Love

The character for ai, the ‘love’ that one person
feels for another, suggests that although the
word is now used as freely in China as elsewhere,
love was once considered a highly
spiritual emotion. Some sages believed it to be
a form of giving that should be extended not
only to those closest to us, but to more distant
members of society as well.
In the center is the ‘heart’ pictogram.
Above and below ‘heart’ are the characters
for ‘breath’ and ‘graceful movement’. Love,
therefore, can be seen as a kind of inspiration.
It breathes life into the heart, and brings grace
to the body.

Quotes:Carl Sandburg quotes (American Historian, Poet and Novelist, 1878-1967)

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.”

Painting by Heather Whitley Gibson 2000

Art History: Bauhaus 1897-1993:

Bauhaus Dessau Workshop

Bauhaus Dessau Workshop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deutsch: Heinrich Neuy, 60 x 81cm, Druck , li....

Deutsch: Heinrich Neuy, 60 x 81cm, Druck , li. o. signiert “Heinrich Neuy” und Monogramm HN 1984. 37/50. Aus der Reihe Freidrich Becker kinetische Objekte 1985 in den Räumen der Zeitschrift “Symbol” in Köln. Privatbesitz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Direct artists into a new machine age by marrying art and industry. The process started in 1897 with Art & Craft workshops in Germany and ended in 1933. Bauhaus is not unique. Its principal aim was to bring together ideas from of art and industry.

The main idea was to improve manufacturing in order to improve the quality of life in Germany and create products for export. They had to have a German identity.

Kirchner’s Bathers at Moritzburgm – Expressionism and Jugendstil, he tried to create a unique German art. In Germany artists were all aware of the importance of design and were all trained in Arts & Crafts. This meant no life classes and no copying old masters.

Peter Behrens AEG logo and unique AEG fan.

William Morris felt the machine alienated the worker so he wanted all his goods to be handmade but this was utopian as they were so expensive only the upper classes could buy his work and this was in conflict with his desire to create beautiful goods for everybody.

The German approach was very different as the German Government held been involved in Arts & Crafts since unification (1866 and 1870-71). They wanted to put money into the project and make it successful so it became better known than in England. Their ideas were therefore applied to industry rather than being utopian.

The Bauhaus was a coalition of existing authorities in Weimar. They asked Walter Gropius to head the new art academy – the old Fine Arts School and the Arts & Crafts school. They would learn both skills and work with industry and create products that could be mass produced supported by the Government.

They looked at Morris ‘s medieval – inspired designs but applied it to mass culture. The New Weimar republic post – war brought a new idealism. Gropius ‘s experience during the war caused him to employ painters with utopian leanings.

Gropius was an established architect – he had designed a locomotive, factory and office building. He married craftsmanship with modem materials. He had a utopian idea that architecture could bring together all the arts. He thought Bauhaus would contribute to post – war society.

He introduced a guild system – lecturers were called masters, first year students apprentices and second year journeyman. A medieval craft guild system. The school was divided into workshops – metal, wood, stained glass, colour, textiles, stone and clay. There was also a theatre workshop. Wagnerian ideal of the totalkunstwerk of uniting all the arts. Futurists and the Expressionists also had this idea of uniting all the arts.

Each workshop had a master of form and a workshop master (creativity and the practiced application).

The ultimate of the programme was building. Students were encouraged to experiment with different materials.

Initially students were trained for three years. A small number of students could extend their training to become masters. There was supposed to be no hierarchy. The course outline used a circular scheme. It was unlike traditional art training

A large number of female students were accepted unlike traditional art colleges. Elsewhere females were not accepted into life classes until the late 19.

Areas they felt suited the female nature – intuitive, weaving, looms were brought into the colleges.

Johannes ltten (Eaten) was one of the first masters of form. He wanted to free the hidden talents of the student rather than impose ideas. He was interested in Eastern religions � he introduced breathing exercises before class and dance. He got students to students reduce old masters to blocks of colour. He was Utopian and mystical. There was a clash between utopianism and the manufacture of goods. So he resigned in 1923 after an argument with Gropius

Kandinsky and Klee were also interested in mysticism and utopian ideas.

The book Point and Line to Plane by Kandinsky explained the spiritual association of form and colour. So blue was a circle, red a square and yellow a triangle. Intermediate forms had intermediate colours.  Angles were deemed to have a certain temperature 90 degrees was red, smaller angles yellow, larger cooler.He wrote a colour theory that also linked colour to sound.

Moholy-Nagy was appointed as a much more practical director as Gropius had sold very little in the first three years. Moholy-Nagy replaced Itten. He was influenced by the Constructivists in Russia and wanted to link art and industry.

His medium was photography (see famous photograph looking down from a radio tower).

Moholy-Nagy was much more practical and he introduced distinct design ideas and typography (very distinct and became a symbol of the Bauhaus). He introduced a photographic course from 1923. He produced some very significant works (see photomontage of eyes in palms of hands before a city, alienation. Also see Kranz ‘s superimposition of portrait and Bauhaus).

In 1923 he opened an exhibition that included a model house Hans am Horn. This was very significant as it was designed for the modern middle – class. The purpose was to make life easy for the inhabitants. The living room was an open space for the whole family. The kitchen was the first fitted kitchen worldwide. The children ‘s room had blackboards on the walls and toy boxes that became tables and chairs. These were all firsts and common today. The fitted kitchen, cupboards and so on were all designed to be easily mass produced. The house did away with ornamentation, it was a minimalist house.

Political events in Weimar 1919-1925 were significant and ran parallel with the Bauhaus. There was a very strong local resistance to having the school there. An extreme right wing local government accused Bauhaus of left wing and revolutionary tendencies. The life of the Bauhaus students was Bohemian and threatening to the locals. Gropius was accused of favouring Jewish students.

Gropius designed a memorial to the dead leftwing strikers of 1921. In 1923 his house was searched. In 1924 all funding was withdrawn. The school was moved to Dessau (north east on the way to Berlin, an industrial city).

They all designed the new building. Moholy-Nagy designed the lighting, Gropius the building. It used modern materials and was practical. He also designed the staff accommodation.

The old guild method was abolished and each workshop now had one professor. The school began designing useful goods, such as table lamps, tea infusers, chairs (the famous Wassily (Vaseely]) chair made of steel tubes with two stripes as the seat. They had funding from Dessau but also started generating income from designs. Ruth Hallos carpet design. (gobelin). Also Gunter Stolzl encouraged consumers to put up textile wall hangings. Consumer goods became highly desirable in the late 1920s. Typography workshop was influential. They favoured lower case letters against the German system of capitalizing all nouns. Smooth, clean, clinical typography. It was very provocative to challenge the German language itself. Moholy-Nagy was a very political person who wanted to challenge the state. Bauhaus follows the rise of the Nazi party. When the Nazi’s took control of Dessau in 1924 they moved to Berlin but lasted only one year when in 1925 Hitler took control of the country. It was immediately closed as it was accused of harbouring Jews and left-wingers. Most staff and students went to the US and founded a school in Chicago. Compare with Constructivists as they had similar ideas. The majority of the artists had been to Russia in the early 1920′s. It is important to note the similarities.

 

resource: http://www.artnet.com/artwork/426150585/168763/laszlo-moholy-nagy-untitled-positive-photogram.html

Fellows garden – Poem by: Rosanna Garland

 Fellows garden

The sun not warm enough, the wind to cooling
all too quiet and noiseless, before a foot
of a dove squelches a green bloomed patch of grass;
too green for my thoughts. 
 
I watch the birds circle and peck, watching them
so often like they do us in drawn circles,
how I watched you once close your eyes before lilies. 
As I lap sun, bees and golden nectar
three doves waddle an open disco display
before me and I think of how I watched you
bend blades of grass with your determined grey feet. 
 
I want to say I am alive, I’m full
of moss, waterlilies, green and crunchy leaves;
but those doves begin to nutter in their beaks,
their squawks a chuckle at me, or those outside
placing tokens of gold in collectors hands
and I’m a springtime bubble inside stoned walls.
 

http://rosannagarlandblog.com/2012/08/05/poem-fellows-garden/

Rambling in blue skies – Poem: by Heather Whitley Gibson

Rambling in blue skies.

Lilienthal_in_flight

There in was.

In my way, a large gray machine. Tenanted- to beat acquaint it’s chest.With myself.

To spilling it’s gas and clip it wings. Propellers steeped-right in the middle—

of a dutch painting.

There were to many armies of men gathering around to fix tits.

-dept-ed wings. Her it was.. Large overbearing fans sloth like. Giving window that bright oversight-the shiny fur appeal.

 Holy Sonnets, The Mother propeller and faith in the laws of Angels.

If you plan to sleep. “The American Way”. Scratch the surface of linted skies and the part terns on the ground.

After being “hazed” in even in even conditions

When clouds themselves Sevres that dream.

Who’s love of Land sconced in undergrowth parts of war engines, the crowded rain in, honey sucked dedicated to that thick sun.

You and me, pray by tongues without taste. But even when know words come, they frame a picture.

Hung by yellow dancers, tree stalks and yellow corn. Tubes of paints this dance with Kan-sky’s vibes.

When time it self sup-ones. unafraid as we as time as if impassioned in light, losing our balance,tree grow vertical.

Like leaves turn over, we squint, sane our words slight. Demand not flyswatters, warm with wind

Stretcher out  in grain of Glassy, of sand, of boxes of the past blot as we wipe away , clearing are shields and wipers.

Screaming.

Flies, swirling tackle, the worms splitting sorrow, last seen in {bracket}s mosses.

Pluck the sun Alar y and it’s nozzle to some “day” (Hot).

When litters of flies ramble like new-browns, dark lines on there tongues fluent in speech:

Ton-know A calligraphic sky IS, Does what words.

CAN’T SAY.

Joseph Beuys (1921-1986)

“i-like-america-and-america-likes-me”

Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys: Past the Affable
“… just as you have come to me, because of what I’ve made, and we can talk about it …”— Beuys

Joseph Beuys: Suit

The two most acclaimed German artists at the moment, at least in this country, are Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys. Kiefer’s stardom was earned by his dealing with what, in Germany, had been unapproachable before: a looking at the recent past and an accepting of the facts with an attempt to express a response where before there had only been avoidance and denial. With his paintings of the early 1980s of the raped landscape and funerary cellars (in effect, of the brutalized psyche), a dialog was finally opened. Here was the invitation to begin a public discussion, a way to express feelings long suppressed in collective shame and blindness at unknowable solutions.
Beuys was rewarded for similar reasons. As clown, shaman, and creative force whose artistry respected no boundary lines, the public welcomed this alert distraction from the immense shadow of the recent past. Beuys answered a need of the population, waking up from the shock of its economic social and cultural lethargy following the war, and showed a way to rise from the ashes that was as fun as it was holistic and spiritually challenging.
Non-Germans seem glad to be able to embrace both these figures, beyond the achievements of their art, as a way of forgiving, for a reconciliation with that part of Germany that is most acceptable, most generative, least harmful or threatening, and certainly, most profitable.

Anselm Kiefer

Beuys’s work certainly served, in its initial contact with an audience, as a diversion. But to regard his work simply as an entertainment to nullify the realities in which it was created, is to miss the point of its revolutionary nature. For Beuys, a moment of rapture in engagement with an art article, or art as a respite from the daily grind, is a sentimental act that has no purpose in today’s world. He calls for nothing less than a complete overhaul of that system in which art is a product of a consumer society who needs paintings to decorate walls, to use as barter, or to receive momentary uplifting. “Art is,” he said, “a genuinely human medium for revolutionary change in the sense of completing the transformation from a sick world to a healthy one.” (Beuys quoted in Quartetto, exhibition catalog, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 1984, Milano, p. 106)
Beuys’s project challenges the established assumptions. The subscription audience expects its standards to be played year after year. These rules are put in place by the powers that be to enforce their own perpetuation. Large doses of the repertoire—Mozart, Schubert, Picasso, Hemingway—uphold the values of the ticket buyers. They’re made into cultural icons, like flags waving, like a crest for the bourgeois. These are the models, we’re told. This canon is defended by the tastemakers to preserve their values and to acclaim them as the standard.
It’s not that one must choose sides, that you must either pledge allegiance to easel painting or to Beuys. But Beuys encourages a new attitude at regarding our former preconceptions, our assumptions in looking at art, at the museum and gallery visit. Beuys is not so reactionary as to deny the existence of the entire art history repertoire, or even to extinguish it from present consciousness. He does, however, break with the tradition that would have him making precious objects to be exhibited in a system that needs these accouterments to congratulate itself for its creative achievement or to applaud itself for its taste.
For Beuys, the art piece no longer has to be an object to worship for its beauty, for its achievement at duplicating or interpreting in some way our own nostalgia for the unspoiled wilderness (in landscape), or human desirability (nudes, pretty people), portraits (persistence of the regal, historical perpetuation of the conqueror and vanquished), or religious fervor (biblical reenactments, testaments to observance [getting with the program] or its corollary: physical or spiritual pain for straying).
His is an art that rejects that academic perseverance and dedication to craft, the years of figure drawing, of working from models, from casts. His agenda turns away from the need to duplicate, to accurately render. He abandons that skill which we all so admire in artists of the past who are so able to fool us, with their craft of illusion making, by creating those scenes we long to see.
In recognizing the responsibility of the post-World War II artist to offer new possibilities, Lyotard says: “Those who refuse to reexamine the rules of art pursue successful careers in mass conformism by communicating, by means of the ‘correct rules,’ the endemic desire for reality with objects and situations capable of gratifying it.” (Lyotard, Jean-Francois, “Answering the Question: What Is Postmodernism,” in The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1984, p. 75) The experimental nature of Beuys’s work and its insistence on process is a response to the “rules of the beautiful” (Lyotard) that a complacent public desires from its artists; a public that would have simple, easily pleasing, pretty pictures to gaze at and admire, to deal with as commodity, accept as necessary embellishments to its comfort, with perhaps a hint at transformation or enlightenment. Beuys moves past the conservative crowd’s intent on perpetuating itself with images of beauty, images that can only remind one of the familiar and which fail to initiate any thought but that of pleasure in the comfortable and accepted. He won’t accept the narrow confines of a beauty that is a “form of defense from the inertia of the everyday.” (Leon Battista Alberti quoted by Achille Bonito Olivia, Quartetto, p. 102)
Beuys’s art objects and performances weren’t/aren’t about entertaining an audience, though in their confluence of wacky happenings with strange substances, in their novelty, they must have at least entertained the most unwilling observer. Beuys wanted to awaken the populace, shake one out of the routines, the acceptable rigors one can pass through life with unobservant of the disparities and conflicts all around. “…I not only want to stimulate people, I want to provoke them.” (Bastian, Heines and Jeannot Simmen, “Interview with Joseph Beuys,” in the catalog exhibition, Joseph Beuys, Drawings, Victoria and Albert Museum, Westerham Press, 1983, no folio)
Beuys insisted on a recognition of the whole, not just those aspects of the whole which were capable of giving pleasure and instant gratification. Beuys opened up a route to the possible, a kinetic realm where beauty was as available as anything else. All that was forbidden was apathy.
Beauty, however, becomes an archaic concept in Beuys’s sphere. Not that what we recognize as beautiful is banished. Rather, that limitation of regarding beauty as an object of veneration or a holding a mirror up to the ideal is extended. Beuys creates a new idea of beauty. One that would regard as silly the traditional conception of that being beautiful which satisfies a sentiment within us that reflects to us some scene of recreation or sereneness or leisure (I’m thinking of Impressionism); the art object existing to soothe us.
While Impressionist paintings are undeniably beautiful, it is also undeniable that they helped to create and to preserve—in their depiction of the pleasures of cafe life, the comfortable drawing room interiors, the attended ladies at bath—a class divided from the world in its comforts and signs of sophistication. Beauty is attendant as the price paid for financial superiority.
Beauty, here, is a means of escaping from the issues and obligations of the day. It is a way to avoid engagement with the mundane reality surrounding one; a way to lift oneself out of the ditch of the ordinary; to ascend to a plane where comfort is allowable to those who can afford it. Beauty separates those who appreciate it and wish to reside within its frontiers, from the peasant and working class who can only dream. Lotto is a current beauty.
Recently, Arthur Danto, in his Nation column, made the distinction between art that retained “a continuity with classical antiquity, with marble forms and cadenced architectures, with clarity, certainty, exactitude and the kind of universability Kant believed integral to our concept of beauty…” (Danto, Arthur, “What Happened to Beauty,” The Nation, Vol. 254, No. 12, March 30, 1992, p. 419) and that contemporary work which he saw as discontinuous with that tradition.
I’d contend that beauty is found in the unfamiliarity of Beuys’s work. To the person who comes to a Beuys’s piece of action, who is open to the encounter, a whole new realm, unconceived before, is made available. Beauty comes in the steering of us into new places where we transcend the familiar relation we had with objects. In his ritualizations, those objects or materials—like fat, felt—are transformed into instruments of a secular upheaval. It is that moving away from the traditional models, Beuys’s insistence on rejecting just those standards the usually less conservative Danto defines as necessary for the beauty experience, that openness to a multicultural model, a willingness to include all models not just the white bourgeois crowd pleaser standard, that shapes what Beuys has called his “social sculpture.”

David Tremlell: The Spring Recordings

Duchamp’s urinal blazed the trail. If the Dada movement insisted on slapping the public’s face in order to demand alternatives to the affable, to impolitely wake society up to the limits of its current progression, it still continued to operate in that society’s forum. Though it wished to transform society, its operators were too bound with that system to give up the privileges that society afforded them. What are its artists doing, in photo after photo, wearing the clothes of the bourgeois they deride so aggressively? Why do they adapt the affectations and symbols—in their tuxedos, stiff collars, and fine dresses—of that system they would seem to detest? Many of the Dada artists come right out of the privileged class, and that’s the point: you don’t come out. You remain, no matter how fervently you deny it. You’re connected and a degree of outrageousness will be accepted as the euphoria of an art parlor game. Which is not to deny the power of the art itself by regarding it as product for patrons who had the taste andforesight to collect it.
Beuys certainly inherits Dada’s rage at the powers that be and he responds with Dada’s audacity at not remaining subservient to the restrictions that system would oppress expression with. Dada was an awakening in the form of a movement—artistic, activist/social, but most forcefully, psychological: Its artists refused to adhere to the limits of the expected, or the patronized obligation to entertain and please. Their break was radical in its insistence on offending. It was a people voicing resistance to a social system that would prefer decoration to intellectual fervor. Dada sought to undermine, to question, to reject.
Speaking of Polke, Danto points out that being that the artist was born in 1941, his “aesthetic of ruin” proceeds from the conditions of his childhood in a devastated Germany, going on to surmise that “in the older spirit of Dada, his art is an indictment of the values of those responsible for the ruination of World War II.” (Danto, p. 421)
Beuys might be seen in the same way. Except Beuys’s work doesn’t need to condemn or indict or find blame or name names. It reacts by offering alternatives, by not playing by the rules of that system which would destroy itself. His art breaks with the need for that value system; it makes not attempt to be accepted or to offer itself for judgment to that bureaucratic maze. By not accepting the criteria, the rules, Beuys courageously forges ahead into new, unexplored territory. He doesn’t prolong the themes and variations of the machinery. What his step tells us is that it’s possible, indeed necessary, to seek new routes. He takes former student Kiefer to task, sighing that Kiefer just didn’t get it.
Many of the aspects of Arnold Schoenberg’s music that Theodor Adorno investigates so passionately, further illustrates what I’m addressing here. Adorno speaks of Schoenberg’s being “driven incessantly by the disgust of everything he produces which is not entirely new.” (Adorno, Theodor W., “Arnold Schoenberg, 1874–1951,” in Prisms, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA., 1981, p. 151) The boldness of creating a music varying from the Wagnerian standard is stressed. Adorno finds in Schoenberg a champion of new processes, a perfect exemplifier of that daring, courage and conviction so necessary in making it new. Adorno recognizes the psychological daring of Schoenberg’s breakthrough, his willingness to forge ahead into unfamiliar terrain. He calls for the “renunciation of the customary crutches of a listening which always knows what to expect.” (Adorno, p. 149)
This is what Beuys demands. His work points to the necessity of not depending on a conforming to the established norms as this can only lead to stasis. With Beuys, affability ceases, as Adorno exclaimed about Schoenberg. No longer can art be used to separate the pleasing from the entirety of experience. Beuys’s work demonstrates how to accept the range of sensations and include them all. “He sins against the division of life into work and leisure . . .” (Adorno, p. 150)

Currently on display on the second floor of the DIA Center for the Arts’ building at 548 West 22nd Street is a version of Beuys’s installation Arena—where would I have got if had been intelligent!, dated 1970–72.
Approaching the DIA building on a Sunday afternoon, salsa music blares out of an open doorway, the only sound on the otherwise desolate westernmost edge of 22nd street. With the street of closed warehouses empty of all activity, it seems like old New York. Corrugated steel gates are drawn on most doorways. The culture seeker is drawn to the one building on the block with trees in front and a neat facade. One enters the building and feels a slight sense of rescue from the dangers of the street as you quickly acclimate to the familiarity of the museum lobby and welcome its safety: front desk, book and gift shop, doors and stairs leading to the quested. This experience has its price: $3.
The second floor space is a huge, clean expanse. The concrete floor is painted a light gray and extends in its uninterrupted flatness much further than one would expect in a city context. The outer perimeter arcs around with its wings divided into 3 alcoves on each side. One hundred panels are hung neatly and orderly winding around the entirety of the wall space. The panels are each of an identical size with identical industrial-type frames fabricated from two rectangular rimes that fit together and are bolted flush. Most panels display photographs of Beuys in performance or capture him in conversation at various “actions” with audience members and participants, or the photos are of objects from his workshop, some the basic materials, others the materials juxtaposed with other objects instituting a piece.
Though this is a Beuys exhibit, most, if not all, of the photos were not made by Beuys. The art is not the usually ascribed medium of photography. The photographs document the art, the performances, the tools and component elements used in the performances.
The person or persons who took these photos—who in a traditional context would be the “artist”—is not even mentioned. That person is an anonymous helper, a lab assistant or studio assistant, performing the drudge work. Beuys’s aura hogs the attention, absorbs the focus. Photos of corners of workplaces become Beuys’s workplace, close-up details become details of Beuys’s objects. A ready-made page, removed from a magazine, smeared with, perhaps, animal fat, is a Beuysian piece. There are no labels, no titles to insist on a meaning or to steer our associations.
The photos are the relics, the holy objects in the enshrining of Beuys’s work, of offering witness to the energy field still emanating from these performances and the studio clutter. The photograph’s grainy textures, torn edges, out of focus, badly lit, obscured subjects, irreverently cropped, poorly printed, creased—all elements abhorrent to the gallery/archival system—point the way to a reordering of priorities: It announces that the acts recorded are more important than the materials used to preserve them. A radical restructuring is going on. Beuys’s emphasis is not on creating objects, or in this case, “high-art” photographs (in the sense of pristine, sellable prints). He’s involving the viewer in a different way. He’s offering, like a scrapbook, some samples from his playing field. These are the ingredients of his recipe. We don’t regard these photos as fine art prints, each to be admired and praised. Instead, they become evidence and part of Beuys’s process, defying the devotional aspects of art: art piece as precious object, as material for consumer passion, art as collateral, art as prestigious product.
Beuys doesn’t participate in that process. His system offers the alternative of accepting all as part of the art process, not just the pristine result, suitable for framing and admiring; and buying and selling. His art is a call for inclusion; of calling into the realm of art the everyday object—felt, workshop materials—as well as inviting in the organic—live and dead animals, trees, fat, himself.
We recognize common things—a phonograph record, a piano, branches, flashlights, a horse, tools, string—but it is their arrangement into unfamiliar confluences that startles us and transforms the way we perceive the formerly taken for granted.
What is “arty” about putting a branch over a phonograph record or two bricks on a hotplate? Just as we might adjust to the shock of the carelessness, casualness of the materials, our sense of values might adjust to this reordering, this playful questioning of structures, the crossing of boundaries, not adhering to the rigidity of formerly unquestioned purposefulness, the refusal to accept the authority of the preconscribed, to become acclimated to the re-ordering of a things’ “thingness.”

nature(37,473)

seasons(320)

spring (50)

weather(3,204)

wind (122)

objects(12,270)

fine arts and music(1,757)

audio cassette (2)    (my insertion from Ideas expressed in DIA)

“By combining Vitex agnus castus with the coldness of cobalt and the warmth of sulphur, then making active manual contact with the female element copper, Beuys was asserting the role of the human being by activating the battery; ‘Energy emanates from the two poles, male and female. My action drew them together. I mean a different concept of chastity produced by this reaction and the conflict of elements.’ . . . This implies an active struggle and leads back to the meaning of the arena in which so much of Beuys’s life is spent, in discussion, political organization, permanent conference and the circus of the art world.” (Tisdall, Caroline, Joseph Beuys, The Solomon Guggenheim Museum, NY, 1979, p. 225)

In this current incarnation at DIA, the two-foot-high piles of slabs stand apart in the vastness of the room with an oil can placed besides them. This is what remains from that occurrence and seems a sentimental reminder. It’s difficult to label this arrangement as sculpture. It exists on its own terms yet is also the cocoon from which Beuys emerged. It’s like a postcard from the artist to remind us not only of the essential elements themselves, but also of what he did with them twenty years ago in Edinburgh, Naples, and Rome.
This presentation, even in the solemnity of its 100 cast frames, arranged so pristinely in perfect symmetry in the trade-hall-like expanse of the DIA room, is about process and celebrates indeterminacy and flux. It is unwilling to accept the idea of the fixed, the end product. It refuses the finality that a finished product represents. The polished surface, the slick facade, the object of veneration is a death to Beuys. It’s a closed door, an end to discussion: There it is. Now there’s nothing to be done but admire it.
The whole body of Beuys’s project is to suggest transformation, to show the way, to set an example. The “actions,” or performances he staged, were rituals to induce new ways of perceiving and to heighten appreciation of the everyday objects involved. Skeptics can call these acts silly and ridiculous—Beuys sitting in a tub of water with flashlights attached to each thigh is documented in this installation—but the act initiates a change. One is changed simply by contact with the site, absorbed into the theater, the ritualization. One has come freely to participate. There are no observers, one can’t remain detached. You become an initiate. Beuys’s performance—his invocations and even his talking to the audience afterwards—has a charisma and power that survives and casts its healing spell even in these photographs and piles of stones with oil can from twenty years ago.

(The previous article was written by Greg Masters and is included in The Artchive with his permission.)

Bibliography

Adorno, Theodor W., “Arnold Schoenberg, 1874–1951,” in Prisms, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA., 1981

Danto, Arthur, “What Happened to Beauty,” The Nation, Vol. 254, No. 12, March 30, 1992

Galloway, David, “A Report from Germany,” Art in America, Vol. 74, No. 5, May 1986

Kuoni, Carin, editor, Energy Plan for the Western Man: Joseph Beuys in America, Four Walls Eight Windows, NYC, 1990

Kuspit, Donald, “Joseph Beuys: The Body of the Artist,” Artforum, Vol. XXIX, No. 10, Summer 1991

Lyotard, Jean-Francois, “Answering the Question: What Is Postmodernism,” in The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1984

MacKintosh, Alastair, “Beuys in Edinburgh,” Art and Artists, Vol. 5, No. 8, November 1970

Morgan, Robert C., review, ARTS Magazine, Vol. 63, No. 7, March 1989

Quartetto, exhibition catalog, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Milano, 1984

Schellman, Jorg and Bernd Kluser, editors, Multiples—Joseph Beuys, Catalogue Raisonne—Multiple Prints 1965–80, NYU Press, NYC 1980

Seymour, Anne, Joseph Beuys, Drawings, Victoria and Albert Museum, Westerham Press, 1983

Tisdall, Caroline, Joseph Beuys, The Solomon Guggenheim Museum, NYC, 1979

Zweite, Armin, editor, Beuys zu Ehren, catalog of exhibition at Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, 1986
(at DIA Center for the Arts)

— previously unpublished

 

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Art Review: A Master Opens the Door to an Empire ‘Dürer and Beyond’ By Karen Rosenberg


Hans Hoffman’s meticulous gouache of a hedgehog are examples of the bewildering styles and subjects

”The title of a new exhibition, “Dürer and Beyond: Central European Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1400-1700,” presents a bit of a conundrum. How do we get beyond Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), the ne plus ultra draftsman and all-around Northern Renaissance master, an artist so secure in his greatness that he painted himself as Jesus?
“Male Nude Lying on a Table,” an anonymous drawing in this Met show of Holy Roman Empire works.
We don’t, at least not often in this show, which surveys the Met’s holdings of drawings made before 1700 by artists working in the Holy Roman Empire (an area that today encompasses Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic and parts of other countries). But the offerings should nevertheless entice viewers to look more closely at the art of Central Europe, which absorbed diverse religious and stylistic influences from Italian, Dutch and Flemish art.

The Met’s curators are certainly giving the region more attention. Most of the drawings on view were acquired fairly recently, over the last two decades. Just outside the exhibition, in the Robert Wood Johnson Jr. Gallery, is a spillover show of related drawings, prints and manuscripts that entered the collection too late to make it into the catalog.

“Dürer and Beyond” was organized by Stijn Alsteens and Freyda Spira, curators in the Met’s drawings and prints department. It includes about 100 drawings, supplemented by prints, illustrated books and decorative objects.

The show sets the stage for Dürer with a drawing by an artist he admired, Martin Schongauer, of a man whose upturned gaze is accentuated by the wide brim of his hat. It’s thought to be a character study, but the features are distinct and specific enough to give it the presence of a portrait.

Strong as this image is, it can’t compete with what is probably the Met’s most outstanding drawing by Dürer: his “Self-Portrait and Studies of the Artist’s Hand and a Pillow” (1493). On this sheet of sketches the young artist furrows his brow and purses his lips in a look of withering intensity; he wears the same expression in a famous early self-portrait painting in the Louvre, for which this drawing is probably a study.

Dürer’s “Self-Portrait and Studies of the Artist’s Hand and a Pillow

His head is nonetheless overshadowed by a detailed and disproportionately large rendering of his left hand, and by an incongruous study of a squished pillow that occupies the bottom third of the page. Placed where his chest would be, it reads initially as an oversize heart. On the reverse side of the page (which is displayed in a double-sided frame) Dürer drew more pillows: six in all, scrunched and fluffed in various ways, their folds delineated by fishtail-like areas of cross-hatching.

                                               “Salvator Mundi”                                             

It’s tempting to linger here and among the other Dürers installed on a nearby wall: the unfinished oil painting “Salvator Mundi” (“Savior of the World”), with its visible underdrawing; a quick and tender sketch of the Holy Family in a garden; a spirited rendering of scampering, musical cherubs. But the show, which is organized chronologically, moves past the early 16th century.

Easing the transition is the gifted Hans Schäufelein, who spent time in the workshops of both Dürer and Holbein the Elder. In his “Portrait of a Man, Bust-Length, Wearing a Hat,” sprightly curls of red chalk give buoyancy to a subject with angular features and a generally serious mien.

As the exhibition works its way through the 16th century, and away from Dürer, it encompasses a bewildering array of styles and subjects. The shift from naturalism to allegory, or from an Italian Renaissance mode to a Netherlandish one, can be disorienting.

Joachim Lüchteke’s “Allegory of Art,” from 1595

Hans Hoffman’s meticulous gouache of a hedgehog and Virgil Solis’s profile of a greyhound, for instance, share a corner with Peter Flötner’s bronze plaquettes of figures representing Charity and Temperance. Nearby is a drastically foreshortened male nude by an anonymous German artist; the pose recalls Mantegna’s “Dead Christ,” but the strong contour lines resemble those in engravings from the Netherlands.

With a bit more clarity this part of the show also delves into the relationship between drawing and the decorative arts in Central Europe, with examples of bronze medals, glass roundels and stained-glass windows. Sixteenth-century drawings by Swiss stained-glass designers like Jost Amman, for instance, look unfinished because the artists did not bother to complete patterns that could easily be reproduced by the glassmakers.

The 17th-century drawings aren’t as compelling. Writing in the catalog, Mr. Alsteens admits that during this period in Central Europe “no dominating personality emerged — no Raphael or Dürer, no Titian or Bruegel, no Rubens or Poussin.” The lack of star power is felt most acutely in the final gallery, of competent but forgettable biblical and mythological scenes.

And so the standout in the show’s final gallery is not a Düreresque genius of a draftsman, but a humble genre painter: Nikolaus Knüpfer. He is represented by two eyebrow-raising treatments of Venus and Cupid, a drawing and a small painting.

In the painting a careless Venus is awkwardly half-seated on her bed, having just knocked over her chamber pot. The drawing is even more outrageous; here, a urinating Cupid misses the pot — possibly on purpose, to judge from his mischievous grin.

Knüpfer is normally considered a Dutch artist; he was born in Leipzig but settled in Utrecht. But his inclusion in this show of Central European drawing, however tenuous, catapults us from the Northern Renaissance into the world of Jan Steen, Gabriel Metsu and Vermeer: the “beyond” in “Dürer and Beyond.”

“Dürer and Beyond: Central European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1400-1700” continues through Sept. 3 at the Met, (212) 535-7710, metmuseum.org.

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