Archive for July, 2011

Goodbye Lucian Freud

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY with tags , , , , , , , on July 22, 2011 by echostains


One of my favorite artists Lucian Freud died yesterday – aged 88.   Freud, grandson of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and brother to comedian Clement was born in Berlin 1922, moved to Brittain 1933 and became a British subject in 1939 .  His paintings have two distinct styles, the earlier ones have a more smoother surface, created with thin layers of paint, whilst  the later show a more textural impastod rendition of the flesh. 

Freud’s paintings celebrate flesh – in all its lumpiness and glory.  His work is sometimes can discribed as disturbing, but Freud has never sacrificed honesty for flattery.  The Queen’s portrait which he painted in 2002 caused a lot of controversy – some said he should have been sent to the tower for it 🙂  I think it’s absolutely wonderful as it depicts the Queen as human and ageing, and definitely not in the flattering and pandering  spirit in which most court painters throughout history have painted their monarch.  The jewels on her crown look ghostly and somewhat garish a reminder of another age (and empire) and the Queen herself looks a little put out at having her portrait painted at all.

Leigh Bowery

Freud, along with Francis Bacon and Frank Auerbach explored the human condition through paint.  His thickly applied use of impasto makes the work very tactile.  Most of the people he painted were family or people he knew-

“I paint people,not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.”

Girl with a white dog

Freud has been called the foremost figurative artist of his generation.  He painted on until the end of his life.  He continued with figurative painting even when Abstract became more popular.   Freud is believed to have used Cremnitz white for his basic flesh pigment (according to critic Robert Hughes.  Apparently it is a very heavy pigment and contains twice as much of the lead oxide than flake white and a lot less oil medium than other whites.

“I don’t want any colour to be noticeable… I don’t want it to operate in the modernist sense as colour, something independent… Full, saturated colours have an emotional significance I want to avoid.”

Woman Smiling

Freud died after a short illness.  He lived an interesting life, painted a LOT of art, was married several times and had a lot of children.  His art always remained constant and central and he dedicated his life to it.  This extraordinary artist will always be remembered as one of the greatest figurative painters since the Second World War.  I have written some earlier posts about Freud ‘The Painted Queen’ and ‘Bacon by Lightbulb’

More info about this here

Freud quote from here and here

Reflection (self portrait)


Queen image from here

Leigh Bowery

Woman Smiling and Girl with dog


There’s a new post over on my BOOKSTAINS (about time too!)

Art I LOVE Andreas Gursky

Posted in ART, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , , on July 18, 2011 by echostains


99 per cent

I have always been a fan of abstract photography.  I particularly admire the work of German visual artist Andreas Gursky (b. Jan 15 1955 Leipzig)   Primarily he is a photographer – but it’s what he does with these photographs which makes his art so visually arresting.  His landscape colour photography is huge in scale and can be a little disorienting, whilst the vibrant colours of the photographs make his work alive and immediate.

Gursky was taught at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf by German artists by Hilla and Bernd Becher –  well-known for their collaboration on photographic images of industrial buildings and machinery.  Gorsky’s photographs are big, colourful and dynamic and his subject matter includes offices, industrial plants, high-rise buildings, hotels and warehouses. The artist began digitally manipulating and editing his images after 1990, bringing out particular aspects and controlling perspective.

His work has been called ‘vast’ ‘Splashy’, ‘entertaining  and sometimes  ‘unbelievable’ by art critic Peter Schjeldahl.  But the images compositional and formal considerations have also been likened to paintings. This is what the artist himself had to say about his own work at the Gagosian Gallery USA last year;-

Space is very important for me but in a more abstract way. Maybe to try to understand not just that we are living in a certain building or in a certain location, but to become aware that we are living on a planet that is going at enormous speed through the universe. I read a picture not for what’s really going on there, I read it more for what is going on in our world generally.
–Andreas Gursky

Kuwait Stock Exchange II

My personal favourite work by Gorsky is 99 Per Cent.  The work started out in a 99 cent discount store. Splashes of colour are separated by columns.  The work is meant to convey the aesthetics and the structures of materialism, so it seems almost ironic that the work (a diptych), sold at auction at Sotheby’s in 2007 for a price of US$3.34 million, making it famous as the most expensive photograph in the world.  Scale plays a part in which way Gursky’s photo’s are exhibited and viewed.  For example 99 Per Cent measures 6 ‘ 9 1/2″ x 11’ (207 x 337 cm)


These fictional photographs are based on fact (his original photographs), and he has collaged these images, focusing in certain colours, altering and ordering.   We in turn participate in Gursky’s art by translating these facts.  Though his photographs convey consumerism and may have political connotations, these images are still open for us, the viewer to interpret.



More about Gursky here

Gursky quote and Ocean 11 image from here

Shanghai. 2000 image Kuwait Stock Exchange image from here Pyongyang 1 2007  image from here

other images from here and here

More great photos can be found here

Hello Dolly – A celebration of Dolls!

Posted in DESIGN with tags , , , , , , , on July 5, 2011 by echostains

This is a video I made about dolls recently.  Who hasn’t had a doll they loved?  Some people collect dolls, and some have still got their dolls from childhood.  I have not managed to hang onto mine, they were passed down to my sisters and consequently loved and lost.  I hope you spot one of your favorites in this video and have as much fun watching it as I had making it!  The music is appropriately, the Dolly Suite Op. 56 which is a very nostalgic piece of music for a lot of children who listened to the BBC radio programme ”Listen with Mother’

A lot of images have been used in the making of this video.  Special thanks to;-

Reborn dolls here

Alisasinternationaldollart here   including Juanita Montoya, Sylvia Weser Rebecca Major, Tom Francirek & Andre Oliveira, Lyle WongHannah Hyland

Vintage Barbie dolls here  Sindy dolls here

Dark dolls here Scary dolls here  Dreadful and Weird dolls  Creepy Dolls   Dark Romance dolls

Flower Fairies, Chatty Cathy, Tressy, Jem,

and others   dollfashionista    wax dolls       Bleeding Edge Goths    also thanks here and here

Thanks to all!







Candyfloss buildings and Marshmallow Skies

Posted in Architecture, DESIGN with tags , , , , , on July 1, 2011 by echostains

Kansas City Library public parking garage

Architects have their work cut out trying to dream up functional aestheticalyl pleasing buildings.  These particular buildings though, follow the dream literally.  They are castles in the air: imagination made practical, –  each of these buildings actually promotes a product.  For example, Kansas City Library actually incorporates book like structures into its public parking garage.  This might prove an expensive day out if you get a library fine AND  a parking fine. But the library car park is  not the only building to feature aspects of what it ‘sells or produces;-

Furnitureland South

When I first saw this building I thought that each drawer was a floor,  and puzzled over what furniture would be  considered to be ‘top drawer’ and what was tucked away in the bottom drawer, until I found out that  Furnitureland South in Jamestown NC USA is more of a sculpture attached to a building. What a great advertisement for the home furnishings is sells though.   Directions not needed – just look for the very tallboy – you can’t miss it – 85 foot high!

If you like ice cream and would like to live in an ice cream palace then you could buy one of these Twistee Treat ice cream shops!  This firm opened around 90 ice cream parlours between the 1980s and 90s and there’s actually one for sale in Florida (fully stocked).  You could always buy a dismantled one and put it back together yourself for 40,000 dollars though.  This building wood look refreshing in summer and extra chilly in winter – great fun though 🙂


Images from this interesting article – including more wacky buildings here

More information about the Kansas City Public Library car park and the choice of books used and why here

Furnitureland image from here