Posts Tagged 'UWA-research-stripe'

Polly Apfelbaum

This post is not quite stripes, not quite weaving.

I came across Polly Apfelbaum’s work while searching on stripes. Her room of stripes can be seen at http://www.artcritical.com/2014/06/02/david-cohen-on-polly-apfelbaum/ and http://cliftonbenevento.com/files/2013/04/APF_TheArtBlog_June2014.pdf. There are striped rugs on the floor and striped wallpaper on the walls. The stripes appear quite wide, creating a different visual and physical effect to those of say Jim Lambie (see 15-Apr-2014). Noreen Kress described the experience – ” the spatial boundaries of the architecture begin to disappear, blurred by the loud stripes of color. Complementary color choices paired side-by-side create visual tension—oranges buzzing against pale blues, vibrating with cool purples. In other moments of the painting, analogous colors rest next to each other, sharing a calm and gentle harmony. I reveled in the feeling of the undulating colors beginning to absorb and transform the physical boundaries around me—a feat of installation attempted by many and fully realized by few” (Kress 2014).

Lambie’s stripes made me acutely aware of every slight variation in the boundaries of the MCA gallery floor. Apfelbaum’s appear to dissolve the boundaries of the space.

However given my recent post on the interaction of weaving structures and non-textile art (see 4-Oct-2014), Apfelbaum’s recent exhibition A Handweaver’s Pattern Book, at Clifton Benevento is fascinating – see http://cliftonbenevento.com/files/2014/05/APF_artinfo_June2014.pdf. Almost any weaver reading this will recognise the reference to Marguerite Davison’s book first printed in 1944. This classic book is devoted to four shaft weaving patterns. Although the photos are monochrome and sometimes dark or blurry, and the notation method is different to the modern forms and tricky at first, the book is an absolute treasure trove.

Apfelbaum has taken inspiration from those photos and notations to create something quite different. Using a found punch-card Apfelbaum has created new patterns, drawing through the punched holes using marker pens, creating structured patterns on rayon synthetic velvet panels. Apfelbaum has referred to the works as “conceptual weavings”. There was a basic approach (a Serial Attitude?), a framework and method, but variations depending on mood, age of the marker (new or running out of ink), the thoughts of the passing moment. There are grids on the panels and the panels themselves are hung to form grids. As well as the fabric panels there are hanging beads that Apfelbaum has made, like marks that have fallen off. Altogether the works create an environment. Apfelbaum describes it as the viewer “walking in a painting” (quoted in Indrisek, 2014).

As a weaver I respond to the patterning, the sense of structure I see. There is wonderful variation in colour, and given the work is still textile there is drape and an expectation of hand. The idea of beads extending the work is a lovely piece of whimsy.

Again I am thinking of my weaving, my studies, potential paths, how to challenge and push myself…

References

Indrisek, S. (2014) Polly Apfelbaum Gets Up Off the Floor [online] Available from http://cliftonbenevento.com/files/2014/05/APF_artinfo_June2014.pdf (Accessed 2-Oct-2014)

Kress, N. (2014) Seeing stripes–a celebration of Gene Davis at Temple Contemporary [online] Available from http://cliftonbenevento.com/files/2013/04/APF_TheArtBlog_June2014.pdf (Accessed 2-Oct-2014)

Exhibitions: Lines in Lane Cove

My final assignment in Understanding Art 1 – Western Art is with my tutor, so I have a small window of time to catch up on some exhibitions and events seen during the year.

Cove Lines March 2014

Cove Lines
March 2014

Cove Lines was one of a number of events in Lane Cove as part of Sydney Art Month. A community project, gallery staff conceived the display and developed a series of instructions. Students and staff at the community art centre, together with passers-by in the local plaza, followed the instructions to print banners, leading to the display in the Gallery Lane Cove forecourt shown here. According to accompanying material the curators, Felicity Martin and Laura Carey, were “inspired by the conceptual art practices of artists from the 1960’s like Sol Lewitt, who forged a new way of looking at art and the production of art”.

Upstairs in the Gallery was Grid Line Pattern: a serial approach. Also curated by Martin and Carey, this exhibition title was a reference to ‘A Serial Attitude’, a 1966 essay by Mel Bochner in which he “identified artists who were working in a serial way, ie, they were concerned with the repetition of a standard unity, where the aesthetic was the result of this process”. The artists included in the Lane Cove exhibition all worked with standard units of some kind, but continued to make aesthetic decisions throughout the making.

Wendy Kelly

Wendy Kelly
Mixed technique on canvas
http://www.wendykelly.com.au/


Wendy Kelly showed a number of large canvases. The colour is rich, varied in detail, and intense. The patterning is very subtle. I believe Kelly stitches into the stretched canvas to create linear patterning and rhythms, then layers pigments, tissue paper, glazes etc to create the final luminous surface. An essay on Kelly’s website references the traditions of weaving and to me it certainly reads as weaving patterns on a very large scale. Kelly’s PhD work led to a publication “Abstraction and its Processes: An Historical and Practical Investigation into Abstract Visual Language”, and the Amazon blurb includes “Kelly demonstrates that her own highly process based serial imagery is seated within what is termed as the fourth generation of Abstraction, and addresses the current concerns of non-representational art”. I wonder if she started in textiles, as a weaver, or if her interests in abstraction and serial process led her to weaving structures as a resource.

Left and centre - works by Wendy Kelly Right - Kate Mackay Cube Tower

Left and centre – works by Wendy Kelly
Right – Kate Mackay Cube Tower


Kate Mackay is "concerned with the exploration of pattern making and repetition. Her work has become progressively concerned with process, and random difference within uniformity." (from material provided at the exhibition). I found the installation shown above the most interesting of her work, as it led me to move around exploring and discovering new views through gaps strategically left. In a brief scan I found on her blog some references to gender considered practices and modernist painting practices, plus some work weaving paper – see http://kate-mackay.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/square-one-front-room-city-rd.html

Nadia Odlum Urban Moiré Studies

Nadia Odlum
Urban Moiré Studies


Nadia Odlum Perspex installation

Nadia Odlum
Perspex installation

Nadia Odlum was the third artist included in the exhibition. Nadia obviously works with optical manipulations and from material on her blog seeks to make the viewer “complicit in the questioning of their own mental and perceptual faculties.” (http://www.nadiaodlum.com/?page_id=31). The small studies shown above were clear plastic boxes with lines applied on the surface, and different broader striping on the back. Similar ideas on a larger scale were used in the installation also included in the exhibition. The interacting stripes and shadow shape space in a way reminiscent of traditional cross-hatching in drawing, and of course as a weaver I saw many connections to textile work as well. On her website Odlum includes some photographs of stripes added to the environment using coloured tape (see http://www.nadiaodlum.com/?page_id=647). An intensified awareness of space and location is created, the applied lines echoing lines found in the envionment.

Ruth Feeney XXXXX

Ruth Feeney
XXXXX

Also part of Art Month in Lane Cove was a work by Ruth Feeney – “inspired by domestic textile crafts like knitting and quilting, XXXX explores methods of pattern making through the repetition of a singular unit” (from the exhibition blurb). I would of course add weaving (in particular block weaves) as textile work repeating units.

All of the exhibition had me thinking of my weaving, my studies, and all the potential paths ahead. Thinking of Bocher’s Serial Attitude – how important to me is the process, the repetition of weaving? Can I use some of his ideas as a starting point for some kind of weaving exploration? Kelly’s work had me thinking about scale. A weaver spends so much time designing structure that is often invisible to the casual observer. Can I scale up weaving to bring those structural considerations to the fore? All the artworks seen above have clear links to textile work – but none are textile work. How committed am I to textiles versus textile processes?

UA1-WA:Research: The Stripe – The Devil’s Cloth

The Devil’s Cloth: A history of stripes and striped fabric by Michel Pastoureau looks at all things striped in Western societies from the Middle Ages onwards. For my current research project I am focusing on the use of stripes in art and on any symbology of stripes that may be of interest to an artist, so this post is not a review or summary, but a collection of ideas about stripes that may be relevant.

Vengence of Chiomara French 15th-16th century Bibliothèque nationale de France

Vengence of Chiomara
French 15th-16th century
Bibliothèque nationale de France
http://mandragore.bnf.fr/jsp/feuilleterNoticesImage.jsp?numero=77&id=37947&idPere=3

The medieval viewer, “particularly attentive to the materiality and structure of surfaces” (p. 19), was disturbed by stripes, which disrupted the standard reading of levels in an image. The stripe was used on images of outcasts and deviants. From this came many years of stripes indicating perjorative status.

Surfaces could be plain, patterned (eg with a regular distribution of fleur de lis), striped or spotted (irregular distribution). Striped and spotted were uncomfortable, with checks an intensified form of stripes.

Development of stripes: Medieval – two alternating colours, equal widths, rarely vertical; Later – not only two colours, not always equidistant; vertical, celebrating life after the plague (p. 42); aristocratic – sophisticated, tasteful, fashionable (p. 41). Different forms of stripes could express different value systems – if wide and high contrast, the prisoner or gangster; if narrow and pastel or lower contrast, elegance.

Early persons associated with stripes: Fortune, turning the wheel of destiny; Carmelite monks; Joseph (striped breeches); bastards; serfs; condemned; prostitutes; infirm; inferior occupations; ignominious trade; non-Christian; black Africans – servants or Magi (see for example Veronese The Adoration of the Magi, 1581 at Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden) – savages.

The heraldic stripe: Stripes are a basic unit of heraldry, with many variations. A coat of arms provides “signs of identity, marks of possession, and ornamental motifs all at the same time” (p. 26). If stripes are balanced in number (a partition) it remains a single plane; if unbalanced (pieces) the surface breaks into figure and background. Interestingly Pastoureau finds that there are few if any negative connotations when stripes are included in the blazon of a real individual, only a link between illegitimate family lines and stripes in a certain direction. Those created for imaginary or literary characters are more likely to use stripes to suggest wrongdoing or flaws of character.

Heraldry is a description of form rather than a particular physical creation. This seems to link with the more conceptual use of lines in art, such as LeWitt’s notations which can be implemented by assistants.

Domestic stripe: Heraldry –> Livery –> Domestic (also inferior connotation) and also–> Uniforms

The romantic, revolutionary stripe: impact of the American Revolution; French revolutionary stripe (link to against establishment?) –> patriotic stripe.

The maritime stripe: Used in identifying ranks, in jerseys, sails (a connection to wind) and flags. Then by association we have the sea –> seashore (the sea-side a less constrained venue, so can risk a stripe) –> sports, leisure and health. see for example Eugène Boudin Trouville, La Nourrice (circa 1885, http://vksart.com/artists/eugene-boudin/trouville-la-nourrice-1885/).

The protective, hygenic stripe: Stripes exclude – prisoners in striped uniforms behind bars – but those same bars guard and protect. We see striped pyjamas and underclothes – protection next to the body. These are often pastel colours, close to the undyed cloth that was once seen as most clean (given the source of some dyes).

The stripe and children: Protective, seaside and sports or games all lead to a connection with children. We see freshness, youthfulness, gaiety, playfulness – happy, healthy, dynamic and summer-like.

Stripes reveal and conceal: Stripes can play a trompe-l’oeil role. They disguise, fool the eye. I see a link as well to shadows, camouflage and concealment. Stripes also filter, such as shutters (linking back to protection).

The identifying stripe: athletic teams, students, corporates, military.

The warning stripe: Following the idea of the protective stripe, we see warning and forbidding stripes – often red and white. Pedestrian crossings, police tape, slow, detour, stop. Gates and fences form stripes – they are a guide and an obstacle. They can be agitating.

The stripe and music: Musicians (minstels) were travelers, on the fringes, often seen dressed in stripes. The musical staff and the strings on an instrument form stripes. Stripes and music can both produce rhythm and flow.

More stripes: ladders, railroads, the furrows from plowing, lines of telegraph poles, barcodes, combs (setting in order), tallies. Stripes are a warning of disorder and a form of putting in order.

Properties of stripes: a structure and / or a form; in perpetual motion, animating; disturbing; attracting attention (used by artists in compositions to direct the eye); ambiguity (in small amounts); passage from one state to another; intrigue and captivate; energize; brighten; make rooms larger (vertical) or lower (horizontal); create rhythm; association with wind and movement.

Weaving stripe: Claiming “striped fabric is very much subject to the constraints of weaving methods” (p.54) Pastoureau makes a link between the introduction of technology, such as spinning machines and the Jacquard loom, and the spread of stripes. I can’t accept a direct link – the technological impact was on productivity and industry, not the fundamental structures which can produce stripes – but there could be indirect impact via availability and cost of cloth.

bluelineThe bellringing line: This is my addition, not included in Pastoureau’s book. In changeringing the order in which the bells are sounded is varied in specific orders called methods. The structure of a method can be expresses in a notation such as &-36-14-12-36-14-56,12. That can be expanded into a diagram showing each change with all the bells, and the path of a particular bell is indicated by a line – known as the blue line. (Diagram produced using the online method database http://methods.ringing.org/). It’s stretching from stripes to lines, but I find the conceptual and notational link relevant.

Pastoureau writes “not only does the stripe show and hide at the same time, but it is altogether the figure and the substance, the finite and the infinite, the part and the whole”, ultimately concluding “Too many stripes can finally drive you mad” (p.91).

References

Pastoureau, M., trans. Gladding, J. (2001) The Devil’s Cloth: A history of stripes and striped fabrics New York: Columbia University Press. (French edition published 1991)

For actual reviews of the book see:
Fyfe, J. (2003) “The Devil’s Cloth: A History of Stripes and Striped Fabric by Michel Pastoureau” artcritical: the online magazine of art and ideas April [online] Available from http://www.artcritical.com/2003/04/01/the-devils-cloth-a-history-of-stripes-and-striped-fabric-by-michel-pastoureau/http://www.artcritical.com/2003/04/01/the-devils-cloth-a-history-of-stripes-and-striped-fabric-by-michel-pastoureau/ (Accessed 25-Apr-2014)

Rule, V. (2001) “Vertical or horizontal, ma’am?” The Guardian 15 Sept [online] Available from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2001/sep/15/historybooks.highereducation2 (Accessed 25-Apr-2014)

UA1-WA:Research: The Stripe – Jim Lambie

Jim Lambie Zobop 2014   vinyl tape, varnish

Jim Lambie
Zobop
2014 vinyl tape, varnish


You imagine what you desire, the 19th Biennale of Sydney, is on at the moment and Jim Lambie’s work fills a large gallery on the ground floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). “Fills” is an interesting word, because it seems this work is all about space – making it move, stretch out, pull in, making it a huge pulsating mass. In the gallery I was conscious of moving through space rather like moving through water in a swimming pool – it was somehow more solid, more real, more present. The gallery space didn’t contain the work, it was made part of it. It’s a joyful, exhilarating and somewhat vertiginous experience to walk through the gallery.

lambie_04Lambie, or assistants, has created stripes on the floor using vinyl sticky tape. Taping started around the perimeter, and you can see here how it respond to the slightest jag in the line of the walls (and this gallery is very irregular in shape, full of jogs and nooks and crannies, interrupted by columns).

A strong conceptual base of “trying to fill a space while still leaving it empty” has been suggested of Lambie’s Zobop works (National Galleries Scotland, [n.d.]). Writing about another work (at Inverleith House Edinburgh) Lambie explained “covering and resurfacing objects” in his works could come from different conceptual bases – in the case of a striped floor “[it’s] primary concern was a more psychological description of architectural space” (quoted in Triming, 2003, p. 103). He goes on “of course, we can start to open up many layers which I believe exist within these works, but you have to start somewhere, and I think that most good art starts from a simple place”.

lambie_05Limek (2011) has found a joke in such works – “Lambie plays with the preciousness of the gallery space (Don’t touch the art! Oh, wait. You’re standing on it).”

It’s interesting and probably not really a coincidence that like Sol LeWitt (see 6-Apr-2014) Lambie has a strong interest in music (he’s a DJ) and also is happy for the individual Zobop works to be created by assistants – the concept is set, the architecture defines the work (although there are choices made during progress on colour and width of the next stripe) and “I don’t need to be there” (Lambie, in a great video produced in 2011 by Bass Museum – http://vimeo.com/30498019). In the same video Lambie describes the work as “a massive collection of edges melting and merging to make one whole”, which links to the commentary in the Biennale catalogue “…they all seem to dissolve, merging into a unified landscape of energy. Lambie’s floor installations are completely transformative and encompassing, yet transient, ending up as giant piles of twisted tape in the garbage” (Biennale of Sydney, 2014, p.183)

Can I find a message for weaving in Lambie’s stripes? Don’t begin by overcomplicating – find a start, ask a question. Perhaps it’s also to be less precious, to cut the handwoven cloth, combine it, use it, abuse it, be ready to throw it away at the end. Weaving is a tool, or a process, or a material – an input, not an end.

Jim Lambie Psychedelic Soul Stick

Jim Lambie
Psychedelic Soul Stick 68
2007 bamboo, wire, coloured thread, ladies necklace, green feather, Marlboro Light packets

Having done my duty by stripes and weaving, I want to show one of Lambie’s other works in the gallery.
lambie_03It’s an eclectic mix of found items, carefully listed (the spelling in the caption follows the gallery signage). I love the way the wrapping of the different objects unifies them, conceals them within those multiple very fine stripes of thread. It reminds me of Judith Scott’s work (see http://www.judithandjoycescott.com/ ), although at a different scale and from a different starting point. I know there’s a “reveal and conceal” section in the next Textile module, so perhaps I can take forward some of these ideas in future.

References

Biennale of Sydney (2014) “Jim Lambie” In You imagine what you desire: 19th biennale of Sydney Sydney: Biennale of Sydney Ltd

Limek, P. (2011) “Techno Colored: Jim Lambie at Goss-Michael” In D Magazine, May 4, 2011 [online] Available from http://www.antonkerngallery.com/system/press_pdfs/78/original/2011-05-04_D_Magazine_Lambie.pdf?1345756684 (Accessed 15-Apr-2014)

National Galleries Scotland [n.d.] “Jim Lambie” [online] Available from http://www.nationalgalleries.org/collection/artists-a-z/L/15903/artist_name/Jim%20Lambie/record_id/2335 (Accessed 15-Apr-2014)

Triming, L. (2003) “Jim Lambie: Low kick and hard bob” In Flash Art May, 2003 pp. 102 – 105. [online] Available from http://www.antonkerngallery.com/system/press_pdfs/83/original/2003-05_FlashArt_Lambie.pdf?1345757411 (Accessed 15-Apr-2014)

UA1-WA:Research: The Stripe – Sol LeWitt

As part of the final assignment I must produce an illustrated report of around 2,000 words on a subject of my choice. I have chosen The Stripe. Loom weavers spend a lot of time designing stripes or fighting / hiding stripes. There’s a lot more to weaving of course, but that fundamental step of warping the loom has you making decisions about all those parallel lines. Painters have so many options, yet for different reasons some choose stripes. In my initial list I have Barnett Newman’s zips, the stripe flags of Jasper Johns, the conceptual of Sol LeWitt, Bridget Riley’s op art, Daniel Buren, in Australia David Aspden (colour field)… Over the coming months I’d like to explore their approaches and along the way perhaps get some ideas or questions that have me approaching the loom differently.

The series of posts will be my research notes for the final report and as such they will be sketchy and incomplete, an overview of things I think might be relevant or that interest me despite being irrelevant.

Sol LeWitt Wall drawing #1091

Sol LeWitt
Wall drawing #1091: arcs, circles and bands (room)
2003 synthetic polymer paint
www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/
works/352.2011/

Non-geometric form (splotch) #3 – #6
1999 painted fiberglass

lewitt_02Starting with a bang – Sol LeWitt. The Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) has quite a large collection, much or all the gift of the John Kaldor Family. This work was first installed in the Kaldor residence. Imagine that as a room in your house. I think I’d furnish it with a single sun lounge and spend an hour a day basking in colour 🙂

Originally associated with Minimalism (not a label he would accept) LeWitt was a major theorist of Conceptual Art. In 1967 LeWitt wrote: “In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” (LeWitt, 1967) Start with an idea (simple is good). Choose a form (simple is good). Select some rules. Then the fewer decisions the better.

cubeFor example, select a cube. There are 12 edges in total (on the left of the diagram). That’s the basic form. You can take away an edge and still see it’s a cube, even if incomplete – so 11 edges on the right. What are the variations of an incomplete cube? That’s it – except I used too many words. LeWitt developed very terse but sufficient ways of documenting his concepts.

Sol LeWitt Incomplete open cube

Sol LeWitt
Incomplete open cube
1974 baked enamel on aluminium
www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/
works/349.2011/

Some of the results can be seen on the left. I find them … satisfying … to look at. They are crazy and obsessive. An irrational pursuit of a rational idea? Vice versa? When you start following the rules it turns out you need at least 3 sides – to give height, width and depth – otherwise it’s not an incomplete cube. Don’t you think that’s kind of a nice idea – plus that someone was focused enough to lay out 122 variations? (Bullock (2014, p. 21) records LeWitt consulted a mathematician when finalising the sequence).

It’s strange to see these incomplete cubes, each in a sense a separate (autonomous?) work, in a gallery setting. They now form a series, parts of a larger work, and the spacing between, the lighting and cast of shadows on the polished flooring, become part of the whole for the viewer.

lewitt_04Adding further complexity are the other works in the exhibition. On the wall in the background of this photograph is Wall structure 123454321 (1979) (www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/L2011.62/). A different but kindred idea, this time mounted on the wall in a hybrid not entirely three dimensional but not a flat surface way.

Work on the walls brings me back to focus on The Stripe – which I now see can refer to lines or bands.

Sol LeWitt Wall drawing #337’ and ‘Wall drawing #338

Sol LeWitt
Wall drawing #337 and Wall drawing #338
Both works 1971. #337 – pencil; #338 – coloured pencil
http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/350.2011/
http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/351.2011/

LeWitt wrote “The form itself is of very limited importance; it becomes the grammar for the total work. In fact, it is best that the basic unit be deliberately uninteresting so that it may more easily become an intrinsic part of the entire work. Using complex basic forms only disrupts the unity of the whole. Using a simple form repeatedly narrows the field of the work and concentrates the intensity to the arrangement of the form. This arrangement becomes the end while the form becomes the means.” (LeWitt, 1967). A straight line makes an ideal basic unit.

lewitt_06On the AGNSW website the full title of one of the works above is “Wall drawing #338: Two part drawing. The wall is divided vertically into two parts. Each part is divided horizontally and vertically into four equal parts. 1st part: Lines in four directions, one direction in each quarter. 2nd part: Lines in four directions, superimposed progressively.” A diagram drawn on the wall next to the work shows how this has been implemented. At the bottom are the four directions and colours of line used, with identifying numbers. Above are the combinations of lines used in each section of the work.

lewitt_07My detail photos of the wall drawing are very fuzzy, so here I’ve shown a page from a book with a related sequence. The book is included in the current AGNSW exhibition Sol LeWitt: Your mind is exactly at that line (www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/
exhibitions/sol-lewitt/
).

The work invites viewing as a sequence. Haxthausen (2012, p. 17) suggests that LeWitt felt “thwarted by the nature of the easel picture as a single synchronous image, a spatial rather than a temporal structure”. Adopting a serial approach, and the wall, LeWitt challenged this. (Another approach, seen for example in works on Arachne, is to combine scenes of multiple times in a single picture – see 8-Jul-2013).

Kaiser (1992) wrote “LeWitt employed [abstraction] with a view to simplifying, rendering unambiguous, even encoding visual language. He sought a kind of basic vocabulary, in the fashion of musical annotation”.

lewitt_10

lewitt_09This first piece of research is already testing the borders of my topic. The thumbnail on the right shows Wall drawing #1274: scribble column (horizontal), graphite (2006). The detail at the left shows it is indeed “scribble”. In LeWitt there is line (often straight and orderly), band, grid (superimposed straight line), and in this example disorderly line organised into forming orderly line. Probably I’ll find very few if any artists whose works remains entirely within “the stripe”. I should still be able to find a range of approaches within those who use stripe on occasion.

Bringing a weaverly eye to the discussion, the simplified notation appears equivalent to a pattern draft, which gives an unambiguous, succinct description of structure.

Fairbrother (1992) wrote “LeWitt’s serial exercises produce objects for contemplation that may strike views as both structurally intriguing and abstractly beautiful, regardless of whether they understand the guiding parameters and variables”. That’s more of a challenge for weaving. The structure which is so important to the weaver is generally not even seen, let alone understood, by the viewer. Scale is clearly key here, but also the underlying sequence and basic unit – not just line but the unit of the draft – is virtually never revealed to the viewer. That could be an interesting sequence in a “New Weave” type exhibition.

In much of loom weaving a lot of calculations and decisions are made up front, with little decision making during the execution – although as a weaver I would say the final outcome is generally a very important part of the process, and rather than being cool and without emotion like some Conceptual Art, the tactile nature of cloth and all its cultural meanings (wrapping / protection…) make emotion of some kind almost inevitable. lewitt_08 The focus on the concept supported LeWitt’s practice of allowing assistants to realise works following his written instructions. I happened to be at AGNSW while the current exhibition was being prepared and took this photo of work on LeWitt’s Wall Drawing 604H, cubic rectangle with color ink washes superimposed (1989). The two men were working as fast as they could, one working from the bottom the other from the top, rubbing on the ink. As they finished one gave feedback, presumably training, looking for even more speed and a slight change in rubbing technique. lewitt_11The thumbnail at the left shows part of the finished work a month or so later.

There can be similar division in design and execution in weaving – Liz Williamson (see 24-Nov-2012) is one example of a highly experienced and proficient weaver who frequently has her designs realised by others. I suspect this is more a matter of time management than a basic conceptual division of process.

Fuschs writes of LeWitt’s “precise, lucid principles”, that he “ceased to rely on inspiration and coincidental impulses”, and “it is a way of doing and approaching without a real aesthetic premise” (Fuschs, 1992). The further I have gone with this investigation, and despite finding a few parallels, I think in the end LeWitt’s objectives make no sense at all in the weaving world – just a meaningless coincidence of a basic form. Perhaps we arrive there from different directions. Kaiser suggests “this extreme reduction [straight lines] was countered by an expansive use of the basic elements as a regularly repeating module” (Kaiser, 1992). Weaving isn’t a reduction to straight lines, it builds from them – so always expanding?

From Fairbrother (1992): “LeWitt’s first structure announced his reciprocal concerns to reduce subjective expressivity and to give the clearest exposition of ideas concerning basic form, modularity, gridding, stacking, extending, containing, repeating, and amplifying. To these ends he exercised the strictest economy with regard to color, surface, texture, and shape”. Obviously there was later development, particularly in color and shape, but again this seems totally opposed to most weaving. What would weaving look like if one tried to bring the same concerns? Can there be weaving without surface or texture? On the other hand Bonin (2012, p. 35) suggests “LeWitt exemplified his interest in two-dimensionality, in the plane’s physically flat surface. Gradations in wall texture became gradations in pencil lines. Subtle changes in the wall’s surface are made internal to the drawing’s form. The surface fluctuations lend the work a gentle dynamism, as if a barely noticeable, sheer cloth has been swept over parts of the wall”.

Some more brief notes and thoughts:
* “Successful ideas generally have the appearance of simplicity because they seem inevitable.” (LeWitt, 1967). True in so many areas! A lot of thought and effort is needed to achieve strong, simple, obvious, even “inevitable” results.

* “New materials are one of the great afflictions of contemporary art.” (LeWitt, 1967). I’d say that’s very relevant to today’s textile work. There are really exciting new materials and tools and techniques coming available all the time. The trick is to use them meaningfully, to take them beyond ‘look at this flashy new thing’ (“gaudy bauble”, as LeWitt put it).

* Scale. LeWitt devotes a paragraph to scale and placement. I’ll have more on that in an upcoming post.

* LeWitt’s comments about art. First a selection of sentences from 1971:
“10. Ideas can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. All ideas need not be made physical. …
17. All ideas are art if they are concerned with art and fall within the conventions of art.
18. One usually understands the art of the past by applying the convention of the present, thus misunderstanding the art of the past.
19. The conventions of art are altered by works of art.
20. Successful art changes our understanding of the conventions by altering our perceptions.”
The above I take to provide an overall understanding of what art is and how it changes over time – or at least a conceptual form of art. In his Paragraphs LeWitt mentions that this isn’t for all artists. Sentence 18 seems very relevant to art history studies. I wonder about the magnitude of misunderstandings due to time compared to all the other differences in context and knowledge when viewing works. Elsewhere LeWitt comments that the artist can’t control a viewer’s perception and also that the artist may perceive another’s work better than his/her own. I suppose that links back to the difference between conception and perception.
Another LeWitt statement, originally from 1974 and reprinted in Fairbrother (1992): “Each person, being different, conceives of art differently. There is no high or low art or good or bad art, but different kinds of art to satisfy the aesthetic needs of all. Whatever one understands to be art is art”.

References

Bonin, C. (2012) “Between wall and paper: rethinking LeWitt’s wall drawings” In Haxthausen, CW (ed) (2012) Sol LeWitt: The well-tempered grid. Williamstown: Williams College Museum of Art, pp. 27 – 43.

Bullock, N. (2014) “Sol LeWitt: An overview and a preview” In Look 0414 Sydney: Art Gallery Society of New South Wales, pp. 20 – 23.

Fairbrother, T. (1992) “Sol LeWitt’s drawing and the art of ‘logical statement'” In Singer, S. (ed) (1992) Sol LeWitt drawings 1958 – 1992. The Hague: Haags Gemeentemuseum.

Fuschs, R. (1992) “Sol LeWitt” In Singer, S. (ed) (1992) Sol LeWitt drawings 1958 – 1992. The Hague: Haags Gemeentemuseum.

Haxthausen, CW (2012) “The well-tempered grid: On Sol LeWitt and Music” In Haxthausen, CW (ed) (2012) Sol LeWitt: The well-tempered grid. Williamstown: Williams College Museum of Art.

Kaiser, FW (1992) “Drawing as notation – or just as drawing” In Singer, S. (ed) (1992) Sol LeWitt drawings 1958 – 1992. The Hague: Haags Gemeentemuseum.

LeWitt, S. (1967) “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” originally published in Artforum, June 1967. [online] Available from http://radicalart.info/concept/LeWitt/paragraphs.html (Accessed 22-Mar-2014).

LeWitt, S. (1971) “Sentences on Conceptual Art” originally published in Art Now 3 (2), 1971. [online] Available from http://radicalart.info/concept/LeWitt/sentences.html (Accessed 23-Mar-2014).

UA1-WA:Research: The Stripe – Sol LeWitt
Understanding Art 1 – Western Art
Review: The Stripe
Research: Sol LeWitt


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