Filtering by Category: theory

the world as sculpture

Added on by Jourdan.

I came across this book this weekend in Philadelphia's Free Library... and it so so SO very good! I spent hours poring over a chapter called The Education of the Sense: Child's Play - which talks about early Montessori schools and their emphasis on TOUCH - "The lost paradise of touch could be regained." I love this quote by Walter Benjamin...
Children are particularly fond of haunting any site where things are being visibly worked upon... In using these things they do not so much imitate the works of adults as bring together, in the artifact produced in play, materials of widely differing kinds in a new intuitive relationship. Children thus produce their own small world of things within a greater one.                                                                                    
                                                                                                          Walter Benjamin
This reminds me VERY MUCH of some of the things Nikolas Berdyev has to say about "man as microcosm" in his book, The Meaning of the Creative Act.

The next chapter, which I didn't get to finish (the library was closing, and I don't live in PA so I couldn't take it with me) is called HOLLOWS AND BUMPS IN SPACE! This is thesis  material, no doubt - right up my alley. Hall suggests that while the Neo-Classicists were obsessed with surfaces, the Modernists have been obsessed with orifices.

I love holes... they're a means of escape or access. They're sexual. Holes are really interesting because they're not there. I like the joke about the guy who dug the holes out of the ground and put them on a truck.                    
                                                                                                                      Damien Hirst

Thinking about holes in this way is also making me think about CONTRANYMS - words with 2 definitions that are opposites of eachother... ex. CLEAVE - means both to bring together AND to divide... hmmmm

The first hole made through a piece of stone is a revelation. The hole connects one side to the other, making it immediately more three-dimensional. A hole can itself have as much shape-meaning as solid mass... The mystery of the hole - the mysterious fascination of caves in hillsides and cliffs.
                                                                                                                      Henry Moore

This has me thinking a lot about POSITIVE and NEGATIVE space...

but is it art?

Added on by Jourdan.

In gearing up for my TA duties for "Intro to Art Theory," I'm making an attempt to see things from the student's perspective... from the perspective of those who may not be predisposed to admire poop-making machines (see Wim Delvoye) or painfully minimal descriptions of nothing (see Martin Creed) like I am. Being in art school, it's easy to forget that the majority of the viewing public just doesn't "get it." Without an art-historical and theoretical context, much of modern and contemporary art may seem unreachable to the masses who have their their own ideas and preconceived notions of what IS and is NOT "Art." 

Below, I've identified a number of categories that tend to be a bit more difficult to digest... especially for a "non-art" audience. The distinctions are not cut and dry, but often seem to blend into one another. They are...

abstract: does not attempt to represent external, recognizable reality but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures
Cy Twombly, Untitled VII from Bacchus Series, 2005.

minimal: set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features, or concepts
Robert Morris, installation in the Green Gallery, New York, 1964.
Seven geometric plywood structures painted grey.

conceptual: the idea presented by the artist is considered more important than the finished product, if any exists
Robert Rauschenberg, Erased de Kooning, 1953 (more HERE)

readymade: created from undisguised, but often modified, objects that are not normally considered art, often because they already have a non-art function
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917

banal: comment on or acknowledgement of that which is so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring (often overlaps with readymade)

Jeff Koons, Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank, 1985

process-based: the process of making is not hidden but remains a prominent aspect of the completed work so that a part or even the whole of its subject is the making of the work
Richard Serra, Splashing, 1968, molten lead splashed into corner and solidified

performative: the medium is the artist's own body and the artwork takes the form of actions performed by the artist
Chris Burden, Shoot, 1971, artist shot in the arm in gallery

relational: takes as its theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space
Félix González-Torres, untitled (Portrait of Ross in LA), 1991, viewers invited to take a piece of candy 

I recently came across this BBC series about Goldsmiths (a famous art school in London) called "But is it Art?" It's made up of two 1-hr episodes (which are both on YouTube). The first follows several MFA students in the weeks leading up to their thesis shows, and the second tracks them in the months following their graduation. I quite enjoyed it... but I can understand why it might elicit some giggles and rolling of eyes. Art school is a curious place... more on that to come...

richard serra's drawings

Added on by Jourdan.
Richard Serra, "Drawings After Circuit"(1972), charcoal on paper
In thinking about how to integrate elements of drawing into my own practice (which hasn't come naturally for me), I've been drawn to artists, such as Richard Serra, who have taken more contemporary approaches to an age-old medium. Some go for a more conceptual approach, while others might rely on a more active physicality, but in the recent years, drawing has proven to be a quite limitless media that's most certainly worthy of our attention.

When I think of Drawing (with a capitol D) in this way, as an ever-growing, all-encompassing means of creating, I'm reminded of what Rosalind Krauss had to say about Sculpture in her famous 1979 essay "Sculpture in the Expanded Field." I won't go into details, but basically, what I mean to suggest by this is  perhaps that Drawing has entered an 'expanded field' of its own. Perhaps the line culture has "drawn" between drawing and sculpture isn't quite as clear as we may think. The same could be said for drawing and performance (in which the drawing is a record of performance - see Tony Orrico), as well as many other overlapping categories of art-making. John Dewey, in Art as Experience, makes a clear argument for this idea, suggesting that the various media "form a continuum, a spectrum, and that while we may distinguish the seven so-called primary colors, there is no attempt to tell exactly where one begins and another one ends."


My intention in this post was originally to highlight Richard Serra's accomplishments in drawing, but it seems I've gotten off topic. I'm on the verge of delving into a lengthy discussion of categorical classifications in art-making - its effect on art education - and many relevant opinions on the subject (this topic is discussed at length in Art School: Propositions for the 21st-Century)... but perhaps I'll save that for another day.

a site-specific drawing by Richard Serra
Instead, I'll leave you with this video about Richard Serra's drawings, made in conjunction with his recent retrospective organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the NY Times review of the show here.