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Category: Arts Worlds

The Weird and Haunting Final Duchamp Sculpture Is Seasonally Appropriate

The Weird and Haunting Final Duchamp Sculpture Is Seasonally Appropriate

I’m sharing this because it’s one of the few artworks I find actually scary. Incredible and fascinating, but also scary. It’s not a sudden, frightening type, but a deeper, more primal kind.

We look through a tiny hole and are confronted with a prone, naked body, only partially seen and still, in the sticks and brush. It might be catching an intimate moment, or it might be something grisly.

Marcel Duchamp spent more than 20 years working on Étant donnés in secret. His hidden dedication is one of the components of the work.

Something else—I’m ever so salty when I see a piece I like a lot and want to know more about its making, but I usually see simply “mixed media” in the medium area of the title card with no elaboration. What did you use? Gorilla bones? Model airplane parts? Camel spit?? It’s so often frustrating. Duchamp made sure we know damn well what went into his last creation:

Mixed media assemblage: (exterior) wooden door, iron nails, bricks, and stucco; (interior) bricks, velvet, wood, parchment over an armature of lead, steel, brass, synthetic putties and adhesives, aluminum sheet, welded steel-wire screen, and wood; Peg-Board, hair, oil paint, plastic, steel binder clips, plastic clothespins, twigs, leaves, glass, plywood, brass piano hinge, nails, screws, cotton, collotype prints, acrylic varnish, chalk, graphite, paper, cardboard, tape, pen ink, electric light fixtures, gas lamp (Bec Auer type), foam rubber, cork, electric motor, cookie tin, and linoleum

Perhaps We Should Be Less Precious About Our Works

Perhaps We Should Be Less Precious About Our Works

Ai Weiwei posted this video on his Instagram account this past week. It seems to show a man on his cell phone obliviously walking into Weiwei’s installation of porcelain sunflower seeds on a museum floor.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BpFO6ShCJQ_/

As with most of his posts, there is no comment from Ai about it. Reaction from fans and followers are almost universally horror struck. A few are cynical about it being staged. Is it faked? Maybe. I’m not sure it matters that much.

We spend a lot of time making things. We spend much less time thinking about their ephemerality. That should be part of how we consider the things of the world. Nothing is forever. If we embrace the impermanence of it all, I think we might be able to laugh at the absurdity of things like our bestowing some kind of sacred status on finished work.

This incident with the Weiwei piece, or even actively destructive things elsewhere, are some kind of connection with that existential absurdity. I feel like that’s a bigger statement than we can make on our own. Maybe we’d have more fun and make better things afterward by emphasizing the intangible meaning of this, rather than the perfection of craft or the object.

We’re Surrounded by Design, but Art Can Be Hard to Come By

We’re Surrounded by Design, but Art Can Be Hard to Come By

Wherever humans live, there is design: industrial, graphic, fashion. There’s also plenty of craft, the care people take with their work and making. But art is scarce by comparison. We sort of have to work a little to find it.

We’ve become experts at taking music with us wherever we go. We’ve got music players on us and lots of them fill hours of the day with personal soundtracks. Photography, and the cameras on our phones to create it, is an example of a type of visual art that most people in urban—and plenty of rural—centers have with them at all times, too. But both of those mostly exist where they originate: in our pockets.

It’s unusual to see someone carrying painting tools everywhere. Some artists carry pencils and pens and sketchbooks. A few of them work on them in public. But still, it’s rare to see art around, just wherever. Design, by its nature, is in and on buildings, signs, equipment, and vehicles.

Just for fun, imagine how it’d look to have half as much art on view and displayed as there are logos and advertisements. Art is special, but we probably should make more effort to spread it around, and open up new venues to see it. We’d have less rarity, but plenty more expression. Who knows? Maybe our outlook would change to live among it all.

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.