Tag Archives: culture

How Well Do You Know Frida Kahlo?

The life and work of Frida Kahlo is known throughout artist communities and much of the world. Numerous biographies and critiques have been written about the Mexican painter, and in 2002, Salma Hayek brought the infamous character to life in the movie Frida.

Despite the broad reach of this historic woman, a recent art exhibit is raising a perplexing question: how well do any of us know Frida Kahlo?

Frida Kahlo’s Complete Collection

In San Diego, California, an art exhibit at the Naval Training Center at Liberty Station boasts having all 123 of Kahlo’s paintings on display. The only problem is that none of the paintings are completed by the acclaimed artist.

The title of the exhibit, “The Complete Frida Kahlo: Her Paintings, Her Life, Her Story” is thought to be misleading, as all of the art work are replicas.

The Missing Pieces

Many of those who have visited the displays are unaware that these pieces are merely facsimiles of the real paintings. Disclaimers stating the truth are hard to find and often overlooked.

If this art is not the work of Frida Kahlo, then who should it be accredited to? Four artists from China are responsible for replicating the 123 paintings, but they are not named anywhere throughout the exhibit.

However, the spotlight shines on the couple who arranged this exhibit. Dr. Mariella Remund and Hans-Jürgen Gehrke invested 30 years and their life savings into this project. Five years ago, they decided to present their project to the public. When asked about what drove them to put together this extensive collection, Remund responded, “…we are crazy.” The pair reportedly loves Mexico and admires Mexican culture. They especially enjoy Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

Completely Dishonest or Just Unconventional?

Despite receiving appropriate rights from Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums Trust to replicate the paintings, Remund and Gehrke did not properly advertise these paintings as replicas. The show has been referred to as “completely dishonest” by notable art critics.

Remund stands her ground though. She is not worried that some people think the pieces are Frida Kahlo originals. Nevertheless, she has an 8.5” by 11” sheet of paper displayed at the entrance of the exhibit explaining the paintings are replicas.

What is an art exhibit that has a complete collection of replicated art work? Dishonest or unconventional? Is it a unique approach to honoring historic art, or downright (as Remund says) “crazy”?

Read more Segmation blog posts about Historic Artist:

Katsushika Hokusai – Creative Japanese Artist

The Expressive Vincent van Gogh

Jan van Eyck – Renaissance Realist

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“Morbid Curiosity”–A Chicago Cultural Center Exhibit

The Chicago Cultural Center opened a very unique and intense art exhibit in January called “Morbid Curiosity.” The exhibit is truly unique because it showcases the work not of a singular artist, but of a collector. The art exhibit is extremely intense because its theme is death.

Richard Harris has spent twelve years collecting pieces of art that convey the many themes of death. The Chicago Cultural Center has over 1,000 of Harris’s pieces on display–they include artifacts, photographs, and decorative objects.

Surprisingly, this is only a portion of the pieces that Harris has collected over the years. His entire collection of death-related art totals more than 1,500 pieces. The museum’s curators, alongside Harris, created a replica of the Cultural Center in order to choose which pieces should be included and how they should be exhibited. Several practice runs led to the many-roomed “Morbid Curiosity” exhibit.

The goal of the exhibit is to address the many facets of death. One entire section of the Chicago Cultural Center is devoted to Mexico’s Day of the Dead. This portion of the exhibit contains a funeral procession of death-related artwork including altar paintings, drawings, and photography.

Another room offers a religious perspective on death. Christian and Catholic artwork provides a foundation on which to examine the common fate we all share in our relationship with death. Artistic images are used to relate the concept of death to the individual.

One room in the Chicago Cultural Center has been affectionately dubbed “the war room” and contains pieces of art that reflect the toll that human action, particularly war, can have on human life.

The exhibit also includes a 13 foot chandelier made of 3,000 plaster bones, 50 photographs, dozens of skulls, real and artistic representations, and Japanese pieces of art made from bone.

Be warned–this exhibit is not for the squeamish. However, “Morbid Curiosity” is perhaps the most suitable name for this exhibit. After all, death may very well be the single thing we all have in common. Richard Harris, along with the Chicago Cultural Center, has afforded us the opportunity to examine how different cultures, religions, and individual actions relate to death. The exhibit ends in July.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ent-0126-museums-morbid-20120125,0,7002015.story

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Romare Bearden and Abstract Expressionist Art

Romare Bearden was an artist whose personal style went against the “mainstream” of art in the post World War II era. Overtime, Bearden’s style did not change as other artists’ did. He remained consistent in his abstract and expressive approach.  This is evident in all of his paintings and even more so in his collages.

Being an abstract expressionist, Bearden’s individual style developed over time.  At first he drew cartoons for magazines, then he began to paint and finally he started making collages.  All of his art was influenced by locations, people, and culture. His many travels along the east coast of the United States influenced his art work, along with his loyalty to his heritage.

The culture of African American life was a large focus for him. He shed much light on the oppression of African American people from the time of the Great Depression, through the Civil Rights Movement and onto their advancements toward equality.  He also concentrated on his heritage, depicting slaves and their migration to the north.

In addition to this, another common theme of his art was jazz music.  This greatly advanced his individual style. His art relayed one common theme but his style was advanced by his personal interpretation of jazz music.  Bearden constructed collages in the same way jazz musicians created a song — with many staccato notes played by multiple instruments. In the same sense, Bearden cut and pasted many small excerpts of paintings and photographs to create a larger work of art.

He also added paint to his collages making many pieces a hybrid of two art forms; half of the piece was painted and the other half was cut and pasted. Such creativity earned him the title of an abstract expressionist artist. While abstract elements were painted, the collage portions were realistic images taken from photographs.

The reason Bearden used this technique was because he felt that art portraying the lives of African American’s did not give full value to the individual.  This is why he used collages. In doing so he was able to combine abstract art with real images so that people of different cultures could grasp the subject matter of the African American culture: The people. This is why his theme always exemplified people of color.

Through the work of Romare Bearden, many lives were affected and individuals were better positioned to understand the struggles that African Americans faced throughout the 20th century.  The heritage of African American’s influenced an entire movement that advanced human equality.  Their struggle produced freedom.  In effect, the outside the box thinking of Romare Bearden created his unique style. A freedom all of its own.

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Did you love this Segmation blog post? If yes, great! Here are a few more posts you will enjoy:

— How the Father of Abstract Expressionism Forsook Fame to Pursue Art
https://segmation.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/how-father-abstract-expressionism-forsook-fame-pursue-art/

— The Beauty of Abstract Art
https://segmation.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/paint-by-number-kits-create-thousands-artists/

— Knitting Is More Than an Art, It Is a Cause
https://segmation.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/knitting-more-than-art-cause/

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Catch a Wave

American recording artists, the Beach Boys said it best; “Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world.”

Is this how surfing feels? The mighty energy of water folding under one’s feet must be exhilarating, and there is no doubt that it mimics the sensation of sitting on top of the world. But how many people really get to experience this sensation?

Not only is it challenging, it’s a rather limiting exercise, especially considering one’s location may prohibit their access to these energetic waves. That’s why people living in places like Hawaii, California, and Australia are more likely to take up this activity, while those in landlocked regions don’t necessarily have the option. However, the sight of an individual climbing the wall of a crashing wave is alluring to almost everyone. This is why it has become such a popular setting in paintings, photographs, and even movies.

Paintings

There are many ways of painting a wave. Some artists like to paint them as precise as possible, down to the fine detail of the ocean spray. Others, make the art more abstract. However, one thing is necessary when painting a wave– it has to be inspired by the energy of the water.

Surf artist Peter Pierce says that his wave art is, “… inspired by the actual act of riding quality waves. Likewise, the true ‘surf artist’ understands the rareness/value of quality waves via living a life passionately devoted to the pursuit of such waves… ”

Therefore, Pierce paints waves because he knows how to ride waves. But people can also “ride a wave” from the comfort of their beach chair, and capture a similar energy with their paint brush.

Photography

Capturing this energy with a photograph is a bit more challenging. The surf culture itself is very active, and to keep up with the waves, and people riding them, one must be quick to point and shoot.

With the speed and force of rising and falling water, the active lifestyle of surfers and surf artists can be down-right-dangerous. In fact, photographers who desire to get the perfect picture oftentimes put themselves into compromising positions. In pursuit of a breathtaking image, they will put themselves into the water with the surfers but without the advantage of having a floating board (and instead happen to be carrying expensive, water-sensitive equipment).

Although, perhaps that is the price these individuals pay to do what many others cannot: Surf art photographers are able to literally catch a wave so that those who can’t surf still experience the sensation of sitting on top of the world.

Movies

Movies about surfing, and more specifically, movies about the sea creatures who live beneath these transportable waves, have been popular for quite some time. And why wouldn’t they be? A movie about surfing has many elements that a successful movie needs. This is because the active culture of surfing is inviting, crashing waves are thrilling, and the risk of danger is high.

Just this year, the most recent surfing movie, Soul Surfer, was released. With an all-star Hollywood cast and amazing cinematography, the movie captivated its audience and shared the thrill of catching a wave.

There are countless other movies that survey the surfing culture. All of them have something in common — the artistic capturing of natural scenery.

Even though many people don’t have access to large bodies of water conducive for surfing, most everyone enjoys the energy that comes from catching a wave. Whether they can actually ride a wave or just look at one, energy exudes from the image of swelling water that is on the verge of collapse. This allows surfers, artists, and observers of both, to catch a wave and sit on top of the world.

Thank you featured surf artists Peter Pierce and Trent Mitchell. If you want to know more about this art wave and craze, visit http://www.clubofthewaves.com.

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