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.


Citygarden STL

July 7, 2009

Last Wednesday I was able to make it over to the new sculpture garden/park in downtown St. Louis called Citygarden. It is a beautiful display of garden, landscape architecture, and sculpture all mixed together to form a landmark that is friendly to the art scholar and kids and adults that just want to have fun and relax. It is just blocks from Busch Stadium and a block from the 8th and Pine Metrolink station. 

What a wonderful gift. Here are some pictures of some of the works. 

 

Each square is a different chime sound. Info on this is not on the map but is fun.

Each square is a different chime sound. Info on this is not on the map but is fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled (Two Rabbits) by Tom Claassen

Untitled (Two Rabbits) by Tom Claassen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obviously the kids love to climb on this one. Looks like it is made of marshmallow and is light and soft. However, It is made of bronze. Evidently there are real live rabbits that live in this park. I saw one baby brown rabbit and when I tried to take a picture it scurried into a bush. 

 

Untitled (Ringed Figure) by Keith Haring

Untitled (Ringed Figure) by Keith Haring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many art objects can a person climb on without being repremanded? Pretty much all of them here. As you can see, this young man scaled to the top ring to pose for a picture. I am sure this will be a common phenomenon. I believe this is at he corner of 10th and Market. The building in the background is the NBC affiliate, KSDK. 

 

Eros Bendato (Eros Bound) by Igor Mitoraj

Eros Bendato (Eros Bound) by Igor Mitoraj

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one seems to be a crowd pleaser. This piece is large enough to walk into and one can peer out of the eye sockets. Plus there is the water element in front. Overall, water seems to be a main element of this park. On a hot, humid  summer St. Louis afternoon this will be popular. 

 

2 Arcs x 4 230.5 Degree Arc x 5 by Bernar Venet

2 Arcs x 4 230.5 Degree Arc x 5 by Bernar Venet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who thought a conceptual piece by an artist who’s work is based on math and emotional detachment could be fun? Well, if you can climb on it….simple fun.

 

Scarecrow by Donald Baechler

Scarecrow by Donald Baechler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can see the scarecrow and it is kind of dark and menacing. Sits near the edge of the garden so it seems appropriate. This figure does remind me of Abraham Lincoln with the tall stovepipe hat and tall lanky figure. Actually, it looks like an effigy of Lincoln. 

 

This is Kiera and Julian Walking by Julian Opie

This is Kiera and Julian Walking by Julian Opie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are two of these animated LED panels in the park. This is just what people are meant to do in this park, go for a stroll. 

 

 

Looking east. Standing on the rocks below the Northern River Bluffs Band.

Looking east. Standing on the rocks below the Northern River Bluffs Band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is this arching band that extends across the northern edge of the park. This part has a nice pool with stepping stones and a waterfall. This band is supposed to represent the bluffs. The park is laid out in three bands that represent the geographic features of the region.

Many of the buildings surrounding the park are the glass curtain style and this creates many great reflections.

 

Twain by Richard Serra

Twain by Richard Serra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is probably the most hated sculpture in St. Louis. It is just across 10th street, the western edge of the park. It is not in the park but it looks rather sad and lonely. I really feel bad for this piece. I hope something can be done to maybe expand the park and include this work and reframe it in a new way. Maybe people could feel differently about Twain. 

To find out more about Citygarden click here.

To find out more about the Gateway Foundation click here. They funded the project and made this happen. It is in a way a gift to the city. It will be run like any city park.


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.