Tag Archives: Art

Google Art

The self-serving Official Google Blog points us to the art of Ken Solomon:

He makes art of Google Image searches. I’ll point you to my post on Mr. Brainwash, and the comments, to discuss whether or not this is art. But I would say that it’s nice to have an all-powerful company, Google, that seems at least mildly preoccupied with creating something that is as beautiful as it is practical.

The Myth of Mr. Brainwash

What is art?

That eternal question hovers beneath “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” a new film amorphously attributed to Banksy, the iconic-yet-anonymous British street artist. The first half of the movie details the history of street art – don’t call it graffiti – through a cache of old tapes made by Thierry Guetta, a vintage clothing store owner who documented the early days of the genre. Then, suddenly, the camera flips to follow a different story: Mr. Guetta himself. More specifically, his transformation from a likable but untalented and unknown filmmaker, into the somewhat-likable, still-untalented, wildly-successful artist known as Mr. Brainwash.

His rise is so unbelievable that we arrive at a more immediate question: Is Mr. Brainwash real?

The question has simmered ever since his 2008 debut show generated heavy buzz despite his lack of any discernible talent other than generating heavy buzz. The pieces were, to use the art world’s harshest curse, derivative (Elvis prints, Campbell’s Soup spray cans), and his sudden success confounded many. Is he an actor, a creation of Banksy’s meant to critique the nature of success in the art world? Is he Banksy himself, unmasked?

Banksy’s reputation for stunts gives credence to the conspiracies: there was the inflatable Gitmo detainee hung next to a Disneyland roller coaster and the images of a sunny beach tattooed onto a West Bank security wall.

Earlier this year, Mr. Brainwash produced his first New York show, (more Elvis, more spray cans) where New York tried to nail down his identity:

Plenty say this feels like a prank. Can you prove it’s not?
What do I do to prove? To live my life? One day for me is one life. The next day is another life. It’s not important what people say.

It will become important if a significant number of people come to your show saying it’s a prank.
By Banksy, yeah? Yeah, yeah, this is something, but it’s like what I’m going to do? If I do it, it’s my heart and I believe. I’m a guy who believes above all. I believe in God.

Sure, you believe–but are you playing a role?
No. No playing a role… It depends on the role.

Hmmm, no answers there. The Times took up the crusade this week, talking with Shepard Fairey, of Obama “Hope” poster fame, and one of Guetta’s earliest film subjects. He told The Times: “Of course the more I try to say it’s all true, the more it sounds like I’m somehow perpetuating the conspiracy.”

I suppose this is where we recommend seeing the movie, which is quite enjoyable, and deciding for yourself. Whether the art world has bought into a man or a myth, the point is the same: maybe talent and creativity are optional. Or, as an associate of Banksy’s puts it in “Exit”: “The joke? The joke is on, hmm … I don’t even know that there is a joke, really.”

The Long View

Simon Roberts has captured his countrymen in a series of pulled-back landscape shots:

Where possible I would photograph from elevated positions (often from the roof of my motor home), which would enable me to get a greater sense of people’s interaction with the landscape and with one another. I also decided that the people populating a scene would be relatively small in the frame; although not so small that you couldn’t make out some facial expressions, what they were wearing, and their activities.

As a general rule, I like close-ups in my photography. But these have a very Romantic-landscape-painting feel to them that work well.

George Lois Explains It All

Some weeklies still attempt to make art out of their covers, but it’s a shame that most monthly magazine’s have resolved to splash celebrities in largely uninteresting poses. Not like the days of George Lois at Esquire, who has laid out the story behind 12 of his famous covers:

“It was 1968, and Ali was waiting for an appeal for draft evasion to reach the Supreme Court. I said to Hayes, ‘I want to do a cover with Ali, I want to depict him as the famous martyr Saint Sebastian.’ And I called up Ali, told him I needed him and his pretty white trunks and shoes. I showed him a postcard of a painting by Castagno, with Sebastian’s body relaxed, but his head back in agony. And he says, ‘Hey, George, this cat’s a Christian? I can’t pose as a Christian, I’m a Muslim.’ I tried to explain that it’s symbology, but he said no, and I asked if I could talk to Elijah Muhammad, who was the head of the Muslim community at the time. He calls him up, puts me on the phone, and there I am talking to Elijah Muhammad about religion, imagery, symobolgy, etc., and finally he said, ‘Okay, sounds good to me.’ And Ali did it. It really became a rallying cry, the anti-war poster at that time. It was a combo of race, religion, and war in one image.”

See Ali as Saint Sebastian, and 11 others, here.

Graphic covers

We’re suckers for a good book cover, and especially so after recently seeing the maze of covers at the world’s largest independent bookstore. These, from the Penguin Graphic Classics, are particularly cool. Here’s Huck Finn:

And Candide, by a favorite of ours, Chris Ware (click to read the text):

More seen here. Via the Book Bench.

DIY Clothing

For the do-it-yourself fashionista on your Christmas list, a coloring book/dress:

Draw your state

United States Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) drew this map of his state:

Georgia looks something like this:

Ergo, Saxby Chambliss has no f-ing clue what his state looks like. More Senators draw their states, here. My Senator did an admirable job with the boot heel, but missed Northwest Missouri.