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critical miami reviews mac

Post #583 • July 18, 2005, 11:46 AM • 105 Comments

Critical Miami reviews the video show at Miami Art Central and does a credible job of it.

PS: If it's truly lavish and beautiful, the anti-conceptualists won't need winning over, now, will they?




July 18, 2005, 1:02 PM

Sometimes is is useful to categorize and sometimes not. It is tricky in art, because what if you are an "anti-conceptualist", which I would certainly be called, and I like something "conceptual".

In fact, when I reviewed the excessively tedious "Unexpected Selections" at Florida International University a few years back I may not even gave gone into the booth showing the video by Fischl & Weiss had it not been for a friend coming out of who said it was terrific. And indeed it was.

Most "conceptual" art, like most art of any kind, is not much good. That is just inevitable. Although I feel strongly that taking the visual out of visual art is to emasculate it I stil recognize that there is "non-visual" art and "partly visual" art that is interesting. However, it is difficult to get the benefit of the doubt when saying that this or that is a piece of crap, because the knee-jerk response is "you don't get it" or "you are close-minded" or "you just don't like it because you don't like (category X)". We have seen several instances of this on the blog recently.

A painting (most paintings, at least) and the sort of thing being shown at MAC are really completely different species of art, different mediums, different modes of viewing, different intentions, and so forth. If people want to make such things and show them that's fine. But it does not have to be done to the exclusion of or in opposition to making visual visual art on a flat surface, which, after all, does have a pretty long and intense history. I would like to be able to to decalre that I think a piece of conceptual art (or a painting or whatever) is a piece of crap without having my motives questioned, and I would like to talk mostly about painting because that's what I do and that's what intrerests me, without being accused of being "close-minded". (I donlt care if I am close minded, anyway. I just am tired of talking about it).

There is a related "conceptual" or "catagorical" problem which is very vexing: all these forms started growing in the same art-market garden about 40 years ago and are assumed universally to all be the same species, because they are siblings of a sort and occupy the same gallery/museum/collector universe. Therefore there are those who will not tolerate conceptual and non visual because it is either dreary or silly or both and those who will not tolerate painting because it is outdated and unfashionable. This is like family squabbling. It is not necessary. Sooner or later we have to grow up; each type should go its own way and have its own audience and leave the others alone. You do your thing in your place with your audience and I do the same and everyone is happy.

We need tolerance to go with the variety. The art world has become so utterly superficial and conformist and so intolerant of the unfashionable and so worshipful of the accepted and fashionable that I think it is in danger of drying up and dying out, or, at best, turning into a kind of semi-professional, low-budget Hollywood. I don't think this is good for anyone.


that guy

July 18, 2005, 1:24 PM

there might be an essay somewhere in there oldpro. The schism has already occurred. This consolidation period could take a while to coalesce in to more recognizable forms. Artblog brings people with similar persuasions in contact with each other that would otherwise never meet. It cant single handily save art from the hoards of incompetent Museum directors and other influential taste makers but it could hasten its decline, should more people get onboard.


that guy

July 18, 2005, 1:34 PM

of course by hasten I meant retard or slow. opps



July 18, 2005, 7:26 PM

Oldpro, you could tell the video people that what they do belongs in the film-making arena (which has long included so-called art films), or tell the performance people that what they do is another form of theater, or tell Jenny Holzer that what she does is a form of literature, and so on...but you'd be wasting your breath and time. Miserably.

They don't want it that way, partly because they'd never get very far in the fields they really belong, and partly because they want the cachet of art, not to mention the kind of success (material and otherwise) the official art world now offers them. They're not about to relinquish what's being handed to them on a silver platter, deserved or not, for the sake of mere reason, sense or logic.

Besides, how dare you discriminate in any way, shape or form (including having a discriminating taste)? The horror! Don't you know that everything is the same as everything else, at least if it claims to be, and must be treated exactly the same way? Where have you been?



July 18, 2005, 8:28 PM

That's silly, Jack. Jenny Holzer may be very popular in the artistic arena (which she is in, i suspect, primarily because that's what she studied) now. But think about the chance of success she had when she was starting out. Overall, there is a much better chance of success and monetary reward in movies, theater, or even literature then in art. Same goes for cachet.

I'm not overly familiar with her, or other contemporary artists background, but as a rule these people bust their butts for their work, because they believe in it (this includes damien hirst). Whatever you may think of it (not much) your assumptions about their motivations ring pretty false.

Thanks, Franklin. I'd have thought this page would turn up here?



July 18, 2005, 8:36 PM

..."You could tell the video people that what they do belongs in the film-making arena (which has long included so-called art films), or tell the performance people that what they do is another form of theater, or tell Jenny Holzer that what she does is a form of literature, and so on...but you'd be wasting your breath and time. Miserably." So, there's only film, theater and literature --but see-- only because Jack decides and resolves --without proving. Definitely a poor job at convincing.



July 18, 2005, 8:49 PM

I actually wanted to reply at some lenght to Oldpro's interesting comment. But alas no time. But I wanted to mention that the show's brochure makes the connection to film, specifically it's early period, when short, abstract, non-plot-driven films were made much more often, and were shown as film.

Also, Jenny Holzer is not in the show. How did her name come up??

Also of note is Miranda July, a wonderful performance/video/sound/2d/internet artist who has just released a feature film which i hear is absolutly wonderful.



July 18, 2005, 8:58 PM

metisse; what do you mean 'only film, literature and theater?? thats what they ARE!!! bravo Jack ...well said and for all the reasons Jack cited, they chase after what they are not and never will be.
re damien hirst; well puke falling over in convulsions hitting my head really hard jumping up and down and just having a good old fashioned hissy fit.......does that say how much I dont like his 'work'??



July 18, 2005, 8:58 PM

Alesh, my point is that the video art people wouldn't cut it in the film world, and the performance art people wouldn't cut it in the theater, and Jenny Holzer wouldn't cut it as a writer in the literary world. They all know this, so, having been given entry into the Art world, which does have more cachet than those other endeavors (and I'm not referring to money or truly popular fame per se, but to a certain kind of prestige or image among most people), guess what? I neither said nor implied anything about these people's work ethic or what they do or don't believe about their work. I'm talking about practicalities here.



July 18, 2005, 9:01 PM

people who fail to see the bigger picture and nit pick everything in a sentence for lack of a better arguement are very interesting...does one really need anymore examples of something to get the point? there are many artforms and most are quite different than others some are quite similar, one thing that makes sence to me is they should all be appreciated for their own merits-visual or otherwise.
Visual Art is one thing Conceputal art is another sometimes they marry and it is wonderful sometimes it sucks and sometimes one thing has nothing to do with the other...venue and audience are very important, its very disappointing if you go to a gallery or whatever expecting to see something visual and getting an abstract concept illustrated poorly and im sure its the same vice versa.



July 18, 2005, 9:04 PM

Alesh, you write "Overall, there is a much better chance of success and monetary reward in movies, theater, or even literature then in art."

Are you kidding? This is absolutely not true. If we had readers from those fields you would have heard very different opinions, quickly and loudly

And anyone who is successful is likely to work hard; this is simply a necessity. But working hard justifies nothing. Whether Damien Hirst "believes" in anything much is not for us to say. It seems to me that he believes in careerism at the expense of art, but who knows.

Jack has a point, and I am glad he said it. Once the visual is gone from visual art, then it seems perfectly reasonable to ask, Ok, so what's left?

In Holzer's case, is not art, it is not literature, it is not poetry, it is little semi-meaningless sayings on funny surfaces. She writes "It"s interesting" on a black surface, and it goes into a gallery and critics write about it and some fool will go out an pay tens of thousands of dollars for it. This is not profound, is is just stupid, utterly unjustifiable by anything except idiotic, jargonized artmag BS, and we all stand around and ooh and aah like a bunch of jackasses. Are we so hypnoitized, and are these artstars somehow elevated to the point where we are unable to see that just maybe some of them may be just a little bit overrated?

Barnum said there was a sucker born every minute. I think they are all in the art business.



July 18, 2005, 9:14 PM

I was dying for some critical thinking today. Thanks for finally posting.

Despite oldpro's politicking, I remain an avowedly anti-conceptualist when it comes to art, inasmuch as conceptualism means art that is primarily an illustration of an idea. All art, any thing you can see or name, has an apprehendable concept. An idea is not done justice by simple analogous illustration, and if the idea is of any value at all (and conceptual artists really do like their ideas) then find a way to express it that is appropriately sophisticated to present something more than a cliche version of it.

I agree that we should let idea-generated production have its own space in sociey, just stop calling it art. Call it 'bill-boardism,' or 'communication design.' Oh, there already is such a field of study; maybe Jack is right and there is a certain cachet attached to being able to call oneself a 'video artist,' as opposed to 'video technician' or 'advertising executive.' Maybe the pomos are trying to cash in on ideas of artistic genius while declaiming the same.

When it has got to be a film, bring it up to the quality of cinematic experience that we all know is possible. If it is literature, write the thing suitably enough to stand beside (or even above) the other written informational material that is readily available to us all.

Because the reporter did such a good job describing the videos with words arranged grammatically, I am able to quickly grasp the idea of each film in question, and don't feel any need to actually see them.

The one criticism left over at the end of the article is directed at the museum for what I see to be the artist's responsibilities. The filmmakers are not just beholden to make a film and hand over the cannister or compact disc; they must consider the medium and its implications fully - this includes the logistics of its presentation/reception. Neither can the dead batteries or poor reception be blamed on the technology. The filmers must realize the limitations of the technology and overcome it. Whatever the chosen medium for expression, at least learn it well enough to convince me that I should pay attention.



July 18, 2005, 9:15 PM

Im revising my list and adding Jenny Holzer, thanks again Old Pro for speaking out



July 18, 2005, 9:20 PM

Which list is that, Elizabeth?



July 18, 2005, 9:42 PM

I remain unconvinced --as usual-- by your eager solidarity. After all, it's a like-minded blog, isn't it?



July 18, 2005, 9:45 PM

This solidarity you speak of...more like serendipitous and happy coincidence that there are others unwilling to let weak thinking slide.



July 18, 2005, 9:58 PM

Maybe you're right, oldpro; if we are talking about

[probability of fame] x [rewards of fame]

then art can be easily compared to, say, film, and the argument could be settled. My gut feeling is that if you count up the number of people in the film industry who made a million dollars last year and the number who made the same in the art world, the former will be several orders of magnitude higher then the latter. But it's just a gut feeling.

as far as Jack's

. . . the Art world, which does have more cachet than those other endeavors

I find that patently absurd. 99% of the people in the United States will never hear of Jenny Holzer, and will never see any of her work. Whereas a guy who helped write one episode of Will & Grace or something needs but mention it at a party and have people eating out of his hand. Not even close.

And Jenny Holzer is a pretty poor person to use as an example, because her work really is pretty poor . . . but let's go with it. Obviously if she were trying to write literature she would not be doing the same thing she is doing, which seems to be the assumption of "Jenny Holzer wouldn't cut it as a writer in the literary world."



July 18, 2005, 9:58 PM

I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Jenny Holzer. Not everything she does, but a few things I've seen have registered. She's dependably intelligent, and seems to have enough grasp of drama to make her work convincing. I infinitely prefer painting, but as conceptual work goes she's pretty solid. I prefer her in turn to everything I've seen by Baldessari, and I saw a career review of Baldessari once.

Oldpro's last paragraph in #1 ought to be tattooed on a few arts professionals I know.

Alesh, you don't understand RSS; I don't get trackbacks.



July 18, 2005, 10:00 PM

Here we go again.

If you disagree, Metisse, disagree. Don't just disparage. You are observing the 'solidarity' of about a dozen people vs the solidarity of an entire art world. We are ready to take them on, but hardly anyone shows up to do it, and when they do they usually run off with their talis between their legs pretty quickly, battered and bloodied by our hard-headed "closed minds".

There are those here who contribute regularly who don't agree, with me, anyway, but they usualy manage to make sense, to discuss and argue and make points and compromise. Try it.



July 18, 2005, 10:01 PM

But let me return to the show for a second, because the point I was trying to make is that very little of the work rests on conceptualism for success. Much of it struck me as "video art for painters" or something. So this conversation, while not uninteresting, is somewhat misdirected.



July 18, 2005, 10:08 PM

"video art for painters"? - could be interesting, I suppose.



July 18, 2005, 10:12 PM

Speaking of which, if I was going to try some video art based on the vague figurative work I've been doing, what would be the right editing/animation platform for that? Final Cut Pro?



July 18, 2005, 10:39 PM

oldpro~ yikes! maybe i'm overselling it . . . as i pointed out, some of the work definetly reads as documentary film. some of it is definetly video art, NOT film or anything else. lots of it is good.

franklin~ i'm not sure exactly what you want to do, and i'm suppose you may have aversions to it, but you should consider Flash. It probably can do whatever you have in mind, probably has the correct feature/ease-of-use ratio, and may have positive implications for your web business goals.



July 18, 2005, 11:08 PM

No aversions, but isn't Flash better suited to vector graphics? How does it handle more bitmap-oriented or soft-focus work?



July 18, 2005, 11:16 PM

Alesh, again, "cachet" translates roughly as "class," not raw popularity in a populist sense, so we're not talking about the same thing. Also, the issue is not so much the quality of Holzer's work but the nature of it. It's squarely text-based. It must be read (and by someone who understands the language she's using), so it's a kind of literature, regardless of what she's "trying to do." Same for performance art: it's theater, and that's exactly how I approach it. If it doesn't work for me as such, tacking on "art" to the designation makes no difference. It is what it is. I don't expect or need you to agree, of course--I just don't like people giving me gato por liebre (it's Miami; ask around if you don't know).



July 18, 2005, 11:36 PM

Exactly. It is text, utterly simple text with a little fiddling in the background.

Can anyone out there tell me why it is interesting? Forget the art, just interesting?



July 18, 2005, 11:38 PM

Help me out Jack, I'm not in Miami, and the official second language up here is French, which I don't know. And google gives me three English words - cat by hare - which I can't decipher. But I'd like to know your reference.



July 18, 2005, 11:50 PM

Jenny Holzer probably got the idea to do what she does from visiting too many graveyards! afew choice words on some stone!!
Shes on my list of people who 'imagine they are artists'.



July 18, 2005, 11:51 PM

"dar gato por liebre": to put something over on someone

i've got a little plugin on Firefox called flashblock, which prevents Flash apps from running unless I give them a click (recommended, btw). It's amazing how much the web relies on the web; a lot of photo-based stuff is done with flash; the transitions are there, and it is relatively easy to use. The MSG/NEWNESS video team uses Final Cut Pro, but I would think some of Flash's vector functions could come in handy? Again, it depends on what exactly you have in mind.



July 18, 2005, 11:55 PM

um . . . "how much the web relies on flash." whatever.

i have no interest in defending Jenny Holzer. She's sort of the straw man in this argument.



July 19, 2005, 12:40 AM

jenny holzer's work is quite interesting and smart. she has been around since the 70's and is nothing new. she just became big in the 90's. Jeanne Siegel (I'm sure oldpro knows her) has written a lot about holzer. very credible and insightful material. someone here on the blog has compared her work to literature. well it is more like spoken word. she uses a graphic design/advertising slogan format as her medium, as replicated poster art, marquee signs, bench plaques, led signs, etc and conveys a "truism" (that's what she calls them. i view them as running commentary) as a disembodied phrase in a public space (very exciting to see her truisms in led ticker tape in times square. also quite spectacular to see her led truisms spiraling all the way up the interior staircase of the guggenheim). the gugg show was an abberation, as much of her stuff has been outdoors. I find her medium interesting, visually striking, at times insightful, and generally speaking, significant.

In her words in an interview with wired mag:
You've worked with electronic processes before in your first Guggenheim show. Do you worry that the technology will become the master in place of the artist?
Not really. I think the problem is more whether you can start from zero and make sure everything you put in is right. I've never been particularly paranoid about a medium being overwhelming. I think the real problem is whether you're talking about the most important thing and whether you're doing it in a way that's accessible to almost everyone. And whether you can do it in a way that's not merely didactic - that what you're conveying is felt as well as understood. Same problem in any medium.
You're relying on the techies to help you program your work. Are the technicians going to take over and be the artists of the future?
Well, some already are. Not to sound like a multidisciplinary dweeb, but there really is an artificial line between someone who is a real artist and someone who's writing the software for the stuff. You know, some of us came in later, and I would fall into that category.
Your artistic forebears so to speak - the Duchamps and the Warhols - would they have had fun with this?
I think Warhol would've moved in and never come back out. I don't think he would've even been seen at parties if this (VR) had been part of his universe.

...and i'll just end it right there.



July 19, 2005, 12:42 AM

I read ; ' art was representational before Jenny Holzer used words as art'
.........last time I checked that's a WRITER!!



July 19, 2005, 12:45 AM

but then hey......Im just closeminded .....hahahahaha


moustache anear

July 19, 2005, 12:54 AM

Art like Holzer's is interesting because it has taken what "visual" work has been doing since images were painted on cave walls, since the beginning of representation, and transferred it into the other system of communication we use to represent and signify: spoken and written language. It relies on the same basic principle that painting does: The connection between what one sees and what one thinks about what is being seen. Very simple.

Now, Holzer is not one of my faves by any means. Yet, her work is solid and clear, thought provoking even.(the piece "it's interesting" is sort of a ho-hum example) But, I don't understand why you see this as an invalid or inferior form of art simply because she chooses text over pictures.
What about Marcel Broodthears work? Or a synthesis of image and text like Magritte's work?

You claim clear differences between art forms like literature, film and theatre, when the contemporary condition is blurring these distinctions as a means of advancing how we understand our cultures, their media, the world, ourselves. I get a sense that what you find unappealing is the populist, or inclusive, nature of work that breaks away from conventional modes of representation; That there is no apparant "craft" to the work that artists that defy basic categorization are producing; That so many of these types of works don't rely on the ideal of beauty as an aesthetic crutch.

I am a painter. I paint.. But, to see painting as the sole means to an end for asking the severely important questions raised by representing the world around us is very limiting. I don't suggest that we should all be jacks-of-all-trades. No way. Just that there are many ways of making stuff . Whether storytelling figuratively, or dabbling in the estorics of abstraction, we as artists have to use all of the tools available for communicating in order to advance art and to continue to ask "why is this art?" To squash the question before it's even been asked is counterproductive and totalitarian. To deny that the new genres of art-making are valid and necessary is just as criminal as stating that painting is dead. (it's not....not by a long shot).



July 19, 2005, 12:54 AM

I am interested in what this group has to say about the current guggenheim show, Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition: Photographs and Mannerist Prints. This show explores the dialogue between the photographs of mapplethorpe and classical art, in particular late-16th-century Flemish Mannerist prints (through the engravings and woodcuts of Hendrick Goltzius, Jan Harmensz. Muller, Jacob Matham, and Jan Saenredam). Pretty interesting comparison, eh?


that guy

July 19, 2005, 12:54 AM

"Not to sound like a multidisciplinary dweeb, but there really is an artificial line between someone who is a real artist and someone who's writing the software for the stuff"...

on that note I think I'll have a rum and coke, with arsenic chaser.



July 19, 2005, 12:59 AM

I agree with you moustache anear. I cannot quite wrap my hands around the reason why many here do not find validity in work that breaks away from conventional modes of representation.



July 19, 2005, 1:02 AM

franklin - what do you intend to do animation-wise? i can advise you whether to use flash or other software depending on what you would like to achieve.



July 19, 2005, 1:03 AM

pass me a glass too , that guy... and heavy on the arsenic plz!



July 19, 2005, 1:10 AM




July 19, 2005, 1:15 AM

mek; hey your the one who put that quote down and that guy responded....Im just thirsty, its hot as hell here in Toronto



July 19, 2005, 1:18 AM

Elizabeth, again, my question: I cannot quite wrap my hands around the reason why many here do not find validity in work that breaks away from conventional modes of representation.

looking forward to your comment, or those of anyone else, sleep awaits.

happy drinking.



July 19, 2005, 6:31 AM

You are all talking around the problem.

MEK, thanks for the rundown on Holzer, but it really is just what anyone who was doing anything would say: description with positive words.

Moustache, I don't know what to make of "It relies on the same basic principle that painting does:" The "it is interesting" example I gave might be "ho-hum", but take any example; they are all "ho-hum" if you look at them with that "principle", which i assume is an esthetic principle, given your statement, because they are all visually dull.

Now, to look at something visually dull and read "it is interesting" is a slightly amusing Magrittean play, but it is a literal one liner and not that interesting in itself. Why look twice? Where is that perpetually refreshing charge one gets from good art? If one judges these things the same as what "visual work has been doing since images were painted on cave walls" it fails utterly, and, furthermore, deliberately. I don't care what word castles one builds around the Holzer work, it is visually dull and conceptually severely limited.

You say that "the contemporary condition" is "blurring distinctions". This may or may not be true, but so what? The various arts are distinct, despite all the buzz about "multidisciplinary" and "crossing boundries" and all that trendy stuff. Otherwise there would be no "boundries" to "blur", right? And why is this "boundry blurring" such a wonderful thing? Frankly I don't care if boundries blur or not, but i am tired of hearing about it as if it were some kind of holy grail.

Then you go on to make the assumption that I am uncomfortable with "populist, or inclusive, nature of work that breaks away from conventional modes of representation". In our last discussion I made a plea to not give people motives but take them at their word, and I ask this again. Not only is this not my motivation, I do not even know what it means. I am an abstract painter, so I certainly am not bound to "conventional modes of representation", and laying "using beauty" as an "esthetic crutch" on me, strange terminology as that is, is entirely presumptious. Your whole comment tends away from defending Holazer and taking me to task for my presumed shortcomings. We have become used to that around here.

If you want to "ask the severely important questions raised by representing the world " I suggest you do just that and get into politics or journalism and take responsibility to do something effective to suit your interest. Art cannot change the world. Holzer's work will certainly not change the world, nor does it raise any question. Except perhaps "why would anyone do this sort of thing?"

Then, finally, you insist, in an accusatory way, that "we as artists have to use all of the tools available for communicating in order to advance art and to continue to ask 'why is this art?' To squash the question before it's even been asked is counterproductive and totalitarian."

For God's sake, Moustache, this is precisely the question I am asking!!



July 19, 2005, 6:33 AM

Elizabeth, move out before people put the rent and your mortgage payments up as they have here in Miami.
- the coldness will get you anywhere...


moustache anear

July 19, 2005, 7:08 AM

The blurring of distincions betweem disciplines in art is not a fad. It is a phenomenon. It is the natural evolution of media. It figures that you're an AbEx paintier. Atleast some of your contemporaries, Rauschenberg for example, had the vision to see things in a diferent way than you do.
Also, how can you say that art isn't political? To take social and political causes up and tackle themes that criticizise or expose the underbelly of daily life ,as a journalist or a writer might, has been a common practice by painters for centuries. WHat do you want the artists to do? Paint pretty pictures all day?Abstract gobs of egocentric paint like DeKooning for the masses? (and his paintings sure were sarcasm..)Tell that to Caravaggio...TEll that to J.L.David..Tell that to Brueghel...Tell that to Gericault. Tell that to Velazquez and Goya. Go on. Watch them roll over in their graves and spit linseed oil in your weary eyes....You're nuts. Art is political, my man.
You know , ol'pro, i don't know your work and i frankly i really don't care to, but i stand by what i said about using beauty as an aestheic crutch. I keep reading you and others talking about it using phrases like "visually appealing" when referencing what "good art"is. The ideal of Beauty presupposes your notions of form and idea. You want proof ?( i just know you're going to demand it)..Reference your own previous blogs.
Time to go to the studio.


moustache anear

July 19, 2005, 7:44 AM

Persecution Complexes can be sloppy things.

Here are 2 Important Lessons For You To Learn:
A contrary opinion is not an attack.
Your own shortcomings are your own problem.
(I have no interest in them.)



July 19, 2005, 7:47 AM

lender; toronto is a teeny tiny version of New York and Im used to the cold...born to it, so it doesnt faze me. its still affordable and its a city that loves art im happy....but I definetly loveeeeeeeeeeeeeee New York city........what a place to be!!



July 19, 2005, 8:36 AM

yes well with all the CONTEMPORARY and MULTI-DISCIPLINARY artists that CROSS-PLATFORM in nyc, elizabeth, you might drink yourself into a tizzy...



July 19, 2005, 8:41 AM

oldpro, again, my question: Why do you not find validity in work that breaks away from conventional modes of representation?

looking forward to your comment



July 19, 2005, 8:50 AM

Once again, moustache, as is your habit, you get things wrong and busy yourself characterizing and categorizing me.

I am an "AbEx painter" - says who?

I "lack vision"- characterization.

"You're nuts" - insult

"persecution complexes" - implicit accusation.

"your shortcomings" - personal characterization.

I said "art is not political" - mistake.

and so on.

I can understand your anger at having your assumptions challenged, but this is not the way to react. One of Franklin's rules is address the writng, not the writer. It is a good one to follow. If you want to post here, in this old-fashioned, conventional, narrow, close-minded, no-vision place, we are just nasty enough to insist that you carry on an above-board exchange. Please do it.



July 19, 2005, 8:57 AM

it is very simple, MEK. I "find validity" (I don't think one "validates" art, but that is another discussion) in art when I see it and like it.

I try not to see anything categorically, that is, deciding about it before I see it, as difficult and tempting as that sometimes is. I assume that is what you think I do by asking "Why do you not find validity in work that breaks away from conventional modes of representation?". As I indicated to Moustache somewhewre above, I really don't know what that means or what it encompasses.



July 19, 2005, 9:16 AM

Mek, 1, Im not a drinker, so I cant get into a tizzy.
2, I dont mind seeing contemporary and multidis. artists, but I'll go with OldPro on this ; 'I find validity in art when I see it and like it'



July 19, 2005, 9:27 AM

with all due respect, oldpro, i have familiarized myself with your work. you were outed in a subtle manner a while back, and i did my research. i also know someone who studied under you.

i have deep admiration for your huge body of work, and writing. Tthat aside, i am still unclear on your position about "conceptual" art. i hear that you don't like to categorize initially. if so, how do you determine what you "like" when you "see" it? is it a purely aesthetic process? elizabeth, i am interested in your critical process as well.




July 19, 2005, 10:07 AM

For what it may be worth at this late stage, my intention was not to argue about the validity or merit of Holzer's work, or the validity of film, theater and literature. Of course those fields are valid; of course they can be done wonderfully well; of course there are great practitioners or masters in all of them. That's not the issue. My point is that they are what they are, and I won't take them for what they're not. For Ahab, by the way, getting gato por liebre means getting a cat for a hare (as in a certain butcher shop, for instance--meaning somebody's trying to get you to accept something as if it were something else, obviously for his benefit).

As for the idea of beauty as a "crutch," anyhting can be used a crutch, including politics, personal issues, shock tactics, ideology, whatever. It's all a matter of what the artist does, how it's done and what the result is, in the context of art. I trust it's clear that beauty is not the same as prettiness (there is a terrible beauty, for instance, in Goya's Saturn devouring his children). If someone is uncomfortable with beauty as such, or mistrusts it, or wants something else, or cannot create it, well, that's his affair, but it's not mine, and I won't make it so.



July 19, 2005, 10:42 AM

Art is not FOR communicating. But art does communicate.

When an artist insists on communicating his/er message, and insists on making the message primary, the inherent visual qualities of the art might as well be shed altogether. The visual has been hijacked to serve another master - mere illustration. Why not just use a pie-chart? Pie-charts, though conventional, are very interesting too. So the work in question now becomes about meaning-transference.

The significant thing about Holzer's 'truisms' is that a 'truism' is exactly what her intended message becomes. Her truisms out her work as one big truism. It debunks itself. The intended message takes on the worth of a cliche - a ridiculous reduction of a (potentially profound) concept down to a couple of words. A couple of words are all it takes to think you get it. Conceptual art cannot help but flounder in all the mire of meaning-devoid cliche.

Art that has been created with special attention to the 'felt' material qualities carries a message. It is not devoid of message, but it is no longer for the artist to say what s/he means, or what the art means. (This is the holy grail of pluralism: the viewer gets to receive his/er own meaning. Why do conceptual artists feel they can dictate any message at all? Don't they sense their preachiness?) The message in a great "visual visual" work of art becomes profound, so profound that it cannot be conveyed in mere words. A truly visual language is not truly read. It is not understood. It cannot be reasoned. There are no rules. It is not made of verbs which can be parsed or numbers which can be crunched. It is felt, aesthetically. It is grasped, with the effort and discipline of looking.

And I could go on.



July 19, 2005, 10:50 AM

But instead I'll just go.



July 19, 2005, 12:21 PM

Ahab writes "great 'visual visual' work of art becomes profound, so profound that it cannot be conveyed in mere words."

Art, as art, is perceived entirely intuitively.This is not a new or unusual idea, but one currently under severe attack. I want art to thrill me, to knock my socks off, to give me goose bumps, to make me come back for more, to send me running to the studio. Call it what you will. That goes for music, literature and all the rest. How would you evaluate art, MEK. Is there another way?

My position on "conceptual" art is exactly the same as any other species of art. It either does it or it doesn't. When I watched the Fischl & Weiss video at FIU (mentioned above) I was hugely entertained. I am not sure it hit the "art button" but it was so rich, ingenious, allusive and humorous I coudn't help wanting to see it again. It really grabbed me.

Holzer, on the other hand, is just a oneline bore. It is possible to weave threads of acadmic artspeak around anything, as, for example, a few words printed on a black background. It is done very day. It is the common currency of our art business. But ascribing great mysitcal powers of profundity to this stuff is just social pathology.

The reason I use an alias here is precisely because I do not my background oin display. A blog should operate the way art-making should operate: every comment up for evaluation on its own, with no "reputation" attached. I don't want to pull rank; I want an open and lively discussion. "Reputations" are the curse of the art business.



July 19, 2005, 4:22 PM

yes well it was entirely entertaining to see holzer's truism snaking around the top of the nbc building in times square via the largely visible led sign that continuously spews the headlines of the day. great fun to see BEING ALONE WITH YOURSELF IS INCREASINGLY UNPOPULAR instead of the dow closed at 41... Kind of like when a student gets on the school intercom and says something completely irreverant instead of the pledge of allegience..

i suppose we have beaten this topic to death.

any takers on a blog about the current mapplethorpe vs flemish print show at gugg?

i respect your wish to un-out yourself oldpro. in essence you mistakenly outed yourself initially, but i agree with your wish for privacy in this particular blog arena. i too enjoy the open and lively discussion here - with an even playing field.



July 19, 2005, 4:53 PM

Mek, if the Dow had closed at 41, there would not have been a Holzer truism on the LED sign. In fact I doubt there would have been a sign. The Dow was last at 41 at its depression low in 1932. Interesting that you chose that number.

Fiction and Fact from the Oldpro Almanac.



July 19, 2005, 5:28 PM

haha - i know..

no interest in mapplethorpe show eh?



July 19, 2005, 5:39 PM

Has 4 pictures and a couple pages ot the obligatory bad writing. The show, which "explores the dialogue" (a phrase banned from my writing class) between Mapplethorpe and post-Raphaelite Mannerism, might be interesting, at least didactically. I am a big fan neither of Mannerism nor Mapplethorpe, but too bad we cannot see more pix. Maybe you can find some.



July 19, 2005, 5:42 PM

Mek; personally I like the 'knock your socks off' emotion when deciding if I like something. I can honestly say I have been transfixed in front of different pieces over the years and know when it hits....IT HITS'.
A few examples ; standing in front of Jack Bush's paintings at the AGO ( or looking at his work in books, but he is the exception). When I saw my teachers show 25 years ago and bought the best 4x8ft abstract that knocked my socks off....I stood in front of it and everything else dissapeared....all I saw were colours and shapes and it was magic, Im still enjoying it each day on my living room wall. Sadly his website only shows his recent works ....landscapes and interiors and none of the amazing abstracts that everyone loved.......he hasnt done those since the mid 80's. The most recent KMSOFF moment was at the Guggenheim...when I saw Composition VIII......again, everytime it amazes me.



July 19, 2005, 5:55 PM

Elizabeth: I don't think most people on the blog will know that AGO is Art Gallery of Ontario, and i don't think most of them will know it is one of the largest museums in North America.

What is "Composition VIII"? Also Bush? Kandinsky?



July 19, 2005, 6:50 PM

OldPro; oops...sorry I didnt explain. Composition VIII is by Kandinsky and in my dreams it hangs over my bed hehe.



July 19, 2005, 7:04 PM

btw; the Ago is under a huge renovation program now, its going to really be wonderful... facade looked like a prison b4. My wonderful old school OCA also got hit a few years now looks like an alien has landed.... dont mind the architecture at all, its great fun, but holy crap...try to find ur way around the buildings now and u need to leave breadcrumbs to find ur way out!!!!
Its so nice that you know about Toronto OldPro....but I would expect nothing less from you (smile).



July 19, 2005, 7:25 PM

oldpro said: "The reason I use an alias here is precisely because I do not my background oin display. A blog should operate the way art-making should operate: every comment up for evaluation on its own, with no "reputation" attached. I don't want to pull rank; I want an open and lively discussion. "Reputations" are the curse of the art business."

So why do you call yourself oldpro? You frequently allude to your art background and career history in your posts. Doesn't calling yourself an old pro in this context imply that you're an arts professional that has been around quite awhile? Why not a handle with even less whiff of reputation attached? Like HamburgerHelper2005? or Cutie8162?

Not an attack, and I know that last sentence was silly. Your comment just seemed ironic to me.



July 19, 2005, 8:25 PM

Good point. Pasta. When I thought of it it seemed slightly facetious and self-depreciating, kind of a step up from "old fart". I never had the slightest clue that people would actually take it seriously. I was wrong, for sure.

As for the references to experience, I suppose that does have something of a "rank-pulling" character, but i have tried to do it only when it makes a point. Maybe i would have been better off calling myself "Little snookums" and pretending everything I knew came from a book. But that would have brought its own kind of obloquy.

Anyway, it seems I am stuck with oldpro and its ramifications.



July 19, 2005, 9:29 PM

Oldpro, if you decide to change your handle, I suggest L'Éminence grise (or, if that's too fancy, The Gray Eminence).



July 19, 2005, 9:42 PM

hpw 'bout 'OldPope'.......



July 19, 2005, 9:57 PM

No, Elizabeth. Sounds too much like "Old Poop" (remember the movie On Golden Pond?).



July 19, 2005, 10:06 PM

Lets stay with OldPro.....more dignified and deserving then the other options that I wont even touch ...hehe



July 19, 2005, 10:14 PM

Keep it together oldpro; you're only self-deprecating, not self-depreciating. Think of Matty - keep it going for little Matty.



July 19, 2005, 10:30 PM

That's the new tagline: Keepin' It Going for Little Matty.™



July 19, 2005, 10:39 PM

There's a radio DJ here in Alberta ( who plays big-band swing-era tunes and goes by the handle "Old Disc Jockey." But he's very sensitive to anyone mis-emphasizing the words. It has to be "old-disc jockey," never "old disc-jockey." But he's gotta be 80, at least.



July 19, 2005, 10:41 PM

By the way, Little Matty is houseboating on a summer resort inundated lake in British Columbia. He'll have to catch up on all the fun after he gets back and dries out.



July 19, 2005, 10:50 PM

That doesn't count as an out because Canada is so big, and this website which I don't know how to hyperlink won't give him away no matter how much I want it to:

It just makes me more envious. But then I'm blogging with people in Florida. Now I'm starting to sound like George. No more saushe, I promishe.



July 19, 2005, 11:05 PM

"Keep it going for little Matty"

The Artblog equivalent of "Win one for the Gipper"



July 19, 2005, 11:39 PM

Little Matty doesn't look like he needs any help at this point.

What do you mean by "dry out", Ahab? When I have been in Canada it did not mean "gimme a towel". It meant something like "I can't even look at another Molson".

Old Pope? Is there any other kind? They haven't been faring too well lately.

Old Poop would have predictable responses, for sure.

Well, I am not completely grey, and my eminence is not exactly accepted here, so that won't do.

Guess I'll stick to oldpro.

I am also not eighty. When I get there I will call my self "really old pro" and issue forth profundities influenced by Dr. Alzheimer.

Deprecating and depreciating are pretty much interchangeable, Ahab, though deprecate may be better because of the widespead financial use of depreciate. I thought about it and figured more people would recognize depreciate. But then I used "obloquy", for no good reason. Brains are funny.



July 19, 2005, 11:57 PM

Mek; maybe I have the wrong idea, but it seems to me that the curators are trying to draw parallels between Mapplethorpe and the Flemish prints to help us see M in a new light. am I wrong?? and I dont think there is a new light since we have all seen M's work and its not new even standing next to the other nudes. All art takes it cue from what came b4...thats not new either!



July 20, 2005, 12:04 AM

is this an attempt to reinvigorate M's work?? then it doesnt really do it for me either.......



July 20, 2005, 12:38 AM

re: 'dry out' - There's only one kind of liquid that goes hand in hand with houseboating, and it ain't lakewater. Well, okay, lakewater too, but that's implicit in 'boating'.

re: 'obloquy' or 'oblo guy' - I think you may have stumbled upon a suitable replacement nickname there; looks sufficiently like the last, has more cachet, just harder to type.

re: 'Little Matty' - Oh, he needs help for sure. He's just so...little.

re: 'self-deprecating vs. -depreciating' - Let's explore the dialogue.

re: 'Mapplethorpe' - Really bad work beside really good work looks worse for it. Good work beside bad comes down a notch. But bad work bad work, everyone wins. Or is there another option?

re: 'truism' - what more needs to be said?



July 20, 2005, 10:38 AM

I like "Little Matty." It's very Dickensian.



July 20, 2005, 11:03 AM

Elizabeth, I have not seen the show but I read the NYT article by Roberta Smith.

I wish I could go, but not so much for M. but to see those mannerist engravings and experience the whole effect of this looks like a good pairing



July 20, 2005, 11:36 AM

yes i was curious about the homoerotic comparison. interesting. that's why i posed it to the group but nothing much stuck. i thought the curitorial aspect would generate discussion at the very least.



July 20, 2005, 12:23 PM

Mek, you are right. I put in my 2 cents but it didn't arouse much (so to speak).

Actually it doesn't interest me much either but I thought someone would talk about it. It would help if there were more pix.

Good comment, Ahab. A little cleverness always cleans the air. I googled "oblo" and got 80,000 returns. I think it means something in Italian. I like the word play, but "oblo" is an ominous sounding word. I am sure if I adopted it someone would say "didn't you know that oblo is an FBI code word for 'Nazi skinhead pervert'"?



July 20, 2005, 9:36 PM

I'm a little dissapointed. Franklin says of Jenny Holzer, "She's dependably intelligent, and seems to have enough grasp of drama to make her work convincing." Then everybody (including me) beats up on her. I kept hoping he'd stick up for her a little, but no such luck.



July 20, 2005, 10:18 PM

Don't cry for Jenny Holzer, Alesh. Cry for every artist out there with more talent than hers who hasn't gotten the breaks, success and recognition she's gotten. That is far more sad and unjust. Holzer doesn't need anybody on this blog to stick up for her; she's very well taken care of, thank you.



July 20, 2005, 11:25 PM

I'm not woried about Holzer, Jack. I'm adressing intelectual honesty. While you have made it abundantly clear that you have no interest in anything that does not agree with you, some of us value argument and discussion for its own sake. The proprieter of this blog expressed support of an artist that EVERYONE else is trashing.

Strikes me as a situation worth pointing out. Seems you comment is missing the point, Jack?



July 21, 2005, 12:38 AM

I guess I don't feel strongly enough about her work to make a case for it. Sorry to disappoint you.



July 21, 2005, 8:40 AM

Yeah, Alesh, Franklin didn't back down on anything. He never expressed much enthusiasm.



July 21, 2005, 11:12 AM

Alesh, if anyone does or does not like some artist's work, s/he is free to say so regardless of what Franklin (or anyone else) may have said about that artist. I don't see how that in any way implies a problem with intellectual honesty. If people want to criticize, or praise, that's their business and their right. Surely you're not suggesting some sort of quota system, whereby the number of negative comments must be "balanced" by a similar number of positive ones. Note, by the way, that I did not bring up Holzer initially to trash her, but to use her as an example of a point I was trying to make (which was not about quality of work but about the nature of it).



July 21, 2005, 4:17 PM

i am with you on this one alesh #88. btw jack no one is interested in a quota system. however the critical intent of this blog seems to be skewed in one particular direction, and i agree wholeheartedly that some of us value discussion and argument for it's own sake. i have brought up several sub-topics and tried to generate feedback on several occasions, and it seems as tho if i am not talking about a painter from a particular time period, then there is no interest.



July 21, 2005, 5:56 PM

That may seem to be true, Mek, but you have to take a few things into consideration.

first, blogs go where they want to go. They seldom stick to the set topic or any one thing for very long. The whole Jennie Holzer discussion, for example, came up out of an off-hand remark by Jack, as I recall. We have a point of view, for sure, but we talk about all kinds of things.

Second, eg Mapplethorpe/Mannerism topic, I guess no one was interested. I wasn't either, but I did try to give it a push by putting a web site up. Putting up a few "discussion aids" can help.

Third, i am not sure what you mean by "time period". It is natural for us to talk about contemproary art. Is that the time period you meant?

Fourth, all blogs are "skewed", at least if they are al all interesting. It is in the nature of blogs to specialize.



July 21, 2005, 6:06 PM

O/P is exactly right. Not saying anythign is the default option when reading the blog. You comment on whatever strikes you as notable at any given point. Naturally Franklin's isn't under any obligation to support his earlier comment. . . all I said is that it would have been interesting for him to have done so. That, because it would have been a rare instance of his disagreeing with the Artblog regulars. No big deal...



July 21, 2005, 6:26 PM

in that case i have nothing more to say



July 21, 2005, 6:33 PM

Yes, that would be interestintg. I think the last time I had an actual disagreement with Franklin about an artist it was about Chuck Close, although I think he had a soft spot for Serra. I didn't care much for that Anne Chu Franklin likes so much but i didn't make anything of it.

Of course the problem with this kind of disagreement with someone sufficiently articulate is that after a few exchanges about details it boils down to "you like it and I don't", which is about all you can say in the end anyway. We are talking about a subject where evlaution is everything and there aren't any criteria for evaluation, so we are stuck with it.



July 21, 2005, 6:42 PM

but you all tend to agree on everything - that is the point i am trying to get across.



July 21, 2005, 7:02 PM

which is fine. there is a certain comfort level here and it is what it is. i appreciate reading the topics and so forth. many of you just seem to be entrenched in a certain set of standards and are closed to other schools of thought. i don't have the time to get into specificities, it is just my general, critical observation.

Is there a way to set aside one topic a week for reviews/discussion of current, local shows featuring local, contemporary artists? perhaps i can find content like that on another local art blog site? (i may be in the wrong forum).



July 21, 2005, 7:21 PM

Please examine what you are saying, MEK. Having a point of view and agreeing does not mean "closed to other schools of thought", It seems to me that the only "school of thought" we use here consistently is good old fashioned common sense and logic and an insistence that people make sense when they write.

If it seems that some kinds of art are consistently panned here it may be that there is no "school of thought" or much thought of any kind, supporting them.



July 21, 2005, 7:23 PM

BTW Franklin has often posted local shows as topics. He has not done so lately so much. Perhaps there isn't much going on.



July 21, 2005, 7:33 PM

Let me point out too that the Mapplethorpe show was in NY and none of our regulars here had seen it. That's kind of a buzzkill. It didn't sound like a bad idea in the abstract; gay culture in general was hugely inspired by the Classical Greeks, so the premise sounds reasonable. That's really all I can say about it.

I'm overdue for some show reviews - I'll put one up tomorrow. Things are pretty slow in town these days, though.



July 21, 2005, 7:47 PM

holy crap, people. it's Tropical Depression Franklin!



July 21, 2005, 7:51 PM

• yes - slow - being summer and all. interested in what you put up, as things pick up, franklin.

• other than that, the common sense does seem to be old fashioned. i still stand by what i have said, oldpro.

- - off to bathe an unruly 2 year old - -



July 21, 2005, 8:54 PM

Common sense always seems old fashioned, mek, but it never is.



July 21, 2005, 11:59 PM

Mek, alesh and his crew at criticalmiami do put up some reviews of shows which artblog doesn't touch or like sometimes. Also,

Onajide's blog has others which neither touch sometimes.



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