Art

From the hot spot MeToo, reflecting on the development of feminist art

The recent spate of women’s marches and MeToo movements have shaken up the art and culture industries, and with the frequent revelations of sexual assault, we are once again focusing our attention on the subject of feminist art. Art institutions around the world are increasingly focusing on women artists, and major solo and group exhibitions of women artists are coming up. Join us today for a look at the development of feminist art!

The Emergence and Development of Feminist Art

Feminist art is an important artistic trend that has emerged in the Western art world, reflecting the demand of some female theorists and artists to change the previous spheres of social life and male-dominated cultural phenomena in order to reconceptualize women themselves and the relationship between gender and culture.

Women’s Affirmative Action Movement

We usually divide feminism into two phases: the first wave of feminism, which took place between the 19th and early 20th centuries, centered on the struggle for women’s voting and civil rights, while the second wave of feminism, the feminist movement that emerged in the 1960s, was more broadly concerned with women’s access to more jobs and education, while emphasizing women’s sexual and family rights. Driven by the latter, awakened “new women” took to the streets to protest society’s unfair employment policies and oppressed family status and sexual freedom. This led to the emergence of women’s art as part of the second-wave feminist movement, in which women artists formed groups and held exhibitions with the intention of subverting the male-dominated discourse of art history.

Strictly feminist artists did not emerge until the 1970s. Female artists represented by Anna Mantilta, Eleanor Antin, Carolee Schneemann and Judy Chicago created impressive feminist works. Among them, American female artist Judy Chicago’s installation “The Dinner Party” can be said to be very representative. 1979 “The Dinner Party” was first exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Art, and this installation, which records 1,038 ancient goddesses or prominent women in Western history, mainly consists of a large equilateral triangular banquet table with each side 48 feet long, the triangle symbolizing women and the equilateral sides symbolizing equality. The triangle symbolizes women and the equilateral sides symbolize equality. Each side of the equilateral triangle is divided into 13 units, each equipped with a tablecloth embroidered with a woman’s name and a graphic related to her contribution, a napkin, a dinnerware set, a wine glass and a 14-inch diameter round painted ceramic plate. The 39 plates represent 39 prominent women in various fields from ancient Greece to the present, corresponding to the embroidered names. 39 plates are directly painted with female genitalia, like butterflies or flowers, and gradually change from flat to high relief in order from ancient to modern times, symbolizing the elevated status of women. The 13 women in each group who share the meal correspond to the 13 male saints of the Last Supper, elevating women to the same status as men, a heroic hymn to women. The names of another 999 prominent women are inscribed on the white ceramic floor of the equilateral triangular table known in Chicago as the “Heritage Floor” to show how many women stand behind the 39 famous women. Clearly, the work demonstrates the outstanding contributions that women have made to society from ancient times to the present, and by celebrating women, it is hoped that women will be given equal status with men and that the desire for equal rights for humanity will be realized. Politically, this work undoubtedly challenges the oppression of women under male domination in a radical way, and works to preserve the spiritual heritage created by women throughout history. At the same time, in the social context of the time, the message of this work itself is evidence of the rise of contemporary women’s art.

Judy Chicago, installation “Dinner

Today, feminist art has become an important branch of contemporary art. Feminist art represents, to a certain extent, the voice of a vulnerable and repressed group, and is an attempt to deconstruct a male-centered society. Following the second wave of feminism feminism began to take a new turn, it no longer places special emphasis on a confrontational nature, but shows women’s own joyful experiences and feelings, and feminist art has received a new interpretation.

Feminist Art Expressions

With the development of society, the topic of “feminism” has gradually been taken seriously and has become a focus of constant attention and debate. For example, on February 22nd of this year, an international symposium on “Contemporary Chinese Women’s Art” was held at the Tate Modern in London, England, co-organized by the Tate Center for Asian Studies and the Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, as part of the exhibition “Emergence: Women’s Voices in Chinese Contemporary Art. This international symposium on “Chinese Contemporary Women’s Art” was held at Tate Modern in London as part of the exhibition “Emergence: Women’s Voices in Chinese Contemporary Art. The exhibition, which spanned the entire United Kingdom, opened up more possibilities for understanding women’s art. At a time when men dominate the discourse of society, women’s voices are often ignored and drowned out. Instead, female artists have created many artworks with distinctive characteristics of the times through their perceptions of the changes of the times and their reflections on society and themselves. These works are undoubtedly representative and epoch-making in themselves, and they can arouse people’s spiritual resonance and shock.

Andrea Powers, “Marianne is a Trans-Feminist (originally from a poster for the French National War Loan, painted by Georges Scott, 1917),” 2018, price: $55,000

The 1970s was the heyday of contemporary art, and feminism found its place and avenues of appeal in the pluralistic structure of post-structuralism. It was also the most glorious time for feminist art, and many famous feminist artists emerged, emphasizing a female perspective, and their works were full of resistance and rebellion against the patriarchal center. For example, Yoko Ono’s “Slice” is one of the representative works: she sits on the floor and invites the audience to cut off her clothes piece by piece with scissors, and finally she appears naked and trembling in front of people’s eyes. There is also a female artist, Oran, who kept doing plastic surgery until her originally beautiful face became very scary. And each cosmetic procedure was filmed and toured the world. These are all excellent works of feminist art, and what they have in common is that they are fighting against a history of women being watched. Feminist art of this period is critical and in some ways can be used as a way of visual criticism of feminist theory.

Yoko Ono “Slice

Each time, people see a different Oran because the stage she performs on is the operating room and the show she performs is silicone surgery.

When it comes to the expression of feminist art, the connection with “sex” is inevitable. The emphasis on sexuality in early Western feminist art had its own special historical background. 19th century Europe was influenced by the severe religious sexual confinement of Victorian England, which imposed harsh requirements on virginity and chastity and discriminated against women; strict monogamy for life and divorce was not allowed even for couples with completely broken relationships; masturbation was considered a blasphemous sin; talking about sex was not allowed, and scientific research and artistic creation related to sex was not allowed. The sexuality-related scientific research and artistic creation were not allowed. For this reason, people were generally subjected to heavy sexual repression. This situation did not fundamentally change until the 1950s and 1960s, when society continued to treat the female body as a tool to serve men and children, and female sexual experience remained off-limits.

Later, as performance art and performing arts expanded in the contemporary field, many female artists used their bodies to interpret women’s control over their own bodies and minds. German artist Rebecca Hong uses her body as a prop to reach into the individual’s spiritual world through photography, video, and performance. One of the artist’s representative performance works is “Unicorn”, in which she wraps her naked body in cloth and exaggerates a long horn on top of her head to show a kind of extended body. This work is called “Body Sculpture”. The way the artist handles her body shows a kind of psychological tentacle, which makes people reflect on the relationship between the human body and the identity of public space. But at the same time, when female artists use sex to express their thoughts, those inappropriate acts of nudity and privacy revert back to the initial state of being voyeuristic, which is always a contradictory existence, and female art continues to develop.

Rebecca Hong “Unicorn

What exactly is feminist art saying?

In the field of art, the creators, curators, collectors, and viewers are usually men, and women are valued more for their roles of being created, viewed, and consumed (a situation that did not gradually loosen until the 1960s/1970s). This imbalance, this network of unequal power relations, is deeply rooted in human consciousness and culture. Feminist artists’ focus on female sexuality and their sexuality challenged previous societal notions of the affirmation of male sexuality and the female body as a mere vehicle for the transmission and satisfaction of male sexuality.

My Bed” by Tracy Emin

In both traditional social life and artistic expression, the female body is mostly viewed and satisfied by men, making women shy away from feeling and expressing their own bodies. However, the female genitalia, as an important part of the female body, is closely linked to women’s lives and spiritual emotions. Early feminist artists were particularly concerned with the physical basis of gender construction because they believed that the fundamental difference between male and female art was the difference in the perception of the body. Feminist art is, in part, a phenomenon in which a female performance artist uses her own body as a prototype for performance and expresses her ideas through performance and makes the audience understand and reflect on them. It is a reflection of the state of life from a woman’s perspective and a reflection on life, thus presenting the demands of women themselves. The transformation of the female body from being viewed to active self-viewing is a construction of female consciousness and a reflection on male power.

Entering public space was a common feature of women’s art and women artists in the 1970s. Women’s art was increasingly exhibited in public spaces such as museums, parks and squares, and women artists increasingly entered some large public projects to create art. However, this does not mean that women can no longer create individually. Women’s entry into public space is not because they want to enter the masculine system by recognizing male characteristics and wanting to be like men, which is against the original purpose of feminist art.

Today, feminist art is much more than simply a question of gender equality; it is more broadly linked to the social contradictions caused by race, class and other minorities, and is a contemporary practice that allows more voices of the “other” to be heard and true human rights to be liberated. As Simone Beauvoir put it, “The nonsense men invent to keep women in a state of oppression is not a question for women to emphasize that they are women, but a question to become fully human.”

Feminist Art Today

As we enter the 21st century, women’s art, despite its diversified appearance, has a generally similar trend: it weakens the confrontation between genders and instead seeks to express women’s unique ways of observing and experiencing the world, or to leave behind the constraints of gender and devote itself to the exploration of humanity in its universal sense. In terms of content, there is a decline in the use of sexual objects or direct expressions of violence or non-violence against women, replaced by recognition of women’s way of life and behavior, and deeper exploration of women’s individual inner world.

Ariel “Choke

Although in reality there are still some female artists who cater to power capital, making their erotic works generally present a situation of creation according to men’s visual aesthetic standards and perspectives and for their psychological needs. They have not succeeded in establishing an effective erotic interaction between themselves and their works, in order to break the trap that erotic or erotic depictions have been monopolized by the male gender. However, in recent years, we can also feel a new trend emerging in women’s art creation: more and more women artists are involved in thinking and creating in the current socio-political dimension. For example, Yan Yinhong’s performance work “One Man’s Battlefield” is a metaphor for the suppression of women in the power society with a nearly crazy dance, and finally, the image of a police officer hidden in the lower half of her body is shown in an upside down position. This is a typical work that critiques the social ecology through the body, and at the same time is branded with feminist characteristics.

This is undoubtedly a direct challenge to the patriarchal society in the form of art, and is a more prominent manifestation of feminist art, but from the perspective of art history, where many contemporary female artists truly distance themselves from male artists is in the reconfiguration of the structure of viewing. With the intervention of female artists’ subjectivity, the use of the female figure, especially the female body, as a viewing object, and the control and possession of the male audience over women safely hidden in elegant artworks, has been fundamentally subverted. The tradition of objectifying the female body in Western art history has continued from the Classical period and continues to dominate art production in modern art in various variants. As John Berger points out in “The Way of Seeing,” “the female body as object is not a subject matter but a form.”

Cecily Brown’s work

Feminist art has been developing for nearly half a century, but either because of preconceived prejudices or because of its own novelty, social standards and artistic mechanisms have always been harsh and severe in their evaluation, but this does not prevent feminist art from moving forward. confidence. Regardless of its profound historical function and practical mission, feminist art has at least changed the pattern of artistic existence with its pioneering and avant-garde nature.

Today, at the market level, the status and attention of women is soaring. The Tate has welcomed its first female curator and planned two of the three major solo exhibitions this year for female artists, namely American video and performance artist Joan Jonas and Bauhaus artist and textile art pioneer Anne Albers, all of these phenomena show that female art is increasingly valued by society.

Conclusion

Feminist art should express works with feminist spiritual connotations, rather than being limited to the formal level of mere nudity. Female artists should not be confined to the established male-dominated ideology but should look for socially meaningful expressive content, and on the premise of both focusing on the real life state of women without being bound by these kitschy ideas, so as to make some art works with practical and effective The future of feminist art will continue to develop as people pay attention to women as a whole and reflect on some social issues.

How Global Art Festivals Drive Art and Public Connections

The question that the public often asks about art is: Why do artworks that seem so simple and random sell for so much? Does it have any special value? In the past, the art world actually did not care about how the public understood and evaluated artworks. Because the art market has formed a closed loop: artists, critics, painters and collectors. In recent years, however, the public’s evaluation has become increasingly important. If a work is collected by a public-oriented gallery/museum and recognized by the public, the artist’s value will multiply. A gap has also opened in the previously closed art circle, and art festivals serving the public’s art needs have been popping up around the world.

An Island Reborn by the Festival

Seto Inland Sea International Arts Festival

The Setouchi International Arts Festival in Japan has been held every three years since 2010. The main venue for the festival is on several small islands near Takamatsu City in Kagawa Prefecture, Japan. These islands are scattered across the turquoise blue Seto Inland Sea, and the festival invites renowned artists from around the world to create works based on the local environment of the islands, attracting visitors and art lovers from all over the world.

Vision of Seto Inland Sea, Japan

However, a few decades ago, the Seto Inland Sea island group was not a paradise. These small islands of the Arts Festival sacrificed their ecological environment to develop industry. These islands were once the heart of the birth of Japan’s industrial miracle, and fishermen who had lived by fishing for thousands of years went into the copper smelting industry as a result of the industrial development of the Meiji Restoration. As the industry grew, the surrounding environment began to deteriorate. For example, Naoshima Island became bald and forested because of the sulfite gas released from the refining process, and Toshima and Inujima were contaminated with industrial waste and sulfite gas. As the environment deteriorated, the island’s industries declined, and young people left the island in droves. In this way, the island’s economy continued to decline and aging became more and more serious, and it was about to become an abandoned island. At that time, the Fukutake Foundation of Japan bought the southern part of Naoshima Island and invited famous artists such as Tadao Ando to design art museums and hotels on the island, such as the Benesse House Museum, the Jidaka Museum of Art, and the Ando Museum, etc. Since then, the Setouchi International Art Festival project, which restores the original beauty of the Setouchi Islands and revitalizes the local economy, has been in operation. The Setouchi International Art Festival is now in operation.

The island’s art museum

The island’s art museum

The island’s art museum

Soichiro Fukutake has dissected the reason for the island’s high level of aging is that young people feel that their hometown is not vibrant, not attractive, and not worth staying, so they are leaving in droves. However, Soichiro Fukutake feels that people on the islands live very happy lives, unlike people in big cities who have long daily commutes, work overtime, and have a low sense of well-being.

From this, two main lines of the Setouchi International Arts Festival gradually became clear, the first of which is to use the power of modern art to reinvent the charm of the island. Although the festival is held once every three years, the exhibition period is long, spanning spring, summer and autumn, with different artworks open in different seasons, giving visitors a new experience each time. The island’s artwork is also all-encompassing, the product of a collaborative effort by artists from more than 180 countries.

The second is to tap into the island’s local flavor and revitalize local culture. After the success of the island museum, architects such as Tadao Ando came up with the Empty House Project. The project hopes to rely on the original old houses on the island and renovate them to show the local style and stories. In addition to renovating old houses, local islanders are also actively involved in the creation of the festival, transforming their houses into restaurants and promoting the unique local food culture.

Seto International Art Festival Iconic Sculpture, Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkin

In this way, the Setouchi International Arts Festival, with its unique charm, has seen an increasing number of visitors, from 970,000 in the first edition to 1.04 million in the recently held third edition. According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the third Setouchi International Arts Festival has boosted the economy of the island and the nearby Kagawa Prefecture, with visitors staying longer and spending more, and the overall economic pulling effect was 13.9 billion yen, an increase of 5% percentage points compared to the 2013 edition.

After years of development, Naoshima, the largest island in the island group, is now known as a mecca for art. The island is scattered with works by well-known artists, and the local islanders have become an important backing force for the festival. Young people who love art have come to the island, and the whole island has become thriving and vibrant.

Some happy, some sad

The failed Sapporo Arts Festival in Japan

Seeing the cultural and economic impact of the Setouchi International Arts Festival, various parts of Japan have followed suit, however, following the trend does not guarantee success, and the Sapporo Arts Festival in Japan, for example, has fallen far short of the expected impact.

Sapporo International Arts Festival Poster

After the first Sapporo Arts Festival in 2014, a lot of reflections and criticisms sprang up on the Japanese internet: the Sapporo Arts Festival was not lively enough and did not have the atmosphere of an arts festival. Sapporo citizens did not have a sense of involvement in the organization of the festival. The promotion of the festival in Sapporo was not consistent and lost its strength halfway through. The first Sapporo International Arts Festival in 2014 was planned by artist Ryuichi Sakamoto, who proposed the theme “From now on, let’s consider how to make the city and nature coexist. ” was the theme of the festival. However, this theme was entirely the artist’s own idea, and the local people neither participated nor resonated with it. This left the festival suspended in the air and lost its appeal. This is in stark contrast to the Setouchi International Art Festival mentioned above, which places special emphasis on the participation and recognition of local residents and has formed a special volunteer squad, led by local residents, with volunteers from various localities working together to help make the festival run smoothly.

Sapporo International Arts Festival Live View

The first failed Sapporo Arts Festival in 2014 did not stop there; in 2017 it relaunched, inviting musician Ryoei Otomo as the chief planner and reflecting on the current situation where arts festivals are blossoming everywhere by proposing a new theme: “What is an arts festival really about?” Unfortunately, this second Sapporo International Arts Festival still did not have the desired effect. Although the number of venues for the second Sapporo International Arts Festival increased from the original 18 venues to 45 venues, the number of visitors dropped from 480,000 in the first edition to 370,000. Many visitors expressed disappointment about the festival. The artworks were too crude, not moving and shocking, but instead began to wonder if they really deserved to be called artworks. Some visitors pointed out that the festival seemed to have borrowed a lot from successful examples such as the Setouchi International Art Festival in order to make up for the shortcomings of the previous one, and copied their models without any new ideas, and there was a suspicion of plagiarism.

Some of the exhibits at the Sapporo International Arts Festival

Some of the exhibits at the Sapporo International Arts Festival

After two consecutive failures, the Sapporo city government was chastised by local residents for squandering tax money willy-nilly without achieving the desired results, and there were strong calls to hold the mayor and the festival planning department accountable. The example of the Sapporo International Arts Festival proves that the festival is not a 100 percent success plan.

Systematic European Art Exhibitions

Venice Biennale and Documenta Kassel

The Venice Biennale has endured for a hundred years and is one of the oldest surviving exhibitions in the world. From the first edition in 1895, it has experienced changes such as the World War and witnessed the development and changes of contemporary art. The Venice Biennale can be said to be the source of the current biennials blossoming all over the world and is also known as the Olympics of the contemporary art world. The international reputation of the Venice Biennale has grown, and the number of visitors from all over the world has increased from 224,000 at the beginning to about 500,000 today. The Venice Biennale consists mainly of the exhibitions in the national pavilions and more than forty parallel exhibitions. On the small island of Venice, almost all the space that can be used for exhibitions is decorated with artworks. The Venice Biennale and China also have a deep connection. Thirteen Chinese artists were invited by Oliva, the chief curator of the Venice Biennale in 1933, and ten years later, Chinese contemporary art occupied an exclusive Chinese pavilion at the Venice Biennale. And by 2017, the number of Chinese exhibiting artists reached a peak of over 300.

The greatest charm of the Venice Biennale is that it is possible to see the development of modern art from all over the world in one venue, becoming a platform for artists, collectors and art lovers from all over the world to exchange ideas. Behind this successful platform, there is also a mature system of operation. The Venice Biennale Organizing Committee is responsible for the overall operation and execution of the Venice Biennale. The Organizing Committee’s funding comes mainly from government grants, the collection of exhibitors’ fees and sponsorship income. However, for the participating artists, the fees paid to the organizing committee are not much, and most of them are paid to the local service providers in Venice. For example, in some categories, exhibitors are restricted from bringing in their own exhibit workers and have to hire local workers at high prices. There is also the cost of hiring exhibition staff and the escalating cost of hotels, food and transportation due to the art exhibitions. It can be said that Venice, a small city on the water, is dependent on the service industry, and the Biennale is the benchmark of Venice.

In addition to the Venice Biennale, another major European art exhibition, Documenta Kassel, has also developed over the years as a result of its development. Documenta is held every five years in the German city of Kassel, and each exhibition lasts for one hundred days, also known as the 100-day museum. The first Kassel Documenta was established in 1955 by artist, teacher and curator Arnauld Bode as part of the Bundesgartenschau (Federal Horticultural Show), which was intended to summarize the early modern present from the 19th to the early 20th century and attracted a total of 130,000 visitors. Its original purpose was to bring German art up to date with the world’s contemporary art, while also critiquing the dark side of Nazi culture.

Two installations by Vlassis Caniaris (1928-2011), “Hopscotch” and “Coexistence”, are on display at Documenta in Kassel

Documenta always adheres to its academic orientation, with a five-year cycle that gives artists at least 1-2 years to create their works. At the same time, unlike other art fairs, Documenta does not accept applications from artists or recommendations from galleries and other art commercial organizations, and its artworks are selected and invited worldwide by a dedicated curatorial team. The entire planning and preparation process is rigorous and meticulous, giving the curators enough time to think and polish, ensuring that the curators’ academic ideas are not infected, and that the entire Documenta has a serious tone, rather than simply bringing artists and enthusiasts together to revel. It has become an important coordinate of international contemporary art, the focus of attention in Western culture, and a mirror image of the times in Western society.

Iconic Exhibit at Documenta 2017 in Kassel: The Parthenon of Books by Marta Minujín

Like the Venice Biennale, Documenta Kassel has changed the story of a city. Kassel was originally an industrial and military city that was bombed into ruins during World War II. The only large city in the northern part of the German state of Hesse is uniquely positioned to develop a base for art exhibitions. With approximately 106 square kilometers and a population of nearly 200,000, the city has enough space for art exhibitions, as well as a local restaurant, accommodation and transportation system to accommodate visitors from all over the world. On the other hand, Kassel has a strong cultural tradition, with the city’s landmark statue of Hercules built during the Renaissance. Thanks to Documenta Kassel, the city has become a city of culture and art.

The most recent 14th Documenta took a step beyond Germany’s borders and opened a section in Athens as well. Chief curator Adam Szymczyk proposed a budget of 37,000,000 euros, and the actual money spent exceeded this figure, making Documenta one of the most expensive visual art exhibitions in the world.

Both the Venice Biennale and Documenta Kassel have developed a complete exhibition system and support system due to their long development time and profound accumulation, and have become world-renowned examples of art exhibitions driving cities.

The Dilemma of South America – Sao Paulo Biennial, Brazil

Founded in 1951, the Bienal de São Paulo is the second oldest biennial in Brazil after the Venice Biennale. The São Paulo Biennial was initiated by Francisco Ciccillo Matarazzo Sobrinho, an industrialist of Italian descent, who was also the president of the Biennial until his death in 1975. Since 1957, the fourth edition has been held in the pavilion of the Biennale, designed by the architect Niemeyer. Like the Venice Biennale, the São Paulo Biennale also chose to combine a national pavilion with an international exhibition. However, unlike Venice, São Paulo Biennale does not have separate national pavilions, but rather has all the national pavilions distributed in one large space. In this way, there is no competition between different countries for favorable pavilions, and to a certain extent, a fairer and more pure environment for artistic discussion is created. The specificity of the São Paulo Biennial stems from its geographical location – Latin America, away from the traditional European centers – and is one of the few art exhibitions in developing countries that has a great global impact and prestige.

The history of the São Paulo Biennial, however, is more difficult. For one thing, the biennial has not received much support from the local government, and for obvious reasons. Brazil, once one of the BRIC countries along with China, India and Russia, is now economically stagnant and heavily in debt. The Brazilian government cannot afford the high operating costs of cultural institutions, and even the cultural program for the Olympic Games has been cancelled due to funding problems. Therefore, the São Paulo Biennial is in a very bad situation. Compared with the strong government financial support behind Documenta in Kassel, Germany and the Venice Biennale, the São Paulo Biennial enjoys less than 10% of the financial aid. The huge scale and expenses have to rely on private and corporate sponsorship.

Poster for the 2016 Sao Paulo Biennial, Brazil, on the theme of existential uncertainty

In addition to the financial troubles, the São Paulo Biennial came to face a volatile political situation. This conflict reached its peak in 2016, immediately after the closing of the problematic 2016 Olympic Games, which was followed by the Brazilian Biennale. During the Olympics, the Brazilian public was extremely vocal in its opposition to the government’s spending of large amounts of tax money to host the Games, disregarding the living standards of the local population. At the time, politician Michel Temer automatically took office without being elected and with the support of the military. He removed Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president in office at the time, and tens of thousands of people took to the streets during the Brazilian Biennale to protest and demand Temer’s ouster. President Temer had also proposed at the 2016 G20 summit to abolish the Ministry of Culture to balance the fiscal deficit. The dramatically volatile political situation and the government’s reduced cultural investment have overshadowed the Brazilian Biennale.

Gabriel Perez-Barreiro, chief curator of the 33rd edition of the São Paulo Biennial

And this year Brazil will welcome the 33rd Bienal de São Paulo, from September 7 to December 9. Chief curator Gabriel Perez-Barreiro wants to use the Bienal as an opportunity to rethink the way the Bienal is organized, and he has invited seven artists to create seven different exhibitions based on this year’s theme: “Affective Affinities He invited seven artists to create seven different exhibitions based on this year’s theme: “Affective Affinities” (Affective Affinities). Let’s wait and see what kind of surprises the Brazilian Biennale will bring to us in this seamy survival.

The Abstractionists Lead the oil Painting Market, What Makes the Unreadable Paintings Sell so Well?

Among the most expensive paintings at auction in the world, abstract art is a common sight. When this unintelligible painting sells for hundreds of millions of dollars, one wonders: how can a work that looks like anyone can paint be so valuable? Today, let’s enter the world of abstract painting and understand the mystery!

Abstraction fever in the auction market

In today’s auction market, abstract miracles are not uncommon, and various auction data show that abstract works have become a trend to sell. On the evening of May 15, Christie’s New York 20th Century Art Week “Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale” was held. Among them, Kazimir Malevich’s abstract painting “suprematist composition” in the form of consultation price auction, $60 million starting, $76 million hammer, plus commission finally sold for $85.81 million, about 537 million yuan, a world auction record for his works, but also the most expensive Russian art.

Kazimir Malevich “Suprematist Composition

Just a few days ago, on the evening of May 9, the second evening auction of the Century Sale – “The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller” – went under the hammer, with 41 lots covering Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe and Willem de Kooning, among other outstanding American artists of the 20th century. The second sale of the “Rockefellers’ Collection” was completed with 41 lots. Among them, de Kooning’s late abstract work Untitled XIX sold for $14,262,500, making it the highest priced work in the auction.

De Kooning’s Untitled XIX

Zao Wou-ki’s paintings sold in Paris galleries 20 years ago for no more than $50,000, but nowadays, whenever they appear on the auction block, they generate records in the tens of millions of dollars. On the evening of May 27, 2017, the sale of 29.09.64 at Christie’s Hong Kong ended up at HK$152.86 million, putting Zao’s works in the “Billion Dollar Club”. Zao Wou-ki’s “fever” was particularly intense, not only witnessing the vibrancy of the Asian modern art market, but also highlighting Zao Wou-ki’s charm as a reigning figure in both the Eastern and Western art worlds. A few months later at Christie’s Hong Kong Autumn Auction “Evening Sale of Twentieth Century and Contemporary Art”, Zao Wou-ki’s “29.01.64” sold for HK$202.6 million after 13 minutes of bidding, setting a new personal record for the second time in 2017. The last time this record was rewritten was only six months ago. Successive auction records were set, and each time the improvement was more than 35%. This is, as Christie’s Asia’s International Director of Twentieth Century and Contemporary Art Zhang Ding Yuan said, “In the art trading market, Zao Wou-ki’s best era has clearly come.” And it also represents, to some extent, the onset of the abstract painting boom!

Zao Wou-ki, 29.09.64

Unreadable = expensive?

The explosion of abstract art is most strongly evidenced in the auction market. Data from major auction houses show that abstract works have always been at the top of the “pyramid”. In the world’s most expensive works at auction, abstract art has the highest price, ranking first. But at the same time, abstract art is very contradictory, many people feel that it is not beautiful and unintelligible, but many others feel that abstract art is one of the greatest achievements of human art.

What is the rationale for abstract painting being so expensive? The reason lies in the logic of art history, and the logic of capital is to follow the logic of art history. Indeed, abstract painting no theme, no characters, no narrative, no plot, only color combinations plus dotted lines, the godfather of American abstract expressionist art, Greenberg once said, is because of abstract art, the concept, theme, characters, narrative from art completely removed, art has become pure and clean, art is the real art, art is no longer reduced to a political tool, bending to what the main theme and the pursuit of positive Only then will art become pure and clean. Abstract art is the “flat revolution” of painting, the sum of formalist painting, and the highest achievement of modernist art.

The earliest abstract art works were painted by Kandinsky around 1910, which is only a little over a hundred years ago. Since China’s modern art is dominated by realism, most people can’t understand abstract art, because of the lack of abstract aesthetic awareness training.

Abstract art was the ultimate goal of Western modernist art pioneered by Cézanne, and the greatest achievement in the history of Western modernist art. However, abstract painting is not so easy to understand in the West, even for the ordinary viewers living in the same cultural soil, but it is an artistic and cultural progress. In the twentieth century, Western artists who cherished freedom began to explore breakthroughs, trying to get rid of the traditional concept that painting must imitate nature, thus gradually formed abstract oil painting. As Arsene Polibny added, “Although the value of abstract painting cannot be underestimated, it has still not become an integral part of popular culture”. For the Chinese audience, Western modern abstract art is more of a heavenly book that is difficult to decipher. For the Western audience, the main reason for not understanding abstract art is the professional barrier; for the Chinese audience, besides the professional barrier, there is a more important reason for the difference in worldview and way of thinking.

From the above analysis, we can see that it is not because we can’t understand the abstract oil painting that its value becomes high, the reason for the high price of the painting and the meaning of the painting itself is inseparable. We often say we can’t understand abstract oil painting, but if we quietly appreciate it, we believe we can always understand its essence!

The development of abstractionism

Abstraction is the relative concept of figuration. It is the concept of extracting the common denominator of many things and synthesizing them into a new concept, which is called abstraction. Abstract painting is a general term for the 20th century painting style that wanted to move away from imitating nature. In the 1930s and after World War II, various forms derived from the concept of abstraction became the most popular and characteristic art styles of the twentieth century. The development of contemporary Chinese modern abstract art and contemporary Chinese abstract Chinese painting is mainly in two situations. One is the exogenous “East-meets-West” contemporary abstract art, which is mainly the Chinese modern art and contemporary art with reference to the Western contemporary art system.

Palisade” by Willem de Kooning

Abstract painting is based on intuition and imagination, and rejects any symbolic, literary or illustrative expressions, and only synthesizes and organizes shapes and colors on the screen. Therefore, the pure form and color presented in abstract painting is similar to music. The development trend of abstract painting can be roughly divided into: geometric abstraction (or cold abstraction), which is based on Cézanne’s theory and developed through Cubism, Constructivism and Neo-Formism. It is characterized by a geometric tendency. This school of painting can be represented by Mondrian; the other is lyrical abstraction (or hot abstraction). This school is based on the artistic concept of Gauguin, developed by Fauvism and Expressionism, and has a romantic tendency. This school can be represented by Kandinsky.

Kandinsky’s “White Line Composition

In fact, since the 1980s, the development of Chinese abstract painting has always had a reference system of Western abstract art. The internal reason is that, after the end of the “Chinese Cultural Revolution” in 1976, the art world began to emerge from the “Cultural Revolution art”, to get rid of the cultural function of art serving politics and mainstream ideology, and to gradually restore artists’ creative freedom and rebuild art The external reason is that, since 1978, the art world has been in a state of flux. The external reason is that since 1978, the Chinese government has implemented the economic development strategy of “reform and opening up”, and the economic reform that came along with the “emancipation of the mind” inevitably faced the challenge of learning from the West in the field of culture and art. It is in this context that the emergence of abstract painting in China has at least a double significance: one is to restore the creative freedom of artists and reshape the ontological value of art. The other is that, due to the elitism, individualism and cultural rebellion spirit of Western abstract art, the emergence of abstract painting in China also had the cultural enlightenment color of rebellion against autocracy, desire for liberation and call for freedom from the very beginning.

Zao Wou-ki, 24.12.2002-Diptych

Some people regard Western modern abstract art as the opposite of traditional realistic art, and think that abstract art is a betrayal of realistic art. We should know that, although abstract art and realistic art are so different, but the two have a lineage of inherent connection. In essence, Western realistic art and abstract art are the products of rationalism, the difference between the two is only the difference between Newton’s classical physics and Einstein’s modern physics. Abstract art represents the new achievements of Westerners in the age of industrial civilization in exploring the universe and its mysteries by means of modern science. In a strict sense, abstract art, like realistic art, is not a subjective fabrication of the artist; it is a true representation of the objective world.

Mondrian’s work “Composition A

Future value trend prediction

If abstract art has its special characteristics, then it lies in its more open scope. In terms of a narrow “abstraction”, we can’t seem to find the beginning and the end of its history, and it’s hard to cover the motives and purposes of artists with one or two ideas. It seems that there is always something called abstraction, and under the same name there are many different artists such as Kandinsky, Mondrian, Koonin, Pollock, Miro, Malevich, Fontana and so on. From this level, the evaluation of the value of abstract art works, the creation of the motive, the purpose of the grasp is more important, which is also the difficulty of the evaluation of abstract art.

Jackson Pollock, No. 5, 1948

As a style of art that has always been mind-boggling, abstract painting has been unprecedentedly hot in the foreign auction market, while in China has been a cold door. With the rebound of the domestic auction market, as well as the continuous drive of the foreign abstract market, before in the domestic attention less abstract painting category has been the attention of funds, including Zao Wou-ki, Zhu Dequn and other abstract painting master’s works in the domestic and foreign auction market repeatedly shot sky-high prices. Obviously, in the international art investment market occupies an important seat of abstract art, is hot in the Chinese auction market!

Jackson Pollock “14 in Grey

As for the current market trend of abstract style, curator Li Xu believes that the current urban construction mode is becoming more internationalized, and the design tendency of various public and private spaces is becoming more and more concise, the trend of abstract artworks occupying an important visual position under such a status quo is irreversible, which is an objective visual demand triggered by the overall living environment of the urbanization era. In addition, the continued development of the art market needs a new economic growth point, in a type of work sales rise and gradually become weak, as soon as possible to seek new profit points and value-added space will be the common direction of the entire market. Analysts said, China’s art market is ushering in the plate rotation era, in this sense, the domestic abstract art by the collection community “lag”, but also because of this “lag”, may be the achievement of abstract art collection opportunities.

If you’ve been paying attention to the abstract painting market, you’ve seen a gallery emerge at this point in time whose two founders are “the most unbeatable” art brokers. About a month or so after the duo was founded, Dominique Lévy, one of the world’s top contemporary art brokers, and Brett Gorvy, former Christie’s executive and chairman and international head of the Post-War and Contemporary Art department, immediately realized their first high-profile exhibition, a two-person solo show of Willem de Kooning and Zao Wou-ki Such a strong combination will be a powerful force in the future of abstract painting and will further enhance the market impact of the abstract school!

Brett Gorvy and Dominique Lévy of Lévy Gorvy Gallery

Conclusion.

With the market operation of auction houses and galleries, the aesthetic of abstract art is slowly changing for everyone in China, and the overall acceptance of abstract works in China has been increasing in the past two years. However, because the segment is not fully mature, some of the abstract works with value are complicated and difficult to interpret, which hinders their market recognition. But we believe that in the future development of the market, the abstract painting school will be more understood and accepted!

The Past and Present of Art Criticism

In the world of art, artists produce works, galleries and museums showcase them, and collectors end up buying them. Between these interlocking art gears, art criticism acts as a lubricant. Art critics are neither the creators nor the buyers of art; they connect art to its audience, being both an insider and a distance from all parties. Compared with other critics (such as film critics and book critics), art critics seem to be more mysterious. They are like shadows, always following the development of art.

The Origin and Development of Art Criticism

In ancient times, the opportunity to appreciate art was more often controlled by the elite class, and the general public lacked the opportunity to encounter art, let alone express artistic opinions. Therefore, it was not until the Renaissance that a number of detailed art analyses and critical essays on certain artists emerged. Prior to that, there were texts that resembled art criticism, but they were not systematic. The earliest art critical texts date back to the Cronica (1308-64), a work by Giovanni, Matteo and Filippo Villani, during the Renaissance.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, art treatises proliferated and offered many insights. Albrecht Dürer, for example, was the first art critic to state that “the Renaissance began in Florence, Italy,” and the first to analyze the intellectual emancipation underlying the Renaissance movement.

By the 17th century, theoretical criticism (theoretical art criticism) entered the picture, basing their analysis on reason and viewing art as the embodiment of the human creative mind. In the 18th century, the French writer Denis Diderot further expanded the medium of art criticism. His work The Salon of 1765 was the first attempt to portray artworks in written form. It was also during this time that newspapers and magazines began to create independent art criticism sections, and in the 1870s the Morning Chronicle became the first newspaper to systematically publish information about art exhibitions.

By the 19th century, artists were no longer working for religions or governments, but were free to create their own works, and private lives and everyday objects could be the subject of paintings, and sketches of paintings were allowed to be included in the list of works to be exhibited. As the art world became more liberal, tolerant and diverse, art criticism also blossomed.

Art Criticism Advances Art History

After centuries of development, a consensus gradually emerged on the content norms of art criticism articles, while the diversity of the objects of art criticism – the artworks themselves – was expanded. After World War II, the center of world art shifted from Paris to New York. As the center of art shifted, American art critics began to shine. At the time, the major American magazines were engaged in a war of attrition for the public’s attention, and the battlefield extended to art criticism. As a result, art criticism articles were printed and distributed to a wider audience with the mass circulation of magazines.

It can be said that the prestige of American art critics reached its peak in the 1920s and 1950s. Among the most influential of these critics were Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg. The two art critics, who were close friends of each other, were at odds with each other in their professional views, discussing the topic of “the maturation of American contemporary art,” proposing an analytical approach to abstract art, and successfully promoting the development of the abstract art movement in the United States.

 

Art critic Clement Greenberg is admiring a painting

Art critic Clement Greenberg is admiring a painting

The art critic Clement Greenberg, known for his theory of formalism, also introduced a new object of criticism, institutional criticism, and began to evaluate conceptual art.

Greenberg’s most significant contribution was his identification of derivative works of action painting and his recognition of the creative acts of artists. In his 1952 essay, “The American Action Painters,” he wrote:(The new American painting is not ‘pure’ art, since the extrusion of the object was not for the sake of the aesthetic. The apples weren’t brushed off the table in order to make room for perfect relations of space and color. They had to do so that nothing would get in the way of the act of painting.)”This statement directly confronts Rosenberg’s emphasis on the formal and technical nature of painting.

Greenberg is looking at a painting

For Greenberg, Abstract Expressionism was not a continuation of modern art, but a new beginning in art history. He believed that freedom was inherent in the creation of art, and that “the moment one decides to paint is the moment of greatness. Every movement wielded on the canvas was synonymous with liberation from political, aesthetic and moral bondage. Yet Greenberg did not choose to embrace subsequent artistic movements, such as Pop Art and Minimalism, and reflects his certain limitations.

Art critic Harold Rosenberg

On the other hand, the art critic Harold Rosenberg proposed abstract expressionism, along with support for action painters. Rosenberg’s art criticism has not only provoked thought in readers for its insights related to contemporary art, but has also directly influenced artists’ work. His critical essays have been called the cornerstone of understanding abstract expressionism, formalism, and “non-objective” art.

Artist Jackson Pollock is creating

Thanks to Rosenberg’s sensitivity and foresight in contemporary art, he had the good sense to discover the artist who would become famous, Jackson Pollock. Rosenberg first mentioned Pollock’s name in a 1943 art article for the magazine The Nation: I was surprised and gratified to discover Jackson Pollock’s abstract works that were not overly abstract. He was the first painter I knew who could convey a positive force through his busy colors, and his work can be said to profoundly embody the essence of American painting (There is both surprise and fulfillment in Jackson Pollock’s not so abstract He is the first painter I know of to have got something positive from the muddiness of color that so profoundly characterizes a great deal of (American painting.). “The professional and forward-looking nature of art criticism is exemplified by the career journeys of two outstanding art critics, Greenberg and Rosenberg. Their contributions influenced the subsequent decades of art criticism, and to this day their art theory is an inescapable topic of conversation in art criticism.

Has current art criticism gone stale?

In the past, people had the impression that art criticism was mainly about interpreting art and judging its aesthetic value, and the status of art critics was highly respected for their high insight into and art. At the same time, artists also accept the opinions of art critics, allowing a positive circular mechanism to form between art criticism and art creation.

However, art criticism, once highly revered, is losing its voice in today’s age. Art historian James Elkins has pessimistically commented, “Art criticism is dying, it is being mass produced and massively ignored.” He argued that art criticism was becoming uninteresting, losing its professionalism and losing its originality over the past twenty years. Art critics have become more like the PR heads of contemporary artists, galleries and art markets, becoming a part of the contemporary art machine that supports the constant stream of money it spits out. As a result, the commercial value of art exceeds its spiritual value, aesthetic, emotional, cognitive, moral and other intangible values. As a result, each work of art is displayed to stimulate collectors’ impulse to consume, just like mass consumer goods that are mass-produced to expand sales. The article of art criticism is more like a loudspeaker, in order to hype and corroborate the value of a certain artwork and thus attract collectors’ consumption.

Cartoons on the subject of art criticism

Art criticism has become less neutral, and we sometimes see art criticism articles in the form of propaganda copy. In addition, the influence of art criticism is not what it used to be. Artists and curators have become the biggest stars in the art world, and art critics, who were the gatekeepers, have been pushed to the margins. For example, the star artists, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, whose work has always been sought after by the market, with thousands of dollars pouring into their pockets, and whose work is still paid for by the market even when art critics write a critique of their art, the power of art criticism The appeal of art criticism has diminished. The value of a work of art is increasingly aligned with its final price, and the art critic has lost the control it once had: the art critic.

Art Criticism in the Wave of Change

With the development of technology and public art institutions, art has begun to move from the high halls to the masses, and the winds in the field of art criticism have shifted. In particular, the development of the Internet has brought art resources that were once scattered around the world within reach, while every Internet user has the opportunity to speak online and have his or her words seen by all. As a result, thousands of art-related articles are produced every day, including traditional news reports on an art event, art sections in magazines, exhibition brochures, observational articles on the art market and academic analyses of artworks, as well as a fragmented amount of art-related commentary online. Mixed and diverse, serious art criticism seems to be losing its presence in comparison to the well-presented and comprehensible art-related articles.

Cartoons on the subject of art criticism

At the same time, the bar for contributors of art articles is being lowered. Social networking platforms encourage users to share their personal feelings about a particular piece of art or exhibition. In a way, this implies that everyone can review art, share their own personal feelings and become an art critic. The entrance to art criticism has become wider than ever, and the boundaries of judging art review articles have become blurred.

On the one hand, this approach liberates the power that originally belongs to art experts to the public and frees up an infinite variety of perspectives on art. But on the other hand, the viewers, in the process of commenting, connect their own experiences and ideas to the artwork and the insights they get sometimes do not match the artist’s original intentions.

At the same time, on the Internet, the public’s communication with artworks and art critics is no longer the one-way flow it used to be. Those lofty and authoritative art criticism articles appear less and less frequently, and more young people choose to browse artworks and read short art reviews on their cell phones. In a way, the cell phone has become a mini-exhibition, and the decider of its content is ourselves. We can decide whether we want to follow an artist or let a genre’s work disappear into the mobile stream. We can also express our own attitudes by liking, retweeting and sharing.

In the face of the current mixed environment of art criticism, many people cannot help but lament that art criticism is dead. But the changing environment also holds a new development direction for art criticism. The current art scene is rapidly changing, and one cannot help but feel dazzled. In the midst of this massive output, the majority of artworks are merely mediocre, and people are desperate for someone to help them identify and sift through them. This has always been one of the functions of art criticism – to identify the quality and value of artworks, what is good and what is bad, in order to prompt artists to reflect and develop.

At the same time, as art becomes more and more popular, art critics have taken on a new function: popularizing art, encouraging more people to participate in art appreciation, distinguishing between good and bad, and prompting them to think. An art critic, in contrast to the general public, is a person with professional knowledge who builds on his or her own past experiences and cultural environment to evaluate a particular work of art or exhibition. Different art critics will again have different views and opinions on art works. Those who are curious about the art world can find another way of looking at the same work of art through art criticism articles, and the additional information that comes with art criticism can prompt the reader to think further about the meaning of the work.

Conclusion

Art criticism is like a mirror, calmly and objectively analyzing the development of this art from a third party’s perspective. Although more and more people have a channel to share their art views, there are few art critics who can truly have a voice and influence the direction of artists’ creations and the art market. The more art blossoms, the more we need art criticism to guide us through the vast array of choices.