10 comments on “Onward, Through & Through

  1. Without turning into Webster’s dictionary for art, I was thinking ’bout creative people that make things for mass consumption.

    Graphic designers, web designers, illustrators, toy makers, etc. So if you make video games, magazine ads, posters, web designs, comic books, cartoons, illustrations, shirt designs… then you’re commercial.

    Thinking academic, its the work you see in reviews for art magazines or on Art:21. Not easily reproduced, won’t match your shoes, most likely to see it in a museum, etc.


  2. Yeah, that’s what I was referring to when I mentioned Rodriguez. They’re employing similar modes of distribution and production, but it feels like they originate from the street. That’s okay.

    But when its academically trained artists using these modes, it feels exploitative, thus commercial. Like they are only doing it to reach the street crowds and gain some cred.

    I don’t have an exact formula in identifying theses artists, I just go with my gut.

  3. So what do you do when an artist comes from both the street and is academically trained at the same time? (Barry McGee holds a degree from San Francisco Art Institute, earned way before he earned his “street cred.”)

  4. Do you have another example besides McGee?

    I don’t really enjoy McGee. I’ll check out his work if given the chance, but I’m not dying to see his work or willing to drive three hours to check out a show for him. So I haven’t really kept track of him.

    I do know that his gallery and museum shows look and feel like the street. He’s bringing/ has brought an aesthetic that would be discovered outside into the “white box”.

    I don’t have a problem with McGee. It seems to me that he spent his time with the street and is bringing a sincere representation of it.

  5. Swoon seems to traverse the two worlds pretty well. I know many purist graffiti artists are critical of her. I like her because she gave a talk at Moma a few years ago and said that one of her influences was Gordon Matta Clark. Makes sense.

    I think authenticity is hard to gauge. I appreciate sincerity but not convinced that it is really necessary. I mean, isnt street culture just another visual language to appropriate? I suppose when the motives scream commercial its pretty exploitative whether its by a corporation or an individual artist. I guess I would need to see how deep is the exploration. What is the artist trying to say by mining this visual language?

  6. Mr. Creegan, I am honored by your presence!

    I do dig Swoon better than McGee.

    Yeah, this Commercial vs Academic vs Street is a big mess. I guess I’m trying to figure out what is exploitative and what is just appropriation.

    When I see aerosol effects on advertisements I shake my head. When I see tagging and stencilling in paintings, I pause. Sometimes I nod. When I see cartoons and mascots in paintings, I nod. When I see comic book characters on walls, I shake my head. When I see aerosol paintings and ready made stickers being sold in galleries, I just shrug my shoulders.


  7. Although this thread is a bit old, I feel compelled to comment. Andy Warhol was a commercial illustrator before he was an artist. However he was able to incorporate his commercial background into his studio practice and subsequently go on to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century.

    So I don’t think that an artist’s choice to create a consumable product, or take commissions to create products for others, negates them from being an artist.

    The line is between art that is material philosophy (actually saying something) and art that is just purely decorative.

    The question I always ask about art is simple, is this work furthering the conversation of contemporary art, or simply rehashing old ones?

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