State of the Arts/VISUAL ARTS
Nordell: Somehow this conversation got going on an unexpected tack. Is what you said true -- that people who look at a lot of art and architecture, and write about it, find fewer and fewer things that interest them? Wolff: Well, on the one hand, yes, it's true. If I'm looking for significant art, if I'm looking for work that follows a particular dogma or theory, then I find that the older I become, the more experienced I become, there are fewer and fewer works which really do fall into that category. However, it's also true that I increasingly discover that there are more and more components, that art is infinitely richer than I had thought it was 5, 10, 15, or 20 years ago. There is much more work which I would say is of fine quality, much more than I would have accepted as art before.Skip to next paragraph
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Nordell: Does that mean junk art and ``non-art''?
Wolff: Well, in certain instances, because I am then intrigued, essentially, to find out why this work was made. That has added a whole new dimension for me: the issue of getting to know the artists, of discussing the work with them, and finding exactly what it was that motivated them to create what we would call junk art. I'm thinking mostly, though, of work that is highly intuitive and that doesn't seem to have any precedents -- and that today is very often produced by young women who do not have the father role that most men seem to have to follow. They are freer to sort of explode with these images.
Nordell: In this day and age we're finding sex roles in art]
Andreae: It's very interesting what Ted said, because I have very much been thinking along similar kinds of lines. But it seems to me that I've divided my criteria into top art and a kind of ``lower'' rung - which has avoided the issue of ``great'' art - which comes to people's tongues so easily and so trippingly. I cannot stand the phrase ``great art.'' It should be expunged once and for all!
Nordell: There'll be the usual pistols at dawn after the taping here.
Andreae: No, just good argument.... But what's so interesting about women's art is not the explosive aspect of it, to me, but the fact that it has a different level of expectation. It isn't a question of great art or pretentious art, and it deflates that kind of criterion. It's really a question of coming closer to something to do with humanity. It stops you asking the questions ``Is this good? Is this great?'' Or even ``Is this qualified in some sort of way?'' It simply says, ``Look, this is what I've done.''
Nordell: Can we put any names or faces to what we're talking about?
Andreae: I can think of some British examples. You know Elizabeth Blackadder. She's a Scottish painter who works roughly within a modern kind of phase but has also become immensely interested in painting flowers. And she paints very fine and surprising ``still lifes'' - not at all conventional - Japanese in sensibility, as rich in color as Indian miniatures. Now, this sounds incredibly little - and it is, in a funny sort of way. But her painting is extremely sensitive, with marvelous life and directness. It's not at all small-minded.
Another Scottish artist called Liz Ogilvie does drawings of the sea. They're big-scale drawings. But they are done minutely, with pencil. They have a large ambition, but tempered with a moving sort of tenderness.
Wolff: May I interject here? It seems that younger American artists would not agree with you on this. I mean that Susan Rothenberg, Melissa Miller, quite a few of the other ones, speak with the same kind of language that the men do. I mean, they also see themselves within the historical tradition and their work as a part of the dialogue. But I'd also like to say that I increasingly do not go out into the art world with any sort of a notion about looking at great art.