Friday, July 27, 2012

Art...on the March! (a visual mixtape)



Favorite paintings, drawings, etc (of the moment): a slideshow and a visual list

Just for the fun of it, at the end of this post (after displaying 90 favorites) I've embedded a slideshow featuring some of my favorite paintings (drawings, etchings, etc.), from all eras, all artists, and in all styles. Last summer I spent weeks searching favorite artists and/or works on the internet - while I may have dropped the ball in a few cases (cropped images, even imitations) most of the selections are quality images. As you'll see, my taste is fairly eclectic; using lists assembled from art books and museum visits I googled all the artists whose work personally struck me (a very, very subjective barometer) and the result leaps from wildly avant-garde abstractions to hyperrealistic academic paintings to unconsciously bizarre medeival holy works to delightful 18th century portraits to impressionistic dreamviews to surrealistic nuggets of subversion. Although the image size is rather too small and the slideshow moves a bit too fast (couldn't figure out how to slow it down), I enjoy the wild juxtapositions. (Fair warning: the slide show won't play on an iPhone, though the 90 images above it will be fine.)

And below, as a bonus I've included a chronological illustrated list of 90 artworks that, at this very moment, I wanted to include. No other criterion applied. Hope you enjoy them as much as me...

Monday, July 23, 2012

The muddled message of The Dark Knight Rises


This piece, not a review proper but an examination of the film's themes, contains spoilers and is designed for those who have already seen the movie.

Four years ago, when this blog was in its infancy, I offered no less than four pieces touching on The Dark Knight. I was fascinated by the cultural phenomenon it represented, so rare these days. (I don't think even Avatar transcended the cinematic ghetto to the same extent; probably no other film since Titanic has, unless you discount the subsequent disappointment and include The Phantom Menace for its anticipatory buildup.) But I was also compelled by the film itself, which proved a sort of golden exception to my 00s blockbuster aversion. Aesthetically, The Dark Knight shared many of the flaws that turn me off from contemporary popcorn movies (which often seem to be either ashamed of the taste of popcorn or overly enamored of synthetic CGI butter). It took itself and its themes rather seriously; it preferred a muddy, gritty look to visual clarity and beauty; it seemed determined to make a comic-book world "realistic." Yet, in spite of these potential drawbacks, I was fascinated by the tragic, tightly divergent world it drew, as well as by the iconic performance of Heath Ledger as Joker. Even though I did not care for Batman Begins, I was converted to the Nolan Dark Knight camp, and eagerly awaited the next entry in the series. And here it is, cloaked in death like the first movie (following, rather than spurring the hype this time) - and thus assured of notoriety, however undesired by its creators.