Art Monthly 355: April 2012

Art Monthly cover
John Smith

Interviewed by Mark Prince

On Drawing

Christopher Townsend

On Painting

David Ryan

Whitney Biennial

Kathy Battista

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John Smith 'Hotel Diaries' Pyramids/Skunk 2006-07


Waiting Game

John Smith interviewed by Mark Prince

John Smith has been exploring structural materialist fimmaking with a rare wit since the mid 1970s when he produced his seminal The Girl Chewing Gum. Here he discusses self-imposed limitations, hybrid narratives and why it takes so long to make apparently simple films.

'I am trying to work backwards and forwards between an involvement in the illusion and making you aware that what you are looking at is a construction. Unlike many of my contemporaries in the 1970s, I have a love/hate relationship with illusionism rather than just a hatred of it.'


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Gordon Matta-Clark Conical Intersect 1975


On Drawing

Christopher Townsend touches on the physicality of drawing

Renaissance artists considered drawing a way of communicating the maker's identity, and it remains an artform that is resolutely physical. Even the most apparently hands-off of artists, such as Donald Judd and even Gordon Matta-Clark, are drawn to reveal their corporeality through the medium – albeit at one remove.

'Donald Judd's fabricator drawings become scripts for a bodily performance by the worker who produces the object, with as much space as possible left open for interpretation: the artist's body vanishes, noli me tangere.'


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Katharina Grosse One Floor Up More Highly 2010


On Painting

David Ryan redefines the concept of the medium of painting to include time

Artists such as Katherina Grosse, RH Quaytman and Robert Holyhead reconceptualise painting beyond a simple objecthood, rightly treating its products as temporal phenomena – because surely painting implicitly embodies the literal experience of watching paint dry?

'It is remarkable how painting continues to be addressed simply as an object – almost as a token either within market economies, scenarios of globalisation, or caught in the fire of criss-crossing traditions, ideologies and allegiances. It is as though the time of making is still endlessly suppressed in any conception of painting.'



True Lies

When a fake Whitney Biennial website declared that the event was dropping its key corporate sponsors Sotheby's and Deutsche Bank because their 'recent corporate conduct has made it impossible for the Museum to maintain a partnership with them', the activists managed to dupe art-world insiders, which suggests a widespread if unexpressed desire for museums to reassert themselves and start calling the shots.

'For a hoax to succeed it obviously needs to be convincing, but even more importantly it must also tap into the public mood. In other words, for a hoax to be really effective it is necessary only that enough people want it to be true.'


The pros and cons of public and private funding is about to be put to the test as London-centric private investment in the arts is set to overtake public support; all ACE-funded organisations are to get measurably greener; good news for artist's visas; good news for grassroots arts organisations in Scotland; arts funding schemes are getting ever more eccentric; all the latest news on galleries, people, prizes and more.

Submissions: Send Artnotes info to



Stuart Brisley: Next Door (the missing subject)

John Douglas Millar

Happenings: New York, 1958-63

Katie Kitamura

Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan

Deborah Schultz

Andrea Zittel: Lay of My Land

Paul Usherwood

The Stuff That Matters. Textiles collected by Seth Siegelaub for the CSROT

Clive Phillpot

Social Fabric

Virginia Whiles

Lines of Thought

Cherry Smyth

George Meyrick: Simple Matters

Gill Hedley

AV Festival

David Ryan

Whitney Biennial 2012

Kathy Battista



Art Gangs: Protest & Counterculture in New York City

Kathy Battista on an alternative view of the 1980s New York art scene

'The nuances are found in information that only someone involved with these groups could articulate. For example, he writes: "The Art Workers Coalition was a political organisation, not an artists' project. Yet the GAAG [Guerrilla Art Action Group] was an artists' project, and 'doing politics' was their primary purpose."'



Experimental Film Round-up

Maxa Zoller encounters a spooky turn in London film screenings

'Spectres are haunting Europe: ghosts of bygone political struggles mingle with zombie capitalism. Projected onto the screen the film image turns into a ghostly medium that unconsciously exorcises, embodies and returns to – guess what – the repressed.'



Liberate Tate and Platform: Tate à Tate

Morgan Quaintance follows an alternative Tate audio guide

'Liberate Tate and Platform are encouraging us to look at things differently, and with Tate à Tate, a portable piece of cultural activism for the modern age, their message has the potential to reach, engage and politicise a much wider audience.'



Sucking on Words

Michael Hampton on Information As Material's sonic poetry event

'The performers in Sucking on Words were intent on releasing the sonic potential in language and, by situating their work on the discoherence barrier where meaning starts to fail, revealed an Orphic content in words usually blotted out by their application as the cold tools of ideology and management systems while, at the same time, showcasing the voice as a dynamic interface between gut, larynx and language centres of the brain.'



Art Workers

John Douglas Millar digs into the art world's reliance on the low paid

'That institutions are under financial pressure is undoubtedly the case; that those on the lowest rung in the tapestry of these great democratic palaces of art should suffer most is as disappointing as it is unsurprising.'



Enjoying the Ride

Colin Gleadell on how auction houses are catching the swell

'The contemporary art market looked remarkably stable, unaffected by global economic uncertainties, as nearly £186m was spent at London's February sales, only £1.5m short of the equivalent sales last year and comfortably within the pre-sale estimate of £142/214m.'


Contracts & Moral Rights

Authenticity Certificates

Henry Lydiate on the rise in artwork authenticity guarantees

'Public and private collectors and art market professionals have started to request certificates of authenticity to accompany the transfer of ownership of works. What are they, how are they used, who provides them and what is their legal status?'



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