art

Posted by Ellen

His father was Joe Egg, an Alsatian gunsmith. His older brother was George Egg, who inherited the Egg gunworks in London. He was Augustus Leopold Egg, born in 1816 and endowed with a moniker that could have come from the pages of Dickens, who, it just so happened, was a good buddy of his.

Augustus Egg spurned gunsmithing and took up art. This morning, we are treated to two Egg works: above, his best known painting, The Travelling Companions (1862), and below, a sample of his early, humorous, storytelling style, Queen Elizabeth Discovers She is No Longer Young (1848).

The word generally used to describe Travelling Companions is ambiguous. The two women in the railway carriage are very nearly identical; do they in fact represent different facets of the same person's life or character? Indolence and industry, perhaps? Or is the sleeping woman dreaming up her bookish companion? Or are they simply what they appear to be, identical twins on a long train ride? And why are they both oblivious to the spectacular scenery of the French Riviera that glows outside their window?

Queen Elizabeth is much more straightforward. In fact, the painting itself pretty much says everything there is to say about Augustus Egg's historical imagination.

Posted by Ellen

Why I Hate Self-Portraits (2009), by Dwayne Wilcox.

Wilcox, of Oglala/Lakota heritage, works with colored pencils on vintage lined paper in the tradition of ledger art, recalling the days when artists living on reservations had no paper to draw on but bills and invoices and some pages, perhaps, from purloined account books.
Posted by Ellen

Television (2005) by ceramicist Ma Jun.

Posted by Ellen

We all know that artists are often politically minded people, and that much art is intended, on some level or another, to communicate political ideas. But we all also know that works of political art, regardless of whether or not they succeed artistically, usually fail to directly accomplish much of anything politically. The paintbrush is not often mightier than the sword.

A couple of months ago, artwork on the streets of Yekaterina, Russia, a city of almost two million people about a thousand miles east of Moscow, got the political job done. The city fathers of Yekaterina–the regional governor, the mayor, and the vice-mayor–had all been elected on promises to repair potholes and other problems in the city's badly deteriorating roadways. Once in office, however, they seemed to lose interest; despite citizen complaints, the potholes just kept getting worse and worse.

One dark night in July, Yekaterina artists took to the streets of center city and painted portraits of the three well-known politicians with wide-open mouths surrounding three of the worst potholes. They documented their work with a video that they posted to a popular local website; an English-language video about their video is here.

The next day, the potholes were fixed and the portraits scrubbed from the pavement. Officials denied that the artwork had anything to do with the sudden burst of municipal maintenance.

Yekaterina was already a city with a certain artistic sensibility; in addition to their potholes, the downtown streets feature a bronze monument to Michael Jackson.

Posted by Ellen

For the 2007 Prairie Art Festival in Medicine Bow, Saskatchewan, German street artist Edgar Mueller turned River Street into a serious river.

Posted by Ellen

"Highland Cattle," by Scotch-Irish painter Alfred Grey, 1887.

Posted by Ellen

Another sample from the Library of Congress's small collection of color photos from the 1930s and 1940s, this one shows a woman working with aerial photos to develop camouflaging for airfields and critical factories during World War II.

Camouflage experts at New York University would use the aerial photos to build a model of an area that included the facility to be camouflaged. Then they would paint over the facility on the model until it blended in with its surroundings. Aircraft plants on the West Coast were covered with acres of canvas and plywood painted and sculpted to resemble suburban subdivisions. Airstrips were painted to look like small-town streets and farmland from the air.

Not everything was so easy to camouflage; ships at sea, for example, proved impossible to hide no matter how they were painted. A completely different approach, known as dazzle camouflage, was devised for ships; they were painted with crazy stripes at jagged angles, visible from afar but very different to interpret as to size, direction, and speed of movement.

Some fighter planes were painted pale pink, a color that was thought to show up as white or grayish, like clouds, at high angles of intense sunlight.

This photo looks posed, and the woman may be a model rather than a serious camouflage authority; she is holding the aerial photo more or less upside down with respect to the model she's supposedly painting.

Posted by Ellen

Last week, in Portland, Maine, in the combined first- and second-grade class at Longfellow School, Emily Wiggin and her classmates made a mosaic table for a silent auction fundraiser. The winning bid on Saturday night was $200, and somehow, on Sunday morning, there was the table in the Wiggin living room.

Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia, kindergartner Lily Sklaver spent the week learning to ride her bike without training wheels or pedals; by last night, when she had that balancing thing under control, the pedals went back on and she took off flying down the street.

Posted by Ellen

Yellow House by Judith Schermer.