Thursday, February 26, 2009

But is it Art?

Temporary, Large Scale Environmental Installations
I’ve heard Christo’s artwork described disparagingly and I just want to go on record: I’m a HUGE fan of their work. "They" decided to use just the name “Christo” for simplicity’s sake, but the truth is that Christo and Jean-Claude have had a collaborative partnership throughout their careers, which has lasted 50+ years.

From the beginning, C/JC had a novel, dramatic idea, something that had never been seen, done, or even imagined before: using the earth itself as a canvas for a piece of art. Just as avant-garde was their intention that their “monumental” installations would be temporary. Part of the artwork, and the experience of viewing the artwork, is the knowledge that it exists for a limited time.

In fact, they have been vigilant about restoring the landscape to what it was prior to their installation. There are two exceptions: For the Valley Curtain installed in 1972, the owner of the east and west slopes asked to leave the foundation there as a memento. The contract stated that if, within 20 years, the landowners wanted the curtains removed, Christo and Jean-Claude would do so. More than 20 years have gone by and the curtains are still up. The other exception was the Surrounded Islands. Before their fabric installation, workers removed 42 tons of garbage off the beaches. They never brought the garbage back.

Art isn’t just the thing you hear or see or touch; it is also your response, your reaction. I find it hard to understand how someone could not appreciate the beauty, the drama of Surrounded Islands or Pont Neuf Wrapped, Valley Curtain or The Gates in Central Park. They are the very definition of “spectacular.”

Spencer Tunick
“His medium is people, ordinary people.”
Spencer Tunick has made naked people part of his artistic statements. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of naked people. I’ve only seen one “natural” installation, on a glacier in the Swiss Alps (brrr). The rest of them are in urban environments, and his humans might be standing, sitting, or looking as if they had tumbled from the sky. The juxtaposition of naked humans against some phenomenal backdrops – a stadium in Vienna, a public square in Mexico City – makes for a jarring, dramatic visual statement: these fragile, somewhat funny- looking creatures have tamed and conquered and then re-created their environment.

I am in awe, not just of the concept, but of the execution: getting thousands of volunteers to show up, cooperate, and drop trou!
The Spencer Tunick Experience
Blog - “Obvious” with some great photos

Jason de Caires Taylor
Underwater Canvas
Jason Taylor has created the world's first underwater sculpture park on Moilinere Bay on the west coast of Grenada, an island in the Lesser Antilles. The 65 sculptures are installed across an area of 800 square meters. Visitors need to dive to be able to view the works.

Art will become nature, and nature will become art. The sculptures are a permanent installation, and they will become artificial reefs for corals, algae and sponges, eventually creating environments for fish, turtles, etc. The Grenadian Ministry of Tourism and Culture supported Taylor’s project, and the mysterious and beautiful figures celebrate Caribbean culture and history.
Underwater Sculpture
More pics and review at art.commongate

Using the earth and the ocean as a canvas, using humans as the medium. Is it art? I say yes, yes, and yes.

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