Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More on trends...

From the comments here and on Facebook, I’ve collected additions to my list of art trends on which there should be an enforced moratorium (see the post below):

"Hey, I am a junkie, and here is my art about that"

Piles of laundry on the floor' in the middle of galleries…and these little abodes in the middle of galleries and museum rooms as some sort of installation.

Objects and/or bodily fluids in canning jars.

And for the “scatter art” category: Karen Kilimnik at 303 gallery…oh dear, do we have to wander through your pile of artfully crushed plexi mirrors, record covers and scarves while listening to a horribly skipping recording of madonna's like a virgin??!

Another reader writes: it's a challenge to go to a Brown U. or RISD exhibit these days that does not involve black curtains and headphones accompanying virtually every object. And the self-indulgent navel-gazing art ("wow, that navel lint would make a great art piece if I collected it for a year and put it on a shallow ledge in the gallery.")

I want to make it clear that I’m not against video in galleries, just cheesy, thoughtless, installations of same….although I will admit I discovered Christian Marclay in a museum in Zurich and Omer Fast at the Whitechapel, both on plain old monitors—but with no headphones or curtains, at least. Video can be cool when it takes over the whole gallery, as Marclay did with The Clock and Video Quartet, or is shown in an area that's artfully constructed, like the Alfredo Jaar at Galerie Lelong a couple of years ago.

But I never want to put on a pair of headphones again. Why would I want to be tethered to an artwork? And aren’t they’re unhygienic?

Despite the above, I was holding to my belief that everything can still be done if it's done well (except maybe for sequins) until I got this message from James Elkins on Facebook yesterday:

My latest FB "friend" is an artist who makes abstract, Fautrier-style paintings using oil mixed with the ashes of departed family members. You supply the ashes, the information, and a 40% down payment. The artist is totally sincere. That sort of thing is why FB can only be "social" and not actually social!

And why “art” is only sometimes art.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Inside Olafur Eliasson's studio

I recently received these photos from Guðmundur Oddur Magnússon, who took them while visiting Einar Thorsteinn in Olafur Eliasson’s Berlin studio. Readers of this blog will remember that Einar is an architect, mathematician, and visionary, a protégée of Buckminster Fuller, who collaborates with Olafur on his geometric constructions and the Model Room, which has been exhibited widely (see labels below).  Terry Perk of the University of the Creative Arts (U.K.), Erica Spizz, cinematographer, and I are nearing completion of our film about Olafur and Einar’s unusual and prolific collaboration. Guðmundur also took the amazing photographs of the Icelandic volcanic eruption I posted at the time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Trends, going...going...

In times like these, it’s important to think about the things we can be grateful for. I, for one, was pleased to realize, during my recent perambulations through the art fairs and Chelsea, that the artistic infatuation with images from the media has finally subsided. For well over a decade, almost everything you saw in the galleries was a riff on advertising, product packaging, cartoons, or old TV sitcoms and now—pouf! —it’s gone. May it R.I.P.

So does this signal a move to more original imagery? New forms? One hopes! There are, however, still a few impulses left over from the last century that we could happily retire:

--Stuffed animals.

--Porn (although rediscovered by every generation, it tends to always look the same) and/or art that flaunts the artist's sexual orientation (a.k.a. “sexual identity”).

--Black plastic garbage bags (favored by students for their economy of means; hopefully David Hammons is marking the end of their run as an art material).

--Anything behind a curtain or requiring headphones.

--Collections of nostalgic objects from the artist's life.

--Random notations about same.

--The above, accompanied by images that suggest the artist has not developed artistically or emotionally since the eighth grade.

--Scatter art.

And while we're at it, let's also call for a moratorium on:

--Sequins and glitter.

--Anything that references women's craftwork from the 19th century, including but not limited to, knitting and crocheting.

--Images of suburbia designed to underscore its bleakness or express the artist's fond or not-so-fond childhood memories of suburban life.

And finally…I can’t believe I’m writing this in 2011…survey shows that suggest, inaccurately, that men alone were the dominant forces in any given movement. Case in point: “Malevich and the American Legacy” at Gagosian uptown. It was curated by a woman, Andrea Crane, yet of 20 or so artists, only one is female: Agnes Martin. Surely it would not have been a stretch to include Jo Baer, Ann Truitt, or Dorothea Rockburne. Further, neither Karen Rosenberg in the Times nor Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker picked up on this.

I welcome additions to my list.

Mystic Suprematism, 1920-27
Oil on canvas
39 3/8 x 23 5/8 inches (100.5 x 60 cm)

Perhaps Malevich was sending a secret message of solidarity: 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Art fair fatigue

So many art fairs, so little art! Okay, I only went to the ADAA Art Show at the 67th Street Armory, Pulse, and the Independent…and that was enough to let me know I didn’t want to brave the crowds at the piers.  I always like the ADAA show because I see things of actual substance, and at Marian Goodman’s booth, a bunch of Gabriel Orozco’s delightful interventions on money and airline tickets (tiny, $35,000, and worth every penny) that knock my socks off whenever I’m lucky enough to see some.

The other two shows….arggh! I commented to a friend that it all looked like eighth grade, and he said worse, because eighth graders would be more adventuresome: here you can see the minds of the artists and the dealers at work, and it’s all very calculated. So many junky-looking watered-down versions of Rauschenberg’s brilliant Combines, which were made…wake up, art world!...OVER FIFTY YEARS AGO. Or stuff intending to be shocking when what, besides a David Wojnarowicz film from the 80s, could possibly be shocking—to adults, that is—in 2011? Then there was the plethora of paintings and sculptures decorated with glitter and sequins, as if glitter and sequins were the radical materials they might have been four decades ago.

However there is something that‘s truly radical for our times, and it is called development. For the uninitiated, this is when an artist finds a form and makes it his/her own to the point that it becomes new.  Try it!—but be warned, it might take more than five minutes.

Meanwhile I did, in recent weeks, see something that rang true—a drawing by Chuck Nanney at Invisible Exports on which is written: “Everything I do has been done before by a feminist in the seventies.”

Or Lucas Samaras, who did it all.

'Photo-Transformation', Polaroid SX-70 print by Lucas Samaras, 1973, Getty Museum