National Gallery of Australia's Blog

Ken Tyler and Michael Crichton: a meeting of two artistic minds

Posted in Tyler Collection by National Gallery of Australia on 06/05/2010

Roy Lichtenstein. Still life with red jar. Colour screenprint, 1994.

Did you know that the late Michael Crichton, bestselling novelist and creator of hit television series ER, was also an avid art collector? Everything from Pop art to Picasso featured in his collection, much of which will go to auction next week at Christie’s New York.  

Crichton’s personal collection features some of the same prints and multiples held in the NGA’s Kenneth Tyler Printmaking Collection. It was in the LA workshops of Gemini GEL that Crichton first encountered master printer Ken Tyler at work in 1971. Crichton went on to meet Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns and many other of the prominent American artists who collaborated with Tyler. He became good friends with Johns in particular and wrote the catalogue for Johns’ 1977 retrospective at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York.  

The 1976 film Reaching out featured Ken Tyler in discussion with Crichton in the west coast studios of Tyler Graphics Ltd. Tyler spoke of the respect and admiration he had for Crichton as a fellow creative spirit:  

Ken Tyler and Jasper Johns in the Gemini GEL workshop, Los Angeles, 1971. Photographer: Malcolm Lubliner.

 Michael Crichton as a writer has been very important to me, because what he does is he investigates, and through that process he’s been able to look at some of the people that I’ve worked with, and some of what I do… [T]his has developed into a very rewarding relationship for me.  Because the frustrations in my business run somewhat like a Wall Street curve.  And there are moments when you have to trust somebody, and it can’t be your artist, it can’t be your dealers, it can’t be your close friends, it can’t be your wife, it has to be somebody who is outside of your business area, but is in another area that is very creative also.

Art online

Posted in Uncategorized by National Gallery of Australia on 29/04/2010

Emerging technologies allow a different way of looking at and into art and we want to look at some of the interesting things that are happening and to hear about your experiences of great intersections of art and technology.

We have been following the restoration of Van Gogh’s The bedroom, a different version to the one we had on display during Masterpieces, on the Van Gogh Museum’s blog, where they provide images, blog posts, video and social media to open up this traditionally inaccessible process to the public.

The innovative use of our exhibition website Ocean to Outback in 2009 used Google maps and geo-location to identify the actual landscapes that inspired the works of art. We also recently received a correction from a member of the public who had identified that a photograph by Harold Cazneaux titled Macleay Street is in fact photographed on Darlinghurst Rd.  He included the Google street maps view of Darlinghurst Rd to demonstrate that fact beautifully. How cool is that?

Google has recently acquired an application called Plink which enables a mobile phone to “identify almost any work of art just by taking a photo of it”.  This has incredible potential to improve image recognition and more discoverability when facts such as artist or title are not known. Image recognition is nothing new, look also at the offering from Idée, but as it becomes more accessible and utilised it has the potential to be a powerful tool  for both those with an unidentified image in front of them and those searching for an image with limited information, or content information – for example, ‘it is a picture of a cow’.

The possibilities are endless and we’ll continue to post interesting finds on this blog and are hoping to hear from you when you discover great applications of technology in the art world and hear about how they improve your engagement with art.

Masterpieces from the kids

Posted in Masterpieces from Paris by National Gallery of Australia on 29/04/2010

During Masterpieces from Paris the Family Activity Room – a life-sized replica of Van Gogh’s bedroom at Arles – was very popular with kids and adults alike.  Many of the self-portraits and still-lifes created here are displayed on Flickr, however if your child missed out on having their art represented we’d love to see their works of art here, as well as hear of stories of interaction and learning as kids got totally absorbed in this space.

Adieu Masterpieces from Paris

Posted in Masterpieces from Paris by National Gallery of Australia on 29/04/2010

Masterpieces from Paris has been the most successful exhibition in Australian history. Getting 476,000 people through the doors was a challenge for all involved but we have heard some great stories of inspiration and engagement with art through the comments left in the foyer, Twitter, facebook, blogs and emails.

There were people making paper pirate hats while in the queue as shelter from the sunny Canberra spring days, whiling away the time by tweeting photos of everything, including the ‘epic sausage roll’ served in the Gallery cafe.  Starry Night caused more than one person to burst into tears. A story came through on facebook about a man having a quiet word with a security guard for a moment in front of the Monets, dropping to his knees and proposing to his companion. The 36-hour opening was a success with people turning up in pyjamas,  free “I spent the night with van Gogh” badges and ABC radio broadcasting live from the Gallery.

 Gallery member and art student Dorothea (Dash) Kossmann used her season pass to visit Masterpieces 25 times, from the very first day it opened to being the last person driven from the exhibition by a friendly security guard on the final day. While her first visit was a little over-whelming she found return visits enabled her to engage with the art in different ways. While attempting to burn the works of art into her visual memory Dorothea kept seeing something new each time, right up until the last day when she noticed a tiny dash of red on one of the figures in Starry Night.

What revelations, surprises or disappointments did you find? Did you cry in front of Starry Night?