Exhibition: Brendan Monroe at COOPER COLE

American artist Brendan Monroe will be making his Canadian debut with an ambitious exhibition that consists of 50 paintings and sculptures.  Monroe cultivates a taste for scientific challenges, relationships to math, the properties of physics, and the surreal.  His dream-like scenes overflow with cellular shapes, creating a landscape set on a universal level.  Möbius strips and algorithms integrate with human figures to create an environment that allows the mind to explore a journey of solitude.  Monroe’s atmospheric imagery achieces a pause in both time and space; a monent that can be read as either the creation of new being or as the passing in to a serene immortality.
Brendan Monroe was born and rasied in Southern California and received a BFA honours from the Art Center College of Design.  He has exhibited his art internationally at galleries such as Richard Heller in Los Angeles and Galerie LJ in Paris.  His work has been featured in publications such as The New York Times and New American Paintings.  Monroe currently lives and works in Oakland, California.

Observations of Light & Matter runs from March 3 – March 25, 2012. For more information about the opening on Friday night, check out the Facebook page for the event.

Video: Luminous Field in Chicago’s Millennium Park

This February, Millennium Park is transformed into a digital canvas of light and geometrical form with its first-ever site-specific video and sound installation by the Chicago-based artistic ensemble Luftwerk. Created specifically for Millennium Park, the installation will illuminate Cloud Gate – known by many Chicagoans as “The Bean” – and its surrounding AT&T; Plaza with dramatic images and colors set to music composed by Owen Clayton Condon, of the local avant-garde classical ensemble, Third Coast Percussion.

Luftwerk is the collaborative vision of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero. By merging video and light with material, surface, and structure, they shape content into an immersive sculptural experience. Their work illuminates the realm of special events, stage, gallery and public venue. Both artists are graduates of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and have worked together for over ten years, forming Luftwerk in 2007.

Luminous Field will be on view on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 – 10 PM, and Sunday – Thursday evenings from 6 – 9 PM.

Case Study: Nanoparticle Party Pavilion for MoMA PS1′s Warm Up 2012

Those raucous MoMA PS1′s summer Warm Up sessions are always a mess in the best way, but this year’s edition is on a mission to do more than entertain. This morning MoMA announced the winning design in its Young Architects Program, destined to stand temporarily in the PS1 courtyard and provide museum-goers with shade, seating, and sweet hydration during those sweltering parties. It’s a doozy, a mass of fabric spikes christened “Wendy” and designed to do more than provide a backdrop for dancing — it also cleans the air. Over the course of the summer (starting it June), the pop-up work of green engineering will have made the same impact as having taken 260 cars off the road.Designed by New York architects HWKN, Wendy is a 70-foot-tall mass of environmentally-friendly fabric stretched by a framework of scaffolding that will spill over the different sections of the outdoor space. More so than any of the other 12 temporary structures PS1 has erected in the past, it serves as a kind of architectural Swiss Army Knife: it’s part pool, part hydrant, part soundsystem, part sculpture, and — yes — part air purifier. This morning, ARTINFO asked the architects behind HWKN, Matthias Hollwich and Mark Kushner, exactly how it’s all supposed to work.

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Case Study: Ministry Member Takes Saltz To Task Over Hirst Review

After a few hurried but critical reads, I find myself dissatisfied with Jerry Saltz’s recent review of “Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings, 1986-2011”. First published in New York Magazine, the review delivers a truncated history of Hirst’s rise to fame and makes some fast and loose comparisons between the artist and other notable creators before dissolving in a vague denouement that offers little conclusion.  Much like institutional critique, I believe there is a time and place for art critical critique.

It happens to be here and now.  It is a glaring error that Saltz either overlooked or decided not to mention Charles Saatchi‘s hand in not only bank-rolling the YBA, but also catapulting Hirst to the top of the group in general. Is Pollock’s work ever discussed without even a gesture towards Clement Greenberg? Not bloody likely. Frankly, there is enough mystique surrounding Saatchi (a secretive and publicly absent man) that Saltz could have guaranteed himself at least 50 more readers for having dropped his name. In November 2009, BBC Two ran a four episode reality television show called “School of Saatchi“, which had students of the Slade competing against each other through a number of art challenges. Living in London at the time and spending most days at the Slade with my roommate, I certainly heard Saatchi’s name more often than Hirst’s.

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Exhibition: Andreas Gursky at Louisiana MOMA, Denmark

With their visual mastery, the works of the German photographer Andreas Gursky insist on the vast, fascinating power of the image and stand as a modern proposal for what beauty may be. Andreas Gursky’s photographs are the answer of art to ‘extreme sports’. His works grow out of hours of effort interweaving hundreds of pictures taken with the most sophisticated equipment, often from extreme positions, into one image.

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Case Study: Jerry Saltz on Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst is the Elvis of the English art world, its ayatollah, deliverer and big-thinking entrepreneurial potty-mouthed prophet and front man. Hirst synthesizes punk, Pop Art, Jeff Koons, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Bacon and Catholicism. He’s the ­working-class hero who as a 23-year-old art student at the University of London’s Goldsmiths college organized “Freeze,” an exhibition of his artwork and that of 15 school chums.

That show, and his own work featuring living flies and maggots, dead butterflies and cut-up dead animals, de-islandized England, alerting the world that Britain was no longer a second-tier art nation. While Hirst did not act alone, it is almost impossible to imagine the Tate Modern or the “yBa” (young British artists) phenomenon of the ’90s without his ambitions and aggression. Or his easy outrages: public drinking and drugging, saying things like “Women smell of kippers,” meeting a curator naked or tucking a chicken bone into his foreskin at a bar. Continue reading

Case Study: How Did Miami Become a Cultural Hub?

// In this insightful essay from The Genteel, Ministry of Artistic Affairs member Karina Abramova explores the particular recent history that has brought Miami to the forefront of visual culture in North America. //

Miami has served many roles over the years: the glamorous rendition of the city’s criminal underbelly in Miami Vice, the bloody arena of the cocaine wars, the party-hard capitol of America. But within the past decade, a new role emerged: that of a dynamic international art hub. Over the past decade, Miami’s culture has been developing exponentially thanks to the proactive efforts of prominent Miamians, the city’s favourable geographic location, the arrival of the weightiest art fair in the world, the tropical weather and the unmistakable duo of chic and cheesy.  Continue reading

Case Study: Being An Artist in the 21st Century

In a run-down bungalow in Los Angeles in 1969, an obscure alcoholic writer sat in a kitchen full of old newspapers and tins of bacon grease, working out his daily living expenses with a pen he borrowed from the manager of a Californian office supply company.

Rent, booze, child support, food, cigarettes — about $100 a month, the writer figured.“OK” said the manager of the office supply company, “if I promise you $100 a month, for life, will you quit your job and focus on writing?”

John Martin paid Charles Bukowski $100 a month, initially out of his own salary at the office supply store, in order to give the writer time to work on the waist-high stack of papers in his closet. It was the foundation of Black Sparrow Press, and the start of Charles Bukowski’s career as a full-time writer.

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Case Study: The Medium is the Money

In the wake of Hennessey Youngman’s hilarious and pointed YouTube critique of Damien Hirst (linked below) in which Hirst gets skewered for: a) perpretrating “a perfect storm of banality”, b) oozing an unprecedented level of “Iroc-Z Axe Body Spray douchery” and c) yes, using money as his medium, it seems an opportune moment to take a look at some other recent money-based projects as an interesting counterpoint to the art of excess.Just yesterday, Hyperallergic profiled Occupy George, an online initiative in which infographics visualizing aspects of the economic disparity in the US have been made available for anyone to download and print onto dollar bills. The stated intent? To circulate the stamped money as much as possible, passing knowledge to all who come across the bills. Continue reading

Case Study: Why We Collect

A vast array of analytical essays exists in the blogosphere that seeks to explain why we collect art. Like trying to understand why we fall in love, the gamut of explanations is at once highly diverse yet difficult to nail down. The need for decorative embellishment, the expected investment value, the putting on of sophisticated airs, the desire for direct participation in culture… These certainly affect acquisition decisions and add fuel to the art market fire but they do not explain the emotional, cerebral pleasure collectors receive from their art trophies. Ask anyone who truly values the pieces they have acquired and they will describe a deep love and connection with these objects quite unlike any relationship with other inanimate things they own. What is the source of this bond?

A decade or so ago, I gradually came to the realization that, much to my disappointment and stunned shock, I was not the artistic talent I had previously believed myself to be. Though I had the temperament, passion and desire, it turned out I had none of the vision, dedication, originality nor persistence prerequisite for a life as an artist. The realization shattered my heretofore self-identity — one I had worn like a wetsuit since my earliest teen years — and set me off on various tangents that eventually led to my current satisfactory, pleasant and lucrative life, happy yet lacking the gushing creative outlet I had once dreamed possible and naively believed to be inevitable.

As a teen, I was surrounded by highly talented kids; guitarists, artists, singers, dancers, basketball players, ski racers, championship horseback riders. A couple decades on, nearly all of these people have matured into their current slots in societal production; land developers, accountants, lawyers, doctors, moms, teachers, shrinks and saleswomen. Early expectations and ambitious desires became the standard casualties of economic demands, family pressures, and general reality. In contemporary culture, there is likely no more common story. It is one of the most pathetic if benign truths so many of us share; adolescent ideals making way for adult needs and responsibilities. How many boxes of relics of early creativity collect dust in how many garages, filled with promise but lacking follow through and commitment?

Some of our acquaintances from earlier lives escaped the numbing, grinding coil and, against all odds, managed to stay true to their earlier creative paths and found gainful employment as creative producers. Most of these people are still required to tailor their output to a market economy and toil on the commercial side of creative endeavor. In a very few cases, however, these individuals have achieved startling successes in the fine arts. Those of us caught in the grid, whose burning diamonds turned out to be chunks of coal, watch from afar, trapped in the wide ranks of normalcy, as the few real artists in our social universes blaze disjunctive paths at Escher-like angles to our own well-tread horizons. I’ve watched with covetous amazement as a lucky few artists from my own local community (young rising stars like Kristine Moran, Jason Gringler, Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman) have resisted the gravitational forces of logical economic reality and thrust through the otherwise impossible barriers to the professional art ranks to achieve successful orbit in the international market.

Though inflected with sweet jealousy and watery spite, our encouragement and support for talent and artistry generally squirts forth in the form of ticket purchases, hashtagged Tweets, gossipy interest, and other forms of disconnected admiration from afar. But collecting contemporary artworks is one of the important ways in which the rest of us can participate directly in these beautiful lives. It is immediate and personal. While buying a ticket to a film or performance offers only the most detached and fleeting participation with the creative object of admiration, acquiring art offers a material, lengthy and visceral relationship. Rather than providing an ephemeral opportunity to play an insignificant part in a mass audience, collecting art offers ownership and the right to hang a pound of the artists’ flesh in our homes. These objects are not mechanically-reproduced simulacra like DVDs or MP3s but actual bits of matter that were touched and enlivened by the artists, forged in their very presence, slaved over, injected with their spirit and sweat and breath. Existing as avatars, artworks promise material possession of a slice of the artistic life we once planned and expected for ourselves. Relics from the admired artists’ studios, these objects are substantial vestiges from our own lives-that-might-have-been had different decisions been made along the way.

This is something that the art-collecting “1%” have long understood. Who are most of these 1% if not peers from the successful lines of our own humdrum ranks who have achieved commercial success often through the sacrifice of their own artistic sensibilities? Were many of the hedge fund traders, investment bankers, dotcom founders, management consultants, doctors and lawyers not once creative kids whose future dreams of artistic identity gave way to earthbound realities and materialistic concerns? I’ve been to their homes; I’ve seen the dusty drum kits, obsolete camera collections, and long-forgotten portfolios hiding in plain view their basements. Their collections of paintings by Matt Bahen or drawings by Nicholas Di Genova are loving requiems for their own cast-aside yet remembered lost ideals. They are the consolation prizes, the bitter-sweet trophies for having made the rational choices, the reminders of a more glorious life that was expected but not realized.

By The Ministry of Artistic Affairs co-founder/co-director Randy Gladman, originally published on HowToSpendIt.com, January 12, 2012.

Case Study: Art Market Vs. Equities

The art market defied the economic gloom to return 11 per cent to investors in 2011, outpacing stock market returns for a second consecutive year. The performance of the Mei Moses All Art index, a leading barometer of art returns based mainly on paintings sold in New York and London, beat the total return of the S&P; 500 index of US equities by about 9 percentage points. The gap, the largest since 2008, was driven by strong growth in Chinese demand and high prices for the work of popular artists such as Andy Warhol. Continue reading

Case Study: Dark Side of the Poster

Atlanta based graphic designer, Stewart Scott-Curran, took on the task of graphically representing one of Pink Floyd’s best albums, The Dark Side of the Moon, track by track, with each poster representing a different song off the album.

As a long time fan of Pink Floyd’s lyrical magic, it is really awesome to see how well Stewart nailed the narrative and emotion these songs carry.