Posts Tagged ‘Art’

Asia’s love of ‘living art’ koi fish growing

May 10, 2008

Koi, an ornamental fish which enthusiasts liken to a moving work of art, are gaining popularity across Asia thanks to changing lifestyles and increasingly sophisticated tastes, experts say.

Asian fish connoisseurs treasure koi — domesticated varieties of the common carp — as Europeans would a painting by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, they say.

“I look at a Picasso and I say it’s a child’s painting… but people will pay hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for it. For Asians, koi is like living art… it’s like poetry in motion,” said Richard Tan, chairman of the committee that organised the First Asia Cup Koi Show in Singapore this month.

Click here for the full article.


Animals as artists … seriously

May 8, 2008

Brittany wields her paintbrush with confidence, slapping it roughly against the canvas to produce streaks of green or smears of orange. With apparent pride, she steps back, inspects her work — and extends her trunk to receive a freshly loaded paintbrush.

Brittany, an African elephant, is doing her small part to pay her way at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Her artwork is sold at the zoo’s gift shop to raise funds.

This painting pachyderm is far from the only artistic animal in captivity. For years zoos and aquariums across the country have encouraged animals to paint as a way to keep the penned-up denizens mentally enriched. Typically, the paintings were discarded or set aside.

But officials have recently discovered that animal lovers are willing pay hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars for the creatures’ creations, prompting zoos across the country to study whether their animal artists might be an untapped source of revenue.

The Milwaukee zoo’s gift shop sells about 36 of Brittany’s paintings each year for $30 each.

“She really seems to enjoy painting — she likes creating new things,” elephant trainer Danielle Faucett said.

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Giant insects invading arboretum

April 24, 2008

Artist David Rogers builds insects that are roughly accurate in shape and proportion. But when it comes to size, he tosses authenticity out the window.

Rogers is installing a collection of 15 bugs this week at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. And their size—as big as a rhinoceros, or bigger—not to mention their varnished cedar and willow surfaces and steel skeletons, make them hard to ignore.

“Normally, we’re giants to the ants,” said Judy O’Kelly-Pickell, of Lombard, a frequent arboretum visitor, who on Monday afternoon had just walked under one of Rogers’ ants. “But these are giants to us, especially when they come marching one, two, three in a row like this.”

Rogers, of Long Island, N.Y., began assembling and erecting his artwork Monday with the help of his assistant and an arboretum crew. They hope to finish next week, depending on weather. The bugs will stay three months and be the centerpiece of a series of workshops, art exhibits and observations on the role of insects in nature.

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Starving Dog Exhibit Reported as a Hoax

April 23, 2008

The story of a dog being starved to death as part of an art exhibition appears to have been falsely reported by Costa Rican newspaper The Nation, according to new sources. I reported the appalling story here last week among global outrage about the exhibit and a reported invitation to repeat the work elsewhere.

It has now emerged, however, that artist Guillermo Habacuc Vargas intended the work to be a stunt to show how a starving dog suddenly becomes the centre of attention when it is in a gallery, but not when it is on the street. The work was intended to expose people for what they really are – “hyprocritical sheep”. He said that in order for the work to be valid, he and the gallery had to give the impression that the dog was genuinely starving to death and that it died.

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Artistic animals provide zoos an untapped source of revenue

April 8, 2008

You might not be able to afford a Picasso, a Van Gogh or a Monet — but for $30 you can own your very own painting by Brittany the elephant.

She’s a resident at the Milwaukee County Zoo, where trainers encourage her to paint as a way to keep her mentally stimulated. She holds a paintbrush in her truck and slaps it at the canvas.

Zoo trainers across the country have been teaching animals to paint for years. Artists include monkeys, kangaroos, pandas and even a rhinoceros.

Click here for the full article.

Elephant paints self-portrait and single-trunkedly blows audience’s minds

March 30, 2008

You can find more information about the Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project here.

Here’s a bit of info from their website:
The Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project (AEACP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding people in need and to saving the diminishing number of Asian elephants left on our planet through its work with domesticated elephants. The AEACP raises funds through the sale of artwork created by elephants in order to generate money and create awareness for the people and elephants of Asia.

The AEACP is a continuing work of art by conceptual artists, Komar & Melamid. In its creation, Komar & Melamid brought the idea of teaching elephants how to paint from US zoos to the impoverished countryside of Southeast Asia, where the much needed ban on logging in the late 80’s left the remaining few thousand elephants and their caretakers out of work. The extensive logging of the countryside and the explosion of the human population in the area led to the destruction of much of the elephants’ natural habitat, leaving them with no wild to return to. Thousands of elephants and their lifelong caretakers were left without financial support and have since been forced to beg for food on crowded city streets. The Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project is designed to help these surviving elephants and the people that care for them. The project is grounded on the basis of art functioning as charity, or art for the betterment of people as a whole.

The idea of art as charity is a largely original concept, although based in a long line of art rhetoric. Back in the 1920’s, Russian theorist, Chuzhak, coined the term, “life building” based upon his studies of Alexandar Bogdanov’s Organizational Theory of Art, in which Bogdanov theorized that art, as with any human activity, is based upon organization. Art, Bogdanov argued, was simply the organization of colors, lines, shapes, medium, etc. Under this premise, Bogdanov claimed that art of the future would involve the actual organization of people themselves, hopefully for the betterment of those peoples’ lives.

S.F. Art Institute halts exhibition showing killing of animals

March 29, 2008

 Citing threats of violence by animal rights activists, the San Francisco Art Institute said Saturday that it is canceling a controversial exhibition that included video clips of animals being bludgeoned to death, as well as a public forum it had scheduled to address the controversy.

“We’ve gotten dozens of threatening phone calls that targeted specific staff people with death threats, threats of violence and threats of sexual assaults,” said Art Institute President Chris Bratton. “We remain committed to freedom of speech as fundamental to this institution, but we have to take people’s safety very seriously.”

The exhibit that sparked the controversy was a one-person show by Paris artist Adel Abdessemed called “Don’t Trust Me,” which opened March 19.

Along with a variety of other elements, the show included a series of video loops of animals being bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer in front of a brick wall. The animals killed included a pig, goat, deer, ox, horse and sheep.

Animal welfare groups had attacked the video clips as degrading and cruel, and accused Abdessemed of killing animals for the sake of art.

Click here for the full article.

Fabian Peña turns his obsession with the cockroach into art

March 19, 2008


While growing up in Cuba, Fabian Peña became fascinated by the patterns left by bug splatter on the floors and walls of his home.

“My grandfather would swat insects with a rolled-up copy of Granma, and their squashed remains made an impression on me,” he recalls. “Later on in my work, I began giving bugs the possibility of commenting on man’s existential condition after their death. I know it’s a bit absurd.”

His medium of choice these days is the Periplaneta americana, or the common American cockroach.

Click here for the full article.

NYC Artist Uses Dead Animals in Art

February 3, 2008


In front of a shuttered Chinatown store, artist Nate Hill rummaged through a pile of trash, fishing for the tools of his craft in someone else’s garbage.

“Oh, look, a flounder!” he said, as he dug in one bin wearing blue surgical gloves and drew out a quivering white slip of fish. “Does anyone want some? I think there’s more.”

There were no immediate takers among the half dozen or so people who had followed Hill on a drizzly night for a tour of his favorite spots for digging through Chinatown garbage.

The goal: Find interesting dead animals to make into art.

The 30-year-old artist has been using animal carcasses to craft his “animal kingdom,” as he refers to it, since 1999. The results are grotesque or sculptural, depending on your point of view. In Hill’s hands, a puppy’s head just as easily goes with a turkey neck and fish bladder as armadillo fingernails and birds’ legs make abstract art-in-a-jar.

The monthly Chinatown tour, which sometimes draws dozens of people for a sojourn rife with the stink of rotting fish, is billed as educational, but it’s mostly performance: The artist often shows up in costume, most recently as an army parachutist.

“I’m totally self-taught,” he said. “To put it simply, what I do is cut up the animals, I sew them together in a different way, and then I submerge them in rubbing alcohol to preserve them.”

He considers himself a member of a loosely defined group of “rogue taxidermists” who sidestep the traditional craft of taxidermy that aims to make lifelike replicas by preserving and stuffing animal skins. Along with the garbage cans of Chinatown, he said gets most of his animals from hunters, roadkill and taxidermists.

At the same time Hill’s artwork attracts a following of hipsters, it raises questions from traditional taxidermists and even his fellow artists, including one of his collaborators.

“I’m a vegetarian,” said comedian and musician Jessica Delfino, who has been a narrator on two episodes of “Chop Chop,” a video series Hill produces that is posted on YouTube. “I do have mixed feelings. I do think art is important. And I think animals are sacred.”

She said she was not so sure she could narrate another episode of Hill’s videos.

One episode has Hill sewing together parts of a rabbit, a duck and a chicken. That video was taken down from YouTube following complaints.

Asked about the ethics of his art, Hill responds: “I eat meat. I feel like we can use animals to enrich us … physically as well as mentally.”

John Janelli, a board member of the National Taxidermy Association and a working taxidermist in New Jersey, said there’s no comparison between what he does and Hill’s methods.

“That’s not taxidermy,” Janelli said. “That’s a concoction.”

Janelli, a historian of sorts on the subject, said such “novelty taxidermy” is not new, and has in the past included the piecing together of different animals to create creatures that don’t exist in nature. But he said that to qualify as taxidermy, traditional techniques must be used.

A few years ago, a group of artists formed the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists. Robert Marbury, an artist and founding member of the group, said that much of the works produced by its members evoke themes of reuse and recycling in a time of heightened environmental concern.

“Traditional taxidermists would not think twice that this is in the same realm,” he said.

Hill said he felt more like a “folk” artist, given his lack of formal training in the arts. His intent, he said, is similar to “the guy who sits in his basement and has his train set, and he has all the people and he makes mountains … that’s the kind of thing that I want, but I want to make it with real flesh.”

On the Net:

The original article was found here.

The Insides of Bears

January 24, 2008

Bears, is a series of portraits of the most unusual sort: ordinary teddy bears that have been turned inside out and restuffed. Each animal’s appearance is determined by the necessities of the manufacturing process. Simple patterns and devices never meant to be seen are now prominent physical characteristics, giving each one a distinctly quirky personality: their fasteners become eyes, their seams become scars, and their stuffing creeps out in the most unexpected places. Together these images form a topology of strange yet oddly familiar creatures. They are at once hideous yet cuddly, disturbing yet endearing, absurd yet adorable, while offering a metaphor for us all to consider. These bears, which have lived and loved and lost as much as their owners, have suffered and endured through it all. It is by virtue of revealing their inner core might we better understand our own.

Click here to learn more about this series by Kent Rogowski.