Friday, September 30, 2005

Gean's presentation

Gean has this peculiar sort of introspected low-key style of chewing his thoughts, a kind of baroque provocation, at times tangential and often ending with a swift touché. Last night, I had a good time observing his interaction with the class. I perceived the whole gamut: some of you were irritated (or put off) by his delivery, interested but puzzled, totally disconected, and then some were able to score really the best points I've heard in a while. I don't know why, but the exchange stayed with me all night. Let's talk about it. Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Artist and critic Gean Moreno is coming to class tomorrow. Moreno is one of Miami's promising artists. He's also an experienced writer with articles in national magazines and abroad. I think he's showing a video and talking about a text he wrote for an upcoming show in Oslo (which I sent to you, via email, on Tuesday). It should be pretty interesting.

Art condenses the universe into symbols. How to figure out the right code?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Colleen Dzwonek's "Still Life"

Giorgio Morandi's "Still Life"

Juan Gris' "Still Life w Violin"

Picasso's "Palette, Candlestick and Minotaur"

Braque's "Still Life w Violin"

Eduard Manet's "Bouquet of Violets"

Picasso's "Chair Caning"

Matisse's "Gold Fish"

Van Gogh's "Shoes"

Cezanne's "Nature Mort"

Clara Peters' "Still Life w Cheese"

Pieter Claesz's "Vanitas"

Still Life

Last class, I introduced this idea of reworking nature mort as a way to explore our personal environments. This is not faithful representation: it's more like recreation --even an idealization of what's most immediate and intimate. SL becomes different things for different people: a stage to make a point, to ponder something, even to persuade. So, for 17th-Century Dutch -great masters of the style- SL revealed a preoccupation with the epoch; whether a desire to make painting a participant in the scientific classification of insects, or to make art a moral arbiter (in the style known as vanitas). 17th-18th Century Spaniards used it to breach issues of class and tradition (as a didactic way to counter the appetite of the senses). 19th-Century Impressionists exploited SL as technical and formal: how to capture a fleeting moment as light reflects on different objects. For post-Impressionists SL offered a gamut of possibilities: Cezanne's apples work as a sort of Naturalistic manifesto, that is (in following Zola) how to reproduce "faithful perceptual reality." In Van Gogh's shoes we see a deep reflection on human existence (the shoes reveal what's not in the painting). During early 20th-Century, Picasso and Braque (at least during their Cubist phase) used nature mort as life’s most available and workable context. Juan Gris was also Cubist, but his still lifes are more the idealization of an imperfect reality. Finally, Morandi (perhaps the last Modern master of the genre) treats SL as his best account of an already shattered reality (life as andless recurrence through a movement of constant permutations).

Friday, September 23, 2005

Last night's presentation

Later I'll post something. In the meantime, what were your thoughts about Edwin Montalvo's presentation?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Update after "Rita"

Because of Rita, Maritza Molina had to cancel tomorrow. So, I'm trying to find somebody for the second half of our class. Saturday's post had a nice thread of comments. I'm glad you're participating. Remember it's part of the home work.

Painter Edwin Montalvo is coming tomorrow. He's an art teacher and shows with the Kevin Bruk Gallery. Montalvo makes these anachronistic part 17th-Century Dutch paintings (that look as digitalized 20th-Century illustrations). It should be interesting. Then, après la classe, there's an art auction nearby. I'll let you know tomorrow in case you want to come.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The body

The late Sixties was a period of change in America (a civil-rights revolution took place while fighting a war of attrition in Viet-Nam thousands of miles away). Pop Art, Conceptualism, and Minimalism had taken New York by storm. In the midst of this commotion, a group of young artists found that they could use their bodies as vehicles to express themselves. They borrowed from Jackson Pollock's heroic gestures, feminism, neo-Dada happenings, and avant-garde theater (such as Antonin Artaud's theater of cruelty). Their aim was to bring the human body to the center of the political, social, and artistic debates. They turned into painting bodies, (like in the works of Yves Klein or Jackson Pollock), gesturing bodies (in the actions of Bruce Nauman, Joan Jonas and Eleanor Antin, or transgressive bodies, (as in the rituals of Ana Mendieta, Hermann Nitsch and Chris Burden).

Marina Abramovic
This piece, entitled Balkan Baroque won Abramovic a 1997 Venice Biennale Award. She spent four days cleaning 1,600 cattle bones while singing melodies from her mother country, Yugoslavia. Abramovic's performance happened during the war in Kosovo between Serbia and NATO.

Yves Klein

Eleanor Antin

Tracey Emin

Janine Antoni

Yayoi Kusama

Hermann Nistch

Bruce Nauman

Ana Mendieta

Friday, September 16, 2005


I thought that Bert's presentation (last night) was sincere, witty and funny. At the end, some of you brought up good points. Unfortunately we didn't have much time left. Let's take the time to share some opinions here. What did you think of his work? His presentation as a whole? Later with pictures. Please, leave your comments.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I've sent stuff to all of you. It's possible you haven't received it. We'll deal with it on Thursday. Initially I assigned a one-page review of Carlos' show. That evening I only saw one student at the Moore Building (wait, I may understand your reasons). By sunday I'm receiving emails from some of you to the effect that you haven't been able to go. Ok. So, I send this handout (with this other HW consisting of a group of questions). My intention was not to overload you with homework, but only to keep the class on track with the issues at hand. In this class we talk, see, discuss and make art. I want to get out of the box a little, into galleries and museums. Miami is bursting with art from now until December. On Thursday let's make very clear what's what. Tonight I'm coming up with an interesting post. Good point Naomi, perhaps I need to be more clear with the overall assignment.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Hi, I sent an email with questions for my first handout. It's an exploration of art in the context of society, an analysis you don't often find in art schools. They treat art as something isolated, separated from the needs and practice of society. To start, I want to explore the idea of "high" and "low" in art, the so-called "genius" culture and how it happens, particularly in the West, since Modernity.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

There are a bunch of openings tonight, which you shouldn't miss (find all the addresses listed in the respective Websites) 1- In Wynwood I recommend this one at Ingalls and Associates, with openings by artists Pedro Velez, and Christian Duran. At Snitzer Gallery, an instalation by COOPER and photographer Maria Martinez-Canas. Next door to Snitzer is the new Kevin Bruk Gallery, with its first opening of the season. There's also Rene Barge's opening at the Dorsch Gallery. Also, over at Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, an opening by Flora Cohen. Finally, take a look at this, one of the best experimental spaces in Miami. Tonight, they have an opening of Eugenio Espinosa's Impenetrable. 2- If you happen to be in Miami Beach, check out Realidades Alteradas, a group show that seems pretty interesting with a bunch of Miami artists. ArtCenter/South Florida is located right on Lincoln Road, in the middle of everything. Actually, to make next week's home work easie, you can write a page (typed or wprocessed) about either these or Carlos Villasante's exhibit at the Buena Vista Building (180 NE 39 Street, Miami). I sent a group email already. If you haven't received it, that means you were not in my list. If so, please, resend your email.

Friday, September 9, 2005

Good morning. I made some changes in the "comment" template (am sorry I didn't see that before). You have three options: "blogger" (in case you have a blog), "other" and "anonymous." Check "post a comment" then "other," then write down your name and click "publish your comment." Or play with the choices, it's pretty easy now. There was plenty to see last night over at the Design District. I'll be back soon with comments about last night, assignments, etc. Have to go now.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Since Duchamp, (Rose c'est la vie) a new paradigm was born. Art is anything you make (me-see within a certain mindframe). Duchamp put it inside the white cube, an art/microscope of sorts. As the biologist (or a curious child with a toy) we look inside it. The attitude is one of: curiosity, surprise, wonder, awe, or just indifference, or rejection (rejection is fine, it's a reaction to my own tastes). "This is bullshit, not art," but that will not make it non-art. It's art already. It has been for the past 90 years. The discussion is meaningless. Let's be pragmatic and move on, to a different more promising place. To the "I don't like it" or "I don't really care"-place. Rejection, indifference. Did I say before "a reaction" to my own tastes? One more question: Can tastes change?
Below, some work by Duchamp, and his good disciple, Damien Hirst. You may hate Hirst, but he is a good disciple. See you tonight, and yes, after 106, let's go gallerying.

Last Supper

Hospital Corridor (Installation)

Painted Bronze

Car Crash

"Why not"



Wednesday, September 7, 2005

"The Vanity of Allegory," is a show organized by conceptual artist Douglas Gordon at the Deutsche Guggenheim, located in the Deutsche Bank building on Unter der Linden. Billed as "a self-portrait in the guise of a group exhibition," the event brings together more than 30 works by artists who have previously shown at the museum, including Matthew Barney, Cerith Wyn Evans, Damien Hirst, Roni Horn, Jeff Koons, Robert Mapplethorpe and Lawrence Weiner. But if this is an exploration of the self-portrait, vanity and the search for immortality, Gordon becomes sort of a "man with a thousand faces" by highlighting relationships between apparent opposites. Here is Gordon’s own photographic portrait in masquerade as Kurt Cobain. He also mocked Andy Warhol, Myra Hindley and Marilyn Monroe (not shown).
On a different note, I'll post some interesting links this weekend. Also updated the syllabus with confirmed visitors. Over...

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

This comes via Susan Caraballo. If you're interested in submitting work, this is definitely a good opportunity.

Saturday, October 1, 2005, 801 Projects and Artemis will be celebrating the official formation of 801 Projects and Artemis’ new home with the first installation of experimental8 co-curated by artist Carlos Betancourt and Artemis’ Director Susan Caraballo. experimental8, inspired by Artemis’ Surreal Saturdays held at PS 742, will incorporate the visual arts, performance and interdisciplinary art forms.

The first experimental8 subtitled FIRST CALL will coincide with the opening of Tinta y Café, owned and operated by Santamarina. Similar events will be held on a quarterly basis at 801 Projects.For experimental8: FIRST CALL, Betancourt and Caraballo have co-curated a group show of professional artists including Edward Bobb, Branko Belfranin, Octavio Campos, Jason Ferguson, Julie Kahn, William Keddell, Dinorah de Jesus Rodriguez, Rafael Roig, Michelle Weinberg, Wendy Wischer, Ramon Williams and others.

*As a way of integrating professional artists with emerging talent, the curators would like to invite students enrolled in the various arts programs at local colleges and universities to present their work side by side with these artists. Students are invited to submit proposals for installations, performances and interventions. We have identified several locations in the building for site-specific temporary installations – indoor and outdoor. Betancourt and Caraballo will be available at Tinta y Café located in the northeast corner of the building on Wednesday, September 7th between 1pm-7pm for a walk-though of the spaces available in the building. It is recommended that students visit the space prior to submitting their proposals. Interested students, please send an email to schedule a time between 1pm-7pm that may be convenient or an appointment for another day.All proposals must be submitted no later than Wednesday, September 15, 2005 at 7pm. Proposals should consist of no more than a one-page description of the proposed work and your artist biography (in paragraph format), if available. Also, include artwork samples in any format (CD, DVD, photos, slides, audiotape, videotape, etc). Please do not forget to include all contact information and college/university affiliation on your proposal.Proposal submissions are preferred electronically in Word or Text format.

*Proposals should be emailed to Proposals may also be mailed to Artemis, P.O. Box 01-2346, Miami, FL 33101. You may drop off your proposal at Tinta y Café located at 276 SW 8th Street (Attn: Neli Santamarina), located in the northeast corner of the building between Monday through Friday, 7am-7pm, and Saturday 8am-4pm. Student artists will be notified by Monday, September 19, 2005.

So far, the only person talking to me is Ana. Where's everybody? There are a bunch of pictures posted and a question pending. Over...

Monday, September 5, 2005

More Banksy.

I agree with Wired Magazine, which characterizes Banksy's interventions as "art attack." Banksy is a graffitti artist from the UK, who has turned back alleys into galleries and hacked the MoMA and the Met. Art attack, art activism, public performance, whatever you call it, handle it carefully.
This Thursday, September 8, we have Jordan Massengale coming to our class. Jordan is one of Miami's best painters. See some of his work here. After that, I'm going to check out a couple of exhibitions at the Design District: Carlos de Villasante at the Buena Vista Building. Villasante will visit our class in October. Also, this event, at the Moore Space should be fun. Please, make plans to come to the Design District after class. The first home work of our semester will be to write a critical page about at least one of these events.

Saturday, September 3, 2005

So far, I've got only a few emails from you. I prefer to reach you this way. These are some pieces which were exhibited in the recent 54th Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art. I've made some comments, but I encourage you to add your own. Let's explore possible answers for the question below. Any comments?...

Thursday, September 1, 2005



Instructor: Alfredo Triff, Ph.D.
Email: (Given in class)
Phone: 305. 237.7554
Text: Miami Arts Explosion: The New Times Column, by Alfredo Triff + my handouts. Suggested Readings: Elizabeth Adams Hurwits’ Design: A Search for Essentials; Maurice Saumarez’ Basic design: The Dynamics of Visual Forms; George Nelson’s Problems of Design; Hazel Conway’s Design History: A Student’s Handbook; Odd Brochmann’s Good or Bad Design and James F. O’Brien’s Design by Accident. Avant-Garde and After:Rethinking Art Now by Brandon Taylor. Art Today by Edward Lucie-Smith. Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative, by Edward R. Tufte. Space, Site Intervention: Situating Installation Art, edited by Erika Suderburg. Also, see my selected bibliography at the end of my handouts and syllabus.


Art106 is a foundational course, exploring and building theoretical and practical understanding of issues in art appreciation, criticism, theory and the sociology of art. The purpose of the course is to learn relevant aspects of art theory while making art. Two other goals of the course are a collective exhibit and a personal essay-piece, which evaluates your own work.

The issues of art-making are many, different and complex. Art is a human activity and has different purposes. We can see it as a cultural expression, as a social activity; an economic by-product, a political tool, etc. The nature of today’s art-world is so complex that one cannot properly grasp everything exclusively from the point of view of the maker.

We’ll look at the art market (i.e. dealers, auctions houses), media (public opinion, critics and historians) academia (educational institutions, curricula) and the public in general, to which this art is shown and presumably directed. As a rule, the more one takes into account our cultural and socio-economic predicaments, the less one's art making seems a neutral, exclusively personal activity. This has an important practical consequence.

The job of theory is to explore the significance of our own ideas about art making. Don’t think of theory as something abstract, dry, cold or separated from practice. Theory expresses how we figure out “why” we do what we do. Thinking and talking about art is part of the activity of doing something with art.

Art106 is supposed to be a fun course: Frequently, we will visit shows --in museums and galleries. As part of the course every Monday, beginning in October, we will host important artists, critics, curators and critics throughout the semester.


1. Grades A, B and C stand for outstanding, good and average respectively. D is below average.

2. Graded assignments and tests count for 70% of the final grade. Class participation and extracurricular activities count for the remaining 30%.

3. Every time we meet, I will assign quizzes or reports to cover the content of the handouts and other issues assigned in class. Quizzes count for the final grade.

4. Attendance is expected. Two non-excused absences are permitted. Each absence thereafter will lower the participation grade at my discretion. Missing tests must be justified by a doctor=s note or the equivalent. Please, feel free to contact me if you have a serious problem with or in the class.

5. Courtesy, class demeanor and respect are important.

6. Reports are commonly a short: a two-page essay on assigned exhibits. Some papers may be more elaborated. Papers must be WP and stapled. No binds or covers, please. We’ll talk about specifics as tasks approach.

(Tentative) Schedule of Classes

September 1: Introduction. Presentations. What is Art? Discussion of standards of criticism to be applied in-class. Art projects (in-class).

September 8: (Handouts) Symbols and meaning in Art. Discussion of basic aesthetic principles. The aesthetic recipient, the aesthetic object and aesthetic experience. The role of the imagination. Emotion, response and enjoyment. Book assignment.
Visit: Jordan Massengale. A very skillful painter, Massengale mixes an odd figuration with aspects of human violence, inside these tense rawand powerful interiors.

September 15: Different approaches to design as defended by different theorists, artists or schools. 1- Formal approach [Arthur Wesley, Walter Crane, Cubism, Maurice de Sausmarez, Minimalism], 2- Naturalistic [Cezanne, Nabis, Rudolf Arheim’s psychological approach], etc. Book assignment.
Visit: Bert Rodriguez. This is cerebral art, but it's oddly sarcastic. Rodriguez can be self-deprecating at times, but artjokes always make us think.

September 22: Approaches to design (continuation) 3- expressionistic [Der Blaue Reiter, Erich Mendelssohn], 4- functional approach [BAUHAUS], 5- “spiritual” approach [Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky], 6- chaos theory applied to design [James F. O’Brien]. Book assignment.
Visit: Maritza Molina. An intense Miami performer, Molina's art (mostly videos and photos, unless you see her "live" events) draw from female stereotypes of pressumed fragility and domesticity and turn them on their heads with surprising results.

September 29: Elements in Design: Discussion an analysis of different elements such as: 1- Line, 2- space, 3- mass, 4- color, 5- texture. Project HW for following week.
Visit: TBA

October 6: Elements in Design, continuation) 6- Time and movement, 7- tension, unity and variety; 8- accent and contrast; 9- scale, 10- composite 3-D. Kinds of imagery: 1- devotional, 2- historic, 3- narrative. Some subject matter and genres: 1- landscape, 2- portraiture, 3- still life, 4- abstraction, etc. Critic of last week’s project. HW Project for following week.
Visit: Westen Charles. A member of the experimental arthouse Locust Projects, Charles makes videos and artobjects that are offbeat, puzzling, but culturally relevant. Lots of readymade turned into revealing manmade.

October 13: Critic of last week’s project. Discussion of Projects for the Upcoming Show.
Visit: Carlos de Villasante. Villasante's art is colorful and iconoclastic through and through; his imagery borrows from graffitti, Aztec symbols, Mexican wrestling and skateboarding. He's also an art teacher, with plenty of experience.

October 20: (Handouts) Different views of what constitutes art. 1- Art as Expression; 2- art as form; 3- art as a pragmatic ideal; 4- hedonistic approach to art. 5- Art as a means to truth or knowledge; 6- art as a means of moral improvement; 7- art for art’s sake. 8- Marxist aesthetics: exploitation and hegemony.
Visit: Brook Dorsch. A veteran gallerist, Dorsch runs one of Miami's best venues --while keeping a busy day job. From humble origins on a little appartment on a second floor above an old pharmacy to a huge warehouse in Wynwood, Dorsch keeps transforming his space to become a hub for contemporarty art, new music and performance. He has tons of stories to share.

October 27: Artistic Cultures: 1- folk-art; 2- artisan culture; 3- clerical culture; 4- artisan culture; 5- ecstatic culture; 6- courtly and gentlemanly cultures; 7- vagabond culture; 8- genius culture; 9- professional culture; 10- applied arts culture; 11- mass-art culture; 12- avant-garde culture; 13- totalitarian culture. Economic Evaluations in the Arts.
Preparation for the show (presentation, etc)
Visit: TBA

November 3: Discussion of show strategy. Invitation-design, logistics, etc.

Visit: COOPER. Though not a performer in the strict sense, there's something extra about Cooper's persona that permeates his art; strong, cryptic, angst-ridden. A very unique artist, one of Miami's best.

November 10: Creative Topics (TBA)

November 17:

Visit: Naomi Fisher.

November 24: TBA

December 1: ART BASEL 2005

December 8: Final Papers?

Bibliography for my handouts

For Design
Paul Klee, Paths of the Study of Nature. Yearbook of the Staatliche Bauhaus Neimar 1919-1923. Translation by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy. John Dewey, Art as Experience, (Minton Balch & Co.: New York, 1934). Walter Gropius, The New Architecture of the Bauhaus (New York: New York Museum of Modern Art, Faber & Faber, 1936). Harold Van Doren, Industrial Design (New York: McGraw Hill Book Co., Inc., 1940). Wassily Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art (New York: Solomon Guggenheim Foundation, 1946) J.C. Feldster, Design Fundamentals (New York: Pitman Publishing Corporation, 1950). Lewis Mumford, Art and Techniques (New York: Columbia University Press, 1952). Rudolph Arheim, Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1954). Italo de Francesco, Art Education, Its Means and Ends (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc, 1958). See also: Frederick Malins, Understanding Paintings: The Elements of Composition (1981); Johannes Itten, Design and Form: The Basic Course at the Bauhaus, rev. ed. (1975; originally published in German, 1963). Works on color include Josef Albers, The Interaction of Color (1963, reissued with rev. plate section, 1975); Johannes Itten, The Art of Color (1961, reissued 1973; originally published in German, 1961); Faber Birren, Creative Color (1961), and (ed.), A Grammar of Color: A Basic Treatise on the Color System by Albert H. Munsell (1969); Robert L. Herbert, Neo-Impressionism (1968); William Innes Homer, Seurat and the Science of Painting (1964, reprinted 1978); and Barbara Rose, "The Primacy of Color," Art International, 8:22-26 (1964). The influence of photography on painting is examined in Aaron Scharf, Art and Photography (1968, reissued 1974); and Karen Tsujimoto, Images of America: Precisionist Painting and Modern Photography (1982).

For Aesthetics
Two of the most useful anthologies of contemporary aesthetics are Eliseo Vivas and Murray Krieger (eds.), The Problems of Aesthetics (1953); and Joseph Margolis (ed.), Philosophy Looks at the Arts, 3rd ed. (1987). Others are John Hospers, Introductory Readings in Aesthetics (1969); and Harold Osborne (ed.), Aesthetics (1972), which contains a particularly useful bibliography. More recent collections include Richard Shusterman (ed.), Analytic Aesthetics (1989); and Philip Alperson (ed.), The Philosophy of the Visual Arts (1992). Monroe C. Beardsley, Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism, 2nd ed. (1981), provides a broad, scholarly overview of the subject; while Richard Wollheim, Art and Its Objects, 2nd ed. (1980, reissued 1992), is more narrow. A comprehensive survey is also attempted in David E. Cooper (ed.), A Companion to Aesthetics (1992). For the definition of aesthetics, the above texts are relevant, as are Roger Scruton, The Aesthetics of Architecture (1979); Paul Ziff, "The Task of Defining a Work of Art," The Philosophical Review, 62:58-78 (1953); George Dickie, Aesthetics: An Introduction (1971); Jerrold Levinson, Music, Art, and Metaphysics (1990); and Nicholas Wolterstorff, Works and Worlds of Art (1980).The first approach to the subject as addressed in the article is exemplified in John Casey, The Language of Criticism (1966); the second in Roger Scruton, Art and Imagination (1974, reissued 1982); and the third in Wollheim's book (above). The classical study of the aesthetic recipient remains that of Immanuel Kant, Kritik der Urteilskraft (1790); to which one may add Bernard Bosanquet, Three Lectures on Aesthetic (1915, reissued 1968). The aesthetic object is dealt with in considerable detail by Roman Ingarden, The Literary Work of Art (1973; originally published in German, 1931); and Mikel Dufrenne, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience (1973; originally published in French, 1953). The differences between the various art forms are explored in John Dewey, Art As Experience (1934, reissued 1980); and Susanne K. Langer, Feeling and Form (1953, reissued 1973). In addition to the works already cited, the following are particularly important discussions of paradoxes: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Lectures & Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief, ed. by Cyril Barrett (1966).