You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Richard Serra’ tag.


The inimitable Thomas Derrah plays Mark Rothko in the Speakeasy’s New England premiere of Red, by John Logan. The play runs through February 4th.

In John Logan’s Tony award-winning play Red, Mark Rothko delivers a steady stream of tough love lessons on the meaning of art to his young studio assistant. Advice is rarely this engaging, provocative and timeless.

It’s a category all its own, giving advice. And advice in a field like art where transgression, the driving need to dismantle the previous generation, and pulling something out of nothing are de rigeur is particularly hard to give and hard to hear. Maybe this is more extreme for fierce autodidacts like me who never gave anyone else a seat at the head of my table.

But ambient wisdom (rather than the personal kind) is useful, and Red is full of it. So is the commencement address given by Richard Serra to Williams College graduates in 2008. Here is a passage that caught my eye when I reencountered it in my increasingly bottomless TO READ file today:

Rather than being told which tools are available for which ends it is more useful to invent your own tools: As Audre Lorde has pointed out, “ … the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Rules are overrated. They need to be changed by every generation. That is your most important mandate: If it’s not broken, break it. One way of coming to terms with the prevailing language of a cultural orthodoxy is to reject it. It may be necessary to invent tools and methods about which you know nothing, to act in ways that allow you to utilize the content of your personal experience, to form an obsession and to cut through the weight of your education. Obsession is what it comes down to. It is difficult to think without obsession, and it is impossible to create something without a foundation that is rigorous, incontrovertible, and, in fact, to some degree repetitive. Repetition is the ritual of obsession. Don’t confuse the obsession of repetition with learning by rote. I am suggesting a form of inquiry, a procedure to jumpstart the indecision of beginning.

The solution to a given problem often occurs through repetition, a continual probing. The accumulation of solutions invariably alters the original problem demanding new solutions to a different set of problems. In effect, as solutions evolve, new problems emerge. To persevere and to begin over and over again is to continue the obsession with work. Work comes out of work.

There is enough here to fuel me for weeks.

I am off to New York tomorrow but will be returning to Slow Muse on Wednesday.

Advertisement


Francesca Woodman, Polka Dots, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976; gelatin silver print; courtesy George and Betty Woodman; © George and Betty Woodman

A few highlights from a day spent at the San Francisco Museum of Art, a visit that followed the feast that was Pacific Standard Time in Los Angeles over Thanksgiving…

Francesca Woodman‘s life was a short one. The daughter of two visual artists, her precocious gifts were apparent early on. She attended RISD, did a residency at the McDowell Colony in Peterborough New Hampshire. She committed suicide in 1981 at the age of 22.

Thirty years later, Woodman’s work is still timelessly haunting, deeply personal, darkly envisioned but not without moments of light and a redemptive glimmer. Most of the images are self portraits of some kind. Her body is her highly plastic terrain, creating landscapes of skin and flesh that are exploratory, not exploitative, direct and yet hidden.

The show is enormous and yet I felt drawn to spend time with every image. Her work has that kind of mystery and intrigue. I’m generally not a photohound but this was work so painterly and distinct it was hard to not give it your full attention.

Her parents, George and Betty Woodman, have been careful stewards of Woodman’s body of work all these years. They waited for just the right venue and opportunity for Francesca’s first retrospective.

Further reading: Ted Loos has written an excellent article in the New York Times that provides a good overview on Francesca and the show.


Francesca Woodman, Self-portrait talking to Vince, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975–78; gelatin silver print; courtesy George and Betty Woodman; © George and Betty Woodman


Francesca Woodman, Untitled, Providence, Rhode Island, ca. 1976; gelatin silver print; collection of Susan Turner and Scott Purdin; © George and Betty Woodman

A few other viewing highlights:


Richard Serra

The Richard Serra drawing show that was at the Met this summer is now at SFMOMA. They look different in every venue. Some of these are exquisite and are reminiscent of those gorgeous overworked drawings by Brice Marden in his MOMA retrospective from a few years ago. Others feel less enchanting but the statement being made is a big one. This is, after all, Richard Fucking Serra.

\
A quote from Dieter Rams.

SFMOMA does a lot of design shows, and the latest features the iconic head of design at Braun for many years, Dieter Rams. Rams is associated with a variety of iconic pieces and is known for his memorable edicts, most famously his advocacy for “less but better” design.


Richard Aldrich, Untitled, 2008; oil and wax on panel; 11 1/2 x 9 in.; private collection, New York; © Richard Aldrich.

Richard Aldrich, a young artist from Brooklyn, has a room of new paintings. The work is open, fresh, painterly and smart. He’s someone I will be keeping track of from here on.


The ever playful Eric Hundley


Close up view of the Hundley


Rosana Castrillo Diaz’s exquisite hallway mural


Diaz close up. This piece is dazzling in the sunshine.

Rosana Castrillo Diaz is a fabulous artist who moved to the Bay Area from Spain. She’s another I’ll be tracking. Her work is subtle, lush, minimalist and yet expressive.

Ray Saunders

Ray Saunders was a prominent influence on me during my formative years in the Bay Area. In the small circling way of art thermals, my son studied with him at CCA a few years ago.