earnestness in art

A review of Liz Craft’s recent show by Deborah Fisher makes a nice complement to the recent Ken Burns’ quote on irony. “The sculpture was half-shrouded in a blue tarp with tools and a gantry surrounding it, but it still blew my mind a little because it was totally cheesy and, more dangerously, palpably earnest [...]

By Christopher Robbins

A review of Liz Craft’s recent show by Deborah Fisher makes a nice complement to the recent Ken Burns’ quote on irony.

“The sculpture was half-shrouded in a blue tarp with tools and a gantry surrounding it, but it still blew my mind a little because it was totally cheesy and, more dangerously, palpably earnest (and yet I didn’t hate it!). It took the bored, knowing head nod that contemporary artists are supposed to achieve and turned it inside out. Instead, this thing charged at my eyes and made my heart bulge against my shirt, because it was made with so much love. And it confused me because it was totally balls to the wall and, at the same time tame, traditional, and studded with cliches. It’s a traditional bronze statue of a skeleton riding a motorcycle for chrissakes!”

I decided in that moment that Liz Craft must be some sort of empathic genius.

The edge in Craft’s work comes consistently from doing what artists should never, ever do. Instead of resisting artworld cliches like seventies stuff, unicorns, or what would become “Banks Violette Gothic,” she charges into them. Instead of distancing herself from the language and materials of traditional sculpture, she depends upon them. Instead of relying on irony, she commits to a vision. The result is work that is fantastically fresh, but in no way “new.” It’s fresh because it’s wrong; because it obviously delights in fights against art history and tradition, against cliche, against what sophisticated art viewers expect to see.

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