In Support of Key Workers

April 6, 2020


British graphic artist Craig Oldham has produced this poster in support of all the workers continuing to deliver essential services through this virus crisis.  He notes that these now-essential workers are often the lowest paid and the least considered.

Thanks to Creative Review.

The Sensual Dadaist

April 4, 2020

A long time ago, probably in the mid-1960s, I found the Dadaists much to my taste. Of that group, perhaps Jean (or Hans) Arp has stayed with me longest. He was the only Dadaist to produce truly graceful artworks in contrast to the wrecking crew as some have dubbed the other anarchists.

Self portrait, about 1922

In an article for its online magazine, Christie’s describes Arp’s work as “playful, ambiguous, sensuous” and “alluring.”

“The highest 25 prices for Arp pieces at auction have all been realised in the past 15 years. According to Didier Hess, two types of work are the most sought-after. One are his bas-reliefs from the 1920s, which are rare and bear witness to Arp’s seminal role in the development of Surrealism.  The other, of course, are his biomorphic sculptures executed in prestigious materials such as white marble or black granite — and characterised by their purity of line and immaculate polished surface.”

A fine example of the latter is Demeter, created in 1961 and sold at auction in 2018 for $5.825,000.

Artwork: © DACS 2020


The Christie’s article is in advance of a coming sale of an Arp.  Selon Les Lois Du Hasard — a wood relief, 11 ½ x 17 ½ x 1 3/8 in., executed in 1951 in an edition of 3 — is expected to sell for about $55,000:


Jean Arp died in 1966.

Painting By Numbers

April 1, 2020


Today is the first anniversary of the death of Dan Robbins. You may not know his name, but you have almost certainly heard of the product he invented — Paint By Numbers.

Long before Bob Ross seduced the PBS audience into believing they could paint, Dan Robbins and the Palmer Paint Company sold millions and millions of kits to upwardly mobile folks in the 1950s and ’60s.  Even my mother and father — without an artistic bone in either body — insisted on placing their paint-by-numbers efforts around the house.

“Robbins’s paint-by-number kits, which were conceived as a way to promote Palmer Paint Co. paint sets to a wider audience,” according to an article in “were developed in conjunction with the company’s owner, Max Klein, and went on sell millions. Robbins was tasked with finding a way to market the paint kits to adults and found inspiration for his blockbuster invention in an odd factoid about the work of Leonardo da Vinci. ‘I remembered hearing that Leonardo used numbered background patterns for his students and apprentices, and I decided to try something like that,’ Robbins said …”

“The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History presented a paint-by-number exhibition in 2001, shifting critical conception of the painting fad from déclassé kitsch to a legitimately interesting and eminently collectible form of popular Americana. In step with the exhibition, Robbins authored a book, Whatever Happened to Paint-By-Numbers?: A Humorous Personal Account of What it Took to Make Anyone an ‘Artist’, but it was clear that he had a humble and balanced view of the artistic importance of his best-known invention.”

On April 1, 2019 Dan Robbins died in Sylvania, Ohio at the age of 93.


Moving Art by Caleb Schaub

March 28, 2020

Put this on full screen and just watch the creation process. Fascinating stuff.

How To Make A Tree Disappear

March 25, 2020

Marvelous work here!

Another Look at Lucian Freud

March 19, 2020


Long-time readers may recall that I have a real fondness and admiration for the painter Lucian Freud and his works. There is no uncertainty in my mind that he was the greatest British painter of our age. A long article in New Criterion gives me the excuse to repeat my praise.

Andrew L. Shea’s Facing Lucian Freud is a review of The Lives of Lucian Freud: The Restless Years, 1922–1968 by William Feaver and a reflection on the Lucian Freud: The Self Portraits exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

“Ithe modern era, few artists have gripped the public’s imagination with a legend of biography and cult of personality quite like Lucian Freud. Rarely is the painter invoked without at least a sideline reminder of his influential grandfather (Sigmund), usually followed by the observation that he is confirmed to have fathered fourteen children of his own (twelve illegitimate) and probably spawned many more than this (estimates from the rumor mill rise as high as forty). Then we learn of his extraordinary gambling addiction and his wildly polarized social life—running with the literary, noble, and social elites of his generation one night, consorting joyfully with the some of the grimiest characters from London’s seedy underbelly the next. When the conversation does turn toward the pictures, it normally stops first to linger on the astronomically high auction prices they began to receive in the twenty-first century, especially in the years preceding and following his death in 2011.

Feaver’s aim is to bring context to Freud’s paintings.

“On a basic level, Freud’s claim that “everything is biographical” aligns with the fact that he drew and painted the people he knew, the things he liked, in his studio and home. As such, Feaver’s account of Freud’s life as he went about meeting these people and bringing them into the sitter’s chair is useful from an art-historical perspective …

“Feaver conducted what he says are thousands of interviews with Freud, and these sometimes daily conversations have formed the backbone of his book. Indeed, nearly every page contains firsthand testimonial from the painter, and many pages are filled primarily with Freud’s voice. This gives the biography a lively, often very funny, and intimate character. It also allows us an in-depth look into how Freud, reticent and reluctant to discuss the work publicly while he was alive, viewed his own artistic project.”

Shea then turns to the show in Boston which features a collection of more than forty works of self-portraiture that span the bulk of Freud’s seven-decade career.


Shea is a fine critic and a perceptive viewer of Freud through the decades.  He concludes his well worthwhile article:

Lucian Freud: The Self Portraits may not answer all our questions about the relationship between this fascinating artist and his often unsettling work. But it’s a welcome opportunity to ponder the same in front of unusually powerful pictures. Together, the exhibition and William Feaver’s new biography offer as penetrating a look into the man behind the mirror as we’ve had to date.”

Agora’s World of Work

March 17, 2020

The photography app Agora has announced the winner of their 2020 Images of Work contest. It is a stunning image:

Washing Water Lilies by @ptkhanhhvnh


Agora’s site displays all 50 finalists and there are some wonderful images in there.  I was most attracted to:

Working in the heights by @phamhuytrung


The sound of bamboo brooms by @tuan1368