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 RaisonnĂ©, 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)