Since 2014・Volume 7
illustration by Susan May for The Ballpointer
Missing the Ball Point
Dimes-to-donuts there's a ballpoint pen within reach of you right now. Reliable friends, always there when you need them; on standby to scratch a Hitler mustache onto The President or blacken the teeth of the covergirl dujour. Your grade-school composition books were probably filled with more stream-of-conscious creative filler than actual studies. But this proletarian tool is no longer just for signing checks, writing postcards or doodling sweet nothings.
The origins of ballpoint artwork echo the humble origins of art itself. Caveman roots; the universal, instinctive urge to create. For some, an irresistible force; to express oneself, to leave one's mark, to teach, using whatever tools are available. All that's necessary is the will to do so, pressed by a bit of creative curiosity, aided by ingenuity. ''Let's see what happens when I do this.'' Galleries, museums and art critics enter the equation much later.
There you sit, a dozen-thousand years later, surfing through the daily barrage of viral news. A headline grabs you: Starving Artist Illustrates The Bible on his Bedroom Wall Using Ballpoint Pens. Well, ''starving artist '' doesn't mean much anymore; with the amount of aspiring artists art schools churn out every year its a miracle anyone goes onto a career. ''Illustrating the Bible ''? Hasn't that already been accomplished in any number of formats any number of times in any number of languages ? ''On his bedroom wall ''? Children cover walls with masterpieces daily, to their parent's dismay, worldwide. And ''using ballpoint pen''? Now there's a story, right ? Well…
News outlets worldwide still report about artwork created using ballpoint pens as if, in the half-century since its invention, the pens have never been given any artistic consideration. Prior to the advent of the internet and social media, their ignorance could be forgiven. Nowadays ballpointers are everywhere, in every corner of the world, and the so-called ballpoint Wow Factor in and of itself carries less weight. The internet and social media are these days awash with ballpoint art blogs of every stripe, although with varying content. Ballpoint art classes may already be part of a curriculum somewhere. But the birth of the internet didn't mark the beginnings of ballpoint innovation; if anything, it merely serves as proof of how commonplace it has become, or how it has been all along ・・・
Last revised Aug 24, 2020
No, the drawings presented here have not been 'defaced' or altered in any way. The section title deFACEDsimply describes the fact that the artworks presented here have been pulled from social media posts such as facebook and, as such, therefore 'de'-faced,
as it were. Some of the artists may be familiar to readers, but new faces will also be introduced here. These artists have not been notified of inclusion here, but every effort will be made to credit the artwork as they did in their original posts.
The content of this slideshow presentation is revised regularly
Listed by date, from most recently posted.
All artwork ©
RECAP originally posted in installments throughout 2015
Andy Warhol @ Christie's online auction series, 2015
''The scene is an impression of the 1910 Great Flood of Paris and illustrates the continuing theme of man's ongoing battle with nature. The opera house depicted here is the Palais Garnier, the 'phantom's' lair in Gaston Leroux's famous novel, and one of Georges-Eugène Haussmann's crowning achievements, which was built over one of the neolithic marshy lakes providing Paris with its water source. The flooding was felt at the time to be the revenge of nature, with water having avenged the air (France had by now gained supremacy in aviation technology).
The scene must have been an eerie one for those days and nights in 1910. Street lamps were normally lit and extinguished manually by crews of municipal workers on foot. Now they were forced to travel by boat, leaving some of the more accessible areas illuminated constantly by a dim glow for as long as the gas lines lasted and others, inaccessible liquid lakes of mud oozing over fallen stone and bricks, leaving Paris, the City of Light, plunged into total darkness. The city's Société Urbaine d'Air Comprimé was the plant responsible for the functioning of the city's lifts, machinery, pneumatic postal delivery tubes, air conditioning systems and public and household clocks. On the evening of the flood, when the compressed air plant became submerged, time itself came to a halt at precisely 10:53 p.m.''・
For more art/info look for Dominique Vangilbergen on the internet & social media・artwork © D. Vangilbergen・text by Elizabeth Hiscott
PICK PIECES The Ballpointer staff choose the artwork and let the artist explain it in their own words ・ Vol 7 No 4 posted August 24, 2020
Dominique Vangilbergen・Berlin, Germany (Kreuzberg)
Opera #31 Palais Garnier Paris ・ 2020 ・ pencil, ink (ballpoint), acrylic, spray paint on paper ・ 112 x 77 cm (X x X'')