Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vancouver Art Gallery, The Revolution - What Revolution?

I have been thinking about the exhibition Wack! and why the time period it covers, 60s & 70s, is called a revolution in the art world. Though not all of the art world. The art historian, Robert Hughes has the view 'The 1970s, a time that evokes little nostalgia in the art world today, went by without leaving a "typical" art behind' (The Shock of the New p.364). He must have spent his days in white cube galleries over this time period. Or he defines art as a work in oils or acrylic painted on a regular shaped canvas. Anything else doesn't fit his definition of 'high/fine' art.
The 2 floors of the Vancouver Art Gallery, here, are full of works in a myriad of media with only a hint of the smell of oil. What work there is in oil/acrylic and worked traditionally on canvas is macro views of the human form such as Joan Semmel's work, or photo realistic/personal memento still lifes of Audry Flack and Jacqueline Fahey, all pushing the boundaries of 'real' art.

Sylvia Sleigh's Turkish Bath is a parody of the long popular nude harem fantasy subject of male artists. Sylvia's wicked sense of humour is even more apparent when one learns the men depicted are all art historians of the day. There also 2 versions of her regular model. After all, if she is painting him as an object, just as nude women have been painted for centuries, then her male object can be reproduced as many times as she wants to only she doesn't follow the rules by putting her multiple copies of her object in the same painting.
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