Thursday, October 29, 2009

And in other news...

Congrats to Will Cotton. I am so happy to hear that one of the nicest personalities in the art world will be participating in this years Performa. My mouth is watering already.

Will Cotton, INSATIABLE, 2008, polystyrene, acrylic polymer, pigment, gypsum

Today's great link

In response to numerous 'Top Lists' (collectors, influential, etc.) the folks over at HyperAllergic have compiled "The Top 20 Most Powerless in the Art World".
16 - Jesus Christ, because he's just too old to show at the New Museum.
Check out the entire list here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Backlash against the conceptual

Damien Hirst with White Roses and Butterflies, 2008, The Wallace Collection. Photograph: Katie Collins/PA

I don't care whether or not Damian Hirst can paint. His dozens of studio assistants churning out spin painting after medicine cabinet after taxidermied animal doesn't bother me at all. I like the concepts, I like the aesthetics (ok the millionth dot painting was silly) but I don't care if the final product came via his hand or his direction. If you keep up with all the contemporary art news you might think I am the only one that feels this way.

Hirst's most recent exhibition, which just opened at the Wallace Collection in London, is comprised only of paintings in which the artist got rid of all assistants and created everything with his own hand. By all accounts the paintings are awful. I have not seen the show in person but the fact that BBC has a page on their website dedicated to linking all of the bad reviews is a pretty strong indication. My guess is the show is not as bad as all the naysayers are putting in print. Hirst has for years been the critics favorite person to hate, but I think it's a pretty strong assumption that painting is not his forte.

Enter Denis Dutton. This weekend his article Has Conceptual Art Jumped the Shark Tank? was published in the New York Times. Basically he is equating contemporary conceptual art to the cartoons in the New Yorker. He asserts that Hirst's inability to paint will cause future art historians to consider him irrelevant and that those who have purchased his work (along with his contemporary Jeff Koons) must be baffoons (my words).

What I don't understand is why the public (or at least the critics) need to draw this imaginary line in the sand where on one side is everything beautiful and created by an artist and is labeled 'art' and on the other side is everything else that we label 'junk'. In my lifetime art has been about blurring boundaries, mixing the aesthetic with the conceptual, and the functional with the beautiful. Do I care if my favorite photographer can't draw? No. Do I think any less of my favorite sculptor if they can't do an interesting piece with the medium of video? No. And would it bother me at all if my favorite conceptual artist can't paint? I bet you can guess the answer.

Damien Hirst, Pharmacy, 1992, installation view at Cohen Gallery, NY.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The pendulum continues to swing

Two recent stories have got me thinking about the state of contemporary art in this time we live in. The first is the recent announcement of the winner of the ArtPrize contest - the competition in Grand Rapids in which the winner of the $250,000 top prize was determined by public vote. The second is about the Biennial of the America's to be held in Denver next summer. Though (I hope) well intentioned, this contemporary art biennial is shaping up to be about everything but contemporary art.

It's caused me to wonder if this is actually a shift in the way the contemporary art world will run or just a pendulum that continues to swing in one direction during these times of American Idol. My guess and hope is that it is the latter and that as the novelty of new technologies like text-voting fades the focus will return to the art itself.

As an aside, I didn't hate the piece that won ArtPrize and was surprised to find out it was the only traditional painting in the top ten. I also imagine there were some very interesting conversations about art around dinner tables all across Grand Rapids, and that's not a bad thing.

Constellations at the MCA

A few weeks ago I mentioned how great I thought the exhibition Constellations: Paintings from the MCA Collection was. If you've seen it, or have a desire to see it, or just like painting, check out the discussion at Bad at Sports. And go to Chicago to see the show before it ends next weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Drunk emails

This came to my inbox last night via my website. I guess we should all just give up...

How bad is you attempt at contemporary art.
a 300 sq.ft space.... You actually think you will make a difference??? I have been in the art scene in Indianapolis for over 15 years.. you nor IMOCA will ever put Indiana on the Comtemp. Map...The IMOCA is bad enough.. The half ass Homoerotic approach to what they thought in the beginning was contemporary art. The IMA can't even get their shit together. they have 4 brand new galleries they have never used yet.... Indiana is full of Pompous individuals, whom really get off on being in publications ( metromix ) That's the Art for you, the art of being Noticed..... It's not really about the art now is it?????

And he left his actual email address which I easily looked up on facebook (but I won't publicize that). Just wanted to let people like Primary Colours, Bootleg Exhibitions, the fine people at On the Cusp, and all the other artists trying to make it in town to go ahead and give up. This one guy couldn't make it for 15 years so the rest of us should just call it curtains!

On a side note, I have been amazed by the quality and quantity of Ed Winkleman's posts on his blog for years. Now that I have a small space to call my own I am even more impressed with how he continues to do it day after day, month after month, year after year. What's the secret Ed???