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Daily Paintings Offer an Artistic Timeline of the President’s Legacy

Rob Pruitt unveils his unique monument to the President Obama at the Museum Of Contemporary Art Detroit.

This is what over 2,000 Barack Obamas look like.

Artist Rob Pruitt, known for his panda paintings and his 90s performance piece Cocaine Buffet, is probably one of the few Americans—excluding those who work at the White House or for Fox News—who wakes up each morning thinking about Obama. Since the president’s inauguration in 2009, the New York-based artist, whose work often juxtaposes sincerity and parody, has spent 15 minutes each day creating a 2’x2’ oil painting of the president. Today, Pruitt and the Museum Of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) will unveil The Obama Paintings, along with his unique take on government memorials, The Lincoln Monument.

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The seminal feminist artist discusses doll community role play, Second Life, and love in the time of Tinder in preparation for her newest show at The Jewish Museum.

Laurie Simmons How We See/Ajak (Violet), 2015 Pigment print 70 × 48 inches © Laurie Simmons, courtesy the artist and Salon 94.

Over the last four decades, artist, photographer, and filmmaker Laurie Simmons has charted the female psyche through made-up worlds and scenarios that challenge our perceptions of reality. Perhaps best known for her dollhouse works, prominently featured in daughter Lena Dunham’s breakout movie Tiny Furniture, her newest series brings those explorations online, from the world of Kigurumi cosplay to the real doll community—women who alter themselves to look like Barbie, baby dolls, and Japanese anime characters through makeup, clothes, and even cosmetic surgery. In Laurie Simmons: How We See, opening March 13 at the Jewish Museum, Simmons unveils seven new works that play on archetypal fashion model imagery, with an unsettling twist. Posed in front of a school photo-type backdrop, and cropped from the shoulders down, the girls all have an “uncanny, alien gaze” achieved by their painted on “preternaturally large, sparkling eyes” to create a humanoid effect—a technique borrowed from the cosplay community. For How We See, Simmons went beyond the voyeuristic explorations that usually accompany coverage of these so-called doll girls to question notions of beauty, identity, and persona. In an era when social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram permit endless morphing, retouching, and temporary versions of the self, Simmons wonders just how real reality is now.

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Artist Posthumously Breathes New Life Into Russian Lit Classic

Alice Neel’s long-forgotten illustrations for the Brothers Karamazov highlight the humor and the sadness of a master.

Alice Neel was often referred to as an “outsider artist” as a way of simplifying her often-complex work, which was both abstract and elegantly pained in its emotional clarity. When Neel passed away in 1984, she left behind a massive body of work, ranging from oil paintings to drawings to watercolors. The latter of these is the subject of a new book on the artist, Alice Neel: Drawings and Watercolors 1927-1978, and an accompanying exhibition at blue chip New York City gallery David Zwirner.

Neel’s delicate sketching had the unique ability to catch the precise moment between joy, laughter, and sadness as it flashed across a human face. This gravitas and perception, with a dash of sly cheekiness, made her the perfect choice to create a set of watery black and white illustrations in the 1930s of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece The Brothers Karamazov. The final, fully illustrated book by Neel never saw the light of day, and as The Paris Review put it: “It’s not clear if the publishers rejected her work or if the whole project fell through, but in either case, damn.” The eight illustrations Neel created that we do know of are a testament to her intuitive ability, sensitive hand, and fierce humor. The unbridled joy of Grushenka and Mitya at the Drunken Party is juxtaposed with the somber, Old Testament sufferings of The Doctor’s Visit to Ilyusha. Together, they create something just as complex, as human, as one of Dostoyevsky’s very own works.

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