NY Times features Tom Wesselmann and our Seascapes #22 banner from the Denver Art Museum’s retrospective of his work. Fascinating article on likely the reason why he was never recognized among his contemporaries as a leader in Pop Art.
How can your hate a famous and (mostly) beloved Impressionist Pierre Auguste Renoir? Evidently, these people can. And they do, with quite a bit of vigor (and perhaps humor). The R.S.A.P. (Renoir Sucks At Painting) movement is all about replacing the sucky Renoir painting at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, with more worthy art. Perhaps more performance art than a critic’s statement, the establishment never-the-less won’t hear of it, as Genevieve Renoir, Renoir’s great-great-granddaughter, counters in the NY Times that her ancestor’s art has sold for $78 million. Perhaps absurdity is only a matter of perspective?!read more Posted in Musings
Salvador Dali, a Soft Self Portrait
Another interesting film on an artist, this time the subject is the saint of the surreal, with the big O narrating, though not directing. Is it good? Is it schlock? Was Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dali i Domenech a genius?
I remember in a late-in-life interview, Frank Lloyd Wright was leadingly asked by Mike Wallace what he thought of modern art, and Dali specifically. Wright admitted he was an amazing salesman. High praise indeed! Welles has yet again allied himself with another master svengali. Compelling stuff.
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I’ve just read the influential 1936 essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin. He delves into the concept of authenticity in art in an age of infinite reproducibility. This is something to contemplate now that we have reached an era where digital art can be perfectly cloned. The essay led me to thinking about Andy Warhol and his methods. For no good reason here he is…
I wonder what he would be up to now.
More on Walter Benjamin later.
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I once thought it a monumental eyesore.
If you have ever driven through Denver on I-25, by the Broadway exit, you may have noticed a giant yellow wall of concrete, Jenga-like blocks stacked and fanned out on top of each other. For years I eyed this sculpture with suspicion, frankly I didn’t like it. It reminded me of a lot of uninspired public art you see plopped around in an attempt to lend a bit of culture to cities. I guess not everything can be the Chicago Picasso. For years I wondered about it, but never thought to stop by the Denver Design District, where it resides, to enquire. Really, why would I? Yet I was curious.
The man did it all. He was a graphic designer, architect, photographer, painter, art curator, art director, and of course sculptor. A product of the Weimar milieu, he studied under Kandinsky and Klee. He was thus included in the Nazi’s Degenerate Art exhibit, an amazing collection of art for all the wrong reasons — an incredible story by itself. This prompted him to head for the United States where he continued a productive career until his death in 1985, which is the year the “Wall” landed in Denver. I’m unsure of the connection, but he did reside in Aspen during that town’s early resort days just after the war.
It seems that he should be a little more well known, especially to me. So, now I have respect for what I once considered not so interesting. It’s time I visited the thing. I’ll also have to check out a book of his complete works MIT Press published in 1984.
Oh, and visit The Denver Eye, you are in for a treat. You will get more on the “Articulated Wall” plus a dose of Raquel Welch. Trust me.
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Next stop: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, June 18 – Sept 6, 2015. Future dates in Austin, Cincinnati, Santa Monica, and New York.
Devo’s amazing “Whip It” was perfect video fodder for 80s MTV. For many of us Devo exemplifies the 70s New Wave (which Devo actually predates) to what became an 80s aesthetic with their red “energy domes” and hazmat suits. Their bright, angular, (seemingly) cold, clean, symmetric, repetitive, factory-produced, artificial, keyboardy, irreverence was firmly rooted in 60s counter culture and the milieu around the 1971 Kent State killings (Devo are alums). You cannot separate the music from their highly visual style — an influential vision unique to the mind of Mark Mothersbaugh.
Amazingly, Myopia, the ongoing presentation of his work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver is his first major exhibit. As it was a Denverite, Adam Lerner, who encouraged Mothersbaugh to reveal the rest of the iceberg, of which Devo is only the public tip, the Mile High City is the starting point (it will move to other cities during the year). His art utilizes different approaches (de-evolution being one, which is explained) and media, while maintaining a unity. After viewing the source material, Devo starts to make more sense. Myopia fleshes out and makes warm what can otherwise be seen as plastic and aloof. Although Devo embraced digital, video, (and digital video!), and despite a cookie-cutter facade, there is a human behind it after all. And, as a bonus, that human, Mark Mothersbaugh, performed in the flesh at a related event, at the Holiday Theater in Denver on January 22. When it comes to a town near you, use your Freedom of Choice!read more Posted in Musings
I’ve been on a movie kick, watching and rewatching films and documentaries about art. A must see is from one of my favorite people…
“F for Fake” (1973) is the last major film by the man who himself became a household name through a form of deception. In this film essay/documentary Orson Welles explores the world of a master art forger. It takes one to know one — as you may recall, Mr. Welles, inadvertently or not, pranked a nation with his 1939 radio play based on H.G. Well’s “War of the Worlds”. A master illusionist himself, Welles seems in sympathy with the dapper, aristocratic, polyglot Elmyr de Hory, who claims quite proudly that his work hangs in all the world’s great art palaces.
In the course of filming on swinging Ibiza, de Hory’s home, a third world-class charlatan, Clifford Irving, appears, creating a trio of charming rouges enjoying each other’s company. Also, you’ll behold Oja Kodar, Welles’ companion, and the fourth member of this merry band. Pablo Picasso and Howard Hughes play important roles in this labyrinthine narrative, though not directly involved (they were alive at the time, however, barely). A trailer was produced well after the fact and is mostly made up of footage not used in the film.
Although I’ve linked the film on YouTube, how about procuring a genuine copy from Criterion, with all the bells and whistles. It includes commentary from Oja Kodar, among other things.
And wouldn’t you know it, there are phony fake de Hory’s out there.read more Posted in Musings
Here at BetterWall we are re-watching “The Shock of the New”, the classic documentary about the development of modern art. It premiered on British TVs in 1980 and came over the pond in 1981, on PBS of course — the U.S. home of Benny Hill. The wit and intelligence conveyed by the highly opinionated and articulate art critic Robert Hughes still holds up today.
I only recently realized he did a one-hour follow up in 2004 called “The NEW Shock of the New 2004″. I have yet to see it – I’m waiting to finish up the original series – but I’m anxious to hear his take on the likes of Damien Hirst (I bet he’s no fan of pickled shark!). You can watch all 9 in the series on YouTube — between checking out cat videos. The book “The Shock of the New”, a companion to the series is also highly recommended.read more Posted in Musings
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