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Last year, Liquitex issued a new line of cadmium-free paint.  They held a promotional campaign in which they mailed out sample tubes of the new paint along with a normal tube of cadmium paint for artists to test out.  The twist was that the tubes came labeled as “A” and “B”. . .

Anne Imhof, “Faust” (360 degree video still by Scenic, as seen on Youtube), 2017

It is a sunny weekend afternoon, and I am sitting on a couch with my phone, watching a video with a 360 panoramic view of a piece of performance art, “Faust,” by Anne Imhof.  The phone is in my lap, while I have a cup of coffee in my hand.

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Honore Daumier, Battle of the Schools – Idealism and Realism, 1855

For the last year, I asked my two-dimensional design students about their sense of taste.  What artists do they like and what artists do they not like?  Why?  What about good and bad taste?  Are there artists that they like that they understand are somewhat low-brow and not “tasteful”?

Bison Bone Black

J. Klima, Bone yard, Michigan Carbon Works, Detroit, Michigan, n.d.

For reasons still unclear to me, I have never been that far from cow skulls. There has always been one in the drawing studio, usually right next to a few plaster sculptures of heads, packed away in a closet of still life objects. The cow skulls are in good condition, bleached white and with but a few cracks.

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What is Reductive Printmaking?

“Leave the Christmas Lights Up Until February,” reductive linocut on paper, 12” x 9”, 2015

People tend to be very curious about printmaking.  They will see a print or block in my studio and say, “Hey, what is that?!”  Maybe because my studio is primarily one for painting and it lacks any printing press, they are always mystified about how exactly I made these prints.  Did they come out of thin air?

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The Metals Run Dry

David Hand (dir.), still from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” 1937

Arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium.  What do these things have in common?  They are all heavy metals, the kind of metals that we most associate with poison.  They are also deliciously colorful to the eye.  This tension between the seduction of these metals as colorful paints and their biological harm has changed over time.

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Clever Photographers

The Brain Center at Whipples’s,  The Twilight Zone, 1964.

There is a lesser known episode of the Twilight Zone called “The Brian Center at Whipple’s” that I think might serve as a contemporary parable.  The protagonist of the story, Mr. Whipple, owns a large factory.  He is excited about advances in technology that will enable him to make product more efficiently and more cheaply.  Unfortunately, this new, automated technology is so efficient that all the human factory workers are laid off.

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A Free Flea Market

Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, [digital scan of film slide], tempera on gesso, pitch, and mastic, 181 x 346 inches, 1494-8.

I am surrounded by a graveyard of technology. My writing desk is in a basement, so it should not be such a surprise. To my right is an Ikea bookshelf that was clearly designed to hold CD jewel cases and not books. There is even a spindle of unburnt CDr’s. Actually there are two.

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Painting in the Age of Digital Reproduction

Screenshot of Google image search of “painting,” 2013

There is a conversation I keep finding myself in when I am with other painters.  It is the discussion of digital reproduction.  Take, for example, the following that a painter friend of mine said (paraphrased):

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