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Homoerotic Art Goes Postal

Homoerotic Art Goes Postal Itella

Finland Postal Service introduces new stamps.

Finland’s postal service is celebrating homoerotic art. Their most recent commemorative stamp design will present a bevy of barely dressed and leather-clad muscle men based on 33 different works by the Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, commonly known as Tom of Finland. “The sheet (of stamps) portrays a sensual life force and being proud of oneself,” graphic designer Tim Berry, who helped select the images, said. Laaksonen’s portrayal of gay sex and relationships has been unabashedly celebrated in the gay community and art world. The stamp’s debut will coincide with a solo exhibition of Laaksonen’s work, Sealed with a Secret: Correspondence of Tom of Finland, at Finland’s Postal Museum. 

Read it at Washington Post

Cut-Outs

Matisse: Innovator Until the End

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Leon Neal/Getty

Many artists wind down in their twilight years, but not Matisse. He was not only prolific, but also created an entirely new art form with his vivid, cut-out paper works.

Surrounded on all sides by the joyful sweep and thrilling colors of some of Henri Matisse’s greatest work, it is impossible to miss the surge of excitement that coursed through the artist in his 70s and ensured that his final years became some of his most prolific and ambitious.

Suffering from terrible arthritis, wheelchair-bound, and often confined to the studio where he worked and slept, Matisse eschewed paintbrushes, which he found increasingly difficult to use, and created a new medium that allowed him to stretch his love of composition and color further than ever before.

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, which opens at Tate Modern in London on Thursday, is a glorious and unprecedented study of his final decade. The project, created jointly by Tate and MoMA, is the largest-ever collection of the artist’s paper cut-out work, including all four iconic “Blue Nudes.” It is scheduled to open in New York in mid-October.

Matisse’s finest cut-outs are reunited in chronological order, sometimes for the first time since he created them, giving you the sense of stepping into the studio where he worked. He often made the compositions by pinning the pieces of paper he had cut directly onto the walls around him. In one room of the exhibition, his vivid, life-size plan for the Vence Chapel includes the outline of the door to his studio.

SELFIE

The Original Selfies

Rembrandt and Kim Kardashian have something in common: Both showed off in images they created of themselves. A new book reveals the self-portrait’s fascinating and revealing history.

As history would have it, we all have a little Kim Kardashian in us—even masters like Velasquez. While the famed Spanish artist behind Las Meninas may not have been posting pictures of his rotund derriere on Instagram, he, along with many other well-known artists, were driven to create and disseminate portraits of themselves.

While we may never know why Kardashian does it, knowing why artists like Rembrandt and Courbet did so is at the heart of art historian James Hall’s book, The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History.

The Self-Portrait by James Hall

Self-portraits today are consumed by general audiences often with the cult of the artist in mind—that they are a window into a true genius or tormented soul, à la Munch or Van Gogh, as well as promotional. 

gallery

The Beauty of The ’Burbs

Scene Shift

Kabul's Major Motion Picture

Cinemas in Afghanistan were shuttered under the Taliban. But now audiences, all-male, flock to them to watch the latest Bollywood movies. Photographer Jonathan Saruk captured the buildings and their patrons.

When the Taliban took over Kabul in 1996, all forms of movies, television, and videos were outlawed, along with many other things, for everyone. Theaters were quickly abandoned, left to decay and sometimes destroyed. When the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, they did more than just liberate the country from the Taliban’s rule. The country's cinemas also reopened.

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Jonathan Saruk/Reportage by Getty Images

In 2009, while photographing the Mr. Afghanistan body building competition at the Old Cinema Park in Kabul, 34-year old photographer Jonathan Saruk took note of the building hosting it. “It was really dark and really gritty and had a lot of character,” Saruk told The Daily Beast. “I became curious to see what it was like as a functioning movie theater.”

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Best Dive Sites in North America

Deutsche Börse Finalist

War in Technicolor

Using a type of film popular during WWII, Richard Mosse photographs the brutality of the drawn-out conflict in the DRC in vibrant color, hoping to catch the world's attention.

Armed and incredibly dangerous, soldiers from the deadly Congolese M23 militia stare into the camera lens surrounded by lush sub-Saharan jungle that is glowing bright pink. The extraordinary, unedited images were created using some of the last surviving rolls of Second World War era infrared surveillance film.

Richard Mosse

(c) Richard Mosse; Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery

They were taken in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo by Richard Mosse, an Irish photographer who bought up Kodak’s last supplies of the film so that he could capture the invisible.

The film, which shows infrared light, was produced in conjunction with the U.S. military to help spot camouflaged enemy combatants from spy planes that have flown above battlefields all over the world since the 1940s. Mosse’s stunning use of the now-obsolete technology has landed him on an international four-person shortlist for the prestigious Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.

Freedom of Speech

Artists vs. the Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao Censors Paul McCarthy and Mike Bouchet Collaboration

Camilo Brau

The Guggenheim Bilbao has ordered a mural that caricatures the museum to be taken down, but the artists are arguing the artwork's removal would violate their freedom of speech.

Could a respected museum be violating artists’ freedom of speech in Spain? The Guggenheim Bilbao ordered a mural created by artists Mike Bouchet and Paul McCarthy that depicts the museum with hand-drawn sketches reinterpreting it as a battleship to be taken down. The mural coincides with an exhibition by the artists, titled “Powered A-Hole Spanish Donkey Sport Dick Drink Donkey Dong Dongs Sunscreen Model,”  at the contemporary art space Portikus in Frankfurt that criticizes art institutions as, according to a press release, “self-serving mechanisms for their board members.”

“What’s the purpose of these museums?” pondered Bouchet in a recent phone conversation. “The purpose of museums like this probably have more to do with city tourism than with art.”

Bouchet and McCarthy worked with a Spanish media company that sells billboard space throughout Bilbao in order to place the large-scale piece, which has hung since April 2, on 31 Gran Via, also home to a Massimo Dutti retail shop.

The artists first conceptualized the piece in the early 2000s, when they likened the Guggenheim Bilbao’s Frank Gehry-designed building to a battleship. “We were amazed that we hadn’t seen it come up before in popular media,” Bouchet said. “I think the fact that they reacted so strongly, that they were not interested in any sort of artistic interpretation of their museum… It’s hard for me to say what their motivation is, other than that image of the museum as a battleship, there must be some sensitivity to that particular image because it happens to look like it so much.” Bouchet went on to explain that the Guggenheim Bilbao said that they own all the rights to any reproduction of the museum.

Art Mysteries

Lost Masterpieces Found in Kitchen

A retired Italian autoworker unwittingly bought two stolen art masterpieces worth millions for $32 and kept them on his kitchen wall for nearly 40 years.

It was just after sunrise on a June morning in 1975, when “Nicolo,” whose real name cannot be revealed because of Italy’s privacy laws, finished working the night shift on the assembly line at the FIAT auto factory in Turin.  As he often did, he stopped by the “after work auction” run by the Italian state police where items found on the trains were sold to the highest bidder.  There, among the watches, radios and lost coats, Nicolo spotted two paintings he thought would look nice above his dining room table. The auctioneer told him they were just “garbage” found on a midnight train from Paris to Turin, and started the bidding at 50,000 lire ($35). Nicolo loved art, but he only made 200,000 lire or $143 a month and he couldn’t justify spending a quarter of his monthly salary, so he bid 30,000 lire ($20) for the two. He and another bidder battled until Nicolo finally won the paintings for 45,000 lire—around $32.  He took them home and hung them on his wall. “I have a photo album of my most fond memories: the kids’ birthdays, anniversaries, parties, Christmas lunches,” he told La Repubblica newspaper.  “In the background there were always the two paintings.”

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Andreas Solar/AFP/Getty

When Nicolo retired and moved home to Siracusa, Sicily, he brought the paintings with him. This time, he hung them in his kitchen above the same table he had moved from Turin.  His son, age 15, who had taken an art appreciation class, thought there was something peculiar about the one with a young girl sitting on a garden chair.  It was signed “Bonnato” or so he thought, but when he researched it, he only found “Bonnard,” a French painter he had never heard of.  He bought a book and was surprised to find a picture of the artist Pierre Bonnard sitting on the same chairs in the same garden as the painting that hung on his father’s wall.

“That’s the garden in our picture,” Nicolo said his son told him.  They eventually learned that the painting they owned was called “The Girl With Two Chairs.”  They studied the other painting, which was unsigned, and learned that it was actually Paul Gauguin’s “Still Life of Fruit on A Table With A Small Dog.”  The family called a special art theft squad with the Italian Culture ministry, which deals with counterfeit and stolen art; the official verified that the canvases were originals and worth as much as $50 million.

Beautiful Places

A Case of Home Envy

OMG, I Want This House

OMG, I Want This House

Seen from the street, this two-story home seems to be yet another suburban house. But on the inside, it's a wonderland of lush gardens, quirky design elements, and bright, airy spaces.

Haute Hampton

OMG, I Want this House

South African Paradise

OMG, I Want This House

Life On the Edge

They Did What?!

Jumping for Freedom

Jumping for Freedom

The authorities are charging the men who parachuted from One World Trade Center. But we should be celebrating them.

Iditarod

Jamaica's Amazing Dogsled Team

Unsanctioned

A Most Illegal Adventure

Foodie Paradise

Belly of the Beast

Spain’s Vegetable Whisperer

Spain’s Vegetable Whisperer

Michelin-starred Spanish chef Rodrigo de la Calle is having a whole lot of fun playing with his food…and he’ll leave no plant untried in the process

Pit Stop

A South Carolina Oyster Shack

Eataly

A Disneyland for Foodies

Kozue

Rehabbing Fukushima’s Food Scene

Drink Up

Paris’s Beer Revolution

Mirror Image

Doppelgängers Do Exist

These People Are Strangers

These People Are Strangers

On a whim, François Brunelle began taking photos of complete strangers who look eerily similar. Over 200 images later, he is going strong all over the world.

Globetrotter

Lush Places

The Scotland of India

The Scotland of India

India has become known for the congested traffic and crowds of the cities. To escape the madness, Indians head to Coorg, a land of lush beauty, traditional food, and—sigh—tranquility.

Antigua

Lush Places: Guatemala's Best City

Island Time

No Shirt, No Shoes ...

Day at the Museum

Art to See Right Now

Bill Cunningham’s Tales of Old NYC

Bill Cunningham’s Tales of Old NYC

Bill Cunningham is known for his photographs of New York’s striking and fashionable residents. A 1968 project placed architecture squarely in the center of the frame too.

Hell Raiders

Every Viking ‘Fact’ Is Wrong

AMERICAN GREAT

Jasper Johns is Back to Work

Nexcite

Sexually-Charged Napalm Art

COLOR SPLASH

Capa in Color

Imbibing

Argentina Bar Crawl

The Absinthe-Minded Buenos Aires

The Absinthe-Minded Buenos Aires

A scattered group of absinthe lovers are beginning to come together in the Paris of South America to make and drink the green fairy. There’s only one problem—it’s largely illegal.

Kigurumi

Laurie Simmons's New Show

A Dunham Doll’s Life

A Dunham Doll’s Life

Artist Laurie Simmons explores the freedom that comes with dressing up like someone entirely different—a doll—in a new exhibit based on the Japanese practice of Kigurumi.

Crazy Places

What a World

Sacrificial Limbs of New Orleans

Sacrificial Limbs of New Orleans

The devout have been making pilgrimages to one historic chapel for over a century, bringing strange offerings like organ replicas, glass eyes, and prosthetics as a prayer for recovery.

What a World

India’s Skeleton Lake

What a World

The Island Ruled by Cats

What a World

Africa's Epic Empty Megachurch

What a World

Arrows Across America

Great Escapes