31 August 2009

Stars in Their Eyes

Time to get cosmic with these remarkable photographs, entries in the competition for Astronomy Photographer of the year.

30 August 2009

New Art

Just completed:  Mannish Boy

Sub Rosa

Marcel Duchamp was a busy boy -- even after telling the world he was through with art.  

What was he up to?  The Daily Beast's Rachel Wolff explains.

What's Hot?

This week's lists of best-selling graphic books from the New York Times.

The Art of Acquisition

A London Guardian interview with uber collector Charles Saatchi.

29 August 2009

The First Time

Do you remember when it began? When you realized that art was more than stick figures and jagged clouds scrawled with crayons?  When it occurred to you that there was a spark of talent within that would let your innate creativity emerge in a meaningful way?  Do you remember?  

My moment didn't arrive until I was in my mid-forties.  Here's the tale in brief:

"How did you get started drawing?"  

It's the first thing I'm asked, and my answer is: "O. J. Simpson."  

As a journalist for the past thirty-five years, I've covered a lot of big stories. One of the most sensational was the 1995 Simpson murder trial. My assignment for CBS Radio News (when I wasn't in the courtroom in Los Angeles) was to sit in a New York studio and anchor the network's gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial. With the lion's share of time taken up by testimony, I had long stretches with little to say. I began sketching the faces of the witnesses on paper napkins that had been left in the studio. When I finished one, I'd thumbtack it to the wall. After a while, I'd accumulated a small collection. And co-workers took note. Armed with their encouragement, I decided to give drawing a try in my off hours. My first effort was a small portrait of the great bluesman John Lee Hooker. Not bad, I said to myself, not bad at all. But for reasons that elude me, it didn't last. After only a few other drawings, I stopped.  

And I didn't pick up the pencils and pad for thirteen years.  

What prodded me to start again? My good friend Jim Davis loaned me John Daido Loori's The Zen of Creativity. It's a wonderful book, and it showed me the way back. That was in the spring of 2008, and I'm still at it.

28 August 2009

Sins of the Flesh

In marble, it's art.  In the flesh, it's a crime. 

If you haven't encountered the story of this week's arrest of a nude model at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,  here it is.

I'm still shaking my head.

27 August 2009

The Master's Hand

The Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition at the Guggenheim concluded Sunday, and the museum has deemed it a spectacular success, drawing record crowds.

I went last month with two friends who are also Wright devotees.  It was a beautiful Saturday in New York, and people turned out in droves.  The museum was packed, at times making it difficult to get close to some some exhibits without waiting.  

It was a wonderful show, featuring dozens of original plans for some of Wright's most-beloved creations and also those which, sadly, remained only on the drawing board.  His imagination knew few bounds, and it's little wonder his reach sometimes exceeded the grasp of his clients.

If you're lucky enough to have a trip to Spain planned in the next few months, the exhibition is moving to Bilbao where it will run into February.

The Flickering Image

TCM is my default television channel -- and not because most of its fare is in the same color range as my art.

Yesterday I watched Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Frederic March as literature's ultimate split-personality.  Students of film will find it  interesting visually, utilizing techniques that, for 1931, seemed quite ahead of their time -- point-of-view shots, split screen, slow dissolves and elapsed-time transitions. 

March won an Oscar for his performance which, I have to say, jumped the shark in the last reel.  Still, worth watching for the cinematic flashes.  And the pre-Code coquettishness of the delightful Miriam Hopkins.

26 August 2009

What Makes A Work of Art Great?

Errol Morris is a filmmaker of uncommon skill and perceptiveness.  He is also a man who has very definite ideas about  what visual images say -- and what they hide.

Earlier this summer, he posted on his New York Times "Zoom" blog a provocative multi-part essay that asks:  what makes a work of art great?  To examine the question, he focuses on Han Van Meegeren, whose Vermeer forgeries fooled the Nazis and the world.

Here's Part One of Bamboozling Ourselves.


My goal is basic:  to provide a place for stimulating ideas, thoughtful discussion, vigorous debate.  We'll use art as our focus, but there may be occasions when we'll want to diverge.  Perfectly fine.  Life never moves in a straight line.  Neither will we.

We will get from our experience what we put into it.  Please join me.