Tuesday, January 4, 2011

ARMAN 22 Septembre 2010- 10 Janvier 2011 Centre Pompidou, Paris. By craniv boyd.

ARMAN 22 Septembre 2010- 10 Janvier 2011 Centre Pompidou, Paris. By craniv boyd.

It is great to see a retrospective of France's competitor and contemporary to Robert Rauschenberg, Arman, master of art informel. Arman is the real deal and seeing his artistic trajectory and development over the course of 7 large halls at the Pompidou is a treat. It gives an alternative view to the story of modernism. Today there is a connection between the art of post war 1960's Paris and New York and lets say the art that came after it, the art of 1980's New York or art of 1990's London. 

Arman started painting. Painting in a way that was formalistic and in-debited to Jackson Pollock, the American who broke the game wide open by hitting the ball out of the part with autumn rhythm. What Arman was doing in the late fifties and early sixties was however cerebral, it became a method of pattern making and the same process that produced Arman's paintings of the time was recorded for relative posterity on a 16mm film, were are Arman is drawing in the wet sand on a beach in France. A naked young Blond woman also appears mysteriously and relatively in a non-secquetor style in the film on display along side with these early paintings. Another film collaboration with an experimental film director Jacques Brissot, juxtaposes all over black and white non-objective painting with Aerial photography of bombed out European cities. The rapid jump cuts blur the lines between random violence of warfare and destruction and random yet structured creativity of non-objective painting. The fact the both things, bombed out cities and black and white "all over" painting end up looking the same, begs us to ask the question, is the human organism really capable of creating something that is truly non representational. Or is post war art a reaction and depiction of the unprecedented trauma and wide scale destruction caused by world war two? 

While Yves Kline was still living Arman and he would collaborate and associate together. Arman used the paint international Yves Kline Blue in some of his works at the time. Then he got really interesting, taking a kind of hiatus from painting and depicting and representing the modern moment through the refuse of the cities. In a brilliant promotional act Arman rode around in a dumpster in the streets of Paris collecting trash in a suit. Dressed in the costume of the 1960's everyman, he took the trash, became the grandfather of dumpster diving as we know it today, developed an advanced proto relational aesthetics practice, and challenged the status quo. Arman then went on to work in depth with informal art, focusing his collection of trash into portraits of individuals, Specific street corners on a particular day, and cities. People and places became identifiable and recognizable by the objects they discarded. Seeing these works now of the things 1960's Parisians threw away then, mostly things that would still be considered trash today for example an empty cardboard box of feminine hygiene products, one gets a picture of sameness. Yes, trash objects them selves remain trash objects today, disposable packaging, but the look of the packaging and the ephemera has changed drastically. 

What is so important about Arman and many artists is that his artwork is and was ahead of his time, his trash works were a critique of capitalism and consumerism not a mere celebration of it, he places used and discarded objects in vitrine to ask the question why and what happens if we continue like this? There is not the same kind of reverence for consumerism that is present in Jeff Koons work of the New and Pre New, where Hoover vacuum cleaners are encased in plexi-glass and lit with neon. There is not the same totem worship in Arman's work with Damien Hirst lexicon like medicine cabinets from the impossible pharmacy. Arman does not seem to think that this plethora of consumerism is healthy for mankind nor the Planet. His art and moral and political leanings make him a pre green party environmentalist. By craniv boyd.

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