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roundup gets put out to pasture

Post #486 • March 4, 2005, 9:20 AM • 57 Comments

Tom Lehrer once remarked that satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. This week, with side by side by side by side fawning over the contents of MoCA, the roundup has become obsolete.

These may be fine shows, but I doubt they are as far above criticism as these writers would have me believe. I'm putting the roundup on hiatus indefinitely.




March 4, 2005, 7:25 PM

Perhaps, in order to salvage something from my ill-advised MOCA membership, I'll go there this weekend. If so, I'll report.



March 4, 2005, 9:15 PM

Too bad you are putting Roundup away, but I can understand the frustration. The reviews you have linked would do it for me too.

Bourgeois, in my opinion is one of the most overrated artists in the world today & Gallagher is making headway toward the same goal.

The strings of photos of shows you showed last week are a good idea, even though i didn't think much of the art.

I hope you will get the Olitski show up sometime soon.



March 4, 2005, 9:38 PM

Warning: Just a friendly info for fun weekend. Nothing to do with "Art " defined by some artblog regulars.

If you have a teen or think you are a teen:

At MoCA in North Miami
Saturday, March 5 | 1:00 – 4:00 pm

Teen Day: FUNKADELIC – An Exploration of Hip Hop and Asian Culture

Teens and their families are invited to enjoy tours of MOCA’s exhibitions, live maritial arts demonstrations, dance and music performances, on-going art activities inspired by artists Louise Bourgeois and Ellen Gallagher, and workshops exploring Japanese Anime, experimental collage, and the Hip Hop influence in art. This is an all-day FREE event. Advance registration for workshops recommended.

If you have children ages 6 – 12 or think you are in that category:

Also at MoCA in North Miami
Saturday, March 5 | 2:00 pm

Creative Arts: Paint Landscapes Like Georgia O’Keeffe

Children ages 6 – 12 enjoy gallery tours and age appropriate hands-on art activities such as drawing, painting, and sculpture. $10 per class for members and North Miami Residents (series of four is $ 28) and $12 for non- members (series of four is $32).



March 4, 2005, 9:56 PM

Thanks, Momoko, for reminding me why I shouldn't have gotten a MOCA membership. I'm not a kid or a teen, just somebody who wants seriously good art, so I guess I'm out of luck.



March 4, 2005, 10:42 PM

Come on, Jack. Are you suggesting that
all museums should drop programs for
kids & teens - because they are beneath
serious art lovers such as yourself?

If you don't like the show at MOCA, fine...

If you don't like kids & teens, fine too.

But your statement just makes you
sound like a selfish prig.



March 4, 2005, 11:20 PM

FRC, if you don't like the way I sound, fine. It doesn't concern me. My comment was not really about kids or teens, and if you'd simply disagreed with me, as opposed to insulting me, I could have elaborated on my position. However, I don't feel like dignifying your attack with an explanation or justification, neither of which I owe you.



March 4, 2005, 11:33 PM

Why aren't you reviewing shows yourself, Franklin? There are plenty of other shows out to review. The roundup can be, "reviews of others and Franklin".

I personally like the roundup. It keeps me from having to look for texts myself. And I do like what others offer about the texts.



March 4, 2005, 11:50 PM

Seriously good art? You are in a wrong city, wrong state, and possibly wrong country.



March 5, 2005, 12:13 AM

Actually, I am a little disappointed. There ARE really great shows out there to review other than MOCA. MOCA is great but Louise and Ellen don't need anymore press than they already have. Of course someone has to write about the museum show but everyone in Miami?

I believe the press needs to dig a little bit harder. They need to take more chances and expose more people.

I will give examples for those that need it.

Ambrosino has Francie Bishop Good, at Rocket-Christina Lei Rodriguez, Frances' show at Leonard Tachmes. AA Rucci...soooo many others that deserve exposure.



March 5, 2005, 12:21 AM

Let me add that the Art & Culture center has an opening tonight. Miro books. It looks good.

www, you'll notice that I have been reviewing shows lately. I'll reconsider the roundup again in a few weeks. Maybe the allegedly expanding arts coverage at the Herald will justify it.



March 5, 2005, 7:52 AM

The roundup could include noteworthy items culled from places such as ArtsJournal or other media sources (obviously not just local). That would save people from having to read or wade through all those stories, as you (Franklin) and possibly suitable informants would do the dirty work, so to speak, and extract the choice bits.



March 5, 2005, 9:46 PM

Franklin, I'd love to hear your thoughts about what you go out and see, especially if it isn't widely reported elsewhere. I'm in Chicago and like to read about what's happening elsewhere, since the grass always seems greener there. In the case of Florida, literally so (grin).



March 6, 2005, 3:05 AM

Went to MOCA today. I deliberately avoided reading any of the relative plethora of reviews from our paint-by-numbers local media. The MOCA literature and wall text, which I eventually did read, advised reverence for la grande Bourgeois, but I was not exactly moved to genuflect.

Both shows, LB and Ellen Gallagher, evoked a similar response despite their obvious differences. I was interested and engaged by the technical aspects, the craft element, the use of various materials, but the works amounted to less than the sum of their parts. There is cleverness, ingenuity and a certain finesse, but the end result is curiously bland. The work clearly wants to signify, but what registers is the effort to do so, not the achievement of that goal.

Bourgeois now has sacred cow status. She's been around a long time, and her mere age inspires respect. She's more or less the current Louise Nevelson, minus the heavy-handed diva persona, which might be too cheesy or insufficiently "serious" these days, especially for a female artist.

This show consists of graphic work, which I found largely negligible, and 20 or so 3-D pieces, mostly recent, which are the real show. These include busts, torsos and figures, all stuffed and covered with sewn-together fabric, mostly enclosed in vitrines or cages. There are also more abstract totemic stacks of fabric-covered cushions, cubes, or vertebra-like units. An installation of female garments hanging from animal bones as coat-hangers was also part of the mix, to no great effect. The use of vitrines recalls the work of Hirst--not a happy reminder, though Bourgeois is a better artist. The figurative pieces are initially striking in their deceptively crude weirdness, but the effect soon fades. Once the "how did she make that?" is processed, and due credit is given for savvy presentation, one's left with stuffed objects that are both provocative and banal--and the latter eventually wins out.

I still haven't read the local reviews, which are no doubt far more in tune with the official party line. When I get around to them, I may comment further.



March 6, 2005, 3:50 AM

Thanks for the first-hand report, Jack.

I found her work flaccid, inert and often just plain silly when i first saw it in tthe late 50s, and from what I have seen lately she has only gotten worse. Sacred Cow, indeed.



March 6, 2005, 5:29 AM

Today in MOCA I volunteered outside under the sun for three hours helping artists making better art than the ones inside the building.

Please view the five pictures I took.

Art Better than the Show in the Building of MOCA



March 6, 2005, 6:26 AM

If I have to see something, I want to see something that makes me feel happy.

I don’t have any problem with sexual content displayed, but those toasted-bread-like objects shaped like humans fucking each other or something does not make me happy. Contrary, Art Better than the Show in the Building makes me feel happy. Why things have to be so grotesque in these days? Well, if it has to be grotesque, it should at least be beautiful, but it also fails in beauty criteria.

MOCA seems to function as a culture center but not as an art museum. They should change the name to "community culture center" or something until they can have a good show.

Although I don't like the show, I think the events they offer for general public is great. I had so much fun helping kids play with paints and brushes.

After helping the artists in MOCA, I saw the work of Frances Trombly: It Makes Me Happy. I thought the Art Better than the Show in MOCA makes me happier than that show does. I don't know why.



March 6, 2005, 7:38 AM

They could use a little judicious cropping. Momoko, but you have a point.



March 6, 2005, 8:46 AM

I read the four (count 'em, 4) reviews of the two shows now at MoCA. Perhaps as a reaction to the profuse bowing, bouquet-throwing and PC appreciativeness, I now feel my earlier comment was too favorable. The more I think about the work in question, the more overblown the official reviews sound. Bonnie Clearwater, however, should be very pleased. It must be nice to know she's so eminently safe from the local "critics." If she were to do a show of Julian Schnabel's junior high school drawings (assuming he did any), she'd probably get a similar response.

Elisa Turner may be a lovely person, and I'm glad she's recovered from her accident, but she continues, in effect if not intent, to be little more than a good museum publicist. In other words, her pieces are largely redundant. The New Times people are duly reverent of Madame Bourgeois and most taken with and respectful of Ms. Gallagher. It's as if (not just in this instance, but in general) critics around here are competing to see who can be the most positive, non-judgmental, and of course, "open-minded"--not to mention SAFE. Thanks, but I'll do my own reviews.



March 6, 2005, 8:52 AM

go ahead Jack, we'll read them



March 6, 2005, 3:33 PM

In fact, we are. Nice work, Jack.



March 6, 2005, 5:01 PM

And I will second that, for sure



March 6, 2005, 6:44 PM

Momoko, your photos are indeed happy. Thanks for posting them. I should have spent more time looking at what your kids were doing.

In comparison, the stuff now inside MOCA seems laborious, overladen with "meaning" if not overwrought, and ultimately unsatisfying as art. I've said it before, but issues and messages, however valid or relevant, don't do it for me unless the work succeeds on its own as purely visual art. Otherwise, I don't want to go to a gallery or museum to SEE it--just write me an essay.



March 6, 2005, 6:47 PM

You wouldn't want to read the essay, Jack



March 6, 2005, 7:16 PM

But on that note, one thing we are provided with here, for what it's worth, is a type-specimen set of overladen, obsequious, unreflective, cliche-ridden essays that manage to make the art sound even more dull, dreary and pretentious than it is.

If this dreadful prose is testimony to why Bourgeois is a star "affixed in the firmament" while Gallagher's star is "ascendant" something is very wrong in the universe of art.

Back in the old days of Abstract expressionism the reigning clunker was "My kid could do that".

Now, as Momoko shows us, it is "my kid can do better". And now, unfortunately, it's true.



March 6, 2005, 7:40 PM

Momoko-san, you should have go to see Smoke Gallery. They have little room in back with bunch of painting and drawing that probably make you happy.
I was happy to see them at least.



March 7, 2005, 2:56 AM

Harumi-san, arigatou. I will check out Smoke Gallery. I have never been there before.



March 7, 2005, 3:33 AM

Mr. Corbo's attitude seems refreshing, Momoko.

Let us know what you see.



March 7, 2005, 4:03 AM

My opinion had changed while I was sleeping. I woke up and thought Louise Bourgeois IS a good artist. I did say I didn’t like the show, and I still don’t like the show, but Louise Bourgeois achieved something most people cannot achieve. Her work does not fit into a visual art, and if I have to force it into a category, psychology may be the best fit.

Her work describes something words cannot describe. I will try to describe my interpretation here.

She uncovered what’s underneath narcissism which is commonly seen in established artists and writers. Narcissism, a form of defense mechanism and also can be considered as a driving force for creative activities. A problem with being driven by narcissism is that one is never in control of one’s self.

Okay, I did find in which book Kierkegaard used the onion analogy of self. It is written in Either/Or (1843). I was talking about that a few days ago regarding Josefina Posch at Liquid Blue. Anyway, according to the book, the self is more like an onion, which has no heart. Why, then, do we have to coat the self that is nothing but protective coats by itself? Let me quote what Kierkegaard wrote with a slight modification in order to fit into this situation.

"A narcissist (deceives himself/herself into believing that s/he was protecting and nurturing a self… In fact, this self was nothing but a series of grotesque, inverted images in a broken mirror held up to social reality. "

Without grasping the nature of the grotesque, inverted image in a broken mirror, a narcissist continues to coat the self in vain, although it appears life goes on just fine, in a deep level it is not fine because s/he lives without self and fail to realize the lack of self.

Louise Bourgeois’ work displayed in MOCA now - unfilled affection that perpetually lingers is a core issue of all of us. We just fail to notice it. We instinctively avoid it. We pretend that it does not exist. That is why the work is all sad, stinky, grotesque, dry, boring, and ugly. I find her work extremely intelligent, logically sound, and psychologically advanced. If we find her work disgusting or repelling, the work is a great success because that's how it should be.



March 7, 2005, 4:17 AM

JACK - thanks for taking your time to give us
a truly thoughtful review of the show at MOCA.

I really do appreciate it. (As I am sure many others do...)



March 7, 2005, 4:52 AM

Thanks for the Kierkegaard reference. I knew he used the onion idea as layers peeling off to nothing but didn't know where to find it.

I think if you start peeling Bourgeois you will end up with the same thing.



March 7, 2005, 5:12 AM

I think what Jack has been talking (complaining) about is art not being visual. Instead, shows convey messages and drive Jack crazy.

The message I got from Frances Trombly: It Makes Me Happy was:

Americans live to consume.
Americans consume to live.
Can't we just live?



March 7, 2005, 5:52 AM

If you can put it in 3 lines, why bother with the show?


kenneth cohen

March 7, 2005, 6:25 AM

Words can pretty much say alot of stuff. There is nothing wrong with elaborating on something you can say in words using a visual media.



March 7, 2005, 7:12 AM

Oldpro (#23), I might not want to read the essays, but at least then I wouldn't have been lured to an art venue under dubious pretenses.

FRC (#29), you're welcome. Glad it was of some use.

Momoko (#28), Bourgeois is obviously a smart woman, and I expect she's done the most she could have with her allotment of talent (which is always an admirable feat, and doesn't necessarily happen with more gifted artists). She's also mined the right vein at the right time--she's been lucky as well as savvy. I'm not arguing with your perception of her work; my problem is that I don't want rather obvious and predictable illustrations to a psychology textbook--I want visual ART; I demand it before anything else, though it certainly can and should be enriched by other elements. But if it isn't there, or what there is of it is weak or shaky, I cannot be satisfied. All the concept and mental masturbation in the world is not enough for me; my eyes will not be denied or cheated.

I don't find LB's work disgusting or repelling. I expect she's too clever, too French and too rooted in a certain time and culture to be truly gross or tasteless. I find her work interesting because she IS clever, but it's a case of diminishing returns. The initial engagement or frisson gives way to the realization that these are ultimately banal images--in this case stuffed rag dolls or cloth-covered objects that go as far as they can, but don't go far enough because their potential is inherently limited.

As for #31, it's not that messages drive me crazy, but that work which is first and foremost message-issue and doesn't succeed visually simply doesn't interest me as art. If you tell me you're an artist, you'd better convince and win over my eyes; then we'll deal with what you meant.



March 7, 2005, 9:08 AM

There's nothing wrong with it, Kenneth, but it does not amount to art.



March 7, 2005, 5:59 PM

Misunderstandings take place when you use only three sentences to communicate something.

Maybe you need to put a little more thought into Frances Trombly's exhibition. It is really intelligent and touching work.

My personal response to It Makes Me Happy-It reminded me of those objects and the relationship I had with them as a child. It reminded me of what made me happy then and how things have changed now as an adult. It reminded me of how many times I have used a gift bow and where that bow is now. It also recalled a handkerchief that my father has in his office drawer with his great grandfathers initials embroidered on it.

With art it is important to connect and she does that in more than just three lines.

Maybe, you need to go back again.



March 7, 2005, 6:06 PM

Daniel, have a look at my post on blankism. I'm not saying your thoughts are invalid, but they seem to reinforce a blankist interpretation of Trombly's work.



March 7, 2005, 6:08 PM

I guess visual art is not in the current trend. I see message art, psychology art, intense-stupidity art, political art, and optical-llusion art. Visual art probably is in history.



March 7, 2005, 7:16 PM

Visual art is not "history", Momoko. The work is still visual, but the vulgar mentality wants to connect it to verbal comprehension or to personal sentiment, and the artist themselves too often cater to this wish.

Art is too popular, too expensive and there is too much of it. it would be more fun and more interesting it was left to people who really connected.



March 7, 2005, 7:16 PM

Your idea of blankism is CONTEMPORARY ART.



March 7, 2005, 7:26 PM

Each viewer receive her/his message, and that 's what the show is worth for. None of us can go over what we are capable of seeing or thinking. We all only reflect what we have in us, and the messages we receive from a show or anything is a projected self imposed from each of us. The show like that can propose an open-ended question for which there are an infinity number of answers that may even change after coming back from bathroom. It may well possible that a good show can give us a different message each time we see it, and no message is a wrong message. That given freedom itself is also a part of the show.



March 7, 2005, 7:31 PM

Visual art? Or visible art.



March 7, 2005, 7:53 PM

Momoko, if you want messages, use email.



March 7, 2005, 8:06 PM

Daniel, that's an inane comment. If Trombly's art calls up rich personal associations for you, so be it, but much contemporary art is strong enough to hold its own without relying on viewers to do all its work for it. I suspect Trombly's is as well but your comments don't sound encouraging in that regard.


pot3ter hdz

March 7, 2005, 9:20 PM

Franklin> if work brings up associations for daniel that he cares to share,i don't see how you can hold that agaist the art.

you can throw around these "blankism" accusations all you want. they seem to be anti-conversation. it's curious

to follow that type or reasoning to it's natural conclusion is to say that any praise of artwork weakens that artwork.

i actually don't say this to mean you're wrong. i say it because it's a curious position for an art writer to take (and one you've taken before:

whazzup, yo?



March 7, 2005, 10:35 PM

Potato, you are really a champion when it comes to logical leaps.

Franklin is not holding what Daniel said against the art, he is only saying that strong work does not need that kind of help.

Then you argue that it follows from what Franklin said (and you misunderstood) that any praise weakens an artwork.

Aarghh! Make connections, man!



March 7, 2005, 11:11 PM

daniel's relationship with the art is 50% daniel and 50% the art work presented to him.

The work is strong when it evokes those connections in him.



March 7, 2005, 11:17 PM

Potato - Do I need to say that your "natural" conclusion isn't terribly natural? Apparently.

Daniel can have one pleasant association after another regarding the Tromblys but it tells us far more about Daniel than the work. The natural conclusion is that if Daniel's associations are all the work has going for it, it's blankist, and its maker has abdicated responsibility for making it cohere. Of course, Daniel alone doesn't decide that. Whether the artist needs responses like Daniel's in order to function in its little way - that's the question.



March 7, 2005, 11:33 PM

One of the primary problems with current art is the widespread assumption that evoking associations is sufficient for the work to be "valid".

Unfortunately, anything can evoke associations. If what is presented as art evokes associations that's fine, but the evoking is not what makes it art, or what makes it valuable as art, so its "validity", or whatever you choose to call it, cannot rest on that premise.

This is basic esthetics and has been hashed over for hundreds of years but clearly it must be rehashed continuously for the sake of those who don't know it or are unreflective enough not to think it through.



March 8, 2005, 12:30 AM

They're sort of fun, but they're astonishingly light and nonfunctional for someone who is revered as a central figure of modern art.

how is it that this tells us more about Rauschenberg then Franklin, then? Where is the big difference?

oldpro~ there is a bit of logic to be applied here.

'associations' may or may not be a necessary condition of good work. they are not sufficient, and nobody has claimed they are. what i am saying, and what most people hold as obvious (?) is that on the scale of good art (?), they fall on the positive side. basic esthetics has been wrong for hundreds of years. if you want to rest your head on that (pillow, then be my guest.



March 8, 2005, 12:40 AM

Are you confusing "basic esthetics" with "public opinion", Potato?

And "on the scale of good art (?), they fall on the positive side"? What?

Really, discussing anything with you is like wrestling with the proverbial greased pig.



March 8, 2005, 12:59 AM

PUBLIC OPINION?? you mean as opposed to your own exhalted opinion? talk about a greased pig, boy. ENCORE! naw, seriously, though, i was talking about the "public opinion
ofpeople who understand art.

One of the primary problems with current art is the widespread assumption that evoking associations is sufficient for the work to be "valid".

Unfortunately, anything can evoke associations. If what is presented as art evokes associations that's fine, but the evoking is not what makes it art, or what makes it valuable as art, so its "validity", or whatever you choose to call it, cannot rest on that premise.

it may be a widespread assumption among your students, but nobody here has claimed that, EVER. it's sort of what you might call a strawman, which originally franklin made forhimself to knock down. but it's really gotten a pummeling lately.

everytime someone praises a piece of WOrk and describes what it means to them we have you and Franklin jumping all over the artwork. that "associations" (apretty odd thing to call it, actually) are not part of the prodcess of determining meaning and quality of a piece of work is baffling.

Sorry to think about art; i think this weird understanding of "visual art" is peculiar to those who were at a very impressionable age in the era of abstract expressionism. most artists (and art enthusiasts who came later have no problem with this.

oh yeah: "new ways of making art require new ways of seeing"; a travesty, right? there's nothing you agree with less , right???



March 8, 2005, 1:24 AM

Potato, close your goddamn tags.



March 8, 2005, 2:46 AM

Re #50: the difference is that I'm exercising my taste while he's exercising his ability to free-associate.

Re #52 and it's sort of what you might call a strawman... It's sort of what you might call the sad truth. I'm going to continue to go after this because I think that by itself it's a superficial and possibly bogus response to art.

Speaking of bogus, what does new ways of making art require new ways of seeing mean, exactly? Do new ways of making food require new ways of eating? Should you put in into your ear, or something?

People with good taste in art have a liberal enough palette to sample and sometimes enjoy new flavors. But that doesn't mean that every little sad attempt at art-making in the world has a new way of seeing floating around somewhere that will redeem it. The above idea is one of those notions that is only as good as its application.



March 8, 2005, 4:48 AM



I paraphrased Nat Hentoff, who said, in regard to Albert Ayler's music, "New ways of music require new ways of seeing."

In recent memory, this would have been true of the impressionists, the cubists, and the AbExers. But it is even an order of magnitude more true of conceptual artists, because for their work the work "seeing," never literal, grew a whole new layer of metaphor.

Take my writing, which causes some people great trouble, because they beat their heads agains the sturdy front door. when it's so easy to slip in through the side door, which is kind of a salloon style swinging affair.

it's tough to reply directly to your comment without reading my own previous comment, and i'm sure as heck not doing that.

On second thought, i see that you gave my comments an hour and a half of thought, and maybe I should . . . sigh.

show me where someone said "evoking associations is sufficient for the work to be 'valid'," which was the strawman I was refering to.

ok then.

I'm going to continue to go after this because I think that by itself it's a superficial and possibly bogus response to art.

BY ITSELF is exactly what I said I wasn't talking about!!

OK I have an idea - i'll make you a deal - i'll be more careful (MUCH MUCH more careful) about the tag thing (which wasn't on purpose you're dealing witha pretty fried) if you tell me how to do those super-cool in-line Mokomo-style hyperlinks. pleeeze?? i'd settle for a link to a page that tells me (though it'd have to be a pretty straightforward page - 'im drunK! (hey i'm no PHP guru but how hard is it to add a line to your kick-ass comment subrutune to strip out unclosed tags (or better yet close them)?)).

ok i'm ready, speaking of Mokomo, to deal with #28, which, one of the best pieces of prose the grace the comment section of this blog, has been characteristically ignoreD.

let's postulate that art is good for the person who makes it, and for the person who looks at it, in different ways (and for different reason.

let's define our terms. Psychology IS a search for CAUSE and EFFECT as pertains to neural networks. Art IS the desire to shed LIGHT on the human CONDITION (See "Curb Your Enthusiasm") by examining that which is FAMILLIAR.)

That's the difficult part, because, immediately, it's clear how little substantial difference there is between the practices. Your only mistake, Mokomo (it's one that O/P makes, too), is to assume that things in our times are significantly different from how it was back in the day (before we were born)

In fact, this self was nothing but a series of grotesque, inverted images in a broken mirror held up to social reality.

Without grasping the nature of the grotesque, inverted image in a broken mirror, a narcissist continues to coat the self in vain, although it appears life goes on. . .

Franklin and I could go to the Goldman warehouse together, look at the same picture, go for sake, and talk about it, and it might be like we saw two different picutres, bcause perception is so elusive. on the other hand, common elements abound. Let’s say i'm looking at a picture of a Kabuki performer. All cultures have some form of performing arts. So when looking at the picture and the stage, a message of theaters or performances is not inconceivable.

Bourgeois’ work has a lot going for it, but it has just SO MUCH going against it, not the least of which is garden-variety, old-school chauvenism. Here we go again with the doll-art. Ironically, this is the work that requires exactly the non-intelectual approach Franklin calls for. The problem is that the work does not FORCE that approach on the viewer. Does ANYONE see the irony?



March 8, 2005, 5:13 AM

Are you a fried potato, Potato?



March 8, 2005, 5:45 AM

Baked Potato. My name is Momoko, not Mokomo.



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