Sunday, April 14, 2019

The White Cube / and Printmakers

Published first in the 1970s still relevant today!

I am re-reading a book from the late 20th Century that still resonates today with even more power than when it was first published!  "Inside the White Cube" was written and published in the 1970s around the time that I was studying with the author, Brian O'Doherty.  His role as an art critic, and as an artist ( under the pseudonym - Patrick Ireland ) is an influential one, maybe for me as a role model, and certainly as someone who thought deeply about the situation of the artist and how to communicate the various layers of the onion.  Brian O'Doherty first came to my attention as a lone voice about modern art on TV, and he was later an editor for Art in America,  and he was also my teacher at The Cooper Union.

Brian O'Doherty

"Inside the White Cube" brings forward many unspoken assumptions we make about a so-called neutral space that is the art gallery.  From the time I was an art student there was an uneasy relationship between the artist, the gallery and the money it takes to run the show.  While I was living in New York City there was an undercurrent of exploitation and sexual identity that made itself felt in the gallery orbit, and of course for the beginner there was the difficulty of getting into that orbit in the first place.  Today, the situation has changed a bit - due in part to the internet, which has shoved the gallery world off its central perch.

If you want to trace the history of the "white cube" you will see that as art movements change, the relationship to the exhibition space has also been affected.  Artists may challenge the spaces that their art inhabits but the commodification of art is still intact and maybe even more so in this digital age.  Brian O'Doherty has now turned ninety, and there is still much more to be written by him about how and where artists show their artwork, and what can be expected of a system such as we have today.

MuCcc is located at 142 Atlantic Avenue in Rochester, NY

From theory to practice, this month the energy is directed to a show whose focus is on printmaking now on view at MuCcc in Rochester, New York.  This show features artists who have a long time association with The Print Club of Rochester.  If you have been to MuCcc you will see that their gallery space is adjacent to their theatre and really makes a nice meeting space for a conversation  on the arts.  This is what took place at the opening of the show in which my print "Enigma" greets you at the door.

The participating artists were encouraged to speak about their work, and standing in the gallery the visitor had a chance to hear from a diverse group including Claudia Mejia Willet who spoke about how she creates her work - a rather abstract piece in green and black.

Mono print by Claudia Mejia Willet

Claudia walks us through her process...

It is one thing to look at an artwork hanging on the wall, and another to hear from the artist herself. There are many facets to the production of a print, so I was surprised to learn that Caudia's print involved  burning her plate before it was carefully inked.  Many printmakers carefully create editions, meant to attract the viewer and yet many people do not know how these editions are made.  It is not as easy as typing Command P for "print"..!

Richard Harvey talks about his work...