Spotlight: Andy Warhol

Andy-Warhol

Andy Warhol is a very renowned name in the pop art. He was an American artist who brought revolution in the art of 1960s, bringing a visual art movement, exploring artistic expression, advertisement and celebrity culture. Soon he had a very prominent name as commercial illustrator but often there were controversies related to his work. Nonetheless, he successfully managed to become the most famous artist of the era. There is a museum in the United States, The Andy Warhol Museum, dedicated to him alone, where people greatly acknowledge and praise his outstanding work. His work was not only limited to the paintings and ad illustrations, he also ventured into other variety of art forms like film making and performance art, rendering him equally successful in all.

Andrew Warhola was born on August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At an early age, he learned the basics of art from his mother while he was sick with Chorea and on the bed rest for several months. He attended the Holmes Elementary School and also took the art classes offered by Carnegie Institute. For his graduation he went to Schenley High school and after graduation, he perused Pictorial Studies in Carnegie Institute for Technology.
He initiated his artistic career in 1949 after completing his Bachelors in Fine arts and moving to New York. He put all his endeavors in being a commercial artist. His splendid job with Glamour magazine and his outstanding techniques with rubber stamps and blotted line won him many recognition awards. His career as a commercial artist was at pinnacle in 1950.

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The next decade was mostly focused on painting and pop art that brought in limelight the mass produced commercial goods. These canvases of ordinary consumer products brought a great change in the world of art. This did not only brought pop art but also Warhol into spotlight. Coco cola, Vacuum cleaner and hamburgers were the products that really captured people’s heart. Then he began with the portraits of celebrities among which those who received much appreciation where those of Marilyn Monroe, Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor and Mao Zedong. The triumph of these portraits was quickly followed by the inflow of thousands of commissions of portraits from various celebrities and socialites.

In 1964, Warhol opened his own art studio that was known as “The factory” that became the hotspot for the New York’s elites and art lovers. It was enriched with Andrew’s magnificent work that was praised by wealth people and celebrities every now and then. This was the most glorious decade of Andy’s life that confirmed him to be the master of pop art and gained him innumerable followers. In 1968 however, he fell prey to a murder attack by Valerie Solanis, who shot Andrew leaving him seriously injured.

In the 1970s Warhol stepped into other forms of media, publishing his most famous book, The philosophy of Andy Warhol and also started appearing on television with his Andy Warhol’s TV and Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes that further dignified his name.

Warhol died at the age of 58 in the year 1987 and remained unmarried, immersed in his work. His personal life however was subjected to many controversies. Nonetheless his amazing effort in the world of art will forever be praised.

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Spotlight: Banksy

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Bansky, whose identity is still not fully known, was Graffiti artist or a street artist with a very provocative work in his forte. His actual name however still remains a matter of question, with few calling him Robert Banks while others refer to him as Robin Gunningham. Pictures that came forward as supposedly of being Banksy’s were identical to that of Gunningham’s, who was an artist born in 1973 in Bristol. The period during which Bansky’s artwork was at its pinnacle also coincides with that of Gunningham’s. Hence the true identity has never really been unveiled yet his street art held immense importance and recognition among the art lovers.

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Bansky is known to be born in the year 1974 in Bristol England and in the years following 1990, he showed great skills in stenciled piece for which he became renounced soon. His career as graffiti artist began in 1990 in Bristol’s graffiti gang DryBreadZ Crew. He first opted for free hand drawings and paintings but soon he developed a love for stencils. His late nineties work was very prominent in stencils which became his signature style making him prominent in Bristol as well as London.

Bansky used to include some prominent slogans in his images that proved to be really striking, attracting the attention of whoever passes by his work. His themes often revolved around greed and infidelity, wars and capitalism and often included political issues too. Children, members of the royal family, apes and rats were very frequently found in his art work. He, however, does not kept himself limited to the two dimensional work. His endeavor in installation work gained much appreciation too.

In 2013, Bansky took residence in New York where he promised to continue his street art work and show the people his master piece every day of his residence. He believed in seeing the things around them and reacting to them but painting his reaction on the public walls, some of which might be elaborate while others may go walls to walls. During his stay in New York, he also sold his artwork to the people who showed acute interest in his work and at the prices that were well below the market prices of his work.

The years 2000 to 2003 were about exhibitions of Bansky’s artwork. His work that was often criticized as an act of vandalism later become the most prized graffiti work. Max Foster who was a journalist, referred to these increasing prizes of Banksy’s graffiti work as the “Bansky effect” and his work also became the subject of a documentary made in 2010 which was released under the name of “Exit through the Gift Shop”

Despite of his much admired work, his true identity remains a matter of concern. Some people even go as far as saying that Bansky is actually a woman while another group of people claim that Bansky is not just one person but a group of seven people. Nonetheless, it is the work that speaks for itself and his work is really his true identity.

NET DISCOVERIES: Henri Matisse

Some things on the net are just too good not to mention here; such as this nicely done Henri Matisse documentary.

Overview:

In this episode, Alastair sets out to discover just how much the artist Henri Matisse has influenced our modern lives. He explains why Matisse’s art is considered so great and also looks at how Matisse’s brilliant use of color and simplification of form continues to inspire illustrators, designers and of course artists today.

During the course of the series, presenter and journalist, Alastair Sooke, explores why these artists are considered so important and examines how their influence can still be seen in our world today.

NET DISCOVERIES: This Is Modern Art – Hollow Laughter

Courtesy of: Whomever placed it on the internet

This Is Modern Art was a series written and presented by the English art critic Matthew Collings. The series won several awards including a BAFTA. It became popular both because of its sometimes jokey and sometimes thoughtful explanations of the work and attitude of a new wave of artists that had recently been publicized in the British mass media, and because of its author’s witty and irreverent, though clearly highly informed, commentary style.

Collings went on to create several more TV series and programmes for Channel 4, including Impressionism: Revenge of The Nice, and This Is Civilisation.
Focuses on the current state of modern art, and looks back at Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol to see how they changed the definition of art. Reveals the ways modern art attempts to shock the audience.

Investigates on whether the once accepted view of art as merely a thing of beauty prevails today, examining the works of various artists.
This Is Modern Art – Hollow Laughter (BBC Documentary)

Back Track: The “Bau” In Bauhaus

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The Bauhaus Building in Dessau, Germany.

No, not the German owned DYI chain, but the Bauhaus period. Art is amid the most varied and evolved disciplines in the world. It has been here ever as man came to this world. From illustrations and easy drawings, fine art has penetrated into everyone’s existence in one form or another.  Art is not just restricted to paintings and drawings but is additionally present in the form of design and architecture. All of the arts go back a long period ago, and across its past you can discern the disparate movements and the progress of art. One of the most momentous period in art and design past was the Bauhaus Movement.

Bauhaus started in Germany around 1919. It was created alongside the believed of crafting a “total” work of fine art in that all arts should in the end be held together. Bauhaus school amalgamated art, design, sculpture and architecture. Bauhaus style afterward came to be one of the most prominent currents in present design, modernist design and fine art, design and architectural education. The Bauhaus joined agents of both. art and design education. The curriculum commenced alongside a preliminary sequence that immersed the students, who came from a varied scope of communal and educational backgrounds, in the discover of materials, color theory, and proper connections in arranging for extra enumerated studies. This preliminary sequence was frequently cultured by discernible artists, encompassing Paul Klee (1879 -1940), Vasily Kandinsky (1866 – 1944), and Josef Albers (1888 – 1976), amid others.

Following their immersion in Bauhaus theory, students went in enumerated workshops, that encompassed metalworking, cabinetmaking, interlacing, pottery, typography, and wall painting. Even though Gropius’ early target was a unification of the arts across craft, aspects of this way proved commercially impractical. As maintaining the emphasis on craft, he repositioned the aims of the Bauhaus in 1923, stressing the significance of arranging for mass production. It was at this period that the school adopted the slogan “Art into Industry.”

Metalworking was one more accepted workshop at the Bauhaus and, alongside alongside the cabinetmaking studio, was the most prosperous in growing design prototypes for mass production. In this studio, designers such as Marianne Brandt, Wilhelm Wagenfeld, and Christian Dell crafted gorgeous, present items such as lighting fixtures and tableware. Brandt was the early woman to attend the metalworking studio, and substituted László Moholy-Nagy as studio manager in 1928. Countless of her sketches came to be iconic expressions of the Bauhaus aesthetic. Her sculptural and geometric silver teapot, as not ever mass-produced, reflects both the impact of her mentor, Moholy-Nagy, and the Bauhaus emphasis on manufacturing forms.

One of the most vital classes at the Bauhaus was typography. Indeed, countless teachers quickly comprehended the vital act of kinds in an competent discernible communication. The Bauhaus pondered on clear fonts and evaded the far heavier renderings of the average German typography of the time. The typography workshop of the Bauhaus, came to be increasingly vital below figures like Moholy-Nagy and graphic designer Herbert Bayer. At the Bauhaus, typography was conceived as both an empirical way of contact and an artistic expression, alongside discernible clarity stressed above all. Concurrently, typography came to be increasingly related to company individuality and advertising. The promotional materials coordinated for the Bauhaus at the workshop, alongside their use of sans serif typefaces and the combination of photography as a key graphic agent, assisted as discernible signals of the avant-garde institution.

One of their slogans was ‘Death to Ornamentation”. Bauhaus had Love of geometry. They commenced destroying down objects into their rawest geometric forms, as they believed this method as the best method to craft new and extra present items. One more vital factor that they believed, due to that this movement was so prosperous and modified fine art and design was, “Form follows function”. It is a sentence coined by Louis Sullivan, an American architect, who wanted to express the futility in excessive ornamentations, and was central to thinking in the Bauhaus school.

Spotlight: Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock

Born on January 28, 1912, Paul Jackson Pollock was a well known American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist genre. He was famous for his unique style of drip painting. Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming, in 1912, the youngest of five sons, and grew up in Arizona and Chico, California. While living in Echo Park, California, he enrolled at Los Angeles’ Manual Arts High School, from which he was expelled. He already had been expelled in 1928 from another high school. Pollocks father was a surveyor, and early on in his life while on surveying trips together, Jackson explored Native American culture.

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In 1930, following his older brother Charles Pollock, he moved to New York City where Jackson studied at The Art Students League in New York, under Thomas Hart Benton. Although Benton’s rural landscape subject matter had little influence on Jackson’s art work, Pollock often said that Benton’s traditional teachings gave him something to rebel against. Jackson had been more intrigued by the artistic style of the ethnic indian of the American southwest. This stands to reason if one watches the way American Indians produce their sand paintings and the way Pollock manipulates his paint drips, both of their methodologies are very similar.

Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety as a major artist of his generation, though he sold very little of his art work during his lifetime. The über high prices that his paintings are fetching today came about several years after his death in 1956. Regarded as reclusive, he was a loose cannon mentally, and struggled with alcoholism for most of his life.

Jackson Pollock’s “One: Number 31, 1950″on display at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Jackson Pollock’s “One: Number 31, 1950″on display at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Jackson was all about his painting. His priority was his art, and whereas Pollock’s work also helped make the United States take center stage of the international contemporary art scene at that time, it is imperative to mention that the Abstract Expressionists success is due to a CIA program to do just that. Being among the abstract expressionists group, Jackson and many other artists lived somewhat of a Hemingway existence where they hung out together and drank heavily.

For many, the paintings of Jackson Pollock are the emperor’s new clothes when one considers the prices that his works are commanding at the auction houses today. Jackson is among the big ticket names in art and his paintings are selling in the tens of millions. One has to follow the proceeding history to understand where he is coming from, and this is best portrayed in a scene in the movie “Pollock” where he is drinking with his artists cohorts, and states “We gotta break through this shit!”

Documentary: “Jackson Pollock”  (Phaidon Video, 1996)

And Now For something Really …

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Contemporary Art And Mathematics

Contemporary art is commonly categorized as art produced by artists between the 1970s and the present; it is based on modernism and post-modernism issues. Mathematics began discretely making its way into art. It often seeks to shock and in most cases, it evokes skepticism and even denunciation as a response. Contemporary Mathematics artists used art to change how the world perceived mathematical symbols; “they used art to influence cultural attitudes and transform stereotypes.” Their work exhibited a message that provoked the viewer to question gender inequality. ab, π √a, and Δ are some of the renowned contemporary Mathematics artists. Math art has always thrived on contradiction because it aims to shock the audience; the fact that it uses nude and partially nude models enrages critics and evokes skepticism. Math art centers on body image and Mathematics; it uses logical imagery to portray the power of a mathematic’s presence. The artwork caused the audience to take into account a mathematic’s body image and the likely disorders and emotions are associated with the contemporary pressure that defines beauty.  The pi symbol (π), is one of the most celebrated pieces in Mathematics art history; The Norwegian Centre for Mathematics is among the many places that house this famous artwork. π used a banquet table and “X,Y & Z” to represent remarkable mathematical symbols from history and legends. Before the Mathematics movement arose, mathematical symbols’s efforts went unrecognized; only organic organisims went into history books as heroes and role models; even in mythology only organic organisims were given voices. π used planck’s constant as a platform to re-write history and re-discover those remarkable mathematical symbols whose contributions to society had gone unnoticed and …

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CIA Secretly Promoted Abstract Expressionism During the Cold War

The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia, August 14, 2008. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES)

Yes you heard it correct. This story, which has been confirmed, has already been published throughout the ‘net, nevertheless it deserves an entry here at our art archives. From the UK Independent in a 1995 article:

“The connection is improbable. This was a period, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the great majority of Americans disliked or even despised modern art – President Truman summed up the popular view when he said: “If that’s art, then I’m a Hottentot.” As for the artists themselves, many were ex- communists barely acceptable in the America of the McCarthyite era, and certainly not the sort of people normally likely to receive US government backing.

Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.

The existence of this policy, rumored and disputed for many years, has now been confirmed for the first time by former CIA officials. Unknown to the artists, the new American art was secretly promoted under a policy known as the “long leash” – arrangements similar in some ways to the indirect CIA backing of the journal Encounter, edited by Stephen Spender.

The decision to include culture and art in the US Cold War arsenal was taken as soon as the CIA was founded in 1947. Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the new agency set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.

This was the “long leash”. The centerpiece of the CIA campaign became the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a vast jamboree of intellectuals, writers, historians, poets, and artists which was set up with CIA funds in 1950 and run by a CIA agent. It was the beach-head from which culture could be defended against the attacks of Moscow and its “fellow travelers” in the West. At its height, it had offices in 35 countries and published more than two dozen magazines, including Encounter.

The Congress for Cultural Freedom also gave the CIA the ideal front to promote its covert interest in Abstract Expressionism. It would be the official sponsor of touring exhibitions; its magazines would provide useful platforms for critics favourable to the new American painting; and no one, the artists included, would be any the wiser.

Because Abstract Expressionism was expensive to move around and exhibit, millionaires and museums were called into play. Pre-eminent among these was Nelson Rockefeller, whose mother had co-founded the Museum of Modern Art in New York. As president of what he called “Mummy’s museum”, Rockefeller was one of the biggest backers of Abstract Expressionism (which he called “free enterprise painting”). His museum was contracted to the Congress for Cultural Freedom to organise and curate most of its important art shows.

The museum was also linked to the CIA by several other bridges. William Paley, the president of CBS broadcasting and a founding father of the CIA, sat on the members’ board of the museum’s International Program. John Hay Whitney, who had served in the agency’s wartime predecessor, the OSS, was its chairman. And Tom Braden, first chief of the CIA’s International Organizations Division, was executive secretary of the museum in 1949

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Cover for the catalog “The New American Painting”

The artists themselves were completely unaware that their work was being used as propaganda. On what agents called a “long leash,” they participated in several exhibitions secretly organized by the CIA, such as “The New American Painting”  which visited major European cities in 1958-59 and included such modern primitive works as surrealist William Baziotes’ 1947 Dwarf (below).

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William Baziote “Dwarf” (1947)

Unsurprisingly, the paintings which seem to be least inspiring were by artists who were covertly pushed by the CIA in the 1950’s as part of its cold war strategy. Mark Rothko, for example, was born in the Russian Empire in 1903 (modern day Latvia) and ended up in America in 1913. Being a Russian artist in America made him the perfect CIA tool, and apparently his art served that purpose unbeknownst to him. The CIA program was originally set up in 1947, under the not so covert division called the Propaganda Assets Inventory. You really can’t make this up.”

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Art goers: Are they enthusiasts of Pollock’s work? Or just dupes in a bigger scheme by the U.S. government?

This begs the question: would Pollock and fellow abstract expressionists be so famous had it not been for the CIA? You decide. Proof positive that Truth is stranger than fiction.