History

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Art Documentary History

A New Hilma af Klint Documentary Explores the Abstract Artist’s Historical Legacy

April 15, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Kino Lorber

An effort to rewrite art historical timelines predominately shaped around men, a new documentary spotlights inventive Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862–1944). Beyond the Visible: Hilma af Klint considers her colorful, abstract artworks that predate those of widely recognized male artists, like Vasily KandinskyKazimir MalevichPiet Mondrian, Paul Klee, and Josef Albers. Directed by Halina Dyrschka, the corrective documentary follows the Guggenheim’s 2018 retrospective of the artist’s spiritual work that since has secured af Klint’s position as a pioneer of 20th-century art.

Dyrschka discovered the revolutionary artist’s work in 2013, quickly realizing that “here was a woman who consequently followed her own path in life that led to a unique oeuvre. A strong character and despite all restrictions Hilma af Klint explored the possibilities that go beyond the visible.” In addition to art history’s tendency to ignore women, the artist’s groundbreaking projects have been absent from historical discourse in part because she asked that her work not be shown until 20 years after her death.

Having interviewed af Klint’s relatives, historians, artists, and critics for the documentary, the German director is hoping to offer a comprehensive and amended version of af Klint’s legacy that transcends her bold paintings. Her “oeuvre goes even beyond art because she was looking for the whole picture of life,” Dyrschka said. “And with that she comes close to the one question: What are we doing here?”

Beyond the Visible will be available for streaming starting April 17. (via Artnet)

“Altarpiece No. 1” (1915), Altarpieces: Group X

“The Dove No. 2” (1914-1915), from Group IX

 

 



Art Design History

Artist Ruth Asawa’s Mesh Wire Sculptures Adorn New Stamps from USPS

April 7, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © United States Postal Service

Soon you’ll be able to mail a letter to a friend—or realistically, pay a bill—with a hint of art history. The United States Postal Service announced this week that it’ll be releasing 10 stamps inspired by renowned sculptor Ruth Asawa. The neutral-toned collection contains mostly her bulbous hanging pieces that appear to swell and contract in vertical lines.

Born in 1926, Asawa was forced into a Japanese internment camp by the U.S. government with her family during World War II. She learned to draw during her detainment, before eventually attending Black Mountain College, where she studied with Josef Albers and began to delve into wire weaving and sculpture. Later in her career, Asawa described her looped artworks as “a woven mesh not unlike medieval mail. A continuous piece of wire, forms envelop inner forms, yet all forms are visible (transparent). The shadow will reveal an exact image of the object.”

The forthcoming stamps feature photographs by Dan Bradica and Laurence Cuneo, with the selvage image taken by Nat Farbman for a 1954-issue of Life. To see more of Asawa’s wire works before you pick up the postal packet, check out the Instagram account that her estate manages. (via Artsy)

 

 



Art History

Build Your Own Kinetic Engines With These Mechanical Kits by Morris Models

April 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

For those inclined to tinker, Morris Models offers DIY kits that save an unused blender or noisy washing machine from relentless disassembly. Part historical prototype and part kinetic sculpture, Morris Models’s six laser-cut engines range in complexity and difficulty. For example, the Single Cylinder is a 50-piece, two-hour build that’s comparable to a lawnmower motor, while the WWI Rotary Engine includes 500 parts, can take up to 30 hours to complete, and is inspired by the French Clerget aircraft series that was popular in the early 1900s.

None of the Baltic-birch models are motorized, although the Illinois-based company says most can withstand the power of at least an 18-volt drill. Morris Models recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to upgrade its CNC cut shafting and offer more accurate designs, and you can back the project before April 5. Otherwise, pick up an older kit from its online shop.

“Opposed Aircraft”

“Wankel”

“Single Cylinder”

 

 



Art History

Art Museums and Cultural Institutions Around the Globe are Sending Each Other Virtual Bouquets and Botanicals

March 31, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Dear @mcachicago, Roses are red Violets are blue Your art is modern We love visiting you! #MuseumBouquet Tulip: Robert Thornton, Temple of Flora (1807)” —Field Museum

Social media was teeming last week with floral offerings from cultural institutions around the globe. Since many are closed due to COVID-19, museums like the Guggenheim, MCA Chicago, and the New-York Historical Society, which began the botanical trend, exchanged sweet messages paired with virtual bouquets from their current collections. We’ve gathered some of them here, but be sure to check out #MuseumBouquet on Twitter and Instagram for more historical florals. (via Design You Trust)

 

 

 

“A Klimt for a Klimt! Mäda Primavesi and her flowers send their regards to you, neighbor. Cherry blossomTwo hearts#MuseumBouquet” — The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

“To our Crimson friends @peabodymuseum –a Red trillium (Trillium erectum). These should begin blooming across New England in April. We hope this #MuseumBouquet is a reminder of better, brighter days ahead. #MuseumFromHome” —Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

 

 

“Hello to our lovely friends @hirshhorn, we hope this Tiffany lamp #MuseumBouquet shines bright in your feed today. We’re thinking of you! 💐” —New-York Historical Society

 

 

“Hi @Hirshhorn! Happy Tuesday. #FlowersforFriends” —Tate

 

 

 



Art History

Human Figures Removed from Classic Paintings by Artist José Manuel Ballester

March 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” (1498)

Despite being a couple of years old, José Manuel Ballester’s artworks feel eerily familiar in the time of COVID-19. The Spanish artist recreates classic paintings like Goya’s “The Third of May 1808,” Vermeer’s “The Allegory of Painting,” and Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” except he leaves out one central aspect: humans. Some of Ballester’s digital versions retain remnants of the former subjects, showing blood-covered ground marking the spot of a gruesome battle or even a faint outline of the sitter in an unfinished portrait. Other works, however, seem to exist simply on their own, offering a view of an empty gallery or a wreckage on rough waters.

In an interview with Bored Panda, Ballester said that while his Concealed Spaces series often is regarded as humorous, it has multiple meanings. “After a deeper look it’s not difficult to find transcendence and the multiple possible interpretations, both as new images and as related to their original counterparts,” he said.

One of the clearest aspects in this series is the way we can understand art from the point of view of each period, which has a unique way of looking and understanding reality shared by artists, who develop their creativity inside those period’s values and connect with ideas and universal precepts extended in time.

For more of Ballester’s digital creations that reconsider historical projects, check out his site. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

Diego Velázquez’s “Las Meninas” (1656)

Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” (c.1486)

Jan Vermeer’s “The Allegory of Painting” (1668)

Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” (1937)

Francisco Goya’s “The Third of May 1808” (1814)

Théodore Géricault’s “The Raft of Medusa” (1819)

 

 



Art Design History

A New Book Compiles an Expansive Collection of Gaudí’s Unorthodox Architectural Works

March 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Taschen, shared with permission

Known for transforming Barcelona’s architectural landscape, Antoni Gaudí famously combined nature, materiality, religion, and influences of Orientalism into a widely recognized aesthetic that’s captured in a new book from Taschen. Throughout more than 350 pages, Gaudí: The Complete Works encompasses the Catalan architect’s projects from the Casa Batlló to his first house, Casa Vicens, to his most recognized creation, the Sagrada Família. It features new and historical photographs, the architect’s plans and drawings, and an appendix of each of his projects—including buildings, furniture, decor, and even unfinished pieces.

With words by art critic Rainer Zerbst, the book considers the effects of Gaudí’s unconventional designs. “Like a personal tour through Barcelona, we discover how the ‘Dante of architecture’ was a builder in the truest sense of the word, crafting extraordinary constructions out of minute and mesmerizing details, and transforming fantastical visions into realities on the city streets,” a note about the text said. Grab a copy for yourself from Taschen’s site.

 

 



History Illustration

Artists Respond to the Coronavirus Outbreak by Flooding Social Media with a Japanese Yokai Said to Ward Off Epidemics

March 13, 2020

Grace Ebert

A Japanese legend dating back to the 1800s has been resurfacing across social media recently because of its tie to staving off epidemics. A three-legged mermaid or merman with long hair and beak, the Amabie falls within the tradition of the yōkai—which is a supernatural monster or spirit in Japanese culture— and is said to have appeared from the waters near Kumamoto. The mythical tale states that the scale-covered creature emerged from the sea to tell prophecies about the upcoming harvests and potential destruction from disease. In the case of an epidemic, the legend states that people are supposed to draw the Amabie and share it with everyone who is ill. In response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Twitter and Instagram are full of illustrations, pencil drawings, and wool sculptures of the mysterious figure. (via Spoon & Tamago)

by illustrator Satake Shunske

phone backgrounds by tettetextile

by artist, painter, and designer Abe Seiji

by manga artist Keiichi Tanaka

 

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