Saturday, June 5, 2010

Semester 2 Summary

Jill Christian
Advisor: Deborah Davidson
Group 2 – Semester Summary
4 June 2010

Semester Summary

This second semester my goal was to experiment within a narrower range. At the end of the first semester, after months of working from various source material, I decided to focus on painting still lifes of sticks that I collected during my walks. That led to making a number of 12x12 paintings. I also made some quicker paintings on paper based on digital photographs that I cropped and manipulated. This semester, I continued to use the sticks as references, and also re-introduced creating abstract translations based on photographs in a more focused way.

My assignment this semester was to make paintings with fewer elements – to slow down the “call and response” and the decision-making, but with very little information. Make something too big for its space, then too small for its space. I did do a number of small paintings on paper and on board that explored these ideas. I found that I instinctively use many lines and shapes, and it was challenging to hold myself back and impose limits. My mentor, Gerry Snyder, encouraged me to continue to explore setting limits for myself, in order to better understand my process and what my larger idea might be. At the same time, he encouraged me to let what comes naturally be my guide.

This semester I got a late start. I was set up to work with a mentor in Los Angeles. Sadly, a serious family situation came up for my mentor, and she was no longer able to commit to working with me. Fortunately, she recommended me to Gerry Snyder, an artist living in Santa Fe who has been my mentor since February. Gerry and I had our first get-acquainted meeting February 19, and we have been able to meet five times over the semester.

Gerry was a good choice for me as he helped me start to see patterns in the paintings I have been making, and I am beginning to recognize certain threads that run through my current work. One of the most valuable things I learned was how to begin to group things together so that I can look at what each group is doing. Usually I would bring to our meetings one or two “anomalies” that were different from everything else. I was not encouraged to either discard or pursue these, but rather to ask what makes one different from the others, and what is common in the others that are more similar. This helped me look at things in a new way, which was less about judging whether something was working or not, and more about seeing what is actually there. I believe Gerry helped me to recognize visually what is most like me, and what I commonly do, regardless of the source material.

I began to recognize that whether I am working from the sticks I set up (from nature) in the studio, or from photographs, I have a particular way of selecting. There is a particular thing that I do with the images. With the photographs, I find an image that is intriguing to me in both subject matter, color, and composition. I photograph that and then crop this new image. Specifically, I select one part of it and blow it up so that you can no longer tell what it is. I remove it from its context and make it unrecognizable. Gerry suggested that I consider whether I use the same process when I am painting. He suggested that I really carefully note the process I go through between taking an image and moving it away from its context and direction; moving it away from the personal or specific.

I realized, as I painted from the pile of sticks in my studio, that I was in fact doing the same type of selection. My process is one of honing in and looking at one particular aspect of something and interpreting it in a way that makes it unrecognizable. I am drawn toward the excerpt or the close up -- the detail view. When I think about spaces that I am drawn to, they are all-over spaces, without a central focus. Gerry encouraged me to consider accepting that rather than trying to deny myself that sensibility.

One of my last exercises of the semester (which is still in progress) was to paint using three different sources: the photos, the sticks, and “out of my head” without a specific reference. It became very clear that I require a visual source as a starting point. The paintings of the sticks and the photographs were treated similarly. The paintings with no reference seemed to be “searching” and less confident--And less satisfying to make, since I was not looking. Looking seems to be very important to my process.

Another issue that I am beginning to work out is where I am along the continuum of concern about surface versus pictorial space. My first semester, I really paid attention to my reactions during discussions with my mentor about creating space, and her suggestions to create shadow, shape, and illusionistic depth (like you would see in a landscape painting). I feel I technically could work in that way, and that I would become more proficient with practice and focus. But, I felt that maybe this is not what I am interested in depicting. Maybe I am creating surface rather than space?

As a way to explore these ideas, I read Frank Stella's Working Space. I also read and looked at the work in Bob Nickas's Painting Abstraction: New Elements in Abstract Painting and Tony Godfrey's Painting Today. I also reviewed several books on “The Baroque” in contemporary painting, as I want to figure out what it is about the Baroque that intrigues me. I believe that the aspect that interests me is the animation of the painting through gesture and surface, and the way overlapping shapes and gestures become a tangle where you cannot tell where one thing ends and other thing begins (for example, in Rubens). I want to continue this exploration, but I also feel that in the context of writing a thesis outline at the end of next semester, that I need to be focused on very specific topics so that I continue to emphasize development of my painting over writing.

Since it was so valuable to limit some of the variables I am working with, I feel that I would like to continue exploring which limits I would like to set for myself. However, I feel that it is time to think about focusing on one aspect, perhaps limit myself in source material, or in materials. I found limiting my palette to be very valuable, though my natural inclination is toward using many colors. I am becoming more comfortable going back and editing paintings. In this process, referring to the source material guides me in my decisions. Gerry suggested that I also spend some time exploring which source material is most interesting to me, and find out what it is about the sources that are important in order to begin to uncover a “bigger idea” behind what I am doing in my paintings.

Second Semester Bibliography (January – June 2010)

Artists Looked at/Researched
Cora Cohen
Karen Davie
Manny Farber
Alfred Leslie
Agnes Martin
Katy Moran
Alice Neel
David Reed
Frank Stella

Susan Rothenberg: Moving in Place. January 22, 2010 - May 16, 2010. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM.
Agnes Martin, Harwood Art Museum, Taos, NM.

Books read
Godfrey, Tony. Painting Today. London: Phaidon Press Limited, 2009. Print.*
Krauss, Rosalind. Voyage on the North Sea.
Nickas, Bob. Painting Abstraction: New Elements in Abstract Painting. *
Stella, Frank. Working Space. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986. Print.
Postmark: An Abstract Effect (exhibition catalog). Santa Fe: Site Santa Fe, 1999. Print.

Ayers, Robert. “A Sky filled with Shooting Stars: Robert Ayers in conversation with Frank Stella. Web. 09 April 2010.
Brossard, Olivier. “The Last Clean Shirt by Alfred Leslie & Frank O’Hara. Revue Francaise D’Etudes Americaines. No. 101 September 2004. 49-67.
Cohen, Cora. “Joan Mitchell.” Bomb. 17:Fall 1986. Web. 13 Oct. 2009. .
Cohen, David. “Gallery Going: The Radical Theater of Alfred Leslie.” Art Critical / The New York Sun. Web. 25 April 2010. < HYPERLINK "">.
Cumming, Laura. “Northern Exposure: Per Kirkeby.” The Observer. 21 June 2009. Web. 4 May 2010.
Doane, Mary Ann. “The Indexical and the Concept of Medium Specificity.” Differences 18.1 (2007): 128-152. Print.
Doane, Mary Ann. “Indexicality: Trace and Sign: Introduction.” Differences 18.1 (2007): 1-6. Print.
Elkins, James. “Abstraction’s Sense of History: Frank Stella’s ‘Working Space’ Revisited. American Art 7:1 (1993):29-29. Print.
Elkins, James. On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Print.
Elkins, James. What Painting Is. New York: Routledge, 2000. Print.
Elliott, David. “The Radical Theatre of Alfred Leslie.” Catalog essay from the exhibition 22 March – 21 April 2007. New York: Ameringer Yohe Fine Art. 2007. Web. 25 April 2010.
Gombrich, . Western Art and the Perception of Space. Space in European Art, Council of Europe Exhibition, Japan, 1987, 5-12. Web. 13 April 2010. .
Haber, John. “Alfred Leslie: 1951-1962.” Web. 26 April 2010. < HYPERLINK "">.
Hughes, Robert. “Art: The Grand Maximalist.” Time Magazine. 02 Nov. 1987. Web. 26 April 2010. < HYPERLINK ",9171,965886-1,00.html",9171,965886-1,00.html>.
Kalina, Richard. “The Right Moves: Alfred Leslie in the Fifties”. Art in America  April 2005. Web.
Kimmelman, Michael. “An Italian Antihero’s Time to Shine.” The New York Times. 10 March 2010. Web. 15 March 2010.
Kramer, Hilton. “It’s Ugly, Drafty, Ghastly: Stella’s Work in a Garage.” The New York Observer. 27 Jan. 2002. Web. 25 April 2010. < HYPERLINK "">.
Kramer, Hilton. “Even After Four Centuries, Caravaggio’s a Knockout.” The New York Observer. 7 June 1998. Web. 27 April 2010.
Neudorf, Kim. “Melanie Authier’s ‘Vista Blitz’ at the New Gallery.”
Ostrow, Saul. “Strategies for the Last Painting/Strategies for the Next Painting.” (exhibition catalog. November 27-December 21, 1990, Wolff Gallery, New York, NY.
Penn, Asher. “Paging: Bob Nickas on Abstraction.” Art in America. 11 May 2009. Web. 17 Feb. 2010.
Sachs Samet, Jennifer. “The Artist Who Had To Start Over.” The New York Sun. 18 April 2007. Web. 25 April 2010. < HYPERLINK "">.
Schjeldahl, Peter. “Then and Now: Bronzino at the Met.” The New Yorker. 1 Feb. 2010. Web.
Schwabky, Barry. “The Resistance of Painting: On Abstraction.” The Nation. 16 December 2009. Web. 26 April 2010. < HYPERLINK "">.
Smith, Colin. “The Difference Between a Wolf and A Dog: Wayne Thiebaud in Conversation with Colin Smith.” Turps Banana 3: 4-13. Web. 5 Feb. 2010.
Smith, Roberta. “It’s Not Dry Yet.” The New York Times. 26 March 2010. Web. 28 March 28 2010. < HYPERLINK "">.
Smith, Roberta. “Post-Minimalism to the Max.” The New York Times. 14 Feb. 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2010. .
Stella, Frank. Working Space. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986. Print.
Stella, Frank. Interview by Robert Ayers. “A Sky filled with Shooting Stars: Robert Ayers in conversation with Frank Stella. Web. 09 April 2010. .
Trespeuch, Helene. “Frank Stella: The Baroque to the Rescue of Abstract Art? The Reception of Frank Stella in France Since 1975.” In Baroque Tendencies in Contemporary Art, Kelly A. Wacker, ed. Newcastle United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2007. Print.
Wacker, Kelly A. Baroque Tendencies in Contemporary Art. In Baroque Tendencies in Contemporary Art, Kelly A. Wacker, ed. Newcastle United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2007.
Westfall, Stephen. “Then And Now: Six of the New York School Look Back.” Art in America 73 (June 1985). P. 113.
Worth, Alexi. “Octopussarianism: Ten Alfred Leslie Years. The Sienese Shredder #2. 2008 Web. 28 April 2010. < HYPERLINK "">.


Alpers, Svetlana and Michael Baxandall. Tiepolo and the Pictorial Intelligence. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994. Print.
Badura-Triska, Eva, and Susanne Neuburger, eds. Bad Painting Good Art. Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien.
Bal, Mieke. Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999. Print.
Deleuze, Gilles. The Fold: Liebniz and the Baroque. London: The Athlone Press, 1993.
” Dutton, Denis. The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2009. Print.
Gablik, Suzi. The Reenchantment of Art. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1992. Print.
Galenson, David W. Conceptual Revolutions in Twentieth-Century Art. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Print.
Martin, John Rupert. Baroque. New York: Harper & Row, 1977. Print.
Ndalianis, Angela. Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004. Print.
Shearman, John. Mannerism. London: Penguin Books, 1990. Print.
Tauchid, Rheni. New Acrylics Essential Sourcebook. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. 2009. Print.

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