Posts Tagged ‘George Bogdanovitch’

A Tribute To George

November 27, 2012

George Bogdanovitch passed away at the end of October. George was an arts educator and artist, a painter. George’s background was rather unusual by the rigors of today’s economics. His undergraduate degree was in Philosophy, with an MA in Art History and finally an MFA in painting and drawing. He also studied with Hans Hofmann and Allan Kaprow.  I enjoyed many conversations with George, mostly about art and culture. In the latter part of his life, George had some difficulty coming to terms with art, and the new arts educators supplanting the usual university turnover. It is difficult to decide whether they couldn’t talk with George, or wouldn’t. George was opinionated and outspoken. He didn’t cotton bad art (or educating). He began to be regarded as a curmudgeon, almost a pariah by some. Part of this had nothing to do with either George, or the new arts educators. The post modern didn’t dwell on good art/bad art. It was concerned with exploding what art is, finding it on the margins, in the street, on the packaging of fast food. For George, the post modern was new. Aggravating this all was popular culture; the capitalist culture that worshipped and demanded ever more new. His was the generation that established the preconditions of this need for the new.

Once again I had the good fortune of spending some time conversing with an arts educator before the resumption of classes post holiday break. She recounted shows she had been to, both in NYC as well as central Ohio. One NYC show she could describe the work presented. The others were mainly endorsements or descriptions of the artists’ outlook, without a clue on my part as to what she had experienced. Oh, but you must go see them, she has such a weird take on what it is to paint, etc. Attempts at synthesis with current culture or the arts curricula, student work, etc. led nowhere. Connections of this with that were untenable as it was all deemed fractious, fragmented, diverse and incoherent. What a person did to earn a living, the odds of any art student doing such from their art, the reasons for making art, and what is accepted or embraced as such were not considered parts of a continuum. All of this eventually left the arts educator realizing it was time to move on (talking art and culture leads nowhere), and me rather flummoxed. Later I thought of Pinchevski’s insights (previous posting), that the nature of technology has a bearing on the “discourse network” also described as “writing-down system”. Pinchevski approached it from the latter aspect in terms of the difference in archives. But I thought of it in terms of the former, of discourse as conversation. Maybe the arts educator could not describe the works she experienced but only her own response to them because any description or representation would have best been done through a digital imaging technology, like a cell phone (camera) or video recording. Thus, as Pinchevski points out, the works presented in the show could have been described or represented immediately through such performance, or (continuous) re-performance. What I took to be an inadequacy, a loss for words (over the description of the works presented at the various shows), could likewise be considered as a quite natural and acceptable no-need-for-words (you can see them online!).

During our conversation I mentioned George’s passing. A curious connection results from remembering George, his finding himself more and more at odds with the new(er) art faculty, and the loss for words that our conversation revealed when it came to describing the art witnessed. Some of the discourse concerning art after the end of art involved Kant’s aesthetic, especially that regarding the sublime. Kant’s sublime is, by nature, contained, limited, occurs within an envelope of space and time – yet it cannot be explicitly, completely, precisely or adequately defined. Skip the what came first, chicken or egg debate (theory or practice). Suffice it to say post modern art (and beyond) began more and more to be such that it could not be “explicitly, completely, precisely or adequately defined.” Enter video. Video gave credence (and sanity) to such an art (and culture) through the reassurance of continuously accessible (re)performance in place of words (and text). It provided a “discourse network” that elides reliance on the spoken word (conversation). Why should I tell you when I can show you (over and over and over)? For George, part of the delight, the pleasure of art, was in being able to talk about it, critique it, say it is bad or good in relation to the culture, the economy and politics. Unfortunately, George’s passing may also perform the passing of such conversation.