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Archive for June, 2010

25th Jun 2010

Ben Franklin’s Essence Portrait

Benjamin Franklin is one of the most interesting people in American history and possibly for all time.

He was a complex man, wise, witty and incredibly smart and savvy.

In my first Essence Portrait of Benjamin Franklin, I show him as somewhat younger, and more in his prime than we are used to seeing him. The image we normally find him on hundred dollar bills, where he resembles the guy on Quaker Oats, who probably was modeled after Franklin.

Were it not for his advanced age, Ben Franklin would have been one of the first presidents of the United States . As a Founding Father he was one of the prime movers who helped us gain our independence from England by creating an alliance with France.

Proverbs 13 (Ben Franklin)

By Judy Rey Wasserman

Franklin rose from working class beginnings to become a member of the high society of his time, both in the American states and also the French court. By the end of his life he had great achievements as politician, political theorist, statesman, author, scientist, inventor, soldier, civic activist and businessman.

As a scientist, Franklin discovered theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass “armonica”.

He was a model citizen. He formed both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania . He played a major role in establishing the University of Pennsylvania and was elected the first president of the American Philosophical Society. From 1775 to 1776, Franklin was the Postmaster General under the Continental Congress and from 1785 to 1788, he served as the equivalent of governor of Pennsylvania .

Toward the end of his life, he became one of the most prominent abolitionists.

Franklin is also known for his sage wit and wisdom, usually found in his Poor Richard’s Almanac. When preparing to create the basic Essence Portrait of Ben Franklin, it seemed fitting to turn to the Bible’s Proverbs.13. and use the letters from the original Bible text for the strokes. I wonder if some of Franklin’s ideas and advice were inspired by this text.

Ben Franklin Quotes:

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.

Never confuse motion with action.

God grant that not only the love of liberty but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man may pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say: This is my country.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty.

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.

The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.

Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.

To see and discover more about Judy Rey Wasserman’s Essence Portraits—the radical new portraiture of the 21 st Century go to : http://ungravenimage.com/essencevideos.php

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Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art. Download a free copy click: Manifesto of Post Conceptual Art– A Painting’s Meaning is Inherent in its Stroke.

Check out the limited and open edition prints in the estore.
Follow her on Twitter at @judyrey .]

Posted by Posted by judyrey under Filed under Art & Inspiration, Tolerance, Freedom & Peace Comments 1 Comment »

17th Jun 2010

Guggenheim’s You Tube Play Controversy

The art world has a new problem and controversy, and while it seems innocent, it could be a humdinger,  a taste of what may ultimately transform the art world as we know it.

This innocent seeming assault on the art world concerns the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s new project called You Tube Play is searching for new video artists. The idea is that artists can submit their You Tube videos (one per artist) and from the entrants 20 videos will be selected to be shown for four days at the museum.

While the world outside struggles with a recession that includes tent cities caused by mortgage frauds and unemployment, an unprecedented ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused by highly paid executives cutting corners on safety measures, a year of killer quakes and dormant volcanoes awakening, plus wars and Internet rumors of wars, the Guggenheim’s open video casting call seems hardly controversial.

Yet, Robert Storr, dean of the Yale University School of Art and former curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, attacked the Guggenheim’s project in a New York Times article, saying,” “It’s time to stop kidding ourselves. The museum as revolving door for new talent is the enemy of art and of talent, not their friend — and the enemy of the public as well, since it … serves up art as if it was quick-to-spoil produce from a Fresh Direct warehouse.”

To the “rescue’ and on the other side rode in New York Magazine’s, Jerry Saltz, who, being far more social media savvy than Storr, brought the controversy before his Facebook fans and friends who are continuing the discussion. You Tube is also a social media site.

I discovered the controversy in a discussion begun and moderated by Jerry Saltz on Facebook. I already knew about the call as I had previously ReTweeted the announcement on Twitter from the Guggenheim.

In “ YouTube in the Guggenheim? Go for It! ”, Jerry Saltz points out, “YouTube videos are obviously a form of do-it-yourself art, outsider video, folk-expression, and other things the art world says it loves.”

While Saltz is correct, mainstream art and artists are also to be found on You Tube. The strong Internet connection of this proposed show and its connections to reach artists is the point and the heart of the controversy.

Artists are used to submitting works, slides and jpegs to shows held in galleries or not for profit spaces, but in the Guggenheim call the videos submitted are coming from the Internet. More often than not, an artist is included in a museum show due to submission by galleries or at least being seen in gallery shows, here the “gallery” is usurped by the Internet‘s video showcase site of You Tube.

The issue is not the democratization of art, but the Internet’s increasing ability to at least go toe-to-toe with museums and galleries in relation to art as the middle man or go to place to find art and artists.

While most galleries maintain websites that are seen as an advertisement and extension of their brick and mortar store, the Guggenheim project bypasses all brick and mortar, slides, CDs and goes directly to the Internet –a groundbreaking move for a major art institution.

Let’s swing this around and look from the perspective of an artist–an artist guaranteed to draw crowds to a museum show and fetch a very high price for any dealer or auction house.

How would van Gogh have used the Internet if he had the opportunity? How could it have changed van Gogh’s career?

Like most artists, certainly the greatest artists, van Gogh’s drive was to communicate. He did this through his letters, through conversations and sermons (thus he was also a public speaker) and, of course, through his art.

I bet that an emerging van Gogh would have posted his art in You Tube videos. He would join Jerry Saltz’s discussions of Facebook, have his own fan page and talk art with anyone who was interested. Vincent van Gogh (an impostor) shows up on Twitter, with pithy quotes, as does the Van Gogh Museum– I know because I follow them. I bet van Gogh would have a blog, too.

I use the word “bet” because I am literally doing that as an artist. I’m following the web savvy path that I believe van Gogh, Warhol, Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Dali,, Pissaro, etc. would have taken.

If van Gogh had the Internet he would have had instant access to reach more people and share his ideas. He would not be stuck hoping that Theo could market his work. Van Gogh could have made extra change selling reproductive prints on eBay where van Gogh’s work sells today.

We are just beginning to see how the Internet will impact museums, galleries and collectors, because although artists like me will not sidestep them, we are not as strongly bound to them to make our work known. My work has already been seen by more people thanks to the Internet than the general attendance for the average gallery show in Chelsea . Would van Gogh pass that up?

The Guggenheim’s search idea is a 21 st Century idea. It is as relevant as a Google search—or perhaps Bing, as the entries will be culled down to just twenty by a
jury of nine professionals in disciplines like the visual arts, filmmaking and animation, graphic design and music brought together by the museum’s own Nancy Spector, deputy director and chief curator of the Guggenheim Foundation.

The Guggenheim’s not just working to stay relevant and popular; they are wisely looking in the place where the next great artists can be found. That the Guggenheim is honestly searching, rather that attempting to create a popular block buster show can be easily understood from the fact that their You Tube show is scheduled to only last four days.

We know that the patrons and dealers who discovered and gave the first shows to famous ground breaking artists art remembered and made immortal by art history. So far, no museum can make this claim.

Kudos to the Guggenheim for its initiating its courageous search and best of luck in discovering great artists. I bet they can be found on the Internet and You Tube because I bet van Gogh, Warhol, Monet, Degas, Dali, Rembrandt and many other groundbreaking artists would have seized this opportunity if they could have.

Note: See Judy Rey Wasserman’s You Tube video submitted to the Guggenheim’s YouTube Play project below.

Posted by Posted by judyrey under Filed under Art Theory and Show Reviews Comments 3 Comments »

10th Jun 2010

Work of Art—Bravo’s New Reality Show

Bravo’s new reality show Work of Art aired its first episode on Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 11 p.m. EDT.

I have to give the show a thumbs up, because it is the only show on regular cable television that focuses on the Contemporary Art world and artists. It has no competition or role models except from other reality shows dealing with cooking, design, and performing talent, plus Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, which thankfully brought us several shows that dealt with Contemporary Art. Even PBS, which has the most and usually best shows about art, does not have a single weekly show that focuses on only Contemporary Art.

Yet, in relation to the world of Contemporary Art, Work of Art as a representational show dealing with reality is a kind of misleading. While singers, dancers and designers audition in similar ways on other reality shows in real life, i.e. reality, artists do not. What most resembled reality for artists all happened before this show ever aired; the culling down of all the artists and submissions to end up with this group show.

The premise is that the winner of this show will gain a prize of $100,000.00, and even better for a real artist with something to say: a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum. There is a hint of art world reality here as only one person can have a solo show by definition.

The competitiveness is a false construct for the art world and artists. Artists work to be within a stable of other good to great artists represented by a gallery. While Picasso had a famous ongoing competition with Matisse, this is rare. Most artists are fairly supportive and even help create the careers of other artists as Warhol did for Basquiat.

Many of the movements of Modern Art were the products of artists like the Impressionists and Abstract Expressionists who knew each other and were friends.  It is interesting to note that so far, the artists of the show do seem to be basically encouraging and even critiquing one another. Perhaps this will continue and prove to be a refreshing peek at real life artists.

The subtitle of this show is “The Next Great Artist”. So far not a single artist has produced a work that is so singularly original that we could believe this claim of greatness. Definitely there are some good artists on the show, people who can and will make professional careers for themselves—but will other artist of the next generations be inspired by them? Is anyone challenging traditions? Will they be remembered in 200 years? Des this need to happen for the show to be a success?

In the first challenge artists were paired up and given about 12 hours to produce a portrait of their partner.  Although artists can face time constraints when drawing from models, generally artists can and do take work back to the studio.

The main problem with the show lies in the time constraint given to the artists. Since the show’s producers seek to show a work by each member of the remaining group of artists on a weekly basis, the show follows the Project Runway format. But artists are not like fashion designers who are basically all using similar materials to present basically same sized works (clothes for models). Contemporary artists create works using different materials, processes, media and sizes.

The show needs to accommodate this, the way that America’s Got Talent and American Idol do, giving the artists a week or more, plus whatever they require (such as video cameras, welding equipment and space, or computers and printing equipment) to make the art they want to show to the world.  The way to attract a really “Next Great Artist” is to give a budding but 21st Century artist the time to really show what they can produce to the world. That’s more enticing than a show at he Brooklyn Museum or $100,000.000 considering the reality show’s audience size. Then the show’s subtitle of “The Next Great Artist” might be fulfilled.

However, given only 12 hours and limited materials the show’s artists struggled to produce works as if they were in a classroom setting focusing more on producing what was requested for a grade than by being an off the wall original artist. The only two portraits that were not realistic were placed in the bottom three by the judges. One of the most original ideas made it to this sad heap, a work by Nao of Conceptual Art, which failed to identify itself as a portrait other than through its assigned (by the show) title: Portrait of Miles – but given some help, including a better title (Like Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living), plus time, might have completed its leap forward instead of falling flat of the mark.

As things stood, I would have chosen the same works, both as best and least as the judges. However, I am concerned at how Pollock, Judd, Koons, Holzer, Sherman, Kandinsky, Rothko or other artists who blazed new forms of art would have fared as emerging artists if confronted with this portrait assignment and given only 12 hours and limited materials?

What is overwhelmingly positive is that Bravo’s Work of Art brings a small slice of the Contemporary Art world into homes across America. While musicians and authors make the talk show route, appear on reality shows and also are popular as characters on fictional shows, fine artists, gallery owners and art critics are generally left out on TV.  For most of America, visits to cutting edge galleries of museums are rare as these exist in a handful of big cities like New York. When tourists visit New York, they are very likely to visit the major art museums but exceptionally unlikely to visit galleries, especially those that feature emerging artists.

The host of Work of Art is China Chow, who also serves as a judge. I am not really clear what qualifies her for this role other than her lovely presence, but so far she is doing a good job and is at least as qualified as the show’s also lovely producer, actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who collects art. It works because in art, and I guess now for shows about art, what inevitably qualifies an one is the level of the work produced.

The art world luminaries who dominate the show for the artists and art world, including those at home watching and even tweeting, are judges: Bill Powers, partner in New York’s Half Gallery and literary art contributor, Jerry Saltz, current art critic for New York Magazine, and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, curator and owner of Salon94 gallery; plus art auctioneer Simon de Pury who serves as mentor to the contestants.

While clever to sarcastic comments in print reviews, blogs, tweets and Facebook posts have compared the judges and mentor to those on other reality shows or even questioned their sanity for appearing on such a reality show, in the first episode they all did a good job of critiquing the art work in ways that both the artists and art world—plus those who are comfy at home watching this new entertainment, could understand. They also accomplished this without resorting to the drama, snide or rude comments or posturing sometimes seen on other reality shows.

“Art is a way of showing to the outside what’s on the inside.” – Jerry Saltz

As a reality show Work of Art is meant to entertain.  If it also broadens the audience, reach and understanding of good Contemporary fine art then this show is a resounding success for Contemporary Art. Plus, if it is a strong enough ratings success, it could inspire more programs that focus on art. So again, I say: thumbs up.

Join me @judyrey on Twitter to watch and Tweet on next Wednesday at 11 p.m. EDT under the tag of #workofart

Want to read more about the show? Jerry Saltz has his own insightful and humorous critique of the show and his participation in his New York Magazine article.

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Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art theory is based at the intersection of ancient spiritual wisdom and cutting edge contemporary science. It shows us a new and enhanced spiritual and science based way to see the world. It is a life changing vision that can even become an actual new way of seeing that is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Can this be true?  See for yourself. See more. Read:  In the Beginning

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Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art at ungravenimage.com.

Download a free copy click: Manifesto of Post Conceptual Art– A Painting’s Meaning is Inherent in its Stroke.

Check out the images and availability of limited and open edition prints — Click: store.

Follow her on Twitter at @judyrey

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