Saturday, February 28, 2009

Vader Project Opening

The Vader Project exceeded my expectations. The 100 helmets were made by celebrities of urban contemporary art including Dalek. Except for two or three, all the helmets were extremely well crafted. Some were illustrative, while others included sculptural embellishments. The room full of helmets reflected a variety of current styles including pop surrealism, low brow art, graffiti, comic book and skateboard art. As part of the grand opening, there were some special guests in the hall outside the exhibit. (Sorry, no photos allowed inside the show itself.)

Darth Vader and Storm Troopers discuss evil plots while Boba Fett keeps guard back by the exhibit entry.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Vader Project

Tomorrow we are going to the Andy Warhol Museum to see what's new. One thing we'll get to see is The Vader Project (100 reimagined Darth Vader Helmets). The project was made in 2007, but this is its "museum debut" and I look forward to seeing it in person. Here is a nice Warholian one:


Sarah in a Green Dress, oil on wood

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Woman in the Mirror

Photographs by Richard Avedon:

Richard Avedon repeatedly showed that whenever he took the picture, the woman and the performer were one and the same; and that each was really Venus, in one of her infinite guises.

--Excerpt from Anne Hollander's introduction to the book Woman in the Mirror: 1945-2004, Richard Avedon

Monday, February 23, 2009

La Mason en Petits Cubes

Last week we went to see the Oscar nominated film shorts at Pittsburgh Filmmakers (still playing through Wednesday at the Melwood Screening Room). Kunio Kato's animated short, La Mason en Petits Cubes, was very moving, and I was happy to see that it won an Oscar last night (although I liked them all). You can watch the whole short on youtube, here (divided into parts one and two). Enjoy!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Friday, February 20, 2009


Glossy Ibis by John James Audubon

The University of Pittsburgh owns one of the rare, complete sets of John James Audubon's Birds of America, and their double elephant folio set is on-line with every image. Seeing so many unusual looking birds in the thumbnail gallery is fun, and when you select one to look at more closely, you can zoom in on all the wonderful details Audubon carefully recorded from his observations of these amazing creatures. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mili / Picasso

Gjon Mili's photograph of Pablo Picasso drawing a minotaur in the air with a flashlight:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Emily Dickinson on Beauty

Poster for The Emily Dickinson Museum, designed by illustrator Penelope Dullaghan

"Beauty is not caused. It is." -- Emily Dickinson

Finding footing through drawing

A look at Leonardo Da Vinci's equestrian drawings...

While studying master drawings by Da Vinci, we can see traces of his process. These sketches of many-legged horses do not reveal mistakes. It took all of these repeated drawings of the legs to find their perfect placement. Each was a necessary step.

The effect of leaving these sketches in the drawing is of motion, particularly in this one (below) of a rearing horse, where he captured its position at different moments:

There is evidence of decision making in many of Da Vinci's drawings which make them interesting to study, such as this one (below) where he determines the position of the rider's head in order to achieve the most satisfying composition:

These drawings offer great examples of how artists use drawing as a medium in which to think.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Alex Katz

Ada and Alex (1980)

The painter Alex Katz has made so many wonderful paintings of his muse, his wife, Ada. He is considered a pop artist, known for his smooth, reductionist paintings, mainly portraits. Ada's fashion lends a classic contemporary style to his portraits of her. Here are some nice examples:

The Black Dress (1960)

Blue Umbrella 2 (1972)

Brisk Day (1990)

Orange Hat (1990)

Ada in Hat (1990)

January (1994)

Black Scarf (1996)

Another sighting!

Rising from the chimney stacks of the old Homestead Steel Mill...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Olympic Sculpture Park

Just back from Seattle where we went to the Olympic Sculpture Park of the Seattle Art Museum. Less than a decade old, the park is built on an old industrial site and now offers a unique, beautiful setting for outdoor sculpture, and a great place to walk and take pictures.

Most notable pieces include:

Eagle (1971) by Alexander Calder (perhaps best known for his mobiles)

and Typewriter Eraser, Scale X by Claes Oldenberg (pop artist known for his giant sculptures of everyday objects).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Isabel Bishop

If I speak in a voice which is my own, it's bound to be the voice of a woman. - Isabel Bishop

Isabel Bishop (1902-1988) is known for her drawings and paintings of working women whom she observed around her Union Square Apartment/ Studio. Quite successful in her lifetime, she taught at the Art Students League and received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, presented to her by Jimmy Carter.

A realist, her art captured the daily routines and casual moments of the people around her. Many of her best images depict friendship between women; eating ice cream cones together, or just talking together, relaxing at lunch.

Her drawings gradually became more abstract, though still figurative. The settings faded away to just the impression of space, and specific individuals became more generalized. In her later images of people walking on the street (examples below), the figures are confident and busy, crossing paths as they walk in different directions, but not connecting. They are fashionable and exude confidence but are almost apparitions – It is hard to imagine them checking their appearance in a mirror or pausing to share a laugh or some ice cream. They seem to be in perpetual motion.

Titles of pictures from top to bottom:

Two Girls
At The Noon Hour
Young Woman
Girls Sitting in Union Square Fountain
Ice Cream Cones
Tidying Up
Five Women Walking
Students Walking

Monday, February 2, 2009

To escape

"Autumn" by Andrew Wyeth

My aim is to escape from the medium with which I work. To leave no residue of technical mannerisms to stand between my expression and the observer. To seek freedom through significant form and design rather than through the diversion of so-called free and accidental brush handling. In short, to dissolve into clear air all impediments that might interrupt the flow of pure enjoyment. Not to exhibit craft, but rather to submerge it, and make it rightfully the handmaiden of beauty, power, and emotional content.

-- From a statement by Andrew Wyeth (1943)