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!


  1. I was initially drawn to Jutta Koether's work while reading her quotes, as her paintings of intertwined webs of color can be described as raw, experimental, and primitively abstract. The quotes from Jutta Koether interested me the most because she described her involvement in the making of her work "Kissing the Canvas", which required her to create "a situation in which painting could happen" and also to deal with the experience of viewing a painting:

    "I staged the studio and the becoming of an audience, underscoring the visitor's role as a participating actor--and as partial "auteur"...visitors were asked to make that leap, to feel, and to smell it all; to get as close as they could to the painting, to step on it, to caress, violate, and add to its reality".

    This interests me because she did this to test the significance of the work's physical reality and also to test the real importance of her purpose as an artist.

  2. "LISA YUSKAVAGE: Fortunately, the education that I got in the ’80s was with formalists of
    various stripes: Stephen Greene, Margo Margolis, William Bailey, Andrew Forge, Jake Berthot,
    and Mel Bochner. None of them ever brought up the death of anything. By the time I
    encountered the “death of painting,” I was already a formed artist living in New York. "

    I thought this was really funny. It presents the "death of painting" as a social issue. It's like saying, "you're paintings aren't good anymore because we say so." Which is what it kind of is. Paintings are acceptable only in the context of whose willing to engage with it. Lisa makes it out to be this conflict that everyone else is dealing with that she came out unscathed. She makes it out to be something that you can either participate in, or not. But you can't really escape being apart of the argument if you're already a painter. There's an era based social aspect that is involved with the "death of painting" argument.

  3. I thought Francesca’s choice (Koether) and Karin’s choice (Yuskavage) were both good, but I was really interested in what Helmut Federle said about the “death of art”. “I observe that the material, the work itself, is the last and least important link in a chain of information, economic attention and multiple distribution. In short, success is not dependent upon significance, but it is success from which significance is derived. Success is primary, productivity is secondary.” The thoughts are a little depressing and pessimistic, but one needs to be brutally honest when trying to analyze one’s own field. As an art history major, this quote is very useful. He earlier stated “I am part of a generation for which skepticism, refusal, and failure have been great ideas”.

  4. I also was interested in Jutta Koether's words and work. I felt like I had a better understanding of her work, due to the reading we did earlier this semester by David Joselit, who dissects her work at the Reena Spaulings gallery. Within the article, she says,
    "Today that dismissed context has changed massively. Painting accommodated the
    new economy of the late '90's with little resistance. If anything, there
    should be a renewal of crisis for painting right now."

    I really think that the notion of 'painting being dead' was an identity issue, mixed with an unstable economy. But as soon as the art market regained its momentum, painting was once again re-evaluated and deemed important and new. Sadly, I find most of the times, it's the art galleries and collectors who put a degree of importance, relevance, and supply the demand for a particular style, medium, and theme within art. I don't know if art has always been like this, but it definitely is inflated and influx with the world's economy. Consider Damien Hirst, his work is everywhere, it's wanted by all, and has been deemed significant within the art world by his popularity with galleries and art collectors. Suddenly, pricey art is the only good art around.

  5. I really liked and agreed with what Lane Relyea had to say on the topic of painting being dead. She says, "Today's individual artist is talented at what? You could be cynical and say "the system, the art game, institutionality, bureaucracy. But is it different to show talent for discourse itself?"
    I think sometimes its not enough to just be talented. Especially in this day and age it seems the better the story behind it the better the work becomes. Which i can agree can be great in a lot of cases but some people depend to much on that "story". It is always about who can play "the game" the best, if you want to be successful.
    I also agree with her when she says the death of painting can be pointless. Artists still paint. Artists are just finding new ways to make art using damn near anything and everything. As long as people use paint, i don't think painting will ever die. At most just a less popular medium.

  6. I found that I related to curator Lane Relyea's comments most, in particular when she stated, "Previously, painting definitely had its own discourse, but no one is going to write “Tradition and the Individual Talent” anymore, and not only because the idea of tradition is so difficult to make relevant now. The idea of medium is also too problematic—and it’s for a medium, is it not, that the individual shows a talent in the first place. Today’s individual artist is talented at what? You could be cynical and say “the system, the art game, institutionality, bureaucracy.” But is it that different from saying that today’s artist is trained in and needs to show talent for discourse itself? Isn’t this the point behind the ubiquity in MFA programs of the group crit and artist’s talk, as well as the now standard practice for students to produce a written thesis in order to graduate?"

    I think that what she's referring to is absolutely true. What is relevant in today's art world in regards to tradition and talent is fading and the use of mix mediums and performance is taking away from the tradition and talent of painting. As of now for an artist to succeed in any medium one must be able to play the game, and this is an unfortunate truth.

  7. The quote that really stuck out for me was by Jonathan Lasker:

    To a certain extent, the mediums that have partially replaced painting in art, many of which are photo- and film-based, have brought us to the condition that Helmut mentions—namely, the death of art. Very little of what is currently represented as art depicts an object that is specific in nature, as opposed to an image that readily connects to the endless loop that is contemporary media culture. This is not to say that photography and film are “artless” media, but that they are easily connected to the media industry, and that much of photography and film in art seeks that connection.
    I’m not so interested in painting modeling itself after, say, digital technology, although it is true that painting has always shown a remarkable capacity to expand in response to challenges from new technologies. When the camera was invented, painting became more abstract. But painting should not be falling over itself to keep up. We should not be struggling to regain the lost power of depicting the world. Painting should be other because it naturally is. Depicting our own minds should be enough. I think that painting can best address itself to its own properties and seek a tactile, imaginative response to the condition of man in the natural world.

    The idea that painting is dead is honestly ridiculous to me. In my mind, painting is still completely relevant in todays world, it just does not look like it used to. Painting has strayed from tradition and has evolved into something else, as does everything in our modern, fast-paced world. To expect painting to remain strictly within traditional standards would be the death of the medium because it would no longer be relevant. The same can be said for any medium. Times change along with social expectations and understandings and the things we create inevitable evolve with us (or die out, ei: cassette tapes, but ironically not vinyl records). I also really appreciate the statement that "painting should not be falling over itself to keep up". We should let it be what it is and appreciate it for that because it is, after all, unlike any other.

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    2. Painting can be thought or seen as dead by many because of the effect of what digital and modern art can do, but I think it's entirely different. Just like how we have a diversity of mediums for different purposes and to convey different meanings and emotions. Certainly, paintings have a lot more historical background, culture, and personal and sentimental feelings attached to them. It's always almost like a mystery and sway of emotions mixed with my critics when I come to see a painting in a museum whereas a graphic banner is just there for the purpose of mass marketing or typography is fantastic for aesthetics of a company.

      Tim Griffin "Painting as an intimate physical and optical- and historical- medium is in a unique position to register such shifts."

      "When the world passes through the "filter" of a new technology, what things are lost and what things gained?" - This is what I ask myself when new technology is quickly taking over all aspects of how art is viewed and presented today.

      Terry Winters "Part of what's exciting about painting's engagement with the digital is its access to so much new imagery, most of it 'abstract'." - I really believe painting is also just as important for the artist as it is for the viewer. It's the personal and intimate engagement and self-discovery for the artist when they are hands-on with their work.

      Caroll Duham "Historical, primitive means is what sets painting apart." - (wide cultural use) I think there's just something much more believable and meaningful about picking up a paintbrush and splashing it across the canvas. It gives a sense of accomplishment and purpose for yourself. Digital art has been claimed to be soulless many times and passion and soul goes into it. As always, whether it's to do with art techniques or not, I always believe it's best to be well-rounded and in order to achieve that is to have a wide spectrum of reference and resources to adapt to. An artist's mind has to be broad in scope.

  8. LISA YUSKAVAGE: Flipping through the recent book on new painting, Vitamin P [2002],
    what jumps out is not the diminishing returns of modernism, but the diminishing returns of copying photographs and the overdependence on other media to make painting “vkeital.” What are the tasks of painting? As a figurative artist, I have found the answers in early-modern and premodern works. Their power is in the visual invention, the meaning coming through the form. Good, old-fashioned stuff like that is always newer and better than apologetic, illustrational,never fully baked stuff. Embracing the great-grandparents and the grandparents is the greatest freedom: from theory, and from meaning that precedes the object and its colors, lines, and edges.

    I found this idea to be interesting because she really likes traditional painting. She does not find the fluff of other media to be necessary to make a painting important. I think she just has an appreciation for the art of painting. It should be about t he painting. It does not need to be complex and "different". If the painting is successful it will speak for itself.

  9. LANE RELYEA: We live in a pluralist moment. There’s no discourse today. Instead there are
    lists. Just flip through Artforum. The art world looks more and more like the curator’s Rolodex.
    Many of those recent painting survey shows presented neither ideas about nor feelings for
    painting, but rather cavalcades of individual celebrity artists, each of whom just happens to paint.

    I also found this quote to be pretty interesting, because I feel she may be right, that there may be more artists trying to make it in to the art world, where their priority is not even about the art. I think she is implying that some artists today are not taking it as seriously as artists of the past.

  10. I found Helmut Federle’s viewpoint on the death of painting to be most interesting, yet humorous as well. In his remarks to Robert Storr, Federle mentioned that he has witnessed similar discussions numerous times, and that he would much rather discuss the death of art.

    “I am part of a generation for which skepticism, refusal, and failure have been great ideals. And in such a context, painting seems to be absolutely perfect. But to consider again the starting point for our discussion, I encountered the first polemic on the "death of painting" at the end of the '60s. Every few years, the same discussion comes up. I would rather discuss the death of art.”

    Painting and other mediums of art are constantly advancing and being taken to new extremes, morphing into innovative forms, and challenging our minds to release abstract thoughts. The thought of painting dying, or any art for that matter, is erroneous. If anything, we are enhancing traditional art and incorporating new styles, which should be valued rather than depreciated.

    1. I agree, this is actually the quote that I wanted to post about as well but the comment box keeps disappearing when I load the page so I will just comment here with you, if you don't mind.

      Adjectives like "skepticism, refusal, and failure" seem fundamental to the artist vocabulary. They learn these words as they learn how to use a paint brush or snap a photo. Sometimes, it seems that ideas and practices become even more enticing after they have been labeled negatively. I feel like the best thing that could have been done for painting was for it to be pronounced dead. That gives the artist community an opportunity to go back and reinvent.

      Its not just "the death of painting" that gets discussed every few years, every medium gets its chance on the chopping block. Our interest in mediums as artists and views ebbs and flows.

  11. My favorite quote comes from Helmut Fedrle:

    When talking about the death of painting, we should first analyze how painting got sick. The autonomous energy of painting and the attention it earns are inseparable. They are different sides of the same coin, so we have to deal with the prevalence of the attention. We have to consider the political power structure of the thumbs-up or thumbs-down faction. The propagandists of some heavily overrated artists in the ’80s are still in the saddle and creating promotional hypes with the same ignorance and lack of responsibility. The galleries move to new locations, the art magazines move to another sympathetic focus, the curators create the new darlings of the art world, so the old-boy connections remain intact, maintaining the incestuous self-referentiality of the system. The price is paid by the artist. Still, it is the artist who lets it happen. He refrains, for reasons of opportunism, from controlling the impact of his vision and cedes control to the market.
    Most important in my teaching in Düsseldorf is the analysis of the art system. We investigate the cultural power structure deployed by gallery scenes, art critics, curators, and heavy-duty collectors like Charles Saatchi or Friedrich Flick. As an example, we describe a package deal between collector (money, politics), gallery (money), art critics, curators, art magazines (information, attention), and artist (material). I observe that the material, the work itself, is the last and least important link in a chain of information, economic attention, and multiple distribution. In short, success is not dependent upon significance, but it is success from which significance is derived. Success is primary, productivity is secondary. This is why I do not want to talk about the death of painting, but rather of the death of art. We have to realize that even the discourse itself is burnt out.

    It makes sense in the way you look at it, How did painting get sick? what were other causes? Can it be helped and what can be done at this point? It's almost like trying to find a cure. Let's find out what happened and see if we can 'all' fix it

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    3. LANE RELYEA: A few years ago, the New Yorker ran a movie review in which the critic complained about the recent loss of faith in the single static shot. I think this connects to what Jonathan says about painting’s relation to other media. I was once involved in a similar online discussion with Peter Doig, Chris Ofili, and Laura Owens, and they complained when I brought up the sentiments of the movie reviewer. They said that good paintings are never still but rather constantly evolve in perception, dynamic, tense, open to endless interpretation, all of which betrays precisely a strong belief in the powers of the single static image—of painting as it’s able to reward focused, prolonged looking. A picture that holds its frame the way a singer stands at a microphone or a political figure stands at a podium: This has become rare, almost anachronistic.

      Good paintings are never still. Painting is unlike any other media. It has a specific quality, but can contain countless characteristics. As far as there being no discourse on today's painting, I think it is too early to make such claims. Art is for future generations. 20 or 30 years from now I think we will be able to look back on these times and have a more unified idea about this era's paintings.

  12. Quote by Carroll Dunham: The "deaths" always happen when something new gets people excited, but paintings just keep getting made.

    This quote was the most interesting to me because it states how people are constantly searching for the new, next best thing in art. Andy Warhol recognized this behavior. Painting is one of the oldest art forms in the world. I believe it is the most identifiable art form, meaning that even if someone doesn't know what the subject matter is, they still know that it is a painting. People feel like they already know and understand painting so they move to something that they don't quite understand like performance work or mixed media work or sculpture. I think what Dunham is saying in her quote is the death of painting is happening as new forms of art are emerging that are more conceptual than painting. In her quote she also states painting is still happening while other art forms are occurring. So is the death of painting really happening if new paintings are still being made or is this death of painting more of a loss of what painting means to the viewer as a whole? It could be both.

  13. I was drawn to Lisa Yskavage's paintings. There was something about the combination of overtly sexual and nostalgically innocent that me to her must be that as women we are supposed to somehow be both at the same time.

    I really liked this quote by Lisa: Flipping through the recent book on new painting, Vitamin P [2002], what jumps out is not the diminishing returns of modernism, but the diminishing returns of copying photographs and the overdependence on other media to make painting “vital.”

    When I look at much of the current painting I notice that although there are still artists creating paintings that are somewhat "photographic." However, they do not seem to be the majority. It also seems that many paintings are note considered "vital" unless they are combined with some other material. For example, Iva Gueorguieva uses muslin in a number of her more recent pieces. I wonder why this is the case. I don't think it makes the art any more relevant. Painting is still beautiful (although it seems paintings has to be more than beautiful to be considered relevant) and can still make a commentary on the state of the world. Yes, adding other elements make painting interesting, but does it make it more relevant? I don't think so and it doesn't sound like Lisa does either. So, I guess the question is why do so many other people?

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