Ivan's Blog

Thank you for stopping by. This blog will be dedicated to art criticism in today's culture.

Month: January, 2013

Review of Duane Hanson’s Exhibition at The Museum of Florida Art.

I’m reviewing the Duane Hanson exhibition that is presently showing at The Museum of Florida Art in Deland, FL.  It is rare to see an exhibition of a high caliber contemporary artist near Orlando.  Central Florida in particular is a strange place when it comes to art.  Being so close to Miami, the gateway to the southern hemisphere, and the host of Art Basel, you would expect to see more exciting shows presented in the vicinity, but I will explore this issue in a later post.  At the moment I would like to keep this post focused on Duane Hanson.

What made his work important in the history of art is that he took the mundane, and the controversial of everyday situations and made them into realistic life size sculptures, but also by making them into life size he elevated his subject matter to a level that was reserved previously for heroes, gods, and important people in history.   Also by making us aware of these figures it makes us focus at ourselves as a whole.

I have previously seen only one sculpture of Duane Hanson, The Janitor at the Milwaukee Art Museum, so I was kind of excited to see more of his work in a group showing.  What was being shown was his series of sculptures he did depicting the mundane everyday characters of the United States, and not his controversial work of drug users and police riots.  The museum is carpeted throughout in a neutral brownish tone including the walls.  The space of the museum echoes the same overwhelming mundane feeling as the sculptures, which adds to the viewing sensation.  The only problem I have with his sculptures is the hair; it’s very unrealistic compared to the rest of the sculpture.   They shout wigs or old Barbie doll hair.  The pieces seem to be collecting dust and it’s especially noticeable in the hair and skin.  This must be a problem for conservators when it comes to maintaining these works of art.  Also included in this show were polaroids of the models posing for the sculpture, so it’s nice to see the inspiration behind these figures.   If you have never seen Duane Hanson’s work I highly recommend it.

Please see link to view Duane Hanson’s artwork.



Defining the Levels in Art.

So for today’s post I have decided to define the levels of art so people can understand the differences and that not all artists are created equally.  What is disheartening to me is when someone finds out I’m an artist and automatically ask me to paint something for their living room.


Local Art– This type of art is usually shown in bars, coffee shops, or community centers made by recently graduated high schoolers, college students taking art classes at a local college or university, and self taught artists.  The art is usually basic, but it has the principles apparent in them such as line, form, composition, texture, light, and so on.  The experience of this artist is very limited; basically they are just getting their foot wet in a vast ocean known as “THE ART WORLD.”  The art tackles themes such as the use of color, composition, and subject matter, which is usually a portrait of someone close to them, a still life, a landscape, a pet, or an object.  Same thing applies to photography and sculpture, and the sculpture is usually made of earthenware.

Regional Art– This art is shown in small museums, consignment galleries, local government buildings, upscale restaurants, shops, and bars.  This also includes trendy shops exhibiting outsider art.  The art is created by art grads, and self taught artists where you notice of course the principals of art, but also better craftsmanship, technique, and a cohesive body of work.  Art styles tend to be similar to surrealism, impressionisms, abstraction, and realism, if its photography the artwork tends to be documentary, fashion, or modernist.

National Art-This art is shown in academia galleries, contemporary galleries, bigger museums, and art festivals.  What has been defined in Regional Art applies here, but the difference is the art is more focused on a theme ranging from conceptual, design, beauty, and narrative.  The majority of artists are emerging or mid-term, and art critics, art dealers, and curators are taking notice of the art being created by these artists.  Also the artist spends a big chunk of personal time grant writing in hopes to get money for their artistic ideas, or getting into shows.

International Art– The big show! The art is shown at major art fairs, biennials, the top museums, and auction houses around the world. Oh! And let us not forget magazine interviews, and books being made about the artwork.  Artists can do what ever they want without justification if they want.  The majority of viewers are confused by the content and usually are running out of the museum complaining they wasted time and money on a load of shit,  “my two stating year old can paint that!” or they stay silent and make no comments, but art critics love it.  Collectors buy it because they want to show off their latest purchase and rub it in to other rich people about their money status. The artists don’t care about craftsmanship, or the mastery of medium, the content is what is priority.  They outsource when it’s possible, use ready-made objects, or appropriate images.  The art has many faces, it interacts with the audience, or it’s activism to bring attention to an issue, or a video on Youtube.

Please keep in mind this is all a generalization of the “art world.” There is no fixed path an artist can take to reach the international level.  Some of us are content on certain levels; others don’t want to sell themselves to become prostitutes.

There is validity in conceptual art.  The art is not only about the visual entertainment, but also sharing the content of what was created and why.  When viewing or interacting with contemporary art, each person will experience it his or her own way, and this is OK.  It’s does not have this one solitude meaning and everybody is suppose to walk away from it thinking the same.  If you walk away from the piece angry because it confused you that might be the artist intent.  Art brings an emotion, an issue, a viewpoint, a perception, an understanding, a beauty, an ugliness etc. to a world that is constantly changing as you read this post.

Why Am I An Artist?

(Circle one):

A)   To create a new way of looking at important issues in today’s culture.

B)   To be happy.

C)   To become an art star.

D)   To be selfish.

E)   To be able to sleep at night.

F)    To leave artifacts for future archeologists, and sociologists to understand what life was like during my lifetime.

G)   To make the 1% happy with my art.

H)   To make my mother happy that I have a career.

I)     A, and B.

J)     C, D, and E.

K)   F, G, and H.

L)    All the above.

M)  None of the above.

O) Does it really matter? (This option is not intended to be rebellious, facetious, or malign.)