Sunday, July 27, 2008

Science in the Age of God

The work of Joel Smock is, at first glance, self-contradicting.
It stands outside of time much like a pastiche of a Celtic illuminated manuscript. One gets the feeling that these books are somehow eternal.

In the tradition of western religious texts, the illuminated manuscript had a much greater meaning in society than a simple book does today. Few people were literate and few were wealthy enough to own books, which required great time and skill to copy out by hand. Books, to the common man, were mystical objects; somehow sustaining the thoughts and words of the soul long after the death of the body. They were the element by which God manifested the world. They were something apart from the corporeal, some immortalizing abstract force.

But after the printing press was invented in Guttenberg, books became amazingly easy to reproduce and were disseminated throughout the world. Their mystical appeal decreased as their availability increased.

The anachronism of Smock's handmade work is particularly pronounced today in the digital age, where copying a document or image requires nothing more than the click of a mouse and a few seconds of your time. Oddly, Smock's texts somehow are able to transmogrify their contemporary content into the universal realm of ideals. Through this counter-intuitive contrast with our digital age, and because of their tactility, their physical presence demonstrates the platonic realm of ideas more readily than the abstract collection of zeros and one's floating in the invisible void that is the Internet - though, these too are composed solely of numerical sequences.

The feeling one gets as one weighs each leather-bound volume in hand is the haunting sensation of some Nostradamus-like monk peering back at you through time, completely aware of your contemplation. Cloaked in the darkness of the past, he prophesied the coming of the age of information and recorded his vision here. A vision of science in the age of God.

Because the creator took such time and care to create these endless volumes, one feels that within lies some message of great importance. Yet, perhaps the most striking fact is the utter impossibility of comprehending this message, which appears to be encrypted in painstakingly written numerical sequences. I am reminded of a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, entitled The Library of Babel, in which every possible combination of the alphabet is included in nearly infinite volumes in a nearly infinite library. Within each volume may lie nothing but a collection of jumbled letters, the story of your life (including your future demise), and absolutely every other possible novel, in every language using this alphabet and every encrypted possibility. Sadly, though all truth may be held somewhere within the walls of this library, the potential of finding such truth is practically nill within one's lifetime.

Yet, in our present age we believe no knowledge to be beyond our grasp, no truth beyond our search, no stone too heavy to lift. We believe our powers of science and technology so vast, that relative to the individual they are infinite. Numerology, mathematics, geometry... these are the gods of the age of science. And their truths may or may not be encrypted here.

If you have the time to search.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Art for a Cause

Adam Miller has officially launched Art Cause NYC.

Art Cause NYC was founded as a collaboration between artists and supporters in the business and philanthropy world as a way to bring attention to the pressing need around the world of millions of people living in poverty, war and need. Our goal was to create a situation where every time a piece of art was purchased something would go to feed, clothe or treat those who not only cannot afford to buy art but often cannot feed themselves or their children.

With the creation of Art Cause NYC artists and art lovers have a sustainable way to use their work to do good in the world, to recapture the idealism and hope for which art has so often been a symbol.

Art Cause NYC was founded in New York as the dream of a group of artists. The founders of Art Cause NYC Adam Miller, Renata Telinova and Fedele Spadofora saw the potential to use their work to found a sustainable and ongoing charity. The unique idea behind the organization spread and grew, bringing in more artists and sponsors and has now grown to assist in hunger relief as well many other causes around the world.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Letter to the Student of Painting

Your day contains a great measure of freedom. Your responsibility as a painter is here within the walls of the studio and in the setting of the landscape. You have the opportunity to exercise genuine mastery at every step, and it is in this spirit of grand possibility that I hope you will reflect on the advice made plain here.

Do not grieve too long for the troubles of the outside world. There is important work to be done here. We can best express our care for all others by attending to our work well.

Allow yourself the peace of purpose and the knowledge that to make another attempt with the brush is a noble thing. If you accept the discipline of the truest principles of art, then yours is the reward of an unbroken line of tradition.

Therefore, you may earnestly free your mind of all heartaches, sadness, and transitory despairs. Creation is above these things.

Your vocation is as real and as true as any other. Those who denounce the artist as idle manifest a deep ignorance of the nature of art. Have faith that the civilized will somewhere, at some time, value your well-wrought works. It is a miracle that the world keeps its havens for art and yet it does. Know that to create art is to do a necessary piece of work. The most noble pleasures and measureless joys result from such endeavors. True art is undeniable and it is a gift for all humanity.

The threefold responsibility of the artist is: to creation, the individual talent, and to humanity. For creation – the whole of nature – we must cultivate prayerful awe. This is our source of work and our refuge as well. We should seek harmony with nature. For the individual talent – long hours and years of steady industry hope to find our abilities fulfilled, our minds, hearts, and hands put to valuable service. In this way, we maintain the sanctity of art. Lastly, we make to humanity a willing gift of all we do. Our control over the material world lasts only a lingering moment and it takes a generous soul to build the ambition of a lifetime and then to hand it over in trust to the future.

Painting requires the bravery of solitude. Painting requires disciplined labor. To be a painter is to search the world with a benevolent eye for every subtle beauty that the infinite world offers.

Here is the opportunity to give your honest effort and to add in any small way to the legacy of art. Cultivate patience in your heart and you will improve. Learn to see well and your hand will become sure.

No pain or doubt can invade the honest soul engaged in the communion of creation. We artists must love the world with our deepest selves and forgive it at every turn.

To paint even a little passage with a measure of quality is to achieve a life’s triumph.

Spend your days wisely with the best thoughts and works of those who have walked the road before you. Search their paths, their timeless inspirations, and the lineage of their genius. Learn your craft well and your talent will mature into its full possibility. Keep an obedient heart before nature. She is the master above all other masters. Nature is the concrete manifestation of all that remains true and sublime. Let us always be thankful for her abundance and hopeful that we might approach her in our art. Nature will renew every generation of painters, ready to illuminate the minds of those who practice the art with what is calm, rational, beautiful, sublime, and eternal.

Such is the purity of your vocation. Treat every moment before the easel as a quick and tender opportunity. Invest your most noble self. Give your most noble self. To be a painter is to enjoy a precious state of life.

- Charles Philip Brooks 2002

Thursday, May 1, 2008

On the Nature of Art

"I've been thinking a lot lately about the nature of painting."

I said this one day recently to my friend and colleague Shawn Fields as we peered out of a fourth floor window in Chelsea. It was a luminous day, and the sun glinted off the Hudson river like a benevolent god winking. The wind paused profoundly in its journey from the west and I couldn't help but think that it had some beautiful and poetic significance.

He replied with a chuckle.
"That doesn't surprise me. What would surprise me would be if you had stopped."

I had the feeling that I took myself altogether too seriously. So, I laughed as well and enjoyed the sun.

"So, what's new?" He asked.
Happy to embark on any conversation about art, especially with Shawn, I began with an idea that I had been molding quietly for the past year or so. I didn't know if anyone had thought it before me, had written it down, or shared it with their colleagues in a moment such as this. But, I did know that Shawn could help me mull it over.

Once I said it out loud, we both knew that it seemed so simple that we couldn't believe we'd never heard it before.

It begins with the format. Painting is static, by its nature. It does not move. It does not change with time. Its meaning is locked into a single eternal statement, and your mind must take the mold of the lock to reveal its secrets. This is both its strength and its weakness. Because of this, a painting is inherently read iconographically through layers of symbolic meaning, like an onion. So, I ventured to say that a powerful painting should reinforce this kind of iconic reading. Almost before I finished saying this Shawn had the very same question as I:
What makes a painting iconic?

So we embarked on an analysis of a multitude of paintings which represented this iconic power. One of first we brought up was Andrew Wyeth, and Shawn explained that what he thought made Wyeth's work so striking was the way he composed large regions of clear values overlapping. There was always a dark, a middle, and a light - most often another intermediary value as well. He said, that if you shrink an Andrew Wyeth down in black and white, you'll see these patterns in every single painting.

We continued on to discuss other factors that made work iconic, and what even narrative paintings like "Susan and the Elders" by Rembrandt, or "The Death of Socrates" by David, had in common with obviously iconic paintings like Goya's "Saturn". What I found was that one idea kept returning: conceptualization. Conceptualizing color, conceptualizing form, conceptualizing light....
It seemed the common element that united the iconic impact of all these artworks was how the artist filtered the content of the work through his/her ideas about form, color, light, 2-d and 3-d design, texture, etc.... And as I pondered, it all became crystal clear. Of course, it seems so obvious now, but for some reason neither of us saw it before.

Because each artist was conceiving of these elements, a little bit of the idea was passed on in each of them. It was not the subject matter, but the way that these paintings were made that revealed the meaning, though the subject depicted could help. It was as if every single square inch of canvas was saturated with the artist's breath. His emotion, his perspective poured out of each shadow or highlight - the way he handled his brush, the decision to make a gray into blue and a hand into a silhouette, to make one detail sharper and another more obscure. There is a hierarchy and a meaning to how these elements are composed and relate to each other, which intuitively reveals meaning to the viewer. There is a mystery in this.

Film, by contrast, is a narrative form. The images change through time, in fact, it is virtually about change. This lead me to realize that verbal language is the very definition of the narrative and this is why it is so difficult, if not impossible to truly describe a painting in words. It is much farther than translating from one language to another, one just cannot communicate a purely visual idea in a verbal way. And one cannot communicate a verbal idea in a visual way. They are two banks over a canyon, but somehow the human mind can bridge the colossal abyss between - albeit across a dangerous and swaying rope bridge. We can see both sides, but we cannot transport anything more than a teaspoon of meaning between; hopefully not spilling its valuable contents in the unsteady journey.

The New New Thing

I have been reading over alot of the blog lately and enjoying the lively exchange of ideas, so I thought I would throw my two cents into the discussion.

I want to discuss the idea that artists should reflect their time. Things do change and Time obviously moves on, new fashions come in vogue and fads appear and disappear . Great work can be done within a popular "of the moment" style, but it is important to remember how much great art (much more I think) has been done by artists with a strong identity outside of the taste of the moment.

This is apparent in the works many Great Artists who could not make a living when alive, but today their paintings sell for millions at auction. This is not because the Artists work changed with the times or even that tastes improved, but rather that the taste of the times moved to the artist.

The way that collectors perceive art also changes with time. Much art is sold today because the buyer hopes it will conform to a color scheme and offend no one. In the past art was bought because the collector admired the artists skill in depicting nature and in telling an interesting story. Today more people are returning to traditional looks in their homes, they are reverse renovating to reclaim original fire-places and tin ceilings that were removed to accommodate Modernism and buying realistic rather than abstract paintings. Is this a sign that this time has reached its cycle? Are people beginning to tire of horizontal and vertical lines, simple colors and flat-pack.... Time will only tell.

Dennis Anderson

The Collector

Why do Collectors Collect?

There are many reasons associated with the collection of Art, but the main reasons apart from the love of the work is value. Collecting Art is seen by many, as a way of gaining a better return for their investments and some even see it as a retirement fund.

But what art will give the collector the returns that they desire? Unless you are in a position to collect art work from already established Artists whom may already be listed as the Artists of the future such as Chagall , Banksy, or Koons then choosing the right artist is like playing the lottery. There are however certain guide lines a Collector can follow and Artists should when possible follow these guidelines to make their work even more collectible.

First you most get yourself listed as an Artist, Title and date all your works, write Artists Statements to go with all of your work and have your stories read by as many people as possible. It is your Words along with your Works that will make that all important connection with the Public, Making that Connection will be the deciding factor in whether your works will be talked about in some ones collection in the future. I find that my artists who are most successful engage collectors minds as well as eyes.

Dk Anderson

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Defining Culture

As an interesting follow up to the article on Habacuc's piece in which he ties a dog up in a gallery and starves him to death. I thought I would further solidify our case for the humane treatment of animals (unfortunately it seems necessary, though I would think that it's self-evident).

What this video exhibits is more than just a circus act. Though the elephant is probably trained, it's amazing nonetheless. But what this tells me is that the elephant is able to think symbolically. It is not attempting to paint what it sees, but is conceiving of what an elephant is from memory and reproducing a pictographic depiction.

In the study of Anthropology, culture is what divides man from animals and it is defined in several different ways. Though there is no absolutely agreed upon definition, these three traits are common in nearly all of them:

1. Symbolic Thought - the ability to understand and communicate meaning through abstract ideas.
2. Learned Transmission - the passing down of learned behavior from one individual to another.
3. Tool Making - The ability to see a raw material and alter it to suite your needs.

The Elephant is exhibiting at least two of these traits - learned behavior and symbolic thought. Other animals, especially primates, have been known to exhibit all three of these criteria.

There was a study done on tool-making crows of New Caledonia, in which a piece of food was placed in a clear tube. The only object available was a straight piece of wire. The crow bent the wire and used it to fish out the food. Similar behavior has been seen in chimpanzees who fashion tools out of sticks to fish termites of of mounds and other chimps who make spears to hunt Bushbabies. Another study was presented to a chimp where a nut was placed in a narrow glass tube next to a bowl of water. The chimp drank some water and spit it into the tube so that the nut floated to the top so that he could reach it. What's remarkable about this is that not only did he know that he could use water as a tool, he also knew that the nut would float!

Among primates, Gorillas, and most notably Chimps, have a been trained to communicate through sign language. They have been seen to not only learn from each other, but have the ability to understand and apply words to different contexts.

And this brings us to the specific issue: canine intelligence. A border collie named Rico in Germany has exhibited a vocabulary of at least 200 words. If that's not remarkable enough, he has also demonstrated the ability to learn new words from only being exposed to a new object once. Further, if you train a dog not to urinate inside your house, it goes without saying that the dog will understand not to urinate in your neighbor's house as well. This is evidence that the dog has abstracted the idea and applied it to similar contexts.

Now, to solidify my point. Elephants and crows have demonstrated several of the traits necessary for culture. Primates and dogs have demonstrated all three on the list above. Thus, the argument that I've heard, which claims that animals do not think or feel is unequivocally false. These animals have demonstrated culture. Thus, the difference between torturing a human being and a dog is non-existent and the law should be enforced equally. What's more, think about the fact that the very dog that Habacuc starved, likely understood much of what the viewers were saying and likely understood that it was intentional. This is the greatest outrage of all.

If you haven't already, please sign the petition to stop Habacuc.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The voice of elitism

Are you better than the average man on the streets? If you think you are, how does this effect your art? I have always thought elitism in art or anything else is a compensation - for what the person is compensating, I leave to your imagination.
In 1957 Mike Wallace interviewed Frank Loyd Wright. Here is a quote that I found very telling.

Wallace: …a pretty fair share of our audience tonight either can’t, or does not want to, understand modern art like the paintings of Picasso or modern music, let’s say by Stravinsky; possibly they don’t even know, don’t even want to or cannot understand you. What do you think of these people who either don’t understand or don’t care?
Wright: I don’t think they matter as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think they’re for me, so why should I be for them?
The complete interview is available here:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Observing Steven Assael at work

These are notes I took watching Steven Assael paint. Here is a list of the colors I noticed on the palette. There were more, but these are the ones that were used frequently.

List of colors:

Burnt Siena

Alizarin Crimson


Ultramarine blue

Prussian Blue

Cadmium green light


Burnt umber

Ivory black

Transparent oxide red

Holbein brown pink

Transparent yellow ochre

Yellow ochre

Cadmium red light

Cadmium orange

Cadmium Yellow

Naples Yellow light

Brilliant Yellow light

Titanium White

Steve makes these colors work by blending on the canvas. He would often take a beaten large fan brush and slap in a highlight down the length of an arm in pure white, which would seem too light until he uses mixtures of more or less cad red, ochre and siena and blends these without white loosely over the same arm. Next he might take a green and work out from the cool halftones in the same way. By this time he had subdued the intensity of the white and by painting all these colors over each other and mixing them together created a beautiful subtle color scheme with lots of broken color and texture. At this point he might restate his lights. This process is very loose with no respect paid to edges of form as these can be established later. Last he would model his darks. This was done with mostly sable brushes. He chose his dark color not for the way it looked but for how it would blend with the other colors already there. For instance alizarin crimson would create a luminous reddish haze when he used it. This would be great for the space between fingers or the transparent flesh in an ear but terrible for a cool blue area around the eye socket. In the cool areas he would often use a purple or a mixed dull greenish color with a bit of umber and a green or blue . When painting these darks he blends out from the darkest point I never saw him block in a chunky dark it was always a soft delicate subtle process where the finish starts to emerge.

Some frequent mixtures:

In the lights often Brilliant yellow light or naples were mixed with cad red, Alizarin or Yellow ochre for warmer colors and the same brilliant yellow could be mixed with a purple or green to cool the light areas. For richer color areas mixtures of naples or brilliant yellow with ochre, cad red or either of the sienas were used.
In the shadows he often would mix burnt siena and cad green, or burnt siena and alizarin for hot areas. Finally for the dark shadow accents he might use pthalo blue mixed with burnt siena and alizarin.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Upcoming Competitions

I am posting a list of upcoming competitions relevant for realist painters. The deadlines are all coming up in the next few weeks.

American Artist Magazine, Self Portrait Competition

American Artist, Artist of the Month

International Artist Magazine, Your Favorite Subject

Artist Magazine, Annual Art Competition

Slow Art, Strange Figurations

Lana Santorelli Gallery, Summer Nude Show

Oil Painters of America, Western Regional Exhibition

Artist of the Day Blog

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Of Art and Murder

In 2007, the 'artist' Guillermo Vargas Habacuc tied up a stray dog in a gallery. Over the course of several days, he and the viewers watched as the dog slowly starved to death before their eyes.

The Visual Arts Biennial of Central America has invited Guillermo Vargas Habacuc to produce an encore performance of this installation in 2008.

This act not only disregards ethics, morality, and international law, but it is a blatant affront to our intelligence. Freedom of expression does not apply here and I'll tell you why. "Conceptual art", by it's very nature, does not require a visual to communicate an idea. In fact, it is more clearly articulated in written or verbal form. Truly ask yourself, who looks at an installation and just gets it? Understanding the point requires either a detailed written statement or a Masters degree in contemporary art theory. "Conceptual art" is an elitist statement, with an elitist vocabulary to an elitist audience. But, I'll briefly explain it for those who aren't familiar.

It all began in 1917 with Marcel Duchamp. (Well, it began with Kant, but we'll start with Duchamp in the interest of brevity.) He found a urinal, placed it in a gallery, and entitling it Fountain, said that it was art. From Duchamp onward, the entire point of "ready-made" or "found art" is that the part of the artwork that is "art" is specifically not the object. Therefore the object, whether aesthetically appealing or not, is absolutely unnecessary. In fact, if one considers the object aesthetically it negates the entire point and the piece is therefore no longer art. Duchamp's and Habacuc's ideas would have been more effectively conveyed if they had limited it to a written form, much like Schrodinger's thought experiment with the cat in the radioactive box. If the idea is the art, and not the object.... why have the object?

Regardless of whether or not one thinks that placing an object like a urinal or shovel in a gallery constitutes as brilliant art, Habacuc treats this living creature as an object. If his point is intended ironically (irony - an overburdened and weak leg to stand on) to point out starvation, we do not require his 'great insight' to realize that starvation takes place. We do not require his insight to see suffering, pain, fascism, indifference, or death. These are all extremely obvious. So obvious in fact, that a drunken four year old could illuminate the concept for you if you're at all confused. Thus, adding to the suffering in the world only adds to the suffering in the world and does nothing to counteract it.

As social action, this piece is not merely impotent, but destructive. Now we understand that in some poorer areas of Latin America, dogs are regarded much as rats. There are thousands of them on the streets and they pose a public danger. However, in your mind, simply replace the dog with a rat. This does not negate the fact that what he's doing is simply starving an animal. Even if you remove yourself from caring about the animal, it's still conceptually banal and obvious and leads us down an incredibly slippery path.

In 2002 Damien Hirst made a conceptually similar statement in the Guardian:

Describing the image of the hijacked planes crashing into the twin towers as "visually stunning", he added: "You've got to hand it to them on some level because they've achieved something which nobody would have ever have thought possible, especially to a country as big as America.

"So on one level they kind of need congratulating, which a lot of people shy away from, which is a very dangerous thing."

You can see how very quickly how this definition of Art can become dangerous.

Short of any actual content in the "piece", the only thing left is beauty. And the only beautiful element of this entire "piece" was the life of the dog, which he destroyed. One might say that was his point - that is to say that the "Bourgeoisie" west lacks a grasp of "reality" - , and to do so, he hoped to mimic Duchamp. Overlooking the hypocrisy of such a statement coming from someone in the upper strata of an oligarchic ruling class, let's simply stick to the nuts and bolts of the argument. The goal of Duchamp's "Fountain" was to destroy aesthetic beauty and the institutions that supported it. Firstly, some philosophical idea on the nature of art is never important enough to sacrifice a life. Secondly, it negates the point of art, as art is about life. And thirdly, how many times must those who claim to be the 'avant garde' repeat the same tired stunt? Must we do this for another 90 years? Habucac's "installation" is at best, derivative, didactic, and a pathetic attempt at art. He would have to do much more for it to be anything more than the malicious act of a twisted and childish mind. In short, Habacuc has resorted to shock value due to the fact that he has nothing relevant to say.

But, I've got a brilliant idea - let's take it a step further!

Next time we'll take a homeless person, or better yet, a whole family of poverty stricken Central Americans and chain them up before a crowd of self-entitled, bourgeoisie elitists who will watch them starve while they drink their champagne and eat caviar. Or better still, let's just put the family into a pit with lions. It will be over quickly so that we don't exceed the viewers' 30 second attention spans and they can go home early and have their after-party in their mansions by the sea and croon about what a brilliant piece that was .....
oh I'm sorry, that's already been done before and it was called inhumane torture and public execution!

SeƱor Habacuc, do you understand the idea, or is it necessary for me to "perform" it to clarify?

This is wrong no matter how one defines "art".
Please follow these links to sign the petition:


Friday, April 18, 2008

Fragments of Humanity

From the show "Fragments"
By Blake Ward

Last night I made my obligatory trek to Chelsea to see the latest and greatest installment of chrome bunnies and iconccized household items being carefully scrutinized by a remarkably unchanging group of aging hipsters. They stand they criticize and they dribble free wine into the collars of their white turtlenecks. The night wears on and the atmosphere thickens. The distinction between the art and the spectators blurs and I find more pleasure observing a well heeled man in a tailored suit seriously scrutinizing a headless mannequin than I possibly could looking at the headless mannequin for myself.

Finally we take the elevator to the fourteenth floor of the Chelsea arts tower and step out into a dream. we walk into a room with a sprawling panorama of New York City and the Hudson river that is dazzling. I have come with two other artists Alexandra Pacula, and Fabio D Aroma, all three of us stop and for once were totally speechless. In this space were numerous small sculptures, active and restless fragments of nudes. They seemed healthy, vigorous, and alive, though they had been shattered. The show "Fragments" by Canadian artist Blake Ward and founder of Motive Art is Raising funds for No More Landmines a UK based organization dedicated to clearing landmines leftover from wars and making it possible for people to return to their land without risk of death or injury.

This show should be a challenge to every artist who sees it. Social change has been fundamental to modern art. Feminist art, political art, the freedom to do your own thing. Blake is an artist who is taking things a step further. He looks at the world and makes work that comments on it and makes a difference. Like Tom Wolfe's books his sculptures are a call to an art less self absorbed more and worldly.

Click here for a BBC story about the artist.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Advice from an art dealer

Dreamless Sleep, Robert Dale Williams
Collection of DK Anderson
I am an art dealer. When I walk around my home I come face to face with paintings I have purchased from my own artists over the years, some of which I now could probably not afford. Painting is my obsession. Ever since the first auction I attended in my youth where I tried unsuccessfully to buy a painting of a paratrooper jumping out of a plane. What as a dealer am I looking for in an artist? First I want to own the art. It must to be the art I would hang on my own wall and would want to buy if I came across it in a gallery. Every dealer has their preference mine is for art from the Nineteenth century and contemporary works that possess the same craft and humanity to be found in works by such artists as Bouguereau and Fredrick Leighton.

In order to succeed in the art world however an artist also needs to connect with his audience. They need to understand why they bought the painting so when their friends come over to visit they can confidently explain why their art is worth owning and they are not Philistines.

I make a point of having my artists tell their stories in my magazine World Provenance. If you are promoting your own work you must find a way to do this. Rehearse your story and have it ready at all times.

The work I like and deal in tends to have a strong presence, it does not sit back and fade into a room, it is forceful and everyone notices it. This makes it especially important for people to understand the artist. The more character your work has, the more explanation you should give the buyer. I find that artists often think they must paint soft or easy paintings to be successful, but this is not true. You just need to connect to your audience.
DK Anderson

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Been Caught Stealin

There is a bill currently before Congress, which would allow other people to take the copyright of your creative labors and use it for their own profit.

Yes, I tell you the truth, just as simply as that. They will take your art and give you nothing in return- no credit, no money, nothing.

Does that make you angry? I bet it does!

As if there wasn't enough exploitation of artists rampant already, they've decided to make it legal. Just like the infamous Patriot Act, of course they chose to name the bill something misleading: The Orphaned Artwork Bill. Doesn't it conjure up images of little doe eyed paintings lost and alone on the internet with no home? Well, isn't it so kind of the big corporate fat cats to put her to work doing something productive - lining his pockets for free. In fact, this is nothing short of art slavery! I do indeed think of my works as my children, and I'll be damned if I let someone send them to forced labor.

As of now, your copyright is legally protected internationally, automatically. You do not have to register. Here are the basic facts if this bill is passed. Everything produced within the last 35 years will be open game unless the artist pays a fee to "register" each and every piece produced, individually.

In time honored fashion, they're thinking only of the short term profits and not the long term effects of this legislation. The proposers of this bill don't seem to realize that if you force struggling artists to pay fee after fee to "register" their work, people will stop sharing their work and most will stop producing it. The artistic culture of this nation will shrivel up and whither like a rose in December. Not only will millions of artists loose their rights and ability to feed and clothe themselves worldwide, but every sector of the society will be effected. We depend upon the innovation and invention of creatives to fuel our economy.

Do you remember the writer's strike not too long ago? Do you remember how all of your favorite shows were gone? Do you remember how bad the movies were? Visualize this: 200 tv channels, all with only REALITY TV, badly done billboards, music like Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys will rule every radio station, our new buildings will be simply boxes, our cars will all look like the Hummer, our businesses will stagnate, our inventors will be stifled, our chefs will suffer and all our restaurants will serve Big Mac's and diet Coke. Art is communication, and communication is the foundation of civilization.

Ok, maybe I'm being a bit apocalyptic here, but the last thing we can do right now is ignore this.

We need to shake our friends out of APATHY and TAKE ACTION!

Here are some resources that you need:

Please read this article from Animation World Magazine for the
complete picture of the critical situation we are in! Go to "Mind
Your Business" link. >>>
Animation World Magazine: Mind your Business: You will Loose All the Rights to Your Own Art

SIGN the Petition >>>


Listen to the audio interview on this bill >>>

Contact Elected Officials >>>

Another artist's "In the know" journal >>>

Friday, April 11, 2008

Odd Nerdrum Painting Process

Here are some photos of Odd Nerdrum's painting "Bleeding Heart" in progress. My friend Robert Dale Williams, who studied with Nerdrum, kindly sent them to me. I've invited him to participate on Art Babel, so hopefully soon, he'll be available if you have any questions.

Since this posting, I have studied with Nerdrum myself and will be returning this summer and fall to continue my studies. Feel free to ask questions, and keep checking the site as I will be adding more postings of my experiences in his studio.
-Richard T Scott

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Road Less Traveled

I received a call one evening as I was returning home from the studio. It was someone who had seen me copying a Hieronymus Bosch at the Met and taken one of my business cards. He wanted to commission me to copy this piece in the stunning Courbet exhibition.

We met at the exhibit, pondered this piece, Self Portrait with a Pipe for a few moments; the under-painting (my copy) of which is included here. I began following a train of thought which I had previously explored about the nature of copying, appropriation, and originality. You might recall my thoughts on context, and as Borges discussed in Pierre Menard, author of The Quixote, how one could find the repetition of the exact same phrase in the exact same novel to be richer than the original. Much like a joke which becomes funnier every time it is repeated. It has the added contexts of referring to the previous, as well as being re-created at a later time by a different person in a different place for different purposes.

The copy of the Courbet, has an interesting context for me personally, as he claimed (falsely or not) to be from the country and even adopted a provencal accent. I actually am from the country (Georgia) and early on had somehow negated my accent. Thus, I am copying the creation of a man who molded his persona to be more like my origins. In an odd way, this is sort of an ex-temporal mimetic coincidence. If the chronology of time were not perceived, i.e. we lived a fourth dimensional existence, what then becomes a copy, and what an original? Sorry, if I lost you there, back to my point.

Instead of investigating the line between appropriation and creation as before, I found myself lost on another path which divided from the original like the road less traveled in a Robert Frost poem. What if the copy were copied again? Does a copy of a copy have an even greater contextual richness? What of a copy of a copy of a copy? Short of taking it to the level of absurdity, let's consider simply the copy of the copy. It refers to the original context, as well as the secondary context.

Artist a paints a piece. Artist b copies it. Artist c copies b, but is fully aware of and influenced by a. There arises almost a Pythagorean relationship between these three contexts.
Artist a is a painter in the Baroque period. b is a realist painter at the end of the Romantic period, but c is a painter during the height of post-modernism and conceptual art.
a works in a manner accepted by the tradition of the time. The work of b is considered only an exercise to study technique. However, an "original figurative composition" by c might be considered passe, anachronistic, and futile, yet his copy could be construed as an ironic statement and an act pushing the envelope of direct appropriation. It can be conceived of in the theoretical vernacular of the time as having artistic merit on it's own. Doubly so because it emphasizes the redundant aspect of the self referencing which art has made throughout history. Does this negate the idea of Kitsch?

This begs a question; if everything derives from something else, yet is different in a each new context, why does it matter if it has been done before?

"Originality is nothing more than remembering everything you've heard, but forgetting where you heard it." -Mark Twain

More quotes on originality.