Monday, November 30, 2009

Still No Mention of Cindy Sherman

First, I should state that I love Marilyn Minter's work currently on view at the CAC and in Los Angeles. I enjoy the work of nearly any artist who explores the hyper-sexualized and otherwise distorted representations of women in the media. And Minter's work is simply beautiful.

Though here is yet another review of Marilyn Minter's work that doesn't mention Cindy Sherman. A photographer like Minter, Sherman has focused on female types in the media. While Sherman shoots pictures of herself, she is not the subject of her photographs. She instead presents herself in costume depicting various women: the disheveled or frightened woman, the woman waiting for the phone to ring, even the pin-up. With these photographs, Sherman questions the roles of women presented in the media. Later, her work with mannequins includes disturbing representations. These seem to point more accusingly to the manipulation of women's bodies in fashion magazines, boutiques, and runways. These are not pretty pictures.

Because both Minter and Sherman share similar media and subject matter, I'm still surprised that no review has yet mentioned Sherman. Could it be that Cindy Sherman('s work) is not pretty enough?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Introducing a new Cincinnati Art Snob Logo

With the work of local graphic designer, Maya Drozdz of Visualingual, Cincinnati Art Snob now has a new logo. With this, I say goodbye to a Rothko and hello to a new identity and color scheme for the blog.

The new year will see additional Cincinnati Art Snob changes, including a website that will feature more work by Visualingual along with paintings by a few artists in Greater Cincinnati.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Taft Presents Exquisite Drawings from New York Historical Society

Not too long ago you could find me quickly breezing past landscape paintings as simply another collection of mountains and seas. But within the past few years I've grown a strong admiration for 17th Century Dutch art traditions. In fact, I'm not sure yet which I enjoy more, the landscape, genre painting, or the portraiture. I'm most interested in the social commentary of the period that each painting provides, but certainly the exquisite detail of a lace collar or crystal stemware catches my eye. It is a similar visual treasure trove of Drawn By New York: Watercolors and Drawings from the New York Historical Society that enrapt me and nearly brought me tears during its opening at the Taft Museum of Art.

Drawn By New York includes drawings by a number of well-known artists like Louis Comfort Tiffany and John Singer Sargent, and the museum is sure to try to entice a larger audience with these big names. However, the Taft has done an exceptional job of choosing only about 80 works from the New York Historical Society that these big names are not what will awe or inspire you.

The detail of these drawings and watercolors effectively compete with the information on the labels. As much as I wanted to read about each of the drawings, less than half way through the exhibition, I stopped reading and simply looked. It was this letting go of the text that helped make this journey through American history an emotional one.

Like 17th Century Dutch Art, the drawings of Drawn By New York tell a visually detailed story of our history and presents a commentary on our culture that is sometimes critical, sometimes celebratory, but certainly American.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cincinnati Art Snob Launch Party at the CAM

Cincinnati Art Snob soon will begin offering custom designed art tours. These tours will guide small groups through art collections in museums, galleries, and art studios throughout Greater Cincinnati.

We will launch these tours with a party at the Cincinnati Art Museum on February 6, 2010.

So save the date and watch this site for further details.

Cleveland Cavelier now art curator?

David Ng of the LA Times wonders if Shaquille O'Neal's venture into art curatorial work is nothing more than a publicity stunt for the Flag Art Foundation and collector Glenn Fuhrman who will open the show, Size DOES Matter. As you might expect, the show explores the idea of scale in contemporary art.

“It was a little harder than I thought it would be," O'Neal told Bloomberg. "When you think about what each of the artists put into their work, what they are expressing and want to share with the world, you feel bad about having to narrow it down.”

You think?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Maxxi: The CAC's Organic Sibling

Maxxi, Rome's new contemporary art museum is opening to the public this weekend for an architectural preview. The NY Times reviews Zaha Hadid's newest work as one that Pope Urban VIII would love and suggests the people of Rome may no longer be weighed down by its architectural past.

While the review makes note of Hadid's dynamic style by comparing Maxxi to her design of the BMW factory just outside of Leipzig, Germany, the images of the Maxxi strongly recall our own Contemporary Art Center, also designed by Hadid. Admittedly the exterior looks almost nothing like the museum in Cincinnati, but Maxxi's dominating stairway and the dramatic interior spaces easily reference the CAC. In fact, Hadid's new structure looks like a mirror image of the CAC; a fun house mirror. Hadid's analytical lines and strong grid that stabilizes the CAC become much more organic and sensuous in Rome.

You can see the slide show of Maxxi here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cleveland Museum of Art Gets $1.9 Million from Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) a spendable three-year grant of $450,000 to support the hiring of a curator of Japanese and Korean art, and a matching grant in the amount of $1,500,000 to establish an endowment for the appointment of curators at the assistant or associate level.

From the grant, $1.5 million will enable the museum to strengthen its curatorial program with the addition of entry- and mid-level positions to a staff that currently has none. These positions would assist with new exhibition and research opportunities, especially the kind of collaborative object-based research that occurs between curators and conservators ensuring that the museum can contribute more broadly to the field by providing important opportunities for training curators through substantial collection-based work.

The grant also allows the museum to reinstate the position of curator of Japanese and Korean art, which was eliminated in 2003. This is a critical position to fill as the museum prepares to reinstall its Asian collection in a new wing to open in 2012-13. From its earliest days, The Cleveland Museum of Art has demonstrated an active interest in Asian art, collecting aggressively even before the completion of the first museum building in 1916. The Asian collection is made up of over 4,000 objects, not only from China and Japan, but also from India, the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, Korea and Tibet. Included in the Korean and Japanese collections are a beaded coat and paintings from Korea; Japanese metalwork, textiles (sword guards), dolls and Japanese screens.

“This generous grant will allow The Cleveland Museum of Art to expand and strengthen its curatorial team during a period when the institution is re-envisioning its presentation and interpretation of the collection,” Griffith Mann, chief curator of The Cleveland Museum of Art said.

“The foundation made its decision after assurances were given by Board of Trustees President Alfred M. Rankin Jr. and Chairman Michael J. Horvitz that the CMA is steadfast in its determination to rebuild the staff of the Department of Asian Art and to continue to strengthen the curatorial ranks at all levels.”

The museum is currently undergoing a $350 million comprehensive renovation and expansion of its facilities, led by internationally renowned architect Rafael Viñoly. The project, the largest of its kind ever undertaken by a cultural institution in the State of Ohio, will leave no part of the museum untouched upon its completion in 2013. The museum’s renowned Asian collection has not been on public view since 2005.

The museum anticipates that it will be in a position to commit the matching funds of $1.5 million upon the settlement of the estate of Muriel Butkin, an art collector and longtime benefactor who passed away in the summer of 2008. The museum was named as the sole beneficiary of Mrs. Butkin’s estate.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Please Help Me Understand the Surrealism Around Me

I stopped by Don't Be Scared....Be Prepared for my first visit to Matt Matt Morris' u.turn art space in Cincinnati and it is a great space. I think I like this space better than it's neighbor Semantics.

Though I guess I failed to heed the advice of the exhibition title.

I've never been the biggest fan of Surrealism. I've often thought its nightmarish imagery was simply too frightening and sometimes disturbing for me to want to engage and admit this may still be a large part of my ignorance. Teaching about Dali and Miro to students affords me the opportunity to appreciate the goals of the Surrealist movement towards a social revolution and a freedom to explore the realities of personal experiences. And I do sincerely appreciate this goal and in fact require that all artists adopt it no matter the style in which they work.

As witnessed while teaching art history, Surrealism has had a renewed popularity in the past 10 years or so. But it has been in the last year when I've seen it in the local galleries. Yet I'm not sure what its role is today. I'm not sure why I struggle with, but I find Minimalism more engaging. For example in "Don't Be Scared," I love the "Purple Rain" drops on the wall better than the drawing it surrounds.

I realize perhaps I'm not even giving this new surrealism a chance. Too often I simply walk away from the nightmare (interpret this as you wish).

Help me to understand what reality is being uncovered. Is it the tidal wave of images and information thrusts upon us through various media outlets that make this neo-Surrealism seem less accessible to me? What is really at stake here? Do artists feel a lack of freedom being imposed upon them by the media messiness? What is the claim contemporary artists are making about their worlds? I'm ready to accept the possibility that I am simply too old to understand some of the references, but there should be an underlying message that does not escape me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cincinnati's Sara Vance Appointed to Ohio Arts Council Board

Governor Ted Strickland has announced the appointments of Jacquelyn Nance of Moreland Hills, Sara Vance of Cincinnati and the reappointment of Barbara Gould of Cincinnati to the Ohio Arts Council Board. Ms. Nance and Ms. Vance will serve terms ending July 1, 2014, replacing Neal Zimmers of Dublin and Ginger Warner of Cincinnati, whose terms expired. Ms. Gould was reappointed for a term ending July 1, 2014.

“We are delighted to have appointees who possess long-held commitments and connections to both their community and the arts,” said Julie Henahan, Executive Director of the Ohio Arts Council. “Each appointee’s experience and background will be a great asset to our board.”

Jacquelyn Nance is an attorney and native of Northeast Ohio and currently serves as the president of Philanthropic Solutions. She previously served as executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation, president of the Cleveland Browns Foundation and the senior planned giving attorney with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Nance serves on the board of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Charter One Bank & Fox 8 News’ “Champions in Action” Selection Committee and the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center National Leadership Commission. Ms. Nance studied dance for 18 years. She received a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and a law degree from Case Western Reserve University.

Sara Vance is the owner/president of SMV Media, a media management company she founded in 1994. She previously served as a media director and vice-president of local advertising agencies in Cincinnati. Ms. Vance attended Morehead State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, with an emphasis in public relations/advertising. Ms. Vance serves on the Board of Directors of the Cincinnati Art Museum as chair of Artworks and as president of Cancer Family Care. Her previous board commitments have included the Contemporary Arts Center as vice president, Enjoy the Arts, Ensemble Theater of Cincinnati, The March of Dimes and the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Ms. Vance received the House Advocate Award in 2005 from the Ronald McDonald House, the Heart for the Arts Award in 2007 from Learning Through Art and the Champions for Children Award from 4C for Children in 2009. In addition, she has gifted the top floor of the Contemporary Arts Center for children called the Sara M. & Patricia Vance Education Center.

Barbara Gould, from Cincinnati, was reappointed for a term ending July 1, 2014. She has been a an OAC board member since 2007. She served in the fashion, interior design and music industries before retiring. She serves on numerous cultural arts boards in the Cincinnati area, including the Cincinnati Opera, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Arts Association, the Cincinnati Ballet, and the Arts Consortium of Cincinnati. Gould received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally and economically.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Do artists really devote their lives to something that means nothing?

According to Jonathon Jones of the Guardian, the best artists do. In a recent column he suggests that too many times we are overly concerned with finding meaning in art. That we look for the message over form and style. Jones says, "The most deadening influence on art in our time is the belief that content matters more than style." Of course as a professor of art history I am (happily) guilty of searching for a work's message and contextualizing art. But this is not to say I ignore style over content. Both are equally important. Style is the language that expresses the content or its meaning.

This argument against the meaning of art emerges as if new and edgy every few months. And each time I am compelled to argue against it. Not only do I think art has a message, but I insist an art work must have something new to add to art's discourse for it to be good art.

Jones, like too many of my first-year college students believe, "Real art doesn't have a message, doesn't necessarily say anything. It is an arrangement of shapes, a pattern of words." Of course this is an argument students use so they don't have to think about art long enough to write a cohesive analysis.

Does Jonathon Jones really believe the work of Rothko, Kandinsky and Dylan is meaningless? Perhaps Jones should think longer about the meaning of his own work.