In 2009, Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara was hanging out with his business manager Tim Blum in the Manhattan bar Niagrara. Nara pulled out a marker and drew some of his fantastic figures on the walls. (Later that night, he did the same thing at a subway station and was promptly arrested.) Last week, one of Nara's paintings sold in a Sotheby's auction for $24.9 million, driving up the value of his other work including this graffiti. According to Blum though, Nara doesn't want anyone to pull out the bar walls and sell his graffiti. Fortunately, the bar owners seem to agree. For now anyway. From CNN:
"The (drawings at the bar are) quite in keeping with his style," said David Schrader, head of private sales at Sotheby's. "My guess is it's probably worth hundreds of thousands. For sure, when an artist gets a record-selling price, it elevates them in the market. My gut is there are definitely people who would want to own this or the multiple pieces individually..."
The Niagara's management declined to comment, but a bartender told CNN that the artwork "has been a part of the bar for a long time and will stay that way." The drawings are safeguarded by a thin layer of plastic that was installed by the bar's ownership.
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Nick "Ulillillia" Smith is a game developer, writer and YouTuber who achieved recognition in the early 2010s due to his eccentricity, the shameless intensity of his outsider-art creations, and his adherence to a diet incompatible with human life. The subject of an unreleased 2012 documentary, whose promising trailer alone threatened to extend his fame far beyond forum culture, he faded from prominence (along with the rest of the Old Web) as social media took over and the age of online discovery ended. Atrocity Guide created this 20-minute recap of his story so far. Read the rest
During the 1950s, surrealist and ethologist Desmond Morris mentored Congo, a chimpanzee, in the great ape's artistic pursuits. Congo painted more than 400 works that were purchased by the likes of Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso. And now Morris is selling his collection of 55 of Congo's paintings at London's Mayor Gallery. He's keeping just one of them. The paintings -- which will be priced around £1,500 – £6,000 -- will first be on exhibit from December 3-19. From It's Nice That:
Morris worked with a number of apes in his research but explains that none matched Congo’s apparent artistic instinct. “No other apes were controlling the mark making and varying the patterns as he was,” Morris says. “I originally picked Congo out as one of the more boisterous at the zoo and felt that his strong personality would respond well to to focused periods of working together..."
Morris commented on his decision to sell all but one of his favourite paintings from the time, saying “I am holding onto the serious, scientific research notes that I made during my years working with Congo, but, at 91 years old, I now would rather that the paintings and drawings be made available to other collectors, to whom I hope they will bring as much pleasure as they have to me.”
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Banksy's massive "Devolved Parliament," a 2009 painting of chimpanzees in Britain’s House of Commons, just sold for $12.1 million at a Sotheby's auction. It was put on the block by a private, unnamed seller. The painting was previously titled "Question Time" but that was before Banksy made subtle changes to it after it was included in an exhibition at the Bristol Museum. From the New York Times:
After a dramatic 13 minutes of competition, in which as many as 10 bidders were involved, at least five of them in the room, it was finally knocked down to a telephone buyer. At one point the hammer was poised to fall at £6.4 million, but a bidder at the back of the room flung up his hand at the last second, before finally giving way to the winning telephone bid...
The artist’s previous auction high was set in 2008 for the painting, “Keep It Spotless,” a collaborative work by Banksy and Damien Hirst, which sold for $1.9 million at a Sotheby’s charity auction.
(Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)
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Listen to the wonderful outsider musician Daniel Johnston, who died last week, cover The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows." The cover was included on the 2006 compilation "Do It Again: A Tribute to Pet Sounds."
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The National Sound Library of Mexico has found an audio recording of what is most likely painter Frida Kahlo reading her essay "Portrait of Diego" in the early 1950s. It was recorded for the pilot episode of radio show El Bachiller. From The Guardian:
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The episode featured a profile of Kahlo’s artist husband Diego Rivera. In it, she reads from her essay Portrait of Diego, which was taken from the catalogue of a 1949 exhibition at the Palace of Fine Arts, celebrating 50 years of Rivera’s work...
In the press release, Mexico’s secretary of culture, Alejandra Frausto, said if it is indeed Kahlo’s voice – a claim which authorities continue to investigate – it could be the only audio recording of the artist that exists...
“Frida’s voice has always been a great enigma, a never-ending search,” (library national director Pável) Granados told a press conference. “Until now, there had never been a recording of Frida Kahlo.”
Carolee Schneemann -- a performance art pioneer whose deeply provocative and thoughtful work focused on gender, sex, the body, and power -- died yesterday at age 79. My first exposure to Schneemann's work was in the mid-1980s on a grainy VHS dub of avant-garde art films that also included pieces by Karen Finley and Annie Sprinkle. That videocassette, along with the RE/Search book Angry Women and a few other underground tapes and texts, opened my eyes and mind to a multitude of new genres in feminist art and radical thought. From an obituary by Andrew Russeth in Art News:
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Schneemann’s corpus of work is so gloriously diverse that it is impossible to summarize with a single defining piece, but among her most famous (and infamous) works is Meat Joy, a 1964 film of a performance featuring eight scantily clad dancers who writhe together, with animals parts soon joining the melee. It’s a bacchanalian display—unapologetic and exploding with pleasure—and an utterly indelible work of art.
“Meat Joy has the character of an erotic rite: excessive, indulgent; a celebration of flesh as material: raw fish, chickens, sausages, wet paint, transparent plastic, rope, brushes, paper scrap,” Schneemann wrote. “Its propulsion is toward the ecstatic, shifting and turning between tenderness, wildness, precision, abandon—qualities that could at any moment be sensual, comic, joyous, repellent.”
Describing the work on another occasion, in terms that could very well serve as a manifesto for her entire career, she said, “The culture was starved in terms of sensuousness because sensuality was always confused with pornography.
Immortal Masks make a lot of masks, prosthetics and horrific creatures we see in films that later end up haunting our dreams. This video shows exactly how they do it. Read the rest
Kareem Waris Olamilekan is a Nigerian artist who paints astounding hyperreal portraits. He's 11. From his Instagram @waspa_art:
I am waspa the bitty artist
Art is my calling
It's in me
I draw, paint and design.
All Africa interview: "My Legs Shook As I Drew the Portrait of French President"
(Thanks Bob Pescovitz!)
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The Hirshhorn Eye (nicknamed "hi") is a new smartphone application that lets visitors to Smithsonian's Hishhorn Museum of Art point their phones at art and hear messages from the artists themselves. Read the rest
This promising new series explores artistic collaboration, and the first episode features Björk and collaborator Jesse Kanda. Read the rest
While wearing eye tracking glasses, seven young people and three professional artists each donned eye tracking glasses and drew the same scene, and some interesting patterns emerged. Read the rest
Over the years, Bruce Gardner has mastered the Japanese craft of hikaru dorodango, polished mud balls that literally mean "shiny dumplings." Read the rest
Information is Beautiful has updated their comparison of artist payments on streaming services, estimating that 2.4 million plays on YouTube will net a whopping $1,472 for an unsigned artist. That's $0.0006 per play! Read the rest
This year, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles gala honored sculptor Jeff Koons who for decades has created incredibly monuments to popular culture, from steel balloon animals to a bronze "Hulk Elvis" to Michael Jackson and Bubbles the chimp in porcelain.
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Canadian artist Maud Lewis lived in a tiny house covered in her paintings, which she sold door to door in Nova Scotia. A biopic of her life, Maudie, is a surprise hit in theaters, reports the BBC.
The film's success has also been spurred by a rather serendipitous find: an unknown Maud Lewis painting found in a thrift shop is being auctioned off for charity, with bids topping C$125,000 ($91,500, £70,685). The work was authenticated by Mr Deacon, a retired school teacher who is now somewhat of a Maud Lewis sleuth. ...
Typically characterised as a "folk artist", Lewis was self-taught and lived her whole life in poverty. Unable to afford things like canvas, she'd paint on anything from scraps of wood and plywood to thick card stock. Her subjects were the things she saw in her everyday life - fishermen, wildlife, flowers and trees.
"Maud was not a person who travelled to other galleries or saw other art, so there's a kind of naivete to it," Noble told the BBC.
Here's the trailer:
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M.C. Escher: Adventures in Perception (1971) is a 20-minute Dutch documentary about the artist and includes scenes of him working in his studio. From Open Culture:
Obsessed with perspective, geometry, and pattern (Escher described tessellation as “a real mania to which I have become addicted”), his images have, by the count of mathematician and Escher scholar Doris Schattschneider, led so far to eleven separate strands of mathematical and scientific research.
The twenty-minute Adventures in Perception, originally commissioned by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offers in its first half a meditation on the mesmerizing, often impossible world Escher had created with his art to date. Its second half captures Escher in the last years of his life, still at work in his Laren, North Holland studio. It even shows him printing one of the three titular serpents, threaded through a set of elaborately interlocking circles, of his very last print Snakes. He never actually finished Snakes, whose patterns would have continued on to the effect of infinity, and even says here of his officially complete works that none succeed, “because it’s the dream I tried for that can’t be realized.”
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