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Category: Arts Worlds

Hail Hilma af Klint, Pioneer Abstract Painter

Hail Hilma af Klint, Pioneer Abstract Painter

Only now is the depth of her insight and discoveries widely known. She never exhibited her abstract work, pretending to the outside world she was working in a conventional way. This NY Times article covers the Guggenheim retrospective currently on display.

We should understand there’s likely lots of innovative and wondrous work out there, being done without acclaim or attention. Had af Klint not been encouraged to keep her brilliance secret, she might be known as the mother of abstract painting.

A Short Film About the Moon As a Light Bulb and Katie Paterson’s Mesmerizing Examination of It

A Short Film About the Moon As a Light Bulb and Katie Paterson’s Mesmerizing Examination of It

Katie Paterson is a Scot who works in Berlin, and the above film is mostly about the creation of a light bulb meant to emulate moonlight. 

Her web site mentions her work is often about time and change, but I’d say it’s time and what remains constant. It’s charming and thoughtful, and her morse code message sending Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata bouncing to our satellite and back is an exploration of both how we make the moon a kind of person, anthropomorphizing it in so many ways, and also of our certainty of its permanence in our strange, short lives.

Banksy’s Bemusing, Possibly Cynical Shredding at Sotheby’s

Banksy’s Bemusing, Possibly Cynical Shredding at Sotheby’s

https://youtu.be/4IcIzeArIkU

There’s a lot of speculation about why Banks did this, and what it means. I’m not sure yet that there’s any one meaning to the work, but I’m intrigued by the larger possibilities behind the concept.

If Banksy wanted to “prank” the fine art world, it backfired, in a way, because the likelihood is that it’s worth more money shredded. This includes the possibility of the thing continuing through the frame shredder at some point. It transitioned from 2D art to conceptual art, and there’s plenty of that which doesn’t have a specific and discrete physical form. All this attention has undoubtedly increased its value for the buyer, and brought massive publicity to both Banksy and Sotheby’s. It’s not really tweaking the wealthy fine art community as much as fostering it.

On the other hand, Banksy may know what he’s doing, that all this would result in increased value, which is more cynical and that’s disheartening. It’s interesting as another in a series of “why is a thing worth this much?” works, but I’m not sure that goes very far. If the thing dissolved completely, that’d be a better way of bringing it full concept: what’s the resale value of a painting that no longer exists, sans documentation?

The main value, I think, is that I’ll have to think about this some more.

Brand New Stuff You Could Be Seeing at an Art Fair in London Starting Friday

Brand New Stuff You Could Be Seeing at an Art Fair in London Starting Friday

There aren’t that many opportunities to see up-to-the-minute visual art on a vast scale outside art fairs. This is nearly 7 minutes of what it’s like—kind of— to walk around what will be Frieze London 2018. My favorite part is that they let the art do the talking, so you’re hearing what you’d experience in person.

It’s always strange, sometimes humbling, and exciting to see such an overwhelming number of artists represented in a single space.

There Should Be Less Division Between Artist and Worker

There Should Be Less Division Between Artist and Worker

Mierle Laderman Ukeles made the above piece in 1976, but we still haven’t applied the concepts she boldly displayed widely enough, yet.

It’s very easy to get caught up in rock start aesthetic, superstar mythos, where we dream of rich hedonism and a life above the humdrum, creating at will and to great acclaim. This is America.

But that vision isn’t real, and the humdrum is just life in general. It’s where we are most of the time, and it feeds and sustains our practice. Ukeles asked maintenance workers to consider part of their work during the day as art, and complied her worker-artist subjects in a grid of fellow creators, not merely portrait sitters. These are lessons we should pass on and ponder. Everyone can make art, it’s for us all.

Stuff Acquired by the Whitney in the Past Year (It’s Rather a Lot)

Stuff Acquired by the Whitney in the Past Year (It’s Rather a Lot)

Why the Whitney? There are plenty of other museums that bought stuff. Well, that’s certainly true, but it’s on my radar in general for a few particular qualities: 

  • It’s focused on American art (and as an American, that’s germane to my existence here)
  • It’s focused on contemporary art, with some attention given to the 20th century, but much on the 21st
  • It’s focused on exhibiting and exposing new and lesser known artists

Those are good reasons to keep an eye on what kind of work they’re interested in, and here’s a list of the 417 things they bought in the last year, with a photo for nearly every piece.

Looking through this will take some time, but I think it’s valuable for artists to have some idea of what the Whitney thinks is worth keeping.

The Weighty, Considered, Symbolic, and Evocative Work of Alicja Kwade

The Weighty, Considered, Symbolic, and Evocative Work of Alicja Kwade

via Louisiana Channel

Polish artist Kwade is making lovely and ambitious work with her sculpture. It calls to mind the compulsive appeal of orreries. The work incorporates planetary physics, time, geology, and movement in unexpected but immediate and accessible ways.

It brings to my mind my love of science, of science fiction, and also of our very human need to understand our place in the universe.

Good Art, Bad Art, It’s Hard to Tell the Difference If Your Definition Is Broad Enough

Good Art, Bad Art, It’s Hard to Tell the Difference If Your Definition Is Broad Enough

And I think it should be very broad, indeed. As in, not restricting it to things you admire or even like, beyond to what you find chaotic or obvious.

Because creativity is vast, and the things humans make are sometimes unexpected, and sometimes they look like a mess, framed.

But it’s hard to tell when someone is sincere and when they just have no idea what they’re doing. We praise a child’s exuberant stick figures, but disparage them when they come from an adult. Unless they’re funny! I’m that case, we can’t get enough of them (XKCD, Cyanide and Happiness).

Looking at Paul Klee’s work, there’s a childlike energy to it, and it’s still dismissed at a glance for being too simple or cartoonish. But there’s a deep symbolism within, sometimes invented, sometimes referenced to real world things. You can certainly dislike it, but it helps to look beyond the labels “good” and “bad.” Even in things you find gross or dumb, there’s often a lot of hard work that went into making it the way it is. Sometimes, even the fast sketches and drips contain years’ or decades’ worth of study and practice behind them.

It’s not that you can’t call a thing bad. Opinions are had by us all. But consider leaving it at the cursory or joke level, and always give a shit about looking deeper. It feeds and informs your work to be charitable and open to the stuff you encouter.