Monday, September 29, 2008

Extra! Extra! Painting Found Old, Irrelevant!

I attended the Painting in the 21st Century Symposium at the Phillips Collection for roughly seven hours on Saturday. I was expecting more of a "...this is what's happening now and here's my idea of what we will see," from the art critical mass that was assembled.

Instead painting was criticized by one writer from WaPo as retrogressive and responsible for the lack of interesting discourse on painting. Er...? I suppose that's why we were all there, because there was nothing interesting that could be said. In the end I kept feeling like I was in a graduate critique where people were discussing things that have little bearing on Painters painting. Also painting's various little deaths were mentioned time and again. A new death awaits painting every other decade or so. I was also surprised to learn that the end of Art was not proclaimed by Donald Kuspit or Arthur Danto, but by Pliny. The Elder. Who knew?

There were three artist panelists. They were Laura Owens, Spencer Finch, a crowd favorite as far as I could tell, and Joseph Marioni. I would say all of their ten minute introductions revealed the gulf between artists and the critics, curators, academics that recontextualize their work into exhibitions and essays. The Painter spoke as you might expect a Minimalist painter to speak at such a time. A little grand, burdened with philosophicality, which is how I speak about art while drinking. Laura Owens spoke informally and seemed a little uncomfortable. Spencer Finch spoke informally and clearly, but both talked about what motivated them in their work. Owens: corporeality of looking, history, and images; Finch: light, science, ice cream, and Monet.

The last thing that I heard before my mind shut down for the afternoon/early evening, was Jonathan Feinberg quoting someone- see I was on the brink of mental collapse, I should know this! - by saying, "aesthetics is to artists what ornithology is to birds".


Matthew Mann - Pittore said...

The quote came from Barnett Newman I believe.

Rusty said...

Good for you. Last I checked, I couldn't even pronounce philosophicality while drinking.