshone by the Oscar-nominated cinematography, art direction, and costumes, which handsomely recreate Vermeer’s visual style.
That style is the subject of Tim’s Vermeer, an intriguing documentary directed by Teller of Penn and Teller fame about inventor Tim Jenison’s experiments with different optical devices in an attempt to prove that Vermeer used mechanical aids to achieve the photographic realism of his canvases. I have yet to see it but it comes highly recommended.
Automatic Painting– Austin Caskie October 18, 2020 at 1:00 pm. on Zoom
Austin Caskie is a painter and new media artist from North Carolina now living and working in Iowa City, Iowa. Austin Caskie earned a BFA in Art and Design at the North Carolina State University College of Design.
“The Automatic Painting series began as an examination of generative art practices looking at the impact of machine learning algorithms on visual art. Using another process I created a body of work that handed over the powers of design and abstraction to a computer. I then applied my skills as an oil painter to take the computer’s vision and translate it into an oil painting. From there the scope of the conversation has expanded to encompass questions on craft, and the act of ascribing meaning to the results of randomness.”