Star Wars and Minimalism

Artist John Powers has begun an ambitious undertaking; to show the world that the 1977 classic sci-fi film and cultural icon Star Wars is actually a masterwork of minimalism and modernism.  Powers makes visual connections like the one between Robert Morris’s War (1963) and the design of an imperial stormtropper’s armor as well as idealogical connections between the world of fine art and Star Wars. Continue reading

Comedy and Contemporary Art

Comedy is increasingly a tool used by contemporary artists two of my favorite artists who use humor in their work are Cory Archangel and Eric Yahnker.  These young artist blend comedy and art together seamlessly, knocking down the barriers between the two and pioneering the way for a fusion of the two creative arts.  As a student of both comedy and art I find these artists hugely inspirational and love their work and I’m excited by the growing acceptance of comedy in fine art and the use of humor as another way to discuss ideas.

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Lawrence Argent Logan Lecture

Kevin O’Hara

ARTH3539

Logan Lecture Review

Lawrence Argent is an artist who creates site-specific public works of art.  Argent’s large scale work is meant to reflect the location it is placed in and inspire viewers. Continue reading

Contemporary Artist: Hennessy Youngman

Hennessy Youngman is a persona invented and performed by Jayson Musson.  Youngman is the star of a series of popular Youtube videos called “Art Thoughtz.”  Musson adopts the stereotypes of young uneducated inner-city African Americans and hip-hop language while intelligently discussing various art topics.  Topics include Damien Hurst, relational aethestics, institutional critique, or performance art.  Musson himself has a BFA in Photography from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and he completed an MFA in painting from the University of Pennsylvania.  The humor and genius of the piece is taking the stereo-type of hip-hop culture and then intelligently and accurately discussing fine art theory.  Musson cleverly appropriates the “low-brow” genre of the Youtube video to be used as a forum for discussion of fine art, art theory,  and art history.

I absolutely love these videos and find them inspiring as a young artist with an interest in internet culture.  Musson’s transgression and subversion of stereotypes is fantastic and I appreciate the way he cleverly repackages art theory to be more accessible.  I find the genre of Youtube videos, and digital art in general, to be much more relevant to contemporary life than more traditional mediums.  These videos have a certain reverence for the ideas being discussed but also serve as a somewhat sarcastic critique of the art world and it’s pretension.  These videos have become so popular in fact that Musson now lives and works in New York city and is invited to talk at various institutions as the character of Youngman.  My favorite video of his is y an episode of “Art Thoughtz” recorded live of a talk he gave at the Chicago Institute of Contemporary Art.  The topic of the talk is “millennials” that is people born between 1980 and 1990.  Musson, through Youngman, discusses the habits of millennials, specifically our adoption of technology in virtually every aspect of our lives.  Musson goes on to question how art and art galleries must adapt to meet the changes brought on by technology its role in our lives.

 

Visiting Artist: Janine Antoni

Kevin O’Hara

ARTH3539

Visiting Artist Lecture Review

 

Janine Antoni is a contemporary artist who’s work explores concepts of body, femininity, gender roles, and maternity.  Antoni’s work is usually performative and focuses on process more than final product; she displays her process through photo documentation, installations, and sculpture.  With a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design Antoni became a Guggenheim fellow in 2011 and lives and works in New York city.  Antoni has become one of the most important and influential female artists working today.

Beginning with her earliest work first Antoni’s presentation went over her works, the thinking behind them, and the responses to them.  Antoni established Gnaw (1992) as her entry point into the contemporary art scene.  In the piece Antoni chewed two 600lb blocks, one chocolate the other lard, and used the chewed parts to create lipstick and chocolate boxes.  It was interesting to hear how people originally interpreted the piece as being a comment on minimalism because of the use of cubes however Antoni said that it was not her intention.  I personally found the lipstick and chocolate boxes, along with the false storefront they were presented in to be the most interesting part of the piece.  The commentary created by the feminine target products created physically by a woman was much more interesting to me than the act of chewing on the blocks or the incidental relationship to minimalism.  Antoni also mentioned that she was branded a feminist for this piece of artwork all though she again denied that that was her goal.  After Gnaw Antoni discussed Loving Care another one of her most well-known works in which she used  hair dye as paint and her own hair as a brush.  All though it is one of her most lauded works I have never really found the piece to be enough to keep me interested.

From Gnaw Antoni moved on to more works that discuss the body as an art-making tool often using the same materials of lard and chocolate.  Inspired by the story of Archimedes revelation in a bathtub Antoni created the work Eureka (1993).  In the piece she created a body cast of herself by being submerged in a bathtub of lard.  It was interesting to see some of the logistics behind the work, Antoni being lifted by crane out of the lard, but I found the idea of the displaced lard of equal volume to be more interesting than the tub or the performance.  Antoni explained her own interest in the displaced lard, expressing a fascination with the equality of a large glob of fat with a living human body.  After Eureka Antoni moves on to Lick and Lather (1993), creating two busts of herself again out of chocolate and lard.  Antoni used the busts, licking the chocolate and bathing with the soap to wear them down.  The idea of washing yourself with yourself was something that Antoni said she found fascinating and I found myself agreeing.

Antoni went on to cover her works Butterfly Kisses (1996-1999) and Mortar and Pestel (1999).  I found Butterfly Kisses interesting as another critique of marketing aimed at women.  Antoni admitted that all though she had intended Mortar and Pestel to record a deeply intimate act (licking her husband’s eye) that it mostly came across as creepy and I have to agree.

The piece Slumber was the work that I found most interesting.  Antoni performed the piece in museums, sleeping in the gallery at night and recording her brain activity while she slept with an EKG machine.  Then during the day Antoni used a loom to weave a  blanket based on the recorded EKG readings.  I loved the idea of turning something as intangible as dreams into something measurable and concrete.  It was humorous to hear Antoni talk about different museums she had performed the work at and how different nationalities had reacted and interacted with her while she was weaving.  To me part of the success of the piece is its more universal accessibility.  All though she addresses gender roles in her use of the traditionally feminine act of weaving, fascination with our dreams and recording them is a larger universal human experience.

I enjoyed hearing Janine Antoni talk however I found her work to be a little inaccessible and in some cases a little too easy for my taste.  Her work centers so much on the body, the female body, femininity, and maternity that I found it pretty inaccessible as a male in my 20s.  I also began to feel like she became too reliant on the materials and processes that had brought her success.  Almost an entire decade of work is dedicated to lard and chocolate and interacting with the body.  Additionally some of her more recent work, such as the photo of a cow that appears to be suckling at her breast or a short film of her tight-rope walking a line that aligns with the horizon seemed to me to be on the line between intelligent and lazy.  I was also troubled by the reoccurring theme in her lecture of incidental meaning being found in her work.  As an artist myself I know exactly what I want my audience to feel and think and if that’s not where they arrive I consider it a cop-out to say “well sure it could be that too.”  I think that it is a problem that is created by making the work first and then rationalizing it instead of the other way around.

Exhibition Keeping It Real CU Art museum

Kevin O’Hara

ARTH3539

Exhibition Review

Keeping It Real is a group exhibition of contemporary Korean Artist at the CU art museum.  The show collects videos, sculpture, photographs and installations by Korean Artists and offers a unique view into contemporary Korean society. Continue reading

Clyfford Still -Kevin O’Hara

The Clyfford Still Museum offers a unique chance to for viewers to experience the life of one of the foremost abstract expressionist painters.  At Still’s own behest his large volume of artwork is allowed to unfold chronologically without the distraction of other artist’s works.  The audience follows Still from his humble upbringing on farms in the Northwest to Academia in California then to the height of the New York art scene in the 50s and finally returning to a quiet farm.  Throughout his life Still’s style evolves from realism and figurative work to one of the foremost abstract expressionists in history.  Still’s greatest works stand the test of time as colossal representations of the sublime. Continue reading

Intellectual Profile Kevin O’Hara

1.

I am a senior currently in the BFA program in the Drawing and Painting department.  I do most of my work with traditional oil paints or graphite but also work in mixed media projects and short films. Continue reading