Launched May 1st, 2009 with a tentative start... this blog evolved into a space to bring things I'm curious about or fascinated with whilst adapting to life in a new city, a new direction with my work and in the online realm. Early on postings were frequent and wide-ranging in focus. Attention slowly spread to new online engagements as ideas developed and formats trialled to extend those ideas. However, this blog has always remained at the centre of all that followed ...the conversations, journeys and glimpses into creative worlds generated here have long enriched my days beyond all imagining and I return always to pick up the thread with gratitude for the experience and for those who've passed through, perhaps joined up or stopped to converse!
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

message to curators

A February 14th article in the New York Times Post Minimal to the Max by Roberta Smith came to my attention through two posts by painter Deborah Barlow at Slow Muse. Its a strong article which painters may well be drawn to read at length...and certainly a visit to the two Slow Muse posts takes the discussion further. Deborah reports in the 2nd one on the intense discussion and blog activity this article generated among artists and others.
Smith concludes her provocative and what I feel is timely article with a plea to curators: Whatever your'e doing right now, do something else next. She argues painting has been largely ignored in the Art Museums of New York, unless its that of a older master such as Kandinsky.
The paragraph "what's missing is art that seems made by one person out of intense personal necessity, often by hand. A lot but not all of this kind of work is painting, which seems to be becoming the art medium which dares not speak its name where art museums are concerned."
Worth reading Slow Muse here  firstly and here if your interest is sparked.

Terry Winters Knotted Graphs 6 2008 Oil on linen 77 x 98 inches.
Terry Winters Double Gravity, 1984, Oil on linen 

Terry Winters is one of the artists Smiths names as deserving of a major museum show and still overlooked. Phillip Taaffe is another artist I particulary like who she names on her 'list'. 
Philip Taaffe's New York studio photographed in 1993
Philip Taaffe's New York studio photographed in 1993
Philip Taaffe,  Radient Study (1988,89) Encaustic, relief print, silkscreen on linen


Liv Sørvaag said...

Sophie !
It Was a litte funny to se pictures of Terry Winter.

I was in New York with the art-class in 1998 , and baught a book of Terry Winters pictures..

Altoon Sultan said...

I found Roberta Smith's article stunning and surprising: surprising because in her many years of art reviewing, it's only been fairly recently that she's paid any attention at all to painting, especially painting of a more "traditional" sort, like that of Lois Dodd and David Bates. As a painter, I'm thrilled to see her become annoyed with the sad state of museum curating of contemporary art.

A story: I went to the Guggenheim museum recently to see the amazing Anish Kapoor installation, Memory. Though not hand made, or painting, it is a moving, and deeply serious work, bringing thoughts of life, death, and growth to the fore. Taking up the rest of the museum was an performance work by Tino Seghal; on the floor of the rotunda was a couple, young man and woman, embracing. I felt like I had been transported back to the 60s Happenings scene. I found it puerile and just plain dumb, and of course the work is explained by lots of theoretical language. I can understand Smith's frustration completely! and hurrah for Taafe and Winters.

Sophie Munns said...

hello Liv,
lovely to hear from you... How long did you spend in NY? Were you studying there or back in Norway? I also bought a book on his work - I guess 5 years ago - liking how painterly his work is and yet the ideas he works with lend themselves to a very different approach than that...that is what for me gives them their power - that and the composititional mastery....very animated works...alive and matter the palette.
Like your new website by the way!

Sophie Munns said...
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Sophie Munns said...
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Altoon Sultan said...

The NY Times is a major player in art opinion in the US. A big review can certainly make a person's career, a small one can help quite a bit. Roberta Smith is an important voice as an art critic, and I've been happy to see her horizons expand in recent years. She takes her job very seriously, and looks long and hard at art––sometimes writing very negatively––so this article of hers was bound to cause people to take notice. There have been complaints in the past, of curators just showing the work from a handful of big galleries, but not much has changed. On the other hand, there have been some wonderful shows of painting, such as Mary Heilman at the New Museum, and, a few years ago, Richard Tuttle at the Whitney, so not all is corporate art.

La Dolce Vita said...

Winters work is awesome!

Sophie Munns said...

Hello La DV!
thanks for visiting - unfortunately - no website for Winters!


Sophie Munns said...

your two comments were so interesting for me to ponder.
I responded yesterday, when half asleep, and thought just now - mmm - my convoluted response needs deleting! I'd already deleted one as I had posted it twice. More focused today. Apologies for that!

You brought to light the New York scene as one who has been a participant of it and followed it over many years. My understanding of it is random and fleeting -articles that filter into the press here, get taken up by someone here, reading perhaps something on a blog like Slow Muse... but blogs are a recent source for me. Things that happen in major centres in the northern hemisphere often translate here ... later.

"Work explained by lots of theoretical language" has a way of putting me on alert. "Here we go" thoughts abound. I have found this text may take some reading but of course may lead somewhere valuable...if the work is moving and the text actually communicates something of an idea that can be chewed over.

However, that combination of text gone askew and work that leaves one cold - even with a feeling of distaste - came to be a prevelent art museum experience over these past couple of decades here as well. A friend and I viewing a large Triennial show here in January discussed the fact we were finding so much of value in what was mostly a non-painting show. It lead to discussion of how different it is to view works in new media and installation when it is poetic, transcendant and not being substantiated by text to give it its credibility... something that can easily tip it into the frustrating or simply ridiculous. Interestingly the works by a painter were the ones with the most lingering inpact for me...and what I returned to view on several occasions.

Roberta Smith has voiced something worth stirring up the dialogue over. Thanks for your thoughts Altoon!