Holiday Gift Guide for the Contemporary Art Lover

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There is no reason a painting should look like anything. And yet every painting does look like something. It looks like whatever the artist wanted it to look like.

A landscape looks like a tree or a forest or a field or the sea, because the painter wanted it to look like that. A portrait looks like the person who sat for it, because the painter wanted it to look like that.

The first time I saw an abstract painting I was confused by what I was looking at. I could not make out what I was seeing because I did not know what I was supposed to be seeing.

Modern abstract art is made by artists who want their paintings to look like nothing in nature and nothing in culture. But every painting still looks like something; you just can’t see what it is.

“Conceptual art is art in which the concept is the most important aspect of the work. The idea behind the concept is often more interesting than the visual appearance of the piece.” –Wikipedia

“Artists who choose to work in this medium are referred to as conceptual artists, or simply conceptualists.” –Wikipedia

Conceptual art, was a movement that started at some point around mid-1960s-1970s. Concpetual artists attempt to express ideas via words and/or objects. For example, an artist could take items from an everyday life (i.e. wood, paint, rope) and create a piece that has a message behind it that can be interpreted by everyone in multiple ways. It’s a way for artists to get their messages across without being censored because their words were not actually said out loud but put into action; which means it doesn’t matter how much you dislike what they’re saying, you can’t censor them because you can’t shut them up.

Example: One such example would be Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain”. Fountain was a basic urinal turned upside down and signed “R. Mutt 1917”, an anonymous signature that was later confirmed to be his. This piece was rejected from being displayed in the

This is the time of year when we cobble together lists of things that other people might like. And, as usual, it’s a challenge. We rarely agree on anything, and even when we do, there’s the risk that one of us would get a thing and then the other wouldn’t.

And yet, somehow, this year it was easy to agree on an item: the boxed set of books by Elena Ferrante, one of whose pseudonyms is Elena Ferrante. She is an Italian author and has written an astonishing series of novels about two women in Naples who have been friends since childhood and remain friends despite great differences in their lives.

Toward the beginning of the series (which we are still reading) they start writing a book together. The book they are writing becomes a shared project within the larger story they tell each other, but also provides a way for them to resolve issues from their past. The result is a literary experience unlike any other: captivating, suspenseful and utterly unique.

The books are called My Brilliant Friend , The Story of a New Name , Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay , The Story of the Lost Child , The Story of the Desperate Woman . If anyone you know likes complex novels full of vivid

What I like about these works is that they allow the viewer to interpret them in a way that might be meaningful. There’s an opportunity for the viewer to bring their own experiences, emotions and thoughts into the work.

Abstract art is a form of visual art that eschews representationalism, the attempt to depict an object or a scene in literal, realistic terms. In its place, abstract artists employ various visual devices to provoke an emotional response from the viewer. These can include the use of color, form and line coupled with expressive marks and brushstrokes.

The term “abstract art” was coined by the British art critic Roger Fry in 1910. He used it to describe paintings which contained no representational motifs but which used color, form and/or line in non-mimetic ways. The French artist Paul Cézanne is widely recognized as one of the first painters to develop abstract techniques within his work, using geometric shapes such as circles and squares to structure his compositions.

It wasn’t until the early part of the 20th century that artists started creating abstract art as we now know it. This was partly as a result of a new willingness among artists to experiment with new styles and materials, but also because of radical changes in philosophy and aesthetics across Europe brought about by World War I and its aftermath.*

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