A little piece of a long-dead artist is coming back to life in New York this fall when Diemut Strebe’s creepy living copy of Vincent van Gogh’s ear makes its New York debut at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.
Titled Sugababe, the ear was created using genetic samples Strebe collected from Lieuwe van Gogh, the great-great-grandson of Theo van Gogh, the Post-Impressionist artist‘s brother. Strebe used computer imaging technology to recreate the ear’s shape based on its appearance in van Gogh’s self-portraits, and a computer processor the simulates nerve pulses allegedly allows the ear to hear.
“I’m not sure that everyone understands the full scientific and biological implications,” the artist writes. “The scientific approach is based on the Theseus’s paradox by Plutarch… He asked if a ship would be the same ship if all its parts were replaced. This paradox is brought into a 21st-century context by using a living cell line (from Lieuwe van Gogh) in which we replaced (at least as a proof of principle) his natural DNA with historical and synthesized DNA.”
Perhaps the most famous detached body part in all of art history, van Gogh allegedly cut off his ear when he had a mental breakdown, although some German historians now think Paul Gauguin may have cut off van Gogh’s ear with a rapier following a heated argument between the two artists, according to the book Van Goghs Ohr: Paul Gauguin und der Pakt des Schweigens (Van Gogh’s Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence). Though the ear has been recreated, scientists haven’t been able to slow the fading of van Gogh’s paintings.
The scientifically-minded show also includes Social Sculpture: The Scent of Joseph Beuys, a scent-based piece inspired by the German Fluxus artist’s 1974 performance at René Block’s gallery in New York titled, I Like America and America Likes Me. With the help of International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., Strebe has reduced Beuys‘s original work into seven scents, like “gallery” and “coyote,” which are meant to evoke Beuys‘s experience living for a week with a wild coyote in the gallery space.
Diemut Strebe’s “Free Radicals: Sugababe & Other Works” is on view at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, 31 Mercer Street, New York, November 7–December 5, 2015.
A 43-year-old man has been arrested and charged with smashing a $120,000 Dale Chihuly sculpture. The piece was on view at the artist’s retrospective in his hometown at the Tacoma Museum of Art in Washington.
The incident took place on Friday, while the exhibition was closed. The suspect is believed to have knocked over Chihuly‘s Gilded Lavender Ikebana with Lapis Stem and Two Leaves, shattering the delicate blown glass.
“On the video surveillance, the defendant’s arm swung forward and a large amount of breaking colored glass appears on the floor,” wrote deputy prosecutor April McComb, according to the News Tribune.
The man is being held on $20,000 bail, and has pleaded not guilty on the charge of one count of first-degree malicious mischief. He has previously been convicted of malicious mischief, second-degree robbery, and custodial assault, and has a history of felony charges from as far back as 2006.
The News Tribune cites court records indicating the defendant has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, antisocial disorder, and bipolar disorder. In the past, he has been involuntarily medicated in order to be able to stand trial.
After vandalizing the Chihuly sculpture, the man reportedly attempted to enter another closed exhibition before being confronted by security. He pulled a fire alarm in his rush to leave the museum, and has also been charged with sounding a false alarm.
Staff members cleaned up the shattered glass, and the museum was able to remain open the rest of the day.
This is not the first time Chihuly’s colorful glass artwork has been the victim of criminal activity. This past year, a group of friends scaled the walls of the Denver Botanic Gardens on a drunken whim and made off with four pieces by the Washington-based artist worth $100,000. After realizing how serious the theft was the following morning, the thieves stashed the sculptures in a corn field, where three of them were accidentally destroyed during the harvest.
The Chihuly operation has also been beset by in-house theft, with employee Christopher Robert Kaul allegedly stealing $3 million-worth of glass art and reselling it at deep discounts to fund his drug addiction. The ongoing thefts went undiscovered for over a year, even after Kaul was let go due to his drug problem, due to the warehouse’s poor inventory control.
The Tacoma Art Museum’s Chihuly retrospective mostly consists of donations to the institution from the artist, according to a statement on the exhibition website. “His gifts to the museum’s permanent collection represent the artist’s recognition of the importance of his hometown as a constant source of inspiration and support throughout his career.”
The youngest child of three, Andy was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928 in the working-class neighborhood of Oakland, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Stricken at an early age with a rare neurological disorder, the young Andy Warhol found solace and escape in the form of popular celebrity magazines and DC comic books, imagery he would return to years later. Predating the multiple silver wigs and deadpan demeanor of later years, Andy experimented with inventing personae during his college years. He signed greeting cards “André”, and ultimately dropped the “a” from his last name, shortly after moving to New York and following his graduation with a degree in Pictorial Design from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1949.
Work came quickly to Warhol in New York, a city he made his home and studio for the rest of his life. Within a year of arriving, Warhol garnered top assignments as a commercial artist for a variety of clients including Columbia Records, Glamour magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, NBC, Tiffany & Co., Vogue, and others. He also designed fetching window displays for Bonwit Teller and I. Miller department stores. After establishing himself as an acclaimed graphic artist, Warhol turned to painting and drawing in the 1950s, and in 1952 he had his first solo exhibition at the Hugo Gallery, with Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote. As he matured, his paintings incorporated photo-based techniques he developed as a commercial illustrator. The Museum of Modern Art (among others) took notice, and in 1956 the institution included his work in his first group show.
The turbulent 1960s ignited an impressive and wildly prolific time in Warhol’s life. It is this period, extending into the early 1970s, which saw the production of many of Warhol’s most iconic works. Building on the emerging movement of Pop Art, wherein artists used everyday consumer objects as subjects, Warhol started painting readily found, mass-produced objects, drawing on his extensive advertising background. When asked about the impulse to paint Campbell’s soup cans, Warhol replied, “I wanted to paint nothing. I was looking for something that was the essence of nothing, and that was it”. The humble soup cans would soon take their place among the Marilyn Monroes, Dollar Signs, Disasters, and Coca Cola Bottles as essential, exemplary works of contemporary art.
Despite a brief self-declared retirement from painting following an exhibition of Flowers in Paris, Warhol continued to make sculptures (including the well known screenprinted boxes with the logos of Brillo and Heinz Ketchup) prints, and films. During this time he also expanded his interests into the realm of performance and music, producing the traveling multi-media spectacle, The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, with the Velvet Underground and Nico.
In 1968 Warhol suffered a nearly fatal gun-shot wound from aspiring playwright and radical feminist author, Valerie Solanas. The shooting, which occurred in the entrance of the Factory, forever changed Warhol. Some point to the shock of this event as a factor in his further embrace of an increasingly distant persona. The brush with death along with mounting pressure from the Internal Revenue Service (stemming from his critical stance against President Richard Nixon), seem to have prompted Warhol to document his life to an ever more obsessive degree. He would dictate every activity, including noting the most minor expenses, and employ interns and assistants to transcribe the content of what would amount to over 3,400 audio tapes. Portions of these accounts were published posthumously in 1987 as The Warhol Diaries.
The traumatic attempt on his life did not, however, slow down his output or his cunning ability to seamlessly infiltrate the worlds of fashion, music, media, and celebrity. His artistic practice soon intersected with all aspects of popular culture, in some cases long before it would become truly popular. He co-founded Interview Magazine; appeared on television in a memorable episode of The Love Boat; painted an early computer portrait of singer Debbie Harry; designed Grammy-winning record covers for The Rolling Stones; signed with a modeling agency; contributed short films to Saturday Night Live; and produced Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes and Andy Warhol’s TV, his own television programs for MTV and cable access. He also developed a strong business in commissioned portraits, becoming highly sought after for his brilliantly-colored paintings of politicians, entertainers, sports figures, writers, debutantes and heads of state. His paintings, prints, photographs and drawings of this time include the important series, Skulls, Guns, Camouflage, Mao, and The Last Supper.
While in Milan, attending the opening of the exhibition of The Last Supper paintings, Warhol complained of severe pain in his right side. After delaying a hospital visit, he was eventually convinced by his doctors to check into New York Hospital for gall bladder surgery. On February 22, 1987, while in recovery from this routine operation, Andy Warhol died. Following burial in Pittsburgh, thousands of mourners paid their respects at a memorial service held at Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The service was attended by numerous associates and admirers including artists Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, and entertainer Liza Minnelli. Readings were contributed by Yoko Ono and Factory collaborator and close friend, Brigid Berlin. Andy would have been 87 today.
More than twenty years after his death, Andy Warhol remains one of the most influential figures in contemporary art and culture. Warhol’s life and work inspires creative thinkers worldwide thanks to his enduring imagery, his artfully cultivated celebrity, and the ongoing research of dedicated scholars. His impact as an artist is far deeper and greater than his one prescient observation that “everyone will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” His omnivorous curiosity resulted in an enormous body of work that spanned every available medium and most importantly contributed to the collapse of boundaries between high and low culture.
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Essentially, a COA is a document, created by the artist or someone who is an expert on the artist, which accompanies an artwork and contains all the information a collector could need to verify if the piece of art is genuine.
A Certificate of Authenticity (COA) provides a lot of concrete detail about a piece, but by existing for a particular piece, it says even more. An artwork that has a COA is one that is made by a professional practicing artist, not an amateur. It is a piece that has collectible value. The Certificate adds a tangible credibility to the work. It can help the work hold its value.
The COA is held to be an indirect promise of quality. Art pieces that have a COA have usually been made by an artist who cares about their work, its longevity and their collectors. The piece is likely to have been created from the best materials available, be designed to last and been created by an expert. Back to the concrete details, the Certificate will provide all the information on the medium(s) of the piece needed for conservation that might otherwise be lost forever.
Certificates protect the artist and the buyer by helping to prove that an artwork is original. Cheap copies sold without an artist’s knowledge or consent is unfortunately common. Without a COA attached, this situation makes it next to impossible for the buyer to be confident of the value of the piece or for the artist to maintain their credibility and their livelihood.
As an art collector, you really must only buy Fine Art pieces that are backed by a Certificate of Authenticity. This helps ensure that what you have bought at a premium is genuine and not counterfeit.