Tag Archives: artists

On Barbara Kruger and her 2021 show

Barbara Kruger

There is a new show of Barbara Kruger’s work called: “THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU.” It’s playing from now through to Jan. 24, 2022 at the Art Institute of Chicago.

I had a few thoughts on it. One thought: I believed I had two favorite artists from the 80s (Basquiat and Haring) but it turns out I have three (Kruger).  I had mistakenly not placed her in that era. But as the Times shows:

Since the early 1980s, the engine of her work, and its effectiveness, has been formatting — the candy apple red bar containing white sans serif type, rendered in Futura Bold Oblique, conveying aphorisms that could be taunts or pleas.

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(her work started) much more humbly, as paste-ups made by hand, an extension of Kruger’s work as a graphic designer at Condé Nast magazines. Twenty of her 1980s originals are displayed in a suboptimally lit walkway. Up against the room-size works, they feel like modest afterthoughts. But up close they are deeply moving, almost innocent. Each juxtaposes a gnomic phrase with a stark black and white image, but at this scale, they scan more as private entreaties than global dictates — rave fliers for young agitators.

Second thought: just like Basquiat and Haring took their art from the street to the galleries and museums, so did Kruger.  And just like the two men, she is now a dominant part of our culture. Back to the Times:

And that underscores the complexity of revisiting Kruger at this moment in image dissemination: Her strict-rule paste-up approach to interrogating groupthink has become so defining, so signature that her innovations are now core grammar. Her art is recombinant. It exists whether or not she’s present.

Which brings me to my final thought. Sure it is easy to use elements of her work to mimic her (waves to the folks at Supreme). But looking at the work on display I can see it has power in a way that those who copy her do not. The scale, the colour, the composition: they all demonstrate the qualities she has as an artist that has made her influential and deserving of such a show.

For more, see the Times piece: Barbara Kruger: Infinitely Copied, Still Unmatched – The New York Times. Better still, go to Chicago and see the show while you can.

Two recent pieces on Basquiat

Here on this blog, I like to post anything I can about my favorite artists, and Basquiat is one of my most favorite. Here’s two recent pieces on him:

  1. How Basquiat and Street Artists Left Their Mark on Hip-Hop Culture – The New York Times
  2. Basquiat’s Painting on an Apartment Door Acquired by Dallas Museum of Art

The last one has this incredible photo in it:

Basquiat with two rich women

First off, the photo is titled: Jean-Michel Basquiat at the opening of Primitivism in 20th Century Art, 1985 (photo by Andy Hanson). I can’t believe that any museum or gallery categorized his work as Primitivism. (Ok, I can.) And then that photo. Basquiat looking cool and sophisticated. The women…well…something else. Anyway….good links. Check them out.

On what you can learn from the obituaries of the not quite famous


What can we learn from the obituaries of the not quite famous? I thought of that when I was reading the sad fate of Hash Halper, here: Hash Halper, Street Artist Who Adorned New York With Hearts, Dies at 41 – The New York Times.

Obituaries in big newspapers tend to be for the rich and famous and powerful and great. Mainly. But sometimes you read about someone who was none of those things, who was struggling, yet who affected people in a positive way. Someone like Hash Halper.

What we learn, perhaps, is that it doesn’t matter if you were rich and powerful.  Bernie Madoff was rich and powerful. It didn’t make his life better or more worthwhile. Hash Halper did more good with his chalk hearts than Madoff did with all he had. In the end, it all washes away, save for the things you did to affect the lives of others.

We can learn many things from the obituaries of the not quite famous. Maybe we can learn/be reminded of what it is we want to do in the world, while we are here. That’s a very fine thing to learn indeed.

Rest in peace, Hash Halper.

(Image Kholood Eid for The New York Times, link)

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Advice to young (and not so young) artists. (We are all artists in some way)


Here are two good pieces full of advice for artists.

One big: Advice to Young Aspiring Artists from Patti Smith, David Byrne & Marina Abramović | Open Culture

One small: None of us know what will happen – Austin Kleon

Key quote from the Austin Kleon piece is this, from Laurie Anderson:

The world may end. You’re right. But that’s not a reason to be scared. None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it. You know? What are you working for, posterity? We don’t know if there is any posterity.

(Image from pexels.com)

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Where to See Basquiat Around the World

A good item to add to your bucket list, if you are a fan of Basquiat: travel the world and see all the places where his works are displayed. To do that, you will need this list: Where to See Basquiat Around the World – Barron’s. And money. And time.

After you do that, you can go see all the Vermeers in the world!

(Image: Wikiart.org)

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Can you work a day job and still make great art?

If you are Philip Glass you can. And likely anyone who has the capacity to make art can as well. It may take you longer, but you can do it. To see how he did it, see this piece: How Philip Glass Went From Driving Taxis to Composing – The Atlantic

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Knowing more women artists: Berthe Morisot


Sadly, I don’t know enough women artists. If this is you as well, then you want to check out this piece: You know Monet and Manet. This female Impressionist deserves your attention, too. – The Washington Post.  I agree: Morisot is one artist you should know better.

As well as doing a good job of summarizing this great artist, hey highlight the travelling show that is currently running and highlighting her work. If you can, it would be well worth visiting it if it coming near you. (Currently it is Quebec City.)

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The Notebooks of Jean-Michel Basquiat

I hadn’t seen this before, but for fans of the artist, this is a must view: The Unknown Notebooks of Jean-Michel Basquiat – The New York Times.

I love everything about NYC in the 80s, and I especially like this.