Art, Again

It’s funny how art can be reinterpreted. There’s a super-human group of iconic artists, the ones every one can recognize whose incredible style gets digested and reappropriated on nearly every other artist’s canvas that came after them.

I recently came across an artist who uses faces instead of canvases for a more personal kind of reinterpretation. Andy Alcala posts “Making of” videos where you can watch him perform the coolest face painting of all time; very calm and methodical, working in front of a black sheet to match the black backwards baseball cap holding his hair back. But more impressive are the collection of final photographs – dozens of repurposed masterpieces painted onto a face facing you with eyes closed.

Below you’ll find a few of his works with their corresponding artwork beside:

“You Are So Little” by Andy Warhol, 1958

From the artist’s Flickr here.

“The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali, 1931

From the artist’s Flickr here.

“Nympheas” by Claude Money, 1904

From the artist’s Flickr here.

“Sailboats in Pourville” by Anna Bilinska, 1885

From the artist’s Flickr here.

“Whaam!” by Roy Lichtenstein, 1983

From the artist’s Flickr here.

There’s a really cool “Making of” video for “Whaam!” on Vimeo here.

Sometimes we apply these reinterpretations of artworks to the artists themselves. We’ve all seen the adorable little artist costumes, but I really love the dissected artists, the men in full costume with their insides painted the same way their hands did.

All photos from Vlamboyant.

Dissected Picasso: 

Dissected Van Gogh:

Dissected Dali:

London Street Photography: Developing for Decades

With the Olympics starting this week, the whole world seems focused on London. And that includes the Museum of the City of New York, which just opened a new exhibit London Street Photography this week.
 London Street Photography
Matt Stuart (b.1974), “Trafalgar Square,” 2006
The exhibit features over 70 photographs recording the people and streets of London, and you walk through them chronologically from 1860 to present day, watching photography develop alongside the bustling streets.
The room is white and wide open; it’s as if you can see decades of time sprawled out before you in one glance. The late 1800s saw photography in its developmental stages, as exposure times finally became short enough to freeze a city as busy as London. The 1910 photo by Horace Nicholls, “Derby Day,” looks like it came straight out of My Fair Lady, with the man in the foreground chewing merrily on his big cigar opposite a jolly woman in a giant hat.
Check out the rest of my review where it’s published on Woman Around Town🙂

An Englishman in New York, part two

Above the description of Bell and his previous works posted in the gallery is Bell’s own self-portrait in New York. His right hand reaches out in front of him, and his black jacket blends into the buildings behind him, as if they are one and the same. The sun hits the side of the building and shines right into the lens as the brightest part of this black and white portrait. Not smiling and looking straight into the camera, he must be angling himself and the camera together, because the Empire State Building and the other behind him are almost fully included in the picture as they reach up towards the sky. The photograph was taken on May 12, 2010 in East Midtown, Manhattan. Most of the other photographs in the exhibit feature the person in their workplace or wherever it is that plays a part in who they are, and this placement of Bell in front of the most famous building in the city, in almost the very middle of Manhattan, makes him not only a participant, but the center of his gallery.

Zoe Heller, An Englishman in New York
If you were to continue along the gallery, moving through it clockwise, the photograph following this description and self-portrait is of writer Zoe Heller, most well-known for her novels Notes on Scandal and The Believers. But in this picture of her sitting on a metal stoop by the street in Tribeca, all she looks like is a New Yorker. She’s sitting at an angle on the corner of the stoop, with her right arm propping up her face and her left draped across her knees. Her black converses are loose and untied and she has what looks like a tattoo on her upper right arm. She wears a watch on that hand. She seems like she’s waiting—waiting and looking for who ever she’s waiting for. Her eyes are focused past the camera, but it’s her nose and her lips that draw attention to her face—her nose strong and catching light, her lips full and patient. She’s wearing large, but thin, silver hoop earrings that are mostly hidden by her curly brown hair. She looks like anyone you might pass on the street in New York: casual and creative. In her quote hanging next to her photograph she says, “There’s a mythology here that anything is possible. With so many things, I’m torn between the appeal of that American hopefulness and a kind of English realism.”

Hanging next to Heller is a color portrait of the Detective from the Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, Martin Speechley who says, “As a NY City police officer I don’t just live in the city, I’m a part of it… the NYPD is like a big family. Inside the Englishman in me is still there.” The next wall is one of the short ones in this rectangular room, filled with all color photographs. Here we meet playwright Sir Peter Shaffer and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Sir Mark Lyall Grant. Then, as the only portrait oriented photograph, hanging in the very center of the wall, is one of Thomas P. Campbell, the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This photograph compliments its center status with a symmetrical border within. This border is made of ancient Egyptian ruins, familiar to any New Yorker as the top floor exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Through the doorway of this ancient wall covered in carved hieroglyphics stands Campbell, facing the right but with his head and upper body turned the ninety degrees toward the camera. Dressed professionally in a suit and tie, with black framed glasses on his nose, you can see even more of the same ruins surrounding him. Anyone who’s familiar with the successful British comedian John Oliver will notice a very strong resemblance—a round but serious face, a small straight-lined mouth, and slightly graying hair. In his description to the left, Campbell’s quoted as saying, “I first came to New York in 1985 as a student. I fell in love with the city’s international cast of characters, the scale of the extraordinary buildings cheek-by-jowl with the most rundown, God-forsaken, almost forgotten areas… This is such an exciting country to live in. By living in New York and going back to Europe regularly I have the best of both worlds.”

An Englishman in New York, part one

Hi! This is a project I did for my Reporting the Arts class last semester. I got to choose whatever I wanted to do for the project so of course, I just went for a really big blog post. But I’m gonna break it up so it’s not too terribly long and takes up the whole page. Stay tuned!

As you walk through the white wall doorway of room 38A in the National Portrait Gallery, you’re met with a rectangular white room covered, in the most symmetrical way, with photographic portraits. Miniature spotlights on the ceiling shine onto these identically white-matted pictures, and the same thin black frame surrounds each one. The shorter walls to your left and right are all colored portraits and the wall that’s cut in half by the doorway you just walked through has a mix of both color and black and white. The long wall in front of you is arranged in two rows of photographs, all black and white, and with the title of this one room gallery written above: “An Englishman in New York, Photographs by Jason Bell.” There’s a black bench in the very center of this well-proportioned room. If you were to move through the gallery clockwise from left to right, the first thing you’d see would be a tall white rectangle filled with a description of the gallery and a brief biography of the man behind it.

The inspiration behind this exhibit came from an American Vogue photo assignment that Jason Bell began in 2008. He was shooting an English tearoom called Tea & Sympathy that’s located in the heart of Manhattan.[1] After a conversation with the co-owner, Nicky Perry, Bell learned that over 120,000 British men and women were living and working in New York City, just as he was. In an article discussing the exhibit, Bell told the Guardian, “I suddenly thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out why all these people left England?’ And, of course, I also had all these questions about what I personally was doing there.”[2]

What emerged was this beautiful collection, now a book of the same title. Of course, there was some difficulty in turning the most photographed city in the world into something no one had ever seen before. Rather than focusing on the city itself, the standard buildings or the classic landmarks, Bell turned instead to the English perspective. Beside each portrait in the exhibit is a quote from the person in the picture, describing their first experience in New York, their misconceptions about the city, or why they came in the first place. Bell’s first memory of Manhattan is quoted in the same article. He recollected, “Seeing an expensively dressed woman in her 80s on the Upper East Side bending down to pick up dog shit with a perfectly manicured hand.”[3]

Bell has been living between New York and London since 2003, and although he studied Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at Oxford University, he had already decided on a career as a portrait photographer. He’s photographed everyone from Michael Phelps to Colin Firth, to Katy Perry, and has also shot a number of popular advertisements for movies, and television shows. But as an Englishman living in New York, this project was different. “I went for a walk in Central Park with Sting, and for a cup of tea on Kate Winslet’s roof terrace, sat on Zoe Heller’s stoop and watched Stephen Daldry bicycle down 8th Avenue… I started with a blank canvas and was amazed by the number of Englishmen and women who have made such a large impact on the cultural life of the city.”[4] In the description shown in the exhibit he says, “I learnt more about what it means to be English, what it means to be a New Yorker, and where the two intersect.”

[1] books/