Tag Archives: Art

Dr Seuss- The Artist

Cat Detective in the Wrong Part of Town- A part of Dr Suess Private artwork

When recently reading a young relatives selection of Dr Seuss novels, I was flabbergasted at their creative mite. As a child who never really indulged in the world of Seuess I was left reading the book for myself, engaged by the off-the-wall characters and surreal settings.

Upon further research about Suess I found a great website, (http://www.drseussart.com) about the man behind the children’s books and his personal endeavours which have only recently come to light in the form of numerous public exhibitions of his work.

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I Dreamed I was a Doorman at the Hotel del Coronado

Suess often stayed up late into the night producing fantastic surreal works that are very much in the style of his children’s work, but far more complex in subject matter. These paintings often show Giesel in his alter ego as a cat. The works are in a variety of styles, some are complex landscapes whilst others focus on a single character and the mystery that surrounds them.

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Cat from the Wrong Side of the Tracks

On top of this Suess created a range of unorthodox taxidermy. This was effectively bringing his fictional animalistic characters to life. He did these by combining numerous different aspects of different animals and combining them into a cartoon fantasy animal, with an appropriately fantastical name.

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An example of Dr Suess’ taxidermy; the Goo-Goo-Eyed Tasmanian Wolghast

Giesels career previous to becoming an author was as a political cartoonist. His satirical cartoons often included surreal versions of political leaders and political concepts. His cartoons often had left wing isolationist undertones.

I just though I’d post this as I believe that this work needs to be recognized for what it is, great artwork from a truly unique man. If you want to see more head to the aforementioned website.

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Paul Simonon ICA- Wot No Bike Exhibition

Paul Simonon- Wot No Bike

Just thought I’d try and raise some awareness for the new Paul Simonon exhibition opening at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London on the 21st January to the 6th February.

Simonon is most famous for being the unbelievably cool bass player for The Clash as well as The Good The Bad and The Queen and most recently Gorillaz.

Paul Simonon pictured in his time with Gorillaz

On top of this he is an accomplished artist and his new exhibition promises some interesting still life’s referencing the influence rock’n’roll has had on his life. His work mainly consists of pastel on canvas and has an interesting aesthetic quality that feels very personal. Along with the exhibition a limited edition book with images of the show inside will be available to purchase.

Egg, Bacon, Frying Pan- By Paul Simonon

So if you’re about London in the next few weeks I would definitely give this show a visit.

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What Are You Looking At: 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye- Book Review

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What Are You Looking At: 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye, By Will Gompertz

What Are You Looking At….. is a book detailing the history of modern art for amateurs. Gompertz takes us on a journey through modern art, starting with the impressionists, right up to the hugely popular modern street art movement made popular by Banksy amongst others. The book is split up into the main modern art movements like cubism and abstract art. From here, the author describes the intentions of each movement whilst introducing it’s major players and why they did what they did.

The book takes the standpoint that a lot of people regard modern art to be lacking in skill, with quips like “I could of done that” echoing around modern art galleries. It is a standpoint that many gallery curators would encounter in their everyday lives. It’s a fact that many critics and a great deal of the public don’t particularly see much skill in works like Damian Hirsts ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991’ ,Duschamps ‘Fountain’ or numerous comparable works. It is Gompertz who persistently tries to battle against this mindset in the book and he argues the validity of all modern art throughout.

 

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The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, by Damian Hirst

 

Fountain 1917, replica 1964 by Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968

Marcel Duschamps Fountain

 

This mindset works to varying degrees. If you were of that mindset before reading the book it is great, as it makes you understand the validity of the art. But if you weren’t and you appreciated the art beforehand, then the passages of validation is just hot air.

As a complete amateur to art, this book was exactly the entry point I was looking for. The vast majority of art ‘outsiders’ are intimidated when they try to discuss art in a meaningful way, myself included. But this book is written in such a conversational tone, that it is just engrossing. Gompertz strikes the perfect balance, he doesn’t patronise the reader and he doesn’t bombard them with artistic jargon. This was exactly the way I wanted modern art described to me. Art was of interest to me, but I never felt like I was able to truly understand it or discuss it in any way apart from superficial statements like, “it’s nice to look at”. This book has really helped open my eyes to art and I now feel semi confident when discussing the various movements of modern art.

A problem I found was that the Kindle version had issues. One of these was that the pictures of the art were black and white and not in the best quality. When discussing work like that of Mondrian, you really need to see the pictures in colour. I therefore had to Google all of the images that Gomepertz talks about. This  was time consuming and slightly annoying. But be prepared to do it if you purchase the Kindle version, as it is necessary.

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Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian is an example of artwork that needs to be seen in colour to appreciate.

The book tries to describe modern art as a continuous narrative. I found this really interesting. When talking about a certain artist, Gompertz begins with a short biography, which helps to contextualise the work of the individual. I really enjoyed finding out about the artist and the ideas behind the works, as well as the art itself.

I think this book is the perfect introduction to modern art. Because of this I would give this book a 9 out of 10, it was everything I wanted it to be on purchasing. It gave me the information I craved, told in an engaging and non patronising way. I really enjoyed this book and I would really recommend it to anyone who is interested in art, or those who feel they don’t fully understand modern art. This book has certainly peaked my interest in art and will probably be the first of many art books I purchase in the future.

 

 

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Saving Italy- Book Review

 

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Saving Italy by Robert Edsel

Saving Italy, The Race To Save A Nation’s Treasures From The Nazis, is Edsel’s follow up to the critically acclaimed Monuments Men, which recently became a major motion picture starring George Clooney. As a result of this I expect this book to get more attention, which is great because it truly deserves it, for both the book itself and the families of the Monuments Men.

The book again stars the Monuments Men, a group of academics, sculptors and  artists who enlisted in the army to save the artistic heritage of Europe, and in particular for this book, Italy. The book follows several of the Monuments Men’s journeys through Italy, in particular the journeys of Deane Keller and Fred Hart, two contrasting individuals who disagreed regularly but pulled together for the cause.

On top of the journey of the monuments men, the book documents the extensive looting operation of the Nazi’s. In particular it follows Karl Wolff, the leader of SS troops in Italy. These moments also include more general war information and history about the Nazi’s occupation of fascist Italy. This ongoing narrative is splendidly put together by Edsel who manages to weave the stories of several individuals together into a coherent, somewhat sequential collection of events .

What really makes this book shine, is the sheer wealth of research that Edsel and others have put into it. This is all that is needed to allow this staggering true story to shine. The story includes genuinely draw dropping factual moments , moments that see some of the greatest cultural treasures in the world at risk. The sheer rate of Nazi looting takes a lot to be believed, but throughout, Edsel recounts the events as they’ve been reported, rather than dealing with the Nazi’s in a hyperbolic way. This is a positive way of dealing with the issue as it makes the book appear more reliable.

Their are touching moments to this book. these come in the form of letters that the men and wives exchanged. They give a sense of humanity to proceedings. The emotional attachment to the soldiers is not something I expected when picking up the book, it serves to add another dimension to the intrigue.

It’s important to add that their is no need to read the previous books to enjoy this one, if you haven’t it will probably result in you reading the previous episodes, as this novel is unlike anything I have ever read, it brings together art, culture, war and humanity in a way that remains refreshing even after reading the previous instalments. It poses the unanswerable question of how valuable art is and what lengths humans should go to protect our cultural heritage.

A negative point about this book is that if you aren’t aware of what the cultural objects are, it’s hard to imagine the scenes in the book. As a complete amateur in artistic history, I had no idea who some of the artists in question were and therefore how priceless their works of art are. I can see that this could take away some of the meaning of the book, due to blind ignorance. However I liked to see every piece of art that was being mentioned so that I could imagine what it meant to the Monuments Men when they saw these sacred items. I did this simply by Googling the works of art just to get a feel for them. Also some parts of the book slow the pace considerably, most notably when talking about the more military history of the war in Italy. I sometimes found these to be of unnecessarily dense detail, which distracted me from the trials and tribulations of the Monuments Men. However these military moments are thankfully short-lived and the action resumes within a couple of pages.

Overall I would give this book an 8.5 out of 10. Due to the book being of a unique nature. This is not just another war novel! It’s an exciting, narrative driven account of an almost unbelievable historical event.

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