Joan Mitchell at Hauser and Wirth

Contemporary and Old Art Reviews

Joan Mitchell at Hauser and Wirth

Postby jasperjoffe » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:20 pm

http://www.hauserwirth.com/exhibitions/1223/joan-mitchell-the-last-paintings/view/

Why do artists (eg hockney) keep sticking canvases together rather than doing one big one, I can't see past the cracks.
The round paintings in this show are very beautiful. Scribbly mess really can be great. Each one relies on a circular shape (or denser messy bit) within it, to play off against the scratchy verticals. Lots of looking to be done. Good show, upstairs much better than square downstairs.
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Re: Joan Mitchell at Hauser and Wirth

Postby CAP » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:56 am

I think in Mitchell's case the diptychs (combined canvases) are meant to be seen as both a continuous picture and as variations within units. We compare the continuity with the discontinuity. The uniqueness of gesture, chance, occasion, etc - big issues to the Ab Exer - see also Robert Rauschenberg.

I don't think it's just to save movey or studio space (Mitchell had a private income).

But top show from second generation Ab Exer (she was too young to do the depression and war - key qualifications). Be interesting to see what a younger generation makes of her approach - until now restricted to the feminist ghetto.

;)
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Re: Joan Mitchell at Hauser and Wirth

Postby jasperjoffe » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:04 am

Ok that kind of makes sense: structure versus random. It makes a lot less sense in Hockney, and I think Mitchell's case she could have just drawn a line down the middle of the canvas to achieve that idea. There's something about the gap that's very distracting: mind the gap!
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Re: Joan Mitchell at Hauser and Wirth

Postby CAP » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:30 pm

No, I think a line down the middle of a single canvas would just become content - like all the other (freer) marks. The juncture has to be physical - on a par with the stretched canvas surface - to be convincing form. And the distraction/irritation is vital - these things are about a struggle for perception, breaking things down, putting them together. It has to be tough, uncomfortable.

As for Hockney, I'm at a loss to explain a lot of things there - not just multiple panels!

The artist I mainly think of when I see modern polyptychs of some sort, is James Rosenquist. I think he started doing it for purely pragmatic or practical reasons - the entire works were just too vast to be seen, exhibited or transported on a single surface, and it often coincided with the kind of fragmentation of images he favoured, so works just become an entire wall or walls of abutting panels Of course, when they get to that size, quite a bit of space is required for the viewer to step back from the thing to see the whole, and you tend to find everyone congregating up against the wall opposite. But when they do step back like this, the panel's joins all but disappear! (in this example one can just make out the grid of comprising panels - but you have to allow that the work is about 40 feet wide!) It's also a mark (or measure) of the potency of the content Rosenquist deals in.

I've done it in my own work and there it is just for practical reasons - couldn't afford a canvas/stretcher 8 X 12' or the space to work on it in one go, etc....
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Re: Joan Mitchell at Hauser and Wirth

Postby jasperjoffe » Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:58 pm

hmm the diptychs aren't her best work in this show, so regardless of the logic....
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Re: Joan Mitchell at Hauser and Wirth

Postby CAP » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:55 pm

I must say, the dreaded artist's statement that accompanies the show doesn't do her cause any good.

It's all very well talking about the emotions or inspiration for the paintings, but there's nothing necessarily connecting these to her particular set of gestures/colours/scale. They don't automatically read as a given emotion, apart from perhaps haste or impatience, and then as much with formal issues as pressing matters of her life. I think Mitchell falls prey to her own rhetoric at times and backs into certain formalist mannerisms.

It's probably this rather than her femininity that has critics pegging her on the second tier of Ab Ex. Then again, cloistering herself in rural France, probably cut her off from the more searching rigour of the 'New York' School.

She got what she wanted and bolted.If you want a foot in both camps you have to expect divided loyalty.
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Re: Joan Mitchell at Hauser and Wirth

Postby jasperjoffe » Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:54 pm

watched a good doc on her on sky arts, she was grumpy and sort of funny with the interviewer, didnt want much crap interpretation of her work.
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cap off

Postby jasperjoffe » Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:00 pm

Hi Cap, interested to see you have unveiled yourself as a painter? how come you decided to reveal yourself?
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Re: CAP OFF

Postby CAP » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:51 am

Well that stuff's like 20 years old now. I've moved on.

The tag CAP (acronym of my blog CurrentArtPics) is sort of like an established (in a small way) brand now, so I still use it for online publishing although I don't mind people knowing I also go by the name of Gerry Bell.

In fact I outed myself in the letters page of Art in America way back in 2007 in replying to an article about art blogging. On the noted blog PaintersNYC at the time the only one to really razz me about it was Zipthwung (A.K.A. Aaron Mc*****).

We're still friends on Linkin though.

Cheers J.J.!
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