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Posts about history of contemporary art

Becoming Maurizio Cattelan

Maurizio Cattelan (b. 1960) is an Italian artist who is well-known for his sculptures that on the surface seem humorous or satirical but on a deeper level address the bigger concepts of life, love, and death. He is one of the most famous and successful living artists in the world, and remarkably, he has achieved this without any formal art education or training. His success can be attributed to several factors. First, he is very knowledgeable about art history and has made a careful study of the contemporary art world. Second, he has a charming and engaging personality and has been able to use his character to build a network of people who like him, support him, and want to see him succeed. And third, he has been able to craft his artistic persona and brand to establish himself as a key figure in the art world. Sometimes Cattelan is criticized as a flamboyant artistic con-man, but I see him as a resourceful and motivated individual who initially floundered and struggled to find his place in the world but took some risks and worked very hard to build a successful career as an artist.

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Carrie Mae Weems

For the last class I prepared a short presentation on Carrie Mae Weems. Weems is a African American photographer who addresses issues of sexism and racism with her work.

Pictured below is a selection of her work from The Kitchen Table Series, (1990). The series depicts staged scenes of a romance narrative.

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This is the last meeting of my History of Contemporary Art class with Roselee Goldberg. Although I still one more paper to write, the class is drawing to a close. It's been immensely enjoyable and I am very glad I signed up for this. There's a lot to learn studying art.

Relational Aesthetics

Relational Aesthetics is a term coined by the curator Nicolas Bourriaud to describe art that rejects the manufacturing of traditional art objects and instead attempts to establish new human relationships through collective experiences and new interactions. The art puts the interaction at the center of the work instead of the artist or any physical manifestations of the artist's work.

As a member of a group I helped put together a presentation on Relational Aesthetics. You can find the presentation here.

Sherrie Levine

Sherrie Levine emerged as an important artist in the early 80's. She is famous for her Appropriation Art where she would take photographs of widely distributed photos made by famous male artists and present the work as her own, examining the concept of originality.

I created a short 10 minute presentation on Sherrie Levine to share with the class. It is available here.

Xu Zhen: Movement Field

Xu Zhen (b. 1977) is a Chinese multimedia artist living and working in Shanghai, China. He is a prominent young Chinese artist who primarily works with photography, installation art, and video to address social and cultural issues.

Zhen’s pivotal work is the short film Rainbow (1998). This piece shows the impact of Zhen’s bare back being beaten until it turns bright red. The hand striking his back is edited out of the film but the audio of the slapping noise persists. He created this at age 21 and presented it at the Venice Biennale in 2001, making him the youngest Chinese artist to participate in the event. Another important early work is Shouting (1998). In this work he films pedestrians reacting to the noise of him shouting on a busy street. In both pieces Zhen is challenging and shocking the viewer with his behavior.

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Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions

Adrian Piper (b. 1948) is an American conceptual artist and philosopher whose art career has spanned 5 decades. Her work addresses racism and the marginalization of minorities in western society by challenging us to face our racist views and attitudes. The artistic message is more than simply being critical of racism; it is about facing the illusions we tell ourselves about the reality of how appropriately we treat minorities and people of color.

Piper was born in New York City and attended a private school with mostly wealthy white students. She earned an associate’s degree from the School of Visual Arts in 1969 and a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the City College of New York in 1974. She went on to study Philosophy at Harvard where she received her master’s and PhD in 1977 and 1981. While studying in these programs she was also involved in New York’s art community, working at the Siegelaub Gallery and meeting other prominent artists of the time.

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