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.