Eerie Art: Cattelan's HIM

In honor of Halloween, I thought I would write about the scariest artwork I've seen -- Maurizio Cattelan's HIM.  I first encountered the sculpture at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and it was a jarring experience.  The work is meant to be approached from behind so when I first peeked into the gallery I thought it was a perfectly innocuous sculpture of a sweet, innocent boy.  But upon entering further and turning around to look closer at the boy, I was surprised to see the adult face of Hitler.  It's not clear whether he is praying, begging for forgiveness, contrite or steely-eyed.  Cattelan's combination of man/boy qualities in this sculpture too make me wonder whether nature or nurture is more to blame for evil.  It's a powerful experience that raises a lot of questions for me.  What do you think?  What's the scariest artwork you've seen?


Apartamento Magazine

I'm dying to get my hands on an issue of Apartamento magazine. It's a relatively new, Milan-based mag that has a pretty interesting take on how a shelter mag should look and feel. Instead of featuring the mostly fussy and staged interiors of an Elle Decor-type spread, Apartamento takes informal shots of real peoples homes as they are on an everyday basis.  As the editor states, “Apartamento is there to capture the moment in life you start living in your own home and you want it to reflect your own personality." From what I can see, there is a lot of soul in these shoots, and they seem to capture what's missing in how we think about interior design today - that it's less about materialistic aspirations and more about personal expression. Apartamento is a very welcome addition to the shelter magazine line-up out now.



Erwin Wurm and the Red Hot Chili Peppers

References to Austrian artist Erwin Wurm (b. 1954) keep popping up lately.  There’s an article about his work in the latest Art News magazine and an excerpt in a book I’m reading called The Participatory Museum.  He has a delightful sense of humor and his work reminds me just how fun contemporary art can be and the capacity it has to activate an otherwise staid gallery.  I particularly enjoy his One Minute Sculptures, which consist of a variety of everyday objects on a platform (buckets, broomsticks, fake fruit, plastic bottles, even a refrigerator) along with handwritten instructions from Wurm encouraging visitors to use those materials in whatever madcap way they desire to create silly “one minute sculptures.”  The project clearly charmed the The Red Hot Chili Peppers too as they pay homage to Wurm in their video Can’t Stop. 


Gerda Taro, A Forgotten Pioneer

Photograph of female soldier by Taro
Taro with soldier on the front line

The Mexican Suitcase exhibition at the International Center for Photography features the work of three accomplished photojournalists.  Two of them you may have heard of before—Robert Capa and Chim (David Seymour).  But the third — Gerda Taro — has the most compelling story. Born in Germany in 1910, she left the country just prior to the emergence of the Nazi Party and was arrested in 1933 for distributing anti-Nazi propaganda.  Soon after she met Capa and traveled with him to Barcelona to cover the civil war. She is regarded as the first female photojournalist to cover war on the front line and she took some amazing pictures, including the first image above of a female soldier in training.  Despite her romance with Capa, she rejected his marriage proposal and remained a fearless, independent woman until her untimely death at age 27 when a tank collided into her car during battle. As one journalist eloquently put it: “In the years following her death her lover - and fellow photographer - Robert Capa would be proclaimed 'the greatest war photographer in the world'. She'd become a mere footnote in his story.”  Sadly, the exhibition doesn’t sufficiently address Taro’s background and trailblazing career.  I’m not sure if she has a large enough body of work to warrant a solo exhibition, but I think that would be a fascinating show.