Blogs Centerpoints Art History

Children should be seen

A friend just send me this post from artfagcity, on images of babies in contemporary art – something we’re both interested in, being moms of toddlers ourselves. (I’d say we’re obsessed, but being moms of toddlers leaves scant time for obsessing about anything except the toddlers.) AFC’s Paddy Johnson also includes a link to this […]

//www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk)

Marlene Dumas, Die Babe (from http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk)

A friend just send me this post from artfagcity, on images of babies in contemporary art – something we’re both interested in, being moms of toddlers ourselves. (I’d say we’re obsessed, but being moms of toddlers leaves scant time for obsessing about anything except the toddlers.) AFC’s Paddy Johnson also includes a link to this essay on motherhood and contemporary artists, from The Brooklyn Rail. While reading it, I recalled watching the uptick in strollers on the streets of Williamsburg (Brooklyn) a few years back – but at the time I wasn’t considering that many of those pushing the strollers might be working artists … Then again, isn’t Williamsburg now too expensive for working artists, with or without offspring? Circling back to artfagcity, an artistic comment on both topics.

PS – Margaret, a working artist and mom-of-toddlers and a regular here on the Walker blogs, has a number of thoughtful posts on art and parenthood.

“Spoonbridge and Cherry” artist Coosje van Bruggen, 1942 – 2009

Here at the Walker, as associate registrar Joe King is preparing to restore the brilliant red paint on Spoonbridge’s crowning touch, we received the sad news that one of its co-creators has died. In addition to writing scholarly pieces on artists like John Baldessari and Gerhard Richter, Coosje van Bruggen worked with her husband Claes […]

Here at the Walker, as associate registrar Joe King is preparing to restore the brilliant red paint on Spoonbridge’s crowning touch, we received the sad news that one of its co-creators has died. In addition to writing scholarly pieces on artists like John Baldessari and Gerhard Richter, Coosje van Bruggen worked with her husband Claes Oldenburg on a number of sculptures that basically monumentalized Pop art, a body of work she dubbed “The Large-Scale Projects.”

The outsized objects, which date back to the late 70s, range from a baseball bat in Chicago to binoculars in Venice, California, to a broom and dustpan in Denver; Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985-88), a highlight of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, is special in that it was the duo’s first fountain sculpture. Van Bruggen, who succumbed to breast cancer at her home in Los Angeles over the weekend, is being memorialized by dozens of obituaries online, including Time and the L.A. Times, which has a fine slideshow as well, featuring the work that has become a Minneapolis landmark.

Past-Present-Future: George Brecht, Mark Bradford

George Brecht gestorben È morto George Brecht, genio di Fluxus Fluxus Conceptual Artist George Brecht Dies at Age 82 L’artiste américain George Brecht, un des membres du groupe Fluxus, est mort à Cologne (Allemagne) … … the breadth of publications reporting on the demise of this artist is an indication of how influential – and […]

George Brecht gestorben
È morto George Brecht, genio di Fluxus
Fluxus Conceptual Artist George Brecht Dies at Age 82
L’artiste américain George Brecht, un des membres du groupe Fluxus, est mort à Cologne (Allemagne)

… the breadth of publications reporting on the demise of this artist is an indication of how influential – and appreciated – his art is. Brecht was a key figure in Fluxus, a 60s movement whose art has been a focus of the Walker in its acquisitions, and his work was featured in the museum’s 1993 Fluxus survey. It will also play a prominent role in the upcoming Walker exhibition, The Quick and the Dead, opening in April – that is, to the extent that “prominent” means anything, given that Brecht sought to create “an art verging on the non-existent, dissolving into other dimensions.”

Peter Eleey, The Quick and the Dead’s curator, has selected several of the artist’s “event scores” for placement throughout the exhibition, where they will act in concert as a “larger score.” These are simple instructions for performances or “events” that anyone can enact – or in some cases, they simply happen. There’s Sink, for example, which is “on (or near) a white sink,” and Winter Event, which is simply “snow.” And every Thursday is the performance of Brecht’s Thursday.

While death means the end of Brecht’s career (though you never know, given the morbid preoccupations of many Conceptualists), that of another artist featured at the Walker has been coming into a full flowering. Mark Bradford, a self-described “beauty operator” whose work was included in Brave New Worlds at the Walker in 2007-08, will return to speak here in April (actual date to be confirmed – check back for details).


In the meantime, his Ark – built from the shell of a destroyed house and assorted flotsam from Hurricane Katrina – has become perhaps the emblematic piece at the sprawling Prospect.1 New Orleans biennial. (The image here comes from the exhibition’s homepage.) In his review, the New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl declared it perhaps the single artwork most liked by the locals. Prospect.1 is on view through January 18 should you have plans to be in New Orleans (warmth-seeking Minnesotans, take note!).

(Credits for Brecht’s Void Stone : Arp Museum Bahn hof Rolandseck. Photo: Warburg. Via Artdaily.com.)

Would Beuys have auditioned for “American Idol”?

Or the Idol counterpart in his home country, Deutschland sucht den Superstar? (Love that title!) The shaman/sham/most brilliant artist of all time (to paraphrase an Art News profile from 1980), did take risks with his “aktions,” most famously in cohabitating with a coyote in a gallery (see documentation in Walker exhibition) – but I just […]

Beuys goes "Bananas"

Beuys goes "Bananas"

Or the Idol counterpart in his home country, Deutschland sucht den Superstar? (Love that title!) The shaman/sham/most brilliant artist of all time (to paraphrase an Art News profile from 1980), did take risks with his “aktions,” most famously in cohabitating with a coyote in a gallery (see documentation in Walker exhibition) – but I just learned that he also made a go of it as a pop singer. Artforum.com (via YouTube) has a video of Beuys making himself vulnerable before mainstream TV viewers, performing a protest song called “Sonne Statt Reagan” in 1982 on the German show Bananas, which also hosted acts like Depeche Mode. Artforum’s video section has a lot of other good stuff, including David Byrne talking with Jeff Koons – in 1975, Matthew Barney’s 2003 Regis Dialogue at the Walker, and an interview with Mary Heilmann in which the artist talks about “keeping the bourgeoisie happy,” among other things.

Turner Prize ‘08: “Be The First To See What You See As You See It”

The Guardian has an excellent slideshow of work from the four shortlisted artists, as well as a video, taken from a group exhibition that has just gone on view at the Tate Britain. The British newspaper opines that year’s quartet is “the most obscure shortlist in the history of the prize,”established in 1984 by the […]

The Guardian has an excellent slideshow of work from the four shortlisted artists, as well as a video, taken from a group exhibition that has just gone on view at the Tate Britain.

The British newspaper opines that year’s quartet is “the most obscure shortlist in the history of the prize,”established in 1984 by the Tate Britain. If that’s so, perhaps rather than merely affirming talent, the museum is trying to gain credibility as one who makes it – not unlike one notable British innovation that spawned a phenomenally successful American franchise.

The four artists are Goshka Macuga, Cathy Wilkes, Mark Leckey, and Runa Islam (one of whose works’ title was recycled as the title for this post), and the Guardian includes brief bios as part of its extensive coverage of the prize, which is taken very seriously in the UK, with bookies getting in on the action (apparently, the lone male of the group is currently favored).

Looking back at a list of previous winners and nominees, it does seem that many Turner artists were better known when they won the Prize (and many have work that’s in the Walker’s collection or has been seen in its galleries: Gilbert and George, Derek Jarman (subject of a special tribute during our Expanding the Frame cinema series in January/February – keep an eye on our Film/Video page for details), Yinka Shonibare, Tony Cragg, Rachel Whiteread, Christ Ofili, etc.)

However, it’s also worth noting that this year’s shortlist artists are not so obscure as to be confined by the boundaries of the UK. Islam, Leckey, Wilkes, and Macuga have each had shows Stateside, if that means anything in a now-thoroughly-globalized art world.

The 2008 Turner winner will be announced December 1, and it’s tempting to wonder if viewer input from the Tate exhibition has any bearing on this decision. In any case, we should probably write a whole other blog post on on the American counterpart to the Turner Prize and speculate on why it doesn’t garner nearly the attention – its 2008 winner was announced last week.

“I wanted a Titian and all I got was a lump of lard”

What happens when an art lover tiles his bathroom? You may have seen work by graphic designer Christoph Niemann in Wired magazine, the New York Times, or the New Yorker (he’s done a number of covers for that last publication). Like most illustrators, he’s developed a range of styles, one of which involves rendering images […]

What happens when an art lover tiles his bathroom?

You may have seen work by graphic designer Christoph Niemann in Wired magazine, the New York Times, or the New Yorker (he’s done a number of covers for that last publication). Like most illustrators, he’s developed a range of styles, one of which involves rendering images in pixel form.

So in designing a bathroom for their home, Niemann and his wife decided it’d be fun to translate a famous piece of art into pixel form, then render that image using colored ceramic tiles. The hard part, as you’ll see from his post on the process, was deciding which artwork to use (after all, it’s not like they could just take down this “art” if they got tired of it).

Turns out they considered works by a host of artists – Richter, Indiana, Hockney, Rothko, and others – who’ve shown at the Walker, and/or who have works in our permanent collection. The winning work for their shower tiles was this Pop classic from the collection, on view in The Shape of Time through November 16.

For the tub, they translated a more esoteric work, Corner of Fat, by another Walker favorite, Joseph Beuys (his works are also on view in the Friedman Gallery through next summer). Niemann thought it was a “terrifyingly perfect” idea to do a bathroom-tile version of this work, which originally involved several pounds of butter; his wife’s reaction, he reports, was the quote used in this post’s headline. Luckily, she came around and agreed. Bathroom tiles are one of those crucial matrimonial decisions.

Biblical Living

The Year of Living Biblically chronicles the time A.J. Jacobs spent adhering to the more than 700 rules contained in the Bible. He strictly upheld the 10 commandments and many more obscure rules (sleeping in a hut on certain holidays, eating crickets). What caught my eye though, was the photo progression of his hair growth […]

Biblical living

The Year of Living Biblically chronicles the time A.J. Jacobs spent adhering to the more than 700 rules contained in the Bible. He strictly upheld the 10 commandments and many more obscure rules (sleeping in a hut on certain holidays, eating crickets).

What caught my eye though, was the photo progression of his hair growth (thou shalt not cut side hair, in case you needed an explanation). It reminded me of a very different version of the Eleanor Antin performance Carving: A Traditional Sculpture.

antin.jpg

Barnes Foundation move

As a Philadelphia native, I have been following the fight over the Barnes Foundation for a few years now, mostly with the help of the newspaper clippings my mom mails me. Tyler Green at Modern Art Notes posted a flurry of posts last week about the legal battle that appears to be heating up again […]

Barnes de Chirico portrait

As a Philadelphia native, I have been following the fight over the Barnes Foundation for a few years now, mostly with the help of the newspaper clippings my mom mails me. Tyler Green at Modern Art Notes posted a flurry of posts last week about the legal battle that appears to be heating up again with another move by the Friends of the Barnes Foundation to keep the institution in Merion, PA.

Barnes Foundation

I’ve seen the collection both in its native habitat and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and while I was still wowed by much of the work at PMA, the installation, the building, the location, the gardens, and the ghost of stubborn old Barnes combine to create an artwork much larger than any of its parts.

I’ve been prompted to spend a lot of time thinking about the context of the works in our own museum; as you can see in the image above, Barnes’ installation is jam-packed and those aren’t exactly white walls. Are all white walls created equal, or are there certain places that make or break the artwork? I’ve been trying to brainstorm artworks I’ve seen that I wouldn’t want to see anywhere else.

Another example of Philly pride/stubbornness in the arts: does the effort that halted this move signal hope for Barnes?

Images from http://www.new-york-art.com/e/e-mus-barnes.htm

The 70th Anniversary of “Shock & Awe”

Seventy years ago today, planes from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy made one of history’s more infamous bombing runs — and its first test of the military strategy now known as “shock and awe.” In wave after wave, their low-flying fighters — acting in service of Fascist Gen. Francisco Franco — dropped a cumulative 30 […]

guernica460.jpg

Seventy years ago today, planes from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy made one of history’s more infamous bombing runs — and its first test of the military strategy now known as “shock and awe.” In wave after wave, their low-flying fighters — acting in service of Fascist Gen. Francisco Franco — dropped a cumulative 30 tons of munitions, strafing civilians with machine guns, and setting fire to what remained. By the end of the day, some 2,500 people were dead or injured and three-quarters of the town’s buildings were destroyed, according to the Basque government.

“Guernica, city with 5,000 residents,” wrote the commander of Germany’s Condor Legion in his journal, “has been literally razed to the ground. Bomb craters can be seen in the streets. Simply wonderful.”

The attack, of course, inspired one of Pablo Picasso‘s most celebrated and grisly works, a painting, named after the town, that appeared in the Spanish pavilion at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. As he worked on the 25-foot mural, he reportedly said, “In the panel on which I am working, which I shall call Guernica, and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death.”

But beyond inspiring one of the world’s most famous pieces of art, the bombing of Guernica sparked a new focus on peace in the town. The Gernika Peace Museum, which was created in part to investigate and present the truth of the attacks (they were first attributed by German soldiers to “the Reds”), is now seen as an international leader in conflict resolution and peace studies. Its mission is to remind and inform visitors about the raid 70 years ago, but also to inspire them to reflect on the nature of peace in the world and our struggles with it today.

“I think Guernica is a good example of not forgetting and trying to go further,” said Iratxe Astorkia, the museum’s director.

Today’s anniversary has renewed calls — so far refused — for Picasso’s Guernica to make its first showing in the town that shares its name.

The 70th Anniversary of “Shock & Awe”

Seventy years ago today, planes from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy made one of history’s more infamous bombing runs — and its first test of the military strategy now known as “shock and awe.” In wave after wave, their low-flying fighters — acting in service of Fascist Gen. Francisco Franco — dropped a cumulative 30 […]

guernica460.jpg

Seventy years ago today, planes from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy made one of history’s more infamous bombing runs — and its first test of the military strategy now known as “shock and awe.” In wave after wave, their low-flying fighters — acting in service of Fascist Gen. Francisco Franco — dropped a cumulative 30 tons of munitions, strafing civilians with machine guns, and setting fire to what remained. By the end of the day, some 2,500 people were dead or injured and three-quarters of the town’s buildings were destroyed, according to the Basque government.

“Guernica, city with 5,000 residents,” wrote the commander of Germany’s Condor Legion in his journal, “has been literally razed to the ground. Bomb craters can be seen in the streets. Simply wonderful.”

The attack, of course, inspired one of Pablo Picasso‘s most celebrated and grisly works, a painting, named after the town, that appeared in the Spanish pavilion at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. As he worked on the 25-foot mural, he reportedly said, “In the panel on which I am working, which I shall call Guernica, and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death.”

But beyond inspiring one of the world’s most famous pieces of art, the bombing of Guernica sparked a new focus on peace in the town. The Gernika Peace Museum, which was created in part to investigate and present the truth of the attacks (they were first attributed by German soldiers to “the Reds”), is now seen as an international leader in conflict resolution and peace studies. Its mission is to remind and inform visitors about the raid 70 years ago, but also to inspire them to reflect on the nature of peace in the world and our struggles with it today.

“I think Guernica is a good example of not forgetting and trying to go further,” said Iratxe Astorkia, the museum’s director.

Today’s anniversary has renewed calls — so far refused — for Picasso’s Guernica to make its first showing in the town that shares its name.

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