Monday, 18 July 2011

On Fred Sandback and string [UPDATED]

The small installation of Sandback’s work, currently on view in a single room at the Whitechapel Gallery, is the best example of the late artist’s spatial alchemy you’re likely to see in the UK. Sandback needs space, and a lot of it, despite his work’s modest (and physically feather-light) qualities. He’s best showcased at Dia:Beacon, where he effortlessly steals the show from his more heavy-handed minimalist compatriots. A huge rectangle of blue yarn, nailed invisibly to the concrete floor at an angle to its insertion in the wall, becomes a vast and flawless sheet of glass, leaning gently, worryingly. Sandback’s work, like that of Michael Heizer, Richard Serra, and Richard Tuttle, is a reminder that the physical experience of art trumps its intellectual unravelling every time. Language pales in comparison to that stomachy leap of fear and pleasure. As Sandback himself put it in 1975: “I don’t have an idea first and then find a way to express it. That happens all at once (…) Ideas are executions.” And: “Fact and illusion are equivalents.”

Read the whole piece here.

Tyler Green at Modern Art Notes links to the piece. (Thank you).

Monday, 11 July 2011

On Twombly/Poussin, and the trouble with classicism

For everyone concerned – from the wide-eyed Twombly of the fifties, having himself photographed by Constantine’s massive digit, to Poussin, wangling his way into the inner circle of antiquarian patrons, to the Romans themselves, gawping back over their shoulder at the silent grandeur of their adopted ancestors – the classical past was something at a remove, to be jolted back to life through art and writing. This cultural electrode-clamping is something so recurrent in Western culture as to be conspicuous only by its absence. And it’s particularly conspicuous now, with the loss of Twombly this week, as though a golden thread, passed from hand to hand, had fallen to the floor.

Read the whole article (at Art21) here.