In 2011, The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened the New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia, which house the Museum’s renowned collection of Islamic art. A vital part of the installation was the Patti Cadby Birch Court, a Moroccan court built by a team of experts—from curators and historians to designers and craftsmen—over many months. Complementing the works on view, which span the past fourteen hundred years, the Moroccan Court provides an experience of space and architecture while demonstrating artistic traditions that still thrive in the Islamic world.
This video documents a marvelous journey from Fez to New York, and the creation of a twenty-first-century court using traditional fifteenth-century methods.
The court was made possible by the Patti and Everett B. Birch Foundation.
Jordana Moore Saggese & Héloïse Dorsan Rachet (2019)
Like Beat writers who composed their work by shredding and reassembling scraps of writing, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat used similar techniques to remix his materials. Pulling in splintered anatomy, reimagined historical scenes and skulls, he repurposed present day experiences and art history into an inventive visual language. Jordana Moore Saggese explores the chaotic and prolific art of Basquiat.
SAMO was a graffiti tag which started as an inside joke when Jean-Michel Basquiat and a few of his friends were still teenagers. They tagged funny, thought-provoking lines all over New York City from 1977 to 1980. It accompanied short phrases, in turns poetic and sarcastic, mainly painted on the streets of downtown Manhattan.
Outrageous yet tender, the film begins with the skip of a cracked 78 rpm record and a handmade title festooned with streamers and lettered in dripping red. In vignettes continuing in this vein, characters occasionally stumble on glimmers of beauty in their bleak existence: a view from the roof and kids drawing on the sidewalk. The scenes are unsettling in their immediacy. Jacobs embraces the New York City streets as his stage and improvises props and costumes from castoffs. The characters, including Jack Smith and Jerry Sims, are completely at ease with the camera. They cavort, they pose, they affront, and they demand our attention. Like it or not, we are made part of the scene.
For many years Jacobs played 78s at screenings, again transforming poverty into a live-performance asset. A grant from Jerome Hill facilitated by Jonas Mekas enabled Jacobs to add voice-over to the middle section and create a sound print. By this time, his relationship with Smith had soured, and he had lost touch with most of those pictured. Jacob’s narration, presented self-consciously as anything to distract you from talking to each other, acts as a remembrance of things past. The closing vignette, shot on a New York rooftop on a crystalline day, shows Smith clowning with a balloon to the tune of Happy Bird. In Little Stabs at Happiness, moments in the sun do not last.
Ken Jacobs is an experimental filmmaker, who, along with Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, Maya Deren and others, helped spearhead the American avant-garde film movement. His impressive filmography spans more than 60 years and 45 films, utilizing just about every experimental technique imaginable. In the ’60s, he helped redefine the notion of domestic (home) movies, and along with it, domestic space—pioneering work that expanded the parameters of art cinema, and also, coincidentally, the gender expectations of male artists. Jacobs has also experimented with found footage, creating such memorable works as Star Spangled to Death, a nearly seven-hour epic charting an alternative U.S. history. Most recently, he has been reformatting, reworking, and altering silent films to give illusions of depth, creating experimental, heavily stroboscopic abstract cinema, and 3D. At every stage of his career, Jacobs has sought to push the technology as far as it can go and to challenge his audiences to think about politics, gender, class, race, documentary, and movies differently. This series provides a rare opportunity to see the work of one of the greatest living American filmmakers.
The hands that once pointed in every direction
Have failed to move since she gave it away,
And though the band is much to tight,
He still wears it every day.
It helps him to remember that moonless night.
That night he tried to make her stay.
Losing himself in his own reflection,
He remembers the words that she used to say,
The sweet reverberation,
Trembling from her lips in exasperation.
Eyes lost in a distant fading memory,
Like fog dissipating with the arrival of the day,
He stares at his watch,
For those hands
Stuck in the past,
Their ritualistic dance.
All of the materials are available online or at your local art supply shop.
“I think that if you do pictures, they’re about what’s inside you as much as what’s outside you.”
Artist Paula Rego, is known for her paintings and drawings based on folk tales. Her work often reshapes traditional stories to reflect personal experiences, and focuses on female roles within the family.
In 1994, she began to experiment with pastels and has continued to use them ever since. She describes working in pastels ‘like painting with your fingers’. The scenes in her drawings almost always take place in domestic settings and are filled with mystery.
“As you are drawing something, it very often turns into something else, and you can go with it. It develops in a completely different way. It’s organic and it’s done with the hand.”
In the video, you also get to experience the world premiere of an animation technique, which Hockney himself calls “time-based brush painting.”
David Hockney is a British painter, printmaker, photographer and stage designer, who is considered among the most influential and versatile British artists of the 20th century. Hockney is a notable contributor to the pop art movement in Britain, both in its foundation and growth, beginning with his participation in an annual exhibition called ‘Young Contemporaries’ in 1960, which also marked the start of his recognition in the art world. Hockney is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Praemium Imperiale for Painting (1989), and the Lifetime of Artistic Excellence Award (Pratt Institute) in 2018. His work can be found in numerous collections worldwide, including National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, National Portrait Gallery and Tate Gallery in London, Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Centre Pompidou in Paris, De Young Museum in San Francisco, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, and Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.
David Hockney was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at his home in France in March 2019.
Many thanks to David Hockney for providing the works and the animation shown in the video.
Francis Bacon was the loudest, rudest, drunkest, most sought-after British artist of the 20th century. Twenty-five years after his death, his canvases regularly exceed £40million at auction. Bacon’s appeal is rooted in his notoriety – a candid image he presented of himself as Roaring Boy, Lord of Misrule and Conveyor of Artistic Violence. This was true enough, but only part of the truth. He carefully cultivated the facade, protecting the complex and haunted man behind the myth. In this unique, compelling film, those who knew him speak freely, some for the first time, to reveal the many mysteries of Francis Bacon.
George Condo was part of the 1980s wild art scene in New York. In this video, recorded in his New York-studio, the iconic artist shares his life-long love of drawing and thoughts on his artistic expression, which he describes as “artificial realism.”
”I kind of draw like you’re walking through the forest, where you don’t really know where you’re going, and you just start from some point and randomly travel through the paper until you get to a place where you finally reach your destination.” Condo studied music theory at college, but soon realised that it was too formal and rigid for him, and that he needed an art form that would give him more freedom. However, he still approaches his art like a musician, working fast and following the rhythm of the drawing or painting without “missing any of the notes.” The tempo, he feels, is very important when it comes to art.
Condo wants his work to contain clear references to the different artists – from Picasso to Velasquez – they’re inspired by, but with a twist. His painting or drawings are about finding a way in which one can capture a person’s humanity through a portrait – capturing not just the outside but also the inside. Moreover, Condo aims to “turn negatives into positives”, portraying “the ordinary characters that make up our lives, whether it’s the janitor or the bus driver or the school teacher or the principal or the mailman or the truck driver. These are not the glamorous people that you see on the cover of Vogue Magazine, but they are what the world is composed of. And to give them a spot in the world is what I always admired about Rembrandt to a certain degree.”
“I love drawing as much as painting, so why not make your paintings from your drawings, but literally have there be no defined sort of hierarchy between the two mediums?” Condo started making “drawing-paintings”, where you can’t distinguish paint from pastel, or a line made with a paintbrush or a line drawn in from and thus making the two mediums equal: “There’s no real difference between figurative painting or abstract painting, ‘cause it’s all painting to begin with. You don’t have to follow any rules as a painter. If you’re making an abstract painting it doesn’t mean eventually it can’t morph into a figurative one.”
When a famous art historian asked Condo what he called the form of work he did, Condo thought of the description “artificial realism”. Artificial realism gives the painter the opportunity to go back and paint something in a realistic way while still portraying all that which is artificial in our world. In continuation of this, he finds that now everything seems to be “artificial realism” with the fake news that is all around us: “Art is the truth, and everything else is a lie.”
George Condo is an American contemporary visual artist working in the mediums of painting, drawing, sculpture, and printmaking. Condo mixes input from art history’s masters – such as Velasquez, Manet, and Picasso – with elements of American Pop Art. He distorts and renews this material so that it stands out and becomes his own: a kind of strange hybrid that blurs boundaries between the comic and the tragic, the grotesque and the beautiful, the classic and the innovative. As part of the wild art scene in New York in the early 1980s, Condo was close to painters such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, and worked for Andy Warhol’s Factory, applying diamond dust to silkscreen. Condo’s work is in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Whitney Museum, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Broad Foundation in Los Angeles, Tate Gallery in London, Centre George Pompidou in Paris and Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo, among others. He is the recipient of an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1999) and the Francis J. Greenberger Award (2005). Condo lives and works in New York City.
George Condo was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg at his studio in Soho, New York City in September 2017.
Ray Harryhausen was an American filmmaker best known for his pioneering use of stop-motion animation effects. Unfortunately, he died May 7, 2013 in London, England at the age of 93.
Harryhausen grew up in Los Angeles, acquiring a love of dinosaurs and fantasy at a young age. His parents encouraged his interests in films and in models, and he was inspired by the cinematic effects in such movies as The Lost World (1925) and King Kong (1933). After seeing the latter, he began experimenting with marionettes and stop-motion animation, making short films in his parents’ garage. At about age 18 he met noted animator Willis O’Brien, with whom he would later work on several projects. On O’Brien’s advice to refine his abilities, Harryhausen enrolled in art and anatomy courses at Los Angeles City College and later in film courses at the University of Southern California. It was around this time that he began developing the technique that became known as “Dynamation,” used to make it appear that actors on film are interacting with animated models.
In 1940 Harryhausen landed his first animating job, working for producer George Pal on a number of “Puppetoons”—short films that animated puppets by using a type of stop-motion. He subsequently served in the U.S. Army, where he worked with director Frank Capra on propaganda films for the war effort. After being discharged in 1946, Harryhausen created a series of short nursery rhyme-based films that he distributed to schools. He was soon contacted by O’Brien to help on Mighty Joe Young (1949), an adventure drama featuring an enormous ape, in the style of King Kong. The film, for which Harryhausen did much of the animation, received an Academy Award for special effects. Harryhausen’s work on The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), which was based on a story by his friend Ray Bradbury, caught the attention of producer Charles Schneer, with whom he would work on the majority of his films advertisement
Harryhausen contributed effects to more than a dozen movies, including It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955), Mysterious Island (1961), and Hammer Films’ One Million Years B.C.(1966). He was well known for the Sinbad films: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), his first colour feature; The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973); and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977). He also created the special effects for the star-studded Clash of the Titans (1981), which was remade with animatronic and computer effects in 2010. Though he effectively retired from animation in the mid-1980s, Harryhausen continued to work on small projects into the 21st century. In 1992 he received the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for technical contributions from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His published works include Film Fantasy Scrapbook (1972) and the autobiography An Animated Life: Adventures in Fantasy (2003; cowritten with Tony Dalton).