Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

30 July 2017

Dr Great Art Episode 17: Provinciality in Art





The newest "Dr Great Art" podcast. "Episode 17: Provinciality in Art." Times have changed drastically. Now, what provinciality is has been turned completely around. It is a state of mind, not geography.
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-17-provinciality-in-art

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This is the script (not a transcript, as I change elements when recording).

 Dr Great Art Podcast 17: Provinciality in Art

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 17th "Dr Great Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.

Today my Artecdote concerns Provinciality in Art and the Artworld.

Yes Provinciality. A word that commands fear in the artworld.

The standard definition of 'provinciality' in our context is the character of artists or art(sub-) worlds to lack the sophistication of some urban center deemed better, or of having the styles, viewpoints, etc., considered characteristic of unsophisticated inhabitants of a province; rustic; insular. Not knowing or following what is considered currently by the consensus "in" or au courant. Say, painting in an Impressionist style in Russia a 100 years after its halcyon days in Paris.

Times have changed drastically. In our time, the situation has been upturned.

Provinciality is now best construed as a state of mind, rather than one of geography.

Once upon a time, provinciality consisted of knowing nothing of the world-at-large, only looking at local art and culture. Now that has inverted. The new provinciality is a form of consensus globalism, where you are always looking elsewhere, copying New York or the Biennale or documenta and never really looking at the great art occurring around your own corner.

Before I left Chicago, I saw such an attitude kill much of the creativity of the local art scene, driving the city into spot 3 after New York and Los Angeles in the US. LA did the opposite. Looked at and appreciated itself and rose to spot 2 in the US. London finally did it with the YBAs as well, and rose to spot 2 in the world. Berlin is closing in now by being itself! And New York City has ALWAYS looked at itself, its local artists, it has had curators who show those artists, critics who write about them SERIOUSLY and so on. So do not blame THEM, I have also heard such complaint, for doing it right!

In Chicago, I saw that NOT looking at your LOCAL art, produced copyist work, and I saw that the clique behind this thereby actually shrank, not widened, the horizon of a then burgeoning Chicago scene. Under them, the city was firmly provincialized into a receptor fiefdom under a small oligarchy, soon proven fact when LA vastly overtook it. Believe me. I was there, showing with a gallerist, now long gone, who actually told me about the whole "arrangement" going on to achieve this reprehensible goal. This happens regularly in many if not most other places, in our current art situation. Simple minds like simple situations they can lazily understand and which they hope to pigeonhole and control.

I have seen it elsewhere as well, particularly in Switzerland where I now live, with its love/hate relationships to Germany and the US. The new self-induced form of provincialism is a result of NOT being aware of the art creativity around you, of always looking with longing eyes to some distant "center." One should look at artists, curators, critics and art historians involved in the international artworld, of course, yet also primarily interact with ones own (supposedly) peripheral communities. Artist Alex Meszmer has opined (opEIned) that behind this lies the attempt to achieve "a little piece of Documenta, or New York, finally in every backyard." While ignoring your own neighbors.

First, there is no real single artWORLD. As Paul Klein has said, it is a conglomeration of artVILLAGES. Making one or two of those villages unnecessarily sovereign is the new provincialism --- and in your head.

Second, Simon Deakin has written that you can still manage to avoid knowing anything of the world-at-large regardless of where you go or what art you look at. Even in the centers.

Third, an ex-curator of a Kunsthalle told me in discussion when I brought up this idea, that I had forgotten that it is the duty of curators in provincial areas to educate the local artists through confrontation with influences from outside. This is completely idiotic. Such "instruction" is totally unnecessary in our globally networked society. WE HAVE THE INTERNET, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND TRAVEL! Times and information-flow have changed. In much of the 20th century and earlier, one needed to live in Paris, or Florence, or New York City or wherever in order to quickly keep abreast of stimulating arguments and activities. That is no longer true!

Most of the people who live and work outside the few urban centers for culture immediately know everything that occurs in them. Normally, I have seen what is happening in New York City, Berlin, London, Zurich, Chicago, LA, and other centers, directly THERE. And then 8 years later I am "instructed" about it in St. Gallen, near where I live?! This teaching consists mainly in telling us which curatorially-correct and momentarily accepted tendencies we should kow-tow before — something of a "Top o' the Pops" for the artworld, or even more banal, an "Art World Star Search."

There is indeed a small residue of the old-fashioned form of provinciality in the cliqueyness of some insecure artists. Something Switzerland, where I live, is unfortunately world famous for. (Other than THAT it is a wonderful art scene.) Critic Peter Schjeldahl is correct in saying that artists operate best in small packs, like wild dogs, but packs of artists, curators, critics and art historians who have clumped together because they share highly similar world views, art interests, artistic goals. Not just because they want power or to brownnose those with power and to serve as ersatz Fisherman clubs for the semi-artsy.

I recently was doing a Dr Great Art performance-lecture on Community-Based Art, Social-Practice. One artist said to me, "well, we are community-based because we have a tight little clique!" That is NOT SoPra, not what I mean, not really even a community, but rather an in-group, usually one of copyists, as I have already bemoaned.

What is the answer? I gave some pointers in Dr Great Art Podcast Number Seven Titled "What Can We Do? Art Beyond Complaint." Please go back and listen to that.

A few pointers in short: ignore these uninformed ideas of provincialism. Offer and create constructive alternatives, construct your own local artworlds, venues and so on. Encourage others who do the same. Help build up critics, curators, students and especially other artists who pay attention to what is around them, who have independent minds. Network in a POSITIVE sense --- and WELL BEYOND just artists! With your whole local community, as best as you can. The artworld drastically needs expansion, stronger artvillages linked to the rest of the community will be an important part of this!

Provinciality is now a state of mind, not geography. The new provinciality is a form of consensus globalism, where you are always looking elsewhere, copying. Look at yourself, at those creating great art around you, discuss it seriously and critically. Be tough and open. Expand art's audience. It begins at home in ones own neighborhood.

That was "Provinciality in Art."

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 17. If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations. Three recent ones were on the the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today, Metaphor(m) in Art History, and Mongrel Art.

I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, Mike Hagler, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast. More about them in a future podcast.

You can find or contact me at
www.drgreatart.com/

book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com

or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.









15 July 2017

My Metaphor(m), a free e-book, art documentation



Get your free e-pub version of the documentation book (called "artists' catalogues" in the jargon) of my huge painting-installation at Jedlitschka Gallery in Zurich, Switzerland based on my PhD dissertation.

I recommend NOT using Microsoft Edge to read it (which Windows computers tries to use immediately), as it eliminates the cover and puts the double page spreads wrong. MY favorite for its visual effect is the program "Cover" (also free), originally intended for comics. (http://www.frenchfrysoftware.com/cover/)

Here is the publication! (c), tm and all that 2013, 2017 Mark Staff Brandl
I hope you enjoy it! Right click, download, then read in your viewer:
http://www.markstaffbrandl.com/my_metaphorm_install/Brandl_My%20metaphorm_e-book.epub

Dr Great Art Episode 16: Postmodernism Exists


My newest podcast! Episode 16: Postmodernism Exists.This artecdote concerns the beginning of the period, or transitional subperiod, of art in which we now exist: Postmodernism. It cannot be talked away or ignored, nor should it be worshipped. But we are in it since 1979. It is a transitional period, true, but it is here. How it began and what it is so far.
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-16-postmodernism-exists

--- 
This is the script (not a transcript, as I change elements when recording). 


Dr Great Art Podcast Sixteen
"Postmodernism Exists"

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 16th "Dr Great Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.

Today my Artecdote concerns the period, or transitional subperiod, of art in which we now exist: Postmodernism.

Yes PoMo exists. "PoMo" is, by the way, artists' slang for Postmodernism.
Postmodernism began in the artworld about 1979. As always, there were philosophical texts prefiguring the idea before that, stretching back to the 1960s mostly. That is indeed where the term 'postmodernism' itself came from. Such prefiguring in philosophy is quite common in art and art history, nevertheless these texts do not count as any real beginning of any trend itself. It is not part of art until it is manifested IN artworks themselves, and regularly. Furthermore, once an entity or direction of art and thought clearly exists, we always go back in time looking for antecedents. That is one of the most significant uses of history. It does NOT, however, replace actual activity and embodiment.

Therefore, as a clarification, two of the preferred precursors of Postmodern art, frequently cited by PoMo artists, are Dada, particularly Marcel Duchamp, and Pop Art, particularly Andy Warhol. That fact does NOT make them themselves "postmodern." rather "proto-PoMo."
Conflating retroactively acknowledged forerunners of a thing with the actual historical engendering of it is a logical fallacy. That, together with simple chauvinism is why Germans are wrong in claiming Postmodernism is anything after 1945. 1945 was the end of THEIR (and Europe's dominance) of art, not the end of their important participation it must be added, and certainly not the "End of Art" or anything similar. The dominance went to New York. To ignore or try to rewrite that is simple Nationalist, Continental and Cultural Chauvinism, even unacknowledged jingoism.
And while I have learned that surprisingly many do not know the term 'chauvinism' let me quickly define it. It is excessive or blind nationalism or partisanship, undue partiality or attachment to a group or place to which one belongs or has belonged. Something linked to but separate from racism. It can turn up in sexism, but that is a topic for another podcast.

All endings and beginnings are actually fuzzy. They overlap other cultural entities. History is inherently messy. Late Modernism, for example, has continued on through Postmodernism; artists doing that have produced many great works. But it is the slow ending of an important cultural and art historical period, Modernism,--- no longer the dominant force.

That said, to clearly conceive of when something begins, one needs to plainly determine operative determining properties, principles  --- or paradigms. (For that listen the last Dr Great Art podcast about fuzzy categories and paradigms.) When these are tossed overboard, contradicted, countermanded, --- something has changed drastically. When the largest group of creators do this, a new period of culture is at hand. Such as the change from Renaissance over Mannerism to the Baroque, which was slow but sure, ending in a period which at the first was as powerful as the Renaissance, yet contradicted many of its mainstay ideas --- clear, stable geometric compositions become spirals of activity, lucid color and light become dramatic chiaroscuro and so on.
But FIRST there was the transitional period of Mannerism, which I discussed in Dr Great Art podcast Nr. 9. That too, was a clear shift, one closer to our topic today, Postmodernism's beginning: irony, exaggerated spectacle, capricious "shoddy-chic" structure, unresolved technological borrowings, overly fashionable poststructuralist theorization, and so on replaced the avant-garde experimentations, solidity, revolutionary drive and so on of Modernism.

Most importantly, the rejection of sincerity and reductivism signals Postmodernism's turn away from Modernism. I welcomed the rejection of the latter, but still rue the loss of the former.
What is Postmodernism in art? Over-superficially described, it is a purposeful departure from Modernism, flavored by skepticism and irony, often associated with theory such as deconstruction and post-structuralism; it is anti-reductivist, anti-sincere, playful at best, academicist at worst. Jeff Koons and others. It is clearly a transitional period.

There are some people who claim it doesn't exist. Or better said, they believe that by avoiding or denying the term, they can somehow magically make Postmodernism go away. Sometimes I would love to have that power too, but it is not possible, and is inane denial. Others, or even sometimes the same people, particularly architects, try to confine PoMo by alleging that it is only a simple style tic, and that we will return or have returned to Late Modernism. There is no reverse on this gear box called history. We may later return to certain values of Modernism, but in new fashions. Believing the "tic" theory is blatantly sticking ones head in the sand to avoid an unpleasant change.
Indeed many of us, including me, want to get beyond it, out of it. But not by ignoring or disavowing Postmodernism.

The term 'postmodernism' first entered the philosophical lexicon in 1979, with the publication of The Postmodern Condition by Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard, but reaches as I said waaaay back, to around the 1880s. For artists the beginning can be seen as 1979. Then, the term began to used to describe a turning away from Modernist architecture, an attack on the Modernist International Style. Postmodernism in architecture saw a re-emergence of surface ornament, reference to surrounding context, historical reference in decorative forms, and eclecticism, but not usually syncretism. (For a bit about eclecticism and syncretism, please listen to Dr Great Art Nr. 11 on syncretism and Easter).
At this time, the artworld was in an uproar. It was increasingly clear that Modernism had, surprisingly, indeed been a "period," not the ultimate state of culture, and furthermore that it was slowly coming to a close. Postmodernism seemed a little insipid, even unappealing at first, then later exciting as diverse anti- or retro-styles vied for the pole position. French literary theory of a Deconstructivist bent slowly became hegemonic. Architects were shocked by Philip Johnson's conversion, by Michael Graves and Robert Venturi. Critic-turned-architect Charles Jencks began writing books on Post-Modernist architecture --- then still with a hyphen, not elided in imitation of French until it became trendy.

All we artists read that stuff and the term stuck. It was true enough (it was after all AFTER Modernism in several senses) and yet seemed free and open enough. Then came the second surprise, the right-cross following the left-lead of PoMo architecture: Feminist Art! It had been gaining speed and power since the 60s, but about then it really spread to the art schools and opened all our eyes. Art from Womanhouse from 1971 on, Miriam Schapiro and Judy Chicago and others, but especially Judy's wonderful 1979 The Dinner Party  --- and "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" by Linda Nochlin, finally being taught and argued over in schools, museums, Kunsthallen, galleries, and studios everywhere! Art that CLEARLY had CONTENT! What our largely Formalist instructors had most vociferously prohibited! It was exciting! Well --- until 1985 when PoMo froze into a New Academicism. But that is a story for a later podcast. Soon.

For now, an introduction. What are the sections or movements of Postmodernist Art until now? Note: This is NOT "Stilkunde" as it has sometimes been practiced --- this is a list, from an eye-witness, of groups of artists who share, or felt they shared, important core concerns and approaches, in the order in which they gained peak attention form the artworld. Most are New York-based, until just recently, which accounts for certain dissent, as mentioned already, but this is little different from looking at the important river of movements in Europe, primarily Paris, from Impressionism through Early Abstraction and so on. True, in many of these from 1985 on, the artists are curators' and speculators' servants, but much of early art was dependant on aristocracy or the church or such earlier European power-brokers. Now the American power-brokers are capitalists, the European ones curators. That is all a theme for several future podcasts.

Let me list the "movements" of PoMo so far. As they gained world-wide "traction," attention.

1.    Postmodernist Architecture
2.    Feminist Art
3.    New Imagism
4.    Pattern and Decoration
5.    Neo-Everything (many 'Neos', "Pictures," Graffiti, etc.)
6.    Neo-Expressionism
     (incl. Neue Wilden, transavanguardia)
7.    Neo-Geo / Appropriation
8.    Neo-Conceptualism
9.    Video-Installations
10.  Conceptual Abstract Painting
11.  Provisional "Bad" Painting
12.  Neo-Conceptualist-Events / Spectaclism (incl. Relational Aesthetics)
13.  Vernacular-Art / Street Art / Sequential Art as Fine Art
14.  Social Practice Art
15.  Sci-Art (Green-Eco-Art, Science-Art, etc.)
16.  Mongrel Art / Democratic Art
17.  Post-Postmodernismus?

1979 till now. More about dates and such in future Dr Great Art Podcast where I hope to discuss each of these individually.

For now, let's accept it. Analyze it, get hopefully get beyond it by maturing and healthifying it. Postmodernism in Art Exists.

Changes in society and economics usually must occur before art can take up a new course. Great things do not come of terrible disasters as is currently a popular ahistorical trope, but RATHER of HOPE based on the promises of new developments. We are faaaaar from there yet.

That was "Postmodernism Exists."

Thanks for listening. That was podcast number 16. If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations. Some recent ones were on the image of Social work in Art History, "Kunstgeschichte in Schnelldurchlauf, Sozialarbeit in der Kunst," the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today, and Metaphor(m) in Art History.

You can find or contact me at
www.drgreatart.com
or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.

11 July 2017

Blues Man in the Life of the Mind, Rocker in Art

I cannot work when sad. For my art I need hope, and that gives me inspiration and energy and ideas.


I think much art, especially American, especially African-American, comes out of a Blues mentality --- but NOT 'melancholy' as thought of in the past!


Dr Cornel West describes himself as a "Bluesman in the life of the mind, and a Jazzman in the world of ideas."


I feel similarly, I am a Bluesman of the mind, a RocknRoller of painting, a sequential-artist/comicbook penciler of art history. West is an amazing inspiration to me.