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PUBLIC ART SPACE CREATING AVANT-GARDE ART AS A DIVERSE FORM

LIUCIJA CERKAITE


PUBLIC, ART AND SPACE CREATING AVANT-GARDE ART AS A DIVERSE FORM    

SPACE

The perception of modern art gallery has abolished ‘conventional exhibition and museum practice of placing works of art in relatively dense, tiered installations – what is often referred to as “salon style” ’1. According to Brian O’ Doherty, ‘Samuel’s F.B.Morse’s ‘Exhibition Gallery at the Louvre’ (1832-1833) which was displayed in ‘pure salon style’ is upsetting to the modern eye: masterpieces as wallpaper, each not yet separated out and isolated in space like a throne. Nevertheless, space was discontinuous and categorizable and the nineteenth century eye recognized hierarchies of genre and the authority of the frame’.2 At an avant-garde art gallery - ‘the art is free, as the saying used to go, ’’to take on its own life’’. Now art is untouched by time and its vicissitudes.’3 A new concept of an art gallery flourished in Europe and the United States from 1920s through 1960 s with the works of Bayer, Lilly Reich, El Lissitzky, Giuseppe Terragni. ‘ Technological innovation, the mass media, site specificity and viewer interactivity were of particular interest to those creating exhibition designs <…>.’4 The best example is the works by a theater designer, artist, theoretician and architect Frederick Kiesler’s (1890-1965). Versatile artist creating art installations considered his greatest work to be ‘the new method of installation design, which he called ’’Leger and Tiger’’ or ’’L and T’’: freestanding structures brought the works of art into the space of the viewer and created a varied transparency. The structures had cantilevers that allowed the viewer to adjust the images and objects to his or her eye level and viewing pleasure. . His installation ‘The Eighteen Functions of the One Chair (1942)’ , where a single object takes sixteen different functions, represents ’’continuity and multiplicity of an idea’’. Nevertheless, to Kiesler the most important was not only the continuity of an idea and the whole aesthetics but mostly – viewer creating the whole meaning5. Thus, in avant-garde art an art object is dependent on the viewer. And the viewer's perception depends on how a certain object is displayed. Exhibition design has evolved as a new discipline.6 . The meaning of art is left to be understood by the observer. According to philosophy of ‘White Cube’: ‘exhibition space is like a ritual place. Art exists in a kind of eternity of display. <…> It’s all about the purity and the viewer.’7                                                                                                                         1

 Staniszewski,  Mari  Anne.  The  power  of  display.  A  history  of  Exhibition  Installations  at  Museum  of  Modern  Art,  Massachusetts,   The  MIT  Press,  1998,  p.  89.   2  O‘Doherty,  B.  Inside  the  white  cube.  The  Ideology  of  the  Gallery  Space,  San  Francisco:  The  Lapis  Press,  1986,  p.16.   3  O‘Doherty,  B.  Inside  the  white  cube.  The  Ideology  of  the  Gallery  Space,  San  Francisco:  The  Lapis  Press,  1986,  p.7.   4  Staniszewski,  Mari  Anne.  The  power  of  display.  A  history  of  Exhibition  Installations  at  Museum  of  Modern  Art,  Massachusetts,   The  MIT  Press,  1998,  p.44.   5  Staniszewski,  Mari  Anne.  The  power  of  display.  A  history  of  Exhibition  Installations  at  Museum  of  Modern  Art,  Massachusetts,   The  MIT  Press,  1998,  p.  89.   6  Staniszewski,  Mari  Anne.  The  power  of  display.  A  history  of  Exhibition  Installations  at  Museum  of  Modern  Art,  Massachusetts,   The  MIT  Press,  1998,  p.  89.   7  O‘Doherty,  B.  Inside  the  white  cube.  The  Ideology  of  the  Gallery  Space,  San  Francisco:  The  Lapis  Press,  1986,  p.7.  

 

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PUBLIC

Ways (chosen for the essay purposes) of public interaction: direct interaction within an artwork (Performances by Marina Abramovic) and interaction through mass media (Damien Hirst). According to art critic Julian Stallabras, Hirst is ‘much more known for his lifestyle as for his art, and he takes care to ensure that the two are thoroughly entangled.’8 Public reaction is unbelievable: his artwork ‘Away from the Flock’ (1994) shown at the Serpentine gallery was vandalized and a court case followed. People were shocked by Hirst plucking innocent lamb from the rolling British countryside and suspending it in formaldehyde. Hirst's artworks have always been accompanied by protests by Animal Rights supporters. By 1994, Hirst had become so well known that the BBC TV arts strand was willing to devote the whole programme to him. Hirst's recognition - Turner prize was also sponsored by TV channel – Channel 4 TV.9 Hirst has created a cliché of his personality and is considered to be the most successful representative of British Art. Julian Stallabras argues that avant-garde art has become more like a business: Damien Hirst appealed to the mass media and his art become a mirror of the modern society.10 This is said to be the modern way to communicate with masses. Direct psychological and physical contact with public is manifested in performance art. 20th century Andy Warhol's and Laurie Anderson's mass events, Surrealism and Dadaism ideologies, Yves Klein and Allan Kaprow performances, term ‘Happenings’, Fluxus and Viennese Actionism movements (circa 1960s) have shaped a new way of art perception. Art is no longer an isolated object or totality of objects, dependent on an "extraordinary creator-genius awarded by God", who had been relied on from the very formation of classical antiquity art canons. Classical - academical idea of art has been transformed. Currently an observer is a part of an art object (note: talking about performance art). Marina Abramovic’s (born 1946) performances are based on public emotions, reactions and the most importantly – connection between them and her (direct interaction): ‘I take the energy from the audience and transform it. It goes back to them in a different way. This is why people in the audience often cry or become angry or whatever. A powerful performance will transform everyone in the room.’11 ‘The Artist is Present’ (March 14–May 31, 2010) performance held at MoMA in New York was a challenge not only for her, but also for the museum visitors. ‘She sat motionless and silent on a wooden chair inside a circle of light in the huge atrium of Moma, seven hours a day, from mid-March until the end of May. Anyone who was prepared to queue could sit opposite her just as long as they agreed to remain silent and motionless and to stare back into her eyes.’ – tells a writer and art critic Sean O’Hagan.12 According to Marina, ‘she gave people a space to simply sit in silence and communicate with me deeply but non-verbally. I saw them devastated - even the strongest ones started crying while looking at me. On the last day, when the queue was several thousand strong, one man walked into the circle of light, stuck his fingers down his throat and threw up.’13

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 Stalabrass,  Julian.  ‘Famous  for  being  famous’  in  High  Art  Lite:  British  art  in  the  1990s,  Verso,  2  edn.,  2006  (1  edn.  1999),  p.20.    Walker,  J.  Art  in  the  Age  of  the  Mass  Media,  London:  Pluto  press,  1983,  p.165.   10  Walker,  J.  Art  in  the  Age  of  the  Mass  Media,  London:  Pluto  press,  1983,  p.166.   11  O'Hagan,  Sean.  ‘Interview  with  Marina  Abramovic’,  The  Observer,  Sunday  3  October  2010.  Guardian[online],     12  O'Hagan,  Sean.  ‘Interview  with  Marina  Abramovic’,  The  Observer,  Sunday  3  October  2010.  Guardian[online],     13  O'Hagan,  Sean.  ‘Interview  with  Marina  Abramovic’,  The  Observer,  Sunday  3  October  2010.  Guardian[online],     9

 

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Bibliography

1. Staniszewski, Mari Anne. The power of display. A history of Exhibition Installations at Museum of Modern Art, Massachusetts, The MIT Press, 1998. 2. O‘Doherty, B. Inside the white cube. The Ideology of the Gallery Space, San Francisco: The Lapis Press, 1986. 3. Stalabrass, Julian. High Art Lite: British art in the 1990s, Verso, 2nd edn., 2006 (1st edn. 1999). 4. Walker, J. Art in the Age of the Mass Media, London: Pluto press, 1983. 5. O'Hagan, Sean. ‘Interview with Marina Abramovic’, The Observer, Sunday 3 October 2010. Guardian [online].

 

 

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Public, Art and Space creating Avant-garde art as a diverse form