Los Angeles art museum is now free to all starting Saturday: "Like a library, where you can just walk in"

A $10 million donation is allowing The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles to make art accessible to everyone. Beginning Saturday, they will offer free general admission going forward, only charging for special exhibitions. The massive financial gift is from Carolyn Clark Powers, MOCA's Board President.

Klaus Biesenbach, MOCA's director since 2018, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times in May (when the program was initially announced), "We are not aiming at having more visitors or larger attendance, but we’re aiming at being more accessible, at having open doors. As a civic institution, we should be like a library, where you can just walk in."

KCRW talked to Lindsay Preston Zappas of Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles magazine who says it will cost MOCA $2 million yearly to operate under the free program and that they will need to secure funding in the future to keep the program going.

MOCA has two locations in Los Angeles, the one on Grand Avenue and the Geffen Contemporary in the Little Tokyo Historic District, and both will have public celebrations this Saturday, January 11, from 12 to 4.

photo by Elon Schoenholz/The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Read the rest

Andrew McCarthy's astronomical photography

Andrew McCarthy, posting on Instagram as Cosmic Background, takes amazing astronomical photographs. Pictured above a breathtakingly detailed shot of the moon constructed from 100,000 individual photographs. You can buy prints of this and other works of his at his online store.

My first lunar image of 2020 is also one of my most detailed. This is a blend of around 100k photos, which allowed me to sharpen the image and overcome some of the fuzzing caused by our turbulent atmosphere. The colors you see are real, caused by variations in the composition of the regolith. This first quarter moon also is one of the best for showing crater detail, as the long shadows long the terminator really make the details pop.

Below is a rather menacing photo of the sun looming behing Mercury.

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Behold, the transit of Mercury! This is little guy at around 9:45am Pacific this morning. I captured hundreds of thousands of frames of the event so I could build an animation, but didn't want to wait so long before sharing something. Mercury is about the size of our moon, so seeing it like this really puts the scale of the sun in perspective. #mercurytransit2019 #astrophotography #space #astronomy #opteam #optcorp #meadeinstruments #mercury

A post shared by Andrew McCarthy (@cosmic_background) on Nov 11, 2019 at 11:17am PST

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After I posted a picture of some star trails taken from my backyard I had a lot of positive feedback and requests for prints, but frankly I knew I could do better.

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The finger-tentacled baby sculptures of Clay Per Day

Clay Per Day is a Dutch sculptor whose Etsy store features grotesque, "realistic" sculptures that mash up the heads of angry babies with spiders and knurled fingers, about the right size for posing on your desk at work. (via Creepbay) Read the rest

Interview with Beeple, artist behind Zuckerberg nightmare art

You've seen Mike "Beeple" Winkelmann's work before here—Nice animation of Zuckerberg as giant cyborg spider enjoying Facebook's nipple-free techno-utopia—and now Avery White interviewed him for Vox. He "works in a room with side-by-side 65-inch TVs constantly tuned to CNN and Fox News and on computers that are suspended above a bathtub because their 12 combined graphics cards generate too much heat." Read the rest

Rare new video interview with R. Crumb

Legendary underground cartoonist R. Crumb in a rare video interview recorded a few months back during the Louisiana Literature festival at Humlebæk, Denmark's Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. From a summary of Crumb's comments:

“I was so alienated when I was young, that drawing was like my only connection to society. That was the only thing that I could see was going to save me from a really dismal fate of God knows what.” Crumb describes his social skills as a young man as being “completely nil.” At the same time, he was driven by his “fucked-up ego,” and he had to balance those two sides. Drawing became a way for him to deal with reality, and in the 1950s, where “being a comic-book artist was the lowest level of commercial art,” he pushed toward a more personal use of the medium: “At a certain point I decided I don’t want to be America’s best-loved hippie cartoonist. I don’t want that role. So I’ll just be honest about who I am, and the weirdness, and take my chances.” Consequently, Crumb alienated a lot of people with his often provocative content: “It was just too disturbing for most people, too weird.”

Crumb has an urge to question things and is acutely aware that he’s going to get hell for what he’s doing – even lose friends – but he is willing to take the heat for it. He feels that he plays with images, emphasixing the word “play.” Nowadays, he argues, there’s a tendency to take everything at face value – including his artwork: “The artwork I did that used those images and expressed those kinds of feelings, I stand by it… I still think that that’s something that needed to be said and needed to be done… It probably hurts some people’s feelings to see those images, but still, I had to put it out there.”

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Esoteric programming language coded with images

Piet is an esoteric programming language where the programs are encoded as images and resemble abstract paintings. Spot-on Mondrians (pictures) are the hook, but a wide range of pixelated styles are possible; the logic of the program can be exposed in the image.

Prime Number Generator

Sylvain Tintillier provides a method of generating prime numbers using Piet. Figuring out how it works is easy, he says, "Just look at the bitmap!"

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Vaughan Oliver -- graphic designer for 4AD, Cocteau Twins, Pixies -- RIP

Vaughan Oliver, the graphic designer whose work defined the 4AD record label, has died. He was 62. His ethereal, surreal, magnificent album art for The Pixies, Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, and Clan of Xymox brought together design and music in a way that forever changed and elevated the design of music packaging. From The Guardian:

Oliver, born in 1957, grew up in County Durham and studied graphic design at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Polytechnic. “I was a working class lad from a dull town,” he said in 2014. “There was no real culture, my parents were not really interested in anything unusual – everything I was getting was through record sleeves. It was a democratic way of discovering art.”

He moved to London and in 1982 became the first employee for the record label 4AD. As their in-house designer, he created artwork that helped define them as purveyors of dark and complex alt-rock music; with their clashing fonts and boldly allusive but mysterious symbolism, his sleeves became some of the most revered in modern pop. “I like to elevate the banal through surrealism,” he said in 2014. “Mystery and ambiguity are important weapons in a designer’s arsenal.”

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Watch Laurie Anderson's fantastic "What You Mean We?" (1986) from PBS's Alive from Off Center

Alive From Off Center was PBS's pioneering TV series that featured experimental video and performance pieces by artists like Ann Magnuson, the Brothers Quay, Jonathan Demme, Bill Irwin, and Laure Anderson. For me, the program, which aired between 1985 and 1996, was a wonderful introduction to many avant-garde artists and filmmakers. Above is Laurie Anderson's "What You Mean We?" that first aired on September 6, 1986.

Here's a New York Times article about the episode from the time: "TV: Laurie Anderson Performs"

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

Spectacular, tiny room hidden behind a hinged electrical outlet cover

Japanese artist Mozu makes incredible, miniature dioramas with tiny, winking electronic devices; their latest piece is The Secret Base of Kubito, a tiny workroom hidden behind an electrical outlet. Mozu says of it, "This work, which was born from the delusion that 'If I'm small, don't make a secret base in the wall', and the wifi router that flashes with a glowing TV are all handmade miniature works." (Sorry, wonky Bing translation!) Read the rest

Leviathan: an eight foot tall, seven foot wide assemblage sculpture "ghost ship"

Last year, artist Jason Stieva completed work on "Leviathan – Ark of the Apocalypse," a spectacular, 7-foot-long, 8-foot-high sculpture of a ghostly pirate ship. Steiva is an assemblage sculptor and tattoo artist from Whitby, ON who spent 15 months on the ship, which is populated by a variety of readymade Warcraft miniatures and other findings. Read the rest

Thief robs caricature artist but leaves his portrait behind

Earlier this month at the Festival of Lights event in Riverside, California, a gentleman requested that a caricature artist paint his portrait. Once the drawing was finished, the subject snatched the artist's bag of earnings containing around $500. He left his portrait behind. From KTLA:

“Do you recognize this caricature? And no, we are not kidding,” police said in a Facebook post sharing the drawing. “This caricature is of the suspect, but of course, has exaggerated characteristics and features.”

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The gothic sculptures of Jason Stieva

Jason Stieva (insta) makes elaborate, intense gothic sculptures: skulls with disturbing patterns of growth and embedded machinery, themselves assembled into clocks, ships, and miniature armies of the undead.

Amazingly, this isn't his day job: he's a tattoo artist! Read the rest

The Wall Street Journal's new hedcut-generating AI created monstrous portraits

Becoming important enough to merit a "hedcut" stippled portrait from the Wall Street Journal used to a be a significant honor. But on Monday, the WSJ announced that all members can now receive a hedcut courtesy of an AI that's been trained over the last year. Along the way, developers ran into some speedbumps. Baldness was one obstacle:

“We had to go through and hand-tag over 2,000 photos, including a lot of bald men, so that the machine would learn what baldness is”

And so was overconfidence:

The most harrowing issue of all was overfitting, which happens when a model fits a limited set of data too closely. In this case, that meant the machine became too satisfied with its artistic ability and began producing terrifying monstrosities like [the portraits seen above].

You can learn more about the process and sign up for your own hedcut here. With any luck, someone will post a program a generate monstrous glitchy versions.

(Via Gene Park.) Read the rest

Embroidered aerial photography of English fields

At Victoria Richards' Etsy store she sells stunning embroideries evoking the timeless pastoral landscapes of southern England. May favorites are the "aerial photographs" such as the one depicted here. Sadly, she's all sold out for Christmas and you'll have to wait until the new year to order. Her Instagram is a greatest hits catalog.

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John Waters looks at modern art

In the above episode of the Museum of Modern Art's "The Way I See It," the patron saint of bad taste John Waters looks at Lee Lozano’s "Untitled" (1963).

"I buy art and love art that frightens me and gives me flashbacks to things that scared me. And then I overcome it by looking at it." Read the rest

Steve Martin makes abstract art theory interesting

In this MoMA video, Steve Martin talks about two of his favorite abstract art paintings and why he appreciates them. Read the rest

Watch Iranian artist Ali Akbar Beigi apply finishing touches to a hyper-realistic oil painting

Watch Tehran-born artist Ali Akbar Beigi work on this gorgeous hyperrealistic portrait. Read the rest

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