Art News and Opinion: July 8, 2010

Frida Kahlo via TheyHumm

Tuesday marked the birthday of Frida Kahlo, as celebrated by Google’s homepage for the day. The nod to the late Mexican painter was quite the treat, observed Guardian blogger Jonathan Jones, who argues that although critics in the art world often snub Kahlo’s work, her portraiture deserves to be compared to the likes of more modern artists such as Tracey Emin and Sophie Calle. Often lumped in the surrealist movement, Jones defends Kahlo’s work as liberating for female artists everywhere. The feminist icon became more trendy in the 1980s and 90s, as her work was collected by Madonna, and later inspired a powerful film about the artist’s tragic life.

Reminding the reader of the immense buying power that a logo can contain, Hyperallergic writer Janelle Grace discusses the tremendous onslaught of outraged creative responses to BP ever since the start of the Gulf oil spill. Many of the artistic outcries revolve around reappropriating BP’s current logo that resembles a flower—symbolizing a supposed care for the environment—to something a bit more soiled, given the company’s solo responsibility for the disaster. Grace gives a good sampling of artists: some amateur graphic designers and some seasoned professional–all united under the same wish to see BP receive as little support from the community as possible. Several nationwide contests have been held to find the best emotionally packed logos. Grace praises several senior graphic designers for their “less is more” approach, as their logos tend to be subtle and effective.

Caravaggio has been in art news quite a bit lately, first with the 400th anniversary of his death, and most recently with the remarkable discovery of what appears to be the bones of the master artist himself. Laura McLean-Ferris of The Independent explores a new exhibition at the London-based gallery Whitfield Fine Art. The exhibition does not chronicle Caravaggio’s own work, but instead pieces that are in some way connected to the artist and his style. Paintings by Caravaggio’s rivals and followers don the gallery, some of them admittedly beautifully composed and rather interesting. Nonetheless, McLean-Ferris concludes that something is obviously missing: the artist that ties it all together. She reasons that the viewer is left robbed of some truly great art, among pieces that are indeed Caravaggesque, but just not Caravaggio.

Writing for The New York Times, Roberta Smith reviews a new sculptural installation at the Gagosian Gallery by artist Tatiana Trouvé. This is the first American exhibition for the Italian-born, Paris-based sculptor, who is in her 40s—a fact that perhaps contributes to the maturity of her work, explains Smith. Elements of the exhibit include expansive wall drawings, bronze shoes, and interesting architectural installations. The work is reminiscent of that by peers such as Damien Hirst and Richard Artschwager. Despite her given admirations of the artist, Smith sharply chides Trouvé’s opening line in her artistic statement, which describes the work as lying “in an open space.” Smith goes on to say that the sculptural pieces from the Italian artist are impressive, but not impressive enough to set her apart from her unfortunate clichéd statement.

Susan Stamberg of NPR delightfully writes about another talent of Impressionist master Claude Monet: his green thumb. Stamberg chronicles Monet’s decision to purchase his home in Giverny, just outside of Paris, and the property on which he would cultivate his immense garden. She observes that before his move to the picturesque farm in 1883, Monet’s subjects were often manmade, such as haystacks and railroad stations. At Giverny however, Monet created compositions by planting his gardens exactly how he wanted to paint them. The pond that is found in so many of his works was, and still is, tenderly cared for. Stamberg regards the greatness of Claude Monet to that of his gardening handiwork, as most of his well-known and cherished paintings were created in his own backyard.

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.

One response to “Art News and Opinion: July 8, 2010”

  1. rosedeniz says:

    Interesting about Frida Kahlo's resurgence in popularity in the 80's and 90's – that's when I learned about her for the first time and was captivated. That means her work has been part of my artistic lexicon from the beginning, and has certainly shaped my notion of art and feminism.

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