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CAA News Today

News from the Art and Academic Worlds

posted by December 12, 2018

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Charlotte Prodger, Turner Prize 2018 Winner at Tate Britain © Tate Photography, Jordan Anderson, via The Art Newspaper

‘I Wouldn’t Be Here Were It Not for Public Funding’: Turner Prize-Winner Charlotte Prodger Makes Case for State Support for the Arts

The Glasgow-based artist won the top British art prize for videos that meld Scottish landscapes and queer identity. (The Art Newspaper)

New Gallery Will Be First in a Smithsonian Museum to Focus on US Latino Experience

The Smithsonian will open its first permanent gallery space for Latinx culture in 2021. (Washington Post)

How to Be an Artist

Jerry Saltz offers his 33 rules to take you from “clueless amateur to generational talent (or at least help you live life a little more creatively).” (New York Magazine)

Sculptor Anish Kapoor Forces Gun Group NRA to Cut His Art from Video

The artist filed a copyright infringement lawsuit over the use of his Cloud Gate artwork. (BBC)

What College Presidents Are Paid

Explore executive compensation data for more than 600 private colleges and nearly 250 public universities. (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Filed under: CAA News

Notice of CAA 107th Annual Business Meeting

posted by December 10, 2018

College Art Association
Notice of 107th Annual Business Meeting
New York, New York
Wednesday, February 13 and Friday, February 15, 2019

The 107th Annual Business Meeting of the members of the College Art Association will be called to order at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, February 13th, during Convocation at the 2019 Annual Conference, in the Grand Ballroom Foyer, 3rd Floor, New York Hilton Midtown Hotel, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.

CAA President, Jim Hopfensperger, will preside. The Annual Business Meeting will be held in two parts.

AGENDA

The Agenda for the first part of the Annual Business Meeting is as follows:

I. Welcome – Hunter O’Hanian, CAA Executive Director and CEO
II. Presentation by Jim Hopfensperger, CAA President
III. Executive Director’s Report – Hunter O’Hanian
IV. Presentation of CAA Awards for Distinction
V. 2019 Professional Development Fellowships in Visual Arts and Art History
VI. Keynote Address – Joyce Scott

After the Keynote Address, the Meeting will be recessed and will re-convene on Friday, February 15, 2019 from 2:00 – 3:30 PM in the Hudson Suite at the New York Hilton. The Agenda for the second part of the Annual Business Meeting is as follows:

VII. Approval of Minutes of 106th Annual Business Meeting, February 23, and 25, 2018 – see http://www.collegeart.org/news/2018/12/10/caa-106th-annual-business-meeting-minutes/
VIII. Financial Report: Teresa Lopez, CAA Chief Financial Officer
IX. Old Business
X. New Business

  • Results of Election of New Directors: Jim Hopfensperger
  • Amendments to the By-laws: Jim Hopfensperger

The proposed changes, set out in red on the attached version of the By-Laws, are a result of the work of two Governance Task Forces (2015-2018) that examined CAA’s governance structure to make the Association more responsive to the needs of its members and the changing demographics in the field. The Board of Directors submits these changes to the membership with the recommendation that they approve them. Members may vote on-line or at the Annual Business Meeting.

XI. Open discussion with members, Board and staff

Proxies

If you are unable to attend the Annual Business Meeting, please complete a proxy online to appoint the individuals named thereon to (i) vote, as directed by you, for directors, and, at their discretion, on such other matters as may properly come before the Annual Business Meeting; and (ii) to vote in any and all adjournments thereof.  CAA Members will be notified when the proxy for casting votes becomes available online in early January 2019. A proxy, with your vote for directors, must be received no later than 6:00 PM EST, Thursday, February 14, 2019.

Next Meeting – 2020
The 108th Annual Business Meeting of the College Art Association will be held in Chicago in 2020, and again will be divided into two parts – one at Convocation on Wednesday, February 12, and a second meeting and open discussion on Friday, February 14, 2020.

Filed under: Board of Directors, Governance

CAA 106th Annual Business Meeting Minutes

posted by December 10, 2018

MINUTES of
College Art Association 106th Annual Business Meeting

Part One – Room 502 A + B
Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, February 21, 2018: Convocation, 6:00 PM 
and
 Part Two – Room 403B, Los Angeles Convention Center,
Friday, February 23, 2018:  myCAA, 2:00 – 3:30 PM

Part One

CAA’s President, Suzanne Preston Blier, welcomed attendees to CAA’s Convocation and to the Association’s 106th Annual Business Meeting. The Annual Business Meeting will be held in two parts.

The Convocation proceeded with President Blier’s opening comments followed by the Annual Awards for Distinction ceremony. The Keynote Address was given by Charles Gaines of Cal Art, School of Art.

Part Two

I. Call to Order
President Suzanne Blier called to order Part Two of the Annual Business Meeting. With 400+ proxies, there was a quorum for reconvening the Annual Business Meeting.

II. President Blier called for approval of the minutes from the 2017 Annual Business Meeting. The approval of the minutes of the 2017 Annual Business Meeting was moved and second.  The minutes were approved.

III. President Blier called on Teresa Lopez, CAA’s Chief Financial Officer, to give the financial report for fiscal year 2017.

Ms. Lopez noted that the Association ended fiscal year 2017 with a deficit of $176,152. The CAA staff, with Board participation, was developing a budget to eliminate deficits in future years. Reducing the full-time staff from 27 to 22 employees would assist in reducing deficits in future years.

As of June 30, 2017, the Association had 8,712 individual members and 1,229 institutional members (including 718 subscribers handled via Taylor & Francis), for a total of 9,941 members.

Lopez reported that the fair market value of CAA’s investment portfolio increased from $9,398,571 on July 1, 2016 to $9,838,150 on June 30, 2017.

Copies of the audited financial statement for FY 2017 were made available as handouts and a pdf was posted on CAA’s website.

IV. President Blier called for old business. There was none.

V. President Blier called for new business. There was none.

VI. Results of Board Election: President Blier announced the results of the election to the Board of Directors. The following were elected as directors:

Laura Anderson Barbata
Audrey Bennett
Dahlia Elsayed
Alice Ming Wai Jim.

President Blier congratulated all the candidates and thanked them for their willingness to serve CAA.

VII. President Blier and CAA Executive Director Hunter O’Hanian opened the discussion to all attendees.  There was no discussion.

VIII. The meeting was adjourned.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Melissa Potter, Secretary

 

November 15, 2018

 

Next CAA Annual Business Meeting in 2019

The 107th Annual Meeting of the College Art Association will take place during Convocation on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at 6:00 PM and on Friday, February 15, 2019 from 2:00 – 3:30 PM at the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel, in New York City.

Filed under: Board of Directors, Governance

Denise Burge, Lisa Siders, and Jenny Ustick

posted by December 10, 2018

The weekly CAA Conversations Podcast continues the vibrant discussions initiated at our Annual Conference. Listen in each week as educators explore arts and pedagogy, tackling everything from the day-to-day grind to the big, universal questions of the field.

CAA podcasts are now on iTunes. Click here to subscribe.

This week, Denise Burge, Lisa Siders, and Jenny Ustick discuss interdisciplinary collaboration.

Denise Burge is an instructor of Drawing and Animation at the University of Cincinnati.

Lisa Siders is a fiber and installation artist living on Whidbey Island, Washington.

Jenny Ustick is the Interim Director of the Masters of Fine Arts Program, Foundations Coordinator, and Instructor of Drawing at the University of Cincinnati.

Filed under: CAA Conversations

New in caa.reviews

posted by December 07, 2018

    

Mark Duerksen reviews Architecture and Politics in Nigeria: The Study of a Late Twentieth-Century Enlightenment-Inspired Modernism at Abuja, 1900–2016 by Nnamdi Elleh. Read the full review at caa.reviews.

Holly Shaffer writes about Worldly Affiliations: Artistic Practice, National Identity, and Modernism in India, 1930–1990 by Sonal Khullar. Read the full review at caa.reviews.

Kristoffer Neville discusses The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy by Naoko Takahatake. Read the full review at caa.reviews

Filed under: caa.reviews

Lillian Lan-ying Tseng

Milette Gaifman

We’re pleased to announce the appointment of Lillian Lan-ying Tseng and Milette Gaifman as the new coeditors of The Art Bulletin. The appointment marks the first joint editorship in the 105-year history of the journal. The Art Bulletin is the flagship journal of art history, covering prehistoric to 21st-century art. Previous editors of The Art Bulletin have included H. W. Janson, George Kubler, Millard Meiss, and John Shapley, among many others. The Art Bulletin editorship rotates every three years.

“CAA believes in interdisciplinary practice and collaboration in all programs and publications. The Art Bulletin’s rich and long history as the journal of record for the art history field will only benefit from this new coeditor approach,” said Hunter O’Hanian, executive director of CAA. “Professors Tseng and Gaifman are highly respected in the field and will bring to the journal diverse experiences and expertise that will be reflected in The Art Bulletin over the years of their editorship.”

Lillian Lan-ying Tseng is associate professor of East Asian art and archaeology at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University and specializes in Chinese art and archaeology. The mediums she investigates are diverse, including city planning, architecture, sculpture, painting, calligraphy, textile, and bronze objects. The timeframes of her publications cluster in early imperial China, later imperial China, and the twentieth century. The issues she explores concern not only art objects but also broader contexts in which they are situated, such as how artisans appropriated scientific knowledge for religious purposes, how memory facilitated the creation, circulation, and reception of artifacts, and how political intentions or situations stimulated the development of visual and material cultures. She is the author of Picturing Heaven in Early China (Harvard University Press, 2011). She is currently at work on two book projects: one looks into the reception of antiquity and its impact on visual production in 18th-century China, while the other examines frontiers and visual imaginations in Han China.

“Art and visual culture are central elements in the study of ancient civilizations, as they are of all periods of history,” said Alexander Jones, Leon Levy Director and Professor of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU. “The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World is proud and delighted on the occasion of Lillian Tseng’s appointment as coeditor of The Art Bulletin.”

Milette Gaifman is associate professor of classics and history of art at Yale University. She is a scholar of ancient art and archaeology, focusing primarily on Greek art of the Archaic and Classical periods. At Yale, she is jointly appointed in the departments of Classics and History of Art. Her research interests include the interaction between visual culture and religion, the variety of forms in the arts of antiquity, the interactive traits of various artistic media, and the reception of Greek art in later periods. In addition, her scholarship explores the historiography of the academic disciplines of art history and archaeology. She is the author of Aniconism in Greek Antiquity (Oxford University Press, 2012), and The Art of Libation in Classical Athens (Yale University Press, 2018); and coeditor of “Exploring Aniconism,” a thematic issue of Religion (2017), and “The Embodied Object in Classical Art,” a special issue of Art History (June 2018).

“It is a significant honor for Yale and for the field of Classical Greek Art that Milette Gaifman has been appointed co-editor of The Art Bulletin. Successor in this role to such hallowed Yale luminaries as Creighton Gilbert and Walter Cahn, Milette will bring the same dynamism and intellectual energy to the position that can be seen in her publications and her hugely successful teaching in our Department,” said Timothy Barringer, Chair and Paul Mellon Professor in the Department of the History of Art at Yale University. “Author of two path-breaking books, Milette is a scholar of wide-ranging tastes and interests, who insists on methodological rigor but also enjoys crossing scholarly borders and dismantling the shibboleths of orthodox thinking. Working with our respected former colleague, Lillian Tseng, she will doubtless bring a new, iconoclastic and perhaps occasionally irreverent spirit to an august journal.”

The following article was written in response to a call for submissions by CAA’s International Committee. It is by Leonard Bell, professor of art history, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Exhibition and catalogue review: Gordon Walters: New Vision, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 11 November 2017- 8 April 2018, and Auckland Art Gallery, 7 July – 4 November 2018.

Marti Friedlander, Portrait of Gordon Walters in His Studio, 1978, Marti Friedlander Archive, EH McCormick Research Library, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Courtesy Gerrard and Marti Friedlander Charitable Trust.

The much-lauded work of Gordon Walters (1919-1995), one of New Zealand’s first geometric abstract painters, has also generated controversy. A retrospective show traveled the country in 1983, but the present exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of Walters’s complete oeuvre from the late 1930s until his last painting in 1995. A wonderful show, curated by Lucy Hammonds, Laurence Simmons, and Julia Waite, it clearly establishes Walters’s greatness as a painter. Walters’s art was informed and sustained by an extensive knowledge and sophisticated understanding of Euro-American—Piet Mondrian (principally), Sophie Tauber-Arp, Joseph Albers, Auguste Herbin and John McLaughlin, for instance—and Oceanic art, in particular the koru motif of Maori kowhaiwhai (painting, on rafters and paddles, for example) and moko (tattoo). Add to those his early, unusual-in-New Zealand interest in Surrealism and the idiosyncratic sketches of a mentally ill man, Rolf Hattaway. Walters learned about these from a close friend, émigré Dutch artist Theo Schoon, an ardent advocate of Bauhaus practices and Maori visual arts, especially “primitive” rock art.

The resultant body of work constitutes an imaginative and distinctive interweaving of elements from diverse societies and cultures. Formally and technically rigorous, visually refined, conceptually deep, Walters’s paintings are both still and tense. While pulling in different directions, his best known work, the so-called koru paintings, somehow betoken their place, a cluster of islands in the southwest Pacific. Their imprint extends far beyond the art world, to the New Zealand Film Commission’s logo, for instance. Yet, to present Walters’s art only in terms of these koru paintings would skew the overall picture and leave it incomplete. The exhibition rightly gives as much attention to his many other different paintings.

Sydney Parkinson, painted Maori paddle, 1769, Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Cambridge, UK.

Since Walters’s breakthrough shows at Auckland’s New Vision Gallery in 1966 and 1968 (his first since an early exhibition in 1949), writings about his art have proliferated. His abstractions attracted the keen attention not only of New Zealand art historians, critics, and philosophers, but also the eminent British critic Robert Melville (Architectural Review, 1968), who regarded Walters’s paintings as the best he encountered in New Zealand, polymathic Ernst Gombrich (The Sense of Order, 1979), as well as Australian art historians Rex Butler and A. D. S. Donaldson, and American Thomas Crow (in the present catalogue). The handsome publication reproduces a rich feast of Walters’s works. Nine writers produced eight essays exploring various aspects of Walters’s art and career. Several essays (notably by Peter Brunt and the Australians) offer new details and connections between Walters and other artists.

The trajectory of his career, his primary inspirational sources, his paintings’s formal qualities and conceptual substance, though, have already been intensively excavated, especially by Michael Dunn in the 1970s and 1980s, and Francis Pound from the mid-1980s until his death in 2017.

Gordon Walters, Untitled, 1989, Collection James Wallace Arts Trust, gift of the Rutherford Trust.

In an exhibition review in Art News New Zealand (Summer, 2017), David Eggleton observed, “Curiously, Pound is an absent if also an insistent presence in the catalogue of the show. Although not included as a contributor, many of the ideas and notions first proposed by him appear in the text, subsumed into the writings of others.” And a festschrift in 1989 to mark his 70th birthday, Gordon Walters: Order and Intuition, edited by James Ross and Laurence Simmons, had ten scholarly essays, including (disclosure) my “Walters and Maori Art: the nature of the relationship?”

Transformation of his inspirational sources characterizes Walters’s art. His first investigations of the Maori koru motif, small studies in ink and gouache, appeared in the mid-1950s. They were close to the source; the motif’s organic quality was semi-retained.

In the mid-1960s Walters geometricized the form. Except for circular shapes terminating the crisply delineated bars, curves were straightened out. The reshaped element provided a means, in league with Mondrian et al, for studies in formal relationships using a “deliberately limited range of forms” (Walters, 1966).

These were not intended to draw on the Maori motif’s symbolic values, though Walters’s use of Maori terms for many titles was an acknowledgement of the inspirational importance of Maori art as he had experienced it.

From the mid-1980s, most forcefully in the 1990s, possibly triggered by critiques leveled at the Museum of Modern Art’s 1984-1985 exhibition, Primitivism: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, Walters was accused of exploitative appropriation of Maori art by several critics, both Maori and Pakeha (European New Zealander).

Gordon Walters, Gouache, 1957-8, Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena.

Others, including Maori and Pakeha artists, also defended Walters. The catalogue touches on this sometimes acrimonious argument, though the exhibition’s wall texts and captions bypass it. Deidre Brown’s catalogue essay, “Pitau, Primitivism and Provocation: Gordon Walters’ Appropriation of Maori Iconography,” steers a near-neutral path between the antagonists, culminating with the claim that they moved onto other concerns: “the appropriation debate faded away from academic art history.” Several reviewers, though, questioned whether the contentious issue was satisfactorily addressed by the show.

Most of Walters’s detractors and advocates assumed a straightforward relationship between his work and Maori art: cause = koru motif and effect = the forms in Walters’s koru paintings. The detractors appeared to subscribe to a Manichean structure of polarities in which modernist borrowings are, ipso facto, “bad.” In this system a single component in the works becomes the only or dominant one. If the same paintings are seen within wider cultural and historical contexts, though, an interplay of multiple elements and global connections, in which no single one is dominant, becomes manifest. A complex of factors also mediates how Walters’s koru paintings have functioned. Depending on the kinds of knowledge and cultural baggage individual viewers bring to the encounter, they are clearly perceived very differently. Indeed, one could well wonder whether viewers with opposing perspectives are talking about the same pictures. The diverse opinions resist resolution; the conflicting perspectives are incommensurable. Just as creationists are unlikely to accept a logical refutation of the existence of “God,” so Walters’s critics are not likely to see his art in any other way than their own.

Gordon Walters, Painting No. 1, 1965, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Purchase 1965.

Take another slant. In 1910 the New Zealand Herald reported a “curious discovery” by Mme Boeufvre, wife of New Zealand’s French consul. Seeing the Book of Kells (c. 800 CE) in Dublin, she “was much struck by the similarity of Celtic ornaments to Maori conventional designs…how very closely the Maori patterns resembled those of the ancient artists of Ireland.” Since the nineteenth century parallels were frequently drawn between curvilinearities in Maori artifacts and those in the art and ornament of other societies, including such varied cultures and aesthetics as Egyptian, Greek, South East Asian, Victorian, and Art Nouveau, in addition to Celtic. For instance, renowned Austrian art historian Alois Riegl (‘Neuseelandische Ornamentik’, 1891, and Stilfragen, 1896) matched Maori and Egyptian spiraling forms. He noted that they could not possibly have had the same origin. Like many other forms, that of the swastika, for example, the form of the Maori koru motif is found all over the world. There is no singular point of invention.

Universal and local collide in Walters’s painting. Was Walters indigenizing the modern or modernizing the indigenous—or both, or neither? Can we look through several lenses simultaneously? Compelling art certainly can emerge from socio-cultural dissonance—Walters’s paintings continue to energize the spaces they inhabit. They have a contemporary urgency, informing the work of contemporary artists of both Pakeha and Maori descent, such as Darren George and Chris Heaphy. (The latter worked with Walters in his last years.) For others tension between Maori and Euro-American aesthetics and practices remains. Walters’s painterly synthesis of Maori, Oceanic, European, and American elements and ideas was virtually unique among Pakeha artists in his time. He trod a solitary path. In retrospect, though, his oeuvre constitutes a crucial watershed, in which the possibilities of bicultural coexistence of things Maori and Pakeha were explored, celebrated and contested.

Gordon Walters, Untitled, 1972, Dunedin Public Art Gallery Loan Collection, Courtesy of the Gordon Walters Estate.

Filed under: International

Meet the 2018 CAA Campus Ambassadors

posted by December 05, 2018

Launched this fall, the CAA Ambassador Program is now in full swing. CAA Ambassadors are representing the organization in New York and Chicago and giving presentations to their fellow classmates and students in nearby schools. Meet the inaugural class of ambassadors below.

Interested in becoming a future CAA Ambassador? Learn more here.

Rikki Byrd

Rikki Byrd is a writer, educator and scholar, with research interests in Black studies, visual culture, fashion history and cultural studies. Her research has appeared at Art Basel: Miami and has been published or is forthcoming in various academic journals and books. She has also written for Teen Vogue, Art.sy, and Hyperallergic, among several other media outlets. She has lectured and participated in panel discussions with Google and The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Parsons School of Design, Junior High! in Los Angeles and Saint Louis Art Museum. Most recently, Rikki was a faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the African and African American Studies department. She is currently a PhD student in African American Studies at Northwestern University. 

J. English Cook

J. English Cook is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, where she specializes in intersections between architecture, cinema, and urban theory. Her dissertation examines the impact of cinema on the postwar spread of phenomenology, particularly as expressed in architects’ re-articulation of notions of spatial experience. She previously received an MA with distinction from the Institute of Fine Arts and a BA with highest honors from Williams College. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, she is currently the Graduate Curatorial Assistant at the Grey Art Gallery, NYU, and has worked as a Curatorial Assistant in Modern and Contemporary Art at the High Museum, Atlanta, and as the Commissioner’s Assistant for the US Pavilion at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale. She has produced performances at Momentum Worldwide, a time-based media gallery in Berlin, and has interned in curatorial departments at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Williams College Museum of Art.

Rebecca Pollack

Rebecca Pollack is a doctoral candidate in art history at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her dissertation “Contextualizing British Holocaust Memorials and Museums: Form, Content, Politics,” examines the publicly funded Holocaust commemorative projects in Britain. She currently holds fellowships from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Jewish Studies Center at the CUNY Graduate Center, and the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art.  

Mia Rubin

Mia Rubin is a recent Parsons School of Design graduate. Mia is the Events and Conference Programming Intern at CAA and one of CAA’s newest ambassadors. She will assist with planning the Annual Conference. Mia will help organize pre-conference workshops, key conversation panels, events for students, and museum tours. She will research and help develop workshops and programs throughout the year.  

Urooj Shakeel

Urooj Shakeel is a graduate student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Master of Arts in Arts Administration & Policy program. She is also the Leadership Investment and Communications Field Fellow at The Field Foundation of Illinois. Currently, Urooj is working on her thesis project and is designing a library exchange box in the shape of a Pakistani truck that is painted in the traditional art form known as Truck Art. This project examines activating public space for educative functions on Chicago’s Devon Avenue for preadolescents. As a leader, Urooj also serves on the SAIC Graduate Advisory Panel, working closely with the Graduate Dean’s Office to bring attention to graduate student interests through information sharing and problem solving. She earned her BS in Marketing and BA in Art History from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

News from the Art and Academic Worlds

posted by December 05, 2018

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Betty Tompkins, Apologia (Artemisia Gentileschi #3), 2018. Courtesy of Betty Tompkins and P.P.O.W, New York, via Artsy

A Whitney Museum Vice Chairman Owns a Manufacturer Supplying Tear Gas at the Border

“I figured Safariland officials probably had connections elsewhere.” (Hyperallergic)

Protesters Rally Against UNC Chapel Hill’s Decision to Reinstate Confederate Statue

Protesters at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill rallied against the university board’s decision to reinstate Silent Sam, the Confederate monument that was toppled in August. (Artforum)

Betty Tompkins Gives Art History a #MeToo Overhaul

How to dismantle art history, literally and figuratively. (Artsy)

Ambitious VR Experience Restores 7,000 Roman Buildings, Monuments to Their Former Glory

A team of 50 academics and computer experts built the environment over a 22-year period. (Smithsonian Magazine)

Graduate School Can Have Terrible Effects on People’s Mental Health

Graduate students cite the combination of financial and professional pressures as a significant challenge. (The Atlantic)

Filed under: CAA News

CWA Picks for December 2018

posted by December 04, 2018

Installation view of Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930-1990, on view at the Museum of Sex through March 4, 2019.

CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship to share with CAA members on a monthly basis. See the picks for December below.

CONTRIBUTION TO LIGHT: THE EARLY WORKS OF BARBARA HAMMER

September 13, 2018 – January 31, 2019
Kow Madrid

Barbara Hammer needs no introduction. One of the first filmmakers to openly address and document lesbian sexuality, Hammer is both a feminist pioneer of queer cinema and an influential force  of avant-garde and experimental filmmaking. She is also dying.

In a recent talk at the Whitney Museum (The Art of Dying or [Palliative Art Making in the Age of Anxiety]) she frankly, movingly, and inspiringly spoke of death and (her) art, living with cancer and one’s right to die “when she wishes,” advocating terminally ill patients’ right to decide how and when to die. Concentrating instead on works that precede the specter of death in her work, Contribution to Light focuses only on very early films, photographs, and works on paper, including some previously unknown. It seeks to explore the role physical perception of space and relationships play in Hammer’s first steps as an artist, marking the signature combination of physical presence, painterly quality, and sensual expressionism that characterizes much of her work both on celluloid and paper. “Her camera gaze seems to literally touch the environment, inseparable from her body and its experiences, while her paint brush and her pencil are unafraid to discern the surface of the paper as a field of action and mental and formal discovery,” as put in the press release. Touch has been indeed central in Hammer’s vision, and she eloquently speaks about it during the aforementioned talk. While this show in Madrid is only a small homage to Hammer’s beginnings, her illness and own commitment to prepare for the aftermath of her death has already precipitated a wave of much-needed study, preservation, and celebration of her work in the US. A major retrospective will open next summer at the Wexner Center for the Arts. But will she be alive, or conscious to see it? Wishing so, this CWA selection symbolically reciprocates her loving goodbye while she is still in life.

Tomie Ohtake: At Her Fingertips

November 1 – December 22, 2018
Nara Roesler Gallery, New York

This concise exhibition focuses on Tomie Ohtake’s preparatory collages, drawings, and engravings from the 1960s and 1970s and proposes a new dimension to the Japanese-Brazilian artist’s expansive, six-decade career and legacy. Curated by Paulo Miyada, chief curator of the Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, At Her Fingertips places Ohtake’s “studies” in direct relationship to a few select paintings, arguing for a dynamic reciprocity between media and offering further insight into the eminent artist’s approach to abstract gesturalism, geometry, and spirituality. These small, colorful collages—torn and ripped somewhat haphazardly—are hung directly from the ceiling in double-sided glass frames, highlighting the graphic and material nature of paper cutouts and promoting the dialectics of chance and control underlying Zen Buddhism and Japanese calligraphy. This tidy show further informs the interwoven dialogues on abstraction offered in postwar Brazil from which Ohtake readily drew upon, including those by the Seibi group’s second generation, including Manabu Mabe and Flávio-Shiró, and the Concrete principles of design and color theory by Wyllis de Castro and Hércules Barsotti, for example. In all, this exhibition continues the important historical work on Ohtake, and delivers a morsel of her brilliant career to a new audience in New York.

LINDA VALLEJO: AMERICAN Latinx

September 4 – December 14, 2018
Kean University Karl and Helen Burger Gallery, Union, New Jersey

Linda Vallejo provokes both directly and subtly poignant questions through her “Make ‘Em All Mexican” (MEAM) series of historical figures and contemporary pop personalities painted brown; and extended series, “The Brown Dot Project” of transformations of Latino populations and workforce data into engaging visual representations using brown dots. MEAM sculptures, handmade books and manipulated aluminum sublimation prints began in 2011 when the artist worked out her own query, “I’m a person of the world. What would the world of contemporary images look like from my own personal Mexican-American, Chicano lens?” From the Three Stooges to Jennifer Lawrence to the Statue of Liberty, these iconic works in brown and titled in Spanish, presented in striking fashion, challenge audiences, “Does color and class define our understanding and appreciation of our culture?” “The Brown Dot” series are dotted objects and abstract images on graphed pages with statistics built into the pointillated designs, stats as the titles, such as National Latino Authors and Writers 5.6% dotted to create a typewriter; or National Latino Architects 7.2% into a VW Beetle. The series has traveled in solo and group exhibitions for a few years now, but its relevancy endures.

ANNE BRIGMAN: A VISIONARY IN MODERN PHOTOGRAPHY

September 29, 2018 – January 27, 2019
Nevada Museum of Art, Reno

Not enough can be said about the innovative, ethereal and intimate photography of Anne Brigman, though this exhibition, the largest ever undertaken including over 300 works spanning her career, attempts to honor her amazing radical oeuvre. Objectifying her own nude body outside in near desolate wilderness was absolutely revolutionary at the turn of the twentieth century, moreover her well-known landscape photography, poetry and art criticism maintained for her a significant career. Her sinuous figure aligns naturally with the lines of the trees and landscapes of Sierra Nevada. Her powerful poses wreak vulnerability and strength, echoing Francesca Woodman decades after her, but with an inner confidence and strength. Brigman redefined the space through her work as did Judy Chicago, Brigman a feminist artist before the notion.

Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930-1990

September 28, 2018 – March 4, 2019
Museum of Sex, New York

With an unapologetic dose of theatricality appropriate for its subject, this small but comprehensive survey curated by Lissa Rivera offers a delectable opportunity to discover, re-evaluate and celebrate the art and life of Leonor Fini as well as the rebellious inextricability of both.

Born in Buenos Aires, but raised in Trieste—only by her mother upon her separation of her abusive father whom she escaped by often dressing like a boy—Fini begun to paint at the age of thirteen and by the time she moved to Paris in 1931 had already established herself “as an artist to watch.” While best remembered today as a Surrealist due to her early style, affiliations and her participation in the seminal 1936 MoMA show, Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism, and her illustrations of Marquis de Sade Juliette, Fini refused membership in any of the contemporary avant-garde movements and pursued a fiercely independent course in life and art, marked by her eccentric disguises, life-long partnership with two men, and a radical exploration of desire, sexuality, and performativity that cuts across all the media she worked as painter, idiosyncratic draughtsman, and prolific theater designer. Spanning two floors and six decades of work, the exhibition brings together fascinating examples of the changing style of this largely self-taught artist’s painting (presided over by her 1940s androgynous male nudes guarded by female lovers), erotic drawings, book illustrations, and samples her work in theater and design, contextualizing her production and theatrically fleshing out her performative person with photographic and filmic documentation,  signature outfits, a projected assortment of select quotes by the artist, and music.

While arrayed along chronological lines, the exhibits are curated in eloquent and eloquently analyzed groupings that capture Fini’s feminism both as an advocate of the feminine and female desire as well as an explorer of a radically boundlessness  sexuality. “Subverting the Muse,” “Empowering the Feminine,” “Metamorphosis and Sexual Sorcery,” “Intellectual Explorations of Sexuality,” and “The Corporeal” are a few of such groupings’ titles that speak volumes of both the timeliness of Fini’s sexual politics and the earliness of her revolt, and are convincingly illustrated by her representations of both men and women, her empowering evocation of sorcery, mythology and nature, her work’s unrestricted erotics, ranging from androgynous objects of female desire to homoeroticism and Sadean sadomasochism, and the fluidity of gender and sexuality emanating from her images, disguises, and words.

Bridget Riley

November 16, 2018 – January 26, 2019
Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles

“The curve is a frozen moment,” said Bridget Riley in an interview with The Telegraph, “This side contracts. That side extends. When we see a painted curve we somehow recognize that.” This gathering of work from across Riley’s rigorous and focused career gives a viewer an opportunity to test that observation. From Riley’s early experiments with pointillism, Pink Landscape (1960), to her recent paintings and wall murals consisting of subtly-modulated, colored discs, this show is arranged by “conceptual and compositional affinity rather than chronology.” Seen in this way, what emerges is a set of related concerns—the stripe, for instance—which can then be traced across the artist’s career. More than a survey-text example of Op Art, Riley’s work asks for the perceptual and bodily investment of the viewer; a recognition, a frozen moment, a curve, a line.

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