Posts Tagged ‘Jane Fonda’

The Geffen Contemporary (part of the MOCA) is featuring a retrospective on the work of Dennis Hopper.  Primarily known as an actor and director, Hopper also experimented with various art mediums (sculpture, painting, photography, found objects).  The exhibit, curated by Julian Schnabel, is the first comprehensive showing of Hopper’s work.  Hopper, who died at the beginning of the summer, worked with Schnabel to plan the exhibit.

[Self portrait at a porn stand, 1962]

Nothing in the exhibit was particularly striking.  Hopper was not (and never claimed to be) a master painting, or skilled photographer.  He believed his work was important and deserved to be looked at, but, if the exhibit is any proof, he mostly just created because he had things he wanted to try.  His photography, primarily exhibited in one room, with dozens of pieces per wall, is normal.  He took pictures of the streets and people where he happened to be.  His painting is fair, attempting some interesting things with color.  His sculpture places him firmly in a post-fifties Los Angeles, trying to come to terms with his city.  Not much is brilliant, but everything seems to be done for the love of the thing.  The desire to try something new.

This amateur-ness is refreshing, in a world where we are married to specialization.  We seem to only want to try things we know we’ll be good at.  Why pick up a new instrument, cook an exotic dish, or open a can of paint when there are people we could pay to do these things better than we ever can?  Well, although as humans, creation is an imperfect process– it is creation nonetheless.  We must beware of equivocating excellence-consumed with excellence-created.  Looking at the beautiful masterworks is not creation.  It is good, but it is not enough.  A life of consumption without creation is inhuman; we were created to till the earth and then consume the fruit of our labors.

Usually only art professionals get their work exhibited, and often only art professionals see it.  Hopper is exhibited, I’m certain, because he’s famous in the film world, and culturally– not because his paintings are studied the world over.  But here, we get to see the work that he’s not as famous for.  The stuff he messed about with.  I would not want all art exhibits to be like Hopper’s, I would hope that often we hold up for study and contemplation the best of the best.  But, as I said, this was refreshing.

[Jane Fonda, 1967]

[Jane Fonda (with bow and arrow), Malibu, 1965]

I walked out of the exhibit wanting to mess about with art.  I wish more art museums left me with this impulse.

R. Card Hyatt

P.S.  Also, on a completely unrelated note.  I enjoyed his photos of Jane Fonda.  Seeing an actress’s beautiful body which hasn’t been airbrushed within an inch of its life is a novelty these days.


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