The Square: A Review

This past Saturday, after working on my art for most of the day, I finished up, and watched a movie about the art world. Here is a very quick review of The Square.

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I recently watched the film The Square. Here are some quick thoughts:

I like just about anything that critiques the art world (in part because it is so foreign to me), so I had been looking forward to seeing The Square for a while. If, like me, it’s a critique you’re looking for, this film is for you – it pulls no punches.

Overall, I liked this movie. I thought it was a bit-long, and at times slow, but when it picks up, it really nails it. Two scenes in particular, the performance (in the photo above), and the press conference near the end of the film are exceptional.

I really don’t want to give too much away, and I promised a very short review, so, if you like artsy films about art, this one’s worth checking out.

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Sometimes Life Gets in the Way

Making art is fun, fulfilling, and cathartic, but in my case, it doesn’t pay the bills. Like many an artist, I have a day job, and sometimes, it keeps me away from the studio.

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If I could do anything, I’d make art full time, but as I live in the real world, I have to work full time. That’s okay. I’ve managed to balance the two quite well – and am generally happy to do so.

That said, working for a living often comes with it’s own challenges, and in my case, requires a little re-invention from time to time. Working in a field ripe for automation, I recently went back to school, and after completing a course in Project Management, decided to write the CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) exam.

The exam was a huge challenge. Rather than working on art in my spare time, I put all my supplies away, and studied every day for nearly three months (1-3 hours a day during the week, and 6-7 hours a day on weekends). I’m happy to say, I passed on my first attempt.

While I still have a lot of work to do putting the certification to use, the challenge it posed was an excellent experience. It worked my brain in ways that hadn’t been worked in a while (if ever), boosted my confidence, and gave me a sense of control over my future. The fundamentals of project management will probably help a lot when it comes to the business aspects of my art as well.

What did I do with my first study free weekend? I worked on my art.

The Classics

I’ve been super busy lately and haven’t been able to post as much as I’d like. For this weeks post, here are some of the classics I’ve shared through the course of this blog.

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Francisco Goya, The Third of May

ABOVE: Francisco Goya, The Third of May 1808, 1814, oil on canvas, 106 x 137 inches

Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People

ABOVE: Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830, oil on canvas, 102 x 128 inches

 

Rembrandt, The Night Watch

ABOVE: Rembrandt van Rijn, The Night Watch, 1642, oil on canvas, 142 x 172 inches

Rene Magritte, The Treachery of Images

ABOVE: Rene Magritte, The Treachery of Images, 1929, oil on canvas, 23 x 31 inches

Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory

ABOVE: Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory, 1931, oil on canvas, 9.5 x 13 inches

J.M.W. Turner, The Slave Ship

ABOVE: J.M.W. Turner, Slavers Throwing overboard the Dead and Dying – Typhoon coming on, 1840, oil on canvas, 35.7 x 48.3 inches

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

ABOVE: Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907, oil on canvas, 96 x 92 inches

Grant Wood, American Gothic

ABOVE: Grant Wood, American Gothic, 1930, oil on beaverboard, 30 x 52 inches

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night

ABOVE: Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889, oil on canvas, 28.7 x 36 inches

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks

ABOVE: Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942, oil on canvas, 33.1 x 60 inches

Georges-Pierre Seurat, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

ABOVE: Georges-Pierre Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884-1886, oil on canvas, 81.7 x 121.25 inches

 

Ai Weiwei Quotes

In honor of Ai Weiwei’s current show at the Gardiner Museum (which I have yet to see), here are a few of his best quotes. He’ll be at the Gardiner until June 9, 2019.

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Above: An Ai Weiwei sculpture as seen at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche

“If my art has nothing to do with people’s pain and sorrow, what is ‘art’ for?”

“An artwork unable to make people feel uncomfortable or to feel different is not one worth creating. This is the difference between the artist and the fool.”

“When human beings are scared and feel everything is exposed to the government, we will censor ourselves from free thinking. That’s dangerous for human development.”

“I call on people to be ‘obsessed citizens,’ forever questioning and asking for accountability. That’s the only chance we have today of a healthy and happy life.”

“To the media, I have become a symbolic figure, critical of China. According to the government, I am a dangerous threat.”

“A nation that has no music and no fairytales is a tragedy.”

“People are always wondering if I am an artist or political activist or politician. Maybe I’ll just clearly tell you: Whatever I do is not art. Let’s say it is just objects or materials, movies or writing, but not art, OK?”

“My work has always been political, because the choice of being an artist is political in China.”

“Why are you so concerned about society?’ That is always the question. And my answer is simple: ‘Because you are an artist, you have to associate yourself with freedom of expression.”

“The people who control culture in China have no culture.”

Dumb Art Jokes – Part 2

From the kinda cheesy to the kinda dirty, I love jokes. That said, here are a few art related ones I recently came across in a quick web search. Mostly cheesy.

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ABOVE: Richard Prince, I Changed My Name, 1988, acrylic and silkscreen on canvas, 56 x 78.5 inches

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Q: What does a momma color wheel say to a baby color wheel?

A: Don’t use that tone with me.

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Q: How does Salvador Dali start his mornings?

A: With a bowl of “Surreal”

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A bumper sticker for artists: “My other car is a bike, too.”

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There was this world famous painter. In the prime of her career, she started losing her eyesight. Fearful that she might lose her life as a painter, she went to see the best eye surgeon in the world.

After several weeks of delicate surgery and therapy, her eyesight was restored. The painter was so grateful that she decided to show her gratitude by repainting the doctor’s office.

Part of her work included painting a gigantic eye on one wall. When she had finished her work, she held a press conference to unveil her latest work of art: the doctor’s office.

During the press conference, one reporter noticed the eye on the wall, and asked the doctor, “What was your first reaction upon seeing your newly painted office, especially that large eye on the wall?”

To this, the eye doctor responded, “I said to myself ‘Thank God I’m not a proctologist.'”

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Went to an M.C. Escher exhibition today. All the best prints were on the second floor but unfortunately I couldn’t get there.

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Q: What do you call an artist with asthma?

A: Van Cough

Impressionism in the Age of Industry at the Art Gallery of Ontario

This past weekend, I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) to see it’s latest blockbuster exhibition, Impressionism in the Age of Industry. Here is a short review.

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ABOVE: Maximilien Luce, The Steelworks, 1895, oil on canvas

If you love art, and even if you don’t, chances are, you’ve heard of a group of artists called the Impressionists. The Art Gallery of Ontario’s latest exhibition Impressionism in the Age of Industry has many of them, including Monet and Pissarro.

While it’s always nice to see the big names represented, as is often the case, many of the best works in this show are by some of the lesser known of the group. One of my favorite pieces was The Steelworks (pictured above) by Maximilien Luce, and one of my favorite artists was Gustave Caillebotte. He figured prominently in the exhibition, and the selection of his paintings showed a progression from expressionism to realism (he and Manet are probably the most realistic artists of the movement).

As for the overall style of the show, what I love most about the Impressionists, is their ability to create work that appears completely different depending upon your proximity to it. Up close, it’s blurry. From afar, it’s very much in focus. All art does this to a degree, but the Impressionists were masters of it.

Owing to its subject matter (industrialization), this isn’t the brightest of exhibitions. That said, while the color palette is often dull, the paintings do show the beauty in the mundane, and the common worker is respected, if not revered.

All told, this is another solid effort by the Art Gallery of Ontario, and a show worth checking out.

Impressionism in the Age of Industry is at the Art Gallery of Ontario until May 5, 2019.

Winter Art Shows

I’ve been hibernating most of the winter, but it is time to go see some art. Here are three exhibitions I plan to visit in the coming weeks. I’ll write a review of each as I do.

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ABOVE: The Art Gallery of Ontario, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ai Weiwei: Unbroken, Gardiner Museum, February 28 – June 9, 2019

I’m a big fan of Ai Wewei, and loved his last show at the Art Gallery of Ontario. This time, he is bringing his ceramic works to the Gardiner. If you’re still avoiding winter, there’s still lots of time to see this exhibition.

Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissaro and More, Art Gallery of Ontario, February 16 – May 5, 2019

Probably the biggest show of the season, this is likely to be it’s most popular as well. Like the show above, this one runs into the spring, so if you’re still in hibernation mode, you’ve got lots of time. I plan on seeing it this weekend.

Museum of Contemporary Art

After a lengthy hiatus, the Museum of Contemporary Art opened its doors in September. I’ve been meaning to check it out since then. Hopefully, I’ll make it out there soon. The new space looks awesome.

 

Velvet Buzzsaw – A Review

I recently came across Velvet Buzzsaw on Netflix, and being a fan of anything to do with art and the art world, decided to watch it. For those considering it, here is a quick review.

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Horror is a strange beast. When done poorly – which it often is – it is one of films worst genres. When done well – a rare occurrence indeed – it is one of the smartest. Velvet Buzzsaw falls somewhere in between. It’s not as bad as most horror films, but it’s a little too clunky, and well…artsy to be a good fit for everyone.

The film certainly has it out for the art world. This is, at times funny, but is also kinda like making fun of Nickleback – it’s an easy target. Being an outsider, I’m not really sure how accurate it is in its depiction, although I imagine there’s at least a tiny bit of truth somewhere within it.

No one in the film is likable, so when things get gory, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for them. This is fairly common in the genre, but the best horror films manage to humanize their subjects while pulling on the viewers heartstrings.

As for the gore itself, some of it is kind of cool; some of it is kind of silly. It is possible to strike a balance between the two, but this films struggles to do so. Not all its scenes are created equal.

All of this is not to say I disliked the film – I actually liked it. That said, if I were to recommend it, it would only be to my fellow art nerds, or die-hard horror fans. If you’re one of the two, perhaps you should give Velvet Buzzsaw a shot. If not, there are probably better things to watch.