The economy may be turning around again (what is it is now, the third time in a year or fourth?) but the Art world seems to be talking about nothing but death & loss.
First off you have the well publicized and it seems anticipated Kanye West music video for his single “Power” which is being described as “apocalyptic” “dark, personal conflict” & “beautiful death”. With the video directed by artist Marco Brambilla who has a habit of creating work with a strong bent towards monolitic, time lapse laiden video art with a dark dramatic stuttering low light quality it will be interesting to see how it turned out.
For me music videos have been on kind of a artistic hiatis since Chicago’s own Mark Romanek moved to feature films. It seemed his departure timed well with the crash of the industry and music videos have been on a healthy but slow DYI recovery since then largely.
Requiem for Kodachrome
Kodak has been singing the executioners song for Kodachrome slide processing for some time but the last roll was made a while back and given to the well known photojournalist and National Geographic regular Steve McCurry. That roll is currently being processed in the sole remaining processing studio Dwayne’s Photo Service in Parsons, KS. What will it have on it again no one know but if it is in style with the current visual theme for 2010 it will have a skull in it (skulls have been everywhere since Art Basel Miami Beach, more things change the more they stay the same). Read more here
Ellen Bows Out Of American Idol
I don’t watch the show personally but I do know there are two things the art wold in general loves to do. One, bemoan the pointlessness of “Work of Art” on Bravo (as if an art reality competition ever had a hope at quality or legitimacy? seriously?) and Second talking about American Idol (two years ago it was Mad Men but no one seems to remember that show now?). So now that Simon has left Ellen is not reup-ing for a second year. Rumor is J-Lo will be on the table Read more here
That Dark Shadowy Figure Caravaggio Keeps Getting Press
For the last three years Caravaggio (who I admit I do love) keeps getting press touting his mastery and forward thinking when it came to composition and cinematic intimacy now is no different. Read more here
[insert outrage here] garnish with 28 works by artists such as Tracey Emin, Duncan Grant, and Lee Miller Read more here
Ansel Adams Estate Fights Man Who Bought Negatives At Yard Sale
The estate of Ansel Adams (Adams’ grandson Matthew Adams) contests that negatives are almost worthless unless the hand of the artist is used to make prints, so basically by that logic art restoration damages work since even though it continues the outline set by the artist it is not the true hand of the artist. Glad to see Matthew Adams isn’t sour or anything. Read more here
Time like Ming the Merciless, tyrant of the doomed planet Mongo, catches up with everyone and not even Flash Gordon can rescue you from it’s clutches. Al Williamson the Artist that helped bring more comic characters to fame then you can count passed away Saturday June 12th in upstate New York, his wife, Cori, recently released. He was 79.
Williamson the milti award, two time Eisner award winner (1996, 1997) worked from the 1950′s steadily till his retirement in 1999 illustrating everything from Flash Gordon to Secret Agent Corrigan to what personally was my first comic his work bringing Luke Skywalker to the illustrated page. If Williamson wasn’t making some of the best penciling even before there were such companies as Marvel or DC Comics he was inking the work of other great artists like Jack Kirby. While other artists were thinking about shadow, volume and representing the human figure in dramatic 2d space (even Kirby who’s early work when compared to Williamson is dramatically different) Al Williamson was executing that with unparalleled skill and complex sensitivity.
“He was one of the more sublimely talented artists to work in mainstream comics, His men were handsome, his women were beautiful, and the landscapes he drew — alien or westerns or battlefields — always seemed lushly authentic. He made panels you could lose yourself in.”
said Tom Spurgeon, editor of the online magazine Comics Reporter.
Alfonso Williamson born March 21, 1931 in Manhattan, one of two children of Sally and Alfonso Williamson. His Scottish father, was a citizen of Colombia, and soon after his son was born the family moved to Bogotá.
At the age of 9, his mother took him to his first movies which he saw a chapter in the “Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe” serial, was sold and immediately started sketching scenes from memory when he got home.
The family returned to New York when Alfonso was 13. He took classes at the School of Visual Arts (then called Cartoonists and Illustrators School in Manhattan), and was later hired by EC Comics.
Mr. Williamson’s first wife, the former Arlene Sattler, died in 1977. In addition to his wife of 32 years, the former Cori Pasquier, he is survived by his sister, Liliana Gonzalez Williamson; a daughter, Valerie Lalor; and a son, Victor.
Al Williamson was a pioneer in countless ways in defining comics as we know them today and will be greatly missed.
Getty Trust President and former Art Institute of Chicago Director James N. Wood died late Friday night of natural causes. Mr. Wood, age 69, was reportedly in good health and his death was unexpected. Board chairman Mark S. Siegel announced Saturday:
We are deeply saddened to announce that J. Paul Getty Trust President and CEO James N. Wood has passed away suddenly of natural causes.
Jim was internationally recognized as a leader in the arts. His passion for the visual arts and quiet, yet firm leadership were a perfect fit for the Getty. We were able to entice Jim to come to the Getty out of retirement, after 25 years as the head of the Art Institute of Chicago, and in just a little over three years under Jim’s leadership, the Getty moved forward in significant ways toward a renewed and strengthened mission.
Jim valued collaboration, and he reinforced that value at the Getty. Working with the Board, Jim led a strategic planning process that emphasized ways in which the Getty’s four programs could work together to further enhance the institution’s already strong worldwide reputation. He also saw the Getty as a catalyst to encourage Los Angeles’ many outstanding visual arts institutions to collaborate, strengthening our region’s stature as a major cultural center.
He was a private man, who acted with great kindness, strength, and dignity. The Board and the Getty’s entire staff mourn his loss, and we extend our deepest sympathy to Jim’s wife, Emese, their daughters Lenke and Rebecca, and their families.
Wood served as director and president of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1980-2004, after which he retired with his wife Emese to Rhode Island before his appointment as President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust in December 2006. He assumed his position as CEO in February 2007, after an extensive search conducted by the Board of Trustees.
Prior to directing the Art Institute of Chicago, Wood was the director of The St. Louis Art Museum (1975-1980), an adjunct professor of art history at SUNY at Buffalo and associate director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. He also held positions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Wood sat on the boards of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, the Harvard University Art Museums, and the Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design. He was also president of the board of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.
Wood, 69, received his B.A. with honors in Art History from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. and his M.A. from the Institute for Fine Arts at New York University. He also holds a diploma from the University for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy. Wood’s areas of specialization included European paintings and sculpture of the 16th to 20th centuries, American painting and sculpture of the 19th to 20th centuries, and photography.
Arrangements are pending.
Her collection of work is widely known, diverse, fun and she will be missed.
Louise who was inducted into the U.S. National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2009 is survived by two sons, Alain & Jean Louis, as well as by two grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Her husband and a third son, Michel, predeceased her.
I have always longed to play an old-style D&D role playing game “live,” as it were, ever since I was a kid and saw that TV movie starring Tom Hanks called Mazes and Monsters (any of you old enough to remember it?). In it, Tom played a troubled game nerd who, along with his game-nerd friends (including a chick, which was cool for those times), found these secret deep twisty caves and decided to role-play Dungeons and Dragons in them, like for real. They all got totally obsessed by the game but in the end, poor Tom went crazy and had to be institutionalized because he literally got lost in the game world, unable to tell what was real and what was pretend. Because I want to share the absolute and utter amazingness of this movie with y’all, I grace you with this clip:
So anyway, I came across Brody Condon‘s work a few weeks ago on the L.A.-based experimental media blog Blur + Sharpen (written by the incredibly gifted writer and super-smart maven of medias old and new, Holly Willis, a former classmate of mine at USC’s School of Cinema Television from way back when) and I’ve been fascinated with it ever since, largely because it seems to tap into a lot of the crazy that Tom was suffering from in the movie, that desire to transcend dull reality and experience something visionary and heroic, but Condon projects this desire into the era of video games rather than the book, paper and pen way of playing RPG’s.
Condon is an American artist born in 1974 in Mexico, and is currently based in New York. His 2008 DVD Without Sun is a 15 minute compilation of footage found on the Internet of various random people tripping HARD on psychedelic substances. Condon’s website describes the piece’s focus as on “the exterior surface of the ‘projection of self’ into visionary worlds,” noting that it was named after Chris Marker’s classic video work Sans Soleil. Click on the image below to be taken to Condon’s website and a brief clip of the video. If you’re in Los Angeles this weekend, you can check out a live performance on July 18th at Machine Project that features two actors recreating scenes from Condon’s video.
Death Animations is a three hour performance that also took place at Machine Project. Inspired by Bruce Naumann’s 1973 work “Tony Sinking into the Floor, Face Up and Face Down”, it featured nine dancers wearing video game type armor who recreate Naumann’s performance in slo-mo as “high volume binaural beats” play in the background, apparently in an effort to induce some form of out-of-body experience among the audience and/or participants. (Click images below to be taken to a performance excerpt).
And Condon’s Suicide Solution, 2004, is a compilation of suicide scenes from various first- and third-person video games. (Click image for video clip).
But what seems far coolest of all to me is this massive performance piece organized by Condon, titled TwentyFiveFoldManfestation and performed for three days straight at SonsbeekLive in the Netherlands. From the website:
“Combining the fantasy Live Action Role-Playing (LARP) subculture, public sculpture, and ritualistic performance art, Twentyfivefold was a series of physically and psychologically intense live games involving 80 players which evolved over the Summer of 2008. The events were organized by the artist Brody Condon for the Sonsbeek International public sculpture exhibition in the Netherlands.
Set in a distant future where civilization as we know it had almost been lost, players from different worlds met deep in the holy forest and inhabited a 40 feet high tower “in character” for 3 days at a time while worshiping invented deities embodied by the other artworks of the exhibition.”
Here’s a short clip documenting the performance:
Looks kind of amazing, right? If Condon ever wants to organize something like that in Chicago I am so there. Strangely, I see echoes of Mazes and Monsters in Condon’s project. Going back to real life must feel pretty sucky after playing a fully immersive game like that. I wonder if any of the participants went crazy afterwards, unable to come down from the high of worshiping the broken mirror god. I’d be willing to take the risk.