Robin Urton: dimensional paintings on glass


Trends in PostModern Art

Art of Installation

Jenny Holtzer: "Protect", July- October 1994

Nam June Paik: Techno Buddha

An installation presents a visualization of 3-dimensionallity, in real time and space. It can include 2-dimensional mediums (painting, drawing, photography, etc), but a 3-dimensional element is also necessary for the interaction of the viewer into the installation space. Video and electronic media are used frequently. Installation art is often conceptual in nature. That is, the emphasis is more on ideas than on the creation of unique objects. For this reason, installation art frequently incorporates an assembly of "ready made" (manufactured) objects instead of focusing on the craftsmanship of the artist. (This is not, however, necessary for the definition of installation art, as many installation artists create every object in their installation).

Sometimes, the artist him or herself is part of the installation, in which case the installation becomes performance art.

Stephen Taylor Woodrow: "The Living Paintings",
artist and friends at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, NYC, 1988.




Sandy Skogland: Installation Photography

Revenge of the Goldfish, 1981

Germs Are Everywhere, 1984

Sandy Skoglund is a photographer who consistently uses rooms, monochromatically painted furniture, actors, an excessive number of animals or objects and unusual media to create dreamlike scenes. She creates the animals by hand (ceramic goldfish, bubblegum "germs"), and poses actors into her photographs to create scenes which open up the possibility of many interpretations, but which generally reflect on concerns and fantasies of a post-modern world... most commonly the relationship between humans, suburban environments and nature.




Cesar Martinez: Bato Con Sunglasses

Jesse Trevino: Senora Dolores Trevino, 1982


Cesar Martinez is a world-known artist who originates from Laredo and currently lives and works in San Antonio, Tx. His "Bato con Sunglasses" is an example from his Bato/Pachuco/Ruca series, a group of portraits and character studies inspired by life in the barrio. The fictionalized people depicted in this series are recognizable as "types," but they also come very much alive as distinctive individuals.

Though Jesse Trevino was born in Monterrey, Mexico, he was raised in San Antonio with 11 brothers and sisters. He is internationally known for his realistic images of San Antonio landmarks and his family and friends from the westside neighborhood. He briefly attended the New York based Student Art League, but his studies were interrupted when he was drafted into the Army and was sent to Vietnam, where he was severely wounded by sniper fire. His right hand (his painting hand) was replaced with a metal hook, but he learned to paint using his left hand andÊenrolled in an art class at San Antonio College . He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree at Our Lady of the Lake University and a Masters of Studio Arts from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1970.


Hung Liu:

Hung Liu is a Chinese-American artist who addresses the issues of identity, marginality, feminism, sexism, and racism in her art. Born in Changchun, China in 1948. As a young woman, Liu was forced to leave her mother to work in the country's rice fields for four years as part of Mao's Cultural Revolution re-education effort. At this time, she started secretly photographing and drawing the farmers and their families. Her formal art training began later and she eventually graduated and taught at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. Here she learned the official style known as social realism that she so deftly deconstructs today. After arriving in the United States, Liu received a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1986 at the University of California, San Diego. She is currently an associate professor of art at Mills College, Oakland, California.


Goddess of Love, Goddess of Liberty
, 1989

Three Fujins, 1995


The ironically-titled Goddess of Love, Goddess of Liberty contains imagery of women with bound feet, a reoccurring motif in Liu's work. A woman with bound feet has become Liu's symbol for the suffering of old China. The work is also expressive of Postmodern feminist concerns as it refers to historically acceptable abuses of both adult women and female children.

Three Fujins is one of her most famous works. These women were the Emporer's concubines. In a film documentary about the artist, Hung talks about how the mask-like faces of these women appealed to her, how it seemed to symbolize the roles they were forced to fill, and the irony of these women being pampered royalty, but at the same time, slaves. She hung three birdcages on the painting to punctuate her point.



Pacita Abad


The paintings of Philippine artist Pacita Abad are strongly influenced by her Phillippino background and her world travels. She works in a style combines expressive painting with the technique of trapunto (made by quilting and sewing pieces of patterned fabric). The immigrant experience is presented in crayon-like colors and a simple style that suggest a child's point of view. Abad is famous for two large mixed media works, "How Mali Lost Her Accent" and "I Thought the Streets Were Paved with Gold".

How Mali Lost Her Accent, 1991

I Thought the Streets Were Paved With Gold, 1991


In How Mali Lost Her Accent, Pacita urges caution to the ladder-climbing of many Asian Americans. A fashionable Asian schoolgirl stands among images of Ivy League schools and computers; but the portrait hides behind a confusing drizzle.
In I Thought the Streets Were Paved With Gold, the immigrant dream of easy riches is replaced with the reality of an unrelenting cycle of low-paying jobs.

Raised in a politically active family, Pacita was a law student at the University of Philippines when herÊ involvement in anti-Marcos demonstrations forced her to flee the country.She supported herself as a seamstress and typist in California while studying Asian history. After graduating in 1972, she traversed Asia with her future husband, drawing and painting through thirty nations. Once married, she moved with her husband's assignments from international agencies, living in Paris, New York, Bangladesh, Thailand, and the Sudan. In Asia and Africa, she became fascinated with indigenous art and crafts that reminded her of those of her homeland. The bright colors and rich patterns of her more abstract paintings are also influenced deeply by her world travels.





Faith Ringgold:

Picasso's Studio, 1991

Dancing at the Louvre, 1991

Faith Ringgold began her artistic career more than 35 years ago as a painter. Today, she is best known for her painted story quilts -- art that combines painting, quilted fabric and storytelling. In addition to exhibiting her work in major museums across the world, she has written and illustrated five children's books. In this particular series, Ringgold combines the Afro-American tradition of quilt-making with an insertion of black society into the Western (European based) history of Art.




Art And Gender


Judy Chicago: The Dinner Party

This is a work of art, triangular in configuration, 48 feet on each side, which employs numerous media, (including ceramics, china-painting, and needlework) to honor women's achievements. An immense open table covered with fine white cloths is set with 39 place settings, thirteen on a side, each commemorating a goddess or historic personage important woman. Though many are largely unknown, their names, says the artist, should be familiar to us as the male heroes whose exploits we absorb from childhood through art, myth, literature, history, and popular entertainment. The Dinner Party suggests that these female heroes are equally worthy of commemoration, as are those hundreds of others (999) whose names are inscribed upon the Heritage Floor. This lustred porcelain surface serves as the foundation for The Dinner Party table and the many important human accomplishments it symbolizes. Ms. Chicago thinks of the piece as a "reinterpretation of The Last Supper from the point of view of those who've done the cooking throughout history."



"My idea for The Dinner Party grew out of the research into women's history that I had begun at the end of the 1960's. I had undertaken this study in an effort to discover whether women before me had faced and recorded their efforts to surmount obstacles similar to those I was encountering as a woman artist. When I started my investigation, there were no women's study courses, and the prevailing attitudes toward women's history can best be summed up by the following story. While an undergraduate at UCLA, I took a course titled the Intellectual History of Europe. The professor, a respected historian, promised that at the last class he would discuss women's contributions to Western thought. I waited eagerly all semester, and at the final meeting, the instructor strode in and announced: "Women's contributions to European intellectual history? They made none.' "




The Guerrilla Girls Proclaim War on Sexist Practices in the Art Establishment:



The Guerrilla Girls are a group of women artists, writers, performers, film makers and arts professionals who fight discrimination. They wear gorilla masks to focus on the issues rather than their personalities. Using humor to convey information, they intend to expose sexism and racism in the art world.



Public Art and Controvercy

Richard Serra's "Tilted Arc", 1981 (now destroyed)

A landmark in public art controvercy occured in 1981, when Richard Serra was commissioned by the Arts-in-Architecture program of the U.S. General Services Administration to install his sculpture Tilted Arc in the Federal Plaza in New York City. The scultpture is a curving wall of raw steel, 120 feet long and 12 feet high, that carves the space of the Federal Plaza in half. Those working in surrounding buildings must circumvent its enormous bulk as they go through the plaza. According to Serra, this is the point, "The viewer becomes aware of himself and of his movement through the plaza. As he moves, the sculpture changes. Contraction and expansion of the sculpture result from the viewer's movement. Step by step the perception not only of the sculpture but of the entire environment changes."

The sculpture generated controversy as soon as it is erected. Those against the sculpture (mostly people who work at Federal Plaza) say that the sculpture interferes with public use of the plaza. They also accuse it of attracting graffiti, rats, and terrorists who might use it as a blasting wall for bombs. A public hearing is to determine whether Tilted Arc should be relocated. Richard Serra testifies that the sculpture is site-specific, and that to remove it from its site is to destroy it. If the sculpture is relocated, he will remove his name from it. The public hearing is held in March 1985. During the hearing, 122 people testify in favor of retaining the sculpture, and 58 testify in favor of removing it. The jury of five, chaired by William Diamond, vote 4-1 in favor of removing the sculpture. Serra's appeal of the ruling fails. On March 15, 1989, during the night, federal workers cut Tilted Arc into three pieces, remove it from Federal Plaza, and cart it off to a scrap-metal yard.

The Tilted Arc decision prompts general questions about public art. The role of government funding, an artist's rights to his or her work, the role of the public in determining the value of a work of art, and whether public art should be judged by its popularity are all heatedly debated.



Vietnam War Memorial


The idea for a memorial came from a Vietnam veteran named Jan C. Scruggs. After watching the film "The Deer Hunter", he organized a group of veterans to petition the government to fund the first memorial to commemorate the soldiers who were lost in this unpopular war. Congress authorized the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1980, stating that it would be located prominently on the National Mall on two acres of Constitution Gardens. Following a contest involving over 1400 entries, a jury selected the design of Maya Ying Lin of Athens, Ohio, who at the time was a 21-year old architectural student at Yale University. The Wall was built in 1982 and immediately drew criticism from various veterans groups. Because of its minimalist design and its use of black granite stone which directly sliced into the landscape, the wall was dubbed by its critics "the black gash of shame" or a "giant tombstone."


In an attempt to appease those who wanted a more heroic and representational memorial, it was decided to add Frederick Hart's Statue of the Three Servicemen to the overall design .in 1984. Nine years later, in 1993, the Vietnam Women's Memorial was added women to honor the women who served and sacrificed during the Vietnam War.




Despite the original controvercy, The Wall is the most beloved of the memorials, and people who come to visit it rarely leave without being touched by it. Many leave momentos of letters, dogtags, flags, and personal possessions of those they knew who died in the Vietnam war. A museum was set up to collect and display these items.



Photo above from Larry Powell's book
"Hunger of the Heart: Communion at the Wall"

Letter to a Wall By Racheline Maltese

"I am a story teller. I came here to write about this place, but that is suddenly not what I am doing. I cried here at your wall today, but I don't know a single person on it. Every time I see a name that reminds me of one I know, I twitch. I do know people who were there. I do know how easily things could be reversed. And I don't know what I'd do without these people. So, I guess I need to thank you for them. I am only 21. I do not remember the war when it was happening. I did not learn about it in school. To see these men and women with their shirts and flags shakes me. Seeing the things people have left here shakes me. A picture of Jimi Hendrix, a bottle of Seagrams 7, a pack of cigarettes have reduced me to tears. I wonder if you watch us, if you see this. If you'd like to say thank you for these gifts. I wonder if we mourn for you or for ourselves. I came here recently before dawn, and it was empty. The wind was knocking over your flowers, and squirrels were playing on top of your black ledge. I stood at the apex of a wall, I guess at the apex of a war; and it started to pour. I just stood there. I live near here so I visit often now. Thank you for giving me something to understand...or to try to; these days, there is very little I understand. I can give you nothing but these words. But I promise I'll bring my kids here one day, make them remember, make it somehow more than just another story".



Memorial Statistics

Each of the walls is 246' 8" long. They meet at an angle of 125 degrees, pointing exactly to the northeast corners of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. At their vertex the walls are 10' 1 1Ú2" in height. The stone for the walls, safety curbs and walkways is black granite quarried near Bangalore, India. The names and inscriptions were gritblasted, using stencils produced through a photographic process. The names were arranged chronologically from computer tape of the official Vietnam casualty list. The letters are about 1/2" high. A total of 57,939 names were originally inscribed on the walls.The date "1959" is engraved on the upper left hand corner of the first panel before the first name. At the lower right corner of the first panel of the west side, we find the date "1975." When the memorial was finished, in 1982, some people expressed surprise at those dates. The Vietnam War, they thought, started in either 1964 or 1965 and ended in 1973 with the withdrawal of troops following the Paris Peace agreement. The origins of the conflict go back much earlier in the century, however. The truth is that 1959 and 1975 do not even begin to encompass the years of grief brought to American families by deaths in the Vietnam War.