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Art Without Artworks – The Wall Street Journal

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Andy Warhol, ‘Campbell Soup Can’ (1968).



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Andy Warhol is remembered as a Pop artist, lifting subjects and imagery from popular culture and presenting them almost unchanged as high art. But the Pop style Warhol pioneered in his 1962 paintings of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Soup cans occupied only a small part of his career. By 1965 he had officially given up painting in favor of much weirder, more conceptual creations: four-minute-long filmed portraits of his “superstars”; a novel that consisted of 24 hours of transcribed conversation; a lecture tour where his talks were delivered by a hired double.

These projects come closer to revealing the true genius of Warhol than his paintings do. Before him, talk about art usually centered on what it looked like and how an artist achieved visual effects. But Warhol insisted that the idea behind a work of art mattered more than its appearance; once an artist did this mental work, what happened in the studio was just manual labor.

The ultimate example of Warholian weirdness came 50 years ago this month, when Arts Magazine published a feature on Warhol’s “Travel Piece,” which consisted of nothing more than the artist arranging for two of his friends, the art critics Gregory Battcock and David Bourdon, to spend a weekend in Paris and keep records of their banal social encounters there. Warhol didn’t go along, so the Polaroid that graced the magazine’s cover, showing Battcock in his Paris hotel, wasn’t even snapped by him. The artist’s only role in the “piece” was to release it under his name after footing the bill. (Bourdon was peeved that he bought them a discount flight and put them up in a lousy hotel.)

In a conceptual piece from 1972, Warhol vacuumed an art gallery’s carpet and signed the dust bag.



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© Michael Kostiuk

“Andy’s idea is without precedent. His particular way of presenting the travel event itself is totally new,” Battcock said after the Paris trip. Indeed, the whole piece—even the notion that it was a “piece”—still feels transgressive a half-century later. It foreshadows the 21st-century art movement known as “relational aesthetics,” which insists that the things humans do for and with each other—even cooking and serving a curry, as in a project by the Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija—can count as artistic acts when brought into being by artists.

In his 1917 work “Fountain,” Marcel Duchamp signed an ordinary urinal and submitted it to a show as art. In a sense, Warhol and his descendants in relational art are taking Duchamp’s urinal and offering it up for actual use in a men’s room, and saying this use is art, too. Two years after “Travel Piece,” Warhol made his Duchampian roots still more explicit in an untitled piece that involved a different kind of sanitary equipment. He bought a vacuum cleaner, vacuumed an art gallery’s carpet and then signed the dust bag as a record of what he’d done. After almost five decades of utter neglect, photos of Warhol’s vacuum piece were included in his recent retrospectives at the Whitney Museum in New York and Tate Modern in London. Curators are coming to insist that there’s more to Warhol than Pop.


Once he abandoned paint and canvas, Warhol began to cast himself as his most important art supply.

Once Warhol had abandoned paint and canvas, back in 1965, he began to cast himself as his most important art supply, finalizing his classic persona as a celebrity artist—dark glasses, biker’s jacket, empty-headed stare. That October, Warhol’s appearance at the opening of an exhibition in Philadelphia caused a near-riot among the thousands of Andymaniacs who had shown up. But it was only two decades later, near the end of his life, that Warhol finally gave that “work” its official title. He had the words “Andy Warhol/Invisible Sculpture, 1985/mixed media” typed onto a wall label set beside an empty pedestal, then stood next to it as the art object on display. He told a critic that it—he—was an object he’d been working on for 20 years.

Such “works” show that Warhol was really a conceptual artist, much more concerned with ideas than objects. His early paintings—the Soup Cans, Marilyns and Elvises—are now widely considered to be masterpieces and priced accordingly. If New York’s Museum of Modern Art were ever to part with its wall of Soups, they’d fetch an easy half-billion. But for most of their first viewers, whether fans or foes, Warhol’s Pop works were all about the ideas behind them. They felt there was nothing worth looking at in the objects themselves—as little as there is in Warhol’s travel and vacuum pieces.

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In December 1962, shortly after Warhol’s first New York solo, the art critic Hilton Kramer complained that “fraudulent” Pop Art was “interesting for what is said about it rather than for what it intrinsically is.” But Duchamp himself flipped that idea around into praise: “If you take a Campbell’s soup can and repeat it 50 times, you are not interested in the retinal image. What interests you is the concept that wants to put 50 Campbell’s soup cans on a canvas,” he said.

Despite the fool that Warhol liked to play, that conceptual intelligence is what makes him matter. “He’s the most brilliant person I’ve ever met, and he never forgets a thing,” recalled Suzie Frankfurt, a friend who met Warhol in the 1950s. “But he comes on as really stupid.”

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Vancouver museums and art galleries start reopening next week – Vancouver Sun

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The Museum of Vancouver reopens June 11. Jason Payne/PNG

The VAG will have security guards and volunteers to monitor visitors.

“If there’s a bit of a jam happening, that’s where our volunteers and guards will maybe ask people to move along, and maybe go to another floor,” said Augatis.

Staff at both institutions will be wearing masks in public areas, and it is “highly recommended” that visitors wear masks as well. But is not mandatory.

The Maritime Museum will reopen with a new show, On The Shore, featuring 44 paintings of the B.C. coast from the Bill and Mary Everett Collection, including two by works by Emily Carr and one by E.J. Hughes.

The VAG has a new exhibition culled from works in its collection, The Tin Man Was a Dreamer: Allegories, Poetics and Performances of Power. It was supposed to open in March but was delayed, as was another a new video and photographic installation, Matilda Aslizadeh’s Moly and Kassandra.

The VAG’s big summer show, Modern in the Making: Post-War Craft and Design in British Columbia, is being installed and will be opening July 18.

The Maritime Museum will be opening Thursday through Sunday, while the VAG will be open seven days a week.

“We would love to see the numbers come back to the museum, but we also anticipate that for the first few days or even weeks it might be a bit difficult,” said Schokkenbroek.

“People will be apprehensive, people will be anxious, maybe reluctant, and wait and see how things are being done.”

jmackie@postmedia.com

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Vancouver marathoner inspires community through Strava art – CityNews Vancouver

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver-based runner and coach Tony Tomsich has found a way to keep running interesting during the coronavirus pandemic—Strava art.

After fulfilling a lifelong dream of running in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials earlier this spring, the Alaska native has been mapping his Sunday routes into complex works of art. Tomsich runs the routes turn-by-turn with his GPS watch and posts them to the Strava—a social media platform for athletes.

“It’s always kind of been on my radar,” Tomsich says of the idea. After years of training to qualify for the marathon trials, he didn’t have a big plan going forward.

“As the pandemic hit, it became clear that running was going to look a bit different,” adds Tomsich. “We were going to have to do this by ourselves and so forth. I definitely looked at different ways to enjoy the sport.”

Tomsich attempted an Easter bunny on Sunday, April 12th, and said his Strava feed exploded with comments after the run.

“I was just floored by the response that I got,” he says. “People absolutely loved it.”

Tomsich knew he had to keep going.

He has since drawn a boat sailing by a lighthouse, a thunderbird at UBC (the university’s mascot), and an orca. Tomsich wished people a happy Mother’s Day with a 25-kilometre-long vase of flowers.

However, the most difficult drawing was a finish line, complete with two triumphant stick-runners, which he says was meant to inspire people even as official spring races were cancelled.

“It is a way to engage and to get people excited and share what is possible when we can’t have races right now or can’t have big group gatherings.”

Tomsich uses Strava’s “Route Builder” function to map out the run. His wife, Kate, has been following him on her bike and posting Instagram video updates to build suspense around what the picture will be. Tomsich’s drawings vary from 24km to 35km, a typical Sunday run for an avid marathon.

“I asked my wife Kate to join,” he says. “It’s our time to spend together to disconnect and just be out.”

Tomsich coaches with Mile2Marathon, a running group founded by Canadian Olympian Dylan Wykes to help beginner, intermediate, and advanced runners improve their race times while engaging in the social aspects of the running.

Mile2Marathon’s motto is #bettertogether and while many of its athletes are disappointed that they can’t run in groups, Tomsich hopes to inspire runners to keep going.

“I think the bigger message that I want to be able to portray to people with all this is that if you can identify what it is that you’re passionate about or what you love, there’s always ways to share that with other people.”

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New West students recreate famous works of art using their toys, household items – CTV News

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VANCOUVER —
A New Westminster elementary school teacher is asking her students to tap into their inner Renoirs and Emily Carrs—but instead of paint and brushes, their materials include stuffed animals, Lego and dolls.

Sara Fox, a Grade 3 and 4 Montesorri teacher at Connaught Heights Elementary School, has assigned her students to recreate famous works of art using their toys.

Fox was forced to take her instruction online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but her students’ regular art teacher was not able to continue their lessons as they’d been asked to instruct the children of essential workers. So Fox tapped into her own creativity to keep the instruction going, assigning her students to use their imaginations to put their own spins on classic works of art.

Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper was reimagined by Fox’s student Audrey, who replaced the glasses of wine, plates and apostles in the original with plastic cupcakes, bananas and chubby stuffed animals, including a rotund raccoon and giraffe. She titled her creation, The Squishmallow Supper.

Student Angelica recreated the iconic 1930 Grant Wood painting American Gothic using purple and grey stuffed animals. In her version, which she named Stuffie Gothic, a fork replaced the ubiquitous pitchfork from the original.

Stuffie Gothic

In Kai’s version of Dogs Playing Poker, the poker chips from the original painting were replaced with potato chips, and the dogs playing cards around the table are plush. Bottles of mini-yogurts stand in place of beer and whiskey, and a clock on the wall hangs in the same place as the grandfather clock from the original.

Dogs Playing Poker

To see more of the students’ artwork, click through the images below this story.

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