Song of the Moment: Tightrope [feat. Big Boi]

I just love watching Janelle Monae perform. She has powerful voice, a very expressive face and passionate singling style, impressive dance moves, and a classic and charming sense of fashion. Oh, and a postmodern Elvis coiff.

The best thing about this video is the footwork: watch it once for the song, and once for the frenetic black-and-white oxford-clad feet!

Here is one more for good luck (and so you can see what I mean about the passion):

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BALLY: A Retrospective

I am seduced by the elegance of vintage advertising. These Bally posters chronicle the heritage of the brand from the late 19th century to the present, always sustaining a close orbit around modern art history by taking cues from the contemporary artists of the moment. Oh, that I could plaster my walls with these…

1920

1924

1935

1952

1962

1962

1963

1964

1968

1982

1982

1991

Images from www.bally.com

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Charmed by Bill Cunningham

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization.” – Bill Cunningham

It’s funny, sometimes I think I knew more about art when I was a teenager than I do now. I believe it is something to do with the proverbial hardening, the loss of innocence that comes with time. I imagine sometimes that the best art, and the best understanding of art, happens through the hand, or the eyes, of a child. I suppose people are more honest and more clear when the ego is set aside. Are the true artists the Peter Pans of the world, showing us through their work what it feels like in Neverland?

What moved me about Bill Cunningham in the documentary was my impression that he was such an artist, that he would never even dream of calling himself by that descriptor. His personality, his work, his life, everything about him is so sincere and devoid of ego, let alone pretension. He just is. And, what he is is a person that lives life in wonder. Though he blows out candles on a blue-and-white frosted cake on his 80th birthday, he experiences and engages with civilization through his photography with a sense of curiosity that reminds me of a younger me.

Bill Cunningham New York entertained and inspired me in many, many ways, but what really stood out was the topic of age, or agelessness, to be precise. It made me think that it really is the little kids who are on to something. Maybe people forget what they knew in their hearts as children when they become adults. Maybe wisdom happens when you have enough retrospect to notice that you had it right the first time. Or maybe you are lucky like Bill Cunningham, and you never forget to always celebrate life!

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Artists of the Zodiac

I was looking forward to writing an enticing post for you yesterday, detailing my adventures at a glamorous New York art world dinner party, complete with Chelsea dealers, hot gallerinas, and a who’s who of hot emerging artists, but alas, Mercury is retrograde, and (long story short) I never made it, and instead spent my evening on my couch, snacking on edamame and reading my horoscope.

Since the stars are clearly on my mind, and since it is April (Aries), the astrological version of New Years, I thought we could instead celebrate by indulging in my guilty pleasure in astrology, and look at some artists and their star signs.

Aries: Shirin Neshat (March 26, 1957)

Shirin Neshat’s work and her persona are characterized by strength. She delves deeply, assertively, and unapologetically into the realms of philosophy, psychology, politics, sexuality, and sociology. The fire in her passion and the confidence in her opinions are characteristically Aries traits.

Untitled (Hands), 2005

Taurus: Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923)

Richard Avedon is famous as a fashion photographer, and is typically Taurean in his appreciation for the physical beauty and luxe materiality of all things pertaining to the world of fashion. The rich texture of a velvet gown, the subtle crinkle of a taffeta blouse, the luxurious fullness of a fur stole, the sparkle of a bejeweled diamond choker, the elegance of a silk gloved arm… all of these things seduce Taurus, who luxuriates in all tangible, earthly, material pleasures.

Marlene Dietrich, turban by Dior, the Ritz, Paris, August 1955

Gemini: Damien Hirst (June 7, 1965)

Damien Hirst wears many hats. He is the multi-tasker of the art world, with the innate ability to juggle like a Gemini. He is an extremely prolific artist (with 551 works posted for sale just on artnet!), he is an art collector himself, and he is a successful entrepreneur who has been involved in restaurant ventures and in the gallery business.

Minaret, 2009

Cancer: Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862)

Although he was unusually famous in his lifetime, Gustav Klimt carried out his gold-leafed, figurative works in a relatively hermetic environment. He lead a very private life, and like any Cancer, it was dedicated primarily to his home and family (and his art).

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912

Leo: Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928)

Andy Warhol is the quintessential Leo. He built his entire oeuvre around his own image and persona, and blended fame and art in an unprecedented manner. Also, Leo’s have a thing about their coiff (or their lion’s mane) as the defining characteristic of their appearance, and Andy’s thick, white shock of a hairdo is no exception.

Liz, 1965

Virgo: Carl Andre (September 16, 1935)

For Virgos, cleanliness is next to godliness. It is no wonder, then, that Carl Andre is a central figure in Minimalist art. His flat, linear and gridded sculptures are orderly and immaculate, perfectly reflecting Virgo’s values.

The Void Enclosed by Lead & Copper Squares of Three, Four, & Five, 1998

Libra: Maya Lin (October 5, 1959)

Libra is symbolized by the scales, and balance and symmetry are of utmost importance. Maya Lin’s monumental sculptures are heavily informed by her education in architecture, which relies on the natural balance and symmetry of physics. Libra is also profoundly concerned with justice, so it is notable that beginning with the Vietnam War Memorial, much of Lin’s public work has been commemorative.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington D.C., 1982 (picture from sites.google.com/site/arsa54/webshots13)

Scorpio: Robert Mapplethorpe (November 4, 1946)

Robert Mapplethorpe’s is notorious for his sexually explicit and subversive photography. His attraction toward portraying provocative subjects, homoeroticism and sadomasochism in his art, is deeply Scorpio. Scorpio is intense, extreme, and allured by mystery and taboo.

George Bussey, 1979

Sagittarius: Wassily Kandinsky (December 16, 1866)

Wassily Kandinsky’s concept for Der Blaue Reiter encapsulates his theoretical and philosophical idealism, which made him a pioneer in abstract art. Like the Blue Rider, vehemently urging his steed into the future, Sagittarius is the Archer of the zodiac, casting his arrows, full of aspiration and determination, toward a new and better vision of tomorrow.

Orange, 1923

Capricorn: Henri Matisse (December 31, 1869)

Henri Matisse is one of the principal, most influential and adored figures of modern art. Like Cézanne and Picasso, he is definitive, historic, and venerated. Capricorn is characterized by success, and its symbol is the mountain goat that climbs tirelessly to the top of the proverbial mountain. Matisse is there, at the highest summit, in the history of modern art.

Knife Thrower, 1946

Aquarius: Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912)

As a pioneer and a visionary in the Abstract Expressionist movement, Jackson Pollock is an Aquarian figure in the art world. His inventive and iconic drip paintings altered and redefined abstraction, signaling an Aquarian rebellion against the status quo definitions of modernism.

Untitled (based on the painting CR344), 1951

Pisces: Hiroshi Sugimoto (February 23, 1948)

Sensitive, spiritual, and very creative, Pisces is often considered the artist of the zodiac. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s introspective and deeply detailed photographs are almost ethereal, and seem infused with philosophy. Full of Piscean imagination, they contain quietness and mystery, inviting contemplation.

Sea of Japan, Rebun Island, 1996

Click here for more artist birthdays.

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Powders, a Phial, and a Paper Book signals dramatic physical change at Marlborough Chelsea

Drawn from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the literary reference in the title of Marlborough Chelsea’s most recent show, Powders, a Phial, and a Paperbook, serves as a metaphor for the gallery’s own transformation. The downtown New York branch of the global Marlborough galleries will diversify its brand image by getting a little younger. Eric Gleason, Max Levai, and Anastasia Rogers co-curated the show to inaugurate the new programming at the gallery: they will take advantage of the more youthful vibe furnished by their Chelsea location to promote younger, more contemporary emerging artists, and they plan to make the most of their ample square-footage to show more monumental works.

Wall Slash II by Keith Sonnier (1988), Pentaherm by Carl Andre (1997), Hybrid (Blue Kiss) by Bruce Robbins (2003-04), and A Line from the Tune of Swanee River by Victor Pasmore (1987) in the current show at Marlborough Chelsea

It struck me that many of the artists’ works on display seemed to be cleverly tweaked reinterpretations of iconic works by their Modernist forbears, creating an interesting parallel to what Marlborough Chelsea will now be to Marlborough Galleries. Just as Bruce Robbins makes a play on Brancusi’s “The Kiss,” Jeff Elrod updates Lichtenstein’s Ben-Day dots, Martin Kline finds original ways to manipulate Johns’s signature medium of encaustic, and Vlatka Horvat riffs on Duchampian readymades, Marlborough Chelsea will infuse its historic and traditional name with a fresh and innovative perspective through contemporary art.

Orange Ramparts by Jeff Elrod (2006)

Epiphany by Martin Kline (2008)

Ladder by Vlatka Horvat (2009)

Powders, a Phial, and a Paper Book will be on view at Marlborough Chelsea (545 West 25th Street) through April 2, 2011.

Photos courtesy of Marlborough Chelsea.

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Tumi luggage gets tagged by John ‘CRASH’ Matos

This past Tuesday March 22, luxury luggage brand Tumi feted the launch of the Tumi Tag Limited Edition Collection, its collaboration with CRASH, the popular graffiti artist. With the help of Don Julio Tequila, Tumi transformed a cavernous brick-walled West Village party space to reflect the meeting of technology and urban graffiti culture. The entrance hallway was a simulacrum of a New York subway platform, with projected images flashing across parallel walls like speeding express trains. In an alcove, Tumi suitcases piled like totems, and artfully arranged like re-appropriated objects, doubled as video screens showing a collage of interviews with CRASH and images of his work.

A simulated subway platform

Tumi suitcases double as screens

Beyond this subterranean simulation was the main party space, where the hum of conversation mingled with the beating of bucket drums. A similar sculpture of suitcases surrounded the underground performer, but these were splashed with static color, encased in CRASH’s spray-painted handiwork.

The Tumi Tag Limited Edition Collection by CRASH

Artist John ‘CRASH’ Matos

The event also celebrated the Tumi Tag Charity Auction. CRASH donated a variety of works for auction, including the original canvas used for the Tumi suitcases, which are available for purchase exclusively through artnet Online Auctions. All proceeds will benefit the charity foundation ACRIA (AIDS Community Research Initiative of America).

Untitled, CRASH, 2010 (image taken from artnet Online Auctions)

The underground atmosphere of the launch party

Photos by Betina Bethlem

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Constellated Organisms

Photos of William Kentridge’s “7 Fragments for Georges Méliès” by Betina Bethlem

Late at night, we claim the street.  Families are united under their respective roofs, cars scarcely share our road, and we roam free together. In the darkness of the eleventh hour, I forego all inhibition: I sing, I dance, I run, I skip, I stroll. My good boy alternates his habits, too. He wanders, unleashed, then chases his shadow, then becomes my shadow, only to succumb to the distraction of smells, and wander again. We like to walk together in the fresh suburban night because it feels small and private.

One spring evening the stars were particularly bright, so I sat on the sidewalk in front of my house to look at them. My dog joined me, for closeness, and then we saw a shooting star. Who knew we had those in Maplewood?

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