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Art News and Updates from Gallereo

All the latest news from the art world, as well as what's happening here at Gallereo. If you've built a gallery at Gallereo, let us know about your experience and you and your site could feature in our blog in the coming weeks.

Friday 13th February 2015Can Video Games Be Art?

At first blush, many of you are probably reacting with horror at the very idea. Video games? Art? You can't be serious. But once you get over your initial fit of laughter, and you begin to take a closer look at some of the work that is being produced in the newest crop of games, you might be willing to admit that these artifacts have come a long way since Pac-Man and Pong. If films as art is within your sphere of acceptance, then video games can't be far behind.

Ultimately, it really comes down to what art means to you. If art is something that challenges social perceptions, inspires emotions or adds a little touch of beauty in the world, then some of the latest video games will likely knock your socks off. In fact, the medium has advanced so much and taken such a hold in the modern world that a museum dedicated to them was recently announced in the United States.

Located in Rochester in New York state, the World Video Game Hall of Fame is a project by the Strong National Museum of Play, and as the Strong put it, created to "recognize individual electronic games of all types — arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile — that have enjoyed popularity over a sustained period and have exerted influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society in general," which does rather sound like something an art museum might be able to claim.

Whether or not that sways you, it still begs the question, "can video games be art?" The answer, of course, is yes, but they are not inherently art. If you believe that Shia LaBoeuf sitting in a room where anyone can do anything they want to him - or the piece by the original artist he was ripping off, for that matter - counts as art, then a video game with an emotionally charged narrative that asks deep questions about the nature of morality, friendship and loneliness can't be that far away from the mark.

So before you give up on the latest generation, take a bit of time to get to know what you might be dismissing. Angry Birds probably isn't art, but who knows - those pigs are rather remarkable.  

Posted on February 13th 2015 on 02:22pm
Labels: art, video games

Wednesday 11th February 2015Selfies - From Space!

While it's with heavy fingers that we type the world 'selfie' at all, it's hard to get away from it in the world of photography at the moment. In this one case, however, it's with pleasure rather than trepidation that we type the word, as it also happens to involve astronauts and outer space. If you happen to have a few spare quid lying around, you might just be able to pick yourself up a piece of space photography history in the next few weeks, as a number of photographs from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration archives are going up on the auction block.

Depending on whom you ask, the star of the lot might be the first space selfie, taken by the late Col. Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin in 1966 with the curve of the Earth just visible in the background, or it might be the 1972 photograph taken by Eugene Cernan of Harrison Schmitt and the American flag planted on the lunar surface, with the Earth in the background. The Cernan photograph has been called "one of the great photos to come out of the space program," but it's hard to deny the buzz behind the Aldrin picture (sorry, we couldn't help ourselves).

The auction takes place on February 26th in London, courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions, and the collection is visible in Mallet Antiques as an exhibit entitled 'From the Earth to the Moon'. As Sarah Wheeler, who is Head of Photographs at the auction house, put it, "These photographs are more than merely documentary, many are simply sublime. They represent a golden age in the history of photography as well, when a few men went to the unknown to bring back awe-inspiring pictures. The view of the first Earthrise over the lunar horizon changed Man's relationship with the cosmos forever."

The prices aren't particularly astronomical, perhaps surprisingly, considering that Wheeler is correct in noting their impressive historical value. The estimated sale prices for the photos range from £300 to £10,000, which is still a pretty penny, but can you really put a price on the first photos of our own planet? Nothing would beat being able to casually mention, as your friend whips out their selfie stick, that you happen to have the first selfie from space. 

Posted on February 11th 2015 on 10:56pm

Friday 06th February 2015Picasso Sell Off

The granddaughter of Pablo Picasso, famous master of Cubism, has announced that she plans to sell some of the massive collection she inherited “one by one, based on need”, in order to finance her charitable work. Her collection of works by Picasso is estimated at over 10,000 individual pieces, ensuring that she probably has enough material to keep any sort of charity work going that she cares to undertake, with ease. Media reports are rife with speculation only, however, as Marina Picasso has announced that she plans to sell the work privately, and hasn't said much more than that.

In an interview with the New York Times, Marina Picasso said, "“It’s better for me to sell my works and preserve the money to redistribute to humanitarian causes. I have paintings, of course, that I can use to support these projects.”

This, naturally, sent the world of the art auctioneer into a tizzy, amid fears that a large sell off of Picasso's work could depress the value of every other Picasso on the market. This was further compounded by the fact that nobody knows exactly how many pieces she plans to sell from her collection, which has approximately 300 paintings in addition to a much larger number of etchings, sketches, and ceramic pieces.

Rumours are that she plans to sell seven major paintings, which could fetch up to £200 million, although this is not confirmed. All she has said done is confirm that she plans to sell some, and to dispel rumours tht she was also planning to sell Pablo Picasso's villa, La Californie, in the south of France where she currently lives.

Speaking to The Guardian, Melanie Gerlis of The Art Newspaper said, “She obviously is great provenance and she must know a lot of people. The reality is that there are a lot of ways to sell art. We are used to auction versus dealer but now you have auctions acting as dealers, you have agents, you have advisers, people are even selling things over Instagram. It is a changing landscape. If she was selling 300 paintings all at the same time then yes that may depress the market. It doesn’t sound to me like it is going to be a dramatic fire sale.”

Hopefully, once everyone has gotten over the shock of the idea that she's selling things privately instead of using a "respectable" auction house (although it seems like the media are almost creating that frenzy themselves), we can relax in knowing that she's putting the money from the sales to a good cause. 

Posted on February 06th 2015 on 05:21pm
Labels: art, picasso, sales

Wednesday 04th February 2015Are Living Subjects Inherently Exploitative?

Most artists have worked using living subjects at some point in their artistic careers, and there's naturally nothing wrong with that - people tend to make excellent subjects. But what happens when the piece is no longer a sketch, painting or sculpture? What happens if the piece is actually an ongoing performance/installation piece that has two people living inside it? Most of us will still not take issue with it, as they are presumably there by choice. What happens if the two subjects in the piece are homeless, and were hired by the artist to live in the piece? Suddenly, firm moral ground begins to feel a bit shaky, but it's up for debate if the ice is too thin to hold our weight.

The piece, entitled "The Alien Within: A Living Laboratory of Western Society," certainly has a ring of charged politicism, but that's nothing really all that new in the art world. The artist, Anders Carlsson, saw the two homeless participants begging on a street corner, and offered them some money to work together with him on a project to raise awareness about class inequalities and the struggles of poverty. They are paid an hourly wage that amounts to roughly $600 over the course of the project.

"People want to escape the discomfort, not knowing how to relate to someone so unequal,"  he said in a radio interview. "In a way, there's no escape." Not everyone is particularly pleased about the project, though, and a number of activists have decided to protest outside the Malmö Konsthall, where the project is located. "I had very high expectations," protestor Ioana Cojocariu said, "but when I entered the room, it felt like an ethnological exhibition, where black bodies had been replaced by poor bodies…I think artists are well-intentioned but there have been errors."

Curiously enough, there don't seem to be many interviews with the two people themselves, Luca Lacatus and Marcella Cheresi. That somehow seems to make the media reports about the project more exploitative than the project itself, but Lacatus did have this to say when eventually interviewed by a local Swedish paper,  "We've already got used to being looked at. It is better to be here than out on the street. Here it is warm and dry anyway." While, on the surface, it doesn't seem like a profound indictment of the denial of poverty, perhaps it is anyways. But don't they have a right to decide if they're being exploited?

Posted on February 04th 2015 on 08:49pm

Friday 30th January 2015Artist Spotlight: Alejandro Jodorowsky

If you've been alive on planet Earth and in the art world during the last year (which we have to assume you have been, since you're reading this at all), you've probably heard of the documentary 'Jodorowksy's Dune'. An excellent film about Jodorowsky's stunning yet failed attempt to create a movie version of the fantastically popular science fiction novel Dune by Frank Herbert, the film was shown at festivals around the world to great acclaim. Though perhaps more a cult classic in the popular world's imagination, the film is nothing less than a testament to what has been dubbed 'The Greatest Science Fiction Movie Never Made' - Jodorowsky's Dune.

Jodorowsky is a decidedly eccentric and charming fellow, very intense and passionate about his vision. Famous to another generation for several surrealist films, El Topo and The Holy Mountain, Jodorowosky's version of Dune was to be his greatest masterpiece. Even from a modern standpoint, it sounds absolutely incredible, although his vision of the film took some major liberties from the original source material of the novel. Working in collaboration with H.R Giger and Salvador Dali among many others, including the top special effects creators of the time, the film became much larger than any production budget could handle, despite being one of the most appealing films that has been seen in Hollywood in the last 30 years. Alas, it was never made, but lives on - at least in part - in many of the science fiction movies that we know and love.

It's lamentable to think that something so wondrous, bizarre and beautiful was shut down, but it had spiraled wildly out of the scope of a single movie at the time, and Hollywood had not yet hit on the idea of creating a series of films at the time, though it would soon explore Star Wars and all that offered. Contrasted with the 1984 version of Dune that was eventually created by David Lynch, it would have been stunning, no matter the length.

Jodorowsky is still alive and working at 85, and recently released another film, The Dance of Reality, which is a surrealist reimagining of his boyhood in Chile. "I want to liberate my imagination and my mind with every kind of movie. That is what I wanted to do all my life." Hard to argue with that!

Posted on January 30th 2015 on 07:29pm

Wednesday 28th January 2015Project Inspirations: Working With Seasons

If you've been a regular reader of the inspiration posts we've made over the (has it really been years?) since this blog first started, you might have noticed a trend: we love the seasons of the year. The way the entire world changes itself somehow just seems like the most exquisite poetry in motion, even if it can be pretty darned cold and dreary by the end of Winter. Change is always good for inspiration and creativity, and having a world that changes around us so regularly can be a great tool for change in our own lives, if we let it.

But more than a source of happiness and inspiration, it's possible to use the seasons themselves as an integral part of your work. Depending on what media you work with, this might find its expression in any number of different ways, and the possibilities are only limited by your own personal sense of creative style and flair.

Our most recent suggestion was a project for the coldest days of Winter, taking advantage of how rapidly soap bubbles can freeze in extremely cold weather, and what you could accomplish with some macro photography, but that's just one of the ways that the coldness of winter can be used as a tool to inspire new projects. Anything that works with water can be changed by extreme cold, which of course suggests watercolour painting. Have you ever tried doing masking with ice? Though we have little experience with watercolours, you could probably have a fun afternoon messing around on the porch with an easel, experimenting with different ways this might work - sometimes, the most exciting discoveries are made by accident.

Following on the watercolour tangent, as Spring begins to grow restless waiting in the wings behind Winter's trailing edges, it might be interesting to experiment with abstract watercolours that are partially designed by rainfall. It would create an extremely unique look, and could probably be modified by a careful application of masking or other techniques that might adjust how water impacts the pigment on the canvas. Maybe even letting the eavestrough (or similar makeshift version of it) do the colour mixing for you - if different pgiments have different weights, they may begin to create some astonishing patterns.

These ideas might work for you, they might not, but the main goal is to get you to start thinking about completely unexpected ways to incorporate the year's cycles into your creative process and your creative work itself. Happy experimenting!

Posted on January 28th 2015 on 03:54pm

Friday 23rd January 2015Shaking Up the Auction World - Again

The internet has been responsible for some of the biggest shakeups in supposedly firmly established industries - that's the nature of a disruptive technology. As we grow used to what it really means to have instant access to information from almost anywhere in the world, however, and as an entire generation grows up never having lived without the internet, its role as a disruptive technology is starting to draw to a close - at least, so it may seem.

Ever since the massive debut of eBay (and its partner Paypal, which made Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla the billionaire he is today), the auction world reeled as the possibilities of online auctioneering took hold in the public imagination and spread like wildfire. The more staid and formalized world of art auctions, secure in its market and its clientele, barely blinked - who was likely to spend $100 million on eBay?

Thanks to a new online auction house startup named Fine Art Bourse, or FAB, this may be all about to change. “We will go live with a truly global business”, founder and fine art auctioneer, Tim Goodman said. “This global presence will be unique to the online art industry,” he added.

With fee structures inherently designed to be rock-bottom compared to the more traditional auction houses - Sotheby's, Christie's and the like - they have a real chance of making some serious inroads into the auction market. “My target is to have 2 per cent of the market — about $280m — by year four.” An impressive initial goal, although still a rather long way off from the bigger players in the market.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see whether or not high-profile collectors and their agents are willing to engage with the newcomer startup, which has already raised $2 million in seed money for the initial round of funding, and is hoping to gain another $5.4 million to complete startup operations. The entire model is intended to be lean, and, in the words of Goodman, "humble", although it's hard to see how a multimillion dollar business can ever be considered humble. Perhaps that's a reflection of just how grandiose the other players are in the market, and an excellent indicator of the success FAB is likely to find by playing its own role as a disruptive technology. 

Posted on January 23rd 2015 on 03:12pm
Labels: art, auction, online

Wednesday 21st January 2015Selfie Sticks

Whether you love it or hate it, the selfie craze might just be here to stay. Instagram is more popular than ever, and celebrities are all over the bandwagon to ensure that the entire thing is here to stay. As always, when there is a market gap, someone will come along to fill it, and the selfie craze is no exception.

Mobile phone photography has already managed to recreate the entire camera industry in miniature - you can purchase additional lenses, additional editing software, feature phones whose entire premise is based around a camera with more megapixels than some DSLRs. The only thing that was missing, really, was the tripod. However, since a tripod is bulky and much of the appeal behind smartphone photography is the extremely portable nature of it, there probably isn't going to be too much of a market. Enter the selfie stick.

It is, unsurprisingly, exactly what it says on the tin. A stick of some kind of strong lightweight material (let us forestall the day of carbon fiber selfie sticks, please) with a way to attach your phone to one end. You hold it up, and you can suddenly take all sorts of wildly angled selfies from your phone. Can't quite get the tiger cage in the background into the shot? Nicholas Cage just too far away to get into the frame? No problem, if you've got a selfie stick.

Whether or not people will be roundly mocked for actually carrying these around and using them remains to be seen, as their popularity hasn't quite hit peak annoyance yet (if it ever does), but there has already been a bit of controversy over the devices, which are much more popular in Asia than in the West. Most of the devices use Bluetooth to trigger the camera shutter and actually take the shot, which wouldn't be much of a problem - unless there were huge numbers of them in use. In South Korea, the problem is that the sticks are so popular that they are being bootstrapped together by vendors who don't register them with the local broadcasting authority, the equivalent of running around downtown London with an unlicensed radio station transmitter in the back of a van - pirate radio, bluetooth style.

Will they catch on here? Keep your eye out this summer to find out. 

Posted on January 21st 2015 on 04:57pm

Friday 16th January 2015Artist Spotlight: Alex Grey

If you're familiar with the progressive/art-rock band Tool, you're probably familiar with the work of Alex Grey. His artwork has adorned many of their latest albums, and this helped to widely popularize his work among a certain generation. A remarkably unique contemporary artist, his style is incredibly intricate and detailed, often incorporating repetitive fractal geometries and the human form.

While Grey works in a number of media, his primary focus is on painting, and he has created an impressively large body of work. The underlying themes tend to be extremely gentle, caring, and uplifting, which is a refreshing change from we see so much of today. The New York Times said, "Grey’s vision of a flawed but perfectible mankind stands as an antidote to the cynicism and spiritual malaise prevalent in much contemporary art," and they are exactly correct.

To be fair, there is a certain amount of hippie-drug-culture-age-of-aquarius-flakiness involved as well, but it's hard to find much fault with that when the underlying message is so overwhelming positive. It may not be for everyone, but it's nice to know they're out there.

“My art has always been in response to visions. Rather than confine myself to representations of the outer worlds, I include portrayals of multi-dimensional imaginal realms that pull us towards consciousness evolution.”

Some of the most exciting contemporary artwork is being done by people who are willing to be completely open and honest about their love of humanity, reality, and the world itself, and it makes the art world's currently fashionable ironic cynicism feel hollow and disgusting. The fact that Grey has wound up his art almost entirely as an extension of his philosophies about the universe, the nature of reality and the value of mystical experience communicates the genuine nature of his convictions, something that has been lacking in the art world for far, far too long.

As the generation of artists, thinkers and philosophers who have been influenced by his work and his ideas, hopefully it will coincide with a backlash against the frustratingly apathetic cynicism that postmodernism has gifted us with, and that has gripped us all for too long. It's still useful, of course - but as in all things, balance is the most important. 

Posted on January 16th 2015 on 04:44pm

Wednesday 14th January 2015An Earlier Mona Lisa?

Whenever you start putting extremely high price tags on certain items, no matter what they are - ideas, types of metal, or old paintings - you're probably going to start seeing people creating fakes and forgeries. Impossible patents for processes that could never work, gold tainted with baser metals, or even... a brand new Mona Lisa?

A rather startling claim has been circulating for the last several years, one that might completely change the perspective of the world - at least, assuming it isn't exposed as a forgery. The claim is that before Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, one of his masterworks which hangs in the Louvre in Paris, he had already made at least one earlier painting of the same woman in the exact same pose - in effect, an earlier version of the iconic painting. The subject appears to be younger, and to some observers, more attractive, but it is doubtless intended to be the same woman.

Originally discovered in 1913 in a British manor house, the contested painting has been championed by the Mona Lisa Foundation, a non-profit which has given it full support on behalf of the owners of the painting itself. Nothing is known about what stake the foundation may or may not have in the sale of the painting, but they are aggressively promoting its veracity - albeit with little success in the art world, despite three solid years of campaigning on its behalf.

As strange as it may seem to those of us with a more cynical perspective on the human attitude towards value, there is some popular support of the veracity of the painting, although the experts remain extremely skeptical, to put it mildly. "I do not know of any major Leonardo scholar who has definitely accepted it," Martin Kemp, an Oxford art history professor said of the piece.

Its supporters, on the other hand, point the finger at orthodox narratives and doctrines, and the weight of reputations that stand to be ruined if the contested painting is accepted as genuine. David Feldman, vice-president of the Mona Lisa Foundation, said, "There is no easy way to get recognition and acceptance from the art world, particularly when connoisseurship in the traditional way is being challenged."

Posted on January 14th 2015 on 04:23pm
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