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kottke.org posts about Art

Milky Way Embroidery

an embroidery piece of the Milky Way above a flowery meadow

an embroidery piece of the Milky Way above a flowery meadow

an embroidery piece of the Milky Way above a flowery meadow

I love Yuliya Krishchik’s space-themed embroidery pieces, especially the ones featuring Milky Way-like star fields — she calls them “surreal space landscapes”. If you watch one of Krishchik’s videos, you can see that her pieces are just a bit 3D…a cool effect.

You can find more of her work on Instagram and her blog or buy original pieces in her store (they go quickly though).

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Hands and Feet, Full of Color

I’m happy to run across the illustrations of Lui Ferreyra again, particularly his drawings of hands and feet.

colored pencil drawing of a hand

colored pencil drawing of a pair of hands grabbing ankles

(via colossal)

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Ghanaian Fantasy Coffin Maker Paa Joe

a human-sized coffin shaped like a Sony Walkman

a human-sized coffin shaped like an NYC taxi cab

a human-sized coffin shaped like a bottle of medicine

a human-sized coffin shaped like a lion

Ghanaian sculptor Paa Joe makes coffins (both human-sized and mini sculptures) modeled after real-life objects that were important to the deceased. He just opened his first NYC solo show at Superhouse; from their description of his work:

Paa Joe is a second-generation fantasy coffin maker, contributing to an artistic tradition of great importance around Ghana’s capital, Accra. Known as abeduu adeka, or proverb boxes, these end-of-life vessels illustrate Ghanaian beliefs concerning life and death. Since the 1960s, the artist has meticulously carved and painted figurative coffins, representing various living and inanimate objects symbolizing the deceased (an onion for a farmer, an eagle for a community leader, a sardine for a fisherman, etc.).

You read more about Paa Joe’s work and see more of his pieces at The Guardian:

“People celebrate death in Ghana. At a funeral, we have a passion for the person leaving us - there are a lot of people, and a lot of noise,” says Jacob, 28, who has worked with his father for eight years.

Far from seeing their work as morbid, Jacob says the coffins are celebratory and reflect west African attitudes to death. “It reminds people that life continues after death, that when someone dies they will go on in the afterlife, so it is important that they go in style.”

And at The Future Perfect, Fad, Hypebeast, and on Instagram. (via @presentandcorrect)

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The Metaphysically Science-ish Drawings of Daniel Martin Diaz

art by Daniel Martin Diaz

art by Daniel Martin Diaz

art by Daniel Martin Diaz

I have to admit that the illustration style of Daniel Martin Diaz is not completely my cup of tea, but I do like a few of his pieces (like those pictured above). They have an infographic quality that’s quite compelling — and also remind me a bit of Chris Ware, by way of Hilma af Klint and, uh, Edward Gorey maybe?

Anyway, lot of prints of his work are available and you can check out his latest stuff on Instagram.

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Stephen D’Onofrio’s Fruit Art

donofriopileoffruitcopy.jpg

I recently discovered the “pile of fruit”-themed art of Stephen D’Onofrio. I love it! The strawberries are a preliminary sketch, but they’re what drew me in, and the rest are paintings. He’s represented by Dallas’s Galleri Urbane. I also like his “trees fitting exactly in the canvas” paintings.

donofriofruitmorecopy.jpg

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Museum-Worthy?

This is a fun ad for the 2024 AICP Awards about the pitfalls of focus-grouping & corporatizing art, featuring an annoyed van Gogh (“How can a painting fail?”) and an even more annoyed Frida Kahlo. (via noah kalina)

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Warped & Bendy Pen Plots

a black and white box containing a simple night landscape

a black and white sphere that's being pulled apart on one side

I like these small scale pen plotted artworks from Adam Fuhrer. You can see his larger scale work, buy work from his shop, and more of his generative art projects.

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The Public Art of the NYC Transit System

NYC subway mosaic pattern of beautiful pink and white blossoms

NYC subway mosaic pattern by Nick Cave featuring dancing figures

From The Monacelli Press, Contemporary Art Underground: MTA Arts & Design New York is a forthcoming book about the art projects the MTA has completed in the last decade in the NYC transit system.

Of special interest is the discussion of fabricating and transposing the artist’s rendering or model into mosaic, glass, or metal, the materials that can survive in the transit environment.

Nancy Blum’s piece at the 28th Street station (top, above) is my favorite piece in the entire subway system; I love it so much. (via colossal)

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At the Intersection of Eggs and Omelet

a fake Google Maps screenshot showing an 'eggs' road being scrambled up into an interchange and coming out the other side as an 'omelet' road

Always a good day to highlight the creative work of designer/illustrator Christoph Niemann: a collection of map-based work, including a cheeky metaphorical recipe for an omelet. That intersection isn’t actually that outlandish: see A Bonkers Highway Interchange and Crazy Whirlpool Traffic Interchange in Dubai.

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John Singer Sargent Portraits

portrait of two women by John Singer Sargent

If a genie granted me the ability to bring one artist back from the dead to create a portrait of myself or a loved one, without thinking too hard about what it might mean for the artist (“you brought me back for what?!”), I’d pick John Singer Sargent. I’m curious about which artists come to mind for others, if anyone wants to chime in.

Above is “Ena and Betty, Daughters of Asher and Mrs Wertheimer,” from 1901, part of the Wertheimer Portraits. I love their hands in this image.

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Extraordinarily Effective Trompe l’Oeil Paintings of Paper Craft

two deer in a snowy forest

two nordic skiers treking through the forest

Bill Braun is a “trompe l’oeil painter” who creates paintings that look like paper craft, complete with visible paper folds, shadows, and even the “staples” holding the “paper” to the backing. What an incredible illusion. And I always enjoy an artist who is reticent to give an artist statement or explain their work:

I don’t like to give an artist statement because it undoes the premise of my work, trompe l’oeil painting. Literally from the French, trompe l’oeil means “trick the eye”. An artist’s statement might undo the fundamental aim of convincing the viewer, at least for a moment, that what he sees are actual objects and not a painting. The basic rules of trompe l’oeil painting are that objects are rendered in real scale, and totally within a shallow painted space. This type of painting has always been a minor branch of realist painting, but with a very long history. The Athenian painters Xeuxis and Parrhasios in 5th century B.C. (as told by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History) and Roman murals of the 2nd century A.D., 16th century Dutch vanitas painting and the 19th century Philadelphia School painters, Harnett, Peto and Haberle, are examples. Today there are still trompe l’oeil painters around; I am happy to be one of them.

(via tohippo)

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On the Reverse

some stickers and tape on the back of an old painting

some faint overlapping drawings on the back of an old painting

a view of a show at the Prado museum called 'On the Reverse'

Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado recently put on an exhibition called On the Reverse that featured the backs of notable works of art.

This exhibition goes beyond the simple action of turning paintings around. Rather, the Museo del Prado is undertaking a complete reassessment of the backs of works in its collections while also identifying relevant examples in other major museums which reveal how appreciation of works of art is enhanced when we do more than just look at the front. The exhibition addresses issues that have never previously been brought together and in which there is also space for imaginative interpretations: the emergence of the reverse as a pictorial motif in two sub-genres: the self-portrait of the artist behind the canvas and the depiction of the picture back in trompe l’oeil; the poetic reading of the stretcher as a cross; two-sided paintings; the back as a field for experimentation and subjective expression; aesthetic appreciation of the material nature of the works, and the issue of the viewer seen from behind, which makes us aware of the particular spatial relationships that are generated by human interaction with art.

I once went with an artist friend to an art museum where they hung some of the paintings so you could see both sides of them at once, and she was often more interested in seeing the backs, where you could maybe see who owned the painting previously, etc.

Sadly, the show ended on March 3, but Hyperallergic has a good writeup.

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Lego Letterpress Lobster

a letterpress print of a lobster

Check out this letterpress print of a lobster made by Eunice Chiong with Lego pieces as the stamps (watch a short video of her printing process). Chiong has been working with Legos and letterpress for many months now…check out more of her creations on Instagram and in her portfolio.

See also Letterpress Prints of Birds Printed Using Lego Bricks.

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Crowded Table

an colorful illustration with all kinds of foods and products on it

I love this print from Anastasia Inciardi at 20x200 — lots of familiar foods and comfortably delicious products.

Inciardi is known for her mini print vending machines and also sells prints and other things online. You can check out her work on Instagram.

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Carved Wooden Art Cars With Chunky Headlights

a carved wooden car with wooden headlights coming out of it with an image of a person chasing a ball in the beams

a pair of carved wooden cars with wooden headlights coming out of them with images landscapes in the beams

a fleet of carved wooden cars with wooden headlights coming out of them

Holy crap, how cool are these carved wooden cars by Kiko Miyares! The style is just incredible. Is light a wave or a particle? Neither: light is wood. (via @scottmccloud)

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The Pixel Painter

This is an image created by Hal Lasko in Microsoft Paint:

a pixelated illustration of a roller coaster

Lasko was a retired graphic designer & typographer who found a new passion when he received a computer for his 85th birthday, which came preloaded with Microsoft Paint. This short film tells the story of The Pixel Painter:

That all changed for Hal when his family gave him a computer as an 85th birthday present. His new PC came loaded with Microsoft Paint software, a program developed in the 1980’s. The program is more kitsch than cutting edge, but it’s easy interface and pixel precision allowed Hal to journey down a new artistic path with a style many consider “retro cool”.

In his last year of life, he had his first solo gallery show, spoke at a conference and was featured in a Super Bowl commercial. He passed away just shy of his 99th birthday in 2014, leaving us with a legacy that passion knows no age, and for Hal, the proof of that is surely in the pixels.

You can still buy prints of Lasko’s work on his website.

Fun fact: the short film uses my Silkscreen font in it. It’s fun to see it still popping up in places. (via @bw/111894669094307194)

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Vintage Typologies

Lost Found Art is a design company that “specializes in sculptural installations and assemblages using antique and vintage pieces”. Their collections are fun to browse through and remind me of the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher.

a collection vintage mirrors

a collection of vintage cook stove grates

a collection of vintage shooting gallery targets

a collection of vintage bike gears

a collection of vintage cook stove grates

a collection of vintage baseball mitts

(via present & correct)

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Brian Eno’s Glowing Turntable

Brian Eno holding his glowing turntable in a dark room

a turntable glowing in a dark room

Electronic music pioneer Brian Eno has designed a glowing turntable that shifts colors as plays records.

Brian Eno’s Turntable II is made up of a platter and base, which change colours independently, seamlessly phasing through combinations of generative ‘colourscapes’. The pattern of lights, the speed at which they change and how they change are programmed, but programmed to change randomly and slowly. It plays both 33 and 45rpm vinyl.

Only 150 will be sold and they’re £20,000 so hopefully you’ll see one in a museum someday. (via kevin kelly)

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This Artist Used Microsoft Paint to Create Art Into Her 90s

Up until her death last year at the age of 93, Concha García Zaera wielded the relatively simple graphics editor Microsoft Paint like few others have.

two digital paintings: the one on the left depicts two deer in a forest and the one on the right is of a small town square, probably in Spain

a digital painting of a small town nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains

two digital paintings: th one on the left is of a woman hearding geese and the one on the right is of a blonde haired girl sitting by a tree, looking a little sad

See also The Excel Spreadsheet Artist.

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Kooky Little Ceramic Aliens

a yellow ceramic alien shaped like a question mark

a white ceramic alien with a crackly exterior

an orange ceramic alien shaped like a triangle

a yellow & green ceramic alien

a wide yellow ceramic alien

Ceramic artist Monsieur Cailloux makes these cute little ceramic creatures that are members of the Cailloux tribe “straight from the stone planet MRCX”. I like these little creatures, but whatever you think of them, you gotta admire this guy’s commitment to the bit. (via colossal)


Ayo Edebiri Draws a New Yorker Cartoon

In June 2021 (pre The Bear), New Yorker cartoonist Zoe Si coached Ayo Edebiri through the process of drawing a New Yorker cartoon. The catch: neither of them could see the other’s work in progress. Super entertaining.

I don’t know about you, but Si’s initial description of the cartoon reminded me of an LLM prompt:

So the cartoon is two people in their apartment. One person has dug a hole in the floor, and he is standing in the hole and his head’s poking out. And the other person is kneeling on the floor beside the hole, kind of like looking at him in a concerned manner. There’ll be like a couch in the background just to signify that they’re in a house.

Just for funsies, I asked ChatGPT to generate a New Yorker-style cartoon using that prompt. Here’s what it came up with:

A New Yorker style cartoon depicting a man standing in a hole in the floor of an apartment, holding a shovel with only his head and shoulders visible. A woman floats beside him, with a concerned expression.

Oh boy. And then I asked it for a funny caption and it hit me with: “I said I wanted more ‘open space’ in the living room, not an ‘open pit’!” Oof. ChatGPT, don’t quit your day job!

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“The Curious Case of the Contested Basquiats”

For the Atlantic, Bianca Bosker writes about a trove of paintings supposedly by Jean-Michel Basquiat that were discovered in a storage locker, ended up in a museum, and then seized by the FBI as fakes. As the owner of a pretty-convincing-but-probably-fake Basquiat purchased at a Mexico City flea market (that is also painted on cardboard), I read this story with great interest.

Science promises to be a neutral and exacting judge, though in reality forensics aren’t always much help either. Technical analysis can rule out an artwork — pieces from the trove of purported Pollocks with which Mangan was involved were exposed as forgeries after researchers found pigments that postdated the artist’s life — but it can’t rule it in as definitively by the artist in question. Some forgers will submit their handiwork for forensic testing so they can see what flags their pieces as counterfeit, then adjust their methods accordingly. Scientific techniques are also far less useful for contemporary artists like Basquiat, who relied on materials that are still available and for which the margin of error on many tests is wide. When the collector in Norway sent a painting he’d purchased from Barzman to be carbon-dated, the test revealed that the cardboard could be from either the 1950s or the 1990s.

What does it matter if art is authentic?

Our obsession with artworks’ authenticity can in part be traced back to what’s known as the “law of contagion”: Pieces are thought to acquire a special essence when touched by the artist’s hand. Yet the intense distaste for forgeries reveals a dirty secret about our relationship with art, which is that we tend to fixate on genius and authorship more than the aesthetic qualities of the work we claim to value so highly. The writer Arthur Koestler, in an essay on snobbery, goes so far as to argue that when judging a work, who made it should be considered “entirely extraneous to the issue.” What matters more, he argues, is what meets the eye.

When I see art in person or visit historic places, I often think to myself that I am standing where the artist or famous personage once stood — and it makes me feel something. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with magic though.

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Vintage Space Age Playing Cards (1964)

six of diamonds playing card with GO and NO GO printed on it

jack of clubs playing card with a space monkey eating a banana on it

two of spades playing card with a red hot air balloon on it

joker playing card with a picture of Superman

queen of hearts playing card with Amelia Earhart on it

nine of diamonds playing card with a Earth/Moon diagram on it

The General Dynamics Astronautics Space Cards were printed up in 1964 to celebrate the American space program. This Flickr account has scans of every card in the deck, including both jokers. Each suit corresponds to a different aspect of the program:

These space cards tell a story — the story of America’s man-in-space programs. The hearts deal with the human element, the clubs portray the sciences, the spades show products, and the diamonds depict modern aerospace management without which the other three elements could not be successful…

If you’d like your own factory-sealed deck, you can buy one on eBay for $249. (thx, mark)

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Rat Selfies

a white rat taking a photo of itself

a brown rat taking a photo of itself

For a photographic experiment based on the Skinner box, Augustin Lignier trained a pair of rats to take photos of themselves, aided by a sugary reward. When the rewards became intermittent, the rats kept snapping away, sometimes even ignoring the sugar.

To Mr. Lignier, the parallel is obvious. “Digital and social media companies use the same concept to keep the attention of the viewer as long as possible,” he said.

Indeed, social media has been described as “a Skinner Box for the modern human,” doling out periodic, unpredictable rewards — a like, a follow, a promising romantic match — that keep us glued to our phones.

Or maybe being able to keep ourselves busy pressing buttons is its own reward. In a 2014 study, scientists concluded that many human volunteers “preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts.” Maybe we would rather sit around and push whatever levers are in front of us — even those that might make us feel bad - than sit with ourselves in quiet contemplation.

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“When We Return You Won’t Recognise Us”

colorful surrealist impressionist painting of a woman with crazy hair

I do not remember how I stumbled upon this painting by British artist Glenn Brown but I like it quite a lot. You can check out more of his work on his website.

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The SUPERs

Bert from Sesame Street and Velma from Scooby Doo posed like Superman

Steve Zissou and Pee-wee Herman posed like Superman

a number of familiar characters posed like Superman

a number of familiar characters posed like Superman

Using an iconic Superman pose, artist Mike Mitchell has translated all sorts of familiar characters onto that pose, including C-3PO, Velma from Scooby Doo, Charlie Brown, Ned Flanders, Pee-wee Herman, Bert from Sesame Street, Steve Zissou, and Spongebob Squarepants. Here’s an animation of all them. (via moss & fog)

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Footsteps in the Snow

embroidery that looks like footsteps in the snow

detail of an embroidery that looks like footsteps in the snow

Absolutely stunning embroidery piece by Narumi Takada of boot prints and animal tracks1 in freshly fallen snow. Just lovely.

  1. I thought these were dog tracks at first because of the shape but you can’t see the claws so maybe they are cat tracks?
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An Artist Creates the Family Xmas Card, From Age 3 to 36

Since he was a toddler, artist C.W. Moss has made the artwork for his family’s Christmas card. Here are some early installments from when he was three & seven:

two little kid drawings of Christmas cards

Some from when Moss was 17 and 29:

Two Christmas cards. The one on the left is a dense doodle-like drawing with a four-pointed star near the center. The right one is titled 'The 365 of 2016' and it repeats 'NOT CHRISTMAS' until it gets to 'MERRY CHRISTMAS'

And the most recent one from age 36 (you can watch how he draws it):

a Christmas card that says 'Joy or Else' on it

It’s fascinating to see his artistic sense grow and shift over the years, not only increasing in artistic skill as he gets older but also moving from simple depictions of holiday scenes to more conceptual creations.

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The Drawings of Virginia Frances Sterrett

an illustration of a woman hugging a deer next to a cat

a small man in red cowers under a huge green man

I love these drawings by Virginia Frances Sterrett.

At fourteen, unthoughtful of achievement and ambition, friends persuaded her to send her drawings to the Kansas State Fair. To her surprise, she won first prize in three different categories. The originality of her drawings — which, throughout her life, came to her as visions she felt she was merely channeling onto the page with her pen and brush — captivated two successful local artists, who encouraged her to pursue formal study.


Harry Clarke’s Illustrations

harryclarke.jpg
Every so often on Instagram I come across Harry Clarke’s stringy, spooky illustrations for the 1919 Edgar Allan Poe collection Tales of Mystery & Imagination (above left) or the 1925 version of Goethe’s Faust. Poking around led me to this 2016 story in the Public Domain Review: “Harry Clarke’s Looking Glass.” As I learned, he once wrote to a friend that his publisher thought a set of his Faust illustrations were “full of stench and steaming horrors.”

50watts has more great images, and here’s a zoomable version of the “Sea Witch” (above right) from his illustrations for Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.”

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