Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Took Some Lines to the Circus.

[caption id="attachment_252" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="I Took Some Lines to the Circus, 2008, 24"x30", pencil, prismacolor pencil on acrylic primed masonite panel"]I Took Some Lines to the Circus, 24x30in., Pencil, prismacolor on acrylic primed masonite, 2008[/caption]

I have decided that going forward all of my new work will have real titles, not merely, Untitled with Some Number. That got way, way too confusing, no doubt exacerbated by there not being a good system to begin with. Now I will confuse my viewers in a different way, with literary and linguistic questions. Enjoy.

New Paradigms

I recently attended a panel discussion featuring Joyce OwensDawoud Bey, and Tony Fitzpatrick, along with Juan Angel Chavez and Paul Kleinat the Chicago Cultural Center on the topic of Turning Your Art Into a Career. First of all I thought the title was wonderfully crafted, implying that a career is a life vocation, if not necessarily a remunerative one. Dawoud Bey with all his eloquence offered up the following which he posted on his blog which is called What's Going On?, Advice to Emerging Artists.

Amongst his best advice and I quote here: "Don’t be afraid to create new paradigms for how you can exist and function as an artist. A lot of the old paradigms were never meant to serve artists well in the first place. I don’t know any other field in which you can bear the full expense of production, then give someone 50% to sell the object or product, then pay the IRS the requisite 33% tax rate, and say you are doing "good business." This is the “normal” paradigm of the commercial art world, and at a certain level it does work, particularly at the mid to upper levels. It doesn't mean its the only way, and in the early stages your work will not be priced high enough to cover your costs of production, let alone pay your rent every month, under this structure at any rate."

So I encourage you to go over to Dawoud's blog.

I am endeavoring to create and execute a new means of exhibiting my artwork. I found two venues last year, at the university art galleries of the University of Montana in Missoula and at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. I am putting together a small, select group of artists who make drawings for a concerted run at additional spaces across the country. That's this year's project.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Response to 40 Years Old and Still Waiting

[caption id="attachment_263" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Pentimento II, 22x30in., Colored pencil, oil stick, graphite on 140 lb. 100% rag paper, 2005"]Pentimento II, 22x30in., Colored pencil, oil stick, graphite on 140 lb. 100% rag paper, 2005[/caption]

My studio mate Norbert Marszalek, a wonderful artist, and a thoughtful blogger with strong opinions, has a post "40 Years Old and Still Waiting to Emerge" in which he questions the definition of what is an emerging artist. I'm 60 years old and just emerging. Norbert references Malcolm Gladwell's article in the New Yorker contrasting the lives and achievements of precocious artists versus late bloomers.
I think that there has been way, way too much emphasis in our culture on youthful precocity. I consider myself to be a late-bloomer, even though I knew I wanted to be an artist from when I was seven or eight, went to art schools to study art, design, painting and drawing, getting a BA and an MFA. But after obtaining that MFA at the crest of the baby-boom and futile attempts to find a teaching position at art departments in universities and colleges nation-wide, I wandered off the art-path to search for a career. Never found a career but found a good day job, one with real benefits, health insurance etc.

But five years ago, I got the itch and issued a challenge to myself; I wanted to know if I was still capable of making art. I bought 100 sheets of 18x24" watercolor paper, some colored pencils, an oil painting starter set. I decided that I would know after those 100 pieces of paper were painted if I was an artist, capable of continuing. I only got to 70 but I knew that I was "back."

The main difference between myself as the younger artist and now is that I'm not waiting for the big ideas, not worrying about "being" an artist. I make art. I have a discipline now that I never had when I was younger because I spent and wasted a whole lot of time worrying about the big idea. I have discovered that for me the making of art is a process, not a big idea. I have discovered that the big ideas come only after the making of the art. For me art is a making not a thinking.

Which isn't to say that I don't think. I have a mental process in which I am making a thousand million decisions about what to do and where to put my hand with the pencil or brush. But it is a process that is as unself-conscious as I can do. I have learned to then sit and look and think. I know have a whole mental vocabulary of analytical tools in my head that I never had 30 years ago.

None of this answers Norbert's question, which goes to recognition. Like Norbert, I resent and question the attention that is given to super-stars just out of their MFA programs at the age of 25 or 30. They haven't lived much of an artistic inner life of making and thinking. And there is the frustration of finding our audience, our customers, our own recognition.

The greatest artists become truly great in their old age, Rembrandt, Louise BourgeoisLee KrasnerAgnes MartinAlice Neel.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Evolution, We are Evolved

From an article in Science Daily headlined: "Evolution Of The Visual System Is Key To Abstract Art."

Abstract artists are still painting what we can see, we have inherited a basic visual system through genetics that provides very selective information about the world. We cannot see electromagnetic radiation or follow the leg movements of galloping horses. But just as soon as we enhanced and created prosthetics to view the micro, we have ways of visualizing the electromagnetic, we can "stop motion" the movements of horses. Because we use and expand these prosthetics, we can see more and more and imagine more and more in our art work.

“Artists were experimenting with abstract shapes long before scientists began analyzing our nature of perception. Through observation or trial-and-error, artists have been identifying these aesthetic primitives - critical shapes and arrangements - and have indirectly defined the nature of our visual processes. In purely abstract painting, as with much music, form is all we have. Popular works have shown that essentially we like looking at what we are good at seeing.”

Rational Tax Policy

An article in THE ART NEWSPAPER, "Artists should have same tax deductions as collectors when donating works of art," pleads the case as follows:

Art museums large and small depend on donations from art collectors to build and sustain their collections. By creating a tax incentive for these donations—donors receive a tax deduction for the fair market value of works of art they donate—the US Congress has supported the development of non-profit art institutions and expanded the public audience for art. But artists donating their own works receive a deduction only for the cost of materials used to create the work, for example canvas and paint.

I would be more disposed to donate to a museum or to the frequent calls and pleas I receive from innumerable good causes if I could at least deduct the presumed sale value of my work beyond the cost of the materials. My 24"x30" masonite panels cost about $2.50 each, the acrylic paint might cost out to $1.00 per panel (remember the dilution factor), I might use 1/8th to 1/16th of 10 or 12 pencils that cost me $1.25 each, so totting that up is about $5.50 tops, and there's no factoring in time or years of experience or schooling. I try to sell these for at least $200, having sold about 4 total. A decent quality frame is $55.00, that's without a matte or backing of any type.

So, remember to buy art from a living artist such as myself or any of the wonderful artists listed in my sidebar in the LINKs section so we can buy more paint and supplies. And write your congress people in support of the "Artist Museum Partnership Act."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Economic Challenge New WPA?

My good friend, Joyce Owens, posits the question in her blog about the possibility of setting up a new WPA (Works Project Administration)reminiscent of the New Deal to assist artists in particular and the public in general. Like Joyce, I invite your comments. Joyce sees it as a good, a public good. I worry that, as in the 30's, art will be pulled to a "social realism" definition, pulled to subject matters potentially defined by lowest or lower common denominator tastes.

Tardy Yes

I haven't posted since August 23, 2008. I was obsessed with the then upcoming election and happily the results are everything I worked, paid and hoped for. I have been "dialoguing" a bit with Joyce Owens, whose web-blog is always refreshing to read, and thought-provoking. And as I say in my UPCOMING EXHIBITS sidebar I am in a planned phase of concentrating on making art in preparation for setting up a new round of exhibits.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why We Can Do It...

Why we can make art. First of all, almost too obvious to point out, the opposable thumb and our bipedal structure, freeing up our hands from the necessity of supporting ourselves as we move across the terrain. This we have in common with our great ape cousins, the gorillas and the chimpanzees, but their hip structures only allow for the occasional bits of walking; most of the time they are on all fours. Additionally there is both a power grip and a precision grip, which is evidenced in our handedness. This we have in common with the primates, even to the lemurs, who are predominantly left-handed, thus they hold on to tree branches with their rights and finesse with their lefts. This precision grip is what allows us to make great detail in drawing.

Then there is eye-hand coordination, which we hold in common with all tree-dwelling primates, coupled with complex feedback systems in our brains, skilled in pattern recognition. Our ability to see color and judge distance is a tree-dwelling primate characteristic, we are quite color conscious, while poor distance judging capabilities would be fatal to animals living in trees.

But none of this is yet enough, as these traits are common to all great apes. What is even more specific to us is a high degree of flexible limb structure in those limbs not required for locomotion. Yes, the chimps and gorillas can grasp quite nicely with their opposable thumbs, but not with much fine-tuning. We have limb flexibility in our upper extremities, our torsos, can rotate our upper bodies sideways and forwards, we have full rotation of our arms, and we can turn our hands over due to being able to rotate the radius over the ulna. [pp. 21—24, The Artistic Animal: An Inquiry into the Biological Roots of Art, Alexander Alland, Jr., 1977, Anchor Press/Doubleday, Garden City, New York]

But this is only the beginning, there is the general mammalian necessity of play and exploratory behavior. This is where I will leave off with this post. I'll keep thinking about the big things.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why Are We So Surprised

Here's an article from headlined, "Acoustics Expert: Cavemen Must Have Loved to Sing." A Paleolithic researcher named Iegor Reznikoff walked around the pre‑historic caves singing and whistling after noting that amongst the artifacts found were 40,000 year old bone whistles. Reznikoff and a team used voice resonance to test acoustics in caves across France. They found a 90 percent correspondence between the paintings and the locations of good acoustics. Reznikoff further hypothesizes that the caves were explored using sound and echo-location to determine pathways. He is quoted thus: "Why would the Paleolithic tribes choose preferably resonant locations for painting," he said, "if it were not for making sounds and singing in some kind of ritual celebrations related with the pictures?"

An article by Barry Blesser and Linda‑Ruth Salter, "Questions and Answers about: Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? Experiencing Aural Architecture" [MIT Press 2006] conjectures as follows:
"Acoustic archeologists suggest that the Paleolithic art found in the caves of Lascaux and Font‑de‑Gaume were influenced by the acoustic character of the chambers in which they were drawn. Pictures of ungulates, bulls, bison, and deer were more likely to be found in chambers with strong echoes, spaces where acoustics created percussive sounds similar to the hoof beats of a stampeding herd. Cave art may well have incorporated echoes as a supernatural phenomenon that brought life into visual images. Archeologists speculate that multi-sensory art was part of the hunter's rituals to summon game. Extensive observations of ancient sites support the notion that wall art and acoustics were deliberately related rather than accidents."

Professor Steven J. Waller discusses this same hypothesis in an article "Quantitative acoustic measurements of Upper Paleolithic rock art sites," published in 1993, in Nature, in which he references Reznikoff's experiments. He states:

"These measurements and observations lead to the speculation that the Paleolithic artists produced the ungulate art in response to percussive sound reflections perceived as hoofbeats. The production of hoofbeats via sound reflection could have served quite usefully as a sympathetic magic ritual intended to summon up game. This new acoustic theory is therefore harmonious with previous speculations of Hunting Magic."
I object to these allusions to Hunting Magic, I object to the certainty that our Paleolithic ancestors needed to call up the spirits of their prey prior to going on the hunt. I have no problem with the notion that ritual was involved, after all there's a huge ritualistic aspect to attending a concert at a symphony hall, or going to an art opening.

From an article, "Building the Circle of Life: Creating the Community Experience from Concept to Application," by J. G. O'Boyle, Senior Analyst, The Center for Cultural Studies and Analysis, c. 2006:
"In light of these discoveries, it now appears that over 40,000 years ago our earliest human ancestors combined painting, music, the animation effects of flickering firelight and sound effects to create the first multi-media presentation—Cro Magnon virtual reality." p. 2.

"Aesthetics aside, there is little difference between ancient cave art, Disneyland, a museum exhibit, or the corporate multi-media program. All use stylized images and other sensory stimulation to create. . .'soft adventures.'" p. 3.

O'Boyle goes on to say that "we are working at the dawn of the twenty-first century with a brain that processes information in the same manner as that of our ancient ancestors." In the blink of an evolutionary eye we have gone from those smears of ochres, firelight, bone whistles to PowerPoint presentations and virtual meet-ups.

It is my strong suggestion that our Cro‑Magnon ancestors went to the cave not to conjure up hunting magic so that they might eat more and better, I am almost certain, as certain as I can be without them coming back to tell it to me with their own audible voices, that they went to the caves because they loved the music, they loved looking at the paintings, they went because they enjoyed themselves.

They weren't all that different from us, they are us, we are them. Several years ago I visited Stonehenge. I took this picture of a fellow tourist sending a picture of the monument out. Note that he's on one phone and using a second.

We don't need deep mysterious motives to understand our ancestors, we need only to look in the mirror and look at ourselves and how we operate in our own world. Thus to answer the question of why they painted pictures of their world, of wondrous deer and antelopes, bison, mammoths, is because they could and they wanted to. Same with Stonehenge, they could and they wanted to. We are the richer and better for it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Why We and They Do It...

Patrick Appel while blogging for Andrew Sullivan in The Daily Dish posted this about "The Religion of Art" quoting Michael Lewis from The New Republic 1994.

“The religion of art has been appropriated from artists by collectors and dealers. How and when I do not know; but at some point the idealist and the consumer began to walk hand in hand. The idea that works of art confer nobility upon those who trade them is simply an extension of the notion that works of art are a repository of terminal values. And the comical pretensions of the art market are simply a response to the idealists’ prejudice that things done for their own sake are more noble or “fine” than things done for a concrete purpose (say, money or prestige).”
Appel goes on to say “Art’s belief structure is part of why Damien Hirst could sell a formaldehyded shark for a cool $12 million. While such a purchase might not make sense to ordinary person, to an art affectionado [sic] the price is affirmed by a belief in the nobility and the near sacredness of art-making.”

So on reading this and thinking about on how the likes of Warhol, Hirst and Koons seemingly dominate the high-end art market because of their appeal to collectors whose skill is in recognizing their art as commodities that then celebrate their own terminal values of acquisition and shuffling of monied instruments, would there be a justifiable reaction by a Marxist leaning artist to want jump off screaming “I want nothing to do with this!”

Knowing how far most artists are from making this kind of commodity art, knowing that we can never crack this market, why do we keep on making art? Also knowing how many artists seemingly espouse left-of-center values, it poses the question of why artists want rich people to buy what we produce.

In an interview with Chuck Close, Phong Bui in The Brooklyn Rail. . . .”when I was 11. I saw this Jackson Pollock drip painting with aluminum paint, tar, gravel and all that stuff. I was absolutely outraged, disturbed. It was so far removed from what I thought art was. However, within 2 or 3 days, I was dripping paint all over my old paintings. In a way I’ve been chasing that experience ever since. That’s the reason why I’ve been going to see shows in different galleries, and trying to look at the work of emerging artists as much as I can, in an attempt to recreate or re-live that sensation of being shocked. That’s the greatest moment in an artist’s life. Whatever you hold true to art is being challenged; you sort of recoil and it gets under your skin and just keeps bothering you until you understand what the issues are. After all, painting is just colored dirt smeared on flat surface, on wood panels, canvases. It makes space where it doesn’t exist, but you relate to it through life experience. Anyway, after Pollock it was Frank Stella’s black stripes paintings, and the first time I saw Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes at Stable gallery my reaction was the same. That kind of wonderful freshness that challenges one’s previous perception. I think that the art world at any given time is like a huge amoeba shape, and someone eventually comes along and operates outside of that shape. They make work that doesn’t fit anywhere and nobody’s quite sure whether it’s art or not. And very quickly the amoeba goes out and encapsulate that isolated island outside the mainstream and sort of moves it into the body of the art world. And as a result, the art world is modified because that artist was there; they digested and brought new insight and ways of seeing art. I love the fact that there’re no agreed upon standards of judgment, and no yardstick that applied to every work of art.”

Close goes on to further say, “Painters drop crumbs along the trail. . .for others to pick up if they want to.”

Thus to paraphrase Simon Schama in naming the artists who picked up Vincent Van Gogh’s bread crumbs, Oskar Kokoschka, Howard Hodgkin, Villem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.

This is what we artists want and need to do. We want to see into the unknown, have that shock of wonderful freshness that Close refers to, we want to modify the world somehow, to pick up those breadcrumbs that have been left for us, to drop a few for others to find.

At some level, it becomes a religious, transcendental experience to smear paint onto those surfaces, to create new spaces and new realities, as well as for those patrons, who no matter how well-heeled, can perhaps share in the experience by buying and selling it (to each other), owning it, donating it to the high temples of art museums.

This is the only explanation I can come up with so far in my short life for this odd, yet enduring partnership, relationships, symbiosis between artists and patrons. How can unique objects such as artwork become commodities and playthings for the wealthy? We are of course most familiar with the phenomenon as it was well documented starting in the Renaissance. The clichéd answer as to how the flowering of art in Renaissance Italy came about was that there was an expansion of the human spirit, an idealist answer. And yet, Florence and Venice, where double entry bookkeeping was invented, were huge, crass commercial centers, intensely interested in the constant toting up of value and money. The Florentines and the Venetians were consumers, of paintings, sculpture, Persian rugs, furniture, they were monstrously acquisitive to the point of terrorizing their neighbors by land and sea with their conquests, and their looting. They brought the stuff home as the spoils of war. Then they paid artists to make more.

Leonardo and Michelangelo had various patrons, various relationships with them, and they made the greatest art of the age.

Clearly, the painters and sculptors of ancient Egypt were supported by their patrons. It makes me wonder if in looking at the Lascaux cave art, if there was a social system and hierarchy there as well. I come to the conclusion that they were humans, therefore they had defined relationships and rules and taboos on how to relate to each other. I now wonder how the cave artists were paid, as they had to have been rewarded somehow. I want to know who assisted them, who built the scaffolds that supported them while they worked high up on the walls. I am certain that like Rembrandt, Rafael they had assistants who mixed the paint for them? I want to know about them too. We know that the Lascaux people did not live in the cave, so what was the function of the art in the cave, a high-temple of art for sure, secular or religious?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Transcending to the Next Plane

The world outside of the Taliban mourns the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. What is forgotten is that this kind of destruction in the name of god and rigorous purity and piety is not new. What we should be reminded of is that it is just as easy to destroy art in the name of achieving immortality as it is for the artist to make art in the hope of achieving that same immortality.

A quote from Mark Rothko:

"All in all, we can say that man has as often destroyed the work of artists in the hopes of achieving immortality as he has hoped to achieve immortality through the creation of such work. Even as late as the fifteenth century we have Savonarola decrying the making of pictures, inviting the populace to destroy them and, imparting his terror to the artists themselves, convincing them to add their own works voluntarily to the flaming pyre in the hope of gaining immortality. Among those artists was Botticelli, who destroyed some of his best works, although he continued to paint. The Reformation, no doubt, accounts greatly for the turning of the Dutch to genre art, for they must have felt that Old Testament purism toward the representation of spiritual things. This change constituted its own type of vandalism, for it contributed greatly to the decline of great classical art." [p. 6. The Artist's Reality: philosphies of art, Mark Rothko, edited and with an introduction by Christopher Rothko, 2004]

Parenthetically, this destruction of art and other luxuries is known as the bonfire of the vanities. "Savonarola had organized troops of his followers to go from house to house, requesting people to give up their "vanities," from cosmetics to "pagan" books, and paintings that did not represent sacred subjects. On the tall pyramid, fifteen stories-high, that was set on fire, the followers of Savonarola threw carnival masks, rich feminine ornaments, mirrors, cosmetics, cards and dice, perfume, books of poetry and on magic, musical instruments, and worldly paintings where female bodies were displayed unclothed. Botticelli, a very sensitive soul, was so impressed (or so scared) by Savonarola that he threw many of his paintings on the bonfires." [By Laura Stortoni-Hager, from L'Italo Americano, April 2004]

Rothko speaks of the Mohammedans destroying Byzantine Christian art because it was representational and thus blasphemous, of the Byzantines destroying earlier Hellenic art because it was profane and not devoted to a holy purpose, and Turks whitewashing the iconographic images at Hagia Sofia.

Here's a quote from Wikipedia: "Hagia Sophia (Turkish: Ayasofya, Greek: Αγία Σοφία; "Holy Wisdom", Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia) is a former patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum, in Istanbul,Turkey. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It was the largest cathedral ever built in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Medieval Seville Cathedral in 1520."

Sometimes we destroy merely because we haven't got a clue what we're doing, hence the Ohio Turnpike flattened a number of the Hopewell Mounds. Sometimes we destroy just by being well intentioned, as atLascaux, which is now endangered by black and red fungi apparently newly generated by a mechanical air circulation system. A large part of how ancient art has been preserved has sometimes been simple, the desiccated air of Egypt, not any of the religious rituals of removing organs and wrapping of the mummies, is what has saved them. The destruction of earthquakes has also been responsible for not only creating the ruins across the Near East, but the layers of detritus that help us date them. And sometimes destruction is through horribly mistaken assumptions and vanities as when Heinrich Schliemann bulldozed his trenches through Troy.

Art has power. It has the power to enlighten and to frighten. Art is also mortal, art objects, paintings, sculptures, burial mounds, buildings are subject to the vagariousness of time and happenstance.

Piling on Damien Hirst, Why Not?

Leon Weseltier in The New Republic talks about Damien Hirst's latest marketing gambit in which he is directly bringing his latest work "The Golden Calf" to Sotheby's in London for auction in September, bypassing his galleries. As his galleries make oodles of money off of his work, all they can do is hope that this will enrich them all in the churn.

Weseltier uses an interesting phrase to describe this, he labels it a "pseudo-meaningful stunt." He further describes the copy of the press release as reminding him of "real-estate porn; but in these straitened times art-porn is replacing real-estate porn."

I have been trying to understand and place such "happenings" as Chris Burden's reception of a 22 bullett, Yves Klein's models drenched in blue paint, and Damien Hirst's sharks, Koons' giant balloons, and other such anti-art events and things into some kind of scheme. I have come up with the usual, 'anti-museum,' 'anti-art,' 'subject matter as the lack of longevity as an object,' the 'captured moment,' and leaving just a 'residue of documentation.' But I like and I am going to use Weseltier's phrase "the pseudo-meaningful stunt."

I close with this quote from my art-mother, Agnes Martin, "I paint to make friends and hope I will have as many as Mozart." [p. 78, Kunstraum catalogue, December 1973] Damien Hirst has many friends that he enriched beyond their wildest dreams has he not?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More on Artists' Statements

This is from The Guardian, an article by Jonathan Jones: "Explanations are the traitor of art."

"It is a vice of second-rate art to come with its own eloquent explanationattached. If an artist can translate the meaning and purpose of a work into easily understandable words, it means one of two things. Either the artist is lying, in order to ease the way with patrons and funders; or the artist is a fool. And if dishonesty is the reason, that too is something that vitiates art. No serious art is easy to interpret. Nor is there ever a single valid interpretation of art. If art is good, there are many things to be said about it and much that will remain unsayable."

To quote one of my favorites, Ad Reinhart, "Art is art. Everything else is everything else." It seems silly to add this on, but the subject matter of visual art is the visual experience.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Curious Economics

To follow up on the previous post about who is buying the high-end art, here's a link from Andrew Sullivan. Money quote, literally,
"The art market sells fame more than it sells objects. Focusing on the shark misses the point: conceptual art emphasized the idea over the object, and the art market responded by commodifying the idea. When the rich buy artwork, they may be buying their way into a select group of the "cool" rich but they are also asserting their understanding of contemporary art. That most people wouldn't buy a $12 million stuffed shark, even if they had the money, is part of the allure."

The shark, of course, is Damien Hirst's.

Plain truth, all one has to do is visit any art museum of any size or consequence and the first thing that one sees, isn't necessarily the art, but who endowed it, on the big walls with the plaques. That's what it's about at this exalted level, who can brag about it, who can buy and gild their fame.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Never Been a Great Woman Artist, SAY WHAT?

From an article in Sunday's The Independent, by Andrew Johnson, there was some discussion about the disparities between the prices paid for men versus women artists, even as the prices for art by both genders were setting new records. Sellers of work by Marlene Dumas, Louise Bourgeois and Bridget Riley were the beneficiaries, not to mention Christies Auction House.

Quoted was an art critic by the name of Brian Sewell, "The art market is not sexist," Mr Sewell said. "The likes of Bridget Riley and Louise Bourgeois are of the second and third rank. There has never been a first-rank woman artist." Sewell then adds, "Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness. Women make up 50 per cent or more of classes at art school. Yet they fade away in their late 20s or 30s. Maybe it's something to do with bearing children." What a sadly deluded misogynist.

But I think the idea that makes the most sense is this one: "You cannot equate the monetary value of art with the aesthetic worth of the artist," she said. "One would expect the art world to be more egalitarian. It was only in 2004 that a living woman, Marlene Dumas, broke through the $1m barrier. At the top end of the market, the people who can afford to spend a lot are entrepreneurial men. And they buy entrepreneurial artists – Warhol, Hirst, Koons – artists they perhaps identify with." as quoted by writer and sociologist Sarah Thornton.

So when our putative buyers begin to identify with "us," whoever we are, they'll be buying what "we" make?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wendy Tuxill, Artist

[caption id="attachment_674" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Wendy Tuxill, "Exploring Process Porcelain Drawing 2," liquid porcelain, 12"x11-1/2"."]Wendy Tuxill, Exploring Process Porcelain Drawing 2, liquid porcelain, 12"x11-1/2".[/caption]

I had the pleasure of meeting Wendy Tuxill a couple of weeks ago at Woman Made Gallery where she was dropping off her entry for the Drawing on Experience show. Wendy is what I call a frontier artist, she is pushing her concepts and art-making out to the very edges of what is possible. By this I mean the American definition wherein the frontier is the boundary between a settled known set of places beyond which is empty land and unknown territory. Wendy is taking her work and venturing out into those unknown places.
Wendy is pouring and forming porcelain slip, drawing with it, sculpting with it. She calls it 'conceptual' ceramics, pushing this extremely fragile medium out to its very furthest edge.

The essence of pottery and its making is that is a contradictory set of materials. Pottery is extremely useful, becoming dishes, cook-ware, and storage, and yet can be made to be purely sculptural. Pottery is demonstrably the oldest and most durable of all human-made materials, it is the first thing that archaeologists look for and find at all pre-historic sites. It will shatter but the shards will remain and endure. Fragility and endurance through time are the contradictory qualities of pottery.

Porcelain similarly carries with it these contradictory qualities, as it is has a high amount of glass which adds strength and hardness, but also makes it more brittle, even as it is more elastic to work with before firing.

Another contradiction contained in the materials of pottery and porcelain is they are base, dug out of the earth, fired at high temperatures and have the benefit of generations of technical expertise and technology passed on through the years. Clay is also one of the most familiar and durable building materials, in its adobe form, mixed with straw in a dry climate, in its wattle and daub form, slabbed onto woven saplings and whitewashed to make it more waterproof.

So, in looking at and thinking about Wendy Tuxill's art, I can't help but think about Andy Goldsworthy's approach to the concept of fragility. Wendy's art, like all art, begs to be touched, and it not only appears to be extremely fragile, but it is absolutely visibly apparent that it is extremely breakable. I find my mental hands reaching out and pulling back at this piece in the exhibit.

Both Tuxill and Goldsworthy are making statements about the nature of fragility with their art pieces. Goldsworthy, in a sense, is inviting the viewer to touch and destroy his intensely natural found sculptural objects, balanced precariously on themselves, knowing that sooner or later, they will melt, blow away or even rot. Tuxill's pieces play with the notions of fragility in a material that hopes and prays for endurance through many generations. Goldsworthy plays with the fragility of objects that at times will not even last through the day.

It's not merely that Tuxill's pieces say "don't touch me," built in to their existence is the absolute certainty that to touch is to destroy. She is pushing the porcelain slip from its liquid existence to a very delicate, ethereal solid, pushing against time. I look forward to seeing more.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Art Not Special II

I write this in response to Joyce Owen's insightful comments to my earlier post "Art Not So Special," in which she speaks from her special and delightful experiences as an art teacher. She talks of how students with no background in the arts learn that they too can not only make art but come to appreciate it and in the process become good consumers of the arts.

I was writing and thinking from the viewpoint of what I call the edifices of the arts. As an example, a few years ago I went to the Tate Britain and in my Midwestern callowness remarked to myself how nice it was that they had the big steps and the lions on either side, just like 'our Art Institute.' Only after I went inside, to my own internal chagrin, did I realize that ourArt Institute in Chicago was the imitator. Similarly, several years ago I visited one of the most remarkable museums in the U.S., the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York (which I highly recommend), that had the same big steps flanked by the lions. Not only is the exterior architecture imitative, once inside the visitor is confronted by the plaques of the donors, the bigger the size of the names the bigger the donations.

The art consumer is confronted, and I am convinced intimated, by edifices and temples that glorify the architecture. The floors are hard marble, there's an ethic of silence and quietude, which I suppose is to show awed respect. [Do the paintings care if people are making noise?] The museums have become immense secular cathedrals designed to impose on the visitor his/her smallness in the presence of greatness. This isn't confined to the Greco-Romanesque yearnings of 19th century architects and patrons, but continues, for instance, with Gehry's stainless steel constructs in Bilbao and elsewhere.

Then these spaces are filled with with art that is increasingly inaccessible to the so-called common viewer, defended by obscure jargon laden writings. The museums are under pressure to increase memberships, pay the building funds, increase traffic, to go blockbuster.

To quote from an article in The Australian by Diane Ragsdale, "Let's Aim for the Cultural Omnivore," 'We may have a generation of cultural omnivores out there, but arts organisations have made it difficult for them to feast because they've created silos between high art and low art, and between the disciplines of music, theatre, dance, opera and the visual arts." To which I add, how many of us could afford to buy seasons tickets to the opera, the symphony, the dance program and memberships at the big art museums, all in the same year?

Then she adds, "In the mind of the consumer, it's all culture. By maintaining their separate and better than others status, art organisations could be losing their spot at the banquet. Rather than competing against one another to sell subscriptions and single tickets, perhaps they could work together to increase cultural participation."

Diane Ragsdale says that in our modern computerized social networking age the tools exist to make us cultural omnivores with easy access to all the arts. She argues that community-wide computerized networks could link arts consumers with their preferences, favorite composers, artists, authors, books, movies, television and develop a system of recommendations, that would link also to Amazon, Netflix, the ticket office at the theater, the openings at the galleries.

In this way, we could lose our fear of the big boxes that push potential arts consumers away. For myself, I don't understand why when I go to these places, sometimes out of duty, because as an artist, I am supposed to like going to museums, I am exhausted by the process. It shouldn't be as hard as it is to be a good arts consumer.

Installation Pictures My Latest Exhibit

I love seeing pictures of people looking at my artwork; it's what I want as an artist; viewers taking the time to look and think.

[gallery link="file" columns="4" orderby="rand"]

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Arts Not So Special

Andrew Taylor in his blog, The Artful Manager, talks about why arts organizations have such a hard time finding their audiences, after attending a conference on such...

'And then one participant said this:
''We need to stop making the arts so special.''
and then ends his post as follows

'Art and artistic expression shouldn't be the jewelry of society, it should be part of the blood, part of the muscle, and part of the bone. When our strategies set us apart from the world so that we can be separately admired, supported, and valued, we shouldn't be surprised when we are perceived as separate.

As John Dewey wrote more than 70 years ago: 'As long as art is the beauty parlor of civilization, neither art nor civilization is secure.'"

Rejection Letters Yet Again...

Here's a response from a rejected writer to a literary magazine. Why not write back and tell "them" what you think of their carelessness?

It's not that we artistics want to be accepted all the time, that would get very, very weird, very, very fast. It's more like we want rejections to be timely, not xeroxed and mass-produced, not addressed to 'Dear Unnamed Artist,' and give some evidence that the entries were looked at with some care and attention in the rejection response.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Women and Blogging....

This has been posted several places on the web, from Crooked Timber. There seems to be an apparent gender difference between the numbers of men and women who are blogging.

Money quotes: "The post reports on a study in which we found that male college students are more likely than their female counterparts to share creative content online even though both men and women in the sample are equally likely to create such content. However, when controlling for online skill, the gender differences in posting go away.

". . .the paper “The Participation Divide: Content Creation and Sharing in the Digital Age” this Spring in the journal Information, Communication and Society. We examine the extent to which college students share creative content online and whether we can identify any systematic differences by user background. In particular, we looked at whether students create and share the following types of material: poetry/fiction, artistic photography, music, and video (both completely own and remixed in the case of the latter two), including both private and public sharing."

My response--give me an effing break, cut it the eff out. The last sentence of the first quoted paragraph, here italicized: However, when controlling for online skill, the gender differences in posting go away.

How does one measure online skill and gender differences, that's the scientific paper(s) I want scattered all over the web. And the set of students measured is college students? The babies of the computer age who have never lived without a computer, who have never lived without a remote control or automated answering systems on their telephones would have measurable gender differences in usage? This just does not compute at all. What's that line about equally likely to create but less likely to share? Ooooh ick.

Monday, June 23, 2008

On Jeff Koons More

These are Charlotte Segal's impressons of the Jeff Koons show we saw a couple of weeks ago at the MCA in Chicago. . ."Yes, our visit to Koons show didn't produce anything newer than taking toys to monumental scale. I did like the Egg very much too, but it made me guestion why we strive to be original unto our own images and then find no one cares a hoot unless it is funky and doesn't require questioning as to the artist's ability to communicate. Koons just relied on the success of those artists he most admired and regurgitated those already done surfaces and shapes. He gets away with it while you and I would be chastised by the likes of Alan Artner, for example."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ongoing Dialogue with Joyce Owens...

Joyce Owens is a superior artist and blogger. We have been having an on-going dialogue about various issues. Joyce's uppermost concerns have to do with cultural identity issues as an African-American artist, as a woman artist. I have been mulling these things over in my head, and have yet to put anything out dealing directly with her important questions. However, once in a while I respond,

This is what I said in response to Joyce's post, Check Out The Really Rich Artists, in which she referred to Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Lucien Freud:

"At some level we are not making art for our contemporaries or the contemporary market. We are hoping to extend ourselves into the future, to defy our mortality. Think of how we feel when we look at images from Lascaux. In some sense we make our objects and are casting them into the wake of the ship of our lives. To make my point succinct, our successors may or may not appreciate Damien Hirst's diamond embedded skull as anything other than a curiosity of our own narcissism, or his. Who will remember Chris Burden's reception of a 22 bullet? Who will want to? There's a historical process that filters. We're hoping to pass through that filter. And always, we artists are engaged in active dialogues with each other and the culture we swim through."

Friday, June 6, 2008

On Not Necessarily Naming

I know that's a weird title for a post, but here's where I'm coming from. So much art criticism and reviewing and thinking about art has to do with button-holing, creating a presumed category, then attaching a label. Such that in the previous post on the work of Jeff Koons, I totally and deliberately avoided the terms Dada, Neo-Dada, New Realism, Pop Art, Assemblage, but allowed 'ready-made' because I think that term is quite descriptive.

I am mindful of this quote from Donald Judd from 1964, "the history of art and art's condition at any time are pretty messy. They should stay that way. One can think about them as much as one likes, but they won't become neater; neatness isn't even a good reason for thinking about them." Page 92, Kirk T. Varnedoe, Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art Since Pollock, 2006, Princeton University Press.

To further elaborate on the ideas of Varnedoe, the objects Koons make exist in an interstice, in a space between object and illusion. There's a nihilism in which he is attempting to destroy the existence of that original cracked egg by expanding it way, way above its original size and grossly flipping the fragility of the original shell to the strength of the aluminum. I am sure that his intent in the Cracked Egg is confrontational. My concern is that we have been confronted in this manner so often, that our own heads are battered with the knowledge and it has become meaningless.

Some Thoughts on Art of Jeff Koons

My buddy Charlotte Segal and I went last Tuesday, free night, to the MCA in Chicago, to see the Jeff Koons exhibit. I have mixed thoughts about what I saw, and what I have seen of his work over the years, and have yet to come to a conclusion about whether or not I like his work, whether or not in my own estimation I think he's a valued artist. I recognize his debt to Ed Paschke, who was also one of Charlotte's teachers.

My basic quibble, if one could call it that, is that Koons owes a considerable debt to Andy Warhol, whose work borders and explores the boundaries of kitsch and cartooning and exploration of the depiction of the banal in our everyday images. Then Koons comes along and makes cartoons of the kitsch and the cartooning. It doesn't work for me, this making of a cartoon of a cartoon.

Where Koons' work is strongest to me are the works with extreme changes in scale and materials. For instance, we saw a piece, the giant cracked egg "Cracked Egg (Magenta)" which was about 8 foot tall, and looked like old fashioned colored aluminum, or the balloonish snoopy thing "Balloon Dog (Orange)". The cracked egg dealt with the juxtaposition of the notion that it is a broken thing rendered in highly polished and strong aluminum, an exposition of strength. The balloon dog similarly juxtaposed the notion of the fragility of the easily popped membrane with the polished strength of metal wrought way, way oversized.

And then there were the Toaster pieces, the plain toasters mounted over flourescent tubes, but these struck me as old territory heavily visited, initially by Duchamp's Urinoir. Duchamp produced the Urinoir in 1917, added just a few ready-mades over the next few years and then essentially retired as an artist because he had made his point. Koons is making the same points about the ordinariness of the everyday over and over again and again. Maybe I just get tired of the feeling that the point of "here, look at how banal ready-mades are" gets made over and over again.

As for the notion that works by an artist of Koons' apparent stature should possess unique import never before seen, I don't necessarily see it in his art-work, but he has crossed and defined frontiers on the legal front, losing the suit in the String of Puppies case, but winning forNiagara. I salute this because I believe that all visual artists stand on each other's shoulders, and that all artists' images, belong out there in the free-for-all world.

In a world replete with so much art, so many images, advertising and ideas, it is difficult to see how artists can avoid bumping into each other. We should stop worrying about this, and look forward to the process of playing with our ideas without fear, even if they cannot be totally unique.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg is Dead

One of the several things I heard about Robert Rauschenberg was his storied penchant for attending opening receptions quite drunk, embracing patrons while wearing a porcupine quill jacket, and his temper tantrum when Robert Scull sold one of his paintings at an enormous profit. Enormous profit to Scull, but not to Rauschenberg.

""I've been working my tail off just for you to make that profit", Robert Rauschenberg said angrily to Robert Scull. Scull, a wealthy collector, had just sold Rauschenberg's painting "Thaw" at auction at Sotheby Parke Bernet for $85,000, and Scull had declined to give Rauschenberg any share of the proceeds. This was a painting that Scull had bought some 15 years earlier from Rauschenberg, at that time a struggling young artist, for only $900." Quoted from an article by entertainment and arts lawyer, Nicholas A. Carlin, entitled RAUSCHENBERG'S ANGST: THE CALIFORNIA RESALE ROYALTY LAW AND HOW IT AFFECTS DEALERS AND COLLECTORS, written for Art West 1995.

Rauschenberg agitated for some years on this point, but only California responded with a droit de suite lawDroit de suite is French for "right to follow," a law passed in the 20's when it was realized that the heirs of the artist Millet lived in poverty even though one of his paintings had sold at an enormous increase. Most protests against enacting such a law on a wider basis in the U.S. are based on the projected difficulties of administration.

What if there was something like ASCAP for visual artists? The process seems to work to distribute royalties to musicians.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Read About Me at Chicago Arts Lifestyle...

I've been interviewed for a blog on Chicago art and artists! Read and comment.

Mirjana Ugrinov, Art In Embassy Program

Wow, Mirjana Ugrinov's work is hanging in the Ambassador's residence in Belgrade! Thanks to the U.S. State Department's Art in Embassies program. I have been a fan and an admirer of Mirjana's work for years. By the way this painting has a title, The Correct Yes: based on the poem by Lois Roma-Deeley. Left Panel: Between Pearl Birds. Right Panel: Fear the Sun Turning West.

La Raza Visits Our Studio Open House

Left to right, Guillermo Carrillo, Basia Krol, Nancy Charak, Kevin Swallow. I look good, even in Spanish. Thanks to Guillermo Carrillo, a native of Columbia, one of the artists who works in our building of artist's studios, a reporter came from La Raza to interview him and the other artists in the building. Guillermo understands that if you invite the press and other important guests they just might come by to see you and your work. "If you don't invite them, how will they know whether or not to come?" That's my newest motto.
The article talks about Guillermo's history as an artist, his home town in Columbia, and the variety of art media, styles and ethnicities of the artists in the building.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Art Doesn't Have to Match Your Sofa

Photographer artist and blogger Jeane Vogel, says it best, “This year I added a line to my artist statement. Most people ignore it but a handful have made it a point to cheer. It reads: ‘Art should match your soul, not your sofa.'"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Chicago Artists Month October 2008 is Coming...

As a member of several organizations here in Chicago, the ARC Gallery, the Ravenswood Art Walk and FOTA, I will be participating in Chicago Artists Month.

Every year the organizers announce and promote a theme; this year's theme is "Artists and Issues that Matter." Their quote runs: "These issues could be those of most concern/interest to the participating artists/organizations, including political, environmental, moral, social, global or personal issues."

As I have said before in a previous post Art for Moral Purposes, I am very uncomfortable with efforts to relate art and art objects to so-called higher purposes. As far as I am concerned, art is its own purpose, it is its own means to its own end. In fact I think it debases the art by attempting to squeeze it into categories that are intended to prove that art is useful.

The question of whether or not art is useful to society is not about whether or not art solves our moral dilemmas, or whether or not art helps us cure AIDS. It doesn't and it can't.

It is perfectly possible to view the work of the great impressionists, listen to great classical music and then get up in the morning and exterminate Jews and commit other atrocities. It is perfectly possible to be a monstrous human being and still make great art. Leni Riefenstahl went to her grave convinced that she did nothing wrong in using slave labor in her movies. And yet to this day, every sports program in television or in the movies owes a debt to her ground-breaking vision in Olympiad, very little sports photography since has been new. It can be argued that Leni invented and defined almost the entire genre of images and viewpoints.

In the Iliad and the Odyssey, Homer describes massacres and betrayals in limitless mind numbing detail. Woman captives are raped and enslaved. Babies have their heads smashed in. The causes of all the bronze age woe, Helen and Menelaus, end up living out their lives back again together. Does any of this stop us from reading and re-reading this story?

Let art be art without having to assign so-called higher moral values to it. As an aside, Rupert Brooke imagined what Helen and Menelaus' life was after Troy.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why I try to make all of my work "Archival"

This post from C-Monster explains why if we as artists want our work to outlast our own mortality, we should pay as much attention to the archival qualities of our materials. Why one should not make artwork out of pop tarts or animal carcasses encased in formaldehyde.

Having said that, it is still my contention that the art-form that lives the longest is totally not tangible, poetry and stories. We are still reciting Homer, we are still telling the oldest tales, even when they are in comic books, video games and Battlestar Galactica. The actual totally archival medium is the human memory, the human need to tell stories to each other and to our children.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Agnes MartinVija CelminsKatherina GrosseSandra Blow, and Linda Karshan. All serious abstract expressionists, who no matter what they work on, be it paper, canvas or even buildings, dare you to look at what they do.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Go to Montana in May!

No. 131, 22x30in., Graphite, pencil, oil stick on black 90lb. Stonehenge, 2007

To see this, Untitled No. 131, you have to go to Montana! Untitled No. 131, 22"x30", oil, pencil and graphite on 90# black Stonehenge paper.
RESONANCE, Solo Exhibit at the University Center Gallery University of Montana in Missoula Opening reception: Thursday, May 1 Exhibit runs to May 31

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bringing art to a wider audience

This is the kind of thing I've been talking about. Check out this story and this picture in The Art Daily Newsletter. These people are at the St. Pancras station in London waiting for the Eurostar train, they're looking at paintings from the collection of the National Gallery. Why not? We have the technology to do this anywhere, anytime.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More of the Art of Alienation

Money quote: from the Wall Street Journal about turgid, unreadable writing about art. Note this quote from the article.

" . . invents puzzles out of nonsequiturs to seek congruence in seemingly incongruous situations, whether visual or spatial . . . inhabits those interstitial spaces between understanding and confusion.'"

And further, . . ."Still, there is no excuse for a museum letting nonsense of the sort quoted above out in the open, particularly an institution whose mission includes educating the public. If the Whitney continues to snub this public -- its core audience -- by "explaining" art with incomprehensible drivel, it shouldn't be surprised if people decide to return the favor and walk away."


I just received a rejection letter from a university gallery that I applied to in response to their call in a national art magazine, no problem. My motto is "they can't reject you if you don't apply." What I do mind is sloppiness.

The call was posted in March of 2007, with an open deadline. I responded with a package of images on a CD, a proposal and the usual SASE, in April of 2007. Not getting an answer by November of that same year, I emailed the institution and the listed contact person. This individual's reply was that they never received my package. So, I shrugged my shoulders and thought "Oh well, there's a slip twixt cup and lip." And resolved to henceforth use the return receipt function of snail-mail.

To my complete and utter surprise several days ago, I received a rejection letter and all of my materials as sent in the original package, a full year later! April of 2008. This is unmitigated sloppiness and what's more, borders on cruelty.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Music VS. Visual Art

Visual art is important to me. I look at art constantly in as many places as possible and I make art. I find it sad and astonishing that so many people are able to offer up fear and ignorance without any qualms about the visual arts, in a way that they don't about music or movies. Why is it that you never hear people say, "I don't know much about music, but I know what I like." You will hear people say which music or movies genres, artists, groups, songs they like and dislike quite easily without that "I don't know much" disclaimer.

Maybe it has to do with how easily music and movies are distributed throughout our culture, but artwork is physical, tangible, palpable and hard to get to. And then there's what I call the white cube phenomenon. Art galleries and museums tend to be such forbidding edifices, all white and glossy inside, the guests walking in great silence, moving from object to object at respectful distances, never sitting and looking, just moving. The floors are hard, the spine takes a jolt, the jaunt becomes physically wearying, and the food is cute, but expensive. When I would gallery sit at the ARC Gallery, I would get phone calls from potential visitors asking if there was an admission price, if they needed a ticket, if there was a dress code. I find this very, very sad.

Clearly, the system, the cultural system is not disseminating enough art throughout the culture. I wonder why we can't turn on the television, replete with hundreds of channels, to the Art Institute channel, or to a potential Dada TV channel. Or maybe we have to organize field trips for adults, so that once a year every adult in the U.S. has to attend a visual arts event. Just a thought.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


An artist working in Swansea, Wales by the name of Richard Monahan, defines drawing:

"In my opinion and the definition that is most relevant to my own work is that drawing can be defined as such; The making of a mark upon a surface, with a hard-nibbed tool." - source:

The most important aspect to my definition is the idea that drawing must be made with a tool that is of a solid consistency, not a brush as this has an articulation, nor a computer, as this has many interventions from the moment the idea leaves the hand to the moment to when it appears on screen, but with a pencil, a pen, charcoal etc.

The reason for this has to do with the immediacy that a hard-nibbed object brings to the work. If you are to draw a line with a brush some may consider this an act of drawing but to me the articulated head of a brush is one separation between the mark made upon the ground from the physical action of the hand and therefore the brain. This separation causes the mark made to be less accurate to the influence of the hand/brain. The more separations you have between hand and ground, the less human the activity becomes.The reason I admire the act of drawing above all other art forms is its ability to convey the artists thoughts, sub-conscious and conscious, to the viewer. This is the reason that seeing artists sketch-books is of vital importance to understanding their work. It is this honesty and the immediacy of the process of understanding thought through drawing and conversely drawing through thought that makes the subject so important to every artist. I believe that to attain the ultimate accuracy and understanding of this relationship between brain and hand, the journey on to paper must be as little interrupted as possible. The pencil is, afterall, a more accurate extension of the hand.

I have expanded this line of thought into differing materials and most recently paint. By cutting and scarring a line through the surface of paint I am able to retain the primacy of drawing in conjunction with the many different qualities of oil paints.

The work is then presented with an oblique light raking the surface of the image that lends each line an accompanying shadow, thereby high-lighting the drawn qualities.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008


The art dealer Larry Salander whose gallery Salander-O'Reilly was shut down due to allegations of financial improprieties is quoted as saying, "Our society now values a Warhol for three times as much money as a great Rembrandt." Further, "That tells me that we're fucked. It's as if people would rather fuck than make love."

Thanks to The Atlantic, here's a quote: I don't have a lot of sympathy for those who bemoan contemporary art and seek a return to the old-masters. Appreciating formalism is one thing; crusading against contemporary art in order to correct an alleged cultural imbalance is something else entirely. When you buy a piece of art from a living artist you are funding her next project; you are allowing her to continue with her work. What does it matter to Rembrandt how much his painting sells for?

I SECOND THE MOTION, with this caveat, Warhol endowed a foundation that does good work: The Foundation's objective is to foster innovative artistic expression and the creative process by encouraging and supporting cultural organizations that in turn, directly or indirectly, support artists and their work. The Foundation values the contribution these organizations make to artists and audiences and to society as a whole by supporting, exhibiting and interpreting a broad spectrum of contemporary artistic practice.

So buy contemporary art from living artists or from the recently deceased, you'll be funding our next projects, helping us pay our studio rent, or supporting our heirs and heiresses.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Advice to a Young Artist

As I get to be an older artist, I worry less and less about my own or other artist's intentions, but look directly at the objects themselves. As artists we make objects. It is my suggestion that you research and think about the "intentional fallacy" problem in the discussions of art, artists and art objects. All too often we analyze the artwork by talking about the intentions of the artists and the viewers but not the art objects themselves. The objects have physical presence and frequently physical power in and of themselves.