Fine Art

42 articles
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Interview: Yayoi Kusama

An interview with the Japanese artist, who has resided in a mental institution since committing herself in 1975.

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The Greatest Fake-Art Scam in History?

How a couple made millions on uncanny forgeries.

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Portrait of the Artist as a Postman

A profile of Kermit Oliver, a reclusive, critically acclaimed artist who designs scarves for Hermès and works nights at the Waco post office.

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So You Think You Can Paint

Inside ArtPrize, a competition in Michigan that’s either a “naked bid to buy cultural cachet in a flyover-country backwater” or a “populist wresting of aesthetic judgment from the snobbery of elites in New York and Los Angeles,” depending on who you ask.

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The Electric Pencil

The story of Edward Deeds, a state mental hospital patient and artistic genius.

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Interview: Paula Cooper

Talking with the influential New York gallerist.

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An Odd Bird

When U.S. customs law met abstract art in the form of a bird, “shimmering and soaring toward the ceiling while the lawyers debated whether it was an ‘original sculpture’ or a metal ‘article or ware not specially provided for’ under the 1922 Tariff Act.”

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Sponge-Fraud!

The curious case of SpongeBob SquarePants illustrator Todd White, three ninjas, and an art caper.

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Experience & Innocence

An interview with John Waters.

Real life is seeing and art is looking. If you’re successful, it’s a magic trick: you take one thing, and you put it in here, and it changes in one second, and then you can never look at that thing again the same way. That is what art is to me.

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The Ultimate Counterfeiter Isn't a Crook—He's an Artist

A painter’s dogged, doomed pursuit of the perfect $100 bill.

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Art for Everybody

On the empire built by “Painter of Light” Thomas Kinkade.

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On the Market

An essay on working at Sotheby’s.

Art pricing is not absolute magic; there are certain rules, which to an outsider can sound parodic. Paintings with red in them usually sell for more than paintings without red in them. Warhol’s women are worth more, on average, than Warhol’s men. The reason for this is a rhetorical question, asked in a smooth continental accent: “Who would want the face of some man on their wall?”

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Keith Haring: An Intimate Conversation

A profile of the artist.

"Unfortunately, death is a fact of life. I don't think it's happened to me any more unfairly than to anyone else. It could always be worse. I've lost a lot of people, but I haven't lost everybody. I didn't lose my parents or my family. But it's been an incredible education, facing death, facing it the way that I've had to face it at this early age."

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Laissez-Faire Aesthetics

A critical look at the contemporary art marketplace.

The trouble is that a business model has come to drive the entire art world, and like the corporate executive who regards the launch of each new product as a challenge to the success of the last one, because you must keep growing or you will die, the arts community finds itself in a state of permanent anxiety. There always has to be a new artist whom the media will embrace as enthusiastically as they embraced Warhol; there always has to be a show that will top the excitement generated by the last blockbuster at the Modern or the Met.

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Interview: Laurie Anderson

The main thing that attracts me to Buddhism is probably what attracts every artist to being an artist—that it’s a godlike thing. You are the ultimate authority. There is no other ultimate authority. Now, for some artists that’s difficult, because they want to have the art police. They want to have the critic who hands out tickets and says, “That’s too loose.”
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Young German Artists Boldly Define the 'New Jew'

Creating an identity that’s no longer tied to the past.

Monsters occasionally assume a completely unexpected appearance. All of a sudden, Adolf Hitler is standing onstage wearing an Adidas tracksuit and flip-flops, and his name isn't Hitler; it's Oliver Polak. And the monster isn't really Adolf Hitler, either; it's the audience's laughter. It starts with a sputter, like something trying to break free from its restraints. But then it bursts out as if suddenly liberated.

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A One-Man Market

A look at Andy Warhol’s enduring popularity and power in the art market.

Warhol’s art was not supposed to be a matter of emotion, introspection or spiritual quest; it was to be an image, pure and simple. “During the 1960s,” he wrote knowingly in 1975, “I think, people forgot what emotions were supposed to be. And I don’t think they’ve ever remembered.”

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Pipe Dreaming

Considering the screen saver.

Even when napping, the computer seems beset by iterative nightmares of a deadline. The pipes come to represent, rather than imaginarily suspend, the clogging of the task queue when one is away. When the screen has become as dense as Celtic knot-work, the entire image cracks and dissipates, as if burned out from its involute frenzy—before beginning again in the dark.

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Interview: Ellsworth Kelly

A conversation with the 88-year-old abstract painter.

PALTROW: Did you design camouflage while in the army?

KELLY: I did posters. I was in what they called the camouflage secret army. This was in 1943. The people at Fort Meade got the idea to make rubber dummies of tanks, which we inflated on the spot and waited for Germans to see through their night photography or spies. We were in Normandy, for example, pretending to be a big, strong armored division which, in fact, was still in England. That way, even though the tanks were only inflated, the Germans would think there were a lot of them there, a lot of guns, a whole big infantry. We just blew them up and put them in a field.

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Bitter Spoils

A profile of the art world’s most notorious dealer dynasty.

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Willem de Kooning Still Dazzles

From his arrival in New York as a penniless 22-year-old Dutch stowaway through years of obscurity until emerging as a major artist in his 50s.

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Interview: Sol LeWitt

"Serial systems and their permutations function as a narrative that has to be understood. People still see things as visual objects without understanding what they are. They don’t understand that the visual part may be boring but it’s the narrative that’s interesting. It can be read as a story, just as music can be heard as form in time. The narrative of serial art works more like music than like literature."
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Clock Stopper

A profile of gallery owner Paula Cooper.

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Down the Line

The web has revolutionized communications and commerce, but what does it mean for art?

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Matter of Rothko

The story of Levine’s father and his involvement in the legal battle over the 798 finished paintings Rothko had in his studio when he was discovered there in a pool of blood. The case spawned a feature film, Legal Eagles, and hinged on an unusual question; was Mark Rothko an artistic genius?

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Double Vision

The perspective-bending art of identical twins Trevor and Ryan Oakes.

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Interview: Nan Goldin

These were the people I lived with, these were my friends, these were my family, this was myself. I’d photograph people dancing while I was dancing Or people having sex while I was having sex. Or people drinking while I was drinking.
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First Impressions

The discovery of 30,000-year old, perfectly preserved cave paintings in southern France offer a glimpse into a world that 21st-century humans can never hope to understand. The article that inspired Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams.”

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Picasso’s Erotic Code

When they met, he was 45 and she was 17. In her 14 years as his mistress, she appeared in countless paintings, including Guernica.

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Killing Orson Welles at Midnight

On Christian Marclay’s film The Clock.

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It’s Not Beautiful

A profile of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

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The Mexican Suitcase

A suitcase was smuggled from Spain to Mexico during the Spanish Civil War containing negatives from three photographers would later become legends and all die in war zones. The suitcase disappeared.

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The Forger's Story

Searching for (and easily finding) Mark Augustus Landis, the man behind the “longest, strangest forgery spree the American art world has known.”

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Metamorphosis

How a burst blood vessel transformed the mind of a deliberate, controlled chiropractor into that of an utterly unfiltered, massively prolific artist.

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The Last Wife

A profile of the late artist and author Norris Church Mailer, who stayed with her husband Norman despite his notorious philandering.

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Crimes of the Art?

What happens when a decades old video, featuring the artist Larry Rivers’ prepubescent daughters bare-chested, is claimed both as child pornography and as an important part of the archive of a major American painter.

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How Annie Got Shot

If Annie Leibovitz sold her work through the traditional channels of the art world, she would have amassed a small fortune. But at the tail end of a career that has snubbed art galleries and collectors, she is destitute.

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A 20th-Century Master Scam

How a London con man turned a struggling painter into a master forger, sold more than 200 fakes, and exposed the art industry as its own worst enemy.

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Stealing Mona Lisa

Was the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre actually a smokescreen to obscure an even more audacious art crime?

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The Mark of a Masterpiece

The man who keeps finding famous fingerprints on uncelebrated works of art.

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The Disappearance of Ford Beckman

How a celebrated American artist was forced to trade his multimillion-dollar collection for a job selling donuts.

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The Paralyzed Cyclops

Lawrence Weschler mediates an argument between two contemporary art big-hitters in this free ranging essay on the meaning of Cubism.