Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weekend Art School: Sigmar Polke

German Pop Art painter Sigmar Polke, along with fellow Germans Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg Fischer, founded what they called Capitalist Realism, a varient of Pop Art that humorously critiqued consumerism and mass production. 

Polke was born in Oelsnitz in Lower Silesia. He fled with his family to Thuringia in 1945 during the Expulsion of Germans after World War II. His family escaped from the Communist regime in East Germany in 1953, traveling first to West Berlin and then to Düsseldorf. Upon his arrival in West Germany, in Wittich, Polke began to spend time in galleries and museums and worked as an apprentice in a stained glass factory called Dusseldorf Kaiserswerth, before entering the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (Art School) at age twenty.

From 1961-1967 he studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy under Karl Otto Goetz and Gerhard Hoehme and began his creative output during a time of enormous social, cultural, and artistic changes in Germany and elsewhere. During the 1960s, Düsseldorf, in particular, was a prosperous, commercial city and an important centre of artistic activity.

In 1963 Polke founded “Kapitalistischen Realismus” (Capitalistic Realism), a painting movement with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg (later called Konrad Fischer). It is an anti-style of art, appropriating the pictorial short-hand of advertising. This title also referred to the realist style of art known as ‘Socialist Realism’, then the official art doctrine of the Soviet Union (from which he had fled with his family), but it also commented upon the consumer-driven art ‘doctrine’ of western capitalism. He also participated in “Demonstrative Ausstellung”, a store-front exhibition in Düsseldorf with Kuttner, Lueg, and Richter.

Polke's creative output during this time of enormous social, cultural, and artistic changes in Germany and elsewhere, demonstrate most vividly his imagination, sardonic wit, and subversive approach in his drawings, watercolors, and gouaches produced during the 1960s and 1970's. Embedded in these images are incisive and parodic commentaries on consumer society, the postwar political scene in Germany, and classic artistic conventions.

The anarchistic element of the work Polke developed, was largely engendered by his mercurial approach. His irreverence for traditional painting techniques and materials and his lack of allegiance to any one mode of representation has established his now-respected reputation as a visual revolutionary. Paganini, an expression of "the difficulty of purging the demons of Nazism" - witness the "hidden" swastikas - is typical of Polke's tendency to accumulate a range of different mediums within one canvas. It is not unusual for Polke to combine household materials and paint, lacquers, pigments, screen print and transparent sheeting in one piece. A complicated "narrative" is often implicit in the multi-layered picture, giving the effect of witnessing the projection of a hallucination or dream through a series of veils.

Polke embarked on a series of world travels throughout the 1970s, photographing in Pakistan, Paris, New York, Afghanistan, and Brazil. From 1977-1991 he was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Hamburg. He settled in Cologne, where he continues to live and work.

In 2007, Vienna's Museum Moderner Kunst held an exhibition of Polke's work entitled, "Sigmar Polke: Retrospektive" that spanned his career from his appropriations of Pop imagery and continuing through decades of perplexing compositions and clever critiques to arrive at current works that employ a haze of chemicals, minerals, and paints.

Artist information courtesy of Wikipedia

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Art of Sleep

Yesterday was tax day and many people feel like staying bed all day in an IRS induced depression slumber. But if you're like me, you have to go to work and the down-filled cocoon of self pity just isn't an option. 

Luckily for all of us, today is
National Wear Your Pajamas To Work Day!

Statistics have shown that comfortable employees are more productive and nothing is more comfortable than working you pajamas. However, if you're planning on showing up at work in your loungewear, there are a few rules to follow:

1. Get Comfy

Stay stylish with this beautiful set from Sleepyheads

Can't wear full-on pajamas to work?
Grab a dress and slip on one of Plum Pretty Sugar's chic robes
(Be sure to check out their gorgeous duvet covers too)

A comfier version of many executive's shoe of choice -the golf shoe!
Golf Shoe Slippers from Hoboken Golf

My personal slippers of choice are these adorable "wooden clogs" from A Touch of Dutch.

2. (In Case You Get Too Comfy) Bring Sleeping Aids

Offices are noisy and bright, but you can still rest from a busy work day. .
(Friendly Tip: Try napping when most people are at lunch. That way when they come back, you can go on YOUR "lunch break" and nap some more.)

The awesome web site Fail Ads has a list of 40 Crazy Looking Sleep Masks. I loved so many of them that I couldn't choose my faves. Below are two that made me smile.

I had no idea that cute earplugs existed, did you? eCrater did!
3. Set Your Alarm Clock

The last thing you want to do is to sleep through a meeting. The boss will never let you have a National Wear Your Pajamas To Work Day again! Sure, you could use a cell phone or a nice friend,
 but wouldn't you rather use one of these:

Red Alert Robot from polyvore

Light Bulb Alarm Clock by Quirky

Have a coworker who needs a pick-me-up? Pajamagram makes the perfect gifts for today!

And since it is Friday - lets talk about living the art-full life.  Last week I showed you photos of art in everyday places. Today I wanted to share with you using sleep as an artful inspiration.

In 2009 Chinese artist Chu Yun, 33 created what he called a human sculpture. In a living installation at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, Yun hired women ages 18-40 to sleep at the museum (with the optional use of a sleeping pill) while museum visitors view them with no rope or barrier between them. The installation was extremely popular. Did any of you get to see it?

Chu Yun Art Installation

Chu Yun is in good company when it comes to using "sleeping beauties" for inspiration.

Sleeping By Day by British artist Ray Caesar (LOVE this image!!)

Sleeping Goddess by Frank Rozasy (courtesy of Fine Art America)

Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's Treasury Thursday Tax Day!

Did you ever notice that when you put the words "The" and "IRS" together, it spells "THEIRS?" ~Author Unknown

Happy April 15th everyone. Last year Playboy model turned crafter Britt Savage created this dress out of shredded tax forms:

Today's Etsy Treasury Thursday features some of this year's awesome tax inspired pieces:

Calculator Wrist Pincushion by Chrissypootwo $22

Glass Pendant Necklace by Ruth Miko $36

Party Paying Taxes Collage by Justabrenda $16

Tax Time Folded Greeting Card by up up creative $3

Vintage 1950 Tax Reminder Glass Altered Art Necklace by Kimari Jewelry $18.98

Money Cufflinks by Little Angels Jewelry $11.99

Good luck on your taxes and take advantage of some of the great Tax Day Deals going on today.
 (list courtesy of Yahoo! Money). 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What Do Vegans Do For A Third Anniversary?

If you follow the traditional gift guides for wedding anniversaries - the third anniversary is leather (I fear Martha Stewart would be upset if I followed the modern guide, lol).  Putting aside all kinky items, wallets, belts and briefcases, I was able to find some incredible leather gifts for men and women.

Here, in no particular order, are my Top Ten Leather Finds of the Day. 

Ok, I know I said no briefcases, but this is an incredible laptop bag that defies categories.  2UNFOLD works as a briefcase, shoulder bag, safecase, rucksack, leather courier, canvas courier (it's reversible), leather cluth or canvas clutch.  It is gender neutral and holds laptops up to 17" vertically and 13" horizontally. It is also $483 and currently sold out, but will begin taking orders on April 19th so get ready!

Who doesn't love to give a gift they can share?

Looking for a gift for us both, I stumbled upon what I first thought were leather rocks....
This funky piece which I absolutely want to lounge on right this very instant is actually the Tantisassi Leather Designer Sofa from Italian furniture maker Rossi di Albizzate.   

Even if the Tantisassi is out of my price range, my house can still smell like an expensive sofa or lounge chair.....which apparently men who play guitar really dig.  My husband does play and does love the smell of a new maybe Colonial Candle is on to something.

I also looked into leather guitar straps. Leather Smith Designs makes gorgeous custom straps with designs or words of your choice embossed. It is a cool idea and they do fantastic work, but "Big Dog" in the photo below from their web site, cracks me up....


True happiness can come in many shapes and sizes, and for me it comes in a large bouquet of polka dot lillies from BD Leather Designs on Etsy.  Made of leather and available as a super oversized single flower or a smaller bouquet of three, these just make me smile.

Talking about things that make me smile - I can't resist a happy giraffe. Especially when he is protecting my phone. Squirellicious on Etsy has happy giraffes in many colors, but for me the sweetest was in white.

I do love most animals but I hate ostriches. They are evil creatures who attack without being provoked. They have tiny brains and huge pointed beaks and they are the closest living relative to the T-Rex. I have also been attacked by ostriches twice in my life and so I am very happy when they are turned into purses and furniture and other goods. This chair from the Ostrich Emporium in South Africa is a chic, art-deco example of prime ostrich usage.

You always hear that love conquers all things (including ostriches), and I can believe that.... but after three years of marriage and nine years together, I think Michelle Verbeek's bracelet speaks the truth...

Do you know what else I believe conquers all things? The perfect pair of shoes. Nothing can make a woman feel more powerful and in-charge than a great pair of heels. Sure, there are a million leather shoes to choose from (and some amazing vegan lines as well!), but my favorite has always been the pin-up styles by Fluevog. (They do have men's shoes too!) 

Operettas / Malibran in Turquoise

Don't let your feet get all the attention. Maskmaker and artist Tom Banwell creates masks that are part Eyes Wide Shut, part chic masquerade party and part Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights Dream come to life. They are also completely breathtaking.

Happy Anniversary to my husband, I love you! (and P.S.Your gift is NOT listed on here...ooh sneaky...)
See you all tomorrow....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nothing Rhymes with Orange Robot

Despite my husband's protests, about every 6 months I redecorate the house.  We have had walls in red, lime, purple, cream, turquoise, tiled, patterned with stripes, swirls, wall decals, and even an alien mural.  Currently my obsession is finding the perfect shade of orange, a decor color I have loved ever since Nickelodeon's Big Orange Couch. 

My first attempt came out a little too yellow for my taste but while looking for something with some more red in it I found the perfect color in the most perfect little burst of inspiration - Richard Wilkenson's "Orange Robot".

Sadly, the man of the house wasn't too sure about orange, so I set out to show him how fantastic an orange room can be:


The I found the room that sealed the deal:

Inspiration Room by Åsa Clerksén at Family Living Magazine

If you put a robot in a room, all of a sudden my husband will look past anything - orange walls, flowered wall decals - heck he would probably even be into that spotted dog rug....just as long as there is a robot. 

And oh, there will be robots because currently they are running amok in home decor everywhere. Suddenly my husband, and brother I might add, are totally in style:

Shana Logic has Robot Hand Towels and the super sweet Robot With Headphones Print

Thanks to the blog The Invisible Agent I was made aware of some incredibly cool robot lamps on Ebay.

My heart is fluttering with love for this pillow and if only I had a spare $79.00, it would be mine, all mine...
Rr is for Robot Romance Pillow by One Roof Designs on Etsy

And who knew that Devo singer Mark Mothersbaugh is an artist whose latest venture is a series of rugs, including a series of robots?!? My favorite is Super Thing 3000 (seen below) but there are many styles, all available in 2 sizes.

Robot Rugs courtesy of Robot Living
**By the way - I can't find who made that dog rug or where to find it, but I absolutely adore it - from it's big paws to its googly eyes.  Does anyone know who made it? **

In my search, I did however find the coolest rug that has ever existed and I just ordered the taxidermy catalog to make my own (thanks to a killer tutorial from creator Hemi Housewife on Crafster - the bible for all things crafty). 

Animal Friendly Fake Taxidermy Rug / Tutorial:

"Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto"