Nothing is quite what it seems in the work of artist Frank Kunert (b. 1963). The German model maker and photographer’s polished, surreal studio-shot images depict settings that are slightly askew. Domestic spaces are inverted somehow, mysteriously emptied of human presence with objects that appear too large or small for the room. In one, a diving board protrudes from an armchair, jutting through a window and out into a horizon of fluffy white clouds. In another, a rocking horse teeters on sky-high ladders, just about to topple over the edge of a brick wall.
Category: Studio Drift
Nina Zeljković, Papilon painting, 2022, oil on canvas, 180x180cm. Installed at Non canonico, Courtesy of the artist and Non canonico, Belgrade.
I’ve been following the work of Serbian, Hamburg and Belgrade-based artist Nina Zeljković (b. 1985) for some time but finally saw it for the first time in real life at this year’s Artissima. Her paintings at the booth of Eugster || Belgrade (a duo with Saša Tkačenko) – some of which of large scale, shaped and framed canvases, all mixed media, all 2022 – tightly interrelated with the public. One had to wonder about the extensive research behind them, not limited to a pictorial quest. Speaking to the artist,  I learned about the different aspects that inform her practice. Perceiving a lack of discourse growing up in Belgrade in the 90s and 00s, she stresses the idea that painting needs an entry point, which for her became the 2015 class of Jutta Koether in Hamburg. Coming from philosophy, the artist considers her German experience an “eye-opener”, mentioning she still misses the way art was discussed in those days.
In the 1980s, engineer Harold Cohen (1928-2016) devised a computer program that could create abstract drawings. Named AARON, it is both an early example of digital art – the collaboration between artist and technology – and Artificial Intelligence (AI). As the years progressed, newer versions of AARON drew figures, plants and animals autonomously – even adding colour by 1995. Further significant breakthroughs have been made in the decades since; in August 2022, Jason Allen won the Colorado State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition with Théâtre D’opéra Spatial, a piece generated using the AI tool Midjourney.
Refik Anadol (b. 1985) is at the forefront of new media and machine intelligence. The Los Angeles-based artist uses algorithms to extract and compiles information from images and text available online – public metadata – to generate immersive and interactive experiences. Quantum Memories (2020), for example, presented an alternative view of nature generated from 200 million photos of Earth, its atmosphere and landscapes.
Carolee Schneemann, Secret Garden” (1956), oil on canvas (all photos by Annabel Keenan/Hyperallergic)
There’s something almost intoxicating when an exhibition’s message trickles down so profoundly into daily life. I’m Not Your Mother, a group show at PPOW, pokes holes in fundamental, seldom-questioned aspects of the history of western landscape painting, humanity’s relationship with nature, and the experience of being a mother. Broad as that may seem, the show focuses in on the concept of mother nature and underscores the connection between the feminization and exploitation of the environment.
The romanticized idea of nature as the mother of all beings has roots in western landscape painting, a fact made clear by the show’s inclusion of an 1877 work by the Hudson River School artist Jasper Francis Cropsey. The painting shows a fertile landscape encompassing a calm lake surrounded by luscious trees just starting to change color. An elevated bank bends into the lake, providing two figures with easy access to fish or contemplate nature’s beauty.
DALL-E image based on the prompt: “An Impressionist painting of a tomato climbing a ladder by the sea.”
People get up in arms whenever the hand of the artist is detached from the final artwork. “Are photographs real art?” they muttered in the 19th Century. “God I hate this Pollock guy,” cried haters witnessing a splattered canvas that the artist seemingly never touched. So it’s no wonder that AI image-generators have got art historians in a twist, as more artists make use of these tools to inform their practice. I love diving into what gets people’s blood boiling in the art world, and this summer AI crept its way onto the leaderboard of irritants. But why? And what might it teach us about art history and visual consumption?
DALL-E 2, a text-to-image AI generation program, went live to audiences this autumn. The initial version of the model — which takes its tongue-in-cheek name from Disney’s lovable 2008 robot WALL-E and the Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí — was released in January 2021 by the OpenAI research lab.
Kazuya Sakai, “Integrales II (Edgard Varèse) (1979), presented in normal color (left) and with color blind view conversion by Enchroma (right) (© Kazuya Sakai’s estate; courtesy Galeria Vasari, Buenos Aires and DMA)
Around the world, one in 12 men (8%) and one in 200 women experience red-green colorblindness, more formally known as Color Vision Deficiency (CVD). That’s about 4.5% of the world’s population, or around 350 million people. The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is the latest to participate in a new accessibility program that provides CVD alleviation lenses for visitors to borrow for free in an effort to improve their experience of art-viewing.
The technology, which alleviates red-green CVD for about four out of five users with the condition, was developed by EnChroma, an independent company based in Berkeley, California. Usually genetic, red-green CVD is caused by an overlap in the red and green color receptor cones within the eye, causing the hues to become practically indistinguishable.
Ukrainian pastry chef Dinara Kasko (previously) brings a healthy dose of geometry to her meticulously designed cakes. Candy-colored spheres line a four-tier tower of layered sponge and cream, triangles connect to create an angular apple skin, and small pearls cloak a round form in a hypnotizing spectrum of pigments. Other patterns are more organic, like the shimmering petal-like confection that tops a strawberry tart. Many of the edible artworks are created by pouring mousse into silicone molds and then spraying the shapes in vibrant gradients or pastels.
Based in Ukraine before the war began in February, Kasko left her home and studios in Kharkiv following Russia’s invasion. She worked as a volunteer and fundraiser for a few months as she traveled around Europe before settling in a small space near Liverpool in recent weeks. “I lost everything in one day,” she says, sharing that many of her friends and family are still living in the country.
If you are in the business of selling fake art online, this is truly a golden age.
It’s especially true if you are selling images attributed to famous artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, or Jean-Michel Basquiat, because in 2012, both the Basquiat Estate and the Keith Haring Foundation stopped authenticating works. To make matters more complicated, the Andy Warhol Foundation’s long-standing policy, according to a spokesperson, is that it “[does not] offer opinions on works of art purported to be by Andy Warhol.”
Fake News (2018), by BarabásiLab, captures the spread of tweets sharing the #pizzagate hashtag on Twitter.
The 1961 Jasper Johns work 0 Through 9, which depicts the numerical figures stacked one on top of the other and scaled to fill the whole canvas, is art’s early acknowledgment of the important role that numbers play in our lives. Five years later, On Kawara began a series of small canvases, each painted with nothing more than the date—in simple white letters and digits—of its creation. His “Today” series, which now numbers more than 3,000 canvases, relies on the same indicators of numerical value as those found on Johns’s painting. Yet when Johns showed all numeric digits at the same time, he rendered them devoid of empirical information. Kawara’s numbers, by contrast, refer to a distinct, observable reality—specific days on the calendar—and therefore describe a quantifiable, chronological journey through the days of the artist’s life.
There is a sense of awe that comes with discovering great art outside the confines of a gallery. This intake of breath is what Gestalten sought to reproduce in their book Art Escapes, in which passionate arts writer Grace Banks explores 62 different artworks out of conventional settings.
Although these works are often in stark contrast with their environment, many interact with it in a symbiotic way, or allow the viewer to marvel at the natural beauty – stars, forests, oceans, deserts – of their surroundings.