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What the devil artist I would ask me artists are just too lazy to learn out of. Common. Well such observations have led us to try to reduce the confusion surrounding contemporary art as we ask a question of art. Art each week at this time a question about contemporary art will be discussed by an art critic a scholar and a skeptic. It was a skeptic producer of the series Walt Richter. Do introduce the panelists. It has been several programs as we've gotten a full introduction to our regular panelists. Therefore it's seems in order to refresh our memories a little bit lives on away has been intimately connected with the art world for over 20 years and Englishman by birth. Mr. Holloway became associated with the National Gallery of London one hundred
forty eight. Since then he has lectured and written on art and has held office in a number of important art organizations that have become recognized as a leading art critic. In 1962 Lawrence Ottaway became curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City and at the time of the recording of these programs that are out away it was artist in residence at Southern Illinois University. Dr. Gearhart Magnus professor of fine arts came to his interest in art through. His interest in 17th century literature he soon discovered that there was a relationship between the literature and the art of the period and before a lot of his art and his interest in art matched his interest in literature. Prior to his appointment as professor of fine arts at Southern Illinois University Dr. Magnus was director of academic affairs at the Philadelphia College of Art. Our question today with which we're going to try to deal is what is the significance of the new art forms such as welded sculpture or found art
and happenings. We may touch on a few others. Let's turn to first of all again to Lawrence out why Lawrence. Well I first I suggest we modify welded sculpture as one of the you know things which are really very requiring definition and the exact dress less contemporary moment because I mean well did sculpture started to 50 years or more ago. I think probably the main development you're referring to as a fact. To me 15 years or so ago there was a great use of junk elements junk you know bits of junk automobiles and boilers and so forth and these were welded instead of the cleaner and neater parts which had been used by artists but they were they were welded to each other to form something that was entirely different from the initial purpose that you know they might have a piece of a tractor or. A piece of a Boeing machine for example and you could usually see stuff you would
usually see where the objects had once been. So they were partially transformed in the West about. So like it was a new sculpture looking like any of it of welded sculpture and you put it well that's gone. Yes I mean it all of the parts were also divisible untraceable that items when just edge effect was like. And here it was a case simply of creating something aesthetically pleasant from these diverse elements. Well no welding all the things piece of becomes a bicycle seat and the handlebars just all depends for its effect on the life discovering it is. This I suppose goes back to our discussion of last week about materials. The reason I imagine for much of this new to these neutral twists in art if you wish is because simply
there are more things of this nature available. I mean there are junk yards for voice but aerials like this can be obtained. Yeah absolutely I think that's one of the it's part about Florence you know obsolescence and affluence does have an effect on it. But also I think I think that when one sees a piece of junk sculpture let's call it what's happening as we're seeing art made out of elements which are all very familiar to us sometimes specifically sometimes generally if you see if you see an object it's got a coke bottle in it. It could be a Coke bottle you've thrown away that had been a new kind of intimacy it was created when welded sculptures began to you was an industrial junk. It became material which we knew before we saw the sculpture although we could never anticipate it to form any single example of it would take so that there was a kind of environmental intimacy
between the sculpture and also some good criteria as a piece of sculpture of the sky. Well in retrospect most of it looks pretty much like the welded sculpture that went before made out of new elements at the time and there was kind of if you were disturbed to see it to recognize the elements in it. But in fact I think that maybe that wasn't a terribly significant period because I think so often it depended on the same kind of effects of balance and lightness which as their twentieth century world it's got to depended upon it was only a partial revolution. Yuri never did that. I suppose one of the new effects was creating a kind of sculpture which could be seen from the inside from the outside to walk around it. In other words a kind of cage construction would be made with with wire. What metal bars.
I think this is something just as it's related do you suppose to Livonia forms you know it's not something that we exist as some of the stereotypes here are would be used in making as the chair you're referring to the difference of that welded sculpture made when it was as you introduce not to the difference the junk sculpture I think John's sculpture was according to be existing principles of welded sculpture as you say inside outside lining together so well turning perhaps from well a sculptor What about Moby also that wasn't one of the things we listed but is this is this a new art form. I guess I needed a new word myself Duchamp found the way to describe the first move by Alexander Calder. Personally I think that the mo bile is and I was arrested form Alexander called a maid made some of the earlier ones very pretty you know here take a piece of
wire bend it took another one I thought and get it again so that the lens can't go very far when suspended without hitting each other and bouncing back so that I've never seen immobile by Alexander Calder which actually had sufficient mobility. I think the man is too clumsy. I think you know he's too dumb an artist to have realized the potentialities for free motion which are inherent in the mobile and I regard the mobile still at present a primitive state I don't think it should have been developed just as as anybody doing much work with a mobile phone. Refuse to adopt your British prose here and then here again was the impost was simply one of experimentation was live. I was exploring it for the possibility that sculpture didn't always have to stand still. Instead of giving the illusion of it it could actually get you to get it as it was there sort of
a thread between let's let's say the initial Well the sculpture the found object Well the sculpture to work the environment to the happening this sort of thing you think there's a thread that that each each is an extension of something else. Well there are several threads here if you're talking about things moving then we might move from the wind driven to more below. Alexander Calder to so-called kinetic sculpture were various forms interacting a pre-determined pattern and with electric motors on and then on the living organic side of Bush you get to a kind of performing art involving human beings either in pre-determined patterns or throwing them together by the by chance. But within some kind
of. Pre-determined very loosely we're going to. Well let's let's move on to some of the other areas such as found art. What are some of what are some of the developments and what do we mean precisely when we talk about our Lords. Well you may or may remember we talked about myself I think in this program and we mentioned that he he would isolate objects existing industrial objects. I found the environment and not change them but just isolate them and say I choose this he would sign it maybe. And by isolating separating this homely article from the environment this would confer the status of sculpture upon it I think it begins with finding finding objects and declaring them to be awed by my active choice as an artist this is all that the artist had to do nice addition thought.
Well he begins that but found out also that what went into the well of darkness I write is I still consider filed art well. The jokes are usually because quite that would be welded on with found elements. Oh I think an easy way to call it is junk sculpture. Just if you want something a slang way to refer to it you know. Well our guest of last week a year or so ago forgot and produced several pieces which he simply took pieces of wood which he had father of his farm the various colored stakes had been driven by surveyors and so forth and cut them up and arranged them good them onto a backing that had great variety of texture told is this is this a profound art or is this is this simply just a lot of material. How would you describe this sounds like nature oriented sound as opposed to industrial oriented
around. So I haven't seen these pieces that's what it sounds like and you know the industrial content is sort of important because most of the things you've mentioned relate to the urban environment much more than they relate to the countryside. I mean environments for example tend to have you know an environment. Instead of being instead of like having a solid sculpture and environmental sculpture well have a table of figures around real chairs or maybe it may simulate a complete space filled with reconstructions of the original materials and environment or happening is likely to be industrial and industrial and urban in its original reference. Happenings which I suppose you want to define as we go along. Happening
as what a partly structured performance which has the ability to absorb accidents and random elements along the way. It's in control that set up by an artist who communicates his intentions to the people in the happening. But not everything which happens will necessarily have been predicted or pre-determined. So it's a balance of protected and random elements as you describe as described happening with people. Lot really spectators there are participants. Well this is this is there is in the early happenings you know back in the late shift a sixth is the very west spectators they were jammed into small spaces and they used to get splashed or. Dirty you know according to what was going on and they were they were spectators but they were not the movement attached spectators to the extent that you are if you
go to the movies of a regular theater. You were kind of spectator but with some risks you know now a days the tendency has been to emphasize the world of the spectator as a participant even more. And instead of like sitting down and wish in a small space the area which happenings work and I tended to get bigger and the Spectator gets caught on stage directed into various activities which are part of the whole activity. Have you ever participated in such a happening only in the second kind only in the kind of way you know I was like you know one of the cattle being moved to the artist. What would you describe what happened. Well one of them was by close Oldham and took place on a movie set and first of all the audience was kept waiting in the foyer quite a long time and then they were well admitted to the theater we had to stand around the
sides while the seats were occupied by I think about four people and service. The audience started and the four actors sat and there was the interplay between the four actors in the seats with the poor audience would already been standing in the fire. We're witnessing where they thought they were going to be they were not just that we were displaced by the by the agents. So there were just place not only objects actors. It became clear pretty soon we didn't we didn't know we were going to be able to sit down when we got in it was only then we realized you know this didn't live on a water splashing or God banging or things of this kind. No that's just him you know. Kind of ironic exchanges that a psychologist expire about that was there quite often happenings become a kind of poetic kind of social Elegy
But how about other society to us and using typical experiences in society and voting people in them so they see them and experience their experience and freshly. How can one justify such a thing as a work of art. Well I don't know what else you would call it the people who put on happenings are almost all artists and they have on every almost every case grown out all unparalleled. The artists own my compact work solid rights have been relatable to their happenings. I think one can justify it in the same way which one justified junk sculpture the same way one justifies environments and that is a greater intimacy between the work of art and the urban environment instead of the work of art being framed.
Neat and pure and separated from the environment we now have the problem with the work of about almost getting lost in them. No one can tell when the environment and where the work that begins where we used but mentioned environment I think Barney's Beanery and might that might not harm to describe such a such an environment. As I recall from looking at some pictures one time with one of the popular picture magazines this was a recreation of a binary old bio by a person really named Barney. But the scale was a little bit off. The thing was compressed somewhat as I recall the figures were seemed realistic until one looked at them and discovered that they all had clocks instead of faces. People would walk into this thing and look and it was almost like a like a like a museum piece was not I mean we have we can we have museums of Natural History and so forth where everything is arranged
it had another element of what was to what. What would you describe this element that would make it different from say walking into a colonial colonial bedroom at a museum. I guess one of the differences is that the artist and what he holds as a man is. Kind of very soft hard marble vision and tough judgment but he makes about urban life although urban life is his subject and his works man form one other. He passes very tough moral judgments about it and all the people sitting up late at night in this bean away looking naturalistic from the back. But with clocks slammed in the middle of their faces it is in fact a kind of very you know unkind moralistic comment on our now and in a in a time regulated society this is the difference in a colonial colonial power. You know in a museum would have this peaceful
gentility whereas this was compressed and awkward and you had to shuffle by and you tried not you don't want to break anything. And then you discover the Clarks So you were precipitated precipitated into a tight uncomfortable environment in which he had even simulated the smell of being circulated through the space all our senses were engaged in sight and touch and smell in the service just overriding my vision. Let me have it with us. The clock faces the comment on our mortality a biological clock running in a rather shabby place. What the what does work. We've touched and dealt with this question and some of the other programs that I'd like to raise it again. What have these new forums done to our traditional set of values regarding
aesthetics or feelings about aesthetics aesthetics being the science of the beautiful or whatever way. Well we've we've touched on that before him. I mean I think we've decided that the criterion of beauty the kind of feelings that are associated with symmetrical forms of serenity monument healthy idealisation and so on I'm not necessarily the only kind of experience that art can give or should give. That we may be rudely shocked into different kinds of awareness and I think we're very much in that kind of an age now where we are comes to be being shocked out of our complacency is the isolation that we impose upon ourselves. The cliches in which we live and that the artist is constantly trying to arouse us
threats even to moral actions you know that that may not necessarily be his his intent. Do you think that the artist today is more intellectually involved that it was the artists of 500 years ago say or 200 years ago that there's there's a Lord of War intellectualization though I got about the work that he's doing with his heart you know intellectual There were conversing among themselves a little bit of there's a lot of lip service to the finished product I mean. With a better way but we've already established that the artist today seems to expect more of as you are. It seems to me that the artist of yesterday. There's no doubt that it's a giant like my Michelangelo exhibits enormous intellectual power in terms of what about someone like a robot. Routines also. We can talk about intellectual artists or artists that seem more intuitive and exploratory but
in either case a great deal of intellectual power would be necessary purely in the in the idiom of the work itself not necessarily translated into words. You agree with us Lawrence. Yes I know I don't really think that. One can fairly say I like it when my eyes like a living artist who is in the middle of his work. He looks difficult when one looks at an artist we've had 400 years to get used to he looks easy even if he has to be difficult. You know I mean the processing has not yet been gone for the living artist which is why I like contemporary art. They hadn't been processed to the point at which it's hard to form one's own opinion about them. But what's nice about contemporary art is there's really no other opinion than your own you but you could possibly take you know there's a way I would sort of you know a position I would suggest
junk sculpture for crossovers between painting and sculpture or. Environments or happenings. And that is as let's call it multimedia. Because all you know sculpture painting objects smells sometimes written for grounds. All these things all these different media converge on the other hand on the other side I would say of as pure one medium at which a great deal of abstract painting is it depends very much on sensitivity to exploration of one medium purely like oil painting paint say on the other side there is this kind of splurging outwards of multimedia that which is mingling itself with the environment seeing how far it can be stretched saying how much how diverse the articles are they can be taken in and still keep its identity as odd and personally I find this kind of
explosion into the environment. Seeing how far you can go and still keep your eye to keeping the identity of the work of one of the very you know important exciting things that's going on right now. Lawrence I'm sorry Gerry one of our earlier conversations you made a comment and I don't recall the exact words but it was something about the relationship of contemporary art with contemporary technology. You remember this one of the things that interested me and I think her career to me chiefly as I I look at things like Jackie Paul's work. The so-called work of the so-called field haters would on your terms which I've found rather helpful. These are enormously intricate text use the building up of layers superimposed one on the other yet one can see through each one of them. It's interesting
interplay vast complexity of all these and reminded me so much of a visualisation of the abstraction of the organizations that rule our society. Enormous organizations. Bob Barr a governmental bureaucracy has armies navies and so on which really need human judgment reinforced by all kinds of computer technology. The enormous labor of programming computers themselves and the very look indeed of wiring diagrams or programming diagrams for these computers. All this kind of enormous complexity which holds our society together and makes communication possible on this large mass scale that is necessary and in a society which has become so
complex and which there are so many millions of human beings involved. It isn't a breakdown at all we need them. It is really a pattern of organization which happens of many different kinds of complex organizations arranged in hierarchies. This sense of things which is part of our sense of life today seem to me to to have to have a by necessity a visual equivalent. And this I have found in works like this. Could you guess examples. Well I'm thinking of Jackson Pollock for instance. What is drips. Yes. That that you feel it there then this this is the kind of thinking outside of the right working artist that helps you be and who works in this kind of thing in another way. A more mature scheme as well as apprentices are less coming back to our initial question which is what was the significance of the
new forms and we mentioned several of the environments that the women talk about a self destructive art. There's not time to but the foul dark happenings and so forth. How does this fit into the overall contemporary picture of art. LAWRENCE Well I see it as another contribution another enlargement of the spectrum of styles available to the artists working today. Well it seems that again for some for one reason or another each topic seems to lead to another one. And our topic next week is going to be can we distinguish between good art and bad art. And for this program we hope to have another guest with us Professor Lyman an art historian at Southern Illinois University showed us what you. Mean.
A question of art featuring art critic Lawrence Callaway and professor of fine arts Gary Hart Magnus is produced and transcribed by the SEIU Radio Network. This is Steve Betters speaking join us again next week for another question. This is the SEIU Broadcasting Service.
This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
A question of art
Can We Distinguish Good from Bad Ar
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WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
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University of Maryland
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