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These Massive, Uncanny Artworks Will Give You the Chills

Tara Donovan, “Untitled (Mylar)” (2011), Mylar and hot glue, (image courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery, photograph by Christopher Burke Studios)

DENVER — Tara Donovan’s artworks are unexpected: they borrow manufactured goods, but they are never readymades; they are theatrical and serial, but rarely considered minimalist; and they are massive in scale, but never outsourced. Fieldwork at the MCA Denver revisits Donovan’s contributions from the last 20 years, bringing her wall-based and free-standing sculptures together under one roof for the first time. Her art is not a metaphor, it is not about identity, and it is not historical. So what is it?

Tara Donovan, “Untitled” (2014), Styrene index cards, metal, wood, paint, and glue, (image courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery, photographed by Christopher Burke Studios)

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SELLING CARS IN BLACK AND WHITE

For many years car manufacturers hired illustrators to paint photo-realistic pictures of cars in brilliant, eye-catching colors.

by the famous team of Van Kaufman and Art Fitzpatrick

These pictures were designed to radiate power.  Their perspective was deliberately distorted and the cars were stretched to make the cars appear more muscular.  The colors were enhanced to shine like the sun.  The chrome was intensified.  These ads, which typically employed little text or white space, were masterpieces of propagandistic art.

But when cars were first invented, illustrators didn’t have such tools.  They had no access to sharp, accurate color printing, photo projection or some of the other devices crucial to later car illustrations.  They painted small, black and white pictures for text-heavy ads reproduced on inferior, uncoated paper.  These limits called for a different aesthetic but the illustrators made it work.  Here is an ad campaign for Packard from the early 20s:

Rather than show a photographic full view of the car, these artists selected an important detail– a front grill or a tire or a silhouette– to imply power and class.  Without a full color palette they used the advantage of black and white art: strong compositions.  Here are other illustrations from the same series.

There was one painting for each new ad.  They were done by different talented illustrators (such as the great Andrew Loomis) but in a similar style. 

What interests me is how, even without the tools that later illustrators employed to convey horsepower, these illustrations still conveyed their own strength.  There is a strength that radiates from selectivity, from strong compositions, from opinionated designs.

  

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Vaka Valo’s Dream Diary 3

[Show your support for 50 Watts here.]

Vaka Valo, from the Dream Diary series, 2018

Vaka Valo has just unleashed new works in his “Dream Diary” series, and for the first time he is making prints available. Sign up for notice of the very limited-edition prints here.

Previously: Vaka Valo on 50watts.

A note about the series: “All of my works involve chance, contextual change, and strict limitations. For this project, the pieces begin as tiny collages from old instructional manuals I have meticulously mined. After sorting through thousands of images, I scan the hundreds of individual components, then create the collages digitally, revamping the colors completely, then have the compositions digitally printed and stretched onto canvas VERY large (adding a few more touch-ups by hand), as the dot gain patterns in the colors are clearly discernible upon viewing. There is only a single tangible canvas for each composition.”
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Carbon County: 1940

August 1940. Carbon County, Pennsylvania. “Street in Upper Mauch Chunk, a small historic coal mining town in the Lehigh Valley.” Medium format negative by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

By: Shorpy | Historical Photos – Framed Prints
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries
Source: http://j.mp/2TtJ320

The Ghost of a Flea in London, England

Detail of painting.

In the Tate Britain gallery hangs a small painting by the 18th-century artist William Blake, who claimed he was inspired to create this phantasmagoric gothic masterpiece after encountering a terrifying entity in a vision, which introduced itself as “The Ghost of a Flea.”

Blake claimed he was “visited” by this entity, which posed for him as he sketched it. He was able to “communicate” with the monstrous being, who revealed that all fleas were inhabited by the souls of men who were “by nature bloodthirsty to excess.”

It is a subject of scholarly debate whether Blake’s gothic visions were simply creative exercises of imagination whereby he was able to summon forth a sort of Jungian archetype to be captured artistically, or whether these were in fact hallucinations borne of a mental illness. Others have claimed less convincingly that the artist used psychedelic drugs or that the hallucinations were, in fact, real religious visions. Blake may have also been inspired after seeing images of fleas from the book Microphagia by the early English scientist Robert Hooke, who produced illustrations based on his pioneering documentation of organisms as seen through microscopes. 

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When Mickey Mouse was sent to a Nazi concentration camp

In 1942, Horst Rosenthal was sent to the Vichy concentration camp Gurs, where he drew a comic-book that survived him: Mickey au Camp de Gurs, it tells the story of Mickey Mouse being snatched from the street and sent to Gurs, and features a tour of Gurs that uses a brave face of humor to cope with enormous suffering.

Two more of Rosenthal’s comics from Gurs survive; Rosenthal did not. He was sent to Auschwitz and killed on arrival.

Alister Wedderburn, a researcher at the Australian National University’s department of International Relations, has documented Rosenthal’s story in a new paper in Millennium: Journal of International Studies entitled (more…)

This “Death Comet” Looks Like a Skull

Actually that’s Asteroid 2015 TB145 as spotted by NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, when it zipped past Earth – missing it by just 300,000 miles – on Halloween three years ago.

It’s making the rounds again on the Internet, but its likely won’t come that close to Earth when it comes around again this year.

By: Neatorama
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries
Source: http://j.mp/2y7lMsy

This is the golden age of Chinese science fiction

We’ve been covering the rise and rise of Chinese science fiction here since the early part of the decade, as Chinese authors have been successfully exported to the English-speaking world (a rare feat, as there are enough books written in English to satisfy demand, leading to a real poverty of literature translated into English), which broke through in 2016, when authors like Hao Jingfang took home Hugo awards, along with the incredible Cixin Liu.
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By: Boing Boing
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries
Source: http://j.mp/2Qt3M4z

Commercial Streetscape in Watercolor

What attracts me to this scene in Kingston, New York is the cluster of poles and wires next to the sign, and the delicate details of the far distance.

Transparent watercolor is fast and direct. I also like watercolor because it makes gradations easier, and the accidental variations and textures seem to work in my favor for this scene.

I limit the colors to a blue / brown gamut, disregarding greens and reds. I want to keep the lights light and the darks dark like a high contrast photo.


(Link to video on Facebook) This video takes you through the process. Note that I first wet the surface with clear water before applying the ghost wash. There are a few white gouache touches at the end.

On Facebook, Linda Navroth asks: “It’s cool to watch you use gouache like oils – building up layers. How do you choose your scene? Sometimes at first they look quite unremarkable, but by the time you’re done, it’s always something special. Do you sense that quality when you start or is it imbued with some sort of “Gurney Magic” during the process?”
The first requirement was shade, because it was so hot. Second was the contre-jour angle toward the light. Beyond that I felt the view had minimal prospects. And I had very low expectations about my painting from the beginning to the end of the process. 

There’s no Gurney Magic, but there is a procedure that I trust. To paraphrase photographer “William Eggleston when asked why he photographs mundane things, I would say ‘I paint things to see what they look like painted.’ Route 9W seems to be my Briar Patch, my Kuerner’s Farm. That unloved stretch of highway always attracts me. I know that artistic gems are hidden there that I have a chance of finding if I just set up and start painting, with the meter of my mind tuned midway between doubt and confidence.

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