So I checked this
book out of the library called Postmodern Theory. No
dog-eared pages or coffee stains on this bad boy. Though the
book must have been in there for years the pages were still
freshly stuck together from when they were cut down in the print
shop. Im not recommending this dry, pretentious example
of contemporary philosophy, I just want to point out that on
the back cover (as opposed to the front cover) postmodern is
By the time you read
this, the first major American retrospective of Gerhard Richter
will be coming down at the MOMA in New York soon to travel to
Chicago, San Francisco and Washington. Richter is an amazingly
skillful artist who has been displaying actual paintings in
modern galleries since the 60s. His shtick, and he had
to have a shtick, has been to blur the paintings out of focus
with a fan brush. This makes them look even more photographic.
These powerful paintings are usually based on banal pre-existing
images. Richters work is intelligent, noble and was once
part of a two-man school humorously called Capitalist Realism.
He and Sigmar Polke derived the name as a satire of Socialist
Realism. Also in New York this season is Americas
premier art exhibit the Whitney Biennial. (If you cant
make the actual show go to whitney.org to get an idea of the
The Internet proves
to be a great example of how some art is only relevant because
of its association with institutions like the Whitney Biennial.
Some of the art in the show is made exclusively for the net.
And guess what, it sucks compared to so much on the net that
has no pretensions to high-art. This is a repeat of the art
films and video of the past where untalented fine artists had
to compete with true professionals. One of the strangest inclusions
in the Biennial is Chris Ware. Ware is comic book artist. He
draws comic books and sells them in comic shops. The New York
art scene has come a long way baby. Also of note is Roxy Paines
50-foot stainless steel tree in Central Park. If your taste
is for the exotic you might be interested in the work of Zhang
Huan. Zhangs a Chinese artist and it happens to be particularly
hip to be Chinese right now. (Next year its going to be
cool to be African.) Heres a quote from the Whitneys
website: "Although his performances vary considerably in
their final form, they almost always require Zhang to submit
his naked body to extreme duress. In 12 Square Meters,
naked and covered with fish oil and honey he sat for an hour
in the squalor of a fly-infested public toilet." Try that
in Birmingham and youll find yourself in the county jail.
Actually Alabama does have some representation in the Biennial.
The Rural Studio featuring Samuel Mockbee and the Auburn School
of Architecture is one of the more sophisticated features of
Back in Alabama we
just had our recurring art spectacular, the Magic City Art Connection.
Unlike New York, there were no naked bodies in fly-infested
toilets, at least none that called themselves works of art.
But we did have some groovy New Yorky art by MCACs 2002
distinguished artist Jon Coffelt. Jon is best known locally
for his Agnes gallery and as being featured as a prestigious
Absolute Vodka artist. In addition to his photography, Jons
paintings fit well into what has been dubbed the Neo-Geo
movement. The Magic City Art Connection 2002 featured lots
of crafts, photography, one puppet maker and a bit of cartoon
imagery. I like it that artwork that recently would have been
dismissed as low-art cartoons is now universally accepted as
high-art, just as lofty as any found object. Fortunately there
was little abstract painting and primitive art. An interesting
new aesthetic developing in this area is what I like to call
the "Misty Landscape Style." There were at least six
artists at MCAC using this style
bravo. Personally I liked
the genre paintings of Jon Smith depicting patrons in museums
looking at artwork.
Be sure to check
out Nalls work at Monty Stabler galleries. Fred Nall Hollis
is an internationally recognized artist and native of Alabama.
Nall has done us all a great service by championing the cause
of Alabama art like no one before him. I could talk about how
the guy studied under Salvador Dali, how he founded the Nall
Art Association (nature, art and life league) in France or that
hes fabulously wealthy owning nine houses and pals around
with celebrities the likes of Ringo Starr. Nalls an amazing
artist but theres more to him that that. The man has a
lot of cats. I mean a lot of cats. Nall has over 350
cats. So if owning cats could be considered a form of conceptual
art Nall should be in the next Whitney Biennial. Though my experience
tells me these things are pretty much arbitrary.