Tag Archives: art

Dali In Wonderland.

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How amazing are these Alice in Wonderland illustrations by Salvador Dali? This twelve-part suite, with one illustration for each chapter of the book, was originally published in 1865 and is one of the rarest and most sought-after of Dali’s works. I love the bold colors and the interplay between the distinct and indistinct; what is rendered in black is so crisp and clear while the colors bleed and fade into each other like a dream. The surrealism of these illustrations so perfectly captures the strange and magical essence of Wonderland, and have made me that much more excited to dive into Alice in Wonderland this summer!

all photos via William Bennett Gallery

In Defense of Lana del Rey. Or, Why Everyone Needs To Get Over It.

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Ever since she appeared on the music scene, Lana del Rey has been a point of contention for people who like to voice their opinions about music. Heretofore, it seems that one had to choose sides, to either love her or hate her, and there was no neutral ground on which to stand. Lately, however, after what has been widely regarded as a dreadful performance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and the subsequent cancellations and/or postponements of many tour dates, more people seem to be jumping over to the hater side.

I really can’t think of another musician in recent memory who has been such a lightning rod for criticism as Lana del Rey, and it’s interesting to note that most of the criticism is almost entirely unrelated to the music she’s making. It’s all about whether or not her lips are the result of plastic surgery, about how she dropped her birth name for a more evocative moniker, how she comes from money and her father paid for her early recording ventures, how she’s stiff and weird when she performs. Not only are all of these criticisms irrelevant in deciphering the value of her art, they’re also just mean-spirited.

Watching this shitstorm that Lana del Rey has found herself in unfold, I can’t help but wonder if the reasons folks are citing for disliking her say more about us (the collective “us”) as consumers of music entertainment than about Lana del Rey as an artist. Because let’s be real, most of these criticisms are bogus: Ms. del Rey is not the first, and will certainly not be the last, musician to alter their appearance with cosmetic surgery (see: Cher, Michael Jackson), nor is she the first musician to change her name (I would probably go by Lana del Rey if my birth name was Lizzie Grant, too). And does it really matter if her daddy’s rich? Can she really help that? And yeah, maybe she’s stiff and weird when she performs, but I suspect that’s part of her image, and some people just aren’t born performers. I believe that’s how the musical genre “shoe-gaze” got its name.

But back to the collective “us.” Maybe the reason everyone is so quick to judge and hate on Lana del Rey is because there is a clear delineation in our minds between our perception of music as art, where everything is real and has some kind of emotional depth or innovative sound, and music as entertainment, where a strategic image is marketed and artists sing surfacey radio-ready songs written by other people. I don’t believe that to be true, but let’s pretend, for all intents and purposes, that it is. If everyone who initially liked Lana del Rey believed her to be the former, someone who sang with a nostalgia that belied her age and who pieced together her own music videos using fuzzy vintage film footage, only to later find out that she had (gasp!) projected an image that wasn’t entirely rooted in reality, I guess I can see how that could feel like a betrayal, like you were tricked and now look like an idiot for thinking she was a pulled-herself-up-by-her-own-bootstraps indie darling when she wasn’t. But that’s asinine, if you ask me.

For people who only extol musicians that are of the music-as-art variety, it seems that there’s a requisite level of authenticity that has to be met before a musician can be regarded as an “artist.” But isn’t art about imagination, about the ability to visualize the world as another would, to find a way to evoke emotions that are beyond yourself? If that criteria is met, it shouldn’t matter if an artist edits their own life story. I don’t remember a Lana del Rey-level backlash occurring when it was discovered that Jack and Meg White were, in fact, ex-spouses and not brother and sister as Jack had formerly asserted. Because we live in a culture where we feel entitled to know everything about famous people and because there’s multi-million dollar celebrity gossip industry that indulges us, we fixate more on the personal life of the individual creating the art rather than the art itself, and that only brings down the quality of the art that we consume. The art becomes secondary to the personality, and that’s sad.

All of which is to say: leave Lana alone. If you want to make a judgment on her, do so on the basis of her music and not on who she is as a person or what her image is. And if you’d like a much cleverer defense of Ms. del Rey, consult with SNL.

Noemie Goudal.

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“I wish to offer through my photographs escapes into alternative landscapes where the reconstruction of new lands is made possible. The journey inside the image will invite the viewer to enter the space as well as entering the narrative of a ‘make-believe’, bringing him into the game between fiction and reality in which one can identify the fragility of one’s own desires.” – Noemie Goudal

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Are these photos incredible or what? I saw them on because i’m addicted the other day and was blown away. I love how Goudal’s installations bring artistic additions to existing locales, blending nature and the industrial and blurring the line between reality and fantasy. They’re like portals opening up to other worlds, like the wardrobe to Narnia: inconspicuous enough, but startlingly magical once you realize what you’re looking at. It’s absolutely inspiring, and it makes me pine to do something creative on a large scale like this.

You can see more of Noemie Goudal’s photos here.

Grazie, Rome. Part 3.

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I think most of our trip can be summed up in this last photo. We ate the best meals of our lives and consumed everything that was set in front of us and left nothing behind, until we were so full that we hated ourselves. When in Rome, right?

I’ve posted the majority of the photos I took (plus several of Nate’s), but if you’d like to see more, check out my Flickr set here!

Tattoos: A 21st Century Perspective.

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I have a fascination with tattoos. I’ve gotten really into reading the Tattoo Tuesday feature on Sometimes Sweet, and it’s so interesting to see so many different tattoos on so many different people, and to read about their significance and the process of being tattooed.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the stigma surrounding tattoos and how silly it is. Quick anecdote: toward the end of high school, I told my mom that I wanted to get a full sleeve tattoo (sort of joking) and she almost started crying. I think she was concerned that I a) wanted to ruin my body with tattoos, b) was being openly rebellious, and c) would never get a job if I had tattoos.

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The distrust/suspicion of people with visible tattoos seems to be a generational thing: I know lots of people’s parents who think that tattoos are only for hoodrats, but very few people my own age who feel the same way. And while there are some instances in which tattoos are an act of rebellion, I think they more commonly serve as symbolic art. People get tattoos to commemorate life milestones, to remember their heritage or people they’ve lost, to remind themselves that they can be the best versions of themselves, to say with art what they can’t say verbally. There will always be nimrods who get dumb tattoos that don’t mean anything to them, but for the most part, getting a tattoo is often more intentional and thoughtful than that.

I think tattoos can be really beautiful, and I don’t think it detracts anything from a person when they have tattoos. It’s not like your personality does a 180 when you get a tattoo; of all the people I know with tattoos, they have all stayed the same people they were pre-tat. The only difference is that they have some amazing artwork on their body now. If you’re so focused on thinking that nice-looking people are “ruining” their bodies with tattoos, you’ll never be able to see the beauty and meaning in what they’ve chosen to make part of their body. And as for the you’ll-never-get-a-job argument, I think that’s a pretty dated viewpoint. This is the 21st century, people: the word “tattoo” is not synonymous with unemployment. I have tattooed friends and they all manage to work for a living. Older folks will still hold onto their negative opinions regarding tattoos, but as my generation grows older, I suspect that tattoos will become more and more innocuous until they’re just a common everyday thing, like pierced ears, that fails to offend anyone. And if an employer can’t look past your tattoos to see your qualifications and personality, then that particular job probably wouldn’t be a good fit for you, anyway.

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Kaelah of Little Chief Honeybee was featured on Tattoo Tuesday, and I think she sums it up best:

Undoubtedly, heavily tattooed people will run into the more conservative types who think if you’re tattooed then you’re quite obviously in a biker gang or recently sprung from prison, but I think that’s one reason I’m so drawn to the lifestyle. I wear dresses every day; I don’t even own a pair of pants. I try to portray myself as a classy young lady and full of femininity. I try to show the naysayers that they couldn’t be more wrong about tattooed women (or people in general). The most common thing I get is “How are you going to find a job?!” but I simply assure them that I have chosen a field which is much more understanding of body modifications and if I had to hide who I was at work, how on earth could I be happy doing that for a living?

I’m right there with ya, girl. Truer words were never spoken.

Meditations on Art.

For Valentine’s Day, my bosses took the entire office (all six of us) out to lunch. One of my co-workers asked me what my plans were for Valentine’s Day, and I said I was going to eat a heart-shaped pizza, drink mimosas, and watch Shaun of the Dead. And then, for the rest of our lunch, the conversation did not veer away from the topic of movies for even one second. It was kind of bizarre.

Someone brought up A Clockwork Orange, and I was saying that all of the really graphic rape that happens in the film was so disturbing to me that I almost couldn’t finish watching it, and one of my co-workers asked what the point of watching those kinds of movies were. He asked why anyone would want to watch something disturbing or horrifying when they could watch something uplifting that could positively contribute to their lives. He said that that kind of evil stuff could “find a place inside you,” and that he didn’t even want to expose himself to it at all. And then we started talking about horror movies.

I started feeling really sad for my co-worker, that his narrow view of art was keeping him from experiencing some really incredible artistic work.

Good art, to me, is not meant to be good in a moral sense. When art espouses a particular and unbending brand of morality or Truth, that’s when it becomes propaganda. I think good art is meant to be a reflection of reality and of the human condition, which are both infinitely complex and can’t be boiled down to just ‘good’ or ‘evil.’ There are ugly aspects of both that shouldn’t go unacknowledged simply because they aren’t pleasing to look at. As Akira Kurosawa said, “The artist is the one who does not look away.” In order to understand the world we live in, and our place as humans in it, we have to see everything: the beautiful, the hideous, the pleasing, the disturbing; and we have to figure out and embrace how these disparate elements work together. That’s what makes reality whole and dynamic, instead of just one-dimensional. Artists do that better than anyone else.

One way that I judge art is by how much thought it provokes. For example, I mentioned that I was really disturbed by A Clockwork Orange, but I can’t dismiss it just because it was disturbing. I can’t simply say “The fact that there is graphic rape in this movie means that it can’t have any artistic merit.” It’s horrifying and disturbing, but it serves an artistic purpose. The film’s themes of nature versus nurture make me think about the male brain and if there’s a correlation between the prevalence of rape and the license of the male population. It makes me wonder how the male brain can find pleasure in the combination of sex and violence. It makes me think about what facets of a nation’s humanity would have to be neglected for humanity to end up in a world like that of A Clockwork Orange. It makes me think that my being disturbed by the sight, and the idea, of rape says something about me as a human. Thinking and processing is so much a part of what makes us human, and I think any art that encourages intelligent thought is a good thing.

I love that art can make me think, but I also love that it can simultaneously make me feel. I’m an emotional person to begin with, but the extreme outpouring of emotion that I’m able to experience through art is so cathartic. It’s something incredible to experience art that examines the human condition, and through your personal emotional response be able to both be a participant in that piece of art and to recognize the profundity of your humanity through it. It feels like a soul-cleansing, and it’s a beautiful feeling.

Basically, I think art is of the greatest value to the human race. I’ve cultivated these thoughts on art over the course of years of college lectures on art and literature and morality and taboo and the meaning of life, but I would love to hear other opinions or thoughts on the nature and purpose of art. What do you love about art? What do you see as the ultimate purpose of artistic works? Why do you think art is important, or unimportant?

Things I Want On My Wall.

My gallery wall in my bedroom is almost complete. I just need one of these guys (or maybe all of them?) to be the missing piece of the puzzle. I’m coveting, hard.

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