Sunday, October 24, 2010

She ain't got no money in the bank-SY

Lazy Sundays are the greatest except I usually get nothing done and plod around in my pjs looking completely disheveled. It doesn't help that it has been raining all day and therefore adding to my complete lack of interest in life. If anything I wish for a thunderstorm cause they're so awesome to watch, especially in front of our massive window... just need to grab the popcorn and mittens (it's freezing) and I'd be set.

What will the practice of art history be like in 200 years? I can't even imagine what the art world will be like in 10 years, so much changes yearly depending on a plethora of factors. I'd like to think that Street Art and graffiti, our vilified topic of the day, will be more greatly appreciated as it's not just vandalism and politically charged statements... it's about being creative too.

It's hard to speak about street art without mentioning this name:
Banksy's appeal is that we don't know who he is and his work involves a level of espionage and secrecy that often results in him being accused of vandalism for vandalism's sake. 
A quick re-wind: Banksy is a British born street/graffiti artist who's work often deals with political satire and makes commentaries on our pop culture in addition to being a social commentary. To create his highly detailed works he uses a combination of stenciling and free hand graffiti, often with graffiti writing to make his point. 
Banksy recently breached a new frontier with his first film Exit Through The Gift Shop which I've finally started to watch. It's received unanimous praise and has some ridiculous approval rating (I think it's something like 97% percent). The best line of the film is the truest to it's meaning: Banksy - 'Street art has a short life span so it needed documenting.' This is the premise of the film, not meant as hype or to cause controversy, but to show you the actual world frame by frame. It also asks you to evaluate the art of now.
It's pretty spectacularly hilariously amazingly interesting and I seriously recommend it. Believe me when I say, the trailer, which had me laughing my butt off, is only a miniscule fraction of how good it is.
The film is narrated by Rhys Ifans and it is not just a documentary following Banksy, but actually is an expose documenting the beginning of the monumental movement that has become Street Art, which Ifans states is 'the biggest counter cultural movement since punk.' Other than Banksy, the pivotal character is a hilarious little Frenchman by the name of Thierry Guetta, who brings this whole project to life... that's all I'm gonna say, you need to watch him cause he's funny as hell.
There are so many stellar moments in this film, I lost count after 40 but one of the best parts is the beginning which is a montage of clips showing many different graffiti artists set to Richard Hawley's song 'Tonight the Streets are Ours' It's a bloody hilarious and beautiful little contrast that sets the film off with a visual BANG! 

Here are a few Banksy works that I'm particularly enamored with at this time... many people know his rat series or the girl with the balloons or the kissing policemen. These are some new ones I discovered on his website (

Something I'm intrigued to find out about Banksy, is whether he takes himself seriously. I'm speculating that he's actually a pretty intellectual guy with a sense of humor. 
I'm taking a teeny detour to showcase Banksy's more intellectual side and that he is questioning... just like everyone else 'What IS art?'

I think this is brilliant, using an iconic image like Monet's Le Basin aux Nympheas and putting his street art, grimy spin on it. It shows that he's not an empty vessel, he's playing with our notions of art and popular culture. 

Here he is playing with Edward Hopper's similarly iconic painting Nighthawks and with a few small adjustments changes the image to be a commentary on English hooligans in his work Are you using that chair?

He has a brain and an aptitude for knowing what is appropriate when and how to catch our interests. This series from his website shows some of his planning process before he carries out a work: canvasing a location, sketching multiple ideas, the final execution and what happens after.
We're gonna say adieu to Banksy and move on to my inspiration for this post: 

JR - he's 27 year old street artist from France who uses photography as his form of expression. His photographs are blown up on a massive scale and then they are put up as posters around the world, often in slums. I'd never really been exposed to his work until this week because he was the recipient of the TED humanitarian award worth $100,000 that he can put towards any charity of his choice. 
Some of his 'exhibitions' include Face2Face - a project where he took photographs of Israeli and Palestinians laughing and put them side by side, often grouping them by occupation or age to prove that we are all equals. Another project called Women saw him travel the world to remote locations in Africa, Cambodia, India and Brazil and put up massive images of women as a testament to their strength in the community. And his latest project is the Wrinkles of a City and is taking place in Spain and China. 
Take a look, they're beautiful especially when people are interacting with them. These next two are two of my favorites because of the colors.
In response to his win JR humbly said: "I go to local communities, forgotten communities or antagonistic communities, and try to energize them and bring them together and make them think, through the medium of art. I would want my 'wish' to be something like that, but on a global scale."
This image is my favorite, the sheer scale on top of the beautiful women is just breathtaking.
His newest project: Wrinkles of a City
He's an example of street art with a message and I'm so proud to see that. I laugh as I write this, but these are some of the moments when I'm supremely proud to be a person. We're capable of incredible things.

I included these next two images for good measure cause they're just so comical and amazingly artistic. These 'transformers' are by a student in North Carolina called Joseph Carnevale. He was arrested for vandalism after and I can see why, it's kinda sorta dangerous moving the pylons... that's beside the point. They're another great example of the many mediums street art can come in and they're a testament to creativity. Powa to you bruva.
- Images from Google
You didn't think I'd do a post that was completely devoid of any fashion comparisons did you? Sorry to burst your bubble... Here are several designers who have employed graffiti-esque looks a la Banksy... kinda.
The effervescent Vivienne Westwood for her Spring 2007 show
Douglas Hannant for this season - Fall 2010 
The design duo of Proenza Schouler for this season as well.
Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel's Resort collection in 2007 - the logo has a slightly streetwear look to it.

Another designer who has employed graffiti in his work is Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton when he designed a capsule collection to commemorate the late Stephen Sprouse - a fashion designer who meshed urban grunge with New York chic. The collection heavily featured Sprouse's Louis Vuitton graffiti logo in neon colors and his graffiti rose. 
- Photos courtesy of WWD

This is a picture I took one day in London a couple years back along the banks of the Thames. I remember being so excited and thinking I'd found a Banksy but after a bit of digging I discovered that it's actually the work of a guy called Cartrain. He and Banksy are friends on MySpace so I guess there's no hostility over Cartrain's very similar looking rats...

- Life is good

Listening to: Rihanna - 'Only Girl in the World'
Observations: How cold it is in Canada and how I can't wait to be tanned and go to training camp already
Craving: for myself to stop being so ADD

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