Whispers

Whispers
Andre Wallace

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Some crowd funding.

This article in the Gruniad has got many people's goat according to the chat thread, because of what it says about the selection and exhibition of contemporary art by the insider group of curators, promotors, hangers on and the deluded.

The Jonathon Jones of this world really and truly do believe themselves to be some sort of privileged beings who can look down with superiority upon the taste of the general public. This article betrays this as fact. It is based upon two premises both exposed for full view in this; "The danger of crowdfunding is blindingly apparent. It subjects artistic endeavour to the whim of many people. This way of funding the arts is rooted in the deeply disturbing theory of the “wisdom of crowds”.

Not so Monsieur Jones - crowd funding gets things done that cannot be done in any other way because control of the media is so tight and so strictly censored by nasty vested interests. The wonderful thing about crowd funding is that it can challenge the ignorance of the status quo and provide an avenue for real dissent.
The other tripe is the assumption that crowds do not have wisdom, when in point of fact all art is subject to the wisdom of the entire crowd and culture over a much longer period of time than the Guardian's pages. 

Which brings us to the Woon foundation prizewinner here. There is little to say about this abstract sculptress, if indeed it she is that, apart from the sheer poverty of visual aspiration that it aptly demonstrates. But this is seen as merit - a very soft target. It's sad that these children's building block sets can be passed off as cutting edge avant garde sculpture. They are nothing remotely of the sort, let alone of significance.

Moaning about declining art values, wandered around the town this a.m. in a bemused state looking at local summer arts festival. Could not help wondering how visual art has become so meaningless both in it's aspiration and it's realisation.  At various locations throughout the town there are visual artists inspiring passers by and children to make art from discarded rubbish or paint on large sheets of cardboard. The result is that, what is being made is inevitably poor quality as below. What is truly depressing about the whole and entire effort is the fact that it serves to equate the notion of art with discarded rubbish and meaninglessness despite it's very well meaning intentions.  This makes it that much easier to drop it completely from the school curriculum, as is rapidly happening in the UK and US. If it is not art then it is not needed.





Lastly there is this really depressing article about the way in which political art has been rendered useless as a medium of protest. It has been politically absorbed as a fashionable adjunct of the challenging nature of contemporary art and it's teeth have been drawn. In effect, in such a brutal and duplicitous culture it has been reclassified as usefully trendy and totally ineffectual.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Waldemar yet again

This is a superb piece of critical excuse and double think. Having read it three times it is still total nonsense from Adrian Searle on Gerhard Richter in the Gruniad.
He writes:  " The squeegee Richter paints with sucks under-layers to the surface. Richter’s abstract paintings are always on the verge of saying something or resolving into some sort of image, but they don’t. If this were a TV you’d want to whack it with your shoe, in the hope that things might become clear. The title, Birkenau, refers to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and, I have been told, under all that paint is a pencil drawing, copied from four photographs taken by an inmate of the camp, depicting piles of bodies. Richter realised that to paint the image, in his familiar, blurred realist style, was impossible. So it has been buried under a slurry of blacks and whites, greens and reds." 

It is explaining that the artist was unable to depict the photographic image he started with in pencil - so why on earth should we as the viewers bother with regarding the resultant meaningless slurry. If an artwork needs this kind of verbal explanation to tell us what it is actually about and that the representation is underneath what we are looking at - then it has failed completely as an artwork - end of.  It all suggests belief that is unsupported by the evidence.

This weeks Sunday Times contains an article by Waldemar Januszczak about the art that is available for viewing at stately home locations. As he says, the results of mixing some contemporary art with stately home environments can be poor. Houghton Hall he suggests is an exception where : " The entire front is bathed in a colour display designed by James Turrell to highlight different aspects of the Palladian architecture. This fabulous Son et Lumiere lasts an hour and a quarter. " 

Laura Cumming in the Observer thinks that the National Galleries attempts to link sound with it's paintings is a disaster. She says this; "Soundscapes is the worst idea the National Gallery has come up with in almost 200 years. It is feeble, pusillanimous, apologetic and, even in its resolute wrong-headedness, lacks all ambition."

"But then, like some wanton variation of the audioguide, where you can’t just use your mind and eyes, but must always be listening too, the sound breaks out and gets in the way."
All of which is strong stuff.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Waldemar Januszczak on Pollock

Jackson Pollock is in the news because of the big exhibition at Tate Modern in Liverpool.  Why would they think that Liverpool needs Pollock? The daft assumption with Pollock is that you can project anything meaningful into his painterly gestalt. Which indeed you can do, but you have to ask why bother if it's not actually there? Like the projected and imagined face in a curtain pattern. So Waldemar writes this about portrait and a dream 1953: "On the left the squiggles for a blur in which I thought I could discern a pair of lovers locked in an ecstatic embrace. I might be imagining it but that would be the dream. On the right, a monumental head has been part painted, part sculpted out of thick layers of grey and orange. That's the portrait. It's surely a self-portrait." Yeh but, no but, yeh but !

Laura Cumming is questioning Barbara Hepworth hard at Tate Britain in the Observer of the 28/6. She gets to the heart of the matter with this paragraph:
"There are more than 100 works in this show, yet somehow it still manages to stray away from the very odd character of her work. The evolution is perfectly conveyed, to be sure – the works getting bigger and more expensive in tandem with her flourishing career. But what is their essential nature? People are always saying that Hepworth’s art is elegant, fluent, tactile and above all graceful; it seems to me very often the opposite....  The satisfaction is almost there, but Hepworth always stops short of metaphor ."

She also gets her superb drawings right when she writes; "
Anyone who prefers her super-fluent drawings will appreciate the celebrated hospital images displayed in this show – surgeons and nurses deep in their painstaking work – and not just because the images are sensationally beautiful. What they achieve is exactly what the sculptures so often deliberately avoid – an articulation of the strange tension between figuration and abstraction in the real world around us." 

This is quite a perceptive comment about an artist who always refused to be defined in her work and it gets to the heart of the matter by suggesting that the drawings did the real work and the sculpture was almost an after thought. She also has a go at the curation and staging of the show - hurrah for that!

Some chancers will do anything to get noticed - so this truly dreadful conceptual artwork from Milwaukee artist Niki Johnson who needs to be noticed get lots of copy. She opts for cheap and coarse insults and offence and an irate public rises to the bait. She got all the publicity she wanted, for a work that doesn't work on any artistic or aesthetic level, it is just very poor in every sense even conceptual.  There is nothing to sustain conceptual art, once you have the meaning it's emptied out and in years to come it will become completely unintelligible. Much like this joke and quite unlike say Poussin or Michelangelo. Jonathan Jones  writes this incomprehensible copy in support: "As for Michelangelo’s gay art, it is still there mocking social conservatives at the very heart of the Vatican
He seems to be putting his prejudices in front of his criticism - so no change there then. There is no evidence that Michelangelo had any close relationships whatsoever. The perception that Michelangelo was a gay artist is untrue, according to scholar William Wallace the artist operated his business much like the Chief Executive of a medium-size company. He was also a much kinder man than is commonly believed. He paid his workers, well and never fired them. 

For once, have to agree with Jonathan Jones on public art the state of which this blog often complains about. He says;  "Egypt has shown the way forward. Workers of the world, rise up against bad statues. Topple these ugly excuses for public art. You have nothing to lose but your aesthetic pain."  Surely they have more to worry about than the state of their public art?


Silliest  piece of criticism this week goes to Alistair Sooke for this written about the Joseph Cornell exhibition at the RA;
"Still, at his best, Cornell made art that was utterly entrancing. I think of him as a kind of poet who chose to work with images rather than words. At his command, the banal could become marvellous: his small boxes leave us with the head-spinning sensation that they contain not throwaway odds and ends but entire worlds."
That Alistair, is quite simply what all artwork ought to do!

Jonathon Jones is more apt and he has done his homework. He says this; "This is a first-rate exhibition of one of the 20th century’s most inspiring artists. Come to the dream arcade, and put 10 cents in Mr Cornell’s imaginoscope." 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Serpentine Pavilion

More News


BBC 2 put out a film of state art hype late last night for the redoubtable Jeff Koons at the Whitney. For those who know nothing of contemporary art with the usual support; Mr Botney, Hal Foster, M Craig Martin, Mr D Hirst etc, etc.
Paradoxically the programme started to get to the bottom of the commodity brokers emptiness but it tended to refer to it as Koon's dark side as if this was Star wars and Koons was some sort of Darth Vader of the art world.  Soulless would be a better description of the endless Disneyland artefacts all crafted by fine Italian craftsmen and painted  by endless studio assistants.  Koons is a branded artist and his factories manufacture a form of kitsch, but it was Prof Hal Foster who apologised for this with the usual casuistic tripe about the work being an artful critique of kitsch, which is a shorthand for insider self deception. MCM's hype for the huge doggy made of live flowers was a good turn. The artist does churn the work out though, though he seems to have, like most of the usual suspects moved very little in content or meaning for some fifty years. I guess what sells well is what works best.  The BBC photography was very good and it concentrated upon the slick emptiness of the objects surfaces and gloss. The studied use of reflection as in Anish Kapoor does not convince, it is way too much fairground distorting mirrors, it's not as though the technology doesn't exist to use another kind of visual distortion that might work much better, now there's an idea some chancer could use! 

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 by SelgasCano. Though what this architect designed pavilion has to do with art is a quite serious question. It's primary purpose appears to be entertainment which it does as well as any fairground, but is any of it artwork? See it then you can decide?

The finalists for the prestigious Nissan award have been announced, they are a vaguely interesting selection of the usual tasteful and acceptable avant garde lite stuff.

Today's Guardian 30th June has a three page spread to further confirm the mythic status of the usual suspect. All of it publicity for his forthcoming new gallery in Lambeth where he will show his own collection of artworks beginning with John Hoyland!  Now that is a really interesting choice, his posthumous reputation could definitely could do with a boost. Unfortunately there is no middle way with Hoyland's brand of abstraction, it's garishness is such that you either love it because of the extreme colour or you hate it.  Much like the usual suspects artwork.

Came across this article in the Telegraph which provides some mild fun at the sculptors expense. There is a serious point to it though and it suggests two very serious questions?

One is that representational sculpture has gone down the pan because no-one knows the discipline and rules any more - they have died as a result of conceptual art orthodoxy. Most of these examples clearly show that the sculptors are strangers to callipers and plumb lines and have some considerable problems with looking.

The second is that the people who payed for these travesties to be cast must have very low expectations and visual standards to have had them cast in bronze. This is an extremely expensive procedure at any foundry. It is surprising they managed to produce the moulds though that also was probably done by the foundry technicians. Perhaps it is just that statuary depicting the rich and famous and the celebrity is just a minor art form. There is nothing here though to compare with the Andrew Wallace sculpture at the head of this blog - that really is a good public sculpture of two anonymous girls!