O Canada

Canada Rocks! Through the years, we’ve produced some incredible artists. The following Canadian’s currently sit atop the art world.

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ABOVE: David Altmejd, The Holes, 2008, sculpture

From Lawren Harris to Norval Morrisseau, many a brilliant artist has come from the Great White North.

While the narrative of Canadian art continues to be written, the following Canucks are currently tops in the art world:

David Altmejd

One of my favorite artists. Period. Altmejd is a Montreal-born, New York-based sculptor whose intricate works are both beautiful and grotesque.

Terence Koh

A graduate of the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vanvouver, Koh does just everything, from prints and photographs, to installations and performances. He even has his own Youtube channel.

Kim Dorland

Born in Alberta, Dorland currently lives and paints in Toronto. Although his landscapes and portraits are often compared to works by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, a much better comparable is Peter Doig.

Sherry Boyle

A graduate of OCAD University – before it was a University – Boyle is an interdisciplinary artist whose body of work includes porcelain sculptures and large-scale installations.

An Afternoon with Duchamp

Books on art are often difficult, but they don’t have to be. Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews by Calvin Tomkins is a must read for artists.

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My e-reader recently broke, so to feed my habit, I hit the local bookstore in search of a fix.

While rummaging through the art section, I came across Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews and immediately, I was intrigued.

To me, Duchamp has always been an enigma. On the one hand, he’s a genius whose place in history is all but assured. On the other, he has inspired a lot of weak and lazy art.

I had my doubts about the book, but above all else, I worried that it would be…well…just plain weird.

After going back and forth for several minutes, I finally decided to take the plunge. I’m glad I did. This book is awesome.

The interviewer – Calvin Tomkins – does an excellent job of keeping it casual, and Duchamp comes across as a laid-back and decent dude.

Although he’s spawned a lot of difficult art, this is not a difficult book. If you’ve got an afternoon to fill, I highly recommend you spend it with Duchamp.

Critiquing the Critics

All artists love art (duh), and every artist needs to stay informed. Here is a quick list of critics we should all follow.

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ABOVE: Jerry Saltz, Photo: The Knight Foundation

I love art, and I love to read about it. That said, I am not a fan of Artspeak, and I’ve little interest in PHD hyperbole.

If you’re into well-formulated opinions – written in plain English – you’ll love the following critics:

Jerry Saltz – New York Magazine

My favorite art critic. Saltz is all about accessibility. He often responds to comments on his articles, is a Facebook pro-star, and even did a Reddit AMA.

Roberta Smith – New York Times

Married to Jerry Saltz, Smith is by far the more formal of the two. Even so, her reviews are clear and insightful.

Adrian Searle – UK Guardian

Searle loves the camera (in a good way), and his video reviews are often excellent. His writing isn’t bad either.

Jonathan Jones – UK Guardian

His articles are short. So are the tempers in the comments section.

Tyler Green – Modern Art Notes

I have a soft spot for Tyler Green. He reviewed a group show I was in (glowingly).

Paddy Johnson – Art F City

Although New York based, Johnson has covered many of the art world’s biggest fairs. She even reviewed Art Toronto (albeit, not glowingly).

Hrag Vartanian – Hyperallergic

If you’re at all into contemporary art, Hyperallergic is a must read.

Grading the 2014 OCAD University Graduation Exhibition

OCAD University is one of Canada’s top art schools (and rightfully so). Here is a quick review of the 2014 Graduation Exhibition.

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ABOVE: The Sharp Centre for Design @ OCAD University, Photo: John Vetterli

This past weekend, I went to the graduation exhibition at OCAD University (formerly, the Ontario College of Art and Design).

I look forward to this show every year, and I am always impressed. The 2014 edition was no exception.

Not everything is great – they’re students after all – but the potential is boundless, the optimism palpable, and the talent apparent.

Will the class of ’14 be one for the ages? Is there another Carmichael, Bush or Boyle in the mix? It’s probably too soon to tell. One thing’s for sure, OCAD U will produce one sooner or later.

Here’s hoping these grads are still creating five, ten and twenty years from now. Good luck to them all.

Grade: A+

ARTISTS TO WATCH:

Hudson Christie

Camille Jodoin-Eng

Rebecca Ladds

Sarah Letovsky

Katlyn Nemo

Does Talent Matter?

What is talent? Is it skill? Is it theory? Is it marketing? Hmm…how do the powers that be choose what is, and isn’t worthy?

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Ledger 1982 by Robert Ryman born 1930

ABOVE: Robert Ryman, Ledger, 1982, enamelac paint on fibreglass & aluminium and wood, 30 x 28 x 1.4 inches, Tate Britain, Photo: © Tate, London [2014]

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“I’m not limited by a certain narrative that I want to get across. There’s no symbolism or story that I need to tell or some kind of political project that I might want to do.” Robert Ryman

“I’m not physically involved in the production. I don’t have the necessary abilities, so I go to the top people.” Jeff Koons

“The best spot painting you can have by me is one painted by Rachel.” Damien Hirst

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Does talent matter at the top of the art world? If so, how is it quantified?

To many, talent refers to technical skill, but:

You don’t need to know how to draw, paint, or sculpt to be successful.

To others, talent refers to ideas, but:

You need a fancy degree (lots of $’s) in order to be taken seriously.

Hmm. How do the powers that be choose the art stars of tomorrow?