Monday, June 04, 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays

In case you haven't been following it, there's a truly awesome dialog about Richard Serra, Michael Kimmelman, contemporary art and whether it's hard to make good art on the last thread. I highly recommend it.

The discussion was sparked by a comment I pointed out that Kimmelman made, but also by a comment Serra made about, well:
what Mr. Serra disdainfully calls, in the show’s catalog, “post-Pop Surrealism,” by which he lumps together all contemporary art that leans for a crutch on language and Duchamp.
A-a-a-a-a-nd they're off: in Lane 1 the formalists leap out ahead, spurred on by delusions of purity and universality, a breathtaking leap from assertions of democratic access to elitist dismissals of the inevitably uninterested. But Wait! In Lane 2, the conceptualists lunge forward, citing Rauschenberg, gaining on the formalists with virtuosic repetition that seemingly knocks the wind out of the purists. They're neck and neck. It's gonna be close....

We interrupt this broadcast for this message from our sponsors:

What a race! What a finish! In all my years I've never seen anything quite like it. Well, I guess that settles things once and for all, doesn't it?

Labels:

48 Comments:

Blogger D Howard said...

You know, in the end it doesn't really matter. Most art talk/bickering is just waffle.
All is vanity - nothing knew under the sun, sort of stuff. Maybe that's why Duchamp gave up painting. Or maybe he wasn't a great painter after all, more of a destroyer like Schaeffer says. See, we can't resist the waffle. I like mine with cream.
But, I would prefer the Damien Hirst skull without the gaudy decoration on the forehead, and a cabana in it's mouth.

6/04/2007 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger patsplat said...

Conceptualist / formalist doesn't really differentiate artists. As an example, Richard Serra can be fit into both camps. I think the problem is with pure "press-release" art, rather than conceptual art.

Galleries exhibitions compete for listings and reveiws. This battle in the Arts pages puts a premium on shows that sound good in the papers. The most frustrating experience is going to a heavily buzzed show and finding press release to be the most engaging thing in the gallery.

In contrast, in the art fairs the art has to sell itself. I like that in a fair, the work gets to grab and hold your attention by its own merits. You might hang around a bad gallery show for a minute, but in a fair just move on to the next booth.

All the top-tier artists, including the examples of Richard Serra and Damien Hirst, have great press releases and great art. That tier is blue-chip for a reason.

6/04/2007 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

Interesting patsplat. When I think of Serra throwing lead into a corner and Hirst putting a cows head and some fly larvae in a vitrine I can see a connection there. But which one is pure?

I really love the stories of what has been done to Serra's public sculpture, like the kids who hung an artshow on/in one like parasitic bandits in the night. I wouldnt want his works permanently damagesd in any way but I just find beauty and power in these futle attempts at repurposing these monoliths.

Perhaps one day David Hammons will pee on one of my sculptures!! A boy can dream!

6/04/2007 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Carla said...

Nice example of having it all, Edward.

6/04/2007 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Hirst. He uses good quality materials and the work always reminds me of something sacred. Also I think he has something to do with Egypt.
The metal guy has too much steel at their disposal and is probably at a loss with what to do with it.
I don't think Hirst has made one metal sculpture because that was all done before.

6/04/2007 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

We interrupt this broadcast for this message from our sponsors...

Ha! I didn't interpret the "sponsors" to be so much Hirst or his artwork as death itself, the inevitability of which does I think put all of these arguments into perspective.

Regarding rainy days, did Bambino ever get that umbrella I told him about? When I was in NYC a couple of weeks ago, I saw all these people struggling w/ their inside-out umbrellas. I had my Gustbuster with me, and it worked great (wind-tested to 55 mph)! I don't get to use it much here in LA.

6/04/2007 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I don't get to use it much here in LA.

Rub it in David, why don't ya? ;-)

We seemed to get free umbrellas everywhere we went during Art Chicago. It became a running gag (judging a party by how good the free umbrella was). Bambino did get a Gustbuster-like one at the Merchandise welcome party, I believe. But I swear the winds get up over 55 mph near 12th Ave some times (horizontal rain and all that goodness).

I didn't interpret the "sponsors" to be so much Hirst or his artwork as death itself, the inevitability of which does I think put all of these arguments into perspective.

indeed

6/04/2007 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

Edward, darling, that's so cute!

Answer me this, then, Edward. If your, and Hirst's, death's-head is the inevitable punchline to all mere egoistic bickering, why does the Transcendent appear to be the ultimate taboo topic in today's art world? A person can make art about dancing turds, or torture and mutilation, or explicit sexual perversions, in today's milleu, and the critical response is likely to be universally urbane, accepting, and engaged.

But simply mention anything of a spiritual nature, and the Rolling of Eyes is accompanied by an embarrassed silence, and a tactful change of subject, unless the nature of the spirituality expressed is comfortably historical, or colorfully multi-cultural. Easily patronized, in other words.

Why is this? It seems to me that Sophisticated Intellectuals all made a decision, around the age of seventeen, that Contemplation of the Transcendent is absolutely equivalent to Deranged, Rigid and Oppressive Evangelical Christianity, and simply stopped considering the issue.

Which is intellectually irresponsible at the very least, and condemns any serious artist to the conceptual cul-de-sac of futility of purpose, and all its concomitant egoistic bickering, as an inescapable consequence.

If one bothers to think about it, that is.

6/04/2007 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous steve said...

The ultimate art prank is gonna be stealing that skull, and i intend to be the one to do it.

6/04/2007 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

The ultimate art prank is gonna be stealing that skull, and i intend to be the one to do it.

An even better prank would be to steal the Hirst skull and replace it with your own :)

6/04/2007 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

Can we have this competition every four years, like the Olympics? Or is it too much of a blood sport?

6/04/2007 03:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice bling bling. Go for it Bambino!

6/04/2007 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not a true formalist but so much Marxist criticism theory taught at all art schools pushes me in the their direction. Look at the Whitney Program, sorry but I am not a tool of any ideology.

6/04/2007 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Very nice bling bling. Go for it Bambino!

Bite. Your. Tongue.

6/04/2007 04:31:00 PM  
Anonymous bambino said...

goddammit, i want it now

6/04/2007 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

see what you've started anonymous!

yes, darling, I'll buy it for you, just as soon as Brancusi completes his column.

6/04/2007 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

...just as soon as Brancusi completes his column.

Will it be appearing in the Times? :)

6/04/2007 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

mention of the spiritual...

flippant joke...

non-sequitur...

continuation of flippant joke...

Check.

And you people dare to say that there are no further boundaries to transgress.

6/04/2007 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Oly said...

I'd bet that would sell great on the net with Swarovski crystals instead of actual diamonds and also if it was a cell phone as well.

Oly

6/04/2007 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

all right, Pretty Lady, I'll bite:

If your, and Hirst's, death's-head is the inevitable punchline to all mere egoistic bickering, why does the Transcendent appear to be the ultimate taboo topic in today's art world?

I actually didn't mean for it to be seen as an "inevitable" punchline? I meant it merely to serve as another controversial, but monumental, statement that's hard to argue with given how jaw-droppingly audacious it is. I didn't mean it to stimie the debate, only to fuel it.

I'm then, a bit confused, as to whether you mean that you see the skull (or the arcs) as Transcendent or whether that's its own non sequitor.

What put me off responding to your comment in the first place was your premise that just because folks will joke about egos means that they don't appreciate spiritual or transcendent work.

The thing for me, honestly, is that my response to transcendent work (at least the aspect of it that is truly moving) is something I tend not to share on blogs. I've tried, but discovered, tt gets too difficult to convey what you mean in this medium (without the aid of facial expressions/body language/immediate response, etc.).

Or am I missing your point?

6/04/2007 05:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The skull is 'Pure Object'. Next Stop! I believe The Chapman Bothers are busy securing a Brancusi head.

BTW... 'transcendent'? there is no such thing

6/04/2007 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

actually didn't mean for it to be seen as an "inevitable" punchline?

Why? Because it seems to me that without any grounding in the transcendent--whether that be God, or Spirit, or formal principles, or Pirsig's notion of Quality--that the only basis for any system of values is purely subjective. That is, a war of egos.

I meant it merely to serve as another controversial, but monumental, statement that's hard to argue with given how jaw-droppingly audacious it is.

Is is audacious? Why? To me it's just a staggeringly expensive illustrated cliché. "You can't take it with you." No matter how you dress it up, trying to derive value from the ego is just sticking diamonds on a skull.

It seems to me that this cliché is being illustrated to death in today's art world.

my response to transcendent work (at least the aspect of it that is truly moving) is something I tend not to share on blogs. I've tried, but discovered, tt gets too difficult to convey what you mean in this medium

Exactly. There's a constant danger of coming off as mawkish, banal, kitschy, clichéd, flaky, or totally irrational. Art that really moves us on a profound level tends to defy description in words. That's no reason not to try, or to openly strive to create art that resonates on this level.

Sometimes I think that the reason so much lame, trivial art gets shown is that it makes us feel so freakin' clever, talking about it.

'transcendent'? there is no such thing

And see here, we have the standard unsupported assertion by an anonymous person who believes he's being clever. I rest my case.

;-)

6/04/2007 07:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

transcendent? there is no such thing

It's an exhibition title. Thought I better mention that!
I don't have a blogger account, sorry!

6/04/2007 08:00:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

...without any grounding in the transcendent--whether that be God, or Spirit, or formal principles, or Pirsig's notion of Quality--that the only basis for any system of values is purely subjective.

True, but choosing a model on which to base your notion of transcendence is also purely subjective. And it still doesn't automatically remove the ego from the equation.

6/04/2007 08:09:00 PM  
Anonymous WYU said...


We are all searching for the same thing.
At the clinic you'll find your transcendent - like-minded people - mind-blowing the latest @ a post pill popping clubbing experience.

I think the problem with the early conceptualists was that they tended to seek out that which wasn't readily understandable, or even noticeable to the average person, be it Mary or Joe. With DH and ™, what they are really on about is not money, nor popular taste or base culture. What they are interested in, and deliver, is something very close to us all, an invisible thread, which passes through all of us. While we may not all agree upon what material this common thread is made of, I think that in time we'll understand that we have arrived at a certain point. We have been given something very important, by a few people who almost register as a 'Christ' or 'Buddha'. If not then the most important of angels.

Indeed, we are close.

WYU
with your understanding

6/04/2007 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

that skull cost Hirst 20 million bucks to make, its on sale for 100 mil.
What would you do with 20 million to make art?

6/04/2007 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

choosing a model on which to base your notion of transcendence is also purely subjective.

Is it? How recently have you read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"? He pretty thoroughly explores the notion that Quality is something the vast majority of people intuitively recognize, although it has no consistent, definable characteristics at all.

And it still doesn't automatically remove the ego from the equation.

The struggle to achieve it doesn't, necessarily, but if we define 'transcendent art' as art which takes one's breath away, to the point where the boundaries between subject and object temporarily dissolve, that's where it ends.

Anyway, you don't remove the ego, you transcend it. Obviously.

6/04/2007 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

It's an exhibition title.

It would be.

6/04/2007 11:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think when you get to the primary stage of
>> "A is A and B is B..." you are halfway home.

midair, midspace, or midstride: time and space seem to blend in the continuum of your precense. You loose your bearings for a moment. <<

6/04/2007 11:49:00 PM  
Anonymous skipvancel said...

Art, like baseball, is lots of running around, scoring here and there, trying to avoid outs and shooting for a homerun. The Hirst piece is an absolute homerun! Love it, love it, love it!

6/05/2007 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

How recently have you read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"?

Years ago. It's a great book.

He pretty thoroughly explores the notion that Quality is something the vast majority of people intuitively recognize...

I agree with him in this regard about most things, but not about the arts. If you judge by numbers (vast majority), The Da Vinci Code is one of the best books ever written. I read it and thought it was somewhat-entertaining junk. I much prefer The Crying of Lot 49, but I wouldn't expect most people to like it. It's very subjective.

But defining Quality is not really where I take issue with your statement. It's more that you've put on the Trancendence Menu not only Pirsig but God, Spirit and (unnamed)formal principles. That's quite a diverse list! Do you really think that any one of them will do?

6/05/2007 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous ho with hair of many textures said...

" but if we define 'transcendent art' as art which takes one's breath away, to the point where the boundaries between subject and object temporarily dissolve"

Well, hell, if that's how we define transcendent art, isn't that what we're all trying to do? That doesn't sounds like it necessarily has anything to do with god or spirituality. I hate discussing religion because it all comes down to irrational belief. You can't argue with irrational belief; it just IS. You can't get anyone to prove god's existence; you either believe or you don't, so there's no point in discussing it.

And by the way (yes, I'm getting off-topic here), I take exception to the assumption that people who don't believe in god are somehow less moral, less thoughtful in making ethical decisions, less concerned with right and wrong.

Okay, religion rant over. Carry on.

6/05/2007 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

David, I think that essentially, they're all the same thing. Many people are uncomfortable with various terminologies, because of weighted associations, whether those associations be religious, academic or 'flake factor'; that's why I offer such a diverse menu. Perhaps you could define the transcendent as that which is immanent, universal, and unknowable in its entirety by the ego-self.

Judging by numbers in the 'Da Vinci Code' sense is a red herring, because we're dealing with factors other than the perception of Quality--availability, marketing, and the generally abysmal state of literacy in the U.S. these days. One glance at the blogosphere is enough to tell you that most people are unable to comprehend a basic sequence of logical causality, when presented in a coherent paragraph; are we then judging questions of literary style based on the perceptions of these people?

A more accurate test would be to take a group of people who have all proven themselves capable of explaining, in their own words and in complete sentences, the basic principles underlying our Constitution, the plot of Anna Karenina, and why a poem by e.e. cummings was radical for its time, but still holds up as literature in these degenerate days. Then you give this group a copy of 'The Da Vinci Code,' and 'Gaudy Night' by Dorothy L. Sayers, and ask them to assess the relative literary merits of each, providing support for their assertions.

I would stake my inheritance that Dorothy L. would win by a landslide.

6/05/2007 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

I hate discussing religion because it all comes down to irrational belief.

You know, it actually doesn't give me any joy when people continue to illustrate my points with such depressing predictability.

6/05/2007 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

it actually doesn't give me any joy

well, if we're gonna insist folks give us joy then I'll request folks STOP telling me who's been killed with each passing episode of the Sopranos...we're watching it on Netflix, after the fact, dammit, and you're SPOILING it for us!!

And yes, I did it again, interjected a joke where Pretty Lady was discussing something spiritual.

Love you Pretty Lady, but you're being a bit too self-idulgent on the thread, me thinks...what's driving this?

6/05/2007 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lady, sorry you're not getting any joy. i wasn't attempting to illustrate your points, just to respond to them. i guess ed was right that it's pretty hard to discuss this stuff in words. because maybe you're not expressing yourself well in words, hence my reaction which displeases you.

ho

6/05/2007 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm not getting any joy either. What's the deal? Gimme some joy, goddammit! I want my money back, Ed. Oh, wait. I didn't pay any money.

Never mind.

6/05/2007 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

A more accurate test would be to take a group of people who have all proven themselves capable of explaining, in their own words and in complete sentences, the basic principles underlying our Constitution, the plot of Anna Karenina, and why a poem by e.e. cummings was radical for its time...

PL, it sounds like a wonderful group of people to have over for dinner, but I seriously doubt they represent "the vast majority of people."

Also, I get quite a bit of joy from our group discussions here, but then I'm on the left coast and we're easily entertained :)

6/05/2007 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous kalista said...

What is this elitist ethnocentric bullshit? If I haven't read Anna Karenina or e e cummings I'm not fit to discuss spirituality or transcendance with this "pretty lady"? What if I'm from another culture, with different important literature (predating Tolstoy, et al by thousands of years) and different spiritual traditions? Ever heard of the Buddha? I ching? Taoism? Shiva? Kali? Ganesh?

Just because people aren't versed in your particular brand of cultural literacy doesn't mean they are uneducated or not intelligent.

6/05/2007 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

you're being a bit too self-idulgent on the thread, me thinks...what's driving this?

Almost certainly an egoistic tantrum over the rejection of my grant application, Edward.

Ever heard of the Buddha? I ching? Taoism? Shiva? Kali? Ganesh?

Yes.

6/05/2007 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

...the rejection of my grant application...

PL, maybe you've had a different experience with grants than I have (I've gotten a small percentage of what I've applied for), hence different expectations. I look at the "rejection" of a grant application as equivalent to the "rejection" of a lottery ticket. If you enter expecting to actually win you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

6/05/2007 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright, the lady is in a bad mood because her grant app was rejected. We can all relate. But let's not take it out on each other. We should support each other against the civilians.

6/05/2007 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

Actually, anon, I have received infinitely more support in my art career, over twenty years, from 'civilians' than from other artists. This is beginning to change, probably because I'm picking my friends much more carefully. But I don't believe that civilians are a problem, in and of themselves, in any way.

David, I quite agree with you; my expectations are generally minimal in the grant app arena. But I have also come to understand that if one denies oneself the luxury of rejection tantrums, the repressed emotions tend to emerge in insidiously destructive ways over the long term.

All in all, 'acting out' by forcefully affirming one's belief in God, on Ed's blog, seems to me a fairly restrained way of doing this.

6/05/2007 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pretty lady-
try changing girlfriends/boyfriends, maybe it will change your luck?
anonymous

6/05/2007 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger DuckMan said...

It seems to me that Sophisticated Intellectuals all made a decision, around the age of seventeen, that Contemplation of the Transcendent is absolutely equivalent to Deranged, Rigid and Oppressive Evangelical Christianity, and simply stopped considering the issue. - prettylady

Prettylady, I have always preferred my Evangelical Christianity sans derangement, rigidity, and oppression. And there is nothing oxymoronic about that state of affairs.

6/06/2007 11:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Prettylady, I have always preferred my Evangelical Christianity sans derangement, rigidity, and oppression. And there is nothing oxymoronic about that state of affairs."

what world are you living in?

6/06/2007 02:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Beware of God said...

Cut and paste this into your browser:

http://web.mac.com/skipvancel/iWeb/Art%20Web/mixed%20media_files/beware_of_god.jpg

6/07/2007 06:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bambino! Bambino!

We were right!

The bling bling is a masterpiece!

Read The Guardian.

Ed? Now you have to buy it for him!

6/07/2007 10:18:00 PM  

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