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Panoptic Press || Artistic Visualisation

A window into a small selection of art historical as well as artist’s talks and interviews sourced from YouTubes growing archive of the discipline.

Jeff Wall Photographs 1996-2013

Vered Maimon: ‘Most importantly, Crary demonstrated, following Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, how any notion of an observer, and in particular the modern observer, cannot be simply located and identified within the realm of art and models of representation, but has to be seen as directly linked to broad formations of knowledge and specific practices of power. He thus stated that ‘the observer is actually just one effect of the construction of a new kind of subject or individual in the nineteenth century’. The idea that there is one model of beholding and an observer that exists strictly within the realm of art is simply not tenable from a historical point of view, and the same goes for a transhistorical idea of the ‘pictorial’, which ignores the fact that history presents many different forms of visual intelligibility. That is, it is only from a very limited [‘art photography’] and inherently ahistorical perspective [beholding as an unqualified act] that one can argue that painting, photography and film necessarily share the same set of aesthetic concerns’. [1]

Michael Fried Tableau

Mick Finch: It was in Michael Fried’s recent book Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before that the term tableau came into focus in a significant way. In chapter 6 Fried extensively uses Jean François Chevrier’s formulation of tableau, in relation to photography, as a defining term for his own understanding of what is at work in the large scale photography he discusses. Some interesting distinctions arise out of Fried’s analysis of Chevrier’s formulation. The English translation of Chevrier’s text used picture form in place of tableau. Fried states he prefers tableau to picture, I think mainly because the photographers he is discussing factor in, the support, framing and display as material to the work as a whole; for example – light boxes in the case of Jeff Wall’s work. Chevrier’s position is perhaps more clear in his description of this genre of large-scale photography as being an object-image. translation of Chevrier’s text used picture form in place of tableau. Fried states he prefers tableau to picture, I think mainly because the photographers he is discussing factor in, the  support, framing and display as material to the work as a whole; for example – light boxes in the case of Jeff Wall’s work.  Chevrier’s position is perhaps more clear in his description of this genre of large-scale photography as being an object-image. [2]

David Hockney Secret Knowledge

A segue to Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters by David Hockney, [who] ‘starts from a conviction that Ingres used a camera lucida – basically a small prism on a stalk – to draw rapid portrait likenesses on paper. However the big questions lie in painters’ use of the camera obscura to cast images of the real world on to a darkened wall. [The book and film] presents a series of simple but immensely suggestive technical notes on a series of paintings, especially on the qualities of perspective or proportion or finish that give clues to how they were made. Any medium or technique for making art creates a set of possibilities and limits that bear on the artist’s activity at every point and are inseparable from what is achieved. Some of Hockney’s best thoughts on the optics implicit in the art are almost thrown away here. The richness and precision that a projected image helped make possible in painting, he remarks, also involved the painter in another kind of tyranny or falsification, that of the monocular view of the single lens, unlike the binocular vision of the human eyes’. [3]

Lucien Freud Standing by the Rags

Adrian Searle: ‘At the heart of Lucian Freud’s work is the confrontation between himself and others, himself and painting. His painting’s realism is all artifice. They are perverse in their complications, their studied theatricality. His art was in its way as mannered as Francis Bacon’s [with whom he had a terrible and irrevocable falling-out], and his public persona was just as much a construction. Freud liked to appear dangerous and unknowable, to men at least. He could seduce and threaten. His art has authority, even though he seemed forever stuck in a postwar London of peeling stucco and disappointed lives’. [4]

Nan Goldin

MoMA: ‘Comprising almost 700 snapshot-like portraits sequenced against an evocative music soundtrack, Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is a deeply personal narrative, formed out of the artist’s own experiences around Boston, New York, Berlin, and elsewhere in the late 1970s, 1980s, and beyond. The Ballad is itself a kind of downtown opera; its protagonists—including the artist herself—are captured in intimate moments of love and loss. They experience ecstasy and pain through sex and drug use. “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is the diary I let people read,” Goldin wrote. “The diary is my form of control over my life. It allows me to obsessively record every detail. It enables me to remember.” The Ballad developed through multiple improvised live performances, for which Goldin ran through the slides by hand and friends helped prepare the soundtrack—from Maria Callas to The Velvet Underground—for an audience not unlike the subjects of the pictures’. [5]

Appropriation

‘Appropriation is the intentional borrowing, copying, and alteration of preexisting images and objects. It is a strategy that has been used by artists for millennia, but took on new significance in mid-20th-century America and Britain with the rise of consumerism and the proliferation of popular images through mass media outlets from magazines to television’. [6] ‘Whatever you want to call it, artists have been copying since time immemorial. We look into the history of the practice, and share our theories of why it is done, and what it can offer us’: Joanna Fiduccia. ‘The Art Assignment is an educational video series that explores art and art history through the lens of the present. This art education is brightly-lit, energizing, and most of all relevant‘. [7]

Jackson Pollock

‘To borrow critic Harold Rosenberg’s words, Pollock had re-imagined the canvas not as “a space in which to reproduce, re-design, analyze, or ‘express’ an object.. [but as] an arena in which to act.” And it was a short step from this realization to interpreting Pollock’s balletic moves around the canvas as a species of performance art. Since then, Pollock’s reputation has only increased. The subject of many biographies, a movie biopic, and major retrospectives, he has become not only one of the most famous symbols of the alienated modern artist, but also an embodiment for critics and historians of American modernism in its finest hour’. [8] The Art Assignment. You’ve heard of Jackson Pollock and know of his infamous ‘drip paintings’, but what is it that you’re supposed to do when you look at his work today? Why did it cause shockwaves in 1947, and what does it mean now? We explore the life, evolution, and legacy of Jackson Pollock. [9]

Kazimir Malevich

‘The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presented Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde, with selections from the Khardzhiev and Costakis collections, the largest survey in twenty years devoted to the work of the Russian avant-garde pioneer Kazimir Malevich (1879–1935). The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam holds the largest collection of Malevich’s work outside of Russia, which was the subject of a large-scale exhibition at the museum in 1989. Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde is a tribute to the artist and his contemporaries, as well as the culmination of 2013 as the year celebrating Dutch–Russian relations in the Netherlands.Not only an artist, Malevich was an influential teacher and a passionate advocate of the “new” art. The show is a tribute to the Russian avant-garde of the early 20th century, with Malevich as its focal point. Although best known for his purely abstract work, he was inspired by diverse art movements of his day, including Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, and Cubism; his own visual language was also influenced by Russian icon painting and folk art. Through oil paintings, gouaches, drawings, and sculptures, the exhibition traces the rich variety of his oeuvre. All the phases in Malevich’s career are on view, from his Impressionist period to his iconic Suprematist phase—his Black Square was its most radical consequence—to the lesser-known figurative works that followed’. [10]

Yayoi Kusama

‘Yayoi Kusama’s artwork ranges from works on paper featuring intense semi-abstract imagery, to soft sculpture known as Accumulations, to her Infinity Net paintings, made up of carefully repeated arcs of paint built up into large patterns. Since 1977 Kusama has lived voluntarily in a psychiatric institution, and much of her work has been marked with obsessiveness and a desire to escape from psychological trauma. In an attempt to share her experiences, she creates installations that immerse the viewer in her obsessive vision of endless dots and nets or infinitely mirrored space. At the centre of the art world in the 1960s, she came into contact with artists including Donald Judd, Andy Warhol, Joseph Cornell and Claes Oldenburg, influencing many along the way. She has traded on her identity as an ‘outsider’ in many contexts – as a female artist in a male-dominated society, as a Japanese person in the Western art world, and as a victim of her own neurotic and obsessional symptoms. After achieving fame and notoriety with groundbreaking art happenings and events, she returned to her country of birth and is now Japan’s most prominent contemporary artist’. [11]


Gerhard Richter

Robert Storr: ‘In 1959, Gerhard Richter visited Documenta II in Kassel. The exhibition was one of a series of surveys of international modern and contemporary art intended to fill in the blanks in German cultural history created by the 12-year blackout of the Third Reich and to present vanguard painting and sculpture condemned by authorities in the Communist Bloc. There, for the first time, Richter saw many artists about whom he had heard and many altogether unknown to him. Among those who impressed him most were Lucio Fontana and Jackson Pollock. Two years later, shortly before the Berlin Wall was erected, Richter abandoned his secure and “promising” future in Dresden and slipped over the border to West Berlin. On the advice of a friend who had made the move ahead of him, Richter enrolled in the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf. That same year, Joseph Beuys was named professor of monumental sculpture at the academy, and though Richter always kept his distance from him, Beuys was henceforth an increasingly important presence in the burgeoning art worlds of Düsseldorf and Cologne’. [12]

Cy Twombly at Tate Modern

‘Tate’s Director Nicholas Serota gives us a behind the scenes tour of the Cy Twombly exhibition at Tate Modern, as he makes the final adjustments to the hang just before opening. A long-standing fan, Serota talks about Twombly’s technique, his relationship to Turner, and how the artist, now in his eighties, is still producing some of the most vital work of his career. One of the most highly regarded painters working today and a foremost figure among the generation of American artists that includes Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. Twombly rose to prominence through a distinctive style characterised by scribbles and vibrantly daubed paint. This is his first solo retrospective in fifteen years, and provides an overview of his work from the 1950s to now. Twombly emerged as a painter at the height of Abstract Expressionism, then in 1957 he left America for Italy, where he drew inspiration from European literature and classical culture. At the heart of the exhibition is Twombly’s work exploring the cycles associated with seasons, nature and the passing of time’. [13]


Jasper Johns

‘In over a 60 year period involved in the production of art Jasper Johns asks the viewer to re-consider the familiar world around us which we take for granted such as flags, numbers, maps and targets. He selects, animates and re-interprets ordinary images and objects in his art, things he says ‘the mind already knows’. Johns shares many interests with Robert Rauschenberg and is very influenced by the artist Marcel Duchamp, the musician John Cage and the choreographer Merce Cunningham. With a contribution from the exhibition curator Dr Roberta Bernstein, Grace and Joshua focus on some key works which illustrate his style, method and ideas’. [14]

Robert Rauschenberg at Tate Modern

‘Robert Rauschenberg at Tate Modern shows how the artist worked across printing, photography, painting, assemblage, technology and performance. He remains one of the most influential American artists of the 20th Century whose achievement is still visible in contemporary art. He claimed to be working in the gap between art and life and links historic Dada artists like Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters with artists working today. The exhibition runs at Tate Modern before transferring to the Museum Of Modern Art in New York City’. [15]

Chuck Close

‘This retrospective exhibition of the work of Chuck Close, featuring the monumental, psychologically charged portraits of anonymous sitters and distinguished fellow artists for which he is best known, includes some 80 paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs from all phases of the artist’s career. Close (American, b. 1940) first came to prominence in the 1970s with his great portraits, based on passport-style photographs, painted in thousands of tiny increments with an airbrush. Although Close has focused exclusively on similarly formatted portraits ever since, he has developed them through a broad variety of techniques and mediums’. [16]

Neri Oxman

‘Head of the Mediated Matter research group at the MIT Media Lab, an architect and designer, Neri Oxman leads the search for ways in which digital fabrication technologies interact with natural environments and the biological world. Oxman’s approach, termed “Material Ecology,” spans biology, computation, materials and digital fabrication. Her works are included in permanent collections in museums worldwide including the MoMA, Centre Pompidou, the Boston MFA and the Smithsonian Institution.’ [17]

Gustav Metzger

‘Born in 1926, Gustav Metzger developed the concept of Auto-Destructive Art where destruction was part of the process of creating the work. In this TateShots the artist reflects on his long and influential career. Themes of political activism and engagement are heavily rooted in his work. He arrived in Britain as a refugee after losing several members of his family in the Holocaust and was associated with protests against American rocket bases in the UK as well as campaigns for nuclear disarmament. He also went to prison for encouraging mass non-violent civil disobedience. This new arrangement of his work currently on display at Tate Britain reveals how auto-destructive art emerged out of painting and sculpture as much as it communicated Metzger’s activism’. [18]

Further Reading, Viewing and References:

[1] Maimon, Vered. Michael Fried’s Modernist Theory of Photography. History of Photography, Vol 34:4, 387-395, 2010. Background image: detail, Jeff Wall, After “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue, Transparency in light box, 174.0×250.5cm, 1999-2000.

[2] Finch, Mick. The tableau Project, Introduction to Symposium 1. taken from http://tableauproject, accessed 27-12-2017.

[3] Robb, Peter. Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters, David Hockney, Art and Design Reviews, The Guardian, 20 October 2001, accessed 27 December 2017.

[4] Searle, Adrian. Lucian Freud’s Perverse Depictions of Magnificent Muck. Art and Design Reviews, The Guardian, 22 July 2011, accessed 27 December 2017. Background image: detail, Lucien Freud, Standing by the Rags, Oil on canvas, 168.9×138.4 cm, 1988-89.

[5] MoMA, Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, The Museum of Modern Art, 11 June 2016 through 16 April 2017, accessed 27 December 2017.

[6] MoMA Learning, taken from https://www.moma.org, accessed 1/1/2018.

[7] The Art Assignment, taken from http://www.theartassignment.com/, accessed 28 December 2017.

[8] Pollock, Jackson. The Art Story, taken from http://www.theartstory.org, accessed 1/1/2018.

[9] Pollock, Jackson. The Art Assignment, taken from https://www.youtube.com, accessed 1/1/2018. Background image: detail, Jackson Pollock, One/ Number 31, Oil and enamel paint on canvas, 269.5×530.8 cm.

[10] Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, running from 19 October 2013 through 2 February 2014. Commissioned by Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and produced by Submarine.

[11] Kusama, Tate Modern, 9 February through 5 June 2012.

[12] Storr, Robert. Gerhard Ricther: The Day is Long, Art in America, 1 March, 2009, taken from http://www.artinamericamagazine.com, accessed 1/1/2018. Of Interest GerhardRichterVideos, YouTube. Background image: detail, Gerhard Richter, St John, 200cmx260cm, Oil on canvas, 1988.

[13] Serota, Nicholas. Cy Twombly Cycles and Seasons, Tate Modern, 19 June-14 September 2008, taken from https://www.youtube.com, accessed 2/1/2018. Visit the Tate Modern here.

[14] Adam, Grace and White, Joshua. Jasper Johns at the Royal Academy, The Art Channel, Published 6 Oct, 2017, taken from https://www.youtube.com, accessed 2/1/2018.

[15] Adam, Grace and White, Joshua. Robert Rauschenberg at Tate Modern, The Art Channel, Published 16 January, 2017, taken from https://www.youtube.com, accessed 2/1/2018. Background image: detail, Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled, oil, newspaper, and printed reproduction on canvas 290x330cm, 1954, Private collection.

[16] Storr, Robert. Chuck Close 26 February – 26 May, 1998, Museum of Modern Art, taken from https://www.moma.org, accessed 2/1/2018. MoMA’s interactive also by curator Robert Storr can be accessed here.

[17] Oxman, Neri. Design at the Intersection of Technology and Biology, Ted Talk, published 29 October, 2015. Taken from https://www.ted.com, accessed 9/1/2018.

[18] Metzger, Gustav. Auto-Destructive Art, TateShots, published 28 May ,2015, taken from https://www.youtube.com, accessed 14/1/2018. Background image: Gustav Metzger, Painting on Cardboard, Oil paint and alkyd paint on found box, cardboard and wood, 83.2 x 59.2 x 3.9 cm, 2015.