Tag Archives: art

Photography Inspiration: Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

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(Photographs by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky)

The body of work that Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky came to my attention this past weekend. His photographs of pre-revolutionary Russia captures a time that would capture the beauty of this vast land shared by its different peoples from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok. The stunningly beautiful portraits are of an ever-changing country and its people.

The three-filtre method he learned from Adolf Miethe has brought to life the vibrant colours of tapestries, landscapes and lives of people before the first world war and before the Russian Revolution in 1917. As a person who enjoys photography and the particularities of the different processes, it is fascinating how the colours translate on the computer screen; they are rich and unexpectedly moving like a beautiful impressionist canvas at the Musée d’Orsay. Whether Prokudin-Gorsky is an impressionist or a realist is another discussion. (I tend to be emotional and overly invested when it comes to photography.) It is not a surprise that upon seeing his photographs that czar Nicholas II commissioned him to explore and photograph Russia complete with his own train car equipped with its own dark room.

Seeing these colour photographs is a humbling experience because a lot of times, one assumes that the black and white images that are in museums and galleries are indicative of realities they captured. There were lost colours such as the hues of blue lakes and skies and the sun-kissed cheeks of farmers on a picnic after a day’s work. With new perceptions of reality through technology and other advancements, we forget that we behold the same blue sky and the same hunter green pines on the horizon during a road trip. Just looking away from the computer or smartphone screen for thirty seconds would suffice to take in the view.

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Wednesday Inspiration: Man Ray and Surrealism

Noire et Blanche, 1926This photograph by Man Ray encapsulates the inspiration of the time that pervaded the visual arts, literature, music and thought. In this photo, the use of the mask brought over from somewhere in the continent of Africa shows what stimulated the abstraction that would soon give way to Cubism.

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What’s new in design this week: TODO and IDS14 in Toronto

The DNA of this blog is composed of art, culture and design and it continues to be. Toronto is the hotbed of this trinity this week with the Interior Design Show and the Toronto Design Offsite Festival with various venues and points of focus. Designers, artists and their disciples will flock to Toronto’s cultural centre with installations and events all over Dundas West, Queen West, the Junction and other neighbourhoods.

Design and art aficionados will find their fix starting tonight with the launch party at Smash in the Junction starting at 8 p.m. Dear reader: if you are up for it, there’s a free (!) Letterpress Card-making Workshop at Graven Feather (906 Queen Street West) starting at 6 p.m.

The Junction will be the place to visit tonight with the above mentioned TODO Launch Party at Smash. My favourite art supplies shop, ARTiculations (2928 Dundas St West), will host an opening reception for the exhibit Accumulation by Christine Kim starting at 6 p.m. It’s all about investigating and experimenting with lines, light and shadow. Toronto’s beloved design shop Mjölk will host to Stockholm-based Italian industrial designer Luca Nichetto. If you’re a coffee fiend like I am, you might find a new toy that would enable your brewing vice with a new collection of accessories inspired by Italian coffee culture. The reception starts at 7 p.m.

Come Up To My Room at the Gladstone Hotel starts tomorrow, Thursday, January 23. Installations by A0 (ALSO Collective + Mason Studio) and EYES ON DESIGN are my top picks to see.

To finish the week off, Interior Design Show (IDS) will be open to the public this weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The two talks I will be attending are on Saturday, January 25. The first one with Sami Ruotsalainen of Marimekko and Andrew Sardone from the Globe and Mail at 12 p.m. The second is with Rafael de Cardenas from New York-based firm Architecture at Large in conversation with the Globe and Mail’s Style Editor Amy Verner at 4 p.m.

So, how’s your design week looking? Just grab some water, cash, your iPhone and you’re good to go.

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Finally Frida!

The Art Gallery of Toronto is bringing Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to Canada for the first time in an exhibit called ‘Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting.’ This event has been on my iCalendar since it was announced so ‘anticipation’ would be the word that first comes to mind.

I will be at the Members’ Preview so please watch this space.

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Signs vs. symbols

It’s elementary semiotics: signs are universally acknowledged whereas symbols are more personal, societal. Feel free to use any adjective denoting subjectivity.

Graphic design is the practice of perpetually crafting symbols to represent a business, company, association or product. The eventuality that the symbol becomes a universal sign is circumstance, luck and above all, good design. It is the combination of all three that comprises the recipe for graphic design immortality and one example comes to mind: Milton Glaser.

Milton Glaser is the graphic designer behind the I Heart NY graphic that can be found at all the tourist shops in New York City. The simplicity of the graphic has made it a sign that has inspired many copycats to, well, copy and reinterpret Glaser’s work with the American Typewriter typeface, my personal favourite.

The red heart on Glaser’s graphic has been adapted to a maple leaf, in the case for Toronto, the Apple sign for the Apple Store in (irony!) New York City, a clover for Ireland and the list goes on. I think collecting all of the ‘tributes’ to Milton Glaser’s clean and simple work would make for a great book, if there is not one already in print. Taschen, I called this one.

It still boggles my mind how low of a priority graphic design is for organizations, yet we admire branding that has become an everyday presence among us. (Apple, anyone? or Nike’s swoosh?) Graphic designers are the unsung heroes of commerce and individuals working in business should realize that there is more to graphic design than font size and typefaces; creativity and vision are also very important.

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On the number 12

I don’t plan on making this temporary abandonment of Urban Peanut: A Gallery a habit, mind you. A lot has happened in the last month regarding design and my involvement in the industry, which is, by the way, up to this moment, a very good circumstance.

I have to meditate on the number 12, my favourite number. My partiality towards the number might have something to do with my birthdate. It is quite an important number for the vast majority of us. Months, disciples and doughnuts come in 12s. So did exposures on a roll of 35mm film, a long time ago.

The 12th of October also is the anniversary of Columbus’ landing in he Caribbean (BTW political correctness is not the focus of this entry), the birthday of Luciano Pavarotti, and marks the launch of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979). It is  pretty important date in culture and human history.

For this year, the 12th of October, I anticipate, will also be an important day. It will be the day after Thanksgiving weekend. It will also be the day when my friends and family come together to celebrate me through song and food. An iPad is also an option. Thank you very much in advance. And dark chocolate cakes are most welcome.

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Writing with light

I wanted to share this ad for the Polaroid SX-70 camera out of nostalgia but also as a reminder of how tasteful advertising can be.

The music, colours and the fashions render the ad dated. However, the simplicity and beauty of the ad make the piece a short film worthy of re-watching, even just to relive the magical feeling when the ghost-like images appear on the iconic instant prints.

There is a lot of dialogue regarding the resurrection of Polaroid film. With the oversaturation of images around us, it feels like the cache of the Polaroid is out of fascination with analog, and not the appreciation for the process. People just enjoy contact with and the tactility of prints, like myself. I know that I am not alone.

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