California Literary Review

Art & Design

Art Review: Energy Effects at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver


August 18th, 2010

The exhibition brings such elements together to form a compelling meditation on the extreme reaches of art, technology, and militarism, and on the role of the vast, sun-struck spaces of the American West as an arena for all these forces.

Art Review: An Eakins Masterpiece Restored: Seeing “The Gross Clinic” Anew


July 27th, 2010

The image of Dr. Gross evoked memories of scenes of carnage which Americans, north and south, were trying to forget. Many were not happy to be reminded. In a controversy lasting over the next few years, newspapers and art journals weighed in, with a growing body of negative judgments deflating Eakins’ hopes of a major triumph. The Art Interchange editorialized that “although vigorously treated…” The Gross Clinic “ought never to have left the dissecting room.” “Power it has,” the New York Times proclaimed, “but very little art.”

The Most Offensive Painting Ever Made


July 15th, 2010

Yiull Damaso has achieved a true artistic milestone. He has created what is quite possibly the most offensive image ever made. The BBC reports that the forty-one year old South African artist is completing a large painting depicting former South African president and Nobel Laureate, Nelson Mandela as a corpse in the process of being dissected.

Larry Rivers, NYU, and Child Pornography


July 9th, 2010

How should we respond, however, when sexual abuse is the subject of a piece and a means by which it is created? A recent scandal involving the archives of the late pop artist, Larry Rivers is forcing us to engage with this issue.

Paul Emmanuel: Transitions: Identity Construction in South Africa


June 29th, 2010

As Emmanuel watched black and white soldiers go through the same seminal moment of transition, he discovered that the process now represented community building, national pride, and the overcoming of past evils rather than prejudice, violence and control.

Art Review: Late Renoir at the Philadelphia Museum of Art


June 28th, 2010

In the case of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, some were even put up for sale. In 1989, after Renoir’s Reclining Nude (1902) was sold by MOMA, the museum’s chief curator, Kirk Varnedoe, made a comment revealing the extent to which Renoir’s reputation had fallen. ”There are many people who would like the painting very much,” Varnedoe said of Renoir’s Reclining Nude, “but it simply didn’t belong to the story of modern art that we are telling.”

Art Review: Dr. Lakra at the ICA, Boston


June 24th, 2010

A quartet of anatomical drawings from Munich, printed perhaps a hundred years ago, are especially lovely. Lakra has “tattooed” the forearms and torsos with pale blue marks; he has also transformed a man into a saint, blending science and religion, art and iconography, showing that decoration can sanctify or vandalize.

Art Review: A Visual Alphabet: Herbert Bayer’s Anthology Paintings at the Denver Art Museum


June 23rd, 2010

Student and then teacher at the legendary Bauhaus school, Bayer exercised his talents in fields as diverse as typography, architecture, and sculpture. He designed covers for Harper’s Bazaar, and applied his graphic talents to toothpaste and nose drops, moving easily from the cultural hothouse of Weimar Germany to the postwar corporate America of Don Draper.

Art Review: Object, Image, Collector at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


June 9th, 2010

It’s the photoetching, a 1974 work called “The Train,” that is really breath-taking. It seems to take on the complicated issues of the African Diaspora, the art it produced, and Western views of that art, as well as presenting a moment from the struggle for Civil Rights. The faces that look out at us from the page are communicative and knowing, their gazes complicated and reproachful, and the liquid softness of the watercolor combines with the horizontal lines of the etching to create a beautiful, powerful work you can stand in front of for a long time.

Arizona and the Politics of Mural Painting


June 7th, 2010

Murals are designed to unite communities, create beauty and celebrate common values. The horrific reaction to “Go on Green” makes a mockery of these noble intentions. One cannot help but wonder how this fallout is being interpreted by the children of Miller Valley Elementary, who learned at a young age that their faces are seen as an insult to their community.

Alice Leora Briggs: Art from Juárez


June 3rd, 2010

While Briggs subject matter is unpleasant, her work has a dark beauty and an immediacy not often seen in contemporary art. Its visual strength and documentary quality compels you to keep looking and inspires you to learn more about the tragic situation that she chronicles.

Art Review: Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers at the Hirshhorn, Washington, DC


June 3rd, 2010

In one of Klein’s, racier projects, the Anthropometry series, the artist dressed to the nines and directed naked ladies while they painted themselves in IKB paint and impressed their bodies onto the canvas. Musicians played in the background and an audience of art lovers watched the spectacle.

Art Review: Kurt, at the Seattle Art Museum, Explores Kurt Cobain’s Influence on Contemporary Artists


May 28th, 2010

Nearby, Jeffry Mitchell’s portrait as Kurt is arguably the hidden gem of the exhibit. Self-Portrait as Kurt Cobain in the Style of Jay Steensma features a skull wearing a blond wig amongst a thickly painted sea of grey. (Steensma was a “mystic” artist famous for his paintings of grey, Northwestern landscapes).

Art Review: Albrecht Dürer: Virtuoso Printmaker at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


May 25th, 2010

The earlier prints from each series are flatter, the lines more bold and calligraphic, the details stranger. The later images show the rising influence of the renaissance: the figures bear their weight in sophisticated contrapposto stances, the realistically-rendered bodies are more beautiful. It’s illuminating to see these works grouped together, to follow their stories in and out of changing historical styles and Dürer’s own artistic and intellectual development.

Pritzker Prize goes to Bowery Museum’s Architects


May 24th, 2010

The 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize was awarded to the Japanese duo, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. Their firm, Sanaa, is responsible for creating some of the most daring and elegant buildings of the last decade, including the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York (2007), and the 21st Century museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan.

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