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 thoughts on “Episode 170: Mark Staff Brandl”

  1. 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.

  2. nicist says:

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

  3. 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!

  4. sandy says:

    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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. Judith R says:

    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.”

  8. Jenn says:

    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.”

  9. Ian C says:

    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.

  10. Steve Hamann says:

    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.

  11. JDS says:

    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?

  12. Steve Lisios says:

    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…

  13. 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.

  14. amytalluto says:

    This discussion is so satisfying!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Matthew says:

    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.”

  18. Dee says:

    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.

  19. 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.

  20. Dee says:

    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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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!



  24. 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.

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

    Thank you, Thank you.


  26. Jack says:

    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.”

  27. Anna Busch says:

    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.

  28. Anna Busch says:

    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.

  29. 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.

  30. Julia says:

    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!

  31. “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)

  32. Goran says:

    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.”

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. Eddie says:

    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

  36. Samuel says:

    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.

  37. Delia says:

    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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