Our look at some of the Great Living Artists features an artist who incorporated a talent for people watching and stalking into her early work, a director who likes to us to delve into our unconscious, a sculptor who revels in creating with flimsy or castaway materials and an artist who believes art can speak to us better when broken.
American artist Richard Tuttle‘s work has been consistently evolving over the last three decades influencing new generations of artists along the way. In this time he has established himself as one of the most respected living artists. Breaking down the normal grander imposing conventions of sculpture favoured by larger works and solid materials Tuttle’s work uses flimsy, castaway or everyday materials and is more humble in proportions.
Yet unlike others from the Post Minimalist school he does strive for aesthetic beauty in his compositions. In his selected quotes Tuttle expresses the importance of art for individuals. ’In our culture there is a job for art, because we can’t experience reality anywhere else.’
‘I just think that people who have art in their lives have better lives.’
Angela de la Cruz
When we visited the Saatchi Gallery recently we took the opportunity to canvas some of the artist’s exhibiting at the New Order II: British Art Today exhibition, art critics and the public for their favourite living artists. One name that constantly came up was Spanish artist Angela de la Cruz. The artist suffered a massive stroke in 2005, which she was in a coma after for several months, and as a result is confined to a wheelchair and not fully recovered the full power of speech.
In 2010 De la Cruz was nominated for the Turner Prize for modern art. In a radio interview with the BBC’s Mark Lawson, aided by an assistant, de la Cruz gave an insight into her work: ‘I make paintings in a very traditional way. They have to be perfect before I destroy them. I do paintings that become sculpture and then sculpture becomes painting.’ The “destruction” process in her art is likely born out of a 1995 work called Ashamed which was accidentally broken in the process but provided a desired effect. ‘When they are broken they can speak better,’ said de la Cruz.
Ever since the release of his first feature length movie Eraserhead in 1977 director David Lynch has been crafting unforgettable movies. Maybe it is his preoccupation with the surreal, the dreamlike and the unconscious that has the power to delve deeper into our psyches, to the places we don’t often go but when we do we rarely forget the experience. Lynch’s first major commercial film was the harrowing, sad The Elephant Man, a retelling of the life of Joseph Merrick, an Englishman who lived with severe deformities in the 1800’s and who was exhibited as a human curiosity.
The film would earn Lynch an Oscar nomination. In the 1980’s Lynch would break the mould with his innovative, surreal glossy made for TV series, Twin Peaks. The series felt way ahead of its time and the style would become an recognisable trademark for the rest of his career with dark, surreal, provocative and unsettling films such as Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive. It’s often being remarked that nobody makes films like David Lynch and which has cemented his place as one of the most important living and great directors.
Parisian conceptual artist Sophie Calle like many creatives started off just doing her thing, probably wondering why other people were not doing similar stuff, like following and photographing strangers or documenting numerous people that she had invited to sleep in her bed. It was others, she said, who first described those actions as art and her as an artist.
Her bed sharing antics would eventually become The Sleepers (Les Dormeurs) one of her first major works. Where other conceptual artists somehow give the perception of possibly an anguished time spent in coming up with “the idea”, the slightly torturous execution, the “novel” yet seemingly not ground-breaking or even thought provoking result beyond the mildly distracting, Calle seems to have that wonderfully playful, charming bohemian French way of just thinking of cool, if a tad unconventional, ways to spend her time and in the process manage to make intriguing yet polished art out of it.
A good example of such a project was when she decided to follow a man she had met at a party. Knowing he would be in Venice she tracked him down and then proceeded to follow him around and document the process like a detective but with her subjective, emotional and psychological responses attached to it. Calle likened the experience of following the man to the excitement of the chase and the thrill of being in love. Her endeavours would enable her to produce a book called Suite Venitienne, full of black and white photographs and text that read like part detective notes to part journalism reporting.
Image Sophie Calle AOP Images via Flickr
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Great Living Artists – Holzer, Sherman, Kapoor, Ono
Great Living Artists – Raza, Hirst, Kiefer, Barcelo