Meet The Artist: Cinta Vidal Agulló

Cinta Vidal112Cinta Vidal Agulló is an artist from Barcelona, ​​Spain. She creates her Cinta Vidaldevoid of gravity worlds using acrylic paints on wooden panels. Cinta lives in Cardedeu, a small town near Barcelona. Her studio is located directly above a toy store owned by her family.

Cinta studied to be an illustrator, and for 16 years toiled in the theater workshop, learning the intricacies of staging. She is now engaged in staging the scenery for opera performances, illustration, painting murals and portraits.

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Cinta Vidal1Cinta Vidal2Cinta shares in an interview with Hi-Fructose:

With these un-gravity constructions, I want to show that we live in one world, but we live in it in very different ways – playing with everyday objects and spaces, placed in impossible ways to express that many times, the inner dimension of each one of us does not match the mental structures of those around us. The architectural spaces and day-to-day objects are part of a metaphor of how difficult it is to fit everything that shapes our daily space: our relationships, work, ambitions, and dreams.

Cinta Vidal9Vidal refers to the paintings as “un-gravity constructions” and says that each piece examines how a person’s internal perspective of life may not match up with the reality around them.
Cinta Vidal4The intersecting planes on many of her paintings are somewhat reminiscent of drawings by M.C. Escher, where every angle and available surface is inhabited by colorful characters going about their daily lives. Cinta Vidal5
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Mansudae

BehanzinStatueBéhanzin (1844 – December 10, 1906) is the eleventh King of Dahomey, modern-day Benin. He fought against the French colonizers and is remembered as a great hero by the people of Benin. This impressive monument is erected in Abomey, the country’s capital.
.JoshuaNkomoStatueAnd this is a no less monumental statue of former vice-president and independence fighter Joshua Nkomo, revered by the people of Zimbabwe. The statue was commissioned by the government of the country.

le_monument_de_la_renaissance_africaine.jpg.CROPThis one is African Renaissance, the highest monument on the African continent, erected in Dakar, Senegal, in 2010.

At 160 feet tall, the bronze monument is over one-and-a-half times the height of the Statue of Liberty. It depicts a man with a bare, ripped torso holding an infant aloft in one arm and guiding a woman with the other. The infant points ahead to indicate the glorious future, while the woman extends her arm behind to acknowledge the troubled past. Her hair is swept back by the wind, as are her scant, gossamer-like garments.

HeroesAcreNamibiaThe Heroes’ Acre monument is situated south of Windhoek, Namibia. It is built as a symmetric polygon with a marble obelisk and a bronze statue of the Unknown Soldier with a Kalashnikov in his hand, having uncanny resemblance to Sam Nujoma, Namibia’s President from 1990 to 2005.

What these monuments, made of tons of bronze, strewn over African continent — Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Benin, Cambodia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, Senegal, Syria, Togo, Zimbabwe — have in common?

It is their maker. These mammoth monuments were erected by Mansudae Overseas Projects, a design and construction company from North Korea — the international commercial division of the Mansudae Art Studio. Perhaps the world’s biggest art factory, Mansudae employs roughly 4,000 North Koreans, including some 1,000 artists, handpicked from the country’s best academies.

“They seem to have developed a small cottage industry,” says Marcus Noland, an expert on North Korea and director of studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “The North Koreans are desperate for money, and my guess is that at some point they figured out that essentially exporting their capacity to make glorious monuments to great leaders was something they could do to both win friends and possibly influence people, but also possibly make money.”

Germany is thus far the only Western democracy to have engaged the services of Mansudae. It did so in 2005, commissioning the fountain re-creation for €200,000 total ($264,480 today).

“The top tier artists in Germany simply don’t make realist work anymore. North Koreans on the other hand haven’t experienced the long evolution of modern art; they are kind of stuck in the early 1900s, which is exactly when this fountain was made.” (–Klaus Klemp, deputy director of Frankfurt’s Museum of Applied Art.)

And it went perfectly well, with the exception of a slight style issue: the North Korean sculpted the woman with “kind of a cement block hairdo,” in Klemp’s words — a little too Communist/socialist/realist for 21st-century Germany.

This re-creation of Frankfurt’s Fairy Tale Fountain was built at Mansudae Art Studio in North Korea. (via Wikipedia)

This re-creation of Frankfurt’s Fairy Tale Fountain was built at Mansudae Art Studio in North Korea. (via Wikipedia)

Only Mansudae Art Studio’s artists are sanctioned to portray the Kim dynasty:feature_northkorea

How does someone become a Mansudae artist? What training is involved?

Most of the Mansudae artists are graduates from Pyongyang University of Fine Art. There’s no examination or that sort of thing but top-scored graduates usually want to become Mansudae artists. Once you become Mansudae artist, you can learn from famous artists and continue your training.

In secondary school, the ones who have potential go to the after-school activities. At the time of graduation you take an examination to enter university … this is an ordinary course of training but it’s not all that is needed to reach the high level of expertise. (Jon Pyong-jin, oil painter awarded the title ‘merited artist.)

A state-artist in residence at the Mansudae Art Studio Photograph: Alamy

A state-artist in residence at the Mansudae Art Studio Photograph: Alamy

Most Mansudae paintings, drawings, prints, and statues are of a uniform style and depict a pastel world filled with paternalistic leaders, rosy-cheeked children, loving mothers, vibrant nature scenes, and patriotic heroes. But the classically trained artists are good enough to create all manner of realist art.

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That secret lair of creativity…

An artist’s studio should be a small space because small rooms discipline the mind and large ones distract it.  Those are the words of Leonardo da Vinci.

For ten years, the photographer Gautier Deblonde photographed workshops of the most famous artists of our time– his portfolio Atelier. Most of these liars of creativity aren’t small spaces, though.

This is one of them —  the studio of  Sir Antony Gormley, OBE, a British sculptor. His work space in London is a converted warehouse north of King’s Cross station.
Antony Gormley

(1) The works from the series Blockworks, having been created between 2003 and 2009. All the sculptures in this series are made of the same shape blocks in four sizes: each successive element is eight times the size of the previous one.

(2) Sculpture from the series Feeling Material. According to Gormley, it was created as an attempt to “describe the space of the body with the help of the matrix formed by the rings.”

Even if you do not know the specifics of Gormley’s creativity, it is  obvious that the artist working here is a person preoccupied with the dynamics of transformation of the human body, all that is connected with its dynamics. Iron as a main material of  Gromley’s sculptures might as well  be replaced by some entirely different substance, but most Gromley’s “men” were  made of clay replica of the artist’s own body.

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Joseph Backstein, director of the  Institute of Contemporary Art in Moscow (ICA Moscow) once visited Anthony Gromley in his studio when the atist was, quite literally, hard at work, his entire body  covered with in clay.  In the course of the ensued conversation, Backstein recalls, clay on Anthony’s body gradually solidified and, in the end, the only animated part of Sir Anthony was his mouth, his lips moving.

(4) Figure of Man in the left corner of the Deblonde’s photo, is an example of the most common manifestations of Gormley’s artwork. The artist likes to place such sculptures in different urban spaces: on rooftops, on the windows, at the edge of the sea — simply google his works and see them perched in most unusual places.

His best known works include the Angel of the North, a public sculpture in Gateshead in the North of England, commissioned in 1994 and erected in February 1998, Another Place on Crosby Beach near Liverpool, and Event Horizon, a multi-part site installation which premiered in London in 2007, around Madison Square in New York City, in 2010 and in São Paulo, in 2012, says Wikipedia.

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The sculptor Antony Gormley in his London studio with two of his works. Credit Hazel Thompson for The New York Times.

Actually, this large space on  Deblonde‘s photograph is only a small part of the sprawling lair.   Anthony Gormley– no surprise here — had long became an enterprise. His house has several floors with offices, workshops and laboratories. A huge number of assistants and workers are engaged in casting and creating models every day. Sir Anthony  is said to be very involved in the everyday activities of his staff, but he is no longer particularly hands on — or, rather, clay on — artist, like the hardening under the layer of clay self he was during Mr. Backstein’s visit.

Lisa Was Really Sick

 Leonardo Painting the Mona Lisa Aimee Brune Pages 1845 Engraved by Charles Lemoine from the oil original. 1845. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale.

Leonardo Painting the Mona Lisa Aimee Brune Pages 1845 Engraved by Charles Lemoine from the oil original. 1845. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale.

 LEONARDO DA VINCI (Vinci, 1452 - Amboise, 1519) - Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, known as the Mona Lisa (the Joconde in French), c. 1503–06)

LEONARDO DA VINCI (Vinci, 1452 – Amboise, 1519) – Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, known as the Mona Lisa (the Joconde in French), c. 1503–06) Detail.

“Thin, gradually widening nose with nervous, quivering wings and pale pink nostrils… Great details for an understanding of Mona Lisa: it might as well she is hard of hearing, otherwise her ears would not have been covered by flowing hair — she would have cherished her auditory impressions more.

Her gaze is uncertain, but she has a subtle sense of smell, which is often coupled with a rather weak perception of a other sensory impressions. She is sensually attuned to smells but hardly sensitive to the suffering of living beings. To be compassionate, we must have good eyesight and hearing.”

“Something painfully degenerate emanates from this person, and I feel that this woman has a hidden ills. Her famous smile is a fixed grin, nasty, annoying, giving Mona Lisa’s entire face that is lacking of beauty, a hint of peculiar ugliness, unprecedented in art, either before or after Leonardo… 

The gloomy genius hovers over this portrait. Despite the bright colors of spring landscape, Mona Lisa looks as though she just emerged from a dark dungeon.” (Russian art critic Akim Volynsky  (1861 –1926))

Well, how’s that opinion fares against the most common one: Leonardo’s Mona Lisa is sheer perfection and her most famous feature, her lingering smile, is nothing less than a beautiful enigma!?

smileIt isn’t easy to be a heroine of, perhaps, the most famous works of art of all time.

These days Mona Lisa is being regularly given medical diagnoses.
In 2005, the paint­ing was ana­lyzed at the Uni­ver­sity of Ams­ter­dam using “emo­tion recog­ni­tion soft­ware”. Based on com­par­ing her fea­tures (pri­mar­ily her eyes and lips) to a ‘neu­tral’ expres­sion, it was concluded that the subject of the Mona Lisa is 83% happy, 9% dis­gusted, 6% fear­ful, and 2% angry.

Lately, numerous medical doctors — physicians, dentists, surgeons, ophthalmologists — Mrs. del Giocondo was a very sick lady. The list of her ailments includes (!) strabismus, hemiatrophy, discrepancy, congenital idiocy, diseases of the spine, excess of cholesterol in the blood, alopecia, toothlessness.Mona_Lisa Fingers

Take a closer look at Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo’s fingers. In the opinion of Danish physician Finn Becker Christensen, “discrepancy” in Mona Lisa’s fingers is one of the signs of congenital idiocy. Another evidence of this condition is her high convex forehead. Mona Lisa’s famous smile is asymetrical, “left-sided” — yet another sign of disturbed emotional state.Eyes

English ophthalmologist Clive Novis suggests that Mona Lisa’s unfocused gaze is a clear symptom of strabismussquint,  a disorder of vision due to a deviation from normal orientation of one or both eyes so that both cannot be directed at the same object at the same time. Other words, Lisa was cross-eyed.

These and other curious medical discoveries were collected for the article Беззубое совершенство (Toothless Perfection) in Вокруг Света (Around The Word) magazine. Half-way through retelling the article in English I stumbled across a blog post where someone  have already done it. To learn more about poor Lisa’s earthly suffering, see  Mona Lisa medical diagnosis.
Clearly, to the  doctors there are no healthy patients, only underdiagnosed. Soon it will be possible to test their hypothesis. Perhaps, soon enough it’ll be possible to prove or disprove some or all of the diagnoses: Mona Lisa search: Test results on ‘muse’ Lisa Gherardini bones to be announced.

Painter works on copying Leonardo's masterpiece, surrounded by finished copies.

Painter works on copying Leonardo’s masterpiece, surrounded by finished copies.

For a close-up view of the Mona Lisa, visit the Musée du Lou­vre web­site where you can zoom in for more detail than you could even see in per­son, and also com­pare the results of sci­en­tific tests done with infrared, x-radiography, and UVF scans.

Aristotle As A Pony

Aristotle (385 -322 BC)

Aristotle (385 -322 BC)

As a prolific writer and polymath, Aristotle of Stagirus (384 BCE – 322BCE) radically transformed most, if not all, areas of knowledge he touched. He was a tutor of Alexander the Great (Alexander III of Macedon). In a word — an outstanding man no matter which way you look at him, his life or his philosophy.

Aristotle mentors Alexander

Aristotle mentors Alexander

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies,” Aristotle taught young Alexander, initiating the future warrior-king in philosophy of carnal love.

Campaspe, also known as Pancaste, Phyllis and Phillida, initiated the young Alexander in love beyond philosophy, the first women with whom Alexander was intimate. She was thought to be a prominent citizen of Larisa in Thessaly.

One of the most popular legends and artistic motifs of the Northern Renaissance was the tale of Phyllis, Alexander’s mistress (in some accounts, his wife) who once rode the Greek philosopher Aristotle like a pony.

Once upon a time, Aristotle taught Alexander that he should restrain himself from frequently approaching his wife, who was very beautiful, lest he should impede his spirit from seeking the general good. Alexander acquiesced to him. The queen, when she perceived this and was upset, began to draw Aristotle to love her. Many times she crossed paths with him alone, with bare feet and disheveled hair, so that she might entice him. 

 At last, being enticed, he began to solicit her carnally. She says, 

“This I will certainly not do, unless I see a sign of love, lest you be testing me. Therefore, come to my chamber crawling on hand and foot, in order to carry me like a horse. Then I’ll know that you aren’t deluding me.” 

When he had consented to that condition, she secretly told the matter to Alexander, who lying in wait apprehended him carrying the queen. When Alexander wished to kill Aristotle, in order to excuse himself, Aristotle says, 

If thus it happened to me, an old man most wise, that I was deceived by a woman, you can see that I taught you well, that it could happen to you, a young man.” 

Hearing that, the king spared him, and made progress in Aristotle’s teachings. 

And they lived happily ever after. 

Phyllis riding Aristotle

Lucas Cranach — Phyllis und Aristotle (1530) Aristotle and his lover Phyllis. Phyllis is riding on the great philosopher, which is used to symbolize the power of the women. Story often pictured by Renaissance artists.

As Aristotle admitted, “There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.” 

Whether a true story or a mythical one, it was duly, gleefully and plentifully reflected in numerous artworks through the ages. Images of  Aristotle on all fours with Phyllis on his back has become more popular a subject than that of Aristotle in less compromising positions.

The writing tablet with a depression for wax on the underside, but the lid that protected the wax is missing. Legends about wily women making fools of intelligent men from classical times were very popular in the late Middle Ages. The relief on this writing tablet contains two such episodes. In the upper register, the Roman writer Virgil, who thought that he was being drawn up in a basket for a secret rendezvous with a beautiful woman, was left suspended in mid-air for all to laugh at. Below, on the left, Alexander asks his lover Campaspe (also known as Phyllis) to ensnare the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Her success is depicted on the right.

The writing tablet with a depression for wax on the underside, but the lid that protected the wax is missing. Legends about wily women making fools of intelligent men from classical times were very popular in the late Middle Ages. The relief on this writing tablet contains two such episodes. In the upper register, the Roman writer Virgil, who thought that he was being drawn up in a basket for a secret rendezvous with a beautiful woman, was left suspended in mid-air for all to laugh at. Below, on the left, Alexander asks his lover Campaspe (also known as Phyllis) to ensnare the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Her success is depicted on the right.

Hans Baldung - Aristotle and Phyllis.

Hans Baldung – Aristotle and Phyllis.

Lucas van Leyden: Arisztotelész és Phyllis

Lucas van Leyden: Arisztotelész és Phyllis

Maltererteppich, Augustinermuseum Freiburg

Maltererteppich, Augustinermuseum Freiburg

Master Of The Housebook - Aristotle and Phyllis

Master Of The Housebook – Aristotle and Phyllis

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French Casket with Scenes of Romances.The  casket is carved with scenes from romances and allegorical literature representing the courtly ideals of love and heroism. In the center of the lid, knights joust as ladies watch from the balcony; to the left, knights lay siege to the Castle of Love, the subject of an allegorical battle. The remaining scenes on the casket are drawn from well-known stories about Aristotle and Phyllis, Tristan and Iseult, and tales of the gallant, heroic deeds of Gawain, Galahad, and Lancelot. The box may originally have been a courtship gift.

French Casket with Scenes of Romances. The casket is carved with scenes from romances and allegorical literature representing the courtly ideals of love and heroism. In the center of the lid, knights joust as ladies watch from the balcony; to the left, knights lay siege to the Castle of Love, the subject of an allegorical battle. The remaining scenes on the casket are drawn from well-known stories about Aristotle and Phyllis, Tristan and Iseult, and tales of the gallant, heroic deeds of Gawain, Galahad, and Lancelot. The box may originally have been a courtship gift.

French Box. Front with Scenes of Alexander and Pyramus  Walters  (1)The first two scenes, from the left, show Aristotle teaching Alexander and Aristotle ridden by Phyllis, observed by Alexander. The next two scenes show Thisbe and the lion and the death of Pyramus and Thisbe. There is a roughened area for the lock in the upper center. The upper border is recessed for the lid and has been cut down on each side. A piece of raised border is missing at each end. There is a longitudinal break, and pieces of ivory are mssing along the break and at the right end. Although the first two scenes depict two of the same subjects fround on the Paris box (Walters 71.264), the work here is somewhat coarser and must either have come from another shop or been done by a lesser hand. The change of the second two scenes from the Fountain of Youth to Pyramus and Thisbe suggests that there was a variety of subjects available to the carvers.

French Box. Front with Scenes of Alexander and Pyramus Walters (1)The first two scenes, from the left, show Aristotle teaching Alexander and Aristotle ridden by Phyllis, observed by Alexander. The next two scenes show Thisbe and the lion and the death of Pyramus and Thisbe. There is a roughened area for the lock in the upper center. The upper border is recessed for the lid and has been cut down on each side. A piece of raised border is missing at each end. There is a longitudinal break, and pieces of ivory are mssing along the break and at the right end. Although the first two scenes depict two of the same subjects fround on the Paris box (Walters 71.264), the work here is somewhat coarser and must either have come from another shop or been done by a lesser hand. The change of the second two scenes from the Fountain of Youth to Pyramus and Thisbe suggests that there was a variety of subjects available to the carvers.

аристотелъ и филлида

And a contemporary rendition:аристотелъ

Indeed, For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. (–Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics)

There is an interesting article on the subject Phyllis Rides Aristotle by Justin Erik Halldór Smith.

Manufactured Masterpieces

ShenzhenIt’s no secret that the sale fake works of world famous artists is a profitable business. It’s not about forgery, though. It’s about copying and imitation.  In recent decades, the commercial mass-produced art of this kind is, largely, made in China. Chinese jostled for the leading place by putting “production of art” on an assembly line, literally.Shenzhen-05Shenzhen-06

The city of Shenzhen in the southeastern province of Guangdong, near the border with Hong Kong, is a home of a great number of “art factories” where thousands (!) of Chinese artists stamp copies of the world masterpieces — paintings, drawing, graphic art etc. Shenzhen-09

And not only masterpieces either. Anything that would be of interest to consumer is copied and mass-produced — all sorts of popular images from icons and souvenirs to portraits of politicians and kitschy landscapes.Shenzhen-03

Majority of Shenzhen’s “workers of art” are recent graduates of colleges and Academies of Arts. The young artists have very little choice but to earn a living this way — the art field is fiercely competitive and highly unpredictable, their own works rarely sell and cannot support their livelihoods.Shenzhen-04

Guangdong produces nearly half the world’s total number of copies, replicas and artwork “in the style of” famous painters of the past and present.Shenzhen-02

Some of these works are quite good, not merely cheap copies but the art in its own right.Shenzhen-10

The cost of these mass-produced replicas, however, is very low, which is quite frustrating for the European (and American) copyists — they simply cannot compete.

A good copy of, say, Van Gogh produced at such an art co-operative can cost as low as $10 to $20.

Shenzhen-01 Clearly, dealers and distributors command much greater prices when they sell the “products” to Westerners. The prices vary widely, “customized” to lure middle-income buyers, and always depend on the state local art markets.Shenzhen-07 Shenzhen-08

Photos by Reuters. Material for this post, in Russian, can be found here.

Gürbüz Doğan EKŞİOĞLU

gurbuz10Gürbüz Doğan EKŞİOĞLU was born in Mesudiye (Ordu) in 1954. He studied Graphics at the State Collage Of Fine Arts. He is presently an assistant professor at the same school, now called The Marmara University Faculty of Fine Arts.zgde47

Many art critics share the opinion that EKŞİOĞLU’s artworks defy categorization: are these paintings? caricature? graphic design? All of the above? Everyone, however, agrees, that it doesn’t matter, really, which of many styles and art movements his works belong. Just look at some of his works, and you’ll understand why.zgde29The artist’s creative portfolio does not particularly impress by its extraordinary artistic skill or colors. One should take focus away from purely visual effects, and give in to a deep philosophical meaning and subtle humor, laid down in each of the artist’s works.zgde35

One can meditate for hours over each work, trying to figure out what the author wanted to say, while finding more and more meaning and coming to his/her own understanding of the many “stories” found in his paintings.

What the artist meant depicting a couple in love, wrapped in strands of the two balls of yarn? Is it simply about love between a man and a woman?  Is it about our lives being thus intertwined? Or it’s about us, as we seek stronger ties with one another?

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And what does the night sky where the stars and the moon swapped? Another attempt to break stereotypes or something else?gurbuz3

Gürbüz Doğan EkşioğluThe idea of this work, obviously, is devotion and self-sacrifice of one for the sake of another: If the dove, sitting on top of the cage, flies away, its caged comrade’would fall into the water and drown.

Gürbüz Doğan Ekşioğlu painting

Some viewers admit that initially they only glanced briefly at the paintings of the artist, not finding anything special in them. And only afterwards came across the work that grabbed their attention. And then another one, and another, and more… So do not rush immediately to conclusion. Take another look, and look closely. If not in this selection, you might find works that’ll impress you on the artist’s site.

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Enchanté World of Jean-Baptiste Monge

Jean-Baptiste MongeJean-Baptiste Monge is an author illustrator since 1994 and Concept, character designer and visual Development Artist since 2009.

My favorite subjects are Fantasy and Faery and all that touch the legends, tales and marvelous universes. I work for publishing and the animation industry.(Jean-Batiste Monge.)

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[Jean-Baptiste Monge’s] colour usage is exceptional; just look at that pot in the above image, not to mention the reds in the skin and the electric blue highlighting. You can see the video of how he did that piece over here.
His basic structure is remarkably simple, but so effective. They’re almost cartoon shapes, but he makes them work with his rendering. And he can do the realistic stuff incredibly well. His animals are lifelike and fit with the faeries he draws next to them so seamlessly that even the great Rien Poortvliet would admire how he handles them. (– From the Realms of Faerie blog post by illustrator Jay Penn.)

Read an interview with Monge here.
Jean-Baptiste Monge444And on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4pAINXLBRE

Nude Arse Seriously Attuned To Art

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Copyright James Turrell. Image courtesy: National Gallery of Australia.

Two years ago, almost to the day, the Leopold Museum in Vienna opened its doors to a group of nude men for a preview of a new exhibition. Naked men, very appropriately, were the first members of the public to see the gallery’s Nackte Männer or Naked Men art show.

I posted some material about the Viennese exhibit and called my post Bare Your ASS To See Nuda ARS! Cute, wasn’t it?

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The nude tour waits together in the museum’s lobby. (Photograph: Christo Crocker. Image courtesy: National Gallery of Australia)

Nude. Art. Tours. At first, the trend of ogling masterpieces in the buff seems like a cleverly planned gimmick — a promotional ploy aimed at upping the ante of arts coverage across the internet. As if it needs explanation, the practice involves hordes of nude patrons gazing upon a museum’s offerings sans clothing. The tours usually take place after hours, when the “skyclad” spectators — that’s the official modifier for nude art tour enthusiasts — can soak up masterpieces without the prying eyes of more puritanical admirers. You know, the ones who insist upon wearing clothing.

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Stuart Ringholt. Preceded by a tour of the show by artist Stuart Ringholt, 6-8pm. James TURRELL Virtuality squared 2014. Ganzfeld: built space, LED lights. Collection James Turrell. Photograph: Christo Crocker Copyright Stuart Ringholt. Copyright James Turrell. Image courtesy: National Gallery of Australia.

“Naked, our whole body experiences color,” says artist Stuart Ringholt. “We no longer just look at it, but now have the capacity to feel it also. We can let it wash over us, feel its vibration.”

Stuart Ringholt  is currently hosting nude art tours at Australia’s National Gallery of Art in Canberra, the most recent museum to hop aboard the nude art tour train. In conjunction with its exhibition, “James Turrell: A Retrospective,” the NGA recruited Melbourne-based Ringholt to host three 50-person nude tours of the show. Apparently to no one’s surprise all of the naked tours, hosted in April, sold out within one day of releasing tickets.

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Ringholt is no stranger to the naked art viewing practice. He’s led several nude art tours around Australia. Turrell is an American artist, known for works that manipulate light and space as his preferred media, and creates work that’s, according to Ringholt, better viewed without clothing.

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According to Ringholt, “Nudity frees the spirit. It promotes positive body image and is an opportunity to accept one’s body, not despise it. It is educational. Education through feeling. We consider the notion we are less sexualized with our clothes off than on. Clothing engages the imagination and sparks the lust drive. Without the material registers of clothing the nude body desexualizes. Being nude is fun and promotes happiness. Whenever we are nude, whether it is taking a bath, skinny dipping in the ocean or making love we are generally at our happiest.

It is against the law in Australia to be naked in public and there are few opportunities to partake in cultural experiences naked. These events say to marginalized naturist groups, we accept you and we want you at our gallery. A major motivation for doing the first nude tours of an art gallery was to allow this artist to celebrate the success of another. Artists are very competitive and researching other artists with the goal of talking on them is welcome respite.

Good Books — Bad Reviews

Paul Thek (1933–1988), The Personal Effects of the Pied Piper

Paul Thek (1933–1988), The Personal Effects of the Pied Piper

Writers Hate Writers is more amusing a subject than this one, still it’s a enlightening to remember that books that nowadays are considered classics haven’t been recognized as literary gems immediately upon publishing.
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“A master of the concentrated short story, Hemingway is less sure in his grasp of the form of the elaborated novel. The shape of For Whom the Bell Tolls is sometimes slack and sometimes bulging. It is certainly quite a little too long.” The New Republic
books

“But the most conspicuous lack, in comparison with the classics of the fearsome-future genre, is the inability to imagine a language to match the changed face of common life. No newspeak. And nothing like the linguistic tour de force of A Clockwork Orange – the brutal melting-down of current English and Slavic words that in itself tells the story of the dread new breed.

The writing of The Handmaid’s Tale is undistinguished in a double sense, ordinary if not glaringly so, but also indistinguishable from what one supposes would be Margaret Atwood’s normal way of expressing herself in the circumstances. This is a serious defect, unpardonable maybe for the genre: a future that has no language invented for it lacks a personality. That must be why, collectively, it is powerless to scare.” The New York Times
book9

“The book as a whole is disappointing, and not merely because it is a reworking of a theme that one begins to suspect must obsess the author. Holden Caulfield, the main character who tells his own story, is an extraordinary portrait, but there is too much of him. …

In the course of 277 pages, the reader wearies of [his] explicitness, repetition and adolescence, exactly as one would weary of Holden himself. And this reader at least suffered from an irritated feeling that Holden was not quite so sensitive and perceptive as he, and his creator, thought he was.” The New Republic
book8

“The short, flat sentences of which the novel is composed convey shock and despair better than an array of facts or effusive mourning. Still, deliberate simplicity is as hazardous as the grand style, and Vonnegut occasionally skids into fatuousness…” The New Yorker
book7

“I happen to feel that the book would have been infinitely better had it been edited down to, say, 500 pages — but there speaks the harassed daily reviewer an [sic] well as the would-be judicious critic. Very nearly every reader will agree, no doubt, that a more disciplined and less prodigal piece of work would have more nearly done justice to the subject-matter.” The New York Times
book6

“It is not so much a novel as a long affectionate lark inspired by the so-called “beat” generation, and an example of the degree to which some of the most original work being done in this country has come to depend upon the bizarre and the offbeat for its creative stimulus.” The New York Times
book5

“Mr. Huxley has the jitters. Looking back over his career one can see that he has always had them, in varying degrees… [he] rushes headlong into the great pamphleteering movement. [Brave New World] is a lugubrious and heavy-handed piece of propaganda.” NYHTBR
book4

“Miss Lee’s problem has been to tell the story she wants to tell and yet to stay within the consciousness of a child, and she hasn’t consistently solved it.” The Saturday Review
book3

“Scott Fitzgerald’s new novel, The Great Gatsby is in form no more than a glorified anecdote, and not too probable at that…

This story is obviously unimportant and, though, as I shall show, it has its place in the Fitzgerald canon, it is certainly not to be put on the same shelf with, say, This Side of Paradise. What ails it, fundamentally, is the plain fact that it is simply a story — that Fitzgerald seems to be far more interested in maintaining its suspense than in getting under the skins of its people.” The Chicago Tribune

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Lolita then, is undeniably news in the world of books. Unfortunately, it is bad news. There are two equally serious reasons why it isn’t worth any adult reader’s attention. The first is that it is dull, dull, dull in a pretentious, florid and archly fatuous fashion. The second is that it is repulsive…

Past the artistic danger line of madness is another even more fatal. It is where the particular mania is a perversion like Humbert’s. To describe such a perversion with the pervert’s enthusiasm without being disgusting is impossible. If Mr. Nabokov tried to do so he failed.” The New York Times

One doesn’t have to agree or disagree with the expressed opinions of venerable literary critics — or anyone’s opinion for that matter… That is to say, I hold my own about all of the books above and, I confess, I’m not 100% disdainful of some of the criticism… of some of the critics… of some of the books above.

Matter of note: several of the book weren’t merely negatively received by literary critics — for a period of time shortly after their publication the following books were altogether or nearly banned : Lolita (in France, Argentina and New Zealand),  The Catcher in the Rye (in Australia, USA), Brave New World (in some states of the USA, in Ireland and a number of other European countries),  Slaughterhouse-Five (many people in the US were in favor of banning the book, accusing its author in vulgarity, violence, profanity, immorality and lack of patriotism. In some European countries, the book was banned for its anti-militaristic sentiment. More on this in Kurt Vonnegut, Extraordinarily Insulted.)

Bad books — good reviews… well, that should be a different story altogether.