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Friday 31st October 2014Museum Hack: The Non-Tour Tour

As surprising as it may be for those of us in the art world to believe, there is a type of person out there who doesn't appreciate museums and galleries, and doesn't understand why they're enjoyable. Sounds almost impossible, right? But there are a huge number of them out there, and they are finally about to get their first chance to really change their minds. At least, if they are in New York City and are considering visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met as it is affectionately known by those of us who already appreciate it. A new start up named Museum Hack is attempted to shift the hearts and minds of those who see museums as dull, boring places with a set of tours specifically designed for the recalcitrant visitor. Nick Gray, the founder of Museum Hack, was just one such person, until a date (who was apparently an excellent tour guide) showed him around the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

OK, so that might be a bit of an oversimplification - it's not just targeted at grumps who feel dragged along to museums, but also at those who already know they appreciate museums but are simply looking for another way to experience the beauty of the artifacts they showcase. While it's a bit of a cliche at this point to refer to something as a 'hack' (no, using a CD spindle as a bagel holder should not be considered a 'life hack'), their tour of the Met, which is named the UnHighlights Tour, appears to be a favourite among those who have taken it, completely opening the eyes of the participants.

Unlike most tours, which tend to be a what's what of the most famous or prestigious works in the museum, the UnHighlights Tour is focused especially on the stories that make the works interesting, regardless of whether or not they have been specially singled out by the museum itself. To that end, Museum Hack hires tour guides from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds, as each guide has a unique take on what makes the museum an appealing place to spend time.

For the moment, they are only offering tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History, but they hope to expand soon to the Brooklyn Museum and then on to other American cities. So if you happen to find yourself in New York City, and you're on the fence about whether to visit the venerable Met, take the plunge and sign yourself up for a Museum Hack tour and experience an art museum in an entirely new way.

Posted on October 31st 2014 on 01:18pm

Monday 27th October 2014Your Guide to Gallereo: A Retrospective

It's been just over a year since we started doing regularly postings here at the Gallereo blog, and after our recent post about looking back over your artistic career as the year draws to a close, we couldn't help but look back at our own postings. We've covered a number of tips for getting your Gallereo page up and running as quickly and effectively as possible, and many of you new readers (welcome!) may not have had a chance to read them, so we thought we'd put together a quick guide to some of the highlights that will help you get the most out of your Gallereo page.
First steps are the most important, so for those of who are brand new to Gallereo, get a quick rundown on what you need to know with our post on first steps for digital artists. It's just a quick overview, but if you're new, it's the best place to get a sense of where you need to direct your energies.

Once you've got the basics down, you'll want to dig in to learn more about digitising your work to get it up on your Gallereo page. Fortunately, we've got a quick guide for you on that score as well. Getting your work online isn't all there is to it of course, so next you'll need to generate some buzz.

There are a number of ways to do start developing your following, and using social media to drive sales can be a powerful tool if you handle it properly. You will also want to make sure that you take full use of the blogging feature on your Gallereo page, and we've got some blog post ideas and inspiration for those of you who aren't natural writers.

Don't get so caught up in developing fans that you forget to tell them about yourself, though. The story behind your artwork and your artistic career is one of the things that helps sell pieces - buyers love to hear the root beginnings of the artwork they purchase.

This is just the very tip of the iceberg, of course, and there's a ton of great content going back through the the last year, but this quick guide should put you on the right track with a minimum of fuss. Dig in, do some reading, and then start putting the ideas into action, and you'll start making sales in no time at all.

Posted on October 27th 2014 on 04:17am

Friday 24th October 2014Governmental Modern Art Spree

The British government has had a bit of a rough time of late, with the imposition of austerity measures designed to curb public spending on all but the most essential services. It may seem to some that these restrictions are easing slightly, as the Civil Service recently announced an art buying spree of upwards of 100,000 pounds, the first time any work has been purchased since austerity measures first went into place back in 2011. There may be some confusion and more than a few groans over what they chose to purchase, however, as the pieces were exclusively modern and conceptual artworks from a variety of British artists..

The chosen pieces include a variety of disciplines, though a heavy emphasis on sculptural forms, installation and multimedia is evident. Among the most irritating of the chosen pieces is a pair of torn polystyrene coffee cups made out of bronze, textured to appear like the original polystyrene, and a series of wildlife portraits on rice paper that have been crumpled and partially unfolded. Aside from gems such as these, there were also quite a number of portraits of generals and officers from the allied nations, which had actually been on loan to the collection for the last 60 years and now are properly their own.

The works are part of the government's private collection, which means they will be displayed in various government buildings throughout the United Kingdom, as well as overseas in British embassies and military bases. The goal, of course, is to present the cutting edge of British art around the world - the problem is simply that the works they've selected seem to be simply boring. They don't speak to anything new or exciting, and the media are equally unspectacular.

In the words of one commentator at the Telegraph, "...for all the apparent outlandishness of the materials, this is still official art, selected by establishment figures who think they know what is good for us and what will represent Britain in the best light. The work here isn’t so much bad as a reflection of the increasing blandness and academicism of British contemporary art." What do you think of their selections? Do you think the price they paid was justified for the work? Somehow they don't seem to have the proper kind of gravitas for governmental purchases, but instead have swapped that for a misguided attempt at edginess.

Posted on October 24th 2014 on 04:55am

Wednesday 22nd October 2014Artist Spotlight: Tommy Ingberg

This week on artist spotlight is an up and coming young photographer from Sweden named Tommy Ingberg. While not formally trained as an artist, Ingberg's photography has attracted worldwide acclaim, and he has recently been selected for the "One to Watch" feature by Saatchi Art, which is dedicated to showcasing emerging artistic talents. He recently took the Gold Medal in the 2014 PX3 Prix De La Photographie Paris, only the latest in a series of awards and commendations dating from his initial forays into the art world.

His photography, or perhaps more accurately his photo collages, display an exquisite technical proficiency that throws the incredibly surrealistic subject matter that has become his hallmark. Working exclusively in high-key black and white, his pieces show a haunting commentary on his views regarding traditional value systems and the inherent hollowness of the average wage-earner's daily rat race.

On his website, he describes his journey into art: "In this work I found something I loved doing and something I could be proud of. I found a purpose, and with that purpose a way to start climbing upwards out of the hole I spent so much time digging. It has not gone straight up, and it has not been an easy journey, life seldom is, but I’ve kept on climbing.

I think this is the awesome thing about life. Without the bad stuff you can’t have the really good. Without living through my bad stuff, I would not have found my art."

Some of the motifs are perhaps a touch emotionally overwrought, something that Ingberg discusses in depth on the story section of his website, so he can perhaps be forgiven for some of the more excessively melodramatic images as he works through the particular expressions that bring such works to light. Overall, his body of work is powerful in its false simplicity and technical precision. Not exactly breaking new ground in the conceptual department, but the results are incredibly beautiful and well worth a look. Limited edition prints are also available, and they are truly limited editions - older works have only 20 prints, and newer works an even rarer 5 prints per image. If his rise continues at the same rate as it has up until now, they are likely to appreciate in value - and if not, they're still beautiful pieces.

Posted on October 22nd 2014 on 03:43am

Friday 17th October 2014The Famous Forger Turned Artist

As with anything valuable, forgery has been a plague on the art world since time out of mind. Imagine spending tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands on a work that appears genuine to even the trained eye, yet is barely worth the cost of the materials used to produce it. Such is the nightmare that keeps art collectors and museum curators awake at night, and with good reason - the fallout from such a discovery can be monumental. That being said, when a certain degree of skill is attained by the forger - when they are so good that all but the very best trained authenticators will be fooled - one can't help but admire the skill that goes into creating such elaborate fakes, even if it is remarkably immoral.

Enter the world-famous forger John Myatt, who rocked the art world in the 1990s with the revelations that his fakes had sold at auction houses around the world as original works by some of the most famed artists of the last several centuries. Among the artists whose work was faked were Le Corbusier and Matisse among many others, with even the most careful authenticators being fooled. Some of the works were sold for many tens of thousands of pounds, and not all of them have been recovered to date.

After a long and extensive trial in 1999, Myatt and the mastermind behind the scheme, John Drewe, were sentenced to prison terms, and both were released early. Since then, Myatt has gone on to make a career out of his incredible talent for stylistic mimicry, and has done quite well for himself, with some of his works being sold for upwards of £45,000. He currently has a show of original works at Castle Galleries in Exeter, England, who are also responsible for managing his sales.

"The difference between me and a forger is that I don’t do copies anymore. While there are plenty of people who will copy a master, I will create a painting in the style of an artist – and there lies a very important distinction," says Myatt.
“I know that I’ll always be known as the art forger who duped the experts but while that period of my life is definitely over, it set me on a path I never knew would be possible.”

Posted on October 17th 2014 on 08:17pm
Labels: art, forgery, fraud

Wednesday 15th October 2014Framing Your Work

As artists, we are often completely obsessed by our own work. It's a bit embarrassing to admit, but most of us are extravagant showoffs - that's part of why we're compelled to create in the first place. It may not be immediately obvious, but at some level, that's what drives us to share our views, our experiences, and our reflections with the rest of the world. But there are many steps beyond the actual creation of our artwork that can have a huge impact on the way they are received by our hopefully adoring public. Depending on what medium you're working in, framing can be one of those critical elements that can take a great piece of work to the next level or completely ruin it for the viewers, so let's take a quick look at some of the basic principles behind framing your work.

Obviously, the idea scenario is not having a frame around your work, so that nothing will distract from the piece itself. This is extremely easy to do if you're a painter who works with stretched canvases, but much more difficult if you're a photographer. It's possible to get your prints made in the style of a stretched canvas, but the expense is often prohibitive, especially when compared to that of a decent frame that will provide an acceptable background.

The most important thing to consider is how the frame will change the way the viewer perceives your work. If you're recreating the works of the European old masters, a richly carved gilt frame may help create the right sense of baroque gravitas, but it isn't likely be as effective on any kind of more modern artwork (though as with every rule, there are bound to be plenty of exceptions). Generally speaking, the more neutral the frame the better, as it will have less of an impact on the work. A thin frame was a popular style in past decades, but often seems a bit cheap and tacky today. A width of at least an inch is a good general rule, although your tastes may vary depending on the size of your piece and the effect you want to achieve.

Choosing the matte surrounding your work is equally important, and typically follows similar general principles to choosing a frame - keep it low key in a neutral colour, and pay careful attention to the balance of the widths in relation to the size of your work. A large amount of matte can combine nicely with a smaller image to increase the visual weight of the image itself, and too little matte can make it seem like a poorly planned afterthought.

So experiment with various combinations before you make a final choice, and you'll be another step along the way to getting the adulation your masterpieces truly deserve.

Posted on October 15th 2014 on 08:14pm
Labels: framing, tips

Friday 10th October 2014What Started You As An Artist?

The end of the year is fast approaching, and times like this often inspire us to take a look back at the previous year, at everything we've accomplished and everything that we still have yet to do. Sometimes, it makes us look even farther back at how we arrived at the places we are now in our lives, and artists feel this perhaps even more keenly than others. The creative process is inherently reflective, and is effective largely because of our past experiences and how they shape us. Just as an exercise, as this year comes to a close, take some time to look back at your artistic career, no matter how long it's been, and take stock of where you are now compared to where you started.
To get yourself into the reflective mood, start by looking back over what you've done this year so far. How has your technique changed? What have you begun to learn or experiment with? What do you wish you'd done that you didn't have time or inspiration for? This is one of the times when it really pays to maintain a kind of archive, not just of your work (because of course you do that anyways) but also of all the various bits and pieces of inspiration you've found and experiments and process work you've doubtless created. They provide a chronology of your development, a kind of textual mirror of your artistic sensibilities.

Then start looking farther back, so that you really get a sense of where your artistic career came from. What made you decide to become an artist in the first place? For almost all of us, it was a conscious choice at some point in our lives, even if we don't remember the exact moment - but even better if you do remember. What potential forks in your artistic path did you pass by along the way? Are any of them worth going back and re-examining?

There is a great, wondrous and often inspiring sense of place that can be found in coming back full circle to where you began. Even if you're not happy with the place you're in now, seeing how far you've come (or haven't) can provide the drive you need to continue to grow and evolve as an artist. So take some time to look back this year at the past, and let it propel you forwards into the future - and if you haven't been saving your inspirations, experiments, and process pieces, start to do it now!

Posted on October 10th 2014 on 08:12pm

Wednesday 08th October 2014The Great Art Fraud

Disappointingly, the creative world is often rife with theft and misattribution. Forgery has always been a part of the art world, as it is in an situation where there is a lot of money to be made, but one of the largest and longest running frauds in the art world is the saga of Margaret Keane and her ex-husband Walter. While Walter is now deceased, the saga is only finally coming to light thanks to an upcoming movie by renowned director Tim Burton starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz.

Dating back as far as the 1940s, the fraud had its roots in post-War Europe. Walter Keane was struggling to be an artist in Europe after the Second World War, and was incredibly moved by the strife and despair he witnessed first hand, writing “As if goaded by a kind of frantic despair, I sketched these dirty, ragged little victims of the war with their bruised, lacerated minds and bodies, their matted hair and runny noses. Here my life as a painter began in earnest.”

That, however, was the last truthful thing about Walter Keane's career. Back in the United States, he began selling portraits of children featuring incredibly huge and expressive eyes, supposedly inspired by his time in Europe. He began to amass quite a large following, and as it often does, with fame came money, and by the 1960s, he was a rich man. The only problem was that he wasn't actually responsible for any of the works - they were all painted by his wife Margaret.

Walter was apparently quite the charmer, but as in most abusive relationships, he was only charming when it suited him. He even went so far as to completely fabricate conversations and interactions in his 1983 memoir titled The World of Keane in order to prop up his status as the true artist. However, it would eventually all come crumbling down.

By the mid 1980s, Margaret had divorced Walter and filed a lawsuit against him for a share of the work. In order to prove her authorship of all the paintings, the judge had each party paint a portrait in the courtroom, which Margaret finished in under an hour - while Walter claimed he had a sore arm and couldn't paint. Naturally, Margaret won her lawsuit and was awarded $4 million USD in damages (only a fraction of what she should have earned from her work), but she never saw a penny of the money as Walter had blown it all by then.

The only saving grace from this terrible saga of heartbreak and theft is that at last the whole story is coming out - and Margaret is a part of it.

Posted on October 08th 2014 on 08:10pm

Friday 03rd October 2014Vandalising Street Art

Street art has some truly messy roots, even by the standards of the art world. Essentially starting out of the graffiti movement (if it can even be called that in its infancy), the works were inherently illegal from the very beginning. An entire subculture was spawned outside of the realms of the supposedly civilized art world, and like all subcultures, it developed its own rules and social taboos. One of them involved the taboo of painting over another's work - provided it was a genuine work of art (by the standards of the subculture). It was still done, of course, but it wasn't merely accepted practice but could be taken slap in the face of the artist whose work was being covered up. However, there grows a kind of interplay between the various artists if they don't know each other, a kind of narrative that is established by their interactions with each other through their works.

Banksy, of course, changed the entire world of street art by becoming a valuable commodity. When street art was treated as a public nuisance, nobody in the dominant culture paid any attention to the squabbles of those they saw as essentially criminals. But once Banksy appeared and captured the hearts, minds and dollar bills of the art-loving public, street art suddenly began to get noticed. A number of thorny and tangled legal issues emerged, such as the ownership of a work created partly using materials owned by someone else (say, the wall of the youth centre we mentioned in our last Banksy article). So when Banksy's latest work, Girl with the Pierced Eardrum, a takeoff on Girl with the Pearl Earring by Vermeer, the art world is in a bit of a dither as to how to respond.

Frank Malt, one of the most noted authorities on street art and street artists in the UK, said “Banksy puts the work up for the public to enjoy but people are exploiting it. People think it’s fun to deface Banksy’s work because they may get a name for themselves. Girl with the Pierced Eardrum could have been defaced by anyone – it could have been kids wanting a bit of attention."

The interesting thing is that there has yet to be a reaction from Banksy as to how he feels about the supposed defacement. It's not like he can really place any formal objections to how his work is treated, as it is still technically criminal in nature. However, it would change the entire nature of his work if he started creating it for the express purpose of building a dialog or narrative with other artists. How cool would that be?

Posted on October 03rd 2014 on 08:08pm

Wednesday 01st October 2014Artist Spotlight: KwangHo Shin

It's an old cliche that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and this reason this cliche has such staying power is never more noticeable than in the artwork of KwangHo Shin. A young artist, but a definite rising star, Shin has begun to make a name for himself with a portraiture style that is uniquely his own - part abstract expressionism, part hauntingly blurred realism, and all fixated on the eyes of his subjects.

In a recent interview, Shin was asked about the focus on eyes, and replied, "Why do people obsess about the eyes in my paintings? I was never asked about the presence of nose or lips. I think this suggests that the energy that eyes have in paintings can control the emotions of the works significantly."

Working in a blend of charcoal, acrylics and oil paints, Shin creates portraits on a grand scale, towering well above both artist, viewer and subject alike. He has already been identified by a number of artistic institutions as an artist whose career deserves careful attention, most notably by the Saatchi Art initiative's 'One to Watch' program, which maintains a lookout for up and coming young artists. They also recommend that an investment in his work now may pay off big dividends later if his career continues on its current trajectory. With pieces available for as little as $320 USD, it's hard to go wrong as an investment. Even if his career doesn't click into the cachet of the art world that makes artists go big, you'll still wind up with a beautiful work at a bargain price.

Interestingly, he refuses to title any of his works, but he draws subjects from any number of pop culture icons as well as non-celebrities, though the most recognizable subject of his to date is likely his untitled portrait of John Lennon.

Currently, he is exhibiting in Singapore, at Yavuz Gallery, with a collection of self-portraits collectively entitled Face Me. In the previously mentioned interview, conducted by PopSpoken, Shin had this to say about the show: "Recently, I had experienced seeing myself through other people, from their reaction to my works. Through this show, I want to remind myself who I really am and the importance of my existence in my works." That's some good advice for any aspiring artists who are hoping to make a name for themselves, whether in portraiture or otherwise! Be sure to keep an eye on his career.

Posted on October 01st 2014 on 08:06pm
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