Wednesday, November 22, 2006

William J. Marrazzo to Lead Effort to Keep Gross Clinic in Philly

The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts announced today that WHYY President & CEO William J. Marrazzo will "convene and lead a committee of national cultural, civic, and community leaders to broaden the public’s understanding of the social and artistic importance of Thomas Eakins’ 1875 masterpiece, The Gross Clinic, and to ensure it stays in Philadelphia."

According to the news release, "Marrazzo will convene the group, members of which will be announced in the next few days. The members will be national and regional leaders who share the view that The Gross Clinic should remain in Philadelphia, the city in which it was painted."

"I am honored to have been called upon to facilitate the process of generating a dialogue," Marrazzo said. "I feel passionate about the importance of this artwork, and the richness of its history and importance to the city. For me, it is a surrogate of what a mature American city stands for. Projects like this committee represent what it takes for a community to become the next great American city by encouraging civic engagement about a city’s history, and what it means for the present and the future."

WHYY is the leading public broadcasting station in the greater Philadelphia region, and they also offer the Arts & Culture blog called The Sixth Square.

On Thursday, November 30th at 10PM, WHYY will air its documentary from 2001: Thomas Eakins: Scenes From Modern Life.

Lucien Freud Rules in YBAland

German-born British representational painter Lucien Freud has been voted as Britain's favorite artist "in a survey of the UK artistic community."

According to the BBC story:

"He beat the likes of Rembrandt and Van Gogh - who also made the top ten - to become the artists' favourite artist.

Other modern day giants such as Howard Hodgkin and David Hockney also featured in the poll, carried out by The Great Art Fair.

But so-called Young British Artists such as Tracey Emin, Chris Ofili and Damien Hirst were overlooked.

Hirst, who won the Turner Prize in 1995, garnered only one vote from the 500 artists polled, while Emin and Ofili failed to get a single nod, although 70% of the top ten artists are still alive."
How else does one say to those YBA's: "You are so yesterday!"

The Top 10 Artists, according to the survey were:

1. Lucien Freud
2. Howard Hodgkin
3. David Hockney
4. JMW Turner
5. Antoni Tapies
6. Rembrandt
7. Jack Vettriano
8. Barbara Rae
9. Frank Auerbach
10. Van Gogh

The real bad boy of British art, the plebian ex-miner and self-taught Scottish painter Jack Vettriano (apparently the world's best selling artist), who is both despised and ignored by the British art establishment while he laughs all the way to the bank and gets great publicity for his work as a result of their dislike of him and his work, made the list once again, this time as the 7th place artist.

Vettriano might as well not exist in the eyes of British museums and the hot curators of the upper crust of the British arts cabal, and yet this somewhat harsh man seems to have touched not only the nerve of the British art establishment, but also the pocketbooks of both art collectors and poster-buyers all over the world, including the US.
Jack Vettriano
I think of Vettriano as the planet's counterbalance to Thomas Kinkaid. They are both hugely popular with the public, but while Kinkaid delivers saccharine scenery ad nauseum, Vettriano delivers an immense range of work that has proven to be both popular and often edgy, as his darkly sexual work testifies.

If an American museum curator had the balls to give the world's best selling artist his first museum show, it would not only be immensely popular, but also create an amazing storm of publicity, arguing and debate as American elitists join forces with their Brit counterparts, while the public votes with their attendance records. It would also plant the opinion that museum are public spaces, not the playground of the rich and snobby.

I can almost smell the gunpowder of debate between those who say that he's nothing but a glorified illustrator, and those who say that he's a sexist pig, and those who say that he's a "fill in the lines" painter, and those who say he's just an ex-miner who has never been educated, and those who pay millions for his paintings at auction, and the Hollywood illuminati, who curiously enough, are some of his biggest defenders and collectors.

But I daydream, as I know not of a single museum director, or curator, who even looks in the direction of where the Vettrianos of this world exist.

The Great Art Fair, the UK's largest art show, will be held at London's Alexandra Palace from 30 November to 3 December, 2006.

Washington City Paper hires new Arts Editor

From: Erik Wemple
Date: November 21, 2006 2:44:30 PM EST
Subject: New Arts Editor

Washington City Paper editorial managers are excited to announce the hiring of Mark Athitakis as our new arts editor. Mark comes to us from a familiar place. The Chicago Reader has employed Mark as an assistant editor since October 2004, and in that time Mark has done everything his people have asked and more. He's been involved in the Reader's Web makeover and is a champion of clean, strong narrative copy. The guy came in here with barely a couple day's notice and produced an outstanding critique of our arts coverage and showed a command of all that you must know to be an arts editor in a town like D.C. He'll be starting shortly after the New Year.

Katie Tuss on Mark Cameron Boyd at the Katzen

Logocentric Playground at the Katzen

By Katie Tuss

Washington area based artist Mark Cameron Boyd has been using his own deconstructed, re-contextualized sentences as the subject of his current body of work since 2003. Boyd’s thoughtful, challenging pieces utilize “text as a language for painting” while questioning the accepted systems of meaning and conventional constructs of art and communication.

In the installation Logocentric Playground, currently on view at the Katzen Arts Center, Boyd encourages visitors to engage him in an unspoken conversation using any of the three blackboards in the first floor gallery space. The boards display handwritten, original text by Boyd in red and white chalk.

Employing painter’s tape in his signature erasure method, Boyd obscures either the top or bottom of the upper case letters in each sentence. Crisp black lines alternate horizontally between truncated peaks of the letter “A” and severed curves of the letter “P.” Bisected red words meet bisected white letters, one on top of the other, altering the artist’s initial transcription.

A piece of chalk, but no eraser, can be found underneath each blackboard. Seemingly without hesitation Katzen Center visitors have picked up the artist’s discourse.

Viewers have interpreted the inconclusive text by completing interrupted letters and adding words and original symbols above, on top of, and around Boyd’s phrases.

Despite the interactive component of the piece, it doesn’t require any contribution to the installation to appreciate the original enigmatic markings and the development of Boyd’s relationship with the viewer and the piece over time.

Boyd plans on returning to Logocentric Playground at least once a week to remove, restore, and respond to his conversation partners. The installation's progress can be tracked on the artist’s Web site.

Logocentric Playground is on view through December 15, 2006.

Disclaimer: I (Lenny not Katie), in the past, have curated Boyd's work into several shows focused on "text."