Re-Released WPA Documentary Makes Impassioned Plea for Government Funding for the Arts

Until 2020, the Works Progress Administration, a Great Depression–era government program that gave billions of dollars to artists during the 1930s, was largely the stuff of high-school U.S. history courses. But it didn’t take long for it to become the source of fascination within the art world once the pandemic struck the U.S. and Europe. In late March of last year, a mere two weeks after lockdown began in most places, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist called for a government relief program of the WPA’s scale. (So far, none has sprung up.) One month later, art historian Jody Patterson wrote in an ARTnews essay that the WPA’s “aim of radical inclusivity and accessibility—in which art benefits more people, rather than fewer—should not be the distant vision of a past generation.” Government funding for the arts—rarely, if ever, a sexy topic—hadn’t seemed this interesting in ages.

With all this renewed attention being … Read the rest

The Best Gouache Paints for Quick-Drying Work

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Gouache, an opaque water-soluble paint with gum arabic or acrylic as its binder, is one of the best-kept secrets in painting. Want flat, opaque areas of color? You’ll need only one coat with gouache. Want strong tones? Gouache has a high pigment load, ensuring saturated color. Gouache is perfect for illustration and design work because it dries quite quickly and great for digital scanning because it is nonreflective. It’s excellent for plein air painting too, since it’s both portable and easy to clean up. Traditional gouache paints may be reactivated with water after they dry, but note that those made with acrylic binders cannot. All gouache paints work best on premium watercolor papers; because they are opaque, they work well on colored papers. Browse our roundup of the best Read the rest

The Best Sandpaper Pointers for Sharpening Drawing Tools

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A sandpaper pointer, usually a block of small sandpaper sheets mounted to a wooden handle, is a handy accessory for artists who use charcoal, pencils, and pastels. Pointers can be used to sharpen each of these drawing implements, offering the highest level of control to achieve a perfect point. They are indispensable for pencils with delicate leads that need a soft touch, and for creating an irregular point, such as for shading. They are also are useful for cleaning drawing tools like erasers, blending stumps, and tortillons, as well as de-burring cutting mats. We have rounded up some trusty, sturdy options below.

Creative Mark Sandpaper Block
The classic paddle shape of this block and its wooden handle make it easy to hold. Simply drag your pencil, charcoal,
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The Best Pouring Paints and Sets for Experimenting with a Freewheeling Technique

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Create kaleidoscopic compositions with acrylic pouring paint. In recent years pouring paint has become quite popular, but the technique has actually been around since the 1930s, when Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros happened to discover the elaborate effects of pouring different shades of paint onto a wooden panel to produce what he termed “accidental painting.” Fluid dynamics are at work in the pouring of paint: When a pigment of greater density is poured atop a less-dense one, the two interact to mix and swirl—the more dense pigment tends to sink and the less dense one tends to rise. (The opposite pour, a less-dense paint over one of greater density, will not work.) Channel your inner Pollock and play around with pouring pigment over canvas. Investigate the possibilities by browsing Read the rest

The Best Barens for Block Printing

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Traditionally used in Japanese woodblock printing, a baren is a circular tool with a flat face used for rubbing paper to effectively transfer ink. Like many artists, you might have found that a wooden spoon can serve a similar purpose, but there’s no true substitute for a baren. The tool eases the burnishing process, allowing you to achieve more uniform and steady circular motions while covering more space in less time. Barens can also be used for linoleum printing, gel printing, and more, and they cause far less slippage than a brayer. Explore our favorite ones below, and say goodbye to the spoon. 

Speedball Block Printing Baren
Speedball’s baren has a thick, easy-grip wooden handle and a bottom that smoothly glides over paper while delivering proper, evenly Read the rest

2,300-Year-Old Apse Discovered in Istanbul’s ‘City of the Blind’

During an excavation in Istanbul’s historic Haydarpaşa train station, archaeologists discovered a semicircular apse—a structure commonly associated with ancient churches—dating to the 3rd century B.C.E. It is the latest find at the site of the ancient port city of Chalcedon by a team led by archaeologist Mehmet Ali Polat. According to the Turkish publication Hurriyet Daily News, which first reported the news, it may be the oldest building excavated at the site so far.

While archaeologists are still unsure of the newly discovered apse’s specific function, they believe the area would have been sacred. In ancient architecture, an apse was often located at the end of an aisle, where a recessed niche could hold the statue of a deity. The building where the apse was discovered could have functioned as a shrine or possibly even a mausoleum.

Chalcedon, also known as Khalkedon, was founded by Megarian Greek colonists on … Read the rest

$33 M. Basquiat Leads Sotheby’s Jay Chou Curated Sale in Hong Kong

Sotheby’s will debut its celebrity-driven ‘Contemporary Curated’ series in Hong Kong on June 18th with Taiwanese singer Jay Chou acting as the influencer. The heart-throb won’t be the only star celebrated in the series. A work by Jean-Michel Basquiat that famously appeared in the background of the New York Times Magazine cover story from 1985 that anointed him as the artist of the “Downtown” generation will lead the evening sale in Hong Kong with a HKD 255 million ($32.8 million) low estimate.

The sale will also mark the last official act of Sotheby’s star specialist, Yuki Terase, who can legitimately claim a significant role in development of the Asia as a driving force in the Contemporary art market. Closing her career at Sotheby’s with Jay Chou, who appeared on ARTnews’s list of 50 collectors under 50 to watch, is a fitting bookend for the woman who brought Western artists … Read the rest

Submerged for Seventy Years, Lost Italian Village of Curon Emerges from Drained Lake

For over seventy years, a lone church tower rising from the middle of a lake seemed to be all that was left of the Italian village of Curon. This strange sight became popular among tourists seeking to create unusual Instagram posts, and even spawned the 2018 novel Resto Qui (I’m Staying Here) by Marco Balzano as well as the Netflix thriller Curon (2020).

The iconic 14th-century steeple was the only visible remnant of a village that once housed roughly 900 people. Curon had been part of Austria until 1919, so the residents, many of them unable to speak Italian, were ill-equipped to fight the plan to unite lakes Resia and Curon—two of three natural basins in the Resia Pass area of the southern Alps—thereby submerging their homes for the sake of producing hydroelectric energy. The construction of the dam was postponed by five years due to World War II; yet … Read the rest

Here Are the Best Pushpins for Your Studio and Workspace

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With a plastic or aluminum head and a sharp metal point, pushpins are essential to any studio, classroom, or office. The humble pushpin, precursor of the thumbtack, was invented and patented in 1900 by Edwin Moore of Newark, New Jersey. Moore’s original pins were made of glass and steel, and he referred to his creation as a “pin with a handle.” After making and selling his invention for several years, Moore founded the Moore Push-Pin company in 1904. Today’s pushpins are useful for affixing studies, bits of inspiration, or memos to a corkboard or wall. But they can be great assistants for specialized projects, too. You can use them to stretch canvases, elevate canvases for drip paintings, or use them as mini grips to hold while tilting a wet Read the rest

The Best Markers for Young Artists Will Open Up Worlds of Creativity

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Water-based markers have bright colors and a smooth application. They are able both to fill in large spaces quickly and to draw fine lines. They also come with a unique problem: Unlike crayons or colored pencils, they can dry out overnight if a cap is left off. When choosing the right markers for your child, it often comes down to balancing quality with affordability. Ahead, we review some top-notch selections that would be excellent additions to any budding artist’s tool box.

Crayola Ultra Clean Washable Markers
Made by what is arguably the most famous manufacturer of children’s art supplies, these washable markers are ideal for parents and teachers. They are safe for kids ages three and up, and the nontoxic inks wash from a range of surfaces … Read the rest