From the Publisher
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
You were asked to collect ten items that resonate with you from the 99 Cent Only stores and then to write an essay on your experience and on your relationship to the items. Now for the painting.
Since the time of Duchamp, one could legitimately use any ready-made object and contextualize it into art by intending its function to be "art" and/or by literally placing it in an art world framework. But if we can agree that art does not seek to mimic or represent at this point in history, then we have to ask ourselves why it is that we cannot not just use or represent these appropriated objects per se and call them art? For me, it's not enough to know that there is some interface between art and life. My focus is on a far more sublime understanding of this connection.
There is a brilliant passage in Arthur C. Danto's "Transfiguration of the Commonplace" (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981) that I would like to quote here:
".... say the Polish Rider of Rembrandt was not painted at all but is the result of someone's having dumped lots of paint in a centrifuge, giving the contrivance of a spin, and having the result splat onto the canvas, 'just to see what would happen.' And what happened is that by a kind of statistical miracle, the paint molecules disposed themselves in such a way as to produce something to all outward appearances exactly like one of the deepest paintings of one of the deepest artists in the history of the subject. Now the question is whether, knowing this fact, we are prepared to consider this randomly generated object a work of art."
Might this be an argument for transformation?
Think about the premise from which you operate, aspects of literalness or transfiguration in your work, your relationship to aesthetics, metaphor and expression. These are big issues that cannot be addressed in a single painting. But I am hoping that you can create one or more paintings with an awareness of such new, expanded limits. You will be asked to present sketches and ideas about your process from class to class.