This fantastic, ceramic mosaic portrait of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, entitled Frida The Fortune Teller, was created by Hastings, UK-based artist Susan Elliott. Intricately composed from found ceramics mounted on board, the work combines still life and classic portraiture with the timeless art of mosaic-making to create a stunning modern sculpture. Elliott’s practice includes other works made from found and recycled ceramic kitchen crockery, tourist mementos, novelty mugs, and badges, which are then are woven into more traditional mosaic tesserae (oneofthesmallpiecesusedinmosaicwork), creating multi faceted, jewel-like and iconic images. Priced at just $3900, Frida The Fortune Teller is one of my favorite pieces seen at this fall’s installment of the Affordable Art Fair NY, where this photo was taken this past weekend.
I even felt a bit nostalgic looking at Frida’s gorgeous flower crown of delicate pink, white and yellow ceramic roses and recognizing them as being quite similar to a small ceramic floral bouquet found in the home where I grew up. If you missed Susan’s beautiful and unique art at the AAFNY, you can see more of her cool mosaic portraits, including those of pop culture icons like David Bowie and Amy Winehouse, and get contact information for galleries in the UK that represent her, at This Link!
As an astute observer of Depression-era New York, Raphael Soyer (1899 – 1987) evoked the inner lives on anonymous city dwellers. His paintings frequently depict the new generation of female workers that he encountered in his Union Square neighborhood. Leaving the home for secretarial and clerical jobs, these woman depicted in Office Girls (1936) achieved an independence that was unprecedented for women of the period, even while unemployment remained high among men. While his artist colleagues usually portrayed these young women in optimistic terms, Soyer’s composition strikes a more ambivalent tone. Squeezed between a throng of rushing female workers and a glowering man, the central woman looks out at the viewer with a gaze that is at once weary and unflinching.
Larry Bell has exploited the transparency and reflectivity of glass to great effect since the beginning of his career, when he inserted a square piece of glass into a painting and titled it Ghost Box (1962). Pacific Red II (2017)
Over the years, Bell has developed coating and laminating techniques in order to tint his sculptures or imbue them with metallic or smoky finishes.
Here on the Whitney Museum 5th floor outdoor terrace, Bell has installed Pacific Red II (2017), a work consisting of six laminated glass cubes, each measuring six-by-eight feet, and enclosing another six-by-four foot glass box.
The multiple surface interplay and respond to their urban surroundings, when glass towers abound.
Read more about the painstakingly brutal installation process of Pacific Red II, and see a video, at This Link.
Juan Gris (1887 – 1927), a master of disguised images, presents a table brimming with coffee cups, stemmed wineglasses, a large white-footed fruit compote (see from the side and from above) containing thickly painted grapes, a bottle of red wine, a bottle of Bass extra stout ale with its distinctive red diamond logo, a newspaper, and a guitar. Yet, Still Life with Checked Tablecloth (1915) has another equally compelling identity: a Bull’s head. The coffee cup at lower center doubles as the animal’s snout, black-and-white concentric circle at left is a “bull’s eye,” the bottle of ale is an ear, and the sinuous edge of the guitar is the horn. The letters “EAU” on the wine label, which ostensibly stand for “bEAUjolais” can just as easily represent “taurEAU” (Bull).
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
“Hey, look at those upside down trees!” I shouted to my friends as we approached the entrance to Mass MoCA, the coolest contemporary art museum in the Universe. The trees turned out to be a work of art by Natalie Jeremijenko called Tree Logic (1999) in which six live trees are inverted and suspended from a truss made up of a metal armature, stainless steel planters, and telephone poles. In Tree Logic, the art of the piece is not found in its condition at any single point, but in the change of the trees over time.
Trees are dynamic natural systems, and Tree Logic reveals this dynamism. The familiar, almost iconic shape of the tree in nature is the result of the interplay between gravitropic and phototropic forces: the tree grows away from the earth and towards the sun. When inverted, the six trees in this experiment still grow away from the earth and towards the sun — so the natural predisposition of trees might well produce the most unnatural shapes over time, raising questions about what the nature of the natural is. I would love to be able to observe the trees as their foliage changes with seasons.
Mass MoCa is Locaed at 1040 MASS MoCA Way in North Adams, MA 01247
William Baziotes (1912 – 1963) embraced the Symbolist concept of “correspondences”– poetic analogies in which a single form can suggest multiple references. Also influenced by the surrealist works of Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro, Baziotes painted semi-abstract images with legible though ambiguous forms, like those found in Figure on a Tightrope (1947). In the year that he made this painting. Baziotes explained his process, “Each beginning suggests something. Once I sense the suggestion, I begin to paint intuitively. The [intuitive] suggestion then becomes a phantom that must be caught and made real.”
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
I walked by the City-As-School alternative High School in lower Manhattan on the way to visit a friend in an adjacent office building, but had to stop and investigate the array of colorful, abstract walls murals decorating the school’s courtyard entry. This one, which shows an upside down elephant, a cat, and a dancing girl amid a rather psychedelic background, is my favorite. I could not find the artist’s name on the mural or anywhere in the interwebs, so please leave any clues you might have as to his, or her, identity in the comments!
City-As-School is Located at 16 Clarkson St. (West of Varick) in New York City.