I hear that a group of elves work on these while he is fast asleep.
But seriously, he continues to amaze. They are rigorous, absurd, pointed, inviting, terrifying, and the emotional and content address has only become richer with each new body of work. The way these deal with an ontology of paint/painting is very exciting.
Is it apparent that I approve, or am I playing it too close to the vest?
I like the ‘ritalin’ comment. Because Caleb’s paintings have this ex-urban, teen angsty misdirected agression that, in respect to norms of contemporary art, is gauche like Sarah Palin talking to Charlie Gibson is gauche. Not the right set of manners for this place, thank you. When Caleb’s painting got posted on PainterNYC, one of the hip kids over there commented it’s not easy to be a Juxtapoz painter in an Artforum world. I think that’s right on about these paintings. How sly and knowing this is on Caleb’s part is kind of questionable. Are these paintings about, or actually paintings of, this milieu? The fact that it doesn’t seem to matter is what’s admirable.
A question: who here looks at Juxtapoz? Would you be offended to be called a Juxtapoz painter? Anybody have an actual considered relationship to that end of contemporary art?
S. Clay Wilson is one of my dad’s best buddies. I grew up in and around the underground comix scene, including early exposure to Crumb, Robert Williams, etc. so I suppose that qualifies me.
I have been under the impression that the Juxtapoz cache is as good as any other, as far as the omnivorous marketplace is concerned. However, I don’t think this guy is really Juxtapoz material, unless you’re comparing him to Uta Barth or something. In a weird way, he’s too academic. Those drips just beg to be taken seriously.
I like this stuff, but not as much as I want to. Somehow it manages to be too much and too little at the same time.
Is it REALLY an Art Forum world? I am not asking rhetorically. When you say “world” do you mean WORLD-World or Art-World? It makes a pretty big difference.
I almost never look at Juxtapoz, the internet fills that niche nicely.
More than anything, Juxtapoz an interesting phenomenon. My first grad. critique someone (a prof.) said something to the effect of “It’s like something out of Juxtapoz magazine….ummm and it’s uhhh….fine if that’s the kind of artist you want to be…..” and then all the professors sort of smirked. Heheheh. Since then I’ve heard “Juxtapoz” used and referenced as a pejorative term many many times….usually followed by muffled snickering. I tend to align with that eye-rolling attitude towards Juxtapoz, but I also feel slightly guilty for having the impulse to patently dismiss the whole thing. It doesn’t really seem fair to use Juxtapoz as a constant punching bag.
I’ve never been an avid reader of Juxtapoz, but I don’t discourage people from it. It seems wrong-headed and snooty to shame students away from it, especially when some interesting ‘Artforum world’ art seems to ride on the border with the ‘Juxtapoz world’.
I tend to see a lot of Juxtapoz-ish art as a kind of American post-modern folk art. Skill is skill (not ‘skill’), meaning is not elusive, multifaceted, or negated. The often-used descriptor is ‘pop-surrealism’ (a combination of two movements with established parameters).
I also see it as part of the de-serious-ing (or, rather, take-myself-too-seriously-ing) of American art. We’re more than a few steps from the first wave or two of 20th century American art titans, and I think it gets harder and harder for young people to see any reason to aspire to that grand old condition. Illustrative point: the die-hard Juxtapoz fan in my painting class fell asleep during Painters Painting.
One picture in twenty in Juxtapoz is worth looking at, but that doesn’t really describe a distinction with ArtForum or Modern Painters, does it? You see amazing stuff there, though few and far between.
The dissatisfaction I find with Juxtapoz I identify as a confusion of style and form. The orthodoxy there reinforces a quickly-read shorthand grotesque, fake transgression, some kind of psycho-sexual acting out with a happy face (hard keeping up with Aoshimas, you know). Artists who can only access this kind of stylistic path remind me of those who like only one kind of music, or who reject “old” films out of hand. This is social tribalism, not conviction about art.
We are all likely guilty of this mindset to some extent, I suppose. Fortunately, MY tribalism leads me to identify with greatness, complexity, open inquiry, and infallible judgment.
Caleb’s psychological and pictorial extremity I would locate in an orbit much more with, for example, Otto Dix.
choberka hits the sentiments i have about juxtapoz exactly and says it better than i could. i don’t shame my students away from juxtapoz/pop-surrealism/let’s make some vinyl figurines/bloody clowns (etc, etc, etc et al) type stuff, but i do always present those things in tandem with a more fully articulated version of the possibilities for art. my issue with many students who love the juxtapoz thing is that they are obsessed with “gosh dang it’s cool” work (explosions, babes, epic musics, blood, freaks) – product oriented, style oriented, not grounded in any conceptual underpinning.
someone in that corner of the art world who’s always been interesting to me is mark ryden. i’ve always felt a conceptual will and a projection of reasoning behind the forms his works take on. and someone who’s sort of like caleb – on the edge of that arena while still maintaining strong connections to a wider art tradition – is barnaby whitfield (http://barnabywhitfield.com/pages/main.html)
You mean Rush, don’t you? The band everyone loves to hate.
I don’t want to bow out of this conversation leaving the impression that I like Juxtapoz. I don’t.
However, I do question the idea of a vast, comfortable gulf between the intelligentsia and the picture making rabble. Any clear separation is another relic of the 20th century. The Artforum world is more about product that many of us would like to believe.
If you need a concrete example, the Norwegian born art historian who was hired at a midwestern university just as I was leaving town did her thesis work on Thomas Kinkade. She teaches a very popular class on kitsch. Yes, there is an ironic aspect to it, but there is also an unspoken consensus that it’s a serious topic, probably anchored by all sorts of fever pitched rhetoric concerning the spectacle of the marketplace, or….
Maybe we should start talking about the art world in terms of parallel universes?
i dig the idea of dealing with the art world in terms of parallel universes, but i also like dealing with it in terms of a vast single universe where there are different levels of integration among the various constituents. i don’t think the divides are inherent – they’re constructed, inherited, enforced.
that’s not to say everything is even – it’s a continuum. regardless of the form i think that investigation, nuanced application, conceptual articulation, and transhistorical understanding just make better work.
There’s no question that the ArtForum world is “about product” to a significant degree as well. I don’t see that as a meaningful distinction with a “Juxtapoz world”. If anything, the money changing hands at a commercial and institutional level within the ArtForum ecosystem doubtless dwarfs any comparable market associated with Juxtapoz.
What holds a cultural outlet like Juxtapoz back is a very anemic notion of outrage and risk-taking. Let’s face it: Richard Tuttle is much more extreme when he finds a way to let mundane material components disappear into newfound structure, than are any ten painters of vacant-stare, affectless, homicidal girl-women (the pictorial equivalent of, say, “Sin City”).
Weintraub is audacious, and his work can be related to the aforementioned Jux-world in only the most superficial terms. He may disagree on that, and see a different relationship, of course.
I see the cartoon glare of Weintraub’s work as a redundant component, like screaming at an infant in order to educate it. To tone that shrieking pitch down a bit would be a truly audacious move. Your evocation of Tuttle seems apropos.
As for the rest, I agree. Matt, I like your way of looking at it (different levels of integration). It allows for more optimism.
My take on Caleb’s paintings has changed some since I’ve changed schools. Where my students at University of Missouri were a pretty even split between urban and rural, my students now come almost entirely from the further suburbs. And there is a different kind of overstatement that is accepted as the norm. And it affects the music, fashion, the art they gravitate towards. It’s a strength of Caleb’s work that he can tap into that overstated aesthetic without condescending or de-legitimizing.
-I agree with Carla that Juxtapoz was better early on, and capable of risk that is just not there anymore. I remember single issues with articles on Joe Coleman, Vaugh Bode, Mike Kelley and Big Daddy Roth. There was something anarchic and genre-defying about it early on that’s just not there.
-I agree with whoever commented that the commitment to skill and to more pronounced aesthetic experience is the real value of Juxtapoz. Besides Matthew Barney there aren’t a lot of high-art types comfortable with the level of unmediated melodrama.
-And, really, all is not lost: Beautiful/Decay actually fills a nice niche in between Art Forum and Juxtapoz.
One thing has been making me curious: Matthew C’s likening Weintraub to Dix. I guess with Otto Dix, I feel this look-into-the-abyss-of-humankind’s-soul, nearly misanthropic worldview. I’m really wondering if Matthew C or anyone else is really reading Weintraub’s work as being so dark?
I thought I might make a comparison to Jack Levine. Something about the social satire mixed with a strong feeling for making work that exists so definitely in a contemporaneous design context. But quotes like: “As far as I’m concerned, I want to remain the mean little man I always was. ” Make me think that even Levine is a little darker than I take Weintraub’s paintings to be.