Art Vent

Letting the Fresh Air In


Art Vent Letting the Fresh Air In

August 3, 2011

In preparation for my

Untitled, ca. 1916. Oil on canvas, 20 7/8 x 20 7/8 inches (53 x 53 cm). The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Acquisition confirmed in 2009 by agreement with the Heirs of Kazimir Malevich  76.2553.42

March 15, 2011

In times like these, it’s important to think about the things we can be grateful for. I, for one, was pleased to realize, during my recent perambulations through the art fairs and Chelsea, that the artistic infatuation with images from the media has finally subsided. For well over a decade, almost everything you saw in the galleries was a riff on advertising, product packaging, cartoons, or old TV sitcoms and now—pouf! —it’s gone. May it R.I.P.

So does this signal a move to more original imagery? New forms? One hopes! There are, however, still a few impulses left over from the last century that we could happily retire:

--Stuffed animals.

--Porn (although rediscovered by every generation, it tends to always look the same) and/or art that flaunts the artist's sexual orientation (a.k.a. “sexual identity”).

--Black plastic garbage bags (favored by students for their economy of means; hopefully David Hammons is marking the end of their run as an art material).

--Anything behind a curtain or requiring headphones.

--Collections of nostalgic objects from the artist's life.

--Random notations about same.

--The above, accompanied by images that suggest the artist has not developed artistically or emotionally since the eighth grade.

--Scatter art.

And while we're at it, let's also call for a moratorium on:

--Sequins and glitter.

--Anything that references women's craftwork from the 19th century, including but not limited to, knitting and crocheting.

--Images of suburbia designed to underscore its bleakness or express the artist's fond or not-so-fond childhood memories of suburban life.

And finally…I can’t believe I’m writing this in 2011…survey shows that suggest, inaccurately, that men alone were the dominant forces in any given movement. Case in point: “Malevich and the American Legacy” at Gagosian uptown. It was curated by a woman, Andrea Crane, yet of 20 or so artists, only one is female: Agnes Martin. Surely it would not have been a stretch to include Jo Baer, Ann Truitt, or Dorothea Rockburne. Further, neither Karen Rosenberg in the Times nor Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker picked up on this.

I welcome additions to my list.

Mystic Suprematism, 1920-27
Oil on canvas
39 3/8 x 23 5/8 inches (100.5 x 60 cm)

Perhaps Malevich was sending a secret message of solidarity: