One thing in the Art:21 interview that really struck me was how decisive S.R. was when it came to ending a series of paintings. If I remember correctly she mentioned how her horses went on and on (in a good way) but how now she finds her self exploring something in X amount of paintings.
She really seemed to know when a series was done, and when an idea had more to offer. I really admire her for that.
That is an interesting point. I guess I kind of glossed over the social or communicative aspects of working in a series.
A lot of times when I think of series I think in terms of how many paintings need to be done for the artist to satisfactorily explore an idea. The flip side would be how many paintings need to be done to satisfactorily convey an idea to the viewer.
I would imagine being out in the woods could have a significant impact on how much you feel you need to say.
Seriously, though, one attractive thing about Rothenberg to me is that her work kind of negates my tendency to think about art in terms of like it/don’t like it. The paintings mosty just make me feel deeply uncomfortable, slightly agitated and occassionally following along with the whimsy almost completely. I guess that I’m saying there’s a certain artlessness to the work, and saying that artlessness can be a good thing. All the liking/not liking and analyzing is an impediment to direct physical/mental response to the work.
When I see Rothenburg’s work, I am unfortunately blinded by her Art 21 interview. That interview was kind of a train-wreck for me. It seemed as though she had dropped the seriously inquiry that was present in her previous work. I can’t help but see her newer work through that lens.
I admit I haven’t seen the Art 21 segment on Rothenberg. Not feeling encouraged to look for it on youtube. I guess I’ve always felt that there is a certain amount of homebound, insular, other-than-serious inquiry that is a given with Rothenberg’s work. I think I’d be surprised if an interview would mess that up. I want some more info on this. What’s the deal there?
The other interesting thing about that interview is that, of the 16 or so artists sought out for that season, she’s the only full-time oil painter (The closest after that are Matthew “structure-esque” Ritchie and Laylah “my gouache karate is light years beyond your gouache karate” Ali), and her interview basically makes painting look distant, borderline-pointless, and LONELY.
I might have missed someone in there (I guess Richard Tuttle paints, too), but I think that’s pretty much it for painting in season 3.
To speak to Sloane’s comment, yeah, she’s not the best artist to ever talk about her own work. But she’s not elusive or smug about it, or her background for that matter, which I find to be a relief.
She’s not the best artist to ever talk about her work, certainly, but I sort of expected more from Art 21. I always feel it’s such a treat to get to hear artists talk about their work and so, in my idealism, I’m always bitter and disappointed when their words don’t make me a fan of their work. Their words should make my head explode….is that too much to ask? Rothenburg’s interview basically made me indifferent to her work…..because it seems like she lost sight or interest in the larger dialogue that was present in past work. I realize that this may have been part of the point of rural living, but plenty of other people have lived in rural New Mexico [bruce nauman, georgia o'keefe, ed ruscha, judy chicago], without losing sight of the rest of the world (maybe just artworld) out there.
I should be ashamed to admit this but…I’ve never quite given up on the myth of the artist-savant, or the cult of ‘why paint it if you can say it’ or a slightly skeptical belief in the ineffable. Which explains why in a way, nothing she can say affects how I think of Rothenberg’s paintings. My memories of how I’ve responded to Mondrian Dancing at the St. Louis Art Museum are always stronger.
I’ve never seen the ART 21 thing but I do remember a Modern Painters interview where Rothenberg came off a bit wayward, a bit stoned.
As far as isolated artists go, there are other folks, Jake Berthot for instance, who I think made much better work when they moved away from NY and opted out of then-current dialogues. I put Rothenberg in that camp.
Also, I hugely disagree that Nauman has stayed engaged in any larger dialogue. What was that shit about videotaping the mouse out in his studio? Digging fenceposts as contemporary art? I can’t think of anything worthwhile that guy has done in forever.
but isn’t that really the thing, chris? many of these artists “make it big” (whatever that means) and since it’s a forgone conclusion that whatever they do is important and good and a part of the canon, they sort of opt out of some element of the justification discourse.
you feel that way about nauman, i sort of feel that way about rothenberg and richard prince, among others. with prince i just can’t decide if i think where he is now is freaking awesome or just kind of holding onto a status quo. am i responding to the critical accretion around the artist or actually responding to the work? i feel this all the time. a few months ago when i reviewed the david hockney work on this site, i was super surprised to be impressed with the work at all. i had a little conceit that my conception of hockney was based on a certain received body of knowledge and that i was defaulting to a level of acceptance that i doubted i’d ever feel.
not sure where i’m going with this, but i do feel like the rothenberg art21 bit was emblematic of a kind of complaisance that some secure, “approved” artists settle into.
am i really off? isn’t this what we’re talking about here?
Contrasting Rothenberg with Ruscha and Prince—those guys I really fault for being all about insular artworld dialogue. I think it’s fair to accuse either of simply restating ideas that Jasper Johns and Warhol had already worked out, doing so in forms that wouldn’t have been a stretch for either of those two. I’ve never responded to either of those two guys’ work. It feels like the dialogue is with an art history textbook, not really with Warhol’s work and not really with any ideas in the culture outside of those Warhol and Johns had already worked with.
Rothenberg, though she came into prominence around the same time, is up to something different in my mind. The dialogue in her work has always been with something more domestic, more daydream-y and more universal. She’s put these ideas into a format that’s decidedly contemporary. The ideas, the dialogue though has always been with something else.
I just looked over the first pages on the link again, and to me, it still looks like she is still struggling, ‘what is an art moment? what is an art thought?’ and to challenge the edges of what that might be. these just don’t look complacent to me.
Lastly, I don’t want to discount what Matt or Sloane are saying about complacency, especially ‘mongst established artists (or really any of us…who’s got a spare tire, or muffintops? who sits and home and watches movies on Saturday night? goes to bed after the news?). It happens.