Art in the Age of Van Gogh

Art in the Age of Van Gogh

The King of Prussia Mall was empty of shoppers on Thursday morning, quiet at opening time, the corridors of the iconic indoor shopping center are being refurbished, high-end logos on fancy facades line the cement paths that connect the big brand luxury stores, the scraped paint, plastic sheeting, and scuffed floor lent a dystopian Blade Runner vibe to the consumer-age hyper space. The bubble of public space outside of Lord and Taylor’s department store, an atrium, there is a pop up shop presented by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, a multimedia experience in a self-contained installation about, ostensibly, the greatest art of a favorite artist, Vincent Van Gogh. Creating a moment of museum-like time for mall walkers, with all the meta-magical memes attached to the artist’s name, and the simulacra experience of getting up close and personal with a real Van Gogh painting is like a fever dream so out of touch with reality it’s like winning the lottery.

DoN visited the Van Gogh Museum, a transformative and pivotal art and life lesson, the pop up shop is an exciting edu-tainment escape from the disappointingly drab consumerist landscape, with sleek colorful moody modern modules devoted to ‘famous’ artworks throughout eras of Vincent’s life with unrealistic intimacy and fantasy. Fashioning a futuristic attraction, contained in a full sensory surround installation, grasping the past, inducing  glamorous desires of owning a piece of greatness, through the suspension of disbelief, a Summer blockbuster about the famous art star Vincent Van Gogh. Through mechanical reproduction the gap in actual reality between authentic and authenticated is bridged with some wobbly architecture; Philadelphia has some great Van Gogh paintings that are easily accessible for study, you’re just not allowed to touch them, or take them home, you’re allowed to stay as long as you want, and looking at fine art is essential to living metropolitan life fully.

I told my pal Al, a friendly neighbor, about the Van Gogh pop up shop at the mall and he became very excited and declared, “I have two Van Goghs! And a Klimt. I love them.” DoN pointedly pointed out that reproductions, no matter how excellent, are not the same as the real thing! Al tried to mask his annoyance at DoN’s obvious corporeal differentiation of an art object and art: the elitist tangle of authenticity and provenance, false equivalencies, the eternal struggle of living artists, the branding of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, consumerist ideals pressed on creative content, and how to act in a museum setting for those with social anxiety about taste in art. Fully satisfied by his own artistic decisions and a teensy bit of distain for my snooty scholarliness, Al stated with defiant determination, “I like the colors.”

Art in the Age of Van Gogh

Aubrie Costello, Stay, Silk, chiffon, dressmaker pins, thread, 12” x 17”, 2017

Thursday evening was the reception party for Decorous, an art show curated by Amie Potsic Art Advisory at Space and Co., an installation of original artwork by three of her favorite artists in an amazing space, a fantastical set of rooms that are real, permanent, sturdy and highly decorative ornate meeting rooms. I appreciate how lucky I am to walk down 22nd Street to Walnut, the architecture and gardens, galleries and restaurants, homes and cars, feels urbane, being a part of this community is empowering and inspiring. There is a sense of history, of narrative and development of ideas in the view from the meeting rooms and the art guides the eye to linger on color and composition.

Large masterful casien monoprint photographs by Donald E. Camp shimmer with silvery reflected light, fabric and text, textile and tactile, fiber art by Aubrie Costello, and a fine selection of paintings, the colorfulness a perfect foil to the bold moulding, with luscious moments of contemplative carpenter artistry as the setting. The crowd included Philadelphia art influencers and entrepreneurs, artists, enthusiasts, academics, scholars, heady conversation about urban life, society and art filled the rooms noisily with conversation and laughter. Amie connects people with art, a Philly maven with a worldly reach and comprehensive experience in bringing art to life, and connects art to people.

Art is color; DoN has been drawing with Koh-i-noor multicolor pencils, filling a sketch book with drawings that have random color in the lines, figure studies and portraits, croquis and long poses, produced in workshops at The Plastic Club and The Philadelphia Sketch Club. But, Sunday, due to weather, Landscape Painters Philadelphia went indoors to draw. Did you know you can sketch and draw at Rodin Museum? We stayed about three hours and finally filled the last five pages of the sketchbook. It was really satisfying to see museum visitors access the sketchbooks and pencils the museum provides, they allowed us to bring in our own drawing supplies and let us make ourselves comfortable. The models are great! Our painting group has been meeting at the Tiberino Museum to paint figure in landscape plein air, Rodin’s activated poses are complex. Did you know The Kiss is a copy?

Art in the age of Van Gogh is a unique intersection in time between creativity, design and production, promotion, narrative, and story telling, and exquisite installation into the social landscape with a knowledgable society that has favorites and stars. Unlike the intersection in time of invention, the Industrial Revolution, coinciding with and influencing the Impressionists painters, like photography, film and mass production, in the early 20th century, now, in the early 21st century, the Information Age, we can have virtually anything imaginable and decide for ourselves if it’s real or not.

Art in the Age of Van Gogh

Pencil drawing by DoN

Link to Van Gogh Museum Pop Up Tour

Link to Decorous press release.

by DoN Brewer

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