German Dictionary: convention a) (a practice) Brauch, der; it is the convention to do sth. es ist Brauch, etwas zu tun; conventions of spelling Rechtschreibregeln; b) no art, (established customs) Konvention, die; break with convention: sich über die Konventionen hinwegsetzen. [Langenscheidt, Dictionary]
MAN RAY and MARCEL DUCHAMP
ANDREW'S ART ARCHIVE
“… However, Pop Art had its enemies; anti-Pop was developed by the "NO" group and rejected the tendency by some Pop artists to cultivate standard images and stereotypes. Formed in 1958 by Boris Lurie, Sam Goodman and Stanley Fisher, this group was supported by the March Gallery, and later by the Gallery Gertrude Stein. Aggressive, chaotic, critical, political and angry, they used shock and horror tactics, environments incorporating handbills, statements, events, street actions and "Happenings" against what they saw as affirmative tendencies in Pop Art. …”
in: Andrew's Art Archive, Sydney, American Pop Art
I received a comment on one of my posts this last week indicating that an interview I conducted with Boris Lurie is now included on a website dedicated to the NO!art movement. The website, https://no-art.info/index.html, can be read in English or German.
The NO!artists countered the Pop Art movement during the 1960's by creating a hot, politically active art in contrast to the cool, politically aloof Pop movement. The movement was ignored through the 70's and 80's, but interest has been growing in their work and several retrospective shows have been mounted recently in the US and Germany.
Boris Lurie, a survivor of World War II German concentration camps and NO!art founder has been making artwork that is agressively anti-war and highly expressive for over 40 years in his New York studio. He and the other NO!artists were influenced heavily by Abstract Expressionism, but where these artists removed social content from their work, Lurie and others added intensely emotional and political commentary to their art while maintaining an emphasis on gesture and expression. Lurie is known for his use of knives, cement, women's clothing and pinup images in his sculptural assemblages, collages and paintings.
Rich in photographs and texts, the website is an important resource for anyone interested in arts from the 1950's and 60's as NO! has influences from expressionistic abstract works, as Lurie explains in our interview, but the movement also relates to the larger aesthetic/political changes in the arts during the postwar period
I may have to attempt a German translation of the interview to submit for consideration under the German heading as well. Posted by Alan at July 26, 2004
FROM A LETTER TO A FRIEND
I've been working on some ideas about individuality and the value of the individual as it changes through history, especially in relation to how individuality plays out in art. It seems to me that modernism in the early 20th century was much more willing to accept and promote people expressing their individuality (note the publication of the Founding Manifesto of Futurism in a Parisian paper in 1909) while now we promote professionalism and ability to work as a team. I'm looking at artists like Acconci who moved from fine art and now runs an architectural firm and Ken Friedman who moved from Fluxus to design. It seems to me that because art has become completely professional, something [NO!art founder Boris] Lurie pointed to in his interview I recently red, and is based solely on the money, that team design is the place artists can, in contrast to isolated individualist art, promote their ideas to the world in a way the art world rarely allows today. Posted by Alan at March 12, 2004
ART OR NO ART? WHO SHALL SETTLE IT?
By William Morris (1884)
The workman of the present day may well think that art is not a matter which concerns him much. To speak bluntly, he is not wealthy enough to share in such art (there is little enough of it told) as is going in civilized countries. His earnings are precarious, and his lodging precarious also, and, to boot, stowed away almost always in the dirtiest corners of our dirty cities; so that, at the risk of offending worthy people who are feebly trying to bestow some scraps of art on their "poorer brethren," it must be said that the workman's home must be bare of art. Indeed, the attempt to bring beauty into such homes would be a task to break the heart of the most patient artist in Europe. That shabby gift of the crumbs that fall from the children's table must be taken back again, for there is no such thing as cheap art, and workmen can only buy what is cheap. On the other hand if the workman takes it into his head to go some day to the galleries of art that he may try to understand the raptures of us artists over the works of past ages, how does he speed on his educational errand? What does he find? - the door shut in his face on the one day in the week on which he could carry out his attempt to learn something from the study of his own property the National Gallery say. It really does take an artist to understand the full farce of this stupendous joke of the defenders of religion against common sense and common honesty.
It would exceed the limits of a newspaper article to show how far the workman is from having any share in art when he is at his work, but my workman friends, at least, know all about that; for even those who are engaged on making the wares which, in the wretched slang of would-be cultivation, are called "art objects," have to work always as machines, or as the slaves of machines, and the "organisers of labour" take good care that neither the quality nor the quantity of the art in these "art objects" shall be too grand. Here, then, is the truth, which we artists know full well, that those who produce the wealth of civilized society have no share in art. So entirely are they cut off from it, that many, or most of them, it is to be feared, do not even know of their loss in this matter. Yet I am bound to assert here and everywhere that art is necessary to man unless he is to sink to something lower than the brutes. Middle class supremacy has brought us to this at last, that such art as there is left is used (whatever its merits may be in each case as a toy for the rich, while the workers are debarred from having any art, either in their work or their homes; that is to say that the workers are doomed by capitalism to live without the pleasure which is necessary to humanity.
Yes, middle class supremacy! for things were very different all through the Middle Ages from the 12th to the end of the 16th century, while the middle class was being formed from the enfranchised serfs, yeomen, and craftsmen of the guilds. Throughout that period, at least, all manufactured goods, everything that admitted of ornament was made more or less beautiful; nor was the beauty charged for as a separate article, for all craftsmen were more or less artists, and could not help adding beauty to the goods they made. It is easy to see that this could not have happened if they had been working for the profit of a master. They worked, on the contrary, under such conditions that they themselves were masters of their time, tools, and materials, and, for the most part, their goods were exchanged by the simple process of the user buying from the maker. Under these circumstances it was a matter of course that a man, being master of his work should choose to make it pleasanter to himself by exercising on it that love of beauty which is common to all men till it is crushed out of them by the mere bitter struggle for life called competition for wages, and by subjection to a master who also is struggling for profit against other competitors. This system of a man working for himself leisurely and happily was infinitely better, both as regards the worker and his work, than that division of labour system which the profit-grinding of rising commercialism supplanted it by; but of course it is impossible to go back to such a simple system, even if it would not involve, as it would, a return to the whole hierarchical, or feudal state of society. On the other hand it is as necessary for the existence of art as it is for the well-being of the people otherwise, that the workman should again have control over his material, his tools, and his time only that control must no longer be of the individual workman, as in the Middle ages but of the whole body of workmen. When the workers organise work for the benefit of the workers, that is to say of the whole people, they will once more know what is meant by art; but if this social revolution does not come about (but it must) art will assuredly perish, and the rich will have no more of it than the poor.
It is most important, therefore, for the workers to take note how capitalism has deprived them of art, for that word means merely the pleasure of life, nothing less. I beseech them to consider it not a little thing but a most grievous wound that their work should be barren of attractiveness and their homes of beauty: and I assure them that this wrong is not an accident, not the result of the carelessness and hurry of modern life, which a few well-meaning men of the middle class backed by money can set right. It is not accidental, to be met by palliatives and temporary remedies, but it is the result of the subjection of the poor to the rich, and, at the same time, is the most obvious badge of that subjection. One thing only can amend it, the outcome of that class-struggle now happily in progress, and which will end by abolishing all classes.
FLAVIN AND VIOLA LIGHT WORKS RULED "NOT ART"
By Georgina Adam
“Absurd” decision by European Commission means VAT of 20%, rather than 5% | Online 16 Dec 2010 | In: The Art Newspaper | 70 South Lambeth Road | London SW8 1RL | United Kingdom
LONDON. In an astonishing move, the European Commission (EC) has reversed a decision made in a UK tax tribunal, and refused to classify works by Dan Flavin and Bill Viola as “art”. This means that UK galleries and auction houses will have to pay full VAT (value added tax, which goes up to 20% next year) and customs dues on video and light works, when they are imported from outside the EU. The decision is binding on all member states.
The new classification goes against a victory won in a UK tribunal in 2008 (The Art Newspaper, February 2009, p47). A legal battle began after the Haunch of Venison gallery imported six disassembled video installations by Viola into the UK from the US in 2006, and sought to import a light sculpture by Flavin. Declared as “sculpture”, they would only have been liable for 5% VAT.
But customs rejected this, and charged Haunch of Venison £36,000 duty. In 2008 Haunch appealed, and won: the VAT and Duties Tribunal ruled that such works were indeed “art” and only liable to 5% VAT.
Now the EC has overturned this decision. In its ruling a Flavin work is described as having “the characteristics of lighting fittings…and is therefore to be classified…as wall lighting fittings”. As for Viola, the video-sound installation, says the document, cannot be classified as a sculpture “as it is not the installation that constitutes a ‘work of art’ but the result of the operations (the light effect) carried out by it”.
Art lawyer Pierre Valentin, who at the time represented Haunch of Venison (he no longer does so) commented: “The reasons given by the European Commission for classifying works by Bill Viola and Dan Flavin as, eg ‘projectors’ and ‘wall light fittings’, are extraordinary. To suggest, for example, that a work by Dan Flavin is a work of art only when it is switched on, is comical. The national courts of two member states (the UK and the Netherlands) have considered the classification of video and light installations and both have concurred that they should be classified as art under Chapter 97 of the Common Customs Tariff. One is entitled to ask if the Commission has made a judicious use of its powers when overruling these judicial decisions. The reasons given in the regulation in support of the classification are absurd, and the regulation conflicts with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice.”