L’art de la bohème in Turn-of-the-Century Montmartre

p1260996_paris_xviii_rue_du_mont-cenis_bw_rwk

Now what many Parisians consider an arrondissement almost wholly belonging to tourists, Montmartre was once a bucolic village on a hill where artists flocked to escape from the city. It was a meeting place for the avant-garde, the Paris-rejects, the burgeoning artistic movements not yet accepted by the majority. Picasso got his start in Montmartre before gaining popularity, Van Gogh created an entire series of works on the area, and famed composer Erik Satie created his hauntingly beautiful Gymnopédies upon moving to the town. Something about this cross between city and country inspired the beautiful and, often, the absurd.
Continue reading

The Unsung Concept Artist Behind Disney’s Mid-Century Blockbusters

JohnnyAppleseed
Concept art for Johnny Appleseed, Mary Blair, c. 1948. Source: The Magic of Mary Blair

Disney’s teams of animators and designers are known around the world for their unparalleled creative, innovative artistic vision and, historically, most of these great talents were men. But as it turns out, one of the most influential concept artists in the Disney arsenal was a woman named Mary Blair. Disney lovers everywhere have her to thank for the amazing imagery of well-loved mid-century favorites and one of Disney World’s most iconic rides. Continue reading

On the Radar: Kurokawa’s Takara Beautilion Pavilion at Japan’s EXPO ’70

takara-beautilion-pavilion

Famous architect Kisho Kurokawa designed this groovy building for a world’s fair in Osaka called EXPO ’70–the first to be held in Japan. Kurokawa took a great interest in philosophy and idealized, himself, that every culture has two traditions: the visible and the invisible. He focused the majority of his work on Japan’s “invisible” traditions, including the impermanence of structures in the country due to destruction by weather and war. Designing a building for a world’s fair is the height of impermanence since most of those built for these events did not last. The modular design of this particular work speaks to the idea of impermanence since modular structures are meant to recall ideas of an endlessly possible cycle of deconstruction and rebuilding.

 

Sources: Image from Anton Rauben Weiss, Wikipedia — Kisho Kurokawa

On the Radar: Gerhard Richter’s Emotional Photo-Painting of His Aunt

richter_aunt_marianne
Tante Marianne, 1965, Copyright Gerhard Richter.

For those familiar with Gerhard Richter, he is often associated with his abstract, colorful “squeegee” works. A large portion of his artistic production, however, consists of photo paintings that include his trademark “blur.” In this particular painting–one of his early works–Richter copied a photo of his Aunt Marianne holding Richter as an infant. His Aunt developed Schizophrenia, spent 21 years in a sanatorium, and was euthanized in 1945 as part of Nazi Germany’s “Aktion T4” program, meant to “cleanse” society of mentally “unfit” individuals. Of the painting, Richter said:

“Idiots can do what I do. When I first started to do this [projecting photos on the canvas and painting them after having them traced in details with a piece of charcoal] in the 60’s, people laughed. I clearly showed that I painted from photographs. It seemed so juvenile. The provocation was purely formal – that I was making paintings like photographs. Nobody asked about what was in the pictures. Nobody asked who my Aunt Marianne was. That didn’t seem to be the point.”

-From Wikipedia

This idea that anyone could do what he did taken in the context of this work reminds one of the idea that “ordinary men” did this to his aunt; average people could have done this, and they did.

Sources: Wikipedia (DE) — Marianne Schönfelder, B.Z. Berlin