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Portrait and figure painting were Katy Kianush's first love. This has provided her with an endless and challenging source of study. The faces and figures are created in a fresh way, using expressions, colours and compositions that she feels will suit the subjects. She believes that a successful portrait is created from empathy and understanding by the artist for his or her subject. The "face" plays an important part in communicating with the viewer, leading to speculation about the subject's...

Handicrafts as local art

In the same way that a Wall Street banker would never show up at work sporting beads and sandals, it would be unthinkable for members of an indigenous community in Bolivia to wear the distinctive dress of another community. Folk art is quintessentially local art, an expression of not only a specific cultural outlook, but even of the land itself in the form of the materials and tools available to artisans. And so, stepping into the new IDB Cultural Center...

Portrait Painter of the Republic

When the largest exhibition ever of works by Gilbert Stuart (1755–1828) opens this month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, visitors will gain vivid insight into the preeminent portrait artist of the founding fathers and mothers and also into the remarkable individuals who were his subjects. “Stuart’s relation with his sitters is the focus of this exhibition because that relationship was critical to the outcome of the work,” says Carrie Rebora Barratt, curator of American paintings and sculpture at the...

Art That Goes Boom

On a gritty street in downtown New York City, a bright red door gives way to another world—the elegant, serene studio of Chinese-born artist Cai Guo-Qiang (pronounced sigh gwo chang). Since moving to the United States in 1995, the 46-year-old Cai has been acclaimed for the startlingly original and unlikely public art projects he has staged around the world with explosives and precision pyrotechnics. In London, he danced a fiery dragon-shaped line of burning gunpowder across the Thames' Millennium Bridge, then over the facade of the Tate Modern museum and up its tower. In China, he symbolically extended the Great...

Art Deco: High Style

Art Deco was the name given, long after the fact, to the brazenly commercial, streamlined style that emerged in Europe, primarily Paris, prior to World War I. Spreading around the globe, it dominated architecture and decorative arts during the 1920s and '30s. Whereas worshipers of Art Nouveau—the previous stylistic rage—were obsessed with nature and decadent symbolism and filled their designs with arabesques, whiplash curves and tendrils, Art Deco designers embraced machinery and power. Using modern materials such as plastic and chrome, opulent fabrics and precious gems, their designs were replete with geometric patterns-circles, zigzags, squares—classical motifs, bright colors and just...

Poster Children

When Chloe Lum and Yannick Desranleau set up a silk-screening studio in their Montreal apartment, the last thing they expected was to make a living from it. “We never thought we’d end up being designers,” Lum says. “We were art students who were playing in punk bands and kind of fell into it.” Three years later the duo called Seripop has turned a side project into a full-time design business. The transition began when they posted a technical question...

Mass Consumption

International design biennials ask a lot of their curators—bring us your best designers, but introduce us to new faces. Tell us what’s happening in your part of the world—but don’t show us projects we’ve already seen. Say something profound about your national identity—but no clichés, please. When the event is the fourth Saint-Etienne International Design Biennale, the pressure’s even greater since it’s billed as the youngest and most experimental of the lot. So when Laetitia Wolff and Aric Chen (a...

Jun-ichi Arai: The Futurist of Fabric

Jun-ichi Arai isn’t a household name in the United States, but his work and reputation have made him a designer’s designer. For more than 40 years Arai has been rethinking what a fabric is: making three-dimensional scarves out of steel, reinterpreting ancient traditions like tie-dye, and developing flame-retardant fibers for theatrical and commercial drapery. His collaborations with Issey Miyake and Comme des Gareons in the 1970s and ’80s—when he became known for combining the new technologies of the West with...

Arts in Lithuania

Both folk and professional arts draw on the harmony, subjectivity and expressiveness of the Lithuanian character. Graphic and applied decorative art flourished in the palaces of the grand dukes and the Vilnius rulers, and the residences of noblemen and the churches. At the end of the 18th century, the Vilnius School of Art, headed by the noted artist, Pranciskus Smuglevicius, was established. The art of Mikalojus Ciurlionis, the apex in Lithuanian art, blossomed in the 20th century. Religious art is an important part of Lithuanian art. Most examples of this art have survived within churches of all styles and epochs....

Egypt: ancient art

The Land of the Pharaohs and pyramids of Giza have fascinated generation upon generation. Thanks primarily to art, their legacy has not been lost to the ravages of time. Much of the art which still exists today is funerary, built for tombs of the wealthy. Although King Tutankhamen, (Tut to most of us) was really only a mediocre pharaoh, historically speaking, he achieved great fame because his tomb was discovered intact. It was filled with priceless art treasures and it's believed many more such tombs, filled with similar art wait in silence. One of the greatest aspects of Egyptian art...