Thursday, January 31, 2008


It seems that no one can talk about the illustrations of Sanford Kossin for more than sixty seconds before bringing up his illustrations of the invasion of the Bay of Pigs.

This powerful collection of pictures is mentioned in the very first sentence of Kossin's biography in The Illustrator in America. It is mentioned in the second sentence of his biography on the Graphic Collectibles web site. And this week, it turned up on Leif Peng's excellent blog, Today's Inspiration. Leif posted Kossin's illustrations for a textbook:

and immediately somebody wrote in, recalling Kossin's powerful illustrations in May 1963 of the Bay of Pigs.

Kossin's work appeared in many venues over a long career, from science fiction magazines and text books to MAD magazine and paperbacks. Yet, his stunning pictures for Life Magazine of the tragic Bay of Pigs invasion stood out from all the rest:

Very different from Kossin's typical style, these pictures take their place in a great tradition of powerful war art. Their strength and abstract quality left a deep impression on every artist I know who saw them.

I thought I would post a selection of these illustrations, so you will know what they are talking about when somebody asks, "Did you ever see Kossin's illustrations from that issue of Life....

If you want to see the full set of pictures, you will have to wrestle some old timer for his copy of Life. It will be worth it.

[Note: now you no longer have to wrestle some old timer to see all these images. As a public service Leif Peng is posting them all on his great blog. Check them out!]

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

For (Visual) Art's Sake

Danielle Van Ark's photos often seem unreal, directed. Yet reality seems to provide her with events so rich they seem definitely out of this world. Out of mine, for sure.
See also her great Taxidermy series...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

EXITO=success / EXIT=exit

I am delighted to inform you that I have been invited by the TR Warszawa theater (Warsaw, Poland) to create and direct a video department/workshop/center/section/thing. There is great enthusiasm concerning the project on both sides.
Thus, I am thrilled to be going back to Poland (at least for some time).
Thus, I am extremely sad to be leaving Portugal (at least for some time).

I hope to have more on this initiative in a few weeks.

For now, all my friends and friends of this blog are invited to a farewell party on February 2, at a place that will be disclosed any moment.

UPDATE>> we will be partying at the Lounge bar (, although I have no idea how knowing the virtual address can help), at rua da Moeda n.1, in the Cais do Sodre area (by the post office, near the ETIC school). We'll be starting around 11pm. See you there!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Find New Jersey now and win!

Is it possible to take a picture of New Jersey regardless of where you are in the world?

If you think you can answer this question with an image of your creation, accept the challenge of iheartphotograph and participate in the contest.

Two great Josephs

"To be hopeful in an artistic sense it is not necessary to think that the world is good. It is enough to believe that there is no impossibility of it being made so."
- Joseph Conrad

quote taken from the lengthy and uneasy, but interesting Guardian article about Conrad.
(found here)
I should look better and find material that would do justice both to Joseph Beuys and to Joseph Conrad. However, the video above, although somewhat naive, does present Beuys at least in some respect, and has excellent footage from his I Like America and America Likes Me. For more resources go here, and a great overview of Beuys and his influence on today's art can be found on this Tate page.
As for the article about Conrad, its style does actually do justice to the Polish writer. And it is certainly enlightening. However, other suggestions are welcome.

What links those two? What impresses me? Beyond a difficult, though creative, dealing with one's identity - which that doesn't really make them stand out among artists... A sense of a profound and paradoxically bitter optimism. And amazing self-discipline.


The Fat is on the Table
Maurizio Cattelan on Joseph Beuys

beuys is dead
beuys is also uniting love and knowledge
beuys is more present in a desert freak
beuys is sponsored by museum für moderne kunst
beuys is appointed professor of sculpture at the düsseldorf academy of art
beuys extends ulysses by two chapters at the request of james joyce
beuys is surely not a sartre follower, but of course there are many parallels
beuys is mentioned next to steiner
beuys is back in town
beuys is back in belgium, in berlin, US, active in germany
beuys is the contemporary artist responsible for the popular notion that politics is an aesthetic activity that anyone can engage in
beuys is inspired by steiner
beuys is not so reactionary as to deny the existence of the entire art history repertoire
beuys is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential post-war german artists
beuys is the identification with everything from mythological 9gures and historical personages to writers and artists
beuys is a mythical figure in the art world, however
beuys is particularly significant in the light of his introspective research on the possible reuni9cation of human and natural life
beuys is in the creation of the social sculpture
beuys is either loved or hated
beuys is considered one of the most
beuys is widely regarded as one of the most important german artists since world war II
beuys is demanding sun instead of rain/reagan
beuys is more like an evangelist
beuys is famous for an extraordinary body of drawings
beuys is such an obvious candidate; he started making art following a breakdown that was a result of his experiences in world war II
beuys is represented in depth in dia's permanent collection
beuys is
beuys is among the most famous of today's artists
beuys is one of the most famous performance artists
beuys is valid because wolfgang laib shares his belief in the transcendent power of art
beuys is another sculptor that
beuys is one of the major figures in post-war german art
beuys is known for his shamanistic artist's persona
beuys is among the world's most comprehensive
beuys is in these digital photographs represented not by him directly
beuys is a real people's artist understood by a professor
beuys is megjelent a kövek mellett és hamarosan heves vita bontakozott ki közte és a közönség között
beuys is a 1972 lithograph in which the essential feature is that of beuys as everyman
beuys is elvesztette
beuys is átvett és ami interszubjektiv jellege miatt nem volt
beuys is called to account by his presumptive offspring
beuys is veel materiaal verdwenen
beuys is questioned by the activities of maclennan
beuys is instructive
beuys is very important in mail art
beuys is understandable
beuys is known to
beuys is not completed by his death
beuys is i was never secure and happy in the world of galleries from the very beginning
beuys is and how it is pronounced
beuys is cleverly recontextualised in
beuys is of course enormously interesting
beuys is l'eminence grise of community building as an art form
beuys is interested in the proportions between crystal and amorphous states
beuys is able to evoke the experience of the past
beuys is a magnificent
beuys is based on three stages
beuys is a special case because of the build-up of a curious sense of obligation to respond positively
beuys is the generation of my father
beuys is talking about the much wider concept of creative potential
beuys is regarded as one of the most significant personalities of the past
beuys is steeped in the struggle of world war II
beuys is a big influence right now
beuys is unavoidable
beuys is purely a decorative artist
beuys is hype
beuys is cited as the great collaborator of the twentieth century because
beuys believed everybody was a potential artist
beuys is on e-bay
beuys is a mythical figure in
beuys is one artist i wanted to ask you about
beuys is one of the biggest art world phonies of recent years
beuys is probably unique in the history of art
beuys is supposed
beuys is a very controversial sculptor
beuys is grounded in a tradition of narrative sources that is often absent in american art of the same period
beuys is hardly a household name in the history of twentieth-century art
beuys is the great shaman of twentieth-century art
beuys is represented with his monumental work created shortly before his death, lightning with stag in its glare
beuys is best known for declaring "everyone an artist"; koons seems to declare that everyone is a consumer

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Guerrillas looking for Budapest museum director

The site claims:

Position Summary

Museum Director

Director I, Full Time

Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 6:00pm

Hiring Range & Group: 2-4.000 EUR / Month

Closing Date: Open Until Closed

The Ludwig Museum Budapest (LUMÚ) is one of the major Hungarian Museums and exhibition spaces, and holds the most important collection of modern art in Hungary. (...)

Our aim is to create an alternative platform for applicants in order to emphasize the opportunities which lie in this position in order to put LUMÚ on the global map with an internationally recognizable program.

If you wish to apply please send your application (concept) as told below. We do not evaluate but only post all applications on this website.
We hope all decision makers will consider all information collected on this page and will be influenced by your ideas and concepts. We hope they might consider the applicants for the official call. There have been precedents in Hungary where the highest positions have been hijacked by public initiatives in the midst of political status quo. We believe that if you are a sound applicant, you can become the director through public support.

Basically, here is a beautiful case: a group of people really passionate about contemporary art want to have a good museum. So they try to be active. They see that the formal way of solving the issue seems impossible. So they take matters in their own hands, and they announce a pseudo-contest. You can send your candidature, but - and this is the brilliant part - they will not judge it. They will limit themselves to showing those in charge that you exist. And, hopefully, those in charge will take you into consideration when looking for the right person.

Sounds impressive. Guerrillas fighting for justice. Guerrillas who don't want to take over, only think out-of-the-box to try and open minds. After all, if there are competent, interesting candidates out there, why not present them?
A few things worry me slightly: 1) As of today, there is still no candidature online. People don't take it seriously? Possibly. Or maybe, they are not ready to take the risk of becoming associated to something that seems quite a rebellious initiative (after all, it does suggest the Museum has a good chance of receiving the director the politicians will nominate, no questions asked)? 2) What can the real force of such an initiative be? Doesn't it remind you of the rallies that have been so popular these days, say, against the invasion of Iraq? The guerrilla tactics seem more like an interesting phenomenon than an actual force.
Now, the real question might be, what is the strength of this particular utopia?
I hope it does raise the issue of a fair selection. And even if a director is nominated from among the friends and relatives of the Right People, they will have to stand up to the challenge of being compared to the other candidates. The unofficial ones.
What better place to start this sort of initiative than a museum of modern art?
Now, this only works if competent people do send in their proposals. And impress the heck out of everyone.


Friday, January 25, 2008


Paul Gauguin is one of my favorite illustrators.

He was also the ultimate outsider. He fought with authority figures such as police and clergy. He cursed the hypocrisy and commercialism of western civilization. He abandoned his home in France, his religion, his job, even his wife and five children.

Gauguin lived his final years on the tiny South Pacific island of Hua Oa, an island of steamy tropical jungles and volcanoes, of black sand and pink skies, of tiki gods and exotic fruit. Clouds of mist hovered around the cliff from which natives sacrificed virgins to the sea.

It would be hard to imagine a more committed rebel than Gauguin.

And yet...

when he died all alone in his hut under an alien sun, wracked with morphine addiction and the ravages of his lifestyle, they found an unfinished painting on his easel: a conventional winter landscape of a charming French country village.

Illustration is commonly criticized as "lower" art for using obvious, sentimental subject matter to appeal to popular audiences. Norman Rockwell might have been a great artist, we are told, if it weren't for his middle class values. Great art has to rise above such cheap sentimentalism.

No artist ever ran further or faster from middle class values than Gauguin. None ever paid a higher price for his "outsider" status. But as he faced a lonely death, stripped of all pretense and bravado, somewhere close to Gauguin's core was a sentimental image from his youth.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

ROBERT G. HARRIS (1911-2007)

The illustrator Robert G. Harris died a few weeks ago at the age of 96. His career spanned many of the glory years of illustration.

Harris learned art at the feet of early masters such as Harvey Dunn and George Bridgman. He illustrated everything from crude pulps to refined magazines for women. (This WW II illustration of a war bride learning the fate of her soldier husband appeared in the latter).

As a successful illustrator in an era when illustrations helped to shape the national imagination, Harris could afford to build a large home and studio in fabled Westport, Connecticut with three cars in his garage and his own private sea-plane at the beach. As the illustration field grew, the top talent from around the country flocked to Westport to try their luck.  Soon, Harris found Westport was becoming too crowded. Harris' friend, the great illustrator Al Parker, explained that early illustrators such as Harris sought out Westport for its "cornfields and crickets."   When the open fields filled with houses, Parker followed Harris to Arizona.

Harris continued to work and paint in Scottsdale Arizona. With his death, another chapter in the long and colorful history of illustration comes to a close.

We extend our sincere regrets to his family.

Species p.2



Pottery is a type of handicraft. Pottery is the art of making earthenware, stoneware, ceramics.

Usually, in Pottery, the clay body is manipulated to a particular shape, and then the clay body is hardened in a kiln, to induce permanent changes.

Steps in Pottery:-
  • First obtain some clay. Wash the clay toroughly in blungers( a large pot) to remove pebbles and sand and other impurities.
  • Clay is mixed with water, to moist it. This makes the clay easier to handle by the potter.
  • Then a chunk of clay, is put on a potter's wheel and shaped. This is known as "Throwing". The clay can also be shaped in a mould.
  • After the pot is shaped, it is subjected to fire in a kiln. This is known as firing. The temperature of the fire has variations depending upon the type of material to be formed. For pottery it is generally, 1420°F.
These basic steps are followed, almost in all cases. Of course, variations can be there in design and shaping.

Some good pottery:-


I continue to receive comments scolding me for being too judgmental about certain art. I've always tried to follow the ancient advice of Seneca: "If you judge, investigate." So rather than repeating my own biased conclusions, perhaps it makes sense to share examples of "performance art" that helped to shape my views.
I report, you decide.

The following are direct quotes from favorable reviews that appeared in
High Performance Magazine (one of the leading journals of performance art for 20 years).

1. La Fura dels Baus

The Spanish industrial performance art group, La Fura dels Baus is so good it makes "all other industrial performance art groups stink like a Nazi pissing on the festering ashes of the Reichstag." Here is how La Fura uses performance art to provide insight into "the shit of politics:"
Two raving maniacs burst through a cinder block wall with sledge hammers....The performers come closer and I smell the unwashed suits they wear. With disgusting relish, these Hammer characters set upon three apparently harmless Slime men who have been rolling around in metal barrels chasing the audience mindlessly....Then they pour on buckets of liquid which must boil and burn for the Slime Men writhe in paroxysmal pain, horrible to behold.... I interpret the Slime men as Everyman, emerging from the dark and trying with limited faculties to organize something, anything which can be called their lives. The hammer men are oppressors.

2. "No Art" Performance

High Performance has been getting queries from other magazines wanting to know the status of Teching Hsieh's work in progress. But since July when Hsieh announced that for a year he would not do art, look at it, speak about art or think about art, we have been unable to find out any more first hand information than anyone else. Friends speculate that the piece grew out of the frustration he experienced trying to organize a one year torch-carrying piece that required a minimum of 400 recipients. Even after running full page ads in the East Village Eye and other publications, Hsieh was only able to come up with around 200 interested people, whereupon he dropped the idea and announced his "no art" piece. Fallout from the piece has been that he refuses to visit old friends because they have too much art on their walls and avoids Linda Montano, his friend and collaborator for his last year long piece in which they were tied together, because Montano is doing a seven year art/life piece in which everything she does is declared art. (italics added).

3. "I'm an Ass Man" Performance

Karen Finley's performance, "I'm an Ass Man," zeroes in on sexual tyranny, substance abuse and frustrations of marginal existence. Finley attacks New York's Eurotrash, recently moneyed and titled immigrants who flaunt their wealth and recreational drugs. At the same time she pours milk, honey and instant tea into an open purse, shakes it up, and sloppily drinks a portion...Sexual assault abounds in Finley's psychotic world....A slob at a subway station sees a fat lady and fantasizes about raping her, only to discover she is menstruating. Here, Finley opens a bottle of beets and a can of red kidney beans and pours them together, rubbing her hands in the red mess. After describing attempted child sexual abuse by an adult male on a young girl, Finley squishes several bars of melted ice cream sandwiches, smearing it all over her black dress. In graphic detail she disdainfully tells how a real "macho" man will have anal intercourse with a woman.... My main complaint is that Finley did not go far enough. This version was too short and tame....Art audiences need to be shocked because many come from sheltered middle class environments with no first hand experience in the seamier side of life.

All reviews copyright High Performance Magazine. Photo credit for Karen Finley performing her "I'm an Ass Man" art: Ira Sandler


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


What is absolutely astonishing about this photo by Jill Greenberg is that it seems almost as if taken by chance. Although it is a carefully studied pose, its context is nowhere close to the conceptual play we see here. It is part of a series portraying primates in a relatively classical way - their faces showing somewhat human characteristics, with adequately human titles ("Anxious", "Dude", etc.). They are wonderful and funny pictures, but this one here is really something else. The title is "Mala Centerfold", and that seems an understatement. We are not in front of some cheesy centerfold here. Oh, no! - this is the real thing, this is the indecent Olympia, this is the lascivious Maja.
It is challenging Darwin to a truth-or-dare.
And it is delicious.

Monday, January 21, 2008

2 videos found by chance

Star, by Alexander Reyna

Metalosis Maligna, by Floris Kaayk

Friday, January 18, 2008


This drawing by Orson Lowell appeared as a double page spread in Life Magazine on January 28, 1909. Lowell depicts the characters waiting outside a stage door for some chanteuse to emerge after her show. The original is over 100 cm wide. In an era before television, people had fun "reading" the clues in these pictures. For example, you can tell a lot about the high class nature of the show from the posters on the wall:

Lowell gives us a psychological profile for each person in line; each has a different history and a different reason for being there.

Not everyone in line is a suitor or a chaperone. One gentleman is concealing a court summons, undoubtedly involving some lawsuit for alienation of affections.

The story is cute, but of course it takes more than cute to qualify for the famous "one lovely drawing" status. If you look closely, I think you will find some truly excellent linework here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


We had fun looking at the way Frederic Remington saw vivid colors in the dark of night.

Here, on the other hand, is a different illustrator who looked at a bright mid-day scene and painted a study in gray:

An artist who feels the call to explore color will not be deterred by a dark night or a lack of electricity, just as an artist with access to all sorts of light may choose to disregard its potential for color and narrow his or her focus to black and white. Great artists often work from wherever fate placed them, without waiting for the perfect lighting or the right conditions:
Look under foot....The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the center of the world.
--John Burroughs
By the way-- those elegant studies in gray are details from the often ignored center of one of the most famous Norman Rockwell paintings.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A few amazing finds, and a very subjective text

Magnus von Plessen, Felicity

It is hard for me to imagine a live performance that would have (that I would find to have) the density of some visual art. Yes, I distinguish those quite clearly, mainly by the dilating of senses I experience when watching most performance, as if there was no way of just getting to the point, or points, or of just hitting me with whatever they have. "Just". There is justice in this just, a sense of the right measure, like an object where the proportions feel right. I simply cannot recall a single performance I have seen where the proportions just felt right. It seems time and a live body introduce elements that are somehow completely out of the scope of my spectator experience.
Compare the best you've seen on stage to this:

The above images, by the astonishing Tim Hawkinson, are more than powerful: they range from publicity-like to classical sculpture to highly conceptual (the last one is a self-portrait mapping of all the area the artist sees on his own body, the picture before is a Balloon Self-Portrait, a blown-up mold of the artist), and yet each of them seems complete.
Or see these, by Huma Bhabha:

How are we to compete with the perfection of something that is? Another language, you will say. Another state of presence. And yet, the choice of what to lay my eyes on remains. And diversity is no argument, when time after time what is live seems to be disappointing, less thrilling, less surprising, exciting, fresh and bold than what remains there not waiting for the sight. But then again, it is also less exciting than film, which seems only to live when seen!
Indeed, it is perfectly useless to speak of the spectator's responsibility in all this, when the spectator admits he is not up to it and instead choses something less desperate, even as it may be darker and, at least on the surface, less active.
(Both poor quality reproductions are by Magnus von Plessen)
And yet, after having written all this, I still feel that live art somehow retains an incredible potential. Not because it is live, at least in the sense of having live people in front of you, but rather, in the sense of it being an event, and so, something that remains unexpected, but also unfinished, incomplete, and fragile in its egomaniacal form ("look at me!"). I'm still not sure where this is heading, it remains confused, but it might have something to do with the amazing phenomenon of enjoying something while it is bad, enjoying it because you appreciate it as an event, enjoying the fact that you are in the privileged position of

PS: Here is a picture dedicated to the effort of some colleagues from a theater project that has been on these days:
(The picture is by Amy Stein. I believe the title is Domesticated.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Cowboy illustrator Frederic Remington seemed to find a whole rainbow of luminous colors in the night.

When other painters might reach for a dark blue, Remington reaches for greens and purples and violets.

Did Remington actually see these colors in nature? Even Cezanne, the grandaddy of abstract art, recognized that "painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one's sensations."

To understand more about Remington's "sensations," look at his pictures contrasting the light from the immense night sky with the tiny, fragile light of humans.

It must have been easy to feel insignificant and defenseless camping out all alone under the huge western sky.