5 Phaidon artists - 5 great Robert Storr lines on them
As the author/ curator is made Officer of France's Order of Arts and Letters we pick out some of his best writing
The Phaidon author, curator, artist and erstwhile Dean of the Yale University School of Art, Robert Storr will be awarded the insignia of Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ambassador to the United States next Sunday (17 April, 2016).
To mark this prestigious award, we’ve put together these edited highlights from Storr's contributions to our books. Read on to find out his take on the works of Alex Katz, Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettibon, Zhang Huan and Louise Bourgeois as reproduced in Phaidon's Contemporary Artist series.
Paul McCarthy ' Intimations of dread and loathing permeate every thing he touches, covering the surface of his installations like vile smudges on the shiny veneer of a model home. Innocence has been smashed or burned away leaving scars that McCarthy renders obscenely comic, while sinister mirth echoes through the corridors and rooms in which his fantasies play out.'
Raymond Pettibon ' Pettibon’s observation post on mainstream American life does have a monastic dimension when you consider that his neighbours are, very likely, at the beach, or cruising the strip. And if not, they are probably awash in surround sound or glued to the tube, or maybe all that, all at once, plus sex and bottles and pills.'
Zhang Huan 'Zhang's self-imposed and anything-but-utilitarian ordeals serve as counterpoint to the externally mandated but internally amplified rigors of work conceived of as a totalizing raison d'etre. In (his extended series of startling performance pieces) he was the camera-ready, self-consciously iconic figure who grabs and holds the viewer’s attention, a Kafkaesque ‘hunger artist’ who subjects himself to seemingly absurd regimens of endurance and self-discipline that banish common-sense thoughts, energize the mind by accentuating extreme physical states and compel concentration by incarnating it.'
To__ Alex Katz__ 'Your pictures sort of hover in a very interesting space between something totally controlled - a tableau - and casual gestures, details of casual gestures, little intimations of what goes on between people.'
Louise Bourgeois ' The content of her art is not primarily autobiographical but archetypal, an astonishingly rich, nuanced, sometimes alarming, often funny and almost always startling fusion of classical personifications of human pssions and terrors, Symbolist variations on them, Freudian reinterpretations of both, and direct or indirect transcription of her own unblinking glimpses into the murkiest waters of the psyche.'