Visiting Artist Janine Antoni – Anna Cook

Janine Antoni visited us at CU Boulder on March 6th, 2012. Having previously studied Antoni, I already had an admiration for her work, but meeting the artist in person was far more fascinating than her ART21 video.

Antoni began the lecture by discussing some of her earlier works, the ones, which led to her fame. Pieces such as Gnaw (1992) and Lick and Lather (1994) put Antoni in a celebrity status in the art world. Why we see this sudden popularity is partly attributed to Antoni’s “hands on” approach to creating her work. I use the term “hands on” loosely because, on the contrary, Antoni seems to use everything else. For Gnaw, Antoni formed 600 pounds of chocolate and lard and slowly “gnawed” away at the blocks. With each bite she took, Antoni saved the chocolate and lard for the creation of “heart-shaped packages” and ruby red lipstick. These items are all about seduction, about beauty and being enticed. We are seduced by our comforts, and by our comfort foods, but we wish to seduce others with our beauty. Using her own teeth, she showed how these things “gnaw” at us. Similarly, Lick and Lather is composed by a series of busts, self-portraits that Antoni shad slowly withered away by licking at or bathing with.

Her pieces are so personal and conceptual. They seem to be a blend of modernism and post-modernism. She creates pieces that are both conceptually sound and aesthetically pleasing, and with her hands on approach, she is actively involved with her art. She is no Jeff Koons.

In 2001, Antoni created the piece titled Cradle, which involved various scooping items placed within one another, similarly to a Russian doll. Despite the industrial aesthetic to this piece, there is a maternal softness to it. Upon reaching the smallest object we see a baby spoon, quant and petite. It brings the viewer back to the memories of being held, “cradled,” even. Antoni seemed to best identify with maternal imagery, often mixed with industrial aesthetic, juxtaposing her themes. It is similar to many other postmodernist artists who actively intertwine math and sciences with their art.

Antoni has also worked particularly closely to cattle. In her piece 2038 (2000), Janine submerged herself into a trowel of water meant for cattle. The piece is centered in a barn, and according to Antoni, it was difficult to achieve a picture that captured what she was going for. Despite the industrial agrarian setting for this piece, there is also a defined tenderness in it. Antoni’s expression is not only subdued, but unusually seductive. In this piece she acts as a mother, providing the milk to the cow that was once given to her by the cow. It is an abstract statement about what is provided to us and returning that to nature.

In another piece, titled Saddle (2000), Antoni use a wet cowhide to create a mold of herself crawling on the ground. The pose itself is quite submissive, indicating something animalistic. The dried mold appears like a phantom, unsettling and horrific: something as soft as skin used to create something so unnerving to the viewer and once again we see the juxtaposed forces of Antoni’s meanings.

One of Antoni’s more individual works, titled Touch (2002), is a DVD installation, which shows the artist crossing a tight rope over the horizon of the ocean. As Antoni went on with her presentation, I noticed that there was something distinctly different about her earlier works and her later works. As time has gone on, the pieces have become far more personalized, not just about society but about Antoni’s life.

The final piece Antoni presented was If I Die Before I Wake (mother’s hand meets daughter’s hand in prayer). The piece was made in 2004, one of Antoni’s latest works. The piece is an impression of her hands as well as her mother’s hands, pressed together as if in a prayer. Her hands are still young, with few wrinkles or veins, but her mother’s have become aged. The hands are so similar, but still so very different. They are separated by time, but held together by motherhood and their religious beliefs. In some ways, we could see the piece as overdone and even cheesy. In another sense though, its simplicity strikes us at the core and reminds us of our mothers or perhaps that we inherit our religious views, often via our mothers.

After the presentation, I met Antoni and gave her a handshake. She was a soft spoken woman, but she seemed rather edgy as well, similarly to her art. Though I am biased, Antoni is one of the most hands on artists of this generation, using motherhood, society, and seduction to make a statement. She is perhaps the most inspiring artist I have seen thus far and I am excited to see what she creates in the future.





“THE COLLECTION.” The Museum of Modern Art, 2010. Web. 26 Apr. 2012. <|A:AR:E:1>.

“Janine Antoni Catalogue.” Fine Art, Decorative Art, and Design. Artnet Worldwide Corporation, 2010. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <;.

Visiting Artist Lawrence Argent – Anna Cook

On April 18th, I went to the Denver Art Museum to see Lawrence Argent. Many know this public artist as the man who created the giant blue bear outside of the Denver Convention Center. His work has been mostly centered in Denver, Aspen, and Fort Collins. Though, within recent years as Argent as fallen under the public eye, he has created pieces in Houston and Sacramento. Argent was significantly different than the other visiting artist I saw, Janine Antoni. His approach to creating art is using other workers, more so than himself. He comes up with the concepts and the designs behind his pieces, but uses teams of workers to create them. In some ways, his work is conceptual but he is, in my opinion, far more aesthetic based than conceptual and the reason for this is the concepts he means to create are our own. Continue reading

Annie Davis Visiting Artist Paper

Janine Antoni

            Janine Antoni visited the University of Colorado on March 6th to talk about her artwork. She earned her BA from Sarah Lawrence College, her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and moved on to acquire many achievements such as the Guggenheim Fellowship. Antoni works in many mediums, but most know her for her installations and performance pieces.

Continue reading