Friday, October 31, 2008

Collapse of Culture in America (part 2)

I have been involved in some non-art related matters for much of the year, but I am back in New York and with the gallery artMovingProjects closed temporarily, I have had more time to concentrate on my own and others art outside of the gallery. This has been a special time in that without my curatorial mission, I feel more free to critique the work of my peers.

The first show seen recently was the work of Joe Bradley at Canada Gallery. This is an artist who has been showing minimal geometric stick figures that remind me of 3 dimensional Joel Shapiro sculptures minus the concern for craft. This show shocked me, which these days is in itself an accomplishment. Everything I expected out of this artist who was on my radar was erased in the new work. The canvas upon entering the gallery and the sole work in that room was a blank un-primed poorly stretched and dirty piece of cotton duck on a fairly large stretcher that I walked right by. In the main room where more of the same with minimal symbolically looking and boldly gestured char col stick figure, eye, cross, and something else. My first thought was he should of just left the gallery empty- which is the way artMovingProjects sits as I write this. But it left an impression, it is 4.30 in the morning and I can not sleep am writing about it. I have my fingers crossed for him. I understand perhaps he felt he had nowhere to go with the last body of work, and can't wait to see what comes next.

Elizabeth Peyton "Live Forever" at the New Museum
I meet Elizabeth only once at a bar down on Ludlow street in 1991, and was totally taken with her after only a couple of drinks. I thought I might ask her out, but the very next day at a party
at Devon Dikeou's I found she had met Rikrit T. and married him 24 hours later. This woman has an amazing presence, but her work in this retrospective was a real let down. I had just seen the documentary on I am forgetting her name______Alice Neel- from a Documentary , a story of a woman who had struggled most of her life without commercial success, and could not help make a comparison between their works. Both woman painters, and both focused on the portrait. With Peyton's painting I was very impressed with her ability to seduce, the sensitivity of the handling of color, light, paint. She really has a mastery of her surface and composition, the scale is very exciting in it's minuteness, but all the people in her paintings looked the same. This really started to bother me as I moved through the show. They all looked like Kurt Corbain and then I started looking for her self-portrait. At when I found it, "Born to Ride" she painted herself looking like Kurt. Napoleon looked like Kurt. Every one had the same blue expressionless and slightly sad eyes.
The emotional content something, I look for in art was either missing entirely or trapped in the
facile paint handling, in the backgrounds of the gesso itself. I was sorrowed that for all the painting in the museum covering 2 floors those faces lacked the specificity that would conjure the personalities of their owners and this is the power of portraiture. As a culture collapses it's artists become conservative looking backward to traditions mired in convention. The safeness
of figurative painting and it's collectivity can be a manifestation of this setback.

Mary Heilmann "To be Someone" at The New Musuem

This show is great! Mary does not really fit into the Collapse of Culture. I think she pre-dates it. This artist while employing a lot of the same formal strategies comes up with fresh results.
This work is vibrant, fun, and inventive, I will write more about her work later. Sit in the chairs
she made, roll around, look at the work for a long time.

Richard Kern at Feature
(this is part of an interview that went with the show)
you've been taking photos of girls for almost thirty years. will you ever tire of them? will you photograph girls for the rest of your life? do you think of them as girls or women?
I don t see any reason to stop taking photos of women. Photographing naked girls was a career change for me when I started doing it seriously at age 34. At the time, I thought that it would be a nice occupation to have as I grew older. Sometimes I think of the models as girls and sometimes as women.

what keeps your interest?
Trying to think of new things to do within a cliche-ridden format.

when did you start mashing panties and bras into your photos? how did that happen?
A fashion magazine asked me to shoot Kate Moss and told me that she would do whatever I wanted for the photos. I'd been reading about the crazy prices people were paying for clothes worn by Marilyn Monroe at auction. Each piece in the auction was shown with a photo of Marilyn wearing the item as proof that it was authentic. I thought that I would shoot Kate in a bunch of different panties, frame up the panties with the photos and sell them.
The magazine didn't get approval for the shoot and I never got to shoot Kate Moss so I had to alter my plan. I was thinking of shooting celebs in panties because I'd heard that perverts pay for used panties (and stockings etc) along with photos of women wearing them. Because it was going to be hard to get celebrities to model for me in their underwear, I decided to go for this simpler plan. Once someone is seen in a photograph hanging on a wall or in a magazine or book, they gain a kind of celebrity anyway. Art collectors, memorabilia collectors and panty collecting perverts all share a similar desire to own something that has been 'touched' by a specific person.

I think the interview says it better than I can. I think Richard pre-dates the collapse and is not conservative. I am always interested to see what he is up to.


Hans said...

Thanks for your analyzes ! We found your link via Martin Bromirski's Anaba. Agree with most parts, except the recklessness of the Joe Bradley stuff we found nice ;-) Best regards, Hans

Anonymous said...

I don't think i disagree I am a fan of Joe Bradley, reckless yes but miss
old direction because i saw him in a similar camp to myself

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