Art Lies, Volume 47, Summer 2005 Page: 19
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
In contrast to neoformalism, conceptual abstraction is practiced
by artists such as Jonathan Lasker, Thomas Scheibitz, Julie Mehretu
and Damien Hirst, whose paintings derive from an anti-formalist
impulse. Their works are not representations of abstract paintings--
as might have been thought in the recent postmodern past-but
inscriptions or illustrations of ideas. In a related attempt to legitimize
recent figurative painting, critics have also linked it to the concep-
tual project. Artists such as Luc Tuymans, Neo Rauch, John Currin,
Peter Doig and Elizabeth Peyton are identified with "a strain of artists
working conceptually with figurative painting," 9 and praised for their
paintings' "capacity to convey conceptual content." 10 But that con-
tent is ambiguous rather than straightforwardly narrative, as Russell
Ferguson points out in a recent essay on the crisis in representa-
tional painting."1 According to Alison M. Gingeras, the prevalence of
ambiguity demonstrates that "figurative painting today has lost its
legibility." 12 Figures, landscapes, urban settings and accessories are
recognizable but not identifiable in a cumulatively narrative sense.
Although it might seem to defeat the purpose of conceptually
based art, ambiguity was also an essential quality of the most rig-
orous strain of '60s conceptualism. Intentionally difficult and practi-
cally indecipherable, Art & Language's text pieces demonstrate the
impossibility of transparent representation. While the words make
sense, they have no relationship to objects or events in the real world.
The difficulty encountered in the interpretation of works by Art &
Language extends to Richter's painting, as Buchloh understood it.
David Salle's arbitrary juxtapositions of unrelated figures and images
exhibit a comparable ambiguity, as do Rauch's inexplicable episodes
of human interaction in spatially expansive, retro-futuristic tableaux.
The ambiguity and the instability of meaning, which seems arbitrary
or at least in a constant state of flux, are hallmarks of contemporary
Despite revisionist attempts to resuscitate the reputations of
Alex Katz and Fairfield Porter (in The Undiscovered Country at the
UCLA Hammer Museum in 2004) and Francis Picabia and Bernard
Buffet (in Dear Painter, paint me at the Centre Pompidou in 2002, in
which Martin Kippenberger is celebrated as the prototypical con-
ceptual painter), representational painting appears to be exhausted.
While its goal of depicting observable reality was long ago assumed
by photography, nonrepresentational painting-both figurative and
abstract-is widely practiced and displayed. Given the potential for
duplicity in photography (think Yves Klein's leap into the void) and
Photoshop (think Oprah's head on Ann Margaret's body), painting's
capacity for truth-telling surpasses technological reproduction.
The veracity of figuration and abstraction derives from their
human origins, whether expressed through the artist's touch or
mechanical devices, such as spray guns, masking tape or computer-
generated sketches and studio assistants. As a paint-covered thing,
rather than an immaterial image like a photograph or video projection, a
painting has a convincing physical presence. "There is something more
to art than its skin," Thomas Hess wrote in 1968. "Painting is not stuffed
derma, and there are some physical and metaphysical bones beneath
the illusion of two dimensions." 13 To be seduced-mentally, visually or
bodily-by a painting is no longer a stupid crime but a pleasure.
1 Christopher Knight, "Fresh Paint, " Los Angeles Times, 4 April 1999,
2 Ad Reinhardt, Art-as-Art: The Selected Writings of Ad Reinhardt, ed.
Barbara Rose (New York: Viking, 1975), 50, 55.
3 "Painters Reply," Artforum 14, no. 1 (September 1975): 26.
4 See Ian Wilson, "Conceptual Art," in Conceptual Art: A Critical
Anthology, eds. Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge:
MIT Press, 1999), 416-417 and Joseph Kosuth, "Art as Idea as Idea:
An Interview with Jeanne Siegel, " in Art After Philosophy and After:
Collected Writings, 1966-1990, ed. Gabrielle Guerico (Cambridge: MIT
Press, 1991), 47-49.
5 Kosuth, "Art After Philosophy," in Art After Philosophy, 18.
6 Mel Ramsden, "Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe's As-Silly-As-You-Can-Get
'Brice Marden's Painting' (Artforum, October 1974," The Fox 2 (1975):
7 Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, "Figures of Authority, Ciphers of Regression:
Notes on the Return of Representation in European Painting," in
Art After Modernism, ed. Brian Wallis (New York: New Museum of
Contemporary Art, 1984), 120
8 Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, "Gerhard Richter: Legacies of Painting,"
in Art Talk: The Early 80s, ed. Jeanne Siegel (New York: Da Capo
Press, 1988), 111-17.
9 Matthew Higgs, quoted in Linda Yablonsky, "What Makes a Painting
a Painting?" Art News 104, no. 4 (April 2005): 101.
10 Alison M. Gingeras, "'Lieber Maler, male mir...' Learning from
Kippenberger: Figurative Painting as Provocative and Sincere, Critical
and Sentimental, " in "Dear Painter, paint me..." Painting the Figure
Since Late Picabia (Paris: Centre Pompidou, 2002), 10.
11 Russell Ferguson, The Undiscovered Country (Los Angeles: Hammer
Museum, 2004), 94.
12 Gingeras, "'Lieber Maler, male mir...,' 10.
13 Thomas B. Hess, Willem de Kooning (New York: Museum of Modern
Art, 1968), 23.
ARTL!ES Summer 2005 19
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Bryant, John & Gupta, Anjali. Art Lies, Volume 47, Summer 2005, periodical, 2005; Houston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth228012/m1/21/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .