Friday, December 26, 2008

her pop autobiography


She produces autobiographical art -- art which is about herself.

This is one of the first lines you come across at Tracey Emin’s website. Two things come to my mind: that she’s not alone - everyone does. Every artist makes work about themselves. But secondly, most women are kind of shamed for looking at themselves and getting all personal, whereas she’s been able to glorify it. I commend her.

She had the British Pavilion at Venice last year. I wrote in my diary: The work itself is rather disappointing but I find her really interesting. Some may think it’s weird to make your personal story the constant link in what you create, but any attractive woman has this saga as the platform for everything she does and how she is perceived. It’s all within her biology, what she looks like, how fuckable she is and who she is doing it with. The moment you think it’s not you find out you are wrong - and it’s coming from females too. Once I started looking at her this way, she seemed rather important to me.

The personal saga of a woman’s life as it traverses their art seems like this unavoidable bill of fare by now – from Dumas to Peyton or Sherman or Kahlo. But of course it is no different than what the guys have been doing all along. After all, someone gets to tell the story. Everyone I Ever Slept With – the famous work of Emin’s - isn’t that exactly what Matisse painted throughout his career? One prostitute (er, "Nude") after another?

Perhaps the autobiographical slant in art means more to me lately because I’ve been thinking of Peyton and Dumas, who are getting a lot of press for their shows. I enjoyed both the videos James Kalm put up very much. The course of the conversation in the blogosphere around the work is the same as it ever was: is it any good? The Quality of the Work rag. Mind, men have painted their families and their women and their babies for centuries but rave on.

In my photomontage, I've had conversations about the personal. I made works about looking for love, about very specifically looking for a husband, about being poor, about being crazy. And I think I could venture wherever I pleased because I rarely showed it and therefore, no discourse on bad, good, Quality, whatever.

Painting, though, that was different. The rare exceptions were 60s/80s, which played on YSL and Marimekko and The Italian. And it was The Italian of Take Off that Richard Speer chose to write about - because he could connect to the Pop autobiography. I think for some women, they get so sick of being the object that it’s the last thing they really want to face, but lately it occurred to me that Speer may have said something very valuable for me there.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

sign of the times

This article in the New York Times - reporting a French Master of the Universe committing suicide, perhaps illustrates the big shift in the lives of the Haves. It took me back to a time – was it only ten months ago? – when the divide was so clear and so sharp that I could hardly say a word to the rich when they sat right next to me.

I was in San Francisco, a city of chance meetings with the beautiful and the transient. I sat in a downtown French bistro, a likely place for a single woman to have her meal at the bar. Next to me sat a Frenchman and we began some light talk.

He was a hedge fund guy. He tried to tell me that his business was just like being an artist and he was creative like me. I said to him: “Well why aren’t you making a living at art then, all things being equal? If it was all the same, then you could try to be an artist. But you don’t really know if you’re an artist or not.” He laughed and conceded that this was true. He didn’t know if he could be one. Sounds weird to recall this, but Baby you can have a lot of shit when you’re a hedge fund manager, but hands off my uniform! You got your jets and many homes and expensive women and now you’re telling me you get to be an artist too? Greedy boy.

But of course I didn’t say that. After he stopped laughing he told me he lived in Soho. “A cliché, I guess” he said. “Yes but you enjoy your life,” I feebly returned. It might not have even been true anyway. Neither of us could look at each other at this point.

During that entire trip to SF the contrast between the classes kept rearing its ugly head. The beauty of SF could only gloss over so much. I got the feeling it was the have-not masses who join all those pot clubs (medical marijuana) so well advertised in all the weekly rags. Ten months later, I wonder how that French hedge fund manager is doing today. Things are getting kind of hungry over here but at least we’re still artists and maybe they're a little less likely to say that they are too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

stuck in the snow

Stuck in the snow. At least there are the neccesary supplies on hand - pasta and wine and coffee, a fully stocked paint and collage studio. But still it feels like little can get done. Just thinking instead.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Toedtemeier Tribute on KBOO


Listen to the archived interview

This coming Thursday KBOO will host a remembrance of Terry Toedtemeier. My guests will be his widow and fellow curator, Prudence Roberts, Jane Beebe of PDX Contemporary Art and John Laursen, who co-authored Wild Beauty with Terry.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Terry and Prudence

Just yesterday while I was at KBOO with MK Guth, I announced that Terry Toedtemeier would be my guest next week, all cheery. Once I got home I found this was not to be. His widow Prudence Roberts, whom I snapped with him (above) at the first party of Chambers in 2005, will help me create a tribute show instead. Everyone has their story about this incredible man.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Adam Sorensen at PDX

At PDX Contemporary Art is Adam Sorensen’s False Fjords. There’s been plenty written about this show that you can find online, but none of it captures the color - brilliance like this video we made yesterday. I just loved this show.

MK Guth on KBOO

On Thursday December 11th at 10:30AM I will interview MK Guth on Art Focus on KBOO. Her exhibition is a part of the APEX series at the Portland Art Museum, curated by Jennifer Gately. Ties of Protection and Safe Keeping was at the 2008 Whitney Biennial and is also touring the country. If KBOO archives this interview, I’ll post the link here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Joan of Arc

One of my favorite paintings at the Met is Joan of Arc by Jules Bastien Lepage. It is the kind of painting you can truly look at forever. So imagine my happiness at coming across it in an issue of Art Instructor from the 1940s. What Art Instructor typically featured was a color repro of a masterpiece on the cover and then many tiny repros inside, which the teacher would cut up and then distribute in class. Of course these repros don’t begin to tell you about the immense detail in these paintings, but it’s particularly true for this one. The piece is so dense with spots of paint, it’s absolutely incredible.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Katherine Ace on KBOO

Link to the online interview.

On Thursday December 4th at 10:30AM I will interview Katherine Ace on Art Focus at KBOO. Her exhibition Creation Chaos opens at Froelick Gallery that same day. Ace is known for creating fabulous still lifes. I used to think it was all done with paint- but was then able to visit her studio this summer and saw that she collages a lot of her elements in. Quite a feat.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Andrea Schwartz-Feit at Butters Gallery

Andrea Schwartz-Feit has a new show up at Butters. She makes beautiful grids with encaustic paint – some are representational and some are not. She talks about this show, all based on Genesis, in this video.