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Ben-Day Dots – An Artist’s Dwelling (9)

The Ben-Day dots printing process, named after illustrator and printer Benjamin Henry Day, Jr. and is similar to Pointillism (Think of  Georges Seurat‘s The Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and how it changes from an amalgam of tiny dots to a fully shaded image based on one’s proximity to the canvas). Depending on the effect, color and optical illusion needed, small colored dots are closely spaced, widely spaced or overlapping to create the illusion of shadow, color, and dimension. These dots differ from the printing process in newspapers (ever notice those little dots on the edges of a page) – those are halftone dots or dot gain – and differ from the Ben-Day dot in that they come in many sizes, circumferences, spacing and diameters. Ben-Day dots are able to express an image while all dots on the page remain the same size.  Most people are familiar with Ben-day dots without even realizing. Why? The simple answer is Western-style comic books from the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Puma 917 – Popart Pack – Roy Lichtenstein

Hi! I am a Ben-Day dot, all the circles above are the same size!

Hi! I am a Halftone dot, I help to create images with dots of different sizes. 

Pulp comic books used benday dots in primary colors to inexpensively create the secondary colors such as flesh tone. The dotting technique was also an inexpensive way for artists and printers to create shading and depth. Ben-Day dots were considered the hallmark of American pop-artist Roy Lichtenstein, who enlarged and exaggerated them in many of his paintings and sculptures. In addition to appropriating comic books’ melodramatic content, Lichtenstein manually simulated the Benday dots used in the mechanical reproduction of images. One is not supposed to actually “see the dots” in images however, in Lichtenstein’s paintings the dots are over-sized and a central tenant. In this way, the painter is taking something robotic and manual (and hidden) and forcing to be the organic, man-made focus of the canvas.

 Roy Lichtenstein, Drowning Girl, 1963

The artist himself explains, “I was interested in the fact that the cartoon faces and so forth were so unreal and that we took them, generally for realistic. If you go through the magazine, the girl looked pretty in the picture, you know. Then when you really look at what you’ve got—black lines and red lips—that there isn’t anything in this picture that’s real. I was interested in say, the style of, say, a pretty girl in a comic book, or a hero, whatever it was manufactured out of a kind of idealism as to what people should look like, modified by economies of the printing process.”  There is also a dark-humor inherent in Lichtenstein’s ability to make-fun of a character’s death, or the dramatic narrative of a comic book, by oversimplifying it in large format.

ROY LICHTENSTEIN’S STUDIO, AS PHOTOGRAPHED BY HORST; TAKEN FROM ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST’S “CELEBRITY HOMES II”, 1981.

Comic books and printing techniques are often very focused on properly recreating a human character by using mechanical means. However, I am more interested in how these “dots” can recreate the oeuvre and warmth of a living space. In Interior Series by Roy Lichtenstein the idea of a “home” is explored and mocked. The prints of the Interior Series are banal domestic environments inspired by furniture ads he found in telephone books. The Interiors are based on advertisements, most of which Lichtenstein cut from the Yellow Pages – further challenging the idea of and blurring the lines between “low art, commercial art, and high art”.

 

Photographer Laurie Lambrecht worked as a part-time assistant to Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein from 1990 to 1992, helping him to inventory his studio in preparation for his 1993 retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan.

The Interiors, one of the artist’s major final series, portray colorful magazine spreads of rooms for purchase. With the artist’s usual dry wit, they depict domestic spaces, occasionally occupied by Nudes from his other late series. his body of colorful paintings and prints reflects the excess of the 1980s. I was lucky enough to view one of these LARGE format paintings in person at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and let me tell you they are massive, mural sized pieces. They are almost the size of the room they are trying to portray and give the effect of actually being in a real room (which is incredible seeing as though they are all on a 2d plane). They hit you in the face like Whaam!

La Sortie by Roy Lichtenstein. Image found HERE.

Image found HERE. 

Roy Lichtenstein’s Interior with Skyline. I spy a Saarinen design.

Wallpaper with blue floor interior by Roy Lichtenstein. Image found HERE.

Modern Room by Roy Lichteinstein. Image found HERE. I spy mid-century modern and an homage to Warhol.

The Den by Roy Lichtenstein. Image found HERE.

Image from Roy Lichtenstein: Interiors, by  Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Fitzpatrick, Dorothy Lichtenstein printed by Hudson Hills, 1999., pg. 58

The Living Room by Roy Lichteinstein. Image found HERE.

Roy Lichtenstein – Interior with Red Wall – lot 47 – $7,026,500, est. $8 to 12 million via ArtNet. Roy Lichtenstein’s 10 foot tall Interior with Red Wall (1991), as seen above, sold to a telephone bidder for $6.2 million ($7,026,500 with fees) against a pre-sale estimate of $8 million-$10 million. I spy lots of Knoll inspired design items. Zap! Bang! Whoosh!

So how can you live in this mechanically produced Ben-Day dot world of excess, consumerism, pop and color? Have no fear! Zing! Swoosh! Zap! Hint: stick to CMKY or RGB tones, meaning Yellows, Reds, Green, Blue, and other primaries. Look here:

 

Shop by the Numbers: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11a / 11b / 12

 

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The Affordable Art Fair

Shaking up the dusty model of art as an elite pastime, the Affordable Art Fair showcases new artists, galleries, and programming! Yesterday I was even treated to a Robert Blackburn printmaking station and workshop, free local beers from Heartland Brewery, cocktails by St. Germain, and knit wall installations (Renee Prisble, Orange Jelly, 2012, sweaters, polyfill, zip ties). Many wonderfully dressed individuals also descended onto 7 West 34th Street, 11th Floor and their sartorial whimsies were just as enjoyable as the art hanging.  The fair attempts to introduce the young or newbie collector with a series of tips from not-so-stuffy community. Some of these include:

  • Speak up! Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Exhibitors are happy to talk and this is a great way to get firsthand knowledge about the work and/or artist. When you are considering an artwork, ask about the artist, where they are from, how long they have been with the gallery, if their work is included in any major collections, or if the artist has won any public art prizes.
  • Budget! Budget! Budget! Know what you are willing to (and what you can) spend and stick to it!   If the piece that has caught your eye is out of your budget, ask if there are any other works by the same artist especially in a different medium. Original prints, such as screen prints and etchings, are a great entry-level option as they can be lower in price than a painting.
  • Look again-take your time-and follow your heart! Take some time out to have a drink or a snack  and think through your choices.
  • Come ready! Take time to think about what will work best in your space.  Do you need a large or small piece, something vertical or horizontal, will the work be exposed to a lot of sun, what colors will work best, who will be seeing the work (are you putting it in a bedroom or living room)?
  • And, most importantly HAVE FUN!!! ART IS FUN!! 
Oh hello! That’s me, rocking UGallery tote swag. 

UGallery.com, one of the many exhibitors, is a funky tech start-up based in San Francisco that works in both original art and more affordable prints (via their Paperwork moniker). The gallery was nice enough to invite me (and a ‘plus’ +1) to the Private Preview. Because I am a modern woman, my plus one does not always strictly mean my boyfriend. Yesterday, my plus one was my wonderful friend Rishi. Rishi and I went to undergrad together where we both fell in love with Edward Said’s Orientalism and a shared sociology (AND American Studies AND International Affairs) professor, Melani McAllister. We have both relocated from Washington, DC to New York, NY. OK, rambling aside, Rishi was the perfect choice because we both enjoy free alcohol and the power of creation (art)! I knew he was the right choice when I realized that he hand needlepointed the belt he chose to wear to the event.

Clockwise from Top Left: Rishi rocking an Affordable Art Fair Tote, A detail from ‘Daniel John Gadd’s, Creature Fear II, 2011, oil and string on panel’, snapshots from the open artist studio, Mike Chavez’s ROTFLMAO, screenprint and acrylic on canvas, AND a phenomenal fascinator and matching earring set on a fellow visitor. 

 This is Engine Gallery’s booth displaying work by Raymond Waters. That Haute Couture is made with filmstrips from Citizen Kane (there was also a dress done with porn stills).

Dinah Dufton’s Child’s Play series from Will’s Art Warehouse.

Andrew Boder, Wolf 1-6, Acrylic on Paper on Panel, 2012 from Blunt Collective.

Eric Mistretta, When You Were This Big, 2011, Candles and House Paint on Panel

A whole new meaning in “dog collars”.

Christian Dorey’s take on Andy Warhol, Cool Hand Luke, Hunter S. Thompson, etc. Originally from Vancouver, Christian Dorey has been living in Montréal since 2001. Inspired by pop art, expressionism movement, music and cinema, intuition and political engagement well describe his work. He is represented by Arteria.

Clockwise from Top Left: Laura Murray, Inheritance, from Visual Arts Gallery/SVA, A general snapshot of the fair, Artist Pure Evil’s signature, Clinton Demenez‘s small scene shadowboxes are futuristic and apocalyptic, Ivar Theorin, Untitled (Ram), 2012, paper over armature.

Do not feed the artwork! Cecile Plaisance’s Barbie 1, 2012 from Envie D’Art Galerie.

Photorealism! Daryl Zang, Bliss, 2011, 32 x 48.

A detail of Rebecca Cole’s Comics 01 which is made using recycled comics, etymology pins, and hand cut butterfly silhouettes.

Vanessa Smith, Floor, Acrylic on Canvas from the Mark Jason Gallery.

Rachel Denny, Gazelle, 17″ x 9″ x 11″ from Portland Fine Art.

Three fashionable Affordable Art Fair goers, including Jean and Valerie from the fashion blog that “sets a bad example for older women”, Idiosyncratic Fashionistas.

What piece of art would YOU purchase? Most of the items were under $1,000 for originals, with the most expensive pieces just under the $10,000 mark. 

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Mixology (5)

Art: GABRIEL SCHAMAUntitled (Hexagons) 12 / 25, 2012, printmaking on paper, 18″ h x 12″ w – Purchase HERE  / Room: Alidad Interior Design – Islamic style: Library London – Found HERE.

Art: Tasty Treats by Cheryl Frey, Painting, Acrylic on Canvas, 12.0”h x 36.0”w – Purchase HERE. / Room: Villanova Residence – butler’s pantry – by Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Ltd., Photographer: Tom Crane – Found HERE.

Room: AK DAVESDuh!?, 2010, mixed media artwork on stretched canvas, 16″ h x 20″ w x .5″ d, 3 lbs. 0 oz. / Art: Green and Yellow Guest Room by Cristi Holcombe, found HERE.