Monday, May 31, 2010

Agnes Martin: Empty Yet Meaning-full

Agnes MartinAgnes Martin, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK, Financial Times, By Robin Blake, Published: May 31 2010.

"Can a work of art be both empty of meaning and a pleasure to look at? It is a particularly tough question about abstract painting, because iconography, through which meaning and intention are found, is missing or concealed. Yet we always do find ourselves seeking out significance, and we look to the artist to help us."

[Agnes Martin's] "This work had all of minimalism’s patent characteristics: radically spare in appearance, made from immediately evident materials and with none of the traditional painting techniques that tend to make a holy mystery of artistic creation. After five years or so, most other leading minimalists grew bored and drifted in new directions but Martin remained on this track for the rest of her long life – no theory, no hiding of technique, no reference to actuality. “I paint,” she said, “with my back to the world.”

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Art is a Conversation, Not a Patent Office

Thank you to David Shields, author of a new book, "Reality Hunger: A New Manifesto." Headlined at the Huffington Post as "In Writing, Art and Music Everybody Steals." As I've always said about my own work, I stand on the shoulders of giants, and at the present moment, Helen Frankenthaler's work is very much in my art-head.

Quotes from the article:

"Art is a conversation between and among artists, not a patent office."

"Reality can't be copyrighted."

"William Gibson: Who owns the words? We all do, though not all of us know it yet."

"And once we all did: artists have plundered one another since the beginning of time; copyright has existed only during the last 60 years."

"In digital culture, it's especially important for us to be able to sample, remix, mash-up materials available to us at the click of a button, but the law has a stranglehold on literature, perhaps because both literature and the law are verbal."

"The mimetic function has been replaced by manipulation of the original."

Shields lists numerous examples of artists using the work and ideas of predecessors. The image is my drawing, "Mountains and Sea," in definite homage to Helen Frankenthaler's own piece of the same name, 44"x30", 2009, pencil, prismacolor and oil stick on 90# Stonehenge paper.

European versus American Museums

A minor comparison based solely on anecdote. I shot one picture at the Quai D'Orsay in Paris in August 2009 of Whistler's Mother forgetting to turn off the forbidden flash. Two guards walked past me from 20 feet away and merely smiled and said quietly, "no flash." I said thank you and turned it off. Similarly, I shot Picasso's Guernica at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid several weeks ago, deliberately breaking the no pictures inside the room rule, and certainly without the flash, and similarly the guard smiled, shook his finger and said in Spanish accented English (I guess I'll always look like an American on my travels), "please, not inside the room, you may shoot from the doorway."
All over the Prado I saw artists with easels doing copy work in oil in front of masterworks; not done very much here in the states, but this is an old established means of learning how great artists think, try to reproduce what they've done. It's harder than you think it might be at first try.

My questions are first why don't we see more artists doing this kind of copy work in American art museums? And what is the extreme bias that American art museums have against photographing "without flash"? I toured the Art Institute of Chicago's show of Benin Bronzes, where it was even forbidden to sketch, much less photograph. Why?

Wondrous Opening at ARC Last Night

Charlotte SegalAnn Fairley Gainesand Geoffrey Novelli held court last night at the ARC Gallery, 832 W. Superior, Chicago. The gallery was filled with friends and fans of the artists. The show is up until 6/19, so get yourself over there soon.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Charlotte Segal Artist Retrospective at ARC

Charlotte Segal is having a retrospective exhibit at the ARC Gallery in Chicago, Illinois opening this Friday, May 28, 2010. She's a wonderfully lyrical artist.

Monday, May 17, 2010

20th Evanston + Vicinity Biennial 2010

The Dreamer and The Dream, pencil, prismacolor, oil wash, oil stick on 90# white Stonehenge, 2009Jurors John Himmelfarb, Chicago artist, and Julie Rodrigues-Widholm, MCA Curator, selected this painting, "The Dreamer and The Dream," 2009, 30"x44", oil wash, pencil, prismacolor on 90# Stonehenge, for inclusion in the Evanston Art Center's Biennial.

Reception Sunday May 23 from 1 to 4, the show runs from then 'til June 27.

The venue is free and it has parking in an absolutely awesome location, 2603 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois.