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Friday, July 07, 2006

Roberta Smith on the fear of form

From Roberta Smith's 3/31/2002 NYTimes review of the 2002 Whitney Biennial -

"...the fear of form that is rife in contemporary art today. By form I mean the transformation of materials and subjects into something beyond themselves, something new and strange or wonderful to experience, something that expands our understanding of a medium, something whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

From Roberta Smith's 7/07/2006 NYTimes review of Uncertain States of America: American Art in the 3rd Millennium at Bard College -

"I would call all these strategies fear of form, which can be parsed as fear of materials, of working with the hands in an overt way and of originality. Most of all originality...

....Fear of form above all means fear of compression— of an artistic focus that condenses experiences, ideas and feelings into something whole, committed and visually comprehensible."


RELATED: scroll down a little here to see Roberta's full 2002 review. Always interesting to go back and read these.

5 comments:

vc said...

Martin, interesting, but what do you think about form vs. its apparent lack?
I think dispersion can be a kind of form, but tha'ts pretty vague.
Formalism certainly means more than Greenberg, as Yve-Alain Bois makes clear in his discussions of Matisse and B. Newman.
I think art that is not rigorously formal lacks soul.

martin said...

vc - i am warm for form. i have the fear of theory though.

okay, it is actually very interesting that you mention dispersion. smith calls the 2002 biennial "the diffusion biennial", and tyler green has recently been talking about degeneration. cinque hicks posted an interesting follow-up to tyler's degeneration idea.

i am having trouble linking to those right now, i'll try later.

vc said...

As I recall, a lot of work in the 02 Bien was documentation of social activity, something that has become hotter since then. I am still struggling with this.
When I said dispersion I was stuck in the past, thinking about stuff like Robert Morris' steam vents. Beautiful.
I'm still upset at R. Smith's dismissal of John Zurier in the 02 review. An appreciation of form demands subtle observation and discernment, and to say about Zurier "ho hum, Ryman again" is to misunderstand both.

martin said...

link to Tyler's thing -

http://www.mnartists.org/forums/showpost.php?p=373&postcount=4

link to cinque's thing -

http://www.influxhouse.com/comments/763_0_1_0_C/

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