Category Archives: Contemporary art

Reception of African-American artists

This is a fascinating article and series of short videos about how American museums are now collecting work by 20th- and 21st-c. African-American artists.

A quote from the article: “There was a joke for a long time that if you went into a museum, you’d think America had only two black artists — Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden — and even then, you wouldn’t see very much,” said Lowery Stokes Sims, the first African-American curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and later the president of the Studio Museum in Harlem. “I think there is a sea change finally happening. It’s not happening everywhere, and there’s still a long way to go, but there’s momentum.”

Randy Kennedy, “Black Artists and the March into the Museum, New York Times, 11/28/15.

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New media and art conservation

How do we conserve new media art that is based on/created with a technology that is now obsolete?  When the art no longer “works”?  Do we allow it to disappear?  Become corrupted?  Update the software?  Read what the Whitney Museum of American Art did with Douglas Davis’s “The World’s First Collaborative Sentence”.

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This raises questions about art making, art curating, and skills museum curators need today.

What interesting questions!

Be sure to click on the above links to see more about this art.

Pyrotechnics as art

Sometimes art works, sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes plans for works seem more complete than the finished work.  These are things to consider when we watch the video of “Explosion Event.”  Also ask yourself:  What do you expect to see when you hear about a holiday tree “exploding”?  Are you judging the event based on what’s possible in computer games or Hollywood?  Keep the materials in mind here, as well as the things one can’t plan for, such as the wind!

The artist, Cai Guo-Qing, is the last artist discussed in Janson (8th ed.).  Read this (p. 1106) before reading the articles and watching the video, then enjoy the video.

Here’s a link to the article in the Washington Post  (November 29, 2012);  be sure to watch the video of the event.

Here’s some background on the Sackler Museum and the artist…follow the links for more on the artist.

An apartment for Christopher Columbus

At the center of Columbus Circle in NYC is a statue of Christopher Columbus on a column.  Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi has built an apartment that encircles the statue…on its column!

Find out more about this work here, and enjoy the video.

More images are here.

“Obviously, until now, he was up there by himself, alone,” said Tatzu Nishi, the conceptual artist who designed the structure. “So we want to change it into something really homey, warm, [and] domestic feeling.”  You’ve got to see these images!

Much has changed at the Circle over the years…..

Rigoberto Gonzalez

Rigoberto Gonzalez is a contemporary Mexican artist who relies on some of the same techniques as Caravaggio, such as a striking realism and tenebrism.

The Kidnapping, 7' x 8'

His focus on violence (the violence of the Mexican drug trade) is also similar to Caravaggio’s focus on violence (the violence of martyrdom).  We can become quite uncomfortable in front of Gonzalez’s work…they are big paintings, the figures are lifesize, and we don’t want to see what’s happening (or has happened).  They allow us to understand the shock of Caravaggio’s work for his contemporary audience.  They didn’t always want to see life and death as he presented it.  When you visit Gonzalez’s site, view the short video “Baroque on the Border,” where the artist talks about his work.

Environmental art

One of the most extraordinary works of Environmental Art is Walter de Maria’s “Lightening Field,” created in 1977 outside Quemado, New Mexico.  How does this work  encourage us to think about connections between art (that which is made by human hands) and nature (that which we find in the world)?

Walter de Maria, Lightening Field, 1977

Walter de Maria, Lightening Field, 1977

Read Blake Gopnik’s article from the Washington Post (August 13, 2009) for more…