Tag Archives: art education

Insulated Societies And Fear: Awakening Cultural Intelligence Through The Arts

The Covid-19 quarantine has catapulted humanity into a new phase of global awareness through internet-based interaction. Professional and community based online communication has become a literal life stream.

Sadly, prior to the pandemic, we had already started to see a push towards cultural isolationism as a knee jerk rejection of globalism by the fearful.

Insular societies are often formed by living in an isolated location or in a group of people that resist exposure to new ideas. It can be a side effect of poverty with restricted travel or movement. Fear will often derail travel or reflect a lack of interest to exposure to other nationalities, languages or cultures.

Excluding the East and West coasts of the United States, 60% of Americans do not have a passport. Since the early part of the 20th century Americans have rarely traveled beyond 50 miles from where they were born! Our only exposure to other cultures can be limited to television, movies or social media, none of which reflect reality.

Unfortunately this can create a fear of new experiences, fear of travel, or worse, gross stereotypes of people. A perfect example is how Muslims are portrayed as terrorists or as dangerous individuals. Imagine if the entire world thought all Americans were Jehovah Witnesses?

Geographical size can also be a major contributor to an insular culture. California is the size of 5–7 European countries and is actually smaller than Texas or Alaska. Americans with only two weeks vacation a year barely have enough time to explore their own state, much less travel to another country.

In comparison, while living in Germany, I could drive to Holland or Belgium in 5 hours, Austria in 7 hours, France in 10, and Italy in 13. In those few hours I was exposed to multiple cultures, languages, food, and people. In Switzerland I was astounded to hear preschoolers speaking multiple languages from their exposure to people from other countries.

Now imagine each US state as a different country. It’s easy if you try and imagine someone from Boston talking to someone from Alabama, Texas or California. It would sound like we were all from different planets. There is a reason for that too.

As a melting pot of people who immigrated here from around the world, we came here despite the First Nations and Mexican Nation people that already were established here culturally and physically. Isolationists choose to forget that we are a country of immigrants. Their racism and xenophobia are a response to not being able to recognize the original cultural heritage in another person. This is what we now identify as “cultural intelligence”.

Professor David Livermore is an expert in cultural behavior. He is a world-renowned writer and lecturer on Cultural Intelligence. He helps train police departments to determine whether someone from a different cultural background is exhibiting behavior that is a threat or a culturally derived emotional response to a crisis.

To understand someone’s character or behavior, it helps to understand if they are from an Affective or Neutral Cultural background. Affective cultures are highly expressive in their communications and feelings. They talk loudly when excited, are very animated, enthusiastic, spontaneous. They are also more emotional and use their intuition in their decision making process and will often exaggerate to make a point.

Affective cultures include African American, Italian, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and the Spanish. In Affective cultures, interruptions are okay but it is silence that is considered awkward.

Neutral cultures emphasize controlling their emotions or a non-emotional response to situations. They are more likely to disguise what they are thinking or feeling which can lead to unexpected outbursts. They can speak in a monotone, show little emotions, and expect others to stick to the point on specific, predetermined topics. To interrupt someone is taboo and punishment often includes being given “the silent treatment”.

Neutral cultures include Chinese, Ethiopian, German, Japanese, and Native American.

Culture is not only about national culture. There are also industry cultures and corporate cultures.

In his Teaching Company course, Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Where ever You Are, Professor Livermore analyzes cultures beyond Affective and Neutral behaviors.

Cultures (based on academic research across 60 countries) are also identified by;

  • Individualist versus Collectivist attitudes
  • Low versus High Power Distance
  • Cooperative versus Competitive
  • How they view time (Punctuality versus Relationships)
  • Direct versus Indirect Communication
  • Being versus Doing
  • Particularist versus Universalist
  • Tight versus Loose

Livermore also identifies 10 global clusters of large cultural groupings which share core patterns of thinking and behaving.

The arts can be one of the least fearful ways to open ourselves up to other cultures. If travel and finances are restricting our global curiosity about other cultures, we can learn much by watching videos or travel blogs on YouTube from expatriates who live in those places.

Begin with one or two countries. Perhaps the countries your family originated from or a country you have always wanted to visit. If you really want to stretch your personal boundaries, do this with a culture you have no interest in.

Research your country of interest’s most famous painters, singers, play-writes, and film directors. Who were their bestselling authors? Find out and then read English versions of those books. Who are their famous chefs and what foods do they eat and why? What is your chosen country most famous for? What were their gifts to the world? 

Exposure to other cultures has benefited humanity much more than isolation. It may not be immediately obvious but history has provided many examples of this.

Prior to the Renaissance, only priests and monks could read. Much of Europe lived in filth and isolation until the Christian Crusades. History shows us these solders were not Christians at all, but paid mercenaries to go into Spain and kill off the Moors who had settled there by the Christian church.

When the soldiers arrived in Cordoba they found a place like no other. The Moors had plumbing, in-house baths, and communal fountains. They cultivated fruit trees and had more libraries than in all of France combined!

“Their society had become too sophisticated to be fanatical. Christians and Moslems, with Jews as their intermediaries and interpreters, lived side by side and fought, not each other, but other mixed communities.” (Cleugh, 1953, p.71).

While the rest of Europe lived in fear and superstition, Arabs had traveled the globe and brought books and knowledge from every location.

Thanks to the Moors, we were gifted with our knowledge of medicine, botany, geometry, astronomy, mathematics (including the concept of zero), eye -glasses, and the use of brass type for printing, just to name a few.

The Moors also gave us the concept of dressing for the seasons, using glass and silverware to eat, and eating meals in more than one course.

These were the gifts of Arab Muslims to the West. Their culture was so far ahead of the rest of the world that Christian and Jewish scholars had to come from all around Europe to translate their books. It took them 300 years! This is what came to be known as the Renaissance or “great rebirth”.

When we travel we learn more about ourselves than the world. To get past fear and isolationism, we must focus on what makes us the same rather than what is different. We all want a safe place to live, enough food to eat, and for our families to be safe. We all laugh and we all cry.

We all love. When we hear or read any disparaging statement against another culture it is important to ask ourselves two questions. What is it they fear and Who will benefit from creating an Us versus Them situation?


Uriél Danā at the Getty MuseumUriél Danā has been a Professional Fine Artist 38 years and is a Contemporary Figurative Art Curator.
She is an Air Force Veteran and former USIA (State Department) Ambassador to the Arts. She is a graduate of the 2016 Writers Guild of the West (Los Angeles, CA) Veterans Writing Project.

A Contributing Editor on the Arts, Buddhism and Culture, Uriél contributes regularly to online and print magazines in addition to international journals. She has won many awards for her poetry and has been included in two anthologies. For National Poetry Month, April 2020, her poems were  featured on San Francisco’s public radio station, KPFA. To see more artwork and read more of her articles, please visit https://www.urieldana.com.

A resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, Uri has lived on three continents and visited 44 countries.

Why Are Some Paintings Under Glass? Glazed and Confused?

Many museum visitors are aware that a single drop of moisture can destroy a drawing, watercolor, gouache, or tempera but rarely consider how vulnerable they are to UV damage. Varnished oil paintings do not need this protection and therefore making it perplexing when we see one under glass in a frame.

As a trained curator, when I see a covered painting I see it as a major clue the work has either traveled between many museums or been loaned by one. 

Glazing is the term used by museums to indicate a painting is protected by glass or Plexiglas. Museums often ask for work that is going to travel a great distance without crating to be glazed. Crating is extremely expensive and can run into the thousands per painting.

Museum glass is not the same glass you buy at your local hardware store, but a special conservation glass that offers increased UV protection (99%) and reduces reflections. Glazing does not sit directly on top of an oil painting but sits over a mat or mount in front of the painting.  

In addition to providing impact protection, environmental extremes and physical damage, glazing also protects the painting from microbiological hazards, pollution, touching, and dust and dirt. 

According to The Tate Museum in London, “glazing is seen by most conservators and curators as a necessary evil and any advantages must be offset against well known disadvantages such as reduced visibility (including reduced light transmission, reflections, colour casts, distortions); potential breakage and damage to the artwork; additional weight, cost and labour involved; possible structural or aesthetic unsuitability of the frame; and other issues such as static, condensation and thermal instability.”

Occasionally, what we are seeing over a painting is not museum glass but museum grade acrylic. Often called by the brands most in demand, “Optium” or “True Vue” they are virtually scratch proof and nearly unbreakable, but much more expensive.

It’s rare to see a modern or contemporary painting glazed because so many have floating edges (called a gallery wrap) or are unframed completely. Paintings pre 19th century were not considered finished without their frame and never would have been displayed as such. It is much more common to see work from the 1800’s or earlier glazed.

Paintings under Glass - Uriél Danā at the Getty Museum
Photo of Uriél Danā by the fountain at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California

Thank you for reading this article.

For more articles on what galleries look for in an artist and other art eccentricities, please click through the links below.


Cover image: Painting by Mitch Griffith, Detail of “​ Man In The Frame”​

 

Écorché: The Art and Science of Seeing Through Others

Écorché is a word coined by the École Des Beaux Arts to describe a figure that is drawn, painted, or sculpted without skin to reveal the muscles and bones below. It literally translates to “flayed or skinned”.

Écorché Woman
Écorché Woman

In Western Europe this teaching practice went back to the Italian Renaissance. Long associated with masters such as Leonardo da VinciAndreas Vesalius & Honore Fragonard, it is used today as a form of study for the human form at many top art schools including the New York Academy of Art, the Art Students League of New York and the Florence Academy of Art in Italy.

Without mastery of the human figure, its skeleton and muscle masses, figures in art look rubbery or the portrait equivalent of the clay humanoid animation Mr. Gumby.

Écorché, Antonio Durelli 1837 red chalk and pencil
Écorché, Antonio Durelli 1837 red chalk and pencil

Occidental anatomy is the structural foundation for realism in drawing, painting, or sculpture, but also for medical treatment and forensic facial reconstruction.

Christians believed the body and the soul were connected and forbade doctors from viewing (much less dissecting) the human body.

Écorché - Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci

It was not until the election of Pope Boniface VIII (d.1303) was the practice allowed. Even so, it was not until a century later during the early Renaissance for these studies to be embraced. Leonardo da Vinci (b.1452-d.1519) emerged as a major contributor and became known as the artist-anatomist to the new science of “anatomy”. He was the first to draw a fetus in utero but unfortunately got many of the female reproductive organs incorrect. (Female corpses were difficult to come by).

Finding cadavers to develop this practice is as interesting as the drawings themselves.

A sketch by Michelangelo di Buonarroti
A sketch by Michelangelo di Buonarroti

When Michelangelo was seventeen he stayed at the convent of Santa Maria del Santo Spirito in Paris after the death of Lorenzo de’Medici. Its hospital regularly practiced dissection on its bodies. Michelangelo traded his sculpting abilities to make a crucifix for their Basilica in exchange for access to their corpses.

Many cadavers up to 200 years ago have been hanging victims.

Jiwoong Cheh, Sculptor
Jiwoong Cheh, Sculptor

Medical schools advanced quickly when painters and sculptors began working with doctors. By the 17th and 18th century, dissections became a standard practice in medical schools. A few doctors were also artists.

Doctor Paul Richer (1849-1933) sculpted the Living Ecorché to stress the significance between the interior and exterior forms of the body.

In the East, écorché is known as Jing-Shui and it was mastered 1500 years before the West. During the Chinese Han Dynasty (16 C.E.), Emperor Wang Mang ordered the body of a criminal to be slowly deconstructed from skin to bone. Everything was recorded and drawn systematically. Bamboo rods were inserted into blood vessels to discover where they began and where they ended. It was the foundation of what we now know as acupuncture.

Repin State Academic Institute "Anatomical & Figure Drawing"
Repin State Academic Institute “Anatomical & Figure Drawing”

Today artists and healers use écorché models made from plaster, wax, wood, wax, resin, bronze, ivory, and even apps on their phone.

Medical schools still dissect bodies for their training. Bodies donated to science are given to nonprofits such as The Anatomical Gift Associationwho embalm and transfer them to institutions. (Only bodies with all their organs are accepted).

As of 2018, member medical schools pay about $1300 per corpse, non-members $2300.

Thank you for reading this article. For more articles on what galleries look for in an artist and other art eccentricities, please click through to the articles below.


Cover image:  Scott Eaton Anatomy Course

The Eighty-Four Mahasiddhas: Understanding Buddhist Imagery

The Eighty-Four Mahasiddhas are historical figures that lived between the eighth and twelfth centuries that achieved great accomplishments. A more western definition is that a “siddha” is someone with magical powers and “maha” means above all others. How they achieved these abilities came to be known as the Buddhist Tantras.

Commonly known as “siddhis”, these psychic and spiritual abilities have often been dubbed “supernatural”. They are developed through an oral tradition of teaching in addition to an extended meditation practice.

In the early Nyingma tradition (one of the four Tibetan Buddhist Practices), the “Highest Yoga Tantras” or anuttarra, carry a sword in their right hand that could grant the eight great powers or psychic attainment. These include psychic sight or clairvoyance, invisibility, transmutation of matter, translocation and multiple manifestation, the sword of discriminating awareness, the ability to traverse all realms of existence, ability to fly through the sky, levitation, and immortality.

Supernatural abilities are not what made the eighty-four mahasiddhas special however. Using the teachings of the Buddha, these individuals gained enlightenment during their lifetime. They offered a path for others to follow so they too could achieve success in their Vajrayana practice. (Vajrayana is a path that uses ordinary experiences into an opportunity for awakening spiritually).

Let me reframe this concept in a modern context: In 1995 I flat-lined during a surgical procedure. I found myself in 16th century Bengal India, dying from a fall down a flight of stairs. The details of that out of body journey were life altering for me. I began dreaming in Sanskrit and Chinese; could understand the lyrics of any language in song; could suddenly play a tamboura; chant in mantra; and I could smell when people were about to die. I also started painting miniatures, Left-handed. (I am right handed).

In the Vajrayana tradition I would probably be renamed Udana (which is how I sign my paintings), a combination of my first initial and last name that takes on a third, synergistic meaning. The Udana in tantric practice is the ascending energy current. It means, “to awaken”. If I were to write a self help book of those experiences or teach privately in workshops they would be known as “the Udana Tantras”.

16 Monks (Arhats), Miniature painting, Oil on Board, 1996, by Uriél Danā
Miniature painting, 16 Monks (Arhats), Oil on Board, 1996, by Uriél Danā

The eighty-four mahasiddhas helped bring about the growth and success of the Tantric tradition, particularly during the Pala dynasty. The supernatural stories of the mahasiddha helped establish many Buddhist lineages and traditions. For example, there is a strong connection between the Mahasiddha “Telopa” in the Kagyu sect of Buddhism and “Virupa” in the Sakya sect. Telopa is known as “the great renunciate” because he gave up the fortune he made as an oil merchant for spiritual liberation.

Made up of eighty men and four women, there is always a pattern to their stories. Their mahasiddha name is rarely the one they were born with. They are always identified by caste, which can be either low or high. A life crisis occurs through deep discontent or an inability to see their way out of a problem.  They meet a guru or teacher, usually in a place where they are confronting their fears, which more often than not is a cemetery.

(Cemeteries are traditionally the symbol of  “samsara” or those caught in the cycle of suffering) in both Buddhism and Hinduism. After years of following strict practices given by their guru, enlightenment follows and the mahasiddha inspires many people on their own path of enlightenment.

Although there is a pattern to the stories, that’s where the similarities end. The translation of their names alone shows the sheer variety of characters. There is Jayanda; the Crow Master, Lilapa; the Royal Hedonist, & Nirgunapa; The Enlightened Moron. There are two headless sisters (Kanakhala and McKhala), a gambler (Tantepa), and a compulsive liar (Thaganapa). There are kings (Campaka, Kankana), a prince (Nalinapa), and a mad princess (Laksminkara). Let’s not forget the pastry chef (Picari or Pacaripa), a glutton (Sarvabhaksa), a fearless thief (Khadgapa), and a lovelorn widower (Kankaripa). There is Godhuripa, the bird catcher, and Udhilipa, the flying birdman.  There is also a mahasiddha named Darika who was a bit of a slave to prostitutes that learned to fly on his own accord.

Dharma Publishing has published a book on the lives of the mahasiddhas by Abhayadatta. Translated into English by James B. Robinson, Buddha’s Lions; The Lives of The Eighty-Four Siddhas offers insight into the Vajrayana.  Robinson tells of when Buddhism passed into Tibet it was vital that those who shared their lineage embody the teachings of that lineage. In this way each became a Buddha himself and the doctrine became a living lineage.

Robinson goes on to tell us how the Buddha taught that wisdom comes from both knowledge and practice. ‘It is not enough to receive the oral tradition or to just memorize the data. One must sit and absorb it. The knowledge produced in meditation then becomes the culminating achievement affecting the transformation that leads to liberation.’

One example is Laksminkara, a.k.a. “the mad princess”. Her brother was a king that ruled over a quarter of a million cities in Uddiyana. Laksminkara was enormously wealthy and extremely educated. She had studied the tantras and been taught by the great siddha Kanibala himself.  Her brother arranges a marriage for her to the future King of Lanka and off she is shipped.  It wasn’t looking too good for her when she arrived; most of the people were not Buddhists. Laksminkara wasn’t even allowed to enter the king’s palace because the stars were unfavorable.

While waiting in town the prince’s entourage arrived from a hunt carrying a huge amount of meat. When she found out the prince was responsible for the death of all of these animals she was repulsed. She knew she could not marry such a man. She gave away all the wealth and jewelry she had brought as her dowry to the people, and gave instruction not to be disturbed for ten days. She cut off her hair, stripped naked and rubbed ash all over her body. The king tried to get her help and medicines for her to come to her senses but Laksminkara would not have it. Eventually she escaped and went to live in a graveyard for 7 years until she attained siddhi.

A sweeper of the king made reverence to her and she became his teacher. Once, when the king had lost his way he saw magic lights and dakinis dancing in the cave where Laksminkara slept. At first he thought she was crazy. He returned to the palace but felt so much light and faith, he was compelled to return. Honoring her with the reverence she deserved, he asked for her to be his teacher. She told the King his sweeper was her student and he must honor the sweeper as his teacher as he would become an auspicious friend.  The challenge would be for the King to find “the right sweeper” as there were so many. Laksminkara told him to look for the sweeper giving food to the people at night.

In the end, the King found the right sweeper. The king put him on a throne and asked for instructions. He received spiritual transmission from him, and the sweeper and the princess manifested many miracles for the people of Lanka.

Parts of this article were originally from a piece I wrote in 2009 for the Dharma Publishing website, a division of the Nyingma Institute Buddhist Center in Berkeley, CA. They offer courses on many aspects of Buddhism and I was lucky enough to enroll in one of its Art in Tibetan Thangka classes. It is a rare and comprehensive course on the subject.


Uriél Danā has been a Professional Artist, Curator & Arts Writer since 1983 in addition to being an invitational Arts Ambassador for the US State Department. She became a Master of Tibetan Dream Yoga from age 9 to overcome a sleeping disorder under the training of a Mongolian monk on the North side of Chicago. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

How Do Artists Get Their Work Into A Museum?

The most common way for a living artist to get their paintings into a museum is to win or be a finalist in an international art competition. The annual BP Portrait Award exhibits winners at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Another example would be the Art Renewal Centers (ARC) annual award that includes a museum exhibit at the Museum European Art Modern (MEAM) in Barcelona.

The second most common way is to be invited by a curator for a theme. In the late 1980’s a curator named Jean Hubert Martin brought together the voices of artists from Africa, the Australian Aboriginals and Latin America for the Center Pompidou and the Grand Hall in Paris called Magicians of the Earth.

Often a curator has presented a thesis on a movement and releases its publication with a tour of work that had prevalence in that movement. Helen Molesworth the former Chief Curator of MOCA LA (with Dieter Roelstraete and Ian Alteveer) deeply researched the life retrospective of Alabama artist Kerry James Marshal. Curators often work with multiple museums sharing the exhibition costs. The Marshal exhibit traveled from MCA Chicago to the MET Breuer and then finished at the MOCA LA. (Artists do not make money from their work hung in a museum unless the museum buys a piece of art later).

The third way is if an artists work (usually someone of great fame or demand at auctions) has become something of interest in the art world. This would include some of the billionaire artists like John Currin and Ed Ruscha. (For more on billionaire and millionaire living artists, please read my article on Starving Artists vs Millionaire Artists.

The fourth way for your art to exhibited at a museum is for a prominent collector to be invited to display their collection. These can be older, family collections like The Borghese or the Farnese Collection in Rome, or modern art collectors like Doris and Donald Fisher who founded San Francisco’s Gap Inc. Usually these collections reflect artists with well documented auction and gallery demand or well loved in their community. Collectors will often exhibit their treasures to increase the value of the whole collection (saving the expense of insurance premiums). If you see the collection in a home magazine it is usually a signal the collection or several pieces of it will be up for sale or on loan. No one advertises their collection for burglars.

The fifth way is for the museum (usually a specialty museum like The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum) to reach out to people who paint under that criteria. In my case it was an exhibit based on the theme of The Mythic Image. Artist Gage Taylor (d.2000) and I had collaborated on paintings of archetypal themes that repeated in the East, the Middle East, and the West for 17 years.

Thank you for reading this article. For more articles on what galleries look for in an artist and other art eccentricities, please click through to the articles below.


Cover image:  Museu Europeu d’art Modern – MEAM Barcelona, Spain

Starving Artists vs Millionaire Artists

The concept of “the starving artist” is a belief popularized by the 19th century Romantic Art Movement. They made it fashionable to be poor.

These were the artists that rejected the classic teachings of the academies as well as traditional patronage. They intentionally alienated themselves from formal training, worldly success, and family support so they could create “what came from their soul and their own impulses”. Martyrdom was the hash-tag of the day.

Adelheid M. Gealt in her book, Looking At Art, A Visitor’s Guide to Museum Collections examines the artist’s self induced alienation from society:

“The early masters-Titian, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Guercino-became the stuff of biography and legend that emphasized their talent, inspiration, and romantic attachments. Gradually, the eighteenth-century ideal of the artist—that urbane, witty, poised, and cultivated member of society gave way to a new model. Rough, uncultivated, isolated, misunderstood, and tortured by greatness, the nineteenth-century artist was a creature of genius and superior sensibilities who fulfilled his destiny best by dying young.”

Gealt goes on to say that because the Romantic artist relied primarily on inspiration and the internal voice of genius, failure was accepted as a natural outcome of any artistic endeavor and that without an occasional disaster, no artist was considered authentic.

Film and books love recreating these romantic scenarios about artists because they are dramatic and drama sells. Unfortunately, continually recreating these martyr-for-entertainment moments has society and many artists trapped in a samsaric loop.

Artists in the 21st Century do not have the luxury to separate themselves from society. Technology is doing that for them in the same way it is causing a huge divide in society. We are told that to succeed we must constantly post our personal evolution as an artist on social media when in professional reality, it strips the emotion out of our images, makes it feel commonplace as well as unnecessary to purchase. (For more on this phenomenon I highly recommend Jaron Lanier’s best selling book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now).

Millionaire artists are not interacting on social media but immersing their non studio time in genuine human interaction with communities, corporations, and collectors.

The art world has devolved in America over the last decade, into two separate realities. There are the 1% financially elite, and then the working poor. Its middle class is disappearing. This should concern all of us because the arts are the unseen fabric of every thing you use or purchase in life.

As in the rest of the business world, the art world has its own 1%. They are painters, sculptors, and photographers that have become self-made multi millionaires or billionaires off their art.

We need to stop perpetuating the 19th century stereotype of artists being self absorbed martyrs too delicate to make a living. Until we do, we will continue to lose the backbone of every innovation America has to offer. One of my goals years ago as an Arts Ambassador for the US State Department, was to get artists to believe a living income was possible and what they did was of value. To that end I would like to share some of our millionaire success stories.

Many artists will not disclose their net worth (for obvious reasons). One only has to wonder what Kitsch painter Odd Nerdrum’s net worth must be to owe 2.6 million in taxes? I’ve chosen only the most glaring examples based on auction or highly publicized sales.

Here are a few living painters and their net worth in US dollars. I’ve included female as well as male artists. 

Millionaire Artists - John Curran

John Currin (American, b.1962) Net worth 1.43 Billion. Currin paints figurative art with provocative sexual and social scenes.

Damien Hirst (British. b.1965). Net worth 1 Billion. Conceptual Artist.

Ed Ruscha (American, b.1937). Net worth 1.2 Billion. Long associated with the Pop Art Movement, over 50 of Ruscha’s paintings have sold for over a million dollars at auction and another for slightly under 7 million at Christies, NY.  His paintings and photographs depict iconographic Southern California.

Jeff Koons (American, b.1954) Net worth 500 Million. He sold one of his balloon dogs for $58.4 million in 2013

Jasper Johns (American, b.1930) Net worth 300 Million (technically he’s a sculptor).

David Choe (Chinese America, b.1955) Net worth 200 Million.

Andrew Vicari (Welsh, b.1932) Net worth 142 Million. Official painter to the king of Saudi Arabia. Known as the Rembrandt of Riyadh.

Anthony Gormley (London, UK, b.1950) Net worth 100 Million (sculptor). Many of his works he has used his own body for the moulds.

Takashi Murakami (Japanese, b.1962) Net worth 100 Million. This Tokyo based artist has created painted sculpture for fashion, advertising and animation. As an artist, he achieved celebrity status via Louis Vuitton and later from an album cover created for Kanye West. He sold one piece of sculpture at Art Basel for over 2 million dollars.

David Hockney (British, b.1937) Net worth 40 Million. Hockney began his career with the pop art movement of the 1960’s. Hockney is as famous as a stage designer as he is as a painter. Appointed by the Queen to the Order of Merit and is a Royal Academian.

Gerhard Richter (German, b.1932) Net worth 40 Million sold a painting for 37.1 million in 2013 and 44.52 million in 2015 setting world records for paintings sold by a living artist.

Anish Kapoor (British Indian, b.1954) Net worth 62.7 Million. Large public sculptures. Former Turner Prize Winner.

Andreas Gursky (Germany, b.1955) Net worth 30 Million. A photographer who sold one print for nearly 4.5 million. He creates the illusion of wide spaces.

Cindy Sherman (b.1954) Net worth 35 Million (a photographer but a woman so worth mentioning). Queen of the selfies, photographed herself 69 times in every female cliché.

Richard Prince (b.1949 in the Panama Canal Zone). Net worth 30 Million. Not a man liked by other artists. He is known for appropriated imagery. He re-photographs, copies, scans, and manipulates the work of others; in other words he has crafted a technique of appropriation and provocation.

Christopher Wool (American, b.1955) sold a painting for 26.5 million in 2013.

Georg Basellitz (German, b.1938) Net worth 20 Million. Neo-expressionist post modern painter known for bright colors and upside down figures.

Chuck Close (American, b.1940) Net worth 25 Million. Photorealistic images. Recognized by his massive, room size portraits.

Brice Marden (American, b.1939) Net Worth 500 Million. Minimalist . Although classically trained at Yale he developed an interest in Abstract Expressionism. I love how the universe really wanted this man to create art. Marden was going to go to school in Florida to learn to be a hotel manager when a teacher gave him a MOMA membership card to go see an exhibit by Jackson Pollack who had just died. He decided to transfer to Boston University for his BFA. This in turn led him to a summer program at Yale’s Summer School of Music. He became classmates with soon to be famous artists like Chuck Close. He also married Joan Baez’s sister, Pauline. He was exposed to Jasper Johns when working part time as a guard at the Jewish Museum.

Here are some women artists and what their paintings demand:

Cady Noland (American, b.1956) 6.6 Million (one painting), 9.8 million one painting “The broken illusion of the American Dream”, Silkscreen ink on aluminum plate.

Yayoi Kusama (Japanese, b.1929) 5.8 Million (one painting). Works primarily in sculpture and installation.

Bridget Riley (British, b. 1931) 5.1 Million (one painting), British Op Art.

Julie Mehretu (Ethiopian/American b.1970) 4.6 Million (one painting).

Jenny Saville (British, b.1970) 3.5 Million (one painting). Known for large scale painted depictions of nude women.

Viji Celmins (Latvian, b. 1938) 2.4 Million (one painting) 3.4 million Sotheby’s (2014 painting). Photo realistic paintings of natural environmental elements.

Beatriz Milhazes (Brazilian, b.1960) 2.1 Million (one painting). Brazilian modern cultural imagery.

Lee Bontecou (American, b.1931) 1.9 Million (one painting). Excellent sculptor and printmaker.

Marlene Dumas (South African, b.1953) 6.3 Million (one painting).

Rosemarie Trockel (German, b. 1952) 4.9 million  (one painting). Creates a number of pieces in knitted wool.

Tracy Emin (British, b.1963) 4.3 million. Installation art.

Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954). 35 million (photographer) sold one print for 4 million, another 2.7 million.

Hugh Honour, Romanticism (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), p.16


Featured Image: Jasper Johns, Two Flags 1973


References

Looking At Art, A Visitor’s Guide to Museum Collections by Adelheid M.Gealt R.R. Bowker Company, New York & London, 1983. P.366-367

Artists and Money: Ending the Martyred Stereotype • Uriél Dana Fine Art

Women In the Arts: Drawing New Boundaries • Uriél Dana Fine Art

Making Money As An Artist: To Have Talent Once Meant You Were Wealthy • Uriél Dana Fine Art

How Do You Start Your Own Art Collection?

Imagine you have just died. You were really really old. In fact, you have out lived your family and your friends.

A stranger comes into your home to catalogue your possessions.They are an estate manager and they must clear your household to honor your will or to pay off any bills you may have left. They come inside your home or apartment and there is one painting, a chair, and a bed. The painting is in a place of honor, well lit. They stop and stare at the painting. It is your legacy.

That painting should tell the person as much about you as the music you have on a shelf or the books that you own. A painting should reveal to people if you were funny, romantic, spiritual, mystical, patriotic, sensuous, and even what colors you liked.

Choose a painting, drawing or a sculpture like it is the only thing you will look at every day for the rest of your life.

Fall “in love” with it. When you are in love you cherish what you love, enjoy the time you spend together, are proud to be seen with your love. If you buy for love, not investment, you will never regret it.

Later you may find it was just puppy love and fall for a more mature lover; that will be the second piece in your collection.


To follow Uriél Dana’s Twitter feed on contemporary figurative art you can find her at Twitter.com/Uridev

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Craquelure: History’s Crack In Time

Time and climate are not our friends when it comes to paintings or our skin. Craquelure is the network of fine cracks that appear in the skin of a painting. Many things can cause these cracks.

Sadly, much like the human face, cracks occurring in the paint layers or ground are usually indicative of age or stress. Instead of the scull, these cracks run through the layers of a painting. They take the form of a dense network of fine fissures which run in straight or slightly curved lines. Think laugh lines.

Sometimes they happen because of the oxidation process, others can occur within the dried and fully polymerized (non elastic) layers of paint.

In modern paintings, it’s usually the consequence of using poor materials.

Crazing is when the cracks appear in varnish but have not yet penetrated through the layers of paint. This usually happens when improperly prepared varnish mixtures have lost their bond. These types of cracks can usually be removed by removing the varnish.

Drying cracks are not the same as aging cracks.

Drying cracks include flame cracks that are small and short, often from paint dotted with a brush after painting.

Brushstroke cracks occur in areas covered with really thin paint. Lean chalk grounds cause spiral cracks and paints on thin canvas.

Grid cracks are found only in 19th and 20th century paintings and are caused by painting on smoother grounds.

Net cracks, named after their appearance, happen when the paint has been manipulated and applied in many directions on a structured canvas.

Drying cracks in varnish are pale and extend down through the paint as far as the ground, but not into the ground. They are always the result of painting technique.

Peace on Earth by Gage Taylor and Uriel Dana Craquelure
Peace On Earth (after Canigliano), 1995, by Uriél Dana & Gage Taylor. © 1995-2018 Uriél Dana

Craquelure can also be caused by mechanical stresses. Forgers, after using ovens to dry and harden oil paint can roll a painting over a cylinder.

Picture distortions create cracks when something has pressed the canvas from the back or even a forger using their fingers.

Aging of the picture layer, micro pores and micro-fissures (aka blanching), and stresses caused by tension and pressure can also cause cracking.

Cracks on wood panel paintings create garland cracks, diagonal cracks, spiral and corn ear cracks caused by pressure.

To make things even more complicated there are also artificial craquelure done for effect. I used a product called Vernis a Craqueler by a French company for an exhibit I did with the late Gage Taylor called “Alien X-mas” at Anon Salon in San Francisco. It is a two step process using oil and water based varnishes to get the effect. The painting was called “Peace on Earth”.


Art Credit: Mona Lisa by Leonard DaVinci, detail of craquelure

Art Critics: ​Keeping Art In Its Proper Framework

Art critics evaluate art in a historical context. They see the big, overall picture of what is going on in a culture during the specific time it is created. The most successful art is a reflection of the zeitgeist of its creator. It is the art critic that is able to spot a movement.

An example would be what came to be known as California Visionary Art. This is an area of surrealism that came after Pop Art and after the Psychedelic Album Cover Art Movement of the 1960’s. It included Gage TaylorBill MartinNick HydeCliff McReynoldsJoseph ParkerThomas Akawie, and Sheila Rose.

Art critic and curator, Walter Hopps, noticed a new kind of style popping up in art competitions. It had a spiritual, fantasy element to it but it was not illustration or sentimental. It reflected the human potential movement and spiritual awakening happening in California in the 1970’s. It’s important to remember these were artists painting spiritual or drug-induced awakenings before special effects, computers, or CGI. They were seeing the world in a new way and sought to share that vision.

True art movements appear simultaneously by artists tapping into something energetically. They are usually unaware of one another. Based on Walter Hopps observation as a critic, California Visionary Art was curated into exhibits at the SmithsonianThe Whitney Museum in NY, The San Francisco Museum of Modern ArtThe Paris Biennale, The India Triennale among many others. It appeared in books and Gage Taylor’s work was highlighted in magazines such as Newsweek (July 11, 1977) & Omni (September 7, 1979 page 38).

When an artist gets a bad review for his work it is usually because he is not being authentic to his time or himself.

Many artists were influenced by California Visionary Art and the first two or three generations were part of the spiritual awakening happening at the time; the ashrams, the gurus, the meditation groups, the groups focusing on peace towards people and animals (vegetarianism), the awakening of Buddhism in the West.

By the 4th generation, we see people painting unicorns and rainbows with garish colors with sickly sweet sentimentality. These artists adapted the “persona” of a movement but were not “authentic” to the movement. This work is not collectible and critics see it for what it is, derivative.

Art critics have years of art history education under their belt and even experience viewing, curating, or judging artwork for exhibitions. They can spot an artist copying another artist in an instant.

Gage Taylor, California Visionary Artist


Art Credit: Collage (Detail) by Robin Isely

Museums In The 21st Century: The Invisible Intimacy Of Public Palaces

Museums have always been magical places to me. Every room allows us to enter a bardo or in-between world that bridges the artist and ourselves. The emotions held by the artist while creating, remain in the artwork forever.

To stand in front of a painting in which the artist has mastered the “flow” allows the viewer to feel in telepathic communion with that artist. (There is no word for this in English. In Sanskrit, it is known as the “rasa”).

At the beginning of this millennium the Director of the Whitney Museum of American ArtDavid Ross, announced that he did not believe institutions should exist only to preserve art. He said museums should sometimes feel like a comfortable chair or being in a fistfight, or perhaps being mugged somewhere.  I’ve experienced all three of those things looking at art.

To me, museums are portals between worlds. I could fill notebooks on my own travels between the walls of these jump-gates.

Maggie Fergusson edited a book in 2016 called Treasure Palaces: Great Writers Visit Great Museums. Twenty-four fellow magic seekers shared their own experiences of being swallowed up in museum pocket universes.

Aminatta Forna contributed her haunting trip through The Museum of Broken Relationships. Not the one on Hollywood Boulevard or in Covent Garden London, but the original museum in Zagreb, Croatia. Every object on display was a relic of a death, a divorce, or a mystery disappearance during a war. In this museum, the theme is clear: all love ends in a loss.

The museum is divided into a series of rooms, each with a fanciful name such as the Allure of Distance, or Whims of Desire. She wrote, “From Rage and Fury you can turn right and pass through Tides of Time and into Rites of Passage, which in turn leads to Paradox of Home. If you walk straight through Rage and Fury you will come to Resonance of Grief and the final room, Sealed by History”.

Museums are time capsules of the soul of a place. They capture the beauty of those who were a part of its living history. We are drawn to what is sleeping inside us; peace, answers, eccentricities, time travel.

Every seed within us can flower in the right museum. Are you curious about the size and shape of penises of fellow mammals? The Phallological Museum in Iceland might mark your next vacation destination. There is a hair museum in Independence, Missouri. Its paintings, jewelry, and wreaths are all made from the hair of the dead.

Those who crave a day of laughs can lose themselves in The Museum of Bad Art in Boston. We can snorkel through 470 figurative sculptures entwined with coral at the Cancun Underwater Museum or encourage another kind of wet dream by visiting The Museum of Sex in NYC.

Museums are often created by people with passions bordering on terror. Those collections are the very best ones to visit!

The Cinema Museum in London, for example, was a creation of an ageless 70-year-old named Ronald Grant who combined an encyclopedic knowledge of film history and over a million film-related images and items going back to the late 1800’s.

The museum’s original location was the former Lambeth workhouse where the 9-year-old Charlie Chaplain and his brother were “processed” in 1896. We learn that prior to X-Rated Movies there was Category H: “Horrific” and that metal tokens had various shapes by price so that ushers could feel the difference in the dark.

Museums require emotional, spiritual, and intellectual participation. Those taking selfies or checking emails cannot experience the art. They are “elsewhere”. It is just as rude to engage with your phone around art, as it would be on a date.

In what is often thought of as “traditional” art museums, I have observed people disconnected from their environment. They are removed from what it is they are seeing.I can spot them in an instant because they spend a little too long reading the museum labels and barely look at the art they identify.

People roam from painting to painting looking for something they can recognize. Often they only attend blockbuster traveling exhibits because they have “heard” of the artist’s name yet do not understand why what they are looking at is significant.

In the ancient world of Egypt and Greece, temples were repositories of the accumulated wealth of an entire society.

In the Middle Ages, churches, hospitals, and monasteries kept treasures to honor God. Sadly, many of those were donated as reparation for perceived sins.

In the 15th century, our relationship to our world changed. We developed new beliefs that we could shape our own destiny. Objects became functional as well as aesthetic.

In a way, the 16th century was our first tech boom. People collected technological instruments, sculptures, drawings, or any other objects that might be the next big thing. Think of the aesthetics of Steampunk or the worlds of Jules Verne Novels.

The 17th Century was the Golden Age of Art Collecting. A mark of prestige with the nobility, it was both a passion and an investment. The Middle Class with their love of paintings and objects from around the world became the Google and the Amazon of the newly wealthy merchant class. Exploration was in. Paintings were your photostream, proof of exotic worlds that you had access to.

Prior to the 17th and 18th century, art was only owned and collected by royalty and the mega-rich. It was a rare honor and a privilege to be allowed to see art in the place it was created to hang.

Later these palaces such as The Louvre in Paris or The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, offered to share their treasures with the public. They recognized they were privileged caretakers of these rarely seen creations.

When you enter a museum you are honoring those who spent a lifetime collecting the best work of the gifted, the skilled, the innovative, and insightful.

Museums are like any sacred place: the person next to you may be experiencing something truly profound in their life. An artist may be analyzing how something was painted. Historical paintings reveal what was lost in textbooks. Before photography, without landscape painters, we would not remember what our country looked like before machines and man changed its shape. Paintings show us our ancestors and the history of fabric and of wealth.

There is etiquette when visiting these public palaces. Never mock the artwork if you are not alone in a gallery. Do not laugh at art unless you are positive it is meant to be funny. Do not touch the art, or photograph it. The oils in your skin and a flash can damage its surface.

If you are taking selfies or photographing the art you are not in the museum for the art, you are there to show off. If you want to make an impression, buy an actual postcard from the museum and mail it to someone as a surprise.

Dress like you are going to lunch at the home of your friend’s very rich parents. Do not dress in a slutty way that will get those parents to disapprove of you. Wear shoes that are quiet and do not damage the floors or the carpets. Do not touch anything and always use your indoor voice.

The walls are alive in a museum but only to those with an attention span longer than a housefly.


Art Credit: Night At The Museum by Canadian Digital Manipulation Artist “Shorra”