Episode 263: Kehinde Wiley

September 12, 2010 · Print This Article

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263-Kehinde Wiley
This week: Duncan, Richard and guest co-host Dr. Amy Mooney, Associate Professor of Art History at Columbia College, talk with superstar artist Kehinde Wiley about his work and his exhibition “The World Stage: India-Sri Lanka” which just opened at the Rhona Hoffman Gallery (through October 23, 2010).

The following seemingly outdated bio was lifted from the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Kehinde Wiley was born in Los Angeles in 1977. He received his BFA in 1999 from the San Francisco Art Institute and graduated from Yale University School of Art two years later. Wiley is viewed as the modern-day heir to a long line of portraitists –Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Tiepolo– from whom he appropriates the symbols and visual language of heroism, power, and opulence in his realistic renderings of urban black men. While referencing specific old master paintings and fusing period elements– French Rococo ornamentation, Islamic architecture, West African textile design– into his portraits, the final works convey a very urban, contemporary aesthetic because of the subjects portrayed and their hip-hop influenced attire. Wiley succeeds in his intent to blur the boundaries between traditional and present-day modes of representation, as he says to “quote historical sources and position young black men within that field of power.”

Lets Run For Mayor of Chicago! and Other Links

September 10, 2010 · Print This Article

Artist Tony Fitzpatrick Runs for Mayor of Chicago
Read his facebook postings to follow the story but with Daley stepping down after 21 years the race begins and Tony Fitzpatrick has some fun points to be made. read more when someone makes a website for him?

British Artists Protest 25% Cut in Arts Spending
In hopes of bridging the substantial budget deficit Brittan faces the coalition government is proposing a max 25% cut in Arts spending. Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and David Hockney, counter that “radical cuts to current levels of arts funding will decimate what has been one of the U.K.’s chief success stories over the past 20 years, and will bring an end to the U.K.’s reign as a global capital for culture.” read more here

Ansel Adams Story Continues, With a Showdown
A new gallery showing is opening now with 20 prints — hand-developed and signed by Adams himself and guaranteed to be authentic by the Duncan Miller Gallery in West Los Angeles, which is putting on the show, shown side by side with prints from the embattled garage-sale find of Rick Norsigian, the Fresno resident who believes he has find of 65 negatives shot by Adams next to the more famous “Uncle Earl” Brooks, the previously unknown photographer they contend is the man who actually shot the pictures in the Norsigian find. If your a fan of Adams this would be a one day chance to make the decision for yourself. read more here

Interesting Tale of Dan Colen’s Career From Gagosian Gallery Bathroom to Solo Show
Read more here

Ireland Sparks  Controversy Over Venice Biennale Choices
Emily-Jane Kirwan, a director at the Pace Gallery in New York, has been chosen as a commissioner for the Irish Pavilion in 2011, while Corban Walker, who belongs to the same Manhattan gallery, is Ireland’s official artist in Italy next year. The fight begins in 3….2…..1….. Read more here

Charles Saatchi’s Gift of His Gallery & Many of His Works to British Government an Offer too Good to Refuse or Trouble in the Making?
Charles Saatchi announced in July that he was in talks with the government to create a Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) for London. Turning over his Saatchi Gallery and 200 works of art worth a reported £25m to the British public. The offer which has been reported as a suprise to the goverment is now raising concerns about financial stability. Read more here

Danish art pranksters mock Spain’s royal family
The provocative Danish artist group Surrend have placed posters around Barcelona that mock Spain’s censorship laws as applied to the Spanish royal family. The posters depict several drawings that have been made unrecognisable by being painted over. A slogan at the top of each poster says: “Things we are not allowed to draw”. Next to each obliterated image is a sentence such as “The Royal Family having a lunch nap” and “The Royal Family having sex”. Read more here

Chicago Typefaces, Unlike Anywhere Else
The NPR picture show name dropped a blog that showcases the comercial typefaces that pepper Chicago, both new and old, and give the city some of it’s unique character. I am a bit biased but having visited/worked/lived many other places I can agree that when it comes to Architecture & public graphics Chicago is on a level of it’s own especially in the States. read more here

Episode 262: Jancar Jones

September 5, 2010 · Print This Article

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Episode 262 Jancar Jones
This week: Brian sits down with Ava Jancar and Eric Jones of Jancar Jones galley in San Francisco. They discuss their peculiar gallery space, what it is like to be a young art dealer after the financial meltdown, and the future of the contemporary art scene. Enjoy!

In Art “Anything is Possible” But Not Always A Good Move

September 3, 2010 · Print This Article

Review of the Art documentary “William Kentridge: Anything is Possible”

Anything-is-possible-1I love Art documentaries, I have watched almost every one that I could get my hands on over the years much to the displeasure of my wallet (they are always more expensive then the average film) and anyone I share a Netflix account with (watch enough art films and Netflix will make all sorts of assumptions about you in it’s recommended films algorithm).

Art docs have always been for me a great way to survey the work, personality, and tone of any artist. Its rare that the average person can get one on one time with an Artist of interest and when you do it’s more often after they have talked to 40 people before you and are 8 cups deep into the free beer or wine the gallery/school/institution/art fair put out. So in effect you get less then stellar conversations (not always mind you, the exceptions are often amazing) or and this is the truth for anyone artist, politician, scientist, what have you; that its hard to always be “on” and be able to talk extemporaneously and with give and take about your work. Art professors the world over try to beat the need for this skill into their students but the dirty secret is the professors often times are no better and have been no better for 20+ years. Fact is it’s a hard skill to learn for anyone and Art docs help with the magic of editing to give you the best moments of conversation possible.

Thats why its so saddening when you often times see artists speak vaugly, paradoxically, or with a straight faced serious non sequitur, much as the case with Art:21’s first feature length, solo artist film outside of the biennial Art in the Twenty-First Century series. Art:21’s “William Kentridge: Anything is Possible” is a well directed film with good production values. “Anything is Possible” has everything I look for in a good Art doc except William Kentridge is the typical “say nothing by saying much” artist in the film and this is after the director/editor has worked to make it as structured, poignant & narratively focused as possible since it is in their best interest to do so.

It’s kind of painful to watch after a while since it is clear with how Kentridge’s monologues are woven into the tapestry of the film as intros or outros to scenes and quickly cut that the production team didn’t really know how to make use of statements like “making art was a way of arriving at knowledge that was not subject to cross examination” and treated his narration more like a soundtrack to pop a scene or set a tone, not to make a statement to be followed by the audience. Very little of what William Kentridge says in the film sheds light on his youth, early career, family, later career or deeper intent other then then the very basic themes of a piece or style.

Anything-is-possible-2Having said this his skill as a stop motion filmaker, animator & stylized puppeteer is very facinating. His highly graphic, russian constructivism style of working has great impact and the director of “Anything is Possible” made strong use of this fact. The film by and large is a visual symphony of the various components that Kentridge uses in his practice, introducing them one at a time and then at the last movement bringing them all together in one operatic scene with as much scope as possible. Where the end of the film centers around the Artists collaboration with the Metropolitan Opera in a performance of Shostakovitch’s 1928 work “The Nose”. Then you see the shadow puppets, the animated drawing, the mix of 3d & 2d interaction, the projections that swallow the entire stage making humans look like ants & the political pageantry that winds it’s way through much of Kentridge’s work. Then and saddly only then does the film start to pay off.

I love the series Art:21 and know how difficult it is to organize, finance and execute interviews, artists, performances & such but I walk away from this first long form solo film wishing they had picked someone else to showcase and the feeling it was actually a behind the scenes for a yet to be released Met Opera DVD. Kentridge’s work and in many ways the man himself is so esoteric that few will be able to really sink their teeth into this or even care to try? I am not saying make the first film on anything as extreme as the out of favor Chapman brothers or zeitgeist Shepard Fairey but something more accessible and of interest to the twenty first century might be apropos.

The first line of the film is “My job is to make drawings not sense” which I realize he says to elicit a response from the audience of 60-70 year olds that are in attendance (watch the film and like Where’s Waldo find someone born after Tang was invented) but it is sadly true of his general take on this opportunity to speak to a larger audience, an occasion that he drops and never picks up. You see when I said earlier that the average person rarely gets a one on one with an Artist they are interested in it is doubly so for an artist to get the opportunity to broadly speak to a captive audience in such a way as this and when you do: teach us, illuminate us, speak to us, move us for sadly in life you get one or two chances at most and we move on to someone who will.

The broadcast premiere of “William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible” takes place this October 21 at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). Susan Sollins, Art:21’s Executive Director & director of this documentary made a good film out of a poor subject choice, hopefully next time a more fitting and engaging person will be showcased.

Episode 261: Jitish Kallat

August 29, 2010 · Print This Article

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This Week: Our sixth season kicks off with a great interview with artist Jitish Kallat. We talk about his work, his installation at the Art Institute, and what it is like to live and work in an art scene in a city with 14 million people. If that weren’t enough, curator Dr. Madhuvanti Ghose chimes in as well!

The following shameless lifted from the AIC web site:

Public Notice 3

September 11, 2010–January 2, 2011

Grand Staircase

Overview: In the first major presentation in an American museum of Jitish Kallat’s work, the contemporary Indian artist has designed a site-specific installation that connects two key historical moments—the First World Parliament of Religions held on September 11, 1893, and the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on that very date, 108 years later. The resulting work, Public Notice 3, creates a trenchant commentary on the evolution, or devolution, of religious tolerance across the 20th and 21st centuries.

The basis for Kallat’s installation is a landmark speech delivered by Swami Vivekananda at the Parliament, which was held in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in what is now the museum’s Fullerton Hall. The Parliament was the earliest attempt to create a global dialogue of religious faiths, and Vivekananda, eloquently addressing its 7,000 attendees, argued for an end of fanaticism and a respectful recognition of all traditions of belief through universal tolerance.

With Public Notice 3, Kallat converts Vivekananda’s text to LED displays on each of the 118 risers of the historic Woman’s Board Grand Staircase of the Art Institute of Chicago, adjacent to the site of Vivekananda’s original address. Drawing attention to the great chasm between this speech of tolerance and the very different events of September 11, 2001, the text of the speech will be displayed in the colors of the United States’ Department of Homeland Security alert system. Opening on September 11, Public Notice 3 explores the possibility of revisiting the historical speech as a site of contemplation, symbolically refracting it with threat codes devised by a government to deal with this terror-infected era of religious factionalism and fanaticism.

Curator: Dr. Madhuvanti Ghose, Marilynn Alsdorf Curator of Indian and Islamic Art.