Archive for May, 2008

I have been thinking a lot about advertising lately mainly because I am infuriated by one of ALAC’s TV ads and the response from them and from the ASA over complaints. Read here if you want the background but the idiocy and poor process astounds me.

However this is an art blog and the commercialism often evident in the artworld made me think of the cross-over into advertising. Seeing Tracey Emin’s line of Longchamp bags is somewhat bemusing but I guess various other artists have “cashed in”. Of course Warhol and Bill Apple were advertising artists before switching to fine art (although did they really?)

International Woman Suitcase– Tracey Emin (£1830)

Other examples welcomed in the comments….And just for fun here is an “Is it Art or Advertising?” link.

Today I read a great post by Edward Winkleman about the ‘general public’ (that’s me!) and their difficulties with contemporary art. He quotes Matisse

“When a painting is finished, it’s like a new born child, and the artist himself must have time for understanding. How then, do you expect an amateur to understand that which the artist does not yet comprehend?”
“Matisse Speaks,” June 3, 1933

Winkleman goes on to say “the observation that the general public, which is frequently cited as not really getting (i.e., liking) much of contemporary art, might be getting a bum rap on that.”  which is nice – the post is really worth a read for more thoughts along these lines and where the artists should be looking for reaction.

Tomorrow it looks like I will be able to get to Te Manawa again. I am looking forward to seeing Landed in particular. There is also a John Bevan Ford exhibition on though. I am not a big fan of Ford, mainly because what I’ve seen is all “samey” but I am hoping this show will offer a wider view. Maybe I am missing something as a relative-in-law is making a special trip to see this exhibition in a few months because she loves his work she owns a few pieces. However she seems to like these works more now that “they are worth so much more because he’s dead” which although true seems a little gruesome.

Lake WaihoraJohn Bevan Ford

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Art for Food

I seem to have generated some interest by mentioning my proposed chutney for poetry exchange. Really I am only honouring a long tradition of trading art for food. I believe the bards and minstrels of old would exchange their epics, stories and songs for food and lodging and there are plenty of examples including more recent ones. Many down-on-their-luck artists (and I imagine poets and writers) have exchanged their art for a crust. This Venice Beach cafe showcases “art from numerous Venice artists such as Ed Ruscha, Dennis Hopper and Robert Graham (trading art for food is a Venice tradition)” and landscape painter Jim Mott did a whole 10,000 mile road trip (which he called the Itinerant Artist Project) by exchanging paintings for room and board.

Our Daily Bread by Elizabeth Harris-Nichols

Payment in kind makes a lot of sense to me and in Mexicoin 1957, painter David Alfaro Siqueiros proposed that artists in Mexico be allowed to pay taxes with their work. Half a century later, this idea has given rise to one of the world’s most important collections of contemporary art.” Mind you I guess you’d have to be earning enough to need to pay tax in the first place!

And here in New Zealand when the Mangamahu Possum painting was listed for sale on Trademe, there was discussion in the comments about a tradition of leaving artwork in payment for lodgings (although a bit of a stretch in that case I think). I am certain there are many examples.

Tuna Can – Dick Frizzell

This talk of exchange and barter might be a sign of things to come, you know with peak oil and all. In the meantime I am calculating how many jars of preserves I will need to swap for a modest McCahon. And I promise that this will be the last of domestica for a bit.

NOTE: I have removed Sam Hunt from my linky list because I heard him (or a good mimic) doing an ad for Cobb and Co. today on TV – though maybe he got paid in steak and beer?

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Keep on Trekking

Well here we are . Post #100 and nothing very startling to write. I have been a bit preoccupied getting an assignment off in the post and torturing people with the following piece of my own wisdom

“I figure modern poetry is a bit like contemporary art – who is to say what is valid or not? If you can park a Trekka at the Biennale and call it art then well….pretty much anything you write could be called a poem and certainly literature.”

If you’ve been on the recieving end – sorry. And to be honest my family owned a Trekka at one point.

Michael Stevenson – This is Trekka

All sorts of interesting stuff has been appearing on my feed reader and in my inbox. I am very ‘aware’ of street and guerilla art right now so Wooster Collective has been making my day, but Overspray pointed me to this, the Inner City Snail Project and the best tagging images yet.

And for those of you who ARE interested in preserves (and the chutney for poetry project), I am at the stage of doing a final clean on the very hard to find jars and making my own labels. Fruit and vege prepped and ready.

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Well I’ve been blogging for 6 months now and I am surprised that I’ve kept it up. It even appears that this is post #99. Woohoo!

I have some observations. No matter what your intent, content evolves and changes over time. I find myself wanting to write about all sorts of more political things right now, so maybe another blog will be forthcoming. But then who really cares about my trials with chutney? And as is often the case with this blog other people have already put what I want to say into words. Take the Bill Henson fracas for example, which Best of 3 covered succinctly today.

The blogosphere, as someone put in the comments on a now deleted Poneke post, is like having the Listener next to Penthouse in the dairy – you choose what you pick up. Tumeke’s NZ blogosphere rating system gives you an indication about whats out there and being read in news and politics. But on a quick calculation today, this blog and no doubt several other art blogs much more so, would rank well up the list and do better in international traffic (Over the Net for example). Its always great when people comment and interact too – a little external validation goes a long way.

And (because I am tired), it’s a little weird when you get into the “friend or fan” situation (reality jockeying?). When you get to know people on line through reading them or them reading you and then an advance is made to actually meet – in.real.life. Reactions vary, but usually in the negative and isn’t it all a bit stalkerish? Maybe, but I am no Rose.

And lastly a photo just because I think its good – it’s from a Real Estate advertisement (note the trademe logo). Art iswhere you find it, but a chocie fish to anyone who can identify the location.

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Much smaller rant

Last week on Campbell live there was an item about a pharmacist in Mt Manganui that had put up an amusing sign on her shop after it was tagged right across the front. The sign was quite funny (News item here) but they interviewed a guy (a customer?) who complained about unsightly tagging on the backs of industrial buildings. He DID say that there was some legitimate street art and talented artists out there but really what is the problem with covering grey walls? Ok vandalism in breaking windows and stuff yeah a problem, but writing on the backs of factories? I am obviously missing something.

I say

by Component

and yeah I am starting to see a pattern here about my newly emerging art passions…

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I am in a particularly bad mood today so small things are annoying me. I picked up the latest copy of the Listener to find MORE art journalism and I am going to be mean about it. Actually one of the reasons I dont’ do review and critique very well is that I don’t like upsetting people but today I am throwing caution to the wind.

Lindsay Rabbitt has written a 3 page article (albeit with a large illustration of ‘Closing In’) about Seraphine Pick and secondarily about her work.  Now I am one of the people in the world that thinks there is too much art journalism and not enough critique. This has been voiced by at least three other people this week with far more standing than me, Andrew Paul Wood, Mark Amery and yesterday Max Gimblett in a quite marvellous interview on Saturdays with Kim Hill. It appears this is down to marketing and branding and the Listener article symbolises for me what is wrong with a fair amount of art writing.

So what is wrong? Well I am sick of hearing ‘about the artist’ and want to hear about the work. Yes there is a small amount of commentary, but it plays second fiddle to the artist. Also the timing of the article is simply weird. The show at the Mahara has finished and is now at the Sarjeant Gallery in Wanganui “in an abbreviated form” so you missed out if you wanted to see all of it. That may not be a bad thing though (see below).

And yes maybe this is the pot calling the kettle black because of my writing this blog, but I haven’t got the breadth and depth of expereince or knowledge to be able to critique in a constructive manner. If you want an uneducated opinion, I find Pick’s work uneven. Some startling pieces (as Rabbitt suggested ‘Surface Paradise’ is good) but at least in the ‘After Image’ exhibition it’s surrounded by stuff I didn’t like at all and wondered why it was on the walls as they seemed to be preparatory sketches or musings, ideas not fully formed. I take it that this is a new direction but I guess I just don’t ‘get it’.

On a more pleasant note the Max Gimblett interview mentioned above was a joy. I was going to write more about it but Jacky B at Passages  has done it so well. She writes “[I was] moved in many ways, even by the sound of his voice inflected by emotion, speaking truths, baring his soul. But most of all in the way he described his eschewing of audience, of working to something internal, perhaps a kind of inner muse.”  I have read some vitriolic criticism of Gimblett this week so was very pleasantly surprised. The interview audio should be on the Radio NZ website here for the next 6 weeks or so.

Ah ha you say  – the Gimblett interview is just more art journalism and that could be true, but I think it had a lot more to say about his art and art in general than the piece on Pick.

Page from Yoke (2001) A unique artist’s book

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Comfort Art

The days are much shorter here now and the weather a little cooler. Today there is pot of ham and lentil soup in the making and rugby on the go. We have been having a lot of ‘comfort food’ lately which while curled up with a blanket by the fire (what a nana) made me think of ‘comfort art’.

While I doubt any artist wants to be identified as the bread and butter pudding of the art world, in my life I often retreat to what is familiar, warming and a little nostalgic. For the most part, I like to be challenged and provoked and made to think by art, but some days its all too much and I fall back on old favourites. I don’t think these are generic artworks and my favourites would be rather different than someone else’s choices and in fact might be the opposite of comforting for another. I think this feeling is possibly why painting continues on even though every one keeps saying its dead. Perhaps what I have nostalgia for will be seen in 30 or 50 years time in the same light as the Constable print of “The Haywain” my Grandmother had on her wall.

Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup Can – Comfort Food/Art?

Art Movies
I have almost accidentally accumulated a small collection of dramatised movies about artists. While some are not so great, Frida, Basquiat and Pollock are excellent. Here is a very short list – please comment if you have any others to add (reviews would excellent too). Documentaries too if you want.

Goya’s Ghosts
Surviving Picasso
Love is the Devil (Bacon)
Girl with a Pearl Earring (Vermeer)

BTW – what’s happened to Artbash???

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