Facebook, Curator of Culture

As the Academy makes its first bold forays into the expanding worlds of social media, we find ourselves reeling from a recent exchange with facebook, and on the edge of an interesting debate. 

It’s not “Contemporary vs. Traditional” or “Disegno vs. Colore.”  It’s much more universal and it drives to the heart of the age-old dialogue in visual culture: What is Art?

Just today, facebook alerted me that an image which violates their Terms of Use was removed from the New York Academy of Art’s facebook page. This image – a drawing by Steven Assael (see below) – is in an exhibition curated by the Academy and shown at the Eden Rock Gallery in St. Barth’s. 

And this isn’t the first time...  Alyssa Monks (MFA 2001) was censored by facebook, too. 
(Also read Huffington Post’s comments.) How does the de-facebooking of other works of fine art connect to the recent decision by the Smithsonian to remove David Wojnarowicz’s artwork from the National Portrait Gallery’s online and on-site exhibition?

As an institution of higher learning with a long tradition of upholding the art world’s “traditional values and skills,” we, the Graduate School of Figurative Art, find it difficult to allow facebook to be the final arbiter – and online curator – of the artwork we share with the world.

Steven Assael, "Simone" ink on paper.
Artwork image removed by facebook from the 
Academy's display of an exhibition on facebook. 

If it begins with Steven Assael, a modern master, who's next? Is it Kurt Kauper? (His drawing is still on facebook.) And then… must we censor artworks by our own MFA graduates? In this online kingdom in which facebook seems to rule, allegedly as a tool of universal communication and equal opportunity advancement, how shall the New York Academy of Art continue to impartially promote its under-recognized artists?  

If facebook is a new online Salon de Paris, where a faceless group of “curators” determine what artwork the public should see, well then please consider our website the Salon des Refus├ęs!  

And so we now ask: How is FACEBOOK controlling ART?

Elizabeth Sackler Lecture

Tuesday, February 8, 6:00pm

Elizabeth A. Sackler is an arts activist and a public historian who lectures and writes on ethics and morality in the art market and beyond. The idea of a place, a center, bound to equality without artificial constraints led her to found the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, home of “The Dinner Party” by Judy Chicago which honors women’s contributions in all fields throughout history. Her lecture will be about: "Moving Right Along: The Radicalization of Normal People" and we look forward to the Q&A portion of her lecture!

All lectures are free and open to the public.
Stay tuned to the blog for upcoming lectures including Donald Kuspit, Jeanne Silverthorne and Phoebe Hoban.
Click here for a complete schedule of SPRING 2011 Lectures

The NYAA Library has these resources available exclusively for NYAA students.
  • 384 images in ArtStor, collected in the Elizabeth Sackler/Judy Chicago > image group Judy Chicago.

    Five Ways to Create Space in your Painting

    The New York Academy of Art is pleased to share a new note by Hilary Harkness. Regularly posting her "Notes from Studio Lockdown," Hilary blogs with us as she prepares for her upcoming exhibition in May at Mary Boone Gallery in New York City. Follow her on this blog for sneak peeks into her studio practice!

    Dear friends,

    Recently I was asked for some tips on creating the illusion of space in a painting. I like this question, because as mysterious as the painting process may seem to be, most of what I do as an artist is very basic. Even as I am finishing a painting, my process is still all about the fundamentals. Here are five simple ways to create space in your painting - but please do chime in if there are more you can think of.

    1. Overlapping
    We all know this one - paint a person in front of a tree and the tree recedes. But here, Degas gets extra-tricky by slightly blurring, fading, or obscuring some of the background objects the moment before they dip behind the central figure.


    2. Dark vs. Light
    Notice how in this painting by Josef Albers the black square seems to automatically recede. The lighter colors pop forward, and as I see it the constructed space flickers inwards and outwards. I challenge you to see this space as flat!


    3. Atmospheric Perspective
    It is easy to find Renaissance paintings that have colors that fade out to blue in the distance, however, you can use any color yourself for this purpose if you lower the contrast as you push objects further back into space. Here's a favorite of mine by Gerard David.

    Gerard David

    4. Focus
    Photographers use it, painters use it, and I sure wish more sculptors would use it! Here we have Vermeer's Lacemaker - note how the objects on the front table seem miles closer to us than the girl's head. When I look at this painting, I feel like I am microscopically tiny, looking toward a distant mountain that happens to be a girl.


    5. One and Two-point Perspective
    All I can say is hit the books. Here is a website on this subject that is fascinating and T.M.I.


    An advanced perspectival technique is to determine how far the viewer's eye is from your painting, and to then calculate how quickly things recede into space. Here's a subtle case in which the artist William Bailey uses a very quick speed of spacial recession to make the viewer feel pushed far away from the picture plane. Our eyes are tricked into thinking these objects are on a narrow shelf, but we also know that each of these overlapping jars must be several inches in diameter. If our 'eye' was close to this still-life, the top lines and the bottom lines of the vases would not both be so straight and parallel to each other. This is indeed a painting of a still life as viewed from across a room, and that is why the space seems so shallow and flattened in some ways.


    Yours very truly,
    Hilary Harkness

    January preVIEW

    Each month, Librarian & Archivist Holly Frisbee highlights articles, reviews, and interviews from the current issues of our periodical collection. Take a moment to check them out and let us know what you think!

    Bo Bartlett
    • Anderson, Kristen. “Zero Hour: The Art of Jean-Pierre Roy.” Hi-Fructose. Jan 2011. 31-41. An interview with academy faculty Jean-Pierre Roy. Lots of pictures.

    • Gormley, Michael. “Bo Bartlett and the American Dream.American Artist. Mar/April 2011. 33-39. A look at Bo Bartlett’s most recent work.

    • Gregg, Gail. “Nothing like the Real Thing.ArtNews. Dec 2011. 68-71. After decades out of fashion, the practice of drawing from life models is growing in popularity.

      Jim Nutt

    • Hull, Richard. “Gladys Nilsson/ Jim Nutt.Bomb. Winter 2010. 50-59. Painter Richard Hull interviews the legendary couple at their home. They talk shop about the Hairy Who and Chicago Imagism, Bruegel, and El Greco.

    • Jenney, Neil, Kelley, Mike, et. al. “Six Views of Paul Thek.Artforum. Artforum invited six distinguished artists and writers to ruminate on Thek’s life and work. Paul Thek’s first retrospective, Diver, is currently on view at the Whitney.

      Judy Fox

    • Landi, Ann. “A Case of Caravaggiomania.ARTNews. Jan 2011. 101-105. The bad boy of Baroque is back in style with scholars, museumgoers, filmmakers, and even video artists.

    • Morgan, Eleanor. “John Baldessari.Believer. Dec 2010. 45-52. Things John Baldessari avoids at all costs: Repeating himself; Making art that’s a parody of his previous work; Throwing things in the trash.

    • Shull, Jodie A. “The World of Judy Fox: Power in Paradox.” Sculpture Review. Fall 2010. 12-15. A profile of Academy faculty member Judy Fox.

    (i've got a secret)

    Everybody loves to get in on a SECRET... and every artist is holding something back. 

    Whether it’s a SECRET self, a SECRET place, or a SECRET body of work,
    "i've got a secret" represents the mysterious and hidden, subtly tucked away thoughts
    that our artists always wanted to share... but haven’t.


    January 14 ~ March 19, 2011
    Tuesday - Saturday, 10am-4pm, Free and open to the public through the duration of the exhibition.212.206.5548

    For a complete list of artists and to view the exhibition on line, please visit: 

    Open House! Saturday, January 15, 2011


    January 15, 2011

    March 5th, 2011
    March 19th, 2011

    **Attendees will have their application fee reduced from $80 to $60! 

    This will be our most well-attended Open House yet, so please make sure to click here to register.
    The 2010-2011 Open House postcards feature recent graduate Tamiko Stump in the Academy printshop. (See post about the Academy's new Griffon Series I lithography press.) To request Open House postcards or electronic copies to distribute, please email admissions@nyaa.edu.

    It's not too late to stART...

    Continuing Education starts January 24. Space is limited - REGISTER NOW for classes in drawing, painting and sculpture along with special workshops. Start the year with Art- all levels welcome! Visit our website for more information.

    Landscape Painting


    Anatomy for Artists
    Sculpting the Figure
    Drawing & Painting: Theory & Practice
    Absolute Beginners Drawing & Painting
    Intermediate Drawing & Painting
    Landscape Painting
    Still Life Painting

    Thinking in Color


    Thinking in Color

    Portrait Sculpture


    Painting Studio
    Landscape Painting
    Academic Figure Drawing and Painting
    Portrait Sculpture

    Drawing & Painting Studio


    Drawing & Painting Studio

    Absolute Beginners Drawing & Painting
    Intermediate Drawing & Painting
    Ecorche of the Head

    Still Life Painting


    Drawing & Painting Studio

    Figure Drawing 101
    Painting the Figure
    Sculpting the Figure
    Still Life Painting

    Beginning Watercolors


    Painting the Figure

    Beginning Watercolors
    Bargue Method (Drawing)

    Bargue Method (Drawing)


    Friday Atelier
    Absolute Beginners Drawing & Painting
    Painting the Figure

    Alyssa Monks: Painting the Flesh - January 3-7 (FULL)
    Panni Malekzadeh: Painting the Clothed Figure - January 18-21 
    James Hoston: Long Pose - January 10-14 

    Please contact John Cichowski at 212 966 0300 x968 or johnc@nyaa.edu to reserve
    your spot now!

    Land Use Interpretation

    By Emily Adams (MFA 2011)

    A "sbloomberg" on Franklin Ave, Brooklyn
    The snow plow outside my apartment was stuck for two days. On the second day, a group of guys decided to build a "sbloomberg," a Bloomberg snowman, in front of the giant, frozen metal blade. As the uncollected trash formed adjacent mountains to the snow piles people dug around the sidewalk corners, kids went whizzing down Franklin Avenue on hot magenta plastic toboggans and groups of store owners and families gathered in groups to laugh and grumble at the various activities put on hold by mother nature. The landscape of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was drastically changed by this year’s Snowmageddon, and with it the entire culture of the neighborhood, if just for a day.
    This was only my second New York snow storm, and I’m sure it’s been superseded in years past, but I couldn’t help but think about the event in terms of landscape and landscape’s quiet foundation to our pedestrian, daily lives.

    I guess I’m thinking particularly of landscape in terms of cultural geography—the paths we carve out for ourselves to do what we do. In focusing on landscape in contemporary American art for my thesis, it has been revealing to look to artists for new definitions of what landscape can be and how it has been visualized. Artists like Christo/Jean Claude, Gordon Matta Clark, even James Turrell or Robert Smithson, work/ed in landscape, changing our paths, and coaxing us to look in directions different from our customary habit. The work seems to pose questions about the habits we form in landscape. Distraction sometimes becomes an element of investigation. To me, there is a close connection between these examples and the snowstorm’s aftermath.

    (my painting) Landscape Letter, oil, ink-jet on canvas, 2010
    My task is how to translate this way of working with landscape in painting. The pieces I showed for the midyear critiques were made with varying ‘tools of perspective’ - observational still-life on photographs. They’re fantasies in many ways, but also composed of symbols from veins in American natural and cultural history. Because much of my interest has been rooted in the landscape of the American West, I have recently been looking at the work that has come out of the Center for Land Use Interpretation, in addition to authors like Rebecca Solnit who explore the cultural history of landscape (her book, Savage Dreams, is a perfect example). Catching the recent Anselm Kiefer show at Gagosian has also provided some new food for thought on landscape-as-cultural-history.

    A view from the Kiefer show at Gagosian Gallery, Chelsea

    New Year, New York, New Media... NEW SCHOLARSHIP!


    The New Media Scholar Program is awarded to one entering MFA candidate who demonstrates strong web presence through the chronicling of the Academy’s MFA application process via new media mechanisms. The New Media Scholar receives $10,000 over two years in the form of tuition reduction. ...The student selected continues to document their first and second year experience as well as provide assistance with the use of new media to recruit prospective students and globally increase the Academy’s exposure. 
    Dear blog reader, will this be you? List your links here.*

    For more information and complete* application details for this exciting new scholarship, please visit our website.

    When is a failure not a failure?

    Dear friends,

    They say that if you are not failing you are not trying hard enough, and also that failing is good because then you can learn from your mistakes. But art is a subjective field – how do you tell if your work of art is a failure or not? My dealer Mary Boone considers every painting in an artist’s oeuvre to be an essential, even if it seems to come out of left field. Therefore, works of art that “fail” in fact are often stepping-stones to some of an artist’s best works.

    That may be true, but one of my unconventional techniques to “clear my head” and develop high quality new work has been – quite simply – to throw things away. Years ago, I was living in San Francisco and was working on a painting that I felt wasn’t coalescing. Though I’d spent months on it, I ended up leaving it on a sidewalk. Disposing of it completely left room for me to make my following painting, Shore Leave (2001) which is in the collection of the Whitney Museum. I also threw away another painting I wasn’t happy with in 2000, when I was living in Chelsea. I handed this painting to the porter of my apartment building, and he sad “nice painting” before flinging it in the dumpster. I was sad the painting failed, so I replaced it by painting Iowa Class (2003), in which a sailor stitches her own face after being wounded in the line of duty or perhaps a brawl (a painting I’m really proud of).

    Perhaps you don’t need to go to such extreme measures in clearing away the cobwebs. But sometimes bucking the conventional wisdom will allow you to open yourself up to possibility.

    Iowa Class, 14 x 22 inches, oil/linen, 2003, Mary Boone Gallery

    Shore Leave, 12 x 15.7 inches, oil on panel, 2001
    Yours very truly,
    Hilary Harkness