Category: "Art"

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18/01/09

  11:53:00 am, by   , 297 words  
Categories: Art, Collage, Painting

THE MAD ARTIST AND HIS WIFE

Very often people ask my wife if it isn’t too hard for her to live with a man like me (nobody asks me about my wife). Well, the fact that we have been married for over 20 years now seems to prove the contrary. But she might be a masochist or my slave. So let’s talk about the idea behind that question. It is the romantic view that the work of art and the artist are the same, the work being the mirror of his soul, or mind. In literature this is known as the theory of reflection, saying that a novel reflects for instance the social conditions etc. Or in psychoanalysis, consider C.G.Jung’s remark about modern art and Picasso, which states that unconventional forms must be seen as the expression of deep rooted chaotic sentiments. Deformation of the “natural” form (= the usual way of representing things) is seen as the expression of an inner disorder – the extreme being madness – revealing deep suffering. And this can happen (Van Gogh) but this direct link between the author and his work is not automatic. Think of sexual fantasies: if they were the expression of our inner disorder, we might justify the existence of some sort of Inquisition because of the danger they would represent.
So, what’s about me? I would describe myself as quite balanced in character,as terribly normal. What I experiment in art has no relationship to my character, save my curiosity and joy of playing with pictures. I am not my picture, my "children" are different from me. But I am the (artistic) child of Picasso. Going back to 19th century academism, to a sort of idealized form would be boring, sterile. I feel myself as an explorer of new forms, new possibilities in art. Is that insane?

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16/01/09

  03:48:26 pm, by   , 194 words  
Categories: Art, Collage, Painting

GLUE AT SAATCHI'S

Aragon’s famous word: “It’s not the glue which makes the collage” means that the content of a collage is independent from its material. In the same way we can say that it is not the material that matters but how it is employed.
This struck me when reading the report on the latest Saatchi exhibition. A chinese artist, Zhang Huan is praised for his use of “incense ash collected from Shanghai temples; a laboriously involved process of weekly gathering and sorting, isolating the vestiges into the indexical categories of texture and pigmentation which Zhang uses to 'paint' his images. This medium has multiple significations: it is the actual substance of prayers, the dust of death and rebirth, the allegorical weight of spirits. Emitting an overwhelming scent throughout the gallery space these pieces recycle the hopes and wishes of others, sharing a cathartic ambience of cleansing and purity.” .

What do we exactly SEE? A photographic painting. Nothing more, nothing less. So it is the “glue” that makes the artwork here.
Nothing against that. And the artist is very skilful, his painting nifty. His intentions surely of high standard. But still, as Aragon says…

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12/01/09

  08:40:00 am, by   , 378 words  
Categories: Art, Collage, Painting

CRISIS AND ME

Everybody speaks about the economical crisis, just like wakening up from a nice and comfortable dream. As if things were to go on like they were before. As if one might speculate on the future. In my eyes, the crisis is only a moment of lucidity, where illusions are confronted with reality. (Indeed, as Samuel Johnson said : “When speculation has done its worst, two and two still make four”.
Another crisis is the changed status of art itself, from a kind of elitist ideal to a luxury brand, artists changing from giants into commercial labels. We can deplore it but we can't change it. For the traditional artists inoculated with artistic purity, this race for money looks like treachery. Though I tend to distrust their high ideals, I am certain that many of them were at least firmly attached to the humanistic tradition. And nowadays? No doubt, artists are very instructed, they graduate from universities. But I ask myself if they cultivate a fresh look on art, like a child for example. The worst example for me are Chinese neo-pop artists, whitewashing the old Western standards.

On a personal level, as an artist, I am familiar with crisis, because I experience it with every work I am on. I mean that while painting or gluing, I am seized by doubt. I am questioning myself about originality, quality of inspiration, the point of making another collage or painting. In spite of being in a dream-like state, I am unavoidably depicted in my work. I cannot avoid looking at a mirror, whatever it reflects.

Would it be better to be stuck in complete illusion, as many artists are? To me, it would sound false, I would feel like performing in a soap opera (like at a vernissage). I must admit that this would be much more comfortable, if only I could lock out my conscience. But then, what would my works look like?

Back to crisis: in Mario and the Magician Thomas Mann shows how a manipulator makes illusions. A contemporary example is Bernie Madoff, with whom I share the first name and a bit of his origins. But whereas he would bewitch the rich to get their money, I only want to charm your minds, for pleasure and contemplation.

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09/01/09

  06:45:00 am, by   , 555 words  
Categories: Non catégorisé, Art, Collage, Painting

COLLAGE & POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

Most paintings are politically acceptable, at least for an open minded or instructed person. If they weren't, just let time pass by and, oh wonder, they loose their power of disturbance. Let's take Manet's Déjeuner sur l'herbe, a scandal in 1863. And now? Maybe it would be an affair in Teheran, but not in our Western countries. Painters have a hell of a time now to shock the public, because we have learned to accept anything from art. The only shocking media is photo or video or sometimes theatre, because of the universal belief that they directly, without human intervention, reflect reality. So, artists commit shocking photos and very disturbing videos. Does that mean that paintings are less interesting now than photos or videos? No, if artists accept the fact that painting is relatively innocuous to society and that if they want to shock, to wake up, to focus on unexpected aspects of visual esperience, they should reflect on the choice of their media. This is what I did in the sixties. I looked at my paintings, then at my collages and found the latter more exhilarating. The language of collage is understood by all and the elements I extract from magazines are photos or art reproductions. So I get a mix of respectability ("painting") and of reality ("photo"), chic and shock if you want. And the manipulation of the photographic fragments gives me some mastery over the flood of printed matter, the freedom of how I associate them and about I want to talk. My subjects? They are of our time because they come from fresh magazines,they are ore have been news. In collage, I can speak about everything that's hot, and to everybody, instructed or not. In painting I conversewith the masters, with museums, with art history to connoisseurs. So I came to combine painting with collage. And I noticed that, under the influence of collage, my paintings began to look fresher, more vivid, as coming alive. Often I ask myself if I am such a bad painter that I couldn't even kiss the feet of let's say Picasso. This is surely true. But still, the fact remains that paintings don't give me the link to what's going on now, they don't provide the kick collage does. Strange indeed, because it is made of prints, secondary stuff.
(Thanks to my friend Markus Haller for reviewing this post)

Can collage save the world? No. Can collage change the world? No. Can collage be used for propaganda? No (I know, the soviets tried so, but they soon preferred a more traditional way of illustrating political ideas, like all dictatorships). Let's play a little game and try to associate: Pop art & Mao ? Yes, no problem (Warhol who even thought of many other dictators as subjects), Jeff Koons and … maybe Mugabe in a golden, polished giant blowup? Yes, possible. Collage and Putin? Collage glorifying a dictator? You bet. A contradiction in pics. You do it and your end is near. Christian symbols in plastic, neon, balloon … yes, why not. In collage? Rather not as you cannot annoy and approve at the same time.

This shows that collage is something very special by itself. The only thing to do is to be aware of that and not to transform collage into a photo-mosaic from holydays or a quilt.

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07/01/09

  04:18:00 am, by   , 256 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

COPYRIGHT

Is it defendable using pictures made by others? Luckily, legislation defines the final art work as creation without any obligation to its sources. So don't bother about it, just go
My own justification is the transitory character of the pictures which are my raw material. There is a growing tendency to protect everything in order to obtain royalties, but I am against it. Art cannot exist without freedom and without exchanges between artists – dead or alive. Bach is a famous example for his “borrowings” (his transcriptions), Picasso for his variations on famous paintings. Or in more recent times L.Berio and his musical collages.
Another question concerns meme hacking. For me, perverting a work of art shows its stereotypes or refreshes the work which is weakened by overreproduction. Anyway, the original remains visible in the new collage but gains a new meaning. Here it is the perversion of a painting celebrating the king of France.

Another example is my former streetwork, when I was working on billboards in Geneva/
This work was very exciting and was not motived by political reasons, but for sport and fun. I loved the work on big sized posters. I learned by this work to let my works go, as they remained on the board for a couple of days only.As for the pictures displayed on my site, they are free of copyright.Because I want to share them. Their resolution is unsufficient to make orginal-like reproductions. I hate art sites with watermarks on the pictures. Either you show them or you don't.

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  02:40:00 am, by   , 254 words  
Categories: Non catégorisé, Art, Collage

Collage: illustration or construction

For me, there are two kinds of collages: illustration and construction.
Illustration is the most widespread kind. Techniques:
You simply insert some alien element null in a picture - for ex. you take a diver and put him into a normal landscape;
you make changements in scale, like a giant insect etc.;
you put things upside down.
Generally, in this kind of picture, you have a relatively coherent space (cf. surrealistic pictures).

Construction has to do with edges and rimes. It's about assembling forms and thus create new associations, like in composed words. I usually speak of grafts. Techniques:
you assemble different items while paying attention to their borders;
you work with "rimes", repetition of forms from different objects.
With this kind of collage, you necessarily distort the pictorial space. For the onlooker, it means that he has to decide which form he will privilege, because the relationship between subject and background ist disturbed.
What's the interest in disturbing the poor onlooker, already disturbed by contemporary art?
Because of the conventional aspect of illustration, which - at least in my eyes - comforts the onlooker in his way of seeing. Whereas for me collage wants to change the ways of seeing, as all great art has always done. Not for mere provocation, but in order to open new mental spaces. The danger in doing it is to confuse the onlooker too much, like in conceptual art for ex. Here is the strength of magazine collage: the material is already familiar, it's the cut&and assemblage which makes is alien.

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06/01/09

  07:31:20 am, by   , 269 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

Collage in education: the school of freedom and pleasure

I have been in education for many years, mainly teaching art in its various forms. My last experience, which is not yet finished, is work together with people having psychiatric difficulties. I initiated collage on works that were already done by pastel. We worked in tandem and I suggested some adjunctions from magazines. It worked really well and everybody was happy.
This startled me because psychologists used to tell me in the past that collage was a risky tool: it might disturb and frighten fragile minds, it would be better to paint or draw.
This is a very common prejudice. Painting and drawing, or clay modelling etc. are seen as reflecting reality, as a constructive means. Collage, on the other hand, is seen as destructive because of its use of fragments.
This idea doesn't withstand logic. Painting does exactly the same - brushstrokes, dots, different elements assemble in a way collage does. As for the originality of painting/drawing vs. collage, just look at real works and you'll see how many element are "loans" from other paintings, photographs etc.
The only difference ist the facility of making a collage without any artistic "gift",freed from school memories and the repeated experience of failure when drawing or painting. Aren't adult people often drawing like 5 years old children and ashamed of that?
The pleasure you can have with collage and seeing the result, is the discovery of the own creativity. It is the experience of creative power which made my people so happy, the experience of total freedom, of daring associations they would never make consciously. Who can be afraid of that?

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04/01/09

  04:52:17 pm, by   , 270 words  
Categories: Art, Collage, Painting

Art and money

Once you have chosen collage as your main means of expression, you have made some sort of vow of poverty. Because, with a little exaggeration, collage is made of crap, won't last for centuries, is an expression for children or decoration...
I believe that many collage artists are wannabe painters: they want to be considered as full artists (cf. the complaints in the collage blogs). They do not assume their outsider status. So collage won't make us rich in $ but in creative possibilities. Because collage is more interesting than still life, nudes or other academic disciplines.
On my site and in various exhibitions, I offered my collages (A4) for approx. 80$ piece and had not much success with it. I conclude from that that price is not the real reason to buy a piece of art but very profound motivations . Surely one of them is status. So, what could collage offer to the potential buyer? Anti-status: underground art, anti-art attitude, but we can see that most collectors want neo-pop like Koons or others. This art is fashionable, not anti-art but yes-art.
So the future of collage itself is brilliant as a technique, but not as an objet de luxe. Better make a crystal skull with diamonds (Damien Hirst) than a vulgar sheet of paper with torn paper fragments. Or paint some nurse (Richard Prince) in a fashionable style. Or sign chinese.
So, for me, collage is outsider art and I want this to be seen in my pictures. So long so good for art. And the money? Well, I have made it till now without wealth, guess it won't change now.

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03/01/09

  07:21:00 pm, by   , 97 words  
Categories: Non catégorisé, Art, Collage

Humor

It happens quite often that when achieving a collage, I must laugh or at least smile because the picture looks witty. Why? Surely because of the strange assemblage of heteroclite objects (see the famous definition of Lautréamont). Is it allowed in painting? Generally, one usually finds irony or derision today. Funny pictures come mostly from designers, I think. Is it because artists think themselves so important? In my collages, I like to go from one extreme to the other. Being a humorist would change me into an amuser. In my eyes, art can be more than that.

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  10:17:34, par   , 152 mots  
Catégories: Non catégorisé, Art, Collage, Painting

Collage vs. painting

I want to reflect here on collage and my way of making them. Enjoy.

Citation of Cesar Domela," a photo shows an object, whereas the photomontage presents an idea."

It seems to me that this definition hits the point.

Collage is a language for everybody, clear, strong, easily comprehensible
. It may be used for propaganda as under communism, but it can also be subversive, by the new meaning created with existing images.
In my conception of collage, this is the main point. Painting seems to me too much rooted in tradition, failing to free itself from it. Even the works of Picasso, displayed in Paris (Picasso and the masters) show this effort. Picasso creates very powerful works, but they are fundamentally linked to tradition.
When I am making a collage, I feel much freer than in a painting, where I have to struggle a lot like in one of my last paintings

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Blog on art, centered on collage. It is meant as a sort of logbook of my creative work.

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