Sunday, 22 November 2009


Baldessari, Ruscha and Kapoor are still going strong, to which one could add the racy Wild Thing at the Royal Academy and the apparently surprising incursion of the Kienholzs’ Hoerengracht at the National Gallery – albeit the red lights of Amsterdam’s brothels give their replication ‘a sensuous, almost painterly feel’ according to the catalogue. And Hirst tries again with his critically-panned paintings across both White Cubes (or does he? Is the work actually the theatre of his switch to painting, rather than the paintings themselves?). Among the less well-publicised shows, those at Ancient & Modern, the Barbican and Swallow Street may not seem like art (discuss) but whether they are or not they are powerful in contrasting ways. And the first two make a neat little triangular walk along with Rokeby…

Wayne Thiebaud @ Faggionato Fine Art, 49 Albemarle St - Central

To 18 Dec:

San Francisco’s master of painterly pop surely has a lower British profile than he should. This show may help rectify that with its good mix of still lives, signature cakes, landscapes and vertiginous cityscapes, but a large scale museum show would be welcome. Worth noting that Faggionato opens Mon-Fri only, and is fairly well-hidden on the first floor.

Tom Badley @ Rokeby, 5-9 Hatton Wall – Clerkenwell

To 18 Dec:

It’s well worth seeking out the new Rokeby space near Farringdon rail/tube for young British artist Tom Badley’s first solo show, which combines what is becoming a very distinctive way of mediating between fragmentation and coherence (video using internet sourcing + repetition + speed variation + organization by sound + smashed monitors…) with a mesmerizing sculpture which gives magnetic permanence to the spin of a coin. Not that cash would ever crash…

Mustafa Hulusi: ‘The Worshippers’ @ Max Wigram, 99 New Bond St – Central

To 19 Dec:

A triple bill from the British-born Turkish Cypriot: characteristically hyper-real paintings (outsourced from Hulusi’s photographs) heighten our consciousness of oranges; black marble replicas of Roman statues from Salamis poke at the survivals of colonialism; and he combines with Mark Titchner to make ‘The Worshippers’, an animation which combines the Ayatollah Khomeini with psychedelia and the styling of corporate capitalism. And Hulusi has more work at Civic Rooms, the East End artists’ cooperative which he helps run…

William E Jones: ‘Tearoom’ @ Swallow Street, 3-5 Swallow St – Piccadilly

To 19 Dec:

Never mind Hauser & Wirth’s main Piccadilly site – alright, I exaggerate, as ‘After Awkward Objects’ is a fine show, especially the Alina Szapocznikow – but while you’re there be sure to pop into their sponsored but independent project space just over the road. ‘Tearoom’ consists of police surveillance footage taken through a two-way mirror in a public toilet in Ohio in 1962. We see urination, washing, combing and sex, mostly half-hidden in the cubicles. This is poignant – the film was used to prosecute the men – and its flickering and grainy, refreshingly not-for-camera reality generates its own aesthetic resonance.

Stephen G Rhodes: ‘Reconstruction or Something’ @ Vilma Gold, 6 Minerva St – Cambridge Heath

To 20 Dec:

Rhodes is one of the most interesting inclusions in Saatchi’s current survey of new work from America, and this impressive sculptural installation with multi-screen video collage combines high visual impact with underlying complexity (ie best to ask for more explanation than the press release) in considering the USA’s relations with Iraq. And the simultaneous, as opposed to successive, collaging of film elements seems very much of the moment.

La peinture est presque abstraite @ Camberwell Space, 45-65 Peckham Rd - Peckham

To 23 Dec:

A very coherent group of paintings which use representational motifs to make abstraction, with four French and four British painters and curated by Claude Temin-Vergez, who though born in France counts as one of the Brits (he teaches at Camberwell). True, this is a far-flung off-tube space, but then again it’s right next to the South London Gallery and so can be combined with the videos of Omer Fast (to 6.12) or Susanne Burner (10-18.12).

Presque Rien III @ Laure Genillard, 2 Hanway Place – Tottenham Court

To 9 Jan:

What is this French title trend? The third (!) instalment of Laure’s group show of almost nothing amounts to quite something, largely through drawing you into objects which turn out to be something else: a kebab is a sculpture, books are wings, a ball of dust is a planet. Plus a chance to see David Batchelor's classic slide show of found white monochromes. Worth noting that the gallery doesn’t do mornings!

Robert Kusmirowski: Bunker @ The Curve, Barbican

To 10 Jan:

Perhaps by being a deliberately rather than accidentally awkward space, The Curve often works better than the Barbican’s main gallery. Or maybe its just the quality of commissioning and installation: Richard Wilson and Peter Coffin have been particularly memorable there, as will be Kusmirowski and, I would bet, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, the French artist who is next up but as yet absurdly little-known in England. Kusmirowski is a Pole who became famous for his recreation of a 1940s railway carriage in a former Jewish girls school at the 2006 Berlin Biennale. Here, inspired by how the Barbican rose out of the blitz, he takes us deep inside the inter-connected rooms of a second world war bunker, on several levels and complete with a railway track which runs round the whole 70m semi-circle of the space. It comes ready-aged in rust and grey tones and generates a powerful combination of amazement and historical resonance.

Hans-Peter Feldmann @ Ancient & Modern, 201 Whitecross Street – Barbican

To 16 Jan:

How often do you see 174 paintings of nudes in a contemporary gallery? Especially one with Ancient & Modern’s particularly modest scale? Well, it turns out to be an exact fit for Hans-Peter Feldmann’s installation of stamps, each showing just that. It’s a well-worn topic for thematic stamp collectors, but the gallery context alters their reception, just as it has that of the multifarious other selections the wide-ranging German has presented in the past in addition to his photographs.

The Body in Women’s Art Now @ Rollo Contemporary Art, 51 Cleveland St (Fitzrovia)

To 20 Jan:

The first part of a three-part survey of work created by women artists this century in which the body is central, ‘Embodied’ combines Regina José Galindo and Sigalit Landau’s recent video classics with less well known but also interesting work by Jessica Lagunas (who, like Galindo, grew up in Guatemala) and young British photographer Lydia Maria Julien. And there is an excellent catalogue.I recommend you start downstairs, where Lagunas piles on the beauty to edgily comic excess by applying lipstick and mascara for an hour, and then drop back between the shorter works to see how she’s getting on… gives full address and opening time details of most shows


I am looking forward to:

Drawing Form @ Green Cardamom 20.11 – 22.1

Benoit Maire @ Hollybush Gardens 20.11 – 24.1

Kendell Geers @ Stephen Friedman 27.11 – 16.1

Nathan Danilowicz @ Crisp 25.11 – 9.1

Tatsuo Miyajima @ Lisson Gallery 25.11 – 16.1

Alexis Harding @ Mummery & Schnelle 27.11 – 19.12

Andre Butzer @ Alison Jacques 27.11 – 9.1

Klaus Weber @ Herald Street 28.11 – 17.1

Neo-Concrete Experience @ Gallery 32 (the Brazilian Embassy) 9.12 – 13.1

Peter Campus @ BFI 11.12 – 14.2


Yes, Baldessari at the Tate, Ruscha at the Hayward, Kapoor at the RA are high impact shows. Then there’s Lucy Skaer and Roger Hiorns impressing in the Turner Prize and quirky group shows at Camden and 176… Here, though, are some less obvious selections of shows well worth seeing.

Boo Ritson: Back-Roads Journeys @ Alan Cristea (Part 1) & Poppy Sebire (Part 2)
To 21.11: 34 Cork St & 36 North Audley St - Mayfair

Ritson’s painting-sculpture-performance-photograph images of people literally painted gain extra narrative thrust in spreading across two galleries, with a new twist whereby the viewer has to fill in the gaps represented by white paint. And be sure to take the superbly produced diner ‘menu’.

Beat Zoderer: Sourceless Fields @ Bartha Contemporary
To 26.11:136b Lancaster Rd – Ladbroke Grove

A representative sample from the Swiss master of industrial, commercial and office materials, including works in the rarely-encountered Eternit, a highly versatile concrete based fibre-cement material, and some attractively impossible knots.

Bill Culbert: State of Light @ Peer
To 28.11: 99 Hoxton St - Hoxton

New Zealander Culbert has often worked with tubes of light to very different installational effects from Dan Flavin: here the gallery is turned half black, half white reflecting a display of window-come-picture frames which suggest a traditional RA hang.

Mariele Neudecker @ Room
To 29.11: 31 Waterson St - Hoxton

Business as usual for the Bristol-based German, in that she gives us atmospheric models of romantic landscapes, but fascinatingly undermined by such devices as a gritty urban foreground or being inverted and made to resemble eyeballs. Plus rather creepy sculptures of aeroplane black boxes.

Glenn Brown @ Gagosian
To 26.11: 2-24 Britannia St - King’s Cross

Brown continues to deconstruct the thick, expressionist painted surface by making it at one extreme flat and at the other a ‘sculpture of paint’ in distorted riffs on art history and pop culture. Also includes a new strand of shaped canvases.To quote Martin Herbert's rather brilliant summary of Brown's career in Art Forum: 'Man finds theme: painting's demise expressed through zombified remakes of works by Frank Auerbach, Salvador Dali and Karel Appel, and then through grandly geeky enlargements of sci-fi book covers. Man commences sideline in sculpture... Man shreds post-modernist primers; messes with Photoshop; discovers deep, hazy pictorial space that suggests the afterlife; evolves boggling vocabulary of melting forms, gaseous flesh and necromantic figures..'

David Raymond Conroy: It was part of it before. And now. @ Seventeen
To 28.11: 17 Kingsland Rd - Hoxton

Would be worth seeing merely for ‘Sometimes I wish I could just disappear’, a succession of photos from Ebay of mirrors for sale – in which the owners didn’t quite succeed in excluding their camera from the image… But beyond that, an impressively varied and witty set of reframings which go that now-necessary step beyond simple appropriation.

Wayne Thiebaud @ Faggionato
To 18.12: 49 Ablemarle St - Central

San Francisco’s master of painterly pop surely has a lower British profile than he should. This show may help rectify that with its good mix of still lives, signature cakes, landscapes and vertiginous cityscapes, but a large scale museum show would be welcome. Worth noting that Faggionato opens Mon-Fri only…

Time is a Sausage @ DomoBaal
To 19.12: 3 John St - Clerkenwell

Actually a ‘show of shows’ in that 60 works shown salon-style in the main gallery are combined with a succession of separate shows featuring one or two of the participants. For 12-21.11 the extras are sculptors who catch the urban landscape above and below ground in contrasting ways: Steve Johnson and Phyllida Barlow.

Stephen G Rhodes: Reconstruction or Something @ Vilma Gold
To 20.12: 6 Minerva St - Cambridge Heath

Rhodes is one of the most interesting inclusions in Saatchi’s current survey of new work from America, and this impressive sculptural installation with multi-screen video collage combines high visual impact with underlying complexity in considering the USA’s relations with Iraq .

Presque Rien III @ Laure Genillard
To 9.1.10: 2 Hanway Place - Tottenham Court

The third (!) instalment of Laure’s group show of almost nothing amounts to quite something, largely through drawing you into objects which turn out to be something else: a kebab is a sculpture, books are wings, a ball of dust is a planet. Worth noting that the gallery doesn’t do mornings! gives full address and opening time details of most shows


I am looking forward to:

Mustafa Hulusi @ Civic Rooms (12.11 – 13.1) and with Mark Titchner @ Max Wigram (19.11 – 19.12)

Peter Davies @ The Approach 13.11 – 17.1

After Awkward Objects (Louise Bourgeois, Lynda Benglis & Alina Szapocznikow) @ Hauser & Wirth 17.11 – 19.12

Kendell Geers @ Stephen Friedman 17.11 – 16.1

La Peinture Est Presque Abstraite @ Camberwell Space 18.11 – 23.12

Tom Badley @ Rokeby 19.11 – 18.12

Drawing Form @ Green Cardamom 20.11 – 22.1

Benoit Maire @ Hollybush Gardens 20.11 – 24.1

Nathan Danilowicz @ Crisp 25.11 – 9.1

Tatsuo Miyajima @ Lisson Gallery 25.11 – 16.1

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


'My Original Repetition' - featuring the new / different ways artists have found to work with repetition, setting out how the tactics differ. Linked to minimalism.

‘Branded’ - how artists have handled brands: consumer brands, art as a brand, themselves as a brand. Linked to pop.

'Searing Colour' - the meanings / effects from fluorescence or extreme brightness. Linked to recent abstraction.

‘Forever or a Day’ - looking at two extremes: long-term practices which generate meanings related to persistence; and works in which it’s of the essence that they are made in a day. Linked to rapid painting and conceptual approaches.

'World and Process': The Abstract Photograph Found and Made


'My Original Repetition'

Featuring the new / different ways artists have found to work with repetition, setting out how the tactics differ. Linked to minimalism.

Minimalism tends towards repetition to emphasise the cool, rational, uninfected presentation more akin to manufacture than to art production. Where minimlism is not at issue, it is more likely that the repetition will suggest obsessive interest or behaviour patterns. But artists also have their own particular reasons for arriving at repetition. Repetition can be within one work, across a series of works or across a career (Judd ticks all three boxes). I've concentrated here on repetition within a work, so Peter Dreher, for example, wouldn't qualify simply on account of painting 'the same work' daily.

Accumulation is different - as in say Arman or Tara Donovan - as is the collection of series with slight differences (eg Hans-Peter Feldmann, Zoe Leonard). But where slight variations are presented in the context of minimalism (Sol LeWitt, Eva Hesse) then that's been allowed into scope.

Some of these are famous works unlikely to be obtainable, in which case I assume aim would be to obtain other work by the artists which display the themes, and refer to the famous works in setting the scene.

Foundational and variants

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Donald Judd: Stacks  Judd used repetition together with impersonal manufacture to prevent any romantic or affective sentiments developing, and to give equal emphasis to object and space. 

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Andy Warhol's sewn photographs and silk screening both tie in repetition as a reference to consumption and desire. Perhaps Warhol's money is the cleanest example: he liked it and its accumulation.

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Carl AndreEquivalent V 1966-69 - repeated units minimise any deflection from the  quality of materials, emphasise their standard, utilitarian aspect, and imply that the arrangement could be different - all contrary to historic traditions in art.

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Jasper Johns: Three Flags, 1958 - not only plays on the repetition of stock symbols within our lives (such that we lose sight of them) but also repeats them within a painting to stress the point.

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Stephen Shore - 4-Part Variation, 1969   Having - perhaps relevantly - been present at Warhol's Factory - the young Stephen Shore made several works depicting the same event or place from multiple different perspectives / distances. That suggests both that a single photograph is only significant in terms of its place in the series as a whole, and that no one viewpoint can be privileged.

 Two-thousand plaster rods in geometric forms make up Walter De Maria's 1992 "The 2000 Sculpture."

Walter de Maria: The 2000 Sculpture, 1992 -  2,000 white-plaster rods which would measure a kilometre laid end to end. The layout is systematic but introduces a spiritual / meditative aspect, as the viewer can't take it all in and is drawn into a back and forth between parts and whole.

Towards Subjectivity

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Sol LeWitt: Cubes in Color on Color, 2003 - follows serial and logical progression so that the colours vary thought application of rules in repeated, but the effect - like much of LeWitt's later work - is decidedly sensuous. 


Eva Hesse: Repetition 19, 1968. Despite the title the Fiberglass and polyester resin units are - as with the LeWitt - not exactly the same. But nor, being handmade, are they systematic.  Hesse is adjusting minimalist principles to reintroduce the personal. 

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Luis Camnitzer: Leftovers, 1970. Eighty cardboard boxes stacked in a rectangular grid formation features blood-like stains. The remorselessness of torture is evoked  by what may be seen as containers of dismembered bodies. 

       Roni Horn

Roni Horn: Untitled #2, 1999   Are two units enough to constitute repetition? Roni Horn sees the device rather as on of amplification and emphasis - doubling is very different from trebling...

Ding Yi: Appearance of Crosses 2016 – 10. Ding Yi  has been painting Appearance of Crosses since 1988, using only x and + shapes as a recurring motif. He set out to merge  painting and design into a single form of expression. Repetition here sets up various possible analogies, including with China's urban development.

The Performative Turn


Robert Morris: Untitled, 1965 repeats forms and mirrors interactively - so that the forms reflect each other, the space, and the viewers themselves so that they are aware of all three.

Rasheed Araeen: Zero to Infinity, 1968-2007. One hundred wooden open-framework lattice cubes  are initially positioned in an ordered structure, but with the intention that viewers  move them into new configurations - an anti-hierarchical move as a critique of less democratic models. 


Alice Anderson: Ladders, 2014. Anderson uses repetition as a means to the performative
exploration of the semi-conscious outcomes of particular states of mind. Sometimes the performances result in no outcome, usually  an artwork results, bearing the marks of repetitive process. Her best known strand arises 'when one of the objects around me is likely to become obsolete or is lost in stream of our lives, I ‘memorise’ it with thread before it happens.the binding of 'memory objects'. 

The Loop
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The video loop is a natural form of repetition which works particularly well if it reinforces the narrative logic. Rodney Graham's Vexation Island, 1997, is a classic example.  

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Mona Hatoum: So Much I Want to Say, 1983. Still images, changing every eight seconds,  show the artist's face gagged by a man's hands: the sound track repeats the title. Typical of Hartoum's use of politically infected minimalist formats in which barriers aren't able to cancel the message.

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Sturtevant: Elastic Tango, 2010 - here nine screens showing a rapid sequencing of  different images relating to consumer and image surfeit as well as Sturtevant's earlier concern with original / copy. Elaine's versions of Warhol, Johns might also make sense...



How artists have handled brands: themselves as a brand and consumer brands as art. What are the tactics used by artists to market themselves as a brand? How do they parallel the way brands operate in the wider market place? What do artists gain by including brands in their art? How does that show itself in the works selected?

I suggest a slightly different approach here, with the analysis proceeding more specifically from the examples sourced.

(1) The artist as brand: we talk about that by reference to works by the artists who have achieved their own 'brand status' most successfully. Those works might or might not intersect with the 'brand' themed works in the other sections. Those artists, I suggest, might be Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Yves Klein, Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Marina Abramović, Tracey Emin. Indeed, you could put on an interesting show around just that.

(2) Brands in art - general: it would be possible simply to choose a selection of 'art using brands'. Artists whose practices involves working with brand in relevant ways include Stuart Davis, Jean-Luc Moulene (Strike and Palestine products), James Rosenquist, Wim Delvoye, Josephine Meckseeper, Haim Steinbach, Michael Craig-Martin, Richard Hamilton, plus those listed in the following… 

(3) Brands in art - specific: It might be nice to narrow it somewhat (or complement a general selection) by concentrating on, say, a couple of iconic brands which were prominent in the pop era and used by several artists. I guess the choice might come down to availability. Anyway, the following are the three brands which I think could best sustain such a grouping*:

Coca-Cola: Warhol (and links to Sturtevant - inc. Trilogy of Transgression + Richard Pettibone, Mike Bidlo); Cildo Meireles; Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project 1970; Ai Wei Wei: Han Dynasty Urn with Coca-Cola Logo, 1994; Jonathan Horowitz: Coke and / or Pepsi Machine and related paintings, 2007; Robert Rauschenberg – The Coca Cola Plan, 1958, Tom Wesselmann: Still Life #34, 1963; Mel Ramos – Lola Cola; Frédéric Pradeau - still for making pure alcohol from Coca-Cola; Alexander Kosolapov, Coca Cola Lenin; Darren Lago – Coke45 Black Pearl, 2013 ; Wolf Vostell: Coca-Cola, 1961; Marisol Escobar. Love, 1962; Richard Estes street scenes, eg Canadian Club, 1974.

Marlboro: Richard Prince; Damien Hirst ashtray – (he smoked Marlboro light); Hans Haacke: Helmsboro Country (unfolded), 1990; Tony Oursler: Marlboro, Camel, Winston, Parliament, Salem, Marlboro Light, American Spirit, 2009; Leo Fitzmaurice: Post-Match; Theophilus Nii Anum Sowah / Pa Jo (Ghanain coffin tradition); Gursky pitstop photo (sponsorship issues); Jac Leirner, Lung, 198; Robert Larson – Untitled (Marlboro),1999, Ashley Bickerton – Tormented Self Portrait Susie at Arles No.2, 1988 (various brands as identity); Urs Fischer: Horse / Fraud 2010 (silkscreen print of Marlboro packs on mirror-polished stainless steel sheets); Alexander Kosolapov - Marlboro Malevich

Volkswagen: Damian Ortega Cosmic Thing; Francis Alÿs Rehearsal I (El Ensayo), Tijuana, 1999-2001; Chris Burden: Transfixed; Ichwan Noor - Beetle Sphere; Margarita Cabrera's VW (soft version in spirit of Oldenburg); Thomas Bayrle, VW Käfer rot; Joseph Beuys, The Pack; cars as photorealist subject eg Don Eddy, Untitled (4 VWs) (1971)

 (4) Art as a brand: this could be omitted - there is probably enough - but there is one specific series which would neatly complement the above: Bucan Art, 1972 by Boris Bucan, which repurposes famous logos as logos for 'ART'. And there's a related work by Robert Indiana.

The look of such a show could major on pop aesthetics. For example:

(1) Beuys, Koons, Abramovic, Hirst:

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(2)  Examples: Bayrle, Hamilton, Oursler, Steinbach, Fitzmaurice
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(3) Using Coca-cola as example: Wesselmann, Meireles, Ramos, Estes, Ai Wei Wei, Horowitz

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(4) Boris Bucan, Robert Indiana



Searing Colour in recent abstract painting and sculpture

Scope: post-op, post-pop, mostly paintings but with some sculpture too, to maximise installation potential. could extend to figuration, eg Sigrid Holmwood, Carroll Dunham, Christoph Ruckhäberle, but that would, I think, get too broad; likewise I have excluded light works.

Shows a range of purposes to which such colour has been put: to create of disorientate space; to maximise intensity linked to social messages; to create a mood; to draw parallels with clashes in zones other than colour; as a ground for conceptual play; to make painting musical; to heighten the impact of simplification.

            Katharina Grosse, Untitled, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 86 5/8 × 59 1/16 inches (220 × 150 cm) © Katharina Grosse and VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2018. Photo: Jens Ziehe

Katharina Grosse - Untitled, 2018 - colour straight from the spraygun makes space beyond the surface.

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Daniel Lergon: 'Cold Fire' series 2011 - combination of abstraction and scientific investigation of materials.

<strong>Peter Halley</strong>, <em>Raising Hope I</em>, 2013

Peter Halley: Raising Hope, 2013. 

Fluorescent graphic paintings that explore circuitry and systems.

 Neo-concreto, 2016David Batchelor: Neo-Concreto, 2016 - theorist of cromophobic tendencies and counter-measures

Gerold Miller: Verstärker 30 - Lacquered Aluminum - colour calculated for the maximum optical presence in pared-back forms across painting and objects


Matti Braun: Untitled, 2011 -  works on silk which explore cultural conjunctions through conjunctions of colour

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Jim Lambie: maybe a bit of a taped floor... 'Covering an object somehow evaporates the hard edge off the thing, and pulls you towards more of a dreamscape', he says. Other work of Lambie's could also suit. 
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Josh Sperling: Chasing Rainbows 2017 - playful retro-happiness

              Rana Begum

Rana Begum:  colour-movement and reflected fluoresence - this is from her 'Fold' seriesImage result for beatriz milhazes

Beatriz Milhazes - carnival of colours - from Rio Azul now at White Cube

Carmen Herrera Yellow and Black, 2010  -  aims at the simplest of pictorial resolutions consistent with creating  movement, rhythm and spatial tension - intense colour contrasts assist in that.
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Jan Pleitner - Untitled, 2017 - stained glass windows to an inner space for the information age... Pleitner uses the term ‘sci-fi expressionism’    Image result for raphael hefti

Raphael Hefti - 'Subtraction as Addition' series 2012 treats museum glass with successive coats of anti-reflective coating until the surface becomes iridescent and opaque.

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Odili Donald Odita: Firewall, 2013. The Nigerian's sees his vibrant shards as suggest colliding cultures and emotions.

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Stanley Whitney: Wandering and Wondering, 2016 - colour as structure in musical call and response

Also possible: Mary Heilmann, Danny Rolph, Sam Gillam, Olivier Mosset,  Marta Marce, Michael Craig-Martin, Merete Rasmussen, Markus Linnenbrink


FOREVER OR A DAY - Rapid Painting and Extended Conceptual Schemes

There’s widespread public respect for two extremes of art practice: on the one hand the patience and skill which generate admiration for ‘just how much work has gone into that’; on the other hand the rush of inspiration and genius which can mean – though some scepticism isn’t unusual – that brilliance is simply dashed off.  ‘Forever or a Day’ looks at two extremes: long-term practices which generate meanings related to persistence; and works in which it’s of the essence that they are made in a day. The two streams then come together in that some artists make a sequence over a long period from a succession of single day works...

Various questions might be explored. How important is spontaneity to inspiration? How is emotion increased by the amount of time or repetition invested in it? How does the evidence of time used reflect our mortality? What is the relationship of work to leisure, and of art to life? When does enough of the ordinary become extraordinary?



                                Avigdor Arikha: Sleeping Nude with Indian Rug, 1985

 All Avigdor Arikha’s paintings from the mid 70’s to his death in 2010 were made in a single session aiming to depict the immediate truth as it lay before him.  


          Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Amber In The Ether, 2015

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings, in contrast, are all of imaginary figures – and many are completed within a day as the best way to maintain her stream of consciousness. 


    Dale Lewis: Baked Beans, 2016

It’s hard to believe that Dale Lewis makes such huge (2m x 4m) and complex paintings in day, but that’s the typical pace through which he generates the rhythm and spontaneity he seeks. 


Susan Collins: image 9th January 2014 at 19:30pm from London 2013-14

The fixed camera works of Susan Collins: this images shows a view - here over London - constructed a pixel a second from top left to the bottom right of the image so that a whole day is laid out. 


             Tomás SaracenoSonic Cosmic Web, 2015

Nature's most prominent daily maker and remaker is the spider. Tomás Saraceno has digitised the 3D intricacy of their webs as the basis for artworks.




                    Roman Opalka, Détail 1- 35327, 1965

Roman Opalka started painting numbers from 1 in 1965: by the time of his death in 2011 he had reached 5,607,249. 


Nicholas Nixon has been photographing the four Brown Sisters annually since 1975, making for a long-term reflection on identity, change and mortality. 

  Stills from Day 1, left, and Day 365 of Tehching Hsieh's film

In Time Clock Piece, 1980-81, Tehching Hsieh punched a time clock every hour and took his photograph. 

A few thousand of Katherine Murphy's somewhat unphotographable holes

For Decay by 100,000 pinholes, 2016, Katherine Murphy pricked six months of holes into a large piece of paper.


Ironuri (Paint Placements), 1987 consists of a taped-together stack of time cards – one of many objects which Japanese artist Sadaharu Horio leaves around the studio, adding paint daily over several years in a semi-conscious manner. 

Fast and Slow 

Some daily works build up into a longterm series... 

Today (1966–2013) consists of over 3,000 Date Paintings by On Kawara, which record the date on which they were made. If Kawara had not finished by the end of the day, he discarded the painting.

Peter Dreher has produced a daily life-sized painting of the same, empty glass since 1974,  completing over 5,000 versions for his project Day by Day good Day.  

Since 1994 John Miller has taken a photograph each day between 12pm and 2pm, wherever he happens to be, chronicling himself submerged in the ordinary Middle of the Day.

Laurel Nakadate’s book 365 Days: A Catalogue of Tears, 2010, sees the artist photograph herself crying in order to 'deliberately take part in sadness each day'. 


Every day since 2014 Moisés Patrício photographs his hand  clutching items found on the streets of Sao Paulo.



World and Process: The Abstract Photograph Found and Made

The obvious expectation is that abstraction is produced out of the mind, not out of the world, and that cameras record the world – so abstraction is more naturally a product of painting than of photography. We expect a painting to be made, a photograph to depict what is found. Most of the time, that's true, but there are two ways of making abstract photography.

First, to depict the world in a way which generates the impression of abstraction through such tactics as unfamiliar views, extreme close-up, extreme distance, unusual use of light, photographic techniques which disguise the subject, or building an abstract object which is then photographed. Those approaches will use the conventional technique of pointing a camera at a subject in order to record it.

Second, to use the photographic process itself to create an abstraction. Analogue methods may involve in-camera manipulation, darkroom interventions or other chemical processes. In recent years, the availability of digital alternatives has enriched the possibilities for such abstraction. Either way, it is often the case that no camera is involved.

Bringing those two possibilities together, a varied and intriguing history of abstract photography has developed. It deserves to be seen in parallel with the history of abstract painting, as is fully explored in the Tate’s 300 work show ‘Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art’ (2 May – 14 Oct 2018). Here we concentrate on the photograph on its own terms, with examples demonstrating that, whether made or found, it is a medium capable of profound abstraction.

Note on Choices

The following starts with three ‘pioneers’ - Rodchenko, Blossfeldt and Moholy-Nagy, and two who might be regarded as 'second generation' - Neüssus and Förg - before moving on to a range of later practitioners who illustrate the range of possibilities. Some work between the two categories, but a broad classification might be: 

Abstraction from nature and the body:

Karl Blossfeldt, Hiroshi SugimotoMarilyn Minter,  Mona Kuhn,  Edward Burtynsky

Abstraction from architecture and human constructions:

Alexander Rodchenko,  Günther Förg,  Ola Kolehmainen, James White

Analogue experimentation – chemistry and processes

László Moholy-Nagy,   Floris Neüssus,    Walead Beshty,  Liz Deschenes, Jennifer West      


Digital media and experimentation

Thomas Ruff ,  Wolfgang Tillmans, Eileen Quinlan,  Penelope Umbrico

All have international reputations, though Förg and White are better known as painters. 

 Alexander Rodchenko

Shukhov Tower, 1929

Girl with Leica, 1934

Karl Blossfeldt

 Willkomm’s saxifrage, rosette of leaves,  c 1898-1928


Common Globe Thistle,  c 1898-1928

 László Moholy-Nagy

 Photogram, 1930's

Light Play: Black-White-Grey (6min, 1930) - film which which documents the effects  kinetic light sculpture, the Light-Space Modulator.

Floris Neüssus

 Tellerbilder 03, 1974


Crumpled Paper, 1983
Günther Förg


 Untitled 5, 2007


Villa Wittgenstein, Wien, 1987 

 Hiroshi Sugimoto


Tyrrhenian Sea, Scilla, 1993

 Lightning Fields 168, 2009

Thomas Ruff

 Substrat 33 II, 2007

  r.phg 12, 2015

Wolfgang Tillmans

Sendeschluss / End of Broadcast I, 2014 


It’s only love give it away (2005) from the series Freischwimmer

Ola Kolehmainen

Exchange of Plates with Kristjan II, 2006


                      Konstruktivizm Infantil X, 2013


Marilyn Minter

                      Choke, 2005


                    Breaking Dawn, 2011

Walead Beshty

Walead Beshty, Transparency (Negative) [Kodak Portra 400NC Em. No. 3161: April 22–24,               2010 LAX/SFO SFO/LAX], 2011 (from 'travel pictures)

Six Magnet, Three Color Curl (CMY: Irvine, California, September 6th 2009, Fuji Crystal Archive Type C), 2009colour photographic paper  (from 'curls')

Mona Kuhn


From Acido Dorado, 2014


 Adieu, 2012

Liz Deschenes 


Untitled (Lewitt) # 2 and 3, 2016 -  uv prints on plexi-glass

  Front / Side II, 2012 - silver-toned photogram 

Edward Burtynsky

 Morenci Mine #1, Clifton, Arizona, USA, 2012 

Dryland Farming #2, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain, 2010

Eileen Quinlan


 Smoke & Mirrors 7, 2005,

Green Graph, 2017

Jennifer West 

Jennifer West film, eg above is a still from A 70MM Film Wearing Thick Heavy Black Liquid Eyeliner That Gets Smeary, 2008 

Exploded Film Quilt, 2015: 70mm filmstrips treated with dye, bleach, oysters, vanilla - Plexiglas, thread 96 x 42 1/8 in. 

James White

 Abstract Thoughts 24, (series 2011 ongoing)

Abstract Thoughts 2, (series 2011 ongoing)

Penelope Umbrico

Selection from 'Out of Order', 2007 - ongoing  (broken TV sets)

Also possible: Andreas Gefeller, Michael Flomen, Erin O'Keefe, Gerhard Richter, Uta Barth, Garry Fabian Miller,  Adam Fuss, Luisa Lambri, Barbara Kasten, Alexander James + works identified by Art-Circle

About Me

My photo
Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09) and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, Frieze, Photomonitor, Elephant and Border Crossings. I have curated 20 shows during 2013-17 with more on the way. Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.