Comments on: Francis Davison (Collage Part One) http://abstractcritical.com/article/francis-davison-collage-part-one/ Abstract Critical is a not-for profit company aiming to establish a new critical context for all generations of artists involved with ambitious abstract art. Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:23:33 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Robert Linsley http://abstractcritical.com/article/francis-davison-collage-part-one/#comment-38259 Thu, 31 May 2012 12:40:47 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?p=4903#comment-38259 Sam, I almost regret that I made that opening comment, because the discussion has got into abstract generalities about the art world. What I respond to in your last comment are “formal strength” and how the works create “their own formal universe.” The former no doubt derives from the latter. With those qualities the work is autonomous and doesn’t have to answer any questions from the art world about where it fits in; it has its own place, self-created. And I think it could appear in any kind of exhibition space. But I still think that originality is important. Many modest and quiet works are dull and unoriginal, so those qualities are not necessarily the important ones. But then Davison does have a good quantity of originality, which again is consequent on that autonomy you see. Many works choose to inhabit someone else’s formal universe, or adopt someone else’s formal strength, but not, apparently Davison’s. But as always, further acquaintance might lead to further qualification. Perhaps I’m overvaluing the work now, but my initial hesitation was likely unjustified.

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By: Sam Cornish http://abstractcritical.com/article/francis-davison-collage-part-one/#comment-37857 Wed, 30 May 2012 06:07:58 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?p=4903#comment-37857 As is clear I like Davison because of their withdrawal, because of their quiet (but not, I think too tasteful) aestheticism, because they assert the need to create their own formal universe, however much it draws on, as Robert says ‘what is already cannonized’. A quiet withdrawal seems to mark much abstract art by younger artists, though, without Davison’s formal strength (and here is the need for quality?). That work such as Davison’s is banished (would even make little sense) within what John calls spaces built for the ‘exploded dynamic and confrontational object’ is perhaps unarguable. Does this mean we want different spaces? Would the alternative be that abstract art has to confront and defeat these spaces and somehow turn their explosions and confrontations into positives? I’m not sure what that would look like, or if it already exists – Richter?

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By: jenny meehan http://abstractcritical.com/article/francis-davison-collage-part-one/#comment-33848 Sat, 26 May 2012 21:32:31 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?p=4903#comment-33848 Great exhibition, I was surprised by how much I got from it. Giving the work time, the decision making processes become clearer and more interesting. I LOVED the larger work with colours, and the WAY he used the paper is really interesting. Ultra jagged and sharp edges combined with soft, soft melting away whispers. I was convinced he had used some paint on one of the pieces..But NO! Just paper. Magic. Go and see it, and learn! Amazing!

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By: Robert Linsley http://abstractcritical.com/article/francis-davison-collage-part-one/#comment-28855 Thu, 24 May 2012 23:29:59 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?p=4903#comment-28855 John, stagnation, or semi-stagnation sounds like fun. It makes me think of Venice in the 18th. century, a good time and place for art. But seriously there will have to be positive criteria if we want to give Davison and others like him the credit they may deserve. It’s a difficult question, and I don’t know if it gets any easier if we find that it’s a general present day dilemma. No moralizing distinctions – good/bad, constructive/destructive, progressive/conservative – are stable. The deplorable can be revalued into the adorable, and vice versa, and will be very easily. Some would say there can’t be an affirmative art in a society that doesn’t believe in its own values anymore. I really don’t know what position to take.
Maybe other criteria are already operating, and I asked the wrong question.

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By: John Holland http://abstractcritical.com/article/francis-davison-collage-part-one/#comment-27409 Wed, 23 May 2012 17:46:33 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?p=4903#comment-27409 Apologies for the many mistakes in the previous post.
It was written in a hurry. By an illiterate.

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By: john holland http://abstractcritical.com/article/francis-davison-collage-part-one/#comment-25014 Tue, 22 May 2012 13:27:53 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?p=4903#comment-25014 Thanks, Sam, for an interesting article about an artist I’d never heard of before.

Robert’s question relates to the discussion about Nicholson earlier, and the the link to TJ Clark’s article about the ‘minor’ note of British modernism.
Davison’s collages look lovely (I haven’t seem them for real), but it’s obvious that they would never be regarded as ‘major’ or ‘important’ art. This is partly a question of the continuing influence of the Modernist paradigm of newness, of the next stage in the unfolding narrative- Modernism’s Oedipal Complex. But also, and this comes back to Alan Gouk’s (re)assesment of Nicholson,and the the cult of the extreme. Major artists are supposed to be like snowploughs, pushing a new path for others to follow, stripping down to essentials, rigourously persuing ideas to their brutal conclusion. Clark maintains that the English are, for various reasons, simply too conciliatory to make major art. Too Bourgoise, in fact.

So how is someone like Davison- subtle, intelligent, but essentially dealing with questions the writers of the avante-gard story consider to have long since been answered- to be judged? I would say, as a lot more ‘relevant’ than he no doubt is. The energy of Modernism was pushing against an educated but conservative middle-class. The picture forced its way out of the ‘window’ and into the room, into the space of the viewer- it was an aggressive act
That resistance, that enemy class, no longer really exists; institutional spaces are built for nothing BUT the exploded dynamic and confrontational object, the curators and collectors are neophiles, and yet the notion of the avante-gard won’t go away. The result is a merely theatrical radicalism, a constant re-enactment of a battle that’s been won (a Phyrric victory, maybe).

Perhaps a period of semi-stagnation, of refinement, of introversion rather than extroversion, may not be a bad thing.
Some of the sensibilities that the Modernist critics valued the least might be valuable right now.
(Having said that, one look at the Tate room with Nicholson placed against Picasso does make abundantly clear what TJ Clark is talking about. It may be a cliche, but Nicholson is revoltingly tasteful.)

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By: Robert Linsley http://abstractcritical.com/article/francis-davison-collage-part-one/#comment-21461 Sun, 20 May 2012 14:50:51 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?p=4903#comment-21461 Sam, Davison is clearly a remarkable artist; his works are excellent. I’m charmed. You are touching on some important matters; I’m particularly interested in your remarks about the empty centre and the composition that grows outward from the middle rather than derives from the frame. But the most difficult thought that occurs to me is – how do we place an artist who is so good at performing what has already been canonized? I admit the question is painful. At this moment of renewed interest in abstraction perhaps very much so. What is quality today?

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