Weekly Update: Bathing in Art History Edition

What we were reading on the internet this week, from the story of the last Blockbuster video store, to a deep dive into depictions of bathers in painting.


Our Weekly Update is here to bring you our favorite links from the past week: art and design news you might have missed, must-see stories, and the best new contests and calls for entry.

Why is art history full of people taking baths?

A question you’ve maybe never asked, but the answer is fascinating. Artsy takes a close look at the significance of bathing throughout the history of painting:

“In 18th- and 19th-century France, painters like François Boucher, J.A.D. Ingres, and Eugène Delacroix cast off the classical and biblical associations of the bathing scene and began to use it as a means of presenting the nude in a more naturalistic way. As the century progressed, however, running water became an increasingly ubiquitous feature in bourgeois homes, a sign of modernity that chimed with the birth pangs of modern art. The bather in painting—so often depicted en plein air before, dipping in ponds or streams—retreated indoors, taking on a whole new character.”

Portrait of Britain shortlist announced

British Journal of Photography has announced the shortlisted images for their Portrait of Britain contest. The final 100 winning photographers will be announced next month, but for now you can see the shortlist at their website:

“Portrait of Britain winners will have their work exhibited on JCDecaux screens nationwide, on bus stops, high streets and in train stations, as part of the biggest exhibition of contemporary portraiture ever held.”

Juergen Teller accused of taking a little too much inspiration from Mickalene Thomas

In a Vogue photoshoot, the German photographer has been called out for rather closely referencing the work of American artist Mickalene Thomas. To make things more awkward, both artists are represented by the same gallery. Hyperallergic reports:

“Controversy unfolded on Twitter over the weekend as users noticed a striking similarity between photographer Juergen Teller’s months-old Rihanna photoshoot for Vogue Paris and the signature aesthetic of artist Mickalene Thomas. The issue here seems more than pure coincidence; both artists are represented by the same gallery, Lehmann Maupin, making it highly unlikely that Teller could plead ignorance to appropriating Thomas’ style.”

On making the same painting over and over

The Creative Independent’s ongoing advice column features creative questions answered by different artists. This week’s question is well worth a read, with an insightful response from visual artist Lisa Yuskavage:

“Do I need to make the same painting over and over again in order to be successful? I often hear this sentiment but I am not convinced, although I’m sure there has to be some truth to it. Does a deeper exploration of one idea prove more fruitful or does it become stifling? How to people stay focused on one idea without burning out?”

In Alaska, the end of Blockbuster is here

Most of us in North America probably think of Blockbuster as a relic of the not-so-distant past. But in Alaska, where many don’t have strong internet access, an offshoot of the iconic video store chain was still going strong many years after the rest of the company shuttered. In The Ringer, Justin Heckert investigates the last days of the video store that was beloved by so many:

“It was hard to remember exactly what it had been like to rent a movie. What it felt like on a Friday or Saturday night, hoping all the copies in the NEW RELEASE section weren’t already gone. What it felt like to run into people, the serendipity of movie store as gathering spot, what it felt like to stand around the counter and listen to the banter of the staff, who knew each other’s tastes, and peccadillos. The slogans that were everywhere — MAKE IT A BLOCKBUSTER NIGHT! — on walls and the desks and dangling on string from the overhead tiles.”

Call for entry: A roundup from Creative Capital

The Creative Capital blog has just shared a super useful, extensive list of artist opportunities with upcoming deadlines in August and September. It’s well worth taking a look at these residencies and calls for proposal now so you have lots of time to start putting together applications. This roundup includes opportunities in Germany, United Arab Emirates, Spain, across the United States, and more. Take a look.

Cover image: Paul Cézanne, The Large Bathers, 1900–06. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Via Artsy.

Have a tip or call for entry to share? Did you write an article or publish a project that you think we’d like? Let us know.

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