It’s been a while since I posted an artist link, but for Frances Bagley, I have to. She’s a counterargument to the idea that one should have a focus on a specific kind of work, since she does all kinds of wildly different things: installations in rooms, disturbing mixed media draped figures, abstract sculpture, video-centered works, public conceptual pieces, and all with a thoughtful and deft eye and hand.
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
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.
When I say “old,” I mean in contemporary art terms. 4 years on YouTube is decades of art history realtime. But I couldn’t stop watching this Sterling Ruby short, even when sharing it for someone else to check out. It’s visceral sculpture that gets to the heart of issues I’ve struggled with: what does gesture mean when the artist’s hand is subjugated to digitization, control, and technology that represents with ever greater range and expression? Why do physical work at all? Here’s one answer, and it’s mesmerizing to watch.
As a bonus, I didn’t come to the video first, I was amazed by this new article in Architectural Digest describing Ruby’s massive L.A. studio space, somewhere amid the industrial warehouses a few miles below downtown.
Robert Indiana died yesterday. His depiction of the word “love,” reproduced up there in sketch form, was both commercial and personal. Its cheesy, but sentimental. It’s a command, and also a concept.
To make something so iconic is a dream most of us have. But this thing, the Indiana Love piece, possessing so many contradictions and overtones and ideas, is just something you stumble upon and get lucky for having tripped.
Robert Indiana did a ton of other work, Google up his name and switch to viewing images for more. His was a great artistic arc.