Thursday, September 18, 2008

In Beetle Land

'Where is Beetle Land? In the fields, in the woods, all over the place, or where the flowers and mushrooms grow. Any place where the merry little beetles run about is Beetle Land.'
by P.P. Billinghurst

In Beetle Land - Header, "Perhaps they stop and talk to each other."

In Beetle Land - Header, detail

In Beetle Land - Header, detail 'Land'

"It was very comfortable."

"There was the monster outside his own front door."

From: Chatterbox (1926, Children's Annual), published by Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., London 1926
Unfortunately the artist for these particular illustrations isn't credited, they are not signed, and they are unique in style within the book.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Kitsch Koons meets the Sun King

The regal splendour of Versailles, France is about to house a major retrospective exhibition by sculptor Jeff Koons. It is a strange choice of artist for this Baroque venue, both in nationality and style. Many of the locals aren't happy about it at all. Having perused some of the 17 works online in context I am inclined to understand their view point. Some of these pieces looks cheap* and nasty in these luxurious surrounds: namely the full colour inflatable pool toys. The overtly kitsch, gold accented sculpture of Michael Jackson and Bubbles is a particularly controversial inclusion. I think that one is going to be awful where ever it's exhibited!

However other sculptures displayed at Versailles, both indoors and in the grounds, seem to work in a surreal way. Take the exuberantly pink Balloon Dog. At Versailles this piece is being displayed indoors - unlike in my photograph below - however going by the shot taken of it there I feel that it works.

Balloon Dog in Venice, 2007
digital photograph

It's a bit silly and out of place in these old surrounds, but it's fun. Must art bow its hat to history with great reverence? So what if it isn't high brow? That is not what defines art. Sometimes we forget that visual art doesn't have to be serious or meaningful. It can entertain and make you smile or chuckle as well.

Koons' sculptures are created to stand out and look a little odd anywhere. The oversized scale and mirror surface he uses in many of the pieces ensure that. This style is a modern expression of flashy luxury which may well have been appreciated by King Louis XIV himself!

*They are actually
really expensive of course. Koons is the most expensive living artist. British Damien Hirst -also known to court a bit of kitsch but more so controversy - is the world's second most expensive living artist. This is based on sales of their two most expensive works in 2007.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Art Deco 1910–1939 @ NGV International

Art Deco 1910–1939 @ NGV International, was extensive with quite a bit of breadth though I must conclude I found a lot of it clunky and a bit heavy visually. The room reconstructions complete with wall decor were retina burning but I guess they were historically accurate. It was like a walk-through art history class and helped me get a better understanding of the style beyond what I already knew.

Best bits: Cartier, Lalique, US streamlining, The Strand hotel revolving door foyer reconstruction, Fran├žois Pompon’s bronze Polar bear*, car ornaments made of glass, the original Holden lion sculptures. There was an exquisite cut glass vessel from Scandinavia (I think) owned by H.R.H herself. Colourless, it depicted a 360 view of glass house with women attended to some of the many little potted cacti. The detail was amazing.

I had not attended a Winter Masters NGV show before because none of the previous ones were tempting enough. This one swayed me and I felt it was well worth my time and $ :) Looking forward to seeing what the next one will be.

*Featured on lots of the exhibition merchandise in the gift shop. I was disappointed they didn't have 3D versions of him in glass or metal as a miniature perhaps. They just plastered him all over a range of stuff, and some jewellery.