History

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Art History Illustration

Salvador Dalí’s Surreal Tarot Card Designs from the 1970’s to be Released as a Complete Deck

November 8, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

The surrealist master Salvador Dalí often dabbled in modes of mainstream culture, whether designing wine guides, appearing on game shows, or—in this instance—designing a deck of tarot cards for a James Bond film. Dalí undertook the project in the early 1970’s for Live and Let Die, starring Roger Moore and Jane Seymour. The deck didn’t end up appearing in the film, apparently due to Dalí’s high fees, but the artist continued to work on the cards for a decade and completed them in 1984. Art book publisher Taschen is releasing the deck, along with an instructional book that Dalí made to accompany it. Dalí.Tarot will be published on November 15, 2019, and is available for preorder on the Taschen website. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 

 



Design History

A Yellow Brick Road is Paved in Chicago to Mark Former Home of ‘Wizard of Oz’ Author L. Frank Baum

November 4, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Photographs: Bickerdike

Follow the yellow brick road to 1667 N. Humboldt Boulevard in Chicago. The address is home to recently rehabbed affordable housing in the rapidly gentrifying Humboldt Park neighborhood. It’s also where author L. Frank Baum penned “The Wizard of Oz” in 1899 (though the author’s residence has since been demolished). The 70-foot long section of sidewalk is now paved with yellow bricks, a nod to one of the most famous stories in American popular culture, thanks to nonprofit developer Bickerdike. An upright rounded wall will also feature an Oz-themed mural commission from Chicago-based artist Hector Duarte.

In an interview with Block Club Chicago, Bickerdike clarified that the whimsical touches were not part of the core affordable housing budget; the project partners including the architect, general contractor, an an outside foundation paid for it out of pocket. (via Block Club Chicago)

 

 



Art History

Collages of Thousands of Strangers Convey the Vast Scale of Memory and Death

October 29, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

In his series Chronicle: Passing (6,393 Per Hour), artist Greg Sand creates analog super-edits of the repeated patterns found in old photographs. Drapery, flowers, shoes, shadows, hands, and faces are homed in on and grouped into enormous grids, representing the simultaneous enormity and specificity of human death. As the series’ title notes, approximately 6,393 people around the world die every hour. Each small black-and-white or sepia-toned image is from an ambiguous past era, though hairstyles and clothing offer clues to every individual’s specific moment in time.

Sand tells Colossal that the biggest challenge was collecting all the images he needed; he relied on eBay and local antique stores to source the thousands of old photographs. Using a half inch or one inch punch, Sand framed each visual element in a small square, and arranged them manually. “I was intrigued by the interactions of the various textures, values, and colors that developed,” Sand explains. “I found my eye bouncing around from light to dark, from matte to glossy, from bright to dull, from textured to smooth. The pieces became like pixelated masses from a distance that required getting very close to discover each image individually.”

Sand explains that he hopes the series sparks a reflection in the viewer on how memories fragment. Childhood recollections may focus on specific details like the clothing or gestures of a loved one. “Photographs function in a similar manner. They do not show a whole person or an entire life, but instead capture a single moment,” Sand says. “These keepsakes help determine some of the pieces of memory that stick with us.”

See the artist’s work in person at Momentum Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina in the exhibition Small Works | Big Impact, which opens November 14, 2019.

 

 



Art History

A 21 Foot-Long Painting of The Last Supper by 16th Century Nun and Artist Plautilla Nelli Has Just Been Painstakingly Restored

October 24, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

In the 1500’s self-taught artist and nun Plautilla Nelli created a life-size mural of Jesus and the twelve apostles at the Last Supper. Spanning 21 feet feet, the vibrantly colored painting includes carefully rendered details including wine chalices, salt cellars, wood panelling, and a rhythmically creased tablecloth. In addition to the inanimate objects depicted, Nelli demonstrated impressive facility with human anatomy in her renderings of the religious figures—at the time, women were barred from studying the field of anatomy.

Nelli’s masterpiece stayed for two centuries at her convent, Santa Caterina, and then changed locations a few times before being unstretched, rolled, and put in storage about a hundred years ago. After an initial restoration and then additional damage due to flooding in the 1960’s, The Last Supper has been undergoing restoration for the past four years. Brought back to life by an all-female team of curators, restorers, and scientists at Advancing Women Artists, it is now on permanent display at the Santa Maria Novella Museum in Florence, Italy. (via artnet, Smithsonian Magazine)

 

 



History Illustration Science

All 435 Illustrations from John J Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’ Are Available for Free Download

October 22, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Pinnated Grouse, plate 186

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to download free high resolution images of 435 bird illustrations, you’re finally in the right place. The National Audubon Society has recently made John James Audubon’s seminal Birds of America available to the public in a downloadable digital library (signing up for their email list is a prerequisite).

Birds of America was printed between 1827 and 1838, and was filled prints created from hand-engraved plates based on Audubon’s original watercolor paintings. In addition to the prints, each bird’s page also includes a recording of the animal’s call, plus extensive written texts from the period of the book’s printing.

Audubon is widely lauded as the individual who brought an awareness and appreciation of birds’ beauty and fragility; the National Audubon Society has been active since 1905. Explore more of the Society’s current conservation efforts, as well as ways to get involved, on their website. (via Open Culture)

Roseate Spoonbill, plate 321

American Magpie, plate 357

Sharp-tailed Finch, plate 149

Sooty Tern, plate 235

Summer, or Wood Duck, plate 206

Spotted Grouse, plate 176

American Flamingo, plate 431

 

 



Art Craft History

Discarded Ceramic Shards Are Celebrated in Multi-Part Assemblages by Conservator and Artist Bouke de Vries

October 18, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Bouke de Vries works with ceramic assemblage to reinterpret historical pottery in multi-part sculptures. The Dutch artist studied at the prestigious Central St. Martin’s in London and worked in high fashion before pivoting to ceramics conservation and restoration in the early 1990’s, which he learned at West Dean College. Confronting the moral dilemmas around valuation of imperfect artifacts in his vocational practice, de Vries challenges the value of imperfection, damage, and cultural history in his exploded artworks.

Broken blue willow plates amalgamate into a map of China, a shattered turquoise vase finds a new function as the contents of a clear glass vessel, and small shards of porcelain become the thorns on a blossoming rose. In a statement on his website, the artist explains:

Instead of hiding the evidence of this most dramatic episode in the life of a ceramic object, he emphasizes their new status, instilling new virtues, new values, and moving their stories forward… Where even an almost invisible hairline crack, a tiny rim chip or a broken finger render a once-valuable object practically worthless, literally not worth the cost of restoring. There’s something incongruous about the fact that such an object, although still imbued with all the skills it took to make it – be it first-period Worcester, Kang-xi or Sevres – can so easily be consigned to the dustbin of history.

De Vries’s work has clearly struck a chord with viewers: he exhibits widely and in 2019 alone has shown work at Hillwood House in Washington, Mesher Gallery in Instanbul, The Museum of Fine Art in Montgomery, Alabama, the Kuntsi Museum in Vaasa, Finland, the Museum of Royal Worcester, and at the Taiwan Ceramics Biennale in Yingge, Taiwan. The artist is represented by galleries in The Netherlands, U.S., and U.K. Explore more of de Vries’s work and stay up-to-date on his latest exhibitions via Instagram. (via The Jealous Curator)

 

 



Documentary History

Watch Art Conservator Diana Hartman Painstakingly Re-Weave and Patch a Century-Old Canvas

September 30, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Step into the conservation and restoration studios at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in this short documentary following the restoration of a 1907 painting. Featuring conservator Diana Hartman, the video follows Hartman’s problem-solving, tool acquisition, and hands-on work. The hundred year-old canvas, painted by Paula Modersohn-Becker, is unusual in that it is still on its original wood stretchers, and was presumably stretched by the artist herself. This also presents some complex logistical hurdles, as normally a canvas on non-original stretchers would simply be removed from its wooden structural support for repairs. After several months of planning the repair, Hartman re-weaves the canvas using eye surgery needles and tones a custom-shaped canvas patch with precisely matched watercolors.

MoMA reopens to the public on October 21, 2019, after several months of extensive renovations and expansions, including two new ground-floor galleries that are free to visit. (via The Kid Should See This)