ÂŠ Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
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S U M M E R 2014
EDITOR IN CHIEF
CHRISTINA DAVIDSON CREATIVE DIRECTOR
PATRICIA MCCLAIN COPY EDITOR
FOUNDER AND PUBLISHER
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Installation photograph, Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic, November 24, 2013-July 27, 2014, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, ©Calder Foundation, New York, Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY, photo © Fredrik Nilsen
“Revealing, serendipitous encounters” The San Francisco Chronicle
“Magical moments” Shutterbug Magazine
“Rewarding...Fascinating... Beautiful” San Jose Mercury News
Looking at Art/the Art of Looking Photographs by Richard Nagler
In museums around the world, Richard Nagler rapidly walked the crowded galleries waiting to document spilt-second encounters between individuals and works of art. In the resulting photographs, the viewer becomes a work of art and a familiar art piece takes on freshness and vibrancy. The art, the photographer, and the museumgoer come together in a delightful and spontaneous moment of creativity. We invite you to join them.
Get a 30% discount on the hardcover and paperback edition through December 24, 2014. Code: LOOKART
TABLE OF CONTENTS 6
TWIN VISIONS Joel-Peter Witkin and Jerome Witkin
10 ARTISTS DRINKING BEER Alexander Kroll and Rachelle Rojany 16 ALAN MAGEE From illustrator to fine art painter 4
A word from the editor
22 DEGAS/CASSATT Kindred spirits and collaborators
38 Calder and Abstraction
26 PETRA EIKO The-green-heart project
46 Sarah Charlesworth: Stills
30 URBAN THEATER New York in the 1980s
42 The Peacock in Beauty and Art 50 George Caleb Bingham 54 Pop Departures 60 My First Time: Peter Plagens 64 Perspective
32 PHOTO ESSAY The reat American road trip
Artwork: JOEL-PETER WITKIN, Face of a Woman, 2004, Gelatin Silver Print, 26 3/4 x 36 3/4 inches, Edition of 12, JRFA #10667
JANUARY 1, 2015
FOR BEST INDEPENDENTLY PUBLISHED ART OR PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK Foreground art magazine announces the Foreground Competition for Best Independently Published Art or Photography Book, sponsored by Blurb. Any independently published/ self-published art or photography book is eligible for entry. Entry fee is $40 per book. The winning entry will be selected by the editors of Foreground magazine.
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A WORD FROM THE EDITOR
n my first editorial I spoke about my wish that Foreground would dedicate itself to speaking to its audience in a clear, intelligent manner about the world of art without lapsing into “artspeak,” and so far, we have succeeded in that goal. One of the people who first inspired me to pursue this path was the senior art critic at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Edward Sozanski. Ed was the ultimate wordsmith; his mastery of the language was an inspiration. The precision with which he expressed his evaluation of a work of art was extraordinary, and he had no time for those who squandered language. Last April Ed died suddenly, and all who knew him, and worked with him, have been bereft ever since. I first met Ed when I worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1986. I was new to the field and he was a seasoned professional but kindly to the new kid, and we became great friends. His gift for humor, insight, and ability to differentiate the wheat from the chaff made him a joy to work with, and for three decades he transformed the discourse about art in Philadelphia’s only newspaper from drivel to substantial discussion. In today’s world, the role of the art critic—particularly in the daily newspaper, which itself seems an endangered species—is shrinking, thus the loss of a voice like Ed’s is significant. It speaks to the greater loss of the role of art criticism in general, as Jori Finkel spoke to in our last issue, in daily newspapers. If one believes in the role of art in general, then another position that goes hand in glove with showing art is discussion. Most people won’t read lengthy criticism but will follow what is said in their local newspaper (whether they read it in the print edition or online), but it would seem these positions are undervalued and slipping away. Ed Sozanski was thoughtful about art, especially that he didn’t care for, considering it from all sides before rendering a conclusion, and only then did he weigh in with what he considered to be its failings. In a homogenized world where so little is distinctive, his was a clear voice and one that will be sorely missed. Yours, Barbara Pflaumer Editor in Chief email@example.com ON THE COVER:
Alexander Kroll, Blizzard Blanket, 2014 Oil, Acrylic and Flashe on Polyester, 100 x 75 cm
EXHIBIT JOEL-PETER WITKIN Face of a Woman, 2004, Gelatin Silver Print, 26 3/4 x 36 3/4 inches, Edition of 12, JRFA #10667
Joel-Peter Witkin Jerome Witkin Jack Rutberg Fine Arts jackrutbergfinearts.com
TWIN VISIONS T
JEROME WITKIN A Jew in a Ruin, 1990, Oil on Canvas 71 x 88 inches, JRFA #6571 6
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he works of identical twins Joel-Peter and Jerome Witkin were shown together for the first time at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts in Los Angeles. This important exhibition garnered significant press coverage and for good reason: It was an historic installation that will be long remembered. The brothers are not close; in fact, they have been estranged for many years, though the nature of their alienation is unspecified. Yet there are many aspects of their respective works with similar threads. Both make highly subjective, emotional and often difficult work. The brothers are both storytellers who deal with waking dreams, some would say nightmares, and explore complex allegorical visions of very dark worlds, yet both could accurately be described as romantic moralists. Joel-Peter Witkin is primarily a photographer, whose work has been collected by virtually every museum of consequence with a photography curator. His concept of beauty is unconventional, to say the All images are Courtesy of Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles
least, and his compositions feature elaborate tableaus populated with characters reminiscent of Velasquez’ Las Meninas. His photographs demonstrate technical mastery as well as psychological insight into the subject
exploits with the intent of shocking— he clearly loves his models and treats them with respect. He also explores the surrealist realm as demonstrated by the photograph “Life is an Invention: Balthus,” where he creates
JOEL-PETER WITKIN Life is an Invention: The Constellation of Balthus, 2007 Gelatin Silver Print 30 x 40 inches Edition of 12 JRFA #10670
His photographs demonstrate technical mastery as well as psychological insight into the subject matter, and while his work defies the label “beautiful,” it is hypnotic and demands the viewer’s respect... matter, and while his work defies the label “beautiful,” it is hypnotic and demands the viewer’s respect, much as Witkin clearly reveres the dwarfs, androgynous and others who populate his photos. Joel-Peter Witkin never
a portrait of the famous Swiss painter without making an image of him but instead references his work from left to right in the photo. He begins with a reference to a Mona Lisa-esque figure, moves across the canvas to the ever7
JOEL-PETER WITKIN Vienna Eye Phantom, Philadelphia, 1990 Gelatin Silver Print 40 x 30 inches Edition of 15 JRFA #10673
JEROME WITKIN Vincent and His Demons II, 2012 Oil on Canvas 16 x 28 inches JRFA #10703
present cat found in Balthus’ work and ends with a reference to the famous portrait of Joan Miro and his wife—all made in particularly unique Witkin style.
A JEROME WITKIN (b. 1939) Vincent and His Dream Girl, 2012 Oil on Canvas (Diptych) 37 5/8 x 62 1/8 inches Overall JRFA #10708
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t the other end of the spectrum are the paintings of Jerome Witkin, whose narrative paintings overwhelm the viewer with profound and horrifying images, often with Holocaust themes, made on a grand scale that highlights his masterful draftsmanship and virtuosity as a painter reminiscent of Lucien Freud and Edouard Manet. Jerome assesses people at a moment of crisis, human grief and internal dialogue. One painting in the exhibition at the Rutberg Gallery of particular power titled “The German Girl” featured a divided canvas with a cowering figure on the left side offering a turned-over bucket of raw potatoes through an open door to a crowd of semi-clad, starving Holocaust victims on the right. Hovering above the girl is an amplified, lurking shadow of a hand of one of the men reaching in for a potato, ex-
aggerated and frightening. The conflict between her efforts to do a small kindness in the face of their terrible starvation and the hideous cruelty these men have endured is, and is meant to be,
the cinematic in the manner in which he assaults the senses. As is stated in the catalogue, Witkin’s work is “compelling, challenging and transformative, his is an art that deals directly with the human
JEROME WITKIN (b. 1939) The German Girl, 1997 Oil on Canvas 80 x 124 inches Overall JRFA #6530
The technical gifts that Jerome Witkin brings to his paintings are so intense that his work borders on the cinematic in the manner in which he assaults the senses. emotionally challenging for the viewer. This kind of divergent assault on Witkin’s audience is demanding but also ultimately rewarding. Only Lucien Freud asks more of one. The technical gifts that Jerome Witkin brings to his paintings are so intense that his work borders on
need to understand and overcome the inescapable fact of suffering; to encounter that which lies beyond the limits of intellectual knowledge; to aspire to that which is noblest and most genuine; and to experience the embodiment of compassion, valor and love.” 9
Alexander Kroll (32) is a graduate of Yale University and The Otis School of Art and Rachelle Rojany (38) is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Both are successful artists who have had multiple gallery shows and received critical response to their work in the press. Their works can be found at alexanderkroll.com and rachellerojany. com. I sat down with them, and the conversation was launched with a discussion of art education…
ALEXANDER KROLL & RACHELLE ROJANY Rachelle Rojany: We don’t educate about art— figuring out the baseline or window in or the access point is difficult... Barbara Pflaumer: Especially with challenging art. I don’t mean to be overly simplistic about this, but anyone can look at a Monet and have a potentially happy experience, although obviously there’s a lot more going on there than a beautiful country scene. But when one is dealing with contemporary art, where more is required of the viewer, that’s when one really needs an education. 10
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Rojany: But don’t you think that’s because the Monet’s old? Alexander Kroll: But also because one is understanding the image at a very superficial level... Rojany: Because it is representational... Pflaumer: As part of this magazine’s “Artists Drinking Beer” series (though none of us is drinking beer), I’m looking at the two of you as the up-and-coming artists, and I’m interested in your perception of what the art world is all
Blizzard Blanket, 2014, Oil, Acrylic and Flashe on Polyester, 100 x 75 cm
I think being an artist as a child is an extraordinary experience. Rachelle and I both have children, and I have been trying to recapture—not trying to be absurd, not in a naïveté sort of way, but having to do with the seductiveness of discovery—the process of discovering a relationship with objects as a very young person.
about because you’re on the front end of it and it’s all ahead of you. You’re both pretty successful and have a following—what’s it like to be an artist when you’re young? Rojany: I don’t know what it’s like to be an artist at another point... Kroll: Right, I think being an artist as a child is an extraordinary experience. Rachelle and I both have children, and I have been trying to recapture—not trying to be absurd, not in a naïveté sort of way, but having to do with the seductiveness of discovery—the process of discovering a relationship with objects as a very young person. I’ve been trying to recapture that while still being in my current space. Rojany: That’s really interesting, since my experience of making art is never the idea of recapturing a type of making. But since I have had this child and this partner my work has become much freer and much more intuitive and in a certain sense gotten to that place that I wasn’t looking for but it is there. Pflaumer: Do you think that you having a child reawakened that in you or reminded you or was totally unrelated? Rojany: I think it’s correlated to a number of things: one of them having a child, one of them getting a little older, wanting more freedom, and this feeling that the work already had a structure and so I could feel a little freer.
The Broken Heart and the Fading Sky, 2014, Acrylic, Flashe and Urethane on Linen, 150 x 120 cm 12
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Pflaumer: The two of you are on the forefront of your careers, and the bulk of it lies ahead of you. What’s it like to be successful and know that it’s all ahead of you? Do you worry that you’ve already peaked? Rojany: I had my first show at a gallery and it was exciting. Then I had a residency and afterwards I went into a deep depression because I immediately thought, I’ve been working so hard for some support and then I got some, and that’s
12 x 7 x 22 in., hydrocal and pigment, 2014.
all it is. That was a few years ago, and I’m over it, but I think I thought that support and a certain amount of recognition were going to change my entire life, and that’s not how it works. Having other people with whom I am connected, a partner and a child, is incredibly humanizing—humanizing in a way that being an artist wasn’t. I always felt as an artist different from everyone, and when I was pregnant I felt as though I could talk to anyone—everyone has been born. Kroll: I have the good fortune of having a life driven by work and a space that is social and nourishing... Rojany: As an artist I can do all the things I am interested in, all the research, all the interactions, it all feeds the work—we are super fortunate... Pflaumer: Rachelle, tell me about the work you are making now because I know historically you had been making conceptual pieces and then some work that focused on heads—are you still making that work? Rojany: For the last year I have been making plaster with marble dust bodies, and figures and abstractions. They are harder and whiter, and I’ve been adding pigment and paint to them so that they are becoming colorful. Pflaumer: Tell me about the transition from the conceptual to... Rojany: Well, it’s still conceptual—it’s just freer and looser. Pflaumer: Does this tie into having a child? Rojany: Certainly. The transition coincides to having a partner and having a child and I cannot put into words what else yet but language and poetry and culture and how I see the world and how I want to see the world and how I don’t want to see the world, but it’s not just conceptually based anymore. There’s a lot more space for discovery, for finding out rather than telling. Pflaumer: What do you think of the art being made in LA—does it have its own identity? 14
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Kroll: I think there was a time when art being made in LA—and this is going back fifty or sixty years to the “light work” from Larry Bell and John Baldessari... Rojany: You are talking about LA being cloistered... Kroll: ...and when I think about the art that I can define as being Angeleno there are other moments that do that—moments of material identification with this place, and there are other strong moments in the history of Los Angeles. But I think now is an amazing time, but the big difference between now and fifty or sixty years ago is that LA isn’t operating as cloistered... Rojany: ...and that there isn’t a big market... Kroll: ...and as a city, despite the lack of the market that New York or London has, it has an influx of international people making things and talking about things at a much greater and expanded scale, which didn’t used to be the case. So we have, from my understanding, people coming here from all over the world all the time to settle down and make lives as artists. Rojany: I know, there is a curator named Sue Spade who curated a show at a market, and it was a huge market and it was a fantastic, weird monster sculpture show where you go searching for the world in the marketplace—it was wonderful and ridiculous—it was down in the midst of the making and not just the showing of the work. It was really exciting and one of the nice things about LA. Pflaumer: Why is that different from anywhere else? Don’t you think if you went to Portland, or Austin, or Cleveland you’d have the same kind of experience? Kroll: Absolutely not. Pflaumer: Why not? Rojany: You’ve got a city on an edge which means that there’s... Pflaumer: A coastal city...and a bigger city which means that there are more people coming which means more diversity and a conversation with
Asia which is very exciting and interesting... Pflaumer: Do you ever think about conservators when you are making artwork? They work so hard, study so long, to get it right, to protect the artist’s intent—so would you consciously make artwork today knowing that fifty to a hundred years from today it would potentially disintegrate or not stand the test of time? Wouldn’t you want the work you are putting your blood, sweat and tears into to survive? Rojany: Well, I think the question is different. The people who were making sculptures out of marble were looking at the world very differently than how we look at the world today. The egos in us want people to find our work important and be touched by it, but what you are missing is that we are artists not conservators and we don’t make it so that it will be around for two hundred or five hundred years; we make it because this is how we live in the world and these are the materials we have chosen currently, that last or don’t last, are colorful or feel good in our hands and how we need to express the world. Pflaumer: Ok, and I am going to let this go, but think about the Winged Samotrace—one of the most beautiful works of art ever created—and who’s to say that what you’re creating isn’t going to be in two thousand years its equivalent. Don’t you have some responsibility to the future for your work to survive for posterity? Kroll: That’s society’s responsibility. Pflaumer: That’s too easy... Kroll: No, I disagree. Art is a function of the society in which it is made and none of us is going to be around, and, therefore, we do what we do to the best of our ability, and we express ourselves as best as we are able, as passionately as we can, and that’s it. That’s the end of our responsibility. An artist makes her art as well as she can, and then a society takes that work and claims stewardship over it so that it survives because society values it.
The egos in us want people to find our work important and be touched by it, but what you are missing is that we are artists not conservators and we don’t make it so that it will be around for two hundred or five hundred years; we make it because this is how we live in the world and these are the materials we have chosen currently...
7 x 24 x 6.5 in., hydrocal and pigment, 2014. 15
ALAN MAGEE After launching a successful career as an editorial and book illustrator for such clients as Time and Simon & Schuster, Alan Magee began focusing on his painting in the ’70s and had his first solo exhibition in 1980. Today his work is in such public collections as The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Art Institute of Chicago, The National Portrait Gallery, and the Farnsworth Art Museum. Alan is currently represented by Forum Gallery in New York.
Solaris (detail) 2003, Alan Magee, woven tapestry, 83 x 115.5 in., edition of nine 16
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Foreground: You’ve done covers for books by such authors as Bernard Malamud and Graham Green, and I’m curious to know whether you read those books and felt a connection to them so as to be able to do the covers or if you just got a synopsis of what the book was about. What was your process? Magee: I never got a synopsis and I never really wanted one. I think it was one of these good fortunes of not insisting that this work was going to turn out one way or another. While working for Ballantine
Books and later Simon and Schuster, I got a series of Graham Greene books and other wonderful writers, which not only began to shape the work I was doing but shape my concept of art. Of Graham Greene in particular, just seeing his worldview gave me not just a good living and a way to practice art but also a continuing education. Foreground: When you were doing covers for magazines did you have a similar kind of experience? Magee: Those were called editorial illusPhotography: Monika Magee
Affinity Tapestry, 2011, Alan Magee, woven cotton tapestry, 75 x 55 in. 17
Footnote, 2007, Alan Magee, acrylic and oil on panel, 10 x 8 in. 18
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tration, and in that circumstance I would quite often have read the story and had a responsibility to come up with a concept. While covers for the New York Times and Time magazine were worked by the art director since the editorial slant was important and had to be under the control of the editorial branch of the magazine. Foreground: Did you ever have a struggle with them about a concept you felt strongly about? Magee: Well, there were topics I didn’t feel comfortable doing. For instance, I was offered a cover on General Noriega of Panama, where they wanted me to demonize him, but I turned it down because I had very strong feelings about the U.S. role in his rise and fall. Foreground: When you did covers for magazines did that significantly impact your recognition in the marketplace? Magee: In the world of illustration, yes. Certainly one of the features of the world of illustration is that one has a portfolio and goes to see art directors. Obviously you want to make what you do known, but the primary way people find out about your work is an illustration in a magazine and one art director calls another. Foreground: A lot of people think of Andrew Wyeth as an illustrator, and I don’t know that I agree with that. I think he’s more of a symbolist painter. But in any case, I don’t why but I mentally object to you calling yourself an illustrator because I think of you as a fine artist. Magee: Let’s go back a step because to me illustration is a specific bracketed, contained profession within this enormous field of life in the arts, which could
be stage design or costume design. After about ten years I wanted to depart from that field. For me, whatever name you put to it, I ceased to be a professional illustrator with that definition. In the case of Andrew Wyeth—where representational painters have had to find a place for themselves in the art field after we lived through the Abstract Expressionism and all the offshoots— the realists, for better or worse, needed to make a place for themselves, without the help of the bigger art establishment, which seems to be always rushing from one trend to another. Wyeth was called an illustrator by Hilton Kramer [former art critic of the New York Times], and it was meant as an insult. I have lived in both of these fields, and I don’t see it as insulting, but it did carry a very negative connotation in this world of abstract, conceptual art—it did the job, it demeaned Wyeth’s art. Foreground: That’s the danger of criticism. How have the critics treated you? Magee: For all the years I have worked, I have had many very thoughtful, wonderful, engaged articles written about my exhibitions. So I see this going on around me, but I have been fortunate, and basically I feel generally understood and usually appreciated. Foreground: You are very fortunate. ... When you made the transition from illustration to fine art was it a seamless process for you? Magee: Yes, it was, but I would say sometimes a degree of innocence can really help when something is fraught with the possibility of everything going wrong. I decided to make the transition about the time we moved to Maine in 1976. I had 19
Gyre, 2012, Alan Magee, acrylic on canvas, 44 x 44 in.
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gotten tired of everything I was doing being directed by a book or an essay in a magazine and wanted to spend more time following my own ideas. The fundamental problem of working as an illustrator is that you are forced to make rough shifts jumping from one idea to something completely different, and this is a handicap when trying to figure out where you stand. In moving to Maine I thought I could wind
the illustration down and just start to paint. Very shortly after I arrived in Maine two galleries [became interested in my work]—one that I had been going to for years in New York, George Staempfli Gallery. I wrote a letter to him, I didn’t know him, but he showed artists I admired, European realists, and I said I’d just like to talk to you and here are some slides of the work I am doing. He wrote back and said
when do you think you’d be ready for an is. The face is kind of endearing...it has a exhibition here? little bit of caricature about it because it is a toy and it has that playfulness of a Halloween toy, but the casting of it Foreground: Wow, how fabulous. Magee: Yeah, these things don’t hap- makes the hands and feet webbed, which pen now. We got to know George well I find touching and funny. and he became one of my best friends over the years until he died. Then a Cali- Foreground: Talk to me about the stone fornia gallerist named Ardys Allport had paintings. seen my work in Maine shortly after we Magee: These things still have a lot of moved here. Ardys was going to start a power for me, and there are still a lot gallery in San Francisco and asked me if I things I am trying to say in that side of would come out to be the first artist that my work—it’s meditative and in a sense she would show. I was thrilled—I hadn’t it’s a counterpart to the social criticism. done anything in California and those two There’s something about these stones, shows happened at about the same time, just a lot of the qualities that I am trying which made this transition very easy. to impart, that just the sense of sight itself, if you are willing to give over to Foreground: I’m really drawn to the it, is healing and affirming and has quite work Footnote, which is odd for me since a bit of what’s needed in terms of the I have a fear of skeletons. Yet there is antidote to the really deeply despairing something so tender, sweet and kind events of the political realm, the wars about that figure and I’d love you to talk and injustices that go on around us. to me about that a little. Magee: That’s funny because I have had Foreground: One of the persisting, ala real attraction to skeletons since my beit annoying, comments that continues elder brother brought home a drawing to be said is that painting is dead. Obviof a human skeleton he had done for an ously this isn’t the case, and how do you early biology class in school. It was one respond to it? of the fundamental jolts in my life that Magee: Yes, that has been said a long made me pay attention to something time and was more something I worried beautiful and oddly comic. about as a student. I guess at a certain This little piece called Footnote is a point you realize that there’s always rubber skeleton a friend of mine dug up this enormous public relations campaign while plowing his garden. It was in two going to get people to believe what the pieces. The lower spine was broken and writer or the critic wants them to believe somebody had wrapped a string around or to promote a certain way of thinking. it, and I was thinking of a couple of ways When you hear too much of this kind to put it together to elongate the skele- of talk you realize you cannot take it ton and paint it. At a certain point I real- seriously—it would be like a wonderful ized it had always been in two pieces and novelist being told the novel is dead. it just appealed to me in an honest way You can’t ruin your life because of a flip to just let them represent themselves as remark. I know too many good painters. 21
DEGAS CASSATT National Gallery of Art Washington, DC nga.gov 22
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by Kimberly A. Jones, Elliot Bostwick Davis, Erica E. Hirshler, and Ann Hoenigswald
wo of the most revered Impressionist painters, Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, were kindred spirits and the unlikeliest of friends for more than forty years. The two artists collaborated, collected each other’s works, feuded, taught each other, and ultimately distinguished themselves from their colleagues in the movement. Both came from similar backgrounds—wealthy, socially prominent banking families of sophistication and erudition—and both were fiercely individualist and self-confident. Neither actually called themselves Impressionists—they in fact hated the term, preferring Independents or Realists. The enthralling catalogue accompanying the recent exhibition
Degas/Cassatt at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, written by exhibition curator Kimberly Jones, illuminates the reader to the extent that these two giants worked in concert with each other and offers evidence that the centerpiece of the exhibition, Cassatt’s Little Girl in the Blue Armchair is in fact a collaboration between Degas and Cassatt. Jones has done, with the assistance of the Gallery’s Senior Paintings Conservator Ann Hoenigswald, indepth scholarly and scientific research to establish that Degas painted a portion of this work, a notion that had been suspected but unproven until their investigation. The catalogue demonstrates the back and forth between the two artists, Degas instructing Cassatt in printmaking techniques and Cassatt opening up the visual possibilities of the newly introduced Japanese woodblock style to Degas. For years their studios were located in Paris only minutes apart, and it was their mutual practice to drop into each other’s spaces to see what was being made. Degas, a notorious misanthrope, respected Cassatt’s work and recognized in her an artistic soul mate. By the end of his life he had collected many of her works, particularly her prints, and his own reputation as a master printmaker validates how talented his student had become. Degas also used Cassatt as a model; one of his most famous works, At the Louvre (Miss Cassatt), 1879, depicts Mary Cassatt from behind, leaning on her umbrella, staring at a painting, while her sister Lydia, sitting on a bench, reads a guide book. The catalogue includes a series of preliminary sketches along with the final painting showing the artist’s process. Initially this 23
(PREVIOUS SPREAD) Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt at the Louvre, c. 1879 pastel on paper, overall: 63.5 x 48.9 cm (25 x 19 1/4 in.) Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Henry P. McIlhenny. Collection in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 1986 The Philadelphia Museum of Art/Art Resource, NY Mary Cassatt, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878, oil on canvas, overall: 89.5 x 129.8 cm (35 1/4 x 51 1/8 in.) framed: 114.3 x 154.3 x 5.7 cm (45 x 60 3/4 x 2 1/4 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
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(THIS SPREAD) Mary Cassatt, The Loge, c. 1878-1880 oil on canvas, 79.8 x 63.8 cm (31 7/16 x 25 1/8 in.)framed: 111.1 x 95.3 cm (43 3/4 x 37 1/2 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Chester Dale Collection Edgar Degas, Actresses in Their Dressing Rooms, c. 1879/1880, etching and aquatint sheet: 22.5 x 31 cm (8 7/8 x 12 3/16 in.) plate: 16.1 x 21.2 cm (6 5/16 x 8 3/8 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection. National Gallery of Art Press Office | Degas/Cassatt
image was meant to be part of a brochure Degas was illustrating for the Louvre (the project was never completed). It was said that people of well known social class could be identified from any angle, and perhaps this is Degas’ point—Cassatt’s casual grace, the manner in which she grips the handle of the umbrella, the way her head is tossed, her overall elegance and stature as she leans onto it tells the viewer that she is not your ordinary French housewife. The catalogue concentrates primarily on the years of the Impressionist exhibitions (1879-1886) and shows how both artists made thematically similar works—not just prints, but decorated fans; explored topics like the theater and family scenes; and also
experimented in various media that they later abandon (Neither, unlike their fellow Impressionists, ever made a purely plein air painting). The use of unconventional materials, particularly metallics, is discussed in depth, and the cross pollination between their studios with these innovative substances is truly engaging. Throughout their careers their friendship sustained despite Degas’s virulent anti-Semitism over the Dreyfus Affair (which caused the end of his association with all the other Impressionists) and his general irascibility. Cassatt eventually moved out of Paris into the country, but they continued to visit each others’ studios and attend one anothers’ soirees. Degas, ten years older than Cassatt, died in 1917, virtually blind and unable to paint. Cassatt said at the time of his death, “… he was my oldest friend here, and the last great artist of the nineteenth century—I see no one here to replace him.” After the turn of the century, Cassatt’s work concentrated on the relationship between mother and child. She had done some of her first important work on this topic for the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893 for the Women’s Pavilion where she created a triptych on the topics of Young Women Plucking the Fruits of Knowledge, Young Girls Pursuing Fame, and Arts, Music and Dancing. Although these were lost, versions of two of the works appear in the exhibition catalogue. By the early 1900s her works indicate her interest in the growing Suffrage Movement. Cassatt lived to be 82, dying in 1926, also, like Degas, virtually blind. She is buried with her family outside of Paris at Chateau de Beaufresne. 25
etra Eiko is a German author and artist based in Malibu, California, who devotes her time to two great passions—making her own unique art pieces and an interactive art installation project called “the-green-heart.” In her literature, she describes the-green-heart by saying “the intention of this project is to create an art piece of thoughts, ideas and dreams with our communities…[which] unites people with one question...what is in your heart?” The-green-heart comes from a place of connectivity, that we all share the same fundamental life goals and that the opportunity to share this with one another is a way of breaking the barriers that separate us. By bringing markers and paper to schools, offering people a chance to express anonymously what is in their hearts, Eiko has been able to confirm her thesis and create a profound work of art. The voices of the participants are individual, unique and unidentified while also recognizable to all. The messages range from funny to heartbreaking, and Eiko edits only the few that she finds to be offensive. The vast majority are handwritten; some feature illustrations, are love letters, document struggles and fears, or recall memories. All are placed together on walls that contain one of Eiko’s own painted green hearts. The visual effect is overwhelming, and every installation is different. In addition to Facebook and YouTube sites where all comments are posted, she intends to exhibit all posts in one installation and plans a publication to further document the project. She has displayed the-greenheart in a number of locations, galleries, performing arts centers, and schools and has curated an exhibition of the students’ work in Los Angeles’ City Hall. When not working on the-green-heart, Eiko is making her own art and has just opened a show titled “Deep Transparencies: A Hidden Universe” at Los Angeles’ Bergamot Station’s Building Bridges Art Exchange, which has been curated by Marisa Caichiolo.
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Eiko’s work in Deep Transparencies is unlike anything this viewer has ever seen— it features reverse paintings on Plexiglas concave surfaces with primarily black borders. With a palate that is primarily comprised of gold, reds, and blacks on many of the works and others almost monochromatically grey/blue with circular imagery, the works draw the viewer in and immediately provoke questions. How does she make this work that seems counterintuitive on some level and are so intriguing at the same time? They remind one of the work of Gustav Klimt, with his dramatic gold-toned painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer from the Vienna Secession movement. There is an inside/outside component to the work partially due to the unique bowl-like form from which Eiko works—the black border reflects the viewer and then the rhythmic
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spherical shapes entice the eye into the work, slowly working from the edges into the center and then back out again. It is a manipulation, but then all good art is supposed to have that effect. The blue/grey works are not presented on concave surfaces but rather flat ones, but they too are compelling in a different manner. Comprised of repetitive circles congregated on a horizontal plane, the works draw the eye, but since the images are crowded on the picture’s surface, almost in a layering fashion, there is an action to the viewer’s experience that doesn’t allow one to quickly look away—one is captivated and fascinated. What more could an artist ask from a viewer? Learn more at the-green-heart.com.
FROM THE CURATOR
URBAN THEATER NEW YORK IN THE 1980S
ve experienced over four decades in the art world, and the ‘80s in New York was the wildest. Of course, what happened in the ‘80s happened everywhere—Cologne/Dusseldorf, London, Paris, LA—but I think most people who were around thought New York was the loudest and the most intense. There were so many strong, competing agendas—the Pictures Generation and appropriation, the “Bad Boys” of expressionist painting, graffiti, a new generation of feminists. And, of course, there was a very robust art market fueling the galleries. If you wonder why the art world is like it is today, refer to the ‘80s. That’s where it began.” —Chief Curator Michael Auping, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
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see Urban Theater: New York in the 1980s is on view at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, through January 4, 2015. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Details at themodern.org.
Jeff Koons New Hoover Convertibles, Green, Red, Brown, New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers, Yellow, Brown Doubledecker, 1981-87, Three vacuum cleaners, two shampoo polishers, and fluorescent lights in Plexiglas casing, Overall 82 5/8 x 54 x 28 inches. Courtesy: Glenstone, Photo: Tim Nighswander, © Jeff Koons (THIS PAGE) Keith Haring Red, 1982–84, Gouache and ink on paper, 106 3/4 x 274 inches. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels © Haring Foundation Robert Longo Untitled (Men in Cities series), 1981, Charcoal, graphite, and dye on paper, 98 x 48 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures. © 2014 Robert Longo / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Barbara Kruger Untitled (I Shop therefore I Am), 1987, Photographic silkscreen on vinyl, 111 x 113 inches. Courtesy: Glenstone. Photo: Tim Nighswander. © Barbara Kruger
The exhibit includes iconic works by Laurie Anderson, JeanMichel Basquiat, Ross Bleckner, Troy Brauntuch, Francesco Clemente, Eric Fischl, Nan Goldin, Jack Goldstein, Peter Halley, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Allan McCollum, Richard Prince, David Salle, Kenny Scharf, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman, Donald Sultan, Philip Taaffe, Andy Warhol, and Christopher Wool. 31
PHOTOGRAPHY & THE AMERICAN ROAD TRIP BY DAVID CAMPANY
oy rides, voyages of discovery, surveys, wanderings, migrations, polemics, travel diaries, and assessments of the nation. Is America imaginable without the road trip? Without everything the road trip implies: the cars, the buses, the motels, hotels, campsites, diners, and gas stations? Is it imaginable without the camera that records, expresses, and promotes such journeys?” —David Campany Text and images from Photography & the American Road Trip by David Campany, Aperture, aperture.org. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. 32
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(OPPOSITE PAGE) Jacob Holdt, Alabama Bernard Plossu, New Mexico, 1980 (THIS PAGE) Inge Morath, Golden Nugget, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1960 Stephen Shore, U.S. 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, July 21, 1973
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PHOTOGRAPHY & THE AMERICAN ROAD TRIP BY DAVID CAMPANY
(OPPOSITE PAGE) Inge Morath, Outside Memphis, Tennessee, 1960 Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, Wires, 2008 (THIS PAGE) Bernard Plossu, Phoenix, 1980 35
(THIS PAGE) Justine Kurland, Claire, 8th Ward, 2012 (OPPOSITE PAGE) Joel Meyerowitz, Florida, 1970 Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, Tires, 2006 36
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PHOTOGRAPHY & THE AMERICAN ROAD TRIP BY DAVID CAMPANY
CALDER AND ABSTRACTION:
From Avant-Garde to Iconic edited by Stephanie Barron and Lisa Gabrielle Mark
Los Angeles County Museum of Art lacma.org 38
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he Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) recently closed the first West Coast exhibition of the works of Alexander Calder. Titled Calder and Abstraction: From Avant Garde to Iconic, this monographic presentation of Calder’s work encompassed over fifty abstract sculptures ranging from LACMA’s’ own whimsical commissioned work Three Quintains (Hello Girls) to mobiles, stabiles, and maquettes for larger outdoor pieces covering the artist’s forty-year career. The exhibition was curated by the museum’s senior curator of modern art, Stephanie Barron, who collaborated for the sixth time with the internationally acclaimed architectural firm Gehry Partners, LLP in the mounting of the show. Alexander Calder, a native of Pennsylvania, was a third generation sculptor. His grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder, a Scottish-born sculptor, worked on the Albert Hall in London before moving to Philadelphia. He was chosen to create the 250 sculptures that decorate Philadelphia’s City Hall (the most decorated municipal building in the world), a project that took twenty years to complete. His son, Alexander Stirling Calder, who studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with Thomas Eakins, also enjoyed a long and successful artistic career
that included not only collaborating with his father on the city hall project but also the famed Swann Fountain of Philadelphia and the statue of George Washington as President on the Washington Square Arch in New York City. The third Alexander Calder, born in Lawnton, PA, in 1898, showed artistic promise as a young boy, making animal and circus figures out of wire that presaged some of the most renowned work he would make years later. Initially Calder was allied with the Surrealist movement and the champions of pure abstraction. In his mid-twenties
Calder lived in Paris at the peak of the avant-garde era with such luminaries as Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian, Fernand Leger, and the American, Man Ray. Obviously at this moment in the 20th century, Paris was the epicenter of the artistic world, electric with creativity. Calder consumed this atmosphere and made works that referenced astronomy, a pre-occupation that permeated the Parisian art scene. His works, such as Gibraltar of 1936, which features two eschewed rods thrust upward from a wooden base, are meant to reference a personal solar system—the earthly uni-
Installation photograph, Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic, November 24, 2013-July 27, 2014, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, © Calder Foundation, New York, Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY, photo ©Fredrik Nilsen
Alexander Calder, Three Quintains (Hello Girls), 1964, sheet metal and paint with motor, 275 x 288 inches, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Art Museum Council Fund, M.65.10, © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo: © Museum Associates/LACMA
verse and the cosmos exploding with power. After Calder met Joan Miro in 1928, biomorphic, curvilinear shapes began to appear in his sculptures. The two artists were dear friends for the rest of their lives and both felt the other’s presence in their own work. Calder’s artistic life changed dramatically in 1930 when he visited the studio of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. As a result of this encounter, his work moved from the realm of Surrealism into abstraction, and as Calder himself said, “The visit gave me a shock.… Though I had heard the word ‘modern’ before, I did not consciously know or feel the term ‘abstract.’” The impact of these two encounters cannot be minimalized in Calder’s work from then on. It is from this time that his mobiles and stabiles, for which he is best known, emanated. The LACMA exhibition showcased these works 40
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brilliantly both with Gehry’s design and the manner in which the show was installed and lighted. A crucial aspect of Calder’s work is shadow, and the stark white and grey walls of the exhibition space in the Resnick Pavilion were the ideal forum to showcase the all-important shadow. The mobiles (a termed coined by Marcel Duchamp) are intentionally kinetic and move gently with airflow. Painted metal disks and spheres held together with wire veins and stems are both enchanting and entrancing as they float with the movement of air. The stabiles, stationary abstract sculptures, were developed at the same time as the mobiles and are fundamentally the same concept; they came to their full fruition later in Calder’s life. Both types of sculpture were shown in this loosely chronologically organized exhibition.
The Zen-like quality of the LACMA show was a testimony to both Barron and the Gehry Partners, whose thoughtful installation allowed large-scale and very small pieces to reside in the same space and co-exist without being overor underwhelmed. The show also explored how when Calder began using quarter-inch steel in place of aluminum (which he had used almost exclusively), he was able to construct significantly larger and more durable works of art. The exhibition’s circle was completed with the museum’s iconic outdoor work Three Quintains (Hello Girls),
which was commissioned specifically for LACMA by its Art Museum Council in 1964 to coincide with the opening of a new campus on Wilshire Boulevard. It was Calder’s first sitespecific commission, and its title is a lighthearted wave to the women of the council who paid for it. The “splashing fountain” is made up of three mobiles, individually balanced and supported by a pylon built from a single triangular metal sheet, with the mobiles movement spurred on by jets of water. It remains one of the most beloved works in the collection.
Alexander Calder, La Grande Vitesse (intermediate maquette), 1969, sheet metal, bolts, and paint, 102 x 135 x 93 inches, Calder Foundation, New York, ©2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo: Calder Foundation, New York/Art Resource, NY
The Peacock and Beauty in Art
STRUT: THE PEACOCK AND BEAUTY IN ART
Strut: The Peacock and Beauty in Art is on view at the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY, through January 18, 2015. A catalogue accompanies the exhibit. Details at hrm.org. 42
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f the peacock were architecture, it would be the sweeping staircase on which it is often depicted in paintings, or a blazing chandelier, the cynosure of all eyes. The peacock is designed to make an entrance, to hold court, to have all take notice, to draw the eye from its ugly feet, screeching voice, and awkward flight. From the tiled mosaics of ancient Rome to the handbags of today’s fashion icon Judith Leiber, the elegant form of the peacock is emblazoned on art, decorative objects, fashion, and ephemera—green, blue, and shining, the bird is the image of luxury. The popularity of the peacock waxes and wanes as tastes change but for thousands of years, the peacock has accumulated layers of legend, motivating its admirers to appreciate the bird, its feathers, and the alluring imagery of both to embellish their own appearance and their homes. Strut: The Peacock and Beauty in Art offers its own visual delights from the mid19th century to today, and includes a few earlier art objects that provide historical context. The objects show us the peacock, a gorgeous creature that reflects its beauty onto the artists who revel in the bird’s form and create it anew in their work. The peacock’s ornamental train of tail feathers fans out two times its height and is one of the most outlandish and beguiling examples of natural and artistic evolution. Artists transformed the outsized fabulousness of the male’s tail into pinnacles of over-the-top mannerism. Spectacular and theatrical, almost grotesque, we delight in the flash and bang of the peacock. To perceive a thing as beautiful may also mean that thing possesses exaggerated proportion, unsettling because unexpect-
(LEFT) Edward Mason Eggleston (18821941) Cleopatra From an Art Deco calendar, 12 x 10 inches. Thomas D. Murphy Co., 1934. Private Collection
(TOP RIGHT) Gloria Swanson as Lady Lasenby. Promotional photograph made for the film Male and Female, 1919, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures/Photofest ÂŠ Paramount Pictures (RIGHT) Displaying Peacocks Design, c. 1970s. Paint on paper 16 1/2 x 20 inches. Kittler Studio, Paris. Courtesy of The Design Library, New York and London (LEFT) Jesse Arms Botke (1883-1971) Albino Peacock and Two Cockatoo, c. 1930. Oil on gold leaf on board 39 x 31 1/2 inches Collection of Deborah E. Maloy
(BELOW) Peacock Chair, 2013. Constructed from a single sheet of DuPont™ Corian® plastic. Photography: Andrew Wilcox
(ABOVE) Paul Manship (1885-1966) Detail from Osborne Gates—The Crane and the Peacock, 1952. Bronze, 29 x 43 x 3 1/2 inches. Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Bequest of Paul Manship, 1966.47.2 (BOTTOM LEFT) William Giles When Winter Wanes, c. 1923. Relief etching printed from multiple zinc metal plates 11 3/4 x 14 inches (sight). Private Collection. Courtesy of William P. Carl Fine Prints Durham, North Carolina (BOTTOM RIGHT) Gabriel Schachinger (German,1850-1912) Sweet Reflections, 1886. Oil on canvas, 51 x 31 inches Collection of the Woodmere Art Museum Bequest of Charles Knox Smith
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ed, but certainly a trigger to our visual pleasure. Despite the “S” curves of the peacock’s body and its dazzling coloration, the outsized proportions of the bird’s tail violate the classical concepts of balance and composition. Like the giraffe’s neck and the elephant’s trunk, the peacock’s tail is both triumph and folly of form. The modish bird proudly struts the fine line we draw between the gorgeous and the absurd but when the Victorian aesthetic pushed too far towards the lavish, the brocaded and bejeweled was swept away by clean-lined modernism, and the peacock fluttered from its high perch to become, for years, the symbol of hopelessly old-fashioned decadence. Enlightenment philosopher Edmund Burke claimed that if an object’s beauty depended on its usefulness then the “wedge-like snout of a swine...so well adapted to...digging and rooting, would be extremely beautiful.” The peacock’s purpose, though, is not so earthly bound. On its perch it poses, precious. As far back as the time of King Solomon in 931 BC, the peacock impressed: Once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory and apes, and peacocks,” and, so Solomon “exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.” Artists who personify people through the animals they paint and sculpt are often skeptical about surface beauty—considering it only “skin deep.” The peacock, painted, may lack the virtues of other personified birds. It does not possess the nobility of the eagle, the regal distance of the swan, the supposed wisdom of the owl, the melodious voice of the nightingale, or the domestic busyness of the sparrow. Instead, the peacock brings something else to the party—movie star glamour. It sashays onto our stage, fanning a kaleidoscope of feathers. —Bartholomew F. Bland and Laura Vookles (ABOVE) The Peacock Skirt in Salome Engraving: Aubrey Beardsley 8 1/2 x 6 5/8 inches
From Strut: The Peacock and Beauty in Art, Hudson River Museum, hrm.org. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. 45
Charlesworth: Stills Sarah Charlesworth: Stills is on view at the Art Institute of Chicago through January 4, 2015. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Details at artic.edu.
n February 1980, artist Sarah Charlesworth (1947– 2013) exhibited a group of seven cropped and greatly enlarged news photographs in the East Village apartment of fledgling dealer Tony Shafrazi. Each pictured a solitary individual jumping or falling from a tall building. With these pieces, Charlesworth married the dry reserve of Conceptual Art to works of high drama. Stills helped to define a movement in American art that remains among the most influential of the last 40 years: the Pictures Generation.” —The Art Institute of Chicago
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(PREVIOUS PAGE) Sarah Charlesworth. Unidentified Man, Ontani Hotel, Los Angeles, 1980, printed 2012, No. 14 of 14 from the series Stills. The Art Institute of Chicago, promised gift of Liz and Eric Lefkofsky. ÂŠ Estate of Sarah Charlesworth. Courtesy the Estate of Sarah Charlesworth and Maccarone. (THIS PAGE) Sarah Charlesworth. Unidentified Woman, Hotel Corona de Aragon, Madrid, 1980, printed 2012, No. 1 of 14 from the series Stills. The Art Institute of Chicago, promised gift of Liz and Eric Lefkofsky. ÂŠ Estate of Sarah Charlesworth. Courtesy the Estate of Sarah Charlesworth and Maccarone. 47
Sarah Charlesworth. Unidentified Man, Unidentified Location, 1980, printed 2012, No. 9 of 14 from the series Stills. The Art Institute of Chicago, promised gift of Liz and Eric Lefkofsky. ÂŠ Estate of Sarah Charlesworth. Courtesy the Estate of Sarah Charlesworth and Maccarone. 48
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Sarah Charlesworth. Patricia Cawlings, Los Angeles, 1980, printed 2012, No. 10 of 14 from the series Stills. The Art Institute of Chicago, Krueck Foundation and Photography Gala Funds,2013.129. ÂŠ Estate of Sarah Charlesworth. Courtesy the Estate of Sarah Charlesworth and Maccarone. 49
NAVIGATING THE WEST
GEORGE CALEB BINGHAM AND THE RIVER see Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River is on view at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, TX, through January 18, 2015. A catalogue accompanies the exhibit. Details at cartermuseum.org. 50
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ost scholars have interpreted George Caleb Binghamâ€™s work as celebrating the nineteenth-century doctrine of Manifest Destiny and the drive toward westward expansion. Though the Treaty of Paris 1783 granted Americans the right to navigate the Mississippi River, the area remained contested space, since the Spanish and French retained control of the Lower Mississippi River and New Orleans.
Once the Louisiana Purchase transferred governance of New Orleans and lands west of the Mississippi to the United States in 1803, flatboats played an important role in shipping raw agricultural goods down the Ohio and Mississippi to manufacturing centers in the eastern United States and western Europe. Thus, the river men and traffic depicted by Bingham were integral to incorporating what had been the frontier into the fabric of the broader United States.
Nevertheless, boatmen and the rivers on which they traveled had earned an ambiguous position within antebellum society. The men were simultaneously admired and disdained, valued for their free and unfettered movement through western spaces but feared for the corrupting influence their unruly and uncivilized manners might have on polite society. Bingham’s figures have been interpreted as idealized, cleaned-up versions of the “half-horse, half-alligator” boatmen and unsavory rustics featured in popular publications and tales of the 1820s and 1830s … To claim a space for his vision and create work that was critically acceptable, Bingham had to contend with images of the West that could be seen in works by other fine artists and the out-
lets of popular culture. Starting in the 1830s, thanks to advances in transportation and printing technologies, images of the inland rivers were widely distributed throughout the United States, feeding the public’s imagination about the territories to the west. Representations took the form of landscape and bird’s-eye views, theatrical productions, maps, book and magazine illustrations, and the most popular medium of them all, moving panoramas. These giant scrolling paintings toured the United States and western Europe from the mid-1840s to the early 1850s, promising the experience of a steamboat trip on the broad expanse of the Mississippi in just a few hours and without the inconvenience of an actual journey. At the same time, an increasing
(OPPOSITE PAGE) Jolly Flatboatmen in Port, George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879) (THIS PAGE) Watching the Cargo, George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879) 51
Boatman (from “Boatmen on the Missouri”), George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879) Self-Portrait, George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879) The Jolly Flatboatmen, George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879) 52
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number of people traveled to the rivers themselves, whether as tourists, migrants, missionaries, or businessmen, and the variety of pictures at their disposal informed and created expectations about what they would see. Bingham’s work has a rare place in
this crowded field of imagery because he intended his paintings and prints to function primarily within the realm of the fine arts. Yet by making western rivers the cornerstone of his artistic identity, he put his works in dialogue with other images of the West circu-
lating in the burgeoning sphere of the mass media. By emphasizing a sense of the everyday over the sensational, Bingham’s paintings counter existing stereotypes and assert a local’s perspective, thereby bringing new facets of western identity to the fore.
—Nenette Luarca-Shoaf From Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham & the River, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, cartermuseum.org. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879) 53
DEPARTURES see Pop Departures is on view at the Seattle Art Museum through January 11, 2015. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Details at seattleartmuseum.org.
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n chapter ten of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, the artist confides that, “I really like to eat alone. I want to start a chain of restaurants for other people who are like me called ANDYMATS—‘The Restaurant for the Lonely Person.’ You get your food and then you take your tray into a booth and watch television.” I was thinking about Warhol’s ANDYMATS the other day when I walked into a Coffee Bean and Tea
Leaf on Market Street in downtown San Francisco. Everyone in the relatively crowded coffee shop seemed to be on his or her own. This is not to say, however, that they were alone. Each patron was tapping away on an iPad, laptop, or cell phone. Partnered with their personal devices, the customers seemed entirely uninterested in (if not outright oblivious to) one another. The café, it seemed to me, had been made over in the image of the ANDYMAT.
(PREVIOUS PAGE) Red Painting (Brush Stroke)1965. Roy Lichtenstein, American, 1923–1997. 60 x 60 in. Collection Simonyi. T1999.200.10 Seduction 1986. Lynn Hershman Leeson, American, born 1941), Gelatin silver photograph. 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm). Gift of Patterson Sims and Katy Homans. 95.78
Warhol died in 1987, but the legacy of his pop art and cultural sensibility continues to endure, nowhere more so than in the intimate connection that defines our relation to technology. (“When I got my first TV set,” Warhol said, “I stopped caring so much about having close relationships.”) What need, we might ask after Warhol, for intersubjective relationships to other people when the interaction between self and screen has become so satisfying? Beyond his self declared intimacy
with his television set and tape recorder (the latter of which the artist called his “wife”), Warhol also remains influential because his work stemmed from a genuine interest in popular and commercial culture rather than a sense of superiority to or ironic remove from it. The artist memorably put the point this way: “The Pop artists did images that anybody walking down Broadway could recognize in a split second—comics, picnic tables, men’s trousers, celebrities, shower cur-
(THIS PAGE) Marilyn 1967. Andy Warhol, American, 1928 – 1987. Screenprint on paper. 36 x 36in. (91.4 x 91.4cm). Bequest of Kathryn L. Skinner. T2013.50 Study for Vicki!. 1964. Roy Lichtenstein, American, 1923 – 1997 Oil and magna on paper. 42 x 41 1/2 in. (106.7 x 105.4 cm). General Acquisition Fund. 76.9
Jackie 1964. Andy Warhol, American, 1928 â€“ 1987. Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas. 20 x 16in. (50.8 x 40.6cm). Jeffrey and Susan Brotman. T2013.35.2 Baked Potato 1966. Claes Oldenburg, American, (born in Sweden), 1929. Cast resin, painted with acrylic, Shenango china dish. 4 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 7 in. (11.43 x 26.67 x 17.78 cm). Gift of Sidney and Anne Gerber. 86.274.4 Vocho (Yellow) 2004 Margarita Cabrera, Mexican, born 1973. Vinyl, batting, thread, and car parts. 60 x 72 x 156in. (152.4 x 182.9 x 396.2cm). Anne and William J. Hokin Collection. T2013.50 56
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tains, refrigerators, Coke bottles—all the great modern things that the Abstract Expressionists tried so hard not to notice at all.” What was important to Warhol was not only the “great modern things” that inhabit the commercial landscape of contemporary life—the comics and shower curtains, the celebrities and Coke bottles—but also the way in which a leading group of avantgarde artists sought to separate their art from, and elevate it above, such things. War-
hol proposed instead that we embrace the logic of the marketplace and the poetics of consumer culture. For better or worse, contemporary artists continue to learn from and expand upon his example. – from the essay “Warhol and After” by Richard Meyer From Pop Departures by Catharina Manchanda, Seattle Art Museum in association with Yale University Press, seattleartmuseum.org. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Varoom 1965. Roy Lichtenstein, American, 1923 – 1997. Oil and magna on canvas. 36 x 36in. (91.4 x 91.4cm). Collection Simonyi. T1999.200.11 TV Legs 1987. Lynn Hershman Leeson, American, born 1941. Gelatin silver photograph. 24 x 20 inches (61 x 50.8 cm). Gift of Rod Slemmons. 95.79 Mao Tse Tung 1972. Andy Warhol, American, 1928 – 1987. Screenprint on Beckett High White paper. 42 1/16 x 42 1/16 in. (106.8 x 106.8 cm). Gift of the American Art Foundation. 2004.119 57
PREMIERE ISSU E
IN THE DEBUT ISSUE ARTISTS DRINKING BEER
Larry Bell and Bob Wilhite share a brew and talk art
DEAD ARTISTS SPEAK
A previously unpublished interview with Henri Matisse
A critic’s take on new works in San Diego
A new look at the jazz great’s paintings
FOREGROUND INTERVIEW A conversation with Wayne Thiebaud
MY FIRST TIME
Actor Louis Ozawa Changchien’s first trip to the Met
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G A L L E RY
Martha Rea Baker
29 x 29 inches, oil on linen, 2013
36 x 36 inches, oil and cold wax on canvas, 2013
Karan Ruhlen Gallery, karanrhulen.com
Egret and Bowl
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The conceit of My First Time is the interviewee’s first museum experience and what it meant to them, whether it was the museum itself or a particular work of art that moved them. Here’s our conversation is with painter and art critic Peter Plagens.
Peter Plagens is a renowned painter and art critic (Newsweek 1989-2003) and currently writes about art for the The Wall Street Journal. He lives in New York.
(THIS PAGE) George Bellows, American (1882-1925) 1909. Oil on canvas. 36 1/4 x48 1/4 in. (92 x 122.6 cm). Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection. Acquired in 1922. The Cleveland Museum of Art. (OPPOSITE PAGE) The Big Dory, 1913. George Bellows (1882-1925). Oil on panel, 18 x 22 in. Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1944.21. New Britain Museum of American Art.
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Foreground: Tell us about your first museum experience. Peter Plagens: I was ten years old. I went with my father to the Cleveland Museum of Art. As a child I had artistic proclivities. I wasn’t a chess genius but I could draw realistic landscapes and waterfalls—it was more than coloring. My father, who worked in advertising, longed to be a commercial artist and in his heart wanted to be an illustrator. So my father and I took the streetcar downtown to the art museum. I had never been to an art museum before, and I remember two things about it. One, I came home and started doing tattoo artist surreal-
ism—eyeballs with a dagger in them and skulls in the background (I must have seen some Dalis). And two, the thing that really stuck in my mind the most was that my father had good taste. He showed me George Bellows’ Stag at Sharkey’s. Boxers violently colliding—it’s really brushy, it’s painted brushier than Manet and I was really knocked out by it. It was a painting of something a ten-year-old boy would like—guys fighting. Foreground: Did it influence the work you make today? Plagens: Somewhat, although it’s hard to say rationally for sure. But when I look back everything tele-
scopes, and I think of the way that I painted all through graduate school and then things began to change the way an artist does—the short answer would have to be yes. I’ve always liked the brushy painters, I’ve always liked Manet, Frans Hals, who I prefer to Rembrandt (I’m not going to make a case that Frans Hals is a greater artist but I would prefer to look at Frans Hals) and John Singer Sargent and Bellows. I’m a kind of painterly painter, and I’d like to be
able to control a brush and composition like Bellows did. There’s an absolutely great small Bellows, The Big Dory, in the New Britain (CT) Museum of American Art that’s one of the best paintings, square inch per square inch, I’ve ever seen.
turned me on to modern art. It was also a pleasant outing with my dad. He didn’t like spectator sports and I didn’t like church (he was a Christian Scientist, but the family went to the local Methodist church), so it was nice to find common ground. When I became a Foreground: What are your lasting serious painter, he eventually came thoughts about your first time? around to de Kooning (because “he Plagens: It made me like art muse- could draw”), but never to the rest ums—the CMA is one of the best of the Abstract Expressionists and museums in America—and maybe certainly not to Warhol and Pop. 61
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It’s a beautiful picture. We call this art. And true art is disturbing. — from The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair: A Novel by Joel Dicker
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CONTRIBUTORS FALL 2014
State University Art Museum, and The Newark Art Museum.
MICHAEL AUPING, chief curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, is known for his contributions and expertise in international developments in postwar art. Auping grew up in Los Angeles, California, and received his MA from California State University in Long Beach, both of which provided a unique perspective on art developments of the West Coast, where he cultivated the relationships and ideas that have informed his career.
RICHARD MEYER, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History at Stanford University, teaches courses in twentieth-century American art, the history of photography, arts censorship and the first amendment, curatorial practice, and gender and sexuality studies. His first book, Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art, was awarded the Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Outstanding Scholarship from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
BARTHOLOMEW F. BLAND is the Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Hudson River Museum, where he has organized a number of exhibitions related to the art and history of the Hudson Valley region including, Westchester: The American Suburb and Dutch New York: The Roots of Hudson Valley Culture. DAVID CAMPANY is a writer, curator and artist. His books include Art and Photography (2003), Photography and Cinema (2008), Jeff Wall: Picture for Women (2010), Gasoline (2013) Walker Evans: the magazine work (2014) and The Open Road: photographic road trips across America (2014). He also writes for Frieze, Aperture, Art Review, FOAM, Source, Photoworks and Tate magazine. David teaches at the University of Westminster, London. PETRA EIKO has lived in California for over 20 years. Her artwork has been exhibited in California, Germany and Korea. She is also the author of the inspirational philosophical treatise, Seeds of Truth, an eight-part series created as a road map for seekers in pursuit of the secret of happiness. In 2005, she was awarded the “Honorary Citizenship” by Busan, Korea, for her achievements in poetry. ALEXANDER KROLL fully embraced abstraction and improvisation in painting only after moving to Los Angeles: “I never planned these paintings,” he says. “In fact, they’re really a lot like Los Angeles: there is a total lack of concern with planning.” Kroll, who considers himself a lifelong student of the “technology of painting,” is known for his mixed-media, multi-layered works, in which oil, acrylic, and enamel bleed and run into one anther. NENETTE LUARCA-SHOAF has served as Lecturer in the Art Department at Ursinus College and held the positions of Research Associate and Social Media Coordinator for the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She received a doctorate in art history from the University of Delaware in 2012, specializing in nineteenth-century American art and visual culture. ALAN MAGEE has received awards for his painting from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design. Magee’s works can be seen in many public collections including The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Art Institute of Chicago, The National Portrait Gallery, the US Capitol, the Portland Museum of Art, the Farnsworth Art Museum, Arkansas Art Center, Arizona
PETER PLAGENS received his B.F.A. from the University of Southern California and his M.F.A. from Syracuse University. Plagens is known for his painting as well as his writing on art. In June 1999 the artist’s first novel, “Time for Robo,” was published by Black Heron Press. He resides in New York City. RACHELLE ROJANY is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Los Angeles, including Sight Lines at The Happy Lion, Triply at Overtones Gallery and All Media 2003 at Irvine Fine Arts Center. She was an artist in residence at the Zentralbuero in Berlin and at the Vermont Studio Center. Rachelle lives and works in Los Angeles. LAURA L. VOOKLES is Chief Curator of Collections at the Hudson River Museum. In the 25 years she has served at the Hudson River Museum, she has focused her efforts on Glenview, the Museum’s 1877 Hudson River home for which she completed many furnishing, conservation, and interpretation projects. JEROME WITKIN is recognized as one of the most formidable contemporary figurative painters. Critically, Jerome Witkin generates notable praise, as exampled by the L.A. Times citing his work to be “a break-through in post-Cold-War art.” Witkin’s works can be found in the permanent collection of prominent museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. JOEL-PETER WITKIN is a photographer whose work deals with outsider subjects not widely covered by other photographers. His photography career began without any official study. After serving in Vietnam, Witkin worked as a freelance photographer, becoming the official photographer of City Walls Inc. Later study in sculpture at Columbia University earned him a BFA in 1974. He also earned a MFA from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1986. His photographs have been widely exhibited, beginning with a 1959 group showing in New York at the Museum of Modern Art. Foreground is published quarterly by Shelf Media Group LLC, PO Box 852321, Richardson, TX 75085. Copyright 2014 by Shelf Media Group LLC. Subscriptions are FREE, go to www.shelfmediagroup.com to subscribe. 65
Published on Nov 23, 2014
FOREGROUND: FINE ART FOR THE CULTURALLY CURIOUS. In this issue: Joel-Peter Witkin and Jerome Witkin, Alexander Kroll, Rachelle Rojany, Alan...