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Showing posts from January, 2007
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Cow. Compressed charcoal on rives drawing paper.
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ART AND COMPUTERS: THE UNIMPORTANCE OF AN "OBJECT"

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This painting by Van Gogh is so uniquely beautiful that the Yasuda Insurance Company paid $39.9 million dollars for it.



But wait a minute... it turns out that Van Gogh painted three other paintings just like it.



Or maybe it was four? Nobody knows for sure.



Someone argued that the $39.9 million painting must be a forgery, and suddenly it didn't look quite so beautiful.

Art experts hastily assembled to explain which of the five paintings had the "look" of a genuine Van Gogh. Unfortunately, the paintings had changed colors over time. The chrome yellow oil paint had darkened from exposure to atmosphere and the green paint changed color because of the copper acetoarsenite in the pigment.

So whatever the buyers were acquiring, it was not the artist's original vision.

Scientists, scholars, technicians, reporters and historians evaluated the painting. Some prepared long lists of issues:


The first of these concerns the leaf that belongs with the drooping flower to the left, number 1…

ART AND COMPUTERS: THE IMPORTANCE OF AN "OBJECT"

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The great illustrator Dean Cornwell applied oil paint like he was buttering a croissant.



I see this painting every day, and the pleasure I take from it is both visual and tactile. Cornwell's artistry is revealed at the exact place where his imagination interacts with the physical universe-- the stretched canvas that first yields and then springs to the touch, the sable brushes that spread, flex and taper as they sculpt the colors. I know this artist better for the sensuous experience of running my fingertips lightly across this painting.

As another example, Ronald Searle dips his pen in his DNA. He scuffs, scratches and scribbles on paper with ink, water and color to create an object which reveals his identity more than any fingerprint ever could.



I am sure that Searle could have increased the efficiency of his output by using the photoshop deflavorizing machine to erase mistakes (and to miss out on happy accidents). I'm not sure the result would be quite as personal.

My third exa…
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Carmel point, central coast California.
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ART AND COMPUTERS

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A nifty computer image from the blog of Disney concept artist Todd Harris

In my last post, I mentioned that art originated in the paleolithic era after our ancestors discovered a type of rock that could be shaped into the first blades, flints and other tools that transformed human life. That special rock (cryptocrystalline siliceous) contained silica-- the same material that, 35,000 years later, we use to make semiconductors for computers. This fateful substance has now intervened twice in our history to alter human destiny.

For that reason alone, it seems to me that computer art-- produced with silicon chips-- has earned a little patience and an open mind.

Computer art has now been with us for over 50 years (if you include the pre-ASCII images created with early Baudot code) For most of that time, computer art has been simply awful.



Jennifer Bartlett wowed the art establishment by using computers to convey platitudes on LEDs


A computer modified image of a nude


Computer generated Op Art


The …

IS ART A BYPRODUCT OF TECHNOLOGY?

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At the earliest red dawn of humanity, our ancestors slowly learned to use stone tools. For more than 2 million years they used stones in the same way: to bash or chop. It was a brutish existence that left no traces of art or culture behind.

Then, during the upper paleolithic period (35,000 to 12,000 years ago) stone technology took a great leap forward. Our ancestors learned how to select certain rocks that could be shaped into blades-- longer and lighter with more cutting surface. Using these stones, they developed tool making techniques that gave them ten times the cutting edge from the same sized stone.

This transformed their world. They could now use sharpened rocks for spear points and projectiles. They could cut with greater precision and for the first time make use of antler, ivory and bone. Hunting became easier. Conceptual thinking became more important to survival. The first signs of symbolic thought emerged. It was in this environment that the very first art began to appea…

ARTISTS IN LOVE, part seven

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Sarah Goodridge (1788-1853) was born in a small village in Massachussetts, the sixth of nine children. Growing up in the country, she learned to draw by scratching pictures with a pin on birch bark. Eventually she made her way to Boston where she earned a living painting miniature portraits on ivory.



In the days before photography, such pictures were often worn in lockets or pinned to lapels.



Goodridge's miniatures were very popular and she soon flourished as an independent artist-- a rarity for a woman in colonial America. By painting two or three portraits a week, she made enough to support her sick mother, her orphan niece, and other family members. Her career lasted for thirty years until her failing eyesight forced her to stop. She never married.

Goodridge did, however, develop a special friendship with the handsome young Boston lawyer Daniel Webster. The first time she painted Webster's portrait, he was married with three children. He sat for eleven more portraits over the …
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