“Man Made” and Mass Produced: How Stephen Burks Squares the Circle

Stephen Burks | Photo portrait: Rainer Hosch, 2012. Other photos by JPG Photography unless otherwise noted

Stephen Burks | Photo portrait: Rainer Hosch, 2012. Other photos by JPG Photography

According to Stephen Burks, design as we know it is a fundamentally Western concept.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s no design outside the West.

“In other places in the world, people solve problems, people make beautiful things, people manipulate material for the betterment of humanity, passionately, every day,” he says. “It’s part of life, and it’s always been part of life. Everyone is capable of design.

“And I think the more we recognize that, the more space we can create [for the rest of the world] in what is traditionally a European narrative.”

This insight, which Burks first gained on a trip to South Africa in 2005, has informed everything Stephen Burks Man Made produces. What may be equally notable is that he got one of the pillars of French high-end design to buy into it too. Read more »

Philly’s Rock Star of Art

Da Corte in his Juniata studio | Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

Da Corte in his Juniata studio | Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

Outside a leaky old candy factory in Juniata, the season’s first snowstorm is caking the sidewalk in slush. A fire-engine-red door opens with the push of a tattooed hand belonging to artist Alex Da Corte. He ushers me inside a cavernous space the size of a basketball court, past a series of installations in mid-assembly, up a flight of stairs, and into a room that has the makings of a David Lynch dream sequence. There’s a bushy-tailed dog ablaze in peach-hued sunlight, propped up on all fours, staring at me from the perch of a plywood table. It’s stiff as the Sphinx. “That’s Nicole Brown Simpson’s Akita. It’s the dog they say found the bodies,” Da Corte explains, showing me its scraggily wire innards with gleeful delight. The pup will soon be placed on a mechanical track and rotate in circles, as if searching for something. To add a touch of dementedness, Da Corte has adorned the replica with a rubber Halloween dog mask. The dog is wearing a dog mask. “It’s maniacal,” Da Corte says. “It’s just not right.”

Photos after the jump »

Art Museum Painting Removed from Facebook for “Suggestive Content”

Collection of Serge Goisse, Belgium

Collection of Serge Goisse, Belgium

The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s International Pop exhibition starts on February 24th. To promote it, an Art Museum staffer posted the image above — Belgian artist Evelyne Axell’s 1964 painting “Ice Cream” — on Facebook. It’s on loan to the PMA from the Collection of Serge Goisse.

Per the Art Museum, it was removed from the site for “containing excessive amounts of skin or suggestive content.” The Art Museum has since reposted the painting with a note. Read more »

Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show

Marta Adelson, Robert and Penny Fox with John Binswanger

Marta Adelson, Robert and Penny Fox with John Binswanger

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show kicked off its 39th year with a glitzy gala on Wednesday night. Ellen Caplan, chair of this year’s show, welcomed guests to the event before introducing Timothy Rub, the museum’s CEO. He presented the 2015 Craft Show Awards to 10 of the outstanding artists participating in the show, determined by a panel of judges. Each winner received $1,000 from the sponsor of each individual award, with the Best of Show winner — Agnieszka Winograd, a jewelry designer — receiving $1,500. Presented by The Women’s Committee and The Craft Show Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the craft show is the single largest fund-raiser for the museum. More 1,000 applicants apply to show at the annual event, but only 195 are chosen. Proceeds from the show support educational programs and exhibitions and fund purchases of art and contemporary crafts for the permanent collection. To date, the committee has raised over $10.9 million for the museum. The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is at the Pennsylvania Convention Center through Sunday.

Photos after the jump »

The 15 Essential Paintings in PMA’s New American Still Life Exhibition

If you’re an impatient type of person or easily bewildered in art museums, we’ve made things easy for you — with the help of Kathy Foster, head of the American Art Department at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We’ve assembled a list of the essential works to seek out at the Art Museum’s recently opened major exhibition, “Audubon to Warhol: The Art of American Still Life,” which explores the tradition of American still-life painting. Nearly 100 artists are represented — from the Philadelphia Peale family of the late 18th century to 20th-century pop icons Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. The exhibit is an abundant feast for the eye. Here are our essential 15, with images when they were available.

Venus Rising From the Sea — A Deception (1822), Raphaelle Peale


The Peales were a Philadelphia family of artists and naturalists who created their own museum here. The father, Charles Willson Peale, an artist himself, wasn’t taking any chances about the future careers of his sons and named them accordingly: Rembrandt, Raphaelle, Titian and Rubens. Raphaelle committed himself to the still life genre that examined objects and our relationship to the material world — much to the displeasure of his father who would have preferred he take up the more illustrious narrative painting to teach morality. This painting is a beguiling trompe l’œil, depicting a coy conceptual deception. The painted handkerchief appears to be placed on the artist’s easel to block the image behind it of a nude Venus. Peale has even painted the Venus in a different style from the handkerchief superimposed in front. All we can see peeking out from behind the handkerchief is a slender foot below and a delicate hand above. The picture conveys the idea of temptation and attempts to entice you into the picture. It is a perfect welcoming painting to begin the exhibition.

Read more »

Robert Indiana’s AMOR Sculpture Unveiled on Art Museum Steps

Going with the idea of our city being on a world stage while Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families are in town this week, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Association for Public Art will unveil a Spanish/Latin edition of Robert Indiana’s famous Love statue on Tuesday morning. This one reads in similarly designed, red, six-foot-high, aluminum letters: Amor.

Placed prominently on the east terrace, the Spanish/Latin version of the culturally iconic pop sculpture is sure to photo-bomb its way into lots of the papal coverage during this week’s festivities with its message of red-hot love. It faces the parkway toward its english-speaking counterpart, Indiana’s Love sculpture, in JFK Plaza, (aka Love Park), across from City Hall.

Read more »

84-Year-Old Philly-Born Photographer, Dave Heath, Finally Gets His Due

"Drowning Scene," Central Park, New York City, 1957, by Dave Heath (The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

“Drowning Scene,” Central Park, New York City, 1957, by Dave Heath (The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation)

Photographer Dave Heath’s start in life wasn’t easy, but maybe it provides a clue to understanding his soulful, empathetic and moving body of work, on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art beginning this Saturday, September 19. When you look at the work, the loneliness and gentle observation clearly stand out as artistic motifs. His black-and-white photographs are gorgeous and stark, and yet so deeply human that they easily connect the viewer to subject. Heath taps into our collective identification with times of loneliness, self-absorption and longing. These images are not ironic. There’s no arch cleverness. And that’s one of the strongest qualities of this work. Read more »

Stephen Starr Sells Catering Arm

starr events philadelphia museum of art steve legato 400

Starr Catering at the Philadelphia Museum of Art | Photo by Steve Legato

Stephen Starr has sold his Starr Events catering division – a $40 million business – to TrustHouse Services.

The deal gives TrustHouse, a top-six contract food service company in the United States, a firm foothold in Philadelphia, New York and Miami.

Starr Restaurant Catering Group will continue operating under the Starr Catering banner and will be continue to be led by Simon Powles, who was a co-founder in Starr’s catering arm back in 2007.

Starr Catering is the exclusive catering partner of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, New York’s Carnegie Hall and a host of other venues in New York, Philadelphia and Miami.

For more on the business end of the deal, check out our sister site, BizPhilly.

Stephen Starr Sells Catering Group [Biz Philly]

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