by Danny Kopel, Fall 2011
These five essays comprise the eighth volume of the Artwrit quarterly, fast approaching its second year. Volume VIII is yet another iteration of our firm commitment to extended discourse on art and culture, ever thoughtful and ever relevant. To clarify, our notion of relevance–as far as the quarterly is concerned–has less to do with current events, record-breaking sales at auction or hot topics in the art world. Our monthly issues diligently keep this log (and more). The quarterly’s character is distinctive in that it aims to detect the subtle shifts in our culture, articulating our growing concerns as a thinking people. Reading through each edition, I have always felt the relief of one who is finally being able to verbalize that which was on the tip of his tongue. In discussing art and ideas, these essays succeed in reflecting something of the spirit of our times, not its hard facts.
In this collection there emerges a strong unifying theme; time. Notes on Pacific Standard Time discusses Los Angeles’s mammoth project to define and historicize art production in its city from 1945 to 1980. An essay on the paintings of Vilhelm Hammershøi marvels at that painter’s ability to uncannily suspend the mundane (see Dust Motes Dancing in Sunlight, 1900). The Bearden Project examines the problem of historicizing one of the most significant exponents of “black art” and the edification of legacy. The second installment on “boredom” takes up leisure, wasted time and productivity, while Art and Time attempts to distinguish between works that indicate the passage of time or timeliness versus time as investment of labor. These synopses are, of course, greatly over-simplified and meant only to entice you to read on.
We are faithfully holding up our finger to notice a shift of wind. These essay topics were not commissioned nor were writers lured in any one direction by the editors of Artwrit. Each edition shapes itself bending to a genuine interest of ineffable origin, something in the air or perhaps just a sign of the times.
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