Neural Networks Create a Disturbing Record of Natural History in AI-Generated Illustrations by Sofia Crespo

All images © Sofia Crespo, shared with permission

Sofia Crespo describes her work as the “natural history book that never was.” The Berlin-based artist uses artificial neural networks to generate illustrations that at first glance, resemble Louis Renard’s 18th Century renderings or the exotic specimens of Albertus Seba’s compendium. Upon closer inspection, though, the colorful renderings reveal unsettling combinations: two fish are conjoined with a shared fin, flower petals appear feather-like, and a study of butterflies features insects with missing wings and bizarrely formed bodies.

Titled Artificial Natural History, the ongoing project merges the desire to categorize organisms with “the very renaissance project of humanism,” Crespo says, forming a distorted series of creatures with imagined features that require a new set of biological classifications. “The specimens of the artificial natural history both celebrate and play with the seemingly endless diversity of the natural world, one that we still … Read the rest

All images © Sofia Crespo, shared with permission

Sofia Crespo describes her work as the “natural history book that never was.” The Berlin-based artist uses artificial neural networks to generate illustrations that at first glance, resemble Louis Renard’s 18th Century renderings or the exotic specimens of Albertus Seba’s compendium. Upon closer inspection, though, the colorful renderings reveal unsettling combinations: two fish are conjoined with a shared fin, flower petals appear feather-like, and a study of butterflies features insects with missing wings and bizarrely formed bodies.

Titled Artificial Natural History, the ongoing project merges the desire to categorize organisms with “the very renaissance project of humanism,” Crespo says, forming a distorted series of creatures with imagined features that require a new set of biological classifications. “The specimens of the artificial natural history both celebrate and play with the seemingly endless diversity of the natural world, one that we still … Read the rest

Tim Griffin Steps Down as Director of Celebrated New York Art Space with Experimental Tendencies

Tim Griffin, director and chief curator of the Kitchen, a nonprofit experimental art space in New York, will step down from his position at the end of the year. Griffin joined the Kitchen in 2011, after a tenure as the editor-in-chief and later editor-at-large of Artforum.

“I can’t imagine a more inspiring or humbling experience among artists than what The Kitchen, and its dedicated staff and board, has offered me over the years,” Griffin said in a statement. “Few places have such a history, decade after decade, of presenting the unexpected. Even fewer have people so deeply committed every day to supporting artists’ innovative work, and who, time and again, manage to pull it off whatever the challenges.”

While at the helm, Griffin oversaw significant projects by artists including Chantal Akerman, Charles Atlas, and Gretchen Bender, in addition to thematic exhibitions such as “From Minimalism into Algorithm” … Read the rest

Eight Great Books for Getting Through a Creative Block

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In some inevitable moments, every artist, writer, or creator of any form will find themselves staring at an empty canvas, page, or desktop, hitting a complete creative block. You either lack inspiration for what to do next or feel that being an artist, period, is impossible—society doesn’t value it enough! How can you go on? In such moments, stepping away from the ennui of the studio and reading a book can be the best way to escape your own head. These books present a tiny canon for getting out of a rut, particularly for visual art but also applicable to any field.

1. Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Lawrence Weschler

Artist biographies are usually published long after the artist has passed away, looking … Read the rest

Chrome Faces Protrude from Drippy, Graffiti Backdrops in Hyperrealistic Paintings by Artist Kip Omolade

“Luxury Graffiti Kace I,” oil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches. All images © Kip Omolade, shared with permission

Set on a graffitied backdrop, the chrome masks Kip Omolade (previously) paints appear to emerge from the canvas, jutting out from the vibrant display to confront the viewer. The Harlem-born artist layers dripping colors and typographic markings that contrast the smooth, gleaming faces protruding from the center for his new series Masks: Portraits of Times Square and Luxury Graffiti, which he completed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, he explains the history of the collection:

In New York City during the ’80s, my tag was ‘Kace’ and I would ‘get up’ on MTA subway car interiors, public walls in Brooklyn, and graffiti black books. Throughout the ’90s, I never stopped tagging. Even when I was painting from life, I was

Read the rest

ARTnews in Brief: Ulrike Müller Wins $35,000 German Art Prize—and More from September 28, 2020

Monday, September 28

Ulrike Müller Awarded 2020 Prize of the Böettcherstraße in Bremen
Ulrike Müller is the recipient of the 2020 Prize of the Böettcherstraße in Bremen, Germany, which carries a cash prize of €30,000 ($35,000). The award honors one German visual artist each year. Müller, who is based in New York and is known for her abstractions, was selected from 10 nominated artists by a jury comprised of Yilmaz Dziewior, director of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne; Stephanie Rosenthal, director of the Gropius Bau in Berlin; artist and scholar Christoph Ruckhaeberle; and Susanne Titz, director of the Museum Abteiberg, Moenchengladbach. In a statement the jury said, “Her work is one of the most rigorous in the current field of feminist and queer artistic discourse.” Works by Müller and the other nominees will remain on view at the institution until November 1.

David Zwirner Hires Ebony L. Haynes as Read the rest

Vincent Namatjira Becomes First Indigenous Winner of Major Australian Art Prize

Vincent Namatjira has become the first Indigenous artist to win Australia’s Archibald Prize for portraiture, which comes with $100,000. The artist received the award for his painting Stand Strong for Who You Are, which features a depiction of the retired Australian footballer Adam Goodes.

Namatjira met Goodes in 2018 and was inspired to paint the athlete after viewing the 2019 documentary The Final Quarter, which traces Goodes’s career and anti-racism activism. Namatjira’s figurative paintings often take on political and social issues, and they have been exhibited at the Sydney Contemporary, Artspace Sydney, Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Basel Hong Kong, and other venues.

According to a report by the Guardian, Namatjira’s was selected as the winner by the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 1,068 entries for the prize.

“When I saw the 2019 documentary (The Final Quarter) about Adam’s final season of AFL … Read the rest

From the Archives: Matters of Fact

The Bay Area–based Photo-Realist painter Robert Bechtle died this week at age eighty-eight. In this essay from our October 2005 issue, Richard Kalina discusses Bechtle’s retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the ways in which the artist’s paintings of the suburban landscape grapple with representation. —Eds.

Robert Bechtle hit upon a photo-based approach to realism in the mid-1960s, clarified his painting methods by the end of that decade and, while deepening the work over the years, has stayed firmly within the Photo-Realist fold ever since. Bechtle remains close to his geographic roots as well. He was born in California’s San Francisco Bay Area in 1932 and has lived, studied, and worked there his entire life. The great majority of his subjects—cars, house fronts, backyards, streetscapes, people sitting or standing around or going about ordinary domestic business (lighting a barbeque, watering the lawn)—have been drawn from … Read the rest

Elaborate Fashions and Hairstyles Explore Beauty and Power in Photographer Luke Nugent’s Lavish Portraits

From Albinism & Skulls Series, Part 1. Photography by Luke Nugent, concept, art direction, and makeup by Vanessa Davis, modeling by Leo Jonah, makeup artist assistance by Gabi Havens. All images © Luke Nugent, shared with permission

London-based photographer Luke Nugent (previously) captures a wide swath of beauty and expression through his powerful images centered on Black models. Often in commanding poses, the subjects sport evocative fashions and elaborately designed makeup. One model is covered in Kintsugi-style cracks and encrusted with glimmering gems, while others wear futuristic garments and lavishly styled hair. The deeply considered photographs are created collaboratively with makeup and hair artists, stylists, and creative directors.

Find more of Nugent’s photography on Instagram and Behance—where you can also see his recent EQUILIBRIUM series that was produced in collaboration with Melissa Simon-Hartmon—and pick up a print in his shop.

 … Read the rest

On Amazon Prime Day, We’ll Be Here to Help You Find the Best Deals on Artists’ Tools and Studio Supplies

Every year, Amazon’s Prime Day offers thousands of deals on the site’s products, from electronics to books and art supplies. The shopping day usually happens in July, but this year it has been pushed back due to the pandemic; the 48-hour event is likely to be scheduled in mid-October. Some reports set the date at October 13 and 14, with an official announcement coming on September 27.

Prime Day has deals across all of Amazon’s categories. We can’t be sure exactly what sales will happen, but there are always plenty of discounts for electronics, particularly Amazon’s own products, including Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, and Alexa smart speakers. To get access to the deals, however, you have to be an Amazon Prime subscriber.

Amazon Prime costs $12.99 a month or $119 a year. Its benefits include faster shipping on Amazon orders, discounts at Whole Foods, and access to Amazon’s streaming entertainment. … Read the rest

Shelters of People Experiencing Houselessness Are Photographed within Affluent Residences to Demonstrate Inequality

All images © Jana Sophia Nolle, shared with permission

Whether opulent or minimalist in style, the houses that Jana Sophia Nolle photographs are displays of wealth. Plush rugs cover hardwood, hardback editions line built-in bookshelves, and tall windows reach from floor to ceiling. Even the stark rooms with few sculptures and seats signify a choice, rather than a necessity, and demonstrate the ability to furnish a room with just significant objects.

Within these residences, though, Nolle reconstructs a contrasting shelter to illuminate a growing disparity. In her series titled Living Rooms, which culminated in a book published by Kerber Verlag, the artist situates the shelters of those experiencing houselessness within the dwellings of affluent folks in San Francisco. (Houseless refers to lacking a specific kind of structure, while homeless does not.) The single-occupancy structures often are formed with rain-resistant tarps, cardboard boxes, shopping carts, and other small objects.

 … Read the rest