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Art

Elegantly Sculpted Busts by Massimiliano Pelletti Interpret Art History Through Imperfection

September 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Venus de Medici” (2020), pink onyx, 67 x 34 x 45 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

Italian artist Massimiliano Pelletti (previously) gravitates toward imperfection, and his practice revolves around transforming presumed defects like impurities, cracks, or chips into elegantly carved figures. Pink marble sliced to reveal the stone’s pillowy, crystalline insides bisects the artist’s interpretation of Venus de Medici, while in “Blue Venus,” marbled sodalite and Mexican white onyx are spliced together into a fully formed bust. Contrasting smooth segments with the rough texture of unpolished stone, Pelletti evokes art history and ancient sculpture traditions through the lens of flaw and fallibility.

This focus on the material determines much of the artist’s work—his studio is conveniently located in Pietrasanta near caves filled with the precious stones he utilizes—in addition to the way green onyx or black marble, for example, interacts with light. Understanding absorption, reflection, and illumination has grounded his practice and is a skill he’s developed for decades. He explains:

When I was a child, I used to go downstairs to my grandfather’s studio, and I could find him working marble, always next to the same window; from there, during certain hours, a magical light entered that could make the sculpture almost alive, with a soul. When I pointed it out to him, he answered me: “My dear, the light is so important. There are some works that should be sold with the window that lights them up”. 

Pelletti is currently working toward a solo show slated for May 2023 in London, in addition to a series of sculptures set for display in a public square in Italy. Until then, follow his practice on Instagram.

 

“Blue Horizon” (2022), sodalite and Mexican white onyx, 64 x 33 x 40 centimeters, 16-centimeter iron base. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Bowman Sculpture, London

“White Venus” (2022), Mexican white onyx, 173 x 31 x 43 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Galerie Bayart, Paris

“Green Hermes” (2022), green onyx, 177 x 26 x 26 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

“Le due Grazie” (2019), Mexican white onyx, 65 x 65 x 48 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

“Venus de Medici” (2020), pink onyx, 67 x 34 x 45 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

Detail of “Blue Horizon” (2022), sodalite and Mexican white onyx, 64 x 33 x 40 centimeters, 16-centimeter iron base. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Bowman Sculpture, London

“White Venus” (2022), Mexican white onyx, 173 x 31 x 43 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Galerie Bayart, Paris

 

 



Art Documentary History

‘Beyond the Visible,’ a Documentary Illuminating the Life and Work of Hilma af Klint, Is Free to Stream

September 21, 2022

Grace Ebert

Released in 2020, an acclaimed documentary serves as a corrective to the art historical record. Beyond the Visible spotlights the life and work of the pioneering Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), an obscure figure during her lifetime whose colorful abstract works predate those of famed male artists like Vasily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian. Directed by Halina Dyrschka, the feature-length documentary centers on af Klint’s groundbreaking practice and the spiritual, scientific, and natural phenomena that inspired her work.

Beyond the Visible is currently available to stream for free on Kino Lorber’s YouTube, which is a trove of art history and culture. To learn more about af Klint’s legacy and view her expansive oeuvre, pick up The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII. (via Open Culture)

 

 

 



Art Craft

Ancient Design Motifs Meet Contemporary Ceramics in Maxwell Mustardo’s Glowing Sculptures

September 14, 2022

Kate Mothes

All images © Maxwell Mustardo, shared with permission, courtesy of Culture Object and Jody Kivort

Gadrooning, an ornamental motif consisting of a series of tapered convex or concave curves, is derived from the decorative exteriors of Roman sarcophagi and antiquities. Renaissance artisans revisited it in the 16th century, and it re-emerged in the neoclassical revival of the 18th and 19th centuries. Referencing ancient designs and what he describes in a statement as the “broad, reverential notions of the vessel,” Maxwell Mustardo playfully examines the function of containers and earthenware over time.

In his gourd-like Gadroons and pudgy Anthropophorae—a series of bulging amphorae—a range of stippled lava glazes complement shocking hues or shimmering PVC coatings. Vibrant colors and swollen forms resemble balloons or 3D renderings displayed on a bright screen, and the resulting perception-bending, flocked-like surfaces make the pieces appear to be floating, wobbling, and glowing.

You can see Mustardo’s work at Culture Object through October 28 in a solo exhibition titled The Substance of Style. More information can also be found on his website and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Craft

A Cast of Articulate Cardboard Robots Populate a Growing Sci-Fi Universe Crafted by Greg Olijnyk

September 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Neil,” cardboard, LED lighting, and glass domes, 48 centimeters. All images by Griffin Simm, © Greg Olijnyk, shared with permission

Melbourne-based artist Greg Olijnyk continues to add to his troupe of sci-fi robots crafted from cardboard, LED lights, and glass details. The elaborately constructed characters are fully articulate and populate an ever-expanding futuristic world that’s slightly dystopic and always filled with adventure. His latest creations also include a nod to art history, with a sculptural interpretation of M.C. Escher’s stairs that features tiny robots within the mind-bending cube.

For a glimpse into Olijnyk’s process and to keep up with his works steeped in fantasy, head to Instagram.

 

“Neil,” cardboard, LED lighting, and glass domes, 48 centimeters

Detail of “Neil,” cardboard, LED lighting, and glass domes, 48 centimeters

“Escher Cube,” cardboard, 50 square centimeters

Detail of “Escher Cube,” cardboard, 50 square centimeters

Detail of “Escher Cube,” cardboard, 50 square centimeters

“Prototype 1,” cardboard, LED lighting, glass tubes and lenses, 45 centimeters

“Prototype 2,” cardboard, LED lighting, and glass lenses, 45 centimeters

“Prototype 2,” cardboard, LED lighting, and glass lenses, 45 centimeters

Detail of “Prototype 2,” cardboard, LED lighting, and glass lenses, 45 centimeters

 

 



Art

Metaphorical Portraits by Michael Mapes Deconstruct Art History as Collaged Specimens

August 30, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Blauw Girl” (2018), pinning foam, insect pins, photographs, specimen containers, glass vials, fabric samples, acrylic paint, beads, human hair, doll hair, gelatin capsules, canvas, cotton thread, and rope, 34 x 28 x 3.5 inches. All images © Michael Mapes, shared with permission

Photographs, scraps of fabric, human hair, dried flowers, and gelatin capsules are a few of the materials that artist Michael Mapes (previously) arranges into fragmented portraits and still lifes. Referencing traditions and prominent works in art history, Mapes interprets figures and fruits through deconstructed compositions. Set in specimen boxes evocative of those used in entomological studies, the collages utilize the metaphor of scientific study as a way to dismantle and reconstruct the contexts and meanings of the original works.

Mapes begins each piece with research around the subject matter and materials, and many of the artist’s most recent works center on muses, like fashion designer Emilie Louise Flöge who was the lifelong companion of Gustav Klimt. “I’ve been making studies, smaller scale works that allow me to consider compositional approaches for larger pieces,” he says about the series. “It connects the past to the present in a very personal way. A muse vibe is inspired by mining art history to find subjects that resonate with me and my work process.”

Mapes, who is based in Hudson Valley, has a few works currently available, which you can find on his site and Instagram.

 

Detail of “Blauw Girl” (2018), pinning foam, insect pins, photographs, specimen containers, glass vials, fabric samples, acrylic paint, beads, human hair, doll hair, gelatin capsules, canvas, cotton thread, and rope, 34 x 28 x 3.5 inches

“Dutch Agatha” (2019), photographs, fabric samples, painted photographs, botanical specimens, spices, tea, tobacco, coffee, cast resin, clay, thread, hair, insect pins, capsules, specimen bags, and magnifying boxes, 20 x 20 x 3.5 inches

“HdP 02” (2016), pinning foam, canvas, acrylic, photographs, plastic containers, resin, fabric, gel capsules, and beads, 28 x 23 x 3 inches

Detail of “HdP 02” (2016), pinning foam, canvas, acrylic, photographs, plastic containers, resin, fabric, gel capsules, and beads, 28 x 23 x 3 inches

“Clelia” (2021), prints, photo prints, costume jewelry, fabric, hair, dried flowers, specimen bags, insect pins, gelatin capsules, thread, misc printed elements, 23 x 28 x 3.5 inches

Detail of “Clelia” (2021), prints, photo prints, costume jewelry, fabric, hair, dried flowers, specimen bags, insect pins, gelatin capsules, thread, misc printed elements, 23 x 28 x 3.5 inches

“Still Life specimens P4” (2021), archival prints, insect pins, map pins, magnifying boxes, specimen bags, dried fruit, and seeds, 12 x 12 x 3.5 inches

Detail of “Still Life specimens P4” (2021), archival prints, insect pins, map pins, magnifying boxes, specimen bags, dried fruit, and seeds, 12 x 12 x 3.5 inches

 

 



Art Photography

Sports and Art History Team Up in a Playful Twitter Account That Matches Life and Art

August 10, 2022

Grace Ebert

Top: “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” (1675) by Mattia Preti. Bottom: Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photo. All images courtesy of ArtButMakeItSports, shared with permission

What do an injured Kelley O’Hara and “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” by Italian Baroque artist Mattia Preti have in common? The exasperated soccer star and 1675 religious masterpiece find unexpected synchronicity thanks to LJ Rader, the creator behind the wildly popular meme account ArtButMakeItSports.

Since 2015, Rader has been cleverly pairing photos from professional sports with art historical works. What began as a personal project that involved visits to museums and some of the week’s most intensely emotional images from soccer matches or basketball games has evolved into Twitter and Instagram accounts with considerable followings.  “At first, it was starting with the art and then thinking about what it could be if it were sports,” he says. “As time went on, I realized the ones that resonated the most were the mashups—and using sports images that were in the moment/news cycle played the best.” A running Megan Rapinoe might imitate Apollo chasing Daphne, for example, or a long, lean leg might evoke that of an Alberto Giacometti sculpture.

 

Left: A photo of Bill Russell by Dick Raphael. Right: Patrick Henry (1775), Panel 1 from “Struggle Series” by Jacob Lawrence (1955)

Beyond the obvious visual similarities, though, Rader’s mashups tend to go a step further as they masterfully draw the two seemingly diametric fanbases and cultures together. One comparison features an image of the late Celtics player Bill Russell and Jacob Lawrence’s Struggle Series, for example, because both the basketball great and American painter were highly active in civil rights work.

Now numbering upwards of 1,000, the all-star pairings are an internet sensation in their own right, and ultimately, Rader’s goal is to dive into “what art means and (explore) the intersection of culture between two sides—art and sports—that rarely meet.”

 

Top: Photo by Tom Stillman. Bottom: “Christ Healing the Blindman” (1725-30) by Gerardus Duyckinck I

Right: “Neptune and Amphitrite” (1691-94) by Sebastiano Ricci

Top: “Apollo pursuing Daphne” (1616-18) by Domenichino and assistants. Bottom: Photo by Nikita

Right: “L’Homme qui marche II” (1960) by Alberto Giacometti

Bottom: “Abstraktes Bild (649-2)” (1987) by Gerhard Richter

 

 

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