A little about this blog

May 17, 2010

Shifting from my left brian into my right,a tricky buisness indeed,I’m going to talk a little about the purpose of tis blog.

I am currently an art student,and this blog is a kind-of tool in which I am able to find and think about my influences,contemplate post-modern art,and to aid in the pursuit of my own personal style.

Review: Maureen Abramovic at MOMA

May 23, 2010

I’m still not sure what to think of Maureen Abramovic, and I think I know the reason. I need some time to process the work so that I can get past…well, so that I can get past Maureen Abramovic.

No doubt there are messages in her work, particularly when it comes to discussing how performance art can affect those who see it. In pieces such as (table piece)—in which she sat for six hours and invited the audience to use a collection of items on a table on her in any way they saw fit—we certainly can see how people (in this case, the audience) can abuse power that someone hand them.

Still, though, I just couldn’t get past the nagging feeling that the whole thing was just a statement about how depravation punishment, and endurence.

Here was Maureen Abramovic, lying on an ice block, whipping herself, and carving a pentagram into her stomach. Here was Maureen Abramovic, sitting naked on a bicycle seat bolted to the wall. Here was Maureen Abramovic, living a Spartan life in three rooms with nothing but water for 12 days. Here was Maureen Abramovic, walking across the Great Wall of China for 90 days. Here was Maureen Abramovic, eating an onion.

And, finally, here was Maureen Abramovic, staring down anyone who sits across from her, for eight hours a day, during the entire time that the exhibit is at MOMA.

Okay, I get it. This woman certainly suffers for her art. The trouble was, I still can’t get any message from this except for “Look at me: I have undergone incredible feats of endurance, and I have suffered for my art.”

Maybe this is a symbol of living in Yugoslavia, in which scarcity was a way of life (although Abramovic came from a comfortable background). Maybe it’s a symbol of the stifling limitation of communism. Maybe.

All of this, however, took a back seat to what seemed like a kind of extreme sports of the art world. I don’t in any way doubt Abramovic’s conviction, and I certainly don’t doubt her discipline. Finally, I absolutely, positively don’t doubt her nerve.

It’s just that I couldn’t really get past thinking “wow…she really subjected herself to some punishing stuff.”

Is it visceral? Yes. Is it admirable? Yes; if nothing else, I admire anyone who has this kind of dedication.

Yet for all of this, the show felt strangely hollow. As opposed to feeling like I was seeing a picture of artistic works, I felt instead as if I were viewing a series of artistic stunts.

My Favorite Artists (number 1 in a series, don’t you know…)

February 21, 2010

1) JAMES ENSOR

There are so many reasons to love this paintings, so I’ll just mention a few:

One, it’s at the Museum of Modern Art, so I can visit it whenever I want.

Two, it’s really creepy. The grotesquely distorted faces, with painted on smiles, seem a little desperate, or even manic, but there Death sits, the belle of the ball, in a fine lady’s hat adorned with a yellow flower. She is unmoved by the others, but stares directly at the viewer. She seems to have an aura of knowing amusement, letting the viewer know his or her ultimate fate.

Third is the beauty of the paint. Ensor’s strokes are, in some places, so delicate. His treatment of the fabrics that adorn the masks is a testament to his skill as a draftsman. In some areas, the canvas is visible between the brushstrokes. In other places, the paint is laid on thickly, as if it were applied with a palate knife.

Fourth is the clunky composition. Ensor doesn’t give the viewer lovely vistas to move the eye away from what looks like a macabre cocktail party. There’s no sense of space, just a blank expanse of chromatic grays suggesting a kind of purgatory. Finally, there is a ghost figure that lives in the left side of the painting, a faint sketch of a man who seems to have a terrified look on his face. He is already gone, and is as lifeless and ineffective as the masks.

(James Ensor, Masks Confronting Death, Oil on Canvas, 1888)

Another favorite of mine by Ensor is The Tribulations of Saint Anthony, which pays homage to Hieronymus Bosch’s painting of the same title:

(James Ensor, The Tribulations of Saint Anthony, Oil on Canvas, 1887)

2)GARY BASEMAN

I don’t remember the first time I saw Baseman’s work. It was probably in an issue of Art in America or Artforum. Just a few weeks ago, however, as I was browsing the shelves at Forbidden Planet, I came across Dying of Thirst, a catalog of one of Baseman’s exhibitions. It was so cute–yet so disturbing–that I just had to buy it.

Cover of Book "Dying of Thirst" by Gary Baseman, Copyright 2008

In the introduction, Holly Miers says “Cute plus sex, you might say, equals creepy.” She goes on to explain that Baseman’s work is all about desire, and all of it’s ooziness.

To give you an idea of what’s inside the book, here’s another image:

Gary Baseman, The Hills of Creamy Goodness, from the Book "Dying of Thirst"

3) HENRY DARGER

Henry Darger was an outsider artist. The term “outsider” refers to a lack of formal training as an artist.

Very little is known about Darger. Almost no one knew him personally, and he lived alone, working as a janitor. He never socialized, and kept to himself.

Alone in his room, however, Darger had created a world unto itself. He wrote what amounted to a 15,000 page typewritten epic entitled “The Story of the Vivian Girls,” and illustrated the text with 300 drawings. The work is a fascinating journey into the mind of a lonely and damaged man.

The Andrew Edlin Gallery has an excellent biography of Darger, along with several samples of his work. You can get to it by clicking here.

Here is a sample of some of Darger’s work:

Henry Darger, Child Headed Whiplash-Tail..., Watercolor collage, carbon, paper 24x106.5", 20th Century (exact date unknown)

Henry Darger, "Idyllic Landscape With Children," Watercolor collage, carbon, paper. 24x106.5", 20th century (exact date unknown)

If you are interested in finding out more about Henry Darger, check out Jessica Yu’s excellent documentary, In the Realms of the Unreal.


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