Saturday, January 20, 2007

Two photos by Joel-Peter Witkin

"I.D. Photograph from Purgatory: Two Women with Stomach Irritations" (1986, New Mexico) by Joel-Peter Witkin

"The Bra of Joan Miró" (1982, New Mexico) by Joel-Peter Witkin

Joel-Peter Witkin (1939, Brooklyn, New York City) is an American photographer.

Witkin claims that his vision and sensibility were initiated by an episode he witnessed when he was just a small child, a car accident that occurred in front of his house in which a little girl was decapitated. He also claims that the difficulties in his family were an influence for his work too. His favourite artist is Giotto, but the most obvious artistic influences on his work are Surrealism, particularly Max Ernst, and Baroque art. His photographic techniques draw on early Daguerreotypes and on the work of E. J. Bellocq.

His work often deals with such themes as death, corpses (or pieces of them) and various outsiders such as dwarves, transsexuals, hermaphrodites and physically deformed people. His complex tableaux often recall religious episodes or famous classical paintings. Because of the transgressive nature of the contents of his pictures, his works have been labeled exploitative and have sometimes shocked public opinion. His art was often marginalized because of this challenging aspect.

He employs a highly intuitive approach to the physical process of making the photograph, including scratching the negative, bleaching or toning the print, and an actual hands-in-the-chemicals printing technique. This experimentation began after seeing a 19th-century ambrotype of a woman and her ex-lover who had been scratched from the frame.


images | text

"Der frühe Vogel fängt den Wurm" by Martin Pudenz

"Der frühe Vogel fängt den Wurm" by Martin Pudenz (1948)

The title translates as "The early bird catches the worm".


Friday, January 19, 2007

"I've Learned my Lesson" by Lauren Bergman

"I've Learned my Lesson" by Lauren Bergman


"The Conquest of Happiness" (2005) by Oliver Pietsch

"The Conquest of Happiness" (2005) by Oliver Pietsch, Video, 45 min, Courtesy of Goff + Rosenthal, Berlin

Oliver Pietsch, an emerging video artist and filmmaker working in Berlin, demonstrates that in art and filmmaking there are no "final hits" - no conclusive imagery or idea in film that cannot be recycled, renewed and reinterpreted. Born in Munich in 1972, the artist lives and works in Berlin. He has received numerous awards for his work and has been in many group exhibitions across Europe.

Pietsch's film, The Conquest of Happiness, forty-five minutes long, took two years of research and editing to finish. It encompasses more than three hundred drug-related video clips taken from the history of film. It is organized according to the particular drug being addressed--heroin, cocaine, marijuana, etc--and set to a soundtrack devised by Pietsch. The soundtrack includes music by the Eggs, the Mooseheart Faithstellar Groove Band, Neil Young, F.S. Blumm, Neu, Pass into Silence, Pascal Schäfer, Spaceman 3, Roy Orbinson, John Carpenter, M.T. Fern, Brian Eno, and Daniel Lanois. Music is a key element of production for Pietsch, as he says it "has to work with the pictures, to hold all the different material together like glue and at the same time transport a certain feeling or point of view." Says Pietsch, "'The Conquest of Happiness' is equal parts documentation, experimental film and music clip. It is a compilation film about drug-use and its representation in movies."

There's a video of Cat Power's "Maybe Not" directed by Oliver Pietsch on YouTube.

Sources: text | image

"Untitled" (1998) by Luciano Castelli

"Untitled" (1998) by Luciano Castelli (1951), ink on paper, 100 by 70.5cm, estimated at 4,000—6,000 GBP

LOT 569 from the Contemporary Art Auction at Sotheby's London, Olympia (7 Feb 2007)

Another drawing with boobs here.

"Madonna laughing and holding her breasts" (1994) by Bettina Rheims

"Madonna laughing and holding her breasts" (1994) by Bettina Rheims (1952, Paris), estimated at 10,000—15,000 GBP

LOT 545 from the Contemporary Art Auction at Sotheby's London, Olympia (7 Feb 2007)

Stylistically the present work is linked to Rheims' Chambre Close project of 2002 with its subject, in this case Madonna, posing as a 1930's French prostitute. As with her other young female subjects, Rheims places Madonna in a 'fake reality'. The photograph is meticulously staged and the production flawless, complete with stylists, set design and careful lighting. The artist's concern with detail extended to scouring Paris to find the exact wallpaper she wanted for this recreation of a French hotel.

Her previous experiences as a model most likely contributed to the artist's clear understanding of the seductive language of media imagery so strong in this work. Typical of contemporary photography, the image is brimming with sensuality, exploring themes of female glamour, sexuality and power.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Venus of Willendorf (23,000 BCE)

Christopher L.C.E. Witcombe writes that

"Even if she had feet, though, it seems unlikely that she was meant to stand up. [..] In fact, her most satisfactory, and most satisfying, position is being held in the palm of the hand. When seen under these conditions, she is utterly transformed as a piece of sculpture. As fingers are imagined gripping her rounded adipose masses, she becomes a remarkably sensuous object, her flesh seemingly soft and yielding to the touch."

It's a palaeolithic wank object!

We learn more from this edited quote from wikipedia:

Venus of Willendorf is an 11.1 cm (4 3/8 inches) high statuette of a female figure, discovered at a paleolithic site near Willendorf, Austria, in 1908. It is carved from limestone and tinted with red ochre.

It is estimated to have been carved 22,000 to 24,000 years ago. Very little is known about its origin, method of creation, or cultural significance.

The Venus is not a realistic portrait but rather an idealization of the female figure. Her vulva, breasts, and swollen belly are very pronounced, suggesting a strong connection to fertility. Her tiny arms are folded over her breasts, and she has no visible face, her head being covered with what might be coils of braids, eyes, or a kind of headdress.

The statue's feet don't allow it to stand on its own. Due to this it has been speculated that it was meant to be held, rather than simply looked at. Rather than an icon of a Mother Goddess some archaeologists have called it merely a good-luck charm. Others have raised the possibility that it was designed to be inserted vaginally, perhaps as a fertility charm, to become pregnant. Yet others have suggested that the object could have been a male masturbatory aid. The purpose of the carving is subject to much speculation.

I love the idea of an prehistoric masturbatory aid. To help scholars further investigate this hypothesis I have compiled a small selection of modern day masturbatory aid photographs featuring women with "tiny arms are folded" over very large breasts (photos courtesy of

Homework assignment: (anonymously) post links to further examples of the Venus of Willendorf in contemporary pornography in the comments!

"Georgia O'Keeffe" (1918) by Alfred Stieglitz

Image source and previous post on Alfred Stieglitz (and Georgia O'Keeffe).

"Untitled (In the garden)" and "Untitled (out of the house)" (2005) by Dr. Lakra

"Untitled (out of the house)" (2005) by Dr. Lakra, ink on vintage magazine, 7.48 x 5.43 inches

Previous post on Dr. Lakra.

Image sources: here and here.

"Camilla Queen of the Jungle Empire" (1963) by Mel Ramos

Image source and previous post on Mel Ramos.

"Untitled (Martha Rosler Collage)" (2001-2002) by Carol Bove

Carol Bove (born 1971 in Geneva, Switzerland) is a New York City based artist and collector.

Her work includes drawings and installations which concern the social, political, and artistic movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Ink drawings of nude women taken from "Playboy" magazines from this time period or inspired by a vintage Newsweek picture of Twiggy, or sculptures made up of bookshelves with books from the same time are examples of Bove's work.

sources: image | text

Two paintings (1977-1978) by Franz West

Untitled (1978) by Franz West, paint on magazine ad in artist's frame

Franz West's (Austria, 1947) experimental sculpture, furniture and objects fuse Freud with form, sculpture with painting. Using brightly-coloured aluminium, papier-mâché or collage, West creates images and situations bordering on the taboo. [..] Franz West's forefathers are the Viennese Actionists - 1960s performance artists who used the body to trigger cathartic experiences. West gives form to attitudes through a series of plaster body parts or off-the-peg performance props, forcing the body into poses which are part hilarious, part agonised.


Franz West is fascinated by images in glossy magazines and the allure of soft-porn and the motor industry. In a playful critique of consumer culture, he paints over these advertisements to isolate images and highlight their absurdity. West has also become famous for the furniture-sculpture he has been making since the 1980s, inviting us to lie on his couches to relax, socialise and become transformed into artist's model, psychiatrist's patient and work of art. His offer of participation also extends to other artists - Martin Kippenberger, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Wolfgang Tillmans have all contributed to West's subversive, sociable and aesthetically challenging vision.


image source: here and here

Monday, January 15, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sculpture by John DeAndrea

This installation by sculptor John DeAndrea was exhibited at the Sorry, We're Closed gallery in Brussels, Belgium in 2005.

That gallery is located in the heart of Brussels and isn't a classical gallery but a vitrine / window / white cube only open towards the street, which is always closed and lit day and night.

John DeAndrea's (1941, Denver, Colorado) realistic figures are cast from life and rendered in minute detail. Hair is set into plastic scalps, brows and pubes a few strands at a time. The oil polychrome 'skins' reveal moles, tiny veins, and scars. For draped works, garments are taken apart and reassembled on the fully painted bodies.

"These amazing simulacra are among the most enduring legacies of Photorealism, and they have gained John DeAndrea an international reputation."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Six works by Martin Eder

"Memoirs of My Nervous Illness" by Martin Eder, watercolour and graphite on paper
"Memoirs of My Nervous Illness" by Martin Eder, watercolour and graphite on paper
"Don't Trust Violence" (2003) by Martin Eder, 2003, Oil on canvas, 53 x 42 inches (framed), Rosette Delug Collection
"Dead Star / Black Hole / Shine On My Little Light / Big Pancake Peacefest" (2000) by Martin Eder, polystyrol, 7x8 m
"My sick eyes search for you" (2002) by Martin Eder, installation with 16 watercolours
"My sick eyes search for you" (2002) by Martin Eder, installation with 16 watercolours

Martin Eder (1968, Augsburg, Germany) lives in Berlin.

Don't be fooled by the initial cuteness of his paintings and watercolours. It's all about context, baby. His paintings, drawings, watercolours, videos and photography are often part of quite gothic installations and performances. The monumental "Dead Star [..]" sculpture above consists of a vast amount of polystyrene insulation boards, bought from your average DIY store and piled on top of each another, arranged in tiers, sawn, snapped, torn into shape, painted black and finally glued together.

Some small samples of his work can be seen through this page but most of the images above are taken from PDF catalogues found on this page. The "Don't Trust Violence" painting was found here.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

"Morning in a City" (1944) by Edward Hopper

On view until April 15, 2007 at the The Williams College Museum of Art (Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA) is the exhibition Drawing on Hopper: Gregory Crewdson/Edward Hopper, an intimate glimpse inside the creative process of two artists separated by time but connected through a single subject: the psychological landscape of American culture.

The exhibition is an opportunity to study a singular masterpiece by Edward Hopper in a new light and in the context of a contemporary artist's view of inspiration and influence. Hopper's Morning in a City, one of the WCMA's most popular paintings, recently underwent conservation treatment at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center to remove several layers of varnish and wax resin residue that had discolored over time. As a result of this treatment, the painting is now as brilliant as when it was first painted in 1944, closer to the artist's original intentions and open to new interpretations. The surface of the painting once again shows Hopper's remarkable degree of subtle brushwork and varied color. Displayed alongside are nine preparatory drawings or "sketches", on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art, offering a rare opportunity to examine the artist's working process. The sketches allow viewers to consider alternate versions of this painting and to see how Hopper arrived at the final composition, with its tense, unresolved narrative.