Metonymy In Contemporary Art: A New Paradigm
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In Metonymy in Contemporary Art, Denise Green develops an original approach to art criticism and modes of creativity inspired by aspects of Australian Aboriginal and Indian thought. Interweaving her own evolution as an artist with critiques of Clement Greenberg and Walter Benjamin as well as commentary on artists such as Joseph Beuys, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, and others, Green explores the concept of metonymic thinking as developed by the poet and linguist A. K. Ramanujan and its relevance to contemporary painting and aesthetics. In Ramanujan's formulation of metonymic thinking, the human and natural worlds are intrinsically related to one another as are the transcendent and mundane. When applied to contemporary art, metonymic thinking implies that one must understand that the creativity of the artist flows from a fusion of an inner state of mind and the outer material world. Pointing out how this alternative aesthetic and cognitive mode is left wanting in art criticism, Green argues for a critical discourse and interpretive mode in contemporary art that is at once global and pluralist in perspective. Denise Green is an Australian American artist and writer in New York City. Since 1972 her work has been the subject of over eighty-five solo exhibitions. She has collaborated as an editor for Semiotext(e) and is a member of the Graduate Faculty at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Her writings have appeared in Arts Magazine, Art Press, Art Monthly Australia, and Art and Australia. Retrospectives of her work have appeared in major museums from the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center/Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, the Ludwig Museum in Budapest, and the Saarland Museum in Saarbrücken, Germany. Examples of her work can be found at www.denisegreen.net.
Special thanks are due to Betsy Brennan, Penelope Jaffray and Keith McConnell for their guidance and input. I would also like to acknowledge the assistance of Anthony Wai I is of the Aboriginal Artists' Agency, Sydney. Several chapters have been published previously in art journals. 'Painterly Thought and the Unconscious' was published in Art Press, Paris; the Greenberg essay first appeared as 'Painting Post Greenberg' in Art Monthly Australia; Viewing Walter Benjamin within a Global Perspective'
Fellow, a leading poet in English in India and an important translator of medieval Indian poetry. He wrote a rich and profound analysis of what he saw as the difference between Western and Indian thought. His key essay, Is there an Indian way of thinking?, was the result of a lifetime of reflection. But, to understand his text the reader needs a certain background in Western and Indian philosophical thought. It took me many years and numerous readings to penetrate the essence of Ramanujan's
proposed course by Isabelle Mullet and Rachel Wimpee. Metonymy in Contemporary Art 62 Denise Green, Nine Degrees, 1979. Oil and wax stick on canvas, 213 x 213cm, diptych. Away from Australia: My Aesthetic in the 1970s 63 Chapter 5 Robert Motherwell: On Mark Rothko DG: Was Rothko involved in 'dialogue' with other artists, or did he work in isolation? RM: On one side he was a very alienated person but then on the other, he saw more artists on a casual basis than any artist I've known.
Byrne, Lucinda Childs, Heiner Muller and Isabelle Huppert to be inspiring. There are also times when an artist's work changes suddenly, or radically, or subtly - and a radical shift in his or her familiar imagery occurs. Many artists are not consciously aware of the reasons for such occurrences. Some changes are intuitive, others deliberate and calculated, still others are suppressed. Some artists will destroy drawings and paintings that show a sudden change in the direction of their work for
are calculated just because I get bored. Or things happen as planned accidents. It's not that I work at only one thing at a time. For instance, if I'm doing a sculptural exhibition or a series of drawings, I start with one idea, and then let it sit. Maybe six months later I start with another and then combine the two. Eventually different ideas, thoughts and forms get filtered into the same material. DG: What fuels the development in your work? BL: My own personal excitement about discovering