June 13, 2018

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


In this issue:

What a homeless man's drawing and an art teacher's kindness can teach Des Moines
ROBERT INDIANA'S HOME, STUDIO TO BE TRANSFORMED INTO MUSEUM
Hull’s Opens A New Chapter
Van Gogh's sunflowers are wilting as yellow paint fades to brown
5 Important Types of Art Therapy Used Today
Many schools don't have enough art supplies. This Wake County teen wants to help.
The Art that Flourished Under Mussolini
The Art of Creating Replicas of Ice Age Cave Paintings

 

 

 

 

What a homeless man's drawing and an art teacher's kindness can teach Des Moines

DES MOINES, IA: Sarah Justice barely glanced at the man sitting outside the convenience store as she hustled to pick up a few things.

But in that glimpse, she saw something that changed her.

The man sat on the curb drawing with red, blue and black pens on a sheet of printer paper on a clipboard. His hands were calloused and worn; they looked possibly arthritic to Sarah, but his drawing was good.

It depicted a tree-lined riverbank with Native American tepees along the shore. Most of the detail was in black pen, but the river was a bright blue.

Sarah kept thinking about the drawing as she ran her errands at the store. She thought about the man and his art more as she sat in her car.

Sarah is 33 years old and studying to be an art teacher at Grand View University in Des Moines. She lives in Mitchellville with her parents and 9-year-old daughter. She graduated from Southeast Polk High School in 2003 and earned an associate's degree in graphic design from DMACC.

She worked various design jobs in central Iowa before she decided to return to college and become a teacher. She will be a senior in the fall.

And like a good teacher, Sarah sensed a significant lesson in the man's drawing.

"Part of what I'm teaching and want to use as my teaching philosophy is that art brings everybody together," Sarah said.

Sarah dug through the art supplies in the backseat of her car. She collected some color pens with thin tips, some white matboard and a pencil bag. She approached the man.

"I asked him if I could trade him some fresh art supplies for his drawing," Sarah said.

He agreed. They talked for a bit. The man's name was Billy. He had long, blond-silver hair, a thick mustache and beard.

Billy stayed at a house nearby, but he was often homeless. He told her he liked to come to the convenience store because they didn't mind him sitting out front and drawing.

Sarah asked Billy to sign his artwork.

"We always sign our art," she remembered telling Billy.

He signed, but his last name was illegible and she still doesn't know his full name.

After the trade, Sarah went to her art studio, a house she rents near Grand View. Her first thought was to frame the piece and hang it on her wall. She likes to collect art from local artists from different walks of life.

She told some friends about the experience. They suggested she have prints made of the drawing and sell them to raise money for Billy.

Sarah tried to focus on writing a paper for a final in her hardest class, but she couldn't stop thinking about Billy.

The subject of the final was the ethics of appropriating someone else's artwork. Generally, this is bad.

But as Sarah wrote her paper, she thought about her friends' suggestions that she sell Billy's artwork to help him. What if appropriating someone's artwork was done for good?

Sarah wrote her paper counter-intuitive to the lessons of the class. Her professors were impressed.

"A lot of what the class was about was getting out there and doing things that made art play a role in culture," Sarah said. "I decided I wanted to pursue this and see where it goes and how it would help Billy."

Sarah spent a couple of days trying to find Billy again at the convenience store, but he wasn't around. She decided to have the prints made and sell them and hope Billy forgave her.

I tried to find Billy, too, driving by the convenience store where Sarah said she met him a couple times, but with no luck.

Sarah has been selling Billy's art as cards with his drawing on the front and a blank space inside for a message. She sells them for three for $6 or six for $10. She's already collected $240 for Billy, and others have made donations beyond buying cards.

Sarah finally met up with Billy again last week. She asked him if it was OK that she had done this. He said it was. He noticed the bicycle jersey she was wearing from Bike Country in Ankeny, where Sarah works.

Billy said his bike originally came from Bike Country years ago. His bike was in rough shape. It has no brakes and doesn't shift gears. Sarah started to think of way she could help him get his bike up to the shop for repairs.

Sarah has an art show scheduled for June 16. She invited Billy to be her guest. He could sit at a table and hand out his own notecards. She said she would give him the money she made from the cards then. She plans to keep selling the cards through June.

Sarah didn't dig into Billy's background.

"I didn't want to be too nosy," she said. "He just told me he was staying in the basement of a house about a block away and doesn't have a phone."

Sarah and Billy talked art. Billy sometimes draws what he sees, but mostly he draws from his imagination.

Billy doesn't have much, but neither does Sarah. A few years ago, she sold most of her material possessions, "bought a clunker of a car" and moved into her parents' basement with her daughter. She regrets nothing.

The experience has brought her closer to her family and taught the future teacher another important lesson she hopes her daughter learns well:

"You don't need to have a lot to give a lot," Sarah said.

Sarah may not know it, but she's got a lesson for the city of Des Moines, too.

She approached this man she didn't know in a public place without fear. She talked to him with dignity and respect. And she found a way to help him.

Periodically, Des Moines officials order workers, police and bulldozers to evict homeless people from camps around the city.

It happened most recently in March in an encampment of people who had set up near the city's homeless shelter. Some of the squatters weren't allowed into the shelter because of behavioral issues.

Des Moines is doing a lot of great things in development downtown and city leaders are certainly within the law to evict squatters. But there's a heartlessness to it, too.

The city could learn a lot from the convenience store that lets a man sit on the stoop and draw and the future art teacher who saw talent in a fellow human most people ignored. Des Moines Register

 

ROBERT INDIANA'S HOME, STUDIO TO BE TRANSFORMED INTO MUSEUM

PORTLAND, ME: Reclusive pop artist Robert Indiana didn't open his island home to many strangers. That's going to change with his death.

Indiana's will calls for his Main Street home and studio, which he dubbed the "Star of Hope," to be transformed into a museum and for his entire art collection to be preserved and open to the public.

Indiana, whose "LOVE" series is instantly recognizable around the world, died on May 19 at his Vinalhaven Island home 15 miles (24 kilometers) off the mainland.

His attorney, James Brannan, filed the will in probate court on Friday in Rockland. The will, dated in 2016, stipulates the creation of a nonprofit organization that will receive royalties from his artwork.

Brannan declined to place a figure on the artist's estate but acknowledged most of the value is in the artist's collection. Based on the court filing fee, the value of the estate is estimated to be upward of $28 million.

The attorney said it will take time and money to accomplish the late artist's goal because the Victorian-style building has fallen into disrepair. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also complicating the late artist's plans is a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York City. The lawsuit accuses two men of insinuating themselves into Indiana's life and taking advantage of him in the final years of his life.

One of those men, Jamie Thomas, has served as Indiana's power of attorney for two years, and was tapped to be director of the museum, Brannan said.

The Morgan Art Foundation, which filed the lawsuit on May 18, plans to contest the will and Thomas' appointment to direct the museum. The foundation holds a copyright for the LOVE series and accuses Thomas in the lawsuit of mistreating Indiana.

"We will fight to protect Indiana's legacy and will be vigorously challenging this appointment with the Maine attorney general and in court," Luke Nikas, the foundation's attorney.

Thomas couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

Kathleen Rogers, a friend and former publicist, said she agrees that Thomas, a former studio assistant, isn't qualified to be in charge of Indiana's legacy. But she said she loves the idea of a museum.

"That's what we've been hoping for — that the studio would be preserved and turned into a museum," she said. WSB

 

Hull’s Opens A New Chapter

There’s a new space for arts events on Chapel Street. Is it an art gallery? A place for workshops? A pop-up record store and small concert space?

All of the above, according to Shawn Szirbik and Allen Camp of Hull’s Art Supply and Framing, who have turned over a second-floor space above the store to be a space for New Haven’s arts community to use — for free.

The idea for Hull’s Second Story, as Szirbik is calling the space, began when Hull’s second-floor tenant, a recording studio, moved out last year, said Szirbik, who bought Hull’s from the previous owner in 2016 after working there since 2001.

“When they left, I said, ‘do we want to collect rent, or do something better in the community?” Szirbik said. He thought about the Grove and its co-work space several blocks away on Chapel. It inspired their own ideas for the space.

“If it isn’t about anything specific,” Szirbik said, “then it can be about everything.”

Szirbik and his employees hatched the idea of just offering it to people in the New Haven arts community interested in holding events downtown, from art shows to workshops to small concerts. For free. It made sense. Gallery space for the city’s artists was at a premium downtown. And Hull’s was already a stop for supplies for many working artists, from seasoned professionals to Yale MFA students.

“They always come into the store and we talk to them all the time,” said Camp, who’s an employee at the store charged now with managing the scheduling of events at Second Story.

The Hull’s staff took a year to renovate the space themselves (“except the floor,” Szirbik said). The space was originally two offices; they opened it up into one long space, composed of two galleries connected by a doorway. Szirbik hit on the idea of calling it the Second Story both because it is on the second story and because it represents a new chapter for Hull’s.

“Shawn loves puns,” Camp said. “That’s a fact,” Sziribik said.

In addition to wanting to do something for the arts community, Szirbik said, he felt that allowing people to use the Second Story makes good business sense, for Hull’s and for the block. “If someone can bring 10 or 15 people to the door, chances are they’re going to shop,” he said — at Hull’s, at Book Trader, at any of the restaurants with which Hull’s shares its stretch of Chapel Street.

“We intend it to be a free space for arts events,” Szirbik said. “It’s more than a gallery. You can teach a class. You can hold a meeting.” They are open to any feasible arts-related ideas for the space. You could say it’s a blank canvas.

Both Artspace and the Arts Council of Greater New Haven have already shown interest in using the space in the future, and Camp and Szirbik are interested in entertaining more requests. There are some logistics to be worked out. Currently Hull’s can’t dedicate an employee to watch over the space, so anyone using it has to either lock it up or staff it themselves. But it has good lighting and lots of wall space to hang art pieces, as well as plenty of floor space to set up tables and chairs.

“The only rule is if they mess up our new floor, I won’t be happy,” Szirbik joked. Hull’s itself plans to run classes out of the space starting in the fall. But Szirbik and Camp are just as interested in seeing what New Haven’s arts community does as word gets out that the Second Story is available. It has, in fact, already started.

From May 11 to May 13, the Second Story became an impromptu record store courtesy of Belltower Records, selling vinyl across decades and genres while also hosting two concerts of live music — Alexander and Kath Bloom on May 12 and Adam’s Malec on May 13.

May 11 found Wesley Nelson of Belltower Records enjoying a steady flow of customers. “This is our first day and we have a lot of friends around town,” he said. “People have been really supportive.”

Nelson has lived in New Haven for 11 years; his wife worked for Szirbik for a number of them. “We were asking Shawn for business advice, and the subject was broached to do a little pop-up,” Nelson said.

The 34-year-old Nelson began collecting records when he was 14, though he recalls buying his first record at the age of 4 at a Strawberries in Bristol.

“It was a Whitesnake 45,” he said, laughing. “I just thought the snake looked cool.”

He had already sold one of the records in his collection he was most excited about, a 1969 LP called Blues Obituary from UK band the Groundhogs. He reported slight regrets about the sale. “I should have kept it for myself,” he said.

Hull’s Second Story is currently hosting Nectarine, an collective of illustrators and narrative artists brought together by New Haven residents (and husband and wife) David and Heather Ferreira.

The show runs until June 2 with a reception June 1 from 5 to 8 p.m.

David is an illustrator and teacher; Heather is a designer and printmaker. “Heather and I had this idea of starting a gallery,” David Ferreira said. As they looked into what a physical space would cost and the energy needed to run it, they realized that a full-time gallery “wasn’t right for our lifestyle. But combining their talents and the network of fellow artists they had been developing over their careers, The Ferreiras set up Nectarine as an online gallery in November 2017, featuring artists from the state, the region, and as far away as Georgia.

Meanwhile, Ferreira was friends with Szirbik and the Hull’s staff thanks to being a frequent customer of the store. “I was in here all the time to get supplies and comics” from Alternate Universe a block to the west, Ferreira said. The Hull’s staff told him about Second Story, then under renovation.

“I said, ‘as soon as you guys have the space, let me know,’” Ferreira said.

The Ferreiras were as good as their word, filling the entire space of Hull’s Second Story with art. There’s The Scarecrow from Peter Pasquerello, an artist with an eye for the macabre based in the greater New York City area. On the opposite wall in the front room of the Second Story is Greg Orfanos’s work, with uses a similar color palette to more playful ends.

Ferreira hopes to follow up this first show with other exhibits in the fall, spring, and summer, and as they move into doing physical exhibitions, “we’re very interested in working with more artists from the region,” Ferreira said.

In the meantime, however, the walls of The Second Story are full of art — just as Shawn Szirbik and Allen Camp had hoped would happen when they turned a page in the history of Hull’s a year ago. New Haven Independent

 

Van Gogh's sunflowers are wilting as yellow paint fades to brown
X-rays reveal light-sensitive paint used by artist will cause painting to lose vibrancy

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is reviewing how it displays the artist’s Sunflowers painting after a pioneering new technique revealed the painting’s petals and stems were withering to an olive-brown colour as a result of his use of a light-sensitive yellow paint.

A laborious x-ray scan of the painting’s canvas has discovered that Vincent van Gogh used two different types of a chrome yellow paint, one of which is more liable to degrade under light.

The change in the 1889 painting, one of a series of sunflowers by Van Gogh, is so far not visible to the human eye but, over time, the painting is set to lose some of its vibrancy in the pale-yellow background and the sunflowers’ bright yellow petals and stems, where the sensitive pigment was mixed to achieve the right green hue.

The orange parts of the background to the flowers is unlikely to degrade in any significant way as Van Gogh used a less sensitive yellow paint, with a lower content of sulphur.

“It is very difficult to say how long it would take for the change to be obvious and it would depend a lot on the external factors,” said Frederik Vanmeert, a materials science expert at the University of Antwerp, who was part of the team examining the painting in research commissioned by the museum.

“We were able to see where Van Gogh used the more light-sensitive chrome yellow, the areas that the restorers should look out for over time for discolouration ... We were also able to see that he used emerald green and a red lead paint in very small areas of the painting which will become more white, more light, over time.”

The discovery, following two years of analysis by a team of Dutch and Belgian scientists, is being assessed by the Amsterdam museum, which hosts the world’s largest collection of the artist’s works. The museum lowered the lighting in its rooms five years ago in an attempt to best conserve its 200 paintings and 400 drawings.

The scientists used macroscopic x-ray imaging to examine the canvas, section by section, in a process described as “chemical mapping”.

Such is the level of detail in the images that the scientists were able to observe the ordering of the elongated crystallites in the light-sensitive chrome yellow along the direction of Van Gogh’s brush strokes. More than half the painting contains some of the more sensitive pigment.

Joris Dik, a professor of art history and materials science at Delft University, described the technique as being “as if you are taking a satellite picture of the Netherlands to see any weak spots in the dykes”.

The Museum of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting is one of the second series of paintings of that name. The first series, painted in Paris in 1887, depict the flowers on the ground. The second set, painted in , shows them in a vase and is perhaps the most widely recognised.

The head of collection and research at the museum, Marije Vellekoop, said the study had ramifications for a whole range of the painter’s works. “Obviously, we monitor the discolouration of various pigments,” she said. “At the moment, we are processing all the research results of this iconic painting, after which we determine how we will pay further attention to discolouration in our museum. We know that the discoloured pigment chrome yellow has been used a lot by Van Gogh, we assume that this has also been discoloured in other paintings.

“Discolouration of pigments is a topic of research that is of great interest to us since Van Gogh, as did his contemporaries, used several pigments that discolour over time. In the case of chrome yellow, this recent study provided new information on the location of the light sensitive type of chrome yellow in our Sunflowers. This makes it possible to monitor these areas carefully.” The Guardian

 

5 Important Types of Art Therapy Used Today

Art therapy is an important and popular treatment technique for a variety of health conditions and mental health problems. There are different forms of art therapy that can be used today. The type of expressive therapy chosen should be focused on the well-being of the patient taking part in the art therapy process, and the outcome. Here are five popular types of art psychology used today.

Painting

This is one of the most limitless art therapy techniques. Painting gives the patient a great deal of freedom as they are able to paint whatever they wish. It mainly involves creating images using a blank canvas or using tools to assist the patient in manipulating and constructing images. In art therapy, painting involves spray painting, watercolors, acrylic paints, and many more.

Textiles

Use of textiles in expressive therapy involves puppets and stuffed toys. This form of creative therapy is important for children and adults who have physical difficulties using art supplies that need fine motor skills. Textiles tend to add a sensory level of texture and softness that can help in providing a level of safety and comfort for the patient. This can be crucial in building trust between the therapist and the patient. Textiles help patients to express themselves without the need to use pen and paper.

Photography

Photography is one of the types of art therapy used to integrate past images, memories, and digital manipulation of photographs. Patients can use photographs from their lives to assist in stimulating memories, and use digital technology to come up with a more positive framework. Patients can also use smartphones to take pictures of different things, for example, people who love them, or images that they find pleasing and beautiful.

Collage

Collage involves cutting and sticking together pictures that express the patient’s emotions, or that inspire them. It is a more passive approach when compared to painting and drawing, because it involves manipulation of already designed and constructed items like word titles and magazine images. This is an ideal task for patients who have difficulties making decisions or starting tasks. Collage gives patients a great sense of freedom and it also enables them to explore their creative side without the need to draw or paint.

Drawing

Drawing technique involves a patient using an item for easy mark marking. Supplies used in drawing include charcoal, pastels, pens, pencils, crayons, and paper-based substrates. Most clients are conversant with drawing supplies and they can use them with very little frustration or instruction. This form of therapy does not require any drawing skills as it is not intended for producing an artwork, but for helping the patient to explore their emotional aspects through creative art.

The different types of expressive therapy can have significant effects on the emotional, physical, and mental well-being of the patient. Most clients will prefer a specific type of art therapy because of prior exposure or experience. Furthermore, some may avoid some types of creative therapy techniques that they have never been exposed to. A good therapist will help the patient to pick a therapy technique that focuses on the well-being of the client and the foreseen outcome. Times Square Chronicles

 

Many schools don't have enough art supplies. This Wake County teen wants to help.

CARY, NC: Fifteen-year-old Owen Whaley was thinking about schools' needs months before thousands of North Carolina teachers marched through the streets of Raleigh in May to push for more funding for public schools. Whaley, a rising junior at Green Hope High School in Cary, is taking a proactive approach to ease schools' financial burden for a subject that's special to him.

Q: You formed Young People in the Arts Foundation in February, launching a GoFundMe page to buy art supplies for under-funded schools. What made you decide to do this?

A: I realized whenever there were budget cuts, the art classes were the first thing to get cut. I also noticed not much was being done about it. There are organizations that do this kind of stuff, too, but not a lot of them were specific to art. It inspired me to direct my resources now that I’m older toward giving back to the art classrooms and others like it. I’ve always done art classes; I’m a very artistic person.

Q: How did you become aware of the need?

A: You see it in the news a lot — in Durham and Raleigh. There are terrible circumstances that a lot of students are placed through.

Q: Many people recognize a problem but don't do anything to fix it. What inspired you to take the extra step, especially since your school isn't in desperate need of art supplies?

A: I have a brother who’s autistic who I help a lot and my nanny (grandmother) is an amputee and she has Alzheimer’s. I’ve always been interested in helping those who need help, who can’t help themselves.

Q: How much money have you raised so far?

A: On the GoFundMe, we’re at around $250 of the $1,000 goal. Plus, I raised about $100 one weekend in March selling raffle tickets for a big candy basket. I’ve had to take some time off for my studies — for my final exams — but I’m starting to kick back into it.

Q: Why is art so important to you, and what has it meant for your education?

A: It’s definitely a stress reliever to have a class where you can have fun and explore your interests, and it’s a great outlet for students to express themselves in the classroom.

Q: How do your express yourself through art?

A: I’m mainly interested in cell animation and computer animation. I also love art classes. I’m in one right now until the end of the semester, Visual Arts 1. We use all sorts of materials — pencils, clay, anything you can think of.

Q: Have you bought supplies yet with the money you’ve raised?

A: Not yet. I plan on going shopping for art supplies before the next school year. I want to wait until we have enough money to do a big shop.

Q: How will you find teachers and students who need supplies?

A: I’m going to go straight for teachers online throughout the community. In my Twitter profile, it already asks teachers to send a message (if they need help). I was actually talking to my biology teacher about it, too.

Q: What do your parents think about your efforts?

A: They were surprised. The first time they found out about it was when I told them (a news crew) was coming over for a TV interview (earlier this year). They like the cause, and I have four brothers who have been great. It’s pretty great to have a supportive family.

Q: As a rising junior, any thoughts about what you want to do when you get older?

A: My favorite subject in school is a tie between social studies classes and art classes. My other interest is law — politics — and I plan on going to school for political science or something like that.

Q: Are there other causes you might support under the Young People in the Arts Foundation?

A: Over the past few months or so, I’ve thought of all of the teachers going through these struggles. So I’d like to help teachers in other areas, too, because they’re also spending money on supplies. I hope that other people can join them in fighting for more funding to put more supplies in the hands of students in classrooms. The News & Observer

 

The Art that Flourished Under Mussolini
While unquestionably autocratic, Mussolini did not oppose the proliferation of unofficial artistic styles.

MILAN — “In a moment historically where there are regimes all over — why not analyse a regime?” these are the words, quoted by Hannah McGivern in The Art Newspaper, that curator Germano Celant used to explain the purpose of his current exhibition Post Zang Tumb Tuuum. Art Life Politics: Italia 1918–1943, currently on view at Fondazione Prada.

The title is a riff on “Zang Tumb Tumb,” a poem by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, dated between 1912 and 1914, which consists of a mixture of sounds and words, the result of Marinetti’s direct observation of the battle of Adrianople during the First Balkan War. As cacophonous as it might sound, it is one of the cardinal texts of Futurism, and Futurism, in post-World War I revival, known as “il secondo Futurismo,” remained a very important presence in the interwar artistic scene of Italy.

With its 600 works of art across multiple disciplines, Post Zang Tumb Tuuum appeases the viewer with a fair share of “big” names of the era, including such works as Umberto Boccioni’s studies in dynamism, Giacomo Balla’s vividly colorful paintings, and Adolfo Wildt’s grotesquely classicist sculptures. However, if Post Zang Tumb Tuuum were just a display of famed interwar artworks hanging in a “neutral” environment, it would have been a predictable textbook-style show. Mind you, I would have enjoyed seeing Balla’s “Canaringatti” (ca. 1923-4), a Futurist interpretation of “cat” art, and Adolfo Wildt’s fragment of “Il Puro Folle” (1930), his interpretation of the mythical figure of Parsifal, regardless.

Instead, curator Celant partnered with the New York design studio 2×4, and together they created 20 semi-immersive installations consisting of partial reconstructions of both private spaces and public art exhibitions of that era, such as the biennali and quadriennali of various cities, placing an artwork — whether it be a painting or a sculpture — within quite a faithful reproduction of its original context, elegantly recreating the missing elements as faded, black-and-white renderings: this is the case, for example, of a 1937 exhibition held at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York, showcasing the works of Giorgio de Chirico, including “Interno metafisico” (1917), which is present in the exhibition, or the third Biennale di Roma from 1925, showcasing Futurist works such as Fortunato Depero’s “Spazialità lunari o convegno in uno smeraldo” (1924).

The result is a multi-faceted and nuanced portrayal of the many shapes of Italian visual culture from the interwar period through Italy’s surrender in World War II, 1918 to 1943, in chronological rather than thematic order. While public art and architecture assumed a reactionary classicist aesthetic, other visual arts — painting, sculpture, even performance — were animated by different currents, including the second generation of Futurists; the Valori Plastici movement and its return to order; and the exponents of Il Novecento, which was heralded by Mussolini’s mistress Margherita Sarfatti and, while similar to Valori Plastici, displayed more of a nationalistic bent. While unquestionably autocratic, Mussolini did not oppose the proliferation of unofficial artistic styles, and even though, from 1927 onwards, the regime had decreed that all art exhibitions needed government authorization and prior publication on the government’s journal of record, their content and form were left mostly uncontrolled.

Post Zang Tumb Tuuum’s chronological, rather than a thematic approach, also adds to the exhibition’s dynamism, giving the viewer a better sense of the multitudes of influences (or aesthetic obsessions) inspiring artists across disciplines year by year: in those decades, aside from Futurist-friendly dynamic studies, these obsessions included motherly female figures and kitschy landscapes, sometimes rendered in regime-friendly grandeur, as well as such flights of fancy such as the aeropittura, Futurist paintings defined by Marinetti and his co-writers in the 1929 manifesto Perspectives of Flight as “the celebration of the airborne and cosmic imagination,” in which “flying aerial painters (aeropittori) gain possession of the sky.” Interpretations of aeropittura present at the exhibition range from pastel-colored skyscapes to vistas that fans of Studio Ghibli’s anime films would surely appreciate.

Dividing the rooms by year also highlights the kinds of contrasts in form and content that thematic exhibitions by definition suppress: faceted Futurist shapes are juxtaposed to static pastoral landscapes, such as the Valori Plastici paintings of Mario Sironi; “Forme-Forze nello Spazio“ (1932), an abstract-surrealist work by Enrico Prampolini hangs in close proximity to “Donna allo Specchio” (1927) by Cagnaccio di San Pietro. Cagnaccio’s depiction of a woman applying lipstick in front of a vanity mirror looks, all in all, just like a classical statue, both for her curvaceous physique and for the intricate folds of the robe that barely conceals her nudity.

Grotesquerie abounds too, such as in “Donna che allatta il filosofo Giovanni Gentile con la tuba” (1934) by Mino Maccari, depicting, in gouache and ink, a matronly woman breastfeeding a diminutive version of philosopher Giovanni Gentile, who appears fully clothed with a top hat. Quite predictably, these “contrasts” stop being simply interesting to look at once Italy enters WWII: the exhibition grimly closes with the studies for the project E42, “Luminous Gardens,” in Rome — sketches on cardboard depicting renderings of “dancing fountains” and gardens with elaborate lighting designs that would never be completed. On the opposite wall of the room, merciless lampoons of Il Duce’s fall from grace hang alongside graphic depictions of corpses in a concentration camp by Carlo Levi and the hellish landscape full of writhing nudes of Mario Mafai’s Il Bivacco (1939): this is one very rare instance of “resistance” art, which is, though not shockingly, is largely absent from the exhibition.

Rounding out the exhibition is a selection of related materials, including plans for Tetiteatro, an aquatic theater dedicated to the goddess Thetis; the set designs for Futurist Ballet along with several posters by Marcello Dudovich, advertising the department store La Rinascente, with modest 1930s) pin-ups. The addition of such materials to Post Zang Tumb Tuuum helps to make those 25 years more understandable than the a more exclusive reliance on paintings and sculptures would have allowed.

Italy is plagued by various inferiority complexes with regard to other nations, even in terms fashion, cuisine, and culture. Mostly, they’re unjustified, but as a native Italian, it has become obvious that my compatriots enjoy a good “woe-is-me” wallow. However, after visiting Post Zang Tumb Tuuum, they can at least feel some (grim) satisfaction that among the 20th century’s totalitarian regimes, Mussolini’s was the one that treated cultural expression most respectfully (that is, as long as they were more or less in line with his own vision).It’s a pathetic form of consolation, but one that might induce people to seek more exposure to the artists of Il Novecento, Valori Plastici and the second generation of Futurists, all of which remain largely underrepresented in art historical curricula compared to, say, their German contemporaries.

Post Zang Tumb Tuuum. Art Life Politics: Italia 1918–1943 continues at Fondazione Prada (Largo Isarco, 2, Milan, Italy) through June 25. Hyperallergic

 

The Art of Creating Replicas of Ice Age Cave Paintings
The idea that art is an expression valued for originality is put to the test with the study and replication of caves painted during the Pleistocene.

On April 2, 2018, The Art Newspaper reported that a “historic” legal compromise had recently been reached – one that guaranteed the three discoverers of the famous Paleolithic Chauvet Cave in southern France a cash settlement as well as a percentage of tourist-charged admission. Discovered in 1994 by speleologists Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, and Christian Hillaire, Chauvet Cave is easily one of the Pleistocene’s most iconic and important archaeological sites, an incredible repository of Upper Paleolithic painted art. The French government had already paid the Chauvet Cave discoverers $168,000 (roughly €137,000) apiece as a reward for their discovery, but this recent financial wrangling wasn’t about the real Chauvet Cave. This year’s payment was not about their discovery, but, rather, it was about the cave’s replica.

Chauvet Cave, itself, is about 500 meters long and littered with archaeological and paleontological remains. It’s best known, however, for its art. Chauvet’s walls are painted with animal and human images over two distinct periods, separated by roughly five thousand years – the first from 30,000-32,000 BP and the second between 26,000-27,000 BP. Lions, mammoths, rhinoceroses, and cave bears make up the majority of painted animals, in addition to a plethora of other animals. Some panels feature red dots and the stenciled outline of handprints.

“The realism of some of the Chauvet art makes us feel like we have something in common with the makers of the art,” Paleolithic archaeologist Natasha Reynolds told Hyperallergic. “We start thinking of them as artists and as real people – we can project all sorts of abilities, motives, and social lives onto them. This influences archaeologists as much as non-archaeologists.”

Immediately after its discovery, the French government installed a four-foot-high steel door to block the limestone opening and barred anyone except scientists, researchers, and monitors from entering the cave — even so, experts only enter in very specific circumstances. (The door guards the modern entrance to the cave. The entrance used by the Paleolithic artists is now blocked by scree.) Concerns about limiting access in order to preserve Chauvet Cave’s paintings are well-founded based on the destruction of the Paleolithic art in Lascaux Cave a half-century prior.

Discovered in 1940, Lascaux was opened to the public in 1948. It has thousands of images of human figures, animals, and abstract symbols that wend their way along the cave walls, dating to 17,000 BP. (After visiting Lascaux, Pablo Picasso is rumored to have said, “We have learned nothing in twelve-thousand years.”) Lascaux, closed in 1963 in an effort to combat the mold, fungus, and lichens that had begun to grow on the walls as visitors — sometimes 1,000 per day — exhaled carbon dioxide onto the cave paintings, creating the ideal environmental conditions for the art’s destruction, biological growths that continue to plague the cave today. In 1983, a smaller-scale copy of Lascaux became a Paleolithic replica that could serve as a tourist and educational stand-in for a famous, original archaeological site. Today, there are two replicas of the site.

Unlike other types of art, the very act of observing Lascaux’s cave paintings destroyed them. Could Chauvet offer a different sort of story? Opening Chauvet to visitors was simply out of the question because it would destroy the cave’s art. “One absolute requirement is to make sure that the cave, its walls, climate and floors are preserved,” Paleolithic archaeologist Jean Clottes explains in the book, Return to Chauvet Cave. “We must leave our successors an intact cave in which all kinds of researches are still possible.”

The idea of building a reproduction of the site quickly caught on and in 2007 the local Ardèche departmental government began to partner with public and private funders to construct a €55 million replica. Between 2013-2015, five hundred artists, engineers, architects, and special-effects designers built another Chauvet based on 3D models created from 700 hours of laser scanning the original cave. (The second replica of Lascaux incorporated 3D scanning technology as well as 3D printing.) The air inside the replica is cool and moist and the temperature sits around 11°C to offer a comparable environment to Chauvet. “It feels, and even smells, like a journey into a deep hole in the earth,” Joshua Hammer reports in Smithsonian Magazine. It opened to the public in 2015 and was called Caverne du Pont d’Arc.

Replicas, reproductions, simulacrum, and copies have a reputation as being nothing more than inauthentic knock-offs. The art critic Jonathan Jones says as much in his Guardian review of Caverne du Pont-d’Arc. “No art lover wants to see a replica Rembrandt, a fake Freud, or a simulacra of Seurat,” he sniffed. “Why then is it considered perfectly reasonable to offer fake Ice Age art as a cultural attraction?” While acknowledging, yes, viewing Paleolithic art could damage the cave panels, Jones simultaneously refuses to see Caverne du Pont-d’Arc as anything but a faux Chauvet. The replica, Jones argued, did nothing to really connect the viewer with the original art. (Jones generously allows, however, that Werner Herzog’s “beautiful film” Cave of Forgotten Dreams could be an acceptable alternative to experiencing the authenticity of Chauvet.) But this assessment of archaeological replicas assumes that the only point of a replica is to inelegantly mimic the original work of art. It also assumes that the “art” of the replica can’t, itself, evolve and change.

Both of these claims are disingenuous to the cultural cachet that replicas are beginning to accrue. It’s clear that the sensory experience of Paleolithic art underscores the aesthetic and engineering decisions about Caverne du Pont-d’Arc even more so than that of Lascaux – that it’s trying to recreate as much of the original cave as possible. A replica of Altamira Cave in Spain, a Paleolithic site like Lascaux and Chauvet, has had good tourism success, despite battling many of the same concerns about replicas and authenticity that front Chauvet and Lascaux. There are a plethora of other replicas of smaller, less iconic caves scattered across France and Spain, like Tito Bustillo Cave, that use replicas as a bridge between parts of the cave that are open to visitors and parts that would be too environmentally sensitive to view. And beyond Paleolithic caves, sites like Tutankhamen’s tomb have introduced replicas to reduce the wear and tear on original sites.

“There’s something very deeply set, I think, in humans that makes us seek out the authentic, that direct physical connection to past people,” Reynolds offers. “But there’s plenty of genuine worth to the replicas. If you can suspend your disbelief, you can gain a lot of understanding from them that you can’t get in any other way.”

Dismissing replicas completely assumes that all art and artifacts can and ought to be viewed the same way, regardless of their material and context – it presumes that one should look at a panel of lions at Chauvet cave the same way that one looks at the Mona Lisa. But this simply isn’t the case. “With Paleolithic cave paintings, the art is fundamentally, physically part of the gallery,” Paleolithic archaeologist Aitor Ruiz-Redondo explained to Hyperallergic, “we can’t just create an environment to put around it to preserve it. This art, unlike Paleolithic artifacts that are portable, is in its own environment.”

When Jonathan Jones recounts his adolescent disappointment at Lascaux’s replica, he suggests that deception is forever at the essence of a replica. (“What a farce, to promise cave art and deliver only a simulation.”) But such an argument assumes that replicas, themselves, are static things, forever stuck with a mindset that they can only ever be poor approximations. “Rather than thinking of replicas as knock-offs,” philosopher Erich Hatala Matthes proposes, “we could conceive of them as akin to maps or models. They offer us a vantage point that is often otherwise unavailable.” Caverne du Pont-d’Arc is generations removed from the Lascaux and Altamira replicas, showing that the art and engineering of copies is quietly and successfully claiming artistic space of its own. (And even the second replica of Lascaux has technologically and artistically evolved from the first.) To that end, Caverne du Pont-d’Arc is more than just a replica of Chauvet – it is Caverne du Pont-d’Arc. It offers something the original can’t — the opportunity to see and experience an aspect of Paleolithic art from a cave that is now closed to the public.

What Chauvet Cave does have is its singular history — it is the thing and the place that is connected to the passing of time. And it’s this historical connection that the discoverers of the original Chauvet are receiving financial and legal compensation for, as reported earlier this year. In order to fold the story of discovery of Chauvet into the origin story of Caverne du Pont-d’Arc, “the association of the Caverne du Pont-d’Arc will now pay the three speleologists €50,000 for the image rights and the Chauvet name,” The Art Newspaper described, “and they will receive 1.7% of the admission fees to the replica cave.” To date, Caverne du Pont-d’Arc has had over a million visitors. Awarding financial compensation and image rights to Chauvet’s the researchers who are and have been extremely invested in the region’s paleo-heritage, for the creation and use of Caverne du Pont-d’Arc, is a new step in the world of archaeological replicas, pointing, in part, to the replicas’ own cultural evolution. Hyperallergic

 

 

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