Kojo Griffin, probably the highest profile contemporary artist living in Atlanta, was handed an early Christmas present when his uptown Manhattan dealer, Mitchell-Innes & Nash announced that they were opening a 4000 sq. ft. space in Chelsea in the fall of 2005. The space, now occupied by soon-to-be-closing Gorney, Bravin + Lee is located on 26th street in New York between 10th & 11th Avenue. Even better, Jay Gorney, a fixture on the contemporary art scene in NYC for the last 20 years will join MI&N to operate the space and bring some of GB+L's roster of artists with him, including Catherine Opie. Griffin now finds himself with a newly transformed dealer, a key Chelsea location, an influential new member of the MI&N staff and a a fresh infusion of first rate artists into the MI&N stable which formerly has been comprised of lots of dead people. This all bodes extremely well for Griffin's career as does the recent addition to the MI&N artist roster of Micheal Bevilacqua. Griffins next solo show will most likely be in the new Chelsea space in early 2006. Jay Gorney has also been talking to former Atlantan Chris Verene, albeit informally, but may now be in the position to offer Verene a slot in the MI&N stable...but I'm just speculating here.
Every month I'm going to list my "best buy": the best piece of art I could find on the net for sale under $1,000. This month it is Glenn Brown's giclee print at the Serpentine Gallery in London. The signed and numbered print measures about 20 x 30 inches and is in a not-too-high edition of 200. Brown often uses the giclee process for creating his prints, so in this case, the giclee should not scare you away. I'm a big Glenn Brown fan....I love art that is visually arresting and loaded with theory. I like Vik Muniz too. The price is a mere £250, about $450 plus shipping.
Saw this bit on artnet: The High Museum of Art has announced a new national award to recognize and support exceptional African American artists. The $25,000 David C. Driskell Prize, named after the African American artist, is slated to be awarded on Mar. 7, 2005.
I love to bash the High, but there is nothing to bash here. I'll have to wait until they actually start awarding the prize.
A recent article by Vince Aletti in the Village Voice talked about the resurgence of realism in photography and observed that "genuine innovation in conceptual, constructed, abstract, and digitally generated photography has come to a virtual standstill". This got me to thinking about why this is and wondered if it had something to do with the traditional notion of what makes a photograph a photograph. Further I wondered whether there are inherent criteria that make a photograph a work of art separate from criteria in other artistic mediums. Or should all art in all mediums be evaluated by the same criteria? I tend to think that there are some criteria (whether explicitly statable or not) that apply to all mediums and others that that apply to a particular medium uniquely. And even further into the worm hole: when does a photograph stray so far from its traditional basis that the special criteria that apply only to photographs no longer serve as a useful evaluation tool? Three examples explain this better: 1. Jeff Wall: Jeff Wall creates photographs (The Flooded Grave here) that he refers to as "near realism" where multiple photographs are composited together to form a seamless and sometimes completely realistic image. Certainly Wall has abandoned Bresson's notion of the "decisive moment" a criteria that is a crucial evaluation tool for many photos. Further, the pride that many photographers take in composing the image completely within the viewfinder is of little concern to Wall either. I would imagine that he composes his images even before he starts. 2. Anthony Goicolea: Goicolea works in the same fashion as Wall, but abandons the idea of "near realism" in favor of a highly cinematic image that usually features his own image repeated several times throughout the picture. In several of his photos, the digital manipulation is apparent. I wonder if a more appropriate criteria to evaluate Goicolea's work is that applied to Raushenberg's collage pieces or Picasso's synthetic cubism....Goicolea's pictures seem more similar to that work than to Walker Evans or William Eggleston. 3. Craig Kalpakjian: Kalpakjian's images are completely computer generated and then printed using a traditional photographic process. There is no camera used. The end result though, is a highly realistic looking image. But how can these be photos? Perhaps that is the art itself: an image that is so realistic that the viewer must confront it as a photo even though it is not.
In the end, none of this may matter. But I believe that the notion that a photograph sometimes is not a photograph may be a core reason that the conceptualists Aletti refers to have hit a dead end.
The intelligentsia of the Atlanta art scene has consistently dismissed the canine sculptures by Mary Engel as more craft than art, lacking any real conceptual depth. I've always had a much higher opinion of the work in that certain crafts when executed in an extraordinary fashion, transcend the world of craft and enter the world of fine art (the quilts of Gees Bend are a fine example). At her latest show at Marcia Wood Gallery Engel erases any doubt that her sculptures belong in the realm of fine art. In past shows her works were highly sentimental, while this time around they seem to be more about sentimentality itself. The postures of her dogs weighed down by dozens of porcelain figurines of birds, cats dogs and other animals evoke more of an intellectual than emotional response. It seems that the figurines are in conflict with the dog itself leaving the viewer the task of reconciling this conflict with his or her internal reaction to the separate elements of the dogs and their adornments.
The High Museum's annual Photo Forum party was held at Pam Alexander's home this Sunday. Lots of Atlanta art world insiders attended, from collectors Joe Massey and Eric & Bonnie Fishman to Atlanta artist Scott Ingram as well as gallery owners Brian Holcombe (Saltworks) and Marilyn Kiang (Kiang Gallery). Its my first event shoot and my pix were lousy, but here are a few:
I have to admit that I didn't get out as much this year as in past years, so I'm officially entitling my list "My Ten Favorite Art Experiences of 2004". The list ranges from art exhibits to individual artworks to books and is not meant to be a "best of" list...just my favorites. 1. Opening night of "This is the Future" an exhibit organized by the artist collective Dos Pestaneos at Saltworks Gallery, Atlanta. An art circus, opening night featured kickboxers fighting to an avant garde electric guitar performance and women inside a sheer octagonal sphere crocheting artworks which would then be attached to string and travel across the gallery in tubes for sale at the gift shop. 2.Bernd & Hilla Becher at Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Quite possibly the most beautifully installed exhibition I have ever seen, the show displayed all the Becher's typologies in gridded blocks in spare white spaces. I left the exhibit reminded more of Sol Lewitt and Agnes Marin than of any of the Becher's students. 3. Glenn Brown at Gagosian, New York. So elegant and freaky. 4. Vik Muniz, Bette Davis, from Pictures of Diamonds. The ogling over "all those diamonds" at the Armory Show proves Vik's point about the substituted power of a photograph. Vik's choice of diamonds also hints that he perhaps has reached a zenith in his "Pictures of" series. Hopefully we'll see a new direction from him the next time around. 5. Kathryn Refi, Driving Routes, at Solomon Projects, Atlanta. Displayed in a grid to resemble a calender page, Refi's thirty-one line drawings represent the driving routes she took every day in a particular month. 6. Chris Verene, Crystal at Eighteen (at left), the Contemporary, Atlanta. Verene's mid career survey may have been a little incohesive to those not already familiar with his work, but his new Galesburg photos were right on the money. 7. Jim Hodges cut photograph at the Whitney Biennial, New York. A simple action that added dazzling beauty and complexity to Hodge's photograph of a tree. 8. Abelardo Morell, Camera Obscura (the book). At first there is nothing special about this collection of Morell's camera obscura images apart from the images themselves. The book, however, allows the viewer to look at the works upside down adding a new dimension of oddity. 9. Scott McFarland, Inspecting, Monte Clark Gallery, Toronto. McFarland is part of the new wave of conceptual photographers coming out of Vancouver. "Inspecting" is from his garden series that in part, explores the parallels between photography and gardening. In a way, the picture is a symbolic representation of the photographic process. 10. Kojo Griffin, "Now and Then" Announcement , Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. Kojo's show was very impressive but I thought the pop up invitation was delightful and fitting. Rumor has it that Griffin's anthropomorphic figures will not be present in his next body of work.
I got my December ArtForum last week which contains their annual top tens. The magazine asks cultural insiders to list their top tens in the fields of film, music, books and art. While the film contributors always list ten films and the music contributors always list ten recordings or concerts, the art contributors for some reason find it impossible keep their lists within the realm of the art world. For them, all of life is art (I can't deny this), but I think they are being overly self indulgent when they list such ridiculous things as: - Tom Ford's retirement from fashion (Thelma Golden #10) - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Pamela Lee #8) - DNA, "DNA on DNA" (a rock album) (Hamza Walker #10) - Second Deaths - as best I can tell, a concept arrived at by the writer himself (Daniel Birnbaum #10) - Pan Sonic (an electronica album) (Daniel Birnbaum #6 - easily the most self indulgent list) - Cold Mountain and Dogville (both films) (David Rimanelli #6, who I'm sure has pictures of Nicole Kidman taped to his cubicle wall) - Entourage (TV show) (Bruce Hainley #3)
I guess the tens of thousands of exhibits staged and hundreds of thousands of artworks displayed in 2004 weren't enough for these people to choose from.