Artist Portraits

On Art and Artists: Artist Portraits

This section of the On Art and Artists collection highlights a number of experimental portraits of artists, and documentaries about the artistic process, from intimate one-on-one close-ups and dialogues, to full studio production studies. These works do not follow a traditional interview format, but are often intended as artworks in their own right. The artists and makers of these Artist Portraits draw artistic inspiration and stylistic license from the collaborators and interlocutors they depict.

 

1983
Long Beach Museum of Art, Nancy Buchanan: Video Viewpoints

In this interview video and performance artist Nancy Buchanan discusses her feminist and political work. Buchanan comments upon the advantages of video over performance in terms of accessibility—the ability for her videos to circulate and reach audiences she physically cannot, and their brevity and completed form—and her strategies to create an atmosphere for change. This Video Portrait features two of Buchanan’s videos in their entireties: the anti-nuclear weapons work An End to All Our Dreams (1982) and the more straightforwardly feminist Webs (1983).

1989
Chris Burden

Chris Burden came into prominence in the late 1960s, but unlike many of the performance artists of his generation, Burden was interested in empirical and scientific investigations. His goal was to return the control of art making to the artist and to question the relevancy of more established art practices. In this documentary Burden talks about his hard-hitting performances in the ’70s that took a jaded art world by surprise and continues on to discuss the sculptural and installation works of the ’80s.

2005
Rima Yamazaki, Color on Colors

Satoshi Uchiumi, Japanese abstract painter, believes that the beauty of painting lies within paint itself. He has pursued beauty by painting thousands of colored dots. He has also become known for his ability to highlight the relationship between the artwork, the exhibition space, and the viewer.

2001
Connections: Ray Johnson On-Line

A portrait of the American artist Ray Johnson (1927-95), driving force behind the New York Correspondence School of the early 1960s. Ray Johnson was mainly known for his numerous mail art projects, involving artistic strategies like networks and collaboration. Key terms in his mail art activities were ADD TO AND RETURN, or SEND TO, inviting recipients to contribute to his work. Besides mail art, Ray Johnson worked on collages, assemblages, and performance throughout his life.

1993
Coco Fusco & Paula Heredia, The Couple in the Cage: Guatianaui Odyssey

In a series of 1992 performances, Coco Fusco and performance co-creator Guillermo Gómez-Peña decked themselves out in primitive costumes and appeared before the public as “undiscovered AmerIndians” locked in a golden cage—an exercise in faux anthropology based on racist images of natives. Presented eight times in four different countries, these simple performances evoked various responses, the most startling being the huge numbers of people who didn’t find the idea of “natives” locked in a cage objectionable.

2005
Uncomfortable: The Art of Christopher Cozier

Uncomfortable journeys through the work and ideas of Christopher Cozier, a leading contemporary artist in the Caribbean. The video presents Cozier's witty and incisive drawings, installations and videos in the context of post-independence Trinidad with its oil-rich economy, complicated ethnic politics, and vibrant cultural forms.

1982
Crossover Series

In ten-minute segments devoted to three photographers (Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Laurie Simmons), MICA uses video to mirror the photographic techniques of each artist. For example, Sherman tells a faux interviewer about her work, while morphing into the different "B-movie" characters represented in her photos.

1987
Antonio Muntadas and Hank Bull, Cross–Cultural Television

"This is a videotape about Television. It is a fragmented, personal view. It is only one of many ways to explore television. This is a videotape about the cosmetics and packaging of television. It is about editing..."

--Antonio Muntadas

1992
Suzanne Lacy, The Crystal Quilt--Trailer

“The idea was to address the cultural invisibility of older women through art and through action,” the voice-over explains as this video begins. This short works offers an introduction to the Whisper Minnesota Project, which organized The Crystal Quilt performance, an event that brought together hundreds of women over 60 on a Mother’s Day in Minneapolis. As the video explains, “The Crystal Quilt is a case study in reframing notions of older women’s beauty, power, and relevance. Through it we catch glimpses of life patterns and values lost to our generation.”

2000
Cecilia Dougherty, Eileen

This video is an unabashed fan letter to poet Eileen Myles. As in Laurie, my desire was to romanticize the poet, but not through her writing so much as through her reputation as the natural born child of the New York School and the Beats. I shot the movie as I imagined Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie shooting Pull My Daisy, a film that left an impression on me chiefly of the struggle between form and formlessness, plan and improvisation, sketch and story.

2004
Electrocute Your Stars

"You always have to be careful. You always have to have the shower backward in order to see the water, which means you better watch out, or you might electrify, or electrocute your stars. You know what I mean, by having the light falling into the tub."

--George Kuchar

1989
Experience, Perception, Interpretation/Illusion

Consisting of 13 brief spots, Experience: Perception, Interpretation, Illusion features works by artists included in a Pasadena Armory exhibition. Curator Noel Korten explains that the artists in the show have all reached mid-career and are now less concerned with expanding the boundaries of contemporary art than on reflecting back on culture through their own perspectives. Artists include Karen Carsen, John Outterbridge, Michael C.

1988
Judd Fine: Red is Green

Southern California visual artist Jud Fine seeks to promote democracy in art—the idea that anyone can be an artist. This video presents the artist and his work in a style that reflects the multi-layered dimensions of his artwork.

1980
Reverend Howard Finster: Man of Vision

Reverend Howard Finster was a preacher-turned-folk artist. He created Paradise Gardens Park & Museum, a product of all his murals, drawings, sculptures, and mosaics—and Summerville, Georgia’s largest tourist attraction. He began Paradise Gardens around 1961; in 1976 he responded to a vision to paint sacred art. As this video begins, Finster is painting with his hands in his studio. Finster then embarks on his first visit to New York City and comments upon his exhibition at Phyllis Kind Gallery. He spins rhythmic narratives that turn into miniature sermons.

1977
Liza Bear, Five Video Pioneers

Featuring Vito Acconci, Richard Serra, Willoughby Sharp, Keith Sonnier, and William Wegman