Kabongy Balls (2002)
It seems like we lose a great artist every week or so these days. The latest is Kenneth Price at age 77
. Perhaps no artist bridged the craft/fine art divide like he did and his jewel like surfaces were a key component in Dave Hickey's paradigm shifting Beau Monde Site Santa Fe
biennial in 2001 ending what seemed like a 25+ year unofficial ban on beautiful art.
His work was never just pretty though. It was sexy but a little grotesque and by avoiding the self consciousness of a lot of craft based work it transcended that genre's often cloying need to be taken seriously by simply stealing the show every single time they were shown (that's telling). Price's works were so outstanding, with forms so self assured and relaxed in their own perfect skin that they transcended the technical geekery of the craft world, putting all of their considerable aesthetic weight into the viewers mind and response. Thus, how it was made was always tertiary but integral to the encounter, similar to a lot of non western art.
I always found them compelling, as if Price gave unlikely life to a pile of puke while imbuing it with the moves and curves of Cyd Charisse
. In fact, Dave Hickey's Site Santa Fe install could have easily been likened to a dance between Charisse and Fred Astaire, it was just that good. He will be missed, but not forgotten... a 50 year retrospective will begin at LACMA in the Fall.
Roberta Smith of the NYT's fascinating obituary
. I found these quotes quite interesting, "crafts-dogma hell," and, "'I can't prove my art's any good,' he added, 'or that it means what I say it means. And nothing I say can improve the way it looks.'" Indeed...
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