Thursday, July 7, 2011

Full List of 60 Artists in the Vatican Exhibit Celebrating 60th Anniversary of Ordination

I recently visited the Vatican's "Lo Splendore Della Verita, La Bellezza Della Carita," ("The Splendor of Truth, The Beauty of Charity."  Before visiting, I was curious who the sixty artists were, but I was unable to find this information online. For this reason I am publishing the list here.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Vatican Sessantannale? 60 Famous Artists From Around the World Celebrate the Pope's 60th Anniversary of Liturgical Service

Starting July 4th 2011, the Vatican will host an exhibit of sixty famous artists from around the world at its Paul VI audience hall to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's ordination to the priesthood. (1)

Besides the importance of the unprecedented exhibit itself, it is important because it sets the foundation of the Vatican's future cultural policy. The exhibit may be used as a kind of laboratory to experiment with how to communicate the Vatican's message through modern art. This experimentation may center around questions about just how abstract or representational effective modern religious art should be. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, expressed the problems facing such modern religious art exhibits back in 2009 by saying "some will accuse us of giving credit to 'depraved' art and others will criticize our selection as being too 'religious.'"(2) The Holy See will need to navigate a middle path, and this sixty artist exhibit will help them to figure out how to do this.

Why is this particularly important now?.....................Venice Biennale 2013, the first in which the Vatican will participate.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ai Wei Wei's Release, a Cause for Mitigated Celebration

Ai Wei Wei, a Chinese artist who used his art to criticize the Chinese government, was released under strict conditions on Tuesday after months of imprisonment. The Chinese reported that the arrest was for "tax evasion," and certainly had "nothing to do with human rights or freedom of expression."(1) (2) 

Photo from Ai Wei Wei's "Fuck You" series
Considering the nature of Mr. Ai's works, such as the one above, and China's history of human rights and freedom of expression abuses which Ai was combatting, it is quite obvious to outsiders that this is a blatant lie. But, what I find particularly revealing is this video by The Guardian which interviews people in Beijing about his release. In the video citizens try to sidestep the issue without sounding too critical of the government, as one would expect, but apparently they 'didn't get the memo' that "it wasn't about freedom of expression."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Copywrong-- a Few Words on Carriou v Prince

By: James Fletcher

Photographer Patrick Carriou successfully sued the "appropriation artist" Richard Prince for Prince's use of Carriou's photographs in eight works of "appropriation art" which sold for a total of over ten million dollars.(1) The result of the suit was a ruling that "[Richard Prince] shall..deliver up for impounding, destruction, or other disposition, as [Carriou] determines, all infringing copies."(2)  The second result was a stream of commentaries. The positions of these commentaries, either in favor or in opposition to the result of the case, seemed to be decided mostly based on what the author thought about Prince's art.

The infringement of copyright in the production of art mostly hinges upon whether the use was transformative-- transforming the original meaning through commentary-- or derivative-- relying on the purpose of the original without making a commentary on it. Upon first seeing Prince's work I assumed Prince was making some kind of commentary on the anonymity of the subjects of anthropological photos and the importance of context. (A good comparison between Prince's work and Carriou's original is here). I set about preparing to write a commentary along these lines.
Then I read this in the documents of the case:
"Prince testified that he has no interest in the original meanings of the photographs he uses....Prince testified that he 'doesn't really have a message' he attempts to communicate when making art. In creating the paintings Prince did not intend to comment on any aspects of the original works or on the broader culture."  (3)
Wait wait wait................REALLY!?   No, really!? THIS is what he said? 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Minipost: Pope John Paul II and Modern Art

The other day I was visiting the Vatican City when I saw the banner pictured below. What I first noticed about the image was how moving it was, particularly because it was such an intimate close-up depiction of the former Pope. Seeing so much of his face, I was able to ignore his position for a moment and see him as a person. A person whose face tightened up in a moment of reflection. A person whose individual strands of hair were pushed here and there by the wind.

What I noticed next was the form of the crucifix he was carrying during this moment of thought and reflection captured in an image that the church chose to remember him by. It was a bronze crucifix produced in not quite realistic form. It reminded me of the type of modern form employed in the statue dedicated to Pope John Paul II that I discussed in an earlier post. It seemed to me that there could be no greater testament to Pope John Paul II's approval of such modern form than this image.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Flip-Side of Cultural Diplomacy-- China's Exhibits of RomanticTibet

Cultural diplomacy through the foreign exhibition of art is an extension of diplomacy which is usually positive and uncontroversial. But as the example in this article shows, countries can and do use cultural diplomacy to manipulate foreign opinion in support of their foreign or domestic policy.

In October 2009 the Chinese government sponsored an exhibit titled "Snow-Covered Plateau--Chinese Painting Works" that was displayed for six days in Milan, Italy. The explicit intent of the exhibit was to showcase the region's "social and economic development in past 50 years," and therefore the benefits of "cooperation" with China.(1) The purpose of having this exhibit in Italy instead of in Tibet or Beijing logically must have been to garner support for the cooperation between Tibet and China and to divert popular support for the cause of Tibetan independence, which has significant support in the rest of the world. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Design of the Rubells' Upcoming Contemporary Art Museum in D.C.

The foundations or patrons funding art museums are aware of the importance of image. Because of this, the architecture of the museum is often chosen to make a statement. Most art museums are examples of "modernist" architecture, which can be characterized by its clarity and simplicity. The upcoming Rubell Contemporary Art Museum in D.C. ,which is still in development, can be considered an example of "post-modern" architecture, which can be generally described as eclectic. Is this an official endorsement of postmodern architecture, a style which has remained somewhat controversial since its beginnings in the late 1970s, by the contemporary art establishment and a shift away from modernist architecture?

The patrons of the new museum intend to keep the original facade of the Randall School in Southeast D.C. which was built in the "early 20th Century."(1)(2) Preliminary plans show that within this facade there will be dramatically modern architecture, although the firm Bing Thom Architects is still in the development phase.(3)  This composition of modern within old style closely compares to an example of postmodern architecture, the Harold Washington Library in Chicago.