Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two Free Downloads

by Robert Boyd


This book of essays about Fluxus, The Fluxus Reader is being offered for free in PDF form here. Fluxus was, as you may recall, the dada-inspired art movement that reached it peak in the 60s, and included as "members" such figures as John Cage, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, etc. There was a big exhibition of a key Fluxus artist, Benjamin Patterson, at the CAMH last year.

Then there's this thing:


This is Artprice's annual summary of what happened in the art auction world (where prices are more-or-less transparent). It's a world that is far away from the life of the average artist, but it does give one an idea of the amount of money in the art world. To get a true idea of the size of the art world in terms of money on an annual basis, you'd have to construct an equation that looks something like this:
Auction sales + gallery sales + private sales + museum and art space annual expenses and capex + art school [including private instruction and instruction in elementary, middle and high schools] annual expenses and capex + sales of art supplies
Am I missing something obvious? Anyway, the top 10 artists at auction in 2011, according to Artprice, were:

1. Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) – $550m. My art history was way too Western-centric for me to have even heard of this guy, I'm embarrassed to admit.
2. Qi Baishi (1864-1957) – $510m. Ditto.
3. Andy Warhol (1928-1987) – $325m
4. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) – $315m
5. Xu Beihong (1895-1953) – $220m.
6. Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) – $212m
7. Fu Baoshi (1904-1965) – $198m
8. Gerhard Richter (1932) – $175m. It's nice that the top living artist isn't someone like Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons.
9. Francis Bacon (1909-1992) – $129m
10. Li Keran (1907-1989) – $115m

The rise of Chinese art in the art market is pretty amazing. Obviously it reflects the rise in wealth of the Chinese, but that can't be all of it. If it were, we'd also see a lot more Japanese artists (the first Japanese artist on the list is Takashi Murakami at 97), Korean artists, Russian artists, Brazilian artists, Indian artists, etc. So something else is happening with the Chinese market. One thing that comes to mind is that these artists must have been pretty prolific. Another thing is that the provenance must be somewhat tricky. Who owned these works during the Maoist period? In any case, I suspect that when kids take their two semester art history survey class, there is a lot more time spent on the history of Chinese art than there was in the early 80s when I took that class.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012


This was in the Santa Fe New Mexican a few days ago.
Peter de La Fuente, who sells his family's artworks as well as his own at the Wyeth Hurd Gallery, said he's never seen it slower.

"If you go out on Palace Avenue, you can look down and there's nobody in that portal going down to the Plaza. It's almost in a vacuum right now," he said. "There are times in the year that I feel like I've got a very nice office with very excellent art on the wall."

De La Fuente, the grandson of Peter Hurd and the great-grandson of M.C. Wyeth, was among several dealers to use the language of the Occupy movement.

"I hate to be a snob, but what we're getting now is a bunch of 99 percenters, and they're very appreciative, but they're not collectors," he said. "The people who are collectors, my clients, are the 1 percent, people who can afford art and fine art and expensive art. ...

"We [need] to get rid of Obama and let the people make money again. Profit is not a bad thing. It's what makes this country go." ("Bloom or Bust? Jury's out on state of Santa Fe art market," Tom Sharpe, The Santa Fe New Mexican, February 16, 2012)
In other news, the Dow Jones broke 13,000 today for the first time since May, 2008.


Lonesome Prison Links

by Robert Boyd

Ray Warmsley painting
A painting by Ray Warmsley (Abilene ReporterNews)

My Favorite Art Story this Week: Ray Warmsley was a career criminal in the Ellis Unit about 30 years ago. Jackie Morris was the daughter of the president of Abilene Christian University. She was doing ministry and social work when she met Ray in 1978. They fell in love and got married after he was paroled in 1984. It was a scandal in Abilene--a prim and proper white lady from a prominent local family marrying a paroled African-American criminal 18 years her junior. Then in 1986, Ray got sent back to jail on old warrants. And started painting. Then last year, in October, Ray was paroled again. Amazingly, Jackie stuck with him all this time. He's in his 60s, wearing an ankle bracelet to keep him in house arrest, and she is in her 80s. And they both paint. And they got a two-person show at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Abilene. ("From opposite sides of prison bars, Abilene artist couple creates unlikely love story," Jeremy Goldmeier, Abilene ReporterNews, February 25, 2012)

Space Ducks
Daniel Johnston, Space Ducks, graphic novel cover, 2012

My Second Favorite Art Story this Week: I'm just going to quote from the press release on this one.
BOOM! Town and Wieden + Kennedy Entertainment bring world-famous underground musician and artist Daniel Johnston to comics this April with his new graphic novel SPACE DUCKS: AN INFINITE COMIC BOOK OF MUSICAL GREATNESS. [...]
SPACE DUCKS is more than just a graphic novel, it’s a one-of-a-kind interactive comic book experience, complimented by the Space Ducks album and iOS App. The companion app will virtually take readers through Daniel’s Outer-Space world of Ducks and Devils, with games to play, surprising voices from different talents, animations and videos from the comic book, links to exciting new Space Ducks merchandise, and a slew of Easter eggs, including contributions from some of the critically-acclaimed musicians who number amongst Daniel’s biggest fans. The app will also debut Daniel Johnston’s first new album since 2009.
Waller's greatest artist appears ready to bring it once again. They're launching this nutty thing at SXSW, but I'm sure you'll be able to get it at Domy. ("Daniel Johnston Brings SPACE DUCKS to Boom!," The Beat, February 27, 2012)

My Third Favorite Art Story this Week: Did you know that the Whitney Museum had broken off their sponsorship agreements with Sotheby's and Deutsche Bank respectively to protest Sotheby's lockout of union art handlers (in a year of record-breaking profits for the auction house) and to protest Deutsche Bank's involvement in the mortgage crisis? Well, they didn't but some clever person put up an imitation Whitney Biennial website that indicated that they had. It is an exact duplicate of the actual Whitney Biennial website (except for the apologies). Art Fag City links it to the Occupy-related group Arts & Labor, but it is unknown who actually made the faux Whitney webpage. Love it, though. (Fake Whitney Biennial page, "Arts & Labor Calls For an End to Whitney Biennial, Pranking Follow," Whitney Kimball, Art Fag City, February 2, 2012)

Teddy Roosevelt
David Adickes, Teddy Roosevelt, 21 feet high

Do You Have $28,000 Burning a Hole in Your Pocket? If so, You can go on eBay right now and buy an 21' high bust of Teddy Roosevelt by David Adickes. And if you have $48,000, you can get Lincoln, too.


Earl Staley's Big Rock Candy Mountain

by Robert  Boyd

Earl Staley has gone through a lot of changes in the past few years, as I outlined in a recent post. He got divorced, lost his eyepatch, gained a gallery (New Gallery, in a new location). And for the first time in a while, he is having a museum show. The museum is Spring's Pearl Fincher Museum, and the show is modest--five paintings. It's part of the Pearl Fincher series of exhibits of work by the Lone Star College art professors. Staley teaches painting at LCS-Tomball (where there are a group of women who take his class over and over, and who call themselves Earl's Girls).

Breaking Storm
Earl Staley, Breaking Storm, acrylic on canvas, 2009

The first thing I noticed was that there were no collage paintings here. They were all landscapes, mostly pretty realistic, although in some cases the color was pushed into a level that was more intense than nature usually delivers. But there was nothing here that would confuse or confound the good burghers of Champions. Staley implied to me that this was intentional.

Earl Staley, Headland, acrylic on canvas, 2010

But he told me that the key to these works was that they were painted as he was getting divorced. The island was a place to escape to, the storm breaking was the end of the process, etc.

What Was Revealed
Earl Staley, What Was Revealed, acrylic on canvas, 2012

And the key painting for me is this rocky bit of  surrealism. This colorful shape, emerging out of a realistically rendered rock outcropping, stopped me in my tracks. This dreamscape struck me as an act of magic. The colors of the shapes on top seem to distill the sunset colors in the desert (Staley visits Big Bend and lived in New Mexico, so these colors are present in his mind). But they are unmoored from the thingness of the desert. You can see these colors in kitsch souvenir paintings and postcards of desert beauty spots, but this is different. Staley is reintroducing the viewer to the sheer strangeness of the desert.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Lillian Warren's View from the Windshield

by Robert Boyd

installation view

The Pearl Fincher Museum displayed a sense of humor about itself in putting up Drive-By Landscape, an exhibit by Lillian Warren. Warren's paintings of traffic and multi-panel paintings of landscapes and city views as seen from the point-of-view of a moving car are an ironic comment on this suburban museum. Located deep in the heart of Spring, the Pearl Fincher is 27 miles away from the MFAH. Furthermore, it's well within its neighborhood (and far from any freeway), so unless you are from the area, you might need your GPS to find it. It's location is deep, deep suburbia, the land where people have to drive to get anywhere.

Traffic 19
Lillian Warren, Traffic 19, acrylic on mylar, 36 x 48 inches, 2011

Consequently, when you see a painting like Traffic 26, it's easy to imagine I-45 going into town from Spring at 7 am. The frustrating crawl of the commute, devoid of context--I imagine the drivers chatting on the phone or eating or putting on makeup. It's not too dangerous to do these activities as 5 mph. Henry David Thoreau couldn't have imagined this scene when he wrote that "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." But it comes to mind when I look at Warren's Traffic series.

Traffic 26
 Lillian Warren, Traffic 26, acrylic on mylar, 40 x 30 inches, 2011

But what also comes to mind is her technique. These paintings look like watercolors. You can see where the paint pooled or leaked into other wet areas. It has the appearance of wet-on-wet watercolor painting. But watercolor painting depends on the absorbancy of the paper. Warren is painting on mylar, which is completely non-absorbant. My assumption (which surely may be wrong) is that she is using a spray bottle to wet the surface of the mylar, then painting with highly watered-down acrylics. The effect is hazy and shows the artist's hand at work. This hand-made quality of the painting is consistent throughout the work shown in this exhibit.

Lillian Warren, Interchange April 19, 6:55 pm, acrylic on canvas, 6 panels, 62 x 23 inches, 2008

About half the paintings in the show are the ghostly traffic paintings. The other half are these multi-panel landscapes like Interchange April 19, 6:55 pm.The landscapes are acrylic on canvas, and they have a soft, painterly look. I think her approach to painting is influenced by Edward Hopper, and her subject matter as well seems like an updating of Hopper's house pictures and city -scapes. The impression the viewer gets is that Warren took a series of photos while driving by a specific location and that these were the basis for the multiple images of the same landscape. The specificity of the time in the titles reinforces this.

A137 - April 01, 4:31 pm
Lillian Warren, A137 - April 01, 4:31pm, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 45", 2007

Painting the world from the point of view of the car is an important thing to do because we see the world that way. Particularly the world outside our offices, our schools, our homes. If as fuel becomes more expensive, driving becomes more of a luxury, works of art like this will remind us of both the freedom and the blandness of driving. The landscape is less important here than the sense of movement, of passing by.

I want to close on a note that is not particularly relevant to the artwork. Like lots of artists (if not most), Lillian Warren has a day job. Unlike most artists, she is an executive with an MBA working for a small strategy consultancy called Portfolio Decisions. (She was also board president for Diverse Works for many years.) I'm always intrigued by artists who exist partly in the world of business. The most famous example is probably Charles Ives, the great experimental American composer. In addition to his startling music, he ran Ives & Myrick, an insurance agency that was a pioneer in estate planning early in the last century. (Ives & Myrick was absorbed by Mutual of New York.)

For the past 150 years or so, we have had a notion of the artist as an outsider. He (or she) was bohemian and lived outside the class structure. We expected artists to be wildmen, to be anti-bourgeous, even when they became successful. Consequently, the notion of an artist who is also a businessman (and not in the Damien Hirst sense of being a successful self-promoter) is, well, shocking. But as I think about it, I think Warren's business career possibly does affect her art, especially if she is getting up every morning and commuting to the office.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jaume Plensa, Cool Kitsch-monger

by Robert Boyd

Jaume Plensa, Mirror, painted metal, 10 feet high, 2012

When I read about and saw photos of Mirror by Jaume Plensa, which has just been installed in the oak grove between Herring Hall and the Brochstein pavillion at Rice University, I instantly decided I hated it. And I still sort of hate it. Mirror consists of two generic figures (perhaps inspired by the figure on the pedestrian crossing sign?) facing each other, knees up with their arms around them, having some kind of intellectual dialogue, represented by their skins which consist of letters from various alphabets. You know, like two students at a university symbolizing dialogue and learning and stuff!

Jaume Plensa, Mirror, painted metal, 10 feet high, 2012

They seem similar to another Plensa sculpture in Houston, Tolerance, a grouping of a bunch of kneeling super-generic figures with skins made out of words in many languages. And they are all getting along with one another! Because they are tolerant! So uplifting!

 Jaume Plensa, Mirror, painted metal, 10 feet high, 2012

I hate Plansa's sculptures. They are simultaneously heavy-handed and vague. They say, "Here's an uplifting message that you can look at or not, I don't care." I realize that the generic nature of the figures is meant to give them a kind of universality, but it instead projects blandness. No one can disagree with the intent behind these pieces, but no one can be moved by them.

 Jaume Plensa, Mirror, painted metal, 10 feet high, 2012

But that's me. Everyone except for Kelly Klassmeyer seems to love Jaume Plensa's art. When they go up in public places, his sculptures are always popular. How is it that work that seems so obviously meretricious, that seems to pander so damn hard, is so popular?

 Jaume Plensa, Mirror (seen from inside), painted metal, 10 feet high, 2012

I found the answer when I went to photograph Mirror at twilight. In the evening, this  sculpture looks undeniably cool. I saw it and suddenly found myself questioning my earlier dismissal. The white painted metal shapes, lit from the inside by lights embedded into the ground, have a ghostly presence among the oaks outside Herring Hall.

 Jaume Plensa, Mirror (seen from inside), painted metal, 10 feet high, 2012

And Plensa doesn't rely solely on how cool it looks at night--he includes the additional crowd-pleasing feature of interactivity. You can crawl inside these figures and look out through the cage of alphabets.

Curse you Jaume Plensa--you sucked me in! I still think the basic idea and presentation of Mirror is ridiculous. But Plensa made a pair of sculptures that look pretty neat--at night. On balance, I would rather that Rice had installed something different. But I'm willing to see some value in Mirror.


Screen Idols in Arcadia

by Robert Boyd

Laura Lark painstakingly draws screen idols Steve McQueen and Jane Fonda with tiny dots. The technique is similar to the early works of Drew Friedman, but Friedman was primarily concerned with drawing celebrities who were at best not conventionally attractive and more usually downright ugly. (one notable exception was 1989's "I, Joey Heatherton," which mocked Hollywood's sex-symbol machinery). Lark's stars in this show are by contrast glamorous and attractive.

LL 2
Laura Lark, Cover, ink marker on Tyvek, 43 x 33 inches, 2011

LL 2
Laura Lark, Cover detail, ink marker on Tyvek, 43 x 33 inches, 2011

There is no drawing technique more tedious than stippling. (Friedman, its master, eventually abandoned it.) But the obsessive nature of the technique could be seen as parallel to the obsessions people have about movie stars. People build shrines to stars, cover their walls with their images. They take the place in secular society of saints or pantheons of gods. (And sometimes movie stars exist alongside saints or gods.)

I usually don't talk to the artists before I review their work, but this time, more-or-less by accident, I ended up having an email exchange about her show, The Livable Forest. Her starting point had been the myth of Diana and Actaeon (mortal hunter Actaeon accidentally discovers Diana bathing nude. She turns him into a deer and he is subsequently hunted and killed by his fellow hunters.) The wall pieces are places within a silvery forest installation.

installation view with Snowdrift
Laura Lark, Livable Forest installation view

The pile of silver bricks in the foreground is called Ruin. Behind it to the left is Jane, taken from a photo of Jane Fonda at age 16 wielding a bow. To the right is an image of Steve McQueen called Cover. The obvious way to read it in terms of the myth is that Steve McQueen is Actaeon, Jane Fonda is Diana. (McQueen died in 1980 after an operation to try to slow his terminal cancer.) But that doesn't quite work. The whole thing about Actaeon is that he is a mortal--a lesser being--who has seen a goddess. McQueen is as much a god as Fonda. And gods who transgress may be punished, but they don't die (only Pan has died).

Laura Lark,  Siren, hand-applied aluminum leaf over acrylic and brick, 40 x 31 x 20 inches, 2011

Instead it feels like The Livable Forest is a sacred grove, a place where we mortals go to worship immortals like Jane and Steve. But Steve is not really immortal. Screen idols can die.

LL 3
Laura Lark, Dreamy Steve, ink marker on Tyvek, 43 x 33 inches, 2011

Laura Lark, Dreamy Steve (detail), ink marker on Tyvek, 43 x 33 inches, 2011

One of Nicolas Poussin's most famous paintings--and most moving to me--is Et en Arcadia Ego. It depicts a group of shepherds discovering a tomb (on which "Et en Arcadia Ego" is inscribed). It refers to Arcadia as a kind of utopian place, but despite this, death is still present. The tomb is quoting death, saying "Even in Arcadia, I exist." But one shepherd is tracing the outline of another shepherd's silhouette on the tomb. This is the mythological origin of art, and it is also therefore seen as a way to get around death. Death after the invention of art is no longer oblivion--its victims are remembered through painting, drawing, poetry, etc. Art makes both the subjects and creators immortal.

Actaeon may have looked at the wrong goddess and got himself killed. But Ovid and Aeschylus and Titian and many others have sure that he will never be forgotten. And a series of Hollywood producers and directors make certain that Steve McQueen will never die--as long as we keep watching The Great Escape, Nevada Smith, Bullitt, The Getaway and many other badass movies.

The thing is, I don't think Laura Lark really intended this meaning. I've come along with an interpretation that just wasn't there before I made it up. I do this all the time, it seems. So my apologies to Laura Lark and all the artists who have suffered through my spurious readings of their work.

The Livable Forest can be seen at Devin Borden Gallery.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Note on Open Space at the Joanna

by Robert Boyd

Feeble Protest Sign
Brendan Sullivan, Feeble Protest Sign, wood, paint, nail, 2009

The artist-run space Open Space from Baltimore had a one-night-only show at the Joanna, preceded the night before by a panel discussion at Rice. The exhibit wasn't particularly memorable--I thought the art reflected a callow approach. And that is to be expected--these artists were all very recent graduates from art school. But it was interesting to hear how they put their space together versus the usual Houston story. For one thing, their space seems enormous--a large live-work space. It is a little like Fort Thunder, but based on the photos, a lot less grungy. The artists live upstairs, and the gallery space and library is downstairs. The gallery itself looks quite professional. Even though it's an industrial space they rent (they share the building with an auto-body shop), it doesn't look raw or messy. (Of course, I'm basing this on the photos they showed. The reality might be different.) And it's not a place to show their own work--their rule is that exhibits have to be by other people.

My Cousin
Margo Benson Malter, My Cousin, wood, digital print on lycra, hardware, 2011

But one thing they do that I don't see any Houston artists' spaces doing was that they have a library. I'm not sure how the library works (can you actually check out books?), but in the mini-library they set up in the Joanna, they also were selling zines and music. So it was in effect a bookstore. Some of you may remember that Diverseworks used to have a bookstore. I've heard it was a money-loser which is why after a long time trying to make it work, they finally shut it down. I miss it. Not just for the publications I could buy (and did buy, when I had the dough), but also because it showed me what people were thinking around the country. I guess that function has been replaced by the internet.

the library
Open Space library at The Joanna

Another thing that Open Space did for this show is to produce a zine which they sold at the show. It was a transcribed conversation about how they would survive collectively in the event of some apocalyptic episode, where perhaps one third of the population of the earth just died.

Seduce & Stab

The title of the zine, Seduce & Stab, comes from the suggestion by the designer, who suggests using seduction (followed by stabbing) against perceived human threats. This conversation was pretty silly, and I get the feeling that these guys wouldn't last too long. (For example, no one suggested that following the collapse of civilization, step one would be securing water, then food.)

But what impressed me was the quality of the zine--nicely designed, well-printed (with silk-screened covers)--and while the subject matter was goofy, it was something that they had thought a lot about. Eric Bos wrote a pretty well-researched essay about a case of starvation-induced cannibalism in an arctic expedition, asking whether in similarly straitened conditions, would he and his friends do the same?

I don't know if Seduce & Stab was a one-off thing, or if the space regularly publishes pamphlets/zines. It's something I never see in Houston, and wish I did. Aside from catalogs, the Houston art scene is not about publications and not about writing. (I'm sure there are some exceptions--please educate me about them in the comments!) But the thing about pamphlets, chapbooks, and zines is that they are permanent. Buying a piece of original art might be out of the question for most people. But a $3 zine like Seduce & Stab is within most people's means. When you go to an artists' space, it's nice to be able to take something home.


Fernando Mastrangelo at PG Contemporary

by Robert Boyd

installation view
This Too Shall Pass installation view

Fernando Mastrangelo's exhibit This Too Shall Pass at PG Contemporary consists of five identical Virgin Mary statues and five rectangular pedestals, along with various other objects and substances. Each Virgin is associated with a particular substance. (I couldn't tell if the statues are made of the substance, or if they are mass-produced plaster statues coated with the substance.) Each pedestal is a different color. And each grouping includes some extra stuff or object.

Sugar Epoxy
Fernando Mastrangelo, This Too Shall Pass (Sugar, Epoxy), mixed media, 32 x 15 x 7 inches (statue) and 42 x 10 x 10 inches (pedestal)

The statue is coated with sugar and epoxy, and it appears that the sugar has been painted or dyed. The object on top of the pedestal is mysterious. The combination of colors (black, blue and red) is quite striking, and lace doily provides a strong visual contrast to the black pedestal, which has the portentous presence of the monolith from 2001.

Birdseed, Epoxy
Fernando Mastrangelo, This Too Shall Pass (Bird Seed, Epoxy), mixed media, 32 x 15 x 7 inches (statue) and 42 x 10 x 10 inches (pedestal)

Mastrangelo takes his two repeated elements--the statue and the pedestal--and combines them differently for each piece. Above the statue is covered with bird seed and epoxy. Their is a wooden pentacle between the pedestal and the wall, partially obscured. I associate the pentacle with pop neo-paganism and Satanism, so perhaps we can see this piece as speaking of the opposition of Christianity and Catholocism in particular to Satanism and neo-paganism.

Salt Epoxy
Fernando Mastrangelo, This Too Shall Pass (Salt, Epoxy), mixed media, 32 x 15 x 7 inches (statue) and 42 x 10 x 10 inches (pedestal)

Goats Milk, Epoxy
Fernando Mastrangelo, This Too Shall Pass (Salt, Goat's Milk), mixed media, 32 x 15 x 7 inches (statue) and 42 x 10 x 10 inches (pedestal)

Goats Milk, Epoxy
Fernando Mastrangelo, This Too Shall Pass (Salt, Goat's Milk), mixed media, 32 x 15 x 7 inches (statue) and 42 x 10 x 10 inches (pedestal)

Gunpowder Epoxy
Fernando Mastrangelo, This Too Shall Pass (Salt, Gunpowder), mixed media, 32 x 15 x 7 inches (statue) and 42 x 10 x 10 inches (pedestal)

Mastrangelo has used various  materials to create sculptural objects to critique things he opposes (for instance, an Aztec calendar made out of cornmeal to protest NAFTA). The problem is that it is not particularly obvious what he is protesting, unless it is explained to you. I have no idea what these sculptures mean. Does he have a beef with the Catholic Church? If so, what do salt, gunpowder, goat's milk, birdseed and sugar have to do with his complaint?

This is a collection of beautiful, mysterious objects. The materials are all highly resonant. When I think of sugar, I think of the Atlantic slave trade, for example. Sugar was a labor intensive crop that for plantations in the Caribeain and Brazil absolutely depended on slaves to produce and export to Europe. And I also think of my own sweet tooth and how it damages my health. Goat's milk makes me think of goat's milk cheese and delicious pizzas. Gunpowder makes me think of China, war, and fireworks. I could go on, but the point is that not only do the pieces look beautiful, they are like a drop of water falling into the lake that is a viewer's mind, setting off ripples. The problem for the artist is that ripples go in all directions, not necessarily in the direction he intends.

If Mastrangelo is making some kind of statement about the church, it is unclear (to me) what it is. But even so, I end up liking This Too Shall Pass quite a bit. In fact, I would like it less if it all just boiled down to "the Catholic Church is bad." That would be trivial. Political messages are narrow, while the uncontrolled ripples of meaning in this show are potentially infinite.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Ken Price, 1935-2012

by Robert Boyd

Ken Price
Ken Price piece that was on view at the Houston Fina Art Fair last year

Ken Price, the brilliant ceramic sculptor, one of the Ferus boys, died today in New Mexico. Jerry Saltz offers a very nice remembrance. The Menil has some Ken Price pieces, some of which were displayed last year. I hope they will be brought out again. This has been a bad month--Mike Kelley, Charlie Stagg, and now Ken Price.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Fine Art Resource Management Company?

by Robert Boyd


Seen on Colquitt last weekend.


Pinterest and Art

by Robert Boyd

pinterest logo

If you haven't been living in a monastery for the past few weeks, you've probably heard of the latest iteration of social networking, Pinterest. Pinterest is a website that allows you to toss up images from other websites into little collections called "boards" (i.e., bulletin boards). I think the idea of these boards is semi-aspirational. Like a board called "Fashion" might be used as a way for the board owner to keep visual notes on fashion she would like to have for herself. I use "she" deliberately because Pinterest appeals primarily to women users. Common users' boards are fashion, makeup, hair-styles, and home decor. And fundamentally, it seems strongly oriented towards consumer products and consumerism in general. (Read more about Pinterest here.)

But it strikes me as a particularly useful social media site for fans of art as well as art professionals. What it does really well is to make it easy to post an image that you like. And any plugged-in art lover is always coming across images that she likes. Here's how my Pinterest space looks.

pinterest screen

I have seven boards (at present). "Art I've Seen and Liked" the one I pin to most. If I see something I like on Hyperallergic, for example, I'll "pin" it to that board. And if someone looks at the image and likes it, they can click through back to the original Hyperallergic post. (I mention this because in one way, Pinterest allows you to swipe images, but I think it ultimately benefits the site you swiped from if viewers click back to the origin.) It goes without saying that I also post images from posts on The Great God Pan Is Dead. So far, the traffic back to this site from Pinterest is modest, but every day I get new "followers" on Pinterest, so I expect that to grow. (Below is the "Art I've Seen and Liked" board.)

pinterest board

This seems like the obvious benefit--any artist who blogs or has a Tumblr or Flickr account can spread her own images of her art via Pinterest. Likewise galleries and museums which host images on their own website. Pinning them onto their own Pinterest pages pushes them out into the world where they can be followed back to the source. The ease of use of Pinterest (by far the easiest of all social media that I have tried) combined with the emphasis on images make it, I think, an potentially powerful tool for people in the art world.