Art News and Opinion: July 23, 2010
Frances Bean Cobain, Celestial Splendor; graphite, ink & glitter on paper; 12″ x 14.5″ via Flavorwire
Kelly Hartog reports from Mail Online on Frances Bean Cobain’s first art show at La Luz De Jesus Gallery in East Los Angeles. Hartog cites the late rocker Kurt Cobain’s now teenaged daughter’s show as exactly what you would expect: exponentially creepy. Under the pseudonym Tim Fiddle, Cobain’s exhibit of notebook sketches entitled “Scumf***” is a montage of ghoulish cartoons and figures, with grotesque themes and captions. This troubled artistic expression from the 17 year old, who is due to inherit a sizable chunk of dough from her late father’s estate next month, is utterly predictable and indeed disturbing, writes Hartog. The drawings in the exhibit, each priced between $250 and $400, have reportedly all been sold.
The Independent’s Michael Glover discovers a quiet majesty in Camille Pissaro’s painting Lordship Lane Station, Dulwich. The 1871 Impressionist piece can be found peeking out from a corner of one of the extravagant rooms at the Courtauld Gallery in London. In contrast to its surroundings, the modestly sized painting depicts a dutifully lumbering train chugging into town, as a lazy gray smokestack wiggles its way to the top of the canvas. Glover comments that the beauty of the piece is found in its understated elements: a smaller canvas, a subtle earthy toned palette, and a nondescript subject matter. For Impressionists such as Pissaro, the key to unlocking the beauty of life was found in the hushed and murmuring spasms of light and color changes throughout the day. Glover finds that Pissaro perfectly demonstrates this canon.
Arshile Gorky, Organization, 1933–36, oil on canvas, 49 3⁄4 x 60 in via MOCA
A new evaluation of the life and art of Arshile Gorky is currently ongoing in an installation called Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective at the MOCA Museum in Los Angeles. Paul Schimmel, writer for The Curve on the museum’s website, chronicles Gorky’s life and evolution as a cubist painter, in his latest segment from a four part series. Schimmel describes the abstract artist’s move towards cubism during the Great Depression, as Gorky was influenced by surrealism and biomorphic shapes like those found in the works of Joan Miró. Progressing into the early 1930s, he continued to paint scrambled surrealist images that explored themes of inner combat or struggle, inspired by the slaughterhouse and cockfight paintings of André Masson. One such example is Composition, completed in 1939, which displays bird figures juxtaposed with waxen colors against a stark white background.
Laura Cumming of The Observer politely slams a new exhibition at the Royal Academy in London entitled Sargent and the Sea, highlighting John Singer Sargent’s nautical paintings and sketches. Curators are excitedly pumping up the volume of the exhibit, calling it important and a different side of the American artist. Cumming disagrees, and points out that Sargent is hardly knowledgeable on the subject of the ocean, having certainly never studied it as intensely as someone like Monet. Many of the paintings display social beach themes such as naked children playing in the sand, without truly conjuring the magic of the ocean. Curators’ enthusiasm for the exhibit does not make up for sordid work that is clearly aimed at pleasing a sunshine-hungry audience—in Cumming’s eyes, it is Sargent’s most boring work.
Similarly, John Perreault of Artopia finds flaws in the new survey of Andy Warhol’s “second act,” named Andy Warhol: The Last Decade, going on now through September 12 at the Brooklyn Museum. Perreault embarks on an-depth study into past Warhol exhibitions, and comparatively insists that various segments of this current exhibition should have been left out, including Warhol’s yarn pieces and short series of egg paintings. Perreault admits that since the pop artist’s pieces were so vast during the span of his life, it is admittedly hard to create a show to please all. He changed the face of art to not be “starving” but commercialized, something that is controversial even today. However, his work inarguably continues to inspire and cultivate a love for pop, and Perreault concludes that in the end, that is what is most important.
Laura Lawson paints when writer’s block strikes and writes when painter’s block strikes. She has studied fine art at LCAD and is pursuing a degree in journalism. Recently diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, she strives to bring hope to those without vision through her blog. She is currently working on her first book about coping with vision loss.