Thomas Jefferson portrait recreated with distant descendant

Photographer Drew Gardner created a photo series depicting descendants of historical figures, each posed as their ancestors. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Dickens... It's surprising how uncanny the resemblances often are. But none are so fascinating as his portrait of Shannon LaNier, the great^6-grandson of Thomas Jefferson.

The recreation was based on the famous portrait of Jefferson by American painter Rembrandt Peale, and Gardner shot his portrait using a Fujifilm GFX 50S and a Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens. LaNier, a black man who descended from Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings, tells Smithsonian that he has complex feelings about being a Jefferson descendant, and he chose to not wear a wig to more faithfully recreate his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather’s portrait.

“He was a brilliant man who preached equality, but he didn’t practice it,” LaNier tells the magazine. “He owned people. And now I’m here because of it.”

The series was commissioned by the Smithsonian; click through for a making-of video. Read the rest

Spend a relaxing hour watching this amazing art restoration

Julian Baumgartner has been sharing wonderful videos of his amazing art restorations, including one of his most ambitious projects ever, the restoration of a copy of Guido Reni's masterpiece L'Aurora. Spend an hour watching a master of his craft transform this work. Read the rest

Watch "Zen for Film" (1965), a film about nothing, and everything

Video artist Nam June Paik's "Zen for Film" (1964) is a projection of clear film leader. The image changes over time as dust and imperfections become visible. From the Bard Graduate Center gallery:

Inherent in the work’s material and conceptual aspects are notions of chance, trace, changeability, boredom, silence, and nothingness. With Zen for Film, the projection of a film leader creates an image of apparent nothingness that oscillates between the immateriality of projected light and the material traces, which slowly obliterate the leader’s transparent surface. Zen for Film shares meaningful aspects of chance, silence, and nothingness with such works as composer John Cage’s 4”33” (1952) and artist Robert Rauschenberg’s White Painting (1951).

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How a Black woman turned quilting into a surprisingly radical art form

The New York Times has a fascinating new article about the life and work of Rosie Lee Tompkins, whose stunning quilting art is currently the subject of a retrospective exhibit (online, and in person) at the UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive.

I certainly hadn't heard of Tompkins before this. Nor had I given much thought to quilting as a modern art form, let alone a radical one. Sure, I'd seen centuries-old craftwork on display in museums. But, as I learned from the Times article, Tompkins work was a uniquely American expression — a predecessor in a way to the remix culture that would later lead to the development of hip-hop. Sometimes, you have to use whatever materials are available to you, and transform them in ways that can (hopefully) fulfill both practical and artistic purposes. And that's exactly what Tompkins did:

Tompkins was an inventive colorist whose generous use of black added to the gravity of her efforts. She worked in several styles and all kinds of fabrics, using velvets — printed, panne, crushed — to gorgeous effect, in ways that rivaled oil paint. But she was also adept with denim, faux furs, distressed T-shirts and fabrics printed with the faces of the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Magic Johnson.

A typical Tompkins quilt had an original, irresistible aliveness. One of her narrative works was 14 feet across, the size of small billboard. It appropriated whole dish towels printed with folkloric scenes, parts of a feed sack, and, most prominently, bright bold chunks of the American flag.

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Milton Glaser, legendary graphic designer, RIP

Milton Glaser, the graphic designer who defined the visual style of the 1960s and 1970s, has died at age 91 of a stroke. Thanks for all the color, Mr. Glaser. You've seen his work everywhere, from the iconic "I ♥ NY" graphic for a 1977 tourism campaign to the incredible poster included in Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits album in 1967. He was also co-founder of New York magazine. From the New York Times:

“We were excited by the very idea that we could use anything in the visual history of humankind as influence,” Mr. Glaser, who designed more than 400 posters over the course of his career, said in an interview for the book “The Push Pin Graphic: A Quarter Century of Innovative Design and Illustration” (2004). “Art Nouveau, Chinese wash drawing, German woodcuts, American primitive paintings, the Viennese secession and cartoons of the ’30s were an endless source of inspiration,” he added. “All the things that the doctrine of orthodox modernism seemed to have contempt for — ornamentation, narrative illustration, visual ambiguity — attracted us.”

Mr. Glaser delighted in combining visual elements and stylistic motifs from far-flung sources. For a 1968 ad for Olivetti, he modified a 15th-century painting by Piero di Cosimo showing a mourning dog and inserted the Italian company’s latest portable typewriter at the feet of the dead nymph in the original artwork.

For the Dylan poster, a promotional piece included in the 1967 album “Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits,” he created a simple outline of the singer’s head, based on a black-and-white self-portrait silhouette by Marcel Duchamp, and added thick, wavy bands of color for the hair, forms he imported from Islamic art.

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Another flawless art restoration in Spain

A copy of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables was restored magnificently by a "furniture restorer" in Spain, whose work challenges the illustrious heights of 2012's Beast Jesus of Zaragoza.

The restorer made a second attempt, reports Europa Press, which lacks the Beast Jesus je ne sais quoi of his first effort but brings its own horror-movie corpse lady vibe to the table.

When asking the author of the 'restoration' for explanations , he tried to 'solve' the problem, but the result of the work has been an image that has nothing to do with the original. Now, the collector has contacted another specialist, this one trained for this work, who will try to rehabilitate the work, says the owner, speaking to Europa Press. The vice president of Internal Relations and coordinator in the Valencian Community of the Professional Association of Conservative Restorations explains that aberrations like this are "unfortunately much more frequent than you think."

Restorers warn of irreversible errors due to non-professional interventions [Machine translation, Google] Read the rest

Man removes wet clay blob on head slice by slice

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with everything postponed and having to stay isolated, it’s been back to just me messing about with clay + camera. big shout-out to @space_studios_london for helping out their artists rn 🙌 #williamcobbing

A post shared by William Cobbing (@william.cobbing) on May 25, 2020 at 8:26am PDT

In this footage, William Cobbing (instagram) wears a giant ball of clay on his head. He slices off layers with a wire to reveal a gooey, dripping face.

with everything postponed and having to stay isolated, it’s been back to just me messing about with clay

There are more in the series:

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WIP #volumeup #williamcobbing

A post shared by William Cobbing (@william.cobbing) on Jun 13, 2020 at 9:45am PDT

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with everything postponed, and having to stay isolated it’s been back to just me messing about with clay + camera. #williamcobbing

A post shared by William Cobbing (@william.cobbing) on May 25, 2020 at 10:20am PDT

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more clay + camera #ironoxide #outdamnedspot #williamcobbing

A post shared by William Cobbing (@william.cobbing) on May 28, 2020 at 7:25am PDT

See also the work of Olivier de Sagazan.

Do not watch "Hi Stranger" while high

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'My uncle from Romania just built this out of recycled old parts from everyday objects'

These amazing creations are the work of Mihai Armeanu Rosin, a retired chef turned mad tinkerer in Romania whose nephew posted about them on IMGUR. Read the rest

Generative Shan Shui landscape paintings

{Shan, Shui}* is art-generating code that produces traditional Chinese landscape paintings. It's running here and here and each time you load the page, you'll get a new landscape.

{Shan, Shui}* is inspired by traditional Chinese landscape scrolls (such as this and this) and uses noises and mathematical functions to model the mountains and trees from scratch. It is written entirely in javascript and outputs Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format.

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Sculptor creates the world's tiniest chess set, the size of a thumbtack

Turkish sculpture Necati Korkmaz makes tiny works of art, most of which can only be fully appreciated with a magnifying glass. His latest effort is a chess set smaller than a thumbtack. The board is 9 millimeters square and the pieces, around 1.5-3 millimeters in size, are moved with tiny sticks. Korkmaz hopes to be recognized by Guinness World Records; the current record holder is US artist Ara Ghazaryan with his 15.3 millimeters square set. From Anadolu Agency:

Necati Korkmaz told Anadolu Agency that he worked around six hours every day in the last six months to finish his tiny chess set.

“From time to time, I was very tired but it is a great pleasure to see the work of art finished,” Kormaz said.

“I prepared a really usable micro chess set.”

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A post shared by Necati Korkmaz (@necati_korkmaz) on Jun 5, 2020 at 8:43am PDT

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The revolutionary art of Black Panthers graphic designer Emory Douglas, a short documentary

From 1967 through the 1980s, Emory Douglas was the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, the revolutionary social justice and political organization founded in Oakland, California. Douglas was the art director, designer, and primary artist for The Black Panther Newsletter and created the iconic Black Panther flyers, handouts, and posters. His work is as relevant, and as necessary, right now as it was 50 years ago.

Art historian, artist, and professor Colette Gaiter referred to Douglas as "the Norman Rockwell of the ghetto, concentrating on the poor and oppressed."

To this day, Douglas creates powerful work that communicates urgent ideas and calls for action.

image: "All power to the people" by Emory Douglas (1970) Read the rest

Smashed window in Memphis brilliantly labeled as artwork

"Lost a window to the riot, didn't lose an opportunity," writes Memphis resident Tagawat on r/Memphis.

(Thanks, Jeff Cross!) Read the rest

Pass the time with Dystopian Future Bingo

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a fun game 💜 collab w cyber bb @404loko

A post shared by Aiden :) (@aidenarata) on May 13, 2020 at 4:29pm PDT

I've shared some of Aiden Arata's other delightful digital quarantine art, and once again, she does not disappoint. But if I want to win, I guess I'm going to have to take up knitting.

Top image: Ms Crowley's Classroom / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest

You can zoom way, way into this incredible photo of Rembrandt's The Night Watch

The Night Watch is a 1642 painting by Rembrandt. It hangs in The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Today, the museum posted the "largest and most detailed ever photograph of The Night Watch on its website, making it possible to zoom in on individual brushstrokes and even particles of pigment in the painting." I've been exploring it and it's incredible!

The Rijksmuseum’s imaging team led by datascientist Robert Erdmann made this photograph of The Night Watch from a total of 528 exposures. The 24 rows of 22 pictures were stitched together digitally with the aid of neural networks. The final image is made up of 44.8 gigapixels (44,804,687,500 pixels), and the distance between each pixel is 20 micrometres (0.02 mm). This enables the scientists to study the painting in detail remotely. The image will also be used to accurately track any future aging processes taking place in the painting.

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Look at this photo printed on algae in a petri dish

Okay, now THAT is a selfie.

This is such a cool photography/biology experiment. Read the rest

Banksy installed a stunning artwork in a hospital; its auction will raise money for healthcare

Banksy hung this stunning painting in the foyer of Southampton General Hospital's emergency department. Apparently the installation of the framed, one meter square artwork was completed in cahoots with the hospital management. Video below.

Banksy left a note that reads, "Thanks for all you're doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if its only black and white."

According to the BBC, "the painting will remain at Southampton General Hospital until the autumn when it will be auctioned to raise money for the [UK's National Health Service]."

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Fascinating short doc about Keith Haring's mural in Melbourne and its stolen signature

In 1984, pioneering street artist Keith Haring painted a mural in Collingwood, Melbourne at a school there. Today, that mural is only one of 31 Haring murals that still exist, but it was almost lost to time and controversy. Above is "Keith Haring Uncovered," a documentary telling the story of Haring's time down under and what happened after he was gone. From CityLab:

Collingwood was an industrial, blue-collar neighborhood when Haring arrived, but gentrification has swept through recently, filling it up with art galleries and expensive real estate. The school closed in 1987. In 2004, the mural was added to the Victorian Heritage Register but it continued to deteriorate. A concerned local stole the small wooden door that contained Haring’s signature to spare it from further decay. In 2010, Creative Victoria, a state agency that advocates for local creative industries, took over management of the site and an effort to conserve the mural began as part of a plan to make the former school into the new Collingwood Arts Precinct.

Today, the mural looks as fresh as it ever has, restored in 2014 by Antonio Rava, who is now responsible for the same task in Amsterdam. The anonymous door thief—one of the more rewarding interviews in Uncovered—returned the prized possession to its right place knowing that the mural’s fate appears to be in good hands now.

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