The art of Confession. Read all about it – Exclusive! Did you make the bed?

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ART QUOTES, HISTORY with tags , , , on September 28, 2012 by echostains

We live in the times of the Confessional.  Privacy is not exclusive.  Well it IS, you can read these ‘exclusive’ stories every day in the newspapers.  It’s amazing how privacy flies out of the window when the price is right…

The act of the confessing is supposed to be between God and the confessor (using the Priest as a mediator or a conduit).  It seems that the act of confessing all has now become an art form, Tracey Emin is a living ambassador of the confessional art, (sometimes known as autobiographical).  In order for the confession to be of any interest to the average audience though, it has to have a shock factor, an air of secrecy and exclusivity, and that is where it falls down (when it loses its exclusivity, where it’s shared among the media and therefore becomes common knowledge.  That doesn’t stop people being interested in others dirty washing though!

Fly on the wall documentaries, and ‘reality’programmes like Big BrotherThe Osbournes   andI’m a Celebrity – get me out of here! now provide popular entertainment .  The confessional aspect of these shows requires starstruck voyeurs to really work. – and we have become a nation of voyeurs (or ‘observers’, as we like to call ourselves).  The Jeremy Kyle Show has even won an award for this abrasive style of interogation (though not much arm twisting is involved to get guests to ‘spill the beans’)  A strange camera technique is used to throw the participant’s face into hideous relief showing up each blemish, wrinkle etc.  the victim is then shouted at , told to ‘grow a pair’ and sent off to a ‘good cop’ (Kyle is ‘Bad cop’) for ‘after care’

Perhaps these shows make us feel better about ourselves or maybe some of the issues they deal with (well, touch upon) actually do affect us, or we have experience of them?  There’s also the added bonus whilst watching these types of shows of the realisation that things could be a lot worse in our own world. I must add though that the reverse is true for me when I watch The Antiques Road Show and see all the personal stuff people have been left and are willing to part for a few quid.  Having never been left anything – and having no rich relatives so never likely to be left anything,  I do confess to a feeling of envy. :-(

The act of confessing is said to  have a cathartic effect: though sometimes the opposite can occur. The opening up of old wounds, the telling of secrets: especially when these ‘secrets’ hurt or effect others lives.

Many agree that the original founder of Confessional art is the French  American artist and sculptor Louise Bourgeois (b 1911 – 2010) . In this interview   (celebrating her 70th birthday and her Retrospective) she revealed  that  her sculptures are mostly self confessional, and that the materials used are personal and symbolic to her and represent parts of her personal life that she felt she needed to ‘explain’ or come to terms with.  There’s a great article about this here

Here’s some quotes by the great sculptress;-

I’m neither a preacher nor a teacher.”

“If the artwork is true, then it will communicate and have value to others.”

“Trust yourself. In your art you must tell your own story and if you tell your own story, you will be interesting.”

“My art is a form of psychoanalysis. I was able to exorcise my demons through art.”

Artist Tracey Emin’s  is  a story-teller.  Her art  is a dichotomy.  On the one hand, it is very self absorbed - all about herself and her experiences – yet it reaches out through its narrative and we become absorbed in it through the artist’s way of communication, which is very powerful.

Roberta Smith of The New Yorker says the following about Tracey’s work:

“If Tracey Emin could sing, she might be Judy Garland, a bundle of irresistible, pathetic, ferocious, self-indulgent, brilliant energy. Since she can’t, or doesn’t, she writes, incorporating autobiographical texts and statements into drawings, monoprints, watercolors, collages, quilts, neon sculptures, installations and videotapes. In her art she tells all, all the truths, both awful and wonderful, but mostly awful, about her life. Physical and psychic pain in the form of rejection, incest, rape, abortion and sex with strangers figure in this tale, as do love, passion and joy.”

The art of the confessional is here to stay – both in the art world and the media.  People will always want to read all about it in Heat magazine or biographys.  Anyone can do it – just make sure you get your story straight……. and don’t tell everything….. leave that for your next book.

Confessional box image from here

Town crier image – here

Louise Bourgeois  images from here and here

Bourgeois quotes from here and here

Roberta Smith interview quote from here

Jeremy Kyle image here

Emin tent image from here Neon sign image here

PLUS

Happy birthday Pablo Picasso

PS  There’s a brand new post over on my other blog BOOKSTAINS

Happy Birthday L S  Lowry! (1st November 1887)  I shall be writing a post about him

Weird and Wacky – A Guitar Bridge too Far?

Posted in DESIGN with tags , , , , , on June 30, 2012 by echostains

Guitars come in all shapes and forms, some  are much coveted and admired – all are meant to played, but if you can’t play, I suppose you can just sit back and imbibe their beauty – or wonder at their wackiness. This  Fender Stratocaster was carved by Mike Deasy for Doug Rowell.  The figure of Jesus lends a helping hand and may have been instrumental in seeing it’s safe return after 25 years from being stolen.  Miracles, it would seem, do happen.  As Jayne County said ‘Rock me Jesus – Roll me Lord, wash me in the blood of Rock and Roll (Rock and Roll Resurrection)

For those obsessives who cannot bear to parted from their guitars for long – how about this guitar gadget for the bathroom (or maybe stairway to heaven? (depending how desperate you are)

Those who prefer the acoustic version and  are feeling a bit flush (:-D) - there’s always this little number from Jammin Johns

This guitar would be ideal for Death Metal music – it comes straight out of Hell with its bat like wings.  They do say that Satan has the best tunes – so what better than a Demon bass to accompany the Satan/Angel guitar?  Unfortunately – the bass is only a toy though (available from here)

The Skatar includes free transport – no roadie required.  Skate to the gig on it, play it and return home, but just be careful not to step on the strings.  For show-offs (and there’s always one) this tripleneck was designed by Steve Vai strictly for those who like to wear their hearts on their sleeves I think.

This Sasquatch guitar is bordering on the ridiculous!  How could one possibly be taken seriously playing it?  Hendrix would have looked a bit daft setting fire to this – and the smell of those burning  plastic split toenails ……..

Finally for those who like to burn the midnight oil and have one burning desire there’s this (probably) eco-friendly petrol can guitar which I quite like.   Probably comes with a warning ‘Do not Smoke’

Jesus guitar and Satan/Angel guitar, heart shaped tripleneck and many more from here

Toilet seat guitar here  acoustic toilet seat by Jammin John

Sasquatch and petrol can guitars from here (with a slideshow of many others) well worth checking out

A bit of Ruff, a bit of smooth, good patches and a golden eggstravaganza

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, DESIGN with tags , , , , , , , on May 31, 2012 by echostains

I’ve not featured any jewellery on echostains for quite a while.  I have been looking for something really unusual – something that can inspire me into flights of fancy.  I am writing this on the birthdate of the Faberge egg (29th May  1885 – 1917) The Faberge egg is instantly recognisable – sumptuous, bejewelled and opulent.  The eggs were  developed by  the House of Faberge (1885 – 1917) in Russia and the miniature eggs were Easter gifts, that were given singly or were worn on a neck chain.

The Karelian egg

The larger more famous eggs (also known as the ‘imperial’ eggs)were originally made for Alexanader 111 and Nicholas 11 of Russia.  Only 50 of these eggs were made, and 42 have survived.  The Karelian and Constellation eggs, planned for 1918 were destined never to be delivered.  Nicholas 11 and his whole family died in an assasination that year and  the year before Nicholas had  abdicated.  The eggs themselves are gorgeous, opulent and seen as a symbol of luxury - jewellers masterpieces.  But it is not these little baubles which once hung from necklaces which caught my eye, but this strange face distorting jewelery by Burcu Buyukunal.   

My first question is ‘why?’  How does this enhanse the face?  By  distorting her face, do we then notice how attractive the woman really is?  They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, different ‘looks’ have their admirers, as do fashion, design ect. Maybe one day ‘beauty’ will be played down to be the new beauty. It is this example which  reminded me of how Elizabethan ladies used to pain their faces white and how patches made of velvet were used on the face in the 18th century to disguise blemishes, make the face appear even whiter or draw attention to certain facial features.

circa 1780 patch box

‘Her patches are of every cut,
For pimples and for scars;
Here’s all the wandering planets’ signs,
And some of the fixed stars.’

 In this very short video we see the owner of the painting ‘Une Dam a sa Toilette’ by French painter Francois Boucher (  1703 –  1770)  explain the delicate operation of patch application.  Boucher ‘s art is known for his  voluptuous and idyllic subject matter which is well suited to the Rococo style.  His patroness was  the famous Madame Pompadour, he painted many portraits of her.

Whirls of cigarette smoke envelop ing beautiful women in black and white movies  lend such mystique and intrigue to the silver screen.  The actuality is rather different.  Cigarette Smoke permeates everything it touches including, flesh, clothes and hair – there’s nothing mysterious about that, but I was quite tickled about this cigarette collAr – though I think they missed a trick by not making it a prisoners or slave’s collar to emphasis the entrapment of the noxious weed.  The ‘chain’ association is still there though, and ther is something of the chain smoking beagle about this collar.  These types of collars are not new though – the actual shape of  the ruff collar goes back to the sixteenth century and was worn by men, women and children.  The pleats of the ruff was accomplished by the use of  cone-shaped goffering irons. which were heated.  Ruffs were made from a lot of material.  Elizabeth1 had a ruff of ‘ten yards for the neck and hand’.  During starching, ruffs could be coloured with vegetable dyes, though Elizabeth herself disapproved of the light blue colour;-

“Her Majesty’s pleasure is that no blue starch shall be used or worn by any of her Majesty’s subjects, since blue was the color of the flag of Scotland”

Stiff collars, smooth complextions, disguises used as enhancements – beauty will always be subjective and is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

Karelian egg image here

Lots of these beautiful eggs here

Distorting jewlery from here

Patchbox from here

Video by AndSper with thanks

More about Boucher here

Smoking Dietrich from this article

Elizabeth1 image here

The verse and the source of a lot of delightful information about the history of the patch can be found in Chambers Book of Days

Happy Birthday Eadweard Muybridge!

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2012 by echostains

Today is the birthday of English photographer Eadweard Muybridge (b.1830 – 1904)  and it is being commemorated on Google.  He used multiple camera work to capture motion, using what he called his zoopraxiscope which projected motion pictures. He was doing this before the perforated film strip was invented.

He was actually born Edward James Muggeridge and was of Dutch extraction but he changed his name quite a few times in his American career.  He went under the pseudonym Helios, the Greek sun God) on many of his photos.  He named his studio Helios and his son bore this middle name.

Born in Kingston on Thames in 1830, he was to emigrate to the US in 1855 where he started his career as an agent for a publisher and  bookseller.  In 1850 he was involved in a stagecoach accident  in San Francisco and sustained severe head injuries.  He returned to England for a few years after this to recuperate, taking up photography between 1861 – 1866 and using the early photographic process of the wet collodion which was introduced in the 1850s

In 1866  he went back in San Francisco where  he became a successful photographer using mainly architectural and landscape as his subject matter.  He built his reputation with photos of San Francisco and the Yosemite  He quickly became noted for his grand photos of the West and in  1873 he was commissioned to photograph the Madoc War, a US Army’s expedition against the West Coast Indians.

Muybridge is famous for answering a much debated question of the day: do all four of a horses hooves move off the ground at the same time? Former Californian Governor, race horse owner and business Leland Stanford asserted that horses showed their front legs extended forward and their hind legs extended at the rear – as shown in paintings at the time.  This was called ‘unsupported transit’ and in 1872 Leland set out to prove it scientifically  by hiring Muybridge to document it.

Muybridge and Stanford fell out regarding Muybridge’s research on equine locomotion as Stanford published a book called ‘The Horse in Motion’ giving no credit to Muybridge whose photos and research it contained.  This resulted in the Royal Society withdrawing an offer to fund his stop-motion photography.  Muybridge filed a lawsuit against Stanford but lost.

Muybridge’s troubles spilled over into his personal life.  In 1874 he discovered that his wife had taken a Major Harry Larkyns as her lover.  Muybridge got even by shooting him.  He was sent to trial, his defence being the injury he had sustained in the stagecoach accident which had caused him much injury.  Friends even testified that Muybridge’s character dramatically changed from pleasant and genial to erratic and unstable after the accident.  Although the jury dismissed his ‘insanity’ plea, he was acquitted for ‘justifiable homicide’ Stanford stood by him and paid for his criminal defence.

He left the Untied States after his acquittal, taking photographs in Central America and had his son Florado ‘Helios’ Muybridge put in an orphanage, believing Larkyns to be his true father even though in later life the boy bore a strong resemblance to Muybridge.

Muybridge lectured to a sell out audience in 1882 at the Royal institution in London.  Member included the Royal family and the future King Edward V11.  He returned to England for good in 1894, where he published two further books of his work.  He died on 8th of May 1904 in Kingston on Thames.Nude descending staircase by Duchamp Muybridge has inspired a lot of artists as well as making a major contribution to photography.  Thomas Eakins, an American artist who had worked with Muybridge continued the motion studies, incorporating some of his findings into his own artwork.  Thomas Edison owned patents for motion pictures and Surrealist Marcel Duchamp was inspired to paint ‘Nude descending the Staircase No.2’ by Muybridge.  Francis Bacon was a huge fan of Muybridge and a lot of his work was influenced by Muybridge’s photographs.

Eadwaerd Muybridge portrait and more info from here

Muybridge horses and lots of info and images from the EadweardMuybridge site

muybridge_handkerchief image here

Thanks to  for the informative video

Leland pony image here

Nude descending Staircase image from here

PS Update; Happy Birthday Keith Haring!  http://www.haring.com/

PS Happy Birthday Salvador Dali May 11th

Turning over a new leaf – or two

Posted in ART, ART VIDEOS, SCULPTURE with tags , , , on March 15, 2012 by echostains

It’s about time we had some more unusual art on here.  A while ago I posted about  artist Willard WiganWillard Wigan sculpture who micro sculptures can only be viewed through a microscope (tiny worlds between heartbeats)  I contrasted the micro art with the work of Hyperrealist sculptor Ron Meuck whose gigantic realistic sculptures have a unerving quality about them.

A new art form has been emerging from China over the last few years.  The process called leaf carving, involves careful precision, as the artist scrapes the outer layers of the leaf, exposing an almost transparent surface. The leaf veins are left intact to give stability to the sculpture.

The leaves preferred by artists are from the Chinar tree, which is native to India, China and Pakistan.  The leaves are considered to have ‘lucky’ qualities and resemble maple leaves and are best suited for sculpting owing to the distribution of their veins.

Each carving can take months of careful work.  But once finished, preserved and framed, the finished art should last decades.

From minute leaf sculpture to these 3D leaf sculptures.  the news may be a couple of years old, but it’s news to me:-)  Apparently a mystery artist  left leaf sculptures along the water of Leith, Edinburgh in the autumn of 2010. One of the figures was dressed in green wellies,and a flat cap.  Next to it,  two charming leaf children clung to the railings.

The Leith river seems to have provided inspiration for Anthony Gormley too.  You would think that  life-sized cast iron  figures would last a little longer than leaf ones, but two of Gormley’s six figures apparently fell victim to the Scottish and were pushed over by heavy tide.

Art officials have insisted that the figures were ‘designed to be tipped over’  Art lovers thought the sculptures had been stolen. 

Leith locals had taken the sculptures to their hearts, donning them with bikinis, Y-fronts and even a MacDonald’s uniform!

 

 

Leaf sculpture video from hldx9 with thanks

Willard Wigan sculpture image from here

Ron Mueck image from here

Leaf sculpture at Leif image from here

Anthony Gormley’s river sculpture images from here

Goodbye Dorothea Tanning

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY with tags , , , , , on February 11, 2012 by echostains

The oldest living Surrealist Dorothea Tanning passed away January 31 2012 at the great age of 101.  Tanning was born in Galesburg Illinois USA 1910, attending Knox College  before living in Chicago for several years.  In  1936 whilst attending the exhibition  Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art New York,Tanning discovered the wonderful world of Surrealism and Dada.  To support herself, Tanning worked as a commercial artist, but she  soon began to work on her own surreal paintings in the early 1940s.

Lee Millar portrait of Tanning and Ernst

She was introduced to Julien Levy, a gallery owner who was to show her work and give her two one person exhibitions in 1944 and 1948.  He introduced her to a circle of surrealists  whose work he was showing in his New York gallery.  The young artist fell immediately in love with German surrealist Max Ernst and married him in 1946.  Tanning’s surreal paintings have a dreamlike quality and a very individual style.

She lived in  France with Ernst after the war for 28 years.  Her work features in MOMA. The George Pompidou Centre. The Tate Gallery london and many more collections around the world.  She created costumes for  Balanchine between the 1940s and 50s and sculptures in the 70s

Maternity 1946

At the age of 91 the artist was asked how she felt about carrying the surrealist banner;-

I guess I’ll be called a surrealist forever, like a tattoo: “D. Loves S.” I still believe in the surrealist effort to plumb our deepest subconscious to find out about ourselves. But please don’t say I’m carrying the surrealist banner. The movement ended in the ’50s and my own work had moved on so far by the ’60s that being a called a surrealist today makes me feel like a fossil!

Birthday 1942

Tanning moved back to New York in 1979 after Ernst’s death. Among others, she found a friend in Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill. It was Merrill

 “Who more than anyone at that point of my life, made me realize that living was still wonderful even though I felt that my loss, Max, had left nothing but ashes,” she says. “So if I took up brushes again, and the pen, to work for 20 more solitary years — and am still at it — it was Jimmy who made me want to, and so proved himself right.”

Tanning published her first book in 1986, The book is a collection of reminiscences and is called “Birthday,” after her most famous painting.

EineKleineNachtmusik

Her career spanned 6 decades, she was a printmaker, sculptor - she  wrote and published  poems and a novel.  She counselled young artists with these words;-

“Keep your eye on your inner world and keep away from ads, idiots and movie stars.”

I was lucky enough to see her work in 2001 at a surrealist exhibition at the Tate Modern, called ‘Desire Unbound’ 2001 .  Her dreamlike scenarios work ensure that she is still known as a surrealist.

Palaestra 1947

 

One of my posts about Women Surrealists and their work can be found here

Night Music image from here

Voltage, Palaestra, Ernst and Tanning, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik portrait by Lee Millar, Maternity from the wonderful dorotheatanning.org where lots of her work can be found

Birthday image from here

More about Dorothea Tanning can be found here

Interview with the artist can be found here

Happy Birthday Chaim Soutine!

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ART VIDEOS, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , , , , on January 13, 2012 by echostains

Soutine by Modigliani

Today is the birthday of Expressionist artist Chaim Soutine (b 1893 – 1943 Belarus)  Soutine who was inspired by classical painting in the European tradition  and favoured colour, texture and shape over representation.  His work acted as a bridge between traditional approach and the evolvment of Abstract Expressionism.

Born near Minsk (when it was part of the Russian empire) and one of eleven children, Soutine studied at the Vilna Academy of Fine Arts in Vilnius between 1910 – 1913  He emigrated  to Paris with fellow artist Pinchus Kremegne (1890 – 1981) and Michel Kikoine 1892 – 1968) where he studied under Fernand Cormon at the Errcole des Beaux-Arts.

Little Girl with Doll 1919

Portait of a Nurse c 1916

He became friends with Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920)   and he painted Soutine’s portrait several times when they were all struggling artists in Montparnasse. Modigliani’s  most famous portrait of Soutine was painted on an apartment door belonging to Leopold Zborowski (1889 – 1932) their art dealer.  Zborowski was later to take the artist to Nice to escape Paris when it was being bombed in WWI.

After struggle and poverty, often helped by his friends and  fellow artists, Soutine finally managed to sell 100 paintings to American collector Albert C. Barnes who established his Foundation Museum in Merion, USA in 1922..  With the proceeds, the artist now began to enjoy a better life and dividing his time between Paris , the Pyrenees and the Riviera.

Man with ribbons

Although a passionate artist, Soutine left few works.  He suffered from anxiety and tempers and destroyed a lot of his paintings.  There are a few stories about this artist which give us a sketch of his personality and the effect it had upon his work.  One of them concerns one of his most iconic set of images  series  Le Boeuf Ecorche’ .

Three studies for the Crucifixion by Francis Bacon 1962

His neighbours complained about the stench of the animal carcass which he kept in his studio and called the police.  But Soutine remained unrepentant, advocating art over hygiene.  He painted 10 of the carcass paintings,  inspired by Rembrandt’s Carcass of Beef (1655) sometimes known as The Flayed Ox after studying the Old Master’s in the Louvre, Paris.  One of the paintings in Soutine’s series Le Boeuf Ecorche’(1924) sold for £7.8 million in 2006.

Little Pastry Cook

His work is characterised by its frantic brushwork, often violent colour and distorted images which covey emotion and he liked to paint bell boys, waiters and hotel workers – ordinary everyday people. In 1937 Soutine was hailed as a great painter, even though he did not take part in an important exhibition The Origins and Development of International Independent Art which was held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume.  Very soon after that, the France was invaded by the Germans and Soutine, as a Jew had to flee Paris to avoid arrest by the Gestapo.  He lived as best he could and eventually left a safe shelter to return to Paris for an operation for a bleeding stomach ulcer.  The operation was not a success and he died of a perforated ulcer on August 9, 1943  . Soutine was interred in Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris.

Video by bestjonbon with thanks!

Also thanks to;-

Lots of information about this artist here

Modiglini portrait of Soutine from here

Man with Ribbons and Little Pastry Cook images from here

Bacon triptych image from here

Landschaft mit Häusern, 1918 and Portait of a Nurse, c. 1916   Little Girl with Doll, 1919  all from this blogspot

Good images from Oscar Grillo Oscartoons  and here

PLUS

There’s a big birthday party going on over at my sister site Bookstains – and you’re invited!

UPDATE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROBERT BURNS (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796)  Here’s a video I made of Scottish artists;-

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