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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.

Wednesday 03rd August 2016Do You Look Like Van Gogh?

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most famous painters of all time, and certainly the most famous Impressionist painter. While there is a great deal of controversy over whether or not he was ever photographed, he painted a number of self-portraits that have left us with little doubt about what he looked like.

Aside from the infamous missing ear, probably the most recognizable thing about him is his vivid red hair and haunting (or perhaps haunted) stare. If you have these qualities, albeit with both ears still attached, you may find yourself being rewarded and part of a new art project at the same time.

Canadian author and artist Douglas Coupland is on the hunt for Van Gogh lookalikes from around the world. He's hoping to create a sculpture of the famous artist, and is offering a prize of 5000 euros to the luckiest Van Gogh lookalike.

“I’m learning that most people have someone in their life who looks like Vincent van Gogh. It could be your next-door neighbour. It could be a guy at work. It could be you.” This writer can't think of anyone he knows who looks like Van Gogh, but perhaps that's the exception that proves the rule.

Coupland has set up a website,, where people from all around the world can submit their images of friends, neighbours, co-workers or themselves to be judged in the lookalike competition. The lucky winner will receive the 5000 euro prize and be flown along with a friend to Vancouver, Canada, where Coupland is based. They will then be scanned in 3D in order to create a detailed model of the Van Gogh replica.

The final output will then be converted into a bronze statue, which Coupland hopes will be the first of many. It's somewhat amusing to consider that the genetics of red-haired people is one of the driving fascinations behind the piece for Coupland, but nobody will be expecting a bronze statue to have the particularly red hair that is one of Van Gogh's signature features.

One wonders if the actor who played Van Gogh in an episode of Doctor Who, Tony Curran, will be entering the competition - he's almost a perfect replica of Van Gogh. It's almost eerie!

Posted on August 03rd 2016 on 06:47pm

Wednesday 27th July 2016Artist Spotlight: Joshua Miels

On today's edition of Artist Spotlight, we're going to take a look at the work on an up and coming young portrait artist named Joshua Miels. Joshua, or Josh as he prefers to be called, works primarily in oil paint in an impasto style, building up layers and layers of paint over a great deal of time.

His work focuses primarily on faces in almost garish hues, but there is something remarkably appealing about his portraits despite their relative lack of a powerful emotion. When contrasted with many other portrait artists, his work seems almost undirected and unfocused, but this is arguably the entire point.

As he explains on his website, "Through my portraits I aim to express the ambiguity of psychical emotion by limiting what feelings my subjects portray. These large-scale paintings of males, most of who I know personally appear somewhat nonchalant. Unable to immediately relate with direct human emotions, viewers look past what they see at face-value, prompting people to question the real individual. "

Whether or not you buy this particular rationale, there's no denying the raw talent that he has when it comes to his use of colour and texture in his work. The texture is developed using the impasto technique, a word from Italian meaning dough, which is immediately apparent when you see the extremely thick quality of the paint that is used - it really can seem like working with dough.

Miels uses this technique to great effect throughout his work, and it's very interesting to see the progression of his style over the last couple of years. You can visit his website at to see more of his work, and to decide for yourself how you feel about his interpretation of the male emotional world.

If you're in the market for purchasing work by a contemporary living and practicing artist instead of a piece done by someone long dead, you can swing by his website to order works directly from him. This is a remarkable testament to the equalizing power of the internet, where artists no longer depend on a gallery to sell themselves but can appeal directly to the consumer with some clever marketing.

After all, that's what Gallereo is all about, isn't it? Enjoy!

Posted on July 27th 2016 on 09:54pm

Friday 22nd July 2016Hitchhiking Around Colorado

We admit it - we have a (quite possibly unwholesome) fascination with actor Shia LaBeouf's desire to transition from the world of Hollywood movies to that of a serious artist. It's been a fairly rocky road so far, as we've discussed several times in our coverage of his past projects, but you cannot fault the guy for his tenacity.

His latest project is another performance installation piece, in a sense, one that was commissioned by the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in Colorado, and the Finnish Institute in London. Titled 'Take Me Anywhere', LaBeouf and two of the other artists in his artist collective have agreed to tweet their locations at noon, somewhere in Colorado. Whoever arrives first at that location can pick them up and drive them anywhere, as the name would suggest.

It's a vaguely intriguing project, although it's sort of equally vague about what they hope to achieve. Ostensibly, the goal is to explore the possibility of human corruption, although it's hard to imagine them actually coming into physical danger, despite what Hollywood and the media would have us believe.

"They opening themselves up to goodness or possibly the corrupt nature. It's about openness and exploration and connecting to people," explains the director of the festival, Nicole Dial-Kay.

"We want this to be a really organic process where things can happen," she said. "We don't want to put any limits on what might happen, because it may stop something wonderful from happening."

It's hard not to wonder what this project would be like if LaBeouf weren't involved, because his recognizability from numerous films would be quite likely to alter the public's perception of the work. Even some villain with nefarious plans would likely think twice about kidnapping a famous actor - unless, of course, they weren't a fan of his movies.

Conversely, it's possible that someone would go out of their way to target him for the same reason.

If you remember recently there was another similar art project where a hitchhiking robot was designed and managed to get transported all the way across the United States before finally being destroyed in Philadelphia (way to go, jerks). Hopefully, LaBeouf and his colleagues won't find themselves in a similar situation - or, for that matter, in Philadelphia.

Posted on July 22nd 2016 on 06:13pm

Wednesday 20th July 2016Will Magenta Make 'Art'?

One of our favourite topics here is the development of artificial intelligence and whether or not a machine can be taught to be creative. We've looked in detail at the infamous Deep Dream project by Google, which uses a neural feedback loop to generate images, and how it can be manipulated by conscious human artists to create incredible images.

But what about the next step forwards? If it's possible for an adaptive neural network to 'learn' how to create images, can it be taught how to create other forms of art? If so, is it technically being 'creative', or is it just regurgitating all of what it has been fed?

The real question is whether or not that's really any different than what we human artists do, those of us who are (usually) generally accepted as having a creative talent. Are we driven purely by everything that we have experienced or is there some innate spark of creativity, a unique genesis within us that allows us to truly create new things?

Google has launched a new machine learning project named Magenta with the hopes of exploring the possibilities of a creative machine. So far, a number of researchers have joined the project, and some interesting work is already being done.

Douglas Eck, one of the researchers currently attached to the Magenta project, explains his curiosity about machine learning on his Google bio page: "Hypothetically, if we showed a piano-playing robot a huge collection of Chopin performances--- from the best in the world all the way down to that of a struggling teenage pianist---could it learn to play well by analyzing all of these examples? If so, what’s the right way to perform that analysis? In the end I learned a lot about the complexity and beauty of human music performance, and how performance relates to and extends composition."

During a recent panel at the Moogfest music festival, he commented, "There's a couple of things that got me wanting to form Magenta, and one of them was seeing the completely, frankly, astonishing improvements in the state of the art. And I wanted to demystify this a little bit."

No matter what the results wind up being, it's an exciting time to be an artist! The nature of creativity has long been one of the most appealing human mysteries, and the ability to teach a computer the concept of creativity is truly amazing. 

Posted on July 20th 2016 on 08:32pm

Friday 15th July 2016The Best Free Stock Photo Sites

Ah, the stock photo. The very name probably conjures up hilariously bad images of business executives in meetings with clients or some other such nonsense, and rightly so. The classic stock photo is sort of a joke in most design circles by now, and even reached a point where actor Vince Vaughn and his co-stars for the movie Unfinished Business conducted a photo shoot sending up the traditional business settings you find in such photos.

So what are the alternatives? Fortunately as a result of the backlash against these junky stock photos, a number of sites have sprung up with the goal of redefining what 'stock photo' means. We've combed through the web for some of the best stock photo sites. The only thing that's better is that they're all free!

Morguefile is one of the older free stock photo sites, and it has a very eclectic collection that may not always have what you need but it's always worth a look. Despite the seemingly gruesome name, it's actually named after the files kept by oldschool photojournalists of all the images they didn't use previously. Visit it here at and see for yourself!

FreeImages, formerly known as the StockxChange, is also an old site with a great collection of images. Just be careful that you don't accidentally choose one of the paid images, as they integrate them into their search results to gain affiliate commissions. See the options here at

Those are great choices if you're looking for something that is a bit more traditional, but if you want to take things to the next level there are a number of other free sites available.

One of our personal favourites is Death to the Stock Photo, partly because of the great name and partly because they have some amazing images that are all free to use. Visit it here at If you sign up for their newsletter, they'll mail you regularly with new images, and they have a paid option as well if you don't have time to wait.

Another great option is Unsplash, which has a large collection of images and is actually entirely free. It's a bit harder to find exactly what you want, because all tagging is done by the photographers who upload their own images, but you can find some incredible gems in there as well. Check it out at

Last but not least, there is the excellent PicJumbo. This site walks the fine line between high-concept stuff like Unsplash and the more traditional stock photo sites, but there are some amazing images available for free (and some available for purchase if needed). Check it out at - just don't use an Adblocker!

Posted on July 15th 2016 on 08:19pm

Wednesday 13th July 2016GooglexKoons Collaboration Underwhelms

At the outset, it's probably important to say that I've never been a particular fan of the work of Jeff Koons. It's hard to pin down exactly what it is that bothers me about him specifically, but there's something there, a thread winding its way through all my perceptions of his work and poisoning them. Hopefully that isn't (just) what's happening here, but I'll let you be the judge of that.

Koons' latest piece is a distinct departure from his previous works, both in terms of medium and of content. It features video, dance and … a product. A cheap product. A cheap phone case. Right now, you're asking yourself…. 'What?'

Google wanted to unveil a new product, the 'Live' phone case for their latest flagship smartphone, known as the Nexus. It's not a bad idea, in and of itself, since they can be completely customised to whatever you desire for a grand total of $40 USD, which is pretty decent for a custom phone case. The case comes paired with matching live video wallpaper that you can only view on the phone when you're using it with that particular live case.

Say, for example, you had a video of your baby's first birthday or a kitten playing with a puppy, you could make a case that was adorned with a still frame from the video and then the video itself would play in the background when the case was attached. Not particularly innovative, perhaps, but it could be an interesting way of passing on videos. The part where it all breaks down is why they chose to launch it with artworks by Koons.

Some of the selections shown in the post image above are fairly appealing, but in general, the piece sort of falls flat. You could argue that this is because it was Koons' first experimentation with video, but that hardly seems fair considering that this is really a Google product launch and Koons is more of a prop than an integral part. It consists of a re-imagination of the ballet Swan Lake, performed with a classic Koons reflective object - in this case, a giant sphere like a medicine ball - which sort of destroys the entire point of Swan Lake.

Ah well, perhaps nobody would even have noticed that Koons was involved if it was just a typical product launch.

Posted on July 13th 2016 on 09:08pm

Friday 08th July 2016Kusama Boosts Your Airbnb

If you're unaware of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, you may have been living under a rock for the last 50 years - or perhaps your artist awakening took place during a very few specific years when her practice had quieted down quite a bit (or maybe you're just not a particular fan of polka dots and you've repressed everything about them). She's the venerable queen of all things spotted, and has had an impressively long career, as we explored in an Artist Spotlight piece on her quite a while ago.

As her visibility ramps back up again, she's currently working in a partnership with the (in)famous disruptive hotel startup Airbnb and the Tate Modern Britain. For those of you unaware of it, Airbnb is a startup company that allows average people to rent out their spare rooms or spare homes/cottages using their website. It's totally shaken up the hotel industry and inspired a number of people to leverage the new system in brand new ways.

Of course, part of that means that there is a great deal of competition in the more popular areas of the world, including London, Paris and New York. Needless to say, it's always nice to have an edge over the competition, whether it's better amenities for your guests or proximity to popular locales, but there are few things that can top having your rental rooms decorated by a famous artist.

That's exactly what the partnership is putting together, and the decisions are going to made via a lottery-type contest conducted by the Tate Modern Britain. Unfortunately for all those of you just reading about it now the contest closed on May 10th, 2016, but it will still be fascinating to see the results of her work (not to mention how much the lucky winner decides to charge for sleeping inside a work of art).

It turns the whole notion of a 'boutique hotel' on its head, considering the fact that some of Kusama's work has sold at auction for millions of dollars US. If you're living in London, expect to see an especially incredible listing popping up somewhere on Airbnb in the next few months, although there is no word on when the project is due to be completed.

Posted on July 08th 2016 on 08:43pm

Wednesday 06th July 2016Artist Spotlight: Wolfgang Buttress' Hive

Bees have been in the news quite a lot lately thanks to the trials and tribulations that they've been forced to undergo lately at the hands of pesticides and other issues that cause colony collapse disorder. They rarely tend to get mentioned in the art world news, however, regardless of their complicated language of dancing and their sommelier-like honey-making abilities.

That's all changed now, thanks to the British installation artist Wolfgang Buttress and his latest piece, entitled Hive (shown above, courtesy of Jeff Eden/RBG Kew).

The piece is located in London, in the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, close to where it's bee masters are. The piece is a whopping 17 meters tall and was constructed out of 170,000 pieces of aluminum that are suspended in a massive framework. Dotted throughout the framework are speakers and LED lights which respond to the movements and communications of the bees located in the control hive, elsewhere in the Royal Botanical Gardens.

“My approach to a sculpture seeks to frame nature so one can experience it more intimately. I want visitors to feel enveloped, wrapped-up and involved in the experience, rather than adopting the position of an external observer," explains Buttress.

Visitors can walk into the center of the structure and gain a sense of the tremendous complexity of what's happening inside the control hive, although perhaps 'control' isn't exactly the right word for what's happening. It's more of a reactive sculpture, but it also has an interesting scientific component that catapaults it from the cool to the useful, thanks to the pioneering work in the field of honeybee communication by Martin Bencsik at Nottingham Trent University.
“I opened a bee hive for the first time two years ago and it gave me a different outlook on life and how humans are connected to nature. We are in danger of losing that vitally important connection, especially in cities.”

An admirable sentiment, and one that will hopefully be echoed in other public works that seek to rebuild our connection to the natural world. We've isolated ourselves from the natural world quite thoroughly in the center of a city, and in some ways that's a wise choice, but in many profound ways it can be more damaging than it's worth.

Posted on July 06th 2016 on 07:57pm

Friday 01st July 2016Auction Houses and Millennial Artists

Millennials tend to have it rough when it comes to dealing with the established world. It could be argued that this is a universal trend experienced by all new "labelled" generations, but the art world is an example that seems to be oddly resistant to the fresh and the new.

Did that incense you? Good, because it is not really quite accurate. It's not the art world in its entirety that resists the millennial generation, but rather it seems to be the institutions that grant the final seal of approval that are resisting.

Those venerable arbiters of value and worth, the auction houses, are those who seem intent on snubbing the millennial generation. It would be an interesting comparison to see if this trend was paralleled by a similar disdain for the previous generations of new artists as they developed, but unfortunately that degree of research is out of the scope of this particular post.

Nevertheless, the data doesn't lie. In May, when the major auction houses such as Christie's, Sotheby's and so on stage their major spring sales, there was a strange absence of young modern artists. Not a complete absence, but one of that certainly could give rise to a bit of curiosity about the choices.

Charlie Moffat Jr. is the contemporary art specialist for Sotheby's and he explains some of the issue. "We've seen a lot of work produced by a lot of artists in a short period of time, [and so] we've seen an edited market for young artists."

This is certainly plausible on the face of it, and it's probably still a bit of a shock for those used to seeing everything from the paintings of old masters to some of the horrors of 90's contemporary art to suddenly be forced to come to terms with an entirely different (and primarily digital) paradigm.

Unfortunately, though, one wonders how much longer the auction house will be the arbiter of value and worth, as we mentioned earlier. Part of the digital revolution is the annihilation of the original, and that makes it a little more difficult to pin down the value of a work.

Posted on July 01st 2016 on 07:43pm

Friday 24th June 2016Antiques Roadshow Hilarity

Antiques Roadshow is a rather hilarious television show in general, even if it's unintentional. On the surface it sounds incredibly dull, but there is something almost ineffable about the show that makes it withstand the test of time, and since its 1979 start on the BBC, it's since spread to multiple countries and inspired an American spinoff version which started in 1997.

It's the American version that's got the art world rolling on the floor laughing lately, however - and not at the naivete of one of the show's subjects or the extremity of their reactions. Instead, it's one of the experts who is behind everything.

In an episode that aired recently centered around Spokane, Washington on the west coast, appraiser Stephen Fletcher was presented with a strange jug covered in screaming faces. The piece had been found at an estate sale in Eugene, Oregon by Alvin Barr, and Fletcher compared the piece to work by Pablo Picasso and estimated its origin date as somewhere in the 19th century.

Unfortunately for him, someone watching the show recognized the work as that of a high school classmate named Betsy Soule of Oregon - from 1973. Not exactly the work of Picasso!

Soule gave an interview with the Bend Bulletin, the Oregon newspaper in her hometown. “I was just a really passionate, artistic kid. I don’t know where those faces came from; they just came roaring out of me on to those pots.”

Interestingly enough, the Antiques Roadshow program page on the PBS website revised its estimate of the worth of the piece downwards dramatically, but still left it at somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 USD, which is rather amazing for a high school art project regardless.

Fletcher corrected himself in a statement saying, “This example, with its six grotesque faces, was modeled or sculpted with considerable imagination, virtuosity and technical competence. Obviously, I was mistaken as to its age by 60 to 80 years. I feel the value at auction, based on its quality and artistic merit, is in the $3,000-$5,000 range. Still not bad for a high schooler in Oregon.”

If only we'd kept more of our own school projects, who knows what they might be worth nowadays. Either way, it's moments like this that make the Antiques Roadshow program a hilarious watch, even if it's rather rare that an appraiser finds something quite so unusual. No wonder it's been on forever!

Posted on June 24th 2016 on 08:26pm
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