You Can Sleep in an Edward Hopper Painting at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: Is This the Next New Museum Trend?

Let's pretend our Fairy Art Mother is granting one wish—to spend the night inside the painting of your choice.

What painting will we each choose, and why?

Will you sleep out in the open, undisturbed by lions, a la Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy?

Or experience the voluptuous dreams of Frederic Leighton’s Flaming June?

Paul Gaugin’s portrait of his son, Clovis presents a tantalizing prospect for those of us who haven’t slept like a baby in decades…

The Nightmare by Herny Fuseli should chime with Gothic sensibilities…

And it’s a fairly safe bet that some of us will select Edward Hopper's Western Motel, at the top of this post, if only because we heard the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was accepting double occupancy bookings for an extremely faithful facsimile, as part of its Edward Hopper and the American Hotel exhibition.




Alas, if unsurprisingly, the Hopper Hotel Experience, with mini golf and a curated tour, sold out quickly, with prices ranging from $150 to $500 for an off-hours stay.

Ticket-holding visitors can still peer in at the room any time the exhibit is open to the public, but it’s after hours when the Instagramming kicks into high gear.

What guest could resist the temptation to strike a pose amid the vintage luggage and (bluetooth-enabled) wood paneled radio, filling in for the 1957 painting’s lone figure, an iconic Hopper woman in a burgundy dress?

The Art Institute of Chicago notes that she is singular among Hopper’s subjects, in that she appears to be gazing directly at the viewer.

But as per the Yale University Art Gallery, from which Western Motel is on loan:

The woman staring across the room does not seem to see us; the pensiveness of her stare and her tense posture accentuate the sense of some impending event. She appears to be waiting: the luggage is packed, the room is devoid of personal objects, the bed is made, and a car is parked outside the window.

Hopefully, those lucky enough to have secured a booking will have perfected the pose in the mirror at home prior to arrival. This “motel” is a bit of a stage set, in that guests must leave the painting to access the public bathroom that constitutes the facilities.

(No word on whether the theme extends to a paper “sanitized for your protection” band across the toilet, but there’s no shower and a security officer is stationed outside the room for the duration of each stay.)

The popularity of this once-in-a-lifetime exhibit tie-in may spark other museums to follow suit.

The Art Institute of Chicago started the trend in 2016 with a painstaking recreation of Vincent Van Gogh’s room at Arles, which it listed on Air BnB for $10/night.

Think of all the fun we could have if the bedrooms of art history opened to us...

Dog lovers could get cozy in Andrew Wyeth’s Master Bedroom.

Delacroix’s The Death of Sardanapalus (1827) would require something more than double occupancy for proper Instagramming.

Piero della Francesca’s The Dream of Constantine might elicit impressive messages from the sub-conscience...

Tuberculosis nothwithstanding, Aubrey Beardsley’s Self Portrait in Bed is rife with possibilities.

Or skip the cultural foreplay and head straight for the NSFW pleasures of The French Bed, a la Rembrandt’s etching.

Edward Hopper and the American Hotel will be traveling to the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields in June 2020.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, December 9 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates Dennison’s Christmas Book (1921). Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The Isamu Noguchi Museum Puts Online an Archive of 60,000 Photographs, Manuscripts & Digitized Drawings by the Japanese Sculptor

No matter how unfamiliar you may be with the work of Isamu Noguchi, you're likely to have encountered it, quite possibly more than once, in the form of a Noguchi table. Designed in the 1940s for the Herman Miller furniture company (in a catalog that also included the work of George Nelson, Paul László, and Charles Eames of the eponymous chair), it shows off Noguchi's distinctive aesthetic as well as many of his most acclaimed sculptures, set designs, and public spaces. That aesthetic could only have arisen from a singular artistic life like Noguchi's, which began in Los Angeles where he was born to an American mother and a Japanese father, and soon started crossing back and forth across both the Pacific and the Atlantic: a childhood spent around Japan, schooling and apprenticeship back in the U.S., a Guggenheim Fellowship in Paris, periods of study in China and Japan — and all that before age 30.

Now, thanks to the Noguchi Museum, we can take a closer look at not just the Noguchi table but all the fruits of Noguchi's long working life, which began in the 1910s and continued until his death in the 1980s. (He executed his first notable work, the design of the garden for his mother's house in Chigasaki, at just eight years old.)




The institution that bears his name recently digitized and made available 60,000 archival photographs, manuscripts, and digitized drawings, and also launched a digital catalogue raisonné designed to be updated with discoveries still to come about Noguchi's life and work. "The completion of a multiyear project, the archive now features 28,000 photographs documenting the artist’s works, exhibitions, various studios, personal photographs, and influential friends and colleagues," writes Hyperallergic's Alissa Guzman. "The wealth of imagery is overwhelming and also surprising, bringing attention to works we might not often associate with Noguchi."

Indeed, as the project's managing editor Alex Ross tells Guzman, the research process revealed "several significant artworks which were assumed to have been lost or destroyed," as well as "previously unattributed pieces that the archive is now able to confirm as works by Noguchi." The difficulty of confirming the authenticity of certain works speaks to the protean quality of Noguchi's art that goes hand-in-hand with its distinctiveness, a balance struck by few major artists of any era. And though quite a few of Noguchi's creations (and not just the table) have been described as timeless, no other body of work reflects quite so clearly the intermingling of East and West – a West that included the Old World as well as the New — that, having begun on economic and social levels, reached the aesthetic one in the century through which Noguchi lived. Explore his catalogue raisonné, and you may find that, no matter what part of the world you're from, you have more experience with Noguchi's work than you thought.

via Hyperallergic

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Lynda Barry’s New Book Offers a Master Class in Making Comics

In the same way you don’t have to like the way your liver looks for it to be able to function, you don’t have to like the way your drawings look for them to start to work.  —Lynda Barry

Want to feel more alive in the world?

Get back in touch with your inner four-year-old artist, using methods put forward by artist, educator, and g*ddamn national treasure Lynda Barry.

Making Comics, the latest book from the University of Wisconsin associate professor, MacArthur Genius, and Omega Institute faculty member, bypasses standardized professional skills such as inking, storyboarding, and lettering, in order to foment a deeper emotional connection between cartoonist and comic.




First things first, you can draw. Stop saying you can’t. You can.

Stop saying your drawings look like they were made by a four-year-old.

In Barry’s experience, the unfettered drawings of four-year-old artists are something to aim for.

As author and comics historian Chris Gavaler notes in his Pop Matters review:

Making Comics is a love letter to every child who ever picked up a crayon and started making marks with unselfconscious intensity. Those children include her college students. Like her readers, some arrive at class with artistic training and some arrive with none at all. The latter arrive having long forgotten the uninhibited style of image-making they understood instinctively as children. Finding each of those children is Barry's mission, and she is very very good at it.

Barry, who is childless, is keenly attuned to the sort of playful assignments that hold immediate appeal for children of all ages.

And she doles out instructions on a need to know basis, disarming the self-doubt and excuse-making that plague adult students who are presented with the big picture too early in the process.

In Making Comics, exercises include drawing with eyes closed, drawing with the non-dominant hand, two-handed drawing, simultaneous partner drawing, Exquisite Corpse, and transforming scribbles and coffee stains by teasing out whatever image they may suggest.

Barry also conveys precise instructions with regard to speed and materials, knowing that those can close as many windows as they open.

She’s battling the stifling impulse toward perfection, the impossible standards that cause so many to turn away from making pictures and stories as they mature.

Don’t sweat it! More rock, less talk! Unleash the monsters of your id! Invite unforeseen ghosts into the frame!

As Barry says:

….there are two working languages in human life. One is sort of top of the mind, what we’re conscious of. The other is this unconscious stuff that we might not know about or have access to. The way we access it is usually through this thing we call ‘the arts.’ Unfortunately, that has gotten removed from the regular daily experience of human life. What I’m trying to do is to show that there is a way that they can come together, and that you can make things in a way that makes you actually feel alive and present.

Read an excerpt of Lynda Barry’s Making Comics. Or purchase your own copy of Making Comics here.

Video at the top of the page courtesy of Art Book Walk-throughs & Reviews.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, December 9 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates Dennison’s Christmas Book (1921). Follow her @AyunHalliday.

10 Paintings by Edward Hopper, the Most Cinematic American Painter of All, Turned into Animated GIFs

The image of America is an image bound up with the movies. That even goes for America as represented in media other than film, suggesting a certain cinematic character in American life itself. No painter understood that character more thoroughly than Edward Hopper, an avid filmgoer who worked for a time creating movie posters. He even "storyboarded" his most famous 1942 Nighthawks, whose late-night diner remains the visual definition of U.S. urban alienation. And though Hopper's America also encompasses the countryside, never would his views of it feel out of place in a work of film noir. His cinematic paintings have in turn influenced cinema itself, shaping the visual sensibilities of auteurs across countries and generations.

Nighthawks, cited as an influence on urban visions like Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, has also been faithfully recreated in films like Herbert Ross' Pennies from Heaven, Wim Wenders' The End of Violence, and Dario Argento' Deep Red. 1952's House by the Railroad has inspired directors from Alfred Hitchcock in Psycho to Terrence Malick in Days of Heaven.




A glance across the rest of Hopper's body of work reminds each of us of countless shots from throughout cinema history, American and otherwise. Perhaps even more films will be brought to mind by the Hopper-paintings-turned-animated GIFs commissioned by travel site Orbitz as "a 21st-century tribute to this titan of 20th-century art, for the younger generation who may not have been directly introduced to his work."

The ten of Hopper's works thus brought to life include, of course, Nighthawks and House by the Railroad, as well as other of his paintings both early and late, such as 1927's Automat and 1952's Morning Sun. Both paintings depict a woman alone, a motif emphasized by the notes accompanying the animations. In the nighttime of Automat, she "has an empty plate in front of her, suggesting she’s already had something to eat with her coffee," and the window's reflection of lamps extending into the darkness suggests her "possible loneliness." In the daytime of Morning Sun, the building outside the window "suggests that the woman’s view is not a particularly scenic one," and "the fact that she is sitting merely to enjoy the sun could be interpreted as her desire to be closer to the outdoors, to nature, and escape the bleakness of urban life."

Even in a more scenic setting, like the Cape Elizabeth, Maine of 1927's Lighthouse Hill, an enriching touch of bleakness nevertheless comes through. "Both the lighthouse and cottage are the focal points of the painting, yet despite the blue sky and calm scenery displayed, the shadows bring an ominous feeling to what one would assume is an inviting house." Befitting the work of a painter whose use of light and shadow still inspires artists of all kinds today, these GIFs mostly animate light sources: the blink of a neon sign, the sun's daily arc across the sky.

The GIF of 1939's New York Movie, Hopper's most overt tribute to the cinema, introduces the flickering of the film projector. Purists may not appreciate these touches, but many of us will realize that Hopper's projectors have always been flickering, his neon signs always blinking, his cups of coffee always steaming, and his suns always setting, at least in our minds. See all of the animated gifs here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch Klaus Nomi Debut His New Wave Vaudeville Show: The Birth of the Opera-Singing Space Alien (1978)

Given the history of New York’s East Village as the first foreign language neighborhood in the country after waves of European immigration, perhaps it’s only natural that Klaus Nomi, opera-singing German performance artist who made a name for himself in the punk clubs of the late 70s, would find a home there.

By his time, the tenements had given way to other demographic waves: including Beatniks, writers, actors, Warholian Factory superstars, and punk and New Wave scenesters, whom Dangerous Mind’s Richard Metzger calls a “second generation” after Warhol, “drawn in by that Warhol myth but doing their own things.”




Even amidst the thriving DIY experimentalism of Post-Warholian art, fashion, and music, of a scene including Talking Heads, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring, Nomi stood out. It was the way he seemed to inhabit two time periods at once. He arrived both as a cabaret performer from Weimar Germany—a tragic clown with the voice of an angel—and as a thoroughly convincing intergalactic traveler, teleporting in briefly from the future.

No one was prepared for this when he made his New York debut at Irving Plaza’s New Wave Vaudeville show in 1978, evoking an even earlier era by singing “Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix,” from Camille Saint-Saëns' 1877 opera Samson et Dalila. After his stunning performance, he would disappear from the stage in a confusion of strobe lights and smoke. East Village artist Joey Arias remembers, “It was like he was from a different planet and his parents were calling him home.”

Other acts at New Wave Vaudeville, a four-night East Village variety show, were “doing a punk version of Mickey Rooney, ‘We’re going to do a goofy show,’” says Kristian Hoffman, the musician who became Nomi’s musical director. In came Nomi with “a whole different level of accomplishment.” MC David McDermott was obliged to announce that he was not singing to a recording. You can see Nomi debut at New Wave Vaudeville above, in a clip from the 2004 film The Nomi Song.

The significance of these early performances goes far beyond the immediate shock of their first audiences. At these shows, Nomi met Hoffman, who would form his band and write the songs for which he became best known. Producer and director of the New Wave Vaudeville show Susan Hannaford and Ann Magnuson were also the owner and bartender at Club 57, where Nomi would help them organize exhibits by artists like Kenny Scharf.

Seeing Nomi’s debut can still feel a bit like watching a visitor arrive from both the past and the future at once. And it is lucky we have this early footage of an artist who would to on to perform with David Bowie and become a gay icon and pioneer of theatrical New Wave. But we should also see his arrival on the scene as an essential document of the history of the East Village, and its transformation into “a playground,” as Messy Nessy writes, “for artistic misanthropes, anarchists, exhibitionists, queers, poets, punks and everything in between,” including opera-singing aliens from West Berlin.

via Messy Nessy

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Download Stunning 3D Scans of the Bust of Nefertiti, Now Released by Berlin’s Neues Museum

Two years ago, a scandalous “art heist” at the Neues Museum in Berlin—involving illegally made 3D scans of the bust of Nefertiti—turned out to be a different kind of crime. The two Egyptian artists who released the scans claimed they had made the images with a hidden “hacked Kinect Sensor,” reports Annalee Newitz at Ars Technica. But digital artist and designer Cosmo Wenman discovered these were scans made by the Neues Museum itself, which had been stolen by the artists or perhaps a museum employee.

The initial controversy stemmed from the fact that the museum strictly controls images of the artwork, and had refused to release any of their Nefertiti scans to the public. The practice, Wenman pointed out, is consistent across dozens of institutions around the world. “There are many influential museums, universities, and private collections that have extremely high-quality 3D data of important works, but they are not sharing that data with the public.” He lists many prominent examples in a recent Reason article; the long list includes the Venus de Milo, Rodin’s Thinker, and works by Donatello, Bernini, and Michelangelo.




Whatever their reasons, the aggressively proprietary attitude adopted by the Neues seems strange considering the controversial provenance of the Nefertiti bust. Germany has long claimed that it acquired the bust legally in 1912. But at the time, the British controlled Egypt, and Egyptians themselves had little say over the fate of their national treasures. Furthermore, the chain of custody seems to include at least a few documented instances of fraud. Egypt has been demanding that the artifact be repatriated “ever since it first went on display.”

This critical historical context notwithstanding, the bust is already "one of the most copied works of ancient Egyptian art," and one of the most famous. “Museums should not be repositories of secret knowledge,” Wenman argued in his blog post. Prestigious cultural institutions “are in the best position to produce and publish 3D data of their works and provide authoritative context and commentary.”

Wenman waged a “3-year-long freedom of information effort” to liberate the scans. His request was initially met with “the gift shop defense”—the museum claimed releasing the images would threaten sales of Nefertiti merchandise. When the appeal to commerce failed to dissuade Wenman, the museum let him examine the scans "in a controlled setting"; they were essentially treating the images, he writes, "like a state secret." Finally, they relented, allowing Wenman to publish the scans, without any institutional support.

He has done so, and urged others to share his Reason article on social media to get word out about the files, now available to download and use under a CC BY-NC-SA license. He has also taken his own liberties with the scans, colorizing and adding the blue 3D mapping lines himself to the image at the top, for example, drawn from his own interactive 3D model, which you can view and download here. These are examples of his vision for high-quality 3D scans of artworks, which can and should "be adapted, multiplied, and remixed."

"The best place to celebrate great art," says Wenman, "is in a vibrant, lively, and anarchic popular culture. The world's back catalog of art should be set free to run wild in our visual and tactile landscape." Organizations like Scan the World have been releasing unofficial 3D scans to the public for the past couple years, but these cannot guarantee the accuracy of models rendered by the institutions themselves.

Whether the actual bust of Nefertiti should be returned to Egypt is a somewhat more complicated question, since the 3,000-year old artifact may be too fragile to move and too culturally important to risk damaging in transit. But whether or not its virtual representations should be given to everyone who wants them seems more straightforward.

The images already belong to the public, in a sense, Wenman suggests. Withholding them for the sake of protecting sales seems like a violation of the spirit in which most cultural institutions were founded. Download the Nefertiti scans at Thingiverse, see Wenman's own 3D models at Sketchfab, and read all of his correspondence with the museum throughout the freedom of information process here. Next, he writes, he's lobbying for the release of official 3D Rodin scans. Watch this space. 

via Reason

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

How Art Nouveau Inspired the Psychedelic Designs of the 1960s

“In the late 1800’s new technology was changing the way the world worked, and the way that it looked,” the Vox video above explains. “Some people, especially artists, living through the technological revolution, were not so into all the new industry. To be blunt, they thought it was ugly.” They responded with organic forms and intricate patterns that evoked a pre-industrial world while simultaneously showcasing, and selling, the most modern ideas and products.

Drawing on the handcrafted aesthetic of the Arts and Crafts Movement, the Gothic revival, the florid, ornate paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites, a fascination with Japanese woodblock prints, and the strange, beautiful illustrations of sea creatures by Ernst Haeckel, artists began to challenge late Victorian orthodoxies. The style we now know as Art Nouveau emerged.




It went by many names: Jugendstil, Mondernisme, Tiffany Style, Glasgow Style, Stile Liberty, Sezessionstil. Each identified a collection of traits with which we are now familiar from the many hundreds of posters and advertisements of the time. Grand, flowing lines, intricate patterns, vibrant, often clashing colors, bold hand-lettering, feminine figures and elaborate, exotic themes….

The descriptions of Art Nouveau’s qualities also apply to the poster and album cover art of the psychedelic 1960s, and no wonder, given the significant influence of the former upon the latter. The artists of the acid rock period rebelled not so much against industrialization as the military-industrial-complex. At the epicenter of the movement was the San Francisco of Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.

Venues like the Filmore and the Avalon advertised the hippie revolution with eye-catching posters inspired by those that once lined the thoroughfares of Europe in an age before TV, radio, and neon signs. Art Nouveau-like designs had already returned with the flower patterns popular in fabrics at the time. 60s graphic designers saw these seductive styles as the key to a new psychedelic vision.

It’s easy to see why. Flowers, curves, peacocks, updates of Art Nouveau images from the past (including skeletons and roses)—dialed up to 11 with “eye-vibrating” colors—made the perfect visual accompaniment for the acid-flavored Romanticism that took root during the Vietnam era. Even the fonts were poached from turn-of-the-century graphic art. Famous 60s designers like Wes Wilson confessed their admiration for modernism, “the idea,” Wilson told Time in 1967, “of really putting it all out there.”

Just as Art Nouveau flowered into an international style, with some presciently trippy manifestations in Brazil and other places, so too did the 60s psychedelic poster, spreading from San Francisco to every corner of the globe. And as Art Nouveau became the house style for the counterculture of the early 20th century—celebrating sexual and cultural experimentation and occult interests—it announced the birth of flower power and its recovery of modernism's expressive freedoms.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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