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Arts Creativity Video

Francis Bacon: A Brush with Violence

Francis Bacon painted ghostly, violent images. Some say he emptied his darkest thoughts on canvass, mostly as a manifestation of his relationship with his sadistic lover, Peter Lacey.

Bacon cultivated a sense of darkness that gave his paintings an “edgy atmosphere…gambling everything on the next brush stroke.” Says Bacon in the video:

“We do with our life what we can and then we die. If someone is aware of that, perhaps it comes out in their work.”

francis bacon

The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.

Francis Bacon

Bacon was an untrained artist, an outlier in the painting world. He worked closely with his PR agent David Sylvester to ensure that he continued to stand out, securing an exhibition at the Tate Museum and book of interview transcripts collated by Sylvester himself.

Francis Bacon was a mystery man who tugged at the most morose moments in his life, leaving the characters in his paintings look as if they are literally gasping for air.

Categories
Arts Politics & Society

Late 20th century North Korean graphic design

These late 20th century North Korean graphic designs from Pyongyang’s Industrial Art studio demonstrate the kitschy yet nationalistic advertising in North Korea advertising.

© Justin Piperger

A picture is worth a thousand words

The candy-like posters paint a fruitful view of communism. Their meaning required little interpretation, exactly Kim Jong-il’s intention. “If the people who see a picture cannot grasp its meaning,” he said, “no matter what a talented artist may have painted it, they cannot say it is a good picture.”

© Justin Piperger
© Phaidon

Read North Korean design: the golden age of candy-coloured communism

In London? Check out the Made in North Korea: Everyday Graphics from the DPRK exhibition at the House of Illustration.

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Arts Creativity

Blasphemy? This artist sets works of art on fire 🔥

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What is new instantly becomes old, a permanent attrition.

At least that’s perspective of artist Maaren Baas, who took a blowtorch to Gerrit Rietveld’s iconic Red and Blue Chair and turned it into something completely new.

“I do not want to destroy, says Baas, “… burning is not something negative. Standstill is. If things remain as is, there is no progress. It’s about changing of what we already know. It’s very human to keep things as they are. While it is very natural to continuously adapt. In nature nothing ever stops changing. It is an ongoing process.”

If a museum is where pieces of art go to congregate in dust, then remixing a version of them at least gives them the potential of new form.

What is great should remain preserved. But it is the pattern of nature’s interest to evolve from past states on top of so-called originality, at least to keep the remix going.

Stagnancy is the work of the devil.

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Arts Creativity Culture Photography Uncategorized

Social media companies as old storefronts

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Designs by Andrei Lacatusu

If Facebook’s recent newsfeed changes are any sign, social media is in decay. It’s gone from connecting people to Buzzfeed’s linkbait to a nest of echo chambers where the likeminded and bots spread fake news.

The art done here by artist Andrei Lacatusu provides a metaphor for the chaotic and ruinous state of social media, which appears to be failing like today’s brick-and-mortar stores. While we can expect the social networks to stay in business, they need to spend 2018 rebuilding the public’s trust.

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Arts Books Poetry Productivity & Work Writing

The value of making up stuff

Art is what we do with our extra time. It is more leisure than life. “Art is everything you don’t have to do,” as Brian Eno put it.

The starving artist is compelled to have a day job. We can’t make art without the backbone of cash.

However, the cashless value of writing a poem, painting a picture, or photographing the trees could save your life.

It is in making up stuff we find meaning. The canvass enhances our lives and inspires us to express ourselves. That freedom can be liberating.

Writes Louis Menand in his latest New Yorker piece entitled Can Poetry Change Your Life?

“But I got the same painful pleasure out of writing prose that I did out of writing poetry—the pleasure of trying to put the right words in the right order. And I took away from my experience with poetry something else. I understood that the reason people write poems is the reason people write. They have something to say.”

Art translates life. It takes us places. We need stories and memes in order to keep the everyday exciting.

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Creativity Culture Life & Philosophy Tech

Making for the micro

People always made art. Now, we just make it and share it in abundance.

But all the noise makes it impossible for aspiring creators to stand out.

On the flip side, the bell curve is widening from the masses to the niches. We can build an audience around sub-genres at scale for the first time ever; the Internet helps us stay connected.

Once we shift our strategy from marketing to everyone to marketing to the micro, we set ourselves up to make deeper work that lasts.

Your weirdness is not only acceptable, it’s mainstream.

Categories
Apps Arts Creativity Social Media Tech

When will digital art get its due?

Digital art is easier to create. Photoshop, Prisma filters — anyone can be an artist by throwing a filter on an image. People associate handwork with hard work over hardware and software.

To quote journalist David Carr: “show me what you’ve made with your own two dirty little hands. I don’t really care what you say, I want to see what you’ve done.”

Digital art gets overlooked for a few reasons:

  1. Digital art is easier to create. Photoshop, Prisma filters — anyone can be an artist by throwing a filter on an image. People associate hand work with hard work over hardware and software. To quote journalist David Carr: “show me what you’ve made with your own two dirty little hands. I don’t really care what you say, I want to see what you’ve done.”
  2. Digital art is replicable. Anything digitized has an inventory of one. MP3s crushed the music industry because the same file could be shared a million times over. The same goes for art, which gets reshared on social media on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest. Seeing the art on a screen rather than at a museum makes it feel less palpable. People like to touch things, or at least feel so.
  3. Digital art is valueless. The auction houses put a premium on traditional art simply because it is scarce. Originals will always outsell copies. Would you rather own a piece Banksy drew with his bare hands or a copy?

Digital art is easy to assess — art is art, we first taste with our eyes — what’s hard is how much value to place on it. Says columnist Marc Spiegler in his article in Time Magazine: 

“For decades, art and tech have done an awkward, fitful dance, never fully committing to each other”

But digital art is getting a deeper appreciation. Whether it’s 3D printed buildings, Pixar animation, or an Oculus Rift virtual reality film, art and technology are coming together to redefine the interpretation of art. Art is also getting more collaborative and remixed within a community of creators.

“Artists collaborate with a rotating cast of sparring partners all over the globe, not only other artists, but also writers, coders, fashion designers, electronica musicians, etc.”

Computers minimize the barrier to entry in creating art. The tool (your hand or mouse) and the palette (software) are at your disposal. In the words of John Culkin: “We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” What’s going to separate the amateurs from the professionals is how deep and deliberate the artist wants to do.

Digital art is blooming because it is evolving with technology, which is changing people’s tastes. Hand painting may always be pricier, but that does not make them more superior. The value is in the eye of the beholder.

gif by Silvia Gulmaraens