November 30, 2004

Couch Potato

Gathering thoughts.

Lots of blogposts floated by as I was sealed in the studio. Let this minor post start things off. I might tinker with the painting I recently marathoned on, but it's done.

Sitting here in the living room, television on, fireplace thick with coals, rain is forecast for a week, below five degrees (40-ish?F) outside and 13 (56?F) inside. (It's a crystal clear night, good star gazing.) We got an antenna recently and it's a treat to see television again.

Here's a couple of quick look at the TV experience in Tossa:


Our Channels:

1- TV Espa?a

2- TV Espa?a2

3- TV Catalunya

4- (Spanish TV)

5- Telecinco (Castellano) TV Madrid

6- Catalan

7-Digital Canal Pay channel (we don't get this)

8- Euro Sport

9-TV Tossa (community bulliten board postings and home grown programming)

10- French TV


12-Italian TV

13-German TV


Here is a list of commercials in the interval between the news and a feature on Spain's history in the Americas (amateur production values, like a high school video). They must last twenty seconds each.

The list:

1. Audi car glossy urbane clever sleek

2. Watch fantasy Lotus

3. Auto: Toyota Daris

4. Coming Attractions


6. Auto Insurance

7. Electiric Utility: Endesa

8. Insurance Pension plans

9. Pasta
La Gula del Norte Pasta

10. Endesa Luz y Gas

11. Serrano Ham

12. MIDAS Oil Change

13. Chicken Brtoth

14. Mobile

15. Optical

16. Lottery

17. Soup

18. Internet Connection (Wanadoo)

19. Soup

20. Tampas Kompac

21. Kellog's Cereal

22. Condom Ad from the Government

23. Future of cleaning Wet Vacuum

24. Chocolate

25. Hand Lotion

26. Chicken Broth

27. Travel to Valencia

28. Danon Mousse

29. Flat Screen TV

30. Electric Grill

31. Mobile Camera (Guy gets in trouble, technology always creates a problem)

32. Danon Cholestro reducing drink

33. Orange Juice

34. Danon Chocolate Yogurt Drink

35. Cleaner (Mr. Clean= don Limpio)

36. Movie Preview Coming Attractions

37. Sony Camera

38 Chocolates ("Turron", big here- connotations of the holidays)

39. Pimple Medicine

40. Music program Coming Attraction

41. Some Government ad (undeciferable)

To give them a break, they don't distribute them inside the programming.

Posted by Dennis at 11:16 PM | Comments (2)


Time for sleep.

I'll reboot my left hemisphere when I return.

Posted by Dennis at 8:11 AM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2004



Posted by Dennis at 8:15 PM | Comments (2)



Posted by Dennis at 10:24 AM | Comments (2)

November 26, 2004

not rationing status

For all their blatant materialism, however, Lucky and its kin actually represent cultural progress. Their unabashed presentation of goods as material pleasures keeps materialism in its place. They don't encourage readers to equate fashion with virtue or style with superiority. They're sharing fun, not rationing status.

Posted by Dennis at 3:16 PM | Comments (1)

November 24, 2004

Hat Tip for Tom

Tom Moody made mention of my work in regards to the's "Blogging and the Arts Panel".

Thanks, Tom.

(I'm trying to keep cool for fear of effusing too much.)

One last note:

I became an artist for many reasons, but one of my favorite is savoring the community of fellow artists. The late nights in conversation, before work in progress in the studio or in the corner of an opening... the fellowship of seasoned vets over a beer at a local bar... the early mornings at the coffee shop with books and newspaper articles tucked under the arm... long distance phone calls, letting the time fly... now, this here webby thing.

Posted by Dennis at 8:59 PM | Comments (1)



I've been keeping this image nearby:
I usually don't have the mags out, but this image is one I've been thinking about lately, so it was easy.

Usually, I'll bring up an image from iPhoto onscreen in my laptop. I've been regarding the work in different lighting conditions in the studio: daylight, halogens, flourescents, shadows... and lately, fed through digitals and computers out and back through the internet. A looking glass.

Posted by Dennis at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2004

Blogging and the Arts

Tom Moody will be one of the panelists in this event: to host Blogging and the Arts panel

Public Program:
Blogging and the Arts
Tuesday, November 23, 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

New Museum of Contemporary Art / Chelsea
556 West 22nd Street

*** Director of Technology Francis Hwang will lead a panel discussion entitled Blogging and the Arts. The panel includes artist Kabir Carter, photoblogger and journalist David F. Gallagher, artist and critic Tom Moody, and artist T.Whid. The discussion will address questions such as whether blogs will change the nature of discourse in the fine arts field, and ways that artists and critics are integrating this new form of communications into their own work. ***

It'd be interesting to drop in and see how they treat the subject.

Clicking on Moody's links, I find a list of questions about blogging:

? After having done research on the artblog phenomena for a couple of months now, I?m surprised to find that not many artists use this media. Personally I would find it an ideal space for artistic exhibition, exploration and exchange. Do you have an explanation to this?

Few artists really explore and exchange, most focus on career strategy. (Maybe this is overstated,but right now it sounds about right.) Look at the direction of the inquiry of this blogging conference: "How can we use blogging in the artworld?" That's a bit artificial, isn't it?

I hope it doesn't play out that way at the panel discussion.

? What made you start blogging?

I have a history of trying out protoblogs. In college, I put a book together that resembles a blog in many ways. I titled it "Ruminations". Later and more recently (2000) I pinned up passing thoughts on my studio wall and called it my butterfly collection. I took them down after a time and developed the trains a bit further. Weblogs seemed to be a G-dsend.

? What keeps you blogging?


? Do you perceive your blog primarily as a personal or as a professional project?

More of the latter, but the former leaks in. The boundary is fuzzy.

I like to tell people that work and play are one for me. I'm not sure how much of that is artiface and how much is spot-on true.

? Does your blog affect your work process as an artist?


? Do you know of other artists blogging (besides M.River)?

Not many. The great T. Moody, and links found through his site.

? Do you know of artists reading your blog?

A few. When I was a pup, I remember thinking of the artworld as a vibrant community of curious and talkative people. That's more or less true, most times less true and sometimes more true. Blogging seems to deliver the goods.

? Do you feel part of the blogosphere? I mean do you feel part of a community of (art)bloggers?

The art blogosphere is not yet that developed (as compared to the political blogosphere). The term "community" is premature.

? Have you met any problems being a blogger?

Not much yet (knocking on wood). I imagine the bigger problems have to do with boundaries and to maintain the public/private line.

I keep reminding people that any transparency is an illusion. I try not to serve up depression, anxiety for example. I keep things positve. Data about friends and family are filtered for relevance to the artwork (more or less). Financial stuff doesn't belong in a blog, too many people could get hurt.

A blog for me is a virtual studio visit and as such, it should be conversational, polite, discrete and directed toward the work at hand. Any digression is at the discretion of the host.

I've also referred to the blog as a bibliography, a means of documenting the life of mind that created the artwork.

I am not averse to thinking of blogs as artwork in themselves. In doing so, I would resist the compulsion to market and sell it. (Watch, I'll be wrangling with subscriptions and paypal links in a year! Heh.) I like that anyone can dial in and have their piece of the pie. I have had other spinoff ideas though.

Posted by Dennis at 8:24 AM | Comments (1)

November 21, 2004

Another Progress Report: 11/21

So much has been done since the last jobsite inspection!



Posted by Dennis at 4:33 PM | Comments (2)

Progress Report: 11/21

I've been slack on the neighbor's job site inspections.

I'll play catch up with pics shot over a week ago.

Strap on your hardhat and grab the punchlist and let's drop in:


Posted by Dennis at 1:51 PM | Comments (1)


Tanya Rumpff sent me the magazine and article covering the recent group show.

You can see Pia Fries' work on the cover. Her work is fabulous. I think it is challenging in the (obviously) similar terms in which we are both working and also there are enough differences to give comfortable elbow room.

I tried the onlline translator to decipher the Dutch:


schildert met klodders verf. In verschillende interviews spreeekt hij over zijnzwak voor verf. Ook bij hem is de positionering van de kleuren belangrik. maar in een antal opzichten vershilt zijn werk van dat van Paul Doran. Zijn archtergronden zijn meestal monochroom en op die egale velden druppelt hij ver, laat hij verf vallen, strooit hij met verf, Pollockiaans. Daardoor ontstaan er hoogteverschillen en krijgen de verschillende kleuren hun eigen plaats vinnen het grote geheel. Ze vernengen zich niet, ze spelen met elkaar. Zijn de doeken van Doran dicht gesmeerd Hollingsworth laat ruimtes open zodat er patronen ontstaan, zodat er ruimte is voor po?zie. Bij zijn schilderijen heb ik het gevoel meer interpretatievrijheid te krijgen. Ik kan er mijn eigen inhoud aan geven. Net zoals bij die van Doran voel ik de behoefte ze aan te raken. De materialiteit is neen wezenlijke karakteristiek.

zoalshij het zelf onder woorden brengt.

into this:


paints with klodders painting. In several interview spreeekt he concerning zijnzwak for painting. Also at him the positioning of the colours belangrik is. but is in antal respects vershilt work of that of Paul Doran. To be archtergronden are generally monochroom and on those even fields
he drips far, he lets painting fall, he scatters with painting, Pollockiaans. As a result, ontstaan unevennesses and get the different colours their
own place vinnen there the large whole. Them vernengen itself not, they play with each other. The doeken of Doran have been near lubricated Hollingsworth leave open
spaces so that patterns arise there, so that there is space for po?zie. At its paintings I have to the feeling more get interpretation
freedom. I can give my own contents. Just like that of Doran feels I the need touch them. The materialiteit are no substantial characterisation.

zoalshij bring it itself under words.

Posted by Dennis at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2004

?Cuidado Perros!

I hope you can notice that I try not to serve up all the incident in my life, like weblogs that inform you of what kind of sushi they made or that they are buying a new car.

No, this weblog is of a higher purpose: a bibliography for the paintings. A virtual studio visit.

I had a similar journal in print years ago, one I entitled "Ruminations". This weblog is a digital manifestation of that early effort.

(I nod sagely for effect.)

But where is the boundary between art and life?



Permit me to introduce Mupje and Tippie:

We are watching dogs for our friends, who are traveling to Australia for several weeks. After we thought we reformatted ourselves for a dogless future, here come these two.


My family had daschunds when I was a kid, two of them.

These two like to wrestle.

It will go like this:

Tippy will rear up and challenge M?ppy with a pounce. Perfect in form and execution and timing, her comically big front feet plant the ground with a slam, shoulders hunched, eyes and head in ready attack combat position. A fencer couldn't do better. Then, she snaps lower, front legs splayed. Dramatic pause and menacing snarl. Longness of nose matching shortness of arm.

The M?p charges and Tippy pushes backward to maintain control of lunging distance for a short time before she swings her daschund behind to keep her attacker at bay. Her head goes to the floor and she uses her longness to stab into weak spots in M?ppy's defensive zone at will. M?p has nothing on Tippy in a real fight. But M?p can put up an impressive fascade of domination. He likes to snarl. M?p is vocal. Tippy is on her back at this time, the favored Dashchund repel position.

The snarling is rythmic and it builds up to a fearsome like your old gargling uncle of a "Watch out 'cause I'ma crazy mo' fo'!!!" eyes all buggie and veins a popping kind except that you can't see veins on a dog. He can't go on forever like this so he boots to the crescendo: bolting for furious runs in circles, snarling louder with each turn, eventually charging her after a fearsome windup of white of a furry freaky "I'm-so-crazy, look at me in my crazy nature!".

They both weigh a kilo I'll bet.

Posted by Dennis at 9:00 PM | Comments (0)


Be advised that I am not using a spell check except for a Merriam-Webster Online from time to time. The additional steps required would come at a cost of fluidity, so I chose the latter.

Good clean strokes, the best I can.

Posted by Dennis at 7:47 PM | Comments (0)

Bravo james e. and tommy!

As the number of SPAMBOT droppings in my comment section reaches 15,000, I began to clean them out. Housekeeping. To my surprise, I found an exchange in the comment section, a rich hunk of golden ore gleaming in the mud.

The discussion was about the work of Dana Schutz. james e. had a critique of her work and of the artworld in general.

Commenters james e. and tommy crossed swords and as in a good fencing match, it began with a salute, proceeded with the sting of blades and ended with handshakes. Fantastic.

Here are my favorite parts:

james e.:

I didn't mean for my response to sound like just a rant, but I think the sucess of someone like Schutz is a problem and continues to show the problems with the art world. The art world constantly convinces itself that it is fresh and in the avant-garde when it is far from that anymore.I do like some of Schutz's work because I like painting with bizarre imagery etc.. and I have seen her work since her college days and I definitley think she should be shown, but not at the level she is now at. She is barely out of grad school still and hailed as the greatest thing since sliced bread which is a joke.

I think that there are many artworlds. Such a train of thought helps to alieviate anxiety and provides places for the many competing claims of art to enjoy their own homes. A manifold artworld(s) idea is democratic (I think it's the best way to teach) and it also dethrones what I believe is a fictive singular artworld, the illusion of an elite club of our grad schooled imaginations in which we suffer the anxiety of possibly, probably being denied entry by the bouncer at the door. I've heard that Dave Hickey suffers a negative crit (I may be wrong) in the East Coast (james' and tommy's home I assume), but I like how he (Hickey)regards the marketplace of art in terms of concentric audience rings (my figuration here), wherein the center of the target is the artist as first audience with expanding rings of friends and friends of friends and then the strangers at large. The atmosphere at the outer rings is hype itself.

Better than begrudging the awesome party at the clubs that we can't gain access to. It is far better to have your own party. It may be lonely at the beginning, it may be lonely forever, but at least it's your kind of party.

...If you talk to schutz or listen to her comments, her paintings are more about painting than anything else,...


...while her gallery and critic fans attempt to read into the work all kinds of cultural importance which is simply not there. That is the problem really, painting about painting has been done...

(dusting off the hands) all done! no need to think about that anymore!
EMOTICON: friendly jesting ;-)

...and is not contributing anything new culturally to this world. No one gives a fuck about painting or paintings issues etc.. who isn't in the art world. Can painting really afford to keep making work about itself with very slight references to the world?

So much here. Painting has always been about itself and its' references to the world tambien. As far as what people give a f---- about? The artist is the first audience, remember?

This whole controversy about painting being dead a few years ago, well, with the success of artists like schutz painting in an ahistorical zone of idiosyncratic nostalgia, yeah, painting is dead!

I hope to write more about my views about the "Death of Painting" meme in the next installment of "POP after POP after POP". The short version is that by the end of the eighties, this meme had enjoyed about a twenty year run in art schools in North America. But the roots of it belong with the turn from the hey day of AbEx(NYC-World) to POP(NYC-World), an monumental agenda inversion. My shorthand: "Where once artists tried to touch G-d via material means, now artists try to touch the physical world through conceptual means." And thus ushered in the PostModern era.

From Pop to Minimalism to Conceptualism to Continetal Theory to whatever, the brisk rapids smoothed out into the broad delta (PostModern) art is today. The fruit of this tree is the conceptual (Sol LeWit) and true to the watercourse model, a revolution won't happen until the delta disappears into the sea and the water evaporates into the sky and the clouds darken over the mountains for the inevitable flashflood to come.

I think we are in the cloud formation stage, by the way. And what is my point here? This idea of the new is not only antithetical to the basis of PostModernism, any evolution beyond our seeming Postmodern end of history will not be possible until we begin to critique the entire forty year plus history of PostModernity. We have not done this yet. This "new" (no, I will not discount its existence) my be in our midst, but we won't be able to recognize it without the critique.

(Whew, I got a little operatic there.)

...oh, and if you look at her new show at lfl this month, it illustrates my comments. It looks more like 'her greatest hits' more than a new show of painting.

I hate the idea of art as showbiz. Who calls the tempo of our curiosities, the artist or the audience?

tommy responds:

james is clearly paying more attention to hype than art- notice how his beef with prices, the art world, grad school etc is the basis of his discontent and that his need for something new betrays the unexamined, oppressive and dated values, ie avant garde, he brings to the world of painting.

A hit, a palpable hit!

He goes on to correct the record very effectively in three ways and ends with this:

Also, take it from the other painters- everyone from different camps agrees she's the shit and I've never seen that before.

So many camps, too.

james e. responds:

Tommy, thanks for the comments. Like I said before I have no question that she is good, I just don't think she is as good as everyone seems to justify. I also don't mean when I say 'new' something that has never seen before, just that artists such as schutz are hailed as innovative when (if you really break it down) aren't that innovative at all. I don't think Furnace is innovative or paticularly good either. I don't have a beef with the things you mention, but clearly they are all contributing to the lack of new ideas in painting.

What a gent! He could have flamed on tommy there, but no. He recovers, assesses and corrects. He's open. How rare, unfortunately.

But he's back at it with the "new".

(the name Furnas is corrected, here's a link)


How does one "contribute" to a "lack" of new ideas in anything?
A fat seventies Elvis once said at a Jaycees press conference "there's the man, and then there's the image. I put it this way; It's very hard for a man to live up to his image." If you think innacurate hype is bad for a good artist, and that being characterized as great is jumping the gun, right on. But once again, you pass the buck when it comes to hype

A beautiful golden nugget that was. "Inacurate hype", how incisive. His question: James, do you believe in accurate hype?

james e:

I have to say that I often write before thinking about what I am saying. So you make a lot of good points....

What honesty. How open. Growth, before our eyes.

I do that too, trying to flow.

.... I guess in the end, I was simply saying what you said at the end. Is she great yet? We don't know because yeah, she is still young and for me that is the problem, she (and others) are hailed as great, treated like geniuses before they have barely scratched the surface of a career.

That's not her fault. Being the genius apparent is actually a burden.


I understand your discontent on three levels-

Three levels, I'm ecstatic!

...that art reached a visual impasse (some say with Warhol), beyond which all formal and aesthetic innovations have been recycled several times over;

This is the essence of "Pop after Pop after Pop", and I wonder how much of the rest of the artworld sees this as a problem too.

...that art institutions have largely perpetuated the pastiche of art history under the guise of context shifts;

In the same way newsrooms became profit centers, so too the institutional (museum/school) artworld.

...and that art schools and the managerial class of the artworld have failed to provide adequate solutions or somehow ignored the problem.

I think that relationships form (artist-curator-gallery-collector-critic-museum) for probably legitamate reasons and stay connect for what becomes over time illegitamate reasons. The music is playing and no one wants to get up out of their chairs for the circular dance. No one gives up power voluntarily.

Except Seinfeld.

Catastrophy theory, tipping points and all that.

...Discontent is fine in this situation. But innovation is rarely a clean break with the past- in fact I can't think of a single avante garde movement that didn't overlook or take for granted some dimension of artmaking that has later served as the basis for its own endgame critique.

Thank G-d, for I don't think art would exist otherwise. All arguments involve artiface. It's when the artiface exists for its' own sake, when people begin to believe the gram of B.S. that the knees of the argument falter.

... What I do know is that no one has ever made the mistake of saying- in writing at least- that Schutz represents something never seen before. Innovation, by definition, builds on something.

and then tommy ends with a flourish:

As for the art world, it's not some monolith or a conspiracy of navel gazers. It is a larger, more dysfunctional herd that includes you and your friends, me and mine, Dennis Hollingsworth

Gracias, Se?or.

...and hundreds of other entities. It has its own laissez faire economy, its own rumor mill, no center, and no single direction.

I think it is an anarchic environment.

No rules.


And the schools release wide eyed innocents into this world every Spring, a Wild West populated with fortune seekers, visionaries, adventurers, dead ended natives and predators who feed on the minnows and the others as well.

And just like in the real world, "a rumor can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes." (my new fav Mark Twain quote). All I'm saying is lighten up on the artist for reasons other than the work itself, and don't go searching for someone to blame for the hype- you're in this game of operator too.


I'd like to meet these guys someday. A beer or a coffee when I get to NYC, fellas?

Posted by Dennis at 5:47 PM | Comments (4)

November 18, 2004

been thinking

...about this work on paper done at the beginning of the year.

Posted by Dennis at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)




(inside 12.4, outside 8.9 centigrados)

Posted by Dennis at 9:47 PM | Comments (0)

a few notes


Here are a few notes regarding this recent painting:

The first intention was signaled by the postings, "Sketching" / "Thinking Out Loud"/"Aloud".

On the left of the screen was an image of a work on paper done before we left the States at the beginning of this year. On the right is a recent summer painting, a cropped detail. I thought that I could paint two categorical types, a sketchy rendering of a painting ( a sheet of paint drawn in a painterly manner) and the larger surfaces that will explore the line of investigation implied by the last three paintings of my recent show in Z?rich.

The scrape off was the realization that if I'm steering towards scale and punch, sketches and whitened smooth trowelled surfaces aren't the best way to go. The additional friction that accompanied this was the problem of scaling up something the dimensions of this laptop to the size of arms outstreached. It wasn't working. The beauty I see in the creamy dimension of form plus color comes from a wrist and I was stubbornly looking for the same things from the turn of the shoulder. It didn't work. I would need one of those mechanno suits Sigorney Weaver wore at the end of one of her "Alien" movies. Technological prothesis and all that(shades of Car City). Fifty kilo units of paint applied with robotic arms with roundhouse throws. Gundam action painter!

There was a bed of alizarin crimson that remained after the scrape off.

I did in fact, go to sleep disgusted and awoke with a mental image of how to proceed. It wasn't a complete or clear image, but it was a metal picture of how to continue, a spread of raw sienna against the red background.

Through it all, I sweated two extremes:

-Slap happy unconscious paint scumbling (brushes) that seems too gratuitous to do today (apologetic bows to Joan Mitchell and Monet with his water lillies).

-The state of the frozen gesture that leans towards immobility. Seek more information per unit area. Cram more data into each per joule expended.

And I tried to bend together the best of both. A compound bow.

Posted by Dennis at 9:04 PM | Comments (0)



Posted by Dennis at 2:47 PM | Comments (1)


The last painting was like that hurricane that came onshore and lingered a little too long. It was difficult to the last stroke, and it was only with the last stroke that felt right that I felt that the whole chain of decisions/events/strokes were justified.

I finished it early last night. With the final action, I hung out for a time and double checked my sense hat this was it. Then I shut the studio down and closed it up like a tomb.

A full frontal shot later.

Dinner and bed (civilized) that night, the whole next day (today) was a train of have-to-do's followed by a nice evening in Girona. It was a long day and week and more. I was just in the studio and I still like it. I wasn't entirely sure that I would.

I'll catch you all up on it all in the next few posts.

Posted by Dennis at 12:37 AM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2004


Went to bed digusted with the painting, with myself.

Alack. Doubtful. Spent. Slightly nauseous.

This morning I awoke with a thought of how to proceed.

Posted by Dennis at 9:26 AM | Comments (1)


scrape off

start all over again.

Posted by Dennis at 4:59 AM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2004

Sketching Out Loud





Posted by Dennis at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

Sketching Aloud




Posted by Dennis at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

Whoopsy Daisy


Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (news - web sites) poses at Howe Barracks in Canterbury, England, with the 1st Battalion of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Tuesday Nov. 9, 2004. The Queen presented soldiers with Operational Service Medals for their service and was expected to meet some of the families of those currently serving with the battalion. (AP Photo / Michael Dunlea, Pool)

Posted by Dennis at 10:41 AM | Comments (2)

Art, too?

Just found:

The great physicist Richard Feynman expressed the methodology of science beautifully: "It doesn't matter how beautiful your guess is or how smart you are or what your name is. If [your idea] disagrees with experience, it's wrong. That's all there is to it."


My favored definition of the modern: To reconcile the things one makes with the life (every?)one lives.

Posted by Dennis at 8:09 AM | Comments (0)


One time (around the days of MOCA/LA's "Public Offerings"), an art dealer I once knew said he thought that the artworld was so advanced and complete that at any given time, we (the art system) know of all artist's potentials, who is good and who is not. According to this view, there are no new artists to be discovered. The system had flipped over all the rocks on the beach.


Kierkegaard?s relentless polemic is not, in the first place, against what is today called "institutional religion." It is, in the first place, a polemic against the deifying of the social order, which can happen with or without Hegelian philosophy. It is, in the second place, a polemic against the church for letting itself become party to this blasphemous fraud and thus betraying Christianity for the sake of Christendom. Since a person?s relationship with Christ, however, is of infinitely greater importance than his relationship with his society, the main fire of Kierkegaard?s polemic is directed against the treason of the church. In this connection, Kierkegaard makes a lasting contribution to the endless?or at least unending until Christ returns in glory?debate over the proper relationship between, as the twentieth-century American theologian H.?Richard?Niebuhr titled his classic book, "Christ and Culture." Niebuhr proposed five main "types" of that relationship as Christians have thought about these things over the centuries. Kierkegaard, one might suggest, is polemicizing against the type of Christ as culture and is arguing for the type of Christ against culture.

Where you see "Christ" or "Christianity", substitute "Art".
Where you see "Religion" or "Christendom" or "Church", substitute "Artworld".

Posted by Dennis at 5:47 AM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2004



Posted by Dennis at 11:01 PM | Comments (1)

Thinking Out Loud


Posted by Dennis at 10:58 PM | Comments (1)

November 11, 2004

Thinking Aloud


(The one on the left is a work on paper, done before we left the States. The one on the right is a crop of this summer.)

Posted by Dennis at 1:35 AM | Comments (2)

November 10, 2004

Helping Hands

We met Scott Barber when we lived in Texas last year. A fixture in the Dallas art scene, Scott is one of the handful*of respected artists in that city.

The choice to become an artist is a crazy one. We risk more as we mature in our career, as the pursuit of art flies in the face of the normative fortifications that one does in life to avoid desperate times that might come.

Scott is fighting cancer, and he needs some help:

Announcing a website to help Scott Barber during his Bone Marrow

Dallas Artist and Art teacher at St. Mark's School of Texas will
release a limited edition print to raise funds for cancer treatment -
his own.

Scott Barber, a Dallas artist, ironically known for paintings
inspired by cancer cells, is currently undergoing treatment for non
Hodgkins's Lymphoma awaiting a bone marrow transplant in January.
His artwork a 21" X 15" gilcee iris print on Lysonic paper
will be limited to 500 signed prints. They can be purchased through
this website.

Scott Barber, is in the collection at the Dallas Museum of Art and is
represented by the Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas, and the James
Kelly Contemporay in Santa Fe. His work will be included in upcoming
shows at the Tucson Museum of Art, The Dallas Contemporary, and The
Barry Whistler Gallery.

*OK, two big handfuls. The artworld in Dallas is bigger than it is small.

Posted by Dennis at 6:08 PM | Comments (0)


Our friend Sharon Englestein has an installation of her inflatable forms in Sioux City (love that name):




November 13, 2004 - February 20, 2005

Sioux City, Iowa - A whimsical and intriguing exhibition of bulbous inflatable sculptures by Houston-based artist Sharon Engelstein opens at the Sioux City Art Center this Saturday, and is on view through February 20, 2005.
(this image is from her website: "Boya" , an installlation at the famed Glassell School in Houston)

Commissioned by the Sioux City Art Center, "Tethertwin: A New Installation by Sharon Engelstein" consists of two room-size sculptures specifically designed for the Art Center's third floor gallery. Each identical form is individually titled "Sharon's Heart 1" and "Sharon's Heart 2", and remains inflated by an air blower sewn within each vinyl-coated nylon skin. In addition to "Tethertwin", Engelstein's 15 x 23 foot inflatable sculpture "Boya" (2001) will be on extended view in the Art Center's central atrium. Suspended from the atrium ceiling, "Boya" will greet visitors as they enter the Art Center and gaze upward at this utterly ambiguous, yet strangely familiar air-filled sculpture.

Engelstein's biomorphic forms were created through the use of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software, which allowed her to develop and manipulate three-dimensional shapes in the virtual space of the computer. Then using Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM), the design was outputted and realized through automated fabrication at Boulder Blimp Company in Colorado. By employing advanced technology to create finished works of art that appear organic and life-like, Engelstein bridges science and nature, the mechanical and the natural.

Since the early 1990s, Houston-based artist Sharon Engelstein has been crafting curious and suggestive sculptures that seem to amble between representation and abstraction. While her working method and use of materials have evolved over time, Engelstein's work has maintained a hybrid sensibility-one loosely informed by human, plant, animal, and other organic forms. Her non-specific biomorphic sculptures appear both natural and manufactured, existing today alongside the work of a diverse group of artists, such as Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, Rona Pondick, and Michael Rees.

Opening Reception: Saturday, November 13 from 5 to 7 p.m.


Posted by Dennis at 5:43 PM | Comments (0)

On the Way to Class

This morning, as we were on our way to Spanish Class, we come across a remarkable sight....


We had to boot to class, so I was bummed when the doors were closed when we returned. Behind us was the artist, returning from an errand on his quad bike. So we introduced ourselves...

Le presente,El Se?or Jaime. I asked him if he was the artist here, and he responded that he is not an artist, only an afficionado. Yes I said, you do it for love. I thought then that all artists should be afficionados, if not in the beginning but always. He built this place a year ago out of trash things he had on hand.
Jaime said that he paints in the morning, one day tackling the nose, another, the mouth. He showed me a book a friend had given him of Joan Miro's paintings. A thick book, he leafed through the pages, pointing out his favorite early work (portraits) and dissing the abstractions at the other end of the book. My Spanish wasn't good enough to suggest a continuity between the two poles.

In this bigger painting, he told us of the story of a trek to San Sebastian to appeal for help of some kind. Siglo cuatro, I think he said? I've seen the image of this caped crusader before here in town.

Posted by Dennis at 4:05 PM | Comments (1)

Fwd: Burd house

Our Aunt Chickie and Uncle Richard sent us pics of their latest bird house/ music box:
Chickie's got a great voice, and I can hear it in her writing. So I thought it would be best to reproduce her email here so that maybe you all can (possibly) hear it too:

Well so glad you liked the pictures but before Dennis does his thing on the blog? we have two more different style houses to send you but Richard is out to lunch with a friend right now and I will have him send them when he gets back in an hour. he just took the pictures this morning.?These are not JUST bird houses these are music boxes, the one you saw on the top of the extension where all the windows are that turn and it plays teddy bear picnic the others you pull the perch out and they too have music boxes in them each with a different song. we started doing these as far back as your wedding house we built you that was how long ago? My inspiration comes from living back in New England I love the old houses back there and English cottages.
each of the shingles are hand cut by Richard, he uses any kind of wood nothing special. he makes the mailboxes by hand on the scroll saw. each time we do one we just seem to get more creative the newspaper on the front stairs some have milk bottles on the stairs. Richard also does all the windows and door on the scroll saw. I am just so tickled you like them so much and that Dennis is going to show them all over the world. we started doing this after building? the dollhouse hat was a major project that we thought we could copy that on a smaller scale by doing the birdhouses then they moved on to be music boxes.? it's so relaxing to do these takes your mind far far away.
I will send more pictures in a while


Posted by Dennis at 11:16 AM | Comments (1)

November 9, 2004

St. Sebastian


Posted by Dennis at 9:33 PM | Comments (1)


Overnight, the spam tripled to over eight thousand.

"I realized that day that we were facing a new predator in the jungle, and if we didn't adapt -- and quickly -- it would be having us for dinner," he said.

The latest wave of spam attacks focused on Six Apart's popular Movable Type publishing system, whose built-in comments do not require registration and allow bloggers to block comments only by IP address -- a restriction spammers can easily avoid.

"Movable Type's comment system is extremely open, which is incredible for a community tool, but unfortunately also highly susceptible to abuse," Allen said.

In late September, the trickle of comment spam swelled to a torrent. Flash programmer Michael Gunn's blog received 150 messages from "preteen" and "lolita." Web designer and developer D. Keith Robinson started getting 40 spams at a time.
Posted by Dennis at 7:55 PM | Comments (0)

November 8, 2004

Dana Schutz: GOOD!

Brett Shaeen, (my gallery in Cleveland) introduced me to Dana Schutz paintings years ago, many years ago before the hoopla.

I was instantly arrested.

Still am.

james e. weighs in comments, a judgement against Dana Shutz with a searing (?) critique:

"I'm Sorry, but Dana Schutz is one of the most overrated artists around and her success represents why the "art world" is no longer contributing anything culuturally new/fresh to the world and had become a joke."

And then the next line is:

"She isn't a bad painter and does some great painting..."


Everything else is out of our hands, subject to wilds of the art world "street".

Personally, I like the device of imagination and using a narrative image engine. Deeply invested play. I like the SciFi edges and I see that she's inside the paint and painting in many ways.

james e., if you're out there, can you tell us what is "important", "fresh" and "new" today? (No combat, just curious.)

Now I google to find out more about this fellow, Barnaby Furnace and I find this jewel:

Peter Halley's interview with her in Index rocks. Here's the tail end:

PETER: You seem to be focused on a range of experience beyond the conscious mind. The scenarios you create could never physically happen, but they have meaning in the imagination. I think Picasso also painted like that ? he used mythic, symbolic imagery that came from instinct or intuition, almost as if he were dreaming it. The Surrealists worked that way too.
DANA: I think of painting in a more pragmatic way. I often think of painting as building ? like I'm building the space. But I do think my paintings come from a basic impulse to make something.
PETER: So your paintings bridge the intuitive and pragmatic. Perhaps your work is shamanistic?
DANA:I like that. When I'm painting, I don't think of myself as putting down paint, but as bringing to life whatever it is that I'm painting.
PETER: By means of magic?
DANA: [laughs] Yeah, with my magic wand.
Posted by Dennis at 11:03 PM | Comments (15)


A little admin for you:

There was a lull in the spambot activity recently. For a while, the ticker only registered a few hits as compared to the past infestation. I noticed news items about recent arrests and I figured this was the reason for the fall off.

Like the old arms race, counter measures provoke counter-counter measures... and now I have a rush of new weeds in the garden. A couple of days ago, the number of spam was around 2500, then today I see I have nearly twice that number. My method is to wait for a while and then apply the tedious effort to clean up the comment sections for all posts. It's a pain, but I like a clean garden.

As a result, I may miss a comment from a human being, not a bot. Sorry about that folks. Recent posts are less effected for some reason, so if you want my eyballs on your commetn fast, the most recent post is the way to go. As I find new comments buried in old posts, I'll respond if need be. Hang in there!

Posted by Dennis at 2:21 PM | Comments (0)

Doug Melini


The circumstances that brought Doug and I together in LA recede into my corroding memory. He was a young hungry artist just out of CalArts, he was painting seriously and he wanted to talk. I remember driving somewhere in LA's Koreatown, finding his studio in a funky building, crumbling plaster straight out of a John Fante story(remember, artists need cheap rent so that they can become the first audience). Crisp, sharp paintings in crumbling rooms.

I remember my first impression of Doug as driven in a East Coast way (very good), intense and questioning (also very good). We had a great conversation over work recently done, the very essence of why I became an artist. I remember him saying that he wanted to get back to the East Coast as soon as he could. That was the last I heard from him.

And then he popped up in the comments of this here blog. How fantastic this web thingy is!

I have since moved to NYC(1999) and live and work in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Love NY, but it is tuff to exist here. I have yet to find a gallery in NY, but I have been showing a bit. Had a white room last summer. I installed a 62(+) foot painting (took 3 years to make). You could check it out at,also had a show in London @ Rocket Gallery, can check out there site also to see my show there. I am in a show right now in Berlin @ DaimlerChrysler Contemporary, and I will be in a
show at the Kunsthalle in Mallorca this summer, closer to your neck of the woods.
Just got married three weeks ago to my long time girlfriend. I guess that about covers me.

A toast to you, Doug and all this good news, especially your marraige!


Posted by Dennis at 11:47 AM | Comments (2)



First, a caveat:

The appearance of transparancy in this blog (if it indeed seems so to you) is illusory. First of all, not everything can be blogged. Too many times, I have seen or entertained remarkable thoughts/experiences, knowing it could be great blog material ... only to have it float away in a lifestream for various reasons: an embarassment of riches, the need to be discrete, the simple need to not bias the depiction of what goes on here by transcribing every neurotic thought that floats through my cranium (what, you don't have them?). For heaven's sake, a blog is not a stage that the actor should grandstand constantly with over the top emotion. And this blog will not bore you with mundane yet important notations of the sometimes harrowing financial brinkmanship that is the lot of every artist's life (I wonder what the curve of the relative incomes of artists would look like?)... or perhaps such a reportage might be exciting and instructive in a live-by-your-wits kind of thing, but it would be not so good for the people you work with. This is not a dear diary where I scribe my vulnerable innards... I think of it more like a bibliography that occassionally resembles a biography. And for heaven's sake, this won't be a variant of the mental disorder where one would compulsively record daily temperatures or count food intake and bowel movements (there was one blog that did exactly that, a Jpeg a day of the toilet... it was like a car wreck, revolting and yet you couldn't take your eyes off it), nah, not that.

The most important thing here is that I feel a need for some mental processing, to do it in writing. It is relevent to what is happening in the studio, where, if this bibliographyblog functions correctly, is central to its mission. It's my side of the story.


As you read what's to follow, please remember that my mood is light, even though I may heave a sigh or two or wring my hands. Sweaty hands. Writing online has difficulty conveying emotion and inflection correctly. People can misunderstand the tone. That's why they invented emoticons:



WW#185 "Lush Life"

So here's the news: I got a crit on the show in Z?rich, and it was... let us say... complex. I heard from a friend of a friend that they thought the show in Z?rich was...

"Not as strong as the work before".

191 Cadmium-red-Deep.jpg
WW#191 "Cadmium Red Deep"

Please, don't misunderstand me. I'm not a fragile flower. I've lived a life in presentation contending with fierce feedback on the work I've done. I've given it with gusto and I've gotten the same. As a matter of fact, the first show of my wet in to wet work recieved a blistering whipping in a smaller weekly newspaper (I don't seem to have the link at my fingertips, alas!), the good news is that the critic went waaaay over the top and -at least for me- lost credibility. Still, The first of my crit conditioning was architectural, a big audience situations which are systematic versus art crits, which tend to be small scale and psychological.

Even so, my heart sank a little. It always does. It must be a masochism.

194 Carnal.jpg
WW#194 "Carnal"

But critique is key and important and essential, art as we know it wouldn't exist without it. But why am I drawn first to the harsh crit? When I was teaching (architecture design, '92 to'00), the school had an evaluation system that resulted in the instructor recieving a bundle of reviews in longhand. Longhand. And no matter how many glowing essays that might come my way, I went straight for the harshness. I guess I like to take my licking first and then the balm later.

Anyway, to repeat the critique: the idea was that compared to the work I did before, the paintings painted in Tossa were too much the same and not as strong as before.

WW#203 "Actor"

They might not be seen as strong, but they have an internal imperative that leaped over the previous work. They are indeed different, they are of a language that appeared in the first painting. From my view, it was a departure from what had gone before. It was both continuous with the previous work but it was different in an unexpected way. There seemed to be a language and syntax in the first painting, a strong armature that could be tested elastically.

(NOTE: I speed picked these images to plumb a sort of recent visual history. The work in question begins at WW#210.)

All of this is normal steaming. The reason why the issue enlarged is that the other day, I gave my mom a call to say hello. I mention that crit to her and it was if a dam burst inside her. She quickly concurred. She said the work seemed washed out compared to my previous work, she said:

"It seems as if you were... empty inside."

Dear G-d.

"Maybe you are cooped up in your studio too much. Maybe you should get out more."

It was as if I were in the second cockpit and the pilot decides to barrel roll. There might be a popular perception that the work is indeed weaker than those before it. These critics are people who have seen the work before. Am I being compared to my older self?


Strange that in the world there are forces that want you as an artist to change, to question your project, to shake it up, to upset the status quo, to surprise... and there are equally agressive appeals to cohere, to refrain from caprice, a challenge to hold the note, to commit to a visual language, a sensible life project. One time, Rauchenburg said to me: "Change it up, do something different every show." Then, I overheard advice from Lasker to a friend: "Find your project and stay there."

WW#208 "Thoughts Afield"

She said that they looked grey. And to a great extent, they are greyer, less saturated with color. They are coming off WW#210, "La Primera Vez", the first painting I for the show and since arriving in the EU. I was grooving on the pastoral history of this new place. It was for all purposes, a landscape painting.

Sky's a blue, the white walls of the pueblo, terra cotta of the earth, sprites of green of vegetation, shots of ochres and blues and that strange electric green here and there. I was delighted by the feat of the move, enchanted by the Costa Brava and the Catalans. Nature was closer to us than it was in LA. Here, you are in the froth of the landscape, embroiled.

This is important: there are two levels here.

No matter what the case is with what is beginning to resemble a triagulation of opinion, my arrival in the EU should be a bigger splash than this. It cannot be denied that there was a coming short of the goal of having the work seen hands down as fabulous stuff. As a friend once said: "It's show-business, Dennis! "It's a business and you've got to make a big show about it to get any. I never got warm to that idea. But it is one that is dangerous to turn your back to.

I like the idea, which I first remember Dave Hickey articulating, that the artist first had to have their own party before others will want to join in. The artist is the first audience and then the rest of the world might follow. Emphasis on "might". That's what is a little wobbly here.

WW#210 "La Primera Vez"

People aren't seeing what I'm seeing. Since I can show you with this weblog, I think I'll point a few features I see in this recent turn in the work. (All images illustrating this post are arranged chronologically, there is no scale in terms of time or in size of the work.)

First of all, I busted out of the procedure of screeding a level bed of paint across the entire surface of the painting in sheets. I usually pulled it down from the top to the bottom. This came from my regard for the first time I painted like this, a wet brush laying into a field of wet paint. Painting this way was like creating a "paper" in which to begin various kinds of "drawings" that agglomerate loosely into the eventual painting. I did this by first laying paint down with these pillow-like tools I have. You see, this way, the painting doesn't have to start top to bottom in a sheet of color. I can begin in any part of the canvas... and only in part of the canvas, rather than commit to the entirety of the surface.

Now, I didn't have to paint the whole thing at once. At least that is the theory.

WW#214 "Out of the Head"

You see, I have a divided head about the size and scale of the canvases. I've long felt that these paintings had a scale about them. The details of form, the lick of impasto came from the hand, a hand that earned their chops. For that reason, the works on paper are perfect: I think that the size of a sheet of stiff paper is scaled perfectly to the hand and delicacy of the paintings I'm doing. Larger canvases bring a harder intensity to the project. A stiffer support can absorb more joules of energy and therefore it should. Do you remember whe I said that sometimes I get that Tuttle Feeling?

Richard Tuttle is great for keeping it simple, keeping the work in his hands in front of him. Or what about Giorgio Morandi? That guy did the same thing. Human scale.

I've always wanted to change a museum as they exhibit the work, rather than change the work to fit the museum. If I had to show in a soaring former factory building now a kunsthalle, I'd drop the ceiling and put spots on the paintings at high raking angles.

WW#217 "Muchas Cosas"

The trouble with me is that once I dwell on one thing, I begin to form contrary thoughts. Once I begin to nurse what feels like a manifesto-like idea, I plant seeds for the other point of view.

Before, I began to become critical of the inhumanly scaled, institutional scaled global international language former factory space cum kunsthalle... part of my head began to agitate the problem of painting larger. The paintings done this summer bear seeds of a way to paint larger works.

Funny how that happens.

So, one way to extend into a larger surface was to work like a mural painter, one patch at a time. Another way to address the larger surface came from the late development of color areas scraped flat as I begin the painting. This seems to bear a promise of drawing large areas of the canvas (in which my mental image is Monique Prieto's work, so I'll have to be careful there... or better, Al Capp's Shmoo's in his lil' Abner cartoons). I can begin with a drawing of fat lines that almost become fields.

WW#218 "Grace"

There is the persistant issue of needing to arrest the attention of the audience (I like Joyce's idea of arrest in his "Portrait..."). I have to be wary of any hint of pandering to an audience of course... but there's this monkee on my back: Am I painting because I want to be accepted, or am I following the lead in the works themselves?

Here's the solution: a venn diagram of my needs and the audience's needs, there is an overlap. Two conclusions:

1. Paint larger.

2. Find and embolden the punch in the work to come.

Posted by Dennis at 1:55 AM | Comments (3)

November 7, 2004

Working. Coal. Mine.

A blogpost about a blogpost:

I'm still digging the vein at the blogpost "POP after POP after POP". I figure it's best to flesh it out as long as there is flesh to flesh. So, I'll report via blogpost when I've added to "POP3" rather than serialise it into the future. Much better that way, it fits my schedule.

Whenever you read, a swirl of experience and memory puffs up forming a corona around the ideas delivered. Maybe a Fisking is a drawing of that cloud.

(I hope that I am using this term correctly, "Fisking". I take it as an tribute or an analysis at best and an attack at worst. I promised to use this blog for the former and not the latter.)

There's a few more clouds to draw, including one in which I attempt to describe my view of an art history that is relevant to what I do in the studio.

Most blogposts are short little notes, this one keeps going and going, thanks both to the ten page beast the exchange actually is and to these big lobes of ideas I grow around parts of it.

Or maybe I'm digging tubers.

Posted by Dennis at 5:21 PM | Comments (0)

November 6, 2004

Good Stuff: Astronomy

I've just discovered this fabulous site where one can anticipate the crossing of satellites overhead. They should be brighter than the stars but not as bright as the moon (of course). If you click the link: "Sighting", it will give you a map and time to spot overhead satellites. I anticipate hanging out on our deck from time to time (JTrack can pinpoint a crossing to the minute, so I can jet upstairs for thirty minutes)... the stuff of backyard astronomy: binoculars, warm clothing and a laptop.

And under the "Tracking" category, you can click on "JTrack 3-D" for a delightfully manipulable three dimensional rendering of earth and 500 satellites in scaled orbital positions. Fantastic. Just fantastic. (Static image above.)

Walking home late last night from the expat Brit bar "Club Europa", after toasting my cousin Joe off as he returns to Australia with a beer or two or four. We could see Orion low in the sky framed by Tossa buildings. I felt good about the earlier efforts to learn the night sky.

Hello Orion, hello winter.

(I came across this info from James Dunnigan's (one of the best military info/analysis sites on the web), provides another helpful link in this regard.)

Posted by Dennis at 1:00 PM | Comments (1)

November 5, 2004

Strange Days

The past few weeks have been a bit strange, a mix of feelings in the aftermath of a solo and group shows; attending to the needs of our home; taking a breather after the deep submersion into the studio, resetting my head for what is to come (the K?ln show); witnessing the shock and awe that is the earthquake of the elections in the states...

Thanks to our friends, Piet and Monique for the access to their car as they ore away on vacation. We looted the local Ikea for two couches that you can see here in this post. Now, the living room can be lived in without the spooky echoey emptiness that it was when we first arrived. We lit a fire in celebration on the first day. On the second, we placed a tv in the nook even though it plays only one station (BBC)... yea, we are yet too tight to buy a satellite dish or antenna array. As the winter approaches, we are ready to face it, California wimps that we are.


And I am going to continue wailing away at the previous post: "POST after POST after POST" (a self fulfilling prophesy). It's important to me to get the story out and the attendant appeal I'm making, asking our artworld for a critical reassessment of the entire PostModern era.

So click back and note that I will be done when the words "BLOGPOST IN PROGRESS" are erased from the page. It'll take me a while.

Posted by Dennis at 11:01 AM | Comments (3)

November 2, 2004

POP after POP after POP


I'm reading ArtForum's "POP AFTER POP A Roundtable"

It's a beast, and like Santiago, I hope to haul this one into port before the sharks take their bite...

Here we go:

JEFF KOONS MAKES ME SICK." The words are Peter Schjeldahl's, and the occasion was a review in the SoHo weekly 7 Days, back in the '80s, before Koons was quite the museum-certified star he is today. In the course of the write-up, Schjeldahl would turn his conceit around, explaining how undeniable, unstoppable, finally essential the experience of the artist's work was for him. What makes Koons's art simultaneously so toxic and so compelling? And why is it both institutionally embraced and yet seen by many as an art of diminishing returns, a symptom of all that is wrong with culture today? Koons is, of course, one of the artists?one of the few artists?for whom, in any pure or immediate sense the oft-used designation neo-Pop has a certain self-evidence.

The present panel?and this special issue of Artforum?comes out of a desire to look back at the past several decades of artmaking and to ask where, when, and why we have evoked Pop art in its post- and neo- compounds?and what it is we mean when we do so. Is there something in the Pop paradigm?but also in the grumbles of Pop's discontents?that points to what is at stake in making art out of our contemporary world? How much does historical Pop (not just high New York Pop, but also British proto-Pop; not just the Warhol of the soup cans, but also of the films and the capacious art/life jugglings) tell us about the myriad ways artists work with, through, and even in pop culture today.

The mission of this issue is to consider the art/pop dialectic in its broadest sense?and to do so we convened an online symposium, the results of which are published in the following pages. Our seven panelists include contributing editors Thomas Crow and Rhonda Lieberman, artists Jeff Wall and Stephen Prina, curator and critic Alison M. Gingeras, cultural critic Diedrich Diederichsen, and Artforum editor Tim Griffin. . ?JB

So begins an ArtForum discussion that goes on for ten onlline pages. Much of it is repetitive and there's much strutting about in it, but it is beginning... just beginning to direct our attention at the source of our long PostModern epoch. I just wish that attention was a little more critical that these esteemed people are willing to do... but that is what I intend to do in this post.

It's a big task, and it has put me off for a time. But today (ahem, and in the days to follow) I intend to take this task on and therefore get on with my life (it has wieighed a little heavily on me lately). I'm going to excerpt pieces of the discussion, discarding the drek and comment (what the blogosphere calls Fisking) on what remains.

Jack Bankowsky: Maybe my first question should be: Is there life after Warhol, and if so, what does it look like? Does it look like Jeff Koons? Do we like what we're looking at? To jump in headlong, consider the range of ways art and pop come together today. Koons's traffickings in the realm of mass taste largely take place in the form of objects and paintings. Whereas Murakami, in his play with and penetration of the Louis Vuitton logo, for instance, finds "art" in the realm of commerce and advertising. Finally, a meta-band such as Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw's Destroy All Monsters comes out of a lived relationship to pop music subcultures, while Alex Bag's samplings constitute a deep (if slapstick) archeology of the nuances of life lived through TV. What can we say about these various practices and the kinds of pop/mass material in which they trade?

Here's the establishing shot. I think he's correct in noting that the artists have saluted the primacy of Pop, especially Warhol as a fundamental expression of the PostModern ethos. Pop is king, and has been recognised as such since the early nineties. I remember the turning point and the flurry of articles and books rekindling his reputation. Before then, I think it is correct to say that Warhol was considered to be a washout or somehow dissapated in some way.

All of a sudden, everyone was extolling the hidden genius of Andy W.

Jeff Wall: Koons's work doesn't bother me, but it doesn't inspire me either. It's just very characteristic of this dominant ethos of contemporary art?what we are calling neo-Pop.

Curious, how Wall distances himself from Koons.

And "neo-Pop". To be Post-xxx is to be critical of, to be Neo-xxx is to endorse. Does he think this ethos is dominant enough to encompass his work too?

Here's what -I hope- is a relevent digression:

Grad school, 1989-91, Southern California. The first days, shortly after the introductory talk. We have to formally register, in the foyer of the building before a table with the secretaries and student assistants inscribing the forms. We were asked to identify the nature of our degree.

Echos of the oath I took as I was processed into the service so long ago.

"What will be your major?



Or Sculpture?"

I was delighted.

That moment was in a continuity with the moment so many years ago as I stood in front of Goya's "Saturn Devouring his Children" in the Prado.

I was thirteen. I had already been drawing in the margins of the history books by that time. A year before, I had read The Agony and the Ecstacy, and the immersion and struggle in contending with the medium of art, be it Architecture or Painting or Sculpture. I was ready for both moments.

"Mark me down for Painting."

I had just finished a righteous architectural education. I went to what was regarded as the toughest school for architecture in the West Coast, I apprenticed and I won my license. It was that, and a stint in the Navy that was what I thought as a fair substitution for an art undergraduate degree. All the while, I began to focus on Painting as an ultimate objective, painting in earnest early in Architecture school.

And what of architecture? I love it. I will take any opportunity to design and build a great building. It's just that those opportunities don't grow on trees... and Painting was waiting.

Plus, one has a possibility to make an Architectural statement with one good building (sadly, many architects toil for a lifetime without the opportunity to ring the bell), but Painting requires a body of work. Those positions are not interchangeable.

But I wouldn't change it if I could. I was having a lot of fun with it all.

My interlocuter had a smile on their face (Funny, I can't remember who it was, or even which sex they were!), hands clasped in what began to seem like anticipation. The veritable catbird seat.

"Well, don't you know we are living in PostModern times? We can choose more than one media and as artists, we should work across media anyway. Art is bigger than Painting, Sculpture or Drawing."

Oh. Here it is again, what I had seen in outline in undergraduate school. What was once radical-leading-edge and progressive (archtiectural terms: Stanley Tigerman's sex buildings, Archigrams's walking buildings, Venturi's Las Vegas and the beginning of Deconstruction in Architecture... now virtually chiseled into the virtual pediment of the very real institution.

I received my first lesson, a trick question.

Neo-Pop has four main sources: Duchamp's discovery that anything can be art if it is so designated;

I remember a moment in Architecture school where my old friend Troy and I were installing an exhibit in the school gallery. I was thinking about this idea, that anything can be art if so designated. Spirits were high and conversation was fast, and I was looking at a trash can full to the brim. That too, can be art... so I tipped it over to designate it so.

Oooh, so transgressive. The school guard began to take notice. The idea was so exhilarating, so encompassing, so apparently liberating... and ultimately empty. This indexical nomination can be capricious... and sure, the burden of proof hangs on the character of the owner of the hand that indicates art... but there are so many hands pointing out there. Now, it may be art, but that doesn't make it good.

Beuys's proclamation that everyone is an artist;

More fingers pointing at art stuff... actually, art ideas. More of this later.

Warhol's assertion that making art is the same as making any other commercial product; and finally (also from Warhol) the idea that, since there is no essential difference between creating art and creating anything else, artists can share in the wider recognition that other makers have enjoyed and do not have to be restricted to the esteem of an elite.

People we used to look to as artists?those who had unusual abilities and the unusual intuitions that seem to be somehow connected with these abilities?are not looked to as much anymore. Artists today work as "creative directors," employing skilled artisans to make things according to their specifications. Other abilities have come to the fore, one of the most important of which is the ability to sense meanings in the wider culture and to contemplate the evolution and significance of those meanings and the products that express them.

A beautiful idea. The trouble is, when art approaches the real world, the real world is far more interesting, deeper, convoluted, invested...

A strange idea. A reach into the classical idea of artist as orchestrator, artist as CEO.

A familiar idea. The separation of art from artisan. A divorce of idea from the material. Casper shed his mortal coil and flies in the PostModern sky. More on that later as well.

The creative act here is to find a means, a form, or a format to make those meanings available. The form and the technique are usually drawn from the original's production process?a film (or a moment in a film), an architectural trope, a social situation of some kind?like remaking the HOLLYWOOD sign and erecting it near Palermo, or re-enacting a fragment of a performance by a famous film star as a video, or making gigantic sculptures that are enlargements of toys.

Neo-Pop art is based on this discourse about meaning, about the relation between the first and second appearance of things?the first as some mass-cultural event, like a news photo of a car accident, and the second as that photo as a painting by Andy Warhol. But it's probably an open question whether the second appearance is more meaningful than the first?a question that should probably be asked more often in the face of the deluge of second (and third, and tenth) appearances.

The bolded last sentence is my emphasis, the first glimmer of critique. Do subsequent appearances in fact bring a diminished meaning? Can we find more gold after the rock is crushed? And if we can, is there enough to make the effort worthwhile?

Alison Gingeras: To me what Maurizio Cattelan puts forth in the HOLLYWOOD project has nothing to do with the Duchampian readymade, with the object or the aura of fame as evoked by the object-sign. HOLLYWOOD was about Cattelan positioning himself as an impresario who had digested and built on Warhol's own "business art" legacy, taking it further to put his finger on what makes our contemporary world tick. Filling a privately chartered plane with curators, dealers, journalists, collectors, and glitterati during the height of the Venice Biennale and flying the "art world" to a garbage dump in Palermo to witness his "sculpture" was the crux of the piece.

Cattelan carefully deployed his own celebrity to create a highly visible frame for the exclusive event, capitalizing on the art world's desire to partake in it. I would argue that this work was the culmination of years of careful orchestration of his public persona.

Jeff Wall: Yes, and my question is about the legitimacy of art's aim being to "put one's finger on what makes society tick." The value of such an endeavor?as art, as opposed to some other activity?is not self-evident to me. There have been (and are) other artistic aims.

Bravo Jeff Wall! (emphasis mine)

This is the crux of the matter: the idea that art proceeds in sucession with each development eclipsing the last should have been itself succeeded by an idea of art proceeding in augmentation. Isn't both-and better than either-or, a cardinal virtue of a progressive creative mentality?

It's strange that PostModernism is seen as the successor to Modernism when it promises to enlarge and not necessarily supplant what has gone before. It is the popular idea of a necessary supplantation that irritates me so.

Thomas Crow: Well, Koons's appeal has mystified commentators for decades now (at this point, he has enjoyed nearly twenty years in the limelight) and led in each instance to the default theory that he, like Warhol before him, erased any operative distinction between commerce and the old, disinterested, aesthetic ideal, enacting a "euphoric celebration of art and the market?business joined hands with creativity."

The problems with this mindset are huge and disabling. For one thing, it equates the commercial and the popular while remaining stubbornly behind the times in terms of the actual evolution of marketing techniques.

Oh. I had hoped that he would have found the easy equation of art and commerce to be huge and disabling. But didn't Warhol merge one into the other? I would like to suggest that the possibility of an equation is only apparent, a device of artifice. Warhol was not driven by consumer demmand, despite the wonderful story of a bored and listless Andy asking his friend what he should paint one day.

"Paint what you like. Paint money."

Andy painted what he liked, not what the consumer (collectors, are they consumers?) liked. And sure, he silkscreened photos (or rather, his assistants did the task) of glamorous collectors... but by that time, he was Andy Warhol, and his expression was no-expression, artifice again. Didn't he like glamour too? And when he was late in life and infirm, didn't reach for images of car accidents and think of death?

And why would an easy equation of art and commerce be huge and disabling? Maybe we will come across a succinct Thomas Crow answer later. My quick answer is that art occurs for it's own sake. Call it curiousity. Call it affinities made vivid. Commerce occurs as a transaction. FedEx and Home Depot (or Bauhaus) seek a perfect match with consumer demmand. Art must form a bubble and then its' artifacts, its' concrescence, can be then traded among the avid.


Jack Bankowsky: If Murakami's art ends up looking and feeling like the old Pop world, are there artists, ways of working, that deal with the "new digital culture of commodities and advertisement" more decisively?

Stephen Prina: Artists cannot locate themselves "above the fray" since they are embedded in the capitalist system, but, as Alison demonstrates, there are different ways for artists to give form to their positions as subjects.

The redeployment of a strategy of Warhol's does not necessarily reap similar results decades after the fact, which makes the perpetual phase-shifting of Martin Kippenberger all the more effective.

Diedrich Diederichsen: What Kippenberger shared with Pop artists is his quasi-religious faith in his ability to create a world that would negotiate with another world and yet be complete, like the Church or the Communist Party. The main difference is that he was not a man of singular objects but of narratives and contexts. His strategy was so contextualist; he would constantly force you to look at the next image/object, and then the one after that, since nothing was ever complete. This contradiction?and complexity?makes him for me an artist beyond the Pop art aporia.

#1: with commerce more decisively?

#2: ...embedded in the capitalist system? Art can bubble forth with or without commerce. Art is not qualified by commerce... is it? Of course not.


Posted by Dennis at 6:35 PM | Comments (0)

On the Advantages of Silence

Story 1

I said to a friend that I have chosen rather to be silent than to speak because on most occasions good and bad words are scattered concurrently but enemies perceive only the latter. He replied: 'That enemy is the greatest who does not see any good.'

The brother of enmity passes not near a good man
Except to consider him as a most wicked liar.

Virtue is to the eyes of enmity the greatest fault.
Sa'di is a rose but to the eye of enemies a thorn.

The world illumining sun and fountain of light
Look ugly to the eye of the mole.

Posted by Dennis at 9:36 AM | Comments (1)