Aesthetics Reviews

I’m Just Going To Try This

Two of the most interesting pieces of writing on art that I know of are misunderstandings of paintings by Art & Language (A&L).

A review of the later series of “Hostages” that I now forget the details of made the mistake of treating the paintings as metaphors for a literal hostage situation. The relations of figure and ground were taken as indicating the uncertainties of unfolding reposts of a hostage situation. What is interesting is that the reviewer saw the painting as constructed of these relations but didn’t see (or read) what they represent.

A review of “Index: The Studio At 3 Wesley Place (Painted By Mouth)” by Barbara Kruger made the mistake of judging the painting from a black & white photograph. This renders her confident disparaging of the technical effects of the work funny, and her consideration of the work’s content and ambitions bogus.

I mention these reviews because I am probably about to make the same mistakes as both. I don’t have access to Art & Language’s writings about their latest work and I am going to be looking at photographs of them. A&L’s work is always rewarding in real life whether or not you are in on its textual content, but some of it is designed to resist reproduction. I am deliberately opening myself to embarrassment here. Hopefully A&L will have a show at the Lisson soon and I’ll be able to find out just how embarrassed I should be.

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