Etta Loves's Keith Haring collection

radiant baby

I came across this via Feedly as I have a Keith Haring Google Alert set up.

Etta Loves is an e-commerce site that makes baby sensory products such as muslins and playmats. They’ve recently collaborated with Keith Haring to create a line of products that bear Haring’s iconic prints. I love his work because it stimulates my mind so I can’t imagine how cool it’d be for a baby. All those colours and shapes!

The stunning patterns ensure that babies are stimulated and mesmerised, giving parents a precious moment of calm and, with Keith Haring, their first art gallery experience.

Check out the collection on the Etta Loves website.

What do you actually get when you buy an NFT token?

bitcoin

I’m a vocal critic of NFTs (non-fungible tokens). I think they stink and they’re a serious moral and environmental hazard. Earlier today, I saw a Twitter thread about what you get from an NFT token and, well, it caused the tweeter’s eyebrows to break the laws of physics and biology:

@jonty tweeted: Out of curiosity I dug into how NFT's actually reference the media you're "buying" and my eyebrows are now orbiting the moon

I recommend you read through the thread but the key part is: whoever sells you the NFT keeps all aspects of the NFT and you get a file that references the digital file you pay for that can be lost if the server hosting it disappears. In essence, they’re worthless.

Short version: The NFT token you bought either points to a URL on the internet, or an IPFS hash. In most circumstances it references an IPFS gateway on the internet run by the startup you bought the NFT from. Oh, and that URL is not the media. That URL is a JSON metadata file

Second tweet from the thread

I’ve seen a suggestion that NFTs can help marginalised artists make money from their art in an easier way. But how many marginalised artists are making $70m from a JPG like this monstrosity?

25 Black art documentaries you need to watch

Last February, Lachelle Chyrsanne compiled a list of 25 must watch Black art documentaries.

From the list, I’ve only seen 5:

  1. Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (2011)
  2. Black Is the Color: A History of African American Art (2017)
  3. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
  4. Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010)
  5. Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (2019)

There’s no time limit on watching these so I’ll add them to my ever-growing Letterboxd watchlist. The documentaries I have watched were very powerful and worth your time and investment.

See also: James Baldwin on the meaning of liberty, Toni Morrison on Jazz, and Jean-Michel Basquiat on how to be an artist.

Helena Hauss's Hell Hath no Fury ceramic sculpture set

A picture of a blue ceramic grenade, Morning star, spiked baseball bat, and battle axe

Dangerously beautiful from artist and sculptor Helena Hauss.

A set of custom made sculptures hand painted in the delft blue style of ceramics. It’s an approach to represent the inner strength and fury that comes with being a woman, in contrast to an appearance of delicacy we’re too often branded with. 

I love the visually dissonant nature of Hell Hath no Fury. Just keep the baseball bat away from me.

Blue and feminist related: Seitō – a 1911 Japanese magazine exclusively for women

The internet art of Mazaccio & Drowilal

Skɪz(ə)m exhibition view (copyright Martin Polak, 2020)

Mazaccio & Drowilal are a French art duo that make artworks from found internet images.

Whether it’s IRL still lifes of desktop icons, dogs staring wistfully into sunsets, or celebrity snapshots defaced with paint and tape, the duo’s subject matter is universally familiar to anyone who’s found themselves in a thumb scroll wormhole, and that’s exactly the point.

Quote from It’s Nice That

It’s all trés cool, trés French, and trés internet. That sentence didn’t make any sense. But the art does to me and that’s all that matters.

Internet-related: Internet Archaeology: a gallery of early internet images

The cool doodles of Lei Melendres

Lei Melendres is a freelance illustrator and professional doodle artist from Manila, Philippines. I’ve been a huge fan of his work for a while and I own a silicon ring with one of his designs on it.

I love doodles and Melendres’ work is so imaginative and expansive, with or without colour. He gets a lot of out the space he’s given on his canvasses and I love that too.

Follow him on Instagram and grab one of his colouring books on Amazon.

Related: The Posca pen wizardry of Oskunk, the wonderful art of Upendo, and the plantlife illustrations of Jim Spendlove.

A samurai made out of a single piece of paper

A samurai made out of a single piece of paper

A Finnish origami artist named Juho Könkkölä made an incredible samurai in plated armour with nothing but a single sheet of 95x95cm paper:

Juho Könkkölä spent upwards of 50 hours scoring and folding just one sheet of Wenzhou rice paper to create this painstakingly detailed samurai complete with plated armor, traditional helmet, and sword. Beginning with a 95 x 95-centimeter page, the 23-year-old Finnish artist used a combination of wet and dry origami techniques to shape the 28-centimeter-tall warrior of his own design.

Juho has over 15 years of experience in origami modelling and takes inspiration from “history, folk tales, mythologies, books, movies, video games, and real-life observations”.

  • Tired: trying to fold a piece of paper more than 8 times
  • Wired: trying to fold a piece of paper into a crane
  • Inspired: trying to fold a piece of paper into a samurai

Related: Indo apples, samurai, and Japanese farmers and Yasuke, an African samurai in Japan

The folding process of origami Samurai Warrior

(via Twister Sifter)

Jean-Michel Basquiat – "Milk and Asbestos"

Jean-Michel Basquiat – "Milk and Asbestos"

While on my internet travels, I stumbled upon a Basquiat artwork I’d never seen before.

Milk and Asbestos was painted between 1980-1984 in acrylic and gouache on a smaller surface than usual for Basquiat; a board at 16x12x2 inches. The piece depicts a skull as the focal point with words such as “JAIL JAIL”, “SOAP SOAP”, and the title “MILK + ASBESTOS” painted in the space.

It’s currently held by Mandarin Fine Art Gallery, having been in various private collections since its completion. And it’s for sale (you’ll have to contact the gallery for a price if you’re interested).

For more on Jean-Michel Basquiat, check out Sammy Willbourne’s top 5 Basquiat paintings.

A Venom/Eddie Brock sculpture timelapse video

A Venom/Eddie Brock sculpture timelapse video

We’ve featured Steven Richter in an article about his custom Jumanji board and here he is making a Venom/Eddie Brock sculpture.

Richter opted for the live-action Eddie Brock from 2018’s Venom rather than the Topher Grace rendition from Spider-Man 3 (and probably for the best). I particularly like this comment from the video:

Every sculpture starts off as a very rough Easter Island head.

But it doesn’t take long before Richter gets the face looking more realistic before he starts on the Venom half of his face. The symbiotic detailing is the real highlight of the sculpture. In fact, it was so good, he put it on his Etsy shop and it sold but you can request a custom sculpture if you want a Venom of your own.

For Venom-related objects that are in stock, check out these Venom socks.

Venom Sculpture Timelapse - Venom

Copyrighted works from 1925 enter the public domain today

Cover art for The Great Gatsby

Happy new year to you all. I sincerely hope 2021 is better than 2020 (unless you’re Jeff Bezos).

Today is Public Domain Day again and that means copyrighted works from the US from 1925 are open to all. (For more information on it, we wrote about it in 2019.) The official Public Domain Day 2021 page explains why this year is so good:

In 2021, there is a lot to celebrate. 1925 brought us some incredible culture. The Harlem Renaissance was in full swing. The New Yorker magazine was founded. The literature reflected both a booming economy, whose fruits were unevenly distributed, and the lingering upheaval and tragedy of World War I. The culture of the time reflected all of those contradictory tendencies. The BBC’s Culture website suggested that 1925 might be “the greatest year for books ever,” and with good reason. It is not simply the vast array of famous titles. The stylistic innovations produced by books such as Gatsby, or The Trial, or Mrs. Dalloway marked a change in both the tone and the substance of our literary culture, a broadening of the range of possibilities available to writers, while characters such as Jay Gatsby, Hemingway’s Nick Adams, and Clarissa Dalloway still resonate today.

Below you will find a list of applicable works from 1925. Always remember to check works from any years prior to 1925 to make absolutely sure you follow any licence requirements (if there are any). And below the list is a Disney cartoon from 1925 not featuring Mickey Mouse.

A list of lists of public domain works from 1925

Walt Disney - 1925 - Alice Solves the Puzzle

The Black American collages of Tay Butler

The best kind of revisionist history is when people of colour revise textbook history to give us the truth. Tay Butler does just that with his blend of collage, photography, music, and video.

Constructing revisionist histories that are fictional but true, authentic yet imagined, the stories and scenes created act like braids and weave together a rich tapestry that can last longer than human memory. 

Butler, an artist based in Houston, Texas, has worked with the likes of Jansport J, Reggie Bonds, and Haz Solo and produced work featured all around his hometown.

He uses historical artefacts that tell stories through literature, folklore, local and national magazines and newspapers, and then goes through a lengthy process of digitising, photographing, interpolating and collaging into something new via the old. The results are unique but familiar.

See his portfolio on his official website.

The super realistic art of Arinze Stanley

PAINFUL CONVERSATIONS

Arinze Stanley Egbengwu is a hyperrealist artist from Lagos, Nigeria.

Starting at an early age of 6, Arinze had always been enthusiastic about drawing realistic portraits on paper. Being exposed to his family’s paper conversion business, Arinze grew to love paper and pencils as his toys at a very tender age. Over the years He gradually taught himself how to master both Pencils and Paper in harmony as a medium to express himself through what he calls his three P’s namely Patience, Practice and Persistence. These have guided him throughout his journey as an artist.

His work has featured in exhibitions around the world including Lagos, Los Angeles, London, Miami, New York, and New Jersey.

Whenever I see photorealist art on Twitter, I quote tweet it with something like “DRAWING?!” or “PAINTING?!” and this is no different. The detail is incredible and shows Black people as Black people. No special lighting, just Blackness in art.

See also: Charles Bierk’s photorealism

STiCH and its Basquiat-inspired art

STiCH is an “artist, machine, design researcher and artist intelligence” according to Urbancoolab, its creator. The AI machine spent over 700 hours learning the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat to produce a series of art in the late artist’s style (or an adaption of it).

For me, the results are derivative and closer to mediocre Picasso than anything else. Basquiat’s work and style had specific meaning and context—his life, surroundings, and, most importantly, his Blackness. AI could never replicate that because it’s AI and using Basquiat for this was a bad idea.

“Our team met the challenge to see how an AI machine with no emotion can learn to express itself with gestural abstraction while remaining to be visually intuitive. We’re focusing on Basquiat as his work continues to inspire others, and his message continues to be relevant. There would be nothing more incredible than to have Basquiat’s work continue. His conceptual and aesthetic appeal will always remain strong because of the inherent emotional depth and power it communicates.”

Quote from Urbancoolab founder Idris Mootee via Creative Boom

There was no malice in this, I’m sure, but it’s tiring to see Basquiat recreations in AI or yet more of his work selling for millions at Christie’s.

The painted paper art of Mark Bradford

mark bradford

Black gay artist Mark Bradford spoke to Francesca Aton of Art in America about his use of paper in his paintings.

Mark Bradford was born in Los Angeles on 20th November 1961. He’s best known for combining paint and paper collage to create his work, as well as using the themes of masculinity and gender.

End papers, small rectangular sheets of translucent paper that protect hair during the perm process, are the basis of Los Angeles–based painter Mark Bradford’s early artworks. While working in his mother’s beauty salon, Bradford began integrating the papers into abstract paintings, creating a layered scrim through which the paint emerges. The artist, guided by an interest in common materials, has incorporated items from around Los Angeles—including fragments of posters, broadsides, and billboards—to tackle issues of civil unrest.

Bradford on his use of paper and how that evolved:

I hadn’t given much thought to the materiality of the end papers until I started experimenting with other types of paper. End papers are similar to tissue paper, and are very absorbent and translucent. When I was painting, it was a lot easier to achieve layers of color due to those qualities of the end papers. As I started adding more opaque materials, like billboard and poster paper, the paintings looked flat. That’s when I began dunking paper in water. I thought maybe if the pulp disintegrated, a little bit of light could pass through. This addition really shifted my practice. To this very day, I still use water because it’s the only thing that pulls the paper apart and makes it flow like paint.

And how COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests have impacted his work:

At the beginning of the pandemic, I had a lot of triggers because in some ways it reminded me of the AIDS epidemic. It’s been great to see that so many have mobilized in this moment for positive change and have found creative and interesting ways to make their voices heard. I’ve learned to be kind of fluid and keep creating work. I like to say that I’m not on Pacific Standard Time, but rather on Pandemic Standard Time—and I chuckle when people send me calendar invites for upcoming events.

Read the full interview on Art in America.