Archive for the ‘Art & Artists’ Category

Separated at Birth?

May 18, 2009

Jerry Lewis (left) made an appearance at the Cannes Film Festival yesterday to announce his role in the coming film “Max Rose.” In other news, a retrospective of painter Francis Bacon’s work will be opening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 20. Does his canvas Study after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, (detail, right) remind you of anyone? I thought so. But what does it mean?

Lewis photo copyright Joel Ryan/Associated Press via New York Times.


Album Art: Life in Digital Tinyland

May 4, 2009

It’s 1975 and my thirteen year old peer group has just had an earth-shattering realization. After staring at the elaborately illustrated cover of Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy for most of an afternoon, pondering the question: could Elton John be gay? (news flash!) we decided en masse: of course he was! He was gay WITH Bernie Taupin! Obviously he couldn’t simply be gay on his own, and we felt very sophisticated for figuring all of this out just from studying the artwork. Worshiping the record jacket was a crucial part of the experience of listening to LPs. Album covers and liner note designs contained rich fields of information to be harvested, inviting listeners to spend hours happily searching the images to decode their meaning. Today, the visualization of music has dwindled to the size of a tiny icon in the era of the downloadable MP3. As the artwork’s dimensions shrank, becoming more like a postage stamp than a poster, its role and importance faded. Let’s face it: does anyone download songs today because they fall in love with the 240-square pixel cover on a computer screen? Very doubtful.


Around Again

March 25, 2009


Rodney Allen Trice creates witty items for the home from discarded objects he finds at the curb and in dumpsters. Trice doesn’t see what he does as recycling, preferring to use the term refitting instead. His Brooklyn studio resembles a parking lot for things awaiting their next chance at a new life.


Stuff Comes in Waves

March 24, 2009


I love the combination of traditional style and contemporary commentary in this painting by Manabu Ikeda. For more on the topic, check out the work of Masami Teraoka too.


Plastic Palm Trees in Paradise

March 18, 2009


David Graham documents America as a place where the intersection of cultural and actual landscape leads to moments of strange beauty. His cheerful supersaturated color photographs, graced by a bemused appreciation of his native land, capture a vivid jumble of roadside attractions and manmade structures locked in unexpected tension with their environment. Almost Paradise, his newest book with a foreword by noted writer Jack Hitt, ventures into dark territory with images of post-Katrina New Orleans sequenced together with objects in a wax museum and sunny days in no-man’s land. Graham’s postindustrial scenes devoid of the humans who created them will haunt your subconscious in the best possible way.

Technology + Art = Design

March 14, 2009

Modular Jewelry

Modular Jewelry

Fiona Carswell’s work is a fascinating combination of science and artistry. With a background in Interactive Telecommunications and Art History, it’s no wonder she designs such clever and intense objects. From Smoking Jacket to Cell Stickies, Modular Jewelry to Co-Dependent Gloves, Carswell is addressing human issues in an unexpected way.

Thank you, swissmiss.

Chair of my Dreams

March 12, 2009

I have a total crush on this pair of Marc Newson chairs; I love the way they look as if they’re casually lifting up their heads, curious to see what’s going on. Their voluptuous shapes, sculptured around a void and propped up by that single severe steel leg, just kill me. And the dry, rough wicker combined with shiny metal make these so much more interesting than Newson’s same chair in white felt or his similar design in aluminum and enamel. The wicker duo is to be auctioned off by Christie’s in New York on March 26 as part of the 20th Century Decorative Art & Design sale. Did I mention I have a birthday coming up?

Who’s Sorry Now?

March 9, 2009

allsorrynowI’m going to move on to other topics, I promise. But first: look at the design de-evolution of Sorry. The game was first produced in England in the 1920’s as a modified version of Parcheesi. In 1934, at left,  it was licensed to Parker Brothers for sale in the United States. The board actually didn’t change much from then through the 1962 version at top right. Oh, but the box! The older typography was bold and striking. By 1962, the box had almost no design of its own, relying on a photo of the board and a couple of creepy disembodied hands to convey the game’s appeal.

It’s clear that the current look overall, at lower right—brighter candy colors, lots of transparency, lots of speed lines—is influenced by video games and motion graphics. This strikes me as a desperate attempt to attract a generation of players who expect their entertainment to move and crash and make sparks. A board game does none of those things; why pretend? It’s just a different animal. But still a fun one.

Covering the Home Front

March 8, 2009


Clockwise from top left: #17 Use anger to throw them into disarray; #12 If you want to weaken something you must certainly strengthen it; #8 In the case of the Firmly Unbending, entice and then seize them; #2 Attack where they are unprepared.

Brooklyn-based artist Miriam Schaer transforms garments—gloves, girdles, bustiers, brassieres, and children’s clothes—into artwork and books that explore feminine, social, and spiritual issues. Have a look at my favorite project of hers: Rules of Engagement. It features epigrams from Sun-Tzu’s fifth century The Art of War hand-embroidered onto a series of 14 hostess aprons, along with Xerox-transfer printed portraits of idealized women. It’s a witty take on how those of lesser power can seize victory if they are smart enough to transform the enemy’s apparent strengths into weaknesses.

I asked Schaer how the idea came to her. “I never heard of this guy until I bought Sun Tzu and the Art of Business: Six Strategic Principles for Managers at an airport bookstore in Spain some years ago. I thought it was crazy: why was a Chinese war theoretician being used to explain the business world? That seemed so obvious. I thought it would be a lot more interesting to insert those rules into a domestic context instead.” You can get your very own copy of Rules of Engagement as a softbound book at