Artist of the week: Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero (Columbian, b.1932) is celebrated for his painted and sculpted scenes featuring animals and figures with inflated proportions, reflecting the artist’s predilection for satire, caricature, and political commentary in his work. Born in Medellin, Botero began exhibiting his paintings there in 1948, and later worked as a set designer in Bogotá. In the 1950s he traveled to several different European countries, including Spain, Italy, and France, to study the work of Renaissance and Baroque masters. He also traveled to Mexico to familiarize himself with the current Mexican avant-garde. Botero became renowned for the varied source material he drew upon, from Columbian folk imagery to canonical works by Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (Spanish, 1599–1660), Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), and Francisco de Goya (Spanish, 1746–1828).

In his depictions of contemporary Latin American life, he portrays the poverty and violence prevalent in Columbia in somber images, as well as in his iconic portraits of inflated figures, typically satiric portrayals of Latin American presidents, first ladies, and government officials. A meeting with Dorothy Miller from the Museum of Modern Art in the early 1960s proved to be a turning point in his career; she acquired his work at a time when abstraction was the celebrated idiom, and he later exhibited his work in a major exhibition at the museum, solidifying his international reputation. In the 1970s Botero moved to Paris, where he created large figural sculptures with his signature inflated forms. He remains engaged with images of his Latin American home city, and with overtly political imagery; his recent works include large paintings of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in a direct commentary on the war in Iraq. Botero has exhibited his work at the Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, the Maillol Museum in Paris, the Palazzo Benezia in Rome, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the National Museum in Bogotá. He currently lives and works in Paris, Montecarlo, and New York.

 

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Reclining Woman, 1985, Bronze, h: 83.8 x w: 137.2 x d: 80.6 cm.

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Woman Seated On A Cube, 2006, Bronze, h: 27 x w: 32 x d: 43 cm.

Images and text: http://www.artnet.com/artists/fernando-botero/

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Artist of the week: Jasper Johns

Painter Jasper Johns (American, b.1930) was born in Georgia and attended the University of South Carolina before moving to New York City in his 20s. In New York, he met artist Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925–2008), choreographer Merce Cunningham, and composer John Cage, all of whom profoundly influenced each other. In 1958, Johns entered the public eye when dealer Leo Castelli visited Rauschenberg’s adjacent studio; Johns was awarded a show at Castelli’s gallery, which then lead to his first sale at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Famous for his paintings of flags, targets, maps, and numbers, Johns painted seemingly mundane but powerful symbols in a variety of media, such as oil, encaustic, ink, pencil, collage, and relief. Though Johns is sometimes labeled Neo-Dada or the father of Pop Art, his work displays a deep concern with questions of representation and the nature of mark-making within art.

 

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Untitled, 1978. Lithograph on J. Green paper, 69.8 x 101.6 cm.

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Cups 4 Picasso, 1972. Lithograph, in colors on Hanga paper, 22 х 32 inches.

Images and text: http://www.artnet.com/artists/jasper-johns/

Artist of the Week: Keith Haring

Keith Haring (American, 1958–1990), Neo-Pop and Graffiti artist, had a short but prolific career centered on a vision to unite “high art,” urban aesthetics, and public spaces, in humorous, irreverent, and poignant works. Born in Pennsylvania, Haring attended the Ivy School of Art in Pittsburgh for two years, planning to become a commercial artist. He found this path unsatisfying, and instead chose to study at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he met fellow artists Jean Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf. Haring immersed himself in the culture of the city’s streets and clubs, and in 1980 began covering the blank billboards on subway station walls with his Subway drawings in chalk.

Haring’s bold public art attracted the attention of top galleries, and by the early 1980s he was painting Neo-Pop works and large murals for children. In an effort to make his art widely accessible, Haring opened the Pop Shop in 1986 in downtown New York, selling commercial items adorned with his art. Haring combined cartoon imagery with graffiti, hip-hop, and urban aesthetics, frequently depicting animals, figures, commercial icons, sexual imagery, and childlike motifs in pieces both playful and apprehensive. His work became increasingly anxious and angry following his 1987 diagnosis with AIDS. Haring resolved to work harder than ever in his remaining years, creating pieces with a fervent speed and devoting his art to social action in addition to personal expression. In 1989 he established the Keith Haring Foundation, meant to promote art programs and public spaces for children and to raise consciousness about AIDs. He died in February 1990. In addition to hundreds of exhibitions held during his lifetime, Haring has had numerous retrospectives in New York, San Francisco, Paris, Tokyo, and Berlin since he passed away.

 

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Growing, 1988. Screen print, 101.6 x 76.2 cm

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Poster, Keith Haring, Fun Gallery, 1983. Poster, 61 x 44.4 cm

Images and text: http://www.artnet.com/artists/keith-haring/

Artist of the Week: Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz (Brazilian, 1961)  (Text and images from http://www.artnet.com/artists/vik-muniz/)

Vik Muniz is a Contemporary visual artist who was born Vicente José de Oliveira Muniz (Brazilian, b.1961) in São Paulo, Brazil. Muniz began to discover art in the books he borrowed from his high school library. After studying advertising at the Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado de São Paulo, he moved to Brooklyn, NY, with his family in 1983. The artist began his career as a sculptor in the late 1980s, but he gradually became more interested in drawing and photography.

In 1988, Muniz explored the memory, perception, and images represented in arts and communication. He created The Best of Life, the series of drawings in which he reproduced from his memory some of the famous photographs he saw in the magazine Life. He then photographed his drawings to give more reality to his memories. In the mid-1990s, in order to create witty, bold, and often deceiving images based on photojournalism and art history, Muniz began to incorporate unusual and everyday materials into his photographic process. These materials included dust, diamonds, sugar, dry pigment, ketchup, caviar, and wire. In 1997, Muniz became well-known for his Pictures of chocolate series, in which he used chocolate syrup to create his works. The artist borrowed from popular culture and Old Masters artists such as Georges Seurat and Vincent Van Gogh to make his works more familiar. He called this approach the “worst possible illusion.”

In 1998, he participated in the 24th International Biennale in São Paulo, and in 2001, he represented Brazil at the 49th Biennale in Venice, Italy. In 2006, Muniz created the series Pictures of Junk. In 2010, the documentary Waste Land, directed by Lucy Walker, followed Muniz for three years. During this time, the artist created art with recyclables at Jardim Gramacho, a landfill which serves the metropolis of Rio de Janeiro. Muniz collaborated with the people employed to pick out recyclable material from garbage and created large-scale mosaic portraits; these works were sold at art auctions in London and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Sao Paulo. The artist has had his work exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, the Centre National de la Photographie in Paris, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the KAsama Nichido Museum of Art in Japan, among many other prestigious institutions. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn.

 

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Maria Callas from Pictures of Diamonds, 2004, Chromogenic print (edition of 10), 101.6 x 76.2 cm.

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The Flowers in the Blue and White Vase After Chardin, 2005, Chromogenic print (edition of 6), 101.6 x 129.5 cm.