The Mental Museum

Archive for March 2008

The Starns

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     Mike and Doug Starn live in New York. They are identical twin brothers who collectively produce photographic masterpieces.  They have a long standing fascination with various dichotomous aspects of life today; light and dark, past and present, nature and technology, part and whole and distinctive dualisms that have been evident even in their early works. Together, they attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and since then have have been associated together and highly respected in the art world.  Known for their alternative photographic processing, the Starns utilize a wide range of printing methods. Below, taken from the series titled Black Pulse, is a Lamba Digital, or Lambda Metallic C-Print. This printing method is a new technology that allows for images to be inkjet printed on metallic based papers, producing a wide tonal range an beautifully saturated colors.bpl_13.jpg Impressive, right?!They are also highly revered for their unique installations. As they are under the influence of their dualing themes, it is no surprise that their display methods defy reality and call into question elements of proportion and ultimately, importance.  In the image below, the Starns used traditional silver gelatin printing methods on very fine and translucent Mulberry paper from Thailand. Most likely, they coated each sheet with a liquid emulsion, essentially creating their own textured photo paper, exposed them under an enlarger or from transparency contact sheet and processed each carefully through traditional darkroom chemicals. The weak sheets that make up the composition are probably attributed to the harsh chemicals in which they were soaked. From the series Attracted to Light …atl_01.jpg  From another series titled Structure of Thought, the Starns create a more painterly equation of techniques. Using ink jet archival prints as their base, they incorporate an ancient method called encaustic painting, or hot wax painting. As early at the 6th century, beeswax was often used mixed with colored pigment which was then applied to surfaces such board or canvas as the painting medium. There are many variations on this recipe, however, beeswax is the most traditional. In the work below, it looks as though our Starn twins have used this encaustic method without pigment and instead,  to encase their collage with this unique aesthetic. Varnish has also been added to likely smooth surface of this wax material.sot_07.jpg  As the Starns strive to comprehend and express in their work these notions and queries about dueling entities such as past present, young old, nature technology etc… The mediums in which they work even seem to encompass and well represent these states of mind. Where we have the latest technology in printing methods shown at top, and then mixed methods of tradition and innovation with their Attracted to Light series, and then lastly listed, they are using painting methods from centuries ago to enhance their cutting edge photographic methods. Its brilliant. Each work offers some aspect of duality. Each portrays characteristics that could only be inspired and created by a dueling team in it of itself The Starn Twins.


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March 19, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Posted in Art

Toulouse-Lautrec My Hero

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Born in France and was not given the body of a dwarf, however figurative diseases caused his bones to become weak and one of his legs to stop growing. Thus, he developed a torso that of an adult yet had the legs of a child. In essence, he was a dwarf, measuring only 5 feet tall as full grown man. This disfiguration also effected his sexual life. Because he was left mentally handicapped and incapable of participating in regular activities, he immersed himself in art and became a major figure in the post impressionism era. He found a safe haven, good company and artistic inspiration among the brothels of Paris, among the social outcasts of society is where his talent flourished (and also where he later contracted syphilis). Although far from a performer himself, and more a patron to these places, his perception was unique in that he could almost empathize with his subjects…his friends, rather than objectify them. It proving to be a great vantage point for his artwork.  Below, do you think he is reflecting….or projecting ?


As a trained printmaker, he also created promotional material for these venues; especially and probably most renown, the Moulin Rouge in Paris.

368px-toulouse-lautrec_-_moulin_rouge_-_la_goulue.jpg images.jpeg

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March 7, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Art

Gustave Moreau

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Oedipus’s was born to King Laitus and Queen Jocasta of Thebes, the main city in Upper Egypt in ancient Greece. When Jocasta was pregnant with Oedipus, Laitus consulted an oracle and the oracle told him that his son was destined to kill him and marry his mother. In fear of this happening, Laitus left his own baby son out in the woods to die. The baby Oedipus was found by the King and Queen of Corinth. As for the sphinx; the city of Thebes was afflicted with a monster which infested the highroads. It was called the Sphinx and had the body of a lion and the upper part of a woman. It lay crouched on the top of a rock, and arrested all travelers who came that way. She would propose to them a riddle, with the condition that those who could solve it should pass safely, but those who failed should be killed. No one yet had succeeded in solving it; thus everyone had been killed. One day, a wandering Oediups approached the Sphinx and he received the riddle as follows; “What animal is that which in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on two and in the evening upon three?” Oediupus replied: “Man; who in childhood creeps on hands and knees, in manhood walks erect, and in old age with the aid of a staff.” The sphinx was mortified at the fact that Oedipus had solved his riddle. She fell from her rock and perished. The gratitude of the people of Thebes for the death of the feared Sphinx was so great that they made Oedipus their king, giving him in marriage to their widowed queen, Jocasta. Unbenounced to Oediups, he was about to marry his biological mother and fulfill the prophecy that had laid before him all his life. When Oedipus later learned the truth, he went insane, gouged out his eyes and wander the countryside, cared for by his daughters till death.

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March 6, 2008 at 10:41 pm

Posted in Art

Picasso’s Bread Hands

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 Robert Doisneau was a french born artist. Best known for his street photography, he shot with Vogue photographers before freelancing on his own. His work was highly influential and is highly sought after by today’s art collectors. With his ability to take the decisive moment to a new level, one of his most renown works, titled Picasso and the Loaves, seen above, was taken in a French cafe in 1952.

In 1993 Steve Martin wrote a play titled Picasso at the Lapin Agile. The play takes place in 1904 at a small bar in Paris called the Lapin Agile where Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso meet as they are both on the verge of amazing ideas. Einstein will soon announce his theory of relativity and Picasso will soon debut with his painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.  Below is New York commercial photographer, Chris Buck’s homage to all three artists’ Steve Martin, Robert Doisneau and Pablo Picasso, intertwined works of art. 


Steve Martin, COVER Pdn November 2006 Chris Buck

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March 5, 2008 at 8:40 pm

Posted in Art