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|Bruce Conner show at de Young|
The huge Bruce Conner retrospective, which ended July 31 at the de Young Museum (a wonderful place deeply redolent of OLD San Francisco) was amazingly varied and inspirational. This is the best kind of art to see, the kind that continually makes you think, "I could do that." The first "artwork" to catch the eye was an APPLAUSE sign leading to a tiny room showing Conner's groundbreaking A MOVIE, a collage of found footage of war, disasters, atom bomb explosions, accidents and deaths juxtaposed with "nature" footage, edited to Respighi's magnificent "Pines of Rome." In a few minutes the mind is reeling with thoughts as to the absurdity of human inventiveness, competitiveness and technological striving--|
Conner, even better than Warhol, has taken the mindset of Duchamp and extended it into virtually all the traditional media of artistic expression (and then some). During his 1961-1965 "Mexican" period he collaged a pillow, a suitcase, a pair of shoes, and a room divider, using materials scavenged from garbage dumps, thrift stores, magazine standsÉ In 1973 after the first Pentel pen was invented, enabling one to keep drawing without refilling, he made "speed freak" drawings obsessive in their overlaying of patterns. He also did meticulously executed collages and collage/etchings in the best tradition of Surrealists like Max Ernst and Georges Hugnet, some of which were prankishly credited to a "Dennis Hopper One Man Show." In the 90's Conner produced a number of amazingly complex ink blot drawings in which a sheet of paper is folded many times. The life-size "angel" series in which he lay on huge sheets of photo paper were interesting, although quickly encompassed. Missing were his punk photographs from the Seventies, many of which were featured in Search & Destroy magazine. My favorite was a large two-sided artwork, the back side of which featured numerous photos cut from stag magazines of the Fifties and Sixties.
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