I wish we'd all stop giving irony so much undue attention.
The 90s were ironic, in the true sense of the word, but I don't think artists are still using it the way critics claim they are.
So, anyway. Jerry Saltz reviewed Amy Sillman's new show, and suggests that she's an artistic gypsy because she wanders between AbEx and mid-century abstraction and modernism. He says her brand of irony (though he suggests there may not really be any) could be the direct product of her interest in those particular genres of art history. Therefore her irony is recessive, he says, which can make her work look old-fashioned. (Here Saltz mentions Artforum [twice], Michael Krebber, and Kelley Walker all in the same paragraph, which should be a felony or at least warrant a hard stream of piss to the eye). But this statement is, to me, is very thought provoking:
There are still no memorable images in the eight paintings in her current show...
Memorable images. Are they really not memorable, or are they just subtle in a way that doesn't register as fresh or clued-in, i.e. pertinent? Is the feeling of something when the thing itself is out of reach, and the images can't present themselves in any totality, really out of date? Isn't it a slower, more in-depth investigation; the opposite of the forced, quotation-like narrative we've come to define as clever? Has irony disabled our ability to build formally on history in an effort to enforce some kind of time stamp for the present? I might be totally misreading Saltz, but to elevate irony to this level - to suggest that it is the missing link when we should be hoping instead for satire - gives irony a source of power that it really doesn't deserve.
posted by Edna at 3:10 AM