Pre modern ideas of the artist• Prior to the Renaissance artists were craftsmen - anonymous workers whose objective was to fulfill the requirements of their brief.• In the Renaissance the artist was hardly a free agent - contracts from patrons made detailed demands on what and how the artist was produce.• Up until the birth of the modern artist in the 19th century, artists usually ran studio workshops where artworks were frequently collectively produced -with the ‘master’ taking responsibility for the more intricate or difficult work (head and hands).
Roots of the Modern artist - Romanticism -The Birth of the Individual Henry Wallis (1830-1916) Chatterton 1855-6 Tate Gallery, LondonGeorg Friedrich Kersting (1785-1847)Friedrich in his Studio (1812)
“when they are not sufferers for the human race,they suffer for their own greatness, for the grand mannerof their being, for their hatred of philistinism. For the discomfortthey feel among the pretentious commonplaces, the meantrivialities of their surrounding…”Heinrich Heine, Religion and Philosophy in Germany, 1834, pg..99
The modern mythic artist• A troubled, anguished member of society - existing in the margins. Elevated above society. ‘The happy few’ - the ‘little church of the elect’. A secular martyr -the artist battles against a philistine society• The artwork is an external material, expression of this inner suffering. Brush marks are the visual expression of this pain. This expression is unique and original. The artist has a signature style all of his own. Marks of distinction.• A key element of the artistic uniqueness is his refusal to follow the norm -his work is an expression of a subjectivity free of constraints. This ‘freedom’ is closely linked to ideas about his ‘genius’.• The artist is celebrated as possessing a child like/ primitive essence uncorrupted by society - “when we are no longer children we are dead” (Brancusi)
Giovanni Segantini (1858-1899) Self Portrait (1895) ‘obstinate dreamers for whom art has remained a faith and not a profession; enthusiastic folk…whose loyal heart beats high in the presence of all that is beautiful.”Edouard Manet (1832-1883) Henri Murger “Scenes of Bohemian life”The Artist (1875)
Mocking the Modernist ArtistMaurizio Cattelan Martin Kippenberger
Roots of this Demythologizing and debunking of the male artist as hero• Neo Dada - Jasper Johns and Robert Rauscenburg - Duchampian legacy - depersonalised subject matter- readymades• Pop - “I am a machine” - factory aesthetic• Minimalism - “What you see is what you see”• Feminist critique• Conceptualism - collaborative practice , anti -formal , anti- optical• Photography - the loss of aura
“I didn’t want my work to be anexposure of my feelings. AbstractExpressionism was so lively -personal identity and painting weremore or less the same, and I tried tooperate the same way.But I found I couldn’t do anything thatwould be identical with my feelings.So I worked in such a way that Icould say that it’s not me.”Jasper JohnsQuoted in Gavin Butt Jasper Johns“How New York queered the idea of modern art”in ‘Varieties of Modernism’Edited by Paul WoodPg. 324
Mr. Marcel Duchamp ‘thecelebrated, ‘charismatic’anti-author, the critically,insitutionally lauded antiinstitutional critic.......
The anti modern hero• Warhol’s ‘rejection’ of dominant notions of authorship, artistic identity and originality.• The factory - pre-modernist mode of unaccredited ‘exploitative’ production – ‘Drella’.• Artworks that combined the mechanical anonymity of the machine and the production line with ‘unoriginal’ pre- existing readymade imagery.• ‘I have nothing to say and I’m saying it’.....
Feminist Critiques of the Male Author“To encourage a dispassionate,impersonal sociological andinstitutionally orientated approachwould reveal the entire romantic,elitist, individual glorifying andmonograph producing Frida Kahlosubstructure upon which theprofession of art history is based,and which has only recently beencalled into question by a group ofyounger dissidents"Linda Nochlin Mary Cassat“Why have there been no great women artists?’
You don’t need a Penis to be a Genius Guerilla Girls 20
Artist becomes Artisan “What you see is what you see” Frank StellaRobert MorrisUntitled1965 Frank Stella ‘Six Mile Bottom’ Metallic Paint on canvas 1960
Conceptual Art and Performance ArtDematerialisation of the art objectCollaborative practiceanti formal - anti aesthetic Art and Language Map not to Indicate 1967 “In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form in art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair” Sol LeWitt ‘Paragraphs’ 1967
GENERAL IDEA 1969-1994 Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson of General Idea lived and worked together for 25 years. P is for Poodle, 1983 Nazi Milk, 1979Baby Makes 3, 1984http://ﬁndarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1248/is_3_93/ai_n13628926 23
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical ReproductionWalter Benjamin (1936) http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm 24
Jacques Derrida - Deconstruction• …involves discovering the underlying unspoken assumptions, ideas, and frameworks that form the basis for thought and belief. To read between the lines. To take apart those concepts which serve as the rules for a period of thought.• Deconstruction aims to argue that any claim to truth is a falsification.• Deconstruction aims to reveal that which has been suppressed in the name of coherence.• Deconstructive thought frequently revolves around a critique of binary oppositions - a central deconstructive argument holds that, in all the classic dualities of Western thought, one term is privileged or "central" over the other.• The French writer Jacques Derrida in his seminal text Of Grammatology argued that within such binary thinking the first term is always conceived as original, authentic, and superior, while the second is thought of as secondary, derivative, or even parasitic . These binary oppositions and hierarchies are what must be deconstructed.
The centred subjectThe sovereign self - the subject is defined asan ‘inner space’. This inner space containsthe consciousness, a repository of feelings,memories and needs. It is the I or ego. It isbounded, masterful and independent. It hasa core essence which in art, finds exteriorexpression and manifestation in artworks. Itis cohesive.This sovereign self is the source of all action.It is perceived as free as it decides its owngoals. It engages in an ongoing process ofself-reflection, monitoring its own thoughts inan ongoing internal monologue.This subject is self sufficient and distinct formeverything outside of itself, including its ownbody. To be a subject is to be capable ofmaking rational, objective decisionsregarding the self - being able to make yoursituation or your body. This process leads toself fulfillment .
The decentred self “we are true to ourselves when we unﬂinchingly face the fact that there is nothing to be true to”• Postmodernism widely disputes this notion of the bounded, sovereign self.• In the work of various writers such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan and Roland Barthes, these ideas of an essential, ‘eternal’ bounded self are undermined and critiqued.• In such work the self is seen as fluid and dependent for its sense of self on its context.• It has limited powers of autonomous choice• It has multiple centres with diverse perspectives - there is on one real me, there a series of masks - identity is ‘performed’• The self and our identity is constructed or made - it is always culturally and linguistically conditioned.
Roland Barthes - The Death of the Author(1968)• For Barthes artworks were a tissue of quotations, with artists frequently unconsciously quoting and collaging from sources already present in the culture. The act of creation for Barthes, was then more a process of assembling disparate fragments and sources. There was no unique or wholly original form of expression.• The artwork is ‘a multi dimensional David Salle space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash. The text is a tissue of quotation drawn from innumerable centres of culture’ (Barthes)• Barthes argued that the author has little input into the meaning of an artwork. For Barthes meaning was something supplied by the reader or viewer.
“The world is filled to suffocating. Man has placed his token on every stone. Every word, every image, is leased and mortgaged. We know that a picture is but a space in which a variety of images, none of them original, blend and clash. A picture is a tissue of quotation drawn from innumerable centers of culture. Similar to those eternal copyists’ Bouvard and Pechuchet, we indicate the profound ridiculousness that is precisely the truth of painting. We can only imitate a gesture that is always anterior, never original. Succeeding the painter, the plagiarist, no longer bears within him passions, humours, feelings, impressions, but rather the immense encyclopaedia from which he draws. The viewer is the tablet on which all the quotations that make up a painting are inscribed without any of them being lost. A paintings meaning lies not in its origin, but it s destination. The birth of the viewer must be at the cost of the painter” Sherrie LevineSherrie Levine “After Walker Evans”
“From the conventional viewpoint of art, the death of the author/ artist is a grievous blow, because it undermines the whole apparatus ofart history, based as it is on notions of signaturestyle and individual genius. It also undercuts the basis of the art market.” Postmodernism Eleanor Heartney
Elaine Sturtevant“There are few living artistswhose work can be said tohave had such profoundrepercussions for theintellectual, aesthetic andmaterial evaluation of art. Forover forty years, Sturtevant hasbeen engaged in repeatingworks by many of the mostimportant artists of her time andin so doing confronting head-onthe nature of origin andoriginality. She has ruthlesslydemonstrated that no act canbe an ex-act copy and everyconsidered act must beoriginal, where the intention isthe source.”Press ReleaseAnthony Reynolds Gallery, London2006
Allan McCollum Haim Steinbach pink accent 2, 1987. Two “schizoid” rubber masks, two chrome trash receptacles, and four “Alessi” tea kettles on chrome, aluminum and wood shelf. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, with funds from Marianne and Sheldon B. Lubar, Vicki and Allen Samson, and Dr. and Mrs. James Stadler.
Jef KoonsAn ex wall street brokerKoons actively sought toprovoke a kind of moralqueasiness and repulsionamongst the art worldintelligentsia. In his personae, hisunapologetic embrace of selfpromotion, his relaxed attitude toopenly discussing money (theelephant in the room for the liberal,politically correct component of theart world) and his dedication toopening up the Pandora’s box oftaste and class, he ‘succeeded’ inprovoking the kind of shock,irritation and disgust typical of the‘modernist’ avant gardist.
Reasons to be Cheerful Part 4 Crafty anti modernism “my god it actually looks like he loves these…things!”• In 1986/7 the material execution of Koons work radically changed. While artists such as Haim Steinbach continued to use ready mades, Koons went to extraordinary lengths and costs to have everyday toys and trinkets remade and enlarged by American and Northern European craftsmen .• For the art world this was disturbing - he appeared to be taking this stuff seriously.
Reactions and ReactionaryThe Return of Painting“the criterion for determining theorder of aesthetic objects in themuseum throughout the era ofmodernism – the self evidentquality of masterpieces – has beenbroken, and as a result anythinggoes”Douglas Crimp“On the Museum’s Ruins”in Postmodernism edited by Hal Foster
“I’ve always said there’s no personal language only a selection oflanguage.”Schnabel in conversation with Sarah Kent
“Neo-expressionism appears as a problematic response to the loss - of the historical, the real, and of the subject. By and large neo-expressionists would reclaim these entities as substances; the work, however, reveals them to be signs – and expressionism to be a language. This finally is the pathos of such art:it denies what its practitioners would assert. For the very gestures that insist on the presence of the historical, the real, and of the subject testify to nothing so much as desperation at their loss. There is an idealism here, to be sure, but it is an idealism shown to be idolatry, a fascination with false image that mimics the presumed attributes of authenticity when it is in fact just the hollow mask with which a frustrated, defeated consciousness tries to cover up its own negativity” Hal Foster - The Expressive Fallacy Recodings
“He effectivelydeconstructs theimmediacy ofexpressionism andsuggests that, far fromunique and original, itsprogram leads logicallyto the production ofempty signifiers andserial paintings”Hal Foster on Richterpg. 63 Recodings
BRING ON THE BOTCHING“skills and references which up till then hadbeen taken as essential to art making of any seriousness – are deliberately avoided ortravestied, in such a way to as to imply thatonly by such incompetence or obscurity will genuine picturing get done” T.J Clark
“In placing her favourite classicsfrom the realms of fashion anddesign on a pedestal and elevatingthem to the status of traditionshaping museum exhibits, SylvieFleury emphasises the interactionand interchangeability of art, design,and fashion in terms of social valueand significance in an attitude ofunquestioning acceptance that goesbeyond Jeff Koons still deliberatelyprovocative gesture of translating atrivial object into the material of highart”Renate Wiehager
Vitamin P is an image-heavy book offeringan overview of the state of painting today,and documents the most recent concernsand ideas among contemporary painters.In the wake of new media such asinstallation, video, performance and digitalart, the traditional medium of painting hasenjoyed a renaissance among a recentgeneration of artists. Alongside theevergrowing reputation of significant livingpainters such as Gerhard Richter, AgnesMartin and Peter Halley, many youngerartists have chosen painting over anyother medium, and are exploring newmeans to broaden the traditional field of"oil on canvas". It is this youngergeneration (who emerged in the 1990s)that Vitamin P aims to represent in an A-Zsurvey of 114 of its leading, new,international practitioners, with each artistillustrated by numerous examples of his orher works, accompanied by a shortexplanatory text. Often moving beyondthe most traditional image associated withthis medium, Vitamin P hopes to illustratethe richness, eclecticism, dynamism andcontemporaneity of the practice of paintingtoday. Barry Schwabskys introductory textoffers a critical survey of the evolution ofpainting since the late 1950s