Tuesday, May 13, 2008

R.I.P. Rauschenberg + Being Good

I was late getting to the gallery today because I was busy working on a couple of paintings.

Contemplating the notion that I want to be simpler: That minimalism is the socially acceptable and recognized application of finesse, refinement, class and education and conversely - that over adornment is the recognizable definition of the bourgeoise, tackiness, conspicuous consumption, and an uneducated attempt to appear smarter.

This reminded me of an etiquette book I have from the '50's called,
"I try to be good."

But in the mean time I was reading a book this morning written in Boston, 1902 about Education written by a woman. Within the text are diatribes that can be described as lessons for a good, productive, healthy, artistic and moral life and the necessity of teaching that to others...her text being a doctrine of advice and philosophy for all those striving to be good citizens and good artists, actually.
(This ironically acquired at my job at the LA Municipal Gallery - discarded by an artist who had an installation there and left some of the books for us workers to take home.)

All of this was making my brain hurt.
So much talk all the time about why we make the art we do is wearing on me:
Whose art is valid, good and whatnot....whose intent is complex and whose is thin...etc etc etc...

So, I need to get going to my "other job" at Gallery Revisited and I hear on the radio that Robert Rauschenberg has died at the age of 82. The radio announcer mentions his piece, "Bed" briefly and then it's on to Chinese earthquakes.

Yes, R.I.P. Rauschenberg.

He influenced my work greatly and I felt like I had lost something really important to me. I actually got teary eyed.
His work came out of the '50's...not 1902. His intent was complex and visible.
He didn't need to "try to be good". He just was.

Excerpt from MOMA website describing "Bed":

Bed is one of Rauschenberg's first Combines, his own term for his technique of attaching cast–off items, such as rubber tires or old furniture, to a traditional support. In this case he framed a well–worn pillow, sheet, and quilt, scribbled them with pencil, and splashed them with paint, in a style derived from Abstract Expressionism. In mocking the seriousness of that ambitious art, Rauschenberg predicted an attitude more widespread among later generations of artists—the Pop artists, for example, who also appreciated Rauschenberg's relish for everyday objects.


Legend has it that the bedclothes in Bed are Rauschenberg's own, pressed into use when he lacked the money to buy a canvas. Since the artist himself probably slept under this very sheet and quilt, Bed is as personal as a self-portrait, or more so—a quality consistent with Rauschenberg's statement, "Painting relates to both art and life. . . . (I try to act in that gap between the two)." Although the materials here come from a bed, and are arranged like one, Rauschenberg has hung them on the wall, like a work of art. So the bed loses its function, but not its associations with sleep, dreams, illness, sex—the most intimate moments in life. Critics have also projected onto the fluid-drenched fabric connotations of violence and morbidity.

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