Colin Roe Ledbetter
Prof. Paul Paret
ART H. 3400
Where would art be today if it wasn’t for the art made in the past? Over time there has been an expansion on what “Art” is, how it should be seen, who can see it and where art can bee seen. Everyday art is questioned on its significance, relevance, and necessity to the world of today.
We have been asked to write about a hypothetical chance to curate a show with any work we deem worthy in our selection process. Curation is one of my favorite parts about art, even more so than creating art, there is a sheer pleasure I get from selecting and organizing art to be hung and shown.
With the use of the Internet, I can curate to my hearts desire, and I do on a daily basis through blogging. The Blog becomes the gallery, which is open and free to anyone to access, it becomes a forum for discussion and deliberation about what art is and how it should be viewed. So in combination to turning in this paper to you I will also publish it to my blog along with the images by artists I have selected for the hypothetical gallery.
Having a hypothetical vast amount of space is very similar to having a website on the Internet, you can set the dimensions and create your own gallery in which to view the work. Some of our modern Museums are using Second Life, a virtual gallery in which you can walk your virtual self around, even Google has started using their Google street view ability inside of museums with the Google Art Project, allowing those who have never been able to travel to these galleries to see art they might have never had the chance to see.
Most of the works I will mention, I’ll get to it I promise, I have never experienced in real life. So if the chance to have a real experience with these work I would likely have an Artattack or an Artgasm or both. This is what makes writing this paper so hard, not having had a visual experience and only having a book learned vocabulary, and I why would rather write about work I have scene or experienced. So after a year of thinking about it, I am going to let loose and start typing.
I enjoy the later Suprematism work of Kazimir Malevich, geometric forms on planes of white, more so than the Futurism and Cubism work he had been doing previously. Black Cross, Black Square, & Black Circle, 1915, these non-objective abstract paintings are some of my favorite. Each shape floats on the white plane. These paintings are plane and simple, but very different, from his prior work. I would also include Suprematist Composition: White Square on White, 1918, another geometric non-objective painting of an off-centered tilted square on off-white. The monochromatic painting was a step in a new direction for abstract painting during this time in the 1900s and is still relevant today.
Just like Malevich developed his own form of abstraction, Suprematism, El Lissitzky started what he called Prouns, compositions of two- and three-dimensional geometric shapes floating on a solid color plane. Proun 99, 1924-25, is a basic representation of a proun, multiple geometric shapes, and organic and inorganic lines, something 3 dimensional.
Lissitzky’s background in architectural engineering can be seen in his photographic collage, The Constructor, 1924, the elements of Prouns can also be seen in this portrait. Prounenraum, 1923, is the embodiment of the Proun, using geometric relief and painted shapes to activate the walls of the room.
Lissitzky’s Prounenraum and Malevich’s 0, 10 (Zero-Ten): The Last Futurist Exhibition, in which hung the black shapes mentioned earlier, are 2 installations which still influence different disciplines of installation artists and is still relevant today.
Paul Klee’s watercolor, pencil and ink drawings are some of my favorite creative process. These simple geometric color charts convey a complex state of visual experience, wither it is from the abstract geometric structure, or the color relation of analogous and complimentary colors. Double Tent, 1923, an asymmetrical vertical shift causes new relations in color layers, like different layers of earth when the plates shift. The same is true about Eros, 1923, the colors all relate like that of a color chart but the shift is no longer a vertical shift like in Double Tent, but a difference in the meaning of the arrows, which in physics could be vectors of force, the larger arrow is longer and wider like the rows of cool colors, similar even to wavelength, the smaller arrow coincides with the warmer and more frequently changing rows of color.
The theme of abstraction continues with work by Wassily Kandinsky, who’s work I didn’t really care for until I read “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” and then spent time looking at the images he created. Although the later work of Kandinsky, CompositionVIII, 1923, & Several Circles, 1926, would seem to fit in with the graphic, hard edged paintings mentioned previous, I feel that his earlier painting, Exotic Birds, 1915, with the use of watercolor is more freeing and allows the transparency of the paint and looseness of the brush control the image unlike the other work I have mentioned. The looseness is freeing, and is something that I feel is necessary in work that is to come. To free ones self from representation and allow abstraction to guide ones practice to new levels.
I feel like most my peers like the work of Dali when it comes to surrealism, but my favorite is Rene Magritte whose work is clever and ironic. The Treachery of Images, 1928, a play on words and image. The painting knows it is a painting and it undermines that the object represented in paint. The Human Condition, 1933, a self-referential painting of a painting of a landscape. The painting within is a may be a realist painting of the landscape outside, but from this angle it creates a surreal landscape which might not even exist. Both of these visual plays are still used widely in art today.
Max Ernst’s Europe After the Rain, 1940-42, is a textual and visual mess that I could get lost in for hours. A post war bombed cityscape melting under a cloudy sky on a sunny day is an example of beauty and destruction side by side. “Decalcomania” is a destructive and reductive and additive technique; it destroys the paint original placement, it reduces the amount of paint on the painting, and adds a texture that cannot be painted.
The work that has been mentioned up to this point was created before many of the next artists were ever born, but their work is very similar and just as inventive.
Robert Rauschenberg just thinks differently and because of that he made a lot of different art. Almost nothing in Rauschenberg’s path couldn’t be made in to art when he started doing his “combines”: blankets, pillow, goats, tires and coke bottles just to name a few of his raw “ready made” materials. These are strange forms, Coca Cola Plan, 1958, use Pop culture, pun intended, everyday material and paint to create his paintings. Mixing three-dimensional and two-dimensional material in combines is a lot like that of the Prounenraum.
Jasper Johns’ White Flag, 1955, has roots in the minimal aspects of Kazimir’s White on White and the surrealist concepts of Magritte’s paintings. Johns made a unique object from what is a common ready-made pop culture slice of Americana. I like Johns work because he wasn’t afraid of making something that had been made before, and making it over and over again. But even more so because Johns destroyed all his previous work worked for 30 years on a similar idea and then just stopped. The only thing I have seen him do recently is a voice appearance on the Simpsons.
Although I started liking Robert Smithson’s earthworks as a child in the vicinity of the Spiral Jetty, his non-site works Maps of Broken Glass, Atlantis, 1969 creates a jagged blue-green landscape like that of broken ice from a winter oceanic landscape. I like the juxtaposition of mineral material in Rocks & Mirror Square II, 1971, the inorganic material and the manufactured forms of the mirrors. These reflective surfaces create new forms and allow the sculpture to change form as you walk around it.
Gerhardt Richter also uses glass and reflections in his work 7 Standing Panes, 2002, as the viewer looks through the panes, each reflection builds up and degrades the clarity of the first reflection, and involves the viewer in the work itself.
Other work by Richter and Rauschenberg were about destroying the original. Richter’s overpainted photographs, 12.4.92 & 5.1.91, uses the same technique that Ernst uses in Europe After the Rain, creating a new abstract landscape. Rauschenberg took someone elses work and erased it down to the original piece of paper with a few traces of the marks the de Kooning made in Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953, which when framed looks similar to Malevich’s White on White.
Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991, has the clean minimalistic aspects of Malevich’s work and the straightforward surreal aspects Magritte’s The Human Condition. This work is not really about the shark but about the museum and the viewer. The quality of the work is like a display in a Natural History Museum and the way the view interacts with the work makes them as much of a piece of the art as the shark.
In contrast to Hirst’s sculpture, I would like to have John Baldessari’s salon style panel collages. The Fallen Easel, 1988, Beach Scene Nuns Nurses (with Choices), 1991, and Hope (Blue) Supported by a Bed of Oranges (Life): Amid a Context of Allusions, 1991. These collages have elements from Rauschenberg’s “combines”, play on words of Magritte’s Treachery of Images and the deep theories about color similar to Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spirituality of Art held.
I know that if all of this work was in a gallery there would be a lot of open floor space, that is why if I could have this work in any real gallery I would hold it in the Guggenheim New York. Using the Guggenheim would eliminate much of the floor space in which would normally be empty since there wasn’t enough sculptural work in this paper. I assume that since I have never been inside and have only seen it in photos.
My main goal now that school is finished (since this has been my only worry all year) would be to see all of the work mentioned in person so that I can have something real to say about the work and not just what I have read and seen in the book.