Professor Judell – City College, CUNY – Fall 2009
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November 4, 2009 by Prof. Judell | 27 comments
Click away with Olaf.
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Lana Guardo on December 17, 2009 at 8:09 pm
Olaf Breuning’s art is viewed as quick and witty and relatable. Simpler statements that do not really ask questions and don’t seem to have a goal of revolutionizing or making a change upon society or an individual’s mindset. Because of Olaf Breuning’s art’s simplicity, the majority of viewers find it easy to understand, unthreatening and particularly enjoyable–myself included. This was my second favorite gallery but also the one that I took the most pictures of.
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Prof. Judell on December 19, 2009 at 10:56 pm
Tardiness and brevity in response do not always unite in the most beneficial manner.
nazana2013 on December 16, 2009 at 5:40 pm
This was my second favorite exhibit, the first being the gallery of the Lamborghinis and the experience of test-driving each one. Oh sorry, the test-driving was a part of the dream that I had when I got home. In that case, this was my favorite exhibit. Olaf Breuning’s simplicity and wit really made the drawings feel down to earth. Breuning’s style showed that you don’t need to overly complicate your work to deliver a message. The drawings perfectly capture his views on shortcomings of society, from the cell phone users to the way men think when they are aroused. Unfortunately, his drawings do not recommend solutions or alternatives to the problem. Then again, it’s art so I guess his job is only to highlight the issues and we must perceive our individual alternatives. Nonetheless, Olaf Breuning should be praised for his genius through simplicity. The lesson we should take from Breuning is that we must always K.I.S.S. our work: Keep It Simple and Sweet.
Prof. Judell on December 19, 2009 at 11:06 pm
I’ll remember that.
Tanvir Jahan on December 16, 2009 at 1:21 pm
The Olaf Breuning exhibits were easily my favorite among the Chelsea galleries. What I especially loved about his works is that it’s very obvious what he’s trying to say. This of course does not take away from his wit. The messages he was trying to portray were very interesting and made me think. He also portrayed them in very creative ways. A lot of the exhibits seemed to be making fun of people and just make me laugh looking at them. His type of humor reminds me of what I used to see in cartoons shows growing up, especially since many of characters were drawn in cartoon-style. This is probably why I feel such a strong connection to his works.
Olaf Breuning appears to be commenting on society through his art. For example, his sculpture with the figure of a man with the words “I WANT MORE AND MORE I WANT MORE” inside possibly says that people today are too greedy and only care about themselves. Also, the work with six people talking on cellphones with the letters of the word “IDIOTS” in their mouths perhaps says that we today are technology whores who are wasting money on useless technology and have nothing better than to do than to blabber on about nothing. Finally, his sculpture of a man with the word “NO”in his head and “YES” next to his erect penis says that all guys want is sex and never use their brains.
Although I find the object of his work rather pessimistic, I do think they are clever and entertaining. I would certainly enjoy making my own works of art basing my styles on his. It would be an interesting way to present jokes about society that people could relate to and would love to see.
Raymon Ang on December 16, 2009 at 1:47 am
It was a morning of treading through the sea of uninteresting art and Olaf Breuning’s exhibit seemed like a life boat to save me from my indifference. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit but Olaf’s exhibit was the highlight of the trip. I found his pieces very simple yet humorous and witty. Maybe it was because I was tired and didn’t feel like deeply analyzing complicated works of art, but i found Olaf’s work very refreshing.
I would agree with other blogs that the meanings that Olaf is trying to convey in his works are “preconceived” and are common in modern pop culture, but that fits his simplistic style, and after walking so long from gallery to gallery, that’s the kind of style I like.
Zolboo Bayarsaikhan on December 15, 2009 at 11:50 pm
This was one of my least favorite exhibits. The concept was incredibly simple and the way it was arranged as sculptures and paintings seemed very sophomoric. It reminded me of doodles and drawings that pretty much had about as much depth to it as the paper itself. The “Yes” and “No” painting with the man’s head and genitalia is something that seemed so overly done. Almost in every tv-show and movie, we see the man who is easily seduced by a woman and acts for physical pleasure meanwhile he knows he shouldn’t. But, what exactly is the message of the painting? What is the artist trying to accomplish.
Joenard Camarista on December 14, 2009 at 5:15 pm
Though it lacked complexity, I found this gallery to be very amusing. Olaf Breuning’s aesthetic criteria is based around whimsical caricature. And he utilizes whimsical caricature in order to derive the psychological essence of everyday life that is often obfuscated by our pretentiousness and up-tightness. I admire this open honesty and I think this adds to his appeal to and evokes a sense of self-reflection within many of my fellow peers. To draw parallels to another post, this open honesty evokes an acute humor or wit that is art in its purest form.
The epitome of Breuning’s work is the one piece on the wall depicting a group of people talking on their cellphones with letters in their mouths spelling out “IDIOTS.” I could see myself as one of those people because more too often I do things to make myself look important. And, in turn, I vowed to myself to be myself completely.
But, his simplicity did initially make me question whether this is truly worthy of being displayed in a gallery. His use of simple black lines to create forms filled by the white of the walls of the gallery make his works too easily ascertained and may detract from its refinement. Certainly, I can experience the same kind of wit and humor by going to “Surviving the World” (http://survivingtheworld.net/) one of my favorite web comics. Yet, I think that the gallery plays a great role in evoking humor, humbleness, and self-reflection within the demographic of people who often go to art galleries because there is little overlap between this demographic and the demographic that visits the “Surviving the World” site. And, because Breuning’s gallery functions in this way and creates a contrast inofitself, this gallery stands out as one of the more memorable galleries.
Luke Hwang on December 13, 2009 at 2:48 am
There seems to be so much spontaneity with Olaf Breuning’s work. His wit conveyed by these works is not something that seems to have been “preconceived;” what he created are not the most sophisticated or elegant… nor do they strive for perfection in terms of symmetry, exactness, and beauty. He didn’t think about days and nights to conceptualize these works, although that’s what I thought most artists do, before they get into action. Maybe Olaf keeps a notebook. Within the pages of this notebook are some of the queerest things he thinks about during the day. Or perhaps before he goes to bed, he randomly doodles things that come into his mind. He appeals to simple emotions, musings, and imagination. Like the guy whose penis has “YES” written on top of it and “NO” on his head, haha. Simple stuff, but fresh and somehow very pleasant. His creation does entertain us and make us think about it. I would like to meet Olaf Breuning and psychoanalyze him. It must be fun to get into his train of weird and witty thoughts.
Mohammed Alvi on December 12, 2009 at 3:54 pm
To nobody’s surprise, this was my favorite exhibit. He represented the various cliches in human life simply, but effectively. It was humorous because some of these concepts and biases, people do easily admit, but he does so outrageously and bluntly. One can’t help but laugh. Its very interactive as well. The seemingly flimsy pieces are placed all around the room, rather than just on the walls. One of them (the center piece in the picture above^) seems as if it was meant to be posed with for a picture.
Andrew Salimian on December 12, 2009 at 12:59 pm
Bruening reminded me so much of the posters for the movie, “The Ugly Truth” which came out recently. I think his genius was that he was so easy to understand. The artistry of Andy Warhol comes out of his complete understanding of pop culture, and I think Bruening’s comes from his understanding of the contemporary mindset. I do feel he is able to convey his image very effectively to people uneducated in the arts, a skill that has led artists such as Warhol or Haring or Shepard Fairey (the artist behind the Obama “HOPE” poster) to super-stardom.
The only criticism I have for Bruening’s work is that they were a bit too straightforward. I do not know if they are a piece that I would like to see over and over again. They seem almost too concise. I do not know how I would react the second time however. They certainly are witty.
These are the ugly truth posters I was talking about.
Madeeha on December 5, 2009 at 9:21 pm
A highly engaging exhibit that everyone can connect to. It is simple yet it speaks volumes.That’s the beauty of it! One of the most important things about these galleries is the way the artists use the space. The display of Breuning’s artwork felt like a storybook with pictures which flowed from one idea to another perfectly. I was completely immersed in the environment, As I walking from one sculpture to another I felt like I was part of the piece itself. The lighting of the gallery played a significant role. The shadows behind the sculptures seemed to enhance the meaning, and echo the message until the viewer had the same image in his/her head.
Although the artwork was in black and white, the wit gives the simple sculpture its vivacity. I do not know whether you took the class upstairs but there were three or four pieces of artwork that were in color. One of them really struck me. It was an photograph of a shark that looked like it going to come out of the picture and it freakishly reminded me of Jaws. But I really respect the fact that Breuning kept Black and White sculptures separate from the color artwork because it forces the viewers to listen to the message of the sculpture rather than pin-point the face, folds, or the clothing of the people.
Good Job Breuning!
Zach Seymour on December 3, 2009 at 3:36 pm
This exhibit was not my favorite; my day would have been no worse if I had never seen it. Yet, it was one of the very few I chose to take a picture of. I enjoyed his depictions of question as an apparatus, the journey from question to answer.
One thing I noticed was in the room adjoining the main Olaf exhibit. Their were women with their faces and bodies variously painted with primary colors. I noticed in the full body shots, the woman had leotards on; i.e. they were not nude. I was shocked and felt it detracted from the work. But, does it?
Mark Oleszko on December 2, 2009 at 6:17 pm
This was my favorite exhibit that day! (A sentiment I’m sure I share with a lot of my other classmates) I loved the simplicity of it all what with the use of stick figures and words. I thought the use of a “framework” feeling aesthetic went along perfectly with the messages Breuning was trying to convey. His themes were simple, common ones that everyone could relate to. In fact, it was this plain relevance feeling that made some of them so humorous and witty. My personal two favorites were the piece with the head with “ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME you ME ME ME” in it and male silhouette with the “YES” on the head and “NO” on the outline of his genitalia. I thought these two in particular were especially witty and something everyone could relate to. His methods were quite refreshing in comparison to the other artists we saw that day, simply because his messages were so easy to understand and appreciate. He really made it impossible for any viewer to get lost in the subtext of his work and lose the message, which I thought could not be said for every other exhibit we saw that day. I loved his work, and would love to see more displayed one day. Hopefully, he’ll eventually get his own exhibit in a large museum!
Jamilur Reja on November 29, 2009 at 10:31 pm
I think simplicity is something we as humans strive to attain. Olaf Breuning succeeds at bringing simplicity into the world of art. Olaf uses black and white to remind us that black and white pictures are considered plain and simple to that of today’s colored digitally enhanced media. The best part about Breuning’s collection of artwork is the use of words. In addition this exhibit seems to focus on people more than inanimate objects. For example, there is a piece of work of the human head with “Me” placed numerous times and the word “You” just once.
The general theme of this exhibit is Breuning’s mindset about people in today’s society. The works with “Me” and “You” along with the drawing of a human body, and inscribed are the words “I want more and more and more” can be interpreted in more than one way. One may interpret that humans are naturally greedy and only think of themselves. Or perhaps, the “Me” and “You” artwork symbolizes that the only person you can trust is yourself and trust others only to a small extent.
The artwork illustrating that smart people are more fit physically compared to those who are not smart is something to really laugh about. This is one of many consensuses Olaf brings forward along with the major one regarding sex. We tend to value sex highly and carry out sexual activities even when we know it is wrong. Breuning is able to make us think more about what people today are classified as, and how we view ourselves. By providing a simplistic form of art all ages can enjoy, Breuning easily grabs our attention and sets us off on a roller coaster ride of self – reflection.
Eman Elzeftawy on November 28, 2009 at 1:22 pm
This gallery was my favorite. It depicted so many meaningful and truthful messages. The piece with the “IDIOTS” holding the cell phones was really funny. Cell phones are the new craze these days and this piece illustrated the decline of brain power in the cell phone generation.
What was really unique about this gallery was the different medias Olaf used. The gallery exhibited intricate 3D works like the “Brain/Stomach” piece and the animals falling off the ledge, but also included simple drawings on the walls. I appreciated that the drawings were painted directly on the walls instead of using a canvas and hanging it up. This amplified the messages of life that Olaf so simply and entertainingly portrayed.
Prof. Judell on November 29, 2009 at 1:06 pm
Brain Power Starts Declining at Age 27: http://seniors-health-medicare.suite101.com/article.cfm/brainpower_starts_to_decline_at_age_27
Erhan Posluk on November 19, 2009 at 11:36 am
Easily my favorite exhibit of the day, Olaf Breuning seems to capture the idea of “life” in a manner I’ve never witnessed before. I never thought an idea as complex as life could be displayed as simply as Olaf has. His simplistic style conveys a message that life can in fact be simple, there is right and there is wrong; people choose to make life complicated with foolish decision making. The idea that life is simple is also conveyed through his color use (solely black and white), again showing that there is the “right” and the “wrong”. Breuning highlights all the faults with human personality, sending messages like “people are conceited”, “we listen to sexuality before our minds”, and “if your smart, your skinny; if your overweight, your stupid”. Breuning’s art got me to think and question how I’ve led my life thus far. Do I listen to me sexual drive before my knowledge?, would I consider myself conceited?, has my life been a rollercoaster of a ride? Breuning’s art isn’t just one pleasing to look at, it’s one to reflect upon. Breuning’s art is undoubtedly the sight of epiphanies and self-evaluation for all viewers.
Prof. Judell on November 29, 2009 at 4:30 pm
Writer Jim Harrison: “Naturally we would prefer seven epiphanies a day and an earth not so apparently devoid of angels.”
A fine critique.
Chirag Shah on November 15, 2009 at 3:45 pm
This was one of the two most amazing exhibits for me that Saturday afternoon. Even though I was half an hour late to the galleries, I found it very inspiring in the sense that I have never been exposed to as much as I am being this semester. I have always thought of Manhattan as being the place where I can go to if I need time away from any problem I have. This gallery is now the place for me to go to. All the sculptures related to my life events happening around that time of this semester. One with the conceited mind that says “ME” a lot of times but “YOU” only once and is also smaller in size to the ME’s caught my eye as we entered. I find that, relates to human nature and especially reminded me about how an ex-friend of mine, who just broke a friendship of five years in a matter of a few days last month, is acting these days. I also have a friend whose name is “Mee You” and this sculpture reminded me of her and how back in high school, her name used to be made fun of in a good way. Olaf clearly has a witty brain that he created all the sculptures relating to any persons life story no matter the age of the person. Plus it is all true – like the train of “life” climbing the slope that when it falls down, the train stops and ends as in life, the highest point will be the climax and it ends suddenly without us knowing. This is true because everyone experiences the “life” that ends when one dies. It was a great place to get memories and I am surely going to go back to visit this gallery and get to spend more time analyzing each piece of sculpture such as the table with little toys. I actually thought that visitors could play with them but I did not know so I did not touch any piece. Also, I loved the play on colors. I loved how the black and white mixed. Since it was pretty bold, the black and white blended in perfectly and not making it boring for me. He is one of my new favorite sculptors.
Prof. Judell on November 29, 2009 at 6:21 pm
A highly entertaining reaction piece, but please note: the galleries change their exhibits about every six weeks or so. What you adore might well have been dispersed to other cities and walls by now. Check out the artist’s web site to see where his next showing is.
Kathleen M. O\'Donnell on November 11, 2009 at 8:48 pm
This show was a breath of fresh air. It was witty, simple, and fun. It was a fusion of pop art, cartoon, and sarcasm. Breuning seemed to capture the most basic moral and life issues through wit. Even though it seems simple, it’s brilliant. This art made my day much better because I understood it and it entertained me.
Prof. Judell on November 14, 2009 at 7:22 pm
“It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.” ~Robert Southey
Wow! Your commentary HOT according to Mr. Southey. A little more cool and a few more words, though, would have been appreciated. But to be fair, your reaction to the works was conveyed with a satisfactory vigor.
Susan Wu on November 5, 2009 at 6:13 pm
This is, by far, my most favorite exhibit of the Chelsea Galleries. The simplicity of the pieces are almost equal to that of a piece of artwork by a child, yet there is so much wit to it. It’s not a piece of art that was simply mashed together. I can tell that it was really thought out. For me, this exhibit sort of made me think that everything is saying something (which is true to some extent). Breuning’s work made me feel as if everything plays its own role. The sharpness of the pieces makes me think of machines and mechanisms, which can be found in some of the pieces. Also, to me, it seems as if her work is showing the relationship between humans and their mind. Breuning is tattooing words onto humans figures to show what they are thinking. I wonder what it would be like if my every thought was tattooed on my face and body. What would people think of me? All my secrets will no longer be secrets. Also, looking at each word separately from the figure that it is placed on, what is everyone thinking? For example, the “yes, no” piece could have represented anything in relation to a person. I interpreted that piece as a person having sexual desires but mentally tries to refrain himself or herself. So for me, Breuning’s work is witty and playful and it really speaks about the relationship between mind and body.
Prof. Judell on November 8, 2009 at 12:56 pm
“Wit is a sword; it is meant to make people feel the point as well as see it.”—G.K. Chesterton
Adam Jordan on November 4, 2009 at 4:47 pm
Interestingly enough, as I passed by this exhibit, I found myself sounding out the words I saw in my head. I don’t feel that this was an accidental occurrence. The art takes an almost psychological effect on the viewer, because I realized that my sounding out the words produced a distinct tone. I feel that those around me who were trying to bring the words to life in this manner heard the words in their head quite differently. In this case I’ve come to realize that the originality of the artist breeds the individuality of the viewers. Subjectivity seemed to be the theme of the day, and for some reason I had always seen this as problematic. I was never satisfied with relativism, and constantly desired a concrete answer to everything. But once I transitioned towards a richer, more culturally involved lifestyle, I found that everything is not “black” and “white.” Sometimes it is necessary to escape from the monotony of everyday living and visualize another realm. Subjectivity has brought that sort of freedom to my life, forcing me to become less critical of myself and others. Each individual understands this concept in his/her own context. For me, looking at this piece of artwork online reminds me of my girlfriend. I never had faith in another human being primarily because I was shackled within the shell that I created for myself. Then I met the person who touched me in a manner that words cannot adequately express. She showed me how to be free and live an optimal life. So, when I went to the galleries this past week, I was able to take in the artwork with open arms, and with a perspective that I had previously been unaware of. Thank you for the experience Professor Judell and thank you to that special person with whom I will be sharing all my future memories.
Prof. Judell on November 8, 2009 at 1:07 pm
Ah, Love!!! I remember it slightly. Anyway, check out this “Objectivity and Art” by Joseph Rowlands: http://solohq.solopassion.com/Articles/Rowlands/Objectivity_and_Art.shtml
He argues: “One reason why art is considered subjective is that it’s often improperly defined as that which is beautiful, or some other variant that upholds beauty as the essential quality. If this were the case, the whole field of esthetics would be severely limited.”
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