Sunday, December 30, 2012


Ok, I still have the blogging bug I guess. So I came across this refreshing piece of writing (I'm still reading Tallis's work too) in the circuitous way only the internet can provide. First, my morning perusing lead me to the delightful work of Ruby Sky Stiller.

It might look rather retro-cubist, but she is able to draw from history without being constrained by it. Out of curiosity I checked out where she went to school; Yale, great...let's check out Yale's latest students. After being sorely disappointed by the second year painting student's work, I thought I'd survey their professors. Surprisingly, there's at least 5 critics for every painting professor. Huh? It turns out some of the 'critics' are actually painters, whatever. Everyone's a critic I guess ;D

Something I found refreshing, as I went through their few painting professors, was the work of (visiting) professor Dushko Petrovich. He could easily occupy his own blogpost and maybe I'll devote another one to his book.

He's got very few paintings on his site. They are mostly variations on even fewer compositions. His work is comparable to Jennifer Bartlet, or Jasper John's work with a paint handling not unlike Guston. However, it was a particular writing I found most engaging.

 Out of the box:A painter's call for 'a practical avant-garde.'

He basically gives a short history, and description of painting in the recent avant-garde. I'm unsure what he means by 'practical' in his particular usage. Perhaps he was just trying to stick to the current vernacular. Eitherway, I found myself agreeing with much of his take on the 'avante-guard'. My main disagreement is that the avante-guard is only so in name and the real forefront of creativity is much more challenging to distinguish and less localized.

There are so many choice statements in the short work it's hard to choose just a few:
"I think the game in the box has gotten the best of us. Almost everyone would agree that the art world has become a kind of spectacle. Much of the work is repetitive and derivative in a way that starts to resemble planned cultural obsolescence".
A good painting also does not depend on textual support and can thus cross national and linguistic borders and communicate over time. In a word, good paintings are autonomous.
 A practical avant-garde experiments, but is honest about the results, displaying only the work that is full-fledged and generous. It surveys past achievements with similar honesty, looking at past experiments with an eye for what was truly strong. It knows that images are ubiquitous and coercive, while real pictures are rare.
I'm going to end up quoting a lot here. This final one is long, but realistic if a bit cynical:

Painting wanted to retreat to a pure territory of paint that neither represented nor referred to the visible world, while the new art forms wanted the opposite: to enter the world by expanding the realm of art so it would include every other conceivable material, issue, and strategy.
The scene seemed wild, but there were simple rules all along. You were given a white room in a Big Art City for a month. You had to do something in that room to generate attention beyond that month. You had to be written about, bought, or at least widely discussed. Then you would get to have the white room again for another month, and so on. If you did this enough, you had what was called a career. This generated what is perhaps this century's biggest art movement: careerism.
Please don't let my quotes sway you one way or the other though. It's a very evenhanded and honest piece.  Another article I found revealing is here, but it's less straightforward imo.

In the next post I'll talk about his book.


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