Thursday, January 22, 2009

File in the "If Only" Bin : Open Thread

We exchanged gifts with our friends in DC this past weekend. Jo from London brought the most amazing goodie basket of British junk food I've ever seen (McVities, Jaffa Cakes, Wispa Bars, and Walkers Salt & Vinegar crisps, to name just a few), and our host Anne gave us these truly awesome Inauguration party/survival kits, with flags, buttons, Champagne, bubbles, hand warmers, toe warmers, nibbly bits, and maps. But for sheer hilarity, my friend Ann from Seattle took the prize with this offering of "Understand Modern Art InstantlyTM Breath Spray" (in "Surreal Peppermint Flavor," no less). Click on the images to see larger.



Consider this an open thread on the public perception that too much art is inaccessible. (Play nice!)

Labels:

147 Comments:

Blogger George said...

the public perception that too much art is inaccessible

I'm not sure I believe this is true. And, if it is true, maybe it is because the 'public' needs art to be mysterious, feigning inaccessibility.

The mystery of the miraculous does not always have to take the form of a religious fable on the dome. As life progresses into the modern future, artists explore other mysteries which are inaccessible to the public only because they do not pay attention until it is required.

1/23/2009 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

I would like to post a comment but I don't get it :( What does breath spray have to do with understanding art?

I remember when breath spray was really popular- BINACA!

1/23/2009 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

Has anyone been to the Tzarev gallery on 57th? It is a dismaying symptom of a perceived - and likely there - market for a very sentimental accessibility.

On a very different note, Nick Cave's Sound Suits at Jack Shainman are a hit not only because they are [glorious? and a little bit freaky] but also because of their accessibility, no one I have showed them to dislikes them. They are sure to grace the cover of a magazine or two for this reason.

1/23/2009 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Tatiana said...

Breath spray -- to elaborate so eloquently...why not a hair spray then? You'll not only wax aesthetically, but look *inaccessible* as well. I want some!

1/23/2009 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Cat Rocketship said...

The public finds art inaccessible because the practice of critical thinking isn't popular. I'm too young to know if it ever has been in vogue.

People want art, TV, and films that are bite-sized and easy to break down. Most folks don't like to think, dissect and reconsider.

Critical thinking is what I value most from my art education. We learned how to interpret through close inspection, and it applies to so many areas of life.

1/23/2009 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

George, I have to believe you're being purposely dense. Most normal humans I have contact with consider "modern" art -- anything from the 20th century up, essentially -- to be inaccessible. A few have grudgingly accepted art up to Jackson Pollock; some of the ones who consider themselves reasonably intelligent have decided that Pop is okay. A very few who actually use their eyes like all sorts of stuff.

But certainly most people I know think contemporary art is actively insane.

What's amusing about the breath spray here is that I don't think I'd want to "understand modern art". That's kind of like requesting a lobotomy, isn't it? Because if you even slightly scratch the surface of most contemporary art, you find such a paucity of ideas, insight, or intelligence it's hilarious. In fact if you scratch with even a little bit of effort your finger goes right through most of it.

1/23/2009 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

George, I have to believe you're being purposely dense.

So much for my request that people play nice.

Come on, Chris, surely you can find a more polite way to ask your question, no? How is anyone supposed to respond to such a comment without being a bit offended?

1/23/2009 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

It's George, Ed. George and I have conversed online here and on Franklin's blog. He knows my style and will take it appropriately. Especially from Franklin's, where everyone else is really nasty to him, but I'm reasonably nice.

1/23/2009 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

Ed, I value your efforts to maintain a healthy respectful dialogue on your blog. What is visible to others is not who George or Chris are but the tone of dialogue. This is not personal, it is about raising the bar for everyone. Other blogs, of course, will choose not to encourage respectful dialogue for their own reasons. There is no lack of space for that, and those who enjoy it already know where else to go.

1/23/2009 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Chris,

I stand behind what I said, I don't think it is dense, just intense.

1/23/2009 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

(sigh)

1/23/2009 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I have to admit it's possible most people think art isn't inaccessible. I haven't done a scientific study or anything. Maybe most people just think art is dumb.

Actually, if we want to be more serious here for a second, I'd say that it's most likely that most people don't really think about contemporary art at all. And the modern art mentioned on this product is pretty old -- Manet? Monet? -- and very established at this point. I don't think anyone looks at Monet without seeing "a Monet," if you know what I mean. No one needs a breath spray to "understand" it -- its worth has already been proven, no understanding necessary.

When it comes to contemporary art, I bet most people have a stereotype in place for it. Friends of mine imagine I have wine and cheese and wear a beret when I go to art galleries, which is amusing since a) almost no one serves cheese and b) I look really bad in any kind of hat.

I certainly had a stereotype in place for it for a long time. I grew up in New York City but the idea that anyone could just wander into an art gallery and see paintings that were almost still wet -- unheard of! But it was there all the time.

George, I'd love to see a contemporary artist exploring any mystery beyond the most basic one, which is, "Who's buying all this crap?"

1/23/2009 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Oh, and Catherine, I honestly think that anyone who hangs around the vicinity long enough will quickly understand the tone of George and Chris and all the other voices. I mean, it doesn't take long to realize that Zipthwung is free associating (with a particularly bizarre neural net) and Joanne Mattera is very serious and thoughtful and Ed is level-headed and boring -- I mean, even-keeled. And so on.

That's part of the fun! That's virtual community!

1/23/2009 02:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Chris, do everyone!

Give us a little description of what Catherine Sp and Franklin and Pretty Lady and Joy and Oriane and Debora Fisher and everyone else are doing?

Pretty please!

1/23/2009 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

I think when art no longer needed to fulfill a narrative function, when it became about itself is when the public (mostly the puritanically rooted American kind) became stumped.

A viewer needs a lot more background information to be able to "get" anything from a typical modernist or contemporary work. Those of us nerds who are into that sort of thing like to spend the time acquiring that knowledge.
But I like this idea of a spray that could instantly give me understanding! Can I get one for string theory and this economic crisis thing?:)

Oh, and my explanation of surrealism in 3 words: gumdrop,xylophone,cabdriver.

1/23/2009 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Dada is not dead! Watch your overcoat!

1/23/2009 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Oh, and: I sense sarcasm, Anonymous 3:04.

1/23/2009 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

When I first moved into the East Village, there was a shop called "Little Ricky's" which had a world class inventory of novelty items. Hand buzzers, plastic vomit, fake dog poop, plastic eyeballs, well just about everything ever advertised in the pages of a comic book. This little item would have been proudly displayed on a revolving wire rack with an assortment of other bubble packed oxymoronic items.

Breath spray, chewing gum, whatever, It's a novelty item, a joke.

1/23/2009 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 3:04 here,
Chris, no, I was serious. For those of us who don't know these people in real life (and I gather you have met most of them), it would be interesting to hear them described.

1/23/2009 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Kidding aside, a poke in the ribs eh?

an open thread on the public perception that too much art is inaccessible.

What do we mean when we suggest that art is inaccessible? That the viewer "doesn't get it?" a common malady here?

So ask yourself, why wouldn't the viewer get it?

What are the requirements for "getting it"? Where do these requirements come from? Are these requirements fixed, immutable? Are they culturally dependent? Are they subject to temporal histories?

In other words, when you suggest that [some] art is inaccessible, you are also suggesting that their is some definition for what is accessible. Individuals here are using their personal definitions of what is accessible [to them] to respond pejoratively towards the art which does not match their accessibility thresholds.

BUT, where doe these 'accessibility thresholds' come from?

Next, do we want an art which always conforms to the same set of 'accessibility threshold' criteria, that is unchanging over the eons? Sort of an endless replay of "Days of our Lives" every afternoon.

Society, the culture, technology, science, the arts and letters are a continually evolving language which we use to define our moment in time continuum.

As these arts evolve away from what was known yesterday, what was our accessibility threshold yesterday and into the new forms for the future, we will find them unfamiliar. But, just because they are unfamiliar does not mean they are inaccessible.

It means that the viewer can choose make an effort to understand the new. Of course, it is also allowable to be stubborn or lazy and just not get it.

1/23/2009 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger timquinn said...

thing is . . . understandable makes for the most boring of art . . . it does take some time to see this and really begin to value that experience.

Nothing is ever what one thinks it should be.

1/23/2009 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

I also find Chris Rywalt's flip comments offensive (most of the time) and in poor taste i.e. buzz kill. As Ed repeatedly states, passionate comments that raise the emotional level are acceptable- glib, inane, careless or thoughtless comments do not fall into this category, however.

I still don't think the 'joke' is effective or funny. It should be "Wax eloquent" about modern art breath spray- does contemporary art leave the viewer speechless? with nothing to say in their mouth? would breath spray fix that? put (minty) fresh words in their mouths? Does modern art leave a bad taste is people's mouth? Does breath spray fix that? what does that mean? it is a figure of speech, not literally translatable but wouldnt you want to spray the breath freshener on the art to make it more pleasing? palatable? if the joke is to make contemporary art more comprehensible to the viewer the joke would be more along the lines of putting the viewers mind in the place of the artists mind- i.e by sniffing cocaine, smoking weed, getting drunk or chemically altering their brain and sense of perception instantly, right?

humor is as difficult as art at least good humor is as difficult to create as good art. in this case, i don't think the creator succeeded in creating a funny joke but it is funny (peculiar) even though it isnt truly funny.

1/23/2009 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous J Jenkins said...

As someone who is employed by a Contemporary Arts Museum in a major American city, I can unequivocally say that too much art is inaccessible. My job is to give tours of exhibitions to people who request them, and it seems that a majority of the exhibitions have required a university degree to understand the wall text.

That's not to say that I hate ideas, or that all of the art I have taught about is superbly complicated and engaging; most of it, as Chris pointed out, is quite flimsy and uninteresting. That is just to say that personally, I am tired of postmodern jargon, and artists and curators who use it hide their lack of creativity and ingenuity.

1/23/2009 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

I think the breath spray is a perfect analogy to contemporary art. If it doesnt make sense to the viewer then it's inaccessible, ineffective and a failure - even if its an original idea, i think it still has to answer the 'so what' factor in its own defense- is it interesting? does it speak a truth? does it make me feel something? I lose patience with anything that is too thinly crafted, too heady, repetitive or redundant to what i've seen before. we went to see a video screening at white columns gallery last year that were out of focus, boring, pointless, etc... but they were in the Whitney Biennial!

1/23/2009 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Marc Snyder said...

Everyone involved with art should teach a college-level "Intro to Art" for non-majors course, just to get a sense of how foreign contemporary art is to so many people.

An eye-opening moment for me was when one of my students told me she would be embarassed if her mother knew that she had seen a certain artwork in class - this being Michelangelo's David.

Anyway, I think that many people refuse to give visual art the time and thought (or, more accurately, to acknowledge that investing time and thought might enhance their experience of the work) because their primary experience with visual imagery is through advertising. An image should be immediately legible, the meaning should be plain. . .

It often seems that people will at least acknowledge that there might be something in a piece of literature or music or theater that would be revealed through a more careful reading, or repeated listening, or attentive viewing, but refuse to grant the same possibility to the visual arts.

That's been my experience with the "I don't get it" type of conversations - often "I don't get it" seems to be accompanied by a confident "so there's nothing there". Not always, but often.

I'm glad the breath spray is an "As Seen on TV" product. Pretty perfect.

1/23/2009 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

I don't get some of the stuff I see. Why should we expect a non-art person to get it? Case in point: the recent Whitney Biennial. (Except for Lisa Sigal; I loved her work!)

BTW, Chris Rywalt described me as "serious." Ha! I just ordered 12pizzas and had them sent to his house. That'll be $165.50, Chris, without the tip.

1/23/2009 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Here's another one, then, Anon 3:04: Donna Dodson is humorless and frowny.

No, I'm kidding, Donna. I'm surprised you find my comments flip -- not so much offensive, because I'm used to the fact that I offend people, although I honestly don't usually intend to. I'm just a poor judge of what's offensive, not to mention too quick to type. You know that part of your brain that thinks of things it shouldn't say? I've got that. You know the part further down the line that stops you from saying those things? Mine's broken. In all seriousness: My filter is faulty.

I do not generally mean to be glib or inane. I've thought a lot about many of the things I write on Ed's blog here. Maybe I'm not as smart as I think I am, but then who is?

Now, back to Anon 3:04. I actually haven't met that many of the people here. Ed and Joanne, yes, but not George. I only know George from Franklin's blog (who I've met also, and even had in my house), but Franklin's blog is smaller and more cozy than Ed's, so I feel like I know George better than some others.

I actually don't think I could scribble up a short description of too many people here.

Now, George: I wasn't really saying that too much is inaccessible, I was saying that the people I know (outside the art world) think too much art is inaccessible. In this case, too, I was thinking in terms of intellectual accessibility -- as J Jenkins there wrote, you need a university degree to understand the wall text. Actually I'd go one further and say you need a university degree and the ability to shut off actual thought to understand it; all that postmodern jargon boils down to hot air if you really try to unravel it.

I don't think too much art is inaccessible, I think too much art is shallow and stupid and ugly. Whole different thing.

Still, I do think it's worthwhile to ask something like "What are the requirements for 'getting it'?" We've been over this before, but of course I'll say it again: I believe the only requirement should be that the viewer be human and have eyes.

I'd say this product is intended to satirize the idea that "getting it" is a complex process: Either the creators agree with me (that art should be easily gotten) or they disagree wildly and think "getting it" should take some effort and is (or should be) worth it.

And now I have to beg forgiveness if all this is rambling and weird, because I'm withdrawing from some medication and I'm even further off the ball than usual.

1/23/2009 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Joanne, I'm very serious about pizza. Do you think I couldn't eat twelve?

1/23/2009 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

Thanks Chris. Since WE've never met, I'll tell you the truth about me- I smile alot... but back to the topic. I wanted to say that I agree, art is an experience as much as it is something to look at it is also something to feel and think about and I agree with the concept of taking something in to be able to get it and experience it. I am also probably not the best person to ask if I will give everything a chance in order to get it. I am a selfish looker- and only look at stuff I might get something from. ON the other hand, at this stage of the game, I dont get much out of anything I see. I only get something out of being in my studio and working... Is most contemporary art inaccessible? That's a good question. In general, art is very subjective and I think it's just really hard to answer that question with a definitive answer because you'd have to ask to whom is it accessible or inaccessible. Is it just an insider's game? Sure, in some ways it is, but there are so many artists using so many different media that it's hard to answer who is getting it and who doesnt get it and what 'it' is...

1/23/2009 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

The first assignment I have my 2D design students do is bring in an ad from a magazine and describe in their own words what it is and why they like it. I then have them cut up the ad and rearrange it in a way that they like and describe it again.

They usually have difficulty describing the "abstract" recombine, but i get them to try to offer their intuitive feelings.

Once we go thru a lecture on formal design principles, I have them repeat the assignment and they usually have a much easier time seeing the formal relationships and describing them. They sometimes also add some other non-formal associations as well.

Im gonna do an Obama here and say that I accept as false the choice between visually illiterate people and those who are somehow "in the know". I think any artwork can be considered, interpreted, and perhaps enjoyed by anyone. Human beings (as Chris states) have eyes (or some way to receive stimuli) and a brain. We naturally make associative connections and responses. A lot of work is ambiguous (perhaps some when it doesn't necessarily need to be). But I think ambiguity makes one even more capable of relating to it. I think once folks realize that they do not need a degree to get it, that they have their own experiences available to intuitively respond to a work,and that it is okay if that response is totally different from someone else's, then art doesn't seem so inaccessible after all.

1/23/2009 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

For art that is accessible there is always Kincade and the thousands of other artists working with similar intentions.

What? That's not real art? Who says so? Because it is accessible to a large segment of the audience?

One of the contemporary problems is a result of the expansion of genres we now consider art. Since they are new, we have fewer reference points to judge the artworks by. Painting on the other hand has a long history and if someone paints an ugly nude, it's fairly obvious.

Some artists want to confine a definition of "art" to the strictly visual, to eliminate all conceptual or literary references as irrelevant. Unfortunately, the culture is the final arbitrator on this point and clearly has rejected it.

So we are faced with two problems. The first is the failure of postmodern criticism, which I believe is a failure of language, to adequately discuss all artworks over the last fifty years. Postmodern criticism has become a private game in academia and has failed its audience.

At the same time, modernist criticism has also failed by becoming so inbred in its philosophical positions that it has become totally irrelevant.

These critical failures have created an environment which obscures our abilities to directly evaluate works in the new genres. The audience tends to fall back on the "accompanying text" rather than think through the process for themselves.

The second problem is time, we are discussing recent artworks and not "getting them". Suppose you are a painter, you can look at a Pollock, a de Kooning, a Picasso, a Monet, etc, famous great paintings which were radical in the past but which are now generally accepted by the audience.

I had a wonderful conversation with a stranger in the Jewish Museum about Pollock's "Convergence" and DeKooning's "Gotham News" [Link] This woman kept insisting she didn't know anything about "modern art" but when I asked her which painting she liked better she said "Gotham News" and proceeded to explain what it was that attracted her to it.

These were paintings which had entered history, which had been validated and were in a museum, so it was ok to like them, or to try to like them as the case may be.

I'm sure there are readers here who have no use for Pollock or De Kooning, you can work your way down the list of artists who were inaccessible in the past. There is a difference between artworks which are initially inaccessible and artworks which are weak and use inaccessibility to feign importance.

Modern art, art since Goya, exists with a different mandate. It is no longer driven by mimetic need to represent the world as an image, rather it is now driven by the exploration of the very nature of our knowledge of the world. Some of the classical approaches, certain types of representation for example, are mimetic in nature and allow for a simple correspondence as an entry into understanding the art works.

However, it is the very path of modernism which collides with accessibility because by its very nature it is driven to explore the hidden side of how we view our world. These explorations include our presuppositions about what art should be, much to the chagrin of many here.

A difficulty for the museum guide is that much of the newest work has not been 'filtered' and is discussed using a contemporary dialogue which may be obscure. This is the identical condition which existed during the high period of Abstract Expressionism, brushy, expressionist paintings were everywhere. They were talked about, explained, dismissed, whatever, a dialogue like we have now. Name ten artists we still remember.

Modernism is a phenomena, it is not temporally bound. Therefor there is no such thing as postmodernism.

1/23/2009 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger The Reader said...

Thanks Mark Creegan for this perfect summation, referring to the inhaler he says "Can I get one for string theory and this economic crisis thing?"

For some its hard to accept that the visual arts could be an field of endeavor that could have a level of complexity and nuance that might parallel fields such as astrophysics. Most astrophysical journals are a little inaccessible to me but I can definitely see both a path of study that would help me to understand that material and the value of pursuing that kind of study.

Point being if you want to know there are ways to find out (now more than ever) and the knowledge you gain in the process will help your realize when a wall sheet in a Museum is more bullsh#$$ than substance.

1/24/2009 05:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Hmmm... I don't know that many visual artists who aim to reach the widest audience possible. Otherwise. why exhibit in a Chelsea gallery? Who has the time to go there except people whose job commands it or who are self-dedicated passionate? The rare times I brought non-art people in Chelsea they always complained that there was no restroom and benches and got exhausted after 2 hours. Then, let's face it: the artworld is a circus of snobbery. More than anywhere else you will find there people who seems to seriously think they are more intelligent and sensible than the common mind (all this because they can talk for an hour about some very stupid art piece that they interprete as an expression of brilliancy). Sometimes, it makes one want to follow Joaquin Phoenix and start a very bad musical career out of the same reasons he got fed up by Hollywood.


+++Franklin's blog is smaller and +++more cozy than Ed's

(spilled my tea on the computer screen): Cozy? It's like trying to sit on a line of pitchforks!

Donna: I feel like explaining the most obvious joke, and maybe you actually already got that, but the mints simply mean that avant-garde is fresh. I don't think it's anything more sophisticated than that. It's not trying to make experiencial art out of tasting mints. It's humor.

Anon, 3:04: I can test my medium
abilities on you. Wait. Striking a pose here: Hmmmmmmmmmmm....
(big buzzy humming in tha room).
Ok: just tell me how far off I am:
woman, between 30 to 50, a friend or knowledge of Edward, a great communicator, usually not one who stand in anonimity, one who has to deal a lot with personal anxieties, is seriously considering celibacy, who's doing fair well (average) in a business that requires a lot of meetings with people. You have a tendency to count a little too much on others (opportunistic). You are materialist (even obsessed). You have weird hysteric crisis at times. You prefer the company of intellectuals (obviously, this is an art blog). (woman here can also mean homosexual male, but it has to be effeminate. Not a lesbian.). When meditating on the language of the souls, the Tarot card that I "received" (imagined) was the Impress.

;-D


Cedric Caspe

1/24/2009 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Everyone involved with art should teach a college-level "Intro to Art" for non-majors course, just to get a sense of how foreign contemporary art is to so many people.

This is the truth. I once taught Art Appreciation to a roomful of community college students in Miami. These kids could barely get their heads around the color wheel. At the end of the semester, one of them thanked me for broadening her horizons - she never thought that she would ever like art that wasn't graffiti.

All things being equal, I tend to side with the folks who conclude that nothing is there, because they are often quite correct. I feel bad for people who toddle morosely through installations of the dreary banalities that pass for contemporary art, foreheads clenched, trying to glean the merest crumb of artistic compensation from objects that will not yield one. I witnessed as much on our last trip to the Boston ICA, and I said afterwards to my wife how inspired I felt to go home and make art for people who are not contemporary museum curators. True, a lot of people out there are ignorant, lazy, nonvisual, and unworldly. But the worst thing you can do to your taste is not to fail to educate it, but to educate it without exercising it. Consequently, non-art-worlders will frequently produce disproportionately sophisticated assessments about art, while experts have been just as frequently ruined by training that presupposed that whether they like a given work of art is unimportant.

1/24/2009 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Judith Schaechter said...

I think its alienating when theoretical discourse replaces vision in an artwork. Usually its also unbelievably boring. Is it a surprise the public finds it inaccessible? A lot of art requires a lot of reading to get it. I disagree with the poster who said most understandable art is boring. I don't want to spend my time deciphering some thesis--I want to get it and then be enthralled by it--I like it when the familiar is somehow made new, enlightening. I don't find art initellectual--its intelligence is some other form unto itself.


The audience for art hasn't really been the public in a long, long time! That's a pity, but there you go.

1/24/2009 08:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

I should make capsules each time
that I read something from an art
critic that I just find elapsing
from common sense:


Example:

Catherine Wood: (Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore by Marc Leckey) "represents the human subject striving to spread itself out into a reduced dimensionality."

Cedric (artsnob tone): Collegue, Are you certain they're not actually experiencing an expansion of their dimensionality (dramatic pause)....perhaps, as a necessary eschewal, or decampment, from the subjugations of the circadian mundane and banality? Doesn't the video aim to portray both the intermittencies and the intemporalities of a synchronal hegira of the youth?

Zzzz......

The general public is annoyed by discussions like these. They can accept the anthropological quality
of a work like Leckey's, but I think they're not interested in people over-theorizing art when art takes a much simplier path in connecting the same ideas. I believe curators and critics are more responsible than artists in having built a bubble of "hermeticity" around contemporary arts. I believe the common public will understand Leckey's video very well if it is not intellectually engrossed and forcefed. This pseudo-intelligentsia within the art discourse is only rebuking to the average public, and the artworld needs more artists and curators interested in getting out of the ivory universities and absolving their semantic washi-wallas in a language that can reach the everyday masses.

(I know Zipth would disagree)


Cedric Xas

1/24/2009 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger pam farrell said...

I'm with Joanne on this one. (not about the pizzas, but about "getting" or not "getting" some art.) The whole experience of viewing art is, IMHO, very subjective. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't. And sometimes it's a matter of a piece resonating for reasons yet to be realized--or not. Sometimes I like a piece and don't get it; sometimes I get it but don't like it. etc etc etc

What I don't understand is why this discussion has to become about personality aspects of posters to this blog.

1/24/2009 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

George sez:
For art that is accessible there is always Kincade and the thousands of other artists working with similar intentions.

I'd posit that much of the "inaccessible" contemporary art is made with the same intention as Kinkade's but aimed at a different audience. Thomas Kinkade has built a factory to make objects which sell to (usually Christian) people without challenging their ideas or preconceptions about what art is or should be. Damien Hirst has done exactly the same thing, only the religion and the preconceptions are different. The same could be said of Tara Donovan or any number of the other usual suspects one brings up in these conversations.

There is a difference between artworks which are initially inaccessible and artworks which are weak and use inaccessibility to feign importance.

Agreed. I find a lot of the latter and almost none of the former. In fact I'd say that, in good art, that initial inaccessibility is an illusion.

Modern art, art since Goya, exists with a different mandate. It is no longer driven by mimetic need to represent the world as an image, rather it is now driven by the exploration of the very nature of our knowledge of the world.

I agree with the first part of this but I'm uncomfortable with the second part. Certainly art was, at some point, cut loose from mimesis. Actually, I think if you look at it, you'll find the era of realism was very short -- art's been used for much more than mimesis for a long time.

However, I don't think modernist art is necessarily limited to exploring how we know what we know. In fact I think that's postmodernist. I don't think art is about exploring intellect at all. Art isn't a branch of philosophy or metaphysics. Art is an exploration of other parts of the human mind, the non-linguistic, non-word based, non-conscious parts of our mind. Insofar as art explores the nature of our knowledge of the world, it's philosophy, not art.

1/24/2009 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Art is useless, thus it can never be understood completely.

1/24/2009 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cedric,

"You have weird hysteric crisis at times ... (woman here can also mean homosexual male, but it has to be effeminate. Not a lesbian.)"

WTF?

That is offensive and just weird on so many levels.

1/24/2009 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

People seem to be less interested in talking about specific works of art and the issues of accessibility or difficulty that they raise (the subject of the post), and are more interested in talking about themselves. You can even take this comment as a case in point.

1/24/2009 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Don't get stuck in "the accessible"

You wanted accessible and I gave you Kincade. Kincade is accessible because he conforms to what people "expect" a painting to be. I suspect this is what most painters are doing. They have an inherited idea about what a painting is supposed to be, something validated by past history, and they are trying to put their own little twist on it. Kincade is better than most at this.

The factory argument is spurious, it really doesn't matter and it's a model passed down through history.

Tara Donavan makes exquisitely visual sculptures, they require no interpretation to appreciate. They are 'accessible' without resorting to a pandering of the expected. Now, I can understand how the myriad's of craft reliant sculptors with their saws and torches might feel threatened by someone who "just stacks up stuff", but in all honesty, Donavan's sculptures are a better visual experience than a pile of welded scrap metal.

I said "rather it [modernist art] is now driven by the exploration of the very nature of our knowledge of the world." -- "Driven" does not mean "about"

The developing technologies of the last 150 years have changed forever how we view our world. We no longer need to queue up to see a picture of the Execution of the Emperor Maximilian, we have FOX News, CNN, BBC etc.

We have photography, the mechanical point mapping of light, which gives us the illusion of what we think we are seeing. In concordance with this, we have representational painting which can be judged by just about anyone based upon notions of "fidelity", an accurate point to point mapping. This is all about craft and confuses the issue by making such artworks appear accessible.

Further, there are a number of other methods which appeal to the viewer, don't require much responsive thought, and achieve accessibility. For example, by being merely pretty.

Just to confuse the issue, I want to emphasize that I think all these tricks, or characteristics, are part of what makes art be art, but they are not the only characteristics of art. Artists are free to choose how they direct their creative energies and if this direction is away from the known, the validated paradigms of the past, then the audience may find the works less "accessible."

One primary difficulty which I do not think can be resolved is that "inaccessible" artworks may require time to become integrated into the general culture. This is a filtering process which sorts through the artworks over time but in the present they all exist simultaneously, the good with the bad and we are forced to sort them out on our own.

Never the less, the suggestion that their is some conspiracy of modern art which elevates "that stuff" and which ignores "what is good" is false. The culture, artists, critics, curators, collectors, and the interested public, decide on what they want to see as art. They choose collectively in the present Even though they may revise their opinions in the future, it does not change what is considered art, only how important it is then being perceived.

1/24/2009 01:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

True Creative Art has purpose, always has, always will. It is simply much easier to call oneself an artiste by buying a degree and accepting the lowered ceiling of the Acadamies, saying anything is art, and that it is useless. Art is the highest common denominator, not the lowest.

1/24/2009 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Can you think of a specific work of art we can discuss, Catherine? I think the trouble there is that any discussion of a specific work of art brings too many outside issues: Is it good? Did I see it in person? What did Reviewer X who I love say about it? What did Reviewer Y who I hate say about it? Is the artist a woman, man, black, white, alien from the planet Zarquon, and how do amateur sociology and psychology relate to their position in the art world?

I mean, upon thinking of a specific work we could discuss, I immediately thought of Tara Donovan's cups at PaceWildenstein. But anyone who's read me in the past couple of years knows what I think about that and that's going to cloud discussions.

Also, my brain still isn't a hundred percent, so if I try to discuss this coherently, I'll probably make more of an ass of myself than I usually do. But since when has that stopped me?

Now, I'd say Donovan's work is easily accessible until someone really asks the obvious question, which is "Why?" As long as you don't ask why -- the way you don't ask why about a cloud or a waterfall -- it's perfectly accessible, because Donovan's cups are exactly what they are. I don't think they're really intended to be anything else: They're not used symbolically, metaphorically, or metonymically. She's not trying to prod us into thinking about landfills or manufacturing capacity or the human impulse to collect. I really think she's just making big piles of stuff and saying, check this out! Doesn't it look neat? I bet you never thought of cups like this!

But I think almost any viewer, faced with the cups, is going to ask why? Why cups? Why so many? What's the point? And I don't think there's a good, real answer that will satisfy most non-art people. Here, read this from PaceWildenstein's site:

"[Donovan] earned acclaim for her ability to discover how the inherent physical characteristics of an object might allow it to be transformed into art. The artist goes on to explore the multiplication of these interactions, at times utilizing hundreds of thousands or millions of units, to generate powerful perceptual phenomenon and subtle atmospheric effects."

In other words, "Check out all these cups! You can stack them! Isn't this cool?"

Which is perfectly accessible, really. But isn't satisfying to most normal people who work regular jobs and wonder why someone gets to spend all their time directing other people in how to pile up trash.

In fact the only reaction that's going to satisfy any viewer is if they look at the array of cups and are viscerally, visually moved by it. J.T. Kirkland -- we first saw the show together -- was. I wasn't. At that level, there is no "why," and there's perfect accessibility.

Okay, I've thrown out some thoughts on something specific. Anyone else?

1/24/2009 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

George sez:
Tara Donavan makes exquisitely visual sculptures, they require no interpretation to appreciate. They are 'accessible' without resorting to a pandering of the expected.

What's funny is that what you wrote, George, and what I wrote crossed, and somehow we both ended up saying the same thing. We agree! (Although, hey, I can spell Tara's name.)

Never the less, the suggestion that their is some conspiracy of modern art which elevates "that stuff" and which ignores "what is good" is false.

I don't think there's a conspiracy, I think there's a groupthink. Kinkade "conforms to what people 'expect' a painting to be" while Donovan or Hirst equally conform to what art world people "expect" a work of art to be: not a painting, for one thing; likely to make non-art people scoff or ask what the hell; and of a mammoth physical scale that says "important." There are probably other ways in which they conform, but I can't think of any right now.

I consider Hirst, Koons, Donovan -- and I know that just putting poor Tara into the same list with Damien and Jeff pisses people off -- to be pandering to their audience just as much as Kinkade panders to his, with the same unfortunate results: A dumbing, numbing down of the audience and alienation of outsiders who might have something worthwhile to add if they joined in. To say nothing of the diversion of resources from worthy recipients (how many of my paintings could be bought for the cost of Hirst's skull? Infinity!).

In a sense I can see this breath spray as saying that the difference between Kinkade and Hirst is just that slight, that you could take the right chemical and make the switch. But I'm probably projecting.

1/24/2009 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

No Chris that was very coherent. I think you are correct that the "why" is a barrier for most people because usually the answer is not consistent with normal forms of use and commodity culture.

I read Lewis Hyde's "The Gift" recently and was greatly affected by his ideas where he is separating creative "gift" value from use value. I think there are some who are constantly in tune with that gift exchange, we rely on it and feel renewed when we experience it. The ultimate "why" is to simply experience a human creative act.

When there is a great, broad suffering (like 9/11) this need is felt by a much broader range of people than usual. Few of us fell we "need" these experiences on a regular basis.

1/24/2009 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

It's true that in the case of Tara Donovan her "why" isn't consistent with normal forms of use; but that's not, I'd suggest, the problem. Most artists don't work for reasons that are consistent with commodity culture. (Although I think, really, some do -- Hirst, Koons, and ultimately probably Donovan, too. But that's a separate argument.)

The problem isn't that the answer to "why?" isn't comprehensible in utilitarian terms. It's that the "why?" isn't comprehensible in any terms unless you have that visceral, visual reaction. (That a person skilled in artspeak can contort themselves into an intellectual stance for the work is beside the point.) "Because it looks groovy" isn't a good answer to most non-art people unless it comes out as "Because HOLY SHIT it looks GROOVY!" (Art people seem to be content to stroke their chins on the sidelines and murmur, "Hmm, I sense grooviness here." Because it's cool to be like Spock but not cool to be like Kirk.)

If you paint, let's say, human figures, the "why" is built in. Because people are naturally interested in people. Commodity culture doesn't enter into it.

So the "why" question with Donovan -- the thing that makes her art possibly inaccessible, possibly incomprehensible -- isn't about commodity culture, it's about answering "Why should I be interested in plastic cups any more than I was before I walked into PaceWildenstein?"

If you have that visual reaction, like J.T., the answer is obvious. If you don't, it isn't. I suppose we could then move on to thinking something like, okay, how prevalent amongst humans is this visual, visceral reaction to Donovan's piles of cups? What accounts for that prevalence?

I think to some degree -- getting back to George -- that's a preoccupation of modernism, or anyway something modernism is working with empirically.

1/24/2009 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Chris, No.

What I said and what you said are not the same.

You've said Why cups? Why so many? What's the point?, not just here but in prior discussions of this piece. What I suggest you are doing is making a perfectly accessible artwork, inaccessible because of a prejudice over methods and materials.

If one just looks at Donovan's sculpture, it can be experienced on many levels. One is its ethereal cloud-like occupation of the gallery space. So when you ask a question like "why cups?" I would say what else would have produced the same effect? Why do artists use charcoal? or oil paint?

Never the less, the suggestion that their is some conspiracy of modern art which elevates "that stuff" and which ignores "what is good" is false.

Again you don't get it. "That stuff" refers to Koons, Donovan, Hirst, Prince and the rest of the current art stars. The "what is good" refers to those who are excluded.

The problem is that the assumptions being made by the excluded are false, they are not willing to accept the world as it really is. That Jasper Johns is a major painter. How major may be debatable, but that he has made a significant contribution to the history of art, is not. Further, I would go as far as to say the same thing about Hirst and Koons.

When I said Kincade is accessible because he conforms to what people "expect" a painting to be. I was being pejorative and referring to a traditional conservative mindset about what painting should be.

In all of this, you are making one fatal error, you are assuming that Hirst and the others are in control of their art historical status, they are not. One can pander to the marketplace, it's a form of marketing, but that does not explain the cultural prominence of artists like Johns, Hirst or Koons etc.

It is the culture which makes these decisions, period.

1/24/2009 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

oh,I had wanted to also mention that when someone (who is not very much knowledgeable about art) suspends judgment (forgets about asking the "why"), that person can often get a more insightful and direct reading/experience than one of us "experts".

'tis true I say!

1/24/2009 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

+++That is offensive and just ++weird on so many levels.

I'm fine with weird, but I was just having fun trying to "guess" mademoiselle overcurious Anonymous through transcendental Tarot, and there is just no way in the world that The Impress can be either a masculine woman or an average gay man. It's an image of feminity. And prone to emotional outbursts. Deal with it. ;-) And next time you ask about other people under anonymous forms, beware of the Cedric.


+++specific works of art

We did! At least I did. Chris did. George did? I guess no one has anything to say about Marc Leckey's video and how any drug-induced guru of the Rave era would tell you that it was all about the "expansion of their
dimensionality",



The big peoblem in contemporary arts is that it is generally referencing something and the general public, including the cognoscenti, is generally lacking this referrant. upon aesthetic approval That is why most recent art depends on the PR. I have absolutely no problems with that. I just don't understand the discussion about trying to reach a wider public if as an artist you
are not interested with that, and interested in making yourself clear, or interested in appealing to the masses in any way conceivable.

I agree that Hirst and Donovan are more accessible and therefore probably deserve mass success, such as Vik Muniz achieved since his recent retrospective.


Donovan cups was good because it was a spectacular 3D landscape,
with a very blunt red alert about the mass production of ephemeral goods. I dont see why people are pissed. It was both beautiful and blunt. Almost violent.


+++metaphorically,

Well, the towers function a little like molecules. It's also
about how human industry repeats cycles and orders inherent of nature, like the cells in a beehive. There is that pure visual quality that reference minimalism. But if Donovan refuses to read it as an ecological alert, than she will hate the public response about it. There is a limit to how an artist can be condescending about the interpretation of their public. Let it tell you what your work is about.





++++Tara into the same list with Damien and Jeff pisses people off -


Either I read too much into Koons, or he's using referrants that escape the general public and common critic. Damien and Tara are more "in-yer-face", but some Damien have referrants.


Cheers,

Cedric C

1/24/2009 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

George sez:
Chris, No. What I said and what you said are not the same. You've said Why cups? Why so many? What's the point?, not just here but in prior discussions of this piece.

I've said that stuff too, yes. But I also said: "...it's perfectly accessible, because Donovan's cups are exactly what they are. I don't think they're really intended to be anything else: They're not used symbolically, metaphorically, or metonymically....In fact the only reaction that's going to satisfy any viewer is if they look at the array of cups and are viscerally, visually moved by it."

And you said: "Tara Donavan makes exquisitely visual sculptures, they require no interpretation to appreciate. They are 'accessible' without resorting to a pandering of the expected."

Now, we disagree in that I think she's pandering as much as Kinkade. (Maybe -- see my caveat below.) I mean, she could've made an "ethereal cloud-like occupation of the gallery space" by carefully carving a zillion little things out of Carrera marble. But she didn't. You ascribe motives to me -- "a prejudice over methods and materials" -- but fail to ascribe the same in reverse, to Donovan herself and her dealers, who are (possibly) prejudiced against traditional materials.

Again you don't get it. "That stuff" refers to Koons, Donovan, Hirst, Prince and the rest of the current art stars. The "what is good" refers to those who are excluded.

The problem is that the assumptions being made by the excluded are false, they are not willing to accept the world as it really is.


I'd like to point out, for the record, as it were, that I absolutely do not consider myself one of the excluded in any way. In order for me to be excluded I'd have had to try to be included, which I haven't (yet) done. I haven't been rejected because I haven't applied. (Which is not to say that I won't be rejected once I do. I just don't know.)

Moving on:

That Jasper Johns is a major painter. How major may be debatable, but that he has made a significant contribution to the history of art, is not. Further, I would go as far as to say the same thing about Hirst and Koons....In all of this, you are making one fatal error, you are assuming that Hirst and the others are in control of their art historical status, they are not. One can pander to the marketplace, it's a form of marketing, but that does not explain the cultural prominence of artists like Johns, Hirst or Koons etc.

It is the culture which makes these decisions, period.


I think you're making your own fatal error, which is that the culture has already made the decision. It's been far, far too soon. Right now all we have are market decisions. Sure, Koons, Hirst, Donovan, they're in museums. But museums have a lot of crap they keep in storage. Who knows if all of "that stuff" will end up in storage? Two hundred years from now it may well be not even Jasper Johns will be considered "major." (I can hope.)

Which brings me to my next point:

When I said Kincade is accessible because he conforms to what people "expect" a painting to be. I was being pejorative and referring to a traditional conservative mindset about what painting should be.

And I'm being pejorative in referring to the current mindset about what art should be, i.e. big, stupid, and senseless, like a pile of plastic cups, a pickled shark, or a balloon animal rendered in chrome. In other words, the very "inaccessibility" of contemporary art is what makes it worthwhile -- the fact that Hirst's shark simply cannot be explained, and in fact is a laughingstock, is precisely why the upper echelons of the art world find it so valuable. I mean, seriously, Hirst's cultural prominence is as a punchline, a sad streak of highlight marker drawn over the sentence "This is how stupid contemporary art has gotten, and how gullible today's collectors are."

(I'm willing, by the way, to be argued out of putting Tara Donovan in the same category; enough decent people I know personally like her work too much for me to feel totally comfortable consigning her to this infamous company. I don't personally respond to her work, and I suspect it's possible her motivations are the same as Hirst, Koons, Currin, and so on; but it's also possible she's sincere and serious and childlike and all those good things and I just don't like her work.)

1/24/2009 07:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

For the record, it's not that we treat George poorly per se at Artblog.net; it's that we take target-rich comments such as the one at 4:17 and unload ordnance into them for fun. The ad hominems, the mistaking of opinions for facts, the amalgamation of artistic decisions into a blob called "the culture" onto which no responsibility can be pinned - it's practically a work order for a beating. I'll let Chris get this one, though.

1/24/2009 07:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your friend did you well, Ed.
That breath spray is going to make you a very wealthy art dealer, perhaps even president one day. Well at least President of The Bank.

If you think you don't know, then you don't know. Ask anyone is the thought business and they will tell you the same important thing. As you think you are. And as you are you see.

A little spay a day and more exposure. That will fix it.

c.p.

1/24/2009 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

Tara Donaovan's sensual beauty also makes me have to pee. I think this is a big reason why she is so accessible, everyone in the course of a day is taken over by their own excess and the need to pee. That's different than Kincade, different than Cave's Soundsuits or Tzarev's "Post-Impressionsim."

Being specific about things is so much more fun than making it up.

1/24/2009 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger C. L. DeMedeiros said...

LOL

i NEED that spray
to go through some
so called art blogs

1/24/2009 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger C. L. DeMedeiros said...

my goodness!!!???
everybody is speaking in tongue
for themselves,
talking to the own belly bottom
now I understand...

1/24/2009 09:11:00 PM  
Anonymous David Richardson said...

The bar for being inaccessable is really quite low. The Boston ICA, Franklin, is almost a cartoon of curator's art - something about out New Yorking New York in the provinces I think. It's been like that for 30 years. The audience there tend to wander with a look of studied savvy, occasionally nodding with a knowing smile, as if to say: yes, I drank the Kool Aid too. And they leave feeling very good about themselves. I think the public responds to Koons because the experience is surprise that anyone would think to make a 15' shiny balloon figure in stainless steel and then sell it for millions. That's another kind of cartoon, and most people like cartoons.

Now as for a real art experience, I recall seeing a couple in the huge Joseph Cornell show at the Peabody Museum a few years back. Now who would not be charmed by Cornell? But the woman really struggled at first. In the first room, and in spite of very literate wall labels that were mostly biographical and not at all jargony, this lovely lady went from piece to piece with a frown saying out loud "what is that?" The husband followed along like he was waiting for her to pick out a dress. By the third room, her expression was beatific. Her ability to read images had kicked in. It was wonderful to watch. This experience is denied to ordinary people in so much contemporary art. And the wall label art is not even all that intellectually stimulating. I mean if there was a true intellectual adventure to be had, I think that intelligent people, like this woman at the Cornell show, would get it. But so much is just goop (I don't know if Pretty Lady coined this, but I read it first from her and it's my new favorite art word). So people are left with a cartoon experience, or if you think you're a little cooler than that, a warm, knowing, savvy experience. The popular media don't help much either and tend to play both ends of these two poles - loving the cartoon while indulging in savvy. My heart goes out to the folks who have to teach this stuff.

1/25/2009 12:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

So many participants here are into painting and make painting, and don't seem to understand how someone can be utterly bored by that medium, that little rectangle of colors that dates back from the medieval era, and thus how someone might be interested in contemporary arts because they are looking for other forms of expressions (or even other formats for paintings).


Donovan is doing just that. She is simply "expanding" the "dimensionality" (gosh...) of painting.

The Cups piece is VERY post-conceptual in the way it is zigzagging between an upfront appeal to our aesthetic senses, and then throw us back to thinking about the materials used and what they propose about the "narrative" of the work. The canvas not as a theatre stage for representation anymore, but as an object filled with inner anthropological meanings.

Why did Charles Manson wrote Helter Skelter using blood?
It's the same "why" as Donovan. Material here is purposeful,
not redundant.


Cedric Casper

1/25/2009 01:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris, I hesitate to go all "older and wiser" on you (and don't want to turn this into a personal attack), but when you use phrases such as "poor Tara" and "But anyone who's read me in the past couple of years knows what I think about that" (where exactly are we supposed to have read you? On your blog? In the comments sections of other blogs?) you start to sound very self-important, and as if you have established yourself as some sort of expert. You're kind of new to the art game - making it, thinking about it, writing about it - but you don't show much beginner's humility.

When you first drop in to a conversation that has been going on for quite a while before your arrival, the smart thing to do is to listen and learn a bit before making your pronouncements. Of course everyone is entitled to his/her opinion but just walking into a show cold, without any familiarity with the artist's previous work (and without a lot of experience with contemporary art in general) and "reviewing" it on your blog does not make you an authority.

Some of us have been at it (making art, looking at it, thinking about it, etc.) for a couple of decades and we still don't rush to judgment about an artist after seeing one piece of theirs. I've been following Tara Donovan's work since she showed at Ace Gallery in Los Angeles over 10 years ago. The 2006 cup piece at Pace was not one of my all-time favorites of hers, but even work that is not her best is pretty damn good work. I found her shows at Ace (NY and LA) stunning, and I was interested in her working process, her influences and affinities with other artists, her balance between craft and concept, etc., and discussed these subjects with her in interview for Artnet at the time of her Pace show in 2006:

http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/stender/stender4-3-06.asp

We're talking about someone who has been working steadily, with thought, purpose and dedication for years, and it galls me to see someone who just decided to take up painting a couple of years ago dismiss her or put her in the same category as Kincade. "Poor Tara" doesn't need your approval (she has earned the praise and respect of many, many others) but you know that expression Ars Longa, Vita Brevis? (Art is long; life is short.) Think about it. Your life in art has been short. Maybe give it a little more time. And again, I apologize for what may seem like me criticizing you personally, and if Ed admonishes I will have to take my medicine, but I felt it needed to be said. Now that it's off my chest, I feel better.

Peace, love and warm feelings.

Oriane Stender

1/25/2009 02:27:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Just for the sake of argument. Catherine said, Has anyone been to the Tzarev gallery on 57th? It is a dismaying symptom of a perceived - and likely there - market for a very sentimental accessibility.[Tzarev]

Tzarev is an interesting case. Certainly her paintings are 'accessible' but I wouldn't characterize them as sentimental. They are not my cup of tea, but as paintings go, they are better than a lot of stuff you see in other galleries.

Maybe context is an issue, after all not many of us can afford our own galleries.

But, she is a 70 year old woman, who loves painting, has an obvious joy for life, is a hard worker and just happens to be rich enough to indulge herself. More power to her.

1/25/2009 08:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

Reading the excellent interview of Oriane with Tara, I would say my only problem with this artist (which not apparent in the work, only in the interviews) is how she seems to refute or eradicate the language of the readymades she uses.

Those are not modules that she create herself. They are objects of everyday life, and they retain a similar resonance as the Duchamps urinal, that I think is unascapable.

It's the problem with her wanting us to see the Cups as pure modular
objects borrowed for a formalist proposal, and the public wanting to read a purpose through the hypothetical meanings of the use of these objects. As I said, maybe as I mean to demonstrate how the human industry strive forward repeating forms of nature (celular or others), but I don't see her mentioning nature. I'm not even sure she agrees that the Cups is a landscape?

Cheers,

Cedric Casp

(by the way, I think I missed a retro in Boston, unless that is still up. Or is it going anywhere else? Totally bypassed it.)

1/25/2009 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

[me] It is the culture which makes these decisions, period.

[chris] I think you're making your own fatal error, which is that the culture has already made the decision. It's been far, far too soon. Right now all we have are market decisions.

In my earlier comment I said, "The culture, artists, critics, curators, collectors, and the interested public, decide on what they want to see as art. They choose collectively in the present Even though they may revise their opinions in the future, it does not change what is considered art, only how important it is then being perceived."

My expanded remark takes into account the phenomena of time. The problem here is how much time matters? Are we talking 100 years? because in 100 years we will be dead and it becomes a moot point. I think if you look at modern history, you will see that most artists are either recognized in their lifetimes or forgotten.

Every generation of artists has their nay sayers, the ones who cling to the recently past paradigms insisting they will return. They don't but they may influence artists in the future. Unfortunately, the older generation will either miss this development completely or dismiss it as 'old hat'.

What's interesting is that while the old guard formalists are hanging on by their fingernails, fighting off the postmodernist boogyman, they fail to realize that the postmodernist boogyman has joined them in the historical dust bin, they are both finished.

I think what people get wrong here is that they try to deny artists like Johns, Koons or Hirst (etc) rather than accept their historical relevance and just settle for disliking the work.

1/25/2009 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

Tara's show at the ICA is gone. I just missed it myself so my comments on the ICA were not about her work - I was quite disappointed to miss it and I'll look forward to reading Oriane's review. And in spite of my comments, the ICA was a beacon of sorts at a formative time for me - 25 to 30 years ago - and I'll always appreciate what they brought to Boston when the rest of the scene was quite dull.

1/25/2009 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Catherine sez:
Tara Donaovan's sensual beauty also makes me have to pee.

I wouldn't put myself up as an expert on your writing or anything, Catherine, but this is easily the most honest and funny thing I've ever read from you.

1/25/2009 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

David Richardson sez:
So people are left with a cartoon experience....

Forget goop -- I think this sums it up perfectly on so many levels. Especially since it relates contemporary art to illustration, comics, and cartoons, all of which have become hopelessly confused in the minds of so many.

Contemporary art is so often a cartoon experience. I really like that.

1/25/2009 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Franklin said...

The bar for being inaccessable is really quite low.

This, and the whole paragraph attached to it, is wonderful.

Oriane, I vouch for Chris's taste, not because it agrees with mine (it often doesn't), but because we've looked at art together and I've witnessed his astute and bold use of it. I'll take it over that of many people I know with longer art careers and fewer insights to show for it.

Donovan's work doesn't do much for me, but my word, those Tzarevs are a fright.

1/25/2009 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

I coined a term! I coined a term! Hooray!

1/25/2009 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Regarding Anna Tzarev: I can't say too much about her actual work because I haven't seen it. But I've seen the many, many huge billboards in Times Square and around town, and I went to her Website. I noticed the billboards because her paintings struck me as Van Goghy and I've been on an I Love Van Gogh kick for a while now. And when I got an idea of what she was doing -- opening her own space and skipping the "art establishment" -- I was somewhat impressed by her (or her business managers or whoever) for just jumping in and trying to sell directly to normal humans. In a way it's something I liked about Kinkade, too, until I found out he's a fraud and a thief.

I mean, setting everything else aside -- artistic quality, art history, everything -- isn't it something many artists would like to do, just get their work out there for people to experience? Art's about communication. Artists want to communicate with someone. I'm sure some are picky and only want to communicate with those who "get it" (whatever their particular "it" happens to be) but a lot of artists really just want to have an audience.

I remember sitting in my studio at SVA during open studios and wishing somebody would at least slow down as they walked by. Make fun of my work, make fun of me, sure, whatever, maybe they should have run by; or you can be practical, I mean, I've been to enough open studios to know there's no way to slow down for every artist. There are just too many of them. But I still wish more people had stopped by.

So people like Kinkade or Tzarev, they're grabbing it for themselves, they're making people stop. Big old billboard in Times Square, can't miss it! Store in the mall, have to walk by!

There are a million criticisms to make of their "art" and their methods, but at bottom, man, they're out there, and that's something.

1/25/2009 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Just for the sake of clarity, I wouldn't put Kincade and Tzarev in the same bag. Tzarev is a better artist than Kincade, and better than many of her detractors as well. Unfortunately she is in a win-lose situation, no one will ever be able to deal with her work without the taint of her fortune. I think this is unfortunate because, at least from the reproductions, she appears to be as earnest and passionate about her work as anyone here.

1/25/2009 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

George, how many times do I have to type "Kinkade" before you spell it right yourself? Are you doing it on purpose?

Kinkade and Tzarev may not be exactly the same in terms of motive, but in practical terms, they're doing the same sort of thing. I mean, maybe Tzarev isn't selling her designs to be used on bank checks and La-Z-Boy sofas, and having her name tacked onto movies -- yet.

I don't know if Tzarev is using the factory system -- which, George, we're supposed to accept because everyone does it, right? -- but at bottom, selling yourself and your art entirely outside of normal fine art channels, that's the main thing.

That her art might be sincere, or even good, is not the point, at least as far as we were discussing.

1/25/2009 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

Save "earnest and passionate" for American idol. Unless you are going out of your way to collect " bad painting" (hanging it next to Liz Renay, for ex.) Tzarev horrifies me - go up to the 8th floor and at the end of a pretty dismal hallway you will find an exhibit of self-taught artists that really feeds your eye and spirit. That people would spend from 50,000 to millions on Tzarev's derivative ghastliness when they all they need to do is take the REAL elevator to happiness is just sad. There are some damn good galleries in that building, no matter what your preference is. If there is one dollar spent on Tzarev that could have been guided upstairs, it is a crying shame. Most of you seem to be treating "accessibility" as though there is a standard measure for it and there is most definitely not (this was my [actually quite serious] point about Donovan) as many exhibits currently in 24 East 57th will attest.

1/25/2009 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Tara's show is going to Cincinatti, than Des Moines than San Diego. I might be crazy enough to try and reach it. We'll see.

Cedric C

1/25/2009 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

George sez:
My expanded remark takes into account the phenomena of time. The problem here is how much time matters? Are we talking 100 years? because in 100 years we will be dead and it becomes a moot point. I think if you look at modern history, you will see that most artists are either recognized in their lifetimes or forgotten.

When I talk about art, George, I'm not talking about the next hundred years. When I make art, I'm not thinking of the next hundred years. I'm talking and thinking about the last 500 years and the next 500. Hell, my son and I were looking at Assyrian sphinxes last month which are almost 3000 years old!

So you say Jasper Johns is an "important" artist. What does that even mean in a world where I can reach out and touch the work of a craftsman from the ninth century BCE?

I'll tell you what it means. It means squat. Some tiny handful of humans think Jasper Johns is King Shit. I don't. I think he's lousy. Our opinions mean nothing. The question is, what is the culture going to think about Johns? That'll tell us whether he's really important.

And there just hasn't been enough time. The culture has ZIP to say about Johns because most of the culture hasn't even seen him yet. There are one billion people in China who, if polled, would have no idea who Jasper Johns is.

So clearly you and I disagree on the time frame we should be considering. I don't think Jasper Johns is important because I don't think enough time has passed for the parameters involved in "important" to kick in. I believe all we're seeing right now are market decisions, not culture decisions. Johns has sold well, therefore he is financially important.

When it comes to artists like Johns, Koons, and so forth, you say I should "accept their historical relevance" -- except how can you even use a word like "history" when discussing people who are still alive? They don't have a historical relevance because history hasn't happened yet! It's still current!

When I look at this art, I want to consider: Is this anything people are going to care about 500 years from now? I firmly believe that 5000 years from now when future humans dig up a Rodin bronze, they're going to give a crap. When they dig up a Koons whatever-his-junk-is-made-of, they're going to be interested in it, if at all, the way we're interested in flint knappers. And there will be nothing at all left of Hirst, thank god.

1/25/2009 06:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I think if you look at modern history, you will see that most artists are either recognized in their lifetimes or forgotten.

I think if you look at any portion of history, newer events are less forgotten than older events.

Jasper Johns will be scarcely remembered.

1/25/2009 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Think this might make a good t-shirt?

1/25/2009 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

I saw Tara Donovan's installation at the Met in the Contemporary Galleries about a year ago but I missed her recent show in Boston at the ICA. i thought, well, so what? i saw alot better work in the new museum of art and design- esp the madam c.j. walker portrait made out of plastic pocket combs and the chandeleiers made out of syringes and the wave made up of 12" vinyl records, etc...

I also saw Elizabeth Peyton's recent show at the NEW Museum- did anyone else? I didnt get the whole Kurt Cobain/Courtney Love 'thing' because I didnt know who they were- Nirvana? I have since heard the song 'Smells like teen spirit' on Patti Smith's 'Twelve' album but KC and CL did not shape my generation and I was not obsessed with their look and I am not familiar with their meaning in pop culture. I liked EP's process of splashing down the gesso? on the canvas and the goopiness of her palette and in her best pictures, her portraits are compelling but it seems like she doesnt know where to go next- (bigger? deeper into her subject matter? narrative? political celebrity? national figures instead of pop icons? paint faster? be more prolific?) maybe she doesnt know how she got to where she is in her work- or who she is or what her work is really about but on the whole, i thought the museum swallowed the installation and i couldnt say what made the work great- and again, so what?

we also saw pipilotti rist and marlene dumas at moma- pipilotti rist's video and installation was ok- sort of over the top but sensual- i could not believe the woman's pubic hair was THAT bright orange but the hair on her head was although the strawberries were green in the pink sea? what irritated me was the end when there is blood dripping down the rib cage of the woman- it seemed very disturbing to me or was it supposed to be strawberry juice? marlene dumas i liked alot- i thought she is very brave to tackle subject matter- not many people can do it- and handle it well- i liked her D'rection piece the most- some of it i didnt get- or it was too literal and the pieces were dependent on the titles or the ideas rathering than soaring along powerfully on their own inherent qualities.

1/25/2009 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

This obsession with the cups pieces suggests you haven't seen that much of Donovan's work Chris...have a gander here and here and here and here

1/25/2009 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Thanks for the link Ed. Donovan's work really can be quite beautiful. It has an element of the "one yuck joke" about it, and 10 years of showing isn't all that long. But she's very clever and has a sensual feel for nature, which is what makes it all work. The "gravity" aspect of some of the pieces make an interesting echo of Serra's prop pieces which lends a sense of the development of an idea.

1/25/2009 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

I like her toothpick cube and the pins. how does her work affect me? I never care about what the whole piece looks like until I can see and understand what the individual little parts are and then i become interested in the relationship between the parts and the whole, and how she made them because the shape of the whole never gets me interested in her work. I liked the comment about how a viewer would think, why does she get to play with plastic cups or elmer's glue all day long and have it be taken seriously as art? i think the only way to discuss the success of the plastic cup piece is to ask if the cloud or the whole visual piece transforms the parts into something else- or said another way- have we glimpsed her world, her vision, when we look at what is on exhibit? or are we looking at a bunch of plastic cups? toothpicks? buttons? that are trying to be art?

1/25/2009 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Obviously some didn't pay attention to my earlier comments regarding how the culture assimilates art into history. Clearly, in the present, there are always recognized artists who will lose their visibility over time.

This does not change the veracity of my statement I think if you look at modern history, you will see that most artists are either recognized in their lifetimes or forgotten.

Jasper Johns has been exhibiting for over fifty years, while it acceptable for people to dislike his work, I think trying to suggest he will be forgotten is wishful thinking. Artists like Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg, Warhol, Basquiat made artworks which were iconic for an age, this guarantees them a place in history.

For those who wish to rely on the late 19th century Academy as an argument for how "popular artists" can later be dismissed by the culture, I would like to suggest that the late 19th century and the late 20th century are markedly different.

Art at the end of the 19th century was entering modernism and discarding the old academic models. This type of change was fueled by the shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy and should last well over a century.

In the present, there is no academy, regardless of how much one dislikes the art being exhibited it cannot be associated with an academy, nor can it even be associated with a particular movement. Geopolitical and demographic changes have made singular art movements impossible, there are just too many successful working artists geographically distributed across the globe.

Moreover, I believe we have just finished the first phase of modernism cumulating with what some call postmodernism (or poststructualism), and that we are now entering into the middle phase of modernism.

This has been facilitated by the expansion of information technologies which allow artists total access to art history and completely alters how artists can approach their work.

For those who mistakenly believe that Duchamp or Warhol or Koons will be forgotten and ignored, you are free to find some other active paradigm in the rich history of art and set down roots. all art competes for the attention of the culture, make your best case for what you believe through your artworks.

1/25/2009 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Chris,

Regarding the 500 year argument.

ONE SIMPLE THING

The work has to be preserved today, next year, in fifty years, and then after your death to even be in contention. The 'art for the ages" is a bogus rationalization. If the art isn't preserved in the present, GAME OVER.

1/25/2009 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I've seen more of Donovan's work. Not a huge amount of it, but some. I saw the room they gave her at the Met. I saw something else on the small side with straws. I forget where.

I just like picking on the cups. Also, there's no Tarot suit for straws or stickers or paper plates. Although that'd be pretty funny, too.

1/25/2009 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I also saw the Dumas show and was deeply unimpressed. Let's not start giving out points just for bravery, okay?

1/25/2009 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I know we love to beat up on Charlie Finch, but I like his take on Dumas also.

1/25/2009 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

George sez:
Artists like Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg, Warhol, Basquiat made artworks which were iconic for an age, this guarantees them a place in history.

Says who? Someone living in the 1980s saw Basquiat and said, "These paintings are iconic for our age!" Except maybe they weren't. Who knows what the "age" is about -- who can even set the start and end points on an age -- while they're living in it?

Back in 1987 I was sure we were living in a decade of great pop music and great fashion. I thought 1987 would go down in history like 1957 did before it.

I was an idiot. 1987 sucked. The music was horrible and we all dressed like idiots.

I couldn't tell that then because I was only 16, and 16-year-olds are morons, and also because I was LIVING IN IT. I thought the 1970s were lousy years in comparison. Looking back, the '70s were a bad time for jeans, afros, polyester, and low gas prices, but for a lot of other things, the '70s were great. Almost all of the several thousand MP3s I listen to are from recordings of the '70s.

Of course I'm being a bit facetious -- trying to compare pop culture crap across decades is pretty dumb. Quick: Genesis, 1970s or 1980s rock? Stupid question. But I'm just trying to illustrate my point on a smaller scale: The present can't see itself. The millstones are still grinding on the past fifty years.

Will Basquiat turn out to have crafted the icons of the 1980s? I don't know and you don't either, and museum curators -- god help us all if they're right.

I'm not basic this on some flimsy parallel between the 19th century and the 20th. I'm not talking about the Academy. All I'm saying is, our culture is still evaluating painters from 200 years back. What's the name of that guy who painted the women in bloomers on swings under trees? That guy, we're still not sure if anyone really wants to see his paintings any more. They're still up on some museum walls because no one's felt like taking them down yet, but as a culture we're still trying to decide about him.

And, just for my personal amusement, I want to pick on this:

Art at the end of the 19th century was entering modernism and discarding the old academic models. This type of change was fueled by the shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy and should last well over a century.

Dude, the Industrial Revolution began in 1790. By the end of the 19th century the shift from an agrarian economy was over.

1/26/2009 02:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Duchamp and Warhol won't be forgotten. Neither will Rauschenberg. Koons will get a footnote. Johns will be forgotten. I'm already forgetting about Basquiat.

For those who wish to rely on the late 19th century Academy as an argument for how "popular artists" can later be dismissed by the culture, I would like to suggest that the late 19th century and the late 20th century are markedly different.

I agree. The Academy was more empowered to uphold the reputations of retrospectively minor artists than any institutions in the current landscape, and was doing so at a time when visual art was a far more homogenous field than it is now, with fewer practitioners. Given the levels of pluralism in the art world and visual art's decline in importance as a cultural medium relative to books, film, popular music, and possibly even video games, reputations in visual art promise to be less durable, not more. Thus the surety about the course of future events displayed above by George - excuse me, by some - strikes me as naive and wistful for a future that resembles the immediate past.

...you are free to find some other active paradigm in the rich history of art and set down roots.

Indeed.

1/26/2009 07:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Franklin says, "and possibly even video games"

"Overall, sales of console game systems, software and accessories rose 26% compared to October 2007. Portable game sales dropped for the one month period, but total sales for the year are 7% ahead of 2007." The video games industry grew an impressive 18% year-over-year in the first month of the critical fourth quarter," says NPD analyst Anita Frazier. "With ten months under its belt, the video games industry is still poised to top $22 billion in annual sales in 2008" — which would set another annual sales record." (USA Today)

1/26/2009 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

There we go confusing "sales" with "cultural relevance". Where did this idea that people buying a lot of something means it's culturally important? Does that mean General Tso's chicken is culturally relevant? Aren't we radically expanding the meaning of the term "culture"?

It's still a very, very open question whether video games are relevant to the culture in any meaningful way. I'm a big fan of video games, follow the industry and all -- heck, I'm an award-winning computer game designer (if your bar for "award-winning" is set really low) -- but I don't necessarily see any connection between them and our larger culture. I mean, is chess culturally relevant? Not really.

1/26/2009 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

about pubic orange hairs:

Pipilotti's alternating the color feed, as you suggested (Donna).
There is definitely a play on woman archetypes in the video,
like Eve taking the apple from Lucifer. I thought the strawberry
juice meant to symbolize menstruations. There is a celebration of the state of womanhood in this video, embracing stereotypes of feminity, sensuality (strawberries), etc...


I didn't put Peyton in my best of 2008 like many others did.
Her paintings are cute and well-crafted but they don't really
move me anywhere. If Peyton would paint me and people would say "Oh, look at the emotion in that painting. Don't we feel like we are in the same living room as that man and know everything about him! Who's he again?"
I'd reply "bollocks, you haven't even had a tea with this poseur and
you know absolutely nothing. This painting is the background
design of paperdoll magazine crap, and actually I'd much rather Holbein have painted me, because I can beat the self-importancy and nastiness of all that fake ultra-sensitivity promoting those shoegazer rockstars that Peyton has been obsessed or making out with. "Sod" Vicious is puking. puking. puking. That children book portray was the antithesis of him.".



About Jasper:

way too america-specific.
Sorry, George. Too little
widely known pieces.

Koons will hold up because his
art is big, lasting, and it's spread in many collections across the word. And it's pertinent, to some degree.

Warhol: I keep thinking that people
are more fascinated by the persona
than his art. The last retro in Montreal prove just that. Half of it wasn't art at all.




Chris
+++I just like picking on the cups. Also, there's no Tarot suit for straws

You can make a Queen Of Plastic Straws in Tarot but it's complicated.

Use the Queen Of Wands. Above it you put the Tarot formula for Plastic (Tarot can represent chemistry elements but I don't
know the formula for plastic. ;-D).

Under it you try to guess a good symbology to express the form and utility of a Plastic Straw:
I'd guess, Ace of Wand (things pass through them, like thunder)
with a combination of Temperance + The Star + The Fool.
Temperance is liquid transfer, Star is slow, tiny intaking, but it's also modern, and Fool is...well... something fragile and stupid that gets bitten, I dunno.
Maybe add to this The Devil (anti-natural) and the Wheel (usually ephemeral). Gosh, I have to prepare a conference on Plastic Straws and Occultism.



About video games:

The new Masters are there, but they are compromised by the Economy, and are forced to make products that sell like hot breads. Eventually, true art will emerge in that field (well, in my opinion it's already there).


Cedric Casp

1/26/2009 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

+++Aren't we radically expanding +++the meaning of the term "culture"?

You are spreading out over the expanded dimensionality of culture.

Cedric C

1/26/2009 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Judith said...

Perhaps expansion isn't the correct term

1/26/2009 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

ok, Franklin, suppose you are right.

Suppose history decides to 'forget about' Johns and Basquiat. Understanding that every age is generally has some artist of stature, who would it be?

An obvious choice might be Olitiski, "the greatest living artist" according to your friend Clement Greenberg. So what happened to him? He sold for high prices in the 60's and 70's, they're giving his paintings away now. Or, do you have someone else in mind?

The problem with your disgruntled arguments is that you never can offer an alternative because you don't have one that has a chance of happening.

Skip linking blog articles full of platitudes but woefully lacking examples. I am bored with the whiners, those who only seek to denigrate other artists as sport, but have nothing to offer in return.

If you have to tear someone else down to elevate yourself, you're in the basement,

but hey, we all have to start somewhere.

1/26/2009 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I'm certainly spreading out, but that's just because I eat too many Ring Dings.

1/26/2009 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Cedric, you have a stereotyped view of Jasper Johns' body of work. Additionally, he is very well represented in European collections.

1/26/2009 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Given the levels of pluralism in the art world and visual art's decline in importance as a cultural medium relative to books, film, popular music, and possibly even video games, reputations in visual art promise to be less durable, not more." (Franklin)

"There we go confusing "sales" with "cultural relevance". Where did this idea that people buying a lot of something means it's culturally important?" (Chris)

Will the two good buddies battle it out?

1/26/2009 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I agree with Franklin that visual art has declined in cultural importance relative to a lot of things. I don't think the yardstick for cultural importance is sales. I doubt Franklin would say that, either.

But we could have a friendly discussion about video games, I guess.

1/26/2009 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Chris and Franklin and George should have this discussion on one of their own blogs?

Ed, you are too generous with your comment space.

signed,
regular reader getting tired of people who hog the conversation and focus it on their own pet subjects

1/26/2009 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

George sez:
Suppose history decides to 'forget about' Johns and Basquiat. Understanding that every age is generally has some artist of stature, who would it be?

First, who says every age has some artist of stature?

Second, who says where an age begins and ends? What age are we talking about? The 1980s? The second half of the 20th century? Everything since Manet? Everything since the introduction of metallic oxide pigments? Everything since the introduction of paint tubes? How about the Atomic Age -- everything since Hiroshima?

When I was at SVA, Jerry Saltz gave a talk -- led a discussion, really -- where he started off talking about that stupid 1960s art show, where was it? Whitney? Guggenheim? I forget. The thing is, Jerry quoted the introductory essay from the show where it said the 1960s were the most turbulent decade of the 20th century. Jerry thought that was asinine. "More turbulent than the partitioning of India? The Armenian genocide?" And so on.

It's stupid to try to slice up history into neat little chunks and even stupider to then ask, okay, who's the Big Artist for this period?

I think it more likely that, from an art history perspective, it's the artists that define the eras, not the other way around. And not usually just one artist, but a bunch.

So who would we put in place of Basquiat or Johns? Any number of artists, I imagine. Hard to say from this close up. There are artists working now that none of us have seen. Who knows who'll shake out over time?

Maybe Anna Tzarev will turn out to be the Manet of our time!

1/26/2009 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

George,
Ok about stereotype,
but the name of Johns
simply isn't prominent
in any statistics when this topic
is reviewed. Except perhaps in
surveys that are specific to
american demographics, Johns
is simply not much mentioned
in international surveys whereas
the names of Warhol, Pollock
or Beuys constantly are. If I
visit Europa I just don't see Johns
in museums as much as these other
artists above (especially Warhol and Beuys).

1/26/2009 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Suppose history decides to 'forget about' Johns and Basquiat. Understanding that every age is generally has some artist of stature, who would it be?

I can pick good art in front of me. I have no interest in determining the canon of the future.

...they're giving his paintings away now.

If by "giving his paintings away" you mean "selling them for $20K - $30K," I'm looking forward to giving some paintings away.

Skip linking blog articles full of platitudes but woefully lacking examples. I am bored with the whiners, those who only seek to denigrate other artists as sport, but have nothing to offer in return.

I don't understand this. You said that I'm free to find another active paradigm in the rich history of art and set down roots. I have done so, and linked to my thoughts on the matter rather than spell them out here. What is your problem?

1/26/2009 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger eageageag said...

I stand by my review of the Donovan exhibition under discussion. If someone sees nothing but a bunch of cups stacked in rows in a gallery my words will not change their opinion. You say tomato and I say tomato.

1/26/2009 03:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

You see a landscape, Eric, but you still reduce the work to its formalist proprieties. I think the world (general public) will make other connections because we all have a familiar relationship with the type of beer cups that she uses. I refuse to restrain the work to formalism or fractal art, because there is too much cultural and political baggage that comes with this extensive use of everyday plastic commodities. In fact, soon after I saw the landscape, the work made me think about the possibility of others existing in the basement of industries where they are produced en masses. I dig the formalism (Uri Hasson? Wow, neve heard of him), but I'm very political about the use of any readymade, and I think that was the lesson that Beuys thought us about readymades, that they're never entirely transformed or eradicated from their origiunal sources.


Cheers,

Cedric Casp

1/26/2009 07:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Example, Eva Hesse is an entirely different thing because she creates the modules herself. Contemporary arts are very method and process-oriented, these days.
To me it's never just about the results (visual or other).

Cheers,

Cedric C

1/26/2009 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger eageageag said...

Cedric I never mentioned fractals in my review. I talked about how 3-D imagery is created digitally and made parallels to Donovan's work. Take it or leave it. As for your other point,

"that they're never entirely transformed or eradicated from their origiunal sources."

Sorry if the below quotes didn't make it clear to you that I was thinking about the fact that we were looking at plain old plastic cups and at something else altogether:

"The vacillation between illusion and material reality prevalent in her work..."

"The work currently on display at PaceWildenstein is a complex version of the vase-face illusion."

I don't give a crap if you liked the review or not Cedric, but at least pay attention to what it really is. I think I do more than appreciate the formal qualities of Donovan's work in the review. If that is all your mind is picking up on it ain't my problem.

1/26/2009 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger eageageag said...

"I'm very political about the use of any readymade."

Uh okay. So besides thinking about those "others existing in the basement of industries" making those plastic cups that Donovan used, what else does your "political" analysis of the work reveal? Please share your thoughts.

1/26/2009 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

"You see a landscape, Eric, but you still reduce the work to its formalist proprieties. I think the world (general public) will make other connections because we all have a familiar relationship with the type of beer cups that she uses."

Cedric-

I think this thought is possible because of Johns. I'm just speculating here, but I think first that Johns and Rauchenberg will always be linked. And folks, the history has already been written. It's also a kind of sociological question. Do people see beer cups or do they see landscape. Of course they see both, but they see both partly because of John's flags don't you think? I think this is settled law, to borrow a legal concept.

Donovan is using this history very legitimately and I think her images are what really count.

1/26/2009 09:14:00 PM  
Anonymous see landscape said...

they are speaking about formalist proprieties and the readymade use of politics.


no.. they said they are trying to find out if they exist.

1/26/2009 11:12:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I don't see beer cups at all. Beer cups are opaque, and usually red or blue. You write your name or other identifying symbol on the side with a Sharpie provided for that purpose. Then you wander aimlessly around the fraternity basement until you realize you have better things to do, then you go back to your dorm room and play Tetris all night.

1/27/2009 12:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

+++I don't give a crap if you ++liked the review or not Cedric.


Well, which critic does, in fact, care about feedback?

Eric, your text is brilliant in a multitude of ways. You are misinterpreting me but I understand I may badly express
myself. I totally abide and agree
that the work first and foremost vacillates between its mundane elements and the evanescence or illusion of topography. But how exactly mundane are the Cups? What are these Cups saying about culture? Why aren't we thinking "My, my, my, how did she built these weird cylinder shapes that stack together? How exactly do we know that all these Cups have a bottom?


I'm just saying that I believe
that there is a subtext to
any readymades that is unescapable.

Donovan is stacking cups
that she has not transformed
in any ways. Each individual
beer cup remains a beer cup.
I'm saying that you are reducing
these cups to formalist modules,
whereas I think we should be
thinking (including the artist, it's her responsability, because she's appropriating) that these modules are in fact, beer cups. So
whatever interpretation you want
to make of that fact, I just plead
for the "beer cup", that everyday
commodities that is often used
in mass gatherings, or gallery vernissages, to not be eradicated from the discourse.

I already made a proposal above that the formalist arrangement could be a way to demonstrate how industrialization tend to repeat forms and cycles inherent to nature (hpw the stackings of cups by an industry is not so different from beas organizing their hives). I'm not an art writer, I'm just throwing in ideas. But I always come back to this idea of the shovel, which Duchamps installed in a museum. Beuys made his own shovel for a project of his, because he thought that you could never entirely erase a readymade from its original history and meaning. If you use an untransformed readymade, you are (always) borrowing or pointing back to its archaeologic state as an artefact of culture. When you say "Fountain", you can (or should) never entirely forget the "Urinal". It's a question of ethics, when you are borrowing. If you build your own urinal, than fine, that's different (I'm mot going to extend here on the problematic of archetypes).

I'm only saying that most critics refuse to read a subtext about
the use of beer cups in Donovan's work, and if that might have any relevance to a discourse about ecologia or a dichotomy between the natural and the unnatural. This topic has been in fact entirely snobbed, but I refuse to read Donovan's art as an expression of pure forms because her objects have another history. An history of industrialization.

So if she intends to further an investigation on the theme of landscape, she is doing
it with this history as her backpack.




Because of Johns:


Not sure. I'm really going after the ethic of revealing the historicity of artefacts. This is not about representation. It's about the aura of the readymade. I think this discourse belongs to Joseph Beuys.

1/27/2009 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Than what Cups are you seeing, Chris? Are these not Cups?
How do the Cups vascillate between them beeing mere drink Cups and
them being modular elements of a sculpture?

It's a very thin line. But to me, it's an important one. If Donovan builds all these Cups herself, than it's a comment on hyperreality. These Cups looking more than real, but are not actual Cups. The artist molds them herself and creates a simulacra of Cups. If she use the real Cups, then these Cups are never pure modules, even when she's able to completely erase their original form (wall texts mention if peanut butter was used in a painting), but this is not the case here.

How much of the Cups do you see, Chris? Where do they come from,
in your imagination? Where have you seen them the first time?
At Costco I have seen similar Cups and the tag read "beer cups".

Cedric Casp

1/27/2009 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Basically there is an ecological interpretation to the Donovan work that is obvious but evitated by critics and the artist herself because apparently that's deemed kitsch and ridiculously political.

We're talking about the accessibility of contemporary arts, here. I'm saying that the
general public will read it as a comment on the excesses of industrialization, but no, nada, it's the continuiation of Sol Lewitt and Eva Hesse, 2 artists who never ever used readymades.

Cedric Caspesyan

1/27/2009 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

How about comparing the work to Ann Hamilton, the most critically snobbed artist I can imagine in recent years.

Cedric C

1/27/2009 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Returning to accessibility.

EG said, right at the start, "Tara Donovan’s art is phenomenological in the sense that her “site responsive” sculptures reveal the purely subjective aspects of consciousness"

What you see is what you get. If you see just plastic cups, squint.

This is an amazingly accessible sculpture, "Wow, look what she did with a bunch of plastic cups!"

What I find both surprising and amusing, is how much difficulty artists have with the cups, why it's almost controversial.

This piece IS phenomenological, it's made out of cups because they can create the phenomena. How is that any different from scraping a piece of carbonized wood across dried rag pulp?

1/27/2009 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

I keep thinking about a review I read of Phoebe Washburn by Jerry Saltz... 'Washburn is a pack rat, magpie, bag lady, mollusk artist. Pack rat because she scavenges for her materials; magpie for the way she piles them up (beaver would work, too); bag lady because of the eccentric order and compulsion at the core of her work; and mollusk because of the way she almost secretes things in sequential, sedimentary layers. These qualities, plus her ambitious whale scale and the way she plumbs the gap between necessity, serendipity, impulse and order, make Washburn stand out.'

1/27/2009 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Oriane said...

Ed pointed this out a while back, but I think it's important to remember that the untitled piece using cups is but one piece. Donovan has used toothpicks, pins, tape, pencils, straws, adding machine paper and buttons, among other materials. She is NOT all about the cups! It seems some of us can't see the forest for the cups.

Also, Cedric, it would be helpful if you proofed your comments before posting because they are often hard to follow. Throw in their length and frequency, and one sometimes has a tendency to ... well, skim over them rather than read them closely. Just a suggestion. Also, you might consider starting your own blog...

1/27/2009 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

++EG said, right at the
++start, "Tara Donovan’s art is +++phenomenological in the sense +++that her “site responsive” +++sculptures reveal the purely +++subjective aspects
++++of consciousness"


This is like saying the flicker effect in cinema is a "purely subjective aspects of consciousness", You can bring me 100 scientific books that will demonstrate just that. It's beside my point. I don't think it's possible for anyone to see the Cups at first sight with this piece. Whatever it is: a landscape, a sculpture, you just don't see the Cups right away. Period. I'm going past the optical illusion, and what you make of the piece once you "apprehended" that it is made by beer cups. Do you just flicker back and forth, looking for the effect again?

Is that all the reflection that the work brings? Is Tara Donovan the new Chuck Close?



+++If you see just plastic cups, squint.

I see a landscape made with beer plastic Cups.
I am connecting Landcape + Plastic Cups.
I am connecting Nature + Industrialization.
I am connecting Organic + Minimalism.
I am connecting Natural + Antinatural.

I could list a dozen others of these "subjective aspects of consciousness". Can you? Can the artist? That's my question.

Washburn is similar to Donovan yet very different. Her materials are recycled and constantly reek
of imperfections and individualities. She doesn't resonate with the minimalist
conventions as Donovan does. But then again, the early minimalist were influenced by industrial design, and I'm interested in
how Donovan is throwing that dialogue back up, or alas... how does she ignore it and throw me back the "subjective aspects of my consciousness". Hello there, culture ?


Cedric Casp

1/27/2009 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Cedric,

Clear something up for me. Have you actually seen Tara Donovans "untitled" [plastic cups]? If so where?

1/27/2009 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger eageageag said...

I tried my best to write about Donovan's work (and I think my review does provide some insight into her other work as well) using grammatically correct sentences. I tried to approach the work in a number of different ways. I tried to look hard at what was before me and find meaning in the experience of encountering the work itself. If you want to critique Donovan's work with an emphasis on social and political issues be my guest. Start a blog or write for any of the numerous online art magazines that are out there.

1/27/2009 03:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re George's question about where Cedric might have seen the cups piece, I believe it was only shown at Pace Wildenstein in 2006. (I could be wrong.)

1/27/2009 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspe said...

George, I visit New York about 4 times each year. I'm curious about what makes you think that I haven't seen it, though? Because I asked how we know cups have a bottom? That was rhetorical. Or you're wondering why I call them Beer Cups? I have a stack here that says "50 reception beer cups". They are rather small but they look very much like the ones Donovan used. I shouldn't have used the word Beer but I want to convey that they are Cups used for social gatherings. That aspect to me is culturally relevant. I think we are passed the notion of Clement Greenberg about the superfluousness of extraneous content. Any art piece flickers between a state where extraneous content disappear and a state where it becomes primordial. The critical consensus about the Cups seems to deny the latter. My opinion is that it's the viewer and artist responsability to acknowledge extraneous content, specifically in works dealing with readymades.


Oriane:

Donovan often works with stacks of industrial products that she buys. There's not much in what I said that wouldn't apply to a straw piece, for example. The walls at Met still used industrial material to emulate a quasi-organic form.
Untitled Cups was one of my fave artwork that year. I don't criticize the work, I criticize its statement (PR), and the general critical view that revolved around it.


About blogging: let's face it, many of us here have blogs that don't get a lot of attention. Internet doesn't need 1000 art blogs. It needs a couple good ones where people can gather and discuss about art. If you can point me to a good Forum about art, I might visit it. Skimming me is fine, lots of people do it. I'm not really anxious about how I do socially.


Eric: I'm beyond art journalism. I wish it would be like Art Critical Panels, all the time. When we can just all sit down and talk together about works we all saw.
When I'm wrong, I like to be argumented. Not sent back to write my own blog? I don't understand: people devaluate my opinion because of my poor grammar skills, yet send me back write my own blog? You actually mean "Shut up, Cedric", but then the discussion about the Cups piece remain poorly argumented.


Cheers,

Cedric Casp

1/27/2009 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger Brandon Juhasz said...

I was thinking about why Jasper Johns would be forgotten and I came up with the idea that Modernism and post modernism is the art of idea's, I like Johns but his work thrives only with a lot of back story as does many artists today. Art's relationship with itself, its inbreeding and building upon and reacting to its predecessors will ensure that art for future generations better, not only have the work preserved, but all the writings about it too, and a family tree. I feel that the mass's see a John's flag painting and not being educated in semiotics or art history would just see it as the American flag and a painting. A few may make the connection," hey flag nope, its a painting not a flag, hey I get it".(but very few) Maybe art is becoming more like history, its all experience and stories and time-lines, art exists so differently today than what we hold dear as the "art of the ages" Those pieces, bronzes and the likes, stand out as objects on their own who knows what the true back story was. But we've formulated our own to fit our history. Will our generations objects hold up like that...with out the theory..just as objects. Does it really matter since in this day we have such the serious means to both preserve and pass along detailed and documented histories...its really complicated.

1/28/2009 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

Jasper Johns is an important artist, but when you make the list of the 50 more important artists of the 20th Century, I just don't see him in the top 10, and people will mostly remember the top 10, I think.


Also, there was "Ceci N'est Pas Une Pipe" before the flag. Johns was pre-Warhol but Warhol was too good at this and stole the show.
Especially with the Brillo Box. That was a killer.

The last exhibit I saw of Johns didn't move me, and only a few diehard fans mentioned it as an important art event.


Cedric Casp

1/28/2009 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger eageageag said...

Cedric I wouldn't ask you to shut up in this context. You can't blame anyone for misinterpreting you though. My argument in support of Donovan's work is the review I wrote. You feel it is lacking. Fine. I posted the link to it in this thread so I accept whatever negative and positive feedback it inspires.

1/28/2009 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Cedric, just checking. I think you are making the late 20th century mistake of overcomplicating the interpretation of an artwork. Just because you can make a lot of associations about plastic cups, doesn't mean you should or that they are relevant.

Donovan's sculpture is a large installation made from plastic cups. What you see is what you get. I suppose one can dig into the cultural significance of plastic cups, but in relation to experience of the entire piece it is a minor and trivial piece of information.

It is not that these observations are not true, but that they serve to deflect the viewer away from the primary experience of the artwork. It serves to make the piece less accessible by implying there is some other hidden meaning which the viewer must 'get'. This is one of the major failings of the postmodernist approach and its undoing.

1/28/2009 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Brandon,

Johns is an interesting case. The critics who were strong supporters of AbEx were offended because Johns made fun of AbEx by parodying the brush-stroke. It ran in the face of the prevailing canon and received the "it's not art" tag. This viewpoint persists into the present with a bunch of grumpy old critics taking the opinion to their grave.

What's fascinating, is that if one actually looks at Jasper Johns paintings they are as wonderfully crafted as any painting from the AbEx period or later. Johns made major formal contributions within his mediums, revived encaustic and is probably the most important printmaker working in the last part of the 20th century. In my opinion the elder detractors are suffering from a major case of sour grapes.

The Flags. These are what everyone thinks of when one says Jasper Johns. There is a considerable degree of typecasting going on here and though it is an incorrect assumption, it is the reason Jasper Johns will not be forgotten.

His early works were very influential with other artists. The Jasper Johns flag paintings are culturally iconic and connect the AbEx painters with Pop Art.

I'll leave it at that, some like him, some don't.

-----

However you said something else in your comment I thought was very interesting.

You suggested that art exists so differently today than what we hold dear as the "art of the ages"

I think this is correct. It is a huge complex topic. I still think we will continue to "hold dear" paradigms from our historical past but I also think that contemporary art is called upon to serve the culture differently in the modern era. Part of the quest of modernism is to explore what art now is.

In the near past what we defined and accepted as art was more tightly constrained, but because of the expanding world population, and the increasing numbers of patrons (collectors, museums etc) this is no longer the case.

I believe what we have now are multiple historical threads coexisting, moving and developing through time. I suspect people will want to argue that this was always the case, but it was not. In the 20th century there were clearly defined movements, and less supported secondary movements, both moving forward in time but with one (Cubism, Surrealism, etc) stealing the thunder.

In the present, parallel movements are now possible.

1/28/2009 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

George:
++++in relation to experience of +++the entire piece it (the +++cultural significance of +++plastic cups) is a minor and +++trivial piece of information.


Well, I'm only bringing in Beuysian
discourse in this discussion.


++++implying there is some other +++hidden
+++meaning which the viewer +++must 'get'.


That the artist should get. It's her responsability, first. Beuys would have described you "primary
experience" as elusive, or illusional. The fact is that the piece is a matter of appropriation. It's not "pure" in the formalist sense. If you assembled 100 beds from an orphanage (thinking of artist Spring Hurlbut), the beds have an inherent meaning. So does the Cups, only here it's less apparent because the Cups look as sterile and pure as if they had been modules molded specifically for the sculpture.

I'm questioning wrether "implied meaning" in readymades can be eradicated or not. Beuys would said no. Therefore Donovan's piece would rely on a history of industrialization that is hidden by the artifices of beauty.

I don't think it's trivial to differentiate Donovan from the piece of any fractal artist, or most minimalist who never used everyday objects. It's the basis of what astound people about these works: that such visual effects are achieved by the use of mundane objects. When did the plastic straw became mundane? I'm not sure
if it existed before 1950.
But I would bet a good deal
of money that the average viewer
would mention environmental
issues when viewing the piece.
I don't think it's a minor hidden meaning. It's more like a major distraction, almost a malaise from truly experiencing the piece visually, and I'm surprised that the artist and many critics ignored it.

For me, the piece didn't just flicker between atmospheric haze and its elements, or betwen landscape and plastic cups. It flickered between beauty and the excesses of industrialization. That's not hidden subtext, that's in-yer-face language of readymades. Why are people not getting it?


Cedric Casp

1/28/2009 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People are getting it.

Enough.

1/28/2009 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

George, you're a friend or a relative of Jasper to be so
upset by the idea that he might not be as iconic as other
20th century artists. Come on, think "worlwide". Out
of 10 most important 20th century artists, there might
be only 3 americans. Is Jasper part of those 3?


Cedric

1/28/2009 11:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

There's a Pollock Google logo today. Will there be one for Jasper? Suspense!!...


Cedric Casp

1/28/2009 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger eageageag said...

Tara Donovan's exhibition shows us the excesses of industrialization. What a waste of cups! There are a lot of cups being made in factories every single day by people who are underpaid. Their lives must suck. Donovan's art reminds us that there are people out there who have shitty jobs making cups. They are glad to be earning something, but they are paid very little to stand on an assembly line and make plastic cups all day. Donovan reminds us of this by using so many cups in this exhibition. Stacks and stacks of cups! These things aren't art folks, they were made by real people who were earning very little money to make them. Imagine what it is like for them. Cup after cup after cup. That is the problem with industrialization. People have to spend their entire lives making things like plastic cups. Do we need so many plastic cups? This unnatural need for so many plastic cups was instilled in us by the evil military/industrial complex. They wanted to turn all of us into cup seeking commodity fetishists. What is a cup? It is a shape that holds substances. But aren't we all shapes that hold certain substances? The cupiness of this display of cups is made even more meaningful by the fact that it is really about factories, and workers, and stuff like that. These are plastic cups you fools, made by real people, who work in real factories. Take off your rosy hued lenses and look at the cups, breathe in the cuppy aroma, and don't forget about the evil industrialization process.

1/28/2009 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Cedric,

Yes

1/28/2009 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

It doesn't take much employees to make thousands of plastic cups, and I doubt the people manoeuvring the machinery are underpaid.

I'm more interested in the fact that we have achieved such a degree of commodity where plastic cups have become mundane and created en masse. Donovan could not have made this piece 40 years ago. She didn't invent stacking either. That's the designers's gig. They already made that piece. Donovan points toward them, and to me it's as much her referrant as minimalist art. You can replace "excesses" by "advances", "wonderments". Maybe the piece celebrates industrial design. But that history is part of it.


Personally, I don't see the ridicule in relating Donovan's
plastic topography with figures about the environment. Plastic is provided by solidification of a liquid. Many people thought of snow when they saw Untitled. Let's talk about watery substances, if you will. But I agree this interpretation is personal. i just think it would be a popular angle (when the piece lands in a museum).


Chris has already ridiculed the
aesthetic take anyway: "Oh
Cool, it's all made with Cups".
Let's talk about cognitive science.
When do you start making the link
between establishing the familiarity of an object, and the signification of that object in your prescient knowledge?



Cheers,

Cedric Casp


PS: They're not a waste of Cups. They are recycled with each installation. The piece is actually more environmentally viable than when cups are wasted. But there is a door opened
for cynicism

1/28/2009 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

Talking to myself again. Don't worry:


Pace's PR mentions Donovan's "ability to discover how the inherent physical characteristics of an object might allow it to be transformed into art." I think I'm satisfied though I'd prefer they mentioned that these objects are usually mass-produced utilitarities. So, she's celebrating the forms of everyday objects.

The problem I have with a pure formalist interpretation of Donovan, is that they are plenty
of artists dealing with fractal, mathematical, or algorithmic arts, who mold their pieces themselves because their sole intention is to explore visual phenomenology.

Donovan is curious enough to explore the forms of readymades she choose (if I trust the PR above). Her art pinpoints at visual phenomenologies found in the
multiplication and stacking of everyday materials. But why are Cups made to stack together, in the first place? I think she's actually identifying visual precepts in a culture of industrial design and commodification. She brings us back on the table of the people who invented these objects. "A plastic cup! What a bizarre

form!". Some of her art look like guiness records attempts. They wouldn't if the "everyday" wasn't involved. Also, some of her pieces, like Cups, already exist in invisible form, stacked in large carton boxes. So I wouldn't be surprised that she actually visit the warehouses of industries for influences. Tire industries tend to have very hallucinating backyards.


Cedric Casp

1/28/2009 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger eageageag said...

Let us know when you come upon a "pure formalist interpretation of Donovan" dude. Your comments about her work don't add up to much, but you should keep trying.

1/28/2009 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

It's the other way around. I start with formalism, than I take a step down that pedestal. I have experienced the same visuals as everyone else.

And I know all the works it's been compared to (Hesse, Lewitt, Serra). This piece to me is not a satisfactory model for a return to modernism. I don't understand why it wouldn't be the same as Damien Hirst stacking diamonds in tiny windows. Very clashing visually, but he's about the diamonds, and she's about the Cups.


New York Times said:
"the leap from the mundane to the miraculous in her current show remains visually and poetically exhilarating."

Well, allright, we wouldn't use "mundane" about Serra or Lewitt, would we? Something else is going than formalism.



Cedric

1/29/2009 10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

People (Saltz) compared Donovan to Goldsworthy. Amazing. Is there a subtext in the art of Goldsworthy? Let's see a Goldsworthy next to Untitled (Cups) in a museum and see where the discussion leads.

Cedric C

1/29/2009 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger eageageag said...

I personally don't like using comparisons to other artists. I think it often translates as weak historicism.

1/29/2009 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See where the discussion leads?

Dude, if there is one person talking, it is not a discussion, it's a monologue.

1/29/2009 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

George sez:
What's fascinating, is that if one actually looks at Jasper Johns paintings they are as wonderfully crafted as any painting from the AbEx period or later.

Is this conversation dead yet? Just wondering.

George, I wanted to note that I'm not old. And that I did, when we discussed Johns at Franklin's (although you may not have been there for that), note his lovely touch. Johns, when he wants, can put down a really nice, painterly brushstroke.

My problem with him is that he doesn't have anything to do with that stroke. It's a real shame. I tied him to Dumas in my review of her show because I think they both have that in common: A really lovely brushstroke at times, and a contempt for humanity in general and painting audiences in particular.

Now I don't think I've claimed that Johns is a minor artist; my claim is that we don't know if he's culturally important or not, not that he's unimportant. (Although maybe I did say that and I'm contradicting myself. It's possible.) But if there's anything that makes Johns a minor artist, it's that his whole oeuvre is based on mocking AbEx, on mocking any seriousness in painting.

1/29/2009 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Chris, my original response was in opposition to the idea that Jasper Johns will be 'forgotten'.

Unfortunately a number of responses afterwards illustrate how little many artists really understand about how artists achieve a place in history.

To start, you completely misunderstand my reference to "mocking AbEx". This is a minor aspect of Jasper Johns paintings, but apparently he violated the "rules of AbEx" and at the time incensed several critics of the period. Further, the ideas in Jasper Johns paintings are resonant with the intellectual position of Marcel Duchamp, also another no-no.

To their dying day these critics, including WDB, are carrying this prejudice towards Jasper Johns and are not viewing his work objectively. They made up their minds several years ago and their ideas are inflexible as stone.

Jasper Johns has entered into art history as a major painter, along with Pollock, DeKooning, and Warhol one of the most important painters of the last half of the 20th century. These painters are all Americans, and American painters ruled in the post war period.

Jasper Johns represents the bridge between AbEx and Andy Warhol, His reintroduction, however ironic, of imagery into advanced painting, made Pop Art possible. He was an incredibly influential artist at the time and changed the direction of contemporary art.

Finally, fifty years into an artists career, auction and secondary market prices do tell us something. Jasper Johns, along with Pollock, DeKooning, Warhol and Bacon have had paintings which sold at prices in excess of 75 million dollars. Jasper Johns painting "False Start" sold for $80 million in 2006 and is number 15 on the wiki list. Regardless of how someone wants to spin this, it's hardly going to come up forgotten.

1/29/2009 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Cas said...

15 biggest seller? I would have guessed 25th or 30th. (me and the market..)


Allright, if consensus decides that Jasper is at the top, so be it. I was never much striken by his art. Chris mentions a question of age. People of my generation and younger don't know him well. They think Smithson is the savior (at least for America).

Anon: your walls have ears. ;-)


Cedric Atchidude

1/29/2009 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I honestly don't know if Jasper Johns will be forgotten. I hope so. I mean, in the long run we're all going to be forgotten. I chose Rodin bronzes as my example earlier for a reason: I read somewhere that, out of all our artifacts, the ones that will survive the ravages of time the longest will be bronze sculptures. Long after our buildings, paintings, the Pyramids, guns, and whatever else have been destroyed, bronze sculptures will remain. Eventually even they'll go, but they'll make it longest. That's what I read.

But back to culture: I don't know if the culture will forget Johns too soon. I hope it will, but I don't know. I refuse to use current market figures as a basis for forecasting, though. Price is a very current criterion. When Titian was painting, when the cave painters were painting, when the frescoes were being laid at Pompeii, purchase price wasn't a criterion.

I think I understood what you said about mocking AbEx. I think you think there's more to that than I do.

1/29/2009 05:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

While I don't claim to know the entire mind of Walter Darby Bannard, I claim to know it better than you. And on that basis, I say that if Johns produced a worthy painting tomorrow, Darby would say so. Darby has one of the least prejudiced eyes I've witnessed in operation. His attitude towards Johns hinges exclusively on Johns's manufacture of bad paintings. The latter is inflexibly constant, not the former.

George, cite any reason you want - the ridiculousness of talking about a living artist as has having "entered into art history as a major painter" ought to be self-evident. Your failure to recognize this leads me to a poor conclusion about your judgment.

1/29/2009 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I guess I wasn't filling George's work order adequately.

1/29/2009 09:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

No one is ridicule for defending te artists they love. The more they defend them, the more you can
affect the turn of events in these matters.

Question is: who will you defend?


Cedric Casp


PS: by the way, Olitski rocks,
whatever history made of him. You rock, Jules! (may he hear me up there)

1/30/2009 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger J.T. said...

Chris,

I see way up there you used my name and reaction to Donovan's work. Sorry I found this so late.

My reaction to her installation at Pace was positive because my viewing experience of it was much simpler than yours. I am surprised that you ask so many questions about it, including the "why" of it all. For me, "why" is secondary and often I don't really care regardless if I like the work or not. My first question is, do I enjoy looking at it? I enjoyed looking at Donovan's sculpture much more than most things we saw that day. Is it profound work? Well, probably not. But it was good enough for me to enjoy looking at it. And I'll take that anytime.

1/30/2009 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

off topic - Binaca is still popular isn't it?? I love that stuff! WE have a BINACA fan club - I would shrival away without.....

2/05/2009 04:25:00 PM  

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