Georgescu-Response to: From the Critique of Institutions to an Institution of Critique (article under Role of Museums section)

In  From the Critique of Institutions to an Institution of Critique Andrea Fraser explores the evolution of the critiques of art institutions and the development of today’s institution of art. The question of what constitutes art and gives it value is one that we have discussed in class and one that arises more and more with contemporary art, as it is sometimes difficult to understand why certain pieces have multi-million dollar success, while others don’t. Buren’s words cited by Fraser offer one possible explanation that is linked to the context in which art is displayed: “if the Museums makes its ‘mark’, imposes its ‘frame’…on everything that is exhibited in it, in a deep and indelible way,” it does so easily because “everything that the Museum shows is only considered and produced in view of being set in it”. Does art gain value because a Museum exhibits it and if so is this art worth anything outside the Museum setting? Of course value is so subjective and continuously changing yet one has to wonder what worth something such as a Koons Rabbit would hold if it were to be displayed in a pawnshop as opposed to in a Museum? How much of art’s value come from pure circumstance? In my opinion, a great deal of aesthetically unimpressive and ideologically uninspired works are recognized as great art because the art institution has decided their value and all those involved in the art world (buyers, curators and the Museum visiting public) dare not question this imposed value, thereby adding to it.

Fraser goes on to discuss the evolution of the institution of art by explaining that since 1969 there has been an expansion of the art world outside of the context of Museums. Art is not art simply because it is shown in a Museum, rather it is art when “it exists for discourse and practices that recognize it as art, value and evaluate it as art, and consume it as art”. This concept made me think of street art. I have recently watched Exit Through the Gift Shop, a documentary which explores the secretive careers of Banksy and other street artists. Although street art is mingled with the everyday mundane cityscape rather than displayed against stark white walls, it has gained its own place in the art world because of the discourse it has raised. Looking at street art as an example (there are other forms of art that function in the same way) is encouraging. While there is perhaps art that has value simply because it has been appropriated by a  Museum, there is also art that has gained recognition despite its removal from the sources that generally grant it.

Some notes on Derrida’s Dissemination

Derrida has come up a lot in the past few weeks in terms of the concept of the binary (his thoughts are related to Said’s in Orientalism) and as I was redoing some of the readings for the final he came up again in a reading on Postmodernism in relation to the arbitrary nature of language. I briefly studied Derrida while I was studying abroad in Paris but never read his works. Since he has now come up several times in my studies, I was interested in reading his main work Dissemination. It is rather dense and complicated but I jotted down some simplified notes in case anyone is interested :)

Derrida: Dissemination

-Explores relationship between life and writing

-It is impossible to have a science of writing

-Nothing outside the text

-Our reading must be intrinsic and remain within the text

-Double binds and tensions within text

– No experience of reality outside of text

-Signified (what is meant) and Signifier (vehicle for conveying meaning)

-**Takes concept from Sassure that “language is a system of differences” and adds dimension of temporality to it (diachronically)

-Writing is more fundamental than speech

-Repression of writing

-A text is a web which reading must try to untangle

-Reading and writing must rip apart

– He intends to show that laying down a meaning is at all times an arbitrary and provisional act based in a desire for power and control.

-There are always 2 opposing meanings to a word but at the same time they aren’t there…a word carries with it all its other meanings and past but this when written only one of the meanings is presented which is why both meanings are there and not there at the same time.

-Through irresponsible commentary, only one meaning is solidified

-Through history, language gathers more history. Criticism isn’t respectful of binary nature of text

Georgescu-Response to: Latin American Art, Rediscovered Again

While, it was exciting for me to read this article about  the rise in importance of Latin American art in the art world, it also brought some concerns to mind. We have looked at some of the stereotypes of Latin American art as well as of Middle Eastern and Native American art and I wonder if an increase in popularity of Latin American art will perpetuate Latin American stereotypes or help diminish their prevalence? In my (limited) opinion, there is a risk that as Latin American art becomes “hotter” on the art market, artists will feel pressured to depict “typical” Latin American images and themes so as to succeed in an increasingly competitive market. One would hope that the opposite would be the case, that artists would not produce stereotypical pieces and the stereotypes would slowly fade but it seems too early to tell what will happen.

I don’t intend to be too pessimistic with this concern, it just seems hard to ignore after all the time we have spent looking at the prevalence of stereotypical Western concepts of unfamiliar cultures.  For now, it is just exciting that a new culture is breaking into an art market that often appears to be dominated by the same ideologies.

Georgescu-Exhibition Paper

Dora Georgescu

Exhibition Paper

Viviane Le Courtois: Edible?

The aptly named Edible? by French artist Viviane Le Courtois, explores the world of what we can, do, and probably should not, eat. Currently showing at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, the exhibition features a wide variety of pieces, which are both inspired by and often created out of food. Central among the themes explored by Le Courtois are the rituals of preparing and eating food, the contrast between natural and synthetic food, and austerity and gluttony.

Edible? opens rather intuitively, with a look at food at its source. In a room full of locally sourced herbs, the audience is invited to pick and prepare their own cups of tea, brewed in primitive, low-fired clay cups supplied by the artist. The interactive piece, collectively titled The Garden of Earthy Delights, serves to introduce the audience to Le Courtois’ exploration of our relationship with food. The herbs on display are all potent and distinct, and aside from simply being fun, the piece succeeds in highlighting the natural origins of food, and its interactive nature lends itself well to the intimate and at times base connection between food and man that Le Courtois’ examines throughout the collection. After finishing their tea, the audience is invited to hurl their clay cups against a wall, and the resulting pile of broken earthenware emphasizes the organic nature of food. The pile of shattered cups resembles soil, red from the unglazed clay, and the ashes to ashes, food back to mulch motif isn’t lost on the audience who helps to create it.

At the other end of the room that houses The Garden of Earthy Delights, is a series of etchings that Le Courtois produced by using stains of Kombucha, a mushroom used in brewing a type of fermented tea that shares the fungi’s name. The rusty brown etchings recall images of cells seen through the microscopes in high school biology courses, both random and intensely intricate in their growth. A large jar of the fermenting tea, its top thick with the mushroom cultures, sits at the end of the series of etchings and reminds the viewer again of the natural, living element of what we eat and drink.

As you progress through the exhibition you can notice a shift in Le Courtois’ focus from where the food originates, to how it is prepared. A video installation titled Generations of Peelings presents what appears to be an endless loop (although in reality, it lasts only 30 minutes) of potatoes being peeled. Below the screen, several sacs contain an impressive accumulation of potato peelings. The piece is a riff on the theme of tradition, as Le Courtois looks back to the generations of women in her family that spent so many hours peeling the humble tuber. Much like the accumulated potatoes peels before us, history is thick with the rituals and traditions of families, especially in relation to the preparation of nourishment. 

Another shift takes us to the process of food consumption. A number of different pieces center on the act of chewing food, including a dozen chewed up licorice sticks prepared (with what one imagines is considerable effort) by the artist herself, a film of her chewing said sticks, and a number of metal castings taken from apple cores left behind by different individuals. The works illustrate the immediacy of consumption, and the intensely personal, and somewhat grotesquely intimate act of eating. The food being eaten is simple; licorice sticks and apples rather than finely prepared cuisine.  None of the subjects exhibit the glamour or beauty of food, and the lack of such qualities allows Le Courtois to reveal the ritualistic and rudimentary act of consumption. The apple castings show the teeth marks and varying appetites of the different people who ate them, evoking the crunching, mashing, sloshing; the crude and humble process that is eating.

While consumption is a concept familiar to all viewers, Le Courtois delves into the less familiar with her eclectic collections displayed in an adjacent room. Upon two sets of shelves, rest numerous jars containing a bizarre assortment of toys, foods, and other every day items.  These items are not simply contained, however. They have been altered by the fluid in which they swim. Food is molded and objects are disintegrated; these are no longer every day objects, but rather seemingly hazardous metamorphoses. Le Courtois created this collection with her mother, who had always held on to useless items, in mind. Aside from this personal influence, Le Courtois also aimed to comment on contemporary society, specifically perhaps on the degree of wastefulness existent in this consumer world (“Exhibitions Resume Statement”).

These collections reminded me of the French-born American artist, Arman, that I studied and whose works I had the privilege to see while in Paris.  Arman is perhaps best known for his “accumulations”, which are endless collections of various objects. A subset of these accumulations is “Les Poubelles” (meaning The Trash in French), which are containers packed with debris. In order to create “Les Poubelles”, Arman systematically scoured the streets of Paris to collect trash left behind by others. By displaying the trash that he found, he reveals the hidden and the personal symbols of humanity. Furthermore, he makes a powerful statement about the material world in which we live. Seeing every-day items that we all use, put together in their most raw form is shocking and lends questions of the materialism in today’s world. Taking the collections to another level, he found a way to contain food in a specific substance and display it in glass containers. It is with these displays, that his works are especially tied to that of Le Courtois. Both artists capture an expression of the degradation of life and a reminder of the biological, chemical, and physical condition of the human condition, while reminding us of the extent of materialism in today’s society.

Le Courtois’ jars are just the beginning of a collection of works representing human gluttony and food gone wrong. Venus of Consumption is an ironic twist on the classical ideal of beauty. A reclining oversized figure made of orange yarn is the idealization of excess, rather than of beauty as a title with the name Venus might initially imply. This Venus reclines in the center of the room much as the Venuses of old do in their paintings, but the androgynous grotesque form, not unlike a pile of half stuffed sausages, reminds us that consumption is not always a beautiful thing. While the Venus is not made of food, the dayglow orange yarn reflects the oversaturated colors of the artificial sugary treats that Le Courtois uses in some of her other pieces. A thick clear plastic coating furthers the impression that the Venus itself is made of candy; it is what it eats.

The room housing the Venus is full of other pieces that both critique and pay homage to our invention and corruption of what we eat. The opening to the room is framed by Candy Curtains, which as their name implies are strings of brightly colored sweets, fashioned into hanging curtains like those that enclose the scenes of Persian pleasure gardens in classical paintings. On the other side of these candied shrouds hangs Cheetovore, a faux carcass constructed from the puffed cornmeal snack. Cheetovore depicts our replacement of the natural with the artificial in a more violent way than the candy pieces. The image of a blood red animal carcass hanging from the ceiling evokes feelings of domination, and the spoils of the hunt, but the material used to create the piece is more readily associated with orange stained fingers and the great American couch potato. In the same room as Cheetovore and the Venus of Consumption, are a number of other figures that are also made out of what might be called synthesized food. Shane is a lumpy and once again androgynous figure constructed out of pastel colored marshmallows. While the figure is quite large, it is not as big as the Venus, and its from is more angular and rigid than the reclining fatty. Shane’s angles might indicate that he was carved from stone rather than mallow, and he conjures up images of titans, golems, and other monolithic mud-men.  Little Fat Kids is a series of well… little fat kids. Made from rubberish candy poured into molds in the form of chubby young children, the group of figurines stand about six inches high. Grouped in neat rows, the rotund figures remind one of the terracotta Chinese warriors, more likely unearthed from a box of Mike & Ike’s than an emperor’s tomb.

Le Courtois both highlights and contrasts the theme of materialism present in these pieces with Offerings for the Homeless, a series of small plates containing dried

rice, lentils and spices upon orange Indian fabric. Unlike the jars, there is no variety and no abundance upon these plates. They are symbolic of a world which most of us do not know, a world in which scraps of food and other “useless” items do not exist because everything matters. With this simple offering, Le Courtois reminds us of those who share neither our possessions, nor our gluttony.

With her wide variety of mediums and techniques, Le Courtois address more than just the superficial aesthetics of culinary artistry and edible delights. She uses something that is familiar and essential for all human life to explore topics that are equally fundamental to understanding of life and what sustains it. I was not sure what to expect when I went to see Edible? but I was pleasantly surprised by Le Courtois’ insightful ideas so creatively expressed. I didn’t leave the exhibit hungry but I certainly got some food for thought.


“Arman.” Le Site De Robert. Web. 15 Apr. 2012.

“Exhibitions Resume Statement.” Viviane Le Courtois Art. Web. 15 Apr. 2012.

Georgescu-Lecture Review 2

Dora Georgescu


Lecture Review 2

Visiting Artist Lecture at the Denver Art Museum: Lawrence Argent

Known for the big blue bear outside of the Denver Convention Center, Lawrence Argent is an artist who speaks of his works with both humor and conviction. Although he is lighthearted in his approach to speaking of his art, it was clear from his lecture, at the Denver Art Museum on April 18th, that there are at least two very strong interests he incorporates into his pieces. First, he searches for a historical understanding of each place in which he is to display a piece. He uses this understanding to create harmony between his art and the space it occupies. Second, he is interested in how humans perceive reality and he attempts to explore this question with his works and the process of their creation. Argent’s lecture was introduced with an explanation of five elements that make a public artist, like Argent, great. In this review, these elements, along with Argent’s interests will be explored in relation to several of his earliest and most recent works.

1: The work reflects the values of the culture:

Perhaps Denver’s most well known public art piece is Argent’s blue bear I See What you Mean leaning inquisitively on the Denver Convention Center.  True to his desire to incorporate historical meaning into his works, Argent looked to Colorado’s history and image when deciding what to design for the Convention Center. Colorado has a rather “wild west” history and although Denver hardly conveys this history today, it is still very much a part of Colorado’s image. Argent claimed that he wanted to “derail the kitsch ideas” of the wild west by integrating its typical image with the modern home of global exchanges that is the Convention Center.

2: The work has a sense of emotion or feeling:

While I See What you Mean evokes a smile tied perhaps to childhood memories of a cuddly stuffed animal, Argent’s works certainly tie to other emotions and even tangible feelings. Several of his earliest works, before he began his career in public art, struck me as both emotive and connected to Argent’s interest in history and human perception of reality. Argent’s chair with a video projection of many different people sitting upon it, titled Waiting, is humorous at first glance, yet it has the capacity to evoke in its viewers Argent’s own interest in history. Looking at this video installation made me think of how everything around us has a story and that everyone is connected through the objects they touch, the places they go, and the emotions universally experienced at one point or another in life. His more tangible piece Reflections consists of a washstand with a soap carved cowboy hat resting on a bed of soap on one side and oil reflecting a pair of suspended weathered boxing gloves on the other. I call this piece tangible because of its distinct play on the senses with the juxtaposing softness of the white, pleasantly fragrant soap and the slick, black pool of foreboding oil. It is with these juxtapositions that Argent explores how we perceive reality.

3: The work uses imagination:

While all of Argent’s works are imaginative, there are two that particularly stood out to me during his lecture. Whispers is a series of benches and five columns at the University of Denver that interact with their surroundings through a sound system that is activated whenever someone sits on the benches. Argent discussed that the purpose of these interactive sound elements is to expose people to an unexpected and unusual new perception of reality. The sounds emitted by the benches are pre-recorded lectures varying in subject matter; lectures that many of the sitters might not be exposed to, were it not for their chance encounter with a bench.  An interesting fact about these benches is that the fronts of the benches are carved lips, lips whose striking realism lies in the fact that they are created from molds of DU students’ lips. By using students’ lips, Argent not only created individualized benches, he documented history by leaving in stone the unique marks of a select group of students (perhaps some of which will go on to be great names in America).

Another piece that I found especially creative is Leap, a massive red rabbit suspended, to appear as if leaping, from the third floor of the Sacramento Airport. The rabbit is aimed toward a stone-made suitcase on the bottom floor that has something close to a vortex carved in the middle, inviting the rabbit inside. According to Argent, the airport is a place where we come with our baggage, both physical and literal and it is something so personal that makes up who we are in many regards. It is this concept of baggage and personal connection that inspired him to create the captivating red rabbit jumping into his own baggage.

4: There is a mastery of technique and use of material exhibited by the work:

The way in which the red rabbit was created is especially unique. Aside from the enormous undertaking of suspending such a large sculpture in a public space that was successful achieved, Argent also impresses with his unique technique of attaching red panels to the black rabbit. He did this so as to create an extra dimension to the rabbit and in doing so, once again he raises the questions of how we perceive reality. The rabbit is multi-dimensional but this is not necessarily visible from every angle. Rather, its appearance changes depending on each individual perception.  

5: The artist understands the value of the work:

At the end of the lecture, a member of the audience asked Argent how his works have been received by the general public. He talked about how the people of Sacramento were outraged by the enormous cost of Leap and how he believed that, while the expense was great, it is the value of what this piece adds to the city long term that outweighs the short term cost of constructing it.  As we discussed in class, not everyone will be happy with art, especially public art, which everyone is exposed to weather they chose to be or not. Argent accepts this with grace and speaks of the criticism he has received with humor and understanding. He understands that public art is not always accepted but he also understands the true value of his work that will endure criticism and continue to impact those who interact with it.

Lawrence Argent was an engaging speaker and his lecture was not only interesting but entertaining. His passion was palpable and I found myself being pulled in by his explanations. I especially enjoyed the fact that while it was clear he put a lot of thought into his works and tried to draw deeper connections between pieces, their environment, and what they represent, he did not come off as condescending. That is to say, he treated his audience as if we would understand exactly what he meant and this, in my opinion, actually did help me understand him.

Georgescu-Lecture Review 3

Dora Georgescu

Lecture Review 3-Extra Credit

Visiting Artist Lecture: Aki Sasomoto

When I went to the February 21st Artist Lecture by Aki Sasamoto, I spent the whole time trying to understand at least a fraction of what she was energetically saying. Clearly passionate about her work, Sasamoto jumped from one idea to the next with often unclear or nonexistent transitions. Despite my difficulty in always following her train of thought, her energy and humor made for an interesting lecture.

A Japanese artist working in New York, Sasamoto works in a wide variety of mediums including performance, sculpture, and installations. She started her lecture by asking members of the audience to pick questions that they wanted her to answer from a list that she had prepared. The first question asked was “Am I a liar?” to which she answered, “Yes”. The reason that she considers herself a liar is because she performs structured improvisation shows, in which she repeats her actions over and over. They are not actually spontaneous, as the audience might believe, but rather the result of deliberate planning. Interestingly, Sasamoto said that her answer to this question changes every time she presents because her performances are always changing, thereby giving her a different impression of her own work.

After answering several more questions, Sasamoto moved on to a wildly elaborate and rather confusing explanation of the purpose of life and the four kinds of people that exist in the world. Using a white board to illustrate her ideas, she drew four circles, which represent the 4 types of people, labeled “Professor Kaufner” “Tink” “Odds” and “Norm”, all of which were connected by multi-directional arrows.  Her explanation of these types and the relationships between them was overly elaborate and complicated but the gist was as follows: “Professor Kaufner” is the wise and down to earth type who grounds “Tink”, the celebrity type who is admired by “Norm”, the normal type which constitutes the majority of the population. Meanwhile, “Odds” remains underground as someone who belongs neither to the normal population nor to the extraordinary population. He is limited in his ability to emerge from the ground because he is bullied by the “Norm” and ignored by the “Tink” (whom he ignores in return). I found this summarization of humanity rather accurate and was amused by Sasamoto’s story-telling style as she made keen observations of the world in which we live.

In no way connected to this explanation of life, followed a video of Sasamoto’s performance art. Laying on the ground in a green jumpsuit, Sasamoto pulled and released bungee cords with potatoes attached at each end against a small wall. She didn’t really discuss the meaning of this piece (or if she did, her explanation escaped me), yet I found it to make sense in relation to who she is as an artist. Like the bouncing potatoes, Sasamoto too is a small bundle of energy constantly bouncing from place to place. To me, this performance art perfectly captures her spirit and it is with this outlook that I was able to enjoy it. When I tried to find deeper meaning in her works, I found myself getting frustrated because it didn’t seem to exist. I have no doubt that there is more meaning than I could grasp in her works, but it was just difficult to understand it without clear explanations.

Jumping once again to a seemingly unrelated topic, Sasamoto passionately explained her deep hatred of mosquitoes. As “petty criminals” mosquitoes look to satisfy themselves right away, sneaking about and harming others in order to do so. She made a comparison between the mosquito and the comedian, but it was rather unclear to me. However, her monologue on comedians made it clear to me that she sees herself as not just an artist, but as an entertainer as well. This self-image is appropriate as she is a very captivating performer that had her audience laughing both with her and at her throughout her lecture.

Although I was not able to follow all of Sasamoto’s imaginative and disconnected ideas, I did enjoy her lecture. There was never a dull moment and even days after the lecture, I was trying to wrap my mind around everything that she had said. I find her use of various mediums creative and a manifestation of her own free spirit. Rather than confining herself to one form of art, she allows herself the freedom to express her many ideas in whichever medium best captures each idea.

Georgescu-Lecture Review1

Dora Georgescu


Lecture Review 1

Art History Lecture Series: Amelia Jones


 In her lecture on “Queer Feminist Durationality,” researcher and author Amelia Jones examines how identity affects both the meaning artists imbue their work with as well as the reactions it engenders in their audience.  Although not the most dynamic lecturer (preferring to simply read her paper word for word in monotone), Professor Jones has clearly dedicated a great deal of attention to her topic.

Sexual identity and gender orientation obviously play defining, if not dominant, roles in shaping the identities of feminist and queer artists. As such the themes, values and preoccupations associated with such identities feature strongly in their works. However, Jones points out that too often the identities of the queer and feminist artists are already so strongly defined both by the artists and the public, that the artists and their work are viewed as a subject or statement in themselves, distorting our ability to relate to the art in a more meaningful way. The art itself becomes lost in the supposed identity of the artist, but rather than examining what that identity is composed of, and how it plays out in the artists’ work, a preconceived notion of what the message or goal of feminist or queer art is superimposed onto the work. The viewer sees culture warriors plastering their art with vaginas for shock value or socio-political impact, and as such fails to relate to and understand the artists through their pieces. Jones doesn’t deny the politics that color so much of the art she studies, but her theories on how we can relate to the art and its creators expose the depth of this genre of contemporary art in a manner that allows us to gain a greater understanding of the interesting people behind it.

In her paper and presentation Jones takes the time to describe her own experiences in putting her theory of relation into practice. Describing the Mira Schor piece Slit of Paint, Jones first launches into an unabashedly sexual description of the artist’s painterly technique. Through Jones’ theory the feminist identity of the piece does not stop at the subject (a vagina), but extends to experiencing the sexually-charged femininity of the painter as she created it. Jones imagines the strokes of the paintbrush that create Scho’s “Slit,” caressing her own, and true to the genre she is studying, Jones doesn’t shy away from using the blunt sexual terminology of the subject matter. Perhaps more evidently sexual than Schor’s piece is Valie Export’s grouping of six posters of the crotchless trouser-clad artist titled Action Pants: Genital Panic. According to Jones, with this piece Export opens up new circuits of meaning through a hostile offering of her genitals, which “stare” at us, opening up a feminist durational space. She often uses the word durational to refer to the opening of a work to interpretation.

Jones also emphasizes the layered and complicated nature of identity in general, specifically that of the artists she studies. Examining Cathie Opie’s Self-portrait/nursing, Jones touches on the blatant gender-role-reversal, and Madonna and Child motifs, but then quickly moves on to examine the more nuanced elements of Opie’s identity. She traces a brief history of Opie’s other self-portraits as they evolve towards the “nursing” piece, exposing how identity is built upon an individual’s past history even as their sense of self remains fluid and open to reinterpretation. She relates to Opie through her own experience of motherhood and nursing (once again quite graphically) and teases out the themes and feelings present in the portrait, moving past the image itself which on its own reveals little more than a large “dyke” suckling her only slightly less mammoth child. “Intersectionality” is the term Jones chooses to describe the complicated nature of identity and her presentation reaffirms the message that understanding those different from us necessitates that we examine the multitude of factors that make up their identities as well as our own.

Having studied theories of “othering” those that are different from us, I found Jones’ lecture insightful. While her manner of speaking and use of jargon and abstract notions made her lecture rather difficult to follow, she presented a thorough analysis of a subject that is often difficult to broach.  Much like the artists she studies, Jones troubles the idea that we can know what we see in order to open a door to a more comprehensive understanding of that which is unknown.

Georgescu-Extra Credit Exhibition

Dora Georgescu


Extra Credit Exhibition Essay

Robert Motherwell: Capturing Effects With New Creativity

“What I realized was that Americans potentially could paint like angels but that there was no creative principle around, so that everybody who liked modern art was copying it. Gorky was copying Picasso. Pollock was copying Picasso. De Kooning was copying Picasso. I mean I say this unqualifiedly. I was painting French intimate pictures or whatever. And all we needed was a creative principle, I mean something that would mobilize this capacity to paint in a creative way, and that’s what Europe had that we hadn’t had; we had always followed in their wake” (Cummins).

Here Robert Motherwell’s words shed light on his artistic vision as a leader of the Abstract Expressionism movement. Born in Washington in 1915, Motherwell had a varied educational background whose influence is visible throughout his works, providing a creative artistic approach.  When I went to see an exhibition of his works at the Denver Art Museum, there were three pieces that especially stood out to me due to their demonstration of Motherwell’s desire to capture feelings and effects rather than distinct images. Having visited the Clyfford Stil Museum and studied Abstract Expressionism, I believe that I was able to appreciate Motherwell’s art more now than I might have at the beginning of the semester.

The first piece I saw was titled Samurai 3. Three intersecting black lines with two distorted circles form what appears to be an amoeba-human hybrid. This creature, with small specks of black paint emerging from the top half, is painted thick upon a faded yellow background. Because it was titled Samurai 3, I couldn’t help but think of a disciplined warrior indoctrinated in order and honor. Yet, true to his style of capturing feeling and effect creatively, Motherwell did not create a Samuri that fully embodies this image. Rather, the canvas presents what I would describe as orderly chaos. Although Motherwell did not apply paint as freely as Jackson Pollock–another artist of the Abstract Expressionism movement– did in many of his woks, a feeling of instantaneous and liberal application of thick paint exists none-the-less. Yet, hints of Samurai order can be found because the paint remains contained by the canvas rather than appearing to spill over as is visible in other Abstract Expressionism works.

While Samurai 3 is created with paint on canvas, Motherwell explores another medium with his watercolor on paper work Three Persons with a Book. Aside from the difference in technique, this piece is also less abstract than Samurai 3. Although they are composed of stacked blocks and lines, three figures are clearly visible with a book between them. Once again black and yellow are the dominating colors but rather than juxtaposing each other, they are overlapped in a more equally shared space. Because this piece was composed of various shapes, I found it less representative of typical Abstract Expressionism and more representative of Cubism. This observation made sense when I looked at the date and realized that it was created years prior to Samurai 3. As the quote that introduces this paper indicates, Motherwell strove to move away from Cubism and other similarly dominant art movements of his time and delve into a more creative artistic expression.

This effort for creativity is most visible in one of his later works, a collage titled New York City. By combining paint, paper, cardboard, and pencil, Motherwell not only creates a creative piece but he also achieves his goal of capturing “not the thing, but the effect it produces” (Museum plaque). This effect is that of chaos and diversity. Chaotic and vibrant, this collage does not in any way recall a city; rather it embodies the atmosphere of New York City. So as to express this to the viewer, Motherwell kindly wrote NYC in pencil at the top of the piece. Bright orange, blue and red stand against dull brown, black and grey. I found the use of colors to be as essential to producing the effect of the city as the mix of mediums is. To me the vibrant colors juxtaposed to the dull colors represent the coexistence of the exciting and the mundane in life and certainly in a place like New York City.

Although rather limited in number of works, the Motherwell exhibition at the Denver Art Museum displayed a variety of his works, which I believe captured his numerous dimensions as a pioneer of Abstract Expressionism. To me, the three works discussed in this paper demonstrate Motherwell’s progression from influences of older contemporary art movements to his own unique version of Abstract Expressionism.


Cummins, Paul. “Oral history interview with Robert Motherwell”. 1971 Nov. 24-1974            Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Georgescu–Response to: “The Art of War: Why Today’s Iranian Art Is One Of Your Best Investments Now”

I found this article interesting because it addresses the controversy around many Iranian art pieces as well as the emotion, which is often anger, that goes into creating these works.  As I was reading this article, I immediately thought of other artists whose works are characterized by emotions clearly exhibited in their works. Specifically, I thought of Jackson Pollock and the artists of the abstract expressionist movement. Although this movement, at first glance, appears very different from Iranian art, there are several key elements that I believe connect the two types of art. Both types of art:  1) share an emotional intensity that is 2) motivated by rebellion. While the abstract expressionists rebelled against conservative art, the Iranian artists in this article rebel against political and social oppression in Iran.

Rebellious techniques and ideas have been expressed in art works over the centuries, but what makes the rebellion of Iranian art especially interesting is that it is effecting the artists who have the courage to use their art as tools of opposition in hopes of causing a  change  in their countries. It is this courage that is remarkable, especially when you consider what these artists have sacrificed in order o express themselves. The fact that Rokni and Ramin Haerizadeh are living in exile because of their art struck me as rather shocking. I  researched them further and found this article that explains their situation and their convictions in more depth:

Interesting Article

Georgescu-Clyfford Still

Dora Georgescu


Clyfford Still Essay

Clyfford Still: From Representation to Liberation


Described as the most anti-traditional of the Abstract Expressionists, Clyfford Still is credited with laying the groundwork for this art movement that emerged in the years following World War II (Sandler).  His work is characterized by a shift from representational art to abstraction and ultimately strives for the expression of freedom and the liberation of the viewer. Continue reading

Georgescu-Intellectual Profile

Give some basic information about your studies and fields of interest.

I am a senior studying Psychology and French. I have just applied to law school and hope to specialize in Intellectual Property Law (even more specifically, Art Fraud law). I studied abroad in Paris, France during the fall semester of my junior year and there my eyes were opened in many ways, especially in relation to the art world.  Continue reading

Georgescu-What is contemporary art?

Terry Smith’s answer to “What is contemporary art” is that, it is an “institutionalized network” through which today’s art presents itself to audiences all over the world and to itself.  It is the art that we interpret, the art that we say it is and present, the art that becomes a part of the business exchange of selling and buying. Smith focuses on the temporal aspect of contemporary art stating that it is in a state beyond history; it is in the present without past or future. Yet, historical art movements are seen within contemporary art—Smith highlights the influences of the past minimalist and modernist  artistic elements. Referring once again to history, Smith states that there seems to be more contemporary art than before (pinpointing the 1950s as the “before”). It is also more diverse than before, taking on a variety of forms and effects.

Smith is very clear on the idea of contemporary art as a very unique phenomenon. One of the ways he does this is by comparing it to modern art  and highlighting its distinct elements. Similar to modern art, contemporary art seeks to reach the masses, yet maintains an appeal to the individual art collectors. He also discusses the importance of trends in contemporary art. There are so many young up-and-coming artists each trying to break with conventions and create something innovative, yet ultimately all are confined to the world of museums.

Smith’s paper expanded on my idea that contemporary art is both extremely diverse and fluid, reflecting and changing with modern times. I hope that I will gain a more critical outlook on contemporary art that will allow me to interpret it in a more meaningful way, after taking this class.