July 30, 2012

Symbolist landscapes in Scotland, including Munch, Gauguin and Ensor

At one point in my painting life, I was drawn obsessively to Symbolist landscape painting, and I'm still rather fond of it. This summer, the National Galleries of Scotland has mounted a show in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum and the Ateneum Art Museum Finnish National Gallery to organize a big exhibition of Symbolist landscape paintings from the turn of the 20th century, featuring work by Van Gogh, Mondrian, Munch and Kandinsky as well as "a number of less familiar but brilliantly inventive artists" from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Rejecting the non-objective materiality of abstraction, the Symbolists focused on dreams, visions, moods, spiritulaity, and feelings, mining landscape imagery for its infinite metaphorical possibilities. Oh, the dark landscapes I used to make --sort of a mash up of Barbizon School pastoral imagery with Ellsworth Kelly's monochromatic panel installations. I'll have to dig up some old jpegs...

 Edvard Munch, Melancholy, 1894/96, oil on canvas, 81 x 100.5 cm, Rasmus Meyer Collection, The Bergen Art Museum, RMS.M.249, © 2008 The Munch Museum / The Munch-Ellingsen Group / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

 James Ensor, Christ Calming the Storm, 1891, oil on canvas, Kunstmuseum aan zee (Netherlands)

Akseli Gallen-Kallela, The Broken Pine, 1906, oil on Canvas, 124 × 137cm, Ateneum Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery/Central Art Archives/Petri Virtanen

But anyway, from the press materials:

The exhibition is organized into the following six themes:
  • Ancient and new paradises: Artists like Böcklin, Von Stuck and Puvis de Chavannes took inspiration from classical antiquity and mythology. Others, such as Signac and Gauguin, looked for paradise in unspoiled places far away from modern society.
  • Nature and suggestion: Rather than just faithfully representing reality, landscapes by Symbolists such as Gallen-Kallela, Sohlberg and Hodler also reflect the feelings that nature evoked in the artist.
  • Dreams and visions: Gauguin, Munch and Malczewski tried to open the gates to the unconscious mind. They painted dreams and visions, the world beneath the surface of observable reality.
  • Silent cities: Many Symbolist artists saw modern city life as a threat. Whistler, Degouve de Nuncques and Khnopff transformed the city into a mysterious, dreamlike landscape born of memory and imagination.
  • The cosmos: Through their landscapes, painters such as Watts, Van Gogh and Willumsen expressed their ideas about natural forces, cosmic energy, the eternal cycle of the seasons and the insignificance of human beings in the face of nature.
  • Into the mystic: In their quest to express the sublime and spiritual, many artists (such as Whistler, Signac and Ciurlionis) drew connections between painting and music, while others (like Mondrian and Kandinsky) took the first steps towards abstraction.
I might have to send for the catalog, Dreams of nature: Symbolism from Van Gogh to Kandinsky with essays by by Rodolphe Rapetti, Richard Thomson, Frances Fowle and Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff
According to the press release, the authors "present an entirely new perspective," from the precursors of symbolism, such as Böcklin and Whistler, to Mondrian and Kandinsky.


At Art & Antiques, check out a conversation about the exhibition with Edwin Becker, chief curator at the Van Gogh Museum.

On Two Coats TV, watch a video tour.

Paul Gauguin, Martinique Landscape, 1887, oil on canvas, 115.00 x 88.50 cm, National Gallery of Scotland

John Everett Millais, Dew-Drenched Furze, 1889-1890, oil on canvas, 173.2 × 123 cm, Tate, London. Presented by Geoffroy Millais in memory of his late father, Sir Ralph Millais Bt 2009.

Vincent van Gogh, Wheatfield with Reaper, 1889, oil on canvas, 73 × 92 cm, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Wassily Kandinsky, Cossacks, 1910–11, oil on canvas, 94.6 x 130.2 cm, Tate, London, Photography © Tate, London 2011

Van Gogh to Kandinsky: Symbolist Landscape in Europe 1880-1910, curated by Rodolphe Rapetti, an expert in landscapes and symbolism, and fellow art historian Richard Thomson, who is a professor at the University of Edinburgh. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland. Through October 14, 2012. The exhibition, which originally debuted at the Van Gogh Museum this past February,  will be at the Ateneum Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, November 16,  2012 through February 13, 2013.


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July 28, 2012

What is "bad" painting?

Yesterday Michael H. Miller from GalleristNY was clicking through the New Museum's recently expanded digital archive and found images from "Bad Painting," a 1978 exhibition that included work by James Albertson,Joan Brown, Eduardo Carrillo, James Chatelain, William Copley, Charles Garabedian, Robert Chambless Hendon,Joseph Hilton, Neil Jenney, Judith Linhares, P. Walter Siler, Earl Staley, Shari Urquhart, and William Wegman. 

 Judith Linhares

 Charles Garabedian

According to the original press materials, the exhibition focuses on work that "raises several controversial issues about the nature and use of imagery in recent American art. The artists whose work will be shown have discarded classical drawing modes in order to present a humorous, often sardonic, intensely personal view of the world..."

Miller concludes in his post that "it’s nice to see an exhibition where the bad paintings are ironic rather than just, you know, actually bad." Rather than ending his piece with a gratuitous swipe at contemporary painting, perhaps he should have offered some specific examples, because the changing nature of what we consider bad painting is a fascinating subject for a good discussion. If these paintings, which generally tend to mash-up surrealism and humorous fantasy imagery, were considered "bad" in the 1970s, what would be considered "bad" today?


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July 27, 2012

SOLOWAY Bazaar: One day only!

I love this poster (click to see the entire image). Tomorrow, July 28, Check out the BAZAAR, 1:00 - 6:00pm, rain or shine

Buy art from The Museum of Commerce, Hayden Dunham, Josh Hart and Emily Auchinchloss, Graham Collins and Jennie Lee, Tova Carlin, DRAOK, Noah Dillon, Megan Kincheloe, Hannah, Barret, Laurel Sparks, Sophy Naess, Carmelle Safdie, Glen Baldridge, Louise Sheldon, Sue Havens, Jessie Stead, Fawn Krieger, Munro Galloway, Pat Palermo, Branden Koch, Annette Wehrhahn

SOLOWAY / 348 South 4th Street/  Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

Related posts: 


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New American Painting poll: Most significant painter to emerge since 2000

In a new online poll, New American Painting wants readers to vote for the most significant painter to emerge since 2000. Here is the preliminary list they have compiled, but readers can vote for other painters in the comments section. Who have they forgotten?

 Chris Martin

Richard Aldrich
Tauba Auerbach
Mark Bradford
Joe Bradley
Nicole Eisenman
Mark Grotjahn
Wade Guyton
Julie Mehretu
R.H. Quaytman
Sterling Ruby
Dana Schutz


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July 24, 2012

Quick Study: Summer edition with job postings, general musings (and lots of links)

For the past few weeks, disgusted by artworld shenanigans, posting has been relatively slow while I enjoy a more leisurely summer pace, but I've continued to update the Two Coats Twitter feed and post images at @ Grattan and O, my Tumblr journal. Here are a number of links, images, job postings, and more that might interest readers, who, according to my stat reports, seem to be vacationing all over the world. (NOTE: For those unfamiliar with Twitter, "RT" indicates the item has been repeated, or "retweeted," from someone else's Twitter feed.)

New bike shop opened TODAY in Bushwick,just around the corner from my studio! :D
FYI, I do HAVE IT ALL. Just sayin. In case anyone was wondering. But does that simply mean I'm not ambitious enough? http://bit.ly/NAstqO
And @RealArtWays is looking for a Visual Arts Manager http://www.realartways.org/opportunities.htm / (Save the date: My show at RAW opens SEPTEMBER 20)
The Big Black Hole of Time Suck: Exploring all the Brooklyn artists who registered for Brooklyn Museum's Go open studios, September 8 and 9 / Yes, I registered, so save the date and stop by Two Coats HQ to say hello.
Call for proposals at ARTSPACE New Haven (readymade culture, daily environment, etc. Includes HONORARIUM) http://bit.ly/NIXn1i

 Goethe's Colour Triangle 

Contemplating Goethe's Theory of Colours, online courtesy of Google Books! http://bit.ly/MJmYTk 
Brutal! RT @LMagArt: Einstein's list of demands to his wife: http://bit.ly/IJQogs
Yeah-color! That's what I'm talkin about RT @Pocketopia: Pocket Utopia: "Lyrical Color" Wed. July 25, 6-8pm

Wow--riding my new bike around DC, I just ran into Simon Draper who's putting up a couple Habitat for Artist sheds outside the Corcoran. Remember when I spent the summer working in one of his shacks in Beacon, NY, and made a book about it? 
Amzing image at top: 1976 beach structure designed by German engineer Ulrich Müther and architect Dietrich Otto, in Binz, on the German island of Rügen. (via Bedsearcher)


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Happy Birthday, Alex Katz

I learned via artnet's Twitter feed that today is Alex Katz birthday, so to celebrate, here are some images from "Alex Katz: Maine/New York," an exhibition at the Colby Museum of Art that runs through December 30. Curated by Carter Ratcliff, and including work from 1950 to the present, the show includes 28 paintings and a sculpture that focus on quintessential country/city themes such as New York interiors, night time cityscapes and rural settings. Katz attended Skowhegan in 1949, and has continued to visit Maine ever since, spending summers in the little town of Lincolnville. For me, his paintings, like the photographs in the Crate and Barrel summer catalog, unleash a yearning for contented family life, gracious entertaining, quiet evenings spent among friends sipping wine on the screened-in porch, listening to the crickets and talking about art. I guess for some, that illusive idyll really does exist.

Alex Katz, Tracy on the Raft at 7:30, 1982, oil on on canvas, gift of the artist, Colby College Museum of Art.
Alex Katz, Ada's Black Sandals, 1987, oil on canvas, gift of the artist, Colby College Museum of Art.
Alex Katz, West 2, 1998, oil on canvas,126 in. x 240 inches, promised gift of the artist, Colby College Museum of Art.

Related posts:
Alex Katz's "delicate craquelure"
Alex Katz on supersizing
Ada and Alex Katz donate paintings from their collection to Colby College Museum of Art


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July 15, 2012

When old-school is new: Michelle Segre at Derek Eller

At The Brooklyn Rail this month, Elizabeth Baker, former editor of Art in America, served as guest editor to the Art section, asking contributors to consider the question, "What's new?" Writing in her introduction she suggested that
Among the artists, words like “progress,” “innovation,” and “originality” barely crop up. Yet it’s clear that today’s artists are taking the conditions of the art world and the society in which they live and finding ways to make art that is distinctly their own. That, for them, is what “new” means. Perhaps it’s time to give up the expectation of a millennial eruption of novel forms and/or strategies and look critically and carefully at what actually surrounds us.
In a review of Michelle Segre's show at Derek Eller, I considered the fashionable cult of bigness and super-monumentalism.
A great deal of recent art found in global biennials and blue-chip galleries (think of Damien Hirst’s spots or Kehinde Wiley’s portraits) is made by teams of acolytes under an art superstar’s supervision. By definition, this kind of outsourcing is not possible unless the work is formulaic—which means the artist must subordinate the risk-taking, experimental phase of the artmaking process, the stage in which an artist asks the simple question “What if…?” Replacing this is a corporate model that implicitly values production and efficiency over inspiration and insight. In a recent Art in America article, Ossian Ward suggests that these marquee artists, making ever bigger and more extravagant projects, are engaged in a kind of super-monumentalism. “I think artist colleagues fear that they will be pushed in the corner and forgotten,” Thomas Schutte tells Ward. “It’s competing with Hollywood: Who has got the biggest? Who has the longest? Who is the richest?”

Arguably, the inner need for discovery that compelled the artists to make art in the first place has given way to a penchant for spectacle. For artists working in this theatrical mode, making work is about many things—ensuring placement in museums and prominent collections, perpetuating fame, maintaining a lifestyle—but perhaps not so much about the work itself. There is no question what the materials will be used for. The final outcome is a given.

From this perspective, Michelle Segre is gratifyingly old-school. The question “What if…?” permeates each piece in Lost Songs of the Filament, her affably invigorating installation at Derek Eller. Large-scale, idiosyncratic sculptures handmade with wire, thread, metal mesh...  READ MORE.
Image at top: Michelle Segre, Godzeye, 2011, metal, plastic lace, yarn, thread, rocks, acrylic, plasticine, plaster, mailbox, 102 x 42 x 35 inches. Courtesy of Derek Eller.


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July 1, 2012

Crazy busy

Yesterday in the NYTimes, Tim Kreider wrote an op-ed that will ring true for plenty of artists.
If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite...."

Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work. They schedule in time with friends the way students with 4.0 G.P.A.’s  make sure to sign up for community service because it looks good on their college applications....
The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it. Not long ago I  Skyped with a friend who was driven out of the city by high rent and now has an artist’s residency in a small town in the south of France. She described herself as happy and relaxed for the first time in years. She still gets her work done, but it doesn’t consume her entire day and brain. She says it feels like college — she has a big circle of friends who all go out to the cafe together every night. She has a boyfriend again. (She once ruefully summarized dating in New York: “Everyone’s too busy and everyone thinks they can do better.”) What she had mistakenly assumed was her personality — driven, cranky, anxious and sad — turned out to be a deformative effect of her environment. It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this, any more than any one person wants to be part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school — it’s something we collectively force one another to do... Read more(if you have time)
So let's just stop updating everything, preparing for shows, teaching, going to openings, reviewing shows, posting, responding to email, and, you know,  have a few beers....

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Field with Flowers near Arles, 1888, oil on Canvas, 54 X 65 cm, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Stichting)


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How many artists live and/or work in Brooklyn?

Inspired by all the open studio events and the ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, The Brooklyn Museum is organizing a crowd-curated exhibition of Brooklyn artists. Called GO, the the exhibition requires artists to register by submitting images and information to a database, participating in an open studio weekend in September, and then encouraging friends and family to submit nominations for their inclusion in the exhibition. Of course, only a small percentage of the more than 1000 participating artists will be selected for the exhibition, and thus many artists have decided not to take part, but I encourage all Brooklyn artists to register--not because they may be selected for the show (they probably won't be), but to be part of this historic database of Brooklyn artists. The database promises to be an amazing portrait of the art community. And imagine: If anyone knew exactly how many artists lived and/or worked in Brooklyn, maybe they would garner more political clout. A database like this could help.

Yesterday I received a note (sent to all registered artists, I imagine) from GO co-organizer Shelly Bernstein. Due to the recent power outages in the mid-Atlantic region, the June 29 deadline has been extended to July 10.


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