New Van Gogh Film Employs a Painterly Approach

"Loving Vincent," a new film from the UK about Van Gogh, is a technical marvel. Billed as the first cinematic feature in which every frame is derived from an individual painting, the film's production was a seven year labor of love by Polish animator and director Dorota Kobiela. Over 65,000 individual paintings were produced by a team of 120 painters to complete the film's visuals. On average, each 10 second shot of the film required 20 weeks of work by a painter. Although critics have been somewhat divided on the film's overall success as a dramatic feature (it currently holds a 77% score on Rotten Tomatoes), the sheer visual complexity of the work is stunning.

The plot for the film is structured around a posthumous effort to deliver the artist's final letter to his brother Theo. Live footage with an ensemble of actors was shot in London over 14 days, which served as a framework for the film's team of painters. The technique was similar to that used by American filmmaker Richard Linklater in his movies "Waking Life" and "Through a Scanner Darkly." A range of characters whom we know from Van Gogh's painting and letters are incorporated into the plot -- each visually-introduced from the same perspective as depicted by Van Gogh.

The film's narrative is ultimately too conventional for both its subject and its own visual approach, hewing dangerously close to a conventional "Whodunit?" storyline and indulging too many of the mawkish, melodramatic conceptions about the artist and his work. Yet, it still manages to provide an impressive degree of sheer cinematic pleasure for the viewer.


BBC segment detailing the production process for "Loving Vincent," the feature-length film about Vincent Van Gogh created from 65,000 individual oil on canvas works.

Tensions Rise in Gentrifying Chinatown over Art Exhibit

The current exhibition by Omer Fast, "August," has caused a firestorm of debate. Mounted at James Cohan Gallery in the Lower East Side of New York, the centerpiece of the exhibition is an immersive installation that alludes to the gallery's Chinatown location.

Courtesy of ArtNet News: Installation view, “Omer Fast: August,” James Cohan, New York, 2017. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle.

Courtesy of ArtNet News: Installation view, “Omer Fast: August,” James Cohan, New York, 2017. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle.

A large protest headed by community groups including Art Against Displacement, Decolonize this Place and the Chinatown Art Brigade was mounted last weekend.

The Chinatown Art Brigade issued the following statement:

"The conception and installation of this show reifies racist narratives of uncleanliness, otherness and blight that have historically been projected onto Chinatown. Your appalling exhibition should be shut down.”

The artist, who immigrated from Israel to the US as a teenager, has issued a response:

"...The point of this work was never to insult or incite but to talk about identity and immigrant experience – my immigrant experience – warts and all, in its complexity and in its contradictions, pitting essence against appearance. For what it’s worth, I think this is what this work does..."

Exciting Obama Portraits to be Unveiled in Early 2018

Photo of Kehinde Wiley by Chad Batka for the New York Times. 

Photo of Kehinde Wiley by Chad Batka for the New York Times. 

Barack and Michelle Obama have announced their selections of artists to complete the former first couple's official portraits and are receiving plaudits for their art-historically savvy, thoughtful choices: Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald.

Roberta Smith of the NYT notes of the selections, which were made by the Obamas themselves from a shortlist compiled by the National Portrait Gallery curators:

"Their choices...reflect the Obamas’ instincts for balancing the expected and the surprising, and for being alert to painting’s pertinence to the moment."

The paintings by Mr. Wiley and Ms. Sherald will be unveiled at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in early 2018.

Trump Emphatically Believes in his Renoir Reproduction

Left, by Ron Galella/WireImage; Right, from Heritage Images, both via Vanity Fair

Left, by Ron Galella/WireImage; Right, from Heritage Images, both via Vanity Fair

Trump biographer Tim O'Brien, author of "Trump Nation: The Art of Being Donald," was featured on The Hive podcast and gave the backstory on Trump's supposed Renoir painting.

The painting, a copy of "Two Sisters (On the Terrace)" (1881), formerly resided on Trump's private plane and has since been relocated to his Trump Tower residence. The actual "Two Sisters" was purchased from the artist by pioneering Parisian dealer Paul Duran-Ruel and subsequently owned by Annie S. Coburn before being donated to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1933, where it remains on public view.

Trump's version of the painting is one of a number of known copies of the Renoir work. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump has reportedly insisted to visitors for years that the fake is "an original" Renoir.

The GUGGENHEIM vs self censorship

Photograph by Huang Yong Ping / Guggenheim Abu Dhabi via The New Yorker

Photograph by Huang Yong Ping / Guggenheim Abu Dhabi via The New Yorker

The editorial board of the New York Times issued a strongly-worded condemnation today of the Guggenheim Museum's management for pulling three controversial works from its current exhibition "Art and China After 1989." The exhibition is the first comprehensive museum exhibition of politically-charged, post-Tiananmen art from China to be mounted in the US in nearly a decade.

The censored works include two videos featuring animals ("Dogs that Cannot Touch Each Other" by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu and "A Case Study in Transference" by Xu Bing) and a sculpture intended to house insect and reptiles ("Theater of the World" by Huang Yon Ping). "Theater of the World" was to be one of the centerpieces of the exhibition.

Backlash to the show began after previews were published describing the works. An online petition demanding removal of the works rapidly gained over 750,000 signatures.

While expressing reservations about the works in question, the NYT editorial board was harsher in condemning the willingness of the museum to withdraw work that was anticipated to be thorny, difficult fare for museum visitors.

Noting the irony of a US-based exhibition censoring work by Chinese artists, the writers concluded that, "We are contemplate an exhibition of irony: Chinese artists find their provocative statements against oppression suppressed in the land of the free."

Leonardo da vinci coming to auction for 100 mil

Photo courtesy of Christie's

Photo courtesy of Christie's

The last remaining painting by Leonardo da Vinci in private hands, Salvator Mundi ("Savior of the World"), will be sold at Christie's in November with a pre-sale estimate of USD $100 million. Though it was only determined to be a Da Vinci six years ago, the portrait of Jesus has an amazing backstory.

Salvator Mundi was sold at Christie's in 1958 for only USD $60. Following a meticulous restoration and scholarly research establishing its status as a da Vinci, the work returned to public auction in 2013 at Sotheby's, where it was purchased by the controversial Swiss freeport owner Yves Bouvier for USD $80 million. Bouvier then flipped the work to his client, the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, for USD $127 million. The work subsequently became embroiled in Rybolovlev's allegations against Bouvier, with the Russian investor claiming that we was defrauded of USD $1 billion by the Swiss businessman.

Museo de Arte de Ponce is Running on Diesel and a lot of Heart

Amongst widespread devastation of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the island's premier art museum is using art to provide respite and hope.

Despite the surrounding physical destruction and a lack of power or outside communications, the Museo de Arte de Ponce re-opened within a week following the storm. It has resumed workshops and other public programming and is offering free admission.

The museum, which was designed by MoMA architect Edward Durell Stone, is the permanent home of Frederic Leighton's painting "Flaming June" (colloquially known as "the Mona Lisa of the Southern Hemisphere.")

An exhibition developed with the Frick, "Pequeños tesoros de la Frick Collection," remains on track to open next month.

Photo by  Alejandra Peña Gutiérrez

Photo by  Alejandra Peña Gutiérrez

The New York Times Shares a Playlist of Basquiat's Favorite Tunes

Photo courtesy of Maripol

Photo courtesy of Maripol

"Basquiat: Boom for Real" opened last night at the Barbican Center in London. The exhibition examines the artist's relationship to music in depth. Basquiat, who amassed a collection of3,000 albums, was obsessed with music. His devotion to music influenced his painting and drawing in both broad highly-specific, ways (he depicted his jazz heroes an incorporated their names into his works). 

Basquiat had eclectic taste in music, but it was jazz -- specifically Bebop -- that was his prime aural inspiration. 

The attached article from the NYT has a Spotify playlist with some of Basquiat's favorite tracks.