Happy Mother’s Day everyone! This Sunday’s image is perhaps the most famous painting of an artist’s mother known colloquially as “Whistler’s Mother”. The true name of the work is “Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist’s Mother” by American painter James McNeill Whistler. The painting is on display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
Street Art 101: Banksy
I have to admit, I don’t know much about street art except to utter “cool” as I walk by a work that I like. I’ve recently discovered however, that street art, (aka graffiti, sticker art, guerilla art, street installation, etc), is a sophisticated sub-culture that warrants taking a closer look.
The term “Street Art” refers to any art developed in public spaces and usually refers to unsanctioned art. A large amount of street art is activist and subversive but one common thread is that it allows artists, to reach a much broader audience than traditional art venues usually permit.
Many street artists have become internationally known, and their art is highly sought after by collectors who are willing to pay large sums of money to acquire their works. One of the most famous of these is the artist known as “Banksy”. Banksy, like many street artists, has managed to keep his identity a mystery. Some information about the artist however, is widely accepted: he was born in 1974 in Bristol, UK, and got involved in street art in the early 90s, and by 2003, had gained widespread notoriety. Over the years, many people have come forward claiming to know Banksy’s identity, but none have ever been verified.
His paintings, stencils, sculptures, and other art pieces have appeared in cities around the world and are often humorous and satirical, tackling political, cultural, and ethical issues of the day. Banksy also likes to make social commentaries in the form of practical jokes. He once replaced hundreds of Paris Hilton CDs with his own and has sneaked his own artwork into major museums.
Banksy’s work is heralded by some and scorned by others. Some see the work of a great artist who has found a way to present his art (and opinions) to the largest number of people possible by using the street as his canvas. Others see street artists as criminals, vandals, nuisances that the taxpayer has to clean up after. I am personally moved and impressed by Banksy’s work, but that’s just me. Judge for yourself by visiting Banksy.co.uk, or by reading the fantastic eight part Banksy series on Weburbanist.com.
Sources: Banksy, Weburbanist.com, Wikipedia, Wikepedia – Street Art
Cinco de Mayo – A.R. Martinez
Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. It actually commemorates the victory at the battle of Puebla of an outnumbered Mexican militia over French forces on May 5, 1862. The day is really not all that popular in México (other than in the state of Puebla), but has been celebrated for over 100 years in the U.S. and has become a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture.
Since we are celebrating all things Mexican today, let’s take a look at the painter Alfredo Ramos Martinez. Born on November 12, 1871 in Monterrey, Mexico, Martinez is considered the founding father of modern Mexican art. He studied for eight years at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City but was dissatisfied with the school’s monotonous teaching method, preferring to paint scenes from ordinary life. In 1897, Martinez traveled to Paris and continued his studies embracing the Post-Impressionist style. He returned to Mexico in 1910 and three years later was appointed Director of the National Academy. Martinez began Open-Air Schools that focused on the Impressionist concept of painting the outdoors. His program influenced both the theoretical and practical approaches to painting in Mexico, expanding the reach of arts education to a more diverse range of people.
Martinez and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1930, seeking medical attention for his daughter who was born with a bone disease. The works he produced in California were modern but focused on themes of the Mexican renaissance. Martinez’s work was well received and he was commissioned to paint public murals in California and Mexico, and held numerous exhibitions.
From 1942 to 1945 Martinez lived again in Mexico, where he painted a series of frescos. In 1945 he returned to Los Angeles to paint a mural at Scripps College. Martinez sketched the entire mural and painted a section of it but then became ill. He died of a heart attack on November 8, 1946, leaving the mural unfinished. Today, Martinez’s paintings are in high demand and at a 2007 Christie’s auction, his “Flowers of Mexico” sold for just over 4 million dollars.
To find out more about Alfredo Ramos Martinez, visit the Alfredo Ramos Martinez Research Project.
Your Sunday image: Spring by Czech Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha. Enjoy!
May Day: Diego Rivera
Happy May 1st everyone! Around the world, countries are celebrating what is often referred to as May Day. The celebration is rooted in the Pagan observance of the “cross-quarter day”, when the Northern Hemisphere falls halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. Over time, the Pagan holiday lost much of its original meaning, though many nations continue to celebrate May Day with parades, festivals, rallies, and basket giving.
May 1st is also a day that many countries celebrate International Workers’ Day, or Labour Day, in observance of the social and economic achievements of the labour movement. The colourful image below is a 1956 painting by Mexican artist Diego Rivera. May Day Procession in Moscow is an optimistic painting depicting a rally during the Cold War .
Considered a social realist, Rivera was interested in the social problems and hardships of everyday life. For this reason, Rivera felt a connection to the Communist movement in Russia and the state of the working class. His interest in communism also grew during a visit to Europe after meeting his first wife, Russian Angelina Beloff.
In 1922, Rivera joined the Mexican Communist Party and was active in the founding of the Revolutionary Union of Technical Workers, Painters, and Sculptors. Russian Leon Trotsky, after his expulsion from the Russian Communist Party, lived at the home of Rivera, and later at the home of Rivera’s wife, artist Frida Kahlo.
The Communist Movement continued to be a major source of artistic motivation and inspiration for Rivera. In 1933, he was commissioned to paint a mural for the RCA building of Rockefeller Center. The mural was never completed, however, because it included a portrait of Lenin which he refused to remove.
For more information about Rivera, visit DiegoRivera.com.
Sources: DiegoRivera.org, Wikipedia, DiegoRivera.com
Under The Weather
I’m a little under the weather today. In the meantime, please enjoy the wonderful work of Moonywolf on deviantART.
The Art of Recycling – Part II
Most retail stores, I’ve found, rely heavily on the use of plastic bags. While supermarkets seem to be heading in the direction of cloth bags and bins, the rest of the retail world seems to be lagging behind. As a result, it’s easy for me to end up with bags full of other plastic bags taking up awkward and valuable space in my kitchen cabinet.
So, in my continuing quest to find ways to be creative with things that would otherwise be trash, I scanned the internet to see what I might do with these bags. I found my answer on the Etsy website and the result is the photo you see below – a messenger bag made completely from old plastic bags that have been fused together to form a very strong and waterproof fabric.
The process of fusing the bags together was fairly simple and the resulting bag looks like old worn leather. I don’t know it this can be considered art but it’s definitely crafty and I had a lot of fun making it. To try this project yourself, see the tutorial at ETSY-LABS.
Sakura – Art in Nature
Many believe (myself included), that nature is the ultimate form of art. It is in nature that we find an infinite array of colours, shapes, patterns, and motion, giving any artist an endless choice of subject matter.
I have been gratefully reminded of this as the Japanese sakura (cherry blossom) trees have come into bloom. Cherry blossom festivals are popular all over Japan and people gather in parks and other tree lined areas to participate in the custom of Hanami (flower viewing).
Witnessing the blossoming of the sakura over the last few weeks has been like walking through a work in progress, a living painting that evolves from a very basic outline sketch into a most colourful and rich in detail work of art.
The “Art” of Recycling
I’ve been a big city dweller for most of my life and one thing that continues to astound me is the amount of useless paper I encounter on a daily basis. Junk mail, free newspapers, magazines, and catalogues, cardboard packaging – the list goes on. I wanted to do something artistic with all this paper but didn’t know what. A quick Google search led me to the idea of making a basket/bowl out of old magazines. A simple tutorial from Cutoutandkeep.net showed me how and the photo you see here is the result of my first try.
Some may think that, yeah, that’s kinda cool, but I have better things to spend my time on – think again – I produced this bowl while watching TV, and listening to my Japanese language course – things that I would normally be sitting still for that didn’t require a whole lot of concentration. I actually found the repetitive nature of the process mind calming, allowing me to focus even more on the Japanese course.