In: From My Library
Jimmie DurhamJanuary 21, 2022
Essays by Laura Mulvey, Dirk Snauwaert, Mark Alice Durant, Kate Nesin
London: Phaidon, 1995
Jimmie Durham (1940 – 2021) passed away last year, and it’s an appropriate time to consider his legacy and his art. This book from Phaidon was originally published nearly two decades ago, and has been reissued recently, with some updates and further considerations about the artist, his work, and the controversy that suffused his practice, especially around his claims of Cherokee descent.
From Library Thing: “Jimmie Durham is an internationally acclaimed artist, writer and poet of [alleged] Cherokee descent. His intricate sculptures and installations mimic the attributes of human beings and animals, and the ways they make or are made into history. Durham collages discarded objects and fragments of organic matter, transforming them with dazzling colour into startling, anthropomorphic configurations. His ersatz ethnographic displays deliver ironic assaults on the colonizing procedures of Western culture. An activist in the American Indian movement during the 1970s, he has also published poetry, fiction and critical theory. Featured at Documenta 9 (1992), his work has also been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. The Survey by British film and art critic Laura Mulvey, author of ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ and other influential essays, explores themes of history and language, space and time in Durham’s work. Belgian curator Dirk Snauwaert talks with the artist about his multi-faceted practice. In the Focus, Mark Alice Durant, US performance artist and writer, analyzes Durham’s diary of Shakespeare’s Caliban. For Artist’s Choice, Durham has selected texts by Italo Calvino about the loss of speech and the poetry of the invisible. Artist’s Writings include essays, poems and a screenplay published here for the first time.”
Durham is a very contested figure, and his artwork falls within that narrative, too. The exhibition Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World came to the newly opened Remai Modern in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, in 2018 – at the same time that his claims of Cherokee heritage were being hotly contested. As one of the first shows in that gallery, in a place that has often been referred to as the ‘Alabama’ of Canada for its systematic racism, it fired a number of arguments (not the least of which spilled back on some of the critics of Durham, who are associated with the University of Saskatchewan, perhaps as projection from their own issues with institutional racism and attempting to appropriate Indigenous identity to further exploit those communities). At the Center of the World could be seen as the spark that lit that situation, which is still burning….
I cite that to show how Durham’s aesthetic and ideas merit a re examination as they engage with experiences and histories that are being played out in numerous sites around Canada, if not the world, and this book (considering with Durham’s recent passing that readers might contemplate Durham’s life as a whole) allows for his life and legacy to be considered in a more ‘complete’ manner.
I’m familiar with the original edition of the book, but there is an updated edition, from Phaidon, which you can see more about here. ~ Bart GazzolaRead More
Les Femmes Photographes De La nouvelle Vision En France 1920-1940 | Christian Bouqueret, 1998January 13, 2022
Les Femmes Photographes
De La nouvelle Vision En France 1920-1940 | Christian Bouqueret, 1998
Nicéphore Niépce Museum (Chalon-sur-Saône, Saône-et-Loire); Museum of Art, History and Archeology (Evreux); French Mission of photographic heritage; French association for the dissemination of photographic heritage.
This is the accompanying text to the exhibition Women photographers of the new vision in France, 1920-1940, which was on display in numerous places in France, including Paris (Hôtel de Sully, April 3-June 7, 1998), Chalon-sur-Saône (Musée Nicéphore Niépce, June 19-September 13, 1998) and Evreux, Musée of the old Bishop’s Palace, October-November 1998).
The artists in this show and the book are an impressive group of photographers whose works are still groundbreaking and evocative, almost a century later. These include Berenice Abbott, Laure Guillot, Denise Bellon, Ilse Bing, Germaine Krull, Dora Maar, Lee Miller, Claude Cahun, Lisette Model, Marianne Breslauer, Yvonne Chevalier, Nora Dumas, Gertrude Fehr, Gisèle Freund, Florence Henri, Annelise Kretschmer, Ergy Landau, Juliette Lasserre, Thérèse Le Prat, Dora Kallmus / Madame d’Ora, Rogi André, Ré Soupault, Gerda Taro and Camilla “Ylla” Koffler.
Bouqueret’s writing is in French, but the images are – of course – the real joy of this book. After reading it, I spent endless hours online, looking for more works by these artists. Research is too formal a word, as these photographs pulled me into a different time, and it was a way, again, in which the availability of artists’ works online is a treasure.
In light of that, I must also recommend this site: AWARE (Archive of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions), as they have many images and information about the artists featured by Bouqueret, and much more.
It can be ordered online here, though I acquired a copy through my local library. ~ Bart GazzolaRead More
The Art of Richard DiebenkornDecember 18, 2021
The Art of Richard Diebenkorn, 1997
Jane Livingston, with essays from John Elderfield and Ruth Fine (The University of California Press)
Forgive me for saying something positive about social media, but it’s allowed for a proliferation of art and images online (which is one of the motivating factors that helped create the Covert Collective); the art historian in me welcomes this, as on Twitter, for example, there’s numerous ‘art bots’ that have filled the sphere with many fine artworks – such as those of Richard Diebenkorn.
“Recognized as a major figure in postwar American painting, Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) was an artist strongly identified with California but whose work is beloved throughout the United States and the rest of the world. This catalog is the most comprehensive volume on the artist now available.
Jane Livingston’s extensively researched biographical essay covers Diebenkorn’s entire career and concentrates on the artist’s inner life and purposes as revealed in his paintings. Ruth Fine deals primarily with the figurative aspect of Diebenkorn’s work (1955-67), and John Elderfield concentrates on the Ocean Park period (1967-93). All three authors provide valuable insights based on their personal relationships with the artist and his widow, Phyllis. On both page and canvas, the reader can sense Diebenkorn’s complexity and highly self-conscious working methods, as well as his formidable integrity.
The Art of Richard Diebenkorn will give readers with an interest in all phases of modernism new thoughts about the relationship between abstraction and representation. Stunningly illustrated, with 192 full-color reproductions, this book is an exhilarating testament to a distinctive American artist.” (from the publisher, The University of California Press)
The essays are enjoyable and informative: but the majority of the book is defined by almost 200 full-colour reproductions and that’s why I recommend this book. From Diebenkorn’s still life paintings to his rough portraits to his ephemeral repeated meditations where place and abstraction intersect, this book is rife with beautiful images. “If painting doesn’t offer a way to dream and create emotions, then it’s not worth it”, to quote Pierre Soulages, a contemporary to Diebenkorn, and one can easily get lost among the many images of Diebenkorn’s in this book
This is hopefully to be found at your library (UC Press offers a space to request a copy for the same), or your locally owned bookstore. Since I mentioned social media in this Library suggestion, it would be remiss to not offer links to a Richard Diebenkorn #artbot on Twitter, as a teaser to encourage you to seek out this book.
~ Bart GazzolaRead More