Andy Warhol’s Social Media

I found this interesting article about how Andy Warhol had his own form of social media, along with several other artists, before the social media as we know it today was created. The article focuses on pictures taken of Warhol by Christopher Makos who was a close friend of Warhol. Makos talks about how at Warhol’s studio they would take photos or Polaroids and pass them around. You could think of this as posting a photograph on the internet and sharing it but in a physical way. Makos says the reason they did this was to get feedback and it was a way to share ideas.

I found this really interesting since we have grown up in a time where social media has really blossomed but there were these social media before Facebook or Instagram. It’s interesting to see how something that these artists were doing grew with the introduction of the internet and people. Makos talks about how Warhol would have other people take “selfies” of him long before people did it for entertainment.

The rest of the article talked about how photography played a part in the life of Andy Warhol and how his work ethic affected the way Makos took photographs. I found this really intriguing seeing how we are focusing on the impact of social media on art today. It’s interesting to think that artists had their own form of it before what we have recognize as social media today and how similar it is. Today’s social media is just a large scale version of what they were doing in the late 70s and early to mid 80s.

Some Warhol “Selfies”

 

 

 

 

 

Legacy and Democracy- Jeff Koons

In a recent interview, Jeff Koons reflects on his successful art career and is astonished at how art can change one’s life. This reflection comes during an interview with a representative from Christies, a prominent art auction company. At the beginning of the article, the interviewer mentions that Koons has come to Greece in order to take part in a conversation about art and democracy at Athens Democracy Forum. It makes sense that Koons would strive to be a part of the conversation about geopolitical advancement of democratic principles. While his artwork is not essentially political in nature, it is highly democratic and consciously strives for accessibility to whoever looks at it. Imagining art as a tool to advance and imagine liberal border policies in response to current destabilization in the Middle East and Northern African countries is an interesting question that begs for more analysis and contemplation. While a lot of Koons’ artwork is in response to his own life and emotions, the viewer is able to access the whimsical and welcoming vocabulary of flowers, balloons, and animals.

 

Split-Rocker (2000) is an example of this accessible work. A literal translation of the artwork by the spectator is what Koons is looking for. Flowers are playful and natural; the rocker is a childhood memory. The possibly discombobulating pairing of the traditional and abstract representation of two different rocking horse heads creates dynamism between the abstract and the known. Incorporated into the piece is an irrigation system, hidden from view, to keep the flowers alive. The creation of this piece is a fascinating continuation of Jeff Koons work. Inherent in this work is the accessible vocabulary of life, nature, and childhood, which many of us can relate to as human beings. From this perspective, his work itself is challenging to the increasingly conflicted and exclusive borders characteristic of many of the world’s key geopolitical countries.

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Split-Rocker (2000)

 

In relation to global currents of contemporary art, it is heartening to see a commercialized high-art producer attempting to use the production and ideas surrounding art for positive social and political change. In some of his more recent work, Koons further explores participatory reflection of the viewer upon what their relationship to great works of art is. In his Glazing Ball paintings (2015), he recreates various works of art by Manet, Gericault, and Rembrandt with a blue reflective ball incorporated in front of the painting on a shelf. Koons is redirecting traditional paths of phenomenology associated with our expectations and normative pathways of experiencing these artworks. He highlights the relationship between cultural association and our constantly changing expectations and genetic makeup in response to art. Similar to his Split-Rocker (2000), the Glazing Ball paintings are a democratic exploration of viewer-friendly accessible ideas.

 

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Glazing Balls paintings (2015)

 

 

Sources:

https://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/jeff-koons-split-rocker

 

https://www.artsy.net/article/calesser-how-jeff-koons-inspires-awe-outrage-and

 

http://www.christies.com/features/Jeff-Koons-interviewed-I-love-how-art-can-change-your-life-7223-1.aspx

 

 

Rainbows Taking Over, One Sip at a Time

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What you see above is no mere myth or legend; rainbow latte art has become a new trend, thanks to Las Vegas-based barista Mason Salisbury.  This trend started out as a way for Salisbury to train himself and other baristas on how to control milk flow when creating latte art with the traditional espresso.  However, rather than wasting espresso for the training of these baristas, Salisbury put food die into the milk after steaming.  This way, when the milk is poured, the change of color still occurs, and the baristas are still able to gain a visual grasp on how to control their pour and technique without wasting espresso.

I first saw this post as an article on Facebook, and then soon saw it again on Colossal, a well known art blog/website that updates a few times a week with new and emerging artists with methods of art making that haven’t been seen before, or known artists who keep expanding their style and influencing the art world with their work.  When I saw it on Facebook, I thought it was just a neat way for someone to train baristas on latte at, as the article suggested, because I myself am a barista who is always trying to learn how to master ‘latte art’.  Once I saw it on Colossal, however, I began to think about how this is a true art form, even if it’s not traditionally known in the art world as art.  On Colossal, one can always find an article on something people wouldn’t have ever considered as a way of art making, or something more than a craft trend; from birds made out of motorcycle parts to chocolate candies designed to look like planets.

This article also makes me think of how contemporary art is discovered today, and also how rainbows seem to be taking over pop culture.  Rainbows are no longer just the phenomena that results from the reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets; rainbows have become a fashion, a vastly popular food trend, and also a political symbol.  It’s become increasingly difficult for some people in today’s culture to see a rainbow and think of anything other than its reference to ‘gay culture’, and it has become equally difficult to walk through a store and not see a consumer product that advertises itself as ‘rainbow’.  It’s become increasingly popular in our culture, and this latte art is only one example of it occurring in the art world.  The use of bright color has been increasingly popular since Pop! Art, and continues to be a popular theme into the 21st century.  I find it interesting to see how popular culture effects art, and I can only help but wonder where contemporary art is going to go from here, and what art will look like in even ten years.

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2016/04/a-creative-barista-devises-method-for-pouring-rainbow-foam-lattes/

http://www.boredpanda.com/barista-creates-colorful-latte-art-using-food-dye/

http://metro.co.uk/2016/04/20/stop-everything-rainbow-coffee-is-here-and-its-absolutely-magical-5829192/

“but they’ll never close the door behind them”

When we start talking about art and technology, particularly the internet (no caps!), we run the risk of quickly outdating ourselves. Rather than taking a historical approach to the subject, which, I admit, is quite boring, I followed the trajectory of our Thursday discussion and rediscovered this exhibition, which was in the news last year. That’s right, the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY, held an exhibition of cat memes! Between this and Kara’s observation about Ai Weiwei’s and Andy Warhol’s love of cats, perhaps felines are emerging as another latent motif in our class.

The curator of “How Cats Took Over the Internet,” Jason Eppink, took the genre of cats on the internet to surprisingly academic heights. The exhibition debunks the myth that images of cats have taken over an obscene amount of cyberspace, which I think is often cited as anecdotal evidence of our society’s general intellectual decline, and perhaps, as suggestion of our need for escapism. The show also takes an inclusive approach to the theme by also including memes of other animals from around the world. As artist/writer/blogger An Xiao Mina astutely observed, llamas are surprisingly overrepresented globally. One of the examples should be familiar to us – it was the song that Ai Weiwei sang and danced to at the end of Never Sorry. Here it is in its original glory with accompanying imagery and translations:

 

So what is it about images and videos of animals that we draw us to them? I suppose the simple answer is that we love our pets and other animals, and enjoy sharing images of them. There’s also the suggestion that there’s something biologically programmed in us that gravitate us toward cute things. But as suggested through the various politically geared animal memes such as the Grass Mud Horse and the “I will kill…” green chick, we find something revelatory, perhaps an ability to capture our ethos, in images of anthropomorphized animals – both cute and pathetic.

I remember being shown my first cat meme by a classmate in 2007 and thinking she was weird for finding it funny.

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The cheezburger cat still doesn’t make any sense to me but its historical value, having stayed relevant for almost a decade now, is undeniable. Because of cheezburger cat, we have…

grumpy cat:

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cute/manipulative cat:

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and “breaded” cat:

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What are your favorite memes? Do they feature anthropomorphized animals? Post them on this blog. 

This is not a meme but close enough to the topic:

Singapore’s Changing Art Scene

I’ve always had an interest in Singapore because of it’s island country stature and it’s unique culture.  So when I saw an article in the New York Times on Singapore’s growing art movements I knew I had to look into it.  Apparently, Singapore has a reputation of being a pretty conservative country, strict to its “traditional Confucian values like filial piety, hierarchy and social order.”  Since a bad scoring in literacy, Singapore has stressed its educational system, now producing a high number of literate students well versed in math and science. But something was lacking, their creative outlets and artistic freedom.  This city-state has a set of  vague censorship laws charged with, “safeguarding consumer and public interests.”  Since these laws are wide ranging and ever-changing, this poses a challenge to museum and exhibit curators.  One show described in the article was littered with signage warning of sensitive material, though this does not stop students from participating in art galleries.  The amount of money and resources Singapore has poured into their art scene is paying off, both as an educational piece for students and visitors, but also as a venue for a range of art from Southeast Asia.  The city is trying to break away from their law and civic based roots and add art into the mix, symbolically replacing its Supreme Court and City Hall buildings with a huge art venue, the National Gallery.  The biggest challenge they face is still stressing their traditional values in their students, while infusing creativity, the goal is to add art in, not to replace an existing value completely with it.

While Singapore may struggle to contend with the Hong Kong art scene and lack the history of other large art hubs such as New York or London, it has seen a great increase in art interest in the past decade.  The fact that Singapore’s government is a driving force behind the art movement means large stipends for art related development.  It also appears that not much resistance is being given against art despite the wide array of censorship laws, but rather just an increased awareness of how an artwork might be offense, either sexually, religiously, or socially.  The test will be of time and a evolution of artwork.  Will artists become more and more active in their art?  Will more and more contemporary pieces be shown?  Will the censorship laws become more lenient or strict?  Time will only tell.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/10/opinion/singapores-artistic-experiment.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

http://artradarjournal.com/2013/06/08/singapore-art-scene-booming-5-gallerists-opinions/

https://www.nationalgallery.sg/see-do/exhibitions

Wuzhen Is the Chinese Art Hub You’ve Never Heard Of

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This article “Wuzhen Is the Chinese Art Hub You’ve Never Heard Of” by Frances Arnold, highlights the rapid growing Chinese water town Wuzhen and their popular Wuzhen International Contemporary Art Exhibition is sure to be a well known destination in the contemporary art world. The way Arnold introduces this town truly grasped my attention. “Best known for its cobbled streets, quaint bridges, and oodles of old-world charm, Chinese water town Wuzhen is confidently carving a niche in contemporary art.” He also called Wuzhen the “Venice of the East”which definitely gives it high expectations. This article really fits in with our non-western contemporary art focus.

The art itself in this exhibition looks quite incredible. There seems to be a wide variety of pieces, one work, Finnbogi Pétursson’s Infra – Supra (2014) especially makes me want to travel to Wuzhen. I could not find a video of this work but the description and picture seem to do a good job of describing it, “Vibrations from three deeply pulsating speakers positioned above a pool of water are made visible through cleverly positioned spotlights to create wave after hypnotic wave. In a town with this much water, the installation feels particularly apt.” At least from what I imagine, I would be sitting in front of this piece for a good chunk of time.

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I really agree with Frances Arnold, Wuzhen International Contemporary Art Exhibition will put the town firmly on the map, Not only the art looks beautiful, but the 1,300 year old town also looks very picturesque. Another plus for Wuzhen International Contemporary Art Exhibition is the very affordable exhibition cost of 25 rmb or $4. The day passes to the town itself are 120rmb. This article shows that there are some great steps being made in improving recognition of non-western contemporary art.

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https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-the-chinese-art-hub-you-ve-never-heard-of

Andy Warhol – Ai Weiwei: National Gallery of Victoria

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I brought up a few weeks ago that I had been following Ai Weiwei on Instagram and how he as an artist really addresses many of the issues we bring up in class about contemporary global art. Researching him I found currently he is doing an exhibition with Andy Warhol! At the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, this exhibition is running from December 11th, 2015 – April 24th, 2016 (it’s open for another week if anyone wants to go).  This exhibition was created to present the work of two influential artists one in the twentieth and one in the twenty first century, in a way that creates dialogue and correspondence. It explores modern contemporary art, life, and cultural politics.

Ai Weiwei lived in the United States from 1981 through 1993 and was highly influenced by the modern artists of that time such as Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp, and Jasper Johns. Ai Weiwei took a lot from Warhol’s conceptual approach and even bought Warhol’s book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again). But separately both of these have been redefining the role of ‘the artist’ though their documentation of contemporary society and everyday life. Andy Warhol is known for his Pop Art style, with iconic images exploring ideas of consumerism, fame and media, and politics and capital. Ai Weiwei is known for is contemporary art and social activist work. His work addresses many critical global issues of our time such as tradition and modernity, human rights, freedom of speech and individual vs state.

 

I had never thought of the similarities between these artists work but there are many ideas and works that tie them together. In one critics review of the exhibition by Sasha Grishin, she writes that Ai Weiwei became “China’s Andy Warhol”, comparing the similar lifestyles and art they make. The reason why I was originally so interested in this exhibition was because here is a Chinese artist who is highly influenced by the West and is being compared an artist who created such highly influenced American art.

Here is a link to see other work that is included this exhibition.

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Qatar Art

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I recently read an article on the contemporary art of Qatar and their museums.  The article interviewed on e of the leading women in the Middle Eastern art world, Sheikha Al Mayassa.  Sheikha is a chairperson to Qatar Museums, whose purpose is, “to be a cultural instigator for the creation generation.”  Sheikha is responsible for bringing contemporary art from other countries into her own, such as Damien Hirst’s work, Takashi Murakami’s and Richard Serra’s.  She encourages her own countries budding artists as well, each artist is encouraged to make whatever work they desire, however, she simply asks they do not insult Qatar’s culture or traditions in the process.  Despite artists she has brought in being viewed as controversial, Sheikha Al Mayassa intends the controversy to inspire discussion rather than offense.  Sheikha believes art is without boundaries, that it should conform merely to the idea of respect for others.  This reaches into her view on which art to acquire for Qatar’s museums, taking the “best of the best” from different cultures.

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It is interesting to find out that Qatar is one of the most voracious art buyers in the world.  Damien Hirst’s show, Relics, has been shown there, which requires a great deal of capital.  It seems that Qatar hosts a high Muslim religious faction who find some of Hirst’s figures unsettling and disrespectful. Shekiha Al Mayassa is pushing through however, determined create a culture program more contemporary than the traditional notions of a more conservative Islamic state.  This series of events happening in Qatar and around Sheikha Al Mayassa intrigue me because they are being driven by a patron more than artists themselves.  In all the cases where we have heard of art being determined good by one person with all the capital, it seems it is also happening here, but perhaps with more consideration.  I question whether Sheikha’s approach is plausible and if it will be effective in keeping Qatar’s traditions while also becoming one of the curatorial leaders in the art world.  Will her efforts one day be seen as we see the Western “old masters” today?  Or will she be glorified as someone who distinguishes art in a respectful language over all else?

Here are of few links I found intriguing on the subject:

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20131021-qatar-the-art-worlds-big-fish

http://www.qm.org.qa/en/blog/exclusively-our-chairperson

http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/08/arts/sheikha-al-mayassa-art-qatar/index.html

 

Chiharu Shiota at Venice Biennale

Backtracking to our discussions about Biennales around the world and how artists and their nations are represented in the Biennales, last semester I did a project on Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota who was shown in the Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of 2015.  She was one of two Japanese artists at the Biennale,, but she was the only artist in the Japan national pavilion.  The other Japanese artist, Tetsuya Ishida, had his art displayed in the Central Pavilion of the exhibition, and actually passed away in 2005, making Shiota the only Japanese artist being represented at the Biennale.  This now seems a bit odd to me, especially because while Shiota was born in Japan, she is based in Berlin, Germany, and most of her work that she is known for was created while she has been living in Germany.

While I enjoy Shiota’s work, and was happy to research her work and find out more about it, after our discussion about Biennales I found it odd that she was the only one to be representing Japan, even though most of her work has been created while she has been based in Berlin.  This brings me back to our conversation about artists from China being represented along side with Kenyan artists, essentially China representing Kenyan art.  Why have an artist who is now based in Berlin be the only one to represent all of Japan?  At first this didn’t occur to me as odd when I was researching the exhibit, but now that I’m looking back on it, it’s not settling completely right with me.  Could they not find artists from Japan that they felt well represented contemporary Japanese art? Shiota’s work is fascinating, but I find it still strikes as odd.

Shiota’s work often fills an entire room with thread or yarn, and she makes work links abstract networks with various every day items, such as the piece at the 56th Venice Biennale, The Key in the Hand, where she suspended keys from the ceiling over two boats, with more keys piled up on the floor.  The piece focuses on children, which she interviewed and asked what their first memories were.  Her works were previously more internal, and she displayed her own emotions, but this and other more recent works speak on a broader, global scale.  While this piece reaches a broader audience, I’m still having trouble understanding why she was chosen to be the sole representing artist of Japan in the national pavilion, but I still find her work to be thought provoking and now more accessible on a global scale.

Chiharu Shiota, The Key in the Hand

Chiharu Shiota, The Key in the Hand

Tetsuya Ishida, Notes, Evidence of Dreams

Tetsuya Ishida, Notes, Evidence of Dreams

Art Central 2016

 

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Art Central is an art fair located in an international hub of economy, Hong Kong. In our class so far, we have spoken extensively about various biennials that have been held around the globe. Art fairs are slightly different from biennials in their approach and goals for exhibition. One of the main goals of an art fair is for people in the art business to deal in the most current art, and in the case of Art Central Hong Kong, art from around the globe. How does this art fair compare to the biennials we have been studying in class? Is art central somehow more representative of a wider variety and more diverse group of artists from around the world than the biennials we have talked about in class?

 

Check out the website below:

http://artcentralhongkong.com

 

To answer the first question, it is most helpful to examine a few pieces of evidence from the Art Central web page. In their about description, Art Central Hong Kong Fair Director Maree Di Pasquale describes one of the goals of Art Central 2016 as reestablishing Hong Kong as the cultural center of the Asian contemporary art scene. While recognition of the global scale and influence of contemporary art within this fair is apparent, the exclusivity of attendance is unfortunate. Ticket prices are very expensive and this will aid in further reducing the role of the local and craft artists throughout Asia. This reductionist and exclusive definition of contemporary Asian art promotes current contemporary Asian artists that only a few privileged and wealthy art collectors can afford to buy or even attend. While many biennials we have looked at in class (Istanbul, Havana, South Africa) have unintentionally excluded and reduced local artists throughout the world, art fairs such as Art Central Hong Kong clearly exclude and reduce local artists through higher entrance fees, which prevent many people who cannot travel internationally from consuming, collecting, and buying contemporary Asian art. It may be time to rethink the purpose and place of current trends of global art fairs. While a few wealthy contributors fund a lot of biennials, art fairs such as Art Central are also funded by a wealthy group of people and corporations. This is very apparent from the downloadable exhibit layout. There are many corporate groups who are advertising in order to make as much money as possible by advertising at this art fair. High-end clothing companies and alcohol companies contributed a lot of money to Art Central in order to advertise and make a profit off of the exposure to the many wealthy patrons of Art Central. Overall, there are some similarities and some differences between this art fair and the biennials we have been studying in class, but this art fair seems to be much more commercially motivated than biennials due to the corporate influence and the business and wealth-oriented location of Hong Kong.

To answer the second question, we are able to determine the extent of representation through the titles of each booth at the fair. Under the exhibition sectors tab on the website, it displays the 3 different exhibit sectors: central, rise, and projects. Each of these sectors displays a certain kind of artist, work, or exhibition, and it is fairly unclear how the directors of the fair chose who was included. The descriptions are fairly nebulous, and each booth is categorized by a major city in Asia or from around the world. While this may seem global and inclusive at first glance, they are very exclusive when considering how many local artists have been excluded in the name of the greed and wealth of the people who fund and run Art Central Hong Kong.

Watch the promotional video below: