Art

Official Portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald

February 12, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley, oil on canvas, 2018. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., which was created in 1962 by an Act of Congress, is the only location outside of the White House with a collection of portraits of former United States Presidents. Today, Barack and Michelle Obama unveiled their likenesses, created by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively. The Obamas selected the artists—Wiley and Sherald are the first African American artists to be commissioned for presidential portraits.

Wiley’s depiction of President Obama features the artist’s signature style of richly-hued background patterns setting a vibrant symbolic environment for the portrait’s subject. President Obama is surrounded by a carefully selected variety of foliage: jasmine, which represents Hawaii; African blue lilies for his father’s Kenyan heritage; and Chicago’s official flower, the chrysanthemum.  For Mrs. Obama’s portrait, Sherald engaged her distinctive combination of depicting skin tone in grayscale, offset by the sharply rendered full-color fabric of Mrs. Obama’s floor-length dress.

The Smithsonian shares with Colossal that the portraits will be on view to the public beginning Tuesday, February 13th. Wiley’s painting of President Obama will be permanently installed in the Portrait Gallery’s “America’s Presidents” exhibition, and Sherald’s portrait of Mrs. Obama will be displayed in the museum’s “Recent Acquisitions” corridor through November 2018. Sherald also has a solo show at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, which opens May 11, 2018.

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama by Amy Sherald, oil on linen, 2018. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

 

 



Music

A Lovely Classical Cover of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’ Played by Sheku Kanneh-Mason

February 12, 2018

Christopher Jobson

British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason began playing the cello at the age of six. In the twelve years that have followed he has performed at BBC Proms in the Park, the Royal Festival Hall, the BAFTAs awards show at the Royal Albert Hall, the Marlborough House in front of Prince Charles for Commonwealth Day, and several other impressive venues. In 2016, at the age 17, he won the BBC Young Musician award for his performance of the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican Hall.

Kenneh-Mason is passionate about making classical music available to all. He has recorded several covers of contemporary songs for his debut album Inspiration, including an emotional interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and the above cover of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry filmed in front of the Dale Grimshaw Bob Marley mural in Brockley, London.

All six of Kanneh-Mason’s brothers and sisters also play classical instruments, including his eight-year-old sister Mariatu. You can listen to a Hungarian dance performed by the family in this video. (via The Kid Should See This)

 

 



Animation Art

One Minute Art History: A Hand-Drawn Animation in Myriad Historical Art Styles

February 9, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Filmmaker and educator Cao Shu captures the history of art in an experimental short film that lasts for less than one minute. Throughout the film, the central character goes through the small motions of everyday movements like checking the time and having a drink, with each frame rendered in a different art historical style. The film starts in ancient Egypt and progresses through Chinese ink paintings and Japanese block prints to Modigliani and Basquiat-style portraits. Cao renders a vast array of art styles in a manner that is evocative without being overworked. He lives and works in Hangzhou, where he teaches at the China Academy of Art.

 

 



Art

Hollow Animal Sculptures Constructed From a Network of Metal Branches by Kang Dong Hyun

February 9, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Korean artist Kang Dong Hyun constructs hollow animal sculptures from a system of metallic branches. His works often have a high concentration of these sprig-like elements constructing the animal’s face, which allow the distinguishing characteristics of his house cats, birds, bulls, and elephants to take form. In one particular piece a lion’s full facial features are brought to life through his network of sculpted twigs, a furrowed brow projecting a look of worry or remorse. You can see more of Kang’s interpretations of the animal kingdom on his Instagram. (via My Modern Met)

 

 



Art

Dina Brodsky Chronicles Her Travels in Detailed Miniature Landscape Paintings

February 9, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Painter Dina Brodsky (previously) records travel memories from long distance bicycling trips in small circular oil paintings. Brodsky’s style channels the heightened realism of 19th century landscape painters; whereas the historical paintings were created on enormous canvases that echoed the vast American landscape, Brodsky’s contemporary take condenses the visual impact into a token-sized work that fits in the palm of a hand. The artist describes the intention and scale of her work:

I like to think that the reason my works have gotten so tiny over the years is that painting itself is partially an act of meditation, of being able to hold something still enough in my mind that I can capture an image of it. As it becomes easier to slip into that meditative state, the object I need to concentrate on becomes smaller.

Paintings from this series are on view until March 4th in the show Cycling Guide to Lilliput at Pontone Gallery in London. Brodsky also shares her work on Instagram, and offers prints of select paintings in her Etsy shop. (via Create! Magazine)

 

 



Art

James Brunt Organizes Leaves and Rocks Into Elaborate Cairns and Mandalas

February 8, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

James Brunt creates elaborate ephemeral artworks using the natural materials he finds in forests, parks, and beaches near his home in Yorkshire, England. This form of land art, popularized and often associated with fellow Brit Andy Goldsworthy, involves detailed patterns, textures, and shapes formed using multiples of one kind of material. Brunt collects twigs, rocks, and leaves and arranges them in mandala-like spirals and concentric circles. He photographs his finished work to document it before nature once again takes hold of his materials. The artist frequently shares updates via Twitter and Facebook where he sometimes invites the public to join him as he works. Brunt also offers prints of his photographed artworks on his website.

  

 

 



Art

The Subverted Architecture and Twisted Objects of Alex Chinneck

February 8, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Birth, death, and a midlife crisis

British sculptor Alex Chinneck (previously) upends the steady, reliable nature of banal structures that we interact with every day through his architectural interventions. Overturned swaths of car parking lots, twisted broomstick handles, and inverted building facades are executed with such precise detail that it is difficult to determine where reality ends and surreality begins. Chinneck describes one particular piece to It’s Nice That as “sculpturally bold but contextually sensitive,” which seems an apt description of his entire body of work. You can see more on his website and Instagram. (via It’s Nice That)

Take my lighting but don’t steal my thunder

Take my lighting but don’t steal my thunder

Under the weather but over the moon

Broom

Telling the truth though false teeth

Telling the truth through false teeth

Pick yourself up and pull yourself together

Pick yourself up and pull yourself together

A bullet from a shooting star