Friday, July 2, 2004

Friday July 2, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 2:00 AM

Is Nothing Sacred?


From a review in today’s

New York Times

of an L.A. art exhibit,

“Beyond Geometry”

By Michael Kimmelman
in Los Angeles

The roots of this work go back to Duchamp, the abiding spirit of “Beyond Geometry.” When he acquired his porcelain urinal in 1917 from a plumbing equipment manufacturer on lower Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, signed it R. Mutt and submitted the now infamous “Fountain” to the Society of Independent Artists exhibition, he set the stage for nearly every subsequent attempt to blur the difference between art and everyday life.

This was the great breakthrough of modernism or the end of culture as we know it, depending on your perspective. Either way, after Duchamp, as the artist Joseph Kosuth has put it, all art became conceptual.

Duchamp predicted that even a breath might end up being called a work of art, and he was right. Gilbert and George started calling their performances sculptures in the 70’s. Chris Burden, James Lee Byars and others said that their actions were sculptures. Smithson declared derelict factories and suburbs to be sculptures. Artists even made light, the ultimate intangible, into sculpture.

The show includes sculptures by Richard Serra and Barnett Newman. I recall Mr. Serra once talking about how Barnett Newman’s paintings invite you to walk past them, to experience them not in a single glance but over time, physically. He said the paintings, with their vertical stripes, or “zips,” are “about dividing and placing spaces next to one another, not about illusionism.”

“They’re great when you have to walk by them and immerse yourself in the divisions of their spaces,” he added. Meaning, they’re like sculptures.

Nomenclature is not the point. What matters is the ethos of countercultural disruption, looking at the world and art through the other end of the telescope, which is the heart of “Beyond Geometry” and the appeal of its best works to young artists.

Now is the time to put this period of postwar tumult into global perspective. The show here is a useful step in that direction.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia,
other art events:

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(Click on logo for details.)

The reader may determine whether the Philadelphia nothing is the sort of nothing deemed, by some, sacred in my note of March 9, 2000.

I personally have a very low opinion of Kimmelman and his “ethos of countercultural disruption.”  The sort of light sculpture his words evoke is not that of the Pantheon (illustrated in an entry for St. Peter’s Day) but that of the current Philadelphia “Big Nothing” show, which in turn reminds me of that classic 1973 Hollywood art exhibit, The Exorcist:

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1 Comment

  1. hi you seem like you have a dearth of friends so being the connoseuir that i am, i will leave you an excessive amount of eprops that will not be ephemeral, cheerio! this is Sergio Garcia, please be so kind as to prop me back with what i consider words that do not exacerbate my xanga

    Comment by dfxfrigate — Tuesday, July 6, 2004 @ 7:02 PM

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