Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Hateable Work from the Walker

Etching, aquatint on paper. 1987.
This is a Sol LeWitt piece from the Walker. Next week I'm going to write about why it's hateable.

Okay, it's this week now! This morning in OAD we discussed the merits of this piece as well as several others, with the Marina Abramovic piece generating the best debate vis-a-vis "Is It Art?"

I said much of this in class, but here it is in writing, for points, because that's how school works:

I find this Sol LeWitt piece , like many of Sol LeWitt's pieces, boring and ugly. It's just four triangles on a grey background, and there's little in the colors or the composition to capture or hold my interest. It's a blah piece, and if I'd seen it on its own on a museum wall I would have walked right past.

But I didn't see it alone. I saw it as part of the Walker's recent Sol LeWitt exhibition. I saw it in its proper place, as one of a series. Here are a couple more from that series:

And because I saw it in a series, and because I saw it in the context of Sol LeWitt's larger body of work, I saw it as art. I see it as art. This assignment was an excellent reminder of how important context is in determining what art is, and what art is not. These pieces, with their repetition and their reliance on simple forms, fit so well into the artist's oeuvre. His work, as some random Wikipedia person put it, "is not about the singular hand of the artist; it is the ideas behind the works that surpass each work itself." Of course, it is easy for the ideas to surpass the work when the work is as ugly as this one. (Some of the other pyramids, like the ones above, incorporate a more attractive color scheme; the one with the yellow background is my favorite. We must also remember that these pieces are from the eighties, when some of these colors were a little more au courant than they are today.)

One of the main failures of this piece, in my opinion, is that the idea behind the work is not particularly apparent. Is this a color study? A shape study? I'm not sure what Sol LeWitt was aiming at when he made these pyramids. There was a Sol LeWitt quote on one of the walls at the Walker. I didn't write it down, but it went something like this: "It is meaningless. That is art."

Sometimes, I guess meaningless is enough to satisfy me, so long as there's lots of meaningless stuff on display, an entire life's work worth of meaningless stuff.

1 comment:

  1. - comes with a series of 10 - different colors.

    - andy warhol???? Frank Stella....
    - 1970's?
    - chose this because Abby liked Sol Le Witt - but had she'd seen just this one, - it needed to be seen as a collection.
    - composition?

    I dislike the works alone - A big problem is that you're not seeing the entire body of work, fels like it's out of context, wth one there's ot information?

    - Matt: how do you feel about him not maknig his own work?
    - Abby: its all about replicatblity. he's so interested in having his work is repeatable. if he made all his own and then claimed it was repeatable - then it wouldn't work

    Chloe: I find it boring.... the replicability is not a selling point

    Courntey: like Chuck close - he's still making his own
    Chole: that any part of his work ....

    Matt: is it art or is it design?
    Abby: I don't like to see those as seperate catagories....

    Chloe: Oh snap

    is it history that makes art?
    Matt: No - if it's not timeless, it's not art. History helps form a context - but it doesn't say what is or isn't art
    would this - renisance??? would this have been consider art

    if this was the 1950's?
    depeding on who

    were the colors flat or modeled like they are here?
    - Muted colors - they are generally ugly - but then the more you look at them, they sort of grow on them.

    - They alternate tonalities

    _ can a color study be art?
    it's an achievement... it should be,

    "reminds me of 'what is a sport?""

    from gary basman's
    from Folds "etude" = study... but now it's a work of art. something that was practice, people are preforming them now

    DaVinci - his journals.... practice = art