Archives for posts with tag: genius and everything

“Let’s talk of a system that transforms all the social organisms into a work of art, in which the entire process of work is included… something in which the principle of production and consumption takes on a form of quality. It’s a Gigantic project.” – Joseph Beuys

“Is Ai Wei Wei a political artist or an artful politician?” wondered Peter Schjeldahl in the pages of The New Yorker – he released an extremely silly video of himself mugging and dancing to the Korean pop juggernaut “Gangnam Style.” It’s not exactly the comportment one expects of the world’s foremost political artist and dissident.

I was reminded today of a time past, a Facebook post of a photograph taken in 1969 of The Beatles, it started me thinking about that era of English culture. I had always wanted to be an artist, well not sure I knew exactly what an artist was at 4 or 5 but certainly had decided that apart from being centre foward for England as a day job, my full time job would be to make pictures all my life.

We lived on the side of a mountain, my parents were early hippies, although the term had not yet been defined. My father worked in the forest and we kept a menagerie of animals and grew our own food (which included said animals). I used to sit at the edge of the forest and day dream for hours, captivated by the red and white mushrooms that grew around  (then I had little idea of their true potential). Fast forward a few years and I am living in the market town of Stafford, boring and mundane a place as one could ever live. I was always thirsty for learning but never quite found what to do with it.

It was Sgt Peppers that changed all that, suddenly I realised there was a word, a pursuit that transcended everything, changed everything, made everything make sense. The word was “creativity’, to be creative, to create, a symbiosis of rational thought and the imagination, making ideas real. Creativity was transforming everyone, it was shared. Creativity became something that everyone was part of, and that was ‘Sgt Peppers’. Here was a vehicle of cultural change that everyone was talking about, so different but people got it, not the reactionary denial so often following change but an embracing, at least with my peers. So for the benefit of Mr Kite I want to share some Peppers.

Lottie wheres Wally?

I remember being on a coach to Plymouth for some school outing, a charabanc to exotic places! It was must have been an upmarket coach because it had a radio and during the journey ‘Penny Lane’ and then Strawberry Fields’ were played. You have no idea (as Lottie would say) how profound and world changing that moment was. If one can say a moment changed your life I can truly say this did. I could imagine these places as if they were mine and yet all the kids on the bus were also part of this imagined world. The discussion last the whole journey, never had I seen this company so energised by something creative, they usually wanted to pull legs off things.

There was a guy across the street from me used to  carry a copy of ‘Peppers’ wherever he went, this became something of a fad at our school and showed you were where it was at man. My neighbour Steve Clewlow became a close friend over the following year and we used to sit and discuss this album for hours. It opened up doors of perception that never closed, art, music, philosophy you name it it was all encapsulated in that glossy cover by Peter Blake (I went on to be taught by him at the Royal College of Art), the hidden messages in the vinyl, the Eastern thoughts of George, the political and society challenging John, we thought Paul a hanger on and Ringo there for god knows what reason. Paul of course was a driving force but hey we were radicals, fanatics for this cultural shift. If you want to hear the creative process in action watch these video clips from the 1992 South Bank show on You Tube.

Pete Nevin 1969

The late paintings of De Kooning have always fascinated me. Here a man with alzheimer’s who has painted all his life continues to paint when he is detached and unaware of the outside world around him and yet still paints with consistently and with coherence! I went to a big exhibition of his at Pompidou Paris what a rush, I was just out of college and all my conceits about modernism and the abstract painters were called to question briefly. I saw the late paintings much later but respect to the geezer, after Alzheimer’s was diagnosed in his late eighties in the following years he painted more than 300 abstract paintings!

De Kooning was declared unfit to handle his affairs 22 years ago, shortly after the death of his wife, Elaine. From that time, information ceased to be available about artworks in his possession, including those still being worked on. His oeuvre was controlled primarily by Lisa de Kooning, his only child and heir; attorney John Eastman, the son of de Kooning’s longtime attorney Lee Eastman; and John Silberman, an attorney who represented Lisa and Eastman in their court application to be appointed as de Kooning’s conservators and later represented his estate. Lisa, Eastman, and Silberman largely determined how the artist’s works were cared for, exhibited, and sold during the last eight years of his life and after his death at the age of 92. 

When the estate was closed, in 2003, the foundation received 1,344 works, valued at $53.7 million. Lisa received works of an unspecified quantity and value and began collaborating with Gagosian to exhibit and sell them. “A lot of the good things are picked over,” says a source familiar with Lisa’s collection, which primarily contains paintings from the ’60s through the late ’80s. “The de Kooning estate is really just a name. There is volume but not necessarily quality.”

The foundation’s collection—which contains works of all periods, predominantly works on paper and a collection of paintings from the 1960s onward, including a significant number of 1980s paintings—is thought to be considerably more valuable than its initial valuation. This collection has never been represented by a dealer.

According to its IRS filings, three years ago the foundation sold a 1987 painting for $3.4 million (reported inventory value: $199,750); around the same time, it sold a 1984 painting for $3.9 million (reported inventory value: $246,750). Silberman won’t disclose who bought the works but says that the foundation does not sell to dealers or at auction.
Since its establishment in 2001, the foundation has sold 18 works for a total of $13 million. Silberman says that works are sold to pay for the administration of the foundation—whose stated purpose is to catalogue and maintain its own collection and archive and facilitate museum exhibitions and scholarly research about de Kooning. (Or, as Eastman describes its mission: “De Kooning is the greatest American artist ever. Prove it.”)

You can draw your own conclusions about their actions in the matter, but whatever the truth of his last years watching a video of this frail and vulnerable old man going instinctively about his painting struck a cord.

Untitled XII

Willem de Kooning
Date: 1983
Medium: Paintings
Size: unframed 80 x 70 x inches
Institution: Walker Art Center

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” –Carl Gustav Jung

Last night in the Toscana restaurant in Kemang, Jakarta over a glass of wine or two my wife asked me to write about my life and my work. I have never thought it (my life) that interesting or that my views differ from a great many others, so the need to write about my life does not resonate or sit too well with me.

I continued thinking about our conversation and thought that my work does present an aspect of what my life is about, but it is never autobiography. After all the Irish have a saying ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story’.  Did Beuys get rescued by Tartars? So I have been reflecting on the purpose of an autobiography. A personal truth?

What did strike me was that talking about the creative process is a different thing, that although autobiographical it has a critical gap that edits outside the author.

This video, an interview conducted by Tim Marlow (great suits Tim!) with Anselm Kiefer, this is what an artists interview should be: not about them but about the discipline of creation.

So for my beautiful caring wife I shall make an attempt to write. In the meantime enjoy this interview it is great.

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