Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture

Rob Pruitt has made his mark as an iconoclastic creator of unusual installations and performances. A 1998 exhibition was titled "Cocaine Buffet". Another time he held a book signing at which his only clothing was a teddy bear on his lap. In 2011 he installed a public statue of Andy Warhol in Union Square with this comment: "as an alternative version of the Statue of Liberty that would welcome all the freaks and misfits (in which I include myself)." This site offers you a 360 degree of the artist at work. Pruitt currently has a show called "The Obama Paintings", which he painted every day since Obama became President. On view at Gavin Brown's Enterprise in New York City, it joins other interesting artists at their gallery.

If you are an artist, you know that the art world is schizophrenic: there are the New York and London auction houses, and there is the world that the rest of us occupy. In New York, for example, last week saw $1 billion in art auctioned off. Bloomberg claims that this result represents a 49% drop from last year. I would not waste your time with these numbers, except that the auctions included some sparkling works which are worth seeing. (Simply scroll down the page: you won't have to lister to the PR in the slide show.)

A site called Artificial Intelligence Experiments with Google lets you play with some effects of machine learning. In each case, simply hover your mouse over the image and see what happens. You can also click on each image and learn more about how the projects were created.

John Baldessari was not only a gifted conceptual artist, but also an inspiring teacher during his days at the CalArts campus in Valencia, California. In addition to some of Baldessari's assignments for students in his studio art class, this site also offers you free online educational resources, like free language classes, free films, free eBooks, etc.

As Howard Hodgkin celebrates his 80th birthday, he is being described as "the last great English romantic painter". Hodgkin is currently being shown in at least two locations: one at the Alan Cristea Gallery in London; the other at Gagosian Gallery in New York City. He recalls running away from several schools as a child, because he wanted to be an artist and no one would listen. You can see more of his work at a site called "Too much is enough" and still more under the heading "I felt like an outcast in the art world".

"A Little House in a Big Wood" is the title of an article about J. B. Blunk, a craftsman who built his home by hand in the Marin woods. A multi-disciplinary artist, Blunk is best known for his chainsaw-carved wooden furniture and abstract sculpture. The house was built from found materials and includes a garden where he grew his own food. Many of his furniture pieces were carved from huge chunks of redwood and collected by his California fans. A showing of his ceramics is currently at Blum & Poe in Tokyo, with an exhibition scheduled at the Oakland Museum in 2018.

Distressed by the noisy politics in the U.S., you might find this music video by Metallica the perfect reflection of the world around you. From the album "Hardwired...To Self-Destruct", the single is titled Moth Into Flame and is certainly high-energy music and performance.

If you have any doubts about the power of a Richard Serra sculpture, they should be dispelled by this massive piece titled NJ-2. Even in a small reproduction, the immensity and emotional punch of this work are hard to escape. Made of weatherproof steel, its imposing reddish bulk projects itself on to you, at once huge and sensuous.

The Los Angeles Times is describing John McLaughlin as "possibly the most important postwar artist you don't know". The L. A. County Museum of Art is showing McLaughlin's geometric abstract paintings. It has taken 40 years after the artist's death for a major show to be mounted, but you can feel the exquisite sensitivity of these works. They seem to invite you into a deep Zen center of thought, spread out over six galleries at LACMA.

Anselm Kiefer has asked that a show of 87 of his pieces scheduled for exhibition in China be cancelled. The artist is protesting that he was not invited to participate in the preparation and planning of the exhibit and that it is being done without his permission. Kiefer says that he is hoping to show his work in China but only with his active participation. Contrary to the publicity, Kiefer maintains that he has not endorsed the show and asks that it immediately be cancelled.

The Cleveland Museum of Art has mounted a show of Kara Walker's new work, titled The Ecstasy of St. Kara. You will remember Walker as one of the youngest winners of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation genius grant, with her black cut-outs commenting on contemporary civil injustices. This new show seems much darker and more profoundly disturbed by what is happening to blacks in America: her accompanying comments indicate that the rash of killings of young black men may well be a metaphor for a desire to kill Barack Obama. Although Walker's outlook is increasingly negative, there is no doubting the power and courage of her art.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2016