Hikari Shimoda

The Possessed Children of Hikari Shimoda

Based in Nagano, Japan, Hikari Shimoda paints children in various, and sometimes dark, states of supernatural and religious possession, "a world where cuteness and horror coexist," she says.

By riffing on the anime genres of irasuto and shojo (magical girls), she comments on the alarming rate with which children are expected to grow up and "defend the world we have constructed."

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Jul 31, 2015 11:43:00

You've Got Hate Mail

Ever want to insult somebody, but do it with humor and style — and anonymity? Now you can. Tweet your insult (the shorter and more profanity-laden, the better, e.g. "Arse Face" or "Fuck You and Fuck Your Shit Legs" or "You Look Like Gaddafi in a Wig") with the object of your insult to London artist Mr. Bingo. For 50 pounds, the puckish prankster will package it into a spiffy postcard and drop it in the mail. It's like Tourette's on the go.

"All this is comedy," he says. "It’s clear that the hate mail is a joke and that I’m only sending it to people who want it." In other words, it's all in good fun; he also refrains from illustrating racist, homophobic, or disability-related insults. Plus, the receiver ends up with a piece of free art. So successful has his insult enterprise been that Mr. Bingo is now making a book via Kickstarter. The goal was crushed long ago, so if you're lucky, you'll soon be getting a book in the mail.

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Jul 30, 2015 17:07:00
Alexander Wang

Alexander Wang Out at Balenciaga

Confirming whispers earlier this month, Alexander Wang and Balenciaga are parting ways, according to WWD. For reasons unspecified, though likely related to Wang's investor search for his eponymous label, "Balenciaga and parent Kering have decided not to renew the contract of the buzzy American designer," reports the daily. Wang's spring 2016 collection in early October is expected to be his last for the storied house.

As for who'll replace Wang, it's thought Balenciaga and its parent company Kering will seek a lower-profile name from within its ranks, pleased by the results of installing Alessandro Michele at Gucci upon Frida Giannini's departure. It's anyone's guess at this point as the hunt has only just begun.

Jul 29, 2015 08:43:00
Converse Rubber Shoe Company All Star, 1917

Getting Your Sneak On

A new show at the Brooklyn Museum, The Rise of Sneaker Culture, has been getting raves, mostly for its focus on the eighties, a particularly obsessive era for sneakerheads. The most notable of these seminal sneakers, among 150 pieces in all, are the Nike Air Jordan I (1985) and Reebok Pumps (1989). A marvel, too, are the Reebok x Chanel Insta Pump Fury, the 1997 collaboration between Chanel and Reebok that ranked among the first so-called high-low joint efforts, but which was never produced beyond the runway — thus extremely rare.

History buffs, however, will gravitate toward the odd-looking vintage variety of sneaker — so odd that they hardly look like sneakers at all. For instance, the world’s oldest-known running shoes look like black lace-ups you'd see at any formal event today, except they have long metal spikes on the sole and a leather band across the top for added traction. They are, shockingly, over 150 years old. Then there's the earliest Converse All Star. At 98, it looks remarkably modern, owing to the fact that it has the kind of rubber sole still used today in almost all sneakers.

Over on the other side of the gender divide (back when few thought there could be more than two), a pair of high-heeled ladies sneakers from 1925 were apparently an attempt to allow women to engage in sporting activities, as was their wont at the time, while not losing their femininity. Thus the compromise was born, but in the context of today, they look more comical than anything else.

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Jul 27, 2015 17:53:00
Marco Battaglini

Art History Through a Modern Lens

Marco Battaglini pastiches together bits of Renaissance art with graffiti and other elements of modern pop — not unlike the divine versus the vulgar — in his digital paintings. By mashing together opposing visual traditions, the Italian artist (living in Costa Rica) challenges the viewer to contemplate a variety of topics: cultural democratization, the evolution of knowledge and information, and what he calls our 'patchwork culture.'

But just because he applies tattoos and brand logos to famously porcelain skin, don't go thinking these are schlocky items of throwaway kitsch. A single piece from the artist, among the elite stable at Saatchi, costs upwards of $20k.

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Jul 20, 2015 19:23:00
Sandro Giordano

Falling Down for Art's Sake

Breaking Instagram one satirical image at a time, Italian photographer Sandro Giordano builds elaborate setups involving people falling down and their stuff flying everywhere. For his 'In Extremis (Bodies With No Regret)' series, he recruits live models to pose for hours on end while he arranges the fallout of their falldown all around. That's it. That's his thing. And why not? Epic faceplants are funny, they just are.

The idea for the ongoing series came from two recent incidents. The first happened when a friend broke his leg while trying to prevent his phone from falling in the sea, while the second was a spill of his own, a bike mishap during which he instinctively held onto the things he was carrying rather than protect himself from bodily harm.

But he's quick to point out that his staged tumbled, entertaining though they are, come with cautionary tales. "My photographs are short stories about a falling-down world," he says, not denying the schadenfreude appeal. "Each shot tells of worn-out characters who, as if a sudden black-out of mind and body took over, let themselves crash with no attempt to save themselves because of fatigue. They reach their limit beyond which their false self cannot go."

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Jul 18, 2015 17:27:00

Shallow Not Stupid

I'm more into bracelets at Tiffany's than breakfasts. Holly Golightly can keep that croissant. Of course, in real life the Audrey Hepburn diet was a boiled egg, two bits of toast, and a martini a day to keep the fat police away. And don't go spoiling it by adding a 29-calorie olive when a citrus twist is easier on the eye as well as the waistline.

Hepburn, the face that launched a million haircuts, is immortalized in dead-glamorous stills by Angus McBean, Richard Avedon, and Irving Penn, among other iconic photographers, which can currently be seen in Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon at the National Portrait Gallery in London (through October 18, 2015).

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Jul 13, 2015 13:34:00
Caravaggio's Bacchus

Think You Know Old Masterworks? Look Again

Suddenly fat cats are everywhere. They're hissing at the have-nots, kneading dubious trade deals, and clawing democratic governments to their will.

A much cuter fat cat, however, is causing pandemonium of another kind. His name is Zarathustra and he features prominently — or rather, he steals the show! — in the 'fat cat' art of Russian artist Svetlana Petrova, who lovingly integrates the orange furball into old masterworks through extensive digital manipulation.

Just look at the results. Zarathustra gets a big wet one in Klimt's The Kiss; leads the people in Delacroix's 1830 depiction of the French Revolution; melts alongside clocks in Dalís The Persistence of Memory; and, oh look, Caravaggio's Bacchus has a fellow reveler.

If there is a better application of the Digital Age, we can't think of it.

Visit Fat Cat Art

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Jul 11, 2015 10:11:00
Jessica Harrison

Haute Carnage by Jessica Harrison

In the wake of another round of couture shows, in all its glory and gore, we take a look at the macabre art of Jessica Harrison. The English-born, Scottish-schooled artist takes found porcelain dolls and alters them in ghastly ways, painting on blood splatters and adding internal organs to the exterior. One figurine looks as if she's plunged her hand into her chest and pulled out her own heart as a kind of sacrifice. Also lots of severed heads.

Harrison views the skin as the place where self and world mingle; we're just calling it haute carnage...

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Jul 10, 2015 09:19:00

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