Ed Ruscha’s Word paintings:
As with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, his East Coast counterparts, Ed Ruscha’s artistic training was rooted in commercial art. His interest in words and typography ultimately provided the primary subject of his paintings, prints and photographs. The very first of Ruscha’s word paintings were created as oil paintings on paper in Paris in 1961. Since 1964, Ruscha has been experimenting regularly with painting and drawing words and phrases, often oddly comic and satirical sayings alluding to popular culture and life in LA. When asked where he got his inspiration for his paintings, Ruscha responded, “Well, they just occur to me; sometimes people say them and I write down and then I paint them. Sometimes I use a dictionary.” From 1966 to 1969, Ruscha painted his “liquid word” paintings: Words such as Adios (1967), Steel (1967–9) and Desire (1969) were written as if with liquid spilled, dribbled or sprayed over a flat monochromatic surface. His gunpowder and graphite drawings (made during a period of self-imposed exile from painting from 1967 to 1970) feature single words depicted in a trompe l’oeil technique, as if the words are formed from ribbons of curling paper. Experimenting with humorous sounds and rhyming word plays, Ruscha made a portfolio of seven mixed-media lithographs with the rhyming words, News, Mews, Pews, Brews, Stews, Dues, News (1970).
Everything in this photograph is utterly artificial, beginning with the painted backdrop. Its mottled forms create an impression of light, which complicates the shaft of genuine light that Groover has introduced from above on the right side of the composition. These effects enliven the somber beauty of the picture and participate in a visual balancing act that also includes the table and all the objects on and around it, which the artist has painted before arranging them. The imprudent red at the lower left adds to the impression of a voluptuous whole.
Since 1978, the still-life genre has been the focus of Groover’s photography, the arena in which she has tested her conviction that “formalism is everything.” That declaration may be understood to mean that the artist’s pictorial decisions-what color meets with what color, how shapes are seen in relationship to each other and to the space they occupy, the scale of forms within the picture-are enough to create a world of meaning. Pursuing this conviction in the closed environment of the studio, Groover has, in fact, created a seemingly infinite variety of visual experience, as rich and surprising as life outside.
(Text from MoMA)
Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present is an interesting exhibition which presents paintings of the great masters alongside photography from the 19th Century to the present. The exhibition allows and encourages the viewer to see how painting has influenced photography, and also serves as an introduction to the history of photography.
As well as paintings and photographs the exhibition also includes videos. “Still Life” by Sam Taylor-Wood, and “Big Bang” by Ori Gersht were, for me, the most memorable pieces in the exhibition.
The concept for this video is very simple yet very beautiful. The artist, Sam Taylor-Wood, has recorded a bowl of fruit slowly rotting. We observe the whole process of decomposition, from the first glimpse of fuzzy mould growing on the apples, peaches, pears, and grapes, to the end where all that remains are some small grey lumps. A fascinating video!
Israeli artist Ori Gersht froze a bouquet of flowers with liquid nitrogen and then recorded as it exploded and shattered into a thousand pieces. It’s shocking, beautiful, and mesmerising all at once. Gersht says, “I’m interested in those oppositions of attraction and repulsion, and how the moment of destruction in the exploding flowers becomes for me the moment of creation.” (Here you can see a slightly better version of “Big Bang”)
I’m also including another video I found by Ori Gersht, “Pomegranate”.
Seduced by Art is now showing in CaixaForum Barcelona and will be showing in CaixaForum Madrid from the 18th of June.