Looking For Art’s Response to “The Challenge of Our Times”? You’ll Find It in Mainstream Pop Culture

“We are in the midst of hard times now, and it feels as if art is failing us,” writes New York Times film and cultural critic A.O. Scott in a piece titled, “Is Our Art Equal to the Challenges of Our Times?” His essay, bemoaning a lack of contemporary Great Social Art, laments the absence of Dickenses and Steinbecks, the Zolas and Arthur Millers of yesteryear, even as it introduces a roundtable about art and current affairs featuring artists as diverse as J. Cole, Patricia Lockwood, David Simon, and Ken Burns. … Read More

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Striking Black-and-White Portraits of Sheep and Goats

When it comes to portraits of animals, photographers usually know better than to try to get a cat to sit still for the camera. Most felines don’t have the patience, or paycheck, of Grumpy Cat. Dogs are a favorite subject for shutterbugs — from pups underwater and adorable pit bulls showing off the beauty of their breed, to dog beauty pageants and wet dogs mid-bath. But what about the rest of the animal kingdom?

Washington-based photographer Kevin Horan, who we learned about on Inspiration Now, has devoted attention to the goats and sheep on and around Whidbey Island — home to several farms, beautiful parks, and a nature reserve. Goats get a bad rep due to their association with Satanism. And those horns and horizontal pupils can be a little unnerving. But Horan reveals the humorous and majestic side of the goat and sheep. They’re all goofy grins, adorable beards, dramatic poses, and gorgeous manes. … Read More

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Fascinating Photos That Capture Famous Artists’ Friendships

French photographer Lucien Clergue, who penned the autobiography Picasso My Friend, passed away this month. “I had a good fortune to meet Pablo Picasso at a bullring. I had stopped playing violin, and for the lack of funds I could not go to school in Paris. I started taking photographs with different cameras owned by a man close to my home,” Clergue wrote. “Picasso signed one of the print, not my best, but now it is the most expensive. When I reached the age of 20 I was still working in a factory, but I was taking photographs of five children dressed with clothes designed by me [inspired by Picasso’s circus paintings]. I was trying to make Picasso happy: he had said at the bullring, ‘I want to see more prints.’” Their relationship lasted until Picasso’s death in 1973, and that close friendship is revealed in photos of the artists together and Clergue’s portraits of the painter in his studio. Inspired by Clergue, we gathered other photos of famous artist… Read More

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The Complex Inner Workings of Vintage Calculators Revealed

We imagine that photographer Kevin Twomey cringes just a little when he sees crafters on Etsy selling typewriter parts as jewelry. The Bay Area artist prefers to keep the vintage machines he finds intact so he can examine their inner metal workings through the lens of his camera. His series Calculators, which we first discovered on Colossal, started when he was asked to photograph a mechanical engineer’s collection of old adding machines. “The stripping of the external shell of the calculators was not the original concept for shooting these machines,” Twomey explains. “But when Mark removed the covers to show the complex internal working of the calculators, I immediately knew that this was the heart of the project.” Take a closer look at the bones of these complex calculators in our gallery. … Read More

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Thanksgiving Dinners Reconstituted as Famous Works of Art

Thanksgiving! From what I can gather, it’s a time to eat yourself senseless and argue with your family. Huzzah! But hey, if the whole eating-yourself-stupid business isn’t especially appealing, there are other ways you can amuse yourself with apparently endless amounts of food: like making works of art out of them! This brings us to the work of artist Hannah Rothstein, which we spotted at Beautiful Decay. Rothstein has arranged the ingredients of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, arranged in the style of various well-known artists. Is this an epochal work of art that’s going to change the world? No. Is it kinda awesome nonetheless? Why, yes. Yes, it is. (Especially the Magritte.) … Read More

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2015’s Craziest Calendar Transforms Nude Artists Into Adorable Pandas

“The government shutdown has claimed one of its most beloved casualties: the National Zoo’s panda cam,” wrote CNN last October. “But animal lovers can rest assured that the zoo’s endangered Giant Pandas — Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and an unnamed newborn cub — will still be fed and cared for, the zoo said.” It sounded ominous — and totally ridiculous. You might remember that these were the types of stories being published in 2013, when all inessential (or what they’re now calling “non-excepted”) government services were suspended amid Washington’s unresolved fiscal mess. And the National Zoo’s most popular residents generated some of the goofiest headlines. As one media brain on Twitter put it: “the panda cam is the bread and circuses of our age. never mind all the important stuff, OMG BABY PANDA!!! #shutdown” … Read More

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10 Female Surrealists You Should Know

If we go by some of the history books, they were merely lovers, wives, and muses. The surrealist movement is defined by the philosophical, revolutionary personalities that populated it — and many would have us believe they were all men. This review of Hungarian painter Judith Reigl by surrealist founder André Breton sums up the problem with the movement’s patronizing attitude toward its female artists: “It seems so unlikely that the ship sweeping forward could be steered by a woman’s hand that some quite exceptional force must be assumed to be helping to drive it along.” The surrealists aimed to free the unconscious, resulting in dreamlike, illogical scenes. Apparently a woman’s inner world never seemed so terrifying. Continuing our series spotlighting women in male-dominated art movements, here are ten female surrealists you should… Read More

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Awesome Skateboard Art from Pop Culture Greats for a Good Cause

The ever-expanding city of Austin has become one of the cultural hot spots of the United States, but there’s a small town to the east that has a few claims to fame of its own. Taylor, Texas is known for its historic charm and farming communities, but the hometown of golden-age animator Tex Avery (behind cartoon luminaries like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig) will also soon be known for a cool skatepark.

Our friends at Collectors Weekly tipped us off to a project from Austin photographer Brent Humphreys and graphic artist Chris Bilheimer that will raise money to build a skatepark in the rural Texas town. It also keeps “Avery’s antic spirit alive and well in Taylor.” They’re auctioning off an amazing collection of arty skateboard decks from people like Matt Groening (of The Simpsons fame), Gary Panter (the former Emmy-winning set designer for Pee Wee’s Playhouse), Rob Jones (album artist for bands like the White Stripes), and J.J. Sedelmaier (co-creator of “Saturday TV Funhouse” on SNL). It’s part of a non-profit initiative called Project LOOP (Lessons On and Off the Pavement), which provides kids with “lessons in creativity, exercise, and hard work in a real world experience outside the classroom.” The organization also encourages creative professionals to contribute and give back.

If you’d like to do your part, bid on these custom skateboard decks until December 6. Visit Project LOOP for more info on the skatepark fundraiser and their wealth of projects. … Read More

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Strange and Sexy Footwear Inspired by Vintage Sci-Fi Films

From Jane Fonda’s sexy space traveler in Barbarella to the Capitol couture featured in The Hunger Games, science fiction cinema has influenced fashion for decades. Eindhoven-based designer Mandy Roos, who we discovered on Moco Loco, has taken inspiration from old-school sci-fi films “and their imaginary visions of future, spaceships and unknown universes.” She uses futuristic materials like rubber, plastic, foam, and slime to style her wildly impractical, humorous, visionary footwear. The collection, Invasion Of The Foot Carrier, even sounds like a lost camp classic from the annals of 1960’s sci-fi. Take a closer look in our gallery. … Read More

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New Kara Walker Video Shows ‘A Subtlety’ Was Performance Art All Along

We’ve known Kara Walker’s video follow-up to her installation piece A Subtlety, which showed at Williamsburg’s Domino Sugar Factory site this summer, was coming for a while. In a conversation with the LA Times last month, Walker revealed she’d filmed audience reactions to her monumental piece — the same audience reactions that provoked outrage in some attendees. While the full, 28-minute video premieres at Chelsea’s Sikkema Jenkins & Co. tomorrow, Walker released a five-minute preview clip today, and while tactlessness certainly makes an appearance, it’s a largely evenhanded look at the interaction between A Subtlety and its onlookers, and how those interactions became part of the art itself. … Read More

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