Yes, Yes I Know. There was an Italian guy who painted an almost identical picture of this sexy lady back in 1503 during the Italian renaissance. I myself showed an aptitude for art at a very tender age and painted mine in kindergarten class in the fall of 1967. The reproduction you see here is my version. You can order prints from me directly for $16.99 plus tax. Cheap. The other fake version by the guy in 1503 is in a museum in Paris, France and last time I checked it was not for sale . In 1910 some guy stole it but he returned it a couple of years later after he found out he couldn't sell it at the pawn shop. The Italian guy managed to copy mine by building a time machine and quantum leaping into the 20th century. He was good. I talked to my lawyer and he said there was nothing much I could do because I had no way of time warping back to 1503 and even if I could he was not familiar with the Italian justice system back then.. People have thrown rocks, tea and even acid at the copy in the museum in Paris, France over the years because they were envious of my developed art skills at such an early period in my art career. It's lonely at the top.
As you can see from this picture the Italin guy was not the only one to steal my work. My lawyer is currently launching a $500,000 lawsuit against Volkswagen for copying my painting on to their Beetles and selling them without my permission or giving me any royalties.
Robert Bateman`s sublime artistic perspectives on nature really need no introduction by me on these pages. He has created some of the most immediately recognizable images, etchings and drawings of the natural world that reside in museums, galleries and private collections throughout the planet. His contemplative approach to his work evokes a quiet beauty, with his subjects interacting in tune with their environments. Although I grew up in the countryside, for the time being I am a mere ant confined to the city, treading water in a sea of urban decay that oozes with apathy and decadence. In order to seek solace from these daily barrages I often turn to Bateman`s spectral art and planet first philosophies coveyed through his ethereal canvasses. One of Bateman`s favourite quotes from E.F. Shurmacher summs up our plight eloquently stating that
" The real problems facing our planet are not economic and they`re not technical, they`re philisophical".
Bateman believes that there is such a disassociation between ourselves and nature, that we`ve lost our appreciation for other species. He points out in his book "Small Is Beautiful " that the average North American can name only 10 species of animals or plants, yet can recognize over 1000 corporate logos! He admits
" what`s a body to do? But what I resent most is the famous Ostrich head in the sand saying, I`ve had it up to here, I can`t think about it, it just makes me depressed, and so, I`ll just amuse myself or the planet to death".
At one point he refers to the bald eagle, the symbol of the United States and compares it to the symbol of Canada, the wonderful pesky beaver. He muses,
" eagles while handsome and beautiful with powerful shapes and wonderful wings are not admirable. They rob other birds and are not good at catching fish. They`re fairly timid except when trying to pick on something. They eat a lot of carion and dead stuff. The Canadian symbol is a boring blob, but beavers are industrious, hard working and are great engineers".
I`ll leave you with a captivating passage from Small Is Beautiful, which was released on the occasion of his 70th birthday which extrapolates the power of nature and expresses his concerns about the fate of our planet. In this passage he describes his first encounter with a wolf.
" Starting as a low moan and moving up the scale to a full-throated contralto, a wolf`s how penetrated the darkness. Time stopped. I floated in a pool of blackness alone with the moon and soul filling sound. My first wolf. The hair stands up on the back of my neck even now as I relive the moment".
"The dreadful man who paints all the horrible pictures". - Margaret Thatcher on Francis Bacon
First off, before I proceed with this section, and I still can`t believe it myself, the painting that you see before your very eyes entitled " Portrait Of George Dyer Staring Into A Mirror " painted by Francis Bacon in 1967 fetched, get this, £ 4.936 million at Christie`s post war & Contemporary Art Sale in March 2005, the world`s record for a single painting sold to an anonymous buyer somewhere in Europe.
Arguably the greatest painter of the 20th century, Francis Bacon was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1909 into a rather distinquished family and brought up in Kildare, Ireland. He showed signs of being the one out or black sheep at a young age and suffered from athsma spending much of his time in bed. He was considered to be the weakling of six siblings but ironically, he was the only male sibling to live past the age of 30 and doctors would later say that he possessed a high threshhold of pain and that his liver had an uncanny ability to absorb alcohol. When visiting Art-Deco Paris and Decadent Berlin in the 1920`s he saw his first Picasso and through this inspiration decided that he was destined to become an artist. His art was very distinctive and immediately recognizable. It featured colourful yet distorted, smeared images of dismembered human figures which shocked and disturbed many, but which conveyed the horror of the modern age. Kicked out of the house by his father at the age of 17 when he was caught trying on his mother`s undergarments, Bacon worked at a number of dead end jobs. It was around this time that he declared that he had discovered the meaning of life through a piece of dog shit he had seen on the pavement. Outside of his art he lived a flamboyant life. He had love affairs with 6 different men in as many decades from a Battle Of Britain fighter ace to a married politician. He was known as a champagne guzzler and as an air raid warden during the blitz he held illegal gambling parties and later hung out with gangsters and members of London`s shady underworld while working as a furniture designer.
As an artist he came to prominence in the 1950s and made forays into such exotic places as Tangiers, Monte Carlo, South Africa as well as Paris and New York City. It wasn`t uncommon for him to be dssatisfied with a work and then defacing it or destroying it in various ways. He maintained throughout his career that his work said or meant nothing and said to a friend who was planning a book about his life ( which never reached fruition until 1996, four years after his death ) "... you must be as indescreet as you want, after all that`s what people are most interested in, the more indescreet you are, the better the book will be " Vehemently refusing to accept any national award bestowed upon him, including The Order Of Merit and Companion Of Honour, Bacon continued to paint until his death. A lifelong athiest, his worst nightmare was to be attended by nuns on his deathbed. He died as a result of a heart attack in Madrid, Spain in 1992 and his funeral was attended by nuns. He left his entire fortune of £11 million to a former lover and his paintings continue to fetch exorbadent prices at auction. When asked by an interviewer if he thought he would ever retire Bacon replied, " Retire ? I`ll just drop dead". Check out the link to learn more about this madman.
Well enough of that nonsense and back down to Earth for a while. Of all places, I discovered the wondrous spiritual artwork of Canadian artiste Heléne Girard in an aviation book etitled Wings Of Change published by the Smithsonian Instutitute. Not that suprising because upon doing a bit of fishing around on the net I found out that flaotplanes, skiplanes, transports and helicopters that provide a vital lifeline to remote areas of the Canadian north are one of her specialities.
The above painting entitled "Change Of Crew", although set on an Antarctic landscape, reflects her passionate affection for frigid land and skyscapes. She says that sometimes people who have never experienced the tranquility of these remote locales find a certain perplexity in her art and it's seemingly otherworldly qualities. She has to remind them that this is the way it is in these regions that are largely undisturbed by man's interference. This particular painting is the one that I found in the book Wings Of Change and the first thing that struck me was the metaphoric qualities that it acquires by the obvious absence of humans. A group of penguins have discovered this flying machine that has recently encroached their territory on a scientific expedition and are examining it with inquisitive eyes perhaps when the humans were asleep in their camp . It sort of begs for a Far Side caption. There is also some irony to be found in the painting when one considers that penguins are flightless birds. Earthbound by circumstance.The bird on the extreme right of the painting even seems to be aknowleging this by flapping his vestigial wings or flippers. The penguins also must have observed the machine land otherwise it wouldn't have attracted so much curiosity which is suggested by one of them ina prone position who seems to be emulating the plane's forward movement . To add a humourous observation they seemed to have divided themselves up into factions or discussion groups and seem to be analyzing the implications this peculiar arrival.
I was personally fascinated by the painting's quaint beauty and forlorn allure. Fortunately I have been able to explore other works by this extrodinary artiste who had eluded me up until recently. Originally from the Gaspé Peninsula in Québec, Heléne Girard spent over 17 years living in Fort Smith and Yellowknife in the Canadian Northwest Territories and became inspired by the people and ways of the north. Although she studied as a musician, painting became the medium through which she chose express her love of a land and it's colourful beauty. Self taught using library books and photographs her paintings hold an even more poignant signfigance in this age of global uncertainty. Fearful that the splendour of the north will gradually decline in the wake of climate change the planet is experiencing her mission is to document the vibrance that is still present through her paintings which draw from her personal experiences. Her work is well known in the northern reaches of Canada and she won the People Choice's Award at the Gtreat Northern Arts Festival At Inivik, NWT in July 1997 and has since displayed her works at exhibitions across North America. I've provided a link for further explorations of her magnificent visions of the north that would otherwise be inaccessable for those of us who stick to more temperate climes.
Altough considered more of an illustrator than an artist John Berkey started off illustrating calendars for the Brown & Bigelow Company in the 1960s and has since created artwork for countless magazines, corporate advertisements, movie posters and book covers. However "out there " his conceptual work might be it always manages to be convincing. Eventually he became known for his futuristc drawings of spcecraft that look like they came out of the minds of NASA designers 100 years into the future. This is my favourite entitled "The Visitors" that envisages what a fleet of invading alien spacecraft might look like as they descend over the Kansas countryside. Where else?
Two Books to check out :
Perhaps the best way to discover Berkey's work is to visit Jim Pinkoski's website the link for which I've provided below. The Berkey gallery is the last item on the main menu.Go nuts.
Still Falls The rain
Still falls the rain,the veils of darkness shroud the darkened trees,
Which uncontorted by unseen violence, shed their tired leaves,
and bend their boughs toward a grey earth of severed bird wings.
Among the grasses, poppies bleed before a gesticulating death,
and young rabbits born dead in traps, stand motionless,
as though guarding the silence that surrounds
and threatens to engulf all of those who would listen
young birds tired of repeating yesterday's terrors,
huddle together in the recesses of dark corners,
headsturned from the dead black swan
that floats upturned in a small pool in the hollow.
There emerges from this pool a faint,
sensual mist that traces it's way up to caress
the headless martyr's statue, who's only achievement
was to die too soon, and who couldn't wait to lose.
Thecataract of darkness forms fully, The long black night begins.
Yet by the lake a young girl waits
Unseen she believes herself unseen,
she smiles faintly at the distant tolling bell,
and the still falling rain.
Nobody seems to know who wrote this macabre poem that appeared in the gatefold inner sleeve of the first Black Sabbath LP released on Friday the thirteenth of October 1969. The representation of the outer sleeve above is that of a CD re-issue from the 1990s.
An artistic phenomenom whose freaky paintings created a cult following many of which were used for album covers, horror and fantasy novels and magazines as well as other books including Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan and Barsoom paperbacks. Countless science fiction and fantasy artists have been influenced by his work that included themes of sex, violence , melodramatic action and exaggerated anatomy. His subjects were often depicted in exotic and impossible settings and situations which made them even more alluring. Very few of his paintings made it onto the common market and a family feud over the possession of his work erupted in 2009 when his elder son tried to steal a $20,000,000 portion of it in order to prevent it from being sold. The issue was resolved in 2010 and Frazetta's work currently resides in a museum for all to see.
I picked two examples of Franzetta's work that were selected as album covers. The first, titled " The Brain " was used on Scottish rock band Nazareth's 1977 album Expect No Mercy ( above ). The one below is from early seventies hard rock band Dust's second album, Hard Attack and was titled " Snow Giants " by Franzetta and painted in '72. I've also included a couple of cool links.
One of my favourite satirists since I was a kid. Everyone and anything is fair game !
Untitled - By an elephant in the Lampang Elephant conservation Center, Thailand
Fortress Under Fire - Keith Ferris
This one would also be a bit difficult and would require some intricate high tech planning since it is 20 ft high and 75 ft wide and occupies a wall in the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC
Avro Arrow - Robert Vanderhorst
This sureal painting of the politically doomed Canadian Avro Arrow depicts the fighter at the completion of an outside loop. Whether or not the aircraft could have accoplished such a feat is unlikely but it was 25 years ahead of it's time back in 1958 when it flew for the first time. The original oil painting currently hangs in the National Aviation Museum in Ottawa.
" Vinyl has become the director's cut of a film and an MP3 is what leads you to it."