Welcome to The Lonely Palette, the podcast that returns art history to the masses, one painting at a time. Each episode, host Tamar Avishai picks a painting du jour, interviews unsuspecting museum visitors in front of it, and then dives deeply into the object, the movement, the social context, and anything and everything else that will make it as neat to you as it is to her. For more information, visit thelonelypalette.com | Twitter @lonelypalette | Instagram @thelonelypalette.
BonusEp 0.4: Tamar Avishai interviews Ralph Steadman
You’ve seen the work of 84-year-old Welsh artist and illustrator Ralph Steadman, even if you haven’t realized it. His searing political caricature and trademark flying ink spatter have illustrated major works of literature and journalism for the past half-century – and most notably the hallucinogenic writing of Hunter S. Thompson, resulting in an alchemic collaboration that wove together journalism and illustration to create what history has described as Gonzo, and what Steadman calls the meeting between an ex-Hell’s Angel with a shaved head and a matted-haired geek with string warts.
We spoke in advance of his new retrospective, “Ralph Steadman: A Life in Ink,” and talked about this storied, ink-stained career: what it means to illustrate depravity, how a caricature can capture both body and soul, and where to look for the ever-present birdsong that undergirds our current doom.
[2:18]: Love of Picasso and Duchamp.
[3:11]: Where do you start with caricature, the body or the soul?
[5:40]: Drawing with a pen – “no such thing as a mistake.”
[7:09]: The difference between illustration and “fine art”.
[9:55]: Use of the geometric in Steadman’s work, ink spatter, a conversation with the paper.
[13:10]: Coming to the U.S. in 1970, David Hockney “Paranoids”.
[14:30]: Use of photographs and text in drawing.
[15:15]: I, Leonardo, the terror of the blank canvas, and “prorogation”.
[17:53]: Style, “exposing depravity” and being purified by drawing it.
[22:33]: Early career before collaborating with Hunter S. Thompson, alchemy, gonzo.
[29:08]: Favorite faces to draw.
[30:48]: 2020, the pandemic, and finding the birdsong in doom.
The Blue Dot Sessions, "Crumbtown"
Support the Show:
Ep. 50 - Carrie Mae Weems' "Not Manet's Type" (1997)
To appreciate art history is to appreciate that there is a canon: it is constructed by art historians, it guides what is taught, bought, and collected by art museums, it can’t allow people in without keeping other people out. Let's take advantage of this milestone episode (50!!) to explore both this canon and our current moment through the extraordinarily nuanced, compassionate, and revolutionary eye of Carrie Mae Weems.
See the images:
Django Reinhardt, “Django’s Tiger”
The Blue Dot Sessions, “Jumbel,” “Turning to You,” “Pastel de Nata,” “Junca,” “Min,” “Basketliner”
Support the show:
BonusEp 0.3: Tamar Avishai interviews The Guerrilla Girls
The Guerrilla Girls, the self-professed "Conscience of the Art World," are a band of feminist activist artists, who have been wearing gorilla masks in public and using facts, humor, and outrageous visuals to expose gender bias, ethnic bias, and corruption in the art world since the mid-1980s. Join Tamar for a conversation with two of their founding members.
[3:41] Why choose these artists as your pseudonyms?
[5:37]: The origin story of the Guerrilla Girls (and their font!).
[8:17]: How has the group changed and evolved, both internally and in terms of its mission? Has progress been made?
[15:49]: The joys and pitfalls of all-women shows. Is “woman artist” a problematic phrase?
[23:18]: Is there something that innately connects women artists?
[27:43]: Reflecting on our inflamed current moment, and whether things are indeed getting better.
[34:33]: How do we get people excited about artists they’re not familiar with, and who fall outside the established canon?
[38:16]: How to reach out to people who disagree with you.
[42:47]: How the Guerrilla Girls changed the rules for artists who came after them.
Follow the Guerrilla Girls:
The Blue Dot Sessions, "Pinky"
Ep. 49 - Claes Oldenburg's "Giant Toothpaste Tube" (1964)
Somewhere between the life of the mind and the boots on the ground sits Pop artist Claes Oldenburg, who wants us to see that both of those worlds are one and the same, and that there's value, and even beauty, to our joy-sparking stuff (and maybe we can finally let ourselves admit it.)
See the images:
Django Reinhardt, “Django’s Tiger”
The Andrews Sisters, "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen"
The Blue Dot Sessions, “Cradle Rock,” “Sylvestor,” “A Little Powder,” “Our Only Lark,” “Town Market,” “Contrarian,” “The Rampart”
Joe Dassin, “Les Champs-Elysees"
Support the show!
Ep. 48 - Anselm Kiefer's "Margarete" and "Sulamith" (1981)
The art of postwar German artist Anselm Kiefer and the poetry of Holocaust survivor Paul Celan have a lot in common. They’re both layered, dense, hard to read, and most of the time you’re not quite sure if you get it. And while this might seem like an onerous way to understand history, sometimes the best starting point is through the layered, dense, and idiosyncratic ways that an individual processes trauma. So grab a spelunking hardhat and together we'll mine these layers of metaphor and materials, texture and text, golden straw and blackened ash, that comprise the unimaginable.
This episode was produced with support from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Learn more at www.sfmoma.com.
See the images:
The Blue Dot Sessions, “The Bus at Dawn,” “Silky,” Drone Pine,” “Tiny Bottles,” “Inamorata,” “Tapoco,” “The Summit,” “Cirrus,” “Derailed,” “Insatiable Toad,” “Dolly and Pad,” “A Pleasant Strike”
John Williams, performed by Itzhak Perlman & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, “Theme from Schindler’s List”
Support the show:
Re-ReleaseEp. - Keepers of the Culture: an Evening with Ekua Holmes and Dr. Barry Gaither
In honor of Juneteenth, we're re-releasing the audio of a live event from January 2018 at the PRX Podcast Garage, titled "Keepers of the Culture: A Celebration Of Maduna And Holmes." The evening was a celebration of two award-winning artists, collaborators, and friends, whose work was on display at the garage's exhibition space. Their sculptures, masks, and collage-based works are an exploration of ancestral voices, family histories, and the power of hope, faith and self-determination.
The evening was divided into two parts: a conversation between Ekua and Tamar, which included audio produced around Ekua's collage, "All Fly Home," and an exploration of interpretation and storytelling - as applicable to art as it is to podcasting. The second part was a powerful lecture by art historian Barry Gaither, on Vuzi's work, Ekua's work, and the myriad roles artists and viewers have the joy and the responsibility of playing for and with one another.
Ekua Holmes is a painter and collage artist who uses news clippings, photographs, vibrant color, and skillful composition to infuse her work with energy. Her layered, abstract creations convey a sense of unity and evoke memories that are both personal and universal. In her collages, she revisits the joy and challenges of childhood through adult eyes. These works reexamine the foundational relationships, games, and rule that we learn at an early age and apply throughout our lives.
Vuzi Maduna (1940 - 2007) was a sculptor and painter who spent much of his life as an artist resident of the Gallery at the Piano Factory in Boston. Maduna began his exploration of African culture with a study of African religions which led him to further examine and interpret the traditional embodiment of belief and myth. Educated at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, he was a member of the African American Master Artists in Residency Program of Northeastern University. His work has been exhibited in the MFA and the ICA, as well as in Tokyo and the People’s Republic of China. Yet Maduna returned to the neighborhoods of his childhood to create pieces that remind us of the African heritage that many in the community share. His public installations are located in Cambridge (the Margaret Fuller House, the Cambridge Community Center, The King School) and in the Boston area, including The Judge, in Roxbury.
Edmund Barry Gaither is the founding Director and Curator of the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA), an organization that he developed from a concept to an institution with collections exceeding three thousand objects and a thirty-two year history of exhibitions celebrating the visual arts heritage of black people worldwide. Gaither is also Special Consultant at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston where he has served as curator for eight exhibitions including a ground breaking show in l970, Afro-American Artists: New York and Boston.
Special thanks to Kerri Hoffman and PRX, Alex Braunstein and the PRX Podcast Garage, Gina James, and WGBH.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Love it! But please speak louder?
Best Art Podcast Ever!
I came across this podcast as a feature in a newspaper article. Been addicted since then.
I’ve been wanting to learn about different art pieces and art history but found most information complicated.
Tamar Avishai truly brings art history to the masses. So well explained without personal biases. Easy to follow and simply fun to listen to.
Just love it!