Saturday, November 29, 2008


The only curators who have seen my targets in the flesh are men, older men and maybe demographics don’t matter - but the one thing they’ve both said is that they might be better if the women were not known - more anonymous.

Famous women have surely already been done by Hamilton, Warhol, Cornell and so on - that territory didn’t look like it was going to dry up anytime soon. Storm Tharp travels that down that road too and we talked a bit about it in his interview. If you’ve got any input on it one way or another, I’d be curious.

“I don’t want to see her,” said one man who obviously hated Liza Minnelli. But must we like her personally? And if we don’t like her, is this a bad thing? I recall that Jackie O was really unpopular for awhile too. All throughout my childhood she graced the covers of the National Enquirer, surely to rot in hell because she remarried a rich, greasy foreigner.

The fact that these women were known and had worked hard at putting themselves in the public’s eye was part of their hold over me. I’m not saying that anonymous women can’t be interesting but their story is then more up to us.

It reminded me of the model’s role: look good and be quiet. Even I was a little put off when I heard Linda Evangelista talk in Unzipped. Great model, maybe the greatest, tarnished in a second. The collage below is actually not quite anonymous for me. She’s made by a good painter, Wayne Thiebaud, crammed into a Judd box.


namastenancy said...

I think your collages are fascinating and *I* don't have any problem that the women are well known. In fact, that can make it more interesting by adding more layers of ambiguity. I hate to say it but I am always a bit suspicious of those types of remarks by men - artists or not. Are they going to help you create? Deepen your understanding of what you are trying to do? Are they helpful or hurtful or another species of "one-upmanship?" I have my suspicious but you are the only one who can answer these questions. But go with your gut feelings and don't trip over your intellect. Sometimes it's not the best judge in these circumstances.

Richard Schemmerer said...

I think one reason why the images are so powerful is because they are culturally loaded and the field of personal projection is limited by what is already known about each subject/object.
Men have a tendency to turn most things into objects of desire/ownership.
At first we are attracted to the rising Star but as soon as we realize we can't own/control it we start to despise its rise to fame and begin the process of tarring it down back to a format were we can feel superior again.
I am not saying that men are the only ones doing this. I’ve seen women surfing on their masculine wave towards the same judgments.
I think your target metaphor is perfect because each of your famous people has been the target of denigration after they had been the pinnacle in a men’s fantasy world.
If the women are not recognizable they will be only accepted as brain/headless objects and after they ran once or twice in our brains porn movie we can easy discard them and replace them with the body of a new fantasy girl.
Just imagine that the target symbol becomes something entirely different now in a man’s mind.
It brings back his hunting instincts that are usually uninhibited by ethics and social etticette.
He can finally have his full blown fantasy and start to see himself in total control over his target/victim to be.
There is of course much more to this and it’s overly simplified but I would agree with Nancy that you will not get a subconsciously motive free statement from men in that regard.

Sean Casey said...

Hi Eva,

After reading some of your recent posts (anonymous, the self-appointed, you're not original), I sensed a theme running through, and was prompted to comment.

Personally, I don't ask any one's opinion of my work. Not my friends, family, acquaintances, no-one. They know I'm an artist, see me paint, and hang out in the studio. However, I never solicit an opinion or response to the work itself. If they have a comment, fine. But it's unprompted.

This is for several reasons; Foremost is, I'm just the artist. It's not my business how someone perceives the work. The painting is done. On to the next one.

Secondly, it puts the viewer on the spot. They've been asked to judge something. A person may feel pressured to "get it", or understand your work. So they'll say something. Inevitably they'll wonder if they are "correct" in their interpretation, and the artist is then put in the position to comment on the comment. A vicious circle.

And what if the viewer has no response, or doesn't like it? How will the artist respond? Can they handle an honest, frank opinion? Or would the ubiquitous "how interesting" suit them fine, even if it's phony?

One reason I'm glad I never went to art school. Not having to explain my stuff, let alone have it "graded". "Gee Sean, tell the class why you painted the turtle silver...". Yeah, right.

No one can bestow validity on your work. The act of creation is valid in itself. Art is a weapon. Use it.

Thank you for allowing me to comment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sean,

I think for the most part you are absolutely right about opinions. I never have asked someone to come in and tell me what the work needs. I've also had friends who are artists ask me "What do you think about the work?" and I don't want to answer - because I like them and want them as my friend, but am not wild about the work. And it really doesn't matter what I think anyway...

BUT if I am trying to get a show with a particular gallerist or curator, then I am indeed up against what they will say about it. Maybe some artists can say: "Either show me or not but don't tell me what you think" but so far I haven't been able to say that! As to these curators, I want to show with them or someone like them, that's just how it is.

Thanks everyone for commenting.


Anonymous said...

Also wanted to say, Richard, that your comment was on the money in so many ways. When she is unknown and up and coming, she's delish. When she is in the seat of power, that's another story...


Chris Ashley said...

Hi Eva,

It's possible that someone of either sex might look at and comment about your work under their own assumptions, that they know what you intend: "Oh, you're commenting on fame and celebrity," or, "Oh, this work is about women in society," or, "Oh, this this work is made by someone who is commemorating or nostalgic for certain strong women from her youth," or "Oh, this work is about changing fashions," or "Oh, this work is a celebration of the female form," or "Oh, this artist likes hot babes," or, ... you get the idea. Any one of these might be right or wrong, even if you didn't intend it.

Sometimes I comment on other's art and then I wonder if I'm actually approaching the work with assumptions, or without bias, or talking without really taking it in yet, and I think I should just knock it off and look at it instead. There are these situations where you're expected to say something.

If I saw these collages in your studio I might comment in favor of anonymity because from what I know of your paintings I wouldn't think that you intend to make work in this kind of a "Pop" vein (I don't know what else to call it- pop culture, commentary), and there's a good chance I'd be wrong. You say, "The fact that these women were known and had worked hard at putting themselves in the public’s eye was part of their hold over me;" well, there's the evidence that I'm probably wrong. But I might also say this simply because I have a bias about art I want to see, and a bias towards art that works certain ways or is about certain things, and famous faces in a collage wouldn't interest me. My comment instead might be meant to steer you away from something that I wouldn't care for.

If you're showing these to a dealer in hopes of showing them, would you say up front, "The fact that these women were known and had worked hard at putting themselves in the public’s eye was part of their hold over me, and that is what this work is about. I want you to see Liza and Jackie, but these pieces go beyond that and are about..."