Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Who's Your Daddy? (or Momma?)

João Ribas (whose extraordinary blog you can find here) offers a well-considered, yet ultimately begging-to-be-debated opinion that the most influential artists working today are Mike Kelley and Richard Tuttle. From artinfo.com

Artists of a few generations ago enacted their oedipal strife with papa Picasso; then, it was Warhol who had to be wrestled. (In the 1980s, the anxiety lessened—as appropriation and “quotation” became the norm.)

So who is it that the young artists of today have to grapple with?

Richard Tuttle and Mike Kelley are undoubtedly two of the most powerful forces of nfluence on emerging art. This was abundantly in evidence at Kelley’s multi-ringed circus at Gagosian gallery’s vast Chelsea space, where Day is Done played to huge crowds before closing on Dec. 17; and at Richard Tuttle’s remarkable career survey at the Whitney, on view through Feb. 5.

I’m not the only one who’s noticed the impact of these these two of artists.

“I see a lot of children of both Tuttle and Kelley,” jokes James Fuentes, former Deitch Projects director and now an independent curator.

As João noted, the rise of postmodernism/pluralism had lessened the previously perpetual need to slay the father to advance the children witnessed in the 20th Century, but I suspect he's right that the need to at least grapple with the alpha dogs remains. My first awakening to this reality was brought about by an excellent 1998 exhibition curated by Nina Bovasso titled "Son of a Guston" which explored how many painters were influenced/challenged by Philip. The title was mostly a quippy pun, yes, but it still revealed that “The Anxiety of Influence” was alive and well.

Often, in this commerce-driven phase of art history, "influence" gets mixed up with market strategy, but asking that you put finanical popularity aside, I'll pose two questions:
  1. For everyone: Who are the two most influential living (or at least recently living) artists?
  2. For artists: Who's your Daddy/Momma? (meaning who do you grapple with, who haunts your studio?)
For me, the two most influential living artists are Richard Tuttle and Bruce Nauman. Yes, this is a biased assessment, and perhaps wishful thinking...perhaps Mike is in the end more influential, but I think he owes his license to play to Bruce.

66 Comments:

Blogger James W. Bailey said...

Dear Edward,

Interesting questions.

For everyone: Who are the two most influential living (or at least recently living) artists?

For me - William S. Burroughs and Stan Brakhage. Both for their enourmous contributions toward the destruction of literary and film narrative.

For artists: Who's your Daddy/Momma? (meaning who do you grapple with, who haunts your studio?)

George E. "The Mad Potter of Biloxi" Ohr - it's a Mississippi ghost thing. Ohr's unfailing belief in his radical vision, combined with his dramatic flair for exaggerated self-promotion [I am the potter before all others!] continues to set a high bar for most artists, especially in these cynical postmodern hedge fund art collector times when such "stunts" as Ohr was locally famous for performing would now be considered shallow gallery induced public relations. The more I study Ohr's life, the more I'm convinced that he was Dali and Warhol decades before the art world was willing to give such artists their due. I find every aspect of his artistic life to be original, fresh and contemporary, even as we move closer to the 100th year of his death. Ohr is a ghost that hovers above the Hoodoo candles in my studio.

James

12/27/2005 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

What a fun question.

I can say that, in Los Angeles at least, Chris Burden is still a big influence. His work is large in the imaginations of most art students. It has a legendary quality (which he was/is fully in control of) that seems to appeal to the short attention span set.

The other big influence out here is Charles Ray. Perhaps because he is such an excellent teacher, but I am sure that the combination of rigor and humor and astronomic prices adds to his cache.

Mike Kelley is number one though we are beginning to see a back-lash. Mike has come to represent the over-educated and justification-bound conceptualism that is viewed as a played-out strategy.

Not so widely respected as an artist, but very influential as a gallerist and teacher is Roger Herman, of Black Dragon Society. That gallery has propeled the move toward a more intuitive approach to art-making which seems to be spreading like wild-fire. His artists include Hanna Greeley, who is Whitney bound, Nick Lowe, Ry Rocklen, Oscar Santos. All names to watch for (and all C. Ray students, too).

As for my own influences, Other than those above, I will credit Lee Mullican with providing the fire that still drives my work. He is not with us anymore, but his influence is still growing and will likely peak this spring with the opening of his retro at LACMA.

And as for being haunted in the studio, that would have to be Tim Hawkinson. He is a contemporary, but sets a high standard for creativity, light touch, and positive, but not sappy, energy. His work gives me re-newed interest in pushing myself. Once I get over how productive and consistent he is.

Now, would anyone care to guess where I went to school?

12/27/2005 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

Tim UCLA

12/27/2005 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Enzo said...

I would second Tim Hawkinson...

I would compare him favorably to Roxy Paine and Tom Friedman--both of whom I find find very interesting, but ultimately come away from their work feeling a bit unsatisfied--like I've only had a very pleasant hors d'oeuvre but have missed the main course.

12/27/2005 02:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Burrito Brother said...

Hi Ed,
Long time listener, first time caller. Those two choices are hard to argue with. Maybe you could argue with the choice of any abstract artist in the current climate. (?) Also, over the last couple years, trends have begun to emerge in Tuttle's work that make it less interesting (over-production?) in my mind. As for my own studio grappling, the work of the recently deceased artist Agnes Martin continually pokes and prods at me, more than Tuttle's. Perhaps because she is so stubbornly un-academic (the anti-Mike Kelley, as it were.) I also can't seem to break out of the art-headlock that is Alex Katz. Why is his work so continually interesting? Even his recent vapid portraits of models have that SOMETHING. His art works as a necessary filter for all figurative artists, and will for a while. And one of his leigons of followers that I also love is Brian Calvin (I get a lot of arguments on this one.)
Big shout out to Kiwi and the Twins.
Peace.

12/27/2005 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

There does seem to be a significant difference between the two coasts. I find the West coast a fascinating blend of conceptual rigor and what Tim calls the "intuitive approach to art-making." Although I was disappointed not to see Bart Esposito in that BDS list.

Friedman and Paine over Hawkinson any day for me as well. Tim leaves me looking for the Home Depot sponsorship notice in the invite.

trends have begun to emerge in Tuttle's work that make it less interesting (over-production?) in my mind

He's getting up to the age where he has to begin to think about legacy, I suspect...I just hope he's not following in Papi Picasso's footsteps and signing every piece of detris he touches, but even five years ago, his wall pieces were some of the strongest work out there.

12/27/2005 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous burrito brother said...

*Some more East Coast nominees for the Most Influential Artist Award (the M.I.A.):

Richard Prince? Gregory Crewdson? Cecily Brown?

I'm not saying I necessarily like these artists, just that they're influential...

12/27/2005 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

GC limitedly so, but CB??? ugh.

RP, maybe.

12/27/2005 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous burrito brother said...

I'm not saying it's good, just influential...
Or maybe DeKooning/Bacon is the real influence. But there are a lot of young messy semi abstract girl painters hanging around these days.
In fact, maybe Prince cannot be considered 'influental' - not many people try or pull off what he does.
In my mind, truly great, unique artists aren't as widely influential as more for lack of a better word, 'commercial' artists, like Crewdson.

12/27/2005 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

truly great, unique artists aren't as widely influential as more for lack of a better word, 'commercial' artists, like Crewdson

Interesting point, although, the two examples Ribas noted (Picasso and Warhol) were both.

12/27/2005 04:11:00 PM  
Anonymous burrito brother said...

Well, that's a pretty small circle- the 2 most imortant artists of the 20th century.
When you talk about 'influential' to the following generation of artists, that's still a pretty small blip in history. Is Kelley the next Picasso or will he be completely unintelligable in 60 years?
Interesting to think that both those artists (actually all 3 including Kelley) were by far the most prolific of their times as well...
More air time = more influence?

12/27/2005 04:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about Richter and Tuymans? I think tuymans has been infinitely more influencial than either Kelly or Tuttle.

12/27/2005 04:31:00 PM  
Anonymous burrito brother said...

Yes. Tuymans is an excellent choice, even though he is a wierdo belgian. Richter too. Maybe even Neo Rauch.
Personally, I find it hard to gage the influence of non-american artists as i rarely leave the bosom of brooklyn.

12/27/2005 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Art Soldier said...

First, I don't think Ribas was arguing that MK and RT are the most influential artists working today, but rather that they are two of the most influential. He said, Richard Tuttle and Mike Kelley are undoubtedly two of the most powerful forces of influence on emerging art.

Neither of these artists has had much influence on painting, so I would have to agree with Anon about G. Richter. The importance of Richter is similar to Warhol or Picasso in their time in that if one is a painter one must still deal with Richter. This results in followers (Tuymans and co) or those rebelling against (messy/personal). This doesn't mean that the hottest trends are necessarily influenced by Richter (although they are in Europe), but that he is still the father figure for contemporary painting.

12/27/2005 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous burrito brother said...

These euros are really only important to painters though...

12/27/2005 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Art Soldier said...

Adding to the euros, I would have to include Martin Kippenberger in the 'sort of recently' deceased category. It seems like his influence has only increased since his death. His work is affecting both installation and painting.

12/27/2005 04:55:00 PM  
Anonymous michael said...

i wonder if ones answer to this question is affected at all by whether or not they went to art school or not. as an artist who did not go to school for art i think i tend to be less interested in a lot of the artists that usually get mentioned as influential i.e. nauman, kelley, richter etc. as well as not having had the chance to identify with any of the prominent teachers.
i think in the studio i tend to not be conscious of other artists work but rather feed more off philosophy, music, nature.

12/27/2005 05:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does anyone talk about mike kelley as if he is an actual talented artist? ick ick ick!

i'd say louise bourgeois would be quite influential, as is tuttle, agnes martin, and hawkinson.

on the west coast, i'd say rita ackerman has influenced the messy girl painters and then some, but i don't believe these painters know she was the original and she is still considered obscure.

i also agree with a lot with what burrito brother has to say.

12/27/2005 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Art Soldier said...

michael: I like the idea of feeding off of other "non-art" fields. It's important for artists to remember that 'Art' is a creative practice that is more similar to other creative 'arts' than many artists would like to admit. However, if you are working within an established artistic medium such as painting, sculpture, installation, etc. then you are being influenced by others' work whether you know it or not (otherwise, you probably wouldn't have thought to make a painting or whatever in the first place). A lot of times we don't necessarily get to choose our influences.

12/27/2005 05:33:00 PM  
Anonymous burrito brother said...

thanks anon.
in regards to what Michael had to say, I think influence -in the short term- has a lot to do with the Art World. As collectors and critics discuss and buy art based on credentials, choice art schools are sadly a credential that many people buy into (see Yale, Columbia...) So when i say Gregory Crewdson is influental, maybe it's because all of his Yale students who copy him get written about, get shows, fame etc. Then he becomes... that's right, and influence. That doesn't mean any of it's good or bad just talked about by people with power.
Any way Michael, what I mean is that I agree... the best art to me is a mesh of personal responses - mostly to non-fine art stuff - honed in the studio. I can't say that while i'm working on a painting I'm thinking "Hmmm.., I wonder if this piece will trump Alex Katz's 60's work and what he'll say about it." That would be ridiculous.
p.s. - i love rita ackermann, and would say she is also fairly influential to the scribbly, collage neo-goth, punk, hippy types out there...
and I don't personally get MKelley, but have to admit he's very influential.

12/27/2005 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Gusky said...

I see only one disparity remaining in art that seems to bear any relevance to anything: the opposition between pre-packaged art experiences and real-time art experiences.

Their opposition is admittedly weak, because many art experiences bear elements of each, and because the era of taking sides seems to have passed. But this distinction bears a relationship to other contemporary cultural issues, and I find it compelling.

It'd be fun to see their opposition heat up, but then someone might break a nail... :)

12/27/2005 05:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike Kelley ick ick ick! said...

burrito bro, right on for your ackermann comment. i forgot to put that last 'n' in her name, thanks for the reminder. i am also on the west coast and see a lot of her in nearly everything 'hip' here.

i personally am influenced by all things (not just art) that interest me (like anyone), and usually find out about many artists after an outside source tells me that it looks as if i am being influenced by so and so. when i look that artist up i find that i like their work very much and then they may become an influence on purpose. but mostly it has been accidental because of my own ignorance. i did not attend much school and don't know a lot of artist, but the more i learn, the more they creep into my work as a personal response. and i like it better that way. it's more organic (for me.)

12/27/2005 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

First, I don't think Ribas was arguing that MK and RT are the most influential artists working today, but rather that they are two of the most influential.

In the absence having named any other influential artists and within the context of his overall piece, I'll stand by the original framing here. You do like to pick those nits, though, don't you A.S.?

if you are working within an established artistic medium such as painting, sculpture, installation, etc. then you are being influenced by others' work whether you know it or not (otherwise, you probably wouldn't have thought to make a painting or whatever in the first place). A lot of times we don't necessarily get to choose our influences.

Totally agree with that, though. Transdisciplinary borrowing is beyond the artist's conscious control, forming a persistent dialog above anything intentional.

12/27/2005 06:17:00 PM  
Anonymous michael said...

art soldier: agreed.
burrito brother: yeah i'm more in line with "influence" as connotating what gets shown and bought in the art world, and not as a personal motivation for making ones work. i've had people say to me that my work reminds them of other artists and to a point can understand why they say it although i would never cite that artist as an influence. i second mike kelley ick3 as to non-deliberate influence. but i take peoples readings as interesting and valid even though at times i wish they could be more creative or unconventional, say i.e. mike kelley's gagosian show reminds them of classic mondrian.

12/27/2005 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I have heard more than one person say they did not like Kelley's work until they heard his lecture and then they were very impressed.

Is this what you are referring to, Bill, as to pre-packaged or real-time? I am a big believer in everything being inside the frame, so to speak, but have to acknowledge that enlightenment is valuable no matter when or how it comes.

I wasn't bragging about having gone to UCLA, for heaven's sake. I thought it was funny after writing my reply this morning I noticed that all of the artists are from UCLA except Kelley, whom I had discounted.

If I have to have such narrow horizons I couldn't do much worse for the place to start. No?

12/27/2005 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

to clarify what I believe JR means by "influence" here...in this context, in addition to suggesting artists are following in their footsteps, he's also suggesting you have to deal with their answers to questions before you can offer your own...meaning you can't just pretend they didn't say this or that because the rest of the art world knows they did.

You can dismiss them with a pithy parody (think "Painting with Two Balls") or essentially "prove" they were wrong (think "Factum I and II"), but you can't just ignore them.

So it's not only a matter of whether you consider them an influence in that you're a fan or disciple of theirs...you can be an detractor and still be heavily influenced.

12/27/2005 06:44:00 PM  
Anonymous w.w. said...

ANDY WARHOL!!!

12/27/2005 07:27:00 PM  
Anonymous w.w. said...

and EVA HESSE

1. but GUSTON's my daddy

12/27/2005 07:30:00 PM  
Anonymous w.w. said...

if you want alive: RICHTER.

12/27/2005 07:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Messy Abstract Girl Painter said...

The two living artists who have most influenced my work are Ed Moses and Gerhard Richter. And I'm on the West Coast.

12/27/2005 08:42:00 PM  
Anonymous jen said...

1. Nauman & Rauschenberg (I know I'll get it for that but he opened my eyes to multimedia painting)

2. Beuys & Darger

12/27/2005 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Beuys & Darger

Now that's a fabulously haunted studio.

12/27/2005 09:44:00 PM  
Anonymous juryduty said...

Studio ghosts/imaginary friends:

Richter, Johns, Koons, Hirst, Currin, Klein, Nauman, Manzoni. Not necessarily in that order.

Makes for a noisy working environment.

12/27/2005 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Gusky said...

Tim, if you're asking me if I think Mike Kelly's installation was an example of a real-time experience, yes, that's what I'm saying.

I didn't attend Kelly's lecture, but I enjoyed the installation in the same way that I've enjoyed tourist traps in the American south; I saw it as quirky, goofy fun, and that's pretty much it.

There's a tourist trap near Natural Bridge in Virginia, that includes a kind of haunted house and fiberglass statues of dinosaurs devouring Union soldiers from the Civil War. Kelly's installation reminded me of driving through the South and experiencing that tourist trap.

Since I could control the sequence and the view by simply moving through it any way I wanted, I consider Kelly's installation and the tourist trap to be real-time experiences.

12/27/2005 11:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Richter and Twombly
2. Arnulf Rainer and Robert Frank Monday thru Friday and Llyn Foulkes/Ralph Eugene Meatyard/Masahisa Fukase Saturday and Sunday.

12/27/2005 11:53:00 PM  
Blogger benvolta said...

Warhol and Beuys (but they are both dead-dead) .... Gober haunts my studio.

Group Material and Art and Language haunt collaborations...


(does anyone have a link to an audio file or transcript of a Mike Kelly lecture? ... I think that I agree with Bill, however I heard a similar comment before I saw the work... )

12/28/2005 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

I would defitnitely say Tuttle for myself, but I expect he would be viewed as too much of a sentimentalist for the West Coast Cal-Arts/UCLA types who reject a certain delicate formalism.
What about Laura Owens (maybe not the most recent stuff)? I see Owens desciples everywhere.

12/28/2005 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Art Soldier said...

To echo E_ on CB, LO??? ugh.

12/28/2005 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned Hirst. Perhaps either him or Koons would qualify as "Most Influential" in todays art world. Why? Because the art world is filled with equally vapid "artists" who worship and crave what our society values most....celebrity. Forget about creating something great. The goal is to be seen in the pages of Vanity Fair at the right party next to the right person. Perhaps I sound bitter and disillusioned. I'm not. I just feel the art world is a shallow, clique driven popularity contest. Hirst and Koons? Put a power drill through my skull.

12/28/2005 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Nancy Baker, aka Rebel Belle said...

Okay, it looks like I am going to have to remind everyone of Rachel Whiteread, Pipilotti Rist, Marina
Abromovic, and Rebecca Horn.

These are my mommas!
How come these names don't come up?
Yes, I know it is tiresome and irritating to hear this, but XX's make good art too.

12/28/2005 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you nancy baKER, It is always amazing to me the constant lists of male artists, the same lists of male artists, over and over again, ad nauseum, nobody is saying they are bad, its just that we are here too!!!! also it seems when a XX artist is mentioned, most especially one who is not80 or dead, they are just trashed. LO, like her or not was a HUGE influence on grad students over the last 10 years or so, male and female, i witnessed it in my countless forays into grad school studios. there are a lot more too that are and still are influential, . Smith, Heilmann, Noland, to name 3.

12/28/2005 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

OK, Nancy, I could have mentioned Nancy Rubins. She has certainly been an inspiration to me and, yeah, she haunts my studio because she is uncompromising, brave, unrelenting and works like a mule.

Oh yeah, she used to teach at UCLA, too.

12/28/2005 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous burrito brother said...

Ooh! I just thought of a VERY VERY influential crazy XX artist...

Kusama.

12/28/2005 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous james leonard said...

For artists: Who's your Daddy/Momma? (meaning who do you grapple with, who haunts your studio?)

Depends which day of the week you visit.

Here's a list of a few souls I've bumped into in the studio in one form or another:

Felix Gonzales-Torres, Roni Horn, Katerina Fritsch, August Wilson, Gavin Turk, Joseph Beuys, Phillip K Dick, William Carlos Williams, Edgar Degas, Rembrandt, Leonardo DaVinci, Rumi

Non-artists: Frans De Waal, Roger Fouts, John Holland, Vilayanur S Ramachandran, Pliny the Elder, Aristotle

It can get a bit crowded sometimes. Lately I've been locking my studio door. I've also taken to stuffing a rolled up towel under the threshold. This keeps some of the ghosts out.

12/28/2005 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous juryduty said...

Anonymous - DON'T DO IT! (the power drill)

What you say about Hirst and Koons can also be said about Warhol, Beuys, Pollock, etc. etc. etc. Yeah, they're famous. Everybody hates that.

But I'd also argue that the reason they're famous is that they make great work. Aggressive, smart, compelling, and if they make a buck along the way so what? We should all be doing so well.

I'm also glad that they're willing to throw it in the face of the sensible shoes art crowd every now and then. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE AGNES MARTIN - but sometimes you just gotta shout.

12/28/2005 08:52:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

Just for the sake of argument, I wouldn't extend the "fame-flam" generalization to Warhol, Beuys or Pollock. Fame ebbs and wanes, but over time settles where it is most deserved. I think both Warhol, Beuys and Rauschenberg were very influential. Pollock made great paintings at the edge of control and defined a boundary but left little to build on. If I had to pick between Hirst and Koons, I think Koons will hold up better but regardless I think it is too soon to say 'fame' will stick to either. I am surprised no one mentioned Cindy Sherman, maybe she's not that influential but I have a hunch she will outlast the boy shooters of her era.

Haunting the studio is the author Robert Musil

12/28/2005 09:39:00 PM  
Anonymous jen said...

I was going to mention Whiteread and Horn but felt that they were disciples of Nauman and Beuys.

12/28/2005 10:41:00 PM  
Anonymous juryduty said...

George - without wanting to sound picky, you wouldn't say that Warhol (!) and Pollock are the original celebrity artist guys? I mean ...

12/28/2005 10:50:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

jd, what I meant was that 'celebrity' comes and goes but that the real respect for the work, or 'fame', only comes over time.

12/28/2005 11:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on George! Also, good call on Cindy Sherman. Can't believe she hasn't been metioned yet.

12/29/2005 01:52:00 AM  
Anonymous james leonard said...

I was going to mention Whiteread and Horn but felt that they were disciples of Nauman and Beuys.

Disciples or not, sometime it's more about picking up where another left off. Often for me, Horn and Whiteread leave off a bit closer to home.

On the other hand, a friend of mine who studied classical literature as an undergrad (and even learned Greek to do so!) often reminds me of the value of going back to "source" material.

Of course, isn't day to day life the ultimate source material of much art? In that case, shouldn't our studios be equally haunted by our friends, family, lovers, and enemies?

One last aside, lately I've been struggling with unicorns in the studio(yeah yeah, I know they are trendy at the moment. Whatever. :P ). One of the sources I've been looking at a lot are the Unicorn Tapestries housed up in the Met's Cloisters. We have no clue who designed them, who fabricated them, and what exactly the artists' intentions were. Regardless, these objects are having a profound influence on the direction of a particular work I am producing. Does this mean my studio is also haunted by several dozen shadowy, faceless, medieval weavers (most likely nuns...)?

12/29/2005 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous George said...

re: going back to "source" material. Yesterday I went to the Met to see the exhibitions of Fra Angelico and Robert Rauschenberg. Fra Angelico is way modern, a big surprise.

The Rauschenberg Combines, especially at the start in 1955, fifty years ago, made me think again. Rauschenberg, Warhol, and Nauman are thick branches lower on the tree, who's investigations make possible the current crop of artist celebrities. Each of the three spawned a line of inquiry which has continued to evolve over the last fifty years.

The more recent celebrity artists mentioned are just continuation paths established by the three artists above. It is time for a change and the path will not be from a currently established artist but from a young turk currently waiting in the wings. Who, when? I don't know but within the next 3-5 years.

12/29/2005 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous juryduty said...

I'd argue that Warhol, Rauschenberg and Nauman are standing on others' shoulders too: Duchamp, Pollock, Johns and Beckett (cross-media shoulders allowed) in particular.

But then Duchamp seems to be almost everybody's Granddaddy these days.

12/29/2005 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

No doubt everyone stands on someones shoulders.

As for Duchamp, my guess is that his influence has had its run and that whatever 'the next big thing" turns out to be, it will only make a passing acknowledgement to Marcel. Duchamp offered an alternative to Picasso who dominated the first half of the twentieth century. Everything moves in cycles, two generations is long enough, the new blood gets bored and looks for a new path.

12/29/2005 02:22:00 PM  
Anonymous james leonard said...

I'm not so sure it is linearly heirarchical as the last few remarks have hinted. Evolution of any sort, at least during mid-game, is much more dendritic in its heritages. Diversification will lead to branching that looks hierarchical for a few "time steps," but cross polination (and even incest between distant relatives) can lead to a convergence of strains. And selective forces (in the case of art: memetics, mass media, the market and academia) can bias both diversity and homogeny. Lastly, something very simple (and likely unnoticed) within or outside of the art world might be all it takes for already present strategies, techniques, and philosophies to look revolutionary. When the inevitable "revolution" takes place, it might not need to trace back as far as george suggests.

On a similar note, I understand (and at times share) george's anticipation of that sea change. But sometimes I find it admittedly hard to differentiate between intuition and desire. Dynamic systems can exhibit inertia. The status quo can remain status quo for much longer than we'd prefer.

12/29/2005 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

James, Yeh, good response, I know what I wrote sounds programmatic but I was trying to keep it simple. In fact I think the issue of 'influences' is holographic or fractal, where the subsets contain all the flavor of the supersets. Your use of 'dendritic' describes a fractal and non linear situation. For reasons we might be aware of, but not currently apprehend, the progress of art might suddenly shift it's direction. I was not suggesting it might 'trace back in time', to the contrary what I am suggesting is that the core of this discussion is part of the old paradigm, with it's roots in the 1950's.

"something very simple … might be all it takes for already present strategies, techniques, and philosophies" This is correct, the butterfly effect. What is curious to me, is that human behavior is somewhat predictable. Self awareness leads to cyclic behavior as individuals recognize patterns in their realms of interest. There are a number of subtle signals which lead me to believe that a change is imminent. I am not speaking of directed evolution within an existing conceptual or stylistic framework, that's what happens in between the paradigm shifts.

12/29/2005 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous juryduty said...

Well said, James. Certainly none of the artists mentioned were working in isolation - all represent convergences within the larger culture. And even the 'sea changes' could be seen as harmonic convergences of multiple smaller waves.

Still, evolution doesn't deny the concept of lineage - it IS the concept of lineage (lineage + mutation, of course). Only the creationists believe it all just fell out of the sky one day ... : )

12/29/2005 03:45:00 PM  
Anonymous james leonard said...

I know what I wrote sounds programmatic but I was trying to keep it simple

Fair enough. This underscores one of the challenges of bringing up "complexity" in any dialogue. Though a rapidly developing body of understanding, it still isn't a wrote element in the public consciousness, like the model of a heliocentric solar system. So you never know who you're shooting pool with till after a few rounds!

Still, evolution doesn't deny the concept of lineage - it IS the concept of lineage (lineage + mutation, of course)

Juryduty, I'll give you that much but I need to nitpick here. The mutation thing is a very common misconception based on early Darwinian models of evolution that asserted that mutation was the source of most evolutionary change. One of the things that John Holland (inventor of "genetic algorithms" and on my list of studio ghosts above!) has demonstrated is that it is cross polination and selection that drive most evolutionary systems. Mutation rates are an important factor, but they rarely lead directly to either evolutionary or revolutionary mutation. In fact, most mutations are eliminated before they can ever gain a solid foothold in the genepool.

Of course the dynamics of cultural evolution are going to be different than genetic evolution. (For the record, Holland's work was with theoretical and applied "mathematical" models not strictly limited to genetic evolution.) For one, in cultural evolution (like viral evolution) the phenotype (body) and the genotype (information) are one in the same. When this occurs, Lamarckian (in addition to Darwinian) principles of evolution come into play.

In short, in Lamarckian evolution the history of the body can drive evolutionary change. According to this general principle, if you kept chopping off the tails of rats, eventually one will give rise to offspring without tails. We know this does not happen. But what happens when a Renaissance era fresco slowly acquires layer after layer of soot and oil turning its image dark and murky? You get painters naively imitating its current state. Fascinating and insightful stuff IMHO, albeit a bit off topic...

12/29/2005 04:18:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

James, Taking up the question of evolution. As I think we are viewing the issue, with art evolving and leaving its trail in an apparently orderly fashion. Most of the time, a more or less linear evolution is the case but once in awhile it is not and we experience a discontinuity. In the course of art, I would say 1910-15 was such a period and more recently 1950-1955. If you are in NYC, have a look at the Rauschenberg Combines at the Met. In retrospect, we can fit it all nicely into the flow of history, but emerged in its own time, I don't think the future evolutionary developments were all that obvious. Sure, I can see the 'messiness' relationship between Pollock and RR, but the conceptual direction (ex-Duchamp) was a breakaway move from the environment of 'action painting', I could make a similar observation about Warhol, etc. In retrospect it all looks orderly, but if you go back and read the critical writing at the time this work was a stick in the spokes, Johns was denounced as a painter, etc, etc.

The genetic angle on cultural evolution in an interesting one. My perceptions come from an empirical study of the psychology behavior of financial markets, it's abstract but not very theoretical, if I'm wrong I lose money. As for Renaissance soot (that's a hoot), it's true that people can act fairly persistently on incorrect information until someone comes along to correct the situation, i.e. Einstein fitting the theory to the data.

12/29/2005 05:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since we're a bit off topic...anyone have a comment on what Todd Gibson posted over the holidays?

http://chromogenia.typepad.com/artatlanta/2005/12/art_of_the_beau.html

Sorry, not sure how to make links "clicky"

12/29/2005 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

I read Todds piece, a formula, for art? I'm not sure but different strokes for different folks.

On the other hand, in this weeks Science section of the NY Times

Quantum Trickery: Testing Einstein's Strangest Theory
just bends whatever you might think is 'reality' into a knot.

12/29/2005 06:27:00 PM  
Anonymous juryduty said...

hmmm ... good stuff.

Next question:

Where does one draw the line between genetic evolution and cultural evolution?

Say, for example, a monkey picks up a stick and knocks down a beehive (or draws a picture) and then other monkeys start thinking about tools too. Then 'tool use' and 'tool making' become genetically selective factors. Like language. Or conceptual thinking. Then adaptation is a two-way street - info in, change out. Soot on old paintings in, new paintings referencing sooty old paintings out.

Which makes me wonder sometimes (brace yourselves) if the 'intelligent design' folks aren't entirely off base. Just depends on how one identifies the intelligent designer ... if it's the thing (life/reality/whatever) intelligently designing itself - as opposed to accidentally designing itself, or being designed by someone (deity, alien, tooth fairy) outside the process - then maybe there's space to move with that thought.

Of course that's not what Jerry Falwell intends by it ...

12/29/2005 06:29:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

"Where does one draw the line between genetic evolution and cultural evolution? "

There is no line.

To my mind, the "aesthetic response" and art itself exist because they are necessary for the preservation of the species. After years of evolution, (or ID, whatever) base level aesthetic experiences are genetically encoded in at least a part of the species because they have enabled survival. Over a long period of time, the direct survival responses have been abstracted but the instincts remain. "Are there good berries in this patch?" :-)

12/29/2005 06:56:00 PM  
Anonymous mark said...

dads- tuttle, tony feher
mom- polly appfelbaum
granny- agnes martin
sisters- rachel harrison, pheobe washburn, andrea loefke, jean shin
bros-ry rocklen, tom friedman
graddads- marcel broodthaers, dieter roth

great blog and post!

12/30/2005 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous martin said...

Mark - I really enjoyed looking at your work, especially Change Out Pole, Kris' Spiral, and Points.

12/30/2005 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Hungry Hyaena said...

Wooohooooo! Damn, Edward! I miss a week or so of your posts and I'm backlogged with enjoyable "at work" reading. This particular exchange is terrific and I'm sorry to have "missed" it.

If I didn't feel so far behind - at work, in the studio and with general reading - I'd add more than what follows.

Go George! Go James! Go Edward!

Anyway, now I'll get some work done while I regret typing the inane silliness above.

Happy New Year to all.

1/03/2006 04:30:00 PM  

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