• Danny Evans/Planet Hiltron

    Make-Under

    Artist Gives Lohan the ‘Natural’ Look

    One artist has decided to combat the plague of Photoshopped celebrity looks by going in the oppose direction—depicting our favorite stars as if they looked more like us.

    These days, Photoshop is almost synonymous with celebrity. Nearly every magazine and advertisement sharpens, brightens, smoothes, and slims the famous figures that grace their glossy covers and mega-sized billboards. The problem has gotten so bad that there’s even a bill before Congress to stem the flow of fake photos. But what happens when you do the opposite? Artist Danny Evans decided to explore that through a series of photos that made celebrities more like the rest of us…sans makeup, perfectly styled hair, and airbrushed skin. 

    In 2006, when Paris Hilton was at the pinnacle of pop culture, Evans “was getting frustrated with seeing all of these over-Photoshopped images of celebrities,” he told The Daily Beast. He wasn’t the only one to notice their widespread presence. 

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  • Marni Kotak, “All The Meds I Took”, 2014, ornate mirrored glass and wood medicine cabinet, custom-printed prescription vials (all of the meds taken by the artist since her stay at Beth Israel Hospital in February 2012), 15 x 24 x 4” (© Marni Kotak, 2014)

    HEAD ACHE

    Brooklynite Goes Off Her Meds—for Art

    Performance artist Marni Kotak is weaning herself off a cocktail of antidepressants and anti-psychotic drugs in a Brooklyn gallery. Could you call it art?

    Marni Kotak sits on a gold-painted twin bed, wearing a gold satin nightgown, with matching bedsheets covering her legs. She’s scribbling in gold ink on a cartoonishly large notepad, an expanding list of the day’s emotional fluctuations. It’s a small room, littered with gold-painted everything: chairs, desk, exercise machine, dumbbells.

    It isn’t Kotak’s apartment, but the microscopic Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn, where I have come to see Mad Meds, during which the 39-year-old performance artist will document her “personal struggles with her own mind, the US medical system, and the pharmaceutical industry as she attempts to withdraw from psychiatric medicines.”

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  • via Instagram

    MODERN MASTER

    Feeding Diddy’s Art Addiction

    Before he met Maria Brito, Diddy didn’t own any art. Brito took the musician to Art Basel Miami Beach, and a distinctively curated collection was born.

    What’s it like shopping for art with Diddy?

    Just ask Maria Brito, his (and other celebrities') personal art buyer, who has helped the musician build an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art. She even introduced him to Art Basel Miami Beach, the annual art fair turned celebrity hot spot that occurs the first weekend in December. “I don’t want to take credit for bringing him into the art world,” Brito told The Daily Beast, “but before me he didn’t really have any art.”

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  • Mike Denison

    CHEESECAKE

    The Art of Being Bea Arthur

    The artist Mike Denison has set himself a challenge: to draw one picture a day for an entire year of his heroine Bea Arthur.

    When we speak, the artist Mike Denison is 308 Bea Arthurs down, with 57 to go. A fan of The Golden Girls and Arthur in particular, Denison is drawing the actress, one sketch a day for an entire year. “Bea a Day,” as he calls it, is the kind of strange-sounding thing Rose might announce at the kitchen table, as part of her interminable St. Olaf stories, leading Dorothy to gnaw at her wrist, or scream, begging for mercy, “Rose!”

    Denison e-mails me a collection of his favorite sketches. In a riff on E.T., “B.T.” sees Dorothy taking her mother, Sophia, on the famous bicycle ride across the front of the face of the moon Elliott and his alien buddy did, the sweetness of the image undercut by Dorothy’s familiar menacing threat to return her mother to her much-hated retirement home: “Shady Pines, Ma.” “Happy Little Beas” is a spin-off of TV artist Bob Ross’ delight in painting some “happy little trees.”

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  • Christine McConnell

    Horribly Good

    The Queen of Creepy Cookies

    For next to no money, the photographer Christine McConnell makes cakes and cookies that are their own miniature horror movies. She’s Tim Burton—with a cake whisk.

    It must be fun being neighbors with Christine McConnell in South Pasadena, Los Angeles. You might open your kitchen blinds one morning and find the 32-year-old photographer outside with what looks like a terrifying creature attached to her face. Or she may be dressed up as a Stepford Wife, with lustrous, big hair and tight dress, or as a ’40s movie star reveling in her own film noir. Or even going on what looks like a summery date with…oh dear, a guy in a mask who looks like Jason from Friday the 13th. Oh, and now the date is over and McConnell is wandering off with Jason’s head. His body, slumped, ends in a bloody stump at his neck.

    But as a neighbor, you may not be too surprised by these dramatic scenes, because more than likely you also will have had McConnell knocking at your door to offer her delicious, if disturbingly designed, baked confections. Neighbor or not, there really isn’t much more one can do when confronted by Christine McConnell’s fantastical, astonishing cakes and cookies than stare in wonder and merriment. And that’s before you get to the amazing re-creation of scenes from movies like Ghostbusters.

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  • Lee Price

    Anti-‘Food-Shaming’

    An Artist Paints Women Eating

    Many women have a complicated relationship with food, a situation artist Lee Price knows well. In her new series of work, Price explores emotional eating using herself as her subject.

    New York-based portrait artist Lee Price is fascinated with the relationship between women and food. In a series that has taken over seven years to produce, Price features herself as the subject (with the exception of two images, one with her mother, one with a friend) gorging on bags of Cheetos, boxes of sweets, and pints of ice cream in very solitary, almost obscure locations including one’s bed or bathroom (think Lena Dunham eating a cupcake in the bathtub a la Girls season two). Unlike Dunham’s performance, however, Price’s paintings are neither derived from nor aimed at producing humor. They’re based on very real eating disorders (which Price herself has suffered from in the past), and explore the obsession—and sometimes compulsive relationship—many women have with food.

    When did you start working on this series of women and food?

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  • Zandarin and Allen/REX USA

    Wedding Bells

    Here Comes the Bride…In Princess Pink

    Unconventional brides often choose not to wear white as a rebellion against tradition. But news flash: colorful wedding gowns have been around for centuries. A new exhibit looks at the trend.

    In 2005, Dita von Teese wore a loud purple, Vivienne Westwood Birds of Paradise gown at her wedding to Marilyn Manson. While it seemed appropriate for the affair—it looked like something Marie Antoinette on acid would wear, after all—it turns out it wasn’t the first time color had been boldly used for a wedding gown.

    According to a new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, color has long been a part of the wedding dress scene. For “Wedding Dresses 1775 - 2014,” Edwina Ehrman, the curator of textiles and fashion at the V&A, set out to show that white has not always been the color of choice (which makes my mum very fashion forward; she got married in a red dress, fur coat, and black knee-high boots in the 1970s in London).

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  • Thomas C. Card

    ‘Kawaii’

    The Cute Streets of Tokyo

    During the day, these women hold corporate jobs. But on their off hours, they embrace 'kawaii,' the trend of dressing in a cute, almost child-like style, to flaunt individuality.

    On the back cover of photographer Thomas Card’s new book, Tokyo Adorned (Abrams, March 2014), a young girl with a light pink-and-blue hairstyle wears a brightly colored floral frock accessorized with a pink, patent leather watering can. “Kumamiki was one of the [first] girls who came to have her portrait done,” Card says in his Chelsea art studio, “This is what [she] wears on a day-to-day basis around the streets.”

    Kumamiki is just one of the nearly sixty individuals Card photographed for his series examining kawaii—or “cute”—style in Tokyo, one of the many trends that is exploring the complex ideas of identity and self-expression in the Japanese capital. Card’s fascination with the eccentric Japanese culture began roughly ten years ago after reading an article in The New York Times that highlighted a “crazy eye make-up phase” happening in the club scene throughout Asia. “The Ganguro were doing very extreme eye make-up,” he explains. “I thought it was just incredible, the variety and the creativity that went into these different looks. So I wanted to do a beauty story that looked at these girls before they went into the club and at the end of the night, so you could see the progression along the way. There is always this huge difference between the way you see yourself and they way it manifests in the physical world.”

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  • Donato Sardella/Getty

    Silent Collaborators

    Art World: Wives Don't Count

    The Grand Palais's Bill Viola retrospective has one glaring omission: recognition of his wife’s substantial contributions to his work. It’s 2014—why are women still overlooked in the art world?

    Bill Viola, celebrated as a pioneering video art innovator, is the subject of a 40-year career retrospective, called simply “Bill Viola,” that just opened to great fanfare at Paris’s prestigious Grand Palais. “Bill Viola in 2014 is like Picasso in 1966,” says Grand Palais curator Jérôme Neutres, citing the year a Grand Palais exhibition made Picasso a household name. A review in France’s Le Nouvel Observateur calls Viola a “master” and his work “spectacular.”

    Yet, Viola, 63, isn’t the sole author of his own works—he is but one member of a team led by his wife Kira Perov, Executive Director of the Bill Viola Studio, that produces the works credited to him. As The New York Times reported on March 11, “[Viola] has the visions, [Perov] helps realize them, along with a small technical team.”

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  • Laurie Simmons

    Masked

    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.

    It was the discovery of Hatsune Miku, a fictional Japanese pop star whose voice stems from a Vocaloid, a singing voice synthesizer, during a trip to Japan last year that was the starting point for the latest body of work by artist Laurie Simmons. Over the course of researching the phenomenon, Simmons stumbled upon the bizarre world of Japanese cosplay. “We just went down this rabbit hole of people who dress up and fetishes, and the girls that surgically enhance themselves to look like dolls,” says Simmons.

    Simmons, whose daughter is actress Lena Dunham, finally found a cosplayer from Russia who makes giant masks of cute, anime-eyed women for Kigurumi, a subset of cosplay that involves costumed performers who dress as dolls or animals. “We don’t know who he is or what he is, but we ordered the masks, we customized them, and we just crossed our fingers and hoped they would arrive in the mail,” says Simmons, whose large scale photographs of costumed models wearing the masks are the focus of her latest exhibition, Kigurumi, Dollers and How We See, which runs through April 28 at Salon 94 Bowery in New York.

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  • Whitney Houston performs onstage at the 2009 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty)

    Inspiration

    The Whitney Houston Biennial

    Challenging what they see as the sexism of the Whitney Biennale, a group of female artists come together under the banner of a pop diva.

    After her death, Whitney Houston was described, rightly for such an over-used word, as an icon. And now she becomes one for female visual artists.

    The Whitney Houston Biennial: I’m Every Woman opens for one night only on Sunday in what curator Christine Finley describes as “a feast for the eyes.” “The idea started two months ago,” Finley told The Daily Beast, “and has quickly turned into a fantastic show of both established and emerging artists.”

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  • © Carrie Mae Weems; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

    Carrie Mae Weems

    Beyond Black and White

    For thirty years, Carrie Mae Weems has made the art world confront issues of race, class, and gender. A new retrospective at the Guggenheim looks back at her thought-provoking work.

    Artist Carrie Mae Weems knows how to get the art world to pay attention to race, class, and gender. Her thought-provoking work intelligently depicts racial stereotypes and uses appropriated portraits of slaves to get her point across. Although she won a prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Grant Fellowship last year and her work is the subject of a current retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Weems wasn’t always sure of her purpose in life.

    Photos: Carrie Mae Weems Retrospective

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