kottke.org posts about art

How to understand a Picasso paintingMay 04 2016

It's impossible to tell someone how to interpret paintings by Picasso in only 8 minutes, but Evan Puschak provides a quick and dirty framework for how to begin evaluating the great master's work by considering your first reaction, the content, form, the historical context, and Picasso's own personal context.

An interactive Garden of Earthly DelightsMay 02 2016

Bosch Garden

On the 500th anniversary of his death, the Dutch public broadcasting service has created an interactive version of Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Motion capture of kung-fu moves create beautiful digital sculpturesMay 02 2016

Tobias Gremmler used motion capture to transform kung-fu moves into a variety of digital sculptures. (via colossal)

Misplaced New YorkApr 27 2016

Misplaced NYCMisplaced NYC

The Misplaced Series removes notable New York buildings from their surroundings and "misplaces" them in desolate landscapes around the world. Concrete behemoths and steel-and-glass towers rise from sand dunes and rocky cliffs, inviting viewers to see them as if for the first time. Out of context, architectural forms become more pronounced and easily understood.

See all 10 buildings in their new surroundings at Misplaced New York.

Famous paintings recreated with colorful masking tapeApr 21 2016

Nasa FunaharaNasa Funahara

Nasa Funahara makes art out of colorful masking tape, including recreations of famous artworks.

A color palette of human skin tonesApr 20 2016

Angelica Dass

Angélica Dass' Humanæ project matches photos of volunteer participants with the Pantone colors of their skin tones.

Update: Turns out this really cool blog you guys should be reading covered this project almost 4 years ago. (thx, @djacobs)

Fine art gets pop culturedApr 06 2016

The Popquotery Instagram account mixes fine art with pop culture quotations, mostly from movies. Here for instance, is Degas + Ferris Bueller:

Popquotery

And Waterhouse + Back to the Future:

Popquotery

How about Gowy + Top Gun:

Popquotery

A new Rembrandt, painted by data analysisApr 05 2016

A group of organizations, including Microsoft and the Rembrandthuis museum, have collaborated to produce a new painting by Rembrandt. Or rather, "by" Rembrandt. The team wrote software that analyzed the Dutch master's entire catalog of paintings and used the data to create a 3D-printed Rembrandt-esque painting.

We now had a digital file true to Rembrandt's style in content, shapes, and lighting. But paintings aren't just 2D -- they have a remarkable three-dimensionality that comes from brushstrokes and layers of paint. To recreate this texture, we had to study 3D scans of Rembrandt's paintings and analyze the intricate layers on top of the canvas.

I'd say they did pretty well:

Next Rembrandt

I wonder though, to what extent is this an averaged Rembrandt? According to the program, is there one canonical Rembrandt-esque eye and that's it? Or can the program paint dozens of variations? After all, because he was (presumably) working with actual people, Rembrandt himself had hundreds or thousands of ways to paint, it wasn't just the same sort of mouth over and over.

See also Loving Vincent and Alice in a Neural Networks Wonderland. (thx, lucas)

Update: Peter Schjeldahl, art critic for the New Yorker, weighs in on The Next Rembrandt.

In truth, the portrait wobbles at a second glance and crashes at a third. The sitter has a sparkle of personality but utterly lacks the personhood -- the being-ness -- that never eluded Rembrandt. He is an actor, acting.

He also calls it "fan fiction".

People in prison drawing people who should beMar 16 2016

CapturedCaptured

For the Captured project, prison inmates drew pictures of people they felt should be in jail instead, "the CEOs of companies destroying our environment, economy, and society". All 1000 books have sold out with the proceeds going to Bernie Sanders' campaign.

Aging 70 years in 4 minutesMar 02 2016

This fantastic short video from Anthony Cerniello shows a person imperceptibly aging from youth to old age.

The idea was that something is happening but you can't see it but you can feel it, like aging itself.

I would love to know how this was done. Benjamin Button-esque FX, I would imagine.

Update: Oh hey, luckily for me, this blogger named Jason Kottke posted this video more than two years ago and noted how the video was made.

Anthony Cerniello took photos of similar-looking family members at a reunion, from the youngest to the oldest, and edited them together in a video to create a nearly seamless portrait of a person aging in only a few minutes.

I think I'll have to subscribe to this fella's site. (via @jniemasik)

Loving VincentMar 01 2016

Loving Vincent is an upcoming feature-length film about Vincent van Gogh that is animated in an unusual way: using 12 oil paintings per second. They've trained dozens of painters -- and are looking for more if you're interested -- in the style of van Gogh to illustrate every instant of the film. Here are some of the painters working on the movie:

Loving Vincent

(via colossal)

The Secret Life and Art of Henry DargerFeb 26 2016

Henry Darger is perhaps the most famous outsider artist in the world. This is a short documentary about his life (not much is known) and art (which now fetches tens of thousands of dollars).

Intricate paper dioramas of scenes from Wes Anderson moviesFeb 23 2016

Mar CerdaMar CerdaMar Cerda

Spanish artist Mar Cerdà uses watercolor and paper to create amazingly detailed dioramas, including those made from scenes in Wes Anderson movies. So far, he's done scenes from The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Darjeeling Limited, and The Royal Tenenbaums. (via designboom)

Queen Nefertiti freed from German museumFeb 22 2016

The Neues Museum in Berlin is the current home of the bust of Queen Nefertiti, a singular piece of ancient Egyptian sculpture. A pair of artists went to the museum, did a 360° scan of the bust without the museum's permission, and have made the resulting high-resolution 3D model available to all.

3d Nefertiti

In lieu of the contested original, a 3D-printed copy of the bust made from the model is now on display in Egypt at the American University of Cairo. (via hyperallergic)

Update: There's cause to be skeptical about how the 3D scan of Nefertiti was accomplished and the artists are being a little vague as to how they did it. The video shows the artists using a Kinect Xbox controller but a Kinect scan can't deliver the resolution level of the 3D model. Perhaps it was stitched together using a bunch of photos? Or maybe they hacked into the museum's files and took their model?

The last possibility and reigning theory is that Ms. Badri and Mr. Nelles elusive hacker partners are literally real hackers who stole a copy of the high resolution scan from the Museum's servers. A high resolution scan must exist as a high res 3D printed replica is already available for sale online.

Paint like there's nobody watching (or buying)Feb 12 2016

Adam Westbrook talks about Vincent van Gogh and the benefit of doing creative work without the audience in mind. Having never read Csikszentmihalyi's Flow (I know, I know), I was unfamiliar with the word "autotelic". From Wikipedia:

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes people who are internally driven, and as such may exhibit a sense of purpose and curiosity, as autotelic. This determination is an exclusive difference from being externally driven, where things such as comfort, money, power, or fame are the motivating force.

Doug Belshaw has a bit more on autotelism and how it relates to education.

Climate change artFeb 03 2016

Artist Jill Pelto turns climate change graphs into art. So, for instance, a chart of rising global temperatures turns into a forest fire, which are becoming more common as temps rise:

Jill Pelto

And a graph of the retreat of glaciers over the years becomes a retreating glacier:

Jill Pelto

(via @EricHolthaus & climate central)

Cross-pollinated comicsJan 26 2016

100 Comic Characters

Artist Jaakko Seppälä drew 10 of his favorite comic characters in each other's distinctive styles, e.g. Lucy van Pelt in the style of Calvin and Hobbes or Garfield in the style of Donald Duck.

Update: See also the Great Comic Switcheroo of 1997, where a bunch of comic authors drew each others' comics for a day. (via @craigpatik)

Horizontal historyJan 21 2016

At Wait But Why, Tim Urban turns history on its side by thinking about time-synchronized events around the world, as opposed to events through the progression of time in each part of the world.

Likewise, I might know that Copernicus began writing his seminal work On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres in Poland in the early 1510s, but by learning that right around that same time in Italy, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, I get a better picture of the times. By learning that it was right while both of these things were happening that Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon in England, the 1510s suddenly begins to take on a distinct personality. These three facts, when put together, allow me to see a more three-dimensional picture of the 1510s -- it allows me to see the 1510s horizontally, like cutting out a complete segment of the vine tangle and examining it all together.

He does this mainly by charting and graphing the lifetimes of famous people, revealing hidden contemporaries.

Horizontal History Graph

I've been slowly making my way through Ken Burns' remastered The Civil War.1 At a few points in the program, narrator David McCullough reminds the viewer of what was going on around the world at the same time as the war. In the US, 1863 brought the Battle of Gettysburg and The Emancipation Proclamation. But also:

In Paris that year, new paintings by Cezanne, Whistler, and Manet were shown at a special exhibit for outcasts. In Russia, Dostoevsky finished Notes from the Underground. And in London, Karl Marx labored to complete his masterpiece, Das Kapital.

And a year later, while the advantage in the war was turning towards the US:1

In 1864, a rebellion in China that cost 20 million lives finally came to an end. In 1864, the Tsar's armies conquered Turkistan and Tolstoy finished War and Peace. In 1864, Louis Pasteur pasteurized wine, the Geneva Convention established the neutrality of battlefield hospitals, and Karl Marx founded the International Workingmen's Association in London and in New York.

Urban explicitly references the war in his post:

People in the US associate the 1860s with Lincoln and the Civil War. But what we overlook is that the 1860s was one of history's greatest literary decades. In the ten years between 1859 and 1869, Darwin published his world-changing On the Origin of Species (1859), Dickens published A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Great Expectations (1861), Lewis Carroll published Alice in Wonderland (1865), Dostoyevsky published Crime and Punishment (1866), and Tolstoy capped things off with War and Peace (1869).

The Civil War. The Origin of Species. Alice in Wonderland. The infancy of Impressionism. Pasteurization. Das Kapital. Gregor Mendel's laws of inheritance. All in an eight-year span. Dang.

  1. Which is simply excellent. I had forgotten how powerful the storytelling technique Burns devised for his documentaries is. Really really worth your time to watch or re-watch.

  2. In talking about the Civil War, I've been trying to use Michael Todd Landis' new language...so, "labor camps" instead of "plantations" and "United States" instead of "Union".

Bull's Head by Pablo PicassoJan 13 2016

Before the holiday break, I took in the Picasso Sculpture show at MoMA. Sculpture typically isn't my cup of tea art-wise (or Picasso-wise) and much of the exhibition was lost on me, but Bull's Head stopped me in my tracks.

Picasso, Bull's Head

Picasso once said of the piece:

Guess how I made the bull's head? One day, in a pile of objects all jumbled up together, I found an old bicycle seat right next to a rusty set of handlebars. In a flash, they joined together in my head. The idea of the Bull's Head came to me before I had a chance to think. All I did was weld them together... [but] if you were only to see the bull's head and not the bicycle seat and handlebars that form it, the sculpture would lose some of its impact.

The piece is, at once, just barely over the line of what can be considered art and also so wonderfully artistic. Love it.

What men at strip clubs sayDec 22 2015

According to Jacq the Stripper's Twitter bio, "I dance. Naked. For large (and occasionally insultingly modest) sums of money. I wrote a book about it." Her book is The Beaver Show, and you can buy it in paperback or Kindle.
It's a memoir of her life on the gentlemen's club stage.

On Twitter, she also posts her art, featuring absurd things male customers say.

jacq-stripper.jpg

Space miniaturesDec 01 2015

Mini SpaceMini SpaceMini Space

Using a tilt-shift effect, St. Tesla created miniature versions of galaxies, nebula, and supernovas. So cute!

Star Wars characters as Greek statuesNov 11 2015

Travis Durden

From artist Travis Durden, Greek-style faux-marble sculptures of Star Wars characters. I think the one of General Grievous is my favorite. (via colossal)

P.S. Colossal is on a roll lately. Go look.

Ed Fairburn's map portraitsNov 09 2015

Ed FairburnEd Fairburn

Colossal notes that artist Ed Fairburn has produced a bunch of new work (previously). Love these.

The US govt's trove of beautiful apple paintingsNov 03 2015

Apple Painting

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Library contains around 3800 watercolor paintings, lithographs, and drawings of different apple varieties, most of which you will not find at the typical American grocery store. They also have another 3500 images of other fruits and nuts. (via slate)

Update: Until recently, the high-resolution images from this collection were not freely available to the public. After some agitation by Parker Higgins of the EFF, the Department of Agriculture decided to post high-res JPGs of each painting for free download. Higgins recently gave a talk about how it went down. This is a good example of the value of the public domain (and activists like Higgins)...without those images being available, neither Slate or I would have written about the collection, and who knows what someone who read them will do with that information. Maybe nothing! But maybe something cool! It's worth putting it out there to find out...governments should be in the business of increasing the possibility space of their citizens. (via @stvnrlly)

Trippy, freaky animated GIFs from ZollocOct 30 2015

Zolloc

Operating under the name of Zolloc, Hayden Zezula makes all sorts of cool, creepy, lovely, trippy animated GIFs. This one is my favorite. (via ignant)

Photographs of auto mechanics posed in the style of Renaissance masterpiecesOct 26 2015

Freddy FabrisFreddy Fabris

From photographer Freddy Fabris, The Renaissance Series, photographs of auto mechanics posed in the style of Renaissance paintings. (via colossal)

The very first episode of The Joy of PaintingOct 23 2015

The Joy of Painting, hosted by Bob Ross, ran for 11 years on public television for a total of more than 400 episodes. The very first episode ever broadcast was just uploaded to Ross' YouTube channel.

Alice in a Neural Networks WonderlandSep 17 2015

Gene Kogan used some neural network software written by Justin Johnson to transfer the style of paintings by 17 artists to a scene from Disney's 1951 animated version of Alice in Wonderland. The artists include Sol Lewitt, Picasso, Munch, Georgia O'Keeffe, and van Gogh.

Neural Wonderland

The effect works amazingly well, like if you took Alice in Wonderland and a MoMA catalog and put them in a blender. (via prosthetic knowledge)

Film of Claude Monet painting water lilies in his gardenSep 16 2015

From 1915, a short film of Claude Monet painting one of his series of Water Lilies paintings. Monet created about 250 oil paintings depicting the lilies and other flowers in his flower garden at Giverny.

Open Culture has posted a few other videos of old masters at work and at leisure, including Edgar Degas, Auguste Renoir, and Auguste Rodin.

Children of Men: Don't Ignore the BackgroundSep 15 2015

The Nerdwriter takes on Children of Men, specifically what's going in the background of Alfonso Cuarón's film, both in terms of references to other works of art & culture and to things that push the plot along and contribute to the tone and message of the film.

Hanging in the WoodsSep 03 2015

[This is NSFW.] Artist Hilde Krohn Huse needed a minute or two of film of herself hanging naked upside down from a tree branch for a project she was working on. But when the rope tightened around her ankle too much, things went a little wrong.

My first thought was, "OK, you've fucked up, Hilde, but let's try to get you out of this so nobody needs to know." I hauled myself up, hand over hand, until I was swinging horizontally, just below the branch, and tried to yank my foot free.

It was hopeless. Righting myself, I put my free foot back on the ground to rest for a moment, then tried again, pulling myself up and fighting, puppet-like, against my bonds. My left foot, taking my weight in the lowest noose, started to spasm and I knew my strength wouldn't hold out. But my pride was still uppermost -- the idea of having to draw the attention of others to my humiliating plight still seemed unthinkable. I was losing strength, but full of adrenaline, my face dragging along the woodland floor, leaving me spitting twigs.

As any good artist would, Huse turned her ordeal into an art piece in the form of the 11 minutes of video shot before her camera shut off:

How a volcanic eruption changed the worldSep 03 2015

The eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815 was the most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history. According to Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World by Gillen D'Arcy Wood, the eruption affected the world's weather for at least three years, inspired artists & writers, triggered famine, contributed to the world's cholera epidemic, and altered economic systems all over the world.

Here, Gillen D'Arcy Wood traces Tambora's global and historical reach: how the volcano's three-year climate change regime initiated the first worldwide cholera pandemic, expanded opium markets in China, and plunged the United States into its first economic depression. Bringing the history of this planetary emergency to life, Tambora sheds light on the fragile interdependence of climate and human societies to offer a cautionary tale about the potential tragic impacts of drastic climate change in our own century.

William Broad reviewed the book recently for the NY Times.

The particles high in the atmosphere also produced spectacular sunsets, as detailed in the famous paintings of J.M.W. Turner, the English landscape pioneer. His vivid red skies, Dr. Wood remarked, "seem like an advertisement for the future of art."

The story also comes alive in local dramas, none more important for literary history than the birth of Frankenstein's monster and the human vampire. That happened on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, where some of the most famous names of English poetry had gone on a summer holiday.

The Tambora eruption must have also unleashed quite a racket, perhaps louder than Krakatoa's loudest sound in the world.

Dismaland Bemusement Park by BanksyAug 20 2015

Banksy Dismaland

Banksy has opened an apocalyptic theme park called Dismaland in an abandoned resort in an English coastal town, Weston-super-Mare.

Are you looking for an alternative to the sugar-coated tedium of the average family day out? Or just somewhere a lot cheaper? Then this is the place for you. Bring the whole family to come and enjoy the latest addition to our chronic leisure surplus...

The entrance fee is £3 and the park will be open for five weeks. Colossal has the scoop, including a list of artists who contributed art to the park, er, show.

A demented assortment of bizarre and macabre artworks from no less than 50 artists from around the world including Damien Hirst, Bill Barminski, Caitlin Cherry, Polly Morgan, Josh Keyes, Mike Ross, David Shrigley, Bäst, and Espo. In addition, Banksy is showing 10 artworks of his own.

Colossal's own Christopher Jobson curated the park's short film program. Congrats! (Also, super jealous!)

Update: For a closer look at the park, check out the trailer:

Hysterical LiteratureJul 30 2015

Photographer Clayton Cubitt started a project in 2012 called Hysterical Literature. In each of the project's resulting videos, a female participant is filmed from the waist up reading a story of her choosing while she is stimulated to orgasm with a vibrator by Cubitt's partner, Katie James. His first subject was adult film star Stoya; her thoughts on the experience are here.

Vanity Fair recently sent writer Tony Bentley to participate in an HL session. Her reading choice? The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James.

With Katie now in position under the table, takeoff is imminent and the stakes are high: the sessions are a one-shot deal, no retakes, and no editing of the footage after the fact. It was not lost on me that a perfect triangulation between Clayton (auteur, cameraman), Katie (Hitachi artist), and me (the canvas) was in play, and it mirrored my internal mixture of curiosity, exhilaration, and stage fright. I couldn't help wondering if this adventure qualified as having a threesome with two strangers. But soon enough such intellectualizing sexualizing was rendered naught.

"Rolling," says Clayton, and everything instantly disappeared except the book in my hands and the words on the page. The world was out and I was on.

By the time I'd read two pages, I was struggling mightily to keep my countenance. "She spent half her time in thinking of beauty, bravery and mag-nan-nnn-im-im-ity..."

There's no nudity in the videos, but you might still find them NSFW.

Renaissance painting shows how watermelons looked before selective breedingJul 29 2015

A painting of fruit done by Giovanni Stanchi sometime in the mid 1600s shows that the watermelon has changed somewhat in the intervening 350 years.

Renaissance watermelon

That's because over time, we've bred watermelons to have the bright red color we recognize today. That fleshy interior is actually the watermelon's placenta, which holds the seeds. Before it was fully domesticated, that placenta lacked the high amounts of lycopene that give it the red color. Through hundreds of years of domestication, we've modified smaller watermelons with a white interior into the larger, lycopene-loaded versions we know today.

(via @robinsloan)

Why medieval painting babies were uglyJul 28 2015

I had no idea Ol' Dirty Bastard and medieval paintings had something in common. One of ODB's AKAs was also the reason why babies in medieval paintings looked like ugly middle-aged men: Big Baby Jesus.

I mean, this baby looks like he wants to tell you that a boat is just a money pit.

Tree of 40 FruitJul 24 2015

Artist Sam Van Aken is using grafting to create trees that bear 40 different kinds of fruit. National Geographic recently featured Van Aken's Tree of 40 Fruit project:

The grafting process involves slicing a bit of a branch with a bud from a tree of one of the varieties and inserting it into a slit in a branch on the "working tree," then wrapping the wound with tape until it heals and the bud starts to grow into a new branch. Over several years he adds slices of branches from other varieties to the working tree. In the spring the "Tree of 40 Fruit" has blossoms in many hues of pink and purple, and in the summer it begins to bear the fruits in sequence -- Van Aken says it's both a work of art and a time line of the varieties' blossoming and fruiting. He's created more than a dozen of the trees that have been planted at sites such as museums around the U.S., which he sees as a way to spread diversity on a small scale.

(via colossal)

Understanding Art: Cezanne's The Large BathersJul 20 2015

Paul Cezanne's The Large Bathers is the subject of the second video in The Nerdwriter's series, Understanding Art. (The first was on Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Socrates.)

The Large Bathers is part of a series of similar paintings by Cezanne. The one used in the video is housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art:

Cezanne Bathers

Other pieces include those from (top to bottom) The National Gallery, The Art Institute of Chicago, and The Barnes Foundation:

Cezanne BathersCezanne BathersCezanne Bathers

Reviving a 17th century masterpieceJul 17 2015

The Met recently cleaned and repaired a 1660 painting by Charles Le Brun called Everhard Jabach and His Family. It took ten months of painstaking work, as this video shows:

Colossal has some before-and-after shots of the painting.

Every item in grandpa's tool shedJul 13 2015

Lee John Phillips is attempting to draw every single item in his late grandfather's tool shed.

Lee John PhillipsLee John PhillipsLee John Phillips

You can follow his progress on Instagram.

I can't believe it's not newspaperJul 06 2015

Randall Rosenthal makes amazingly realistic wooden sculptures of everyday objects like newspapers, legal pads, baseball cards, and kitchen scenes. He carves each of his sculptures out of a single block of wood. So, this is carved entirely out of wood:

Randall Rosenthal wooden sculpture

And so is this:

Randall Rosenthal wooden sculpture

And this too:

Randall Rosenthal wooden sculpture

And here's a look at that last sculpture in progress:

Randall Rosenthal wooden sculpture

(via @pieratt)

A 1968 computer art contestJul 06 2015

Computer Art 1968

From the August 1968 issue of Computers and Automation magazine, the results of their Sixth Annual Computer Art Contest (flip to page 8).

Computer Art 1968Computer Art 1968

It's also worth paging through the rest of the magazine just for the ads.

Update: Looks like The Verge saw this post and did a followup on the history of the Computer Art Contest.

In any given issue, Computers and Automation devoted equal time to the latest methods of database storage and grand questions about the future of their "great instrument," but the Computer Art Contest was soon a regular event. A look back through old issues of the journal (available at Internet Archive) shows how the fledgling discipline of computer art rapidly evolved. At the time, computers were specialized tools, most commonly used by individuals working in research labs, academia, or the military -- and this heritage shows. Both the first and second prizes for the inaugural 1963 competition went to designs generated at the same military lab.

What was the Venus de Milo doing with her arms?Jul 03 2015

The Venus de Milo's arms are lost to history but that hasn't stopped historians and scholars wondering what exactly she was doing with them when the statue was carved. In order to test out a theory that Venus was spinning thread, Virginia Postrel hired designer and artist Cosmo Wenman to construct a 3D model of Venus de Milo.

Venus De Milo with arms

Artificial Killing MachineJun 30 2015

Artificial Killing MachineArtificial Killing Machine is an art installation that listens to a public database on US military drone strikes. When there's a strike, a cap gun fires for every death.

This time based work accesses a public database on U.S. military drone strikes. When a drone strike occurs, the machine activates, and fires a children's toy cap gun for every death that results. The raw information used by the installation is then printed. The materialized data is allowed to accumulate in perpetuity or until the life cycle of either the database or machine ends. A single chair is placed beneath the installation inviting the viewers to sit in the chair and experience the imagined existential risk.

The goal of the project is to breathe humanity back into data:

When individuals are represented purely as statistical data, they are stripped of their humanity and our connection to them is severed. Through the act of play and the force of imagination, this project aims to reconnect that which has been lost.

(via prosthetic knowledge)

MoMA adds the LGBT rainbow flag to their collectionJun 17 2015

MoMA Rainbow Flag

MoMA has announced that they've acquired the Rainbow Flag for their permanent collection. The flag has been a symbol of the LGBT community around the world since its creation in 1978. As part of the acquisition, MoMA Curatorial Assistant Michelle Millar Fisher interviewed the man who designed the flag, artist Gilbert Baker.

And I thought, a flag is different than any other form of art. It's not a painting, it's not just cloth, it is not a just logo -- it functions in so many different ways. I thought that we needed that kind of symbol, that we needed as a people something that everyone instantly understands. [The Rainbow Flag] doesn't say the word "Gay," and it doesn't say "the United States" on the American flag but everyone knows visually what they mean. And that influence really came to me when I decided that we should have a flag, that a flag fit us as a symbol, that we are a people, a tribe if you will. And flags are about proclaiming power, so it's very appropriate.

So the American flag was my introduction into that great big world of vexilography. But I didn't really know that much about it. I was a big drag queen in 1970s San Francisco. I knew how to sew. I was in the right place at the right time to make the thing that we needed. It was necessary to have the Rainbow Flag because up until that we had the pink triangle from the Nazis -- it was the symbol that they would use [to denote gay people]. It came from such a horrible place of murder and holocaust and Hitler. We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things. Plus, it's a natural flag -- it's from the sky! And even though the rainbow has been used in other ways in vexilography, this use has now far eclipsed any other use that it had...

Every Person in New YorkJun 11 2015

Every Person In NY Book

Jason Polan has turned his long-term project to draw each and every person in New York into a book coming out in August. As a long-time Polan fan, I'm looking forward to this.

Sunday SketchesJun 09 2015

Christoph Niemann's Sunday Sketches are typically great, but this one from last Sunday really grabbed my attention:

Niemann Brush Dress

So good. I am also a sucker for this one:

Niemann Magritte

Sea is for CookieJun 05 2015

Sea is for Cookie

Magisterial. The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai, modified by Reddit users Put_It_All_On_Red and photosonny. (via @craigmod)

Tree of Codes contemporary ballet performanceJun 03 2015

Tree Of Codes Jamie xx Olafur Eliasson

Director and choreographer Wayne McGregor, artist Olafur Eliasson, music producer Jamie XX (new album!), and dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet are collaborating on a contemporary ballet performance based on Jonathan Safran Foer's Tree of Codes.

Award-winning choreographer Wayne McGregor's groundbreaking practice embraces dance, science, film, music, and technology to generate intriguing, expansive works. For Tree of Codes, McGregor is collaborating with artist Olafur Eliasson and producer/composer Jamie xx to create a contemporary ballet. Eliasson's large-scale projects, including The New York City Waterfalls and The weather project at the Tate Modern, have captured the attention of audiences worldwide. Mercury Prize-winning Jamie xx blurs the boundaries between artist and audience in sonic environments like the one he created with his band, The xx, at the Armory in 2014.

Triggered by Jonathan Safran Foer's Tree of Codes (an artwork in the form of a book which was in turn inspired by Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz), this new, evening-length work features a company of soloists and dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet and Company Wayne McGregor.

Two performances are planned so far: at the Manchester International Festival (July 2-10) and the Park Avenue Armory (Sept 14-21). (thx, michelle)

Gradient food photographyJun 02 2015

Britney Wright takes photos of food arranged in size and color gradients.

Food GradientsFood GradientsFood Gradients

Follow Wright on Instagram and buy her prints.

The Case for Andy WarholJun 02 2015

From Sarah Urist Green of The Art Assignment (and former curator of contemporary art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art), The Case for Andy Warhol, in which Green discusses Warhol's importance as an artist.

Like Jay Z but far earlier, he understood that to be an artist in a market economy meant not being "a businessman" but being "a business, man". And he turned himself into a globally recognized brand.

Art history in contemporary lifeMay 28 2015

Alexey Kondakov takes figures from classical paintings, places them in contemporary scenes, and posts the results on Facebook. Think of cherubs riding the subway, that sort of thing.

Alexey KondakovAlexey Kondakov

(via colossal)

QuerklesMay 27 2015

Querkles

This looks cool...Thomas Pavitte has reinvented the paint-by-numbers with Querkles. Instead of simple numbered areas to fill in, Querkles cleverly uses overlapping circles that you fill in with different shading techniques or colors to reveal hidden faces. Here's a short demo of how it works:

Pavitte has two different books available: Querkles and Querkles Masterpiece, featuring famous faces from the art world. See also coloring books for adults.

Shot in the name of artMay 26 2015

The NY Times has a short documentary on Chris Burden's Shoot, a conceptual art piece from 1971 in which Burden is shot in the arm by a friend.

Burden passed away earlier this month. (via digg)

Trophy ScarvesMay 15 2015

For his project Trophy Scarves, artist Nate Hill photographed himself "[wearing] white women for status and power".

Trophy Scarves

Hill says "it's a satire on black men who like to see white women as status symbols". NSFW (some nudity)...or you can view censored pics on Instagram.

Augmented handsMay 06 2015

Augmented HandAugmented Hand Series is an interactive software system created by Golan Levin, Chris Sugrue, and Kyle McDonald. You stick your hand in and on the screen you see your hand with an extra thumb, one fewer knuckle in each finger, fingers with springs in them, variable sized fingers, and the ultra freaky Breathing Palm.

(via prosthetic knowledge)

Auto-widened Seinfeld and The SimpsonsMay 06 2015

Artist JK Keller has digitally widened1 episodes of The Simpsons and Seinfeld to fit a 16:9 HD aspect ratio. Watching the altered scenes is trippy...the characters and their surroundings randomly expand and contract as the scenes play out.

Keller also HD-ified an episode of the X-Files and slimmed an old episode of Star Trek into a vertical aspect ratio. (via @frank_chimero)

  1. At least I think that's how they were created. The videos were posted without explanation -- aside from their titles "LEaKeD TesT footagE frOM seiNfelD RemaSter In hiGh-defiNiTiON" and "animAtORs rEdraw old SimPsons epIsodeS fOr hdTv" -- so it's hard to say for sure.

Digital deformationsMay 05 2015

Using professional-grade visual effects combo Arnold and Maya, Lee Griggs makes art. Like these Deformations:

Lee GriggsLee Griggs

And Abstract Portraits:

Lee Griggs

(via ignant)

MoMA's digital art vaultApr 16 2015

MoMA Digital Art Vault

Ben Fino-Radin of MoMA's Department of Conservation wrote a brief post about how the museum manages their digital artworks, including a bit about how they think about futureproofing the collection.

The packager addresses the most fundamental challenge in digital preservation: all digital files are encoded. They require special tools in order to be understood as anything more than a pile of bits and bytes. Just as a VHS tape is useless without a VCR, a digital video file is useless without some kind of software that understands how to interpret and play it, or tell you something about its contents. At least with a VHS tape you can hold it in your hand and say, "Hey, this looks like a VHS tape and it probably has an analog video signal recorded on it." But there is essentially nothing about a QuickTime .MOV file that says, "Hello, I am a video file! You should use this sort of software to view me." We rely on specially designed software-be it an operating system or something more specialized-to tell us these things. The problem is that these tools may not always be around, or may not always understand all formats the way they do today. This means that even if we manage to keep a perfect copy of a video file for 100 years, no one may be able to understand that it's a video file, let alone what to do with it. To avoid this scenario, the "packager" -- free, open-source software called Archivematica -- analyzes all digital collections materials as they arrive, and records the results in an obsolescence-proof text format that is packaged and stored with the materials themselves. We call this an "archival information package."

Online exhibition of Sino-Japanese War printsApr 09 2015

This collection of prints produced by artists about the Sino-Japanese War and housed in The British Library is great, but this particular print is just beyond:

Sino Japan Art

Understanding Art: The Death of SocratesApr 09 2015

From Evan Puschak, aka The Nerdwriter, comes an entertaining analysis of Jacques-Louis David's neoclassical masterpiece, The Death of Socrates.

The Death of Socrates is on display at the Met here in NYC. From the Met's catalogue entry:

In 399 B.C., having been accused by the Athenian government of impiety and of corrupting young people with his teachings, the philosopher Socrates was tried, found guilty, and offered the choice of renouncing his beliefs or drinking the cup of hemlock. He died willingly for the principles he held dear. Here he gestures toward the cup, points toward the heavens, and discourses on the immortality of the soul. The picture, with its stoic theme, has been described as David's most perfect neoclassical statement.

The artist consulted Plato's "Phaedo" and a variety of sources including Diderot's treatise on dramatic poetry and works by the poet André Chenier. The pose of Plato, the figure seated in profile at the foot of the bed (who was not actually present at the scene), was reportedly inspired by the English novelist Richardson. The printmaker and publisher John Boydell, writing to Sir Joshua Reynolds, called The Death of Socrates "the greatest effort of art since the Sistine Chapel and the stanze of Raphael," further observing that the painting "would have done honour to Athens at the time of Pericles."

Here's a bigger view of the painting, which you'll want to pore over once you've watched the video. (via ★interesting)

The first and final frames of 55 filmsMar 20 2015

I really love this video featuring the opening and closing shots of fifty-five movies presented side-by-side, "First and Final Frames." Created by Jacob T. Swinney.

My favorites: "Tree of Life," "Raging Bull," "Melancholia."

Update: Swinney has released a second installment of First and Final Frames.

Two women leading parallel lives are getting to know each other through dataMar 19 2015

dear-data.jpg

Giorgia Lupi, who lives in New York, and Stefanie Posavec, who lives in London, are engaged in a long-distance, postcard-based data exchange in order to get to know each other better: "Dear Data." They've only met in person twice, and they're both interested in data, so they're sending each other postcard drawings of data about their day-to-day lives.

Each week we collect and measure a particular type of data about our lives, use this data to make a drawing on a postcard-sized sheet of paper, and then drop the postcard in an English "postbox" (Stefanie) or an American "mailbox" (Giorgia)!

Eventually, the postcard arrives at the other person's address with all the scuff marks of its journey over the ocean: a type of "slow data" transmission.

By creating and sending the data visualizations using analogue instead of digital means, we are really just doing what artists have done for ages, which is sketch and try to capture the essence of the life happening around them. However, as we are sketching life in the modern digital age, life also includes everything that is counted, computed, and measured.

We are trying to capture the life unfolding around us, but instead we are capturing this life through sketching the hidden patterns found within our data.

The data appears on the front of the postcard, and a key explaining how to read the data appears on the back of the postcard. (via Coudal)

Ye olde hip hopMar 04 2015

There are only a dozen images so far, but this Tumblr comparing art from before the 16th century and contemporary images of hip hop is fantastic. My favorites:

Hip Hop ArtHip Hop Art

Interactive Matisse cut-outsFeb 09 2015

If, like me, you couldn't get it together to make it to the Matisse cut-outs show at MoMA, the NY Times has you covered with an interactive look at the show.

Machine with ConcreteFeb 09 2015

Arthur Ganson is a kinetic sculptor who builds "Rube Goldberg machines with existential themes". One of his works is called Machine with Concrete, which demonstrates the magic of gear ratios.

According to a piece in Make, the input shaft spins at 200 rpm, which is reduced by gearing down to 1 revolution every 2 trillion years by the time you reach the gear on the end...which is so slow that even embedding the final gear in concrete doesn't make any difference to the machine's operation. (via interconnected)

Designer real estate for hermit crabsFeb 06 2015

Aki Inomata Crab

Artist Aki Inomata builds fanciful new houses for hermit crabs.

Miniature windmills, churches, and even entire cities jut from the surface of her 3D-printed shells, which are modelled upon CT scans of abandoned crab shells and then recreated in transparent resin. Inomata then allows the homeless crabs to inspect the shelters at their leisure -- she says "most hermit crabs don't even glance at" them, but occasionally one of the creatures finds its dream real estate and settles in.

Beautiful hand painted ski trail mapsFeb 06 2015

If you've ever noticed most ski trail maps look kinda the same, the reason is many of them have been painted by a single individual: James Niehues.

Each view is hand painted by brush and airbrush using opaque watercolor to capture the detail and variations of nature's beauty. In many instances, distortions are necessary to bring everything into a single view. The trick is to do this without the viewer realizing that anything has been altered from the actual perspective.

Here's a selection of his work:

James NiehuesJames NiehuesJames Niehues

Huge trove of Smithsonian art digitized; over 40,000 worksJan 05 2015

Freer Sackler 01Freer Sackler 02

Over the holiday, the Smithsonian's Freer|Sackler art galleries put more than 40,000 works of art online; that's their entire collection available for high-resolution download. Here's the announcement on their blog.

We've digitized our entire collection and today, we're making it available to the public. That's thousands of works now ready for you to download, modify, and share for noncommercial purposes. As Freer|Sackler Director Julian Raby said, "We strive to promote the love and study of Asian art, and the best way we can do so is to free our unmatched resources for inspiration, appreciation, academic study, and artistic creation."

Great to see galleries and museums doing this sort of thing, e.g. the Met and all the institutions participating in The Commons at Flickr. (via the verge)

Mapper's DelightDec 26 2014

A project called Maximum Distance. Minimum Displacement. analyzed the lyrics of several popular rappers for geographical mentions and had an industrial robot draw each rapper's lyrical journey through the world. At a glance, you can see how worldly (Niggas in Paris) or locally oriented (Straight Outta Compton) each rapper is. Compare world-traveller Jay Z:

Rap Map 01

with Kendrick Lamar:

Rap Map 02

Kendrick Lamar's analysis is culled from the lyrics of his underground & independent albums and is heavy with Compton references. Over the next few years it will be interesting to see how mainstream successes and personal experience change the travel of his lyrics.

String cheetahDec 18 2014

Love this illustration style from Kerby Rosanes. Gorgeous:

Kerby Rosanes

(via colossal)

Extrapolated ArtDec 10 2014

Yarin Gal used an "inpainting" algorithm to extend the canvases of notable paintings. Like van Gogh's Starry Night or Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa:

Extrapolated ArtExtrapolated Art

There's a post on the Wolfram Alpha blog about how you can achieve similar effects using the Wolfram Language.

Earliest art predates modern humans by 300,000 yearsDec 04 2014

Early Shell Art

A shell found in the 1890s was recently found to have what scientists are calling the world's oldest "abstract marking", a 500,000-year-old etching made by Homo erectus, an extinct ancestor of modern humans.

Close inspection under the microscope suggested that the engraving was intentional. The weathering patterns of the grooves, each of which is about 1 centimetre long, show signs of significant ageing, and there are no gaps between turns, indicating that the maker paid attention to detail. He or she probably made the engraving on a fresh shell, and the newly made etching would have resembled white lines on a dark canvas, Joordens' team notes. Sand grains still embedded in the shell were dated to around 500,000 years ago.

The Armory Show sale listingDec 01 2014

Van Gogh Armory

The International Exhibition of Modern Art held at the The 69th Regiment Armory in NYC in 1913 was the first large public exhibition of modern art in the US. It has become known simply as The Armory Show. Among the artists represented at the show were Paul Cézanne, Georges Braque, Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Claude Monet, Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, and Fernand Léger. So yeah, important show.

John Ptak noticed in a book he was reading that the sales total for the show was $44,148, which is something like $1,000,000 in today's dollars. Of that total, two artists were responsible for almost a third of the total: Odilon Redon made $7000 and Cézanne made $6700. Duchamp sold four pieces for $972. It goes without saying that the ~1600 pieces exhibited at The Armory Show would fetch billions of dollars at auction now.

Kara Walker, AfterwordNov 20 2014

On the walk back from soccer practice the other day, my sharp-eyed seven-year-old son spotted something through the partially papered-up window of a Chelsea gallery. "Hey, Kara Walker!" he says.1 And sure enough:

Kara Walker Afterword

The gallery is Sikkema Jenkins on 22nd St and Walker's show, Afterword, starts there tomorrow and runs through mid-January. The show is an extension of A Subtlety, Walker's installation at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg over the summer. Several of the sugar statues and the left fist of the sugar sphinx from the Domino installation will be shown along with new video works and notes & sketches from the planning of A Subtlety. You can see some of the figures in the photo above (fashioned out of Domino Sugar, naturally) and I think that's probably the fist in the background on the right, wrapped in plastic.

  1. I know. So insufferable, right? But I like that Kara Walker is on a similar level to Harry Potter, Minecraft, and Star Wars in my kid's brain. That installation left an impression on him, and I'm glad we were able to see it together.

The DiatomistNov 06 2014

Klaus Kemp is one of the last great practitioners of arranging diatoms, tiny single celled algae. The art is only visible under microscopic magnification.

More information about Kemp and his images is available on his web site. (via waxy)

Miss Banksy, if you're nastyNov 05 2014

Everyone knows graffiti artist extraordinaire Banksy is a man. What this post presupposes is, maybe she's a woman?

But what Banksy Does New York makes plain is that the artist known as Banksy is someone with a background in the art world. That someone is working with a committee of people to execute works that range in scale from simple stencil graffiti to elaborate theatrical conceits. The documentary shows that Banksy has a different understanding of the street than the artists, street-writers, and art dealers who steal Banksy's shine by "spot-jocking" or straight-up pilfering her work-swagger-jackers who are invariably men in Banksy Does New York.

All of which serves as evidence against the flimsy theory that Banksy is a man.

Or maybe Banksy's like the Dread Pirate Roberts?

40,000 year-old cave paintings found in IndonesiaOct 08 2014

Sulawesi Cave Paintings

Paintings in a cave in Indonesia have been dated to 40,000 years ago, as old or older than any paintings found in Europe.

For decades, the only evidence of ancient cave art was in Spain and southern France. It led some to believe that the creative explosion that led to the art and science we know today began in Europe.

But the discovery of paintings of a similar age in Indonesia shatters this view, according to Prof Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London.

"It is a really important find; it enables us to get away from this Euro-centric view of a creative explosion that was special to Europe and did not develop in other parts of the world until much later," he said.

The discovery of 40,000-year-old cave paintings at opposite ends of the globe suggests that the ability to create representational art had its origins further back in time in Africa, before modern humans spread across the rest of the world.

"That's kind of my gut feeling," says Prof Stringer. "The basis for this art was there 60,000 years ago; it may even have been there in Africa before 60,000 years ago and it spread with modern humans".

Cubist watercolorsSep 30 2014

Man, I don't know what to call this style of painting (rectanglism?) but Adam Lister does these cool pseudo-bitmappy paintings of famous artworks and notable pop cultural icons.

Adam Lister PicassoAdam Lister VermeerAdam Lister R2d2Prints are available.

Olafur Eliasson, RiverbedAug 22 2014

New work from Olafur Eliasson: he installed a riverbed in the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.

Olafur Eliasson Riverbed

Ceramics mastersAug 20 2014

Take a closer look at how half-a-dozen ceramics masters practice their craft.

Statue selfiesAug 13 2014

People are taking photos of statues that cleverly make it look as though the statues are taking selfies.

Statue Selfies

There's a group on Reddit but most of the photos really aren't that good. There are more examples on Instagram, including this one and this one from June that predate the activity on Reddit. But the earliest instances I found of statue selfies were this Instagram photo from The Art Institute of Chicago and this tweet featuring the Statue of Liberty, both from December 2013.

Statue Selfies Begin

(via @ThatAmelia)

Update: See also Museum of Selfies.

Museum Selfies

Watch Charles Schulz draw Charlie BrownAug 13 2014

Watch Peanuts creator Charles Schulz draw Charlie Brown. It only takes him around 35 seconds.

(via @fchimero)

Flying car sculpturesAug 06 2014

Gerry JudahGerry JudahGerry Judah

These sculptures by Gerry Judah for the Goodwood Festival of Speed are amazing. Here's how they made the Mercedes arch for this year's festival. (via ministry of type)

For sale. Knockoff Jeff Koons. $500.Jul 24 2014

A seller on Chinese b2b site Alibaba is offering stainless steel sculptures of balloon animal dogs in the style of Jeff Koons. For as little as $500, you can get your own knock-off copy of Balloon Dog, which sold for $58 million last year.

Koons dog knockoff

Koons' dog was about 10 feet tall but the seller notes they can make them anywhere from 3 feet tall to almost 100 feet tall. Jiminy. I wonder what these things look like? I bet they aren't nearly as precise as the originals, but you never know. See also: Rex Sorgatz's Uber for Art Forgeries. (via prosthetic knowledge)

Walking CityJul 22 2014

Walking City is a slowly evolving walking video sculpture by Universal Everything. A walking tour of modern architecture, if you will.

File this one under mesmerizing. A deserving winner of the Golden Nica award at Ars Electronica. (via subtraction)

A do-over on childhood drawingsJul 17 2014

Artist Telmo Pieper took some drawings he did when he was four years old and digitally fleshed them out.

Telmo Pieper

See also making toys out of children's drawings and collaborating with a four-year-old. (via @santheo)

Vermeer and authenticityJul 10 2014

In the first two installments of a series about artistic authenticity, Rex Sorgatz writes about five different people's efforts to own a Vermeer and how you can get your very own masterpiece.

It's possible that Vermeer -- an artist who many consider the greatest painter of all time -- could paint with no more acuity than you or me. Vermeer may have been a simple technologist -- but a technologist who could recreate the world with scintillating photographic intensity, centuries before photography was invented, which might actually be a bigger deal than being a good painter.

I loved these articles. I wish I would have written them...I am fascinated with both Vermeer and art forgeries. Good stuff.

Ready to make your own Duchamp?Jul 07 2014

Sometime around 1918 in Buenos Aires, Marcel Duchamp designed a chess set:

Duchamp chess set

Sometime earlier this year, Scott Kildall and Brian Sera used archival photos of the hard-to-find set, turned them into 3D models of the chess pieces, and made a pattern for 3D printing your own set:

Duchamp chess set

The community at Thingaverse is already busy making interesting variations of Duchamp's set...look at this one:

Duchamp Chess 03

Something tells me Duchamp would have loved this whole thing.

Update: Welllllll, Duchamp may have loved this, but his estate definitely did not. Duchamp's estate sent Kildall and Sera a cease and desist letter, forcing them to remove the 3D models from Thingiverse. Which, the irony! So, Kildall and Sera, riffing on Duchamp's mustachioed Mona Lisa, have created a set of six 3D-printed chess pieces with mustaches modeled on the Duchamp set. Fantastic.

Duchamp Chess Mustache

From the pencil of Chuck JonesJun 17 2014

From the official Chuck Jones Tumblr, an early sketch of the Road Runner and Coyote by Jones.

Chuck Jones, Road Runner, Coyote

Also by Jones, how to draw Bugs Bunny:

(via @peeweeherman)

Cartography portraitsJun 10 2014

Ed FairburnEd Fairburn

From artist Ed Fairburn, a collection of portraits drawn on top of maps. Reminiscent of Matthew Cusick's map collages. (via @damienjoyce)

Leonardo da Vinci's resumeJun 02 2014

When he was around 32 years old, Leonardo da Vinci applied to the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, for a job. The duke was in need of military expertise and Leonardo's 10-point CV emphasized his military engineering skills:

3. Also, if one cannot, when besieging a terrain, proceed by bombardment either because of the height of the glacis or the strength of its situation and location, I have methods for destroying every fortress or other stranglehold unless it has been founded upon a rock or so forth.

4. I have also types of cannon, most convenient and easily portable, with which to hurl small stones almost like a hail-storm; and the smoke from the cannon will instil a great fear in the enemy on account of the grave damage and confusion.

And I love what is almost an aside at the end of the list:

Also I can execute sculpture in marble, bronze and clay. Likewise in painting, I can do everything possible as well as any other, whosoever he may be.

Oh yeah, P.S., by the way, not that it matters, I am also the greatest living artist in the world, no big deal. Yr pal, Leo. (via farnam street and the letters of note book)

Sullied eyesMay 23 2014

Gehard Demetz Cubitt

Clayton Cubitt took photographs of The Beautifully Frightful Wooden Children of Gehard Demetz, now on display at Jack Shainman Gallery in Chelsea. From the gallery's description of the project:

With impeccable craftsmanship, Demetz builds figures and reliefs of children and rural, often religious, architectural forms. While his subjects often take the forms of adolescent or very young children who are at the precipice of self-realization, their grave expressions and powerful stances suggest something much less innocent than their ages might suggest. Situated on plinths, these life-size works are elevated above their natural stature, allowing them to confront adults at eye level with a fierce or introspective gaze far beyond their years. Rather than being carved from a single large block of wood, these sculptures are built up from smaller rectangular units-mimicking classic building blocks-with gaps in their structures like pieces missing from their bodies or lost fragments of their being.

Met puts huge digital image trove onlineMay 19 2014

NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art has made a whopping 400,000 high-resolution digital images of its collection available for free download. You can browse the collection here.

In making the announcement, Mr. Campbell said: "Through this new, open-access policy, we join a growing number of museums that provide free access to images of art in the public domain. I am delighted that digital technology can open the doors to this trove of images from our encyclopedic collection."

The Metropolitan Museum's initiative-called Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC)-provides access to images of art in its collection that the Museum believes to be in the public domain and free of other known restrictions; these images are now available for scholarly use in any media.

For instance, here's a 12-megapixel image of Rembrandt's 1660 self-portrait...you can see quite a bit of detail:

Rembrandt detail

(thx, fiona)

Update: Wendy Macnaughton on why the high-resolution images released by the Met are such a big deal for art students and art history fans.

For someone who went to art school being able to do this is a revelation. I used to go to the museum with my sketchpad and copy the old masters. I'd get as close as I could to understand the brush strokes, colors, lines. The guards knew who to watch out for and would bark suddenly when we stuck our faces over the imaginary line.

As class assignments we were required to copy hundreds -- literally hundreds -- of the masters drawings and paintings. for those we mostly worked from images in books -- a picture the size of a wallet photo.

Which is one of the many reasons this new met resource is fucking phenomenal.

You can get so, so close -- far closer than one could in real life.

Mold landscapesApr 30 2014

Swedish artist Hans Jörgen Johansen makes photographs of mold landscapes, grown in his studio from flour and bread.

Hans Jorgen Johansen

Price tag artApr 25 2014

BL67

French artist BL67 makes his works by sticking price tags directly to the canvas. Each piece is priced according to the total of the price stickers stuck to it. Here's a close-up showing some detail:

BL67 detail

(via adam)

Cityscapes by Jeremy MannApr 24 2014

Man, I really like these paintings from Jeremy Mann's Cityscape series. Particularly the NYC street scenes, like this one in Hell's Kitchen:

Jeremy Mann

Mann's paintings seem to hold a lot of detail, even up close, but there are also broader strokes visible only from afar. Not sure if that's novel (unlikely) but I haven't seen it elsewhere. (via colossal)

A roiling ocean of packing peanutsApr 24 2014

Swiss artist Zimoun used a bunch of fans and packing peanuts to make it look like an angry foaming ocean inside this building:

Zimoun's piece is on display through July 11 at la Limonaia di Villa Saroli in Lugano, Switzerland. (via coudal)

Warhol's Amiga artApr 24 2014

Warhol Soup Amiga

In the 1980s, when personal computers with graphics capabilities were first introduced, Andy Warhol was an enthusiastic early adopter. In 1985, Commodore commissioned the artist to produce some art on their Amiga computer, but the work was never widely shown and was assumed lost. Then artist and retro computer nerd Cory Arcangel learned of Warhol's Amiga experiments from this video (and perhaps this article from a 1986 issue of Amigaworld) and set in motion the process of finding out if any of the computers or storage devices in The Andy Warhol Museum contained his Amiga art.

CMU Computer Club members determined that even reading the data from the diskettes entailed significant risk to the contents, and would require unusual tools and methodologies. By February 2013, in collaboration with collections manager Amber Morgan and other AWM personnel, the Club had completed a plan for handling the delicate disk media, and gathered at The Andy Warhol Museum to see if any data could be extracted. The Computer Club set up a cart of exotic gear, while a video crew from the Hillman Photography Initiative, under the direction of Kukielski, followed their progress.

It was not known in advance whether any of Warhol's imagery existed on the floppy disks-nearly all of which were system and application diskettes onto which, the team later discovered, Warhol had saved his own data. Reviewing the disks' directory listings, the team's initial excitement on seeing promising filenames like "campbells.pic" and "marilyn1.pic" quickly turned to dismay, when it emerged that the files were stored in a completely unknown file format, unrecognized by any utility. Soon afterwards, however, the Club's forensics experts had reverse-engineered the unfamiliar format, unveiling 28 never-before-seen digital images that were judged to be in Warhol's style by the AWM's experts. At least eleven of these images featured Warhol's signature.

Incredible.

Tim's VermeerApr 22 2014

It's been suggested that perhaps Johannes Vermeer painted his exacting masterpieces with the help of mirrors and lenses. Tim Jenison learned of these suggestions and started to study the problem.

He was in no rush. His R&D period lasted five years. He went to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. "Looking at their Vermeers," he says, "I had an epiphany" -- the first of several. "The photographic tone is what jumped out at me. Why was Vermeer so realistic? Because he got the values right," meaning the color values. "Vermeer got it right in ways that the eye couldn't see. It looked to me like Vermeer was painting in a way that was impossible. I jumped into studying art."

A recent documentary called Tim's Vermeer (directed by Penn & Teller's Teller) follows Jenison's quest to construct a contraption that allows someone to paint as Vermeer did. Here's a trailer:

Not sure you can find the movie in theaters anymore, but it should be out on DVD/download soon.

Beautifully intricate Romanian Easter eggsApr 20 2014

Romanian Eggs

The small village of Ciocanesti in Romania produces the most beautiful hand-painted Easter eggs I've ever seen. This video is a wonderful look at the process and tradition.

Here's how it works:

First, the (duck, goose, chicken, or even ostrich) egg is drained, through a tiny hole. Then, using a method akin to batik, it is dipped in dye and painted one color at a time, with the painter applying beeswax to those areas she wants to protect from the next round of dying. The painting implement, called a kishitze, is a stick with an iron tip. (Previously, egg-painters would have used thorns or pig bristles.)

And then the wax is melted and wiped off the egg, revealing the colors underneath. So cool. (via @colossal)

Old masters, new mediaApr 07 2014

In a five part series called "emoji-nation", Ukrainian Nastya Ptichek mixes the work of well-known painters with graphical elements of new media. In the second part of the series, the works of Edward Hopper are augmented with social media interface icons:

Nastya Ptichek

The first part finds emoji doppelgangers for works of fine art while the third part uses paintings as movie poster imagery for the likes of Kill Bill and Home Alone (paired with Munch's The Scream). For part four, Ptichek places modal dialogs over art works:

Nastya Ptichek

And part five plays around with several Google interface elements:

Nastya Ptichek

Love this kind of thing. Feels like I've seen something like it before though. Anyone recall?

Hand-drawn cityscapesApr 01 2014

Ben Sack makes these amazingly detailed maps of cities, all drawn by hand.

Ben Sack Map

And just so you can get a sense of how large these drawings are:

Ben Sack Map Progress

Here's a peek at his process:

Reminiscent of Stephen Wiltshire's work. And every time I see something like this, I think about when I went to the Met a few years ago and noticed the sketchbook of this guy working the membership desk. It was filled with beautifully intricate drawings of NYC-style city streets. I chatted with him about them briefly, but I wish I'd asked if he had put any of it online. Would have been neat to share his drawings with you. (via waxy)

The art of street typographyMar 31 2014

I don't know exactly what my expectations were of how lettering is painted on city streets, but this was not it. The level of precision and artistry is surprising.

Reminds me of this video of a hand-lettering master at work.

The Uncomfortable ProjectMar 27 2014

For her Uncomfortable Project, Katerina Kamprani redesigned useful objects; they're still technically functional but are a pain in the ass to use. Like this key:

Uncomfortable key

Or this awkward broom:

Uncomfortable broom

One man's art is another person's trashMar 17 2014

The very first of Marcel Duchamp's readymades -- ordinary manufactured objects that became art through a minimal artistic process -- was called Bottle Rack. This is a replica housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art:

Duchamp Bottle Rack

The original piece was purchased by Duchamp at BHV, a historic Parisian department store in the 4th arrondissement. It was sold as a rack for drying bottles. Duchamp intended to finish the piece by signing his name on it, but his sister had already thrown it out.

Legend has it that Duchamp's second readymade didn't fare so well either. "En prévision du bras cassé" ("In advance of the broken arm") was a snow shovel on which its title was painted. A replica of the piece was allegedly mistaken for an actual shovel at a show in Chicago and used to clear sidewalks. But perhaps Duchamp wasn't very much put out by the mistake because the snow-clearing artist inadvertently turned the shovel into what Duchamp called a "readymade réciproque" or "reciprocal readymade".

He said that this would be a work of art used as an everyday, readymade object, such as "using a Rembrandt as an ironing board." The readymade took an everyday mass-produced object and treated it as art. The assisted readymade took a mass-produced reproduction of a work of art and made it into a unique commentary on that work. The reciprocal readymade took a unique work of art and treated it like a mass-produced utilitarian object.

Ah, the circle of life.

Food mapsMar 14 2014

Henry Hargreaves and Caitlin Levin favor food as a medium for creating art. Their country maps made from native foods were cute at first glance, but in many cases the maps also reveal a link between a country's food and its culture that I'd never really thought about before. For instance, the maps of India and British Isles feel very representative of their respective cultures to me:

Food Map IndiaFood Map British Isles

Star Wars HighMar 06 2014

Denis Medri illustrates scenes from Star Wars as if Luke, Leia, Han, and the rest of the gang were teenagers in an 80s movie like Back to the Future, Karate Kid, or Breakfast Club.

Luke and Leia in high school

Great Scott, the Force is strong in these two.

Voxel animalsFeb 28 2014

Love these voxelated animal sculptures by New Zealand artist Ben Foster.

Ben Foster sculpture

Very aesthetically (but perhaps not conceptually) New Aesthetic. (via colossal)

The opening lines of famous novels, diagrammedFeb 28 2014

Pop Chart Lab has produced a print of grammatical diagrams of the opening lines of notable novels. Here's Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea:

Hemingway Sentence Diagram

There are also sentences from DFW, Plath, and Austen. Prints start at $29.

Classic Movies in Miniature StyleFeb 11 2014

For his Classic Movies in Miniature Style series, Murat Palta illustrated scenes from movies using traditional Ottoman motifs. Here's A Clockwork Orange and Kill Bill:

Murat Palta ClockworkMurat Palta Kill Bill

Great stuff. (via @pieratt)

The motorbike girl gangs of MoroccoFeb 10 2014

Hassan Hajjaj's photos of female motorbike enthusiasts from Morocco are fun.

Hassan Hajjaj Bike

On display at the Taymour Grahne Gallery in NYC through March 7.

Bird contrailsJan 21 2014

Artist Dennis Hlynsky films birds in flight and then uses After Effects to make their flight paths visible, like the contrails of high-flying jets.

That's only one of several videos...there are more at The Colossal and on Vimeo. Nice example of time merge media. (via colossal)

Classic paintings brought to life by subtle motionJan 16 2014

Rino Stefano Tagliafierro took more than 100 paintings (from the likes of Reubens, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Vermeer) and set them in motion to music to form a slow motion oil painted dreamland.

Lots of boobs, butts, penises, and even the occasional hint of sexual gesture in this one -- the motion sometimes fills in the blanks on all of those frolicking nymph-type paintings, making them seem to modern eyes even more sexist and outdated than the static paintings. There are some definite porny moments, is what I'm saying. So yeah, probably NSFW.

And for those looking to supplement their GIF collections, this page contains links to an animated GIF for each painting represented in the video. (via digg)

Portraits of Rikers Island inmatesJan 14 2014

Pencil portraits of young men and women incarcerated on Rikers Island by Ricardo Cortés.

Ricardo Cortes

Cortés wrote an essay about the portraits and his experience at Rikers.

The grossest irony is that increasing levels of imprisonment may exacerbate the very problems it is intended to solve. Imagine a drug-dealer, a check forger, a prostitute or a burglar who comes to Rikers. They're often leaving family behind, possibly as the primary breadwinner, breaking up a critical support network and causing measurable damage to spouses, siblings, parents and especially children. They're losing a job during their incarceration, thus falling further behind in bills, rent, and ultimately housing. They're being released after their stay with little treatment or prospects for a new job; their completed sentence may stain their record such that it's even harder to find employment. And they're back on the street with the same personal struggles of addiction, domestic abuse, health issues and difficulty in finding sustainable housing and legal employment. It's not hard to guess what happens next.

(via @jessicalustig)

Cartoonist homagesDec 20 2013

Cartoonist Mike Holmes occasionally draws himself and his cat in the style of other cartoonists. He calls them Mikenesses. Here's Holmes in the styles of Chris Ware, Aardman, and Berke Breathed:

Mike Holmes WareMike Holmes AardmanMike Holmes Breathed

(via @H_FJ)

The Moon's tiny art galleryDec 17 2013

There's art on the Moon, a small sculpture called Fallen Astronaut. Artist Paul van Hoeydonck made it. Commander David Scott of Apollo 15 placed it on the Moon in 1971. Instead of a triumph, the whole thing fell into scandal and was forgotten.

In reality, van Hoeydonck's lunar sculpture, called Fallen Astronaut, inspired not celebration but scandal. Within three years, Waddell's gallery had gone bankrupt. Scott was hounded by a congressional investigation and left NASA on shaky terms. Van Hoeydonck, accused of profiteering from the public space program, retreated to a modest career in his native Belgium. Now both in their 80s, Scott and van Hoeydonck still see themselves unfairly maligned in blogs and Wikipedia pages-to the extent that Fallen Astronaut is remembered at all.

And yet, the spirit of Fallen Astronaut is more relevant today than ever. Google is promoting a $30 million prize for private adventurers to send robots to the moon in the next few years; companies such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are creating a new for-profit infrastructure of human spaceflight; and David Scott is grooming Brown University undergrads to become the next generation of cosmic adventurers.

Governments come and go, public sentiment waxes and wanes, but the dream of reaching to the stars lives on. Fallen Astronaut does, too, hanging eternally 238,000 miles above our heads. Here, for the first time, we tell the full, tangled tale behind one of the smallest yet most extraordinary achievements of the Space Age.

What goes on inside people's heads?Dec 13 2013

Milos Rajkovic, aka Sholim, creates Terry Gilliam-esque cutout animations of people's heads.

The animated GIF versions are available on Tumblr.

Splatter paintings of superheroesDec 12 2013

From Kacper Kiec, digital splatter images of superheroes.

Kiec HulkKiec Capt America

Lego Mona LisaDec 05 2013

This Lego Mona Lisa is amazing:

Lego Mona Lisa

Crazy recognizable even with only ~400 pixels. The Girl With the Pearl Earring is pretty good too. Of course, nothing beats Lego Stephen Hawking. (via mlkshk)

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