Monday, August 20, 2007

my own art history

The Sensitive Genius inspired a poll with interesting results and commentary, proposed by Steven Larose, in which two paintings by two artists were posted. I think this was perhaps an inevitable proposal, but I actually had a wave of odd depression over it. Nothing against anyone; it’s just my own feelings about what this vote would or could achieve. (I appreciated Steven’s response too, in the walk-a-mile-in-my-shoes approach. Taking on still life can’t be easy…)

People say they don’t judge work by gender. I doubt that most people consciously do. My point of the post was in showing how opinion and persuasions come in layers, layer upon layer, over a lifetime. For me, the real question was not so much whether one artist could paint better than another, but why one got so much more press.

- Of course we can reduce it to all of the various criteria we have all learned to respect, but that I now often distrust. I couldn’t say my list of Top Ten from art history has one woman in it.

And when I did find a woman artist to love, like Hannah Hoch (see images), I still didn’t place her above John Heartfield. What is strange to me now is that the more I look at Hoch, who now has huge books out on her work - books not available to me 30 years ago - the more I see what a vast, inventive artist she was and that shit, she was doing all kinds of things Heartfield (or Raoul Hausmann) was not. I am not necessarily saying better, but I am saying as good.

Notice I did not use an example in painting. With painting, you open a roaring suitcase difficult to ever casually close again.

So if I didn’t prefer the work of the woman artist in the poll, I would not be surprised! And I could give you a dozen reasons for my choice, all about the quote unquote quality of the work. I am so seeped in my own sexist art history, I was actually kinda jolted when the woman had the edge in the poll! Was this the source of my wincing over the weekend? - Wondering if she was going to get slaughtered in the vote?

Even in the original post at Edward Winckleman, people must defend Elizabeth Murray by insisting that she is: “… a hard-core, died in the wool painter…” “….one of the dyed in the wool artists.”- like we must be convinced, and she better be hard core to be one at all. No one had to convince me that David Salle or Francesco Clemente was a fucking painter. It sounds stupid to even go there.

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