One of the most difficult things an artist can face is finding an audience that is interested in her/his work.  Saatchi Gallery in London, UK is attempting to remedy this millenium-long problem.  Using the internet, Saatchi Gallery created Saatchi Online, providing both artists and art lovers with access to people around the globe.  Artists can register with Saatchi Online to display their work, and curators working for Saatchi Gallery create online galleries by topic, medium, and more.

These curated online galleries highlight the value of diverse art chosen well with the added benefit of mass access.  Viewers can purchase original works or prints of works, or simply troll the beautiful, shocking, unusual, and fantastical galleries that are free for visitors.  Once you click on a piece of art, thumbnails of other works by the same artist appear on the side of your screen, giving you the option of viewing even more.  Visitors can also create their own online galleries by selecting their favorite works.  To participate further, viewers can vote in the Saatchi Online Showdown.  Works by submitted artists are randomly paired, and viewers vote in the first round.  Winners in the second and third rounds are decided by a jury and judge respectively.  Lovers of all types of art will find something to appreciate in Saatchi Online, and a visit to this British internet creation can be an excellent way to kill an afternoon.

This post brought to you by Liza, our newest blogger!

Welcome to the first installment of the The Discerning Palette, a new blog series about the online art world. In the news this week is the art of Tony Bennett. Yes, that Tony Bennett. When he’s not crooning, Mr. Bennett enjoys painting watercolors. His art can be viewed and purchased through his website, Benedetto Arts. Benedetto is Mr. Bennett’s original family name and how he signs his paintings. Mr. Bennett has done commission pieces for the Kentucky Derby and the United Nations and has works in the Smithsonian and the National Portrait Gallery. He has also lectured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This week Mr. Bennett’s art is in the news due to a photo shoot with Lady Gaga and famed celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. Gaga and Leibovitz were shooting for an upcoming Vanity Fair issue and Mr. Bennett was invited to sketch Lady Gaga. The charcoal sketch of Lady Gaga is being auctioned off for Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and Bennett’s Exploring the Arts charity. For other Bennett/Gaga collaborations, check out their duet of “The Lady is a Tramp”from the Rogers and Hart musical “Babes in Arms” which is featured on Bennett’s new Duets II CD.

Seriously, why hasn’t this book been made into a movie already? (although you’ll certainly be reminded of scenes from several popular movies and tv shows) Robert K. Wittman, the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team, pulls back the curtain on his remarkable career, offering a real-life international thriller in Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasure.

The son of an antique dealer, Wittman built a twenty-year career going undercover, usually unarmed, to catch art thieves, scammers, and black market traders in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and Santa Fe, Miami and Madrid. Wittman tells the stories behind his recoveries of priceless art and antiquities: the golden armor of an ancient Peruvian warrior king, the Rodin sculpture that inspired the Impressionist movement, the rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of the nation’s first African-American regiments. The art thieves and scammers he caught run the gamut from rich to poor, smart to foolish, organized criminals to desperate loners. Wittman has saved hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art and antiquities, but he considers them all equally priceless.

Told with a true storyteller’s gift, Priceless is intense and fun and personal – Wittman feels passionate about preserving art and he’ll make you fell passionate about it too.

Many of you know Steve Martin as a comedian and as an actor, but he is also a best-selling author of both children’s books and adult fiction.  His newest offering is a fictionalized glimpse into the New York art world, An Object of Beauty.

An avid art collector himself, Martin traces the rise and eventual fall of a young woman, Lacey Yeager, whose ambition and drive to be at the pinnicle of the art world knows no boundaries.  Her tale begins when, right out of college, she accepts a position with Sotheby’s auction house.  Her position is at the bottom of art world ladder (her office is literally in the basement) but she quickly learns what, and more importantly, who you need to know – but it comes at a high price.

Lacey’s eventual fall from grace is explained in full detail at the end of the book (after the author only gives the reader bits and pieces throughout) and her final eviction from the art world is swift and severe – which make for a compelling and fascinating look into the world of million dollar artwork.

The author includes color photographs of many of the works of art mentioned in the book – it is a nice touch!

Herb & Dorothy, an Arthouse Film by Megumi Sasaki, tells the amazing story of the Vogels–a couple who built one of the most extensive collections of minimalist and conceptual art despite their modest incomes.

As former artists themselves, Herb and Dorothy began collecting other artists’ work in the early 1960’s with two rules in hand: 1. the piece had to be affordable and 2. it had to fit in their small, one-bedroom apartment. They decided to live on Dorothy’s salary from working at the Brooklyn Public Library and use all of Herb’s Postal Clerk earnings to buy art. But Herb and Dorothy didn’t just buy art, they also cultivated intimate relationships with some of today’s most famous artists who were virtually unknown at the time they were sought out by the Vogels.

In 1992, the over 4,000 piece collection was moved from the Vogel’s tiny apartment to the National Gallery of Art after much wooing from museums and institutions around the world. In the film, Herb explains how important it was for him and Dorothy to donate their priceless collection to the very people who paid their salaries (taxpayers) and thus made their means of collecting possible. The Vogels have since created the Vogel 50×50 program where 50 of their works were donated to a museum in each of the 50 states, and Iowa’s recipient was the fantastic Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (their first exhibit of the donation, Less is More: The Vogel Gift of Minimal and Conceptual Art, just ended in May).

HERB & DOROTHY Trailer from Herb & Dorothy on Vimeo.

Herb & Dorothy, an Arthouse Film by Megumi Sasaki, tells the amazing story of the Vogels–a couple who built one of the most extensive collections of minimalist and conceptual art despite their modest incomes.

As former artists themselves, Herb and Dorothy began collecting other artists’ work in the early 1960’s with two rules in hand: 1. the piece had to be affordable and 2. it had to fit in their small, one-bedroom apartment. They decided to live on Dorothy’s salary from working at the Brooklyn Public Library and use all of Herb’s Postal Clerk earnings to buy art. But Herb and Dorothy didn’t just buy art, they also cultivated intimate relationships with some of today’s most famous artists who were virtually unknown at the time they were sought out by the Vogels.

In 1992, the over 4,000 piece collection was moved from the Vogel’s tiny apartment to the National Gallery of Art after much wooing from museums and institutions around the world. In the film, Herb explains how important it was for him and Dorothy to donate their priceless collection to the very people who paid their salaries (taxpayers) and thus made their means of collecting possible. The Vogels have since created the Vogel 50×50 program where 50 of their works were donated to a museum in each of the 50 states, and Iowa’s recipient was the fantastic Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (their first exhibit of the donation, Less is More: The Vogel Gift of Minimal and Conceptual Art, just ended in May).

HERB & DOROTHY Trailer from Herb & Dorothy on Vimeo.

University of Iowa Museum of Art, Gift of Peggy Guggenheim 1959.6 / © 2009 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / ARS, NY

University of Iowa Museum of Art, Gift of Peggy Guggenheim 1959.6 / © 2009 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / ARS, NY

Have you been over to the Figge Museum yet to see Mural by Jackson Pollock? The masterpiece is currently on display through December 31 as part of the exhibit titled A Legacy for Iowa: Pollock’s Mural and Modern Masterworks from the University of Iowa Museum of Art (which also includes works by Picasso, Matisse and Chagall). I’m not sure if it is the size, the intense strokes of color or just some unnameable aura, but this painting has always had the ability to weaken my knees and completely clear my head (This may explain why the museum always keeps the Eames lounge chairs nearby!). After taking in the painting for a few minutes or so, I suddenly find myself actively easedropping on the other viewers: “Look for cigarette ash!” or “I think it looks like dancing.” or “I read in the Smithsonian that Pollock spelled out his name.” or “I could paint that!” to which I often say in my head “But you didn’t!” Here are several movies related to Pollock and his work:

pollockThe University of Iowa’s Mural plays a prominent role in Pollock, a biopic of Jackson Pollock starring Ed Harris–the film includes a very intense scene where Pollock paints Mural in one feverish night before he presents it to famous art collector/patron, Peggy Guggenheim (who offered the painting to the University of Iowa in 1948).

whoisPollockImagine having something in your possession that is either worth over $100 million or less than $5 and no one can tell you which. Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock? tells the story of a woman, Teri Horton, who bought a cheap painting in a thrift shop only to have someone tell her that it could be an unknown work by Jackson Pollock. What intrigued me most about this movie was that upon seeing Teri’s painting, I had a very strong, persistent feeling that it was NOT done by Jackson Pollock despite the evidence presented. I had expected to be easily convinced.

mykidcouldpaintthatMy Kid Could Paint That is a documentary on kid painter Marla Olmstead and the controversy surrounding the authenticity of her paintings. At the heart of this movie is the question: What makes art, Art? the artist? the work? the idea? or the price it will fetch at an auction?

AHHHH, ARE YOU GOING?!

NightLivingDeadFigge

Night of the Living Dead on Friday, October 30 at the Figge Art Museum Auditorium

Just think how creepy it will be to watch Night of the Living Dead and then have to walk down the long, chilled stairway of the Figge Art Museum into the shadowy field of hanging bodies of corn?

Corn Zone by Michael Meilahn; currently on display at the Figge Museum in the Orientation Gallery through early February 2010

Corn Zone, 2007 © Michael Meilahn and Nick Nebel; currently on display at the Figge Museum in the Orientation Gallery through early February 2010