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Tomasz Gudzowaty – Iron and Sinew

Tomasz Gudzowaty is a polish photographer, who has received many awards for his unique photographs touching upon nature, social commentary, and sports photography.

Often presented in black and white, Tomasz’s photos are imbued with a sense of grandiosity that can be gleaned from quiet observation, even if the movements in the picture involve dramatic movements and spur of the moment actions.

tomasz gudzowaty

Background

Tomasz Gudzowaty was born on September 19, 1971, in Warsaw, Poland. He became interested in photography since early childhood, mainly because of his uncle, who was very passionate about photography and used to take pictures of his own home town.

When Tomasz was growing up, Poland was still under the Iron Curtain. Photography, like the other types of art in Poland, was controlled by the government.

In the eighties, the Independent Photographic Agency named Dementi was very active with recording the struggle for the restoration of democracy to Poland, and thereafter the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.

Despite his interest in photography, Tomasz has chosen to study Law at Warsaw University.

gudzowaty taking pictures

After graduation with a master’s degree from the Faculty of Law and Administration, he has chosen his way as a professional photographer in then already free country.

Big break

The novel photographer started his career first in his homeland and soon after that, got his first awards at Polish Press Photography Contest.

Gudzowaty’s name became known to the international photographers’ community for the first time back in 1999, when he won the First Prize in Nature-singles category in the World Press Photo competition for his picture with wild animals cheetahs.

Gudzowaty cheetahs photo

That shot was breathtaking because of the killing moment in wild nature.

The next year, he continued his success and got two more awards in World Press Photo at the same Nature category, which gave him a well-earned reputation of being an observant and multi-talented nature photographer.

 Beyond the body

Next to nature-related photography, Tomasz tried him hand at sports photography. But he has chosen to look closer not into classical athletes: he took part in two Summer Paralympic games: in 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens as a photojournalist.

Tomasz was interested in those sports, which didn‘t receive as much media attention. He created images of unique sports featuring different continents around the world.

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From the interesting variations of yoga, synchronized swimming, gymnastics stretching and all kinds of peculiar local sports such as slum golf in India, also the Nadaam race (a brutal kind of horse racing taking place in Mongolia), to the Flying Warriors (a variation of the oldest known martial arts type known as Kalaripayattu) or Sumo wrestling in Japan – all these activities, not all very well known to ordinary people in Western countries, got his attention and the result was mesmerizing.

These shots show not only the physical capability of the body but also human philosophy conveyed by body motions.

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His works have been printed in world-class magazines like L’Equipe, Newsweek, Forbes, Time, Photo, GQ, National Geographic Traveler and etc.

Tomasz Gudzowaty is also featured in the article, “My Top 10 Best Contemporary Photographers

 “Closer”

In 2016, Gudzowaty came back to nature photography. He released a new photography book called “Closer”, in which he put pictures of various penguins species in Antarctica.

tomasz gudzowaty penguins

In these, mostly black and white pictures, a photographer captured moments of penguins daily life. Next to the high contrast, mesmerizing pictures, Tomasz is sending a message about the frightening situation in the Antartica Peninsula – that part of Earth is warming five times faster than the rest of the World, which means a huge decline of penguins.

According to Gudzowaty, his goal was to make people “stop and catch their breath in delight at all this diversity.”

closer

Three years have passed from the releasing of this book, but the topic is relevant especially these days when many movements for climate change around the world are trying to draw governments‘ attention to make important decisions.

Family

Tomasz Gudzowaty is married to a Dominican-Spanish model Melody Mir Jimenez and they have two daughters. The couple is living between Warsaw and Spain, also travels around the world.

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His wife joined him when he was wandering around Antarctica for three weeks, where he took pictures of its nature and wildlife for his album “Closer“.

Achievements

During his career, Tomasz received nine World Press Photo awards, won many prizes at Polish Press Photography competition, Grand Press Photo, Black and White Spider Awards and many more.

gudzowaty photo 1971 ship scrappers

Accolades aside, Tomasz still keeps working actively and brings joy to the Photography enthusiasts community.


Tomasz Gudzowaty official page:

www.gudzowaty.com

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/tomaszgudzowatyoffical/

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/tomaszgudzowaty/

Further Viewing

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Joe McNally – Creating Connection

Nikon-Ambassador-Joe-McNally-headshot-2016

Joe McNally is a globally renowned, award-winning American photographer, and visual storyteller. Some of his bestselling books include: Faces of Ground Zero (2002), The Moment it Clicks (2008), The Hot Shoe Diaries (2009), and Sketching Light (2011).

Joe is known for his passion for the medium of photography, as evidenced by his varied creative output, culled from all corners of the globe and all walks of life, as well as his fervour for cameras of all shapes and sizes, both old and new.  He still likes to hear the sound of a shutter.

He is also not afraid of heights, it seems.

View-from-Top-of-Burj-Khalifa-Dubai-2013

As a working photographer, Joe has played many roles and worn many hats over the years, with career highlights that continue to this day, such as being the ambassador for Nikon, not to mention that he was the former TIME /LIFE Magazine staff photographer, and a winner of four World Press Photo awards.  The list goes on.

Joe is always involved with something creative and extraordinary.  This video on “Transformation” is just one example of the many curious projects that he has been involved with over the years, with himself right in the thick of it.

Now, as then, Joe keeps tenaciously at his work, and is able to create remarkable singular portraits, by establishing a relationship with the subject in front of his camera to create a unique dynamic.

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His work may be compared to that of a master movie director, who is able to, by their sheer enthusiasm for the task at hand, bring forth a certain energy from those they work with, with unmistakable results.

(photos from: https://portfolio.joemcnally.com/index)

joe mcnally portfolio


Background

Joe McNally was born on July 27, 1952, in Montclair, New Jersey.

joe mcnally as a kid with his dad

He grew up gazing upon “Nikon World”, a magazine published by Nikon, thinking that printed pictures in such a magazine would be among the highest achievements for a photographer.

Little did he know at the time that he would become so closely associated with the word “Nikon”…

nikon world magazine

During his younger days, his inspiration came from well known and award-winning photographers like Jay Maisel, Pete Turner, and Eric Meola.

The first time Joe got his hands on a real camera, which belonged to his dad, the device resonated with him, and the snapping of photos soon began at a leisurely yet ever-increasing pace.

Speaking of Joe’s dad, Joe has talked about him on his personal blog, and it is clear that his dad’s influence – that of hard work and blue collar life, a connection with nature, and even his dad’s experience from being in the Navy – all this helped to form Joe’s identity as both a person and as a photographer

Many of his works definitely and rather directly pay an homage to his father in some form or another, even if it isn’t readily apparent in every single shot he does.

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After attending Syracuse University with sights set on photojournalism, the first inklings that photography could be his career began to make themselves known to him.

After graduating, with camera in hand, opportunities for adventure began to call, and Joe was soon swept up in it.

One time he bought a train ticket heading east. He was walking through the docks and talking to the locals when suddenly got an invitation to join sailors for 14 days trip to the sea. This isn’t something that a lot of people would be apt to say “yes” to, but Joe relished the chance.

While riding the currents, there was, at one point, a huge storm at sea, and the ship and crew found itself pitching through 50 feet waves!  So, naturally, Joe started to take pictures. This experience was so breathtaking, that after the ordeal, he decided that perhaps photography was his calling after all.

Perhaps because of this nautical episode, in addition to his trips to Bliss Musky Lodge, bodies of water and peoples’ interaction with them have become a recurring theme in Joe’s work, used in a multitude of ways.

kelby online video training sessions


Career

Not too long after leaving Syracuse U, with a masters degree in photojournalism from the Newhouse School of Public Communications, Joe got a job with The New York Daily News newspaper as a copy boy.

This job was apparently was fated to be brief stint, because he was fired, and from there, Joe then moved to ABC Television and worked there as a photographer.

As the medium of colour photography continued to evolve, McNally saw more possibilities open up for him. It was surely an exciting time, as he started to work as a freelancer for various magazines like TIME / LIFE, Sports Illustrated, and National Geographic.

joe mcnally digital photo

National Geographic proved to be very educational for him by showing him a new standard for what was required of a professional photographer.

Joe’s photography skilled, combined with his passion and deftness with a camera lens, became to lead Joe into a full time career, where he then began to travel the world and meet many famous people.

One defining moment of his career was when Joe took a black and white portrait of former USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev, which was taken in the woods in some snowy Soviet woodland region.

The former Soviet leader looks ever-so-nationalistic when set against such a starkly beautiful backdrop of crisp white snow and characteristically Russian trees.

gorbachev by joe mcnally

With a growing base of experience, and his travels taking him around the world and meeting people of all walks of life, Joe McNally’s name began to really become well-known.

As such, he can basically photograph anything and tell a story with it.  His ability to relate to all people, places, and things of the world make him a jack of all trades, so to speak, but still with a style that is identifiable.

ballet feet


From Burj Khalifa to Ground Zero

Throughout his career, Joe McNally has been to some stunning locations, some of which were not easy to reach, but gave spectacular views.

For example, he climbed to the top of the world’s highest building, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Here, he left a love note to his wife, and took the picture from the top, looking down.

Burj Khalifa joe mcnally

The funny thing about this particular shoot is, surprisingly, he didn‘t get paid at all. The only thing he got, monetarily, was some shoes from the same shoe brand he was wearing in the picture.

Of course, that particularly picture went viral and that led, not surprisingly, to new offers, to climb other skyscrapers, which of course from then on Joe accepted payment for.

This tower climbing story is a perfect example of Joe’s maverick spirit where he followed a seemingly crazy idea, took a risk, and it led to something great.

In January 2002, Joe finished one of the most important projects, not only in his career, but in the whole history of American photography – he captured images of people who saved others’ lives during the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

faces of ground zero

In these human-size portraits, there are firefighters, victims’ relatives, medical coworkers, who represent the real heroism of one of the most difficult moments in America’s history.

Here is Joe talking about this exhibition.

Joe opened up about the emotional struggle he dealt with in creating this project – sometimes people in front of the camera started to cry, remembering terrifying events of that day, and, during these hard moments, it was hard not to be too emotional.

With this project, Joe showed that despite difficult emotional moments, the final aim was achieved – these pictures became a book, and helped raised two million dollars which was then donated to public education.


Communication and Reminders

McNally has revealed that photography helped him greatly in his private life, to communicate with his family such as his daughters and ex-wife, while also providing reminders of situations that may not seem altogether positive, but ultimately show a sense of triumph.

He applied his photography skills when his daughter had self-confidence issues, or, the time that she accidentally hurt her face near a pool.  Rather than talk to his wife about it, he sent her this picture.

joe mcnally's daughter

In these situations, he couldn‘t find the right words to communicate how he felt, but the pictures spoke for themselves, showing support and encouragement, but also sometimes causing some controversy.

Also, Joe used photography as a reminder of the feeling he had, when he was visiting his mother for the last time at the hospital before she died.

Joe McNally's mom

Pictures like these can be bittersweet, but also provide important reminders about times that often can go undocumented, fading into memory and obscurity.  In some way, photos are a way to never forget, because we don’t want to forget.  In some way, documents like this are a way for us to learn.


Tips for Beginner Photographers

According to Joe, there isn’t a better time to be a photographer than right now.

There is plenty of good photo equipment, and, from there, the question becomes how to find a way to monetize various photography projects and get funding.

joe mcnally photo

In a sense, it may have been easier in the past, because printed publications were more plentiful when McNally started his career.

He always used to tell young photographers: get yourself a job in a newspaper, but, now, the world had changed, and newspapers are disappearing and online publications are on the rise.

Therefore, it is important to be active and tenacious when it comes to succeeding with your own destiny: start to create proposals, find contacts, and make sure to send your proposals out – from newspapers and magazines to corporate entities, places who might have a need of photography.

A good start for a career in a very fast-changing world can start even from local Starbucks or the library. Really, it can start from anywhere.

Joe McNally, as some other famous photographers, has a personal blog which he updates constantly, where, for example, shares his favourite camera lenses: 20 mm f/2.8 and 28 mm f/1.4.

Visit his blog here: https://blog.joemcnally.com/

Joe recommends starting a blog because it gives a voice and platform to spread works and ideas. Even if at first 10 people will read it, maybe 20 more will be the next month.  The snowball effect is real.


Joe McNally Quotes

“When shooting a story about someone, their hands should always be on your list to shoot.”

“The most important piece of equipment in your bag is your attitude.”

Joe-McNally-Ambassador-mountain-biker-over-canyon

“When I teach young photographers, I say: look, photography is not what you do, being a photographer is something you are. And if you are a photographer, you’re screwed, because you have no choice, you only need to go forward.”

“I wanted to meet Gorbachev because that’s what you can do as a photographer: take your imagination and make it real by photographing what you see.”

“When you find something which is truly beautiful, you can’t not shoot”.

Joe_McNally_by_Ahmed_Arup_Kamal

“A lot of people think that is all about the pictures; it’s not. You have to have a personality that sustains you. You have to have the drive, work ethic, to relate to the client, to people in front of the camera and make that happen quickly.”

“Even after 35 years of practice, it good pictures don’t come automatically. Maybe you have problems at home, and you need to work, so you do it. It’s not always like wandering through perfect lighted streets, sometimes it is, but most of the time is just hard work.”


References

Faces of Ground Zero:

https://www.facesofgroundzero.com/index

Joe McNally on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/joemcnallyphoto/

Joe McNally on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/joemcnallyphoto/


Recommended Videos With Joe McNally

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Jason M. Peterson – High Contrast Hustler

Jason M. Peterson is an American digital and mobile photographer who has come upon the photography scene in recent years, taking the world by storm with photos that play off the drama of darkness and light, and overall capture the majesty of the human experience.  

He is also, in the best sense of the word, a “hustler”.

jason m peterson

For his photos, Jason uses a strictly black & white technique, which was a style foreseen by the artist early on, and which is now seen by millions of admirers online and offline.

Rising to prominence via Instagram, Jason is part of the online movement of late, where people with amazing but previously uncelebrated skill seemingly rise to notoriety out of nowhere, due to a growing popularity, undeniable skill, and nascent social media presence. 

jason m peterson photographer

Jason is also the chief creative officer at Havas, a multi-national ad agency. 

He is a creator who clearly has the ability to straddle several worlds at once, from gritty stark street photography which broods with human drama, to a futuristic style that puts people into the context of the world we live in, to a more corporate lifestyle centred around his ad business. In this latter regard, he has worked with the Chicago Bulls, ESPN, and PacSun, to name a few organizations of note.

Visit: Jason M. Peterson’s legendary Instagram


Pre-Mobile Photography Days

Jason M. Peterson was born on 20th November, 1970, in Phoenix, Arizona. He started to delve into the world of photography by way of its history when he was in high school.

Early on, his methods of taking photos were no different than your typical photographer, using a camera and film, since that’s what was available at the time – all the while he had this burning desire to deliver quality results faster and better, in a more impromptu, temporal, and guerrilla way.

At first, none of this was not possible, creating some frustration for the artist, who simply wanted more freedom to work according to his creative impulses. 

Still, in his mind’s eye, Jason pondered the legacy of his artistic heroes, such as movie-maker Stanley Kubrick and photographer Harry Callahan, whose high contrast work that he did many decades before made a huge impact on Peterson’s style (see below).

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Early on in his evolution as an artist, and prior to the social media boom with mobile apps like Insta and Tumblr, there didn’t seem to be a way to be a truly “modern” photographer in the sense of applying the new mobile technology that was capable of beginning to combine phones, computers, and cameras into one convenient package.

Jason wouldn’t find a solution to the ADD-satisfying instantly epic results he desired until some time later.

jason peterson photographer

After graduating from high school, he studied history and design at the University of Arizona, where he made forays into fashion and urban photography.

One of the first things he captured photographically in his search for an artistic aesthetic was punk rock bands performing on a stage, since Jason himself was a fan of this type of music, and could easily spot the drama inherent in this style of performing.

jason m peterson arizona straight edge

In the beginning, he was using more conventional methods of photography, resisting digital photography as it appeared to be too obviously digitally made and inferior.

It took him some time before the technology caught up with his desire to actually use it.


Beyond the Barriers

Like many professional photographers, before starting to use social networks to promote his work, Jason M. Peterson was skeptical.

The Instagram platform, for instance, seemed to him to be a hipster haven with no appreciable value to him or his work.

welcome to instagram

At the behest of a friend, he tried it, and soon, he was hooked. 

After posting his first few pictures and getting likes from strangers all around the world, he quickly changed his mind – from there it became a game he could relate to, and a platform where his rapid fire photography of urban life and human interaction and expression might take shape.

Once the mobile phone technology finally “arrived”, as it were, in terms of camera quality, Jason was quick to embrace this new technology, where he could do his work in a very “in the moment” style, capturing exactly the combination of subject, light, and shadow, that he wanted.

The results he was getting, started to speak for themselves.

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Jason was quick to brand his Instagram page as a ready-made portfolio of his classic, high contrast, black and white images, and the world began to take notice.  Posting daily helped.

As he continued to evolve, he began to develop a more “timeless” technique, where everything he took seemed to rival his heroes in terms of composition and aesthetics, gaining an increasingly epic quality with an eye for details most would miss.

Now, to get the perfect shot, all he really needed to do with be out in the world, and the world would present to him shots that no one else but him could see or get.  Contrast, angles, subject, meaning – it all began to coalesce into what became his signature style.

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As time went on, he began to create with both expensive technology, and then different mobile technology and apps.  The world had opened up to him, and nothing was off limits in terms of achieving his photographic and artistic visions.

Jason began to truly embrace the freedom inherent in taking photos with a mobile device.  The devices were able to deliver the goods, and Jason M. Peterson became almost a medium between the “shot” and the camera lens.

Read our article featuring Jason M. Peterson – Top 10 Best Contemporary Photographers


Chicago

After twenty years of living in New York, Jason M. Peterson moved to Chicago and became a nonofficial ambassador of this city.

content_Chicago_Skyline

Jason has no qualms with sharing with the photography community exactly what camera and settings he uses, and which places or spots he visits.

Jason wants that everyone would have the option to do what he’s doing, but in their own way.  Since so many people have phones capable of taking incredible shots these days, there is no reason that people can’t do this for themselves, if that’s their wish.

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Jason has joked that he probably did more for Chicago’s tourism than all tourism campaigns combined, because everyone who follows his works on social media think that Chicago is amazing place to visit and they want to go there.  


Keep on Hustlin’

Seeking to improve his skills every day, Instagram has given Jason M. Peterson the ability to streamline his efforts, and progress in a way that is pleasing to him.  

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Keeping in mind the philosophy that new work should be, even in a small way, an improvement over old work, keeps Jason’s work ever-evolving, as he continues to capture the world in a way that has people in awe.


Quotes

“Wherever I’m at, I’m just looking around and I’m just watching life happen. There will be light shining off a building, and there will be a little reflection that people are just walking by with their Starbucks not noticing. I’ll just stop and look at that light and wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. I’m late all the time, to everywhere I’m going. I’ll sit there and wait for some weird small little life moment to happen right in that light, and then it’s like literally one shot –  boom, I got it. And that’s it. But it’s like these little moments that happen in urban life all the time that you miss.”

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“I think the number-one thing is, do stuff that you really love to do. Don’t follow other people. Be true to your vision or what your passion or talent is. I shoot photographs every day, and people are like, how long did it take you to do that? And I’m like, I don’t know, like two minutes? Because it’s what I do. I’m really passionate about it. I think a lot of people are trying to force themselves into doing something that they may not even necessarily like or do or have a talent for. So I think the biggest encouraging thing is, figure out what your own voice is, and then just be about that. People will come along to that if it’s good.”


Videos

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Steve McCurry – Revealing The World’s True Colours

steve mccurry photo war

Steve McCurry is an American photographer and photojournalist. 

steve mccurry young

Background

He was born on April 23, 1950 in Philadelphia. Steve studied Film at Pennsylvania State University. After graduation in 1974, he started to work for a local newspaper called The Daily Collegian and started his career as a photographer.

After a few years of working as a freelance photographer, McCurry made his first trip to India.

Back then, he didn‘t know that this country would be the start for his international career, filled with many trips to countries, which suffer from armed conflicts, war, and poverty, but also will give him huge resources to know different cultures and take fascinating pictures.


India

Everything started from a one-way ticket. India for the first trip was chosen not accidentally. Its rich culture promised many vivid and lively shots.

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Through his career, McCurry had visited India many times and collected wide spectrum of pictures. From cities full of people like Mumbai or Kolkata till farmscapes in the Uttar Pradesh area.

While traveling through these places, he started to create spectacular portraits of locals, surrounded by cows and busy with their daily works. You can see deep looks, which catch your attention and give you the feeling, that behind every person, it doesn‘t matter if he or she is young or old, is an individual and unique story, which Steve was trying to bring to the world.

young boy with a gun to his head

India is very generous of giving the photographer plenty of colors – red, orange, blue or green and that perfectly reflects at Steve’s photos. You can see different fabrics on people’s bodies or turbans on men’s heads.

By taking these pictures, the photographer shows, that huge part of India‘s culture can be disclosed exposing the vivid colors of locals, because it seems like every person he shoots is one of a kind and unique.

Steve said: “I think that joy of photographing in India is that you never quite know what is waiting for you around the next corner. There is always, what‘s delightful, horrified, something that you never saw before, something who always can strike you in the face”.

Steve-McCurry-Holu-a-festival-that-welcomes-spring-is-celebrated-with-public-spraying-of-colorful-powders.-Rajasthan-India-1996

The artist emphasizes a picture he took in the Rajasthan region, saying that circumstances were favourable, when suddenly dust storm started and it created an exclusive atmosphere for the shot.

Group of women were hiding from the storm covered in the circle and started to sing.

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What McCurry likes of this picture, is how fabric was blown during the dust storm and the fabrics itself symbolize the past, cause they aren’t produced anymore and also the trees are symbol too because there is a big desolation of trees in that part of the country.


Afghanistan and the big break

While being in India, Steve McCurry accidentally snuck into Afghanistan, just before it was invaded by Soviet troops.

He needed to be very careful: shave his beard, put the same clothes as locals wear and especially hide his cameras in a bag.

At that time, there was a military zone with the armed Pakistani soldiers and the whole region was unsafe but also very interesting for a photographer.

khumari afghanistan

When he sent films with pictures back to his family, one of them were printed in Geo magazine and The New York Times, but the real break happened when the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan later the same year and then the appearance of these photos was vitally important for all printed media.


The famous Afghan girl

When photo of the Afghan girl was printed on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985, it became one of the most popular and iconic pictures in the whole photography history.

The picture was taken at the refugee camp during the Soviet invasion. McCurry remembered, that there was a full class of children, but one girl took his attention from the entering in the classroom, because of her incredible green eyes and mesmerized look.

Steve-Mccurry-Afghan-Girl-Pakistan-1984

At first, a girl was a bit shy, because probably it was the first time in her life when somebody was taking pictures of her, but her teacher told her, that it would be important to let the whole world see her.

To create this portrait the circumstances were perfect – right light, good background and an expression of the girl‘s face.

The authenticity of a girl brought success, because she didn‘t pose, just sat calmly and looked into the lens.

The picture of a girl symbolizes the fear and horror of war and perfectly illustrates how one image can describe individual experiences during a difficult situations of the country during the war.

About the inspiration: “I think what inspires me, is that incredible world we live in, all the ways people live their lives, come out of the mountains, wearing this jewelry, hats, and in the middle east women covered to the top – all of this area of culture is happening in the same little particular place of dust. I am amazed by how we all are the same, we do the same things, we all do them erratically in different ways. So I think the thing, which inspires me is the traveling, absorbing and wandering around this amazing planet”.

And where is that famous Afghan girl now?  Here she is speaking with the BBC.  Clearly the photo was a mixed blessing for her.


Family

Steve McCurry is married and has a daughter, who was born in 2017. He loves to travel with his family to various countries, he hopes, that his daughter could know other cultures, meet different people and learn to speak several languages, because for him it is important, that she could feel comfortable in different parts of the world.


Published works and achievements

Steve McCurry has published books including: The Imperial Way (1985), Monsoon (1988), Portraits (1999), South Southeast (2000), Sanctuary (2002), The Path to Buddha: A Tibetan Pilgrimage (2003), Steve McCurry (2005), and Looking East: Portraits (2006), In the Shadow of Mountains (2007), The Unguarded Moment (2009), The Iconic Photographs (2012), Steve McCurry Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs (2013), From These Hands: A Journey Along the Coffee Trail.

Through more than 40 years of his career, Steve received various awards, including Medal of Honor for coverage of the 1986 Phillippine Revolution given by White House News Photographers Association, Golden Doves for Peace journalistic prize issued by the Italian Research Institute Archivio Disarmo in 2018.

Steve McCurry

His works were exhibited in the exhibitions in New York, Hong Kong, Brussels, and other cities. The most important – his works inspired many photographers and creators around the world.

To see Steve McCurry‘s pictures you can visit on of the following sites:

https://www.stevemccurry.com/

https://www.facebook.com/stevemccurrystudios

https://www.instagram.com/stevemccurryofficial/?hl=en


Steve McCurry Videos

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Amrita Sher Gil – The James Dean Effect

Amrita Sher Gil is one of the most impressive and the most gifted Indian artists of the pre-colonial era.

Amrita_Sher-Gil_2

India’s Revolutionary Artist

She is considered as a revolutionary woman artist and pioneer of modern art in India, and often referred to along with Frida Kahlo for aesthetically blending traditional and Western art forms.

She was born on January, 30, 1913 in Budapest, Hungary. Her mother Marie Antoniette Gottesmann was a Hungarian-Jewish opera singer, and her father Umrao Singh Sher-Gil Majithia was a Sikh aristocrat and a Persian and Sanskrit scholar.

She developed an interest towards painting at her early childhood, by the time she was five. In 1921, Amrita’s family shifted from Hungary to the beautiful hill station of Shimla, due to financial problems.

amrita sher-gil

The young Amrita started to learn painting at the age of eight, trained under Major Whitmarsh and Beven Paterman.

A few years later, she joined a famous art school in Florence, Santa Annunziata, where she was exposed to the works of Italian artists, which furthered her interest in painting.

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Months later, Amrita and her mother returned to India.

Realizing Potential in Paris

In 1926, Amrita’s nephew Ervin Baktay, an Indologist aware of her amazing potential, played a crucial role in pushing her to pursue an artistic career.

At the age of 16, she went to Paris with her mother and started training under Pierre Vaillend and Lucien Simon at Grande Chaumiere, and received a formal education at the École des Beaux-Arts.

academie-de-la-grande

She spent five years in Paris. It was a period of experimentation, and a period of exploring her own hybrid identity. Sher-Gil was fully aware of her exotic beauty, sometimes wearing western clothing, and sometimes wearing a sari.

During the initial stages of her career, her works were profoundly influenced by Western art, reflected academic style in which she was trained. It was the Western European idiom with its naturalism and textured application of paint.

In the early 1930s, many of her pieces included paintings of her Parisian life, still life studies, nude studies, portraits of her friends and fellow students, and the significant corpus of the self portraits, for which she is often considered as narcissistic by many.

The self portraits captured the artists in her many moods-pensive, joyous and obscure, while revealing a narcissistic line in her personality.

amrita sher gil

Pitiless Eye, Melancholic Soul

In 1932, she created The Young Girls: the two women- Amrita’s sister Indira sits on the left clothed in chic European style and a French friend Denise Proutaux partially undressed figure in the foreground.

The two women, one assured the other awkward with her face buried beneath streaming hair have been as personifying two different side of the artist herself.

Sher-Gil was the youngest and the only Asian artist to be elected as an Associate of the Grand Salon in Paris. The painting was gained wide recognition and was awarded a Gold Medal at the Parisian Grand Salon in 1933.

One of Sher-Gil’s professor predicted that her works would make more sense in the East, judging by the rich colors that she usually used in her painting.

Sher-Gil created self-portraits that represented her grappling with her own identity. These paintings often reflected troubled and introvert woman caught between her Indian and Hungarian existence.

amrita sher gil self portrait

Gaugin’s Disciple

She was profoundly influenced by the simplified and symbolically charged paintings of Paul Gauguin. It became explicit in Self Portrait as Tahitian (1934), where Sher-Gil appear in a three-quarter profile naked to the waist, and looking beyond the frame of the picture.

Her body is depicted in Gauguin’s technique of the female nude with a distant, obscure expression of her face. She self-consciously plays on her status as the exotic other in Paris.

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In 1934, Sher-Gil returned to India in order to find a mode of delineation appropriate to her Indian subjects.

Decoding Indian Traditions

A few years later, 1937, in order to decode the traditions of Indian art she began her journey to the south India, a journey that shaped all her future work.

Sher-Gil was deeply moved by the plight of unprivileged people and common villagers; she explored the sadness felt by people, especially women, giving voice and validity to their experience.

It would reflect in her work South Indian Trilogy (Bride’s Toilet, Brahmacharis and South Indian Villagers Going to Market) are much different from the prevalent realist watercolor mode of Indian painting at that time.

Her artistic style and technique was indeed fairly unusual in India. Influenced by the wall painting of the Ajanta Caves, she attempted to fuse their aesthetics with the European oil painting techniques.

She had learnt to incorporate Indian traditions in her work and rediscovered her purpose in painting. Once she even wrote to a friend saying that Europe belongs to the artists such as Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse while India belongs to her.

Her artistic style was in marked contrast to that of her contemporaries in India – Nandalal Bose, Abdur Rahman Chughtai and Abanindranath Tagore, who belonged to the Bengal school, as the first modern movement of Indian art.

She considered the school retrograde and blamed it for the stagnation in Indian painting of that time.

self-portrait

In the following years, her work had a tremendous impact on Indian art. As an exceptional colorist, Sher-Gil was able to achieve special effects with colors that were bold and unbridled, in opposite to the pale hues in vogue among her contemporary colleagues. 

Some of the best examples of her work such as Village Scene, Siesta or In the Ladies’ Enclosure represented the poor state of women and other unprivileged people.

tribal women amrit sher gil paintings

Understanding

The painting Three Girls, from 1935, shows melancholic women wearing passive expressions; their solemn brown faces a contrast to the vibrant reds, ambers and greens of their clothing.

The mood is dispirited – the women are waiting for something they doubt will ever come along. Sher-Gil lived between worlds, between West and East, in searching for a sense of belonging.

So, she understood the emptiness and loneliness of those women, since their moods were a certain reflection of her own.

In 1941, Sher Gil moved to Lahore, an undivided part of India, where the art was appreciated at that time. In this phase of her life, she produced some of her most known painting such as Tahitian, Bride, Hill Scene and The Red Brick House.

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Living Free, Dying Young

Amrita Sher-Gil was a free spirit who led a somewhat careless life; she was bisexual and had numerous relationships.

Regarding her sexuality, her biographer Yashodhara Dalmia in Amrita-Sher-Gil: A Life (2006) wrote it was (partly) a result of her broad view of woman as a strong individual, liberated from the social conventions.

She formed an intimate friendship with the painter Marie Louise Chassany who was a fellow student at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Some art critics believed her painting Two Women reflected their yearning for one another.

Sher-Gil saw marriage as a way to gain independence from her parents. In 1938, she married Dr. Victor Egan, her Hungarian first cousin, revealing afterward that she was pregnant; Dr Egan arranged for an abortion and performed it.

She was a close friend of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and central figure in Indian politics before and after independence. She never painted Nehru, as she stated he was ‘’too good looking to be painted’’.

In 1941, days before her first solo exhibition in Lahore, she became ill. A few months later, she died at the age of 28.

The real cause of her death was never ascertained. The cause was believed to be complications from a second abortion performed by her husband.  Her mother accused Dr Victor Egan, for her demise.

Her unfinished works reveal a move toward abstraction and incorporate richer colors that the colors seen in her previous paintings.

The artwork of Amrita Sher-Gil has been declared as National Art Treasures by the Government of India.

In 1978, India Post released a stamp of her ‘Hill Women’’. The Indian cultural center in Budapest has been named after her. The 100th anniversary of Amrita Sher-Gil’s birth was declared as the international year of Sher-Gil by UNESCO, in 2013.

The complexities of her life made her both, an outsider and insider, as did her ambivalent sexuality and identity-pushed her to constantly reinvent her artistic style and visual language.

She sought to adjust and reconcile her enthusiastic response to traditional art-historical resources with her modern sensibility.

Recommended Viewing on Amrita Sher-Gil:

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Rob Skeoch – Interview on Street Photography and What it means to be a gritty outlaw

searching for china 2

Today I speak with pro photographer Rob Skeoch, whom I met through a street art show we’re having together along with sculptor Barbara Di Renzo at the Homer-Watson House and Gallery in Doon, Ontario called Inside/Out (Street Art Bombing).

Here’s Rob swimming with a shark somewhere.  Rob looks, oddly enough, quite at home, while the shark looks rather incredulous about things.

rob skeoch

Here’s the show poster:

Street art is a term that may seem rather nebulous to some, even myself (who has been labelled a street artist and is involved in a show about street art), but I wanted to take this opportunity to explore it more, via this interview with Rob (who also fulfills the qualifications for being a street artist in one way or another).  If anyone should know, it’s apparently us!

Here’s some of Rob’s photography hanging in the gallery, looking good and rather mysterious!

homer watson house and gallery show with rob skeoch

Sit back, relax, and enjoy my interview with Mr. Rob Skeoch!


How long have you been doing photography and what got you interested in photography to begin with?

Rob: I’ve been doing photography for most of my life. Starting in high school in the camera club that provided photos for the yearbook.

I always found it fascinating and there was nothing else I wanted to work at. It’s funny how something you first try in high school can still be interesting to you forty years later.


What was the first camera you owned?

Rob: My very first camera was the Kodak X15, a plastic point and shoot with a drop in film cartridge.

Kodak X15

I used this type of camera in high school, until I bought a Pentax F camera in my final year of high school.


What passions do you have other than photography that might surprise people?

Rob: I’ve only been interested in two things for most of my life, photography and scuba diving.There’s nothing as exciting as diving with sharks or any of the big fish.

Last week I was diving in the Red Sea and later this spring I’m in the Philippines, mostly shooting underwater video.


What is a “photo essay”?

Rob: A photo essay is just a story that you tell through a series of photos. Maybe it’s two pictures or maybe it’s a collection of 20-30 shots. If presented properly, in a sequence that makes sense you can make a stronger point than you can with just one photo.

(The following piece was taken from Rob’s photo essay, Streets of Steel, about the city of Hamilton, Ontario – Click here to view more of this and other photo essays by Rob Skeoch)

In a sense the photo essay is a connected group of photos that are telling a story through a similar point of view.

Street photography is usually just one photo so it tells a more limited story. A group of street shots don’t always form into a photo essay either sometimes they’re just a group of photos about a similar thing but each saying something unique.


What type of street photography do you feel that you do?  Do you ever stop to define it as a particular genre or sub-genre?

Rob: Right now my street photography is more linked to portraits on the street. It’s an area I’m planning to explore this summer.

These portraits are different than straight Street Photography which tends to be more random and might be more sophisticated compositionally than portraits would be.

(The following piece was taken from Rob’s photo essay, Searching for China – Click here to view more of this and other photo essays by Rob Skeoch)

searching for china rob skeoch photograph


Do you have any primary influences that made you want to be a photographer? (these don’t have to be other photographers per se)

Rob: There’s so many great photographers who work in the genre but some work worth considering would be from Eugene Smith or Peter Turnley.


How important is presentation with your work and how do you go about it?

Rob: Part of communicating through photography, whether it’s fashion or something from the street is how the viewer experiences the artwork.

If you take great photos and hide them in a shoebox, you’re not really communicating. It’s only by having your artwork out there that the circle becomes complete.

I’ve tried shows using different gallery techniques to get people looking at the show to really see the photos.

Right now my work is printed small so people have to lean in to see it. The small print size forces them to do that. Is it the best way to go? I’m not sure. A small print will rarely have the impact of a larger one but it’s something I’m exploring.

rob skeotch

Will I make 5×7 prints for my next show? Likely not as I want to try different ways to present the work. The great thing with small prints is they’re like jewels hanging on the wall, each one very intimate. Plus the smaller size makes them available to a greater range of collectors.

Photography has become a funny business for those trying to make money at it. The opportunities have never been greater for the real top level shooter while the middle of the road talent is likely making no money at it.

With so many photos being taken and so many genres of photography, it’s hard to find a thread that links everyone together.

Being curious is likely a good trait to have if you want to be an artist, but on the other hand limiting your interests might be needed if you want to rise above the level of hack and take things to a higher level.


You work with a large company currently.  How do you approach work differently for them than you do for yourself?

Rob: For me, I work at Sony in a demanding job, so photography is an outlet from that work, and street photography is my genre because I can do it anywhere

I don’t have to have much time set aside for it, can find a subject anywhere, and don’t need much gear.

If I’m shooting digital I likely only have one camera and a small zoom with me, and if I’m shooting film I likely have one or two lenses and an old Leica film camera.

Although I work in the digital imaging department at Sony, shooting on film is often a nice break from digital and then having to edit on the computer. It’s great to be in the darkroom instead. 

The other thing about shooting film is you get to use some of the all-time classic cameras now that they’re less costly because most people want digital cameras.

With the better cameras the “user experience” is so much at a higher level it just makes the entire process that much more enjoyable.


To see more of your work, where should people go?

There is more work over at robskeoch.com


Thanks Rob!

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The Rise of Modern Art

The history of modern art is also the history of the progressive loss of art’s audience. Art has increasingly become the concern of the artist and the bafflement of the public.

-Paul Gauguin

When Did Modern Art Begin?

The rise of modern art can be traced to the Industrial Revolution (1760-1860).  It was the period of rapid changes in transportation, manufacturing, and technology began around the mid-18th century and lasted through the 19th century. 

It was the one of the most crucial turning points in world history. It profoundly affected the economic, social and cultural conditions of life in North America, Western Europe and eventually the world.

Revolutionary forms of transportation, including the stream engine, the large machine-powered factory, the subway, and the railroad profoundly changed the way people lived, traveled and worked, expanding their worldview.

People migrated from the rural areas to the city centers to find work; the center of life from the family and village in the country shifted to the expanding urban metropolises.

In addition, other developments had also influence on arts in this period. In 1841, the American painter John Rand (1801-1873) invented the collapsible paint tube.

The Interpretation of Dreams (1889), a publication of psychologist Sigmund Freud and the idea of a subconscious had a great, epochal influence on arts, literature and philosophy at that time.

The artists began exploring dreams, personal iconography and symbolism as directions for the depiction of their subjective experiences.


The Invention of Photography

“Boulevard du Temple”, a daguerreotype made by Louis Daguerre in 1838, is generally accepted as the earliest photograph to include people.

The invention of photography offered new radical possibilities for interpretation and depiction of the world. Photographic technology advanced, and became increasingly accessible to the public.

Within a few decades, a photograph could reproduce almost any scene with perfect accuracy.

The photography became a serious threat to classical art conventions of representing a subject, as neither painting nor sculpture could capture the same degree of detail as photography.

In regards to photography’s technical precision, artists were obliged to discover new modes of expression, which led to new paradigms in the art world.

The development of photography and its allied photomechanical techniques of reproduction has had an obscure but important influence on the development of modern art, because these techniques deprived manually executed painting and drawing of their main role so far, as the only means of depicting the visible world accurately.

In earlier periods before 1800, artists were often commissioned to make artworks by institutions or wealthy patrons. The most of the art of those times depicted mythological, religious or historical scenes that told stories intended to instruct the viewer.


From Patronage to Personal

But, during the 19th century, many artists started to create art based in their own personal experience and leaning.

Instead of following the Hierarchy of Genres and being content with academic subject matters, interspersed with ’meaningful’ landscapes and portraits, artists began to create art about everyday things; about the ordinary people, places and ideas.

As a creative response to the rationalist practices and perspectives of the new ideas provided by technological advances of the industrial age, modern art intent to portray a subject as it exists in the world, according to the artist’s unique perspective and is presented by a rejection of traditional values and styles.

In the early 19th century European artists simply began experimenting with the act of observation.

All across the Europe, the artists, such as Henri Fantin-Latour and Gustave Courbet, created works that aimed to depict situations and people objectively, with the all imperfections, rather than creating idealized exposition of the subject.

This new radical approach to art would become known as Realism, a broad school of art and movement.

At the same time, the Romantics started to present landscape as they saw and felt it.

The landscapes painted by J.M.W. Turner are dramatic representations that capture the feeling of the awe-inspiring that hit the artist upon viewing the particular scene in nature.

This representation of a place in conjunction with a particular feeling was a decisive step for creating the modern artist’s unique perspective.

The other artists shifted their focus to emphasize the visual sensation of the observed subject rather than a objective representation and naturalistic depiction.


The Beginning of Abstract Impressionism

It was the beginnings of abstraction in visual art. James McNeil Whistler’s Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (1874) and Monet’s Boulevard des Capucines (1873) are the key examples.

Claude_Monet,_1873-74,_Boulevard_des_Capucines,_oil_on_canvas,_80.3_x_60.3_cm,_Nelson-Atkins_Museum_of_Art,_Kansas_City

In the former case, the artists coupled small flacks and large splatters of paint in order to create a depiction of a night sky illuminated by fireworks; it was more atmospheric than representational.

Monet created an aerial view of modern Parisian life. In this scene, he made the pedestrians and cityscape as an ‘impression’, a visual representation of subjective and slightly abstracted perspective.

Some artists connected their work to preceding ideas or movements, but the general goal of each artist in modernism was to advance their practice to a position of a true originality.

Some of them established themselves as independent thinkers risking beyond what constituted acceptable forms of art at the time which were endorsed by traditional academies and the upper-class patrons of the arts. These personas depicted subject matters that many considered controversial or even substantially ugly.


The Rise of the Commoner

In this regard, the first modern artist who stands on his own with his distinctive style was Gustave Courbet.

Courbet scandalized the French art world by his painting Burial at Ornans (1849-50), portraying the funeral of a common man from a peasant village (his father’s uncle).

The French Academy bristled at the depiction of dirty farm workers around open grave; Courbet was ostracized for his work, but he, eventually proved to be tremendously influential to the following generations of modern artists.

The paintings of Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet and the Impressionists represent a profound rejection of the dominant academic tradition and a quest for a more objective representation of the visual world.

The most commonly cited date that marking the birth of modern art is 1863- the year that Edouard Manet exhibited his painting Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe in the Salon des Refuses/ Salon of the Rejected in Paris.

Despite the fact it was modelled on a Renaissance work by Raphael and Manet’s respect for the French Academy, it was considered to be one of the most scandalous paintings of the period.

Modernism embraces a variety of theories, movements and attitudes whose modernism resides especially in a tendency to reject historical, traditional, or academic conventions and forms in an effort to create an art practice more in keeping with changed economic, social and intellectual conditions.

Art history tends to classify artists into units of historically connected and like-minded individuals. The approach of establishing categories is particularly suitable to well centralized movement with a single objective, such as Impressionism, Cubism, Futurism.

When Claude Monet exhibited his painting Impression, Sunrise at Parisian Salon in 1872, the painting was poorly received. Consequently, Monet and his fellow artists were motivated and united by the criticism; it was a precedent for future independent artists who sought to group together based on the same or similar aesthetic approach.

The practice of grouping artists into schools or movement in not always appropriate. For instance, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cézanne are considered the major artists of Post-Impressionism movement.

The movement was named so because the chronological place in history as well as artists’ deviation from Impressionism. However, it did not represent a cohesive group of artists who united under a single ideological frame. In addition, some artists do not fit into any particular category, school or movement.

Despite the inconsistency, the designation of schools and movements allows the broad history of art to be broken down into segments separated by contextual factors.


The Arrival of the Avant-Garde

The progression of Modernism in art led to what is known as the Avant-Garde. The term Avant-Garde derives from the French ‘’vanguard’’, literally means advance guard- the lead division going into battle.

Most of the creative and principal artists were avant-gardes. Their objective was to improve practices and ideas of art and to challenge what constituted acceptable artistic form in order to accurately communicate the artists’ experience of modern era.

From about 1890s and on, a succession of a variety of schools, styles and movements emerged that represent the core of modern art and one of the high points of Western visual culture.

The modern movements include  Realism, Romanticism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, Suprematism, Constructivism, Metaphysical painting, De Stijl, Dadaism, Surrealism, Social Realism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, Op art, Minimalism and Neo-Expressionism.

Despite the enormous variety, most of them are ‘modern’ in their investigation of the potential inherent within the various medium for expressing an inner, spiritual, response to the changed conditions of life in the 20th century.

These conditions include the expansion of scientific knowledge and understanding, accelerated technological change, irrelevance of traditional source of value and belief and an expanding awareness of non-Western cultures.

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The Dadaistic Life of Max Ernst

Painting is not for me either decorative amusement, or the plastic invention of felt reality; it must be every time: invention, discovery, revelation. – M. Ernst

Dadaism was a movement of the grotesque, absurdity, and an expression of the modern world meaninglessness. Not only paintings, sculptures, and poems artworks, but the life of artists was an artwork itself.

Max Ernst’s life wasn’t an exception.

Early life

Maximilian Maria Ernst was born in 1891 in Bruhl, Germany as the third of nine children in a strict middle-class Catholic family. His parents were devoted Christians who were raising their children to be religious, God-fearing and capable individuals.

His father was an amateur painter and he introduced painting to Max at an early age, which will further determine his life path.

Philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry were areas that first interested him, so he went to study it at the University of Bonn.

He was visiting asylums and got fascinated with the artwork of mentally ill people. But he abandoned this studies because he realized that he had more interests in the arts, claiming that his interests included anything connected to painting.


Love for Painting

His love for painting was the main reason he decided to dedicate his life to it.

In the earliest days of his painting career, he met works of the most famous artists of all time, such as Van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Cezzane and Picasso, who influenced Ernst’s further work.

His favorite themes were fantasy and dreams, and he adopted an ironic style that juxtaposed grotesque elements alongside Cubist and Expressionist motifs.


War and Dada

After finishing his studies, Ernst was forced to join the German Army in World War I as a part of the artillery unit, so he was directly exposed to the drama of warfare.

The war was ruinous for this young soldier, but inspiring for him as an artist. He became highly critical of western culture and these charged emotions directly fed into his vision of the world as irrational – an idea that became the basis of his artwork.

Memories of the war and his childhood helped him create absurd, but interesting scenes in his artworks. In 1918, after returning from the war, he took painting seriously.

With Jean Arp, a poet and an artist whom he met before having to go to war, he formed a group of Dada artists in Cologne.

They edited journals and created a scandal by organizing a Dada exhibit in a public restroom. More important are his collages and photomontages he started making in 1919.

His collages represent an important phase of Dadaist art.


Collages

He was using different materials in creating collages, such as illustrated catalogs, photographs of various animals, drawings etc, which resulted in creating somewhat futuristic images.

One of these compositions is Here everything is still floating (1920), a startlingly illogical composition made of cutout photographs of insects, fish and anatomical drawings ingeniously arranged to suggest the multiple identities of the things represented.

He approached descriptive expression with his collages. Besides that, a three-dimensional spatial perspective and dreaming illusionism of Giorgio de Chirico heavily influenced his work.

Adjustment to his take on Chirico’s style moved him away from Arp’s plain drawings and provided a transition that later became an illusionist branch of surrealist painting.

Arp’s and Ernst’s attempts to reach “beyond painting” – Arp with his low, painted and machine-cut reliefs, and Ernst with his collages – don’t represent an attempt of anti-art, as much as a response to feeling that the pre-war art was too hermetic and aesthetic.

Their work made a base for painting-poetry that lived through Dadaism and inspired quarter century of Surrealism.

Ernst’s unique masterpieces enabled him to create his own world of dreams and fantasy, which helped him to heal his personal issues and trauma.


Surrealism

In the 1920s, Surrealism occurred.

In 1922, Ernst moved to Paris where he became a founding member of the Surrealists, the group that gathered artists and writers whose work outgrew from the unconscious.

In 1923, Ernst finished his Men Shall Know Nothing of This, known as the first surrealist painting.

He was one of the first artists to apply The Interpretation of Dreams by Freud to investigate his deep psyche to explore the source of his own creativity.

In 1929, he started using techniques of decalcomania – transferring paint from one surface to another by pressing the two surfaces together, and frottage – pencil rubbings of the things such as wood grain, fabric or leaves, to stimulate the flow of imagery from his unconscious mind.

These techniques resulted with the accidental patterns and textures that made the artist contemplating free association to suggest images he subsequently used in a series of drawings (Histoire naturelle, 1926) as well in many paintings such as The Great Forest (1927) and The Temptation of St. Anthony (1945).

Ernst gained quite a reputation despite his strange style.


Also in 1929, he turned to collage again and created The Woman with 100 heads, which represents his first collage novel.

Not long after, he created the collage novels A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil (1930) and A Week of Kindness (1934).

After 1934, his attention was oriented towards sculpture, where he was using improvised techniques just as he did in painting.

For example, Oedipus II (1934) was cast from a stack of precariously balanced wooden pails to form a belligerent-looking phallic image.


Moving to the United States

At the beginning of World War II, Ernst moved to the United States. There he joined his third wife Peggy Guggenheim, who helped him to break through American art scene, and his son, American painter Jimmy Ernst.

While living there, he concentrated on sculptures such as The King Playing with the Queen (1944), which shows the influence that African culture made on him.

He helped to form American art during the middle of the twentieth century, thanks to his ingenious and extraordinary ideas that were different from those of other artists of that time.

Ernst’s obvious denial of conventional styles and imageries in painting was what fascinated American artists.

New and innovative ways of painting interested young American artists, so this unique style of Ernst gained the attention of painters who became familiar with his work.

Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning playing chess with figures that are Ernst’s creation

Conclusion

In his later years, he divorced Guggenheim and married Dorothea Tanning, a surrealist painter who lived in Sedona, Arizona.

They were traveling to various places to learn more about different art techniques. The couple settled in France in 1953. A year after, Ernst received the Grand Prize at the Venice Biennale, a prestigious awards contest.

Max Ernst died in 1976, in Paris, only a day before his 85th birthday. His legacy lived on as he was inspiring artists throughout the world.

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The Cultural Significance of Manga and Anime

Definition of Anime, pronounced AH-knee may, and derived from the English word ‘animation’ is the term used for cartoons in Japan.

Although profoundly influenced by Western models, including the work of Walt Disney, Japanese animation has developed a distinctive visual style and a range- artistic, dramatic, and in subject matter-unparalleled globally.

The first Japanese cartoons were produced in the early twentieth century, but anime only took off as a creative form after World War II, and especially in the 1960s, when animation became a centerpiece in the young medium of television.

Today, anime is widely available in Japan on TV, as feature films, and through OVA (original video animation), productions released directly to DVD and on the Internet.

Although often stereotyped abroad as violent and sexually explicit, anime, like manga, is a diverse genre encompassing humorous children’s fare, sci-fi robot epics, and thoughtful imaginative creations like the Oscar-winning Spirited Away.

Japanese animation has long been exported, with generations of Americans growing up with various series such as Speed Racer, but only over the past twenty years has anime become an international pop culture phenomenon.

Definition of Manga, pronounced MAHN-guh, is translated in English as ‘graphic novels’ or ‘comics’, though such words cannot fully capture the richness and diversity of the genre in Japan.

Manga have a long history and their origins stretch back at least to the Tokugawa period (1600-1868) when illustrated books and the sophisticated graphics of Japan’s woodblock prints attracted both elite and mass audiences.

In the twentieth century, mainly after World War II, manga flourished in Japan, drawing inspiration from American comics, like Superman and Blondie, and draining the creative talents of artists like Tezuka Osamu, the famous creator of Astro Boy.

Today, manga are popular among all age groups in Japan, from young schoolgirls to aging corporate executives, and span a remarkable range of subjects, including action, romance, science fiction, sports, erotica, food, and history.

According to some sources, comics make up over forty percent of the books published in Japan and constitute a $4 billion industry, with numerous weekly and monthly magazines catering to the nation’s manga-loving public.

Here is one of the largest manga collections to date…

Japan’s Soft Power

Manga and anime are at the center of significant innovations and cultural debates in Japan.

They are not identical fields—manga can be defined as Japanese comic books, but anime encompasses the breadth of Japanese animation—they have become synonymous with a distinct Japanese contemporary aesthetic and visual culture in the eyes of many media, culture scholars and commentators around the world.

Many consider manga to be the origin: the creative spirit and energy that spawned anime, and later video games and merchandising spin-offs.

In many cases manga defined the template for the key genres—shōjo, shōnen, gekiga and so on—which have come to dominate the wider popular culture of Japan today.

While manga established the roots of this style during the postwar period, it was through anime that a broader global audience became aware of complexity of Japanese visual culture.

Academics and critics have connected anime and manga to various aspects of Japan including motherhood, architecture, social life and customs, gender, homosexuality, popular culture, history and religion.

As Douglas McGray observed: “Japan is reinventing superpower-again. Instead of collapsing beneath its widely reported political and economic misfortunes, Japan’s global cultural influence has quietly grown. From pop music to consumer electronics, architecture to fashion, and animation to cuisine, Japan looks more like a cultural superpower today than it did back in the 1980s, when it was economic one’’.

Advocates for Japan’s recent cultural resurgence point to the concept of ‘soft power’ in relation to the popularity of Japan’s visual culture.

This refers to the possibility of a new cultural renaissance of increased artistic freedom for Japan, and a level of respect, interest and admiration in the culture and history of Japan’s visual art both domestically and internationally.

Joseph Nye Jr., who coined the term ‘soft power’, sees manga and anime as ideal soft power products, claiming they are immediately recognized and widely admired everywhere. He notes the global success of anime such as Pokemon or Hello Kitty, which projects a soft and friendly image that appeals to children all over the world.

History of Manga

The term ‘manga’ can be traced back as far as the 1770’s, and has been used to describe the woodblock prints of Katsushika Hokusai.

While the term ‘manga’ may have been coined in the past it did not gain widespread, favored usage until the 1930’s for two reasons.

First, the popularity and national circulation of newspaper modelled on Western layouts brought serialized yankoma manga into home and workplaces throughout Japan.

Second, the growing job market for manga-ka (manga authors) fostered a sustainable manga industry.

Much of the literature on manga is framed by the question of its origin—is it located within Japan’s past and therefore a distinctive Japanese aesthetic, or is it a contemporary phenomenon influenced by the West?

Those arguing for manga as a continuation of earlier forms of Japanese graphic and visual art point to stylistic similarities between past and present graphic art, quoting the similar ‘dynamic effect’ that manga and anime share with narrative picture scrolls (emaki-mono) from the 9th century.

Critics of this continuity express two main concerns with this focus on the past.

Firstly, they claim that it sidelines or ignores the very contemporary nature of this form and the important influence of Western artistic style.

Secondly, they argue that it has less to do with art history and more to do with responding to current political and popular concerns of manga’s negative effects on youth and culture—that is, linking manga to the past is a self-justifying argument that hopes to show beyond doubt manga is part of traditional Japanese culture and thus circumvent attempts to censor or ban it as trash culture.

Paving the way for the widespread acceptance of manga in the 1930s was the establishment of two types of comic strips in the 1920s: comic strips for children published in newspapers and journals bought by parents, and short political cartoon strips for adult readers.

This division between mainstream children’s manga and political alternative adult manga would remain a lasting feature of the manga industry.

The industry experienced a downturn in the 1930’s partly triggered by the changing political environment as increased media regulation and censorship narrowed content to conform to national political objectives.

In the early postwar period, manga succeeded as a form of cheap entertainment for an impoverished, war-weary Japan.

During this time, the development of manga felt the impact of US comics, as Japanese translations of well-known titles such as Popeye, Blondie, Mickey Mouse, Superman, and Donald Duck appeared.

Along with Disney animations, these comics came to have a significant impact on the style of manga created for children.

An important reason for their success was that the Japanese people yearned for the rich American lifestyle that was blessed with various material goods and electronic appliances.

In the early postwar period, manga appeared in three main forms: kamishibai-picture card shows, kashihonya-rental manga and yokabon-manga booklets.

1946-48 saw a boom in storytelling and picture card shows performed in theatres and outdoors throughout Japan.

The picture card shows would use cheaply produce picture cards that the storyteller would speak to, performing a miniature theatre play.

Here is a video showing how a Japanese picture card show works.

Gekiga

Another factor that supported the growth of the manga industry was the emergence of the book-rental shops. Artists would write manga for magazines or books that could be rented out.

This trend peaked during the mid-1950s as book-rental outlets appeared at train stations and street corners; there were around 30 000 outlets.

The gekiga (dramatic pictures) style was developed firstly in rental manga.

As opposed to the cuter, anthropomorphic characters that filled many children’s manga, the gekiga style contained more mature, serious drama, depicted in a more realistic and graphic style that portrays the tastes of its older readers during the 1950s.

Gekiga’s major impact lay not in its graphic style, but in its popularity amongst poorly educated young urban workers and, during the 1960s, university student activities, where it became part of the anti-establishment politics of the time.

In this regard, Sanpei Shirato’s Ninja Bugeichō (Secret Martial Arts of the Ninja 1959-1962) was influential.

For many critics this story of peasant uprisings is reflective of student and worker anger over current issues such as the Japan-America Security Treaty.

The third form of manga that flourished in postwar Japan was published in small books (yokabon) sold directly to the public.

They were sold in discount book shops and children’s toy shops with deluxe higher-quality manga albums.

In the Osaka market, small manga books known as akabon( red books), due to the red ink they were printed in, attained wide popularity through the much successful New Treasure Island/Shin Takarajima which sold 400 000 copies from its launch in 1947.

The author of the New Treasure Island, Tezuka Osamu, became one of the most significant figures in manga.

Through the enormous popularity of his work, serialized in children’s manga magazines such as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, a dominant ‘cute’ manga style was established.

As opposed to the gritty realism and overt politics of gekiga, Tezuka’s manga founded an archetypical manga style featuring cute characters with large saucer eyes.

This style was influenced by Disney animations and comics from United States which had crowded Japan during the Allied Occupation between 1945 and 1951.

Tezuka also incorporated cinematic techniques inspired by German and French movies.

His manga became epic, often spanning thousands of pages, and popularized a longer, serialized form of manga known as ‘story manga’ which would become a standard format evident in today’s manga industry.

Here is a great documentary about Osamu Tezuka we recommend you watch.

Primarily read by children and regarded as cute, these story manga were an innovative break from the rigid layout and brevity of  the ‘gag manga’ genre and four-panel (yonkoma) comics popular in weekly-magazines and newspapers of that  time.

The development of the manga industry from picture card shows to rental manga and to the manga magazine industry is reflected in the employment history of significant manga artists such as Shirato Sanpei and Mizuki Shigeru.

These artists both worked their way up through picture cards, rental manga and then the manga magazine industry during the 1950s and 1960s.

The 1950s established manga as a popular and lucrative element of Japanese entertainment through the success of children’s title as Tezuka’s Astro Boy and the first weekly comic magazine for boys Kodansha’s Shōnen Mangajin (1959).

Astro Boy became typical of the trend for original manga to lead to various spin-offs in other media, becoming one of the first children’s TV cartoons in 1963, with various remakes since.

At that time, one of the dominant divisions in the manga market is the split between male and female demographics. Critics have suggested that this division may have become entrenched through the segregated school system in Meiji Japan.

During the 1960s manga broadened its content to include popular genre such as sport. Two important early sports stories that helped establish genre is weekly comic magazines for boys and young adults were the boxing story Ashita no Joe (1968) and  the baseball story Kyojin no Hoshi (1966).

Also, the 1960s saw the steady maturing of the manga market and titles which reflected this expansion beyond the children’s audience.

Young adults who had read manga as children began demanding more adult and sophisticated material; this included not only stories set in the adult workplace and the world of leisure, but also avant-garde manga  such as Garo, an alternative manga magazine (1964-2002).

This magazine serialized the popular peasant revolt story The Legend of Kamui and became an important platform for alternative art manga in Japan.

Shōjo

The 1970s were marked by a group of female manga artists who pioneered a new approach to shōjo manga.

Shōjo can be defined as manga aimed at girls less than 18 years of age, but is often more broadly applied to manga aimed at a female readership.

While shōjo includes a variety of genres such as horror, sport, science fiction and historical drama, it is commonly associated with slender elegant male characters and romantic, fantasy based plots.

Some scholars and commentators estimate that today more than half of all Japanese women under the age of 40 and more than three-quarters of teenage girls read manga with some regularity.

While initially dominated by male authors, by the 1970s a group of female artists known as Nijūyonen Gumi /Year Twenty-Four Group pioneered a new approach to shōjo manga introducing new themes and approaches such as homosexual love.

These artists depicted themes such as romantic love between beautiful young boys, for instance, Keiko Takemiya’s Kaze to Ki no Uta The Sound of The Wind and Trees, 1976; while Yumiko Oshima’s short manga Tanjō/Birth, 1970, depicted teen pregnancy and abortion.

Tankōbon

During the 1970s, development in manga’s layout and composition, graphic style, and gender- specific formats had become firmly established.

A further significant innovation was to occur in the 1970s with the popularization of the tankōbon (paperback) format for manga.

Popular manga previously serialized in weekly and monthly magazines were compiled in a higher-quality paperback more portable for commuters and more attractive for collectors.

The tankōbon soon replaced manga magazines as the main revenue stream for manga publishers.

1980’s and 90’s

By the 1980s and 90s manga had become mainstream and were read by nearly everyone of all ages Kyoyo manga (academic or educational manga) is an example of the mainstream appeal of new forms of manga as they were used to inform and educate readers on a range of topics from history and annual festivals to cooking and other DIY (Do It Yourself) areas.

Manga changed again in the 1990s as editors asserted a stronger role in the creative process of manga production.

Some scholars argue that because most editors were more wealthy and educated than artists, adult manga in particular was reformed around their more privileged tastes and interests.

This move away from the working class, artist-created, counter-culture stories of the 1960s and 1970s can be seen in the more factual and niche-interest manga such as the political and economic series Osaka Way of Finance /Niniwa Kin’yudō, and extensively researched nuclear-submarine story Silent Service/Chinmoku no Kantai.

Global Domination

This period also saw the expansion of the global market for manga; manga began to gain a stronger foothold in the United States, long a niche market for Japanese popular culture.

With the release of Akira (1988) and Ghost in the Shell (1995-world-wide release), both based on original manga, Japanese anime and manga began to attract greater international attention than ever before.

These headings were much more ‘mature’ that the standard animation of the time, and their cyberpunk, dystopian themes came at a time of great interest in the approaching millennium.

In 1988, Ghost in the Shell reached number one on Billboard’s video chart in the United States.

By the early 2000s, the manga industry had broadened beyond the familiar Japanese publisher—Kōdansha, Shūeisha, Shōgakukan to include a smaller number of transnational manga distributors and publishers and achieved a globally dispersed audience.

While there are current concerns that the Japanese manga market is becoming stagnant and its fortunes are declining, the circulation of weekly manga magazines have been in steady decline for the last decade-many of the most successful  anime, videogames and merchandising lines began as manga.

The enormously successful DragonBall franchise began as a manga series in 1984.

The 2000s have been dominated by the growth of globally effectual brands that exist across various media platforms.

Power Rangers adapted from the live-action Japanese TV show was broadcast in the United States in 1993, and by 2007 it had expanded to 15 television seasons, 14 series and two films.

Its success was overshadowed by the greater popularity of Pokemon, produced by the video game company Nintendo and created by Satoshi Tajiri, which became a successful anime, video game and character-related business franchise.

Shogakkan’s Pokemon, the animated version of Nintendo’s portable game software was the first huge success by a Japanese anime overseas; its global success has helped establish the abomination of Japan’s character-related industry, and has maintained Japan’s contribution to the children’s entertainment world-wide.

Manga Online and Games

Manga has also moved into online environments offering online manga content and various downloads that extend the audience’s access to manga in a more interactive online environment.

This move away from print media to digital formats is extended even further by hand-held video devices such as Nintendo DS and Sony’s Play Station Portable which offer a number of titles based upon popular manga or drawing upon the manga style.

Manga’s distribution over varied media platforms reveals shifting relationships between the audience and industry in Japan, but also worldwide.

Recently, manga’s development has been impacted by the rice of OEL (original English-language) manga, which straddles the Western/Japanese devide.

OEL manga involves taking the ‘design engine’ of Japanese manga and using it to tell stories created by non-Japanese artists for non-Japanese audiences.

A canonical ‘manga style’ of cute girls, big eyes, beautiful boys and dynamic action that was used as the engine to create the OEL manga stories and art represents a move to standardize the manga product.

Critics of manga include a range of groups such as parents, women’s associations and PTAs concerned over school children reading vulgar and sexually explicit manga and scholars concerned over the sexism and violence directed towards women in manga.

The most extreme critics of manga and anime claim that both mediums can have a negative effect on society, making people more violent and less informed.

There are three broad areas of concern identified. Firstly, too much information, from driving manuals to business information, is being conveyed through manga—a form of caricature that inevitably distorts, simplifies and exaggerates.

These critics note that the depth or complexity or of an issue cannot be conveyed through manga in the same way as prose, poetry or film documentary can facilitate.

Secondly, critics claim that the increasing popularity of manga as an information tool reflects a broader trend in politics, education and religion where the entertainment value of information is highlighted in order to create appeal.

Additionally, further existing concerns that information that is too complex to be compressed into manga will be ignored.

The Final Concern

A final concern is that sexually explicit and violent manga may cause more violent behavior, especially amongst younger readers.

This point came to public attention after several sensational ‘moral panic’ controversial affairs from the late 1980s where manga readers were presented by the media as either threats to social order and stability, or at risk of becoming perverted through their manga consumption.

The case with the highest profile in this regard was the trial of Tsutomu Miazaki in 1989 for the murder of four young girls.

He became known as ‘The Otaku Killer’’ due to large collection of porn videos, including anime, which police found in his apartment.

While incidents of moral panic generated of concerns over manga’s effect on society have achieved great notoriety in Japan, it is usually simplistic and unrealistic to isolate one factor, such as manga, as the sole cause of behavioral problems in an individual.

Other factors may include mental illness, family dysfunction, and poverty or drug addiction while an increasing body of research attempts to broaden the debate beyond an exclusively media- effects framework.

Anime and manga should be understood as exemplar products within Japanese visual culture.

One thing that makes manga culture important in Japan is its penetration into nearly every facet of Japanese life and culture today.

Manga are read in many different private and public settings and consumed by a broad segment of the community. In addition, manga and anime have become increasingly popular around the world.

Networks of Japanese and overseas fans are translating and distributing manga, both commercial and original works.

The manga style provides an engine for various fans to depict their own stories and link to each other through this strange world.

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Death to Drab – The Wall Murals and Street Art of Belgrade

The city of Belgrade, the capital and largest city of Serbia, have been in existence since 279 B.C.

Several empires fought for it and ruled it. All of these empires had a certain influence on its culture, people, urbanism, and architecture.

The 20th century brought several wars (Balkan Wars, First World War, Second World War, the civil wars in the 1990s) that left countless consequences.

The town’s leadership was drastically changed and the lifestyle of the people changed. Crowds of people from the countryside came to live in Belgrade after World War II.

Impoverished by wars and conditioned by a large number of people who wanted to live there and needed a home, the city got many buildings (entire settlements) built cheaply and quickly.

These were concrete buildings with no decoration, very simple, in different shades of grey. So, the once vivid and romantic city became concrete – cold and grey.

Bringing Back Life

Luckily, there were people who hated the monotonousness of their city.

These people were painters, professors and students of the faculty of arts who started to paint murals.

The first known murals appeared in 1970s. The greatest project was done in 1977, within the manifestation The Week of Latin America.

A group of Chilean artists painted a wall of Student Cultural Center (SKC). The mural was called “For unity and solidarity with people of Latin America.”

Professors, especially Čedomir Vasić, and students of the Faculty of arts gave the biggest contribution to mural popularizing.

Their campaign started in 1983 when professor Vasić engaged some students to make suggestions on what to do with some of the city walls.

The goal was to repair the city, to do ‘artistic beautifying’ and murals were the fastest and cheapest way to accomplish that.

The peak of the campaign was the year 1988 when City Hall adopted mural painting as a legal way to improve the city – it got official then and was legal for the first time.

There was caution in the beginning, so it was hard to get permission.

Through years, responsible organizations accepted this kind of interventions in their city and came as support.

Despite that, out of ten projects, only one was realized.

Popularization of Murals in Belgrade

Many murals were painted during the 1980’s. Most of them were painted by professor Vasić and his co-workers, mainly his former students who were working on popularizing murals with him from the beginning.

The most interesting mural from this period is the one on the facade of the cinema in the center of Belgrade.

It was painted when the President of France visited Belgrade in 1984 as a gift from France to Belgrade.

It shows six vertical and horizontal interlaced lines – two of them are blue, two are red, and two are white, which symbolize French and Serbian flags and friendship between these two countries.

Today this mural isn’t visible because a building was made in front of it and hide it.

In this period, some other artists were active and many walls, buildings, schools, walls of Belgrade Zoo and even a theatre, were painted and decorated.

The first great act of decorating the city was carried out in 1989, regarding the 9th Summit of Non-Aligned Movement, that was held in Belgrade.

On that occasion, several art projects were produced, including five murals. After that, only a few murals were painted, and all were damaged or destroyed.

Expansion

After the year 2000, the most significant murals were made within the Belgrade Summer Festival (Beogradski letnji festival – BELEF).

Main characteristics of this wave of painting the city were graffiti popularization and foreign street artists participation in it.

During the BELEF in 2003, artists from Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, and Bosnia and Herzegovina created a graffiti mural in the center of Belgrade, which was one of the first multi-national projects.

An expansion of street art and creating murals happen in the last decade.

Worth mentioning are murals made by Grobari (Gravediggers or Undertakers), organized supporters group of the Serbian football club Partizan Belgrade, one of two major football fan groups in Serbia.

They painted portraits of former Partizan players, its famous fans, and great individuals (Serbian actors, musicians, Nikola Tesla etc.) all over the city.

These murals are all black and white because colors of the club are black and white. An accident occurred earlier this year when someone ruined many of these portraits.

  

One of the liveliest murals represents the friendship between Serbia and the Netherlands.

The author is TKV (The Kraljica Vila – The Queen Fairy) and is made in cooperation with Netherlands Embassy in Serbia.

The orange color and Deft porcelain are clear connections to the Netherlands and its culture.

Pijanista / A Pianist

The artist who stands out among the others is Pijanista (A Pianist), a professor at Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade.

He is the founder of a campaign named #usracuse that stands against trash in Serbian culture (against bad music, literature, TV shows etc.).

Also, he is the founder of a street art festival called Runaway, that is happening in Belgrade three years now.

The festival is more popular year after year, and many foreign artists take part in it.

Pijanista paints portraits of celebrities who are supporting him in his campaign and who stands against trash by themselves.

He paints walls in his neighborhood, buildings in Belgrade and areas under bridges, as well.

His murals are most numerous and the most vivid murals in the city.

 

 

  

Visit Pijanista on Facebook here

Foreign artists

Not only Serbian artists paint in their capital city, but many foreign artists come.

Moreover, some of the most impressive murals are the works of foreign artists.

For example, mural Tree-eater is the work of experienced Italian artist Blu.

It is located at the entrance to Stari Grad (Old Town) municipality, the heart of Belgrade.

It shows a businessman who is eating trees and has skyscrapers instead of teeth, symbolics is clear here.

Artistic duo Nevercrew from Switzerland also left their mark in Belgrade in 2009.

Here is a video about Nevercrew.

This year, Israeli artist Dede donated a mural to Belgraders. He painted one of the city symbols – sparrows.

The mural of Argentinian artist Francisco Bosoletti carries the most meaningful message.

He said that the mural was inspired by his impression of sleepiness of Belgrade that he got in the first few days being there.

The image of a sleepy girl, or a girl who suffers, surrounded by geometric figures, one of the main characteristic of his work, should make the citizens of Belgrade see their country the way he saw it.

He wanted to remind them that its time for waking up, that ruins of past times in the center of the city should make them rise and look into the future, the same way as they inspired him.

Destiny of the Murals

There were more than 50 murals painted in Belgrade over the years.

Unfortunately, many of them are damaged or destroyed. Different factors affected this situation, but probably the most important is the ignorance and the lack of interest of the community.

There is still hope that these new projects and campaigns (such as #usracuse and similar) will change something and bring a brighter future to the Belgrade murals.

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