Month: October 2012

The Growth of Online Art Databases

posted by – 10/31/12 @ 4:04pm

Online art image databases are continuing to make it even easier to access pieces of art that you haven’t made it around the world to see just quite yet. Google Art Project, which launched in 2011 with the cooperation of many prominent international museums, has just announced the addition of 29 new art organizations from 14 different countries, bringing the online platform to an incredible total of 35,000 high resolution images of art. Museums such as the Istanbul Modern Art Museum and the Museum of Palazzo Vecchio in Italy are some of the newest contributors to the project, and viewers can also now compare pieces side by side, helpful for comparisons of things like the drafts and the final version of a painting.

If you’re looking for more than just images, is new to the scene, a website which aims to connect viewers with pieces of art much in the same way as sites such as Netflix and Pandora. It calls its online collection the Art Genome Project, tagging works of art with certain “genes”, or qualities. For example, the “Visual References” gene tags art that refers to exisiting works of art, also serves as a link between galleries and collectors, connecting viewers interested in certain pieces of art for sale with galleries and artists.

Whether you’re researching a certain period of art, looking for a piece to buy or just need a new method of online entertainment beyond Facebook, both sites are very easy to get lost in, and you can learn something new while you’re at it!

Google Art Project

Restoration of a Picasso Masterpiece Uncovers New Secrets

posted by – 10/30/12 @ 11:25am

When art conservators restored Picasso’s “Woman Ironing” for the Guggenheim Museum’s current show “Picasso Black and White”, the shadow of another painting was revealed underneath. Apparently, it was not uncommon for Picasso to start a canvas and then completely change directions and paint over it. The restoration of this iconic work of a woman laboring over her ironing board uncovered a portrait of a man with a mustache below. Experts were at first skeptical as to whether this under layer was actually by Picasso himself, or if he just acquired a used canvas from another artist. However, analysis of paint drips and brushstrokes ultimately proved that it was by the master’s hand. The restoration also raised the question of the identity of this mustached gentleman. Currently, the Guggenheim’s senior conservators believe it depicts an artist with an easel in front of him. They ruled out the possibility that it is a self-portrait because it is known that Picasso did not wear a mustache at the time he painted this between 1900 and 1905. Instead, it probably represents one of his artist friends, either Mateu Fernández de Soto or Ricard Canals. In addition to revealing this unseen work by Picasso, the restoration gave new insight into the “Woman Ironing” itself. Traditionally thought of as part of Picasso’s Blue Period, cleaning has shown that there are actually subtle red hues in the painting. Experts now understand that this work embodied the artist’s transition from his Blue to Rose Period. This case demonstrates just how important restoration can be in revealing new secrets about important paintings, and leaves us wondering what images might be hiding under the surface of Picasso’s other masterpieces.

"Woman Ironing" by Picasso

Celebrating the end of Artober

posted by – 10/25/12 @ 11:59am

With Artober coming to a close its time to reflect on all the ways that this celebration of culture has brought art and people together. As a culminating event,  Metro Arts is partnering with the Nashville Scene/Country Life Blog and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts to host an all day creative summit. Nash-Up: Remixing Nashville’s Arts, Culture and Creative Future will feature 3 different panels and a keynote who will help explore issues of Nashville’s past and emerging creative identity through discussion and dialogue. This event will highlight the importance of creative participation within communities and Nashville’s changing artistic image. You can reserve a free ticket to the event here.

Possibility for a new creative gathering spot in Nashville

posted by – 10/17/12 @ 3:55pm

The ever rising support for artists in Nashville seems to be continuing full force. On the heels of the Fifth Avenue of the Arts groundbreaking last week and the announcement of the Ryman Lofts artists complex in September, another artistic development may soon be underway. According to the Tennessean, “a Nashville development group plans to acquire 7.5 acres across from the new Music City Center” and convert the property into a haven for all types of creative careers, from coders and digital gamers to artists. The developers hope to create an artistic gathering spot called Pantheon Park in what is soon to be a prime area across from the new convention center, outlining plans for things like a performance hall and recording studio on what will be a full-fledged “campus”. According to the Pantheon Park website, it “will be a focal point and gathering space for members of Nashville’s creative class”. Though the description of the project seems more geared towards those involved with the technological industries, artistic gathering places are certainly always welcome in Nashville.

The full article is available here.

Contemporary Art Prices Reach New Heights

posted by – 10/16/12 @ 11:56am

German artist Gerhard Richter recently became the most expensive living artist when his work sold for a record-breaking price at the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction this past Friday in London. Richter has evolved his style markedly over his nearly 60-year career as a painter, ranging from photorealist styles to colorful abstractions. It was one of the latter series, “Abstract Painting (809-4)”, that broke records Friday night. The work was sold by Eric Clapton for a whopping $34.2 million dollars. Richter used a squeegee to layer and drip the brightly colored paint over the canvas. At over 6-feet tall, this is certainly a very impressive work. While the record may come as a surprise during this time of financial crisis and a struggling economy, it seems like the demand for masterpiece works of art remains as strong as ever. Other paintings by Richter fetched steady prices as well, and even more of his works will be offered at the upcoming auctions in New York in November. It will certainly be interesting to see whether the demand for Richter’s work will continue at this level in the future .

Richter, "Abstract Painting (809-4)", 1994


Old Masters Re-Imagined

posted by – 10/11/12 @ 11:07am

Contemporary art is often about pushing boundaries, innovating, and coming up with new and original concepts. Sometimes however artists choose to address historical themes, drawing inspiration from artistic traditions that came before them. Many contemporary artists reference Old Masters in their work, both to show that they are still relevant today and to critique issues in the art historical tradition. One example comes from photographer Awol Erizku, an Ethiopian born artist who re-imagines Old Master paintings with African-American models in contemporary settings. Leonard da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine becomes a modern day woman sitting with a pit bull. Seeing this classic work in a new light reminds us just how much white artists, using only white models, have dominated art history. In this way, the work is reminiscent of Carrie Mae Weems’ commentaries on the marginalization of African American and female artists. While our society has come to accept the dominant narrative of art history, it is important to question and challenge this history, which excludes so many.

More fascinating examples of Old Master works re-imagined can be found at

Carrie Mae Weems’ show “Three Decades of Photography and Video” is on at the Frist until January 13th.

"Lady with an Ermine" by Leonardo da Vinci

"Lady with a Pitbull" by Awol Erizku

Buying Braque and Matisse at Costco

posted by – 10/10/12 @ 3:04pm

On a visit over fall break last weekend, my nearly seventy-nine year old grandmother told me she had recently gone on her very first trip to Costco with two friends who were regulars.  After trekking up to 117th Street on the East side of Manhattan expecting deals on things like paper towels sold in bulk, she was confused to find $100,000 pieces of diamond jewelry on display. I was surprised to hear this too, and even more so when I came across several recent articles in the New York Times and the Huffington Post about Costco’s forays into the fine art market. In my mind, Costco is associated with things like huge bags of frozen dumplings bought for class camping trips and glass bottles of Mexican Coke made with real sugar. But with artists whose works are displayed in places like MOMA and the Met?

According to one of the articles, the “Home and Décor” heading on the Costco homepage leads one to the “Fine Art” section. This page currently lists ten pieces ranging from $630 – $1700, all already sold, including lithographs by Georges Braque, Andy Warhol, and Henri Mattisse. With just a click to add it to your basket, a quick 5-7 day delivery time, and a generous 90 day return policy, it’s never been easier to have a genuine Warhol appear at your doorstep with no chance of buyer’s remorse. But while I’m always a proponent of easy access to art, having art sold by the same vast warehouse known more for items like laundry detergent than for paintings seems a little detracting from the full experience.

Though Costco may provide a very easy way to procure art, purchasing art in a real gallery seems a bit more fulfilling. What about the vital parts of the experience like actually looking at the piece in person, having someone readily available to answer your questions, and gaining exposure to other pieces or artists? As my grandmother remarked on her experience, “If you’re going to spend that much money, do you really want to present it to someone in a Costco box?”

"Figure" by Georges Braque (Taken from Costco website)



The Existential Kiss

posted by – 10/02/12 @ 11:19am

We are looking forward to welcoming The Existential Kiss by Jack Hastings as part of his upcoming exhibition with Arlyn Ende. Hastings contemplated the work for 25 years before finally being inspired to cast it in bronze in order to ensure her permanence. The piece is a reference to the unanswerable questions about human existence. Elements such as the apple on her head and her ambiguous title add to the mysterious quality of the work. Hastings explains. “When I look at her in a certain lighting, I am reminded that the best possible use of our consciousness is to identify and align ourselves with the inexplicable life force that underlies our own.” The Existential Kiss is a masterpiece of Hastings career. Come see what you think of it when the show opens this weekend!

"The Existential Kiss" by Jack Hastings