i've been looking through some old issues of Artforum. i leaf through the pages and here and there an ad will jump out at me. the text is a non-issue, as is the featured art and the artists involved in the making of said art. yes, we have art from india, south america, africa, eastern europe, the middle east, asia (especially, china, of course...), etc, etc... but are we better for it?? especially considering that the video crap coming out of ghana will look pretty much like the video crap coming out of hamburg, that looks remarkably like the video crap coming out of taipei. the twisted, misunderstood legacy of duchamp mutated with the additions of raushenberg and warhol and we've been living with the afterbirth ever since. and thats what you see in Artforum, or any number of rags with the pretensions of dealing with art. there is the photography, the aforementioned video, installation, actions, conceptions, etc... and at this point, they've been around for a good 4 decades-- time enough to have developed significant variations of language and meaning, both singularly and collectively. sadly, as clement greenberg foretold in the late 60's, the "alternative media", if you will, has become homogenously academic, to say the very least.
by the nature of it's democracies these media are an easy out for those who need it. the juvenile humor takes the place of high seriousness, the video protects from the visceral reality of paint, stone and metal. fine... but the horror of it IS THAT IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME. EACH "ARTIST" IS AS ANONYMOUS AS ANY OTHER FROM ANY OTHER LOCATION ON THE PLANET. IT IS THE SAME LOOK, THE SAME ATTITUDE, THE SAME POLITICS, THE SAME SHOCK TO THE MIDDLE CLASS (OR SOME OTHER DISTENDED ENEMY), THE SAME VITRINES, THE SAME LIQUIDS, THE SAME BODY FLUIDS, THE SAME NUDITY, THE SAME SELF-CONSCIOUS POSTURING AND PROMOTION...
something else i get from checking out these Artforums-- there is some damn fine painting being done in the world. and it looks good and it looks powerful and looks like an individual work of art. and you wouldn't know this by reading any of the reviews or featured articles, you would arrive at this realization simply through looking at the ads. every now and then a few of them will jump out at you. maybe it's only a detail of a particular painting, but it's there nonetheless...
one of the joys of mid-century modernism was how the diversity of international flavors developed and matured. for sure, there was a definitive "american" painting going on. and the same could be said for france in the 50's and 60's... i think it was greenberg who brought up the comparison between the work of kline and soulages. yes, both artists leaned on black and white and, obviously, the abstract expression. but there it ends. and then there were the germans, the other sordid examples of northern european art and, quite romantically the canadians, toiling anonymously and powerfully. a few years ago, on a trip to montreal i was struck by the sheer number of GREAT paintings by various artists from the last 50 years I HAD NEVER HEARD OF... and each one, though (for the most part) sharing the interest and exploration of abstraction worked through very different means, purposes and aesthetics. i won't act like i know much of mid-century art in asia and africa. but i'd guess that there was an aesthetic set of principals and understandings much different than those of the western world. but now? now cultural variation is only in the name on the slide label and maybe related somehow to the various pretensions involved. now, we have a hegemony of poorly realized, international regurgitations of weinerourslermccarthykelly and thats really about it and it's sad and it's futile to worry too much about it and it's more important to just (somehow) make it to the studio and make the work you need to make and maybe read a poem and maybe drink some wine and then come home and cook dinner and go to bed and then it all starts over again and you look back on the yesterdays and smile, having done what you could... add to that going to whatever job is allowing you to pay rent for a studio and buy paint and all the rest and well, my friend, thats life.
there has been a lot of talk and a lot of writing about what the economic shit storm will do to (or for) art and the art world. well, the idea of artists making money on their art is, all things considered, a relatively recent concept. galleries will close. collectors will be a little tighter with their dollars and all of that is fine. artists will keep on with their work.
and perhaps there will be a merciful culling of the herd...
Monday, March 23, 2009
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Post a Comment