Thursday, February 11, 2016

Defying classification: self as artist? cinema, second life, and dramas of identity

Hubbard/Birchler here.

Wangechi Mutu / TITLE
Wangechi Mutu, Misguided Little Unforgivable hierarchies,  2005. Ink, acrylic, collage, and contact paper on Mylar; 81 x 52 inches here.
Mary Reid Kelly... here.  more to read here
Cao Fei. "RMB CITY 4," 2007. Digital c-print, 47 1/5 x 63 inches. © Cao Fei, courtesy the artist and Lombard-Freid Projects, New York.
Cao Fei. More here....  
Artists in China sometimes find themselves having to “walk the red line” of what is politically permissible. How do you gauge which topics are off limits?
I think every Chinese adult is very sensitive to where the limits are. Everyone knows where the red line is, they don’t need to discuss it.
But it’s not really relevant to a lot of younger Chinese artists. They’re not really interested in even going near the line. Many of the older artists will want to walk near the line. They want to walk right along it, but not cross it. They are testing the system. They’re constantly provoking it.
The younger artists are very far from the line. It’s not deliberate. It’s just that they don’t care. The younger artists feel like the older artists experienced politics, and so that’s why they want to engage with politics and provoke it. The younger artists would rather avoid politics. For them, politics is just textbook history.
They think: “What we’re interested in doesn’t have anything to do with ideology. We just want to talk about our individual experience of the world. We don’t want to talk about Iraq, we don’t want to talk about Japan, and we don’t want to talk about democracy. We just want to talk about aesthetics, we just want to talk about art.”
When I read the things they write, it’s a little difficult to understand because they have very particular interests. It’s not like the older generation, which had much grander ideas. For the older generation, the artist criticizes on behalf of society. The younger artists just want to pursue their own narrow interests.
For example, a lot of younger people like to take photos of succulent plants and post them on Instagram. That’s a sub-culture. Other people like to take photos of cats. Now it’s all about these small groups organized around very specific interests. They’re not interested in broader society.
New York Times interview by Amy Qin. 
 Art 21 Cao Fei . either, watch
SEGMENT: Cao Fei in "Fantasy" | Art21 | PBS
“Dear ladies and gentleman, I’m China Tracy—the avatar of Cao Fei—and I’m her interpreter.” Cao Fei’s digital Second Life alter ego acts as the English translator for the Chinese-speaking artist throughout the segment, guiding the viewer through seven multimedia projects.
Hubbard/Birchler: watch this clip:
Hubbard/Birchler | Art21 | PBS
Teresa Hubbard was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1965; Alexander Birchler was born in Baden, Switzerland, in 1962. Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler live and work in Austin, Texas, as life partners and artist-collaborators. Both received MFAs from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Canada.

Mary Reid Kelley | Art21 | PBS
Mary Reid Kelley was born in Greenville, South Carolina in 1979. In videos and drawings filled with punning wordplay, Reid Kelley presents her take on the clash between utopian ideologies and the realities of women’s lives in the struggle for liberation and through political strife, wars, and other historical events.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Art History as Artist's History

Julie Heffernan, Self Portrait as Booty, 2007
"There is plenty in Julie Heffernan's paintings to delight a traditionalist — and to offend a modernist. Ms. Heffernan is a shameless virtuoso, deploying extraordinary, painstaking, and yet unforced skill in descriptions of flora and fauna, and of feminine flesh, currently on view at P.P.O.W. Her display of technique is as wanton as the still-life motifs she piles on: Typically, in images that reek of opulence and overload, a comely young woman is nude but for a fantastical skirt composed of a pyramid-like mound of fowl, game, fruits, jewelry, and flowers. Beyond mere quotation or irony, there is an old master look to these highly wrought works, which are generally around 6 feet high by 5 feet wide. The specific points of reference are geographically and historically diverse, from Northern Renaissance to French Rococo, although the median look is Baroque. But they do not seem to be opting for anachronism per se. The use of old painterly languages is less tongue-in-cheek than hand-onheart — a means of accessing a dreamlike space of high imagination."

from "Beauty in Flesh and Fur", by David Cohen, New York Sun
Julie Heffernan, Self Portrait 7, 200?

"This sense of being about something is itself pre-, rather than post-, modernist. These paintings are a hybrid of genres and styles, mixing allegory, portraiture, history painting, and still life, while in title they are all presented as self portraits. But far from coming across as a collage-like jumble, the fusion of styles and genres is seamless."

from "Beauty in Flesh and Fur", by David Cohen, New York Sun
Diego Velázquez 032.jpg

Julie Heffernan , Self Portrait as Infanta on Eggshells, 1999and Diego Velazquez, Mariana of Austria, 1665
Julie Heffernan, Ernst ist das Leben, 1987
Oil on paper, 26" x 30", 33" x 36" framed

Picasso, Pipes of Pan, 1923, classical period

Julie Heffernan, Self Portrait with Fountain of Youth, 1997
Nicholas Poussin, Landscape with a Calm Lake, 1651

Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley, The Virgin Martyr Cecilia 8.45' x 18.9' Oil on Canvas 2008
Stefano Maderno, The Martyrdom of Saint Cecilia, 1601

Jacques-Louis David
Jacques-Louis David, Napoleon Leading his Troops Across the Alps, 1800
Kehinde Wiley,Napoleon Leading his Troops across the Alps, 2005

"Kehinde Wiley is a history painter, one of the best we have. By this I mean that he creates history as much as tells it," wrote Holland Carter in the New York Times, in 2005.  

Peter Paul Rubens, Philip II on Horseback, 1628

Click to enlarge.
Kehinde Wiley, Equestrian Portrait of the Count-Duke Olivares 
Count-Duke of Olivares.jpg
Diego Velazquez, Equestrian Portrait of Arch Duke Olivares, 17th c.

"To what end, this quest? The history of art, Wiley argues, has ignored brown faces, consigning them to tiny parts in the backgrounds: slaves, footmen, fallen combatants. Wiley is aiming to give them their aesthetic due, country by country. "Andy Warhol said that we would all have our fifteen minutes," Wiley has said, with pugilistic bravado. "Fuck the fifteen minutes. I'm going to give you a painting, and I'll make you live forever." A self-styled Noah in this biblical epic, Wiley has been called by calamity—the world's museums, flooded with whiteness—to bring the art world a salvational brownness. It's an argument he's bet his career on. It's an argument he's winning." from "Kehinde the First," by Wyatt Mason, GQ, 2013

Yasumasa Morimura, Daughters of Art History, 199

Manet, Olympia, 1863
Thinking About Death - Frida Kahlo
yasumasa Morimura, Self Portrait, Skull Ring, and Friday Kahlo, Self Portrait thinking about Death, 1943

To My Little Sister for Cindy Sherman

Yasumasa Morimura, To my Little Sister for Cindy Sherman, 1990s?.... and Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still,.... 1980's
Cindy Sherman, Untitled #224, 

Caravaggio, Bacchus, 1593

Eve Sussman, 89 Seconds at Alcazar, still, 2004

Diego Velazquez, Las Meninas, 1656

Eve Sussman

Cindy Sherman (well we've discussed her! plenty more info available!)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Wearing my heart on my sleeves

Work That I Love
Lawrence Weschler on "Girls Turning Away," from Everthing that Rises: a Book of Convergences. 

Gerhard Richter, Betty, 1977
Gerhard Richter, Grey Mirror, 1991

Gerhard Richter, Confrontation 2 (Gegenüberstellung 2). 1988. Oil on canvas, 112 x 102 cm

Diego Velazquez, Rokeby Venus, c. 1647–51. 122cm x 177cm (48in x 49.7in)

Gerhard Richter, Confrontation 1-3 (1988)

Julie Heffernan

From her website, her Statement on her recent work: 

I grew up in the West, so am inclined towards mighty spaces. Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt’s grand landscapes make perfect sense to me. Our family’s version of a cheap vacation was camping in gorgeous National Parks such as Yosemite and Lassen. Like Cole, the places we visited got us as close to god as we could possibly imagine being. At the same time, they represented what we had lost. 

My recent work is focused on making sense of the world around me after calamities such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. We are slowly making our world unlivable, and I want to bring to the surface the destructive action, waste, and contamination that is generally invisible to us.  I need to imagine another way, to outfit myself with signs and banners that speak louder than I can, to envision how we might remake the world as it is slowly falling apart.

I have always been up for a good journey and that is what painting offers me.  Like the game Chutes and Ladders, the basic thrust of which – flying down slides and plodding up pathways – I always loved as a kid, my work allows the eye to meander through spaces, across rivers, get lost in thickets, singed by forest fires, pass by warning signs and under control towers that speak, in smoke signals, to our great distress.
Self Portrait with Cargo

Julie Heffernan, Self Portrait with Cargo, 2014 from her website

Oil on canvas, 68 x 66 inches
Self Portrait as Emergency Shipwright

Julie Heffernan, Self Portrait as Emergency Shipwright, 2013

Oil on canvas, 60 x 84 inches
Self Portrait as Boy in Flight

Julie Heffernan, Self Portrait as Boy in Flight, 2011

Oil on canvas, 52 x 68 inches
Self Portrait as Spill

Julie Heffernan, Self Portrait as Spill, 2007  See more of Heffernan's work here

Oil on canvas, 68 x 60 inches

Vija Celmins
from a Statement about Celmins at C4 Contemporary Gallery

Apart from being an incredibly accomplished 'technician', which is perhaps MOST of the reason that attention is bestowed upon Vija Celmins, there is a tenacious - even obsessive quality seen in her works - at least in the aggregate. And so, syntactically - they fascinate. That is to say that seeing a collection of her work over time is rewarding... to explore the variations in treatment, framing, subject matter and technique. And it is a fascinating exploration, a controlled one at that, into the psyche of an artist and a human being. This is perhaps the most powerful aspect of her work -and the aspect that you will RARELY hear being talked about. This is where we discuss thematics. There are several enduring themes running through her work which appear time an again - all loosely intimating a sense of mortality - the ocean(water)... the night sky... the spider web... disasters. The universality of such existential tropes resonate soundly with all of us.

But it's not even so simple. The degree to which craft is exercised embeds a layer of communication, a layer of intimacy - in her work which is all but absent in the conceptual musings of the last 20-30 years of efforts by our best artists. She exposes us to a level of mastery and that is haunting that we wish not acknowledge nor discuss because it's not convenient to the narrative of the 'contemporary'. I think that Celmins' work provides a reminder of the soulful aspect of art that is all too often missing these decades. It is a challlenge that needs to be answered.
Vija Celmins, Big Sea II, 1965
Vija Celmins, Ocean, 2005

Vija Celmins, Night Sky, 2005
Vija Celmins, Suspended Plane, 1966
Vija Celmins. To Fix the Image in Memory. 1977-82
Vija Celmins, To Fix the Image in Memory, 1977

Vija Celmins, To Fix the Image in Memory, 1977

Vija Celmins, To Fix the Image in Memory, 1977
The MOMA owns 12 pairs of Celmin's rocks and cast rocks. The label content: "For this work, Celmins made bronze casts of eleven rocks and then painted the casts to resemble the original stones as closely as possible. In an interview, she recalled, "I got the idea for this piece while walking in northern New Mexico picking up rocks, as people do. I'd bring them home and I kept the good ones. I noticed that I kept a lot that had galaxies on them. I carried them around in the trunk of my car. I put them on window sills. I lined them up. And, finally, they formed a set, a kind of constellation. I developed this desire to try and put them into an art context. Sort of mocking art in a way, but also to affirm the act of making: the act of looking and making as a primal act of art." By having each original rock installed with its duplicate, Celmins invites the viewer to examine them closely: "Part of the experience of exhibiting them together with the real stones," she has said, "was to create a challenge for your eyes. I wanted your eyes to open wider." from MOMA

Great Piece on Celmins' work here
Vija Celmins Heater 1964
Vija Celmins, Heater 1964
Oil on canvas  1205 × 1219 mm
Gerhard Richter  

And what is it that connects Vermeer, Palladio, Bach, Cage?
It's that same quality I've been talking about. It's neither contrived, nor surprising and smart, not baffling, not witty, not interesting, not cynical, it can't be planned and it probably can't even be described. It's just good. I Have Nothing to Say and I'm Saying it, Conversation between Gerhard Richter and Nicholas Serota, Spring 2011 From Richter's website

Sally Mann

Sally Mann, Jessie Bites, 1985
Sally Mann, Night Blooming Cereus, 1988

Sally Mann, Jessie at 12Before and After, 1994
Sally Mann, Virginia...
Sally Mann, The Last Time Emmet Posed Nude

Sally Mann, Emmet, Virginia, Jesse
Sally Mann, Virginia...

Sally Mann, The Big Girls, 1992

Sally Mann, from Southern Landscapes, 2010

Francesca Woodman
Francesca Woodman, House #3, 1976

House, 2, Providence, Road Island, 1976
Space, 2, Boulder, Colorado, 1976

Nicholas Nixon: Brown Sisters since 1975

Emmet Gowin: everything

Emmet Gowin, Nancy, Edith's niece in Danville (Virginia), 1969