Show Review of Ed Ruscha: On the Road

Maddie Rupp
Show Review
25 April 2012

‘Ed Ruscha: On the Road’ at the Denver Art Museum

Rugged freedom, wild independence, and poetic self-realization.  Roaming, exploring, and experiencing.  The American West has captivated the fantasies of many generations of young people, artists and adventurers alike.  The Denver Art Museum’s recent exhibition, Ed Ruscha: On the Road, showcases the work of two artists who have hugely shaped the image of the West.  The show features Ed Ruscha’s 2009 collaged edition of Kerouac’s 1957 novel On the Road, including pages from the 2009 publication and a number of Ruscha’s signature text-style paintings.  The show highlights how both artists use text to chronicle the values and contradictions of their time- Ruscha is known for using text to comment on symbols of the American lifestyle, and Kerouac is known as one of the Beat Generation writers, whose work channeled the spirit of American youth in the 1940’s and 50’s.  Lastly, Ed Ruscha: On the Road reflects on how visual arts and literature can intertwine to capture the art that lies within experience.  Here, this is specifically the creative experience of being young and free.

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Visiting Artist Lecture: Janine Antoni

Madison Rupp
ARTH 3539
Visiting Artist Lecture Review

Janine Antoni

In March, the CU Boulder Visiting Artist Program was lucky enough to host multimedia artist Janine Antoni, and in many people’s opinions, it was the best lecture yet.  Antoni got her BA from Sarah Lawrence College, her MFA from the Rhode Island School of design, and has been honored with both Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships.  While her talent is hugely obvious in her work, one would never guess this from her humble, easy-going presence.  She is immediately likeable, but intriguing at the same time.  Antoni primarily works in sculpture and performance, using her whole body as a tool and using humanity as her subject matter.  Materiality is hugely important in her work; Antoni uses materials that speak directly to the content of her piece.  She is primarily interested in the relationship between body and object, and to quote the artist herself, is “obsessed with communication.”  Many of her works also deal with the human condition and its everyday functions, making them widely relatable and easily understood.

Visiting Scholar Lecture Review: Erika Doss

Madison Rupp
ARTH 3539
Scholar Lecture Review

Erika Doss: Cultural Vandalism and Public Memory

Erika Doss’s recent lecture focused on how memorials function in the public sphere, especially when these memorials provoke debate and controversy.  Memorials and monuments can mean different things to different groups of people, which can cause indignation and anger, which in turn can lead to vandalism.  Rather than viewing vandalism as a random delinquent act, Doss views it as a form of discourse that can lead to a more complete understanding of the event that the memorial commemorates.

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‘Guggenheim Project Challenges ‘Western-Centric View’

This morning in the Arts section of the Times, this article described the new Guggenheim Museum’s program that aims to globalize our perspective on contemporary art.  Every two years, a curator from a non-Western part of the world will choose different artists from their region that they think ‘best reflects the talent in their areas.’  Then, the Guggenheim will use their estimated $40 million dollar budget  to acquire the works, show them, and then let two other museums show them as well.  The exhibits will be complemented by lectures and programs that focus on the theme of globalization and cultural exchange.  The budget is just an estimate from art world insiders, but it is a huge amount of money financed by the UBS Swiss Bank, and is more than the Guggenheim or UBS has ever spent on a single program.

“We are hoping to challenge our Western-centric view of art history,” said Richard Armstrong, the director of the Guggenheim Foundation. “Our global aspiration is to become familiar with these places, but that calls for people power and a sense of adventure. We certainly have the latter.” (NY TIMES)

The first curator has been selected for South and Southeast Asia, and it will be June Yap of Singapore.  The program will also look at the Middle East, Latin America, and North Africa.

What I think is great about this is the longevity of the project.  The fact that they plan on undertaking this huge budget, and at least 8 years of various regional exhibits, shows that Guggenheim and UBS are pretty dedicated.  I also think it’s important that they are choosing a curator from each region, and then letting the curator make the decisions about the talent that the program chooses.

But there is still the nagging problem of viewing these artists only under the scope of their nationality.  I will be interested to see how the Guggenheim tackles this problem, and how the Western audience will view these artists after the show is over. Will the artists gain enough attention to be accepted as mainstream?  How will art collectors respond?  I think the Guggenheim will have to be very careful with how they frame the show, so that the artists will be recognized as just artists, and not so much as an artist from (insert artist’s home country).  This will probably be mostly up to the curators, who are also being advertised as ‘a curator from (insert curator’s home country).’  I wonder, with the show’s goal of encouraging globalized thinking in the arts, but in the show’s actions of only showing non-Western art under the headline of being non-Western, is the show doomed from the start?

I’m excited to see how this unfolds.

Serota, Clyfford Still, and the Denver Art Museum

This Saturday I went to the Denver Art Museum to see the Ruscha show, and spent some time in the Modern & Contemporary Art galleries.  There was a handful of Motherwell paintings clustered mostly on the right side of the room (kind of awkward: there was a smaller gallery close to the front with his drawings, and then as you entered the main gallery space there were a few larger, later paintings hanging on the right side of the wall, and another one, the biggest one, hanging so that it faced you as you enter the main space), but to the left, almost hidden in a corner, was a single Clyfford Still painting: PH-69.

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After visiting the Still museum earlier this semester, it was amazing to compare the environments of his work.  In the Still museum, each piece has its own distinguishing space, and of course, only Still’s paintings are on display.  In DAM, PH-69 was jammed into a corner, juxtaposed with a bronze sculpture and other works from other artists, and the walls around it were glowing pink from the reflections of Skoglund’s Fox Games.  After seeing this display, I can absolutely understand why Still took so much control over his works and how they were displayed.  As you can see in the photo, the solitary Still painting seems dwarfed and out of place.

Because of this, the Serota reading gave me a lot to think about.  Serota makes the stand that yes, the Eastlake method of hanging works by school is insufficient, but Serota also claims that the single artist displays are not adequate either because they do not allow the viewer to draw important parallells with other artists and other movements.  In the case of DAM, it is obviously apparent that the chronology groupings are not sufficient, or thorough enough- the collection is too limited and vague to really talk that much about various artistic developments (at least in my opinion).  But in one facet, it is helpful to see a Still right next to a Motherwell- I could see familiarities between these two colorfield painters.  On the other hand, in the Still museum, you can reflect on the progression of a single artist’s developments along his career, but you don’t get that much context, the ‘climactic zones’ mentioned in the article.  Each work is given more respect, but I will definitely admit that something is lost when you can’t compare to other artists.  In the end though, I think that the Still museum was a better museum experience.  It was more valuable to me to see the developments of one artist’s career than to see a random display of various artists and works, brought together only under the context of their historical period.

As a middle ground, we could look at the Motherwell groupings within the DAM contemporary art exhibit.  They are displayed together within the larger gallery.  It allows time and thought to be given to Motherwell’s work, and it makes you pay attention to each painting.  But these works are from a specific period of Motherwell’s production, so you don’t get to see a lot of progression within the artist.  But it is still helpful to see Motherwell’s work within the larger context of modern/contemporary art.  I think that if the Motherwell paintings were from various points in his career, rather than only a single period, it would have been more informative.  But I also don’t know if it would be the best way to set up a museum.  Any thoughts?

Lets try the poll feature:

Technical Difficulties


I’m having trouble accessing the Serota reading for Tuesday, I was wondering if anyone else was too.


Marina Abramovic Made Me Cry

Here is a link to the website I mentioned in class, Marina Abramovic Made Me Cry .

Chris Burden, Shoot, 1971

Here’s the Youtube link to Chris Burden’s Shoot.  It starts around 2:00.  It’s much less dramatic than you would think, I was honestly a bit disappointed.  I think this disappointment goes to show how these pieces talk about relationships, I as a spectator was so detached that I wanted something more from the bullet shot.

Times Article on ‘Happenings’

The Pace Gallery in Chelsea will have a show revolving around the ‘happenings’ of the 1960s, which are mentioned in the Dezuze article.  A recent article in the New York Times gave a brief introduction to the show, and there are some interesting quotes from people who actually experienced these happenings.  These photos added a lot to my understanding of what these ‘happenings’ might have looked like, so I thought I would share.

It also got me thinking, how does the medium of film contribute to the concept of a ‘happening’ itself?  Documenting these happenings would detract from their ephemeral nature, and seeing a picture is barely comparable to actually experiencing these happenings.  While I am glad to get a glimpse into these works, I feel guilty, as though I’m not supposed to see it since I wasn’t originally there.

"Sports" by Claes Oldenburg, 1962

Walter De Maria, Bed of Spikes 1968

I noticed today in class that Walter de Maria’s Bed of Spikes shows another shift away from an established standard of minimal art by creating a work that contains 5 pieces, which is an odd number.  I could not find a side view of this installation, but it definitely adds a halfway point in the measured distances.  This shows how de Maria was adding his own spin on minimalist art, and is possibly a reflection of his move towards land art.

Clyfford Still Paper, Madison Rupp

The Showcased Brilliance of Clyfford Still

Clyfford Still has always been a mysterious figure in the art world.  With humble beginnings in rural North Dakota and Washington, Still’s talent and style brought him to the ranks of famous mid-century painters.  Yet he still remained an enigma.  As the art world has come to resemble Hollywood, Clyfford Still has denied himself the celebrity status of his peers and denied the public of most of his work.  Until now.  With the opening of the Clyfford Still museum in November, the world has come to recognize this man as a talent that changed the course of modern art and a pioneer of Abstract Expressionism.  The Clyfford Still museum highlights the artist’s vision by exclusively displaying Still’s works and by organizing them into discrete groups based on geography, which gives a rough chronology.  In seeing Still’s work as a cohesive whole, the viewer gains a better understanding not only of the artist’s process, but of the man’s genius.

Madison Rupp, Intellectual Profile

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

I am in my Junior Year, majoring in Art History (and possibly doubling in Studio), minoring in Evolutionary Biology, and getting a certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies.  I am specifically interested in Modern and Contemporary art, so this class is especially exciting to me.

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Smith, “What is Contemporary Art?”

According to Terry Smith’s article, “What is Contemporary Art?”, it is a challenge for many to define Contemporary Art.  At the most basic level, Smith dictates that Contemporary Art is the discourse through which art produced today is presented to itself and its designated audience.  It is a culture within itself, with its own celebrities and jargon, and importantly, its own distinct institutions.  Contemporary art is self definitive: it is whatever we say it is, and it evolves according to our own opinions.  Contemporary art institutions have become a fixture in both global and local cultures, but also economies.  It is a commodity that is closely tied with high culture tastes, and often acts as a trendsetter.

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