Episode 170: Mark Staff Brandl

November 30, 2008 · Print This Article

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Duncan “the fieldmouse” MacKenzie interviews Mark “The EuroShark” Staff Brandl, theorist, writer, professor, artist, and contributor to Art in America, Sharkforum and Bad at Sports.

Richard expresses concern that Duncan is off his meds.

Mark Staff Brandl
Art in America
Picasso as an asshole
Krannert Art Museum
Out of Sequence exhibition
The Shark (Wesley Kimler)
Paul Klein (The Art Letter)
Steve Hamann
academic art
Socrates vs Sophists (Euthydemus)
late Modernism
Walter Friedlander
Giorgio Vasari
El Greco
Rosso Fiorentino
Alessandro Allori
Luc Tuymans
junk art installations and event art
Art History as a Braid
Harold Bloom
Brandl PhD dissertation
Marcel Duchamp
Jacob’s Battle
Jabbok River
William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 87
Jacques Derrida
Michel Foucault
Stepford Artists
Duchamp family
Gene Colan
Lawrence Weiner
Frank Stella’s Working Space,
Kunstmuseum Thurgau
Forget Amnesia
John Perrault
Conceptualism as a movement
sign painting
Comics and Sequential Art
Henri Fantin-Latour
Nicholas of Cusa, Coincidentia Oppositorum
Riposte works
Kunstraum Kreuzlingen
David Reed
Roy Liechtenstein
James Brown
Earl and Ruth Brandl
Bruce Nauman
Mark Tansey
Elizabeth Peyton
Han van Meegeren (forger)
Feeble Painting
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Ernst Gombrich
James Elkins
Lane Relaya
David Carrier
Jeff Koons
George Lakoff
cognitive linguistics
Embodied metaphor
Sigmund Freud
Dr Philip Ursprung glaze
Vincent van Gogh
Georg Baselitz
Emmentaler (“Swiss”) cheese
Dictatorship of the Consensoriat
Consensus Correct
Nelson Goodman
Immanuel Kant
Max Bill (Arte Concret)
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Hermeneutic circle
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Max Ernst
Gustav Klimt
Donald Judd
Abstract Expressionism
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Dawn of the Dead
Kunstschule Liechtenstein
Judith Russi Kirshner
Cornelia Kunz
Joseph Goebbels
Robbin Lockett
Tony Tasset’s “pony paintings”
Michael Workman
Ed Marszewski (Edmar)

87 Responses to “Episode 170: Mark Staff Brandl”

  1. Duncan welcome to sharkdom:

    The Stepford Shark

  2. Duncan and Mark, that was a really interesting discussion! Lots of stuff to think about.

    I say that even though you subjected me to the word “TROPE” several times.

  3. Duncan needs a rehab program for use of the word Trope.

  4. Thanks Amy! Any particulars?

    I’m the one who introduced and pushed ‘trope.’ DMacK used it too, but you have to shout at both of us. Trope is my Big Interest.

    So I need to go to the program too!

  5. Hm…so many things. I liked your characterization of the current state of art as “Mannerist” and the hopeful tone that we might be heading for a new Baroque-like period. I liked your term “feeble painting” and appreciated your lack of bias in acknowledging there were some paintings you did like within that group. Selfishly, it was nice to hear a defense of painting…since I mostly read on blogs and in art mags that it is irrelevant. Your explanation of the difference between conceptual vs neoconceptualism was a new one for me to chew on too.

  6. At the very least, neither of you said “NOTION”

  7. I use “notion” often as a stylistic substitute for “idea” or “approach” in my scholarly writing. Fiddlesticks! (Bet you haven’t heard that word in ages.) I could use “m.o.” instead, but it makes us all criminals.

    Thanks, btw. Yes, I know that “Neo-Conceptualism” / end of Conceptualism thing, as I described, ain’t taught much in ChiTown, Duncan fought me on it too, as you may have noticed, but that IS the world-wide art-historically accepted, and completely correct, designation for “that” work of the 90s. Whether liked or not.

    Stick with painting. Painters will, as always, battle, absorb and subsume painting’s enemies and thereby change and modify art once again.

  8. I approve of the liberal use of “Fiddlesticks” in any and all scholarly writing.


    I said Vasari copied Duchamp! I was leaping ahead — in my head — in my argument (as I often do). He, of course, copied Michelangelo, with additional pastiched parts of Raphael and Leonardo and a few others.

    A term I wanted in and forgot, yet not created by me: “Yellow pages art” — thanks to yBa painter Mark Francis from London. His wife is a fine artist influenced by Conceptualism to some degree; he uses that term for the type of Neo-Conceptualism I decried here — get some typical idea, then don’t use your hands, just get on the phone, look in the yellow pages and order a bunch of stuff. Viola— installation! A snotty, but lovely term.

    Something else that didn’t make it into the discussion here, I can’t remember if Duncan and I got to it, but I had intended to mention it. When discussing art education, I wanted to point out that Tony Fitzpatrick’s quasi-mentoring situation in his studio is one of the most promising and fruitful art education situations I know of!

  10. Comments that concern what we should post should just be emailed to me at badatsports@gmail.com thanks. Lets stay on topic.

    field mouse/Stepford/duncan.

  11. its not Stepford/duncan, it is,

    {The Stepford Shark}

  12. oops were we off topic?

  13. Daniel Anhorn Says:

    interesting discussion…though the numbers of artists comment could be relative to world populations…In 1500 world pop was 450 million , today 6.7 billion.
    Of course there are more artists today, and more ways of practicing, and back then there was “only” sculpture and painting.
    And “artists” were considered tradesmen, rather than an independent autonomous self expressive beings.
    Plurality of practices isn’t a problem, just the quality of each piece, and whether they are in service to an idea, rather than mere genre fillers.

  14. Good points Daniel. And a problem is whether they are more than the mere illustration of received ideas.

    My point was simply a glut of overproduction of students of art, more than a glut of artists. My fear being that we who teach them are misusing them rather than doing them a real service or doing society a real service. I think “real” artists will find their way anyway, even or maybe now especially without a school diploma. But the others bother me. Did they really get anything from it? And why do so many of my compatriots feel it necessary to try to turn out hundreds of carbon copies of themselves? In people who then will go on to nothing in that direction.

    Duncan, maybe here are some ideas for nicknames other than Field Mouse:

  15. Daniel. Word.

  16. Daniel Anhorn Says:

    I agree with many of your points…The deskilling of art was one point i ran up against a few times before. Though i think the word “student” in the true sense of the word is equivalent to “artist”, in the sense that it relies on an innate CURIOSITY, where the student/artist will seek, rather than receive, and this will be based upon their own expression of their life’s experiences, in the closest approximation of their ability to express such things. The ability to recognize this is confounding, in the sense that we “learn” in a fashion after our “masters” …and it takes a loooong-ass time to recognize that. Painting is but one language, among others, that we can learn to negotiate, or learn, albeit with whatever “accent” we personally bring to it. Whether we recognize the language for ourselves, and what it says to others, is a formidable challenge.

  17. Yes. But a darn amazingly wonderful “agon” or formidable challenge! And I am worried about giving the best to curious students who deserve it, of course. It is a bit different in Switzerland where it is far far harder to get into schools of any sort, but cheap to almost free if you do, so the dynamics are different. And where the state universities, polytechical “Hochschulen” and so on are better than the private ones by far, but there are some similarities in questioning the appropriate education of those who wish artistic training.

  18. Now I think Duncan and I should take over Hello Beautiful and call it Hello Damn Rules, What Rules.

  19. I like the discussion. Too bad not more about your daily life, like this one.

  20. Stephen lee Says:

    dear Mark Staff Brandl,

    re: Academies: my comments and your reply on derek Guthries blog

    I enjoyed listening to your interview,the reference to shakespeare and the prison where current artists shop for influences is pointed and unusual. A system that produces Stepford artists I refer to as ‘tick-box artist’. That the rules are consensus and commercialism I would call corporatisation.
    The anti-puritanical or Calvinist approach to Neo-conceptualism, what I referred to as ‘thin and weedy conceptualism’, where an artists gets a ‘slave to do the work’, is also a very striking comment. However I have reservations about encouraging parallels with the Catholic Counter-reformation of the Baroque. I’m still figuring this out I agree it’s braided and not linear.
    Thomas Crow makes great reading, also Robert Rosenblum’s ‘Art of the Nineteenth century, the first essay on painting gives insight into the Royal Academy in london. Here the Academy is described in an insightful way in relation to American painters and Joshua Reynold’s painting is shown to be not so guided by rules as we might imagine. You can use anything you like that I write, but as I’ve started writing a bit for Art Monthly you might cite any direct quote. (see my letter ‘Educational Taylorism’ on AM web under ‘The Future of Art Education’ debate, plus this month’s AM reviews. There’s also a good review of a Chicago show ‘1968’ at DePaul Uni.’Thin and weedy conceptualism’ (a gem I think), is from my friend the critic Peter Suchin.

    PS I think I may have met you at the Field museum, I worked there in 1985- exhibitions dept.

  21. You are a wizard with words, Stephen (Tick-box, Weedy, etc.) I love them!

    I’m not “encouraging parallels with the Catholic Counter-reformation of the Baroque” in any way. I know what you mean, and what would worry you about that, me too! But first — remember that Baroque is taught all too simply. It was indeed part Jesuit Counter-Ref,as usually taught, but much else as well. Caravaggio was certainly no Counter-Ref type, and probably the greatest Baroque artist of them all, one of the greatest artists of all time, is Rembrandt, a clear Protestant “booshy.”

    More importantly, what I am trying to do is make an analogy to is the structure of the developmental change as it occured then and is needed now (I only alluded to it, but a similar thing happened from Baroque then Rococo to the Neo-Classical/Romantic period, and several other such transitions between “stronger” and transitional periods). I do not want a neo-Baroque. Not a neo-Anything, that is mannerism. I seemingly didn’t make that clear enough. I am thinking in historically parallel structures, so to speak. Making analogies, not suggestions for stylistic emulation in any fashion. Thanks for bringing that up! That’s an important point.

    I love Rosenblum’s work, have communicated with him personally about it (especially the Northern Romantic Tradion book), but disagree about the academy. First, primarily I am refering to the French Academy under LeBrun, second, I am refering to the academy as an ideal, and thirdly, I think he’s simply wrong. Look at most work, and the chief work, which came out under Reynolds (and their ignorance of and surpression of William Blake, who was far beyond them). They had a wee bit more openness than the French academy, but neither much openness nor enough.

    We MUST have known each other — I was really busy then though, at the FMNH. The last couple of years before I left I was the technical project director of building the new Egypt Hall (Mastaba and all that), and that was pretty complex and hectic. What did you work on?

  22. Oh yeah, Stephen’s post reminds me, I was able to go to Europe, persuing my soon-to-be-wife, because I cashed in my Field Museum pension and sold out a whole show of paintings, largely due to the success of a work I had in a show I co-curated with Jane Calvin at the Hyde Park Art Center.

  23. I agree with you. As I have said, before being dead, “The majority off artists seek only for some new technical manner, and produce millions of works of art without enthusiasm, with cold hearts and souls asleep.” As for these artists, “There are complaints of excessive competition, of over-production. Hatred, partisanship, cliques, jealousy, intrigues are the natural consequences of this aimless, materialist art.”

  24. Thanks Wassily. I didn’t know you could write in English as well as German and Russian and French. You are language talented for someone no longer among the living.

  25. consensus is never conducive to any pioneering spirit

  26. Stephen lee Says:

    hello again,

    I recall in your interview you mention the idea of a Straw man and you make reference to both liberalism and messy painting as straw men. I find this very interesting as my sculpture was about this very thing. After Chicago we went to Baltimore/ Washington and I was active as an artist during the period known as the culture wars in DC. At this time I met Derek Guthrie. My straw men were life sized figures that were a cross between English corn dollies and Apellachian corn husk dolls. Some looked like scare-crows others like tightly woven crafted figures. I also made a straw tank and a cold-war jet at Arlington art cetre. I like the theme of the straw man as it it has many metaphores- a fall guy, clutching at straws, an effigy,a fertility image, a Guy Fawkes or the guy with no brain in Wizard of OZ.

    At the field museum i was an intern from SAIC and worked as an art handler on the art of Cameroon. This show was very worthwhile for me as later in Baltimore I met Joyce Scott and was able to understand her beadwork in the context of cameroon art.

    I remember one time you and the FMNH exhibition team, took me out and showed me how to drive Chicago style- this was a hairy but amusing experience.

  27. So I listened to the interview and initially thought Mark sounded like a real jerk. Gradually though I started listening to what he was really saying and became fascinated. While I don’t always think through what I’m doing as clearly as he does- I feel like what I’ve been working on really relates to these ideas. I’ve thought a lot about the difference between the pop artists and what I do (and apparently what he does) which is born out of comics. I learned how to draw and my love of art from comics, so I don’t even really see a difference between a page of Krazy Kat and a Cezane in terms of artistic worth. I haven’t become quite as cynical as him, but I do have a less intellectual dissatisfaction with a lot of “neo” conceptualism. There’s something alienating about the lack of the human hand that really doesn’t do it for me. I completely agree that a return to skill is essential to the next Renaissance. Lately I’ve been very interested in a return to the techniques and materials of the golden age of newspaper comics (King, Herriman, McCay etc..) Herriman and his line especially I see in Mark’s work. Great interview. Duncan, you did a good job keeping it from being TOO self serving.

  28. Thanks for the thoughts Ray. I’m interested in your “Saturday Night” Piece. I realize I can be kind of an agressive jerk. It comes from my conviction and perhaps pathological certainty, along with having to fight the Consensus Cliques day in and day out. I am happy though! I am definitely NOT cynical, though, I am stoic, perhaps, but as I said in the interview, I generally look at the positive aspects of the situation we are in, I am simply very critical (in the original meaning of the word). To analyze what is wrong is often nowadays seen as somehow not properly “boosterish”. I think it is being clearsighted. Speaking of clearsighted, thanks for seeing Herriman! — he is a big influence on me, as is Gene Colan for similar reasons Most generally this is not noticed as they are so little known in the fine art world. I have to add that although Duncan said it a lot, I found the idea of Richard’s to interview me not be self-serving. They have interviewed Tony Fitzgerald, who has also served as a kind of moderator (and I LOVE his pieces), interveiwed other artists who became contributors, interviewed Tony Tasset and then had him interview his own wife — there have been other more “insider” things. I am first and foremost an artist, then an art historian, then a critic (incl. Art in America and Sharkforum as well as BaS). A so-called “artist who writes.” And anyway, when a curator gets interviewed, no one calls that “self-serving”, e.g., and do you think THEY are serving their own interests in art any less — generally far MORE than when artists do several artworld tasks. Why are limits placed only on artists? I have been interviewed by about 40 places on radio and TV, besides BaS. I think it was a delight to argue with Duncan and get to show him the error of his ways. He’s really great fun to talk to.

  29. Yeah I didn’t mean that last part in a negative way at all. It easily could have been two hours of insider baseball but all the topics you discussed were (or should have been) interesting to any artist. By the way for anyone interested the “saturday night”piece you can check it out here. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3001/3082601939_bd3438ba64_b.jpg

  30. “The visual art world is no longer visual…It’s become the dropping off point for every loser from every non-visual category.”

    I agree with this. A lot of the conceptual and performance work seems to be more of a half-assed stunt to get attention. Sometimes it involves a scientific, sociological or psychological theory or observation, but is presented without any basis in any real knowledge of the subject, just a lot of talk. If you don’t know the subject well, are not a musician, actor, etc. you can make an art piece and get a lot of attention.

    Now there are some great conceptual artists out there — Packard Jennings comes to mind. He works with a solid idea and creates very strong visual work to present his ideas.

    I also agree with Mark’s explanation of the deskilling of art. If the music world was more like the art world, The Shaggs would be huge and we’d be listening to a lot of similar junk.

    As far as the educational system goes, producing Stepford artists, I think this happens in higher education in general. My own school emphasizes careerism in business. It’s all about following the necessary steps to graduate and get a nice middle-management position in a solid company. Since the ’80s, everyone gets an MBA and learns “Management.” In my own corporate world experience, I’ve seen some of these people that have bounced from industry to industry. They don’t really understand the business they are in, but can cite certain “gurus” and spend most of their time finding or creating projects that they eventually present to their superiors as proof that they are indespensible to the organization.

    I also like Mark’s explanation of feeblist painting. I had always assumed that it was the product of the feeblist painter’s original booster/promoter/dealer’s demonstration of his or her power in the art world. If Saatchi says it’s good, it’s good. His idea that curators are using this junk to prove that painting is a mockery of itself makes a lot of sense.

  31. I also agree that artists should learn real philosophy, etc. — real techniques.

  32. That’s “Lane RELYEA” by the way.

  33. Hi, thanks for the really interesting interview.

    Could you expand a little on what you said about, what I see as a contradiction-although I’m probably misunderstanding something-the idea of art movements not ending and yet the need for ‘neo’ If they don’t really end, then why the ‘neo?’

  34. Hey Dudes,

    Thanks for the shout out. It was good seeing the show at the Sharkpit. MSB works are amazing to see in person. The interview was awesome and dense. Too much to take in once. I like specifically the definition of “Neo” Conceptual, as the conceptual movement ended in the 80s. I also love the thought that MSB’s comic style is not “ape”ing comic style ala Pop, but more of a respect of comic craft.

    Sorry I was so late in posting, but the comment section has made me itchy lately.


  35. Good point Gina. What I meant is similar to what in category theory is called “categories with fuzzy edges” — that is, there is no HARD and FAST end, as it can appear when taught. No one proclaims “BEGINNING” and “END” — BUT they do have high-points and fade -ins and fade outs. Is that clearer? E.g.: It is CERTAINLY no longer the Ottonian Medieval period, nor the Renaissance, nor Cubism, etc. Second, periods overlap, but mostly fade. The “neo” part everybody talks about as if it were my idea — it is not mine, it is standard art historical usage. This has simply been REPRESSED, especially in Chicago, for a political agenda. Most Neo-Conceptualists and their theorists world-wide indeed call it that and are quite clear that it was rebirthed after Conceptualism, New Imagism, Pattern and Decoration, Neo-Lots-o-stuff, Neo-Expressionism, Neo-Geo, Appropriation, THEN Neo-Conceptualism.

  36. Derek Guthrie Says:

    Stephan Lee and Mark Staff Brandt have introduced the idea of mannerism and the academy into the discussion regarding the state of contemporary art. Both terms today carry the idea of a decline in the quality of art and or art production. Mannerism is post Renaissance and the Academy is post Mannerism. The difference being that the Academy was a manifestation in part of Public Taste that found voice and presence in the 19th Century as disposable income became available from working and the new middle class which entered into the Market place of the academy. The academy and the French salon was yesterday’s art fair. Stephan cites with his revisiting of 19th art journalism in his post the words and textures of the then emerging public discourse.

    The art fair today is an extended market organized by the extenuated reach of modern communications which gives a new presence to Vox Populi and the ominance of appalling taste, usually called Kitsch .Maybe the new name for Kitsch could be post contemporary.

    Derek Guthrie

  37. I agree Derek — the Super Fairs are the Salon. I also love the term “post-contemporary” (or if the decon types would get ahold of it, “postcontemporary;” they get hot about that French and German-like hyphenlessness). Especially since looking at it logically and semantically, there can be no post-contemporary, yet with the pureposeful spinning of wheels going on, your term seems dead-on.

  38. The interview, interesting as it was, has left me feeling very cynical. It feels like a difference between now and the post Renaissance Mannerist period and the French Academic period is that (to my knowledge) neither the Mannerist nor the Academic period deconstructed art to the point of meaningless, nor did the preceding periods. When art has been critically deconstructed to point of meaningless, the tools/means/logic of deconstruction apply equally to attempts to reconstruct or to build anew. Perhaps the problem lies in the tools/logic? Absent a paradigm shift, the only thing left is spectacle, and then boredom in the face of spectacle.

  39. Good points Dee. I hadn’t looked at it quite THAT negatively, but you may be right. Certainly your last sentences ring very true. I AM hopeful, though, and see possibility in artists consciously building toward new ideas and developing their OWN interests, not memorizing those of others, in the dialogical fashion I sketched out. It probably won’t be easy, but a good fight is worthwhile anyway!

  40. It was great to see you too, Steve H! I hope we (or at belast you) get going on some more art critical comics and cartoons soon! Maybe we can do a show and book of all of them together after a couple years!

  41. There’s always possibility in individual artists consciously building toward new ideas and developing their own interests. Along the way, and at the risk of sounding like a dinosaur, I think we also have to reexamine the validity of some of the premises/givens that got us to this point.

  42. Wrote a reply weeks ago, but it didn’t go thru. Trying to write you back via email, but it’s not connecting to your server. Will keep trying. – Jeff

  43. Great interview Mark! I really enjoyed your thinking and found myself again again concurring with your line of thought. I cannot remember the exact wording you used to describe conceptual art (something about illustration). I have always differentiated conceptual from perceptual art by the direction of the reasoning. It seemed that Stella & co. placed the stress idea (as means) producing object (as ends) — then there was the shift — the idea becoming paramount – idea as ends. At that point (and I think you are dead right on your reading) “illustration” became the means of bringing one to the idea (ends), thus conceptual art. I see it as a kind of high illustration. Indeed dealing with big ideas rather than Rockwell’s “First Haircut” – but illustration all the same. While Stella used the concept of concentricity to “produce” the black pin stripe painting objects, Hizer used the the object/earth work to bring us to the concept of two negatives yielding the positive. I have always thought that was such a concise idea — that one would go out into the landscape and by “not” seeing something you could come to an understanding of the idea intended. I think that the closest cousin to conceptual art was the icon – which through a combination of magic (sacramental blessing) one would produce an object that could theoretically bring one to a concept of something metaphysical or perhaps an epiphany.
    Unlike you I only dabble in philosophy, but I couldn’t agree with you more on the importance of philosophy to the development of really profound ideas in art. Your statement about understanding Derrida and Foucault rather than the curator’s distillation and/or misunderstanding of such is so so true. I minored in philosophy and after 20 years of reading I still have difficulty in grasping Heidigger, continental philosophy and all that followed. I have for some time been interviewing artist (who are supposed to be postmodernist) and I usually find them to be interested in the same aesthetic ideas that modernist struggle with. I think that too many artist have just accepted the tag postmodern with little or no knowledge of what a commitment to that fork in philosophy entails.

  44. Thanks for the comments Tom! I googled you — some interesting collage/paintings you have there¨I’ll get on to your comments later today or tomorrow when I have some time. I have to go walk the dogs and teach painting.

    Thanks for trying Jeff! Keep it up — I don^t know why it wouldn’t register here on BaS — mine all get through, although the site can load slowly, I’ve noticed. I sent you my other email, try that!

    I didn’t get to Jeff in my interview because we covered so little of my art and development, speaking mostly about my art historical and philosophical side. Jeff Hoke is the creator of one of the most fabulous books in existennce, an imaginary Museum Of Lost Wonder, which is reviewed here on BaS:
    and Hoke’s great website is here:

    He and I have been collaborators in the past — on dioramas at the Field Museum, but also as an artworld critical art team, Staff and Eddie. Long ago!

    You are right, not “dinosaurish” Dee — a re-evaluation — or perhaps simply an evaluation, which never occurred, is needed. That is not old or new, simply mindful, not mindless, and critical thought in the real sense.

  45. One point I may not have made clear, Tom. I don’t really think all artists need to actively be involved with philosophy — that’s my thing, and seemingly yours. (Mine are Comics, Sign painting and philosophy as well as installation and painting). As I tried to say, I think the process of agonistically interacting with your own influences, your own thoughts and perceptions, your own “story” (as Tony F so wonderfully calls it), is the important activity.

    Philosophy is important, because as Jay Rosenberg wrote, in fact everyone does it at least to an extent, and thus one should make an inquiry into the grounds of our thought — which is often more implicit than explicit. It affects us more than we realize, often becoming the taken-for-granted situation (as the Danto-Dickey institution theory of art has become), and/or is the enforced belief structure (as I replied to Duncan about his self-professed Derrida-clutching art school days).
    , Yet, simply, I meant, IF it is your interest — do it. Do it for yourself; don’t memorize or apply what others in positions of (temporary) power insist you must do or use. Go find your own theorists who inspire you. Think about what is offered, but be prepared to be, perhaps, only in partial agreement or in active disagreement, not only full agreement as seems to be demanded often now. New ideas can be real eye-openers, but also flavors of the week potentially too. As you so nicely exclaimed at the end of your post.

    I like the analogy of the icon — a direction wherein Conceptual Art really worked. As an aside, I LIKE much Conceptual Art. It was a great influence on me. I do take issue with the enforced academy of Neo-Conceptualism. To make an analogy, it is kind of like making a boring, superficial version of Zen into the enforced State religion. It is not only wrong, it goes against the whole spirit of the original — thus adding hypocrisy and boredom to the mix (taking us back to Jesus’ primary target of criticism in the religion of his day — taking the letter for the spirit, and making a boring, officious display of it all).
    Thanks for the dialogue. I’m probably going to cite your icon analogy in the future!

  46. Going back to the issue of “Yellow Pages Art,” I think it was Vito Acconci who said that as an artist most of what he did was sit at a desk with a phone and the yellow pages.

  47. I didn’t know he said that so clearly! I like much of Acconci’s work (not all). I helped build one for the MCA, actually, years ago.

    The idea of involving “everyday,” or industrial, or what-have-you, materials and products and so on I found exhilarating at first — a way to get the mundane world into art in a new way, a conceptual expansion of Rauschenberg. But it has become a crutch far to often, is what Mark Francis means and I agree.

    I like your piece “Murder,” Joseph, particularly.

  48. great lecture by Mark.

  49. “Do it for yourself; don’t memorize or apply what others in positions of (temporary) power insist you must do or use.” There is a rule for you Duncan.

  50. I love people like Mark who have to rewrite the history of a region when others try to hide it…hiding the facts is moral corruption…

  51. Thanks Pedro.

    I did kind of stampede some of Duncan’s questions, talking too much, but I felt that important questions were opening, even as I feel he himself is resisting his almost inadvertantly growing awareness of a larger set of truths than he learned in school, mostly due to what he learns and shows us in his podcasts. (I have learned a lot at BaS.)

    I wish we had gone into particulars of my art, as concrete example, rather than continuously circling back to him wanting a list of rules (so to speak rules for what is to be obeyed or attacked), when my point was the avoidance of rules. When he kept battling my thoughts on the PoMo academy thereby, I felt like when I talk to that one kid in class who wants hard and fast things to memorize, when I am saying “put the answers in your own words, give me your own thoughts” and they keep saying “but what are my thoughts, just tell me what I should memorize as my thoughts and I’ll write that on the test.” Sorry Duncan. Other than that, I enjoyed the discussion immensely. And our discussion before taping was even better. More open and wide-ranging. In all, I had great fun talking to Duncan.

    I’m usually, in most regions I inhabit, just trying to think clearly about what really happened, and even more so, why others have tried to hide aspects of what happened. It is kind of like being a detective and historian in one. Which is what many artists do, actually, in their work, come to think of it, as I muse on it at this moment.

    Hiding the facts is indeed moral corruption, and of more consequence than the actual facts themselves.

  52. mine hald eze scho hehe xD. er isch würkli en mega coole Lehrer. immer was zum lache.

  53. Hoi Nicist!
    Danke viel mal für dein Komment. Und in “Schwiizerdüütsch”! Wir sehen uns in Kunstgeschichte!

    Hey Jennifer!

    Thanks for the great comments on my interview. Du hast es gut gemacht, gell! And thanks a ton for listening — it was all pretty particular to the artworld. By the way, YOU were one of the GREAT kids!

    You made wonderful connections between Mannerist Sophistry in the artworld and in the banking world. I had never thought about that. Pretty amazing.

    Ich hoffe wir sehen uns bientôt in le Suisse Romand!

  54. love this interview…I have also been thinking a lot about the current phenomenom of the “outsider artist” in the USA (you labeled it as “neo mannerist” sometimes I think of it as “neo-folk art”) and it’s evolution out of the death of painting…..

    I think this Neo-outsider young painters movement comes from questioning the academy, the ubiquity of theory based art, and digital media and the move away from the handmade. Artist began to paint as an act of rebellion, but of course there were also artists who just simply found a language in painting without regard to what was happening in the academies, or perhaps it comes out of extreme slackerness. So now in 2008 the results are a lot of crap painting and lack of connaisseurship (sorry for the bad spelling) Generally speaking, It seems that in the USA artists tend to me more sentimental and embrace the primitive places their work evolves from, the strong physical components, and weird mix of very personal and historical information and reject theory. so many young artists refence Darger or outsider artists, all this narcisissm is getting very annoying, every idiot collagist is a savant. Thank goodness the Economic Crisis will probably put us out of this misery.

  55. James Elkins Says:

    Excellent talk with Duncan. (He is great, isn’t he?) I especially like all talk about unconventionality, and any serious attempt to use Bloom.

    After “Art and Globalization” (the 2007 event; the book is almost ready for editing) I have become somewhat pessimistic about the possibility of getting outside the box… no one at that event, from Jameson and Buck-Morss to the many interesting Fellows, had ideas along those lines that weren’t political.

    I only wish Duncan had asked you how your position differs from Dave Hickey’s: he also rails against sycophantic behavior and conventional art educations, but in his case, the answer seems to be something like sensually engaged and emotionally honest work….

    I am just back from Zürich; I gave a lecture at the Taktilität series (Stefan Neuner) at the art history institute, and then a whole day of seminars with an interdisciplinary art-science group. It looks like my annual visit to EIkones in Basel will be bumped up to May, so perhaps I’ll see you then.

  56. Hi Jim, thanks for taking the time to listen and comment, while you are busy at the guest prof bit. I wish I had had time to come to your seminars — at least you got to meet my very interesting new PhD advisor, Philip Ursprung.

    The Dave Hickey question is a good one. Duncan and I actually covered much broader discussion in dinner before the interview, but not Hickey or this question.

    You yourself have also expressed similar reservations about the current artworld and/or art instruction (although you are far more diplomatic than I am). Likewise Peter Schejldahl, Donald Kuspit, and many more way back to Suzi Gablik have done likewise.

    Hickey is, of course, well-known for his contentions against academicism and in favor of the “effects of rough-and-tumble free markets on art,” as has been written. Through his writing, Hickey has gained a significant international reputation beyond mine. I have also often enjoyed his rather curmudgeon-like yet substantial attacks. Nevertheless, if I may be so bold as to take issue with my “betters,” there is a wide gap between us. In short, he and several others of his direction are (at least in my eyes) rather reactionary, which is not always wrong, let me add, but not what I want. That is, they are looking back to some point in the past which was purportedly better and seeking a return to it. So did the Renaissance artists and scholars, the early Baroque, and others. I just plain don’t think that way. I am trying to envision where to go NEXT. I have never been interested in that wholesale quasi-Oedipal rejection of the near past for an earlier “better” time — seems rather Reagan-like to me. Rather more like a Jazz musician, or most philosophers, I am trying to “advance” by subsuming precursors in a more comprehensive idea, one which must, however, begin with analysis and criticism.

    Sometimes I feel Like Hosea to Wesley’s Amos. Perhaps I, then, analogous to Hosea, see art as a lover, and express pain that the artworld has now a broken, prostituted relationship with it. ANd I want to start again, build a new loving relationship. Wesley speaks bluntly, like Amos, treating the silly presumptions of the artworld with scorn, concentrating on injustice.

    But back to Hickey (and others). The main thing is that no matter how wonderful many of their sharp criticisms are, many have frequently terrible taste, proposing solutions to a problem which are already symptoms, and poisonous ones, of the problem. Like proposing bleeding for weakness, as in the Middle Ages.

    As an illustration: I felt especially so with Gablik. She writes that wonderful book, Has Modernism Failed?, then follows it up with some of the most god-awful proposals for what she sees as “good art” in her lectures afterwards. Likewise, I Hickey’s commitment to “emotionality and sensuality” is unclear, flabby, and simply NOT in much of the work he then champions anyway! (E.g. Stephen Prina, John Currin, etc.)

    I do rather like his complaints about art education though, too. And he said this great phrase:
    “We’ve gone through 40 years of art becoming more vulgar. … You’ve got to recognize the end of things when they end. So I ask you: Can you get more vulgar than Richard Prince?”

    Also, Hickey’s rampant neo-liberal (as we say in Europe, so “Reaganite” in USA terms) almost mystical belief in a so-called free-market (unregulated Capitalism) surely does not need to be even discussed now, as the cause of our current collapse, nose-diving into a Depression (hopefully soon halted).

    I am not all THAT pessimistic. Although the offerings I see are also rather limited, as you suggest concerning even such wonderful thinkers like Jameson. The political facet is indeed important, but there are many other factors.

    I need to go into what I see as some solutions, but that would be a whole other interview. Here, we concentrated on the analysis of the problem itself, which I believe Duncan also clearly sees, he has a good analytical eye, but one he “sorta” wants to resist, due to his tainted education. Like a Flat Earth believer confronted with photos of the spherical Earth. He is, however, a wonderful person to talk to and argue with. He is sincere.

    Maybe you, Jim, I and Hickey, Kuspit, some Consensus Believers (practically any “international” curators would work) and some others could fight this out in public sometime!

    Thanks for the comment and question again!

  57. In regard to deskilling: A syntagmatic train wreck, Documenta may be the 21st century’s first major example of deskilled curating.

    Originally deskilling was used to describe a complex dialectical process by which virtuoso artistic technique was displaced or suppressed in order to bring attention to art’s conceptual underpinnings. Artists as disparate as Karen Kilimnik and Robert Morris have been characterized in terms of deskilling, while the ongoing fascination with Duchamp buffs its sheen. But where deskilling once referred to an analysis of artistic production that articulated strong critiques of authorship and of the commodity status of art, the term has morphed into academic shorthand for perfunctory or outsourced execution.

    In 1981 the Conceptual artist Ian Burn used the word deskilling to describe the way in which vanguard artists of the early 1960s divested themselves of the obligations of physical production and invested more in conception and presentation. A move away from traditional craft allowed artists to take up a number of critical positions with respect to the production of unique objects, to isolated studio work, and to the gallery and distribution systems. But once these deskilling strategies became established, and especially once they began to be taught in art schools, their critical force seemed actually to be in concert with a system capable of both absorbing and commercializing conceptual art. More poignantly, as Burn saw it, deskilled art as a genre didn’t just devalue traditional skills; it devalued disciplined training itself. What had been a democratizing impulse was inadvertently turned into a dumbing down, for, as Burn pointed out, “skills are not merely manual dexterity but forms of knowledge. The acquisition of particular skills implies an access to a body of accumulated knowledge. Thus deskilling means a rupture within a historical body of knowledge—in other words, a dehistoricization of the practice of art.”

  58. I agree about feeble painting. Living in the UK, I read L Cummin in the Observer who said about Tuymans paintings “Pale, tentative, vague, it can look as though the hand that painted these pictures was too weak to peel a grape.”

  59. As an art historian of recent art, I would like to present the complete facts. The dominant phase of Conceptual Art was over by the mid-to-late-1970s, but there was a substantial ‘rebirth’ of a new version of it in the late-1980s (for example in the work of some of the exponents of Neo-Geo/Appropriationism). The term ‘Neo-Conceptual’ is applied to this movement, which sees itself as a revival or even continuation, but is in fact a newly institutionalised form resulting from many of the Conceptualists becoming tenured art professors and using their new-found positions to replicate themselves.

  60. I I really like Judith’s comments about feeble painting/shitty drawing as “deskilled”. Some subject matter or visual images may be presented in an amateurish, or child-like way. (lots of gallery comics or sequential art has reduced detail, inherent with comic medium) But if the artwork, or object is presented in a deskilled or sub par method of production, the artist’s idea takes a backseat to the overpowering “message” that the artist has no skill or training.

  61. Although I am fairly current on the Arts and Design section of the Times, and skim through Art News, Artforum, and Juxtapose each month, I constantly feel that something is lacking in the “Art World.” I was just exposed to the Bad at Sports blog and radio show (on Monday), and your interview (along with the current posting) is the furthest I have explored on the site. Therefore, I hope that any faulty comments that I make are semi-excusable due to my ignorance.

    First, it was nice to have similar sentiments to my own so eloquently expressed! Honestly, I agree with almost every point you make about the state of art in contemporary society. The comparison to Mannerism is a wonderful analogy, and the fine arts are most certainly in a state of decline from the peak of mid-century high modernism. I also found your view on conceptual art as a Puritanical derivative to be (I wish I had a better term) mind-blowing. And your call to push through to a new style or genre is absolutely necessary.

    I have often thought about why we are in an artistic lull, and I personally attribute it to being burdened by a modernist sensibility. In this, I don’t mean that Modern Art or art history is a burden, but the emphasis we place on it, is. For example, I recently wrote a thesis on Dan Flavin and the question of an association to a readymade came up. I argued that his fluorescent light was not a readymade for several reasons (that the functionality was not negated, that the lights were not questioning aesthetics, and (most importantly) artist’s intention). I was told that I was wrong. After several discussions with my professor– who claimed that Impressionist paintings were assisted readymades due to the fact that they bought their paint– I came to the (forced) realization that everything in modern art was going to have a readymade quality. Now, I am not arguing that my professor was wrong in his views, but that just because DuChamp established this point, doesn’t mean that it should being applied to all art. And I have often thought that the idea of “art is defined within the context of the museum” is trite. In general, there seems to be a reliance on these standards that were previously set and an inability or fear to reject them.

    I also thought about your rejection of a linear model to art history, and proposition of a “braid.” I believe that the point you are trying to make is that elements/styles/genres are not direct results of a previous movement, but are “woven” with influences from different sources. I agree, and thought of it as an analogy to knitting. Comprised of a single thread that has been twisted and turned, each stitch is attached to a previous source, foundationally supported, yet existing on its own and providing an opportunity to serve as a support for the future. In the end, there is not a line, or even a braid, but a fabric. I hope this makes sense and is useful in some way!

    Finally, I agree with the idea of fine art deriving from comics or graphic novels… I like how it reflects on “contemporary” culture and is something that was previously considered low-art to be appropriated to the status of Fine. But, one concept that I had not heard in either interview, was the revival of a narrative (as different from a sequential instillation). Do you think that narrative has any part within this style, in terms of what you are trying to accomplish?

  62. I enjoyed the interview even if, like your dissertation, it sent me to the dictionary like every other sentence. 😉

    I’m not convinced with the argument that painting is THE way towards change, if I dare put it that way, and also the linking of painting with technical skills, and the importance of them. I tend to think that if you really have something to say, you end up finding the means to say it best, for me the issue is having something to say and what. How do you judge that? I admit that I haven’t gotten around to too many exhibitions lately, but when I do I tend to end up confused with my own emotions. PoMo when good is interesting but rarely seems produces objects that would be interesting to collect (meaning objects that speak for themselves, that you would want to remember because of what they are and not because it can be gratifying to speak about them socially; like telling a joke). I’m not saying that those object are just a joke (I know, some of them are meant to be…). The fact is that I can understand why people buy pomo objects and I often do like them, but I also feel their limitations and ultimately would want more from an art object. I also understand how our own projections define the interest, or not, that we can have for any artwork, and how relatively easy it is to manipulate those projections (probably every good salesman knows that), and how difficult it is to see things with a “neutral” eye. So it seems like it would take a whole dissertation to go around those issues and not just a paragraph that can be easily misunderstood… 😉

    But 99% of the “Traditional art” I see is using neo-everything and to me ends up being almost worse because it’s like history stopped but the artists didn’t notice. I end up in a yes/no situation that I have yet to sort out and then end up thinking that my own work has the same issues and limitations…

    I’ve been hoping that all the writing about myself I have had to do for an interview would help clear up my brain for that type of thing, but I end up feeling stressed with written statements because so many seem to stick on to you like a tattoo and are so hard to remove when you get past them. A feeble excuse for not blogging about art as I perhaps could be… It’s also true that my “career” as an artist is is a struggle and I do feel that sticking my nose out will probably just make it worse. A thought that I truly hate and of course a good reason to fight…

  63. Great points y’all!

    Steve H, I especially like your differentiation between “elimination of unnecessary details” and — as you term it so well — “sub par method of production.” My point is summed up well by Judith quoting Conceptual artist Burn, “inadvertently turned into a dumbing down, … deskilling means a rupture within a historical body of knowledge—in other words, a dehistoricization of the practice of art.”

    JDS — great thoughts too! Thanks! I think your professor is making a logical error. Among other things, he is being anachronistic — shoving a concept backwards in time in an inappropriate, i.e. useless, fashion. Your discussion of the “braid” of art history is wonderful and I intend to steal it (I’ll cite you!). Some threads are indeed direct results, others not. Some are new threads, some start and stop and so on. But there IS a flow, hence the inappropriate anachronism of your prof. It brings no new light to the subject.

  64. This discussion is so satisfying!

  65. And thanks to Stve Litsios too. We have had a few shows together, yet do very different work and I always appreciate his unique insight into things. I’m glad you posted, SL, because it allows me to clarify some things that I may have missed or overstated (not like I am aggressive or exaggerate or anything —).

    I do NOT really think that painting is the ONLY way. I am just pointing out that it is one of the BEST ways, no matter what the know-nothing pundits espouse. I do believe almost any form is actually okay, used in a metaphor(m)al fashion, not as an end in itself (Formalism) nor as an illustration of received notions (Neo-Conceptualism).

    BUT — BUT would like to repeat an important insight which two jazz musicians made to me (Douglas Ewart and Davyd Johnson), back when I was highly conceptualist. They pointed out that ones means of production are indeed themselves an important aspect of the art, are a metaphor in and of themselves and in combination with the end product. And as I discussed with Duncan, if you use standard corporate procedure of “masters” commanding impersonally, unimportantly involved “slaves” to do your work, then your work is at the very least colored by that, if not an enforcement of it. I am very much a supporter of installation, and a maker of it too. And I think painting is growing by absorbing such concepts. As you know, I am very non-traditionalist and would never espouse a form for itself, but rather for its functional, expressive and philosophical usefulness.

    Narrative is a good question, JDS. Something I have intellectually struggled with. I have difficulty with it — I prefer, e.g., epic tales or almost purely “painterly” descriptive things in poetry, super hero and detective stories in genre, and so on — things that are structurally rather iconic. I have been using “loops” a lot recently. I drive my wife nuts with films for example. We’ll see them, then when we talk about them I can’t remember the particulars of what happened, but I remember all the sequential structure in intense detail — what cuts they used and when, cinematic stuff and so on. Maybe I am naratively “challenged”, but most narratives bore me. I prefer song structure to story structure. I think that may be just a personally important thing, not of wider importance. In Exhibition-Sequential-Art, e.g., C Hill also works in my direction, Andre Molotiu is even MORE abstract, yet several others use “real” stories. Good question, though.

  66. Thanks Amy. I’m glad it got “on track” — to the ideas — not personal grudges or whatever — and the comments make me think hard about what I said. I am not absolutely certain of all my ideas. I know there is great pressure in the artworld to come “out of the gates” with a stock solution, usually in the “artists statement,” that horrid genre of writing. And I have changed often and regularly and suffered a bit in my career due to that. But art is a wonderful process and I delight in people challenging each other, and me, at a well-thought-out level.

  67. After this interview, I see why you like Goya so much, Mark. He was know for the “blunt honesty and pointed satire of much of his work, as well as his publicly stated challenge that there were “no rules in painting.”

  68. I may misunderstand, but to me, with the “deskilling” embraced in feeble painting/art, deskilling itself is the concept of the work, feebleness being illustrative of the absence and a supposed pointlessness of skill, virtuosity, traditional medium, etc., (perhaps that extends to a supposed pointlessness of disciplined training). This Deskilling is an illustrative tool — a symptom — not a driver.

    Which is different from separating the skill/rigor of production from conceptual skill/rigor; separating modes of production from conception of the work does not have to mean sub par production, and the separation enables artists to engage multiple media in which they may themselves not have the requisite skill/rigor or enough lifetimes to dedicate to acquiring that skill/rigor. Something is changed in the dialogue between the mind and the hand, since the mind and hand reside in different people and have to be translated, but this doesn’t have to result in feeble work.

  69. You are right Dee about those two not being the same — and I was not really combining those two.

    Feeble Painting and Neo-Conceptual work are related, both being derivative of Dada, but not identical. Let’s say it this way: Feeble Painting is painting that can be accepted by non-visual curators reared on bad video and Neo-Conceptual antics.

    I understand your assertion of the division in Neo-Conceptual art between planning and production; the idealism in which you paint it is indeed the standard explanation, and sometimes can be true. Nonetheless, I point you back to my critique in the interview and its reiteration above in comment 66: it does indeed completely mirror one of the most common, repressive and unhealthy aspects of our culture. And the lack of being forced to continuously “test” every aspect of your production in a Deweyian double loop of learning, which occurs when you are making the work yourself, even in collaboration, has been one of the great mistakes of teaching, leading artists far too often, usually in fact I would say, to quick one-offs with hardly any personal investment.

  70. Mark, I was responding to the Burn quote and to Judith’s comment that deskilling has become shorthand for outsourced execution … separating in my mind what can get conflated when “deskilling” comes up.

    We get it already that artists don’t necessarily have to make the work; to the extent that perfunctory outsourcing was ever a critical dialectal process, the point has long been made. That’s probably also true for displacing or suppressing virtuoso artistic technique to bring attention to art’s conceptual underpinnings, to critique authorship, etc..

    I believe there is value in what you call the double loop of learning. I find I need to use my hands in my own work. I also think that in a collaboration or even in outsourced execution of art objects, the translation/dialogue that occurs in the outsourcing/division has to involve some adequate substitution for the “loop of learning” that occurs internally to an artist who both conceives and makes an art object/artwork him or herself. The artist and viewer have to value aesthetic quality of the art objects/art presentation for either the “loop of learning’ or the substituted dialogue to matter. What you call the corporate procedure of “masters” commanding impersonally, unimportantly involved “slaves” to do their work comes out seeing the making of the art objects and their aesthetic appearance as perfunctory and not relevant.

  71. You are right Dee — and to tell you the truth I found that approach (when I discovered it in the 70s) very exciting. I thought it would be a way to bring other, “outside” abilities into art production. But it certainly didn’t work out that way, did it, as you point out.

  72. And it is indeed very important to separate two types of problems, although they are politically supported by the same people. Deskilling in the sense of purposefully doing something poorly, while still doing it, and outsourcing, that is, not doing it at all as part of your statement.

  73. I found some of the comments about the Masters show coming from a group of people who have just curated their own sequential art show makes you sound somehow slighted, and taking it into your own hands to create something a bit more specialized makes Masters as well as you’re endeavor more relevant. It’s working to create discussions and exposure to the many different sides of the “comics as art” dice and it’s important that as part of “the choir” (and believe me I am part of this choir too) not to think that this masters show is the “be all end all” roster of comics artists, or that they are purposely leaving out certain people. In the forward of the first page of the MOAC catalog it states that “narrowing the selection from the wide range of artists was a challenging process” and that they “Hope that this exhibition will open the doors for future museum presentations that reflect the diversity of the medium”. Hell, the title specifies that it is just “American” comics. I had my own criticisms of the show, as did others (see Why Have There Been No Great Women Comic Book Artists?) But couldn’t help feeling astounded by the Original McCay’s, Segar’s, Gould’s, Panter’s, etc. all in one place and I felt really lucky to see the actual size of the panels and where the white-out was, and all the human aspects of the work that are really removed from the printing process, and it was in a MUSEUM! How strange! Some of the comments in the show, though somewhat flippant, make me think your group thinks otherwise, and I applaud your efforts to present in your own way what you think is going on here.

    As there were around 1000 drawings in the show and that the drawings are only 1/2 of the equation of what makes comics great, you gotta understand how hard it would be to fit in entire stories, many of the stories in their entirety were presented for people to sit and read in books, and purchase a copy to take home in the gift shop. There has always been a problem presenting art in sequence in museums, take the tapestries show that’s up at the Art Institute right now. Many of the Hangings are just one piece from a larger narrative series, one of which is presented in it’s entirety which is just massive. I think the ICA in Philly did a fine job of this for the recent Crumb show, most of the stories were presented in their entirety but with a solo show I think that the space is going to be more affordable, but unfortunately the space is usually offered to the “Masters” first and not that Crumb is undeserving, I feel like theres just room for more.

    Comics, for a really young medium in terms of art history and presentation by larger art institutions (and I know you know about your art history based on the discussions within this podcast) I think presenting these “out of sequence” artists expands the critical view of comics contemporary or in history. I don’t feel like the view of comics presented in the show was “narrow” of course presenting comics into a gallery space is a difficult task, and am wondering how you have addressed this in your own show. That and the idea of comics made specifically for gallery walls I think there’s a couple bugs, that can be worked out (See Jim Woodring’s “World’s Largest Minicomic” complete with neon spinning illusion device that I feel was comparable to a Flavin or Turrell that was in the Raw, Boiled, and Cooked show.) or take the Comic Abstraction show which I felt was an attempt to shoehorn comics onto the Contemporary art scene, further confusing those unfamiliar with the medium. I love Herrera’s stuff as well as Mehretu but just diddnt see the necessary connection that this show was based on, some how trying to do comics a favor. Thanks. But, no Thanks.

    Well anyway, I think the show sounds great and will try to get there to check it out. I love Dale Messick and Had Illustration class with Melody Shickley in College and think she is great!



  74. Thanks for the great comments Joe, but I think you meant to post this over on Episode 172 — Jennings and Duffy (where I interviewed them about the show you are discussing). So I reposted it over there for you.

  75. oops, yes totally. I must’ve navigated here before posting by accident.

    Thank you, Thank you.


  76. Mark, you are right about the interconnection between ontology and metaphysics. Not only that neo-conceptualists have made a metaphysics out of a debased illustration of ontology, but the two are historically related as well. (Via Wiki …) “A central branch of metaphysics is ontology, the investigation into what types of things there are in the world. Students of Aristotle first used the word ‘metaphysica’ (literally “after the physical”) to refer to what their teacher described as “the science of being qua being” – later known as ontology.”

  77. It is the enforcement of any style that is the problem. Right now it is neo-conceptualism. It could be another. Especially it is a problem when it is hypocritically presented as free development, which is the case in neo-conceptualism.

  78. One thing more. We must be careful about accidentally encouraging self-proud philistines, but Jed Perl, whose taste I abhor, yet whose analyses are profound, wrote “you cannot possibly understand what a safe haven for frauds and con artists the art world has become.” Likewise in Carlos Basualdo’s essay “The Unstable Institution”, he berates the art press for their “enormous disparity and lack of analytical rigor” in their published reactions to international art exhibitions, Biennales and so on. Both are correct, and yet come from opposite ends of the spectrum. I think Mark does an admirable job of sharing their analytical aggression, while promoting a forward-looking view. He is not encouraging philistines, yet is being critical.

  79. Thanks Anna. I am definitely not just trying to “encourge philistines” as you said it, something I think Perl and Kramer and some others do too often. But I am encouraging analysis and dissent.

    And Amy, thanks for your comments. It just struck me that although we did use “trope” (although I use it in its lingusitic sense as “figurative” image or word, not in teh artworld sense of repeating theme), and although I do think we said “notion,” we never once used that trendy artworld habit of using “reference” as a verb, —using the correct form “to refer to.” So we get some browny points.

  80. Hey Mark…Schönes Interview!
    Draus’ vom Walde komm ich her, lasset euch sagen, es weihnachtet sehr… viel zu sehr wenn man mich fragt. Bin voll im Stress- Ich hoffe du bist es nicht, und wünsche dir Fröhliche Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch ins 2009, heureka!

  81. “Philosophy matters. It matters more than most people realize, because philosophical ideas that have developed over the centuries enter our culture in the form of a world view and affect us in thousands of ways. Philosophy matters in the academic world because the conceptual frameworks upon which entire academic disciplines rest usually have roots in philosophy — roots so deep and invisible that they are usually not even noticed.”
    — George Lakoff (From Women, Fire and Dangerous Things)

  82. What can be done to get art onto a better track? As John Haber has said, “Heck, anyone who keeps going deserves some credit.”

    I liked the comments you yourself wrote on the Swiss Art Sharkforum about this after your big controversial article there made so many waves, Mark. Im quoting you.

    “Beyond complaint, though — what will be the NEXT steps for Sharks and their allies and kin? In short:

    What can we do to improve the situation?

    First of all, make extremely high quality art. Particularly with well-honed technical abilities. If you DO NOT now have these skills, this is NO surprise as they are seldom taught in art schools any more. But GET them. That ability can not be denied nor taken away from us and will outlive many an overblown curator justification.

    Second, openly criticize the situation. Step on toes. Stop kissing butt.

    Third, offer and create constructive alternatives, even perhaps to the point of creating your own artworlds, venues and so on. Attempt to add a positive answer to every correct criticism you level.

    Fourth, encourage others who do the same. Help build critics and curators and especially other artists who pay attention to what is around them, who have independent minds, who are more than simply careerist toadies. Even support your “enemies” (to an extent) if they finally seem to see the light. Just don’t trust them behind your back.

    Fifth, network in a POSITIVE sense, even internationally. And that’s what we are doing now.

    Sixth, leave doors open. Tell the truth, be upset about hypocrisy, but be willing to “let it go” if they improve, if the purveyors of pedantry and their groupies gain consciousness or make overtures toward reparation.”

  83. cognitive researcher Says:

    In recent years, there has been an acceleration of research within many fields concerned with the body’s relationship to the ‘mental’ understanding, cognition. A new understanding is developing through the interaction of the fields of philosophy, philosophical anthropology, and others. Here Brandl’s work in aesthetics or so-called theory and art history could be especially important. The newest thought thoroughly challenges Cartesian dualism and the denial and objectification of the body, which is the clear (yet unacknowledged) basis of Neo-Conceptual ‘puritanism’ as Brandl calls it. Additionally, neurophysiologic research and cognitive metaphor theory, (as well as dynamic system theory), presents a change that confronts such dominant yet unproductive theories of mind over body. This is fresh ground for assaulting the tired corporate, hierarchical metaphors operative in Neo-Conceptual art, while reinvigorating theoretical possibilities for the body in painting, in positive application, not just feebleness or the abject.

  84. Thanks “cog” — who are you? You must be working directly in the area of my research.

    And thanks Goran. I should have remembered my own list of “what to do” when Duncan and I were talking.

  85. Finally made it thru the Prelude. Love where your going. Very inspiring. I’ve a longer reply, but my email stopped sending to you again. My ISP is putting in a new email system, maybe that will fix it. I’ll get it to you somehow, even if I have to mail it!
    JE Hoke

  86. Postmodernism has to be seen as being part of a series of Mannerisms recurring in the history of art. Postmodernism and Mannerism are engaged in the same discourse of doubt, fixed style-as-genre, sharing the same stylistic concepts. Umberto Eco wrote, „in fact, I wonder if Postmodern is not simply the modern name for Manierismus….“ Brandl is correct.

  87. So jetzt hab ich endlich mal Zeit gefunden, Mark zu zuhören. Prima! „Wir“ sollen nicht vom gleichzeitigen Versuch verwirrt, die Kunstwelt in das gegenwärtige (politisch-ökonomische) Weltsystem zu integrieren und gleichzeitig auf einem „Wir“ des Kunstfelds selbst zu beharren. Wer ist genau dieses „Wir“? Wenn die Kunstwelt als ein Teil einer generellen Institutionalisierung sozialer Subjekte (die ihrerseits die Institution internalisieren) wahrgenommen wird, was und wo sind dann die Künstler und Künstlerinnen?

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