Wayne White

Wayne White
At one point Wayne White was a set designer for Pee-wee’s Playhouse, he also directed some stand-out music videos, most notably Peter Gabriel’s Big Time.

In a desire to do something “180 degrees different from Pee-wee”, White decided to take up painting, with the intention of doing landscape painting, and began to teach himself traditional oil painting techniques.

But White’s weird side kept intruding, with monsters and things creeping into the landscapes, until one occasion that changed his direction in an even odder way.

He had purchased a cheap mass-produced landscape reproduction with the intention of using the frame; and on a whim, took the otherwise to be discarded reproduction and painted a phrase on it in 3-D lettering, as if the letters were physical objects in the scene.

The response from his friends and associates was so dramatic that he continued a series of similar paintings of words painted on 1960’s and 1970’s reproductions of 19th Century romantic landscapes.

Since then has become much noticed, and has had seven solo shows, many at major galleries; the latest of which is at Mirelle Mosler Ltd in New York until July 25th, 2009.

The idea of painting words into pictures isn’t new, nor is the idea of one artist painting over reproductions of other artists’ work (Duchamp’s Mona Lisa mustache, L.H.O.O.Q., springs to mind); but White’s take on it, contrasting the deliberately picturesque landscapes with angry, snarky, sad and often vulgar phrases, seems to have hit a chord.

White is originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee and now lives in Los Angeles. A collection of his work, Wayne White: Maybe Now I’ll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve, has just been published by Ammo Books.

(Note: images may be considered NSFW for language.)

[Via Art Knowledge News]


Pruett Carter

Pruett Carter
Pruett Carter was an American illustrator active in the first half of the 20th Century.

Carter was noted primarily for his work in women’s magazines, an area of publishing that was particularly fertile ground for illustrators at the time, but also a rapidly changing filed, in which the demands from art directors moved rapidly from one style to another.

Carter, who initially shared an impressionistic approach with his teacher Walter Biggs, was able to move smoothly into new styles as the century progressed. His negotiation of the changing currents of illustration fashion were no doubt helped by his experience within the industry, having been an art director for Good Housekeeping and Atlanta Journal for a number of years.

He also successfully transitioned from painting in oil to painting in gouache, the fast drying nature of which became an advantage in the production of illustrations on a tight deadline.

His other clients included Ladies Home Journal, Woman’s Home Companion, and McCall’s. Carter was also an influential teacher, He taught illustration in New York at the Grand Central School of Art and in Los Angeles at the Chouinard Art Institute.

Carter’s romance themed illustrations always had an element of dramatic tension, a moment waiting to happen, that made them seem as likely to be illustrating a crime story as a romance.



WolframAlpha is a new search engine, or “computational knowledge engine” from Wolfram Research, creators of mathematical, technical and scientific software.

Unlike Google and other traditional search engines, WolframAlpha doesn’t direct you to web pages on which you might find information on a subject, but instead attempts to provide the information directly in a condensed display. The intention is to provide the ability to ask a question and receive an immediate answer.

In its nascent form the engine is limited in scope and, unsurprisingly given the background of the developer, focused largely on mathematical, scientific and technical information.

However, I found the concept and its potential interesting, and immediately found at least two uses of possible interest to artists and art lovers.

One is the ability to type in the names of two or more artists, in the case above, top, I’ve entered Leonado da Vinci and Michelangelo, and immediately get a short comparison of information such as full name, place and date of birth, ect.; but most of relevance to those interested in art history, a comparison of the two artist’s lifetimes on the timeline of art history.

The other built-in feature I found is the ability to enter color names and get a return with color swatches, designation values in different color systems, and related or complimentary colors.

These features are obviously of limited use at the moment; but the possibilities are tantalizing, and I think this kind of “knowledge engine” will become a tremendous resource, across all fields of endeavor, in the near future.


Michelangelo’s The Torment of Saint Anthony

Michelangelo would insist that he was a sculptor; but like most Renaissance masters, he would create paintings as well. Most of his painted works are in the form of frescos, in which paint is applied directly to wet plaster on a wall or ceiling, as in his renowned frescos for the Sistine Chapel.

Of his paintings on canvas only four are known. Two of these are unfinished and one of them was long in question, a remarkable painting of The Torment of Saint Anthony. This painting was recently purchased by the Kimbell Art Museum and even more recently, has been determined to be the work of Michelangelo’s hand by scholars at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The painting is also notable in that it is the first and only painting by Michelangelo in an American collection. It will be part of the Kimbell’s permanent collection, and will go on display at the Metropolitan Museum of art in New York on June 15, 2009 (though I can’t find reference to this on the Met’s own site).

This article on The Guardian shows some detail views of the work, as well as some infrared and x-ray images that reveal changes Michelangelo made as he created the painting (above, lower right).

The painting is in oil and tempera on a wood panel, and is painted after an engraving by Martin Schongauer, Saint Anthony Tormented by Demons (image above, lower left), which Michelangelo had access to and made a color drawing of, as well as this painting.

The story of the torment (or temptation) of Saint Anthony has always been a juicy subject for artists, in that it gives them free license to let their imagination go wild with hallucinatory visions of the tormenting demons. Many great artists have found it fertile ground. There is an article on culture xy about the subject, with interpretations by Bosch, Matthias Grünewald (see my post on Matthias Grünewald), Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí and Salvator Rosa that includes Schongauer’s engraving.

Michelangelo’s version brings Schongauer’s spiky Bosch-like demons to life with rich colors and vibrant textures, as they accost Anthony, their twisted forms a whirl of rage and threat; and their leathery wings lifting him into the air from the edge of a precipice and suspending him above a detailed landscape rendered in hazy atmospheric perspective.

Perhaps the most notable thing about Michelangelo’s The Torment of Saint Anthony is that it represents the artist’s earliest known work, painted when he was twelve or thirteen.


Leo and Diane Dillon

Leo and Diane Dillon
Lionel Dillon and Diane Sorber met while attending Parsons School of Design in New York in 1954. Their initial rivalry evolved into competitive friendship, a romantic relationship and eventually what has become a lasting marriage and artistic partnership.

They call their collaborative artistic approach the “third artist”, viewing themselves as a single artist composed of the greatest strengths of the two individuals, and more capable together than either could be individually. Though not unique, this kind of artistic cooperation is rare and difficult to manage, usually because of the issues artists have with clashes of ego.

The Dillons seem to have found key to working through these issues and have managed a very successful creative relationship. Usually credited as “Leo and Diane Dillon” or “The Dillons”, they are now widely recognized in American illustration and have garnered numerous awards for their illustrations for children’s books, science fiction and fantasy novels and mainstream works; including two Caldecott Medals, several New York Times Best Illustrated Awards, Boston Gobe/Horn Book Awards, Coretta Scott King Awards and the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal.

There is an interview with the Dillons on Locus in which they discuss the evolution and methods of their collaborative process.

Their work delves into a broad swath of cultural influences, and utilizes an equally wide array of media, techniques and stylistic direction, always in an effort to bring relevance to the nature of the work that the illustration is meant to accompany.

Looking over illustrations from the course of their career you will find work that is highly stylized and very graphic, work that is rendered in naturalistic detail and work that combines varying degrees of stylized design and realism.

Their illustrations can be wonderfully specific to the topic of the work, as in their fancifully appropriate illustrations for Nancy Willard’s Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch (image above, top).

The Akron Art Museum in Ohio is currently showing an exhibition called The Global Artistry of Leo and Diane Dillon that runs from now until June 21, 2009.

The Dillons don’t seem to have a dedicated web site, but I’ve assembled some resources below.

There was a book of their work published in 1981, The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon, but it’s out of print. It looks like Ken Steacy is publishing a new one.

Of course, you can also look for some of the many other books they’ve illustrated.

[Exhibition listing via Art Knowledge News]


Living Rock

Living Rock, giant Buddha in Leshan, China
“Living rock” refers to sculptures, monuments and buildings that are sculpted in place, usually out of a mountainside or outcropping of rock, and intended to remain in place; as opposed to most sculptural or carved stone objects for which the stone is transported for carving and the finished work usually transported again and/or assembled in another location.

Some examples of living rock are quite familiar and among the most famous monuments in the world, Mount Rushmore and some of the great monuments of Egypt, for example.

R.J. Evens has assembled a collection of photos on Quazen of some lesser known examples of living rock, both ancient and contemporary: Living Rock: Massive Monuments Sculpted in Situ.

The image above is of a giant Buddha in Leshan, China that is over 70 meters (230ft) in height.

[Via Neatorama]