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Unfortunately our painter-in-residence, Caitlin Lonegan, has withdrawn from the lecture series, so we don't have a speaker lined up for this week.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?