Monthly Archives: February 2010

Terry Barrett, Judging Art

So, this chapter was about being deliriously tired but not being able to sleep.

What I gathered from this reading is that you have to separate what you prefer and what you value. Preferences are like taste buds, they change. Maybe today you like one thing, but tomorrow you might like something else better. On the other hand, if you’re like me, you will always be a picky eater.

Values are more permanent. There are certain pieces of art that have greater value than others, but that some people don’t particularly like. These pieces of art have deeper roots, meanings, structures, etc.

The Frida bashing at the beginning of the chapter I did not enjoy, mostly because I love her. I found their parallels between her work and the work of Tina Modotti and Cindy Sherman to be particularly interesting because I had never made those connections before. A connection I have made, however, was between Kahlo’s work and the work of Haley Hasler, from last years visiting artist lecture. I also love her work, her link is on my blog for sure. People can judge Frida all they want, call her a feminist, communist, drama queen, whatever. I don’t care.

Frida Kahlo, Tehuana 1943

At the end of this reading, Barrett stated that critic’s write to “persuade people to like what they like, enjoy what they enjoy.” I’m sure it’s near impossible to keep their opinions out of their work. Barrett also said that critics don’t write for artists, that they write for art-viewers. I’m not really sure how I feel about this though, because I feel that people should have a clear mind when viewing art. They shouldn’t think about what critics said about a piece. So, in a sense I do think critics should write for artists, to judge and interpret their work so that their next works can be more successful.

I do think that criticizing sculpture is very challenging and I do enjoy reading reviews of the kinds of things Martin Puryear creates. I don’t have an extensive background in sculpture, so I am easily bedazzled. I particularly liked Colin Westerbeck’s review of one of Puryear’s pieces: “Several pieces looked as if they were attempts to build a refuge for himself, a hiding place, and interior space large enough for only one man.” This was relatively lacking of opinion, which is good, but still descriptive and interpretive.

Puryear, Self 1978

I did agree with what the critics had to say about David Salle’s paintings. They are very strange juxtaposed images, and are very uncomfortable feeling. I can’t really find anything I do like about the image they were referencing. Two thumbs down for that image. But in looking at some of his other work, I don’t think it is all as terrible as Sextant in Dogtown, which isn’t something I found in the book which lead me to judge him as an artist before I knew of more than just that one bad painting.


Ralph Gibson & Edward Weston

Ralph Gibson

Edward Weston

Ralph Gibson

Imogen Cunningham

Edward Weston

Ralph Gibson

Edward Weston

From viewing the video, I found that both Gibson and Weston shoot similar photographs, especially in their composition of the nudes. What I found differs in their styles is their printing technique. The majority of Weston’s prints have a silvery feel to them, they have mostly midtones with only small areas of highlights and shadow. Gibson himself said that he enjoys printing on the contrasty-side. His prints have mostly stark whites and deep blacks with only areas of midtone.

I also included a photograph by Imogen Cunningham that is a similar image to Gibson’s, but with a different printing style. Gibson was born in 1939. Weston lived from 1886-1958, and Cunningham from 1883-1976. From this information alone, I assume that Gibson’s printing technique is more of a sign of the times. Where as his images are similar to Weston’s and Cunningham’s, they are a more dramatic due to their high contrast.

Terry Barrett, Interpreting Art, Ch. 4

On Set, Wegman 1994

I learned a lot about criticism and interpretation from this chapter. There were a lot of new ideas I had never considered. This chapter touched on three artists in particular; photographs by William Wegman, Textual installations by Jenny Holzer, and 3-dimensional paintings by Elizabeth Murray.

Wegman, in my opinion, is a man with a good sense of humor. I think his photographs go deeper than this, but the underlying theme in most of his photographs falls back on playfulness. I could not understand why people would think that his work is not art. I think his images are beautiful and inventive. From this chapter I learned that “no critics claim to fully understand his work” and that “no single interpretation will exhaust the meaning discoverable in a work of art.” I guess sometimes I just wonder why things have to get so complicated. I like to think for myself and not have other people’s thoughts invading my head.

Jenny Holzer is a strange sort of artist. Her installations of text are definitely modern, I’m just not sold on them. I don’t even know how people can begin to interpret her work.

HW 1: Bracketing and Depth of Field

The last set of images is an unsucessful example of the depth of field exercise. I was using a different camera than the other three sets of images.

Weekly Field Trip Recap, II

This week, I went to both the Rebecca Litt lecture during class and the Wednesday artist lecture by Tom Paiement.

Litt’s was about her residency in France and how it did not go as planned. Instead of bringing her old characters with her, she found new characters in France. I actually really enjoyed her small paintings of the beach and swimmers. I loved the palate and perspective of these small works, and their fluidness. The water dissolves bodies better than architecture she had previously been painting. She said they came easily to her, and it is visible. The paintings she made upon returning to France, the ones of the snorkelers in the city were also more interesting than her previous work. I like her thoughts about space as psychological and not physical, I think it’s a very modern perspective to take and it grants her more flexibility in creating her works as she doesn’t have to worry about being believable.

Backfloat, Litt 2009

Tom Paiment is an artist who creates these really interesting mixed media works. His best work is from his Entropy series, in which he creates these almost cubist, almost surrealist images of war. They use collage with found objects and paint to make intricate scenes straight out of Paiment’s imagination. I like how he works over things he does not like, and I find it really interesting that he has begun photographing the different stages of his work. This way, he can talk about his thought process and show some of the things he painted over.

Entropy 2, Paiement (2008 or 2009)

Descriptive Writing

Painting #1:

A blonde woman in blue, on a blue background. There is a streak of blue covering her eyes, perhaps as a symbolism of censorship or hidden identity. This could be an image for some sort of social issue, judging by the dress this picture is at least 30 years old, or at least set in that time period. The background is a flat plane of color, as is the blue that streaks across the woman’s face. The blue shirt also has a flat plane of white around the collar. The source of the blue streak is abstract, as it seems to begin at her neck, reaches out towards the viewer, and then circles around to cover her eyes.

Sculpture #1

This piece looks like something from an anatomy book. The pregnant woman’s figure is dissected in half, exposing her innards and the infant in the womb on one side and a surreal version of skin on the other. Judging by the fact that the infant on the viewers left is in full view, perhaps the woman is pregnant with twins. She is touching her belly with her left hand and looking up at the sky with her mouth partially open. The dissected side is composed in gold and red, while the skinned side is black, red, and the blue of her eye. It seems to be placed outside of an office building, most likely a hospital, constructed in brushed steel and glass.

Photograph #1

This is a series of photographic prints in red and black with typed texted across the chests of the subjects: a black female and a black male. This piece is about the aging of the two nude subjects as well as the segregation of the blacks. The first two images show young, healthy looking people, the woman shown in profile and the man from a straight on perspective. The second set of images on the bottom show first the man, aged and emaciated straight on, and the woman straight on with poor posture. The images are circular.

Photograph #2

This is a photograph of a young girl, blonde and in a red and white floral bathrobe. She comes across young because of the softness of her cheek and chin as well as the maturity of her attire. She is portrayed facing 3/4 away from the camera so that all the viewer can see is her left ear and the curve of her cheek. It appears as though she has fallen, or was lying on her stomach, and has begun to lift herself up so she can look at whatever is happening behind her. The background is dark, but not a solid black, and appears to have a checkered texture. Her hair is neat and her skin is soft, it does not seem as if a struggle has occurred yet, but the picture seems ominous. Just under the corner of her crooked right arm, you can see a hint of a white horizon as if she is on top of a bed especially when considering her dress.

Terry Barrett, Criticizing Art 3

This chapter was a ‘hammer it into your head’ that criticism isn’t just criticism but that it is also descriptive. The part I found most interesting was Butterfield’s idea for her silent war protest. She said a stereotype of horses in war is to see them carrying soldiers off to fight, and therefore thought that a pregnant mare would be a antiwar symbol. I found this really interesting and creative.

The other part I liked in this section was about glass, and whether or not it was to be considered an art. Yes, I do agree that glassmaking, or blowing, or molding, or whatever, is a craft. But I also think that woodworking, furniture design, ceramics and sculpture are also crafts which we consider to be arts. I don’t know why there is a problem with the overlap concerning glass.

If we were talking about the functional, then no I don’t consider glass to be very artistic but there was still an artist behind the design of all functional pieces. For instance, the Solo cup. Pretty generic, but someone had to think it up, draw it, make a model, and figure out how to create a bagillion of the final product. There are other cups that can be considered works of art first and a functional tool second. (This website has tons of examples)

Actual Value of Cup: $275