Saturday, June 21, 2008

Postcards From Nowhere/Power Station

I just read an article called Postcards From Nowhere on contemporary art and contemporary art museums that should thoroughly annoy Todd. If even the Lefties at New Republic are annoyed with contemporary art, that's really saying something about it. Takashi Murakami's work My Lonesome Cowboy, "a sculpture of a skinny naked boy with flying yellow hair, an erect penis, and an ejaculation so powerful that the thing becomes a twirling lasso, circling his head," is in my opinion a fine representation of what too many contemporary artists -- especially the ones the author is complaining about -- are actually doing when making their "art." Here's the problem: if anything can be art, then art is nothing, and it's time to shut down the museums and close the art schools.

And now, because I don't want this to be just a forum to complain about all the garbage that is out there, let me show an interesting piece called Power Station. The image seems to vibrate with the power of the power station and we see below the building an image that feels electric. It's simultaneously dreary and full of energy -- more ambiguous, perhaps, than the artist intended? Perhaps. But in doing so, the artist allows the viewer to interpret the work for him/her-self. The tyranny of expertise is avoided, meaning an expert on the piece would only contribute to helping make meaning from the work, but would never be the sole contributor of meaning to it.


Todd Camplin said...

What about Takashi Murakami's woman that is lactating so powerful that it flies around the room? If you watch any anime you would get the reference that Murakami is making. Murakami is reacting to his culture that has 1/3 of all printed material with cartoon characters and a cartoon industry that cranks out porn that can't show body hair - do to Japanese law. And he lives in a Japanese youth crazed culture. How can he not make fun of that! Given, not my favorite work of Murakami, but the artist really is one of the best Neo-Pop artists of Japan. I think most of his work is very fun, energetic, and highly graphic; I almost bought one of his works a long time ago. I could kick myself now for not doing so.

I enjoyed your contemporary comparison, thanks. You can feel that factory humming. Although the bottom right corner of the image is not very good. The streak of expressionistic paint is to sloppily applied to be an interesting contrast with the factory. That side degrades into a stylized abstract expressionist space that really weakens the painting’s strength (the strength being the sky and the factory). It is like there are two paintings here, fighting for space on one canvas.

Todd Camplin said...

I like in the article the quote: 'visual stunts.' Sometimes that is sooooo true. The author says that art should be representing 'a unique locale, a little universe;' but artists are thinking globally now so the change is reflected in the art. The author says that Murakami is all 'all shell, all facade, all empty assertion; but the same thing was said about Warhol and for me that turned out to be very untrue. The article was a hard hitting critique of the contemporary scene, but I have to disagree with a lot of what he said. I must get more out of these artists than he does, although I do see a need for change. I really feel that these artists are reflecting the culture. Maybe that is why Jed sees these artists as being so shallow. Jed Perl, keep plugging away. All art critics are needed to help shape what we see. I would like to know who Jed likes in the contemporary art world.

Troy Camplin said...

Oh, I get Murakami, certainly. It's not that I don't get him or these other artists. And it's not that on occasion they don't make something interesting. What is perhaps at issue is what you talk about in the second posting. Is art merely a response to the culture, or is it supposed to create the culture? I would think that to some degree it has to do both, but what is the emphasis? If a work of art is merely a response to the culture, then it really isn't dealing with anything that isn't already known. Art is supposed to exist on the edge of the known and the unknown, pushing into the future. I think what what article's author is getting an inkling of is precisely this lack of tension. Warhol did create that kind of tension in his work, in no small part because he was the first to really do what he was doing. How much longer before we start to consider much pop art to be in the same category as Thomas Kinkade's impressionism? That is, after all, what is left of impressionism, precisely because it's no longer creating the future. It might be a bit early to consider any of today's pop artists to be the Thomas Kinkade of pop art, but how far off is it, really?

I agree that the factory painting isn't all it could be, but at least there's something to talk about with it. One hopes the artist improves his style, yet continues to investigate it.