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This is a discussion on Fine Arts News within the Painting forums, part of the Fine Art category; The Angolan exhibit consists of tall stacks of large photographic posters by artist Edson Chagas. The country, which is exhibiting ...

      
   
  1. #11
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    Art In Context: Venice Biennale Looks Past Pop Culture



    The Angolan exhibit consists of tall stacks of large photographic posters by artist Edson Chagas. The country, which is exhibiting at Venice for the first time, won the Golden Lion award for best national pavilion.

    Courtesy of Giovanna Tissi
    The Angolan exhibit consists of tall stacks of large photographic posters by artist Edson Chagas. The country, which is exhibiting at Venice for the first time, won the Golden Lion award for best national pavilion.

    Every two years for over a century, lovers of contemporary art convene in Venice for the oldest and largest non-commercial art exhibition in the world.

    The Venice Biennale has none of the glitz and conspicuous consumption of art auctions in London and New York. Instead, it's a dizzying and eclectic array of sights by both celebrity artists and total unknowns.

    This year's works are not just paintings, sculptures and installations, but also performances, videos and music.

    The French Pavilion intriguingly combines the last two: two films of two different pianists playing Maurice Ravel's Concerto in D for the left hand.

    Art And The Subconscious

    The Biennale is divided into two sections – 88 national pavilions, each with its own curator, and a central exhibition that includes more than 150 artists, chosen by the Biennale's artistic director, Massimiliano Gioni.

    The theme is an imaginary museum that houses all worldly knowledge. Gioni wants to focus on how art reveals the subconscious in a society permeated by pop culture.

    "The encyclopedic palace is about the desire to know and understand everything, a desire that recurs throughout history of art," he says. "What I'm asking is, how do we give form to our interior images when we're more and more besieged by artificial and external images?"

    One of the most intriguing works is by British-born Tino Sehgal — a mysterious and ever-changing live performance that won the Best Artist Prize. On a recent day, the performers are a young woman lying on the ground responding with movements and gestures to a young man improvising his own tune.
    Other exhibits can be found scattered across the city, in palazzos and even churches.

    Contrasting Exhibits

    This year's Golden Lion award for best national pavilion went to Angola; the African country, long ravaged by war, is exhibiting here for the first time. Located in a palazzo rarely open to the public, the exhibit consists of tall stacks of large photographic posters, which visitors can take with them, by artist Edson Chagas.

    The contrast inside the palazzo is striking — paintings by Botticelli and Piero della Francesca on the wall juxtaposed with Chagas' stylized photographs of found objects in the streets of the Angolan capital, Luanda.

    The apparent serenity of the photos disturbs art critic Eurydice Trichon. She says she wants something that reflects nearly three decades of war, "something more expressive, something that accuse[s] ... humanity."

    Giovanna Tissi, a spokeswoman for the pavilion, responds that African artists have had enough of war.
    "They are really fed up with European culture that want[s] the African still talk and ... blood," she says. "We want them showing the blood, but they don't want [to]."

    Another war-torn country being showcased for the first time is Iraq. The pavilion's British curator traveled all over the country to find the artists and bring their works here.

    The most haunting is "Saddam is here," a series of photographs that captures ordinary people – a dentist, butcher, shepherd and a woman sitting on a couch — each holding a mask of the former Iraqi dictator over their face. Artist-photographer Jamal Penjweny says Saddam is still like a godfather in Iraq.



    American artist Lawrence Carroll's work was commissioned by the Vatican.



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    Ruth Asawa Found Her Artistic Calling In An Internment Camp

    Melissa Block talks to Paul Lanier, the son of artist Ruth Asawa, who died in her San Francisco home on Monday at the age of 87. She's known for many famous fountains in San Francisco and her intricate, abstract wire sculptures, which are in the collections of many major museums.


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    Painter Created Million-Dollar Forgeries In Queens Garage, Officials Say

    An anonymous painter in New York City created dozens of art forgeries, which sold for more than $80 million, according to prosecutors. The man isn't facing charges — but those who helped sell his Abstract Expressionist canvases as the work of artists such as Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell are in trouble.

    For NPR's Newscast unit, Joel Rose reports:
    "Prosecutors believe that one man created 63 expert forgeries at his garage studio in Queens over the course of 15 years. He was paid only a few thousand dollars each. But buyers at two Manhattan galleries paid millions for canvasses they thought were painted by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning, among others.
    "The man is not charged with a crime. Prosecutors have not released his name."
    But, Joel says, officials have charged Long Island art dealer Glafira Rosales — with wire fraud and money laundering. She has pleaded not guilty to those charges. As for the gallery, he reports:
    "Knoedler and Company, the Upper East Side gallery that sold 40 of the counterfeit paintings, closed abruptly in 2011. Knoedler officials insist they thought the paintings were real."
    According to The Art Newspaper, a federal indictment states that Rosales' boyfriend, who is alleged to be a co-conspirator in the case, had first discovered the unknown artist selling his work on the sidewalk in Manhattan.

    Jack Flam, an expert in the art of Robert Motherwell who had been among the first to identify some of the works as frauds, spoke to The New York Times.
    "It's impressive," Flam says. "Whoever did these paintings was very well-informed of the practices of the artists."

    Saying that the works had been crafted to imitate how the legendary painters handled their frames and canvases, Flam adds that "the way we look at reality is highly influenced by the context it's presented to us."

    In this case, the art forgeries were presented in the Knoedler gallery, which was more than 165 years old when it closed under a cloud of anger and suspicion.
    The scandal, and the gallery's closing, was the subject of a feature in Vanity Fair last year, which reported that the art dealer, Rosales, claimed to be funneling prized works of art from an anonymous collector called "Mr. X Jr."


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    'New' Van Gogh Painting Identified; Was In A Norwegian Attic



    Alex Ruger, director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, at the unveiling Monday of Vincent Van Gogh's Sunset at Montmajour.

    Olaf Kraak /AFP/Getty Images
    Alex Ruger, director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, at the unveiling Monday of Vincent Van Gogh's Sunset at Montmajour.
    Olaf Kraak /AFP/Getty Images

    A painting that had earlier been thought to be a fake and had been stored for decades in the attic of a Norwegian home has now been identified as a long-lost work by Vincent Van Gogh.
    Sunset at Montmajour has been authenticated thanks to "extensive research into [its] style, technique, paint, canvas, the depiction, Van Gogh's letters and the provenance," Van Gogh Museum Director Axel Ruger says in a statement posted Monday by the Amsterdam museum.
    The painting, writes The Associated Press, "depicts a dry landscape of oak trees, bushes and sky, painted with Van Gogh's familiar thick brush strokes. ... Ruger said the museum had itself rejected the painting's authenticity once in the 1990s, in part because it was not signed by the artist."
    Among the reasons why researchers now say it's a real Van Gogh, the AP adds, is that "it can be dated to the exact day it was painted because Vincent described it in a letter to his brother, Theo, and said he painted it the previous day — July 4, 1888."
    What's more, says The New York Times:
    "It was also painted on the same type of canvas, with the same type of underpainting he used for at least one other painting, The Rocks (owned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston) of the same area at the same time, according to the museum. The work was also listed as part of Theo van Gogh's collection in 1890, and was sold in 1901."
    The Times adds that:
    "Until 1901, it was in the family collection owned by Vincent's brother, Theo, said Marije Vellekoop, head of collections, research and presentation for the museum. It was exhibited in Paris and sold to a Paris art dealer, who then sold it to a Norwegian collector in 1908, she said. Shortly after that, Ms. Vellekoop added, 'it was declared a fake, or not an original' and the Norwegian collector banished it to his attic, where it stayed until the current owners purchased it from him. Ms. Vellekoop declined to give any more information about the date of purchase or the owners."
    The setting for Sunset at Montmajour is near Arles, France, where Van Gogh was living in 1888.
    Born in 1853 in Zundert, the Netherlands, Van Gogh, as the museum reminds visitors to its website, "was only active as an artist for a total of 10 years, from 1880 to his death in 1890." But in that period, "he produced more than 840 paintings and 1,000 drawings."

    His masterpieces include The Sunflowers, The Yellow House and The Bedroom. As the AP says, "Van Gogh paintings are among the most valuable in the world, selling for tens of millions of dollars on the rare occasions one is sold at an auction."

    Sunset at Montmajour
    will be on display to the public at the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam, starting Sept. 24.


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    Art Dealer Pleads Guilty To Selling Fraudulent Paintings

    Glafira Rosales sold work she claimed was painted by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning to two Manhattan galleries. Host Scott Simon talks to New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz about the paintings, which were actually done by a Chinese artist living in Queens.


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    Nigerian Bottle Cap Sculptor Taps Museum Staff's Inner Artists


    • Earth's Skin by El Anatsui, 2007.

      Joe Levack/Courtesy of artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, and the Akron Art Museum

    • Gravity and Grace by El Anatsui, 2010.


      El Anatsui's Red Block (2010) explores the monumentality of a single color, suggestive of paintings by Mark Rothko or Gerhard Richter.


      Amemo (Mast of Humankind) by El Anatsui, 2010.

    • Amemo (Mast of Humankind) detail.

    Nigerian sculptor El Anatsui knows too well that when most people think of African art, they think of masks, something he would never ask his students to make.
    "We don't even make masks in schools," he says.
    Anatsui taught art for nearly 30 years in a remote Nigerian village before getting his first big break when his sculpture was shown at the 1990 Venice Biennale. His works consist of giant sheets of colorful metal that are so big he often doesn't even assemble them himself. Twelve of them are touring the U.S. through August 2014.

    'Waking Up' Everyone's Inner Artist


    According to Anatsui, contemporary African art has the same purpose as contemporary art everywhere — to make viewers look and think.

    "In Africa, we do art for contemplation only," he says. "There is music that you don't dance to; you listen to it. There are people who appreciate the art for its own sake."
    Still, he confesses to his own prejudice at the start of his career when it came to what sculpture could be made of.

    "My stereotype of Western art was bronze or marble," he says. "It was later on that [I was] introduced to some African sculptures that used things like wood, feathers, leather and fabric."
    In his own art, Anatsui uses hundreds of thousands of discarded whiskey, gin and rum bottle screw-tops that he finds, too easily, in mounds of detritus near his village. He sees rampant consumerism and waste in them, but he also says liquor is a legacy of colonialism and slavery: "It came with the Europeans when they first came to Africa to trade, initially, for other goods like gold. But eventually it was traded for people as well."

    That dark story may not be obvious when you look at his huge, multi-colored, highly-textured, shimmering sheets. They are assembled by assistants who crush, crumple, twist and flatten the tiny bits of metal and thread them together. The artist then gives museum staff license to configure the work by bending, twisting, draping and shaping the flat sheets into forms when they hang the sculptures.

    Ellen Rudolph curated the Anatsui show that ran at the Akron Art Museum in Ohio last year. She says she found the responsibility of deciding what the 12 sculptures should look like overwhelming at first: "How am I going to just have some kind of vision for what form it should take? How can I impose that on someone else's art? And then once we got the work here and unfolded it on the floor — because it arrives folded up like a blanket — we had to play with it and get a sense of how it moves and how it lays. And that's when we started to really understand that we could form and sculpt the work and it was incredibly exciting. It's an amazing gift that El gives the people who work on his installations."



    Anatsui's Gli (2010) was inspired by the artist's visit to three cities – Berlin, Jerusalem and Notse, Togo — whose histories have been shaped by walls. In the Ewe language, which is spoken in Togo, "gli" can mean "wall," "disrupt" or "story."

    Andrew McAllister/Courtesy the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, and the Akron Art Museum
    Anatsui's Gli (2010) was inspired by the artist's visit to three cities – Berlin, Jerusalem and Notse, Togo — whose histories have been shaped by walls. In the Ewe language, which is spoken in Togo, "gli" can mean "wall," "disrupt" or "story."
    Andrew McAllister/Courtesy the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, and the Akron Art Museum

    One of those people was Joe Walton, the museum's chief preparator. He says one work, called Gli, posed a particular challenge: It came in four giant sections.

    "Three of those pieces actually hang from the ceiling," he says. "That's all custom-fabricated hanging hardware to support the piece ... so that it's suspended in the space. Some of the pieces we're dealing with are 12 feet high by 36 feet long, so there's special pulley-system rigging hardware that we're going to use to get them up on the wall safely. But this is probably one of the funnest installs we've had to work on."

    The artist also gets something out of the collaboration. He says, "I think that the thing that I enjoy about giving people tasks to do with these works is that you go and see that they have even better ideas than you yourself, you know, and that's very uplifting."

    Anatsui says he feels he also owes it to those who assemble, install and see his work to help awaken their creativity. "Every one of us has an artist in us," he says. "Really, some may be asleep and some are fully awake, you know. So I think I have a kind of commitment to waking up some people in whom it is asleep. Teaching — my work is still teaching."

    Part Of The Larger, Contemporary Art Dialogue


    According to Ellen Rudolph, the Akron Art Museum was the first U.S. institution of its kind to buy an Anatsui work.

    "We purchased it at a time when many other museums were still looking at this artist as an African artist whose work belonged in the context of African collections," she says. "And we were looking at his work as something to add to the larger, contemporary art dialogue."

    Most of the metal sculptures and tapestries in the Anatsui exhibition have never before been seen in the U.S., and they'll be seen differently in each city the tour takes them to.
    The sculptures goon display at the Des Moines Arts Center in October.


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    'Love' Is The Real Essence Of MacArthur Genius' Art

    Visual artist Carrie Mae Weems has been celebrated for her art and activism for decades, and now she can add a MacArthur 'Genius' Grant to her collection. In a 'Wisdom Watch' conversation with host Michel Martin, Weems discusses life, love and turning sixty.


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    Van Gogh Teaches Us How To Keep Life Interesting


    Vincent van Gogh, The Road Menders, 1889

    Walter Larrimore/Courtesy of The Phillips Collection
    Vincent van Gogh, The Road Menders, 1889
    Walter Larrimore/Courtesy of The Phillips Collection

    The two paintings are unmistakably by Vincent Van Gogh. Both show a street scene in the south of France, dominated by sturdy trees with limbs thrust upwards. Both show the same trees and the same houses and pedestrians — almost.

    The Road Menders and The Large Plane Trees (Road Menders at Saint-Remy) were painted by Van Gogh in May 1889. They're so alike that they are sometimes called "copies." In fact, they're different: strikingly different in color, subtly different in detail.

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    For MacArthur 'Genius,' 'Love' Is The Essence Of Her Art


    • Hide caption Untitled (Man in Mirror) from The Kitchen Table Series, 1990


      Carrie Mae Weems

    • Hide caption Untitled (Man Smoking/Malcolm X) from The Kitchen Table Series, 1990


      Carrie Mae Weems

    • Hide caption A Broad and Expansive Sky — Ancient Rome From Roaming, 2006


      Carrie Mae Weems

    • Hide caption Roaming — When and Where I Enter, 2006

    Photographer and video artist Carrie Mae Weems was having a tough day at the studio last month when she learned that she had been named a MacArthur fellow.

    "My assistants weren't doing some things they were supposed to be doing. And so I'm screaming at them, and just in the middle of my rant the phone rang," she tells NPR's Michel Martin. "I sunk into my chair, put my head down on my desk, and cried and laughed for about five minutes."

    Weems says a MacArthur "genius" grant — and the $625,000 no-strings-attached prize that comes with it — was the last thing she thought would happen to her.

    "I'm sort of a knucklehead, and not particularly smart," she says. "I'm very humbled because it takes a lot of people to agree that somebody deserves something."

    Carrie Mae Weems, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow.

    John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
    Carrie Mae Weems, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow.
    John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

    For decades, Weems has been tackling issues of race, power and gender through her art. But she says her work is really about love.
    "Love, I think, is that element in the universe — that illumination that allows us to see ourselves more clearly," she explains. "It's the real essence of the work, and it comes out in these other forms. ... But these are all things that really keep us apart, right? So we focus on the thing that keeps us apart, not necessarily the thing that brings us together."


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    3-D Printing A Masterwork For Your Living Room



    Based on hundreds of photos, Cosmo Wenman generated this 3-D model of the Ares Borghese from the Basel Sculpture Hall. Wenman publishes the scans online, so that anyone can use them to 3-D print a replica of the masterpiece.

    Based on hundreds of photos, Cosmo Wenman generated this 3-D model of the Ares Borghese from the Basel Sculpture Hall. Wenman publishes the scans online, so that anyone can use them to 3-D print a replica of the masterpiece.

    You may never be able to get to Italy to see Michelangelo's David — but advances in 3-D printing technology are making it possible for you to create an almost perfect replica.

    It's an idea that Cosmo Wenman is hoping will catch on. He's pushing the edges of how 3-D printing can be used to make classic works accessible.

    I followed Wenman on an excursion the Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University. These days, a lot of museums let people take photos of art, and Wenman takes a lot of them.

    "It gets a little exhausting and monotonous after the 500th photo," he says.
    The Cantor has a large collection of Rodin's and Wenman is photographing "Bellona," a bronze bust of the Roman goddess of war.

    Wenman needs a lot of photos because he wants to create what's called a 3-D scan, and that requires getting all the detail. Bellona has an engraved helmet with flaps that fall along the back of her neck like a horse's mane. She looks down her shoulder with an intense gaze, her taught neck muscles protruding.

    Wenman's been making 3-D replicas of classic sculptures from museum collections around the world — including the Louvre, the British Museum and the Getty Villa.

    "I'm trying to demonstrate what the regular consumer can do with consumer-grade photography and consumer-grade software and even consumer-grade 3-D printers to recreate artwork," he says.

    After Wenman takes all the photos he needs, he will then process them with some free software from Autodesk and a $2,200 MakerBot 3-D printer. The software is able to bring together all of his photos and recreate an object with three dimensions.

    Wenman recently started a partnership with Autodesk. After his visit to the Cantor he heads over to the company's office in San Francisco to do some 3-D printing. He stands by the printer and explains how it works.
    "It's basically a hot glue gun attached to a printing armature," he says. "Instead of a printer just going back and forth spraying ink, this goes back and up and down."

    The hot glue he's talking about is a type of biodegradable plastic that's good for printing large things — the printer builds up the object with the plastic, layer by layer, based on the software instructions. The result is an object that has all the contours, details and proportions of the sculpture he photographed.
    As we wait for the Rodin to print, he shows me some small replicas he's made of a classic Greek torso from the Louvre with lots of rippling muscles. Part of Wenman's process also includes putting patinas on the sculpture to make it look like the original.

    "And to my eye, this is worthy of display in the home," he says.

    Wenman puts his art scans on the MakerBot-run website Thingiverse, so that other people can print them out at home or wherever there is a 3-D printer. Wenman sees all kinds of uses for his scans of classical works.
    "Schools could use these for their instruction," he says. "They could make cheap reproductions in the classroom. Art lovers could use them for study. People could just print them and have them in their homes."




    These torsos were printed in layers of biodegradable plastic. The original sculptures reside at the Louvre in Paris.

    Wenman got support from Autodesk after the company's Tatjana Dzambazova saw his work at a 3-D printing conference in London. She says most of the showcases were about 3-D printing iPhone cases and toys. But then she saw Wenman's work.

    "I saw this gorgeous sculpture of a horse and I say ... 'Oh my God, what is this?' It didn't look like a 3-D print." She looked closer and met Wenman.
    "He was trying to show that you can make art, or that you can save heritage," Dzambazova says.

    So far, no museums have objected to what Wenman is doing. Still, Wenman says he doesn't ask permission to take his photos. He'd prefer to ask forgiveness. But when Cantor Director Connie Wolf sees him in the gallery, she actually seems excited, because a 3-D print is a lot more like experiencing the real object.
    "The ability to see a sculpture as if you're walking around it is something so important," she says. "I'm very intrigued by it, but I don't know it."
    Wolf says she sees great value in what Wenman is trying to do, as long as it's for the right reasons.
    "You want to be sure that people recognize these are studying tools ... teaching tools, " she says. "These are opportunities to enjoy something that's a replica as opposed to a forgery."

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