Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sculpting Time (Sperone Westwater, 2008)

In 2008, Steven Holmes from the Cartin Collection curated an exhibition at Sperone Westwater in New York titled 'Sculpting Time', featuring works by Josef Albers, Andrew Grassie, On Kawara, Giorgio Morandi and Roman Opalka.

In the accompanying catalogue Holmes raises a number of very thoughtful ideas that are close to our own interests. Here's an extract:

"Andrei Tarkovsky's film The Sacrifice begins with a single nine-and-a-half minute scene. In this long, continuous shot, a young boy, mute, helps his father plant a tree in a desolate landscape. While his father, Alexander, works, he tells his son the story of a monk who spent an entire lifetime beginning each day with a walk up the side of a mountain, to carry water to a dead tree. At the monk's death, the tree burst to life. The meaning of the story, as Alexander expresses to his silent son, is that it was not the water that brought the tree to life, but rather the faithful day-in, day-out ritual of bringing the water. The content of the bucket was not important; it was the act of blind devotion, the seemingly desolate and meaningless commitment to a practice, that saved the tree. For Tarkovsky, the artist must make work like the monk carried water - not hoping for meaning or redemption in any one painting, but rather trusting that through the day-in, day-out devotion of the studio, something else emerges that is greater than the sum of the parts."

Thursday, August 18, 2011


With his round wooden bar resting on his shoulder,
perhaps Andre Cadere is the lightest, the least burdened,
of the artists we are considering here.

The "Barre de Bois Ronde" is a long stick strung with
coloured wooden beads arranged in numerical order
but containing a deliberate error, one bead out of

Placed in an art context, the Barre starts an argument
with its surroundings, with the occasion, with an art of placing.
Carried around in the streets, it affirms art beyond its institutions.

Often a gadfly in the French art scene, turning up uninvited
at openings or leaving a Barre in another artist's installation,
Cadere made around 180 Barres in his short lifetime,
active from 1970-78.

If the artist is free from the tyranny of the market, from
the gallery system, from any location or context, from
the need for innovation, then the world is wide.

Unlike the work of Opalka, into which the artist's death
was inscribed from the beginning, for Cadere mortality
may have been just another circumstance to be greeted
with lyrical indifference.

Commitment here may be less to a work than a pose,
or a poise.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Roman Opalka dies

Roman Opalka died on Saturday 6 August, aged 79.

New York Times
The official Roman Opalka website
Muzeum Sztuki w Łodzi
Axel Vervoordt Gallery blog - The gallery will host an exhibition of Opalka's work (8 September - 22 October 2011)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

André Cadere

Cadere, March 1972, Musée Rodin, Paris

Cadere, April 1973, Avenue des Gobelins, Paris

Cadere, September 1974, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

Cadere, September 1974, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

Cadere, 1974, Projekt '74, Cologne (with Daniel Buren)

Cadere, May 1975, Galerie Banco, Brescia

Cadere, December 1975, Café de l'Oasis, Kain, Belgium

Cadere, 1976, Café Florian, Venice

Cadere, 1977, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Ghent

Cadere, June 1978, l'Hôpital International de l'Université de Paris

André Cadere died on 12 August 1978

Treading water

‘Charlton’s oeuvre … evidences a seemingly rigorous, apparently logical process for the theoretically endless manufacture of self-similar things (and things, moreover, whose lack of use-value and entertainment-value renders them socially suspect). His catalogue raisonné would reveal a remarkable consistent body of work – uncannily so, particularly to anyone accustomed to comfortably periodizing an artist’s career. Changes do arise, of course, and differences emerge throughout, but a sense of development as such is less apparent. Others have noted Charlton’s admiration for Samuel Beckett’s work, and it is not difficult to perceive in Charlton’s repetitive process a Beckettian aspect. Adorno, who in his Aesthetic Theory championed the author of Fin de partie, supplies us with an analysis that might aptly be applied to Charlton’s work. “Beckett,” he wrote, “indifferent to the ruling cliché of development, views his task as that of moving in an infinitely small space toward what is effectively a dimensionless point. The aesthetic principle of construction, as in the principle of Il faut continuer [among the last words of L’Innomable], goes beyond stasis; and it goes beyond the dynamic in that it is at the same time a principle of treading water, and, as such, a confession of the uselessness of the dynamic …” For Adorno, “treading water” is among the few ethical responses available to the artist who finds himself or herself to be of diminishing relevance (outside the institutional and academic artworld) in an efficiency-oriented consumer culture. Not only is “treading water” a metaphor for the artist’s own irrationally persistent desire, it is also an affirmation of persistence – surely the absurd persistence – of autonomous aesthetic production, even of poiesis in general, within such a culture.’

from an essay on Alan Charlton by Michael Steger, in Carl Andre, Alan Charlton, Niele Toroni, Exhibition Catalogue, CAN – Centre d’Art Neuchâtel (2001), pp. 51-52

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lynne Cooke on On Kawara

Lynne Cooke's essay on On Kawara from the DIA Art Foundation Website offers one of the clearest explications of the Date Paintings on the web.

Monday, August 1, 2011


from "Reinhardt Paints a Picture", Autointerview from Art News, March 1965

"Is it true that for twelve years, since the early fifties, you've painted only black paintings and that for five years, since the early sixties, you've made black paintings of only one size, square, five feet by five feet?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

from "A Conversation between Alan Charlton and Guido de Werd", in Alan Charlton, exhibition catalogue, Museum Kurhaus Kleve, 2008

The consistency of your work is incredible; especially because visual culture changes so rapidly. Your exhibitions in the 1970s do not look substantially different to your presentations today, the context, though, has changed. Do you feel that your radical approach is a form of resistance?

I made my first grey paintings in 1969, and by the early 70s I had chosen my path. The decisions I made would have been influenced by the culture of the day. Over time, the more things change around me, the more certain I become in following this path.