Monthly Archives: September 2009

Kazuki Takamatsu

Kazuki Takamatsu
At first I thought these images by Japanese artist Kazuki Takamatsu were 3-D depth mattes, renderings of 3-D CGI models in which shades of gray are assigned to areas according to their distance from the virtual camera. (Their white, sculptural quality also brought to mind the paintings of A. Andrew Gonzalez.)

However, even if CGI depth mattes, or something similar, are the source material or inspiration for them, Takamatsu’s finished works are actually gouache paintings, and fairly large in scale as you can see from these photos at Gallery Tomura.

Takamatsu uses the term Distanfeerism to name his style. Other than that, and the fact that he graduated from Tohoku University of Art and Design, I can find very little information about the artist.

Takamatsu’s site is in Japanese, but there are link titles in English.

(Note: the sites linked here may be considered mildly NSFW.)

[Via Jason Kottke]

Winslow Homer: Illustrating America

Winslow Homer: Illustrating America
Those in the art establishment who like to rewrite art history, or simply ignore it, in the defense of their position that illustration is somehow “not art”, conveniently ignore the number of well known artists who also happened to be illustrators.

A case in point is Winslow Homer, widely regarded to be one of the most prominent American artists and renowned as a master of watercolor, whose career as an illustrator is largely glossed over.

Homer worked for over two decades as an illustrator and visual journalist, reporting from the front lines of the Civil War and portraying more bucolic domestic scenes for popular periodicals like Harper’s Weekly.

His powerful and sensitive drawings, full of sunlight and shadow, emotion and atmosphere, were captured for print in astonishingly intricate wood engravings made by professional wood engravers (who are unsung artistic marvels to my mind), who reproduced the artist’s drawings with a beautiful range of tones made from delicate linework.

Wood engraving is a process that takes the age-old concept of woodcuts a step further, using harder wood and cutting into the end grain instead of the normal block surface. That and the use of tools initially developed for metal engraving, notably the burin, made for a super-fine line that gave an almost photographic appearance.

Homer’s wood-engraved illustrations are the focus of Winslow Homer: Illustrating America, an exhibition organized by the Brooklyn Museum (and taken largely from their collection) and currently showing at the Jersey City Museum in New Jersey.

The exhibition runs until December 23, 2009, and is accompanied by a complimentary exhibit called Hudson Views: A Celebration of the River that features wood engraved illustrations by other artists from similar periodicals.

There isn’t an online gallery for the exhibition, but you can view many of the illustrations in the Brooklyn Museum’s collection.

As these illustrations were mass produced, many are available from dealers in prints and etchings. I’ve listed a few other resources below.

Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus comes to Chicago

Caravaggio Supper at Emmaus
Caravaggio’s striking painting The Supper at Emmaus is one of the most respected and influential paintings in the canon of Western Art.

The occasion of the painting crossing the Atlantic to be on display at The Art Institute of Chicago is an occasion to be noted; similar to the significant visit of Vermeer’s The Milkmaid to the Met in NYC.

The rarity of Caravaggio paintings in U.S. museums in general makes the visit of what is perhaps his most significant work even more worthy of note.

In exchange for the loan of the Art Institute’s The Crucifixion by Francisco de Zubaran, the painting will be on loan from The National Gallery, London to the Art Institute from October 10, 2009 to January 31, 2010.

Caravaggio’s display of virtuosity here is well known (in spite of the oddly disproportionate rendering of the right hand of the disciple to our right). The painting is also fascinating for the compositional choices the artist has made, the fingers extending off canvas at right, the about-to-stand position of the foreground figure, the rich detail of the still life arrangement on the table, the dramatic shadows against the wall, seemingly in contradiction to the direction of light in other parts of the painting, and the interplay between the figures and the directions of their gazes.

Caravaggio painted two versions of this scene, separated by time, space and widely different circumstances in the artist’s life; as reflected in the dark, subdued version in Milan, a stark contrast to the richly colored, dramatic composition of the London painting.

Scott Musgrove

Scott Musgrove
Scott Musgrove is a painter, illustrator, comics artist and “Co-executive Director of the National Institute of Creative Biology”. The latter self-appointed title refers to his new imaginary bestiary The Late Fauna of Early North America: The Art of Scott Musgrove.

Musgrove is the creator and producer of the Fat Dog Mendoza TV series, which was based on his comic book of the same name, published by Dark Horse Comics. He is also the artist and writer for Loose Teeth, published by Fantagraphics Books and has had work included in a number of comics anthologies.

Lately, Musgrove has been focusing on gallery art, in particular his series of fanciful animals, in the portrayal of which he sees himself as continuing in the tradition of James Audubon (if Audubon’s subjects were from another planet, perhaps).

His whimsical take on various fauna are portrayed in compositions that combine a cartoon-like sensibility in their forms with rendereing in a detailed painting technique that speaks to his declared influences of Carlos Crivelli, Jan van Eyck and Heironymous Bosh, along with contemporary artists like Botero and Odd Nerdrum.

Musgrove’s web site includes galleries of his paintings, arranged into categories like “Accidential Organisms” and “Natural Alchemy”, along with watercolors and a section on Fat Dog Mendoza.

He also maintains a blog, in which he goes into more detail about his projects, and in which you can find out more about the new book and the limited edition version; and also see his work in place in an exhibition space, giving you a feeling for its scale.

There is an article on Wired with some large images, an interview on Millionaire Playboy, an additional gallery on the beinArt Surreal Art Collective and a gallery (scroll down) and short bio on Jonathan Levine Gallery.

MoMA’s Monets


In the later years of his life Claude Monet largely devoted himself to painting the gardens he had built at his home in Giverny, in particular a series of over 200 paintings of Nymphaes, or water lilies, from the Japanese style pond that was the centerpiece of the smaller half of his gardens.

Three of these form a mural sized triptych that is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where for years they were in their own space, somewhat aside from the main bustle of the museum.

They have not been on view in their original relationship since 2001, and were not reinstalled during the museum’s extensive renovations in 2004.

The MoMA has now put them on view, to the delight of Monet lovers in NY, in an installation accompanied by smaller but related works, two loans from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and, from their own collection, The Japanese Footbridge, a stunning counterpoint to the serene waterlillies, ablaze with a maelstrom of fall colors that would have set Van Gogh on his ear.

The installation is on view until April 12, 2010.

Pandore

Pandore
Pandore (Pandora) is a superb animated short by Marion Stinghe, Meryl Franck, Benoît Guillaumot, Nicolas Caffarel and Elen Le Tannou, students in their third year as Animation majors at Gobelins, l’école de l’image, a visual communications school in Paris.

Unlike the introductory shorts done by Gobelins students for the Annecy Film Festival each year, this one makes use of CGI, though wonderfully handled. And unlike many of the animated films coming out of Hollywood these days, it has an entertaining and original story (in the space of two and a half minutes). Pandore takes the Pandora legend and gives it a nice twist.

[Via Animation Blog]