Posts about recurring concepts in art

Appropriation Art

After our makeup class on Friday I was thinking about appropriation art and the Sherrie Levine presentation I gave last year for my History of Contemporary Art class. At the time of the presentation I had a good understanding of appropriation art but after class today it was clear to me that I had forgotten a lot. I reviewed last years’ presentation to help me remember.

Her photo series After Walker Evans (1981) is an appropriation of photographs from the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), authored by James Agee with photographs by Walker Evans. Evans was commissioned by the government in 1936 to document the poverty of the Great Depression. The book was widely published and the photos were familiar to people at the time. Levine photographed photos in a catalog to appropriate the photos. The Evans estate saw this as copyright infringement and bought the works to prevent their sale. Now all of the photos are in the MET collection.

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Moveable Type

The New York Times headquarters building in New York City houses the digital and text-based work Moveable Type (2007). This was created by artist Ben Rubin and statistician Mark Hansen. The work was created at the request of the newspaper. The Times was looking for something “iconic and timeless” that spoke “to the 150 year history of the Times, and also to the digital future.” [2] The piece took four years to design and build.

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The Whitney’s Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art (1965–2018) exhibition establishes connections between works of art involving rules or instructions. Some of the works of art were created with computers and electronics; others were fabricated with non-technological tools like paper and ink. Some of the works blurred the distinction between the two. The exhibition as a whole attempts to place digital and new media art into a historical context that is linked to the works that don’t involve contemporary technology.

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The Body / Identity

This week we visited 5 galleries in Chelsea to see shows that focused on themes of The Body and Identity. I found much of the artwork to be thought provoking and deeply moving. I'm looking forward to our discussion about this in class tomorrow.

The first show was God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin at the David Zwirner gallery. James Baldwin (1924-1987) was an African American author and artist who analyzed society's power structures and its racial and class distinctions through his work. The show contains Baldwin's writing and drawings and illuminates his character, sexuality, and political views.

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