The arrangement of objects on the floor (second image) is a sculpture by Richard Serra: Cutting Device: Base Plate Measure, 1969.
The artist took rolled lead sheets, wood beams, marble slabs, and steel piping, and then used a saw to slice them through. The objects were then arranged on the floor as they appeared directly after having been cut.
The row of framed prints on the wall show VALIE EXPORT, photographed by Peter Hassmann for her signature work Action Pants: Genital Panic, 1969.
<<This series of screenprints relates to a performance in which EXPORT reportedly walked into an experimental art-film house in Munich wearing crotchless trousers and a tight leather jacket, with her hair teased wildly, and roamed through the rows of seated spectators, her exposed genitalia level with their faces. Challenging the public to engage with a “real woman” instead of with images on a screen, she illustrated her notion of “expanded cinema,” in which the artist’s body activates the live context of watching. EXPORT’s defiant feminist action was memorialized in a picture taken the following year by the photographer Peter Hassmann in Vienna. EXPORT had the image, in which she holds a machine gun, screenprinted in a large edition and fly-posted it in public squares and on the street.>>
A stylish gentleman Mr. Katz is in his business suit and hat – the clean, sleek lines of his self-portrait devoid of all superfluous accentuating his steady, direct gaze.
<<Ambitious, elegant, impersonal, large in scale, and simultaneously timeless and reflective of its time—these, according to Katz, are the qualities of “high style” in painting, and they are also the qualities of many of his own works.>>
Today’s composition of choice comprises some well known buildings partly glowing in the afternoon sun, paired with some of Marcel Duchamp’s famous ”readymades”. With all due respect to his undeniable contribution to the world of art, if I sign my compositions and designate them as artworks does that make me an artist?
<<Beginning in 1913 Duchamp challenged accepted artistic standards by selecting mass-produced, functional objects from everyday life and designating them as works of art. These sculptures, which he called “readymades,” were aimed at subverting traditional notions of skill, uniqueness, and beauty, boldly declaring that an artist could create simply by making choices. >>
<<“I had broken down the human body, so I set about putting it together again,” Léger said. The smooth surfaces of this volumetric woman, bunch of flowers, and book evoke mechanical parts assembled together… >>
Thus said Robert Rauschenberg, and who I am to doubt him. I could even picture it in frames. One next to the other, frame after frame after frame; each one an individual story, collectively a narrative of the world.
<<When Bontecou first exhibited her steel-and-canvas sculptures, many praised their aggressive, ominous qualities. Fellow artist Joseph Cornell described their gaping black cavities as summoning “the terror of the yawning mouths of cannons, of violent craters, of windows opened to receive your flight without return, and the jaws of the great beasts.”>>
<<”Le Faux Miroir” presents an enormous lashless eye with a luminous cloud-swept blue sky filling the iris and an opaque, dead-black disc for a pupil. The allusive title, provided by the Belgian Surrealist writer Paul Nougé, seems to insinuate limits to the authority of optical vision: a mirror provides a mechanical reflection, but the eye is selective and subjective. Magritte’s single eye functions on multiple enigmatic levels: the viewer both looks through it, as through a window, and is looked at by it, thus seeing and being seen simultaneously. The Surrealist photographer Man Ray, who owned the work from 1933 to 1936, recognized this compelling duality when he memorably described ‘”Le Faux Miroir” as a painting that “sees as much as it itself is seen.”>>
Speaking of American friends ~ since Labor Day was very inappropriately coupled with two very European artists, today we will appropriately balance it out with some quintessentially American art.
A vibrant painting where the artist is exploring his African-American roots:
When the eye has to wander away from the target, and one begins to wonder which the real target be:
<<In the mid-1950s Johns incorporated symbols such as numbers, flags, maps, and targets into his paintings. Here, he transforms the familiar image of a target into a tangible object by building up the surface with wax encaustic. As a result, the concentric circles have become less precise and more tactile. Above the target Johns has added four cropped and eyeless faces, plaster casts taken from a single model over a period of several months. Their sculptural presence reinforces the objectness of the painting, particularly as the faces may be shut away in their niches behind a hinged wooden door.>>
The power of the thin white line:
<<Stella used commercial black enamel paint and a house painter’s brush to make The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II. The thick black bands are the same width as the paintbrush he used. The thin white lines are not painted; they are gaps between the black bands in which the raw canvas is visible. Stella painted the black bands parallel to each other, and to the canvas’s edges, rejecting expressive brushstrokes in favor of an overall structure that recognized the canvas as both a flat surface and a three-dimensional object.
Stella identified his materials and process with those of a factory laborer. About his manner of painting, Stella famously said, “My painting is based on the fact that only what can be seen there is there… What you see is what you see.” Instead of painting something recognizable, Stella’s painting is about the act of painting, and its result.>>
Is this a flag or a painting?
<<“One night I dreamed that I painted a large American flag,” Johns has said of this work, “and the next morning I got up and I went out and bought the materials to begin it.” Those materials included three canvases that he mounted on plywood, strips of newspaper, and encaustic paint—a mixture of pigment and molten wax that has formed a surface of lumps and smears. The newspaper scraps visible beneath the stripes and forty-eight stars lend this icon historical specificity. The American flag is something “the mind already knows,” Johns has said, but its execution complicates the representation and invites close inspection. A critic of the time encapsulated this painting’s ambivalence, asking, “Is this a flag or a painting?”>>