Tag Archives: fine art

Dutch artist Rob van Koningsbruggen Banned from Stedelijk Museum

Artists by their very nature tend to be a little eccentric. There are a few that let it go to their heads and like a peacock tend to strut a little on the side on vanity.   This is hardly news. As with all things, some of us tend to be a little more tipped towards the abnormal and flashy than others.

After all, being an artist means being a creative and artists often live on the edge of acceptability of what mainstream society considers normal. This is fine and dandy, it’s even fun hanging out with eccentric people, that is until someone crosses the fine line between eccentric and just head scratching weird.

Dutch artist Rob van Koningsbruggen managed to accomplish this dubious transition with a single email. According to Cait Munro of Artnews , van Koningsbruggen was more than a little upset that Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum didn’t send him a personal invite to their reopening party in 2012.

So in response to this obvious mistake in his social calendar, he decided to write an email to museum staff that included the following:

 “The newly-acquired Osama bin Laden painting [by Dumas] is genius. But something’s missing,” he wrote. “In the last few days my urine has become particularly acidic and I’m planning to improve the painting with a well-directed stream of piss, in the presence of her majesty.”
Creative Commons- Franklin Heijnen
Creative Commons – Franklin Heijnen
 “Young foreign video artists will record me pissing against Osama bin Laden, leaving only his beard. After the canvas has dried, I’ll sign it and donate it to the museum,” he continued.”

It came as a surprise to no one, except perhaps for van Koningsbruggen, that the museum promptly banned him from entering the museum.  Instead of apologizing for his rash juvenile issues,  he decides the prudent course of action is to sue the museum in court to allow him access by claiming the offending email was mere misunderstood satire.

The museum tried to solve the issue with van Koningsbruggen but according to Soraya Nadia McDonald of the Washington Post:

 “Stedelijk officials, in the spirit of generosity, recently offered van Koningsbruggen, who was jailed in 2007 for arson, the opportunity to visit on a provisional basis this year. He responded by telling them he would bring notorious Dutch criminal Willem Holleeder with him, and that Holleeder would possibly “take a whiz against the statue of Dan Flavin.”

The judge however, saw very little satire in either email and upheld the museums right to ban the artist from the museum.

All of this makes me wonder.  Is some hidden public relations manager telling van Koningsbruggen to act like an egomaniac so he can boost his popularity? Is it a weak attempt to become controversial to sell more art? Is it like a Britney Spears shaving her head type of statement to sell more albums? Or, is it just that van Koningsbruggen has finally catapulted himself off of the deep end of sensibility.

It’s all a little too weird for my understanding. I only hope he will receive counseling soon. Artist or not, any one  jailed for arson and who then wants to engage in public artwork watersports has issues that need to be addressed.

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Frisky Squirrel : Facebook Boots Jerry Salazar

This squirrel with his tongue sticking out at the camera seems more amused by my presence than threatened

Happy Squirrel
Happy Squirrel

by it.   It could be said that the same attitude is happening with Jerry Salazar the now Facebook famous art critic of New York Magazine.

Mr. Salazar is a noted art critic in the New York art world and as his job suggests, he has found that there are many people whom are not looking out for his personal welfare.   His recent claim to fame is that he is now suspended from Facebook for complaints regarding his posting of some pornographic artworks. Well, that’s not quite fair really.

When one envisions the term pornographic a whole deluge of rather vulgar, profane, and even down right shocking images of naked bodies comes to mind. But that is not what happened.  Before I read the article from the New York Times about his inappropriate online behavior, I admit I expected to see the personal fall and end of a career for an established professional in his field.


What met my gaze was rather shocking, but not for the reasons you may think. The images he showed and published are mainly from medieval manuscripts, Egyptian tomb scenes and the now notoriously amorous ancient roman brothels. I became confused.


What is this? Has Facebook lost all sense of reason? A man who is a notorious member of the New York art scene gets sacked off Facebook because he posted pictures that are found in art history and archaeology books?   Really?

Digging a little deeper on Mr. Salazar’s twitter feed, I looked for the possible reason for Facebook’s issue. The fact that his Facebook account has experienced a mass outpouring of support from his fans to the point of one not really being able to get a grip on the truth behind the article did not help.  In any case, I went to Twitter and if Mr. Salazar’s twitter account is an indicative of what was originally discovered on his Facebook page I can understand why Facebook acted the way it did. Not all the pictures posted were necessarily ancient or even of historical context nor used in an educational context.

No, it seems Mr. Salazar did not use the pictures in a historical or educational manner but rather in a satirical commentary pointing fingers and ruffling feathers at the art establishment. Finally, someone got his or her underwear twisted and complained. Facebook investigated and bam. Suspension. Mr. Salazar has even admitted that some of the pictures even bothered him.  Why then post?

Now, it may seem that I’m condemning him and taking the side of Facebook. I’m not.  While it’s true I find some of the images used outside of the historical artistic context to be of a dubious taste, I also see the side of his fans who claim that whomever complained should have just unfollowed him and left it at that. While self-imposed censorship might be a suggestively wise move when it comes to artwork such as this, the use of corporate censorship is just not needed.

It is interesting to note that by creating his little commentaries and satiric uses of historical art to satisfy his own purpose he has, perhaps unwittingly, stepped into the realm of the satiric artist.   It is now his “work” and it’s meaning being criticized on a larger stage.   I imagine going from the critic to the critiqued must be a bitter pill to swallow.

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What Does Art Say About Your Financial Institution?

The use of art in the financial banking world is a subject that is in need of serious contemplation.  The corporate culture found in most financial institutions tends to gravitate towards the ultra conservative. Therefore the art displayed in lobbies and boardrooms  are the typical portraiture of corporation leaders and board members.

On the surface this makes sense. Ultra conservative art, such as those painted portraits of all the bank leaders from the institutions past are a safe bet in a corporate culture set on dominating from the boardroom down.  It shows how powerful the institution is with all of it’s grandeur and accumulated wealth.

There is no denying that this is a successful and very tactical use of art as a display of business dominance

Ready for My Closeup
Ready for my Close-up

and financial prestige.    Ultra conservative art tends to exude political confidence and financial power.

Unfortunately, if you’re a banker, the competition realizes this logic is a historical concept.  But, odds are also good that they also realize that surviving the business world is about being on the cutting edge.  If customers are not willing to create an account with an institution because of outdated business ideals then that institution, like the dinosaurs, will simply not survive.

The days of too big to fail ideology are gone and every institution needs every client.   The competition understands this old-school business ideology also contains a rather negative stereotype found in many places of the world where the leader figure is powerfully displayed in conservative business attire mandating policies to the hirelings directly under supposed omniscient leadership.  In other words, it hurts your image more than it helps.

Thankfully, art offers a path out of the suit jacket and tie boardroom image into a more resounding modern appeal to the masses and employees.  Why? Areas of industry long dominated by the standard operating rules of Victorian styled yesteryear are realizing the wonderful and lucrative partnership that working with creatives, like photographic artists, brings to the bottom line.  A recent article by Ceci Moss on the online journal Rhizome sums up the power of these ideas and how they are already happening among several tech giants in the San Francisco Bay area.

Artists are exceptionally talented people who have a knack for thinking outside the box.  These creative people add to a financial institution, not by their ability to follow rules, but instead by their ability to help create and express the living values of a corporate entity.

When workers see art that makes them feel good about working in a system,  they work harder and are more productive.  Customers and clients also see the artwork developed by these artists and they also sense the contemporary edge of that company’s ability to do business in the modern world.  It opens a dialogue between the creative and more factual subcultures in an organization.

So look at your corporate institutions and banking financial centers you deal with on a day by day basis.  What does their art say about their institution?  Are they modern or old-fashioned?  What are the values they portray?

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Up In Arms About Jonathan Jones?


I was perusing the web and came across an article written by Matthew Oxley at WorldPhoto.org about a series of recent articles on photography by Jonathan Jones.  He wrote several pieces last year that implied that fine art and photography are two subjects that should never be discussed together in the same breath.   Unless, that is, to proclaim the utter hatred of photography.

This is fine. It’s his opinion and it does not bother me that he doesn’t like photography. He claims that photography is not art. He loves to present photography as a mere technological tool that is best left to some wannabe foolish ape.  I disagree of course. But as an American, and a Texan I’m quite used to people saying what they think and I will respect his opinion.

Proclaiming hatred for this person or his writings would serve no purpose but to light fires of indignation between those for photography as an art and those against.  My purpose is not to attack his opinion of art at all.  It’s a huge waste of time and simply throws around negativity.

But as a photographic artist it makes me melancholy to read those articles. Mr. Jones makes it exceedingly clear he wouldn’t value me as an artist. I make photographic art after all and, by his definition of art alone, I am a mere parasite in the art world.

However, I am also a collector of fine art too and after reading several of his articles about art he left me wondering. Is it his belief that as an art critic he must negatively attack any art forms he doesn’t personally enjoy?

Mr. Jones obviously enjoys the paintings of Caravaggio, Da Vinci, and other masters. It’s just strange that they are all he seems to enjoy.  The rest of the art world seems little more than undigested offal to him.

Or does the Guardian make him do this? Is it one of his superiors insisting that he writes articles full of discontent about an art style so it will sell more advertisements in that publication?  Media bias is a form of drama, and it’s well understood that drama sells papers.

To the point, all I had to do was to look at the last couple months of his articles to gather his wonderfully bitter harvest of flowery discontent with the art world in general. Looking at the headlines of articles authored since Oct. gives me great pause as to his collective objectivity for art as medium meant for enjoyment.

Celebrating fakes is moronic … it’s real art that matters

– Jan. 14,2015

National Gallery: a crushingly dull documentary that lacks an eye for art

–Jan. 5,2015

Christmas and contemporary art? Like chalk and blue cheese

 -Dec. 9 2015

2014: the year British art became irrelevant

-Dec. 2, 2014

The Sistine Chapel in 3D? The Vatican must think we are all idiots

-Oct. 30, 2014

The Tower of London poppies are fake, trite and inward-looking – a Ukip-style memorial

-Oct. 28, 2014


I left out the obvious titles of the 4 negative pieces dealing with photography because at this point I thought it would seem I was taking advantage of the his discord. Or, said another way, beating an already dead horse.  I say all this because I get the distinct impression that Mr. Jones is not enjoying art anymore.

I know that when people began to see things they once loved in a way manifesting near constant negativity it is a sign of burn-out and frustration.  It is time for them to reassess and reacquire their love and passion for what they do.

As that I do not personally know him, if I have misunderstood his writings I humbly apologize. The difficulty is that writing is also an art, and it requires that a rapport between the artist/writer and the reader take place.

Unfortunately, as most artists well know this rapport is phantasmal and fleeting at best and the wrong conclusions about a piece is easily made. One day I hope Mr. Jones understands that the art of writing is also like photography; it’s all about how you shed light on the subject.   It’s that light that gives it texture and mood after all.

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