Confessions of a researchaholic

September 17, 2023

The art thief

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:53 pm
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This is a compact and yet engaging book about the most prolific and efficient art thief in history.
To understand such an extraordinary individual, his deeds, and the shocking ending, it is important to know his “state machine” – how he perceives the world, his relationships, incentives, and actions.
To reconstruct this state machine, the author interviewed the thief in person and also talked to people who knew him, including his small circle of friends and family, his victims (e.g., museums, antique stores, and auction houses staff), psychoanalysts, and law enforcement officers.
The book also describes the history of art market and theft (e.g., Picasso commissioned a theft from Louvre early on and then became the most stolen artist later), and the author’s own journey in writing this book.

Highly recommend, especially for those who are interested in art, psychology, and crime.
I probably will see things differently during my future museum visits.

Instead of stealing artworks and put them in an attic for personal peruse, I dream about the opposite: sneak artworks created by people I know into museums so that they can be appreciated by more people and better preserved by art professionals.

September 12, 2023

Morris Hirshfield

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:13 pm

I learned from this exhibition that Morris Hirshfield was a self-taught artist who started painting at the age of 65, with a unique style of non-traditional proportion/perspective and strong emphasis on textures and patterns.

In the same exhibition are works by several other self-taught artists who also have unique styles and some also started very late (like “Grandma Moses” at age 78).

On one hand, it is never too late (or too non-conventional) to start something new.
On the other hand, the start is likely more gradual than sudden, with a long period of incubation.
In Hirshfield’s case, his career in the garment industry has an obvious impact in how he applied patterns in his paintings.

March 26, 2023

Kehinde Wiley: An Archaeology of Silence

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:49 pm

I went to see this exhibition today and was astonished by the details and accuracies of these large scale oil paintings and bronze sculptures made all within the past two years!
How did the artist accomplish such combination of care, size, and speed?

October 9, 2022

Robert Blomfield’s photography

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:20 am

Quote from this article:

… he considered becoming a pro photographer. However, fearing that working on commission would blunt the spontaneity of his images, he decided to continue in his chosen career in the medical profession.

December 27, 2021

Candy Counter by Wayne Thiebaud

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:36 pm

This is my favorite painting in the Anderson Collection; RIP.

December 19, 2021

Seascape with Star

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:56 pm

There are those before me who have drawn from dreams.

Seascape with Star by Forrest Bess

Scrap geometry

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:31 pm

At first I thought this sculpture was made from inflated half balloons but upon closer examination it was made from geodesic strips made from discarded boxes.

Happiest Days of Our Lives by Ann Weber

Scrap art

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:31 pm

Looking close and in isolation, each object is an assemblage of scrap materials, but collectively they form a group of birds.

Untitled (Pigeons, sparrows & blackbirds)

December 15, 2021

Alice Neel

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:11 pm

Artists without formal academic training can sometimes create very unique and interesting styles.

I learned about Alice Neel from this podcast.


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