5 December 2013 § Leave a comment
Its just not the done thing in the art world for an artist to have made their name elsewhere. God help an author, actor, musician or businessman with a talent in art – the art establishment will do its worst to avoid taking them seriously. Artists are required to be devoted to their trade and where any notion of their work being something other than a full-time activity damns them to the sidelines of history.
It is also dangerous for known artists to flirt with fame elsewhere. Yoko Ono has been frequently ridiculed despite her position as one of the most significant artists of her era – her sin of course was to cavort with a Beatle whilst making as much music as art. Grayson Perry‘s work is now less valid to many following over-publicity of his cross dressing and chat shows appearances. There are many more of course.
Those who first found fame outside the art world will find it even tougher. Bob Dylan and Ronnie Wood are trying their damnedest but are not accepted in the art world, their mediocre work doesn’t help. A new name to consider is James Franco. This from Franco’s Wiki entry: ‘an American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, teacher and author.’ They have obviously forgotten to add artist, since he has this year been shown at no less than Pace London.
His exhibition was entitled Psycho Nacirema (American backwards), featuring multi-media installations and presented by the Scottish artist Douglas Gordon. It presents a mise-en-scène of director Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller Psycho, remodelling the infamous Bates Motel intertwined with the 1920’s Arbuckle scandal.
Gordon, an artist of considerable experience and a reputation, has openly acted as a curator and teacher for Franco reworking one of Gordon’s most well-known works – 24 Hour Psycho (1993). Franco states “Film is the medium that employs all art forms, but it is contained within the screen. We take this multi- form idea and pull it through the screen, so that the different forms are once again fully dimensional and a new nexus of interaction and significance is created. In this show, we go back to the original locations and images of Psycho and alter them so that once again the viewer’s relationship with the material changes. One becomes an actor when interacting with this work. Film becomes raw material and is sculpted into new work.”
This was an interesting multi-media collaboration, nicely summarised by Franco’s statement above, however, the suspicion for now remains that Gordon’s contribution was the greater. One suspects that he fleshed out Franco’s bare bones in to an interesting and surprisingly good exhibition. I shall look forward to the next and wait to see if more of Franco’s hand is visible!
James Franco Artist or actor? Undecided!
Psycho Nacirema was at Pace London between 6 June & 27 July 2013
See video at NOWNESS blog here
- James Franco and Seth Rogen Bound 3 Parody (celebnmusic247.com)
- James Franco & Seth Rogen Mock Kanye (kluc.cbslocal.com)
- James Franco and Chris O’Dowd to star in ‘Of Mice & Men’ on Broadway (buzzhub.wordpress.com)
13 January 2012 § 1 Comment
Grayson Perry seems to have rather a marmite love-hate relationship with some of the British art world. I suspect that for his critics this is rather more due to the somewhat cosy relationship that he has with the mass media than his artistic abilities, after all what other contemporary artist appears on Have I Got News For You, features in documentaries or stars on TV chat shows? Perhaps he is rather too popular with the public for those who prefer their artists to be a bit more like, well, contemporary artists. In any case he is sure to be even more popular after this wonderful exhibition – will they hate him more or less? I suspect they’ll have to bite their lip and admit his great talent.
At the British Museum Perry has been given free rein to dig in to their vast collection and he has selected exceptionally well. Picking charming and quirky pieces – what else would we expect? – he celebrates the craftsmen and women who have made all those pieces that adorn the museum. Items cover two million years and feature diverse themes – you will find perhaps religious icons, grotesque masks, tiny reliquaries, strange totems, modern badges and pre-Columbian pots. There are inevitably plenty of phalluses, a bit of cross dressing, some sexual politics – all are linked by Perry’s own creations that are slipped in amongst them.
Jumping from culture to culture, leaping through time – and purpose – objects are juxtaposed to great effect. The biggest shock perhaps is that it is virtually seamless. The old and new mingle as if created at least by the same souls or spirits, if not the selfsame hand. Untold millennia of craft merges in to one fascinating, witty and often moving exhibition. The show culminates with the celebratory cast-iron ‘tomb’ which in the form of a boat carries a flint hand axe (the oldest artefact in the museum) as well as vials of blood sweat and tears, and sails ever onward. We emerge with feeling of connection with the past – a glorious celebration of human creativity and cultural diversity.
Grayson Perry is represented by Victoria Miro.
- Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum (telegraph.co.uk)
- Studio visit with artist Grayson Perry (lostateminor.com)
- Making connections (britishmuseum.org)
- Grayson Perry: the Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman – review (guardian.co.uk)
- VIDEO: Grayson Perry’s ode to craftsmen (bbc.co.uk)
12 August 2010 § Leave a comment
A previous post on Harry Hill the Idea Generation Gallery briefly discussed the term outsider art. This was mainly in respect to some basic ‘outsider’ credentials of Hill’s work. In retrospect however the term is rather difficult to use so briefly and I have been itching to expand on this brief mention, but focusing on contemporary art and adding traditional crafts into the mix.
This is not an overview of ‘outsider’ art since the terms attached to it are so broad, have been so widely misused and applied in a casual manner. Outsider, Naive, Folk, Visionary, Neuve Invention, Art Brut, Marginal, Intuitive are all variously used in connection with it, and have been used in varying ways in different places. Raw Vision has done a good job of definition on their website, even if the terms are frequently misused elsewhere.
Most interesting to me is the steady resurgence in interest not only in the more ‘traditional’ definition of this art but its latest incarnation within recent contemporary art. The deeply unfashionable nature of the naive/folk/craft tradition within the post-war art scene was especially attractive as a basis for rebellion for some British artists of the 1990’s. The award of the Turner Prize to Grayson Perry in 2003 brought this theme to the fore and, despite her disgust at the award to Perry, Tracey Emin’s wall-hangings and tent also betray the same craft origins.
Harry Hill has already been discussed and there are many other artists that could be added to the list of those who draw on, or are inspired by the same traditions. In particular are those painters of ‘amateurish’ style whose star has been on the ascendant in recent years. Coming to mind immediately is Alice Neel (above) with her current retrospective at the Whitechapel. Neel uses a casual style to portray the famous as well as marginalised and vulnerable of society – immigrants, children and the elderly. The title of the exhibition, Painted Truths, demonstarates the widely held view that this more natural ‘folksy’ style somehow allows Neel a deeper psychological insight in to he mind of the sitter. The portraits cerainly reveal a fragility and the paintings are delicate and sensitive. Interestingly Neel herself led a troubled life which included mental breakdown and attempted suicide.
Karen Kilimnik’s loose and ‘awkward’ style, is outwardly similar although she paints not from life but using appropriated images of celebrity. She is currently showing at Sprueth Magers, London. Elizabeth Peyton paints small, intense and colourful portraits of friends, celebrity and monarchy. Like Kilimnik and Neel she has found broader acceptance only since the 1990’s. More recently there are artists like Ryan Mosley who combines multiple traditions to create mysterious quasi-mystical worlds and Lynette Boakye who produces naive and dark portrait of imaginary characters, have also appeared on the scene amongst many more.
None of this adds up to a movement, and many of the artists have of course been successful and well established for many years. Nevertheless the trend is there for all to see – the Whitechapel has had major shows featuring Neel and Peyton in the last twelve months, Kilimnik was at the Serpentine a couple of years back and features in the current Saatchi imagazine, which also includes a substantial article entitled ‘The Folk Spirit in Contemporary Art’. Last but not least, the subject of the original posting, Harry Hill manages a few pages in the latest isue of Tate etc. I could mention many more artists and more exhibitions, but it is clear that the influence of these traditional and ‘outsider’ styles is here to stay – at least for a while yet with investment in this area less speculative and more reliable.
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- Alice Neel: Painted Truths at the Whitechapel Gallery, review (telegraph.co.uk)