subscribe: Posts | Comments

Foundlabs Conversation: French Drawings from 1500-1800

Foundlabs Conversation: French Drawings from 1500-1800

The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. is running a show called “Renaissance to Revolution: French Drawings from the National Gallery of Art, 1500-1800″ from October 1, 2009 to January 31, 2010. I had the enormous opportunity to talk to Margaret Morgan Grasselli, the curator in charge of putting the whole show together.

Part 1: 16th and 17th Centuries

Part 2: 18th Century

As a quick summary, in editing the video for the interview, I found it very hard to condense three centuries into less than 15 minutes. And to further condense, I will say that it is interesting that the French art in this period is strongly delineated in terms of a political timeline, that a king in the 16th century very consciously kicked off an artistic movement by inviting established Italian artists to France. As the kings changed, so too did the art, such that the art that would glorify kings became more ornate and “French.” Finally, as France moved toward revolution (beginning in 1789), the art also reflected that of the people aesthetic, with neoclassicism.

The exhibit is great– go see it if you are in D.C. before the end of January 2010.

For more on the events that occurred during this period in France, the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art.

Found Interviews of Maya Lin

Found Interviews of Maya Lin

Perhaps most famous for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. she designed (shown in the picture), Maya Lin is an artist and architect whom I have found to be a terrific speaker. For a blog whose purpose is about presenting artists and their contexts– this one– she is an inspiration.

In this clip, she speaks about the meaning of that most famous memorial and what she thinks it means. I think the most interesting thing is she talks about viewing the monument as “a book out of doors,” not a structure. I’m doing this a little out of order, but this is a clip from (a site I will writing more about in a later post) on Youtube, and I think they removed the full version from their site. However, look at the last clip below for more on Maya Lin (from

This is a longer 8 minute video on Lin’s “Systematic Landscapes.” It is a documentary done [very well] for the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle by one Tyler Potts. I like that she discusses being uncertain creatively at point (spoiler: she gets past that in a very substantial way):

Here, she speaks more generally about her creative process and work. This is an interview conducted by Kathryn Adamchick, the Director of Education at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis:

And finally, for those who have the time, here is a long presentation by Maya Lin of her more recent works. By recent, I mean, her presentation was held a month ago (on September 17, 2009) at the California Academy of Sciences. This video is taken from To watch in full, you will either need to click here or the “Watch Full Video” button in the video player below.

The image is from the Vietname Veterans Memorial Fund.

Street Art: Found Interviews of Shepard Fairey (Obey Giant), WK Interact, D*Face, Faile

Street Art: Found Interviews of Shepard Fairey (Obey Giant), WK Interact, D*Face, Faile

The concept of “graffiti” has evolved beyond vandalism and has taken on a purposeful message. Like any art form before it, street art has changed along the way, but perhaps more significant is the way that it has grown beyond fly-by-night antics to something powerful and relevant in the current world.

In many instances, it’s a somewhat “messy” art form, due in part to the media (spray paint, Sharpies, posters) and in part to an intent to attract attention, but in a humorous and/or subversive way. With the 2008 Obama campaign, many of the artists (along with other contemporary artists) devoted their attention to a new cause, and the public noticed. Most notably, the Shepard Fairey (Obey Giant) version of Obama’s image became an icon. The real story there, though, is not that it happened, but that the public paid attention the way it did; the aesthetics of street art have increasingly become a part of more “mainstream” advertising, media, and culture.

But Shepard Fairey/Obey and his art is just one part of the picture. From Banksy (one of the “pioneers”) to Fairey/Obey to the up-and-coming generation, there is an evolving culture and approach to the art. It appears that in addition to a message of freedom and independence (some pushing the boundaries towards anarchy), there is a deeper expression of unrest and a call for an examination of society. It is and isn’t as simple as a form of self-expression that has been juxtaposed against accepted order.

I’ve found some videos of Shepard Fairey/Obey Giant and WK Interact– some of the recognizable leaders– as well as of the younger generation: represented here by D*Face and Faile. In addition to these videos, Streetsy, a site on street art, has a list of “40+ Street Artists You Should Know Besides Banksy.” Obey, WK, D*Face, and Faile are all listed there.

Obey & WK Interact Collaboration at Agnes B. (said to be Tokyo/Paris 2008):
The video’s audio has been removed, but the look at how and what the two do is an interesting comparison.

WK’s Explanation of the Collaboration:

Interview with Shepard in two parts (from Karmaloop, a street clothing site (since Shepard Fairey also does clothing)):
Part 1

Part 2

Interview of D*Face from BBC Blast, a BBC UK initiative aimed at getting teens involved in the arts :

Interview of Faile from BBC Blast :

The image of Shepard Fairey’s Obama was taken from his site.