Selected Courses on Digital Art-UOWM

3 Απριλίου 2009

Dan Graham

Filed under: UNCLASSIFIED,ΚΑΛΛΙΤΕΧΝΕΣ-ARTISTS — Ετικέτες: — admin @ 08:00
Dan Graham (1942, Urbana, Illinois) is a conceptual artist now working out of New York City. He is an influential figure in the field of contemporary art, both a practitioner of conceptual art and an art critic and theorist. His art career began in 1964 when he moved to New York and opened the John Daniels Gallery. Graham’s artistic talents have wide variety. His artistic fields consist of film, video, performance, photography, architectural models, and glass and mirror structure. Graham especially focuses on the relationship between his artwork and the viewer in his pieces. Graham made a name for himself in the 1980’s as an architect of conceptual glass and mirrored pavilions.
He is among the most influential of the Conceptual artists who emerged in America during the mid-1960s. A pioneer in performance and video art in the 1970s, Graham later turned his attention to architectural projects designed for social interaction in public spaces, among them The Children’s Pavilion (1989), conceived with Jeff Wall. Since the 1990s Graham has received major public commissions throughout North America and Europe. His writings range from early Conceptual Art pieces inserted in mass-market magazines to texts about his fellow artists.

Dan Graham’s glass-and-metal pavilions–minimalistic structures that deal with perceptual paradox–were the highlights of several recent shows that surveyed the artist’s work.

One of the intriguing and frustrating aspects of Dan Graham’s work is its sheer variety. Over the past 25 years Graham has carried out performances, installations, video works, photographs and, most recently, architectural-scale glass pavilions; in addition, he has published a substantial body of critical and speculative writing. By attempting to explore Graham’s work in all its complexity, the recent retrospective organized by the Nouveau Musee in Lyons went much further than previous shows (or, for that matter, the traveling exhibition “Dan Graham: Public/Private,” soon to be on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario). In part, this was because the sparsely installed Nouveau Musee exhibition encouraged visitors to discover and trace the connecting threads that run throughout Graham’s production.

The survey included about 24 works, ranging from Graham’s Conceptual pieces of the mid-’60s to his recent and proposed glass pavilions. While the show focused primarily on these structures–presented via photographs, models and various full-scale constructions–it sought at the same time to avoid the sorts of misunderstandings that arise when Graham’s works are considered as examples of “architecture” or “sculpture.” Graham quite deliberately blurs such boundaries in conceiving, executing and exhibiting his work. For example, in discussing the architectural models which formed the nucleus of the Nouveau Musee show, Graham said:

My purpose is to use these models as tools of propaganda to generate commissions for similar works, possibly including some (more pragmatic) alterations that adapt the project according to a specific site. I also use such models because of their ambiguity, since it is difficult to clearly define them as “artistic” or architectural works.

This kind of intentional ambivalence about the nature of specific works is characteristic of Graham’s method. The point was underscored in Lyons by presenting some of his models alongside finished, full-scale pavilions. Sometimes these models are “projects” which Graham never really expects to have built, as with Alteration to a Suburban House (1978), which was conceived from the start as a theoretical demonstration. But at other times, particularly with the glass pavilions, the models serve as an intermediary design stage. In order to understand how Graham’s work has developed and changed, the visitor must be able to recognize the crucial distinction between the “final” models of the early 1970s and the “provisional” models for pavilions of the ’80s.

For instance, there were three small-scale models of his recent Gift Shop/Coffee Shop (1989) in the show, each representing a different version of the project, as well as a completed pavilion. By siting the full-scale work within the museum’s neutral, indoor exhibition space, Graham and the curators forced visitors to puzzle over how to approach it: as a sculpture within an exhibition or, in the artist’s words, “as something real and permanent–in short an architectural Work.”

Graham’s earliest work grew out of the New York art milieu of the mid-1960s. In 1964 he and a friend opened a Manhattan gallery dedicated to avant-garde art. The gallery lasted only a year, but it brought Graham in contact with figures like Robert Smithson, Jo Baer, Dan Flavin and Donald Judd. Not long after, Graham began to formulate his own art projects, which reflected concerns shared by his Minimalist and Conceptualist peers: the notion of the art work as a “structure of information” rather than a physical object, the nature of the spectator’s perceptual experience within the gallery space, and the effect (both aesthetic and economic) of the reproduction of art works in magazines.

For example, Graham investigated the effects of art’s “technical reproduction” by making Conceptual pieces meant to exist solely as texts appearing in the advertising or editorial sections of various magazines. Works such as Schema, Figurative and Homes for America (all 1966) were published in both avant-garde journals and general circulation magazines, ranging from Art and Language to Arts Magazine to Harper’s Bazaar. Schema, which resembles a Minimalist poem, is simply a list of the technical specifics of its own presentation: the number of words and letters printed, the name of the paper stock and type-face used, the paper size and so on. Since the particulars change with each publication in different journals, Schema exists both as a purely conceptual “data field” and as a series of varying physical incarnations. Homes for America, a photo-and-text essay on the permutations of colors and architectural styles of suburban tract houses, was published in Arts Magazine in 1967. But the piece might also be regarded as an unpredictable mix of Conceptual art and cultural criticism, in which postwar housing developments are treated as examples of “serial logic” and minimalist form.


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