Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Conceptual Art

I regard myself as antipathetic when it comes to Conceptual Art, because for me it has moved too far from the creative to the introverted.  It seems to want to be controversial for its own sake.  It is an ideas based creativity originating in philosophical ideas of language, history, mathematics, non-authorial self reflexivity etc., and much of it to my mind is an incredible waste of time. That is not to say that some ideas did come from it, albeit with very little inspiration. (see post Redefining Reality) Darboven's work seeks to explore time passing, by listing dates and mathematical formulae, one page entry for every year of a century.  Time logged as opposed to slipping by.  A 39ft wall of entries.

  That to me is not art so I cannot approach the subject with much relish, but I admire her tenacity. Time is only valuable if it is used wisely or indeed joyously, not by documenting it. It turns her into an automaton, but perhaps that is what she has set out to do, as Adrian Piper attempts to switch off the sensory mode in order to become an "object", but this can only ever be superficial as the brain cannot be switched off only conveyed into a different state of consciousness with drug inducement. It is similar to the selfless act, which can never be. Like many other painters the desire seems to be to destroy art in the hope of creating something, it is a bizarre idealism.  Mondrian did it, Klein did it, the Dadaists started it.  The idea is to excoriate commercialism in art but it is a false and in my view completely unnecessary vision. The galleries and exhibition spaces around the world bring art to the masses, sitting in some studio keeping a record of dates does nothing for anyone, I would venture to say.  I have found it difficult to see any of her paintings but the "untitled" clock in white obviously adopts the monochrome of Klein. 

Nonetheless, I am supposed to be comparing/contrasting another artist like Darboven, and I would think that Douglas Huebler's work in terms of the scale and reach of his work matches that of Darboven. He investigates duration, location and variable pieces together with linguistic exploration. Stated existence of sculptures in an apartment and suggested viewers should call to view. Used maps, photos and descriptions to "install" sculptures too large to fit physically. Snow marks as sculpture. Marked out journeys on maps. Wedges located then moved. 3 photos at 30 secs, 20 secs, 10 secs of children jumping rope all displayed out of sequence. He intends to photograph everyone in the world, at least he should have fun doing it! It is difficult to talk in terms of size and format because there really isn't one, it is only by the concept and extent of work that comparisons can be made.

Likewise Adrian Piper initiallly worked on  table sequences with figures but she is interested in  the self-conscious in terms of space and time she moves through a photo relates to timed or random moments. Tries to become an "object" by closing off sensory mode, in public, a bit like a mime street artist. The move away from support, subject or object into the concept of issues relating to time, the passing of it, and how it is conceived and viewed is what these artist have in common.

Piero Manzoni's work continued in the nihilist approach of Fontana's art, but under the influence of Klein he started to work in monochromes, or more precisely, achromes.  At first he used cotton sheet soaked in kaolin, the clay used in porcelain manufacture, but they were in the mould of a pictorial work, later though still soaked in kaolin they became objects, collages of pebbles, bread rolls.  Later he eliminates kaolin altogether and produces objects for their own sake which are white, fibreglass, styrofoam, a poke at industrialization and toxicity hazards.  But his idea of kitsch, the culture of trash continues to interest him, and produces provocative works such as various Artist's faeces in cans, and other bizarre, actually rather childish pranks or practices.

Alan Ebnother works in monochrome but with texture and ice cream colours, there is no element of collage, but they are in terms of size not wall paintings but easel paintings. They are not achrome i.e. without colour. 

It would of course be possible to use all red objects to create say a red monochrome,  if it is the object itself containing the colour.  I can't find anyone doing this, as most monochromists use paint to select their colour. For me once a minimalist monochrome has been produced I can't see a lot of point in reproducing it.  Manzoni did at least introduce texture and found objects into his work, yet artists like Markus Dobeli and Ellen Gallagher continue to produce fairly minimalist work, though Gallagher does incorporate an element of
abstracted figuration into her work which is not initially obvious.   Toba Khedoori also produces some interesting work which is almost achrome but highly personal she produces large fragile paper sheets with small confined images that evoke solitude and empty space.

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