Tuesday, June 16, 2009

C and D: R. Crumb and The Daily Heller

For some time now, I have been receiving an email daily blog called the Daily Heller, which is produced by Print Magazine and written by Steven Heller. Today's blog was about Cartoonist R. Crumb.

First about Heller. I was given his book "Education of an Illustrator" which he collaborated with Marshall Arisman, one of my favorite illustrators. According to Wikopaedia " Steven Heller, (born 1950), American art director, journalist, critic, author, and editor who specializes on topics related to graphic design.
Steven Heller is author and co-author of many works on the history of illustration, typography, and many subjects related to graphic design. More than eighty titles and a vast number of magazine articles attest to his productive and thoughtful output. He has written articles for Affiche, Baseline, Creation, Design, Design Issues, Eye, Graphis, How, I.D., Oxymoron, Mother Jones, The New York Times Book Review, Print, Speak, and U&lc magazines.

For thirty-three years Heller was a senior art director of U&lc, which stands for upper and lower case in typography. Currently, he is co-chair with Lita Talarico of the MFA Designer as Author program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.[1] He has collaborated on books with graphic designer, Louise Fili, who is his wife, as well as with others including the Design Dialogue series."

Ok, so now to R. Crumb. Here's the Daily Heller. Wikepaedia has this to say about Rober Crumb. "Robert Dennis Crumb (born August 30, 1943), often credited simply as R. Crumb, is an American artist and illustrator recognized for the distinctive style of his drawings and his critical, satirical, subversive view of the American mainstream. He currently lives in Southern France with his wife Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

Crumb was a founder of the underground comix movement and is regarded as its most prominent figure. Though one of the most celebrated of comic book artists, Crumb's entire career has unfolded outside the mainstream comic book publishing industry. One of his most recognized works is the "Keep on Truckin'" comic, which became a widely distributed fixture of pop culture in the 1970s. Others are the characters Devil Girl, Fritz the Cat, and Mr. Natural. He also illustrated the album covers for Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company and the compilation album The Music Never Stopped: Roots of the Grateful Dead."

I have to say that Keep on Truckin and Mr. Natural were images that immediately take me back to the 1970s when I was 12-18 years old. I was heavily into this style of comic, due in part to Crumb's Greatful Dead and Janis Joplin cover work along with the images of MAD magazine. I know that more than one of my denim school binders had my rendition of KoT drawn in blue BiC pen--a favorite doodle. Mr. Natural's HUGE boot was a source of much pleasure.

Kudos to Steven Heller for filling in two letters on round two! Go through his blog to the interview with Crumb...a frank and fun conversation.

Monday, June 15, 2009

B: Boone Oakley Agency

www.booneoakley.com is an agency that someone on Linkedin pointed out a couple of weeks ago. This is a really cool concept for a website. They use YouTube exclusively to present their online portfolio. The hand-drawn graphics are simple but very effective, the music is catchy, and the shark thing is really cool. Visit the site. It is really out of the box thinking.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lap Two A: Abstract Art

I decided to continue the sequential alphabet organization to the blog, so it’s back to A for lap two. I spent a couple of hours last week with my friend and recusant artist Greg Vandevisser (http://www.vandevisser.com/) in his studio. This field trip was much-needed. Greg is focusing on a change in his work, which is primarily abstract. He has some amazing canvases and assemblages.

According to the website http://paintings.name/ , “Although native cultures have always produced arts containing abstract elements, today's perception of abstract art dates back to 1910, when Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque invented cubism, which within half a decade, led to the pure abstract art created by Piet Mondrian and Russian styles such as constructivism and suprematism.” Just imagining the mind-set it took to “invent” cubism in that time and place is boggling to the mind. While visiting several exhibits of significant works of this genre, you can’t help but be amazed at the pure risk these artists were taking.

I think it was less significant a break for Mondrian and Kandinsky than for Picasso and Braque. Their work is an extension and development of the initial work. But the first efforts really took a leap of faith to achieve. Then there’s the whole Dada thing and Surrealism. We’ll save that for another time.

Daughter Alexis and I differed on our feelings about “Les Demoisselles d'Avignon” when we had the opportunity to stand together in front of this mammoth work (both size and impact). I still think that it looks like Picasso was going somewhere with the painting and messed up one of the faces. But that’s just me. I am a big fan of Guernica (who isn’t?) and like his bulls. The Partridge Family bus ruined Mondrian for me. Just kidding. His work is another one that makes a much greater impact in person than in pictures.

If we realize that every representation of visual art is an abstraction by its nature of not actually being the thing represented, then this category is really all art. That aside, abstract art and modernism has created a dilemma for the post modern era—what is our current identity?

I have included my own latest abstraction “Ignition.”