Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bryan Wynter ( Laetitia Beck)

Bryan Wynter
Bryan Wynter (8 September 1915 – 2 February 1975) was an abstract painter born in London, Great Britian. Despite his father will to succeed him as the head of the family business, at the age of 22, Wynter insisted on leaving the firm so he could attend art school. In 1937-38 he attended the Westminster School of Art, and in 1938-40 at the Slade School of Fine Art in Oxford.

Wynter enjoyed observing natural phenomena and kept notebooks with detailed observation on various subjects. His curiosity about nature  became the base of his work. During the 1950s after years of experimentation, Wynter’s painting became more abstract. The elements became harder to distinct and the scenes became harder to identify. His inspirations were different to those of his fellows in the artistic world. Wynter was interested in surrealism and was influenced by the English Neo- Romantic movement. 


As a response to one of these paintings, Wynter stated the following: “ I think of my paintings as a source of imagery, something that generated imagery rather than contains it. Obviously it is I who have put into them what they contain but I have done so with as little conscious interference as possible, allowing them at ever stage in their growth to indicate their own necessities.”  Here Wynter emphasis on the power of paintings and the importance of having the viewer reflect on personal experience without any outside interpretation. 

These paintings immediately grasped my attention when I was browsing through various art.
The amount of work and imagination just amazed me and changed the way I think about abstract painting. I learned about the idea behind abstract work which is the desire to evoke deep unconscious emotions and the importance of being aware of our feelings when observing a painting. 

Bryan Wynter by Michael Bird 2010

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Andy Warhol by Savannah Chiavacci

 “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” When Andy Warhol made this statement back in 1968, even he probably did not realize how prophetic his words would become. With the advent of reality TV as well as social media, those who normally might have remained obscure have certainly become “world famous.”
Warhol felt art should be accessible to all, and although most people believe his quote refers to fame being fleeting, he was also referring to changes occurring so rapidly in the art scene.

Warhol was born on August 6th,1928 to Andrej and Julia Warhola, Czechoslovakian immigrants who had settled in Pittsburgh, Pa. Raised a devout Byzantine Catholic, Warhol continued to attend mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in New York City throughout his life.

Warhol’s father, a coal miner, died before he began attending high school, and although the family lived modestly, Warhol had begun attending free art classes at the Carnegie Institute as well as taking and developing his own photographs. Warhol went on to attend Carnegie Institute of Technology (Carnegie Mellon University) earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in pictorial design.

Female Fashion Figure 1950

After graduation in 1949, Warhol moved to Manhattan to find work as an illustrator. His first published work was in Glamour magazine in September 1949. Soon his unique style of drawing was winning numerous awards, and he began exhibiting his work at Serendipity 3, an ice cream parlor on the Upper East Side where he often entertained his friends and who helped him create a series of self-published artists’ books.

In the 1960’s Warhol began immersing himself in painting, and began his foray into Pop Art. The Pop Art movement began in the 1950’s in London in referencing the works of a small group of artists such as Richard Hamilton. Hamilton defined Pop as “Popular (designed for a mass audience); Transient (short term solution); Expendable (easily forgotten); Low Cost; Mass Produced; Young (aimed at Youth); Witty; Sexy; Gimmicky; Glamorous; and Big Business.” Hamilton set out to explore the hidden connotations of imagery taken directly from advertising and popular culture. Warhol first began painting using comic strip characters as his theme, but soon developed his “pop art” by debuting one of his most iconic paintings, The Campbell Soup Can series. After this came his famous celebrity portraits such as Marilyn Monroe and with it Warhol’s own celebrity status. In 1963, he created a studio known as “The Factory” where he was the lead artist to a battallion of factory art-workers churning out works often using screen-printing techniques. He premiered his first sculpture series which included hundreds of replicas of large supermarket boxes in a silver painted “Factory.” The Factory became more than just a studio, visited by artists, rock starts, actors and students, the space was transformed into a living fantasy world. A place for the “in crowd” to gather, becoming one of Manhattan’s premier cultural hotspots.

 Marilyn Manroe

Campbells Soup Cans

Warhol experimented with numerous mediums in nearly every artistic field. His early love of photography continued, shown with his numerous self-portraits, and he also began to explore cinematography. He produced numerous movies, over 60 in total, his most famous film Sleep depicted the poet John Giorno sleeping for six hours. Although panned by most critics, Warhol continued to develop this medium by hosting two TV shows into the 1980s. His first mass produced book, Andy Warhol’s Index, was published in 1967; and a mere 2 years later he founded the magazine Interview dedicated to promoting popular culture. Warhol also had a  close collaboration with the musical group, The Velvet Underground staging multimedia events on both sides of the US.

 Self Portrait, 1978
Self Portraits, 1963-64

Throughout the 1970’s Warhol was commissioned by hundreds of wealthy socialites and film stars as his celebrity status began to exceed his subjects. He himself had become a “pop star.” His frequent sightings at famous night clubs such as Studio 54 as well as frequent socializing with his famous cohorts Truman Capote, Liza Minnelli, and
Jackie Onassis perpetuated Warhol’s iconic status.

Portrait of McJagger, 1975

Warhol was a prolific artist, experimenting with numerous mediums throughout his career. In the 1980’s his collaboration with a few young artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat had him return to painting with a brush. He continued to produce avant-garde work up until his untimely death stemming from complications from gall bladder surgery at age 58. His two final exhibitions, the Last Supper paintings shown in Milan and his Sewn Photos shown in New York opened one month prior to his death in 1987.

The Last Supper, 1987

Andy Warhol died a multi-millionaire, his estate being worth a reported $220,000,000.
Both he and his art have been criticized as a testament to America’s materialism, but no one can deny his unique genius. His goal was to make art accessible to the masses; to counter the viewpoint that elite viewers insisted on imposing one singular art form. In the end, he gained wide acceptance from both spectrums of the public, and his work can be seen in collections next to traditional masterpieces. Over 8000 works can be viewed at the Andy Warhol Museum at Carnegie Mellon where this art collection includes media-paintings, drawings, sculpture, photographs, and prints.

But perhaps Warhol himself can best sum up his philosophy in these words:
“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum in the street is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, The President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”

  • The Warhol. Web. 5 Mar. 2013. <>. 
  • MoMA, art terms, Pop art <>
  • Tretiack, Philippe. Andy Warhol. New York, NY: n.p., 1997. Print. 
  • Warhol, Andy. Andy Warhol. New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publications,
         2008. Print. 

Martin Kippenberger by Pavlo Chubinskiy

I became interested in Martin Kippenberger after seeing his work featured in the arts section of The New York Times. After briefly seeing his work there, I searched for him online and was intrigued by the odd and bold images that resulted. They looked to be influenced by canonical art history and modern masters, yet had strange reversals of traditional forms unlike what I’ve encountered before. Some looked to be fluid and contorted at once, like Schiele or Matisse’s work. Others had an aspect of darkness or decadence to them, evoking Francis Bacon. These were just the works that took the artist as their subject—there was much more to say about the various other works in different mediums. I liked this sort of variety, and how, in looking at one of the pieces, I could feel a respite from daily worries while also enjoying both the composition and how it problematized the very content. Considering the aspects of his work that seem odd or have a paradoxical relationship, it’s no surprise that one of the major retrospectives of his work wound up being called The Problem Perspective.

 Martin Kippenberger was born in Dortmund, Germany, in 1953, and led a prolific but brief career until his death in Vienna, Austria in 1997 at the age of forty-four. In 1972 he studied art at the Hochschule für bildende Kunst in Hamburg, Germany. Thereafter Kippenberger traveled the world and had an output in many mediums, including paintings, found objects, installations, multiples, books, posters, and cards. Throughout his career he had worked in Berlin, Florence, New York, and Rio de Janiero. Kippenberger’s drive to produce novel work and attitude that no subject matter was quite sacred led to his fame as an artist and individual—he once declared in anticipation of the later reception his work that he was the ultimate embodiment of the art of the 1980s. There was substance to Kippenberger’s declaration as well: he drew on a variety of movements and philosophies in addition to mediums, including New Wave, Neo-Expressionism, pop art, old masters, and appropriation art. His oeuvre draws on everything accessible to the life of the individual in society, and even channels it through such that it often focuses on the artist in particular. Thus Kippenberger became increasingly well known for his ironic treatment of the artist in society as well as for the art process, canonical art history, and other artists. His prodigious output and limitless approach was slowed by his alcoholism, and he ultimately died of cancer. Kippenberger’s critical thinking about and tongue-in-cheek engagement with the position of the artist in society is evident in many of his works. In this piece, from the series Dear Painter, Paint For Me, is shown a picture of a man, happening to be Kippenberger himself, which was painted from an original photograph form. A poster-painter named “Werner,” who Kippenberger later reinvents as “Werner Kippenberger”, signs the painting. Central to the production of this piece is Kippenberger’s notion of selection as being the core of producing artwork. He chose to have a poster-painter paint the work for him, yet it portrays not just anyone but the actual artist, Martin Kippenberger himself, sitting on a trashed sofa in the middle of New York. Kippenberger’s choice to sit precisely in this way for a self-portrait photograph reinforces the notion of choosing to do art in a way that is contrary to tradition because of how unusual the location for the sitter is. The three reversals that riddle this process and finished product are also what add up to the ultimate irony, that the focus of the work is in the end not just on the selections of any artist, but Kippenberger himself. In this way he achieves a respectful yet jocular distance in casting the position of the artist in society. In this, completed in Los Angeles, is one of a Fred the Frog series done in 1988-91, in which Kippenberger takes a picture of the struggling artist, here represented by a frog, and combines it with others such that the semiotic connotation of the final piece is conflicted. The cross can be interpreted as connoting sacrifice, and the frog something blasphemous, but Kippenberger’s dunce-like frog with a coffee mug in hand and an egg in the other (harkening to some of his other work involve eggs and eggmen, a trope for the artist as well as a reference to the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus”) ends up being more of a synthesis of the two with an ironic twist, since the artist thus becomes one who has to both provide for the renewal of the collective condition through his or her work, yet in individual practice is far from a messiah, with the final message being both respectful and wry, since the artist himself transmits it not literally but through art. The same kind of engagement can be found in continuations featuring similar tropes, inverses such as The Modern House of Believing or Not, featuring the Guggenheim museum in a sardonic take asking just how much of a society is in the scope of art, or series of pieces focusing on the artist in other ways. In this piece from 1988, Kippenberger also takes the artist as his subject, though now drawing upon his knowledge of art history. Here he appears discontented in his underwear in the image of Picasso. By drawing on the figure of Picasso and yet also rendering him akin to Kippenberger himself, Kippenberger implicates the artist in the work. Although self-portraits were in some sense exhausted at this point in time, Kippenberger revived the genre, but in so doing also portrayed himself in a manner unlike traditionally staid and elegant self-portraiture. This reversal again puts the onus on the artist to portray people in some more essential manner in the age of media, but such that the artist himself, his position as artist, and how that position has been inherited are endowed with a heavy ordinariness.


 Kippenberger, Martin, Ann Goldstein, Diedrich Diederichsen, and Jutta Koether. Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective. Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2008. Print.

 Kippenberger, Martin, Doris Krystof, and Jessica Morgan. Martin Kippenberger. London: Tate, 2006.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Wayne Thiebaud (written by Finn Leslie)

Wayne Thiebaud is an American artist who was born in Arizona in 1920.  At the age of nine, he moved to Long Beach, California, where he grew up during the Great Depression.  At a young age, he started making posters for a movie theater and soon after discovered the art of animation.  He worked for the animation department at the Walt Disney Studios for one summer and drew the “in-between frames” for cartoons such as Goofy and Pinocchio.[1]  This entailed drawing thousands of individual frames that created the illusion that the animated characters were in motion.  This is where Thiebaud’s art career really began.

Thiebaud at Walt Disney Studios

Thiebaud went to junior college in the 1940s, but his art studies were interrupted by World War II.  He served in the Army as an artist and cartoonist, fortunately keeping him out of combat.  Afterwards, he married and moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a commercial artist and illustrator.  At the age of 29, he went back to college, at California State University, to receive degrees in art, art history, and education.  In order to support his family, Thiebaud decided to teach art to college students while simultaneously pursing a career as a serious painter. 

The subject matter of Thiebaud’s paintings was quite unique and inevitably led him to a successful career.  Simply put, he painted food.  His small canvasses showed brightly and pastel colored food products, including pies, cakes, gumballs, and ice cream cones.  These still lives, usually in shop window settings, used exaggerated colors and shadows to evoked feelings nostalgia.  Despite the novelty of his paintings, they didn’t gain popularity until the 1960s, when he met a famous New York art dealer, Allan Stone.

"Pies, Pies, Pies" (1961), by Wayne Thiebaud

"Cakes and Pies" (1995) by Wayne Thiebaud

His focus on consumer goods placed him under the Pop Art label that was also emerging around this time.  In New York, his paintings were shown alongside the work of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and James Rosenquist.  However, Thiebaud didn’t associate with these artists and preferred to describe himself as a traditional painter.  He once said, "Painting is more important than art.  Art--art we don't know what the hell it is--though we think we do, or try to do.  Whenever one of my students says he's off to do his art, I say, Not so fast," (Gopnik, 40).  

I recently noticed Thiebaud’s work in an English seminar at UNC that focuses on food and culture; his paintings have been featured on nearly every New Yorker Food issue, and I was immediately drawn to their unique colors and texture.  I went on to read more about his inspiration and understanding of art as a profession.  A fantastic article on Thiebaud by Adam Gopnik, entitled “An American Painter,” writes, “he seems to have been stirred by a lower, more commonplace lingua franca of American display…the soda fountain, the cosmetic counter, the hardware store—that entire world in which things seem to have been over-ordered, given more display value than the demands of buying and selling strictly demanded, “fetishized” beyond the intrinsic need to allure people in to buy glasses or bow ties or hammers and nails,” (Gopnik, 46).  He depicts these displays with thick paint that adds decadence to every canvas he touches.  As a result, the audience feels as though they are looking through glass at an abundance of cookie cutter consumer goods.  The intense shadows elicit the sentiment of nostalgic afternoon sunlight.  To this day, I feel that Thiebaud’s work is both unique and sensational.       


National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. 2013.

American Academy of Achievement, 2011.

Gopnik, Adam.  "An American Painter" in Steven A. Nash with Adam Gopnik, Wayne Thiebaud, A Paintings Retrospective (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2000), pp.39-67