How Should We Be Photographing Artwork?

An inevitable part of being an artist is having to take pictures of what you create, whether in order to digitally submit it for exhibitions or for promotional purposes. Unfortunately, people tend to be too sloppy when photographing artwork, and they often end up with photos that do no justice to the piece itself. This can easily cost the artist a potentially important step in their career as the piece can be overlooked simply because its photo was not up to par with its creative quality.

On the other hand, a good photograph of your art can severely increase your chances of getting into an exhibition or making that important sale, so it’s of vital importance to take good shots that will offer a mind-blowing first impression as well as display your overall professionalism.

So, although it may seem more like a chore of some kind, photographing artwork is necessary for both entering exhibits and selling work. However, since the process of photographing works of art is far from being straightforward and simple, we’re here to help you avoid all the common pitfalls preventing you from getting the absolute most out of your creation’s images.

A leap into space: Malevich’s Suprematist Composition

How this 1916 canvas, included in every major survey of Malevich’s Suprematist works mounted during his lifetime, revolutionised modern art. On 15 May it is offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale  in New York.

On 17 December 1915, a series of new paintings by the Russo-Polish artist Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935) was exhibited in the Dobychina Art Bureau in the recently renamed city of Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg). Unlike anything Malevich — or indeed any other modern painter — had done before, these geometric, completely abstract works were a shock to everyone who saw them. Indeed, they were so radically new that they seemed to many to announce the end of painting, and perhaps of art itself.

Malevich’s Suprematist Composition, painted in 1916, is one of the finest and most complex of these first revolutionary pictures. Composed of numerous coloured, geometric elements, it epitomises the artist’s vision of the world as he believed it would be experienced in a state of higher-dimensional, or ‘supreme’, consciousness. As in his other so-called ‘Suprematist’ pictures, this work does not seek to suggest a real or readily understandable image, but to articulate its own universe, brought into being purely through the act of painting.

How Is Western Art Really Faring in Asia? 3 Trendlines From Hong Kong’s Spring Auctions Reveal the Changing Market

Asian, postwar, and fine art are by far the most bankable categories in Hong Kong.

In recent years, Hong Kong has transformed in the eyes of the Western art industry. Formerly a destination that warranted attention primarily during Art Basel Hong Kong and a few scattered auctions, the region now hosts permanent spaces from many of the most powerful galleries in the world, while Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips are all seeking to expand their influence there in various ways.

So far, this season’s auction results suggest that the market’s steady expansion shows no sign of abating. Sotheby’s Hong Kong closed its main group of spring auctions on April 2 with $466.5 million in reported sales across all categories (and one epic, 40-minute bidding war). The vast majority of the total owed to continued strong performance in fine art sales, which generated just shy of $385 million.  While not an all-time high, that haul is among the highest since 2012 (the first year of data available from Hong Kong in the artnet Price Database).

Cy Twombly, Redefined by His Drawings

The gathering of works in Chelsea reconfigures the general sense of Twombly (1928-2011) as a lanky, slow-moving, ever-relaxed Southerner who worked in fits and starts and soaked up the good life on Italy’s Amalfi Coast or in Lexington, Va. — his birthplace, to which he returned in his later years. In its stead is a man driven by an almost demonic energy, who never stopped pushing and testing his aesthetic engine, drawing, making it ever bigger and more encompassing.

Paraphrasing Shakespeare, this show could be said to ask, “What’s in a line?” Everything: drawing, painting, language from vulgate to Olympian, mathematics, pictographs, architecture, writing in tongues, the body, the war between the sexes, myth and history, and nature, especially the sea.

Twombly was more traditional and more European, and not much of an appropriator, except in his sculpture. He also was not an urban artist, but a pastoral, romantic one — a lyric poet often inspired by nature who read omnivorously, breaking his experiences down, releasing them as a kind of visual music through the seismographic vibrations of his hand. He seems less drawn to transgressing the physical boundaries of media — although he does combine drawing and painting — than in expanding art’s capacity for direct emotional expression and radical vulnerability. It reverberates throughout this sumptuous show.

5 Post-War Italian Artists to Know

An essential introduction to Italy’s most collectible names ahead of April’s modern and contemporary art auctions in Milan.

Born in Turin in 1940, Alighiero Boetti is today recognized as one of Italy’s most important conceptual artists, and was a leading figure in the Arte Povera movement that revolutionized contemporary art at the end of the 1960s. As a teenager, he dropped out of business school to pursue art, discovering work by painters including the German artist Wols and creating oil paintings whose thick impasto resembled the works of Nicolas de Stael.

In the 1960s, after a period spent living in Paris, Boetti returned to his hometown of Turin, joining a close-knit circle of artists that included Michelangelo Pistoletto and Lucio Fontana. Together, they founded Arte Povera, or ‘poor art’ — a term coined in 1967 by art critic Germano Clement, to describe the group’s use of abandoned industrial materials and everyday objects. Boetti’s unconventional materials included biro pens and the postal system, addressing letters to himself from various cities in Italy.

Boetti’s earlier postal-system set the tone for works that followed, which returned to geography and systems of classification. Among his most famous series is Mappa: a series of embroidered world maps which, from their beginning in 1967 until Boetti’s death in 1994, charted the changing positions of countries following geopolitical crises.


Cy Twombly and the Transporting, Transforming Power of Art That Barely Uses the Tools of Art

The first time I saw Cy Twombly’s aphrodisiacal paintings, I felt the way Patti Smith felt when first hearing the Rolling Stones: “I was doing all my thinking between my legs.” Something unrecognizable and distorted within me quivered. Twombly’s fevered phosphorescent blooms of runny jellyfish chrysanthemums with elongated, pulpy, tentacle-like sacks dripping down; his iridescent storms of inchoate cryptographic scribbles, floral scrawls, jittery jutting lines; pustules rising and falling like raw nerve endings, flying vagina dentata, plaited anuses, priapic phalli spouting involuntarily or drooping defenseless, and what his closest reader, MoMA’s late Kirk Varnedoe, called “anteater tongues” — all of it metamorphosed into my own inner Kama Sutra of urge. Sensory networks lit up; a new barometer fluctuated. It was abstract yet explicitly erotic. I was in voluptuous rut. But something like gravitas and immensity was preponderant within me, too.

Somehow, by deploying only the barest rudiments of art — jots, dots, lines, doodles, dashes, loops, scribbles, scratches, little glyphs, weird ruins, rising Gothic skeleton structures, ziggurats, wobbly frame shapes, and (perhaps more effectively than any Western artist who ever lived) hard-to-read handwritten words and phrases, whole poems, and the names of ancient poets and places — Twombly has been able to make an art that rises to the level of epic poetry and fills you up with the sweep of history and fiction. He’s one of the few 20th-century painters who produces some of the same capacious sensations we get while reading Virgil, Homer, Sappho, Keats, and others. A silent sonorous world opened. Twombly brings mythos and antiquity together with Smith’s “thinking between my legs,” and an undertow of the elemental interiority and abjection of Francis Bacon.

How to Tell if an Artwork is Fake

Confirming the authenticity of an artwork crucial before buying. We give 5 key factors to consider and uncover some of the most shocking forgery cases in art history

The notion of a forger conjures up a the image of a cartoonish criminal painting a knock-off da Vinci in some kind of darkened attic. But many forgers are frustrated artists in their own right, struggling to make a living by imitating others.

In fact, before he became an acclaimed Renaissance artist, Michelangelo made his money forging ancient Roman sculptures. He created a sculpture out of marble, intentionally broke it and then buried it in a garden. He later dug up the sculpture, claiming he had discovered a lost Roman antique, and sold it to an unsuspecting Cardinal. Years later, the Cardinal discovered the sculpture was fake, but rather than chastise Michelangelo or revoke his payment, the Cardinal recognized the genius talent the young artist possessed, and invited him to Rome, where his career soon blossomed.

The quiet genius of Vancouver’s Patkau Architects

Two of Canada’s greatest designers have made a brilliant new building. Why aren’t they eager to tell you about it?

“Underneath, it’s very quiet and dour,” says John Patkau. “But when the light hits it a certain way, it shimmers.” Mr. Patkau and his wife and fellow architect, Patricia, are walking around their latest project, the Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver. And as they’re talking about the building, the sun comes out from behind the clouds; the rays coax from the gallery’s steel and aluminum facades a subtle ripple. “It acts with the light,” Ms. Patkau says of the building. “It changes dramatically, depending on when and where you’re looking at it.”

You could say the same about Patkau Architects. Long based in Vancouver, the couple have held a place among Canada’s most accomplished architects, recognized by international critics and awarded a series of major buildings including Montreal’s Grande Bibliothèque. And yet, even in their adopted hometown, they remain in the shadows. Nobody better represents the tensions in Canadian architecture between greatness and commerce, between public triumph and the quiet private life.

Bean There, Done That: Houston Gets a Precursor of Chicago’s Shiny Anish Kapoor

“I think much more than ‘Cloud Gate,’ ‘Cloud Column’ is meant specifically to capture the heavens and bring them down to earth” .

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) unveiled a new outdoor sculpture on Monday, a monumental reflective piece by Anish Kapoor that immediately brings to mind his iconic “Cloud Gate” in Chicago, more widely known as “The Bean.” The sculpture, known as “Cloud Column,” now stands on the newly developed plaza of the museum’s teaching institute, the Glassell School of Art. Never before displayed in public, “Cloud Column” is actually a precursor to “Cloud Gate,” and it stands upright rather than curve over the ground.

Damien Hirst Falling Off The Grid – Houghton Hall – Paul Carter Robinson

Last week I was a guest at the magnificent Houghton Hall, one of the most impressive Palladian houses in Britain. This is a house steeped in history and surprisingly still in the hands of the original descendants of Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of Britain.

Houghton Hall with its lavish interior design and detailing slightly overshadows Hirst’s spot paintings, but never the less by having so many installed in the grand rooms they become a focal point competing favourably with the surroundings. Think of the way contemporary art shines in the rooms of grand palaces between the covers of old issues of Architectural Digest and you have the essence of this fine display. Hirst has returned to painting spots loosely onto the canvas. Some are similar to his very first spot paintings with actual physical signs of paint, texture and drips. Others are in a Pointillist style and were likely painted by Hirst himself.

My all-time favourite Hirst figure is included in the exhibition. ‘Charity’ a sculpture modelled on one of the 1960s uncomfortably named ‘Spastic Society’ collection boxes, appears crowbarred open with the coins spilling out on the pavement. This is installed in a courtyard of outbuildings which intensifies the scale.

My trip to Houghton Hall each year is somewhat of a treat, for this jaded culture writer. With Hirst’s work love it or loathe it you can’t ignore it. It is firmly centred in the 1990s always a loud statement or soundbite. It is playful and often garishly irresistible. It is art for new money but does it work surrounded by old money? Yes, I can confirm it does.

Cy Twombly’s Extravagant Synesthesia

Rosalind Krauss misreads Twombly in more ways than I can enumerate.

In her essay, “Cy was here: Cy’s up” (ArtForum, September 1994), Rosalind Krauss made this observation about Cy Twombly:

Twombly “misreads” Pollock’s mark as graffiti, as violent, as a type of antiform. And this misreading becomes the basis of all of Twombly’s work. Thus he cannot write “Virgil” on a painting and mean it straight. “Virgil” is there as something a bored or exasperated school-child would carve into a desktop, a form of sniggering, a type of retaliation against the teacher’s drone.

This reading of Twombly fits in with the commonplace critical narrative that the past is dead, and that it is only good for appropriation and ironic commentary but not much else. Krauss’s condescension towards Twombly is evident in her use of the descriptors, “bored or exasperated schoolchild.” In her neat hierarchical construction — a negative way of thinking that is recurrent in criticism and politics — Jackson Pollock resides at the top of the food chain while Twombly sits, at best, somewhere in the middle.

Krauss is not alone in her need to construct hierarchies. There are still lots of critics, curators, and artists content to ally themselves with established viewpoints as well as assert for the umpteenth time that painting and drawing are things that have been used up, that they are old threadbare coats that should been thrown out long ago. This is capitalist aesthetics in a nutshell — everything is disposable.

Damien Hirst’s Post-Venice, Post-Truth World

The artist worked in secret on his first love, painting, for his new show. This is the anti-Venice, he says.

LOS ANGELES — In army green camouflage and black sweats and with two heavy gold chains swinging with each step of his Nikes, Damien Hirst was in an unusually quiet mood.

Sipping from a can of Diet Coke at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, his jeweled fingers shining, the artist craned to watch as his last nine-foot canvas was installed. Mr. Hirst is used to directing a legion of assistants, but on this day he was pensive.

After so many years relying on others, every one of the works in his new series of “Veil Paintings” was done by his hand and his alone, he said. Twenty-four huge oil works in splashes of blood red, electric blue and rich gold are his homage to the glorious color harmonies by the post-Impressionist Pierre Bonnard. Their meaning?

“I make it up after the fact,” Mr. Hirst said. “I don’t even know what this kind of work is. They make me happy, they feel good to look at, they sort of confuse me.” Maybe the public is too busy trying to pin down one meaning, he mused. Maybe there is none. “Truth’s quite hard to find these days.”

Team Gallery’s Jose Freire on Why He Is Quitting Art Fairs for Good – Part I

The veteran art dealer explains why he has soured on the art market’s central apparatus.

The central driver of the modern-day art market, at least when it comes to galleries, is art fairs. They promise efficiency: for a hefty booth fee (plus travel and shipping costs), dealers from around the world can convene in a lucrative faraway region for a chance to sell lots of work over a short span of days to a churning swirl of eager collectors, the sales equivalent of fish in a barrel.

In recent years, these frenetic events have grown ever more important, offering increasingly busy art professionals and their clients a chance to socialize, exchange ideas, and hoover up information about new directions in art with such streamlined speed that it has begun to displace other traditional avenues, like going to the brick-and-mortar galleries themselves.

Some dealers, especially the biggest ones, find this to be an immensely rewarding system. Others, especially smaller operations like Team Gallery, have begun to find them a losing bet. That’s why, after a final appearance at Art Basel Hong Kong later this month, Team founder Jose Freire says he will never do another art fair again.


Answering Society’s Thorniest Questions, With Performance Art

Pope.L, photographed in his Chicago studio this past December. For the last four decades, the artist has created intense, often provocative performances.

Now that he is not only an artist of renown but also a father and a professor, Pope.L’s ambivalence about his own authority hasn’t abated. If anything, his responsibilities have made him feel more vulnerable. He recounts a memory that still rattles him: the night his son, then in nursery school, declared, “I’m good like Mommy. I’m white. Not like you.” The artist pauses. “I didn’t know what to say to him — he’s this young little creature, we’re standing there brushing our teeth — but I knew I needed to talk to him about it right then. And I said, ‘Well, where did you hear that?’ and he says it again: ‘I don’t know. I’m good like Mommy, I’m white. Not like you.’ And I said, ‘Well, I love you, don’t I?’ He says, ‘Yeah.’ ‘And you love me, don’t you?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘So how does this work?’ Now that he’s older, he’s much more savvy, so I don’t know if he tells me everything he hears. I think he wants to be protective of his family.”

Allan Kaprow, Before the Happenings

Considered the Father of the Happening, Kaprow started off as a painter whose work reflected a Cubist-inspired, pre-AbEx aesthetic.

In his essay for the catalogue accompanying the exhibition ALLAN KAPROW. PAINTINGS NEW YORK at Hauser & Wirth’s uptown outpost, art historian Philip Ursprung describes Kaprow’s progression from painting to performance in three swift strokes:

The story began in the 1950s when Kaprow relinquished the norms established in panel painting by implementing collages of photographs, texts, objects, and mirror fragments to expand the pictorial space. In 1958, he created his first environment, in which canvas, newspaper, tar paper, sheets of transparent plastic, colored lamps, and sounds created a space that the visitors could immerse themselves in. In 1959, he presented the first Happening with the title 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, a series of short performances in an environment where the breaks were as long as the performances.

Kaprow (1927-2006) coined the term “Happening,” but he didn’t invent the genre of performance art, which can be traced back to the antics of the Dadaist and Futurists at the beginning of the 20th century. (The honors for the first Happening have been ascribed to the Fluxus artist —and Kaprow’s future-fellow-Rutgers-professor (and grandfather of the musician Beck) — Al Hansen, who more than a decade earlier threw a piano off the roof of a building in Frankfurt, Germany.)

Young Painters Are Trying to Kill Me, Says the German Artist Albert Oehlen—But He’s Cool With It

As his new paintings and drawings go on view in Los Angeles and Berlin, the artist reflects on his experience as a young artist in Berlin in the ’70s.

Albert Oehlen is something of a living legend. He might be 63, but his reputation as an enfant terrible remains. There’s something eternally youthful about the German painter, who first came to prominence in the 1980s and, along with his partners in crime Martin Kippenberger and Werner Büttner, redefined what painting could be. Earlier this month, TASCHEN published an epically sized Oehlen monograph featuring 400 works, a survey of the abstract painter’s extraordinary career so far.

artnet News spoke to Oehlen ahead of the opening of his two-person exhibition at the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles on March 1, which places his work alongside that of his former student, the New York-based Peppi Bottrop. Meanwhile, in Berlin, Oehlen is showing new paintings and drawings at Galerie Max Hetzler alongside the work of Julian Schnabel in an exhibition opening on March 14.

100 Years of Dadaism – Influence and Genius of the First Avant-Garde Art Movement

I could have done that” is a cynical statement that I’m sure we’ve all come across at some point. Some artists occasionally feel invited to respond rudely to the dilettantish comment (and sadly, very often with the similar amount of ignorance). The truth is that there was a series of events that preceded the multivalent character of art today, and ultimately led to these kinds of comments. That is why it is absolutely essential to understand the context of the time in which a movement, or an idea, starts to exist. The aspects of art that still, after all of these years, confuse people who are not that well informed, are mere consequences of very deliberate actions from the past. Today, saying that art isn’t art sounds arrogant, predictable and even worse, mediocre. But in 1916 in Zurich, it was a completely different story.

Marcel Duchamp

If you were to make a list of who you believe are the most controversial artists in history, the name of Marcel Duchamp would be topping many of the lists. He was a French painter, sculptor, writer and a master chess player whose work is often associated with Dadaism and branches of conceptual art, although he does not really seem to fully fit with neither of the two. Duchamp is considered by many to be responsible for the 20th century’s change in perception of what art is and how art is made. We believe it’s appropriate to start this biography by quoting Marcel himself: You cannot define electricity. The same can be said of art. It is a kind of inner current in a human being, or something which needs no definition.

Performance Art and its Journey to Recognition

We could start the journey of performance art as we know it today in Ancient Greece, where philosopher Diogenes used his body as a medium in performative acts which purposefully stated his opinion inside the public space – by pretending to be a dog (cynic), living in a barreldisregarding Alexander The Great by telling him to move away and stand out of his light.[1] Moving on to the 16th century Iberian Peninsula, poets are autonomously presenting their art through live acts which connect visual arts, music and literature inside the public space. In the 19th century, we find romantics invading cemeteries and dishonoring corpses so they can recite poetry to the dead.

It can be seen that all these mentioned acts happened outside the gallery space, as a necessary part of life, before the “official” beginning of performance art which dates to 1909 as a part of the Futurist avant-garde – based on the most important art-historical research written on this topic, Performance: Live Art 1909 to the Present, by the leading art historian and curator in this field, RoseLee Goldberg.

10 Famous Installation Artists Whose Work You Have to Know

In a plethora of different forms and styles, the emergence of installation artists has changed the face of art. Involving the configuration of installation of objects in a space, installation artpresents a unified experience practiced by an increasing number of postmodernist artists. Mostly temporary, installation art draws the viewer in, engaging them in multiple ways and making them a part of the art. In this way, art becomes something you can touch, hear, feel or smell.

Often associated with found objects and Conceptual Art, the earliest form of this avant-garde movement was referred to as the environment, which was started by the American artist Allan Kaprow in 1957. Referring to his first installation, Kaprow stated in a 1965 interview: “I just simply filled the whole gallery up…When you opened the door you found yourself in the midst of an entire environment…The materials were varied: sheets of plastic, crumpled up cellophane, tangles of Scotch tape, sections of slashed and daubed enamel and pieces of colored cloth…five tape machines spread around the space played electronic sounds which I had composed”.