So I’ve been reading The Gift by Lewis Hyde which was reviewed in the Times a couple of months ago, and was impossible to get at any bookstore in the city for weeks. It’s got lots of nice stuff about how art is a gift and blah blah blah, which is great if you are me, but sucks if you’re Jeff Koons or Richard Prince (who’s getting sued by the way for his latest show at Gagosian). Here’s a quote that pretty much gets at the crux of the book so far.
It is the assumption of this book that a work of art is a gift, not a commodity. Or, to state the modern case with more precision, that works of art exist simultaneously in tow “economies,” a market economy and a gift economy. Only one of these is essential, however: a work of art can survive without the market, but where there is no gift there is no art.
Anyway, this interview with Harlan Ellison was posted over at C-Monster and provided a nice and humorous contrast for a Friday afternoon.Tags: work of art, works of art, gift economy, Gagosian, jeff koons, the gift
January 16, 2009 1 Comment
Cecily Brown / Skulldiver IV / 2006-2007 / Oil on linen / 85 x 89 inches (215.9 x 226.1 cm) / gagosian.com
Willem de Kooning. (American, born the Netherlands. 1904-1997). Woman, I. 1950-52. Oil on canvas, 6′ 3 7/8″ x 58″ (192.7 x 147.3 cm). Purchase. © 2008 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. moma.org
So I’ve been thinking this week about these two paintings and painters, specifically about how they develop their forms and the space of the paintings. If we look first at Skulldiver IV we see that the figural elements are drawn and painted to develop a sense of volume. The legs and arms are cylindrical, in fact, the forshortening on her arm reminds me of the outstretched arms of the figure in Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaeus that wants to reach out of the canvas. In the same way, the figure in Skulldiver IV nearly wants to fall out of the bottom of the canvas on to the floor of the gallery. This is important because it functions to draw the viewer into the scene as a voyeur or participant standing in the room with the copulating figures.
More to come…Tags: Caravaggio, I., Skulldiver, Moma, de kooning, museum of modern art
October 10, 2008 2 Comments
Cecily Brown / Untitled (#38) / 2007 / Oil on linen / 12-1/2 x 17 inches (31.8 x 43.2 cm) / www.gagosian.com
A number of people have been asking lately why I haven’t posted anything recently. The answer is that I have been meaning to, but I’ve just been super busy and the blog has gotten the short end. Anyway….
I’ve been down to Gagosian a few times over the last couple of weeks to see the Cecily Brown show. The first time I went I was impressed with the work but something bothered me and I couldn’t figure out what it was. After going back and spending a good amount of time looking at the work and being in the space I realized the problem, the lighting in the gallery kills the drama of the paintings. It is just too bright in the gallery to really enter into the paintings. The drama of her paintings is in the swelling volumes and the internal character of the light she creates. The bright lighting of the gallery illuminates the dark areas, renders visible all the brush strokes, and the reflected light off the white walls of the gallery overwhelms the light areas of the canvas. The overall effect is to flatten the canvas into a collage of energetic brushstrokes with color.
This actually struck me when I was looking at some of the smaller canvases in the show. Looking at these works I could really see the connection to Rubens, Tintoretto, El Greco, both in the compositional structure and the swelling weightless forms hovering and suspended in space. I also began thinking about how those paintings were painted for candlelit cathedrals and castles. How the dim lighting of the space really elevated the drama of the darks and lights, allowing the swelling figures to really explode out of the canvas. When I turned around to look at the larger works in the show, especially the Sam Mere series, I really felt like I was missing something.
I’ve often read Cecily Brown’s work compared to De Kooning’s, and while they both engage in figurative abstraction, I think it will be interesting to examine their approaches over the next few days to see how differently they put paintings together. In the meantime, definitely check out the show.
Cecily Brown @ Gagosian, September 20 – October 25, 2008, 555 West 24th StreetTags: abstract art, Paint, paintings for sale, metropolitan museum of art, contemporary abstract painting, ny art exhibit
October 6, 2008 1 Comment
Ghada Amer (American, born Egypt, 1963) / Red Diagonales / 2000 / Acrylic, embroidery, and gel medium on canvas / © Ghada Amer, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Private collection
February 16–October 19, 2008
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, 4th Floor
Ghada Amer: Love Has No End, the first U.S. survey of the renowned artist’s work, features some fifty pieces from every aspect of Amer’s career as a painter, sculptor, illustrator, performer, garden designer, and installation artist. These include the iconic Barbie Loves Ken, Ken Loves Barbie (1995/2002), The Reign of Terror (2005), and Big Black Kansas City Painting—RFGA (2005), as well as a generous selection of works never before exhibited in this country.
While she describes herself as a painter and has won international recognition for her abstract canvases embroidered with erotic motifs, Ghada Amer is a multimedia artist whose entire body of work is infused with the same ideological and aesthetic concerns. The submission of women to the tyranny of domestic life, the celebration of female sexuality and pleasure, the incomprehensibility of love, the foolishness of war and violence, and an overall quest for formal beauty, constitute the territory that she explores and expresses in her art. In addition to the erotic paintings for which she is most famous, numerous works devoted to world politics are exhibited, including some of her more recent antiwar pieces.
Ghada Amer: Love Has No End is organized for the Brooklyn Museum by Maura Reilly, Ph.D., Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.
Also check out this slides show of the installation: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brooklyn_museum/sets/72157603916575553/show/Tags: canvas, ig Black Kansas City Painting, Elizabeth A. Sackler, multimedia artist, Gagosian, feminist art
April 2, 2008 No Comments