Monday, October 31, 2005

Cooper's presentation

I just got the Ok from Cooper. He will talk to our class this Thursday. A founder of Locust Projects and a well-known Miami artist, Cooper’s works are somewhat cryptic but strong. He’s also a character. I’m sure his presentation will be special. Let’s establish that your projects should be already sketched and since most of it is installation of some sort, let’s discuss presentation issues. My last two posts remain pretty empty. As everything comes back to normal, please, let's exchange some opinions.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Writing this update from a cyber cafe. I hope you're all safe after Wilma's sudden and tempestuous visit. On a different note, Liz Cerejido, a well-known Miami artist and FIU Museum curator was supposed to come this Thursday. It was the third cancellation of a female artist --to have a presentation in our class.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

 Posted by Picasa

Oldenburg's "Broche"

George Segal

Picasso's "Guernica"

Hugo Ball in Dada costume

Schwitters' "Merzbau"

Oldenburg "The Store" (1961)

Dieste's Church (Uruguay)

Pantheon (occulus)

Roman Catacombs

Posted by Picasa

Installation art

As per installation art there’s always a relationship between void and mass. Art brings illusion, whether as a flat rectangle -as in painting- or as sculpture. Ancient pyramids are huge geometric solids (there’s no division between Amun and the Pharaoh). Athens’ Parthenon brings forth the idea of order, symmetry and scale in function of the citizen. Fast-forward 500 years to Rome’s Pantheon and we find a redefinition of the private/public in the stability and permanence of the empire. In Romanesque architecture the inside means worship and domesticity, while the outside remains dangerous (thus the fortress). Modern science redefines our relationship with space. With the invention of the elevator, buildings can go up dozens of stories; the car (a little room on wheels) takes our intimate living outside. With quantum mechanics, space becomes non-Euclidean. 20th-century art erases the boundaries between object/subject, inside/outside, private/public with Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau, Duchamp’s ready-mades, the vast canvases of Pollock, Newman and Still, Frank Stella’s shaped canvases (which broke the hegemony of the rectangle), Sol Lewitt’s wall drawings, Carl Andre’s flat sculptures, Smithson’s earth works, Kaprow’s happenings, Claes Oldenburg’s The Store, and the tableaux of Segal, Kienholz and Tom Wasselmann. Today, buildings look sculptural (Gehry's Guggenheim Museum), while interiors are designed as exteriors (Zaha Hadid).

Friday, October 21, 2005


Any comments on Brook’s presentation last night?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Brook Dorsch this Thursday

I just confirmed Brook Dorsch, director of the Dorsch Gallery (one of Miami's most important venues) will come to talk to the class this Thursday. It should be interesting to have his view point. Bring your questions.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Zhu Ming "Add One Meter To a Mountain"

Zhang Huan "My New York"

William Pope. L. "Wittgenstein and my brother Frank"

Shintaro Miyake "Innocy's House"

Michael Heiman "Test No. 2"

Performance art

For our show in December, I’d like you to consider the possibility of performance. Since the early 1900’s Futurismo and then Dada brought forth new ways of doing art. Back then, performance art was seen as futuristic theater or dada events. In the late 1950’s they called them “happenings.” It was about the action and the body; a moving painting, live-sculpture, less-than and more than theater. Performance is like art in the living flesh: sensual, weird, ephemeral and always cathartic. If done well, it touches you, and makes you think.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Carlos de Villasante

Let’s use this post to discuss Carlos’ presentation. I took with me his constant exploration of figure/ground, his iconoclastic syncretism of lowbrow lucha libre masks mixed with Mexican prehistory, pop, hieroglyphics and collage of alternative materials. I want to have your opinions in this post.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Carlos de Villasante is coming to speak to the class this Thursday. As per Amanda's legitimate point (of bringing a female artist for a class presentation), it turns that for some bizarre reason two well-known female artists who had already confirmed their visits couldn't make it: Maritza Molina and Frances Trombly. I expect Naomi Fisher in late October, early November. Let's see. I'll send you an email tonight.

Monday, October 10, 2005

21st Century Female Art

Ana Mendieta envisioned the female body as a primal source of life and sexuality, as a symbol of the ancient paleolithic goddesses. In her siluetas, Mendieta used her body or images of her body in combination with natural materials. Austrian artist Valie Export has worked in film, video, photography, text and performance. Initially expanding the Actionist project to confront a complex feminist critique of the social and political body, her works achieve a compelling fusion of the visceral and the conceptual. Catherine Opie gained national attention for her large format portraits of dyke daddies, gay male performance transvestites, FTM transexuals, tattooed and scarified gay men and lesbians and other members of a social milieu where sexual identity is most dramatically thrown into question. Opie places her subjects clearly and calmly in the center of focus. Elke Krystufek’s art is about herself, her ego and her life. For ten years, her impertinent performances have exhibited a voyeuristic/exhibitionistic dynamic that dissolves the boundaries between public and private. British Hepworth’s adherence to abstraction was lifelong and drew on geometric as well as organic shapes. She introduced into England the idea of piercing the solid mass of sculpture with a "hole," making the object more transparent. This concept influenced the future work of Henry Moore, among others. Hepworth’s hollow interiors become more important than the enveloping material. As the viewer's eye is drawn inside the sculpture, the openings invite the surrounding landscape to become part of the artwork. Adrian Piper is a conceptual artist (and philosophy professor) whose work, in a variety of media, has focused on racism, racial stereotyping and xenophobia. Nan Goldin is an example of an artist who works at the most intimate level: her life is her work and her work, her life. Her "snapshot"-esque images of her friends -- drag queens, drug addicts, lovers and family -- are intense, searing portraits that, together, make a document of Goldin's life. Marlene Dumas makes paintings with no concept of the taboo. Racism, sexuality, religion, motherhood and childhood are all presented with chilling honesty. Undermining universally held belief systems, Dumas corrupts the very way images are negotiated. Stripped of the niceties of moral consolation, Marlene Dumas’s work provokes unmitigated horror. Sarah Lucas often employs metaphors that represent or symbolise sexual body parts. These metaphors are frequently food or furniture which she utilises as ready-mades, attributing new meanings to them. Silvie Fleury displays stylish items of fashion and design in order to compare and clash them with the everyday world. In a way, fashion is dissected from its aura and made banal. Vanessa Beecroft has become famous for her human installations featuring armies of vaguely similar women (and lately men) wearing identical underwear, high heels, wigs, and not much else. Their nudity becomes almost like a uniform. She explores the intrusion of the public, Pop, fashion, conceptual art, and the body as object. Rosemarie Trockel is one of the most important figures in the contemporary art movement in Germany. Trockel challenges established theories about sexuality, culture, and artistic production. In her "knitted paintings" Trockel designs patterns on a computer that are then produced by a knitting machine. Louise Nevelson’s wood assemblages typically painted in either jet black or – later- in white and gold, ranged in size from the small to the large and monumental, inviting viewers to observe a world into which they could not go but in which they often feared they had already been placed. Eva Hesse was sent with her sister to Holland to flee the Nazis in 1938. Their parents joined them and they moved to New York in 1939. When Eva was nine, her parents separated and her father remarried. A few months later her mother, who had a history of depression, committed suicide by throwing herself from a window. Hesse used to say that she aimed to create ‘nothings’. One can create a ‘nothing’ by making things that aren’t things (in the sense fixed representative objects). And Hesse’s objects always do more than merely represent. If art is always made to mean things and to represent, the only way out is to make what Hesse called "non-art." Louise Nevelson was one of the most important American sculptors of the twentieth century. Her wood assemblages typically painted in either jet black, white and gold, ranged in size from the small and personal to the large and monumental, inviting viewers to observe a world into which they could not go but in which they often feared they had already been placed. Barbara Kruger is internationally renowned for her signature black, white and red poster-style works of art that convey in-your-face messages on women's rights and issues of power. Barbara Kruger knows how to capture our attention with her bold socio-political photomurals, displayed on billboards, bus stops and public transportation as well as in major museums and galleries wordwide. With Louise Bourgeois' work, we are faced with the presence of subjects of desire. They may not be immediate figures of desire, but they position themselves clearly as “operations” of desire. Bourgeois' sculptures exhale the sweat of erotic work.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Valie Export "Made in Austria"

Ana Mendieta "Silueta"

Catherine Opie "Portrait"

Barbara Hepworth "Oval"

Elke Krystufek "Silent Scream"

Adrian Piper "You"

Marlene Dumas "Euro"

Nan Goldin "Untitled"

Sarah Lucas "Aunty Jam"

Sylvie Fleury "YES TO ALL"

Vanessa Beecroft "Untitled"

Rosemarie Trockel "Untitled"

Louise Nevelson "Royal Tide"

Eva Hesse "Three Nets"

Barbara Kruger "Seeing Through You"

Louise Bourgeois "Untitled"

Female Art

Feminism is right about the suppression and dislocation of women from the public sphere since the Renaissance until the end of the Twentieth Century (just look at the disproportion of male and female artists in art history). The early avant-garde (Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Futurism, De Stijl, etc) are essentially male-driven. Compare the number of male artists of renown with the handful of female artists of early and mid-20th Century, such as Natalja Goncharova, Sonia Delaunay and Hanna Höch and then Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe. I don’t want to dwell in the causes of this phenomenon, which has been well-documented by Feminists such as Simone De Beauvoir in The Second Sex, Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectics of Sex or Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice. Since the 1960’s women’s art has brought forth a new attention to materials: latex, rubber, fiberglass and yarn. There is a return to fiber media: weaving, quilts, etc. Formally, there’s a biomorphic, softer more fluid focus. In performance/art, women have explored gestures of objectification and exploitation which we don’t find in male performances (they tend to be more heroic). Art is universal, but the claim that art has no gender is a distortion of reality. In fact, the trained eye can tell the difference. These are some of the most important female artists working today.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005


This week, artist Westen Charles is coming for a class presentation. Also, I sent an email with an easy homework for this Thursday; part of the same homework is to concoct a paragraph-comment for my shaman post.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Yoruba altar (an installation?)

Neolithic altar in Malta (a predecessor of the white cube?)

Concocting a heeling beverage (a performance?)

The shaman (the artist)

Drum skin diagram of the environment (Still life?)

Or as a mandala separating chaos from order.

As magic, inside the prehistoric cave.

The artist as shaman

Last Thursday I linked shamanism with artmaking. Shamanism is a highly stratified complex of practices going back to the Upper Paleolithic Period. These practices include the use of ecstasy, the belief in guardian spirits (who are often in animal form, with the function of helping and guiding the dead) and beliefs concerning metamorphosis and traveling to the beyond. In the rituals, the shaman uses different objects; some are natural, such as precious stones, bits of metal, teeth and claws of animals, bones, plants, and so on (sort of ready-mades). Then, there are man-made amulets, which include medallions, small figurines, carved knives, drums of all sizes, wheels and masks (see them as sculptures). They drive away evil spirits or serve as objects for invocation, divination and heeling. I showed some cosmological renditions, where male/female, day/night/, birth/death, animal/totem oppositions are clearly established. These diagrams are epistemological and aesthetic renditions of the universe. See the relation? Art is another symbolic condensation of our environments, a way to depict and evaluate the universe. Then there's the place of worship. I find a parallel between the altar and the artist's studio --or the white cube for that matter. These are the places of convocation and worship. Think of the most elementary site: a massive rock or a hilltop, with no accoutrements, to the Greek megaliths to the Hindu yupas to other sacrificial sites (whether hollowed out in the earth or raised or constructed on stone slabs resting horizontally on legs, columns, or lateral supports). The artist as Shaman: solving, expressing, and suggesting alternative codes to understand the universe. The tools: all the paraphernalia to execute the work. And the altar, the creative place.