Whats with contemporary...


What is contemporary art?

One might well ask. In the realm of "art appreciation" there are always as many answers to questions as there are critica\ and galleries. Here is one:

Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle
What is Contemporary Art? Issue Two; ...

'What is contemporary art? ... So it is with the contemporary: a term we know well enough through its use as a de facto standard by museums, which denote their currency through an apparently modest temporal signifier: to be contemporary is to be savvy, reactive, dynamic, aware, timely, in constant motion, aware of fashion.  ... out go the grand narratives and ideals of modernism, replaced by a default, soft consensus on the immanence of the present, the empiricism of now, of what we have directly in front of us, and what they have in front of them over there [italics my own]. But in its application as a de facto standard this watery signifier has through accumulation nevertheless assumed such a scale that it "certainly must mean something" [why?].
...
In this way, the contemporary starts to reveal itself to be something like a glass ceiling, an invisible barrier ... —if we begin to discern its shape, either it shifts, or we become obsolete: uncontemporary. But then perhaps that would not be such a bad thing...[italics my own]'

Well, if we ask about "immanence of the present, the empiricism of now, of what we have directly in front of us, and what they have in front of them over there", that has been done for a long time; for example, renaissance, ..., impressionism, post...; and so means little or nothing. The contrary examples of stuff are such as religious art, focusing on whatever, but certainly not on present, now, ... and classical art prior to impressionism, focussing on, of course, classical,,, .

So, what do "savvy, reactive, dynamic, aware, timely, in constant motion, aware of fashion" have to do with "good things about art"??? Actually, it would seem to me, mostly nothing at all. Being "savvy, reactive, dynamic, aware, timely, in constant motion, aware of fashion" is surely at a low level of importance in any actual human endever...

Julieta et.al. seem to have an interesting point of view, that the idea 'contemporary' has no actual meaning at all, as I sortof? understand it; but somewhat obscure for me to follow along without more thinking than I feel wanting to think about the issue.  (See also, maybe, Hal Foster Contemporary Extracts, for a lot of "art history" comments; maybe more than you really want...)
...

(Comment about "contemporary" seems often to talk about "new" and "exciting".  What is all this stuff about art having to be "new" and "exciting", anyway. It mostly has to do with art appreciation education, sales galleries, and curators... More about this some other time.)

Here are a few pics...

Damien Hirst
Biography and Installations/Sculptures of Turner Prize Winner and Young British Artist (YBA).

'The controversial painter, sculptor and installation artist Damien Hirst is one of the world's most commercially successful contemporary artists. A leading member of the postmodernist generation known as Young British artists, he first came to prominence in the 1990s for his series of dead animals preserved and floating in formaldehyde. ... The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991)... and 'spot paintings,' consisting of rows of randomly-coloured dots or circles. ...'

It certainly does look "savvy, reactive, dynamic, aware, timely, in constant motion, aware of fashion", whatever...

...
'As to his artistic skills, I believe them to be highly overrated. Furthermore, his own view of art appears muddled and confused. On the one hand, he seems to support the conceptualist notion that the real creative act is the idea, rather than the finished product. On the other hand, many of his works carry absurdly pretentious titles [italics my own] - thus signposting their exceptional [??? unexceptional? sort-of dingbat?...]... significance - and a number are embedded or decorated with extremely valuable materials [big deal] - hardly the stuff of traditional conceptual art [of anything???].

However, Hirst's approach to modern art is entirely consistent with a strong desire to make money and achieve worldwide fame [italics my own]. So instead of arguing about his level of creative skill as a sculptor or painter, let us praise him for his outstanding entrepreneurial skills' ... why do that???

Jackson Pollock
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia...

' 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. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. ...



...

Critical debate

Pollock's work has always polarized critics and has been the focus of many important critical debates.

In a famous 1952 article in ARTnews, Harold Rosenberg coined the term "action painting," and wrote that "what was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event. The big moment came when it was decided to paint 'just to paint.' The gesture on the canvas was a gesture of liberation from value — political, aesthetic, moral." Many people assumed that he had modeled his "action painter" paradigm on Pollock.

Clement Greenberg supported Pollock's work on formalistic grounds. It fit well with Greenberg's view of art history as a progressive purification in form and elimination of historical content. He therefore saw Pollock's work as the best painting of its day and the culmination of the Western tradition going back via Cubism and Cézanne to Manet.

The critic Robert Coates once derided a number of Pollock’s works as “mere unorganized explosions of random energy, and therefore meaningless.” [36]'


... fake Jackson Pollock



I did this picture using an on-line fake-Pollock maker (jacksonpollock.org); if you try using it you have to add quite a bit of your own fixup to make something reasonably "ok". I happen to like red, so it is sort of red/pink, with brownish-violetish-blackish and a bit of greenish. (Note: I have not set the link here; if you link on, it tries to make you do stuff; I usually try to stay away from sites like that.) Here are some real Jackson Pollock pics...






as to the middle one, quoting, "Take the painting above (ken-jennings.com/blog), for example. (It’s a 1952 work called Convergence. Click on it for a much larger version.) The game is simply an Abstract Expressionist version of Pick-Up Stix: try to figure out in what order Pollock applied the colors. The canvas linked here is a pretty easy one: in this print, at least, it looks like it only uses four different colors, and I don’t think Pollock applied any color in two passes (though I’m not 100% sure about the black) which would make the game considerably harder."



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