XII Rules for theNew Academy by Reinhardt 1953 I. No texture. II. No sketching or drawing. III. No brushwork or calligraphy. IV. No forms. V. No colors. VI. No white. VII. No light. VIII. No space. IX. No time. X. No size or scale. XI. No movement. XII. No object.
E S S A Y S
> American Icon by Rozita Fogelman Andy Warhol, Bruce Conner, Claes Oldenburg: about American life?
New York Pop artists, Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Bruce Conner (1933-2008) and Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929) portrayed the superficiality of American life in the 1960’s; through the use of nontraditional media that elevated commonly found images and icons into art.
Their subject matter came from their immediate environments, and objects from their daily life. Elevating surrounding objects and available materials, New York Pop artists documented what was around. For Warhol, it was Campbell soup, Brillo pads, Cokes, Marilyn Monroe or merely a Banana.
Warhol took what was available for him to use, but also that which was accessible to most Americans. He showed the American mania for cheap, colorful and fixed consumerism, which was equally available for all. In other words, the rapidly growing American society became so demanding of fast and economical consumption that the content and its quality became no longer important. However, what remains significant is the image.
For Warhol, who had already become a successful commercial illustrator, the pure practice of art was no longer effective in American culture, and pure art paled in comparison to commercial art and advertising. The artist’s role was no longer to think but to do, creating labels, graphics, objects and visual media for mechanical reproduction. Artists had to transform their skills for the "machine-like" replica of media for mass consumption. As Warhol said: “The reason I’m painting this way is that I want to be a machine, and I feel that what ever I do and do machine-like is what I want to do.”
In his large silkscreen paintings, he imitated the processes of machine techniques, depicting a single object as a single subject line in mass production. Repeating his subject line in an overwhelming way, Warhol took it to the extreme with colors and abstracted forms that mimicked possessed reality.
Creating a new kind of experimental art and cinema, Conner used found objects from his everyday life that he gathered around. Through the use of cut and paste techniques, Conner assembled his films using collage from existing film stocks and whatever was convenient for him at the time. By doing so, importunes of his daily matter came to be a subject of his art.
Oldenburg created sarcastic sculptures depicting conventional mass produced objects as subject of his art. He borrowed from everyday objects, making art installations and public displays. His sculptures are enormous models that illustrate mass produced objects in particular. Emphasizing the meticulous structure that went into the design of these objects, Oldenburg’s work brought the observer closer to admire the new machine-made forms.
Oldenburg had a keen sense of humor when he juxtaposed his extra-ordinary objects into non-ordinary subject line sculptures such as “Lipstick and Caterpillar Tracks” 1969, “Soft Toilet” 1966, and “Flashlight” 1968. In his work, Oldenburg mimicked Americans’ daily consumption as dislocated, absurd and disconnected from a reality of the natural form. He placed his sculptures of solid objects in dislocated, new environments, outdoors or central points. No viewer can dismiss his piece. It stands in open public space to draw attention, to learn and study its characteristic, a new phenomenon of fabricated form being born. Contemporary Art: Pop Art Andy Warhol (1928-1987) Bruce Conner (1933-2008) Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929) Published online: October 1, 2010
> > Clement Greenberg on Extra-Aesthetic Art by Rozita Fogelman Can formalist paintings or sculptures without extra-aesthetic content be great works of art? Not for the sake of beauty or intellect, but for the sake of pure fun, of exploration with new combined materials and the unknown effects of media, Formalists addressed their new trends in experimental work. For Greenberg Jackson Pollock practiced a high and distinct form of avant-garde art. Pollock, an American abstract expressionist, painted with unique techniques and tools, were “advanced” in his abstraction and use of paint. Sparsely avant-garde or ‘high’ forms of experimental art diverged from mainstream art and was appreciated by isolated crowds, not by the masses. The avant-garde’s main sponsor audiences emerged from the intellectual bourgeois and rich elites. At the same time, rear-guard ‘art’ was created for masses to enjoy imitated ‘extra-aesthetic’ reproductions. This reproduction to satisfy the masses need for the aesthetics was advanced by the new technologies of inexpensive mass-production, which gave birth to rear-guard, or as the Germans named: kitsch.Kitsch was the reflection of Marxist and Socialist philosophy, which encouraged art for all. This art was collectively mass-produced and marketed for the masses. The birth of kitsch allowed everyone to afford and own “art”. Kitsch was preferred by dictators and fundamentalists who believed that “kitsch, by virtue of a rationalized technique that draws on science and industry, has erased distinction practice” for individualistic need. (C. Greenberg, Avant-Garde and Kitsch, pg.13)
According to Greenberg kitsch developed when “the peasants who settled in the cities as proletariat and petty bourgeois learned to read and write for the sake of efficiency, but they did not win the leisure and comfort necessary for the enjoyment of the city's traditional culture. Losing, nevertheless, their taste for the folk culture whose background was the countryside, and discovering a new capacity for boredom at the same time, the new urban masses set up a pressure on society to provide them with a kind of culture fit for their own consumption. To fill the demand of the new market, a new commodity was devised: ersatz culture, kitsch, destined for those who, insensible to the values of genuine culture, are hungry nevertheless for the diversion that only culture of some sort can provide.” (C. Greenberg, Avant-Garde and Kitsch, pg. 10)
Ultimately, kitsch was used to educate the uncivilized consumerist into buying reproductions of art, which offered a form of civilization and a simulated connection to culture. Indeed, kitsch was “a product of the industrial revolution which urbanized the masses of Western Europe and America and established what is called universal literacy.” (C. Greenberg, Avant-Garde and Kitsch, pg. 9)
Greenberg’s aesthetic theories were impacted by pure abstractions; “... the subject is just painting itself with no other content.” Greenberg saw experimental avant-garde as a higher form of art. He did not care for the art of intellect nor did he believe that art should carry a political voice for social responsibility. Greenberg succeed in recognizing exclusively artistic processes. The incidental process that documented the arrived content of techniques of pure expression was free of old baggage.
Contemporary Art: Clement Greenberg Avant-Garde and Kitsch, 1939 Published online: October 7, 2010
> > > Existentialism Transcending Into Unconscious Subconscious by Rozita Fogelman Existentialism theory was first practiced among contemporary artists and poets. The practitioners of this movement did not "preoccupied with aesthetic considerations," neither they attempt was to educate the audiences about any realistic subjects matter.(Contemporary Art / M. Levy, lecture 01, pg. 01) Existentialists primarily goal was to free them self and let the unconsciousness mind take over creating process. This movement was pioneered by the influence of French surrealist poet and painter André Masson (1896-1966), Spanish surrealist Joan Miró (1896-1987) and Chile's surrealist painter Roberto Matta (1911-2002). Forced to leave Europe in 1940, with the broke of the World War II, this group of European artists could escape from the trauma of horror before the fascism spread through the continent. Escaping to the US, they settled in New York School and become the mentors of first American abstract expressionist artists.
Existentialist philosophy was all about escaping free. Doing, working being in action, meant for them to be. Free from subject matter, and letting go of any attachment to objectives or outside intellect, existence meant for first contemporary artist pure sinceof individuality and will to freely mark sign of life.
If looking at a big picture, it is clear to see the correlation why Existentialism thinking and the conscious being of the 21-century after living through The Great Depression, survive Holocaust and seeing shock of Hiroshima. This atmosphere was overwhelming, so what was better way to ran away into unconscious mind and to avoid all the emotional distress. Therefore if artists still could ‘do’ the art, the act of doing was equivalent to act of being, which recreating meaning of the very self and free unconscious mind existence.
According to Masson, it was the artist role to show the unknown. Masson aimed to document consciously unconsciousness mind, the energetic mind in action. Masson monochromatic gesture paintings are greatly express this kind of documentation of unconsciousness mind. For Masson it is the action of doing, and celebration of free exploration in a space. His automatic drawing may be seen as simple line of thought that passes freely through complex human mechanism. The goal is to be able to acknowledge and be able to see this abstraction of living pulse. Its pure documentation of Masson’s energy flow, the way brain acts as automatic in emptiness of void.
Another great example of existentialism gesture painter, is Armenian-born, American Arshile Gorky (1904-1948). After immigrating to the US, in 1924, Gorky becomes a faculty member at the School of Art in New York. Gorky's passionate gesture painting, are bold and vivid. His usage of the warm tones, in close and layered compositions create a playfully stage of some kind dramatic interaction. His shapes are in a constant motion, as animated abstract figures that vibrate and become into imaginary living things. Gorky's work illustrates pure pleasure and essence of a free play. His gesture techniques revealed to viewer the complexity of automatic act of thoughts with sublime need for fun space.
> > > > Sublime of Color Field by Rozita Fogelman In 1950s, two Jewish New Yorkers, artists, Mark Rothko (1903–70) and Barnet Newman (1905-1970) practiced a spiritual approach of going into subconscious void. This pure journey of finding space of the unconscious, led to a greater elimination of ideas for the sake of pure fields, which were divided by the pure colored space. Rothko's and Newman's paintings of color fields, abstracted and eliminated expressive art even more, and farther got rid of any previous objectification of abstraction or any use of gesture or a form. Rothko's large color fields challenged the observers and drove their emotional response in a startling way that had never previously been done.By going into a deeper emotional state to find and reconnect with origins of seeing, feeling, and being Rothko's color fields abstracted the unknown and transformed the viewers into a spiritual space of void. For Rothko’s need creating art was higher to escape into divine and transcendental space of pleasant harmony. This harmony and balance were accomplished in nature due to separation of space into horizontal color fields that gradually blend one into the other. In Rothko's paintings viewers merge with and into surrounding void of calm and relaxation. It is the ultimate seduction that transforms spectators into a state of the unknown without interrogation. Both Rothko and Newman proclaimed; “The First Man Was an Artist.” Rothko's examined Genesis, he pointed out “original man, that Adam, was not put on earth to be a toiler nor to be a social animal. The writer’s creative impulses told him that man’s origin was that of an artist and he set him up in a Garden of Eden close to the Tree of Knowledge in the higher sense of divine revelation.” (Contemporary Art, Pg. 552)
Newman in his statement from 1947 described the first need of the first man for communication “in the language of science, the necessity for understanding the unknowable comes before any desire to discover the unknown. Man’s first cry was a song… Man’s first expression, like his first dream, was an aesthetic one. Speech is a poetic outer rather that a demand for communication.” (Contemporary Art, Pg. 553)
In conclusion, while Rothko aimed to see a pure interpretation of the spiritual sublime, Newman's interpretation approached it in a plastic sense of paint. Indeed, Newman's space on canvas was divided by a single erected line, may seen as an erection of the conscious need for this plasticity. That is expression to be find unconsciously for the sake of “pure plasticity” that replaced natural divination of human need.
As Newman wrote in 1948, The Sublime Is Now: “The failure of European art to achieve the sublime is due to this blind desire to exist inside the reality of sensation (the object world, whether distorted or pure) and to build an art within the framework of pure plasticity (the Greek ideal of beauty, whether that plasticity be a romantic active surface, or a classic stable one). In other words, modern art, caught without a sublime content, was incapable of creating a new sublime image, and unable to move away from the Renaissance imagery of figures and objects except by distortion or by denying it completely for an empty world of geometric formalisms—a pure rhetoric of abstract mathematic relationships, became enmeshed in a struggle over the nature of beauty; whether beauty was in nature or could be found without…” (Contemporary Art, Pg. 553)
Contemporary Art: Existentialism, Color Field André Masson (1896-1966), French surrealist poet and painter Joan Miró (1896-1987) Spanish surrealist Roberto Matta (1911-2002) Chile's surrealist Mark Rothko (1903–70) American painter Barnet Newman (1905-1970) American painter Published online: October 1, 2010
> > > > > Defining Vacant Space by Rozita Fogelman What are the philosophical principles of ”threshold art”? Defining a space that captures the energy of vacated space is the philosophical principle of “threshold art”. It is a spiritual passage, and requires one’s slowing down for fully present observation. A main principle of “threshold art” is to evoke the basic human senses, perhaps one sense at a time. Threshold Art marked the seeing of the unseen and the unknown, it also evoked lost and absent feelings, or sense of touch resembling a smell, or the sound of soundless empty space.
In Robert Irwin’s (b. 1946) installation in Venice, California 1980 the entire front of a boutique was knocked down and “put up scrim (a translucent kind of sail cloth) in its place. The indoor light from the two skylights filtered though the scrim creating an internal glow that changed in intensity and value (light/ dark scale) through the day. Set up in a very run down and hyperactive neighborhood of Venice, the spectators had to notice that there was a slight alteration in one of the store fronts and then stop to actually contemplate the piece.” (Installation and Earth Art, Dr. Mark Levy Pg. 13)
In Mapping Spaces, 1987, James Turrell (b. 1943) constructed by sculpting a vacant space by using light, as he described: “By making something out of light with light filling space, I am concerned with issue of how we perceive. It’s not only a reaction to things physical. For me, working with light in large spaces was more a desire to work in greater realms, a desire that art not be limited to the European structure of works on canvas… The work I do does not have to do with science or demonstrations of scientific principles. My work has to do with perception—how we see and how we perceive… My work is about space and the light that inhabits it.”
This emptiness cannot be bought or sold. It’s goes behind existence of the substance. It is an opening to see the absence of the substance and its materialistic means. It is an opening to the lost and reminiscent.
Contemporary Art:Robert Irwin (b. 1946) James Turrell (b. 1943) Published online: October 22, 2010
Did you know? Art lovers and viewers like you are my largest single source of support.