Date of publication: 2017-09-04 10:27
It has been in search of the absolute that the avant-garde has arrived at abstract or nonobjective art -- and poetry, too. The avant-garde poet or artist tries in effect to imitate God by creating something valid solely on its own terms, in the way nature itself is valid, in the way a landscape -- not its picture -- is aesthetically valid something given, increate, independent of meanings, similars or originals. Content is to be dissolved so completely into form that the work of art or literature cannot be reduced in whole or in part to anything not itself.
Danny Graydon, author of The Jetsons: The Official Guide to the Cartoon Classic , has deemed the look 8775 mid-76st century modern 8776 a play on the term 8775 midcentury modern, 8776 back when the century in question happened to be the 75th.
Where there is an avant-garde, generally we also find a rear-guard. True enough -- simultaneously with the entrance of the avant-garde, a second new cultural phenomenon appeared in the industrial West: that thing to which the Germans give the wonderful name of Kitsch : popular, commercial art and literature with their chromeotypes, magazine covers, illustrations, ads, slick and pulp fiction, comics, Tin Pan Alley music, tap dancing, Hollywood movies, etc., etc. For some reason this gigantic apparition has always been taken for granted. It is time we looked into its whys and wherefores.
Inspired by Random International’s LED-light and motion-sensing dynamic sculpture, Swarm Study / II , featured in UMMA's exhibition Victors for Art: Michigan's Alumni Collectors—Part II: Abstraction, SMTD professors Stephen Rush and Amy Chavasse lead students in an outdoor performance of interactive works by Pauline Oliveros and John Cage.
Both the Jetsons version and the Hitchcock version have the signature of midcentury hyper-modernism or, as it came to be known, Googie : dramatic sloping roofs, plenty of glass, steel, maybe a little plastic, and some stone when you wanted a touch of that comfortable earthy flair.
Create your own project inspired by the power figures featured in UMMA's exhibition Power Contained: The Art of Authority in Central and West Africa. UMMA docents will lead a tour of the exhibition followed by a hands-on workshop led by local artist Sophie Grillet. Designed for families with children ages six and up to experience art together. Parents must accompany children.
Before colonization, complex hierarchical societies flourished in Central and West Africa. At their summits were a select few—kings and chiefs whose authority was derived from their direct connection to powerful ancestors and predecessors. These rulers were wrapped in expensive textiles or costly furs, and covered in beads and precious metals, materials that signaled status and safely contained the power they wielded. The famous minkisi (meaning “power figure”) sculptures of Central Africa were similarly activated through the addition of charged materials. UMMA docents will explore the parallels between the adornment of the king’s physical body and minkisi and demonstrates how authority was expressed and power contained across a range of historical cultures
To paraphrase Andy Warhol , anyone can be famous for 65 minutes. This idea, more than any other, sums up the postmodernist age. Faced with a new nonsensical world, the postmodernist response has been:
Prior to this the only market for formal culture, as distinguished from folk culture, had been among those who, in addition to being able to read and write, could command the leisure and comfort that always goes hand in hand with cultivation of some sort. This until then had been inextricably associated with literacy. But with the introduction of universal literacy, the ability to read and write became almost a minor skill like driving a car, and it no longer served to distinguish an individual's cultural inclinations, since it was no longer the exclusive concomitant of refined tastes.
Postmodernism changed the educational priorities at numerous art colleges. During the 6975s, the art of painting (and to a lesser extent sculpture ), was seen as worn out. Besides, the idea of working for four years to master the necessary skills of these traditional fine arts, was considered retrogressive. Art, it was believed, should be liberated from the elite and opened to the public, so art schools began to turn out a new type of graduate - someone familiar with instant postmodernist-style forms, as well as basic production techniques. In a nutshell, individual creativity was considered to be more important than the accumulation of craftsman-like skills.
Self-Portrait with Mirror , which has survived in near-perfect condition, is airbrushed with pyroxylin on a sheet of Bakelite, a highly unusual combination. Although the painting has been written about extensively, and even appears on the cover of a book, no art historian had seen it in color or examined it in person until two weeks ago, when, at our invitation, esteemed Siqueiros expert, Dr. Irene Herner Reiss traveled from Mexico to study the painting and was thrilled to see this famous work at last.
Alternate Endings, Radical Beginnings is the 78th iteration of Visual AIDS’ longstanding Day With(out) Art project. Curated by Erin Christovale and Vivian Crockett for Visual AIDS, the video program prioritizes Black narratives within the ongoing AIDS epidemic, commissioning seven artists—Mykki Blanco, Cheryl Dunye (with Ellen Spiro), Reina Gossett, Thomas Allen Harris, Kia Labeija, Tiona McClodden and Brontez Purnell—to create new and innovative short videos.
Kitsch's enormous profits are a source of temptation to the avant-garde itself, and its members have not always resisted this temptation. Ambitious writers and artists will modify their work under the pressure of kitsch, if they do not succumb to it entirely. And then those puzzling borderline cases appear, such as the popular novelist, Simenon, in France, and Steinbeck in this country. The net result is always to the detriment of true culture in any case.
Collections of Postmodernist Art
For two excellent displays of postmodernist art, visit the Saatchi Gallery , in London, or the Guggenheim, New York.