Assignment 5 – Reading

I have enjoyed reading more about contemporary art generally during this course and most of these references are embedded within the blog where they are relevant.

I made extensive notes for the book ‘Art and Artifact’ because I enjoyed it so much, and I think in future I need to have a separate book to write a bibliography and written notes to refer back to.



I have made extensive handwritten notes in the sketchbook for Part 5 but will highlight a few points below;

Art and Artifact. The Museum as Medium. James Putnam. Thames and Hudson. 2009

Since 1960’s artists have used a display case – the context is changed to the viewer and it becomes unique, now the untouchable.

In 1972 Bloodthaers displayed 300 objects representing eagles with a label declaring ‘this is not a work of art!’ questioning the significance of the label and the object described. It is a homage to Magritte’s ‘cest n’est pas une pipe’  – where the words address the viewer.

Jeff Koons series ‘The New’ 1988 used vitrines to make vacuum cleaners seem special.

Damien Hirst used a display case to present 40 fish in 1991. He used a case for formal groups of objects to convey an authoritative look of truth.

Amikam Tores ‘Safety Regulation painting no 10’ 1999 challenged the vitrine idea by painting the display case glass opaque and propping one end up on the empty cans.

Lisa Milroy in ‘Plates’ 1992 displayed a variety of plate styles as if they were pinned butterflies in a museum case.

Christian Bottanski ‘Inventory of the Man from Barcelona’ 1995 labelled personal objects as if in a museum to give then special significance.

Artists often investigate themselves and their memory using associations with collections of artifacts.

Michael Landy ‘Breakdown’ 2011 listed all 5000 personal possessions, then displayed them on a conveyer belt before pulping them like waste. I wonder if he regrets that now?

Artists question established power systems – critiquing/imitating – not usually directly but encouraging the viewer to question.

Rose Finn-Kelsey ‘Bureau de change’ 1988 made Van Gogh’s Sunflowers out of change and employed a uniformed guard to sit next to it to highlight the monetary value of the recently sold painting.

Artists question the role of institutions housing art – the traditional hierarchical structure. Although this work may ultimately end up in a gallery!

Daniel Buren ‘On the function of the museum’ pointed out how the gallery selects objects it implies are worth looking at.

Hans Haacke ‘Taking Stock’ 1983-4 looks at the patronage of arts and how that shapes it. He refers in this work to Saatchi funding of Thatchers campaign and the links between wealth and shaping contemporary art.

In ‘Metromobilitan’ 1985 he refers to Mobils funding of the then apartheid supporting governments.

Photographs of gallery spaces can show a unique aspect.

Louise Lawter ‘Objects’ 1984 photographs everyday and major works in storage areas.

Artists are often invited to curate works and offer their own interpretation based on individual interests. Breaks down formal standard classification and they frequently choose from reserve collections.

Group material ‘Americana’ 1985 curated alternative works at the Whitney Biennial showing cultural diversity distinct from the established scene. These were juxtaposed with everyday objects of material culture.

Interweaving of artists work with a museum collection. Displaying in non art contexts reaches a wider audience.

Fred Wilson ‘Mining the museum’ 1992 – juxtaposed slavery objects with examples of fine living – wanted posters for escaped slaves next to fine silverware. He said ‘what they do not display says even more’.

Unofficial exhibitions – Dove Bradshaw ‘Performance’ 1978 affixed a label to a gallery fire hose and sold photographs of it unofficially in the shop. When they sold well, the gallery bought the original photo and sold authorised postcards!

Museums without walls – using off site places, like Germaine Koh’s ‘Knitwork’ 2002 from a knitted blanket cascading down the British Museum’s stairs.

Contemporary Cultures of Display. Emma Barker. Yale University Press. 1999

I did not find this book quite as accessible but there were some interesting points;

How expansion of art galleries with shops etc have bought fears of them becoming like a theme park with little interest in the art.

An interesting essay on the modernist display or white cube – widely spaced and evenly lit compared to the dark walled stacked walls behind rails of the older art institutions.

The challenge of the white cube – supporting ‘purified’ works at the expense of less unified art. Example of MOMA Frankfurt breaking from the neutral model with a variety of rooms.

How even though the National Gallery is free, it is still dominated by middle class viewers, as those without the cultural/ social backgrounds to appreciate the works are excluded. Would more art history teaching in schools and gallery visits help her I wonder?

Tate Gallery Liverpool – initial local resistance as money wasted. Warehouse conversion left little original character as it was transformed into a white space – and cut off from the city centre by a 6 lane highway! As I was in LIverpool in 1988 when it opened this was an interesting read. I remember being confused by the shows back then!

Art and Today. Phaidon. Eleanor Hartney. 2008

Great book – two examples here.

Elizabeth Peyton ‘live to ride’ 2003  – exaggerated contrasts and her use of entertainment culture. Red of shirt echoes on arms. Abrupt cropping.

Peter Doig ‘100 years ago’ – vivid dream like. Uses film stills, album covers, travel brochures and postcards as inspiration. Lonely figures lost in vast landscapes in unusual colours.

Techniques of the worlds greatest painters. Waldermar Januszczak. Chartwell Books. 1989

Paul Cezanne – outlines in graphite and overlaid with thin blue ultramarine. Wet in wet before outlines dry. Marks of thin colour follow the outlines in cool and warm colours.

Pierre Bonnard – let painting assume its own size. Some areas thin and some thick. Finishing touches applied when painting in frame.

Max Ernst – Used collage like painting so objects appeared stuck on . Frottage like painting and pressed paper on surface and peeled off. Grattage – scraping pigment over canvas laid on heavily textured surface. Adhesive tape for straight lines. Oscillation – drips from can suspended on string.

Painting Today. Tony Godfrey. Phaidon. 2009

Good insights into contemporary painters.

Luc Tuymens ‘the Walk’ 1993 is muted colours, a beautiful mountainscape when the viewer realises the right hand figure is Hitler – rather a shock. His history paintings eg. Congo series show blurred fragments, has to be reconstructed by the viewer.

Daniel Richter ‘Tarifa’ 2001 – vivid colours with composition pushed to top. Makes refugees in a boat look quite stranded surrounded by black empty space.

John Moores Painting Catalogues

2016 – see OCA study visit to the exhibition

2014 – Mike Silva ‘landscape 2013  – like the monochrome wet in wet technique. Improvised mark making

Gideon Ruskin ‘three girls’ 2012 – Faceless girls, background unfinished.

2012 – Damien Meade ‘Talcum’2011 – very textured hair on top a plain black shoulders. Can almost feel the head!

Henny Acloque ‘277’ 2011 – Classic landscape disrupted by colourful marks – makes me question what these are?


I realise the learning point here is to make written notes that I need to organise in some way, to refer back to in the next few years of this degree, as I do find I forget things once I read them. Probably a notebook would be the easiest way.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s