Eric Cameron

  • Semiology, Sensuousness and Ian Wallace

    I FIND THAT I no longer believe in semiology. Saussure’s prophecy of a general science of signs sounds fine in the middle of his book on linguistics. The trouble is, he then went ahead and set up a structure to deal with language that has so prejudiced the undertaking that it could never really fit anything else. With regard to visual images, particularly, everything I have read under that rubric either has very little to do with semiology as Saussure conceived it, or else it falsifies the sense of films, photographs, pictures, drawings, statues, whatever, by treating them as a system of

  • Peter Hutchinson: From Earth Art to Story Art

    PETER HUTCHINSON LEFT ENGLAND in 1953. His entire career as an artist belongs to the period since he settled in America. But even after 20-odd years, his art has a character that strikes me as very English. I could enumerate the points. One: it shows a specifically English devotion to gentle nature, albeit he came to prominence as an earth artist rather than a landscape painter. Two: it is literary and romantic. Three: it is often small-scale. He has done a fair bit of art writing and once tried his hand at a novel. From the beginning his earthworks needed explanatory notes; more recently, in

  • Garry Kennedy: Painting Painting Itself

    DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO speak of “post-Conceptual art”? Is the new painting of the ’70s a return to the old painting of the ’60s—or has it been transformed by the lesson of radical alternatives? Was there something wrong with painting before?—or with Conceptual art? It would be a disservice to perpetuate an awkward term by compounding it. The facts may not even sustain belief in any general revival in the art of painting. Yet just asking such questions puts Garry Kennedy’s work in perspective. He began as a painter, but there was a phase of conceptual experimentation. Kennedy’s new paintings

  • Bill Beckley’s Lies

    BILL BECKLEY’S FIRST SEXUAL EXPERIENCE, 1974, sandwiches a brief text horizontally between two photographs of a wooded shore. The view across the water seems to illustrate apart of the central story; the bushes in the foreground might conceal onlookers. But then the way one photograph is black and white and the other colored strikes an analogy with the fact that the parents of the narrator’s girl graduated from black and white to color television. Uncertainty casts a doubt over all. The tale is locked and lost within the language of the telling.

    There is another version with a single photograph

  • Italo Scanga’s Torn Loyalties

    ITALO SCANGA IS A REGULAR GUY. Everybody says he is a real nice guy, and somehow it seems important to repeat the opinion. For at least three major exhibitions he has produced books with testimonials from a variety of collectors, curators, critics, former students and fellow artists. Of course, they were testimonials to the art, but the work and the man do not allow themselves to be separated. Those little books, besides the testimonials, carry photographs of the artist, his family, his friends, his studio, his hometown in southern Italy and stories and pictures of local saints, sometimes with

  • Dan Graham: Appearing in Public

    DAN GRAHAM WAS A GALLERY director before he was an artist, and from the beginning his art treated the theme of its own presentation. At first it was a matter of avoiding galleries altogether, of using the magazine system to bypass the gallery system. Sometimes he seemed to be leaving open the option that the erstwhile art dealer had only turned art writer. But when the piece was a list of the number and type of words that are necessary to set out that particular list of words, then the writing collapses into the content, the article into the art, and the author comes out almost by default as

  • Mac Adams: The “Mysteries”

    THE MYSTERIES OF MAC ADAMS present the narrative photo-sequence in its most succinct form, two or (less frequently) three photographs, side by side, or one above the other. For Mac Adams the reintroduction of narrative represented a reaction to the erudite austerities of Minimal and Conceptual art. He wanted his work to be more accessible, and yet it reveals its anchorage in the stringent tradition of the ’60s, partly in its formal sparseness, but also in the way his “narrative” seems not so much to tell a story as to question the possibility of a story locating itself around his photographs.