Art News Headlines: August 17, 2010

Chuck Close self-portrait

You’ve heard of portrait painter Chuck Close, and you’ve heard of political satirist Stephen Colbert, but you probably have never pictured the two together—until last Thursday, when Colbert featured Close in an entertaining segment on his show, The Colbert Report. Colbert interviewed the celebrated artist, who briefly described his evolution as a portraitist and broke down the unique pixilated process he undergoes for which he is so renowned. Many of Colbert’s less educated fans are scratching their heads at Colbert’s atypical guest, writing comments on the talk show host’s Facebook page such as “You’re getting pretty lame on the guests Stephen.” Such comments were mowed over by Colbert’s art-loving viewers, who responded harshly to criticism of Close, describing the artist as “brilliant”. Presumably Close’s appearance on the show is in relation to his current exhibition of prints at the Corcoran Gallery, but whatever the reason, fans of the celebrated painter applaud Colbert’s nod to the artist.

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“Don’t do a plain blue sky,” remarks Britain’s newest painting prodigy Kieron Williamson when asked about his work. The young artist has been dubbed by the press as a “mini Monet”. Oh, and he’s only 8 years old. Kieron has become a global sensation practically overnight, selling his impressionist style landscape paintings for thousands of dollars with a long waiting list. Parents Keith and Michelle Williamson, neither of them artists themselves, are proud of their son—but anxious to see how the fame and attention will affect him. So far it doesn’t seem to be doing any damage. The young blonde boy is still a kid at heart when describing his work, but as soon as he gets a paintbrush in hand, the magic flies. Pablo Picasso is famously remembered for once saying that there are no child prodigies in art because any genius should simply be dismissed as childhood creativity, but then again Picasso himself was a child prodigy who went on to revolutionize the art world. Perhaps young Kieron awaits a similar path.

Michelangelo’s portrayal of David in his famous 1504 statue has long been a symbol of Florence, as well as a lucrative tourist magnet—reaping roughly eight million euros per year. A longstanding dispute over who actually owns the masterpiece has reopened between the Italian government and the city of Florence, according to reports on Monday. Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi is certain the sculpture belongs to the city, citing documents proving his claim. Renzi argues that the ownership of the Carrara marble masterpiece had been transferred to his city in 1871, when Florence lost its status as temporary capital of the newly unified Italy and it shifted to Rome, but government lawyers insist that the work belongs to Rome. Many are chiding the argument as petty and suggest that the two infrastructures utilize a joint ownership, which would enable both parties to enjoy tourist revenue.

Winner of Bravo’s recently concluded new show Work of Art: The Next Great Artist Abdi Farah is currently enjoying his earnings and prizes, including a just-opened exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. A recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, the figurative paintings, sculptures, and drawings on view reflect Farah’s investigation of the human body as a material entity that possesses the power to transcend its physical state of being. The result is a moving exhibit that interchanges racial and biblical themes coupled with infrared imaging. Work of Art: The Next Great Artist is a creative competition show among contemporary artists from across the United States for a cash prize and this exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, similar to other Bravo shows that pit fashion designers and chefs against one other in order to win notoriety and cash. Farah’s exhibition, entitled Work of Art: Abdi Farah, will be on view through October 17.

The National Gallery of Australia today unveiled an exciting new acquisition for the national art collection in Canberra, Within without, a monumental “Skyspace” installation by renowned American artist James Turrell. Turrell’s medium is light—which he plays with in Within without to create an otherworldly installation composed of concrete, water, earth, and landscaping. The artist remarked, “Within without offers an unhurried and unique perceptual experience,” adding that the most delightful and dramatic time to experience the light of Canberra through the installation is at dusk or dawn. Turrell has created similar experiences in major cities all over the world. Located in the new Australian Garden, Within without will be open for a preview period from today through August 22 for a few hours each day, prior to the opening of the National Gallery of Australia’s larger Stage 1 Building Project in Spring 2010.

Laura Lawson paints when writer’s block strikes and writes when painter’s block strikes. She has studied fine art at LCAD and is pursuing a degree in journalism. Recently diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, she strives to bring hope to those without vision through her blog. She is currently working on her first book about coping with vision loss.

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