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Joseph Beuys used Ubris II, chalk on blackboard, in one of his many lectures on the need for heightened human awareness. Installed in the Saint Louis Art Museum’s The Artist and the Modern Studio, the blackboard represented the stage from which Beuys performed. The black backdrop represents the open space of the mind and heart. It stands in for a canvas, blurring the lines of art and life. The chalk markings become art and the performance of lecturing becomes a reflection of LIBERTA, or freedom, the focal point of this piece. Beuys inspires us and teaches us that what matters in this world is human action (how we move), social or political behavior (the choices we make), and personal creativity (what we produce and voice). For him, this was a studio, a portable classroom. Andreas Feininger’s photographs of Alexander Calder, working in his studio in 1964, were a highlight of the exhibit. Though Feininger mostly

shot in black and white, by using color in these images, he emphasized Calder’s love of bright primary colors. Feininger places Calder in the center, in the background, and while he is in focus, the shapes that make up his moving sculptures are the real subject. Calder’s boyish intensity comes across as he works. In the space surrounding him, other shapes and wires explode from the perimeter of the mat and frame. Calder becomes a fixture in his own work. He is a part of the mobile or stabile.

mirrorings of Blackburn. The theme of mirroring continues in the form of a patron viewing prints displayed on the workshop wall. These comparisons between both the art buyer and the art and the artist and his studio represent the many roles of the artist. His studio and the city outside are places of both creation and exhibition.

Ron Adams’s 2002 color lithograph Blackburn shows printmaker Robert Blackburn laboring in his workshop in New York City. Adams creates a compelling narrative. Blackburn’s figure is muscular, commanding and focused. Blackburn is absorbed in his production of art, and we are absorbed in him. Adams uses the full space of the studio to support the character’s story. The visual details of the city shown in the background are evocative, industrious

* The Saint Louis Art Museum’s Artist and the Modern Studio exhibition explored important artists’ reflections on their private and public art practices. Curators Eric Lutz, Ann-Maree Walker and Leah Chizek also invited the general public to share their private art practices with the world by posting pictures of those spaces on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The resulting images can be seen by searching for #SLAMstudioshare.

-Stacey Walker

Ron Adams, Blackburn (photo courtesy of Saint Louis Art Museum) IN REVIEW


All the Art, Winter 2015  

The Visual Art Quarterly of St. Louis

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