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Sigmar Polke’s Work To Be Shown In Tate Modern In October

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Although he has been dead a few years, the enigmatic and masterfully talented Sigmar Polke (1941- 2010) is not soon to be forgotten. Largely evasive of being pin-pointed into any one area of craft, Polke was an exceptional postwar generation artist who crossed all genres and utilized his excessive wit and intelligence to comment on the world he lived in. The largest showing of his work to date is being presented at various museums in the world. Having just closed at the MoMA in New York, it will open up for exhibition at the Tate Modern in October 2014 before going to the Museum Ludwig in Germany in 2015.

The exhibition write-up from the MoMA show summarizes his legacy:

“Sigmar Polke (German, 1941–2010) was one of the most voraciously experimental artists of the twentieth century. This retrospective is the first to encompass the unusually broad range of mediums he worked with during his five-decade career, including painting, photography, film, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, television, performance, and stained glass, as well as his constant, highly innovative blurring of the boundaries between these mediums. Masquerading as many different artists—making cunning figurative paintings at one moment and abstract photographs the next—he always eluded easy categorization.

Beneath Polke’s irreverent wit, promiscuous intelligence, and chance operations lay a deep skepticism of all authority—artistic, familial, religious, and governmental. It would be impossible to understand this attitude, and the creativity that grew out of it, without considering Polke’s biography and its setting in twentieth-century European history: in 1945, near the end of World War II, his family fled Silesia (in present-day Poland) for what would soon be Soviet-occupied East Germany, and then escaped again, this time to West Germany, in 1953. Polke grew up at a time when many Germans deflected blame for the atrocities of the Nazi period with the alibi “I didn’t see anything.”

Polke scrutinized the malleability of vision. Highly attuned to the differences between appearance and reality, he was wary of the notion that there might be one universal truth. His relentlessly inventive works, ranging in size from the intimacy of a notebook to monumental paintings, collapse conventional distinctions—between high culture and low, figuration and abstraction, the heroic and the banal—allowing flux, rather than stability, to prevail.”

Don’t forget to go to London and see it in person! It’s only a plane away!

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Suren Manvelyan’s Incredible Macro Images Of Animal Eyes

Kramer’s parrot

Kramer’s parrot

Blue-yellow macaw parrot

Blue-yellow macaw parrot

Discus fish

Discus fish

Caiman

Caiman

While these images might look like strange and surreal landscapes, they are actually macro images of different creatures. Armenian photographer Suren Manvelyan’s series Animal Eyes captures an extreme viewpoint that gives the average eye an otherworldly feel.  The crackles, vibrant colors, and individual hairs are all visual in these beautiful photos. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Manvelyan’s handiwork – he’s also shown the human eye in incredible detail.

Manvelyan is not just a photographer, but also holds a PhD in theoretical physics. In these images he combines technology, science, and art to show us something that’s unexpectedly familiar.  We see brilliant blue pools, red rings, and crystallized whites; the close proximity makes this work appears as places to go hiking rather than something like a parrot’s eyes.  (Via Featureshoot)

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Cynthia Consentino’s Surreal Ceramics Mix And Match Heads, Torsos And Legs

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You won’t find cadavers or skeletal remains in ceramic artist Cynthia Consentino’s “Exquisite Corpse Series.” The project takes its name from the Parisian Surrealist parlor game, in which each player wrote a word or drew an image on a sheet of paper, folded the paper to conceal it, and passed it to the next player for his or her contribution. The results were wildly incongruous poems and images, gathered ideas from many minds.

In Consentino’s series, hers is the only mind at work, and the results are strangely charming and more than a little disturbing. The hybrid figures combine animal with human and the occasion household object. They play with the idea of gender stereotypes, something that began to interest the artist after reading a study where five-year-olds were asked to name a representational animal.

“The boys identified with animals that were predatory, and the girls with animals that were cute and cuddly. One girl even answered with a flower. I thought that there would also be girls who wanted to be tigers, but then I remembered loving playing a flower in a school play at that age. (Source)”

To loosen these gender constructs, she made varied heads, torsos, and legs then assembled them in ceramic sculptures of various configurations, some almost life-size. With their softly rounded limbs and pastel and pretty color palette they can seem almost sweet, but the fierce wolves heads and deadly weapons belie their innocence.

“My style seems a bit nostalgic, something from the fifties, or from folk art. It derives much of its character from children’s things: fairy tale, cartoons, dolls, games, as well as the domestic world. The work often incorporates imagery that is loaded with symbolism and history, such as flowers, animals and the ceramic figurine. It is very much about the familiar, things of our dreams, our stories, our childhood. (Source)”

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Eli Durst Re-presents The Mundane Like You’ve Never Seen Before

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Eli Durst takes photographs of things that should be boring. Somehow his point of view makes them completely captivating. Each one described in its essence, such as a turtle in a tank, or two men eating in a McDonalds parking lot, seems utterly unexciting. Seeing the photograph, though, there will always be something that will catch your eye and draw you in. A lot of it has to do with timing. He picks exactly the right moment, when the turtle pokes its head out of the water, or the woman with red hair tilts her head just so. The moments he captures seem pristine, although often they are anything but. How hard is it to ascribe pristine as the adjective to a teepeed tree? Still for Durst it seems the only appropriate word.

His series’ are eclectic, and so it is his aesthetic that holds them together, though patterns can emerge in the subject matter. There is a great deal of portraiture and focus on food, for instance. Together, each mix tells a story of a place (America), its people (normal), and their accompanying details (pets, a deep burn in someone’s back, or the most uninspired food spread I’ve ever seen). It’s really in these details that you get lost in wonder. Durst makes the normal totally enthralling.

 

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Olivia Knapp’s Drawings Are Still Lifes On Acid

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These ink drawings, saturated with detail, are the masterwork of Seattle artist Olivia Knapp. Knapp utilizes classic shading techniques from the Baroque period, putting a real spin on the classic still life. At first glance, her work appears to be a mishmash of objects borrowed from an antiquated medical book. Knapp orchestrates a hyper-stylized version of everyday elements within American culture: a Fruit Loops box, some headphones, items rigidly anchored to the 21st century American lexicon. In these drawings, they appear in a different light, making the items far more mysterious and surreal than we know them to be. The black crosshatching weaves in an inexplicable amount of detail, with forms that are tight from a distance and dissolve into their own internal network of lines when viewed in detail.

Her work stretches leisurely throughout the frame, exhibiting a sort of spaciousness that is vastly composed of the winding structures of arteries stemming from the heart, or twisted plants and snakes. The arteries of a heart grip a spoon to eat a bowl of cereal, the brain hovers, listening to music; often what could have been a normal picture reduced to its mere elements, the heart the symbolic structure indicating man, or human, yet everything contorts into everything else like Salvador Dali’s melting clocks. The marriage of a new symbol presented with an old technique is nothing new, but Knapp has found a way to express it that is entirely bizarre, interesting, and unique.

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Kyuin Shim’s Digital Sculptures Of Science Fiction Disfigurement

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Kyuin Shim- Digital Sculpture

Korean artist Kyuin Shim creates work that your pupils will interpret as a straight up science fiction novel. One body of work in particular, “Black Black,” is a series of gruesome depictions of black mannequin bodies gone haywire. As a digital artist and sculptor, he works compiling 3D renderings of real images. These sculptures, with the glossy stature of high fashion, the black mannequins are enrobed in large blisters. In varying states of vulnerability, his sculptures are suffering implosion and meltdown; a person who has ripped his head off gives himself fellatio, another is on his hands and knees, expelling their entire insides. Shim’s creatures come across as gross exaggerations of real emotional states, and it is not always easy to interpret how they are intended, but it is evident that they are referential to the individual struggle that we all face.

Another series of his, featuring only white mannequins, is titled “Small Place,” and references interpersonal relationships and the implied metaphors within them.  The white series emanates an atmosphere of tranquility and calm. Mannequin lovers with bowls for heads pour water between one another, while others sit pensively. There is not the searing prospect of suffering that “Black Black” encompasses. “Small Place” is meditative and inviting. Although parts of Shim’s series have been cited as representing dysfunctional relationships, there is no real hostility in the work. It is interesting to look at both series of his work side to side and to take note of the drastic shift in tone.

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Snack Bang! The Photography of Exploding Food

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Photographer Ryan Matthew Smith takes photos of exploding food for his publication Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. Since April 2008 he has amassed over 140,000 photos. Using a high speed camera recording at 6200 frames per second, Smith is able to capture a side of food that we normally can’t witness.

His subjects are anything from sausages to saucepans. He photographs hamburgers bursting apart – mayonnaise caught in the act of falling, tossed salads being frozen in mid-air. Smith explodes his food and accessories with the help of a bullet – fired from a 308 sniper rifle and travels at roughly 2800 feet per second at the point of impact, it creates the perfect environment for his photographs.

Elaborately posed, his objects stand out on his starkly minimal backgrounds – usually matt black. He shows cross sections of woks, elements, flames and pots, creating images reminiscent of modern abstract compositions. Smith says of his technique:

‘I had a pretty good understanding of compositing but given the large amount and complexity of photo illustration I spent many hours on Photoshop trying to find new ways to blend images together smoothly and quickly’.

Smith thrives on imbuing the mundane with life and motion. His photographs are a perfect display of what is it like to be caught in the maelstrom of food preparation, or destruction.

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Tim Lampe’s Deliciously Strange Project Documents All The Ways You Can Consume, Display, And Enjoy Ice Cream Sandwiches

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As summer winds down for many of us, designer Tim Lampe can say it was the summer of ice cream sandwiches. Because, for him, it was. The Atlanta-based creative started an Instagram project titled #SummerOfIceCreamSandwiches (and subsequent Tumblr) that documented all of the ways you can consume, trap, store, and display the delicious sweet treat. It’s a silly series that might make you hungry. Lampe explains the photographs, writing:

For Summer 2014, I wanted to explore pushing a concept as far as I could over the Instagram platform, so I set out to exploit one of my favorite treats growing up: Ice Cream Sandwiches. It was an exercise in execution and not overthinking. It was taking something universal and putting it in uncommon places, to make the viewer believe there is an alternate universe in which Ice Cream Sandwiches don’t melt fast and are universally available.

The photos are well composed and delightfully strange. Their bright-yet-diffused colors show what happens when you keep creating under the same theme – some magical, weird stuff happens, like carefully arranging food in a mailbox. (Via This Isn’t Happiness)

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