Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The New Neurotic Realism

I checked out a book from the library today titled The New Neurotic Realism. It is a collection of images from a show in 1998 at the Saatchi Gallery in London. A lot of the work still holds up:

These pieces by Brian Cyril Griffiths are made out of cardboard boxes, office bins, bottle caps, and household objects like egg cups and tea strainers.

This chair by Andreas Schlaegel is made from kitchen sponges. Seems sort of related to the Brian Griffiths piece, but also like a modern day Fur Tea Cup:

Object in Fur, Meret Oppenheim 1936.

People are still making work like this painting by Dan Hays- paintings influenced by warped new and old digital images.

Dissolve, 1998.

These Michael Raedecker drawing-painting hybrids are a mix of painting and sewing. From 1998, but still super contemporary and exciting!

Room 2 and Room 5, 1997.

Perspective, 1997.

Frisson, 1997.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Beautiful paintings by Lois Dodd

An installation view of Lois Dodd's "New Panel Paintings"

An eighty-four-year-old woman paints a view of falling snow from a window. That’s Lois Dodd.

Dodd has her ninth solo exhibition, titled New Panel Paintings, at the Alexandre Gallery in midtown Manhattan. The 24 new were were done plein air. Each painting is completed in one sitting.

Dodd paints what she sees: a green scrap of grass leading to a cottage, a yellow field bathed in sunshine, a red flower in bloom. To view a Dodd painting is to contemplate a singular moment in time. There is not fuss, but delight. Pure and simple.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I just discovered this clever Byron Kim painting today

Byron Kim
After Sun in an Empty Room, 2008
Oil and alkyd on canvas
31 x 132 inches

Which is referring to this Hopper painting:

Edward Hopper
Sun In an Empty Room, 1963
28 3/4 x 39 1/2 inches
oil on canvas

Monday, January 09, 2012

Who Owns the Color Red?

I will make my students read this!

Who Owns the Color Red?:

Louboutin shoes (via christianlouboutinsau.com)

Can a person own a color? Yves Klein may say yes, but Yves Saint Laurent begs to differ. Over the course of the past year the luxury goods company has been tied up in legal proceedings against the shoe designer Christian Louboutin, who believes his signature red-soled shoes are being ripped off by YSL. In my mind, this fashionable fighting has sparked speculation over the constant accusation of plagiarism that plagues creative fields.

In August a New York district court denied the preliminary injunction Louboutin requested against YSL’s ruby-bottomed pumps under the opinion of Judge Victor Marrero that a designer cannot have a monopoly on a color, nor did he believe consumers would be somehow tricked into thinking that the YSL shoes were Louboutins. Even though court will reconvene on January 24 because Louboutin just can’t give it up, I have to say the entire argument sounds petty and, to be blunt, a little selfish.

Now, even though I’ve been attempting for years to trademark the lovely shade of aubergine the circles under my sleep-deprived eyes are with little victory, this is not a personal vendetta against ownership of certain design elements. Tiffany, for example, has their turquoise (Pantone number and all) copyrighted, and the late Yves Klein patented his particular shade of blue. However, Klein’s patent on International Klein Blue had more to do with his chemical invention of the color, and Tiffany’s trademark applies only to competing brands because of the jewelry company’s long association with the specific color. Those are valid reasons to request protection, legally speaking, because they’re more or less aspects of brand identity that influence consumers. But most companies, as well as artists, seem to rapidly expect ownership and credit to any and all aspects of their creations, when in actual fact the color of a sole is no more grounds to sue than, say, a particular style of painting or sculpture.

Picasso's Les Desmoiselles D'Avignon (1907) (via moma.org) and an image of an African Fang Mask (via Wikipedia.org) (click to enlarge)

This constant quibbling over who owns what reminds me, inevitably, of the criticism (and lawsuits) constantly hurled at artist Shephard Fairey. Designer of the “Obama Hope” posters (which I’m hoping pop up again after the New Hampshire debates), Fairey’s signature style is one of appropriation and repurposing of images, much like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. He may have a hard time admitting he actually appropriates images, but in my eyes the works he pulls from are altered in some way, though that isn’t enough for some people who continue to cite him as a plagiarist.

But aren’t we jumping the gun a bit to criticize an artist because he or she repurposes imagery and motifs? Japanese artists didn’t sue Matisse or van Gogh for copying their aesthetics, just as African artists didn’t sue Picasso. And yes, I’m aware the circumstances were a tad different, but my point remains that artists have utilized techniques and aesthetics from other sources forever, and today that historical practice is mostly lauded by art historians while reviled when turned to contemporary artists.

Besides, were talking about fashion here, people. You’d be hard-pressed to find one designer in history who has not in some way appropriated elements from his or her contemporaries or predecessors. Not a season goes by where someone magically reinvents the dress. They’re artists working under extremely limited and restrictive conditions and yet I have still not witnessed one major designer who completely copies someone else’s creation. Canal Street maybe, but never the runways of Paris.

This might come off as some armchair litigation, but I do believe that all artists should calm down a little bit before crying out “Plagiarism!” at every turn. Consumers associate red soles with Christian Louboutin just as museumgoers associate silkscreens with Andy Warhol, and they’ll realize that any similarities that appear in proceeding works owe a debt to their predecessors. But unless it’s a complete rip-off, I think artists should remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery before they call their lawyers.

Hüzün- shared melancholia

An interesting review of Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul: Memories and the City :


"It's a rather philosophical & personal (perhaps overly so) account of Istanbul, with an emphasis on the hüzün«We might call this confused, hazy state melancholy, or perhaps we should call it by its Turkish name, hüzün, which denotes a melancholy that is communal, rather than private.

Pamuk keeps coming back to hüzün as the prevailing mood that binds Istanbullus, melancholia as a spiritual state, a glue, for Istanbullus living now in the seat of a ruined crossroads, struggling to be modern, yet to still retain the dignity of their past."