Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture. We remind you that 16 years of back issues of eMusings can be found on our archives page.
The work of Joseph Nechvatal is well known to digital cognoscente. For years he has been creating brilliant work utilizing concept, visual art, and sound. This particular piece, which I remember admiring when I first saw it 9 years ago, is titled "Viral Venture". The description tells us it "captures cycles of the birth, growth and death of real time artificial life activity within art activity". I urge you to investigate other projects of his as shown at his personal site. Nechvatal's is an extraordinary intelligence.
Here's a fascinating tale that comes to us from Wales. It's called the Mystery of the Free Range Sculpture and traces the 35-year voyage of a wooden boulder as it traveled down the river Dwyryd. Artist David Nash, who was actually born in Surrey, moved to a former mining town in Wales because it was cheaper to live there. He bought an old Methodist chapel in the center of town which has served as his home and studio ever since. Working far outside of the usual channels of art, he developed a fine reputation with his sculptures in wood. But after a heavy storm in 1978, the limb of a 200-year-old oak tree broke off near a public walkway. Nash chopped the trunk into a rough ball about 3' in diameter. He planned to let the river move it downstream to where he could bring it into his studio. But the oak ball had other ideas: it became embedded in the landscape and would not budge. What happened next is the stuff of fantasies, except that it really happened.
Australian artist Haughton Forrest. who died in 1925, is hardly a household name. But it is worth looking at his landscapes, deftly rendered and composed. They strike me as worthy companions to the works of Constable, Turner, and Homer. Much to appreciate here.
Like many performance venues in these days of covid-19, the Metroopolitan Opera found its main stage shut down. The venerable institution came up with a creative solution: it is streaming encore presentations online while the curtains are down. The project began on March 16 with a 2010 performance of Bizet's "Carmen" and is following up with other gems. The performances start at 7:30 pm snd stay online at the Met's site for 23 hours. Included will be 14 years of operatic gems from their Live in HD Series. Significantly for music lovers, the listening is free. (Thanks to NM for this.)
Boston photographer Benjamin Zagorsky has gifted us with these powerful photographs of what happens to a major university campus during a lockdown like the current one. Those of us who are used to the bustling enthusiasm of Harvard during its usual campus mayhem may find it hard to believe our eyes.
Based in Los Angeles, ceramist Jenny Hata Blumenfield has an unusual take on the creation of ceramics. This video of her in her studio reveals her concentration on three facets of her work: "division, dissection, and separation". She discusses cultural identity, use of differing materials, and the importance of shadows in her thinking.
Moving from today to the 16th century, the National Gallery of Art in the U.K. (now physically closed due to the corona virus) brings us a welcome look at the paintings of Lucas Cranach the Elder. Cranach was one of the leading artists of the Reformation in Germany. He painted alterpieces, portraits, and mythological works with a decorative bent.
Stephen Sondheim is a composer of brilliance, an acknowledged master of a tonality all his own, and a puzzle to many. This review from ArtDaily speaks of the "multicolored, churning waters of a Sondheim score". It offers an insightful look at why Sondheim's work speaks to so many people, and where it exists in the pantheon of great composers.
You will recall that we have previously featured the soft sculptures of Sarah Lucas. Her new exhibit at the Gladstone Gallery in New York City uses both soft materials and bronze. In this show, titled "Honey Pie", Lucas' contorted, writhing figures are as compelling as ever.
Watch animated fish swarm, float and intermingle in this video directed by Hideki Inaba for the Swedish group Canigou. The environment is ambiguous, the patterns mesmerizing, and the entire presentaiton seems reminiscent of another planet.
From the deceptively simple infinity shape come some dancing/floating kinetic sculptures by artist Julia Nizamutdinova. Made of plstic, aluminum and steel, and lit by LED lights, these fascinating works seem to have a life of their own. Follow up with this additional You Tube project called Sprut and you will get an even better look at this artist's excellence. A third video called Cyber Creatures is equally stirring.
The Art Institute of Chicago offers a lovely video on their current exhibition called "El Greco: Ambition and Defiance". The video shows some of the artist's works and discusses what we know of his personality - thanks to his numberous lawsuits, we apparently know more about him than about other artists of his era! Well worth your time.
While you are at You Tube, treat yourself to another fine video from the Art Institute of Chicago about Edouard Manet. Personally I love art videos that take us up close to the paintings so that we can see the actual brushstrokes. This one does it beautifully.
Regardless of your feelings about monarchies in a contemporary world, here is a chance to view some of the 250,000 works of art in the Royal Collection. Found in 15 royal residences around the globe, this online visit affords an insight into treasures that few of us will ever see in person. Treat yourself lavishly: we have here a rare opportunity to roam like a royal.
We have visited Sculpture By The Sea in Western Australia before. We are returning to the 2020 edition for some gems that you won't want to miss.
c. Corinne Whitaker 2020