Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Can the Whitney Biennial foster a NEW art movement?

Whitney Biennial Goes Global "For 70 years, the sprawling Whitney Biennial exhibition of contemporary art has prided itself on its insistence on an American point of view. But as times and tastes change and art world boundaries dissolve, the 2006 biennial's two foreign-born curators have ventured across the Atlantic. Not content with just recording what's happening in contemporary art around the United States, the curators have scoured artists' studios in art capitals like Milan, London, Paris and Berlin, a first for Whitney Biennial curators... Given the proliferation of large art fairs all over the world and the speed by which images travel across the Internet, the curators said they wanted to make this biennial something more than a rambling show of new art." The New York Times 11/30/05

The Whitney Biennial is the ultimate goal for serious American artists. Unfortunately, the event is so intimidating that many never even apply. But can the curators of the Whitney Biennial set aside egos and titles long enough to lay the ground work for the next art movement? Rather than simply search for the most outrageous, can they work together to discover unacquainted artists working through similiar ideas and styles.

When curators are not artists. When critics are not patrons. Can there be enough cohesion to bind together a group of artists or styles or ideas to form a movement? In 2006, we will discover if the new direction of the event's most recent curators is true or simply a stunt. - DN

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Who is bringing in the money? Artist or Gallery

Tracey Emin On Art In London, Art In New York “In London the artists rule, but in New York the galleries do. Gallerists here seem to be almost patriarchal figures, and the art scene is really male-dominated here. In London it’s a lot more open to women. People here don’t seem to expect me to have a sense of humor." New York Magazine 11/28/05

Without the Artist the Gallery would have nothing, but without the gallery - the artists that do sell, would sell for much less money and in theory - less frequently. Typical Gallery commission is between 40 and 60% (in the US). While a good gallery earns every penny, does that give gallery owners the right to be elitist? How often does "the economics" get in the way of galleries taking a chance on more experimental artists?

Is NY or London more accepting of emerging artists? US or Europe? - DN

Monday, November 28, 2005

Purpose of art?

What is THE purpose of art? Now this is an often stated question that is typically vague in answer. It sits right up there with the question - "What IS art?" Another humdinger.

I ran across a website that gives a pretty typical answer - To invoke a response.

Click on the below link to visit the website:

Maybe the purpose of art is not so much to invoke a response as to just make the viewer think. Thinking does not necessarily involve joy or anger.

The above artist's work could fall under the category of conceptual art... or just plain funny. But how is this different than say... "America" by Jon Stewart. It may be a reach but Jon Stewart's Daily Show and subsequent book sales are doing so well because they are intelligent humor.

After reading "America", I didn't run out and attack Republicans, but it did make me stop and think about quite a number of issues. One of my favorite features of the book was a voter's registration form with an attached coupon for White Castle (in small print it states that detaching the coupon voids the registration). Now it doesn't take more than a second to figure out which socio-economic group is being targeted by that form. But does it take any longer to relate Stewart's outrageous humor to the very real issue of the new Georgia Poll Tax?

A link to the NY Times article on the Poll Tax is below:
Georgia Poll Tax

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi didn't encourage people to anger and violence, they stirred the masses to think. Can Gandhi be considered one of the original Conceptual Artists?

The concepts of Art and Ideas are interchangeable. - DN

Maybe an Art Movement just needs good quotes.

Picasso said the following:
"Bad artists copy. Good artists steal."

"Give me a museum and I'll fill it."

"I like all painting. I always look at the paintings - good or bad - in barbershops, furniture stores, provincial hotels... I'm like a drinker who needs wine. As long as it is wine, it doesn't matter which wine."

(After viewing a collection of children's drawings) "When I was their age I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them."

Drink to me. - (Picasso's last words )

A good movement requires genuis mixed with talent, an unhealthy dose of arrogance and a few good quotes. - DN

Monday, November 21, 2005

Patronage: The Catalyst of Movements?

In a bit of "chicken or egg" theorizing, I ask these questions -

1. Is the key to forming an art movement having a ready base of patrons?

2. Do patrons create the art movements, by doing or taking over the job of PR supervision?

3. Do patrons only come later, keeping momentum in the movement?

A few examples immediately come to mind, to possibly answer these questions:

"Mark di Suvero
- art dealer Richard Bellamy was singularly devoted to the work of Mark di Suvero. An exhibition at Storm King of di Suvero's sculptures and Bellamy's photographs of them chronicles this productive partnership." - Art in America (November 2005)

Michelangelo had both the Catholic Church and the Medici family. Now the Medici boys made him happy, but the Church treated him like a slave and forced him to create his most memorable works (those works most often associated with the Renaissance). So which one was the true patron from the hypothesis that a patron spurs or creates a movement?

Vincent Van Gogh had Theo.

In the beginning, the "Lost Generation" (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, etc) had Gertrude Stein.

The "Abstract Expressionists" (Pollock, de Kooning, etc) had Peggy Guggenheim and Betty Parsons. But would Pollock have found his voice of "pouring" without the previous influence (support) of Guggenheim? Its obvious that without Lee Krasner, setting aside her painting, to support Jackson - he would have never reached his potential. Does that make Krasner his greatest patron? Who was more instrumental in Pollock's place in art history - Parsons, Guggenheim or Krasner?

What makes a patron - money or support? Can money and support be seperated?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

What's in a name?

What’s in a Name

"Artists use titles to illuminate, explicate, confound, frustrate—or justify a tax deduction. Even Untitled suggests a meaning."
- Kelly Devine Thomas, ARTnews (November 2005)

Part of my search for the next art movement includes looking for the right name. What do the titles of my own paintings reflect? Land (YES), Regionalism (MAYBE), Judaism (VERY OFTEN).

How do the previous title and stylistic choices, of artists, construct the path to their next work? How do these choices define both individual and group placement in the forthcoming history of art?


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Art Movement of One or Many?

Joel Weishaus writing near the Columbia River Gorge, Washington State. Summer 2004.
Photo by Faye Powell.

The above link will take you to the archive of Joel Weishaus. His work is controversial by the very nature of its perception. Is it literature, is it documentary, is it visual art?
For example:


These texts were originally made for an exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum that opened on May 19, 1991 and ran for 24 days. The forty texts were presented as posters spanning the walls of two rooms, intersticed with photographs by Patrick Nagatani. Here they are presented in their original format, however digitized and somewhat revised. --Joel Weishaus

Take a look at his work, but I warn you it will require more than a casual glance to digest the purpose of the art. In addition to the above example of texts and images (photographs), he also has an archive of traditional visual forms - both 2-D and 3-D. Where does Mr. Weishaus fit into the mode of Artist? Author? Documentarian?

Is it possible for a blend to take place between the concepts and imagery put forth in his texts and other works, to expand upon a theme into a greater cause or movement?

Or is his work an example of the greater cause?

Can the individual artist be the movement, without inclusion? Think of the great masters of visual art - How much of Picasso was the Cubist and Modern Art Movements and how much was just Picasso?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Brief Moments of Perfection

Image Overload? "The average person sees tens of thousands of images in the course of a day. One sees images on television, in newspapers and magazines, on websites, and on the sides of buses. Images grace soda cans and t-shirts and billboards. Internet search engines can instantly procure images for practically any word you type. The question is not merely rhetorical. It points to something important about images in our culture: They have, by their sheer number and ease of replication, become less magical and less shocking—a situation unknown until fairly recently in human history." - The New Atlantis 11/05

Is the same true of art movements or contemporary art in general, is this the answer to why movements are so brief? Is this why most contemporary artists have difficulty hanging onto a singular idea long enough to form a movement? - DN

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Artes Mundi Prize 2006 Shortlist

"CARDIFF, WALES.-Artes Mundi, Wales International Visual Art Prize, announced the eight artists who have been short-listed for the second Artes Mundi Prize. The artists selected by two international curators, Deepak Ananth, a Paris-based, Indian Art Historian and Curator of modern and contemporary art and Brazilian curator, critic and writer Ivo Mesquita - a leading figure in the Latin American visual art world includes artists who have showcased work at recent international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale, Documenta XI and the Sao Paolo Biennale. The eight artists are:

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Thomas Demand, Maurßcio Dias & Walter Riedweg, Leandro Erlich, Subodh Gupta, Sue Williams and Wu Chi-Tsung.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila – was born and works in Helsinki, Finland. Ahtila describes her work as ‘human dramas’ taken from her own observations and experiences through the medium of film and video.

Thomas Demand – was born in Munich and now lives and works in Berlin. Demand’s work combines conceptualism and photography, using a process of construction, representation and repetition. He meticulously re-creates life-sized models of exteriors or interiors, photographing the construction before destroying it.

Maurßcio Dias & Walter Riedweg – The Brazilian artist Maurßcio Dias and Swiss artist Walter Riedweg have worked together since 1993. Their research and collaborations, most often presented in the form of video installations, explore the lives of groups of people who live on the borders of mainstream culture such as immigrants and prostitutes or literally on a border, such as the border police.

Leandro Erlich – was born and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His large scale sculptures and installations create a world of trickery and illusion; doors cannot be opened, peepholes reveal the unexpected and mirrors that do not reflect. Erlich challenges the viewers habitual idea of reality by creating an unexpected experience from a familiar environment. He is currently showing work at the 51st La Biennale Venezia.

Subodh Gupta – was born in Khagaul, India and now lives and works in New Delhi. Subodh Gupta works in a wide range of mediums from sculpture and painting to installation, photography, video and performance. He elevates the status of found objects from everyday items of rural India to artworks – cow dung, milk buckets, kitchen utensils, scooters, guns and gulal powder. He is currently showing work at the 51st La Biennale Venezia.

Sue Williams – was born in Cornwall and now lives and works in Wales. Her work is embodied in her passionate response to the human condition; a pre-occupation with the fantasies of feminism, sexuality and gender and the notion of desire - both sexual and cerebral.

Wu Chi-Tsung – was born in Taipei, Taiwan where he still works and lives. Awarded the Taipei Arts Award in 2003, Wu’s recent work explores the notion of “image” through various media such as video, photography, and mechanical installation.

In 2004 the Artes Mundi Prize was awarded for the first time to Chinese artist, Xu Bing. Artes Mundi, is an international biennial event that recognises some of today’s most exciting visual artists from around the world, and whose work explores the human form and human condition. It comprises a major exhibition, a public event programme, a prize of £40,000 to one artist and a purchase fund to enable works to be purchased for the National Collections.

The exhibition is exclusively on show at the National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff, Wales from 11th February to 7th May 2006. The prize will be awarded on, Friday, 31st March 2006."
- from

- Maybe it is true contemporary artists are only interested in working through their own ideas by their own direction. Does this individuality force artists to be dependent upon the generosity of prizes and foundations? What does that say for our INDEPENDENCE? - DN

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

No art for the disappearing middle class?

Are the multi-milion dollar prices commanded by a handful of 20th century artists, harming the market for contemporary artists? Is the art market a reflection of our economy? Are more patrons buying art at less than $1,000 or in the millions, with little between?

David Smith Sculpture Sells For Record Price Larry Gagosian, the Manhattan dealer, fought off five aggressive bidders and paid $23.8 million at Sotheby's for David Smith's "CUBI XXVIII" (1965), the last of the artist's renowned Cubi series. "The reason for the high price was plain to lovers of contemporary art: this elegantly composed melding of boxes and columns may be the last example of the series to come on the market for some time. Most of the others are in museums or collections where they will stay for generations. So this last-chance opportunity was irresistible, which is why the sculpture's final price was nearly double its high estimate, $12 million."
The New York Times 11/10/05

Rothko Sale Sets Record at Christie's "An oil painting by Mark Rothko has set a new world record of $22.4m for any post-war work sold at auction. The work, entitled Homage to Matisse, was sold at Christie's post-war and contemporary art sale in New York on Tuesday evening. New records were also set for Roy Lichtenstein, Francis Bacon and several other artists. Lichtenstein's In the Car sold for $16.2m, while a Willem de Kooning untitled work from 1977, sold for $10.66m, far above the high estimate of $6m. The sale took a total of $157.4m, exceeding the pre-sale high-end estimate of $145m, with only four of the 70 lots on offer failing to sell." BBC 11/09/05

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What is the direction for the next movement?

Interdisciplinary involvement CREATED an art movement in the 20th century called Expressionism -

"There were a number of Expressionist groups in painting, including the Blaue Reiter and Die Brücke. Later in the 20th century, the movement influenced a large number of other artists, including the so-called abstract expressionists.

Expressionism is also found in other art forms - the novels of Franz Kafka are often described as expressionist, for example, and there was a concentrated Expressionist movement in early 20th century German theatre centred around Georg Kaiser and Ernst Toller.

In music, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg, the members of the Second Viennese School, wrote pieces described as expressionist (Schoenberg also made expressionist paintings). Other composers who followed them, such as Ernst Krenek, are often considered as a part of the expressionist movement in music. What distinguished these composers from their contemporaries such as Maurice Ravel, George Gershwin and Igor Stravinsky is that expressionist composers self-consciously used atonality to free their artform from the traditional tonality. They also sought to express the subconscious, the 'inner necessity' and suffering through their highly dissonant musical language. Erwartung and Die Glückliche Hand, by Schoenberg, and Wozzeck, an opera by Alban Berg (based on a play by Georg Büchner), are example of expressionist works.

In architecture, the work of Eric Mendelsohn comes under this category. An important building by him under this style is the Einstein Tower in Potsdam, Germany. There is an organic quality to buildings using this approach. Some sculptors also used this style, as for example Ernst Barlach. There was also an expressionist movement in film, often referred to as German Expressionism.

There was never a group of artists that called themselves Expressionists."

- from Wikipedia

The Pre-Raphaelites on the otherhand were completely deliberate in their STRUCTURE:

"The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in John Millais' parents' house on Gower Street, London in 1848. At the initial meeting John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt were present. Hunt and Millais were students at the Royal Academy of Arts. They had previously met in another loose association, a sketching society called the Cyclographic club. . . They kept the existence of the Brotherhood secret from members of the Royal Academy.

The Brotherhood's early doctrines were expressed in four declarations:

  1. To have genuine ideas to express;
  2. To study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them;
  3. To sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parading and learned by rote;
  4. And, most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues.

These principles are deliberately undogmatic, since the Brotherhood wished to emphasise the personal responsibility of individual artists to determine their own ideas and method of depiction."

- from Wikipedia

What is the direction for the next movement? Online, anyone can find examples of singular projects to create art movements. Unfortunately, most seem uninspired and loosely developed. "Stuckism", "Crap Art" (No, I'm not kidding), "NeoSyncretic". Though I have found one example with potential - "NeoPopArt", but it seems rather regional. While there are many historical examples of regional art movements becoming successful, they often are also relegated to the minor art movement bin of history (e.x. The Ashcan School, Tonalism, ).

Is that the key, overcoming regionalism? Crossing disciplines (music, theatre, painting or film)? Is the structure needed first, or does it come later?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Could "Black Mountain College" happen today?

"For a short time in the middle of the twentieth century a small town in North Carolina became a hub of American cultural production. The town was Black Mountain and the reason was Black Mountain College. Founded in 1933, the school was a reaction to the more traditional schools of the time. At its core was the assumption that a strong liberal and fine arts education must happen simultaneously inside and outside the classroom. Combining communal living with an informal class structure, Black Mountain created an environment conducive to the interdisciplinary work that was to revolutionize the arts and sciences of its time.

Among Black Mountain's first professors were the artists Josef and Anni Albers, who had fled Nazi Germany after the closing of the Bauhaus. It was their progressive work in painting and textiles that first attracted students from around the country. Once there, however, students and faculty alike realized that Black Mountain College was one of the few schools sincerely dedicated to educational and artistic experimentation. By the forties, Black Mountain's faculty included some of the greatest artists and thinkers of its time: Walter Gropius, Jacob Lawrence, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, John Cage, Alfred Kazin, Merce Cunningham, and Paul Goodman. Students found themselves at the locus of such wide ranging innovations as Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic Dome, Charles Olson's Projective Verse, and some of the first performance art in the U.S." -

Check it out here:

So can it happen again? With the current power-structure of accreditation-based colleges and universities demanding pyramid-scheme-MFA programs (I liberated that one from an old "New Art Examiner" article: THE MFA: Academia's Pyramid Scheme by Karen Kitchel") - can learning for learning's sake reoccur?

Karen Kitchel quotes David Bayles and Ted Orlando (Art & Fear) as saying "If 98 percent of our medical students were no longer practicing medicine after graduation, there would be a Senate investigation, yet that proportion of art majors are routinely consigned to an early professional death."

"Black Mountain College" did not grant MFA's, yet some of the greatest western minds of the twentieth century gathered there to educate and learn.

I'm not saying that the knowledge and experience gathered during an MFA program are poor, I just believe they should be better for the $40k - 100k in student loans.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Art Movements - Are they dead?

The following is from "Wikipedia"-

Art movement

An art movement is a tendency or style in art with a specific common philosophy or goal, followed by a group of artists during a restricted period of time (usually a few months, years or decades). Art movements were especially important in modern art, where each consecutive movement was considered as a new avant-garde. Movements have almost entirely disappeared in contemporary art, where individualism and diversity prevail.

To repeat -
"Movements have almost entirely disappeared in contemporary art, where individualism and diversity prevail."

Is this true? If so, is there room or time for another "movement"?