Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mind Map of Artists/Movements since 1935, draft 1

Definition of Postmodernism

The term Postmoderism came into general speech in the 1970’s. It has been defined by critic Howard Risatti as a movement that “insisted on the impure, on the mixing and matching of...qualities as well as forms, styles and materials.”(1) The development of Postmodernism can be seen as a backlash against the subjectivity, purity, and detachment of Modernism. With the rising social discontent caused by the Vietnam war and the cultural revolution spurred on by multiple human rights movments, Modernism's perceived detachment from the cultural turmoil taking place left artists feeling dissatisfied. Postmodern artists lost some of the supreme idealism of their Modernist brethren, and as a result work produced during the mid 70's and onwards was generally more narrative, concerned with contemporary events and distinctly political in its scope. In this same vein, a key defining point of Postmodernism has been the overt criticism of any accepted social doctrine. The Guerilla Girls provide salient examples of this type of narrative criticism.

Postmodernism followed in the footsteps of the dadaists and Duchamp; postmodern artists were concerned with creating a more cross-disciplinary approach to making, which resulted in a movement that was more democratic in its scope. Unlike Modernism, Postmodernists did not seek to create a universal style, or try to find a visual language that spoke for everyone. Instead, they embraced their cultural and historical limitations, using these situational certainties to attack such loaded political subjects as sexual orientation, gender discrimination, racial tensions and American foreign policy. This resulted in a proliferations of different genres of Postmodernist art work such as Feminist Art, Body Art, and Land Art. There is some debate regarding whether we have left the era of Postmodernism; this is certainly a possibility, yet it begets the question that if we have in fact left Postmodernism behind, what doctrine do we now follow?

1. Howard Risatti, “Metaphysical Implications of Function, Material, and Technique in Craft”. 33

Some Postmodern Artists

Carolee Schneemann

Guerilla Girls

Phillip Taaffe

Eduardo Kac

Ana Mendietta


Yoko Ono

Tom Friedman

Waafa Bilal

Climbing Poetree

Some Postmodern Critics/Art Historians

Linda Nochlin

Griselda Pollock

Jorge Luis Borges

Hélène Cixous

Umberto Eco

Dave Hickey
Michel Foucault

Howard Risatti

Edward Said

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Art Movemernt of the mid 1990's to 2010s : Community Reclamation Projects

The increased emphasis on communication technology as well as an increasing awareness of the finite nature of our natural resources seem to present themselves as some of the most significant changes in our collective cultural consciousness within the last decade. The rise of the Slow Movement in Britain and the subsequent growth of the DIY (do -it-yourself) movements, while drawing from the historical precedent of the Arts and Crafts movement and the political content of the Postmodern period, are unique to the last decade in their current form. Growing dissatisfaction with the sterility of the public environment has caused many artists to take on public art projects in order to reclaim public space. Graffiti, site specific sculpture, public art and DIY all fall under the scope of the larger movement I will call Community Reclamation Projects.

Traditional crafting techniques such as knitting, crocheting, needlepoint and sewing are some common techniques employed by this movement. Reasons for the use of these processes include the democratic nature of crafting; it is relatively easy to learn, requires few materials, and are processes that are well known in the larger community. Crafting also lends itself to the production of politically charged statements due to its association with the domestic; the perfect embodiment of the phrase, “the personal is political,” a phrase which first appeared in an article by Carol Hanisch in 1969.

Community Reclaimation Projects have become a way to domesticate public space and change the way people interact with the industrial. To see the possibilities of such a project, let us look at “Pink”, a piece conceived by artist Marianne Jorgensen. This work is the collaboration of hundreds people from around the world who volunteered to knit over 400 pink squares that were then stitched together into a tank cozy and draped over a retired WWI tank. Comical and cute, this piece is anything but sobering. Yet its arrival during a time of international conflict, with the Danes helping the American invasion of Iraq sets it in a different light. It becomes a disapproving eye over Danish foreign policy and a call for peace. The visual effect of seeing a tank covered with pink knitted squares is quite appealing; here we see the domestic dominating the industrial; a relatively simple way of changing the environment by covering it with a strikingly different material. This is also an example of the contemporary shift of artists away from the studio and into the community. In CRPs especially, we see artists transcending their identity as individual makers and instead embracing the role of community leader, or simply community member. This role of community leader shifts the focus of the project from making work to simply facilitating interpersonal connections.

Some Examples of Community Reclamation Projects:

Marianne Jorgensen
Pink Tank

The Aids Quilt
1987- Ongoing

Lindsay Obermeyer
Attachment Project

Lindsay Obermeyer
The Red Thread Project

Cat Mazza
Nike Petition

Barb Hunt

Artists Associated with Community Reclamation Projects
Cat Mazza
Marianne Jorgensen
Lindsay Obermeyer
International Fiber Collaborative
Sabrina Gschwandtner

Critics Associated with Community Reclamation Projects
Glenn Adamson
Bruce Metcalf
Sabrina Gschwandtner
Betsy Greer

Definition of Modernism

A response to the questions,

"When did it begin? How did it begin? When did it end? What are the main principles associated with the Modern art Movement? Who are the main artists/critics associated with it and what is the aesthetic character of Modern Art?"

Although the date of Modernism's birth is contested by art historians, a significant majority name 1863, the year that Manet's Olympia shocked the western world, as the year in which modernism began. The dramatic schism that Manet unwittingly widened with his seminal work can be best understood by comparing it to the piece to which it was meant to pay homage, namely Titian's Venus of Urbino, painted c.1538.

Unlike the coquettish, idealized young woman in Titian's painting, who clearly came from a wealthy background and whose future lay in marriage and child rearing, Manet's rendition of the scene presents a calculating realism. The woman portrayed is no innocent youth; she stares at the spectator with confrontational directness. She is a prostitute, and all romantic notions of femininity so firmly upheld by millenia of artistic tradition are utterly denied in Manet's expertly painted work.

This eschewal of artistic tradition represents the most salient value of Modernism. Modernists tore themselves from historical precedent more firmly than any movement in history, and what followed was a vast proliferation of sub-movements and an increasing trend towards abstraction. The breadth of work being produced during the early decades of Modernism spoke to the subjectivity that became commonplace; unlike the strict boundaries and categories of the Academy, Modernism accepted all work that dared to show the unique vision of the artist. It pioneered the New and cast away the old, and with this credo in hand, artists began to use materials that had never before been considered. Duchamp began exhibiting readymades, Pollock used house paint and Eva Hesse began working with industrial plastics. This democratization of art paved the way for postmodernism, a movement that embraced an inter-disciplinary approach to creating, and that aknowledged the historical and cultural significance from which it sprouted. By the mid-1970s it was widely believed that the Postmodern period had begun.

Modernist Art Ciritics
Charles Baudelaire (poet and critic who supported Manet during the Olympia scandal)
Clement Greenburg (critic)
John Ruskin (critic staunchly opposed to modernism)
Roger Fry (Engligh pre WWI critic, championed post impressionism)
Clive Bell (Engligh pre WWII critic, championed formalism)
Apoillinaire (poet and critic who supported cubism)
Harold Rosenburg (advocated for de Kooning)

Modernist Artists:
de Kooning

Post about Posts

List of all the 'Posts' I can think of....

to be continued

Examples of Five Modern Artists:

Willem de Kooning

I saw this piece at the Art Institute of Chicago. I'm generally not very interested in Abstract Expressionist Art, but nevertheless I stayed with this one a while to try and understand it a bit more. Once I got up close, I was amazed by the variations in the surface-- paint had been layered and scraped away, layered and scraped away, in what seemed a very deep and intentional texturing of the surface. I would love to see this again.

Jackson Pollock
Lavender Mist

I confess that while I enjoy Pollock's work, I am much more moved by his process, and by the photographs of him at work-- squatting over the unstretched canvas, cans of paint at his side and a lit cigarette between his lips.

Lucio Fontana
Spatial Concept 'Waiting'

I saw this piece at the Tate Modern when I was 16 and it completely blew my mind. The complete destruction of the picture plane and the mysterious void that lays beyond continues to dazzle me-- that such as basic, simple movement could have such resounding implications. This remains one of my favorite works of art.

Alexander Calder
Red Disc

I love the whimsical quality of Calder's work. The elegance and liveliness of the way this piece balances on one point makes it seem almost alive.

Barnett Newman
Stations of the Cross : Third Station

I was just introduced to this artist in the past week by a professor. I find the Stations of the Cross series very moving. I love that his visual vocabulary is so basic, but within his simple application of vertical lines, he is able to convey such a large range of emotion.

Sunday, January 24, 2010