Archive Page 2



Eileen Agar & Surrealist Games (by jane dávila)

Eileen Agar (1904-1991)

In trying to find a suitable subject for today’s post I came across an interesting female Surrealist. Born in Argentina but living most of her life in England, Eileen Agar was a painter and a sculptor. The extensive use of found objects in her work greatly appeals to me.
Agar-Collective Unconsciousness
Collective Unconscious, Eileen Agar

Continue reading ‘Eileen Agar & Surrealist Games (by jane dávila)’

“Taste” in Art (jane dávila)

French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) has studied taste in relation to socio-economic class and education. His aim was to give “a scientific answer to the old quesions of Kant’s critique of judgement, by seeking in the structure of the social classes the basis of the systems of classification which designate the objects of aesthetic enjoyment.” One of his books, Distinction: A Cultural Critique of the Judgement of Taste, uncovers clear links between class and preferences in art, music, film and theater. His empirical results “show that despite the apparent freedom of choice in the arts, people’s artistic preferences (e.g. classical music, rock, traditional music) strongly correlate with their social position.” (wikipedia) Many artists have successfully marketed to what Bourdieu calls “low taste” and Clement Greenberg called “kitsch”, artists like Norman Rockwell and Thomas Kinkade.

Artistic taste has also been studied by artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid. They surveyed thousands of people from all over the world and, with great irony, created a collection of the Most Wanted Paintings and Least Wanted Paintings by country. Komar and Melamid ask “What would art look like if it were to please the greatest number of people?” Their research shows surprising global similarities, a dislike for the color chartreuse and abstract art, and a strong preference for the color blue and representational landscapes. The survey results were used to create paintings to represent the likes and dislikes of the majority of respondents. For example, what most Americans want in a painting is a landscape with water and mountains, predominantly blue, with a wild animal and a historical subject. The result is a peaceful landscape with George Washington near a river with deer wandering by.

United States Most Wanted
America’s Most Wanted Painting Continue reading ‘“Taste” in Art (jane dávila)’

Art & the Establishment (by jane davila)

There’s been quite a brouhaha over an installation piece commissioned from Swiss artist Christoph Büchel by the Massachussetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams.

Some background on the artist from artleak.org

Swiss artist Christoph Büchel creates hyper-realistic environments that are, in essence, like walking into a mind at work. His detailed installations are three-dimensional renderings of interior spaces and/or situations that often convey extreme psychological mindsets, such as that of a survivalist, a homeless person, or an agoraphobe. These fictitious yet highly believable environments – rooms within rooms – are carefully constructed so that the institutional framework of the art museum and all reference to the gallery context are removed.

A complexity is found in the elaborate detail the artist develops for each project, an artistic sensibility that allows layers of social and political commentary to permeate within a uniquely contemplative space. Büchel locates contradictions and social inequities in the ideological forces dominating society today (global capitalism, unprincipled consumption, religious conservatism, American hegemony) and finds a way through his work to satirize, demystify, and resist these forces by revealing them as constructed realities subject to change.

Christoph Buchel - Hole, 2006 Christoph Buchel – Hole, 2006

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Jacob Lawrence (by jane davila)

Jacob Lawrence: African-American Harlem Renaissance Painter, 1917-2000

While looking for something else on the ‘net I came across an artist with whom I was completely unfamiliar. I find his graphic style very appealing and I can easily see it translated into fiber. The story-telling aspect of his work is also intriguing, it dances on the thin line between fine art and illustration.

Jacob Lawrence, Ironing
Jacob Lawrence, Ironing

“Jacob Lawrence, a figurative painter with an unequaled gift for storytelling, is renowned for visual dramatizations of the black American experience. “- Wadsworth Atheneum

Jacob Lawrence, Story Painter
Jacob Lawrence, Story Painter

Jacob Lawrence has become one of the most acclaimed African American artists of the twentieth century. His work is characterized by small scale tempera and gouache paintings of genre scenes of African Americans and their sociopolitical struggles. His work is often organized through a series, typically accompanied with a simple text which serves as a narrative, based on the artist’s careful research. Lawrence has been classified as a social realist and the style of his work is associated with Cubism. Continue reading ‘Jacob Lawrence (by jane davila)’

Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party (by Jane Davila)

I’m going to do my best with a work and artist who is near and dear to June’s heart. Feel free to jump in, June and anyone else, with more and better insights.

The work is permanently installed at the Brooklyn Museum and is now open to the public. The description of the exhibit:

The Dinner Party, an important icon of 1970s feminist art and a milestone in twentieth-century art, is presented as the centerpiece around which the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is organized. The Dinner Party comprises a massive ceremonial banquet, arranged on a triangular table with a total of thirty-nine place settings, each commemorating an important woman from history. The settings consist of embroidered runners, gold chalices and utensils, and china-painted porcelain plates with raised central motifs that are based on vulvar and butterfly forms and rendered in styles appropriate to the individual women being honored. The names of another 999 women are inscribed in gold on the white tile floor below the triangular table. This permanent installation is enhanced by rotating biographical gallery shows relating to the 1,038 women honored at the table. Pharaohs, Queens, and Goddesses is the first such exhibition.

Judy Chicago The Dinner Party
The Dinner Party, Judy Chicago, 1979

Continue reading ‘Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party (by Jane Davila)’

Rufino Tamayo – (by jane davila)

Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) was a Mexican painter, a contemporary of Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Unlike the political/socialist muralists, Tamayo’s work was determinedly apolitical and was influenced by his independent studies of the modern artists of the day, his subsequent trips to New York and Paris, and his exposure to the art of the Impressionists, the Fauvists, the Cubists, the Surrealists and the Abstract Expressionists. In each case, the influence of these movements informed his art, but did not overtake or subvert it. His Mexican heritage and his lifelong, avid fascination with pre-Colombian art shows in his use of color, his subjects and the texture and the plasticity of his use of paint. He combined modern European painting styles with Mexican folk themes. By a continuous process of assimiliation and change, Tamayo turned his painting into his own visual, metaphorical language.

In Tamayo’s first period we find many still lifes, the Music mural, the Homage to Juarez and other compositions that show a certain affinity, inevitable and natural, with the work of other Mexican artists of that time. But soon he was to give up this style forever and embark on a very different adventure. Between 1926 and 1938 he painted a great many oils and gouaches, still lifes and landscapes: arches, cubes and terraces, to place him in the line of Cezanne. — Octavio Paz

Naturaleza muerta con pie, 1928
Naturaleza muerta con pie, 1928

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Jane Davila. Form, function and the perceived limitations of the medium

I’ve been thinking a lot about the place of art quilting within the larger fine art and fine craft worlds. Some really good points were brought up in comments June, Jaret and others made in response to other posts. I see myself as an artist who happens to work in the medium of quilt as a means of expression. I see baggage attached to the label of the medium and I also see potential in and beyond this label.

Using the word “quilt” raises an expectation in the viewer and I feel it holds a perceived limitation. “Quilt” carries with it an implied function – bedcovering, blanket, etc. “Quilt” also carries an implication of form – three layers, two dimensional, textural surface, double sided. As part of a previous discussion about the choice of “quilt” as medium, we asked what can “quilt” do that other media can’t? Are we exploiting that enough? If we do exploit it, are we challenging the viewer’s expectations? In another medium, there are artists working in embroidery, for example, who have so broken away from the perceived limitations of their medium that it is nearly unrecognizeable. Janet Edmonds immediately comes to mind.

Janet Edmonds

Janet Edmonds

I would love examples of artists pushing quilt this far.

How do artists in other media break away from the perceived limitations of both the form and function of their media? Is it necessary to break away to be taken seriously as artists? Continue reading ‘Jane Davila. Form, function and the perceived limitations of the medium’


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