Chance Aesthetics

October 9, 2009

Since my mother was diagnosed with cancer I have not have much time or energy to go out and see many art exhibitions. In addition to that, there hasn’t been much time for even working in the studio. Other than the small drawings I have done I have been sort of out of the art loop.

In saying that, Monday I was able to make it over to the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum on the campus of Washington University. I also what to state that I like going there to see contemporary art than I like going to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. I think the exhibitions at the Kemper are more varied and I like that the museum is free and being in the situation I am in, free is great. I honestly have not been too interested in the recent exhibitions at CAMSTL.

The exhibitions I saw were Chance Aesthetics and Metabolic City. I will separate the two into separate posts. I was interested in Chance Aesthetics because in my own art I have used elements of chance to develop my work. I tend to use it as a starting point such as dumping ink or paint, using drip patterns and allowing “mistakes” to happen and worked with the unexpected things that come up when making art.

Historically, art has been a skill in which an artist demands exceptional control to achieve a great work. This means works were planned endeavors obsessive perfection. In the 20th century some artists decided to work in opposition to this. The exhibition starts with the Surrealists and Dada, which makes sense to me. What I think is so great about using chance as a basis for a work is that it becomes playful and fun instead of being an intellectual and dry assignment that a lot of art has become.

Some of the works are sloppy and dirty but some are totally obsessive, clean and systematic. The latter still retain an element of surprise and engagement.

Some notable artists and works. I like Ellsworth Kelly’s gridded, cut-up and reassembled drawings.

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly

There is Mimmo Rotella’s decollages of advertisements that you might see on the streets where posters are layered and ripped apart. Sort of like a defaced pop art.

Mimmo Rotella

Mimmo Rotella

Similar to Rotella’s is Jacques Villegle’s work. Something is very subversive and punk about these works. I like that.

Jacques Villegle

Jacques Villegle

I did love the simplicity of Duchamp’s readymade, “hatrack”, that was hanging from the ceiling. I think most people would see the spider-like look of this work and I think most would enjoy this one cause of its playfullness and it is non-confrontational.

Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp

I enjoyed William Anastasi’s subway drawings. I was doing stuff like this when I was in London. I am not saying I did it first but I feel a connection to this cause of my own personal experience with this mindless exercise. Fun and surprising to make.

William Anastasi's Subway Drawings

William Anastasi's Subway Drawings

There is the systematic digital looking Francois Morellet’s telephone directory works. By just looking at it, it looks like a non-objective minimalism. There is the white one that has the layer of varnish on some areas…white on white…so when you look at it at certain angles you see the differences. I think of Ryman’s white paintings. With the black one’s I think of Ad Reinhart’s black paintings. Those ones are definitely more quiet and subtile. Some of them use hot and sometimes competing color schemes that are more challenging. His work can seem like a combination of a Sol LeWit type of work and op-art. The grid seems to be a very important part of the structure of his work.

A telephone directory work by Francois Morellet

A telephone directory work by Francois Morellet

In addition to those works there is Arman’s work in which he collect Claes Oldenburg’s trash. Interesting in an invasion of privacy kind of way. There was a osmotic work by George Maciunas in which spills ink onto a canvas ans lets it spread a soak into the canvas. Marcel Jean and Andre Breton’s drawings were similar. There was Ray Johnson’s mail art and game-like works. There were some exquisite corpse drawings, John Cage compositions and a Nam June Paik’s blank films…well except dust scratches and whatever happened to interfere with the film. Plus there were Deiter Roth’s rotting works.

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Claudia Schmacke at SLAM

April 21, 2009

A couple weeks ago I stopped at the St. Louis Art Museum to see the Currents 103: Claudia Schmacke exhibition. It is up on the third floor in the 301 and 337 galleries. The show runs until July 5th, 2009. 

Claudia Schmacke is a German artist based in Berlin who explores temporally and the perception of time.

Part of the exhibition was a sculpture made of plastic tubing, water and fluorescent dye that loops out  and stretches out across one of the walls. The water is being propelled through the tubes, thus there is a noticeable hum. This sound seems to have some importance to the piece itself so it is not just purely incidental. This particular piece is called Time reel. 

The title makes an obvious reference to film reels. In this day and age many young people may not get the reference. I remember in school being shown films from a projector and the light clicking noise that was made from the film going reel to reel. The noise sort of has that feel and the fact that the water is cycling makes that reference to the physical, mechanical motions that are involved in showing a film. I think the dye was to make the moving water more noticeable to the viewer. 

Here are some images of Time Reel:

This is nearly the whole piece

This is nearly the whole piece

 

 

detail of the loops

detail of the loops

 

detail of the wall and all the holes

detail of the wall and all the holes

  

The other part of the exhibition is made up of two videos. One is called Umbilicus and the other is called Dark Matter. Both videos were shot in LA near the La Brea Tar Pits. Both videos are looking down into drainage pipes. I only saw part of Umbilicus… it was nearly 20 minutes long. It features water being sucked down this small drainage pipe. Featured prominently are the sucking, gurgling and other sounds that can come from water going down a drain. The sounds would make young children laugh (some adults too).  I do believe she is making references between the body and structures and systems that help keep places functioning.

Also, there is that issue of time. Time being relative. Time always moves as a constant speed (seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc) but our perception of time always changes. When there is excitement time seems to fly. When there is not much going on, leading to boredom, time seems to crawl. Looking at a 20 minute video of water going down a drain seems to be a good example of the latter. The video just never seems to end. I believe the artist is not trying to bore you to death, but is keeping the viewer aware of time and how it is perceived. 

For a still image of one of the videos stop by the St. Louis Art Museum website.

Also, you can stop by the Claudia Schmacke website for more info on her work and career.


Elvis Painting

March 22, 2009

 

What makes people produce art that depicts a celebrity one does not know? 

 

I can see a person making a portrait to honor someone important to one’s life. I can see someone making a portrait for some money (a commissioned work). I can see someone doing it for an exercise. I am not exactly sure what drives a person to spend so much time on a painting or drawing of a person they don’t know. I think it it has to be a product of obsession. Of course, this is something I can expect out of adolescence because, from my experience, when a teenager really likes something a lot they can be rather obsessive and evangelistic about whatever that thing is. It could be a love, some celebrity, a musician, comics, sports. You name it. What about adults?

I was in Memphis, TN last week. My boyfriend and I went to Graceland to see Elvis’s home and the whole spectacle. While doing the tour, we ran into a wall of art sent to either Elvis himself and to the estate. It is said that they have too much to show, so they rotate the works. They are mostly paintings of Elvis himself at different points in his career. There was one of his mother. There was this giant 6 foot full body oil paintings of Elvis looking rather heroic. (I was also thinking he looks like a Chippendale…with the bow tie around his nude neck).  I was starting to think of the works of Van Dyck and the fully portraits he did of the most noble people from that time period. Can we really compare Elvis to some king or leader of the state? Well, his nickname is “The King”. Actually, can I compare this anonymous artist to one of the most hailed painters of all time? I don’t think so. 

Here is a pic I took. They quality is not that good. It was rather dim in the room and could not use a flash (which would be bad for the painting and as you can see, there is already a hefty glare from the lighting). 

 

Elvis oil painting

Elvis oil painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a Van Dyck painting….

 

 

King Charles I

King Charles I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, when I think of Elvis related art, I think of something on black velvet. Something really cheesy. As for the Graceland stuff, I guess they figured there is so much of art made in his honor, they should display some of it. They could probably just have a museum of the work.


Influences and Inspiration Pt. 3

December 20, 2008

This year for my birthday my boyfriend took me to Louisville to see David Byrne in concert. That in itself was pretty awesome. Just getting out of town is great. Travel is a great way to get me inspired. Unfortunately, not much art was seen though. The only place we saw any art was at an upscale hotel called 21c. You know you are at the hotel when you see a bunch of red penguins.

Red penguins

Red penguins

 The penguins are kind of cute and I am sure the kids love them since all the big penguin movies that have come out lately. There were so many of these penguins everywhere. They were at street level and inside the hotel. I didn’t notice the penguins on the roof until after we left the hotel and were walking around for a bit.

At the museum probably my favorite piece, because it was fun, was called “Text Rain” by Camille Utterback & Romy Achituv. It was  a video projected on to the wall by the elevator.

The art is scattered about the hotel so it gave us an excuse to sort of roam around the hotel a bit. There is art hidden in nooks and crannies so you really have to look around. I am thinking there was probably much more than we saw (art on the other upper floors, bathrooms, and the hotel rooms). Usually hotel rooms have the worst framed work and decor that is horribly dated and aged. This one, I am sure, has some pretty nice decor and art. So the website is a good place to find all the stuff you missed.

As for our hotel, we stayed at your run-of-the-mill Best Western/Holiday Inn type place off the highway near the University of Louisville. The room was nice…had a southern type of charm. The bed was very high off the floor with a canopy.

While on our little walk near the hotel/science center/and the baseball bat museum factory I had to take a picture of this building facade. 

Building Facades

Building Facades

It looks like the rest of the building was demolished but they wanted to keep the historic facades. If you look closer you can see the frame work that is keeping these walls up. I am thinking they are going to build new buildings but do a face transplant of sorts to keep with the style of the district. To me the sight was surprising. I looked up at the building and it took a second to realize I could see the sky through the windows. Usually you can see the sky while looking out of a window.

The David Byrne concert was great. He is a pretty inspirational person. I really love the Talking Heads. I am not as familiar with a lot of his solo work. I do like the “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” album he did with Brian Eno. It was a great, artistic example of what someone can do through sampling. Of course, with digital technology, it is “easier” technically. In 1981, when the album was released, sampling was done by hand since everything was analog. The album was more influential than a commercial success. So it was great hearing the songs live. I have been listening to a lot of their music while I make stuff.

Every city has their “must-see” tourist attractions so we went to Churchill Downs. It is sort of like Fairmont Park except is is much larger and more prestigious. We did a behind the scenes tour and got to go out to the track. We did the early tour and we saw some horses. It was practice/exercise time.

View From the Press Box

View From the Press Box

This is my favorite picture from the time at Churchill Downs. It is a different kind of view point. There is something kind of abstract about it. It looks pretty flat and shapes and lines and, of course, the color is prominent. I also like the transparent-like reflections that are there too.

Additionally, in Louisville, we went to the Science Center, and The Louisville Slugger Museum.