Week 8

Allen Jones

Zoe William’s writing in the Guardian about the Allen Jones exhibition at the RA, London until 25 January 2014 ponders where we are in the objectification art-ifying debate, nearly 50 years on.

Chair by Allen Joneshttp://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/nov/10/allen-jones-sexist-art-royal-academy-review?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

She concludes ‘Did second-wave feminists shoot the messenger? Or did he mangle the message? The debate is still open.’

The debate lingers on in our household too.  My husband owns a postcard of the image, my step-daughter is at a loss to understand her father.  I decided to seek the views of some younger males, in their mid twenties.  I asked them to comment on the image with no context.

My son’s view

Upon first view it struck me as something owned by a person who’s run out of ways to waste their fortune. I’d imagine it to sit alongside various other novelty items which together make up an in cohesive room with no discernible style.

There’s no doubt a market for it amongst the chauvinistic male from the playboy generation who will use the piece primarily as a symbol of power and dominance. However, despite the somewhat offensive undertone for such an image, the craftsmanship and idea behind it is clever and unique.

His friend’s view

I find the image difficult to make sense of. I guess that the initial idea behind furniture like this was to create an air of decadence in a space by referencing taboo bondage and erotic subcultures and turning them into arbitrary items like furniture. I’m not sure it stands up in this day and age though, where the sexually explicit is pretty well accepted as a fact of life by a lot of western culture, to the point where it kind of ceases to be explicit at all.

Once you get over the initial and slightly shocking perception of this object being something which is degrading to women (and I reckon it definitely is), you see a naivety in it. Like it is reflecting our own cosseted attitudes about sex and sexuality in the past, which these days are much more fluid and accepting.

Now, it is probably not much more impactful than as a curio from a bygone age. In fact what’s quite interesting is that a deeper and more powerful message about the subjugation of women has probably become more apparent, as a result of its diminishing power as an erotic object.



I visited the Musee Marmottan029

a beautiful building housing the largest collection of works by  Claude Monet, I believe, in the world.

The current exhibition Impression, soleil levant
L’histoire vraie du chef-d’oeuvre de Claude Monet

focuses on this painting, tracing the history of the Impressionist movement through the works of Monet.

There is also a large collection of works by Berthe Morisot, a woman ahead of her time.

gg2p Berthe Morisot: A Woman French Impressionist in a Man’s World   Berthe Morisot Self Portrait 408

Self portrait

My lasting memory, however, is the huge circular room with maybe 12 large (2 x 1.5m) paintings of water lilies.  I hadn’t realised he had painted them so many times.  A peaceful oasis away from the Parisian traffic.

Frank Gehry

For 6 years my office window overlooked the Richard Roger’s Lloyds’ building in the City, which ignited an interest in contemporary architecture.  I was keen to see the new Frank Gehry built for Louis Vuitton.020

Spectacular, yes, but whereas I could appreciate the reason for the external services on the Roger’s building both at Lloyds and the Pompidou Centre039


I could see no relevance or functional purpose for the sail like structures, in a city centre.  It is difficult to tell whether the covering for the ‘sails’ is glass, but it looks plastic.  Not very Vuitton.

Sonia Delauney

This is the first major Sonia Delaunay retrospective in Paris since 1967, at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. There are over 400 works: paintings, wall decorations, gouaches, prints, fashion items and textiles. Coat made for Gloria Swanson, by Sonia Delaunay, 1923-24.Tracing the artist’s evolution since the beginning of the 20th century to the late 1970s, this exhibition highlights her work in the applied arts, her distinctive place in Europe’s avant-garde movements and her major role as a pioneering abstractionist.Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979) | Orphism Art Movement

Together with her husband Robert she is credited with founding the Orphism movement, noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes.

An illustrated poem

A visual feast in the perfect gallery space.

David Altmejd

Canadian sculptor David Altmejd’s exhibition also at the MAM was quite a different experience.  The gallery handout talks of ‘lucid dreams’, and ‘Altmejd works in direct contact with psychic flux. In his “definitive dreamer’s” world action and consciousness merge: he dominates the grotesque and the abject, combines aesthetics and ‘glamour’ and uses his sculptures to explore the worlds of dream and nightmare in a mingled ambience of fascination and terror.’

A huge body of work.

Not sure I understand it, nor would I like to be inside his head.

Raoul Dufy

Raoul Dufy -  La Fée Électricité (1937)

An extraordinary work of 250 canvases housed in a semicircular space at the MAM, measuring 60 x 10m.   The work was commissioned for the International Exhibition in 1937, notably for the concave wall of the Palais de la Lumière et de l’Electricité, built by Mallet Stevens on the Champs-de-Mars. In accordance with the brief from his sponsors, the Compagnie parisienne de Distribution d’Electricité, he told the story of The Electricity Fairy based on De Rerum natura by Lucretius. In this composition he works from right to left on two main themes, the history and applications of electricity, from the earliest observations up to the most modern technical achievements.  The work took 10 months to completed.


In the Realm of the Unmentionable – The Chapman Brothers

Either side of the soon to be reconstructed and reopened pier, in a forgotten corner of the South East coast, sit Hastings and St Leonards.  

It’s brasher neighbour Brighton & Hove takes centre stage on the South coast today, having grown from a fishing village in the early 18th century, to a city of 250,000 people today, but it is Hastings and St Leonards with only 90,000 people,  that has the real history running through its streets and its festivals, dating back to the defining Battle of Hastings in 1066.

The Jerwood with East Hill funicular railway leading to the Hastings Country Park, and Old Town to the left.

It is here, at the foot of Old Town, at Rock a Nore, on the Stade that the prestigious two year old Jerwood Gallery sits overlooking the fishing boats.  The exhibition has been made possible  through ‘Art Happens’, the Art Fund’s crowd-funding platform, which raised nearly £30,000 to fund the event.

Last night, caught in an unexpected torrential storm, I entered the Jerwood to see the latest work from the Chapman brothers, Jake, a painter and Dinos a sculptor, In the Realm of The Unmentionable, a fitting start to a dark and uncomfortable experience .

The brothers, arch-provocateurs of Young British Art, grew up in the town, that clearly haunts them.  In a recent interview with Jonathan Jones of the Guardian “It figures quite a lot in my nightmares,” says Dinos. As kids here in the 1970s, they lived in the middle-class St Leonards neighbourhood – their father was an art teacher – and remember being terrified of the boys and “derelicts” from the old town around today’s gentrified historic fishing beach.  Adding that “it used to be called ‘Smack-on-Sea’”.  Happy days!

This article from the local paper includes a short video of a small sample of the exhibition for those who aren’t able to make it to Hastings.  http://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/news/local/chapman-brothers-return-to-hastings-1-6377839

The huge, (each cabinet must be about 3m x 1m x 2m high) Sum of All Evil, especially reworked, stops you in your tracks as you enter the main room.

 The cabinets before the reworking of the models.

Chris Connelley writing in the Hastings Online Times admits ‘ I have always been a huge fan of the Chapman Brothers’ http://hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk/arts-culture/visual-arts/chapman-bros-at-jerwood  Describing the scene inside the cabinets as ‘rainbow-socked, hacked-off-at-the-ankle god-like figure presides over thousands of models, dead and barely alive, in an uncompromising killing fields landscape that demands our extended close attention, taking the traditional museum battle diorama to an altogether different level.’

The walls either side of the cabinets are hung with maybe 80 identically sized etchings in a regimented row, half from 2012 and the remainder completed this year, of Los Caprichos, the reworked set of 18th century etchings by Goya.

A wide shot of the exhibition.

In contrast the far wall contains a patchwork of framed childlike sketches, reaching far out of possible view, interspersed with three academic drawings that Jake Chapman made in Hastings in 1983, when he was 19.  In the most ambitious of them – titled Ken and the Skeleton – a sad, middle-aged male nude poses beside a hard-boned skeleton.

Then there is the Emin tent.  Why?  And the lowered ceiling with a tiny painting by A Hitler, and more work the other side….


Connelley concludes ‘All in all, In the Realm is a triumphant homecoming, which grapples with dark, disturbing and distressing themes with such a playful, arch, even comic touch that it prompts easy, regular, ready smiles alongside our uncomfortability, upset and unease. The work on display quite simply demands our fullest attention, and is genuinely engrossing, ensuring our visit is an unusually immersive experience in our often-vanilla walk-on-by contemporary visual culture.’

Jonathan Jones from the Guardian calls it ‘a hilarious, horrifying orgy of darkness’  http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/oct/24/jake-dinos-chapman-review-hastings-jerwood-gallery-realm-unmentionable  ‘From copulating plastic dinosaurs to crucified Ronald McDonalds and the severed feet of God, the arch-provocateurs’ teeming macabre landscapes offer a powerful vision of modern brutality’.  

His closing comment ‘Their triumphant return to Hastings reveals that behind the comic horror of their art lurks a powerful vision of the modern world’s brutality.’ does not appear to be universally shared judging by the comments following the article,

conanthebikeman 24 October 2014 4:45pm

Dear Jake and Dinos
Give it a bloody rest and move on.

MickGJ to conanthebikeman  24 October 2014 10:08pm

Have they shoehorned Hitler in again?

Apparently Nazis are quite bad people, something no-one would have known without YBA. Also, war can be quite horrid, so best avoided.

Detail from one of the cabinets

 Castrated, Ossified (Bronze 2006) approx (from memory) 100 x 60 x 60cms

It felt like an exhibition for lovers of Monty Python, which I am not.  My husband loved it.

Was it the town that influenced their work, or did they manage to develop such an unforgiving view of humanity all by themselves?

Week 6

German Art

Radio 4 series Germany: Memories of… today’s episode Purging the Degenerate focused on the Jewish potter Grete Marks, also known as Margarete Heymann-Löbenstein and Margarete Heymann-Marks, 1899-1990, initially trained at the Bauhaus, first founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919.    In 1923, she founded the Haël Workshops for Artistic Ceramics at Marwitz with her husband Gustav Loebenstein and his brother Daniel, where she manufactured her Modern ceramic designs.  In 1928, following the accidental death of her husband, and the rise of the Nazi party, she was forced to sell factory.  Her work was considered degenerate by the Nazi party, and in 1936 she was forced to flee to Stoke on Trent in England, with the help of Ambrose Heal, of Heal’s in London, who stocked her ceramics.

The pot described in the programme as illustrating history.

The Imagine.. The Art That Hitler Hated series on BBC1 gives an insight into how artists that were considered by Hitler to not be representing the German taste, were vilified and their work, supposedly, destroyed.  After 1938, it became illegal for Jews to buy or sell art, which meant that many collections were either confiscated outright or bought at derisory prices from fleeing emigrants.

Matisse's Femme Assise

Matisse’s Femme Assise

In 2010 in a routine spot-check on a German train, Cornelius Gurlitt, son of Hildebrand, Cornelius Gurlittan unemployed 77-year-old pensioner with no visible means of support, was discovered by customs agents to be carrying €9,000 in cash: not an illegal sum, but enough to arouse suspicions of tax evasion. When the police entered his home in Munich two years late, as part of their investigation, they found 1,280 works of art, including pieces by Dürer, Renoir, and Picasso, in the rented flat. Many of the pieces in this collection, whose value approached a billion euros, had been missing since the Second World War.  Cornelius died in May this year, leaving the collection to the Kunstmuseum Bern in Switzerland.

The documentary looks at how Hildebrand Gurlitt, a Nazi-approved art dealer, smuggled degenerate works out of sight of the Fuhrer.   Here Tim Martin of the Telegraph reviews the documentary.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/11190956/The-Art-that-Hitler-Hated.html.

I find it beyond my comprehension how it must have felt to be born of that  time, where logic and beauty were alien.

I spotted this work by Wassily Kandinsky in the documentary.

FB_sam03_kandinsky_g_lg.jpg 1,250×1,063 pixels

Improvisation 10, oil on canvas 1024 x 768 cms 1910

I am not so keen on Kandinsky’s later work (he died in 1944), but the work he produced around 1910, really speaks to me.  I need to work out just why this is and to work out how to use this new found understanding in my own work.   http://www.pinterest.com/susanmilleruk/wassily-kandinsky/

Rob Ryan

In Interview-Artists 2010, Ryan describes his journey from RCA screen printing to exquisite cutouts. 

Work in progress.  http://www.pinterest.com/susanmilleruk/rob-ryan/

We have a book and a mug of his work, but until I read the interview, I, shamefully, hadn’t really been conscious of him as an artist.

Does the overt commercialisation of his work, add to, or diminish his stature as an artist?

Terry Setch

What I am loving about  this course is that every day I am discovering jewels that lead me on a trail of discovery.  I am hoping that this is all feeding into bubbling creativity, because I am becoming so absorbed in the process, I am having little time to produce work myself.

Setch is such a jewel.  Working with encaustic wax (whatever that is-YouTube is such an amazing resource!) he is producing gently coloured powerful works, depicting the damage of pollution and with a sense of irony, using a pollutant to achieve the image.

Severn Estuary.

The BBC library, Your Paintings, 35 of his images and where they can be viewed  http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/search/painted_by/terry-setch

Images from his exhibition in Glamorgan in 2011 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-15255578


London W1X - Terry Setch latest show showing recent works at Cork Street

Time is Running Out 2011 from a recent exhibition in Cork St, London.

Yinka Shonibare MBE

The interview with Nigerian born Yinka Shonibare, in Interview Artists- 2010 focuses on his inspiration for the work in Trafalgar Square, and as such doesnt really give a full insight into his artistic journey.  What you do learn is his driving force, his background, his symbolism, ships and their movement of people, globalisation and its roots in the colonial period.  All of which influences his subject mater and choice of materials.


Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square 2009 250 x 250 x50cms


Yinka Shonibare African Batik Sculpture - Yorkshire Sculpture Park-2 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I particularly liked this sculpture in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and 

Creative Review, commissioned for the Brighton Festival 2014, which again, shamefully I didn’t see.

Sargy Mann

Sargy Mann has been blind for the last 25 years.


Tim Adams writing in the Guardian in 2010,  ‘Even before he lost his sight, Sargy Mann was obsessed with ways of seeing. As a young painter he was tutored by singular realists – Frank Auerbach, Euan Uglow – who insisted that an individual artist must be exactly true to what he saw. For much of his working life Mann taught students at Camberwell School of Art all he knew about representing light and colour on canvas, with particular reference to Bonnard and Matisse,’

As he says ‘If your subject is your own experience then if you are having an experience, you have a subject.’


This BBC article includes a video of how Mann approaches his work. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-29741908

Extraordinary determination to succeed against the odds.  Particularly relevant to me, following an operation to remove a cataract and replace my lenses.   Ongoing issues with my sight,  particularly during periods of stress or exhaustion, make me very aware of how easily I could be in the same situation as Mann.  His resolve has really heartened me.

Online Journal Review

Evaluating the Options

I have been asked to research an online journal that is relevant to my work.

I considered the publications suggested by Angela Rogers.  Art Review, Art Forum and Art Monthly, but all felt too ‘busy’, and their international bias made them less relevant to my need.

Art Review http://www.artreview.com

Art Forum http://www.artforum.com

Contemporary Art Daily is a ‘quieter’ publication, but its focus on international exhibitions, whilst interesting , the fact that I wouldn’t be able to see the exhibits, limits its appeal to me and where I currently am in my work.  Contemporary Art Daily http://www.contemporaryartdaily.com

The Journal of Modern Craft is a possibility, but it feels more like a physical publication than an online journal.  www.bergpublishers.com/bergjournals/thejournalofmoderncraft/tabid/3254/default.aspx

The Journal of Contemporary Painting will be published online from 2015.  http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-Journal,id=239/  The Journal is aimed at academics, critics, writers, artists, curators and the gallery-going public.  Research essays complement reviews and interviews that are responsive to current debates in painting and related art practices.

I also checked to see whether there was anything that focused on painting specifically, but everything I found addressed the amateur market.  http://www.artistsnetwork.com/the-artists-magazine

The After All Journal is a densely worded review, devoid of illustration, which doesn’t invite the reader to linger. http://www.afterall.org/journal/issue.12/why.are.conceptual.artists.painting.again.because.

I then considered the broadsheet reviews and weekly publications.  I receive a daily culture feed from the Guardian, so that is also a possibility.  I finally selected The New Statesman, seduced by Caroline Crampton’s sensitive article about a little known work by John Tavener, Flood of Beauty.  http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/10/sound-and-vision-john-taveners-flood-beauty

The New Statesman

This is a free (as far as I could tell) online  weekly journal.  The format has a familiar feel, the articles easy to read and the site is easy to navigate.  The online articles are taken from a number of editions, and here perhaps is the problem, the Hodgkin exhibition runs until November 15, but the Rego finished on the 25 October.

Michael Prodger interviewed the octogenarian Howard Hodgkin, who claimed he has never liked painting, Howard Hodgkin in his studio, His exhibition Green Matters is on at the Alan Cristea Gallery, London, W1, until 15 November.


and reviewed Paula Rego’s recent exhibition, The Last King of Portugal, at the Marlborough Gallery, London, W1.

Grayson Perry was recently a guest editor, with an article ‘The Rise and Fall of Default Man’ Grayson Perry’s Attack of the Clones

Mark Lawson’s review of Steve McQueen’s Ashes, a looped video, and Broken Column, his latest sculpture at Duke St in St James, London, with the quirky title  ‘Tracey Emin and Steve McQueen: still paid-up members of the awkward art squad’, is an interesting take on what might have been a rather dry description of McQueen’s latest work, with Ms Emin mockingly taking centre stage, and the said work, not in sight.

You are able to create an account and a profile page, where you can leave personalised comments, save articles to your library, and (coming soon) discuss the issues of the day with fellow New Statesmen readers, if you so desire.  Email feeds are also available.


The cultural section of The New Statesman includes some thoughtful, well written articles, and is predominately London centric, which is accessible for me.   Relevance to what is actually happening is probably better served by Time Out http://www.timeout.com/london, but if the reviews are of value, then, even if not current, The New Statesman is a good resource.


I have been exploring the subject of creativity, not least because coming to the role of full time artist so late in life, I have a lot of work to do to position myself, so that what I do is paint.  This is as much a mental adjustment, as a physical one.  Where others have spent a lifetime doing what comes naturally, I am having to teach and permit myself, whilst soaking up everything else that my new life has to offer.

I have the added hurdle that my working life has focused on the logic side of my brain and now I need to move that out of the way, to allow the creative side to take centre stage.

To guide me in this process I am reading Dr Shelley Carson’s Your Creative Brain, which, through a series of exercises, firstly, establishing my skill bias, and then by suggesting exercises designed to enhance my less dominant abilities, I am hoping to fast-track the opening of my creative pathways.

My highest scoring brainset, not surprisingly, was reasoning, closely followed by connecting; my lowest were transforming and streaming, which both barely registered  a point.  Surprisingly I score equally for Deliberate and Spontaneous pathways, although given that I have lived a fully functioning right and left brain life, maybe it is not surprising at all.

The exercises will form an essential daily part of my creative work, and I view them as the key to opening up the untapped energy, that has been marginalised for so long.

I am particularly interested in how other creatives, from all disciplines, access this energy.  By chance I happened to listen to Desert Island Discs, and listening to these two hugely successful women, was a good starting point.

Debbie Wiseman

The composer of TV  music, including Judge John Deed, The Andrew Marr show and a host of award winning films including Tom and Viv, was interviewed by Kirsty Wark on Desert Island Discs.  Wark manages to extract a real insight into the character and motivation behind the creativity of Wiseman.

She felt compelled to write music since a very early age and cannot go a day without writing something.  The pressures of writing to a deadline, finding she does her best work between 6-9am, the passion she bestows on her work, are inspiring.

Sally Wainwright

Writer of some the best TV writing for women, Meet the Braithwaites, Last Tango in Halifax and Scott and Bailey, also interviewed by Kirsty Walk.

Softly spoken with a broad Yorkshire accent, it is her slightly oblique take on real life that is at the core of her creativity.  Again she writes every day because it is her hobby as well as her work.


To be successful, creativity has to be at your very core.  To miss a day is like punishment.  Currently, I don’t feel like that and I am trying to work out why.

The EmptyEasel blog highlighted what I am feeling, with suggestions for how to move myself forward, one small step at a time. http://emptyeasel.com/2014/08/25/missing-out-on-painting-time-these-5-tips-will-help-you-get-back-to-your-easel/

Good advice, but is that what is really at the root of my reluctance to paint, or is it that I am in transition, with a whole new, previously unexplored world, opening up for me.

Worryingly, I am finding it easier to research and write blogs.  I am having to remind myself that I taking a course in Fine Art and not Art History.  That said, everything I am doing is essential to moving forward, nothing will be wasted, all that is needed is a better balance.

From Archive to Interview

This is the second Visual Enquiry lecture by Angela Rogers.

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

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

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

Thomas Schutte

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

‘Betty’ a photo realist painting by Richter in 1988.  Michele Leight’s review of Richter’s exhibition at the MOMA in New York February 2002  http://www.thecityreview.com/richter.html

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

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

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

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


First we listen to Adrian Searle (podcast http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/audio/2010/jul/22/thomas-schutte-private-view) at a private view of the exhibition Big Buildings, Models and Views at the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, in July  2010.

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

Erecting Model for a Hotel at the Big Buildings exhibition.

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

Domus review of the exhibition   http://www.domusweb.it/en/news/2010/10/02/thomas-schutte-big-buildings–models-and-views.html

Ferienhaus fur Terroristen 2007 chipboard

An article about the background to the work. http://www.theartdossier.com/featured/thomas-schutte-built-home-terrorists/

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

Grosse Geister 1996-8,  250cms high.

Image of: Blumen im Glas

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

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


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

Richard Dorment, writing in the Telegraph, 7 November 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/3669081/Trafalgar-Square-plinth-beauty-weighs-four-tonnes.html, has a different view, calling the work ‘an abstract assemblage of panes of yellow, blue and red, glass – a miracle of engineering that weigh four tons and looks like it would blow away in the first strong breeze.’  He concludes the work is ‘Original, striking, thoughtful and  too beautiful, Schütte’s work is among the best in the series. ‘

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

Kiki Smith

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

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

The curator

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

Gallery Website

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

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

Reference Library

Christine Kuan in her interview (believed to be after 2008) with the artist gives a much more balanced view of her work, talking of feminine impact on post modern and contemporary art. http://www.oxfordartonline.com/public/page/smithinter

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

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

Louise Bourgeois

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

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

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

Maman 1999 at the Tate, her best known work.

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

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

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

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

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

He is suggesting that that is the only interpretation possible because Bourgeois has fed it herself.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3668414/Louise-Bourgeois-The-shape-of-a-childs-torment.html takes a different view.

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

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

Writing in the Guardian October 2007, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/oct/06/art, Siri Hustvedt, whilst accepting of the manufactured hype stoked by and surrounding the artist, states ‘ Bourgeois can take you to strange and hidden places in yourself. This is her gift. What may be deeply personal for her finds its translation in art that is far too mysterious to be confessional. ‘  She continues ‘I have come to think of Bourgeois as an artist who roams the antechambers of a charged past, looting it for material that she reconfigures as external places and beings or being-places.’

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


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

Another perspective of this work can be found at  http://www.artslant.com/la/articles/show/2711

Autobiographical Work that Operates Outside the Gallery

Bobby Baker

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

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

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

The Turner Prize

Is the Prize still cutting edge?

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

The BBC website reported the prize http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-11928557.  Media views were mixed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crazy over you exhibtiion installation view 2

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

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

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

In an interview with Mark Sheerin on September 10, 2014 in Hypoallergic, http://hyperallergic.com/148254/between-the-mystic-and-the-mundane-charles-thomson-defends-stuckism/ Thomson cites atomic scientist Ernest Rutherford who said: “An alleged scientific discovery has no merit unless it can be explained to a barmaid.”   “The work is the theory. If it doesn’t itself communicate, it doesn’t work.”

Jonathan Jones commented ‘They protest against the broad category of post-Duchamps in art in which idea is prior to craft.’ in his article about Philipsz’ winning the Turner Prize in 2010  http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2010/dec/07/turner-prize-susan-philipsz-sound-artist

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

Andrew Marr in his interview with graphic designer Neville Brody during Start the Week on 31 January 2011 on Radio 4,  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00y288b.  Brody is now Head of the Communication Art & Design department at the Royal College of Art.

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

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


Anything can be a resource.

Online resources:

UCA library

LOndon, online catalogues for

British Library http://www.bl.uk

Art Library at V & A http://www.vam.ac.uk/nal/catalogues/index

Henry Moore Institute http://www.henry-moore.org

Tate archive http://www.tate.org/research/researchservices/archive/archiveonline.shtm

Welcome Foundation images.welcome.ac.uk

Arts Journals:

Art Monthly http://www.artmonthly.co.uk

Art Review http://www.artreview.com

Art Forum http://www.artforum.com

Contemporary Art Daily http://www.contemporaryartdaily.com

The Journal of Modern Craft http://www.bergpublishers.com/bergjournals/thejournalofmoderncraft/tabid/3254/default.aspx

Academic Journals:

Taylor Francis Journals include Arts and Health http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/rahe

Intellect Journals include Journal of Visual Arts Practice http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-journal,id=131

International Journal of Art & Design Education published by Blackwell http://www.nsead.org/publications/ijade.aspx


TED Talks http://www.ted.com/talks

MoMA http://www.moma.org/learn/lectures_events/index

Tate channel.tate.org.uk/channel/talks-and-symposia

Something to Think About

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

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

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

Read widely and maintain a healthy scepticism.







Jim Dine

This blog entry started life like many other summaries of Interviews – Artists 2010, but the sheer volume of information readily available on Jim Dine, and having just watched VL2 from Archive to Interview, I thought Dine would be a suitable artist to consider in detail.

The more I am reading, the more I am realizing that there isn’t just one ‘truth’ when it comes to viewing an artist and their work.

The first introduction to Dine was the interview in Interviews – Artists 2010.  I found this interview stilted.  Yes, I knew more about the man at the end of it, his home in Paris, his family background in hardware and tools, his love of poetry, but I felt the surface hadn’t really been scratched.  The footnote highlighted that the interview had been conducted over the phone, which perhaps explained why I might feel this way.

Putney Winter Heart #8 (Skier)  Putney Winter Heart #8

I note this version of the series sold for $226,000 in 2001.

Lone Wolf, was an interview by New York poet Ilka Skobie.  Skobie interviewed Dine at home in the Blue Mountain foothills, Walla Walla, Washington, saw him at work, and with his friends and support staff.

There is a warmth to the interview, that is lacking in the 2010 one.   He talks more freely and Skobie’s style is narrative and informative. Dine’s love of poetry may have helped the interviewer.

The date of the interview is not clear, but it could have been February this year.

Taking prints from a wood cut.


The third interview, is focused on Dine’s proximity to, and view of, William S Burroughs’ art work, and the book, as an object, in contemporary art.

http://realitystudio.org/bibliographic-bunker/bunker-interviews/interview-with-artist-jim-dine/ an interview by Jim Birmingham for RealityStudio November 2007.

It is a probing interview but very focused on the interviewer’s specific agenda.

This final interview is a short, softer interview for the Tate Shot series, when Dine was 73 in 2008.  It is focused around the exhibition of 52 books that Dine produced.

The style, method, focus of these interviews simply demonstrate that to gain a rounded perspective on any artist, it is necessary to interrogate a number of diverse sources.  No one critic or writer has full access to the ‘truth’ of the subject.

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