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Online Courses for Creating Art

Happy Thursday, beloveds! I am getting excited for the upcoming weekend – how about you? I hope your day is going well and I also hope that you have a lot to look forward to in the days ahead.

I know that I write a lot about the arts, because art is one of my passions. However, I tend to write from the perspective of the art appreciator/collector. As a result, I think that I may have neglected some of the aspiring artists that might be reading this blog and wanting more information about honing their craft.

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Well, that comes to an end today! This post is all about free online courses for aspiring artists. Yes, the art instruction that you may need to close the knowledge gap for certain techniques and skills can be found online, for free. This is especially useful if you are trying to keep educational costs low while you practice your art.

The first link I’m sharing is Artyfactory, where aspiring artists can learn techniques for working with different media (pencil, charcoal, acrylic and more) as well as how to create different types of art (portraits, still drawing, animals, etc.,). The website looks very minimal, but since the courses are free, I’m sure the owners of the site would appreciate visitors clicking on the ads and supporting in any way that you can.

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The next site, Art Prof, was first highlighted in this article on Artsy (one of my favorite sites!). I really like the format of Art Prof, and the courses are especially useful for artists that are trying to master more advanced techniques (like oil painting, working with balsa wood, stop motion animation, and more). Art Prof has a Patreon page so it’s easy to donate and keep this website free for all users.

I hope you all find these resources useful! Enjoy, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

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A Tale of Two Cleopatras: Comparing and Contrasting Art

Happy Thursday, friends! After a recent trip to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, I found myself with a few art photos that I wanted to share with you all, but I wanted to do something a little different. Instead of sharing the photos and simply telling you what I think about it, I decided that it would be more fun to compare the art with a similarly themed piece that I’ve also viewed in person. That way, I can describe the similarities, differences, and which piece I favor most.

(from left to right) Edmonia Lewis, The Death of Cleopatra; William Wetmore Story, Cleopatra

As you can see from the title, I’m comparing two marble Cleopatras today. The first work was part of my review of Edmonia Lewis’s work at the Archives of American Art (housed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum). Lewis’s The Death of Cleopatra was easily one of my favorite marble works of art at the museum.

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Photos of Lewis’s version of Cleopatra

The second Cleopatra is by William Wetmore Story, and is located at VMFA. This Cleopatra – his earliest version of the tragic Egyptian queen – is located in the American galleries at the museum. The massive work sits imposingly in the gallery and, in true queenly fashion, all other art in the room are dwarfed by the stunning Cleopatra.

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To keep this focused strictly on the works themselves, I avoided reading up on Wetmore Story. So there won’t be a comparison of the artists’ lives or legacies, but we will get into these pieces and discuss what they have in common and how they differ.

For starters, the subject is the same with both pieces. Both depict Queen Cleopatra, and (interestingly) both of the pieces portray her as having traditionally Greco-Roman facial features (kudos to the artists for remaining historically accurate when it came to her face). Both statues are massive: Lewis’s is a bit taller, but the posture is different, so they are actually very close in size. Amusingly, both also depict Cleopatra with one breast exposed. Perhaps they knew something about traditional Egyptian dress that I don’t?

While both of these Cleopatras are regal and elegant, the theme of the works couldn’t be more different. Wetmore Story’s Cleopatra is pensive and in deep contemplation: she is troubled by something and has probably just asked her servants to give her some privacy. Is she thinking about lost loves, or the impending downfall of her rule? Her mind may be racing over any number of things.

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Lewis’s Cleopatra has just committed suicide and is dying on her throne as her last royal act. She has just closed her eyes and her left arm has fallen limply to her side. Even in death, her face is struggling to relax comfortably: this queen is pained to the grave.

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As far as fine detailing on the pieces, I’m a fan of Wetmore Story’s version. To be fair, Lewis’s work had been exposed to considerable environmental elements and poor handling, so the sculpture isn’t as impeccably detailed as it (likely) once was.

My favorite Cleopatra is probably Lewis’s version, for this reason: she captured death and pain without making it grotesque or unnaturally pretty. This Cleopatra is finding it difficult to “rest in peace” but, ever the royal, she makes us feel pride, and not pity, for her. Wetmore Story’s Cleopatra is enchanting, for sure: I loved how well he captured her troubled mental state behind her stoic, regal expression. His Cleopatra is alive with emotion; however, Lewis’s Cleopatra moves us even in death.

That’s my not-so-quick comparison of two Cleopatras. I hope you all enjoyed and will make it a goal to see both of these beautiful works at some point in time. Enjoy your day, and I’ll chat with you all tomorrow!

 

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A Few More Pictures from “What Remains to Be Seen”

I have a few more pictures from the exhibit, “What Remains to Be Seen”, featuring the works of Howardena Pindell. I wrote about the exhibit previously, but I returned to see it one more time before it left. Pindell’s work left a huge impression on me, if you couldn’t tell!

I hope you all enjoy these final glimpses of the exhibition. I will treasure the time that I spent learning about Pindell and marveling over her work. Stopping by VMFA one more time before the exhibition left was a wise decision: I’m glad that I did it!

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Howardena Pindell’s “What Remains to Be Seen” at VMFA

A few months ago, I went to a special event at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, announcing an upcoming exhibition. That exhibition was a retrospective of the creative career of Howardena Pindell, multimedia artist, activist and professor. “What Remains to be Seen” is an impressive ouevre that showcases Pindell’s evolution as an artist, and is broken down into the different phases of her life and creative journey.

Today (November 25) is the last day to see the works, so I’m heading to the museum shortly so I can enjoy them one last time before they leave. However, I’ve got a few pictures for you all in this post, some additional commentary (of course LOL!) as well as a YouTube video of Pindell’s most famous short, “Free, White and 21”. Enjoy!

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Howardena Pindell

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Pindell’s use of grids and numbers created some of her most riveting work. I love seeing how she turns numbers and otherwise sterile, math-related tools and objects, into art.

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The 3-d grid below is a good example of the blend of art and math. It’s probably one of my favorite works by her.

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The tiny individual circles affixed to many of Pindell’s pieces reveal her love of mathematic perfection reinterpreted. These pieces, attached to the grids she loved to work with, were occasionally numbered individually.

Like many artists, Pindell sought to promote cultural shifts through activism. Her works also featured socio-political themes that were near and dear to her.

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One of my favorite themes explored by Pindell was that of science. Closely related to her mathematics fascination, her interpretation of natural phenomenon and wonders created some of her most aesthetically charming works (though, to be honest, I love all of her work and find it all aesthetically pleasing). I especially loved “Nautilus” and “Night Flight” (pictures are below).

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Finally, here is “Free, White and 21”, Pindell’s video experiment where she aims to repair her memory loss (caused by a serious car accident) by recalling memories from earlier in her life.

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Celebrity Curators – Art’s Magic Bullet?

Happy Tuesday, beloveds! I’m enjoying these glimmers of summer that will be happening this week, as I’m still a bit resistant to the beginning of fall. I’ll get on board eventually, but for now, I’ll savor whatever warm weather I can get!

In the past, I did the Collector Conundrum series, where I considered different issues regarding the world of art collecting. This is a sort of addendum to that topic: not directly related to the conundrums discussed but a little something to consider. I recently read this article on Angela Bassett curating an art show for Band of Vices Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. I thought about the appeal of a major celebrity, personally selecting artwork that she found interesting, impactful, and meaningful. It occurred to me that the celebrity curator could be a magic bullet for some of what’s ailing the art world.

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Angela Bassett, actress and first-time art curator (photo courtesy of Instagram)

There will always be art collectors, enthusiasts, dealers, etc.,. However, the inclusion and integration of younger collectors has been challenge for some art institutions, especially in this age that emphasizes minimalism and location independence. With the prominent shift away from excess and a prioritization of living with less, art ownership is still prestigious but not as alluring to many young would-be collectors.

But the celebrity curator is a fascinating draw for museums and galleries: the collaboration can be good for the institutions as well as the celebrity. Institutions get a fresh vision from an individual that is probably very similar to many potential collectors (people that probably purchase art using their personal taste and amateur-to-intermediate level knowledge); celebrities get the chance to express themselves in a new way, meet new people that share their interests, and support cultural institutions in a substantial way.

Personally, I’m excited to see what other celebrity curators arise in the upcoming years. I’d also be interested to see how many galleries and museums see a rise in sales and visitors due to these celebrity-curated exhibits. This could be a great opportunity to leverage current tastes into museum and gallery success. I hope that these institutions explore and take advantage of celebrity curator opportunities in the future.

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Review: Nasher Museum of Art

During my trip to Raleigh, I had a chance to tour the Nasher Museum of Art (Nasher). The museum is located on Duke University’s campus and was easy to find. Nasher’s focus is contemporary art from artists of color, though there were several exhibits that covered ancient and more modern periods of time.

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I spent a few hours enjoying the exhibits and taking a few pictures for you all. I will be doing a separate post about one (maybe two) of the exhibits that really caught my eye. Until then, enjoy!

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5 Things That Will Transform the Art Market

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As part of my personal study of the art market, I like to see if I can predict trends and spot opportunities within this realm.

I identified 5 things that are poised to cause a complete shift in the art world as we know it. Continue reading to learn about what I suspect will completely transform the art market.

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Cryptocurrency – Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology will continue to be a factor in the art market. Both the legal and black markets will thrive due to the fact that cryptocurrency makes it easier to exchange value without dealing with traditionally recognized currency. Blockchain can be repurposed to assist with provenance research and the public nature of its design will continue to transform how art is traded and sold.

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The Push for Diversity in Museum Leadership and Galleries – After the Brooklyn Museum faced tremendous backlash over hiring a White curator for its African Art department, a spotlight was shone on the lack of diversity within the museum world. Since then, there have been numerous discussions over how the art world will rise to the occasion and foster a more diverse environment. Even the New York Times has asked questions about the ethnic makeup of the world of art dealing. Obviously, there is a lot of potential here and the museums and galleries that take the lead in this regard will position themselves to stay current and relevant in these ever-changing times.

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Elimination of Section 1031 Provisions – With the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, Section 1031 of the tax code eliminated the loophole that allowed art investors to defer the realization of capital gains for an indefinite period of time. This has sent investors scrambling to devise a new tax strategy when it comes to the sale and later purchase of art. Fortunately, there are some preliminary measures that will offer an alternative to Section 1031, though it will take some creative accounting and subject matter mastery to execute properly. It’ll be exciting to see what other innovations come along that will benefit art investors.

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Virtual Art Galleries – In this increasingly digital world, it should be no surprise that the virtual art gallery will account for a healthy portion of art sales. Virtual galleries appeal to a previously unexplored group of patrons: this virtual space combines the collectors that want to enjoy art but are too busy to go browse a gallery in person with the art lovers that may have initially been intimidated by going to a gallery in person. The flexibility and ease of purchase will continue to appeal to many art enthusiasts, and I imagine that this form of art vending will continue to grow in popularity. A few of the most popular online art vendors can be found by clicking here.

Barack Obama  as painted by Kehinde Wiley; Michelle Obama as painted by Amy Sherald

Renewed Interest in Artists of Color – Artists of color are not unpopular but have largely been ignored or relegated to “supporting” roles in art museums and galleries. However, there has been a renewed interest in artists of color, especially since these artists have many influential fans and collectors. Barack and Michelle Obama both chose Black artist to create their official Presidential and First Lady portraits. High profile collectors are seeking to carve a space for these artists that will allow the artwork to shine in its own right. Pamela Joyner has graciously allowed her personal collection to be exhibited nationwide in the Solidary and Solitary exhibition. In a recent article on Artnet, Tina Knowles Lawson gives a tour of her art collection. Collectors aren’t the only ones bringing artists of color into the spotlight. Within the past 10 years, there have been more retrospectives featuring artists of color than ever before. A retrospective of Howardena Pindell’s work is slated to exhibit at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and it’s already gathering lots of buzz.

 

Those are my predictions for the changes that will transform the art market. Do you have any predictions that you think may affect the art world as we know it? Let me know in the comments below: I’d love to hear your thoughts!