Archive for December, 2011

Hey y’all~

Clive Barker, "Rue Morgue's Death's Head", 2004, Oil on Canvas

Read before you bash me: These are thoughts that’s been brewing in my head for quite some time and I needed a spot to let it all out. When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with Clive Barker paintings. I was really excited to see an artist I could finally relate to. His colors and characters are absolutely gorgeous! Excited, I rushed to my dad’s office and exclaimed, “Dad! Check out this awesome painter!” My dad replies bluntly, “That’s an illustrator.” Slightly confused and disheartened by his unphased reaction I stuttered, “B-but, but… he uses paint. Doesn’t that make this a painting?” Again, he answered monotonously, “It’s an illustration”. Well, what’s wrong with an illustration? What does a painting need to do to be a painting and not an illustration? Going through college, this topic is constantly debated. Frankly, I’m fed up with this argument. Does it matter whether an artist is fine or not? Can’t we let this person create whatever he or she wants and not argue over where the work shows up? Okay, so here we go with how personally see it:

Kazimir Malevich, "Black Square", 1915, Oil on Canvas

Back in 1915, Kazmir Malevich’s Suprematist oil paintings were considered the highest form of art. Now, thanks to Marcel Duchamp and his brave readymades two years later, there are no hierarchies in art. In fact, there is no way to tell what is art and what is not. Despite this theory, there are still arguments on whether an image is a painting or an illustration. Which is more of an art: a lurid painting or a petty illustration?

Let us take two artists, Gil Elvgren and Lisa Yuskavage. Gil Elvgren is considered one of the greatest pin-up artists in American illustration history. Like all pin-ups, his vibrantly painted muses portray the all-American feminine ideal. These women are often dressed as housewives, maids, performers, or adventurers. For these playful, sensuous ladies, daily activities become glamorous moments and clumsiness turns into sexy snapshots. A Shady Trick, painted in 1953, is a good example of the two characteristics. Here, a woman in green turtleneck and long, black skirt is simply opening a window. As she rolls up the shades her skirt is caught in the blinds, exposing her slender legs in sheer stockings and high heels.

Gil Elvgren, "A Shady Trick", 1953

Lisa Yuskavage is painter rising from the 90s who has developed her own genre of female nudes. Unlike Elvgren’s pin-ups, which daintily tease the viewer, her paintings are sexually charged in an explicit, confrontational manner. Her figures are like caricatures: voluptuous bodies with large breasts, small waist, and full buttocks. Typically, these girls are placed in dramatic interiors or mystic landscapes, narcissistically contemplating their own bodies, sharing an intimate moment with another female, or staring back at the audience with pouting eyes as if to say, “Why are you doing this to me?”

To this day, some audiences are shocked to see Yuskavage’s work on gallery walls.  Peter Trippi of Fine Art Connoisseur magazine, during a lecture in 2009 for his “Enchantment” exhibition at the University of Hartford’s Joseloff gallery, simply stated her work is pornographic. Other dissatisfied viewers have dismissed her work as kitsch, superficial appearance created without thought. On the other hand, avant-garde artists would criticize Elvgren for being an illustrator, working under the restraints of a client and in favor of the masses like thoughtless propaganda. By that definition, illustration is frowned upon as “non-art”. Looking into the intention of the two artists, Elvgren would in fact be more kitsch than Yuskavage. Pin-up imagery is mass-produced to “pin up” on a wall and enjoy the view of fantasy. What separates Yuskavage’s paintings from these illustrations is she neither works for a client nor creates pleasing imagery for the public. She purposefully paints uncomfortable images to comment on acceptable versus unacceptable voyeurism throughout art history and pop culture.

Lisa Yuskavage, "Fireplace", 2010, Oil on linen

If Immanuel Kant were to critique the two artists, Elvgren would be categorized as “agreeable art”, which is art made for mere enjoyment—entertainment for the moment rather than profound effect on the future. Yuskavage would be “fine art”, for her work not only arouses sensations but also stimulates the mind by questioning traditions and making statements. Fine art is “purposive on its own and… furthers… the culture of our mental powers to [facilitate] social communication” (Kant 173). Essentially, Kantian theory would acknowledge both works as art. What is making them “non-art” to viewers is based upon their opinions, taste, and knowledge of what art should look like and intended to be. The general public, who normally would have no awareness on how to observe and critique a painting, would say Yuskavage should be more pleasing to look at. On the contrary, avant-garde artists, who supposedly dealt and exposed to revolutionary concepts that rebels against existing art forms, would say Elvgren is very lacking.

Marcel Duchamp, "Fountain", 1917

In this day and age, art is expected to have many faces. It could be on the museum walls or inside a hardware store. Naturally, with the seemingly endless possibilities from media to concept, critics will create genres and subgenres in art. Whether an image is a painting or an illustration is essentially based on the artist’s intentions. However, whether a painting or illustration is art or non-art is based on viewer opinions not the actual image itself. Popularity in certain art forms may still exist, but Duchamp in the early 20th century has proven that hierarchies do not.

Bibliography & Works Cited

Miesel, Louis K. “Gil Elvgren.”gilelvgren.com. Louis K Meisel and Great American Pin-Up Gallery, 2011. Web. 27 Oct 2011. <http://www.gilelvgren.com/GE/intro.php&gt;.

Pluhar, Werner. Immanuel Kant: Critique of Judgement. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1987. 76-188. Web. <http://blackboard.hartford.edu/bbcswebdav/courses/23772-201140/23772-201140_ImportedContent_20110830021153/Readings/Kant, The Critique of Judgment/Kant1.pdf>

Smith, Zak. “The Rumpus Interview with Zak Smith.” The Rumpus . Interview by Michele Knapp. 16 Jan 2009. Web. <http://therumpus.net/2009/01/the-rumpus-interview-with-zak-smith/&gt;

Thornborough, Ben. “Lisa Yuskavage.” davidzwirner.com. David Zwirner Gallery, 2011. Web. 27 Oct 2011. <http://www.davidzwirner.com/resources/69708/2011 LY Press Release.pdf>

Zohn, Patricia. “Lisa Yuskavage: A Journey of An Art Star” The Huffington Post, 2010. Web. 27 Oct 2011. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patricia-zohn/lisa-yuskavage-the-journe_b_615143.html&gt;


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I've been showing off this picture to everyone everywhere!

Oh, why did I have to leave the sun and the beach? For Miami Art Week, me and three others of the Painting&Drawing Department were chosen to represent the Hartford Art School for Art Basel Miami Beach investigation and Bass Museum of Art internship. I swear, the art world keeps expanding every internship!

Eleni and I adjusting...

...Maggie and Stass bonding!

I wish we could’ve taken more pictures and videos, but this opportunity was far from a vacation. The moment we arrived, we were busy-busy-busy!

mid-left: Kylee Crook, Education Program Manage; mid-right: Adrienne Von Lates, Director of Education

Right away, we were introduced to the Bass Museum of Art, where we started our training. We learned how to give tours for three shows: Erwin Wurm: Beauty Business  curated by Peter Doroshenko, Art Public curated by Christine Kim, and Laurent Grasso: Portrait of a Young Man. The training was fantastic! We not only learned how to talk about other artists, but also educate and interact with the public on these shows. We mostly gave guided tours for Art Public, which was an outdoor survey exhibit of 24 contemporary sculptures.

Stass and Maggie giving an Art Public tour.

Damien Hirst, "Sensation", 2003

Anish Kapoor, "Black Stones, Human Bones", 1993

Rachel Feinstein, "Gargantua", 2011

Robert Melee, "It Sitting", 2008

Zhang Huan, "49 Days No. 1", 2011

Chakaia Booker, "Holla", 2008 (personal favorite ♥)

Darren Bader, "My Aunt's Car" (yes, this car is part of the exhibit)

Some pieces that left an impression. The Damien Hirst pieces looked like a giant birthday cake from afar, haha. Darren Bader’s contemporary readymade was difficult to defend for audiences without any artistic background. Even one of the staff members agreed some of the pieces are so conceptual it bored her to tears. However, I can’t bash an artwork just because it doesn’t fit my taste.

Here’s a fun part of the exhibit! Andrea Bowers and Olga Koumoundouros presents Transformer Display of Community Information and Activation. This neighborhood-specific project invites you to learn and participate in Miami-based organizations and causes. Besides raising awareness, you can join them for a coffee social in the morning and screen print your own t-shirts and sweats!

silly picture after a long night. 😀

Then came the VIP event, opening reception of Erwin Wurm’s show. It was a busy night of collecting tickets and guiding visitors (hence, no pictures of the actual event). Personally, I’m proud of how I greeted all night until my teeth fell out. We got our picture taken by a mystery man from Artforum magazine. He was such a great guy! If only he’d tell us his name!

brief tour from Michael Schutz of Galerie Michael Schultz Berlin|Seoul|Beijing

conversation panels between artists, curators, and collectors.

From left to right: Erwin Wurm, Peter Doroshenko, and our professor, Carol Padberg

Few photos of our adventures throughout the art fairs and me flaunting my VIP memberships to certain events. Galleries, shows, and fairs I visited include: Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Miami, PULSE Miami, de la Cruz Collection, LMNT,  and, SEVEN Miami. Of course, I was in and out of galleries once I hit the Wynwood Art District; my friend, Sam Schiff gave me an awesome tour! All I could think of throughout the week was, “OMGTHERE’SSOMUCHART!” It’s amazing to see how people approach art and tackle its challenges. I saw paintings, sculptures, animations, photos, videos, fashion—you name it, they have it! Unfortunately, we don’t have many pictures since it wasn’t allowed for the most part. We still managed to complete our video assignment on interviewing an artist, a curator, a collector, and a fair organizer.

Miami has many faces. A week was definitely not enough to experience it to the fullest. If it wasn’t for crappy Internet and little leisure time, I would’ve updated on a day to day basis on all kinds of little details. This place is filled with all kinds of fascinations from its motley culture to its beautiful environment. I hope I can go back again someday!


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