News

Oldest Graphic Design Found, Islamic in Detroit, Mexican in LA

Engraved ostrich eggshell fragments reveal a 60,000-year-old graphic design tradition (via Scientific American)

Archaeologists have discovered 270 pieces of engraved ostrich eggshell, which date to around 60,000 years ago, from a site called Diepkloof in South Africa’s Western Cape province. Why is this important? According to Scientific American:

The fragments constitute what the researchers say is the “earliest evidence of a graphic tradition among prehistoric hunter-gatherer populations.” As such, the finds help to illuminate the emergence of symbolic representation—a hallmark of modern human behavior.

Brooklyn-based artist/designer Roy Stanfield had an interesting comment on this news item, “Funny this is framed as graph design instead of art.” Very true, I wonder why.

AP photo makes sure that we think this is great for Muslims…um, how about the rest of us that LOVE Islamic art? (via USA Today)

USA Today reports that Detroit has a new Islamic art display and it’s about time. Home to the largest concentration of Muslims in the U.S., the Detroit Institute of Arts will finally open a new permanent gallery of Islamic art. Among the treasures that are on display is a:

… 15th-century leather-bound Quran, whose gold-flecked paper was given by the Ming emperor of China to Timur, one of the Mongol conquerors of the Middle East

Of course, AP decided to post a photo of a traditionally garbed Muslim, rather than a photo of a secular Muslim, which represents the vast majority of Muslims in America.

If you think that Detroit’s move is welcome by everyone, think again:

Most disturbing to [director Graham W.J.] Beal was a letter from a member who asked why the museum was “promoting godless Islam.”

“Nobody has said, ‘Why are you showing Native American art?’ I’ve never had that question in my whole career,” he said.

The carved-basalt Olmec colossal head dates to 1200-900 BC. (Courtesy LACMA via Christian Science Monitor)

Mexico is celebrating the bicentennial of its independence and the centennial of its revolution, and to celebrate the milestones art institutions in Los Angeles are revving up with shows — some major, some not — of Mexican art and culture. Home to the largest Mexican population outside of Mexico, LA is a natural place to showcase Mexican art.

Here are some highlights:

  • The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will unveil a blockbuster show titled, “Olmec: Masterworks of Ancient Mexico,” later this year (opening September 26, 2010) which includes the renowned monumental head basalt sculptures;
  • The Getty Villa will open “The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire” (March 24–July 5, 2010).
  • At the UCLA campus, the Fowler Museum is staging “Fowler in Focus: X-Voto – The Retablo-Inspired Art of David Mecalco” (January 31–May 16, 2010);
  • Autry National Center of the American West is mounting “Siqueiros in Los Angeles: Censorship Defied” (September 2010 – January 2011);
  • Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California, will exhibit “Manchuria: Peripheral Vision – A Felipe Ehrenberg Retrospective” (May 22 – August 15, 2010);
  • Getty Research Institute will show “Obsidian Mirror-Travels” (November 16, 2010 – March 27, 2011);
  • And the Museum of Latin American Art – Project Room will have two displays focusing on Mexican artists, “Mariana Castillo Deball” (June 17 – September, 12, 2010); and “Jorge Méndez Blake, All the Poetry Books” (September 23, 2010 – January 3, 2011).

The Christian Science Monitor reports that one of the major works on display at the Getty’s Aztec show is the Florentine Codex, which is:

… a detailed journal recording the various cultural traditions the Spaniards encountered and attempting to contextualize and explain them to European audiences.

“It’s a fascinating document,” says Ms. Lyons, who points out that this is the first time in 400 years that it has returned to this continent. “It helps enormously to understand that this took place during the High Renaissance in Europe,” at the same time that Europe itself was deeply involved in a backward look at its own Roman and Greek cultural traditions.

There’s a lot of buzz in New York about last weekend’s P.S.1 event, Brooklyn Is Burning, which was curated by Sarvia Jasso and Andres Bedoya. Saturday night, artist Ann Liv Young took to the stage and lashed out at the previous performance by Georgia Sagri. According to Gothamist:

… [Young] viciously insulted Georgia, peed in a bowl, stripped, masturbated… and got into a shouting match with several people in the audience,” including Sagri—who left the room when Young began masturbating in front of her …

Art Fag City has more information and commentary:

And some commentary by Claudia La Rocco at WNYC’s Performance Club:

#class Organized by Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida (web cam view) (via Winkleman Gallery)

#class continues at Winkleman Gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and it has been getting a lot of traction on and offline. The latest news is that New York’s Pulse art fair has invited #class organizers William Powhida and Jen Dalton to mock-up a chalkboard at the fair and invite the fair public to contribute to the discussions. You can watch #class happenings live online at: hashtagclass.blogspot.com.

A view of the massive pharaonic head, after its excavation (via Independent)

Culture Monster lets us know that, “the remarkably well-preserved head of a huge 3,000-year-old statue of Amenhotep III — the grandfather of Tutankhamen (aka King Tut) — has been recovered from an excavation in Luxor, Egypt.”

A view of the fashionable protestors (HuffPost via Fashionista)

Huffington Post writes about a strange fashion protest during the Milan designer shows:

After Milan crammed its fashion week into several days to coincide with Anna Wintour’s visit, a group of protestors took to the Piazza Oberdan before Gucci’s show to demonstrate their discontent. Clad in bobbed wigs, sunglasses and t-shirts that said “I Will Only Stay 3 Days,” the ladies leered at press and buyers.

Ahh, the aesthetics of protest in the fashion world. Guess the art world isn’t the only place facing oodles of discontent these days.

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