Table of Contents: Art


Some Swedish Type

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So, recently I was over in Sweden visiting IKEA HQ (more on that, later-ish…) IKEA is located in Älmhult, a small picture postcard of a town. Quaint cobblestone square anchored by statue of Carl Linnaeus (you remember Linnaean taxonomy, yes? — three kingdoms, divided into classes, orders, families, genera, and species, eighth grade or so, feathered hair, Toughskins jeans, 3/4 black sleeved Cars T-shirt…sorry, pardon my corduroy reverie…)

Anyway, I’m wandering around and happen upon a gas station / burger & ice cream hut / thrift store (!) where, between fan belts, spark plugs, a row of swedish potboilers, needlepoint, and axel grease, I spot these 10″ records in a crate.

What a score! Each one of these Swedish type compositions is gorgeous — and each anchored by a contrastingly dense, filagreed record label. Häftigt!

Is this thing on?

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Transmissions sputter back to life… onto a fifth year of broadcasting. The signal has faded over the past year, gales of advertising mostly, then our radio tower plain and blew up (by which of course I mean a virulent SQL database corruption keelhauled my rickety, jury rigged WordPress build.) So, then, is this thing on? Are we going?

ViewOfDelft

Comrades!

I painted this figure study over a few days this summer. I walked by it one night, a month or so ago, and as I lingered for a minute and thought — that’s right — View of Delft.

Yes, as in Vermeer’s view of Delft, entitled View of Delft.

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A blasphemous chuckle, right, but gumdaggit if this sketch and title aren’t now bonded like noggin epoxy — the phrase passing over my little ditty of a painting like a sky-blotting arial banner, featherweight but indelible.

So, as I said the blogs been down for a while, swept under crosscurrents and swells of obligations, dissolutions and advertising and I’m casting about for an inaugural post and all I can think of is View of Delft.

Here’s why. Cause this blog is, if it is anything, even in this particularly unhinged association, about searching for our own little private views of Delft — little lagoons, obsessively surveyed, rendered, cleared out out by hand.

Lagoons. Because in the clotted coastline of the blogosphere, it’s what this is, really. A tiny lagoon, home to beatniks, old salts, venerable preps, society matrons, homespun cuties, movie stars and scientists… Gilligan’s wake. It’s a beachhead from which we can re-embark on our quest to find and stake out other unlikely harbors. A stretch of landscape we can fix in our minds and take a draught or a puff and contemplate, then set off satisfied.

And when others arrive, like you dear reader, perhaps you’ll survey it appreciatively, like a scoutmaster, and think “I would’ve given you a commendable. That was one of the best pitched camp sites I’ve ever seen, honestly.”

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Or something. Are we going? Is this thing on? Is this really broadcasting if there is no one there to receive? We’ll see. More soon.

Some credits: All the weird snippets about broken and sputtering radio transmissions are taken from Shellac’s epic angular shanty “The End of Radio,” which will serve as this latest sally’s theme song. The Herculean rebuild of this leaky beached blog was coded by the gifted and rad Marcello De Feo. Check his kung-fu. It is ace. The charming illustration of Moonrise Kingdom is by Adrian Tomine.

Dreaming a Beautiful

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Master illustrator Frank Frazetta’s stationary design for addlepatted sun children Bo and John Derek’s movie production company, Svengali. I was going to leave the commentary at that, but I was riding my bike this afternoon, and the Walkman offered up Sheena, by Trader Horne, a long forgotten British psych-folk outfit. Hardly a stanza had passed when I realized the song was a tone poem to the idea of Bo Derek. I share it here, below, for your pleasure:

Sheena, Trader Horn:

 

Bright Young Things

From 1915 till about 1940 or so, the Brinkley Girl cut a feverish swath through the cultural imagination. As drawn by illustrator Nell Brinkley, she was like the Gibson Girl on an absinthe bender – exuberant line, riots of splashy color, and buckets of joie de vivre. Girls obsessed over her adventures, hairstyles and fashion shifted in her wake, and she was feted in songs, films and theater.

Nell Brinkley’s specialty was the episodic themed series. Golden Eyes and Her Hero followed our heroine’s exploits and derring-do during World War One. Betty and Billy and Their Love Through the Ages, my personal favorite, featured a besotted glamorous couple in various romantic historical vignettes – intrigue in Southern plantation society, among Medieval troubadours, Phoenician swashbucklers, etc… The format begins to open up in the 20’s with sophisticated frothy flapper larks like the Fortunes of Flossie.

Fantagraphics Book’s wonderful new survey, The Brinkley Girls, collects these series and more, along with a fascinating introduction by the book’s editor, Trina Robbins. Aces.

Maurice Prendergast

So I finally went to visit the Barnes Collection at its new home on the Philadelphia parkway. My affinity for it has always been somewhat obligatory — I know why this art matters, but have appreciated it mostly as a bridge between older traditions I adore to modern currents I admire. As before, I find myself deaf to Matisse’s signals, and still feel an abject revulsion to Renoir — the smeary, overripe nudes struck me, this time around, like they were painted with bacon fat. Feh.

Revelatory though, were the few paintings tucked into various clumps throughout the collection by Maurice Prendergast. Each was a bravura demonstration of seeing, buy vicodin pain killers directly interpreted in painting. They were definitive and re-invigorating examples of the idea of impressionism as I understand it, painting animated by an exquisite receptivity of what it “felt like” to visually drink in a scene, its atmosphere, its flickering and transitory nature.

Later on, as I delved deeper into his work, scene after scene, I stopped thinking of them in terms of technique or theory but in terms of a kind of magic. He seemed to capture on paper an endless loop of the living essence of a moment, as if he could pin a a butterfly without stilling its movement or shimmer.

 

TRUE ADVENTURES IN BETTER HOMES

Well then — aren’t these just amazing, these collages by Nadine Boughton. Sometimes rather than launching into an extended appreciation you just want to say Fucking bravo! Seriously, bravo! …and anyway, my fellow spelunker Hannah L.’s comment in Lenscratch can scarcely be improved buy vicodin from uk upon — This is the best idea ever. Extremes that actually complement each other, ultimately reconciling with the self…. wow. Well said sister. Credit for uncovering this ace work lies with Elektra Luxx. Do pay her a visit.

 

The Zonk of Michael English

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From the 60’s to the early 80’s Michael English seemed to be directly wired into each decades most adolescent, swinging, aesthetic sensibility. He began as a founding partner of Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, a design collective that specialized in gig posters and scene graphics that helped define 60’s English psychedelia (I vastly prefer this work to it’s American counterpart – it’s zonk is far sexier and literally more cosmic)

On the cusp of the 70’s an airbrush and rainbow sensibility begins to frost the work. Redolent of pinball backglass art, van conversion detailing, and late era Vargas pinups, it veers from garishly exuberant to exuberantly garish. The veneration of chrome and reflectivity carry through into the 80’s as he settled into a glossy pop-realist mode similair to the work of James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselmann. The biggest shortcoming of this period is the relentlessly juvenile subject matter – Candy bars, soda cans, glass sundae dishes predominate. The renderings however, are an exquisite case study in the late 70’s/early 80’s obsession with glossy enameled sheens and reflections.

Regardless of the era, from psych sirens and candy colored UFO’s, to chrome balls and lipgloss swirls English’s career is a overlooked layercake of guilty pleasures. (The retrospective 3D Eye, is out of print but easily found online)

Hmm… That’s quite a drop.

The first page of the legendary comic Watchmen sold last weekend at auction for $33,460. Aptly described as the “Call me Ishmael” of comics, it’s one of the icons of the genre. All of the formal inventiveness that author Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons established in their 12 issue 1986 masterpiece is prefigured here. (Fascinating to see it stark black and white – the page also came with an ace bonus, an annotated color guide. Gander here, and here at larger images) Notice especially the convergences between Rorschach’s psycho-noir-messiah narration and the visuals in each panel. This tight choreography between seemingly unrelated visual and verbal elements is one the the primary sources of the book’s tremendous impact. It adds a crucial layer to the storytelling, one uniquely rooted in the format of comic books – the ability to directly interweave elements from one part of the story into another and thereby elicit new interpretations, resonances, and meanings. Watchmen established Moore as a virtuoso of this technique. So, so good…

Great story behind the provenance of the comic page itself. It was bought in 1987, in a comic bookshop in Covent Garden one morning by a bleary-eyed, hungover Stephen “Krusher” Joule for $180. Krusher was an artist and designer who worked with Motorhead, Uriah Heep, Blondie, Sex Pistols, Hawkwind, and Japan. He designed the covers for Iron Maiden’s Live After Death and Ozzy’s Diary of a Madman. In 1982 he became the art director for the legendary British heavy metal magazine Kerrang! In short, he’s exactly the kind of wonderful freak who deserves to score the first page of the Watchmen one hungover morning for a hundred and eighty bucks.

Quandry

My favorite Doctor Seuss art by a country mile… It’s a QUANDRY, who lives on a shelf, in a hole in the ocean alone by himself. And he worries from dawn’s early light. And he worries, buy vicodin just worries, far into the night. He stands there and worries. He simply can’t stop… Is his top side his bottom? Or bottom side top? (Seuss’ September 26th, 1991,New York Times obituary, here)

Robert Longo’s Place

Shots taken by Todd Selby of Robert Longo in his studio. For me it’s the smudgy texture of everything surrounding his deep, velvety drawings. Especially evocative are the shots of his supplies – more like mechanics gear, overlaid with an archipelago of black smears. Everything here suggests a great physicality behind the smooth rich sheen and stark contrast of his finished work. Longo has compared his drawing style to sculpture, saying “when I draw with graphite I smudge it with my fingers, move it around physically, it’s like clay. Painting is painting on the surface, covering up, where drawing is putting the picture into the paper like a photograph.”

It’s a blogament to their power that they retain a so much of this can you buy vicodin legally in canada muscularity, materiality, and weight when hung in the hermetic space of a gallery. However, they seem especially at home in the studio. It’s like seeing a big ship being assembled in dry-dock from far overhead, and seeing the complex mechanics behind something that will later glide with such heavy grace on the water.

(Below for your pleasure, are a few selections from his iconic 80’s series Men in the Cities. They have, I think, aged particularly well, and seem, now, emblematic of their era rather than beholden to it. Longo also maintains an excellent, comprehensive website with generous galleries spanning his entire career. Also, Selby’s ongoing, long running series of arty glitterati in their homes is amazing and worth checking out frequently)

Terraform

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Holy cow… these landscape photographs by Kim Keever seem to indicate he’s in possession of the Genesis Device, the terraforming rocket fired off in Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. They’re like Hudson River School paintings submerged in a lava lamp… and, they’re all composed in 200 gallon fishtanks, thusly, below. Aces. More on Keever here, and here.

 

 

A Wyeth Echo

This is a weird one, or at least it seems so at the moment. I was checking back in on the work of German photographer Michael Magin the other day. What I love about Magin, who works under the rubric Zeitautomatk, is his gift for framing natural and architectural forms in stark graphic compositions. Color, contrast, negative space, and abstraction are tools that, in his best work, reveal new things about the essential topography of archetypical forms – the female nude, nature, atmospheric vistas, and architectural structures.

In any case, this time, as I looked at his work, certain photos seemed to echo something familiar. After a bit of noggin racking I had it – Andrew Wyeth, specifically, his paintings and studies of his neighbor, German-born Helga Testorf.

Flipping through a Wyeth survey, I found convergence after convergence, echo after echo of poses, gestures, textures, moods, compositions. The weird thing? It’s not exactly clear that these are homages by Magin. The photos are amidst a series with a very different aesthetic agenda, ordered primarily by color tone. The ones that most strongly evoke Wyeth occur randomly in the series. But still, it seems so deliberate. She was German, he’s German… Then there’s the tree… a near twin of the tree from Wyeth’s Four Seasons portfolio.

That what is so intriguing to me, not knowing what’s going on here. I’ve thought about emailing Magin directly. I may, but not just yet. Not knowing keeps this convergence alive, the echos never settling or fading, just pinging back and forth, kept in play by uncertainty.

 

Unseen, Unpublished: Vivian Maier

A little late to the Vivian Maier party, which is fitting, considering Maier never made it to her party either – in fact, knowing her, she probably wouldn’t have gone if she could… Anyhoo – what’s the fuss? It’s that Maier’s photography was discovered in a thrift auction cache a couple of years ago, some 100,000 shots, most not even processed. What scenes! Masterful, poignant and supremely artful street photography, moments equal to and anticipating Eggleston, Winograd, etc… just moldering away in a storage locker on the South Side of Chicago.

Came across her the other day in Slate’s new photo blog, Behold. Besides the sheer impact of the photos, it’s also a nourishing lesson and reminder to anyone who works at making art – that while the desire to show, share and be recognized is a powerful one, the vast share of the satisfaction comes from the privilege of doing.

More of her work here, here, biographical info here, and a great article here. Enjoy.

Sculptures by Christyl Boger

[Reposting on the occasion of a recent visit back to the Clay Studio. On my way out I caught sight of a fundraising postcard with an image of Boger’s Girl with Dolphin. Even in reproduction, partially obscured by type, the piece still captivated. Here again, then…]

Swan Float, a sculpture by Christyl Boger was a highlight of a recent show at Philadelphia’s Clay Studio filled with strong work: Of This Century: Residents, Fellows and Select Guest Artists. While not pictured, it was of a piece with the work above – a classically elegant, expressive nude entwined with an inflatable beach toy. I was bowled over by its formal beauty, impressed with the perfection of its craft, and amused by its absurdity. The world is a richer place for art that can, without being glazed in snark, simultaneously recall both Bernini and Jeff Koons.

Girl with Dolphin, 2007, earthenware, glaze
BroodXX, 2005, earthenware, glaze
Float, 2006, earthenware, glaze

http://www.chrisbogerart.com