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The Sculls: How One Couple Transformed the Contemporary Art Market

Robert and Ethel Scull were one of the most revolutionary art collectors of the 20th century, who started many of the practices now common in the art world. They used art to brand themselves and gain access to the old-money, very exclusive society circles in Manhattan which they were not born into. After collecting some of the most important works of the Abstract-Expressionist and Pop-Art movements they became icons on the New York art scene. Watch to find out more about how the Scull’s transformed the art market into what it is today…

Walter Sickert: Sex, Art, and Murder

Walter Sickert is an artist who was influential in the British avant-garde art movement, and his works went on to inspire the big names in contemporary art we know today. However, Sickert also led a dark and somewhat bizarre life, causing some to think that he was Jack the Ripper. Watch to find out more….

Images in Video:

1. William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The Birth of Venus, 1879

2. Alexandre Cabanel, The Birth of Venus, 1863

3. Edouard Manet, Olympia, 1863

4. James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold (The Falling Rocket), c. 1875

5. Edgar Degas, Singer with a Glove, 1878

6. Walter Sickert, What Shall We Do For The Rent?, c. 1908

7. Walter Sickert, Summer Afternoon, c. 1907-09

8. Walter Sickert, La Hollandaise, c. 1906

*Images used under fair use for educational purposes

The Vogels: Million-dollar Art Collecting on a Librarian’s Salary

The Vogels are some of the most interesting contemporary art collectors because they amassed a collection worth millions on income of a librarian. Watch to find out how, on such a small budget, this extraordinary couple were able to collect a little under 5,000 works of important conceptual art. 

Featured Works:

  1. Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 1975/97
  2. David Salle, Untitled, 1995
  3. Takashi Murakami, Oval, 2000
  4. John Chamberlain, Untitled, 1962
  5. Sol LeWitt, Maquette for Complex Form MH #10, 1990

*Disclaimer- I do not own any of the images shown in this video.

Aya Takano: Manga and Sci-Fi in Contemporary Art

One of my favorite living artists is Aya Takano, who lives and works in Japan, and takes her deep knowledge of sci-fi and manga to inspire her art. The result are celestial and heavenly paintings which transport the viewer to another realm.

List of Images shown:

1- Aya Takano, Toward Eternity & A Night Walk (2 works) , 2000.

2- Aya Takano, Noshi & Meg On Earth, Year 2036, 2005.

3- Takashi Murakami, Flower Smile, 2011. 

4- Takashi Murakami, Murakami-kun Quel Surprise et Quel Dommage, 2009. 

5- Aya Takano, THE FISH IN BEIJING REALLY DELICIOUS GLUB GLUB, 2008. 

6- Aya Takano, Noshi and Megu Fly in the Sky, 2002.

7- Aya Takano, Untitled, 2004.

8- Aya Takano, Earth, 2006

9- Aya Takano, Let’s go into the World, 2008.

*Disclaimer- I do not own any of the images shown*

Lautrec to Warhol: The Birth of Celebrity Culture

This weeks video is about one of the fathers of modern advertisement, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who’s privileged life wasn’t as great as its seemed, but his hardship and deformity birthed a body of work that was entirely profound and era-defining. Watch to learn about how this artist birthed modern day advertising, celebrity culture, and even went onto inspire future artists such as Andy Warhol. 

List of Images:

1. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec with Tremolada, standing next to Jules Chéret’s 1889 poster, Bal du Moulin Rouge, Place Blanche, ca. 1890. Photograph.

2. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, At the Moulin Rouge, 1892-95.

3. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, The Englishman (William Tom Warrener) at the Moulin Rouge, 1892.

4. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, The Seated Clowness (Mademoiselle Cha-uka-o) (from the series Elles), 1896.

5. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Moulin Rouge: La Goulue, 1891.

6. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Divan Japonais, 1892.

7. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, May Belfort, 1895.

8. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jane Avril, 1893. *Disclaimer- I do not own any of the images shown in this video*

Body Painting: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga

Welcome to my second video on one of my favorite abstract painters, Kazuo Shiraga. Shiraga is unlike most painters, however, because he paints using his legs and feet not his hands. The result of this unusual method are vibrant paintings full of movement and energy.

*Disclaimer-I do not own any of the images shown in this video

The Old Jail Art Center

While travelling through West Texas recently I was looking up historical destinations in the area to visit. Frontier forts, Old West ghost towns, and ranches came up in my search, along with the Old Jail Art Center in Albany, the county seat of Shackelford County. Situated in a tiny town of not even 2,000 people, this museum is home to extraordinary paintings donated by various locals made rich by oil. The collection includes monumental works from Modigliani, Caillebotte, and Renoir to Picasso and Grant Wood, including many other artistic heavy-weights whose works are much more likely to be hanging on walls in New York or Paris than the middle of Texas oil country. Viewing works like this in any setting is very exciting, but against the backdrop of a re-purposed 19th century jail house in a frontier town made it an even more unique experience.

The most outstanding work in the modestly sized, yet incredibly valuable collection was Young Girl with Braids (1918) by Amedeo Modigliani. The girl is a classic example of a Modigliani woman, with an almond shaped head and empty, lozenge eyes, but her orange-tinted skin, colored by the sun and braided hair confirm the girls’ young age. Painted against a color-blocked field of muted tones, the young girl stands out, imbuing the work with a vibrant, youthful energy and a hint of aloof absence. I love Modigliani’s portraits of women, so encountering this painting, especially in this remote location was such an amazing experience.

Modigliani’s Young Girl with Braids wasn’t the only youthful girl gracing the walls of the Old Jail Art Center. Immediately next to her hung Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Woman with Hat, (1896), a whimsical and saccharine portrait rendered in soft pastel tones characteristic of the Impressionist. It was portraits like these, especially from Renoir, that featured young women that first made me fall in love with art when I was little. Seeing this Renoir painting was a nostalgic experience recalling the many afternoons I sat in my living room as a six-year-old flipping through my parent’s coffee table books of Renoir and other Impressionists to find pictures of other girls my age in pretty clothes. It was a nice reminder of how I first became interested in learning about art and how simple images such as Woman with Hat kicked off a life-long obsession with art.

I was so happy to find this museum. Visiting the Old Jail Art Center was a truly unforgettable experience. It is a haven of beautiful artworks and history in an otherwise desolate place.

Looking at drawings by Pablo Picasso

Amedeo Modigliani, Young Girl with Braids (1918)

Gustave Caillebotte, Paysage avec Riviere (c. 1888)

Auguste Renoir, Woman with Hat, (1896),

Detail of Woman with Hat, (1896),

Henri Fantin-Latour, Still Life of Roses, 1899

Richard Prince’s ‘Untitled (Cowboy)’ at LACMA

I recently visited LACMA’s exhibit of American artist Richard Prince’s ‘Untitled (Cowboy)’ photographic series in which Prince takes “re-photographs”, essentially photographing old Marlborough ads from magazines, and blows the images up to large scale artworks. Prince does not try to mask the fact that the photographs are not his own, in fact Prince leaves in the centerfold from the magazine that the ad was originally in which appears as a taped line down the center of the work. The result are works that evoke the idyllic Wild West but which also spark debate on appropriation of other artists work and the existence of originality.

Many believe that what Prince does, by taking other people’s photographs and basically exhibiting them as his own work, is stealing and makes the work worthless as a mere copy. I, however, believe that artists can use whatever material they please to craft their works. Working in the Duchampian tradition, Prince takes “ready-made” photographs and slightly manipulates them into his final product. Some say it is fraud, others say it is art and maybe it is this precise debate that Prince is aiming to inspire in those who view his work.  What is your take on Prince’s re-photographs?

All work shown is by Richard Prince apart of his “Untitled (Cowboy)” series and all photographs of the artwork were taken by me.

New Contemporary Art at the MFAH

When I am back in Houston I like to visit my favorite art spots and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is always at the top of my list. The room containing post-War American art is my particular favorite. It houses seminal works by artists such as Franz Kline, Jackson Pollack, Hans Hoffman and Willem De Kooning. In my latest visit I was happily surprised to see that the museum has added more works by important female Abstract Expressionists, namely Elaine De Kooning and Joan Mitchell. Elaine De Kooning’s 1959 painting “Untitled (Standing Bull)” and Mitchell’s “Tournesols (Sunflowers)” from 1976 are some of the incredible new additions to the post-War room at the MFAH. These works are both monumental in scale and, although both completely abstract, reference nature–for De Kooning its the bulls from New Mexico and for Mitchell its dying sunflowers.

De Kooning and Mitchell weren’t the only recent female additions to the museum walls. Kara Walker’s “Slaughter of the Innocents (They Might be Guilty of Something” from 2016 was added to the main lobby of the museum. The enormous work is done in Walker’s signature silhouette cutouts and continues her narrative of racism and slavery in antebellum America.

I was very pleased to see that many of the new additions to the MFAH walls were from modern and contemporary female artists. Hopefully, as the museum opens its new space for contemporary art, more of their outstanding permanent collection of modern art and especially that of women can be put on view.

Joan Mitchell, Tournesols (Sunflowers), 1976.

Joan Mitchell, Tournesols (Sunflowers), 1976.

Elaine De Kooning, Untitled (Standing Bull), 1959.

Detail of Elaine De Kooning’s, Untitled (Standing Bull), 1959.

Kara Walker, Slaughter of the Innocents (They Might be Guilty of Something), 2016.