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THE DAILY PIC: Think yesterday’s Pic was strange? I’ll give you strange. I caught this new piece by Jordan Wolfson, titled “Female Figure”, yesterday at David Zwirner, a few days before the end of its run. “All” it is is a superbly crafted animatronic sculpture of a woman that dances for a few minutes as you watch, its every motion perfectly matching the motions of a real human being … with pole-dancing skills. (Click on the image to see her – sorry, it – move.) Most eerie of all – what makes it seem utterly alive – is the way its gaze locks with yours and then follows your eyes wherever you go in the room. You’re glad this femme fatale is tethered to her mirror (getting a woman to bipedal around in high heels is still beyond the reach of robotics, as it’s almost beyond the reach of flesh and blood) because if she were free to approach as she pleased, you’d have to take off running. (Note that perfect facial expressions are also beyond robotics, and Wolfson hides that fact by giving his figure a mask.)
Should most of the credit for this piece go to the engineers rather than the artist? Is it just a way-cool piece of tech? Sure – but remember that once upon a time, perspective was “just” a new technology, as were oil paints, but the first examples of their use count as landmark works of art.
I am also perfectly aware of the real and vital feminist issues that our android raises, and her ties to the cheesiest traditions of bad SciFi. But I’m afraid that I can’t keep all that in mind once her hips start swiveling. (Courtesy Jordan Wolfson, David Zwirner, New York, and Sadie Coles HQ, London)
The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Apr 17, 2014

THE DAILY PIC: Think yesterday’s Pic was strange? I’ll give you strange. I caught this new piece by Jordan Wolfson, titled “Female Figure”, yesterday at David Zwirner, a few days before the end of its run. “All” it is is a superbly crafted animatronic sculpture of a woman that dances for a few minutes as you watch, its every motion perfectly matching the motions of a real human being … with pole-dancing skills. (Click on the image to see her – sorry, it – move.) Most eerie of all – what makes it seem utterly alive – is the way its gaze locks with yours and then follows your eyes wherever you go in the room. You’re glad this femme fatale is tethered to her mirror (getting a woman to bipedal around in high heels is still beyond the reach of robotics, as it’s almost beyond the reach of flesh and blood) because if she were free to approach as she pleased, you’d have to take off running. (Note that perfect facial expressions are also beyond robotics, and Wolfson hides that fact by giving his figure a mask.)

Should most of the credit for this piece go to the engineers rather than the artist? Is it just a way-cool piece of tech? Sure – but remember that once upon a time, perspective was “just” a new technology, as were oil paints, but the first examples of their use count as landmark works of art.

I am also perfectly aware of the real and vital feminist issues that our android raises, and her ties to the cheesiest traditions of bad SciFi. But I’m afraid that I can’t keep all that in mind once her hips start swiveling. (Courtesy Jordan Wolfson, David Zwirner, New York, and Sadie Coles HQ, London)

The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.


THE DAILY PIC:  This is “Purple Hair/Purple Coat/Snow”, one of the compellingly strange new photos by Laurie Simmons now on view at Salon 94 gallery on the Bowery in New York. Simmons got her models to wear masks made in Russia for “cosplay”, the Japanese-born craze in which people dress up like cartoon characters or superheroes. Simmons’s pictures bring the genre’s morphing of human and doll to its apogee. And of course the pose in Simmons’s photo is of someone shooting a selfie. This makes perfect sense given cosplay’s intensely narcissistic essence: Your costume gives you huge eyes, but they are meant to be admired rather than to be used for admiring others. (Courtesy the artist and Salon 94, New York)
The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Apr 16, 2014

THE DAILY PIC: This is “Purple Hair/Purple Coat/Snow”, one of the compellingly strange new photos by Laurie Simmons now on view at Salon 94 gallery on the Bowery in New York. Simmons got her models to wear masks made in Russia for “cosplay”, the Japanese-born craze in which people dress up like cartoon characters or superheroes. Simmons’s pictures bring the genre’s morphing of human and doll to its apogee. And of course the pose in Simmons’s photo is of someone shooting a selfie. This makes perfect sense given cosplay’s intensely narcissistic essence: Your costume gives you huge eyes, but they are meant to be admired rather than to be used for admiring others. (Courtesy the artist and Salon 94, New York)

The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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THE DAILY PIC:  The sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux painted this wild little image in about 1870, and it’s now one of the most impressive and surprising pieces in the survey of his work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The canvas shows his wife giving birth (so I’m not sure why the experts are in doubt about its date). It must be one of the first – and only – Old Master pictures to document that moment. Whatever the drawing’s relationship to an actual scene Carpeaux might have witnessed, it is amazing that he could conceive of birthing in such grandly romantic terms, and that he would want to claim to have made a record of it.
The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Apr 15, 2014

THE DAILY PIC:  The sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux painted this wild little image in about 1870, and it’s now one of the most impressive and surprising pieces in the survey of his work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The canvas shows his wife giving birth (so I’m not sure why the experts are in doubt about its date). It must be one of the first – and only – Old Master pictures to document that moment. Whatever the drawing’s relationship to an actual scene Carpeaux might have witnessed, it is amazing that he could conceive of birthing in such grandly romantic terms, and that he would want to claim to have made a record of it.

The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.


THE DAILY PIC: This is a 1961 news shot of the giant called Eddie Carmel, who was made famous in a photo by Diane Arbus that’s now in a Jewish Museum show, and that Arthur Lubow studied at wonderful length in yesterday’s New York Times. (The Arbus estate, famous for its crankiness, wouldn’t allow the museum to release a press image of her picture – even though you’d think that its central duty would be to spread word of Arbus’s art as widely as possible, and to have it discussed. You can see her shot here.)
The only thing I’d add to Lubow’s lovely account is that Arbus’s image is more artificial, and less observational, than it seems at first. The contrast between the giant and his parents isn’t only the product of his vast size. Arbus has chosen to light him with an on-camera flash that casts a huge shadow on the back wall, and that hides how far forward he is in the space and how far back they are.  Anyone looks giant lit that way; Eddie looks that much bigger.
The original caption to my news image came clean: “The camera angle makes Eddie Carmel’s huge feet look even bigger”. Arbus’s image was just as tricky; the gap may not be as vast as we think between her early career in fashion fakery and her later work in “truthful” art.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (Photograph © Bettmann/CORBIS)
For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Apr 14, 2014

THE DAILY PIC: This is a 1961 news shot of the giant called Eddie Carmel, who was made famous in a photo by Diane Arbus that’s now in a Jewish Museum show, and that Arthur Lubow studied at wonderful length in yesterday’s New York Times. (The Arbus estate, famous for its crankiness, wouldn’t allow the museum to release a press image of her picture – even though you’d think that its central duty would be to spread word of Arbus’s art as widely as possible, and to have it discussed. You can see her shot here.)

The only thing I’d add to Lubow’s lovely account is that Arbus’s image is more artificial, and less observational, than it seems at first. The contrast between the giant and his parents isn’t only the product of his vast size. Arbus has chosen to light him with an on-camera flash that casts a huge shadow on the back wall, and that hides how far forward he is in the space and how far back they are.  Anyone looks giant lit that way; Eddie looks that much bigger.

The original caption to my news image came clean: “The camera angle makes Eddie Carmel’s huge feet look even bigger”. Arbus’s image was just as tricky; the gap may not be as vast as we think between her early career in fashion fakery and her later work in “truthful” art.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (Photograph © Bettmann/CORBIS)

For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.


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