Andy Ritchie: The Speed of Art
Posted by ArtSlant Team
Art, like any information, is consumed.
It's observed, rent apart, and reordered in the mind, and it sometimes produces exhaust (a viewer's Ooh! and Wow! and Bah!, for example). As life's information is consumed more and more quickly, should art keep apace? Can art be both fast and profound? After all, fast or not, we are still profound, right?
Artists should always nod and accept a change in audience temperament, sooner rather than later. Look, I would never promote the deboning of artists, and I would never condemn us to a fate of facile placation of (mostly casual) aesthetes. The value of acceptance lies in insight par excellence to the hidden-in-plain-sight complex world in which subcultures intertwine like ebony and ivory. The artist's job is to turn that fool's gold real. Art doesn't need to aim for the base like a fire extinguisher, but normative behaviors are fine pace cars (or at worst, dipsticks) for the current of culture. And that's a great place to start for profundity.
So how do we plumb the shallows? More art in the world means the art audience has less time for any one work, a mounting problem. And poor art education ensures that too much of that time will be spent with crap art. Given the quickening and correlative relationship between computer circuit and attention span, how can today’s art be true and profound? Or will we be stuck with the art we "deserve"?
Sadly, and probably for expediency, I'm resigned to bullet-pointing some solutions—editorial obedience—but I'm craving any additions you ArtSlant readers can provide (TBC, as they say):
*Create an epic work observable in spoonfuls (like my recent six-month reading of Moby Dick)
*Create a portable, even wearable, art—outward-facing rather than inward
*Create a supplementary online doppelgänger, a sort of immersion-by-proxy method
*Create a short spectacle—and, of course, document the hell out of it
*Create a pervasive urban campaign of art, in the spirit of graffiti, but somehow evolved
Most of these ideas fixate on accessibility, creating something that lives everywhere always or somewhere fixed for a long time—hey, we're still confined to space-time. Jem Finer's Longplayer is a 1000-year-long song, an example of how art can be perversely long while being intended for the shortest consumption. It is essentially short-form art. Long-form is for the patient and the dead in today's world of passive futurists.
--Andy Ritchie, staff writer, ArtSlant San Francisco
(Images: Thomas Struth, Museo del Prado 5, 2005, C-print, Ed of 10. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle. Thomas Struth, Audience 1, C-print, Ed of 10. Courtesy of the artist and Galleri K)
Abraham Ritchie: Chicago Planned and Unplanned
Posted by ArtSlant Team
Chicago’s citywide celebration of the 100-year anniversary of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago has been underway all year, but has really increased in visibility and activity over this summer. If you go anywhere downtown seeing something about the Plan of Chicago is virtually unavoidable, there are the pavilions in Millennium Park, a myriad of exhibitions at many of the city’s institutions, and a slightly creepy, computer generated 3D model of Daniel Burnham’s head graced the entrance to the central Harold Washington Library. Behind the hype and the flash of the celebration is a real opportunity to learn about the legacy of the 1909 Plan and think about what plans Chicago is currently making for the future.
Color plate from The Plan for Chicago. Jules Guerin, delineator; Daniel Burnham and Edward Herbert Bennett, architects. Plan of Chicago, Plate 132: View Looking West of the Proposed Civic Center Plaza and Buildings, Showing It as the Center of the System of Arteries of Circulation and of Surrounding Country, 1908. On permanent loan to the Art Institute of Chicago from the City of Chicago.
There’s a lot to celebrate about the Burnham Plan and what it did for the city. It gave Chicago its lakefront parks that are enjoyed by all the very moment that weather permits after a long winter (and especially by those in Grant Park over the weekend at Lollapalooza). Parks were planned not only along the picturesque lakefront but also radiating out from downtown; these eventually became our current forest preserves. Burnham’s plan also shaped the city itself by unifying Michigan Avenue into a contiguous street and creating a major route for traffic in the creation of Wacker Drive. The rectilinear grid of Chicago’s streets is an asset to the lost and also a result of Burnham’s plan. The very nature of the city and some of its most beloved and valued features are a product of Burnham’s vision for the city.
Officially, the celebrations of the city and its plan are under the auspices of The Burnham Plan Centennial organization, which itself is comprised of virtually every cultural institution in the city in addition to the many others. Even the City of Elgin and Aurora are partners in the centennial celebration. But given the vested interests that are involved in this event, a strong flavor of boosterism can develop, and I have mentioned some of the positive aspects of the plan but I want to take this opportunity to step back and critically reflect on the occasion of the Burnham Plan Centennial.
One of the major events of the Burnham Plan Centennial has been the construction of two pavilions in Millennium Park. One is designed by London architect Zaha Hadid and the other by Ben van Berkel of the Amsterdam-based UNStudio. According to the Burnham Plan Centennial website, the structures are meant to “echo the audacious future-looking images and words of the Burnham Plan.” Each of the structures is no doubt futuristic-looking but the reality of the structures has said volumes more than their intentions.
Zaha Hadid's pavilion in Millennium Park, July 2nd.
Though the van Berkel pavilion opened on time to the public in June, the Hadid pavilion opened to the public only a few days ago, almost two months behind schedule. When I visited on August 6, 2009, it was still roped off to the public as an A/V technician worked on some malfunctioning feature. Once the Hadid pavilion did open (I’m told that happened over the weekend), the van Berkel pavilion will close as crews work to repair damage to the structure that has resulted from visitors.
Zaha Hadid's pavilion in Millennium Park, August 6th.
The lessons of these pavilions’ less-than-stellar performance are the lessons Chicago must take into the future as we consider what the next 100 years may hold. Our citizens are active and energetic, it’s what has built up this city into what it is and it’s how we conduct ourselves in our parks. The destruction that visitors have wrecked on the van Berkel pavilion is unfortunate but not at all unforeseeable. Our future plans must take into account the public at its best and at its most chaotic, we need durable plans that account for the unexpected or even the expected. The long delayed and overly technical Hadid pavilion may prove to be a futuristic architectural wonder, but its reality illustrates that we need practical and expedient solutions to our shared problems in the city, whether that be crime, corruption or pollution. We need to start working on these now, not somewhere down the line.
There’s a lot to celebrate about the Burham Plan and there’s a lot to think about too. It’s impossible to have a celebration of a city plan without boosterism, especially in Chicago where civic pride runs high. But while we’re celebrating we should not forget that there is a lot left to do and even more to anticipate.
--Abraham Ritchie, City Editor, ArtSlant Chicago
Andrew Berardini: Letter from Los Angeles (Giving in to SGSs)
Posted by ArtSlant Team
Most wars are started in August. It’s true.
Most quotes one finds about summer are about how great summer is. Rarely does one find quotes about how horrible summer is. How long, how hot, how interminable the sweaty days, how much worse work feels under the yoke of summer. Most people who are quoted on summer must be aristocratic poets penning their verse with long lazy loops in leather bound notebooks bought for the purpose of vacationing by the seaside.
Summer is long. Summer is hot. Once you’re out of school, summer is just another season, with longer days and more opportunities to get drunk in the daylight. Summer is a bit sexier and a bit lazier, I’ll give it that, two qualities I hold in high regard. Laziness usually wins out when it comes to art. Look up "summer" in any quote book and the phrase “summer rose” appears all too often. Clichés being a kinder way to say lazy. The making of art is one thing; Van Gogh and Gauguin had good summer runs. But for the exhibition of art, summer is bad, generally speaking. In LA, the museums put on permanent collection shows. In Paris, they're choked with tourists craning to see their reflection in the Mona Lisa so that they can say they saw their reflection in the Mona Lisa. In commercial galleries, it’s the Summer Group Show.
THE SUMMER GROUP SHOW; noun; a ubiquitous and almost entirely useless animal that lumbers around every June through August to haphazardly stuffed galleries.
The Summer Group Show (or SGS) is a phenomenon handed down to us from our New York forefathers (and mothers) that signifies the real money is out of town, nobody’s left around but broke artists, and that sometimes galleries still need to be filled with art because the dealers can’t just stop paying rent for the summer, even though, as forestated, the money’s out of town.
Named after French New Wave films or Joy Division songs or under some vague-ish medium such as “Sculpture” (which though flavorless isn’t dishonest), these SGS's are more often than not a composite of friends, a spare few plucked from legions of art school chums and bar mates, or worse, the uneven program of “gallery artists” (or rather whatever we got in the backroom that ain’t sold yet). These can be fun, no doubt, and their laziness is truly the laziness of summer, but there’s rarely any sense of adventure, expectancy, or play. Rarely do we wonder what comes next or thrill at the twists and turns of an unfolding, an unraveling, a compilation. Rarely do we find the major work of a major artist. Calling around the galleries this June, figuring out what would be up for the summer, the most common answer was, “I don’t know.” And some have the mixed dignity just to not have anything up. But galleries should be filled with art. This is a problem that needs some attempt at solving.
Or does it? As the press release attribute all kind of agencies to art, except that it never says it will look nice with your sofa or could be flipped easily for a swift profit, the summer group show may be a thing that is necessarily broken. Perhaps it gives opportunities to young artists who might not otherwise get into gallery shows. (Although there is the pitfall of the perpetual group show rut, where the CV grows long with badly titled, weakly thought out local exhibitions. Not a good fate). I went to a thrown together SGS this week, but when you have works by Nauman and Baldessari moldering in the basement, you could do worse.
In LA, the Summer Group Show is a slightly bad put on, if only because we’re not New York. Though, I know quite a few well-heeled artists that pretend at being New Yorkers and summer on the Cape or in the Hamptons, with all the historic kitsch of quirkily named beach houses, irate townies, and streets lined with East Coasters with bright white pimply skin and brighter white zinc oxided noses.
In the LA summer not everyone is out of town. In fact, many have simply gone to the beach down the road or are lounging poolside in their own backyard. The weather in Los Angeles is always bearable, unlike the Sweatsock Subway Death Stench that overcomes New York every summer. And the money is in town, just like any other time. Collectors are still about; I see them making the rounds, picking up young works on the cheap from the better SGSs and the savvier dealers (who, no matter what show they have up, have a few Eastern European paintings tucked away in the back just in case the right collector should stroll in.) And for those of us not heading to cottages or beach houses, with family either too close to go visit for days or too far away to visit but every couple of years, we are here. We are looking. We wish we could be lazier but can’t afford to, even the critics just write essays about laziness. What a lost virtue...
So I give in. Give me your Summer Group Shows. Here’s to “Sculpture” and “Paintings” and “10 New Young LA Whatevers.” Here’s to “Me and My Friends” and “Stuff We Got That Ain’t Sold Yet.” Here’s to the vaguely assembled exhibition, titled with hip, pop references and quotations from last season’s theorist. Here’s to the debilitating heat and squelch of sweaty skin pulling away from hot leather seats, the flies and dog days and nights sleeping with only a sheet and it still being too damn hot. Here’s to youth and heat and laziness.
Something, I suppose, is better than nothing.
--Andrew Berardini, West Coast Editor, ArtSlant Los Angeles
Posted by ArtSlant Team
While in LA, I was astounded by a kind of linguistic jockeying that seemed to have taken hold.
In discussing the effect of the economic downturn on the art world, I listened to person after person describe the situation with carefully crafted phrases guaranteed to ameliorate:
"Yes, it really is good because the art world had gotten too frothy..."
"It's the best thing for art. We can get more serious now..."
"I no longer have to worry so much about sales; now I can give my attention to the work..."
"We needed to re-balance..."
"We'll have to learn a new way of living, a more spiritual way..."
"This will give us space for experimentation..."
On and on the dialogue went...the power of the spin.
Days later, I arrived back in Paris and took a taxi from the airport. The taxi driver could have doubled as Mrs. Doubtfire, without the wig. She (?) sang out "bonjour" as I brought my suitcases over to the taxi, and I thought how well Mrs. Doubtfire sounded in French! Despite the jet lag, I attempted to make conversation just to hear her talk - about the bad gasole she had gotten the other day; how much she liked les americaines especially les dollars; the balmy spring weather...
Coming off the Peripherique, a bus aggressively pushed us aside in the merge between two lanes. Mrs. DF buzzed down the window and shouted "terroriste" at the top of her considerable lungs. The r's rolled perfectly and the point on the final "t" was stinging. It sounded hip and impossibly ‘now'...using that word as the ultimate signifier of disgust. Only Mrs. DF could get away with it. I am sure this word is being used in the most trendy of underground clubs and will soon hit the upper ground in all kinds of spinful ways.
Then a few days later I found myself in the Jonas Mekas show at the galerie du jour, agnes b., and couldn't help but take a snap of this image:
(Image: Jonas Mekas)
Can an artist terrorize? How? Do we quake in our boots waiting for the next image to bombard us? Do we feel psychically or physically violated by art? Does the violence propagated by artists have the wherewithall to influence politics? Do we watch to make sure that artists aren't moving in next door?
In seriousness, as it is now a rather serious time, I love the juxtaposition of artist and terrorist...for it alludes to the profoundly powerful manner in which an artist can explode old ways of perceiving and acting. Take for example, some of these moments of shock from the art world:
But nightmares aside, how good it is to be back in the land where I don't understand what is going on. It's best that way. Sometimes. And I've decided for the summer that I will take my café without froth, and spend a bit more time with the work.
(All images @ the artists represented)
La La Noir
Posted by ArtSlant Team
I am back in LA! Happy to be here.
Whenever I come back to LA I am amazed at the brightness and brilliance of the light. It is so consuming. Bouncing off the ocean, streaming through the desert dryness, the glare is almost too much to take in. I think about it, talk about it, and often write about it whenever I return to my LA home.
I went immediately and bought some new sunglasses. And then I went to the beach to try them out. Nice….
I like standing on the sand and looking out at the horizon. Ocean meets sky. It reminds me of so much art from Rothko to Sugimoto. Is this the place where we fall off the edge, Christopher Columbus?
I love the beachy breeziness. I had lunch in Venice on Washington Blvd. What a circus. Land of the eccentric, the zanier the better. How many tourists have come and stayed because they like the freedom of getting so close to the edge?
A friend in Paris, Tony, told me on his first visit to LA that it was the most exotic place he had ever been, and he had been in many exotic places around the world. Driving down Sunset Boulevard, from west to east, he felt as though he was being rocketed from one dimension to the next. Abrupt shifts occur along this ride, without logic or explanation, quickly and without warning. From culture to culture, style to style, the neighborhoods, the buildings, the people, the signs, the colors, all of it twists and morphs and shape-shifts again and again. The journey seems to go forever. Postmodern pastiche played out in real time. When he told me this, I realized the truth in his impression.
Like all things in LA, the art scene is at once brilliant and dark with hidden depths and an uneasy sense that something destructive or depraved or simply delusional lurks below the shiny surface. Maybe it is the ocean calling from our subconscious that brings the noir mystique: shiny and shimmering on the surface; lots going on underneath. When you go under the surface there is beauty and beast, terror and calm. Looking up, you can see the surface and safety and relax into the depths for a bit longer.
LA is a city of many lives and lots of lucky charms. It gives hope and takes it away, just like the roll of the ocean waves. We come back to the shore each day looking for the next wave. Perpetual optimism dashed upon the sandy beach. But who cares when there is so much vision?
The Nine Lives exhibition at the Hammer Museum says it all: visionary artists from L.A. I haven’t seen it yet but have it planned. Nine Lives features over 125 works, much of it new, by nine LA artists spanning four generations —Lisa Anne Auerbach, Julie Becker, Llyn Foulkes, Charles Irvin, Hirsch Perlman, Victoria Reynolds, Kaari Upson, Jeffrey Vallance, and Charlie White.
Here’s a few of the charms from these lucky nine:
The Lost Frontier
Mixed media. 87 x 96 x 8 in. (221 x 243.8 x 20.3 cm). Courtesy the artist and Kent Gallery, New York.
Lisa Anne Auerbach
Ultrachrome print. 16 1/2 x 16 1/2 in. (41.9 x 41.9 cm). Courtesy the artist and Gavlak, West Palm Beach, Florida.
The Brown Wall
Photographed in situ at the home of Jeffrey Vallance. Courtesy the artist and Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo by Joshua White.
Leda and the Swan
Video, color, sound. 4:36 min. Courtesy Greene Naftali Gallery, New York.
Ink on paper. 24 x 18 in. (61 x 45.7 cm). Courtesy the artist. Photo by Charles Irvin.
Flight of the Reindeer
Oil on panel, frame. 32 x 43 1/4 in. (81.2 x 109.9 cm). Collection of Barry Sloane. Photo by Tony Cuñha.
Teen and Transgender Comparative Study #2
Chromogenic print. 26 1/2 x 36 in. (67.3 x 91.4 cm). Courtesy Loock Gallery, Berlin.
Mixed media sculptural installation with video projections. Dimensions variable. Installation view from Nine Lives: Visionary Artists from L.A., March 8 - May 31, 2009, Hammer Musuem, Los Angeles. Photo: Joshua White.
An Animus Cat Apostate
Chromogenic print. 97 x 72 in. (246.4 x 182.9 cm). Courtesy the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles.
Add some feathers
Posted by ArtSlant Team
What a whirlwind the last month has been!
Sort of goes with March winds, but actually Paris has been very unwindy. Cold, dreary, gray, but not windy. However, the big news is that the sun has finally appeared to the accompaniment of birds and cafe chatter and screaming children and barking pets running wild in the parks.
(Image: Mark Dutcher, Havilah (installation shot), February, 2009. Courtesy of the artist and Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles.)
The Curatorial Team spent a good portion of the last week sequestered at ArtSlant HQ, barely aware of the sun outside. We were selecting the winners for our first Showcase competition. Thankfully, with hundreds of images swirling in the head and lots of discussion and some arguing, the winning group was finally settled upon last night.
The overwhelming consensus? Art lives and artists are indomitable. Put some feathers on that!
If you ever need a life affirming moment, simply look at some art (or even better lots of art). The sheer power and determination to create, to communicate, even just to continue, overshadows everything else. There absolutely is a silver lining and it is called life.
(Image: Mark Dutcher, Sylvester (Do you want to funk?), 2008, acrylic, oil, paintstick, feathers and canvas on wood, 92x72x4 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles)
To go along with all of this positivity I received images from Mark Dutcher, a Los Angeles-based artist whom I had first met during a Rackroom interview. Somehow looking at the images of his current show, I became conscious of the renewal that had occurred over the past week. It was a renewal brought about not just from the sunshine and the open windows, nor simply from the completion of a difficult task, but it was a renewing of some basic hope. From having spent hours and days practically non-stop with those hundreds of artists from around the world who had submitted their work for consideration, my attitude had been tranformed. Work aside, good, bad, indifferent...none of that really mattered. It was their drive to get up each day and go at it again that had affected me deeply and catalyzed that sense of joyful I AM that I felt.
Put some feathers on that!
(Image: Mark Dutcher, Shafter, 2008, Oil, acrylic, glitter, feathers, foam, and wax on canvas, 25 1/2 x 10 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles)
Posted by ArtSlant Team
| tags: London
I was in London this past week sloshing through the slosh and strolling through St. Pancras.
Despite the cold and the tube delays and the cabbie demonstration at Trafalgar Square, I managed to get to a few hot shows and to meet up with the team for ArtSlant London.
The team converged on the IMT Gallery for the opening of Maria von Köhler's exhibition, Maybe a Herm, on Thursday evening, February 5th. While at IMT, Lindsay Friend and Mark Jackson gave us the royal treatment with champagne and lots of hospitality.
Then we hurried over to The Star of Bethnal Green for some Beatles tunes and a quick drink and gab. It was the first get-to-know-you for the London team and I think we're all looking forward to big things to come.
After The Star, a few of us went up to Vyner Street for First Thusday to troll the galleries with the other stalwart art goers. I have to admit, I didn't last long. If you don't know about First Thursdays - here's a nice lowdown from those in the know - First Thursdays late night art on the First Thursday of the month in East London.
I got to a few other shows while in London, and as serendipity would have it, they were the same two shows that David Yu one of our new writers in London happened to review for the week. How weird is that! I guess art-minds think alike:
Jon Pylypchuk at Alison Jacques (a must see)
Jonathan Meese at Modern Art (brutal)
(Images above: Maria von Köhler, Maybe a Herm, installation shot outside IMT Gallery; Courtesy ArtSlant. Jon Pylypchuck, I miss you, danger, and all its elements, 2006, mixed media, Courtesy the Artist. Jonathan Meese, "CASINOZ BABYMETABOLISMN" (Put DR. NO'S MONEY in your mouth, Baby) invite image, 2008, Modern Art; Courtesy the Artist & Modern Art, London)
Top 12 from 2008
Posted by ArtSlant Team
2008 was a very good year for ArtSlant. This year's collection of reviews and interviews was filled with highlights! Here are the Top 12 Rackroom Interviews as selected by our community:
January 08: Lisa Sigal (installation, sculpture) - interview by Yaelle Amir
February 08: Bruce Tomb (architecture, conceptual) - interview by Natalie Hegert
March 08: Mark Dutcher (painting) - interview by Georgia Fee
April 08 - Deric Carner (drawing, performance, digital) - interview by Andy Ritchie
May 08: Ruben Ochoa (installation, photography) - interview by Nico Machida
June 08: Margarita Cabrera (sculpture) - interview by Sasha Bergstrom-Katz
July 08: Nicolas Lampert (multi-discipline) - interview by Abraham Ritchie
August 08: Kori Newkirk (sculpture, photography, video) - interview by Catherine Wagley
September 08: Alexandra Grant (drawing & painting) - interview by Ed Schad
October 08: Philippe Gronon (photography) - interview by Frances Guerin
November 08: Kamau Patton (performance, video) - interview by Michelle Y. Hyun
December 08: Marc Ganzglass (video, books, photography) - interview by Trong Gia Nguyen
(Image above: Lisa Sigal, Untitled - Refuge, 2007, mixed-media sculpture. Courtesy the Artist.)
Hands Across the World
Posted by ArtSlant Team
I was reading today about the 2008 fellowships awarded by United States Artists.
What caught my eye was the word, fellowship.
Companionship, society, association, club, fraternity, guild, league...however you say it, it means connecting.
Fellowship is connecting from hand to hand, from thought to thought, from eye to eye. It is a coming together of people in a common interest or endeavor.
I like thinking about this hand-to-hand touching. It is such a powerful symbol of the world uniting. Why don't we have a hands-across-the-world day? You know, like on April 16th at 7am EST every one walks outside and grabs a hand until the chain of holding hands circles the globe? Surely someone has tried to organize this...it's a geographical challenge.
If you could only have one sense what would it be? That's not altogether a pleasant thing to consider. How could I voluntarily give up any of them? I'll give you one day of sight for 2 days of hearing? No, not a pleasant thought.
Take for instance, the sense of touch. What is more exquisite than the softness of cashmere or the coolness of marble? (I was in the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, a few weeks ago looking at the Byzantine mosaics, and I walked barefoot across the marble floors...unforgettable.)
Could you give up the sense of touch if you got to keep the sense of taste? (You know, the funny thing is that art is traditionally such a touchy thing, and yet, Rule #1 in a museum is Do Not Touch...)
But back to fellowships (and how did I get off on that touching tangent anyway!), one thing at ArtSlant is that we are into fellowship, paid or otherwise. WE want to connect art and artists and art lovers and art goers because we love art. In fact, the ArtSlant Team has just opened two new art cities - London and Berlin - just so we could connect with more art!
And we want our art fellowship to include all types of artists - from the ones who get the accolades to those who walk into the studio everyday and simply punch the clock!
Hi Art World! We are in league with you...
Here's some images from this year's USA fellowship artists (taken from www.unitedstatesartists.org):
(Images top-bottom: Tehching Hsieh, Punching the Time Clock on the Hour, One Year Performance 1980-1981; photo courtesy Michael Shen; Andrea Bowers, Quilts of Radical Hospitality/Edredón de hospitalidad radical, 2008, 2 fabric quilts (each 866.14 x 228.60 cm); photo courtesy Joshua White; Rodney McMillian, International Artist-in-Residence New Works 08.1, ArtPace, San Antonio, TX; photo courtesy of ArtPace San Antonio and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; photo credit Todd Johnson; Terry Adkins, Black Beethoven, 2004-2007, mixed media Recital In honor of Quinton Brown, Jr.; photo courtesy Terry Adkins and Pageant Soloveev, Philadelphia; Martha Rosler, The Gray Drape, 2008, photomontage; photo courtesy Martha Rosler)
Posted by ArtSlant Team
For the art enthusiast, it is hard to deny the excitement of the fall openings.
Whether it's New York or Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris or you-name-it, there is a brightness in the art world that surrounds the first few weeks of September.
It is a strange phenonmena: running from gallery to gallery, barely glimpsing the work (but taking it in anyway), stopping for a how-are-you or a couple of let's-have-drinks. It is really the utmost in frivolity and butterfly-flits...I go back year after year, never tiring of the ride.
And, incredibly enough, this phenomena seems to play out in city after city, no matter how far away. In Paris last weekend with writer and art historian, Frances Guerin, we strolled the streets of Turenne and Sainte Claude moving from one crowd to the next, following the noise, taking pics, and dodging the occasional rain drop. Mostly people stand outside in the street in front of the galleries, so it is a social gauntlet to get in to see the artist and their work. We were even refused a glass of juice sans alcool (absolutement pas!) at one mini-party (a shame because the glasses were quite nice). We gawked at the people, and snipped at the work and just had a ball. The night ended in the rue de Rosiers where Chez Marianne was impossibly packed.
The openings are not really about the art, are they?... although certainly the art is at the center of these extravaganzas. But who can see it for all the people, much less spend reflective time with all the distractions. No - it is the plain and simple celebration that we come for - the celebration of creativity. Whether it be intellectual or whimsical, political or horrifying, awesome or restful...we create. And this is what draws us like the moth to the flame.
A few highlights from last week's openings:
- Galerie Eva Hober: German artist, Maike Freess, shows new drawings
- Dominique Fiat Galerie - Philippe Gronon photographs (see our Gallery Hop review)
- Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin - Sophie Calle & Jesper Just
- Galeri Karsten Greve - Yiorgos Kordakis photographs (see Gallery Hop review)
(Images: Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin front steps; Frances Guerin arriving at openings; @ArtSlant)
Posted by ArtSlant Team
A friend and artist in Paris, Monte Laster, suggested we attend the opening of the FRAC collection (one of the largest collections of primarily French contemporary art) at the MAC/VAL Museum on the outskirts of Paris. What luck!
Just a few days before that I had read a short blurb on this (fairly new) contemporary spot and made a mental note to go. That's serendipity.
Further to this serendipitous (wait! I have to go look that up - yep it's a word) moment, my good friend in Rio emailed about the MAC//VAL, saying I should definitely get out to see it.
Serendipity on top of serendipity.
According to Dictionary.com, "serendipity" means an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. WOW! This is something to be pondered - how does one gain this aptitude?
I had always considered serendipity, or the experience of coincidences, as a part of life beyond my control and simply a matter of LUCK. Everyone had moments of serendipity - few and far between - and it was a glorious and fun thing when it happend.
Now I find out that it is an aptitude, which implies improvement with practice, and I am rethinking my mistaken view of enchantment. In fact, starting today, I am going to practice my serendipity aptitude. As I go to the grocery store or take the metro to a rendez-vous, I am going to make a conscious effort to find such occurrences...discover them like land mines waiting to be tripped over... I am adopting a new relationship to serendipity. Perhaps, if you build it, the coincidences will come and all of that...
Back to the MAC/VAL: Monte and I met up at the end of the Line 7 metro at Port d'Italie. Then we took the Tram and a bus from there...MAC/VAl is not exactly in the center of town.
The MAC/VAL is sleek, contempy and very large. It hosts a huge permanent collection, temporary exhibitions, residencies, book store, restaurant, educational events, cinema...an outdoor expanse with sculpture and fountains.. It was built by Jacques Ripault and opened in November 2005.
I looked it up and found this article by SHIFT :
In Japan you may imagine a quiet residential area when you hear the word "suburb." But in France, the suburban areas are where low-income groups and immigrants move to avoid high rent in the urban districts. And lately, it has been hard to keep the peace in the suburbs outside of Paris.
The museum, which was built by Jacques Ripault, opened in November 2005 in the suburban city of Vitry. After 20 years of deliberation, the prefectural assembly chose Vitry because the location is symbolic of its cultural policy to promote contemporary arts (see more)...
.The FRAC exhibit is presenting almost all of the collection - to be set up in stages. The large warehouse-like room in which the work is being shown has racks at the back end filled with crates and boxes of work that is "to be shown" later. It is a progressive exhibit, sort of like those progressive meals where you go from one house to the next for each course. "High concept" one person said to me. Naturally, I wanted to pull out my exacto knife and go tackle the boxes of yet-to-be's.
Overall, the opening was like any other - milling, chatting, sipping, wondering who that man in the green shirt was... There was a nice array of drinks, and I especially enjoyed the Badoit extra fizzy water in the brilliant red bottle. There were little cups in which one could take a handful of peanuts or pretzels. Very accomodating. One could smoke outside in the sculpture garden, and you had to show your ticket to get back in to the opening. We got chased out of the exhibition salon for taking our drinks inside, the usual, and I couldn't tell which pieces I could touch and got in trouble for that too. The wonderful part of not speaking the language is that I can feign ignorance for everything....
While there I noted down my own set of rules for art openings that go like this: Don't touch; don't spill; don't expect to feel comfortable; don't stay long; don't stop moving (it won't be abvious that you don't know anyone); don't walk too quickly as you might crash into some art; and, if you really want to see the work, it's better to go early in the day when no one else is around.
Looking at art takes some focus and some aptitude.
Just like serendipities.
(All images courtesy of ArtSlant)
ART ABROAD - Thomas Regan
Posted by ArtSlant Team
on the go with Thomas Regan
Thomas Regan lives between Maryland, USA and Paris, France. He is an avid traveler and photographer. His photo essays include many fascinating and beautiful images from great art spots of the world. Tom is truly a man on the go...
(Image above: Tom Regan (middle) with friends, George & Dean, relaxing in West Hollywood, CA)
MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, LUXEMBOURG
The following images were taken by Regan on a trip to the Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (MUDAM).
Fondation Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean
10, avenue Guillaume
Tel: +352 45 37 85-33
Fax: +352 45 37 85-30
|Luxembourg's new Museum of Modern Art has opened its doors to the public for the first time on July 1, 2006
|The "Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean" -to quote its full name- has been designed by the famous sino-american architect I.M.Pei.
|Built at a cost of 90 million euros and offering 6000 sq. metres of exhibition space, the new museum is without doubt one of the country's most ambitious architectural and cultural projects to date. The museum will progressively unveil its collection of more then 230 works by more than 100 artists of international renown, while presenting themed exhibitions open to all domains of contemporary creation: photography, painting, multimedia, fashion, design and graphic arts.
(All images courtesy of Thomas Regan.)
Decisions Here and Abroad
Posted by ArtSlant Team
Have you ever found yourself caught between two choices?
The photo sort of says it all - don't you think?
Things can get twisted in those moments. Should I or shouldn't I? Go or stay? This one or that one?
Indecision can be so painful, especially when it goes on for a long time. I have definitely had my troubles with indecision.
In exploring my inability to make decisions, I found out that it was my basic outlook that was getting in the way. I simply put too much stock in the result of the decision. Rather than focusing on the act of deciding, I hemmed and hawed over the potential results. This naturally involved quite a bit of mind reading and fortune telling.
Finally, after years of being hopelessly indecisive, I found out that you Just Decide. Poof.
Before I came to this new-found ability, I had often thought there should be decision-making classes like 3-hour workshops, or maybe a weekend retreat, in which you practice being a decider.
It could start each morning with a series of rapid decisions - put the pressure on to force the novice into the waters: Banana or orange? Coffee or Tea? Shirt or sweater? High heels or flats? Then it could move into a mid-morning workshop - say Favorites: Favorite color, movie, song, book. Fast-paced, blurt it out kind of decision making...then maybe move into more important areas like large-goods purchasing or pet adoption...
Hey this is beginning to sound like LIFE.
In fact, as I write this I am coming to the realization that life is one, long, decision-making workshop. And now that I consider this further, I am beginning to get a little freaked out by the sheer volume of decisions one has to make every single day simply to get by...No wonder I felt inadequate.
WHAT ABOUT ARTSLANT?
So where was I and how does this relate to ArtSlant? Oh Yes - the photo. That's where this all started.
I found these pictures in my file of photos from Art Basel 2007. I didn't go this year and was feeling a little left out. While looking through them I thought of how many interesting photos people must take as they are travelling on art-related matters. People really can take some nice photos.
I decided (in one of those rapid-paced moments of decision-making supremacy) that I wanted to have a summer showcase on ArtSlant of art adventure photos.
IT WILL BE CALLED ART ABROAD
I am starting it off with the above photos from Art Basel - they really aren't much, but I like them. And, more than that, I like the concept of "abroad" because it is a non-distance - it could be right next door to someone who lives in Iceland. One's starting point is the determinant.
So, that's the decision du jour. We are looking for submissions for Art Abroad - send your choicest pics from your art travels. And that means deciding which one to send...now that can get complicated.
Moment for Rauschenberg
Posted by ArtSlant Team
Robert Rauschenberg, American Artist, Dies at 82, Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, May 08
Memories of Rauschenberg: 'A giant among artists, Diane Hathman, Los Angeles Times May 08
Pop artist Robert Rauschenberg dies in Fla. at 82, Mitch Stacy, SF Gate, May 08
Hetero-normalizing Robert Rauschenberg, Tyler Green, Modern Art Notes, May 08
...But Will His Market Hold Up?, Daniel Grant, The Wall Street Journal May 2008
Robert Rauschenberg: Obituary, Ed Schad, I call it ORANGES
Robert Rauschenberg Has Died, Will, on NY Turf, May 08
Robert Rauschenberg: Man at Work, Ovation TV, You Tube
Robert Rauschenberg - Erased De Kooning, You Tube
(Images: Robert Rauschenberg, Retroactive I, 1964, oil and silkscreen ink on canvas, 84x60 in, Wadsworth Athenuem, Hartford, Connecticut; Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953, traces of ink and crayon on paper, 25.25x21.75x0.5 in, Retroactive I, 1964, oil and silkscreen ink on canvas, 84x60 in; SF MOMA @ Robert Rauschenberg/Licensed by VAGA, NY)
Pass the Romanticism
Posted by ArtSlant Team
San Francisco was called the Queen City of the West, and the Palace Hotel near Union Square was called the Palace of the West.
I sat in the Garden Court at the Palace Hotel. When it opened in 1875, it was the carriage entrance and thousands flocked to see it. And the crowd came to see the hydraulic elevators which were called "rising rooms." This hotel has history.
I was entranced by the glass ceiling and the sheer elegance of that giant palm-filled room, sharing thoughts and musings on the San Francisco art scene with a number of people. The evening before several family members and I had been in the Pied Piper Bar talking about the history of this hotel, studying Maxfield Parrish's mural, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, hanging prominently behind the bar. It all seemed wildly romantic, without the Sturm and Earthquake...
Maxfield Parrish (1877-1966). He was big in the late 60's when the rock culture took up the illustrative genre for the posters announcing the Filmore or Avalon.
And of course when he was alive he was a household must - everyone had their Parrish print hanging somewhere in their home. They (whoever that is) named a color "Parrish blue," a luminous neon kind of blue. Above all Parris was a colorist achieving his luminous surfaces by means of glazing - layerings of oil and varnish.
In Art in America (March 1996), Ken Johnson said of him "Kitsch meets the sublime - illustrator Maxfield Parrish."
One of the quotes from Parrish is:
"I'm done with girls on rocks!..."
After painting them for thirteen years, he quit. I wonder if there was a detox involved. Imagine how many girls, how many rocks.
The Golden Age of Illustration, of which Parrish was a prominent force, continues today. Look at deviantART. Sure, we've gone from the bright side of the moon to the dark side of the moon. The girls are more than likely emaciated and world-weary rather than aglow with virginal purity. But it's 100 years later and a long walk through the woods.
And what's this got to do with ArtSlant?
Nothing really. It was just that the Joshua Petker interview was published in the San Francisco slant yesterday and he mentions Parrish in his interview. I was reflecting on how post-romanticism seems to vie with post-modernism in capturing our attentions, and wanting to think about that a little more. I don't really even like Maxfield but that's not to say thinking about him hasn't been satisfying.
Then I was reminded of that weekend at the Palace Hotel last November sitting in the Garden Court when the weather was crystal, the bridge was gleaming, and I was running around the Queen of the West interviewing writers for ArtSlant...and it seemed, well, wildly romantic.
As I was writing this I read the legend of the pied piper (Robert Browning's take) which is about a man with a magical pipe who, after saving the town of Hamelin, Germany from rats, was betrayed by the townsmen and not paid for his services. In revenge the pied piper lured all but two of the village's children with his magical pipe into a cave never to be seen again...now that's Sturm and Dragnet. Guess Parris had his dark moons as well.