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.”
Read the rest
The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida has reanimated Salvador Dalí as a deepfake video experience. The "Dalí Lives" video installation opens in April on screens throughout the galleries.
As Dali once said, “[I] believe in general death but in the death of Dalí absolutely not. [I] believe in my death becoming almost impossible.”
From a press release:
The Museum began this immersive project by collecting and sharing hundreds of interviews, quotes, and existing archival footage from the prolific artist. GS&P used these extensive materials to train an AI algorithm to “learn” aspects of Dali’s face, then looked for an actor with the same general physical characteristics of Dali’s body. The AI then generates a version of Dali’s likeness to match the actor’s face and expressions. To educate visitors while engaging with “Dali Lives,” the Museum used authentic writings from Dali himself – coupled with dynamic present-day messages – reenacted by the actor.
Read the rest
I love Yuri Shwedoff's subdued, atmospheric renderings of vestigial technology and the people who still see it, still wear it. The lansdcape wears it, too, and it evokes for me a deeper relationship with technology rather than the darker one often implied by postapocalyptic art. Here it's not disused. If anything it's less alien. It just fits somewhere else in the human imagination. Read the rest
Pedro Friedeberg is a popular Mexican artist whose work encompasses the ideas and iconographies of Catholicism, Hinduism, Aztec Codes, and Occult symbols. Although the Hand Chair (shown below), created in 1962, is his most well-known piece, the 81-year-old artist has a diverse body of work that spans six decades and that includes furniture, paintings, drawings, and sculpture.
During WWII, Freideberg became part of a scene of surrealist artists who rejected the popular type of social and political art of the time. Friedeberg's work explores the absurd, challenges both high and low cultural hierarchies, and combines everyday life with fantasy.
The M+B gallery in Los Angeles is currently showing his solo exhibition, Tetragrammoebius.
Read the rest
The exhibition marks the artist's first solo gallery exhibition in Los Angeles in over three decades and includes recent paintings, furniture, textiles, drawings and sculptures that provide insight into the artist's singular vision. The show runs from September 23 to November 4, 2017.
Parker Paul posted this video, in which the term "quadcopter" refers both to the drone (piloted by Alban Roinard) and the simple but effective mirror symmetry applied to the footage. The music is Zorch, by Oroboros. Read the rest
I'm looking forward to Quadrant, an upcoming, utterly fantastic-looking movie created by Woodrow White and David Lauer. It looks like a collaboration between Devo and Alejandro Jodorowsky. I met Woodrow on a plane a few years ago. He's a fantastic painter (who happens to be the son of artists Wayne White and Mimi Pond). Read the rest
Asaf Hanuka is a celebrated Israeli cartoonist whose astonishing, surreal illustrations serve as counterpoint to sweet (sometimes too-sweet) depictions of his family life, his complicated existence as a member of a visible minority in Israel, the fear he and his family live with, and his own pleasures and secret shames -- a heady, confessional, autobiographical brew that has just been collected into The Realist: Plug and Play
, the second volume of Hanuka's comics.
At Hyperallergic, BB pal Mark Dery mourns the loss of "the Internet's kitschiest, most surreal" flea market and laments its new role as "the world's largest mall."
Read the rest
(In the 1920s,) the Surrealists preferred “Les Puces,” as the flea markets on the outskirts of Paris were called. Andre Breton, the group’s self-appointed leader, wrote in his novel Nadja that the market at Saint-Ouen was “an almost forbidden world of sudden parallels” and “petrifying coincidences,” where unexpected encounters with dreamlike objects lurked around every corner.
EBay, the first e-commerce site, was until recently the web’s kitschier, crummier answer to (cultural critic Walter) Benjamin’s arcades or Breton’s Saint-Ouen. In its early years, its hit-or-miss search engine was conducive to close encounters of the absurd kind. Stumbling around the site, you’d find yourself in some obscure corner, staring in slack-jawed amazement at William Shatner’s kidney stone (auctioned off in 2006 for $25,000) or a Lilliputian suit of armor handcrafted to guinea-pig proportions, guaranteed to keep the dauntless rodent “protected and secure in all situations.” Unlike its sleeker competitor, Amazon, whose algorithms ensure you only see things like those you’ve already seen, eBay seemed, for a while, to facilitate chance meetings with the offbeat and the downright bizarre.
Lists of the most curious, absurd, abject, and grotesque eBay auctions have taken their place in the folklore of consumer culture: the grilled cheese sandwich miraculously emblazoned with an apparition of the Virgin Mary, which sold for $28,000; four golf balls (not just any golf balls; they’d been surgically removed from the belly of a python, who’d mistaken them for hen’s eggs); your advertising slogan tattooed, for $10,000, on some cash-strapped woman’s forehead; a corn flake shaped like the state of Illinois; a Dorito shaped like the pope’s miter; the meaning of life, on offer from a seller who claimed to have “discovered the reason for our existence” and was “happy to share this information with the highest bidder” (which he did, for the dispiritingly small sum of $3.26).
It is always summer in Phoenix. [via] Read the rest
One of Salvador Dalí's unpublished notebooks is up for auction at Sotheby's in Paris. Part of a fantastic array of Dada and Surrealist items for sale by the Bibliothèque R. & B. L. From CNN:
Among what has been deciphered is a page of writing devoted to "cadavres exquis", the address of filmmaker and friend of Surrealists Rene Clair and the name of Corti, a depository of the Surrealists' publications.
The book, currently owned by Bibliotheque R. & B. L., is believed to date from 1930-1935 and Sotheby's estimates it will sell for between $45,000-$56,000 (€40,000-50,000) in an auction in partnership with Binoche and Giquello.
Auction: Bibliothèque R. & B. L. Dada-Surréalisme
Read the rest
The famous Swiss surrealist leaves behind some of the twentieth century's most impressive and startling artwork. Here are our favorite biomechanical wonders.
Hang the Bankers has a set of photos from 1972 surrealist ball hosted by Marie-Hélène de Rothschild at the Château de Ferrières, with Salvador Dali in attendance. Hang the Bankers cites this as evidence of "the underlying ideology and the mind state of the occult elite," which sounds like hogwash to me. I mean, I'm all for reflexively condemning the hyper-rich, but if you're a weird shadowy billionaire aristo, better you should be spending your unimaginable riches on cool dress-up parties than tacky mega-yachts or sabotaging health care bills. Read the rest
Milos "Sholim" Rajkovic is like a Belgradian anti-war Terry Gilliam, who produces the most remarkable surreal animations made from decomposed heads -- authority figures like generals and ranking clerics are a favorite -- filled with weird gears, fleshy pulsing puckers, crazy clocks, tiny frantic people, and more. I could watch this stuff all day long. Read the rest
BB contributor Mark Dery wrote a fascinating rumination on the Spanish surrealist Luis Buñuel, best known for his 1929 short film collaboration with Salvador Dalí, Un Chien Andalou. (Yes, the one with the infamous eyeball-slicing scene, above.) From Dery's essay at Thought Catalog, titled "Thank God I’m An Atheist: Buñuel’s Last Laugh":
Buñuel is a philosopher — a moral philosopher, to be exact, albeit one who makes his case with gleeful, Surrealist savagery, using images dredged from the depths of the unconscious. A sardonic satirist and inveterate practical joker—he once strolled down the boulevard Montparnasse dressed as a nun, complete with false eyelashes and lipstick—he is, at the same time, shadowed by the existential melancholy from which the lapsed Catholic never fully recovers. He loves disguises, and it can’t be mere coincidence that he gets a perverse kick out of passing as a priest. Religion is his abiding theme, there from the first in Un Chien Andalou, in the two priests yoked to the protagonist and dragged unceremoniously across the floor, the dead weight of so much obsolete belief; there at the end in his last movie That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), where the bombing campaign of a gang of absurdist terrorists calling itself the Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus is the backdrop to the movie’s May-December romance (itself fairly explosive!).
"Thank God I’m An Atheist: Buñuel’s Last Laugh" Read the rest
BB contributor Mark Dery says:
Rick Poynor, an unapproachably brilliant writer on design and visual culture, has generously posted at Design Observer the glossary of Surrealist concepts from his catalog to an exhibition of Czech Surrealist works. BB readers should print this out and keep it within handy reach on the night table, to be repurposed as a road atlas for dreaming.
"A Dictionary of Surrealism and the Graphic Image" Read the rest
Before Rimbaud, before the Surrealists, there was Nerval (1808 - 1855), living his life as if it were a lucid dream. Of course, it didn't hurt that his mental skies flickered with the chain lightning of madness—bouts of insanity that condemned him to periodic stays in asylums and, ultimately, self-murder.