Archive for April, 2008

The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you’re an artist.

April 30, 2008

David Hockney

David Hockney (1937-)

Born in Yorkshire, England, David Hockney attended local art schools then enrolled at the Royal College of Art in London. Hockney visited Los Angeles in 1963 after starting a series of paintings based on his fantasies of homoerotic life in California. These paintings of swimming pools associated him with the Pop Art movement which emerged in both Britain and the United States in the early Sixties. He also painted portraits of friends in the worlds of fashion and art many of whom became emblematic of the culture of the 1960’s. In the 1970’s, Hockney worked in Paris, but settled in Los Angeles in 1976.

After establishing himself with his clean, flat style of rendering people and landscape, Hockney is now an important realist painter of pleasing portraits and exotic landscapes that are, for the most part, simple compositions in bright clear colors. He has worked extensively with the performing arts designing sets for theatre and opera in London, New York, Paris and Los Angeles. In the 1980’s, Hockney began making collages that resemble Cubist compositions from Polaroid photographs, and portraits made of many photographic details of the sitter.

My hand is the extension of the thinking process – the creative process.

April 29, 2008

Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando (安藤忠雄 Andō Tadao?, born September 13, 1941 in Osaka, Japan) is a Japanese architect whose approach to architecture was once categorised as Critical Regionalism. Ando has led a storied life, working as a truck driver and boxer prior to settling on the profession of architecture, despite never having taken formal training in the field.

He works primarily in exposed cast-in-place concrete and is renowned for an exemplary craftsmanship which invokes a Japanese sense of materiality, junction and spatial narrative through the pared aesthetics of international modernism.

In 1969, he established the firm Tadao Ando Architects & Associates. In 1995, Ando won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered the highest distinction in the field of architecture. He donated the $100,000 prize money to the orphans of the 1995 Kobe earthquake.

For me, each nuance of a color is in some way an individual, a being who is not only from the same race as the base color, but who definitely possesses a distinct character and personal soul.

April 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Yves Klein

Yves Klein was born April 28, 1928, in Nice. From 1942 to 1946, he studied at the Ecole Nationale de la Marine Marchande and the Ecole Nationale des Langues Orientales and began practicing judo. At this time, he became friends with Arman Fernandez and Claude Pascal and started to paint. Klein composed his first Symphonie monoton in 1947. During the years 1948 to 1952, he traveled to Italy, Great Britain, Spain, and Japan. In 1955, Klein settled permanently in Paris, where he was given a solo exhibition at the Club des Solitaires. His monochrome paintings were shown at the Galerie Colette Allendy, Paris, in 1956.

The artist entered his blue period in 1957; this year a double exhibition of his work was held at the Galerie Iris Clert and the Galerie Colette Allendy, both in Paris. In 1958, he began using nude models as “living paintbrushes.” Also in that year, he undertook a project for the decoration of the entrance hall of the new opera house in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. The first manifesto of the group Nouveaux Réalistes was written in 1960 by Pierre Restany and signed by Arman, Klein, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, and others. In 1961, Klein was given a retrospective at the Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany, and his first solo exhibition in the United States at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York. He and architect Claude Parent collaborated that year on the design for fountains of water and fire, Les Fontaines de Varsovie, for the Palais de Chaillot, Paris. In 1962, Klein executed a plaster cast of Arman and took part in the exhibition Antagonismes 2: L’Objet at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Shortly before his death he appeared in the film Mondo Cane (1962). Klein died suddenly on June 6, 1962, in Paris.

Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact.

April 27, 2008

William S. Burroughs

William Seward Burroughs was the grandson of the founder of the Burroughs Adding Machine company, which evolved into the Burroughs Corporation, which made huge, now outdated mainframe computers. The Burroughs corporation eventually merged with Sperry Univac and got absorbed into Unisys.

Burroughs was born on February 5, 1914 in St. Louis, Missouri. His upper-class midwestern background did not suit his tastes. A bookworm with strong homoerotic urges, a fascination with guns and crime and a natural inclination to break every rule he could find, there seemed to be no way Burroughs could ever fit into normal society. His parents seemed to accept this, and after he graduated from Harvard they continued to support him financially as he experimented with various lifestyles.

In his early thirties he traveled to New York and decided to pursue freedom by joining the city’s gangster underworld. He became a heroin addict quite intentionally, in the process meeting the prototypical junkie drifter and future Beat hero Herbert Huncke. His St. Louis friends David Kammerer and Lucien Carr introduced him to a crowd of crazed young nonconformists studying at Columbia University, including Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Burroughs’ future common-law wife, Joan Vollmer Adams. He was older than them, but they were impressed by his obvious intelligence and worldly cynicism. Kerouac described him as ‘Tall, 6 foot 1, strange, inscrutable because ordinary looking (scrutable), like a shy bank clerk with a patrician thinlipped cold bluelipped face.’

His Columbia friends, particularly Kerouac and Ginsberg, were interested in Burroughs’ underworld experimentation, though they would not follow him very far into it. Kerouac and Ginsberg had writing careers to keep themselves busy; by his mid-thirties William S. Burroughs had still not begun to write.

But everybody who hung around with Ginsberg and Kerouac ended up writing something. At first indifferent to serious literary ideals, Burroughs wrote ‘Junky,’ a heroin-tinged autobiography, and allowed Ginsberg to arrange for it’s publication as a pulp paperback by Ace Books, run by the uncle of Ginsberg’s friend Carl Solomon. Burroughs followed this by a similar study of his homosexuality, ‘Queer,’ but this was too much even for the pulps, and would not be published for decades.

By this time Burroughs had already relocated to East Texas to try to live as a farmer, growing oranges, cotton and marijuana. Herbert Huncke and Joan Vollmer Adams joined him, and they all lived together in a state of drug-addled squalor while running the farm and raising two children, one from Joan’s first marriage and one the child of Joan and Bill. Kerouac visited with Neal Cassady and others, and later described the wild scene in On The Road. Pursued by the law for his drug activities, Burroughs took Joan and the children to Mexico, and it was there that he committed the thoughtless act that would change his life. Trying to show off his marksmanship to a couple of friends, he announced that he was going to do his William Tell act. Joan put a glass on her head, and he killed her with a single shot.

Their son went to live with Burroughs’ parents, and Burroughs wandered the world from South America to Tangier. He was living in Tangier while his New York friends were becoming a popular sensation as the ‘Beat Generation‘, first in San Francisco and then all over America and the world. The writers Paul and Jane Bowles lived in Tangier too, and Tangier soon became a popular literary escape for new American celebrity writers, including Ginsberg and Kerouac. Kerouac didn’t like Tangier, but he was knocked out by the messy pile of stories Burroughs had been idly writing, and he and Ginsberg helped to type them up. Kerouac also suggested a name for the whole thing: ‘Naked Lunch.’

‘Naked Lunch’ made Burroughs an underground celebrity, and is widely considered his best work. He would go on to write many more books, plays, film scripts and essays. He went through a “cut-up” phase after ‘Naked Lunch’ during which he tried to compose novels from snippets of various texts. Not originally considered one of the Beat writers at all (in 1971, Bruce Cook wrote an important study of the Beat Generation in which he listed the top three Beat writers as Kerouac, Ginsberg and Gregory Corso), he is now a favorite to some, and hated by many more. Some women’s groups find him offensive (for good reason; he has published many nasty generalizations about women). In the early 90’s, there was a zine devoted exclusively to disgust with Burroughs’ gender-based offenses.

A film of ‘Naked Lunch’, directed by the very talented David Cronenberg, earned Burroughs much attention in the early 90’s. He has been cited as an inspiration by many rock musicians, and both the influential London psychedelic-scene band The Soft Machine and the American 70’s jazz-rock band Steely Dan took their names from Burroughs’ writings. In 1992 Kurt Cobain released an album with Burroughs, ‘The Priest They Called Him’ in which Cobain plays electric guitar over Burroughs’ spoken voice. It is shocking to realize that Burroughs would go on to outlive Kurt Cobain.

Burroughs has a strong presence in contemporary literature, especially alternative branches like cyberpunk and modern postmodern. While he is considered part of the Beat tradition, he also stands separately as a part of the wave of pop-culture media philosophers that flourished in the 60’s, along with Timothy Leary, Marshall McLuhan, Andy Warhol, Alvin Toffler, etc. The internet has a natural affinity for these media-conscious thinkers, and many web sites devoted to his work sprung up in the early days of the web.

Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.

April 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Eugene Delacroix

Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix (April 26, 1798August 13, 1863) was the most important of the French Romantic painters. Delacroix’s use of expressive brushstrokes and his study of the optical effects of colour profoundly shaped the work of the Impressionists, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement. A fine lithographer, Delacroix illustrated various works of William Shakespeare, the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, and the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

In contrast to the Neoclassical perfectionism of his chief rival Ingres, Delacroix took for his inspiration the art of Rubens and painters of the Venetian Renaissance, with an attendant emphasis on color and movement rather than clarity of outline and carefully modeled form. Dramatic and romantic content characterized the central themes of his maturity, and led him not to the classical models of Greek and Roman art, but to travel in North Africa, in search of the exotic. Friend and spiritual heir to Théodore Géricault, Delacroix was also inspired by Byron, with whom he shared a strong identification with the “forces of the sublime”, of nature in often violent action.

However, Delacroix was given neither to sentimentality nor bombast, and his Romanticism was that of an individualist. In the words of Baudelaire:

“Delacroix was passionately in love with passion, but coldly determined to express passion as clearly as possible.” \

An artist’s failures are as valuable as his successes.. by misjudging one thing he conforms something else, even if at the time he does not know what that something else is.

April 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley was born in London and studied there at Goldsmith’s College (1949-1952) and the Royal College of Art (1952-1955). She was influenced by her study of the Neo-Impressionist technique of Pointillism, but taking up ‘Op Art’ in the early Sixties she worked initially in black and white. In 1958 she was deeply impressed by the large Jackson Pollock exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London. This was one of the reasons that led her to pursue her own art, finally leaving her job as illustrator at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in 1962.

In 1966 Riley turned to colour with ‘Chant’ and ‘Late Morning’. She was already receiving considerable recognition, secured in 1968 when she won the International Prize for painting at the 34th Venice Biennale. After a major retrospective in the early Seventies, Riley begins to travel extensively. Up until early 1980 she had been working on her ‘curve’ paintings, but these came to an end after a particularly inspiring sojourn in Egypt. Her extensive exploration of colour and contrast began after this. In 1983 she designed a mural made up of soothing bands of blue, pink, white and yellow for the Royal Liverpool Hospital. In the same year, she made her first set for the ballet ‘Colour Moves’ first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1983. Three years later she met the postmodern ‘Simulationist’ painters Philip Taaffe and Ross Bleckner, and inspired to introduce a diagonal element to her work, thus adding another dimension to her fascination with the juxtaposition of colours.

Bridget Riley is one of the finest exponents of Op Art, with her subtle variations in size, shape and position of blocks within the overall pattern. Her work is characterised by its intensity and its often disorientating effect. Indeed the term ‘Riley sensation’ was coined to describe this effect of looking at the paintings, especially her early black and white pictures. Riley is fascinated with the act of looking and in her work aims to engage the viewer not only with the object of their gaze but also with the actual process of observation.

I don’t paint to live, I live to paint.

April 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning was born April 24, 1904, in Rotterdam. From 1916 to 1925, he studied at night at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten en Technische Wetenschappen, Rotterdam, while apprenticed to a commercial-art and decorating firm and later working for an art director. In 1924 he visited museums in Belgium and studied further in Brussels and Antwerp. De Kooning came to the United States in 1926 and settled briefly in Hoboken, New Jersey. He worked as a house painter before moving to New York in 1927, where he met Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, and John Graham. He took various commercial-art and odd jobs until 1935, when he was employed in the mural and easel divisions of the WPA Federal Art Project. Thereafter he painted full-time. In the late 1930s his abstract as well as figurative work was primarily influenced by the Cubism and Surrealism of Pablo Picasso and also by Gorky, with whom he shared a studio.

In 1938 de Kooning started his first series of Women, which would become a major recurrent theme. During the 1940s he participated in group shows with other artists who would form the New York School and become known as Abstract Expressionists. De Kooning’s first solo show, which took place at the Egan Gallery, New York, in 1948, established his reputation as a major artist; it included a number of the allover black-and-white abstractions he had initiated in 1946. The Women of the early 1950s were followed by abstract urban landscapes, Parkways, rural landscapes, and, in the 1960s, a new group of Women.

In 1968 de Kooning visited the Netherlands for the first time since 1926 for the opening of his retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. In Rome in 1969 he executed his first sculptures—figures modeled in clay and later cast in bronze—and in 1970–71 he began a series of life-size figures. In 1974 the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, organized a show of de Kooning’s drawings and sculpture that traveled throughout the United States, and in 1978 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, mounted an exhibition of his recent work. In 1979 de Kooning and Eduardo Chillida received the Andrew W. Mellon Prize, which was accompanied by an exhibition at the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh. De Kooning settled in the Springs, East Hampton, Long Island, in 1963. He was honored with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1997. The artist died on March 19, 1997, on Long Island.

Painting is a strange business.

April 23, 2008

Happy Birthday J.M.W. Turner

Turner, John Mallord William (1775-1851). One of the finest landscape artists was J.M.W. Turner, whose work was exhibited when he was still a teenager. His entire life was devoted to his art. Unlike many artists of his era, he was successful throughout his career. Joseph Mallord William Turner was born in London, England, on April 23, 1775. His father was a barber. His mother died when he was very young. The boy received little schooling. His father taught him how to read, but this was the extent of his education except for the study of art. By the age of 13 he was making drawings at home and exhibiting them in his father’s shop window for sale.
Turner was 15 years old when he received a rare honor–one of his paintings was exhibited at the Royal Academy. By the time he was 18 he had his own studio. Before he was 20 print sellers were eagerly buying his drawings for reproduction.

He quickly achieved a fine reputation and was elected an associate of the Royal Academy. In 1802, when he was only 27, Turner became a full member. He then began traveling widely in Europe.

Venice was the inspiration of some of Turner’s finest work. Wherever he visited he studied the effects of sea and sky in every kind of weather. His early training had been as a topographic draftsman. With the years, however, he developed a painting technique all his own. Instead of merely recording factually what he saw, Turner translated scenes into a light-filled expression of his own romantic feelings.

As he grew older Turner became an eccentric. Except for his father, with whom he lived for 30 years, he had no close friends. He allowed no one to watch him while he painted. He gave up attending the meetings of the academy. None of his acquaintances saw him for months at a time. Turner continued to travel but always alone. He still held exhibitions, but he usually refused to sell his paintings. When he was persuaded to sell one, he was dejected for days.

In 1850 he exhibited for the last time. One day Turner disappeared from his house. His housekeeper, after a search of many months, found him hiding in a house in Chelsea. He had been ill for a long time. He died the following day–Dec. 19, 1851.

Turner left a large fortune that he hoped would be used to support what he called “decaying artists.” His collection of paintings was bequeathed to his country. At his request he was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Although known for his oils, Turner is regarded as one of the founders of English watercolor landscape painting. Some of his most famous works are Calais Pier, Dido Building Carthage, Rain, Steam and Speed, Burial at Sea, and The Grand Canal, Venice.



Every artist writes his own autobiography.

April 22, 2008
Henry Ellis
Henry Havelock Ellis (February 2, 1859July 8, 1939) was a British doctor, sexual psychologist and social reformer.
ELLIS, psychologist, critic and editor, was born on 2 February 1859 at Old Croydon, Surrey, England, the eldest child and only son of Edward Peppen Ellis (1827-1914), sea captain, and his wife Susannah (1830-1888), daughter of Captain John Wheatley. In 1866 his father took him in the Empress to Sydney. On his return and in the absence of his father Ellis assumed much family responsibility. The influence of his mother’s evangelical faith on him was reinforced by the preaching of Rev. John Erck of Merton, but his teacher at The Poplars, Tooting, interested him in wider aspects of religion and introduced him to nineteenth-century literature. On 19 April 1875 Ellis left in his father’s Surry for Sydney. On the voyage he read widely. He also began a journal which he continued erratically for four years, and consulted it in 1884 for Kanga Creek (London, 1922), a much-praised novelle based partly on his Australian life; he later used a few incidents in his clinical studies but not, he claimed, in his autobiography begun in 1899 and published as My Life in 1940.
Ellis decided to stay in New South Wales. He became a teacher at Fontlands, a private school in Burwood, but lacked qualifications and experience; his salary was reduced and he left at the end of the year. In 1876 he tutored the five children of a retired civil servant at Goonawarrie, near Carcoar. He found the work tolerable enough and revisited Sydney to matriculate at the University of Sydney, but did not proceed to an external course. Despite some material comfort it had been a dark year: he lost much of his faith but not his longing for spiritual assuredness. He retreated again to the country as sole assistant in a Grafton proprietory school. When the owner died, Ellis found himself ‘a boy of eighteen—headmaster of a grammar school’. The venture failed and in October he sold out cheaply. He had lodged at Grafton with an auctioneer, with whose daughter he fell in love. He was too reticent to mention the fact but the experience increased his understanding of human affection. On this theme, in his solitude and perplexity, he dwelt more and more.
Back in Sydney, Ellis determined to ‘go under the Council [of Education]’. He read hard at the Public Library but disliked his month of training at Fort Street Normal School, where ‘the great object is discipline’. He passed his examination and was posted to half-time schools at Sparkes and Junction Creeks, near Scone. He must have been an adequate teacher and, by his own account, was not unhappy. His commonplace books of 1878 reveal intensive reading and a larger interest in natural science. In particular he re-read Life in Nature by James Hinton, a physiologist and amateur philosopher, and consulted Ellis Hopkins’s edition of Hinton’s Life and Letters. Hinton’s exposition gave the questing Ellis a belief in the inherent righteousness of the search for artistic and scientific truth. The best avenue for his search, Ellis thought, was a medical and not a clerical career. He resolved to return to England and sailed in La Hogue in January 1879. On 27 February he confided in his diary: ‘These three years I have spent in Australia seem to me like those three during which Paul was in Arabia’. In 1881-89 while studying medicine at St Thomas’s Hospital, London, he began editing the ‘Mermaid’ series of dramatists and then the ‘Contemporary Science’ series. In 1897-1910 his six-volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex appeared; his other publications include Man and Woman (1894), Little Essays of Love and Virtue (1922) and Impressions and Comments, 3 volumes (1914-24). In 1891 he married Edith Oldham Lees, authoress.


Ellis never returned to Australia although he published a paper on ‘The Doctrines of the Freud School’ in Transactions of the Ninth Session, Sydney, 1911, of the Australasian Medical Congress. A photograph of Sparkes Creek, taken by his Australian friend Marjorie Ross, stood by his bedside in his last years. Ellis died without issue on 8 July 1939.





Art lies by its own artifice.

April 21, 2008


Publius Ovidius Naso (March 20, 43 BC17 AD) was a Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid who wrote on many topics, including love, abandoned women and mythological transformations. Ranked alongside Virgil and Horace as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature, Ovid was generally considered a great master of the elegiac couplet. His poetry, much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, had a decisive influence on European art and literature for centuries.

Ovid made use of a wide range of meters: elegiac couplets in the Amores and in his two long didactic poems, the Ars Amatoria and Remedia Amoris; the two fragments of the lost tragedy Medea are in iambic trimeter and anapests, respectively; the Metamorphoses was written in dactylic hexameter. (Dactylic hexameter is the meter of Virgil‘s Aeneid and of Homer‘s epics.)