Online Viewing (part 2)

detail from The Temptation of St Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch

During the first phase of Lockdown Richard Guest and I made a few virtual gallery visits – here is our equally virtual conversation that followed…continued from part one

Richard:

Yes, the Bosch site is incredible – very nice to get lost in there! It helps that the paintings are so sensuous and strange. And refreshing that there are no price tags.

OK according to Artsy this is what sold at Frieze (which has introduced price transparency with this online fare). The list includes works by Yinka Shonibare, Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui (whose work sold for $1.5m), Leon Kossof ($1.8m), Miquel Barceló ($210K), Damian Loeb ($180K), Suzan Frecon ($400K), Wolfgang Tillmans ($220K), and George Condo (who seems to be getting a lot of attention at the moment, $2m kerching!). I wonder who they sold to – perhaps some of the billionaires who are benefitting from us all being stuck at home.

For some reason all of this reminded me of how Andy Warhol and Bruno Bischofberger are represented in Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat, which naturally led me to Tate Modern’s latest Warhol exhibition. Here’s the exhibition tour: https://youtu.be/ZjgAd6Z-dd0

And here’s Basquiat: Basquiat (1996) – better suited to our lockdown existence than representations of physical works maybe?…









Basquiat (1996)Basquiat is a 1996 biopic/drama film directed by Julian Schnabel based on the life of American postmodernist/neo…

David

Like you say – the bones of the art world are exposed and you can see both ends of the transaction transparently. Although the creative act still somehow maintains its mystery. I am not strong enough for the Warhol tour at the minute…what I am afraid of is that it will determine what I look at in the show, and for how long. Before we even get onto any predigested critical ideas that I don’t want. Exactly the reverse is true of that wonderful Bosch site – it just presents the work in exquisite detail The rest is up to you.

Before we get completely sidetracked by David Bowie in Basquiat (I know you want to!), can we go back to Rodney Graham at the Lisson Gallery? I thought his work was interesting, also not unrelated to George Condo (who I had to look up, I’m ashamed to say). Graham is of those ‘Russian Doll’ type artists – sort of a painting within a painting…what did you make of his work?

Richard

Yes, I think the “directed” experience is like listening to some long-winded article slowly killing the excitement of the work for me. Ha, ha – the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind (it’s a very odd performance and very enjoyable to watch). The Rodney Grahams are interesting – for all their archness and his evident physical removal from the process of making, the paintings are quite warm. Synthetic Cubism is a friendly vehicle. They work in this context because they are very graphic – you don’t have to worry about texture when you’re looking at them on a computer.

Today I feel really pissed off that I can’t go and stand in front of an Agnes Martin painting and watch the light play across the surface. Sick of screens to be honest.

David

Screens are just an unavoidable part of modern life. Like avoiding anything that nearly everyone else does, like driving, telephones etc- to live without them would require a conscious effort. I felt they worked well for Rodney Graham’s work because they are an intermediate vehicle for images, that cleans them, strips them out. The artist has no control over where the image goes and is received – they are pixels, colour values, numbers. However, for some artists – and I think Graham is one – they have decoupled the physical work from its meaning and we receive the two separately. I think this is quite a recent thing, but I could be wrong. The work has to be unencrypted by the viewer according to an accrued set of rules and values triggered by embedded cues in the work. These are transmitted in a more diffuse way by publicity, education and media. The are floating in the primordial soup we call culture. So the cubism of Graham’s paintings is removed from competing with real synthetic cubism and the image becomes some kind of place holder for ‘the thing you think cubism is’ 

Is this a new thing? Or has art always worked in this way??

Richard: One of the things I like about our conversations is that weeks can go by between contact. Yes, I guess screens are unavoidable – I didn’t watch TV at all from 1994 until a couple of years ago (and now cannot sit through whole programmes) because I got sick of watching the news. It had a more radical effect on my ability to socialise than I could have anticipated.

That’s a fascinating idea and I think it’s new. I wonder if it has been adopted by artists as an MO or whether it’s happening by accident. If it worked this way in the past, the work would have stood on its own and it would have been a slower accumulation of information via books, magazine articles, exhibitions etc with longer periods between each event (months and years, instead of days and weeks), which would have enriched the experience – it would have taken the viewer a lot longer to join all the dots. By removing the physical experience, the process of assimilating the artist and their work is accelerated. Opinion formed, trace memory filed away, the art equivalent of vaping. Is it a bad thing? It’s an interesting idea that the work is really just this intangible thing which is a network of bits of information. The work exists outside the work.

The viewer has to decrypt the work and its supporting metadata, as the machine has to decrypt the coding that is its transport. There’s something chilly about that. Reminds me of John Foxx’s Metamatic LP (which seems relevant to today’s world again – it was released in 1980).

David

It is a chilly idea, but perhaps only because we are still bound to the notion of individual artistic originality. If the metadata that can give an artwork meaning is permanently floating in the ether of society’s media, it just condenses in the artist’s mind. This makes the artist more of a host than a progenitor of ideas. 

I am not sure this is new, but great artist of the past have taken possession of ideas that were floating about and made them their own. Think of any artist from the past that was any good. But today the ascendancy of a curatorial class has made it possible for a generation of artists to merely relate the ideas from one context to another and leave it at that.

Is the assimilation accelerated by the absence of a a physical object?

So perhaps there is after all no-one driving.

Online Viewing (part one)

During the first phase of Lockdown Richard Guest and I made a few virtual gallery visits – here is our equally virtual conversation that followed…

Anselm Kiefer viewed on Frieze.com

David Locked down and desperate for art – the art world’s response to the emptying of galleries has been to try to tempt us to a new gallery experience online. we have decided to visit three ‘online viewing rooms’ to try to get our art fix:

The Frieze New York Viewing Room

https://frieze.com/fairs/frieze-viewing-room

Rodney Graham at the Lisson Gallery:

https://www.lissongallery.com/online-exhibitions/rodney-graham-painting-problems

Hauser & Wirth Menorca in VR

https://www.vip-hauserwirth.com/hauser-wirth-menorca-in-vr/

I managed to visit all three sites, but I’m not really sure what I saw. It looked like art, but it didn’t feel like art. It was really very odd. It was a very different kind of art experience: on one hand, it was just like visiting any website, but on the other there was a certain self-conscious quality to the presentation of the work that gave me quite a lot of insight into how and why I enjoy looking at art at all. How did you get on? 

Richard: Yes, I’ve visited all three and plan to return to them during the course of our chat. The differences in the galleries’ approaches are interesting. Not sure how much the different experiences are going to colour my reaction to the works.

Frieze is the most like an online shopping experience I think (including price tags), so the layout is clean and you get a nice big picture of each object on sale in the various galleries represented, but it’s pretty static.

The Lisson kicks off with a jaunt round the exhibition space in the form of a short video and follows it with the rest of the page taken up with pictures and descriptions of Rodney Graham’s works.

Hauser & Wirth’s tour of their new gallery in Menorca is the most ambitious of the three, using VR and game technology to simulate the experience of visiting a physical exhibition. It’s very easy to access, silent and begins outside, so you get to walk through the gallery doors. There are various marks to guide you to different viewing areas and other marks to access information about each work. The downside is that the image naturally warps as you move around, presumably because of the kind of camera used to shoot the show.

Of the three presentations, I like the Lisson Gallery the most – the film sketched out the layout of the show and the isolated images of the works filled in the gaps. The Hauser & Wirth is fun, but slightly frustrating – as in shoot-em-ups I want to be able to wander off the prescribed map and have a nosey around in the areas we don’t have access to.

Looking at these showed me how much I miss being in a physical space with objects and other people. When I visit a show it’s a little like stepping out of everyday reality for a while. When you’re accessing an exhibition online, you’re still rooted in your reality (your office, bedroom etc) – there’s no sense of occasion. I find it grabs my attention less maybe because it has to fight with other distractions.

David

Clearly online viewing is no substitute for a real experience, it is more like a menu than a meal.  I am a bit surprised at how inadequate it is. The differences are instructive as they tell me what I like about the whole gallery experience. I felt no emotional involvement in what I was looking at; there was little focus or intensity, and there were a lot of peripheral noises from the internet and from being at home. I was missing material detail, scale, true colour not to mention the charismatic presence of the art object.

The time things take to load is also an issue for me. I’m very impatient and want to look at everything all at once, but this is like traipsing round a very crowded exhibition in some kind of Soviet style queue. Not liberating at all.

I hate the cameras of the vr – so wide angle – distorted as you say, and very gamy.

Hauser and Wirth’s Minorca gallery

The filtering of an experience through many layers of media is something we are so used to it passses almost unnoticed a lot of the time, but online gallery viewing  is very self conscious and it gives us insight into the essence of contemporary art. I also felt the Lisson offering was strongest. But it begs the question: does the online viewing suit some work more than others?

Richard:

While we’re on the subject of substitutes for the real gallery experience I realised the other day that reading a monograph, an art magazine or a history of art is a more satisfying experience for me than trying to look at shows online. There is at least a little more tactility viewing art on the page (and fewer distortions in reproductions)…the only drawback is that you can’t view much new work this way (although, and I don’t know whether you are finding this during lockdown, I’m more interested in rediscovering old stuff in both art and music)…Anyway…online viewing…I guess it maybe works better for digital and video works, although scale is naturally dictated by the size of the screen you view them on (which in the case of Douglas Gordon for example would change the meaning of the piece because the screens used in gallery shows create a kind of installation, and you are missing the hum of projectors, the smell of the room etc) and you still have the problem of distraction as you say.

The three examples we’re looking at are broadly similar types of work – 2D paintings, drawings etc and looking at them again I’m struck by how much more I prefer the Lisson approach – I’m happier to spend more time looking at the work even though I don’t necessarily prefer the work to those in the H&W show – I’d like to get a closer look at the Paul McArthy painting for example.

I’m beginning to feel the online exhibition experience is closer to leafing through a slightly unsatisfying exhibition catalogue than anything else and the economics of the situation are less well hidden than they usually are – the physical art would usually act as a much bigger distraction from the obvious shopfront.

Do you want to talk about any of the individual works – I’ve just received an email about what sold at Frieze…

David

I found the filtering options on the Frieze site an odd way to categorise art. I can tell you though that there were no works by a transgender artist for $1m+. 

Choosing art on the Frieze website.

There were interesting works on the site, including this Robert Motherwell picture, 

Robert Motherwell via Frieze.com

but really we are just guessing what the real work is like – the scale, the texture of the unprimed cotton duck and of course the colour. One thing that I do know is that colour representation on screens is very variable. Overall, the Frieze site fulfilled my worst expectations of the online art experience. However, there are great online art experiences out there – I was blown away yesterday by this site: http://boschproject.org/#/book/

It allows you to get much closer to the works than you ever could in a museum setting, enabling a unique and intimate connection to the paintings. But they aren’t trying to sell you anything. What did sell?

Part Two here

Walter de Maria and Pierre Huyghe – A Conversation Part I

Walter de Maria at Gagosian Grosvenor Hill

After a fairly long break Richard Guest and I visited two shows – Pierre Huyghe: UUmwelt at the Serpentine Gallery and Walter De Maria: Idea to Action to Object, at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill. This is the resulting email conversation, in two parts.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

David:

Visiting these two shows was not any kind of programmatic choice – they aren’t related for me in any way. I think we both found the Huyghe show hard to digest; but, rather against expectations, the de Maria was quite playful in a laconic sort of way.

Walter de Maria is one of those artists who seem to embody the pioneering conceptualism of the 1960s and 70s. Rare pictures of him seem to give off both the romantic elan of early Surrealists and Dadaists but also the gravitas of the Los Alamos bomb makers and other highly serious types. I hadn’t seen a lot of his work in one place before and I was keen to see the Gagosian show to give me a strong taste of what his work was really about. Once again my expectations were upended – it seems to happen whenever I go to see a show! Are there a lot of revisionist curators around or did I just get totally the wrong end of the stick about all this stuff when I was younger?

Richard:

Ha, ha, quite – the Walter de Maria show was a real surprise.

As a teenager I took artists a lot more seriously at the same time as not bothering to research them too deeply. When we were at art college, Walter de Maria was talked about by respected tutors with some reverence. So I assumed he was a “very serious artist” and the works I was familiar with (from books and magazines) did not dispel this view. The two pieces I remember being particularly interested in: Lightning Field (1977) and The New York Earth Room (1977) were both large in scale and seemed rigorously disciplined in their thinking.

Here’s a video about Lightning Field:

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 00.18.39

and here’s one about The New York Earth Room:

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 00.39.47

Although there is no relation between the Pierre Huyghe and the Walter de Maria, I think it could be interesting to compare and contrast our experiences of the two shows. Here’s Bjarne Eriksen’s experience of the Huyghe:

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 00.44.06

One thing the video does not convey is the weird (rotting meat?) smell that clung to the exhibition, which coloured the whole experience for me and made me want to leave perhaps sooner than I should. The show comprised: large screens showing what appeared to be glitchy video of forms mutating, patches of wall where previous layers of paint had been revealed by sanding, lots of live houseflies, and the odour. It felt a bit like walking around in someone else’s nightmare.

David:

The smell and the flies were definitely important! When you are first getting interested in art, exposure to photos, books and videos (and of course blogs!) seems to tell you everything, but it’s often incomplete and there are whole dimensions missing. Especially when the work isn’t completely visual. On the other hand, it’s easy to get wrapped up in understanding the intention of the artist and the processes behind the work without stepping back to look at the work itself. And sometimes all the process and attitude is lost in the finished work. But as followers of the Cult of Personality, we get very wrapped up in attitudes, politics and other ephemeral stuff. I like to try to separate what I see or smell in front of me in a gallery from all the received information around, which is almost impossible. Usually the only way is by receiving the information afterwards!

SONY DSC

Walter de Maria: drawing for Olympic Mountain Project (1970–71).

Although De Maria was a bit of a local hero when we were students, I don’t think he was ever mainstream and a lot of these works are being exhibited for the first time at the Gagosian, so perhaps we can be forgiven for not fully appreciating his playful side. Part of which would seem to be about aping the high seriousness of some of his more po-faced contemporaries. The large works you mention are also very different in character from what is on show here. There are a lot of sketches with quirky captions and comments that really reveal his thoughts in a very spontaneous way. I connected them mentally with Claes Oldenburg – the epitome of a witty, playful artist. What did you make of the drawings? Can we call them drawings?
Richard:

Yes, I’d call them drawings – de Maria making propositions, giving form to ideas. They are playful, but informative enough that he communicates the sense of how a concept could be enacted. (DSC00170.jpg)

I like his drawing style – it gives the impression of concentration and spontaneity – de Maria is “present” in the moment. None of the drawings in the exhibition look overworked or over-thought.  They are spare and light and communicate just enough of an idea to bring it to life in the mind. And I think this lightness of touch translates to the objects he made.

In contrast to de Maria’s approach I feel like Huyghe’s work is grinding away at some opaque concept, one that is close, oppressive and pessimistic. Am I misreading Uumwelt because I’m comparing it to de Maria’s utopianism?

David:

For me the overall impression of the Huyghe was of timelapse security camera footage of decomposing aliens, but that was beside the point. The process was the point…the suggestion that images can be generated by machine learning and could be formed by computers interfacing directly with the human brain is a fascinating one. But the images themselves felt like layers of graphics and noise. By contrast de Maria seems to have compartmentalised his creativity very differently – and more humanly. It’s very down to Earth…the title “Idea to Action to Object” really seems to describe an artist’s working process perfectly. The object is the direct product of the action which is the consequence of the idea. The internal idea is brought into the world in the turmoil of action and the only evidence of it is the object. When the action is concluded the wormhole between the idea and the object is closed; and the object stands alone on ‘the other side’ – a clean break.

Huyghe seems to be trying to skip the ‘action’ step – to paint, or perform or write – and to have the idea translate itself directly into images. But of course the process becomes the action, the machine is just the outsourced hand of the artist. I felt Huyghe is almost afraid of owning the idea: almost as if he wanted the machine to arrive at his idea so he didn’t have to. Not because it would be too much work, but because it feels more ’empirical’ and less tied to some personal value system. Before seeing the de Maria show I would have said this desire to distance yourself from your own ideas was the legacy of Conceptual Art, but now I’m not so sure.

Part II 

Peter Doig and Cy Twombly (part four)

The Future Is Papier Mâché

In early October 2019David Cook and I visited Peter Doig: Paintings at Michael Werner, and Cy Twombly: Sculpture at Gagosian, both in London. Afterwards, we discussed the shows by email. The following is the result of several weeks of electronic toing and froing...part four

Cy Twombly, Untitled, 2004
Bronze
81 x 38.5 x 29.5 cm
(foreground)

Cy Twombly, Untitled (Snafu), 2009
Bronze
89.3 x 40 x 19.3 cm
(background)

David:

For me, Twombly’s paintings and sculptures are distinct – yet they do share this particular relationship with the colour white. It is more than just a ground in the paintings, it has purity and space. And for the sculptures too, it draws the forms together and also softens the light hitting them. These are not shiny objects – that seems important; is it because it makes them feel somehow timeless? Although they are very definitely not from another…

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Peter Doig and Cy Twombly (part three)

The Future Is Papier Mâché

In early October 2019David Cook and I visited Peter Doig: Paintings at Michael Werner, and Cy Twombly: Sculpture at Gagosian, both in London. Afterwards, we discussed the shows by email. The following is the result of several weeks of electronic toing and froing...part three

David:

Yes, we are miles apart on this one! I suppose when I said it looked like the work of any old Expressionist painter, that was a lazy way of saying that some of the distortions seem a little over familiar and the non-perceptual colours and shapes used to suggest emotion seem second hand. Doig isn’t an emotional exhibitionist in the same way as the original Expressionists, but he is – like them – trying to nudge our emotional compass. It’s odd…his art appears naive to me, but it really isn’t. There is a slightly disingenuous quality to that.

Before we move on shall…

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Peter Doig and Cy Twombly

The Future Is Papier Mâché

In early October 2019David Cook and I visited Peter Doig: Paintings at Michael Werner, and Cy Twombly: Sculpture at Gagosian, both in London. Afterwards, we discussed the shows by email. The following is the result of several weeks of electronic toing and froing.

Peter Doig, “Musical Equipment Ltd.”, 2019
Oil on linen
50 x 38 cm

David:

We have been looking at Peter Doig’s work for a long time – since before he won the Turner Prize (1994), and became internationally known – even becoming the most expensive living European artist for a time. Back in the 90s, I was struck by a quality in his work that was clearly determined to go its own way, but seemed insular and alienated to me – almost like outsider art. What is it about his work that has so engaged people since then – has it changed or have people become…

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Walter de Maria and Pierre Huyghe – A Conversation Part II

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 22.03.44

Pierre Huyghe Uumwelt (From the Serpentine Gallery Guide)

After a fairly long break Richard Guest and I visited two shows – Pierre Huyghe: UUmwelt at the Serpentine Gallery and Walter De Maria: Idea to Action to Object, at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill. This is the resulting email conversation, in two parts. You can read part I here

Richard:

Making a simple comparison between the two exhibitions, Huyghe is ceding his creativity to a machine, with the expected in/ un-human result, whereas de Maria’s work is not only driven by utopian ideas, but is all on a human scale – there are balls to pick up and drop, human interaction is imaginable (and encouraged in his drawings) and looks like it would have a satisfying tactility.

I’d like to see more work by Huyghe to get a better sense of where he’s coming from – is it all at this vast remove? The larger de Maria works seem consistent with the works in this show – Lightning Field and Earth Room still work on a human scale, are understandable as concepts and a person could interact with them.

I think conceptual art has changed a lot in its intentions over time: ideas are being expressed for different reasons now than they were in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s quite an enduring form in a way, but is Huyghe an artistic descendant of de Maria?

David:

Interesting that you say Conceptual Art is an enduring form – since it was originally fundamentally opposed to form – it suggests that it has defeated itself or been consumed by the market. I am not sure that’s really a fair analysis though.

The Dadaists were the first to sever the link between the Object and the Idea. They were the first Conceptualists. But now that has spawned so many subgenres: some are just ideas without objects and some are objects without ideas. ‘A concept in search of an idea’, as we used to say!  The difference would be that some of these empty object based artists now describe themselves as Conceptualists: although their work is as decorative and devoid of meaning as any flower painting or animal sculpture.

But there was something right about the overall plan of Dada – it was partly a reaction to photography and mechanisation that threatened to democratise art to the point where skill based reproduction of the visible world was immediately obsolete. Today that process has all but overwhelmed the creative impulse as we are swamped with everyone’s ‘creative’ images, but that is not all. I would argue that the pervasive framework of the internet has made it almost impossible to have an original idea, or even to believe that you have had one. This has led to artists like Huyghe, who are trying to think their way back to the possibility of an idea emerging in the brain unprompted by the collective consciousness. That is what this work was about and – although it wasn’t completely successful for me  – it did have a mind’s eye kind of quality to it as if you were witnessing a visual idea take shape. That’s pretty amazing and yes, quite original.

De Maria seems to have had no such difficulty in owning ideas and feeling that they were original and exciting (even though some of them might not have been). So, in answer to your question, although they are both related to the roots of Conceptualism they are from very different branches. But I could be completely wrong! I am not sure if either of them are as in earnest as they seem at first glance. In particular, I feel I don’t totally fathom de Maria’s humour – how do you perceive that, especially in relation to some of the very dry looking sculptures he came out with..?

DSC00004

Walter de Maria at the Gagosian

Richard:

I’m not sure it’s humour so much as light-heartedness. There’s a generosity of spirit behind the drawings, and a sense of inclusiveness to the sculptures. There’s also no mystification to the process: Walter makes a drawing setting out what he intends to do (annotated in plain language), and executes the sculpture according to the drawing – there’s seemingly no barrier/ framing device between him and the viewer. (Hi, I’m Walter, this is my idea, hope you like it!) It’s all of a piece with his Utopian intentions I think. I appreciate what you’re saying about Huyghe and his originality and I agree, but the work is troubling and alien and (without any kind of background reading), opaque. To what extent do you think it’s important that exhibitions are supported by texts? With both of these shows I went in with very little prior knowledge and trusted my reactions to the work without the gallery’s framing context.

David:

This is a question we always come back to. I want to feel that anyone can interact directly with art without background information from the priesthood of critics and gallerists, without other peoples’ interposing opinions or even the artist’s own backstory of the work. I want art that has the power of creation within it, not some weak commentary or reflection flaking off our society like a dry scab.

However, this also means that as a viewer I have to be in a pure state of mind and heart, unclouded by irrelevant thoughts. And the gallery itself would have to be some perfect bubble of contemplation. This is only partly possible…when art works, it is like a radio broadcasting the artist’s mind, and all this other stuff is like static around that signal. But to feel meaning in it, art cannot be wholly disconnected: it has to strike a resonance with my life and experience. Without that – it’s just junk.

On the one hand it is really exciting to have that connection with an artist whose life is remote to mine, but it is necessarily harder to establish that connection and what can be communicated is less detailed and specific. Probably it is restricted to what used to be called The Human Condition, although you don’t really hear that phrase much anymore. All ephemeral or topical content quickly becomes lost.

Art criticism is a kind of oral history that no-one is curating. Its development will be lost – and that is probably a good thing; but we will find the art of the recent past to be almost inexplicable when it is primarily oriented to that critical debate. And if I’m honest I see both de Maria and Huyghe in that camp.

Joseph Beuys: a conversation (part three)

The third (and final) part of my chat with Richard Guest about Joseph Beuys…

The Future Is Papier Mâché

In early June 2018David Cook and I visited Joseph Beuys: Utopia At The Stag Monuments at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London, 17th April to 16th June 2018. Afterwards, we discussed the show by email. The following is the result of several weeks’ electronic toing and froing.

David: It’s time we went upstairs, I think. The Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac is a generous refurbishment of a sumptuous town house in Dover Street in Mayfair – one of the most expensive areas in the world. But we are swimming in space as we go up the double staircase. There is a ‘sparse hang’ along the corridor of a few multiples and drawings, with the white walls and the oak floors it all feels very much as it should do – the works have plenty of space, but you can still get close. Then we arrive at the end room…

Richard: Having…

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Joseph Beuys: a conversation (part two)

The Future Is Papier Mâché

In early June 2018David Cook and I visited Joseph Beuys: Utopia At The Stag Monuments at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London, 17th April to 16th June 2018. Afterwards, we discussed the show by email. The following is the result of several weeks’ electronic toing and froing.

Richard: One of the things that makes his work so magnetic is the fusion of the commonplace with the spiritual and intellectual – as if every object he touched was a means of deep psychological and material exploration for him and (possibly as a byproduct) a way to awaken curiosity about the physical world in the viewer. There’s a roughness and vitality to the drawings that makes them very difficult to co-opt for commercial purposes. How much do you think Beuys’ aesthetic/ anti-aesthetic has entered the vocabulary of advertising and media (I remember in the mid-Eighties Green from Scritti Politti citing Beuys as…

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Joseph Beuys: a conversation (part one) — The Future Is Papier Mâché

In early June 2018 David Cook and I visited Joseph Beuys: Utopia At The Stag Monuments at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London, 17th April to 16th June 2018. Afterwards, we discussed the show by email. The following is the result of several weeks’ electronic toing and froing. David: This show was like a refresher course in […]

via Joseph Beuys: a conversation (part one) — The Future Is Papier Mâché