Letters Volume 33 no 2 November / December 2018
Is There Anybody there?
I really enjoyed your review of Francisco Toledo.
Why do you think that Washington has a “largely insensitive and lax art community”? Wasn’t it just perhaps that American University was the wrong venue for showing his work and that possibly there wasn’t enough publicity to make people aware of his exhibit?
(Editor: I remember Washington when openings were crowded and there was a pulse in the air. Then Corcoran museum died, which was a tragedy. There is a low pulse in Washington DC now, which is not to say that some artists are lively.)
Does Jacobs Think?
Excellent review! I loved when you wrote, “Which brings us to “the deeper way that artist would compel us to think”. That deeper way wonders where’s the art – if the artist is MIA? We’re compelled to deeply think that this is the art of the salesman, not the art of the artist. There is no art here, only clever marketing; any pretense to art is obviously fake, and that’s a postmodern strategy.” It made me think of an antique furniture showroom with the chairs on display, but of course not for sitting on either, just display.
Though I really enjoyed your well written review, I had a thought and question for you. Is the interest in the art world less focused on what is happening in the mainstream scene such as places like the MOMA and other traditional art spaces, and is it becoming more focused on what is happening at the level of community and less “in the box”? Are we beginning to look at established museums as they really are? Static and hopelessly outdated?
(Publisher: The New Art Examiner, since its inception, was aware of the problems of museums. They do not always show good or original art. Also occasionally community art can be dynamic and original. We do our best to respond to quality art no matter where exhibited, unlike traditional art magazines.)
“In spite of the adulation which came very early in his life, he was constantly dissatisfied with his work.” This is the essential aspect of Picasso’s success, being dissatisfied with his work. Many artists, musicians and writers have high expectations with an unreachable criteria for success. It is what pushes them on and on to improving their work – that is, if they don’t lose it first due to total frustration.
There’s even a giant cactus pool float from New Look, global fashion retailer, which is very similar to the felt cactus wall hanging being offered by the V&A in the above article. No mention though of the connection to Frida Kahlo’s work
(Publisher: The selling of Frida Kahlo look-alikes in the V&A museum was a symbol of the deterioration of museums. Please consult this issue of the New Art Examiner in which Jane Addams Allen way ahead of her time, reviewed the low grade marketing of Van Gogh in the Metropolitan Museum in January 1985 and criticized such commercial practices. Money talks.)
Lets All Hide
It’s what Annie Markovich refers to in her editorial, “Self-made cages or ones imposed by society often are unconsciously absorbed by citizens; they bind human thinking processes to thoughts that constrict creativity. Our society gives us culture miasma, an oppressive atmosphere to pursue transactional rather than relational exchange between each other.”
Is it through Skylling’s grid-like designs that she can relate in her ‘self-contained, self-made world’ of minimalism? Who doesn’t have nostalgia today of a bygone era? Wouldn’t we all rather not “grapple with the complexity of social issues that permeate every waking moment in our hyper real lives”? I can see why you find her work refreshing.
(Reply by Scott Turri:
Thanks for reading and responding to my review, Will. Interesting tie in from Annie’s piece – sometimes being restricted can foster creativity. When we work inside our own constructed, orderly world it provides a sense of control over our lives I suppose. Working within a really small set of parameters can create a meditative experience for the maker and potentially the viewer. Perhaps it is a way to shut out or wall off the outsides world… I guess like the well-manicured, ½ acre lot in the suburbs at least that seems to be the belief.
Falls at the Last
I found Camille Paglia’s Glittering Images a striking book until I read the last chapter, where she totally deluded me. It reflects the ritalin laced culture our children now live in with so many being diagnosed with ADHD, thanks to films and video games like Star Wars. Is this what our culture is all about today? I refuse to accept her opinion on George Lucas and think there is much more to the art world than flashing lights and glittering images here on earth.
So much for Stalin
This beautifully crafted review connected perfectly to what I’m reading in Leonard Shlain’s, Art and Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light:
“Whether for an infant or a society on the verge of change, a new way to think about reality begins with the assimilation of unfamiliar images. . . . Because the erosion of images by words occurs at such an early age, we forget that in order to learn something radically new, we need first to imagine it. “Imagine” literally means to “make an image.” Witness the expression we use when struggling with a new idea: “I can’t picture it,” “Let me make a mental model,” and “I am trying to envision it.” If, as I propose, this function of imagination, so crucial to the development of an infant, is also present in the civilization at large, who then creates the new images that precede abstract ideas and descriptive language? It is the artist. . . . Revolutionary art in all times has served this function of preparing the future.”
There is much more to see than just the artwork in this exhibition on Revolutionary art; it’s a very significant display of the setting of the stage of the coming era and decades following, “preparing the future”.
Open call for Idiots
People find it easier to just use someone else’s work; it takes less effort to steal someone else’s ideas than to be creative and find innovative solutions. There is a shortage of creative people in all fields due to the dumbing down of educational systems in most western countries and also due to a global problem of Internet addiction. Just think how life was thirty years ago when we didn’t have Internet, when we depended largely on television or libraries for our information. Now with so many images bombarding us online, we no longer realize what is fruit of our imagination or what has been implanted in our minds through our searches.
Of course this doesn’t justify using an artist’s work from a competition inappropriately, but it only further goes to show how we are losing the battle of integrity and of honesty, once important values in life.
It would have been helpful had the writer given more specific details on what took place, but evidently it was not possible to do so.
Certainly Farmer’s installation,the Grass and the Banana go for a Walk, does him more justice than what he did in Venice.
(Toronto editor: Thanks Lori for the heads up. I cannot deny that some people call it art, but I see no art in it; in my opinion it’s a collection of objects gathered in a room. Art historian and critic Barbara Rose complains of similar artists whose thinking stops at the idea of putting a found object in a museum. I wrote a review last year of Ydessa Hendeles, an artist who also gathers objects, but whose talent makes a big difference; her work has an almost religious quality that shakes the soul, where Farmer’s strategies illustrate art theory and give us an intellectual moment but no heart.
More news from Poland, as the military can do as it pleases regardless of an area being protected by the EU or not. The prime focus today is not on beauty and nature, nor on art to do its part.
“The US military wants to cut down a large swathe of green woodland in Poland, designated by the EU as a conservation site for rare and endangered species. The cleared area will be used to expand an existing air force base.
The US Army Corps of Engineers procurement documents, obtained by RT Russian, detail the Pentagon’s plans to cut down 38.18 hectares of protected forest in order to build a prepositioned stock and maintenance complex (APS) around the Powidz Air Base in central Poland. All the tree-cutting must be completed by the end of February next year.”