Friday, February 7, 2014

Mentioned in class

Hi all, Aaron here. A lot of names and references can come up during class, and you probably aren't familiar with all of them. I thought it would be fun try to collect and post a few of them here in case you would like to get a quick review or overview; note that not all of these people (and things) are important for this class, but some of them are, and you might find any one of them to be interesting or inspiring.

You can also look through this for a couple of my thoughts that might be helpful for your upcoming projects (specifically Errol Morris, the performance artists, and my simple example of artistic lineage/genealogy). Mostly, I just took the lazy route copying from and posting links to Wikipedia articles, but as these are well known people, the articles are pretty well written.  Hopefully they do just fine as a launching point for anything you intended to look up but forgot to write down.

Art Critics

"Clement Greenberg, occasionally writing under the pseudonym K. Hardesh, (January 16, 1909 – May 7, 1994) was an American essayist known mainly as an influential visual art critic closely associated with American Modern art of the mid-20th century. In particular, he is best remembered for his promotion of the abstract expressionist movement and was among the first published critics to praise the work of painter Jackson Pollock." (Wikipedia)

Obviously, you've read some of his writing by now.

"Susan Sontag (/ˈsɒntɑːɡ/; January 16, 1933 – December 28, 2004) was an American writer and filmmaker, professor, literary icon, and political activist. Beginning with the publication of her 1964 essay "Notes on 'Camp'", Sontag became an international cultural and intellectual celebrity." (Wikipedia)

She was brought up in class when we were talking about photography and Errol Morris (see below under Photographers and Filmmakers).

"Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin (German: [ˈvaltɐ ˈbɛnjamiːn];[1] 15 July 1892 – 26 September 1940)[2] was a German literary critic, philosopher, social critic, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist. Combining elements of German idealism or Romanticism, historical materialism andJewish mysticism, Benjamin made enduring and influential contributions to aesthetic theory and Western Marxism, and is associated with the Frankfurt School." (Wikipedia)

His essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" is a very important writing that you should probably familiarize yourself with if you haven't read it or don't know it yet. You can read it online here.

"Barry Schwabsky is the art critic of The Nation. Schwabsky has been writing about art for the magazine since 2005." (The Nation)

A major contemporary art critic. He was mentioned as part of the discussion about how photography changed the nature of images, and how images function in contemporary painting.

"Jerry Saltz (born March 19, 1951) is an American art critic." (Wikipedia)

Another well known (and controversial) contemporary art critic. 


"Bridget Louise Riley CH CBE (born 24 April 1931 in Norwood, London) is an English painter who is one of the foremost exponents of Op art.[1]" (from Wikipedia)

"Jenny Saville (born 1970 in Cambridge, England) is a contemporary British painter and associated with the Young British Artists. She is known for her large-scale painted depictions of naked women. Saville works and lives in Oxford, England.[1]" (from Wikipedia)

"Philip Guston, born Phillip Goldstein (June 27, 1913 – June 7, 1980) was a painter andprintmaker in the New York School, which included many of the abstract expressionists, such asJackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. In the late 1960s Guston helped to lead a transition from abstract expressionism to neo-expressionism in painting, abandoning the so-called "pure abstraction" of abstract expressionism in favor of more cartoonish renderings of various personal symbols and objects." (from Wikipedia)

Photographers and Filmmakers

"Eadweard James Muybridge (/ˌɛdwərd ˈmbrɪ/; 9 April 1830 – 8 May 1904, birth name Edward James Muggeridge) was an English photographer important for his pioneering work in photographic studies of motion, and early work in motion-picture projection." (from Wikipedia)

"Anna-Lou "Annie" Leibovitz (/ˈlbəvɪts/; born October 2, 1949) is an American portraitphotographer." (from Wikipedia

"Errol Mark Morris (born February 5, 1948) is an American film director." (Wikipedia)

You might want to look for a extra minute or two at Morris. He was brought up in class for his book Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography, which is about "the relationship between photographs and the real world they supposedly record."

The first film made by Errol Morris was The Thin Blue Line, a 1988 documentary about a man who at that time was serving a life imprisonment sentence for a crime he did not commit in 1976; the release of this film eventually led to that man's release. The trailer:

Besides this extraordinary achievement, the film is also credited with "pioneering the style of modern crime-scene reenactments." Here is a NY Times article where Morris writes about reenactment, citing this movie: Play it Again Sam (Re-enactments, Part One)

Morris is therefore well known for looking at the past for clues like a detective, and trying to reimagine or reenact it. Sound similar to an assignment in this class to anyone? 

Darkon was a documentary film mentioned in class about LARPing (Live-Action Role-Playing), another re-enactment related activity. Here is the trailer:

Performance Artists

"John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American composer, music theorist, writer, and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century.[1][2][3][4] He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage's romantic partner for most of their lives.[5][6]
Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4′33″, which is performed in the absence of deliberate sound; musicians who present the work do nothing aside from being present for the duration specified by the title. The content of the composition is not "four minutes and 33 seconds of silence," as is sometimes assumed, but rather the sounds of the environment heard by the audience during performance.[7][8] The work's challenge to assumed definitions about musicianship and musical experience made it a popular and controversial topic both in musicology and the broader aesthetics of art and performance." (Wikipedia)

"Mercier Philip "Merce" Cunningham (April 16, 1919–July 26, 2009) was an American dancer and choreographer who was at the forefront of the American avant-garde for more than 50 years." (Wikipedia)

Here is a brief video showing a Cage and Cunningham collaboration, and a NY Times video about Cunningham, explaining his significance and showing some more of the dance he choreographed:

"Allan Kaprow (August 23, 1927 – April 5, 2006) was an American painterassemblagist and a pioneer in establishing the concepts of performance art. He helped to develop the "Environment" and "Happening" in the late 1950s and 1960s, as well as their theory." (Wikipedia)

From this short online article: 
" ... [Kaprow] described art museums in Arts Magazine in 1967 (quoted here in The New Yorker from November of the same year): “a fuddy-duddy remnant from another era… Modern museums should be turned into swimming pools and night clubs… or emptied and left as environmental sculptures.”
Just in cast you can’t guess where Kaprow was coming from, his essay was titled “Death in the Museum.” Art, it seemed, was dead, and museums were graveyards. But Happenings were alive and well, and that’s what mattered." (Allan Kaprow and the History of Happenings)

(Most of Kaprow's Happenings where undocumented, but here is an image from one in Ithaca, NY, near Cornell University in 1964)

(SIMPLE EXAMPLE OF ARTISTIC GENEALOGY: Rebecca mentioned that you should try to learn about the artistic genealogy of the artists you are researching. If any of you saw the Dancing Around the Bride show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art last year, you saw an example of this, as the show was based on the genealogy of Marcel Duchamp (in other words, the artists like John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Robert Rauschenberg who were strongly inspired by Duchamp, and based much of their work on his ideas). Allan Kaprow was once a student of John Cage, and was clearly strongly influenced by his ideas; an artistic lineage of Duchamp-Cage-Kaprow could therefore be constructed. But keep in mind that artists find inspiration in many different places, so mapping out these influences could be much more complex.)

Also Mentioned

Vermeer in Bosnia, a book by Lawrence Weschler

White Light/Black Rain an HBO documentary about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Michel Foucault's term "heterotopia" (good luck understanding this one, I'm still not sure that I do)