Monday, April 30, 2012

Robert de St. Phalle

Robert de St. Phalle on Thursday!

Here is an interesting project...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Artforum forum on Painting: Thick and Thin

Please post your chosen quote(s) from the forum and tell us why you thought it was interesting and relevant!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to Make It in the Art World

A lot of fun reading here, and some good demystifying of the New York art world.  Can you imagine becoming part of this?  Do you plan to try?

Hennessey Youngman at Family Business

Many of you are fans of Henessey Youngman and will be excited to learn about his new show.  It's just unfortunate that you missed his open call for art...

"Last month, Jayson Musson, an artist best known for his YouTube ­performances as the droll hip-hop art critic Hennessy Youngman (“a.k.a. the pedagogic pimp”), issued an open call for a show at a tiny storefront called Family Business that had just opened amid the grand name-brand galleries of Chelsea. “Anyone, and I mean anyone, bring their work down. Bring the fucking family couch,” he said. “Bring big-ass paintings, little-ass paintings, things you painted in 1998 which is ugly as fuck … you got big-ass sculpture you want to show that won’t fit through the door, bring it down and we’ll just cut that bitch in half and reattach it when it’s back inside.”

Monday, April 23, 2012

Iva Gueorguieva on Thursday!

Los Angeles based painter Iva Gueorguieva will speak in the series on Thursday, April 26.  Here is an article and a review that will give you a sense of her painting practice.  Please note, students enrolled in ART 485 are assigned an additional reading on painting that will be circulated over email!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Makode Linde

Forget Damien Hirst, this is actually interesting.  A cake that draws attention to genital mutilation.  And the the Swedish culture minister's participation as a stand in for colonial power.  Makode Linde is doing some provocative stuff.  Hirst's fascination with the macabre looks like solipsistic indulgence by comparison.  Oughtn't art in fact mean something? 

More Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst's retrospective is now at the Tate Modern in Britain, and the Guardian has some interesting features on aspects of his work.  The butterflies have always been one of my favorite of Hirst's "media," if that term applies.

He discusses making the platinum and diamond skull here.

I am weary of Hirst.  Doesn't it seem like the art world sort of forces us to acknowledge and discuss his work?  If there is enough money involved, you can't tune it out.  Sort of like Mitt Romney.

Art and "Taste"?

What does it mean to have good taste, or bad taste?  What does "taste" have to do with art--good or bad?  I am confused.

When Bad Is Good | ARTnews

I do love a quote from Paddy Johnson in this article on Thomas Kinkade:  "most contemporary art is allowed to look like total garbage, so long as the concept is solid."


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Larry Bell on Thursday!

Folks, you have to admit that we have an interesting Visiting Artist series!  It's about to get more interesting.  Larry Bell is coming on Thursday.  He will do studio visits with our grads and a discussion with our BFAs, as usual, but his assistant has asked if he can bring his 80 lb. bulldog PINKY on these studio visits.  I wonder if PINKY will attend the talk as well.

Anyway, please acquaint yourself with this major artist.  Read Tyler Green's recent post on Bell, but also listen to the Modern Art Notes podcast that he links to.

Friday, April 13, 2012

More Edgar Arceneaux

I'm so glad to hear from a number of you that you loved Edgar Arceneaux' talk!  I wanted also to share these links with you.  I didn't want to circulate these before his visit so as not to overshadow his time here.  It was clear from his talk that Arceneaux' work is conceptually complex and invites prolonged, thoughtful engagement.  And he didn't even talk about other critically acclaimed recent works, including "Alchemy of Comedy...Stupid" (that I saw at the 2008 Whitney Biennial) or "The Algorithm Doesn't Love You.

Anyway, you might be interested to learn about the current situation at the Watts House Project, as told in an LA Times story dated April 8.  But also be sure to read the articulate response by Sue Bell Yank that puts in perspective what might be going on.  Artists engaged in social practice can take risks and have much more at stake than a solitary individual accountable only to oneself; the WHP involved negotiating with powerful people and bureaucracies, as well as gaining the trust and involvement of residents.,0,117418.story

Monday, April 9, 2012

Edgar Arceneaux on Thursday!

Edgar Arceneaux will speak on Thursday at 7pm in HFA 257.  Please note location.

Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light

Thomas Kinkade died a few days ago.

I first learned of this from Martha Rosler's facebook feed.  She selected this quote from the obit:
He read classic books but also enjoyed shooting and blowing up things on his ranch.
This phrase stuck with me.  To me, there is a sense of violence underlying the idea of Kinkade, whose "artistic philosophy was not to express himself through his paintings like many artists, but rather to give the masses what they wanted: warm, positive images."  Kinkade, painter of light (a thinly veiled reference to a kind of divine imperative), painted nostalgic, picturesque scenes--Disneyesque landscapes merged with pastoral views of America.  Some of his work was produced in conjunction with Disney and includes Bambi and friends romping about in saccharine landscapes, always with rainbows.  He spawned a cottage industry surrounding his painterly oeuvre that included a brisk business in reproductions, including reproductions highlighted by assistants that are a kind of hybrid between originals and copies.  But what is truly fascinating, to me, is the collaboration with housing developers (at the height of the mid-decade housing boom) who created planned communities that bring to life Kinkade's paintings, with faux tudor details, pretend wilderness, fountains, etc.  These are not just paintings, they are an outlook, a philosophy, a way of life.
Why violence?  It seems to me that there is a kind of violence associated with the nostalgic denial of the realities of contemporary life.  The fanaticism surrounding Kinkade seems rooted in myths of America as a pristine, pastoral place--far from the realities of global warming and the social and economic inequities that define contemporary America.  Kinkade's work is dissociative, almost surrealist in the psychic distancing from reality that it entails.
What do you think?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lari Pittman and the number 5

I enjoyed this post from Tyler Green's Modern Art Notes.  I hadn't before thought of high-fiving as "a type of code of heterosexuality."  What do you think?  Would you have read this populist content into the painting had you not know Pittman's thoughts?

There has been a lot of discussion recently about coded meanings in artworks, especially paintings, that conceal sexual identity in portraiture.  This conversation largely stems from the notoriety surrounding the exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Identity in American Portraiture which was censored when it ran at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in the fall of 2010, and is now on view at the Tacoma Art Museum.  If you aren't familiar with this exhibition and incident, do familiarize yourself!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kerry Tribe and Mungo Thomson on Thursday

Get set for a double header on Thursday featuring Los Angeles-based multi-media artists Kerry Tribe and Mungo Thomson who both will screen and discuss their work.  Thomson will come to our class in HFA 257, and we'll head to CBC A112 for Tribe's talk.  Update: Tribe's talk will also be held in HFA 257, at 7pm.

Here's a short interview with Tribe, and some meatier reviews to read prior to her visit--this one from Frieze and this one from The GuardianHere is a press release for a current exhibition of her work.

Thomson will speak informally and screen something for the early class.  Read Suzanne Hudson's text on Thomson written for the Hammer Museum in 2008, and watch his artist's talk in the video to the right.  We have not asked Thomson to give a formal artists talk--just a screening--so this should not be redundant, and will prepare you to have a discussion with him in class.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Global Blockbusters

What exhibitions attracted the most viewers worldwide?  Check out these figures.  Here's an interesting overview of global trends in exhibition attendance.  I was surprised to learn that Brazil has become such a hub of art tourism.

According the these surveys, art viewership expanded by about 50% from the mid 1990s.  Attendance at some of the most popular shows approaches 10,000 viewers per day.  Has art viewing taken on a different character?  How do you see experience art in the context of such mass viewing? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jean Tinguely in Las Vegas

On Thursday our class will meet in conjunction with a group of architecture students from ETH in Zurich, Switzerland.  These students will be lead by two scholars, Philip Ursprung and Martino Stierli.

We will start the evening by meeting in the Donna Beam for an artist's talk by Noelle Garcia that will begin at 6pm.  Please note that we will NOT meet in the classroom at 5:30, and that instead of heading over to CBC A112, the second segment of our class will be held on Thursday in HFA 257.

We will head upstairs to 257 around 6:30.  I will introduce a video of a performance that Jean Tinguely conducted in Las Vegas in 1962 entitled Study for an End of the World.  Ursprung and Stierli will respond, and open up a discussion for all.

Tinguely is the most prominent Swiss artist to emerge in the second half of the 20th century.  He was a key participant in Nouveau Réalisme along with Niki de Saint Phalle, with whom he collaborated on the Las Vegas performance.  By the time of the Las Vegas performance, he was already quite famous for his metamatics (drawing or painting machines) and for his auto-destructive sculptures.  The most sensational and famous performance of an auto-destructive sculpture was the 1960 event Homage to New York, conducted in the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art.

To prepare for Thursday's screening and discussion, please take some time to listen to a helpful lecture on Homage to New York given by scholar Kaira Cabañas.

Monday, March 19, 2012

More Whitney Biennial

A great series of installation shots of the Whitney Biennial.  Take a look at these, and tell me which is Jutta Koether.  How does this painting installation compare to the one we read about at the Reena Spaulings gallery?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stanya Kahn on Thursday

I'm really excited about Stanya Kahn's visit on Thursday.  Here is some reading and viewing to pique your interest.

First, a feature article on her work, in collaboration with Harry Dodge, from 2008.  (Yes, she was in the Whitney Biennial back then!)  And reviews of her current show and a 2010 show at Susanne Vielmetter Projects in Los Angeles.

Finally, some videos if you want a preview.

Forrest Bess at the Whitney Biennial

Though Forrest Bess died in 1977, he is represented in the 2012 Whitney Biennial by an entire gallery dedicated to his paintings, along with photographs and other documentation of his work and life.  So why is Besse, dead 35 years, given prominent representation in an exhibition that aims to survey art produced in the past two years?

In my experience of the Biennial from afar, Bess's inclusion is one of my favorite facets.  He is not officially included in the show.  Rather, the artist Robert Gober was invited to participate in the Biennial, and his response was, rather than show his own work, to curate an exhibition of Forrest Bess.  So it's an exhibition within an exhibition--a kind of Trojan horse maneuver by Gober.  Gober's curatorial act is his art.

Why do you think Gober wanted to showcase Bess?  Listen to his account.

Update: you might enjoy this clip from Antiques Roadshow featuring Forrest Bess!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cai Guo-Qiang at MoCA

More sensation in LA: a gunpowder drawing by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang.

This is in preparation for an exhibition of his work at MoCA.

Cai uses gunpowder and explosions frequently as a kind of writing, sometimes ephemeral, as in this iconic image staged at our very own Nevada Test Site.

What does the work mean?  Are the explosions surrogates for war, conflict, controversy...nuclear bombs?  Are they menacing?  Are they an effective metaphor?

A field trip to Los Angeles seems in order for late spring: Levitated Mass, a land art show at MoCA, "Ends of the Earth," and Cai Guo-Qiang.  Who's in?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cindy Sherman at the Museum of Modern Art

The Cindy Sherman retrospective opened at MoMA last week.  I am conflicted about her work.  I love the early film stills--who doesn't?--and while I find the recent "society portraits" fun to look at, they feel like gags to me.  There is a lot in between, of course, and her photography has played an important role in shaping the discourse on art and gender in the 1980s, as well as representing principles of postmodernism.  It is undeniable that Sherman has had an extraordinarily influential career.  I am hard pressed to think of another artist who has had as much impact over the past thirty years.

I'm blown away by MoMA's interactive website....what an amazing companion to the exhibition.  It is tempting to say, especially with photography, that maybe it isn't necessary to see the actual show.  But Sherman's later photographs are blown up to the scale of history paintings and their drama is surely much diminished in computer screen encounters! The interactive has a leveling effect, making the early and late work seem similar in scale and presentation, and this is very deceptive.  The historical and material specificity of her photographs is lost.  That said, it's an invaluable resource for those who can't see the show itself.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Time/Bank: a barter economy for the art community

This project has been ongoing since 2010, and has spread to branches around the world.  I wish we had a branch here in Las Vegas.  I am going to try to open one.  Anyone want to be involved?

How is this art?  To me, it is an extraordinarily relevant contemporary form: collaborative, engaged with the politics and economics of globalization, responding to the economic realities of the art world (many artists, sparse economic opportunity), breaks down distinctions between "art" and "life" by employing everyday skills to build a Utopian community...and on.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Whitney Biennial

The Whitney Biennial, the most highly anticipated American review of contemporary art, opened this week.  Here are a couple takes on it.  Roberta Smith's review in the New York Times, and a rather darker critical take from the online journal Hyperallergic.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Levitated Mass

As promised, folks, the passage of the 340 ton boulder from Riverside County to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has begun.  Read the whole description of the project (click "show more").

There are a lot of materials available on the LACMA website, including a FAQ sheet.  The last questions on the sheet were, to me, most relevant.  (But I can be a hardened materialist sometimes--the bolded text is mine.)  It gives me an idea for our local economy: "destination artworks"!

9. How did LACMA pay for this project?

Levitated Mass was made possible by private gifts to Transformation: The LACMA Campaign from Jane and Terry Semel, Bobby Kotick, Carole Bayer Sager and Bob Daly, Beth and Joshua Friedman, Steve Tisch Family Foundation, Elaine Wynn, Linda, Bobby, and Brian Daly, Hanjin Shipping Co., Ltd., Richard Merkin, MD, and the Mohn Family Foundation, and has been dedicated by LACMA to the memory of Nancy Daly.

Transportation is made possible by Hanjin Shipping Co., Ltd.

11. How can LACMA justify this expensive project when the economy is suffering?

The Levitated Mass project is actually a positive benefit to the economy. From the construction teams on site who have been digging the 456-foot-long slot and preparing to install the megalith, to the transport company, to the permitting fees paid to twenty-two cities in four different counties for the transport, a great deal of the privately raised funds for Levitated Mass has gone directly into the local economy.

Additionally, we expect Levitated Mass to contribute to a long-term economic impact in Los Angeles. Levitated Mass has already received worldwide attention, and much like Chris Burden’s Urban Light it will become a “destination artwork” for local, national, and international audiences. As audiences come to L.A. and to LACMA, this will impact the local economy—everything from restaurants to hotels to gas stations and more.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Renting Monet to the Bellagio. What do you think?

We don't talk about it much here in Vegas, but some people in the art world are troubled by the practice of museums like Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) renting artworks to a casino.

Scroll up for the picture, and then read below for Tyler Green's commentary.

Do you agree with Green?  Why or why not?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Visiting Artist series dark this Thursday

Unfortunately our painter-in-residence, Caitlin Lonegan, has withdrawn from the lecture series, so we don't have a speaker lined up for this week.  But the discussion class will still be held at 5:30.

Though Caitlin is not presenting, we will still discuss the status of painting today.  I will be emailing you an article by David Joselit, provided to me by Caitlin, entitled "Painting Beside Itself."  Please look for this and read it before class!

Also, I would like to start featuring a few of your blogs in each class.  I will make a selection of a few blogs, and ask the authors to discuss their theme.  Think of this as free publicity, a chance to entice your colleagues to follow your blog.  I am not telling who I select beforehand, so anyone in the class might be called on!  This should not require any preparation beyond staying current with the blog assignment.

See you Thursday!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ken Price, ceramicist

The astounding work of Ken Price comes into focus with his death a few days ago.,0,3889631.story

As Roberta Smith notes, he was part of a Los Angeles movement known as "Finish Fetish." The name says it all.  Luminous, seductive surfaces were achieved through meticulously applied enamels, resins, lacquers, and automobile paint.  As Ed Ruscha puts it, "There was a movement here called the Finish Fetish. It involved artists working in plastics and automotive lacquers and more or less high-tech techniques instead of just canvas painting on an easel."  The movement is often related to car culture in Los Angeles, and more generally, to the slick, reflective machined glass and steel surfaces of the modern city, or the new plastics and resins used increasingly for consumer goods in the 1960s.

Yet Price did not use these high tech materials.  He used clay and glazes.  He was a ceramicist who turned the traditional hierarchy of art and craft on its head.  He typically created small scale objects, what are sometimes referred to somewhat dismissively as "table-top sculptures."  These powerful forms also defy the hierarchy of scale--Price proves that works need not be large to be high impact.

For more on Finish Fetish and Light and Space, check out this short audio slide show by Peter Schjeldahl of the New Yorker:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Doug Wheeler

Doug Wheeler's "Infinity Environment" at the David Zwirner gallery in New York City has been the talk of the town for the last couple weeks.  Wheeler was one of the so-called "light and space" artists who emerged in Los Angeles in the 1960s.  This group is often thought of as the west coast expression of minimal art that dominated the New York art world at the time.  This is the first time one of Wheeler's signature environments has been constructed in New York, reminding us of how important art can remain essentially regional--or, perhaps, how until relatively recently the New York art world has remained largely disinterested in West Coast developments of the 1960s.

We can't experience the infinity environment firsthand.  But reading others' accounts of their experience, what do you think?  How does this art operate?  What are the implications of such perceptual disorientation?  How is the body of the spectator engaged, and to what ends?  Does this description remind you of any experiences that you have had?  Be sure to follow Tyler Green's links to learn more.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Forged Abstract Expressionist paintings...lots of them!

Intriguing!  This story gives an inside view of the machinations of the art market--in particular, what's called the "secondary market" involving the resale of paintings by important artists.  You may not be surprised to learn that Abstract Expressionist paintings are frequently forged.  But it's rare for a major gallery to give its imprimatur to paintings of uncertain provenance.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Young Artists

When it was founded in 1977 by the legendary Marcia Tucker, the New Museum in New York was one of the first museums dedicated exclusively to contemporary art.  (You might say that the name and concept of a "new museum" are contradictions: aren't museum's meant as repositories for art and artifacts, to be preserved for the ages?)  Anyway, the New Museum bills itself as "a leading destination for new art and new ideas."  Are new art and new ideas largely produced by artists in their twenties and thirties?  A forty year old artist would have been excluded from the New Museum's original 2009 triennial as well as the second, recently opened iteration.

The art world understands the concept of a Biennial or Triennial as a general survey of significant art produced over the last two or three years--sometimes the art is unified by a theme, sometimes not.  In both cases--particularly 2009's "Younger Than Jesus" (according to the Bible, Jesus died for the sins of man at age 33)--the prevailing theme of the New Museum's triennial seems to be youth.  This year, the selection of artists is at least contextualized by historical events--"“The Ungovernables” is an exhibition about the urgencies of a generation who came of age after the independence and revolutionary movements of the 1960s and 1970s," the Museum says.  But the oldest artist is 39, suggesting an age-based criterion was in play. 

Is this superficial?  What is the relevance of age?  Do you find the "revolutionary movements of the 1960s and 1970s" to be a convincing means of bracketing artists under forty? 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Disowning One's Art

I am fascinated by the idea of artists attempting to edit their oeuvres.  I love that some artists make work and then, usually after achieving a certain degree of critical or market-based success (is this the same as "artistic maturity"?), state that even though such-and-such work was once considered art, it is no longer "art."  I think the reason I like this so much is that it suggests that the artist can perform a kind of alchemy, designating or denying art.  But really, it brings into focus the role of the artist in legitimating or validating his or her work (in cases of disavowals, mostly his, though Agnes Martin, an example not discussed in this article, did destroy and disown early figurative paintings).

Once art always art?  Or is "art" up to the artist?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dike Blair on Thursday, February 16

When I asked him if there was anything we might read to help us better understand his work and practice before his visit, Dike Blair replied:

I have a bunch of my writing on my site:

Many of those pieces are included in a collection of my writing:

Now, my writing is separate from my art. The writing reflects interests that may or may not have any relevance to what I make in the studio.

I eschew theory in favor of fiction. I suppose a Haruki Murakami short story would have as much to do with how I think in the studio as any non-fiction.

Here are a couple links to Murakami short stories.  Pick one to read before Blair's talk.

"Town of Cats"

"The Wind Up Bird and Tuesday's Women" 
(To access the whole story you need a New Yorker subscription.  Unless you have one, access this through online access to The New Yorker via the UNLV library website.  First find "The New Yorker" electronic subscription, then access the November 26, 1990 issue.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Danielle Marie Kelly and Dave Sanchez Burr on Thursday

Artist Danielle Kelly writes:

"Although I am not yet certain exactly how it is shaping my work, I find that over the last year/year and a half I have consistently revisited the attached essay/manifesto by Emily Roysdon...A second reading is Jorge Luis Borges' short story "The Labyrinth". I revisit it on a regular basis and I find that it always has new significance for me."

You may wish to read Borges' short story.  Here is a link go the Roysdon project.  Note that there is a link to a nicely illustrated PDF download on the top of the essay.  Also, if you look through the menu to the left, you will see Ecstatic Resistance under "curatorial projects" and can look at images here.

Artist Dave Sanchez-Burr writes:

"For a great audio representation of my talk there is a song by Shellac called The End of Radio, below is a youtube link to Shellac performing the song and also the lyrics. The song  holds great relevance to the N O W H E R E R A D I O project."

Lyrics to The End of Radio

is this thing on?
can you hear me now?
are we going?
is this thing on?
test, test, test, test, test, test...
can you hear me now?

as we come to the close of our broadcast day
this is my farewell transmission
signing of
mr. and mrs. america, and all the ships at sea
anyone within the sound of my voice
i've got 50000 watts of power
i want to ionize the air
this microphone turns sound into electricity
can you hear me now?
out on route 128, the dark and lonely
i got my radio on
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?
it's the end of radio

and that snare drum
that drum roll
means we've got a winner
if you're the fifth caller
or any caller at all...

welcome to my top ten
i'd like to thank our sponsor
but... we haven't got a sponsor
not if you were the last man on earth
she was prepared to prove it
this one goes up to a special girl
but... there is no special girl

it's the end of radio
the last announcer plays the last record
the last watt leaves the transmitter
circles the globe in search of a listener
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?

is this really broadcasting if there is no one ever recieve?
it's the end of radio
as we come to the close of our broadcast day

i got my radio on
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?

this is the test
if this had been a real emergency...
hey, hey, this is real god damn emergency

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chris Burden's Metropolis at LACMA

You may know Chris Burden's 1970s era body art (like Shoot) from the Art since 1945 class.  He has long ceased performing the physically challenging (and at times damaging) actions for which he is best known.  Recent work often seems to realize children's fantasies--for instance, a skyscraper constructed from erector sets...

Recently, Metropolis came on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  "The miniature city in motion consists of 1,100 Hot Wheels-sized cars, 25 large buildings, 18 lanes of traffic, 13 trains and one human operator." 

Here is a video...

I love this profile of Burden by New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl.

Allora and Calzadilla at US Pavillion

My intention with this blog was to stick with events happening during the time frame of the class, but since Veronica Roberts discussed the logistics behind Allora and Calzadilla's installation at the Venice Biennale I thought you might like to read about it and look at images of this work.  Be sure to click "more photos" and view the slide show.

In recent years, a number of artists selected to represent the US in the Venice Biennale have been fairly critical of American values, politics, etc.  American involvement in the Venice Biennale is administered by the US State Department.  Check out this 2010 call for museums to create proposals "to organize the official U.S. presentation."  A committee in the State Department chooses the curator/museum.  So is this art as propaganda?  Why is the government underwriting an installation such as Allora and Calzadilla's?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Readings for Thursday

I've emailed some readings to members of the class that were suggested by Veronica Roberts.  Also, check out this interview with Sol LeWitt...

Veronica Roberts

Our next visitor is curator and art historian Veronica Roberts who will give a talk entitled

Conceptual Art and Collaboration:
Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings on University and College Campuses

Veronica Roberts is a New York-based curator, writer, and Sol LeWitt scholar. She currently holds two positions—as Adjunct Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and as Director of Research for the Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing Catalogue Raisonné, to be published digitally by Artifex Press.  Roberts first met LeWitt when she worked closely with the artist to coordinate his 2000 retrospective for the Whitney Museum of American Art.  Most recently, in the Spring of 2011, she guest curated the exhibition, Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt for the Craig F. Starr Gallery in New York--the first show to look closely at the ways their decade-long friendship had a crucial impact on their lives and artistic practices.

Roberts previously worked in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she curated the 2010 exhibition, Lee Bontecou: All Freedom in Every Sense.  She holds a B.A. from Williams College and an M.A. in art history from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Contemporary

You ask, what is contemporary art?  (Thanks, Kristy!)  This seemingly transparent question opens up a complex debate.  Is "the contemporary" merely an historical, temporal designation, referencing the art of today and the recent past?  Or are there other criteria that might help us identify a particular set of features that define art of the contemporary period?  In other words, how might we begin to historicize contemporary art by defining it in relation to the political and social conditions of the present?

Here is a reading assignment to work through over the rest of the semester: "Questionnaire on 'The Contemporary'" from the Fall, 2009 issue of October.  MIT press allows a free download.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Activist Art

Check out this interview with Yes Men collaborator Mike Bonanno.

What do you think of the intersection of art and activism?  Art as culture jamming?  This has certainly been an important strain of contemporary art practice since the 1990s.  The Yes Men and Damien Hirst create a stark comparison in terms of their attitudes toward the art market, the role and potential of art, and the social responsibility of the artist.  And yet, do any of the Yes Men's actions lead to concrete change, or even increased awareness of corporations' devaluation of human life?  How are the Yes Men different from Stephen Colbert?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Damien Hirst

This is kind of old news by now, but one of the big sensations of the last week or two has been Damien Hirst's exhibition of his spot paintings.  Make that exhibitions.  Hirst has simultaneously installed his spot paintings in eleven galleries in eight cities--all branches of the Gagosian Gallery.

 If you don't know much about Hirst, do a quick google. You'll see that he is an art world provocateur whose work is often engaged with death. Is it spiritual?  Or incredibly crass?

The work is absurdist.  Could it be understood as a critique of extremist consumerism and the obscene wealth of many art collectors?  Or does it participate uncritically in the decadence of the superrich?

Hirst is a canny marketer of his own work.  He forces us to acknowledge how the artist's persona generates buzz and market value...and art historical relevance.

Overwhelmed?  Confused?  Bored?  Angry?  Let YouTube artist Hennessy Youngman break it down for you.  (Youngman is a topic for another time...).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Deborah Luster, January 26

Our first visiting artist of the spring semester is photographer Deborah Luster.

When I asked her what she has read that has affected her work, she answered:

I studied literature in school. Photography came to me quite late.

I read lots of Southern literature: Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Walker Percy, etc.

A poet that I have worked with C.D. Wright. Her book Cooling Time is prose-ish.

A poet Frank Stanford. Frank wrote The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You is amazing.
I love W.G. Sebald. Anything. 

Right now I'm reading Diane Arbus, A Chronology (Aperture). It's really interesting reading from her personal correspondence. She was so verbally articulate. (If you can see it and say it you just may be able to do it.) An important concept for working photographers, I believe.

Here is an excerpt from Stanford's 15,000 line poem The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You:

Here are some links for learning about Luster and her work:

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Spring 2012

Visiting Artists, Art Historians, and Curators

Free and Open to the Public!

All lectures are at 7pm in CBC A112

January 26: Deborah Luster

February 2: Veronica Roberts (curator and art historian)

February 9: Danielle Marie Kelly and Dave Sanchez-Burr

February 16: Dike Blair

February 23: Clayton Campbell

March 1: Caitlin Lonegan (UNLV painter-in-residence Spring 2012)

March 22: Philip Ursprung and Martino Stierli (art and architectural historians) + students from ETH Zurich, Land Art "microsymposium"

March 29: Kerry Tribe

April 12: Edgar Arceneaux

April 26: Rebecca Campbell

Date TBD: Alisha Kerlin (UNLV painter-in-residence Spring 2012)