Monday, January 22, 2007

abstractions, monochromes and minimalism, part 1

a small list of considerations for a chronicle of visual abstraction, with examples from music, photography, painting, film, video, and literature.
including minimalism and the monochrome.
this is not an all-inclusive list, but only concerned with examples of beauty or the sublime.
this list is mostly centered around books and music from the library of herr schinkel / m. swiezynski, and related items found in museums, galleries or on the internet.

1. the work of michael snow. in particular his
-wavelength, 1967
-<-> (back and forth), 1968-69
-la region centrale, 1971

-also examples from his visual art.

conception of light, 1992 (detail)
2 photographies circulaires couleur sur plastique

very good books on the subject are:
the art gallery of ontario's 3 volume set:
-the michael snow project, knopf canada (bruce mau design) including:
-presence and absence
-visual art and music/sound
-the collected writings of michael snow, 1994,1995
-light moving in time by william c. wees, university of california press
-october 8, mit (about snow by annette michelson)
and many books by scott macdonald including avant-garde film, 1993.

2. the photography of marco breuer

in his words: "these images are fabricated without the use of a camera by either employing the technique of the photogram (bringing the object in physical contact with the paper when exposing it to light) or by subjecting the paper itself to a range of erosive treatments".

3. sound work & videos by jgrzinich
often uses contact mics or microphones in glass bottles to abstract field recordings.
his recent videos offer fine visual references to the process of finding (to come upon by chance) sound.
-insular regions
-equal and distant lines
-gyre & confluence & stria (with seth nehil)

. the recent films of bela tarr (also see previous blog)
in particular more abstract sequences in:
-damnation, 1988
-satantango, 1994
-werckmeister harmonies, 2000
these sequences usually involve extreme rain or wind, droning soundscapes and camera movements, long takes, and minimal lighting.
bela tarr, filmunio hungary / museum of modern art new york
-essential cinema: on the necessity of film canons, by jonathan rosenbaum, the johns hopkins university press

4b. these techniques were further employed by gus van sant in his young death trilogy. for example long takes in gerry where the camera glides parallel to the actors through the landscape with the actors and landscapes going in and out of focus. also much of the sound design in last days.

5. the visual work of henri michaux
-darkness moves: an henri michaux anthology, university of california press
-henri michaux, peindre, composer, ecrire, bibliotheque nationale de france/gallimard
-untitled passage by henri michaux, the drawing center new york
-henri michaux, emergences/resurgences, the drawing center new york
-henri michaux, peintures, gallimard
-henri michaux, bilder aquarelle zeichnungen gedichte aphorismen 1942-1948, verlag fred jahn

6. pierre soulages
visual examples here
-soulages- 40 jahre malerei, hatje cantz
-pierre soulages, new york graphic society

7. susan derges
-susan derges: woman thinking river & under the sun, fraenkel gallery
-susan derges: liquid form 1985-99, michael hue-williams

8. the films of ernie gehr
in particular:
-reverberation, 1969
-serene velocity, 1970
-history, 1970
-eureka, 1974
-untitled part 1 1981, 1981
-signal: germany on the air, 1982-85
-italian woods, 1982
-side/walk/shuttle, 1993
-films of ernie gehr, san francisco cinematheque
-ernie gehr: brother can you spare some time, walter/mcbean gallery
-numerous film culture and millennium film journal articles
-and scott macdonald's books.
j. hoberman said of side/walk/shuttle: "the movie is pure sensation: it has the effect of a slow-motion roller coaster. the camera's stately swoops and stomach-dropping descents obliterate all sense of gravity. san francisco is so viscerally and obsessively transformed that gehr might honorably have titled his movie vertigo."

9. the visual work of victor hugo
the best place to see them is the victor hugo museum in paris.
-shadows of a hand: the drawings of victor hugo, the drawing center new york
-victor hugo: l'homme ocean, bibliotheque nationale de france/seuil
-victor hugo: dessins, du chaos dans le pinceau..., paris musees

10. the photographs of idris khan
in particular:
-every... photograph taken whilst on top of the empire state building, 2003
-every... william turner postcard from tate britain, 2004
-struggling to hear....after ludwig van beethoven sonatas, 2005
-blossfeldt.....after karl blossfeldt 'art forms in nature', 2005
-caravaggio...... the final years, 2006

11. the visual work of robert fludd
early monochrome works (the great darkness, the appearance of light)
-robert fludd: hermetic philosopher and surveyor of two worlds, phanes press
-the hermetic museum: alchemy & mysticism, taschen
also see anslem kiefer's the secret life of plants & for robert fludd

12. robert ryman

-robert ryman: works on paper, 1957-1964, peter blum editions
-robert ryman, dallas museum of art
-samuel beckett & robert ryman: artists' book with 6 aquatints nohow on, deluxe book w/ 6 aquatints, 8 ½ x 12 inches, edition of 550, in slipcase, signed by both artists (unfortunately not in my collection)

13. agnes martin
-writings: agnes martin, hatje cantz
-3x an abstraction: new methods of drawing by hilma af klint, emma kunz, and agnes martin, yale/drawing center new york
-agnes martin: works on paper, museum of fine arts new mexico
-agnes martin: the nineties and beyond, hatje cantz
-agnes martin: The Islands, richter verlag

14. films/videos/photos/sound art by tarrl lightowler
tarrl lightowler has dedicated himself mainly to photographing light reflected on water, using still photography, 16mm, video and sound.

15. phenomena series by jean dubuffet (see previous blog)
the moma has many good examples.
-jean dubuffet: catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre grave, baudoin lebon editeur
-lithographs of jean dubuffet- department of prints, philadephia museum of art 1964-1965, philadephia museum of art

16. cosmos/sun/star photos featured in dans le champ des etoiles: les photographes et le ciel 1850-2000, reunion des musees nationaux.
wonderful book on photography and the sky, includes the photos of:
maurice loewy & pierre puiaeux, lewis tabor, marcel bovis, john herschel, warren de rue, jules janssen, isaac roberts, paul henry, maximilian wolf, ferdinand quenisset, thomas ruff, and many others.

also see: cosmos: from romanticism to avant-garde which includes some of the same work, and more examples from romanticism to modernism.

17. recent work by the hafler trio (andrew mackenzie)
including his monochromatic abstractions of the human voice:
-exactly as I say
-exactly as i do
-exactly as i am
-where are you
and other fine drone records. in his words: "working in the field of psychoacoustics and sonic research..... has produced a prolific body of work involving art, science, sound, religion, comedy and philosophy — emphasizing a dynamic balance and interplay of 'body', 'mind' and 'spirit' over any one of these".

18. visual work of august strindberg
-l'experience photographique d'august strindberg, actes sud
-strindberg painter and photographer, yale
most interesting are the celestographies, (cameraless photos made by exposing photographic plates directly to the night sky)

19. camera lucida work by evelina domnitch and dmitry gelfand.
the project known as camera lucida directly converts sound waves into light.

20. alphonse allais
french humorist that did monochromes that had a big inspiration on duchamp and yves klein.

21. lewis carroll: the hunting of the snark, 1876. (empty maps)
see this fine article for information on early monochrome artists.

22. semiconductor's brilliant noise.
brilliant noise is comprised of solor photography. in their works: "these images have been kept in their most raw form, revealing the energetic particles and solar wind as a rain of white noise. this grainy black and white quality is routinely cleaned up by nasa, hiding the processes and mechanics in action behind the capturing procedure".

23. thomas joshua cooper
for example soft rain - last light the lake of maracaibo, 2005

24. andy warhol oxidation paintings (urine and metallic pigment in acrylic medium on canvas)

-andy warhol: piss & sex paintings and drawings, gagosian gallery

25. eleanore mikus
mikus created minimalistic monochrome paintings during the '60s and early '70 and returned again to this work in the mid '80s to present.

26. laurie reid
san francisco artist that restricts herself to using water, pigment, and paper.
more images here from crown point press.

27. dove bradshaw
new york artist engaged in process works, which are influenced by john cage's ideas about chance.
see contingency series for good examples.

28. robert morris
especially his blind time drawings, and film mirror 1969.

-robert morris: the mind/body problem, guggenheim.

29. william anastasi
famous for his subway drawings in the 70's riding to and from daily chess games with john cage. sitting with a pencil in each hand and a drawing board on his lap, allowing the rhythm of the moving train to be transformed into lines on the paper.

30. james welling
los angeles based photographer that makes photograms (cameraless photos).
more info here and images.

31. cai guo-qiang
chinese artist that draws with gunpowder, more info here.

32. the novels of maurice blanchot
for example, thomas the obscure:
"...scarcely any light remained, but it was still possible to see certain details of the landscape fairly night was falling he tried to get up, and, pushing against the ground with both hands, got one knee under him while the other leg dangled, then he made a sudden lurch and succeeded in placing himself entirely erect. so he was standing....."
-the station hill blanchot reader: fiction & literary essays, station hill
-the step not beyond, suny
-aminadab, bison books
-blanchot: the space of literature, univ. of nebraska press

33. the number pieces and prints of john cage.
the number pieces were written between 1987-1992. each work's title consists of a number written out (one, two, fourteen, etc.) that indicates the number of performers.
other musical examples:
-44 harmonies from apartment house 1776
-cheap imitation
-quartets I-VIII

-rolywholyover: a circus, museum of contemporary art, los angeles
-john cage visual art: to sober and quiet the mind, crown point press
-sounds of the inner eye: john cage, mark tobey and morris graves, univ. of washingtom press
-silence: lectures and writings, wesleyan university press
-muiscage: cage muses on words art music, wesleyan univ. press
-m: writings '67-'72, wesleyan univ. press
-the music of john cage by james pritchett, cambridge univ. press
-october 81 & 82, mit (includes reconsidering cage)
-john cage I-VI, wesleyan university press
and other books.

34. the sound work of b.j. nilsen
-storm (with chris watson)
-drykkjuvisur ohljodanna & vikinga brennivin (both with stilluppsteypa)
-fade to white
all with delicate monochromatic textures. in his words: "there are no reference points in this darkness".

35. paintings by gunter uecker.
german artist that was part of group zero.

-monochromes: from malevich to the present by barbara rose univ. of california

acknowledgements to tarrl lightowler for numerous ideas for this list.


sroden said...

pretty darn wonderful.....:-)

the art of memory said...

thanks steve,

Great Art said...

A good site. But the Eleanore Mikus link is not working.
Her website is working -- it is
Also, she has a book on her work titled Eleanore Mikus Shadows of the Real by Robert Hobbs and Judith Bernstock.

the art of memory said...

thanks, i will fix it, that sounds like a nice book, i will look around for it.

Will said...

Thank you both and thank Tarll Morley. I'll be using your Michaux list immediately!

I have an Allais book (text only) but didn't know he had visual work. I seem to always love the visual work of writers (and I suppose the writing I like is highly visual).

the art of memory said...

i have wanted to read allais,just mainly read about him in duchamp and klein books, what title do you have?

have got some more michaux since this list, will post on the bird site soon