The Advent of Immersive Art

The other day I stood in line with my husband for a ride in Elitch Gardens, situated in downtown Denver. The idea of the ride is like no other, yet the actual ride mechanics was like a typical haunted house ride with a boxcar to sit in.

Its concept and creation came from Meow Wolf, an art collective stationed out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. They have permanent art installations in Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and now in Denver. Besides the ride, they are planning on another permanent residence.

On the ride’s official website, which is called Kaleidoscape, they bill it as being a thrill ride. It’s not a roller coaster; heck, it doesn’t even go fast. The ride is similar to Buzz Lightyear’s boxcar ride in Disney World. There is a light gun that you use to shoot at triangular lit bullseyes.

My husband and I didn’t understand the point of the guns, even though we used them because there was no scoring system. It wasn’t until I read about it that there is a backstory to the art installation amusement park ride. The guns have “semi-quantum technology” where they are used to guide a light source in becoming a “hyper being.”

Lately, I’ve been reading art news about interactive or immersive art installations, either permanent or traveling, particularly in my city. Interactive art is nothing new; back in the 60s, Yoko Ono gave guests a chance to cut pieces of her clothing in her art performance, Cut Piece. There was also Yard by Allan Kaprow, where guests had to walk overused tires.

Immersive art is on a new level or, that is, the next level.  Instead of using items for engagement, you are in the art. In this case, with Kaleidoscape, we were in the art installation and interacting with high-tech guns.

In each megacity in the US, local artists are experimenting with their installation of immersive art. In 2019, there was Natura Obscura by Denver artists Jennifer Mosquera and Eric Jaenike, a dream-like maze for guests. There was also Camp Christmas by Lonnie Hanzon, a landscape of Christmas wonders.

In a couple of months, Denver will be hosting the ever-popular Immersive Van Gogh, where guests will be invited to step into the art of Vincent Van Gogh. The use of projectors and wide screens give the illusion that you’re inside his paintings. Tickets are a bit pricey, but I’ve been told it’s worth it.

The next trending immersive art installation is by New York City artist Alois Kronschlaeger titled Kind of Blue, where guests enter a blue tent-like structure held up by wood, which changes as the blue fabric moves. It is temporarily being viewed in Manhattan, New York.

My Trip to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Search for Water

Mike Burgquist

Recently I took a five-day trip to Chicago, Illinois with my husband and one of our stops was to the Art Institute of Chicago. It was a highlight for me during the trip, for my husband – not so much. It balanced out because the week before I had to commit two hours straight of gameplay for his gaming channel.

I had goosebumps as I entered the museum since it’s one of the premiere art museums in the world. Founded in 1879, it served as a museum and a school of fine arts and sits on the homelands of the Council of the Three Fires.

The Council of the Three Fires are the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples. Chicago was and still is home to Native Americans because of the federal urban relocation policies. Much of the land that it sits on was turned into a landfill containing remnants from the Chicago Fire.

Just in time for the World’s Columbian Fair in 1893, the Art Institute found it’s place where it is now on Michigan Avenue and Adam Street, not too far from the shoreline of Lake Michigan. You are greeted by two bronze lions as you walk in through the same entrance that many guests before had gone.

The building is done in the Beaux Arts style, combining French neoclassicism with Gothic and Renaissance elements. A style that originated from Paris, France. Recently, it had added a Modern Wing by Renzo Piano. The museum houses masterpieces from such artists as Monet, Diego Rivera and de Kooning.

I found it a bit overwhelming halfway through the tour, there is so much to see and read. Catching the suggested highlights from the map is a great way to pace yourself if you only have a couple of hours. My awe-inspiring moments were viewing George Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte and the Medieval department with its armor and weaponry.

The Seurat was bigger than I expected. You get the dimensions of these art pieces in an art history book, yet it’s not the same when you actually see it.  I tried imagining how he did his style of pointillism on this piece of work and it boggled me. The displayed armor renewed my romantic, fantastical imagination I would have when I read about King Arthur and Camelot.

We also viewed the Monet and Chicago exhibit, a temporary exhibit on Claude Monet and how his works had an impact on Chicago. If you’re a fan of Monet, this is an exhibit to see. You’ll be able to see many of his famous works, such as his Stack of Wheat series and Water Lily Pond and his lesser known works such as, Branch of the Seine and Apples and Grapes.

Now you must be wondering why I mentioned about searching for water, not too long into the tour of the Art Institute I started getting thirsty. They didn’t have the water fountains on, their café was closed and I had left my water bottle behind. At one point I found myself drinking out of the restroom sink. If it wasn’t for this problem, I would have stayed longer in the museum. TIP: if you’re traveling here or any museum for that matter during this time, bring a water bottle and wear comfortable shoes.

Netflix’s “This is a Robbery: World’s Biggest Art Heist:” (The Mystery Continues)

I binge-watched the rest of the episodes of This is a Robbery while recovering from the side effects of the COVID vaccine – dose two. There is a possibility that I wasn’t entirely paying attention since my mind was in a fog and my body was playing tricks on me. (Hot? Cold? Both?) The series only has four episodes, and they’re about an hour-long—enough back and forth about the mafia, the FBI, and thieves. Wait… is this still about art?

It was amusing to learn that the heist was not small when it came to the extent of the mafia’s involvement. I guess that’s what makes it big, still not the world’s biggest if you ask me. The gist of the series, which I would suggest watching, is that two individuals dressed as Boston cops got away with stealing 13 pieces of art from the Isabel Gardner museum on March 18th, 1990.

In the first episode, it seemed like an inside job involving one of the security guards and two robbers. It was funny to see how many of the interviewees were throwing the “hippie” security guard under the bus by pointing out all this funny business he was doing, especially on that night. The series took a turn, where the witnesses were pointing out things that were fishy about the police, like missing evidence and inaccurate descriptions of the robbers. That does seem to be quite fishy.

The FBI was interested in a known art thief/ local rock and roll singer who had stolen from another location. Yet the kicker was that he was in prison when the Gardner museum robbery happened. So, he had a break, sort of; he was in jail after all.

Then the next couple of episodes was like watching the Goodfellas. Apparently, there was a crew of mobsters run by a Godfather-type figure who was into thefts, petty crimes, and possible murders. Many of them were in and out of jail. One by one, the FBI watched and followed them. Nothing much turned up, and it didn’t help that slowly they all died mainly by homicide.

In the end, the paintings supposedly ended up floating around between Maine and Connecticut. One of the leads took the FBI back to the art thief and an associate of his, who claimed to know where the art pieces were. He had a game with the press and FBI, where he would send pictures to the media, and he actually took one of the reporters to a warehouse and showed him a painting.

This is where things get foggy for me, and perhaps it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the COVID vaccine side effects. I thought for a moment; the FBI found the art; they’re going to bust down the doors of that warehouse and confiscate everything. Yet, it didn’t happen. There was nothing there, all gone.

There was yet another lead that took the FBI to another mobster; well, he was actually a wanna-be who cooked for them. They loved his special marinara sauce, which might have been a truth serum because the mobsters would tell him all their dirty little secrets. This made him very desirable to the FBI. Ultimately, the FBI raided his house but came up with nothing – again.

That was the last big lead, until 2013 when the FBI claimed that they knew the names of the robbers of the Isabel Gardener museum. It seemed like there was more movement happening with the case. The funny thing is, they never mentioned the names. Names can’t be said on an ongoing case. After that there was nothing else. The reward still stands at $10 million, and the FBI incessantly receives tips from all over the world.

Maybe the use of social media would help to find the art. I’d hate to think it’s all gone forever.

Netflix’s “This is a Robbery: World’s Biggest Art Heist” (Is the Title an Exaggeration?)

Two episodes into the docuseries This is a Robbery: World’s Biggest Art Heist, I get a sense that it seems to be overly exaggerated and dramatic. Not to say that it didn’t happen, just the little details seem off. First of all, is it really the world’s biggest art heist? I decided to dig a little.

Besides the famous robberies of the Mona Lisa and The Scream, both of which were returned, there is the plundering of European Art done by the Nazis between 1933-1945. Twenty percent of European art were stolen for Hitler to either put into his Fuhrer museum or to destroy because he deemed it unworthy to exist. The most notable being the theft of the Amber Room of the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg in Russia. Sculptures and other items were taken, never to be seen again. People have theorized that they were bombed, sunken with a submarine, or buried.

Even before World War II ended, a massive campaign started to recover and return these art pieces. Yet, by 1994, there were still 100,000 pieces missing, and 16 of the 40 top paintings were recovered. Then in 1997, the National Jewish Museum renewed the efforts in retrieving the pieces through a program they had established. In conjunction with the National Jewish Museum and the National Archives, they began pouring over the photographs and records taken of War Crimes.

In the early 2010s, a trove of 1,280 paintings was discovered being squirreled away in Germany by a recluse named Hildebrand Gurlitt. He had inherited these paintings from his father, who was a big-name art dealer. Gurlitt kept these paintings believing that he was a ‘steward’ and was protecting. A website was created for claimants to come forth, and towards the end of his life, Gurlitt attempted to thwart the authorities from confiscating the art.

Let’s not forget the countless thefts of archaeological artifacts and artworks, all done primarily on online trading markets. Last year alone, Interpol, Europol, and WCO (World Customs Organization) seized 19,000 stolen items and arrested 101 people in conjunction with these thefts. This was the second time that these organizations worked together to thwart these art thieves.

If you were to combine these two robberies, wouldn’t it be much bigger than the theft of 13 paintings from a museum in Boston? What I’m trying to get at is that the title of the docuseries is not true. Obviously, there have been bigger thefts.

I plan on watching the rest of the episodes. The show is intriguing, but I’m trying to figure out if it’s because it’s more like a show or a true accounts telling of an art robbery.

UPDATE: Recently a French heiress dropped her fight with the University of Alabama over her right to claim back a painting by Danish-French artist Camille Pissaro; which was one of the paintings stolen by the Nazis. The heiress had lost relatives during the Holocaust and was adopted by a couple; they were the ones that had owned the painting. Facing legal threats from the university and the fact that she had signed a document (“under duress”) indicating that she had agreed on donating the piece to them, she had no choice but to drop the case. Another art casualty in the recovery of the Nazi-looted masterpieces.

Stone Age Art: Art Made of Stone? Part 2

We’re taking a giant leap into 7000 BCE, the Neolithic age, where great societies emerged in Anatolia and Mesopotamia (what is now Turkey and Syria/Iraq). One of those was Jericho, which laid on a plateau in the Jordan River Valley. The citizens built mud-brick houses, farmed, and constructed a walled fortification. Eventually, the people abandoned Jericho giving way to new settlers who built larger rectangular structures with painted floors and walls. It is believed that they were shrines because archaeologists had found figurines of animals and women.

These people would bury their dead underneath their homes, but not before claiming the skulls for themselves. They took these skulls and adorned them with seashells for eyes and plaster to fill in the gaps. There was one found that had a painted-on mustache. The heads found constituted the first known gallery of portraits. Of course, later, they just painted people before their passing. Archaeologists believe the purpose of the skulls was for ritualistic beliefs in the connection between their ancestors and the afterlife. They thought that the dead had power over the living.

Another ancient settlement was the Ain Ghazal, near what is now the capital of Jordan, Amman. From 7200 to 5000 BCE, the citizens built stone houses with floors and walls made with plaster. What was found there by archaeologists were caches of about three dozen statuettes and busts made of plaster. Oddly, some of the busts had two heads. The white plaster covered the core; it was made up of reeds and twine mixed with bitumen (some tar-like liquid). They stand out (literally) from the Venus of Willendorf and the Hohlenstein-Stadel figures by their sizes, most of which are 3 feet tall. This started off the history of large-scale sculptures in the land of Mesopotamia.

Looking back to wall paintings, in the ancient city of Catal Hoyuk, which flourished between 6500 – 5700 BCE, painted hunting scenes were found in decorated rooms. The murals are vastly different from the Paleolithic cave paintings in that humans were added to the scene and seen in groups; with different poses. The idea of narration is vital because archaeologists have found human interactions with animals and their need for dominance over them, viewed in all Neolithic art. The Catal Hoyuk mural tells the story of a hunting party complete with discernable facial features and weapons in hand, chasing after red deer.

At this point, there was a shift from the Paleolithic art style to the Neolithic art style. If you take anything away from this article to understand better Paleolithic and Neoliothic’s difference, understand that in Neolithic, the painters used paint brushes and would prepare the wall for painting. One of the unique finds, which dates back to 6150 BCE, is the landscape mural found in one of the decorated rooms in Catal Hoyuk. It’s the world’s first landscape image and had remained one of a kind for thousands of years. Archaeologists determined that it was a mural of the city with wobbling squares depicting homes. In the background, a twin-peaked volcano can be seen erupting.

Hopping over to Europe, there was plenty of Paleolithic imagery to be seen, but it didn’t change over to Neolithic. Around 4000 BCE, many European communities constructed monuments with enormous stones as high as 17 feet and weighing 50 tons. Historians gave them the name Megaliths, and instead of categorizing them as Neolithic, they are known as Megalithic.

The oldest known megalithic monument is in Newgrange, Ireland, and it dates to 3200 BCE. It is a funerary monument with a passage grave into a burial chamber under a tumulus (sounds like a cloud, but it’s not); a burial mound.

As a curious tourist, I had entered the burial mound and walked the long passage. It is a tight passage into a small dark chamber. Not for people who have claustrophobia. I do consider myself claustrophobic, but it was a chance I didn’t want to let go. The experience was both awe-inspiring and humbling. You can feel how ancient the mound was, and you get a view of how light would enter the passageway into the chamber during the winter solstice. The fascinating part of the chamber is looking up and seeing the corbeled dome. The megaliths were placed strategically to be held up by their weight. You will also spy decorated stones with spirals incised with a tool.

The burial mounds of Newgrange aren’t the only ones. There are others in England, France, Spain, and Scandinavia. A true testimony to the significance of honoring the dead during Neolithic times. By the fourth millennium, Neolithic peoples had gone as far as Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands and to the far south in Malta.

In Malta, in a place called Hagar Qim, a megalithic temple was built between 3200 and 2500 BCE. The architects built the temple by stacking stones in horizontal rows, called courses. Doors were done in a post-and-lintel system—kind of like what you would do as a child with wooden blocks. Upright stones were posts, and horizontal stones were the lintel. What was found inside the temple were altars and headless nude women. It was indeed an early stage in sophistication.

The most famous of all of the megalithic monuments is Stonehenge in Salisbury Plain, England. The backstory on Stonehenge is remarkable. First, I’ll explain what the word means. Henge means a circular arrangement of stones and stone… well, you should know what that means. The stones are either sarsen, a type of sandstone and bluestones, volcanic rocks. The middle encompasses a ring of bluestones surrounding a horseshoe of three-stone constructions; trilithons. Standing on its own is a heel stone, a tiny nub of a stone to indicate where the sun would rise when it was the summer solstice. Don’t worry; there’s no quiz at the bottom of this post.

Backstory and this includes recent discoveries, is that Stonehenge is a funerary sight. For many years, archaeologists weren’t entirely sure. It was built in stages taking up hundreds of years and different generations of people.

I had visited both Stonehenge and the newly discovered items on exhibit at the local natural history museum. When you visit the site, you are not as close as you would like, but you do get to walk around it. As you walk, you notice that mounds are surrounding you and the megalithic monument. You start to imagine what ancient life was like and what they did in the center of Stonehenge.

At the exhibit, animal and human bones found at Stonehenge were on display, along with tools and flints. There are also models to show how these people could take these large stones from a long distance away to where it stands now.

Stone Age Art: Art Made of Stone? Part 1

Way before any of the art you see today existed, it had to have had a start. It didn’t start with a canvas; it definitely didn’t start with a computer; it began with a stone wall. We’re not talking about finger painting like a child would do on their parents’ walls; we’re talking about a society of ancient people who lived in caves and pondered their life enough to record it.

The proper name for this era is the Paleolithic period, and if you really need to know where this word came from; it came from the Greek word paleo, meaning ‘old’and lithos meaning ‘stone.’ This period started about 40,000 BCE, to put it in perspective, this was around the time where there was an overlap of society, the Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens. This not only changed history but started up art history.

Caves were discovered in southern France and northern Spain containing cave art. You probably think it’s a bunch of stick figures and animals. Not so much. Some of these paintings had some realism to them. There was color and shading. The most famous of these caves are the ones from Lascaux. Most of the walls are covered in images of animals. A large area of the Lascaux caves is the Hall of the Bulls; in here, bulls and horses were drawn. Imagine being an ancient person, drawing what he/she saw that day, by the light of a make-shift lamp. Why paint bulls and horses when they weren’t part of a healthy diet for these people? Perhaps, they admire these creatures. No one knows for sure.

Another peculiar part of cave paintings is that the images were of different animals, not of any particular herd. There are also other art styles, from silhouettes to outlines. Now, what could that mean? Well, it appears that the cave paintings weren’t all from one artist. Different painters had added to the walls for generations. Like graffiti artists who add another layer to a mural or some wise guy or girl adds to a crass image in a public bathroom.

These cave painters were fixated on perspective, where the images were front view or profile. In other words, a selfie or a side selfie. Except for the bulls, the animals were shown from the side to see the legs, head, body, and tail. The bulls were shown front to show off their horns.

The animal paintings weren’t just relegated to the cave walls. Plaques were found in Namibia, Africa, inside a cave named Apollo 11. Seven fragments were found depicting five distinct animals, one of which is possibly a zebra. They date back to 23,000 BCE. This transition from wall to plaque continued into sculpture.

The earliest known sculpture was found in Hohlenstein-Stadel, Germany, and is made out of ivory of a woolly mammoth, and it is a foot tall. It may date back to 40,000 BCE. What’s fascinating about the sculpture is it hints at the theory that the development of the brain sprang out of that era as being imaginative. To look at the statue of a human body with a feline head is to view it as something from a dream. The conceptual idea behind the sculpture and any others produced is that they are magicians wearing masks. Does that mean that there was magic during the Stone Age? Perhaps only in the eyes of those ancient peoples. 

Most of them depicted naked women outside of this sculpture, known as ‘Venuses’ by archaeologists. Which when you study the context of figurines, these Venuses don’t represent deities at all. The most famous of all is the Venus of Willendorf, a limestone figurine of a naked woman found in Austria’s findspot (discovery area). It is believed that the multitude of female figures is due to the fascination with child-bearing abilities. 

When you first look at the figurine, you tend to want to start a fit of giggles because her body is disproportionate in a strange way. The sculptor was using the shape of the stone to create the image with no sense of naturalism. There is a textured detail on the head that suggested either curly hair or a woven hat, an idea that textiles started early.

Both the Venus of Willendorf and the Hohlenstein-Stadel figure were sculpted in the round, and no, it doesn’t mean that they had used a round-shaped rock to carve them. They are freestanding sculptures and not attached to a wall or a plaque, unlike a relief sculpture. The earliest known relief is the Laussel woman. She was found in a rock shelter in France and was part of a bigger block of stone. The sculptor chiseled her into shape, giving her a 2D look. She was also given the bulbous body as the Venus of Willendorf. What’s notable is that the sculptor gave her a pose, where she has a hand placed near her pelvic area and the other holding what’s believed to be a bison horn. The Laussel woman was among many other open-air art during the Old Stone Age (25,000 -20,000 BCE). No more dark, creepy caves. These sculptors were also familiar with color because red ochre could be found on the Venus of Willendorf and another famous relief, the Reclining Woman.

This is the start of more images of the reclining woman to come. There are many famous paintings with the iconic beauty lounging blissfully; think of Titian’s Venus of Urbino and Henry Moore’s sculpture Reclining Figure. Found in the La Magdeleine, France, it dates back to 12,000 BCE. Also found in this location is the depiction of a bison licking his flank made out of a reindeer horn. This piece served the function of being part of a spear-thrower. It has delicate detailing contributed by the tool of a burin; the texture is seen on the bison’s mane, around his eyes, nose, ears, and tongue.

Yet, another set of reliefs were found in Le Tuc d”Audoubert France dating back to 15,000 – 10,000 BCE. This time they were created with the use of clay against a freestanding rock. In profile, they measure two feet making them the most enormous Paleolithic sculptures. The sculptor shaped the body, mouth, eyes, nose, and manes with his hands. It probably didn’t look like the scene of Demi Moore playing with clay in the movie Ghost.  

A little girl and her father stumble upon a cave while exploring their land in Altamira, Spain; in 1879, they find a massive cave bearing colored paintings of bison. It sounds like a movie that was made not too long ago about this, but it’s a real encounter. Marcelino Sans de Sautuola and his young daughter Maria found a 60-foot mural on the cave ceiling, made some time around 13,000 – 11,000 BCE. The age of the cave paintings became an issue when some of the pompous archaeologists and academics labeled it a fraud. This view changed when other caves were discovered, sharing the same mineral-rich environment.

A theory that has been racking art historians’ minds is the ‘grouping’ of the bison in the Altamira paintings. Associating the bison to a group is wrong since there is no ground line, which is an invisible baseline that figures are poised on. Imagine a long line at the grocery store but in a painting. The painter was haphazard when it came to positioning the bison; he pretty much put them where he felt like putting them. The idea that there were different painters was used again.

Around 23,000 – 22,000 BCE, cave painters started leaving their ‘signatures’ on the wall next to their masterpieces. They would use their handprints in either a negative style or a positive style. The negative technique was used by placing their hand on the wall and brushing or blowing pigment over them, and in the positive style, the painter would dip their hand in paint and press it on the walls. I guess they did do some finger painting.

An example of the printed hands can be seen at Pech-Merle, France, where the prints went hand in hand (forgive the pun) with spotted horses. Some spots surrounded the horses, which implied that they were stones. The majority of the hands were in negative style. An interesting theory about the Pech-Merle is that the painters made their paintings from the inspiration of their environment. It is believed that one of the spotted horses was created because of a rock formation that looked like a horse’s head. Think back to the La Magdeleine bison, where they used clay on top of craggy outcroppings.

These Stone Age artists were particular when it came to using surfaces. Bison and cattle were exclusive to convex areas, and horses and hands were to concave regions. Convex is painting on a curved surface, like how you would imagine someone painting a globe. Concave is painting on an inward curve, similar to Native Americans painting bowls. What the preference means has been a mystery.

A theory that has many archaeologists underwears in a bunch since 1994 is the dating dilemma of the Chauvet caves in Vallon-Pont-d’Arc in France. They can’t seem to get the carbon dating of the pigment from the paintings correct. The issue causing these people to split up into parties is that the images indicated that the developmental style of art seems way too advanced, figuring that the Chauvet cave art is older than Lascaux Altamira and Pech-Merle. Remember I mentioned that in those caves, the art was mostly in outlines, silhouettes, and profiles? But in the Chauvet caves, the animals face each other, seen in one of the art pieces of battling rhinoceroses, or they follow each other in a procession; as if telling a narration. It seems like these painters were telling bedtime stories to their kids with cave art.

So, when exactly did these Stone Age painters develop artistic skills from profile images to narrative images? Is it between 30,000 – 28,000 or 15,000 – 13,000 BCE? The theory is still being tested and debated. Recently in 2020, the pigments were dated with a more advanced carbon dater, and it estimates that it’s around 36,000 BCE. Now it’s up to the archaeologists to study the art style against other cave paintings.

Ultimately, the big question is, why are there cave paintings in the first place? Why did these ancient people felt the need to cover the walls of dark, gloomy caves with images of animals? Guess what? There are many theories about this. Did you think there would be an actual answer?

Theory Number 1: Pure decoration. Maybe they wanted to make things livelier by decorating the caves, yet it’s not consistent with the fact that many of the images are in remote, tight spots.

Theory Number 2: The paintings had magical properties. The thought is that the painters believed that if they painted these creatures on the wall, they would control them. They would have rituals and dances that would bring them luck. Not sure how archaeologists figured that out. Maybe they found used ancient glow sticks.

Theory Number 3: Classroom setting. It’s possible that they used the images to teach each other about the animals that they would see. It has been suggested they wanted to learn about the creatures to ensure the survival of the species. Seems like the first signs of animal activism. Yet that doesn’t seem right because many of the animals depicted weren’t animals they ate. The ancient people of Altamira ate red deer, not bison.

Theory Number 4: A belief system. Some scholars got really imaginative to the point where they tried to come up with a story behind every image, such as the spots and squares. They thought that certain species were equated to humans or that the animals were deities. That would make for an amusing novel.

Unfortunately for these thinkers, these theories were flushed down the toilet. Without written, recorded proof, no idea will turn into fact to explain the Paleolithic cave paintings. After the Paleolithic came the Neolithic around 9000 BCE.

UPDATE: Recently it has been determined that the cave painting artists may have suffered from hypoxia, which is when there is barely any light and little air to breath causing one to hallucinate. This could be the answer as to why they chose to be in dark caves to paint – because of the possibility of having mystical senses.

Artemesia Gentileschi: The Artist Who Fought Against Rape with Art

Recently, an Artemesia Gentileschi painting has been acquired by the Getty art museum in L.A. through an undisclosed seller. They plan on having it on display for viewing when the time comes for reopening.

An artist of the 17th century, Gentileschi, was left unknown until the 1970s when art historian Linda Nochlin wrote an article of the women of art titled, Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

Artemesia Gentileschi was born in 1593 in Italy. Her father was artist Orazio Gentileschi, and it was he who taught her the art style reminiscent of Caravaggio, since she could not be an apprentice in the all-male art studios. She was the first female to enter Florence’s Accademia del Disegno (Academy of Design). It was there that she honed her skills enough to grab the attention of wealthy patrons, such as the grand duke of Tuscany and the Medici family.

Her life was tainted by a rape that occurred when she was only 17 years old by her fathers’ employee. The rapist was charged and sentenced, yet the sentence was never carried out. It influenced much of her work, where she would showcase a heroine in shocking settings. Along with the dark subject favored by her influence of Caravaggio, Gentileschi created such works as Judith Slaying Holofernes, based on the story from the book of Judith where Israel is delivered from the Assyrians.

The one that the Getty purchased was of Lucretia, the Roman heroine who committed suicide after being raped, which prompted a rebellion to overthrow the Roman monarchy. It shows Lucretia, dagger in hand, her head tilted back, peering at perhaps heaven, just before plunging the blade into her chest.

A case of life imitating art? A silent cry from a rape victim whose rapist went unpunished? A call to injustices and discrimination against women; as relevant now as it was in the 17th century? Perhaps a culmination of the three.

Thanks to this acquisition and the 1976 exhibition catalog, Women Artists: 1550-1950, Artemesia Gentileschi will be well known not only in art history but in the modern art world.

By Artemisia Gentileschi – Google Cultural Institute, Public Domain,

NFT: What the Heck is it, and Why is it so Popular?

NFT. Nerd Friendly Tech? Not Formal Trends? New Fandangle Thing? If you’ve been reading up on Art news, you’ll see these abbreviations popping up recently. NFT, aka nonfungible tokens (which sounds like something about funguses), are digital assets taking the art world by storm. Think of digital art, such as pioneering artist David Em, who created computer graphics in the late 70s; with a huge price tag and a freshness label. Recently, artist Mike Winkelman, with the cutesy art name Beeple, earned a whopping $69,346,250 for his collage of daily artwork “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS.”

The title explains it all, 5000 art pieces digitally combined. The buyer was, bear with me, Metakovan, the founders and financers of Metapurse, the largest NFT fund on the planet. Plenty of meta, excuse me, mula. EVERYDAYS is considered the third most valuable piece of art; move over Jeff Koons and David Hockney. This is only the beginning. You have another artist who goes by Grimes who totaled his sales at $6 million for a few of his works. The NFTs vary from whimsical to sports legends in the subject matter. Chris Torres sold his Nyan Cat, a graphic cat wearing a PopTart with a rainbow shooting out from his behind, for $590,000. Take a look at the image and tell me I didn’t describe it right. Grimes’ take on LeBron’s James awesome dunk for the Lakers inspired $200,000. They are also in the unlikeliest places; the band the Kings of Leon’s newest album is an NFT, and the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, is jumping into the hoopla by making his first tweet ever made into an NFT.

So, what’s the big deal over NFT? From what I gather, it’s a game-changer. Out of the minds of techies and finance gurus, an online hobby emerged into the art industry. NFT takes those subsequent digital assets and makes them non-exchangeable with another item of equal value. In other words, I can’t give you four quarters, and you’ll give me a dollar bill. Personally, I like carrying bills, than change. NFTs are stand-alone pieces of work.

If you’re familiar with Bitcoin, you’ll know about tokens (from the T part of the NFT) because it works in the same manner as cryptocurrency. If not, you’re not alone. Since this an art blog and I know art, not finance, I can only assume it’s digital money. Keeping in check are ‘blockchains’ which is like an electronic ledger of tokens in use. What makes NFTs the new hip thing to go after is that when you purchase a digital asset, it elevates the certificate of authenticity as guaranteeing that you own a one-of-a-kind piece of art. What better way to show your status as a big-time art buyer than an artwork under NFT?

If we are looking to buy some NFTs, where do we go, and how do we do it? The way it works is by getting yourself some cryptocurrency. Then you go shopping at an NFT marketplace, which is more like an eBay type of store. You would go to an auction with the artworks. There’s still another question. How do you know you are getting a legit NFT? The artist has to ‘mint’ the work; they access a file through the market and register it. Surprisingly, it is pretty easy to do. I feel in the future; there’s going to be some guidelines that would curb that. Now, if you’re thinking this is only for the art world, think again. These NFTs have a far-reaching grasp in other realms, such as loans. NFTs can be used as collateral to obtain one.

Dealing with NFTs has its side effects. There’s a possibility that this will all go out as a fad, and you’re stuck with cryptocurrency for it. The only way it can last is if the public interest lasts. Another issue is the purchasing of fake art. You can mistakenly buy a piece with an NFT stamped on it, but it’s a fake. It also has environmental implications. By using cryptocurrency transactions, electricity is being consumed in large amounts, surpassing the average household use.