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Roundup

Post #750 • March 10, 2006, 6:33 AM • 83 Comments

Carol Es and Karen D'Amico interview each other about getting new studios. Karen was my co-panelist up in Montreal last September.

"I want to go out and see if I can just forget about art and art history and go out with a brush and try to do some honest painting," says John Myatt, an art forger gone straight. (Oldpro)

Amen, brother.

God is his art agent. Mammon is his accountant. (Supergirl)

Googling yourself is fun, sure, but how do you rank on Artfacts.net? (AJ)

Ken Johnson reviews William Nicholson for the New York Times.

Threatdown #4: Curators. (Supergirl)

I sort of figured into this post at Edward_ Winkleman.

Only tangentially related to art but I love the story, and this quote: "The world is not too small for the brave." (Sully)

The First Post reports on Winslow Homer at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. (Elaine Hake)

Alesh didn't like a similar question last week. He's going to like this one even less: Do you make art as well as this kid plays Dance Dance Revolution while juggling? (Reddit) (I miss juggling.)

Openings this weekend at Dorsch and Alejandra von Hartz.

Comment

1.

JL

March 10, 2006, 12:03 PM

Thanks for the link. Man, I loves me some Homer, and have been envious of those visiting Dulwich for this show since I first heard about it. But the start of that article - "Landscape painting in America tended toward the kitsch before Winslow Homer" - what's up with that?

I can't really complain about not getting to England, as I didn't even drive out to Williamstown for the Clark's Homer show, which I'm sure was great. They do, after all, have my favorite painting by him. On the other hand, shortly before Dulwich's show opened, I was witness to a conversation in which someone explained that they were flying to London for the opening "along with some others from the Prout's Neck crowd." Nice work if you can get it.

2.

ahab

March 10, 2006, 12:05 PM

You "miss juggling." In what way?

3.

Franklin

March 10, 2006, 12:12 PM

My pleasure, JL.

Ahab, I used to be way into juggling. I taught nearly everybody in my year at grad school how to do a three-ball cascade. I went to clubs, conventions... then I got into t'ai chi and there just wasn't enough time in the day. After the move, though, we'll see...

4.

Jack

March 10, 2006, 12:39 PM

The Dulwich Picture Gallery has a superb collection enhanced by a great setting for experiencing it. It's a bit out of the way, but definitely worth the trip for anyone who visits London. I really wish I could see this show there.

5.

ahab

March 10, 2006, 1:16 PM

While I prefer to glean just barely enough information to avoid total retardation, you seem to be a true polymath, Franklin. I'd worry about having to play opposite you in Table-tennis no less than Scrabble.

6.

Jack

March 10, 2006, 3:28 PM

I will not be dismissive about Franklin's juggling.

I will not be dismissive about Franklin's juggling.

I will not.....

7.

Franklin

March 10, 2006, 4:35 PM

Come on over, Jack. I'll teach you to do a three-ball cascade too.

8.

jordan

March 11, 2006, 1:00 AM

Due to circumstances un-for-seen, I hereby claim that as of tonight I will no longer take a leadership initiative that involves helping out other artists,young or old, but instead will become more like other artists and focus on 'number one'.

9.

Franklin

March 11, 2006, 7:18 AM

It's a shame to hear that, Jordan - everybody ought to be as grateful as I am to you for providing opportunities, especially to younger artists. But, well, at the end of the day...

10.

Jack

March 11, 2006, 11:03 AM

Any word on the Julio Gonzalez show at the Bass?

11.

ahab

March 11, 2006, 10:31 PM

Jack, did you just type Julio Gonzalez? Don't tell me, the Bass isn't in Alberta. What with David Smith figuring prominently in New York right now (Gag. & Gug.), Gonzalez would be some sweet icing on a trip east. Everyone please cross your fingers for me.

12.

Jack

March 11, 2006, 11:26 PM

Yes, Ahab, that is correct. You can visit www.bassmuseum.org for a tidbit of info on the show. I plan to see it, maybe tomorrow, and I can say more then. It may not be as good as one would like; it depends on how many and which sculptures they've managed to get, as opposed to drawings (which are obviously of interest but not as much). Still, this is certainly not the sort of thing one can take for granted down here--unlike, say, a show of photos of Frida Kahlo and her Eyebrow(s).

13.

George

March 12, 2006, 12:39 AM

My trip to the Chelsea galleries today prompted me to write this pieceArt, Money and Fashion

The Davis Smith exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery was probably the best gallery show I've seen all year. I walked out saying "wow"

14.

Marc Country

March 12, 2006, 1:46 AM

Ok, here's my take on "Dance Dance Revolution-Juggler guy", and "Guitar Guy", as pertains Franklin's question: "Do you make art as well as..."

First, one has to decide what we mean when we say "Make Art". I would put forward that to "make art" is to induce a certain kind of aesthetic experience, an experience of intuitive 'degrees' of appreciation, of involuntarily judging 'rightness' or 'wrongness', relative 'good' or 'bad'; not reliant on one's 'moral' sense, but rather on an aesthetic sense... or, 'taste', for lack of a better word.

In that case, for some of us, it seems straight-off to be difficult to compare the experience that we might induce in a viewer, through our chosen medium of, say, painting or sculpture, for instance, with the more clearly 'performative' media represented by "Guitar Guy" and "Dance Dance Revolution-Juggler guy".
Comparing so called "visual art" to 'performance' art is tricky, I think.... What's better, Beethoven's 5th, Shakespeare's Hamlet, or Michaelangelo's Pieta? Are apples better than oranges?

An easier comparison, it seems, might be made by artists whose chosen media is performance-based also, like the examples given: Musicians, or dancers, or other 'performance artists'. Then, it seems, the question becomes easier... Is your performance as effective in producing that "art" experience, that kind of pure, intuitive appreciation, as the examples that Franklin has supplied?

But perhaps the question only gets truly difficult to judge when all the 'artworks', whether visual, literary, performative, whatever, are of a similar level, as 'art'. One could probably say with some confidence that "Hamlet" is better as art, than the average pop song, or a Damien Hirst 'Bilotti Painting'.

So, with all that as a basis, if I had to answer, "Do I make art as well as that kid plays Dance Dance Revolution while Juggling?", I would have to say "yes".

Of course,others may disagree.

15.

jordan

March 12, 2006, 7:20 AM

You see Franklin, people don't really appreciate the philanthropy thing - not at least untill they realize what it means spiritually as opposed to what it means financially and egotistically. This is what artists tend to focus on: personal gain in spite of human creative collectivity, constructive communication and participation.
Onajide and you are admired and loathed by many - because you're both caring and confident enough to set standards. I have a verbal story which I will share with you at a later date that explains this issue further as I cannot type as well and as fast as I can speak.

16.

jordan

March 12, 2006, 7:34 AM

Thanks
George...

17.

jordan

March 12, 2006, 7:37 AM

as my day job involves the commingling of art, money and fashion!

18.

oldpro

March 12, 2006, 9:48 AM

People do what they want to do, Jordan. On balance some are givers, some are takers. The payoff never seems equitable. Ironically it is usually the takers who are the most dissatisfied. After all, it is literally easier to give than to get.

19.

George

March 12, 2006, 11:19 AM

For those of you who might be interested, I did see a few other interesting exhibitions in Chelsea aside from the David Smiths.

I liked Michael Borremans paintings at David Zwirner and Thomas Nozkowski at Max Protetch

A nice surprise was Tara Donovan. I had been vaguely familiar with Tara Donovan's sculptures but only in reproduction. She currently has a large (5'x50'x60') installation at Pace Wildenstein's gallery in Chelsea (3 below). As an experience, it was like looking down on a cloud. Its form was defined by clear plastic cups stacked side by side with their tops forming an undulating rolling surface, I guess there must have been over a million of them. It was visually stunning as well as entertaining experience. To my eye, Tara Donovan is one of the major sculptors working today, good stuff
Some pics from ArtNet 1 2 3 and at Ace Gallery LA 4 5 6 more at Ace

In contrast, Marianne Boesky Gallery had an exhibition of works by Angelo Filomeno They were, I'll just copy and paste to make sure I get it right, "Embroidery on silk shantung stretched over linen with crystal" OK, they were veeery pretty and impressssivly crafted so I guess that makes them "ahrt" but they made me think of Fabrege Eggs, expensive baubles for the rich. yuk

20.

Jack

March 12, 2006, 11:39 AM

George's piece linked to in #13 concludes with:

Art has become a fashion business.

No kidding. Welcome to reality, George.

21.

George

March 12, 2006, 11:45 AM

Jack, why thank you. I have more or less always had this opinion. I think it's more profoundly visible now and as you said "reality" The implication, for bettor or worse, is that the artist has to deal with it one way or the other.

22.

bob ross

March 12, 2006, 11:59 AM

Good call on the Michael Borremans. He is an excellent painter, moody and suggestive without revealing too much of what he's thinking..Just when you think you have his stories pinned down, he makes a dark joke worth every mment spent in front of his images ..His work is worth every dollar it sells for....watch for him...moody guy. Handles paint like butter and ideas like bread.

23.

Franklin

March 12, 2006, 12:16 PM

The Borremans look promising but it's awfully hard to tell from those pictures. The Nozkowskis don't call to me. That first Donovan, the ceiling piece, looks like a stunner but I could live without the cubes. I concur with you on the Filomenos. It seems like there's a lot of work being done right now that derives indirectly from Versace - he's one of them.

Soon, Artblog.net will be able to cover this in person...

24.

Jack

March 12, 2006, 12:30 PM

Oldpro, should you wish to comment, remember that a call was issued for your banishment. In the interest of catering to those delicate visitors who want what they don't like to be silenced, please be as considerate as you feel is appropriate. Just trying to advance Artblog culture, as always.

25.

bobross

March 12, 2006, 12:45 PM

The Rubell Collection has a couple small Borremans paintings in a back room, past the Cattalan self portrait sculpture-on-a-hook.

26.

Franklin

March 12, 2006, 12:56 PM

I think the banishment only applied to the panel discussion in April.

Bob, aren't those Tuymans in there? Maybe it has cycled out since I was at the RFC last.

27.

oldpro

March 12, 2006, 12:57 PM

Thanks for your kind advice, Jack. I haven't seen a whole lot to comment on. That art is a fashion business did not strike me as headline news. The only way I can get enthusiastic about the art seen here so far (though I do appreciate that George is putting this material on the blog) is to realize that I would probably be enthusiastic if a graduate student had done it, maybe, but not in the tough venue of a NY gallery.

Borrremans is a real painter but I found his pix dense and overworked, and depressing, for some reason, maybe a personal one. As for his "ideas" I don't see much, unless depicting a person with sticks up his nose is an "idea", in which case I will pass. I have never been able to see what "ideas" have to do with painting anyway.

What's intersting is that every other person in NYC is an "artist" of some sort and art is hot as a pistol and there is wall to wall art everywhere but there is just not very much that is very good. This is some kind of cultural phenomenon, I think.

28.

ahab

March 12, 2006, 1:35 PM

There were a couple of Nozkowski's that I thought were pretty good the last time I visited the Protetch site. They're not there anymore, and all but one of the current images cause a pretty quick click on the 'next' button.

Thanks for all the links, George, but I'm going to have to take exception to your praise of Tara Donovan's work. It is tedious stuff, don't you think? And it's tricky, as in "you'll never guess how I got these pins to defy your expectations." And distracting because "how did she do that?" refuses to take a back seat to less analytical experience of the things. And illusory, because you gotta know that she's got some trade secret to make each piece seem like a helluvalot of more work than it is. And contrived because from the same blueprint she worked from anyone else could make one too. The pieces are, in every sense of the word, fabrications - synthetic, mannered accumulations that make a pretense of materiality. They are specious presentations that presume the convergence between consumer culture critique and art historical reference will result in maximum meaning mileage.

Hmm. I gotta little off track there and I can still see room for more criticism. But I'll cease and desist. Sculpture is especially near to my heart, and I expect a lot more from a fellow sculptor than what Donovan is showing.

29.

bob ross

March 12, 2006, 1:40 PM

Ideas have much to do with paintings in the 2st century.

that said, there are definitely some Borremans there , Franklin. Very different from Tuymans.Tuymans is a passive minimalist by comparison. They were there up to 2 months ago, at the RFC....beautiful little things.
hardly depressing. Moody, sure. But not depressing.

30.

Jack

March 12, 2006, 1:42 PM

Mais non, mon cher Franklin. You underestimate the pretensions of some of our esteemed visitors. The fatwa in question was:

Keep OP away. he's too dominant and this audience is too prone kissing his arse (some excluded...).Or the very least keep him away from the topic of what good art is..

It did appear in the panel thread, but it was issued when the discussion turned to how dismissive and intimidating Artblog culture supposedly is. One can only assume that it was an attempt, however totalitarian, to advance the discussion, as George is fond of saying. Advance after a fashion, of course. And I need not tell you about fashion, do I? If you need elucidation anyway, ask George, the fashion wiz.

31.

ahab

March 12, 2006, 1:43 PM

A cubic form filled with pins or toothpicks. Water poured in. Maybe a special chemical solution. Frozen. Form removed. Thawed. Tada!

32.

Jack

March 12, 2006, 1:57 PM

Really, Ahab, give Tada her due. She would appear to be a fairly talented stage-set designer, as well as a pretty nifty gimmickmeister. Besides, George likes her, and George lives in NY. He must know something.

33.

ahab

March 12, 2006, 2:13 PM

George is alright, even though he does live in the mecca, Jack. His are especially good comments when they lay out all those links to interesting images. Gets all the dander flying.

Tada Donovan's work is extremely photogenic, which makes it the perfect sculpture for a problematic venue like the internet.

34.

Franklin

March 12, 2006, 4:16 PM

Jack, while the whole dissmissive tone on the blog thing was a bunch of hooey, I want to start insisting that people address each others' writing, not each other. Even I haven't been good enough about that lately.

35.

George

March 12, 2006, 4:21 PM

re #33: Tada Donovan's work is extremely photogenic...

I'm not sure this is true, other than a good photograph might allows you to conceptualize what she is doing. The only installation of hers I have actually seen is the one I saw yesterday at the Pace Wildenstein gallery.

If one views "sculpture" as an object experienced in the round, in three dimensions, I don't see how you can have a problem with the Pace installation. It is three dimensional form, visually cloudy in the sense that ones experience of the form is both concrete and vaporous at the same time. While the primary form is an aggregate of a large number of smaller units, the cups, it still reads as a form.

From the jpegs I have seen of her work it appears to me as an extension of the "primary structures" movement from the sixties. I find her approach very interesting, I like the idea of making something out of nothing by accumulating enough "parts" to make a larger form. It is a simple idea but no one else I can think of has pulled it off as effectively as Donovan has.

Her use of commonplace materials adds another dimension to ones experience of the work adding another emotional reference to the form itself. One might argue that her works aren't "relational", one element here referencing another element there. With the cubes this might be true, the primary forms are concrete and the "parts" (pins, glass etc) are an atomic substructure. The cloud piece (my nomenclature) at Pace is a continuous volume with an internal form that is relational from all views.

This is very open ended work and in my opinion, she is a major figure in sculpture.

36.

George

March 12, 2006, 4:40 PM

Franklin re#23.
I think the Borremans are very good paintings, unlike a lot of figurative work seen today there are no shorthand dodges of the critical parts in a figure. I always look at the ears, eyes, mouth, nose and hands to see how another artist deals with these elements. Borreman has a nice touch in these areas without falling into the trap of using a photorealistic, rigid depiction, the handling is loose but confident. His color schemes are a bit dour I don't see how it could be viewed as a problem, it convey a certain attitude or emotional expression.

I liked the Nozkowskis but I saw them in person. He and Bill Jensen have a somewhat similar approach, both make modestly sized personal abstractions that are arrived at through an exploratory painting process. I've met Tom a few times, so I have seen some of his early work. He has been following this path for several years, arriving at unique solutions for each painting, not just producing a batch of clones. They are quirky which is an attraction in my view.

Both Borremans and Nozkowski know how to handle paint in an understated but confident way which a lot of young artists manage to make looked forced and strained.

BTW, I finally saw some small pieces by Hernan Bas, I thought they were ok and I'm not gay. Hey that rhymes maybe…

37.

ahab

March 12, 2006, 5:11 PM

I'm glad you're into discussing this further, George.

"If one views "sculpture" as an object experienced in the round, in three dimensions, I don't see how you can have a problem with the Pace installation."

Well, I wouldn't try claiming that Donovan's works aren't three dimensional or sculptural. And I don't disbelieve your claim to having had an experience in its presence.

I can just think of numerous natural structures that achieve a much higher degree of visual impact - I'd rather check out the mineral display at the Museum of Natural History, or the growth of lichens on the desert floor, for example. Donovan's synthetic and contrived accretions presume to mimic such natural processes, and dumb down the wonder of geologic phenomena to an overly simplified illustration of the same. I don't mind that someone would try to make sense of naturally-occuring awe-inspiring forms in this way, I just balk at the way a highly designed system can be so attractively misrepresented as an intuitive process of creation.

They are pretty installations. They photograph well. They are slick and tidy. But they're not so open-ended as you say, George (open-ended isn't a balanced scale, anyhow). Given her chosen medium, what if she had made the cloud piece out of used, cracked, syrup-sticky, lipstick stained cups that smelled of cheap beer instead?

38.

George

March 12, 2006, 6:00 PM

Ahab, re #37 Starting from the assumption that your view is as good as mine. My take:

I can just think of numerous natural structures that achieve a much higher degree of visual impact…

While I will not dispute the truth of this statement I am not sure it is relevant to the question. In a sense we could argue any landscape is better than its photograph. Or that a movie set is a great sculptural experience, I have made a few movie sets and I know this is true. There are a lot of objects, natural and manmade that are arresting visually or conceptually when isolated from their context. Specifically, there were a couple of David Smith pieces which had bones in them (or clay facsimiles of bones or both). In the studio we just look at the bone and say what a great form but this recognition does not necessarily make them art. Smith recontextualized the bones, forcing the viewer to reconsider them in the new context. This shifting of context is a factor in defining something as art.

Donovan's synthetic and contrived accretions presume to mimic such natural processes, and dumb down the wonder of geologic phenomena to an overly simplified illustration of the same.

I think reflection on this remark might put you on dangerous ground. Without the advantage of either knowing Donovan or the critical rational about her work, let me make some assumptions of the process. Suppose she starts with a material, in this case plastic cups and works it out from there. First off the use of a non-art material isn't particularly a new idea. It is in the current mode of thinking, in the toolbox of approaches for a sculptor today (Tony Cragg would be a precedent here) So you get a new material, a plastic cup, a piece of semi-formed metal from the scrapyard or a bucket of foam, what do you do? You play around a bit with the new material/process and see what it suggests. I think the physical properties of the plastic cups, their milky whiteness and translucency start to suggest something else with similar properties and you play around with the idea. The installation at Pace was a large work but I suspect it started off as a smaller exploration which led to the larger piece. So I don't see how this is any more synthetic or contrived than assembling/constructing a sculpture using more traditional or other materials. I don't know if for a fact the Pace installation was supposed to be a cloud or not, that was my interpretation of the experience it evoked. The experience, not the fact, the fact always in my mind was that it was made from a lot of plastic cups, could not possibly be a cloud like one makes in the movies with a dry ice machine. This shift in awareness between "cloudness" and actuality is what made the work interesting, more interesting than if it had been a dry-ice cloud.
There is a referentially to her work but I wouldn't characterize it as mimicry.

What I meant by open-endedness was that her exploration of form using an aggregation of subforms or elements can be extended. It is not locked into a "look" or specific material. It is a conceptual approach which can be utilized by other artists and in fact has. Suppose you found a pile of identical pieces of metal at the scrapyard, would you go home with one or a pickup full?

39.

mek

March 12, 2006, 6:35 PM

Thanks for the coverage and info, George. Like the Donovan stuff a great deal. Have seen images of her work but not in person as yet. Also, i am glad you are adding content to your blog. You should transition off here, perhaps, and expand yours, no? (Keep plugging yours via links and you will build up a steady flow of traffic). I imagine you are headed in that direction. Looking forward to it.

40.

bob ross

March 12, 2006, 7:50 PM

In respect the above comments by Mr. Jack:

Yes, the banishment was applicable ONLY to the roundtable discussion.
It was meant to be a bitter remark against OP, whose opinions about the union between art and ideas drives me nuts.

C'est tres simple.
Enough about that.

41.

Jack

March 12, 2006, 7:59 PM

Went to the Bass today. The entry fee ($8 plus parking cost) is excessive for such a minor league museum, especially if one is familiar with its permanent collection and is only going for a specific show (in my case the Julio Gonzalez). True, there was also an exhibition of Marilyn Monroe photos (seemingly every one ever taken), but I don't happen to have a Famous Dead Sex Goddess / Cultural Icon fixation. I will admit the woman was some serious cheesecake, though.

Anyhow, Julio Gonzalez. I counted 27 sculpture items and 12 drawings (from the Institute of Modern Art of Valencia, Spain), from the 1920s and 30s. There were, of course, iron pieces but more in cast bronze, plus some brass ones. Most were on the small side and rather intimate; the largest was the size of a 13-year-old kid and could fit in a normal house. There was hardly a single weak piece among them.

The drawings were very nice (Gonzalez started as a painter), but the sculptures were exquisite. Strong but never crude or coarse, with an elegance that was both precise and natural, controlled but lyrical, serious and rigorous but never heavy or ponderous. Gonzalez had a lighter and more refined touch than Picasso, whom he taught, and who was rather more exhibitionistic and self-consciously earthy. A wonderful show, an absolute must for anybody serious about sculpture. GO.

42.

Jack

March 12, 2006, 8:10 PM

I finally saw some small pieces by Hernan Bas, I thought they were ok and I'm not gay.

George, I'm not the most reliable authority on what constitutes advanced and correct artspeak, let alone PC talk, but I'm sure you must be out of line somehow. There's gotta be a transgression there somewhere (and not the desirable kind like, you know, the Chapman brothers). It's a good thing you didn't commit such a faux pas on a proper blog.

43.

George

March 12, 2006, 8:21 PM

funny, Jack. PainterNYC has been holding his feet to the fire, gayness seemed to be an issue somehow, I didn't read much of it, but I went to see tha paintings because of the arguments here. They were little ones, a number seemed clotted with paing, heavily worked and dense. I think he is serious and working through his own questions about painting and life. I have yet to see anything bigger and don't have a strong opinion pro or con, they were ok.

44.

oldpro

March 12, 2006, 9:04 PM

it is not "the union" but the lack of union, Bob. I am not saying that paintings these days are not full of "ideas", whatever you mean by it, or for whatever they are worth, but that they have nothing to do with painting as art.

And if it drives you nuts then get back to me about it

45.

bob ross

March 12, 2006, 9:22 PM

You and George have hacked that argument to death.
Ideas=content. REF : Many previous postings.

Art has content, whether intended or not. The purely academic perspective that regards art work solely in formal terms( i/e. balance, composition, color, harmony vs disharmony, etc, all those subjective art academy qualifiers for how works look and how we judge them against their antecedents ) is fractured if seen as strictly independent from what things mean, how we percieve them in terms of our experience, and how they relate to other genres of art (conceptual, installation, performance..etc).
Can we call it a New Formalism? One that insists on a conceptual tight-ness that works in unison with the visual rules?

(wait, wasn't there already a New Formalism?)


Me? Off to the studio. It's later in my time zone than in Miami.

oh, look at Zeno X Gallery in Antwerp to see more Borremans pieces.

46.

oldpro

March 12, 2006, 11:01 PM

Who said anything about content?

47.

ahab

March 12, 2006, 11:20 PM

#38 "Suppose you found a pile of identical pieces of metal at the scrapyard, would you go home with one or a pickup full?"

I'd load my 3/4-ton with a ton of them, if I thought they had visual merit. I might take only a single one if I thought the bunch would be a distraction. I'd take the whole pile just to feed on it (look at it) for a while before returning it all again for more useful material if I felt there was something to be gained by knowing it better. Or maybe just taking a photo if that would convey the good bits better. Or special order another half-dozen truckloads.

Do not simply assume that more is better, because there'll never be enough; which, by the way, would be one more fair criticism of Donovan's work. Why stop there - did she run out of cups or glue or time or what? Christo wouldn't have stopped with such a meager offering, and the minimalists wouldn't have gone so far. Half-measures disguised by the pretense of labour-intensivity: it's specious, like I was saying before.

48.

Jack

March 12, 2006, 11:59 PM

Ahab, let it go. Forget Tada and her cups. It's probably a NY thing anyway. You know, like flapping saffron curtains and such. Big city folks are so jaded they need illusions (or delusions, as the case may be). Lots of bells and whistles and so on. "Oooh, look at all those nickel-plated steel pins held together by friction and gravity only!" You get the idea.

49.

Marc Country

March 13, 2006, 12:17 AM

Ideas=content?

Form=Content.

As I see it, when one talks of an artwork's 'form', or one talks of an artwork's 'content', one is talking about the same thing... only using different vocabulary to describe it.

I guess I should say, when one uses these terms properly....

Of course, people use words all the time without really knowing what they're saying, or what they really mean. Often, people use the word "formalism", as if it has some clear, intelligible meaning, and isn't just a dirty word used to denigrate a viewpoint they don't fully grasp (not to point any fingers here).

50.

George

March 13, 2006, 12:32 AM

Re#47
Ahab, fair enough. We all have different ways of working, different ways of approaching the materials which is why there are different kinds of art around.

I think you are somehow seeing my comment about aggregation as implying more is better, not at all. In a method of working like Donovans, the amount of material, units available, will affect the outcome of the work. She has enough, not enough or too many. The factors of supply can be easily adjusted and the size of the piece was scaled to the room. Within those constraints one might ask why this mound (area) is this high? But that would be equivalent to asking me why this shape is such and why it is blue.

In part, what I find interesting in her work is her process, her selection of materials and how she puts them together. I am viewing this process somewhat abstractly so I can see how it is extendable into other areas, materials, forms etc. I don't want to suggest or see everyone else making sculptures, or paintings, or works in other media all using the same approach. Obviously this would quickly become boring and kill it right away. I think part of the strength of Donovans work is in how she takes a familiar material and uses it in a fresh way.

When artworks becomes generic, and I have to admit, I think a lot of painting is just that, generic, it loses its ability to connect with the viewer. One of the most frustrating things for a young artist is the remark, "it looks like so-n-so", a kind of categorization which prevents the viewer from engaging with the work because they are constantly making a mental comparison with someone else. Now we might argue this doesn't matter if the work is "good". Maybe it doesn't but in actual practice it works against the artist.

Fashion in the artworld is a two edged sword. On one hand it elevates all work with a similar appearance to some level of prominence. This occurs somewhat indiscriminately and allows the artists to show their stuff. Fashion, being fickle is prone to changing suddenly. When this occurs, it is the work and artists which have been able to produce something convincing, which seem able to remain in the public view, even as a new "fashion" comes into effect. If one doesn't like this or that style ones response is poo-poo, and if one happens to prefer a particular style one thinks "great", of course just until the next one comes along.

This ebb and flow of fashion, style, tastes, whatever you call it has always been a characteristic of the artworld. At the current time it is more poly-morphic and more intense because we have a pluralistic set of styles driven by a lot of money. This has the affect of overextending the attention given to lesser artworks within any given mode. As a result, a lot of attention gets paid to art which is not really convincing. However, if you think of other periods in recent art history I think you will see the same thing, just on a smaller scale. I don't think there is much which can be done about this but a slowdown in the artmarket will have an affect.

So my observations on Donovans work were presented with the idea that I think she is making fresh, interesting work which I find worth looking at. When I look at another painters work, I'm thinking to myself "well this is interesting, a nice handling of this problem but I don't like the way that is handled" For me it is either a learning experience or an outright dismissal.

I pay no attention at all to personalities, I just look at the work, it's interesting or not. But. I really make an effort to allow myself to have an open mind and try to see if there is something occurring in the work that is interesting and possibly useful to me personally.

With Donovans work, there is something about her approach which I find interesting, I don't want to make work like hers but I like her attitude. On the other hand, while I thought the Filomeno things at Marianne Boesky were fantastically produced and super slick, they expressed an attitude which I have no interest in exploring or even thinking about. Although another artist will obviously see this differently what is important is first having an open mind towards the work and second, deciding if there is anything relevant there. For me, looking is always a learning experience.

51.

ahab

March 13, 2006, 12:53 AM

The J. Gonzalez exhibit sounds really great, jaded-Jack. Though generally his works exude a little master-craftsman showoff, artiness and touch, they still make me want to run to the studio, as oldpro likes to say. They make we want to learn to forge iron and cast bronze and everything between. They make me wish I had more time, money, and assistants. Maybe more really is better.

52.

jordan

March 13, 2006, 3:38 AM

Is it really easier to give than get? Damn, I'm on the wrong planet then.

Booremans paintings have a spooky quality - something similar to El Greco. I lost contact with reality in a room of them at the National Gallery - El Greco that is.
I've never quite figured out the relationship between El Greco and Pollock - stylistically rhythmic perhapes?
Oldpro is it the lack of color in Booreman's paintings that you find depressing?
What I find to be of quality is his drawing turned to paint approach - something that I find that John sanchez is handling quite well. I tend to look at edges of forms a lot in paintings as drawing to me is about edges. I don't mean framing edges literally, or as how Olitzky treated physical edges, but internal edges. This issue is a consistant problem for me - pictorially, how one thing is placed or butts-up to another thing. Content is easiest, design is easy, effect is hardest. This of course is a taste dilemma.

Meesey and I will still put shows together if the opportunity arises, just not with the inclusion of students.

53.

oldpro

March 13, 2006, 8:09 AM

It is easier for most people to take than to give, Jordan. As for Booremans, it is hard to isolate what I find depressing, especially because, as I indicated, that quality may be very personal, something I perceive for my own reasons. I believe it is something about the way they are painted, something to do with a sense f being clogged, lacking freshness.

Marc #49 you are right that content and form are the same thing, of course. As the language stands now we have no choice but to make them equivalent. Because we do not have much specificity in art critical terms people will make statements using words like "form" and "content" and, in Bob's case, "ideas", with little idea of what they are really talking about.

54.

8:51

March 13, 2006, 8:51 AM

Finally saw some small pieces by Hernan Bas, I thought they were ok and I'm not gay.
Another homophobic!

55.

J.T. Kirkland

March 13, 2006, 9:37 AM

Ahab,

I've been trying to follow your critique of Donovan's work. In #28, you said, "And contrived because from the same blueprint she worked from anyone else could make one too." Is this really a part of your critique? I thought we've all moved past the "I could do that" criticism of artwork.

I find fault, though less fault, with some of your other critiques, but I wanted to point this one out. Can you elaborate on your complaint here and also provide some thoughts on how your work could not be made if provided a blueprint (and welding skills, of course)? I just want to understand where you're coming from here.

Thanks!

56.

George

March 13, 2006, 9:38 AM

Re#54-8:51

not

57.

Jack

March 13, 2006, 9:49 AM

See, George? I told you you'd get busted.

58.

oldpro

March 13, 2006, 10:04 AM

Donovan is clearly an artist on the way up. She is taking formal methods that were well worked into the mainstream when Eva Hess was using them 40 years ago, slicked them up mercilessly and made them nice and big. They look like art is supposed to look, with nothing new, rich or interesting about them.

I don't see how anyone with an eye who looks a lot of current art can get too excited about them. To my eye they are cotton candy.

59.

ahab

March 13, 2006, 12:02 PM

JT. It should be sufficient to say "I don't buy it", but I bothered to go on and guess why and now I must account for it. I'm going to stick my fake foot in my mouth any second now so might as well get started.

With very little mental anguish I can work backwards to know, with a small margin of error, how the cloud piece might have been conceived and built. (This is not to say that I presume anything at all about who T. Donovan is or what her story might be.) Whatever might've been good about hotgluing styrocups together to begin with has suffered in the end from blandishment. A very nice photo of the thing is sufficient for me.

Like most other Donovan pieces, "cloud of cups in a room" doesn't require much: cups, glue, maybe some fishing line and a rooom - simple can be good. It appears to me, however, that the thing does not require Tara Donovan. Yet it insistently screams, "How creative! However did she do that?" By a play of light and a trick of basic engineering, it overwhelms any questions as to how it might be made better. It is merely a reification of an idea, I just don't buy it.

No one can plan for the kinds of happy accidents I keep my eyes peeled for. Because of the constant course changes in the development of a sculpture in my studio, it cannot be reconstructed or serialized by simply working backwards or following a step by step instruction manual. Here comes the taste of toes...I could fake a Donovan (though I wouldn't bother); she could not fake a Willms (though I'd like to see her try).

60.

J.T. Kirkland

March 13, 2006, 12:10 PM

Many of the world's greatest paintings have been forged. So well, in fact, that I propose many of us would not be able to tell the difference if we were to see them in person.

Does that then mean the "real" paintings hold no value just because someone else can do them?

And to say that you can backtrack to see how the piece was conceived, that may be true, but that does not generate the concept.

I can't help but think of the current riff about the recently discovered "Pollock" paintings. Either way that works out, some "expert" is going to be wrong. Given that, do we move to strike Jackson Pollock from the Art History books?

61.

ahab

March 13, 2006, 12:27 PM

It's what she did with the concept, J.T. Kirkland, that I find so dissatisfactory. Or rather, what she didn't do. The thing could've been better in so many different ways that I find it to be half-measure or an incomplete thought.

If a fake Willms were better to look at than an original then copyists should be hired to churn them out. "What would make it better?" is one right question; and if the answer is, "nothing", you may (maybe) be onto something good. "Is it real?" is a red herring.

62.

George

March 13, 2006, 12:40 PM

re: #59
I could fake a Donovan (though I wouldn't bother); she could not fake a Willms (though I'd like to see her try).

I suppose this might be true but it requires that one knows about Donovans work beforehand. In retrospect, because one knows the work, can disassemble its construction and comprehend its concept it might be possible to construct a similar piece. I could say the same about someone else, say a sculptor like John McCracken whose work can be comprehend in concept and reproduced. I won't argue against the merits of work which is arrived at throughy an exploratory personal sensibility but I would not want to suggest this is the only valid method of making something.

In the previous comment by OP said she is taking formal methods that were well worked into the mainstream when Eva Hess was using them 40 years ago and to that I would say "progress" Moreover, I might then pause and consider the same general criticism directed towards other work mining the vein of any other historically established artist, say Anthony Caro. I wouldn't, but the analogy is there.

63.

Franklin

March 13, 2006, 1:26 PM

Whether a motif has been worked up before is a side-issue. I think the fair criticism against Donovan is that her work elicits that "how'd she do it" response before anything else, particularly with the cube of pins. Maybe creators are especially susceptible to this.

Bob - if you're saying that the formal approach is the academic one, you haven't been in academia for a while. I otherwise agree with you that narrative and intellectual ideas has been coming back into art for the last several decades, largely because art has carried the human story for too long to give up on doing so, and that content needs to be dealt with on its own terms. I would just add that the art has to have its formal chops together first before anything else qualifies for discussion. Let's not call it anything and see what happens.

64.

oldpro

March 13, 2006, 1:36 PM

I dont think Ahab presented his point that clearly. As I understand it he is really talking about replicating a process rather than a work of art and he is placing primary value on what he describes in "No one can plan for the kinds of happy accidents I keep my eyes peeled for. Because of the constant course changes in the development of a sculpture in my studio, it cannot be reconstructed or serialized by simply working backwards or following a step by step instruction manual. " I think the "faking" issue is a red herring.

Now anyone can say, well, what you makes you think that method is better than any other, and that would possibly ignite a long and fruitful discussion, or maybe not. The real question is whether really good art can be made without the procedure he describes. he implies that it cannot, or that it is unlikely. I agree with this.

George, my criticism of Donovan was contained in the suceeding part of the section you quoted. There is nothing wrong, in itself, with using procedures from 40 or 400 years ago. "Mining the vein" of Caro can be particularly fruitful because of his great originality and because he started so much that has not been finished. (He himself was accused of a lack of originality when he syarted making metal sculpture). The same could be said of an artist like Clyfford Still, who started something in painting that has not even proceeded beyond the primitive stages, not even by Still himself.

65.

J.T. Kirkland

March 13, 2006, 1:43 PM

Ahab,

I think I now see what your true critique is. I'm glad it's not the "I can do that" critique.

Franklin,

"I think the fair criticism against Donovan is that her work elicits that "how'd she do it" response before anything else..."

Perhaps that is true for you. For me it is not. I think that response to her work exists but you state it as fact. I think you'd agree that it's not necessarily the case for everyone. And for those to whom it does not apply, it's not a valid critique of her work.

66.

George

March 13, 2006, 2:14 PM

re #64 OP, OK but I was more interested in the remark I quoted as a generalized analogy rather than viewing it as a criticism of Donovans work. You clarified your position for me in comment #64.

I am less interested in the merits of Donovans work, I realize that different artists will have a different response, for me it was fun and interesting to see and I'll leave it to that. What I find more interesting is the response by others here. I think ahab is making interesting work and the "happy accident" remark is an illuminating comment on his process. At the same time I cannot imagine that TD or any other sculptor doesn't have the same type of experiences occurring in some other part of their working process. While it is probably true, that at any given point in time some, works may be conceived in the "whole" and then executed. I still suspect these moments are more likely the result of the "happy accident" experience in some earlier stage of development. As a result, the question may be centered on whether or not the "happy accident" is central to the finished work or whether it occurs in an earlier part of the process and is not a central aspect of the work. I have known artists which work both ways and I suspect this is more an issue of personality than anything else.

I am personally more interested in investigation, works which come into existence more in a manner Ahab would advocate, works where the start and the end are not predetermined and then executed. At the same time I am willing to consider other approaches even if just as a conceptual exercise which might lead to an unanticipated "happy accident" This is the primary reason I stuck with this discussion for so long, I never expected to change anyone's mind, just to stir up the thinking process a bit.

Also, following up on JTK's comment #65. I agree, at least for the piece I saw at Pace, I never asked myself the question "how did she do it" For the works in reproduction, this information is hidden without seeing the actual work so it is not an issue.

67.

oldpro

March 13, 2006, 4:06 PM

Nevertheless, the interesting question remains whether conceiving a work in the whole before executing it limits the esthetic quality of the finished work. My experience tells me it does. I don't imagine this can be answered satisfactorially but it is worth working on.

As for Donovan I don't think her work involves much backing and filling or revisions or "happy accidents:" It looks like art the formation of which was 95% "in the air" before she even planned it.

68.

mek

March 13, 2006, 7:26 PM

interesting how a whole round up of sorts ended up focused on trashing tara donovan's legitimacy.

this may clarify some speculation:

TD:
In creating sculptural installations, I develop systems based on the physical properties and structural capabilities of a singular, accumulated material. These homogeneous systems often mimic those that govern the growth of the biological, architectural and technological structures to which my work makes frequent aesthetic allusions. I choose materials already identified with a basic functional purpose. Beginning with an open experimental approach, I calculate the physical properties of the material such as texture, density, mass, and size that will eventually give rise to a structure or unit when accumulated. Once established, this unit is then reproduced according to given spatial conditions and collected in various ways to discover how it behaves visually in a population. I give particular attention to patterning, configuration, and light absorption/reflection in deciding how to then unify that population, but the final form evolves organically from the material itself via its innate properties and structure. Installed specifically for each exhibition space, these forms function as fields of visual activity that reveal distinctive characteristics with each shifting viewpoint.



Born in Queens, in 1969, Tara Donovan grew up in Nyack, New York, and attended the School of Visual Arts in the City before earning her B.F.A. from the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington D.C., in 1991. She was awarded her M.F.A. in sculpture in 1999 from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Donovan relies on accumulation and repetition when fabricating her installations. Selecting a single, familiar form that has a specific function, she endows it with new life as she amasses thousands of the objects together in rolling topographical configurations. Conceptual in nature, Donovan’s work depends on and yet defies its own physical properties.

Donovan is the recipient of grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The Joan Mitchell Foundation, and The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation: The Space Program. In 2001, she won The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Competition and she is the 2003 Augustus Saint Gaudens Memorial-Sculpture Fellow. Donovan was invited to participate in the 1999 Whitney Biennial and that same year had a solo exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Hemicycle Gallery in Washington. Her most recent work was featured in a solo exhibition at Ace Gallery, New York, from March through July 2003.

69.

Franklin

March 13, 2006, 7:49 PM

Actually, Mek, it ended in speculation about whether planning things out in advance helps or hinders one's art. But it's interesting that you perceived it as trashing Donovan's legitimacy. Where does that come from, I wonder?

70.

Franklin

March 13, 2006, 7:58 PM

Conceptual in nature, Donovan’s work depends on and yet defies its own physical properties.

Now, there's a sentence that needs a whuppin'.

71.

mek

March 13, 2006, 8:07 PM

Actually that was your point, frankin.
Here's what other's had to say, and the rational for my comment. Hope this helps.

ahab:
I expect a lot more from a fellow sculptor than what Donovan is showing.

ahab:
A cubic form filled with pins or toothpicks. Water poured in. Maybe a special chemical solution. Frozen. Form removed. Thawed. Tada!

Jack:
Really, Ahab, give Tada her due. She would appear to be a fairly talented stage-set designer, as well as a pretty nifty gimmickmeister.

ahab:
I can just think of numerous natural structures that achieve a much higher degree of visual impact - I'd rather check out the mineral display at the Museum of Natural History, or the growth of lichens on the desert floor, for example. Donovan's synthetic and contrived accretions presume to mimic such natural processes, and dumb down the wonder of geologic phenomena to an overly simplified illustration of the same.

jack:
..Forget Tada and her cups. It's probably a NY thing anyway. You know, like flapping saffron curtains and such. Big city folks are so jaded they need illusions (or delusions, as the case may be). Lots of bells and whistles and so on. "Oooh, look at all those nickel-plated steel pins held together by friction and gravity only!" You get the idea.

oldpro:
...nothing new, rich or interesting about them.
I don't see how anyone with an eye who looks a lot of current art can get too excited about them. To my eye they are cotton candy.

72.

Jack

March 13, 2006, 8:13 PM

Proposed new Artblog motto:

If we don't question someone's legitimacy often enough, we're not doing our job.

73.

Franklin

March 13, 2006, 8:23 PM

Actually that was your point, frankin.

No, Mek, it was Oldpro's, #67: Nevertheless, the interesting question remains whether conceiving a work in the whole before executing it limits the esthetic quality of the finished work. My experience tells me it does. I don't imagine this can be answered satisfactorially but it is worth working on.

I personally have no interest in Donovan's legitimacy, whatever that means. I'm interested in whether her art works, to what degree, and why or why not.

74.

oldpro

March 13, 2006, 8:26 PM

She is obviously as legitimate as all get-out. All that stellar Bio material cetainly proves that.

She needs a little less legitimacy and a little more talent.

75.

Georgio

March 14, 2006, 12:33 AM

Womans
Art
Still
Threatens
Men

76.

ahab

March 14, 2006, 12:42 AM

#64: "I dont think Ahab presented his point that clearly."

Yeah, I was all over the place. Thanks for tidying up after me.

#68: "...trashing tara donovan's legitimacy."

By no means. I may have been hard on the alleged sculpture, but I made no disparaging remarks about the artist. Not one. I hadn't read Donovan's bio and statement, but it seems that my comments regarding her sources and processes pretty much hit the mark anyway.

#66: "...works where the start and the end are not predetermined and then executed." & #67: "...whether conceiving a work in the whole before executing it limits the esthetic quality of the finished work."

A thing that is made from a plan is said to have been designed. It has a legitimate place in the world, known variously as graphic-, industrial-, fashion-, interior-, architectural-, or any number of other sorts of design. The person who designs something for a design application is called a designer. There are good designs and bad designs, which, oddly, no one ever takes issue with. Donovan's installation is more a kind of design than a kind of art: would it even qualify as good design?

77.

ahab

March 14, 2006, 12:44 AM

Sorry about the tag, I thought I'd try it, and I thought I closed it, but obviously not. Sorry Franklin you've gotta fix me up again.

78.

Georgio

March 14, 2006, 1:10 AM

Oh my, designing women, swoon. I am certainly destined to infiltrate this sauce of sensuality, my sole source of solitude, she sets single signs, salient signals sounding salacious sonnets, silent songs selling single sets, sensation sweeping sideways starting south, swoop, swirl, stall, strained speed settles swift, slower spells, sudden slides, so soon so slow, stop, saying suspect, say suspect, saying so sing this song.

79.

Franklin

March 14, 2006, 7:00 AM

Four unclosed tags, Ahab! You trying to kill me? Just kidding. Remember that closing tags have forward slashes, eg, i closes with /i. When in doubt, preview.

Georgio - re: #75, I was actually waiting for Mek to say something like that. Re: #78: Make sense.

80.

oldpro

March 14, 2006, 7:39 AM

Gender has nothing to do with it, Georgio, if Donovan's art was a "threat" I would be in my studio right now anxiously trying to cope with it.

81.

ahab

March 14, 2006, 10:06 AM

Thanks for the lesson. Do I have to do community service to make reparation for my ignorant use of tags?

82.

Marc Country

March 14, 2006, 9:27 PM

What does "Womans Art" mean, exactly?

83.

Marc Country

March 23, 2006, 10:21 PM

To help clear up some ongoing confusion, I've recently posted a short Greenberg excerpt, On "Content" and "Relevance"... , dedicated to George, on the NESW blog.

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