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Nelson Shanks 1937-2015

September 5, 2015 — Leave a comment

One  of our country’s greatest portrait painters passed away recently. Nelson Shanks was also Philadelphia’s own. Students came from all over the world to attend his school which was just a block around the corner from me.  A monumental mind with a monumental talent who touched everyone from dignitaries to students throughout his life. This self portrait was one of his last apparently.




There is no obituary that can possibly capture this man.  Here are a few that make a good attempt:

New York Times

Washington Post



Nelson Shanks painting Margaret Thatcher in 1994 (Via




Nelson Shanks 1937-2015

Not to late to catch this exhibition at Temple Contemporary


Stop Telling Women to Smile
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Stop Telling Women to Smile comes from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s interviews with women about their street harassment experiences. Fazlalizadeh draws portraits of these women, adds text from their statements and experiences, and pastes them around the city in areas where harassment occurs. They serve as a way to talk back to street harassers in the spaces where the problem exists. This is part of our series on street harassment, which grew out of our Advisory Council‘s question “What makes us feel safe?” Stop Telling Women to Smile is on view at Temple Contemporary through January 31st.

via Temple Contemporary


The Protests of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Just like Hollywood, when the art market focus’s its lens on you things can get crazy real quick. Oscar Murillo, fresh out of the Royal College of Art, has become virtually overnight the art world’s new darling. Why? When the big art collectors smell an opportunity there is money to be made – and quickly. The problem is can this young kid with good skills be allowed to develop his work, which for a painter normally takes about 10 years. The LA Times hit him pretty hard.The spotlight could change him…

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“lessons in aesthetics & productivity 5” (2013-14)

While Mr. Murillo is little known outside clubby contemporary art circles, and he has his share of skeptics, his fans have called him “the 21st-century Basquiat.” That night, after fierce competition, “Untitled (burrito)” sold for $322,870, more than six times its high $49,000 estimate. Only two years ago, Mr. Murillo, who was born in Colombia, was waking up at 5 a.m. to clean office buildings to cover his expenses at the Royal College of Art in London. Now, he is represented by David Zwirner, one of the world’s most prestigious galleries, and when a choice canvas comes up at auction or through private sale, it can fetch more than $400,000.

The story of how a young artist like Mr. Murillo soared from struggling student to art star — courted by blue-chip dealers, inundated by curators requesting a work for a museum exhibition or biennial — reflects the way investing in contemporary art has become a gamble, like stocks and real estate. Collecting works by rising artists like Lucien Smith, Jacob Kassay, Sterling Ruby or Mr. Murillo is a competitive sport among a growing number of collectors betting on future stars.

via Oscar Murillo Keeps His Eyes on the Canvas –


Untitled, 2012

Process, not product, is the point Murillo makes, rather heavy handedly. Think Cy Twombly on a very bad day, his deft touch replaced with ham-fisted brutality. Or Donald Baechler sans the dopey kick of playful innocence.

Murillo’s four finished paintings are equally anemic. Each large piece is less compelling than a single square inch of anything Jean-Michel Basquiat ever touched.

The exhibition goes to great lengths — not to mention great expense — to shroud the reality of labor in the fantasy of artistic redemption. That’s the opposite of what Warhol was up to. Unfortunately, it defines our times, a kind of gilded age on steroids, when the past gets repackaged as farce.

via Art Review: “Oscar Murillo: Distribution Center” at The Mistake Room – murillo


The Over Night Success of Oscar Murillo

Modeled on the teacher/apprentice model the beautiful Cranbrook Academy of Art is an art makers utopian dream where all students and teachers live and work on the same street in a stunning European village and park setting. Yearly, a mere 8-10 students are accepted in each department. Don’t be fooled by its good looks. Founded by Eliel Saarinen and George Booth it remains one of the most prestigious graduate programs in the country. A word to the wise; Students applying here should have a mature body of work under their belts.  Worth a day trip to see the Saarinen House and Cranbrook Museum. A shout-out to the Motor City!


via the web site