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Showing posts from May, 2010

On 'Australia' by David Smith

This week's Meditation is on a sculpture by David Smith (1906-1965).   Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

On Art and NASCAR (Indy 500 edition)

'The Automobile Clothed', Salvador Dali, 1941 Where the Futurists celebrated automobiles for their speed and mechanical perfection, succeeding generations of artists depicted cars less positively. By the time that the Surrealist movement developed in the 1930s, the car was just another object that the artist could show next to other completely unrelated things in order to produce that famed Surrealist effect of things-in-the-wrong-context. For this effect to work (think of the steam train emerging from the fireplace), the objects must be very familiar, so that their placement in an unfamiliar setting registers as somehow ‘wrong.’ This was what had happened to cars thirty years after they first appeared: they had become so ubiquitous that they were taken for granted.   It came as a surprise to me to learn how often Salvador Dali, the most famous of the Surrealists, portrayed cars in his pictures. As early as 1924, a car features in a portrait of a friend called ‘Bather’. A fo

Interview with artist Allison Svoboda

'Fauna No. 4', ink on rice paper collage, 40" x 30" Following on from the interview yesterday with Diane Huff, here is an interview with the other artist in the current two-person show at the  Chicago Artists' Coalition gallery . Allison Svoboda is exhibiting stunning black-and-white collaged ink drawings, that look part Chinese ink-brush painting and part science-fiction alien being. Philip : How did you arrive at Sumi ink and Japanese paper as your current materials of choice? Allison : My previous series of work was 'Carbon', consisting of charcoal drawings on paper. It's a wonderful medium where you can make mark upon mark and continuously layer and remove the charcoal.    I then started working with ink, which is really made out of the same material—charcoal compressed into a block, which I grind down using a grinding stone, and then I mix it into ink. I enjoy the meditative process of grinding the ink and the immediacy of the ink flowing onto

Interview with artist Diane Huff

'Beaded', clay monoprint, 25" x 35" Diane Huff is currently exhibiting work on paper in a two-person show (with Allison Svoboda) at the Chicago Artists' Coalition gallery . The exhibition is part of a year-long series of work by CAC members, curated by Susan Aurinko (photographer and owner of the recently-closed Flatfile Gallery). I was intrigued by how Diane made her subtly-textured yet brightly-colored monoprints, so I began this short interview by asking her to describe how she made the prints. Philip : You make prints using a technique called 'clay monoprint'. Could you described the materials and process? Diane : The process uses liquid clay, colored with powdered pigment such as you would use for oil painting. I also use Akua water-based printing inks. I work on a leather-hard clay slab. I apply a single layer of color or many layers. Each color that I apply becomes embedded in the slab. When I'm satisfied or ready to see what happens (sometim

On the Journal+Sketchbook class 2010 - final projects

Click on any image to see larger version The last class in the Journal+Sketchbook class at Columbia College Chicago took place ten days ago. Each of the 12 students was required to read three pages from their final written piece, and present and talk about a final visual piece. Patty and I have been teaching this class since 2005, and nearly all of the visual pieces were the best ever presented for final projects. I'm starting with this star book (above), by Katy, who had no art-making experience at all before this class. I demonstrated how to make smaller versions of these, but Katy took pieces of paper about 16 inches square, and made this superb star-book that unfolded to about three feet in length. Inside she had collaged all kinds of drawings and images relating to her final story. Next, a student called Jamie did the following: As he explained it, he called up images on the internet relating to water and sky, shone different coloured lights at the screen, then took ph

On looking through old sketchbooks: 7

On the road into Granada, Spain, 1991 “As in the fourteen likes of a sonnet, a few strokes of the pencil can hold immensity.”—Laura Knight.   Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

On The House of the Vettii

Meditation on the House of the Vettii, Pompeii from Philip Hartigan on Vimeo . This week's Meditation is on the remarkable House of the Vettii in Pompeii. I spent a day there in 1998, and I'll never forget how beautiful these 2,000 year-old paintings were.   Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

On Renzo Piano's Modern Wing for the Art Institute

I visited the new wing of the Art Institute of Chicago recently. Renzo Piano’s building for the AIC is everything that Libeskind’s Denver Art Museum is not : light, airy, elegant, despite its size; striking without being overwhelming; and it serves the art extremely well. Every space in Piano’s design seems to be filled with natural light, presumably a combination of all the walls of glass and the innovative tile system of the roof. The materials, both inside and out, are beautiful: smooth wood, stone, glass. I know that architects can’t be expected to be the same, or to produce the same kinds of designs, but the difference in the Chicago and the Denver buildings shows a difference of attitude towards human beings. Libeskind clearly doesn’t care one bit about the effect of his buildings on people (except to be pleased when they are provoked), while Piano clearly thinks about how people will use the spaces that he creates.   Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

On why you should think of taking the Interlochen printmaking class

Because printmaking is one of the most hands-on, direct, and satisfying ways of making art. You can be an absolute beginner, and within a couple of hours you can create a print, and join a tradition that goes back centuries. You can have some previous experience of art or printmaking, or you can have NO prior experience. How is this possible? The techniques that I teach in the class can be learned by everyone and applied to whatever your level. When I taught this class in rural Illinois, more than half of the people were absolute beginners. If you see the prints that they eventually created, I can guarantee that you will produce something similarly satisfying. You can make a print of whatever you want: trees, lakes, people, objects, images from magazines. I will encourage you to try at least one image that you develop from your own imagination, but I don’t impose subject-matter. We will have four days to try some techniques, work on getting some quick prints done, and then wo

On blind contour drawing

Drawn completely blind this time. "By drawing, man has extended his ability to see and comprehend what he sees." -- Frederick Gore.   Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

On a new painting

I started a new painting today. The central form is from a picture of a big iron bridge near the mining town where I grew up. I painted a few layers of gesso over it, then pressed kitchen roll into the wet gesso and pulled it away to leave all kinds of interesting marks and textures. The last thing I did was to rub thin red acrylic paint over the surface, taking care to leave the preceding layers visible. Next time I'm in the studio I will start adding other shapes in transparent layers of paint.   Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

On transporting myself to another time in art history

Le bateau lavoir, c. 1905 Are there events in the lives of artists that you read about and wish you’d been around to see? I’ve read a lot of biographies, and the one that stands out for me is John Richardson’s Life of Picasso, Volume I . It covers Picasso’s life from his birth in 1882 to the middle of 1907, just before he started work on ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.’ Richardson discovered a wealth of new material about Picasso’s early years in Paris, and his descriptions of the bohemian life of Montmartre just teem with vivid detail. I wish I’d had a studio in the Bateau Lavoir round about 1905. This was an old laundry building on a small square in Montmartre, the Place Emile Goudeau. The entry was on the square, and once you were inside, the building descended sharply through several levels because it was built on the side of a hill. The building is no longer there, but if you go to the square you can still see quite clearly what this would have looked like. My studio would have had

On looking through old sketchbooks: 6

1 991: Looking out over the plain from Ronda, Andalucia “Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence.”—Henri Matisse.   Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

On my new website

A new version of my website is now live: Featuring my new work, lots of video, social networking links, studio shots: it's a whole cornucopia of goodness and newness. May it bring you all joy and beauty.   Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

On Renoir's 'Le Moulin de la Galette'

Meditation on 'Le Moulin de la Galette' by Renoir from Philip Hartigan on Vimeo . This week's Meditation is a rant about and a reconsideration of a painting by Renoir.   Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

On 10 huge personal influences on my art

Because it's always time to show a picture of Patty Mrs. Brown: my Miss Jean Brody-ish high school art teacher, who told me it was time to stop drawing comic books and to start ‘expressing yourself through REAL drawing.’ She was right. Barry Lewis : my high school friend, whom I met when we were 11 years old. We both applied for and got into Cambridge University at the same time, so our conversations and arguments about everything and anything started in pre-adolescence, continued through our teenage years, and went on through innumerable alcohol-fuelled all-night discussions at university. Katayoun Dowlatshahi : one of my peers when I studied for my art MA in Barcelona. She was the real thing (and her post-MA career has borne this out): an extremely talented person who provided an example of how to become completely immersed in materials and ideas. Richard Wentworth : celebrated conceptual artist who was one of the visiting tutors on my MA. He turned out to be extremely open-

On Old Sketchbooks: 5

“Drawing is the discipline by which I constantly discover the world.”—Frederick Franck. I've skipped forward from 1986 to a sketchbook from 1991 here. The pages are 11" x 8.5", and it's a hardbound sketchbook that I took around Andalucia, Spain, when I spent a couple of weeks touring around by bus and train. I used this loose-wristed style to register the fact I was moving around a lot. The above sketch was done on a street in Jerez de la Frontera.   Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

On Shake Rag Alley, Wisconsin: Interview with Judith Sutcliffe (2)

Hammered jewelry made by a student in Judy's class In part 1 of this interview with Judith Sutcliffe , we talked about how she got involved with Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. The interview continues below with a discussion of Judith's own artistic biography. Philip: We’ve spoken a lot about Mineral Point. Now I’d like to find out about your own artistic history. Judith: Before I absconded to Santa Barbara in 1978, I had a pottery in my small Iowa home town, Audubon, and I experimented with a lot of things. I'm kinda entrepreneurial. Someone gave me a necklace made of beads and hammered copper wire, and I just started doing wire jewelry on the side. I also sculpted dolls, culminating in doing all the Iowa First Lady Dolls still in their big glass case in the Des Moines capitol building. But once I was in California , I concentrated on tile murals for homes, business, and signage. It was a full time business for 17 years. On the side I designed computer f

On Shake Rag Alley, Wisconsin: Interview with artist Judith Sutcliffe

Entrance to Shake Rag Alley Judith Sutcliffe is an artist and writer, and a co-founder of the Shake Rag Alley Center for Arts and Crafts in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. I recently had the opportunity to visit Shake Rag Alley, and see how Judith and her partner Sandra  have transformed it into a thriving arts center. The interview is divided into two parts. In part 1, below, we discuss the history of Shake Rag Alley and the artistic community in Mineral Point. In part 2, published tomorrow, we will talk about Judith's own art, past and present. Philip: Could you tell us a little about the history of Shake Rag Alley? Judith: It's in Mineral Point , an artists’ community in southwest Wisconsin known for its 1840s limestone buildings made by Cornish lead miners. Early miners clustered their cabins around Federal Spring in a small valley known as Shake Rag Under the Hill or Shake Rag Alley. Some of the cabins are still there, and the spring is still flowing, winter and summer.

On more contour drawings

These contour drawings are addictive. This one was done with more glancing at the page, but the emphasis was still on the contours of things. “What do drawings mean to me? I really don't know. The activity absorbs me. I forget everything else in a way that I don't think happens with any other activity.”—John Berger.   Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

On Michelangelo's 'The Dying Slave'

This week's Meditation is in the form of a personal memory of seeing a statue by Michelangelo for the first time when I was fourteen.   Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

On the Interlochen printmaking class: Chine-collé

Following on from previous posts about the techniques I propose to teach at the Introduction to Printmaking class at Interlochen in June, here's an especially delicious process. Called c hine-collé, it involves placing a piece of thin coloured paper, coated on one side with wheat paste, on the inked up linoleum block. The two are then printed onto a thicker piece of paper, with the result seen in the print above, where the student used a strip of ochre-coloured Japanese paper to represent the sky. From the same class, another student did the following print: Here, the yellow circle and the two red circles are the  c hine-collé. As you can see, it's a beautiful and simple way of combining colour and a different texture with a black and white linocut. And of course, you could ink the linocut with coloured inks, too.   If you want to learn how to do this in the beautiful setting of the Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan, sign up for the class now . See also: On