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Art

A Massive Seven-Volume Collection Chronicles the Pioneering Legacy of Abstract Artist Hilma af Klint

February 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Bokförlaget Stolpe, shared with permission

Following a wildly successful retrospective at the Guggenheim in 2018, Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) has firmly secured her place as a groundbreaking figure in abstract art. In recent years, her colorful, spiritually-minded body of work has reshaped art historical timelines, supplanting male artists like Vasily KandinskyPiet MondrianPaul Klee, and Josef Albers, who have long been regarded as the pioneers of the 20th-century movement.

Throughout her lifetime, the prolific Swedish artist created more than 1,600 works, an impressive output now collected in Hilma AF Klint: The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII. Published by Bokförlaget Stolpe, the seven-volume series is organized both chronologically and by theme, beginning with the spiritual sketches af Klint made in conjunction with The Five, a group of women who attended séances in hopes of obtaining messages from the dead. These clairvoyant experiences impacted much of her work, which the books explore in her most famous series, The Paintings for the Temple, in addition to her geometric studies, watercolor pieces, and more occasional portraits and landscapes.

“What makes her art interesting is that the works are highly interconnected. A catalogue raisonné is necessary in order to see the different cycles, motifs, and symbols that recur in a fascinating way,” said Daniel Birnbaum, who co-edited the volumes with Kurt Almqvist. Each book is around 200 pages with hundreds of illustraitons.

The first three volumes are available now on Bookshop, where you also can pre-order the entire collection, and the remaining four are slated for release later this year. You also might enjoy Beyond the Visible, a 2020 documentary exploring af Klint’s iconic legacy. (via Artnet)

 

 

 



Art Documentary History

'Black Art: In the Absence of Light,' a New Documentary, Celebrates the Rich Legacy of Black Art

February 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

“I saw the need to build cultural awareness by helping to revise and redefine American art,” says the renowned professor, artist, and curator David Driskell in Black Art: In the Absence of Light. His words echo throughout the new HBO documentary—which was directed by Sam Pollard, with executive producers Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Jacqueline Glover—that uncovers the rich and underappreciated lineage of Black art.

Structured chronologically, the feature-length film was released earlier this month and stems from Driskell’s revolutionary exhibition Two Centuries of Black American Art, which opened in 1979 at LACMA and surveyed more than 200 works dating back to 1750 from 63 artists. The formative show went on to major museums in Dallas, Atlanta, and Brooklyn, breaking attendance records despite its unenthusiastic response from some critics and institutions, including two in Chicago and Detroit that rejected its visit entirely.

 

David Driskell in his studio

Two Centuries of Black American Art, though, had a widespread and profound impact, which the documentary explores through interviews with artists working today. Many conversations begin with Driskell, who died last April from the coronavirus before Black Art‘s release. The film probes a vast archive from Chicago artists like Kerry James Marshall (previously) and Theaster Gates (previously), alongside Amy Sherald (previously), Kehinde Wiley (previously), and Jordan Casteel, among others.

Through a multi-generational lens, the documentary examines the nuanced effects of these figures’ contributions to the broader field of contemporary American art as it shares footage of their practices and reactions to their works. For example, Fred Wilson unveils what’s hidden within museum collections, while Wiley and Sherald both comment on the profound experience of painting the Obamas’ official portraits. Additional insights from Studio Museum director and chief curator Thelma Golden, who also is a consulting producer, are woven throughout the film.

 

Amy Sherald working on Michelle Obama’s portrait

Beyond galleries and museums, much of Black Art centers on the value of representation and unearthing a narrative that’s been obscured or outright dismissed. In particular, it considers the role of collectives like Sprial, which was founded in 1963 by Romare Bearden and Norman Lewis in order to highlight the work generated by Black artists in the Civil Rights Movement. While Sprial drew attention to otherwise ignored projects, it was largely dominated by men, a problem Faith Ringgold speaks to as she describes being rejected from the group. Sprial only admitted one woman, Emma Amos.

The final segment focuses on the importance of collectors investing in Black artists, in addition to the long history of spaces like Studio Museum and historically Black colleges and universities. These institutions continue to foster communities that honor the legacy of those who’ve come before while backing those forging new ground, prompting questions like this one from Theaster Gates: “We are part of a continued renaissance—it’s been happening. What I’m most excited about is, do we have the capacity to be great makers in the absence of light?”

Black Art is streaming on HBO Max through March 17. Educators also can download a coinciding curriculum with research tools and discussion prompts, in addition to another filled with activities designed to spur creativity.

 

Kerry James Marshall in his studio

 

 



Art Photography

Explore Vermeer's ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ in Incredible Detail with an Interactive 10-Billion Pixel Panorama

January 21, 2021

Grace Ebert

Last year, researchers released records from nearly two years of analysis of Johannes Vermeer’s most-recognized artwork, “Girl With a Pearl Earring.” While their findings didn’t include the subject’s highly sought-after identity, they did reveal that the gray backdrop is actually a dark green curtain and that the figure has eyelashes only visible with magnification. Thanks to Emilien Leonhardt and Vincent Sabatier, of Hirox Europe, we all can study the intricacies of Vermeer’s elusive work and peer directly into the paint cracks with an interactive 10-billion pixel panorama.

The duo began the undertaking to determine the surface condition of the iconic piece after multiple restorations, measure the space between the fractured pigments, and elucidate the artist’s technique. Using a custom microscope, Leonhardt and Sabatier took 9,100 photographs of the painting that were then woven together into the massive panorama. It reveals particulars down to 4.4-microns per pixel.

Head to Hirox Europe’s site to explore the incredible intricacies of “Girl With a Pearl Earring” in both 2- and 3-D, and watch the video above for details into the technical aspects of capturing minuscule details. (via Peta Pixel)

 

 

 



Art

60,000 Bees Recreate the Nefertiti Bust and Other Classic Sculptures in Wax with Artist Tomáš Libertíny

January 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Eternity” (2019-2020), natural beeswax, wood, glass, Cor-ten steel, 230 x 100 x 100 centimeters. All images © Tomáš Libertíny, shared with permission

Tomáš Libertíny prefers to collaborate when recreating iconic busts and sculptures, although his chosen partners don’t join him in the studio. The Slovakia-born artist tasks tens of thousands of bees with forming the porous outer layers of classic artworks like the “Nefertiti Bust,” Michelangelo’s “Brutus,” and a large jug based on the “Nolan amphora” at The Met.

Encased in honeycomb, the resulting sculptures generate a dialogue between the newly produced organic material and art historical subject matter. Libertíny’s “Eternity,” for example, is based on a 3D model of the original portrait of Nefertiti and is “a testament to the strength and timelessness of the ‘mother nature’ as well as its ancient character as a powerful female reigning against the odds.” Similarly, the artist’s “Brutus” rests on a Coca Cola crate, a reference to Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, although his iteration diverges from the original as it questions “the fragility of fate and finding salvation” in modern times.

 

“Brutus” (2020), natural beeswax, wood, plastic, 160 x 70 x 60 centimeters

Currently based in Rotterdam, Libertíny provides professional beekeepers with a frame that the insects then colonize during the course of months and in the case of “Eternity,” two years. “I have to guide the building growth like you would with a bonsai, slowly string(ing) the workflow into places where you deem ideal,” he says. “The final result is always a surprise as it is not something you can completely predict like would with traditional craft techniques. It happens that I have to look at the finished piece for a couple of days in order to appreciate it fully.”

Beeswax as a material is inherently contradictory, the artist notes, because of its simultaneous ephemerality and durability—Libertíny’s sculptures have the potential to remain intact for thousands of years if maintained properly—a duality he’s been exploring since he began the Made by Bees series in 2005. “A beeswax candle is for me the best example of pure design. Absolutely nothing is styled about it. Everything about is a science of keeping the flame burning,” he says, explaining that the candle served as a catalyst for the ongoing series.

If you’re in Amsterdam, “Eternity” is currently on view as part of Libertíny’s solo show at Rademakers Gallery through January 30. Otherwise, follow the artist’s sculptures that explore contradiction and ephemerality on Instagram. For a similarly collaborative project, check out Ava Roth’s honeycomb-encased works. (via designboom)

 

“Eternity” (2019-2020), natural beeswax, wood, glass, Cor-ten steel, 230 x 100 x 100 centimeters

“Eternity” (2019-2020), natural beeswax, wood, glass, Cor-ten steel, 230 x 100 x 100 centimeters

“Brutus” (2020), natural beeswax, wood, plastic, 160 x 70 x 60 centimeters

“The Honeycomb Amphora” (2020), natural beeswax, museum glass, wood, re-used beehives
, 47 x 42 x 147 centimeters

“The Honeycomb Amphora” (2020), natural beeswax, museum glass, wood, re-used beehives
, 47 x 42 x 147 centimeters

 

 



Art

An Undulating Sculpture Recreates Hokusai's 'Great Wave' in 50,000 LEGO Pieces

December 14, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Jumpei Mitsui, shared with permission

Japan-based artist Jumpei Mitsui is one of just 21 LEGO Certified Professionals in the world—this means his full-time job is to create artworks with the plastic building blocks—and is the youngest of the renowned group. He’s fulfilled this title most recently with a sculptural recreation of Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” During the course of 400 hours, Mitsui snapped together 50,000 cobalt and white LEGO into an undulating wave that mimics the original woodblock print.

To recreate this iconic work in three-dimensions, Mitsui studied videos of waves crashing and pored over academic papers on the topic. He then sketched a detailed model before assembling the textured water, three boats, and Mount Fuji that span more than five feet.

If you’re in Osaka, Mitsui’s wave is on view permanently at the Hankyu Brick Museum. Otherwise, find a decade’s worth of the artist’s LEGO tutorials on YouTube, and follow his work on Twitter and Instagram. (via Spoon & Tamago)

 

 

 



Art Design

Grab a Pair of Socks Emblazoned with Masterpieces from Art History

July 25, 2020

Grace Ebert

Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave”

Most people probably would prefer that their acquaintances’ socks stay firmly tucked in their shoes, but a glimpse at one of Curator’s pairs might be an exception. The Portugal-based company designs cotton garments printed with variations of iconic artworks or designs constructed from their familiar color palettes—think Pieter Bruegel’s “Tower of Babel,” Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss,” and Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” Check out the full collection and pick up a pair on Curator’s site, and follow the latest designs on Instagram.

 

Pieter Bruegel’s “Tower of Babel”

Left: Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” Right: Caravaggio’s “Medusa”

Wassily Kandinsky’s “Jaune-Rouge-Bleu”

Left: C.M. Coolidge’s “A Friend in Need”.” Right: Paul Klee’s “Insula Dulcamara”

Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss”