pordenone who? a year of akickupthearts

11 July 2011 § 2 Comments

Amazingly I have now been blogging my way through the London art scene for a whole year now. I thank all those of you – some 20,000 – who have bothered to read my assorted ramblings.

Meanwhile, thanks to the nice people at WordPress, there are all sorts of reports and analyses to discover what the great British public (clearly in this case a notch above the average!) really are interested in.  Which blogs were most read, the search terms you used to find the site and what you had for breakfast? I shall reveal all….

OK, not your breakfasts, but you get my drift – there is an awful lot of analysis available and there are all sorts of statistical traps to tumble in to, the chief one being that any ‘visitor’ analysis reflects what I have actually written about eg: Marc Quinn would not be on the list because I did not write about him. Another problem is that even if I wrote about ‘Picasso’ daily who who click my blog amongst the zillions of Picasso search results?  Treat the ‘charts’ below with caution but you never know they may actually reveal something?

1. Most visited and searched of the year, by a mile, was Pordenone Montenari, an unfortunate recluse who was rocketed in to the news by an Indian fund manager who thought that he could make a quick buck by promoting him as a newly discovered genius – he isn’t (image above).

2. I spent a couple of spare hours compiling a brief list of art-related humorous quotes and jokes. Sadly it trounced many deeply considered blogs of serious critical analysis and was second most searched. Oh well…

3. Amazingly Wolf Vostell came in third. I wrote just one feature about him and commented that he was sadly ignored in the annals of post-war art. Obviously not by many hundreds of you! Exhibition curators take note…

4. Ah, then comes the first contemporary artist – clearly it will be Emin, Hirst or Banksy perhaps? No, it is Eugenie Scrase, the oft- ridiculed winner of TV’s School of Saatchi. Ignore the power of TV at your peril. Worth a flutter if she ever gets a solo gallery show.

5 & 6. Perhaps we shall now get on to some serious art? Nope. Next is Ben Wilson the ‘chewing gum artist’. Well, he is quite interesting. Picasso slips meaninglessly in at 6th before the next half-dozen places. These are taken by contemporary artists of which I have featured literally hundreds, many of them mentioned numerous times. I have covered all the emerging artists championed for example by Saatchi and the top commercial galleries. Are these the ‘cream’ of those featured? Is too little being written about them? Should we take more notice of them in the future?

7. Hannah Wilke – thanks, at least in part, to a great review of the Alison Jacques Gallery exhibition written by Sue Hall.

8. Jacco Olivier. Mesmeric fusing of painting and the moving images at Victoria Miro.

9. Alison Jackson. Hilarious and sometimes disturbing photos that ‘depict our suspicions’. Wry comments on our relationship with celebrity.

10. Wangechi Mutu. Striking paintings and collages referencing cultural identity.

11. Michael Fullerton. A brilliant show at Chisenhale and with work in British Art Now 7, his star is rising fast.

12. Following closely behind was Ida Ekblad, young and inventive Danish multi-media artist.

13. Clare Woods paints the strange, dark world of urban undergrowth.

Following close behind are Littlewhitehead and Toby Ziegler. A little farther back is Damien Hirst – perhaps surprising he’s not higher, but then again he does get rather a lot of column inches written about him.

Littlewhitehead - It Happened in the Corner

Biggest surprise? Perhaps the fact that Tracey Emin is not on the list – or in fact even in the top 50 artists – despite the fact that my Love is What You Want Hayward review appears on the first couple of pages on a Google search and that I have featured her regularly when in contrast eg: Olivier and Ekblad I featured just once. Emin perhaps is not what you want?

So there we have it. After a year of careful and deep intellectual musing on the complexities of the contemporary art scene what you really were most interested in were an Italian recluse and a few jokes. Now where did I hear about that one legged, reclusive, dwarf, artist?

air in art – postscript

7 September 2010 § Leave a comment

Following yesterdays post a couple more thoughts. Courtesy of the Critcismism blog we have Martin Creed‘s Half the Air in a Given Space. Here he calculates exactly half the air that should normally occupy the room and measures the equivalent into balloons. He translates something intangible in to something real. One walks through the room and becomes aware of the normally invisible/ignored air around you. 

Air naturally is also a life-giving force. Invisible yet essential. Catharine D’Ignazio, otherwise known as Kanarinka is a US-based collaborative performance artist. In a project called It Takes 154,000 Breaths to Evacuate Boston in 2007/8 she ‘ran the entire evacuation route system in Boston and attempted to measure the distance in human breath.’  Post 9/11 this was Breath as a measurement of time, distance and fear. 

Kanarinka - Breath Archive 2008

The project also involved a podcast and a sculptural installation of  ‘the archive of tens of thousands of breaths.’ The archive comprises a series of jars, each with the sound of the breath used to fill it. Very neat! Wolf Vostell did something similar in 1972 broadcasting live the sound of gallery visitors chewing gum presented to them. Here it was the Fluxus doctrine of art=life=art connecting the visitor directly with the art. 

Clearly any discussion of air in art ends up largely as essentially an examination of what effects the air has on other objects, what  ‘contains the air’ or what ‘the air contains’ rather than the air itself. An imaginary thesis perhaps could translate this as air 1/ in the context of the natural environment 2/ as a life-giving force and a concept 3/ as a container for other matter and 4/ as an object to be contained and used? 

Ultimately the problem of course is that it is essentially invisible and only conceptual art, such as that of  Duchamp and Creed, seems to address this with even partial success. I will however leave any deeper analysis to others more talented and knowledgeable – perhaps the guy at Barcelona University who is doing a thesis on art and breath! Visit his Art & Breath Blog here. 

Enough from me – I have art funds to analyse. Now there is a source for a lot of hot air in art! New post coming soon!! 

who’s afraid of the big bad wolf (vostell)?

22 July 2010 § Leave a comment


Miss Amerika 1968


Right – hands up anyone who has heard of German artist Wolf Vostell. OK, gold star for you Helmut, but for the rest of you – I thought not – extra homework tonight. And if you are good students and read to the end of the (rather factual) post, at the end Ill tell you two amazing facts.

Firstly let me tell you first of all that Vostell (1932-1998) has a whole museum, in Malpartida, Spain, dedicated to his work. He has been shown over 8o0 times worldwide, has had 210 solo shows and is included in many of the world’s most prestigious public and private collections. He is well known of the continent and there is even a Vostell ‘art hotel’ in Berlin full of his work.

Next – sit up straight – a bit about Vostell. As a student in post-war Germany period the influence of abstract expressionists like  Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko was all-pervasive. However as a child he witnessed the hell and destruction of war. His reaction was to attempt to address these horrors and to incorporate all the aspects of the modern world whilst ensuring that he created something  he called ‘more meaningful than tachist painting and sculpture.’ Early work was in the studio of poster artist Cassandre and subsequently, looking for direction he felt that ‘painting did not include the ‘phenomena of our changing and pulsating life’.

German Outlook1958-63


In de-coll/age, a word that he ‘discovered’ in a Figaro headline about a plane crash that he found a way to describe and conceive his work. It symbolised his belief that much of art in the 20th century was as much about destruction as it was creation – he recreated by destroying, recombining, disrupting and merging to create ‘not order but the transformation of order’ and also produced his own art publication with this name.

He echoed much of what was happening around him – in Europe there were movements like Nouveau Realism, Nul, Zero, the Independent Group and the Situationists whilst in the USA there was Pop, Fluxus and John Cage’s experimental music – everyone was reacting to the new world order by pushing the boundaries of art –it was a time of construction and composition, destruction and chance, chaos and transformation.

Reflecting the ‘anti-art’ aesthetics of dada Vostell went further than Duchamp who declared the ‘object as art’ by placing the ‘action as art’ – art not restricted but extended. He felt that life within art should not be just a gesture but should be a constituent part, reinforcing the Fluxus doctrine that art = life = art. He determined to include the spectator within the work and created ‘environments’ incorporating varied elements drawn from the wider world.

Lipstick Bomber 1963


He was also a prominent member of the Fluxus group – think Yoko Ono and George Maciunas – organizing its first European festival, and with others like Allan Kaprow, was a leader in the ‘happenings’ movement of the 1960’s. He was the first artist to include working televisions and in 1963 presented the first video installation in the USA and is considered one of the earliest proponents of video art. He was an innovator, experimenting widely with materials such as lead and concrete, used diverse objects such as trains, cars and planes and included other elements within his art such as sound, light and movement.

Well done everyone. Now the amazing facts. It seems that England is the one afraid! Vostell has only ever has TWO works shown in the UK – and that was back in the 1960’s otherwise being almost totally ignored. Secondly you can pick up works at auction for just a few thousand euros. This has to be a bargain, but just dont hold your breath waiting for the British art world to notice this particular big, bad Wolf!

If you liked this post please make a comment or like it. If you like the blog please subscribe for regular updates (top right of page). Many thanks! akuta

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