Monday, October 15, 2007

New York, O.C. artist, Allan McCollum

I attended the PSU art department's Monday Night Lecture, organized by faculty member Harrell Fletcher. The presenter, Allan McCollum, went all the way back to 1968, giving a chronological account of his projects.

McCollum overwhelmed me with his compulsions, making hundreds or thousands of similar objects. He has created thousands of Perfect Vehicle sculptures with the same shape, that of a Chinese ginger jar, but in different colors, and sometimes different sizes, from a few inches to 80 inches high. At other times, he obsessively researches, documents, or replicates interesting things that come his way, such as a Pompeii dog, or sand spikes. McCollum taps into visionary art or "art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself." (quote from the American Museum of Visionary Art, in Baltimore)

McCollum is creating a more refined version of visionary art. It's more calculated than folk art. I appreciate works by individuals who have an innate personal vision in them and it's got to come out. McCollum starts with the premise that he's going to create in an obviously obsessive manner, and he looks for an appropriate subject.

McCollum had justifications for each and every step along the way in his forty-odd year pursuit of obsessively repetitious projects. The justifications were generally about art, not about compulsion. His presentation attitude was somewhat mocking and sly, eliciting chuckles if not admiration.

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