I have no idea the mastermind behind the Covers & Citations blog but it’s pretty, well, as the young kids say (okay, young kids in the 1980s), RAD! I discovered it looking for Eve Babitz and Marcel Duchamp’s famous chess match photograph and found a bevy of art re-makes/mixes/interpretations. You get the idea. I’m sure there are tons of virtual spots on the internet where you can find such a catalog but this is an easy-to-view and search, minimalist presentation of some famous artworks and predecessors.

Why do I love collections and catalogs?

I love collections and catalogs because they show what’s been done and how it’s been re-done and re-contextualized. It’s far too easy to say art is derivative. Art stems from experiences. Experiences, from artist to artist, are singular and not like the other. In any case, Covers & Citations, whoever you are, thanks for doing this. You may have been around for ages and I just not know it but I’m glad I found you…

Social history is widely understood, but what is ethnography? It is a genre of researching and writing with its roots in anthropology. Its main investigative method is “participant observation” – a cluster of qualitative modes, which include firsthand experience of the environment, careful visual observation, attentive listening, casual on-the-hoof interviewing as well as formal in-depth interrogation, and the analysis of telling details and key documents. Participant observation is a self-conscious formalization of the naturalistic modes through which we learn generally; toddlers learn to walk and talk through a similar form of wide-eyed questioning and involvement. The participation part of the exercise usually transforms the researcher; we don’t wear a white lab coat and latex gloves to protect ourselves from what we’re studying. We don’t cling rigidly to old values but go into our chosen milieu with an open mind. In so doing, we usually change it.

~ Sarah Thornton, Art Writer (Excerpt from the Author’s Note section of her book Seven Days in the Art World)

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fallen Angel, 1981

Genius Child

This is a song for the genius child.
Sing it softly, for the song is wild.
Sing it softly as ever you can –
Lest the song get out of hand.

Nobody loves a genius child.

Can you love an eagle,
Tame or wild?
Can you love an eagle,
Wild or tame?
Can you love a monster
Of frightening name?

Nobody loves a genius child.

Kill him – and let his soul run wild.

~ Langston Hughes

Growing up, art kept me busy. My mother knew this deep seeded passion within me yet insisted on telling me that artists don’t make money until they’re dead. If only she knew, making money was never a concern. She probably knows that now but making art, writing about it, and discussing it was all I ever wanted to do. Yet, my mother’s sentiments are shared by many parents.

Being an artist (any kind of artist), during one’s lifetime is challenging and burdensome. However, for the contemporary artists that brave the criticism, are precocious or highly experienced, and most importantly, believe (not think) they are the art star the world needs to know must probably learned something from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s through cultural osmosis.

After watching Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s documentary, The Radiant Child, directed and written by Tamra Davis, I found myeslf intrigued and seduced by Basquiat’s motivation, work ethic, and audaciousness. Having studied his work in contemporary art history class coupled with Google musings during slow work days, I was pretty eager to watch the film and acquired a greater sense of why anyone makes art (not just Basquiat).

The physicality involved in his work, the contour lines, bright and bold colors, and various mediums he worked with along with his use of language made for an eye opening look into what happens to he human soul when it’s allowed to roam aimlessly with paints and pens. His sensitive, impulsive, free, non-committal, bold, confident, and addictive nature come out in the film but my favorite parts of the film were of him painting and drawing. He could have said anything he wanted to in his interviews but it was watching him unfurl child like bold strokes on his canvases that made me believe he had a lot more to say than what he actually said.

Some time last week, I watched the documentary, My Kid Could Paint That by filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev. The documentary is definitely worth watching being that it forces the viewer to make up their own mind about the Modern Art movement. Pick it up and please feel free to tell me what you think. As the title of today’s posts states, my new art crush is Michael Kimmelman! He provides his insight and thoughts in the film and, well, you guessed it, those were my favorite parts of the film. Since then, I picked up a couple of his books (via Amazon) for dirt cheap and pretty excited!

  • Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, The Modern, The Louvre and Elsewhere (Random House, 1998)
  • The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa (Penguin Press, 2005)

I’ll let you know what I think but from reading some excerpts, I’m in love with his writing style!! Of course, of course…white guy writing about art (typical) but I’m attached to Mr. Kimmelman’s ways. He doesn’t know this but he’s helping this POC/WOC* come up in the art world.

Damn, it would be great to meet him one day…

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*Person/People of Color, Women/Woman of Color – Just in case you were wondering…

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Oh, and, Josef, if you’re reading this…THANK YOU for telling me to watch the film. I’m sure I would have found MK’s work somehow researching all these art historians and critics BUT you helped me make it a speedy discovery. 🙂

Evan Nesbit – ethic / esthtic, 2010
 
A few quarters ago, I took a contemporary art history class at the UC Berkeley Extension and professor, Dewitt Cheng, showed us a family tree of art movements. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate it and thinking of just asking him very nicely to send it to me for posting on my blog. In an attempt to locate it online, I ran into this a great tree of art movements by Evan Nesbit. Nesbit studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute and is currently obtaining his MFA in Painting at Yale University.