All 6 entries tagged A Word On Art

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September 11, 2007

In Münster

Skulptur Projekte Münster
Dit weekend was ik in Münster. En viel daar met mijn neus in de boter.

Dit jaar viert de stad weer het skulptur projekte Voor dit alle tien jaren terugkerende kunstfestival werden over de hele stad sculpturen en alternatieve kunstwerken verspreid.

Een kaartje geeft de wandelroute aan. We gaan op weg. Langs de plas waar de kleine rivier de Aa op uitkomt, de Aasee, herinnert het werk van pop artist Claes Oldenburg aan het eerste project. Poolballs (1977) toont, niet anders dan de titel suggereert, drie enorme poolballen. Ik laat me vertellen dat studenten uit die tijd uit protest (en ook een klein beetje uit dronkenschap) geprobeerd hadden die ballen de Aasee in te rollen. Hetgeen ze niet lukte. Enkele stappen ervandaan toont Diffuse Einträge (van de Deen Tue Greenfort) een mestwagen zien die constant water in het meer spuit. Wat bedoeld de kunstenaar? Waarom die nutteloze stroom water?

The Lost ReflectionWe lopen verder langs de kant van het meer, hetwelk men in het Duits om onverklaarbare redenen Meer noemt. In het midden drijft een plastic zwaan. Het verhaal gaat dat daar vorig jaar een (echte) zwarte zwaan verliefd op was geworden. Het met zijn leven verdedigde. Echte liefde is tenslotte (in elk geval een beetje) blind.

Dan komen we bij de Torminbrug. Daaronder staat een groepje mensen te wachten. Waarop? Plotseling klinkt daar het zachte gezang van een vrouw. Het is muziek uit Jaques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, een opera. Plotseling klinkt van de andere een kanonstem op de zoetgevooiste melodie die we aan onze kant horen. Samen beleven we iets dat verdacht intiem lijkt daar onder de brug waar we het verkeer overheen horen zoeven. Dit “kunstwerk” heet The Lost Reflection en uitgevoerd door Susan Philipsz uit Ierland.

Minder Magritte dan het lijkt...En er is nog meer interessants te beleven in de stad. Het Graphikmuseum Picasso opende dit zelfde weekend toevallig in samenwerking met het Landeskriminalamt een tentoonstelling over kunstvervalsing. Vele pentekeningen van Picasso met de vervalsing ernaast. Maar ook hangt er vervalst (en echt) werk van Schmitt-Rottluff, Dalí en Miró. Alleen al om het spelletje van “raad welke de neppert is” al de moeite waard. Hetgeen aardig lukte als men ze naast elkaar had gehangen…

June 14, 2007

Great Art History Competition

Who made me?

Welcome to the Great Art History Quiz, where today’s question is:

Who is the inventor of the tower depicted above? Something is not right about the image, what is it?

April 24, 2007

The Effects of Market Working on Choice of Themes in Art

The last weeks have sparked a few thoughts on art and its producers, artists. This is not in the least because of the fact that I am this year taking a course in History of Contemporary Art. Apart from that, I am also living with a free-lance painter since December, the uncomparable D´Onofrio from Argentina.

In any case, to keep this idea short, as a follow-up to my last “word on art”, the small beginning of a developing idea.

The tendency exists in today´s society, to jovially allow any type of livestyle and artistic development in its development. This is a logical effect of liberal democratic thinking: “whatever doesn´t hurt others should be allowed”. Now, applied to art, we might come to a statement something like what my classmate (as mentioned in the earlier piece) describes as: “everyone is an artist”.

I am absolutely agreed with the fact that every person develops artistic ideas and tendencies to the extent that they feel personally necessary. However, my painting housemate complains that all art he sees from his peers at exhibitions works on a similar basis. It is light, cartoonish, colourful, easy to understand and mostly playing with the senses or (a black type of) humor. D´Onofrio however paints in a different style, energetic but dark, colourful but choking, with an idea but somewhat abstracted. He encounters difficulties getting his work exposed and finds no connection in many young artists´ work.

Now, to me it seems, that by claiming every one of us ought to do whatever she feels she should do, is stating the premises in the wrong direction. Rather, the question is: why does an artist make what she makes? And which forces stir the choice of themes that artists make? Concretely, we have the case of Barcelona´s city art style, a style that we find back on flyers and in advertisements.

It must be what sells well, but that cannot be a good basis for the creation of good art.

April 12, 2007

Is Art a Universal Right?

This morning over a coffee and a sandwich I had a discussion with Portuguese and Catalan classmates from a History of Modern Art module.

The Portuguese girl said: “I believe everybody is an artist. Everybody makes something, creates something. People place people in boxes – you are a sociologist, you are a politicologist, you are an artist. I resent that division.”
The Catalan girl said: “But listen, many of my friends who are artists struggle to make a living. It is extremely difficult but necessary for them to making a living with a job by the side. But to be an artist after coming home is very exhausting and constraining for their productivity and creativity.”
I said: “However flawful the selection of ‘official’, or ‘succesful’ artists is, being done by gallery keepers and museum directors, it needs to happen. A selection of quality will always have to be made, as there is simply too much art to get to know.”

In principle, I am postive towards the universalist view of art: everyone must (or at least: can) make it, and it is for everyone to enjoy. In Huizinga´s view, “playfulness” is an indispensible part of a healthy human´s life. Nietzsche stresses the existence of a profound and dark irrational side in humans, outweighing society´s rational organisation. However, the statement has a strongly idealistic and unpractical tinge to it, even leaving the question of talent out of discussion. The quality of all art, after all, remains open for discussion and that´s a positive matter.

Life is given, not asked for, and it reveals all sorts of convenient constraints; artists are no exception to this rule – in fact it sometimes seems they are more severely subjected to it. Everyone must eat and sleep, and to work for that. The artist, moreover, needs to work, improve, produce, for a long time before reaching a peak of creativity and work of lasting durability. In theory, everybody is an artist. But does this mean a sweatshop worker, or ever closer to home, an office clerk, will immediately be able to translate her inner thoughts in beautifully phrased poetry? Where will she find the energy to handle the brushes, the time to observe the world with an artist´s eye and to develop new ideas in all calmness?

Artists are, thus, forced to participate in the money economy (to use Simmel´s term) to survive. It is not convenient, nor much desired by many artists, but useful, even necessary for them if they want to continue their artistic pursuits. The money economy knows its own mores and handles according to its own procedures which allow it to perpetuate itself, and benefit those who know how to maintain themselves within it. Therefore paintings and poetry volumes, as well as novels and sculptures are given a price, a price that we pay, or don´t pay, to enjoy art. The money economy has never been very sensible to such things as artistic innovation during an artist´s lifetime, or genius vision in a work of art. The artist´s profession is known as a harsh life.

All of this to lead to my conclusion. Should we pity those who complain about the absence of Universal Art? I don´t think so. Everybody for themselves may decide to what degree they develop the unquestionable artist in themselves, no choice is per sé better or worse as this is a matter of private discretion. Nevertheless, whomever pushes their art forward, cannot do anything else, as their need to create is too strong to repress it. Under such circumstances, all problems become only obstacles on ever less disputable road.

All we can do is hope that we won´t hear this calling within ourselves, and come to the aid of creative geniuses to the best of our abilities.

January 21, 2006


Zoals elk zelfrespecterend kunstenaar-muzikant verdiep ook ik mij zo nu en dan in de diepere vragen van de kunst. Een voorbeeld hiervan betreft het onoplosbare vraagstuk van de originaliteit. Bestaat originaliteit vandaag de dag überhaupt nog in de kunsten? DJ’s ‘lenen’ samples van oude platen, de zoveelste schilder maakt de zoveelste versie van ‘De Drie Gratiën’ en 70s-, 80s- en 90s-avonden behoren tot de drukstbezochtste. Dit klinkt mij allemaal wat vervelend nostalgisch in de oren en ik wil geen overhaaste conclusies trekken. De vraag is nog: is originaliteit eigenlijk wel nodig voor goede kunst? Een wijze dichter sprak eens: “Het beste werk komt voort uit het kopiëren van de fouten van onze voorgangers.” Als dit klopt, dan zal het mijn band op een met wiskundige precisie te berekenen, lineair stijgende wijze steeds beter vergaan. Wij kopiëren fouten en voegen er dan zelf nog enkele aan toe.

Zondagavond in de oefenruimte van de Students’ Union van onze universiteit in de Engelse West Midlands. Door het grote raam zien we een stralende oranje-roze zonsondergang. “Laten we het nog een keertje doornemen”, zeg ik. “Wat ik in gedachten heb, is een soort Franz Ferdinand-achtige sfeer, strakke staccatogitaar en idem drums.” De drummer kijkt wat glazig. “Ik dacht altijd dat dit meer een Queens of the Stone Age-nummer was.” Ik haal mijn schouders op, spelen nou maar. Morgen komt er een optreden aan, en we hebben –even kijken op de playlist- nog een Coldplay-achtig, REM-styled en new wavey nummer door te nemen, evenals een Feeder-geïnspireerd nummer en iets softers in de trant van, zeg, Buckley of Matthew Jay.

“Ach”, zegt de bassist, “niemand merkt er iets van.” Daar heeft hij gelijk in. Niemand tot nu toe heeft gejatte elementen in onze muziek opgemerkt. Misschien is de waarheid van de dichters woorden wel helemaal niet van toepassing. Wellicht zijn wij als band tot het kopiëren van onze voorbeelden helemaal niet in staat. Hoe het ook zij, wij spelen met plezier en bewerken elk nummer op elk onderdeeltje tot vervelens toe. Of het resultaat, een soort formule van alle door ons op Freudiaanse manier opgenomen stijlen en ons beetje muzikale talent, een nieuwe muzikale hype gaat vormen mag het publiek morgen beoordelen. Ik drink er geen biertje minder om.

Voor als je in de buurt bent:
Panama – Students’ Union Graduate Club, maandag 23 januari, 20:00.

July 23, 2005

Photography and art

A photo project with my friends here in the Gooi region of the Netherlands is taking its first, careful steps. The idea, to photograph my small home town of Eemnes (which recently celebrated its 650th anniversary and has a rich history with a royal palace and local castle nearby) in new ways. To shed a new light on the looks of this small place with less than 9,000 inhabitants and to show places few people know of.

In doing so, I am discovering Eemnes all over myself. I notice starting to look at everything through different eyes. Lately me and my friends Xander and Flex have been looking for places we hadn’t been to before, even in this small town. The truth is, it has vast natural areas of flat land that are hardly visited. Also woods and a river area on the outskirts bring an unexpected new beauty to my idea of Eemnes.

Today we visited our local history museum to look at a collection of photos from their archives. They were hundreds of photos by a pensioned colonial officer named Vermandel, who settled in Eemnes in 1951. The differences are remarkable, the town was strikingly small and open in those days. It brings a new depth and new ways of thinking about how we see and would like to represent the town today, anno 2005.

The two photos depicted were both taken by me during the Christmas holiday of 2004. The top one shows the Eemnes lock with its lock house. The lock is centuries old and was renovated in 1994. The bottom one shows one of the roads leading into a flat landscape stretching for about 3 kms onto the River Eem. This land is entirely manmade.

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