Modernist Painting by Clement Greenberg

Posted on by Ben Hodson

When looking at the subject of modernism you cannot ignore the seminal work “Modernist Painting” by Clement Greenberg. Throughout my education I have read the essay severl times and have only just started to understand the importance of the work. 

Greenberg was an important art writer and defender of modernism, he established the notion of a painting being a two dimensional, flat surface with which the creator interacts to make an object in its own right. He argues “The essence of Modernism lies, as I see it, in the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticise the discipline itself, not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence.” Greenberg C.  In basic terms a painting being a painting, not what it depicts. “Painting” itself becomes the subject of the work and a synthesis between content and form.  The further you push this idea, you ultimately end up with the painting becoming an autonomous object.  Although it has a relationship with the real world - what it depicts is essentially a lie. 

Book Non-Places by Marc Augé

Posted on by Ben Hodson

In doing some more research into space, place and location I was recommended by a tutor to read the peice by Marc Augé 'Non-Places'. It introduces the idea of spaces that aren't destinations, spaces where people travel through and not too. This concept interests me, as a lot of the work I have been doing involves the notions of space and destination.

Augé talks of spaces such as hotel rooms, bus stops, train stations even hallways.  Places where we tend not to think too much about, rather pass by.

In my own practice this relevant to my desire to understand if it is the space I am interested or the narrative in which the space reveals.  Choosing 'non-spaces' as a subject would certainly force me to refine my intentions and better understand what it is I am trying to get out of the work.

I found the book engaging, some of the language was heavy, but the basic concept was explained well.  It did leave some further questions in my mind about the ownership of these spaces, which feeds a litle into some of the work that has been presented to us in the "politics of space".

Artist: Ernst Friedrich

Posted on by Ben Hodson

The German pacifist and anti war champion Ernst Friedrich created a book; “Krieg dem Kriege!” (War Against War!).  This book used shock tactics to reveal the atrocities of war to the masses.  Over one hundred and eighty images were primarily drawn from German medical and military archives from the First World War were combined in a published book.  The book starts by showing military based toys, such as toy soldiers, toy cannons and other war games for boys.  The book goes on to show some truly shocking and gruesome images even by todays desensitised standards.  This includes carefully positioned sets of diptychs.  This includes on one side an image of the heroic march off to war and on the other side an image from a mass grave from one of the battles.  It simply has the words; “Enthusiastic...for what? and on the opposing side ...for the field of honour.”(Ernst Friedrich, 1928) in four languages.  Friedrich's book had an incredible influence on “educated” society, however, he was imprisoned a number of times by the Nazi's which made continued production of works difficult.