HENNESSY YOUNGMAN, AKA CURATOR

THIS YA BOY, HENNESSY YOUNGMAN, AKA MR. AKA's, AKA THE PHARAOH HENNESSY, AKA HENROCK THE MONARCH AKA THE PEDAGOGIC PIMP

Critic, performer, painter, and lecturer,  Jayson Musson has made a splash on YouTube with his alter ego, Hennessy Youngman. In a series he calls ART THOUGHTZ, Youngman sits in an “alabaster alcove” and delivers laugh out loud funny art critical patter to his audience which he addresses as “Internet.”

The videos which pretend to dispense advice to novice artists and lay people, but which contain a meta-level of art (and art world) criticism, have launched him from relative obscurity to courted celebrity. Recently he has been much sought after for lectures and tours at universities and cultural centers.

So it should be no surprise that, having just begun, he is already “giving back.”

Invited by fine art photographer Marilyn Minter to show work at FAMILY BUSINESS (opened in February by Larry Gogosian, Maurizio Cattelan and Massimiliano Gioni) Youngman has turned curator, deciding to open the floodgates and let all of his fans rush on into the sacred white cube.

Any and all who bring work to 520 W. 21ST ST in Chelsea, NY will be in Hennessy’s  “IT’S A SMALL, SMALL WORLD”  show; no exceptions.

“IT’S MY WAY OF GIVING BACK TO/ AND THANKING THE INTERNET FOR SUPPORTING AND WATCHING MY SHIT.”

Drop Off Dates:
FRIDAY 3/30 – SUNDAY 4/1
10AM- 7PM
Artwork in every media will be accepted and Mr. Hennessy himself will be there to take them from you.

IT’S A SMALL, SMALL WORLD:
OPENING RECEPTION TUESDAY: 4/3 at 6PM.
CLOSING 4/16

High on the Richter Scale

Gerhardt at Work
A still from the movie, Gerhardt Richter Painting, by Corinna Belz, A Kino Lorber Release (Photo courtesy of Kino Lorber)

This year, as painter Gerhardt Richter turns 80, we will be treated to a film that allows us to watch the man at work, frustrating the canvas and his voyeurs. On March 14 Kino Lorber will release Corinna Belz’s Gerhardt Richter Painting to the public.

The Filmmaker, Corinna Belz

A student of philosophy, art history, and media sciences, Corinna Belz is no slouch when it comes to fluffing the brand with some very fine artspeak:

“It became clear to me that a film about a painter must focus on painting. It was the actual work in the artist’s studio that interested me most: the authentic and immediate process of putting paint to canvas, and the instruments, gestures, and movements involved, emotionally as well as physically.”

And Kino Lorber’s official GRP site is full of the hot winds of tribute and mysticism to come:

“From our fly-on-the-wall perspective, we watch the 79-year-old create a series of large-scale abstract canvasses, using fat brushes and a massive squeegee to apply (and then scrape off) layer after layer of brightly colored paint. This mesmerizing footage, of a highly charged process of creation and destruction, turns Belz’s portrait of an artist into a work of art itself.”

But despite the hagiographic PR, and the posty- post- postPOST  bandwagon which is sure to follow, I find this film on my absolutely-must-see list.

I’ve always loved Richter for his virtuosity. Before he was making vast gooey abstracts, he went through many techniques (some simultaneously developing), all of them deeply experimental and all of them well executed.

Google Gerhardt Richter to see a vast array of well executed visual experiments.

From his ghostly grey early photographic works, to his super real portraits, to his mixed media installations, and finally to his varied experiments with abstraction, he has shown a level of skill and imagination, and even wit, that is rare and, I must say, beautiful.

That said…

I wonder, though, at the recent glut of what I call ‘richterisms’ in the abstract art arena: are these new paintings that use dragging and blotting and other forms of paint distress simply about trying to find a way to ground abstract art in method again?

I hope not: because that can’t be done by implementing a bag of tricks. And, face it, composition, color, and texture aren’t conceptual any more so most abstract painting will just come off as decorative (and I mean that in the worst way).

Delish as these super frosted cakes can be, they often come off as clones and dramatic accidents.

Best of the Richterites: Jerry Saltz Macs on Jackie Saccoccio;s Lush Mica at the Eleven Rivington Booth at the Armory Show. The paintins is Portrait(Hermetic), 2012 oil and mica on linen. Photo courtesy of Jackie Saccoccio.
Best of the Richterites: Visiting Eleven Rivington's booth at the Armory Show, Jerry Saltz macs on Jackie Saccoccio's lush mica. Portrait(Hermetic), 2012 oil and mica on linen. This photo courtesy of Jackie Saccoccio.

But don’t take this as an out and out judgement on all paintings that use these techniques: some, like Jackie Saccoccio, have added their own virtuosity with luminouse clouds of color and more deliberate compostion.

Let me put it this way, any artists who are inspired by Richter should explore virtuosity: and that means, not simply mastering Richter’s techniques, but finding and mastering your own.

MoMA’s Big Ticket Fail: #Kraftwerk

On February 22nd, at noon, tickets to the MoMA’s Kraftwerk – Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 went on sale. By 4:00 PM desperate aficionados were posting sweaty pleas on Craigslist offering to pay as much as $200 per.

The MoMA ticket portal on ShowClix, currently says “Sorry— Kraftwerk events have sold out! We appreciate your patience and understanding. Thank you!” But fans, drowning the Twitterspshere in bile were not feeling very patient or understanding, and now Craigslist abounds in ticket offers for as much as $2,000 per!

One seller, offering tickets to the best offer, writes, “Best offer gets it. No weirdness please, just cash.”



So what happened?

MoMA had apparently entrusted the online ticket sales to ShowClix, a small start-up ticketing company in Pittsburgh, which failed to anticipate the overwhelming demand they’d face when tickets to the MoMA’s tiny 1,000 seat atrium went on sale.

The band has not played in the U.S. for 17 years and has a rabid following. What’s more eight evening concerts meant only 8,000 tickets would be sold: so, with a virtual avalanche of buyers from around the word logging on at once, the ShowClix servers experienced what CEO Joshua Dziabiak called  “frequent timeouts.”  The tickets were sold out right away but successful buyers were unaware since very few of them were shown a final “thank you” screen.

Joshua Dziabiak, ShowClix CEO, offered an apology to those who “spent hours in front of your computer watching a spinning wheel—or watching the page go blank.”

Just for Fun: Hitler Meme

CIVILIZATION and its DISCONTENTS

Civ

CIVILIZATION and its DISCONTENTS
OPENING RECEPTION:
DATE: Saturday, July 23rd
TIME: 6 – 9 PM

NARS GALLEY • 88 35th Street, 3rd Floor, Brooklyn NY 11232
Visit: http://www.narsfoundation.org/homepage.php

ARTISTS:
Steffi Homa
Nancy Drew
VanillaRoyal
Kikuko Tanaka
Olek

Civilization protects us, unifies our efforts, and broadens our perspectives. It provides protection as well as the comforts afforded by a shared history and the developments of science. And yet, as Freud pointed out in his seminal work, the price we pay to be a part of civilization is often more than our spirits can bear without resistance or resentment.

With dada, Pop art, appropriation, and minimalism, artists found ways to stand in the margins of society, and to make images that defied its restrictions while leveraging its iconography. Stepping out of the space cleared by these past genres, new artists are looking into even more extreme methods of breaking free, not only borrowing from the trappings of our civilized world, its symbols, memes and ceremonies, and advertisements, but also treating meaning itself as material for color, texture and mood.

These artists create a new aesthetic that works because it defies context in favor of pure form and free association.

The artists in this show will present works that are simultaneously loaded with insinuation and free of meaning. Breaking away from the constrictions that are entailed by “making sense,” this new art can make bold with the aesthetic joys that came to civilization at a great price. They come off, therefore, as audacious and rude, like children taunting the librarian.

Because they harken to familiarity without the price of full understanding, and they wink at cultural constructs that “look” like those that are usually loaded with meaning, they can play with “originality” and create “inspiration” seemingly by sheer hap.

Color can be arbitrary, or evocative without ties to any coherent plot or meaning. Rythyms and symbols, borrowed at random can be collaged together to produce a mood or a feeling of meaning that is all the more ecstatic for breaking free of the rules.

If you’ve ever worn a T-shirt from a place you’ve never been, or felt elated by a song the language of which you did not understand, or dared to display a button for its color without paying mind to what it says, then you get it.

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The Five Artists

Stephanie Homa: A young East german-born British artist working mostly with paint, Homa’s imagery and playful sense of humor are definitely on the cutting edge of micropop with its freewheeling use of borrowed and salvaged cultural symbols.

Says Steff of her own work:
“The playful spirit displayed in my work reflects the personal playground of a wild and sloppy mind where I set the rules. I reject restrictions and conventions so that my work drifts between evolving and dissolving its own concept and philosophy – resulting in an everchanging hologram of curiosity.”

Nancy Drew: A seasoned artist of note, Nancy Drew was represented by Roebling Hall in its heyday, and was included in Open House: Brooklyn Art Today at the Brooklyn Museum.

She has recently embarked on a series of paintings remarking on celebrity and time, and female iconography. Simultaneously, Drew is still continuing to playi with pornography, celebrating the theatrics, the beauty and the thrill of the genre. 

Growing up in an Ab Ex world, Drew takes advantage of a language of gesture and form that belongs to that male dominated genre, but she decorates her paintings with glitter and softens them with flocking, producing images that are at once bold and feminine.

VanillaRoyal: VanillaRoyal uses fetish and fantasy iconography, playing them off of each other in an attempt to jog the mind free of easy and habitual associations. The visual language in fetish and fantasy genres is built with motifs that are deceptively simple, while loaded with existential meaning. Both fetish and fantasy have a dominant iconography that is extreme and colorful, and that plays with polarities like good and evil, dominant and subordinate.

By manipulating the similarities and the tensions between these extremes, VanillaRoyal manages to create dreamlike scenarios that address sexuality vs. childhood, freedom vs. enslavement, joy vs. pain — giving the viewer a world of ice cream and chains. At once charming and threatening, these polarities conjure disturbing dialog.

Olek: Olek’s by now famous crochet art has become a meme of its own. Speaking as much to labor and to effort as to time and process, Olek’s objects, performances, and video are instantly and universally understood and empathized with.

Says Olek,  “With a miner’s work ethic, I long to delve deeper and deeper into my investigations. My art was a development that took me away from industrial, close-minded Silesia, Poland. It has always sought to bring color and life, energy, and surprise to the living space. My goal is to produce new work and share it with the public. I intend to take advantage of living in NYC with various neighborhoods and, with my actions, create a feedback to the economic and social reality in our community.

Kikuko Tanaka: An ambitious painter, sculptor and performance artist in the mold of Matthew Barney, Kikuko Tanaka’s work plays with psychological, socio-historic, and pop references (From Disney to Dostoyevsky!) using them to defy traditional story-telling and the tired and unquestioned values embedded therein.

Says Tanaka:  “I follow my whims and impulses. I also borrow some motifs from existing literature and artworks, both to express my empathy toward them and to take pleasure in deconstructing them within my context. Most of the time, I’m trying to make bad jokes through my work.”

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NARS (New York Art Residency & Studios Foundation) presents its first every Emerging Curator Project Show, with Civilization and its Discontents, a show by 2011 selected curator Cat Weaver.

Civilization and its Discontents: July 23 – August 28th
Gallery Hours:
Wednesday – Friday: 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Saturday – Sunday: by appointment between 12:00pm – 6:00pm
  Please call the NARS office to set up an appointment at 718-768-2765.

EVENT: Protest the Smithsonian’s Censorship

DATE:  Sunday, 12/19

TIME: At: 1:00 pm

Protest the Smithsonian’s Censorship

woj

A march to protest the Smithsonian’s Censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly from the National Portrait Gallery’s current Hide/Seek exhibit

Organized by Art Positive: artpositive.org

March begins at:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
From there it will proceed to:
The Cooper-Hewitt/Smithsonian at 91st Street.

More, More, and Still More Trouble for Beleaguered Smithsonian

The Grinch Who Stole A Fire in My Belly

Last Wednesday the Catholic League’s William Donohue told The Washington Post that, “You have to know when to step on the gas and when to step on the brake.” Ironically, he was speaking about his own turn to step on the brake, having given the gas already to his thrust to remove David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly from the National Portrait Gallery’s current Hide/Seek exhibit. But even as he spoke, activists, fellow artists, local galleries, The Andy Warhol Foundation, and Smithsonian curators were stepping on the gas.

Mr. Donohue was telling reporters that his work was done and he would not be attending a dialog at the New York Public Library that night, where Hide/Seek curators Johathan Katz and David C. Ward were scheduled to speak.

Katz and Ward, who have organized what the Post called “perhaps the highest-profile and most canonically scholarly exhibition of gay and lesbian art ever mounted in a major museum” were in danger of having months of careful work upstaged by the controversy surrounding the Wojnarowicz yoink. They gave a scholarly lecture, holding their grievances at bay until the question and answer period. Reluctant as they were to vilify the Smithsonian during a time when cultural institutions should be presenting a united front against what Katz calls “an American Taliban,” they did express disapproval of the hasty decision to edit Hide/Seek without even, as Ward puts it, “a fighting retreat.”

AA Bronson

Meantime, artist AA Bronson had asked that very day, that his portrait, Felix, be removed from the NPG as a protest: “To edit queer history in this way is hurtful and disrespectful,” he wrote in his letter to the National Gallery of Canada (current owners of the work). Though they respect Mr. Bronson’s decision, whether or not the gallery has the legal right to remove the work remains to be seen.

While the Smithsonian’s thumping continues apace, New York activists are preparing to mirror the last week’s protest marches in Washington, as they spread word of a march this Sunday that will proceed from The Metropolitan Museum of Art to The Cooper-Hewitt/Smithsonian at 91st Street.

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DATE:  Sunday, 12/19

TIME: At: 1:00 pm

Protest against the Smithsonian

A march to protest the Smithsonian’s Censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly from the National Portrait Gallery’s current Hide/Seek exhibit

Organized by Art Positive: artpositive.org

March begins at:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
From there it will proceed to The Cooper-Hewitt/Smithsonian at 91st Street.

++++++++++++++++++++++

Addendum: 12/17/2010

Via NewsGrist blog, This latest correspondance from artist, AA Bronson, to Martin Sullivan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery. Apparently Sullivan phoned Bronson to tell him that The National Gallery of Canada could not cancel the loan of Bronson’s work, Felix, due to the nature of their loan agreement. Mr Bronson responds below.

Date: December 17, 2010

To: Martin Sullivan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery

From: AA Bronson

Dear Martin Sullivan,

Thanks for telephoning me and I am writing to confirm our conversation.

You began by offering to bring me to Washington to see the exhibition, at the Museum’s expense.

You reported that the National Gallery of Canada was unable to cancel the loan because of the loan agreement, but that Marc Meyer, the Director, urged you to cooperate with me. (My understanding from Marc is that they CAN terminate the loan, but they would rather not do so on political grounds. Marc, maybe you can clarify).

You described my work “Felix, June 5, 1994” as one of three works given a major amount of space in the exhibition. It was because of that space that the museum was unable to give as much space to the videos in the exhibition as they really needed. You withdrew the David Wojnarowicz video because you felt it wasn’t being given “proper respect” because of the lack of space. I am not positive that I got this right, but I think you said that this was done BEFORE the Catholic League published a statement about the work, and you claim that a journalist goaded the politicians into making their statements. Please don’t take offense if I say that this all sounds exceedingly convenient. Not to say that it isn’t true but it is not convincing.

My proposal is that you reinstate the video, but in its complete form, as the artist intended (you were showing only a clip before, I understand, which already constitutes a prior censorship of the work).

If that means removing my work in order to make an appropriate space for the video, in its full form, I give my permission to do just that.

best regards
AA

Go Deep: Jeff Koons’ Made in Heaven at Luxembourg and Dayan

 

Jeff Koons, Ponies, 1991 Oil inks silkscreened on canvas228.6 x 152.4 cm (90 x 60 inches)
Jeff Koons, Ponies, 1991 Oil inks silkscreened on canvas 228.6 x 152.4 cm via Spreadart Culture

 

The thing about the Luxembourg and Dayan gallery is that it’s small. It’s small and the walls are close. And the thing about Jeff KoonsMade in Heaven series, is that the paintings are huge. They are huge and very intimate. The situation makes for an interesting immersive experience.

What grabs you, when you step into this exhibit, is how it lends new meaning to “in your face.”

As I distracted myself with the paint jet dithering, I tried to think about Fragonard. But Ilona’s pale spotted bum, really sat heavily on my I.Q. The people standing nearby carried on a did-you-know patter about the print process, and “eternal virgins” and the Violet Ice (Kama Sutra) glass piece —but honestly, on an intellectual level, it’s mostly “been there, done that” isn’t it?

What I mean to say is, since these works were unveiled at the 1990 Venice Biennale, we’ve had 20 years to talk it over. But I recall none of that here, back to back with strangers and surrounded by more crack than an alphabet dweller in the late 80s. I”m all eyes for the long nails — really? There? — and the bad shave: sorry, that looks raspy.

Now, believe me, I KNOW I’m being childish. I am quite clear on that by now. It’s all supposed to be about the talking points: you make sure to have your Ecstasy of St. Theresa and you discuss Fragonard and you wink at the old dutch with their personal cabinets of pretty portraits, and then you give Koons the big nod of history. That’s how you are supposed to do it.

But I can’t. I know what I’m going to say and it’s not about art history.

Um: I like Ponies.

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