Looking at Earthworks Artists & Their Descendants

"You" by Urs Fischer
“You” by Urs Fischer

Today I look at how various artists over recent times have reacted against the idea that developed through the history of art of the gallery as a sacred place, and the art within as items to be worshipped.

A recent installation in New York by Urs Fisher takes place inside a gallery, while some of his antecedents had moved their work outside the gallery.

Urs Fischer has reduced Gavin Brown’s Enterprise to a hole in the ground, and it is one of the most splendid things to have happened in a New York gallery in a while…A 38-foot-by-30-foot crater, eight feet deep, extends almost to the walls of the gallery, surrounded by a fourteen-inch ledge of concrete floor. A sign at the door cautions…intrepid viewers can, all the same, inch their way around the hole.

It is the gallery deconstructed and “makes you look at galleries in a new way.” Read more about it in this New York magazine article.

Gordon Matta Clark - Conical Intersect
Conical Intersect (detail) by Gordon Matta-Clark 1975

Gordon Matta-Clark deconstructed whole buildings. “It’s all about evolution,” he said.

Disappearing Act, Revisiting Gordon Matta-Clark’s Lost Public Art…

from Karen Rosenberg:

“…in the early seventies, Gordon Matta-Clark made transformative, transgressive art out of New York’s desolate corners. Without permits or any official support, the former Cornell architecture student hacked into the walls and floors of derelict buildings (of which there were many), turning shadowy wrecks into light-filled sculptures. “I don’t like the way most art needs to be looked at in galleries,” Matta-Clark once said, “any more than the way empty halls make people look.”

Read more of this review of Matta-Clark’s recent retrospective, or read this interesting personal story about Gordon Matta-Clark by Ned Smyth.

Robert Smithson - Spiral Jetty
Robert Smithson Spiral Jetty Rozel Point, Great Salt Lake, Utah April 1970

History is representational, while time is abstract; both of these artifices may be found in museums, where they span everybody’s own vacancy. The museum undermines one’s confidence in sense data and erodes the impression of textures upon which our sensations exist…Visiting a museum is a matter of going from void to void. Hallways lead the viewer to things once called ‘pictures’ and ‘statues’.

Excerpt from “Some Void Thoughts On Museums” by Robert Smithson. See and read more about Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty at his website, which has fabulous photos of this and other earthworks, and links to his mirror works, drawings, other writings, and more.

Take a look at “The Broken Kilometer” by Walter De Maria, of Lightning Field fame. (all photos of this work are claimed by the Dia Art Foundation, so I cannot show it to you here).

Five hundred gleaming gold-coloured rods, receding into the distance, laid out majestically in a five-sectioned plane…And all De Maria had been wanting to do was create something enduring and especially beautiful to anchor in some small way the viewer’s perceptions, in an attempt to counter the trend of that time…

To this day this supremely gleaming work is still where it ever was in New York. The whole room seems to be filled with a simple splendour…Even Barnett Newman’s “zip” paintings, Dan Flavin’s fluorescent tube installations or Henri Matisse’s captivating chapel in Vence are not likely to fill the viewer with such wonder…De Maria’s installation has caused the art world to divide just as the Red Sea once did, allowing those with eyes to see to make out a light at the end of the tunnel.

Michael Heizer- City
“City” and “Double Negative” by Michael Heizer – earthworks in the Nevada desert.

The sheer size of Double Negative also invites contemplation of the scale of art, and the relation of the viewer the earth and to art itself. How does art change when it can’t fit in a museum? How does one observe an artwork that’s a quarter-mile long?

See and read more about Michael Heizer’s earthworks at the website Double Negative.

Chris Burden - Samson
“Samson,” a gallery expanding installation, by Chris Burden

Chris Burden has been called ‘one of America’s few really scary artists.’ He is the artist whose early works involved placing himself in personal danger, such as when in 1971, he had himself shot in the arm by a friend. Another time, he himself shot at a 747: Chris Burden shooting at a 747, 1973. Read some recent information on him here.

Which brings me to “A Matter of Time” — an essay from the Tate, spring 2007:

The ability to play with time, stretching and quickening it, is a distinctively modern phenomenon, since the advent of photography in the twentieth century, and the idea of mathematical time introduced with the emergence of secular humanism after the Enlightenment.

Peaceful Abstract Landscape by Karen Jacobs

Painting by Karen Jacobs "Hope Ridge" mixed media on canvas 30" x 30"
Painting by Karen Jacobs “Hope Ridge” mixed media on canvas 30″ x 30″

Here’s another really gorgeous abstract landscape — makes me wish I were there (kind of like Robin Williams in “What Dreams May Come” or that bit in Akira Kurasawa’s movie (I think it may have been called “Dreams”) where Van Gogh wanders through his own paintings.

Anyway, I’d love to roll in a field of paint that looks like this. Luscious!  View more of Karen’s Work at her website.

Beautiful Abstract Landscapes by Cheryl McClure

Painting by Cheryl McClure "Little Pieces of Land IX" acrylic on canvas 36 x 36"
Painting by Cheryl McClure “Little Pieces of Land IX” acrylic on canvas 36 x 36″

Favorite painter of the day: Cheryl McClure, whose beautiful abstract landscapes I found online at the Jezebel Gallery. This is my favorite! Gorgeous colors and I love how it works as a landscape and also as purely abstract shapes. I’m really led into and through the painting by her use of color and shape.

See more of Cheryl’s work at her website; read her blog at Johnson Creek Studio.

Paintings of People Looking at Art by Karin Jurick

Painting by Karin Jurick "An older gentleman viewing an abstract painting in the de Young Museum in San Francisco" Oil on Masonite 8"x10"Painting by Karin Jurick
“An older gentleman viewing an abstract painting in the de Young Museum in San Francisco”
Oil on Masonite


A Painting a Day

I Stumbled Upon this artist’s site today: Karin Jurick — through a ‘painting a day’ blog.  I love her beautiful tiny representational paintings; I especially love her paintings of people looking at art.  She has done lots of them, too.  Click on the Karin Jurick’s Museum Goers to see hundreds of her gorgeous little paintings, and read her story…very interesting and inspirational.

Artists to Look at for Paint and Pictorial Methods

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series SAIC Class Notes
Francis Bacon - Study after Velazquezs Portrait of Pope Innocent X
Francis Bacon – Study after Velazquezs Portrait of Pope Innocent X
Class notes, SAIC, 1991

Look at these artists:

Florine Stettheimer
Jim Lutes
Gaylen Hansen — all in Ryerson Library
Robert Barnes
Marcy Hermansader
Cheryl Lemli (?)
Jacob Lawrence
Phillip Guston (content inherent to painting as well as line, form, etc.)
ask Laurel Bradley, AH teacher.

Gradual accumulation of paint on surface until you get to center of interest.

All of Francis Bacon’s paintings are covered with glass – they reflect the viewer & architecture of the room. Change as you change position to it.

Continue reading “Artists to Look at for Paint and Pictorial Methods”

Artists to Look at for Atmosphere

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Class Notes
Painting by Ferdinand Hodler Lake Geneva as seen from Chexbres, oil on canvas 1905
Painting by Ferdinand Hodler Lake Geneva as seen from Chexbres, oil on canvas 1905
Class notes, from Advanced Drawing Studio with Barbara Rossi, SAIC, 1991

For help with my current work, look at:

Heiderrat, India – rock formations like Enchanted Rock from National Geographic or Life.

Ferdinand Hodler for narrative.

Gauguin for composition, 4×5 ft. Especially “D’où venons nous? Que sommes-nous? Où allons-nous? (Where Do We come from? What Are We? Where Are We Going?)” 1897

Hudson River painters: Church, Cole, Bierstadt. The Voyage of Life series.

Paradigmatic – mythic poses.

Marsden Hartley
Van Gogh
Turner – for atmosphere.
Yvonne Jacquette – for cloud studies, aerial paintings, contemporary.
Chinese wash landscapes.
19th C. American landscape photographers
Balthus – “The Mountain”

Drawing vs. Painting: More Artists to Look At

This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series SAIC Class Notes
Painting by Susan Rothenberg "Triphammer Bridge" 1974 Synthetic polymer paint and tempera on canvas 67 1/8" x 9' 7 3/8"
Painting by Susan Rothenberg “Triphammer Bridge” 1974 Synthetic polymer paint and tempera on canvas 67 1/8″ x 9′ 7 3/8″
Class Notes from Art School, SAIC, 1991

More artists to look at:

Figuration and abstraction.
How ideas are developed.
Comes from nature.
Look at source periodically.

Can you not go back and be very particular after moving fast, getting abstract?

Look at:
Diebenkorn (Diebenkorn’s missing works) – colors on cigar box top – beautiful: Yellow, lavendar, green, pink, peach, white – very pale with strip of red, brown. Archeological presence of landscape – strata, layers.

Giorgio Morandi – simplicity of shapes. The less there is to look at, the more you look at it (a specific edge). Drawing aspect vs. painting aspect – how to find out from different material.