The Family of Charles Hill

South Australian engraver, painter and arts educator Charles Hill was born in Coventry, England, in 1824. His father was an officer who served under Lord Wellington and was later the reforming Governor of Leicester County Prison.  Charles was more interested in art than a military career and served an apprenticeship as line engraver to Mark Lambert in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1840 he enrolled in the Newcastle Fine Arts Academy and took lessons at the Government School of Design. He was one of those responsible for the famous engraving which depicted the opening on The Crystal Palace in 1851.

Hill emigrated to South Australia on the recommendation of Archdeacon Farr (1819–1904), in the hope that a change of climate would be good for his health, arriving on the Historia in 1854. He found employment as art teacher at St. Peter’s College, the Adelaide Educational Institution (AEI), Mrs. Woodcocks Christ Church school room; Miss Roland’s school on Tavistock Street, and later Mrs. Bell’s school. He opened his own School of Art in his home in Pulteney Street in 1856.

Hill and fellow drawing master W.W. Whitridge formed the South Australian Society of Arts. He then founded the South Australian School of Design in 1861, and Hill was chosen as its first Master; a role he maintained through several changes of name and focus, until he retired around 1886. He was also a member of Adelaide’s Bohemian Club. Charles Hill died on  16 September 1915.

Notable paintings include:

  • Wreck of the Admella donated to the Art Gallery’s historic collection by the artist’s grandson H. L. Hill in 1944
  • The Artist and His Family
  • The Back Garden (ca.1870) held by the National Gallery of Australia

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Thank Heaven for 7 Eleven

Japanese contemporary artist Mr (born in 1969 in Cupa, Japan) is based in the Saitama Prefecture near Tokyo. As a young child he had a love for drawing and received many awards and accolades. By high school he was painting with oils. This encouraged Mr to study art for eight years before graduating from Sokei Art School in 1996.

A former protégé of Takashi Murakami, Mr works in a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture and video, He takes his inspiration from TV, though his works are all closely related in aesthetics, style, and theme.

  • He is a self-proclaimed otaku (people who love animation, games and manga) with a ‘Lolita-complex’ as many of  his pieces depict young boys and girls in an anime/manga style. While quite cute and innocent on the surface, many of his works are also quite sexualised, tying into the anime phenomenon of sābisu katto (aka fan service).

He has since worked as an assistant to Murakami, and member of Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki art production studio which has also supported Mr in his solo career. His participation in Murakami’s 2000 exhibition Super Flat played a crucial role in earning him international attention and recognition.

  • Mr’s work debuted in both solo and group exhibitions in 1996, and he has exhibited in museums and galleries from Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, through to Paris, New York, Minneapolis, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Jerusalem, and London.
  • Mr exhibited in a group show at the Grimaldi Forum, in Monaco, entitled ‘Exhibition Kyoto-Tokyo: From Samurais to Mangas’ and had a solo exhibition at Leeahn Gallery in Seoul, South Korea.
  • In 2014 he had a solo exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum.

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By Hook or By Crooke | These are Worth a Good Look

Australian artist Ray Austin Crooke was born in Auburn, Victoria on 12 July 1922. He is known for serene views of Islander people and ocean landscapes, many of which are based on the art of Gauguin. He spent time in Townsville, Cape York and other parts of northern Australia during the WW2. After the War he enrolled in Art School at Swinburne University of Technology and later travelled to New Guinea, Tahiti and Fiji.

  • He won the Archibald Prize in 1969 with a portrait of George Johnston.
  • Many of his works are in Australian galleries and his painting The Offering (1971) is in the Vatican Museum collection.

Crooke was responsible for the dust-jacket for Poor Fellow My Country by Xavier Herbert. He has received an Order of Australia medal (OAM) Australia in the 1993 Australia Day Honours, “in recognition of service to the arts, particularly as a landscape artist” He died on 5 December, 2015 at the age of 93.

  • North of Capricorn” was an Australian touring retrospective exhibition in 1997 organised by the Perc Tucker Regional Gallery (Townsville, Queensland, Australia) initiated and curated by Grafico Topico’s writer and curator Sue Smith.
  • Information about the exhibition and tour can be found at Grafico Topico

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Is this Prop Art?

Above: There is no authority but yourself (Enamel paint on steel and composition board).

  • Did someone get distracted and forget to hang this up?

Melbourne artist and experimental musician Marco Fusinato was born in 1964. His interests include political and artistic radicalism.

  • Much of his work adopts a punk approach or anti-art sensibility as seen in this group of monochromes which were first exhibited in 1996 at Melbourne’s 200 Gertrude Street (now Gertrude Contemporary). Painted quickly, using cheap everyday materials found readily in his studio, these paintings reveal Fusinato’s interest in speed and seriality and in challenging preconceived ideas about art; while his use of red alludes to a career-long investigation into the history of far-left politics in Italy.

As a teenager Fusinato was influenced by the punk movement. After the punk movement dissolved, he became more interested in experimental music, primarily the free-improvised noise side of it. This leads to what still influences and inspires him today – radical politics. The works Fusinato makes usually come from material he has been collecting and archiving for long periods of time.

  • His recent exhibitions have drawn on his personal archive of radical political pamphlets (Noise and Capitalism 2010); avant–garde music scores (Mass Black Implosion 2008); and grainy newspaper photographs of political protesters (Double Infinitive 2009).

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Soup de Jour? | Can Do

Warhol proved you can make Souper-Art – but why Broth-er?

Pop art is the art movement that emerged in the mid-1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art presented a challenge to traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular culture such as advertising, news, etc. Pop art employs aspects of mass culture, such as advertising, comic books and mundane cultural objects. Product labeling and logos figure prominently in the imagery chosen by pop artists, like in the Campbell’s Soup Cans labels, by Andy Warhol. Even the labeling on the shipping box containing retail items has been used as subject matter in pop art, for example in Warhol’s Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box 1964, or his Brillo Soap Box sculptures.

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was born in Pittsburgh, the son of Czech immigrants. He moved to New York where he became a successful artist in 1949. He had started his artistic career as a graphic artist whose illustrations appeared in glossy fashion magazines and like any savvy advertising executive, Warhol learned how to create a demand for his product. Warhol regarded his paintings as merchandise, not much different from a can of soup. And like a major manufacturer, he produced not one, but many copies and versions of his “products”. He called his studio “The Factory” and he took up silk-screening because he could put his assistants and interns to work on an assembly line, churning out art, the same way Ford turned out automobiles.

His Campbell’s Soup Cans’ (aka 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans) were first shown on July 9, 1962 in his first one-man gallery exhibition as a fine artist in the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, California. It consisted of thirty-two canvases, each measuring 51 cm × 41 cm; and each consisting of a painting of a Campbell’s Soup can—one of each of the canned soup varieties the company offered at the time.

Since Warhol’s death in 1987, his fans have made the pilgrimage to his grave in St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery outside Pittsburgh Penn. It has become a tradition to leave a can of Campbell’s soup on his gravestone it. Isn’t that just soup-er!

“Waiter, what’s this fly doing in my soup?”
“I think it’s doing the backstroke!”

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Cereal Collectors? – Not as Corny as it Might Seem

Cereal boxes – from 2016 Open House “Cabinets of Wonder” ephemera collection at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. This collection is entitled ‘Breakfast is Good for You’. The collector is identified as ‘IS’ and their occupation: Cleaner.

IS claims: “I started collecting a lot of things that I found in the kitchen when I was a boy – matchbox covers, footy cards and toys’ and trade cards from breakfast cereals and cards from packets of tea. I have just kept collecting. I spend my weekends trading cards and have become an expert in the area.”

Another collector: ‘ASH’ has entitled his exhibit “When Cereal Companies Cared about Kids”. He is a curator. A popular culture website advises that there was a time when cereal manufacturers wanted to make breakfast fun not healthy. In this golden age almost every box of cereal contained a little plastic game, toy or gadget. The kitchen table became a playground. it was  a weekly variation on the annual coins in the Christmas pudding. Was there more time to linger over breakfast? Did cereal companies really care about kids or did they just want kids to pester for their toys and so their cereal?

The Crater Critters were made in Australia by Rosenhaim and Lippmann. They were distributed worldwide inside Kellogg’s cereal boxes in the late 1960s and early 1970s. There were 8 critters in the full set and were inspired-lunatic artistry.

  • Perhaps these are examples of Snap, Crackle & Pop Art
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A Bit of Hanky Panky

“Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases – So Trap Them in Your Handkerchief.”

A handkerchief also called a handkercher or hanky, is a form of a kerchief, typically a hemmed square and made from thin fabric that can be carried in the pocket or purse. It is intended for personal hygiene purposes such as wiping one’s hands or face, or blowing one’s nose. A handkerchief is also sometimes used as a purely decorative accessory in a suit pocket.

  • The material of a handkerchief can be symbolic of the socio-economic class of the user, not only because some materials are more expensive, but because some materials are more absorbent and practical for those who use a handkerchief for more than style.
  • Handkerchiefs can be made of cotton, cotton-synthetic blend, synthetic fabric, silk, or linen.

Handkerchiefs were also used, especially by children, as an impromptu way to carry around small items when a bag or basket was unavailable. They could also serve as a substitute for a bandage over a small injury.

In the United Kingdom, the habit of wearing a handkerchief with tied corners on one’s head at the beach has become a seaside postcard stereotype, referenced by the Gumby characters in Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

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You Must Be An Angel | I Can See It In Your Eyes

Deborah Halpern (born in Melbourne in 1957) is a public art sculptor, mosaicist and ceramic artist. Halpern lectures and conducts workshops in ceramics in Melbourne. Her parents Sylvia and Arthur Halpern, were ceramists and artists and two of the founding members of Potters Cottage in Warrandyte.

Halpern began work in ceramics as an apprentice in 1975. She studied painting, print-making and sculpture at the Caulfield Institute of Technology (now Monash University) in 1979. In 1981 she had her first solo exhibition at the Blackwood Street Gallery and has subsequently shown at the Meat Market Craft Centre; Gryphon Gallery; apart from having her work showcased at numerous other group exhibitions. She has been represented by the Christine Abrahams Gallery in Melbourne and the Arthouse Gallery in Sydney. In 1987-89, Halpern graduated with a Diploma of Visual Art from the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education (now Monash University). The images depicted include:

Angel – One of Halpern’s most known sculptures which stood in the moat outside the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) until 2005, when it was relocated close to the Ian Potter Gallery on the banks of Melbourne’s Yarra River, at Birrarung Marr. The 10 meter tall Picasso-influenced Angel resembles a three-legged llama with more than 4000 individually cut and hand-painted ceramic tiles fixed onto its concrete and steel armature.

Ophelia (1992) is  located on Southbank. Once known as the face of Melbourne, Ophelia was inspired by the character from Hamlet, full of both love and sadness. Halpern says Ophelia is the cousin of Angel,

Mali: Protector of all Animals.  Mali (2012) is a gift to the children of Melbourne from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation. Mali marks the celebration of the Melbourne Zoo’s 150th Anniversary and its commitment to the conservation of endangered species.

Big Bunny (2013) ceramic and glass tiles on fiberglass, steel & aluminium 160cm x 78cm x 88cm

“O’ What may man within him hide, though angel on the outward side!” – Shakespeare ‘Measure For Measure (Act III, Scene II)

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Shunga | Spring Pictures

One of the most unabashedly erotic images to ever grace the pages of an art history book came from the woodblock of iconic Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. Widely known for his G-rated, Edo-era prints like The Great Wave at Kanagawa, the celebrated ukiyo-e painter and print-maker famously depicted a titillating love scene between a few octupi and a satisfied-looking human being. The masterpiece swiftly and simultaneously brought full frontal nudity, bestiality, and female orgasm to the forefront of fine art. The untitled illustrations are one of many sexualised paintings and tantalizing prints produced during the 17th C. Known as shunga, the genre was comprised of elaborate and highly erotic artworks that were banned from Japanese institutions for a significant portion of the 20th century.

  • Thankfully, an exhibit entitled ‘Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art‘ provided artists of the ukiyo-e genre their well-deserved spotlight. The collection of works by Japanese greats like Hokusai, Kitagawa Utamaro and Utagawa Kunisada celebrated the taboo-breaking side of art history with a survey of over 300 years of traditional Japanese erotica.
  • The allure of Shunga, which translates to “spring pictures,” rests in the images ability to appeal to men and women of various sexual preferences.
  • Often these artworks were light-hearted and comedic, focusing not only on romantic moments but also on the bizarre and awkward contortions that are more laughter-inducing than arousing.

Artworks by Hokusai and others sometimes used sexual talismans, passed from partner to partner, friend to friend, and parent to child to use as both an educational manual and a good luck charm. In this way, shunga acted as the traditional precedent to contemporary anime and manga.


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Art or Rubbish? – It’s all Garbage to me

[Above: Uniformity by Emmerson Daniels –  (2017).  Synthetic polymer paint on plywood. Top VCE Art 2017-2018. ] Daniels was a student at Mount Lillydale Mercy College, Lillydale. Uniformity explores the overall similarity and lack of variation evident in everyday life. Emerson muses that the consistent likeness of each bin is symbolic of the alarming deterioration of original thought and a subconscious adherence to social norms. ‘Every household puts their bin out on a given day every week and repeats this process 52 times a year’. A subtle protest against suppressed individuality. Emmerson is influenced by Geoffrey Smart’s aesthetics in urban landscapes.

All though this work is clearly art, some of the other pieces included here are dubious. Some are located at well known street art locations, some decorated by street artists, some just make you want to laugh or make you wonder why is this here?

More examples are available on my Rubbish Art section. Way too trashy for me!

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None so campy as these vampy scampi

[Image: David Bielander – Scampi 2007] (Collection of the artist)

David Bielander (born 1968) started his career as an apprentice goldsmith in Basel Switzerland working for the industrial designer and jewellery maker Georg Spreng before studying under Professor Otto Künzli at the Academy of Fine Arts, in Munich.

In 2006 Bielander became the Artistic Assistant to Professor Daniel Kruger at the Academy of Fine Arts Burg Giebichenstein, Halle, Germany and by 2011, he became an external consultant to the jewellery department at Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.

  • In his art, Bielander takes the familiarity of everyday objects and combines them with a witty abstraction to create unusual pieces as wearable art. His work has seen him win numerous awards including the Herbert Hoffmann Prize in 2010 and the Francoise van den Bosch Award in 2012.

His work is held in many public collections including the Fond National des Arts Contemporain, France, the CODA Museum, Apeldoorn, the Neue Sammlung, Munich and the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia.

  • Bielander lives and works in Munich where he currently shares a studio with fellow artists including Yutaka Minegishi and Helen Britton.

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Emily Floyd | The Installer I Most Enjoyed

Born Melbourne in 1972, Emily Floyd is Senior Lecturer in the School of Fine Art at Monash Art Design & Architecture (MADA), Monash University. She is also a 2015 Sidney Myer Creative Fellow. Floyd has been working in sculpture, installation, print-making and public art, and is renowned for her text-based sculptures and pedagogically inspired works that combine formal concerns with an interest in the legacies of modernism. Intersecting public space with carefully considered design, she creates bold spaces for public engagement and interaction.

Examples of Floyd’s art are present in major public collections in Australia and internationally, including: Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), Victoria and Albert Museum (London), The British Council (United Kingdom), The British Museum (London), Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Monash University Collection (Melbourne), Heide Museum of Modern Art (Melbourne), National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), GOMA / Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane); and prominent private and corporate collections.

  • Featured above: The Outsider (2006) polyurethane on wood synthetic polymer paint and lacquer. This work takes Algerian author Albert Camus’s novel ‘The Outsider’ (1942) as its starting point. In Floyd’s interpretation of this existentialist text, sentences from the novel suggest the coastline and urban centre of Algiers (the setting of the book); through a mass of toy-like building blocks; Some instances and precise phrases from the novel are evident, while at other times words collapse into indecipherable piles. presenting language in a material form. Floyd invites active participation from the viewer in the construction of meaning.
  • A Human Scale (2014) comprises 15 opaque synthetic polymer resin and bonded aluminium bronze LEDs. With this commission, Floyd investigates the potential of public art to activate urban spaces. The work’s title is drawn from the community based campaigns that emerged in response to the development of housing commission buildings in Melbourne and Sydney in the 1960s.

I am glad I did not avoid
Floyd’s abstract humanoid
installations that were employed
which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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I’ll Put a Girdle Around the Earth

Australian muralist, mosaicist and painter in stained glass and other media, Mervyn Napier Waller was born in Penhurst, Victoria on 19 June 1893. He studied at the National Gallery school in Melbourne and exhibited his first paintings and drawings in 1915. The following year he married and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). During WWI he served in France and was badly wounded at Bullecourt, where he lost his right arm. He subsequently learned how to use his left hand after having been right-hand dominant.

By 1923, Napier Waller became the first to make and exhibit lino cuts in Australia. He then turned to mural design and won his first commission for the former Menzies Hotel in Melbourne, in 1927. (Although the building was demolished in 1969, the mural was sold privately). This was followed by a set of murals created for the Melbourne Town Hall in the same year. Later Napier Waller won the commission to provide panels for the Dining Hall at the Myer Emporium  in 1935.

Napier Waller became senior art teacher for the Applied Art School of the Working Men’s College, Melbourne (now the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University). Although his work was strongly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite and late-19th C British painters, his monumental works show a classical and formal style; using timeless and heroic figure compositions to express ideas and ideals often featuring Arcadian-themed Theosophical and Gnostic overtones.

  • Mervyn Napier Waller died on 30 March 1972, in Melbourne.

Some of his work pictured above includes:

  • I’ll Put a Girdle Around the Earth – Exterior mosaic mural, Newspaper House, Collins Street Melbourne (1933)
  • Wife Christian (nee Yandell) with their three dogs Baldur, Undine and Siren at Fairy Hills (1932)
  • Peace After Victory, The State Library of Victoria  (1934)
  • Mosaic and stained glass windows for the Hall of Memory, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1958.

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Tuby or not to be | That is the question

French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Tuby was born in Rome in 1635 and died in Paris in 1900.  Tuby served Louis XIV of France and was regarded as one of the premier court sculptors of his time.

His art is remarkable for its extraordinary precision of symmetry and three-dimensional volume; its explosively animated forms; and for a delicate sense of embellishment and  humour.

  • Tuby is most renowned for the magnificent bronze centerpiece of the Fountain of Apollo (see above) planned and built by André Le Nôtre for the West Gardens of the Palace of Versailles. He also created remarkably nuanced life-size bronzes for Versaille’s Parterre d’Eau, representing several great rivers of France (the Saon and the Rhone).
  • His white marble urn is arguably the finest decorative urn at Versailles, Le Vase de la Paix, a monumental 2.5 metre tall piece that adorns the South corner of the stairs immediately below the west façade of the palace containing the Hall of Mirrors.

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Feeling Pea’d Off? Don’t snubbo the art of Rubbo

[Image: Pea Gathering | Kurrajong Heights  (1918)]

Italian-born artist and art teacher Antonio Salvatore Dattilo Rubbo was born in Naples on 21 June 1870 and spent his early childhood in Frattamaggiore. He studied painting under Domenico Morelli and Filippo Palizzi before emigrating to Australia, arriving in Sydney in 1897.

According to Australian art critic Robert Hughes, Dattilo Rubbo was not considered a great artist and that – “muddy genre portraits of very wrinkled old Tuscan peasants were his strong suit,” but he was an inspiring art teacher, responsible for introducing a whole generation of Australian painters to modernism through his art school (opened in 1898) and his classes at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales.

  • In contrast to nearly all other art teachers in Australia at the time, he was not a reactionary, and encouraged his students to experiment with styles as radically different from his own as post-Impressionism and cubism.
  • Rubbo taught in Sydney schools including St. Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, Kambala, (private girls school), The Scots College and Newington College.

He was a flamboyant character who believed in championing his students to the hilt; indeed, in 1916 he challenged a committee member of the Royal Art Society to a duel because he had refused to hang a post-impressionist landscape by his pupil Roland Wakelin.

Other students included:

  • Norah Simpson, Frank Hinder, Grace Cossington Smith (whom Dattilo Rubbo referred to affectionately as ‘Mrs Van Gogh’),
  • Donald Friend (“Aha Donaldo, always the barocco; rub it out, boy, rub it out!“),
  • Roy De Maistre, war artist Roy Hodgkinson, Archibald Prize winner Arthur Murch, social realist Roy Dalgarno, Tom Bass, and many more.

In 1924 he helped to found the Manly Art Gallery and Historical Collection which holds over one hundred and thirty of his works. He died in Sydney on 1 June, 1955.

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