Ever since Duchamp’s urinal hit the scene in 1917, and possibly for a dozen or more decades before that, what has set artwork off from other things in the world is not what it looks like or what it references or anything it does, but the fact that we’ve been invited to contemplate it as art.
-Blake Gopnik TDB
At the moment in art culture, any proposal to do with “form” is considered bad. As something transcendent, it is automatically linked with considerations of ideology and hegemony, and is seen as an illusion that allows the viewer to remain blind to social realities. Hot contemporary art is interested in plugging in directly to those, and in this kind of art, form can be anything so long as it is explicable in terms of that connection.
We, on the other hand, believe that plugging-in to social realities is often an illusion. We think institutional critique, for example, has become formulaic. We address this problem in the textual component of our show in Fort Worth. Our paintings don’t avoid difficult issues but neither do they spell them out as directly readable propaganda. We look at the material and the tangible. Things have to work: The colour has to be objective, it has to be meaningful on colour terms—the same with shape, line, tone—all the elements we use. We attack mystification ruthlessly. If there are comfortable illusions, we see our work as a blow against them. …
…I think material meaning has become the overlooked aspect of visual culture. The idea behind current art thought to be critical is that power works to blind people to what is superfluous to its operation, and critical art lifts those veils. I can’t help noticing that in the art world—for perfectly understandable and even laudable reasons, like fighting hierarchical patriarchal value judgments, or prioritizing meaning over means so that anyone can have a go—a close observation of the way materials work, something that was once inextricable from all forms of visual expression, is itself marginalized.…
…Artists have put down many of their visual tools; I want our work to offer a tangible demonstration of what it might mean to have skill back. A lot of contemporary art is a like a geography lesson from a liberal-minded teacher with a bent for social studies. That’s fine, but it seems to me that de-skilling is what happens to a trade before the axe falls, because the trade has been complicit with its own demise.
- Emma Biggs + Matthew Collings
"But for me, the single most limiting problem in contemporary criticism is the meaningless academic language which leaves everything ambiguous and prevents all but a few from making it past the first paragraph. So when many of the responses to Sandler’s piece start off with “the notion of dualism,” or 20th century French philosophy, or The History of Criticism, it’s not exactly a mystery that this conversation isn’t getting anywhere." - Whitney Kimball, Art Fag City
"But the real reason for critical timidity is that everyone is scared of the young, and art has allied itself with youth. Who wants to be seen as an oldie who just doesn't get what the kids are down with?" -Jonathan Jones in the Guardian
On October 29, 1985, a little over a year before his death, Andy Warhol meditates:
I broke something and realized I should break something once a week to remind me how fragile life is. It was a good plastic ring from the twenties.