Task 3 – Mapping the Territory

Angela has presented Task 3 and introduced us to the concept of using a ‘map’ to explore our practice.

The mapping is to be a strategy to lead into the essay, and to that end will be the supporting document for the essay, effectively where thinking is carried out.

I fully understand the wisdom of not holding everything in your head, what I am not so clear about is quite how creative we are meant to be with the task itself.

Angela raised these questions:

What is the context for me?

What does my background bring to my art?

The relevance for me?

Priorities for me?

My skills?

The essay will require quite deep research.  The map needs to support this.

This, in turn, really  needs to address the points raised by Caroline for the Personal Practice Plan (PPP):

Networks outside of the MA

Articulating my practice.

Where am I contextually in the wider art world?

Testing my boundaries.

In my usual, logical, way I am approaching this task in a practical manner, start with the main areas and work out.  At least this way I will have highlighted all I think I know at this point in time, and I will clearly see the areas that need to be addressed.  What will not be so clear is what is left out, so I need to be alert to that.

Funny, coming from a systems design background, I can see the bigger picture, how the map, the PPP, the essay will all meld together.  I can see how we are being gently led to water, and how supported we are in the task.  Unfortunately, what I am failing to see is exactly what question is at the core of all this work.  If there had been a major factor or incident that had driven my life, say my parents had survived the holocaust, or I had survived ill health, or abuse as a child, or had a particular connection to another culture, there would be a narrative to my work.   But I have had an ordinary life, only tinged with great sadness and I am not sure that that is an appropriate narrative, or a comfortable place to dwell.


Having looked at the options for the format of the map, suggested by Angela, I am viewing this as a working document at this stage, rather than a work of art.  With a mind map I have the detail and the bigger picture, but the question remains, what is going to drive my work forward?

Today I followed the ‘other resources route’ that Angela reminded us to look at.  I have compiled a book list to support me in my quest for an answer, focusing on painting, the prospect of a different discipline being more than my head can cope with at the moment.

Weintraub – Making Contemporary Art: How Today’s Artists Think   & Work

New Perspectives in Painting – 2011 Vitamin P2

Schwabsky (2002) – New Perspectives in Painting

Gant B & Lopes D (2007) – The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics   2nd edition

Downs (2007) – Drawing Now- Between the Lines of Contemporary   Art

Clement Greenberg – Modernist Painting

Having thought quite deeply about this point, I don’t believe  that changing medium at this juncture will aid my thought process.  I could be wrong, and I am keeping an open mind, but for me it makes more sense to take small steps into the future, and see what happens, rather than taking an unstructured huge step sideways.  To focus on experimentation with surface, which is resonating with me.


Here I am working into an existing canvas print with emulsion.


Watercolour paper of a slightly lighter weight than I would normally use has been pasted to the canvas, with most other areas masked with tissue paper.  At this stage I have no idea what I will paint, but the palette will be defined by the unmasked image.

The aim of my experiment is to see whether this approach will work for me with a view to scaling up my work.  My first experiments with watercolour on canvas lacked the vibrancy of paper.  I am hoping that the addition of watercolour paper will create a new dynamic.  The end result will be the ability to produce significantly larger works, that will be sealed, as with all other mediums on canvas, but not glazed, because glazed work much larger than my current of 100 x 80 cms becomes unwieldy and dangerous, not to mention very easily damaged by the handlers at major exhibitions.

‘Other resources’ includes critique and processes of current and former OCA students.  I was particularly drawn to Emma Drye’s critique of Jereme Crow’s work.  A series of paintings of a single lemon in a small glass dish.  A challenging and brave choice of subject.  http://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/student-work-uncovered-jereme-crow

Emma’s reference to narrative imagery and symbolism, the subtle embedded interest in process.  The qualities of light, gesture, composition, scale, colour.  Imagery to symbolise the narrative, how are you going to deliver as an artist?

How indeed.

Thoughts on Narrative

This led me to think about my current environment with regard to subject and risk.  Hastings is steeped in history, but what defines it in modern times is its relative poverty.

I looked at the government stats.  On first pass I found this table (which I couldn’t get to copy more meaningfully).  I don’t profess to understand the figures or what a  Lower layer Super Output Area (LSOA) actually is, that isn’t my point here.  I am just using this table to evidence the definition of Hastings, relative to the rest of the country.  The only borough in the South to be included.

Click to access 1871208.pdf

The English Indices of Deprivation 2010 use 38 separate indicators, organised across seven distinct domains1 of deprivation which can be combined, using appropriate weights, to calculate the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010 (IMD 2010). This is an overall measure of multiple deprivation experienced by people living in an area and is calculated for every Lower layer Super Output Area (LSOA) in England. The IMD 2010 can be used to rank every LSOA in England
according to their relative level of deprivation.’

Deprivation at a Local Level Local authority measures can provide useful summaries of deprivation in local areas. One measure that can be used is the proportion of LSOAs in a local authority amongst the 10 per cent most deprived in England. Table 4 shows the 20 local authorities with the highest proportion of LSOAs in the most deprived decile of the IMD 2010 and the change since 2007.
Table 4: The 20 local authorities with the highest proportion of their LSOAs in the most deprived decile of IMD 2010 and change since 2007 IMD 2010 Change from 2007

Number of LSOAs amongst 10% most deprived

Proportion of LSOAs in the district that are amongst the
most deprived

Number of LSOAs

Percentage Change

Liverpool 148 51% -14 -9%
Middlesbrough 41 47% 0 0%
Manchester 118 46% -17 -13%
Knowsley 45 45% -2 -4%
Kingston upon Hull 70 43% -2 -3%
Hackney 57 42% -19 -25%
Tower Hamlets 52 40% -20 -28%
Birmingham 251 39% -3 -1%
Blackpool 35 37% 5 17%
Hartlepool 21 36% 1 5%
Blackburn with Darwen 31 34% -2 -6%
Burnley 20 33% 6 43%
Salford 47 33% -4 -8%
Newham 50 31% -3 -6%
Stoke-on-Trent 50 31% -3 -6%
Bradford 94 31% 4 4%
Sandwell 57 30% 2 4%
Pendle 17 30% 1 6%
Haringey 42 29% 3 8%
Hastings 15 28% 1 7%

But where there is poverty there is also scope for improvement, and the regeneration is tangible.  The arrival of the Jerwood, the rebuilding of the Pier, the grot busting scheme to restore properties and the dignity of tenants.  Following Angela’s theme of metaphor, the words that spring to mind are:  Community Spirit, Intelligence, Creativity, Determination.  On reflection, it also encompasses my family, and in particular my daughter, who is currently spearheading the regeneration of the White Rock area, close to the pier.


Hastings is however different to many poor areas, for a start we are in the affluent South, with relative but not commutable distance to London.  In Victorian times the area, particularly St Leonards, was very wealthy.

When London boroughs started to use the coastal towns as housing overflow, together with the associated drink and drug abuse, a practice that continues to this day in Worthing and Littlehampton, the character of the area changed.

Hastings has not suffered from industrialisation or the loss of it.  In fact its main historical industry was, and is, its beach fishing fleet at the Stade, also home to the Jerwood.

030 Top left is the Jerwood.

Fishing holds no interest for me, but as a symbol or metaphor, it does.  I need to live by the sea.  I am piscean.  Words I associate with fishermen, Brave, Fearless, Determined, Family, Caring, Community, Character, Tradition, Hard Working, Provider, Skill.  There is also a religious, which for me is a spiritual connection, at one with our planet.

Just a thought.

The other essence of Hastings is its people.  Many have lived here all their lives, and the new arrivals (Over from Brighton OFBs, us, and Down From London DFLs) rarely leave.  There is a long held secret about the place, a friendliness that really opens up once you commit to putting down roots.  With such a community come the festivals, Jack in the Green, Fireworks, Mackerel, Story Telling, Carnival, Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), and events, Riotous Decadence New Year.035 Jack in the Green
Colourful, Spirited, Pagan, Anti Establishment, Survivor, Fun, Authentic.
Not sure what is happening here but this journal is acting very much like my painting process, developing as I write.  Regeneration, Fishermen, Festivals, metaphors for what they represent to me, but also representing  those aspects of me.  I feel somehow liberated, focused, and able to give something back to the town that has made me feel so at home. 

Historical Maps

Satirical political maps.

Britannia by James Gillray, 1791

‘Britannia’ Etching by James Gillray; published in London by Hannah Humphrey in 1791 Image source: British Museum

Das heutige Europa, 1875

‘Das heutige Europa’ (Today’s Europe)Published in Zurich by Caesar Schmidt in 1875 Image source: University of Amsterdam


Diagrams and statistics

Marcus du Sautoy on the power of diagrams, 14 mins.


Florence Nightingale’s Rose Diagram

Jan Matejko-Astronomer Copernicus-Conversation with God.jpg

Nicholas Copernicus with his Diagram that was the start of modern astronomy.

Hans Rosling on the joy of statistics, 5 mins.

An extraordinary visual representation of 120,000 statistics.

Mind Maps
Spontaneous exploration of an idea or visual means of recording key ideas as an aid to remembering. Deals with relationships and connections, nonhierchical.  Tony Buzan is probably the most well known exponent of mind
maps. Tony Buzan - About


For an educational perspective – The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them.
Novack and Canas.

A concept map showing the key features of concept maps. Concept maps tend to be read progressing from the top downward.


Other examples of visualising information and ideas
Native American Indian Winter Counts.

Australian Aboriginal Song Lines Mandalas


‘It is  almost unbelievable that people who speak a multitude of different languages can be connected by these invisible lines that mean the same thing to each one of them.’

Aboriginal Dreamtime Diagram


‘The Australian Aborigines speak of jiva or guruwari, a seed power deposited in the earth. In the Aboriginal world view, every meaningful activity, event, or life process that occurs at a particular place leaves behind a vibrational residue in the earth, as plants leave an image of themselves as seeds. The shape of the land – its mountains, rocks, riverbeds, and water holes – and its unseen vibrations echo the events that brought that place into creation. Everything in the natural world is a symbolic footprint of the metaphysical beings whose actions created our world. As with a seed, the potency of an earthly location is wedded to the memory of its origin.

The Aborigines called this potency the “Dreaming” of a place, and this Dreaming constitutes the sacredness of the earth. Only in extraordinary states of consciousness can one be aware of, or attuned to, the inner dreaming of the Earth.’

Tibetan  Mandalas

Painted 17th century Tibetan ‘Five Deity Mandala’, in the center is Rakta Yamari (the Red Enemy of Death) embracing his consort Vajra Vetali, in the corners are the Red, Green White and Yellow Yamaris, Rubin Museum of Art


‘Mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the Universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the general shape of a T.’

12th century Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard von Bingen (Saint) circa 1098? – mandela of the four seasons.

Stephen Jones Milliner

The trilbies are from Stephen Jones' autumn/winter 2014 collection.

Materials and sketches in the workroom.

The netting caught my eye.


Mapping the Territory – script for the Pecha Kucha

1      .           No idea how to approach or what I was trying to achieve             .           Decided to trust Angela’s process

2          .           How best to achieve the task?

.           Decided to work in stages

.           Brain dumped everything into a mindmap

3          .           Reflection – unexpectedly the largest area

.           The more I thought the larger it grew

.           If this was happening in the short time of creation, there was a problem

4          .           Research – As my ideas take shape this is also going to grow

.           The process of thinking and collating created immersion in the task

5          .           Other Artists – I have only listed key artists relative to my current thoughts

.           I record the work of every artist I encounter, 139 to date, on Pinterest, an amazing resource

6          .           Practice – I expect this area to grow as I work thru the MA

.           Visual Language

7          .           Inspiration

.           Interests

.           It became apparent that mindmapping would be too restrictive going forward

8          .           I needed to consider

How to drive my practice/practicality/maintenance/visibility/space

9          .           I played with ideas of presentation to condense the space required to hold the information but  .            allow for expandability

.           A fan format concealed too much, the lotus flower was ok but not aesthetically pleasing

10        .           I looked at creating a flower shape and writing on artificial flowers, but visibility of info was still .            a problem

11        .           I had been on a millinery course and loved the idea of creating a hat with the map on the  .            sculptural shapes, but the practicality got in the way

12        .           A walk to the beach to collect some pebbles for another option, was my breakthrough moment

13        .           Foam board with page markers

.           I have everything in one 60cm image, with room for growth

.           This achieved, I found space to think about some of the issues it raised

14        .           Symbolism – what did it mean for me

.           The MoMA Art Terms  led me to Gauguin – Jacob Wrestling with the Angel

.           An early example of an emotional response in contemporary work

15        .           Motif – I didn’t understand how this applied to my work

.           Yves millet article for Contemporary Aesthetics –

.           Monet’s motif over form, flowers the pretext for colour and rhythmic display

.           Pollack, motif as a vehicle of energy

16        .           So I began to look for symbols

.           Hastings has had a beach fishing fleet for over 1000 years

.           Brave, fearless, determined, family, caring, community

17        .           Regeneration – Hastings is the 18th poorest borough in the country, the only one to feature

.           from the South (more info in my Journal)

.           Community spirit, intelligence, creativity, determination

18        .           Festivals – Hastings has a very long tradition, Jack in the Green, Fireworks, Mackerel, Carnival,             Story Telling, Fat Tuesday

.           Colourful, spirited, pagan, anti-establishment, survivor, fun, authentic

19        .           The other question the map prompted was direction, scale up or delve deeper into materials

.           Nihonga, Japanese painting is water based but the paints are crushed from minerals, coral, .            malachite, azurite

20        .           Exploratory project to be used to investigate scale, but I suspect I will return to Nihonga at .            some point


Postmodernism and Globalisation

This journal is a reflection on Gerald Deslandes’ third lecture.

My first thought is that much of the work Gerald selected to represent this period in art history, roughly 1990 to present day Although Robert Rauschenberg would also be included, is produced by educated artists, for their educated and informed audiences.  Irony plays a major role.  A perpetuation of the class system by another means.  It’s subject matter reflects the times we live in, and the speed with which news and information traverses the globe.

Robert Rauschenberg 1990


It was during this period that artists started to be seen as role models, when it was actually possible to make a living, and in some cases, a very good living, from art, without having to take that historically necessary step of dying to achieve recognition and with it financial success.

We live in a capitalist society, which is reflected in the work.  Increasingly the world is moving to the capitalist model.

From Gerald’s notes :

‘Jean Baudrillard, 1929 – 2007, sociologist and cultural theorist.

Amongst other ideas, Baudrillard suggests that we have become dependent on maps and models of the world to the extent that we have lost contact with the ‘real’ world.  We have begun to substitute the signs of the real for the real, the representations have become more important than realities.

Baudrillard is known for his theory of simulacra, simulation and the hyper-real.

Simulacra – a sign or representation of something real.

Simulation – the process by which the sign of something imitates the real thing.

The Hyper-reality – when reality is exaggerated to make it so apparently perfect that it replaces the real. For example although the US lost the Vietnam War, on the ground they won in it in the ‘hyper-real’ realm in films like Apocalypse Now and Platoon.

For a literary example see the Louis Borges,  one paragraph story ‘Del rigor en la ciencia’, (On rigour in science), 1946 below.

In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.’

99 cent II, diptychon - Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.jpg

Andreas Gursky  – 99 Cent Store 1999 photo 2.07 x 3.37m


Gerald suggest that America is a false reality, with different cultures moulded together.  The only reality is Disney.  True but oh so scarry.

File:Chicago Board of Trade II.jpg

Andreas Gursky – Board of Trade ii 1999  73 x 95 inches

gerald continued Gursky’s famous work looks forward to globalisation.  ‘Whose complexity defied representation. In doing so, his manipulated photograph seemed to echo Baudrillard’s description of the artificiality of contemporary experience ‘

Tony Cragg ‘Britain Seen from the North’, 1981<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
© DACS 2015

Tony Cragg – Britain Seen From the North 1981 4.4 x 8 x 0.1m Recycled rubbish


James Hall writing in the Guardian in 2011 reminds us of the importance of Cragg’s work http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/jul/22/tony-cragg-sculpture-scottish-national

Gerald continued ‘Gerhard Richter demonstrated the difficulty of making authentic political statements in this hall of mirrors in his painting of the convicted terrorist Ulricke Meinhof. His inscrutable image was taken from a meticulously copied newspaper photograph, which may or may not have shed light on her character and on the mysterious nature of her death.  Elsewhere Richter created large abstract paintings from earlier studies by imitating the spontaneity of small areas of brushwork and then photographing and enlarging them on a giant scale.’

image not avaialable

Gerhard Richter – Confrontation 2, 1988


I find this portrait particularly chilling.  It challenges the viewer’s belief that they can understand Ulricke Meinhoff’s character.  She is presented as a ‘wholesome’ woman-next-door, so far from the truth.

image: gerhard richter - janus, no. 529, 1983

Gerhard Richter – Janus 1983


Richter’s allusions to Abstract Expressionism, where he blew up a section of his own work and repainted it, thereby one step removed from the original.  Effectively a pastiche.


Fiona Rae – Kick Me to the Future I Need to be Reloaded 2012

FIONA RAE: London Twelve (group show)

Fiona Rae gave a cynical twist to Richter’s allusions to Abstract Expressionism in works that contained references to Japanese manga comics.

Artists had believed they could change the world, but not any more.

In the 1980s Yang Chieh Chan produced 100 Layers of Ink, a very time consuming reference to earlier traditions, with notions of spirituality.

Brian Jungen   ‘1980,’ ‘1970,’ and ‘1960' (2007), golf bags with golf balls and painted golf tees, 139, 151 and 156 in. high, Art Gallery of Ontario

Brian Jungen – ‘1980’, ‘1970’, ‘1960’, 2007

Brian Jungen’s Adaptive Re-use at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.

US Indian artist Jungen’s addaptive re-use of golf bags, at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei.

Ai Wei Wei – 2000 Layers of Cloth


Wei Wei’s metaphor for how to keep the world orderly.

All work today references historic work.  We don’t need to understand music to enjoy it.  The same cannot be said of Postmodern art.  We see ourselves as part of a continuous flow, being carried along.  Since Warhol everyone has been completely free, with art merely reflecting rather than innovating.

Now we find ourselves in Conservative times, with people no longer believing that we are going in one direction.  Post Charlie Hebdo there is a likelihood that we won’t critique the government, but will come together to protect ourselves from terrorist and different values.

Language and Consumerism


This journal is in response to Gerald Deslandes lecture on Language and Consumerism.

Focusing on the elements of the lecture that resonated with me, I will be researching language both in terms of that presented by Gerald, but also in terms of the motifs and symbols that artists use.

Gerald referred to artists’ materials and processes as being analogous with musicians and writers.  Kandinsky in his essay (see below) draws a a similar conclusion.

Foucault stated ‘A ball only becomes a football within the rules of the game… a stone thrown in a fight is different from a stone displayed in a museum.’   Function determines meaning.

Daniel Buren French 1938

Daniel Buren: Photo Souvenir, Le Mur De PeinturesBuren’s individual paintings only make sense when seen together.


Monet, painting in 1908 developed a personal style through colour/form/shape/reflection.


Foucault again ‘Discourses are ways of referring to or constructing knowledge about a particular topic or practice, a cluster of ideas, images or practices.’

Edouard Manet French 1832-1883

Luncheon on the Grass 1863.


Foucault says that Manet is using language from earlier paintings, cultural traditions, pastoral, representing what the language of art is all about, colour, light.  There is also a deconstruction of how the image has been arrived at.

Kandinsky and Miro take the visible world and reduced to a series of codes.

Kandinsky – Composition IV  1911 (170 Kb); Oil on canvas, 159.5 x 250.5 cm (62 7/8 x 98 5/8 in)

Miro – House with Palm Tree 1918

Picasso and the spiritual Rothko investigate the materials and processes.

Rothko – Orange and Yellow 1956


Moore reveals his process and the truth in the material.

Henry Moore – Reclining Figure 1929


Both Naum Gabo and Barbara Hepworth articulate the language of material.


Linear Construction in Space No. 1, 1942


Dame Barbara Hepworth ‘Sculpture with Colour (Deep Blue and Red)’, 1940 © Bowness, Hepworth Estate

Dame Barbara Hepworth Sculpture with Colour (Deep Blue and Red) 1940


Symbolic language

Artwork by El Lissitzky 1919.jpg

El Lissitsky – Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge 1920

Pattern, colour, cultural connotations.

Jasper Johns. Flag. 1954-55  (dated on reverse 1954)

Jasper Johns – Flag 1956 http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=78805

Heroes, Coastman’s Park, Susan Hiller’s anthropological training is reflected in her work.

Susan Hiller ‘Monument’, 1980–1 © Susan Hiller

Susan Hiller – Monument 1980 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hiller-monument-t06902

Grayson Perry’s work is constructed in ceramics and textiles, using a visual language to reflect society.

Grayson Perry (2012)

Grayson Perry 2012

Grayson Perry’s Ceramics & Textiles


Art, Design and Gestalt Theory by Roy R. Behrens  


Gestalt psychology began in Germany in 1910, when a Czech-born psychologist named Max Wertheimer was seized by an idea when he saw flashing lights at a railroad crossing that resembled lights encircling a theater marquee.’

Austrian philosopher named Christian von Ehrenfels, who had published a paper in 1890 entitled “On Gestalt Qualities” in which he pointed out that a melody is still recognizable when played in different keys, even though none of the notes are the same, and that abstract form attributes such as “squareness” or “angularity” can be conveyed by a wide range of specific elements. Clearly, argued Ehrenfels, if a melody and the notes that comprise it are so independent, then a whole is not simply the sum of its parts, but a synergistic “whole effect,” or gestalt. ‘ (1).

In 1927, for example, gestalt psychologist Rudolf Arnheim visited the Dessau Bauhaus, then published an article in Die Weltbühne praising the honesty and clarity of its building design (2). Soon after, gestaltist Kurt Lewin commissioned Peter Behrens (teacher of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius) to design his home in Berlin, but, after a disagreement, Bauhaus furniture designer Marcel Breuer was asked to complete the interior (3).

In 1929, a student of Wolfgang Kohler, one of the founding gestalt psychologists, Karl Duncker, spoke at the Bauhaus.  In the audience was the painter Paul Klee, who had known about Wertheimer’s research as early as 1925 (4). But other Bauhaus artists were also interested, including Wassily Kandinsky and Josef Albers, both of whom attended a series of lectures about gestalt theory by Count Karlfried von Dürckheim, a visiting psychologist from the University of Leipzig, in the winter of 1930–1931 (5).


Paul Klee -Tänzerin oil on canvas 26 x 22 in. (66 x 56 cm.)
1932. (Recently sold for £4m.)


Albers’s curiosity about gestalt theory may be significant because he is now commonly credited with a resurgence of interest in “simultaneous contrast,”  which von Dürckheim discussed in his lectures. Recognized and used by artists for centuries, the effect was described scientifically in 1839 by a French chemist, Michel-Eugene Chevreul, who essentially found that a color may appear to change, often dramatically, when moved from one background to another. A swatch of red, for example, may exhibit one intensity on a green background, another on orange.

Example of simultaneous-contrast effect

An example of “simultaneous contrast,”


Josef Albers, Homage to the Square, 1965

What may be gestalt psychology’s most enduring influence on art and design came from a paper by Max Wertheimer titled “Theory of Form,” published in 1923 (6). Nicknamed “the dot essay” because it was illustrated with abstract patterns of dots and lines, Wertheimer concluded in it that certain gestalts are enhanced by our innate tendencies to constellate, or to see as “belonging together” elements that look alike (called “similarity grouping”), are close together (“proximity grouping”) or have structural economy (“good continuation”).


Color is highly subjective, but has observable psychological effects, although these can differ from one culture to the next. Black is associated with mourning in the West, but in the East, white is. Some painters, theoreticians, writers and scientists, including Goethe, Kandinsky, and Newton, have written their own color theory.

Goethe‘s color wheel from his 1810Theory of Colours



According to Kandinsky certain colors (above) have an affinity for certain forms. A dull shape like a circle deserves a dull color like blue. A shape with intermediate interest like a square deserves an intermediate color like red. A dynamic, interesting shape like a triangle deserves an enegetic, luminous, psychotic color like yellow.

The same goes for angles. Drastic accute angles get drastic colors, more sedate obtuse angles get bland colors like blue.

For much of the 19th century artistic color theory either lagged behind scientific understanding or was augmented by science books written for the lay public, in particular Modern Chromatics (1879) by the American physicist Ogden Rood, and early color atlases developed by Albert Munsell (Munsell Book of Color, 1915) and Wilhelm Ostwald (Color Atlas, 1919). Major advances were made in the early 20th century by artists teaching or associated with the German Bauhaus, in particular Wassily Kandinsky,

Munsell‘s color system represented as a three-dimensional solid showing all three color making attributes:lightness, saturation and hue.

‘Psychological, symbolical meanings of color are not strictly speaking means of painting. Colors only add to the potential, derived context of meanings, and because of this the perception of a painting is highly subjective. The analogy with music is quite clear—sound in music (like “C”) is analogous to light in painting, “shades” to dynamics, and coloration is to painting as specifictimbre of musical instruments to music—though these do not necessarily form a melody, but can add different contexts to it.’   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Painting



Aesthetics is the study of art and beauty.

It is believed that Plato maintained that painting cannot depict the truth—it is a copy of reality (a shadow of the world of ideas) and is nothing but a craft, similar to shoemaking or iron casting.

Kant the 18th century philosopher distinguished between Beauty and the Sublime, in terms that clearly gave priority to the former.

Hegel the 19th century philosopher recognized the failure of attaining a universal concept of beauty and in his aesthetic essay wrote that Painting is one of the three “romantic” arts, along with Poetry and Music for its symbolic, highly intellectual purpose. (8.9.) Painters who have written theoretical works on painting include Kandinsky and Paul Klee. (10.11.)

Kandinsky in his essay  (http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/phil%20of%20art/kandinskytext.htm) maintains that painting has a spiritual value, and he attaches primary colors to essential feelings or concepts.

Michael T H Sadler writing in his introduction to Kandinsky’s Essay , written in 1910 and published in 1912, ‘Picasso and Kandinsky make an  interesting parallel, in that they have developed the art respectively  of Cezanne and Gauguin, in a similar direction. On the decision of Picasso’s failure or success rests the distinction between Cezanne and Gauguin, the realist and the symbolist, the painter of externals and the painter of religious feeling. Unless a spiritual value is accorded to Cezanne’s work, unless he is believed to be a religious painter (and religious painters need not paint Madonnas), unless in fact he is paralleled closely with Gauguin, his follower Picasso cannot claim to stand, with Kandinsky, as a prophet of an art of spiritual harmony.’

In his essay Kandinsky acknowledges the influence of the Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck and the music of Wagner.   ‘His
method of using a definite motiv is a purely musical method. It
creates a spiritual atmosphere by means of a musical phrase
which precedes the hero, which he seems to radiate forth from
any distance.’ 7.  ‘The most modern musicians like Debussy create a spiritual impression, often taken from nature, but embodied in purely musical form. For this reason Debussy is often classed with the Impressionist painters on the ground that he resembles these painters in using natural phenomena for the purposes of his art. Whatever truth there may be in this comparison merely accentuates the fact that the various arts of today learn from each other and often resemble  each other.’

‘By personal inclination, because he is French and because he is
specially gifted as a colourist, Matisse is apt to lay too much
stress on the colour. Like Debussy, he cannot always refrain from
conventional beauty; Impressionism is in his blood. One sees
pictures of Matisse which are full of great inward vitality, produced
by the stress of the inner need, and also pictures which possess
only outer charm, because they were painted on an outer impulse.
(How often one is reminded of Manet in this.) His work seems to
be typical French painting, with its dainty sense of melody,  raised
from time to time to the summit of a great hill above the clouds.

But in the work of another great artist in Paris, the Spaniard
Pablo Picasso, there is never any suspicion of this conventional
beauty. Tossed hither and thither by the need for self-expression,
Picasso hurries from one manner to another. At times a great gulf
appears between consecutive manners, because  Picasso leaps
boldly and is found continually by his bewildered  crowd of
followers standing at a point very different from that  at which they
saw him last. No sooner do they think that they have reached him
again than he has changed once more.’

‘In their pursuit of the same supreme end Matisse and Picasso
stand side by side, Matisse representing colour and Picasso

Kandinsky  in summary ‘And the natural result of this striving is that the various arts are drawing together. They are finding in Music the best teacher. With few exceptions music has been for some centuries the art which has devoted itself not to the reproduction of natural phenomena, but rather to the expression of the artist’s soul, in musical sound.

A painter, who finds no satisfaction in mere representation,
however artistic, in his longing to express his inner life, cannot but
envy the ease with which music, the most non-material of the arts
today, achieves this end. He naturally seeks to apply the methods
of music to his own art. And from this results that modern desire
for rhythm in painting, for mathematical, abstract construction, for
repeated notes of colour, for setting colour in motion.

This borrowing of method by one art from another, can only be
truly successful when the application of the borrowed methods is
not superficial but fundamental. One art must learn first how
another uses its methods, so that the methods may afterwards be
applied to the borrower’s art from the beginning, and suitably.
The artist must not forget that in him lies the power of true
application of every method, but that that power must be

Painting today is almost exclusively concerned with the
reproduction  of natural forms and phenomena. Her business is
now to test her strength and methods, to know herself as music
has  done for a long time, and then to use her powers to a truly
artistic end.

And so the arts are encroaching one upon another, and from a
proper use of this encroachment will rise the art that is truly
monumental. Every man who steeps himself in the spiritual
possibilities of his art is a valuable helper in the building of
the spiritual pyramid which will some day reach to heaven.’


Kazimir Malevich  Russian 1879-1935

Gerald refers to Malevich’s suprematist painting as a fore runner to Mondrian.  Malevich was deeply spiritual, which is clearly reflected in this work.


Suprematist Composition


There is no better modern proponent of form than Machino Agano.  This work is Anniken Amundsen was produced for the Through the Surface exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich after a three month collaboration with Machino.



1. Regarding Ehrenfels, see Ash (Mitchell G. Ash, Gestalt Psychology in German Culture, 1890–1967) pp. 88ff; and Fritz Heider, “Gestalt Theory: Early History and Reminiscences,” in Mary Henle, Julian Jaynes and John J. Sullivan, eds., Historical Conceptions of Psychology (New York: Springer, 1973).

2. Rudolf Arnheim, “Das Bauhaus in Dessau,” Die Weltbühne (1927); translated by Arnheim as “The Bauhaus in Dessau,” Print 51, No. 6, 60–61 (1997). Arnheim was 23 years old in 1927 when he traveled to Dessau from Berlin to visit the Bauhaus, which had moved there from Weimar the previous year. Arnheim told me in a letter dated 16 June 1993 that during his visit he saw only the buildings, because “it was in the summer and nobody, either famous or infamous, was around that I remember.”

3. A photograph of Lewin’s home, designed by Behrens and Breuer, is found in Tilmann Buddenseig, ed., Berlin 1900–1933: Architecture and Design (New York and Berlin: Cooper-Hewitt Museum and Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1987) p. 30.

4. Regarding Duncker’s Bauhaus lecture and Wertheimer’s influence on Klee, see Marianne Teuber, “Blue Night by Paul Klee,” in Mary Henle, ed., Vision and Artifact (New York: Springer, 1976) pp. 131–151.

5. See Teuber [4] p. 144.

6. See Teuber [4]

7. http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/phil%20of%20art/kandinskytext2.htm

8. Craig, Edward. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Genealogy to Iqbal, page 278. Routledge, 1998. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2014-03-13.

9. Jump up^ “Painting and music are the specially romantic arts. Lastly, as a union of painting and music comes poetry, where the sensuous element is more than ever subordinate to the spirit.” Excerpted from Encyclopædia Britannica 191

10. Jump up^ Marcel Franciscono Paul Klee: His Work and Thought, part 6 ‘The Bauhaus and Düsseldorf’, chap. ‘Klee’s theory courses’, p. 246 and under ‘notes to pages 245–54’ p.365

  1. 1Jump up^ Moshe Barasch (2000) Theories of art – from impressionism to Kandinsky, part IV ‘Abstract art’, chap. ‘Color’ pp.332–3


Week 17 – Tutorial

 Lynda Nead

Lynda Nead, is the Pevsner Professor of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London.   In 1992 she wrote The Female Nude: Art, Obscenity and Sexuality .

Google books review the work ‘The Female Nude brings together, in an entirely new way, analysis of the historical tradition of the female nude and discussion of recent feminist art, and by exploring the ways in which acceptable and unacceptable images of the female body are produced and maintained, renews recent debates on high culture and pornography.
The Female Nude represents the first feminist survey of the most significant subject in Western art. It reveals how the female nude is now both at the centre and at the margins of high culture. At the centre, and within art historical discourse, the female nude is seen as the visual culmination of enlightenment aesthetics; at the edge, it risks losing its respectability and spilling over into the obscene.’  http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Female_Nude.html?id=IMhzgBEQHzwC

Frank Bowling OBE RA

In the 1960s his work incorporated almost imperceptible stenciled silk-screened images of his family and friends.  In 1971 Bowling was considered a Colour Field painter, earlier painters included Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski and Larry Poons.  https://drive.google.com/a/oca-uk.com/file/d/0B6daur5ibsGqckJyUkRmSlpyRTQ/edit

Carriage 2006  http://www.wikiart.org/en/search/frank%20o%20har%C3%A1/4#supersized-search-301646

Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin (1912-2004) was a Canadian born, US based artist. Influenced by the vast landscape she grew up surrounded by and by artists such as Mark Rothko, Donald Judd and Barnett Newman, her spare, paired down artistic style is often considered a minimalist art.

An emphasis in her work was placed upon line, grids, and subtle color but her visual language consisting of these basic geometric shapes retains small flaws, purposefully left by the artist. Closeness is potentially created between the viewer and the artist herself as her imperfect hand becomes a connection of a human touch. Martin’s work then becomes an individual spiritual experience as one can interpret her repetitive, reductive elements on different levels, adding dimensionality based on their own perception.’  http://minimalissimo.com/2012/07/agnes-martin/

Agnes Martin (1912-2004)


My photo of scrim has an Agnes Martin feel about it.

Prunella Clough 1919-1999

“Her subjects are closely observed details and scenes from the landscape. The images are combined and filtered through memory, and evolve through a slow process of layering and re-working.”1.   She was the niece of Eileen Gray.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunella_Clough

Frances Spalding writing in the Guardian, ‘the art of ‘saying a small thing edgily”.

Detail from Lorry Driver in Cab, c1950-53, oil on canvas

Detail from Lorry Driver in Cab, c1950-53, oil on canvas PR

‘The marvellously inventive painter believed art could be made out of the ordinary, and paid attention to aspects of urban and industrial life that are often overlooked’

Prunella Clough by Frances Spalding is published by Lund Humphries


This led to Windmill, Andrea Mills blog on a range of artists and art forms.  http://andrea-a-mills.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/abstract%20expressionism

Guerrilla Girls are an anonymous group of feminist, female artists devoted to fighting sexism and racism within the art world. The female activists wanted to bring to light the white male dominance that was harboured with in the art community. The group formed in New York City in 1985 with the mission of bringing gender and racial inequality within the fine arts to focus within the greater community. Members are known for the gorilla masks they wear to remain anonymous.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guerrilla_Girls

Women at Art College

On a preliminary review I could only find admission data back to 2007.  Drilling down for the UK, in all regions except the North East (601 females to 629) and N. Ireland (65/95), female home candidates for the region, significantly outnumbered males for foundation courses.

Simon Pope

Simon Pope is an artist currently studying for his doctoral degree in Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Art and St John’s College, University of Oxford.


Simon Pope & Tom Greeves on a site visit to Vitifer Mine, Dartmoor at the start of the project. Photo: Alex Murdin 2013

From Press Information, issued by Spacex, July 2013:
Simon Pope is working with people living in the Dartmoor area on a new commission whose working title is: A Song, A Dance and a New Stannary Parliament.
This new work will explore how traditional musical forms can address contemporary attitudes to land.
Since the closure of its tin mines, Dartmoor’s industrial landscape has become normalised as wilderness, seemingly indistinguishable from the results of geological processes. Yet the gullies and stacks of rock debris are testament of this metal ore’s immense influence on the life of Dartmoor and its people.
The work will ask, how might folk culture adapt to reflect new conditions or understandings? How could we choreograph a new relationship to the environment, and to Dartmoor in particular?
Art as a Social System = Niklas Luhmann
I need to digest what this book is saying.

Reflecting on Tutorial

Following on from last week and Linda Nochlin writing in Women, Art and Power in 1988:

‘..misconception ..that art is the direct, personal expression of individual emotional experience, a translation of personal life into visual terms.  Art is almost never that, great art never is.  The making of art involves a self-consistent language of form, more or less dependent upon, or free from, given temporally defined conventions, schemata, or systems of notation, which have to be learned or worked out, either through teaching, apprenticeship, or a long period of individual experimentation.  The language of art is, more materially, embodied in paint and line on canvas or paper,..  it is neither a sob story nor a confidential whisper.’

It is not always necessary to share.  Curious.  What exactly is going on here, honesty or unburdening?

Grayson Perry in his Reith lecture ‘And perhaps the most shocking tactic that’s left to artists these days is sincerity.’

James Aldridge flourished when he introduce his other passion for nature and birds into his work.

Look at my language, my motifs.  What can I see that is often there, what’s working, what’s not working?  Not sure I have grasped this yet.  It ties in with what Gerald Deslandes was saying last night in his lecture on Language and Consumerism.  I will look into it further as part of the write up on the lecture.

Angela also suggested the work of the philosopher, Alain de Botton, Art is Therapy.  I am hoping he will have some answers.

I think I am being steered away from Nochlin’s ‘translation of personal life into visual terms.’ and towards utilising the essence of me, be that logic, textiles, gardens, colour?  I am sure all will become clearer in time.  It is so very tempting to race ahead to the final chapter to see how this stage of the story ends…

Alain de Botton

Whilst waiting for de Botton’s book, I watched his TED, A kinder, gentler Philosophy of Success, an insight into a successful life and where the idea for our success comes from.  He stressed the importance of us being authors of our own ambition.   As a secular person de Botton’s views on religion in TED Atheism 2.0, are incredibly interesting, almost pointing out the obvious, that we have deliberately ignored, having been seduced by very effective theatrics, repetition, mystique and guided ceremony.  He argues, and I agree, that religions are master marketeers (the Catholic church turns over billions of pounds every year), reminding regularly, with ceremony, that they are there, eloquently preaching, maintaining a consistent viewpoint, massing as a community.  It is impossible to achieve all this as an individual.  He argues that perhaps it is time to cherry pick a new secular ‘religion’.  He has a point.

Elizabeth Gilbert

A comment in Atheism 2.0 led me to Elizabeth Gilbert, TED Your Elusive Creative Genius https://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius

Talking about creativity, success and how to create a psychological construct to distance you from your work,  and handling the inherent emotional risks of creativity

Greeks and Romans believed that genius was external to the creative.  A divine entity.

Creatives are frequently, dark,  anguished and undone by their gifts.  A dangerous situation.

The movement during the Renaissance from having a genius and being a genius, placed the onus for genius on the individual.

Ruth Stone, American poet, who died in 2011 at the age of 96, used to wait for a poem to come towards her whilst working in the field, then run to find paper and pen to write it down.  She believed that if she was too slow the poem would pass to the next poet.

Tom Waits, the embodiment of the tormented contemporary  artist, until he heard a fragment of melody, and had no facility to write while driving.  He spoke to the sky, suggesting that if this creative gift was to be bestowed on him, could it wait until he wasn’t driving. The process and the heavy anxiety around him, and he realised it didnt have to be this internalised tormented thing, it could be a wonderous external exchange.

Gilbert says that after interviewing Wait, she now declares to the corner of her room ‘If this isn’t brilliant then I would like the record to reflect that turn up for my part of the job, so if this isn’t the greatest manuscript,  I have kept my part of the bargain and I will continue to work to the best of my ability.’

She concludes that the creative gift is on loan to you for some exquisite part of your life, then it is  passed on to the next recipient.  Makes sense to me.   That is why it is so important to be and do the best you can.



  1. Sunday Telegraph, Issue #2396, 13 May 2007, Arts Section, Graham-Dixon, A., Heart of Industry

Week 16 – Feminism and Multiculturalism

Feminism and Multiculturalism

Lecture by Gerald Deslande, a successful gallery director in the 1970s and 80s.

I am really struggling with the artistic concept of feminism.

Throughout my working life from 1969 to 2013 I had very little contact with the artistic establishment, either in academia or the commercial sphere, so I am coming to the lecture and the recent Neo Avante-Gard lecture with fresh eyes, and I am uncomfortable with what I am seeing.  This discomfort is on two levels.  Firstly with the visual imagery, which is obviously intended to shock, and on that level, it succeeds, but it is the second level that I find equally shocking, and why the art world found it necessary to stoop to such levels to be noticed, when my experience of the real world was nothing like this.

From 1969 to 1996 I worked full time in the computer industry, designing large insurance systems, then later in financial services in the City.  I have never experienced inequality.  In fact, so much so, that I have always acted and believed and been treated as an equal.  I am not suggesting that inequality doesn’t exist, but I am inclined to think that if you fight it and bring it centre stage, rather than ignore it and act as if it isn’t there, you highlight weakness and provoke a response.  Women are smart.  We are reinventing the game, but quietly.

And so it is from this perspective that I am seeing Feminism in action in art for the first time.  It is not a pretty sight.  Having diligently followed up every artist in the Neo Avante-Gard lecture, because I thought that was what I was supposed to do, and been sickeningly haunted by some of the images, and what supposedly passes for art, I have decided I do not have the stomach to repeat the exercise.  It is sufficient for me to be aware that it was a phase, and like all phases, it too will pass.  For me, art is about nourishing the soul, and I will focus on that.

If the art establishment had devoted as much time to positive creativity, the world might be a better place.

The Venus Project


Thank you Sharon for the pointer and the restoration of balance to the week.

Tracey Emin

On face value, not one of my favourite artists, but after the Feminism lecture, perhaps she has achieved more than I have given her credit for.  Angela, in my tutorial suggested reading critical reviews.  Now is a good time.  I will approach this enquiry with an open mind.

Jonathan Jones writing in the Guardian calls Emins exhibition at the White Cube ‘a lesson in how to be a real artist.’   ‘Her convincing repossession of nude beauty as an artistic theme is just the beginning of this radical exhibition. Emin is an expressionist. Whether she’s using ready made objects or sketching, her true purpose is to communicate passion.’ Up Straight (2014)

Up Straight (2014). Photograph: Tracey Emin


Jones concludes ‘Emin bares her soul by portraying humiliations of the flesh. As the confidence of her drawing seems to break and fail, what’s left is despair.’

Tracey Emin at her show The Last Great Adventure Is You.

Tracey Emin at her show The Last Great Adventure Is You. Photograph: Afp/AFP/Getty Images

Reviewing the same exhibition, Alastair Sooke writing in the Telegraph says ‘Emin in middle age is repositioning herself as a traditionalist at heart.’

In summary, a very different view point compared with Jones,

‘Without her wit and vim to animate them, too many of these small and supposedly “intimate” artworks feel trivial and slight, like forgettable art-school exercises. Occasionally her draughtsmanship approaches something like tension and urgency, but more often it lapses into vague meandering and wishy-washiness.

I find Emin the personality impossible to resist, but her drawings shruggable and nondescript.’


Tracey Emin with one of the works from her new show, the fruit of life-drawing classes in New York

Tracey Emin with one of the works from her new show, the fruit of life-drawing classes in New York

‘Tracey Emin has gone from enfant terrible to establishment figure. But a new show proves that her new work has lost none of its energy or ability to provoke, ‘ writes Karen Wright in the Independent.

‘Good Body (2014) shows her in a pose more odalisque then struggling, while in Up Straight (2014), the line is smooth and fluid – gone is the edginess of her earlier work.’  Of her bronzes Wright says ‘Emin is not another Matisse.’

Wright concludes that in spite of being rich and mixing with the Royals, ‘.. what shows here in Bermondsey is that she is still an artist with energy for work, best when alone in her studio, paintbrush, pencil or embroidery needle in hand.’

Finally, Daniel Barnes writing in Aesthetica.  ‘The devotion to craft and the intimate expression are still there, but the resultant works are cleaner, somehow effortless, with all the toil locked in their conceptual grounding rather than in their physicality. The important thing, as with all Emin’s work, is the way the depth and sincerity is realised in the materiality of the work.’

He summarises, ‘This show is the product of a carefully honed craft that has the expression of human sentiment at its core by an artist who suddenly understands herself as middle-aged and content. And whilst it really is all about Tracey, none of the figures here have faces, as if Emin has once again looked at herself, but she has been unable to distinguish herself from the mass of humanity.’ http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/blog/review-tracey-emin-last-great-adventure/#sthash.sztEGbmb.dpuf

Kirsty Wark interviewing Emin at the White Cube created a different dynamic.  Quite softly spoken , for me, the interview echoes Alistair Sooke’s conclusion.  There is a hesitancy, almost an apology  about the size of the space and the scale of her work.  Has the brash confidence mellowed with age or is the Enfant Terrible of the 80s and 90s suffering the same dilemma we all face as we come to terms with the ageing process.  Who am I now, when everything else is stripped away?  For me her current work is good but not exceptional, what has surprised me is that I have warmed to the fragility of the mellow Tracey.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSdyiB4_4_M

Linda Nochlin – Women, Art and Power

Angela offered this extract from Nochlin’s 1988 book for consideration, ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’

Nochlin suggests ‘But like so many other so-called questions involved in the feminine ‘controversy’, it falsifies the nature of the issue at  the same time that it insidiously supplies its own answer: ‘There are no great women artists because women are incapable of greatness.’  She argues that it depends which side of the equation you find yourself, as to the determination of the ‘question’ or ‘problem.’

She argues ‘The problem lies not so much with some feminists’ concept of what femininity is, but rather with their misconception – shared with the public at large – of what art is: with the naive idea that art is the direct, personal expression of individual emotional experience, a translation of personal life into visual terms.  Art is almost never that, great art never is.  The making of art involves a self-consistent language of form, more or less dependent upon, or free from, given temporally defined conventions, schemata, or systems of notation, which have to be learned or worked out, either through teaching, apprenticeship, or a long period of individual experimentation.  The language of art is, more materially, embodied in paint and line on canvas or paper,..  it is neither a sob story nor a confidential whisper.’

Nochlin concludes ‘Disadvantage may indeed be an excuse; it is not, however, an intellectual position.  Rather, using as a vantage point their situation as underdogs in the realm of grandeur, and outsiders in that of ideology, women can reveal institutional and intellectual weaknesses in general, and, at the same time that they destroy false consciousness, take part in the creation of institutions in which clear thought – and true greatness – are challenges open to anyone, man or woman, courageous enough to take the necessary risk, the leap into the unknown.’1

Reflecting on this passage and the question posed, from the perspective of 1988, Lochlin’s argument is wholly valid.  I would still argue that the ‘greatness’ that has emerged since around this time, in the form of painters like Richard Diebenkorn, Peter Doig, Bruce McLean, and even at a stretch, Mark Rothko, who died in 1970, plus many other male painters, could just as easily have been women. There was no physical reason why couldn’t have produced such work, but instead of just working at their craft as an equal, key female artists chose to gain attention by subjecting themselves in pursuit of a feminist platform.  If this undeniable energy had been channelled into comparative ‘greatness’, there would be no requirement for a feminist movement, and the bedrock, after centuries in the wilderness, would have be laid for all future generations, with the stature assured on an equal footing.  A wasted opportunity.

Ben Okri

It is not just the plight of women artists and their chosen response that Ben Okri writing in the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/27/mental-tyranny-black-writers highlights a similar problem for black and African writers who are pigeon holed into writing about ‘slavery, colonialism, poverty, civil wars, imprisonment, female circumcision, in short, for subjects that reflect the troubles of Africa and black people as perceived by the rest of the world.  They are defined by their subjects.

The black and African writer is expected to write about certain things, and if they don’t they are seen as irrelevant. This gives their literature weight, but dooms it with monotony. Who wants to constantly read a literature of suffering, of heaviness? Those living through it certainly don’t; the success of much lighter fare among the reading public in Africa proves this point. Maybe it is those in the west, whose lives are untouched by such suffering, who find occasional spice and flirtation with such a literature. But this tyranny of subject may well lead to distortion and limitation.’

He concludes ‘The first freedom is mental freedom. We have to seize the freedom to be what we can be, to write whatever we want, with all the mystery and fire of art. It is our responsibility to illuminate the strange corners of what it is to be human.

Literature is the index of our intelligence, our wisdom, our freedom. We must not let anyone define what we write, what we see as worthy of playful or profound investigation in words. “The aim of art,” wrote Aristotle, “is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”

Not the appearance, but the inward significance, radiated from the genius of inner freedom.’

In a similar way, I would argue that Feminism is holding back the female genius.

1.  Linda Lochlin, Women, Art , and Power, New York: Harper and Row 1988.


I was introduced to Wabi-Sabi by Mwamba, who thought it might be of interest to me.  How right he was!

I have just read Leonard Koren’s Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers.  It is not a publication you read, so much as absorb.  As Mathew in his Pecha Kucha presentation on influence explained ‘Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness.’  His images eloquently supported that statement.

Wabi-Sabi is one of the core concepts of Japanese society, yet most Japanese will struggle to explain exactly what it means to western culture.  Koren profers ‘The Japanese language, or the conventions of its use, is good for communicating subleties of mood, vagueness and the logic of the heart, but not so good for explaining things in a rational way?  He continues ‘Almost since its inception as a distinct aesthetic mode, wabi-sabi has been peripherally associated with Zen Buddhism.  ….Since ideological clarity or transparency is not an essential aspect of wabi-sabi, to fully explain the concept, might, in fact, diminish it.

Metaphysical Basis

Things are either devolving towards or evolving from, nothingness.

Spiritual Values

Truth comes from the observation of nature

‘Greatness’ exists in the inconspicuous and overlooked details.

Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness.

State of mind

Acceptance of the inevitable.

Appreciation of the cosmic order.

Moral Precepts

Get rid of all that is unnecessary.

Focus on the intrinsic and ignore material hierarchy.

Material Qualities

The suggestion of natural process.







004 Ash

011 Bulb roots

022 Hydrangea leaf

Not a bad philosophy to live by in our over-stuffed, over-capitalist society.


The Neo-Avant-Garde Lecture

Neo Avant Garde Lecture by Graham Whitham


The term Avant Garde is attributed to Henri St Simon in 1825 and was considered a political, left wing means of communication.

Claude-Henri de Rouvroy, comte de SaintSimon (17 October 1760 – 19 May 1825), also referred to as Henri de SaintSimon, was a French early socialist theorist whose thought influenced the foundations of various 19th century philosophies,  including the philosophy of science and the discipline ofsociology. His thought played a substantial role in influencing positivism,Marxism and the ideas of Thorstein Veblen.  Saint-Simon is considered to be a utopian socialist. For this doctrine, industrial society was divided into working people and non-working people (whom he called “thieves”). However, social improvement in his ideal society would depend on full employment on the one hand, and on the other hand the absence of exploitation of individuals by each other. Society would be subdivided into three classes: owners, workers, and the wise and artists (who would rule society).1.

Taken from The Utopians, ‘Probably the first use of the term ‘Avant-Guard’ to designate an Artistic vanguard appears in the work of the French Utopian Socialist Henri de Saint Simon.  The idea of the Artist as vanguard first appears in a dialogue between an Artist, a Scientist and an Industrialist co-written by Saint – Simon in 1825. To Saint-Simon this trinity of professionals represents the enlightened hope of a new society, and foremost is the Artist ;

‘It is we, artists, who will serve you as avant-garde: the power of the arts is in fact most immediate and most rapid: when we wish to spread new ideas among men, we inscribe them on marble or on canvas;…and in that way above all we exert an electric and victorious influence. We address ourselves to the imagination and to the sentiments of mankind; we should therefore always exercise the livliest and most decisive action; and if today our role appears nil or at very least secondary, what is lacking to the arts is that which is essential to their energy and to their success, namely , a common drive and a general idea.” 2.

‘Let us be filled with one great idea: the well being of society ….We, the artists, will serve as the avant-garde, for amongst all the arms at our disposal, the power of the Arts is the swiftest and most expeditious. When we wish to spread new ideas amongst men, we use, in turn, the lyre, ode or song, story or novel, we inscribe these ideas on marble or canvas, and we popularize them in poetry and in song.

Henri de St Simon, c.1825′ quoted in the American Art Historian, Linda Nochlin’s work The Invention of the Avant-Garde: France, 1830-1880. 3.



Gustave Courbet, The Stonebreakers, 1849, Oil on canvas, 165 x 257 cm (Gemäldegalerie, Dresden (destroyed))

TheStonebreakers  (painted only one year after Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote their influential pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto) the artist’s concern for the plight of the poor is evident. 4.

This life sized painting, a format usually reserved for the wealthy, appears to be a socialist message, that there is no future for the boy.

Courbet became a political activist, communard, elected to the Council of the Commune in 1871. 5.


By 1900 Paul Cezanne was painting with a radically new technique, which, whilst not Avant Garde with a socialist message, the radical technique did align with radical ideas.

Morning in Provence (Sous-Bois Provençal)
c. 1900-06 (130 Kb); Oil on canvas, 81 x 63 cm (32 x 24 7/8 in); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY  6.


George Grosz (July 26, 1893 – July 6, 1959) was a German artist known especially for his caricatural drawings of Berlin life in the 1920s. He was a prominent member of the Berlin Dada and New Objectivity group during theWeimar Republic before he emigrated to the United States in 1933.

Republican Automatons, 1920, watercolour on paper, Museum of Modern Art, New York

He joined the communist party at the end of 1918, but after a six-month stay in Russia in 1922, he resigned from the party in 1923, although his political position was little changed.  The subject matter of his work reflected his socialist views. 7.

Hugo Ball (German: [bal]; 22 February 1886 – 14 September 1927) was a German author, poet and one of the leading Dada artists.

In 1916, Hugo Ball created the Dada Manifesto, making a political statement about his views on the terrible state of society and acknowledging his dislike for philosophies in the past claiming to possess the ultimate Truth. The same year as the Manifesto, in 1916, Ball wrote his poem “Karawane,” which is a poem consisting of nonsensical words. The meaning however resides in its meaninglessness, reflecting the chief principle behind Dadaism.

As co-founder of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich, he led the Dada movement in Zürich, and is one of the people credited with naming the movement “Dada”, by allegedly choosing the word at random from a dictionary

. 8.

The Dadaists stretched the boundaries of what art is, and because of where and when they were formed, and given that they criticised the war and those who perpetuated the war, their activities could be linked to a broad political challenge to the states involved in the war.

1924 Surrealism

Méret Elisabeth Oppenheim (6 October 1913 – 15 November 1985) was a German-born Swiss Surrealist artist and photographer. Oppenheim was a member of the Surrealist movement of the 1920s along with André Breton,Luis Buñuel, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst.

Object (Le Déjeuner en fourrure), 1936, Museum of Modern Art 9.

Surrealism challenged conventional art, challenging conventional practice and forms, which in turn could be assumed that they were challenging controlling systems.

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marqués de Dalí de Pubol (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989), known as Salvador Dalí , was a prominent Spanish Catalan surrealist painter born in Figueres, Spain. 10.

Rainy Taxi 1938, would now be called an installation.

It could be argued that edgy art in the last 20-30 years owes more to this type of art than to canvas paintings.

Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse (31 December 1869 – 3 November 1954) was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. 11.


The Red Room 1908

This painting is essentially about colour and form, about balance, a soothing calming influence on the mind.

In his essay Notes of a Painter in 1908 Matisse wrote ‘What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity- and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.’ 12.

What Matisse is alluding to is that art should pursue and aesthetic end, an escape that you cannot get from life.  Quite the opposite of the Avant Garde, more akin to Cezanne.

Modernism 1950 onwards

Roger Eliot Fry (14 December 1866 – 9 September 1934) was an English artist and art critic, and a member of the Bloomsbury Group.

Elyse Graham writing in ‘An Essay in Aesthetics’ wrote ‘An early but significant article by Roger Fry, “An Essay in Aesthetics” (April 1909, )attempts to describe what art is and why it matters. 13.   …it gives a glimpse of some of the particles of his thought, and it exerted strong influence on Clive Bell when he was writing his own statement of doctrine, Art. ‘If we run in daily life on a healthy fuel of envy and ambition, art reacquaints us with less useful but more important emotions (including what Fry calls “the cosmic emotion”) (27). Art exercises the soul.’ ‘ 14.

Arthur Clive Heward Bell (16 September 1881 – 18 September 1964), generally known as Clive Bell, was an English art critic, associated with formalism and the Bloomsbury Group. 15.

Clive Bell’s Significant Form Theory of Art

Writing on the Stuckism Wales web site about Clive Bell’s theory  which was published by the Project Gutenberg, 16: 17.

‘According to this theory, all objects that evoke aesthetic emotion in us share one quality – significant form – which can be defined as significant relationships between lines, shapes, colors, and other sensory properties.

Like Kant, proponents of this theory see the aesthetic judgement based on a universal standard and the origin of the aesthetic emotion within the object itself.The theory of “Significant form” as propounded by Clive Bell in 1914 was that:

“There must be some one quality without which a work of art cannot exist; possessing which, in the least degree, no work is altogether worthless. What is this quality? What quality is shared by all objects that provoke our aesthetic emotions? What quality is common to Sta. Sophia and the windows at Chartres, Mexican sculpture, a Persian bowl , Chinese carpets, Giotto ‘s frescoes at Padua, and the masterpieces of Poussin, Piero della Francesca, and Cezanne? Only one answer seems possible – significant form. In each, lines and colours combined in a particular way, certain forms and relations of forms, stir our aesthetic emotions. These relations and combinations of lines and colours, these aesthetically moving forms, I call “Significant Form”; and “Significant form” is the one quality common to all works of visual art.”

Bell’s test for great art was the test of time:

“It is the mark of great art that its appeal is universal and eternal………….. Great art remains stable and unobscure because the feelings that it awakens are independent of time and place, because its kingdom is not of this world. To those who have and hold a sense of the significance of form what does it matter whether the forms that move them were created in Paris the day before yesterday or in Babylon fifty centuries ago? The forms of art are inexhaustible; but all lead by the same road of aesthetic emotion to the same world of aesthetic ecstasy.”‘

Clement Greenberg, occasionally writing under the pseudonym K. Hardesh, (January 16, 1909 – May 7, 1994) was an American essayist known mainly as an influential visual art critic closely associated with American Modern art of the mid-20th century. In particular, he is best remembered for his promotion of the abstract expressionist movement and was among the first published critics to praise the work of painter Jackson Pollock. 18.

He argued that it is not the subject that matters but the effect on the viewer.

Paul Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956), known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. He was well known for his unique style of drip painting.

 No 5 1948

Mark Rothko (Marcus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz; September 25, 1903 – February 25, 1970) was an American painter of Russian Jewish descent. He is generally identified as an Abstract Expressionist. 20.

Black on Maroon from Jonathan Jones article in the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/may/13/tate-modern-rothko-black-on-maroon-restored

Willem de Kooning (April 24, 1904 – March 19, 1997) was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

In the post-World War II era, de Kooning painted in a style that came to be referred to as Abstract expressionism or Action painting, and was part of a group of artists that came to be known as the New York School. Other painters in this group included Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart. 21.

Willem de Kooning, Woman V (1952–53), National Gallery of Australia

Robert Rauschenberg (Milton Ernest Rauschenberg October 22, 1925 – May 12, 2008) was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the pop artmovement. Rauschenberg is well known for his “Combines” of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations. Rauschenberg was both a painter and a sculptor and the Combines are a combination of both. 22.

 Canyon 1959

Rauschenberg’s purchase of a De Kooning drawing, and then the act of rubbing it out, shows his displeasure at this type of art.  His work is not an aesthetic pleasure, his work challenges the Abstract Expressionists.  Rauschenberg and is friend Jasper Johns were both Neo Avant Garde painters, a term applied to them retrospectively in the 1970s..

Jasper Johns (born May 15, 1930) is an American painter and printmaker.

Detail of Flag (1954-55). Museum of Modern Art, New York City. This image illustrates Johns’ early technique of painting with thick, dripping encaustic over a collage made from found materials such as newspaper. This rough method of construction is rarely visible in photographic reproductions of his work.23.

Sir Anthony Alfred Caro, OM, CBE (8 March 1924 – 23 October 2013) was an English abstract sculptor whose work is characterised by assemblages of metal using ‘found‘ industrial objects.[1]

Black Cover Flat (1974), steel, Tel Aviv Museum of Art 24.

Modernist, about form and space, with no subject.

In contrast The State Hospital by Edward Kienholz in 1947 is about subject.  Uncomfortable, critical of mental hospitals, a social and political statement.

The State Hospital 1947

Edward Kienholz (October 23, 1927 – June 10, 1994) was an Americaninstallation artist and assemblage sculptor whose work was highly critical of aspects of modern life. 25.

Art critic Brian Sewell called Edward Kienholz “the least known, most neglected and forgotten American artist of Jack Kerouac’s Beat Generation of the 1950s, a contemporary of the writers Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Norman Mailer, his visual imagery at least as grim, gritty, sordid and depressing as their literary vocabulary”.[26)

Greenberg believed that painting was about painting and sculpture about sculpture.

1964  www.guggenheim.org

Kenneth Noland (April 10, 1924 – January 5, 2010) was an American abstract painter.

Daniel Spoerri’s found object snare pictures challenge Greenberg’s medium specific premis.

Kichka’s Breakfast 1960

Daniel Spoerri (born 27 March 1930 in Galați) is a Swiss artist and writer born in Romania.[1] Spoerri is best known for his “snare-pictures,” a type of assemblage or object art, in which he captures a group of objects, such as the remains of meals eaten by individuals, including the plates, silverware and glasses, all of which are fixed to the table or board, which is then displayed on a wall. He also is widely acclaimed for his book, Topographie Anécdotée* du Hasard (An Anecdoted Topography of Chance), a literary analog to his snare-pictures, in which he mapped all the objects located on his table at a particular moment, describing each with his personal recollections evoked by the object.

Spoerri is also closely associated with the Fluxus art movement, a movement formed in the early 1960s, “characterized by a strongly Dadaist attitude,

Spoerri has led a nomadic life, living variously in Bern, Paris, the Greek island of Symi, Düsseldorf, Basel, Munich and Vienna.[14] In 1997 he moved to the Tuscan town of Seggiano where he opened Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri (the Garden of Daniel Spoerri), a sculpture garden, where works by a number of artists are displayed. 27.

Greenberg also argued that art should be gallery based to give the work a special effect.  You respond to it in a special way because it is High Art, and not every day life.

Morris Louis Alpha Epsilon 1960

Morris Louis, born Morris Louis Bernstein (November 28, 1912 – September 7, 1962), was an American painter. During the 1950s he became one of the earliest exponents of Color Field painting.  Louis, along with Kenneth Noland and other Washington painters formed an art movement that is known today as the Washington Color School. 28.

Greenberg argued that High Art should be detached from art and particularly what he called kitsch.  Andy Warhol short circuits all that Greenberg is trying to promote, and whilst Warhol is not a neo Avant Garde he has the consciousness of this movement.

Art Leaves the Gallery

Claes Oldenburg (born January 28, 1929) is an American sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects. 29.

Oldenburg’s Store, 1961

Oldenburg further challenges Greenberg’s view and aesthetics, and the general conception of what is art, with his crudely made detritus of modern life sold in his shop, in Lower Manhattan.  He also appeared in performance art, then known as happenings.  A small invited audience to a non gallery, non theatre space, non scripted, with the audience part of the performance itself.  Oldenburg believed  theatre  to be the most powerful art form, because it is so involving.

George Maciunas  (November 8, 1931 – May 9, 1978) was a Lithuanian-born American artist. He was a founding member and the central coordinator of Fluxus, an international community of artists, architects, composers, and designers. Other leading members brought together by this movement included Ay-O, Joseph Beuys, George Brecht, Dick Higgins, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, and Wolf Vostell. He is most famous for organising and performing early happenings and for assembling a series of highly influential artists’ multiples.

Whilst Maciunas was still alive, no fluxus work was ever signed or numbered,[20] and many weren’t even credited to any artist. As such, huge confusion continues to surround many key fluxus works; Maciunas strived to uphold his stated aims of demonstrating the artist’s ‘non-professional status…his dispensability and inclusiveness’ and that ‘anything can be art and anyone can do it.30. 31.

Nam June Paik (July 20, 1932 – January 29, 2006) was a Korean American artist. He worked with a variety of media and is considered to be the founder of video art. 32.

Zen for Head

In this performance Paik is painting with his head.  Again challenging the concept of what art is.

Shigeko Kubota painting with a brush attached to her under clothes.  A feminist pastiche of Pollack’s macho work.

Neo Avant Garde is about parody. Peter Occonchi, his teeth are his signature, challenging the notion of individuality.

Bruce McLean (born 1944) is a Scottish sculptor, performance artist and painter.

McLean was born in Glasgow[1] and studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1961 to 1963, and at Saint Martin’s School of Art, London, from 1963 to 1966.[2] At Saint Martin’s, McLean studied with Anthony Caro [3] and Phillip King. In reaction to what he regarded as the academicism of his teachers he began making sculpture from rubbish.[4]

McLean has gained international recognition for his paintings, ceramics, prints, work with film, theatre and books.[5] McLean was Head of Graduate Painting atThe Slade School of Fine Art London [6] He has had numerous one man exhibitions including Tate Gallery in London, The Modern Art Gallery in Vienna and Museum of Modern Art, Oxford.[7] In 1985, he won the John Moores Painting Prize.[8]

Mclean lives and works in London. 34.

Pose Work for Plinth 3, 1971

A McClean silk screen.  He challenged the pompousness of the art world and mocked established art forms.

Bruce Nauman (born December 6, 1941) is a contemporary American artist. His practice spans a broad range of media including sculpture, photography,neon, video, drawing, printmaking, and performance. 35.

Artist as a Fountain with a nod to Duchamp.

Ana Mendieta (18 November 1948 – 8 September 1985) was a Cuban American performance artist, sculptor, painter and video artist who is best known for her “earth-body” art work.

Recreated  a rape scene following such an incident at her student block.

Carolee Schneemann (born October 12, 1939) is an American visual artist, known for her discourses on the body, sexuality and gender. 37.

Interior Scroll 1973

A text about conventional differences between men and women, with women being about intuition and bodily processes, and men being about rationality and being logical.  A shocking performance for its time.

Semiotics of the Kitchen is a feminist parody video and performance piece released in 1975 by Martha Rosler. The video, which runs six minutes, is considered a critique of the commodified versions of traditional women’s roles in modern society. 38.

Martha Rosler (born July 29, 1943)[1] is an American artist. She works in video, photo-text, installation, and performance, as well as writing about art and culture. Rosler’s work is centered on everyday life and the public sphere, often with an eye to women’s experience. Recurrent concerns are the media and war, as well as architecture and the built environment, from housing and homelessness to systems of transport. 39.

Gutai Artist Saburo Murakami


With our present awareness, the arts we have known up to now appear to us in general to be fakes fitted out with a tremendous affectation. Let us take leave of these piles of counterfeit objects on the altars, in the palaces, in the salons and the antique shops. These objects are in disguise and their materials such as paint, pieces of cloth, metals, clay or marble are loaded with false significance by human hand and by way of fraud, so that, instead of just presenting their own material, they take on the appearance of something else. Under the cloak of an intellectual aim, the materials have been completely murdered and can no longer speak to us. Lock these corpses into their tombs. Gutai art does not change the material but brings it to life. Gutai art does not falsify the material …So begins the Gutai Manifesto, written by Jiro Yoshihara in 1956 (English translation here). In the late 1940s, Gutai co-founder Shozo Shimamoto had started aestheticising holes in stretched canvases (seehere), emphasising the corporeal contact made between painter and painting (incidentally, Fontana was developing his Cuts around the same time in Italy).

Pictured here is Gutai artist Saburo Murakami’s action work at the 2nd Gutai Art Exhibition in Ohara Hall, Tokyo, in 1956 (below is a reconstruction of the same work in a Gutai retrospective at the 2009 Venice Biennale). Concerning himself with the physical reality of the painter’s canvas, his bodily intervention complicated the relationship between art production and performance.

The Gutai Group’s work around Japan in the ’50s and ’60s anticipated later performance art, happenings and conceptualism in the west, and they had an especially formative influence on the Fluxus movement. They were explicitly concerned with the materiality of art (gutai means ‘tangible’ or ‘concrete’) and, by extension, its material degradation. The manifesto continues:

… what is interesting in this respect is the novel beauty to be found in works of art and architecture of the past which have changed their appearance due to the damage of time or destruction by disasters in the course of the centuries. This is described as the beauty of decay, but is it not perhaps that beauty which material assumes when it is freed from artificial make-up and reveals its original characteristics? The fact that the ruins receive us warmly and kindly after all, and that they attract us with their cracks and flaking surfaces, could this not really be a sign of the material taking revenge, having recaptured its original life? … 40.

Gustav Metzger: Auto-Destructive Art (1959)

Auto-destructive art is primarily a form of public art for industrial societies.

Self-destructive painting, sculpture and construction is a total unity of idea, site, form, colour, method, and timing of the disintegrative process.

Auto-destructive art can be created with natural forces, traditional art techniques and technological techniques.

The amplified sound of the auto-destructive process can be an element of the total conception.

The artist may collaborate with scientists, engineers.

Self-destructive art can be machine produced and factory assembled.

Auto-destructive paintings, sculptures and constructions have a life time varying from a few moments to twenty years. When the disintegrative process is complete the work is to be removed from the site and scrapped.

Gustav Metzger painting with hydrochloric
acid on nylon. South Bank, London, 1961/1966. 42.

Vienna Actionists

Hermann Nitsch (born 29 August 1938) is an Austrian artist who works in experimental and multimedia modes.

Born in Vienna, Nitsch received training in painting when studied at the Wiener Graphische Lehr-und Versuchanstalt, during which time he was drawn toreligious art.[1][2] He is associated with the Vienna Actionists—a loosely affiliated group of off-kilter and confrontational Austrian artists that also includes Günter Brus, Otto Muehl, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler

Also, it is often discussed today that his work may exemplify cultures’ fascination with violence.41.

Their work was socially critical, made to shock, challenging the conventions of art.

Then as it becomes accepted, does it then have to become more offensive?  In 1966 there was The Destruction in Art Symposium at which Yoko Ono performed her Cut Piece and John Latham set fire to a  tower of law and reference books outside the Law Courts, British Museum and the University of London.

Nights of Skoob Sadness 2



John Aubrey Clarendon Latham, (23 February 1921 – 1 January 2006) was a Zambia-born, British conceptual artist who lived for many years in England.

Fluxis Manifesto – George Maciunas

This document was very much a left wing, Marxist, anarchist political manifesto ‘Purge the world of bourgeois sickness’.  Early 1960s.

In 1968, political upheaval, in Czechoslovakia, those against the Vietnam war, in London the march to Grosvenor Square,  Kennedy was shot, Martin Luther King was assassinated, a significant year, a stand against an anachronistic  establishment, the underground, the drug culture, student riots, almost revolution in Paris.

Martha Rosler

First Lady (Pat Nixon) 1967-72

The idea being that you felt there were two worlds existing.  Anti American.

Brazilian Cildo Meireles ‘Yankees go home, and how to make a molatov cocktail’.

The Neo Avant Garde responded to the social and political unrest.

Anyone Can Be An Artist

This period can be summed up by

The Revolution is Us’, Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys12 May 1921 – 23 January 1986) was a German Fluxus, happening and performance artist as well as asculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist and pedagogue of art.

His extensive work is grounded in concepts of humanism, social philosophyand anthroposophy; it culminates in his “extended definition of art” and the idea of social sculpture as a gesamtkunstwerk, for which he claimed a creative, participatory role in shaping society and politics. His career was characterized by passionate, even acrimonious public debate. He is now regarded as one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century.[43)

Artistically challenging the conventions, some of what he is doing is clearly political and was attacked by neo nazis.  He is also setting himself up as an Art Shaman.

Art has a purpose, to feed the human spirit.  In 1970’s he was allied to the Green Party.  If we pursue some of  his ideas we will change society for the better.

1974 Literary  Critic Peter Burger wrote The Theory of the Avant Garde, which looks at the Establishment’s embrace of socially critical works of art and suggests that in complicity with capitalism, “art as an institution neutralizes the political content of the individual work” 44.

He talked about Neo Avant Garde was critical to controlling political and cultural elites.  He compared it to the inter war Avant Garde, particularly Dada and Surrealism, which was deemed to have failed.  Neo Avant Garde is seen as  ineffectual of being critical of ruling elites, because all it was doing was repeating the strategies of the Avant Garde.

Yves Klein ( 28 April 1928 – 6 June 1962) was a French artist considered an important figure in post-war European art. He is the leading member of the French artistic movement of Nouveau réalisme founded in 1960 by art critic Pierre Restany. Klein was a pioneer in the development of performance art, and is seen as an inspiration to and as a forerunner of Minimal art, as well as Pop art.

Painting with female bodies. This type of work he called Anthropometry.

The performance in the Neo Avant Garde manner resulted in canvases which are now in museums.  If the work is challenging the establishment, why make something that the establishment can own.


Niki de Saint Phalle ‘Shooting Picture’, 1961<br />
© The estate of Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint-Phalle Shooting Picture 1961

Which again is now in a museum.

Piero Manzoni (July 13, 1933 – February 6, 1963) was an Italian artist best known for his ironic approach to avant-garde art. Often compared to the work of Yves Klein, his own work anticipated, and directly influenced, the work of a generation of younger Italian artists brought together by the critic Germano Celant in the first Arte Povera exhibition held in Genoa, 1967.[1] Manzoni is most famous for a series of artworks that call into question the nature of the art object, directly prefiguring Conceptual Art.[2][3] His work eschews normal artist’s materials, instead using everything from rabbit fur to human excrementin order to “tap mythological sources and to realize authentic and universal values”. 45.

The tins of excrement were sold in limited editions for the price of the weight in gold. Clearly a critique on the value of art and what the artist produces, literally.

John Latham chewed the pages of Claude Greenberg’s book and stored the pulp in glass vials which are now at the MoMa in New York.

More genuine in his critique, Hotaka asking people to vote yes or no.  The question is about Rockefeller supporting Nixon, and as a trustee of the MoMa, it was shown there.

STUART BRISLEY, You Know It Makes Sense, 1972, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

70sWorksYou Know It Makes Sense (with reference to allegations made against the British Army in Ulster concerning torture), 1972  46.

He and others were in a room for several day ‘re-enacting’.

Hannah Wilke (born Arlene Hannah Butter; March 7, 1940 – January 28, 1993)[1] was an American painter, sculptor, photographer, video artist and performance artist. 47.

To confront the erotic representation of women in popular culture.

Margaret Harrison, Kay Hunt and  Mary Kelly presented a sociological study in an art gallery, entitled Women at Work: A Document on the Division of Labour in Industry 1973-75.  Coming to it a gallery it could  be argued that it has a greater impact.

Victor Burgin subverting the medium to give the opposite message, 1976.  However the impact accowas virtually nil.

Jo Spence

Hackney Flashers, panel from exhibition
(Who’s still holding the baby?), 1978

Making visible the invisible, demonstrating women’s contribution to the economy.

Is This the Future?

Artist Placement Group, John Latham, Ian Breakwell and Barbara Stephani.  In 1969 the artist was placed in the company to produce a work of art.

Stuart Brisley making a sculpture out of chair frames at Hille in Suffolk in 1970.

STUART BRISLEY, Hille Fellowship, 1970, Poly Wheel – Robin Day stacking chairs. 212 chairs circle.

Exploiting the nature of the material.

As part of the APG Ian Breakwell worked in Broadmoor and Rampton hospitals in 1978.  The results included a report, co-written with a group of architects, recommending top-to-bottom changes at Rampton, and a film, The Institution (1978), made with the singer-songwriter and artist Kevin Coyne. 48.

An artist, an open thinking person, can come in and see things.

Reflections on the Lecture

A comprehensive introduction to a number of key artists in this period, and the history behind the movement.

I found the social history and the movement’s place in history, far more interesting than the work produced by the artists in question.  Pushing the boundaries for the sake of proving they could do it, feels more like children rebelling, than artists taking creativity to new heights.  I found the role of women, as presented, particularly disappointing.  Art is about enriching the soul, not challenging the viewer to the point of feeling sickened.  I may be wrong but I can’t imagine that this period will be influencing my work.

Early 1960s-1970s.  By 1978 Neo Avant  Garde has become more conventionalised.   How might they inform things that have happenened since?

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Henri_de_Rouvroy,_comte_de_Saint-Simon

2. http://bak.spc.org/subversion/utopia.html

3. https://www.msu.edu/course/ha/446/nochlinavant-garde.pdf

4. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/becoming-modern/avant-garde-france/realism/a/courbet-the-stonebreakers

5. http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/courbet-dossier/biography.html

6. http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/cezanne/land/

7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Grosz

8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Ball

9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A9ret_Oppenheim

10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvador_Dal%C3%AD

11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Matisse

12. http://www.mariabuszek.com/kcai/Expressionism/Readings/MtsseNotes.pdf

13. 1 Fry, Roger. “An Essay in Aesthetics.” New Quarterly, 2 (April 1909), 171-90. Reprinted in Vision and Design (London: Chatto and Windus, 1928), pp. 16-38. Hereafter cited by page number only.

14. http://modernism.research.yale.edu/wiki/index.php/An_Essay_in_Aesthetics

15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clive_Bell

16. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16917/16917-h/16917-h.htm

17. http://stuckismwales.co.uk/theory/tblast/significant.php

18. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clement_Greenberg

19. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackson_Pollock

20. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Rothko

21. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willem_de_Kooning

22. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Rauschenberg

23. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jasper_Johns

24. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Caro

25. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Kienholz

26. Sewell, Brian (19 November 2009). “Truth about the sex trade from Edward Kienholz”. London Evening Standard. Retrieved 2014-07-01.

27. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Spoerri

28. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_Louis

29. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claes_Oldenburg

30. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Maciunas MOMA.org/Fluxus

31. A 1965 Inventory list by Maciunas, quoted in Mr Fluxus, p88

32. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nam_June_Paik

33. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, The New Media Reader, MIT Press, 2003, p227. ISBN 0-262-23227-8

Jump up^ Judkis, Maura (December 12, 2012). “”Father of video art” Nam June Paik gets American Art Museum exhibit (Photos)”. The Washington Post.

34. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_McLean

35. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Nauman

36. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ana_Mendieta

37, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolee_Schneemann

38. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiotics_of_the_Kitchen

39. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Rosler

40. http://biginjapan.com.au/2011/08/art-of-destruction/

41. http://radicalart.info/destruction/metzger.html

42. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Nitsch

43. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Beuys

44. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avant-garde

45. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piero_Manzoni

46. http://www.stuartbrisley.com/pages/27/70s/Works/You_Know_It_Makes_Sense__with_reference_to_allegations_made_against_the_British_Army_in_Ulster_concerning_torture_/page:8

47. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Wilke

48. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Breakwell