Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Peter Schjeldahl And I Are Different: An Exploration

I love and cherish the New Yorker magazine, but it just. Comes. So. Often. Am I right, New Yorker subscribers? There is a lot in each issue! It's not like Us Weekly where you can knock one out during your lunch break. That thing is DENSE. And you get one and then a week later you get another? Craziness. (I'm just teasing, New Yorker. Don't ever change. Kisses.)

Anyway, I was reading the New Yorker from last April, and there was a cool little article by Peter Schjeldahl about a show at the Frick that included pieces on loan from the Norton Simon.

I feel like the Norton Simon keeps sort of a low profile in LA, but yet it's amazing. Peter Schjeldahl said something like "It has the best painting collection on the West Coast." That is a guesstiquote, because I don't have access to the article because back issues of the New Yorker online is by subscription only (cough*EVIL*cough.)

Schjeldahl's article addresses the idea that memory is inherently subjective and imperfect, especially when it comes to art. We might remember one detail in stark clarity, but completely forget another aspect of a painting. He makes specific reference to a painting by Francisco de Zurbarán,"Still Life with Lemons, Oranges, and a Rose." Here's the painting:

I can't say this painting is lighting my fire, which would probably be way #1 in which I am different than Peter Schjeldahl. He LOVES this painting, specifically the citrons (they're obviously citrons and not lemons - what are you, an idiot?) The second way I am not like him was revealed when he started talking about how the items in the painting are supposed to represent the virtues of the Virgin Mary. He was like "Yeah, strength and purity and blah blah blah, I don't care about symbolism."

People, he literally said BLAH BLAH BLAH. At least, I think he did...it's too bad that I can't access the original article online to quote him in full. But anyway the point is that he could care less about symbolism, and just wants to talk about how the citrons are yellow and green and stuff.

I think symbolism is truly my favorite part of art. When Paul and I were at the Louvre, there were a million paintings of like, very specific scenes from myths or the Bible, or tableaux that looked like a woman carrying a basket, but were actually complicated political endorsements. Luckily, we had the museum audioguide, and I was so excited to sit and listen to the soothing British voice explain that this Flemish painting is actually an allegory condemning lust, and the fish represents immoral women and the sausage links represent wicked men, and the kitchen maid represents purity, and the dog at her feet is the holy spirit, or whatever. I mean, it was truly fascinating to me to hear how each detail was like a puzzle piece in the story of the painting's meaning.

So there you go: Peter Schjeldahl and I are different. If you want proof, here is a picture of me sitting on a bench, as the audioguide whispers to me all the secrets of the paintings.

Oh and P.S., if you are looking for an excuse to visit the Norton Simon, we have a great class coming up around Ingres's 'Comtesse d'Haussonville,' which is actually on loan from the Frick (they share!) Click here for details.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lady Gaga is Wearing the Alexander McQueen Space Alien Shoes!

People, Arts Blog is in an uproar today over Lady Gaga's new video. As we were doing work sanctioned research by watching the recently released Lady Gaga video for "Bad Romance," we noticed something that made us squeal with delight.


If you need to catch up, read this post. I'll wait.

Crazy shoes, right? Anyway, the actual video is a little bit too risque to post here (there is a part with a tushy), but you can go join the millions of people that are watching it on YouTube right now. Luckily, Jezebel has a breakdown of the video with stills, and in those stills you can see the shoes.

These are the crazy shoes that looked like squeezed out ropes of toothpaste sticking together that I didn't love at first. However, I will say that I am warming up to them a bit here on Gaga's feet.

Here is a close-up of the giant mood ring hoof shoes. She is in motion here, which is pretty awesome feat.

Here she is wearing an entire outfit that looks to be the same material and design as the shoes. Is it a little too matchy-matchy? Does it matter if you live on Alpha Centari?

And finally, the toothpaste shoes again. They definitely go with her outfit, which is a bear.

In conclusion, Lada Gaga is the parton saint of Arts Blog, and we are glad that she is visiting this planet to do good, and make catchy dance music.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Better Now? Or Now?

When I go to the optometrist, he sits me in the chair and pulls the eye thingy up to my face. Then he clicks through the lenses, saying "Better now (click) or now (click). Better now (click) or now (click)." Sometimes it's hard to tell which is better! I have to really focus (zing!) to determine which image is clearer.

These pictures from the class Environmental Portraiture reminded me of that experience, but in this case, there's no question about the better image. Instructor Josh Sanseri has set up a before and after that illustrate how a portrait can be transformed with the right techniques.

The model here is student Larry Wurzel. Volunteer in class, people! Also, these shots were taken on campus in Dodd Hall, and I can honestly say, Dodd has never looked better. So majestic! It really looks like a sanctum of learning.

If you want to know what secret photo magic Josh used to transform blah picture A into oooh aaaah picture B, take the class! I am not expert enough to say in detail, but I have sat in on enough classes to know that it probably has something to do with the white balance. Right?

Friday, November 6, 2009


For Halloween, 3-D artist and videogame designer Eric Testroete created a papercraft blow-up of his own head, and wore it over his regular head.

This strikes me as one of the eerier things I have ever seen. On his website, Eric says that he "really wanted to get the faceted geosphere look with wireframe."

Yes indeed! Apparently he was also inspired by "big head mode" in videogames, which is a secret thing that you unlock, and then all the characters' heads get blown up 150%. What?

I recommend checking out the whole set of photos, but here are some images of Eric's unholy costume, and the steps he took to create it.

Way to go Eric! David Lynch is ready for your close-up.

Via Laughingsquid

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kevin Van Aelst - Sublime Simplicity

I love and am tickled by the work of artist Kevin Van Aelst, who represents complicated ideas with everyday, mundane objects. In his own words:

"My color photographs consist of common artifacts and scenes from everyday life, which have been rearranged, assembled, and constructed into various forms, patterns, and illustrations. The images aim to examine the distance between the ‘big picture’ and the ‘little things’ in life—the banalities of our daily lives, and the sublime notions of identity and existence."

Though I don't 100% understand what that means, I love the way that these objects, which you would pass by everyday without a second glance, become magical and meaningful in the photographs.

Kevin Van Aelst Website