Jean-Michel Basquiat painting sells at auction for $110.5 Million

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art News, Contemporary Art

I saw this ad (below left) for Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction, which took place last night. The ad caught my attention for two reasons: I thought it was a gorgeous photograph of a Basquiat canvas, with the fact that they’re showing it hanging on the wall gives one a sense of how big it is … the image made me wish I could see it in person. The 2nd thing I noticed in the ad was that it said “estimate upon request.” I wondered, why won’t they give out the information on what the estimate for this painting is? Do they really think they’ll add to their potential client list by forcing people to call and ask for the estimate? Won’t the major players who can spend millions on a Basquiat already know that a major painting is coming up for sale at auction? Why not let the curious public know how much this might sell for?

Well, even if they had posted the estimate – $60 million was the guarantee to the seller – no one would have guessed that it would eventually sell last night for a whopping $110.5 million! Scroll down for more …

Yusaku Maezawa next to $110 million dollar Basquiat painting

The sale price of $110.5 million made this Basquiat painting the sixth most expensive work ever sold at auction. Only ten other works have broken the $100 million mark. Quite often at these types of auctions, the sellers and buyers keep a low profile, but last night soon after the sale was completed, the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa posted a picture of himself next to the painting (above right) with the caption: “I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece.”

So, who is Yusaku Maezawa, and how did he gain his fortune? I found it interesting to learn that he was in a band in high school, and upon graduation, rather than go to college, he moved to the United States and started collecting CDs and records of bands that he liked. When he returned to Japan, this music collection became the basis for his first business, in which he sold CDs and records of his favorite bands by mail from his home. When he moved this business online in 2000, he started selling clothing online as well, and it became Japan’s largest online fashion mall, Zozotown. You can learn more about Maezawa here and here.

The good news is that Maezawa is not going to hide away this Basquiat in his own private home; he plans on loaning it to institutions and exhibitions around the world in advance of eventually placing it in his own museum, which is still in the planning stages, but will eventually open in Chiba, east of Tokyo.

Disassembling farm equipment and making it into art

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art Museum exhibitions, Art News, Artist Spotlight

I received a press release from the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska, regarding an upcoming exhibition featuring the work of David Brooks. The show is titled “Continuous Service Altered Daily,” and the artist has taken apart a 1976 John Deere 3300 series combine harvester and displays every part – electrical wiring, nuts, bolts, rubber hoses, tires, and so forth – throughout the Bemis Center’s first-floor galleries. You may be wondering: why? Scroll down for more …

Pictured below left: a John Deere 3300 Harvester at work in a cornfield; below right, one of the exhibition galleries at the Bemis Center.

John Deere 3300 Series Harvester

According to the artist’s website, the dismantled harvester machine parts are grouped into nine zones that represent nine continuously occurring ecosystem services upon which we rely daily, including: decomposition, water purification, erosion and flood control, air purification, pollination, habitat formation, primary production, disease regulation, and ornamental resources. Each part and every object on display has been given an interpretive individual label that supports this correlation. It’s a little hard to comprehend based on what I’m seeing in the press release as well as the artist’s site, but that’s what they’re telling me.

At any rate, I want to show you how some of the parts are displayed, how they look when isolated as individual machine parts and how they can be transformed into art objects. Here’s a few below, with a description under the photo:

David Brooks John Deere harvester parts

Clockwise, from top left: “Iconic Species (Ornamental Resources zone),” 2016 – brass-plated auger bearing; “Precipitation,” the complete set of elevator augers; the header unit.

I will say this – the more I’m researching the artist David Brooks, the more interesting things I’m finding, above and beyond this particular work and exhibition … I hope to have more on this artist soon.

Mondrian and Motherboards

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art games, Art That Makes You Go "Huh?", Finding visual references

Sometimes you can’t trust algorithms to understand the visual aspects of art … I just added the “Mondrian Squares Challenge Game” to the site, and when I added a promo to my art games page on Pinterest, it showed me a selection of “related pins,” some of which you can see below. The Pinterest algorithm is clearly basing its connection on the primary colors of red, blue and yellow, because these “related pins” have nothing else in common with Piet Mondrian and his paintings. As you can see, Pinterest wants to match up Mondrian with vending machines, a number of computer motherboards, international flags, and a Pac Mac video game. Those recommendations may not help one learn anything new about Mondrian, but it does provide a humorous collage of images.

Piet Mondrian and related pins on Pinterest, which is a fail

Diana Vreeland and Henri Matisse’s red rooms

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Interior Design, Making an art history comparison

Everyone has a favorite color, but it’s interesting to see what can happen when someone loves the color red. To be honest, I think living in a home with an all-red room would be overwhelming, but here’s a look at a few … clockwise, from top left: a photograph of Diana Vreeland’s living room; a Jeremiah Goodman drawing of Diana Vreeland’s living room; Henri Matisse’s famous painting “Harmony in Red (The Red Room),” 1908; and Henri Matisse’s painting “The Red Studio,” 1911.

Diana Vreeland red living room and Henri Matisse paintings Red Room and Red Studio

Sources of light: photographs by Adam Dean

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Artist Spotlight, Photography

Every once in a while as I’m reading the New York Times front page news, I’ll notice a photograph in an article that jumps out as more-artistic than most news photos. This past Sunday’s paper had a story about China upending the global economic order, and this picture grabbed my attention:

photo of a chinese worker by Adam Dean
Photograph by Adam Dean for the New York Times

I like this image for the composition and interior light source; despite the view of three workers in a vast landscape with blue-ridged mountains in the background, the eye is immediately drawn to the intense light coming out of a large steel tube in which the foremost worker is welding. But even with the focus here, the eye can’t rest on just the welder – there’s an ambiguous machine to the left, spray paint can-sized debris (I’m not sure what they are) all over the ground in the lower right corner, and the beauty of the mountains and near-sunset light in the background – or is it sunrise? There’s a lot to look at here.

When I did a search to see what other news photographs Mr. Dean had taken, I found this gem … it’s a photo of a dock worker using a mallet to dislodge frozen tuna aboard a Chinese cargo vessel, which was included in a story that Dean photographed for National Geographic. It’s another example of an image where the light source sets the tone for the whole picture. I’d frame and hang this one on a wall, if I could.

Adam Dean photograph on overfishing for National Geographic
Photograph by Adam Dean for National Geographic

Adam Dean is a freelance photographer who works primarily between Bangkok and Beijing, and he is represented by Panos Pictures, which is a photo agency specializing in global social issues. You can learn more about Adam Dean and see more of his work at his website here.

Famous photographs recreated with Play-Doh and photographed again

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art project, Artist Spotlight, Making an art history comparison, Photography

I recently happened upon the work of Eleanor Macnair, who has been re-creating famous photographs in Play-Doh for the past few years. Part of her drive in making these artworks is to make art historical images more accessible to the general public, and the use of Play-Doh helps demystify the art and make it feel more democratic. The artist says: “Even after working in the art and photography world I sometimes find it exclusive and inaccessible. I didn’t study fine art or go to art school and didn’t have the right background or initially the right connections … I wanted to do something that wasn’t pretentious, that everyone could enjoy.”

Here’s a sampling of the original source photographs and Macnair’s versions in Play-Doh, which she then photographs as well. You can see more of her work here.

Below left: “Frida on Bench” by Nickolas Muray; below right: “Frida on Bench” by Eleanor Macnair

Play-Doh art by Eleanor Macnair

Below left: “Los Angeles” Garry Winogrand; below right: “Los Angeles” by Eleanor Macnair

Garry Winogrand and Eleanor Macnair

Below left: “Untitled Film Still #21” by Cindy Sherman; below right: “Untitled Film Still #21” by Eleanor Macnair

Untitled Film Still Cindy Sherman made in Playdoh

Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Artist Spotlight, Movies

If you’ve been a reader of this blog, you may know that I’m a fan of the artist Julian Schnabel. Despite his polarizing presence in the art world, I’ve always liked his work and his can-do-anything attitude. At any rate, there’s a new movie out about Schnabel titled Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait which chronicles the personal life and public career of the artist. It was included in the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and is currently showing only at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema in New York.

Here’s a look at the trailer:

Extreme Makeover: New York City, 2050

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Architecture, Art That Makes You Go "Huh?", Interactive Art

I heard about an interesting web project today: “Earth 2050,” which features detailed predictions by experts and futurologists for the years 2030, 2040, and 2050. It was developed by Kasperksy Lab, the global cybersecurity corporation, and allows people to create an account and add their own predictions and futuristic ideas.

I’ve just barely scratched the surface of what there is on the site, but wanted to share this wild (crazy?) prediction for New York City in the year 2050. The location is midtown Manhattan, specifically the southern edge of Grand Army Plaza at Central Park South, with a view of the Plaza Hotel on the right side. The top picture (below) shows this view of New York City right now, and below that is the exact same view in the year 2050 as envisioned by digital artist Akim Fimin. I love the sci-fi futuristic vision of Fimin, he’s an extremely talented artist, but this is calling for a pretty drastic architectural makeover for New York City. The Plaza Hotel remains fixed in time, a classic that endures “as-is” through the middle of the 21st Century … but check out the rest of midtown Manhattan! All of those other buildings are wiped out, replaced by futuristic architecture, and the (minimal) traffic is in the air, not on the street.

Kaspersky Lab Earth 2050

I don’t think midtown Manhattan is going to change this drastically in the next 33 years, but it’s still a fun website to visit and look around. It’s an interactive site, you can choose where you want to investigate throughout the world, and you can choose whether to visit 2030, 2040, or 2050 for most of the individual locations. There’s little green hexagons that you can click on to read more specific predictions for the future, there’s a futuristic soundtrack, and there’s all sorts of wild ideas in this site … check it out for yourself!

Finding beauty in building planes

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art project, Photography

The NY Times had an interesting article this past weekend on the building of an Airbus A321 at a former military base in Mobile, Alabama. It wasn’t so much the article itself, but rather the photographs that grabbed my attention, because the images showed a beautiful side of plane-building that I’ve never seen before.

Christopher Payne photographs of an Airbus A321
A fan blade set for an engine of the A321. Credit Christopher Payne for The New York Times

The photographer is Christopher Payne, who is represented by Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York City. Payne specializes in architectural photography and the large format documentation of America’s industrial heritage. Trained as an architect, he is fascinated by design, assembly, and the built form. This isn’t the first time we’ve been smitten with Payne’s photographs – he also did a series of photographs of the Steinway piano factory in Astoria, Queens, which we wrote about a few months ago.

Here’s a few more pictures from the spread in the NY Times:

Christopher Payne photographs of the Airbus A321

Above left: Looking inside the rear section of the fuselage, toward the aft of the plane. Above right: Each of the wings weighs 4.5 tons. Here, they are attached to the fuselage with approximately 1,200 rivets per side. Both photographs are by Christopher Payne for The New York Times.

Miles Styles: Miles Davis graffiti and sunglasses

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art and Fashion, Graffiti, Historical Figures in Art, The Arts Adventurer

I saw this graffiti mural in the Bronx which appears to be a portrait of Miles Davis with a somewhat crooked and bent trumpet, except the tag at the top right corner says “Styles Davis.” I’m not finding any reference to a graffiti artist who goes by that name, but I do see the lower right tags that reference “UPS” and “COD,” both of which appear to be graffiti crews that have work in the Bronx.

At any rate, I like the red-tinted sunglasses on the Miles Davis figure, and it prompted a memory of Miles wearing some pretty funky sunglasses over the years … scroll down below the graffiti mural to see a selection of Miles Davis sunglasses pictures.

Miles Davis graffiti portrait by UPS and COD in the Bronx

Check out some of these sunglasses on Miles Davis! I realize that these pictures are primarily from the 1970s and 1980s, but still – those aren’t your typical sunglasses. I think I like the ones in the bottom right picture the best … where could I get some of those???

A collection of funky sunglasses worn by Miles Davis