Tag Archives: Smithson

Snapshot

Two posts back I mentioned two concepts of the picture. The second one—broken, fugitive, moving, unstable—has a definite relation to the most profound idea in modern photography, the “decisive moment.” You could even connect it to street photography in particular, … Continue reading

Posted in American Modernism, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Object Matter

From William Tucker’s book The Language of Sculpture, comes these further words on cubist construction: “Apart from their richness and power as individual pieces, all these wooden constructions demonstrate the object-nature of modern sculpture. They take objects, still-life, as their … Continue reading

Posted in Abstract Sculpture, American Modernism, Conceptualism and Painting, Early Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gouk on Steel

To all my blog readers I would like to recommend the two articles by Alan Gouk on sculpture in steel recently featured on abstract critical—especially the first one, though part 2 has its interest. Thanks to Gouk I have discovered … Continue reading

Posted in Abstract Sculpture, American Modernism, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Figures

An earlier post got me thinking. Balzac’s “The Unknown Masterpiece” is an iconic work of literature for modernists, from say Cézanne to Picasso. The blank map in The Hunting of the Snark is equally important for the transition from abstraction … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Early Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abstraction and Empathy

Wilhelm Worringer was an original thinker, and he’s worth some time, even today. Like Ehrenzweig, I first heard of him because of Smithson’s interest, and likewise I didn’t read him until very recently. Geometry could be seen as pre-existing us, … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, American Modernism, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Expressivist Smithson?

The publication date of Ehrenzweig‘s book was 1967, but he died the year before. He was well versed in contemporary art, and mentions the color field painters, Neo-Dada and Op Art, and has something important to say about them all. … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, American Modernism, Conceptualism and Painting, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anton Ehrenzweig

I’m just reading Anton Ehrenzweig‘s The Hidden Order of Art, though I’m ashamed to admit that it took so long to get to it. Years ago I was a close student of Robert Smithson, and this was his main reference. … Continue reading

Posted in American Modernism, Conceptualism and Painting, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Powers of Art

One can exert oneself and make many sorts of things in a life. One can make artworks, which do nothing, but just are what they are. Or one can build institutions, or social structures or change life for the better—decrease … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abstraction and Time

Always downhill, but never downhearted.      Hans Christian Anderson

Posted in Abstraction and Society, American Modernism, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time and Place

“If the place is different, the time is different. If the place is the same, time has not changed.” This pithy two part aphorism by Julian Barbour, actually extracted by me from his book, seems at first surprisingly Heraclitan for … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time and the Imagination

Human beings are busy little creatures. They move relatively quickly—building, tearing down, inventing, changing, making. But even the time of human activity is slow compared to the speed of the mind. I saw a recent statistic that there are 60 … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, American Modernism, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Death Artistically Considered

Lest my readers think I’m getting excessively serious, I would like to expand on something from a couple of posts back. Death, strictly speaking, doesn’t exist, meaning that it is an affair only relevant to the living—survivors, perpetrators, legatees etc. … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Conceptualism and Painting, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helen Frankenthaler

I was moved by Anne Wagner’s obituary for Helen Frankenthaler in the April 2012 issue of Artforum. Every artist has to make their own canon, never more than today, when almost all artists are educated by art historians. Frankenthaler belongs … Continue reading

Posted in American Modernism, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Angelus Novus

If we accept Benjamin’s reading of Klee’s Angelus Novus, that it is moving backwards into the future while watching the increasing pile up of wreckage we call modernity, then it is also looking at us, who are a little further … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Conceptualism and Painting, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Unknown Audience

Some of the things that Scott Lyall brought up two posts back are aspects of the current dialectic of theatricality, which Smithson knew a lot about (in fact more than Michael Fried, who has come to own the concept). This … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Conceptualism and Painting, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The eyes

The eyes seemed to look. Were they looking? Perhaps. Other eyes were looking. A Mexican gave the displacement a long, imploring gaze. Even if you cannot look, others will look for you. Art brings sight to a halt, but that … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Conceptualism and Painting, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lost Origin

In his very intelligent comment, David Court asks whether we should consider the artwork as more than the object, and the backstory as a kind of material, like a ground. Of course this is exactly what has happened, but I … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emptied of feeling

The work discussed in the previous post gave a good example of how orthogonals enable feeling. But in modern times, one of the advantages of geometry is how it can allow the negation of feeling. That’s an advantage because it’s … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, American Modernism, Conceptualism and Painting, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An abyss of meaning

Further to the last post, what is described in rather melodramatic terms as an “abyss” could equate to a primal chaos, something that scientists would discuss under the rubric of entropy. Entropy must increase overall, so the original state of … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Jack Vance

From Julian Barbour and the block universe to minimalism to the negative social sublime of Smithson and Ai Weiwei, I’ve been wondering about a temporal perspective that denies change, that posits a kind of steady state. Obviously these sources are … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Conceptualism and Painting, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time and Ai Weiwei

I’ve just finished writing a review for the magazine Yishu. It’s a comparison between two recently published books, Ai Weiwei’s blog posts and Gao Minglu’s historical study of the Chinese avant-garde, Total Modernity. I love Ai’s whole attitude. He is … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Once only

There’s a lot more to say about time, and a lot that’s important for art, but I would like to talk about my kind of art. I would call it an additive tradition, running from Pollock through Frankenthaler, Louis and … Continue reading

Posted in American Modernism, Conceptualism and Painting, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time and Space

Spent an enjoyable afternoon with Josh Thorpe, an excellent artist with very good ideas about the relative value of experience and theory.  He recently published a guide book to Dan Graham’s pavilions, which also contains an interview with the artist. … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, American Modernism, Conceptualism and Painting, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drawing in the City

In one of my earlier posts I included a piece by Morellet in what looks like a sculpture park. Theoretically that image encapsulates my views; it shows the human construction of the grid surrounded by the much greater complexity of … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Conceptualism and Painting, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Opticality of Sculpture

Shep Steiner has just sent me his chapter on Olitski, and, as usual, his observations are inspiring and very original. He says that Michael Fried has it that Greenberg’s remarks on the opticality of sculpture, referred to in an earlier … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, American Modernism, Conceptualism and Painting, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perspectives on Pollock

Last week Shep Steiner sent me his latest piece on Pollock, a chapter of the book he’s working on. As always his work is really great, and it sent me back to Clark, Greenberg and others. I’m grateful to Shep … Continue reading

Posted in American Modernism, Conceptualism and Painting, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Out of the container

Our knowledge of the world is like a net, the more closely woven, the more holes it has.     Robert Smithson, Non-site, 1967

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Conceptualism and Painting, Principles of Abstraction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment