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THE DAILY PIC: With all the talk today of outsider art, it’s worth revisiting the work of Jean Dubuffet, a bunch of whose pictures are now on view at Acquavella, a posh gallery on New York’s Upper East Side. This is his “Head Taken over by Fluids”, from 1951. Dubuffet was a pioneering fan of art by kids and the mentally ill, or by anyone whose creations seemed to happen for reasons beyond the art world. He was also a fan of old iron slag and every kind of mess and stain that he could recycle into art. “Head Taken over by Fluids” seems almost a cross between his two tendencies: He’s used mess to make a picture that looks insane. I’d say that whenever today’s art world looks to outsiderism, we’re acting like Dubuffet but barely admitting it – or ever admitting that he got there first. We like messy art, and don’t much mind where it comes from, or the real reasons that an outsider might have for making it. In the end, we act as though outsider art has been made to serve insider ends. Whereas Dubuffet, I think, was trying to stay inside by climbing out. (Courtesy Acquavella Galleries, © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris; photo by Kent Pell)
The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Sep 2, 2014

THE DAILY PIC: With all the talk today of outsider art, it’s worth revisiting the work of Jean Dubuffet, a bunch of whose pictures are now on view at Acquavella, a posh gallery on New York’s Upper East Side. This is his “Head Taken over by Fluids”, from 1951. Dubuffet was a pioneering fan of art by kids and the mentally ill, or by anyone whose creations seemed to happen for reasons beyond the art world. He was also a fan of old iron slag and every kind of mess and stain that he could recycle into art. “Head Taken over by Fluids” seems almost a cross between his two tendencies: He’s used mess to make a picture that looks insane. I’d say that whenever today’s art world looks to outsiderism, we’re acting like Dubuffet but barely admitting it – or ever admitting that he got there first. We like messy art, and don’t much mind where it comes from, or the real reasons that an outsider might have for making it. In the end, we act as though outsider art has been made to serve insider ends. Whereas Dubuffet, I think, was trying to stay inside by climbing out. (Courtesy Acquavella Galleries, © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris; photo by Kent Pell)

The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.


THE DAILY PIC: 
For week three of my Koons-O-Rama, here’s Jeff’s Hennessy, The Civilized Way to Lay Down the Law, made in 1986 and yet another gem in his Whitney retrospective. It’s a straight re-presentation of an eighties liquor ad, although printed on canvas to become fine art. It establishes Koons as one of our most perceptive painters of modern life, such as Baudelaire would have admired. Forget feeding that life through an artist’s eye; for this piece, Koons saw that the world was strange enough to be shown as-is.
The insane overkill of the ad’s semiotics is something to behold. The young, Barbie-nosed black woman is inviting her studious black husband to bed – why, he’s been working until quarter-past-two in the morning (as the clock’s hands tell us) while his little lady has awaited his favors  (note the dent in her pillow). Finally, throwing on (barely) her man’s classy Oxford-cloth shirt, she’s decided to get help from Hennessy. She’s come hunting for lion (note the statuette on his desk) and has no truck for law books (the fat old volumes and legal pad in front of him). Just because he got to college on that baseball scholarship of his (his prize ball sits on a shelf), that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to life except schooling. Sure, we’re still in an old apartment in Harlem (the radiator is old-style; above it, the window faces south, with careful cutouts of the Chrysler Building and Empire State placed in the far distance). But Hey, Baby, we can drink up, have sex and still end up in a condo downtown. This Hennessy sure is the World’s Most Civilized Spirit, ‘cause it can even civilize us.
It’s not so hard to spot the ad’s racial cliches once Koons has focused his art on them. What’s impressive is that he spotted them out in the world and realized they deserved art’s attention. So much for this artist as politics-free. (Collection of David and Monica Zwirner; © Jeff Koons)
The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Sep 1, 2014

THE DAILY PIC:

For week three of my Koons-O-Rama, here’s Jeff’s Hennessy, The Civilized Way to Lay Down the Law, made in 1986 and yet another gem in his Whitney retrospective. It’s a straight re-presentation of an eighties liquor ad, although printed on canvas to become fine art. It establishes Koons as one of our most perceptive painters of modern life, such as Baudelaire would have admired. Forget feeding that life through an artist’s eye; for this piece, Koons saw that the world was strange enough to be shown as-is.

The insane overkill of the ad’s semiotics is something to behold. The young, Barbie-nosed black woman is inviting her studious black husband to bed – why, he’s been working until quarter-past-two in the morning (as the clock’s hands tell us) while his little lady has awaited his favors  (note the dent in her pillow). Finally, throwing on (barely) her man’s classy Oxford-cloth shirt, she’s decided to get help from Hennessy. She’s come hunting for lion (note the statuette on his desk) and has no truck for law books (the fat old volumes and legal pad in front of him). Just because he got to college on that baseball scholarship of his (his prize ball sits on a shelf), that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to life except schooling. Sure, we’re still in an old apartment in Harlem (the radiator is old-style; above it, the window faces south, with careful cutouts of the Chrysler Building and Empire State placed in the far distance). But Hey, Baby, we can drink up, have sex and still end up in a condo downtown. This Hennessy sure is the World’s Most Civilized Spirit, ‘cause it can even civilize us.

It’s not so hard to spot the ad’s racial cliches once Koons has focused his art on them. What’s impressive is that he spotted them out in the world and realized they deserved art’s attention. So much for this artist as politics-free. (Collection of David and Monica Zwirner; © Jeff Koons)

The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.


THE DAILY PIC: This is Robert Rauschenberg’s “Apology”, from a group show called “Strategies of Non-Intention: John Cage and Artists He Collected”, at the Sandra Gering gallery in New York. Rauschenberg made this 1968 piece by cutting out newspaper pictures, wetting them with turpentine or lighter fluid, putting them face-down on paper and finally rubbing their backs with a pencil to transfer their images. Like the other works in the show, it counts as Cage-ian because the artist lets chance govern what ends up in the image: Since his sources were face-down when he rubbed them, Rauschenberg couldn’t control just how his final work would look. To me, however, the works rubbed markings look like the scan lines of early black-and-white TV; its random pile of imagery looks like the random flow of pictures that came rushing in from the boob tube. In our current obsession with the Web’s pictorial overflow, we forget that television, too, once felt as though it was drowning us in disconnected pictures.
The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive

Aug 29, 2014

THE DAILY PIC: This is Robert Rauschenberg’s “Apology”, from a group show called “Strategies of Non-Intention: John Cage and Artists He Collected”, at the Sandra Gering gallery in New York. Rauschenberg made this 1968 piece by cutting out newspaper pictures, wetting them with turpentine or lighter fluid, putting them face-down on paper and finally rubbing their backs with a pencil to transfer their images. Like the other works in the show, it counts as Cage-ian because the artist lets chance govern what ends up in the image: Since his sources were face-down when he rubbed them, Rauschenberg couldn’t control just how his final work would look. To me, however, the works rubbed markings look like the scan lines of early black-and-white TV; its random pile of imagery looks like the random flow of pictures that came rushing in from the boob tube. In our current obsession with the Web’s pictorial overflow, we forget that television, too, once felt as though it was drowning us in disconnected pictures.

The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive


MY DAILY PIC: Rachel Feinstein’s Folly is the latest project to occupy space in Madison Square Park in New York. It is a kind of homage to the pleasures of Old Master drawings, as though Feinstein had taken the fantastical imaginings that her predecessors might have put down on paper and turned them into real garden ornaments . I am reminded of Alessandro Magnasco and Salvator Rosa and Piranesi–but also a touch of Dr. Seuss.
Parks have often been designed around memories of landscapes from a past Golden Age, ranging from the garden of Eden to the gardens of England that Madison Square Park evokes. Feinstein’s objects similarly visit the past while remaining in the present: If you look at the backs of her follies, there’s structural steel that recalls sculptures by de Suvero and Stella. Looking at their fronts, you sense that it took the latest in computer design to realize their enlarged, 3D retrospection. (Photo by James Ewing)
The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive

Aug 28, 2014

MY DAILY PIC: Rachel Feinstein’s Folly is the latest project to occupy space in Madison Square Park in New York. It is a kind of homage to the pleasures of Old Master drawings, as though Feinstein had taken the fantastical imaginings that her predecessors might have put down on paper and turned them into real garden ornaments . I am reminded of Alessandro Magnasco and Salvator Rosa and Piranesi–but also a touch of Dr. Seuss.

Parks have often been designed around memories of landscapes from a past Golden Age, ranging from the garden of Eden to the gardens of England that Madison Square Park evokes. Feinstein’s objects similarly visit the past while remaining in the present: If you look at the backs of her follies, there’s structural steel that recalls sculptures by de Suvero and Stella. Looking at their fronts, you sense that it took the latest in computer design to realize their enlarged, 3D retrospection. (Photo by James Ewing)

The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive

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