I feel I should explain myself in regards to why I chose to study Art History at degree level.
In my previous post I expressed my opinions as to why I don’t like galleries (which I stand by) but I didn’t choose to study art history so I could bumble around galleries all day with my hands behind my back and nodding knowingly at each piece of art.
I chose to study art history because I found, when I was researching different artists in college, that I enjoyed the stories behind the art works rather than the art works themselves. I revelled in finding little anecdotes that had led to movements or a series of work that had made that particular artist infamous.
So I thought that I would share the three short stories which made me want to be an art world story teller.
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917.
Duchamp submitted Fountain (a very ordinary urinal that he had purchased from a sanitary ware supplier) under the name of “R. Mutt” to The Society of Independent Artists for an exhibition in New York. Duchamp himself was on the board at the time and even had a hand in founding the Society. The Society quickly dismissed the submission of Fountain, explaining that something that was associated with bodily waste could not be considered art and was in fact indecent (especially to women). Duchamp resigned in protest that no artist’s work should be censored.
Duchamp never explicitly explained why he chose to submit Fountain, but it was hinted that it was an act to test the Society’s commitment in allowing artists freedom of expression and new concepts of art.
Fountain is now seen as an iconic image for the Ready-Made movement and is also associated with the early origins of the Dada movement.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/duchamp-fountain (Acessed: 11 November 2017)
Jospeh Beuys and his obsession with felt.
In 1941 during World War 2 Beuys volunteered for the Luftwaffe. When his plane crashed in 1944 Bueys told the story that German search parties had given up looking for him, and that he only reason he lived was because he was rescued by a nomadic tribe called Tartar Tribesmen that wrapped him in felt and animal fat and nursed him back to health.
The wrapping of fat and felt is an ancient healing aid which was known for enriching and sustaining mind, body and spirit. It is important to point out however that in some sources it was documented that Beuys was in fact found by a German search commando and spent the next two weeks in hospital recovering from the crash. No matter which story is true felt became a huge part of Beuys work and made it instantly recognisable, the most famous of the felt work would have to be Felt Suit, 1970.
http://www.m.theartstory.org/artist-beuys-joseph.htm (Accessed: 11 November 2017)
The many stories of Yves Klein.
Probably most famously known for creating his own shade of ultramarine (IKB- International Klein Blue) and creating a series of female nude body prints (Anthropometries Series, 1960.) with said blue, it’s Klein’s personal life which intrigued me the most when I first started researching him. My most favourite stories about Klein, which don’t even relate to any art work he produced, but shed light on his way of infinite thinking are anecdotes about him sat on his roof in Paris. Klein and his two friends Armand Fernandez and poet Claude Pascal used to meditate on the roof of their house, fast for a day, then a week and then a month or so they said… They learnt Judo, in which Klein achieved a black belt in; but Judo also helped Klein develop his methods of deep concentration and secure his focus on the metaphysical concept of his “monochromy” art. Klein and his friends also developed the idea of riding horse back around the world, finishing in Japan… All those little snippets of stories made me love Klein and his work because he saw a vision that no one else understood but in time made the whole world understand it.
Weitemeier, H. (2016) Yves Klein. Benedikt, Taschen. (p. 8-9)