Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Sturtevant, 1930-2014.  The bravest of her generation; Bruce Hainley's Under the Sign of [sic] makes clear just how brave.  Very few artists have meant more to me.  I thought about writing to her in the mid-2000s, but felt pretty intimidated and never followed though.  What could I say about her work that this tough-minded woman didn't already know?  A few of my recent pictures are in some sense "letters never sent," and what they are trying to say in their own roundabout way is "Thanks."

PETER HALLEY: Would you go back to the work you were making in the mid ’60s and describe how you came to those decisions?

Well, that work was a result of very long-term thinking. It was not something that just popped in my head, that’s for sure. See, in the ’60s, there was the big bang of pop art. But pop only dealt with the surface. I started asking questions about what lay beneath the surface. What is the understructure of art? What is the silent power of art?

PETER HALLEY: How did you translate that concern into making, say, your Johns Flag?

If you use a source-work as a catalyst, you throw out representation. And once you do that, you can start talking about the understructure. It seemed too simple at first. But it’s always the simple things that work.

PETER HALLEY: Going back to that Johns flag, how, specifically, does the work enable the viewer to think about the understructure?

Technique is crucial. It has to look like a Johns flag so that when you see it you say, “Oh that’s a Johns flag,” even though there’s no force there to make it exactly like the Johns. Quite the opposite — the characteristic force is lacking. So when you realize it’s not a Johns, you’re either jolted into immediately rejecting it, or the work stays with you like a bad buzz in your head. You have to start thinking, “What is going on here?”

PETER HALLEY: “Why did the artist do this?”

Well, you might think that too.  But a better question would be, “How does this work?”

<< Home

Powered by Blogger

.post-title { display: none!important; }