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Playboy Before Photoshop – “Art” Going Overboard

Apparently even Playboy models aren’t perfect enough. Christie’s, a fine arts auction house in New York, put up for auction several pages of Playboy magazine’s photographs – with notes from editors. Considered as (almost) ancient art, or maybe just art (barely) – they featured improvements and criss-cross lines pointing out changes that need to be made in the photos.

It’s crazy how these photos – which were already shot by the best lighting experts, with the best equipment (e.g. cameras, lighting, and software), make-up, stylists, and professional models – are still not “perfect” enough and undergo insane editing. It’s scary how women that many young girls look up too are being manipulated to the maximum. It seems that no real beauty exists, in physical form, only in art – if that’s what this can be called?

I always thought of art as helping humanity, and the world. Improving it in some way or another. Not doing the opposite! Working together, for the greater good. Not separating people and alienating them.

The following link features all of the Playboy nudie pics, but it’s for educational purposes!

And for a non-nude version, see here.

Happy 2011!

I just wanted to wish all of my dedicated readers a happy New Year!

5 Secrets in Ancient South American Art

This guy keeps all the secrets of pre-Columbian art.

While preparing for the holiday season of religious festivities, I have taken my time to study some art history on cultures that do not stem from our Western civilization. These are of a time before the US was ‘discovered’ by Columbus – called pre-Columbian. Sadly enough, a lot of the art, artifacts and culture of these before-Columbus times is not present today. However, we can learn a lot from what is around (and appreciate it). There are five main well-kept secrets of pre-Columbian art that not many people know.

1. Pre-Columbian Art Had The Longest Golden Age in Art History

In my research, have been paying most attention to the actual art, whose golden age was prominent for a long time, something like 1800 BC to 1500 AD, that’s over 3000 years! For a golden age, that doesn’t compare to any art of our Western civilization. Most of this art comes from tomb-excavations, much like the mummies of ancient Egypt, as anything on the surface has either been looted (e.g. gold, and then melted down) or simply destroyed by colonizers and/or weather.

2. Their Main Art Periods Are Similar to Those of Western Culture

There were three main periods for pre-Columbian art: the first was Olmec, the second was of the well-known Maya civilization, and the last, of Toltec and Aztec peoples. You can think of the Olmec as being somewhat pre-historical, as it was the root of the pre-Columbian culture of South America, where the Maya was the Classical period (likened to that of Greece and Rome), and the Toltecs and Aztecs were what came after – similar the rise of Western civilization through periods like the Neoclassical and Romantic.

Toltec temple with statues of their warriors. You wouldn't want to mess with them – they're very... (read on)

3. Most Surviving Objects Are Either Very Large, or Very Small

This Olmec head is not only angry, but also very huge (about 2m in height)!

If I had to pick a favorite of them, it would have to be that of the Toltec, as it’s the most recent, where most of the artifacts have survived. In fact, a lot of the surviving pre-Columbian temples are either Toltec or Aztec. While many large objects of the Olmec survive, such as large heads (some up to two meters in height) and temples, most are small objects – most famously jade figurines. For art collectors and museums, the most interesting art comes from the Olmec and Maya, as there is little that remains, and so many theories can be drawn. (Also, it’s more difficult to transport a huge Olmec head into an exhibition hall, than let’s say a small Olmec figurine.) You can see many pre-Columbian exhibits at the Met in NYC, and several galleries here in New York specialize in ancient pre-Columbian art. Both deal with small objects, exemplified in this recent video from The Merrin Gallery showing an Olmec Axe, Maya Jar and Maya Mask – all highly portable objects.

4. The Pre-Columbian Civilizations Were More Advanced Than Europeans

Although the colonization of the New World was rather swift, it was not because the opposition were weak and ill-equipped. In fact, the Inca Empire was at the time, the most powerful and largest empire in the world! They saw their demise not because of weakness in battle, but because of the diseases that the colonialists brought in (accidentally, it seems). The natives of the New World had not developed any antibodies or methods to combat simple diseases from the Old World, as there had been no need – as things like the flu did not exist in the same form. In addition to the ruthlessness of the Spanish military, this gave a powerful blow to the civilizations – and they were instantly weakened and enslaved.

5. The Inca and Other South American Cultures Used Gold Extensively, Everywhere!

The Inca built many temples, and valued gold above all else – using it without spare. Some temples were entirely covered in gold, and when the Spanish came, and their (accidental) biological warfare kicked-in, they easily looted the temples, and removed all of the gold. It was melted down and made into art, coins and objects that suited their taste. Today many of the figurines and objects of art in Spain and the rest of Europe from this time is actually recycled art of the Inca, etc. Also, that’s why we don’t see as much gold in the surviving art from pre-Columbian civilizations. Instead, there’s a lot of architecture, textiles, and ceramics, which makes it seem like the culture – when we ‘discovered’ it – was relatively under-developed and pre-historic. But this was definitely not the case, as mentioned before.

This is the gold-est Incan art that you can find. Everything else is gone!

Overall, pre-Columbian cultures were advanced, powerful, and had a wealth of knowledge, culture and art – developed over centuries, much like that of Western civilization (but even better).

 

“When in Paris”… The Louvre

An interesting photo-story of the Louvre museum in Paris. I have never had the chance to visit – but one day!

(Apologies for the lack of posts recently, but I’ve been very busy with present-shopping and preparing for Christmas with my family.)

A visit to the Louvre and its Napoleon III apartments During my last days in France, I decided to pay a visit to the Louvre. My parents used to drag me there on weekends in my early childhood but I hadn’t gone back since. What a shame, I know. The Louvre is one of the world’s most famous museums but its history is not so well known. The medieval remains in the basement level recall the origins of the palace as a fortress. The Louvre then became a royal residence until Louis XIV decided to move far a … Read More

via Ritournelle

Climate Change Sculptures

Although I couldn’t see it personally, a few of my friends visited this sculpture exhibit, or more accurately installation, in the UK. Designed to bring awareness to climate change – although a talked about issue, it hasn’t received enough attention & response. A lot of people don’t see to know what it’s about, and believe armageddon destruction movies (which are exaggerated) instead of actual science. There’s also lots of people that consider climate change as ‘just a theory’, but in science – a theory isn’t the same as a theory in common parlor – where in science, gravity is a theory; but in popular culture, whether or not Sarah Palin is mentally handicapped is considered a theory (although in this case, a pretty good one).

So overall, this sculpture exhibit has a very strong political and socioeconomic message for its time. Changes that need to be made about the environment. Art for life.

The NYT reports on this sculpture exhibit:

About 2,000 people served as the medium on Saturday for a live sculpture designed by Thom Yorke of Radiohead and the artist Stanley Donwood in Brighton and Hove, England. The installation was part of a project organized by Earth 350, a nonprofit group working to address climate change. The group has unveiled installations around the world in the past week, most of which were visible from space. The exhibition was timed to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which begins on Monday in Cancún, Mexico. The sculpture, of King Canute, was inspired by the legend of the king who put his throne at the edge of the sea only to have it become soaked when the waves would not be still, as he had commanded. “We need politicians today to have a ‘Canute’ moment,” Bill McKibben, the American author, environmentalist and founder of Earth 350, said in a statement on the group’s Web site.

Roundup on the Sculpture Blog

Here’s a roundup of this autumn’s most popular articles on my Sculpture Blog:

  1. Definition of Art: Stealing, or Borrowing?
  2. The Best Sculpture: A Musical Instrument
  3. Too Much Art in New York
  4. Sculpture versus 3D-Printing

 

Which one was your favorite?

Seriously misunderstood books: “The Prince” and “Fahrenheit 451”

The Prince by Machiavelli is regarded by many people as a staple in their philosophy, where they see that leaders should be firm, feared and mean. Fahrenheit 451, something we all read in school, is strongly believed to be about government censortship.

The truth is completely the opposite, read here on something we all got wrong about The Prince and Fahrenheit 451 (and several other books).

Crazy!