Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Title: "November 5, 2008"
Acrylic & Paper Collage on Canvas
14 x 11 inches

After working about 4 days, more or less, on this small painting I began to wonder whether I had now started a painting, or finished one.
I had gone with a friend last week to see some impressionist paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago's collection. Since I had years ago painted landscapes exclusively, the urge to do a new landscape was very strong. That is how I started this piece.
But we are not in the 1890s, and I am not the same person, or painter, that I was 15 years ago. Art history and personal history cannot be set aside on a whim. So, after much work and considerable looking and thinking, this little painting emerged as you see it in the photo; continuing my "white painting" series that was started about 9 months ago. It seems to fit nicely into the route I'm on now, and ultimately there is a comfort in not retracing old steps. The landscape is under there somewhere, but an artwork can gain energy from going beyond what once seemed like a destination. This piece is finished, but it points the way to the ones not yet started.


  1. Have you checked out James Kalm's You Tube on the Zero Group show in his 2008 round-up part 2?

    There's one of those 50s dudes doing stuff remarkably similar to your wrinkled white 'grounds'. Not that this should deter you or anything, but another little branch of art history to be aware of, maybe?

  2. Thanks, CAP, will definitely check it out. Branches and twigs we all are.

  3. The guy I was thinking of in the Kalm Report I think is Piero Manzoni.

    This is the dude that went on to do the cans of 'artist's shit' (supposedly quite literally) and other performances and conceptual feats.

    Wouldn't like you to end up there Cross, but I'm thinking your landscape background should anchor you in these matters.

  4. Manzoni--

    Having dismissed his "Merde" works as...well, you know, I did not realize he had done the Achromes before. Full circle, from 'achromic' to 'chromosomic' in such a short career (and life).

    I was struck by the similarities and differences between this Manzoni piece

    and my January 5, 2008 or February 5, 2008 on this blogsite.

    Letting the artwork form itself is something that interests me, since I see it as an extension of what Pollock tried to do... literally take himself out of the painting. Getting inside his head a bit, I think he saw himself as "contaminating" to the artwork, or at least subversive to the image that he wished would appear.

    Interesting that Manzoni ended up with his little canned artworks. Could that be another way of getting at the same thing, albeit more direct!?

    It's not just my landscape background that will keep me out of the can. In fact, I see the container itself anti-process. Not gonna go there.

  5. I'm not quite sure how Manzoni got from Minimalist to Conceptualist - the cans are only one of a number of works which are essentially documenting performances, (Minimalist performances) where he would boil eggs for the public to consume at a show, sign members of the public's limbs, blow-up balloons as samples of the artist's breath...

    The cans have tended to become a notorious trademark, obscuring the rest of his oeuvre.

    I imagine his paintings evolved into these very neutral or basic contributions of his skill or personality - the flipside to what you see as 'letting the work form itself'.

    I've written a little about this in my post on Nauman -
    and more about the history of Conceptual Art on my site - - a downloadable PDF - Ch 18 in the History section.

    If I was really together, I'd drop links in here, but as usual I'm supposed to be doing something else right now...