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The art world must be resting roundup

Post #932 • January 5, 2007, 10:45 AM • 39 Comments

CultureGrrl reports on the new ICA, and why it might be prudent to walk about it with your hands extended for the time being.

Typographic pinups. (DF)

A big production by and Roberta Smith about art depicting artists at work, interactive feature and all.

Soon after I arrived in Boston I had lunch with Matt Nash, who took me down to Green Street Gallery, installed in the eponymous Orange Line stop. Cate McQuaid reports that the space has been taken over by AXIOM. Best wishes to them.

Huzzah! An Event Apart is coming to Boston!

A time-lapse movie of a Picasso painting in progress, with explanation by Tinselman. (Kottke)

Department of Skills: You're on deadline, and your job is to come up with a newspaper headline for a profile of Damian Woetzel, principal with the New York City Ballet, and a graduate student pursuing a public administration degree at Harvard's JFK School of Government. Give it some thought, and see if you came up with something better than this.




January 5, 2007, 11:26 AM

Resting? Why, Franklin, are you possibly forgetting Art Miami, currently in progress? I'm surprised at you. I suppose this is what happens when people move to Boston and forget their roots.



January 5, 2007, 11:59 AM

You're going, right, Jack?



January 5, 2007, 12:44 PM

Well, just so you know, I got an official Art Miami VIP packet in the mail and have free access to everything (along with probably the entire population of Dade County). If the weather's nice this weekend and I go by Lincoln Road to try out Pizza Rustica, which I heard is very good, I may make a side trip to the Convention Center and flash my VIP card.



January 5, 2007, 2:26 PM

it is interesting to look at the picasso video and stop at different time intervals to see which frame you like best.


david rohn

January 6, 2007, 9:43 AM

Wennt to Art Miami on thurs-we did a intervention/performance as rich euro-colllectoru (With Adora as Francoise and me as Frederic De Fricassee-we only spoke in French(sincce we both had lived in Paris-arranged thru Damien B Gallery-) Well they are more receptive to artists being involved than Art Basel is. But it was pretty quietand including many galleries from Latin America and the Caribbean Basin. it was a very different fair -lots of labels suggesting mmuch lower prices than the other fair-but the art realy isn t nearly as good -no surpprise I guess-Maybe they should move it to March it s so close to Basel that it s just dwarfed by Baasel



January 6, 2007, 11:05 AM

Baa-sel, where the sheep go to be fleeced.



January 6, 2007, 11:16 AM

Maybe "Baa-sell" is better. Art Baasell.



January 6, 2007, 11:21 AM

You got it, OP. I don't suppose the Newsweek guy has been spotted at Art Miami. Not enough of a promotional opportunity, I guess.



January 6, 2007, 10:02 PM

Went to Art Miami. It's hard to resist using a "VIP" pass that lets one in free, and I wanted to go to Lincoln Road anyhow (Pizza Rustica is a great deal, especially in that location. Check it out).

Anyway, since I was expecting little or nothing artwise, I could hardly be disappointed. As it happens, Art Miami has improved somewhat compared to the past several years. That's not saying much, but it's something. Blatant schlock is less overbearingly pervasive; there's not as much embarrassing stuff like glass doo-dads (though still too much for my taste--I'm still having Othoniel-at-MOCA flashbacks), and, most importantly, there's some stuff actually worth seeing.

Nearly all of the latter is by famous names, but I'll take it. Some of it was quite unexpected at this fair. A small semi-abstract 1915 still life of fish by Renoir was a treat; the old guy still had something left to offer in terms of color, paint handling and composition. A bracing little Pissarro etching of Montmartre (1865); another etching by Rembrandt of King David praying, very small but compelling; some terrific Picasso minotaur etchings from the 1930s. There were some good or at least interesting works on paper by Frankenthaler, Motherwell, Hans Hofmann, Diebenkorn and even Jasper Johns.

I'll try to post some pictures or links tomorrow.



January 7, 2007, 12:09 AM

Yes, post pix. Sounds interesting.



January 7, 2007, 12:20 PM

This will be a little messy, but I'm at a weird PC setup, and I'm not a computer geek. OK, here's the Renoir (the repro image looks somewhat overexposed or blanched out; the real thing is warmer or richer in coloring):



January 7, 2007, 12:22 PM

A Diebenkorn on paper:



January 7, 2007, 12:28 PM

A Renoir etching:



January 7, 2007, 12:30 PM

A Pissarro etching:



January 7, 2007, 7:18 PM

That Pisarro etching is a gem.



January 7, 2007, 7:18 PM

Some more images of works seen at Art Miami:

Horst Antes pastel:

Hans Hoffmann watercolor (1943):

Tomare Bearden collage:

Rembrandt etching:

Picasso etching:


first three letters from my last name

January 7, 2007, 7:30 PM

Why is it that the Art Miami show has been reduced to an academic stance with art? Is this view regarded as somewhat elitist or is it that most of the artists are beyond 30 years of age? Does that make them less valuable - I think not but academia comes into play at art Miami as is does in many other shows/art events. Why is Art Basel so "Hot"? If 'Art' is purely about marketing then why should anyone beyond the military/porn age of 18 do anything at all ? Has anyone ever seen "Logans Run" - "run runner"...



January 7, 2007, 8:10 PM

Art Miami appears to be in the process of "upgrading," possibly along the lines of Basel Lite. The Latin element has been de-emphasized, though it's still present. The really, really ghastly dreck has been decreased (though not eliminated). There's a lot more stuff like Wesselmann and Baldessari around, for what that's worth. Generally, the whole thing was significantly less of an embarrassment than it's been the past several years. It's not the best imaginable solution, but at least somebody figured out the fair had become too much of a joke and did something about it.

P.S. The Bearden above is an Annunciation (there was a better one but I couldn't get an image). The Rembrandt is King David praying.



January 7, 2007, 8:40 PM

The strange thing seems to be the subjective element to the Latin art esthetic (without the 'A') in that it seams to be hallucination based stuff. This is what I've seen in the past 10 years. This is bad art to me. Rich people don't make good art - period.



January 7, 2007, 8:51 PM

Surrealism has a tenacious hold on Latin American painting, and I've never understood why. They have a rich (and frankly more fruitful) magic realist literary tradition and I've wondered the two are related.



January 7, 2007, 8:53 PM

The Renoir has that fatal smudginess and hesitation of his later work. The etching is nice. I am not a big fan of the later "Ocean Park" type Diebenkorns but this one is strong & handsome and probably made most else look bad. The Pissarro is the best of the lot, as everyone seems to agree.

What do you mean by "academic", first three? Art done by people over 30? Gosh, that takes me back to 1965 hippiedom all over again!

And, Mas, "Rich people don't make good art"? So, Latins are rich? Or, Only poor people make good art? These sound like the far-out "resolved thats..." of a college debating club.



January 7, 2007, 9:36 PM

In my opinion, academic involves a sort of mannered sensibility - something contrived. There are some damn good talented painters that make Sante Fe paintings for instance, why is that a thing ?



January 7, 2007, 10:05 PM

There were also some good Karel Appel works on paper, not the typical CoBrA stuff, but more like straightforward abstraction (couldn't get images). In #16 above, I meant Romare Bearden (hate typos).

On a separate note, some of you may like a big, very handsomely mounted show of the work of Carlos Alfonzo at the Freedom Tower (600 Biscayne Blvd.), which has a terrific exhibition space on the second floor (I'd never been there before). Alfonzo came from Cuba on the Mariel boatlift in 1980 and died of AIDS in 1991. His work combines Cubist, Expressionist and Symbolist elements. There are definite echoes of early Pollock, for instance. I found the work (paper, canvas and sculptures) quite interesting and fairly strong, certainly serious work. The remaining show times are as follows:

Jan. 19-21, noon-5
Jan. 26-28, noon-5

The show is free, and I think it's worth seeing.



January 7, 2007, 10:14 PM

The Renoir still life, by the way, is quite small, a kind of bagatelle, and I found it charming. It would be perfect in a certain kind of apartment. The coloring is richer and more subtle than in the reproduced image.



January 7, 2007, 10:55 PM

What I mean Opie is that when you and other faculty at U.M. sent us to the grove to look at art, what was there was drug induced art made by rich South Americans. What can I say, this is the factual truth, and I have seen it time and again here. What is this phenomenon ? I'm not saying that this is bad, just that the work is tranparently drug induced for the most part, and that rich people can afford to take drugs and impose their unconscious will into/unto the planet for their peers to buy and for others to promote. They as artists are supposed to be cool but are not aware of their own personally sensitive parameters when 'messed-up'. Look at the work at "Rafael Perez Hernando" gallery in Madrid for instance - trendy, yes perhapes, but not drug art and yet very Latin. As a mater of fact my favourite painters are Latin; go to the "Prado" and you will see what I mean: Goya, Picasso, Velezquez... The best painters of Europe are there and I only wish that our country would appreciate painting as much as Spainiards and Europeans in general do. Americans for-the-most-part, are too busy thinking about how to fuck someone over for their personal benefit and rip a dollar off of each ones ass. I've even had (supposed) friends do this to me and this is how I have learned that this is the way. Here, every one is a dollar, a number, and a hole to push into. My Isreali/German Professor at the University of Windsor once said to me: " Women and Artist are allways getting fucked".
Whomever has used my name for ridicule on this Blog will be sought out...



January 7, 2007, 11:35 PM

Sent you to the Grove to look at South American Art made by rich people? You are hallucinating, mas.

Alfonso was serious, Jack, and pretty good. He never got the attention much inferior painters like Bedia got. We gave him a show at the New Gallery about 15 years ago, if I remember correctly.



January 8, 2007, 12:22 AM

I meant to say the Gables gel painter.


Bunny Smedley

January 8, 2007, 4:01 AM

Isn't part of the point about the prevalence of surrealism / 'hallucinations' in Latin American painting simply that much of this work still acknowledges a lineage binding it to a great tradition of Mannerist and then Baroque religious painting that always had a strong 'literary' element, embraced fantastic imagery, and laid claim to a significance centred more on spiritual and emotive force than on the sort of visual harmony that already mattered a lot in, say, the explicitly devotional art of someone like Poussin? It's there in the great work of the Mexican muralists, although the Anglophone world is, I guess, used to seeing that through the lens of the more abstract work derived from it on Manhattan Island and places adjoining, rather than in its original, highly literary and literal-minded context. So the problem may be that if we don't buy the religious or emotional or cultural baggage piled up behind it, some Latin American art becomes a lot harder to appreciate, because it doesn't care much about doing what some of us may want 'Art' to do.

And as for the idea that rich people don't make good art - well, that leaves the Burgundian court of the 14th and 15th centuries, the Low Countries in the 17th century, and the America of the 1940s and 50s rather hard to explain, doesn't it?



January 8, 2007, 9:34 AM

Your point about the source and derivation of the character and content we see in Latrin American art is well taken, Bunny, but I tend to be much less fair-minded than you.

Surrealism in the last century was largely a French development and persisted alongside the art that did "what some of us want art to do" through the 30s and 40s and shows up all over today in somewhat different form. I think it is less a national characteristic than an outgrowth, or strain, of art by people who just don't understand art every well.

It manifests as the"Dali" phenomenon among my non-art-major students; to them "art" consists not of making a better picture but of introducing a lot of recognizeably fantastic, distorted, weird, "imaginative" twists on reality. Latins seem to dwell on this excessively right now, but every curture has its own favorite kinds of bad art. That's theirs.

I think Mas was not talking about rich "peoples" but actual rich people, as in "if you are a rich person you can't make good art". It does not appear to be very well thought through.

And Mas, I still don't know what youare talking about. What "Gables gel painter"?


gel ideas

January 8, 2007, 11:17 AM

Bethea, maybe?



January 8, 2007, 11:18 AM

Bethea, maybe?



January 8, 2007, 11:27 AM

The Alfonzo show, which covers 1980-91, is about as comprehensive as one is likely to see of his work. The space as such is quite impressive, very large and very white, perhaps deliberately meant to evoke a clinical setting. The work is very focused and concentrated, ending with what amount to dark paintings in the Goya sense. Alfonzo was, of course, fatally ill and knew it, and apparently kept working pretty much to the end. This is not "Cuban" or "Latin" stuff for a particular audience; it's just very serious work, and it happens to be quite good, much of it done on a heroic scale.

You should go, OP. Next to this, something like the recent Vik Muniz extravaganza at MAM looks like third-rate Saturday morning TV cartoon fare.



January 8, 2007, 11:40 AM

Thanks, Jack

Mas or Gellish or whatever, if you want to say something, say it. Otherwise you are just clogging up the page.



January 8, 2007, 1:33 PM

Well, even though I didn’t go to Art Miami, I noticed that the tackiest surrealist painting was done by an American artist. It bothered me that this painting was the main attraction at the fair. It was covered in the local news, on Yahoo and even in today’s NYT.

I agree with Jack about the Carlos Alfonso exhibit. I went twice and planning to go again with my students. It was my first time inside the building since 1976 when it was still used as an immigration office. On my second visit, I was lucky to join a tour offered by his main collector Mr. Loumiet. This show opened during Art Basel and you can still visit during the week by appointment.



January 8, 2007, 1:41 PM

Re the Alfonzo show, no prior appointment is needed if you go during the weekend hours I posted above. You just walk into the lobby, sign a log book for the security guard, and take the elevator to the second floor.



January 8, 2007, 1:46 PM

And yes, Mystified, I glanced at the Jolie painting and thought it was a weak, trite joke (as if we don't get enough of the woman and her kind at the supermarket checkout counter). However, given our culture's absurd obsession with celebrities, the media attention is hardly a surprise.



January 8, 2007, 1:53 PM

Yes, but the only days I can take my students are on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I was told to make an appointment if I was unable to visit during the weekend.



January 8, 2007, 4:51 PM

I should add that Alfonzo's work does not reproduce well, or rather, reproduction tends to dilute and diminish it. The canvas pieces are the best, and their scale is important to the perception of the work, as well as nuances of color and paint texture which need to be seen in person. The setting provided by this particular venue is very supportive and enhances the pieces, probably more so than any space I know of in Miami could have done.



January 8, 2007, 5:49 PM

True. The images did not reproduce well in this exhibition’s catalog. I have the catalog from MAM’s exhibition (few years ago) and the images came out better. The great thing about this show is not only the paintings but also the sculptures; shown for the first time.

In addition, the space is beautiful. Too bad that Terra Group is planning to build a building behind the tower and demolish part of it.



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