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Posted by erika rae  |  22 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)

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With all of the culture available to NYers, it might have been easy to miss the massive Picasso original that's been hanging in what is now the Four Seasons restaurant (in the Seagram Building) on Park Avenue since 1959. That being said, there are plenty of locals and tourists alike who wait hours to have the chance to see one of the area's many hidden art gems. "Le Tricorne"—a depiction of a bullfighting scene—is a 19’ × 20’ canvas, originally painted in 1919 and used as a stage curtain for the Ballets Russes. At the time, his wife Olga was a ballerina in the troupe.

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The real question here is, why is it being moved at all? It turns out that Aby J. Rosen, owner of the Seagram Building, doesn't want the piece up in the space anymore and wants more room for "other art"—I'd be interested to know what he will find worthy of replacing a Picasso. This didn't really present much of an issue, considering that Rosen doesn't even own the piece. That honor goes to the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

The handlers in charge of moving the piece had no idea as to how or what was keeping the art attached to the wall, making for an adventurous and relatively risky removal process. The New York Times recently put together a fantastic look at how "Le Tricorne" was analyzed and moved from the area:

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Posted by erika rae  |  22 Aug 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Let me just start off by saying that I don't condone illegal forgery or theft—but I do think that someone who can put the art world in a tizzy with his own look-alike art without breaking any sort of law deserves some major props. Mark Landis is that man. And we're not talking paint-by-numbers, either. Landis's work may not follow the original mediums of his source material—he even mentions using colored pencils where a Sotheby's expert would cite chalk—but his work has been displayed in buildings around the country. Disguised as a philanthropist, Landis spends his time making obscure donations to organizations in order to have his work displayed.

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That's all good and well, but here's where it gets really interesting: Registrar Matthew Leininger caught on to Landis's trick and starting following his moves. While the eccentric forger's story is well-documented—Google his name and you'll get results from the likes of the New York Times and the The Daily Beast—a new, Kickstarted documentary presents the cat-and-mouse dynamic between the two as Landis convinces 46 museums in 20 different states to display over 100 pieces of his work. Art and Craft has the makings of a real-life manhunt thriller—think Catch Me If You Can sans the DiCaprio/Hanks draw and fewer costume changes. Check out the trailer:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  14 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Last night, artist Jeong-Hyun Seok released this astonishing digital painting on social media, and it soon began popping up all over my feeds, racking up tens of thousands of shares, "Likes" and forwards in a matter of hours. It's no surprise why—the digital illustrator has managed to sum up human life in a few minutes using a Wacom tablet and Painter 11:

Seok whipped this out as a calling card for a digital illustration class he's teaching in Seoul. Judging by the comments coming in on the video in a multitude of languages, it's safe to say he's overshot his local market. Wacom and Corel oughta sponsor this guy.

Posted by Kat Bauman  |  13 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Can you call it a selfie when the self is programmed? Regardless of the semantics, there's something simultaneously obnoxious and sweet about a self-involved robot, and several recent series document a startling trend towards public vanity in our high tech friends. The first offender: the Google cam! Bored with recording every knowable foot of street and path throughout the globe, Google Cam dispatched to locations of social and cultural import to take in our art too. As a part of the Cultural Institute project the wheeled voyeur was pushed through numerous galleries to document both the spaces and their historic contents. Thanks to the vigilance of artist Mario Santamaria, we now know the large undertaking was punctuated with less high-minded photos too. Santamaria, an artist based in Barcelona, created a tumblr called The Camera In The Mirror, collecting the many odd moments that the Google camera snapped itself in a mirror. The result is eerily Kubricky, Lynchish for sure, with a touch of.. Wall-E?

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  23 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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I hate to write this, but "You'll never believe what happens next!"

Speaking of anamorphosis, check out French artist Bernard Pras' nutty room-sized sculpture below. Pras practices the cylinder-free variant of anamorphosis, and the results have to be seen to be believed:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Charles Edward Stuart, colloquially referred to as Bonnie Prince Charlie, fomented the Jacobite uprising of 1745 in an effort to seize the British throne. Charlie's Scottish troops were defeated in battle a year later and he fled to France. In the brutal English crackdown that ensued, Scottish households found to contain a portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie were in for trouble, so former supporters interested in surviving got rid of them.

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But not all of them. One artist used a clever technique to secretly hide a portrait of BPC in plain sight. A seemingly abstract circular pattern was painted on a tray...

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...and once a mirrored cylinder was placed in the center, boom, you had Bonnie Prince Charlie staring back at you.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  21 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If design school served you well, the sketches you were cranking out senior year should've been a damn sight better than your freshman scribbles. As your skills continue to develop, is there anything more painful for a creative than to look back at your early work? Do you save your lame renderings from 2004 for posterity, or junk them because they're no longer representative of your current skillset?

Dutch artist Telmo Pieper saved his drawings from childhood—and, amusingly, updated them using the modern-day digital painting skills he presumably did not possess at four years of age. The resultant works are called his "kiddie arts series" and they're pretty awesome.

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Posted by Ray  |  18 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Like many designspotters, we first took note of Jólan Van der Wiel at the Transnatural exhibition in Milan in 2012, one of two exhibitions that included his "Gravity Stools" (we saw him in Ventura Lambrate as well). He's been busy since then, transposing his magnetic modus operandi to couture—with fellow Amsterdammer/futurist Iris van Herpen, of course— and now, with a project called "Architecture Meets Magnetism," into ceramics.

By developing a formula for clay slip with iron fillings, the Gerrit Rietveld Academy grad (and now teacher) arrived at a material that he calls 'dragonstone.' Wired's Liz Stinson likens them to Tim Burton machinations, but I'm seeing some Giger-worthy gnarliness in the extruded stalagmite carapaces. The designer, for his part, was inpsired by Gaudí: In Dezeen, van der Wiel expresses admiration for the Spanish architect's use of "gravity to calculate the final shape of [La Sagrada Familia]." "I thought, 'What if he had to power the turn off the gravitational field for a while?' Then he could have made the building straight up."

The project is part of ongoing research into the applications of magnetic forces, which Van der Wiel conducted at the European Ceramic Workcentre in Den Bosch.
After discovering that clay could be shaped by magnetism, he is now exploring applications for the technique in architecture.
"The idea of creating buildings with magnetic field has always fascinated me," said Van der Wiel. "I'm drawn to the idea that the force would make the final design of the building—architects would only have to think about the rough shape and a natural force would do the rest."
"This would create a totally different architectural field," he added. "These are the very first models showing how future buildings and objects could look when they are shaped by natural forces."

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Posted by erika rae  |  15 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Ed. Note: This post has been updated with the correct name of the artist. His name is Ren Yue, not Ren Ri.

Much like urban gardening, beekeeping seems to have inspired renewed interest among hobbyists around the world. Sure, it's got a certain appeal for DIYers who have graduated from pickling and homebrewing, but its also got the ecological upshot as a response to the precipitous decline in the global bee population (we've previously seen a design solution that addresses the issue scientifically known as Colony Collapse Disorder, which was the subject of a recent Op-Ed in the Times). Ren Yue is a Beijing-based bee enthusiast who falls into that beekeeper population, but he's also an artist—and it's safe to say that he's not your average honey harvester.

Ren started studying honeybees back in 2008. After a couple of years spent learning the art of beekeeping and observing how the hives function, he developed a strategy that turns the hive's beeswax into semi-calculated sculptures. Ren lets nature run its course for a large part of the second installment of the series, titled "Yuansu II," but does provide a few prefabricated touches of his own—plastic vessels to house the hives and a weekly 'rotation' schedule for the constructions.

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By housing the queen bee in the center of each structure, Ren was able to 'engineer' the architecture of the hive: Worker bees naturally began to build out from her location in all directions, leaving a waxy hexagonal structure in their wake. He rotated the plastic cases every seven days—a biblical reference—to give the queen and her workers a new center of gravity to work from, resulting in an undulating final form. Ren never planned which way to turn the sculptures—a roll of the dice made that decision, introducing a nice touch of spontaneity to a highly ordered process of nature.

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Posted by Ray  |   8 Jul 2014  |  Comments (5)

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Well, you could always take a cue from our favorite IKEA hack of all time and use them to fuel a fire... but not only does burning pallets lack the elegance of the ad hoc bow drill (in the above hack), there are any number of reasons not to scrap them for firewood.*

We've seen from at least a few pallet-based design projects, including upcycled chairs and a full-fledged office, not to mention our own pop-up exhibition design. Among the pallet facts that we picked up along the way—some 700 million pallets are manufactured each year; North American standard pallets measure in at 48” × 40”—we were interested to learn that the EPAL-spec'd EUR-pallet comes in at different dimensions and standards.

It so happens that the 1200×800mm2 Europallet, as it is colloquially known, is suitably sized to span the (active) tram tracks that criss-cross certain cities around the world. Whereas several stateside and Italian streetcar systems run on 'broad gauge' tracks—wider than the 1435mm standard gauge that also turns up in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Germany, etc.—the taxonomy also includes narrow gauge tracks, including a one-meter width in cities such as Antwerp, Basel, Belgrade, Bern, Frankfurt, Geneva, Ghent, Helsinki, Zürich to name a few. (Different widths are named after different locales, including Russian, Irish, Iberian and Indian, all of which are broad gauge; see the full list here.)

And while trams are certainly a practical mode of transportation, the tracks can be a hazard to certain smaller-wheeled vehicles such as bicycles or skateboards. Which brings us to Tomas Moravec's pallet hack:

While the Slovakian artist has created many performative works of sculpture, installation and video art since he made the Duchamp-meets-Alÿs piece in 2008, the video went up just a few months ago. The brief description notes that Bratislavan trams run on felicitously narrow 1000mm-wide tracks: "A new transport vehicle brings change into the spatial perspective of a passenger in motion and generally changes the life of the city, through which the pallet can run, guided by a map of the city lines." (We have to assume that it would technically work in any of the cities listed above as well.)

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Posted by erika rae  |   1 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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It's unfortunate that we can't all take in the swirling blues and greens of the large bodies of water that make up 70 percent of the Earth's surface in person—by scientists' best estimates, we've explored less than five percent of the depths. Yet the azure expanse has long been a source of inspiration for artists and designers, and Ben Young's handmade glass sculptures capture the essence of the seas with the "frozen in time/space" feel of Umberto Boccioni's "Unique Forms of Continuity in Space." The almost childlike simplicity of his work belies the painstaking process behind the evocative three-dimensional illustrations.

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The work ranges from a seashore scene featuring a lighthouse and water-bashed rock formations to more abstract wave columns pitted with airy chasms. The attention-grabbing sculptures are all the more impressive because the Sydney-based designer crafts them entirely by hand. In a world where each week brings a new 3D-printed whattchamacallit to the novelty-hungry blogosphere, it's refreshing to discover something that boasts the precision of today's technology but is actually made by hand. Looking at the glass-cut waves, it's easy to assume that the intricate peaks and troughs come alive with help from modern tech, but Young assures us that it's all done with a few glass-cutting tools and a whole lot of mind power. "There's not a computer or machine involved in the whole process," he says.

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Check out this video to hear Young talk about his creative process (it includes a lot of surfing and skateboarding—which might explain his intimate grasp on nature's curves):

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Posted by erika rae  |  26 Jun 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Flowers are great—until they wilt after a couple of days and find a new home in the trash can. Harvard research fellow and chemio-"botanist" Wim Noorduin has found away to capture the same beauty of a fresh bouquet in an entirely new way. His microbial art—what he calls crystal nano flowers—may be invisible to the naked eye, but take a look at them under a microscope and, lo and behold, an entire arrangement has blossomed in front of your eyes.

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Much like nurturing a bonsai tree, Noorduin engineers the crystals as they bloom into floral bouquets. The process itself is surprisingly simple: Noorduin combines a mixture of inexpensive chemicals in a beaker, which crystallize over the course of two hours. He manipulates the crystals as they grow to give them them shape, color and dimension. Each structure measures in at around the diameter of a single hair.

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Check out the video from Creator's Project for more insight into the work:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

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A statue is supposed to be forever, and we're all lucky that Michelangelo's David has survived for over five centuries. But a recently unveiled statue in the Kazazh city of Ust-Kamenogorsk lasted just one day before authorities yanked it off of the public corner where it was installed.

The statue featured two people, Kazakh philosopher/composer Abay Kunanbayev and Russian scientist/political activist Yevgeny Mikhaelis. Unfortunately, the sculptors of the memorial were reportedly not given adequate time to develop their masterpiece; as a result, the poorly-proportioned men resemble fantasy creatures more than human beings. Even worse, Mikhaelis is depicted as holding some sort of rectangular object in his outstretched hand. The result, irritated locals reported, resembles two Hobbits taking a selfie.

"We were in a huge rush," co-sculptor Vladimir Samoylov said, "and look what happened."

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Authorities say the statue will be re-worked and re-installed.

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Posted by erika rae  |  16 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Reportedly developed some four millenia ago and revived by Italian artisans in the 16th Century, murrine is among those crafts that long predates the much-ballyhooed contemporary craft movement. Yet artist Loren Stump has found a way to breathe new life into the age-old glass design technique, in which canes of glass are fused (in parallel) and sliced to reveal intricately patterned sections. (Picture a Swiss cake roll, or that bakeable play-dough that could be mashed together and sliced to similar effect.)

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As with Takayo Kiyota's sushi art, Stump works backward from a two-dimensional image, extruding the picture plane to extrapolate an arrangement of colored rods. Apparently he likes a challenge, considering he tends to to take on extremely detailed historical images like Da Vinci's Virgin on the Rocks (seen above) and Henry VIII. He also does commissioned pieces, if you've got any special requests.

Stump started out as a stained glass artist and eventually made the switch to working with molten varieties and creating his own process and tools—including a mysterious vacuum-controlled apparatus called the Stumpsucker.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  11 Jun 2014  |  Comments (1)

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I loves me some booze, but I can't stand cocktails. Anything I drink, I drink straight. This has nothing to do with manliness and everything to do with respecting the craft of the liquor manufacturers I patronize. There are families that spent centuries getting their distillation process just right, tweaking the flavors, getting the profiles just so, then you animals go and dump your pomegranate juice into it? You don't cover a Le Corbusier chaise longue with a throw blanket, nor spray fluorescent green paint on a Rembrandt because it's trendy. Please remember that cocktails became popular during Prohibition, when you needed to mask the taste of the nasty bathtub gin that was all you could get back then.

BevShots is a company that recognizes booze as art--but in their eyes, a visual art. Started by research scientist Michael Davidson, the organization puts crystallized booze on a slide and photographs it through a polarized light microscope. The results are stunningly beautiful, as you can see here.

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Posted by erika rae  |   5 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

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We've been taking inspiration from nature for a long time—and in typical throwback fashion, this week's topic is far from new. Jizai Okimono—which translates to "move freely decorative object" and describes the art of carving animals from materials like wood, iron and copper featuring animated joints that are just as functional as the living subjects—has been around since the late 1700s. Sushi Factory, a user on Flickr, seems to have a good amount of information on the beginnings of this artform: "Among works which bear dates, the earliest known is a dragon bearing a line-engraved signature of its maker Myochin Muneaki dated 1713. This is followed by a butterfly with a line-engraved signature by craftsman Myochin Muneyasu, dated 1753."

Like with any truly memorable artform, this craft was built on a group of people with a big batch of freetime. In this instance, we can thank the metalsmiths and armor makers of centuries past for bringing this artistry to light after the demand for armor plummeted. Each subject comes with its own difficultly level—the lobster being considered the most intricate of all.

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Recently, Ryosuke Ohtake—a 25-year-old artist based in Tokyo—impressed Jizai Okimono artists and enthusiasts with his carved lobster. Here's the kicker: It was his first go-around in Jizai Okimono. Here's a video of Ohtake demonstrating the flexibility of his design's joints:

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Posted by Ray  |   5 Jun 2014  |  Comments (1)

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I'd declared it in so many words in the Editor's Note to the inaugural issue of the C77 Design Daily, but I must admit I was expressly thinking of the Kara Walker installation at the Domino Sugar Factory when I wrote the first sentences of that short text:

We live in an age of spectacle, and so too does it seem like reality is more spectacular than ever before. Between the endless airspace of social media and the inconceivably powerful devices we carry along with our pocket change, we are all but expected to express ourselves at every turn—who can fault us for indulging in the collective narcissism? Instagrammability is an unspoken criteria for the barrage of phenomena that surround us, and product, furniture and exhibition design are among the many things that will be captured, filtered and liked by thousands of eyeballs and fingertips... most of which will never come in contact with the actual things or places.

Cheeky not only for its title—"A Subtlety" is ostensibly ironic but is actually an allusion to a medieval confection—Walker's highly photogenic (albeit often blown-out) room-sized sphinx has high cheekbones and a prodigious posterior, among other unsubtle traits. That, and the fact that the massive, 35ft-high, 75ft-long mammy lords over her adoring public, her exaggerated mammaries and genitalia more cartoonish than obscene. Reportedly sculpted from some 40 tons of sugar (it's not solid), non-profit arts organization Creative Time commissioned the piece from Walker, which is accompanied by attendants scattered throughout the turbine hall-like space of the former sugar refinery; it also happens to be the first three-dimensional work for the New York-based artist, who is best known for her silhouetted cut-outs.

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In the interest of providing context (both for those of you who are planning on visiting and those of you who will vicariously consume it via the Internet), some recommended reading: Hrag Vartanian's take includes with a brief history of the site (partly adapted from an October 2013 Times article) alongside his photo essay; Audie Cornish's helpfully descriptive NPR story; and Hilton Als' erudite yet accessible blogpost for The New Yorker.

Much has been made of the subtitular wall text, printed in foot-high letters on the exterior of the building (and reproduced in the video and all of the articles above), but loaded rhetoric aside, there is indeed a certain subtlety to the craftsmanship behind the piece. It's hard to tell from the time lapse video above, but the Art21 segment below nicely captures both Walker's myriad reference points and the actual fabrication of the work, which was assembled and hand-finished in situ. Self-styled scholars can read up at their leisure; the makers among you might be more interested in the middle section of the video:

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Posted by erika rae  |  30 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If you liked our write-up on the artists behind the gold-gilded pub mirrors we ran a while back, you'll want to tune into this. While we typically take signage for granted, whether it promises the "Biggest Sale Ever!" or contains a particularly humorous typo, there's an artform hidden between the lines that most of us don't ever hear about. Directors Faythe Levine & Sam Macon went on a journey to put a spotlight on a community they saw falling to the wayside—sign painters. The result is "Sign Painters," a documentary featuring the hands behind the painted signs on storefront windows, walls, billboards and just about every other texted surface you can think of.

SignPainters-Directors.jpgFaythe Levine and Sam Macon, directors of Sign Painters

It takes more than just a steady hand to make it in the sign-painting world. According to the documentary synopsis: "What was once a common job has now become a highly specialized underground trade, a unique craft struggling with technological advances." The film features anecdotes from famed sign painters including Ira Coyne, Bob Dewhurst, Keith Knecht, Norma Jeane Maloney and Stephen Powers. Check out the trailer:

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Posted by erika rae  |  19 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Growing up, my parents raised me on the disposition that it's good to be uncomfortable once in a while. "It puts hair on your chest," my dad would always say. While that didn't make any sense at the time, I grew to learn that symbolically, he speaks the truth. So, in turn, I like my art to be a little challenging. Much like Studio KK's series "The Uncomfortable"—which features furry plates, a cement umbrella, toe-less galoshes and tilted chairs—Seyo Cizmic's ceramic work embodies a similar sentiment, while edging a bit into the realm political commentary. The San Diego-based ceramicist/painter incorporates both physical and mental contradictions that leave the viewer equal parts contemplative and unsettled.

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Aside from ceramics, Cizmic also dabbles in filmmaking. My Design Week saturated brain's first response to his short "Everyone has a Song in their Hearts" goes something like this: "Woah, that's a lot of shoes." Obviously, it's a little more involved than that. Check it out:

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Posted by erika rae  |   8 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Long before the days of annually featured colors with quirky names, there was this monster of a book by a mysterious artists that goes by A. Boogert. It comes in around 800 pages and features every color you can imagine—much like a grandaddy of the beloved Pantone color guide. Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel (talk about a job title) found this encyclopedia and quickly it lit up the Internet after he featured his find on his blog.

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Kwakkel goes into more detail on where he found the book and what Boogert shared in the book on his blog:

I encountered this Dutch book from 1692 in a French database today and it turns out to be quite special. For one thing, no Dutch scholar appears to have published on it, or even to know about it. Moreover, the object is special because it provides an unusual peek into the workshop of 17th-century painters and illustrators. In over 700 pages of handwritten Dutch, the author, who identifies himself as A. Boogert describes how to make watercolor paints. To illustrate his point he fills each facing page with various shades of the color in question. To top it he made an index of all the colors he described, which in itself is a feast to look at.

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Posted by erika rae  |   2 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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A quick glance at Nicolas Jolly's most recent work and it could be easy to simply write it off as swirling, Van Gogh inspired works of art. By now we all know that there's always much more hidden in the details when it comes to fine art (conceptually or aesthetically) and that spending an extra second investigating is usually worth it—which is exactly the case here. Jolly, a French artist who knows how to make some serious magic happen with India ink—takes thousands of his own fingerprints and creates tenacious works of art. Talk about a signature style.

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The lines are connected and extended to form finished pieces that languorously pulls the eye through loops created by a natural fingerprint. By switching up the width and length of his fingerprints, Jolly is able to portray different shadows, shapes and light into his work.

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Posted by erika rae  |  24 Apr 2014  |  Comments (1)

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This is a throwback for two reasons: Andy Warhol and floppy disks. Just recently, a series of digital paintings done by Warhol for Amiga Computers back was exhumed from a group of floppy disks dating back to 1985. The search for these previously unearthed pieces all started with an inquiry from artist Cory Arcangel, who suggested restoring the hardware to the Andy Warhol Museum after seeing a promotional video of Warhol working on the Amiga 100 on YouTube. At the notion of undiscovered work from such a name, Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Club teamed up with the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and the Hillman Photography Initiative to embark on an extraction project to see if there were any unreleased paintings hidden among the floppy disk fossils—and, of course, there were.

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That video Arcangel saw? Here it is (complete with an awkwardly sultry Debbie Harry):

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Posted by erika rae  |  16 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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You may not see much of your well-worn childhood flip books past the age of 10—or maybe even younger thanks to the intrigue of more developed, tech-savvy toys. Juan Fontanive has something to say about that. His series of motorized flip books feature lifted images from Audubon guides that loop through colorful images of birds and illustrations of butterflies. The tiny sculptures-gone-film-art are made up of mixture of miniature gears, sprockets, clips, nuts, bolts and wormwheels. The result is an oddly soothing, page-flipping loop. Check out his newest compilations in action:

"Ornithology S."

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Posted by erika rae  |  14 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Most of us know the disappointment of biting into a piece of fruit or a veggie imagining one taste and getting something totally unexpected. Not only is it unfortunate in the moment, but it can ruin a specific food forever if the mishap is memorable enough. Artist Hika Rucho has created a series that won't taste bad and is mighty easy to admire.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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While Chuck Close's tool of choice was the pencil, artist Seung Mo Park makes his marks with a very different medium: Stainless steel mesh.

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