Baghdad — Desperate for cash, his dreams of an art career swept away by war, Nebil Anwar turned his knack with a paintbrush to producing portraits of U.S. soldiers' wives and children.
It was hardly art, but it was a living. It also could have gotten him killed.
Men armed with Kalashnikovs and a radical faith are the law in many Baghdad neighborhoods, so even innocuous contact with U.S. forces is enough to be labeled a collaborator. Artists must smuggle their wares to their few remaining patrons.
It wasn't supposed to be like this, said Anwar, who has since left Baghdad for Jordan. When Saddam Hussein's statue was pulled down in Baghdad's Paradise Square in April 2003, young artists were among the first to embrace the possibilities of a new era. Within weeks a new statue rose in its place. The abstract tribute to freedom stands there still, its garish green surface chipped, faded and pocked with what appear to be bullet holes.
Like other segments of Iraqi society, the art community is withering under a daily assault of car bombs, kidnappings, gunfights and mortar blasts. Dictatorship has given way to the suffocating strictures of religious extremists, who frown on most forms of artistic expression, consider sculpture idolatrous and a painting of a nude an insult to Islam.
Many of Iraq's artists have joined the flight that has decimated the country's intellectual reserves. For those who remain, it is a constant struggle to keep producing work that few will ever see and most cannot afford. ...
July 28, 2007
July 27, 2007
... with a side of bad art history.
MILAN (Reuters) - A new theory that Leonardo's "Last Supper" might hide within it a depiction of Christ blessing the bread and wine has triggered so much interest that Web sites connected to the picture have crashed. ...
... Slavisa Pesci, an information technologist and amateur scholar, says superimposing the "Last Supper" with its mirror-image throws up another picture containing a figure who looks like a Templar knight and another holding a small baby.
"I came across it by accident, from some of the details you can infer that we are not talking about chance but about a precise calculation," Pesci told journalists when he unveiled the theory earlier this week.
Websites www.leonardodavinci.tv, www.codicedavinci.tv, www.cenacolo.biz and www.leonardo2007.com had 15 million hits on Thursday morning alone, organizers said, adding they were trying to provide a more powerful server for the sites. ...
Leonardo da Vinci, 1495–1498
tempera on gesso, pitch and mastic
460 × 880 cm, 181 × 346 in
Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
Tags: news article
July 11, 2007
I will be traveling in Mexico for the next few weeks, so Tesserae will be a bit quiet. The trip is partially a much needed vacation, but I will also be completing some research and finalizing a few details for the Summer 2008 Chaffey College Study Abroad program. I will be taking a group for two weeks to tour ancient sites in central Mexico, Oaxaca and Veracruz. Look for more information soon both here and on the Study Abroad site.
July 10, 2007
Announcing a new grants program for individual artists in California called Investing in Artists. This grants program is designed to enhance the working lives and creative environment for California artists by funding tools and market strategies that will allow them to create their best work more consistently, and distribute that work more broadly to new audiences.
Guidelines for Round 1 are currently online at www.cciarts.org/funding.
The deadline is August 3, 2007.
Tags: press release
July 7, 2007
Over the last seven years a private (and for profit) campaign to select "The New 7 Wonders of the World" has been collecting votes from citizens around the world. The campaign, launched by Bernard Weber, aimed to update the list by popular vote. The results have been announced. You might be more surprised by some of the omissions than the inclusions.
The New 7 Wonders of the World
When you Look over the original list of The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World you might notice that most of them no longer exist. So, maybe some revisions are in order, but I'm not sure a popularity contest through voting online and by text messaging is the best way to make these decisions. Although I was personally pleased to see two selections on the new list are from the ancient Americas (Although, I don't feel these top tourist destinations are actually the top "wonders" of the Americas.), shouldn't those that have survived (ie. The Great Pyramid of Giza) get the benefit of the doubt and stay on any new list?
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
I also want to point out that this newly announced list of wonders, even with all of its hype and attempts at creating an artificial link with UNESCO, has no official standing. There is no connection between UNESCO’s World Heritage program, which aims to protect world heritage, and “The New 7 Wonders” campaign.
UNESCO’s objective and mandate is to assist countries in identifying, protecting and preserving World Heritage. Acknowledging the sentimental or emblematic value of sites and inscribing them on a new list is not enough. Scientific criteria must be defined, the quality of candidates evaluated, and legislative and management frameworks set up. The relevant authorities must also demonstrate commitment to these frameworks as well as to permanently monitoring the state of conservation of sites. The task is one of technical conservation and political persuasion. There is also a clear educational role with respect to the sites’ inherent value, the threats they face and what must be done to prevent their loss.
There is no comparison between Mr Weber’s mediatised campaign and the scientific and educational work resulting from the inscription of sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The list of the “7 New Wonders of the World” will be the result of a private undertaking, reflecting only the opinions of those with access to the internet and not the entire world. This initiative cannot, in any significant and sustainable manner, contribute to the preservation of sites elected by this public.
July 4, 2007
Yesterday Richard Feigen published a commentary in The Art Newspaper titled "It’s definitely a bubble, but when it will burst is anybody’s guess." He provides an overview of the past two plus decades of art market speculation that has spawned incredible price increases of artworks with little or no historical or aesthetic significance.
We have seen this again and again in many facets of Western (most spectacularly in American) society where trendiness and business savvy outweigh true cultural value. This false validation of a current trend is eventually corrected or adjusted, often with harsh penalties to those unknowingly involved in the volatile game. As Richard Hamilton commented in regard to Pop art in 1957, art that relies on its young, witty, sexy and gimmicky attributes is also often both transient and expendable.
Here's a snip from Feigen's commentary:
The question is: just because something is called “art”, is it really art? Does hype and brilliant marketing create any genuine art-historical significance, any permanent value? Are these new mega-buyers using their eyes or their ears? Not long ago, one of the major contemporary collectors intimated to me, in all seriousness, that Andy Warhol was a greater artist than Leonardo da Vinci. I knew Andy Warhol, and liked him, but a genius he was not. Notwithstanding that, a private sale of his Turquoise Marilyn at $80m followed the $72m Christie’s sale.
To even postulate that a diamond-encrusted Damien Hirst skull, For the Love of God [here], at £50m ($100m) can be even remotely compared to Lord Halifax’s Titian portrait [here], one of the great pictures remaining in English private hands, still on the market at a comparable price, is patently absurd. To equate flashy materials, a pretentious title, and platoons of security with aesthetic significance is naive.
July 3, 2007
An early 1950s IM Pei-designed building in Atlanta, which is considered a prime example of modernist architecture, is under threat from developers. "Those involved with the project say they intend to save the historic structure by either building around it or on top of it, though they acknowledge it's possible only the façade will survive."
The low-slung Midtown office building is unassuming — a blocky, two-story structure with a wide staircase in the middle.
But the post-World War II building has an illustrious provenance: It was designed by I.M. Pei, one of the most celebrated architects in the world.
It's also believed to be the first solo effort of Pei's career, and experts say it is an important example of midcentury modernism.
Now, developers want to bring a large mixed-use complex to the site, complete with two midrise towers and ground-level retail, raising concerns about the Pei building's future. [more]
I find it interesting that in the 1950s and 1960s large numbers of structures from the turn of the last century were being destroyed to make room for postwar modernist architecture in the name of "progress" (For example, New York's original Penn Station.). Is this same architecture now being endangered by its own modernist perspective of privileging the new?
July 2, 2007
Here's a good reason to pay attention in your art history classes.
(Bloomberg) -- Ira Spanierman has done what most art dealers only dream about.
Poking around a Sotheby Parke Bernet (now Sotheby's) auction preview in 1968, Spanierman spied a painting of a bearded man in an ornate gold-and-raspberry vestment that was ascribed to an unknown artist of the Italian school. The young dealer, who had founded Spanierman Gallery just a short time before, bid $325 for the canvas -- and won it.
Three years later, leading Renaissance scholars identified the work as a lost 1518 portrait of Lorenzo de' Medici by Raphael. Spanierman was thrilled.
Almost four decades after his purchase and discovery, Spanierman has placed the Raphael with Christie's International to be auctioned on July 5 -- during London's old master sales at Christie's and Sotheby's tomorrow through July 6. The work has a top estimate of 15 million pounds ($30 million).
Tags: news article
While reviewing for an exam I came across this beautiful quilt, made by Faith Ringgold in 1988 called Tar Beach (Part 1 from the Woman on a Bridge Series). I really never considered quilt making to be a form of art, but rather a hobby. However, once I saw this quilt I was shocked by how the quilt was detailed and depicted a story.
Have a great evening!
Alba Delgadillo- Paramo (Art-5 )