Copyrighted works from 1923 enter the public domain today

Public Domain

Firstly, happy new year to you all. We hope 2019 is even more prosperous than 2018. If you’re a creative or a lover of the arts, today’s events might help with that.

1st January is Public Domain Day. What does that mean? Well, works of art from 1923 become the copyright-free to the public, meaning you can quote as much as you want wherever you want without attribution. The same will be said for works from 1924 next year, 1925 the year after and so on. Naturally, works before 1923 are also public domain unless otherwise set.

This was meant to take place a lot sooner if it wasn’t for an intervention by the US government. In 1998, congress signed a bill, sponsored by Sonny Bono (yes, that Sonny Bono) allowing a 20-year extension of the copyright term. According to Open Culture, “the legislation, aimed at protecting Mickey Mouse, created a ‘bizarre 20-year hiatus between the release of works from 1922 and 1923.'” Now that’s over, certain Mickey Mouse cartoons and appearances are free to remix without fear of Disney. Well, fear of Disney is never totally extinguished.

But what was released in 1923? A lot of stuff. Mostly silent movies, artwork from the Art Deco period, works from the Harlem Renaissance, early jazz compositions. If you love modernism as I do, this will be like uncovering a treasure trove.

Below you will find a list of works from 1923 and general content free from copyrights. Always remember to check works from any years prior to 1923 to make absolutely sure you follow any licence requirements (if there are any). And happy hunting!

Lists of public domain works from 1923 and more

RIP Jean-Michel Basquiat

King Alphonso by Jean Michel Basquiat

That’s the line I’m going with anyway. I won’t pretend I knew about him for years. He was a name I’d heard but not explored further than occasional utterances. Then I went to see his Boom For Real exhibition at the Barbican in London and everything changed. His bodies of work (and that pun was intentional) were the true definition of expressionism. He flew by the seat of his pants when it came to life and art, neither discipline far from each other nor mutually exclusive.

“I cross out words so you will see them more; the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them.”

Jean-Michel Basquiat

He proclaimed himself a legend and nobody can take that status away from him.

The chaotic brilliance of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat - Jordana Moore Saggese

The wonderful art of Upendo

upendo

Who is Upendo?

Upendo Taylor was born in Watts, California but moved to New York to make the city “his canvas” according to his website. He draws inspiration from everything in his life and puts them back into his art in the best possible way.

His aesthetic has covered topics such as pop culture, cartoons, and his love of hamburgers with different media like hand drawings, painting, and computer designs.

Leroy Jenkins!

In 2005, Upendo teamed up with Ron Upperman to create their Leroy Jenkins clothing brand (named after the infamous Leroy Jenkins meme). The biggest endorsement of the brand came from Jay-Z who wore a Leroy Jenkins cap in 2012.

Upendo has worked with the likes of Adidas, Burton, Gatorade, Stones Throw Records, and Black Milk over the years and he’s one of my favourite modern artists and artistic inspirations.

Some of Upendo’s work

UPENDO ART

Picasso was a misogynistic douchebag

Pablo Picasso, Bust of a Woman (Dora Maar), 1938

I studied graphic design at college and frequented the art department where his work was copied and analysed. My opinions of him then were neutral. But as my interest in modernism has grown, my thoughts on his work have gone in the opposite direction. His depiction of women began to irk me as I read interpretations of his pieces and similar works under the “Cubist” guise. Along with the fetishisation of the “primitive”, it felt less like art and more like exploitation. And today, I read this article by Jason Kottke.

He referenced a piece by Cody Delistraty in the Paris Review which itself referenced Picasso’s granddaughter Marina Picasso. In her memoirs, she opened up about how her family struggling under the shadow of his artistry. “He needed blood to sign each of his paintings: my father’s blood, my brother’s, my mother’s, my grandmother’s, and mine. He needed the blood of those who loved him.” Many family members and women close to him (former wives and mistresses) killed themselves after his death. His actions towards women were abhorrent.

“Women are machines for suffering […] For me there are only two kinds of women, goddesses and doormats.”

— Picasso to his mistress, Françoise Gilot in 1943. He was 61 and she was 21.

My ignorance of Picasso as a person – stemmed from my lack of interest in his art – meant his misogyny passed me by. But that’s how society works when it comes to abusive men marked as “geniuses”; disgusting acts are misattributed as momentary transgressions. Picasso physically, verbally, and emotionally abused women, cheated on his wives and had sex with a minor (whose mother accepted the affair and “welcomed her daughter’s seducer as a friend”).

Calling his work was overrated isn’t to denounce his horrific behaviour. It allows for scrutiny his art. His misogyny has directly contributed to the paintings held in the highest esteem by fans and critics. Collectors have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for depictions of violence against women. As more sexual assault allegations emerge from men in Hollywood, we start to see a deep network of misogyny and abuse from men who treat women like sub-humans. Some of these revelations were disclosed and ignored. Woody Allen is revered despite his repeated predatory. So does Roman Polanksi. Harvey Weinstein continued his career while sexually abusing women. These scumbags use the labour and spirit of women to gain power and control in a system tailor-made for them and them only. As more people bravely speak out about their abuse, it’s time we look again at these highly-regarded figures.

The World's Largest Mondrian

It’s in commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of the founding of De Stijl, a Dutch modernist movement. Piet Mondrian was a chief progenitor who inspired the likes of Maarten Baas, Joris Laarman and Piet Hein Eek, who are still influenced by the De Stijl today. The façade was created by Madje Vollaers and Pascal Zwart of studio VZ.

Mondrian’s style is overused both in concept and as the sole representation of modernism. I love it but in short visual bursts. Having his iconic work on such an important building looks wonderful but I can see how it would bore Dutch people after a few visits.

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Kintsugi: The Japanese Art of Repairing Pottery with Gold

kintsugi

The concept extends beyond pottery or objects and speaks to our humanity. We go through life feeling happiness and sorrow but dwell on the bad times more than the good. Metaphorical cracks form and we break from time to time. But do the pieces have to stay broken or can they be “glued” back together with a stronger more radiant bond?

The literal translation of kintsugi (or kintsukuroi meaning “golden repair”) is “golden joinery”. The art form involves repairing broken pottery with lacquer combined with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. A theory of its original derives from Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa who sent a broken Chinese tea bowl back to China for repairs in the 15th century. It came back with metal staples holding the pieces together. Japanese craftsmen sought improved ways of repair and kintsugi was later born. Lacquer repair had been an age-old tradition in Japan but the idea of adding luxuriant colours came from the brutal stapling.

Kintsugi is very much a Japanese tradition but it has found its way into Western art. The Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art have held exhibitions for the golden repair. Rock bands “Hey Rosetta!”, “The Rural Alberta Advantage”, and “Death Cab for Cutie” have used kintsugi and its ideal for song titles and album inspiration. The cover for Cathy Rentzenbrink’s A Manual for Heartache also has a similar style, with a golden jigsaw outline on an eggshell green background, perhaps a more British variant on the concept. But its influence lies heavy in philosophy. It shares similarities with the Japanese philosophies of wabi-sabi and “no mind” (無心 mushin), which “encompasses the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as aspects of human life”.

Rather than disguise the “scars”, kintsugi treats the cracks as historical signposts, showing a followed path and a beautiful destination in shimmering gold.

Reading/watching list

Flickwerk The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics — Christy, James; Holland, Henry; Bartlett, Charly Iten (2008)
EASTERN PHILOSOPHY – Kintsugi by School of Life [Video]
Perfect Imperfection (The Art of Healing) by Billie Bond, Dr Jeremy Spencer (2017)
Broken a pot? Copy the Japanese and fix it with gold

Modern Art - It's More Than Just White Paintings

Why these all-white paintings are in museums and mine aren't

The fact they’re white is more than a little poignant. Vox asked the question “Why do all-white paintings sell for millions of dollars and end up in museums?” The answer isn’t “because high art is pretentious and has a serious problem with diversity and inclusivity” as I’d have hoped.

Instead, Elisabeth Sherman of the Whitney Museum of American Art said “there is much more to these paintings than meets the eye, and while you could have painted one of these priceless pieces of art, you didn’t” (quoted from the Vox video description).

While I agree with the latter, the former feeds into the general pretension of modern art. A lot is inferred but the reason behind some works of art could just be “I liked how it looked” without a need for a deeper, hidden meaning. But that would devalue otherwise mediocre white art, wouldn’t it?

Anish Kapoor banned from colour-changing paint

anish-kapoor-stuart-semple-pinkest-pink-blackest-black-colour_dezeen_sq

From the blackest black to the pinkest pink, Anish Kapoor has now been banned by Stuart Semple from using his new colour-changing paint. In case you missed the original drama, Anish Kapoor got exclusive rights to the Vantablack pigment and artists got angry. So Stuart Semple turned the tables.

There’s also a legal requirement where you must confirm:

“You are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor.”

And people wonder why the masses look at art and think it’s full of pretentious arses.

(via Dezeen)

The Atlantic Remember Black Postmodern Artist Barkley L. Hendricks

Barkley L. Hendricks

Apart from the advent of hip hop, not much gets a look in over white counterparts. Barkley L. Hendricks’ portraits were striking in recognising the beauty of post-Civil Rights blackness and every decade after. The contrast of minimalism and abundant strength in his paintings were unfortunately overlooked by those in the museums.

Kriston Capps of The Atlantic wrote a brilliant piece on his work and what it meant to black culture.

He never painted black people in protest or in crisis. Ideas about black nationalisms surfaced in his work as they were reflected in the world of images.

Barkley L. Hendricks died last Tuesday at the age of 72.

Barkley L. Hendricks – 'I Want to Be Memorable' | TateShots

A Gold Experience

tutankhamun

For my 10th birthday, I got a Gameboy Color. I cried when I unwrapped it because a few months prior, my original Gameboy DMG was stolen along with 10 games. I also got a gold cover for it but I’ve yet to find another since.

Gold is the colour of extravagance, wealth, riches, and excess. It’s also a colour of prosperity and grandeur and that’s why it’s one of my favourite colours behind red and green.

Here’s a series of images showcasing the gold experience in all its splendour. And if you like all things golden, you should check out how it can make your broken pottery look even better.

The Wonderful Art of Jonny Wan

Based in Sheffield, Jonny Wan’s work covers everything from “advertising to product packaging and beyond”. As you’ll see, he likes bold patterns and shapes with plenty of nods to Art Deco.

He also graduated from the Manchester School of Art in 2008 and has gone on to work with the likes of Apple, Nike, and The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Being an illustrator can be a very up and down career, where one month can bring a flurry of jobs in and the next one can be dead. It’s important to remain committed and to not forget why you chose illustration in the first place.

Interview with Jonny Wan on Crazy Animal Face

(all image rights reserved by Jonny Wan)

Nottingham Contemporary: A Review

Nottingham Contemporary

I’ve been in and around Nottingham for about 17 years. My sister moved in 1995 to attend Nottingham Trent University and I’d visited plenty of times. I lived in Luton at the time so it was the only city I’d regularly visited that wasn’t Bradford – my old hometown – or London. It was my choice of destination for university in 2008. Alas, that didn’t end so well and I left but I returned in 2014 and I’ve been here ever since. My voyage to Nottingham Contemporary was only the second Nottingham landmark I’d visited in my life. I was eager to go.

Where is Nottingham Contemporary?

The building is nestled within the city’s Lace Market, a protected heritage area, formerly the epicentre of the world’s lace industry during the British Empire. The modern cladding is significant in design contrasted with the surrounding architecture but in celebration of the area’s history, the building has been embossed with a lace design. At night, it shines like a beacon; a brutalist monolith bursting with cultural light.

The exhibitions

You’re graced with the gift shop upon entering (more on that later) but for my visit yesterday, there were two exhibitions. The first, FOXP2, was from French artist Marguerite Humeau. Having graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2011 and shows at the Palais de Tokyo, MoMA and the V&A, this was quite an acquisition. FOXP2 was inspired by conversations with zoologists and other biological experts and comprises of two installations. Grunts and primitive murmurs fill the dark corridor leading to Gallery 1. They form the components of a sound installation; “a ‘choir’ of 108 billion voices, re-enacting the moment when the gene – FOXP2 – mutated, allowing our ancestors to develop language”. The longer you stay, the more elaborate and developed the noises become.

Marguerite Humeau - FOXP2
Taken from nottinghamcontemporary.org

Then from the darkness, you become enveloped in a pinkish hue of light. The second installation is what Humeau describes as a  “biological showroom” of elephants. A series of elephant sculptures tell differing takes of life and bio-engineering. I strongly recommended using the guide to gain a better understanding of both installations. Poignant and brooding, FOXP2 leads to questions of existentialism, not only for the planet but for ourselves as human beings.

Gallery 2 features the second exhibition by Nigerian artist, Otobong Nkanga. The gallery also holds two separate installations as part of the exhibit. Taste of a Stone is a microcosm of boulders, pebbles and flora, intended to be used by local artists and visitors to share their experiences. The interactivity of the exhibition diverges from the modern interpretation of the word, retreating to the basic natural world as opposed to the technological.

The second room contains The Encounter That Took a Part of Me, an examination of the Earth around us through its environment and the fruits of its labour. The wall is emblazoned with a mural, starting with a steel framework, gradually decaying with rust before meeting depictions of neural passages and finally cracks in the earth and accompanying bronze canvas. There are also sculptural displays showing the varying examples of environmental change – rust, condensation.

Otobong Nkanga - Taste Of A Stone
Taken by myself

And then there was the gift shop. Usually a superficial part of a museum with its overpriced knick-knacks but this was different. Much different. The selection of books was diverse, from art and architecture to philosophy, music and a wide range of children’s books. There are also postcards and other stationery on offer at affordable prices. I picked up a double pizza cutter in the shape of a 1950s race car (there’s method behind this apparent madness but if you want to know more, ask me on Twitter) and a book of essays on the work of Michael Jackson. The exhibitions had enriched my cultural mind but the gift shop served as a fin parfaite to the experience.

The privilege of a museum visit

When I was about 13, after much nagging, I finally got the chance to visit Legoland in Windsor. I had wanted to go for ages and the visit came as a surprise. We reached the gates and the anticipation was palpable. But I never crossed the threshold. Why? Too expensive. I’m much wiser now when it comes financial reasoning so I completely understand but of course this upset me no end and I sulked for the remainder of the trip. My mother grew impatient with my attitude. Eventually, she snapped and uttered the now-immortal sentence:

“Do you know how privileged you are?”

The short answer to that was “no” but I now understand what she meant. I hadn’t appreciated all the holidays abroad and museum visits in my childhood. Some of my school friends had never been on a plane. Nottingham Contemporary encapsulates the wonder of cultural exploration and growth I took for granted in my younger years. I took my 10 month-old son who seemed less enthused by the exhibitions but he has to start somewhere and he seemed to enjoy the lights at least. I won’t be turning my back on this place.

Recommended reading, links and footnotes

The Super Realistic Art of Charles Bierk

His work includes large-scale portraits of his friends that you’d swear were actual photographs. They aren’t. Charles Bierk has been painting since childhood and is the son of late painter David Bierk. Photorealism is one of my favourite branches of art. I’m engrossed by the detail and dedication to every stroke. The longer you look, the more photographic they appear.

My eyes refuse to believe they’re not photographs and that’s the beauty of Bierk’s work. It’s fair to say Canada knows a thing or two about great art.

(via Booooooom, full work can be found at charlesbierk.com)