There’s never a shortage of art books, but it is often hard to find the best in a field flooded with vanity projects, sales tools, and books that promise so much more than they deliver.
In a 1946 letter to the anthropologist Ruth Benedict, poet Charles Olson articulated what has become a quietly influential conception of historiography in poetry circles. “There has been, is too much of everything, including knowledge,” he contended, quite presciently, “because it has not been winnowed.”
In his introductory essay to Vitamin P, a survey of contemporary painting first published by Phaidon in 2002, the poet and critic Barry Schwabsky takes pains to point out the variety of stylistic positions available to a contemporary painter. In doing so, Schwabsky suggests that there is no single identifying characteristic that would disqualify a contemporary painting from critical consideration today. This state of openness was not always the case. In my opinion, however, the receptivity that Schwabsky claims for painting is not actually an accurate characterization of the current situation, where success is generally judged by an artist’s standing in the marketplace.
Before there were the New Casualists, there were the Provisional Painters, and before there were the Provisional Painters, there were the 1980s.
Despite cold, rainy weather, a large audience turned out for “… towards meaning in a plural painting world,” a panel discussion moderated by Katy Siegel at Hunter College’s MFA building. The room was filled with young artists and MFA candidates eager to participate, and the place swelled to standing room only. Siegel explained that the modus operandi for the evening was driven by questions from and conversations had with students, and that it was only necessary to cross the hall or walk downstairs to view artwork from the Hunter MFA Thesis Fall 2012 exhibition.