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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments At Edge of Whitney, Touching the Void

Published: October 1, 2010
The New York Times

Stephen Petronio, in a harness, on an outside wall of the Whitney Museum in “Man Walking Down the Side of a Building,” part of “Off the Wall: Part 2 — Seven Works by Trisha Brown.”

As Stephen Petronio leaned out face-forward horizontally into space on Thursday afternoon, only his feet touching the edge of the roof at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the crowd below gave a stifled gasp. Mr. Petronio was about to begin his short and hair-raising re-enactment of Trisha Brown’s 1970 “Man Walking Down the Side of a Building,” and it was a scary, exhilarating sight.

In the three minutes or so that it took Mr. Petronio — a choreographer and former performer with the Trisha Brown Dance Company — to reach the ground, he had to create the illusion of actually walking on the building. Suspended by a harness around his chest, he kept his body stiffly straight, his head in line, forcing his feet to touch the wall with a semblance of gravitational pull on every slow, moonwalking step.

All the people below surely, for a moment, imagined themselves leaning straight into the void. And as Mr. Petronio made his way down, we understood something about the human body in relation to gravity, the way physical prowess can suspend disbelief, and about the strangeness and wonder of the mechanics of ordinary movement that no amount of historical footage of Ms. Brown’s work, or reading of old reviews, could communicate.

“Man Walking,” like Ms. Brown’s other pieces shown at the Whitney on Thursday, was Part 2 of “Off the Wall,” an exhibition about ways in which artists have questioned traditional ideas about viewing art. The first part, now closed, featured visual artists, but the second focuses on Ms. Brown, presenting a number of pieces that she originally showed in “Another Fearless Dance Concert” at the Whitney in 1971.

It was a brilliant notion (thank you to the curator, Limor Tomer), bringing a moment in dance history to life with startling force. Ms. Brown, one of the original members of the Judson Dance Theater in the 1960s and the improvisational Grand Union in the 1970s, was part of a group of artists who were instrumental in radically transforming ideas about making and watching art during those decades.

The pieces presented at the Whitney are not an exact reconstitution of the 1971 show — “Accumulation” was created later that year; “Spanish Dance” in 1973; “Figure Eight” in 1974. But these works, in addition to “Leaning Duets 1 and 2,” “Walking on the Wall,” “Falling Duet 1” and “Floor of the Forest” demonstrate lucidly and dramatically the way in which Ms. Brown was methodically exploring the most essential elements of the dancing body.

From left, Dai Jian, Leah Morrison and Tamara Riewe in Trisha Brown’s “Walking on the Wall.”

In “Accumulation” (performed by Leah Morrison and Tamara Riewe), simple, everyday gestures — thumbs rotating, arms pulling in to the body, extending down to the sides — are repeated serially until the simplicity has given way to the virtuosity of coordination and memory.

In the “Leaning Duets,” members of couples are anchored to each other with loops of rope and small boards at their backs. As they lean away from each other and take small steps, each has to continually adjust the stance to maintain balance. “Falling Duet 1” pushes the notion of physical dependency even further: One dancer, eyes closed, falls from a standing position in an unpredictable direction; the other must anticipate and break the fall with his or her body so that they tumble soundlessly together to the floor. It’s slightly frightening and endlessly fascinating.

The longest performance piece, “Walking on the Wall,” was a variant of Mr. Petronio’s stroll down the building. On intersecting walls forming an L, eight dancers are suspended horizontally by harnesses attached to tracks on the ceiling. Each is on a rope of a slightly different length, and so as the dancers walk calmly or lope rhythmically along the wall, they must negotiate their crossings.

To watch them is to feel a discernible perceptual shift; it’s as if you were in a tall building looking down at pedestrians as they crisscrossed intersecting streets. That conflation of the ordinary (movement we all do, quotidian activity) and the extraordinary (the physical skill of gravity imitated yet defied) is at the heart of this work, and it reminds us of how art can reveal the world to us in magical ways.

message 2: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Art does take many forms, I find this interesting, it is a visual picture that is not a painting but it evokes feeling in others. I am learning something new every day. Thanks, Megan.

message 3: by AC (new)

AC | 151 comments Yes... art takes many forms:

message 4: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Eco-groups line up on both sides of Christo project

By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post

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Over the River

Chemical plants. New mines in the woods. Sprawling villages atop pristine mountains. Some plans easily garner fierce opposition from environmental advocacy groups.

But fighting a proposal from one of the world's most-revered artists can make even the most ardent wilderness lover feel conflicted.

"Lots of debate, back and forth on this one," said Jenny Kedward, chair of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Sierra Club.

That debate, now coming to a head, swirls around artist Christo's 13-year-old, $50 million plan to temporarily suspend 5.9 miles of translucent fabric above the Arkansas River between Salida and Cañon City.

Christo's "Over The River" project would transform the rolling river into shimmering art, possibly drawing as many as 340,000 visitors — and international renown — to a rural region increasingly reliant on tourism. But with the art would come a two-year construction zone, heavy traffic, 9,000 riverside anchors and disruption to the region's wildlife and ecology.

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Those opposing scenarios have divided the ranks of environmental groups whose members are torn between an artistic appreciation for Christo's grandiose projects and a drive to protect the natural environment.

In August, the Sierra Club's Sangre de Cristo group voted to support the project, while the club's statewide Rocky Mountain Chapter has declined to take a position.

"We are actually not that concerned with the environmental impacts," said Kedward, speaking on behalf of the Sangre de Cristo group.

After studying Christo's plan, Kedward and her local group leaned toward support because the artist plans to halt installation work during migration seasons for local birds and promised to work with the local railroad company to move long dormant lines of railcars blocking views and animal traffic outside Cañon City.

"We never have to debate issues that much really, but with this, we heard a lot about art. It came up that this was art messing with our natural world and that the art was already there," said Kedward.

"It seems like from what we've learned, that Christo has taken into consideration many environmental concerns."

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That's not enough for other groups. Earlier this month, a consortium of seven Colorado environmental groups issued a condemnation of the plan as an "industrial-scale facility . . . inappropriate for public lands."

"We are not against art, artists or Christo," said Colorado Wild's Rocky Smith, a longtime environmental activist who crafted the opposition comments that were submitted to the Bureau of Land Management.

"The impacts will be considerable and possibly severe, especially to bighorn sheep."

The BLM expects to issue a decision on Christo's plan for art on federal land in February. The bureau harvested more than 3,500 comments this summer as it toured the state with varying alternatives to Christo's original proposal. If approved, the project would exhibit in the summer of 2013 at the soonest.

Signing off on the opposition letter was Crested Butte's High Country Citizens' Alliance, the Center for Native Ecosystems, Durango's Great Old Broads For Wilderness, the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, Wild Connections and Telluride-based Sheep Mountain Alliance.

At first, the 21-year-old Great Old Broads For Wilderness group was ambivalent toward the project.

"A lot of our positions are no-brainers," said the group's executive director, Veronica Egan. "This was not that way. At first, we thought, 'Yeah! Christo and his glorious art.' But given that this area is of environmental concern, it just seemed an inappropriate use of public lands."

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So far, national heavy-hitters in the environmental-protection movement have not weighed in. Like the overarching 1.3 million-member Sierra Club, the Audubon Society has not taken a formal position. Even so, the society's Colorado chapter has issues.

"Regardless of how artistic this endeavor, we have to protect our natural resources," said Arkansas Valley Audubon Society conservation chair SeEtta Moss, whose group submitted comments noting "impacts that are impossible to mitigate."

Many advocacy groups are working on large-scale, long-term issues like development and renewable energy. Christo's idea doesn't necessarily pose a serious enough threat to pull focus away from heavier issues, said Chris Canaly, executive director of the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, which submitted critical comments during the BLM's initial study of the plan a few years ago.

"We definitely have a lot of issues on our plate, so this comes down to a matter of priorities," Canaly said. "When all is said and done, the fact that this is a temporary project makes people look and hope the impacts will be temporary too. There probably is some level of common sense in that way of thinking."

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message 5: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments I have a question. When Christo and Jeanne-Claude surrounded the islands in Biscayne Bay, did they have more environmental concerns? How long is this current project of 'Over the River' going to be on display, and will this time prove detrimental to the environment? Any comments?

message 6: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Isn't this Hurricane Season now, or soon to be, I don't know if that structure will hold. I saw awhile back that Christo did this in New York somewhere. With banners of colors, I recall.

message 7: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments Central Park. He called 'em saffron, I call 'em orange.

message 8: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Yes,Thanks, Ruth

message 9: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Munch stolen in Sweden and nobody notices
CBS News

A museum in Malmo, Sweden, was unaware of the theft of three of its works of art until police found them in a raid in nearby Landskrona.

An Edvard Munch painting, Two Friends, valued at $1.5 million, was discovered in the apartment raid by police, along with paintings by Swedish artist Gustaf Rydberg and Paer Siegaard.

Police traced them back to the Malmo Art Museum because of labels on the back of paintings.

But the museum in the city 700 kilometres south of Stockholm had not reported them missing and in fact did not know of the loss.

"Neither I nor our staff can explain how this could happen," Goran Christenson, head of the Malmo Art Museum, told local media, saying he was "shocked" when he heard from police.

He said security procedures would be reviewed in light of the theft.

The Munch painting Two Friends portrays two dogs and is thought to originate from 1913 when the Norwegian painter was living in Germany. It is the only Munch owned by the gallery.

The pieces had been recently removed from the museum's permanent exhibition and placed in storage.

A man has been arrested and charged with the theft of art worth millions of kronor.

message 10: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Jesus artwork attacked with crowbar
CBS News

A Montana woman is alleged to have driven 1,500 kilometres from Montana to a museum in Loveland, Colo., so she could rip up a controversial piece of art featuring Jesus.

Kathleen Folden, a 56-year-old truck driver, is charged with criminal mischief in the case.

Witnesses said she shouted "How can you desecrate my Lord?" as she used the crowbar to smash glass shielding the print at the Loveland Museum Gallery and then tore part of the canvas.

Folden appeared in court Thursday and was released on bail of $350 US.

A judge granted her permission to leave the state so she can keep working as a truck driver while she waits for her next court date.

Kathleen Folden, 56, of Kalispell, Mont., is shown in mugshot after her arrest Wednesday. (Loveland Police/Associated Press)


The collage by Enrique Chagoila has been denounced by church members as obscene as it includes a head of Jesus and a woman's body engaged in a sex act.

Church members had been picketing peacefully outside the gallery, asking that the artwork be taken down.

Now it appears they will get their way, after city officials said Thursday they will not hang the work again because of safety concerns.

The incident Wednesday was "very troubling" said acting city manager Rod Wensing.

Curator Maureen Corey condemned the attack and admitted the controversy has helped boost visits to the museum.

"In my opinion, it's rather sad taking away people's freedom to see the art," Corey said.

Chagoya, a Stanford University professor who created the work, titled The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals, denied the work suggests Jesus having sex.

His 12-panel lithograph is a collage that includes comic book characters, Mexican pornography, Mayan symbols and a skeleton with a pope's hat.

"What I'm trying to express is the corruption of the spiritual by the church," Chagoya said.

He said the decision not to display the work again amounts to suppression of art.

With files from The Associated Press

message 11: by Heather (last edited Oct 09, 2010 08:08AM) (new)

Heather | 4 comments #9 What I'd like to know is how anyone could not notice that the painting was gone! Some security system!

#10 Is it really a 'suppression of art' to not display the work again?
I would be curious about anyone's thoughts regarding this type of expression of the 'corruption of the spiritual by the church'.

message 12: by Jonathan (last edited Oct 09, 2010 01:33PM) (new)

Jonathan Lopez | 257 comments With regard to the theft in Sweden, the disappearance of artworks from storage facilities is not unusual, and using a thief's perspective, more likely to result in a successful crime, as it is entirely possible for the theft to go undetected for a long period. These particular works, however, are so easily recognizable that they were not especially wise targets for crime as it would be virtually impossible to find a buyer even on the black market.

I think I mentioned that I did an interview a while back with the head of the FBI's art crime squad, who had a lot to say on these issues:

As for the case of the woman driving cross-country to attack the Chagoya painting with a crowbar and the subsequent decision not to put the picture back on display, it sounds like a weird story but not necessarily because of "suppression"--just bizarre all around...

message 13: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Very good article, Jonathan. You really are a gifted writer, but I know I'm not the first to say that. It is interesting that, as Whittman says, the thieves are not usually using the paintings as collateral. I would think otherwise. Good point...why would anyone steal a painting that could not be displayed openly?

message 14: by Lobstergirl (last edited Oct 09, 2010 07:24PM) (new)

Lobstergirl (Since when does CBS news give distances in kilometres?)

Sigh...I guess this museum has no security guard. How else do you walk into an exhibit with a crowbar? The artwork seems to have been removed from the sponsor's website. I found a few images on flickr but damned if I can see Jesus involved in any sex acts...looks like fairly routine "outsider art" to me...

Nice of the judge to let the perp back to Montana to earn her living, though.

message 15: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Isn't the crowbar incident and the Mexican one two separate incidences. I don't know how the Colorado women could walk up to the painting and desecrate it without anyone stopping her. Why would the judge let her go, she obviously did it. Don't they usually tell the convicted that they have to stay in town, or being held behind bars to await sentencing.

message 16: by Jim (new)

Jim | 147 comments Jonathan wrote: "With regard to the theft in Sweden, the disappearance of artworks from storage facilities is not unusual, and using a thief's perspective, more likely to result in a successful crime, as it is enti..."

Whitman's book PRICELESS about being the FBI's art theft main agent was very insightful about the whole scene concerning theft and recovery.

message 17: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Lopez | 257 comments Glad to hear that you enjoyed Whitman's book, Jim. I liked it a lot too.

message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim | 147 comments Hi Everybody
Hope things are going well
I'm working non stop on a political campaign but took the day off

Politics may be an art but I don't get the same feeling that I do when I see art works.

Art is so restorative to the soul and spirit.

I gave a tour of Mark Bradford's exhibit the other day at the Wexner Arts Center for a college studio art class.
Every student participated and some of their insights were mind boggling for me and made some paintings so much more interesting to me than I ever imagined some of the pieces would be.
The discussions of the various works just reinforced for me how great hearing others' interpretations of different pieces can lift a soul mired in the mundane world of political canvassing, calling, interviewing and connect all of us to a shared appreciation fo how art relates to life in such a joyful and sublime way.

In other words I've missed all of Your comments/insights and can't wait to get back into such a fun online world that we have shared for however long.

message 19: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Hi, Jim Welcome back, I am Robin and I just joined the group recently.

message 20: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments This unfinished painting of Jesus and Mary could be a lost Michelangelo, potentially the art find of the century.

But to the upstate family on whose living-room wall it hung for years, it was just "The Mike."

When the kids knocked the painting off its perch with an errant tennis ball sometime in the mid-1970s, the Kober clan wrapped it up and tucked it away behind the sofa.

There it remained for 27 years, until Air Force Lt. Col. Martin Kober retired in 2003 and had some time on his hands. His father gave him a task -- research the family lore that the painting was really a Michelangelo.

"Now, with your newfound free time, do something with this!" Kober recalled his father telling him.

Kober, now 53, dug into the history of the painting, contacting auction houses, Renaissance art scholars, European archives, and even meeting museum directors in Italy. He found Antonio Forcellino, an Italian art restorer and historian and told him of the tennis ball, and something more horrifying.

"It wasn't the story that had scared me, but that it had been exposed to heating commonly found inside a middle-class home," Forcellino writes in his new book, "La Pieta Perduta," or "The Lost Pieta," published in Italy and due out in the United States next year.

And he did not believe in the existence of another version of Michelangelo paintings that are hanging in Italian museums.

"I had assumed it was going to be a copy," Forcellino said.

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PIETA BREAD: An expert says this painting owned by a Buffalo family could be a real Michelangelo worth many millions of dollars.

Still, Forcellino skeptically visited Kober's home outside Buffalo to view the painting, and the trip left him a bit breathless.

"In reality, this painting was even more beautiful than the versions hanging in Rome and Florence. The truth was this painting was much better than the ones they had. I had visions of telling them that there was this crazy guy in America telling everyone he had a Michelangelo at home," Forcellino said.

A scientific analysis of the painting proved that the Michelangelo claim was not so crazy.

Forcellino told The Post that infrared and X-ray examinations of the painting -- on a 25-by- 19-inch wood panel -- show many alterations made by the artist as he changed his mind, and an unfinished portion near the Madonna's right knee.

"The evidence of unfinished portions demonstrate that this painting never, never, never could be a copy of another painting," Forcellino said. "No patron pays in the Renaissance for an unfinished copy."

Additionally, the provenance, or ownership history, points to the work being done by Michelangelo around 1545 for his friend Vittoria Colonna. That was about 45 years after Michelangelo did his famed "Pieta," or pity, sculpture of Mary holding Jesus, housed in St. Peter's Basilica.

The Pieta painting was passed to two Catholic cardinals, eventually ending up in the hands of a German baroness named Villani.

The work ended up in the Kober family after Villani willed it to her lady-in-waiting Gertrude Young. Young was the sister-in-law of Kober’s great-grandfather and she sent the work to America in 1883, according to an account by Kober.

Forcellino said Herman Grimm, a noted Michelangelo biographer, saw the "Pieta" in 1868 and attributed it to the master. Additional evidence includes a letter in the Vatican library discussing a Pieta painting for Colonna, he said.

"I'm absolutely convinced that is a Michelangelo painting," Forcellino said.

Michelangelo expert William Wallace, a professor of architecture and art history at Washington University in St. Louis, said he saw the painting before Kober had it privately restored to remove 500 years of wear and tear.

Since there is no definitive scientific way to attribute such a painting, Wallace said it would be the weight of experts over time that would hold sway on whether it is a Michelangelo.

One thing is certain, however -- the painting's potential worth. It is now in a bank vault.

The rare Michelangelo drawings that have come up for sale in recent years have sold for as much as $20 million. And a possible Michelangelo at the Metropolitan Museum of Art could be worth as much as $300 million.

"Millions and millions," Wallace said of the lost Pieta's value.

New York Post

message 21: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) That is an amazing story. To think that it hung in their living room and didn't think anything of it. Great story, Heather!

message 22: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Hmm. The abs are awfully awkward. Does it look like the same artist drew this - a definite Michelangelo?

message 23: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Interesting. Hmmmm.

message 24: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments I'm with Lobstergirl. It looks awfully klutzy for a Michelangelo.

message 25: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl The hands and the faces are quite dissimilar too. The Buffalo Mary's fingers are very spindly.

Michelangelo's strength was sculpture...the expressiveness of the Pieta sculpture is way beyond either the Colonna drawing, or the Buffalo version.

message 26: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Spanish Woman Claims to be Salvador Dali's Daughter

MADRID - A 52 year old Spanish woman, Pilar A., had a DNA test made eight months ago which she hoped would help her prove that she is the daughter of famous painter Salvador Dali. The woman had a DNA test made eight months ago and her story was confirmed by Nicolas Descharnes, son of friend and biographer of Salvador Dali, Robert Descharnes. Dali's DNA samples were given to the scientist who made the test by the Descharnes family who kept them alter the Spanish painter died.

Pilar A., whose mother had worked as a young woman at the home of a family in Barcelona who were on vacation in Cadaques, has explained that she has had two DNA tests but that the results have never been given to her, which makes her relieve that she is the painters daughter. Because of this she is trying now to have a court order make an official DNA test to prove her theory.

The Descharnes family has kept silent so Pilar has now hired the services of a lawyer who has already sent the first request to see the results of the DNA test. If the family does not comply a court will order them to do so.

Salvador Dali (1904-89) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and designer. After passing through phases of Cubism, Futurism and Metaphysical painting, he joined the Surrealists in 1929 and his talent for self-publicity rapidly made him the most famous representative of the movement. Throughout his life he cultivated eccentricity and exhibitionism (one of his most famous acts was appearing in a diving suit at the opening of the London Surrealist exhibition in 1936), claiming that this was the source of his creative energy. He took over the Surrealist theory of automatism but transformed it into a more positive method which he named `critical paranoia'. According to this theory one should cultivate genuine delusion as in clinical paranoia while remaining residually aware at the back of one's mind that the control of the reason and will has been deliberately suspended. He claimed that this method should be used not only in artistic and poetical creation but also in the affairs of daily life. His paintings employed a meticulous academic technique that was contradicted by the unreal `dream' spaSalvador Dali - 'Gala of the Spheres' Pencil signed lithograph - Courtesy of the Art Appreciation Foundationce he depicted and by the strangely hallucinatory characters of his imagery. He described his pictures as `hand-painted dream photographs' and had certain favorite and recurring images, such as the human figure with half-open drawers protruding from it, burning giraffes, and watches bent and flowing as if made from melting wax (The Persistence of Memory, MOMA, New York; 1931).

In 1937 Dalí visited Italy and adopted a more traditional style; this together with his political views (he was a supporter of General Franco) led Breton to expel him from the Surrealist ranks. He moved to the USA in 1940 and remained there until 1955. During this time he devoted himself largely to self-publicity; his paintings were often on religious themes (The Crucifixion of St John of the Cross, Glasgow Art Gallery, 1951), although sexual subjects and pictures centering on his wife Gala were also continuing preoccupations. In 1955 he returned to Spain and in old age became a recluse.

Apart from painting, Dalí's output included sculpture, book illustration, jewellery design, and work for the theatre. In collaboration with the director Luis Buñuel he also made the first Surrealist films---Un chien andalou (1929) and L'Age d'or (1930)---and he contributed a dream sequence to Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945). He also wrote a novel, Hidden Faces (1944) and several volumes of flamboyant autobiography. Although he is undoubtedly one of the most famous artists of the 20th century. There are museums devoted to Dalí's work in Figueras, his home town in Spain, and in St Petersburg in Florida.

message 27: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) I like Dali's work he was an interesting character, also. I remember him with his moustache. What a talent. Hope this woman finds what she is looking for. Is she an artist as well. The article didn't state that.

message 28: by Dvora (new)

Dvora He was an interesting character and a Franco supporter. He expressed agreement with the execution of Llorca by Franco's troops, and Llorca had been a friend of his. Quite a guy.

message 29: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Don't know much about his political leanings.

message 30: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments Dali was a media whore. Anyway he could get publicity, he did. His early paintings are fascinating, but after he got religion he tanked.

message 31: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments I agree Ruth. But what about this painting -- he made out well (financially) on it.
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message 32: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments I'm sure he did, but I think it's godawful.

message 33: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments Why?

message 35: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) A.C. Thanks for the chalk art website. Some of the childrens' artwork was amazing. especially the one toddler who was in the chalk work design.

message 36: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments very cool AC

message 37: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments A Great American Artist & Pop Art Pioneer, Robert Rauschenberg Died in Florida at 82

Written by Roslyn Shadrick

NEW YORK CITY - The New York Times has reported and confirmed through PaceWildenstein the death of one of America's greatest artists, Robert Rauschenberg. In addition to painting and sculpture, Rauschenberg's long career has also included significant contributions to printmaking and Performance Art. He also won a Grammy Award for his album design of the Talking Heads album Speaking in Tongues. As of 2003 he worked from his home and studio in Captiva, Florida.

Rauschenberg is perhaps most famous for his "Combines" of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations. While the Combines are both painting and sculpture, Rauschenberg has also worked with photography, printmaking, papermaking, and performance. Rauschenberg had a tendency to pick up the trash that interested him on the streets of New York City and bringing it back to his studio to use it in this works. He claimed he "wanted something other than what I could make myself and I wanted to use the surprise and the collectiveness and the generosity of finding surprises. And if it wasn't a surprise at first, by the time I got through with it, it was. So the object itself was changed by its context and therefore it became a new thing."

In 1953, Rauschenberg stunned the art world by erasing a drawing by de Kooning.

n 1964 Rauschenberg was the first American artist to win the Grand Prize at the Venice Biennale (Mark Tobey and James Whistler had previously won the Painting Prize). Since then he has enjoyed a rare degree of institutional support.

Robert Rauschenberg studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Académie Julian in Paris, France, before enrolling in 1948 at the legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina. He is of German and Cherokee ancestry.

As a young artist Rauschenberg married the painter Susan Weil. The two met while attending the Academie Julian in Paris, and in 1948 both decided to attend Black Mountain College in North Carolina to study under Josef Albers. From 1949 to 1952 Rauschenberg studied at the Art Students League of New York, where he met Knox Martin and Cy Twombly. Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weil were married in the summer of 1950. Their son, Christopher was born on July 16, 1951. The two separated in June 1952. At Black Mountain his painting instructor was the renowned Bauhaus figure Josef Albers, whose strict discipline and sense of method inspired Rauschenberg, as he once said, to do "exactly the reverse" of what Albers taught him.

Composer John Cage, whose music of chance occurrences and found sounds perfectly suited Rauschenberg's personality, was also a member of the Black Mountain faculty. The "white paintings" produced by Rauschenberg at Black Mountain in 1951, while they contain no images at all, are said to be so exceptionally blank and reflective that their surfaces respond and change in sympathy with the ambient conditions in which they are shown, "so you could almost tell how many people are in the room," as Rauschenberg once commented. The White Paintings are said to have directly influenced Cage in the composition of his completely "silent" piece titled 4'33" the following year.

In 1952 Rauschenberg began his series of "Black Paintings" and "Red Paintings," in which large, expressionistically brushed areas of color were combined with collage and found objects attached to the canvas. These so-called "Combine Paintings" ultimately came to include such heretofore un-painterly objects as a stuffed goat and the artist's own bed quilt, breaking down traditional boundaries between painting and sculpture, reportedly prompting one Abstract Expressionist painter to remark, "If this is Modern Art, then I quit!" Rauschenberg's Combines provided inspiration for a generation of artists seeking alternatives to traditional artistic media.

Rauschenberg's approach was sometimes called "Neo-Dada," a label he shared with the painter and close friend, Jasper Johns. Rauschenberg's oft-repeated quote that he wanted to work "in the gap between art and life" suggested a questioning of the distinction between art objects and everyday objects, reminiscent of the issues raised by the notorious "Fountain" of Dada pioneer Marcel Duchamp. At the same time, Johns' paintings of numerals, flags, and the like, were reprising Duchamp's message of the role of the observer in creating art's meaning.

Alternatively, in 1961, Rauschenberg took a step in what could be considered the opposite direction by championing the role of creator in creating art's meaning. Rauschenberg was invited to participate in an exhibition at the Galerie Iris Clert, where artists were to create and display a portrait of the owner, Iris Clert. Rauschenberg's submission consisted of a telegram sent to the gallery declaring "This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say so."

By 1962, Rauschenberg's paintings were beginning to incorporate not only found objects but found images as well - photographs transferred to the canvas by means of the silkscreen process. Previously used only in commercial applications, silkscreen allowed Rauschenberg to address the multiple reproducibility of images, and the consequent flattening of experience that that implies. In this respect, his work is contemporaneous with that of Andy Warhol, and both Rauschenberg and Johns are frequently cited as important forerunners of American Pop Art.

In addition to painting and sculpture, Rauschenberg's long career has also included significant contributions to printmaking and Performance Art. He also won a Grammy Award for his album design of the Talking Heads album Speaking in Tongues. On May 9, 2006 at Christie's in New York City, a work of art by Robert Rauschenberg titled "Cage," dedicated to John Cage, sold for $1,360,000, a record for a Rauschenberg piece on paper.

message 38: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments He was a wonderful artist, and, I've heard, an all round nice guy. But his death is not recent. At least not very recent. A couple of years or so ago.

message 39: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Sorry Ruth. I didn't know. I got the news today and it didn't say anything about a date of death. But it's some interesting information anyway!

message 40: by Ruth (last edited Oct 25, 2010 09:50AM) (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments Heather wrote: "But it's some interesting information anyway!"

Yes, it is. Thanks for posting it. I'd never seen that bicycle piece before.

It's a favorite gripe of mine that so much stuff goes around the internet without dates on it.

message 41: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments He died in 2008 -- but his birthday was Oct. 22, 1925 so maybe that is why there was something about him.

message 42: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) I never saw the Talking Heads music album, if someone can get it posted it would be interesting to see it.

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