Why Warhol painted soup cans

In 1962, Andy Warhol exhibited his famous Campbell's Soup Cans paintings for the first time and cemented his place as a Pop Art powerhouse. Previously, Warhol had bridged his commercial and fine art efforts with paintings based on comic strips and advertisements, but he (rightly) felt that style had already been done by Lichtenstein and others. So why soup cans? Smithsonian has the story in an excerpt from Blake Gopnik's new book Warhol. From Smithsonian:

Warhol’s final breakthrough into ’60s Pop came through an accidental inspiration from a minor dealer on the New York scene named Muriel Latow. She was a flamboyant decorator, three years younger than Warhol, and had hopes of becoming a serious art dealer. Latow has gone down in history as Pop Art’s most important, if accidental, muse. As the story is told—in one of its many, mostly incompatible versions—Latow went to a dinner at Warhol’s house in the fall of ’61 to console him for having been one-upped by Oldenburg and Lichtenstein and others. “The cartoon paintings...it’s too late,” Warhol is supposed to have said. “I’ve got to do something that really will have a lot of impact, that will be different enough from Lichtenstein.” He begged his guests for ideas, and Latow came up with one, but wouldn’t deliver until Warhol handed over a check for $50. “You’ve got to find something that’s recognizable to almost everybody,” she said. “Something you see every day that everybody would recognize. Something like a can of Campbell’s Soup.”

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Thomas Kinkade painting of toilet paper available as puzzle and print for charity

The Kinkade Family Foundation turned up this Thomas Kincade unseen masterpiece "Untitled (Toilet Paper)," c. 1978, oil on canvas, 8" x 10, and have issued it as a puzzle and print. The proceeds benefit the New Art Dealers Alliance's (NADA) fund to support galleries impacted by COVID-19.

The canvas print is $150.00 unframed and $750 framed. The 100-piece puzzle is $45.00.

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Man in 1937 painting appears to be staring at a smartphone

Italian artist Umberto Romano painted the mural above in 1937 in the original Springfield, Massachusetts post office, now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Office Building. Titled "Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield," it's actually the first in a series of murals telling the story of Springfield's history from 1636 to 1936. More details at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum site. But if Romano painted this in 1937, how come the Native American in the bottom middle appears to be staring at a smartphone? From Brian Anderson's riff on the matter in Vice:

My introduction to the man came recently by way of New York City-based writer and historian Daniel Crown, who published an illuminating essay on William Pynchon in The Public Domain Review in 2015. Crown's piece makes one passing mention (in an image caption written by a PDR editor) to the object the man holds, noting how it bears a striking likeness to a smartphone. Romano, who died in 1982 at the age of 77, appears to have made no remarks specifically about the man; whatever clarity the artist could've offered he likely took with him to the grave. Crown's nod to the sitting man, near as I can tell, is the first and only such reference to date. I figured I'd start by reaching out to him.

"To put it in the kindliest possible terms, Romano's so-called 'abstract' aesthetic was willfully ambiguous," Crown told me over email. But it could very well be, he added, that the man quite literally sees himself in the handheld object, looking back at him.

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Self-portrait of van Gogh during psychotic episode, thought to have been a fake, deemed real

Researchers have determined that the above self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh, long thought to have been a fake, was indeed painted by the artist in 1889 while he was suffering from psychosis in a French mental institution. Read the rest

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

Tim Biskup: new interview and book from the great pop surrealist

We've posted on Boing Boing about Tim Biskup's pop surrealist artwork for decades and he's still busier than ever. Most recently, he's opened a new gallery and studio space in Los Angeles called Face Guts, created album art for Lee "Scratch" Perry, and is finally publishing his first monograph, titled Tree of Life. In the new issue of Juxtapoz, Patricia Arquette talks with Tim about his life and work. From Juxtapoz:

You were a punk rocker, right? Do you think that gave you better tools for survival?

Yes. Being able to say, "Fuck it, I don't care," is a very healthy thing. I've often said that the most valuable art supply that you have is right here.

That's your middle finger.

Yes. There's so much of punk rock that is based on loose energy. It's not necessarily about doing everything right. It's about capturing the energy of that moment. There's so much punk rock music that is perfect and there's so much of it that just sounds like trash. I think punk rock taught me how easy it is to make shitty music and how easy it is to make great music. The element that makes the difference is a willingness to work hard on the things that you need to work on and to ignore the things that don't matter. That lesson has followed me through everything in my life. There are a lot of times where I'm like, "Oh, shoot. I'm not doing this part right," but it doesn't matter.

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Where did all of Bob Ross' paintings go?

It's estimated that Bob Ross painted thousands of paintings on his TV show "The Joy of Painting" — but where did they all go? Read the rest

National Parks Service publishes hi-rez scans of Heinrich Berann's iconic, panoramic paintings of America's parks

In the 1980s and 1990s, the National Parks Service commissioned Heinrich Berann to produce gorgeous, panoramic paintings of America's beautiful national parks as part of an advertising campaign; this week the NPS published high-resolution scans of these images for free downloading. Read the rest

The "lost" Leonardo da Vinci painting has been found hanging in a yacht

In 2017, British auction house Christie's auctioned off the painting "Salvator Mundi" by Leonardo da Vinci (or by his workshop, at least) for $450 million. Read the rest

"Invisible ink" features found in Basquiat painting

Art conservator Emily Macdonald-Korth was evaluationg a client's Jean-Michel Basquiat untitled painting from 1981 when she looked at the work under ultraviolet light to reveal any repairs or varnishing. From artnet News:

“I start looking at this thing and I see these arrows,” Macdonald-Korth told artnet News. She flipped the lights back on to make sure she wasn’t imagining things and the arrows disappeared. She flipped the lights off again and there they were: two arrows drawn in what looked like black-light crayon, virtually identical to other arrows drawn visibly on the canvas with red and black oil sticks. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “He basically did a totally secret part of this painting.”

In fact, this isn’t the first time Basquiat has been known to use fluorescent UV materials. In 2012, Sotheby’s London discovered that his painting Orange Sports Figure from 1982—done just months after the one Macdonald-Korth analyzed—contained an invisible-ink signature of the artist’s name in the bottom right corner. But he has never been known to include UV-specific imagery in his work.

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An astronomer's beautiful pastel drawings of the cosmos from the 19th century

In the late 19th century, artist/astronomer Étienne Léopold Trouvelot (1827-1895) painted thousands of stunning works illustrating the beauty and science of the known planets, comets, and celestial phenomena. The Huntington Library near Los Angeles holds 15 of Trouvelot's chromolithographs that were published in 1882 in two portfolios, the Trouvelot Astronomical Drawings:

Initially, the Astronomical Drawings portfolios were sold to astronomy libraries and observatories as reference tools, but as early 20th-century advances in photographic technology allowed for more accurate and detailed depictions of the stars, planets, and phenomena, Trouvelot’s prints were discarded or sold to collectors.

Radiant Beauty: E. L. Trouvelot’s Astronomical Drawings (The Huntington)

See more at Graphicine: "ETIENNE TROUVELOT – ASTRONOMICAL DRAWINGS" (Thanks Anotherone!)

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Translucent backlit fruit slices as fine art

Dennis Wojtkeiwicz paints large-format works of thinly sliced fruit for his Rosettes series, revealing the elegant beauty and symmetry of nature. Read the rest

Robbie Barrat's AI-generated nude paintings make Francis Bacon look like a genteel pre-Raphaelite

Robbie Barrat is generating warped, surreal paintings using artificial intelligence and the results are really something.

Usually the machine just paints people as blobs of flesh with tendrils and limbs randomly growing out - I think it's really surreal. I wonder if that's how machines see us...

Here's Bonnie Burton in CNET:

The results are surreal. Barrat posted many of the final pieces of artwork -- which can only be described as surreal, blobby, swirly naked women -- on Twitter. It's almost like a very intoxicated Salvador Dali and a dizzy Picasso joined forces to make art. ...Barrat's AI-assisted artwork isn't exactly sensual. In fact, most of the nudes look like they are melting on a very hot day.

"The way that it paints faces makes me uncomfortable. It always paints them as like, purple and yellow globs -- that isn't in the training set so I'm actually still not sure why it does that.

I don't like looking at those heads, I really don't.

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British art museum removes a famous 1869 painting of Femme Fatale nymphs

John William Waterhouse's painting, Hylas and the Nymphs (1869), was removed from display at the Manchester Art Gallery in northern England. The museum said it banished the painting to “challenge a Victorian fantasy.”

From Art News:

On the night of January 26, the gallery team and invited collaborators took over the gallery and removed the pre-Raphaelite painting Hylas and the Nymphs (1869) from the wall, as well as postcards of the painting from the shop.

The offending image depicts a mythical scene of bare-chested nymphs tempting Hylas to his death, and is not the only one of its kind in a room devoted to 19th century art that is titled “In Pursuit of Beauty.”

The stunt was filmed as part of a new artwork by Sonia Boyce, who is exploring “gender trouble” in the paintings and wider culture of the 19th century. The full film of the action will be shown in her upcoming retrospective at the gallery, which runs March 23 through September 2.

From Reason:

"For me personally, there is a sense of embarrassment that we haven't dealt with it sooner," Clare Gannaway, the gallery's contemporary art curator, told The Guardian. "Our attention has been elsewhere...we've collectively forgotten to look at this space and think about it properly. We want to do something about it now because we have forgotten about it for so long."

Gannaway also described the painting—and others like it—as old-fashioned for depicting women "either as passive beautiful objects or femmes fatales." She said there were "tricky issues about gender, race and representation."

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Arnold Böcklin's Isle of the Dead as a VR experience

German Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin reimagined "Tomb Island" over and over, pursuing both the scene's dark mystery and its runaway commercial appeal: with the title improved by a canny agent, it became the first great fantasy art wall print. And soon you'll be able to explore each of the variations in virtual reality.

There's precious little to tease the project beyond the trailer embedded above, but I always thought Tomb Island would be the perfect setting for a retro Myst-style mystery adventure game and it looks like I'm going to get exactly what I want.

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Stepping into the trippy, sensational world of artist Bonethrower

Last Saturday on August 5th, the LA venue Rhabbitat held a special release party for the limited edition Adidas Skateboarding x Bonethrower footwear and apparel collection and gave people a chance to step into the trippy, sensational world of artist Bonethrower. Put together by Juxtapoz Magazine and Adidas Skateboarding, the event featured otherworldly sculptures, statues, and paintings by Bonethrower that seemed to come to life through changing, colorful lights and a funky DJ.

Bonethrower was at the event and gave away Adidas Skateboarding x Bonethrower shirts as well as signed posters and skate decks. I had a moment to speak with Bonethrower, who told me that he wants people to have fun when they see his art and to interpret his work in their own way. His art was super fun and psychedelic to be surrounded by for an entire night. One of my favorite pieces at the event was an alien-like throne that people could sit in and put on masks. It was so cool to see everyone interacting and hanging out on this art piece. Be sure to also check out the 200th issue of Juxtapoz magazine which features Bonethrowers’ art.

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Ilya Repin's "Ivan the Terrible and His Young Son Ivan" 1885

I have not seen this painting before. It's called Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on 16 November 1581, and was completed in 1885 by Ilya Repin.

Warped Perspective has an article by Keri O'Shea on the painting:

It took three centuries before this scene was committed to canvas with the gravitas and horror it deserved. The man who proved himself able is arguably Russia’s best-known painter, certainly its best-known Realist painter. That man was Ilya Yefimovich Repin, who returned to historical painting in 1885 to complete ‘Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan’. It is to my mind one of the most haunting pieces of art ever created.

The differences between the Realist style used here and the idealised, unrepresentative portraiture of the day is exaggerated hugely by the savagery of this piece. Repin chose to paint the exact moment of Grozny’s revelation; the awful moment of stillness after the manslaughter of his heir. The two men, one living, one dead, are presented alone in a room whose fire-lit warmth gives the lie to the scene and its circumstances. That warmth, and its crimson finery is ironically juxtaposed with the blood on young Ivan’s head, which is the brightest red here, and the rich, geometric-patterned drapery in the background forms another contrast with Ivan’s curved, inanimate body, fading into nothingness before the grisly focus of the scene. There is evidence of a struggle; furniture is upended, and Ivan’s leg has disarrayed the silk rug beneath their feet – but now all is still.

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