Jack Burnham

  • Beverly Feldmann

    Given the eclectic ambitiousness of much contemporary art, Beverly Feldmann’s ink drawings and collages seem ingenuous. if not outrageously effortless. Drawing appears to bore her. She scrawls boxlike rooms with paper-thin walls. These contain only the most essential items depicted in childlike shorthand. Even the unsophisticated handwriting appears uncomfortably placed next to her drawings.

    What saves Feldmann is that she is a poet, an Emily Dickinson of Chicago’s South Side. Even in the tiny tragedies of broken families that she illustrates best one senses a sardonic compassion: she brings

  • The “Art and Technology” Exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum (Two Views): Corporate Art

    ALL ART IMPLIES SOME TECHNOLOGY. But at what point does the working relationship between the artist and sophisticated technology preclude the synthesis of art? I suspect that the Los Angeles County Museum’s recent four-year project, culminating with the May 10–August 29 “Art & Technology” exhibition, provides a variety of clues.

    Although certainly a problematic undertaking “Art & Technology” represents the most technically proficient exhibition of its kind to date. The enormous amount of money and organizational effort poured into A & T dwarfs by several magnitudes the preparation needed for any

  • Hans Haacke’s Cancelled Show at the Guggenheim

    Section 1. The purposes of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (referred to in these By-Laws as the “corporation”), are set forth in its charter, and are as follows:

    To provide for the promotion of art and for the mental or moral improvements of men and women by furthering their education, enlightenment and aesthetic taste, and by developing the understanding and appreciation of art by the public; to establish, maintain and operate, or contribute to the establishment, maintenance and operation of, a museum or museums, or other proper place or places for the public exhibition of art . . .

  • Unveiling the Consort: Part II

    IN 1912 MARCEL DUCHAMP DISCOVERED that all works of art conform to five types of sentence structure: A) Simple sentences B) Compound, complex and ambiguous sentences C) “Ready-made utterances” D) Elliptical sentences and E) Sentences with some disagreement between subject and predicate. He realized that as art these sentence structures have a particular diachronic relationship to each other, thereby defining the historical trajectory that modern art was to follow for the next six decades.

    If, as Claude Lévi-Strauss maintains, myths function phonetically at the lowest level of articulation,

  • Unveiling the Consort: Part I

    The question of shop windows..

    To undergo the interrogation of shop windows..

    The exigency of the shop window..

    The shop window proof of the existence of the outside world..

    When one undergoes the examination of the shop window, one also pronounces one’s own sentence. In fact, one’s choice is “round trip.” From the demands of the shop windows, from the inevitable response to shop windows my choice is determined. No obstinacy, ad absurdum, of hiding the coition through a glass pane with one or many objects of the shop window. The penalty consists in cutting the pane and in feeling regret as

  • Problems of Criticism IX: Art and Technology

    IN HIS INTRODUCTION TO the esthetics and art criticism of John Ruskin, Robert L. Herbert describes Ruskin’s ambivalent feelings towards the usefulness of science:

    Any science that adds to the descriptive knowledge of nature, and thus acts as the artist’s servant, is all to the good; any science that deals with analytical knowledge, is only bad.1

    Science bred a kind of rational, uniform truth, in opposition to the artist’s far more valuable “imaginative truth.” Herbert goes on to explicate the tension and doubt that lingered in even Ruskin’s mind about the matter. He cites a passage in Ruskin’s

  • Les Levine: Business as Usual

    Superior culture is one of the most artificial of all human creations. . . .

    —Clement Greenberg1

    Transparency is the highest, most liberating value in art. . . .

    —Susan Sontag2

    Culture, which today has assumed the character of advertising, was never anything for Veblen but advertising, a display of power, loot, and profit.

    —Theodor Adorno3

    I don’t find it interesting to create antagonism, however I don’t find it very interesting to prevent it either. In a totally programmed society my art is about packaging, but I don’t package my work so that it is acceptable to the art world.

    —Les Levine

  • A Robert Morris Retrospective in Detroit

    IN JANUARY THE DETROIT INSTITUTE of Art opened the second leg of an exhibition which began at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington and which will end at the Whitney Museum. The Washington and Detroit shows have presented aspects of Robert Morris’s work during the past ten years; most probably the Whitney will touch on all periods of the sculptor’s development in a more complete way.

    Undoubtedly, Morris is one of the most thoughtful and influential artists of this decade. By 1967 the poetic uniqueness of his works had produced something of a legend among younger artists (e.g., someone spotting

  • Alice’s Head: Reflections on Conceptual Art

    “Did you say ‘pig,’ or ‘fig’?” said the cat. “I said ‘pig,’” replied Alice, “and I wish you wouldn’t keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly; you make one quite giddy.”

    “All right,” said the cat, and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

    “Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice, “but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!”

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

    CONCEPTUAL ART RESEMBLES LITERATURE only superficially.

  • Systems Esthetics

    A POLARITY IS PRESENTLY developing between the finite, unique work of high art, i.e. painting or sculpture and conceptions which can loosely be termed “unobjects,” these either environments or artifacts which resist prevailing critical analysis. This includes works by some primary sculptors (though some may reject the charge of creating environment), some gallery kinetic and luminous art, some outdoor works, happenings, and mixed media presentations. Looming below the surface of this dichotomy is a sense of radical evolution which seems to run counter to the waning revolution of abstract and

  • A Dan Flavin Retrospective in Ottawa

    A FEW YEARS AGO a retrospective exhibition implied that an artist of stature had about summed up his career; perhaps he would do more, but it would be in the general stylistic vein of his most established work. Thus is it doubly significant that some of the most original talents of this decade have already had their retrospectives? Whatever the implications, Dan Flavin’s at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa served two purposes: it was a spectacular experience in a period of lethargic museum going, and for the first time Flavin’s innate complexities began to unravel themselves. My only

  • Real Time Systems

    I read the news today oh boy

    Four thousand holes in Blackburn

    Lancashire

    And though the holes were rather small

    They had to count them all

    Now they know how many holes it takes

    To fill the Albert Hall

    I’d love to turn you on

    Presently it will be accepted that art is an archaic information processing system, characteristically Byzantine rather than inefficient. To emphasize this cybernetic analogy, programming the art system involves some of the same features found in human brains and in large computer systems. Its command structure is typically hierarchical.1 At the basic level artists are similar

  • On Being Sculpture

    AS SCULPTURE, MOWRY BADEN’S work is nowhere. It lacks elegance, sublety, and the lure of visual involvement. His forms have neither the fey ugliness of Funk nor the austerity of early Object Art. Moreover, I doubt if Baden is making sculpture––or playing any of the arrangement games (painted, pasted, positioned, or dropped) meant exclusively for the eye.

    If anything, Baden’s efforts are limited environmental systems, considerably less complicated technically, but akin to the life support simulations used in space programs. Both have the job of telling their participants how they are doing under

  • An Exchange

    TERRY FENTON’S OVERSIMPLIFICATIONS have only added to the confusions surrounding Constructivism.

    Ten years ago it might have been barely permissible to interpret Constructivism through the writings of Gabo, which after the 1920 Realist Manifesto show a notably altered relationship to science and society. Gabo’s writings were Constructivism to the great majority of the Western art world. With the many pieces of scholarship now at hand, in English, and covering Tatlin’s return to Russia (1913) through the activities of the Russian Constructivists in the early 1930s, there is scant excuse for writing