Talking Art: Conceptual Art

Conceptual art is the subject Miriam and I discuss as I try to work on my novel and create a podcast at one and the same time.

We start with John Baldessari’s “A painting by Pat Nelson” and with the ideology of the polaroid camera, where the goal was to eliminate the barrier between the photographer and his subject so that all that was left was the simple decision. This is the ideology of art that is on display in these paintings. The artist is the man pointing, and in fact John took polaroids (or at least photographs) of his artist friend pointing at things that interested him enough to point at them. But what we’re given isn’t a series of these photographs, but a series of paintings. What John did was take the photos to different “sunday painters” who were then given the instruction to realistically paint what they saw in the photos. They were told not to embellish or make art, but just to render the photos in paint. What we were left with is an erasure of the act of painting (because what makes these paintings interesting isn’t the painterliness of the painting) and also the erasure of that immediate act of decision (the subject matter isn’t interesting either) and instead we have paintings of what polaroid wants to ignore. The mediating step. But what John wants to give us is that mediating step in itself and without mediation. He wants to make it transparently apparent. Paradoxically what he has to do in order to make the mediation of our experience of his work apparent is to create an aesthetic of irony rather than no aesthetic at all.

not sure if you were really after reification or reductionism but either way an enjoyable romp thanks


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