May 11, 2011

Artist of the Day: Björk

Björk is a completely amazing Icelandic musician. She has a very distinctive voice and commands amazing control over it, whispering intensely one moment and screaming passionately the next. She often inserts smooth, gorgeous melodies into her songs. She is famous for her eccentric style and her boundary-breaking music videos.

You've probably heard this song from way back in the early 90's:

In the late 90's, she released Homogenic with the lead single All is Full of Love. The video for which is a huge leap in special effects as well as an interesting commentary on humanity, sexuality, and technology. It won several awards:

In 2000, Björk starred in and wrote the score for Dancer in the Dark. This musical written and directed by Lars von Trier takes place in the 1960's. It centers around Czech immigrant Selma, who is in the process of going blind. She is saving up money for her son's surgery so that he will not suffer the same fate. In order to escape the awfulness of everyday life, Selma daydreams that she is in a musical.

It's completely heartbreaking, but well worth it. Björk is absolutely captivating in it.

Here is my favorite song in the film (there are SPOILERS):

The following video, made for a song off of the album Vespertine (2001), is one of my favorites. The Pagan Poetry video was banned by MTV due to the stylized yet graphic sex scenes as well as for its use of needles piercing the skin. It is obviously NSFW:

Her music is quite versatile. Earth Intruders (2007) has an infectious, African-inspired drumbeat:

Her newest endeavor, Biophilia, is an ambitious multimedia production which addresses the physics of music in nature. Super exciting stuff!

Check out her newly redesigned site bjö for more.

Feb 13, 2011

Artist of the Day: Chuck Close

Chuck Close is an American artist known for his photorealistic paintings. If you've ever taken a college art history course that deals with the last half of the last century, you are probably familiar with this image:

One amazing thing about this image is that it ISN'T a photograph. It's paint! He was one of the first artists to really go in this direction of super real paintings that emulate photography.

Another amazing thing?

Chuck Close is face blind.

He doesn't recognize faces.

I learned this from this podcast from Radiolab.

What he does is map out a flattened image of a face in a grid, creating sort of a landscape. The features of this landscape eventually become a highly realistic picture of a face.

A couple more examples:

Also - he was on The Colbert Report.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Chuck Close
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogMarch to Keep Fear Alive

His work is an amazing technical achievement. While I'm not in love with this particular style/movement, I admire that Close has overcome so much adversity to become such an accomplished and well-known artist.

Not only is he face-blind, he's also dyslexic. He still can't count without the visual aid of a domino.

When he was 11, his father died, his mother got breast cancer, his grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and he developed a debilitating kidney infection.

He moved past all this to later graduate from the University of Washington as well as Yale. He went on to earn acclaim for his portraiture.

At 49, he suffered a blood clot in his spinal cord.

This made him a quadriplegic. He completely lost the use of his limbs.

But Close, being the determined bad ass that he is, apparently demanded his dying muscles to work again.

He stills paints.

Now his paintings look like this:

I actually like these better. But I'm a sucker for abstraction.

info from here

Jan 18, 2011

Bagels with a Side of Needless Vindictiveness

It was recently brought to my attention that Bagels On Broadway, makers of delicious bagels, not only have terrible radio advertisements but are somewhat evil as well.

This article (Sacred Trash by Jessie Froehling) from the Missoula Independent (February 2009) tells the unfortunate tale.

Since there are only three sentences addressing Bagels On Broadway in particular, I'll post them here.

"An employee who requested anonymity says that the owner asks workers to dump vinegar on discarded bagels to keep people from fishing them out of the trash."

The anonymous employee is quoted:
“But we don’t really do it. I don’t know, it just seems kinda…not fair. I mean, if you’re digging through the trash for food…”

This is all the info I could scrounge up in my dedicated five minute Google search. I don't know if this is still something the business practices, but I certainly hope not.

Dick move, BOB, dick move.

I don't think I'll be patronizing your establishment any longer.

image from here

Jan 11, 2011

Artist of the Day: Banksy

If you have been on the Internet before (you're there right now!) then you are likely aware of Banksy and his delightful snarkiness.

Here are two of my favorite examples of his street art:

Graffiti is where he got his start. He is also notorious for slipping pieces into galleries and museums.

More recently though, he's been getting real, live exhibitions of his very own. The attendance to which are staggering. Here's a link on his (free) exhibition in the Bristol City Museum.

A couple highlights:

I think one of the most excellent, broad-reaching things he's done so far, however, is his "couch gag" with The Simpsons. The beginning is relatively business as usual, with Banksy references (rats, crows, vandalism) sprinkled here and there.

Right around 0:37 is where it really gets interesting and amusing.

How my Art Criticism professor hesitates to include him in our list of contemporary artists this past semester, I just don't understand.