Monday, June 28, 2010

dog dazed

Art & Thinking is on hiatus for a bit while it gets acclimated to the new/old digs.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah

Tonight is the BIG NIGHT when the previously discussed Work of Art premiers on television’s BRAVO network. If you are going to view the program, I highly recommend reading Art Fag City’s supplemental program guide and all show-related posts Jesse P. Martin has written at PURPLE LINKS. My own contribution is the proposed week-to-week episode breakdown as follows:

Establishing Myth: describe the narrative and metaphor of an ancient myth through installation. Only materials to be used are plastic Pokémon characters.

Identity Paintbrush Challenge: draw a paintbrush from the bucket, and make an artwork informed by or addressing the labeled constituency. Identities include: second wave hunter-gatherers, neoevangelists, the Tang party, puppies and bunnies, pantomime environmentalists, niche marketers, microglobalists, pipsters, proprietary vegetarians, and urban jamokes

It is What never Was: visually reconstruct the simulacra - cannot use self portraiture

Cut! #1: make a video

Cut! #2: remake the same video

Cut! #3: remake the remade same video

None for You: make a work of art so ephemeral, it cannot be sold

Name the Null Set: Minimalism with a capital M

The Object Found: Utilize a slaughtered chicken

Koonsian: have another contestant make your art for you

The Body as Medium: demonstrate Lars von Triers’ personification of women in a performance piece

THE FINAL CHALLENGE: written exam, closed notes.
Question: Compare and contrast in theoretical, historic and critical context, the notion of beauty in at least three periods of art prior to 1800 and after Modernism. Codify those notions as they apply to Clement Greenberg’s article Avant-Garde and Kitch, Juvenile and Preteen Beauty Pageants, Lady Gaga and your experience on this program. You have 45 minutes.


While I love all spring flowers, I think my favorite is the Peony. It used to be lilacs, but that was youthful romance, and they now elicit a tiny tinge of morbid nostalgia. But the peony - even when white, or the palest pastel pink, is a little bit naughty. Certainly flirtatious, peonies possess a joie de vivre that not even exquisitely controlled Chinese painting can keep in check. When you invite them into your home, like the Trojan horse, they release their hidden delegation of ants. Peonies are a bit subversive.

Some friends and I had dinner at a former professor’s home recently. The bucolic landscape, some wonderful food and her giant intellect generated great conversation. She has always stressed the importance of social action, participation and activism, but on a personal scale. The professor asked us if an artist had to make political art to be subversive. My answer was no. I believe that the choice to make art - if it even is a choice - goes against the grain of the general population. It’s a choice that often commits one to a life contrary to everything the rest of the world is seeking: wealth, security, comfort.

It’s a difficult choice, especially in a world where the individual is marketed to 24/7. The payoff is a stunning level of intellectual freedom. And, in the end, artists will not have dumped countless gallons of oil into the Gulf, created a subprime mortgage bubble, hedged on the bets of others’ failure, or created a worldwide financial collapse. And that’s fine.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

draw winky

I remember this advertisement from magazines and matchbooks when I was a child. The idea intrigued me, although I never actually drew “Winky” or “the pirate”. Why? I didn’t think I could, that I was good enough. Next week, the equivalent of this contest will premiere on TV’s Bravo Network as Work of Art - The Next Great Artist. So continues the latest installment of the Top Chef cum Project Runway slash Real House Wives of American Idol culture to which we have been reduced.  Jumping on the bandwagon, every art blogger seems to have become an apologist and gone Gaga for it. I will not.

I read the bios of a number of the contestants and many of them have already achieved a meritorious level of accomplishment. However, I would rather see a portfolio than a carefully edited bio. One artist works in “carbon based media”, hmmnnn…. ground breaking… pencil? Charcoal?  Everyone should watch the hilarious clips on Bravo’s website. Trembling and tearful, an artist pleads that she wants her art to show in a Museum. Eureka! She's discovered fudge covered cookies! In fact, the winner of this glorified game show will receive a substantial cash award and a one-person show at a major Museum. I personally believe that that type of accolade comes from a lifetime of achievement or singular genius. Here that honor will be bestowed after 14 weeks of assessment by a group of merchants.

I wonder if there will be any discussions of art in critical, historical or theoretical context? I wonder if the program will show the time working alone in the studio, filled with indecision and doubt, dirty, messy, tired without sleep, fashion, jewelry and make-up. I wonder if they will capture the genetic predisposition that forces the artist to constantly doubt, question and navigate the world in visual terms. I wonder if there will be anything real here at all or just have a depiction of what people think the life of an artist is like. Will they really be giving these artists assignments every week? I can see it now, “Your assignment Scatological Assemblage!” After  all, isn’t this whole thing a scatological assemblage?

Call me an elitist; call me a snob, I’m happy to assume either of those mantles. But I would like to make a suggestion. Don't watch this crap. Learn about art through you own experience. Go to galleries and museums in your community, support local not-for-profit art venues, encourage arts programs in your school districts, go to the library and check out books and videos of artists and their work.  My father was a physician who always hated doctor dramas on television. I can understand why.

Me? I think I’ll watch Jeopardy instead. Maybe I’ll learn something.