100 Artists is a yearlong celebration of the 100 artists who have appeared to date in Art21′s award-winning film series Art in the Twenty-First Century. Throughout 2013, we are dedicating two to three days to each artist on our social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and here on the Art21 Blog. Our current featured artist is Julie Mehretu.
Liminal Squared, a major solo exhibition by Julie Mehretu, is on view at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York. Featured are new large-scale paintings and a group of smaller etchings, many of them bearing Mehretu’s signature sea of marks, erasures, smudges, and architectural tracings.
On the occasion of this show, Art21 has released a previously unpublished interview with the artist. Conducted in Mehretu’s Berlin studio in October 2008, she discusses her process and how several different references might be embedded in just one of her paintings. Here’s an excerpt:
Art21: How much does the viewer need to know? How much of the underpinnings do you wish to reveal?
Julie Mehretu: There are different types of information that go into the picture, depending on the painting, and especially in the work now. In certain paintings that information is very readable and it’s just pure geometry—geometric shapes that mimic architecture. So you look at the structure and you can’t really define anything, but you know that it’s really just created out of geometric shapes. Then there’s other work in which I incorporate a lot of specific architectural plans. As the works progress, the more the information is layered in a way that’s hard to decipher what is what. And that’s intentional. It’s almost like a screening out, creating a kind of skin or layer of just this information that we recognize. So if a building is from Baghdad or New York or Cairo is not so important. I don’t necessarily reveal which building is from which place. It’s more that this information is part of the DNA (that’s how I keep thinking about it) of the painting—part of the ancestral makeup of what it is and the information that informs your understanding or your vision of it.
I’m attracted to images, different types of images, and usually that’s because of what’s going on in the world. And because I used to work with this information more directly, I think I’ve become much more well-versed in the language of architecture. So all of that comes into the work in different ways, but I don’t really spell out exactly that this is, for example, an image from Baghdad. This painting is not a description. I want the work to be felt as much as read.
Read the entire interview here.
Liminal Squared continues through June 22, 2013. See more images from the exhibition after the jump.
In this week’s roundup Cao Fei celebrates abundance, Julie Mehretu has two concurrent solo shows, Raymond Pettibon and Judy Pfaff are honored, several artists’ works help recall the year 1993, and much more.
- Cao Fei installed a giant inflatable pig sculpture on the Promenade at West Kowloon (Hong Kong). House of Treasures is meant to be light-hearted while exploring the roots of its projected aura of fun. The work is on view through June 9.
- Julie Mehretu‘s work will be on view at the Marian Goodman Gallery (NYC). Liminal Squared includes a series of new paintings and a suite of five new etchings. According to the gallery, “The works were created over the past three years in New York in the aftermath of events of the Arab Spring which were the point of departure for the monumentally scaled Mogamma (In Four Parts), 2012, recently presented at Documenta (13), 2012, Kassel.” The exhibition will be open to the public May 11 – June 22.
- Julie Mehretu also has her first major solo exhibition in London, at the White Cube Bermondsey. Liminal Squared will include more new paintings, “some of which will be presented within a specially constructed environment designed by David Adjaye in close collaboration with the artist,” the gallery said in a press release. This will run concurrently with the show at the Marian Goodman Gallery. It is on view through July 7.
- Tim Hawkinson is presenting new work at the Pace Gallery (NYC). The self-titled Tim Hawkinson draws inspiration from the artist’s own garden and its sculptures focus on the interplay of movement, gravity, and environment. The exhibition runs through June 29.
- El Anatsui, among others, will be in Abu Dhabi as part of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s Talking Art Series of discussions and workshops. The events will take place May 6 – 8.
- Janine Antoni, Ida Applebroog, Matthew Barney, Ann Hamilton, Mike Kelley, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Paul McCarthy, Gabriel Orozco, Pepón Osorio, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, and Andrea Zittel, among others are featured in a group show at the New Museum (NYC). NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star is “conceived as a time capsule, an experiment in collective memory that attempts to capture a specific moment at the intersection of art, pop culture, and politics.” The work is on view through May 26.
In this week’s roundup, Lynda Benglis manipulates metal, Julie Mehretu and Matthew Ritchie explore diagrams, Shahzia Sikander flows poetic, and more.
- Lynda Benglis‘s work is on view at the Locks Gallery (Philadelphia, PA). Everything Flows features, among other works, the artist’s Pleat pieces. For these, Benglis manipulated fragments of folded mesh and sprayed them with liquid metal. The results are ”buoyantly, ebulliently, kinetically fluid-like giant, festively crinkled, artlessly tied bows undergoing their various twists, turns and knots,” writes art historian Anna Chave in her accompanying essay. The exhibition closes June 15.
- Matthew Ritchie has organized a group show for Andrea Rosen Gallery (New York, NY). The Temptation of the Diagram explores the diagram as an essential mode of artistic practice, and expands on themes that Ritchie studied during his residency at the Getty Research Institute (2012) and recently at Columbia University. Works by Julie Mehretu are included in the show, which closes April 27.
- Shahzia Sikander was commissioned by curator Yuko Hasegawa to create site specific work for the 2013 Sharjah Biennial (United Arab Emirates). Poetry is a key theme across Sikander’s contributions, including a moving image installation and public performance. The Biennal closes May 13.
- Focus: Barry McGee, now on view at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (Forth Worth, TX), focuses on McGee‘s development since the early 1990s. Organized by curator Andrea Karnes, she will be in conversation with McGee on April 23 at 7pm. The event is free and open to the public. The exhibition closes June 2.
- Cindy Sherman‘s retrospective exhibition has traveled to the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas, TX). Cindy Sherman traces the artist’s career from the mid-1970s to the present, and features 160 photographs from her various bodies of work. The exhibition closes June 9.
- Cindy Sherman, William Wegman, and Kalup Linzy all have work on view in the two-part exhibition Serious Laughs: Art, Politics, Humor at the Ulster Performing Arts Center (Kingston, NY). By transforming the theater into a gallery space, the UPAC calls attention to their “role as the arts anchor of the City of Kingston.” The first installment of the exhibition is already on display at the Kingston Public Library. The second installment opens at the UPAC on April 20 and runs through May 12.
- Trenton Doyle Hancock will lecture at the San Francisco Art Institute (San Francisco, CA) on April 15 at 7:30pm. Hancock will address his transformation of traditional elements such as color, language, and pattern into characters and subplots. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited and advance registration is recommended.
- Maya Lin recently gave a talk at the Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH). In anticipation of her presentation, the Wexner released a new video about Lin’s important project Groundswell (1993). Watch below.
Artists today program forms more than they compose them: rather than transfigure a raw element (blank canvas, clay, etc.), they remix available forms and make use of data. In a universe of products for sale, preexisting forms, signals already emitted, buildings already constructed, paths marked out by their predecessors… –Nicolas Bourriaud, 2001
In my fourth and final post covering New Frontier at Sundance 2013, I explore the creative and innovative exploration of augmented space—which refers to technologies, objects, or symbols that overlay physical space with information. It is a new type of collage that makes use of a broad collection of forms and techniques. Keiichi Matsuda provides a good starting point from both technological and aesthetic perspectives.
[Augmented Space] is a paradigm that succeeds Virtual Reality; instead of disembodied occupation of virtual worlds, the physical and virtual are seen together as a contiguous, layered and dynamic reality. –Keiichi Matsuda
Augmented space is a method of creating a space within a space, or merging two or more dimensions in a single artwork. In his essay Postproduction (2001), Nicolas Bourriaud explores the mashup of images that contemporary artists project onto walls, or overlay on physical surfaces as a framework for innovative forms and narratives. In Datamosh (2011) Yung Jake layers compression artifacts and technology as a form of art. Cityscape 2095 (2012) is the result of a collaboration between Yannick Jacquet (aka Legoman), Swiss illustrator Marc Ferrario (aka Mandril), and sound designer Thomas Vaquié. These artists merge multiple dimensions by showing the passing of a day in fast-forward using drawings, video projections, and sound. Cityscape 2095 puts the spectator at the summit of a tower facing the horizon.
Imagine being on the observation deck of a tall skyscraper, looking out over the city below. Jacquet/Legoman and Ferrario/Mandril use a mixture of architectural influences to co-author an urban text that feels strangely familiar but is also impossible to locate. It is a representation of the artists’ utopia—a futuristic world within the real world, or a physical space augmented by the virtual. The idea was to show the passing of a day in an imaginary city in fast-forward. In the early hours of the day, the scene is sparse and line-based; but, as time passes, the imagery grows until it becomes urban semiotic overload—a desert of the (physical and hyper) Real.
During a recent conversation I was asked, “Where do you come up with the questions featured in the Art21 educator guides?” I didn’t know what to say. The “Before Viewing” questions, which promote active viewing of Art21 films, are a combination of long conversations and focused emphasis on particular thematic strands. Collectively, we try to come up with questions that will not only promote discussion about contemporary art in the classroom but also stimulate thinking about the big questions featured in the segments. For example, if you simply look through the most recent seasons, you’ll come across questions such as:
- What are the qualities or characteristics that define something as art, versus something that is not art? How and why are these definitions established? (John Baldessari, season 5).
- How are rituals created and how do they change over time? (Pierre Huyghe, season 4).
- What are the differences and similarities between making a portrait and a landscape? (Catherine Opie, season 6).
- How can the process of drawing and painting, like sculpture, be both additive and subtractive? (Julie Mehretu, season 5).
- What is the role of the viewer of an artwork, or the reader of literature? How are these roles similar and/or different? (Tabaimo, season 6).
If you are seeking a mountain of good questions and ideas to give you a boost in the classroom, Art21 educator guides are a great place to start, and they are available as FREE downloads here. You are also sure to enjoy the way Before, During and After viewing questions make the process of sharing Art21 films more productive. Afterward, “Create” suggestions allow for students to make material sense of their learning, as well as articulate how viewing Art21 films changes their approach to making art.
There are lots of phenomenal reasons for working with Art21 teaching materials. Art21 educator guides can make teaching with contemporary art more enjoyable for teachers and students alike.
In this week’s roundup El Anatsui’s recycled abstraction, Josiah McElheny’s abstract body, Julie Mehretu’s explores drawing as abstraction, and more.
- El Anatsui‘s complex tapestry-like sculpture is on view in the Bloch Lobby at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO). Dusasa I debuted at the 2007 Venice Biennale and entered the museum’s collection in early 2008. To construct the piece, Anatsui collected thousands of recycled aluminum liquor-bottle tops and the strips that were tied together using fine copper wire. The title comes from two Ewe words, du and sasa, meaning a fusion of disparate elements on a monumental scale.
- Josiah McElheny‘s new work is on display at White Cube (London). Interactions of the Abstract Body presents a large and varied body of work that looks at how fashion and modernism have intersected and influenced each other through the common language of the body. The gallery features transparent glass reliefs that are partly reflective. Viewers and performers peer into and become reflected in these forms, so that bodies and implied bodies will multiply, creating a complex, intangible sense of space. The exhibition runs through January 12, 2013.
- Julie Mehretu and other artists have work on view at Tate Liverpool. Tracing the Century presents work based on the human body and the inner self, opening up the conversation between figuration and abstraction that characterized art in the 20th century. A sequence of works on paper by Paul Cézanne, Paul Klee, Richard Hamilton, Lee Bontecou and Mehretu proposes drawing as a means of conjuring imaginary worldscapes. This work is on view until January 20, 2013.
- James Turrell leads the way in a collaborative project between Pace London and Cuadro Fine Art (Dubai). The Substance of Light features iconic works by Turrell and other pioneers of the Light and Space movement, which emerged in the United States in the 1960s. Show highlights include the seven reflective holograms made by Turrell between 2006 and 2008, based on his seminal Projection Pieces from the 1960s. The show closes January 6, 2013.
- Allora & Calzadilla celebrate the launch by Kaldor Public Art Projects of Project#26: Allora & Calzadilla’s Stop, Repair, Prepare at the State Library of Victoria (Australia). Their presented works integrate sound, performance and sculpture to create a captivating new experience for audiences. The exhibition runs through December 6. Videos of the artists in preparation for the show can be seen online via ArtInfo.
- Barry McGee‘s conversation with Chris Johanson marks the first time the two artists have gotten together in 12 years. This discussion can be read in its entirety at Paper Magazine.
- Charles Atlas‘s collaboration with Antony and the Johnsons includes a performance of Hope There’s Someone and various conversations featured in the film Turning. A preview can be viewed online.
In 1959, young Kathan Brown stepped off of a freighter in San Francisco with an antique intaglio press and expert printing skills to match. Freshly trained in the French hand-wiping technique of intaglio printing (which, she frequently notes, differs in its precision from the expressive approach then dominating American color etching) at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, Brown possessed tireless dedication to her chosen medium. She remains today a self-proclaimed “proselytizer for etching” (e-mail interview) and this passion has guided both her professional activities as well as that of her press. It also transformed the history of intaglio printmaking.
The art scene in the Bay Area was small but robust when she opened Crown Point for business in a Richmond storefront in 1962. In addition to a handful of professional museums and galleries, there were a number of important artists on faculty at the newly renamed San Francisco Art Institute (formerly the California School of Fine Arts); among the most prominent of these was Richard Diebenkorn. As luck would have it, he was looking for a technique that could provide a fresh perspective to his work and decided to further explore drypoint, a medium in which he had previously dabbled. He had heard about Crown Point’s weekly life drawing sessions, where participants drew directly on a metal plate with a needle, and called Brown to join the group. The printing did not interest him (it was a task he happily assigned to Brown), but the challenge of working on the reflective and unwieldy surface did. After awhile, Brown offered some prepared plates for his use in the studio. The result was the press’s first publication, 41 Etchings Drypoints, issued in 1965 in an edition of 25, which began a long relationship between printer and painter that endured nearly three decades until Diebenkorn’s death, producing some of the most astounding color aquatints of our time, including Large Bright Blue, 1980, Green, 1986, and High Green, versions I and II, 1992.
Bricolage is a French word, with no direct equivalent in English. It connotes the process of finding out how to make things work, not from standard rules or methods but from messing around with whatever materials are on hand. This term suggests a sense of improvisation and tinkering that transforms the context and meaning of these objects, such as in works created by Sarah Sze. This is an important concept in contemporary art production and entrepreneurship. Michael Rush notes postmodern aesthetics discourse regarding how recent social-economic changes produce particular structures of feeling or cultural logics that are reflected in new art forms. Postmodernism also implies that we’ve run out of things to say. I think that we need to cast a much broader net to capture the spirit of the moment we’re in now; and expand definitions to capture innovative ideas such as the free use of digital images, objects and information. Holland Wilde writes that a bricoleur produces a “pieced-together set of representations that is fitted to the specifics of a complex situation…(it) is pragmatic, strategic and self-reflexive.” This blog post highlights artists and works as part of evolving creative practices that explore the spatial, social and cultural (technovernacular) dimensions of the material and virtual in a variety of ways.
I was invited to write a piece about Colliding Complexities_Extreme feats of the New York_New Aesthetic currently at view at Storefront Bushwick that features New York artists whose works navigate complex methods of production in the physical and digital realms. Their re-deployment of the New Aesthetic has as its core theme the “utilization of technological tools to augment our view of the contemporary world.” The New Aesthetic is understood as New Media without the “Media,” and, according to Bruce Sterling, concerns itself with “an explosion of the digital into the physical.” The art in Colliding Complexities exemplifies this concept from the perspective of “digital native” artists Pedro Barbeito, [dNASAb], Cliff Evans, Carla Gannis, Shane Hope, Michael Rees, John F. Simon Jr, Vargas-Suarez Universal, Oliver Warden and Marius Watz (who was recently interviewed for the Art21 Blog). Sterling writes that artists are “frontiersmen” of the “NEW” in their decision to adopt the tools of the “NOW,” to encourage further discourse and collaboration in the delineation of what constitutes the New Aesthetic in contemporary art.
In this week’s roundup Cai Guo-Qiang is a 2012 prize laureate, Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman are honored, Laurie Anderson performs in Albuquerque, several artist celebrate Warhol, Walton Ford designs the Stones’ album cover and more.
- Cai Guo-Qiang won the Praemium Imperiale, an international arts prize patronized by Japan’s ruling dynasty, worth 15 million yen ($192,600). This is a global arts prize awarded annually by the Japan Art Association.
- Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman will be honored at the Hammer Museum’s 10th anniversary Gala in the Garden, which will include a performance by singer Katy Perry. Actor Steve Martin will present the tribute to Sherman and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow will make the presentation for Kruger. This year’s Gala is set for October 6.
- Carrie Mae Weems is having her first comprehensive retrospective, which opened at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts (Nashville, TN). Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video includes some 225 photographs, videos and installations, from her earliest, never-before-published ’70s documentary photographs to brand-new pieces. It will travel to the Portland Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cantor Center for Visual Arts and the Guggenheim Museum. The Frist show is on view through January 13.
- Kalup Linzy celebrated Andy Warhol at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC). Linzy performed as Kaye (who the artist refers to as the “Romantic Loner”) in a video and live performance that comprised this weekend’s Warhol Cabaret. The event was part of the kickoff for the museum’s new exhibition Regarding Warhol which also features work by Ai Weiwei, John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Vija Celmins, Alfredo Jaar, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Glenn Ligon, Allan McCollum, Bruce Nauman, Catherine Opie, Cindy Sherman, Hiroshi Sugimoto and many more. The exhibition runs through December 31.
- Walton Ford joins a list that has included Andy Warhol, Guy Peellaert and Peter Corriston by designing the Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary album. For the cover of The Rolling Stones, GRRR!, the compilation album due out in November, Ford recontextualised John Pasche’s iconic lips-and-lolling-tongue logo.
- Laurie Anderson is a featured speaker at the Inter-society for Electronic Arts (ISEA2012) conference in Albuquerque, NM. For A Conversation with Laurie Anderson & Tom Leeser Anderson will speak with Leeser, co-leader for The Cosmos: Radical Cosmologies theme. This event takes place on September 24.
High political season is underway with a particular sense of urgency this year, and it seems that nearly every aspect of American culture has joined in the debate. In keeping with a historical trend that began during the Enlightenment, prints are playing a role in today’s political arguments as a means of disseminating the views of artists and rallying the people. Recent releases of note are the Occuprint Portfolio 2012 and Artists for Obama 2012. Both are fundraisers to support their eponymous causes: the former was issued earlier this year through the Booklyn Artists Alliance–the latter debuted last night at Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles and will also be presented in its New York gallery in Chelsea later this month.
While these two print portfolios are both political in their aims, other similarities are few. The facture and content of Occuprint, as may be anticipated, reflects the values and concerns of the grass-roots Occupy Movement that spawned it. Issued in an edition of 100 with a net fundraising goal of approximately $30,000, the thirty screenprints it contains were selected from the thousands of submissions that have been posted for free download on the Occuprint.org website. Since last fall, these have been sent in by relatively unknown designers from all over the world in support of the various political aims that have sprung from the Occupy Movement, including We are the 99%, the ballooning costs of higher education, the subprime mortgage crisis, as well as May Day. The portfolio’s production was supported by pre-publication sales to twenty public institutions, including a number of top universities, and proceeds benefit the activities of Occuprint.org, a non-profit affinity group that operates independently of the Occupy Movement.