Wednesday, December 31, 2008

From the New York Times December 12, 2008
Although it seems as if there just was one (there was, ending in June), officials at the Whitney Museum of American Art are already plotting the sequel, scheduled to open in March 2010. This week they are announcing the choice of curators, who in years past have consisted of all-Whitney teams, groups of outsiders, or variations in between.
This time the museum has paired Francesco Bonami, 53, a seasoned Italian-born curator with an international reputation, and Gary Carrion-Murayari, 28, a homegrown senior curatorial assistant. Mr. Bonami will serve as curator for the Biennial, with Mr. Carrion-Murayari acting as associate curator.
“It seemed like a good fit on a lot of levels,” said Donna De Salvo, the Whitney’s chief curator. “Francesco is well known to the Whitney” — he helped organize the Rudolf Stingel retrospective in 2007 — “and he has been thinking about and looking at biennials. Gary is about investing in a younger generation of curators. Not youth for youth’s sake but tapping into the way they see.”
These Biennials are “a monster to wrestle,” as Ms. De Salvo put it, but the Whitney also wanted a young eye involved; thus an experienced curator was matched with a greener one.
In 2007 Mr. Carrion-Murayari organized “Television Delivers People,” which focused on video works from the 1970s and ’80s and newer examples that examined the relationship between television and the viewer. A five-year Whitney veteran, he also worked on the 2004 and 2006 Whitney Biennials and helped Mr. Bonami and the Whitney curator Chrissie Iles on the installation of Mr. Stingel’s show.
This year the Biennial spilled over into the Park Avenue Armory for part of its run. At other times it has spread into Central Park. The 2010 edition, it seems, will be a more concentrated affair, occupying only the museum’s landmark Marcel Breuer home.
Unless the curators find a special project that requires another sort of space. “I want to stretch the building’s dimensions,” Mr. Bonami said. “Sometimes Biennials go all over the place. This one will be more specific.”
Although the curators won’t start visiting artists’ studios around the country until January, and at this early stage they haven’t decided whether the Biennial will have a particular theme, they are already starting to focus on certain ideas.
“I grew up around the world of globalism,” said Mr. Bonami, who in 2003 became the first American citizen to direct a Venice Biennale and who recently organized “Italian Art Between Tradition and Revolution: 1968-2008,” which is on view through March 22 at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice. “It was a time, around 1992-93, when there were no boundaries. But now my challenge is to reflect on the idea of Americanness. Setting these parameters, these limitations could be an advantage.”
Mr. Carrion-Murayari said the notion of globalism, which was important in past Biennials, feels dated. “We’ve gotten beyond that,” he said. “It’s not so much an argument anymore.”
Both curators said that their decision to concentrate on the Breuer building rather than consider other locations was not about keeping budgets low because of the current economic climate, adding that there might actually be a benefit to being focused and in one place.
The two men also said they were considering weaving works from the Whitney’s holdings into the Biennial, which would be a departure.
“We have talked about using the permanent collection,” Mr. Carrion-Murayari said. “We definitely want to consider it.”
Two Kinds of Thickness in Abstract Painting

by Vittorio Colaizzi from The Painting Center blog

It is great fun to complain about the art market and the promotional machine, especially the gnawing fear that the exaltation and trauma of aesthetic experience is irrelevant to that machine. But if we nobodies can offer any resistance, it is only by continuing the conversation at the level of irrelevancy. There is a lot of painting out there, and some of it is very good, but there is also anxiety about the discourse around painting, and a fear that we rarely advance past a scorecard of stylistic referents. This might be the price we pay for the permissiveness that comes with a lack of centrality.
At the 2007 College Art Association conference, Lane Relyea chaired a panel on abstract painting and the thickness of paint. This was in partial response to a question that emerged in Artforum’s 2002 roundtable on death-of-painting theory and its aftermath. Robert Storr complained about a crisp, graphic quality to some paintings, noting that it seemed as if the painter wanted to get the material aspect out of the way in order to focus on the image, which is usually borrowed from the broader media. The following remarks are adapted from my contribution to that panel.
I would not presume to claim for any artist that facture is unimportant. Paintings have material qualities, and the visibility of these qualities seems to vary according to climate. For example, the viscous tactility of Gerhard Richter’s 1960s black and white photo-based paintings is always striking. At the time, these were aggressively antagonistic to the craft of painting, but now they are positively luxurious. This is not just because we read them through the lens of Richter’s own sentimental turn, because in a book, they are just as polemical as was the younger Richter’s rhetoric. Their tactility is still almost invisible in reproduction.
Reproduction remains a key issue for painting today. While Richter took reproduction on as intellectual and plastic subject matter, problematizing both photography and painting, some painters today vault over reproduction as a given, producing work that appears made for reproduction, or already having been reproduced. Again, I will not say that a painting by Sarah Morris is without tactility, but her mode of pictorial organization is easily translatable into other formats, as is evident in her installation at Lever House. Nothing essential to Morris’ work is lost in this project, because, as a trafficker in images, she is concerned with the significance communicated by her crisscrossing lines and colored facets.
Part of Morris’s subject matter is arguably Modernism’s formal language as refracted through the mechanical and digital image stream. Her work contains the memory of Mondrian, but Mondrian in reproduction. This earlier artist’s facture is imbued with an awkwardness and urgency that might come from the belief that he was making a difference. It would be a mistake to attempt to rekindle the utopian ambitions of 20th century Modernism, just as it would be a mistake to take too seriously the either/or dialectic that seems to be set up by the preceding comparison. For the purposes of a discussion of facture I do not propose that we should divide painters into thick vs thin and then assign concepts like authenticity or cynicism accordingly. Rather, we should note that while the materiality of paint and surface is not a major issue for some, paint still speaks more than one language for the others. In other words, painters rely on tactility for different reasons. Thick paint can be deployed as part of an existent code, or it can be integrated with the surface of the painting in a way that intimates the ongoing process. The latter mode often uses less actual paint, but relies on the materials as having-been-worked, instead of as part of a pictorial code. A brief consideration of the work of Jonathan Lasker and Robert Ryman will clarify this opposition.
In his self-described “abstract pictures,” Jonathan Lasker uses various means to repeat relatively simple shapes. Parallel lines or carefully sequestered scribbles sometimes project outward, but they are also corralled back into the pictorial idiom by means of their near-duplication by their neighbors. Such repetition denies each element’s uniqueness as an expressive statement. The presumed expressivity or personal engagement that has become a cliché of generous paint handling is thus assimilated and re-cast into a more analytical consideration of that cliché’s significatory function.
Robert Ryman’s many varieties of white paint are conditioned by his many grounds, which include canvas, steel, wood, and cardboard. The interaction between surface and ground causes the paintings to open up in a way that lets the viewer almost rehearse the procedure as he or she looks. Ryman’s “tape-removal paintings” of 1969, reprised in 2000-02, are among his most ingenious integrations of painting’s physical elements. They consist of thin sheets of fiberglass or vinyl taped to a wall and then painted, so that the paint strays onto the wall. The dried skin of paint holds the panels up, and the no-longer necessary tape is removed, leaving tabs of unpainted support, as well as tiny ridges where painted and unpainted areas meet. By painting very thinly, but instrumentalizing that thinness, giving it a job, Ryman disconnects materiality from thickness: The thinnest paint of his career is also the most literally consequential.
This same insistence on materiality outside of signification is evident in his most recent exhibition at PaceWildenstein on 57th street, “No Title Required.” The show contains a polyptych of ten wood panels coated in enamel and surrounded by wooden frames of maple, cherry, and oak, each contributing its own color. Ryman aimed the track lighting at the opposite wall in order to cast reflected light on the paintings, thus avoiding spotlighting their interiors as if they were pictures. He was also careful to let his brush wander from the central panels onto the “frames,” thereby asserting the paint as a substance in the experiential world with us, not sequestered into a pictorial fiction, This again is accomplished by a paradoxical thin-ness. While the panels are built up with numerous coats into a glossy sheen, the spill-over seems to only be one coat and is relatively matte and almost translucent; it is most real through its slightness.
At the end of the panel, during the truncated discussion period, Relyea asked if thickness can stave off the artwork’s inevitable reduction to commodity. I would argue that, by itself, it cannot, nor can any formal quality. But no quality is by itself. It always exists in dialogue with the other possibilities in the field, as well as the use to which it is put within the work. So while everything becomes commodity, some paintings might allow for moments of respite within themselves, by providing visual and tactile experience that is irreconcilable with linguistic systems.
The foregoing binary is a falsification of the complexity of painting, but it is a falsification intended to bring some truths about painterly practice into higher relief. It is hoped that painters and connoisseurs will find these categories useful, if only as an invitation to invent their own template with which to organize their experience.
Vittorio Colaizzi received both an MFA in Painting (2000) and a PhD (2005) Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University. His paintings have been exhibited in Richmond and Brooklyn. He has published in Art Papers, Smithsonian’s American Art, and Woman’s Art Journal (forthcoming) and presented papers at the College Art Association, Southeastern Conference of Art Colleges, and the Modernist Studies Association.
Virginia Commonwealth University is the top rated public art grad school in the country.
Untitled, 2006, oil on canvas , 96 x 108 inches
More work by Brett Baker.

Simon gallery opened in 1996 to support its artists and promote the visual arts in New Jersey. The gallery's diverse sensibility focuses on contemporary painting, sculpture, and photography, both abstract and representational. Eight exhibitions a year feature the works of emerging and established artists from New Jersey, New York and around the country. This gallery represents Brett Baker.

Mary Ellen and Harry Simon, Directors of
Simon Gallery
48 Bank Street Morristown, New Jersey, USA 07960

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Take Joanne's virtual tour of Miami Basel earlier this month as reported by artist and blogger extraordinaire, Joanne Mattera. Nice coverage in particular of Jorge Fick works at Eric Firestone Gallery, Tucson booth.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How and When I started to blog:
In a web search for info on the Philadelphia art scene last spring, I contacted the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the pr director sent me to the Fallon and Rosoff blog ( where I tapped into the Philly scene and discovered blogging. I was doing this because Mark Borghi Fine Art (where I work part time) was exhibiting in a Philadelphia art fair at the time.

Fallon and Rosoff produce an art blog which is highly respected well beyond the Philadelphia market. They are two artists who are writers and curators as well. In perusing the Fallon and Rosoff site I found Vincent Romaniello’s blog ( which lead me to,
and among many others and I became inspired. I even came across Gregory Coates, an artist with a resume and credentials a mile long without a web site or representation so I made him a blog (no charge). I just want to do good work. I don’t envision ever turning the blog into a profit center where I would charge for advertising. It is a goodwill effort to connect artists with resources and help with promotion. The link I have on my site which is a money maker is the Amazon widget which is designed to pay me 4% of sales coming through my blog portal. So far I think I’ve accrued about $25 in commissions! The main reason I have Amazon on the site is so I can recommend books and dvd’s related to the articles I post.

Why I got started:
I wanted to build a site in an interactive environment with informative links and posts I could access all in one place and share to help other artists (mostly emerging). I wanted to be able to connect with other artists so a static web site wouldn’t do. Also I have no knowledge of web design code. The “google blogger” method of blogging ( is very intuitive. Anyone can build a blog although I suppose it helps to have an art background of some kind. Although I have become a painter, I was schooled at Pratt Institute in graphic design and illustration.

My blog, is an un locked diary of sorts with an address book I share with like-minded people world-wide. I guess I am sort of an artist’s concierge at heart. Artists, collectors and curators can frequent my site to see videos I have posted and articles I have excerpted (with acknowledgements given). There are no copyright infringements. In addition to sharing work of other writers, I write myself and to share easy access to links specifically geared to emerging artists to provide assistance to unrepresented artists seeking representation. For example I posted the Guild Hall “Call for Entries” for the annual member’s show and was responsible for signing new members to the museum who exhibited. I posted and the call for entries to the Parrish Art Museum Mixed Greens which is an exhibition where established artists chose Alesses established or emerging artists on the East End to be exhibited together April 26 – June 14, 2009. I have promoted the new “Local Art Rag”, an east end publication in which unrepresented artists can advertise. There is also an impressive list of links featuring resources like artists materials suppliers, museums, galleries, art fairs, emerging artist on-line web sites, other art blogs and how to blog sites which I found helpful in getting started You would be hard pressed to find an artist who believes more strongly than I do in the value of gallery representation. I am not interested in making sales from my presence on the web. There is no a shopping cart with the exception of the Amazon widget which I use to recommend books and dvd’s related to the posts. It is not meant to be a profit center. The very purpose of art blogging in my opinion is to just make the art community larger. I have met artists from around the globe through the blog. “Why sit in a bar with a small group of artist (i.e. cedar tavern) when you can connect to the world with a computer. There’s just one catch…you can’t be afraid to talk to strangers!”

I am more interested in promoting work I am moved by and sharing interesting articles and links (and also my own in a very passive way – there are two slide shows of my work on the site) because many artists don’t have the financial means necessary to employ an agent or pr firm.

Favorite Posts:
One of my most popular posts was about marketing for emerging artists. I also recently posted a pod-cast of an interview with Chelsea gallery owner, Ed Winkleman who shares my emerging artist marketing philosophy and is interested in blogging for the purpose of sharing. I could not speak more highly of the gallery and the integrity of Winkleman. He admits he started the blog for self-promotion but it has grown into a site with a large following of artists as well as collectors to connect.

What google and blogging has lead to:
I found Art Rent and Lease last June in a google search when Bridgehampton gallery owner, Gideon Stein and I had a conversation about renting art in a soft buyers market. When I searched the topic I was lead to a start-up company based in Portland OR which now has over 700 works in inventory thanks partially to spreading the word through my blog.
I have paintings exhibited in the Art Rent and Lease on-line gallery ( and currently 20 paintings of mine are now in offices in NYC all earning a monthly income. While the corporations enjoy a monthly tax exemption, my work is in the public eye and providing an income so I can afford to work part-time in the MBFA gallery and have more time to continue work in the studio and share my thoughts and resources in the blogosphere.

That's it in a nutshell, wthe how and why of blooging for me. Look for Pat Rogeers article in this week's Southampton Press about the internet and how it touches the lives of artists.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The interview with Ed Winkleman at Bad at Sports pod cast is informative for every emerging artist. If you don't have a full hour to hear it all, advance to the 40 minute mark and listen to the last 20 minutes. Ed gives solid advice for emerging artists seeking representation.

Click Ed Winkleman advice for the emerging artist to access his interview at "bad at sports"

and Mary Boone interview to see hear her talk about herself her career in art.

To Purchase New Book, "MITCHELL", refer to the right hand margin BLURB widget

See my published books