Roxy Paine’s Rug with Mushrooms

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Usually, one would think that if a rug gets so dirty that it becomes a starting point for new growths including mushrooms, maybe it’s time for the rug to go … in this case, it gets turned into a work of art! Just kidding … this art work by Roxy Paine – titled Rug no. 1, 2015 – has the various objects attached to the rug made out of polymer, epoxy, resin, aluminum, and stainless steel … but no real mushrooms!

Rug no. 1, by Roxy Paine

We saw this piece at Paul Kasmin Gallery’s booth at the 2016 Armory Show. One might initially respond with “what’s the point of mushrooms on a rug?” But an explanation from Roxy Paine’s Wikipedia page provides a better understanding: “In his body of work, Roxy Paine mirrors natural processes, drawing increasingly on the tension between organic and man-made environments, between the human desire for order and nature’s drive to reproduce.” In this case, Paine suggests that rather than have man battling against nature, they’ve decided to co-exist … the more I think about it, the more I like it.

mushroom sculptures attached to an oriental rug by artist Roxy Paine

Native American Indian stone art …?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Found art

I posted the other day about a woman who sent me a picture of a rock that she had found, asking for clarification about petroglyphs and pictographs … she had mentioned at the time that she had found several interesting pieces in and around Henry County, Tennessee, but that no one can identify them.

Here’s another picture of one of those other pieces, below left. She thinks it could be a “face effigy,” and based on this photograph below right (which I found online) showing a known Native American Indian artifact, it seems like it could be … they’re both about the same size, and the way that the eyes and jaws are carved has some similarities.

Our picture-submitting friend said: “I have been studying Henry County history and collecting artifacts that many others have called ‘just rocks’ … I have been doing this for two years now.” If anyone out there can share any info or insight on the white and gray piece below left, please share in the comments below.

rock art found in Henry County Tennessee

The National Museum of African American History and Culture

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Architecture, Art Museum exhibitions

I was reading an article about the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the New York Times last weekend, and it included a reference to the Tanzanian-born architect David Adjaye, saying that his design was meant “to evoke a crown motif from ancient Yoruban sculpture.” Seeing the picture of the building below, it made me curious to see how exactly it does compare to “crown motifs” from ancient Yoruban sculpture.

African American museum in Washington D.C.

I’m not doubting that there’s some Yoruban influence in this architectural design, but being a visual person, when I read something like that, I want to see it. As you may have seen in my blog post about Manute Bol and El Greco the other day (or in many blog posts, for that matter), I like to see visual comparisons. So I did an image search for both “Yoruban sculpture” and “Yoruban crowns,” but didn’t really come up with anything that seemed like a good match … the best I could come up with is shown below. I’m just not seeing the correlation.

African sculpture from Yoruba

But I wasn’t going to let it go at that, so I looked a little deeper, and found some clarification: Adjaye’s building design is meant to evoke Yoruba carved wood columns – specifically the crowns at the top of the columns, and not a sculptural king’s “crown” as the Times mistakenly suggested. You can see this visual correlation much better in this picture below. It makes more sense too, from a symbolic visual angle, because the reference to Yoruba pillars or columns subtly suggests the prominence of African American scientists, artists, and politicians as being pillars in the creation of America.

It just goes to show that one can’t take every word that the Times publishes as being fully accurate, or perhaps that the reporter and editor needed to do a little more research and fact-checking when it comes to their art and architecture references.

Comparing the African American Museum deisign to Yoruba architecture

Piper Brett’s Golden Star Basketball

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art and Sports, Sculpture

In basketball lingo, a player with a great “handle” is good at dribbling and ball handling. Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors is certainly considered to be a player with a great “handle,” as he can do just about anything he wants to with a basketball. The title of this sculpture by Piper Brett is “Golden Star” … do you think it could be a reference to Stephen Curry?

My question is: how did Piper Brett get the screws in without popping the ball? (seen at the Spring Break Art Show a few weeks ago)

Golden Star, a basketball with a metal handle by Piper Brett

Manute Bol and El Greco

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art and Sports

I went to a sports collectibles store today, and found myself buying a box of 1991-1992 Skybox basketball cards, which grabbed my attention for their unusual style, in which the photograph of the basketball player was isolated against a bold graphic design background. I’d like to show you a number of these interesting cards, which make for some mini-artworks in their own right, but one card in particular grabbed my attention today: Manute Bol, then playing for the Philadelphia Sixers. As you can see in the picture here, it’s a pretty striking image: a 7′ 7″ tall man with his long right arm stretched above his head, and the long fingers of his left hand accented by their placement against a bright orange background. It made me think of Mannerist paintings, with their style of elongated bodies, and then I found some good matches with El Greco, shown below. These two El Greco figures are both details from his painting titled “The Opening of the Fifth Seal,” (1608–1614), which is part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A basketball card featuring Manute Bol with two examples of similar-posed figures by the artist El Greco

El Greco is also known for his detailed depictions of hands, and the central role they play in his various paintings. Below we have some examples of El Greco hands set up around Manute Bol’s hands from his basketball card. Do you think the basketball card photographer – or the graphic designer who laid out the final card design – had El Greco or Mannerist art in mind?

A basketball card featuring Manute Bol showing his hands next to hands from paintings by El Greco

Karen Caldicott’s Clay Sculptures

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I was reading an older issue of Wired Magazine at lunch today, and came across an article about violent impulses in relation to entertainment. The article wasn’t very interesting, but the image accompanying it sure was: it was a photograph of a clay sculpture by Karen Caldicott which depicted a man who – suggested by the indentation in his face where his nose used to be – was punched in the face.

A clay sculpture by Karen Caldicott depicting a visualization of a man who was punched in the nose

I think it’s a pretty humorous art work, and certainly grabbed my attention enough that I dropped the magazine article and went off in search of more art by Karen Caldicott. As you can see below, in addition to the punched man, we’ve got a collection of celebrities as well, including Steve Jobs and Michael Jackson. Scroll down for more

sculptures of Steve Jobs and Michael Jackson by Karen Caldicott

As you can see in the picture below, Caldicott does quite a few celebrity “portraits” via her clay sculpture. Can you name all of the celebrities below? (answers below the picture) But let’s learn more about the artist … Karen Caldicott is a British sculptor and illustrator who now lives in upstate New York. She does a lot of commercial assignments for magazines such as Wired, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Harper’s, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Fast Company, and many more. She studied at Middlesex Polytechnic in London as well as the Royal College of Art, and moved to New York City in the early 1990s.

The clay busts are approximately 8 inches tall, and are usually painted with acrylics, but sometimes also rendered in black and white tones, as you can see below. To see more of Caldicott’s work, check out her website here.

clay sculptures of celebrities by artist Karen Caldicott

Here’s the list of celebrities pictured above, clockwise from top left: Howard Stern, Spike Lee, Conan O’Brien, Andre Agassi, George Washington, Billy Joel, Martha Stewart, and Johnny Knoxville.

Dali-inspired Home Furnishings

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Furniture, Interior Design

We found a fun collection of home furnishings that one could imagine were all inspired by the Surrealist artist Salvador Dali’s 1937 painting “The Burning Giraffe” (pictured below, item #4). Clockwise, from top left: #1, seahorse desk by Vincent Darré, titled “L’eau Dali 8;” #2, a “side table” by Oscar Tusquets Blanca, featuring a taxidermied lamb with a table on its back and a drawer in its side; #3, a wood sculpture “Jewelry Box” by André Dorais.

Unusual furniture and art with funky drawers inspired by Salvador Dali painting Burning Giraffe

Glenn Kaino: A Shout Within A Storm

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I saw this piece by Glenn Kaino at the 2015 Armory Show, titled “A Shout Within A Storm.” The work includes dozens of copper-plated arrows suspended in mid-air and culminating in a point, suggesting impact. It was quite a show-stopper, but what interested me was how many people wanted to interact with it, to play-act, most often in the role of a superhero-like figure. It almost seems like something one would see in a Marvel Comics superhero movie, the villian launching a hundred arrows only to be stopped mid-flight by the hero of the movie. As you can see in the pictures below, more than one art fair viewer stepped up and reached out as if they were using “the force” to stop these arrows mid-flight.

Viewer reactions to A Shout Within A Storm, an art installation by Glenn Kaino at the 2015 Armory Show

Glenn Kaino is an American conceptual artist based in Los Angeles. Kaino’s work ranges across a wide range of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, video, and performance. I’m trying to learn more about this artist, but there’s only one big (but very impressive) picture on his own website, showcasing his piece titled “Bridge” from 2014, which was a site-specific installation at the Naval Building in Washington D.C.

But back to the arrows: I especially like how this guy, below, just casually approaches the arrows with a “stop” hand gesture, like he’s the most-powerful superhero of all. It doesn’t take much effort on his part to stop this storm of arrows, at least in his mind!

a man putting up his hand to stop the arrows by using The Force, sculpture by Glenn Kaino

Marcel Duchamp and Wham-O Trac Ball

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Making an art history comparison, Photo of the day, Products we'd like to see

At the risk of dating myself, I have one of the original Trac-Ball sets produced by Wham-O in the mid-to-late 1970s … but the crazy thing is, I somehow still have the original packaging! It was tucked away in the rafters of my parents’ garage for about 20+ years, but when I had kids of my own, I brought it back home to share with my kids … and now it’s tucked away in my garage. Scroll down for more …

Wham-O Trac Ball set, introduced in the mid-to-late 1970s, a backyard game similar to jai alai

I was coming home from an errand this afternoon, and as I walked into the house through the garage, that beat-up old Trac Ball box caught my eye, and as I amusedly looked at the vintage illustrations on the box, it struck me – the depiction of the guy in motion playing Trac Ball reminded me of Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending A Staircase” – not in a direct way, as the Trac Ball dude is wearing clothes, of course … but the depiction of movement in the illustration made me think of Duchamp. So, for curiosity’s sake, I decided to match them up here to see them side-by-side.

Comparing the illustration on a Wham-O Trac Ball box to Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase

I still think Trac-Ball is fun to play … I just can’t convince my kids to bother with it anymore … what’s Trac-Ball compared to X-Box?