The Art Inquirer is your source of news for the artist and the Art appreciator
Established in 2008

Monday, May 31, 2010

Gian Bernini - The Art and Life of a Sculptor (Part Three)

This is the third part of a series of episodes dedicated to the life and art of the great italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini (also spelled Gianlorenzo or Giovanni Lorenzo).
You can watch the second episode, where you'll also find a link to the first one.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Constant Le Breton at the Gulbenkian Museum

Born on March 11, 1895 into a family of Loire watermen at St Germain des Prés, a small village in Anjou, Constant Le Breton started his career as an apprentice with a company of decorators first in Nantes, then in Le Mans before being admitted to the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, however his financial income did not permit him to continue the courses.
Drafted in 1915, he saw action at Gallipoli in the strait of Dardenelles (Turkey) and later in Serbia. After the war, he settles himself in Paris as a wood-engraver and earns a good reputation as a book illustrator.
Later he's awarded a scholarship by the Blumenthal Foundation and quickly wins a reputation for himself as a painter, especially of portraits.
Constant Le Breton made friendship with other artists such as Antral, Belmondo, Brayer, Derain, Luce and Segonzac.
Hailed as a portrait painter, among his works are the portraits of Ingrid Bergmann, Béatrice Bretty and Charles Dullin, however the artist did not disregard the other subjects including landscapes, still lifes and elaborated interiors, namely representative his family life.
Constant Le Breton died in Paris in February 1985.
A large number of his paintings are in parisian museums and private collections in France, Germany, Greece, Switzerland and U.S.A.
Now for the first time in Portugal between May 21 and August 8, 2010 (closed on Mondays), the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum presents a retrospective of his works.
Situated in the Temporary Exhibition Gallery of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the "Constant le Breton (1895-1985)"exhibition is comprised of 67 works includes 52 oil paintings and 15 watercolours.
Offering a retrospective of his major themes, the show is divided into six different sections which document the variety of his production, apparently influenced by major painters from the second half of the 19th century, such as Boudin, Carot or Manet.
The Art Inquirer will keep its readers informed about important future exhibitions at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Five Paintings Worth €100 Million Stolen From The Museum of Modern Art (Paris, France)

A CCTV footage shows a man breaking a padlock and forcing his entrance through a window into the Museum of Modern Art in Paris during the overnight of May 19 to May 20, 2010.
Although the museum had a recent alarm system upgrade and three wardens, the perpetrator managed to escape with five masterpieces seamlessly removed from their frames.
Official authorities admit that more people may be involved in this crime.
The five stolen paintings are "Olive Tree near l'Estaque" by Georges Braque (1906), "Pastoral" by Henri Matisse (1906), "Dove with Green Peas" by Pablo Picasso (1911), "Woman with Fan" by Amedeo Modigliani (1919) and "Still Life with Candlestick" by Fernand Leger (1922).
The two most valuable are "Dove With Green Peas" ( Le Pigeon aux Petits Pois ) by Pablo Picasso, valued at €25 million, and "Pastoral" (Pastorale) by Henri Matisse, valued at an estimated €20 million.
With a total estimated value of €92 million (according to the museum books), this art theft is one of the worst in the history of stolen art in France and the biggest since the 1990 theft in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, when "The Concert" by Vermeer, several Rembrants, Degas and other masterpieces were stolen and remain yet to be recovered.
Since it's virtually impossible to sell famous stolen artworks to museums or for auction, this kind of crime may be perpretaded with the intention of trading the paintings in the black market for goods such as drugs or weapons, or may be used to try to extort money from insurance companies, which may be willing to recover stolen goods at a fraction of their value, avoiding the payment of full compensations to the rightful owners.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Toothpick Art - "The Essence of Patience" Interview with Steven J. Backman

Creativity has always fascinated generations of art lovers and public in general, especially when created with less orthodox mediums.
This is the case of the art created by Steven J. Backman.
Steve's toothpick sculptures transmit a dedication to art and the gratification upon creating something unique.
Following its tradition of approaching artists and public together, The Art Inquirer contacted the artist who kindly accepted to give an interview where he talks about his toothpick art.

TAI why did you start doing sculptures, was this your first medium of choice for something more serious ?

SJB I love using my hands to create sculptures. This has been important to me since I was a child. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together. Radios, electronic components, tools and wood objects were just a few of the many items I disassembled. I have always had an interest in knowing how tangible products are produced. The process, in addition to the materials used, has always fascinated me. The first medium of choice I used to create art was toothpicks. Over time, I experimented with wood and model making materials. A multi level tree house I made when I was a child incorporated my love for architecture and my fascination with building materials. It withstood the elements of Mother Nature. This home way from home contained a sliding window, skylight, electric powered television and a customized wall unit with speakers. A deadbolt secured the front door.

TAI Do you make previous sketches ?

SJB Most of my sculptures are made from my imagination without sketches. Sometimes I create thumbnail sketches during my art process.

TAI Is it common for you to be working on a scultpure and make significant modifications from the original project ?

SJB I generally stick with a concept throughout the entire process. Occasionally, I do make modifications to compensate for structural integrity. Although this may change the durability of the sculpture, It really does not change the overall look and feel of the piece of art.

TAI Do you have a preference about the shape of the toothpicks ?

SJB I prefer using square centered toothpicks in my works. Sometimes I cut off the tips to make hem more refined. Many years ago, I first started using round toothpicks. Since then, I have used many kinds.
TAI do you build smaller models (studies) before bigger ones ?

SJB I generally make the sculptures the size I want them to be. I find study models to be helpful in other mediums. Since toothpicks and glue are very time consuming mediums to work with, I find it best to approach the project as if it is the size I want it to be.

TAI If so, what kind of support(s) do you use to build your sculptures ?

SJB Every single toothpick sculpture I create is made from 100% toothpicks and glue. I do not use any other materials for structural support. This is why my art takes so long to create. Besides, it make the process much more challenging. This is why I enjoy making my art so much.

TAI Do you or have you thought about adding mechanical movements to your sculptures ?

SJB Several years ago, I created cable cars with musical bases which play "I left my heart in San Francisco." The large ones contain sliding doors which go back and forth on toothpick tracks. I always think of using mechanical devices to make my sculptures more interesting. Although I am very interested in the movement of items, I feel that my art is more effective when it is not in motion. Perhaps this will change over time.

TAI Do you build sculptures with movable parts ?

SJB Currently I do not create my sculptures with movable parts.

TAI How you make the curves, namely the vaults or domes found in some of your architectural pieces ?

SJB Not to give too many secrets away, It's a combination of patience, technique and experience. The rest is my trade secret. It is a very involved time consuming process. As previously mentioned, I only use toothpicks and glue to achieve these intricate shapes.

TAI Do you teach workshops ?

SJB I have had several toothpick art demonstrations at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Although I like to share my art process with people, I feel that it is very personal to me. It is my ways of interpreting and evolving my inner feelings while being alone. Besides being the most relaxing experience, it is a way for me to enjoy my solitude and create art while reflecting my personal feelings. This can only be accomplished when I am able to spend time with myself. I need total concentration to achieve this level of communication.

TAI Do you have any scheduled exhibitions comming soon ?

SJB Currently my art is being shown at Gallery Diamante in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. This coming June, I will have a solo exhibition in the lobby of 500 Howard Street in San Francisco. It is the headquarters of Gymboree Corporation.

TAI what are your projects for the near future ?

SJB I am currently designing a commemorative piece for the 25th Anniversary of my business named Landmarks of San Francisco. It will be available for purchase on my website in the coming weeks.

Born in San Francisco (USA), Steven J. Backman started creating toothpick sculptures during his childhood, however getting a toothpick stuck in the palm of his hand made him quit this hobby for several years.
Nevertheless Steven's enjoyment for his art had not been lost and in 1984 he designs a San Francisco cable car using toothpick and glue for an art project, while attending the San Francisco State University where he later received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Industrial Arts.
After completing the assignment, Steven created other cable cars in different sizes, denoting his appreciation for these mobile landmarks from the city where he was born and in a short time he establishes his toothpick art business named "Landmarks of San Francisco" which he still presently operates.
In 1985 Steven decides to create a thirteen feet long toothpick sculpture of the Golden Gate Bridge using 30000 toothpicks.
Completed in 1987, this sculpture proves to be a success during the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge, arousing the media attention, including worldwide publications.
Steven is invited for a guest appearance on the "Afternoon Show", following an interview on "Good Day New York" and "CBS Sunday Morning".
In December 1990 his Golden Gate Bridge toothpick sculpture was certified by the District Engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.
The sculpture is currently on display at "Ripley's Believe It or Not" Museum in Hollywood, California.
The artist's passion has led him to create other amazing toothpick sculptures including a four and one half foot long fully operational electric powered and radio-controlled yacht that he painstakingly built with 10000 toothpicks.
But his sculptures are not only built with thousands of toothpicks, the artist also likes to carve miniature sculptures from a single toothpick, such as a replica of the famous Burj Khalifa, a building standing tall at 828 metres.
Steven J. Backman's "The Essence of Patience" motto trully illustrates his determination in creating unique pieces of art that may be enjoyed by future generations and provide inspiration to other artists.
Steven's art has been exhibited in several venues, including the Cable Car Museum, San Francisco City Hall, Empire State Building, Fort Mason Center and de Young Museum.
Currently his art is being shown at Gallery Diamante in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.
This coming June, Steven will have a solo exhibition in the lobby of the headquarters of Gymboree Corporation, 500 Howard Street in San Francisco.
Foundry Square IV in San Francisco will be showing Steven J. Backman's Toothpick Sculptures from June 30 through September 29, 2010, between 7h00 and 19h00 (Mon-Fri)
Steven J. Backman can be contacted through his toothpickart website

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fantasy Illustrator Frank Frazetta Dies at 82

Born in February 9, 1928 (Brooklyn, New York), Frazetta was enrolled by his parents in the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts, at eight years of age.
Under the tutalage of the italian fine artist Michael Falanga, he attended the academy for eight years, after which and due to the death of Falanga in 1944 and the close of the academy, Frazetta had to start working to support himself.
With 16 years of age, he started drawing for comic books, including themes such as fantasy, mysteries and westerns, using the "Fritz" signature in some of his earliest comics featuring funny animal characters.
Having refused job offers from companies such as Walt Disney at the start his career, Frank Frazetta worked for EC Comics, National Comics and Avon in the early 1950's.
Having worked in collaboration with Al Williamson and Roy Krenkel, he later started working with Al Capp on his Li'l Abner comic strip and assisting Dan Barry with the Flash Gordon daily strip. At this time, Frazetta was also producing his comic strip Johnny Comet.
In 1961 and after working with Al Capp during nine years, he wasn't having much success finding work in comics and eventually joined Harvey Kurtzman in the Little Annie Fanny parody strip for the Playboy magazine.
In 1964, his painting of Ringo Starr for a Mad Magazine ad raised the attention of United Artist studios and he was invited to do the movie poster for the movie "What's New Pussycat ?", earning his yearly salary in one afternoon.
Frank Frazetta started illustrating paperback editions of adventure books and his work for Conan the Adventurer by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp (Lancer 1966) caused such stir that numerous people bought the book for its cover alone.
During this period he also did the covers for Tarzan and Barsoom (John Carter of Mars), both created by the pulp fiction author Edgar Rice Burroughs.
His work established a new style in the Sword and Sorcery genre, influencing future generations of fantasy artists.
The art of Frank Frazetta was also appreciated by famous artists, movie directors and producers, including names as Clint Eastwood, George Lucas, Steven Spilberg and Sylvester Stalone, some of them his friends who have commissioned works for their movie projects.
After working with Ralph Bakshi on the feature "Fire and Ice" released in 1983, Frank Frazetta returned to pen and ink illustrations.
Fantasy Art illustrator Frank Frazetta passed away this morning of May 10, 2010 in the Lee Memorial Hospital (Fort Myers, Florida) at 82 years of age.

CHA Summer Convention & Trade Show 2010

With over 400 exhibitors from the United States and abroad and occupying an area of more than 85,000 net sq. ft. of exhibit space, the Craft & Hobby Association Summer Convention & Trade Show 2010 is expected to attract over 5,000 attendees and more than 2,500 buyers.
Considered the world’s largest professional craft and hobby show, the event will take place from July 27 through July 29, 2010 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, IL, USA .
The show offers the chance to get acquainted with the latest developments in craft materials, exhibit your own creations and start new business opportunities.

Gian Bernini - The Art and Life of a Sculptor (Part Two)

Continuing the series of episodes about the life and art of Bernini, one of the greatest sculptors of all time, this blog continues to offer its readers not only the access to useful information, but also the opportunity to enjoy the art world through the various media provided by new technologies.
In case you missed the first episode, you can watch it here.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Art Calendar's Studio Makeover Contest 2010

Besides the artistic development and eventual recognition, having a well equiped painting studio or atellier is one of the most desirable projects that an artist aims for.
Even if small, a well equiped studio will permit the artist to better focus on the art or craft and not waste so much time looking for solutions to overcome the lack of materials.
This year, Art Calendar's 2nd Annual Studio Makeover Contest will offer artists the chance to renovate their studios with art supplies and accessories in a total of more than $18,000.
Open to residents in the 48 contiguous United States (excludes AK and HI) over the age of 18 and physically located within the country, the Art Calendar's Studio Makeover Contest 2010 features a Grand Prize in the value of more than $12,500, as well as a second and third prizes valuated in more than $3,250 and $2,250 respectively.
The name of the prize winners will be announced on the website on approximately October 1, 2010 and featured in the February 2011 issue of Art Calendar.
The Grand Prize winner will videotape the studio renewal with a camera provided by Art Calendar.
Entry form must be received by the servers between May 1, 2010 and no later than July 31, 2010, at 11:59 p.m. EST.
Make sure that you carefully read all the eligibility requirements and rules to avoid disappointment.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pablo Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" Sets Auction Record

Painted in 1932, soon after Picasso's 50 years of age, the painting "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" (Nu au Plateau de Sculpteur) has set a new world record for a work of art sold at auction.
The oil painting measuring 160 cm x 130 cm, depicts a sideface of the artist on a pedestal observing the naked figure of Marie-Thérèse Walter, a 17 year old girl who he met while married to Olga Khoklhova and who later become his lover.
She ended up commiting suicide soon after Picasso's death in 1973.
Acquired in 1951 by the millionaire constructor and modern art lover Sydney F. Brody and included in Mrs. Brody collection, "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" was sold at Christie's, New York, for $106,4 million ($95 million without commissions and taxes) to an anonymous buyer.
From the same collection, two sculptures by Alberto Giacometti: "Grande Tête Mince" (1954-1955) and "El Gato", were sold for $53.2 million and $20.8 million, respectively.
According to Christie's press release of May 4, 2010, the Spring Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale achieved a total of $335,548,000.
The previous record for a work of art sold at auction belonged Giacometti's sculpture "Walking Man I" (1960) sold in February at Sotheby's, London, for $104.3 million, while Picasso's "Garçon à la Pipe" (1905), sold at Sotheby's for $104.1 million was until now the most expensive painting sold at auction.