What is driving us to be creative?

It could be the view of a landscape, the look in one’s eyes or a phrase in a song, which triggers something in the soul to get active and to bring something new under the sun. What is driving us to create artworks? New evidence and theories in different disciplines like genetics and archaeology were found and provide a new platform for further examinations on this subject.

Venus Of Tan Tan created 400,000 Years Ago by Homo erectus

Researches with technologies like Uran-Thorbium as well as Radiocarbon dating of artifacts and cave paintings in Europe and North Africa leaves no doubt that Neanderthals shared symbolic thinking with early modern humans and that, as far as it can infer from material culture, Neanderthals and early modern humans were cognitively indistinguishable. Scientists suggest that the origins of language and the advanced cognition characteristic of extant humans may precede the period before the divergence of the Neanderthal lineage, more than half-a-million years ago. What does that mean? Products of creativity seem to be much older than we thought. These products were not exclusive to the significant sign of the modern homo sapiens any longer.

What is creativity standing for? It seems that the notion of “creativity” originated in Western culture through Christianity. God creates the universe, the earth, and all living creatures. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, creativity was the sole province of God; humans were not considered to have the ability to create something new except as an expression of God’s work. However, this is not creativity in the modern sense, which did not arise until the Renaissance when creativity was first seen, not as a conduit for the divine, but from the abilities of great men.

Michelangelo, the Creation of Adam (detail), Sistine Chapel 

Alfred North Whitehead was the first who coined the term “creativity” as part of his metaphysical categories while he was lecturing at the University of Edinburgh in 1927. Since these days, the term is receiving sustainable attention and got the subject of various research approaches. Essentially, most studies are about the essence of creativity, there are different forms of categorization, and there is an intense pedagogical interest in stabilizing creative impulses, as well as the sustainable promotion of creativity. The widely quoted Four C model of creativity distinguishes four areas of Mini-C, transformative learning, Little-C the area of everyday problem-solving and creative expression, Pro-C, which is about professional creativity, and finally the Big -C outstanding creativity in a given field. If the model also describes a sphere of creativity, it does not present any information about the necessary conditions for the emergence and possibly structuring of such processes.

Creativity as the ability to develop new and useful ideas is understood as the key driving force behind scientific, technological and cultural innovation. Therefore creativity and intelligence are closely related in recent research, and some tests have been developed for creativity based on intelligence tests. Now, the archaeological findings question this connection, for the Neanderthals have hitherto been considered less intelligent.

Research in the field of genetics has shown initial results in terms of convergent or, on the contrary, divergent thinking. Thus, there are genetic causes for both forms of thinking, which, however, may be influenced by other individual characteristics such as memory, openness to life, and external circumstances, even food. In the meantime, it must be regarded as proven that creativity is gender-independent. Overall, creativity seems to be the genetic engine of life, because even the simplest life forms develop amazing adaptability to solve even the most complex questions of their circumstances and environment.

City of Dusk No. 7 Architectural study about megacities in 2050

Could it be that artistic creation has emerged in a way yet to be clarified, as a by-product of evolution? It would not be surprising, because the growing up of living things to the witnessing and preservation of offspring depending on environment and predators always required mental flexibility and openness, as well as the fast and sustainable processing and memory of information. While optimally adapted life forms in the short- and medium-term had the best chance of survival of their species, less optimally adapted, more flexibly designed forms also succeeded in achieving long-term success. They were certainly ahead of their time in a sense. To be inventive and creative, to develop things that have not yet been done or thought of by others, is necessary for humanity to advance. Is that not what artists are doing?

By Dieter Hanf

Art and Science

Art and science are closely connected, both are human attempts to understand and describe the world around us. The two disciplines have always influenced each other. The person most people will be thinking of here is probably Leonardo da Vinci, who is known for his scientific research as well as his art. However, there are many famous examples. Dürer ’s celestial maps gained momentum as a scientific standard. Technological inventions have changed the way we make art. The birth of photography changed the way people painted, and indeed photography became an art form in its own right. Without the invention of the Paint Tube, impressionists wouldn’t have been able to paint ‘en plein air’. The invention of the circular-saw around the end of the 18th-century allowed Rietveld and the artists of the Bauhaus to cut straight lines. And steel I-beams allowed buildings to stand without columns. The invention of the computer changed creative production again. It caused a completely different way of making art in all its forms.

Artists always are using the latest innovations in science. Trying to explore the possibilities of new tools and materials. That’s because “Artists are trained to face novel problems.

David Hockney has always embraced modern inventions working with copy- and fax machines. He now makes drawings while still in bed after waking up in the morning on his iPad and iPhone. He sais; “Dawn is about luminosity and so is the iPhone. You can’t overwork this, because it’s not a real surface. In watercolor, for instance, about three layers are the maximum. Beyond that, it starts to get muddy. Here you can put anything on anything. You can put a bright, bright blue on top of an intense yellow.”


Scottish artist Beverley Hood looks at what effects technology has on the feeling of being alive and human. She is interested in the relationship between body and technology. She researches the impact of technology on human experience, bodies, and relationships. Her projects include interdisciplinary cooperation and performances using technology.

bs_jeans1German artist Holger Bär invented a painting-machine during his studies at the University of Wuppertal from 1986 to 1989. His technique of ‘digital painting‘ uses computer-generated templates that are transferred to the canvas by self-developed machines – pixel by pixel.  Bär’s work questions the uniqueness of artistic authorship. Bär is a painter of the 21st century and expresses himself in this context with contemporary means.

36889185_267235420748089_1435994428194947072_nBrussels based artist Patrick Tresset also uses robots and autonomous computational systems to make drawings and paintings. The robots use cameras to “see” their subjects and a mechanical arm to draw using a pen and paper. They are more than just coping machines, Tresset’s robots are designed with “autonomous artistic creativity”. Originally a painter he no longer uses his own hands to draw or paint, but still calls himself an artist. He is interested in how humans make marks and, depict other humans. Tresset has an MSc degree in Arts Computing from Goldsmiths and an MPhil in Arts and technology.

Screenshot 2019-10-28 at 16.23.40.pngJanet Saad-Cook invented new ways to create art from the reflection of sunlight. In collaboration with scientists, engineers, and architects she constructs structures. When sunlight touches these, light figures appear on the walls and ceiling. These ‘Sun Drawings‘ gradually change as the sunlight moves across the reflective sculptures. The light is broken into pure color by the multi-layered optical coatings. How she forms glass and metal determines the shapes and the type of coating the colors. She lectures and has delivered papers at scientific institutions like MIT and The Royal Institution.


Could machines make art without any human artist being involved? Images created by Artificial Intelligence have been around since Google’s pattern-finding software DeepDream. When an image is created by AI, can it still be considered art? Sofar the “artworks” produced by AI were neither aesthetically nor conceptually interesting. But this might change sooner than we think. Duchamp in the 1920s and Andy Warhol in the 1960s predicted the deauthorization of art, maybe we are finally getting there.




Frieze Masters 2019

Screenshot 2019-10-05 at 17.32.08Skarstedt Gallery
Booth F1

Works by Georg Baselitz, Eric Fischl, Keith Haring, Steven Parrino, Pablo Picasso, Sigmar Polke, David Salle, Cindy Sherman, Günther Uecker

Screenshot 2019-10-06 at 12.43.25Annely Juda Fine Art
Booth D4

Works by Kasimir Malevich, Julio González, Naum Gabo, Antoine Pevsner, Ben Nicholson, Theo Van Doesburg, Kurt Schwitters & Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart

Screenshot 2019-10-05 at 18.38.57.pngTina Kim Gallery
Booth C12

Works by LeeUfan, Park Seo Bo, Kim Yong Ik,  Kwon Young Woo,  Kim Tschang Yeul,  Lee Seung Jio, Suh Seung Won, Chung Sang Hwa, Ha Chong Hyun, Lucio Fontana, Pierre Jeanneret, Alexander Calder, Chung Chang Sup, and Louise Bourgeois

Screenshot 2019-10-06 at 09.35.00.pngVan Doren Waxter
Booth E11

works by Harvey Quaytman, John McLaughlin, Anne Truitt, Anne Truitt, Alan Shields, Dorothea Rockburne and Lee Krasner

Screenshot 2019-10-06 at 11.48.28Mazzoleni Art 
Booth E15

Works by Getulio Alviani, Agostino Bonalumi, Alberto Burri, Alexander Calder, Enrico Castellani, Lucio Fontana, Fausto Melotti, Giulio Turcato, Victor Vasarely and Gianfranco Zappettini


All-Women Art shows

It’s commonly observed that if you ask someone to name ten famous female artists, they struggle to do so. Lately, we have seen a significant rise in all-female art exhibitions. Still, there have seen far more all-male shows, but they were not presented as such. Do, however, shows made to support the sisterhood inadvertently risk ghettoizing female artists? Do they relegate women to the second-rate, not good enough to take part in mixed-gender exhibitions? Or are all-women shows are a necessary correction, after centuries of art exhibitions that featured only men? Women weren’t even allowed to make art for a very long time. The feminist art movement sought to change this and to promote women’s art in the 1960s and throughout the 1970s. And in the 8os the Guerrilla Girls tried to change the patriarchy in the art world.

Recently we have seen shows like the Nasty Women Art Show at the Knockdown Center, NSFW: Female Gaze at New York’s Museum of Sex, Champagne Life at the Saatchi gallery, GRAB BACK: PES Feminist Incubator Space at the Project for Empty Space and Feminine Product at THE VOID 3125c gallery Los Angeles.

There are also all-female art fairs like the Other art fair and Women in Art Fair. The EVERY WOMAN BIENNIAL or Whitney Houston Biennial is an all-woman and women-identified art biennial in NY and LA.

Shows like this bring awareness and celebration of women artists. Dr. Annemarie Murland, an Australian artist and academic, decided to curate an exhibition that highlights the lack of representation of women in the Arts. ‘Crack Open the Canon’ is being organized by Mel McMillan, Director of Newcastle ArtSpace, poet and academic, as well as University of Newcastle Associate Professor Trisha Pender and her colleague, Keri Glastonbury.

Annemarie Murland

There is more than one way to be a feminist, or as Caroline McHugh would say ‘a womanist’, in contemporary society. This analogy and a fierce belief in making ‘good art’ was the shared common thread that brought nineteen women artists together for the Reimagining the Canon exhibition. Shows like this are not devaluing or victimizing the artists but more embracing them. An exhibit of art made by women, rather than as a “female art exhibition.” It is about the work, and equal opportunities not about gender.

Helen Hopcroft

Dr. Murland says; “I wanted to create an exhibition that foregrounds the issue of gender inequality in visual art.” 51% of visual artists today are female, but only 5% of artwork in major museums is made by women. Just 25-35% of female artists are represented by a gallery. Men working in the arts earn on average $20,000 annually more than women.
“Why are women so often forgotten by art history?” Dr. Murland asks. “And what would the canon of art history look like if it was designed by female artists?”

Screenshot 2019-09-05 at 09.24.35.png
Lucy O’Donnell

Women deserve the same treatment as their male contemporaries. The work they make has no more to do with their gender than the work men make has to do theirs.

All women’s collectives like; Girls Only NYC, World Wide Women, Cleopatra’s, Balti Gurls,  m-a-u-s-e-r, Boudry and Lorenz, SALOON, The Bunny Collective, The Coven, Go! Push Pops, Where We At, The Ardorous and Esbat were formed to support and encourage individual artists not to identify the members as a “woman artist.”

Thus we have to be careful that creating these spaces and opportunities for women resulting in exactly the opposite of its intention? Good art and how it is produced, perceived and received within the wider community and an individual approach to making, should provide the benchmark for partaking in an exhibition.

See also: Gender quotas at the Royal Academy

Reimagining the Canon October 23 – 17 November 2019, The University of Newcastle Art Gallery, University Drive, Callaghan NSW 2308 Official opening Saturday 26 October at 4 pm, opening address delivered by Virginia Cuppaidge


Art and Humor

Art is supposed to be serious. Right? Wrong, art has always contained fun and jokes. But what is the role of humor in the contemporary art world? The fact is that it pops up everywhere in art today. Humorous art became widespread with Dadaism and the appearance of ready-mades. Thereby irreversibly changing art forever.  These artists tried to disrupt the social conventions of the intellectual, literary and artistic movements during the first world war. Screenshot 2019-08-18 at 17.29.33.pngMarcel Duchamp’s fountain shocked the (art) world by presenting a urinal as a work of art and drawing a mustache and goatee on the Mona Lisa and writing a rude pun underneath it. The Surrealists also used humorous provocation to shake up the art world. Making work of bizarre associations and incongruous combinations of objects. Both Dadaism and Surrealism made use of fun and games in their work. Playful Childish humor as a reaction to the misery of war.

Screenshot 2019-08-18 at 17.48.27.pngMéret Oppenheim’s fur-covered teacup, saucer, and spoon (Object – Le Déjeuner en fourrure / Object – The Luncheon in Fur) challenged themes of femininity. The work made after Pablo Picasso flirted with the 23-year artist in a Paris café. Commenting on the fur bracelet she was wearing. Saying that there were many things he enjoyed that were enhanced when coated in fur.

9_Ai-WeiweiIn contemporary art, satire is used to protest social or political issues. When countries censor criticism, provocation can be a way to express disagreement. World-famous Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei and Yue Minjun have used irony as a device for political criticism. Ai Weiwei made a series of photographs giving the finger to famous (inter)national landmarks.

Screenshot 2019-08-18 at 17.09.32.pngMaurizzio Cattelan did something similar in his, work L.O.V.E. (Libertà, Odio, Vendetta, Eternità /Freedom, Hate, Vengeance, Eternity). A hand with the middle finger standing up the other fingers are not folded but cut off.  It was placed opposite the headquarters of the Italian stock exchange

Artists often are part of institutions they rebuke. Poor artists have to go for meals at the house of a rich collector. They might not have anything in common with the people there and possibly even strongly disagree with them politically.

Humor and art both offer an escape from reality. Playing with the codes of society. Cynicism is used for socio-political criticism. Humor thus is not making light of artIt helps us to live in defiance of the depression around us. Humor works as a defense mechanism against anger, and despair. Comedians and artists have to understand what they are talking about to critique it.

Screenshot 2019-08-22 at 08.36.55.png
Sarah Lucas makes provocative works that often use rude visual humor. She plays with gender stereotypes with reference to the human body. From the 1992, ‘Two Fried Eggs and Kebab’, which resembled a naked female torso to stuffed pantyhose sculptures and concrete dicks. She constantly is challenging macho culture with confrontational, crude, vulgar and very honest work about sexuality and identity and taboos.

0000115445Martin Creed’s work might on first encounter appear very serious. His work is ordered and uncomplicated. An empty room with the lights going on and off at five-second intervals, a piece of blue tack stuck to a wall, a crumpled ball of paper or a video of someone being sick. To some people, he seems to embody everything that is preposterous about contemporary art. However, the work is incredibly poetic and he has a great sense of humor.

The British-Polish artist Kasia Fudakowski also uses a lot of humor in her work.
She has done a deliberately bad stand-up gig at an art fair, based on her own situation. The work involved a feminist critique of institutions and the difference between her personal expectations and those of society. Two of her greatest influences are comedian Andy Kaufman and conceptual artist Lee Lozano.


Instagram art

Instagram can be an extension of how an artist represents him or her self, but also as an extension of their art practice itself. Instagram seems to have managed to democratize the art world by allowing every artist the same chance of exposure. Artists now have new ways of seeing and creating the kind of content that might be shared. They can check in on how their content is being evaluated straight away. Is it the equivalent for the art world to what Spotify did for music and Netflix for the film industry? Thanks to the platform, artists have gotten book deals with prestigious publishers, solo shows, and made direct sales by DM. They get instant gratification when posting artwork and getting likes.  However, some say this spoils the work; it’s been seen too much. Some artists are also getting ripped off by other artists as well as corporate creatives and big fashion brands. Museums exhibitions are designed to spread well on social media. Instagrammability becomes more important. Successful Instagrammers are invited to take photos of the latest exhibitions to appeal to the younger generation. Some artists will just show their regular work while others make content just for the app. Anonymity can be an attraction for artists to try things they would not do under their own name, but censorship from Instagram can be a hindrance. When naked women’s breasts are involved, the image gets removed or the user blocked. Socio-political issues like body-shaming, racism, homophobia, climate change or species extinction are also tackled on Instagram. I have written about Feminist artists on social media before and I will feature some below again.
Photos of artworks are a big challenge for any Instagrammer, one has to “contextualize” the work. A frontal shot of a painting does not get enough likes. The image must have the “wow effect”.  Put it in relation to its surroundings, architecture or people. So that people can even recognize the dimensions of a work of art. Pictures of people in front of a work with the hashtag #artwatchers. Sometimes people seem to merge with the work because of there clothes or the pose they take. Art can be reduced to just a beautiful background for a selfie.
Many Big-name artists have embraced the medium. Cindy Sherman, who invented the selfie genre even before smartphones even existed has 261k followers. Ai Weiwei has 518k followers, Martin Creed, 1.2k
and Jeff Koons has 341k followers. When Banksy (6.2m followers) automatically shredded his image in the frame after the auction he announced this first on Instagram. They all do not just show on Instagram, they play with the self-presentation and their works.
And sometimes Instagram art makes it back into the physical space. Controversially Richard Prince blew up screenshots of other people’s Instagrams and showed them under the title “New Portraits” at  Frieze Art Fair New York in 2015.
Here are some examples of different kind of accounts I have talked about.   
Ai Weiwei does not show his work on Instagram, but migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos or a video of the destruction of his Beijing studio.
Martin Creed has very short videos and funny images of himself on his personal account and sometimes of his work too.
Cindy Sherman has been using Instagram to show images, unlike anything she has created in her long and successful career so far.
After Petra Collins Instagram account was removed when she posted an unwaxed in a bikini selfie she wrote an essay, speaking out against misogyny.
Kliu Wong account consists of colorful paintings, illustrations, zines, murals dolls and items of clothing.
Anabel Venegas and Tina Maria Elena Bak show their erotic watercolors and drawings and sell directly via DM or webshop.
Jordan Watson aka. Love Watts shows a mixture of art in all its forms.
Martin Skauen Martymixx on Instagram makes cartoons and animations.
What images want challenges the presentation and perception of art, creating an immersive experience beyond the exhibition.
no.projekt might not be a project but is an intriguing account that can be seen as an artwork in itself.
Witte Wartena shows mainly his newest work with occasional making of videos and photos and sometimes his reference material.
Daniel Rueda + Anna Devís interact with art and architecture in beautiful and funny ways.
Stefan Draschan photographs people in museums looking at art that mimic the work in some way or another.
Frida Orupabo showed a nine-channel installation at the Venice Biennale based on her Instagramming. Probably the first Instagram work was shown at such an important art Exhibition.

Art Basel 2019

Screenshot 2019-06-13 at 10.48.02.png
Booth E5
Works by Daniel Buren, Julie  Mehretu and Richard Serra

Galerie Michael Haas
Booth F4

Works by Paula Modersohn Becker, Jean Fautrier, Pablo Picasso, Anselm Kiefer, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Eva Aeppli Antonita Pies, and Jean Miro

Screenshot 2019-06-13 at 11.28.48.pngStephen Friedman gallery

Booth K4

Works by Mamma Andersson, Melvin Edwards, Andreas Eriksson, Denzil Forrester, Tom Friedman, Wayne Gonzales, Jim Hodges, Deborah Roberts, Yinka Shonibare, Jiro Takamatsu, Kehinde Wiley, and Luiz Zerbini.

Screenshot 2019-06-13 at 11.48.41P.P.O.W. gallery
Booth D7

Work by Betty Tompkins, Carolee Schneemann, David Wojnarowicz, and Robin F. Williams


Andrea Bowers Open Secret (2018)
Kaufmann Repetto, Andrew Kreps, and Susanne Vielmetter
Unlimited U62

Writer and marketing Helen Donahue tweeted that Bowers did not have permission to use her photo in this installation. The work includes details about recent accusations of sexual harassment and assaults recording the evolution of #MeToo and Time’s Up.

Bowers replaced Donahue’s photos with one focused on David Blaine. In a statement, Bowers said, “I, Andrea Bowers would like to apologize to the survivor whose image was included in my piece. I should have asked for her consent. She has asked that the panel including her photo be removed and I have honored the request. I have reached out privately and am very much looking forward to listening.”