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ralph provisero kicks butt in chicago

Post #562 • June 21, 2005, 9:17 AM • 37 Comments

Peter Schjeldahl curated work by Ralph Provisero into Navy Pier Walk 2005 and the Chicago Tribune called it "one of our favorites." Yep.




June 21, 2005, 5:04 PM

Good for Provisero. He's pretty good, not thrilling just yet, but good. I like the figurative implications and the fragility evoked by setting the planes on their corners and letting some of the connecting bars bend a bit. He used materials nicely, too.

Curious why Schjeldahl would pick him. Schjeldahl's always seems to tend to the frivolous, from what I've seen in the past, and this stuff is dead serious.



June 21, 2005, 5:27 PM

Ralph is one of our best sculptors! Good news!



June 21, 2005, 10:08 PM

What is with these newspaper people and their registration fixation? Don't they realize that even if people register, they will almost certainly enter completely fabricated information? Do they just want data for data's sake, even if it's false data? Again, what the hell is their problem?



June 22, 2005, 12:20 AM

Jack: solution:



June 22, 2005, 2:58 AM

Thanks, George, but that still doesn't explain why newspapers would annoy potential readers only to get fictional data in return. It's stupid.



June 22, 2005, 3:16 AM

George, isn't that the same as signing in all over again?



June 22, 2005, 3:20 AM

Jack, only to get fictional data in return

True but it's a game. Well, not a game, but a variant on Darwins survival of the fittest. Following the money, once the first site made people register, they had a number they could use to boost their readership stats, and therefor their ad rates and revenue. Everyone else had to follow along and participate in the big lie, or lose potential revenue. It is, as you point out, pointless.

Or, not.



June 22, 2005, 3:22 AM

Op, No, you still have to go through the login maze but you can just use the bugmenot user name and password. You don't reveal any information and it's faster.



June 22, 2005, 4:57 AM

Online newspaper registrations are not fiction. I'm sure it's tied to advertising revenue. In that sense, they don't care if it's fake because they can still justify their stats to some extent. Probably, to the fullest extent possible. Ya know? :-)



June 22, 2005, 5:57 AM

Uh, back to the subject. Ralph's sculptures are incredibly exciting to me because they have a light and delicate feel(look) , yet they weigh a ton (I know). They kind of look like a sci-fi insect that can crush you with out remorse. This kind of contrast I find appealing in a work of art. I learned this lesson while watching the movie-"The Graduate" these crazy situations are happening to a beutiful and soft Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack.. Thats contrast!!



June 22, 2005, 3:06 PM

I took a look at the JPEGs on the artist's web site. Unfortunately, Ralph Provisero appears to be stuck at the point Modernism got caught in during the 60s. You can say Provisero work fell into the black hole, you can say his art is treading water, but it is "not thrilling" as the OldPro observes.

If getting some favorable publicity in Chicago is "kicking butt" then failing to get favorable publicity in Miami while competing Miami artists do get it must be "getting one's butt kicked". Someone once said "I don't believe them when they say I'm bad so I don't believe them when they say I'm good". That seems more consistent with the general attitude most commenters here express about the art press.

Modernism is the last heroic movement to take place in Western art. I don't believe many things, but I am convinced that is true. I wish Modernism were still viable but that is of course not possible. Better yet, I wish that something else equally heroic would take its place. Instead it has become a parade of one anti-hero after another, each touting its deficiencies as if they were assets while presenting interesting art that cannot ever rise beyond the interesting.

Guess we will just have to settle for being interested, on occasion.



June 22, 2005, 4:03 PM

Flatboy, you are walking around with some kind of self-generated tour guide casette, like they have in museums. "this is Modernist, therefore..."

Get rid of the labels. It's no way to see art.



June 22, 2005, 5:08 PM

flatboy, if you look at the biblio on Provisero's site, you'll see that most of his (good) press has come from Miami publications, among others. And I'm with oldpro here -- shed the labels.



June 22, 2005, 5:24 PM

Taking it a little further. Flatboy, you may be surprised to see ("mark my words", as the saying goes) that when the current infatuation with deteriorated art styles is exhausted and "comes the revolution", as it did in Manet's time, we may very well see the better artists picking up where Modernism, particularly Abstract Expressionism, left off when it got stomped by Pop culture. There are a few artists, like Jules Olitski, who have persistently infused Modernist forms with inspired invention. The thread is hidden but real and alive. Wait and see.



June 22, 2005, 6:16 PM

3Dgirl and OldPro:

"...shed the labels" and try to do art history. Evidently, it cannot be done. Art history is the headwater from which all labels flow. You know, "Baroque", "Pre Columbian", "tribal", "Renaissance", "Pre Raphaelite", and so on.

However, "Modernism" has apparently been "shed" by those who are developing labels for the current period. I didn't ask for that (I had nothing to do with what happened in 1960), I simply observe that this term has been abandoned as relevant to the past 50 years of art. Make that 45 years.

In looking at Provisero's work, I, like the OldPro, saw it as "not thrilling". Then and only then I recognized it as stuck in Modernism. There was no cassette, just my own eye, and I'm surprised the OldPro would postulate something so specific about my experience of this guy's work. How do you know so much about how I see, OldPro? Besides, it appears we both saw the work the same way.

As far as "mark my words" I would love to see anything heroic make its way into the limelight, ANYTHING, even Modernism. Olitski is very good, but "inspired invention" needs qualification, though I'll leave that up to OldPro who says he has seen a lot of it. For my part I'll say that invention, inspired or otherwise, isn't the crux of heroic art. If it were, Duchamp would be rated ahead of everybody else. As it is, D. produced just a few memorable pieces (Fountain being one but I can't think of any others at this moment). He was more an inventor than an artist.

This quibbling aside, I would like somebody to pick up something and run to the heights with it. Provisero has not done that. I'm for heroic art, not invention.

Back to the press issue, 3Dgirl, it is a double edged sword that doesn't care what it cuts, as long as it cuts something. It seems mealy mouthed to howl against the press when it touts an artist one does not like, saying it has no credibility, then praise its insight when it likes someone we like. If the art press is blind, then it is blind when it looks at good work as well as when it looks at bad. I don't give it much credit either way.



June 22, 2005, 6:28 PM

Please, not Duchamp again, Flatboy. He was just a hack who hit on something that justified a lot of crappy work later on.

I was not asking you to "do art history". I was indicating that you were limiting yourself in the process of seeing art. I only know "how you see" from what you said. It was pretty obvious from that that you saw Modernism and the "dead" bell went off. If there is someother process going on let me know.

Labels change when better art begins to sink in. As you say they are for art history. They do not and should not have anything to do with seeing. If you look at art and "modernism" jumps up at you then you probably should look again.



June 22, 2005, 6:43 PM

Duchamp, hack or otherwise, was inventive. Too much so, in the end, according to me. But it was OldPro who brought up inventiveness, and if you want to praise inventiveness, D. is a rock around which you must sail. And I think you did sail, OldPro, when you admitted he "hit on something". So, good enough.

Once labels are part of consciousness, they are part of consciouness. A true primitive (one innocent of any knowledge of civilization) would not ever think of them before, during, or after looking, but for the educated, labels can and do pop up. I don't praise anyone for that, but I don't see how anyone who knows them can purge them totally. Nor would that be desireable. Primitives don't get the kick in their work that comes from knowing tradition. Labels are probably a good thing, in moderation. They provide context, if nothing else.

But I grant that the best seeing is done with labels far in the background.



June 22, 2005, 7:02 PM

I did not bring up "invention", I brought up "inspired inventiveness". Duchamp's moves were inspired by little else but roguish anti-estheticism.

At the risk of seeming arch, one must become "primitive" when looking at art. When you look it's one thing, when you think about it, it is another. Tradition is always there in the background. It "trains" the eye, but it is not part of the act.



June 22, 2005, 7:33 PM

OldPro, what's the difference between "inventiveness" and "invention"?

For me the former is the process and the latter the result. Like most cause and effect pairs, together they constitute roughly the same thing and one implies the other.

"Inspired" is a different question. But you obviously admit that D's inventiveness was inspired though by something you don't respect. I will take your remark a little further and say that when D's anti-estheticism took him too far "beyond" art, well, he quit making art. But along the way, he did things that are lasting. What major musem in the world would not be happy to own a copy of the Fountain? It has "sunk in", as you so aptly described the process of recognition.

With respect to your discussion on looking, I agree with your last three sentences. To the extent they qualify "primitive", the first one is OK too.



June 22, 2005, 8:00 PM

It's the context, Flatboy. It's the old "out of context" problem. Obviously the "relationship" is there; it is the same word.

It really is necessary to separate the experience of art from all the history and related effects of art, just as you seperate the experience of a hamburger from the history of food. Of course any museum would be happy to have a copy of "fountain". That has nothing to do with its value as art per se. If you don't make these distinctions you are just being told what to like, like most everyone ele in the art business, and you fail to recognize and understand the permutations the idea of value in art has experienced in modern times.



June 22, 2005, 8:09 PM

OldPro, are you saying D's Fountain has not "sunk in"? Isn't 100 years enough? Or is the jury still out on Picasso too?

Good grief, as you sometimes put it.



June 22, 2005, 8:09 PM


man do you have to look over this guy once again

let me rephrase that -look into him

he was not anti-esthetics-(only for a brief interlude in the dada)-and it was esthetically pleasing(in context)

other works

nude descending

large glass

air of paris

boite en valise!

to simply say, not duchamp again, well it really reflects on criteria, and while your personal taste might not crave duchamp, you must look at the work, if only for the sake of the massive others who do.



June 22, 2005, 8:20 PM

Jake: "not Duchamp again" seems more a manner of speaking, of OldPro registering his displeasure over what was said, than a "reflection of criteria". Of course it is all "personal" taste. I would say simply "taste", knowing that some taste is better than others. None of us, OldPro included, are required to look at work just because "massive others" do. Clearly, looking at some things will profit an ambitious artist more than others, but that is a different question.

Thanks for the list of D's work. Nude was an OK painting, but not as good as Fountain was a sculpture. Large Glass does not offer much to look at, so maybe that why so much is made of it. I'll look up the other two.

Meantime, Fountain has made a place for itself. So have the others on your list, as far as that goes.



June 22, 2005, 8:27 PM

Of course it has "sunk in", Flatboy. That doesn't make it good art.

Thanks for answering Jake; I don't want to get into the "is taste personal" thing right now.

As I said on the other page I have to go off right now & wil answer later.



June 22, 2005, 8:28 PM

PS yes the jury is out on everything until you look at it. You are the jury.



June 22, 2005, 8:51 PM

OldPro: the jury is out until I look, but only as far as I am concerned. While I am seldom "wrong" in my judgements, it does happen from time to time. So my taste is good to excellent. I know what I see, and that is how I know when to correct a bad judgement.

What I am saying here is that taste is about "extra mental reality". There really is something "out there" that does not depend upon the impressions of subjects, such as myself. There is good taste and bad taste. Good taste gets it right in the end because if something is Great, it is Great on its own, even if few or none recognize it. Of course, in such a case, it may be forgotten. But why not? Great art can be forgotten if it never was recognized in the first place.



June 22, 2005, 9:06 PM

OldPro said (#24): "Of course it has 'sunk in', Flatboy. That doesn't make it good art."

OldPro said (#16): "Labels change when better art begins to sink in."

Does this mean that "sinking in" is not a significant marker of when "better art" comes to the top? That is, bad art "sinks in" just as easily as good art? I don't think so, but I'd be interested in an expanded statement from you, OldPro, when you get back from your trip.



June 23, 2005, 12:24 AM

To put it cridely, flatboy, the art business is sort of like an election. When you like a painting you vote. "Only as far as I am concerned" is all that counts. Art is there for that picture-to-person experience. When enough people vote over enough time we have what is called a "consensus". The consensus "works" pretty well for me because I find that my experience confirms it.

But it is still pretty rough., You mention Picasso, for example. There are Picassos that completely zap me, like Gertrude Stein and those fat nudes of 1905/6 and almost anything Cubist. There are Picassos that don't quite make it, like the Blue Period and Demoisselles (perhaps the first purely "important" painting) and Guernica. And there are Picassos that are Godawful, like "Night Fishing at Antibes" and much of the late work of the sort you find for $30 million at Art Basel If the consensus is represented by the market, I have to say that I have a few bones to pick with it. But when it says anything Picasso did is probably worth looking at, if only once, i am in complete agreement.

When you say there is something "out there" that is good or bad and does not depend on your take and that of others, I go along with that also, with minor qualifications. But be careful, because saying this out loud can unleash a fury on the blog. We went through it about a year ago. it was interesting, but I don't have the stomach to do it again. And good for you for affirming your own taste.

Yes, "sinking in" is a marker, but it is not infallible, and it gets more infallible the closer we get in time. Once again it is not something I want to spend days on the blog arguing about and explaining, but it has to do with the change in the way value judgements are made in the art business, and this in turn has to do with the change in the size and consequent level of conoisseurship in the art business, the :dumbing down" if you will. We have come to a point where art objects can sustain their value for long periods of time as cultural aritifacts rather than as good art, like the "natural history" or "relic" collecting of the Middle Ages. "Fountain" may be the achetypical example.

Yes, good art can be forgotten. But, of course, how do we know? It certainly can happen on a pop culture level. For example, there are dozens of records in my very large collection of 60s & 70s R&B & Soul music that are pure genius, but except for a few fanatics they are completely unknown today, and probably will continue that way.



June 23, 2005, 1:40 AM

Second to last paragraph above of course I meant "more fallible" not "more infallible"



June 23, 2005, 2:26 AM

I assumed that.



June 23, 2005, 2:58 AM

"There are Picassos that don't quite make it, like the Blue Period and Demoisselles (perhaps the first purely "important" painting)"

Interesting observation. The first time I saw Demoisselles I got angry that it had recieved such adoration. A journeyman picture, but that is it. The Blue Period at least jerks a few heart-strings.



June 23, 2005, 6:33 AM

I would say good for you for having that reaction. Right or wrong it shows that you were looking and judging, and in this case i agree with you.

I'm not sure i would call it a "journeyman" picture. A journeyman picure would be something carefully tailored for the trade. Demoiselles was calculated to "shock", to use that word once again, and to upstage Derain and Matisse who had recently done large "masterpiece" figure studies. Picasso could abandon his natural abilities when sufficiently motivated. Guernica is another example of this. And I think the Blue Period pix are too. Later he was pushed in the opposite direction by Braque's understanding of Cezanne, and they made Cubism together. Interesting stuff.



June 23, 2005, 4:18 PM

The first time I saw Demoiselles I got angry that it had received such adoration. A journeyman picture, but that is it.

Funny, that's sort of how I feel about dear Marcel's urinal, only my feelings there are rather less kind.



June 23, 2005, 4:29 PM

So Jack, you accept that Fountain is journeyman's work? That would be a surprise, pleasant one, I might add.



June 23, 2005, 4:34 PM

Yeah, I bet Jack might wish he'd left off the "journeyman" part.



June 23, 2005, 4:42 PM

Yes, Flatboy, I accept it as journeyman work, in Oldpro's sense of the term: work carefully tailored for the trade--the bathroom fixture trade, that is.



June 23, 2005, 4:55 PM

Guess I should never have doubted your cleverness, Jack. Nice job.



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