Monday, May 04, 2009

Artopolis 2009 - Art Chicago

Anthony Eyton (b. 1923)

I feel like a quail hunter
when I walk through big shows like this.

My camera is cocked and loaded,
and when a painting seems to jump into the air
I pull the trigger and fire.

Not enough time for thought or contemplation,
just point and shoot
at whatever I want to remember.

This painting (by an aging Royal Academician)
must have caught my eye
because I've been immersing myself in India lately,
and I instantly recognized it as such.

Robert Dukes "After Corot"

The same British gallery
also had this delightful piece.

A study after Corot?
How Chinese of him,
to make something so fresh and alive
in response to an historical painting.

But now, I have to record
that I was wearing the above
as I traipsed through the show this year,
and soon was told
that after 34 years of service,
the dean of Chicago art critics,
Alan Artner,
had just been laid off by the Chicago Tribune.
(along with about 50 other staffers,
in a series of major blood lettings
as the paper stumbles through bankruptcy)

And, he's not going to be replaced.

The marriage of daily journalism and art criticism
appears to be over.

Of course,
there's still that posse of un-paid opinionators
like myself
who publish in blogs or in New City,
and it's better to have a bunch of people
looking at the fragmented art scene.

For example,
I will never set foot
into the Museum of Contemporary Art,
and apparently,
though Alan Artner was willing to pay it lip service,
he was not very enthusiastic about that genre either.

Read here
how he answered the question:
What Constitutes Quality in Contemporary Art?

His conclusion?

"In the 21st Century the finest contemporary art
is the art that makes the most money."

Yikes !
How Cynical!

Back on August 10, 2008
when that "Ask the Critic" essay
was first published,
the Tribune's website allowed readers to respond online,
and being the pest that I am,
I asked him :

"Then what is the role of an art critic?"

Apparently, he couldn't come up with an answer,
because my question was soon removed from the site,
and readers were never again invited to respond.

But, on this day, May 2
I actually had a chance to ask the critic
that question in person,
because there he sat,
right next to me in the "Press Lounge"
(to which the above badge gave me access)

I had never met this graying eminence before,
and here he was holding court
on his last weekend
of his life as an art critic.

But I asked him nothing.

(while recalling that it was just a few years ago
that I asked him to retire )

I have to admit
that occasionally I appreciated his recommendations,
like the ones he made regarding certain pieces
in the big tapestry show last year.
But the art critic's #1 job
is to identify the great (though under-reported)
artists of his own time and place,
and at this job he failed miserably.

Nothing about Milton Horn, Richard Schmid, or Enrique Santana.

He was apparently blind to the living traditional arts,
while merely lukewarm to the
contemporary artworld.

Though offering helpful (and safe) commentary about the past,
he was a fence sitter regarding the work of his own time,
and one may recall the horrible punishment
that awaits such people in Dante's Inferno.

So, no
I'm not going to miss him
except that ....

He was a very handy source
for news about small historical exhibits
in out-of-the-way places
(like a recent show at the Italian consulate)

And I like what he had to say,
in his very last review,
about how the Art Institute of Chicago
changed direction
regarding the contents of its new wing
in response to the flow of money
it got from collectors of contemporary art.

That's the kind of information,
about public art institutions,
that's only going to come
from a professional art journalist
who can make such observations
a matter of public record.

Morris Topchevsky (1899-1947)

Here's a Chicago painter
taking us to a dry goods market
(Maxwell Street ?)

Manierre Dawson (1887-1969)

An uncharacteristic nocturne
by Chicago's most famous
abstract modernist.

(painted on a roofing shingle)

Reminds me of an urban background
from the Quattrocento

Richard Schmid (1934-)

And here's a typical nocturne
from Chicago's most famous living Romantic
(and former president
of the Palette and Chisel)

Bo Bartlett

There always something
mischievous from this painter,
who's been in every Art Chicago
of this decade.

Bo Bartlett

and here's his self portrait
as Harry Potter.

Javier Marin (b. 1962)

Here's the most dramatic figurative sculpture
I've yet to see in these shows.

Big - ugly - grotesque.


But, wouldn't they look good
in a tropical garden ?

Hugo Robus (1885-1964)

I wonder if Robus is as popular elsewhere.
He seems to be appearing
regularly in Chicago.

Moses Soyer (1899-1974)

I like the Soyer twins,
and especially this nude from 1945.

Not to get too incestuous here,
but this exactly how I image my mother
must have looked at that time.

Jeremy Long (b. 1971)

I'm becoming a fan of this local painter
who makes enormous paintings
(the above is 6 foot high)

I like the power,
but might have had enough
of his Steven Spielberg vision
of American middle class life.

Ben Tinsley

Who is this guy?

One of my favorite paintings at the show,
selling for about $1600.

Hong Purume

This is the second year
I've stumbled across the
work of this Korean painter.

And a quick search of the internet
reveals that
she is just as beautiful
as her paintings.

Franz Kline 1957

Franz Kline had no special interest
in the schools of Asian calligraphy.

What a tragedy
that he didn't found his own.

That's the problem with Modernist ideology:

it doesn't give much respect to followers.

China Square Gallery

Here's a Manhattan gallery's take
on contemporary art in China.

(more enjoyable, for me,
than the show currently at the Chicago Cultural Center)

The sculptor (of the nudes) is Cai Zhisong,
the painter is Xu Weixin

but here's the kind of Chinese sculpture
that I really like.

So little can say so much.

(very considerate of Art Chicago
to include a gallery of ancient Chinese art)


this year marked the return
of Arcadia Gallery
but I wasn't really thrilled
by now, I've already seen Jeremy Lipking,
and the paintings they brought this time were
a bit disappointing.


Blogger Robert said...

Wow Chris that's some post, I will need to read it again and make proper comment, there is just too much for an old fool like me to take in one go and it needs complimenting.
Trust all is well with you.

May 07, 2009  

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