Oldřich Kulhánek

Lithographs by Oldřich Kulhánek

Born  in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1940, Oldřich Kulhánek was a graphic designer, painter, illustrator, and stage designer. He graduated in 1964 from the Prague Academy of Applied Arts, in the atelier of graphic artist and muralist Karel Svolinský.  At the time of his graduation, he had produced a series of illustrations to Vladimir Holan’s poetic work “Dreams” and poet Christian Morgenstern’s “The Gallows Songs”.  

Kulhánek had his first solo exhibition in Prague in 1968. He captured the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in that year in a series of allegorical drawings, which included pictures of Stalin and other communist dignitaries. These twelve prints made their way to the West, and were exhibited at the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan.

Kulhánek’s prominence among the dissidents in the Communist Era led to his arrest in 1971 by the State Security Police. His allegorical images of Stalin, Mao Zedong, andKhrushchev were judged slanderous and led to charges of ‘slandering a fraternal Soviet State’..  The images,, which included a distorted portrait of Stalin,  were deemed ideologically dangerous and destroyed. After a month in prison,  Kulhánek was banned from exhibiting his work in his home country and interrogated regularly for two years.

“I remember one interrogation by the secret police, when one idiot kept screaming at me. He wanted to know who Hieronymus Bosch was,  where he worked and how I had met him. Even though I knew that he wanted to throw me in jail and was screaming at me, I said to myself ‘I must be dreaming’.  When I told him that [Bosch] died 500 years ago, he told me to drop the intellectual mockery.” – Oldřich Kulhánek

In the 1980s, Oldřich Kulhánek created many lithographs based on the development of the human body.  In 1982 he was awarded the silver medal for his illustrations of Faust at the International Exhibit of Book Art in Leipzig. With the occurrence of the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and its resulting transition of political power, Kulhánek was able to travel to the United States and attend the Lithographic Workshop in Los Angeles. Later he was invited to give a series of workshops at universities, including the University of Houston. Kulhánek also traveled to Belgium during this period  to study the classical works in its museums.

Oldřich Kulhánek was one of the more visible artists of the Czech Republic. He was the president of the Society of Czech Graphic Artists founded in 1917, the President of the State Jury of Postage Stamp Design,  and the designer of all currency now in circulation in the Czech Republic.  Kulhánek also became one of the principle designers of Czech postage stamps, many bearing his images of important Czech personalities. He passed away suddenly in Prague on January 28th of 2013 at the age of seventy-two.

Raoul Dufy

Raoul Dufy, “Le Marché aux Poissons à Marseille”, 1905, Oil on Canvas, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain

Raoul Dufy was a French fauvist painter, who developed a colorful, decorative style that became fashionable for the designs of ceramics and textiles. He is also noted for scenes of open-air social events. Dufy was also a printmaker, book illustrator, designer of stage scenery and furniture, and a planner of public spaces.

Henry Justice Ford

Henry Justice Ford, Illustration of Beowulf from Andrew Lang’s  “The Red Book of Animal Stories”, 1899

Henry Justice Ford was a prolific and successful English artist and illustrator, active from 1886 through to the late 1920s. Sometimes known as H. J. Ford or Henry J. Ford, he came to public attention when he provided the numerous beautiful illustrations for Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books, which captured the imagination of a generation of British children and were sold worldwide in the 1880s and 1890s.

Elizabeth Coyne

Four Paintings by Elizabeth Coyne

Elizabeth Coyne was born in Minnesota and raised in California, Canada and Indiana. In the early 1980′s, she moved to New York where she had numerous exhibitions in the 1980′s and 1990′s. She has Masters of Fine Arts in painting from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from Purdue University. Elizabeth Coyne has also studied and lectured at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently working on a series of paintings based on the images from her monoprints which deal with tangible and intangible realities.

‘My paintings offer contemplation into life and into possibilities of existence. For me making art is about not only seeing and looking at the world around me- but also knowing that world and absorbing it. I have developed a personal invented language of images and symbols based on the natural world. This visual language is collected from connections that I make in an ethereal way, mental images built  from the logic of the materials I work with.

This world I make in a painting, describes abstract places and relationships and it is a physical transcriptive process, where each painting is a synthesis of the  mind. An image is composed from different sources, both products of my imagination and transcriptions based on my perceptions. Painting has become a way of mapping my thoughts and experiences – a  type of private cartography. “ – Elizabeth Coyne

Ryoichi Kurokawa

Ryoichi Kurokawa, “Octfalls”, One of Eight Displays in the Installation

“Octfalls” was an eight hour audiovisual installation by Ryoichi Kurokawa involving eight HD displays of waterfalls with eight channel multi sound. It was presented at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011.

Ryoichi Kurokawa is a Japanese artist, born in 1978, who lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Kurokawa’s works take on multiple forms such as installation works, recordings, and concert pieces. He composes the time sculpture with the field recordings and the digital generated structures, and reconstructs architecturally the audiovisual phenomenon.

In recent years, his works are shown at international festivals and museums including Tate Modern[UK], Venice Biennale[IT], Transmediale[DE], EMPAC[US], YCAM[JP] and Sonar[ES]. In 2010, he was awarded the Golden Nica at Prix Ars Electronica in the Digital Musics & Sound Art category.

Robert Smithson

Robert Smithson, “Spiral Jetty”, Great Salt Lake, Utah

Robert Smithson’s earthwork Spiral Jetty, considered by many to be his most significant work, was constructed in April 1970 on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake near Rozel Point in Utah. The sculpture is built of mud, precipitated salt crystals, and basalt rocks. The sculpture forms a 1,500-foot-long (460 m), 15-foot-wide (4.6 m) counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the lake. The sculpture is sometimes visible and sometimes submerged, depending upon the water level of the Great Salt Lake.

Smithson reportedly chose the Rozel Point site based on the blood-red color of the water and its connection with the primordial sea. The red hue of the water is due to the presence of salt-tolerant bacteria and algae that thrive in the extreme 27 percent salinity of the lake’s north arm, which was isolated from freshwater sources by the building of a causeway by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1959.

Smithson was reportedly attracted to the Rozel Point site because of the stark anti-pastoral beauty and industrial remnants from nearby Golden Spike National Historic Site, as well as an old pier and a few unused oil rigs. While observing the construction of the piece from a helicopter, Smithson reportedly remarked “Et in Utah Ego” as a counterpoint to the pastoral Baroque painting “Et in Arcadia Ego” by Nicolas Poussin.

Note: for those who are deeply into Smithson and Rothko, I recommend a treatise by Timothy D Martin with the Tate Museum entitled: “Psychosis and the Sublime in American Art: Rothko and Smithson”. An intense read but very interesting.   http://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/the-sublime/timothy-d-martin-psychosis-and-the-sublime-in-american-art-rothko-and-smithson-r1136831

Bill Domonkos

More Animated Gifs by Bill Domonkos

Bill Domonkos is a filmmaker, GIF maker and stereoscopist. His work combines 2D and 3D computer animation, special effects, photography and manipulated archive film footage. His work has been shown internationally in cinemas, film festivals, galleries and museums.

“I view my work as a collision and recombination of ideas. My process unfolds gradually and spontaneously—using found materials such as archive film footage, photographs, and the internet. I experiment by combining, altering, editing and reassembling using digital technology, special effects and animation to create a new kind of experience. I am interested in the poetics of time and space—to renew and transform materials, experiences and ideas. The extraordinary thing about cinema is its ability to suggest the ineffable—it is this elusive, dreamlike quality that informs my work.” -Bill Domonkos

David C. Roy

Kinetic Sculptures by David C Roy

Since graduating in 1974 from Boston University with a degree in physics, artist David C. Roy has been fascinated by the motion and mechanics of kinetic sculptures. Roy is a self-taught woodworker who designs limited edition wall-mounted sculptures powered by various mechanical wind-up mechanisms without the aid of electricity. Each piece can run for about 5-18 hours unassisted on a single wind, with his latest piece Dimensions capable of whirling around for a whopping 40+ hours.

From his Connecticut studio Roy has produced over 150 one-of-a-kind designs over the last thirty years, many of which he currently sells as editions through his website. Visit his site to see the archive of past works and the current works for sale:  http://woodthatworks.squarespace.com

Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper, “French Six-Day Bicycle Rider”, 1937, Oil on Canvas, 43.8 x 48.9 cm, Private Collection

In the 1800s, the invention of the safety bicycle initiated a cycling craze in America. Designed by English engineer Harry John Lawson in 1878, the first model of the ‘safety bike” was unlike previous bicycles in that the rider’s feet could reach the ground, which made it easier to stop. The pedals powered the rear wheel and kept the rider’s feet safely away from the front wheel. The chain drive allowed for much smaller wheels and replaced the need for the directly pedaled front wheel of previous bicycles.  Although the smaller wheels gave a harsher ride, the introduction of pneumatic tires, which replaced the previous solid ones, overcame that disadvantage.

Edward Hopper as a teenager in his hometown of Nyack, New York, was an avid cyclist. The freedom of both cycling and drawing freed him from the confines and boredom of small town life in the 1890s. During his early years, Hopper drew many bicycling scenes, two of which are “Study of a Man in the Bike Shop”, the interior of a bike shop whose owner is working on bike tires, and “Meditation: 10 Miles from Home”, a self portrait standing in knickers and argyle socks, staring at his bike’s flat front tire.

The inspiration for Hopper’s 1937 “French Six-Day Bicycle Rider” came from his watching bicycle races in New York’s Madison Square Garden. He remembered the rider, young and very French in appearance, who was resting while the his team mate was on the track. Early sketches for the painting show slightly different perspectives. In his notes for the final painting, Hopper chose to use the perspective from his 1921 etching, “The Night Shadows”, which depicts a street scene seen from an upper window. 

In his painting, Edward Hopper simplified the scene and focused on the emotional isolation of the rider. Strong diagonal lines cut across the scene. The young male assistant, whose slender form contrasts with the muscular rider, is shown opening the sleeping curtain. Bicycles on the left and right balance the scene which includes details from a biker’s kit: a helmet hung on a peg and a water bottle near the French flag on the hut’s roof. Next to the bicycles in the foreground sits a bucket containing a bottle.

Hopper finished the oil on canvas painting on March 5, 1937.

 

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei, “Grapes”, Details, Qing Dynasty Stools, 2011, Collection of Larry Warsh, New York

By reassembling Qing Dynasty furniture, which was constructed by traditional joinery techniques without glue or nails, Ai transforms the meaning and function of these cultural artefacts. Here he reconfigures a collection of wooden stools into a group resembling an organically formed cluster of grapes. The arrangement serves as a metaphor for the relationship between the individual and the collective, signifying the deferral of personal interests to those of the community and state characteristic of China’s socialist history.

The linked structure of Grapes also recalls the idea of networks and communication, which are recurrent motifs in the Ai work. Manufactured by skilled craftsmen, this type of three-legged stool was used for centuries in China by all kinds of people – the rich and the poor, in towns and in the country. Every family had one, and they were passed on through many generations.

Gustave Moreau

Gustave Moreau, “Apollo Vanquishing the Serpent Python”, 1885, National Gallery of Canada

Gustave Moreau was a French Symbolist painter whose main emphasis was the illustration of biblical and mythological figures.

“Oedipus and the Sphinx”, one of his first symbolist paintings, was exhibited at the Salon of 1864. Moreau quickly gained a reputation for eccentricity. One commentator said Moreau’s work was “like a pastiche of Mantegna created by a German student who relaxes from his painting by reading Schopenhauer”. The painting currently resides in the permanent collection at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bruno Novelli

Paintings by Bruno Novelli

Bruno Novelli was born in 1980 in Brazil. Novelli studied sculpture at the School of Visual Arts in New York City; Drawing at the Atelier Livre da Prefeitura de Porto Alegre in Brazil, and Graphic Design at ESPM in Sao Paulo. Novelli is a founder of the Universidade Autoindicada por Entidades Livres, which was created to articulate interdisciplinary artistic research. Novelli is also co-founder of Metagrafismo (Metagraphism), an experimental collective exploring the graphic potential of metalinguistics.

Novelli’s work has been exhibited in his native Brazil, as well as internationally in England, Denmark, Spain, Japan and the United States. In 2010, Novelli participated in the São Paulo edition of TRANSFER for the Pavilion of Brazilian Culture at Ibirapuera Park. Most recently he has participated in exhibitions at Fundacion OSDE (Buenos Aires), Centro Nacional de Las Artes (CENART – Mexico) and at the Museu da Imagem e do Som (MIS) in São Paulo.

Novelli’s paintings and videos feature enigmatic images, in which otherworldly entities, northern figures, dynamic geometric forms, and an encrypted alphabet strangely align. He has a deep interest in Amazonian rituals, the practice of painting, and experimentations with animated gifs. Novelli lives and works in São Paulo.

Duncan Grant: The Saint Blaise Chapel Murals

Duncan Grant, Mural, Detail of the West Wall, St Blaise Chapel, Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England

Duncan Grant, born from Scottish aristocratic roots, was an influential artist of the early 20th century, conscientious objector in the First World War and member of the Bloomsbury Group, whose attitudes towards feminism, pacifism and sexuality brought them great notoriety. Though homosexual, he had a daughter, Angelica, by his 40-year largely platonic relationship with Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf), and had several notable lovers including Bloomsbury set fellows, the economist John Maynard Keynes and writer David Garnett. His later life was spent with another Bloomsbury associate, poet and translator of the classics, Paul Roche.

The mural paintings in The Russell Chantry, St.Blaise Chapel in St.Mary’s Cathedral are dedicated to St.Blaise, patron Saint of wool workers and depict a fanciful quayside scene in 15th century Lincoln. They were painted in 1958, when Grant was in his early seventies and were embroiled in controversy from the start. His initial designs were amended, and his open homosexuality and history as a conscientious objector were frowned upon in the early post-war years.

The Chapel was kept locked from around 1964 to 1977 when the first colour Cathedral guidebook made no mention of the murals. The chapel continued to be locked and used as a storeroom with cupboards against the walls covering the murals until 1990. Some people objected to the near nudity of the figure of Christ, modelled on Grant’s homosexual lover Paul Roche and the athletic young porters loading bales of wool on the quayside. Even today, some Cathedral guides omit the St.Blaise Chapel and Grant’s marvellous murals from their tour.

Jaume Plensa

 

Jaume Plensa, “Heads of Nuria and Irma”, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, England

With 30 projects spanning the globe, Jaume Plensa is probably one of the most renowned Catalan sculptors in the contemporary art scene. Though he is mainly known for his large-scale ethereal sculptures, he has worked with a very diverse array of media, ranging from video projections to acoustic installations. Plensa’s work juxtaposes the intellectual and the poetic. Though these two concepts are often mutually exclusive, the artist somehow manages to create extremely evocative sculptures with a strong conceptual basis.

While many conceptual artists feel the urge to refuse beauty in order to convey an idea, the beauty and romanticism of Plensa’s sculptures manage to provide tangibility to his ideas. One of the many aspects in which the artist manages to do so is by introducing his works in the public space, thus allowing his sculptures to be animated by the city and its inhabitants.