THE SECRET OF ART

1 10 2014

ART, DESIGN AND THE WISDOM OF MILTON GLASER

Two days ago I was checking my FineArt America newsletter and I came across an interesting topic, that stemmed from a popular blog by a prolific and super talented Graphic Designer Milton Glaser. He is the creator of more than 300 posters for clients in the areas of publishing, music, theater, film, institutional and civic enterprise, as well as those for commercial products and services.

Milton Glaser Secret of Art Success copyIn the Article that I read – that actually was a talk he has given quite a while ago – Mr. Glaser touches interesting subjects that no one talks about. The everyday search for work, the effort to preserve integrity despite the pressure to earn income, the everlasting pull-push relationship between Client – Consumer – Designer. Mr. Glaser is a graphic designer. However – his insights are equally valid  – probably even more so for Artists. I know – some Artists are looking down on Designers – for some inexplicable reason. How I know? I am a Designer.   Has been one for all my life. But I am also an Artist . A good one too. Ultimately I am hybrid of the two.  Where does the Designer end and the Artist begin?

I wondered many times. Once of my Facebook connections – I saw a comment about a Designer – by a novice Artist saying: “…. He is just a trained technician – that is what designers do …”  I  laughed out loud. I could no believe that someone could be so narrow-minded. This made me think.  What is the difference between Artists and Designers? And where is the fine line between the two – if in fact it does exist?  Here is my view on this . Designers are Artists, who learn how to harness their talent and skills to the specific need of a market of a Client, who use their creativity to produce an great amount of designs. Their final result is measured by the reaction of the Client and /or their Public – and in that sense it might be geared to a specific extroverted effect. Designs can be groundbreaking, innovative, uplifting, flattering, complimentary…. Designers seldom stand and admire their own work…. They are already on the next project…. While Art is more intuitive, introspective, meditative and philosophical .  Artists vision is unharnessed by their Clients wishes - rather, they are expected to provide their own criteria and   aesthetic value. Designers act  like aesthetic agents for their clients while  Artists possess an  aesthetic nucleus,  which is a reflection of their own perspective on life. Their Collectors ( Clients)  follow.

In general, however  - Artists can learn a lot more from Designers. Designer  work requires more discipline – freedom is conditional. Yet – in essence – the two professions blend in a way that leaves us asking for more. It is not an accident that the best projects in Public Art are a result of the successful amalgam of  Design (Landscape Architecture)  and Art or Sculpture and architecture or poster designs and contemporary painting. And if anyone wants to dig deeper through the centuries – they can go as  far back as Gian Lorenzo Bernini – or his successor Michelangelo. They were both Sculptors and architectural designers. I suppose these titans of art were the harbingers of interdisciplinary practice of blending design and art seamlessly.

So – here are  the 10 things Milton Glaser has learned…. My fellow Artists, are you listening?  Good Designers are Artists – and good Artists are Designers. I will let ponder this on your own.  I found the text below – both incisive and rather an eye opener. Here it is:

10 Things I Have Learned – The Secret of Art

 Ten Things I Have Learned, Part of AIGA Talk in London, November 22, 2001

1.YOU CAN ONLY WORK FOR PEOPLE THAT YOU LIKE.

This is a curious rule and it took me a long time to learn because in fact at the beginning of my practice I felt the opposite. Professionalism required that you didn’t particularly like the people that you worked for or at least maintained an arms length relationship to them, which meant that I never had lunch with a client or saw them socially. Then some years ago I realised that the opposite was true. I discovered that all the work I had done that was meaningful and significant came out of an affectionate relationship with a client. And I am not talking about professionalism; I am talking about affection. I am talking about a client and you sharing some common ground. That in fact your view of life is someway congruent with the client, otherwise it is a bitter and hopeless struggle.

2.IF YOU HAVE A CHOICE NEVER HAVE A JOB.

One night I was sitting in my car outside Columbia University where my wife Shirley was studying Anthropology. While I was waiting I was listening to the radio and heard an interviewer ask ‘Now that you have reached 75 have you any advice for our audience about how to prepare for your old age?’ An irritated voice said ‘Why is everyone asking me about old age these days?’ I recognised the voice as John Cage. I am sure that many of you know who he was – the composer and philosopher who influenced people like Jasper Johns and Merce Cunningham as well as the music world in general. I knew him slightly and admired his contribution to our times. ‘You know, I do know how to prepare for old age’ he said. ‘Never have a job, because if you have a job someday someone will take it away from you and then you will be unprepared for your old age. For me, it has always been the same every since the age of 12. I wake up in the morning and I try to figure out how am I going to put bread on the table today? It is the same at 75, I wake up every morning and I think how am I going to put bread on the table today? I am exceedingly well prepared for my old age’ he said.

2.SOME PEOPLE ARE TOXIC AVOID THEM.

This is a subtext of number one. There was in the sixties a man named Fritz Perls who was a gestalt therapist. Gestalt therapy derives from art history, it proposes you must understand the ‘whole’ before you can understand the details. What you have to look at is the entire culture, the entire family and community and so on. Perls proposed that in all relationships people could be either toxic or nourishing towards one another. It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.

4.PROFESSIONALISM IS NOT ENOUGH or THE GOOD IS THE ENEMY OF THE GREAT.

Early in my career I wanted to be professional, that was my complete aspiration in my early life because professionals seemed to know everything – not to mention they got paid for it. Later I discovered after working for a while that professionalism itself was a limitation. After all, what professionalism means in most cases is diminishing risks. So if you want to get your car fixed you go to a mechanic who knows how to deal with transmission problems in the same way each time. I suppose if you needed brain surgery you wouldn’t want the doctor to fool around and invent a new way of connecting your nerve endings. Please do it in the way that has worked in the past.

Unfortunately in our field, in the so-called creative – I hate that word because it is misused so often. I also hate the fact that it is used as a noun. Can you imagine calling someone a creative? Anyhow, when you are doing something in a recurring way to diminish risk or doing it in the same way as you have done it before, it is clear why professionalism is not enough. After all, what is required in our field, more than anything else, is the continuous transgression. Professionalism does not allow for that because transgression has to encompass the possibility of failure and if you are professional your instinct is not to fail, it is to repeat success. So professionalism as a lifetime aspiration is a limited goal.

5.LESS IS NOT NECESSARILY MORE.

Being a child of modernism I have heard this mantra all my life. Less is more. One morning upon awakening I realised that it was total nonsense, it is an absurd proposition and also fairly meaningless. But it sounds great because it contains within it a paradox that is resistant to understanding. But it simply does not obtain when you think about the visual of the history of the world. If you look at a Persian rug, you cannot say that less is more because you realise that every part of that rug, every change of colour, every shift in form is absolutely essential for its aesthetic success. You cannot prove to me that a solid blue rug is in any way superior. That also goes for the work of Gaudi, Persian miniatures, art nouveau and everything else. However, I have an alternative to the proposition that I believe is more appropriate. ‘Just enough is more.’

6. STYLE IS NOT TO BE TRUSTED.

I think this idea first occurred to me when I was looking at a marvellous etching of a bull by Picasso. It was an illustration for a story by Balzac called The Hidden Masterpiece. I am sure that you all know it. It is a bull that is expressed in 12 different styles going from very naturalistic version of a bull to an absolutely reductive single line abstraction and everything else along the way. What is clear just from looking at this single print is that style is irrelevant. In every one of these cases, from extreme abstraction to acute naturalism they are extraordinary regardless of the style. It’s absurd to be loyal to a style. It does not deserve your loyalty. I must say that for old design professionals it is a problem because the field is driven by economic consideration more than anything else. Style change is usually linked to economic factors, as all of you know who have read Marx. Also fatigue occurs when people see too much of the same thing too often. So every ten years or so there is a stylistic shift and things are made to look different. Typefaces go in and out of style and the visual system shifts a little bit. If you are around for a long time as a designer, you have an essential problem of what to do. I mean, after all, you have developed a vocabulary, a form that is your own. It is one of the ways that you distinguish yourself from your peers, and establish your identity in the field. How you maintain your own belief system and preferences becomes a real balancing act. The question of whether you pursue change or whether you maintain your own distinct form becomes difficult. We have all seen the work of illustrious practitioners that suddenly look old-fashioned or, more precisely, belonging to another moment in time. And there are sad stories such as the one about Cassandre, arguably the greatest graphic designer of the twentieth century, who couldn’t make a living at the end of his life and committed suicide.

But the point is that anybody who is in this for the long haul has to decide how to respond to change in the zeitgeist. What is it that people now expect that they formerly didn’t want? And how to respond to that desire in a way that doesn’t change your sense of integrity and purpose.

7. HOW YOU LIVE CHANGES YOUR BRAIN.

The brain is the most responsive organ of the body. Actually it is the organ that is most susceptible to change and regeneration of all the organs in the body. I have a friend named Gerald Edelman who was a great scholar of brain studies and he says that the analogy of the brain to a computer is pathetic. The brain is actually more like an overgrown garden that is constantly growing and throwing off seeds, regenerating and so on. And he believes that the brain is susceptible, in a way that we are not fully conscious of, to almost every experience of our life and every encounter we have. I was fascinated by a story in a newspaper a few years ago about the search for perfect pitch. A group of scientists decided that they were going to find out why certain people have perfect pitch. You know certain people hear a note precisely and are able to replicate it at exactly the right pitch. Some people have relevant pitch; perfect pitch is rare even among musicians. The scientists discovered – I don’t know how – that among people with perfect pitch the brain was different. Certain lobes of the brain had undergone some change or deformation that was always present with those who had perfect pitch. This was interesting enough in itself. But then they discovered something even more fascinating. If you took a bunch of kids and taught them to play the violin at the age of 4 or 5 after a couple of years some of them developed perfect pitch, and in all of those cases their brain structure had changed. Well what could that mean for the rest of us? We tend to believe that the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind, although we do not generally believe that everything we do affects the brain. I am convinced that if someone was to yell at me from across the street my brain could be affected and my life might changed. That is why your mother always said, ‘Don’t hang out with those bad kids.’ Mama was right. Thought changes our life and our behaviour. I also believe that drawing works in the same way. I am a great advocate of drawing, not in order to become an illustrator, but because I believe drawing changes the brain in the same way as the search to create the right note changes the brain of a violinist. Drawing also makes you attentive. It makes you pay attention to what you are looking at, which is not so easy.

8. DOUBT IS BETTER THAN CERTAINTY.

Everyone always talks about confidence in believing what you do. I remember once going to a class in yoga where the teacher said that, spirituality speaking, if you believed that you had achieved enlightenment you have merely arrived at your limitation. I think that is also true in a practical sense. Deeply held beliefs of any kind prevent you from being open to experience, which is why I find all firmly held ideological positions questionable. It makes me nervous when someone believes too deeply or too much. I think that being sceptical and questioning all deeply held beliefs is essential. Of course we must know the difference between scepticism and cynicism because cynicism is as much a restriction of one’s openness to the world as passionate belief is. They are sort of twins. And then in a very real way, solving any problem is more important than being right. There is a significant sense of self-righteousness in both the art and design world. Perhaps it begins at school. Art school often begins with the Ayn Rand model of the single personality resisting the ideas of the surrounding culture. The theory of the avant garde is that as an individual you can transform the world, which is true up to a point. One of the signs of a damaged ego is absolute certainty.

Schools encourage the idea of not compromising and defending your work at all costs. Well, the issue at work is usually all about the nature of compromise. You just have to know what to compromise. Blind pursuit of your own ends which excludes the possibility that others may be right does not allow for the fact that in design we are always dealing with a triad – the client, the audience and you.

Ideally, making everyone win through acts of accommodation is desirable. But self-righteousness is often the enemy. Self-righteousness and narcissism generally come out of some sort of childhood trauma, which we do not have to go into. It is a consistently difficult thing in human affairs. Some years ago I read a most remarkable thing about love, that also applies to the nature of co-existing with others. It was a quotation from Iris Murdoch in her obituary. It read ‘ Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real.’ Isn’t that fantastic! The best insight on the subject of love that one can imagine.

9. ON AGING.

Last year someone gave me a charming book by Roger Rosenblatt called ‘Ageing Gracefully’ I got it on my birthday. I did not appreciate the title at the time but it contains a series of rules for ageing gracefully. The first rule is the best. Rule number one is that ‘it doesn’t matter.’ ‘It doesn’t matter that what you think. Follow this rule and it will add decades to your life. It does not matter if you are late or early, if you are here or there, if you said it or didn’t say it, if you are clever or if you were stupid. If you were having a bad hair day or a no hair day or if your boss looks at you cockeyed or your boyfriend or girlfriend looks at you cockeyed, if you are cockeyed. If you don’t get that promotion or prize or house or if you do – it doesn’t matter.’ Wisdom at last. Then I heard a marvellous joke that seemed related to rule number 10. A butcher was opening his market one morning and as he did a rabbit popped his head through the door. The butcher was surprised when the rabbit inquired ‘Got any cabbage?’ The butcher said ‘This is a meat market – we sell meat, not vegetables.’ The rabbit hopped off. The next day the butcher is opening the shop and sure enough the rabbit pops his head round and says ‘You got any cabbage?’ The butcher now irritated says ‘Listen you little rodent I told you yesterday we sell meat, we do not sell vegetables and the next time you come here I am going to grab you by the throat and nail those floppy ears to the floor.’ The rabbit disappeared hastily and nothing happened for a week. Then one morning the rabbit popped his head around the corner and said ‘Got any nails?’ The butcher said ‘No.’ The rabbit said ‘Ok. Got any cabbage?’

10.TELL THE TRUTH

The rabbit joke is relevant because it occurred to me that looking for a cabbage in a butcher’s shop might be like looking for ethics in the design field. It may not be the most obvious place to find either. It’s interesting to observe that in the new AIGA’s code of ethics there is a significant amount of useful information about appropriate behaviour towards clients and other designers, but not a word about a designer’s relationship to the public. We expect a butcher to sell us eatable meat and that he doesn’t misrepresent his wares. I remember reading that during the Stalin years in Russia that everything labelled veal was actually chicken. I can’t imagine what everything labelled chicken was. We can accept certain kinds of misrepresentation, such as fudging about the amount of fat in his hamburger but once a butcher knowingly sells us spoiled meat we go elsewhere. As a designer, do we have less responsibility to our public than a butcher? Everyone interested in licensing our field might note that the reason licensing has been invented is to protect the public not designers or clients. ‘Do no harm’ is an admonition to doctors concerning their relationship to their patients, not to their fellow practitioners or the drug companies. If we were licensed, telling the truth might become more central to what we do.

To learn more about this prolific and wise artist , please visit his website MiltonGlaser.com. The design Company is located in NY, if anyone is interested to subscribe for their newsletter visit their website.    Milton Glaser, Inc. 207 East 32nd Street, New York, NY 10016   T: 212-889-3161  F: 212-213-4072     studio@miltonglaser.com.

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Tsvetana For Art Chronicle





THE LA ART SHOW 2013

31 01 2013

THE LOS ANGELES ART SHOW AS SEEN BY THE ART CHRONICLE

The LA Art Show was much expected by Artists and Collectors and Art lovers just the same. It was here and it is gone Iphone 420now. I was able to attend for a brief Saturday afternoon – and it was packed! I thought I was in some kind of futuristic Art version of Neiman Marcus … Not that Neiman was ever that packed with visitors. That was the curious part – apparently, the organizers did a wonderful job promoting it.

Most impressive part was the variety of Art and the presence of Chinese Artists and GalleriesLA ART (27). Among the American Galleries, who are always present at every show like ABBY TAYLOR GALLERY (Boston) and LUREI GALLERY (Los Angeles) just to name a couple – the presence of Chinese art galleries was strong both as number of galleries and quality of Art. The Chinese traditional mastery was possibly the most impressive – A wonderdful large-scale portrait of an elderly lady stayed with me long after I left the show. Daniele Sculpture Woman with w cigaretteImpeccable brushstroke - and emotion for detail. For the short time I was able to view the show  - one other thing made an impression on me – very little sculpture. Almost nonexistent. Could it be that this means a Sculpture Art Show is in the making for 2014?  Hmmm – Maybe next ART SHOW  will have a special section exclusively for sculpture – Contemporary and Traditional Figurative…. In any case – LURIE GALLERY had two California Artists, both dramatically different in their sculpture technique – Jon Krawzhyk - contemporary abstract medium, usually  large scale and Daniele Matalon - traditional figurative third to half-life size bronzes. Daniele Matalon’s “Petra” is exquisite, sensual in a contained kind of way, and masterful in its execution. Daniele Matalon is a Sculptor, who started her career in early 2000. ‘Petra’ reminds me of a sculptural version of an Var5gas and Olivia’s glamourous pin-ups. To view the show , for you is a brief video on the Art Chronicle YOUTUBE  channel ( click on the red text to activate the link).  See you soon!

 Yours Truly,

BIG SMILE

 

 

 

Tsvetana Yvanova,

for The Art Chronicle





WHY I SCULPTED THE PRESIDENT

22 09 2012

THE PRESIDENT’S PORTRAIT FINALLY IN BRONZE!!!

By Tsvetana Yvanova

The story behind this work is long. It started in the spring of 2010.

I was asked often – Why did you sculpt the President?
The main inspiration behind the President’s sculpture portrait are Mr. Obama’s character, individuality and intelligence.
As an Artist – for portraiture, I am attracted to subjects, who posses a unique blend of character features, which are seemingly unrelated, but in reality are deeply interconnected. Mr.Obama’s features are of such nature. His contained radiance, his charisma stems from his deep belief and his deep caring for all Americans, regardless of age, financial status and color. This universal quality comes from the depth of his desire to awake the passion of millions and sparkle a call to action to make a difference –this is what made him inspirational.

When a person with such global vision ignites an idea, which comes from this love and compassion for all people – people follow. He managed to begin restoring the world’s respect and admiration for America – so tarnished during the previous presidency.
The historical fact that Barack Obama is the first black President is indisputable. This fact has a significance within our country and outside its borders. With in the US – it gave hope to all who have given it up – outside the US – his election proved to the world that America has changed and all the
shadows of the dark past were just that – shadows.

On a personal level – I have discovered subtlety in Mr. Obama’s character qualities, which make him more powerful. His kindness, his calm and collected demeanor blends with the resilience and enhances remarkable strength that he possesses. Artistically, I am only interested in the character of a subject, so I can give the sculpture a personal presence . In the case of Mr. Obama – this was not an easy task, since I have never met him in person. When I finished it in clay, one viewer made a remark , I will never forget “ Oh my God – he is ready to talk?”. This gave me the assurance that maybe I have accomplished my goal

That evening it was also the first time anyone would view the President’s Portrait in bronze. For all who viewed it that night, I hope I have created and image of a remarkable man, whose personal presence inspires and at the same time makes us ask ourselves questions. One question comes to mind: How far are we willing to go to make the United States of America the greatest country in the world once again? Are we ready ? Can we do it? We all know the answer.

Yours Truly,

Tsvetana

For The ArChronicle





ALLURE OF ABSTRACTION

9 06 2012

WHAT ‘S IN AN ABSTRACT?

A few months ago I came across a handwritten note by a very good artist, in his eighties – who just happens to like  classical representational art. He not only did not like abstract painting – he disliked it. OK – many people do not like abstractions – but they have the wisdom to say -’ I don’t understand it’. What is the Artist trying to say?  That is a valid point. You must understand something before you appreciate it or pass an opinion. I personally struggled for a long time because I did not understand Christo. However –  after a few  videos, his  biographical book, and a few other books on his art – I came upon the ‘aha’ moment. I got it! And ever since  that moment a few years back –  I am trying to the best of my abilities to explain  his art to others – to the best of my understanding.  Back to  the old school Artist, who dislikes Abstract art.  So much so, that he had the audacity to cut out an Article form a newspaper, about a celebrated abstract artist Helen Frankenthaler, with a note  addressed to his fellow-artist buddy:  ‘ Hi  John! Here is another example of hoe talentless fraud is accepted as art  and equally kook-y critics!’”. I just happen to know ‘John’,  who knows I love abstract art and just lets me have the  cut outs… The point here is – it is so easy to  dismiss something one does not understand. And  for some – belittling and degrading something they simply cannot   grasp – comes even easier.

But WHY?

Why dismiss something that clearly has values to many – aesthetic value, poetic value,  even monetary value ….. That brings me to  enclosing some reprints from a a well known publication about my favorite  abstract artist – Gerhard Richter – named lately ” The Top Selling Living artist“:  by Wall Street Journal in an  article by Kelly Crow.

About Gerhard Richter’s unrivalled success Mr. Crow adds: “The artist’s ascent is being driven by market demands as much as curatorial merit: Auction houses and museums, eager for new masters to canonize, are showcasing Mr. Richter’s works around the world at an ever-increasing clip. An influx of international collectors and dealers are also seizing the moment to buy or sell his pieces at a profit—including art-world tastemakers such as Russian industrialist Roman Abramovich, French luxury-goods executive Bernard Arnault, dealer Larry Gagosian, Taiwanese ele
ctronics mogul Pierre Chen and New York hedge-fund manager Steven Cohen

Mr. Richter’s work is uniquely suited to the tastes of the current art market. Like Picasso, he paints in a number of different styles—from rainbow-hued abstracts to poignant family portraits—giving collectors plenty of choice. Like Warhol, he is prolific, which ensures a steady volume of his works in the marketplace—yet enough of his works are in museum collections that he has avoided a glut. And ever since the deaths last year of painters Cy Twombly and Lucian Freud, collectors searching for another senior statesman have started giving his work a closer look.

Collectors are paying a particular premium for Mr. Richter’s larger abstracts from the
late 1980s, which have all the visual impact of a work by Francis Bacon or Mr. Rothko, artists whose prices spiked before the recession. These abstracts are also immediately identifiable as being Mr. Richter’s creations, making them easy status symbols. San Francisco dealer Anthony Meier says, “Collectors want an iconic work in a format that everyone recognizes. Monkey see, monkey do”

As Terry Teachout points out in his article “ The Seductive Allure of Abst

raction” :

“Part of what makes this series so fascinating is that Mr. Diebenkorn, who died in 1993, waged a lifelong “battle” with abstraction. He started out as a gifted Abstract Expressionist painter. In 1955 he suddenly embraced representation, turning out dozens of figurative paintings that translate the language of Matisse into a wholly personal, semiabstract style. Then, in the Ocean Park series, he made a decisive return to total abstraction, in the process creating the most original works of his career.

“To chart Mr. Diebenkorn’s stylistic development is to be reminded of the near-overwhelming power of the idea of abstraction in the 20th century. It was even felt by artists who, like Pierre Bonnard and Fairfield Porter, never produced an abstract painting in their lives, but were nonetheless influenced by the way in which practitioners of abstraction created what Mr. Diebenkorn called “invented landscapes,” nonobjective images that evoked the world of tangible reality while steering clear of literal representation.”

“Just as Kandinsky turned his back on figuration, so did the atonal composers of the early 20th century, led by Arnold Schoenberg, abandon tonal harmony, the fundamental ordering principle on which all Western classical music had previously been based. In a tonal composition, harmonic movement is the “plot” that propels the listener through time. Schoenberg, by contrast, sought to express his inmost feelings in a raw, unmediated way instead of using large-scale tonal architecture to shape them into conventionally coherent structures. “One must express oneself! he told Kandinsky in 1911.Express oneself directly! Not one’s taste, or one’s upbringing, or one’s intelligence, knowledge or skill. Not all these acquired characteristics, but that which is inborn, instinctive.”

Whatever causes the Abstract Art to  be in the center of such controversies as despised by some and revered by others  – is certainly not going away. Abstract Art  is here to stay. For those of us – who love Abstract Art – and even paint abstract – this is the good news. For the ones, who have not grown to at least like it – I would say – “Get over it!  Spend more time trying to understand it and less time complaining and maybe you will figure out why abstract art is so timeless…’ For now, my Abstract lovers – let us enjoy Richter’s unlimited imagination, while he keeps being amazed at his  own success….

Yours truly,

 

 Tsvetana Yvanova

 for The Art Chronicle





TURNING DREAMS INTO BRONZE

6 06 2012

 PORTRAIT OF NICK

The story of this portrait is probably most unusual and has more depth  for  me than anyone else.  Our story started officially on June 3d. But it began a year before that. I have no intention of boring you with details of how I met Nick – but the truth is  it was   an accidental unexpected stroke of  simple destiny.  The suddenness, the beauty and the poetry of it -   will stay with me forever.  Instant bond.  He had this inexplicable capacity to bring the best in people.  Our connection ignited into a wonderful exchange of moments where we would literally finish each other’s thoughts.

On our first trip on Roamer III – he  invited me for lunch. Lunch was an hour away by water  from Marina Del Rey to Redondo Beach.  In  a warm California day in June, there is no better place to be than on water off the coast. The ocean  at this time of the year  is dark blue with playful ripples  as far as the eyes can see.  The coolness of the water, maintaining the steady 64 degrees Farenheit  offsets the summer heat. This extravagant gesture was meant to impress me – and that it did ! Magnificent ocean  views aside – on a purely intellectual level, I  always had a fascination of Motor Yachts  as well – their compact design, the aerodynamic grace, with which they are seeming gliding  on the surface, while reaching depths to preserve balance. The  inherent wisdom of their utility, where nothing must be in excess, except quality – the fine balance between necessities and  luxuries. The lack of space was complimented by high quality of craftsmanship and ingenuous design. Like a giant jewelry box  - everything in Roamer  III was well maintained, despite the fact that she was ready to be retired.

I was very new at Yachting – and fascinated immensely – being at awe of the ocean to begin with.  Roamer III was a lady. What a brave adventurer she was – a wanderer.  She could be tosses left and right – but always maintained balance.  (I believe it has a lot to do with technology on board.)  Roamer and I were quickly became best friends.  I loved the way the engine hummed away  – while gliding    through the surface of the water making its way towards the breakers.  I had to learn the terminology – ‘top deck’  ‘starboard’ and ‘port’  – and  at some point I even graduated to navigating it for an hour   in open ocean and was able to dock Roamer back into her slot, without wrecking it !

That particular day – it was a beautiful day in  June  9th  in early 2000  -  on top deck , on our way to Redondo Beach  - I observed him very carefully . It was sheer joy to see Nick navigate or dock his 75 foot ‘Princess’,  with focused and precise movements, that came  so naturally to him.  His profile was so distinctively British and hansome with the unruly long hair and bronzed skin. There was a remarkable unity between the color of his Celtic blue eyes and the color of the Pacific ocean at that moment. I    marveled the moment   -  while he watched me  be enthralled with the school of dolphins, that were  racing  the yacht.  I  wanted to remember this moment forever.  He  looked incredibly content in his reserved quiet kind of  way – given away only by the glimmer in his blue eyes!  I took some photos. This moment – the ocean, with all its blue power ,  the joy  of dancing dolphins,  Nick with  his boundless passion for yachting and me – all in one place  - will stay with me until my last day .

In the summer of 2005, I was getting ready for an art  show and I wanted to make a sculpture portrait of  Nick  as a surprise. The thought stayed with me for a long time. It always takes me a while before I make a decision to sculpt or paint someone close. In spring 2005 I finally started. I decided to  use water based clay, because it allowed me to work faster and achieve a more spontaneous effects.  His long unruly hair was a challenge – but it worked out well. Nick was   a  passionate Contemporary Art Collector with rather avant-guarde  taste and the portrait needed to reflect his persona and his visionary temperament.  There was something inspirational about him, that does not lend itself  to defining in words. I finished the piece on time and was able to cast it on time for the show.  As the show approached – I was  hoping Nick will come. He was out of town – in Cleveland, where he maintained a permanent residence – a place he loved very, very  much and where he spent a great deal of time.

The Art reception and opening were on July 9, 2005.  Attendance was fantastic –  Tony Michaels  piano virtuoso and Carol Chaikin  on trumpet  -  filled the air with  exquisite jazz improvisations;  everyone had a wonderful time. The next two days brought great  sales too.  Reception was at the Balboa Bay Club,  in Newport Beach. Nick did not come. He could not make it -  he sent someone else  instead  as an act of grace. He always used to do this. His impeccable  blue blood manners were his signature. After the show we talked  a  lot. A couple of weeks after the show we were planing to have dinner as soon as he returns from his short trip to London and Bordeaux, France. That was the last time we spoke.

He never  went to France.   Nor  to London that month. He never  even saw his portrait . Things developed with lightning speed. On August 19 – I received a call. Nick had undergone a six hour emergency operation, from which he did not wake up. It had happened the day before.

But the portrait,  remained  as a pure embodiment of that beautiful June afternoon, when  the stars  were aligned and the world was happy – Nick was happy – and I was extatic. He literally changed my perception of life. He brought out the best in me. That moment – I try to capture  in his subtle smile. His  head is tilted, looking down at the rotor handling  with absolute  precision  the   Read the rest of this entry »





TONY CRAGG – ABSTRACT SCULPTOR

10 02 2012

One cannot not notice once in a while a giant  among us. A giant, that is the same height, same stature like everyone of us – only his  mind and his prolific resume make him a giant. Meet Tony Gragg. An unbelievably prolific sculptor – in a class of his own.

Tony Cragg was born in Liverpool, England in 1949. Internationally recognized as one of the leading abstract sculptors of his generation, Cragg has produced a highly influential body of work centered on the manipulation of shapes and surfaces as they relate to the human environment. Using such diverse materials as bronze, glass, and found objects, Cragg has created enigmatic works that meld bio-morphic shapes with otherworldly textures. In 1988, Tony Cragg was awarded the Turner Prize from the Tate Gallery, London, England. Tony Cragg has exhibited in museums throughout the world including The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas; the Tate Gallery, London, England; Musee National d’Art Moderne – Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Wiener Secession, Vienna, Austria; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain.

London Art Award nomination Tony Cragg: ‘I’m not a religious person—I’m an absolute materialist—and for me material is exciting and ultimately sublime. When I’m involved in making sculpture, I’m looking for a system of belief or ethics in the material. I want that material to have a dynamic, to push and move and grow.’

The Telegraph: “His move away from assemblage towards a material freighted with art-historical baggage could well have made Cragg look antediluvian. But as a show at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art reveals, over the last 20 years Cragg not only faced the challenge but revelled in it, making bronzes that weigh many tons, and yet look as though they’d been freed from the laws of gravity and inertia, zigzagging giddily upwards, as vertiginous in their verticality as Brancusi’s Endless Column. In these amazing sculptures Cragg appears at times to be engaging in a private conversation with the great masters of early 20th-century sculpture.”

Cragg: “There is this idea that sculpture is static, or maybe even dead, but I feel absolutely contrary to that. I’m not a religious person—I’m an absolute materialist—and for me material is exciting and ultimately sublime. When I’m involved in making sculpture, I’m looking for a system of belief or ethics in the material. I want that material to have a dynamic, to push and move and grow.

“I also want that to happen over the course of making things, so that as soon as one generation of sculptures has gone up, another generation is coming on and things are growing up around me. That’s how it seems to work for me.”

The Liverpool-born visual artist is currently the director of Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, and has lived in Germany since 1977. He won the Turner prize in 1988, and for his services to art received a CBE in 2002. He also opened a sculpture park in Wuppertal, Germany. All his sculptures are handmade, and he is well-known for scorn of factory-made art; likening non-handmade works to relatives that one has never met.

 View Tiny Craggs work in a Waldfrieden Sculpture Partk in Germany

Tsvetana,

for the ArtChronicle





FINE ART STORIES by TSVETANA

10 02 2012

THE  “CHAOS&TRUTH”  STORY


Wow ! What a title! How did it come to coin this name, someone asked me once…

Here is how this name came to be one of my most cherished paintings….CHAOS & TRUTH. It started one  summer in early 2000. Summers in Southern California can be scorching – especially  for some of us, born in moderate  European continental climate  across the ocean. The trees in my luscious mini forest -  seem to take it better than the patio, which is turning into an oven for many hours   a day.

I had just begun to experiment with large scale abstract painting, as a diversion from the endless and tedious hours of sculpting. In large scale paintings – every layer consumes   a great deal of paint and needs to dry completely before the next layer be applied. So – the more I experimented – the more  time it needed to dry. The temperature is never the same – so all I could control in the process was the time, not the exposure. Eventually, the frames that I especially create for each piece, stays for great periods of time- waiting its turn  to be completed.

In reality – these new large scale  abstract pieces are as much of a creation of the Sun as they were by me. Really! The temperature makes its own changes on that particular layer – sometimes they are spectacular in its effect! Other time – not so much. In these cases – you have to start over form that point on. This is the spontaneous part I like. Constant discovery!

One time – I had imagined a very large, sprawling canvas, that is very gentle at the sale time…I wanted to make a piece that is very large, horizontal, that has this strong, but calming presence. I make my own frames – it is an involved physical, a little tough – but while I am laying out the wood and the fabric – it gives me time to  put even more thought in  the end result. So I built the frame  36″ by 120″ and let is wait. I used a very fine , but strong blend of linen and silk.  I believe in integrity – when you create something – make sure it is genuine to its  core – including the materials. The purity of material is important to me, whether it is sculpture or a painting.

One summer passed – the large frame stayed untouched. The next summer  I did one layer.  Another summer passed. Then – 3 years later – I put it outside, where I usually work under the blue sky – and  I let my imagination free.
Then one afternoon – in 2009 I had this moment of  discovery and innovation. I was ready to do something entirely different from the ZEN SWIRLS I first did   in 2000. And right there , on the  ground – next to the blossoming orange trees -  I started  layering  the spontaneity of many  years of suppressed intentions to complete for this piece.

The more my determination grew – the softer I wanted it to look! Somehow it always takes more effort to make something  that looks effortless…
Like the ancient  hieroglyphs – which express and entire event – not just a single thing! It is almost impossible to register the thoughts that were occupying my mind at that time. At this moment, you may say – this is my own private performance. It is full of emotions, joy, wonder,  discovery, impatience, – it runs the gamut of  human expression. Then you wait a few hours, because the heavy layers need to settle and be protected from everything – from falling orange blossoms petals –to the tiny cute faced lizard, who live under a near  by  decorative rock  to a wanderer squirrel or a cat, who see this is just a part of the yard , only wet and slippery …
If one had a glimpse of the scene, while I was doing this painting    – it would have been quite baffling to the unknowing eye – the scene would have been closer to a dance, than to painting, simply because of scale. And that is maybe the reason why  each of these large scale paintings have so much meaning for me.

In a few hot summer days in 2010 I managed to complete  CHAOS & TRUTH. There was this gentle lace-like effect, when you look from a distance; when you come close to explore in depth  – it transforms itself into an organic  universe with unexpected spatial depth, impossible to describe.  In the end – this canvas is as appealing vertical as it is horizontal.

The truth is – this piece is very dear to  me. It took years to complete. And I fulfilled my goal – to have a complex large scale painting, that changes with the distance it was viewed. And the chaos, that preceded its completion was simply a precursor for a truth, that emerged in the end.

Isn’t that always the case  – Truth always emerged from Chaos.
Chaos always  preceded the Truth.And that is my very own story behind this piece! Hope you enjoy  it!

 

Yours truly, Tsvetana for TheArtcChronicle

PS. The CHAOS & TRUTH is featured in a DVD, which showcases in  videoart  the paintings of  Tsvetana Yvanova. The idea is to find a brand new way to experience the viewing of art  – a very artistic way of viewing . This DVD selection is available for the first time on Amazon.com.








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