Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, other prominent women unveil bust of Sojourner Truth

Sojourner_Truth photo by Paul Grant (follower of Basho)

- It's Equal Pay Day -- designed to call attention to women's lower earning power -- and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama will mark it by speaking in succession at an the unveiling of a Capitol Visitor Center bust of women's rights crusader Sojourner Truth.

The $3.2 million bust makes history as the first memorial bust of a black woman to be placed in the Capitol. The project was spearheaded by the National Congress of Black Women, Inc., and took nearly 10 years to complete.

Sojourner Truth (1797 – November 26, 1883) was the self-given name, from 1843, of Isabella Baumfree, an American slave, abolitionist, and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York. Her best-known speech, Ain't I a Woman?, was delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Damien Hirst : Requiem, major retrospective in Kiev

Notorious British provocateur Damien Hirst is opening the largest single show of his career at the Pinchuk Art Center in downtown Kiev. Damien Hirst

"I always thought museums were for dead artists and I was afraid of that," said Hirst, who decided to mount his exhibit in the Ukraine because he believes audiences there are new to contemporary art. "I hope it will make people think."

Hirst, perhaps the most famous current living artist, sold his work at auction last year at Sotheby's for nearly US$200-million. Whatever it is that attracts art buyers to his fish skeletons, dead sharks and bewjeweled skulls will soon be making its way to Kiev.

The PinchukArtCentre (Kyiv, Ukraine) is pleased to announce Requiem, a major retrospective of over 100 works dating from 1990 to 2008, by Damien Hirst. Requiem opens on 25th April and continues through 20th September 2009.

"Art's about invention and we are all desperately trying to invent a better future, and to learn from the past." (Damien Hirst, in conversation with Eckhard Schneider)

In his work over the last two decades, Hirst has continually produced paintings, sculptures and drawings that radically and directly address our shared quest for life in the face of inevitable death. Through an exploration of beauty and decay, love and desire, science and religion, history and art, Hirst has created some of the most conceptually profound and challenging artworks of our time.

 Hirst “Charity.” 2002-2003

“Charity.” 2002-2003

Requiem brings together many of the artist's most celebrated works. Ranging from early iconic sculptures such as A Thousand Years, 1990 and Away from the Flock, 1994 to more recent works like the monumental butterfly triptych, Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven, 2007 as well as Death Explained, 2007, a sculpture of a shark cut in half in formaldehyde, the exhibition shows the extraordinary breadth of Hirst's artistic enterprise.

Since the start of his career, Hirst has pushed the boundaries of art and what it means to be an artist. Requiem bears witness to a bold new direction in his work by showing for the first time a series of skull paintings he created between 2006 and 2008. In works such as Floating Skull, 2006, The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth, 2008 and Men Shall Know Nothing, 2008, Hirst returns to the solitary practice of painting and confronts, in very personal terms, the darkness that lies at the heart of human nature and experience.

The impulses driving Damien Hirst’s work stem from dilemmas inherent in human life: ‘I am aware of mental contradictions in everything, like: I am going to die and I want to live for ever. I can’t escape the fact and I can’t let go of the desire’. The materials he uses often shock, but he says he ‘uses shock almost as a formal element . not so much to thrust his work in the public eye . but rather to make aspects of life and death visible’. (Tate Britain.)“The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.” 1991

“The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.” 1991

Victor Pinchuk: "This exhibition is of great significance but what is most important for me is that the opportunity to see Hirst's new body of work occurs first in Kyiv. Damien's exhibition in Kyiv symbolises the reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship between contemporary Ukrainian culture and that of the rest of the world. They share a common ground."

Eckhard Schneider, General Manager of the PinchukArtCentre: "With this fundamental retrospective including a cycle of new paintings the PinchukArtCentre gives an important international contribution to the debate surrounding one of the leading artists of our time."

Requiem is made possible by the loaning of key works from private collections. The exhibition was curated by Eckhard Schneider and developed in close cooperation with Damien Hirst and Victor Pinchuk. In hosting a major retrospective of one of the most important artists working today, the PinchukArtCentre is testament to the Ukraine's ongoing cultural development. -- www.gagosian.com

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Amedeo Modigliani Comprehensive Retrospective Exhibition (with video)

Amedeo Modigliani
The `last bohemian of Paris' Amedeo Modigliani shows up in a major show in Bonn Germany 17 April – 30 August 2009.

Amedeo Modigliani was one of the most important artists of the 20th century. His works have long since gained iconic status in our collective pictorial memory. The Art and Exhibition Hall is holding a comprehensive retrospective exhibition to pay tribute to this outstanding artist, who died tragically young at the age of only 35. Born in Italy in 1884, Modigliani was a painter, draughtsman and sculptor. With the exception of a handful of landscapes, his creative energy was entirely devoted to portraits and nudes.

Modigliani_seated_nude Leon_Bakst_by_Amadeo_Modigliani Modigliani_girl_in_Apron

Modigliani's paintings are deeply rooted in Italian art history, drawing particularly on the formal languages of the Renaissance and Mannerism. These he combined with elements from Expressionism, Cubism and Symbolism as well as African sculpture, whose perceived primitivism and iconic presence equally fascinated many other avant-garde artists of his day. While Modigliani's work cannot be easily classified as belonging to any contemporary styles such as Cubism or Fauvism, it bears eloquent testimony to the restlessness and exuberance of an artist only too aware of his own vulnerability and mortality, and who needed the euphoria of intoxication to live and work. Even today, Modigliani’s idiosyncratic, at times melancholy portraits have lost none of their power to captivate the viewer. The exhibition is structured biographically, reflecting the decisive turning points of his life. The Art and Exhibition Hall hopes to present a representative selection of paintings,drawings and sculptures from 1900 to 1919, giving a vivid impression of the oeuvre of this exceptional artist

Sad: Artist and art-car sculptor Tom Kennedy Drowned

Artist and activist Tom Kennedy, known internationally for his work in "art car sculpturing" drowned about 2 p.m. Sunday April 19th, 2009 at Ocean Beach California.

The Bay Area artist was a pioneer in the art-car movement who built the Topsy-Turvy Bus for ice cream czar Ben Cohen and Ripper the Friendly Shark for himself.

Mr. Kennedy, who was 48, was pulled from the surf just south of the Cliff House.

The cause of death was not released Monday, but friends wrote on Laughingsquid.com that he had been body surfing and was hit by a large wave, and a companion pulled him to shore.

Rescue crews rushed him to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, according to officials at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Mr. Kennedy's art cars were vehicles that have been turned into rolling works of original art - they look a lot different from ordinary, factory-designed cars.

Harrod Blank, a veteran of the art-car movement, said Mr. Kennedy's works "were, ironically, inspired by the sea - his famous art-car, Ripper the Friendly Shark, was one, and there was Fishbait, an angelfish bicycle, the Sharkbite bicycle, the Dolphin Car and the Whale."

Cobbling up cars that looked like sharks and upside-down buses was hardly in the offing 20 years ago, when Mr. Kennedy was living in Houston and plying the corporate trade.

"Tom worked at the Houston Chronicle" in circulation sales, Blank said, "and he did the typical things - buy a house, get married, get a good job, the whole traditional lifestyle. Then he went to a Houston drowned about 2 p.m. Sunday at Ocean Beach parade. After seeing the effect these rolling sculptures had on people, he decided he wanted to make an art car and join that group of people. He made Ripper the Friendly Shark.

"It suspends your disbelief. It's a car, but all you see on the highway is a giant shark. It's something you're not used to seeing on a highway."

Mr. Kennedy left the Houston Chronicle and began devoting every waking hour to his new and different life as an art-car sculptor, aided by his wife and collaborator, Haideen Anderson.

Mr. Kennedy did art cars for public exhibits and also for individual clients, such as Cohen of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. The Cohen bus was a rolling protest against military spending. Mr. Kennedy built more than 30 art cars in all, and his art-car career and life can be seen at his Web site: www.tomkennedyart.com.

Mr. Kennedy also did special cars, like the Whale, for the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, a place where he felt there was enough room to stretch.

"I told him about Burning Man," Blank said, "and that opened the doors to his creativity. It was a venue where he could make large-scale sculptures and blow fire.

"He was kind of a renegade," Blank added. "He would drive Ripper like a shark, zigzagging around. He celebrated that a lot - he wanted to live, and he lived by that principle."

He received his bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of Houston and then spent a couple of years studying at the university's School of Sculpture.

He will have a part in an upcoming documentary see www.artispatriotic.com )“He hit the road hard,” said California car artist and filmmaker Harrold Blank. “He called himself an ambassador of good will.”

Blank’s documentary, Automorphisis, which features Kennedy, will be screened this weekend at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival.

“We thought this would be a celebration,” Blank said. “Now I guess it will be a memorialization.”

Among Kennedy’s early creations were the eye-shaped vehicle that shot Twinkies from a cannon and the Mack the Fin Mobile.

The Topsy Turvy bus — a school bus with a second upside down bus welded to its top — alluded to military expenditures made at the expense of education and health programs.

A truck bearing a large missile and accompanied by a bevy of female attendants made numerous appearances during the past presidential election.

Mr. Kennedy is survived by his wife.

Sad: Vandals deface historical and sacred site

rock art at UbirrThis is a picture of the rock art at Ubirr

Sacred Aboriginal sites, including rock art at Uluru and rock faces in Kakadu have been defaced by acts of graffiti in several locations.
In the heritage-listed Kakadu National Park two rock faces were damaged with graffiti.

No rock art in the park –among the oldest in the world- had been impacted, according to Shannon Murray from the Kakadu visitor services team.

There have been three graffiti incidents but none had defaced the rock art.
However, vandals had left scratchings of graffiti on Ubirr lookout, which is one of the most sacred sites in the national park.

The Aboriginal rock art at Ubirr is tens of thousands of years old, Ms Murray said. A Parks Australia spokeswoman was unable to confirm reports that traditional owners were incensed about the vandals’ acts. Ms Murray said that local Aboriginal people expect visitors to treat their land with respect.

Earlier this year vandals also damaged rock art at Uluru in central Australia, causing thousands of dollars worth of repairs.

People who deface any surface in a commonwealth park face fines of up to $2,500.

Berlin Wall renovation -Artist re-painting

Berlin Wall
"The concrete has been scrubbed, the graffiti removed, the metal de-rusted and now Thierry Noir, the first artist to paint on the Berlin Wall, is set to start all over again.

"We need to restore it to protect it for future generations," Noir said. "The wall will never be a thing of beauty, and nor should it. Too many people died because of it. It is there to remind a future generation of what happened."

Noir, who says he personally painted about three miles of the wall with his trademark figures, has devoted years to tracking down lumps taken by people as mementos or sold by dealers. "I found two big blocks being used as urinals in a Las Vegas casino. It's disgusting. The wall is a work of art and a historical monument."

The artists - from 21 different countries - who painted the wall 20 years ago have been painstakingly traced and paid to return to Berlin to re-create their works once the wall, badly damaged by years of vandalism, exhaust fumes, harsh weather and souvenir hunters, has been resurfaced."

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Outsider Art Show opening in April in Chicago

Culprits, Innocents and Outsiders
Heartland Visions

April 29- August 29, 2009

Opening Reception: Wednesday, April 29, 5-8pm

Self-taught and outsider art is a worldwide phenomenon, and America’s Heartland boasts some of the most distinct, recognized and collected artists in this genre, as well as some whose talents are not so known. This exhibition will feature art by the venerable William Hawkins (1895-1990) and Elijah Pierce (1892-1984), plus works by lesser-known artists Mary Borkowski (1916-2008), Mary Frances Merrill (1920-1999), David Pond (1940-2001), Ernest “Popeye” Reed (1919-1985) and Morris Ben Newman (1883-1980).

Kissing Couple by Elijah Pierce
Inspired by his own Ohio roots and accounts of the 1986 exhibition, 1 + 3 from Ohio, curator Kevin Cole culled several stellar Midwest public and private collections to produce an exhibition worthy of an audience. Self-taught art, although a global phenomenon, embodies the Midwestern and American attitude of self-reliance and the “go your own way” mentality. Culprits, Innocents and Outsiders: Heartland Visions highlights Self-Taught Midwesterners, including Merrill, Borkowski, Newman and Pond whose work has never been exhibited in Illinois.

Notable or newly exhibited, the work of these artist reflect a creative spirit and expression that is very often moving and poignant, impressive and worldly, sometimes humorous and always personal. Revealed are values such as: love, self reliance, independence, self awareness, and a strong work ethic, expressed through such subjects as family, religion, personal tragedy, current and political events, America’s heritage, and nature. Simply put, they present the Midwestern and American experience without a filter. It is the raw presentation of people compelled to create using whatever means and materials necessary and the independent spirit of a region exemplified by the artists who call it home.

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