Bruce Nauman is one of a handful of contemporary artists who have shaped the current state of art. Like John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, and even Yoko Ono, the contemporary artist has gone from performance to performance to performance, from video to painting to sculpture, crossing every line of artistry to make way for new artists (many of which have had work featured on this very site). They all have their hallmarks, conceptual posts to hang their career on, where–when you see it–you know it is a Baldessari or a Ruscha or an Ono.
For Bruce Nauman, it is his works in neon light that define him. Similar to his light installation peers Dan Flavin, James Turrell, and Craig Kauffman, Bruce Nauman took his artistic concepts and filtered them through neon light to form figures and words, echoing his work in video, photography, and drawing. Many of his neon pieces use words and figures, unlike other neon/light artists who were using the medium to create and project an unwavering emotion onto a space. Nauman made his neon pieces minimalist/maximalist emotions: they painted a space pink one minute, flickered on purple another, flickered black one minute, and then combined all the colors at once. Like neon signs you see on any store front that flicker red and blue, Nauman took this idea and embedded a text, story, and emotion to it, an incomparable achievement.
One Hundred Live and Die is what many consider to be Nauman’s masterpiece. Sad and hopeful, One Hundred flickers through each possible flippant, mundane, and tragic way to live or die in a blaze of neon exuberance. Each phrase (“LAUNCH AND LIVE,” “FALL AND DIE,” “SPIT AND LIVE,” etc.) light the room with its orange, blue, white, or whatever color it may be. It paints the room and provides a surprisingly profound commentary on life, telling a story with each phrase, reiterating just how fucked up life can be (which may elicit tears, laughter, or blank stares). In the end, One Hundred resonates with all one hundred phrases lit, blindingly beautiful and a little overwhelming.
One Hundred Live and Die, like all Nauman work, play with neon and text, a physical space, and human emotion. They are absolutely beautiful and undoubtedly modern. Nauman is definitely an artist whose work you should do your damnedest to see: they are somber, they are fun, and they are inconic.
Yesterday, Discovery launched without further delay for the 38th and final time into space. I’ve mentioned before that Discovery propelled the first American woman into space, launched the Hubble telescope, and has now carried Robonaut 2 to the International Space Station. Its launch is significant not just because of Discovery’s history (here is a timeline of Discovery milestones) but also because it brings us closer to the end of all shuttle missions.
Today, we’re featuring the photographs of Matthias Schaller from a recent exhibition at Ben Brown Fine Arts. Even though the suits are empty, they have a presence about them that is unsettling. A statement from the artist reads, in part:
…I believe we are all astronauts. We are all alone, we are isolated from each other. And we are all trying by verbal and non-verbal communication to get in contact with each other. To not feel alone. Each individual is a space with its own rules, materials, history and relations to the space outside of itself.
It’s not exactly uplifting. Part of the curatorial text mentions Schaller’s interest in what we’ve left behind. As NASA undergoes major structural changes, the fear is that we’re abandoning things in the future.
I’ve posted many a time about Harmony Korine, the eccentric filmmaker and artist who helped shaped a young Bobby. So I was happily surprised when I got the Urban Outfitters Spring 2011 catalog in the mail, and the whole thing was shot by Mr. Korine. It’s a pretty crazy looking affair. Lots of analog photos that have been fucked up in some way or another. It seems to me like less of a fashion catalog and more of a collection of art, which I think is admirable for UO to be doing. I’ve included a bunch of my favorites down below, definitely take a peek.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that Urban Outfitters has started to move away from their anti-design and has moved back into being quirky, a much better look for them, in my opinion. These observations based on their home page, which is looking a lot better.
When those of us who are less artistically inclined refuse to give up our dreams of art stardom, we often turn to abstract and conceptual art. Of course, you either have it or you don’t and Finnish artist Jaako Mattila clearly falls within the first category. Mattila’s abstract works, which traverse a number of different mediums, are beautiful examples of the symbiosis between colour, shape and form. When reflecting on his art, Mattila made the following comment:
My work is of nothing in particular. I’m interested in the fundamental elements that create our sense, or illusion, of the world. That is perhaps the main reason why my work appears as it does. I work in very varied mediums and try to find new ways to create images constantly. I get inspired by cleanliness, emptiness and the complexity of pure nature.
His interest in emptiness and nature finds expression in minimalist compositions that make nothingness aesthetically appealing. I never would have guessed that nothingness would look this good.