Last night, per usual, I was glued to the couch for the new episode of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters.” One of the finalists in the Champions Round is Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia and the Art Institute’s own Terzo Piano, the restaurant on the third floor of the Modern Wing. Each episode features two challenges, a short “quick fire” challenge and then the longer elimination challenge, in which losing chefs get booted off the show. Though Tony’s team lost the elimination challenge, he survived to cook another day and we can expect to see him next week.
Last night’s quick fire challenge, though, really sparked my interest. It was a tag team challenge. The chefs were divided into two teams of four. Their assignment: cook something. Not so tough, right? Wrong. Because each of the chefs would get one ten-minute stint at the stove. Before their turn, they would be blindfolded and weren’t allowed to communicate with anyone else cooking. So the first chef would pick ingredients and get things started; after ten minutes, the second chef, who had been blindfolded, would have to assume the station, try and figure out where the first chef had been going, and develop the dish; and so on through the four chefs.
Watching all the blindfolded chefs stand around and wait their turn reminded me of some of my favorite works hanging in the Art Institute’s Modern Wing: the “exquisite corpses” of the surrealists. The exquisite corpse was essentially a high-stakes parlor game played, in our case, by such artists as Yves Tanguy, Man Ray, André Breton, and Max Morise. A piece of paper would be folded into sections, like a fan. One artist would take one of the sections and start a drawing, then fold the section over and hand it over to the next person, who would pick up a line from the preceding drawing, without seeing the context for it, and make their own drawing. The result is a four-section drawing that hangs together but isn’t really connected.
One of the works currently hanging in the Modern Wing is an Exquisite Corpse of 1928 by Man Ray, Joan Miró, Yves Tanguy, and Max Morise, part of the Lindy and Edwin Bergman Collection. A highly stylized couple kissing in profile melts into a biomorphic shape that resolves into a hand holding a gun, leading in turn to an abstract line drawing, the bottom arc of which crushes a prone naked man. You can still see the folds in the paper that shaped the sheet into blank segments, lending the drawing an immediacy and vitality.
The name itself is apparently derived from a word-based version of the same activity, with the random selection of exquisite and corpse appearing together and then memorialized in a late 1930s dictionary of surrealism.
While the surrealists didn’t wind up with fish stew, as last night’s contestants did, they would probably approve of the tag team challenge. But they would probably like it more if the chefs had to use fundamentally inedible ingredients.
Man Ray, Joan Miró, Yves Tanguy, and Max Morise. Exquisite Corpse, 1928. Lindy and Edwin Bergman Collection, 105.1991. © 2008 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.
POSTED BY Troy K., ON April 13, 2010, Comments Off
In an earlier post about copyright law, I wrote about how an artist’s failure to observe certain “formalities” under copyright law resulted in the work falling out of copyright protection in the United States.
This loss was not permanent for many foreign artists. On January 1, 1996–as a result of the international agreement that established the World Trade Organization–copyright was “restored” in the United States for many foreign nationals whose works had fallen out of copyright for failure to follow the formalities of United States copyright law. Importantly, a work restored to copyright had to have been first published outside of the United States and had to still be protected by copyright in the source country. The copyright was restored for the remainder of the term the work would have enjoyed if it had never fallen out of copyright.
Consequently, many of the foreign works found in the Art Institute’s Modern Wing–which might have otherwise been affected by the old formalities of United States copyright law–are still protected in the United States. For example, The Eventuality of Destiny (pictured above) by Giorgio de Chirico (an Italian national) was first published in a French periodical in 1927. As a result of copyright restoration, it does not matter now whether or not de Chirico complied with all the formalities necessary to maintain copyright protection in the United States. The copyright, like de Chirico’s artistic legacy, is safe for many years to come.
The foregoing does not constitute legal advice and is offered for informational purposes only, with no representations or warranties as to accuracy.
Image credit: Giorgio de Chirico, The Eventuality of Destiny (1927). © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome.
POSTED BY Guest Blogger, ON March 05, 2010, Comments Off
I’ve got nothing!
It’s not art.
These were the words used to describe Robert Ryman’s Charter Series last Saturday by attendees of “Deciphering the Contemporary” here at the museum. “Deciphering the Contemporary” is the second installment of Modernism 101, a mini-course in which participants spend the afternoon in the galleries taking a closer look at the history of Modernism through the Art Institute’s collection. During the dawn of the Modern Wing and about the time I joined the Museum Education staff as a Kress Fellow, many visitors expressed a desire for a more in-depth look into Modern and Contemporary Art that went beyond what could be covered in a 45-minute gallery talk. Some wanted the answer to “is it art?” or “why is that here?” Others wanted a crash historical course.
So we began with Understanding Modernism, which covered the European avant-garde to 1950 and proved so popular that, though I offered it on a repeating basis, the course still had a waitlist. The series now includes the above-mentioned course on contemporary art, a look at Modernist roots in Impressionism and Post-Impressionism (by popular demand), a history of photography, and Modernism in Chicago.
The most rewarding aspect of teaching the seminar is the range of experience and ideas offered by attendees. Some have never been inside the Modern Wing and signed up for the courses as an introduction, while others crack jokes about Marcel Duchamp with their friends before the seminar even begins. Still more are dedicated Art Institute volunteers and docents. There was even a retired gallery picture-framer who struggled with how to tell “which way is up.” And all are part of the conversation.
While the seminar is about a history of Modernist movements, it’s more about reception, interpretation, and opening up the works of art on display for discussion that will guarantee to shed new light on them for everyone, even for a seasoned Modernist like me. One can bury oneself in the library to learn about the “-isms” (as I’m oft to do) but it is through each seminar, different every time, and everyone’s thoughts, revelations, insights, questions, and experiences brought to the conversation that I have to come to know the Art Institute’s collection.
—Terah Walkup, Samuel H. Kress Foundation Fellow, Department of Museum Education