Archive for the 'In the News' Category

The Art of Difficult Art

Keeping the Story Alive

Today’s National Post had an interesting article with artist Adam Matak. “Over the past few years, this young Toronto artist has made a name for himself by applying a cartoon style to classy gallery settings.” Matak explains that he began drawing at the age of three, and that when he was young he drew in a style inspired by Disney.

Later, I trained as a printmaker, so when I started getting into painting I brought in that graphic element, too. And I’ve always been interested in trying to create connections between disparate things. I started off doing Greek busts and combining them with graffiti -trying to meld ancient and contemporary art (The National Post, April 4, 2011).

Check out the photo of the Thames Art Gallery space above, with Matak’s cardboard cutout figures, whom he describes as “museum patrons.” Very cool. More examples can be seen on the “Sculptures” tab on Matak’s website. Matak’s “Museum Series” of paintings equally explores the public experience of art, poking fun at how disengaged many viewers may at times appear. But the deeper message concerns what an audience may be missing by not reflecting on the lineage from which art springs, and what we may have to learn from it about ourselves. Continue reading ‘The Art of Difficult Art’

The End of the Art Book?

I’m being dramatic, I know. But will more consumers be downloading an art app in the future and viewing works on their iPads, instead of purchasing unwieldy coffee table tomes (the one featured above is a brick, coming in at 688 pages!)? Surely Google’s Art Project will change the digital landscape, with users being able to virtually navigate some of the world’s finest art museums.

At the beginning of the 1900s, publishers Joseph Pulitzer (New York World) and William Randolph Hearst (New York Journal) were engrossed in a distribution war. Pulitzer’s aim was to outsell his rival by bringing fine art reproductions to a wide readership. As it turned out, the first colour presses were not up to the task, but were well suited for less detail-oriented printing, such as cartoons. Hence the introduction of R. F. Outcault’s The Yellow Kid, the first newspaper comic strip printed in colour.

Over one hundred years later, thanks to a collaboration between Google and a consortium of museums, fine art reproductions can now be scrutinized down to the megaopixel.

In “A new way of seeing,” (National Post, March 1, 2011), Robert Fulford comments on the latest Google publicity campaign in relation to the live museum experience:

Of course, googleartproject. com doesn’t replace the museum experience. Nothing in the way of reproduction, digitalized or printed, can do for us what the thing itself does.

And, of course, enjoying art this way lacks the social dimension of a museum exhibit. But in certain ways it improves on museums: There’s no waiting, it’s free, no one steps in front of you while you contemplate Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, and, in some obscure way, you do end up feeling rather closer to a masterpiece than you might otherwise.

There are strengths and weaknesses to viewing an artwork on-screen and in its physically incarnate form. And similarly, for all the benefits of the finger swipe, it will never replace the tactile experience of flipping the page—even if the book is more expensive, heavier and takes up more space. Call me old-fashioned.

Dwayne McDuffie: 1962-2011

In Memorium: Dwayne McDuffie

Dwayne McDuffie, the founder of Milestone Media, died Feb. 21, 2011 at age 49, after experiencing complications during emergency heart surgery.

Milestone Media was created in 1993 by a group of African American artists and writers whose mission was to increase the presence of minorities in American comics. Milestone’s work was distributed by DC Comics. McDuffie explains the inspiration for creating the company:

When he was a child in Detroit, McDuffie recalled in a 1996 interview with the Detroit Free Press, “there were only two comic strips that had black leading characters. When we got together to form our company, there were still only two—20 years later. We felt there should be more diversity.”

Los Angeles Times, Feb 24, 2011.

One of the most popular characters created by McDuffie and the Milestone group is Static, in the comic Static Shock, which inspired the animated cartoon of the same name.

McDuffie has also authored many screenplays, edited scripts and produced animated features for programs such as “What’s New, Scooby-Doo?,” “Teen Titans,” “Static Shock,” “Justice League,” “Ben 10: Alien Force.” McDuffie wrote the screenplay for the recently-released All-Star Superman.

McDuffie aspired to bring out the humanity of superheroes, through depicting them

“…in situations where being strong, or being able to fly or fight aren’t the answers,” McDuffie said. “We’ve dealt with teen pregnancy, abortion, racism and anti-Semitism. Being able to hit somebody harder doesn’t help you deal with that.”

Los Angeles Times, Feb 24, 2011. Continue reading ‘Dwayne McDuffie: 1962-2011’

Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts

New York Times Sunday Book Review of Six Novels in Woodcuts, a two volume boxed set reproducing Lynd Ward’s “silent novels.” The collection was edited by Art Spiegelman and published by the Library of America.

This looks like a beautiful publication. For anyone interested in the early origins of what is now being toted as the “graphic novel,” Gods’ Man by Lynd Ward is especially worthy of attention.


Interview between the Library of America and Art_Spiegelman_on_Lynd_Ward (PDF)

First_ten_pages_of_Gods_Man (PDF)

Lynd Ward’s illustrations for Frankenstein

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