Thursday, December 30, 2010

The List, Installment 6: Assemblage

Today's installment is gonna get ugly. Visceral, disgusting, ephemeral--I'm talking entropy. I'm talking shit that pushes the boundaries of what constitutes Art. I'll start with someone familiar

Robert Rauschenberg:

Bed, 1955

Charlene, 1954

Monogram. 1955-9

Canyon, 1959

Rauschenberg wasn't afraid to get messy. His combines incorporated found objects, including underwear, bedsheets, and taxidermy animals, giving the paint a bodily, sometimes scatological feel. And this was the 50s, mind you

Bruce Conner:
Couch, 1963

Looking Glass, 1964

Child, 1959-60

Creepy right? Conner favors nylon stockings, costume jewelry and fur in his pieces. Dark, twisted, disturbing, violent. Check, check, check, check. But look at how the fetishized materials communicate content.

Edward Kienholz:
Roxys, 1961

The Hoerengracht, 1983-88

The Beanery, 1965

The State Hospital, 1966

Back Seat Dodge '38, 1964

Kienholz made tableaux depicting macabre representations of bars, brothels, the seedy underpinnings of daily existence. These pieces are unavoidable attacks that expose society's twisted secrets. Plus, resin just makes everything disturbing.

Paul Thek:

Fishman in Excelcis Table, 1971-2

Peter Hujar, Thek Studio Shoot Face of the Tomb Effigy 6, 1967

Untitiled (Hand with Ring), 1967

Meat Sculpture with Butterflies, 1966

Untitled, 1966

I recently saw the Paul Thek show at the Whitney (which is up until Jan 9th, so go see it if you haven't). His meat sculptures are some of the most delightfully revolting things I've ever seen in person. They're made of resin, beads, human hair, among other things, and are encased in plexi boxes. A couple even had big ol' plastic flies accompanying the festering "flesh". They're nauseatingly convincing. In a good way. Thek also made full body casts which he used to create alter egos for himself including the Dead Hippie and Fishman. I stood under the Fishman piece, mentally willing one of the flimsier bits of laytex to fall on me. The curatorial intern said it would have been highly possible.

Wow, there's a lot of testosterone in this post...Next post I'll have to call out Carolee Schneemann to represent...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Artistic Anarchy?

Who wants to join me for another late night/early morning thought process?

Great. So here's what's swirling around in my head:

I've been thinking about how works of art can engage people (you know this already). But I had an idea: what if the Artwork (as in the physical object) is not the complete Work of Art. Bear with me here. The painting, rather than being the whole shebang of the Art being presented could instead function as the stimulus for a larger experience that encompasses the Art being presented. Here's a specific example that's been marinating for a while:

What if you encountered an enormous canvas covered in tactile layers of paint, and you were actually allowed to touch it?? Yeah, think about that...Rather than the Painting being the Art Object that you're supposed to contemplate and revere, your interaction with that object becomes something more--an Art Experience. Think about the implications of this process--as people touch the surface of the painting, they will slowly change its presentation by eroding away at the layers. And the most tactile spots, the places that people feel most compelled to touch, will wear away the fastest. The painting will eventually wear away completely and die, but everyone who had the chance to touch it will carry that experience with them for the rest of their life! The painting, in this way, sort of becomes human (in that it dies and lives on through the memories of others).

Or, what if you could be inside a painting, or at least have the sense that you were. This is a really new idea, so I haven't come up with more details as far as the execution (something about building layers that you could pass through visually or physically), but these are the sorts of concepts I'm kicking around.

Anyway, the most important part of these ideas for me is the concept of the painting as a stimulus rather than an end product. There is a whole discourse surrounding work that functions as a void upon which the viewer can project an idea (I'm thinking of Rauschenberg's white paintings, or even Lygia Clark's Arquitecturas Biol√≥gicas, which she deemed "completely void of meaning and with no possibility of regaining life except by human support”). But I'm not even talking about the void here. I'm talking about work that functions as the impetus for a larger experience that becomes the Work of Art (maybe a better example would be Edward Keinholz' The Beanery, but even that piece had a clearly defined divide between viewer and object). The point is, I'd rather create objects that incite lasting experiences with the proviso that they won't last forever than create pristine fetish objects that incite nothing but the same tired old viewing processes for centuries. I feel like breaking down the barriers of acceptable behavior is paramount to making something that will last in a real way that isn't just about a surface, image, or object. The potential for interaction--that's the key difference.

I guess we'll see how my upcoming paintings manifest given all of this...I'm definitely gonna try to make the Touchable Paintings, at the very least.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Books!

The semester is officially over and I'm back in PA again for the holidays. Before I left, I built and gessoed two 8x5' canvases, and there's a third in the works. I've got big plans for them...

But my last big project was to make two books, one from a series of small monoprints from earlier on in the year, and one of larger monoprints with collaged paper cuts. I'm pretty excited about them, so I'll share the results here!

I collaged tissue paper for the covers. Colorful, no?

For the small book, I essentially organized the pages in a progression of how the images evolved as I printed them:
(Front cover)

Can you see the shimmer?

(Back cover)

The large book is arranged more associatively:

(Front cover)

(Inside front cover)

(Sometimes the back of the preceding pages had a particularly dynamic bleed)

(A pretty stellar example of a dynamic bleed)

(Back inside cover pages)

(Back cover)

So that's all. I've got some ideas in the works for new paintings and collages to kick off next semester, but until then I probably won't have any new work to post. There might be a couple more List installments in the meantime...