Saturday, October 15, 2005

"If I proposed that we divide modern art into two camps, and that they were Irony and Passion, I'd put Picabia, Duchamp, Dada, the Surrealists, Op and Pop and the New York School and practically all the big groups into the Irony side.
On the Passion side I'd put the German Expressioinists, Picasso (Guernica et al), Francis Bacon, Pollock, DeKooning and the Abstract Expressionists, O'Keeffe - and can you think of any others?
Also, do you think this is a theory that has any merit?"
This question comes to me from my mother in law who is writing a short piece for a museum catalogue about Georgia O'Keeffe - about her placement in the history of modern art. I wrote back that her premis sounds ok to me up to the end of the 20th century when, as I see it, there's a return to "passion" and an interest in being authentic but when art is self reflexive or self-conscious there in is irony. So often we find Passion and Irony existing together. She is looking for names of artists who are both ironic and passionate. Any help filling out this short list is appreciated.
My Short List:

Marlene Dumas,
Janine Antoine, Tal R, Kippenburger, Neo Rausch, Raymond pettibon, Richard Prince

Irony Camp:
Jeff koons,
Bruce Nauman, Maurizio Cattelan, Damian Hirst, Jayson Rhodes

Passion Camp: Lucian freud, Kiki Smith

Passion camp: Louise Bourgeois, Yayoi Kusama, Alice Neel

Irony camp: Cindy Sherman, Ed Ruscha

Both: Georg Baselitz, Elizabeth Peyton
Both: Kara Walker, David Wojnarowic ( spelling?), Ashley Bickerton
both seems like the fun category
passion: jenny saville, anselm kiefer, susan rothenberg

irony: john currin, lisa yuskavage, rachel harrison, mike kelley

both: late philip guston (but maybe it's not ironic, just satirical, funny, aware of its place in history, not nec. self-reflexive...but complex), amy sillman, nicole e., david humphrey : ), luc tuymans

it's all up for debate, probably...seems like a fun conversation.

it seems like there would be work that avoids both categories...what about the minimalists - like sol lewitt and eva hesse -- where would they fit in, i wonder?
Thanks guys... I woke up thinking that if O'Keeffe was a current day artist she might be Richard Prince. I'm thinking of the car hoods, sleek, modern, iconic american imagery. I'll pass along the list to Mother in law see if it help her.
She also wrote this in her email

"some art historians use to marginalise O'Keeffe (who still makes many people uncomfortable.) Their claim is that, since she did not found a school, since you can't trace a movement that began in her work, she is without significant presence in the mainstream of modern art. This would be my reply - that she is part of an important current, but it's one that isn't identifiable through form or medium or concept. It's a different sort of current, one defined by intention, not form."

I don't totally get it, but has something to do with Irony and Passion, I never saw the irony in O'Keefe so will be interested in how she makes her case.
MM good point about the other catagory.
I got to mull over eva hesse, she's tricky.
I might lump Sol Lewitt in with the ironists, Doesn't he let his assistants pic mix the colors in his murals (he says "yellow" and it's up to them to interperate that) So indermining the presiousness of the artists decision making. Sounds like Irony Camp cunning.
MM I'd love to see Luc Tuymans studio. I think that would help me to determine if he was in the Both Camp or just in the Irony Camp. I've heard he hates painting, that would bar him from Passion Camp or Both Camp. I wonder if he's the master manipulator. I do love his work though.
I have thoughts about O'Keefe. Perhaps my take is too obvious, but I feel like there is an equanimity between negative and positive space and a logic of bodily swelling and wiggles that her forms follow. That could be traceable to biomorphic abstraction, or painting where figure/ground become equal. I don't want to sound too art-jargony...I think people are uncomfortable with her for obvious "feminine" readings of her forms. But this sensitivity to the body, to organs, to interiors (that she herself may not have wanted to acknowledge) can also be linked to Body Art and art that points to or incorporates Feminism, possibly.

She is an important artist for me...sorry to take up so much of your comments, Corny. I just love thinking about this stuff. Total art geek.

ps - I didn't know Luc Tuymans said he hates painting. Does that mean he hates to paint? Or he hates paintings? He could be the master manipulator, but I love his work too. Need to take a second look at his show. OK. I shut my piehole now.
Both: David Hockney, Gary Simmons

Passion: Marsden Hartley and Charles Demuth, Nan Goldin, Peter Hujar

Irony:any Pop artist

Wonder if Egon Schiele is a "both."
MM, I heard Tuymans hates painting, I figured that means he hates to paint and the paint itself, but maybe all painting. I'll look into this issue. He's stingy with paint, and will only work on a painting for one day, never more (thats what I've heard)... like he's impatient with it. Also, really ineresting linkage from biomorphic abstraction to body art.
Here is a clarification from the author of the O'keeffe question.

"I'm trying to define O'Keeffe's place in 20th century art, where she fits in relation to other artists.
It's easy to trace the influence of Picasso, in the work of the artists who followed him. It's much less easy to show O'Keeffe's influence.
I think this is partly due to the fact that she so powerfully inhabited the images she produced, and that she used a voice that was so deeply intimate and personal. It would be impossible for anyone, since her time, to paint any magnified objects against the sky, let alone flowers or skulls, without appearing slavishly derivative of O'Keeffe. This is not true of - oh, cubist nudes, for example, or still lifes, or stylised bulls, or all sorts of images that the cubists used and others have used since. But the images that O'Keeffe used became indelibly and irredeemably hers, and so are practically untouched by others.
I've been trying to clarify for myself what her contribution was. I think that it has more to do with delivering a kind of emotional intensity than it does with an intellectual consideration of the mechanics of art, and the nature of art, and all the self-referential ligature of Irony.

When Picasso was exploring the possibilities of Analytical Cubism, he was having a conversation with other artists about the nature of art. O'Keeffe was not having conversations with other artists in her work. She was not painting for other artists; she wasn't considering the nature of art, (though she was well aware of that series of philosophical queries); she was trying to express how it felt to be be alive.
So, in order to show where her place was in modern art, I had thought that, if you could divide contemporary artists (since the rise of abstraction), into the two camps of Irony and Passion, then you could identify the mainstream which would incorporate O'Keeffe.
At first glance, a magnified red poppy seems unrelated to a distorted figure of a screaming pope, or a tortured, distorted torso. But I think that both O'Keeffe and Bacon are intent on delivering a raw, unmediated emotional message - as was Picasso in Guernica, Lucian Freud in the portrait of his mother, Alice Neel in many of her portraits, and so forth.
So that's my intent - to see who else inhabits that aesthetic current of passion, and to ask if others find this a premise that serves a purpose."
ok i've never done this comment on a blog thing but your site always cracks me up whenever i visit. on the irony/passion conversation i have two words: kurt kren. doing both, with vim and vigor to boot.
As to passion/irony
Roni Horn
Oliver Herring
Luc Tuymans
be well, renn
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