Still shot from St. Vincent's "Digital Wellness" video directed by Chino Moya

Still shot from St. Vincent's "Digital Wellness" video directed by Chino Moya


By Leslie Fandrich // Themes: Music, Books, Artists // Category: Inspiring Ideas

 

Inspiration is an essential part of making things. Looking at the world around us and letting the bits and pieces that we discover permeate our subconscious is an excellent way to push ourselves into new creative territory. These are a few things that are inspiring me right now:

 


MUSIC

I've been listening to St. Vincent on the indy radio station for a few months now and the performance on SNL last weekend was so engaging that I finally bought the record and looked for a video. I was not disappointed! The album is amazing, a mix of modern vocal sounds and heavy guitar riffs by Annie Clark. It's now on repeat in my studio. The video for "Digital Wellness" is an epic vision of a future dystopia. Shot outside of Madrid last year and directed by Chino Moya the video has a gorgeous color palette and set direction. Here's a quote from an interview with the director about the project:

The inspiration for the treatment came from a few different sources, a soviet sci fi novel called We, the painter Neo Rauch, photographers Josef Schulz and Elad Lassry, Playmobil toys, comic books... But as soon as the project got signed off Stephane, the set designer and I made the deliberate decision to not look at any references in order to try to produce something that didn’t come directly from something else.
— Chino Moya

To watch the video, click to play:

In addition to St. Vincent, I am also listening to the new Beck album, Lorde, Coldplay, The Black Keys, Pharrell and Lykke Li.



BOOKS

Of great interest to me lately have been books about art. Not coffee table books or monographs, but STORIES and BIOGRAPHIES about artists that reveal what their lives were like. I have two on Marcel Duchamp that I am reading, The Afternoon Interviews and Affectionately, Marcel. There is my long time favorite by Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and the fascinating (although sometimes irritating) Autobiography of Peggy Guggenheim.

The book that is really inspiring me at the moment though is The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa by Michael Kimmelman. Filled with wonderful stories about the author's personal experiences with art, I have discovered many new-to-me artists and also insights into artists I was already aware of. His descriptions of Bonnard's reclusive life revealed so much about what motivated him to make so many paintings of his wife in domestic scenes and I was excited to learn about New York collage artist Ray Johnson, who was possibly the most famous artist that no one knew. I just watched the documentary about him, How to Draw a Bunny, and wow, what a strange and amazing life.

The most interesting story so far though has been about Jay DeFeo's ultimate piece of art, The Rose. You should read this book just for that one story alone. Over a period of eight years she worked on it in her Fillmore Street apartment, eventually growing it to 7.5 x 10.5 feet and amassing over one ton of paint. To me, it is more sculpture than painting and people talk about the immense presence it has when viewed in person. Her work on the piece and the story surrounding it is ART just as much as the piece itself. For a long time she refused to show it, she turned down gallery owners and it became known indirectly when Bruce Conner made a film about being forced to remove it from her apartment due to an eviction and needing to cut out a piece of wall to do so. It later became entombed in a wall at the Art Institute of San Francisco to protect it from further deterioration and took on a legendary status as a thing that was rumored about but never seen. It stayed behind the wall for twenty years until the Whitney restored it for an exhibition on The Beat Generation in 1995.

To watch the video, click to play:



ART

Speaking of the Whitney, I was so thrilled to check out the 2014 Biennial last week. Curated by three independent individuals, each got their own floor to create three singular visions of contemporary art. My favorite, by far, was Michelle Grabner's wonderful selections on the fourth floor. Her focus was on process and the waywardness of contemporary art. It was not meant to be fair or democratic, but to gather together art that artists would love. I was also thrilled at how many women were included. 40% isn't bad considering that for art museums it's sometimes as low as 5%. (reference Gallery Tally and Redressing the Balance) I also enjoyed Anthony Elms' selections on the third floor.

John Mason

John Mason

Louise Fishman

Louise Fishman

Dona Nelson

Dona Nelson

Joel Otterson

Joel Otterson

Amy Sillman

Amy Sillman

Molly Zuckerman

Molly Zuckerman

Sheila Hicks

Sheila Hicks

Carol Jackson

Carol Jackson

Peter Schuyff

Peter Schuyff

Suzanne McClelland

Suzanne McClelland

Charline von Heyl

Charline von Heyl

The Whitney Biennial is up for just a few more days, so if you are in New York be sure to check it out before it closes. The Whitney itself will also be closing soon, to prepare for a move down to the south entrance of The High Line in the Meatpacking district. I can't wait for the new building to open next year.

In the meantime I have been advised to check out The New Museum and galleries on the Lower East Side.

Now, do you have any recommendations for ME?