Boca Raton Museum of Art
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Thursday, July 15, 2010
Vasari and Winckelmann: Godfathers of Art History

Portraits of Johann Joachim Winckelmann (left) and Giorgio Vasari (right).

As an almost 10-year-long devotee of the visual arts, I take it for granted that they are worthy of study.  The Western art world as a whole (and art historians in particular) owe a debt of gratitude to those who paved the way for arts scholarship. In the 1500s, Giorgio Vasari, and in the 1700s, Johann Joachim Winckelmann both initiated their own types of study for the visual arts. Their respective outputs are exhaustive and include both archaeology (Winckelmann) and connoisseurship (Vasari) in addition to formalist art critique. 

In general, how did art historical study begin?  Well, with Vasari, it began with an interest in promoting his own populace, the Florentines. Yes, Vasari was very patriotic and one of his primary aims was to establish Florence as superior to other cities in terms of art. Although Florence was no slouch when it came to churning out master artists in the 16th century, Vasari’s interest in promoting primarily Florence is one of the drawbacks to his scholarship. The ability to know and work around this bias is one of the duties of the modern-day art historian. Besides just doing the research to get the facts from the past, we also need to be aware of distinctive cultural biases as well as any other factors that may color the interpretation of an event.

One of the most important things about Vasari’s research is his focus on connoisseurship. For instance, he focused very intently on tiny details.  Like, tiny details. He claimed to be able to identify the hand of the same artist in two artworks because the thumbnails were painted in the same manner. An anecdote to be sure, but reflective of Vasari’s emphasis on empirical evidence just the same.


                              Venus de Milo, circa 130-100 B.C., Parisian marble, height 80 inches, photograph by Johann H. Addicks, Cc.

Winckelmann, on the other hand, loved Antiquity.  Loved it. He preferred the “noble simplicity and quiet grandeur” of the Greeks to any other type of art, most especially the art of his own time, Baroque. He covered Roman and Greco-Roman art in his writings, too, but Greece had his heart. He believed we should measure ourselves against the Ancients because they stressed proportion and perfection. Idealized art. Beautiful bodies. He felt nature is too varied, too prone to chance and deviation to model fine art after.

In sum, both Vasari and Winckelmann were interested in the look of things, the aesthetics of a work of art. They did not dabble in philosophical debate. They did not despair over the conceptual precursors of a physical piece of art. So, the beginnings of art history were written.  These were some progressive men. Not to confuse progressive with experimental or avant-garde. Winckelmann and Vasari simply began something which we are continually redefining to this day – the discipline of art history.


Posted by: Kelli Bodle, Curatorial Assistant @ 3:07:41 pm  Comments (2)
Friday, July 2, 2010
59th Annual All Florida Juried Competition and Exhibition
 Kerry Phillips, Chairs, Found and Fixed, 2010, chairs, zip ties, duct tape, vinyl, string, rope, wood and paper, 144 x 144 x 48 inches

This year’s 59th Annual All Florida Juried Competition and Exhibition was quite a bit larger than last year’s.  Last year, we had 47 artists represented and this year it was 80.  That translates to roughly 1/3 more artworks in the show.  If you visited the exhibition both years, perhaps you noticed that it is divided into smaller “rooms” this year as opposed to the larger, sweeping gallery space we set up last year.

On Thursday and Friday, June 13th and 14th, the juror, Linda Norden, flew down to Boca to judge the works in situ. Each juror has their own set of criteria by which they judge a show.

Norden explains hers as such, “In my case, the priority was to identify work that seemed intensely rooted in some personal experience or observation, and as free as possible from predictable pictorial ticks or tricks of the trade. . . Whatever the medium, I want to feel that the content is urgent and close to the heart and soul of the artist, and that the aesthetic decisions do justice to that content.”

Norden selected Kerry Phillips’ Chairs, Found and Fixed as the Best in Show.  She gave out 3 Merit Awards to Melissa Marrero , Roberta Schofield, and Noelle Mason  for their respective bodies of work included in the show. She clarifies her choices by saying, “I’m partial to direct, clear, expression – painterly, structural, but also things that are hyper-real...” Norden indicated that she felt a strong personal statement in each woman’s work.

An exhibition like the All Florida can teach us about the Floridian arts community. For instance, there was a marked lack of artwork that dealt with war or Iraq. Norden commented on how this is not the case for New York City’s emerging artists – the city from which she hails. On the other hand, there was a “preponderance of work that made the landscape, environment, or varied population its subject.” This is especially poignant right now, considering the environmental problems occurring on the west side of the state. If I had to guess at next year’s submissions, I would expect even more environmentally-themed works and those submitted will probably have a more political bent to them.

Some suggestions for artists considering applying next year:

  1. Upload the highest-quality digital photos that you have
    When you upload high-quality digital images, it makes it easier for us to include your work in our promotional materials.  300 dpi is the standard for a good, print-quality image
  2. Submit work that can both stand alone and be considered as representative of your body of work

    Your artwork should be able to stand alone because just that one image might be picked. If it makes sense only when considering all 3 submitted artworks, chances of acceptance are reduced. We have limited space for the exhibition, and judges don’t like feeling railroaded into accepting 3 works from 1 artist.  Odds are, if a person can’t appreciate or “get” one submission without considering the other two, none will get chosen.

    However, it is in your best interest for your submissions to work well together because all 3 works could get accepted.  Both years I acted as curator of this exhibition an artist had all 3 submissions accepted. Judges like to see a well-rounded body of work that also (usually) shows some growth or development as an artist. Your chances of acceptance are increased if each of your pieces can stand alone but also work well grouped together as a whole.
  3. Read all of the instructions on the application carefully

This last piece of advice seems pretty obvious but many people ignore it outright.
Most questions can be answered by reading the rules in totality. Things like: weight restrictions, size restrictions, drop-off and pick-up times, acceptable media, ad infinitum. If there is something we missed, I will happily tack it on to the end of the rules. True, they do look long and boring to read, but it is really worth the time you take.

Any suggestions can be either posted in the comments section or emailed to myself directly at

The 59th Annual All Florida Juried Competition and Exhibition will run through August 8th in the downstairs galleries, alongside the Boca Museum Artists’ Guild Biennial Exhibition.

Posted by: Kelli Bodle, Curatorial Assistant @ 12:15:10 pm  Comments (0)
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
"Work of Art: The Next Great Artist" Season 1: Episode 1 In Retrospect

Cast of "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist"

Since reality television has virtually taken over most cable programming, I think it is about time the visual artists got their shot at it.  Bravo's "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist" premiered this past Wednesday at 11 p.m. (EST) with the requisite cast of hopeful, starry-eyed emerging artists, overly confident professionals and a sprinkling of mid-career folks.  The show hit the ground running and challenges didn't take long to get underway.

In the first episode, we're introduced to each artist (14 total) with just a short bio and clips from their application videos.  We meet an assistant of Jeff Koons (Jaclyn), a guy who has never shown his work outside of his parents' home (Erik) and a woman who already has had her work accepted into the Whitney Museum of American Art (Peregrine). 

Right at the outset, performance artist Nao announces that she is too established for the competition and its promise of a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum with prize money purse of $100,000, Miles labels himself an OCD sufferer, and the rest actually seem pretty affable.  For reality TV artists, anyway.

I'm going to put my neck on the line and choose my winner right now.  Trong has a diverse background as a curator, visual artist, writer, lecturer and editor (ArtSlant).  To top it all off, he doesn't seem to have a huge ego to work around (ahem Nao).  I think his experience in multiple areas of the art world will help him to navigate the purposely rocky terrain of a competitive reality TV show.  As we have seen in other, talent-based shows (American Idol, Top Chef, Last Comic Standing) the judges tend to have a high regard for inherent technical ability but always expect someone to be flexible.  

Check out Bravo's information page for "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist."  

 The highlight of the show for me will be getting to see Jerry Saltz in action.  As you may remember, I wrote a blog, "Where are all the women artists?" about Jerry Saltz and his Facebook campaign against the Museum of Modern Art.  I would hazard a guess to say that he may be the best-known face on the judges panel because of his Facebook exposé.   

 Read the original story about Saltz's investigation and public condemnation of the MOMA's lack of women artists on display.

 I truly respect Mr. Saltz's opinion and expect him to lend some curatorial and critical credence to the show.  Not that Simon de Pury, Bill Powers and Jeane Greenberg Rohatyn are just some bums off the street. 

 Read their bios on Bravo.

 In Work of Art, my bet is that Saltz will be the Tom Colicchio, or Simon Cowell, of the judging team. Basically, the mean one. But I expect more constructive critique instead of acerbic one-liners. 

 So, what shall the upcoming season of "Work of Art" bring? The level of cattiness is approaching mid-to-high levels already, so I'll vote for some epic verbal battles. In the clips shown from the upcoming season, we see Jaclyn inform Erik that he "doesn't belong here" which suggests there will be some entitlement issues between the established artists and the newbies. I personally do not like to watch violence so I will hope for no fisticuffs.  Probably a love interest will develop. As long as they don't take a trip to the Jersey Shore, however, I'll be happy.

Posted by: Kelli Bodle, Curatorial Assistant @ 4:14:28 pm  Comments (0)
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
What is an Art Museum's Purpose?

Many define the museum an educational tool, a historical preserve that collects and displays artwork from our collective past.  On the whole, people everywhere construct architecture to symbolize and preserve their cultural beliefs.  We like to gather up bits of the world so that we may reflect on what they mean and where we stand in relation to them. 

But a visit to a museum does not mean just staring at old stuff.  There is another feeling that accompanies the museum visit, one could say an expectancy, a hope and a trust that once one enters the building, they will experience something great.  An epiphany, some sort of cultural nourishment. 

In "Civilizing Rituals: Inside Public Art Museums," renowned art historian Carol Duncan posits the idea that a visit to a museum is a liminal experience.  Anthropologist Victor Turner explains liminal as "a mode of consciousness outside of or betwixt-and-between the normal, day-to-day cultural and social states and processes of getting and spending."  

Here again is the idea that when you visit a museum you can stop time and escape.  You are expected to consider your essence and how it relates to the things around you. It's a time to engage in contemplative thought, the antithesis of the distracted lifestyle most of us live.

A recent article on questions whether people involve themselves less in deep thought on one subject and more in a myriad of activities because of increased internet use. It takes a huge feat of will to avoid distraction on the internet and this is where most of us spend both our work and play time. 

Read the NPR article and learn about "Your Brain Online."  

I can honestly say that I view my museum visits as liminal experiences, as acts that bring me closer to an understanding of my own essence. I felt this way when I attended my first Whitney Biennial.  I felt it in the Centre Pompidou in Paris.  I felt it the recreation of Henry Darger's room at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago.  But is this the purpose of a museum?  What other functions does it provide for you?

Posted by: Kelli Bodle, Curatorial Assistant @ 2:06:19 pm  Comments (1)
Monday, May 3, 2010
Artist Robert Natkin (1931-2010)


 Robert Natkin, Apollo, circa 1976, acrylic on paper mounted on canvas, 16 ½ x 48 inches. Permanent Collection 2000.069. Gift of Lillian Heidenberg Reitman

 Robert Natkin passed away last week, reported the New York Times 

Robert Natkin was an abstract artist who rose to fame in the 1960s following the success of such luminaries as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Like many abstract artists, he had to fight an uphill battle against critics over the validity of his work. He fought the good fight his entire life and now has an impressive body of work left in his estate, represented by Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, New York.

Natkin's later works, although always abstract, explored different themes. Sometimes they are filled with geometric blocks of electric color, interrupting the eye's path as it travels across the plane, demanding attention in multiple places at once. They can also be pale washes of paint ebbing and flowing, interspersed with small solid shapes, like buoys, adrift in Natkin's serene world.

My personal favorites are his Palimpsest Series. If you were to see one in a gallery and read the wall label, it would simply have "Acrylic over printed matter on canvas" listed as the medium. For this series, Natkin took his critics' negative reviews, attached them to canvases and then painted over them.

Regarding this series, Natkin said:

"This exhibition, expresses, among its many ambitions, an attempt to exorcize the hostile arbiter of aesthetics through primitive means by eating the enemy."

And eat them he did. He consumed, digested, and then eliminated them with multiple overlays of the lyrical, soft colors, for which they derided him. Mostly, it is difficult to read the newsprint underneath the paint and textural overlay. However, what you can read most likely caused Natkin to gnash his teeth on more than one occasion.

For example:

"Both types [of Natkin's paintings] have undeniable sensual appeal, though like Chinese dinners, they don't stay with you very long."

But Natkin got the last laugh. He painted over that review in 1981, and that painting is still with us. You can't read the critic's byline, but Natkin's signature is visible in all of its sensual glory.

Posted by: Kelli Bodle, Curatorial Assistant @ 11:50:21 am  Comments (5)
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What is a CVV Code?

CVV2 is a security measure for credit cards. Since a CVV2 number is listed on your credit card, but is not stored anywhere, the only way to know the correct CVV2 number for your credit card is to physically have possession of the card itself. All VISA, Discover, MasterCard and American Express cards made in America in the past 5 years or so have a CVV2 number. However Diners Club does not use a security code.

How to find your CVV2 number:
On a VISA, Discover or MasterCard, please turn your card over and look in the signature strip. You will find (either the entire 16-digit string of your card number, OR just the last 4 digits), followed by a space, followed by a 3-digit number. That 3-digit number is your CVV2 number.(See below)

VISA, Discover & MasterCard

On American Express Cards, the CVV2 number is a 4-digit number that appears above the end of your card number. (See below)