London’s Whitechapel Gallery has recently opened a 2ndMark Rothko exhibition. The last time the artist showed here was way back in 1961, when visitors were stunned by this new artist with the ability to provoke such intense emotional feeling via his huge abstract paintings. Nowadays, Rothko’s paintings are no less deep in their effect. The Tate Britain displays its permanent collection of his works, part of the Seagram Murals series. These paintings are so large that they still look huge on the walls of this industrial- scale building. The grey walls and low lighting complete the impact of the works. For the original Whitechapel Gallery exhibition, Rothko gave specific instructions as to how work was to be hung and how the room was to be lit, demonstrating that he was very aware of the physical effects of his work on the viewer.
In the late 1950s, Rothko was commissioned to create a series of paintings for the new Four Seasons restaurant in New York. These paintings were to become the aforementioned Seagram Murals. While on trip to Florence he gained inspiration for the series from the San Lorenzo library’s Michelangelo Room, and said that the “room had exactly the feeling that I wanted [...] it gives the visitor the feeling of being caught in a room with the doors and windows walled-in shut.” Again, it was clear that he intended his paintings to have a very physical effect on viewers, and also it was clear that he wasn’t really keen on making “nice” paintings as part of a restaurant backdrop. Indeed, in the end Rothko pronounced the Four Seasons to be pretentions and inappropriate to display his work, and as such he never completed the project. The paintings he’d created towards it were never hung in the restaurant.
A gallery worker walks past Seagram murals by the late artist Mark Rothko.
Another important location in the display of Rothko’s work is the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas. Directly inspired by the San Lorenzo Michelangelo Room, the chapel is a small and windowless building, which Rothko said he intended to be his single most important artistic statement. His paintings had become bigger and more looming over the course of his career, and were increasingly intended to provoke the feeling of a windowless space, so in a sense to bring this into reality was a logical progression of his artistic output.
Interior of the Rothko Chapel
The Whitechapel’s exhibition celebrate the 50 year anniversary of their first show, and includes photographs, testimonies, letters, and reviews from the original event.The exhibition runs until 26th February 2012, and admission is free.
Lee Hadwin is a UK artist who has the unique talent of being able to draw in his sleep – in fact he doesn’t work at all when awake and can’t reproduce his nocturnal artist works during waking hours. He has no memory of making art during the night.
In this video he talks us through his history – as a child he began scribbling and drawing on things in his sleep, and in his teens he developed a realistic style as he became more skilled in figurative depiction.
5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin’,also known as the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center is a huge outdoor gallery and street art space in New York, where graffiti artists from around the world adorn the walls of a 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) factory building.
Here reporter Ella of Rocketboom interviews Meres, the founder of 5pointz. He describes the space as a place where an artist can come and be guaranteed a wall, regardless of their skill level. We see artists at work, as well as some great views of what is an outdoor art gallery on a truly epic scale.
Source : Wikipedia -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:5_Pointz_Building_Rear_View.jpg
Berlin’s art culture is one of the most progressive and experimental in the world, and the city is home to a bold, intelligent and engaging street art scene. East-Berlin in particular, with its ramshackle post-communist buildings and urban decay cityscape makes a fascinating canvas for muralists and street artists.
In this fast-paced video, Luci of YouTube channel In a Berlin Minute shares her latest Berlin street art finds. Her top art picks include including painting, collage, sculpture and installation pieces.
Alexa Meade’s installations are a kind of reverse trompe l’loeil – a spellbinding exercise in illusion, her work involves painting directly onto the model, and then photographing them to appear as paintings on canvas. Her works represents something really new and ground breaking in the world of fine art portraiture and painting.
Meade describes her process as “painting a portrait of somebody on top of himself.” Her installations are the art in themselves, with the photographs representing both a record of the performance and a portrait shoot. Her work has gained a significant online following, as well as being displayed in major London and New York galleries.
Tate Britain currently has a nine-room display of the greats of British romantic art, running until 3rd June 2012. The romantic artists worked in the last half of the 19th century, and were part of a broader movement which included poets, novelists, musicians and philosophers. In visual art, and specifically in painting, the romantics worked with expressiveness of mood and colour, and emphasised brushstrokes and impasto, or texture of paint on canvas. Tate Britain’s exhibition includes works by Henry Fuseli, JMW Turner, John Constable, Samuel Palmer, and William Blake.
The National Gallery- Devotion by Design- Italian Altarpieces before 1500
There are just a couple of weeks left to take in “Devotion by Design” at the National Gallery. These ancient altarpieces are fascinating historical artworks providing a window of insight into the European way of life many centuries ago. The altarpiece paintings were designed to hang high up in churches and cathedrals, their reflective gold leaf surfaces catching and reflecting the light to provoke a sense of awe and wonderment. This free exhibition includes detailed guides explaining the history and meanings of the works, and features the work of less well-known artists as well as the most famous altarpiece painter, Piero della Francesca.
National Portrait Gallery- Glamour of the Gods – Hollywood Portraits.
The National Portrait Gallery presents a series of truly iconic images, showcasing Hollywood portraiture from the film industry’s golden age – the period from 1920 to 1960. Glamour of the Gods features over 70 original vintage prints and includes photo portraits of silver-screen icons including Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Audrey Hepburn, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe.
The exhibition also features fascinating behind-the-scenes shots from film studios and press rooms of the era. The exhibition guide explains the techniques used at the time, as well as discussing the careers of the era’s prominent portrait photographers, such as John Engstead and Robert Coburn.
There are still a few weeks left to catch this exhibition – it runs until 23rd October and advance booking is recommended.
Royal Academy of Arts – Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement
Running until 11 December, Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement details the artist’s focus on ballet imagery through his career, and demonstrates how he was influenced by the new medium of photography, and the development of early film.
Degas is considered to be one of the founders of impressionism, although he rejected the term and was more influenced by the styles of the old masters. He did, however, bring these influences into a very contemporary context, and was ahead of his time in terms of the photographic, documentary feel of his paintings, with their unusual angles and framing.
The exhibition includes painting and sculpture, as well as photographs of ballerinas of the era. Again, advance booking is recommended, especially at weekends.
Lisa Vallo’s unique, innovative and contemporary art style has been embraced by a diverse and impressive range of worldwide clients, including GHD and Marks and Spencer. Despite her success, she’s remained down to earth, and describes herself as “just a very ordinary girl from Shipley”. Here Lisa shares the secrets of her inspiration and creative process.
Wicked - Lisa Vallo
Penny – Did you always know that you would be an artist?
Lisa- I always hoped I would be, although I knew it was the only thing I wanted to do.
Where did your involvement in art stem from?
I won an art competition when I was only 4 or 5 years old – it was to design a logo for a well-known high street bank – I drew a black horse!
Did you go to art college?.
I didn’t go to art college – I did come top in the school with my art o level though. I applied to go to art college and was accepted but family problems prevented me from going. I applied to go to art college a further 2 times (when I was 26 and then 32 – I wasn’t really in a position to attend either time but I just needed to know if I still had “it” – I was accepted both times although I hadn’t actually taken any work along with me, as I hadn’t really done any drawing or painting for years at this point. Anyway, both times they accepted me on still life drawings I produced at the actual interview.
How did you come to make art for GHD?
I was approached by the managing director of GHD – he had seen my work displayed in a gallery in Leeds and asked me to design and create unique and specific pieces for their offices around the world.
Could you please describe the practical process you go through when making a painting?
I’m not sure I always have one – I start by thinking of colours and that’s it really.
How do you generate ideas?
I think I take notice of fashion within the home and I love the finishing touches that allow us to make our own stamp.
Centre of Attention - Lisa Vallo
Do you ever get artistic blocks or creative droughts?
Yes, I took a two-year break – I was too occupied with various other elements of my life, including the death of my best friend. My state of mind was not in a place where I believe I could continue to create.
Imagination - Lisa Vallo
How do you stay inspired and engaged with your practice?
I don’t really know how best to answer that question, other than this; I truly feel that this is my vocation and nothing else compares or makes me happy and content – just creating a painting inspires me in itself.
Your work is very painterly, engaging with the physical qualities of paint. Can you say how this aspect of your style developed?
Creating the pieces for GHD probably gave me a greater sense for texture and reflection on canvas – I think this was really the beginning of “the shape of things to come” with my work. I had now created my unique style. I realised that I was actually OK when using multi media – my work was different to anyone else’s, and being self-taught gave me a great sense of achievement – especially being commissioned by the mighty GHD.
What are your favourite paints to use?
I have loads, but I do love thick metallic paints.
I’ve got some good news – abstract art is actually the easiest of all styles to understand.
I’ve often heard the term “abstract” used simply to describe artwork that is challenging or off-the-wall. Even people who really enjoy abstract art sometimes confess to feeling a bit baffled about meaning and intention.
First of all we need to get clear about what abstraction actually is. An abstract painting or sculpture is a piece that uses shapes or colours that don’t look like “things”. That is, it’s non-representational. Some examples are shown below.
Wave - Barbara Hepworth - 1944
Modern Times by Suki Nabarro
Composition A: Composition with Black, Red, Gray, Yellow, and Blue by Piet Mondrian - 1920
What abstract art is not is any kind of piece which clearly portrays an object or thing. So, Tracey Emin’s unmade bed, or Damein Hirst’s shark, for example, although challenging, are not abstract.
So why is abstract art the easiest to understand? Well put simply, it is what it is. What you see before you is what you get. There are no hidden messages or secret codes. While the artist may have had the ocean, a person, or a feeling in mind while creating the piece, essentially it’s a bundle of form and colour which leaves it up to you, the viewer, to interpret as you feel or wish.
The nice thing about this is that we can enjoy abstract art for what it is, and enjoy pieces that we like and make us feel good. The feelings associated with colour, shape, and kinesis; or sense of movement; in abstract art are what give it its emotional impact. To explain this, I’ll give you my interpretation of Caroline Ashwood’s Mosaic.
Mosiac by Caroline Ashwood
First of all, Caroline achieves a good balance between colours that harmonise and those that clash (like orange and pink). This means that I gain a sense of energy and vibrancy from the painting, and pinks and oranges create a juicy freshness. The blues have a sea-like quality, reminding me of beaches, waves, and freedom. In terms of shape, again I get a nice sense of order and randomness in balance. The squares in relief give the work a sense on structure while not being too formally organised.
So it’s as simple as that – abstraction really isn’t a secret language and it doesn’t need to be difficult. It’s simply about an exploration of colour and form, which we can interpret and enjoy as we choose.
This is the first in a mini-series about abstract art styles. Check back for more updates on abstract art’s history, along with information semi-abstraction and different movements.