ART-O-MAT: Pocket Art

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Many art lovers simply don’t have the budget to purchase original works of art.  Enter the Art-O-Mat – re-purposed cigarette vending machines that have been converted to sell pocket size original works of art.

North Carolina artist Clark Whittington created the first Art-O-Mat in 1997 which he showed along side his paintings at a solo show at a local cafe. The machine sold his black & white photographs for $1.00 each. The art show was scheduled to close, however, the owner of the Penny Universitie Gallery, Cynthia Giles, loved the Art-O-Mat and asked that it stay.  It remains in its original location to this day. Following the show, the involvement of other artists was necessary for the project to continue. Giles introduced Whittington to other local artists and the group “Artists in Cellophane” was formed.

“Artists in Cellophane (A.I.C.), the sponsoring organization of Art-O-Mat is based on the concept of taking art and “repackaging” it to make it part of our daily lives. The mission of A.I.C. is to encourage art consumption by combining the worlds of art and commerce in an innovative form. A.I.C believes that art should be progressive, yet personal and approachable.”

The Art-O-Mat dispenses original art-works and may include paintings, photographs, sculpture, collage, illustration, handmade jewellery, textile arts, and more. There are 82 machines in at least 28 American States, one in Quebec, Canada, and one in Vienna, Austria. There are around 400 contributing artists from 10 different countries currently involved in the Art-o-mat project.

For more information, to get involved, or to find an Art-O-Mat near you, visit

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Henry Moore: 1898 – 1986

Recognized as the most important British sculptor of the 20th century, Henry Spencer Moore was born on July 30, 1898, in Castleford, Yorkshire. Moore had an early interest in sculpting however he began his career as a teacher in Castleford. After serving in the military during World War I, Moore studied at Leeds School of Art on an ex-serviceman’s grant. In 1921 he won a Royal Exhibition Scholarship to study sculpture at the Royal Academy of Art in London.  Between 1924 – 1931 Moore was an Instructor of Sculpture at the Royal Academy. His first solo exhibition was held at the Warren Gallery, London, in 1928

“Throughout his life Moore’s appetite for the history of world sculpture was insatiable. Drawings of sculptures in his early sketchbooks indicate that Palaeolithic fertility goddesses, Cycladic and early Greek art, Sumerian, Egyptian and Etruscan sculpture, African, Oceanic, Peruvian and Pre-Columbian sculpture particularly interested him.  Moore believed passionately in direct carving and in ‘truth to materials’, respecting the inherent character of stone or wood. Almost all of his works from the 1920s and 1930s were carved sculptures, initially inspired by Pre-Columbian stone carving.” (MoMa)

Moore married Irina Radetsky in 1929. A student of painting at the Royal College, she would be Moore’s model for a series of life drawings over a six year period.

Moore’s sculpture of the 1930s was influenced by the work of Picasso, Hans Arp and Alberto Giacometti. “The subject-matter of Moore’s work of 1932–6 is, in some cases, no longer readily identifiable, although the human, psychological element informs even the seemingly abstract work of the 1930s.”

In the 1930s Moore was a member of Unit One, a group of artists lead by English landscape painter Paul Nash. From 1932 to 1939 he taught at the Chelsea School of Art. Moore was “an important force in the English Surrealist movement, although he was not entirely committed to its doctrines; Moore participated in the International Surrealist Exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries, London, in 1936.”

In 1940 Moore was appointed an official war artist and was commissioned by the War Artists Advisory Committee to execute drawings of life in underground bomb shelters. From 1940 to 1943 he focused almost entirely on drawing. His first retrospective took place at Temple Newsam, Leeds, in 1941 and he was given his first major retrospective in the United States by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1946. Moore won the International Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale of 1948.

Moore’s bronze Reclining Figure commissioned by the Arts Council for the Festival of Britain in 1951 was key in Moore’s development. “Previously the holes in his sculptures were dominated by the solid forms surrounding them but here ‘the space and the form are completely dependent on and inseparable from each other’ His work became less frontal and more completely three-dimensional. The reclining figure and the mother and child remained the dominant subjects of his sculpture.”

After the mid-1950s,  many of Moore’s sculptures were made from natural objects including bones, shells, pebbles and flint stones.

Until the mid-1950s Moore made numerous preparatory drawings for his sculptures as well as pictorial studies of interiors and sculptures in landscape settings. He drew little between 1955 and 1970 but during the last 15 years of his life, he devoted more of his time to drawing  for pleasure,  independent of his sculpture. He first made prints in 1931, and he experimented with a process he called collograph. By the end of his life Moore had produced 719 prints.

“Moore executed several important public commissions in the 1950s, among them Reclining Figure, 1956–58, for the UNESCO Building in Paris. In 1963 the artist was awarded the British Order of Merit. In the 1970s there were many major exhibitions of Moore’s work, the finest being at Forte di Belvedere, overlooking Florence (1972). The Henry Moore Sculpture Centre in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, opened in 1974. It comprises the world’s largest public collection of Moore’s work, most of it donated by him between 1971 and 1974. In 1977 the Henry Moore Foundation was established at Much Hadham, and Moore presented 36 sculptures to the Tate Gallery in 1978.”

Henry Moore died in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, on August 31, 1986.

Sources: Guggenheim, MoMA, Wikimedia Commons (images), Tate,  Oval With Points Photo by Maia C

Canada Day: Canadian Art

Happy Canada Day all you Canucks and friends of Canucks out there! In celebration of Canada’s National Day, DAF presents another collection of work from well known (and not so well known) Canadian artists.  If you have any suggestions for next year, feel free to email

Salvador Dali: 1904 – 1989

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marquis of Dalí de Púbol was born on May 11, 1904 in Figueres, Spain near the French border.  A painter, draughtsman, illustrator, sculptor, writer and film maker, Dali was one of the most prolific, flamboyant, and well known artists of the 20th century.

He was a student at the San Fernando Academy of fine Arts in Madrid but was expelled for encouraging students to rebel and for withdrawing from an exam because he said the teachers were not qualified to judge his work.

Dali quickly gained recognition in 1925 after a solo show in Barcelona, in 1928 when his works were shown at the Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh, and in 1929 when he held his first solo show in Paris.  It was at this time that Dali joined the ranks of the surrealists and met his future wife, Gala Eluard.

“The Persistence of Memory” was painted in 1931 after seeing some Camembert cheese melting in the heat on a hot summer day. Later that night, he dreamt of clocks melting on a landscape.  The small work (24 cm x 33 cm) is one of the most famous of the surrealist paintings. During this time and inspired by Freud, Dali used his “paranoiac-critical method” to create his art.

During the 1930s Dalí’s political indifference alienated him from the other Surrealists who were mainly leftist. In 1937 he painted an unusual series of Adolf Hitler that were considered to be in bad taste and partly led to his expulsion from the movement.

Salvador and Gala spent World War II in the United States, where he became a popular figure. He painted portraits, dressed shop windows, created a dream sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Spellbound” and created a cartoon, “Destino”, with Walt Disney.

Dalí returned to Europe in 1948 and was completely disconnected from Surrealism. He painted mainly in Spain, with an eclectic approach focusing on history, religion, and science.  Dalí created over 1,500 paintings in his career as well as illustrations for books, lithographs, designs for theatre sets and costumes, numerous drawings,  sculptures, and various other projects.

Dali was greatly affected by the death of his wife Gala in 1982. After that time, he lost much of his passion for life, his health began to fail, and he painted very little.  On January 23, 1989, at the age of 84, Salvador Dali died from heart failure with respiratory complications. He is buried in his Theater Museum in Figueres.

For a full biography of Salvador Dali, see the source links below.

Sources: MOMA, Salvador Dali Museum, Wikipedia

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