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.

Claes Oldenburg and the Art of the Everyday

Welcome back to another video blog! Today’s video is about one of my favorite pop artists, Claes Oldenburg. Oldenburg stands out to me as a really fascinating figure in the movement of pop-Art which came out as a reaction against the dominant school of Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s and 1960s. Instead of following Abstract Expressionism’s values of art elevated above the realm of everyday life, pop-Art strove to plant art firmly within the banal reality of every-day existence. By creating monumental works of art that depict nothing exciting, just everyday objects one encounters every day and often overlooks due to their banality, Oldenburg forces the viewer to think about himself, society, politics, and beauty in an entirely unique way.

“Floor Cake,” 1962

“Soft Toilet,” 1966

“Two Cheeseburgers, with Everything,” 1962

 

Jasper Johns “Diver”

A work that really inspired me this week was a 1962 painting by Jasper Johns titled “Diver.” I was in a lecture this week in one of my art history classes and this particular painting was briefly discussed, however it really stuck out to me as an incredible amalgamation of many of the themes Johns focused on throughout his career.

This 14-foot-long canvas in a private collection is divided into three registers (although the painting contains five panels): the far left including a “device circle”, the middle consisting of a grayscale, and the far right containing Johns’ signature encaustic strokes of primary color.  Examining a single canvas by Johns can be difficult because they are often aloof and seemingly meaningless in their banality, so combining three of his major motifs: grayscale, the “device circle”, and his signature thick strokes of color with text can be even more of a complex and daunting task. I do not think, however, that the object of this painting is to make the viewer decipher it, but rather to merely see it and understand its relation to viewer as a unique individual.

Johns was fairly vocal about his thoughts on interpreting his works, and, any art work for that matter. He thought that language and trying to grasp for an overall meaning in his works corrupted the experience of looking at art. He was quoted saying “Everybody is of course free to interpret the work in his own way. I think seeing a picture is one thing and interpreting it is another.”

Thus I do not appreciate “Diver” for the meaning I think I see in it, but rather its visual effects and the way I interact with it as an individual viewer. Its vibrant and contrasting colors, combinations of handicraft and industry, and text and image, interest me because I do not understand what it means, but it engages me in such a way that provokes an inner dialogue about not only the purpose of art but also the function of an artist.

What do you think about Jasper Johns’ “Diver”?

 

Citations 

Photograph: https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/1996/johns/pages/johns.diver.html