Nov 25, 2010

Twentysix Gasoline Stations for Sale

Endless Present

Robert Rooney and Conceptual Art

Adverts for this exhibition made my old memory race as some years ago when I was teaching at GIAE (Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education) The Head of the Art theory department gave me the little set of Artist Books pictured above, evidently the library was clearing out dross, he'd been given them, wasn't interested in them and passed them on to me.

I located them all on one of my bookshelves coincidentally squeezed between Micheal Foucault's This is not a Pipe and Bernard Berenson's Seeing and Knowing which made me think that maybe I had been cataloguing all the loony stuff together! That's hardly fair, but I kind of have the right to say that, as I started off making an art that later was called Conceptual. Patrick McCaughy called it "Duchampian".

Whilst Foucault's views and the conceptual items gained currency the Berenson essay, first published in 1949, was dismissed and ridiculed as just an outburst of a bitter old Renaissance scholar. He did say that there is no such thing as abstract art because abstract means idea, the very opposite of a tangible thing like a painting or a sculpture. By his logic he would have said that the only abstract art was what was called conceptual. This essay has haunted me for much of my life as I've never found a way to beat it. Should be compulsory reading.

Anyway - I don't know what Twentysix Gasoline Stations are worth, or Sunset strip for that matter, or the other items, but I'm happy to consider offers!

When is book not a book? When it is art! James Collins said some interesting things about the aesthetics of conceptualism - also worth following up.

Update: Have just checked out what these things are worth, or more correctly what people are trying to get for them - so I'll add the idea of a swap into the deal and what interests me most at the moment are 24mm, 28mm or 35mm lenses for my Leica M8.


  1. I'll have the M8 please...

    Jennifer Bowskill

  2. Get your own Jennifer - you can find quite reasonable ones on eBay - I know it can be a bit nerve racking buying something like that sight unseen etc etc.

    Takes very nice snaps!

  3. Interesting! Re: Abstract / idea / conceptual, I always disagree with the labels of art, etc. As 'Abstract' painting (for example) is closer to realism, than say 'Photo Realism', which is the illusion of a frozen moment in time, Shouldn't a photo realistic painting be called something like: painting of a photo of ............. Where as, an Abstract red painting called 'red' is completely true and real. Perhaps one thing that is very true is that labels and theories rarely make experiences richer, for me they take me a step away from 1 to 1 contact with the artwork / experience. As you have stated above re : a meditative experience - which is without theorizing, internal dialogue , etc. There is a paradox in art which is the search for contact / meaning, and intellectualizing that generally dilutes contact and creates lens / filters, etc. That may help someone 'understand' the art work on an intellectual / conceptual level, but in my opinion diminishes contact with the 'lived experience'- excuse the wanky language!

    Regards Fernando the Magnificent (T M-W)

    ps merry Xmas old man hahaha