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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Balloon Art

copyright, Jim Lane            
A balloon artist aboard the Oasis of the Seas, 2010, handing out her creative gifts.
Is there nothing on earth that some artistic individual cannot magically touch with his or her creative genius and instantly turn into art? From the rostrum of this communications forum I've orated on art made of ice (04-01-13), snow (07-20-13), Legos(07-07-13), food (01-13-11), shrubbery (04-27-13), fingernails (06-01-13), and probably a few others that don't come pouring off the top of my head at the moment. Now, about those colorful, elongated, latex thingies where you turn blue orally inflating them with the ever-present risk that they might literally blow up in your face. I suppose there has been balloon art almost as long as there have been balloons. Perhaps the least of his many other scientific discoveries and inventions, British chemist, Michael Faraday is credited with having invented the rubber balloon in 1824. There's no indication he ever twisted them into cute little critters, though.
Balloon Dog (Magenta), 2006,
Jeff Koons, as exhibited at
Versailles. Despite the title, it's
not a balloon.
History doesn't recall who may have been the first "artist" to twist Faraday's rubber bladders into delightful children's toys, but it wasn't Jeff Koons. Besides, Koons creations are, in fact as well as in concept, intentionally imitative studies in banality (right). Moreover, they're actually made of high chromium stainless steel and are not, in fact, inflated at all. Therefore, despite his titles, Jeff Koons is not a balloon artist. Anyway, most such artists are far more skilled and creative. Forget rubber doggies. Forget clowns' handiworks or cruise ship entertainers handing out similar balloon toys to bored pre-teens (top). Balloon art has progressed way past the novelty stage into a respected art form (just don't ever call it "pop" art).

The Airigami version of
VVermeer's masterpiece

Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle of Airigami, use balloons to recreate painting masterpieces such as Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring (left). Others have depicted such famous ladies of art as the Mona Lisa and Whistler's iconic mother. Additionally artists and designers have utilized balloons in the creation of dresses, furniture, combat weapons, and various eccentric and eclectic modes of transportation. As fascinating as all these might be, the real art genius in balloon art is not imitating other great art or unusable human accessories. Pure art--great art--enlightens, entertains, inspires, and uplifts (especially when filled with helium). The best balloon art does all of these.

Pisces, 2013, Jason Hackenwerth
Jason Hackenwerth does all of that with 10,000 balloons as he interprets the Greek legend of Aphrodite through his abstract sculptural installation titled Pisces (above), which he displayed earlier this year at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Balloon artist, William Forsythe, chose to simply create an otherworldly environmental piece with his Scattered Crowd (bottom). He incorporates circulating air, music, dancers, and the viewers themselves into his European traveling show. Balloon art is, literally, a subject to be taken lightly, whether profound, imitative, whimsical, decorative, or a child's plaything. The best part is, this art takes only minutes to learn but years to master...that and a steady supply of deep breaths.

Scattered Crowd, 2002-13, William Forsythe (traveling show)


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