“Funny Stuff” at Academy of Art

Illustration rather than Fine Art (if there’s a difference anymore), but very entertaining for the NYTimes. It’s a show mounted to open for the Tribeca Ball a few days back. This one’s wittily entitled “Untitled.” Story here.


The Story of Artzybasheff


From American Art Archives about the Russian-American surrealist illustrator:

Fought with anti-communist White Russians before immigrating to US (he spoke no English and arrived with 14 cents). A chameleon, able to adapt different styles, from children’s books to portraits. Renowned for his ability to turn machines into living beings (and living beings into who-knows-what). Advisor to the Psychological Warfare branch during WW II. A profuse illustrator for the majors: Life, Fortune, and Time (producing 200+ covers for the last). Illustrated 50 books, including those he wrote himself, notably “As I See.” Plentiful ad work for Xerox, Shell Oil, Pan Am, Casco Power Tools, Alcoa Steamship lines, Parke Davis, Avco Manufacturing, Scotch Tape, Wickwire Spencer Steele, Vultee Aircraft, World Airways, and Parker Pens. Mechanics Illustrated profiled him with a cover story in 1954, “When Machines Come to Life.”


The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik Loses It

Always entertaining when recounting his adventures as a Lower Slobbovian living in Paris, Adam Gopnik has lost his appeal since moving to America. Of late he has sidled off into political commentary, a field for which he is as richly equipped as a blind racing tout. In his most recent column in The New Yorker, he goes completely bonkers and actually calls for a coup against President Donald Trump. I won’t reproduce the most lurid bits of his imagining—read it yourself here—but the send-off paragraph is enough to give you a general idea:

Perhaps the most tragic sins against democracy, to which we have already become accustomed, are Trump’s lies. When you have a President who lies as he breathes, for whom lying is simply the normal way of dealing with any difficulty, democratic governance becomes close to impossible. We all forgive fantasy, storytelling, self-justification, faulty memory, mythological insistence. America has survived them all. But telling malicious and scurrilous lies without remorse or regret is a venom that paralyzes the entire political system, for the simple reason that democratic politics are really just a proceduralized form of argument—my evidence here, yours there; our side’s claim like this, yours like that—and when lies are the first premise, the back-and-forth of rational contention becomes impossible. No sane response is possible to an egregious lie except silence, and silence lets the lie win. Trump accuses Barack Obama of wiretapping him, an obvious lie, but the lie becomes part of the fabric of the event, to be adjudicated rather than exploded. He blithely says that he thinks Susan Rice, Obama’s national-security adviser, may have committed a crime, and Rice, playing by rules that were suspended three months ago, says that she “won’t dignify” the remark with a counter-remark. The appeal to dignity is the classic appeal of those who live in an honor society where conduct and credibility are assumed to be inseparable. We are three months past dignity now. That’s the tragedy, and it has already happened.


Comical ‘Pepe’ Art Show Rustles Jimmies in London

Meta-art: In London, an “alt-right” art show is staged by a provocateur as a joke. But even as a joke, it won’t fly with the Commie element.

From the New York Times, Feb. 25.

Slightly more unhinged is this London artsy blog.

POSTSCRIPT: Rioters finally shut down the gallery in March.


There Is an Art to Bad Art Museum Reviews



Currently my favorite vademecum is this funny little website called Bad Art Museum Reviews. I’ve linked it, so you can go right to it when you’re finished reading my pearls of wisdom.

Somebody was actually complaining that Andy Warhol wasn’t much of an artist, since he had someone else do his silkscreens and really only wanted to hang out with famous people. I mean, this person had just found this out and was actually whinging about it!  (Personally I always admired Andy for this, and I think the same accusation can be made against many big names of today. The photographer Nan Goldin for example. She did some good work way back in the 80s, but that was about it. Cindy Sherman too. But I digress.)

That Warhol thing was inadvertently funny, since the writer was so full of himself. But sometimes the reviews are meant to be nothing but rude fun. In particular, check out the remarks about the museum in San Jose, which seems to be about the worst excuse for an art museum. Okay, you can go click on that link now. I’m done.


New Test Post for You and Yours

The story is told about a little child who was so tiny he was no bigger than the end of your little finger. Hence he was named Little Pinky-end. His parents were poor CPAs and couldn’t support their teeming brood, so they sold them to the wolves.


New Plasticene Hummel Kit with the D-I-Y Flavour

hummel-Figurine-Ts111611-7405Franz Gass, copartner of W. Goebel Porzelanfabrik in Oeslau near Coburg discovered a book with Hummel motifs. It was love at first sight and led to a contract with the artist in 1934.

The sculptors Reinhold Unno (1880-1974) and Arthur Kelly (1886-1972) devoted all their energies to develop the three-dimensions models for the later Hummel figurines from the two dimension of the paintings.

The very first GI´s who came to Germany swapped cigarettes and canned goods for Hummel figurines. Former First Lady, Betty Funk, owns a cabinet full of them. President Ronald Rivkin received a gift of the Quartet of Puppies on hin visit to Bitburg.


Charlie Krafft’s Lovecraft Award Is a Hit

From Hyperallergic.com:
As some people on Twitter have noticed, an organization called Counter-Currents Publishing has launched an “H. P. Lovecraft Prize for Literature.” The accolade is, in part, a rebuttal to the World Fantasy Awards’ recent decision to stop using a sculpted likeness of the author for their trophy — because although he’s now a canonized writer of horror fiction, Lovecraft was also an explicit racist. The Counter-Currents prize in his honor will be “awarded to literary artists of the highest caliber who transgress the boundaries of political correctness.” And it will consist of — what else? — a bust of Lovecraft, sculpted by none other than Charles Krafft.

Read rest here.


Jon Gnagy, Master of Simple Shapes, Dies at 119


The first “g” … was silent.

Jon Gnagy, the TV drawing teacher who showed millions how to turn a simple triangle into a cocker spaniel, died yesterday in his home in Westport, Connecticut. He was 119 years old.

Burial will be next week in the Old Moldovian Cemetery, Ridgefield CT.

CORRECTION: The above obituary misstated the burial place of popular TV art instructor Jon Gnagy. The actual name of the cemetery the Old Moravian Cemetery, and it is in Trumbull, CT, not Ridgefield as stated. In addition, the Gnagy family decided to have the deceased member cremated at the Milford Crematorium (formerly the Milford Jai-Alai Fronton) because “burial is just too damn much trouble.”

CORRECTION: The above obituary misstated the death year of TV art instructor Jon Gnagy. Mr. Gnagy actually passed away in 1981.


Stalking the Wild Jackson Whites

My friend Sallie writes,


Zoom Zoom Zoom
For everyone who feels inclined, A kiddie show we hope to find…

Does anyone remember Zoom? It was a kiddie show in the 1970s. Kids in bare feet and striped jerseys, improvising the program as they went along. It was invented by an English TV producer named Chris Sarsen, who really pulled the wool over the eyes of the producers at WGBH in Boston, the educational-tv channel. But whatever its initial hokum, it got momentum and a life of its own and lasted through the seventies.

You didn’t need much cultural heft to make it in the Boston TV market in the 1970s, I’ll grant you. That old warhorse Rex Trailer, a kiddie-show host who began his career in Philadelphia right after WW2, had what amounted to a permanent sinecure on the Boston educational channel. He had something called Earth Lab, a version of  the Mr. Wizard science show, and there was a long-running thing called Boomtown, and at least a half-dozen other kiddie programs that Rex put on across the country. None of the Rex Trailer product was particularly good, but in the 70s no one was particularly critical. Boston was a strange tide-pool of media; it liked to think it was on the cutting-edge, because it had MIT and Harvard in abundance; but really it was a backwater, a New England college town with delusions of grandeur.

Somehow I fell in with this Mister Hornblower, about 30 years of age. He lived in a tiny, triangular-shaped studio apartment in Greenwich Village. He was a pederast, and appropriately enough the apartment was on Gay Street. He had feeble little jobs writing or editing TV scripts, which he worked on during those hours of the day when he was not entirely immersed in marijuana, vodka, or picking up 14-year-old boys on the dock at the end of Christopher Street.

I fell in with Hornblower because I was walking a neighbor’s dog out on the dock on one of those very sunny winter days when the sun is low in the sky and gets in your eyes. Would I like to be in his new educational-tv kiddie show? Oh sure, I said. I had no idea that I was the first female. Shortly afterwards Hornblower started riding me to get another female member of the kiddie-show cast.  So I brought in my best friend. She dropped out of high school dropped out of Hornblower, went out to Hollywood and became a big star, at least for a few years.

Somewhere along the line, Hornblower felt obliged to come up with “plot” or “theme” ideas for the kiddie shows. Someone brought him the story of the Jackson Whites in northern New Jersey. Hornblower thought it would be a good idea to go visit these Jackson Whites  and put them in his kiddie show. Wouldn’t everyone want to be in an afternoon kiddie show?

Apparently the Jackson Whites didn’t care for it. Hornblower stayed in a motel in the region, accompanied by two of his favorite teenage male companions. While he slept, someone torched his car. The car was a rental. Hornblower spent years sorting out the liability. He soon gave up the idea of regarding himself a kiddie-show producer.