Moving Towards Collapse

"There has been an element of risk taking for me in my work." - Sigmar Polke












For Carl Andre

Lynda Benglis.  For Carl Andre.  1970.












Louise Bourgeois. Filette (Little Girl) (Sweeter Version) . 1968.


"In Louise Bourgeois' work, we are often faced with the presence of subjects who desire, and who desire sexually. They are not immediate figures of desire but they position themselves clearly as operations of desire. Bourgeois' vengeance on the constraints of the "wish to know" is to create the disorder of the forbidden. The right to know is my birth right." - Edward Lucie-Smith











Postmodernism = name for many stylistic reactions to, and developments from, modernism. Postmodern style is often characterized by eclecticism, digression, collage, pastiche, and irony. Postmodern theorists see postmodern art as a reversal of well-established modernist systems, such as the roles of artist versus audience, seriousness versus play, or high culture versus kitsch.
  • Postmodernists believe that no single truth exists
  • Everything that can be done, has been done
  • Sense that the avant-garde has broken down -
    there is no longer a shared message or purpose
  • Embrace diversity
  • Encourage parody, irony and playfulness
Sigmar Polke, Bunnies, 1966.
Acrylic on canvas, 59 x 39-½ in.











Yasumasa Morimura, Portrait, 2013.











Hal Foster proposes "critical theory has served as a secret continuation of the avant-garde by other means. After the climax of the 1968 revolts, it also occupied the position of cultural politics, at least to the extent that radical rhetoric compensated a little for lost activism." Indeed, it is a popularly held view within cultural studies that the ’68 uprisings were the last genuine flowering of a politically emulsified avant-garde, the last moment – in the West at least – that art and politics met and worked towards a common aim before radical politics and contemporary art skulked off to their respective departments within the academy or under the bright lights of what Foster calls the ‘false pluralism of the posthistorical museum market where anything goes (as long as accepted forms predominate).’ - John Douglas Millar
Sigmar Polke, Dublin, 1968.











The notion of a collapse between the real and the apparent is suggested in Nietzsche's first book, The Birth of Tragedy (1967), where he presents Greek tragedy as a synthesis of natural art impulses represented by the gods Apollo and Dionysus. Where Apollo is the god of beautiful forms and images, Dionysus is the god of frenzy and intoxication, under whose sway the spell of individuated existence is broken in a moment of undifferentiated oneness with nature. While tragic art is life-affirming in joining these two impulses, logic and science are built upon Apollonian representations that have become frozen and lifeless. Hence, Nietzsche believes only a return of the Dionysian art impulse can save modern society from sterility and nihilism. This interpretation presages postmodern concepts of art and representation, and also anticipates postmodernists' fascination with the prospect of a revolutionary moment auguring a new, anarchic sense of community.
Mark Rothko, late 60s.











"I pursue no objectives, no system, no tendency; I have no program, no style, no direction. I steer clear of definitions. I do not know what I want. I am inconsistent, non-committal, passive; I like the indefinite, the boundless; I like continual uncertainty." - Gerhard Richter



Gerhard Richter, Eight Student Nurses, 1966.


grisaille = monochrome painting usually executed in various shades of gray











Student Nurses
Ricther's source material
Richter Nurses
Richter's nurses











Onkel Rudi

Gerhard Richter, Onkel Rudi, 1965.











Telephone Booths

Photo Realism = genre of painting that developed out of the Pop Art movement and involves the use of photographs and mechanical transfer of the photo image to canvase that results in a painting resembling that resembles a photo
Related to Fredric Jameson's concept of the simulacra and Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation 1981
simulacra = a copy of a copy which has been so dissipated in its relation to the original that it can no longer be said to be a copy. The simulacrum therefore stands on its own as a copy without a model
Richard Estes, Telephone Booths, 1968.











the painting is a copy of a photograph

the photograph is a copy of the "original"
the "original" may have been set up to remind the viewer of something prior
"This image does not represent reality, it represents paint." - David Hopkins
Chuck Close, Big Self-Portrait, 1968. 8’ 11 ½” X 6’ 11 ½”.











Gerhard Richter, Helen, 1964.

Gerhard Richter, Woman Descending Staircase, 1965. 79 X 51".









Vija Celmins, Untitled (Ocean), 1970. Pencil on paper.  14" X 18".
Vija Celmins, Pistol, 1964.











Post-Structuralism = philosophical approach based on the idea that words and photographs are unstable and cannot be trusted, and that everything is a momentary construction with no ultimate meaning or truth.
Edward Ruscha, The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire, 1968.











Edward Ruscha, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, 1966.


"They are not statements about the world through art, they are statements about art through the world." - Ed Ruscha











Bernd and Hilla Becher, Framework Houses, 1959 - 1971.









Bernd and Hilla Becher, Coal Bunkers, 1974.











“From now on,” says Baudrillard, “signs are exchanged against each other rather than against the real” (Baudrillard 1993, 7), so production now means signs producing other signs. The system of symbolic exchange is therefore no longer real but “hyperreal.” Where the real is “that of which it is possible to provide an equivalent reproduction,” the hyperreal, says Baudrillard, is “that which is always already reproduced” (Baudrillard 1993, 73). The hyperreal is a system of simulation simulating itself.
Claudio Bravo, Package, 1969.  Charcoal, pastel and sanguine.











Duane Hanson, Race Riot, 1968.
Duane Hanson, Tourists II, 1988. Polyester resin, fiberglass and human paraphernalia.



trompe l’oeil = fool the eye











The avant-garde is always caught in a dialectical bind, for as it seeks to suspend and destroy the canonical authority of tradition it becomes canonical itself.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #54, 1980.











Gerhard Richter, High Diver, 1965.