Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas


I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone all the best for the Holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Longing for Summer

Being caught in a deep-freeze right now, I fondly look back to the summer months spent in Vienna and surroundings, and later in Montreal:




Tuesday, December 16, 2008

De Es Schwertberger

De Es

A few days ago, my friend De Es had been featured with a page on facebook by someone unknown.
Since De Es has no control over that page, both Leo Plaw and myself, on behalf of De Es whom we were in contact with, reported the unauthorized page to Facebook Administration and I am happy to announce that the page was deleted. De Es has since joined our group of Visionary Artists on facebook.

Please visit his website:

De Es Schwertberger

Personal Information:

De Es Schwertberger (born Dieter Schwertberger 1942, Gresten, Austria), commonly known simply as De Es (since 1972), is an Austrian artist, painter and modeller. His work has been shown in exhibitions in New York City, where he lived for a short time, and Switzerland.
In 1973 De Es went on to serve as the assistant to Ernst Fuchs, at the Summer Academy in Reichenau. It was in this time that De Es went through the Stone Period, in which his art work consisted mainly of objects and people made from cracked rock and stone. De Es moved to SoHo, New York City in 1975, continuing his Stone Period of art work. In the 1979 he opened his own Gallery, Studio Planet Earth, before ending the Stone Period with a series of 'Time-Portals' paintings.
De Es' 1980s period of work opened with his work on the vast Transformation cycle of paintings, depicting 'Planetarians' (fictional beings invented by De Es), which were displayed at the Dome of Peace exhibition in 1980.
In the early 1990s he continued with the Planetarian sculptures, with an outdoor exhibition of forty Planetarians at Gurten Mountain, near Bern, Switzerland, marking the 800th 'birthday' anniversary of the city. In 1993 he published his book Heavy Light, a selection of his work from throughout his life. He also started work on another book, Prime Matter, which covered his Stone Period, which was published over the following years.
He lives and continues to work in Austria.

The Hubble Deep Field: The Most Important Image Ever Taken

In 2003, the Hubble Space Telescope took the image of a millenium, an image that shows our place in the universe. Anyone who understands what this image represents, is forever changed by it.

Go to the Hubble Website for a wealth of fascinating facts and images:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Germaine Greer on Hirst critic Robert Hughes | Art and design | The Guardian

Note to Robert Hughes: Bob, dear, Damien Hirst is just one of many artists you don't get!

Hirst has his defenders. Germaine Greer thinks Hughes (and the rest of us poor and unwashed masses) simply "don't get it". My question to Greer would be: "What is there not to get?" Nothing he does is really very clever (other than his uncanny ability to bilk nouveau rich people and con curators) - I believe the 'work' is simplistic to the point of childish exhibitionism, and perhaps that is the appeal for Greer and the moneyed Lemmings, much like the stockmarket investors getting fleeced by BRE-X Fools Gold (the then corporate Headquarters Sign in Calgary looked as if designed by bling-artist Hirst).
Post-Modernism is gasping it's last breath, with Guillermo Vargas Habacuc and Piero Manzoni as 'fine' examples of it's decline. Hello Tate Gallery: How about a group show with Hirst?
Greer lectures us from a podium of superiority, the "illuminati literati", which is laughable and sad at the same time.
The Guardian also ran a poll, titled: An artistic licence to print money? And guess what: 87.7% thought Hirst was a Huckster.
But Greer and her ilk know better, of course.
I wonder if former BRE-X VP John Felderhof owns a Hirst - naw, he is to smart for that. But what is conceivable is that they could probably be neighbors in the Cayman Islands (as long as Hirst and his rotting fish are located downwind, I guess).

Germaine Greer on Hirst critic Robert Hughes Art and design The Guardian

Manmade Monster - The art of Roman Signer - OR IS IT?

Manmade Monster - The art of Roman Signer

Interesting images - they tickle my surreal sentiments!

Here is another one:


And here is the background story: No less surreal than the 'REAL' Roman Signer:


Dear mr. Rapp,
Firstly I'd like to thank you for the kind reaction you left on my website (
Perhaps this website needs a little explanation.Okay, where to begin.I am a student Communication & Multimedia Design at Zuyd University in Maastricht, the Netherlands.For a school module called "The Narrative" I was required to make an interactive walk in the city of Maastricht, which had to begin at the Bonnefanten Museum.
I've always had a passion for art, and especially surreal art, among several other art styles, so this led me to a specific concept and context for my project.My concept for this interactive walk was that the user, the person walking the tour with headphones on, was drawn into a surreal world, which played entirely inside the Bonnefanten Museum.This surreal world was created by a surreal artist, who wanted to create the ultimate surreal art piece wherein his subconscious mind played the most important role.In order to do this the artist drugged himself, let himself get hypnotised, erased his memory and planted a few mind suggestions into his brain, after which he was dropped off at the Bonnefanten Museum to awake there.This is when the story begin.It turns out in the end that the user of the interactive tour is the artist himself and regains his memories and identiy. This is both the end of the audio tour, as well as the resolution and completion of the work of art.
Anyway, to make a long story short. The website itself is not the real website of Roman Signer, it is merely a hoax to stimulate people to walk the tour and give a feeling of authenticity.This audio tour is not a real audio tour which can be taken in the Bonnefanten museum, it is merely an assignment I made for school.I've added some work of accomplished surreal artists on the site to further stimulate the feeling of authenticity, among which is work of yours.If you wish it to be removed, I will honour your request immediately.I am also very touched by your positive comment.
I've included both the spoken script aswell as the general concept in case you would like some indepth information on the project.
If you wish to contact me you can do so on this email address. You can also see a little more about me on although I must say this is a work in progress (this site has only been up for 1 week now)
Kind regards,
Vincent Olislagers


And here is a link to a relevant Jon Beinart blog about one of the above images:

The above picture of the 'Manmade Monster' actually comes from the album of the photographer Philip Toledano:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Damien Hirst - The Rijksmuseum - and the Ultimate Bling | Leo Plaw - Fantastic and Visionary Artwork

Damien Hirst - The Rijksmuseum - and the Ultimate Bling

Today's News Item by my friend Leo Plaw shows what is wrong in the Artmarket. Is he alone with his opinion? Hardly! Just check out my PREVIOUS BLOG

December 11th, 2008

Damian Hirst - For the Love of God

Damien Hirst - For the Love of God

I came to Amsterdam for the Dreamscapes exhibition. With a few hours to spare before the opening, where I would be viewing modern painting masters, I would pay a visit to the Rijksmuseum and see some of the Old Masters.

Much to my surprise and disappointment, I found the entrance dominated by Damien Hirst and a queue. I don’t ever recall having to queue for the Rijksmuseum. The queue was one of those artifical queues you see often see in front of those superficial night clubs, that rate style above substance, continually keeping a queue of people outside for “security” reasons, while also again putting appearance before all else, fabricating a false sense of exclusitivity and popularity.

I made my way about the museum looking at all of the fine artwork and historical museum pieces, until I came acros another queue. This time inside the museum, people queued for the special room where Hirst’s diamond skull was on display.

Hirst’s skull is suposedly the world’s most expensive artwork, but this is rather suspect, when you consider that he bought back from himself. Stranger still, according to the Guardian, up to twenty workers who make his works will not have their contracts renewed even though Hirst’s gallery breaking auction earned him 130 million euro at Sotheby’s in September. Nevertheless, about half his London-based staff were told this week that their contracts will not be renewed.

“It was unexpected, especially after Hirst made a killing from the Sotheby’s sale”, a source told the Guardian.

Whether sacking staff will have much of an impact on the financial health of Hirst’s art-producing company is unclear. The workers are said to be paid only £19,000 (22,600 euro) a year. That amount pales in comparison with the prices paid for works by Hirst.

While I was curious to see Hirst’s ultimate bling, the queue looked rather dismal as well as the prospect of participating in the hype. The Netherlands have been inundated by the propaganda. It seems that not all are sold on the fanfare, especially amoungst some of the Dutch museums competing against the Hirst Rijksmuseum media machine.

I circumnavigated the clot of people ignoring the art about them waiting to be admitted into Hirst’s sanctum of superficiality and progressed to the next room. Superficial is the catch frase here, as superficially the room appeared to be a continuation of museum’s permanant collection. However this was the curator’s attempt to make some relavance with Hirst’s bling by allowing him to select from their collection at his whim. Hello? What is the curator being paid to do?

Hirst seems to be astutely aware of this also, as he seized upon the opportunity presented by curator for him to make any inane comment he desires regarding the artwork he’s selected from Rijksmuseum collection. Is not the curator embaressed, or do they find him so witty. It would seem to be that Hirst his provocative best to insult the museum and its curator bald faced, and have them love it. “I will tell you are fools, and have you agree and tell me how genius I am for telling you so.” The same tatic with his artwork.

Before finally departing the Rijksmuseum shaking my head, I made a last stop by the Hirst space setup in the garden. Here you can buy all manner of diamond skull merchandise, and if you feel so inclined, leave your comments about the exhibition. Perhaps the museum, was being cautious and testing the waters. Perhaps they weren’t really so confident about their dispaly. Why else ask for visitor feedback?

I left my comments, asking why they feel the need to copy all of the other museums. As a museum for Dutch cultural heiratage, this made them unique. As museum of modern “block buster” exhibitions, they are like all of the other me too Mc Donalds museums francised across the world.

Damien Hirst - The Rijksmuseum - and the Ultimate Bling Leo Plaw - Fantastic and Visionary Artwork

Robert Hughes on Damien Hirst's upcoming Sotheby's auction | Art and design | The Guardian

And just when you thought colorful, satyrical (and in my opinion RIGHT ON) art criticism is dead, here is a well written piece by Robert Hughes:

Damien Hirst at Sotheby's auction rooms this morning to promote Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, an auction of his work

'A pirate' ... Damien Hirst at Sotheby's to promote Beautiful Inside My Head Forever. Photograph: Felix Clay

By now, with the enormous hype that has been spun around it, there probably isn't an earthworm between John O'Groats and Land's End that hasn't heard about the auction of Damien Hirst's work at Sotheby's on Monday and Tuesday - the special character of the event being that the artist is offering the work directly for sale, not through a dealer. This, of course, is persiflage. Christie's and Sotheby's are now scarcely distinguishable from private dealers anyway: they in effect manage and represent living artists, and the Hirst auction is merely another step in cutting gallery dealers out of the loop.

If there is anything special about this event, it lies in the extreme disproportion between Hirst's expected prices and his actual talent. Hirst is basically a pirate, and his skill is shown by the way in which he has managed to bluff so many art-related people, from museum personnel such as Tate's Nicholas Serota to billionaires in the New York real-estate trade, into giving credence to his originality and the importance of his "ideas". This skill at manipulation is his real success as an artist. He has manoeuvred himself into the sweet spot where wannabe collectors, no matter how dumb (indeed, the dumber the better), feel somehow ignorable without a Hirst or two.

Actually, the presence of a Hirst in a collection is a sure sign of dullness of taste. What serious person could want those collages of dead butterflies, which are nothing more than replays of Victorian decor? What is there to those empty spin paintings, enlarged versions of the pseudo-art made in funfairs? Who can look for long at his silly sub-Bridget Riley spot paintings, or at the pointless imitations of drug bottles on pharmacy shelves? No wonder so many business big-shots go for Hirst: his work is both simple-minded and sensationalist, just the ticket for newbie collectors who are, to put it mildly, connoisseurship-challenged and resonance-free. Where you see Hirsts you will also see Jeff Koons's balloons, Jean-Michel Basquiat's stoned scribbles, Richard Prince's feeble jokes and pin-ups of nurses and, inevitably, scads of really bad, really late Warhols. Such works of art are bound to hang out together, a uniform message from our fin-de-siècle decadence.

Hirst's fatuous religious references don't hurt either. "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever", the sale is titled. One might as well be in Forest Lawn, contemplating a loved one - which, in effect, Hirst's embalmed dumb friends are, bisected though they may be. Consider the Golden Calf in this auction, pickled, with a gold disc on its head and its hoofs made of real gold. For these bozos, gold is religion, Volpone-style. "Good morning to the day; and next, my gold! Open the shrine, that I may see my saint!"

His far-famed shark with its pretentious title, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, is "nature" for those who have no conception of nature, in whose life nature plays no real part except as a shallow emblem, a still from Jaws. It might have had a little more point if Hirst had caught it himself. But of course he didn't and couldn't; the job was done by a pro fisherman in Australia, and paid for by Charles Saatchi, that untiring patron of the briefly new.

The publicity over the shark created the illusion that danger had somehow been confronted by Hirst, and come swimming into the gallery, gnashing its incisors. Having caught a few large sharks myself off Sydney, Montauk and elsewhere, and seen quite a few more over a lifetime of recreational fishing, I am underwhelmed by the blither and rubbish churned out by critics, publicists and other art-world denizens about Hirst's fish and the existential risks it allegedly symbolises.

One might as well get excited about seeing a dead halibut on a slab in Harrods food hall. Living sharks are among the most beautiful creatures in the world, but the idea that the American hedge fund broker Steve Cohen, out of a hypnotised form of culture-snobbery, would pay an alleged $12m for a third of a tonne of shark, far gone in decay, is so risible that it beggars the imagination. As for the implied danger, it is worth remembering that the number of people recorded as killed by sharks worldwide in 2007 was exactly one. By comparison, a housefly is a ravening murderous beast. Maybe Hirst should pickle one, and throw in a magnifying glass or two.

Of course, $12m would be nothing to Cohen, but the thought of paying that price for a rotten fish is an outright obscenity. And there are plenty more where it came from. For future customers, Hirst has a number of smaller sharks waiting in large refrigerators, and one of them is currently on show in its tank of formalin in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Inert, wretched and wrinkled, and already leaking the telltale juices of its decay, it is a dismal trophy of - what? Nothing beyond the fatuity of art-world greed. The Met should be ashamed. If this is the way America's greatest museum brings itself into line with late modernist decadence, then heaven help it, for the god Neptune will not.

The now famous diamond-encrusted skull, lately unveiled to a gawping art world amid deluges of hype, is a letdown unless you believe the unverifiable claims about its cash value, and are mesmerised by mere bling of rather secondary quality; as a spectacle of transformation and terror, the sugar skulls sold on any Mexican street corner on the Day of the Dead are 10 times as vivid and, as a bonus, raise real issues about death and its relation to religious belief in a way that is genuinely democratic, not just a vicarious spectacle for money groupies such as Hirst and his admirers.

It certainly suggests where Hirst's own cranium is that his latest trick with the skull is to show photos of the thing in London's White Cube gallery, just ordinary photo reproductions made into 100cm x 75cm silkscreen prints and then sprinkled (yay, Tinkerbell, go for it!) with diamond dust, and to charge an outrageous $10,000 each for them. The edition size is 250. You do the maths. But, given the tastes of the collectoriat, he may well get away with this - in the short run. Even if his auction makes the expected tonne of money, it will bid fair to be one of the less interesting cultural events of 2008.

Robert Hughes on Damien Hirst's upcoming Sotheby's auction Art and design The Guardian

And don't miss this brillant piece by Maclean Magazine's Andrew Potter: Snarkiness about sharkiness misses the point

Robert Venosa Interviews Peter Gric | Leo Plaw - Fantastic and Visionary Artwork

Robert Venosa Interviews Peter Gric | Leo Plaw - Fantastic and Visionary Artwork