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Archive for January, 2013

25th Jan 2013

Hands Duet (Study) by Da Vinci & Wasserman

We learn by doing.

This week I learned by doing. The new artwork at the bottom of this blog, Hands Duet (Study) by Da Vinci & Wasserman, is the result of that “doing”, which was inspired by art, including works by Picasso, Warhol and Basquiat, plus a special musical duet

In previous centuries students learned to write (compose in English) by copying the writings of recognized authors. I remember reading that in the USA it was especially popular for students to copy the writings of Ben Franklin.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” — Ben Franklin

As an art student my class was assigned to take a well known painting and create an illustrated report about the work, how it came to be, its development, etc. The illustrations had to be hand-drawn, not photocopied, however we were allowed to use tracings. We had a few days to think about what work we would select, and I chose Gurenica because it is large and would at least give me many elements to use for illustrations, plus it is gray-scale, which challenges me as myteacher(s) and I know that my personal strong suit is color. It would have been far too obvious and easy for me to have selected a work by Monet, van Gogh or Matisse.

In New York City the public library with greatest selection of art reference materials was the now closed Donnell, located not far from MOMA (and Guernica was then visiting MOMA). At the library I discover a treasure trove of information in reference books on Guernica. Picasso had made many sketches and paintings as he experimented with figures that he used to populate Guernica.

The one that fascinated me then and continues to live hauntingly in the memory behind my eyes is the figure know as the Weeping Woman. Ironically, Dora Maar, the model for Weeping Woman, also photographed the stages and progress of Guenica, providing me with so much material.

I spent many afternoons in the library meticulously tracing Picasso’s drawings and paintings, especially the variations of the Weeping Woman.

Although I never met Picasso in person (although I later learned my my teacher, Bertram Katz had), yet more than any class I have ever taken, Picasso taught me how to draw. It was a masterclass on how to draw, and how to plan out a great work of art, conducted by Picasso in library and then at MoMA as after the tracing sessions I would head to MoMA to closely examine and compare the sections of Guernica to the tracings of preliminary sketches I held in my hands.

Since that assignment I have traced drawings by other great artists because it helped me learn. Except for the Guernica report that I have kept, the tracings went into the trash, having accomplished their purpose.

When I decided to create my own Essence Portraits of various artists, no longer tracing, but drawing and painting following the Post Conceptual tenets of UnGraven Image (symbols as strokes) it was natural for me to turn to the self portraits of Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Monet and van Gogh (and coming soon Cezanne).

Recently, I realized that I have been blessed with another benefit from the Guennica assignment, I am very comfortable “working” with great artists.

Other Contemporary and Modern artists have appropriated works or parts of works by renowned artists, or unrecognized designers of commercial products, such as Brillo boxes or the Marlboro Man. Famously, Andy Warhol appropriated Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and in his latter The Last Supper paintings, which he made very much his own.

Thanks to modern technology, iconic actors and singers are reappearing in new works musical works and commercials as their images and music are combined with new ones. My favorite, and the inspiration for my new art series, is a duet of the now adult Natalie Cole her father Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable”.

A few years ago, when I first saw the new “Unforgettable” video, I thought it would be lovely to be able to accomplish the same thing in art, a duet that does not appropriate a work into something totally different of my own, but instead harmonizes, works with another great artist to create our new work while I manage to acknowledge the “parental” inspiration of the other artist. The only paintings that I can think of that managed to successfully be duets, where the clear voices of two different artists were clearly seen, without one overshadowing the other are the ones from Warhol and Basquiat, but they were both alive at the time.

This is the second Duet work in the series. It is a study that began as an accident as I forgot to set the fine art printer to black only — and it produced the Da Vinci drawing of hands (altered from the original sketches to just show the hands against a white background) in sepia and umber. It was late in the day, and rather than print a new black and white version, I began to kind of “trace”, in Post Conceptual UnGraven Image style, some of the darer area is black. I used the letters of Deuteronomy 6 for the strokes because I had a print out of it at hand from the Essence Portrait I had just created with that text. I was just fooling around, tracing Da Vinci’s shapes and lines by using Torah font letters as my strokes.

In the spirit of the Duets idea, I added the blue to the sleeves. That had appeal so I continued on with another archival pigment ink pen that claims to be pure brown, but is more orange-sepia to me. Whatever, the color works here.

From Picasso and other artists I learned to call  a smaller work “Study” to indicate that the artist is not really sure where this is going, is experimenting, and in not way wants this work credited as a major one. Certainly for Da Vinci this comes from a sketch, not a finished drawing.
Duet Hands by Da Vinci & Wasserman

Hands Duet (study) by Leonardo Da Vinci and Judy Rey Wasserman

Wasserman’s strokes are the Torah font letters of Deuteronomy 6

See previous blog posts and images about Leonardo Da Vinc  and Picasso by Judy Rey Wasserman

Did Leonardo Da Vinci Envision Post Conceptual Art?

Leonardo Da Vinci Essence Portrait

Pablo Picasso’s Essence Portrait – Psalm 46

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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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16th Jan 2013

Romp through Modern & Contemporary Art in What Are You Looking At?

What Are You Looking At? by Will Gompertz is a wonderful romp through the narrative history of art from Impressionism to the present day.

What Are You Looking At? by Will Gompertz Gompertz is an art insider, the former director of London’s Tate Gallery and now the Arts Editor for the BBC. He knows where the bodies — or paintbrushes– are buried. He shares his “secrets” in a gossipy tell-all style laced with with and laugh provoking humor. Art stars of the past 150 years come alive and dry history becomes a stand up comedy routine, which is how this book first began. What Are You Looking At?, began as stand-up comedy at a Fringe Festival.Although funny and irrelevant, Gompertz always manages to pay homage to the great art and artists that populate his pages.

Obviously, the prime audience for this book is people who are interested in art, or want to find out why a dead shark in a tank, a cube, or a canvas filled with drips could fetch such high prices. However, this is also splendid book for entrepreneurs or anyone who is involved with launching a radically new idea in any field because it shows the oft repeated history of innovators.

The history of modern art is populated with people who failed. And failed. They were mocked. They were rejected by those in the establishment. Where mocked. Yet, somehow, the radical innovative artist caught the attention of at least one person, who would support and help propel their ideas, which led to ultimate and great success. These relationships and their anecdotal stories, between artists and other artists (such as Manet and the younger Impressionists or Picasso and Braque),artists and dealers, and artists and collectors that make this book special.

The book takes off from the moment its cover is opened with an impressive and helpful road map–like timeline that elegantly visually shows the innovative, influential artists connected to the next radical (and innovative, influential artists) who they influenced.Even though I knew the history of Modern and Contemporary art, I saw connections in new ways.

Aside being a good gift for artists to give to family and friends who, well, just do not see Contemporary Art as Art, this book is also be a fun and even revealing for those who “know“art history.

<– Click to buy now!

Note: Judy Rey Wasserman only reviews what she likes and is worth sharing with her friends, which includes readers and Twitter followers. This includes art shows, books, movies and sometimes even TV shows that deal with art or artists, or scientific and inspirational topics covered by the blog at artofseeingthedivine.com.

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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

Posted by Posted by judyrey under Filed under Art Theory and Show Reviews Comments No Comments »

09th Jan 2013

Does the Art Market Have More Than One Bubble?

The “art market” is like champagne; it is exciting, has bubbles and can make some people a bit giddy. Some of these champagne art bubbles can, and will, burst. That is the history of the art market, and as its history repeats itself, its future. We saw this happen when the French Academy favored the art stars of its day, refusing to allow in the group dubbed: Impressionists.  The ascending bubbles of many of the established Academy artists burst over time and their works sell today for far less than those of the then new and radical Impressionists who struggled to earn a living. 

Currently in print and online an ever growing swarm of articles posit that the works the Modern and Contemporary artists whose works have reached the highest auction prices point the likelihood that the Art Market is a bubble that is about to burst.  Seems to me that the lessons of Western Art history are being avoided as carefully as the obvious pun on the reality that bubbles also “pop”, since the artists most maligned are actually Pop artists or related to Pop Art.  The artists most mentioned and in the cross-hairs of the controversy stirring art business writers are: Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.

Andy Warhol Double Denied by Judy Rey Wasserman

Psalm 19 (Andy Warhol) Double Un-Denied by Judy Rey Wasserman
Strokes = Original Torah font letters of Psalm 19

The history of the art market is damp with the many burst bubbles of various individual artists, as their contributions to the ongoing thrust of art history were reevaluated.  However, the entirety of the Art Market never burst, just the market for specific individual artists. The opposite is also true as the works of other, previously less well known artist became more revered and their prices increased. A good example of this would be the Barbizon artists who are credited with influencing the Impressionists and Post Impressionists.

Since the Renaissance successfully investing in art has always been elegantly simple and often quite financially accessible for the middle class as well as the very wealthy. All one needs to do is discover the next artist who will change the history of art and invest in him (or her) before they are finally discovered by the very rich, so their prices went up.

The history of Modern Art is full of true stories of now iconic ultra blue-chip artists were at first rejected because their work was too radical and different from what was popular until they came along.  Sensational or weird is often mistaken for radical — which means a new way of making or conceiving art – a different focus.

Monet, van Gogh, Kandinsky, Picasso, Pollack and Warhol are all artists who pioneered new and radical art, and ways of making art, in their own times.  Look back through the history of art and it can easily be seen that great artists are trailblazers, a risk takers, who contributed more than just a unique style that could later be built upon by another radical, trailblazing, risk taking artist.

There are many artists who are painting Impressionist works today. Some are fantastic – but they are not radical, not reformers, they are only elegantly plowing a previously well plowed field and the best make a good living. So, we do not revere their work. No risk.

Etched into art history are names of art dealers, such as Paul Durand-Ruel Ambroise Vollard, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Peggy Guggenheim, Irving Blum, and Leo Castelli, because they originally championed the works of artists mentioned previously – they risked.

Leo Castelli Deuteronomy 6 portrait by Judy Rey Wasserman

Deuteronomy 6 (Leo Castelli) by Judy Rey Wasserman
Strokes = Original Torah font letters of Deuteronomy 6

In a recent letter to the editor of the New York Times, entitled “Invitation to a Dialogue: An Art Market Bubble?” William Cole juxtaposed the 1971 the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquisition of Velázquez’s “Portrait of Juan de Pareja” for $5.5 million ($31.4 million in 2012 dollars), then the highest price ever paid for a work of art with the considerably higher prices (even when adjusted for inflation) reached at auction for the top selling Modern and Contemporary artists.

Museum curators know that some works are difficult to hang as they will “steal” the scene from the other works in the room.  Yet, as an artist, I can easily mention or imagine hanging an equally good work by Monet, van Gogh, Cezanne, Kandinsky, Picasso, Pollack and Warhol near Velázquez’s “Portrait of Juan de Pareja”, without anyone outrageously stealing the show.

 van Gogh Psalm 113 portrait by Judy Rey Wasserman

Psalm 113 (Vincent van Gogh)  by Judy Rey Wasserman
Strokes = Original Torah font letters of Psalm 113

Further, the behavior of collectors in 1971 in relation to a pre-modern masterwork does not reflect what such a work could sell for at auction today. There are exceedingly few masterworks by great artists that predate modern art that are available at auction. What might be relevant to the discussion is the recently rediscovered and authenticated Da Vinci “Salvator Mundi,” a 2-foot-high (0.6 meter) panel painting Christ, once owned by King Charles I, valued by dealers at a record $200 million.

Da Vinci, and almost all once radical, blue-chip scene stealing artists have one other thing in common. They have all inspired other later artists who in turn were radical, scene stealing and became or will become blue-chip artists. Both Koons and Hirst are influenced by Warhol. The question remains: what new, truly radical artist will be influenced by their works, if any? It is perhaps a bit soon to answer such a question.

The exhibit at the Metropolitan shows some of the many artists who have been influenced by Andy Warhol, and more artists, such as myself (armed with a manifesto) are now waiting in the wings.  As Eric Shiner, Director of The Andy Warhol Museum, noted in his letter-reply to the editor of the New York Times, “Warhol changed the visual vocabulary of the United States, and by extension the world, through his radical departure from preconceived notions of what art is, how it functions, and, yes, ultimately how it is sold, traded and collected.”

Recessions, depressions, inflations, or boon times can change the monetary worth of an individual masterpiece, since the value of the currency itself changes. Does the essential value of the Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s David or Rembrandt’s The Night Watch really change based on the economy or currency valuation? Of course not.

While investors at auctions can make straws out of paper money to inflate or prop up the failing market for an artist who is clever but never truly art-radical, eventually whatever is only given shape by air (or gas) will burst or dissipate. Secondary galleries are littered with the works of artists from the nineteenth and early twentieth century who were well known in their time, but were not at the forefront of the movement they followed and never inspired the work of an artist that became blue chip. Quietly, one by one, those little bubbles burst as the prices for those artworks, when inflation is factored in, devalue in price.

The whole of the art market will not suffer, or decrease in value, because historically that is not what occurs. The market for individual artists burst. Sometimes, seemingly all at once due to financial conditions in the society, or because the new radical artists come along, the artists who only have style begin to seem less important or valuable.

Art history continues to be written by artists with radical new ideas, but the art market continues to be a version of history repeating itself.

Your comments are welcomed below.

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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

Posted by Posted by judyrey under Filed under Art & Inspiration, Art Theory and Show Reviews Comments No Comments »