August 9, 2017

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription


In this issue:

Longtime Valley art supply store prepares finishing touches before closing its doors
Spanish painter Salvador Dali exhumed to test if fortune teller is his daughter
CCAD students, faculty to benefit from tools, supplies of deceased printmaker
Why Do We Love Art?
Guten Co.
Artist dubbed 'da Vinci of dirt' creates works on dirty car windows as part of Townsville's Strand Ephemera
Banksy’s “Balloon Girl” Voted Britain’s Favorite Artwork
The 130-Year-Old Paint Shop That Invented Oil Pastels for Picasso
Donald Trump’s Drawing of the New York City Skyline Just Sold for $29,184 at Auction
Humans Prefer Computer-Generated Paintings to Those at Art Basel
RIGHT AT HOME: Home decorators embrace big, bold wall art

 

 

  


Longtime Valley art supply store prepares finishing touches before closing its doors

RESEDA, CA: Steve Aufhäuser reached into his pant pocket for his red handkerchief — the one with a western design. He used it to dab his teary eyes and reflect on the end of his beloved art supply store, started by his refugee parents 57 years ago in Reseda.

Aufhäuser, 61, is headed into bitter-sweet, deliberate retirement near Ashland, Ore., to live out his life near his twin brother, Kim, even though Continental Art Supplies on Reseda Boulevard is having a banner year.

For Aufhäuser, who has been a part of the business — if not owning it — most of his life, it was time to go, a move that had been in the planning stages for some time.

He and his staff hurried around the two-story operation on Wednesday, stocking shelves in anticipation of selling off multitudes of brushes, paints, pencils, pens, paper and other art supplies over the next two months.

“It has been my life’s honor,” Aufhäuser said about running the shop, which has served generations of art students, movie studios, product and industrial designers.

He attributes the success of the family business to honesty, a hard and fast rule passed down from his parents, in spite of competition from desktop publishing, computers and the Internet.

“Honesty is our business model,” said Aufhäuser, who has been on an emotional roller coaster, excited about retirement but heartbroken at other times.

He isn’t an artist, but the man knows his art materials.

It was 35 years ago he took over the store after his older brother drowned.

His father was 69 years old, and somebody had to take over the family business, which ultimately developed into a Valley institution.

“Blood is thicker than water,” he said, his chest heaving up and down with emotion. “I was born into the business.”

Carolyn Rice, a 22-year employee — one of a dozen who have worked there for years — said that when a longtime customer recently came in she was almost in tears thinking about the store closing.

“Working here is like taking a class in art, methods and materials. I don’t do oil painting, but I know how to start and end,” said Rice.

Will Villereal, who runs the air brush department, said he will miss the personal connections with customers he’s built up the past 19 years.

“They have been heartfelt relationships,” Villereal said. “It’s been a blessing to have customers satisfied … saying they want to come back.”

As of midafternoon Wednesday, Continental’s Facebook page was lighting up with comments that ranged from expressions of sadness to thank yous to posts about life’s journeys that started at the store.

Reseda resident Karin Gable is one of those customers.

Now 63, Gable started buying art supplies at Continental as a budding artist in her early school years.

With the store gone, she’s going to have to do a bit more planning when it comes to her art supplies.

“It’s very convenient for me,” said Gable, an artist, calligrapher and graphic designer. “If I ran out of something I could just (quick) go and get it. I’ll have to do mail orders, but that’s not the same as going into the store where you can test the snap of a paint brush and see and feel if that’s what you want. You can’t do that online.”

Another relationship that defined Aufhäuser’s business was that of his parents.

They were immigrants. His father, Robert, fled Germany during World War II. He ended up in England.

With Greta, his wife, they came to the United States in 1948. She was an artist and teacher. He was a banker.

But he was fed up with the business, so she suggested he start an art supply business. After three years as an apprentice, Robert started his own store, with young Steve Aufhäuser learning every step of the way.

Among the biggest lessons?

He said his parents taught him you have to have courage to ask questions and the discipline to listen to the answers.

If you can apply that approach to customers, he said, “Then the customer leaves with a positive experience, and with the right materials, so they can be successful.” Los Angeles Daily News


Spanish painter Salvador Dali exhumed to test if fortune teller is his daughter

FIGUERES, SPAIN: Forensics experts exhumed Salvador Dali's remains from a tomb in his Spanish hometown on Thursday, nearly three decades after his death, in order to test a fortune teller's claims that she is the only daughter of the surrealist.

Working behind closed doors, they removed a slab weighing more than a tonne which covers the tomb of the artist at the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueras in northeastern Spain where he was born.

"The biological specimens have been taken from Salvador Dali’s remains," Catalonia’s High Court of Justice said in a statement around 11:50 pm (2150 GMT).

It said Dali's coffin had been opened at 10:20 pm so that work could begin.

The DNA samples in the form of bone or tooth fragments will be sent to Madrid to undergo the necessary tests.

A crowd of onlookers gathered outside the elaborate museum of Dali's work to watch as police escorted the experts into the building which is topped by a huge metallic dome decorated with egg shapes. Dali designed the building himself.

The museum, a top tourist site that drew over 1.1 million visitors last year, was covered in some places with cloth to prevent drones from capturing images.

"A day like this arouses in me a great deal of feeling because it reminds me of the day of his death," Maria Lorca, who was the mayor of Figueras at the time of Dali's death in 1989 at age 84, told AFP.

The eccentric artist would have enjoyed the atmosphere outside the museum, Lorca added.

"He would feel at home, it is a day that suits his way of being," Lorca said.

A huge fortune 

Pilar Abel, a 61-year-old who long worked as a psychic in Catalonia, says her mother had a relationship with the artist when she worked in Cadaques, a picturesque Spanish port where the painter lived for years.

A Madrid judge last month granted her a DNA test to find out whether her allegations are true.

If Abel is confirmed as Dali's only child, she could be entitled to 25 percent of the huge fortune and heritage of one of the most celebrated and prolific painters of the 20th century, the woman's lawyer Enrique Blanquez said.

Dali's estate, which includes properties and hundreds of paintings, is entirely in the hands of the Spanish state.

The Salvador Dali Foundation which manages the estate says it was worth nearly 400 million euros ($460 million) at the end of 2016.

The Salvador Dali Foundation is to provide details of the exhumation at a press conference on Friday at 8:00 am (0600 GMT).

Abel has already provided a saliva sample for comparison and the results are expected within a matter of weeks.

In an interview with AFP last month, just days after a court ordered the exhumation, Abel said her grandmother had told her she was Dali's daughter when she was seven or eight years old. Her mother admitted it much later.

Abel is from the city of Figueras, like Dali, and she said she would often see him in the streets.

"We wouldn't say anything, we would just look at each other. But a glance is worth a thousand words," she said.

'Known in the village' 

A question has always hung over his sexuality, with some claiming he was a closet homosexual who preferred to watch others having sex rather than taking part.

But according to Abel's lawyer Blanquez, his affair was "known in the village, there are people who have testified before a notary".

Born on May 11, 1904 in Figueras to a bourgeois family, Dali developed an interest in painting from an early age.

In 1922 he began studying at the Fine Arts Academy in Madrid where he developed his first avant-garde artistic ideas in association with poet Federico Garcia Lorca and the filmmaker Luis Bunuel.

Soon he left for Paris to join the surrealist movement, giving the school his own personal twist and rocketing to fame with works such as "The Great Masturbator."

Returning to Catalonia after 12 years, he invited French poet Paul Eluard and his Russian wife Elena Ivanovna Diakonova to Cadaques.

She became his muse -- he gave her the pet name Gala -- and remained at his side for the rest of her life.

They never had children and she died in 1982, seven years before Dali's death. artdaily.org

 

CCAD students, faculty to benefit from tools, supplies of deceased printmaker

COLUMBUS, OH: For many decades, Dorothea “Dotti” Lipetz created art in a studio spread over several rooms in her Upper Arlington split-level.

Now some of her tools and supplies will be used by students at the Columbus College of Art & Design.

After Lipetz died in February at 94, her three sons decided that she would have wanted young people to use the art supplies she’d left behind.

So her youngest son, Bob, called the Department of Development Advancement at CCAD.

This month, Professor Kathy McGhee, who teaches printmaking, and Brittany Campbell, program liaison for the Fine Arts Department, drove to Lipetz’s house and packed their cars with boxes of materials, much of it used for printmaking.

Discover local artists with our Window on the World

“She was a great printmaker,” said Barbara Vogel, a Columbus artist who works in photo encaustics and who worked at the now-closed Lanning Gallery in the Short North, where Lipetz had two exhibits.

Some of Lipetz’s prints found their way into limited-edition art books. The tools she used to make these and other pieces — gouges for cutting wood, chisels, sharpening stones, and “a beautiful assortment of brayers” for rolling paint,” McGhee said — are now in the print lab at CCAD, along with an ample supply of high-quality paper, blotters for prints, and wood for carving.

McGhee has been carefully sharpening the gouges and other implements.

“The students are going to be thrilled,” she said.

Gouges and other printmaking equipment can be expensive, and many of the college’s 1,200 students arrive on a strict budget and with little equipment of their own.

Even a homely can of ink-stained wooden spoons of various sizes and shapes has hidden value. A brayer applied to paper distributes the ink on a block evenly onto paper, but pressure applied by a spoon allows more control, allowing darker ink in some spots and lighter elsewhere.

Some of Lipetz’s other supplies — such as colorful plexiglass, acrylics and watercolors — can be found at the Amelita Mirolo Fine Arts Building, where Campbell is setting up a supply-exchange room.

The room, to be run by fine-arts student Margaret Kammerer, will be stocked with art supplies. A few times a week during the semester, students and professors will be able to trade supplies they no longer need for ones they do.

Campbell came up with the idea for the room while cleaning out classrooms after spring semester and found many supplies left behind by students who didn’t want to, say, fly home with half-used tubes of paint.

“I’m a big environmentalist,” she said. “I hate to see waste piling up in a landfill. And art schools can be some of the worst for waste.”

The materials among Lipetz’s donations that aren’t specifically for printmaking will build up the stock in the exchange room.

Other donations, too, will go there.

Ashley Waltermeyer, director of development advancement at CCAD, receives regular phone calls about potential donations. The college can’t accept gifts of art because it doesn’t have anyone on staff to care for pieces, but supplies are often welcome.

“We’re always glad to have a conversation about a possible donation,” Waltermeyer said.

Lipetz, her son Bob thinks, would have been happy to see her supplies used to help students.

“She was always interested in empowering the young, particularly girls,” he said.

Throughout her career, Lipetz was involved not just in her own work but in helping students.

Columbus artist Lindsey Alexander, who creates ceramic mosaics, took watercolor classes from Lipetz in the 1980s at the Jewish Community Center.

They were “my first introduction to painting and making art,” said Alexander, who said she kept in touch with Lipetz through the years.

“Dotti was so curious, and she took such joy in opening up ideas for us. I thought the world of her. As a teacher, she gave me the confidence to experiment and grow.”

Lipetz’s donated supplies and tools clearly fill a practical need, but Campbell said they also serve as quiet inspiration.

“You can see which ones were her favorites — the ones that have been sharpened and resharpened,” she said as she picked up and examined some of the gouges.

“You can almost feel the history in the tools.” Columbus Alive

 

Why Do We Love Art?

Do you view graffiti as art? No? Before you dismiss it as random scrawling by disenfranchised souls striking out against civilization, pause to think about the work of street artists who paint on the side of buildings like Banksy, Alexandre Farto (aka Vhils), or Tavar Zawacki? Their work is far from whimsical or profane. Street art catches us by surprise when we first encounter it and may touch us deeply.

One working definition to distinguish between rubbish and art is if the work inspires you in some way. When art has a purpose other than to express aesthetic delight then it serves not to explain the world as we know it but to raise eyebrows. It asks questions rather than offers answers. Using this simple definition, it’s hard to belittle Banksy’s works across Manhattan as mere graffiti. They make you stop and think, reflect, smile, shake your head in wonder and disbelief. In fact, you might be more accurate in describing him as an artist who uses the fixtures of an urban landscape as his canvas.

Ironically, artists of all kinds from painters to authors to composers have only been recognized for their talents after they had died. During life they may have been seen as too edgy, controversial or even crazy but time has shown it was actually inspired talent.

The Story of Impressionism

Since art is an umbrella term for all forms of creative self-expression, all statements about it are clouded in ambiguity and vague abstractions, so let’s confine our discussion to painting, and to one style of painting, like Impressionism. This focus will help to illustrate the idea of how an artistic style once considered absurd can morph into something people view with delight.

Today, historical autographs for sale like Claude Monet’s letter relating to one of his most famous painting, The White Water Lilies, which currently hangs in Moscow’s Pushkin Museum, is considered a prized possession by an aesthete. However, when Monet first spawned Impressionism from the well-springs of his creative imagination, it was not well- received. It was widely rejected in 1860 since it did not conform to the standards established by the government-approved exhibitions, the salons. The academic art institutions shunned it because it did not have the details and the finish which was considered essential for good art. In other words, the establishment and the influential voices of the day considered it something of an anathema on the art world.

In expressing his unique view of the world. Monet said, “For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life – the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.”

His idea captured the imagination of other rebellious artists of his time, and the works of EĢdouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Alfred Sisley all contributed to the evolution of this modern movement in art painting. Impressionism created a new philosophy of art: it postulated that a scene that impressed the eye of the observer for a fleeting moment was a thing of fragile beauty that should be cherished.

What Makes Art Beautiful?

So what makes art meaningful to both the artist and an observer?

While there are many possible reasons, perhaps as many as there are observers, here are 3 conjectures why we love art:

Its part of our universal desire to connect with each other. The artist has a view of the world that he or she wants to share with others. In turn, the viewer is inspired by a different perspective on life. Impressionism, for example, emphasized the fleeting nature of light and texture, a precious impression that can only be caught in a glimpse.

Great art is a poetic description of reality. It helps us escape the mundane, escape from the ennui of taking everything for granted. Through art, we revisit the ordinary, discovering the extraordinary that we had not noticed before.
Beautiful art reminds us of our own struggles for truth, for meaning, for passionate self- expression. It touches us on a fundamental level, expressing our hopes and dreams, and our struggles and losses. It reminds us of our eternal quest to define who we are in the world. STREETARTNEWS

 

Guten Co.
Meet the San Antonio potter and letterpress operator behind Guten Co.

SAN ANTONIO, TX: When Sarah Sauer is ready to take a break from throwing one of her German minimalist–inspired ceramic mugs or creating a letterpress card, all she has to do is walk a few feet. She simply steps out from behind her pottery wheel or her nineteenth-century-era printing press and heads into the bedroom of her downtown San Antonio loft. The live/work space enables Sauer to work on either craft at any time, day or night, as inspiration hits.

Sauer started Guten Co. (“Good” in German) in her hometown of Fredericksburg in 2014. A few years later, feeling drawn to a more urban lifestyle, she moved the ceramics and letterpress operation to San Antonio. Soon after she arrived, she began teaching at the city’s Southwest School of Art, where, ten years earlier, she’d trained under master printmakers and mentors Jon and Eléonore Lee. “There is a specific art culture here that is nurturing, not dog-eat-dog,” Sauer explains. “The older generation helps the younger generation get their work shown. There are a lot of artists in San Antonio doing exciting things, and no one is holding connections close to the vest.”

Sauer’s aesthetic in both of her chosen media is clean and understated. Often done in matte shades of black and gray, her pottery reimagines traditional elements, like a handle on a mug that’s elongated or a pronounced spout on a pitcher. “These distinctions make the piece interesting to look at over time, but they also must function well. I never want the user to feel as if they have to baby any of these pieces or be reluctant about pulling them off the shelf—they are meant to be enjoyed.”

Q&A with Sarah Sauer

You have a strong German heritage. How has that influenced you creatively?

I am a sixth-generation Texan; earlier generations were all born and raised in Fredericksburg. In my adulthood, as I learned more about art and design, I came to love the functionalist art that came out of the past century of German design. I have been specifically influenced by the Bauhaus and how they promoted utilitarian arts that can embody both beauty and function in objects used in everyday life.

What was it like growing up in Fredericksburg?

I grew up just outside of town on a beautiful piece of land and had a great childhood with a lot of freedom. I am sure that had some bearing on how my creativity formed. I am a die-hard urban dweller now, though. When I grew up, I was excited to move into a city environment with lots of density, people, and noise!

Letterpress seems to be a laborious art form that requires a high skill level. Did you take to it from the beginning?

I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight. You have to be patient and practice before you get a gratifying result. But I enjoyed the challenge of learning, and my fondness came soon after. I tried it for the first time in high school, during an informal class at the Southwest School of Art, but began to take it seriously at art school.

Where did you find your printing press?

It’s a Chandler & Price, made in the 1890s. It came out of a naval frigate that was docked on the Texas coast, used for printing news and war correspondence. It’s a marvel to me the level people would go to, to have correspondence. It was completely covered in rust when I acquired it, and I refurbished it myself.

What’s next for Guten Co.?

I want to see it grow and employ artists with a similar approach to making functional art. At its heart, Guten Co. is a design studio that solves creative problems, and I think collaboration is compatible with that. I’ve spent a few years honing what I want to produce, so I plan to continue scaling up on that foundation I’ve built. Texas Monthly

 

Artist dubbed 'da Vinci of dirt' creates works on dirty car windows as part of Townsville's Strand Ephemera

The appearance of a dozen dirty old car wrecks on the main beach of Townsville a week before the city's outdoor art festival has caused a stir.

The north Queensland city's biennial Strand Ephemera event is known for its unusual installations, with artworks previously constructed from discarded bottle caps, car tyres and Lego bricks.

However, Scott Wade's Dirty Car Art had many rattled.

"I thought there would be more to the cars than just cars on the beach," regular Strand walker Alice Guild said.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but for the life of me I can see none in this," wrote Bruce Muller on the ABC North Queensland Facebook page.

But Wade's transformation of the dozen dirty cars into canvases for his artworks has changed a few minds.

"A lot of times people are like 'Why are these cars all dirty?' if it is before I've actually created artwork on them," he said.
"I usually don't answer them because it's more fun to watch their reaction when they actually see what I am doing."

The da Vinci of dirt

US-based Wade creates his art on the dirty windows of cars.

He has been dubbed the da Vinci of dirt because his pieces are incredibly detailed and almost classical in style.

The pieces are drawn using his fingers, brushes and a rubber tool, and can take up to six hours to complete.

"I lived on a long dirt road for 20 years and the cars were always dirty," Wade said.

"I would come home from work and to unwind, I would go out and draw with my finger on the car.

"I started wondering, how can I do more than just a simple line drawing?"

The best kind of dirt for art

When it comes to creating art on dirty glass, not all dirt is created equal.

Wade said the "natural canvas" accrued by a car travelling a dusty road over several weeks was optimal but not always available, so he created an artificial canvas using oil and clay dust blown onto the glass.

He said the impermanence of his pieces was part of their beauty.

"In one respect, it sort of reminds me that life is moving very quickly by," he said.

"Nothing is permanent really, so it's a great thing to be reminded to just enjoy that beauty in the moment and then let it go."

Tropical city transformed by artworks

Strand Ephemera is the city's largest art festival, attracting more than 170,000 visitors to an outdoor gallery of pieces installed along a 2.5km stretch of the Townsville shoreline.

Perc Tucker Regional Gallery education and programs coordinator Louise Cummins said visitors and locals loved seeing the foreshore transformed by the artworks.

"The whole environment and energy around The Strand changes," she said.

"It's exciting, there's anticipation, people are able to get involved."

Public workshops led by the contributing artists are a feature of Strand Ephemera.

Wade said he enjoyed sharing his techniques, and children in particular seemed to get the concept immediately.

"I like to show people that art doesn't have to be art materials that you buy in an art store," he said.
"If you don't have money you can still create art because art is all around us."

Guns and the irresistible dirty window

Wade said he was often tempted to draw an impromptu piece of art on a wonderfully dirty car en route to the supermarket.

"I have been known to do that," he said.

"But I'm from Texas and everyone carries a gun in their car in Texas, so you have to be a little bit circumspect." ABC News

 

Banksy’s “Balloon Girl” Voted Britain’s Favorite Artwork
The iconic mural beat masterpieces from John Constable, J. M. W. Turner, and David Hockney.

She graces throw pillows and mugs, the walls of dorm rooms and hostels, and Justin Bieber’s right forearm. Banky’s ubiquitous “Balloon Girl” is clearly beloved by many — so beloved, in fact, that it’s been voted Britain’s favorite work of art.

As BBC reported, the image of the girl reaching for a heart-shaped balloon beat masterpieces including John Constable’s “The Hay Wain” (1821), J. M. W. Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire” (1938), and David Hockney’s “A Bigger Splash” (1967) for the top spot. But before you mourn what some might describe as the United Kingdom’s dearth of taste, take note that this survey was commissioned by Samsung to promote a new television that doubles as a digital frame — and that it only involved 2,000 people (less than 0.003% of the nation’s population).

Still, you have to wonder what compelled the majority of those voters to choose the iconic piece of street art over the other options, which included 20 British artworks selected by “arts editors and writers,” according to the BBC. “Balloon Girl,” which was originally painted outside a Shoreditch shop in 2002, is the only example of street art on the list, but it’s also the most widely appropriated of the lot, and therefore one of the most recognizable.

Unfortunately, as this appears to be a simple poll — Samsung, unsurprisingly, does not share its methodology — we may never really know why this select pool of people snubbed traditional paintings for the Banksy. The survey also provoked a lot of people, and many Brits are pissed at or embarrassed by their fellow countrymen. The whole thing has now birthed greater conversations about what the nation’s dearest artwork should be.

Forgive me for quoting Jonathan Jones, but as The Guardian critic described the poll’s outcome, “That’s proof of our stupidity.” At least Banksy beat Anish Kapoor’s “ArcelorMittal Orbit.”

The full results of the poll are as follows:

Banksy, “Balloon Girl”
John Constable, “The Hay Wain”
Jack Vettriano, “The Singing Butler”
JMW Turner, “The Fighting Temeraire”
Antony Gormley, “The Angel of the North”
L S Lowry, “Going to the Match”
John William Waterhouse, “The Lady of Shalott”
Peter Blake, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover
Hipgnosis and George Hardie, Dark Side of the Moon album cover
George Stubbs, “Mares and Foals”
Thomas Gainsborough, “Mr and Mrs Andrews”
John Everett Millais, “Ophelia”
Andy Goldsworthy, “Balanced Rock Misty”
David Hockney, “A Bigger Splash”
Bridget Riley, “Movement in Squares”
Anish Kapoor, “ArcelorMittal Orbit”
Stik, “A Couple Hold Hands in the Street”
Maggi Hambling, “Scallop”
Henry Moore, “Reclining Figure”
Jamie Reid, Never Mind the Bollocks album cover Hyperallergic

 

The 130-Year-Old Paint Shop That Invented Oil Pastels for Picasso

PARIS, FRANCE: The French Impressionist movement was a revolution—against the government-sanctioned Salons, against the Parisian art establishment, and against the exacting detail of Realism. Artists like Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro staged an early coup d’état with the 1863 Salon des Refusés, and went on to scandalize critics with their loose brushwork and modern subjects.

Meanwhile, another revolution—this one technological—was quietly taking place behind the scenes.

In 1841, American artist John G. Rand invented the tin paint tube as a replacement for the pig bladders previously used to store paint. This innovation made it easier for artists to travel with their materials in tow, facilitating the plein air techniques that became a signature of the Impressionists. Paint itself had seen rapid developments in recent years, with the introduction of machine-ground pigment and the invention of never-before-seen synthetic hues.

In turn, the increasing diversity of available art supplies spawned a new group of experts. Until the mid-18th century, artists in Europe had purchased their pigments from drugstores that also peddled minerals, spices, and resins imported from far-flung locations like Africa and the Far East. But shop owners soon began to specialize, and by 1770 the term marchands du colours (or “color merchant”) was in regular use.

The trade flourished, particularly in Paris. In 1817, there were 79 color merchants; in 1830, 270; and by 1885, there were 600.

At least one more appeared on the scene in 1887. His name was Gustave Sennelier, a skilled draftsman who illustrated catalogues for the chemical industry. But his true passion was chemistry itself; for five years, the young man took evening classes at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers.

And then, one April morning, he saw a chance to pursue his greatest interest. Riding down Quai Voltaire in a horse-drawn carriage, Sennelier noticed a “for rent” sign posted in front of an art supply shop. He took over the lease and purchased all the remaining stock from the shop’s bankrupt owner.
At first, Sennelier sold pre-made paints. But it wasn’t long before he decided to produce his own range of colors, criss-crossing Europe to make connections with the world’s best pigment manufacturers. He transformed the previous owner’s studio into a workshop, and installed two mills to grind and mix pigments. Soon, the shop could make anywhere from 900 to 1200 tubes of paint a day—some of them, like “Chinese Orange,” exclusive to Sennelier.

Other shades were developed at the request of particular painters who patronized his shop. By the end of the 19th century, color merchants were seen less as suppliers than consultants. A painter might come into the shop requesting a darker red or a white with a matte finish. Today, Sennelier’s descendants list Alfred Sisley, Pierre Bonnard, Chaïm Soutine, and Paul Gauguin among the countless artists who walked through the door to purchase paint.

In 1912, Sennelier published The Chemistry of Colors, a guidebook that outlined how he created paint. He hoped artists would “understand the sincerity of this essay, and how it is untouched by the shadow of advertising,” he wrote. “Chemistry is a science one does not obfuscate.” He hoped to instruct artists on the importance of their materials—a singular vision at the time. He was the only color merchant of that period to publish such a book.
Sennelier did not limit himself to paint, either. Edgar Degas strolled into the store one day, requesting soft pastels in a range of browns; the colorman eventually developed a series of 700 shades in the medium, 30 of which became Degas’s own browns. Other artists, including Édouard Vuillard, purchased canvas at the shop. (The store’s current owner, Dominique Sennelier, still gets calls from curators who have discovered the Sennelier stamp on the back of paintings.)

So successful was the business that it was passed down through generations. Henri Sennelier, the grandson of Gustave, was approached by Pablo Picasso himself in 1948. The Spanish painter was living nearby, in a studio he’d found through his mistress Dora Maar (herself an artist). He’d already bought several notebooks from the shop, but that day he had a more complicated request. He asked Henri if he could make a medium that could be used on any surface, without requiring a special coating.

It took him a year, but Henri returned with something he called “oil pastels”—sticks of pigment that were waxy rather than chalky, and which could be used in thick, dense strokes. Picasso, satisfied, bought 40 of each of the 48 colors. Henri threw the rest of his stock on the shelf, wondering if they’d sell. They quickly became a sensation, and the store still makes them today.

Today, the original Sennelier shop has become a global brand. But some things have stayed the same. The original storefront on the Seine still operates (although they boast several more scattered throughout Paris). And the Sennelier family—now fourth-generation—still runs the shop.
Perhaps most tellingly, they’re still providing custom materials to ground-breaking artists. Sennelier worked with David Hockney for his massive, multi-canvas work Grand Canyon (1998). And they work with countless other artists, many unknown.

“But tomorrow,” said Dominique, “maybe [they] are the Cezanne of the 21st century.” Artsy

 

Donald Trump’s Drawing of the New York City Skyline Just Sold for $29,184 at Auction
The president's sketch was made for a charity event in 2005.

He’s had careers in real estate, reality TV, politics, and now art. A drawing of the Manhattan skyline by President Donald Trump sold at auction for $29,184 on Thursday night.

According to Los Angeles-based auction house Nate D. Sanders, the work was created by the president for a charity auction promoting worldwide literacy in 2005 and was consigned to the auction house by the winner of the original charity event. The charity auction also included works by fellow Republican John McCain, and former Democrat Senator Joseph Lieberman, as well as actors Charlize Theron and Benicio Del Toro.

The sketch is drawn on a large envelope made of a stock type of paper, and according to Michael Kirk of Nate D. Sanders auctioneers, there are only two other known variants of the drawing. The variants “feature the same skyline with slight variations,” making it an extremely rare example of presidential memorabilia. On Thursday night, there were 11 bids for the drawing, starting at $9,000.

“It’s a piece of art from a U.S. President, so it’s attracted interest from not just Trump followers, but also presidential memorabilia collectors,” Kirk told artnet News in an email. “It’s received a lot of global press, so the interest level has been high. The piece has received some five times more than our normal auction traffic,” he revealed.

Despite his brief foray into drawing, Trump has been criticized for his policy on the arts after threatening to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts. That likely won’t happen in the coming year, however, as the House Appropriations Committee last week approved a bill that would fund the endowment at $145 million through 2018. artnetnews

 

Humans Prefer Computer-Generated Paintings to Those at Art Basel
Computer scientists at Rutgers University developed a system to generate artworks that were deemed more communicative and inspiring than human-made art.

Some of the most fascinating research out there on machine learning as applied to art is being conducted by the enterprising researchers at Rutgers University’s Art and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Computer scientists there have previously developed algorithms to study artistic influence and to measure creativity in art history. Most recently, the lab’s team turned toward something a little different: it generated entirely new artworks using a new computational system that role plays as an artist, attempting to demonstrate creativity without any need for a human mind.

The results of this study were published last month in a paper penned by Ahmed Elgammal, Bingchen Liu, Mohamed Elhoseiny, and Marian Mazzone. To test their system, the researchers showed the generated artworks to a pool of 18 people to judge, mixed with 50 images of real paintings — half by famous Abstract Expressionists and half shown at Art Basel 2016, a fair that represents “the forefront of human creativity,” as Elgammal told Hyperallergic.

The results: participants largely preferred the machine-created artworks to those made by humans, and many even thought that the majority of works at Art Basel were generated by the programmed system. So, computers may be getting closer to autonomously producing their own art that people deem creative. Also, zombie formalism is real.

Although it creates its own images, the network, dubbed a Creative Adversarial Network (CAN), relies on creative human works during its learning process. Researchers programmed it to study 80,000 WikiArt images of Western paintings from the 15th to the 20th century so that it knew what kind of images have traditionally been aesthetically appealing. But the scientists didn’t want to devise a system that could merely emulate history paintings, genre scenes, landscapes, and portraits in established styles — a machine that truly has artificial intelligence, after all, must be creative. Once the system learned these styles, it then worked to deviate from them.

“The system has two interactive components: one that generates art and one that judges art,” Elgammal told Hyperallergic. “The judge is supposed to be trained on art and knows styles; the creator tries to create something that tests the taste of the judge so it will think the [generated work] is art but at the same time confuses the judge about what kind of art and style it is. By doing so, [the creator] tries to do something novel that doesn’t fit into established styles but is still aesthetically appealing.”

As we’ve previously seen with artificial neural networks, when generating systems stray too much from the norm, the results are simply creepy (hello, slimy creatures and mutant dogs/sloths!). The two components interact to maintain a balance between straying from recognized styles and going too deep into new, experimental territory that could garner negative criticism.

Researchers then tested whether or not these generated works could pass as creative to some people. An object, for their purposes, demonstrates creativity if it is both “novel and influential.” The first question they posed was whether humans could simply distinguish between the computer’s art and human-made artworks. As Elgammal sums up in a blog post, participants believed that the generated images were made by artists 75% of the time, compared to 85% of the time for the collection of Abstract Expressionist artworks, all made between 1945 and 2007. In terms of the Art Basel paintings, participants thought that humans had made them just 48% of the time. Selected at random and chosen for their lack of figuration and obvious brushstrokes, the art fair collection featured works by David Smith, Andy Warhol, Leonardo Drew, although the vast majority of the 25 paintings, interestingly, were produced by Chinese artists including Ma Kelu, Zao Wou-Ki, and Xu Zhenbang.

The researchers also asked their subjects to rate individual artworks based on whether they thought an image presented appealing visual structure, was inspiring, relayed an intent, and communicated a message. In general, the participants praised the generated images more than those made by real artists in both the Abstract Expressionism and the Art Basel sets.

“It might be debatable what a higher score in each of these scales actually means,” Elgammal concluded diplomatically. “However, the fact that subjects found the images generated by the machine intentional, visually structured, communicative, and inspiring, with similar, or even higher levels, compared to actual human art, indicates that subjects see these images as art!”

What’s more, not only are people deeming them art because of their appearance, but because of their potential market value. Since the study’s publication, Elgammal says he’s received messages from private collectors who expressed interest in purchasing the CAN-generated works as well as galleries interested in exhibiting them. He isn’t certain if the system will one day be deployed to create commissions, acknowledging that that would be “very controversial”; the team, however, is now trying to arrange for some initial sales of works to galleries as a way to raise funds for research at Rutgers.

The interest surprised him, but the reactions certainly make sense in this culture hungry to jump on the next cutting-edge, lucrative projects. As Elgammal put it, “It’s the first time that AI has generated art that really looks good.” Hyperallergic

 

RIGHT AT HOME: Home decorators embrace big, bold wall art

Not long ago, the only homes in which you'd see big, bold art hanging on the walls tended to be those of serious collectors. For everyone else, filling up a blank space meant going with something attractively innocuous that didn't jangle with the sofa color.

But something exciting is happening; we're losing our trepidation over hanging larger wall art with more impact.

"Personal platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, and online forums like Core77 and Dezeen have made it really easy for people to find and share pictures of things they love," says Alyson Liss-Pobiner of the New York firm Dineen Architecture Design. ( www.dineenarchitecture.com )

"I really love using Instagram to share our own work, and images that we find beautiful, interesting and inspiring," she says. "As a result, images of designer projects have become much more accessible and reach much larger audiences."

Caleb Anderson, principal at Drake Anderson Interiors in New York, says a room doesn't look finished without art.

"Artwork establishes mood, defines personality and impacts emotion," he says. It can connect furnishings and architecture, and draw people into a space.

"Oversize pieces work particularly well above a sofa or bed," he says. "Large art makes an impactful statement in an entry or at the end of a long corridor, making the otherwise void hall an interesting destination of its own." ( www.drakeanderson.com )

Large-format work can create focus points throughout a home, making an impression "without creating a lot of visual noise," Liss-Pobiner says.

When you're positioning large art, she says, don't be afraid to try something different.

"In our room at Kips Bay Decorator's Showhouse this year, we centered the bed on one wall with a large sofa on the opposite wall," she says. They then placed a large blue concave mirror from Bernd Goeckler Antiques above the sofa, but slightly to one side.

"The convention is to center the wall art above the furniture, but by 'freeing up' that wall with an asymmetrical composition, we were able to keep the eye moving around the room," she says.

Large-scale art with typography can be affordable and add a dose of humor, say Mat Sanders and Brandon Quattrone of Consort Design, a bicoastal design firm.

"If you're looking to take the room in a more sophisticated direction, we also love large, painterly abstract pieces," the duo said in an email.

Their online shop includes the figurative expressionist work of Kristen Giorgi of Atlanta's NG Collective Studio, and Los Angeles artist Matt Maust's kinetic mixed-media work. ( www.consort-design.com )

Anderson has some source suggestions, too, including the Loretta Howard Gallery in Manhattan. ( www.lorettahoward.com )

"They represent artists from some of my favorite movements and often in dramatic scale. I'm drawn to abstract expressionism, op art, minimalism and color field movements," he says. He also recommends New York gallery Danese/Corey for its large-scale paintings by artists of note, like Larry Poons and Connie Fox, and suggests 3-D compositions by artists such as Jeff Zimmerman, Matthew Solomon and Olafur Eliasson as alternatives to conventional paintings on canvas. ( www.danesecorey.com )

For budget-friendly pieces, Anderson recommends Saatchi Art, Twyla, ArtStar and @60". ( www.saatchiart.com , www.artstar.com , www.at60inches.com )

Liss-Pobiner cited a wide variety of galleries and websites for researching, buying and framing art.

"We've had good luck finding interesting work on Etsy as well," she says. ABC News