Wednesday, February 10, 2010

West viewed from East

There's a nifty little narrated slide show about a current exhibit of West Coast minimal art at The New Yorker's web site, here.   Peter Schjeldahl's articles are one of the best things about the magazine of late, but jeez, his commentary here begins on the wrong foot by framing the west coast work as a reaction to that in the east coast.  This just can't be sustained given both the west coast origins of many working in New York (De Maria, Serra, Young) and the lack of familiarity on the west coast with much contemporary work on the east coast.  He then makes a distinction between the "finish fetishists" and the "light and space" artists that really doesn't hold, as l-&-s-ers Irwin and Turrell shared that "fetish" for a cherry-perfect surface.  (Also, the characterization of Irwin as a "minor" abstract expressionist painter is hard to sustain if you are actually familar with his hand-held, line, and dot paintings, which demonstrate astonishing technique and conceptions every bit as strong as his east coast colleagues.)  I realize that the view from New-York-center-of-the-known-art-universe is familiar and convenient, but wouldn't it be more accurate, useful, and interesting to talk  of a history with parallel discoveries and activities and complementary interests rather than tell stories about competing production and one-way lines of influence? 

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