Saturday, September 15, 2007

Good stuff at the Brooklyn Rail

I'm really heartened by three articles currently at the Brooklyn Rail that focus on artists who had their moment in the 70's, kept working, and now at this time are getting back into the spotlight- it's a little bit of history being rewritten, and also points to some possible shifts away from an emphasis on youth, gratuitously "adventurous" or "cutting edge" art, and the quick buck. Even though I am a generation or more behind these artists, I really identify with a lot of what's being talked about here- when I started as an art student this is work I saw in recently past issues of magazines, and this information has always been down inside of me, almost hibernating, but present. Some of the social/political things Whitten and Kass talk about are stuff I think about a lot in regards to my own development and outlook, and my art. I particularly like that these three articles all represent different groups- a black man, a woman, and an artist who left NY to make his work. Also, all three of these artists have or have had shows in NY right now. Finally, there is a look at Clyfford Still in Denver.
  1. Interview with Jack Whitten
    Whitten: By 1970 I was seeing a lot of Henry Geldzahler, who was a great supporter of my work at that time. He would come to the studio and we would talk a lot about the grid; the grid being a kind of, as he put in a little essay he wrote for me once, “aspect of civilization.” In my own way, I was introduced to it by my afro-comb. That’s where it started.

    Rail: So that’s when you began to use your comb as a painting tool?

    Whitten: Yes. First I used the afro-comb with a couple of paintings, and then I began to recognize a pattern. That’s when I wanted more control, so I started making the device myself. The afro-comb became a big carpenter saw. In fact, MoMA has one from 1978.
  2. Now showing at Alexander Gray.
  3. THE SEVENTIES by Deborah Kass
    When I saw Elizabeth’s (Murray) show at Paula Cooper the earth moved, because a seismic change was occurring in my life as I stood there looking. I had been oblivious to feminism, I was entirely and erotically male identified. But looking at her paintings, I realized that for the first time the subject, which I previously and unconsciously assumed to be male, had changed. I recognized what was traditional in her painting—traditional as I had come to understand it through my sojourns to MoMA and at college, a New York School, Cezanne-through-Stella thinking. This painting was clearly coming from there, but with a different point of view and speaking in a different voice about something else altogether. The subject was female. And I mean subject as we defined it in the 80’s and 90’s. The speaking subject, the specific subject. The subject with agency.

    Now showing at Paul Kasmin.

  4. TRACKS: Peter Young: An Unlikely Artist by Ben La Rocco
    If the “art star” status enjoyed by a few is the brass ring, it is a dangerous standard because of the unlikelihood of attaining it and because of its lack of correlation with the development of richer ideas in the arts.

    Young's PS1 show reviewed was reviewed a few weeks back in the NYT.

  5. Also, more about Still in Denver by James Kalm, and his video tour below.

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