Home › Forums › Lenkiewicz – general discussion of the man and his work › Thoughts on Prints..
- July 5, 2012 at 10:28 am #6470
The loss of 5 important paintings is devastating. Mary in Piermasters is one of my favourites – an enigmatic and mysterious work on the theme of the double – Robert eating his meal off Mary, the artist Beryl Cook in the back ground (surely a rare portrait of her). I think this painting would make an excellent print.So far there seems to be a decision to use “pretty” paintings of women, and while i'm not criticising Robert's skill, it's a plain fact that these were at times painted to make money, and are now bought by the “domestic market” and dare I say it, often chosen to match interior décor – pink, red etc.People wonder why Robert's work is not critically revered, or hanging on the wall of the Portrait Gallery. Well you wouldn't see Lucian Freud's estate kicking out prints of his early work because they are pretty to avoid the “ugly” nature of his later portraits.To hang a print of Van Gough sunflowers in you kitchen because it looks great in your kitchen is to have an aesthetic appreciation of an isolated object outside of it's original purpose and reason for being. It is a subjective appreciation of a work that has a definite, objective, place in the world of art, and is wholly separate from this part it plays matching the colour of your curtains. The reason the sunflowers aren't affected by having a “domestic market” is because it was a revered piece of work before it ever graced a tea towel. Robert's work, like the work of all contemporary artists, has also to fight for it's artistic status before it's domestic functionality. This is the only way to be respected.I realise that there is a need to make money, this is why Robert may have released prints such as this when he was alive, to fund the greater vision, but isn't it now the remit of the estate to be acting in the interests of Roberts “real” work after his death? to promote his work as a talented and critically engaged contemporary artist?I want to know why you don't see Robert's private language works as prints. And why there are no interesting prints to coincide with the very brilliant shows that we have recently seen. Some of the most fantastic works have been in these shows, and it is a shame that going to these shows was the only way that the public, and the art world alike, would have seen these works. Especially now one of them is gone forever. Google is the first port of call for the majority these days;“What was he called? Robert Lenkiewicz? I'll google him”.Google Robert Lenkiewicz paintings and see that there are very few of these works that appear. Another woman in pink. A woman in red. Another in blue. Hover over the others and many come from blogs, people who have seen the show and sought to represent it.I feel the estate needs to look at this as a long slow burner, Robert's vision stretches beyond 5 or ten years. The work released now should set a standard for development reaching years into the future, not a quick money making fix. This isn't Jack Vettriano. Why do the foundation think Roberts work is only for my mates mum to hang in her blue bedroom.July 6, 2012 at 10:16 am #11083
An interesting post Leda and I’ll try to broadly address the points you make.Firstly, you mention other artists’ work such as van Gogh and Freud. With van Gogh it is of course his ‘Sunflowers’ or landscapes which are ubiquitous rather than ‘Dr Gachet’, let alone ‘The Potato Eaters’.July 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm #11084
“..TLF’s range of a dozen cards of iconic images has told an interesting story with the two ‘Painter with Women’ images and Self-Portraits far outselling Jealousy or Vagrancy images”Francis, this response only serves to re-iterate my point. “The Painter with Women” project was chosen above all other projects to be reproduced into “birthday cards” and prints. You have here only confirmed the fact that the general public is the sole intended audience, i.e. the domestic market.In the art market, financial value is linked to collective critical endorsement and carefully managed release of works entering the right public and private collections. In an otherwise unregulated market where anyone can proclaim themselves as an `artist’ and anything can claim to be `art’, the validation of work is carried out by artists’ peers. Networks of art world professionals – including academics, curators, dealers, artists and buyers – provide advocacy and endorsement for an artist’s work through exhibitions, critical appraisal and private and public purchases.In the 1994 October edition of Art Review, David Lee says this:“The Painter with Women series are not well enough painted to take a viewer beyond the immediate subject into more profound areas. They fail to subvert the hackneyed conventions of soft pornography and voyeurism in the way claimed for them.This is not a write-off of Lenkiewicz as a worthless painter. In his cavernous studio lined high and deep with pictures lie works from his previous seventeen series', with titles ranging from Vagrancy to Mental Handicap, Education, Suicide and Jealousy. If you look through them, as I did, then you discover paintings suggesting that here is a significant artist who has slipped through the net and a portraitist – when he is not cranking them out – of originality, wit and power.”In the 1994 winter edition of Modern Painters, Robert himself took out a full page advert saying: “The work of Robert Lenkiewicz has been irresponsibly disseminated (for which he is in part to blame). The large premises he occupies are in the process of being converted into a museum and library. They will exhibit his previous eighteen projects and be used as a research centre for people who share an interest in examining the causes of fanatical and obsessive behaviour...It is intended that the premises will provoke thought for philosophical purposes only, and contribute towards a greater understanding of the psychological origins of fascism.”This is not wholly a response to the Birmingham exhibition. Robert was frustrated that his serious intentions for the museum and library, and recognition for his work, were being thwarted by his own need to raise money using the “girly paintings “ that weren't being well received.There is still a need to raise money, but surely it is the foundation's duty to now promote the very best of Robert's work.July 19, 2012 at 11:23 am #11085
“..TLF’s range of a dozen cards of iconic images has told an interesting story with the two ‘Painter with Women’ images and Self-Portraits far outselling Jealousy or Vagrancy images”Francis, this response only serves to re-iterate my point. “The Painter with Women” project was chosen above all other projects to be reproduced into “birthday cards” and prints. You have here only confirmed the fact that the general public is the sole intended audience, i.e. the domestic market.
Err, no. As I said, the cards cover many projects: Vagrancy, Death and The Maiden, Jealousy, Education, Self Portrait, The Painter with Mary, as well as The Painter with Women. The prints, again as I said, attempted to cover a range of Project 18, backed up by a lot of information which explained the intentions behind the project. Contra David Lee, Robert saw some of Project 18 as ‘some of my best work’ (interview ‘R.O.Lenkiewicz’). You probably don’t remember but Robert’s ‘Modern Painters’ ad you quoted was a direct response to Halcyon’s previous ad that took the images out of context, which is precisely what we tried to avoid. Obviously though, prints, like paintings, don’t stay together forever. The next phase in the de Montfort publishing deal is intended to be a series of ‘iconic images’ from different projects but they are commercial publishers and will need to be convinced of a demand.I’m not sure who you would like Robert’s work to impress, Leda? I guess it’s your ‘network of art world professionals’ for their ‘collective critical endorsement’. I wonder if you have read the accompanying ‘Painter with Women; evolution of a project’ book? Part of this deals with Robert’s attitude towards the critical response to his work, making the point that:“Lenkiewicz fell foul of a contemporary Puritanism, and, in particular, the feminist politics of the era, with its fashionable theory of ‘the male gaze’.”Even if your ‘collective critical endorsement’ was a factor, I doubt it will be achieved through cards and prints but through the exhibitions. As usual, despite the huge public interest, no critic as far as I’m aware visited the Ben Uri, the RWA or the Royal William Yard. I see this more as a collective hypnosis, endorsed by the public art world and the ‘art academics’, and driven by a fashionable social and political agenda. I’d rather not worry about them and concentrate on doing something interesting in Berlin. Our exhibition comment books tell us there are a lot people out there receptive to Robert's work and ideas, who (fortunately for them) aren't part of that world.July 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm #11086
“In the art market, financial value is linked to collective critical endorsement and carefully managed release of works entering the right public and private collections. In an otherwise unregulated market where anyone can proclaim themselves as an `artist’ and anything can claim to be `art’, the validation of work is carried out by artists’ peers. Networks of art world professionals – including academics, curators, dealers, artists and buyers – provide advocacy and endorsement for an artist’s work through exhibitions, critical appraisal and private and public purchases.
Thats quite a statement Leda. It sounds like you're rather impressed by these people and their cosy clubs. The rest of us can just go p*** off back to the suburbs, I guess.July 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm #11087
Sorry, I think I may have been a bit slow here. People tell me it's my age.
It sounds like you're rather impressed by these people and their cosy clubs. The rest of us can just go p*** off back to the suburbs, I guess.
That's a bit cruel Marlow I'm sure but I didn't realise 'domestic' was a euphemism for the 'wrong' down-market homes, as opposed to the 'right' up-market houses of 'collectors' or even better homes in public galleries.July 20, 2012 at 11:22 pm #11088
I'm glad this has opened a discussion;Firstly Francis, it is not MY ‘network of art world professionals’, but THE ‘network of art world professionals’, and THEIR ‘collective critical endorsement' which would propel Roberts work into PUBLIC museums and art collections. One should not play with rhetoric centred around snobbery, which, whilst amusing, doesn't negate the fact that such worlds ARE key 'players' in the recognition of an artist and their work.You speak of targeting the public, which is, all would agree, a 'market' (which we ALL constitute) that needs to be enlightened to the work, BUT, you cannot deny the existence of other more influential entities (the art world critics that you flippantly derided) and their very important role in making Robert's work more prominent.Here, you seem to be selectively feigning an ignorance to the workings of the art world for your own ends, but, the fact is that such a world/system DOES indeed exist. It seems somewhat odd that a board member of TLF would react to talk of such institutions as if they were alien entities.July 23, 2012 at 11:01 am #11089
Let’s agree to disagree on the art world, Leda. I think you’re trying to make some constructive criticisms but I feel the argument is fatally flawed. Let’s be more specific.You say ‘Google is the first port of call for the majority these days’ (though an art critic, surely not?). ‘Google Robert Lenkiewicz paintings and see that there are very few of these works that appear (private language). A woman in red. Another woman in pink. A woman in blue.’ So if you do google ‘Lenkiewicz’ and click ‘images’, a vast majority are indeed ‘Painter with model’ or Self-Portraits. But virtually none of them are prints. These are paintings, often ‘non-project pieces', which exist out in the world and can’t be purged. Trying to alter that would be playing King Canute.July 26, 2012 at 12:40 am #11090
Thanks Leda and Francis for a thought-provoking exchange. I'm sympathetic to your views, Leda, and I've asked similar questions here before. In the end I have reluctantly accepted that a print run of Syd, say, is probably not going to be economically viable. The print market is (mostly) aimed at those who don't want “challenging” images on their walls. And even if there was demand for it, it wouldn't automatically mean that the Art Establishment was taking notice of ROL.What I would like to know is: how, when, where will a Lenkiewicz painting make its way into a half-decent art gallery's permanent collection? That's got to be a very important milestone on the road to mainstream acceptance. I don't know how these things work, but would a gallery accept a work on long term loan? Are any collectors willing to lend?July 26, 2012 at 10:21 am #11091
Yes, good points, Sartre. I'm not sure we'll get collectors willing to give paintings away (any volunteers?). Long term loans tend to be tricky legally. What has long interested me is the 'placing' of paintings in public exhibitions alongside Robert's peers or based on theme. Since these shows are planned a long way ahead, it won't happen overnight (though we just lent 'Diogenes in the studio window' to Falmouth – no, I accept, not The Tate.) This also really requires a proper employed person to work on it, so until the dreaded estate is finally wound up, we're struggling.
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