Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture. We remind you that 18 years of back issues of eMusings can be found on our archives page.
As more of the world migrates to the online universe, we find wider choices to steer you to. Here are some of the best that we have culled from hours and hours of looking.
"Ma didn't suffer fools: she exploded them at 50 paces". This is how Diana Riggs' daughter introduces us to a delightful memoir about the actress so many of us loved. Riggs was as daunting in her life as she was on stage. She challenged everyone, and every cliche. Her pride, independence and sense of dignty were paramount. She loathed liars and was liberal in telling them so, including the doctors who dared to lace into platitudes at the end of her life. Read, remember, and enjoy.
Three lost paintings by Gustav Klimt have been recovered by the use of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence). Many of Klimt's paintings had been destoyed by the Nazi's in World War II. The restoration process, undertaken by Google Arts and Culture and the Velvedere Museum in Vienna, was complex: they compiled a data set originating from contemporary writings, 1 milliion images of the real world at the time, and 80 color reproductions of the artist's works. Some expectations were upended, as Klimt's unexpected color choices became clear. An online exhibit titled "Who Was Gustav Klimt" takes you deeper into the man and his work.
Artificial intelligence has also been used on a hidden nude by Pablo Picasso . The nude portrait was discovered underneath the surface of another painting. It appears that the artist painted over the figure in 1903 when creating "The Blind Man's Meal". The process involved X-ray fluorescence, followed by teaching an A.I. algorithm to add brushstrokes in Picasso's style.
Lily Wong's fleshly portraits fill their space in an almost suffocating manner. You can't avoid them, or their sense of overwhelming despair. Saturated color plays an active role in these canvases, as does a looming off-canvas and unnamed terror. At her website you can view the effect in its intensity.
A robotic calculator that plays Mozart is attracting a lot of attention. A-HOGE is made of 4 robotic arms attached with motor mechanisms to 4 calculators. Other postings, on twitter and youtube, expand its performance to Pachelbel and an anime series. One listener found that the purcussive sound of the keystrokes sometimes overwhelms the music itself.
The name Ithell Colquhoun is not likely to ring a bell for many viewers. Her combination of mysticism and flesh are provocative and immersive. Born in the U.K., she was the daughter of a civil servant in India, and is usually described as an occultist and surrealist. One biography of this elusive artist quotes her as saying, "At 10 years old I imagined Christ as a hermaphrodite....I fused the Red Headed Jesus with the Blue Cloaked Mary and made a God with breasts". Recently the Tate acquired a 5,000 piece archive of the artist's work, accounting for some of the increased interest in her.
A striking new public sculpture has just been unveiled in the city of Philadelphia. Called "ContraFuerte", the sculpture presents a "tangled mass" of human bodies that appear to be holding up a small bridge connecting 2 buildings. The artist, Miguel Antonio Horn, has built other public sculptures in the city. In this case, figures are made of aluminum plates cut out in topographic forms. Looking at the figures, one cannot tell if they are preventing a tragedy by holding up the bridge, or if they are about to be thrust downward with it.
Not many people progress from being an artist's model to becoming an accomplished artist themselves, but such is the story of Suzanne Valadon, currently showing at the Barnes Collection in Philadelphia. Born in 1865, Valadon began as the subject of others' work, enduring painters who wanted to exploit her and a world that frowned on women who posed. She had affairs with composers and painters, and gave birth to a son who became a famous painter himself (Maurice Utrillo). By 1912 she had given up modeling and emerged as a talented artist in her own right. Her portraits are described as blunt, forceful, devoid of romanticism. She herself is called "Model, Painter, Rebel".
Abraham Poincheval has been characerized as "France's most extreme performance artist". He has lived inside of a boulder for a week and inside of a stuffed bear for 13 days. His explorations were inspired by people like Symeon the Stylite, a 5th century saint who spent 37 years atop a pillar. At one time his act, titled "Egg", found him sitting on a wood stool in a glass cube for 21 days at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Beneath him was a transparent compartment for a nest of 11 eggs that he intended to incubate with the heat of his body. His current project involves building a structure that looks like a huge rock, although the inside will be covered with gold leaf. The bottom line of all these performances appears to be "seeking transcendence in confined situations".
Large organic structuers based mainly on bamboo mark the work of Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, a fourth generation bamboo craftsman. He fills the space with giant bamboo works that seem to writhe and twist from floor to ceiling. The works, rather than being exotic only, have a sensuality and organic inner motion that make them dynamic. Watch the included video that shows one of them being constructed.
When Beethoven died, he had just completed his Ninth Symphony, with its magnificent "Ode to Joy". He had also been commissioned to create a Tenth, but he died, leavind behind some musical notes and a few ideas. Now scientists and musicologists have attempted to create that Tenth Symphony, using (once again) his complete body of finished works to train the A.I. algorithms. Roadblocks arose, like whether a series of notes was intended to start or end a passage, or how the composer managed to create an entire symphony out of just 4 basic notes. The resulting Symphony was just released. Note: those of you who want to see art created entirely by A.I. can swing over to aican and decide for yourselves.
A mixed reaction has greeted the U.K.'s presentation at the Dubai Expo pavillion. The structure, built of cross-laminated timber by British designer Es Devlin, shows a series of A.I.-generated poems in English and Arabic made from words submitted by visitors. Negative comments included this one: "a giant ice cream cone spouting gobbledygook". Viewers will recall that I composed A.I. music some 4 years ago: the results can be seen at Music Madness.
c. Corinne Whitaker 2021