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Edgar Degas’ love for the ballet is prominently featured in his body of work and one of his most iconic works is “The Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer”.  This piece has been reproduced in all mediums and has served as an artistic inspiration for artists and dancers around the world.

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Edgar Degas, Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen at the Norton Simon in Pasadena

The Kennedy Center will bring the story behind Little Dancer to life in a musical directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman.  The piece will be performed by Tony award-winning performers and a principal dancer from the NYC Ballet.  Tonight the Guggenheim features a panel discussion about the musical and inspiration behind it.

Degas’ Little Dancer is one of my favorite bronzes.  I simply liked the piece, and never knew its history.  My initial reaction to his work was that I remember being struck by the way Degas captured the fluidity of movement.  In Little Dancer however, the rawness of her facial expression juxtaposed with the strength of her carriage was always so striking.

No Pressure, No Diamonds. ~Thomas Carlyle

No Grit, No Pearl ~ Anon

I want to peel back a few layers of the Little Dancer that I found interesting. The first is not too surprising: When Degas’ originally showed the wax mold of Little Dancer in 1881 it was met with the extreme, unrelenting criticism at the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition.  Critics found Degas’ use of clothing and hair to adorn the sculpture cast “ugly and degenerate” ; many derided the physical features of the subject, calling her a “flower of the gutter”.

Edgar Degas, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen

Edgar Degas, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen

I find this critique interesting because it sits square at the center of the dichotomy of the cultural zeitgeist at the time.  Degas’ chose to feature all aspects of Parisian life during the Belle Époque, including the economic underclass necessary to maintain the affluence of the wealthy elite.  The Paris Opera Ballet was a mirror reflecting both of these worlds.  Many dancers were plucked from underprivileged families who saw ballet as a gateway to a better life.  The career track for these dancers was quite limited.  They performed and frequently became mistresses to wealthy male benefactors.

Degas’ muse for Little Dancer was Marie von Goethem, a 14-year-old daughter of a deceased father and a laundress.  Her mother sent her to the Paris Opera Ballet at 13 in hopes that she would find a better life and escape a life of poverty.  The act of artistically revealing this very unseemly aspect of the Belle Époque in lieu of the gilded, pristine facade of the ruling class, was viewed as an anathema to critics.

Tonight’s panel discussion along with excerpts of the musical will be live streamed on the Guggenheim’s website. The museum will also host extended hours to view some of Degas’ works exhibited in the Thannhauser Gallery.  I’m looking forward to learning more through this musical and discussion!

http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/calendar-and-events/2014/10/05/the-kennedy-center-little-dancer-with-susan-stroman/3948

 

 

 

 

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I didn’t know what direction I should go into to describe Andy Warhol’s Shadows series.  This single work composed between 1978-1979 is comprised of 102 paintings designed to take the viewer on a journey of light and space.  While it is easy to simply write off this ambitious work as a single image painted 102 times, I found it to be an interesting self referential piece that shines a light on the man behind the artist.

When I look at things, I always see the space they occupy. I always want the space to reappear, to make a comeback, because it’s lost space when there’s something in it.”

Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol from A to B and Back Again

IMG 8317 from CultureShockArt on Vimeo.

In Shadows, Warhol took photos of two images in his studio at varying light levels.  From those pictures Warhol painted 102 panels representing how light and shadow distinctly influenced each painting.  It’s a moody piece that reads as a pictorial diary of the factory studio.  If these walls could have talked they would regale us with tales on the legendary “happenings” that took place among the bevy of artists, musicians, drag queens, drug users, socialites, shady hanger-ons, bankers and bums that were a part of the Warhol Superstars;  instead, we have an abstract work that invites us to imagine the circumstances that inspired the individual works.

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Looking at the intricate differences among the panels it became easier to see how physical and emotional environments could have shaped their artistic variance. In some the acrylic paint forming the base of each piece is the focal point, in others the silkscreened process is dominant, and in many there is a harmonious balance.  Similarly, the colorways, brush strokes and paint layering assume an energy that appeared to be either influenced by or reflective of the psyche of the artist and his environment.  There were distinctly Warholian pops of saturated color amidst muted tones and grey/black paintings.  One panel shows the hazy diffused light reminscient of an overcast day but the next panel featured the same haze but the brush strokes were decidedly more manic.  The three categories of color wove their way through the entire work in a decidedly un-patterned pattern.

The work is considered an important bridge between the two poles of his career in pop art transitioning into the abstract.

That’s why I think this work is probably more important than it’s surface view suggests. As Warhol’s work pivoted to abstraction during this time, the meaning behind the piece is veiled leading many to distill this work into a study of light, but to me the shadows hide more than they reveal.

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Leo Castelli (w/ Warhol in the background) at the opening of Shadows in 1979. Photo Credit: Archives of American Art

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

Warhol carefully curated his public persona as the free wheeling ring leader of his own circus, and I think his foray into abstraction was a way to harmonize his public persona with his inner self.  By turning a light onto his figurative and personal shadows, he breathed life and emotion into them.  Whether or not that served as catharsis to the artist is completely unknown.

Andy Warhol’s Shadows are on view through February 2, 2015 at MOCA Grand in Los Angeles.

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As thousands of people made the trek home from SXSW armed with a cadre of musical experiences designed to put them on the cutting edge of what the masses won’t be taking about musically for another 6 months from now, I took a trek back into time.  A couple of weeks ago I was record shopping with my favorite producer, who gave me a challenge.  He asked me to pick one album from an artist I had never heard of before based solely on the album cover.  No advance listening, no Googling of the album or artist.  We would take the album home and find out what we’ve got.

Many of our vinyl excursions end up like this and always we’re surprised by what we get.

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The album I picked stuck out to me for a few reasons.  First off there was so much going on here with the Chairmen of the Board with the Flute, Maracas, blue polyester suits and hexagonal glasses.  Then I looked at the back cover and the graphics reminded me of Ellsworth Kelly.  So I had a musical hodgepodge featured on the front and cool color blocking on the back.  It spoke to all of my creative sensibilities!

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Ellsworth Kelly, “Red, Green, Blue”. Photo Credit: Walker Art Center

“In Session” was produced on Invictus Records in 1970 and was the second album by Chairmen of the Board.  Invictus was the first label to first spin-off of Motown and their sound was heavily prominent in this album.  The Chairmen of the Board was the label’s marquee group, who had their first album hit with “Give Me Just a Little More Time”, (which was tragically resurrected in a Swiffer ad).  “In Session” fused bluesy gritty guitar riffs with classic Motown R&B strings and psychedelic baselines. Turns out this second album produced 4 chart topping singles, but none of them eclipsed the popularity of their first hit single.

I think my favorite song was the “Everything is Tuesday”, with “Hanging On to a Memory” being a close second.  I learned much more about Motown and Invictus Records than I had known before, and got an interesting peek into the record industry in the 70’s. There’s a Documentary called “Band of Gold” that gives a deep dive into the industry that spawned Invictus.  Interesting stuff.  So this album took me on a musical journey that I would never have embarked upon.  Trust your creative instincts and take a chance on something you might not normally listen to, you just might be surprised at what you learn.

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IMG_5165Whew!  Before I look forward to 2014 (and I must say, it cannot come soon enough), I thought I’d take a quick look back on my digital footprints and share my favorite CultureShockArt moments of 2013.  So I picked 5 posts from Twitter, Instagram, WordPress and Pinterest that were either popular, or made me squeal, “Eep eep! Such and so acknowledged my existence!”  Yes, I find that these situations render me as a 12 year old girl wearing 3 Swatch watches and L.A. Gears but hey, such is the magic that is the internet.

#5- HuffPo and my MOCA musings

For the most part on Twitter I feel like that one crazy aunt or uncle who sits in the corner at family gatherings shouting bizarre non-sequiturs to nobody in particular.  Once in a while a random post will illicit a response from someone, and I go completely starstruck when it is a celebrity, museum or a blogger I admire (yes, I get starstruck over museums and bloggers too).  So back in March when I wrote this post about some Los Angeles MOCA drama (and we had our fair share of it this year), little did I know HuffPo Arts would post it in their “Twitter reactions” gallery at the end of one of their articles.  The Art Girl geek in me came out when I saw my snark displayed amongst some of my favorite arts writers.

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#4  Orange Crush

I was extremely late to the Instagram party, but once I dove in I took to it like a fish to water.  Strange enough, IG has taught me to keep my eyes open, not for photo ops, but to be more observant of my surroundings.  I now find my head in the clouds…appreciating them more than daydreaming.  At one point I had color phases when I would be obsessed with certain hues that would dominate my wardrobe, nail polish, handbag selection, you name it.  First orange, then lilac, then red… On this particular day in April I was laughing at the budding collection of all things “Orange” on my desk and snapped a pic of it.  Well, when Caroline Issa, editor of Tank magazine (and one of my style ICONS), emoji’ed her reactions to some of my pics, I was thrilled beyond belief!  I still really love this photo, but not as much as the oodles of shots I take of my napping dogs who deserve their own Instagram account.

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#3  My 15 Minutes Seconds of Fame

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The Warhol Museum is responsible for driving the most traffic on a single day to my humble little blog.  In August when I posted a reaction to an op ed piece about how a writer hates museums, the Warhol Museum noticed and linked my article to their website and Tweeted it to their followers.  I was forever grateful for pub and encouragement.  There are so many museums out there that are using social media to engage with their audiences in smart ways and the Warhol is near the top of the list.  THANK YOU Warhol Museum for taking the time to notice and show some blogger love.

 

#2 “What’s Your Bag?”
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If I had a nickel for every time I got this question this year, I’d be able to afford 3 more of her bags!  This by far was the most talked about handbag in my collection this year.  It started many a random conversation in stores, restaurants, airport security screening lines, meetings, and an awkardly funny encounter with actor, writer and producer Issa Rae (we have the same bag).  So I wrote a post about bag obsession–not necessarily the bag itself, but what’s inside it.

When the designer pinned this picture on their Pinterest site, it drove crazy amounts of traffic to my blog.  Nice!  It’s also one of the most pinned photos on their site. (Really nice). Everybody wins, right?!

 

#1 The Sphinx and the Cronut

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Of all my posts this year, this one cracks me up the most!  The Banksy mania that overtook NYC in August was slightly outdone by the city’s obsession with the Cronut.  I had to find a way to mash these two phenomena together.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who got the connection.

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Pulitzer Prize winning food writer Jonathan Gold sent me a message on Twitter saying he loved my Banksy post!  I have to say it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Despite all this name dropping and validation seeking, what I find most rewarding are the new experiences this blog has shown me.  I saw some wonderful exhibits and met some amazing artists, writers, designers and bloggers this year who took me on an inspirational journey beyond the keyboard.  For that I am truly grateful, and I am especially thankful for all of my readers who have shown their support and encouragement to me in 2013.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I wish you all the best in the New Year.

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I love transparent resin sculptures, and I particularly love Fred Eversley’s reflective optical lens work.  They are so striking.

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Fred Eversley, Untitled. Photo Credit: ArtSlant

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Fred Eversley, Photo Credit:            Fred Eversley Sculpture

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Photo Credit: Fred Eversley Sculpture

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Photo Credit: Vogue Italy

Fantasy is powerful…everybody can’t handle it in big doses, but you can try little bits at a time.”-Iris Apfel @ the Met.

I’m not one to follow starlets, but as a self-proclaimed “Geriatric Starlet”, Iris Apfel has such a unique, self-aware, no-nonsense point of view, I feel like I have found a kindred spirit.  Maybe it’s because she grew up an only child, like me…Plus, I admire her love for accessories paired with simple, impeccably styled, architectural clothing, and she knows how to wear some glasses.  The 90 year old’s iconic black specs (that look like hula hoops on frames) inspired a generation of art world aficionados (my husband and I like to count the Apfel look a likes at art shows).  I secretly covet a pair but amazingly enough, my eyes are just too big for glasses like that.  Trends aren’t for everyone, and was one of her tidbits of style advice given during a fascinating panel discussion moderated by Judith Thurman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Apfel shared some lovely stories about personal style, inspiration, and self-confidence.  “Personal style is curiosity about oneself.” (source unknown).  She also discussed the importance of not being a slave to trends.  “You can’t be trendy and have personal style” when you look like everyone else.

This interview is a good glimpse into Apfel’s history. She’s having one hell of a year, and I think it’s great to see the fashion world embrace and respect the living history that inspires generations to come.

Update 8/24/2012:  So, I’ve decided it’s a good week to be a stylish 90+ year old!  Check out this post/interview by Garance Dore today. The resemblance is uncanny!

http://www.garancedore.fr/en/2012/08/24/doris/comment-page-2/

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The Los Angeles Art Show is one of many events scheduled during LA’s Arts Month. This January, visitors and natives alike partake in the city’s many cultural offerings from Photo LA, the LA Phil, the Affordable Art Fair, Pacific Standard Time and the much-anticipated Los Angeles Art Show.  Perhaps it is the heady variety of cultural offerings competing for patrons, but sadly this year’s show was sparsely attended.  While this fact was slightly disappointing to some of the Gallery owners in attendance, it meant that if you were lucky to go to the show not only did you have direct access to some great galleries spanning the globe, you were more likely to strike a deal or two on some pieces.

The show was divided into two sections:  one Historic/Traditional and the other Modern/Contemporary.  I spent the majority of my time in the Modern/Contemporary wing during Wednesday’s Premier Party and on Saturday afternoon.

I sat in on a very interesting panel discussion about the Los Angeles Art Market and collecting, and I was very interested in Dean Valentine’s take on collecting.  Valentine has been an avid collector since 1996 and focuses his acquisitions on young emerging talent vs. established blue chip artists.  While he certainly has the resources for both types he focuses on works that connect to him emotionally vs trying to build an investment portfolio out of his collection.  Valentine is also a member of the Board of Overseers at the Hammer Museum and has recently acquired space at the Pacific Design Center to highlight select works from his collection (which I am looking forward to see very soon).

I decided that if I had the opportunity to curate a small museum or gallery, I would have gone for the following pieces I spotted yesterday at the LA Art Show.  Here’s a virtual tour of my “little” dream museum. It would have 3 galleries:  “La Rue” (for Street and Neo Pop), Four Corners (Global Contemporary), and Industrial (for artists that choose to produce their art using apprentices-this will be a subject of a much longer post in the future). Ok here we go:

LA RUE:

"Temptation", Speedy Graphito c/o Denis Bloch Fine Art

I was immediately drawn to this piece at the show.  I love fusions of street art and pop culture references.  Speedy’s work is filled with this amalgam of styles.

Cameron Gray, c/o Segal Projects

Cameron Gray is a Los Angeles artist whose background is in computer graphics.  Digital representations of his work do not do them justice as each piece is composed using a collage of individually painted square blocks.  In this series of work, Gray recreates classics (as in the Van Gogh portrait above) using this technique.  His technology background is useful in this medium, as each piece is mapped out on computer before it is finally composed.

FOUR CORNERS (Global Contemporary):

"Everyday Saints", Young June Lew c/o Andrew Bae Gallery

"Crowd", Elisabett Gudmann & Kirk H Slaughter

"Meditative Mermaid", Cecilia Paredes c/o Salt Fine Art

I had the great pleasure of meeting Artist Francisco Bugallo who I raved about last year.  He recently created some stunning resin w0rks that appear to be floating in the frame.  The grouping was a study on Michelangelo and I adored the work shown by Galeria Moro from Venezuela.  They were one of my favorite galleries (my camera fails to capture the essence of his work).

Francisco Bugallo Resin series

INDUSTRIAL (Art as Machine):

The artists I would showcase in the “Industrial” wing of my virtual museum would be those artists who are/were known for utilizing assistants to create their work.  This is a subject of great debate as recent stories have been published about David Hockney’s very public criticism of Hirst’s practice.  Love them or hate them they have all reaped critical and financial acclaim as shrewd businessmen and artists.  This camp includes Warhol, Hirst, Koons, Shepard Fairey and Takashi Murakami to name a few. It’s a dynamic that fascinates me, so I naturally was drawn to these works:

"The Souls" series, Damien Hirst, c/o Paul Stolper Gallery

"The Souls", Damien Hirst, c/o Paul Stolper Gallery

Seen individually, the foil-block butterfly prints stand on their own, but the way Paul Stolper grouped them in his stark white, brightly lit space on the show’s floor was absolutely stunning. The space looked like a semiconductor cleanroom, it was impeccable.

Hirst, Warhol, and Koons, Denis Bloch Fine Art

Last but not least, I spent a great deal of time in the Denis Bloch space.  They had an incredibly diverse representation of work but on this one small unassuming wall contained the trifecta of Contemporary powerhouses.  I simply wanted to just cut this wall and transport it to my home.  Hirst’s diamond dust skull is so oddly captivating.  The Warhol was a copy of one of his early shows at the Leo Castelli Gallery in NY.  Lastly Koons’ Balloon Dog is a recreation of the larger scale piece that is at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

That’s it for my virtual tour and recap of the show.

I met some amazing artists, gallerists and art enthusiasts over the last 3 days.  I learned a lot and had a ball!  Of course, now I’m thinking about how I can get to NY’s Armory Show in March… :)

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