Artists

[Robert Irwin] came to think of paintings as showing two faces, one as interpretable image and another as physical presence, and he saw the former as bleeding the intensity of the latter. To the extent that a canvas could be subsumed as a painting of something, it was no longer being confronted as an energy field in its own right. And what Irwin was increasingly after was this pure physicality.

…[Irwin noted:] “When you stop giving [the late line paintings] a literate or articulate read (the kind of read you give a Renaissance painting) and instead look at them perceptually, you find that your eye ends up suspended in mid-air, mid-space, or mid-stride: both time and space blend into a continuum. You lose your bearings for a moment. … The thing is you cease reading and you cease articulating and you fall into a state where nothing else is going on but the tactile, experimental process.

“…When I look at the world now, my posture is not one of focus but rather of attention.”

Lawrence Weschler, Robert Irwin / MATRIX 15 catalog essay, University Art Museum (now BAM/PFA), October 1, 1978 – December 31, 1978

Lawrence Weschler’s catalog essay for Robert Irwin’s MATRIX 15 project at BAM/PFA in 1978

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Art & Development, Artists

“You could say that what is on display is failure, what has not been achieved,” [says] Liversidge.

Liversidge is that rare thing for an artist, a poet who proposes to “investigate coincidence” and “a composer” of other people’s actions. It is up to the recipient to determine to what extent they can embrace the project.

Karen Wright, “In The Studio: Peter Liversidge, artist,” The Independent, August 2, 2013

Peter Liversidge on failure and the role of viewers

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Artists

Iran do Espírito Santo’s Poetics

Iran do Espírito Santo, Water Glass 2, 2008, crystal, edition 23/25, 14 x 8.5 x 8.5 cm. // Source: Ingleby Gallery, inglebygallery.com. If you're ever not sure what to get me for my birthday, well, this would be nice.

Iran do Espírito Santo, Water Glass 2, 2008, crystal, edition 23/25, 14 x 8.5 x 8.5 cm. // Source: Ingleby Gallery, inglebygallery.com. If you’re ever not sure what to get me for my birthday, look no further.

Tonight’s artist talk by Iran do Espírito Santo, a Brazilian sculptor and installation artist, energized me. It was part of the Public Art Fund’s excellent series of talks at the New School’s Vera List Center.

Santo constructed a slide lecture that began with a sequence of formally related artworks—a room with circular cutouts, followed by a plaster block with Swiss cheese holes dug out with coins from different currencies, followed by an installation of plaster hemispheres on gallery walls. From there, Santo showed site-specific wall paintings that referred back to the existing architecture, such as floor-to-ceiling brick pattern painted inside SFMOMA in 1997 referring to the brick façade outside. He showed “folding” glass plate installations, wall paintings of gradations of grey, and solid sculptures based on specific forms, such as tin cans, pint glasses, and lamps. 

IRAN do ESPÍRITO SANTO SWITCH, 2012 latex paint on wall dimensions variable unique // Source: Sean Kelly Gallery, skny.com.

IRAN do ESPÍRITO SANTO
SWITCH, 2012
latex paint on wall
dimensions variable
unique // Source: Sean Kelly Gallery, skny.com.

Santo delivered his talk in a matter-of-fact way: In this project I did this, this site was that. He didn’t get into what he was thinking or trying to do. At first, I wanted to hear more—to ask what Jon and Anna from Eastport asked me, because they wanted to ask all artists:

Why do artists make art?

I wanted to know why Santo made what he made.

As the images continued, however, the question seemed less pressing. Though Santo worked in many media, they all seemed to make sense as a body of work. There was a coherence of sensibility and thought to them, even if I couldn’t spell it out how or why.

I still tried to find a logic or connecting thread to them, and here’s what I formulated: Santo’s work is rarely representational but often mimetic (having a referent), while some of his work, such as the gradient paintings, aren’t mimetic. They are about perceptual experiences. What these divergent works shared is open-endedness, a need to be interpreted or looked at, which seemed to suggest generosity or consideration of the viewer.

Santo spoke beautifully about his concern for the viewer. He explained that he (I’m paraphrasing)

envisions his work operating cinematically, because as viewers, we are moving cameras.

I love this idea, because I think a lot about how the aesthetic experience unfolds over time, and how looking is a process that at times is simultaneous and at times sequential.

He also said something like

how the viewer accesses the work is part of the works’ poetics.

That’s a fantastic and fascinating choice of words. I am excited to continue to consider the idea of poetics in terms of art, mulling over theories of how things take an effect on viewers, in Santo’s art, and my own.

A few more insights I learned tonight are below. If you already like Santo’s work, you can skip this paragraph. The following info will not better equip you in your encounter with the work, as you already have what you need. Read on, however, if you’ve yet to be won over.

While I don’t want to conflate the artist with the art for oeuvres like this, more facts about Santo help contextualize his work. First, he has a background in photography, which he discussed during the Q&A when someone asked about the tension between the Platonic ideal and the found. (This is an uncommon case where the Platonic ideal is actually relevant, as so many of Santo’s work are in such a state of material perfection that they seem otherworldly.) Santo explained that perhaps his photo background relates to his interest in reducing images, simplifying forms, and seeing light. Another audience member’s question prompted Santo to discuss his interest in architecture, which formed the support and informed the content of his wall paintings. But for his objects, too, I can see a rigorous, almost severe formalism that seems related to architecture, or what we mean when we describe something as “architectural.”

Playground, Santo’s project for the Public Art Fund, is on view through February 16, 2014 in Central Park.

A few of Santo’s works will also be on view in a group show at Sean Kelly gallery that opens Friday.

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Artists

Notes on Things, from Manchester UK

The Living Room, Lee Mingwei’s show at the Chinese Arts Centre (through July 27) sounds fascinating.

The NYC-based artist arranged a vibrantly wallpapered space for local collectors to use for display and discussion of objects. It seems that they’ve found quite an interesting and diverse range of hosts to participate.

You can learn more on the TheLivingRoomProject.co.uk. The questions posed,

“Why do we collect?”

and

“What do our collections say about us?”

however, seem harder to grasp via the site; perhaps it is more discernible for those who attend the events in person.

On the site, there’s a video of an audio recording of Lee’s artist’s talk—an overview of past projects. As an audio recording, there aren’t any images, but I found it worthwhile because of the open-ended, conceptual and participatory nature of his work does not demand images as much as more formal artworks would. The audio-video shed light on his practice overall, but I wanted to hear more about the above two questions. The researcher in me wants to inquire about the projects’ outcomes, and the artist in me shudders at the thought.

More things examined in Manchester and viewable at:
PrizedPossessions.co.uk

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Artists

Amalia Pica

In my post-work, just-about-closing-time dash through The Ungovernables at the New Museum, I enjoyed Amalia Pica’s works. Looking deeper at the Argentinean artist’s ouvre, there’s still more that resonates with me and my practice—interests in celebration, simple forms, and the futility of language.

At Ungovernables:

Installation view of the Ungovernables at the New Museum, NY. Foreground/left: Amalia Pica, Venn diagrams (under the spotlight). 2011 Installation with spotlights, motion sensors and text. // Source: NewMuseum.org.

Installation view of the Ungovernables at the New Museum, NY. Foreground/left: Amalia Pica, Venn diagrams (under the spotlight). 2011 Installation with spotlights, motion sensors and text. // Source: NewMuseum.org.

Amalia Pica, Venn diagrams (under the spotlight). 2011 Installation with spotlights, motion sensors and text. // Source: rolu.terapad.com.

Amalia Pica, Venn diagrams (under the spotlight). 2011 Installation with spotlights, motion sensors and text. // Source: rolu.terapad.com.

Amalia Pica, Eavesdropping (Version #2, large), 2011, found drinking glasses, glue. Collection of James Keith Brown and Eric Deifenbach, New York. // Source: Flavorwire.com.

Amalia Pica, Eavesdropping (Version #2, large), 2011, found drinking glasses, glue. Collection of James Keith Brown and Eric Deifenbach, New York. // Source: Flavorwire.com.

More projects:

Amalia Pica, Strangers, 2008. Tableau vivant performed by two actors that never met before, holding a string of bunting for hours at time. Source: Artlicks.com.

Amalia Pica, Strangers, 2008. Tableau vivant performed by two actors that never met before, holding a string of bunting for hours at time. Source: Artlicks.com.

I love Strangers. What a brilliant project. I often think about how a work of art mediates relationships, and this project is a fantastic staging of such physical presence yet mediated distancing.

Amalia Pica’s forthcoming exhibition at Chisenhale (London)

elaborates upon Pica’s ongoing interest in the social act of listening, sites of celebration and technologies of mass communication.

(via Artlicks)
Amalia Pica, Strangers, 2008. Tableau vivant performed by two actors that never met before, holding a string of bunting for hours at time. // Source: Universes-in-universes.org.

Amalia Pica, Strangers, 2008. Tableau vivant performed by two actors that never met before, holding a string of bunting for hours at time. (Foreground. Christopher Wool paintings in background.) // Photo: Haupt & Binder // Source: Universes-in-universes.org.

Unsurprisingly, Marc Foxx Gallery in Los Angeles represents Pica. I’ve followed this gallery for years thanks to Foxx’s tastes in subtle, conceptual work.

Amalia Pica, Some of that Colour #4, 2011. Paper flags, drained paper flag dye on watercolor paper, chair. 78 x 155 x 60.5 inches. // Source: MarcFoxx.com.

Amalia Pica, Some of that Colour #4, 2011. Paper flags, drained paper flag dye on watercolor paper, chair. 78 x 155 x 60.5 inches. // Source: MarcFoxx.com.

Amalia Pica, Spinning Trajectories - #1, 2009. Felt pen spinning top on graph paper. Individual works, various sizes. // Source: MarcFoxx.com.

Amalia Pica, Spinning Trajectories – #1, 2009. Felt pen spinning top on graph paper. Individual works, various sizes. // Source: MarcFoxx.com.

Amalia Pica, Spinning Trajectories - #4, 2009. Felt pen spinning top on graph paper. Individual works, various sizes. // Source: MarcFoxx.com.

Amalia Pica, Spinning Trajectories – #4, 2009. Felt pen spinning top on graph paper. Individual works, various sizes. // Source: MarcFoxx.com.

I love the simplicity of these gestures—a variant of a similar impulse behind Ceal Floyer’s Ink on Paper series.

Amalia Pica, Under the spotlight (white on white), 2011. Installation with spotlight, motion sensor, paper and paint. Source: MarcFoxx.com.

Amalia Pica, Under the spotlight (white on white), 2011. Installation with spotlight, motion sensor, paper and paint. Source: MarcFoxx.com.

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Artists, Meta-Practice

From the Economist: Top 10 most expensive post-war artists

The Economist’s blog post (“The Price of Being Female,” May 20, 2012) reveals the most expensive works of art sold. It compares the  top 10 works by male artists against the 10 top works by female artists. The differences are astounding. They created a table that’s data-rich; I wanted to see it visualized a bit more.

Each $ represents $1M.

10 Most Expensive Works by Female Artists:

$$$ Lee Krasner

$$$ Cindy Sherman

$$$$ Agnes Martin

$$$$ Eva Hesse

$$$$$ Yayoi Kusama

$$$$$$ Marlene Dumas

$$$$$$ Cady Noland

$$$$$$$$$ Joan Mitchell

$$$$$$$$$$ Louise Bourgeois

10 Most Expensive Works by Male Artists:

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Jeff Koons

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Willem de Kooning

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Jasper Johns

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Lucien Freud

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Yves Klein

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Roy Lichtenstein

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$ Clyfford Still

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Andy Warhol

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Francis Bacon

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Mark Rothko

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Artists

Life Models: Isabel and Rubén Toledo

For some, a charmed existence is a farmhouse in a rolling pastoral with kids. For others, it may be an airy, industrial live-work loft on Broadway in Manhattan for a creative husband-and-wife (or better put, wife-and-husband) team. The latter is Isabel and Rubén Toledo’s life. They have four floors; one is Rubén’s painting studio, and the other three are for Isabel’s fashion design studio and production. More importantly, they collaborate and they’re passionately in love, gently finishing each others’ sentences on a recent episode of Studio 360.* This is the kind of love story that makes my heart ache.

I’ve had quite a few conversations with other female artists about how to balance life and work, especially when that work is a creative passion without any guarantee of remuneration. I’ve even found myself co-miserating that romantic love and artistic passion might be incompatible. But two people grow and change, and while you can’t always pedal at the same speed in the same direction, we have to be grateful for the times we catch up and cruise alongside our mates. The Toledos’ story is an immigrant success story, an American fashion legend, a tale of love. If you’re not familiar with it, peep this 2008 profile in the New Yorker:

She does the cooking in a tiny alcove, and he brews the Cuban coffee. They have Sunday brunch together, lingering over it for hours, and at night, if they don’t feel like going out, Ruben said, “we put some cha-cha or rumba music on and boogie around by ourselves. We’re both great dancers.”

Adorable.

*I know, two posts in a row inspired by public radio. Take heart—heavy podcast usage, for me, indicates intensive studio production.  I also loved this quote from Rubén Toledo on Studio 360:

We’re not buyers and sellers, we’re makers.

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