12/28/09

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times: 2000-2010

Contemporary life is full of databases. Lets end the first decade of the ZEROS with a few lists to put things in some form of context.

Lets get really broad to start....Here is the list of THE BEST MOMENTS OF THE DECADE:
1) The world not ending.
2) Same sex weddings legalized in many countries in Europe and a few states in North America. The recognizing of "same sex unions" in countries like Israel and Australia. And the proposal to recognize same sex marriage in Mexico City in the new year.
3) Current TV.
4) George W. Bush and his regime stepping down and leaving Washington.
5) Obama's presidential victory.
6) Medical marijuana.
7) Proposed tax on soda and junk food.
8) Wikipedia
9) The blogging revolution
10) Good friends and good fun!

THE WORST MOMENTS OF THE DECADE:
1) All the genocides in East Asia and Africa that still receive no mainstream attention.
2) George W. Bush and his Regime.
3) Dumb celebrity "news" and dumb celebrities.
4) Reality TV becoming the only thing on TV. Other than Fox News...which shares this #4 slot.
5) Israel vs. Palestine (the never ending saga).
6) India vs. Pakistan (the never ending saga).
7) September 11th, 2001.
8) "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
9) Democrats and Republicans in the senate.
10) Corporate corruption and Ponzi schemes.

BIGGEST SURPRISE OF 2009:
The death of Micheal Jackson.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2009:
"Health Care Reform."
The New York Mets
Obama's first year.

THE BEST FINE ART EXHIBITIONS OF THE DECADE:
1) Mathew Barney: The Cremaster Cycle
2) Basquiat at the Brooklyn Museum.
3) Gilbert and George at the Brooklyn Museum.
4) Sailing to Byzantium: The Art of Tony Vevers.
5) Expressionismo: Jay Milder, at the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
6) The Pictures Generation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
7) Irving Kriesberg: Early to Recent at Lori Bookstein Fine Art.
8)
Search for the Unicorn: Paintings by Jan Müller and Bob Thompson at Lori Bookstein Fine Art.
9) Out of the Fifties - Into the Sixties: Six Figurative Expressionists at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.
10) Vintage Provincetown:Exhibition of Jules Aarons Photography at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
11) Reinventing Ritual at the Jewish Museum.
12) Arctic Hysteria: New Art from Finland at P.S.1.
13) WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution at P.S.1.
14) Robert Williams: Conceptual Realism at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery.
15) Robert Beauchamp: Animalia at ACME Fine Arts.
16) Francis Bacon: A Century Retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
17) Louise Bourgeois Retrospective at the Guggenheim.
18) Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective at The Museum of Modern Art.
19) Robert Frank: The Americans at the National Gallery and the Met.
20) Hyman Bloom: A Spiritual Embrace at Yeshiva University.

BEST ALBUMS OF THE DECADE:
1) Antony and the Johnsons - The Crying Light
2) The Moldy Peaches - The Moldy Peaches
3) Klaus Nomi - Za Bakdaz (The Unfinished Opera)
4) Kimya Dawson - Remember That I Love You
5) Opeth - Blackwater Park
6) Wire - Object 47
7) MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
8) Gogol Bordello - Super Taranta!
9) Antony and the Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
10) Kimya Dawson - Hidden Vagenda
11) Adam Green - Jacket Full of Danger
12) Blonde Redhead - 23
13) Busdriver - Fear of a Black Tangent
14) Bloodbath - The Fathomless Mastery
15) TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
16) Melvins - Nude With Boots
17) Melta Banana - Cell-Scape
18) Nachtmystium - Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1
19) Radiation 4 - Wonderland
20) Cynic - Traced in Air
Honorable mention:
Sparks - Lil Beethoven

BEST MOVIES OF THE DECADE
1) Me You and Everyone We Know
2) Little Miss Sunshine
3) Wall-E
4) Ichi the Killer
5) Gozu
6) The Nomi Song
7) Whatever Works
8) Into the Wild
9) Milk
10) District 9
11) Fahrenheit 9/11
12) Pan's Labyrinth
13) Amores Perros
14) The Wrestler
15) Oldboy
16) American Splender
17) 21 Grams
18) Diving Bell and the Butterfly
19) Requiem for a Dream
20) Royal Tenenbaums


Things to look forward to in the next decade?

My curatorial endeavors!
And traveling the world to include a more diverse list for 2020!
and is world peace too much to ask?

12/25/09

Holiday Art for the Holiday Spirit

What kind of art historian would I be without making a connection between art history and the holiday season?

In the spirit of Hanukkah we have two very spiritual expressionists, Hyman Bloom and Jay Milder. Both artists reflect the teachings of Theosophy, a doctrine that combines religious philosophy with metaphysics to search for a greater experience for all humanity. Both Bloom and Milder use the physicality of paint to explore the natural and spiritual realms.

Hyman Bloom, immigrated to Boston from a tiny Orthodox village in Latvia, where he met the artist Jack Levine. Both artists were recruited by Karl Zerbe to exhibit in a movement known as Boston Expressionism. Bloom soon rose to fame with his emotive paintings of Rabbis, synagogues, ghosts, and demons; only to fade into obscurity when Abstract Expressionism came to the center of the art world.
Hyman Bloom
The Synagogue
1940
Oil on canvas
The Museum of Modern Art, New York









Jay Milder is a second generation Abstract Expressionist (or Figurative Expressionist), who used the figure as a harbinger of spiritual yearning and individual energy. Milder developed his style during the fifties in New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts. He was one of the founding artists in the Rhino Horn group, which became an important influence on Neo-Expressionist painters like Basquiat. Milder's art has gone through many fantastic periods, but his use of biblical imagery and kabbalistic geometry, and chakra color, remains consistent.
Jay Milder
Jacob's Ladder 15
1966
Oil on Canvas
24" x 24"









For Christmas here is a great Figurative Expressionist scene of the nativity. This work of art provides a new perspective on what institutionalized Christianity had become. Bob Thompson was an American master painter who was also part of the Figurative Expressionist movement in Provincetown and NYC. Much like his Jazz musician friends, Thompson appropriated existing modes of art (Old master paintings for Thompson) by improvising on form and expression.

Bob Thompson
The Nativity
, 1963
oil on canvas
84 1/2" x 60"
From Michael Rosenfeld Fine Art's exhibition: Bob Thompson: Meteor in a Black Hat
November 11, 2005 - January 7, 2006 (Purchase catalog)








As for Kwanzaa, all these works of art (or any of us) wouldn't have existed if not for Africa!
I want to wish everyone a Happy Holidays.
Happy belated Hanukkah to all my Jews! Hope you had eight great nights with friends and family. And to my lovely Christian friends. Merry Xmas. Have a wonderful happy and healthy day! Hope your spending it with good company. If not I am around! Give a Jew a challah!

P.S.
I also would like to include a Merry Xmas for converts and Jews for Jesus (even though I will never understand the latter!).

P.P.S. Even though no one talks about Kwanzaa (possibly because Hallmark hasn't marketed it well), it starts tomorrow. So to all my African American friends, Happy Kwanzaa!

To everyone: Be good to each other and give to those in need! ALL YEAR 'ROUND!

12/23/09

Tis the Season pt. 2

Tis the Season to give, but not to those gays!

Every year those obnoxious bells fill the cold stale NYC air. The streets are decked with bows of holly and packed with consumers feverishly racing to get their last minute shopping done. The jingling bells are accompanied by often boisterous pleas to "help those in need."

The reality of the matter is the Salvation Army is one of the least helpful "charities" to those in need. That is if you factor in the idea that homosexuals are in need. The Salvation Army doesn't, and they have been very aggressive in seeing that these people don't receive the same rights as everyone else. I applaud the fact that the Salvation Army does raise billions of dollars and helps millions in need. But who are these millions? It completely hypocritical (and not charitable) for an organization whose "mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination," to in fact discriminate.

Well now it makes sense. They are basing their humanitarian efforts on the teachings of a person that possibly never existed. The Salvation Army is an evangelical Christian charity...And we all know how "god hates fags" (And also Lady Gaga, but that is another story altogether.)

Everyone has their own idea of what charity is, but just for a blatant clarification I googled the definition of charity on Merriam-Webster. We see that the first result is the "love of humanity." Hating any single person or group of people (for no good reason) is not showing a love of humanity, or any kind of benevolent goodwill.

Take those bells and shove it up your asses!

Mensch Maschine



Replacing a computer part or getting it repaired, is like going to the doctors for an ache or pain. Smart phones are your brain .

Public option on health care and tech care?

12/20/09

Transformation

This blog is nearly a year old and understandably a lot has happened since I started writing here. Looking back at my early posts I found myself laughing out loud at how angsty I must have sounded at times. But then again, what I had written was heartfelt and everyone is entitled to change their opinion.

I refer most specifically to my posts about religion most specifically. In the beginning I must have sounded like a Dawkins-eque atheist, declaring as Nietzsche did "God is Dead!"
I am definitely not a Satanist or an atheist. I will never give myself any religious label. I do find these often misunderstood philosophies interesting. Anton LaVey was if nothing else, an important philosopher. I still won't say that I believe in god, but I am definitely a spiritual person. I do feel there is a higher level of existence that can be reached through personal enlightenment. It is up to each of us to find that enlightenment. We are definitely not getting it through following sheepishly, the many misguided institutions that call themselves religious organizations. Each of us has the potential to be god like.

Then there is politics, and if you look back in the blog archives, my first post was an open letter to a newly elected Obama. Like the majority of the people I spoke to, we are dissatisfied with the job our elected officials are doing for our country. If these same people worked in any of the jobs the majority of hard working Americans did, they'd be fired for lack of production. I don't consider myself a Democrat or Republican. I think that the two party system has always been a joke, and now the senate has fully become the theater of the absurd. I hope these "educated" people get themselves in gear in the New Year. We really need reform in this country. Mr. President, don't back down and weaken your stance to satisfy old grumpy men who don't care about anything but their bank accounts and summer homes in the Hamptons. I was, like many people happy that Obama was elected over McCain and his horrible dark joke for Vice President. However, I am beginning to think that Obama is just another great speaker with no means for acting upon what he says. I hope that in the next 3 years he proves me wrong. If not, then nothing has changed from the Bush Regime.

My thoughts about art have generally remained the same. They have gotten more informed as I become more involved in the art scene, but I still champion the fight to wrong the art world's naive mistakes. Too many great artists and movements have been ignored by Art Historians and the influence that the commercial art market has over everything. There is a lot of work to be done but I have faith in a group of young and feisty art historians and curators to get the job done! I will support my friends and colleagues in their ambitious endeavors and I hope that they will in turn support me in mine!

I will be very busy in 2010 working on an exhibition catalog, selecting artwork, and putting together what will be the first museum exhibition of my career. While this is exciting, I have to admit that I don't know what the future will have in store for both myself and my work. I can only say that I will never give up and I will increase the great strides I have already taken.

I am glad that 2009 is coming to an end. Time to focus on making things better!

Much love and thank you for continuing to read this blog!

12/18/09

The healthcare bill is an Obamanation.

12/7/09

Race, Gender, Politics, and Art History

In the recent issue of ARTnews the feature is all about female artists. If you have been following recent art news you are already aware of the conflict between art critic Jerry Saltz and The Museum of Modern Art. Saltz points out that while MoMA has a large collection of women artists, only 4% of the work hanging in the galleries represents female artists. While the argument Saltz makes is very worthy, it is not just female artists who have been pushed aside.

Lets face it, Western Art History (which is recognized as simply "Art History") has been recorded, by the powers that be, and really should be called "The History of White Male Artists." With the exception of Georgia O'Keefe and Frida Kahlo, most casual art viewers (those who haven't studied art history or don't read up on art) probably couldn't create a list of important female artists. With the exception of Basquiat, many might not be able to recognize the prolific contribution of African American or black artists. Diego Rivera and Frida might be world renowned, but the majority of their Mexican contemporaries have been ignored.

Why does art history ignore many great artists in its survey? I can hypothesize on many possible reasons. The first is that in order to include some of these left out artists, the whole canon of art history would have to change. This obviously would become a very daunting and tedious task for those who publish the art history books. The second is that writing about some of these artists and their relevancy might change the perspective of what previously has been written. Women are footnotes in Dada and Surrealism, when in fact artists like Meret Oppenheim, Hannah Hoch, Sophie Taeuber, and Beatrice Wood, all have legitimate reasons to be considered just as great as their male contemporaries. But who would dare to upstage Dali and Duchamp!?

Many times art history and politics coincide. For example, until recently, the Mexican Muralists received little attention in American museums. MoMA's creation of a (small) Mexican Modernist gallery is a good start, however much more work remains to be done. Many people aren't even aware of the influence these Mexican Modernists had on the Abstract Expressionists. Without the artistic contributions that were coming out of Mexico City in the 1930's, there would arguably be no relevant progression in Modern Art. The reason for these artists not being given the proper historical context is clearly because they expressed Marxist views. These concepts were a direct contrast to the American ideology and practice of Capitalism, and it even became a fatal subject during the Cold War. Many of the American Figurative Expressionists (a movement worthy of the same praise as the Abstract wing of Expressionism) were left out because they challenged the mainstream canon of Abstract Expressionism, which had become part of bourgeois ideology. In reality the Figurative Expressionists were far more revolutionary, and expressed poignant critique of the human condition. Their oft harsh and gritty paintings were too much for a culture who adopted a hip aesthetic (the smooth perfection of Pop Art and Minimalism) in the 1960's. Black artists have never received their fair dues in the history of art. Great black artists and artworks have existed in the Western world for centuries. They have been part of the same popular canons throughout art history. However, apart from Jacob Lawrence and Jean-Michel Basquiat, there are too few "house hold names." Critics also enjoy referring to the work of black artists as "primitive," even when it is clear that the artists intent is far deeper.
Feminism is often portrayed in a way that makes it seem like a movement that was full of contempt and angst. Critics have degraded women by saying that their art is sexually explicit and crosses the line into pornography. In the 70's and 80's both female and gay artists were under attack for using their bodies and beliefs as a cause for personal artistic expression. Art history makes homosexuality and gender issues seem and feel taboo, when in reality they are not.

Why vilify and mock these progressive geniuses? Is it to cover up the fact that there is an obvious mistreatment and disparity in art? Many people go to a museum and are unaware of this prejudice. They are just conditioned to accept what is in front of them as history. I guarantee that many of you don't even question what is presented to you in reality. You have come to accept that the greatest artists in history happen to be Da Vinci, Van Goh, Monet, Picasso, Pollock, Warhol, Koons, Hirst...ect, ect. And after all, one can never argue with history, because it is all true and based on fact...The fact that a rich white man probably wrote it!

12/6/09

Shock Attack

Sutapa Biswas, Housewives with Steak-Knives, 1985.
Oil, acrylic, and pastel on paper,mounted on canvas
96 x 108 inches.


Art has been the subject of a great debate most recently in local news. Now the Neuberger Museum at Suny Purchase is being asked by some Hindu leaders to remove a "controversial" painting by the artist Suptapa Biswas that is in the most recent exhibition "British Subjects: Identity and Self-Fashioning 1967-2009." "Housewives with Steak Knives" depicts the Hindu goddess Kali (destroyer of evil or goddess of time and change) wielding a knife while dressed in contemporary female garb. When looking at other artistic depictions of Kali it would seem that for hundreds of years artists have interpreted the deity in many ways and most of them draw similar comparisons to Biswas' piece.

Kali is often shown triumphant over her challenger. This is usually the form of Shiva, the supreme god. Hindu deities are often paradoxical and rather subjective in their intent or meaning. This can be true of almost all religious iconography. As culture and . This latest controversy brings to mind the anger and misunderstanding of artwork like Andres Serrano's Piss Christ (1987) and Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary (1996). Both works of art drew harsh criticism from Catholics (and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani). However they ultimately triumphed because art is widely (and truthfully) regarded as an expression of the artist. With exception to forms of commercial illustration and graphic design, interpretations of fine art will vary from one viewer to another. It is therefore unlikely that we truly can understand the artists' true intent for creating the work. That is unless they actually come forward to tell us.

While many saw "Piss Christ" as a horrible blaspheming attack on Christianity, a consecrated nun and art historian named Sister Wendy Beckett, saw "Piss Christ," in a more symbolic light. She said that she views the work as: "what we have done to Christ" - that is, the way contemporary society has come to regard Christ and the values he represents.
A contrasting interpretation for "The Holy Virgin Mary is that Elephant dung is seen as a metaphor for fertility and by placing it on . As critic Jerry Salz points out in an article for Aesthetica Magazine:

"
Ofili is a serious artist but he's also playful and ironic. His paintings discharge as much psychic energy as they generate; they create a temporary feedback loop of perpetual metaphysical motion. Those exasperated by his Holy Virgin Mary may be responding not to the dung but to the Africanization of an icon, the hybridization of a face that has almost always and only been white."

Might the fact that "Housewives with Steak Knives was created by an Indian women be the real reason for the anger expressed by some Hindu authority figures? After all, one can interpret that Hinduism restricts the roles women can have in society based on the Laws of Manu.

The painting and the relevance of Kali in a modern progressive era is best said by the author of Hindu Blog.
I believe that we need to get over our traditional roots if in fact they are old fashion and regressive. If religion wants to be taken seriously in the 21st century it must keep up with the times.