Monday, 24 September 2012

Sarah Lucas: Ordinary Things, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (19 July-21 October 2012)

Art history writing rarely favours artists who found great success (particularly financial) within their own lifetime and as the continuing passage of time sorts out the winners from the ‘also rans’ among the “Young British Artists” of the 1990s, if I were a betting woman I would put my money on the work of Sarah Lucas receiving more historical analysis and yes, even acclaim, than that of Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin.  Despite its (in)famous crass humour and apparent irreverence to sculptural traditions, Lucas’ work is neither as throw away in attitude or thrown together in its making as it might initially suggest.  Scratch the surface and it soon becomes apparent that there is a committed, culturally and sculpturally engaged artist at work here, more than deserving of her place in academic journals and elevation from her previous Cool Britannia, anti-artist persona.
Lucas has been working and exhibiting consistently (both nationally and internationally) for over twenty years.  Ordinary Things looks broadly across her practice to date as well as offering an alternative reading of her work, eloquently described on the Institute’s website as follows:

“Many exhibitions of Lucas' work have focused on her as a central player within British art in the 1990s. Ordinary Things offers a counter position: this exhibition of thirty sculptures turns to the sculptural rather that the sensational, positioning Lucas' work within an art historical lineage that addresses the materials and processes of sculpture. From 'Big Fat Anarchic Spider' (1993) to 'NUDS' (2009-2010), to 'Unknown Soldier' (2003) and 'Jubilee' (2012), via 'Suffolk Bunny' (1997-2004), 'Au Naturel' (1994) and 'Penetralia' (2008), Ordinary Things identifies Lucas' consistent questioning of the definition of sculpture. Lucas works with the 'ordinary things' that form our surroundings and assumptions.

Sculpture is formed of a narrow and specific history, concerned with processes of making and informed by the ways in which human beings use objects to attempt to make sense of the surrounding world. Lucas' sculptures are built on the art historical idea of what a sculpture might be - an object, defined by gravity, space, the human body and naturally found forms. Ordinary Things locates Lucas' works firmly in this history, with the works pointing to the canon of sculpture, ranging from third century Italian votives, Bernini's classical statuary, the figures of Henry Moore and the natural materials of Barbara Hepworth, to the Arte Povera strategies of Mario Merz and the found objects of Robert Filliou. Her works also recall the knotted bodies of Orlan from the 1960s and the dolls of Hans Bellmer and Oskar Kokoschka, as well as the surrealist figures of Pablo Picasso, Robert Gober and Louise Bourgeois, Cycladic torsos and archaeological artefacts. Ordinary Things is a consideration of the ways in which Lucas uses the sculptural languages of the figure and the cast. Made by her own hand, her objects are produced through the languages that surround them, materials that are ready at hand, and sculptural procedures and traditions, taking in cutting, welding, moulding, handling, stuffing, assembling; monumental, ready-made, formal, quick-build, representational and abstract.

Lucas' sculptures are made of and from the human body - a decaying and sensible object that requires maintenance and care. 'Au Naturel' (1994) is a portrait of a couple on a bed, a man represented by a cucumber and a pair of oranges and a woman by a pair of melons and a bucket. Both vulgar compositions are constructed from materials and vernacular slang that are commonplace, their 'human' component made from organic matter that needs to be replaced as inevitable decay sets in. In the seven 'NUDS' (2009-2010) here on display, limbs can be seen wrapping around each other in knotted couplings and solo acrobatics, the cellulite-marked flesh formed from 'natural' tights stuffed with fluff and stiffened by wire, the delicate surface bruised and wrinkled as the bodies perch on their breeze-block supports.”

While the casual gallery visitor coming to this exhibition may indeed have no desire to scratch the surface of Lucas’ work in order to discover what’s really going on underneath the bravado and seek no more than the visual double-entendre puns, the melon tits and cucumber cocks, the fact that The Henry Moore Institute is one of many such renowned and respected organisations which continue to favour Lucas’ work, bears testament to the very serious reputation she has now acquired.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Jenny Saville, Modern Art, Oxford (23 June-16 September 2012)

Oxford well and truly embraces its newest artist resident, Jenny Saville, by playing host at Modern Art to her first solo exhibition in a public gallery and at the same time exhibiting two of her new pieces in the Renaissance room at the Ashmolean Museum.
Jenny Saville is blessed with an enormous amount of talent.  The combination of her drawing skills, understanding of how paint behaves and incredible painting abilities really are quite awe inspiring.  Her enormous canvases are testament to a self-assurance in both subject matter and execution that only someone possessed of such talent could afford to have. 

The exhibition catalogue quotes Willem de Kooning who said flesh was the reason oil paint was invented and there is plenty of both on display here.  Saville’s flesh is bruised, blooded, scarred and post-operative, but it is still beautiful.  Her paintings deliver a double dose of aesthetic pleasure.  Viewed up close they become an abstract landscape of virtuoso brushwork - broad sweeping strokes dance alongside gentle stippling and spattering, impasto oil both battles and compliment s against smooth gloss enamel.  From a distance the combination of their sheer size with the violence of the subject matter demand a contemplation and reverence that much contemporary art is unable, or unwilling to aspire to.
The glazed-eyed, anaesthetised face of Reverse (2002) stares out blankly, a woman lay prone on an operating table after the surgeon’s knife and acid peel have worked their ‘magic’.  At the same time this could easily be a painting of a discarded corpse laid out on the stainless steel morgue table, a victim of criminal violence and waiting for another type of surgeon’s knife, for a post-mortem.  The paint almost oozes off the canvas.

Early paintings such as Trace (1993) and Fulcrum (1997-99), completed while Saville was in her early twenties show the blossoming of her early talent.  Now aged forty two, her paintings continue to show a sureness of hand.  Torso II (2004-05) is yet another tour de force.  In fact all the paintings on display in this exhibition pack a very powerful punch.  That said, I have to admit at being disappointed with her most recent mother and child studies and Leonardo reproductions, which seem lazy and predictable in their depiction.  Without question these drawings are as skilfully executed as her paintings and the blend and intricacy of the mark making within them is also a feast for the eyes.  But while I completely understand that the impact of motherhood fundamentally changes the focus of the majority of women who give birth and that nurturing their children becomes an all-encompassing experience, for a contemporary artist whose previous works have unflinchingly confronted subjects as described by the exhibition catalogue as testing the thresholds of received ideas of decency, taste and social norm, to revert to a classical, almost idealised depiction of motherhood seems more than a little regressive and unconvincing.
Despite this, this exhibition is an absolute must see and I whole-heartedly recommend a visit.  It is rare that a one-person show at Modern Art Oxford can hold its own in the lofty galleries in the former brewery.   Jenny Saville’s work seems almost site specific and fit into the galleries like a glove, albeit a bloodied surgical one. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Chardin Colloquium, Waddesdon Manor, Waddesdon, Bucks (14 July 2012)

Every so often I find myself in a (self-orchestrated) situation when trying to expand my horizons and broaden my knowledge base, I find myself so completely out of my depth and comfort zone that I question any ability I may have in carving out even a small niche in academia – maybe I’m just not intellectual enough, just not articulate enough.  When two of the papers presented on this study day (or colloquium in Waddesdon speak) were in French and no one in the audience raised an eyelid, in fact the majority of them obviously spoke the language fluently as they laughed at humorous moments or indicated in French certain aspects of the talk, it was no wonder my Eliza Doolittle  complex reared its ugly head in such esteemed company, I’m so downstairs to their upstairs!
So why Chardin?  Why Waddesdon Manor?  I have always admired Chardin’s exquisite paintings of eighteenth century domestic interiors, so precise and controlled and evoking a world far removed from anything I would normally have the time to study in any depth.  Waddesdon Manor is well known to me and I have visited on many occasions, so discovering this study day to mark the end of its exhibition of a number of Chardin paintings to celebrate its recent purchase of Boy Building A House of Cards (1735) seemed a perfect opportunity to find out more on the artist and compare and contrast various presentation strategies and areas of specific research of the speakers.
The very high calibre of speakers was enthusiastically received by the suited and booted audience of Chardin enthusiasts.  I learned the most from Colin Bailey’s (Deputy Director of The Frick Collection, New York) paper Upstairs/Downstairs: Dress, Status and the Imaginary in Chardin’s Genre Paintings and Emma Barker’s (Senior Lecturer in Art History, The Open University) Chardin’s Images of Women: Representing Domesticity.  Unfortunately despite the presence of renowned experts René Démoris and Charlotte Guichard, as these were the papers given in French, their content will remain a mystery to me.
In any event, this was still a wonderful day, in a wonderful setting, seeing a world of upper echelon academics whose ranks I will never join, but who fascinate me nevertheless.

Intense Proximity: The Paris Triennale 2012, Palais de Toyko, Paris (20 April-26 August 2012)

Perhaps with hindsight, it was a mistake to jump from seeing two exhibitions typifying the joie de vivre of La Belle Epoque in archetypal romantic Paris locations straight into one with  hard edged twenty first century contemporary globalised art!  It may have been too much of a stylistic and conceptual leap with a touch of exhibition exhaustion thrown in for good measure, but this Triennale (the first such event I have ever visited) really disappointed. Even my friend living in Paris did not know it was taking place and no publicity was seen around the city during my stay.  We walked around the cavernous interior of the Palais de Toyko desperately hoping to come across something interesting, exciting or even controversial, but nothing materialised.  Even the dilapidated architecture of the 1937 building proved more interesting that many of the exhibits.  With 120 contributors, the Triennale brochure talked of the show being inspired by early to mid-twentieth century ethnography and exploring the nodes where art and ethnography converge in a renewal of fascination and estrangement, an intersection of the French art scene and global sites of production…….!
These motifs were apparent in a number of the work on display (for example from Carrie Mae Weems) but the challenge was rooting these out from the relentless assault of sub-standard unmonumental installations, gratuitous female genitalia and unengaging video work, most of which teetered on the edge of disappearing completely within dilapidated building.
Despite a number of big names (Chris Ofili, Adrian Piper, Ellen Gallagher) sprinkled around the contemporary French artists, there were only two highlights for me in this entire show – Annette Messager’s Motion/Emotion (2009-2011) and Dominik Lang’s Sleeping City (2011) installations, oh and the very funky café and delicious coffee (so all was not lost)!..........

Berthe Morisot, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris (8 March-29 July 2012)

Housed in a former seventeenth century hunting lodge and inherited by renowned eighteenth French art historian and collector Paul Marmottan in the rue Louis Boilly in Paris, Musée Marmottan is equally as charming although not as jaw dropping as Musée Rodin.  The museum was exhibiting the first retrospective ever(!!) of impressionist artist Berthe Morisot.  Extended due to public demand, a chance spotting of the publicity poster on the Metro, lead me to this fascinating exhibition.  Morisot, along with Mary Cassatt, are known as the female impressionists and to an extent suffer the same critical neglect or unfavourable comparisons to their male counterparts as sculptress (and their peer) Camille Claudel.  Morisot, like Claudel was an attractive woman and features in many of Manet’s paintings (indeed she married his younger brother).  However, greater investigation of her life and work show an engagement with artistic concerns and debates of her time, which deserve revisiting.
The exhibition presented a huge volume of her work, many paintings within which were not completed.   Those that were, lit up the room.  Yes, most of her paintings depicted domestic scenes of upper middle class domesticity and portraits of family (particularly her daughter, Julie), but this was the only world available to her.  But what paintings – luscious and seductive brushstrokes combined with sumptuous colours evoke the most delicate of impressions of modern life (as was).  For me, she is at her strongest when painting suburban Parisian scene en plein which equal (and in some cases pre-date) the work of Monsieurs Monet, et al.  Equally striking are her studies of women at their toilette – another favourite subject of her male counterparts.  Can we perceive a female set of eyes watching these models?  Do they differ from the gaze of a male artist?  Is the scene less erotic and more empathic or am I just reading too much gender difference within such work?  In any event, a lovely, lovely exhibition to chance upon.

Camille Claudel permanent collection at Musée Rodin, Paris (7 July 2012)

The Musée Rodin, which occupies an eighteenth century mansion in the rue de Varenne in Paris is without doubt the most beautiful stately home I have ever seen.  Its south façade, seen from the bottom of the gardens, is quintessentially French petit bourgeois.  The gardens contain Rodin’s most famous publically commissioned sculptures – Balzac, The Burghers of Calais, The Thinker and The Gates of Hell – all of which are a wonderful feast for the eyes, but it is when you enter the house and wander from one exquisite room into another, each one retaining its original flooring, doors, decorative features of oversized ornate mirrors, carved fire places and cornices, painted ceilings, grandiose chandeliers, etc, etc, etc, that your senses are in real danger of complete overload.  To start with, the history of the building is almost palpable – as if the Master has just left the very room which you have entered.  Then in addition to this, each room contains a selection of exquisite work, predominantly (obviously) by Rodin and his students, assistants and also from his private collection, including pieces from antiquity as well as artists such as Van Gogh, Monet and Bourdelle, all of which are testament to a period in art history which produced sculpture of such grandiose and classical intent and executed with a vigour, passion and skill which is quite simply awe inspiring.  Whether in marble, plaster or cast in bronze and life size or marquettes, there really are not enough adjectives to describe the sheer joy and wonder felt by being surrounded work such as this.  The fact that Rodin himself lived here between 1908-1916, holding his salons, meeting his collectors and dignitaries and artist friends, just adds to the romance of the overall experience.
But it is to see the work of Camille Claudel which draws me here, as the Musée holds the largest permanent collection of her work.  Claudel was Rodin’s most celebrated student, lover and muse, whose undoubted skill and talent have been overshadowed by her relationship with the artist and her subsequent long term internment in a mental asylum.  Her position within art history has been reduced to the same fate as many female artists who were either partners of, or married to, more famous male artists, thus only being of interest for the time of their involvement with their male counterpart lasted.  Their work is invariably seen as second rate copies and being inspired by the artist they were involved with rather than standing by their own merit. 

This visit really was a pilgrimage for me.  I nearly jumped with joy when I finally came upon her work.  According to some guide books, Claudel’s surviving work was once housed in a room dedicated entirely to her ouvre.  Now that same room has rather disingenuously been downgraded and renamed “Rodin’s Circle”, housing works acquired by the artist during his lifetime, which includes not only her work, but paintings by Van Gogh and Monet to name but two.

But what work Mademoiselle Claudel!  Clotho (1893) is a 90cm high plaster piece of a mythological figure from the Three Fates, here depicted as an elderly woman with sagged breasts and protruding stomach, her haggard face enveloped in a mane of hair which binds the woman’s ravished body.
In stark contrast, the youthful figures in the bronze Waltz (also dated 1893) are enveloped in drapery as they sensuously embrace in the rhythm of the dance.

Taking centre stage in the room The Age of Maturity (1899) is a bronze cast of an uncompleted plaster study, which has often been interpreted as an autobiographical work, illustrating Rodin hesitating between his aging mistress and his new young lover – all tormented drapery and high Art Nouveau which nevertheless packs a punch – the fingerprints of the artist and signs of carving remain a visceral pleasure.
Claudel’s catalogue raisonnée in the Museum’s gift shop bears witness to an ouvre which demands much more critical attention than it appears to have received in any great volume to date and whilst this minor contribution is no more than that, it may lead at least one reader to investigate Claudel’s work further and perhaps fall in love with it as much as I have.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Department of Fine Art Degree Show, University of Reading, Reading (11-21 June 2012)

Some of the young, enquiring minds showing the best of the fruits of their creative labours over the last three years were very dark indeed at University of Reading.   Electrocution chambers, restraining chairs, auto-asphyxiation, mutilation as well as animal slaughter were featured among a collection of work which, unlike many BA graduate shows, genuinely reflected a collective effort and desire to respond to conceptual concerns and strategies prevalent in contemporary art practice.
Film and installation work proliferated (most notably in Catrin Richard’s The Assassination Centre and Florence Goodwin’s The Dynean Research Project, Fractions of Society mixed media installations), followed closely with performance work whose discarded  materials or photographic records were all that remained on show (Claire Saumtally’s Charity and Sian Luisa Herbert’s Skin Performance).   Championing painting and sculpture and of equal note,  Lexi Straker-Nesbit’s wire sculptures of urban animals prowled quietly behind Vicki Turner declaration of her painterly presence with her gigantic canvas The Pier.

Inevitably some work was less successful in manifesting the ideas contained in the artists’ online statements - some of the installations behind closed doors failed to live up to the anticipation on entering, other pieces looked as if the artist has just run out of creative steam.  While any attempts at revaluing and representing feminist ideologies are always welcome in my book, and Jasmine Crawley’s The Secret Feminist installation displayed the most original (and witty) attempts contained here at bringing the F-Word to a younger audience, such in your face, angry young women strategies rarely translate to a wider, less convinced, audience.  Far more interesting was her online Rosler v Lawson video which was also much more convincing than The Emily’s constant and quickly irritating (whether intentional or not) displayed video ranting – sorry ladies.
Overall, and despite some curatorial mishaps – some videos not switched on, a few name and/or title cards falling off walls and the mechanical failure of a key featured piece, this graduating year offered for consideration a collection of work engaging in ideas and concerns rarely seen outside London art schools. 

Artist of the show was undoubtedly Florence Goodwin.  Her installation created a fictional environment which was fascinating, complex and unsettling and which showed the greatest potential by a new artist.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Do Not Walk Outside This Area, Roman Ondάk, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (26 April - 18 June 2012)

A chance visit to Deutsche Guggenheim during a work trip to Berlin for DMY International Design Festival resulted in seeing a work of art, so simple yet so completely captivating in both its idea and installation that it has rejuvenated my interest in contemporary conceptual art.  As part of Slovakian artist Roman Ondάk’s exhibition, winner of Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year award, an entire wing of a Boeing airplane rested on the middle gallery floor, acting as a bridge and only form of entrance between two further galleries.

Such an unassuming object, taken out of its usual functioning context, became a true thing of simple beauty and walking across it momentarily transported me to a liminal space not quite in the gallery and yet not quite anywhere else – a complete immersion in a very similar way to that experienced recently in the Kusama installation (see earlier review).
The gallery’s website succinctly introduces Ondάk’s work:
“Travelling, moving through space and time, is a continuous theme in Ondák’s work. This is the case in do not walk outside this area, a project the artist conceived specifically for his Artist of the Year exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim. The path through the installation leads via the original wing of a Boeing 737-500, which enjoins two exhibition rooms like a bridge. In both rooms, works on paper and installations are devoted to the theme of “travel”. One of them is Balancing at the Toe of the Boot, 2010, a series of seven postcards and sixteen fictional newspaper articles based on a trip to Calabria. To reach the second part of the exhibition, the visitor walks over the wing in the area marked: “Do not walk outside this area,” entering the unreachable surface that otherwise can only be seen out of the window of an aircraft cabin.
Ondák not only plays with a reversal of inside and outside, but also with the conventions of the art industry. Everyone knows the prohibitions, barriers, and boundaries that lend artworks a valuable, exclusive aura and thus fetishize them: Please do not touch! Do not come too close. No photographs. But Ondák’s wing is not a hallowed sculpture. It is an object of use that we are supposed to enter and touch. This footbridge serves as a runway for our ideas, memories, and fantasies. In the age of global mobility, Ondák invites us to take an inner, imaginary journey”.
Very cleverly done Roman!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Sarah Lucas: Make Love, Situation, London (16 February-26 May 2012)

I am a great fan of Sarah Lucas and her work.  I love the way she wears her gender politics on her sleeve and unapologetically sticks to a form of artistic expression which has altered little over the last 15 years, yet which still appears fresh, packs a powerful punch and retains its relevance within today’s contemporary art scene, a scene which uncomfortably shuffles its feet when confronted with overtly feminist work.
I read two reviews before visiting Make Love, one by Colin Glen in Art Monthly and the other by Coline Milliard for  As a fledging art historian and critic, far be it for me to make judgments on other people’s writing styles, but Glen’s constant artist name dropping when describing Lucas’s work and references to complex theoretical discourses may fit the required writing style of the publication, but left me struggling to understand exactly what he thought of her work and I feel completely missed the point of what Lucas is all about.  In contrast, Milliard’s more accessible writing style really reflected Lucas’s no-nonsense attitude.  For me, it is fascinating to compare both reviews and discover and decide which style of writing appeals to me as a reader and in developing my own writing.
So, to the exhibition itself!  The whole premise of handing over Sadie Coles’ new Situation project space located next to the main gallery in Burlington Place to Lucas who will curate a year’s programme of her own work, is testament to the strength of the long standing and personal relationship between the artist and her dealer.  In Make Love, Lucas presents ten new sculptures which all make use of her trademark stuffed tights, metal buckets and concrete blocks.  Titles such as “Pussy”, “Hard Nud” and “Tit Teddy” reflect Lucas’s familiar hard-arse, in-your-face intimacy in her gender-based pieces, while the biomorphic Nuds series offer a more reflective and expanding vocabulary.  Two printed wallpapers, “Priére de Toucher” and “Get Off Your Horse”, both earlier works slightly readjusted and represented twelve and seventeen years (respectively) since they were first created.  Lucas’s reasoning for including these two pieces and references to ancient myth contained in the press release, require further investigation.
Lucas’s work is as much about formal qualities and material understanding as it is about social commentary.  Despite the rough and ready, do-it-yourself attitude of artist run spaces which Situation alludes to with its shabby interior of stripped back walls and bare floor, the work is almost mute within such an austere setting.  The severity of both her work and the interior almost cancel themselves out.  When her sculptures are installed and viewed in venues such as the Freud Museum in 2000 and more recently during her week’s residency at the St John Hotel in Soho as part of last year’s Frieze Art Fair, the juxtaposition between her use of everyday and domestic objects against more formal and dare I say it, decorative interiors, adds a friction between the work and the viewer which forces the viewer to reflect longer on such work.
Despite this, Making Love proves that Lucas has remained a constant and forceful presence in the British art scene since the heady yBa years of the early 1990s.  In a 2006 interview for The Guardian, when asked what words or phrase she overuses the most, Lucas replied “go away, get a knob, come back, we'll talk about it”.  Such is the sentiment of the artist, such is the sentiment contained within her work. 

Yayoi Kusama, Tate Modern, London (9 February-5 June 2012)

If you are lucky enough to be able to position yourself within Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Wall – Filled with the Brilliance of Life installation where you can neither see reflections of yourself or other visitors and then lose yourself in the gently changing coloured lights, you are in for a truly magical experience.   This may seem a little theatrical and the piece itself may also be seen by some as too grandiose in its intention (a multitude of tiny LED spot lights suspended from the ceiling provide the artist with a clever 21st century twist for her obsession with polka dots) in comparison to much contemporary art.  Nevertheless, it is the first artwork which has completed engaged all my senses and momentarily transported me to a liminal space never experienced before and for that reason, for me it was truly magical.  In fact, the whole exhibition was a wonderful, unexpected gem.  To my embarrassment, I was unaware of Kusama until seeing images of her soft sculpture work featured in some press for this show.  It is such a surprise and pleasure not only to discover a new artist but with a body of work and art historical story which is personally exciting and fascinating and offers potential for further research and discovery.
Yayoi Kusama was born in Japan in 1929 and developed a passion for art making from an early age.  Formally trained, she eventually emigrated to the United States frustrated by the conventional teaching she was receiving and becoming more interested in the European and American avant-garde.  She moved to New York in 1958 and for the next ten years immersed herself in the burgeoning conceptual artistic scene of the time before returning to Japan, where she remains today, aged 84.  There is so much work to love in this exhibition, from her exquisite early works on paper, the tour de force of her Accumulation sculptures and later large sculpture and installations, as well as the wonderful Infinity Mirrored Wall.  The work she produced during her ten years in New York are inarguably on a par with the likes of Schneemann, Spero and other female artists who were carving out careers in a pre-feminist art world, yet her name is curiously missing from feminist writings about the very art scene she was very actively involved in.
Her collage work of the 1970s and the 1980s paintings seem to reflect the mental health crises she experienced at the time and appealed less to me.  They seem to be searching for a previous direction which had been momentarily lost and out of the artist’s grasp.  However, they are still fascinating to view within the context of what was happening in her life during that time.  Her most recent paintings reminded me of the Matisse’s late collage works, what they lack in cutting edge exploration or critical enquiry, they make up for with their air of pathos showing an elderly artist’s need to be creative when their artistic powers are failing them.  Equally fascinating was the archive material on display.  There was a wonderful photograph in a New York tabloid reporting on one of her infamous naked happenings staged in the sculpture garden at the Museum of Modern Art.  A very uncomfortable and embarrassed looking security guard is approaching a small group of naked performers who have invaded the pond where Maillol’s The River sculpture is sited.  It is both a comical and thought provoking juxtaposition of accepted female nudity in the form of a modernist sculpture and the unaccepted fleshy reality on display in Kusama’s intervention.
It is though Kusama’s soft sculptures which first drew me to discovering the artist and visiting this exhibition, which speak to me the most.  From the Accumulation series of the 1960s and her clouds and boxes series of the 1980s and 1990s, there is something about the dichotomy of a female artist working with fabric and clothing with all their associated feminist and psychoanalytical readings of aesthetics and touch and in relation to its presentation to an audience where the element of touch is forbidden.

Friday, 20 April 2012


I can finally see light at the end of this particular tunnel!  As next week’s deadline looms for submitting two essays  (forms of art historical writing and second debates and approaches  - great timetable scheduling by the university – NOT!) my two attempts are virtually completed.  I need to stop looking at them for a couple of days and then do final proofing and bind, etc.  I am still amazed and slightly shell shocked at just how much time, energy and social life such work takes up. 
I really enjoyed the forms of art historical writing essay.  I created a catalogue introduction for an imagined sculpture exhibition at the Serpentine gallery.  I think I got a little bit carried away with my former curator’s cap on as I actually went and measured the gallery and am submitting an accompanying floor plan and list of proposed works, as well as the text itself!
The second essay, on representations of gender in contemporary art, was more challenging as there may be potential overlap with my dissertation topic and I certainly do not want to peak too soon with that…..
Next week I will return the twenty books I currently have from the university library, clear my desk at home, take a deep breath and then wait for the next module to kick in….