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'Bad' Painting and the work of Anton Henning


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This lecture users the theme of taste to explore the subject of postmodernism, building to a consideration of 'Bad' Painting and the work of German artist Anton Henning. By James Clegg

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'Bad' Painting and the work of Anton Henning

  1. 1. postModernism in Art:<br />Bad Painting and the work of Anton Henning<br />
  2. 2. Getting to know you...<br />Name<br />A personal example of good or bad painting?<br />What do you think ‘postmodernism’ is?<br />What’s your favourite food?<br />
  3. 3.
  4. 4.
  5. 5. “The Papuan tattoos his skin, his boat, his oar, in short, everything that is within his reach. He is no criminal. The modern man who tattoos himself is a criminal or a degenerate. There are prisons where eighty percent of the inmates bear tattoos. Those who are tattooed but are not imprisoned are latent criminals or degenerate aristocrats. If a tattooed person dies at liberty, it is only that he died a few years before he committed a murder.”<br />“The evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from objects of daily use.”<br />Adolf Loos (1908) [Ornament and Crime]<br />
  6. 6. Le Corbusier (1928-31) Villa Savoye, Interior, at Poissey, France.<br />
  7. 7. ‘"Beauty is truth, truth beauty" - That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know’<br />Keats (1820) Ode on a Grecian Urn<br />Nicholas Poussin (1638-40) <br />The Arcadian Shepherds<br />
  8. 8. Have people always had good or bad taste?<br />
  9. 9.
  10. 10. Casablanca<br />There Will Be Blood<br />E.T.<br />Chinatown<br />The Shining<br />Vertigo<br />Kes<br />Sunset Boulevard<br />Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind<br />The Godfather<br />
  11. 11.
  12. 12. Peter Davies (1997) The Hot One Hundred<br />
  13. 13. Today<br />Part 1: Developing a taste for distinction...<br /> We will begin by finding out what type of paintings you like and dislike and start to explore the reasons why. To give discussions a critical backdrop we will conclude by looking at the work of Pierre Bourdieu and his most influential study, Distinction.<br /> 9:00 – 11:00, Seminar and discussion<br />
  14. 14. Today<br />Part 2: Postmodernism and ‘bad painting’<br />Using the idea of taste we will think about the emergence of marginalised groups, the growth of consumerism and also the profound changes to the way we might understand or practice painting after Conceptual Art. Bad Painting might be Good Painting after all?<br /> 11:30 – 13:30, Lecture and seminar<br />
  15. 15. Today<br />Part 3: The art of Anton Henning<br /> Visiting Talbot Rice Gallery will allow us to put what we have learnt in to practice. We take time to explore Interieur No. 495 and develop interpretations of it.<br />15:00 – 17:00, Gallery visit, activities and discussion.<br />
  16. 16. Voting Cards ready<br />Good Painting<br />Bad Painting<br />X<br />?<br />
  17. 17.
  18. 18. Anonymous Barrack Obama (c. 2010)<br />
  19. 19.
  20. 20. Jean-Michel BasquiatSelf-Portrait as a Heel, Part Two (1982)<br />Basquiat (1960-88) was seen by some, such as critic Rene Racard, to be a prodigal son of the New York streets bringing together the presentness of graffiti and a consciousness of art history. He befriended Andy Warhol and became very successful.<br />Some critics at the time dismissed his work because they felt it naively assumed a ‘primitive’ black vernacular.<br />More recent observations by Art Historians like Alison Pearlman or Black activists such as Bell Hooks, read greater depth in his art and see it, respectively, as a carefully conceived, postmodern response to his position in the American art market, and as an emotional deposit of feelings of repression.<br />Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?<br />
  21. 21.
  22. 22. CraigieAitchisonLily Still Life (1974)<br />Exhibited at Talbot Rice Gallery in 2010, CragieAitchison (1926-2009) has an adoring following.<br />Scottish Art Historian Bill Hare made comparisons of Aitchison’s work to Van Gogh, Gauguin and Mattisse and wrote, “The central dialectic of modernist painting – continually hovering between the painted surface and the pictorial space, between the mimetic image and the decorative pattern... Achieves a perfect synthesis of the real and the ideal on the surface of CragieAitchison’s painting”.<br />Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?<br />
  23. 23.
  24. 24. George Grosz The Engineer Heartfeld(1920)<br />The Dada art movement was an intentional ‘irrational’ reaction against the social structures that had led to the (‘irrational’) mechanised killing of millions. In Berlin, where Grosz and his fiend John Heartfield – pictered - worked, the situation was particularly heated and Dada took on a highly political role.<br />Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?<br />
  25. 25.
  26. 26. Wolf Howard Mrs Chippy(2001) <br />“People have said to me, ‘What’s the point in painting a cat? My five-year-old daughter could do that.’ Yes, she could, but would it be a cat that had the look in its eyes that conveyed to you that it was about to be shot? That’s the fate that befell Mrs Chippy during one of the greatest survival adventures ever – Ernest Shackleton’s voyage to the Antartic in 1914 on the ship Endurance – shown in the background of the painting, stuck in the ice, as the crew drag the small open boat which later accomplished an 850 mile rescue journey through sixty-foot waves. That’s the difference between my cat and a five-year-old’s. I also paint cats where there is no difference”<br />Wolf Howard, artists statement<br />Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?<br />
  27. 27.
  28. 28. Rosemarie TrockelVorstudie (Preliminary Study) (1989)<br />Exhibited at Talbot Rice Gallery in 2011.<br />Considered one of the leading figures of her generation, building upon and simultaneously criticising the work of artists like Joseph Beuys.<br />Develops a feminist critique of authority within her work, questioning the construction of identity.<br />Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?<br />
  29. 29.
  30. 30. Pablo Picasso Les Demoiselles d’Avignon(1907)<br />Considered to be a seminal work of Modern Art and considered by some to be the first Cubist work.<br />Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?<br />
  31. 31.
  32. 32. Vladimir TretchikoffChinese Girl (1952)<br />Highly popular as a print during the 1950s and 1960s.<br />Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?<br />
  33. 33.
  34. 34. Glenn BrownJesus: The Living Dead (after Adolf Schaller)(1907)<br />Glenn Brown was nominated for the turner prize in 2000.<br />He meticulously copies the works of other artists borrowing from established, recognised artists like Frank Auerbach and also popular images by artists such as Adolf Schaller, who has devoted his career to painting the universe.<br />“The simple act of painting has been turned into a conceptual minefield. Visual reality is being questioned by an artist who, we soon find out, is enough of a science-fiction buff to know that all visual realities are questionable. And the fact that Auerbach’s original seems so full of raw and mannish emotion makes Brown’s pseudo-scientific re-creation of it very spooky.” WaldemarJanuszczak (2009) Glenn Brown – the thinking mans artist. Independent.<br />Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?<br />
  35. 35.
  36. 36. Philip Guston The Mirror (1956)<br />In the 1950s, Canadian artist Philip Guston had successfully moved from political muralism to the then dominant mode of painting, Abstract Expressionism. He was considered to have a special talent. <br />Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?<br />
  37. 37.
  38. 38. Philip Guston Flatlands (1970)<br />In 1970 Guston made a radical departure from Abstract Expressionism because he felt it was wrong to ignore the social and political problems of the time. His new figurative work now referenced criminality, the Ku Klux Klan and Rochard Nixon, among other things, and was done in a crude cartoon style.<br />Conservative art critic Hilton Kramer ridiculed Guston for being ‘childlike’, an ‘urban primitive’.<br />Guston: “I got sick and tired of all that Purity! I wanted to tell stories… I felt like a movie director. Like opening a pandoras box, all those images came out.” “So when the 1960s came along I was feeling split, schizophrenic. The war, what was happening to America, the brutality of the world. What kind of man am I sitting at home, reading magazines, going in to a frustration about everything – and then going in to the studio to adjust a red to blue”<br />Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?<br />
  39. 39.
  40. 40. Sam ToftDoris Earwigging<br />Sam Toft, working for The Art Group, has sold over 2 Million prints worldwide.<br />Original works fetch up to £6000.<br />Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?<br />
  41. 41.
  42. 42. Jack Vettriano<br />Scotland’s wealthiest painter, Vettriano makes over £500,000 per year from prints alone.<br />Vettriano’s prints outsell prints of Picasso.<br />Originals can fetch up to £250,000.<br />Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?<br />
  43. 43. What gives us certain taste?<br />
  44. 44. Bourdieu and “Distinction”<br />Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (1989) [1970] is still considered the most comprehensive survey of taste.<br />Bourdieu’s work challenges the notion that taste is innate, in other words he argues that taste is determined by economic and social causes rather than being something you’ve either got or haven’t got.<br />What makes Distinction so important however, is that it showed how taste is implicated in segregation and social hierarchys.<br />
  45. 45. Bourdieu’s previous analysis of photography<br />
  46. 46.
  47. 47. Bourdieu and “Distinction”<br />Gathering evidence from years of dedicated study, Distinction showed that taste was closely linked to people’s class backgound. Bourdieu sought to find out peoples response to a work considered to be of high artistic merit, such Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC) by Bach compared to an example of ‘popular’ music, Strauss II and other examples. 33% of Higher Education Teachers preferred WTC, while none preferred Blue Danube. While 50.5% of manual workers preferred Blue Danube an none WTC.<br />
  48. 48. Bourdieu and “Distinction”<br />Bourdieu made a number of observations based upon this data, one of the most important being that taste in culture resemembled taste in food: Those with least capital buy essential items, items that are going to fill them up, while those with most capital can afford items that have symbolic status, but don’t necessarily have significant nutitional value.<br />
  49. 49. Bourdieu and “Distinction”<br />In art this principle related to the kind of pleasure people would take from art. Popular culture was consumed by people who enjoyed it, who would watch a film for its emotional story line and narrative for example, while ‘High Culture’ was consumed in a much more dispassionate fashion.<br />For Bourdieu this signalled that those in power, the Bourgeois, indulged in art that was separated from social realities, that ‘High Art’s’ claim to aesthetic distance was in denial of the everyday reality and the inequality of the system under which it was produced.<br />
  50. 50. Habitus<br />“The mechanism by which tastes are cultivated and exercised. The Habitus is the means by which people come to develop systems of likes and dislikes, and also the set of principles and procedures which people use in their relations with objects and people. In short it is the set of dispositions, for use in practice, that orientates individuals in their relations with people and objects in the shared world.”<br />Iain Woodward (2007) Understanding Material Culture<br />
  51. 51. How does this make you reflect upon your own sense of taste?<br />
  52. 52. postModernism in Art:<br />Bad Painting and the work of Anton Henning<br />
  53. 53. How is Bourdieu postmodern?<br />Modernism was underwritten by a belief in pure, authentic, autonomous values(As we shall see taste was thought of in such terms).In Bourdieu’s work, as reflected in postmodern thought generally, ‘natural’ values are replaced by ‘cultural codes’.<br />Language –the system that allows us to read and interpret information – is distributed, much like wealth, across society. As with money some people are in possession of the ‘cultural compentences’ to freely engage art, to decode it. Bourdieurefered to this as cultural capital.<br />
  54. 54. “A beholder who lacks the specific code feels lost on a chaos of sounds and rhythms, colours and lines, without rhyme or reason. Not having learnt to adopt the adequate disposition, he stops at what [Art Historian] Erwin Panofsky calls the ‘sensible properties’, perceiving a skin as downy or lace-work as delicate, or at the emotional resonances of these properties, referring to ‘austere’ colours or a ‘joyful melody’.”<br />Bourdieu (1989) p.2<br />
  55. 55. Paradigms and change<br />Camille Pissarro (1973) White Frost<br />
  56. 56. Aesthetics and the growth of modern art<br />
  57. 57.
  58. 58. Clement Greenberg, Avant-Garde and Kitch<br />“Retiring from public altogether, the avant-garde poet or artist sought to maintain the high level of his art by both narrowing and raising it to the expression of an absolute in which all relativities and contradictions would either be resolved or beside the point... ‘Art for Art’s’ sake and ‘pure poetry’ appear, and subject matter or content becomes something to be avoided like a plague.” (Greenberg 1992, p.5)<br />
  59. 59. Clement Greenberg: views on taste.<br />“Kitsch, using for raw material the debased and academicized simulacra of genuine culture, welcomes and cultivates ... Insensitivity. Kitsch is mechanical and operates by formulas. Kitsch is vicarious experience and faked sensations.. Kitsch is the epitome of all that is spurious in the life of our times [...] Formal culture has always belonged to the [powerful and cultivated]; while the [great mass of the exploited and poor] have had to content themselves with folk or rudimentary culture, or kitsch.” (Ibid, p. 10)<br />
  60. 60. More on the avant-garde<br />“Advance or decline – these are the only alternatives. Impasse, in which there is neither advance nor decline, only uncertainty, is unimaginable in the logic of decadence. Worse yet if the decline of an art – representational painting, for example – seems to go on forever, because those eager to put it out of its misery, to hasten its death throes with their contempt and indifference, or at least teach it the agony it should feel, find they have no effect on it: it continues to be in good cheer as it goes about its creative business.” <br />Donald Kuspit, The Dialectic of Decadence<br />
  61. 61. Greenberg’s Modernist assumptions<br />There is something universal about beauty.<br />Artworks progress – through self-criticism – towards a particular point (flatness).<br />Though direct (aesthetic) engagement with a work of art you can evaluate it’s success<br />
  62. 62. The white cube<br />Museum of Modern Art Building [centre] (2004). <br />Designed by Philip L. Goodwin and Edward D. Stone in 1939<br />Tate Liverpool (2006)<br />
  63. 63. Alfred Barr (1936)<br />
  64. 64. Elite Institutions<br />Both Moma and the Abstract Expressionism with which it became synonymous seemed to be exclusive, not just to working classes, but from women and ethnic minorities too.<br />
  65. 65. Question after Bourdieu: Could Kant only imagine there to be a way of getting at a true, autonomous, universal beauty only because at that time in history ( mid to late18th Century) because the few ruling classes with the education to pass judgement were in a position of secure control and consensus?<br />no such thing as transhistoric essence<br />
  66. 66. kitsch<br />Georg Friedrich Kersting (1814) Man reading at lamplight<br />
  67. 67. How would you go about creating a kitsch painting?<br />
  68. 68. Identifiying Kitsch, according to Thomas Kulka<br />Kitsch depicts objects or themes that are highly charged with stock emotions.<br />The objects or themes depicted by kitsch are instantly and effortlessly identifiable.<br />Kitsch does not substantially enrich our associations relating to the depicted objects or themes.<br />
  69. 69. Consumerism<br />Kitsch and Swell store, Montreal<br />
  70. 70. Nixon/ Khrushchev ‘Kitchen Debate’ (1959)<br />
  71. 71. Richard Hamilton (1956) Just What is it that Makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing?<br />
  72. 72. Pop art (and the working class?)<br />Peter Blake (1961) Self-Portrait With Badges<br />
  73. 73. Conceptual art (and the educated class?)<br />Joseph Kosuth (1967) Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) (1967)<br />
  74. 74. Conceptual art (and the educated class?)<br />Joseph Kosuth (1967) Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) (1967)<br />
  75. 75. Conceptual art (and the educated class?)<br />Art & Language (1972) Index 01, Documenta 5, Kassel<br />
  76. 76. ‘Bad’ Painting<br />James Albertson , retrospective at CCA Sacramento<br />
  77. 77. ‘Bad’ Painting<br />“This... Is the ironic nature of the title, ‘bad’ painting, which ... Is really ‘good’ painting. It is figurative work that defies, either deliberately or by virtue of disinterest, the classic canons of good taste, draftsmanship, acceptable sources material, rendering, or illusionistic representation. In other words, this is work that avoids the conventions of high art, either in terms of traditional art history or very recent taste of fashion.” <br />Tucker in the Bad Painting Catalogue<br />
  78. 78. ‘Bad’ Painting<br />“The notion of progress usually associated with avant-garde ideas is in question here, given the openly nostalgic, figurative and art-historical character of the work.” <br />Tucker in the Bad Painting Catalogue<br />
  79. 79. Conceptual arts’ legacy: anti-aesthetic<br />““... Postmodernism is not pluralism – the quixotic notion that all positions in culture and politics are now open and equal. This apocalyptic belief that anything goes, that the ‘end of ideology’ is here, is simply the inverse of the fatalistic belief that nothing works, that we live under a ‘total system’ without the hope of redress...” Hal Foster, 1985<br />
  80. 80. Conceptual arts’ legacy: anti-aesthetic<br />“In opposition... a resistant position is concerned with a critical deconstruction of tradition, not an instrumental pastiche of pop – or pseudo - historical forms, with a critique of origins, not a return to them. In short, it seeks to question rather than exploit cultural codes, to explore rather than conceal social political affiliations.” Hal Foster, 1985<br />
  81. 81. Bad Painting?<br />Davi d Salle (1988) Three inches within your heart<br />
  82. 82. Bad Painting?<br />Martin Kippenberger (1996) Unititled<br />
  83. 83. Bad Painting?<br />Anton Henning(2010) Pin-up No. 94<br />