Monday, December 04, 2006

Mark Rothko
The Rothko Chapel is a non-denominational chapel in Houston, Texas founded by John and Dominique de Menil. The interior serves not only as a chapel, but also as a major work of modern art. On its walls are fourteen black but color hued paintings by Mark Rothko. (Wikipedia)

In my quest to research Abstract-Expressionism of the 40's and 50's, I've stumbled across some lesser-known facts about Rothko. Most of us are familiar with Rothko's vast monochromatic or dichromatic "color field" paintings. I would guess that most people respond to the ethereal quality of the life-sized canvases which seem to use color as their main force. What I find interesting is that Rothko denies color as the spiritual impetus behind his work:
"The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions… the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point."
He echos this sentiment later, in the June 7, 1943 edition of the New York Times, when Rothko, together with Adolph Gottlieb and Barnett Newman, published the following brief manifesto:

1. To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risks.
2. This world of imagination is fancy-free and violently opposed to common sense.
3. It is our function as artists to make the spectator see the world our way not his way. 4. We favor the simple expression of the complex thought. We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth.
5. It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academicism.*
Although it's hard to deny the power of color to ruin or make a painting, I must admit one of my greatest annoyances is when people comment on the colors in a painting at the expense of everything else that is going in. Color is a formal element that allows a painting to achieve space, form and depth. It is not however, a substitute for a decent painting. In fact, it would seem that a lack of color is more than anything, a way or starting from scratch or letting a painting move beyond using color as the only way to create time and space. Rothko's installation in the Chapel paintings above successfully illustrate this. With minimal use of color and light, these paintings move beyond the surface and create a space; a body; a place where the viewer can interact with the hollow plane and create his or her own space within the absence of refracted and reflected light.

**Academic art is a style of painting and sculpture produced under the influence of European academies or universities. The art influenced by academies and universities in general is also called "academic art". In this context as new styles are embraced by academics, the new styles come to be considered academic, thus what was at one time a rebellion against academic art becomes academic art.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A vision of what I hope this blog will serve is beginning to emerge. Because contemporary art is interdisciplinary by nature, and blends new mediums and hybrid territory, it's easy to get swept up in the tide of overstimulation.

In my own art-making, I'm beginning to unravel themes of obsession and control that I believe are present in most artists. I intend to highlight and share works of art, writing, criticism, happenings, people, events, etc., that relate to my current investigation of obsession and art.

My manifesto is indeed make art like knowing how to make love, which is (I hope) a hymn and command to go forth and make art with all the gusto, primal urgency, instinct, confidence, and brains that exist in knowing how to make love.

I invite feedback, critique, prompts, new information, and cupcakes. (Ask me for delivery address). Keep posted as I develop this blog in the coming days and weeks.

Now, go forth and make some fucking art!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I used to live here - my bedroom was in the sanctuary and I had a lovely alter made of plastic, spray painted gold. E.B., M.D., J.B. and I had some great times. How it is to live in a church...
Founded in 1905, this was Ebeneezer Luthern Church.

Friday, September 22, 2006

i like my body when it is with your body.
It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more. i like your body.
i like what it does, i like its hows.
i like to feel the spine of your body and its bones,
and the trembling -firm-smooth ness and which i will again and again and again kiss,
i like kissing this and that of you, i like,
slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz of your electric fur,
and what-is-it comes over parting flesh...
And eyes big love-crumbs, and possibly i like the thrill of under me you so quite new.

- e.e. cummings
What matters is that we enlarge our souls, light up our brains, and liberate our spirits. What matters is that we hop on a strange torpedo and ride it to wherever it’s going, ride it with affection and humor and grace, because beyond affection, humor and grace, all that remains is noise and sociology! What matters is that we never forget that the little paper match of one individual’s spirit can outshine all the treasures of commerce, out-glint all the armaments of government, and out-sparkle the entire disco ball of history.
The thing you must remember:

the thing you must remember is how, as a child, you worked hours in the art room, the teacher's hand over yours, molding the little clay dog. You must remember how nothing mattered but the imagined dog's fur, the shape of his ears and his paws. The gray clay felt dangerous, your small hands were pressing what you couldn't say with your limited words. When the dog's back stiffened, then cracked into white shards in the kiln, you learned how the beautiful sufferes from too much attention, how clumsy a single vision can grow, and fragile with trying too hard. The thing you must remember is the art teacher's capable hands: large, rough and grainy, over yours, holding on.

-maggie anderson