Thursday, September 23, 2004

Just found a great new BLOG: Grammar.police - please go visit often.

One of the most eloquent and qualified art critics in our region, Dr. Claudia Rousseau, delivers a third review of our current exhibition of paintings by controversial GMU Professor Chawky Frenn.

Read the earlier Washington Post review here and the Washington City Paper profile of Frenn here.

AJ points to a story in The Guardian that reveals that Dinos and Jake Chapman are about to rebuild one of their dioramas that was destroyed in the Momart storage unit fire in London last May.

That makes an analysis I made a while back about the infuriating "high art" double standards (applied not only to artists, but also to processes and art). These double standards are even more infuriating as one discovers more and more variations upon the same theme. Here it is again:

The Theme:
J. Seward Johnson is a very rich man and his "art" has been brutalized by the press everywhere. I don't like Mr. Seward's work, but the main reason given in the reviewing of his work is not that Seward is a bad guy (he's very generous with his wealth towards the art world) or even a bad sculptor, but that his concept of taking someone else's two-dimensional art works - in Seward's latest case the Impressionists - and making them into a three dimensional "new" work is both kitschy and reprehensible.

The Hypocrisy:
1. As I whined about it before, the British artist brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman's best known works are based on the famous Goya etchings Disasters of War. Initially they used plastic figures to re-create Goya in a miniature three-dimensional form, and like Johnson (later on), one of these 83 scenes became a life-sized version using mannequins. Yet the Chapmans are darlings of the art world and were favorites in the last Tate show.

2. Whitney Biennial selectee Eve Sussman's "art" is to take Velasquez's Las Meninas and turn it into "ten minutes of a costume-drama feature film." It was actually quite good by the way.

3. Jane Simpson is one of's Artists to Watch for 2004. Her stellar reputation in the artworld has been acquired partially by her creation of sculptures based on Giorgio Morandi paintings.

Am I the only one who sees that all of these people are essentially working the same generic concept as J. Seward Johnson - but unlike Johnson, they are being lauded and praised?

What am I missing here?

Take the Encarta Art Quiz here.

Today's Washington Post has a really.... uh... odd Roxanne-Roberts-type article by "Galleries" critic Jessica Dawson about "Tony and Heather Podesta [being] a Study in Power Collecting."

"But the Podestas' stock of artists know well the benefits of securing such politically connected patronage. Uniquely capable of advocating for their artists using the lobbying skills of their day jobs, Tony and Heather can secure access, lend advice and connect artists to curators and coveted museum shows. It's backing more valuable, at times, than dollars.

...To keep themselves in pictures, Tony and Heather jet to art fairs and biennials from Sao Paolo to San Sebastian -- often just for the weekend. Theirs is a life led breathlessly, moving from airport to dinner party. The art is an extravagance that occasionally gives Heather pause.

... During last year's Venice Biennale, they threw parties night after night, renting out their favorite restaurant and packing it with artists and a gallerist or two. Here in Washington, they've hosted art parties with Patricia Puccini, Cathy de Monchaux, Anna Gaskell, Frank Thiel, Annee Olofsson, Nikki Lee and others. Curators from the Hirshhorn Museum and Corcoran Gallery of Art, top Washington collectors and the city's best dealers regularly show up. Podesta parties are where connections are made."
So that's where those Hirshhorn and Corcoran curators are hanging out!

Anyway... inside the Style section, Jessica then delivers a surprisingly bland[ish] review of Avish Khebrehzadeh's show at Conner Contemporary Art, calling it "sweet and bracingly sentimental" with a weird tie-in to her Podesta article.

The review left me thoroughly confused. I've seen this show and to me it simply reflects the sudden discovery by the upper crust "high art" world of world-class artists that can actually draw.

Curators and critics here seem to be still trying to catch up to the fact that drawing is hot!