Jess: West Coast Scene Painting

“When something makes the scene too fast it’s gotta be minor.”

                                    Clement Greenberg, Painters Painting

  Jess Collins (known simply as Jess) was a multi-media artist with a penchant for the personal. His work is deeply hermetic, addressed to an audience of intimates, and seemingly untroubled by its wider role in the history of art. A suspicion of publicity is typical of the scene with which Jess was associated: the so-called “San Francisco Renaissance,” a largely literary movement identified with poets such as a Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer and Kenneth Rexroth. At the center of this scene stood Jess and Duncan, his husband, who pulled a large and interdisciplinary group of artists into their orbit. Jess’s diverse body of work—which includes expressionist paintings, illustrated books of poetry and children’s stories done in collaboration with friends, “paste-ups” (montages that take a cue from Max Ernst) and his well-known “Tricky Cad” series (an absurdist, cut-and-paste intervention into the Dick Tracy comic strip)—is filled with a personal iconography that often extends no further than the scene in which he lived and the man with whom he shared his life.

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Propped not Supported

cooley-installation-view Pinceman Viallat

Installation view of Pinceman and Viallat. Cooley Gallery. Nov. 40 – Dec. 14, 2014.

People like to complain that the Supports/Surfaces group isn’t well enough known in America. This could mean that critics, certain critics, think their art is good enough to have warranted more attention, and probably attention from the presumptive big names: MoMA, Met, Walker, etc. They might also have in mind a historical point: the fact that the members of Supports/Surfaces were highly influenced by certain North American figures (Olitski, Greenberg, Noland, McLuhan) and so could be complaining that there is a kind of genealogy being erased when, say, Color Field painters are shown while Support/Surfaces are neglected. I have a feeling they tend not to mean that the group has benefitted from their existence outside of the limelight, although some do speculate that the “freshness” of the works today might have something to do with how infrequently they’ve been seen. Continue reading

Andre’s Drill: Carl Andre at Dia:Beacon

Carl Andre, Passport, New York, 1960, color photo copy, 1970. Installation view, Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958–2010, Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries, Beacon, New York.  May 5, 2014–March 2, 2015.  Art © Carl Andre/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.  Photo: Bill Jacobson Studio, New York. Courtesy Dia Art Foundation, New York.
Carl Andre, Passport, New York, 1960, color photo copy, 1970. Installation view, Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958–2010, Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries, Beacon, New York.
May 5, 2014–March 2, 2015.
Art © Carl Andre/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.
Photo: Bill Jacobson Studio, New York. Courtesy Dia Art Foundation, New York.

The current retrospective of the work of the American sculptor and poet Carl Andre, on view at Dia:Beacon, engenders nothing short of a provocative re-inscription of the parameters for artistic production within the Minimalist cannon. A consideration of Andre’s poems alongside both well known and lesser known sculptural forms, in addition to previously unknown projects in diverse media, foreground the relation between Andre’s material processes and a systems aesthetic. Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010 enables us to begin to register the grounds, or limiting conditions, through which an improvisatory and material systems aesthetic may emerge.

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The Unified Field: David Lynch at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

It was a very big deal in early October when David Lynch announced via Twitter that there would be a new (short) season of Twin Peaks in 2016 – twenty-five years later, just as the last episode promised. The big deal is not just a matter of people liking the show and wanting to know what happened next. It was more that Lynch, who will be 69 years old in January, seems to have already entered his Emeritus Years. He has a foundation dedicated to getting people to practice Transcendental Meditation, and for a while that seemed to be his principal concern.[i] His last feature film, Inland Empire, was released in 2006. Since then, it’s been short films, music videos, commercials, promotional films, guest appearances (on Family Guy), concert videos (Duran Duran for Unstaged: An Original Series for American Express), his own line of coffee, a predictably-nutty Ice Bucket Challenge, and in the past few years, retrospectives. All this amounts to an artist winding down, enjoying his accolades, and amusing himself. One might wonder if Lynch has anything left to do, creativity-wise.

As it turns out, Lynch has been painting as well, as he always has. Unlike other directors who began in television or editing or theater or photography or writing, Lynch started as a painter, attending the Corcoran School of Art, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia. PAFA is currently hosting an exhibition of Lynch’s artwork (he has had other recent exhibitions in London, Frankfurt, Munich, Copenhagen, and elsewhere) and if you can get there, you should go. It runs through January 11, 2015. Continue reading