Art News Headlines: June 5, 2011
And Then We Saw The Daughters of the Minotaur, Leonora Carrington, 1953
Leonora Carrington, who was considered one of the last of the original surrealists in addition to being a sculptor and writer, has died, Mexico’s National Arts Council confirmed Thursday. She was 94. Carrington is best remembered for her haunting, dreamlike works that often focused on bizarre ritual-like scenes with birds, cats, unicorn-like creatures and other animals as observers or apparent participants. Once the lover of German artist Max Ernst, Carrington was also part of a famous wave of artistic and political émigrés who arrived in Mexico in the 1930s and early 1940s. In the male-dominated realm of surrealism, she was a member of a rare trio of Mexico-based female surrealists along with the likes of Frida Kahlo. Homero Aridjis, longtime poet and friend to Carrington said, “She was the last great living surrealist. She was a living legend.” Friend and promoter Dr. Isaac Masri said she died Wednesday of old age, after being hospitalized. “She had a great life, and a dignified death, as well, without suffering,” he commented.
Last week, astronomers unveiled the most complete 3D map of the local universe—out to a distance of 380 million light-years—ever created. No easy feat, to be sure. Taking over 10 years to complete, the 2MASS Redshift Survey (2MRS) also is notable for extending closer to the Galactic plane than previous surveys—a region that’s generally obscured by dust. Karen Masters of the University of Portsmouth presented the new map in a press conference at the 218th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. “The 2MASS Redshift Survey is a wonderfully complete new look at the local universe, particularly near the Galactic plane,” Masters said. “We’re also honoring the legacy of the late John Huchra, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who was a guiding force behind this and earlier galaxy redshift surveys.” A galaxy’s light is redshifted, or stretched to longer wavelengths, by the expansion of the universe. The farther the galaxy, the greater its redshift, so redshift measurements yield galaxy distances—the vital third dimension in a 3D map. In other words, they just took GPS to a whole new level.
For the first time ever, a painting is being made into a literal living wall outside the National Gallery in London, bringing a new definition to “living art.” With over 8,000 living plants, General Electric has sponsored a masterpiece brought to life with a version of Van Gogh’s famous painting A Wheatfield, with Cypresses. Situated on the western side of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, the living painting will be grown throughout this summer and autumn, remaining in place until the end of October 2011. This particular work was chosen because the strong bands of color can be reproduced effectively with the plants. The project has been constructed by specialist horticulture and design company ANS, utilizing over 8,000 plants of over 26 different varieties. To complete the task, each plant was designated a specific location in one of three modules according to a numbered drawing which replicated the image. The modules were then grown vertically at a nursery ready for installation. A Wheatfield, with Cypresses was painted in September 1889, when Van Gogh was in the St-Rémy mental asylum, near Arles, where he remained a patient from through May 1890.
In honor of the recent film “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” currently playing in theaters and featuring Disney’s adaptation of the legendary pirate Blackbeard, archaeologists recovered the first anchor from what is believed to be the wreck of Blackbeard’s flagship off the North Carolina coast Friday. This move may alter plans regarding how to save the remaining 300-year-old artifacts from the central part of the ship. The anchor is 11 feet, 4 inches long with arms that are 7 feet, 7 inches across. It was covered with concretion—a mixture of shells, sand and other debris attracted by the leaching wrought iron—and a few sea squirts. Its weight was estimated at 2,500 pounds to 3,000 pounds. In 1717, Blackbeard captured a French slave ship and renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge. Blackbeard, whose real name was widely believed to be Edward Teach or Thatch, settled in Bath and received a governor’s pardon. Volunteers with the Royal Navy killed him in Ocracoke Inlet in November 1718, five months after the ship thought to be Queen Anne’s Revenge sank. The ship’s shipwreck site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, has already yielded more than 250,000 artifacts.
In other art news, New York’s Gagosian Gallery recently announced Lindsay Lohan, Richard Phillips’ intriguing first short film. In his 90-second motion portrait of troubled actress Lindsay Lohan, Phillips draws on the conventions of classical portraiture in paintings with relation to the mediated representations of contemporary popular culture. In other words, the film depicts Lohan in a number of classical poses, with references to iconic moments in film, such as the smoldering Brigitte Bardot in Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt, or the searing psychosexual interplay of Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullman in Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. To create a timeless and psychologically charged Hollywood setting, Phillips repurposed a remote Malibu mansion—classical cinema meets modernity. Through Phillips’s lens, the defiant openness that makes Lohan so compelling on film becomes the ignition key of each image—the pause before action allows for the identities of actor and director to meld, where expectation and projection contrast with the construction of multilayered identity.
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.