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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 09th January 2015The Death of the Compact Camera

Much has been made of the rise of cellphone cameras and mobile photography in general over the past few years. First, with skepticism and thinly-veiled mockery, and gradually with growing interest and even some semi-respectable gallery shows (though a few less-than-respectable ones, included a curated selection of Instagram photos that weren't even taken by the artist which is of dubious artistic merit). Finally, though, we're starting to see the end result of this process, something that probably hadn't occurred to most of us - at least, most of us who don't manufacture cameras: the death of the compact camera.

The compact camera has a long and storied history, dating back to the early 1900s and the Eastman-Kodak Company. With what was arguably the first 'compact' camera, the Brownie, Eastman-Kodak completely revolutionized the field of photography, and created the concept of the snapshot. Instead of being complicated devices that could only be operated by professionals dedicated to their craft, the camera and photography itself was suddenly within the reach of the average person. This set off a massive demand for the little cameras, and the Brownie continued to sell for decades, although it was of course gradually improved as the technology advanced.

Cellphone cameras have taken that to the next level, however, and completely removed the need for a separate camera unit. Gone are the days of grainy, single megapixel (or less!) cameras that were more of a novelty than an actually usable product. Instead, we're faced with cellphone cameras that have megapixel counts rivalling that of most compact cameras, and in some cases, some of the entry level and semi-professional digital SLR cameras as well. The only thing that's really lacking in the cellphone camera market is the lenses, although various third-party aftermarket lenses can be purchased by anyone looking to improve this side of things. The downside, of course, is that at some point, the light still has to pass through the built-in lens, generally to poor effect.

What this all means, though, is that the compact camera is essentially on its way out. Sales in 2014 were the worst in many years, and this trend is likely to continue as cellphone manufacturers continue to push the envelope when it comes to their cameras, as they do with all elements of smartphones. It seems likely, though, that the only people who have a problem with this are the camera manufacturers themselves. Maybe we'll see a Canon- or Nikon-branded phone sometime soon - that'd be a treat. 

Posted on January 09th 2015 on 05:13pm

Wednesday 07th January 2015A New Year for New Inspiration

Finding inspiration for your artwork can sometimes be the biggest challenge. That's why it's such a frequent topic here, and something that everyone - yes, literally everyone - in the artistic community struggles with at one time or another. Something that truly motivates you, that gives you the passion and power to create beauty in the world, is a glorious and wondrous thing - but it can also be elusive, and extremely frustrating when it stays just out of reach.

Every experience we have in the world is an opportunity for inspiration, even if it may not seem like it when you're in the depths of a dry spell. Remembering this fact, most particularly when it seems untrue, is the key element in turning things around and getting back your creative muse or mojo or groove or whatever. There is a certain mindset, a kind of lightness of being, for lack of a better term, that seems to take over when we look at things in the right way, and it's possible to induce that mindset in yourself (though it can take a little work).

Everything you do - everything - is potential fodder for artwork, if you look at it in the right way. One of the things that makes us excellent creative types is our ability to bring together disparate elements into that fusion of joy we call creativity, and in order to do that, we have to be willing to look at everything in the world in a new way. When you drink your coffee, look at the patterns of volatile oils on the surface and think about everything that went into bringing them there. On the way to work, zoom out and think about the massive number of interactions happening on the single city block around you. When you relax after a long day in the studio, feel your blood pumping through your veins like you did when you were a child. See your nose in the middle of your vision. Touch the barest fingertip to something. Anything. Just focus on the experience, and not on the end result.

Let this new year be the start of your inspirational mindset adventure. Try to look at the world in a new way, down to the smallest detail, and let the flood of new information set your neurons alight with new connections and new ideas - and most of all, with new beauty to share. 

Posted on January 07th 2015 on 05:00pm

Friday 02nd January 2015George W. Bush, Artist, We Hardly Knew Ye

To kick off the year on a bit of a light-hearted note, let's take a look at the retired life of one of America's most polarizing presidents, George W. Bush. We can hear you now, asking, "Wait a second, isn't this an art blog?" Bear with us here for a second, and all will become clear.

GWB was leading a quiet, retired life on a ranch somewhere in Texas, when he was the victim of a hacking attack that shared what turned out to be one of the most surprising releases of private information. Thankfully for everyone involved, it wasn't nude selfies, but rather the former President's struggling first attempts at painting. Painting, of all things. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he showed about as much flair for the craft of painting as he did for foreign policy, and yet being a former president, his work was much gawked over and speculated about.

However, recently, he gave some advice to aspiring artists that is actually worth listening to, however surprising that may be. During an interview with CNN's State of the Union program, he talked briefly about his budding art career, and casually dropped this little nugget of wisdom: "Never paint your wife or your mother." Apparently, he had painted a photo of his wife, Laura, and she was less than pleased with the result. For those among you who are experimenting with new styles, media, or just learning to draw at all, it's best to save the ones you love as subjects for later.

As for the rest of his career, Bush had his first solo show in early 2014, although it was hosted at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas, so nobody is really too sure if they wanted it or if they were contractually obligated to show it. No statistics about the show's success or popularity were made available, though, if that gives any indication as it to it's value.

"I was trying to be like a Polaroid camera. I'm learning ... how to work colors, to get a different feel. I don't know what I'd be doing -- I don't drink anymore. I guess if I were a drinker, I'd be up there drinking away. Now I'm painting away."

Posted on January 02nd 2015 on 04:30pm

Wednesday 31st December 2014Farewell to 2014!

What a year! 2014 is drawing to a close, which makes it the perfect time to look back at everything that's happened to us in the past 365 rotations of the earth. On our end of things, the Gallereo site got a fresh new look and the community expanded greatly, but this is a time to look back at your own creative successes (and, let's be honest, maybe the occasional failure) so that you can start to make some vague plans at where the next beautiful 365 rotations of the earth (aka 'days' ;-) ) will take you.

Hopefully, the last year was one of creative fulfilment and success for you! Whether you took your first steps into the wider world of the arts, capped off a fantastic career or are just beginning to make a name for yourself, life in the art world is an emotional rollercoaster ride that we certainly wouldn't want to have any other way. Things don't always go our own way, but every experience can help drive the passions and perspectives that make our artistic expressions unique, valuable, and beautiful.

If things didn't go quite that well for you, now's a great chance to rest up, recharge, and gear up for another kick at the artistic can. Think about new directions to take your artistic endeavours, and new ways to achieve your creative goals. New years can help make meaningful fresh starts, and are great times of rebirth and reinvention. If you're feeling a bit stuck, why not take a trip back through the last year of the Gallereo blog for some new inspiration? We've covered tons of artists that might provide you with some new perspectives, and we're beginning a brand new section on project inspiration that will hopefully keep you on your creative toes in the upcoming year.

Most importantly of all, though, it's important to simply remember that being alive and doing what we love is one of the greatest ways to muddle through this funny old thing called life. Whether success is yours or something you're striving for, artistic expression is one of the most enjoyable ways to create. So with that, let us say, "Farewell to 2014!", and here's to a great 2015 for everyone!

Posted on December 31st 2014 on 03:01pm

Friday 26th December 2014Artist Spotlight: Peter Lik

Recently, Peter Lik captured the world's attention with the sale of his photograph, Phantom, for an astonishing $6.5 million dollars, easily making it the most expensive photograph ever sold. This wasn't Lik's first foray into incredibly expensive photography sales, but it definitely set the bar higher for every other photographer in the world. Before this new record, however, he has had a long and distinguished careeer as a landscape photographer, among other things (such as, incredibly enough, hosting a television show on the American TV channel 'The Weather Network', entitled 'The Edge with Peter Lik', their first-ever original television show).

Lik began his explorations in photography at the tender age of 8, when his parents gave him a Kodak Brownie camera, which as those of you interested in photography will know, was one of the first truly portable snapshot cameras, and was a wild success, being in production for something over 50 years.

His first high-ticket sale was the photograph entitled 'One', which, as the name suggests, will only ever be printed once, helping to ensure that the $1 million USD paid by an anonymous buyer will be an investment well made. The photograph depicts the Androscoggin River in New Hampshire, USA.  

His production and printing processes are very specific, and tend to make up the large difference between what you or I might be able to produce with our natty little DSLRs and something that becomes worth $6.5 million. The majority of his work is shot using large format cameras, which dramatically increased the quality of the resulting image, and when he makes prints, they are printed on a high-quality FujiFlex silver halide emulsion, which can increase the sense that they have a kind of light-emitting glow.

This is all incredible enough, but it becomes even more impressive when you learn that Lik is entirely self-taught as a photographer. New York School of Photography, eat your heart out. He's a testament to the fact that passion is a more effective driving force for knowledge and learning than any schooling can be, and that the most important thing you need to succeed in your own artwork is a powerful passion and determination to continue refining your technique.

Posted on December 26th 2014 on 05:27pm

Monday 22nd December 2014Cezanne Sold for $100 Million USD

We talk about art sales a lot. Maybe we're a bit biased since we're Gallereo, and we're trying to help you sell your work, but there is something intrinsically fascinating about seeing massive price tags on works of art. It's hard to say if it's simply that the numbers tend to be so large as to be generally outside the scope of easy comprehension (when was the last time you saw 100 million of anything and were able to fit that number comfortably in your mind?), or sheer bewildered avarice, but these numbers capture the imagination and attention like nothing else.

Cezanne, quite naturally, is one of the most famous of the European painters from the last millenium. That reputation has now been further cemented by the sale of one of his paintings by the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House for the astonishing figure of $100 million USD, which places it on the list of the most 15 expensive paintings ever sold. "La Montagne Sainte-Victoire vue du bosquet du Château Noir," which was painted in 1904, features the Ste. Victoire Mountain, one of Cezanne's favourite subjects. The buyer has remained anonymous.

The most curious element about this sale, however, isn't the astonishing pricetag or the buyer's anonymity, but rather the fact that the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House didn't really need to sell it. They were in no particular financial difficulties, they simply wanted to create an endowment to ensure that they would be able to maintain the house and grounds itself. The house, for those unfamiliar with it, isn't technically a museum, but rather a historical house, and so has much less rigorous rules about divesting itself of elements of its collection. Visitors to the house, however, have expressed some major misgivings and disappointment about the sale, which has lost one of the most famous paintings in the house's collection.

The sale was brokered after three unsolicited attempts by the buyer - making it seem, in effect, that those in charge of the home simply couldn't handle having those dollar bills dangled in their faces. The house currently has an $86 million dollar operations endowment in addition to the new endowment created by the sale, making it seem like little more than a cash grab that cost the collection one of its most important pieces - quite a shame.

Posted on December 22nd 2014 on 05:07pm

Friday 19th December 2014All Time Auction Records

Just when you think the art market can't get even more incredibly rich, it does. Despite many predictions that the current auction sale bubble is going to burst, sending all those multimillionaires and billionaires into tears as the value of their precious art collections crumble, the market just keeps getting stronger and stronger. Of course, that's always how things look before a bubble burst, but after the recent contemporary art auction held by Christie's, it's clearly not quite ready to burst just yet.

Only a few days previously, Sotheby's, the primary competitor in auctioneering to Christie's, set a respectable mark at just shy of $344 million USD for contemporary art, including $36 million for a new Jasper Johns record sale price for Flag (1983). Christie's, however, completely blew that figure out of the water with a truly staggering $852.9 million USD mark, spaced across 75 lots.

Figures like these make the working artists among us cringe and salivate at the same time, wishing our pieces would sell for such ridiculously high sums, and bemoaning the fact that the artists never see a penny of these incredible amounts. They do, however, also point out the fact that the art auction market is almost wildly divergent from the actual art world itself, the one where creation and appreciation of art is important for an emotional reason rather than a financial one.

The dealers and speculators who buy and sell works at these prices aren't really buying and selling art in the way that most of us mere mortals think about it, they're effectively trading stock. They don't buy pieces because they appreciate their beauty, or because they like the artist, or because they like the way it makes them feel. They don't even purchase them because they're fashionable - they purchase them because they expect to be able to turn them around in a few years and sell them for even more money. It's not about the art, it's about the perception of value.

So next time you see a multi-million dollar price tag, don't despair - remember that they might as well be cowrie shells, pieces of petrified elephant feces, or anything else that everyone simply agrees has value. It doesn't necessarily make them any good.

Posted on December 19th 2014 on 06:42pm

Wednesday 17th December 2014Mobile Phone Lenses

It might come as something of a surprise to the more traditionally-minded artists out there, but one of the most rapidly growing areas of art is mobile phone photography. Hard to believe, I know, but as the technology improves much more rapidly than it does in DSLR cameras, this growing sector is likely to continue expanding. I'm not talking about Instagram selfies or disgustingly filtered images of people's food, but rather completely serious photography - after all, sometimes the best camera for the job is the one you have with you at all times.

Now, once you're done laughing up your sleeve (half of me is right there with you, but the other half is curious), let's take a look at some of the ways that mobile phone cameras are stepping up their game in order to actually become real imaging devices in their own right.

The primary issue with most phone cameras isn't the megapixel count anymore, as sensors are incredibly advanced and cramming a 20 megapixel sensor into a phone isn't completely unheard of. Where these cameras tend to hit trouble, naturally, is the lens. There's an old saying that your photo is only as good as your lens, not your camera, and it's never more true than on a mobile phone that uses a bead of plastic as a lens.

However, thanks to the rising interest in mobile phone photography, a number of aftermarket add-on lenses have come out in recent years that fit almost any make and model of phone that you care to name. Many - maybe even most - of these lenses are available for under $100 USD, which obviously doesn't put them in the same league as any kind of professional DSLR lens, but can still be a dramatic improvement over the lens on your smartphone.

Generally, these lenses aren't classed as specifically as professional lenses, and instead of being sold by the focal length, they're usually simply classed as macro, wide angle and telephoto, but for the price point they're a fun gadget to experiment with, without having to break the bank on professional quality lenses. Even if you're a professional photographer, you might want to try swallowing your pride and seeing what new worlds you might explore with these unassuming little lenses.

Posted on December 17th 2014 on 05:04pm

Friday 12th December 2014Project Inspiration: Winter Macros

Winter can be a tough time for photographers. If you're used to working in a studio, then you might not even notice the temperature dropping outside, but if you're used to working outside of a studio environment, things can be much more difficult for you. As if humidity and temperature changes wreaking havoc on your camera gear wasn't bad enough, you've got frostbite to contend with as well! But if you bundle up properly, winter can offer a whole new range of special photography projects.

While you can see some truly stunning ice-covered landscapes and some equally evocative street photography if you manage to show up on the right day, one of our favourite winter photography tools is the macro lens. Everyone loves a snowflake, right? But once you've spent an hour or two photographing snowflakes, you start to see a bit of monotony - so let's take things to the next level. If you're just interested in the snowflakes, take some nice black paper, crushed velvet, felt - or even a black microfibre lens cleaning cloth - and let it cool down to match the ambient temperature, catch snowflakes on it, and snap away! That's all there is to it.

For something a little more advanced, however, we're going to need some supplies. If you've got kids, you've probably already got all the tools for blowing soap bubbles, but you can fake up some with a bit of wire and some dish soap if necessary. The key to this project is that the ambient temperature outside should be well below freezing. Take your soap mixture and bubble blower outside, and half-inflate a soap bubble, so that it forms a nice sphere but is still attached to the holder. If it's cold enough, the soap will freeze, and you'll wind up with a beautiful iridescent sphere that presents some beautiful macro opportunities.

If you're feeling extra ambitious, play around with the ratios of the soap and water mixture to find the best possible patterns, and consider using drops of food colouring or coloured light gels to adjust the final shots that you produce. If you get into the project, you probably won't even notice how cold it is! Just remember to keep tabs on your fingertips, since you can't click the shutter with frostbite!

Posted on December 12th 2014 on 04:50pm

Wednesday 10th December 2014The 6.5 Million Dollar Photo

The world of art over the course of the last century or so is often told in the impressive sums of money that various pieces achieve at auction. Whether tens of thousands or hundreds of millions, the intrinsic value of the work itself rarely rates so high, but the perceived value can put sale prices into the stratosphere and beyond. As talk goes on about the potential of a bubble in the current art market, and many shakeups happen in the traditional buying patterns as the newly wealthy of developing nations enter the marketplace, this frenzy of high-ticket auction sales has touched almost every area of the art world, with one notable exception: photography. At least, until recently.

Typically, the biggest sale prices are awarded to the paintings of European old masters, but they rarely change hands nowadays. Sculptures also often command high prices, but photography has been left largely out of the big leagues when it comes to pricing. Perhaps this is due to the ease of reproduction - it's hard to be entirely sure that you're buying a singular, unique object, after all, and digital photography has made this even more true that it ever has been before.

It's remarkable, therefore, to see the truly eye-popping figure of $6.5 million USD attached to a photo, as in the case of 'Phantom', by Peter Lik, (shown above, all credit to Lik, of course), which was sold in early December. The piece is ethereal and atmospheric, shot in what looks like a sandstone cave. Lik is naturally a bit coy about where exactly it was taken, as numerous other photographers have attempted to recreate the image. The most he'll say about it is that it was shot in the Southwestern United States, which appears consistent with the type of rock formation shown.

According to the press release published on PRNewsWire, “The purchase also included Lik’s masterworks “Illusion” for $2.4 million and “Eternal Moods” for $1.1 million.  With this $10 million sale, Lik now holds four of the top 20 spots for most expensive photographs ever sold.  He already has a position in the ranking with a previous $1 million sale of famed image, “One.”

From a technical standpoint, the image is quite remarkable, as it features a very high dynamic range in black and white, but the actual aesthetic quality of the piece is also quite moving.

Posted on December 10th 2014 on 06:32pm
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