with art history
“ME: An Exhibition of Contemporary Self-Portraiture” asks 22 contemporary artists to explore who they are and how they present themselves. Curated by Sugarlift and Juxtapoz contributing editor and Colossal contributor Sasha Bogojev, the exhibition presents each artists’ understanding of themselves and of the history of self-portraiture. Cesar Piette’s abstract blue face resembles dripping paint partially masked by glasses, while Prudence Flint portrays a woman napping on a pink bed next to a guitar. Many of the artists created their first self-portraits in years, if not ever, specifically for the show, which includes work from Aleah Chapin, Cesar Piette, and Christian Rex van Minnen, among others.
In a conversation with Colossal, Bogojov answered a few questions about contemporary culture and self-awareness, how they influence self-portraiture, and the ways current conceptions of identity show up in ME.
Colossal: How have perceptions of the self changed since the creation of such a selfie-obsessed culture?
Bogojev: Oh, that is a tough one and I’m certain there are papers if not books written on that subject. But I do feel that a selfie-obsessed culture created more self-awareness on different levels. For this show, in particular, I feel like lots of artists wanted to fight against the popular idea of “self” or what we know now as selfie, by presenting themselves imperfect, flawed, caricatured, even grotesque in some cases.
Colossal: Could you talk a little more about the intersections between psyche, mirror, and others that you see in contemporary self-portraiture?
Bogojev: Modern-day takes are rarely realistic renderings of one’s mirror image and are often including elements that suggest qualities beyond that. Whether playing with light, formatting, color scheme, or simply going away from realism completely, they often focus on the author’s character, emotions, and such. I like to believe that this show encompasses that really well with the variety of approaches and visual languages presented.
Colossal: So many conversations about identity center ideas of multiplicity, of people not having a singular self. How do you see that relating to the face and to self-portraits?
Bogojev: Exactly! I think this is what most artists nowadays are fully aware of and that is why they struggle to find the “right way” to create self-portraits or they create multiple versions of it. Again, I feel it’s the superficiality of selfie-culture that made them extra wary of how they present themselves without jeopardizing their integrity and practice. With their artwork being the most direct and honest way of communicating with the world, it is not easy for an artist to pick one image, or even concept, as a single representation of oneself. I think this is why the artists in ME built their self-portraits by layering different visuals (Van Minnen), assembling a variety of elements (Shiqing), creating an atmosphere they connect to (Flint, Toscani, Chapin), captured an intimate moment that describes them best (Erheriene-Essi, O’Brien).
ME is on view from January 16 to 30 at High Line Nine in New York. If you’re in the city on January 21, stop by for “The Self-Portrait: Antiquity to #Selfie,” a talk by art and culture critic and author Carlo McCormick, historian and Sotheby’s VP of Old Masters Painting Calvine Harvey, and contemporary painter Jenny Morgan.
Share this story
Artist Daniel Arsham (previously) re-envisions some of the most well-recognized sculptures of classical antiquity in Paris, 3020, his recent series of replications marred with lightly pigmented crystals. Both “Vénus de Milo” and Michelangelo’s “Moses” find their heads, arms, and torsos eroded in patches by blue calcite.
The New York-based artist spent a year inside the Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais, a 200-year-old French studio known for reproducing iconic European works, where he gathered molds and scans of busts, sculptures, and friezes from the collections of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, Acropolis Museum in Athens, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and the San Pietro in Vincoli. Arsham cast each recreated work in hydrostone—similar to wax casting—in order to produce the nearly exact replicas. The artist then chiseled the pieces, adding in his signature crystallization with volcanic ash, blue calcite, selenite, quartz, and rose quartz.
Paris, 3020 portrays Arsham’s exploration of the relationship between time and historically significant artifacts. “Making use of classical and ancient objects, this new body of work experiments with the timelessness of certain symbols,” said a release from Perrotin, where the exhibition will be on view from January 11 to March 21, 2020. Each sculpture is surrounded by series of graphite drawings depicting Ashram’s process in order order to “compress time, at once referencing the past, informing the present, and reaching towards a crystallized future.” Find more of Arsham’s time-warping projects on Instagram.
Share this story
Featuring 200 prints by 89 artists, Taschen’s new book Japanese Woodblock Prints (1680- 1983) is a journey through two centuries of the art form. Ranging from depictions of everyday life to kabuki and erotica, the XXL edition is a 622-page art history lesson and a high resolution visual compendium rolled into one.
For this tome, Taschen spent three years reproducing woodblock prints from museums and private collections from around the world. Written by Andreas Marks, head of the Japanese and Korean Art Department at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the book is divided chronologically into seven chapters beginning with the 17th century early masters and concluding with the Shin-hanga movement. Large, vibrant images of demons, villages, confidants, and landscapes fill the book’s pages, complemented by essays and captions that reveal more about the artists and techniques. There are 17 fold-outs, as well as a full appendix listing the artists, the titles of the woodblock prints, and editorial notes.
To add this comprehensive edition to your art book library, head over to Taschen.
Share this story
A recent finding in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is changing our conceptions of the origins of visual art. Fifteen researchers this week published an article in Nature describing prehistoric cave art that they believe was created about 43,900 years ago. The art depicts multiple therianthropes—mythical creatures that have both human and animal characteristics like beaks and tails—hunting wild pigs and cattle with spears. Traditionally, therianthropes were employed for sharing folklore, religious myths, and spiritual beliefs. Clear renderings of the creatures are uncommon, the report says. The oldest depiction previously recorded is a carved figurine with the head of a cat that originated in Germany and dates back nearly 40,000 years. These Indonesian findings also predate the Lascaux cave paintings found in France by about 20,000 years. “This hunting scene is—to our knowledge—currently the oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world,” the report said. (via Artnet)
Share this story
Ukrainian artist Alexey Kondakov (previously) lifts figures out of classical paintings and drops them into modern-day photographs. Elegantly posed in dynamic lighting, his figures commute on public transit, dance in nightclubs, and peek around corners in otherwise mundane digital collages. The juxtaposition of the two worlds is humorous and at times seamless in its execution.
Through placement and shadows, Kondakov’s images sell the idea that the classical figures are three-dimensional objects photographed in a three-dimensional world. An image from an upcoming nightlife series depicts a mostly nude woman in a unique pose that, in context, can be read as dancing. Other images from his ongoing “Daily Life of Gods” use architecture and landscapes to ground the painted figures in an alternate reality.
To see more of his period-blending collages, give Alexey Kondakov a follow on Instagram.
Share this story
Over the last five years, the Los Angeles-based Getty Museum has developed a program to share more than three hundred books in its Virtual Library. Each unabridged volume, drawn from the Getty Publications Archive, has been cleared for copyright issues and is available for free download. Greg Albers, Digital Publications Manager for Getty Publications, shared with Hyperallergic that books in the Virtual Library have been downloaded 398,058 times to date. The initiative is a way to keep compelling and historically important books available even if they have, literally, gone out of print. Topics in the Virtual Library collection range from fine and decorative art genres to features on specific artists. Dive into diverse titles including “Art and Eternity: The Nefertari Wall Paintings Conservation Project 1986 – 1992” and “Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs”—among dozens and dozens of others on the Virtual Library Website. (via Hyperallergic)
Share this story
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)
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.