Category: Art News

What Artworks to Hang in Home

Wall hangings often become the focal point of any room. Frequently, the colors that appear within a painting, print, poster, tapestry, etc., become the palette for your decor. Also, the subject matter, within a piece, can form the theme of your room’s design. So, is it any wonder why the decision of what to hang, becomes so important?

The elements of design come into play when choosing a piece. For example, a large, weighted oil painting, hung over a small delicate table would smother that item. As well as, a small, delicate wall hanging, placed on a large wall, over an overstuffed sofa, would practically disappear. So, when choosing what to hang, remember to consider size, form, and scale.

Line is another element to contemplate. If all the architectural components, in your room, have a vertical feel and you want to enhance this, than you should select a piece that has the same high reaching, vertical lines. The orientation of that piece, including its frame, should be vertical, too. However, if your room incorporates horizontal lines, you might want to keep with a work that expresses those same soothing, horizontal lines. Often, within a work of Art, there will be a repetition of line. For example, one might see the use of the symbol “x” throughout a piece. Using this one design aspect, you can re-erect it in other pieces. You might find it in a pillow’s interlace, the weave of a basket, or the texture of an area rug. Look for these small details and recreate them in your room. This will keep your space cohesive.

Motif should also be considered. For instance, if you are creating a space with an Asian feel, you probably wouldn’t want to introduce a painting of a bull fighter. In turn, if you’re creating a mountain lodge, you wouldn’t want to hang a picture of a tropical setting. Common sense comes into play here.

Of course, we can never rule out the impact of color. Color creates the mood and forms the palette. Often the entire design’s color scheme is determined by one particular work of Art. There are extensive studies on “the psychology of color” and we couldn’t begin to cover it here. But, a simple rule: warm hues (reds, oranges, yellows) make one want to get up and move. And cool hues (blues, greens, purples) promote tranquility and rest. That’s why you often see warm hues used in restaurants; the restaurateur wants a quick turn over in customers. And, the use of cool tones in hospitals; the staff wants the patient to remain calm. So, understand what type of atmosphere you’re hoping to produce and use color to help create it. Visit: for great ideas and a virtual palette building experience.

Don’t we all wish that we had the budget to purchase an original Dali, Picasso, or Degas? Well, even if we haven’t been blessed with these means, we still can enjoy reproduction paintings. For some great affordable ideas, and a variety of all types of Artwork.

The choice of Art is such a personal one. And there are those Art aficionados who will insist that you never choose your Art to match your decor. However, if you look as your space as a complete work of Art, and the wall hangings as just one defining element, then you can select pieces knowing that they will only add to the whole. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Let your Art reflect you and surround yourself with pieces that make you feel comfortable – – Art that will welcome you home!

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Trend in Chinese Oil Paintings to Blend Material from Separate Traditions

Yet another way of being a chinese artist in this century is to merge one’s own ethnic art tradition with styles and symbols learned through the study of canvas paintings. Many oil painting artists have earned fine arts degrees in painting, sculpture, and photography in universities. Their work is a dialogue between Native American art history and European art history. T. C. Cannon (1946-78), whose ancestry included Caddo, Choctaw, Kiowa, and European, lived in Oklahoma and studied both at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and at the San Francisco Art Institute. His self-portraits depict him variously as an artist, a cowboy, an Indian dressed in “traditional” dress, and an art collector. His painting, Collector #5 (1975), while not an exact self-portrait, stands for Cannon as a contemporary artist who draws strength and identity both from his Indian heritage and his love and knowledge of European art history. This painting turns upside-down the customary position of Indian artist and non-Indian patron. Here it is the Indian man, sitting in a wicker chair atop a Navajo rug, dressed in late nineteenth-century tribal finery, who is the collector and connoisseur of paintings by Van Gogh on the wall. Cannon’s work displays a motif common in much custom oil painting—an impulse toward social critique, often done with humor and a sense of irony. Many artists play with this idea of cultural mixtures. This may reflect their own ethnically mixed ancestry or simply the mixture of cultures they feel as Native artists making their way through a culture dominated by European-American history and art.

Nora Naranjo-Morse, from Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico, merges her family tradition of pottery-making with her own ironic sense of humor and love of reproduction oil paintings. In Pearlene Teaching Her Cousins Poker (1987), Naranjo-Morse takes the Pueblo image of ritual clowns (characterized by their striped bodies), makes them female instead of male, and depicts them playing a game of poker, which they are learning from a book. By making this work of art in clay, Naranjo-Morse identifies with her sisters, mother, and earlier female ancestors, all makers of fine Santa Clara pots. Yet her own wit and sense of play links her with the larger community of contemporary Native American artists working today, whose work speaks across ethnic boundaries to a shared cultural condition.

Jolene Rickard, a Tuscarora (Iroquois) artist from New York State, uses the contemporary mediums of photography, color xerox, and collage, to express her views on famous oil paintings. In Self Portrait—Three Sisters (1988), her use of photography links her to experimentation in this artistic medium throughout the world. The subject matter—two ears of corn and her own image—relates to the deeply held belief of Iroquoian people (and some other Native Americans as well) that human beings are related to “the corn people.” In Iroquois tradition, women in particular are identified with this precious food substance because of a mythical ancestress who caused corn to be planted on the earth and taught women how to farm. The title of chinese oil painting also evokes the “three sisters” of Iroquois belief—the corn, beans, and squash that are the staples of all life to many Indian nations.

The last twenty-five years have witnessed a tremendous explosion of creativity among Native artists throughout North America—from the Canadian Inuit (Eskimo) printmakers of Cape Dorset and Art in Bulk who sell beautiful paintings worldwide, to the mask and totem pole carvers among the Haida and Kwakiutl who make works for local Native use as well as for an international oil painting reproductions market, to the painters, photographers and sculptors discussed here. Native American artists, using diverse materials and with many strong and different statements to make oil paintings, Native identity and personal artistry, will continue unabated into the next century as well.

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Imagine the 80s

Imagine the 80s: those were the days of high theory and cold hearts, graduate students drunk on fantasies of intellectual stardom, ardent talk of master narratives and intertextuality. I returned to Toronto after a hard year in North Africa and was lost in high theory, trying to understand the difference between consent and coercion and make sense of colonial histories. The city seemed metallic, filled with certainties, both theoretical and cultural.

During this time, a friend drove me to London, Ontario, to see Jamelie Hassan’s show, which is where I first encountered Slave Letter (1984). In this installation, Hassan reproduced in watercolour an image from a perfume called Bint el Sudan (“Daughter of Sudan”), which pictured a young African woman surrounded by flowers. Below it was a slave letter: a small cloth containing objects, such as charcoal, stones and spices, that enslaved women sent home to their families. Each object had a meaning for the people left behind, and seen together told the story of the women’s fate to their families and communities. How many hands did the little bags pass through before they reached their destination; did they reach their destination ? There are many intricate and sinuous layers to this piece: the violence of the slave trade, the lushness of the flowers and the image of the captured girl that ultimately became an advertisement for perfume. We are left with the possibility for communication even in the direst of circumstances.

For me, something cracked open. Contemplating Hassan’s work, I saw that, in a world where writing has often been a tool of the powerful, there are many other ways of communicating: a bag of small objects can become a letter home, just like a song, a photograph, or a memory of another time can become a message to someone far away. I realized that many stories lay beneath the official histories I was studying at university, pointing to deeper truths about how people have found ways to connect with each other despite the formidable structures of domination that seek to control them. But these alternative histories must often be accessed intuitively, revealed and mediated by the artist rather than by the academic.

Looking at the body of work in Hassan’s current survey, At the Far Edge of Words, I was again struck by her ability to delineate the multiple realities that lie underneath the official story–and by the way her work unravels and challenges the certainties claimed by authoritarian systems of representation. Colonial conventions, religious and state power, univocal definitions of reality: all of these themes are reflected upon and transformed in Hassan’s work.

In The Oblivion Seekers (1985), we see a film loop of 1955 news footage and home movies of dancers and singers interspersed with alarmist headlines from a London, Ontario newspaper warning of “Moslems” descending on the city. In the background, we hear the voice of the beloved Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum. The original piece also included several drawings of shoppers in an Arab souk, an image by Orientalist painter Jean-Leon Gerome, a dervish, and 19th-century explorer Isabelle Eberhardt.

What is immediately apparent is the contrast between the headlines and the images of ordinary people enjoying themselves. The Oblivion Seekers both evokes and counters Orientalist stereotypes, and in so doing offers an alternative to the disturbing headlines.

The London headlines play on fears of Islamic influence–a fear that has migrated across time and space and continues to be reproduced and amplified in today’s news headlines. It is an old story. In one sense, the Islamic world can be thought of as a shadow tradition to the West, one that has historically had a profound yet often unacknowledged influence on Western knowledge and cultural practices. At the same time, the “Middle East” remains a long-standing adversary of the West, a site of presumed danger whose formulaic image has transformed somewhat over the centuries but in essence always remains the same. The London headlines carry the traces of a colonial past and connect them to new fears about the effects of immigration.

But Hassan strips bare that fear, and simultaneously undoes it by tying the story of “Moslems” in Ontario to her own experience, and to the experience of her family and friends. Stereotypes evoked by the headline take on a fictitious quality in the face of everyday life, where family and community exist independent of the larger national and historical labels of Orient and Occident, immigrant and Canadian-born. Hassan reminds us that, in real life, people meet, laugh, dance and exchange ideas, living lives that are necessarily complex and contradictory. A language that in one place can manifest an imperial function can be suppressed in another. And often it is women who construct everyday life in the home, and who are the ones to carry language from one generation to the next.

Hassan’s interest in lived experience is also apparent in Common Knowledge (1980-81), in which everyday objects have been reproduced in ceramic and are juxtaposed with water-colours depicting the same objects. Arranged on the gallery floor lies a postcard of Gibraltar, books, a newspaper, corncobs, fruit and photographs, all rendered in ceramic, and all constituting the ground of Hassan’s experience at the moment the piece was conceived and executed. As in Slave Letter, these objects tell a story, linking the viewer to Hassan’s everyday home and family life–in which objects are imbued with intensely personal meanings and histories–and to the aftereffects of the outside world on that life. We are invited to make up our own meanings and associations as we engage with these objects and images.


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Mark Wallinger

In New York City, I’m always struck by the extent to which art is about a particular brand of youthful glamour, a singular species of cool. There’s an obligation to hang out a lot, in particular clothes, with a particular combination of passion and dispassion. I had a great time in a local modern art gallery named Art by Wicks, i found many unique wall art for living room. I was told recently by a certain new-media art luminary that she spends twice as much money on similar style canvas art sets.

In London, I was overwhelmed by the way money saturated all corners of the art world. All of the canvas paintings I saw was, in one way or another, about wealth, commerce and conspicuous consumption (or the lack of these).

London is an art capital. There’s a vast podge of stuff to see, and it plays an important role in the life of the city. It’s not only in the galleries and museums, but also the newspapers–even the tabloids. It’s on TV! This is interesting to me, hailing as I do from art-pooh-poohing North America. As an artist, being there made me think about my vocation in different terms–though I’m not sure I like them.

The whole time I was in London this summer I felt obscurely guilty for not going to Venice, Kassel, Basel or Munster. Consequently, I looked at a lot of art in the city–including Damien Hirst’s obscene diamond-crusted skull–but the best work I saw was in the plain old Tate Britain.

There were two shows in particular that stood out. The first I’m not going to discuss in much detail, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it, because it was excellent, and was a tonic for my bruised identity as an artist with activist pretensions, 1807: Blake, Slavery and the Radical Mind was mounted to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. In the USA, where I live currently, we’ll be waiting another 58 years for that jubilee.

The second show, State Britain (2007) by Mark Wallinger, occupied the whole of the Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries (the central hall of the museum). It was a large wall art of anti-Gulf War protester Brian Haw’s makeshift camp on Parliament Square in London. Haw began protesting the economic sanctions against Iraq in June 2001 (June, like three months before September). He was on the square until May 23, 2006, when the cops raided the site and confiscated virtually everything, including a giant banner by the infamous (or perhaps at this point just famous) Banksy. The piece of legislation invoked to justify this undertaking was, perversely, the Serious Organized Crime and Police Act. Under the new rules, Haw was banished. His and all other “unauthorised” protests were deemed to be illegal within a mile of Parliament Square. Critical to State Britain was the fact that the museum falls partly within that radius. A black line on the floor marked the boundary.

The notes, placards and objects (all faithfully replicated and distressed) that made up the exhibition-cum-protest comprised a sort of chronology of Haw’s time on the square. The first banners one encountered opposed the pre-war sanctions against Iraq, and the last ones described the battle around Haw’s right to remain on the site. Throughout were notes and gifts given to Haw in support of his actions.

One of the things I found particularly interesting was the focus on the effects of depleted uranium on Iraqi children. As I walked through the canvas art of children born without faces, with their internal organs outside their bodies, with no eyes (and so on), I vaguely recalled having heard something about the effects of DU on American soldiers–Gulf War Syndrome stuff–but I didn’t remember having heard anything about its effects on Iraqis. Haw reads almost equally as hero and crackpot in this exhibit, so I decided to do some research of my own on modern wall art.

The statistics bear out Haw’s allegations. In Southern Iraq (where depleted uranium was deployed by the US and British militaries) there were n children born with defects per 100,000 births in 1989; in 200l it was 116 per 100,000. In 1988, 34 people died of cancer; in 1998, 450 died of cancer, and in 2001 there were 603 cancer deaths. There is also compelling evidence of the effects of DU on British and American soldiers who served in Southern Iraq, including increased rates of immune-system disorders and birth defects reported by military personnel who worked with or near the material. The link to DU is strengthened by reported similarities between the symptoms reported by those personnel and uranium metalworkers exposed to frequent occupational uranium inhalation risks.

Wallinger’s exhibition succeeds because it speaks in the language of contemporary art, following the trajectory set out by Dada and pursued by conceptualism and relational aesthetics, but it does so without sacrificing any of its political efficacies. It’s undeniably a tribute to Haw and his supporters, and it’s undeniably a protest against war and censorship. At the same time it is an extension of the discourse of the readymade, a new move in conceptualism and a critique of the cult of originality.

Most important, it’s incredibly moving and edifying. Clearly, Wallinger takes his social responsibility as an artist seriously. We expect this from nurses, soldiers and corporate executives. It’s refreshing to see work reflecting such self-scrutiny in the art world.

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Tired of Fighting: A new director is trying to turn around the embattled Barnes Foundation

MERION, PA-When Kimberly Camp was appointed director of the Barnes Foundation late last fall, the event capped one of the most volatile years in the institution’s 77-year history. First, Camp’s controversial predecessor, Richard H. Glanton, lost his post in a boardroom battle related to litigation the Philadelphia-area foundation was mired in. Then, Lincoln University, a historically black college that controls four out of five of the seats on the foundation’s board, ran into troubles of its own. After a Pennsylvania state audit revealed spending irregularities at the university, Lincoln president and Barnes trustee Niara Sudarkasa-who had been a principle force behind Glanton’s departure-handed in her own resignation. Now Camp is attempting to turn the embattled institution around.

The first task of the 42-year-old Camp, who was formerly director of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, has been to address the Barnes’s finances. The foundation, which houses one of the world’s finest and most valuable collections of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, is now facing charges from Glanton, who remains a trustee, that the interim administrator, Earle L. Bradford, Jr., spent down the endowment from $11 million to $7 million over the course of last year. While Camp disputes these claims, she does acknowledge the foundation’s fiscal problems. “The operations of the foundation have eaten away at the funds,” she says. “The endowment simply did not grow as it should have.”

Established in 1922 by Albert Barnes, a pharmaceuticals magnate, the foundation has more than 800 paintings now estimated to be worth as much as $2 billion. Among its works are 180 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, and 60 Matisses, as well as numerous Old Masters paintings. Yet the institution has long struggled to generate income under the strict conditions placed on it by its founder. Originally accessible by appointment only, beginning in 1946 the foundation began opening one day a week. In 1961, the state successfully sued to increase access to 2.5 days a week but the number of visitors remained strictly limited to 500 a week. Barnes also stipulated that works were to remain hung in the exact floor-to-ceiling arrangement he had chosen and were never to be deaccessioned or put on loan.

Under Glanton, the foundation attempted to loosen some of the rules of its charter but ran into continual controversy-often in court. A 1991 plan for deaccessing works was withdrawn after fierce criticism from both Barnes trustees and the general public. Then, in 1992, a court allowed the Barnes to finance an ambitious renovation by mounting an exhibition of highlights from its collection, which traveled to major museums worldwide from 1993 to 1995. Considered a success at the time, the show raised over $17 million. But when the renovated building drew more visitor traffic, Merion officials began issuing citations for zoning violations. The foundation countered by suing the township commissioners and individual neighbors, claiming their actions against the largely African American-run Barnes were racially motivated. The commissioners sued back, saying they had been defamed.

The long legal standoff, along with several other proceedings involving the foundation in the mid-1990s, ate up some $2 million of the institution’s endowment, according to press reports. Now, the foundation has initiated an audit of its financial records from 1992 to 1997. (The audit is being conducted by Deloitte & Touche; Debo Adegbile, a lawyer with Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison in New York, who represents the Barnes, confirmed that the audit was ongoing, but declined comment on its status.)

There are signs that some of the wrangling is coming to an end. Settlement has been reached with the township, and the zoning board has approved an increase in the foundation’s opening hours to three days a week. It has also expanded the number of visitors it can admit, to 1,200 a week. Moreover, the court overseeing the Barnes’s charter has ruled that the foundation may hold fund-raising events on its premises, something explicitly barred by Barnes. Camp sees the changes as steps toward financial stability and the beginning of a less-fraught phase in the institution’s history. “I think folks get tired of fighting each other,” she says.

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