Saturday, September 26, 2009

Paper Topic - Daniel Brice and Udo Noger

Working on my paper and posting these images so that I can easily refer to them via my browser.

Interestingly, I was unmoved by (and frankly haven't seen a whole lot of) "abstract expressionism" that I saw at galleries recently.

I was, however, very intrigued by two minimalists I saw, which will be the focus of my paper I'm writing this weekend.

Daniel Brice:

From Paper Images

From Paper Images

and Udo Noger:

From Paper Images

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Research paper #1 feedback

Premonitions of fall.
Simcha, my new dog

Got feedback from Laurel (my advisor) today on my first research paper. Thumbs up.

Here are some points:

-Continue to mine the topic of what it means to be making abstract expressionist paintings in 2009.
-The premise for the UCLA Hammer show, "Oranges and Sardines" is based on dialogue among contemporary abstract painters and their influences.
-Read Jonathan Lethem's essay "The Ecstasy of Influence: a Plagiarism"(Harper's, Feb 2007, 59-71.

I've read "Oranges and Sardines", and will pull it out again this evening.
I downloaded Lethem's article and I'm reading it right after I post.

The title of the exhibit is based on a poem by Frank O'Hara, "Why I Am Not A Painter".

I 'fessed to Laurel that I am really in some kind of funky crisis now, proposed some ideas for breaking out...

Tonight I'm spending 1-2 hours reading, the rest of the evening painting.

Here is the Frank O'Hara poem (I'll bet I'm breaking this may disappear after I do some looking around).
You can see Michael Goldberg's work (the painter who painted "Sardines") here.

Michael Goldberg, Sardines, 1955. National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Why I Am Not a Painter

by Frank O'Hara

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
“Sit down and have a drink” he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. “You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”
“Oh.” I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. “Where’s SARDINES?”
All that’s left is just
letters, “It was too much,” Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.

Frank O’Hara, “Why I Am Not a Painter” from The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Copyright 1971 by Mauren Granville-Smith, Administratrix of the Estate of Frank O'Hara. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc,

Source: The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara (1995)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Back to basics

I've decided for the next week to just do color studies. No paintings. If I get inspired, well... maybe.

I've relied so much on my intuitive sense of color--nothing wrong with that, but I think it can get me in to some conundrums with the way I currently work, especially on the big canvases. Got out my "Art Fundamentals" book from undergrad this afternoon. It's interesting to realize that I may not have a really firm grasp on some fundamental tools at this stage in the game. I think though that if I dig in on this, I'll have more control over my paintings as a result.

Mentor meeting 9/11/09

This morning I had a very productive meeting with my mentor.

Here are some of the main points (paraphrased into my words):

(1) Wooden Cow Gallery. Consider not exhibiting. I'm not ready. Think about (a) whether I want work out there that's not quite ready for prime-time? (b) is it a distraction from my work as a student? My time is still very limited. Can I afford the distraction?

(2) Develop a better understanding of the fundamentals: color, space, light and dark. Widen my palette and reach further into the colors. Do basic color theory exercises/color mixing.

(3) Simplify my sources. Get away from the art historical references for now. Grab a handful of stuff, throw it on the floor, paint it. Get back to nature. Rendering. My work is abstraction, and refers to the figure and to nature. By working from pictures of pictures, I may not be connecting to the energy I feel when working directly from the source. Combining images right now might be biting off too much. Get back to the basics.

(4) Explore other painting surfaces and materials -- paper, cardboard, burlap. Use different tools -- scratch things out -- use knives, forks, twigs...experiment.

(5) Work smaller. The larger scale takes a long time to develop, and I may be tackling too many things at once. Work with the small 12"x12", work on smaller paper, try the 34"x34" size.

Regarding the paintings I am working on:

From 30 Day Painting #1 (June/July 2009)

Colors not working very well. Page suggested that purple is a difficult color -- it kills everything. There's an all over quality. Similar brush strokes, sizes of shapes. There are a few areas that just aren't visually interesting. I had gone back in yesterday and started adding more structure and some linear elements. I'm going back in and getting rid of the purple, looking at making a more atmospheric background that references sky and landscape. Look at color wheel--stick in the green,blue-green, blue+complement(red-orange).

From Radha Inviting Rubens to her Pavillion

In the Rahda painting, I am not going to do much more. I think I've learned a lot from this painting and it's almost done. It is working better color-wise than the other painting -- probably because I stuck with primary complements. I want to go back in and break up some of the fleshy color blobs in the middle, and bring more blue, as Page suggested, into the bottom right and work on the blue in the top left.

From Painting 8/17/09

This is an example of the size painting I want to do more off.
From September

Page suggested getting rid of the peach color -- that it doesn't work with the blues and greens. Maybe flip it upside down so that the sky is on the bottom. Really work on creating space. Keep staying away from white.

Page let me borrow two issues of "Studio Visit" magazine.

Here are links to some artists (well, lots of artists, but I want to document them so that I'll have the reference when I give the books back):

Derek Buckner
Kylie Heidenheimer
Leslie Hirst
Ebenezer Archer Kling
Janet Lage
Marlene DiFiori Locke
Debbie Likley Pacheco
Sarah Bliss
Diane Hoffman
Carianne Mack
Bobbi Meier
Beatricia Sagar
Helen Sherry

Outside my style, but I also like:
Marie Van Elder
Deborah Hamon
Freya Grand

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thomas Nozkowski - Revisited

This video is also worth wathching:

I *think* it's a father with his son. But it makes you realize, as a painter, how you are continually absorbing the visual elements in your environment. And how rich and infitite it all is. I particularly love how Nozkowksi looks at a curved element and says it's the brambled brush to the right that makes it interesting. And the circles of the moss. We live in such a rich and generous world that feeds us whatever we are open to receiving... he says, "what is your sensibility?". We have such a luminous feast everywhere for our artist eyes. I love it. I just love all the things I see... I was reading something earlier today that is related -- written by Nozkowski about an author who spoke of his novel originating from a spoon-shaped puddle. I am not going to take the time to be correct and proper now... but it is so beautiful and truly sublime that we, all of us, can be affected by a simple arc of a color or a line or a shape or a gesture. I personally don't care if the artist can articulate it to me... if they show it to me, I am grateful. I connect, and no more need be said. There is such infinite beauty in our world. I wonder if what I'd really like to explore during this two years isn't aesthestics.

Melanie Authier/Inspiration


Oh, did I say I LOVE her? I mean...Melanie. Betsy, I love YOU for sending the link :-)

Betsy Duzan from the AIB MFA program sent me a link to this painter's work.

Here are images of Melanie Authier's wonderful paintings:

Melanie Authier

From Painters I am looking at (Fall 2009/Semester 1)

From Painters I am looking at (Fall 2009/Semester 1)

OK. I am going to challenge myself. Why have I fallen in love?

It is the crazy perspective, the play with space and distance, the messing with form and shape and shadow and perspecive. The totally cool color. I can learn alot from these paintings. More later.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

30 Day - Different every day

I have been working on the "30-day" painting yesterday and today.

Here is the end of the day [Feedback so far: "Did Walt Disney vomit?" Maybe I've been hanging out too much in 6-year-old girl land (aka Hannah Montana/High School Musical land). This one either gets gessoed over, or I am going to scrape down my palette and start with a different color scheme:

From 30 Day Painting #1 (June/July 2009)

Here is this morning:

From 30 Day Painting #1 (June/July 2009)

Here is yesterday:

From 30 Day Painting #1 (June/July 2009)

Dave "hates" it: it's not me and it's a jumble of styles and energies. I don't hate it, but it does feel frustrating to have something be new every day...sisyphusian. And I mean that in the sense that I feel I could literally work on this every day for the whole semester and every day it would transform into something new.

I'm annoyed with myself about my attitude today: phusy. I need a mind-shift so I can get back to enjoying painting again. I just remembered that the point of this painting was to see how my energy shifts from day to day. So, it is serving it's purpose.

I may keep working on this painting, of just shift gears. It's a truly beautiful day here in New Mexico. Early fall has these bright blue skies, light breeze, the air smells a little fresher, a little lighter. I've got good music playing, four hours to myself.

Another one in progress:
From September

Friday, September 4, 2009

Article on Thomas Nozkowski, "Do you see what I see? No? Good"

Thinking about Abstract Expressionism, reading the Wendy White interview, and some browsing led me to Thomas Nozkowski.

Here is a link to a video of Nozkowski discussing his process.

What richness.

Wendy White cites Nozkowski as an influence on her as a student at Rutgers, stating in her interview with Qi Peng in the SLC Fine Arts Examiner, "Thomas Nozkowski had just started teaching there and was the first person to really challenge me. He was also the first person to talk about painting in a way that didn’t make me bored or irritated. He talked about feelings instead of technique. It was like, finally."

I just finished reading a review of Nozkowski's retrospective (I need a private jet) at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) by Sarah Milroy titled, "Do you see what I see? No? Good" at

After a few days stewing in critical theory, I found excerpts from interviews with Nozkowski to be reinvigorating and restorative. For example: “All of us are interested in having an un-alienated life,” he says. “What is the point of having a craft if you cannot use it to speak about the things that interest you outside the studio?” (Milroy).

The description of the NGC exhibit states that Nozkowski's forms come from "things or impressions in his daily life and experience." To avoid leading the viewer's interpretation, he leaves his paintings untitled--each is coded with a number.

And, Milroy writes, Nozkowski states that at a point in his painting practice, he overtly chose to paint paintings that he could see hanging the apartments of people he knew (rather than the walls of corporations and galleries).

Further in the interview, Milroy describes how Nozkowski embraces art history as his teacher, spending months "with an artist" in his studio -- in this case Watteau -- loking at style, colors, palettes. Milroy quotes Nozkowski on Abstract Expressionism: “And, like everybody else,” he adds, “I worship de Kooning. The great thing about Abstract Expressionism was that it was a movement in depth. Even when you get down to the second or third tier of artists, you are still looking at great paintings. If you get to experience a movement in full like that in your lifetime, you are lucky.”

And finally, my favorite statement in the article comes when Milroy asks him, "what can painting do that nothing else can?", he responds "There is no other tool that can unite images and emotions so efficiently, that can bring together what you see and what you feel about it. Painting is really about pursuing what you desire. I mean, we all walk down the street, but we see completely different things. Here we are, sharing DNA and two million years of evolutionary history. Why is it that you are looking over there and I'm looking over here?” Maybe painting, and the discussion around it, provides the long answer to that question."

I am reminded of the analogy in Leo Steinberg's essay, "Contemporary Art and the Plight of Its Public", comparing contemporary art to "manna in the desert", leaving the reader with this command: to make "each day's gathering an act of faith".

Milroy, Sarah. "Do you see what I see? No? Good". Web. 26 August 2009. (© CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved).

Peng, Qi. "Exclusive Assassination: Wendy White, Artist Represented by Leo Koenig, Inc." Salt Lake City Fine Arts Examiner. Web. 22 July 2009).

Other articles:

"Thomas Nozkowski", by Francine Prose, BOMB 65/Fall 1998, ART

"Thomas Nozkowski", by John Yau, The Brooklyn Rail, July/August 2006.

"Letters to a Young Artist: Thomas Nozkowski", Saatchi Gallery online.

Critical Theory I Paper

Jill Christian
Advisor: Laurel Sparks
Critical Theory I Paper

In the quiet, private space of my studio, I look at a painting I am working on—gestural, suggestive of the figure, abstract expressionistic in style (perhaps not entirely original, I think)—and I recall a statement from the June Critical Theory seminar. That painting today is barely visible on the horizon; art today is in the media, the Internet. It is now part of the entertainment industry and we are cynical about it (Steck). And, thinking about this, I feel a certain anxiety similar to that described by Leo Steinberg in his essay, “Contemporary Art and the Plight of Its Public,” “…a sense of loss, of sudden exile, of something willfully denied—sometimes a feeling that one’s accumulated culture or experience is hopelessly devalued, leaving one exposed to spiritual destitution” (7). Nevertheless, I feel, like Steinberg, that this is somehow “all right”.

Over the past month, in response to the Critical Theory seminar and readings, I have been thinking about how I participate in a “collaboration with culture” and how I have been indoctrinated by the culture I live and work in—specifically the culture of art school, art institutions, and art history. I have also been revisiting and exploring in new ways the history of Abstract Expressionism, one of my primary influences as a painter.

I came to Abstract Expressionism in a linear progression. As a child, I began like every other child drawing and painting the things I saw around me: my family, my house, the trees, the sky. As a teenager I turned to portraiture, obsessively copying images of faces I saw in fashion magazines. Once in formal art classes as a college student, I first drew and painted still lifes, landscapes, and figures—as realistically as I could. Then, as I was exposed to more formal art history, I tried on various styles and approaches: Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism. My education and experiments roughly followed the narrative of art history described by Mary Anne Staniszewksi in Believing Is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art: “The story of Modern Art, until the beginning of the twentieth century, is one of gradual development, from realistic, illusionistic representations to more abstract, ‘ideal’ images “(183). In my travels along this path of stylistic “development”, I arrived finally at Abstract Expressionism.

I was particularly drawn to Action Painting. There was something about the vitality I felt when painting in this manner—using broad gestures, physically moving around the canvas, and intuitively grabbing colors off the palette. Working in this way gave me permission to physically and authoritatively “attack” my subject matter (which was particularly liberating to me as quiet person, generally more comfortable listening than expressing). I fell hard for what Ann Eden Gibson calls “the myth of Abstract Expressionism’s creative vigor, originality, and force” (xxiii). I was enthralled with the personas I encountered in reading about the movement and the historical time period—a time of intense intellectual activity and rugged individualism, with artists creating new, vibrant, monumental, energy-filled works of art. Though, perhaps not so new after all. Staniszewski argues that Abstract Expressionism, a product of the rise of the liberal democratic state, post-war consumerism, and capitalist society, was “the beginning of a recycling of previous styles (p. 260)”, which foreshadowed that aspect of post-modernism.

I was unaware that I was ingesting and adopting the stylistic approaches and attitudes of Abstract Expressionism without understanding the context in which the movement existed. I was oblivious to the notion that the “essential eight” painters (Gottlieb, de Kooning, Motherwell, Newman, Pollock, Reinhardt, Rothko, and Still) whom I read about and looked at had been elevated by cultural institutions to the exclusion of other painters—notably painters who were not heterosexual white males. Nor had I examined how this movement and the artists working in it were profoundly shaped by the historical time in which it occurred, and what was at stake for both the artists who were privileged by recognition and the institutions that collaborated in accepting some and excluding others – indeed, Gibson argues that even the art “culture” of today has a vested interest in maintaining the narratives that surrounded Abstract Expressionism, a view shared by Carol Duncan in "The MoMA’s Hot Mamas".

Abstract Expressionism, among other things, came to represent the triumph of not only American painting, but also American “culture”:

"Abstraction had come to stand for a certain kind of frontier heroism
that supported the American ideals of universalism, individualism,
and freedom. Generally speaking, artists whose style, subject matter,
or personal identity blocked an authoritative espousal of these values
were shoved to the background…the artist who emerged as the
quintessential Abstract Expressionist hero was Jackson Pollock"
(Gibson 2).

Not only did the narrative include a “cult of originality” and elevation of authenticity, (Staniszewski 101) but a dichotomy of values was put into play that roughly included these relationships:

Non-material realm..........Biological
Air, light, mind............Earth
Mechanical order, control...Unruly nature, uncontrol
Bold, linear................Pretty, decorative
Pure........................Political, racial, narrative

(developed referring to Duncan, Gibson, and Staniszewksi)

In this system, anything that fell on the “feminine” side (regardless of the artist’s actual gender) was devalued. Perhaps more interesting was how white male artists co-opted aspects of the right side column as strategies (use of the primitive, the unconscious, the natural), which if employed by women artists would devalue their work in the “system”. As Gibson said, “Women artists simply could not win” (165).

One important aspect of the Abstract Expressionism canon was the valuing of purity of meaning and the avoidance of the overtly political or narrative, which was expressed as an emphasis on technique and style. In her exploration of non-canonical Abstract Expressionist painters, Gibson points out, “to argue that formal innovation constitutes the crucial limit of Abstract Expressionism is to imply that meaning resides principally in the work itself, rather than in, say, the interaction between the work and the viewer or in the work’s relation to society” (xxviii).

This brings up the question of meaning in Abstract Expressionism and how the current methods of painting in this style interact with today’s viewer and today’s society. In thinking about my adoption of this style, I have been considering the relationship (if any) between my “recycling”, “imitating”, and “pastiche” (as defined by Fredric Jameson). One of the issues I have with Jameson’s critique is that he sets up parody and pastiche as two ends of a spectrum and devalues pastiche as being empty of meaning.

I am interested in exploring how different strategies within Abstract Expressionism were used by artists working outside the “canon” and looking at how recycling and borrowing works in my painting and in how other abstract painters are working in the context of both history and contemporary culture and imagery. I reluctantly admit that I am strongly attached to the “the traditions and mythologies related to an artist’s mastery of the strokes of paint on the canvas” and “the artist’s mastery of the absolute and individual domain of creation (Staniszewski 225). However, Staniszewski also points out in her discussion of Picasso, Braque, and Duchamp, that it is through the acknowledgment of the limitations of their practice that artists have “gained more knowledge and power about themselves, their work, and their world in their examination of the way meaning and value are created in Western culture” (225).

The anxiety lies in not knowing what will take the place of the values and habits held dear. “And this, I think, is our plight most of the time. Contemporary art is constantly inviting us to applaud the destruction of values which we still cherish, while the positive cause, for the sake of which the sacrifices are made, is rarely made clear” (Steinberg p. 10).

I choose to take the positive position of Staniszewksi, that “If we accept the fact that everything is shaped by culture, we then acknowledge that we can create our reality. We therefore contribute to it and can change it. This is an empowering way of living and of seeing ourselves in the world” (298).

Works Cited

Duncan, Carol. “The MoMA’s Hot Mamas.” The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History. Ed. Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard. New York: HarperCollins, 1992, 347-357. Print.

Gibson, Ann Eden. Abstract Expressionism: Other Politics. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997. Print.

Jameson, Fredric. “Postmodernism and Consumer Society.” The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture. Ed. Hal Foster. New York: The New Press, 1998, 127-144. Print.

Staniszewksi, Mary Anne. Believing Is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art. New York: Penguin Books, 1995. Print.

Steck, Stuart. “Critical Theory I.” The Art Institute of Boston, Boston. June 2009. Lecture.

Steinberg, Leo. “Contemporary Art and the Plight of Its Public (1962).” Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972, 3-16. Print.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Post on Wendy White at Two Coats of Paint

Wendy White, Mrs. Dash, 170 ¾ x 84 ½ inches (2008)

This morning I ran across a post on Two Coats of Paint titled, "Why Is Wendy White Still Beneath The Radar?"

I enjoyed Wendy's talk during the June residency and thought her work was amazing. As a plus, she was articulate and able to speak about her "projects" for the set of paintings she presented.

Here's a snip:

"In the Fall Arts Preview at The L Magazine, Paddy Johnson wonders why Wendy White hasn't had the breakout success her work deserves. White's multi-paneled spray paint canvases have been exhibited in so many places that it's hard to call her an 'up and coming' artist, but she hasn't seen the kind of attention other artists of her generation—Matthew Day Jackson, Dana Schutz, and Jules De Balincourt to name a few—have received.

"But this seems likely to change. White’s reputation as a painter has solidly grown over the years, her name coming to the lips of many. But rather than gaining buzz through the usual channels—museum shows, art magazines spreads, and high profile commissions—White’s rising esteem is due to little more than the work itself. A master of unexpectedly pleasing canvas shapes and paint application, her work brings to mind the fluid paint handling of Christopher Wool, the complex compositional arrangements of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the aggressive surface treatments of Sterling Ruby..."

You can read the rest at Two Coats of Paint

Linked from Wendy's site is an interview that appeared in the Salt Lake City Examiner. I really like that the first photo shows Wendy with her son in the studio.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Amy Sillman / zum Gegenstand

Just ran across new works by Amy Sillman.

Amy Sillman
Two Backs, 2009
oil on canvas
215 cm x 230 cm