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It’s rare to hear “Skinny” and “Bacon” in the same sentence

December 5th, 2013

As we noted in our last post, we’ve been enjoying an exploration of the photography of Karston Tannis, who also goes by “#SkinnyWasHere.” When I saw his photograph of the contorted body of a BMX stunt rider, below left (titled “Lower East Side, NYC,” 2013), it made me think of another contorted bicycle rider: “Portrait of George Dyer riding a bicycle,” 1966, by Francis Bacon, below right. What’s your preference, Skinny or Bacon? Can’t have both, a nutritionist might tell you …

photograph by Karston Tannis and painting by Francis Bacon of George Dyer


Skinny Was Here

December 5th, 2013

I saw this sticker art graffiti in New York City recently, and decided to do a search for “skinny was here” to see what I could find. #SkinnyWasHere is a Tumblr by New York photographer Karston Tannis, and it showcases his work “documenting the world around me and the people in it.” He’s got a lot of great images, including the photograph below right and at the bottom of this post. In addition to the Tumblr, you can see more of his work on his own website.

#SkinnyWasHere, a Tumblr by NY-based photographer Karston Tannis

photography by #SkinnyWasHere


Almost like having a sculpture on your finger

December 5th, 2013

I know this post doesn’t fall under our usual topics of art and music, but you have to admit that it’s visually interesting … my wife is in Miami at the Art Basel Miami Beach art fair, as the gallery where she works is exhibiting there. She encountered a client who is affiliated with the Miami Heat, and when she gaped at the championship ring on his finger, he let her try it on. So, below you can see what an NBA Championship Ring looks like on a normal-sized person’s hand. Talk about bling – it’s so big, it’s almost like wearing a sculpture on your finger.

an NBA championship ring on a normal person's hand


That painting looks familiar

December 4th, 2013

I saw a cool painting hanging on the wall in the background of a photograph on a friend’s Facebook page, and so I asked about it. It turns out the artist is Chris Vance, and when I went to check out his website, I found that I like his art a lot. But as I glanced through his portfolio, I started to have a feeling of familiarity … and realized that his art reminds me a lot of two of my favorite artists, Phil Frost and Barry McGee. Do you see the similarities? (to be fair, there were plenty of Chris Vance images that didn’t seem like Frosts or McGees … I think some of my favorites were his abstractions, I’ll show you some of those later)

artists Chris Vance, Phil Frost, and Barry McGee, and some of their paintings


Poking fun at Jeff Koons 25 years ago

December 3rd, 2013

As I was just finishing my last post about obsessing over imitating Jeff Koons, I suddenly had a memory of something wacky I did some 25 years ago which also was relating to imitating – or more accurately, poking fun at – Jeff Koons. I went downstairs to look through my old photo albums, and thankfully found the photo I needed to illustrate that it seems like I’ve been having strange responses to Jeff Koons’ art for a long time.

In the picture below, you’ll see 3 different examples of Jeff Koons’ “vacuum cleaner sculptures,” which were created in the early 1980’s. These were all brand new commercial vacuum cleaners set within clean, Plexiglas boxes illuminated by fluorescent lighting. The vacuum cleaners, sealed in their immaculate, sterile spaces, were rendered functionless. Koons was challenging the viewer to consider these vacuum cleaners as artistic objects. According to Koons, “I chose the vacuum cleaners because this is a machine that, if it is used, is used to collect dirt, which is just the opposite of the absolutely pristine situation in which I placed them.”

So, as a college student at Drew University in the late 1980’s, I was spending a lot of time on the weekends going into NYC to see gallery shows, and was seeing a fair amount of Koons’ work at the time. I thought the vacuum cleaners “as art” were somewhat absurd, so I decided to exhibit my own “Koons vacuum cleaner” at a student exhibition on campus … but in my case, I left the used vacuum cleaner out in the open on a piece of plywood, removed the dust container and sprinkled the dirt and dust all over the board. I forget what I titled it, perhaps “Ode to Koons” or something ridiculous like that, and needless to say, my art professor was not impressed and most-likely not amused either.

my own version of a Jeff Koons vacuum cleaner


Obsessing over imitating Jeff Koons

December 3rd, 2013

We’re all prone to some strange fixations, don’t you think? I hope so, because ever since I saw the garden sculpture with a blue gazing ball on my dog walk yesterday, I’ve been obsessing over getting a cheap gazing ball sculpture and mounting it on a pedestal to “pretend” that I own a Jeff Koons piece. I’ve been Google-searching for just the right sculpture and ball combination, because it has to have a good combination of looking semi-classical but be cheesy at the same time, at least that’s what I’m imagining … see the top two pictures below as examples of what I’ve found.

But in revisiting the installation views of Jeff Koons’ “Gazing Ball” exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery, I’m noticing how many of the pieces have the gazing ball in an awkward or unexpected position in relation to the sculpture (see the Koons sculpture, below left), so maybe I need to buy a sculpture by itself (such as the “naughty angel,” below right), and then buy a blue gazing ball and attach it, maybe on his knee? Maybe I need to get outside and get some fresh air, and shake off this increasingly bizarre obsession. Truth be told, though, I just think it would be pretty funny to make a fake Koons, and am curious to see if I could do so convincingly.

having the idea of imitating Jeff Koons with a gazing ball sculpture


A room with a view and a sense of space

December 3rd, 2013

I was recently introduced to the art work of David O’Malley, who lives and works in London. As I was browsing through his work on his several websites (which I list below), I was attracted to his people-less urban scenes, which have an overall feel of desolation and in some cases melancholy. Then I happened upon this untitled image below, and while I like how he has captured a realistic view with somewhat loosely painted brushstrokes, what I really like is the unexpected realization that it’s painted on a piece of cardboard! It gives the work a different feel from what it might be like on a pristine canvas. (scroll down below the picture for more)

original works of art by British artist David O'Malley

But O’Malley doesn’t just paint cityscapes, he has an interest in outer space, and cites a quote by director David Lynch that “painting is infinite.” He has a couple of series, one with small figures standing in front of the vastness of space, and another series depicting astronauts, both up close and in the distance. It’s from this last series that I found another favorite, unique in the group due to its diagonal format. This piece, titled “Spacewalk 12,” is shown below.

For more on David O’Malley, check out his website here, or his Tumblr here, or his page on Saatchi Online here.

painting of an astronaut in outer space by artist David O'Malley


Life imitating Jeff Koons imitating life

December 2nd, 2013

I saw this angel figure holding the gazing ball on my dog walk today, and just had to pull a picture from Jeff Koons’ recent exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery titled “Gazing Ball.” The comparison brings up a number of interesting questions and ideas, such as:

  • What’s the difference between these two pieces? At least a million bucks (sources report that Koons’ sculptures at this show topped out at $3 million).
  • Is this another case of life imitating art (by Koons) which imitates simple objects in life?
  • If the homeowner took this angel and gazing ball inside, cleaned it up, and placed it on a pedestal, would it be like owning a Jeff Koons?

After seeing this comparison, it’s tempting to go out to a garden store and buy my own “Jeff Koons” and bring it inside … I like the idea of appropriating someone who appropriates someone else … would that make me an artist?

comparing someone's yard ornament against a Jeff Koons Gazing Ball sculpture


Who is this guy?

December 2nd, 2013

I saw this portrait on the stairwell going up to the offices at the Paula Cooper Gallery this past weekend … my first thought was, “is this a portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald?” I don’t know, what do you think when comparing the painting to a photograph? I went through the roster of artists on the Paula Cooper website, and didn’t see any examples of work that looked similar to this one, so I don’t know who the artist is. If anyone can help I.D. either the artist or the subject, let us know. At any rate, hanging the painting in the stairwell where he can glance down upon the viewer created a somewhat creepy effect … nice work there, art installer.

might this painting be a portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald?  Seen at the Paula Cooper Gallery


Post-Thanksgiving art gallery tour in Chelsea

November 30th, 2013

We took our family and holiday-visiting family guests into NYC today to go to some art galleries in Chelsea, and despite seeing some impressive shows by art world notables such as Richard Serra, Gary Hume, and Roni Horn, this is what my 11 year old liked best: “In pursuit of magic,” a stencil-and-spray-paint graffiti piece on a West 21st Street sidewalk. I like it too, but maybe not my true “favorite” piece of the day …

street art literally painted on the street


Vincent Van Gogh at Artsology Artsology offers free online games about the arts, and delivers investigations into topics in the visual arts, music, and literature. Artsology is a good resource for fun learning about the arts for people of all ages and is enjoyed by students, homeschoolers, and adults. Follow us on Twitter or become a fan of our Facebook page. Pablo Picasso paintings at Artsology

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