Resources for Speakers - Anecdotes About Art and Artists
Stencil Grafitti Art
Guerrilla artist Banksy famous for smuggling his art works (usually subversive) into public galleries - most famous was to sneak into Br Museum dressed as an attendant and add to an installation of primitive cave art a pic of a caveman pushing a supermarket trolley (archivists decided to see the funny side by adding it to their collection - at exhibition of Turner Prize winners he installed a sign saying "Mind The Crap"
Banksy in news when one of his famous murals (of a maid sweeping dust under a carpet) was sprayed over by a rival graffiti artist (but it reappeared a week later)
A similar work sold in Sotherby's in NY for nearly $1m - a maid lifting up a Damien Hirst spot painting to reveal brick wall underneath
Anthony Gormley, sculptor who made the Angel of the North latest project Another Place on a 2 mile stretch of stony beach near Liverpool 100 naked male statues facing out to sea - most submerged at high tide; wind and rain eroding rest - some people come to contemplate man's struggle with environment, some come to stare out to horizon with them, others just come to paint the naughty bits bright yellow - 600,000 visitors in 15 months
Picasso visited a local cabinet-maker to commission a wardrobe for his house. To show him what he wanted, Picasso scribbled a quick sketch on a bit of paper. "How much will it cost?" he asked. "Nothing" said the cabinet maker "Just sign the drawing."
Salvadore Dali bought his wife Gala a chateau in Spain. In one of the rooms a rather obtrusive radiator dominated , so Gala asked him to paint a screen to conceal it. Dali obliged with what he later described as 'one of my more realistic paintings' - a picture of the radiator itself
Anyone with a slight interest in his work is aware of how prominently Campbell's Soup and Coca-Cola figure into his art. Some may own, or have at least seen, the first Velvet Underground album, which has a Warhol cover featuring a bright yellow banana. (You could actually peel the banana open on the original copies back in 1967.)
Andy Warhol very commercial - did portraits of anyone - charged $25,000 per 100 sq cm
Last year, nine original prints worth an estimated $350,000 from Warhol's Endangered Species series were discovered to have been stolen from a Los Angeles movie business and replaced with colour copies. The theft had gone undetected for years.
Freud, a prolific womaniser, fathered at least 15 children. They include Frank Paul, his youngest child, fathered with the painter Celia Paul, who has often been overlooked. Remarkably, three of Freud's children were born in a single year - 1961. Bella Freud, the fashion designer, was born to writer Bernardine Coverley, Isobel Boyt to Suzy Boyt and Lucy Freud to McAdam. Explaining why he was so attractive to women, his eldest child, Annie Freud, said: "He was just bloody gorgeous. Fantastic body. We always went to the south of France in July. I remember him coming out of the sea wearing those tiny trunks, and I could see women eating him with their eyes."
The director of three Mexico City museums devoted to the works of Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera notes wryly that "Frida is producing more after death than when she was alive."
"I'm interested in painting, drawing and sculpture." Few modern artists will, in his view, endure. "Not all that much of it will last - that would be very extraordinary because no one would have time to study or look at it, there's so much that's being produced. And I don't see why anyone should suppose that more work by living artists today will survive than work from yesterday." He understands the appeal of Damien Hirst, who has made millions from his pickled sharks and his diamond-encrusted skull. "I think he created extraordinary images. Some of them pass one pretty important test, which is it's quite difficult to forget them."
Flayed Art - bodies preserved with a resin - skin stripped off to reveal muscles, veins and organs - old people, pregnant woman and foetus etc (subsequently found Chinese army selling corpses executed prisoners)
Cow Parade started in Switzerland; now a profitable franchise - a city buys a 'herd' of fiberglass cows for $20,000 a head, organizes businesses to sponsor, painters to come up with decor, and then auction them for charity - other spin-offs such as Santa Fe Parade of Ponies (Search 'Cow Parade' for a gallery of painted cows - there are thousands of them)
Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel has little gags that you can't see from ground - angels making obscene gestures - that were only noticed when recently cleaned
Many old paintings are a lot different to what they were originally. Most have faded or darkened as pigments aged. The original colours can be deduced by direct methods (often bits hidden beneath frame) or indirect (molecular analysis to determine and replicate original paints). In other paintings the appearance has been changed by earlier attempts to clean. A modern simulation provides a much more accurate version of what the artist originally created, but of course is nowhere near the value of the (degenerated) original.
Chinese artist Song Dung built a biscuit city in Selfidges dept store in London - 72,000 biscuits and jellybeans
Viewers of Norway's NRK television station were treated last weekend to a 12-hour broadcast of a fire burning in a fireplace. To make the broadcast slightly more entertaining, specialists in firewood provided expert commentary. The programme was inspired by a bestselling book. Lars Mytting, author of Solid Wood: All about Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood, said: "We received about 60 text messages from people complaining about the stacking in the programme. Fifty per cent complained that the bark was facing up, and the rest complained it was facing down. One thing that really divides Norway is bark."
Japanese artist in Cardiff got £5000 grant to drink 48 bottles of beer then fall off a wooden beam - a piece of 'performance' art which surprised many locals, many of whom do exactly the same every Friday and Saturday night without getting paid
Annoying Cell Phones
James Cameron kept a nail gun with him at all times on the set of 'Avatar' and any cell phone that rang on set during a take, was nailed to the wall.
There are 3 arts - music, painting and ornamental pastry-making, of which last, architecture is a sub-division.
Gateshead exhibition by Chinese born artist Terence Koh upset visitors with statue of Jesus with an erection. Also included models of Mickey Mouse and ET, also with penises. He has previously upset people with pic of Virgin Mary standing at a urinal
Artist Tim Patch, who calls himself Pricasso, because he paints with his penis, entered Australian Archibald Prize for portraits. Said he had to use his bum for the background "You have to have an occasional break"
Sculptor Richard Jackson introduced "Bad Dog" as part of his "Ain't Painting a Pain" installation at California's Orange County Museum in February. Outside, to coax visitors in, Jackson's Bad Dog's hind leg was cocked, with gallons of yellow paint being pumped onto the building. "We'll see how long it lasts," he told the Los Angeles Times, "but you never know how people will react." "Sometimes, people feel they should protect their children from such things, then the kids go home and watch "South Park."
It was a tough sell for performance artists Doug Melnyk and Ian Mozdzen to defend their controversial show at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in July. (Wrote one reviewer: "What I saw [on the stage] were not one, not two, but three mayonnaise enemas. [I] do not need to see any more mayonnaise enemas for the rest of my lifetime.") Explained Melnyk, to a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reporter in July, if all you're trying to do is "figure out what people want and you make it for them, that's not art." "[Y]ou're just a shoemaker."
The Golden Ratio
Also known as the divine proportion, the golden ratio describes a rectangle with a length roughly one and a half times its width. Many artists and architects have fashioned their works around this proportion. For example, the Parthenon in Athens and Leonardo da Vinci's painting Mona Lisa are commonly cited examples of the ratio.
Photographer Stephen Marty Welch said he liked to ask subjects off the wall questions to catch an unguarded expression. Asked one guy "Expecting any unusual Father's Day cards this year? Any kids you don't know about?" Hence the stunned expression on portrait
Steve Wynn accidentally put his elbow thru a $140m Picasso when showing it to guests. Seven years later he sold the now restored painting to the same buyer for $155m.
The Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge had a trio of priceless Qing dynasty cases displayed on a windowsill until someone fel, down the stairs and smashed into them. They were restored and put on display, this time in a cabinet. The museum helped pay for the highly publicized restoration by selling mini jigsaw postcards of the cases.
Guggenheim Museums being franchised world wide - Bilbao fabulously successful - local council got its investment back in one year, and credited with revival of a run down part of city. Now in Venice, Las Vegas, Berlin and Abu Dubai
Art Museums and Eli Broad
Eli Broad (rhymes with 'road') changed his mind about giving his collection of 500 pieces of modern art to LA MOMA. Instead he wants to start a foundation which will lend art works. He has so many works that no one museum could display more than a small fraction at any one time, and he hates the idea of them sitting in storage most of time
"In October, Ralph Lauren's brother bought a weather vane at a Sotherby's auction in NY for $5.8m. That's right, $5.8m. By then it had been clear for months that the art world was going bonkers .... perhaps it wasn't the daftest moment of a daft year. It just seemed like it at the time."
As one dealer tells author Sarah Thornton in Seven Days in the Art World, "Only two professions come to mind where the building in which transactions take place is referred to as a house."
John Myatt, sent to prison for painting 'old masters' which fooled experts and sold for millions The guy behind it planted fake documentation in archives of big public galleries, and got 6 years after his wife dobbed him in after an acrimonious split up. Myatt got 12 month sentence but only served 4 months, spent mostly doing pics for the guards. When he came out, the guy who'd arrested him commissioned a family portrait for £1500; then TV program on how he did fakes; then American gallery ran exhibition of his fakes, now he makes fortune selling real fakes
German art student visiting China's terracotta army put on a dusty costume and hat and climbed into pit with 1200 other warriors. Stood ramrod stiff and unblinking; took frustrated police 3 hours to find him
Laguna Beach Pageant of the Masters - live tableau enacting paintings such as Last Supper
Norman Foster designed 8 storey skyscraper gallery in Manhattan to fit in a site only 25' wide and 100' deep. 1900 sq ft per floor. Solution a giant elevator 12' x 20' wide that wd not only trans people but also serve as exhib space. Same polished concrete floor and white walls as rest of gallery; building sheathed in glass and exterior walls of lift painted Ferrari red so visible from outside
Most people are reticent about giving their opinion on art, but not when it's portraits. Then everyone has an opinion
London Artists including Yoko Ono, Anish Kapoor and Tracey Emin have taken part in a secret postcard fundraising exhibition. In the yearly Royal College of Art (RCA) event all postcards, each featuring an original design, are bought in a one-day sale to the public, with each card costing £40 each. But the buyers do not know if the card was designed by a famous artist or a student. All the artwork must be completed on postcards and signed on the reverse - keeping the artists' identities hidden until the work is bought. This year the 2,700 cards include a depiction of what appears to be Amy Winehouse with blue skin, complete with tattoos, eyeliner, a beehive hairdo and a cigarette. To date, sales have topped £1 million, helping hundreds of emerging artists. Professor Glynn Williams, head of fine art at the RCA, said: It's one of the most democratic art sales in the world. Everyone has an equal chance of getting a big name. The cards can be seen in the RCA galleries and online until November 21 before sale the next day.
In August , Naples (Fla.) City Councilman Fred Tarrant demanded that local artist Ted Lay's "Famous Tongue Mona Al Monica" painting (side-by-side impressions of Mona Lisa, Albert Einstein, and Monica Lewinsky sticking their tongues out) be removed from its place at a Naples municipal art center because he thinks Lewinsky's "tongue" too much resembled a penis (which Lay denied). According to a Naples Daily News report, Tarrant is in fact blind but said various "advisors" assured him that the tongue resembled a penis.
Publicly Funded Art
Among the recent works funded by Arts Council England was a "painting" consisting of a blank canvas, for which artist Agnieszka Kurant was paid the equivalent of about $2,300 and on which she intends to paint something in the future. Rounding out her exhibition were a "sculpture" that was not really present and a "movie" that had been shot with no film in the camera.
Scottish artist Jane Forbes, 47, won the "Shoe Is Art" competition in Dundee in late 2010 with a work ("Ad Infinitum") that a University of Dundee spokesman called "awe-inspiring." Forbes painted (and photographed) the same pair of shoes every day for 66 consecutive days, hypothesizing that subtle differences in her "mood" would be detectable in any variations in the paint jobs.
A 200-exhibit installation on the history of dirt and filth and their importance in our lives opened in a London gallery in March, featuring the ordinary (dust), the educational (a video tribute to New York's Fresh Kills landfill, at one time the world's largest), the medical (vials of historic, nasty-looking secretions from cholera victims), and the artistic (bricks fashioned from feces gathered by India's Dalits, who hand-clean latrines). Dirt may worry us as a society, said the exhibit's curator, but we have learned that we "need bits of it and, guiltily, secretly, we are sometimes drawn to it." Capping the exhibit, leaning against a wall, was what appeared at a distance to be an ordinary broom but whose handle was studded with diamonds and pearls.
A pedestrian bridge over Interstate 80 in Berkeley, Calif., opened late last year, decorated with $196,000 in public art by sculptor Scott Donahue. At each end of the bridge are 28-foot structures to honor the "history" and "daily life" of Berkeley, notably its tradition of citizen protests, but smaller sculpted medallions feature street scenes such as dogs romping playfully in city parks. However, as initially noted by a Fox News reporter in February, one of the medallions shows a dog defecating and another displays two dogs mating. Said a local art program official, "I think they're just, you know, natural science . . . what dogs really do."
Advice to Artists
A well-known artist was asked if he had any advice to the young artists behind him. His response was classic - geniuses don't need it and amateurs don't listen.
An abandoned South London council house has been turned into a magical crystal palace with blue copper sulphate crystals sprouting from wals ceiling floor light fittings, toilet. To create it, the artist sealed the ground floor flat, turning it into a giant tank, then drilled holes thru floor of flat above and pumped in 75,000 liters of hot supersaturated copper sulphate solution. Then he waited for it to cool. Now it's on (temp) display - but only to 2 people at a time, and you have to wear gumboots and rain gear - its soggy in there!
The Art of Food
In April at a gallery in London, Mexican artist Raul Ortega Ayala's exhibit opened with the customary hors d'oeuvres for visitors. However, since Ayala's work specializes in the roles that food plays in our lives, he served cheese made from human breast milk, to "explore our first encounter with food emphasizing its territoriality and boundaries." He said his next piece would go the other way, with ten menus showing what "presidents, public figures, mass murderers, and cave men" ate just before dying.
Interesting article about Brit cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, who said he started to draw as child to exorcise his fears of hospitals. As an adult he says it has become a defence mechanism for unloading anger. Politicians "making the same old mistakes - filching taxpayers cash, screwing their secretaries - clowns drunk with their own power"
Most "Chimpanzee art works" only exist because the keeper removed the canvas at the right time - otherwise the chimp will continue to apply paint until there is nothing to see but a muddy blob
French waiter amassed a huge collection stolen artworks. His mother got annoyed with his stealing so she started getting rid of them burnt some, chucked others in river
Paintings - The Size of Art
Paintings are getting bigger - presumably because there are more big houses with big walls - it used to be that anything more than 3.2m tall was hard to sell. Now you can go to 4m before prices peak.
A convent in France couldn't figure out how it's treasures were going missing - finally hidden cameras revealed the thief, who was using a secret passageway he'd discovered from old blueprints (and which was originally used by the monks accessing the nuns' quarters)
Unusual Unconventional Artworks
When Charles Saatchi took up with the delectable Nigella Lawson, he got the builders in to renovate - unfortunately one needed a power point so unplugged deep freeze which was holding an art work made of frozen blood, which soon after became an expensive puddle
A warehouse Charles Saatchi owned burned down with over 100m pounds worth art destroyed (including Tracey Emin's tent embroidered with names "Everyone I have Ever Slept With") Some saw it as classic retribution but probably a big financial gain for everyone but the insurers
Warren Buffett has excluded culture from his life because it would interfere with his focus on business. For 30 years, he didn't notice a Picasso hanging in a bathroom at the house of his best friend Kay Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post, until it was pointed out to him.
Old Master Paintings Art
Canaletto for a day - a competition run by National Gallery; prize went to a council house in suburbs - the painting went on display in this tiny house for a day - barred from cooking, or even boiling a jug in case they damaged the picture - security guards all round, including one each side of the painting to make sure no-one touched it
Royal Portrait Art
King Charles II coveted a portrait of his father Charles I, held by Cambridge University. He was very insistent that they give it to him: "You can have anything you want if you give it to me?" so they gave it to him "What do you want me to do for you?" "Give it back" (And he did)
(NY Times article) The Outsider Art Fair hits town this weekend in a new, grown-up space (across from the Empire State Building) but with "new talents of all kinds," at modest prices, writes Roberta Smith. In the same vein, check out "How to Attract Men: The Art of Liz Renay," which opens with a reception at Deitch Projects on Friday night. Renay, who died almost two years ago, was a 40-26-36 stripper; star of sexploitation flicks (as well as "Desperate Living" by her longtime friend John Waters); memoirist ("My First 2,000 Men"); mob -- um -- confidante; and also a painter. The exhibit features her work, as well as costumes and other artifacts. On Sunday the burlesque queen Julie Atlas Muz curates and performs in a show inspired by the incomparable busty blonde
Art of Film
(Letter to the London Times) You report that Hollywood is to make a film about the Battle of Hastings (News, December 21). Can you tell us who will be playing the leader of the American troops who won the battle for William?
Art and Culture
Harry Lime's theory. As he said in The Third Man, warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed gave us Michelangelo, da Vinci and the Renaissance while 500 years of democracy and peace in Switzerland (35th in the medals table and 22nd in the GDP table) produced only the cuckoo clock. (Even this was wrong; the cuckoo clock was invented in Germany.)
Whole House Art
An abandoned South London council house has been turned into a magical crystal palace with blue copper sulphate crystals sprouting from wals ceiling floor light fittings, toilet. To create it, the artist sealed the ground floor flat, turning it into a giant tank, then drilled holes thru floor of flat above and pumped in 75,000 liters of hot supersaturated copper sulphate solution. Then he waited for it to cool. Now it's on (temp) display - but only to 2 people ata time, and you have to wear gumboots and rain gear - its soggy in there!
Art of Music
Top level musical instruments like Stradivarius etc are fetching astronomical prices, putting them out of reach of most musicians. So innovative deals - syndicates buy the instruments as investments, musician gets usage rights in return for paying insurance premiums (usually 1% value) and giving concerts for the patrons.
Art of Human Murals
Philip Levine, 28, working with artist Kat Sinclair, initially solved the problem of his "boring" shaved head by having her paint original murals on his dome, with the result that he became a star in the London (England) club scene. Since then, Levine has upgraded to painstakingly laying jewelry designs on his bald head, employing hundreds of thumbtack-sized Swarovski crystals to create a "swooping, shimmery, rockabilly" dome that dazzles in the light. The crystals shed after about a day, creating the opportunity for more designs.
Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef - a travelling exhibition that has been all over the online knitting and crochet forums! Women go to public workshops and crochet on extensions
Threadless is a community-centered online apparel store run by skinnyCorp of Chicago, Illinois Designers upload their t-shirt designs to the website, where visitors and members of the community score them on a scale of 0 to 5. On average, around 1,500 designs compete in any given week. Each week, the staff selects about ten designs. Each designer selected receives $2,000 in cash, a $500 gift certificate. Other companies have adopted the community model created at Threadless. Some captions incl "Yeah I play on Expert" and a "Zombie Food Pyramid" with a Zombie at top of conventional 3 level pyramid
Talking About Art Appreciation
(Dennis Dutton's take on Damien Hirst etc) We ought, then, to stop kidding ourselves that painstakingly developed artistic technique is passe, a value left over from our grandparents culture. Evidence is all around us. Even when we have lost contact with the social or religious ideas behind the arts of bygone civilizations, we are still able, as with the great bronzes or temples of Greece or ancient China, to respond directly to craftsmanship. The direct response to skill is what makes it possible to find beauty in many tribal arts even though we often know nothing about the beliefs of the people who created them. There is no place on earth where superlative technique in music and dance is not regarded as beautiful. The appreciation of contemporary conceptual art, on the other hand, depends not on immediately recognizable skill, but on how the work is situated in today's intellectual zeitgeist. Thats why looking through the history of conceptual art after Duchamp reminds me of paging through old New Yorker cartoons. Jokes about Cadillac tailfins and early fax machines were once amusing, and the same can be said of conceptual works like Piero Manzonis 1962 declaration that Earth was his art work, Joseph Kosuth's 1965 One and Three Chairs (a chair, a photo of the chair and a definition of chair) or Mr. Hirst's medicine cabinets. Future generations, no longer engaged by our art concepts and unable to divine any special skill or emotional expression in the work, may lose interest in it as a medium for financial speculation and relegate it to the realm of historical curiosity. In this respect, I can't help regarding medicine cabinets, vacuum cleaners and dead sharks as reckless investments. Somewhere out there in collectorland is the unlucky guy who will be the last one holding the vacuum cleaner, and wondering why.
Art of Tattoo
(Not everyone who has a tattoo is a moron, but every moron has a tattoo) Chinese tattoo on the arm of a prat on footie trip to Hong Kong - he thought it said 'faith honour strength' type stuff but a waitress in a Chinese restaurant saw it and burst out laughing - told him it actually said "This is one ugly boy"
Art of Tattoo
Apparently running out of space on his body (which is two-thirds-tattooed), Brazilian Rodrigo Fernando dos Santos has moved on to his eyeballs. According to the body-modification website BME.com, eyeball-tattooing is safe if done correctly, which involves the artist injecting the ink precisely between the conjunctiva and the sclera layers--with the main risk, of course, that the client can go blind. In April, Sao Paulo tattoo artist Rafael Leao Dias, who said he had studied eyeball work for two years,successfully turned dos Santos's eyes into pools of dark ink, which soon drained, though leaving his eyes "half gray," he told a local blogger. BME.com said eyeball tattoos have been reported for nearly 2,000 years. [Huffington Post, 4-17-2013]
Art of Tattoo
Shaquille O'Neal has 'TWISM' tattoed on his bicep (The World Is Mine)
Lighter Conversation Starters About Art
Abstract painting is like a woman - you'll never like it if you try to understand it
A rascal far gone in his lechery
Woman getting her portrait painted, told the artist she wanted to be depicted with jewels everywhere - diamond rings necklaces earrings and tiara. Artist asked why, since she wasn't wearing any of those. She replied that her husband was bound to remarry if she died, and she wanted to drive new wife nuts looking for the jewellry.