Yesterday morning, because the figs and the air biscuits awoke your editor before the dawn, and because he had to stop stealing from THAT BOOK on colour, your editor was scanning the bookshelves looking for something good on colour. Anyway I came across a that Arthur Danto guy, who wants to kill art and go to its funeral because he writes books like The Wake of Art. So, I picked up his book, Philosophizing Art, which I figured must be some kind of fancy instruction manual for euthanizing art, and I was totally shocked. ARTHUR DANTO IS TOTALLY GAY FOR ROBERT MOTHERWELL also, which must make Andy’s whig flip around in the grave. I mean just look at the title for the opening essay of the book, “The Original Creative Principle,” come on why not just call it YHWH’s penis and be done with it. Also, we find out that Motherwell is such a cock tease, just listen to Danto wax about how he wished Motherwell would just whip out his philosophy and play a little, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours, but that Motherwell would hold out and string poor Arthur along.
The circumstance of having had advanced training in philosophy before going on to become a painter, and indeed a great painter, is almost certainly unique to Robert Motherwell. But he carried his philosophical knowledge so casually that other than in the autobiographical mode that came easily to him in later years….In our numerous conversations, from 1985, when we met [he was totally cheating on Andy for 2 years], until the year of his death, philosophy rarely came up in a way that made me feel that he brought with him from his graduate years any special grasp o the world that an exposure to philosophical disipline might explain.
Now that’s just gross. Here I am looking for some colour and all I find is gay porn erotica, I could have accomplished that just as easily on this internet. And I would have gotten pictures, video, and live webcam too!
But I digress, you are not here [that's right you idiot no one is here reading this garbage] to listen to me name drop and tell you about how big my philosophy is because I’m like super insecure about being one of those reactionary painter types who clings to a dead art form that uses oil instead of just walking into the Whitney Museum, taking a dump in the corner and wanking on the walls and ceiling to electronica in front of a digital video cam every couple of years, like all the real artists from Yale and Columbia. You are here because I talk with dead people, which is what psychic automatism, i.e. automatic drawing, seance, ouiga, masturbation, whatever you want to call it, is all about, as told to us by Mr. Danto tells us in this essay.
I bring all this up because on Sunday, I was talking with a couple of painter friends of mine, one of whom is really stuggling because life sucks and her partner just up and died like that and shit this past year and she is really struggling draw and to paint, as we were walking through the Miro at MoMA. Anyway, I am a big proponent of scribble drawing, especially when stuck, and do it all the time, for example, when I wake up, or before I go to sleep, or when I am bored and nothing is on the teevee. I find it to be a really good practice and tool. I would tell you why but this post is already way to long and I haven’t even given you any pictures, which means you haven’t even read this far, and besides I have to go see my therapist and then go to work for the man. Anyway, if you don’t believe me, and especially if you do, you should read this Danto essay because there is some really good stuff in it, and I’m not talking about the gay porn erotica, though that is good too!Tags: video, colour, gesture, Artist, whitney museum, arthur danto
December 23, 2008 No Comments
A Discussion About Abstraction with Thomas Nozkowski and Dana Schutz
Sat, May 17, 2008 | 3:00 PM
New Museum theater
In conjunction with the current exhibition by Tomma Abts, Kraus Family Senior Curator Laura Hoptman will moderate a discussion on abstraction as a method and idea with artists Thomas Nozkowski and Dana Schutz.
Thomas Nozkowski is a painter who has had sixty-eight one-person shows. His most recent exhibitions include an installation of new work at the 2007 Venice Biennial, a midcareer survey at the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz, Germany, 2007 and the Fisher-Landau Center, New York, 2008, and a one-person exhibition at Pace Wildenstein, New York, 2008. The New York Studio School presented a twenty-five-year survey of his drawings in January 2003. His work is represented in the collections of the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the High Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Phillips Collection among many others. Currently, Nozkowski is the Bob and Happy Doran Visiting Artist at the Yale University Art Gallery. He is also Professor of Painting at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Forthcoming one-person exhibitions include The Douglas Hyde Gallery of Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland and the Musée d’art contemporain, Montreal, Canada.
Dana Schutz was born in Michigan in 1976 and currently lives and works in New York. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions in commercial galleries in New York, Boston, and Paris. Schutz’s paintings have also been presented in a number of group exhibitions including “Eclipse: Art in a Dark Age,” Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2008; “USA TODAY,” The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, 2007; “Fractured Figure,” DESTE Foundation, Athens, 2007; “Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation,” Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, 2007; “Closer to Home,” 48th Corcoran Biennial, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2005; “Greater New York,” PS1, Queens, (2005); “The Triumph of Painting,” The Saatchi Gallery, London, 2005; and the Venice Biennial, 2003. Her work is represented in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and many others. Currently, a group of new work by Schutz is on display at Contemporary Fine Arts in Berlin. In July, she will participate in “After Nature,” a group exhibition at the New Museum.
*This event is free with Museum admission but tickets are required.Tags: whitney museum, new museum, tomma abts, mason gross school, new museum of contemporary art, Paint
May 8, 2008 No Comments
Joan Mitchell / Pour Patou / 1976 / 76-1/2 x 44-3/4 inches / oil on canvas / Lennon, Weinberg, Inc.
This one is for my friend Patou. It seems I’ve become enamored of the small canvas lately and Joan Mitchell on a small scale is fascinating and inviting. The thick luscious paint and pastels feel juicy and approachable, maybe it feels a bit more human. The big retrospective at the Whitney Museum a few years ago set in my head this idea of Mitchell as a monumental fierce-sensitive lioness – a larger than life woman and unmatchable painter. The physical scale and energy of her large canvases can be overwhelming. It’s nice to see this other side and helps gives me a more complete picture of the artist.
Joan Mitchell was a gifted painter. In her primary medium of oil paint, she created powerful and unforgettable works. Her paintings project an impressive physical energy and at monumental scale demonstrate the full measure of her ambitious goals. But oil paint was not her only medium; in addition to exploring etching and lithography, Mitchell embraced the medium of pastel and created a substantial body of work. This exhibition surveys her work in both paint and pastel between 1973 and 1983, a decade bracketed by two major cycles of paintings. During these years, a dynamic interaction between her paintings and pastels becomes increasingly apparent.
The exhibition will include nearly thirty works in both mediums. The paintings and drawings from the early and mid-1970s are atmospheric, and among them are two of the works in which Mitchell developed a composition in relation to a poem typed on the sheet of paper. During the next several years, she introduced an emphatic vertical mark into both pastels and paintings. In the exhibition are three pastels and one painting from the series titled Tilleuls, a group of works named for a mature and impressive linden tree that crowned the terrace of her home in the country outside of Paris. A brilliant yellow floats above hovering bands of blue in a large Untitled pastel from 1979.
In 1982, Mitchell produced a greater than usual number of small-scale paintings. A close look at the paintings of this period strongly suggests that she was seeking to achieve in oil paint a kind of light that resulted from bold juxtapositions of pastel pigments. The unprecedented and challenging color combinations of several series of paintings she titled Gently, Merrily and Petit Matin – green and orange, magenta and green, red and orange, yellow and pink – reflect the influence of her work in pastel. One of the six large paintings made that year is Buckwheat. Mitchell juxtaposed the heat of cadmium colors against cool cobalt and flashes of cerulean blue and established a shimmering radiance that clearly evokes her admiration for Van Gogh, and is titled in reference to his paintings of wheat fields.
Joan Mitchell, Paintings and Pastels 1973-1983, at Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., 514 w. 25th Street, through June 21Tags: abstract drawing, abstract expressionism, Van Gogh, new york school painting, Artist, Weinberg
May 8, 2008 1 Comment
Tags: Stuart Davis, surrealism, Willem de Kooning, art, Artist, analytic cubism
A vivid biomorphic style and uniquely tragic personal history define Arshile Gorky as a major figure in twentieth-century modernism. While often classified as late Surrealism or as a precursor of Abstract Expressionism, his emotionally charged abstract style holds a distinct place among the explorations of the avant-garde.
Born in Armenia, Gorky emigrated to the United States as teenager in 1920. He and his family left their native land under duress after the genocide and massive displacement of Armenians during the World War I. Gorky’s mother starved to death as a result of their forced march—later, her memory inspired a series of family portraits. Although the upheaval of his early life profoundly shaped his art, Gorky took pains to obscure his Armenian heritage. Born Vosdanig Manoog Adoian, the artist abandoned his given name for a more Russian-sounding pseudonym after coming to the United States. To perpetuate the deception, he even claimed to be a cousin of the writer Maxim Gorky. As a young man, Gorky studied at the New School of Design in Boston and, later, the Grand Central School of Art in New York, where he taught from 1925 to 1931.
In the 1920s and 1930s Gorky embarked on a self-directed effort to retrace the artistic revolutions of Cézanne and Picasso. He had relatively little interest in Analytic Cubism, but was particularly interested in Picasso’s flat, richly painted, and deeply colored Synthetic Cubist paintings of the 1920s. Gorky’s acquaintance with Synthetic Cubist work–specifically that by Picasso–came primarily through his familiarity with paintings in museums and in publications such as Cahiers d’Art, a leading periodical that featured reproductions of works by both Braque and Picasso.
During his first decade in the United States, Gorky befriended Stuart Davis and John Graham, two artists who were also pursuing Cubist motifs. Gorky, Graham, and Davis came to be known as the “three musketeers.” Graham became a particularly important influence on Gorky in the 1930s, providing Gorky with stylistic and intellectual material that would complement Gorky’s understanding of Cubism. Gorky also developed a close relationship with Willem de Kooning soon after the Dutch-born artist arrived in the United States in 1926, and he helped introduce him other artists working in New York.
In the mid to late 1930s, Gorky moved away from Cubism and toward the looser, more emotional style he would explore for the rest of his career. The Garden in Sochi series, created from 1936 to 1942, marked an important new direction for him, both artistically and personally. The series was inspired by the Gorky family’s garden in Khorkom, the Armenian village where Gorky was born and spent his early childhood. Biomorphic shapes reflect the strong influence of Joan Miró on the artist during this period. The colorful shapes scattered across the solid-colored ground are generally understood to contain symbolic references to Gorky’s life. These forms are rendered so abstract, however, that explicit narrative readings of these works are impossible.
Just as he reached artistic maturity in the mid-1940s, Gorky was beset by series of tragedies: a studio fire that resulted in the loss of much of his work, a diagnosis of throat cancer, a car crash, and the breakup of his second marriage. He committed suicide in 1948, still relatively unknown outside art world circles. By 1951, when the Whitney Museum of American Art mounted “Arshile Gorky: Memorial Exhibition,” Gorky’s stature as an important modernist painter was secure.
Herrera, Hayden. Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2003).
Rand, Harry. Arshile Gorky: The Implications of Symbols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991).
© Copyright 2007 Hollis Taggart Galleries
April 21, 2008 No Comments
Yes, I read the Wall Street Journal sometimes. Anyway, Eric Gibson has an interesting piece about art writing that is worth the read. Here are a couple brief excerpts…
(Note: I haven’t been to the Whitney Biennial yet. Not because I dislike the Biennial, but mostly because I am lazy and it’s so hard to get above 59th Street. Thus I haven’t read the catalog either…)
Tags: zola, biennial exhibition, whitney biennial, avant-garde, Carol Diehl, Artist
In certain circles, the Whitney Museum’s Biennial exhibition of contemporary art is known as “the show everybody loves to hate.” Usually the criticism comes in the form of negative reviews. But this year it’s different, with the brickbats directed at the exhibition’s accompanying commentary instead of the art itself. Texts written by the Whitney’s curators and outside contributors are being widely (and accurately) dismissed as unalloyed gibberish.
What makes this complaint particularly significant is that it comes not from the public, whom the museum might privately dismiss as benighted philistines, but from insiders — artists and critics who know their stuff and are generally well-disposed toward the museum and its efforts.
When the show opened last month, artist and critic Carol Diehl blogged about the “impenetrable prose from the Whitney Biennial.” As examples, she offered “random quotes” about individual artists and their work taken from the exhibition’s wall texts and catalog. Among the gems:
• “. . . invents puzzles out of nonsequiturs to seek congruence in seemingly incongruous situations, whether visual or spatial . . . inhabits those interstitial spaces between understanding and confusion.”
• “Bove’s ‘settings’ draw on the style, and substance, of certain time-specific materials to resuscitate their referential possibilities, to pull them out of historical stasis and return them to active symbolic duty, where new adjacencies might reactivate latent meanings.”
From the late 19th century to just after World War II, writing about modern art was clear. It had to be. Critics from Émile Zola to Clement Greenberg were trying to explain new and strange art forms to a public that was often hostile to the avant-garde. To have a hope of making their case, these writers couldn’t afford to obfuscate. Today, when curators and critics can count on a large audience willing to embrace new art simply because it is new, they don’t have to try as hard.
Still, there is no excuse for a museum letting nonsense of the sort quoted above out in the open, particularly an institution whose mission includes educating the public. If the Whitney continues to snub this public — its core audience — by “explaining” art with incomprehensible drivel, it shouldn’t be surprised if people decide to return the favor and walk away.
April 18, 2008 3 Comments
Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), Woman and Bicycle, 1952-53, Oil on canvas, 76 1/2 x 49 in. (194.3 x 124.5 cm)
© 2000 Willem de Kooning Revocable Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
I’ve been thinking about Woman and Bicycle by Willem De Kooning for the past couple of days know, specifically about abstract painting prodding us as viewers to move beyond literal visual experience. I first saw this painting about a year ago at the Whitney Museum during the exhibition Picasso and American Art. I was standing in front of the painting, which is quite big about six feet high, alternating between getting up close and examining the surface with its layers and layers of oil paint, and stepping back to view the canvas as a whole. As I’m moving in to examine a particularly interesting passage slapped on and scrapped with a spackle knife, this older gentleman shoulders me out of the way and asks, “Where is the bicycle? Do you see the bicycle? I can’t see the bicycle! Can you show me the bicycle?” Annoyed I point to areas of the canvas and say here’s the seat, here are the handle bars, there’s one wheel and there’s the other. Frustrated, he said, “I still don’t see it!” and frumped away leaving me in peace to enjoy the painting, to picture in my mind a woman cruising on a bicycle out in East Hampton of Montauk on the east end of Long Island, warm summer breeze blowing through the fields, to forget the Whitney Museum on a dreary winter day in New York City crowded with people fawning over Picasso, Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollock.
Now looking at the painting we could do a formal analysis and talk about the overlapping planes of color and about how De Kooning compresses the space of the painting and attaches everything to the surface or about how the woman appears to be hanging from the top of the canvas, interesting issues for painters. Or we could psychoanalyze De Kooning and talk about sexual desire, anger and the fierce power of his women paintings. Either way they all seem to miss the point.
The truth is when you look at Woman and Bicycle, you don’t see a woman and a bicycle and you’re not supposed to. This isn’t a photograph or a silent film of a woman riding a bicycle. It’s a painting. The title is only a clue to the inspiration for the painting, a woman riding a bicycle, which was probably something De Kooning say fairly often out in East Hampton. But it captured his imagination, for whatever reason, and the painting is trying to capture ours as well. She beckons us to imagine a woman riding a bicycle on a sunny summer day. To picture it in our minds. To be the woman riding the bicycle. To feel the breeze. The warm sun. To smell the salty air or the cow shit, or the car exhaust, where ever we happen to be riding our bike. When the painting has inspired our imaginations to be the woman on the bicycle the we can see the woman on the bicycle, we see the painting. That is the beauty of abstract painting.Tags: gordon fraser, abstraction, abstract painting, museum exhibition, whitney museum
March 21, 2008 1 Comment