Tag: Art

Drawing Connections in Mostar

Drawing Connections in Mostar Candace Rose Rardon

Candace Rose Rardon began sketching in Bosnia to better remember the place. But something else happened along the way.

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Ai Weiwei’s Beijing

The Chinese artist has broken his post-detention silence in a piece for Newsweek. He writes of Beijing:

I feel sorry to say I have no favorite place in Beijing. I have no intention of going anywhere in the city. The places are so simple. You don’t want to look at a person walking past because you know exactly what’s on his mind. No curiosity. And no one will even argue with you.

None of my art represents Beijing. The Bird’s Nest—I never think about it. After the Olympics, the common folks don’t talk about it because the Olympics did not bring joy to the people.

There are positives to Beijing. People still give birth to babies. There are a few nice parks. Last week I walked in one, and a few people came up to me and gave me a thumbs up or patted me on the shoulder. Why do they have to do that in such a secretive way? No one is willing to speak out. What are they waiting for? They always tell me, “Weiwei, leave the nation, please.” Or “Live longer and watch them die.” Either leave, or be patient and watch how they die. I really don’t know what I’m going to do.

The Partridge Family Meets Ken Kesey on the Grand Trunk Road

The Partridge Family Meets Ken Kesey on the Grand Trunk Road Photo by *_*, via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by *_*, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

James Parchman spent days on a Pakistani stretch of the fabled Grand Trunk Road, wowed by the ornate decorations he saw on so many passing vehicles. The “panorama of red, yellow and green, mixed with plastic whirligigs, polished mahogany doors and gleaming stainless steel cover plates,” he writes, is part pride of design, part advertising expense.

Durriya Kazi, an artist and teacher in Karachi, has long been a proponent of Pakistan’s folk art. She sees bus and truck decorating as an integral part of that tradition, noting the importance of distinguishing between sculpture as defined by the art gallery and the rich activity of actually making things that exists all over Pakistan.

In 2006, Ms. Kazi was instrumental in a program intended to spread Pakistan’s bus decoration skills to Melbourne, Australia, where a tram was transformed into a replica of a minibus used on Karachi’s W-11 route, resplendent in all its finery.

Another Pakistani with expertise in the subject is Prof. Jamal J. Elias of the University of Pennsylvania, the author of “On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan” (Oneworld, 2011). His book explores the tradition of Pakistani truck decoration, and looks into the “nature of response to religious imagery in popular Islamic culture.”

A terrific slideshow accompanies Parchman’s piece.

For another look at the Grand Trunk Road, check out Jeffrey Tayler’s five-part series, Cycling India’s Wildest Highway.

Did Canaletto Paint Venice as Tourists Wanted to See It?

The Economist’s Prospero blogger thinks so. In a recent post, he describes a new exhibit at London’s National Gallery, Canaletto and His Rivals, as “painted propaganda,” and argues that the Venice depicted in its paintings bears little resemblance to the real deal:

The sun always shines in Venice; the sky is always blue. This is how visitors like to remember that most beautiful island city. Not coincidentally, that is how Canaletto most often painted the place. His clients, after all, were Grand Tourists, many of them back home in dark English country houses, worrying about farm rents. They longed for the gorgeous, licentious place their memories turned into paradise.

(Via The Daily Dish)

What was the World’s Tallest Building in 1884?

The Washington Monument. Kottke has a lovely graphic contrasting the monument with its 1880s competition. We’ve come a long way from the Mall to the Burj, huh?

Las Vegas Bets on ‘Real’ Architecture

Las Vegas, Paul Goldberger notes in the New Yorker, “has started to feel a little uncomfortable about its reputation as a place where developers spend billions of dollars on funny buildings.” That feeling helped inspire the latest over-the-top Vegas production. Goldberger writes:

The complex is called CityCenter, and it is the biggest construction project in the history of Las Vegas. It has three hotels, two condominium towers, a shopping mall, a convention center, a couple of dozen restaurants, a private monorail, and a casino. There was to have been a fourth hotel, whose opening has been delayed indefinitely. But even without it the project contains nearly eighteen million square feet of space, the equivalent of roughly six Empire State Buildings. “We wanted to create an urban space that would expand our center of gravity,” Jim Murren, the chairman of the company, told me. Murren, an art and architecture buff who studied urban planning in college and wrote his undergraduate thesis on the design of small urban parks, oversaw the selection of architects, and the result is a kind of gated community of glittering starchitect ambition. There are major buildings by Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Viñoly, Helmut Jahn, Pelli Clarke Pelli, Kohn Pedersen Fox, and Norman Foster; and interiors by Peter Marino, Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis, Bentel and Bentel, and AvroKO. There are also prominent sculptures by Maya Lin, Nancy Rubins, and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. “The idea I wanted to convey was to bring smarter planning to the development process in Las Vegas, to expand our boundaries of knowledge,” Murren told me. “Las Vegas is always looked down upon. CityCenter is a counterpoint to the kitschiness.”

Goldberger doesn’t believe the project succeeds.

Chinese Developers to Recreate Salvador Dalí‘s Hometown

Xiamen Bay is the new Costa Brava! From the Guardian:

Sources at the company said they had found a spot that was geographically similar to Cadaqués, with its gently sloping hills and protected bay. “Building work will start in September or October,” a spokesman said.

More than 100 acres of land will be used to build a near replica with a capacity to house some 15,000 Chinese holidaymakers who want to enjoy the Costa Brava experience without having to travel 6,500 miles.

The Chinese version will not have the sparkling Mediterranean, the madness-inducing Tramontana wind or as many jellyfish as Cadaqués, but the promoters say they will try to get as close to possible to the real thing.

The developers are following in the footsteps of Lyon in the desert and Thames Town outside of Shanghai, among other places.

Dali would surely approve. As the Guardian notes, “One of his favourite money-making habits was to sign, and sell-off, blank sheets of paper for prints and lithographs. As a result, he is one of the most frequently copied and forged artists in the world.”

Victory at the Louvre

Erin Byrne never let her mask slip, until a headless, armless Greek statue taught her a lesson she couldn't ignore

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The Red Eye: A Visual Diary

Peanut stacking! A remote with a delete neighbor button! Clouds that look like a Henry Moore sculpture! Yup, more travel-related brilliance from Christoph Niemann.

Niemann previously mapped the hokey pokey, an omelet and Rumsfeld’s Iraq.

‘I Can’t Remember a Time When Cartier-Bresson’s Images Did Not Exist in my Mind’

Over at The Smart Set, Jason Wilson pushes back against the critics of the soon-to-wrap Cartier-Bresson exhibit at MoMA—and wonders, at the same time, how much of his resistance to the criticism is purely personal. It’s a good read. Here’s a taste:

It hit me as I approached the mural-sized world maps that greet museum-goers at the show’s entrance, with dotted lines tracing Cartier-Bresson’s famous journeys over several decades. Ringing in my ears was Schjeldahl’s snarky take: “This suggests a novel measurement of artistic worth: mileage. It seems relevant only to the glamour quotient—a cult, practically—of Cartier-Bresson’s persona, pointing up what seems to me most resistible in his work.”

Ouch, I thought. But mainly because I was flashing on my own career as a travel writer, one that began 15 years ago when I gave up writing a novel. I’ve always harbored my own deep fears that I passed, miles ago, over that “impassable” line from art to journalism, never to return.

76-Second Travel Show: The Airline Logo Awards

Robert Reid honors the world's best-looking airlines

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Yosemite Through the Eyes of a Chinese Artist

Lovely piece in The Smart Set about Chinese artist Xie Zhiliu’s renderings of Yosemite National Park, which are now part of an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Xie visited Yosemite in 1994, a few years before his death.

There, he produced a series of paintings that are a testimonial to cognitive dissonance. He paints the mountains and trees of Yosemite, but they look vaguely Chinese. The vegetation looks sparse, like in the drawings that accompany Chinese calligraphy. The stones of Yosemite rise up with the stalagmite abruptness we expect of Chinese art.

Cognitive dissonance at work on a canvas can be a beautiful thing. I’m reminded of these impressionistic West-meets-East paintings by Van Gogh.

Photo You Must See: Diving at the Underwater Museum

Photo You Must See: Diving at the Underwater Museum REUTERS/Ho New

Divers swim near Jason de Caires Taylor's "The Man on Fire," one of several sculptures immersed in the water off Cancun

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Aerogram Love, Continued

The latest to weigh in on the disappearing aerogram: Dickon Edwards.

I’ve been buying up packs frantically, in order to beat the price rise. Other people stockpile petrol and tinned food: I stockpile stationery.

After all, who sends airletters in 2010? A smattering of collectors, a few pensioners who won’t touch a computer, and defiant retro-stylists like myself. But I have a letter-loving friend in Australia who writes back, on the pretty pictorial aerogrammes the country still issues, and exchanging Facebook Wall posts with her just doesn’t lift my heart in the same way.

(Via @evanrail)

The Casino Carpets of Las Vegas

This slideshow will wake you up on a Monday morning. Chris Maluszynski’s photos are the subject of a New Yorker Talk of the Town piece, which probes why Las Vegas casino carpets are so gaudy.

Theories abound about why casino carpets look the way they do. The camouflaging argument makes sense—the more curlicues, the less noticeable the dirt and Coke and vomit. But Christine B. Whittemore, who runs a blog called Carpetology, believes that the carpets’ primary function is psychological. “A lot of the busyness of the patterns may be about keeping people active, as too much relaxing may not inspire gambling,” she said. “You also have to be careful not to use the same pattern on stairs as you do on flat surfaces, because of how the brain processes depth.” Recently, Whittemore took a tour of Steve Wynn’s new Encore hotel. She recalled, “There’s some carpet in this delightful little café-bar area, and what comes to mind is Marc Chagall—the idea was the butterfly, the metamorphosis, the dream.” The butterflies flutter over a scarlet grid. Whittemore went on, “The head designer explained that red is a good-luck color in many Asian cultures.”

David G. Schwartz has more on the subject, and more photos.

Time Traveling Through Travel Ads

Over at the Big Money, Martha C. White is the latest to dig up some old travel ads to smile and gawk at. Sophia showcased a good batch of old-timey travel ads from magazines last year at Flyover America.

Early Images of Singapore Saved From Bonfire

Good catch to whoever rescued “Views of the China Seas & Macao Taken During Capt. D. Ross’ Surveys by M. Houghton” from the flames. The book contained some of the earliest known drawings of Singapore, dating back to 1819. It was just sold at auction by the unnamed seller to an unnamed buyer for £43,000. (Via @roncharles)

Travel Posters: Pan Am in the Early ’70s

This post on Eye Blog has a History Detectives feel, chronicling the history of a forgotten Pan Am Airlines advertising campaign from the early ’70s.

The effort to rebrand the troubled airline failed—eventually, so did the airline—but the designs are now celebrated. A few of the posters were recently featured in an exhibit at MoMA in New York. Check out a few below. They’re beautiful.

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The Audacity of David

michelangelo's david Photo by see.lauren, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Christopher Seneca was losing faith in the world. Then he went to see Michelangelo's masterpiece.

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Video You Must See: Snow Sculptures in China