Friday, December 11, 2009

Anoka Faruqee at Hosfelt Gallery







Anoka Faruqee had a phenomenal exhibition at Hosfelt Gallery from Feb 22- April 5, 2008 - there is not anyone working quite like her in the field of painting that so intersects with systems, process, the conceptual, and especially color mixing. I like using the word phenomenal as her work is based on these phenomena and others. In the color process, I was reminded of animation work where color mixing is a highly developed skill and how Anoka is certainly self taught in this respect as tube colors predominate nowadays for most painters and color mixing is hardly taught in art schools. The paintings reproduced from the gallery show are two of the most recent "Fade" Paintings. It is hard to reproduce the effect of them standing before them as they were large enough to sense oneself immersed in them with the field a shimmering distance. Coming for a closer look and seeing the pixels as Faruqee has dubbed them, with red underpainting aggressively poking through, mutating in freehand over the canvas in all kinds of directions, baffling grid or pattern on a very subtle basis. I am reminded that for Seurat and Monet science, optics and color were intricately linked and explored through the most current technology of the time - here is an artist whose paintings are a contemporary analogue to this kind of painstaking practice to a surprisingly organic effect. Textiles, the history of tiling, Op Art, and opulence itself come to mind.

Here is an excerpt from the press release:

In her “Fade” paintings, patterns of hand-made pixels appear to fade
away or disappear into the painting’s ground color. The effect is
like viewing a pattern through a spill of translucent color. Or
looking through a shifting, colored fog. Despite the immediate
gestalt, the impression is created one handmade “pixel” at a time --
Faruqee mixes more than a hundred subtly shifting colors to create
her illusions. Visually, the paintings refer to the modular
geometry of Islamic tile work, pixilation of digital information,
1960’s optical painting and the haze of Los Angeles. But the work is
firmly rooted in the systems of early conceptual art.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Precedents for Op Art






From Susan Meller's and Joost Elffers encyclopedic book Textile Designs: Two Hundred Years of European and American Patterns Organized by Motif, Style, Color, Layout, and Period, pages 194 and 195:

"The distorted-looking images in these optical prints may seem to have been inspired by the paintings of twentieth century artists like Bridget Riley and Victor Vasereley, but all of the examples here, except for number 3, were produced decades before. Designs resembling modern Op Art actually predate the modern printing industry altogether, for they arise easily from the grid imposed by loom weaving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rochelle Feinstein and Guy Goodwin at David Reed's studio




1) El Bronco by Rochelle Feinstein
2) photo of the reception for Rochelle Feinstein
3) Olive+Oil by Guy Goodwin

Following posting on Rochelle Feinstein at Momenta I wanted to post this recognition of two studio shows David Reed opened his working studio to host. The first was for Guy Goodwin in 2006, following on the High Times Hard Times exhibition with two older works of Guy's and then one from a series of his latest work, and the second in 2008 was for Rochelle Feinstein especially featuring a painting David had thought about for a long time - El Bronco.

Both receptions were remarkable for their warmth and the engagement of the onlookers with the art being shown, as would not be surprising given it was hosted through the hospitality of a fellow working painter rather than a commercial gallery. I should perhaps disclose that I was at Skowhegan in 1993 with Guy Goodwin and saw his slides there but not this older work in person until High Times Hard Times where his C-Swing was the first painting on the right as one came into the exhibition, at the National Academy of Art in the architecture of much earlier times. I had seen Guy's exhibition at Bill Maynes and was looking forward to this one - Guy was an important teacher for me at Skowhegan that summer.

Following are the interview with Rochelle and the invite for Guy's show, from Reedstudio - thank you for providing the images and attachments.
David Reed: I must have seen “El Bronco” in your studio fairly soon after it was painted in 1997. When during the Simpson saga did you start thinking about “El Bronco”?

Rochelle Feinstein: That’s easy. I thought of it during the slo-mo chase.
The freeways are so different from our roads – that aerial view on which there was only one car moving forward and across 4 lanes. It struck me that this was a grid: Simpson was moving along the grid. For me all the ripe areas were there as well: domestic violence, racial politics, civic policy, and celebrity. Then what it came down, ultimately, was how would I make this a painting? That’s my obsession: to maintain myself as a painter who’s observing and respecting the whole inheritance of painting, and at the same time experimenting and filtering added subject matters through that canonical language. That for me is the issue: to keep it a painting always and to keep the other things going. The paintings have a double read.

DR: The other things going… You make it sound easier than it is.

RF: I worked on “El Bronco” for about a year and a half. Picking it up, putting it down. I knew what the first part was, but it took a while, juggling, to figure out the second part. Each of the canvases is quite different in its material aspects. The first canvas, on the left, was painted using traditional mediums and various blacks: glazed and layered. The second canvas was made with synthetic materials: flash, tape, and acrylic. I made a stamp and used it repeatedly to make the tire treads; the language addition, in this canvas, was antithetical to Barnet Newman’s practice. I wanted the two canvases to have friction between them - materially, as well as the frictions represented in the event.

DR: Have you done other paintings referring to Simpson?

RF: One of my main preoccupations is also celebrity. The spectacle of celebrity has replaced so many other spectacles. I’m connected to TMZ.com four times a day, both fascinated and repelled. I love it. So Simpson led to Michael Jackson, led to Barry White, in more recent related projects.


Conversation May 9, 2008


Dear friends,
When Guy Goodwin re-stretched his painting C-Swing (1974) at my studio
earlier this year it looked so good, that we decided to have a little show of
his work. In the office, to keep his paintings company, Ulrike Müller has
installed my collection of question mark paintings, and Dean Daderko has
selected an illustrious group of lunch guests.
Please join us for an opening reception on Friday, June 16 2006, from
6–9pm.
We hope you can come, and please bring your friends!
David Reed
In the front studio:
Guy Goodwin: C-Swing (1974), Spine (1978), and Olive Oil (2006)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Rochelle Feinstein at Momenta 2008












When I saw Rochelle Feinstein's show I was so excited to see her politics combined with the politics of disco, I emailed Jerry Saltz a telegram "Williamsburg not dead! Kim Jones at Peirogi and Rochelle Feinstein at Momenta - Rochelle Feinstein's show is the sleeper hit of the season."

Momenta, an institution of long standing in Williamsburg, and Rochelle Feinstein were an extremely good match. I was truly moved by but it would be hard to describe, the mysterious element, the magic, is elusive to put words to, but I know it tapped into many years of going dancing under mirrored balls which is not frivolous in my memory, many magic moments surrounded and merging with crowds of dancers and waiting to tap into the moment when the music is moving you rather than th effort laden making moves to the music. I will say also it held together remarkably with strong paintings, and installation with painted TVs, and Word Art that held more interest and invention than most. My favorite object entitled Ball and Chain reproduced first at left with a miniature mirrored ball revolving from the gizmo Rochelle created, reminded me of a turntable and black vinyl record. Their is always a piece in very strong shows that I award the purchase prize as the one I would most like to take home, this was the one in this exhibition.

From Momenta's statement:

"Rochelle Feinstein focuses on creating beautiful, uncanny paintings that employ light as a medium both literally and metaphorically, connecting subject matter from vastly different realms of experience. Her recent Hotspot paintings present images that reference both reflective mirror balls and globes, commemorating each year of U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether the "Hotspot" signifies a lens flare, WiFi access, a whiteout, a point of intense heat or radiation, or a site of political upheaval, its virtuality is offset by the visual slowness of dutifully hand-made, old-media halftone dots – effectively grounding the technological, social and political in the physicality of paint.

These Hotspot paintings connect to another series; this one painted or printed directly onto mirrored tiles. These works reference Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s "War is Over" anti-Vietnam War campaign, as well as the earlier WWII newspaper headline that Ono and Lennon appropriated. Feinstein adapts this highly politicized historical declaration by adding another subjective layer – turning the phrase into "Love is Over!" and referencing the languages of twelve ex-lovers. She then disempowers her own words’ negativity by physically turning the works on their sides."

Please note my Wilder Shores of Disco i Mix below has some of Yoko Ono's disco and dance music and that she was the original inspiration for the idea as the wildest longest shot in disco music ever. She has had a massive dance floor comeback in the past five years. So disco, a maligned and backlashed form by the later seventies and eighties. It went underground after having become too popular with middle America.

The Politics of Disco

"Disco is a genre of dance music that had its roots in clubs that catered to African American, psychedelic and other communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and early 1970s. While disco was a form of black commercial pop music and a craze among black gay men especially, it did not catch mainstream attention until it was picked up by the predominantly white gay clubs of New York. Latinos and women embraced disco as well, and the music eventually expanded to several other popular groups of the time.

In what is considered a forerunner to disco style clubs, in February 1970, the New York City DJ David Mancuso opened The Loft, a members-only private dance club set in his own home. Most agree that the first disco songs were released in 1973, though some claim Manu Dibango's 1972 Soul Makossa to be the first disco record.[6] The first article about disco was written in September 1973 by Vince Aletti for Rolling Stone Magazine. In 1974 New York City's WPIX-FM premiered the first disco radio show.

Musical influences include funk and soul music. The disco sound has soaring, often reverberated vocals over a steady "four-on-the-floor" beat, an eighth note (quaver) or sixteenth note (semi-quaver) hi-hat pattern with an open hi-hat on the off-beat, and a prominent, syncopated electric bass line sometimes consisting of octaves. Strings, horns, electric pianos, and electric guitars create a lush background sound. Orchestral instruments such as the flute are often used for solo melodies, and unlike in rock, lead guitar is rarely used.

The disco phenomenon was the last mass popular music movement that was driven by the baby boom generation."

VInce Alletti has a new book out with charts month to month of the disco years of the 70s, (specifically 1973-1978) memoirs and photographs, that I have looked through several times at Spoonbill & Sugartown (they are having thier tenth anniversary November 10th, by the way, come celebrate.)


Here is an IMix I published on iTunes, with a title I had come up with for a cassette compilation years ago and was not able to track a great deal down, for the second time or even the first time until iTunes (and I also want to mention Frank Holliday, who I met at Joe Fyfe's dinner after one of his lectures at the Studio School, and we discovered we had both been a lot to Dadio's in Greensboro before leaving
North Carolina) :



Wilder Shores of Disco

Playlist Notes: First three, from Dadio's in Greensboro NC and the DJ who would play funk and the new disco coming out of Europe and NYC equally. The rest:


many DJs and dance floors since 1977 thanks to all the disc spinners and Vince Aletti's new book




Song Name Artist

Get the Funk out Ma Face The Brothers Johnson

Get Off Your A*s and Jam Funkadelic

Get Up Offa That Thing James Brown

Graveyard Groove Trouble Funk

Into the Groove(y) Ciccone Youth

Disco Mystic Lou Reed

Oscillations Silver Apples

The Act Became Real The Bollock Brothers

Why d'Ya Do It? Marianne Faithfull

Nightclubbing Grace Jones

My Jamaican Guy Grace Jones

Under the Boardwalk Tom Tom Club

Genius of Love Tom Tom Club

Hey, St. Peter Flash and the Pan

Slippery People (2005 Remastered) Talking Heads

Walking On Thin Ice Yoko Ono

You're the One Yoko Ono

Kiss Kiss Kiss Yoko Ono & Peaches

Know Your Chicken Cibo Matto

Lucretia My Reflection Sisters of Mercy

Confusion (Arthur Baker 12" Mix) [Edit] New Order

Megablast The Mysteriouz

Buffalo Stance Neneh Cherry

White Horse (Funkstar De Luxe vs. Laid Back) Funkstar De Luxe & Laid Back

Try Me, I Know We Can Make It (European Single Version) Donna Summer

You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) Sylvester

Disenchanted Communards, The

Riders In the Sky The Shadows

Sinnerman Felix da Housecat & Nina Simone

Ray of Light Madonna

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fare Mondi


Bruce Nauman's 2009 American Pavilion at the Venice Biennalle




Pico della Mirandola had sought knowledge, and passed from system to system, and hazarded much; but less for the sake of positive knowledge than because he believed there was a spirit of order and beauty in knowledge, which would come down and unite what men's ignorance had divided, and renew what time had made dim [...] and he has a true place in that group of great Italians who fill the end of the fifteenth century with their names, he is a true humanist (ital.). For the essence of humanism is that belief of which he seems never to have doubted, that nothing which has ever interested living men and women can wholly lose its vitality - and no language they have spoken, nor oracle beside which they have hushed their voices, no dream which has once been entertained by actual human minds, nothing about which they have ever been passionate, or expended time or zeal.

Walter Pater, 1871; from his essay on Pico della Mirandola, in the collection The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry.


Marcia Vetroq begins her article in Art in America on the current Venice Biennale entitled Worlds Enough, and Time: Daniel Birnbaum's Biennale:
"When the second Triennale di Torino, organized by Daniel Birnbaum and called "Fifty Moons of Saturn." opened last November, it triggered intense speculation that the Stockholm-born, Frankfurt-based curator would be offering a sneak preview of his intentions for the 2009 Venice Biennale, then seven months away. [...]
"More intriguing is the volte-face in Birnbaum's construction of the nature of artistic practice. The Turin show centered on the melancholic humor historically associated with creative genius. Birnbaum's title for the 53rd Biennale, 'Fare Mondi' or 'Making Worlds,' likewise stays aloft in the metaphoric heavens, but this show abjures the temperamental determination of the dark side for an endorsement of art as an arena of free and enlightened invention."

I can't at the moment locate my copy of Margot and Rudolf Wittkower's Born Under Saturn, their study of the Renaissance's consideration of the planet Saturn as the celestial influence on artists. All I remember fundamentally from beginning (not finishing) the book matches up with what I found just recently here on the internet: in the founding of the Roman Empire and establishment of the meaning of Latin deities the god Mercury and his planet was not beloved by Romans in the same way that the winged messenger Hermes was to the Greeks; in the Wittkowers' book the turning point of the Renaissance conception Mercury was considered the god of artisans only. It was the influence of Saturn artists needed to become someone who had genius. (It should be noted here that before Kant genius was considered a gift one was given to differing degrees, not a complete embodiment as in the phrase one who "is a genius.")

This is my little internet trouvaille: " Mercury loves to race around and he invented the wheel. Mercury, and the element mercury named for him, is known as the quicksilver. The word mercurial is commonly used to refer to something or someone erratic, volatile or unstable, derived from Mercury's swift flights from place to place. The term comes from astrology and describes the expected behavior of someone under the influence of the planet Mercury."


I have a Turkish artist friend Sermin Kardestuncer who had two solo exhibitions at Pierogi. Befroe I met her there I saw a simple piece, a stitched wall with punctures in the wall sewn through with black thread, in Denyse Thomasos' group exhibit Crossing Lines at Art in General in 1999 - it was quite simple and remarkable. Often I find it amazing to see a piece that seems like it was waiting to be made like scientific discoveries are waiting to be uncovered, and think highly of the artists that make them.

Not long after her second show I walked into the gallery and Joe Amrhein referred me to a student who wanted to write about her work for an academic paper, and I said the first thing to think about was the idea of process art from the sixties and seventies. Sermin - and her work - have been seen as very serious by many but I enjoyed telling the story of the first time I went to her apartment and on taking me into the room that is her studio and on opening the door I saw was that she had stitched the cheap wooden hollow door on both sides to her studio with the same black thread I had seen on the wall at Art in General - I really burst out laughing at the sight of it and she was very pleased, saying most people don't see the humor in her work. (It could be a lot of our levity these days lacks gravity.) I was describing this to the student but said to her thinking of so much I had seen since moving to New York in 1996, "I think we have reached an age of bottomless ingenuity." I did not mean this in terms of Sermin's work but of younger artists and art students. She really liked that phrase but I am still trying to get over the dark side of that implication, even as I know I had a big grin when I said it. There is a real dark side to that moment of realization - this "bottomless ingenuity," and it seems to be more and more present.

Studies of the Renaissance in Pater's time following on Wincklemann in the eighteenth century were focussed on the reintroduction of Greek paganism into the Catholicism of the time as an end finally to the medieval Dark Ages. 20th century scholarship has increasingly laid emphasis on studying the Islamic world and its entry into Europe, especially in the inventiveness of the Renaissance scientifically and technologically. Islamic scholarhip is also where the Greek manuscripts that Pico della Mirandola and so many others were translating from had been kept for centuries following the burning of the Library of Alexandria. "Mirandola translated Plato's Timaeus from the original Greek into Latin and the Book of Genesis and Moses from Hebrew as an endeavor to reconcile the accounts of the origin of the world with the account given in both." - Pater again.

Just two Islamic philosophers are needed here, but there were many:

Ibn Sina (981-1037), known in the west by the Latin name, Avicenna, is often called by Westerners the "Arab Leonardo" for the amazing breadth of his knowledge in medicine, philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy. In addition to his Canon of Medicine, he is certainly one of the most remarkable thinkers of the Middle Ages and the most important and original of all Muslim philosophers. He held that religion was a kind of philosophy for the masses; the goal of all revealed truth (including his own Islam) was to lead us to our highest state—one of philosophic contemplation. He held the particularly original idea that intellectual discovery implies an intuitive act of knowledge. The idea of the intuitive intellect working outside of the methodical process of collecting facts and deduction has again become quite modern.

Ibn-Rushid (Averroës) 1128 -1198 is also of great interest to us. He wrote many commentaries on Aristotle and is known in Arab philosophy simply as "The Commentator." His works in religious philosophy were widely read in Europe, especially by Thomas Aquinas, the point, of course, being not that one was right and the other wrong, but that one of the greatest of European medieval philosophers honed his own sharp intellect by dealing with his Muslim predecessor. Averroës' work in law, medicine, and astronomy were also highly regarded.

This was an excellent opening for Plato and Aristotle and their interplay for the Renaissance thought still under the aegis of the Catholic Church - Aristotle having been "the Philosopher" for Catholic scholars especially Saint Augustine until the Italians started forming academies of Neoplatonic inquiry, based on writings of Plotinus and Neo-Pythagorians in Rome in the 3rd Century AD.

" The teaching of Plotinus, coinciding with a period of material decline and religious anxiety during the decline of the Roman Empire [...} had only one serious rival - Christianity."
- John Gregory, from the introduction to The Neoplatonists translated on introduced by John Gregory, 1991 Kyle Cathie paperbacks Great Britain

This could all prepare us quite well for the Bruce Nauman American Pavilion with its Roman Catholicized Aristotelian Virtues and Vices (1983-88) in alternating blue and red neon running along the top of the building. Apparently by following along the exterior reading the interplay of the Virtues and Vices one finally reaches finally Blue Fortitude alternating with Anger as entry way to the interior as a Nauman retrospective of sorts crowned with the much reproduced 1967 Neoplatonic spiral of neon words The True Artist Helps the World By Revealing Mystic Truths.


A brief explanation of the Virtues and Vices from Aristotle to the conception of the Medieval Soul.

Aristotle had written a kind of middle path of a mean virtue between an excess and deficiency in character in his Nichomachean Ethics Table of Virtues and Vices, read carefully a means of reflecting on daily actions and developing maturity and character; these Virtues had been taken up by the Roman Empire as maiden figureheads carrying swords for the collective good of the Empire; who were in turn enlisted by Prudentius in the 5th Century to fight the Psychomachia for God and Jesus, quaintly translated in the Harvard Loeb series by H. J. Thomson as "The Fight for Mansoul."

In this epic poem the maiden Faith leads a battle by first taking on the frightful and beastly monster named The Worship-of-Old-Gods, with an entire war of Virtues countering both male and female vices in swordfight culminating in the She-monster Avarice accompanied by fiends Care, Hunger, Fear, Anguish, Perjuries, Pallor, Corruption, Treachery, Falsehood, Sleepnessness, Meanness and diverse others and flanked by her brood Crimes, the brood of her black milk, who "like ravening wolves go prowling and leaping over the field."

The maidens are baffled by Avarice, or Greed's changing double form, now like a Virtuous whiteclad mother to them and then terrifying glimpses of the awful hideous monster - until Good Works dashes into the fray to the aid of all the others. The epic battleground poem culminates in Faith and Concord bringing the Mansoul to Jesus and God in a lightfilled conclusion. To say that this was thematically repeated in Medieval literature and art is an understatement. In the Tenth Century Pope Gregory officially named the Seven Deadliest Sins found in Dante, Chaucer, Spenser and many other an allegory, and often a favorite subject for artists, including a series of frescos by Giotto. ( James Ensor also made a series of prints - unfortunately only two of the etchings were on display at the recent MoMA exhibition. At the Ensor exhibition in the Petit Palais in Paris in the Eighties all seven were mounted together.)

Also in this September's issue of Art in America Lynn Macritchie's writes in an accompanying article on the Biennale Pavilions, "grandiose gestures-the French Pavilion is an obvious example, as is the sanguinary Mexican presentation, trying desperately to shock-fall flat." Macritchie lauds Nauman's Pavilion - which recieved the Golden Lion award -as having the apparent message "that we humans are ugly, destructive, incoherent and unheeding."

Does this mean that the Vices have won, and that only artists are not born under Saturn these days, and are the only ones who can illuminate the darkness for us?

As we are all walking around in this new millennium at the center of our own ever complicating cosmologies that have increasing difficulty sorting out into something more akin to the profound and the complex, how do we intersect with others in these days ahead of us?

In short, is Mercury now the kaleidoscoping patron deity of the span of all of our attentions?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

...and on the Seventh Day




Chapter 7: The Biennale.

Sarah Thornton writes: "I left the British Pavilion with its giveaway goods - a tote bag, a catalogue, some temporary tattoos, and a white hat embroidered with pink with the words ALWAYS WANTING YOU...LOVE TRACE X - and headed over to the American Pavilion, which looks like a little state capitol building. Nancy Spector, the pavilion's curator, was standing in the lobby, basking in the warm glow of a luminous sculpture called "Untitled" (America) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. The Cuban-born Gonzalez-Torres died of complications due to AIDS in 1996. Some people were lamenting the fact that the pavilion show had taken so long to come; others complained that the pavilion should celebrate the work of a living artist. One irate curator even exclaimed, "maybe next time the U.S. will decide to show Whistler!" But the consensus seemed to be wrong; the pavilion was beautiful but funereal.
"Certainly the reception was not as overwhelmingly upbeat as that accorded to Ed ruscha's 2005 pavilion, in which five black and white paintings were hung with five new color canvases depicting the same Los Angeles locations. On show after the invasion of Iraq entitled "The Course of Empire," the exhibition had a freshness and a sense of history that satisfied many people's expectations."

Dave Hickey wrote a piece for a recent issue of Art in America about being asked to be the next American curator for the Venice Biennale, saying that the 2007 one was too sad and that his would be happy. thank you Dave, but my parents took me to the New York World's Fair in 1964 when I was all of six and I was whirled through the pre-Disney purchase debut "It's a Small World after All" there, but was more permanently impressed by Louise Nevelson's wall of black painted wood cabinetry. Picasso's Guernica and Rousseau's The Dream which I continued the dream it put me into by dreaming I was inside of his painting the very same night.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Seven Days in the Art World: The opposite approach to the Crit in last posting is Zen Master of CalArts Michael Asher's.












Canadian Sarah Thornton's BA in Art History and PhD in Cultural Sociology mesh quite well with her journalistic presence at the Art Newspaper and other publications for this book, with seven chapters as follows:

1) The Auction
2) The Crit
3) The Fair
4) The Prize
5) The Magazine
6) The Studio Visit
7) The Biennale

James Elkins' second point on Critiques at art schools (see prior posting) is Critiques Are Too Short.

Enter Michael Asher at precisely Ten AM in Sarah Thornton's observance of his "legendary" and "marathon" Critiques at CalArts, with graduate students who vied for place to get into the CalArts tradition of utmost discipline to see if they have what it takes to learn the Zen patience and humility needed to thrive in today's Art World as it has developed over the past decades. There is an entirely illuminating interview with the "Sasquatch Santa" John Baldessari describing his mission in founding Post- Studio crit class at CalArts in 1970, that he adheres to to this day.

Thornton sums up the MFA in one succinct paragraph of this chapter as "the first legitimator in an artist's career followed by awards and residencies, representation by a primary dealer, reviews and features in art magazines, inclusion in prestigious private collections, museum validation in terms of solo or group shows, international exposure at well-attended biennials, and the appreciation signaled by strong resale interest at auction. More specifically, MFA degrees from name art schools have become passports of sorts. Look over the resumes of the artists under fifty in any major international museum exhibition and you will find that most of them boast an MFA from one of a couple of dozen highly selective schools."

I must admit I had been very naive about any of this until going to Skowhegan in 1993, where Baldessari was greeted as the West Coast Guru on arrival and hung around with the already quite present San Francisco mystic David Ireland in a great cabal of minds - revered by most everyone there, even amongst the bell hooks enthusiasts - who were still decidedly more practically interested in the words of that year's designated Paul Mellon speaker.

bell hooks has been a practicing Buddhist and in one essay voiced trying to write academic works in plainspoken terms - and sometimes employing urban language otherwise known as "street smarts." She added that this was deliberate but not easy - that it was the Buddhist way to take a long and difficult path towards the simple. My teacher at Tyler Stan Whitney, after I said I had only read her film criticism in a textbook store for Virginia Commonwealth University I worked for prior to going to Skowhegan, recommended I read her book titled Yearning. If memory serves me (of course it doesn't consistently) in Yearning bell hooks writes about the white art teacher who reached out to her as a child in the Apartheid South at length, after having heard her speak briefly of this at Skowhegan as an opening to her first lecture.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Back to School Comix for Art Instructors and their Students





A few years ago I had read James Elkins polemical book Why Art Can't Be Taught: the premise that it can't be taught because there isn't any way to measure achievement in art empirically seemed like it must be either his elaborate devil's advocate stance or just plain silly didn't mean that every page of the book wasn't worth reading: it is after all subtitled a Handbook for Art Students.

The absolute juiciest part was his longest chapter - a point by point dissection of critiques with actual dialogues presumably recorded at Chicago Art Institute where he is professor in Art History, Theory and Criticism to illustrate nearly every one of his points. the most memorable two being A Critique is Like A Seduction, Full of Emotional Outbursts and Critiques are either Judicative or Descriptive, with the courtroom trial aspect documented quite viscerally.

He develops beyond all this a very strong argument for the critique of The Critique, an ordeal both Instructors and students go through once hired by or entering into art school, and I would add parenthetically that it has been clear to me when in them that the instructors use techniques their most influential instructors did with them either with the conscientiousness that new parents bring to what they reflect of their parents for good and ill - or as unconsciously - and usually with the same kind of negative reactionary results. All of us are human and subject to both, but it must be under a certain amount of control and discretion to be of benefit to students at all. A minefield sometimes for everyone seriously engaged but especially the increasingly poor students that attend - I mean poor as in facing unbelievable debt loads and an increasingly shrinking means of earning a living above all in the marketplace of collectible unique objects.

So this is from Jeffrey Brown's latest book Funny Misshapen Boy I bought on recommendation for this series from Gabriel at Desert Island Books in Williamsburg - Gabriel also went to Chicago Art Institute, as did Jeffrey Brown. I had already tried in the mid nineties as someone in graduate school in my mid thirties to explain to some of my instructors how different it was from when I went to a state University Art Department for $12.00 to $17.00 an hour in the latter half of the seventies.

No one in this comic sequence at left culled to demonstrate exactly this dilemma, from the pages and pages of all too true words from the crushing critique style many instructors still practice without thinking from times when they could a) afford tuition, b) not work full time or often even part time due to low tuition, and c) leave home and be free enough in time and their own apartment or dorm room space to to work the hours and hours needed in their classroom or especially graduate school studio practice to even get anything at all from their instructors either during class or in critiques.

Hard times, and getting harder, for students - coasting on your own hard won but perhaps too hardhearted or lazy minded or both conditioned response pedagogical style is not what your salaries are coming in to your personal coffers for. It would be appreciated with the spectacular burden of debt for an undergraduate degree and then MFA from some prestigious school the BFA students are encouraged by their faculty to apply to consider their style of conversation, as art is meant to be an open dialogue not a public shaming device.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Art World Comix for our Particular Situation in the Last Year




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Introducing Lawrence Swan, creator of Art Bum comix, a really absolutely up to date satirical viewing of the New York art world from inside/outside the art world, and other life dilemmas of living in New York rather than somewhere else. If you are interested further please see the interview on Hrag Vartanian's blog with Swan. His comix completely took off on the internet via Facebook last spring within the art community, for its take on the current economy and aesthetics of art, and other dilemmas of being an "art bum" - "another dope who came to New York high on hope" as the animated version explains.
(See Newcleanwars on You Tube, an anagram of Lawrence Swan's name.)

As Facebook is the discussion of our time with everyone either joining in or not, this is of interest in terms of distribution and readership and the speed of gathering an audience with something that taps into a particular community's zeitgeist. You Tube has been a good medium for this artist also, who works with a group of musicians called Audio Artists and did some political videos with their music.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bittersweet Art World Comix from Several Years Ago





This is still at the MoMA Bookstore, a one time only collaboration between MoMA, PS1 and DC Comix made at the time MoMA was in Queens awaiting its controversial new space and architecture.

Three curators who worked so many years so astutely and intelligently to bring the public in its more expanded sense art important to the present moment, whether 20th century historical or absolutely new in the case of MoMa. I fear now all we have in their place are curators with their eye on the momentary present.

I am reminded somehow that the British word for curator was keeper, and that the current term curator has lost its custodial sense and long view somehow, that something might be for keeps, if one is modest enough somewhere to not want to be a curator as star in one own's right.

Saul Ostrow wrote an excellent article in the New Art Examiner titled Curator as artist in the mid nineties, and after he had done a presentation to the Tyler student body, I told him how much I liked the critical argument in the article (not mentioned in his talk) but asked him if auteur might be a better term. That was well past a decade ago; however Richard Sennett discusses this phenomenon in terms of politics in The Fall of Public Man, and all influence and power is more political now as imedia predominates and inherited and legislative power give way to charismatic in so many other arenas. (Max Weber's three forms of power, discussed in Sennett at length.) Charisma can be eloquent or it can be paranoid and find its target audience, in the art world it is unfortunately an academically competitive and increasingly globally capitalist admixture, without deep art history and a long view and large picture and understanding of a multiplicity of points of view, the eloquence of what is exhibited, written about the exhibits, and the public speaking and interviewing drops.

Glamour needs pleasure yet harmony spreads contentment. Perhaps the recession will bring a moral correction not just a market correction.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More Summer Vacation Art World Comic Relief - Jim Torok



I loved Jim Torok's work from the first, both the intimate portraits with detail found in British miniatures of the 17th and 18th century, and the big nose comic character, the crudest portrayal in comics since Lynda Barry, whose first book Boys and Girls I bought at Printed Matter in the early eighties when it was on Lispenard Street. Only Jim was doing it on big paper and panels with a paintbrush.

Many of these would be about being an artist in New York, from a generalized standpoint, and quite good satire or wry humor. Wry humor would be how I owuld see this one I found on the internet posted by a young blogger, if I had not seen it shown at Bill Maynes Gallery when I saw it with its dark twin in black and white about how terrifying it can be to be an artist with everything in this panel its near opposite. Which is far closer to the truth for nearly every artist who came here if not actually than existentially - wish I could find that one and post it as well.

He nailed some of the worst experiences of art openings that I had experienced or witnessed without thinking quite consciously about it in one painting I have not been able to find in either his catalogue from Peirogi (worth seeking out) or online, but I only remember vividly the head swiveling motion lined head facing the Big Nose Every Artist, the effect of not focussing on the one who is talking to try and scan rapidly for people it is of utmost importance to talk to, and then the angling for where there might be an after party to go to.

See also his sendup of well known stunts to make one famous in the art world, or at least a news item for that year or so until the next stunt comes along. It was published in another form in Art in America under the Pen and Ink page before that delightful satire on the art world series came to an end just about a year ago.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Summer Vacation Art School Comic Relief





The only comic strip in the early eighties I ever did related to "art" is based on a painting student I knew in school - I wasn't in the painting department. Since the lettering breaks up, the text is panel by panel:


[I knew a boy in college named Raphael who was an art major, concentrating in painting. Good name for a painter, eh? A couple living in Georgia in the late fifties who named their son Raphael couldn't have been expecting him to grow up to be a truck driver - or an MBA either.

One day Raphael showed me his latest painting, rows of painted paper dolls alternating with cut out ones collaged right on to the canvas. Raphael explained why paper dolls - he said, if you draw a paper doll, its a drawing of a paper doll - if you cut out the drawing it IS a paper doll. A real actual live one there in your hands.
I liked his painting quite a bit, but I loved that idea. And the way he said it and everything else at that moment. I could have hugged him right there.

A few months later I came round to his apartment and the painting was leaned up against the wall, with great slashes running through it - shredded. I asked him when he had done THAT. He said about a month and a half ago. Now the emotion that initially made Raphael slash that painting may have been genuine, but when he didn't throw it away right afterwards, and left it there for all to see all those weeks, that was self-conscious. That was reading about angry young action painters who destroyed canvases they weren't pleased with. He wanted to buy into art history and I was sorry to be a witness to that. Poor Raphael, I wanted to hug him again, but for a completely different reason this time. It would take him years to get untangled from art history and back on his own again.]



This is interesting to reread now as I made this only a year out of college and therefore only a few years after the actual events: the kernel observation is based on a true experience; the name, impulse to hug and denouement an attempt at fictionalizing. No impulse to hug the first time, just a real nice fascination, and no affection there the second time when I saw what he had done to a painting and an idea contained in it I liked so much. I was a bit angry he had done that to a very promising Jasper Johns like path however when he ended up doing handsome paintings that were Diebenkorns with fluorescent paint it seemed clear to me there wasn't much point. I mean they were handsome but my mind stopped every time I looked over them with the thought, "but these are Diebenkorns with fluorescent paint."

This was not published in the Austin Chronicle along with the others as I had moved to France and dropped interest in sending them in by then. It wasn't a favorite with the editors or general public anyway - as I said the others weren't about art or art school. They were all stories told by younger and older men and women based on anecdotes from family, friends, or my own life, matched with photos I clipped from different sources to draw the faces and upper bodies from as the idea was someone across from the reader talking one to one. Any anecdote was good as long as a subtle humor was involved, which I suppose to have been initially mine. (After publication I was pleased that it was so generally shared.)

Artists I have met in the latter act of my life used to ask me what I did before I started painting at 27, and I could say the simple answer is, a lot of living, and a freer form life - and a lot of listening to others. Its all there in memory, and some of it recorded in the comic strips from that time. It is interesting being a world of remembered anecdotes, my own and other people's, in a city, period, and art world culture that doesn't have time for it. I continue to remember the ones I have been told up here by so many, and have long since stopped being surprised when it isn't in memory that I have ever been the one who listened, as many are surprised by what kinds of dialogue I can pull up from conversations years past verbatim.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer Vacation Art World Comic Relief part II - Alex Ross



Alex Ross, from Chemical Imbalance Magazine, Spring 1988

Alex is now a very well known painter. I had some of my comix in one issue of Chemical Imbalance in the late eighties also, with his psychedelic green man face on the cover. Chemical Imbalance was a mix of music reviews, the newest wave of grafix and comix following Raw, and literary book and fine art reviews added in, if in an art historical vein or tone of interest to the publisher Mike McGonigal.

Chemical Imbalance was published for something like four or five years I believe in the late eighties and early nineties. What was really remarkable was reading young artists writing about literature and fine art in a combination of New York art school library research and fanzine vernacular - like Bob Nickas' writing only very naive and outsider and mainly about surrealists or historical figures or Anna Mendieta. (I am enjoying reading Nickas' Theft is Vision and remembering the early issues of Index Magazine as I write this as he crather singularly combines inside the contemporary art world knowledge and fanzine fervor quite well - even if not all of his sensibility overlaps with mine in visual arts an amazing amount does in music and his enthusiasm and writing skills are quite a serious pleasure.)

Chemical Imbalance is the only fanzine I know of that took an interest in high and low and was equally enthused about both, and had such a successful run. I wasn't living in New York and was so pleased to have been published in there at all back in the day, even though I had long since started painting and the comic was from 1981 0r 1982 by then.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer Vacation Comic Relief



From Aline Kominski-Crumb.

Long before Daniel Clowes' Art School Confidential...

It gets more hilarious and lurid from here on out, but one would have to seek out her book Need More Love to see the next sequence of panels.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Peter Saul, H. C. Westermann, William T. Wiley, and Bruce Nauman - and San Francisco in the late Sixties






List of Images, left:

1) Looking for Mushrooms book cover

2) William T. Wiley installation 1972

3) Bruce Nauman, Westermann's Ear 1967

4) H. C. Westermann, untitled 1968

5) Peter Saul, Bobby Seale 1968

The book Looking for Mushrooms: Beat Poets, Hippies, Funk and Minimal Art, San Francisco 1955-68 is a catalogue for an exhibition from November 2008 through December 2009 at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, that I picked up on one of my near daily stops into Spoonbill & Sugartown. I had named this forum Cabinet of Cabarets out of a special interest in how the visual arts can intersect with the poetry, writing, theater, dance and later film in a certain period - and respond to culture as counterculture in various forms - and the ways individual artists meet, collaborate, hang out with, and have something to learn from each other.

As I had been writing about Peter Saul the cover caught my eye, but I bought the book because San Francisco had been a counter culture focus in the US from the mid fifties on, and this exhibition had been organized by the three German curators to commemorate the 40th anniversary of 1968 and recognize the underknown San Francisco convergence of artists who were exhibited in Peter Seltz' 1967 exhibition titled Funk Art. In his introduction Selz makes it clear that he considers the "hot" Californian art to be the antipole to the "cool" New York art from Primary Structures, Minimal and Conceptual art.

Below the book cover is a work by William T. Wiley from the early seventies, who had an exhibition at the Corcoran in the early nineties of a much later body of work. Wiley was well enough known when I went to art school in the late seventies - an art school mainly influenced, in the rebellious painting department students but especially in the sculpture department (dropping down from the instructors themselves), by the antipoles of New York in Chicago and San Francisco.

Wiley was Bruce Nauman's teacher at UC Davis in the mid sixties, and together they wrote a letter to H. C. Westermann in 1966 they sent to him care of the Dilexi Gallery in San Francisco where he was then showing, asking him if he knew anything about the discrepancy in titles between two books of a work of Man Ray's - whether it was titled The Riddle as in one book or The Enigma of Isadore Ducasse in another.

Wiley relates in the catalogue that they got a reply from Cliff (Westermann) on a valentine that he had drawn on, "I know you must think that I am some old mean thing - but that letter was almost an enigma itself...slow down - what's your hurry. Sincerely, H.C. Westermann." They were overjoyed to get a reply and later Wiley met Westermann at Peter Saul's place in Mill Valley and explained to him that it was he and Bruce who had written him a letter about Man Ray. Westermann said, "yeah, I thought you were puttin' me on." Wiley said, "no, not at all," and Westermann came to visit what he called Wiley's "shop."

Nauman becomes fascinated with knots around this time in homage to Westermann's 1963 sculpture The Big Change in photographs he sends to his collaborator in film William Allen, and in his sculpture Henry Moore Bound to Fail, culminating in the sculpture from 1967 entitled Westermann's Ear.

I have included Peter Saul's painting of Bobby Seale, as the catalogue for this exhibition has an entire section on the Black Panthers, and the Black Festival in 1968 in Marin County, and art by Emory Douglas, worth looking into.
It also has an interview with Anne Halprin by Yvonne Rainer for dance enthusists, and photographs of the collaboration between William T. Wiley and Steve Reich for set design costumes and music for Ron Davis' production of Ubu Roi.
Bruce Conner and Semina artists who were featured in a recent publication on Semina culture are also in this book, and enormous amount of archives of the intersection of general cultural and specifically cultural ground from the times as well; however I had especially wanted to post something about William T. Wiley. I have a drawing I have done versions of and painted once that is actually an homage to a recurrent motif in his work and no one seems to be the least bit familiar with his work at all in New York. There is a major retrospective coming up in Washington DC at the Smithsonian which I will be looking forward to, and I would love to meet other enthusiasts - and at least try to make a few converts along the way.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Peter Saul







(Please scroll down and then up for the four images.)

The first image is of a Big Daddy Roth book, the second Basil Wolverton and the third a rather famous Miro painting titled Dutch Interior, leading up to two of Peter Saul's early paintings, which I believe I first saw in a catalogue titled Hand Painted Pop years ago. (I had been familiar with his later work since first going to art school.)

If Peter Saul showed his earlier paintings at a slide talk he gave in the mid eighties I attended while living in Austin I don't remember it - what I do remember clearly was his first two slides. One was ratfink in all his glory with his hands on the stick shift of one of his bronco like hot rods, and one of a comics style grotesque head. He cited Big Daddy Roth and Basil Wolverton as influences on his work which not only made a lot of immediate sense to me but tapped into my forgotten enthusiasms for both.

I spent so much time as a child at various magazine and comics stands marvelling in all kinds of stuff but especially remember CARtoons magazine and reprints of the older, really seditious re-editions of MAD with Basil Wolverton. (Basil Wolverton may still be at Barbara Gladstone as I am posting this.) I leave it to everyone to see and explore the connection at their own inclination or discretion - the Miro reference is more standardly art historical, and immediately familiar.

However, Peter Saul is not a pioneering pop artist for nothing, and I would say one who mined subcultures of popular taste from the beginning, along with the domestic interiors, and more and more as time went on. He has obviously thought about the way the fifties censored comic books in the same way that other artist thought about the way the Hays Code effected filmmaking. This is where artists like Peter Saul, Ray Johnson, Oyvind Fahlstrom and Andy Warhol intersect with the interesting ways one can love popular culture and respond to and create the new underground at the same time - and the British Pop movement had the same underpinnings as I wrote earlier in my essay on the interplay between Pop and hard edged painting. That Peter Saul's work is related to pre code comics rather than the kind of cool and ironic but also suspiciously sentimental nostalgic beginnings of Lichtenstein's presentational appropriations of comics has made Saul's work always more tapped in to the sheer joy of draftsmanship and paint and materials and much more amoral and engaged, in the political sense, and therefore engaging, for this viewer. ( I once overheard Peter Saul and Joe Zucker talking shop talk about what kind of paint they use at Zucker's opening, which was delightful.)

I went to the retrospective in Philadelphia to see the earlier paintings and really get a good look at them, although the late work is riveting in a certain fashion it certainly has been around a long time and it is a fact that early work can be shown for the first time to younger artists and have more to say as feeling to them fresh, and other qualities not easy for others to see. I could draw a comparison to some younger coworkers I had at Saint Mark's Bookstore discussing how good early Tom Waits records are - I had written a review of Swordfishtrombones when it first came out in the early eighties as an enormous breakthrough from a very good songwriter who had gotten to be someone one could buy every other album from, so it was difficult to hear this from my own standpoint - but I had an immediate kind of double vision right then about how good the early work could sound to these younger listeners so many junkyard/Beefheart/Kurt Weill influenced Waits albums later. He was always such a good songwriter, and it transcended his persona back then and stands now. So I want to say this as a fan of Saul's who has lost the thread with the signature work over time that I had gone down to see how good the early work really is. And how important it could be to younger artists - or anyone really - who has not discovered it or had the chance to experience it.

It is a testament to how really novel it was in his time to go to Paris and study painting of all kinds and come up with this unheralded subject matter of American iceboxes, stuffed chairs, stretched out superheroes and the like, and I would love to write more about this at some point - especially from the jumping off point of a phrase I heard living in Paris that translates as "homesickness (mal du pays) is missing the food one grew up with." (Peter Saul wqs born in 1932, the same year as my father, and grew up with what continued to be called iceboxes, not "refrigerators" - even when they had become newly run by electricity.) I am adding Miro's Dutch Interior because this is a reinterpretation of Miro's from dutch interiors, making a thread from the Dutch Interiors from the 17th Century to Miro's influence on Saul so that he could come up with the Pop surrealist domestic paintings he invented. By way of Big Daddy Roth and Basil Wolverton and a host of other comics artists.

This is to pay homage to three other inventive artists just underneath: Big Daddy Roth (not just a cartoonist but one of the icons of hot rod creation and the culture that went with it:, Basil Wolverton and the whole creation of Mad Magazine and the culture that went along with the comics and humor it pioneered and was never surpassed in; and also of course Miro whose recent show at Moma was a revelation for so many.

(Peter Saul is not the only one who was influenced by Miro by any means. Raphael Rubinstein's recent article in Art in America about what he terms the provisional has a meditation on what he saw in the most radical of the rooms in the exhibition, and it is worth reading - I also saw Robert Ryman, and something of Twombly, and so much of the future of painting in that room, in that direction. Gorky and Peter Saul just to name two took others.)

Before I get too far involved with Miro I would like to bring back the subject to Peter Saul, who has always been around and had cult figure status - much like the extra-fine art sources he loves to look at and derive from. The blog before this one - through a very lengthy path through a discussion of a social concern of everyone in the nation - has put him in the realm of the amoral, but in such an in one's face and satirical way that one feels he must be delighted with the love him or hate him divisiveness he sets up; nevertheless he is poised for a major reconsideration in the grander scheme of things. Certainly with an entire late nineties show entitled Pop Surrealism he should be talked about more by the painters and sculptors not to mention the writers and curators themselves. I am reminded of the difference sometimes between the art world and the music world, where Michael Hurley was interviewed recently on NPR about participating in all kinds of folk concerts and festivals with the burgeoning "Freak Folk" scene created by young people - he said "they need their grandfather."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Serial Killers and the Artists Who Paint Them




This posting is dedicated to the Harvey Family, murdered in their home in Richmond, Virginia on New Year's Day 2006 and found by my drummer friend Johnny Hott later that day. The murderers were found later in Philadelphia, not serial killers but killers out on a "killing spree." Somehow this bothers me more than the term serial killers - which does at least recognize that this might be mechanical and under some kind of mechanism - its ryhme with shopping spree and "glee" is not something anyone who knows the Harveys finds easy to take.

I am preparing to write something about the Peter Saul retrospective I saw last fall in Philadelphia - I had been preparing to anyway but the linking of Oyvind Fahlstrom and Peter Saul's "refrigerator paintings" in the Hairy Who interviews, and a call to more politics in art, has brought me into something I would like to discuss at length - capital punishment, and two serial killer painters. I prefer Peter Saul because he is depicting capital punishment itself, to Joe Coleman, who I spent far too much time around when first moving here as my closest woman friend had published his Man of Sorrows book and was preparing a monograph with John Yau and Jim Jarmusch writing two of the three essays and some kind of documentary coming out. Coleman did and does have one of the world's most fascinating collections and interior design approach - although antithetical to what I had become interested in I probably would have enjoyed seeing it for the shock novelty value of the whole thing; however months of his monomaniacal approach to any social gathering was to focus on the serial killer stories and scenarios which were only a small portion of what he actually painted, simply because it was the surefire American popular fascination of choice and would draw a group audience around him every time. I knew that due to the burgeoning sales of the mass market paperback editions of serial killer true crime in bookstores I worked in when moving back from five years in France that this was a really amped and stepped up level of what had already been a US obsession; five years in another country makes one have a new set of lenses to view one's own culture with, and working in a general bookstore in a small city is the perfect way to get a handle on the zeitgeists in all the major areas of popular interest, and even current intellectual interpretation of same outside of the specialized academic world. True Crime, popular everywhere since Victorian England and the development of Scotland Yard, Poe's invention of the detective novel and other related genre fiction forms ongoing since the eighteenth century giving sweep, depth and color to the way journalists could "report" on news items in the same serial fashion Dickens and others were using in the serialized fiction in journals that fed into a more epic form of the novel. This in england and the US was eventually matched with what was happening in France, and Paris, and the unbelievable (to Anglophones) proliferation of journals, literary, specialized, academic, scientific, reviews, dailies (newspapers) and everything in between as free for all editorial combinations of possibilities in periodical print, with paying gigs for the well circulated for all writers engravers and illustrators - what a roadmap for all other Europeans to emulate coming from the French and English Empires who had evenly carved up the rest of the world as colonies. The French press was certainly not lacking in coverage of the most lurid and then inventive ways of reporting and describing it, and never even had the nascent goals of objective reporting that were counter to the days of yellow journalism and sensationalist New York newspapers. And conflicts of all kind of course were on the horizon, often the time that specifically lurid murders, crimes and such become obsessional to serve a well known psychological purpose to take the populace's minds off of impending breakouts of total warfare. (Alot of people forget that the World Wars were rooted in the nascent Prussian alliance with Austria and the idea that the 20th Century would be the "German Century" because Europe had been so focussed on itself for so long that it could not see the oncoming giants of the US and Russia as vast continents of unmined resources and populaces that the new idea of the nation state could harness in heretofore unknown things called "ideologies," making notions of inherited land, religion, and shared blood obsolete for that century, at least.)

It is interesting to differentiate, especially for furthering a discussion of the intersection of aesthetics and politics, between the notions of fairness, ethics, and justice, as the three ages of women and men. Especially as childhood is set primarily in the hands of women, as any boy chafing at female authority in the form of his mother reinforced by a phalanx of grandmothers, aunts, older sisters, nurses, nannies, babysitters and schoolteachers will tell you, for centuries,- and the increasing realization that the only fields still left of pure speculation on money that men seem to still have the compulsive obsessive lock on (we will leave out the porn industry as it is a discussion of children) and the other purely masculine domain of creative and scientific "genius" are passing away, - have passed away already for all but the delusional. Childhood itself is changing forever, but traditions of childhood also look like they will stay forever as well. So, childhood will always remain the realm of the notion of fairness, as we all want a beautiful world for our children and so try to instill it in their hearts. (That fathers want a secret rebellious streak and humor to work for a beautiful boy world under all the eagle eyed female supervision is fair, too - why I laughed when my single friend who works in animation told me he went to South Park and the whole theater was full of fathers who had clandestinely and deliciously taken their sons.)

School should then lay the map for the young adult's study of ethics, so that there can be a general understanding of underlying principles of commonly understood ethics and the legal ramifications - perhaps the reason for so many police, law and medical programs on popular television - the narratives of ethical dilemmas generate endlessly compelling underlying plot devices. Even the XFiles taking place in the FBI and has its allegories of trustworthiness and ethics - apparently all of this has an enormous pull on the American consciousness.

The nearly impossible part for a nation state such as ours is the notion of justice, as justice as opposed to ethics and fairness is meant to make absolute decisions of moral and immoral and mete out the absolutely stern and necessarily strict punishment, and this is nearly impossible anyway in a nation state founded on separation of church and state. A State that is based on elections and voting consensus cannot even pretend to have some higher order, and even if the truly secular moral thinkers do agree on an absolute wrong it is nearly impossible to apply the punishment as following somehow logically from the premise. If Americans starting at middle age could do the work of looking forward to their own absolute maturity and experience as elders instead of fearing the appearance of being "unhip" to children and youth and unattractive full stop, it would be easier to deal with the absolutely ad hoc in the most fearful sense nature of a world that actually gets tangled up permanently in ethics, - which is an endless argument between every single willful point of view in print or on television now collapsing from the notion that in the face of the international banking and financial class there was any difference between the Democratic and Republican parties - or European and American governments and their approach to any global problem at all. And I do mean global in both senses of the word.
The financial class had no notion of justice nor ethics because they had left behind the most basic of childhood precepts faced with children's decieving and cheating ways to get more than their share of absolutely everything - they hadn't even gotten some basic notions of fairness meant to be in the heart from childhood, in other words, so how could the young adult's serious and continuous study of ethics moving into the mature and elder adults' dawning wisdom about justice have a ground to take place? Hence the bubble bursting now is the biggest bubble of all, the beautiful world we had hoped for our children - but perhaps as it was culturally playing out it was not a beautiful world at all, and just a surface glamour with corruption underneath and the real beauty can start to come through, not based on enormous debt and consumer expectations.

So if Beauty is still the biggest debate in the Art World today, and I did read some of Elaine Scarry's On Beauty and Being Just, I would remind everyone of the double meaning of the word fair, that in the archaic world of children, is still used as in a Fair maiden or fair of face. I find Joe Coleman's work repulsive aesthetically, but also plain tedious, in the category of:

You don't need to put your hand in a bucket of tar to know it is black.


This was my response to my sculptor loftmate's question whether I would see the Chapman Brothers show years ago, and I have used it ever sense, If educated culture in this country means endlessly being pulled into discussions where one is supposed to show what side of some massively discussed popular topic whatever the subcategory of American people you find yourself in, I have discovered a tactic called a conversation stopper. I had to use one several nights ago with a jazz musician who wanted to talk about OJ Simpson and Ishmael Reed coming down on his innocence and tell me he knew OJ did it, and I said the same thing I came up with to avoid my father's penchant for bringing up loaded topics everytime he wanted just one person in his life he could redline with political rage - which he has maintained no matter where he has been on the political continuum which has gone from socialism to ibertarianism, if only in his own mind - "I wasn't there." I would like to use the banality of evil with certain topics, but with Coleman's work use the conversation stopper. Certain topics and artists, discussing them at all is doing too much service.

That is Joe Coleman's work.




The Immoral, Amoral and Moral

This Peter Saul painting I find fair in both senses of the word, because of the palette, the absolute novelty of his paintings as inventing with paint from that period, and the amorality of it all. The child's world, as the reformers never seem to know, is largely an amoral one. I just watched the documentary on the history of comics picking up with the invention of the comic book and the chilling speech of the man who brought down EC comics and all of its imitators and slapped the morality code on the comics for children ever after. In the documentary the speech is used to historical effect the first time and then for comic effect to close it, in the Marxian parable of the second time something comes back it is as farce. Humor is terror management for children who know above all else that they are small and defenseless - Peter Saul's work is humorously and comically in the world of the amoral, and don't we love no matter how old we are being back in that version of a catalyzingly safe world no matter what age. Terror management will never lose its use value as no one here gets out alive.

However, I did go down to hear a lecture given on Peter Saul when I had gone to Philadelphia to see the retrospective - and the galleries and the Quilt's of Gee's Bend and James Castle at the Philadelphia Museum - and the lecture framing Peter Saul's work was so demoralizing to me in its method of framing Saul's work as "moral" including a quote from that great liberator the Marquis de Sade (whose girl and boy servants all fled his home in the age that aristocrats could do anything they wanted to peasants and servant class as their was no court system there, and literary figures like Voltaire or famous alchemists like Castiglioni were apt to spend time in gaols as a ticket to world wide celebrity, so he used his tedious mind to come up with pages and pages of torture plotted along a mathematical grid of orifices and applications of torture to them. Any page of the 120 Days of Sodom makes Abu Graib look like the fraternity party antics the Republicans tried to insist it was; but never mind, I have never met anyone that has read his purported novels yet, only the received ideas of Breton Bataille and cie stemming from the ongoing French obsession with its own history with the Catholic Church.) The lecturer went on to describe the highly comic painting of a serial killer as the cold State murdering the passionate killer.

Stop right there! I too have seen Kubrick's Clockwork Orange but found just amorality and entertainment there, and yes art, but no moral lesson society can use. A reified State is what paranoids come up with, and since as a general rule men are from paranoid and women are from depressive, I would like to have a novel approach in the Art World to approaching the moral, as someone who has no problems with paranoia but as an archaic throwback to the woman as designated mourner. (There are more of us depressives around than you would think, its just that paranoids really are sure they are the ones that know the "facts" and therefore crowd the airwaves op/ed pages lecture halls and just about every forum one can imagine - well the way I have found as a depressive is to use my massive reading and different very slow yet unrelenting way of sorting information to confront these purported facts with knowledge.) This lack of paranoia is actually quite novel in an art world that has fed on pure adrenaline of one kind of another since the eighties in a country that has fed itself on adrenaline since the underlying paranoia of the fifties, but passion in its most important interpretation is pure pain and suffering, and that is for everyone who loved the murdered one who is left behind. The state can only mediate between the passions of the families and loved ones and communities permanently injured by murder of any kind. The different ways of mediating through the legal system as it has become is very long indeed now that only a few pockets of vigilante justice actually do occur in our average communities. This is the most armed and violent country on the planet not actually undergoing revolution or civil war, and even the perpetual war for perpetual peace that Noam Chomsky wrote about can redirect that focus outward anymore, so it is strange in a way that the Death Penalty has stayed a kind of nontopic for so long, as progressives and liberals such as myself have known we have been against it since adolescence and never given it another thought. Obviously the death of this family I had know fairly well has changed that forever, and my trips to Richmond show that this is thought about more than ever since the killers were found and have been on trial.

So, with the recession making everyone get more panicky and weird, it may be a time to cut through ethics discussions that can be endlessly bracketed, and discuss capital punishment, something that I have to finally think about rather than comfortably bracket just as everyone else. I am a liberal, I have been solidly against capital punishment since fifteen - although in college I did have a mad dog metaphor for killing serial killers, they had a disease beyond their brain's control and should just be shot. My roommate was the daughter of a college professor and merely got out her arsenal of purported logic, however before I even wrote the phrase "excessive rationality always leads to rationalization" had enough intimation of our country's law schools and their debate to win training that I do what I always did when confronted with debate team types who just want to play verbal tennis and win at all costs rather than hearing a point of view and considering it for learning and experience, and walked away.

I would say that capital punishment is not fair in the ultimate two wrongs do not make a right simple addition / subtraction metaphor used for children. But to make the world fair and honor the passions of those in pain and suffering, we all need to change some our truly childish lurid focus and become collectively designated mourners for the victims and all those interdependently suffering for them. I learned on New Year's Day of 2006 through a phone call of the death of a couple I knew as well as everyone nearly in Richmond, a once famous (-for-Richmond) rock star Brian Harvey whose first band I had covered in 1980 and his wife who ran the toy store that is still the best toy store I have ever been in to date. I called my friend Ainslee de Wolf in Los Angeles who sat in on their recording sessions and worked from her film experience on their video, and also my friend Katharine Gates who now lives in Westchester who did the Joe Coleman books with her imprint Gates of Heck, immediately after the news, as I am sure they called or emailed everyone they knew. I went to a funeral just a year later and someone said it was the Richmond 9/11, but the worst and most painful irony was seeing the oscar winning Capote film of the period in his life where he conceived of In Cold Blood. I don't know when we may grow up as a country and realize the most profound meaning of the banality of evil and become the designated mourners of the victims of murders doubtlessly harder to write but infinitely richer lives. I do hope someone could write a book on the Harvey Family, the stories of the entire Richmond community could fill volumes. I don't want to know anything about the murderers, they are banal and evil as it gets in a society constructed such as ours, but just talked to my closest friend about the ongoing legal system and its way of dealing with it and the continued discussion in Richmond, and neither of us find it in our hearts to have capital punishment and know that they will die.

However Peter Saul's paintings like this, as one gets older, remind me that humor is also anger management and grief management too. Temperamentally I lean to satire and black humor having no terror problems compared to the anger and grief I have as someone approaching the elder status I am looking forward to. I think the idea of hip after forty is absurd and a good way to turn oneself into a cartoon, and immoral as a simple way of never having to think anything through for the rest of one's life. The United States loves cartoons and comics too much to become a self destructive until the end one for the rest of the world to only gape at and go tribal or go down with. Time to make some decisions, if the art world is going to have anything to say to anyone outside of it.


The Harvey Family


The Harvey family
In the early afternoon of January 1, 2006, Kathryn, Bryan, Stella, and Ruby Harvey, a family of four, were found beaten, slashed and bound with electrical cord and tape in the basement of their burning house in the Woodland Heights district of Richmond, Virginia.
Kathryn Harvey, 39, was the co-owner of a popular local toy shop called "World of Mirth" in the Carytown district of Richmond, and the half-sister of actor Steven Culp. Bryan Harvey, 49, was an indie musician of note, a former member of House of Freaks, a two-man band who had recorded, performed and had a following of note in Los Angeles and college radio stations until both members decided to move back to Richmond. Their daughters Stella and Ruby were 9 and 4, respectively. Bryan and Kathryn died of blunt-force trauma to the head, Stella of smoke inhalation and blunt-force trauma to the head, and Ruby of stab wounds to her back, one of which punctured her lung. [6]
The Drive-by Truckers recorded a song about the Harveys for their album, Brighter Than Creation's Dark. The song , titled "Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife," is sung from Bryan's point of view.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Oyvind Fahlstrom






I don't ordinarily like the politics behind Jed Perl's writing but there was one observation of his that had some general application, "young artists don't have influences as much as sources." This doesn't meant that young artists aren't inventive, it is just that I have many friends who are teachers that have said that when their students reinvent the wheel andthey as teachers point them towards older artists there is a new phenomenon of being shrugged off. This is not terrible - Marinetti and others wanted to burn the ground behind them - it may be though that there is not as much fervor for making it up on one's own as much as a simultaneously busy kaleidoscopic imagery yet lazy mindedness for students to confront head on later in life - right after school perhaps.

This is by no means limited to the visual arts - writers I have known are bewildered to find students writing something like Wallace Stevens for example never having heard of him much less read him, and so many other examples, the refrain is how does this happen? The teaching and scholarship of previous epochs made one incapable of being unaware of the existence of predecessors much less absolutely required to go into them and through them. My roommate came back from Yaddo years ago with a wellknown writer giving his novel to an an agent who found a publisher - I was living with him through every step of this exciting process -and then finally an editor who said "this book has so much of two of my favorite novels, Mrs. Bridge and Geek Love." Wesley had never read either, but I read his novel and recognized the vignette style of moving through a chronological time in truly compact and well written prose paragraphs isolated from each other in the page space from both Mrs. Bridge and the follow up Mr. Bridge quite well; we had all been so enthusiastic about these two novels by Evan S. Connell (and all the handsome paperbacks from the belated North Point Press also). That is a mystery how these things are in the air.
One time in Bruce Pearson's studio I was showing him my drawings and he looked at one and said it looked like his work, and I said they were redrawings of Arp forms with the aboriginal radiating lines surrounding, and added, alot of times when we think we are pulling things from thin air we find the air is very thick.

It is an interesting time when the young no longer feel that they have to eat the father, as they are quite content absentmindedly snacking on him.

I had read somewhere that Robert Storr had said now would be a good time for students to reconsider working with politics. The main thing about refamiliarizing myself with Oyvind Fahlstrom on the website of his foundation (a trip to the Strand yesterday to buy the large monograph that I had been meaning to before starting the whole Cabinet of Cabarets endeavor was gone) is how much his early fifties working a codex book form is this very sweeping cinematic doodling and abstraction from page to page, so familiar to so much going on with younger artists now; and then his incredible range of activities, listed in the bio below. I didn't know he had written so much poetry and that he wrote an influential essay about concrete poetry - the article on his poetics on the website begins with a quote from Charles Bernstein (who is a compelling performer in the Futurist MoMA event from February 9th further down on this blog); I do intend to have a lot more on poetry eventually and have to study this aspect of Fahlstrom further. There is also the film work, the early days as a political commentator and journalist, and the plays...but the main thing is the political depth and breadth of research behind his work and how plain exciting, formalistically far ranging, pop and yet elegant his work always is - and there are many times he goes more in the direction of being more abstract and formally inventive as well.

For now I find some of his work so familiar to some of what younger artists are doing, but they are doing it without the political knowledge, or desire to weave it in as content. There could be no better artist to look into at the moment for lessons in form and content and attention to global events I can imagine. He certainly was an influence on a good friend of mine Lisa Austin who went to Yale to get her MFA in 1982, (she is still making work but never moved to New York as someone who got a job teaching art far from the center) and much under discussion at the time with so many of the sculpture students I knew in the late seventies and early eighties. It really is a loss that Oyvind Fahlstrom died so young - there was a roadmap for a continued life's work here in every direction while staying absolutely necessary to an understanding of US and European hegemony and its complicated interplay. In his maps, monopoly boards, and vast information filled puzzles, it would seem that many artists I do admire who work(ed) well with political events or economic diagrams or so on have only picked up on one or a few parts of the puzzle of his vast tracking and vision. Many of these artists are (were) late bloomers or had a long time underknown or underground and so are my age or older on top of that. When the backlash hit Identity Politics and other politics in the midnineties, it hit very hard right at a time where students couldn't really afford to think about their awful tuition and debt burdens not paying off with galleries and collectors or grants and commissions one day. We paid twelve to eighteen dollars a credit hour when we went to school in my day, only the unbelievably rich kids had credit cards and cars while we had bounced checks and bicycles - but we were free, in ways no student after the college loan and credit card epoch could possibly imagine. I never got a credit card and came back from France, which was a nation of national health care and savings accounts (met people with the new debit cards but never credit cards outside of a certain demographic. The Europeans had never believed the stock market anything for anyone outside of the casino class. It is too bad they didn't know what their banking and financial class had been up to. Paper money only is one thing in the end - it is promissory notes from banks backed up by a nation state's federal reserves and taxpayer monies. This is not socialism versus global capitalism, it is the difference between fictional money and something that could be proven to be a nonfiction!

We are now printing new money and bailing out trillions that should have been revealed as fiction in the first place on some impossibly brighter future, - this is the first generation actually to increasingly eat their young with each passing decade even while throwing way too much at them from the time they are born giving them no training in temperance or saving or tools for survival - in a complete reversal of Freud's little fable used for an art world parable above. I had seen the US as increasingly financially delusional with every passing year back from Europe, and that was not subject to left or right politics because absolutely no one was tracking deregulation or economics with any common sense whatsoever - there was always such a host of issues that could be endlessly discussed and argued about that seemed more important at the time.

Please look into Fahlstrom's monopoly game boards on his website - he would have certainly been of utmost help at this time and perhaps there is an artist out there who can pick up the baton. Mark Lombardi certainly was tracking money changing hands but not perhaps aware of this overall attempt at a New World Order that was no order at all, there is no pattern and order in a global capitalism become a giant casino that was not even entertaining but purely predatory and vicious. In an article on Gagosian Peter Scheljdahl describes this infamous dealer as both a genius and a shark. Really - the shark is the lowest form of prehistoric intelligence and so maladaptive that if it stops swimming forward it dies. So many American people, museums, universities, institutions think that if they stop expanding, making ever more money, getting ever more publicity, they will die. It is time to let them shrink back into something more rational, to the size they were before they had CEOS and presidents perched like ticks feeding off the entire enterpise, and before they were grown like the little sponge toys that start out tiny and become dinosaurs by being flooded with magic grow water in the form of fictional liquidity. And there have to be more real deaths allowed as a lesson - perhaps Parsons School of Art should just melt down altogether, for just one Art World metaphor.

If there often is one marker artist for a time we are in, Oyvind Fahlstrom is the one for the times we are in now. But then he always was in his own time.


1928
Öyvind Axel Christian Fahlström was born Brazilian on the 28th of December in Sáo Paulo, the only child of Frithjof Fahlström, born in Trondheim, Norway, in 1886, and Karin Fahlström, nèe Kronvall, born in Stockholm in 1900. He spends his childhood in Sáo Paulo, Niteroi and Rio de Janeiro and is educated in Portugese and English at Escola Britannica de Sáo Paulo.

1939
In July, at the age of ten-and-a-half, he is sent to Sweden to spend the summer with his maternal grandfather and aunt. A month after his arrival in Stockholm, Germany invaded Poland. Now stranded by the outbreak of World War II, he is enrolled mid-September in Whitlockska Samskolan, a private school for foreign students in Stockholm.

1948
His parents return to Stockholm, by which time he is an adult. After graduating at the top of his class in June, he is forced to choose between Brazilian and Swedish compulsory military service. He elects to become a Swedish citizen and relinquishes his Brazilian passport.

1949-52
Classical studies and art history at the University of Stockholm. Travels to Paris and Italy meeting other poets and painters.

1950-61
Theatre and poetry, journalism, criticism, translations. Contributes regularly to the Swedish press on cultural topics, both local and foreign, a role he will perform the rest of his life. Divides his time between Stockholm, Paris, and Rome.

1952
Produces Opera, a room-sized drawing using felt-pen.
Marries Birgitta Tamm.

1953
Solo exhibition at Galleria Numero, Florence (shows Opera). Writes Hätila ragulpr på fåtskliaben: manifest för konkret poesi (Hipy Papy Bthuthdth Thuthda Bthuthdy: Manifesto for Concrete Poetry), which is published in 1954.

1955-57
Produces Ade-Ledic-Nander I and II, which are part of a planned series of "character-form" paintings. Writes twenty-seven page scenario for the second painting.
Separates from Birgitta Tamm.

1955
Joins the Phases movement. Opera shown at Galerie Creuze, Paris. Solo exhibition at Galerie Aesthetica, Stockholm.

1956
Every second Saturday hosts an open studio.

1958
Contract with Galerie Daniel Cordier, Paris. Participates in the Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture at the Carnegie Institute of Art. Scholarship for study in Italy.
Divorces Birgitta Tamm.

1959
Solo exhibition at Galerie Daniel Cordier and at Galerie Blanche, Stockholm. Honorable mention for Ade-Ledic-Nander II at the 5th Bienal de Sáo Paulo.

1960
Scholarship for study in France.
Marries Barbro Östlihn.

1961
Grant from the Swedish-American Foundation to live in New York. Moves into the 128 Front Street studio formerly occupied by Robert Rauschenberg. Jasper Johns lives in the same building. Henceforth he lives and works in New York, spending summers in Sweden, France and Italy. Begins the Sitting… series.

1962
First variable painting, Sitting… Six months later. Solo exhibition at Galerie Daniel Cordier. Participates in New Realists exhibition at Sidney Janis Gallery, New York.

1962-64
Happenings at Moderna Museet, Stockholm and on Swedish television. Publishes the word-game Minneslista för Dr. Schweitzer's sista uppdrag [Checklist for Dr. Schweitzer's Last Mission]. Fåglar i Sverige [Birds in Sweden], a "tape-event", is broadcast by Swedish radio.

1965
Writes the plays Hammarskjöld om Gud [Hammarskjold on God], which is staged at Pistolteatern, Stockholm in 1966, directed by Sören Brunes, and Bröderna Strindberg [The Strindberg Brothers]. Represented by Sidney Janis Gallery, New York.

1966
Den helige Torsten Nilsson [Holy Torsten Nilsson], a five-hour audiphonic novel, is broadcast by Swedish radio. First variable multiples, Eddie (Sylvie's Brother) in the Desert and a banner, Send Me Back to Congo. Represents Sweden at the XXXIII Venice Biennale (the most important work is Dr. Schweitzer's Last Mission, 1964-1966). Performance of Kisses Sweeter Than Wine for 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering organized by Experiments in Art and Technology at the 26th Street Armory, New York. Roulette, his first painting in oil on photo paper is shown in Erotic Art at Sidney Janis Gallery. Bord (poems 1952-55) published by Bonniers, Stockholm. The Strindberg Brothers is translated to French.
Mao-Bob Hope-March (black and white, 16 mm) using material from Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.

1967
Writes the play Oswald kommer tillbaka [Oswald Comes Back]. Solo exhibition at Sidney Janis Gallery, New York. Produces his first work in which the oil on photo paper on vinyl elements float on water (Parkland Memorial). Version of Kisses Sweeter Than Wine broadcast on Swedish radio. Monograph published by Bonniers, Stockholm. Participates in towards a cold poetic image, Galleria Schwarz, Milan; Pictures to be Read/Poetry to be Seen, the inaugural exhibition of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

1968
Makes two documentaries in New York for Swedish television about the anti-war movement amongst other things (black and white, 16 mm).The Strindberg Brothers is staged in New York during the summer at the Gotham Art Theatre by Michael Abrams. Finishes the play Förlåt Hitler [Forgive Hitler]. Bonniers publishes Den helige Torsten Nilsson in book form. Eddie (Sylvie's Brother) in the Desert... Collage is donated to The Museum of Modern Art, New York in the Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection. Takes part in IV Documenta Kassel. Makes a thirty minute film, U-Barn (black and white and color, 35 mm). Retrospective exhibition in Pentacle, Musèe des Arts Dècoratifs, Paris, includes The Little General (Pinball Machine).

1969
Solo exhibitions at Sidney Janis Gallery, New York and Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne. Travelling retrospective organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Writes the screenplay for a feature film (old-age love story and revolt in a psychiatric hospital). Makes Meatball Curtain (for R. Crumb) for Art and Technology at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Begins filming Du Gamla Du Fria (100 minutes, color, 35 mm).

1971
Solo exhibition at Sidney Janis Gallery, New York.

1972
Cellen [The Cell], a radio theatre collage for Swedish radio based on interviews with cancer patients. Du Gamla Du Fria [Provocation] is shown at the Venice Film Festival. Self-publishes Sketch for World Map Part I (Americas, Pacific) which is distributed in the May issue of the New Left journal, Liberated Guardian, in an edition of 7000 copies. World Bank is selected for the New York Collection for Stockholm, an American gift to Moderna Museet. $108 Bill is published by E.A.T. in two editions: as a silkscreen print and as a lithograph.
Writes the play Dromdjuret [The Dream Animal].

1973
Solo exhibition at Sidney Janis Gallery, New York. Writes the play The Black Room, based on the Watergate scandal. Retrospective at Moore College of Art Gallery, Philadelphia. Sketch for "World Map", is published as a silkscreen print by Avery, Kenner and Weiner, Inc. to benefit the Youth International Party.

1974
Retrospective at the University of Wisconsin, Foster Gallery, Eau Claire. Solo exhibitions at Galerie Buchholz, Munich, and Galleria Multhipla, Milan. Die Zeit publishes an article and a silkscreen print, Column No. 4 (IB Affair). Retrospective portfolio of ten silkscreen prints published by Edizioni Multhipla, Milan. Prize for the silkscreen print, Seven S.O.M.B.A. Elements, at The 9th International Biennial Exhibition of Prints in Tokyo.

1975
Solo exhibition at Galerie Alexandre Iolas, Paris. The exhibition Let's Mix All Feelings Together - Baruchello, Erró, Fahlström, Liebig is shown in museums in Munich, Frankfurt, Leverkusen, Paris, Rennes, Humlebaek, etc. A Proposito del Mulino Stucky for the Venice Biennale. Filming of documentary on Fahlström begins (Jan Sundström, director). Begins writing play interlocking events from the life of Wilhelm Reich with scenes from the television serial, Blondie.
Separates from Barbro Östlihn, to live with Sharon Avery.

1976
Prepares to live and work in Paris for a year. Participates in Drawing Now, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, which travels internationally. Solo exhibitions at Sidney Janis Gallery, New York and Galerie Ahlner, Stockholm. Catalogue raisonnè on his prints and multiples is completed by Sharon Avery. Éditions Maeght publishes Nights, Winters,Years (Words by Justin Hayward) in the series, Affiches (an artist-writer collaboration). Monograph published by Edizioni Multhipla, Milan (essays by Achille Bonito Oliva, Laszlo Glozer, Olle Granath, Öyvind Fahlström). Completes plans for Three Nightmares, a pool installation commissioned by Renault, Paris. Documentary on Fahlström aired on Swedish television. Elements from "Masses" and Sixteen Elements for "Chile I" prepared for publication by Gino Di Maggio and Sharon Avery. Reworks Night Music 4: Protein Race Scenario into eleven panels.
Divorces Barbro Östlihn.
An exploratory operation in mid-September reveals colon cancer metastacized to the liver which is untreatable.
Marries Sharon Avery.
Dies on the 9th of November in Stockholm.