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–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:

Readings for Tuesday?

The Ramirez Highly Critical Utopia reading is very hard to see. I’m not sure if it is just my devices but I’ve tried on both my computer and ipad and most of the text is unreadable.

“White Cube” and “Critique of Institutions” Essay by Jordan Dawson

Too rarely is the institution of an art gallery examined. Does the place where art is put not become a piece of the art itself? O’Doherty claims that it does in his essay the “White Cube.” This is difficult to accept. To many, modern museums can seem stubbornly strict, which is true to a certain extent. It abides by a particular formula of objectivity. Uniformity. The intention is to attract no attention. The focus is the art. The rest is nothing but context. However, this is precisely where O’Doherty finds value. Continue reading

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 Difficulites

I can’t seem to get access to the reading for Tuesday.  It keeps telling me that I need to be logged in to see it but I am logged in so it doesn’t make sense.  I have tried logging out and logging back in but that hasn’t helped.

Technical Difficulties


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


New readings: Lawrence Weiner and Postmodernism

If you did the Sam Gathercole reading for Week 4, do yourself a favor and earn extra-credit for it by posting a response.

As an optional reading, I have uploaded an essay I wrote on a recent installation by Lawrence Weiner in Rome, Quid pro Quo (it’s on the bottom of the post, entitled The Stones of Rome).

The readings for Week 5 are up. It is quite a load; please allow enough time. We will talk about them on Thursday.

There are a number of optional readings available on the 1970s: I recommend Irving Sandler, The Art World in the 1970s, and Kim Levin, The State of the Art.