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Mark Ryden

Mark Ryden: painter, author, filmmaker

Mark Ryden (born January 20, 1963) is an American painter, part of the Lowbrow (or Pop Surrealist) art movement. He was dubbed “the god-father of pop surrealism” by Interview Magazine. Artnet named Ryden and his wife, the painter Marion Peck, the King and Queen of Pop Surrealism and one of the ten most important art couples in Los Angeles. Ryden’s aesthetic is developed from subtle amalgams of many sources, from Ingres, David and other French classicists to Little Golden Books. Ryden also draws his inspiration from anything that will evoke mystery: old toys, anatomical models, stuffed animals, skeletons and religious ephemera found in flea markets.

Ryden was born in Medford, Oregon on January 20, 1963, but was raised in Southern California, where his father made a living painting, restoring and customizing cars. He has two sisters and two brothers, one a fellow artist named Keyth Ryden, who works under the name KRK. Mark Ryden graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in 1987.

Ryden in 1983

From 1988 to 1998 Ryden made his living as a commercial artist. During this period he created numerous album covers including Michael Jackson’s Dangerous, the 4 Non Blondes’ Bigger, Better, Faster, More!, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ One Hot Minute, Jack Off Jill’s Clear Hearts Grey Flowers, and Aerosmith’s Love in an Elevator.

Album art for Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous”
Artwork for 4 Non Blondes’ “Bigger Better Faster More!”
Artwork for The Red Hot Chili Peppers' "One Hot Minute"
Artwork for The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “One Hot Minute”
Artwork for Jack Off Jill's "Clear Hearts Grey Flowers"
Artwork for Jack Off Jill’s “Clear Hearts Grey Flowers”

Also during this time, Ryden created book covers including Stephen King’s novels Desperation and The Regulators.

Coverart for Stephen King’s “Desperation”
Coverart for Stephen King’s “The Regulators”

He continued working as a commercial artist until his work was taken up by Robert Williams, a former member of the Zap Comix collective, who in 1994 put it on the cover of Juxtapoz, a magazine devoted to “lowbrow art”.

Coverart for Juxtapoz magazine, #17 1998

Ryden’s solo debut show entitled The Meat Show was in Pasadena, California in 1998. Meat is a reoccurring theme in his work. He observes the disconnect in our contemporary culture between meat we use for food and the living, breathing creature it comes from. “I suppose it is this contradiction that brings me to return to meat in my art.” According to Ryden, meat is the physical substance that makes all of us alive and through which we exist in this reality. All of us are wearing our bodies, which are like a garment of meat.

“Incarnation,” by Mark Ryden, 2009

A midcareer retrospective, Wondertoonel, which refers to a cabinet of curiosities or “Wunderkammer” (“wonder-room”), was co-organized in 2004 by the Frye Museum in Seattle and the Pasadena Museum of California Art. It was the best attended exhibition since the Frye Art Museum opened in 1952, and also broke attendance records in Pasadena. Debra Byrne, curator at the Frye at the time of Ryden’s exhibition, placed Ryden’s work in the camp of the carnivalesque—a strain of visual culture rooted in such works as Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. According to the Russian author and literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin (1895–1975), there are three forms of carnivalesque art — the ritualized spectacle, the comic composition and various genres of billingsgate (foul language) — all three of which are interwoven in Ryden’s work.


In 2007, The Tree Show opened at the Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles. In this exhibition Ryden explores the modern human experience of nature. Ryden explains, “Some people look at these massive trees and feel a sort of spiritual awe looking at them, and then other people just want to cut them up and sell them, they only see a commodity”. Ryden has created limited editions of his art to raise money for the Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy.

In 2009, Ryden’s exhibition The Snow Yak Show was shown at the Tomio Koyama Gallery in Tokyo. In this exhibition his compositions were more serene and suggestive of solitude, peacefulness and introspection.


In 2010, The Gay 90’s: Old Tyme Art Show debuted at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York. The central theme of the show referenced the idealism and sentimentalism of the 1890s while addressing the role of kitsch and nostalgia in our current culture. Here Ryden explores the line between attraction and repulsion to kitsch. According to The New York Times, “Ryden’s pictures hint at the psychic stuff that pullulates beneath the sentimental, nostalgic and naïve surface of modern kitsch.”


Also in 2010, Ryden and Peck collaborated on a fantastical project entitled Sweet Wishes, a short, stop-motion animated film, and is in this author’s opinion, one of the most wonderful things ever created.

Sweet Wishes tells the tale of Dolly, Baby and Bear and what happens when they are granted a wish from a magical fairy. That same year, the pair released the story in a book of photographs in a children’s picture-book format, in a style very much in keeping with that of both artists.

mark ryden sweet wishes
On May 13, 2014, Ryden released an album entitled The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music: Daisy Bell, featuring Tyler the Creator, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Katy Perry, Stan Ridgway of Wall Of Voodoo, Danny Elfman, Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, Nick Cave, scarling., Kirk Hammett of Metallica, and Everlast, all giving a different rendition of the same song, “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two).” The proceeds from the signed and limited edition record benefited Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit that supports musical education in disadvantaged elementary schools. The video interpretations of the songs below, were delightfully created by Ryden. (See more at Ryden’s YouTube account here.)


From December 10th, 2016, through January 14, 2017, the Dorothy Circus Gallery in Rome, Italy, hosted the exhibition Mysterium Coniunctionis, a collaborative exhibition presenting very rare and limited edition prints from Ryden and his wife, Marion Peck. “Mysterium Coniunctionis” consisted of more than 20 artworks, mainly artist proofs, a collection that showcases Peck and Ryden’s peculiar and intriguing combinations. Their inviting compositions are executed with extremely complex, detailed artwork, that make visible a vision of society in which menace and comfort are inseparably interwoven.

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Mark Ryden

Digital collage portrait by TMLipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series
January 20, 2017
Click image for full resolution

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Frida Kahlo

Today’s Artist Birthday: Frida Kahlo

Artist Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyocoán, Mexico City, Mexico. Considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists, Frida Kahlo began painting after she was severely injured in a bus accident. Kahlo later became politically active and married fellow communist artist Diego Rivera in 1929. She exhibited her paintings in Paris and Mexico before her death in 1954.

Frida_life

Artist Frida Kahlo was born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón on July 6, 1907, in Coyocoán, Mexico City, Mexico. Considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists, Frida Kahlo began painting after she was severely injured in a bus accident.

1919, age
1919, age 11

Kahlo grew up in the family’s home where she was born — later referred as the Blue House or Casa Azul. Her father, Wilhelm (also called Guillermo), was a German photographer who had immigrated to Mexico where he met and married her mother Matilde. She had two older sisters, Matilde and Adriana, and her younger sister, Cristina, was born the year after Frida.

The Kahlo sisters (clockwise from left: Cristina, , Frida, )
The Kahlo sisters (clockwise from left: Cristina, Matlida, Frida, and seated Adriana )

Around the age of 6, she contracted polio, which caused her to be bedridden for nine months. While she did recover from the illness, she limped when she walked because the disease had damaged her right leg and foot. Her father encouraged her to play soccer, go swimming, and even wrestle — highly unusual moves for a girl at the time — to help aid in her recovery.

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In 1922, Kahlo enrolled at the renowned National Preparatory School. She was one of the few female students to attend the school, and she became known for her jovial spirit and her love of traditional and colorful clothes and jewelry. That same year, famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera went to work on a project at the school. Kahlo often watched as Rivera created a mural called The Creation in the school’s lecture hall. According to some reports, she told a friend that she would someday have Rivera’s baby.

1926
1926, age 19

While at school, Kahlo hung out with a group of politically and intellectually like-minded students. She became romantically involved with one of them, Alejandro Gómez Arias. On September 17, 1925, Kahlo and Gómez Arias were traveling together on a bus when the vehicle collided with a streetcar. As a result of the collision, Kahlo was impaled by a steel handrail, which went into her hip and came out the other side. She suffered several serious injuries as a result, including fractures in her spine and pelvis.

Painting from 1940, describing her accident in
Painting from 1940, describing her accident in 1925

After staying at the Red Cross Hospital in Mexico City for several weeks, Kahlo returned home to recuperate further. She began painting during her recovery and finished her first self-portrait the following year, which she gave to Gómez Arias. Becoming more politically active, Kahlo joined the Young Communist League and the Mexican Communist Party.

Frida's first self portrait, 19
Frida’s first self portrait, 1926

Kahlo reconnected with Rivera in 1928. He encouraged her artwork, and the two began a relationship. The couple married the next year. During their early years together, Kahlo often followed Rivera based on where the commissions that Rivera received were. In 1930, they lived in San Francisco, California, where Kahlo showed her painting Frieda and Diego Rivera at the Sixth Annual Exhibition of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists. They then went to New York City for Rivera’s show at the Museum of Modern Art and later moved to Detroit for Rivera’s commission with the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Frida and Diego, 1930
Frida and Diego, 1930
"Frida And Diego Rivera," 1931
“Frida And Diego Rivera,” 1931

In 1932, Kahlo incorporated more graphic and surrealistic elements in her work. In her painting, Henry Ford Hospital (1932), a naked Kahlo appears on a hospital bed with several items — a fetus, a snail, a flower, a pelvis and others — floating around her connected to her by red, veinlike strings. As with her earlier self-portraits, the work was deeply personal, telling the story of her second miscarriage.

"Henry Ford Hospital," 1932
“Henry Ford Hospital,” 1932

Kahlo and Rivera’s time in New York City in 1933 was surrounded by controversy. Commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller, Rivera created a mural entitled Man at the Crossroads in the RCA Building at Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller halted the work on the project after Rivera included a portrait of communist leader Vladimir Lenin in the mural, which was later painted over. Months after this incident, the couple returned to Mexico and went to live in San Angel, Mexico.

Diego Rivera working on "Man At The Crossroads," 1933
Diego Rivera working on “Man At The Crossroads,” 1933
"Man At The Crossroads," as it looks today
“Man At The Crossroads,” as it looks today
Frida working on a painting of her own, while Diego worked on the mural "Man At The Crossroads," 1933
Frida working on a painting of her own, while Diego worked on the mural “Man At The Crossroads,” 1933

Never a traditional union, Kahlo and Rivera kept separate, but adjoining homes and studios in San Angel. She was saddened by his many infidelities, including an affair with her sister Cristina. In response to this familial betrayal, Kahlo cut off most of her trademark long dark hair. Desperately wanting to have a child, she again experienced heartbreak when she miscarried in 1934.

1934, Frida after having cut her trademark long hair
1934, Frida after having cut her trademark long hair

She and Rivera went through periods of separation, but they joined together to help exiled Soviet communist Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia in 1937. The Trotskys came to stay with them at the Blue House for a time in 1937 as Trotsky had received asylum in Mexico. Once a rival of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Trotsky feared that he would be assassinated by his old nemesis. Kahlo and Trotsky reportedly had a brief affair during this time.

Frida and Leon Trotsky, 193
Frida and Leon Trotsky, 1937

While she never considered herself a Surrealist, Kahlo befriended one of the primary figures in that artistic and literary movement, Andre Breton, in 1938. That same year, she had a major exhibition at a New York City gallery, selling about half of the 25 paintings shown there. Kahlo also received two commissions, including one from famed magazine editor Clare Boothe Luce, as a result of the show.

Leon Trotsky, Diego Rivera, Natalya Trotsky, Reba Hansen, Andre Breton, Frida Kahlo, and Jean Van Heijenoort (clockwise from left)
Leon Trotsky, Diego Rivera, Natalya Trotsky, Reba Hansen, Andre Breton, Frida Kahlo, and Jean Van Heijenoort (clockwise from left)

Kahlo was asked to paint a portrait of Luce and Kahlo’s mutual friend, actress Dorothy Hale, who had committed suicide earlier that year by jumping from a high-rise building. The painting was intended as a gift for Hale’s grieving mother. Rather than a traditional portrait, however, Kahlo painted the story of Hale’s tragic leap. While the work, The Suicide of Dorothy Hale (1939), has been heralded by critics, its patron was horrified at the finished painting.

"The Suicide Of Dorothy Hale," 1938
“The Suicide Of Dorothy Hale,” 1938
Frida's letter to Clare Luce Booth
Frida’s letter to Clare Luce Booth

In 1939, Kahlo went to live in Paris for a time. There she exhibited some of her paintings and developed friendships such artists as Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso. She divorced Rivera later that year. During this time, she painted one of her most famous works, The Two Fridas (1939). The paintings shows two versions of the artist sitting side by side, with both of their hearts exposed. One Frida is dressed nearly all in white and has a damaged heart and spots of blood on her clothing. The other wears bold colored clothing and has an intact heart. These figures are believed to represent “unloved” and “loved” versions of Kahlo.

"The Two Frida's," 1939
“The Two Frida’s,” 1939

Oddly, Kahlo and Rivera did not stay divorced for long. They remarried in 1940, and yet the couple continued to lead largely separate lives. And both became involved with other people over the years.

Frida and Diego, 1940
Frida and Diego, 1940

Kahlo received a commission from the Mexican government for five portraits of important Mexican women in 1941, but she was unable to finish the project. She lost her beloved father that year and continued to suffer from chronic health problems. Despite her personal challenges, her work continued to grow in popularity and was included in numerous group shows around this time.

1941, in a decorated plaster cast
1941, in a decorated plaster cast
"Self Portrait With Braid," 1941
“Self Portrait With Braid,” 1941

In 1944, Kahlo painted The Broken Column, which depicted a nearly nude Frida split down the middle revealing her spine as a shattered decorative column. She also wears a surgical brace and her skin is studded with tacks or nails. Again, Kahlo shared her physical challenges through her art. Around this time, she had several surgeries and wore special corsets to try to fix her back. She would continue to seek a variety of treatments for her chronic physical pain with little success.

"Broken Column," 19
“The Broken Column,” 1941

Her health issues became nearly all-consuming in 1950. After being diagnosed with gangrene in her right foot, Kahlo spent nine months in the hospital and had several operations during this time. She continued to paint and support political causes despite having limited mobility.

Frida, painting in her hospital bed
Frida, painting in her recovery bed

In 1953, Kahlo received her first solo exhibition in Mexico. She may have been bedridden at the time, but she did not miss out on the exhibition’s opening. Arriving by ambulance, Kahlo spent the evening talking and celebrating with the event’s attendees from the comfort of a four-poster bed set up in the gallery just for her. Kahlo’s joy was dampened a few months later when part of her right leg was amputated to stop the spread of gangrene.

Frida at her art opening in 1953
Frida at her art opening in 1953

Deeply depressed, Kahlo was hospitalized again in April 1954 because of poor health, or, as some reports indicated, a suicide attempt. She returned to the hospital two months later with bronchial pneumonia. No matter her physical condition, Kahlo did not let that stand in the way of her political activism. Her final public appearance was a demonstration against the U.S.-backed overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala on July 2.

July 19, the last time Frida was seen in public
July 2, 1954, the last time Frida was seen in public

About a week after her 47th birthday, Kahlo died on July 13 at her beloved Blue House. There has been some speculation regarding the nature of her death. It was reported to be caused by a pulmonary embolism, but there have also been stories about a possible suicide.

Frida's funeral,
Frida’s funeral, July, 1954
Frida's funeral, July, 1954
Frida’s funeral, July, 1954

She was cremated and her ashes are located at her beloved Blue House in, Coyoacan Mexico.

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Edited from:

http://www.biography.com/people/frida-kahlo-9359496


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Special thanks to: Daily Artfixx, On This Day, Wikipedia,
Find-A-Grave, A&E Bio, The Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, Famous Birthdays, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and all the art history buffs that keep the internet full of
wonderful information and images. 


Danny Elfman

Today’s Artist Birthday: Danny Elfman

Daniel Robert Elfman (born May 29, 1953) is an American composer, singer, songwriter, and record producer. From 1976 to 1995 he was the lead singer and songwriter for the band Oingo Boingo. He has since become one of film’s greatest composers, scoring numerous iconic movies. Among his honors are four Academy Award nominations, a Grammy for Batman, an Emmy for Desperate Housewives, the 2002 Richard Kirk Award, and the Disney Legend Award.

new-danny-elfman
Danny Elfman was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Blossom Elfman (née Bernstein), a writer and teacher, and Milton Elfman, a teacher who was in the Air Force. He spent much of his time in the local movie theatre, adoring the music of such film composers as Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman. Stating that he hung out with the “band geeks” in high school, he started a ska band. After dropping out of high school, he followed his brother Richard to France, where he performed with Le Grand Magic Circus, an avant-garde musical theater group.

Danny Elfman (right) and his brother Richard - c.1958
Danny Elfman (right) and his brother Richard – c.1958
Danny Elfman and his older brother Richard, c. 1970
Danny Elfman and his older brother Richard, c. 1970

Violin in tow, the lad next journeyed to Africa where he traveled through Ghana, Mali, and Upper Volta, absorbing new musical styles, including the Ghanaian highlife genre which would eventually influence his own music.

danny elfman early years
He contracted malaria during his one-year stay and was often sick. Eventually he returned home to the United States, where he began to take Balinese music lessons at CalArts. He was never officially a student at the institute; nonetheless, the instructor encouraged him to continue learning. Elfman stated, “He just laughed, and said, ‘Sit. Play.’ I continued to sit and play for a couple years.” At this time, his brother Richard was forming a new musical theater group.

Danny Elfman about the time he was a student-non-student at CalArts
Danny Elfman about the time he was a student-non-student at CalArts

In 1972 Richard Elfman founded the American new wave band/performance art group, originally called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. They played several shows throughout the 1970s (including a brilliant and terribly under-appreciated appearance on the cult classic, The Gong Show) until Richard Elfman left the band to become a filmmaker.

As a send-off to the band’s original concept, Richard Elfman created the film Forbidden Zone based on their stage performances. Danny Elfman composed his first score for the film and played the role of Satan (the other band members played his minions).

Danny Elfman in the film, "The Forbidden Zone"
Danny Elfman in the film, “The Forbidden Zone”

By the time the movie was completed, they had taken the name Oingo Boingo and begun recording and touring as a rock group. From 1976 and on, it was led by Danny Elfman, until 1995 when they suddenly retired. The semi-theatrical music and comedy troupe had transformed into a ska-influenced new wave band in 1979, and then changed again towards a more guitar-oriented rock sound, in the late 1980s. Oingo Boingo, still led by Danny Elfman, performed as themselves in the 1986 movie Back to School.

When asked during a 2007 phone-in interview on XETRA-FM if he ever had any notions of performing in an Oingo Boingo reunion, he immediately rejected the idea and stated that in the last few years with the band he had begun to develop significant and irreversible hearing damage as a result of his continuous exposure to the high noise levels involved in performing in a rock band. He went on to say that he believes his hearing damage is partially due to a genetic predisposition to hearing loss, and that he will never return to the stage for fear of worsening not only his condition but also that of his band mates.

However, for one exception, Elfman and Oingo Boingo guitarist Steve Bartek reunited on October 31, 2015 to perform the song “Dead Man’s Party” during an encore at a Halloween celebration at the Hollywood Bowl “for the first time in 20 years to the day”, as he said to the audience at the beginning of the video below:

In 1985, Tim Burton and Paul Reubens invited Elfman to write the score for their first feature film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Elfman was apprehensive at first, because of his lack of formal training, but with orchestration assistance from Oingo Boingo guitarist and arranger Steve Bartek, he achieved his goal of emulating the mood of such composers as Nino Rota and Bernard Herrmann. ( Elfman cited his first time noticing film music being when he heard Bernard Herrmann’s score to The Day the Earth Stood Still as an eleven-year-old and being a fan of film music since then. Also, Nino Rota served as a significant influence and was the main inspiration for Elfman’s astonishingly awesome and unforgettable, life-altering-in-the-best-way- possible score to Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.)

In the booklet for the first volume of Music for a Darkened Theatre, Elfman described the first time he heard his music played by a full orchestra as one of the most thrilling experiences of his life. He immediately developed a rapport with Burton and has gone on to score all but three of Burton’s major studio releases. Elfman also provided the singing voice for Jack Skellington in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and the voices of both Barrel and the “Clown with the Tear-Away Face”. Years later he provided the voice for Bonejangles the skeleton in Corpse Bride.


Burton has said of his relationship with Elfman: “We don’t even have to talk about the music. We don’t even have to intellectualize – which is good for both of us, we’re both similar that way. We’re very lucky to connect“.

Tim Burton (left) and Danny Elfman
Tim Burton (left) and Danny Elfman

In 2004 Elfman composed Serenada Schizophrana for the American Composers Orchestra. It was conducted by John Mauceri on its recording and by Steven Sloane at its premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York City on February 23, 2005. After its premiere, it was recorded in studio and released onto SACD on October 3, 2006. The meeting with Mauceri proved fruitful as the composer was encouraged then to write a new concert piece for Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. He composed an “overture to a non-existent musical” and called the piece “The Overeager Overture“. He also continues to compose his film scores in addition to these other projects.

Danny Elfman and conductor Mauceri
Danny Elfman and conductor John Mauceri

In 2011 Elfman composed the music for the Cirque du Soleil show Iris, which was performed at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood from July 21, 2011 to January 19, 2013.

In October 2013, Elfman returned to the stage to sing his vocal parts to a handful of Nightmare Before Christmas songs as part of a concert titled Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton. He composed the film score for Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), and composed additional music for Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) together with Brian Tyler.

oz elfman

Describing his politics during the 1980s, Elfman said, “I’m not a doomist. My attitude is always to be critical of what’s around you, but not ever to forget how lucky we are. I’ve traveled around the world. I left thinking I was a revolutionary. I came back real right-wing patriotic. Since then, I’ve kind of mellowed in between.” In 2008, he expressed support for Barack Obama and said that Sarah Palin was his “worst nightmare”.

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Elfman has three children: Lola (born 1979), Mali (born 1984), and Oliver (born 2005). On November 29, 2003, he married actress Bridget Fonda. In 1997, he scored A Simple Plan, his only score for one of her films to date (although he did compose a cue for the film Army of Darkness, in which Fonda has a cameo).

Danny_Elfmans_Music_From_The_Films_Of_Tim_Burton_5_L-R_Danny_Elfman_Credit_Paul_Sanders


Edited from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_Elfman


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