Monday, December 21, 2009

dannon lids?: contemporary art for skeptics

so, have you ever been to a gallery or museum and thought, why is that/that object (maybe one or a display of a grouping of commercially "ready-made" objects) art? who said that's art and why are they saying that? or, you may have felt that what's being presented as "art" lacks any demonstrable technical virtuosity or talent. the "i could have done that" phenomena (i got that in a forest of two by fours at the whitney biennial a couple of years ago). for many folks outside the contemporary scene, myself included, our most common idea or experience of visual art is of objects that stand alone, standing in for, or and representing the artist. we may expect to have our experience, or may enjoy the sensation of being, in the presence of the object (i also like to touch and hug sculpture, but that's another personal issue). we may also want the object to be beautiful, understand it to reflect an ideal or standard of beauty, recognize it as a symbol, react emotionally or intellectually to it, or it may just match the couch (in a good way). to start to get my head around conceptual and contemporary art (of the it's the idea not the object sort), i've just read seven days in the art world by sarah thorton and art's prospect: a challenge of tradition in an age of celebrity by roger kimball. ms. thorton's book is a fun insiderish tour of the clannish contemporary art world from cradle (art school) to grave (auction house). i got the most insight from the chapter on a graduate school seminar at calarts which shows you how artists are being taught how to think and think about the use of technique and object-making. she a wonderful writer who makes you feel like you're right there at an auction, art school, art fairs, etc. roger kimball is a "conservative" academic and social critic; his book looks at contemporary art institutions and some of what passes for art these days (much of which, in his view, is too infatuated with theory (over intellectualized?) at the expense of aesthetic appreciation and a more traditional view of the ennobling power of art. i loved this book too; it's pretty intellectually rigorous (as is his writing in general).

if you're not up for a book, there are plenty of book reviews and articles that highlight the debate and discussion addressed in the books, including: agony and ecstasy: the art world explained by barry schwabsky and the end of art by roger kimball. here's my takeaway (and pet peeve), artists are not just makers of art objects. visual artists, at best, are philosophers, documentarians, or social commentators and critics who use visual media to express their views, ideas, experiences, and criticism of the world in all its aspects. these things may may be visually expressed/represented by an object or not. my pet peeve (and perhaps it's because i love objects, especially paintings by ingres, david and vermeer), if you're going into the idea business, i expect you to be able to articulate and defend your work (take a page from mr. kimball, please). i may not agree, but if there is a concept or idea worth getting on the table (or wall), let me hear it. if you have a different view, let me know too; i love a good debate.

in the phoenix area for the holidays and hungry for soul food? check out mrs white's golden rule cafe or lo-lo's chicken and waffles. ok, i haven't been in phoenix for years and am a total late adopter of any technology, but with the piles and piles of snow in nyc this weekend, i poked around on itunes and discovered free podcasts--from blogs and public radio, etc. i'm now obsessed with the splendid table (where these restaurants were mentioned) and i'm trying out 3 wine guys and there's plenty more on politics, health, art, and another favorite--football. now i can watch football (sound off) while listening to public radio while looking at magazines and searching the world wide web and drinking tea (just discovered the delicious organic, japanese green tea with matcha and roasted brown rice, genmaicha matcha-iri . it has a mellow, round (really!) flavour that's less astringent and tannic than plain green tea or matcha so it's great without food. green tea is great with food, but too much for me on it's own.)

do the grey days of winter make you long for a little color? check out the top name in the color business, pantone, with a standardized color matching system so different folks (and in ny this is the way artists and design folks talk about color) refer to the pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another. fun stuff they do are color forecasts: color of the year 2010, turquoise and fashion forecasts from nyc's fashion week, like the fashion color report for spring 2010. looking for a gift for someone in or aspiring to be in fashion, design or arts, look at the fun pantone-inspired accessories: a pantoneapp for iphones for color on the go, iphone/ipod covers, cool color block mugs and espresso cups , cufflinks, typhoon peppermills and a fun "colorstrology" (about me: september, generally: color: baja blue 18-3946; divine, discerning, artistic; for the 24th, cornflower blue 16-4031: "love is very important to you as is the need to connect with others. you are highly romantic and function best when you are in a healthy relationship. although you can be emotional, you have a keen mind and a sharp wit. harmony and a happy home and family hold great comfort for you. your personal color resonates with clarity.")

peace out, flatsie


1 comment:

  1. Flatsie,
    You offer such a breath of fresh air it is so fun to read your writing! Out of all the fluff out there, it's nice to see a thinking woman blogging. The nerd stuff is just a guise for a bright cultured writer who knows how to enjoy life..Keep writing!
    Adriana Hill