\ Joshua Decter \ Lari Pittman \ David A. Ross \ Peter Schjeldahl \ Benjamin Weil \ Q&A \

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    "Art and life illuminate each other more and more; they reveal more and more their laws according to which a real and living balance is created." "It is a great pity that those who are concerned with the social life in general do not realize the utility of pure abstract art."
    Mondrian, Plastic Art and Pure Plastic Art, 1937.

    "... the viewer of the TV mosaic, with technical control of the image, unconsciously reconfigures the dots into an abstract work of art...."
    Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media

First, I would just like to say -- for the record -- that I consider painting (and all other art practices) to comprise a certain aspect of media culture generally; they are not wholly divorced from it, but play at the fringes of the culture's popular imagination (or, our manufactured popular imaginations).

Strange days indeed: how do the relatively discrete visual conditions of painting, the image-saturated realities of media culture, and the expanding networks of communication technologies coexist in our culture? And what happens when these distinct modes of representation and abstraction -- and their attendant philosophies -- either co-mingle in the realm of painting, or are rejected by it?

In a sense, these issues are not new, but have nevertheless called out for occasional re-definition. For me, the root of these ideas can be located within the critical response to the emergence of Pop Art both in England and the United States in the late fifties and early 1960s (e.g., the writings of Lawrence Alloway); the questions raised by the practice of Gerhard Richter; related issues re-surfaced in the late 1970s as the notion of "pictures" underwent re-definition with artists such as Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo who were attuned to the vernacular of film culture and media culture generally; and then were of course re-formulated during the 1980s by diverse group of artists -- ranging from Peter Halley to Barbara Kruger -- addressed themselves to the prevailing visual codes of popular culture and technological society.

But in the main, these issues have been discussed from one perspective: how artists, working in distinct mediums, have brought material from a so-called external source (e.g., movies, television, advertising, etc.) into the space of their respective practices. Why? Because it has made little sense to speak about how it might work the other way around-- from the other direction. And that's because, with only rare exceptions, in this country, artists are largely prohibited from making work in the "mainstream" culture.

What about Robert Longo,David Salle, Julian Schnabel and now Cindy Sherman, you ask? Well, these are anomalies, for the time being. Film (even much "independent" cinema), television are not terribly interested in opening up their contexts for visual artists, and the magazines are only interested when fashion -- or some racy or controversial topic is involved. But I'm speaking less here about coverage or press than I am about new sites -- and new languages -- in and through which artists can produce.

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