My Wall Art

I'm not a particularly decorative person, but I do enjoy having things on the walls of my living-space, to look at. I've spent a pretty good deal of time trying to decide just what kind of thing I wanted to have up there. For a long time, it was just kind of, "well, I found this, and it was cheap" decor, and it was OK, but as I mature I find that I want more than just a random smattering of pictures, artworks and doodads.

After a lot of thought, I've come to the conclusion that the kind of art that I want to have around can be summed up by one rule: If you look at the piece and aren't sure if it's hung upside-down or not, then, it's the kind of thing that I like. It's not that I don't enjoy more classical or representational art -- I'm just as awed at the perfection of the Mona Lisa or the quiet grandeur of a Winslow Homer seascape as anybody else. But when it comes to putting things in the place where I spend so much of my time, I want something that I can constantly rëexamine. Something that I can see a new thing in every time I look at it, for years. Something that I can turn upside-down.

What follows is just a collection of snapshots of the art that I have up in my home at the moment. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos -- I find it particularly difficult to take photos of reflective surfaces with my crappy photography abilities, especially when I'm feeling too lazy to set up the real lights, and decide to just use the flash. All of the photos inline this page are thumbnails: click on them to see full-sized versions. Also, where possible, I've made the names of the pieces be links to external sites' pictures (higher quality than mine) of the same pieces. Photos are, roughly, in the order of acquisition

Ugly Clock
Let's start off with a doozy. I bought this clock at a thrift store in Palo Alto, CA. I call it "The Ugliest Clock Known to Man". It's in the shape of a 6-pointed star, with various Aztec symbols on each of the points. The numbers and points are just gold-colored plastic glued hapahazardly to the face, and the center is an intricate yet incredibly ugly mandala-ish design. The clock hasn't worked for years; I think the mechanism is rusted internally, and anyways it doesn't have any batteries. I'd get rid of it, but I enjoy too much hanging it in the least visible place in the house, so that attentive visitors can be startled by it. Not to mention, one of these days, if I'm lucky, I might forget to take it with me when I move.
Cheap Crap
These two are very good examples of things that I just kind of have around. The bottom one is one of those cheesy old-style world maps that everybody has all over the place. My mother bought it for me at a Staples, while we were shopping for school supplies before I started my first year of college. I've had it hanging in every place I've lived since then, so I like to keep it around. The upper piece is a Monet, by the name of The Beach at Saint-Addresse, a pretty generic Monet beach painting. Similarly to the map, I bought this at K-Mart for some tiny amount of money while I was shopping for new furnishing the day after I moved into my first ever very own apartment after graduating from college. It doesn't really fit the decor (as much as I could be said to have one), but a little impressionism never hurt anybody.
Stellated Dodecahedron
I ordered this "polygon" kit from some catalog at some point. It turned out to be a box with a bunch of wooden sticks, some plastic / rubber rings, and a pushpin. Yes, a pushpin. It had some basic instructions on how to build different kinds of polyhedra from these wonderful pieces. Since they were so incredibly difficult to work with, I decided to just build the biggest, neatest shape I could, and keep it around as is. This shape pictured is a "stellated dodecahedron". That is, you build a dodecahedron (The largest perfect polyhedron, with 20 sides), and extrude each triangular face into a tetrahedron (smallest perfect polyhedron, with 4 sides). It looks pretty neat. I actually left it in the office I built it in when I quit my job at Lycos lo these many years ago, but amazingly a co-worker took it with him when he quit. 2 years later, after many adventures, it was returned to me.
Plan du Centre de Paris a Vol D'Oiseau
This piece is called Plan du Centre de Paris a Vol D'Oiseau (Map of the Center of Paris from a Bird's-Eye View), compiled by Georges Peltier. I couldn't find an online reference for it, so you will have to deal with my photo. My parents bought this while my family was living in france, in the mid-80's. Recently they've been doing an art re-work of their own, and were going to throw it out! So I drove over there (about 10 hours) and got it. This was by far the most favorite piece we had in our house when I was growing up, and there was no way I was going to let it go in the trash. Anyways, it's neat.
Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach
Now we're getting into the abstract stuff a little bit more. This is a Dali, of course, and it's titled Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach. I mostly bought it because it was small, and would hang nicely on my office wall. I've since decided I prefer it at home.
Improvisation 31
This was the first print I bought after I decided that I wanted to start getting nicer things to hang on my walls. It's Improvisation 31 by Wassily Kandinsky. I've always been a big fan of his Suprematism stuff, and while this piece doesn't have the clean lines and pure abstraction of some of his later work, I still enjoy its energy and interplay of different colors.
Clyfford Still's 1957-D is the most abstract piece that I have right now. When I bought it, I had been working from a list of abstract expressionists whose work I wanted to collect. Still wasn't on the list, nor do I have much luck finding much information on him at all. In fact, this is the only work of his that I've seen pictures of. But when I saw it, I fell in love. I love the sense of lurking, the gloom, the dripping... It's great. I just can't hang it in my bedroom.
Las Meninas
These 2 were given to me by my parents, some time later during their purge of older prints. They're both actually the same picture, in some sense. The leftmost is by Diego Velazquez and the other is Pablo Picasso. They're both called Las Meninas. The Velazquez is the original, of course, and Picasso did his own version later on. When my parents were in Spain, I think for some kind of conference, they saw Picasso's version (the original) in a museum, were taken by the clever similarity between the two paintings, and bought both prints. Now they're focused mostly on collecting original etchings and stuff like that, and so I convinced them to mail these two prints to me. I think they're keen.
Clutch Discs
My first piece of sculpture. I bought it on eBay from a guy who didn't seem to have anything else for sale -- I don't know if there are any other pieces like it, or who made it, or anything about it, really, except its name, "Clutch Discs", and that it's pretty cool. Pictures don't really do it justice, as it has a great 3-D presence and no matter what angle I shoot it from, it doesn't ever look quite as good as it does in person. Oh well.
Grey Fireworks
I can't even really describe why I like this one as I do. It's got a very kind of airy, dreamlike quality to it, but at the same time it's very real, very messy, very human. It's called Grey Fireworks, by Helen Frankenthaler, who was very heavily influenced by Pollock and the other abstract expressionists, but had a style very clearly her own. This is, at the time of this writing, the largest print I own.
Weird Silver
Another eBay metal wall hanging purchase. Again, I'm very happy with it. I don't think this piece has a title, but the seller/artist titled the auction "Small Strange Silver Wall Hanging", and so I have decided to title the piece "Weird Silver". I don't know the artist's name, or really anything else about it. It's made from thin-ish sheet metal, painted silver with blue tips, and sprayed with a kind of textured / glitter kind of finish. I don't really have much else to say about it.
Metal Clock
Yet another eBay purchase, this time a clock. It's pretty cool looking, with a very distressed/found metal look, very unfinished with welding marks all over it. The artist's name is John Knabe, but I don't think this piece has a specific title - I call it "Metal Clock". (Orignal, I know.) It's nifty.
Supremus No. 58
Kasimir Malevich was the progenitor of the "Suprematism" movement, which (exclusing all of the pseudo-philosophical bullshit which prevades most writing about abstract art), is basically the kind of thing you think of when you think of Kansinsky - abstract rectangles, circles and other geometrical forms, in different solid colors, all kind of flung together. This piece is called Supremus No. 58, and was produced at the height of his career. I like it a lot, although his work is generally more muted than Kandinsky's, whom I mostly prefer.
This is another piece of metal wallwork that I bought via eBay. Again I don't think it has a title, so I just call it "Nails". It's basically just a bunch of old fashioned square bore nails joined together with bronze annealing and then decorated with 4 copper plates. The artist's name is, I think, Tom Wilhelm, but I can't find any information about him online. Anyways, it's pretty neat.
Yet another piece of metal work via eBay. Also another without a title, so let's say... "Aluminum". On the back it has written "R. Hunt '92", but that's all I know. There's a famous sculptor from Chicago named Richard Hunt, who worked a lot in metals, but I don't think this is one of his. If it is though, that would be kinda neat. Anyways, this is a pretty cool piece - it's basically just a flat piece of aluminum which has been cut and curled into shape. I really like the lines, the sense of energy about to take flight... it's very powerful. The only is that I keep thinking I'm goin to trip, fall into it, and poke out my eye. Worth the risk I think.

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