Archive for the ‘ R ’ Category

JACQUES RANCIÈRE

Dates: 1940-

Nationality: French

Jacques Rancière is a French philosopher and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris (St. Denis) who came to prominence when he co-authored Reading Capital (1968), with the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser. In 2006, it was reported that Rancière’s aesthetic theory had become a point of reference in the visual arts, and Rancière has lectured at such art world events as the Frieze Art Fair.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Jacques Rancière’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 29 October 2010, 22:53 UTC, <en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jacques_Ranci%C3%A8re&oldid=393692405>

RANCIÈRE, FOR DUMMIES by Ben Davis

The 66-year-old French philosopher Jacques Rancière is clearly the new go-to guy for hip art theorists. Artforum magazine’s ever-sagacious online “Diary” has referred to Rancière as the art world’s “darling du jour,” and in its recent issue, the magazine itself has described digital video artist Paul Chan as “Rancièrian” — as an aside, without further explanation, no less! For anyone looking for a primer, Rancière’s slim The Politics of Aesthetics has just been published in paperback.

Rancière has the undeniable virtue, for the esoterica-obsessed art world at least, of being something of an odd duck. A one-time fellow traveler of Marxist mandarin Louis Althusser, Rancière split with him after the May ’68 worker-student rebellion against the de Gaulle government, feeling that Althusser, a partisan of the Stalinized French Communist Party, left too little space in his theoretical edifice for spontaneous popular revolt. Against this background of disenchantment, Rancière set out to explore the relationships between philosophy and the worker, rethink ideas of history and try to construct a progressive theory of art.

The Politics of Aesthetics is a quick and dirty tour of a number of these themes. It features five short meditations on various conjunctions of art and politics, plus a lengthy interview with Rancière by his translator Gabriel Rockhill titled “The Janus-Face of Politicized Art,” an introduction by Rockhill and a concluding essay by the art world’s other favorite quirky philosopher, Slavoj Zizek. It is a short but serious book and, in keeping with French intellectual practice, sensuously impenetrable, coming equipped with a glossary of terms for the uninitiated.

Davis, Ben. “Ranciere, for Dummies.” Artnet.com.<www.artnet.com/magazineus/books/davis/davis8-17-06.asp>

BARBARA ROSE

Dates: 1938-

Nationality: American

Barbara Rose is an American art historian and art critic. She was educated at Smith College, Barnard College and Columbia University. She was married to artist Frank Stella between 1961 and 1969. In 1965 she published ABC Art in which she described the characteristics of minimal art.

In her essay, ABC Art, Rose considers the diverse roots of minimalism in the work of Malevich and Duchamp as well as the choreography of Merce Cunningham, the art criticism of Greenberg, the philosophy of Wittgenstein and the novels of Robbe-Grillet. In examining the historical roots of minimal art in 1960s America, Rose draws a distinction between Kasimir Malevich’s “search for the transcendental, universal, absolute” and Marcel Duchamp’s “blanket denial of the existence of absolute values.”

Rose grouped some 1960’s artists as closer to Malevich, some as closer to Duchamp, and some as between the two. Closer to Malevich are Walter Darby Bannard, Larry Zox, Robert Huot, Lyman Kipp, Richard Tuttle, Jan Evans, Ronald Bladen, Anne Truitt. Closer to Duchamp are Richard Artschwager and Andy Warhol. Between Malevich and Duchamp she places Robert Morris, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Dan Flavin. Her conclusion is that minimal art is both transcendental and negative:

“The art I have been talking about is obviously a negative art of denial and renunciation. Such protracted asceticism is normally the activity of contemplatives or mystics…Like the mystic, in their work these artists deny the ego and the individual personality, seeking to evoke, it would seem, the semihypnotic state of blank unconsciousness.”

She also contrasts minimal art with Pop Art:

“…if Pop Art is the reflection of our environment, perhaps the art I have been describing is its antidote, even if it is a hard one to swallow.”

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Barbara Rose’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 18 October 2010, 15:18 UTC, <en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Barbara_Rose&oldid=391456786>

HAROLD ROSENBERG

Dates: 1906-1978

Nationality: American

Harold Rosenberg (February 2, 1906, New York City – July 11, 1978, New York City) was an American writer, educator, philosopher and art critic. He coined the term Action Painting in 1952 for what was later to be known as abstract expressionism. The term was first employed in Rosenberg’s essay “American Action Painters” published in the December 1952 issue of ARTnews. The essay was reprinted in Rosenberg’s book The Tradition of the New in 1959. The title is itself ambiguous as it both refers to American Action Painters and American Action Painters and reveals Rosenberg’s political agenda which consisted in crediting US as the center of international culture and action painting as the most advanced of its cultural forms. This theme was already developed in a previous article “The Fall of Paris” published in Partisan Review in 1940.

Rosenberg was born in Brooklyn, educated at City College of New York and received a law degree from St. Lawrence College in 1927. Later, he often said he was “educated on the steps of the New York Public Library.” From 1938 to 1942 he was art editor for the American Guide Series produced by the Works Progress Administration. Later he was deputy chief of domestic radio in the Office of War Information and a consult for the Treasury Department and the Advertising Council of America. Later, he was professor of social thought in the art department of the University of Chicago.

Rosenberg is best known for his art criticism. Beginning in the early 1960s he became art Critic for the New Yorker magazine. His books on art theory include The Tradition of the New (1959), The Anxious Object (1964), Art Work and Packages, Art and the Actor and The De-Definition of Art. He also wrote monographs on Willem de Kooning, Saul Steinberg, and Arshile Gorky. A Marxian cultural critic, Rosenberg’s books and essays probed the ways in which evolving trends in painting, literature, politics, and popular culture disguised hidden agendas or mere hollowness.

One of Rosenberg’s most often cited essays is “The Herd of Independent Minds,” where he analyzes the trivialization of personal experience inherent both in mass culture-making and superficial political commitment in the arts. In this work, Rosenberg exposes political posturing in both the mass media and among artistic elites (for instance, he claims the so-called socially responsible poetry of Stephen Spender was actually an avoidance of responsibility masquerading as “responsible poetry.”)Rosenberg deplored the attempts at commercialization of authentic experience through techniques of psychological manipulation available to mass media producers. He wrote mockingly of mass culture’s efforts to consolidate and control the intricacies of human needs:

The more exactly he grasps, whether by instinct or through study, the existing element of sameness in people, the more successful is the mass-culture maker. Indeed, so deeply is he committed to the concept that men are alike that he may even fancy that there exists a kind of human dead center in which everyone is identical with everyone else, and that if he can hit that psychic bull’s eye he can make all mankind twitch at once.

Rosenberg was also the subject of a painting by Elaine de Kooning. Along with Clement Greenberg and Leo Steinberg, he was identified in Tom Wolfe’s 1975 book The Painted Word as one of the three “kings of Cultureburg”, so named for the enormous degree of influence their criticism exerted over the world of modern art.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Harold Rosenberg’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 November 2010, 16:40 UTC, <en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Harold_Rosenberg&oldid=396532749>

HERBERT READ

Dates: 1893-1968

Nationality: British

Sir Herbert Edward Read, DSO, MC, was an English anarchist poet, and critic of literature and art. He was one of the earliest English writers to take notice of existentialism, and was strongly influenced by proto-existentialist thinker Max Stirner.

However, Read was (and remains) better known as an art critic. He was a champion of modern British artists such as Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. He became associated with Nash’s contemporary arts group Unit One. Read was professor of fine arts at the University of Edinburgh (1931–33) and editor of the trend-setting Burlington Magazine (1933–38). He was one of the organizers of the London International Surrealist Exhibition in 1936 and editor of the book Surrealism, published in 1936, which included contributions from André Breton, Hugh Sykes Davies, Paul Éluard, and Georges Hugnet. He also served as a trustee of the Tate Gallery and as a curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum (1922–1939), as well as co-founding the Institute of Contemporary Arts with Roland Penrose in 1947.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Herbert Read’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 December 2010, 21:13 UTC, <en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Herbert_Read&oldid=400375088>

Quotes by Herbert Read:

Art is an indecent exposure of the consciousness.

Art in its widest sense is the extension of the personality: a host of artificial limbs.

Works of art must persist as objects of contemplation.

If we persist in our restless desire to know everything about the universe and ourselves, then we must not be afraid of what the artist brings back from his voyage of discovery.

Intellect begins with the observation of nature, proceeds to memorize and classify the facts thus observed, and by logical deduction builds up that edifice of knowledge properly called science… But admittedly we also know by feeling, and we can combine the two faculties, and present knowledge in the guise of art.

In general, modern art… has been inspired by a natural desire to chart the uncharted.

Art is not and never has been subordinate to moral values. Moral values are social values; aesthetic values are human values. Morality seeks to restrain the feelings; art seeks to define them by externalizing them, by giving them significant form. Morality has only one aim – the ideal good; art has quite another aim – the objective truth… art never changes.

The depths modern art has been exploring are mysterious depths, full of strange fish…

Art is pattern informed by sensibility.

The fundamental purpose of the artist is the same as that of a scientist: to state a fact.

Sensibility… is a direct and particular reaction to the separate and individual nature of things. It begins and ends with the sensuous apprehension of colour, texture and formal relations; and if we strive to organize these elements, it is not with the idea of increasing the knowledge of the mind, but rather in order to intensify the pleasure of the senses.

The peculiarity of sculpture is that it creates a three-dimensional object in space. Painting may strive to give on a two-dimensional plane, the illusion of space, but it is space itself as a perceived quantity that becomes the peculiar concern of the sculptor. We may say that for the painter space is a luxury; for the sculptor it is a necessity.

Spontaneity is not enough – or, to be more exact, spontaneity is not possible until there is an unconscious coordination of form, space and vision.

The classicist, and the naturalist who has much in common with him, refuse to see in the highest works of art anything but the exercise of judgement, sensibility, and skill. The romanticist cannot be satisfied with such a normal standard; for him art is essentially irrational – an experience beyond normality, sometimes destructive of normality, and at the very least evocative of that state of wonder which is the state of mind induced by the immediately inexplicable.

If modern art has produced symbols that are unfamiliar, that was only to be expected.

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JOHN RUSKIN

Dates: 1819-1900

Nationality: British

John Ruskin (February 8, 1819 – January, 20 1900) was an English art critic and social thinker, also remembered as a poet and artist. His essays on art and architecture were extremely influential in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Ruskin first came to widespread attention for his support for the work of J. M. W. Turner and his defence of naturalism in art. He subsequently put his weight behind the Pre-Raphaelite movement. His later writings turned increasingly to complex and personal explorations of the interconnection of cultural, social and moral issues, and were influential on the development of Christian socialism.

He went on to publish the first volume of one of his major works, Modern Painters, in 1843, under the anonymous identity “An Oxford Graduate.” This work argued that modern landscape painters—and in particular J. M. W. Turner—were superior to the so-called “Old Masters” of the post-Renaissance period. Such a claim was controversial, especially as Turner’s semi-abstract late works were being denounced by some critics as meaningless daubs. The degree to which Ruskin reversed an anti-Turnerian tide may have been overemphasized in the past, as Turner was a renowned and major figure in the early Victorian art world and a prominent member of the Royal Academy. Ruskin’s criticism of Old Masters like Gaspard Dughet (Gaspar Poussin), Claude Lorrain, and Salvator Rosa, was much more controversial, given the immense respect they held at the time. The attack on the old masters centered on what Ruskin perceived as their lack of attention to natural truth. Rather than ‘going to nature,’ as Turner did, the old masters, ‘composed’ or invented their landscapes in their studios. For Ruskin, modern painters like Turner and James Duffield Harding (Ruskin’s art tutor) showed a much more profound understanding of nature, observing the ‘truths’ of water, air, clouds, stones, and vegetation.

Wikipedia contributors. “John Ruskin.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 6 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 Mar. 2010. <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ruskin>

RELATIONAL ART

Dates: 1990-Present

Origin: International

Key Artists: Gillian Wearing, Liam Gillick

The French curator Nicholas Bourriaud published a book called Relational Aesthetics in 1998 in which he described the term as meaning ‘a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space.’ He saw artists as facilitators rather than makers and regarded art as information exchanged between the artist and the viewers. The artist, in this sense, gives audiences access to power and the means to change the world. Bourriaud cited the art of Gillian Wearing, Philippe Parreno, Douglas Gordon and Liam Gillick as artists who work to this agenda.

“Relational Aesthetics.” Tate.org.uk. Tate.org.uk. 12 March 2010. <www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?workid=27083>

Gillian Wearing

REGIONALISM

Dates: 1930-1945

Origin: United States

Key Artists: Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton

a term applied to a group of American artists, Regionalists, prominent during the 1930s and early 1940s who concentrated on the realistic depiction of scenes and life of the midwest and deep south. Their motivation, like that of the urban scene painters, derived from a patriotic desire to establish a genuine American art freed from European influence. To this end, although there were considerable stylistic differences among the artists dubbed Regionalists, abstraction and other ‘imported’ styles were shunned and their work was largely conservative, designed to appeal to popular sensibility. In addition they were moved by a nostalgic desire to record rural and small town America threatened by growing industrial urbanization, and it was this which made their work so popular. Regionalists included the politically committed and vociferous Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, whose American Gothic (1930; Chicago, Art Inst.), despite its element of satire, may be seen as the movement’s icon, Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, and John Steuart Curry. Their portrayal of their subject matter was not always uncritical, Hopper, in particular, revealed the insularity and drabness typical of much small town life.

Rodgers, David. “Regionalism.” The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online. 12 Mar. 2010 <http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/opr/t118/e2190&gt;

Thomas Hart Benton