26 April 2014 /

Sitting on a step that lowers the plaza to the sidewalk, I watch. It’s a bright day and everyone’s squinting—myself included. Passerby’s all seem to be in a similar mood, calm and relaxed, glad it’s a warm and pleasant day—the end of a nasty bipolar winter. I’m in a relaxed state myself. Confident in my thoughts and actions, happy with the unfamiliar company around me. I’m taking photos, of whatever seems even remotely interesting: the legs of the crowd, the upward shot of peoples bewildered yet complacent faces; double exposure… hoping for some interesting results. I stand up, stretch, and with an eager gaze search the horizon for the next kodak moment. Cars screech past, horns honk, a low murmur emanates from the crowd of people out on this warm day. Then I see it. The perfect composition. Something unusual juxtaposed on the landscape of tall buildings and large cars—one of those one-man police car/tricycle/motorcycle mixes that look like a clown car. Unbefitting of the NYPD. A vehicle that does not command respect nor confidence. Notions aside, I had to capture this unorthodox scene. I step out into the street, hesitate, reconsider, then stride into position ten feet away. Focus, focus, twist, focus, damn! Focus… snap! Got it. Not more than a second after that snap, another… “HEY, DIDN’T I JUST WARN YOOUU?!” Bellowed the irritated, poked, and prodded beast inside. I think… look behind me, no one… it’s me who’s being yelled at? I feign confusion and stumble away, pretending to be unaffected. Taking a leap that I equate to that of a gazelle’s, I clear the street to the curb, striding away from the scene of the shooting. A mistaken culprit, but still a culprit, I merge into the crowd, one of many—one of many noticed, and soon forgotten.

  • Paul Gauguin. Upa upa (The Fire Dance). 1891.
  • Paul Gauguin. Tahitian Idol. 1894.
  • Paul Gauguin. Te atua, state III / III. 1893–94.
  • Paul Gauguin. Tahitian Woman with Evil Spirit. c. 1900.

24 April 2014 / , ,

Drums beating, campfire blazing, a blanket of smoke covering everything in it’s grasp as the tribe performs the Upa upa—fire dance. Dancing shadows flicker with the flames of the fire as those near reach a trance like state. Late in his life and career, Paul Gauguin was one of those entranced. Developing an artistic style and way of life that drew inspiration from the primal non ‘Europeanized’ parts of the world, Gauguin immersed himself in the cultures of Tahiti, Peru, and French Polynesia. The body of work that he produced depicts various scenes of village life, religion, and death. Made in a post-impressionist style using woodcut, sculpture, painting, and lithography to transcribe his subject into muted monotones and earthy palettes. I love the raw feel of these works, each one textured and imperfect, Upa upa (fire dance) is a great example of this, with various versions in woodcut and painting, each casting a different sentiment on the scene taking place. Recently at the MoMA, Gauguin: Metamorphoses, is a unique collection of Gauguin’s primal inspired works, view the exhibition site here to learn more.

21 April 2014 /

Let’s ride our bikes at night. Turn on your back flashing red light to activate the force field. Now that we’re safe we can begin our journey. Step to the edge of the sidewalk with your bike, look both ways, even for one ways! (Delivery people are required by law not to ride with the flow of traffic.) Once assured that the road is clear let’s take proud pumps of the pedal and enjoy that cool air blowing through our hair. Get up to speed, speed is important, it allows us to balance better, like a spinning top, once we get rolling there’s no toppling over. Pedal pedal pedal, coast, pedal pedal pedal, coast; lower your profile and take a sharp smooth turn. Straighten up, pedal pedal pedal, coast. The dark blue blanket of night wraps us in a serene environment of concrete and air. You’re a stealth bike slicing through the streets, darting between cars with the confidence of a Jedi fighter pilot. Your flashing red force field warming your reflexes and repelling cars in its wake. Race alongside a bus, try touching it… so close! Feel your thighs beginning to burn, the rewards of riding. Dull vibrations and a hum hum emanate from your two wheeled prosthetic. Shit! Just about got hit by a car! Fucking force field. Can’t these muggles see we’re biking here!? Ignorant pricks. Politely snub your nose at them and continue onward rider of the night. Ride into the blackness, dissipating into the night, and leaving everyone behind.

  • Carlo Carrà, Funeral of the Anarchist Galli, 1910–11.
  • Francesco Cangiullo, Large Crowd in the Piazza del Popolo, 1914.
  • Ivo Pannaggi, Speeding Train, 1922.
  • Benedetta (Benedetta Cappa Marinetti), Speeding Motorboat, 1923–24.
  • Mario Bellusi, Modern Traffic in Ancient Rome, 1930.

18 April 2014 / , ,

Aesthetically, Italian Futurism is a dynamic modernist movement with strong scenes of the rising modern life of the early 1900s, depicting machines, speed, and war in provocative ways. When reading their manifestos, however, I can’t help but notice that the Futurist were manic, violent, sexist, and fascist revolutionaries who where, at times, hypocritical in their vulgar beliefs. Founded in 1909 by Filippo Marinetti, Futurism was a movement of many mediums, beginning with literature and expanding to painting, sculpture, sound, photography, and architecture, translating their beliefs vivaciously into each medium. As much as I disagree with their founding manifesto of violence and destruction of the “old world” (they literally wanted to demolish museums and libraries), I can’t help but admire their colorful and rhythmic works. For example, Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space and The City Rises, Marinetti’s typographic Zang Tumb Tuuum, all explore a new visual language that’s fresh and inventive. So I ask myself, is is possible to love the work but hate the men who created it? I say yes. Learn more about the Futurists and see Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe at the Guggenheim now through September 1st.

  • Beppe Giacobbe
  • Beppe Giacobbe
  • Beppe Giacobbe
  • Beppe Giacobbe

19 January 2014 / , , ,

Talk about the whole package, Beppe Giacobbe’s artful illustrations portray beauty and intelligence in a timeless style that has me smitten. His first monograph, Visionary Dictionary: Beppe Giacobbe from A to Z, is a trove of over 250 alphabetized illustrations of varied topics from the social to the political and beyond. A sophisticated rendering of the topic they’re supporting, Beppe’s visual interpretations fight the predictable image caption and instead strive for originality and presence. They conceptualize their topic in surprising ways, often times surreal, simple, but always thought provoking. Love Beppe’s work for its style, composition, and color; appreciate it for its originality and story; and above all enjoy it for being, it. Purchase the book here, and view more of Beppe’s work here.