The Secrets of Roentgen Writing Cabinet

Discover the hidden features and intricate interior of this cabinet.

One of the finest achievements of European furniture making, this cabinet is the most important product from Abraham (1711 – 1793) and David Roentgen’s (1743 – 1807) workshop. A writing cabinet crowned with a chiming clock, it features finely designed marquetry panels and elaborate mechanisms that allow for doors and drawers to be opened automatically at the touch of a button. Owned by King Frederick William II, the Berlin cabinet is uniquely remarkable for its ornate decoration, mechanical complexity, and sheer size.

This cabinet is from Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the exhibition Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens:

Footage courtesy of VideoART GmbH and Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Recovering the History of Sound in Video Games (Hyperallergic)

by Allison Meier on September 2, 2014 original article here.

Video Games Live orchestral performance of the Tetris theme (photograph by Roxanne Ready, via Flickr)

Video Games Live orchestral performance of the Tetris theme (photo by Roxanne Ready, via Flickr)

The sound of video games has transformed from something seemingly mechanical accenting action to incredibly elaborate acoustic landscapes setting the mood for play. To preserve this history, and show why it’s worth exploring, a new documentary and archive project are underway.

Beep: A History of Game Sound — currently crowdfunding for production on Kickstarter — is directed by Karen Collins. A sound designer and the Canada Research Chair in Interactive Audio at the University of Waterloo, she has written extensively on audio in video games, including in the book Playing with Sound: A Theory of Interacting with Sound and Music in Video Games, released last year by MIT Press. Beep is aiming to be the first film on video-game sound history, and also a means of gathering interviews with key figures in its development that will be available as an archive.

As the funding page for Beep states: “We can’t go back and interview early film composers, but we can interview game sound designers and composers from the early days.” The majority of those people are largely unknown, even to gamers. “Most of us could hum the theme song to Super Mario Bros., but how many people know the name of the composer who wrote that music?,” says Collins in the Kickstarter video. (It’s Koji Kondo, who also did The Legend of Zelda and a prolific number of other Nintendo games.)


Image for "BEEP: A History of Game Sound" (courtesy the filmmakers)

Image for “BEEP: A History of Game Sound” (courtesy the filmmakers)

In a technologically nostalgic way, the impetus for Beep is aligned with projects like the Museum of Endangered Sounds. Created in early 2012, the online “museum” is focused on the preservation of sounds from now obsolete electronic media, whether it’s AOL Instant Messenger, Space Invaders, or Encarta MindMaze. Exploring the museum, you start to think of how the sounds of technology have gotten more subtle, from jarring 8-bit noise to gentler, composed sounds. However, in video games, the progress of play is so concentrated on visuals that it can be easy to overlook how audio has been essential to making gaming experiences engaging. Back in 2011, “Baba Yetu” by Christopher Tin for Civilization IV received a Grammy, the first video-game music composition to do so, suggesting that the music of games may be expanding into the mainstream.

The ground Collins is hoping to cover with Beep is ambitious, stretching from Victorian mechanical games to arcades of the 1970s and ’80s, to contemporary responses like the Video Game Orchestra, which gives the full instrumentation treatment to game sounds in live performances. As video games get more recognition as an art form, it will be integral to their history to have a record of these sound creators.

Beep: A Documentary History of Video Game Sound is fundraising on Kickstarter through September 30.

Walking the Mysterious and Monumental Nazca Lines (Hyperallergic)

by Allison Meier on August 12, 2014 original article here.

Edward Ranney, “Viscas River Valley” (2001) (© Ed Ranney) (all images courtesy Yale University Press)

Sandstorms shifting the terrain of southwest Peru recently revealed new Nazca Lines. Hundreds of the geoglyphs in the desert were already known, showing animals, plants, and geometric designs etched in the earth at an incredible scale, the largest a 935-foot pelican. Yet the purpose of these ancient drawings, produced between about 500 BCE to 500 CE, remains one of history’s enigmas.

These newly exposed Nazca Lines were spotted by pilot Eduardo Herrán Gómez de la Torre, reported. It was also from a plane that Long Island University Professor Paul Kosok first perceived the lines in 1939, an observation that would launch them into contemporary archaeological study. The allure of the puzzle of their function, from theories on an astronomical purpose to a labyrinth, has enticed researchers for decades. However, from the air isn’t how they were seen by the people who carved away iron-oxide stones to reveal the lighter clay in one-line images of a hummingbird, lizard, spider, whale, flowers, zigzags, and odder figures that appear like humans with animalistic features. It was from the ground.

Edward Ranney, Palpa Valley, 2004. © Ed Ranney

Edward Ranney, “Palpa Valley” (2004) © Ed Ranney

It’s this perspective that photographer Edward Ranney has documented since 1985, walking the 2,000-year-old lines with his large-format camera. Traveling in Peru as well as in Chile with archaeologists and local guides, his perspective in black and white gives them a majesty and mystery similar to early landscape photographers like Carleton Watkins.

This month, his newest monograph on the ancient art — The Lines, including an essay from Lucy R. Lippard — is being released by Yale University Press. Ranney told PetaPixel in a July interview that the book “represents one person’s interest in finding these glyphs and photographing them in the context in which their creators experienced them.” He adds that he hopes “pictures of them will increase others’ respect for them — they are by nature very fragile, easily wrecked by vehicles and even excessive foot-traffic.”

Despite their high-profile and restrictions on trespassers to the Nazca plain, there’s been recent destruction like in 2013 when some were wrecked by heavy machinery. And by viewing them from the surface, where the incredible distance of the lines can be more readily perceived, you can also see the delicate side of this ancient art dug from stones out on an arid plateau.

Edward Ranney, Nazca Pampa, 1985. © Ed Ranney

Edward Ranney, “Nazca Pampa” (1985) © Ed Ranney

Edward Ranney, Nazca Valley, 2009. © Ed Ranney

Edward Ranney, “Nazca Valley” (2009) © Ed Ranney

Edward Ranney, Nazca Pampa, 1985. © Ed Ranney

Edward Ranney, “Nazca Pampa” (1985) © Ed Ranney

Edward Ranney, “Cerro Unitas, Pampa Tamarugal, Chile” (2006) © Ed Ranney

Edward Ranney, “Aroma Valley, Chile” (2006) © Ed Ranney

The Lines by Edward Ranney is available from Yale University Press. Photographs of the newly revealed geoglyphs can be found at Peru’s El Comercio.

Gender Roles in Popular culture as seen by Colin Stokes (movies)

I always impress on my students to view artwork (this includes films) not just from the gender they are born with but to try on “another pair of shoes” and attempt to see it as the opposite sex as well as examine who the audience is meant to be. I love Colin Stokes‘ take on a few films that are staples of our culture. Check out his blog here. Try the Bechdel Test on the next movie you watch!

Acclaimed artist and USF professor Theo Wujcik dies at 78 (Tampa Bay Times)

Andrew Meacham

Andrew Meacham, Times Staff WriterArtist Theo Wujcik sits in front of one of his paintings, Blind Date December 7, 2004, at his Ybor City studio.

Monday, March 31, 2014 10:21am

TAMPA — Theo Wujcik kept odd hours, often closing down the Castle in Ybor City and returning to his studio across the street, where he would paint until daybreak.

His work could not be categorized as pop or realist or abstract, though it contained those elements and more.

Nor did Mr. Wujcik himself fit into any genre. He turned 21 when Elvis Presley’s All Shook Up topped the charts, yet would lead a “movement” in Ybor City in the 1980s called Mododado, which combined punk rock and salvage art and dancing.

Around the same period, Mr. Wujcik saw a rolled-up chain link fence and thought of a tornado. In 1984 he painted Tampa Tornado, a chain link whirlwind that contains and destroys all. He continued to use the fence metaphor in his category-defying art for years.

That whirlwind has finally stopped. Mr. Wujcik, a nationally acclaimed artist who taught for more than 30 years at the University of South Florida, died Saturday of cancer, his friends say. He was 78.

Mr. Wujcik was also a master printer at USF’s Graphicstudio. His work was admired by many, and collectors lined up to pay thousands of dollars for it. He constantly experimented with new ideas, but a consistent theme was one of appropriated cultural symbols and imagery.

“The innovative part of Theo was that he moved through various themes and ideas that were often stimulated by global and political events and his everyday life,” said Margaret Miller, who directs the USF Institute for Research in Art. “He would take fragments from the art world and detritus on the street, changing strategies and constantly reinventing himself.”

A colleague of 30 years at USF, Miller recalled that Mr. Wujcik sometimes slept in his studio. In the evenings he took bets from the cleaning crew, and placed them along with his own at Tampa Greyhound Track, happily returning their winnings to them, Miller said.

Collectors in the Tampa Bay area and beyond, however, knew Mr. Wujcik as a heavyweight, a two-time best of show winner at Gasparilla Festival of the Arts whose work hung in scores of galleries in the United States and Europe, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

He loved to work with colleagues, including internationally renowned artists Edward Ruscha and Robert Rauschenberg, and would incorporate their themes — along with that of Rodin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Andy Warhol and others — into his own work.

Such appropriation, Miller said, was done “out of affection and admiration for those great art heroes, but he was among them.”

Theodore Wujcik was born in Detroit in 1936, the ninth of 10 children. After winning awards from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation and the Ford Foundation, he studied as a master printer at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Hollywood, Calif. He moved in 1970 with his first wife and two children to Tampa, where he became a shop director at USF’s Graphicstudio.

His marriage ended in 1979. Mr. Wujcik bonded even further with Ybor City, his studio since the 1970s, when the area was in decline and considered dangerous. He was part of a group of creative people who gave the historic Tampa neighborhood its quirky, artsy reputation.

He became a leader in a growing punk rock scene in Ybor, staying up late and dancing and creating art from cast-off materials.

His reputation continued to grow. If he never cracked the New York art scene, it wasn’t because he didn’t have influential backers, including James Rosenquist, an internationally known artist who lobbied New York galleries several times on Mr. Wujcik’s behalf.

“His problem is, he would paint,” said Rosenquist. “However, as soon as he would have a series of coherent ideas together that would make a beautiful show, he would turn around and sell them off cheap, at $1,000 or $2,000, and so on.

“In the real art world, the starting gun for prices is about $25,000 a pop,” said Rosenquist, who said he considers Mr. Wujcik “one of the foremost printers in the world.”

In 1991 Mr. Wujcik married Susan Johnson. They divorced 12 years later but remained close.

In 2000, Largo’s Gulf Coast Museum of Art put on a 30-year retrospective honoring Mr. Wujcik’s work. He retired from USF in 2003 but continued collaborating with other artists.

“A lot of art professors slow down and just teach,” said Kirk Ke Wang, 52, an Eckerd College art professor who painted a well-known portrait of Mr. Wujcik. “Sometimes I felt guilty because I’m so young, but I couldn’t keep up with him.”

Even after learning in October that he had late-stage cancer, Mr. Wujcik continued to paint. His last exhibit opened at the Galleri Urbane Dallas in February.

Times staff writer Lennie Bennett contributed to this report, which used information from Times files. Andrew Meacham can be reached at or (727) 892-2248.

American gets back art taken by Nazis during WWII (Associated Press)

By THOMAS ADAMSON March 19, 2013 5:35 PM

PARIS (AP) — Tom Selldorff was 6 years old when he saw his grandfather’s prized art collection for the last time in 1930s Vienna, before it fell into Nazi hands.

Now, he’s 84 — and in a ceremony in Paris on Tuesday, the American was finally given back a piece of his late grandfather’s memory: France has returned six of his stolen family masterpieces.

The restitution of the works — including paintings by Alessandro Longhi and Sebastiano Ricci — is part of France’s ongoing effort to return hundreds of looted artworks that Jewish owners lost during the war that still hang in the Louvre and other museums. The move ends years of struggle for Selldorff, whose claims were validated by the French government last year after years of researching the fates of the works.

“I’m extremely grateful and very moved,” said Selldorff, who flew in from Boston for the event at France’s Culture Ministry, where the oil paintings were on temporary display. “These paintings were in this fog of war. The restitution… was not easy. It took a long time.”

The artworks were stolen or sold under duress some seven decades ago as Jewish industrialist and art collector Richard Neumann — Selldorff’s grandfather — and his family fled Nazi-occupied Europe. The collection — whose original size is unknown — was his ticket out, though he sold it for a fraction of its value. The route the artworks took to show up in French museums is unclear, making their way to places like the Museum of Modern Art of Saint-Etienne, the Agen Fine Arts Museum, the Tours Fine Art Museum, and the Louvre.

“After losing most of his family assets and a good part of his collection to the Nazis in Austria in 1938, he came to Paris for several years and then had to flee again, this time with my grandmother at one point on foot over the Pyrenees, to Spain, and then eventually to Cuba,” Selldorff said.

The paintings, meanwhile, stayed behind — all six destined for display in the art gallery Adolf Hitler wanted to build in his hometown of Linz, Austria, according to a catalog for the planned museum.

“I only wish my grandfather was here to be able to be a part of all this, but I am sure he is watching from somewhere upstairs, so that’s fine,” Selldorff said.

At the end of the war, with Hitler dead and European cities rebuilding, artworks were left “unclaimed” and many thousands that were thought to have been French-owned found their ways into the country’s top museums. Many of the 100,000 possessions looted, stolen or appropriated between 1940 and 1944 in France have been returned to Jewish families, but France says that some 2,000 artworks still lie in state institutions.

With a twinkle in his eye and a youthful smile, Selldorff remembered wandering around his grandfather’s collection.

“I remember the house (in Vienna) very well. I remember the existence of these dark rooms with these paintings hanging,” he said, recalling that his grandfather also opened up the collection to the Austrian public. A remaining link with the art was a catalog left behind by his late mother — a sort of scrapbook with pictures of the paintings.

“So I knew there were some very beautiful paintings in the house,” Selldorff said.

“I ,too, hope that some of the art will go on loan to museums and be exhibited so that other people besides our family can appreciate them,” he said, adding that he has spoken to some U.S. museums about the possibility of showing the art to the American public.

Overall, Selldorff said it’s about being able to pass to his three children and five grandchildren a piece of his grandfather’s stolen history.

“His love of art is what I want to pass on,” he said. “It’s what makes us human.”