From Archive to Interview

This is the second Visual Enquiry lecture by Angela Rogers.

I have volanteered to present a slide show of this lecture.  I never volanteer for anything, what is going on?

This blog is to record my understanding of the information presented, for future reference.  At this stage, I need to document thoroughly, to ensure I have understood exactly what is being conveyed.

In this lecture we are looking at a selection of contemporary artists, and considering commentary from online resources and some of the problems that such research poses.

Thomas Schutte

Schutte was born in 1954 in Germany, and was tutored by Gerhard Richter.   "Betty" by Richter

‘Betty’ a photo realist painting by Richter in 1988.  Michele Leight’s review of Richter’s exhibition at the MOMA in New York February 2002

Schutte felt that he had nothing to say in paint, that Richter hadn’t already said, so he turned to sculpture.

Schutte a prolific artist, producing sculpture, installations, photography, and lesser known watercolours, is known for the way he manipulates scale and materials. Online images may not indicate scale or materials used, which can make a difference to how work is perceived.

The first piece of work is from the United Enemies series, 1993-97, made from Fimo and fabric, and are around 30 cms high.

The second image is from the One Man  House  series, number 5 – 2005 chipboard 82.5 x 39.75 x 53.25 inches.


First we listen to Adrian Searle (podcast at a private view of the exhibition Big Buildings, Models and Views at the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, in July  2010.

Getty ImagesModel for a Hotel in Trafalgar Square, November 2007.

Erecting Model for a Hotel at the Big Buildings exhibition.

Adrian Searle feels that the Model for a Hotel works better within a building, rather than as a monument.

Domus review of the exhibition–models-and-views.html

Ferienhaus fur Terroristen 2007 chipboard

An article about the background to the work.

The original Ferienhaus für Terroristen (Holiday Home for Terrorists) in Mosern, Austria.

Grosse Geister 1996-8,  250cms high.

Image of: Blumen im Glas

  • Blumen im Glas, 2012  watercolour 38 x 28 cm
  • Image of: DistelDistel, 2012 watercolours 38 x 28 cm

Searle describes what takes his interest at the exhibition and concludes that ‘Schutte is free.  He does what he wants with wit, melancholy, gravity, sadness and joyousness all together, and that it doesn’t get much better than that.’


In Ossian Ward’s article in Time Out, 14 November 2007,, reviewing Thomas Schutte’s work for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square,  he feels Schütte’s work, a ‘Model for a Hotel’, mocks the very idea of monumental art, and fails to surprise.  The work’s see through  form and its title, reduce its stature for him.  He concludes that Schutte is just being too clever, ‘So while viewers might look straight through this transparent effigy, many will miss the inherent truth it imparts about the artistic act; that all art is a form of proposition and anything’s possible.’

Richard Dorment, writing in the Telegraph, 7 November 2007,, has a different view, calling the work ‘an abstract assemblage of panes of yellow, blue and red, glass – a miracle of engineering that weigh four tons and looks like it would blow away in the first strong breeze.’  He concludes the work is ‘Original, striking, thoughtful and  too beautiful, Schütte’s work is among the best in the series. ‘

Dorment feels that the work is an invitation to view and create an individual experience, where the work is enhanced by its monumentality.  Adams feels that Schutte’s work mocks the very idea of monumental art.  Two very different responses to the same work.

Kiki Smith

A contemporary of Schutte, Kiki Smith, born in 1954 in Germany, is the daughter of minimalist sculptor, Tony Smith.

Smith’s work tackles major world issues of Aids/race/gender/battered women.

The curator

Elizabeth Brown, curator at the university Art Museum, writing in Santa Barbara, California in 1994, says that  Smith one of the most influential artists of her generation, makes sculpture of and about the body using materials as diverse as bronze paper and wax.  The visceral quality using a variety of traditional and unusual mediums, evoking  solid bodies in fragile silk/tissue, or creating transitionary effects in solid bronze, it also reveals her expressive scope. Rather than argue a specific political interpretation or conform to a single suggested meaning.   She notes ‘how her body drives her work.’

Gallery Website

The biography on the website for the Mary Ryan Gallery in 2001, considers Smith to be a feminist artist.  It writes that ‘Smith’s Body Art is imbued with political significance, it undermines the traditional  erotic representations of women by male artists and often exposes the inner biological systems of females, as a metaphor for hidden social issues.’

Mary Magdalene 1994 cast silicon bronze 152 x 52 x 54 cms

Reference Library

Christine Kuan in her interview (believed to be after 2008) with the artist gives a much more balanced view of her work, talking of feminine impact on post modern and contemporary art.

In a recent book of Kiki Smith’s photographs by Elizabeth Brown , Smith talks emphatically about how her body drives her work.

We cannot get a fixed picture on an artist’s work.  Knowing that Smith trained as a medical technician, helps inform her work.

Louise Bourgeois

Bougeois  was born in France in 1911 and died in 2010 in New York installations reflect childhood

Bourgeois has stated that ‘Sculpture is my body, my body is my sculpture.’

Louise Bourgeois ‘Maman’, 1999<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
© The Easton Foundation

Maman 1999 at the Tate, her best known work.

Richard  Dorment, writing in the Telegraph,9 October 2007, clearly not a fan, does not mince his words.  ‘In 1982 she first revealed in an interview that the imagery in her sculpture was almost wholly autobiographical, letting the world know in lip-smacking detail the story of the family scandal that she relives again and again through her art.

In that moment, the Louise Bourgeois industry was born. An army of Freudians, Kleinians, Lacanians and feminists descended on her work, happy to sink their teeth into art they could treat as a juicy case history seething with Oedipal angst and ripe for interpretation.

Seeing what she had unleashed, Louise hasn’t shut up since. By the ’90s she had become an authentic A-list celebrity.’

He concluded ‘Once you know about Daddy’s betrayal, the symbolism is only too obvious.’

He adds ‘The problem I have with Bourgeois’s work is its literalness, the indexical symbolism that has given her interpreters material for their academic feeding frenzy.’

He is suggesting that that is the only interpretation possible because Bourgeois has fed it herself. takes a different view.

Annie Leibovitz’s portrait in 1997 reproduced in ‘Women’ in 1999

An A list celebrity, more famous for what she said about her work than for any intrinsic aesthetic quality of emotional truth.  She is considered to be the or original  confessional artist, the spiritual godmother for Tracey Emin.

Writing in the Guardian October 2007,, Siri Hustvedt, whilst accepting of the manufactured hype stoked by and surrounding the artist, states ‘ Bourgeois can take you to strange and hidden places in yourself. This is her gift. What may be deeply personal for her finds its translation in art that is far too mysterious to be confessional. ‘  She continues ‘I have come to think of Bourgeois as an artist who roams the antechambers of a charged past, looting it for material that she reconfigures as external places and beings or being-places.’

‘The difficulty faced by those trying to interpret Bourgeois’s art is illustrated by The Destruction of the Father (1974), below, because the object and the narrative that accompanies it have become inseparable.’


Hustvedt continues ‘The artist’s intellectual sophistication, her mordant commentary, and the weight of the theory brought in to bear on her work can quickly obfuscate rather than reveal what is in front of us.’

Another perspective of this work can be found at

Autobiographical Work that Operates Outside the Gallery

Bobby Baker

Bobby Baker, born in 1953, is a performance artist, most recently at John Lewis and Battersea cats and dogs home, known for her work with food.  She believes that our domestic relationships influence world affairs.

For 10 years she suffered from mental issues.  Her daily drawings during this period, originally intended to be private, recorded the progression of her illness through at the Welcome Institute, revealing undiscovered aspects of daily life.

Both Bourgeoise and Baker are dealing with their personal experiences with their domestic lives  very successfully through their work.

The Turner Prize

Is the Prize still cutting edge?

In 2010 Susan Philipsz won the prize for a sound installation that features her singing three versions of a Scottish lament.

The BBC website reported the prize  Media views were mixed.

Richard Dorment writing the Telegraph when reviewing the shortlist said ‘please, don’t inflict this stuff on the rest of us.’

Jonathan Jones at the Guardian and Adrian Searle are quite complimentary.  The Independent said ‘Philipsz’s voice on the artwork sounded “drearily poker-faced, as if she is trying to haunt us with her voice. She does not succeed”.’

We get a sense that there is a link between political orientation of these broadsheets and the responses of these art critics.

Tomma Abts, an object and an image.  Chose a particular group of work from 2001-2006 to create a mood.  Tomma Abts Ebe, 2005

Ebe 2005 Acrylic & oil on canvas 48cm x 38 cm, one of the works that won Abts the Turner Prize in 2006.

The Stuckists claim that Abts paints ‘silly little pictures.’  Painting pictures is what matters, not being lured by prizes.  Success is about getting up each day to paint.

Crazy over you exhibtiion installation view 2

Charles Thomson Installation view, ‘Crazy Over You’ at Trispace Gallery. London, June 2014.

Thomson is a founder member of the Stuckists,  a radical and controversial art group founded in 1999 with Billy Childish, an ex partner of Tracey Emin, in response to Emin’s view of Childish’s work.

The Stuckists manifesto states they are opposed to the current pretensions of so-called Brit Art, Performance Art, Installation Art, Video Art, Conceptual Art, Minimal Art, Body Art, Digital Art and anything claiming to be art which incorporates dead animals or beds – mainly because they are unremarkable and boring.

In an interview with Mark Sheerin on September 10, 2014 in Hypoallergic, Thomson cites atomic scientist Ernest Rutherford who said: “An alleged scientific discovery has no merit unless it can be explained to a barmaid.”   “The work is the theory. If it doesn’t itself communicate, it doesn’t work.”

Jonathan Jones commented ‘They protest against the broad category of post-Duchamps in art in which idea is prior to craft.’ in his article about Philipsz’ winning the Turner Prize in 2010

The Stuckists, whilst having been acknowledged as a movement, are looking ‘tired’ and their decision not to protest this year against the prize, possibly heralds a diminishing of their presence.  They have, however, successfully revealed a conflict of interest and campaigned against the purchasing of Chris Orfili’s installation  while he was a serving trustee of the Tate,

Andrew Marr in his interview with graphic designer Neville Brody during Start the Week on 31 January 2011 on Radio 4,  Brody is now Head of the Communication Art & Design department at the Royal College of Art.

However, Susan Hiller the American artist who  exhibited at Tate Britain in 2011, stated that ‘the Stuckist manifesto was like ‘an honest scream of pain and anger’.

Marr makes the point in defence of the Stuckists that as Britart is being sponsored by the Saatchis, mainstream conservatism and the labour government, it makes a bit of a mockery in its claim to be subversive or avant guard.  Brody also felt they had a point in their view that everyone should have access to an art or design education regardless of financial background.


Anything can be a resource.

Online resources:

UCA library

LOndon, online catalogues for

British Library

Art Library at V & A

Henry Moore Institute

Tate archive

Welcome Foundation

Arts Journals:

Art Monthly

Art Review

Art Forum

Contemporary Art Daily

The Journal of Modern Craft

Academic Journals:

Taylor Francis Journals include Arts and Health

Intellect Journals include Journal of Visual Arts Practice,id=131

International Journal of Art & Design Education published by Blackwell


TED Talks



Something to Think About

In what way do artist’s biographies inform or detract from the viewers’ experience of the work?

What are the implications of Ward’s assertion that ‘That all art is a form of proposition and anything’s possible’?

If you could only read or hear one view on an exhibition would you choose to hear the artist’s view or that of a critic or reviewer and why?

Read widely and maintain a healthy scepticism.







Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: