Tag Archives: WRITING PROMPTS

Is Body Art Art?

Car shows, fashion events, and corporate dinners become so much more lively and spicier if the organisers pepper them with thematically illuminated naked girls.

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Note how a SINGLE body art model created jobs for TWO photographers.

Need to boost attendance? Bring out the nudes with T-shirts drawn over their tits, not put on their bodies!

Besides increased traffic, and cheer, the benefits of body art are many and varied.

Think of the workplace atmosphere, for instance.

Most corporate IT policies discourage googling “nude girls”, effectively depriving men of a third of their motivation (I am not aware of any company banning the search for power or money). It may not be OK to google nude girls, but “body art” is totally legit. It is art, it helps intellectual development, and promotes friendships by giving men something to share with their mates over coffee breaks.

Russian MPs during a Parliament session

Russian MPs during a Parliament session, it is not body art, but again, corporate slaves are not as immune as MPs, and body art is what can save their skins.

Body art can help a good cause, like anti-fur movement. It adds “cute” to “potty”, making the whole affair less embarrassing for the activists.

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Even hardcore feminists find it difficult to object to the objectification of body art models because, well, a woman can do anything she wants to her body, and no man shall advise her what’s appropriate and what’s not.

Not that men are going to start telling girls it’s not decent to bum around topless.

It is a win-win type of art, that motivated countless men to get divorced, buy a Ferrari and start a new life. It also inspired catpaining, the body art for cats, that I detest even slightly more than the traditional body art. Facebook wants more than just a cute or grumpy pussy now. It craves for some domestic violence to the domesticated.

One of the pics in the gallery earned $15K for the cat’s owner. Catpainting can be financially satisfying, not just the fun you get when the neighbour cat gets a heart attack as it ventures into your garden.

P.S. Before you decide to crush me with the argument that body art can be art if it is performed by Marina Abromivich, please note the joking character of this post, which is a teasing prequel to an essay on nudes in painting, and the role of Degas in turning the nude into the naked.

Animals are bad for you – Part II

I am sure you’ve embraced the idea that animals make people suffer from Part I – we talked of ruined sofas, broken electronics, blocked roads, and general harassment by animals that people start experiencing quite early, like illustrated by Filippo Palizzi here:

Fennel Cart attacked by Goats, 1857

Fennel Cart attacked by Goats, 1857

Or here:

Filippo Palizzi, Agnelli e pecore alla fonte, 1957

Filippo Palizzi, Agnelli e pecore alla fonte, 1957

There’s one more real story you need to know to understand why revenge against animals is a good thing.

It took place in Viterbo, Italy, in 1367. Like in the painting above, it is about water, animals, and people.

Viterbo was a place where four popes had been elected by the time it all happened, with the reigning Pope also present at his summer residence there.

The medieval historian who described the event was quite brief, but there’s much to be read between the lines.

“A member of the cardinal’s retinue, whom others might call master of the pope’s household in Viterbo, was washing the cardinal’s pretty little dog in the Fountain of Scarlano. A servant woman of a citizen of Viterbo, who had arrived there just at that moment to fetch water shouted at him. Insulted by her enraged indignation, he killed her, which sparked others of the neighbourhood to take up arms and seek revenge. Whereupon, others of the papal court came out into the fray, which in turn increased still further the number of Viterbesi who came out into the streets.”

Now that’s a lesson in Christian love, isn’t it? Because no one of the religious community wondered if killing a woman for using a few special Italian words to stop the cardinal’s henchman was a bit harsh.

“In great numbers they chanted, “Long live the Pope and death to the foreigners”.

This is something I could not understand at first. I mean, “death to dog-owners who wash their dogs in public fountains” would be more logical. But “death to the foreigners”? Then I learned the Cardinal in question was from Carcassonne. A-ha! A Frenchman! And a French dog!

“With great rioting they stormed the castle where the pope was in residence and there in front of his door killed many soldiers and servants of the cardinals”.

A pretty little doggie brought about a carnage. This riot went down in history as “Riot over the cardinal’s pretty little dog”. 

Remember, pets are very dangerous, especially those pretty little dogs that shake like a street pusher pressed hard by Bruce Willis in a cop movie.

So, when you’re next time in Milan, go to their modern art gallery that has 19th century works by Italian artists, and enjoy Palizzi paintings.

Guest blogger who never speaks: stoned since birth

I am delighted to introduce Signor Facepalmo from Siena, Italy. He agreed to share his observations about people and art, even though it is sitting and not speaking in front of large audiences that is his forte. Over to him!


Kids call me the Super FacepalMan.

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I have not always been like this.

You know my cousin, The Thinker, don’t you?

rodin-thinkerI was more like him, with my fist supporting my head, deep in thought. That is, until some ten years ago. Oh, the happy days… Thinking in sync with the Thinker, not caring about humans watching us as long as they didn’t invade our personal space.

Yes, we also want to have a safety bubble around us.

More specifically:

Please.
Don’t.
Touch.
The genitals!

It is the worst. I hate it when a good-for-nothing chic or yob wows how cold my marble pebbles are. I can say “cold dick” in 50 different languages, like a friggin’ 3PO* and I don’t even know which nations speak the damn languages!

Sorry, I don’t usually swear.

My cousin is better off: he’s perched on a high pedestal, outdoors. There’s the predicament of pigeons, rain, and even snow sometimes, but that’s an expected occupational hazard for someone who’s bronze.

We were made to inspire contemplation. We were the proverbial “look before you leap” and “haste makes waste”.

It was a fine concept! It had worked perfectly well before the Internet.

The Web made everything instantaneous, and anything that’s instantaneous became fashionable. Dash off, rush in, speed up, jump, dive! It does not matter anymore if the pool has been filled up with water. You get to be a bigger hero if it was not, provided there’s a friend who uploads your cry of surprise to YouTube the moment you hit the tiled floor.

Have people become faster and cleverer than their ancestors? If the growing number of visitors who attempt to familiarise themselves with my private parts is any indicator, the answer’s no.

Artists are especially depressing.

To sculpt me, my creator had to study for 5 years, and then practice for some 15 years more to get the commission. It still took him full three months to chisel me out, you know.

Artists today are instantaneous. Snap, swoosh, wow, twit. Next, please! Dab, slap, blot, twit. Next!

Modern artists behave as if they are going to live forever and die next minute – both at the same time. Crazy. Art is not about snapping out artworks, it is about working out a masterpiece. One is enough, ask Bobby McFerrin! It takes time to think up, to learn, and to reflect to create a masterpiece. No, they say, we live in the fast lane! We have uploaded ten thousand new photos on Instagram while you were grumbling. Like us! LIke us on Facebook too!

If Shakespeare lived today, he could come up with a modern version of “Loves Labours Lost”:

“Shall I command thy Like? I may: shall I enforce
thy Like? I could: shall I entreat thy Like? I will.”

Thank God he’d died before the Like Generation took over.

The Thinker once told me Modern art was no longer about skill, but about the ability to create a universe of possible meanings in the mind of the observer, and that it required mental skill on the side of the artist rather than the prosaic abilities to paint or sculpt. In short, a modern artist is not sending across a message to make the observer reflect upon it. A modern, truly modern artist provides observers with a stimulus that helps them create their own idiosyncratic ideas.

I blame the doves. With so much shit flying around no one could keep thinking straight, even the Thinker.

In all professions, one has to study for years to make something that has a molecule of value. How come art is different? Isn’t it why there are so many young people today who want to “study art”? They just hate studying, that’s why. They hope to find a critic who would discover that “universe of meanings” in their “snap-dab-splash-twit” work.

And when they don’t find one, they come to me and point fingers, and touch the private parts.

There’s one kind of people I hate more than artists, and that’s executives.

You know an executive when you see one: boardroom haircut, face of a smiling shark, commanding his kids to keep moving on, because they have 30 minutes for Palazzo Publico (that’s where I happen to reside). They are focused, fit for anything that may come their way, and they always know how many tourist attractions in which order they are going to see in how much time.

Guys, if you’ve got a body of steel, a precise action plan, and a clear objective, chances are you are an intercontinental ballistic missile. And the best thing to do is to push the self-destruct button.

There may be no salvation for executives, but artists can still find their way to it. Except that it won’t be the fast lane they say they live in.

Don’t disappoint me.

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Footnotes:

*) 3PO is a robot that can translate a million different languages into the Standard Galactic. If you don’t know him, sing hallelujah: it means you are immune to the Star Wars mania (or have been stranded on an uninhabited island for the last 40 years).


Editor’s note:

I don’t agree with everything Signor Facepalmo said in his guest appearance, but I have to admit much of what he rumbles about resonates with my views. What about you? 

Naming the dog on my plate

Renaissance was not just an age of genius painters and sculptors working for the very rich, but a period when art – via designer tableware – found its way into relatively modest houses as well.

Today, souvenir shops in Italy are stacked floor to ceiling with clay pots and plates painted in two or three “typical” designs that anyone who has spent a week there becomes allergic to. I suspect the painting is done by machines, or rather printed to look painted.

Here’s a typical representative:

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Renaissance designs were much more varied.

2014-07-24-5498This 15th century dog is graphically a thing of the 20th century.

And the blue wild boar is simply irresistible:

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IKEA  and modern printing technologies have almost exterminated handiwork individuality: even if there’s some hand-painted tableware in the house, it’s not used, but stored. This is sad, for a plate with an individually perfect or flawed drawing can liven up even a most boring dinner. Just imagine a set of plates with the dogs, with which having a tiny individual difference. They could even be given names.

PS The jug and plate come from a museum in Prato, a place few tourists have ever been to, even though it is just 30 km from Florence and Tuscany’s second largest city. 


 

To sample stuff in this blog, click on About at the top: there’s a collection of links to some of my best or typical posts. There’s an Art & Fun shelf if you feel like in need of a laugh.

Art is next to snacks on ground floor

Vending machines sell things we need, when and where we need them, fast & cheap. At least, that’s the idea, right?

Take the vending machines for ballet flats at night clubs. They are said to be very busy at the wee hours when stiletto’s begin killing their owners.

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Take the anti-rage/anti-stress machine that smashes a plate or a statuette for you (and yes, you have to feed it money to do it) – those can be set up anywhere, and everywhere they would be welcome.

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In Japan, they are rumored to have vending machines for everything, from veggies and eggs to sex toys and fortune predictions. That’s the future. The Japanese bra vending machine, in which the consumer has to punch in her breast size, puzzles me a bit, because I thought all that fuss about exaggerating the size was a typically male thing.  Bramachine

I understand why a marriage machine dispensing rings and certificates can be in demand, and where this demand might be found in concentrated form. I am both hands up for baguette machines (provided the bread’s a real baguette), and even for Swap-o-matic that allows you to exchange things you don’t need for things you need even less but don’t know about it yet.

a98881_new-vending_5-swapI thought art would never feature in the list of products and services that can be bought from a vending machine. It is not that art is special. It’s just the need. Why would anyone want to buy an artwork in the middle of the night?

I was wrong. It is a growing industry. Art-o-mat took care of your need to buy authentic art anytime you’re overwhelmed by this burning desire.

They use converted cigarette machines to get you art:

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It is like a souvenirs seller, except that all souvenirs are made by people who have real names, are sold in very limited quantities, and most of them are really nice.

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Art-o-matic puts their machines in theatres, libraries, galleries, and other places where visitors get high on cultural fumes. And here they are, offering art to quench the thirst.

That’s clever, but the idea has been limited to the US so far… I wonder why?

If a nude gets alive she becomes naked

A few days ago a woman walked up to the most famous vagina by Gustave Courbet shown at D’Orsay Museum in Paris, sat down on the floor, spread her legs and presented a live version of the painting to happy public and panicking gallery keepers.

This gesture was applauded by feminists who saw it as a clever statement against… No, I neither know nor want to find out. If all dumb attempts at getting noticed were branded “art”, we’d celebrate the Darwin list of stupid deaths instead of taking it for its nominal value of benchmarking absolute idiocy.

Given that there are many more statues and pics of men with their genitals exposed than female nudes, I expect a wave of male exhibitionism, with statements ranging from the rather academic, “on the transcendence of genital obsession clouding critical judgement” to a commonplace truth like “mine is bigger”.

I can come up with a dozen of very clever messages for anyone willing to get naked in front of an audience, but whichever message is taken by the exhibitor, the net effect is always the same: someone is getting naked in public, and the police is called to the scene.  Policemen wrap the naked performer in a blanket, and – having secured the offender safely in his/her cell, remind each other to wash their hands with the brand of soap that kills 99% of germs.

The lady in question was taken to the local police station, and, I guess, was released soon afterwards, because what can be worse for police morale than a raging feminist crowd outside the station chanting their demands to free one of their own?

This transformation of Rodin’s Thinker is a good illustration of the creative process behind the act:

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PS IMPORTANT: If your point of view is different from mine, I’d love to hear your arguments!

To sample this blog, click on About at the top. It has links to some of my best or typical posts. There’s an Art & Fun shelf if you feel like in need of a laugh.

Death, sex, surrealism

Theo Mercier.

He’s been called the last dadaist, the new surrealist, a penis-obsessed maniac and the most scary artist whose art may give spectators nightmares for years after seeing his shows.

He is 30, French, extraordinarily talented and – what I find most important about him – he is not morbidly serious about himself.

Even when he creates surreal death (Desperanzo project) he stays playful:

Well, maybe not there. But here the playfulness is obvious:

Yesterday, as I was walking through a surrealist exhibition at the Pompidou Centre, I was NOT surprised to see a lot of his works (and many of the ticket-selling penis-related projects) almost immediately after the first two halls with works by the founding fathers of surrealism.

Here they are, all of them crazy guys, greeting exhibition’s visitors at the entrance. I wonder if you can put names to their faces, or rather their names to these faces. Most people – and a lot of people from the art world – can’t. And this is not about not knowing names. It is about not connecting rational knowledge of names and works under those names to real people. To remember someone’s face (unless it is very unusual) we need to connect emotionally, don’t we?

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Which is further proven by the exceptions: Picasso and Dali. They are resonating with people’s feelings, not just talking to them at the rational level.

The exhibition is packed with surrealist exhibits of sex and violence.

Cindy Sheman (above) is not the worst.

And of course healthy people get crowded around works with lighthearted take on sexuality: the space in front of Theo’s works is always packed. He is not simply attaching penises to everything that comes across his way.

There is a subtle message behind most of his genitalia endowed ceramics. I am not going to spoil the fun now. Just have a smile while looking at it.

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This gallery can help you get a bit closer to some of the items:

Enjoying the cocktail:

The happy couple:

I encourage all my readers to visit his website, and enjoy his talent.

Make sure you remember his face:

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He was not born just to be wild. He may become the new headmaster of surrealism.

Not that I am wishing his head to start off a new row in the exhibit gracing at the entrance. I mean, I wish the guy a long life full of new projects.

Thank you, the Daily post for inspiration!

P.S. Oh, and one thing I believe is important. The manager of Centre Georges Pompidou shall be fired. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a toilet / restroom/ WC in such a horrendous state as in this building. Half of cabins are barricaded by cleaning buckets because they’re out of order. The other half is overflowing with sewage because of clogging. The smell! The hygiene! It should be a national disgrace for France that one of its finest museums has been brought to this state of despair. The theatre begins at the cloackroom.