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Georg Baselitz: Hero or Goat?

Baselitz is a German artist who is in his seventies. I got to know his work about twenty years ago, and the photo above is from a book about his work that I bought back then. He began painting images upside down in the 1980s or thereabouts, and that's been the well he's gone back to ever since. Whether he's painting/sculpting/printmaking the right way up or the wrong way up, his style is derived from German Expressionism, all violent, crude brushmarks and clashing colour harmonies. His reasoning for painting things upside down, he has said, is that it forces him to think harder about what he's looking at it and how to render it. A few years ago, he gave an interview in which he said that there are no good women artists, and that women could never be great artists. Quite rightly, this caused a furor in the art world, with calls for his work to be boycotted because of his sexism. I have to say, I'm not entirely convinced that that's the right move. I mean, I pul…
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New Blog Devoted to the Graphic Novel

A few weeks ago, I taught a weekend workshop in how to set up a blog, and then how to refine or reinvigorate it. One of the participants in that class, Jessica Baldanzi, has sent me a link to her new blog (actually a revival of an older blog). I'm recommending it both because the design is really nice, and it's also on a subject (the graphic novel) that has a wide appeal.



Here is a link to Jessica's blog, Commons Comics.

ArtSpace8 Exhibition at The Art Center, Highland Park

I went to the Highland Park art center last week to speak with the director about the new position I am taking there, as Master Instructor in Printmaking. The center is a handsome building near the center of this affluent north shore town, with classrooms in the lower ground floor, and two exhibition spaces on the main floor. Currently there is an exhibition of high quality paintings in the bigger of the two spaces:


My favourite one was by Krista Harris. Tight organization of space, balance between drawing and colours:

I also like this one by Erick Sanchez. It's like an Anselm Kiefer extravaganza but with birds rather than snakes:

And this painting, by Shar Coulson. The different kinds of brushmarks and textures don't come across well in my photo, though you get the sense of her feeling for colour harmony:


Artists Collecting Artists

We're moving apartments in Chicago at the moment, and so we've spent weeks sorting through all our worldly possessions and deciding which ones to keep and which ones to turn into other-worldly non-possessions. Patty thinks that we have thrown out, recycled, or found other homes for about 100 boxes of stuff -- clothes, furniture, kitchenware, air conditioners, books, CDs, DVDs, old documents, and above all, photos.

So many photos. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Many of them duplicates from our wedding in 2002. You might be horrified at the idea of someone throwing even copies of their wedding photos,but really, how many shots of people standing around in a garden looking at the bride and groom do you need? The whole process of discarding so much accumulated stuff made us marvel at how much junk seems to accrue to you in a short space of time, and how much you really can live without if you just let it go.

Simultaneously I carried out the same kind of ruthless culling of the he…

5 Books from the Joan Flasch Collection

Two of my artist's books were recently acquired by the Joan Flasch Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Here are five really good books by other artists that I saw on display when I went there to deliver my little pieces.






All That Glitters

Here I am again in Interlochen, northern Michigan, where I have been teaching a handmade books class to a group of eager adults. Above is one of the Japanese stab bindings books created during the class.

One drawback about that beautiful decorative paper you see on the cover: I didn't realise when I bought the papers that they were covered in glitter, which slipped off the paper as we were using it and covered everything in the room, including faces and arms.

So people left the class with lots of beautiful handmade books, while looking they had spent the day at a rave.

James Joyce, Rembrandt, Picasso, Fellini, and Me

June 16th was Bloomsday, the annual celebration of James Joyce's novel Ulysses, the action of which takes place on one day in Dublin in 1906. I've written before about the set of etchings I made back in the late 1990s, based on the Nighttown chapter of Ulysses. But after posting images of these etchings via social media during the most recent Bloomsday, I realised I could still say something about the various things that influenced my particular interpretation of Joyce's text.
When I started planning the project in 1997, I was aware of a few other artists' visual responses to the book, such as Robert Motherwell's attractive and entirely abstract etchings, some hasty and uninspired lithographs by Matisse, and (the best ones, in my opinion) semi-abstract etchings by Mimmo Paladino:

I started by narrowing down to one chapter: the Nighttown chapter, which takes place in the red light district of Dublin, and parallels the Circe episode in Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus …