The Guggenheim had an immense amount of different works and mediums within the Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World exhibition. And, overall, I thought the exhibition was amazing and extremely eye-opening. Amongst the variety of pieces, a collection of works that specifically stood out to me was “Today No Water” by Wu Shanzhuan. Shanzhuan used 437 different sheets of paper, all incorporating textual pop references within his work and used ink, graphite and colored pencils to create these stand-out pieces. These sheets are directly taken from Shanzhuan’s most famous work, “Red Humor.” Not only are they filled with misplaced textual references, but they also include drawings, notations, and collaged elements that are all supposed to portray a political message and language. This piece really resonated with me because of what artists in China considered his work to be, as stated, “Today No Water is known to artists across China as a touchstone for the role of art, however absurd, as a vehicle of social critique.” After reading this exact phrase about Shanzhuan’s work, I understood the subject matter more as a graphic novel, where each canvas is a chapter of a narrative and triggering a different topic. Although each sheet is scattered with ideas, references and symbols, there is a clear red line of how these compositions all align together and attempt to critique institutions of propaganda and bureaucracy. In addition to the subject matter and purpose of these sheets, I liked how the sheets were perfectly framed next to each other. The red color against the yellowish sheet really was beautiful and due to the fact that there were so many displayed on one wall, really made an impact when viewing the work.
Another work that additionally resonated with me was “Splendour of Heaven and Earth” by Liu Dan. First off, its massive size was absolutely breathtaking and the emphasis on traditional art was prevalent. After finding out that it was simply ink on paper as well, I became more fascinated with the work because it looks much more complex than just that. As for the content, the work looks somewhat like a landscape in a “fairytale world.” I think it looks like a fairytale world because it incorporates illusions of valleys and creases. When standing up close by the work, it was also breathtaking to see the delicate brushstrokes used to create such illusions. The use and contrast of light and shadow makes his work extremely mysterious and dramatic and honestly, that is probably why I was so intrigued by this exact work.
Although both the works I liked the most were extremely different to one another, they both settled with me compared to any of the other works displayed.
Chinese contemporary art is very unique and different than any kind of contemporary art in today’s society. It is divided into four different time periods which includes for example the post-cultural movement and the avant garde. Specifically, the avant garde is something that truly interests me and an art form I would want to learn more about.
In the reading by Terry Smith, Smith goes into depth about different artists and what motivated them to create their individual works. A significant paragraph in Smith’s writing is when he talks about Chinese feminist art. The Chinese women tried to exploit how identities are shaped by the materials of domestic life. A clear example of this is an installation, “Suitcase,” by Yin Xiuzhen, where she placed women in a certain way in order to demonstrate times of rapid social change. Another artist that incorporates feminism into their art is Lin Tianmiao’s installation entitled “Braiding.” This installation shows the symbolic treatment of Chinese women during the times. The installation includes women weaving cotton and giving each other haircuts. This installation is supposed to trigger the public by showing that Chinese women are much more than what they can produce. Their lifestyles have changed completely and they are far from doing “typical Chinese women” do.
Personally, I love that feminist art can be included in different kinds of movements. Thereby, the political aspect is prevalent throughout the world and it is clear that even though Chinese contemporary art is not classified as feminist art, the feminists in the generation can shine through.
Going into the film viewing of William Kentridge and his animation drawings, I had no idea what to expect. I had never heard of him before nor his significant background which influenced his work.
All of Kentridge’s animations that were shown are apart of a collection titled “9 Drawings for Projection.” Each animation is extremely different to one another however, they all start their first drawing in Johannesburg, South Africa, where Kentridge was born and raised. Each animation shows a quick 1-2 second movements of his drawings which are altered and erased in order to create an animation. Within these drawings, he allows the viewer to meet two significant characters that show up in each animation, Soho and Felix. These characters are supposed to portray, throughout each animation, a different type of political struggle as well as an emotional one of the time period. They are also supposed to depict a ‘typical South African life’ in the pre-democracy state of the country.
Kentridge has become one of the more famous South African artists due to his ability to show South African life in exile, erosion, growth and the technology of new things. He does not go into depth about what is it like being colored during this time period, however, he challenges the viewer to see what is it like to live in South Africa and how their culture has been shaped.
Kentridge created 9 films of the same charcoal, sketchy animations, but also created a 10th animation film that was more linear and used more technology. He still depicted the same messages however by using different mediums of filmmaking and drawing.
After looking at the New York Times arts articles for quite a while, I came across an interesting article about how there is a program set by the New-York Historical Society that uses art in order to help people who have green cards to pass and prepare for the naturalization test to become US citizens. The authors of the article, Christoph Fuhrmans and Scott Blumenthal, go into depth about the process it takes to become a US citizen. First, one has to be a green card holder, then submit a 20-page application, be fingerprinted as well as pass an oral exam all about American history. With this, an interactive program was created in order to help green card holders to pass the exam. This program includes artifacts, documents, and art from the museum’s permanent collection and also covers the questions on the exam. This program makes people eager to learn and has helped a lot of people in the past. This exact program really inspired me because it once again showed me that contemporary art does not have to fit within the confined borders of paint on a canvas. Additionally, I liked this type of work because it helps not only the artist but the American community and global community.
After reading both readings by Amelia Jones, I was extremely intrigued by performance art. To start off, performance art is something that I have never heard of before, nor considered to be within the realms of “normal art.” With that said, the idea that making something come alive, reproducing a production and engaging viewers into the actual performance is thrilling and ultimately very interesting.
Marina is an ideal example who uses performance in her work of art. Specifically on page 561, Marina states “When people see performers, they always try to make a hero out of you, always try to glorify you or make you this icon, which actually you can’t live up to. But in my work, I’m just showing everything that is imperfect” (561). This exact quote from Marina stood out to me for a couple of reasons and allowed me to understand her type of performance art in a more clear way. As said, when watching a production, there is a preconceived and expected connotation that there is supposed to display someone being a hero and ending with a happy note. Marina, within her work, attempts to go against these exact norms by using the negatives in her life in order to produce her work and show everyone that everything isn’t perfect. Therefore, this additionally correlates to the idea of performance art in itself. If one can go back and edit their previous performances until they display what they want to display, there is a sense of showing that a production is not perfect. That is where the line of documentation and performance separate. As Marina says on page 564, “Documentation will never replace live performance” (564). Evidently, even though documentation somewhat falls under the category of performance, performance art is a type of production that can take on different environments, different people and be re-created multiple times.
After reading about slavery taking the presence of the art world, I became extremely intrigued by its influence on people as a whole. First and foremost, I think it is specifically interesting that slavery was incorporated in art in such a powerful and guiding way. Secondly, the challenges the people encountered in order to produce such a powerful work is astonishing.
In Thelma Golden’s piece about black men represented in art, she points out the fact that African-Americans throughout history and since slavery have been seen as lesser than the average white man. As Thelma says, “The black male body, fetishized and overdetermined, is the site on which popular culture sometimes expresses itself… It is where the black body is considered as object and subject.” To me, this was extremely interesting due to the fact that I believe that Thelma is pointing out that making the black male body the subject and the object, it becomes an art form in itself. Thus, I relate this back to Greek and Roman times where the perfect male body was often represented in religious connotations. Why was there never a perfect African-American body produced in such a manner? Why has there not been one produced like that today without the immediate distinction of the body being “dark?” With this, it is clear to me that history yet today has far to advance away from typical stereotypes including skin color and race as well as gender.
After viewing Rebecca Murtaugh’s exhibition titled “Substance,” I was very inspired by her entire backstory and why and how she created the work in her exhibition.
To begin, Mrs. Murtaugh explained how she came from a family of “makers” and artists. Therefore, she was bound to appreciate art and have a sense for making it. However, once she got to college she studied chemistry, nutrition and sustainability and her passion for art slightly disappeared. She additionally shared that she tried to take as many art courses in college as possible but since she took a majority of science courses, it was extremely difficult to do so and fit art into her schedule. With all of this background in mind, as she graduated she decided to bring the chemistry lab into the food scenery and work with food in an artistic way. This I thought was specifically interesting because science and nutrition are not entirely correlated, yet she still managed to connect the two.
With this, she continued into her up and coming art career where she uses her methods from chemistry (using different elements, putting them together, burning etc.) in order to make sculpture. In her exhibition she showed a variety of colorful pieces that have a juxtaposing composition to them. As stated, her goal was to combine different materials with contemporary ones such as ones from her own living room and make something with a destructive political statement attached to them. Personally, I think that this is genius because at first look of her sculptures it is hard to understand the subject matter as well as what the actual object is. Nevertheless, when exposed to how she created her sculptures such as hitting it with a baseball ball or creating a entire vagina collection (in relation to Feminist art), I understand the background purpose of it and enjoyed her work truly.
My favorite piece from Mrs. Murtaugh was titled “Three Leaners” using three trees from her backyard as well as three primary colors. I like the fact that it was leaning on the wall and the alchemy she used to produce it. Overall, I thought Mrs. Murtaugh’s work was genius and there was a sense of symbolism and conceptual art feel yet being contemporary.
This documentary enhanced the influence of feminism throughout the contemporary art era. With this, I specifically thought that the idea of women having to be categorised as “bad girls” or “good girls” was extremely interesting.
Initially throughout the documentary there was a negative connotation with women having to be “bad.” This was set out for a man’s pleasure and because of that women wanted to display that they did not have to be that. Therefore, they were misrepresented in art and felt the need to standout as independent, strong women. This is when they began creating art out of completely feminine items in exaggerated terms. For instance, the vaginal blood prints on canvas and the woman who put ink in her hair and dragged it across the canvas. Thereby, they were ultimately showing that long hair is a feminine feature as well as the vagina. As the movie progressed and reached its end, there was a huge emphasis on erotic dancing. This exact type of dancing brings forth the contemporary idea that women do not have to use their “usual” aspects of femininity in order to feel powerful. Instead, they were able to portray that through body movement and them themselves feeling good instead of making a man feel good.
Overall, this documentary opened my eyes to the different ways and ideas women try to display their strength through art.
In an article taken from theartnewspaper.com, the author, Gareth Harris, discusses a new exhibition which will bring contemporary works from the Modern Museum of Modern Art in New York City to Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris, France. With this, Suzanne Pagé, the artistic director of the Foundation Louis Vuitton plans on taking charge of this exhibition and states that she is attempting to use New York City’s influence to add to contemporary Paris and build a bridge between the two cultures. In work with MOMA, the museum is lending the exhibition 200 different works from their current collections and taken from six different key departments of the MOMA. The exhibition is going to include works earliest from the 1930’s and end with works from today’s art world. It is going to include some of the most prominent artists such as Cézanne, Duchamp and Warhol.
This idea of bringing art to Paris that has already been exposed to the New York City area is extremely fascinating to me. I think it is great to share art across countries and to expose different regions to different cultures and movements. At the end of Harris’ article, he explains how France has yet to be exposed to the well-renowned Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans. This is therefore going to bring immediate attention to the exhibition because Pagé is bringing famous works to an area that has never seen them before.
After reading Fineberg’s article about Minimal art and the various artists that contributed to this movement, I found a few aspects of Frank Stella’s work and description of his work extremely intriguing. Something that especially stood out to me was when Stella asked Carl Andre to write his artist’s statement. As stated, “Art excludes the unnecessary. Frank Stella has found it necessary to paint stripes.” With this said, I find Andre’s comment interesting because I have never thought of art in this way. Obviously, one only includes the things they want and even though Stella produces very simple and geometic/linear shapes in his works, it is only what he wanted to include and therefore the viewer should view it that way as well. This concept I feel is more meaningful than concepts in for example Andy Warhol’s art which was discussed in class. In addition to this, Andre states “…Stella’s painting is not symbolic,” meaning that even though the stripes were placed on the flag for a purpose, they are extremely neutral and that in itself tells the viewer a lot about Stella as an artist. Compared to the various other artists mentioned in the article, I specifically liked Stella because of the idea of that “only what can be seen there is there” and thus, forced me to view the flag only as a flag due to this lack of expression but still displaying a meaningful purpose.