Archives for category: Painting

Unlike many artists, Ed Handelman finds it difficult to discuss his work.  “I’ve always found it hard to make statements about my art.  It implies that there is some kind of philosophy behind my work; I just like painting.”  A number of his paintings are also untitled.  Based in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, his work is currently on exhibition at Nieto Fine Art.

Untitled by Ed Handelman

For more information about the artist, visit his website or Nieto Fine Art.

-Jayme Catalano

The Compound Gallery in San Francisco has an answer to the ubiquitous wine and produce subscription services:  art subscription!  Just like a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), subscribers answer a few questions about their likes/dislikes and how often they’d like to receive their $50 deliveries.  Instead of organic produce, however, they receive artwork in a variety of mediums by Bay Area artists.  Featured artists have included ceramicists, print makers, painters, etc.

A recent subscriber box containing work by Jeanne Lorenz.

Visit Art in a Box to sign up.  Click here for more work by Jeanne Lorenz.

-Jayme Catalano

We may finally know what the real Mona Lisa looked like.  The Prado Museum in Madrid recently cleaned and restored one of its more obscure and seemingly unimportant paintings, a copy of Leonardo DaVinci’s ‘Mona Lisa.’  In the museum’s possession since 1819, the copy was thought to have been completed after DaVinci’s death.  During the extensive process, however, museum officials discovered that the painting was done by a pupil working alongside the master: x-rays revealed that the copy evolved and developed just as the original did.  Experts were able to strip away the dark, cracked varnish and a black over paint, revealing a young woman with beautiful skin in front of a colorful Tuscan landscape.  Her eyebrows are visible, her lips are rosy, and she looks years younger than her more famous counterpart.  DaVinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ my hide similar charms under her own aged and discolored varnish.

A copy painted alongside DaVinci's 'Mona Lisa.'

To learn more about the painting, visit the Museo Nacional Prado websiteThe Art Newspaper also covered the story.  Click here to see the painting before restoration.

-Jayme Catalano

When I first encountered ‘Pope Innocent X’ at the Doria Pamphili Gallery in Rome, I was struck by one over-whelming and unshakeable impression:  that man looks exactly like Gene Hackman.  The resemblance is uncanny.  Maybe we’re all walking around with recycled faces, our own doppelgangers lost in obscurity.  One thing is for certain:  Gene Hackman’s own double lived more than three hundred years ago, he schemed and plotted to obtain ultimate power, and he is forever immortalized in Diego Velazquez’ masterpiece of intensity and psyche.

From left to right, actor Gene Hackman and detail from 'Pope Innocent X' by Diego Velazquez.

To see the full painting, visit this website.

-Jayme Catalano

The Gold Scab by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 1879.

James Whistler is most famously known for the boldly composed painting of his mother, ‘Arrangements in Grey and Black No. 1.’  ‘The Gold Scab’ is a stark departure:  modern, angry, and comical.  It resembles something out of the oeuvre of Picasso or Dr. Seuss, not a Victorian artist known mostly for sweet portraits of women in somber grey or billowy white.

Directly before embarking on a costly and ruinous libel suit against art critic John Ruskin, Whistler was commissioned to “touch up” a decorative mural in the home of Frederick Leyland.  His task was to “harmonize” the room, improve upon the work done by another interior decorative artist.  Instead, Whistler “went on-without design or sketch-putting in every touch with such freedom…I forgot everything in my joy in it.”  He created a room awash in brilliant blue-green and gold leaf, a complete re-design of the original; he called his masterpiece ‘Harmony in Blue and Gold:  The Peacock Room.’  Leyland, furious with the drastic and unauthorized changes, refused to pay Whistler’s commission fee.  The loss of this much-needed income, a ruined reputation with other art patrons, and his disastrous libel suit against Ruskin resulted in bankruptcy.  Whistler’s beloved White House and his belongings were auctioned off by his creditors, including Leyland.

The enraged artist painted a caricature of Frederick Leyland as a greedy, vain and contemptible peacock sitting atop Whistler’s beloved White House.  The painting is an aggressive personal attack on Leyland and a bitter representation of Whistler’s own anger and disappointment.  He left the painting hanging prominently when his home and its contents were seized, a giant middle finger to Leyland and his other creditors.  The painting and a life-size photographic reproduction of the Peacock Room are currently being exhibited at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco through June 17.

For more information on The Cult of Beauty:  The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860-1900, visit the Legion of Honor website.

-Jayme Catalano

Stephan Balleux’s edgy sculpture ‘Bullet Proof’s Anatomy’ challenges our notions of infallibility and invulnerability, mocking modern technology’s promise of safety and order.  Nothing is bullet proof, nothing is invincible; no matter how we comfort ourselves with Kevlar, we are mortal and we will die.  And yet the skull is dripping in cheerful, vibrant, beautiful colors, as though to remind us that there is beauty in fragility.  A Belgian artist based in Germany, Balleux was recently the artist in residence at WARDLOW in Australia.

Bullet Proof's Anatomy by Stephan Balleux

For more information, visit Stephan Balleux’s website.

-Jayme Catalano

In his Art Remixed series, artist Gary Andrew Clarke has taken well-known pieces of art and “distilled, reduced and remixed” them into approximately 200 exact circles of color.  The resulting collection is a bold riff on pointillism that would make Seurat green with envy.  A native of the United Kingdom, Clarke often goes by the “pen” name Graphic Nothing.

'Marilyn Monroe,' 'Mona Lisa,' and 'The Son of Man' by Gary Andrew Clarke.

You can purchase a Giclee print at Some Prints.  Find out more about the artist at
-Jayme Catalano

Inspired by Anna Utopia Giordano’s ‘Venus’ project, I decided to apply today’s standard of beauty to Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa.  I plumped her lips, made her eyes larger, slimmed and elongated her neck, trimmed her double chin, hands and arms, and removed the bags under her eyes.

Mona Lisa after a Photoshop transformation.

If you haven’t seen it yet, the Dove Evolution video illustrates the extent of Photoshop in advertising today.

-Jayme Catalano

As the media loves to point out, our perceptions of realistic, attainable beauty standards have been radically changed by the ubiquity of Photoshop, adolescent runway models, and deceptive advertising.  What if the aesthetic standards of  our modern society had belonged to the great artists of the past?  Italian fashion model and artist Anna Utopia Giordano has created ‘Venus’, ten works that combine aesthetic harmony with the contemporary eye.  She has transformed classic Zaftig representations of the goddess Venus into slender, slim-waisted, busty waifs.  The result is strangely haunting.

Anna Utopia Giordano's Photoshop transformations of classic masterpieces are on the right. From top The Birth of Venus by Alexandre Cabanel, The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, Venus at her Mirror by Diego Velazquez, The Sleeping Venus by Artemisia Gentilischi.

For more information, please visit Giordano’s website.

-Jayme Catalano

Painter and photo stylist Mirabai Wagner transforms the bodies of models into other-worldly creatures using body paint, jewels, and very little else.  Her recent Permafrost Collaboration with photographer  Kurt Lawson has resulted in elegant, dynamic and unforgettable images.  Normally associated with R-rated parties at the Playboy Mansion, body painting has been elevated to a new level.

An image from the forthcoming Permafrost Collaboration. Styling/body painting by Mirabai Wagner, photography by Kurth Lawson, model Devin Willow.

Visit Mirabai Design for more information on Mirabai Wagner.  Visit PhotoVogue for more information on Kurt Lawson.  Visit Tumblr for more information on Devin Willow.

-Jayme Catalano