Invented Symbols by Alex Katz. Charta/Colby College Museum of Art, 2012.Bad Boy: My Life On And Off The Canvas by Eric Fischl and Michael Stone. Crown, 2012. How do we currently write current art’s history? How, given its elastic chronology and ever-widening geographic reach, its self-consciously elusive look, the multiple urges and identities and media it comprises? How, in the absence of a canon of artists around whom a history might be structured, its sources and development traced, its context established, its achievements described? How, in the face of its censure on quality distinctions, its scapegoating of formalism, its dismissal of originality and artistic intent? How, in other words, do we write art’s history within the broader context of postmodernism’s prevailing hegemony?
Our unwieldy culture and its academic strictures increasingly nudge us to write the history of current art not from the outside in but from the inside out, personally and informally, more often than not via the autobiography and the memoir, genres rooted in direct experience that is unique to the individual writer. In doing so, our voices may be unauthorized by institutional structures, but likewise are they unfettered by those structures and the conventions they embody. In the publications considered here those voices richly inform our understanding not of any classroom theory about art’s making but of its day-to-day studio practice – the actual source material upon which any history of painting during the second half of the 20th Century in New York City must ultimately be based. Read More.
Mario Bros. Rock Opera to Make Its New York Stage Debut
By Devon Maloney
If you know who Jonathan Mann is, it’s probably because at some point you’ve followed the Song A Day experiment he’s been conducting on YouTube since 2009. Or maybe you know him as GameJew, the moniker he adopted in 2006 when he first started posting first-person comedy, music and commentary videos based on his love of old-school video games. Either way, what you need to know now is that, in 2005, before he started churning ‘em out on the regular for millions of subscribers, he wrote his real opus: a rock opera dedicated to one of the loves of his life, Super Mario Bros.
At the time, he was attending the California Institute of the Arts and living in Santa Clarita, California, so its production was relegated to the school stage as seen in the above video; now he’s grown up, living in Brooklyn, and with the help of a couple friends he made after his Song-a-Day campaign blew up, he’s resurrecting The Mario Opera on a New York stage.
“I wrote a theme song for [Instapaper founder Marco Arment's] ‘The Accidental Tech Podcast’ as part of my Song A Day process. They started using it, and not long after, [Mario Opera producer] Steven Tartick contacted me,” writes Mann in an email to WIRED, explaining why the opera is getting a second chance. “He was doing social media for Alan Cummings’ one-man Macbeth on Broadway, and wanted me to write a two-minute Macbeth recap song. At a lunch meeting he [told me] he’s a huge Mario fan and asked me about the opera.” Read More.
Julia Holter is at the center of her own swirl of sound
By Randall Roberts
While working on her well-received 2012 album "Ekstasis," Los Angeles singer-composer Julia Holter crafted a song that was such a departure that she set it aside. The piece, "Maxim's II," was inspired by a famous scene in the 1958 movie musical "Gigi" and is one of the hubs of her striking new album, "Loud City Song."
In the film, as the titular heroine very publicly moves through the fancy Parisian restaurant Maxim's with her scandalous beau, the entire room takes note. "Everyone's staring at her and gossiping about her when she walks in," said Holter while sitting on a park bench near Levitt Pavilion Pasadena. "I don't know why, but I wanted to re-create this scene in a song."
Five-plus minutes of swirling brass, strings, piano and Holter's cool, Chet Baker-suggestive vocal, "Maxim's II" variously suggests an avant-garde classical piece or Phil Spector's famous wall of sound being imploded. Cymbals crash, tenor and alto saxophones battle and, near the end, Holter ties it all together with a chaotic crescendo. Movie musical material it's not. Rather, the piece is a monumental construct and unlike any song you'll hear all year. Read More.
Hollywood Foreign Press Promises To Get Serious About Journalism, Gives $1.6M in Grants
HFPA's annual grant luncheon sets new record for its grants, introduces new president Theo Kingma.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association introduced its new officers and gave out $1.6 million in grants on Tuesday at a ceremony long on congratulations (self and otherwise) but short on any recognition of the rocky recent history the new HFPA president is working to overcome.
Incoming HFPA president Theo Kingma (left) has promised a new
era of transparency and journalistic responsibility after the stormy
tenures of his predecessors, Aida Takla-O’Reilly and Philip Berk. Their
terms were marked by legal disputes with a former publicist who alleged kickbacks and conflicts of interest, and with Dick Clark Productions over TV rights to the Golden Globes ceremonies.
Maija Burnett is the Associate Director of Character Animation at CalArts. She’s worked on several blockbuster Hollywood films and has been teaching on subjects in and around the animated figure for years. You know what else she is? An avid photographer. She’s been chronicling her experience of CalArts by way of her Project 365, a daily observational photo diary she’s been keeping of what life at CalArts looks like.
Her photos are all taken by iPhone and, while they could have easily been done by anyone, they represent a person with a very specific eye removed from the hullaballoo of learning. As an educator, she sees the oddity and eccentricities of student life. She’s aware of things like students’ interaction with architecture, unordinary colorscapes, counter cultural pow-wows, and other strange occurrences that anyone else but a teacher would see. Her photos of the school make it seem like the ideological, artsy playground that it is. There are challenges in school but the community is obviously equivalent to a twenty first century artistic salon (at least that’s what it appears to be in the photos). Read More.
Allan Sekula, photographer and CalArts professor, dies at 62
By David Ng
Allan Sekula, a renowned photographer and longtime professor at the California Institute of the Arts whose artistic output centered on the political consequences of maritime commerce and global trade, died in Los Angeles on Saturday.
He was 62 and had been battling advanced cancer, according to CalArts.
He had been on the faculty of CalArts for close to three decades, teaching classes in photography and media.
As a child, Sekula lived in San Pedro and his proximity to one of the the busiest ports in the nation seemed to have greatly affected his work as a photographer. His photography often focused on the shipping industry, ocean travel and commerce.
A 1996 solo exhibit at the Santa Monica Museum of Art featured Sekula's photographs of famous ports around the world as well as images of the ocean. A Times review called the show "a handsome combination of romance and realism, intimacy and detachment." Read More.
Died Allan Sekula, passionate critic of the documentary image
By Jose Marmeleira
With an activity that spanned an important theoretical work, Allan Sekula questioned the limits and possibilities of the documentary record in photography, video and film. Was an artist-filmmaker who never gave up know the face of the world. Died on Saturday at age 62.
Artist for whom art should be more than art, taking a social and political responsibility, Allan Sekula died last Saturday, aged 62, a victim of cancer. Teacher, theorist, author, filmmaker and critic, left a complex and influential work in the field of photography and documentary film, always guided by a theoretical acutely not spared capitalism, globalization, and most recently, the world of art.
In the 1970s, it was noted in performance and installation, but it was in the 1980s when, alongside Martha Rosler and Fred Lonidier contributed to the reemergence of the photographic image in the context of the neo-avant-gardes, who signed his name in canon of contemporary art. Based on the models of photomontage and political documentary, Sekula distinguished himself by rejecting the alleged neutrality of conceptualism, stressing the importance of political and historical contingencies that determined that current practices.
On the other hand, expressed an interest in the regional cultures of the U.S. and recovering the legacy of the Film and Photo League (collective 1930s that used film and photography as instruments of social transformation) and draft the Farm Security Administration (which took part, among others, Walker Evans and Lange). But his intention was never to pursue the practice of documentary photography as if it were independent of appropriations or unrelated uses. And in his most famous essays, Dismantling Modernism, Reinventing Documentary (1984), states his skepticism: the pretense of photography in achieving any kind of political efficacy always bumps in the conventions of discourse and institutional frameworks. Read More.
The second edition of Radar L.A. -- an international theater festival that takes place mostly in downtown Los Angeles -- will feature 18 stage productions from companies around the world as well as some prominent local groups.
The full line-up for the Sept 24-Oct. 1 fest, which was announced Tuesday, will include theater organizations from Asia, Europe, New Zealand and Latin America. Radar first launched in 2011 as a way for local audiences to experience global theater companies alongside homegrown talent. The new edition of the biennial event is organized by REDCAT at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the California Institute of the Arts, in partnership with the Center Theatre Group.
This year's line-up features co-presentations that were previously announced by other groups -- including Complicite's production of "Shun-kin" with the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA; "Prometheus Unbound" at the Getty Villa; and Roger Guenveur Smith's show about Rodney King at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Read More.
Allan Sekula, artist and author of such indispensable texts as "The Body and the Archive," passed away over the weekend. While Sekula's primary medium was photography, his work had no small relevance to questions that surround art and technology, and is well worth revisiting in the wake of this sad news. Among his works that have been circulating on Tumblr over the past couple of days are his 1999 work Dear Bill Gates. The work involved a photographed action in which the artist swam as close as he could to the Microsoft founder's house.
Sekula described the work as follows:
Recently I wrote a letter to a man who embodies the new paradigm of the global archivist, the facilitator of the new virtual and disembodied family of man. He's no Steichen, since he refuses the role of the grand paternalistic editor, preferring in a more veiled manner to manage the global archive and retrieval system from which any number of pictorial statements might be constructed. In effect, he allows his clients to play in the privacy of their homes the role of mini-Steichen, perusing vast quantities of images from around the world, culling freely-but for a price-with meaning in mind. Read More.
In the 1980s, Jack Goldstein’s Photorealist paintings of lightning storms and other luminous phenomena made an indelible impression. Copied from found photographs and impeccably airbrushed by assistants, Goldstein’s images of spectacular, ephemeral events (usually against night skies) form the center of this compact yet fascinating survey. These untitled paintings—such as one dated 1983, featuring a stark horizon under green clouds being struck by knots of forked lightning at opposite ends of the canvas—were among the most provocatively beautiful of their time, a period when beauty itself was suspect as a tool of patriarchal repression. But, untouched by the artist’s hand, they seemed equally challenging as illustrations of the “death of the author,” philosopher Roland Barthes’s influential idea that literary texts were cultural constructs rather than transparent instantiations of a writer’s intention and biography.
As this may suggest, Goldstein was a charter member of the “Pictures Generation,” a group of artists interested in appropriating images from popular culture for deconstructive purposes. Like several of them, he studied at CalArts under John Baldessari. He made forays into Minimalist sculpture and performance art, but a series of short films from the mid-1970s led to his inclusion in curator Douglas Crimp’s defining Artists Space exhibition, “Pictures,” in 1977. Produced by hired Hollywood professionals, these works sometimes took other moving images as their starting points. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1975), for example, comprises a three-minute sequence of the MGM lion roaring over and over again in a stuttering loop, announcing a movie that never begins. Others stage slightly dopey, unassuming events and infuse them with pregnant hints of story lines. In The Knife (1975), an ordinary table utensil changes color and emotional tenor as, one by one, monochromatic lights play over its surface, starting with a suspenseful bloody red. Art like this, or the artist’s vinyl records composed from stock sound effects, appeared to take apart and examine the workings of movies and narrative structures in order to defuse their power. In The Jump, a 1978 film that opens the exhibition, glittering lights fill the isolated silhouette of a diver in motion (taken, it turns out, from Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi epic Olympia), not only creating an enigmatic fragment of transient, if faintly sinister, grace, but also pointing the way to Goldstein’s paintings. Read More.