from brand-brand to art-brand (more on michael manning)

Thanks to Michael Manning for the shout and Lindsay Howard for noting my (doomed) attempt to give context to his paintings -- the occasion is this Rhizome interview of the former by the latter, published yesterday.

In January last year I wrote this about Manning:

[His] recent images consist of touchscreen paintings with menu-selected brushes, textures and hues; am guessing these are "augmented finger paintings" and not done with a stylus. He has made them on the iPad as well as with Windows 8 demo screens inside the Microsoft Store [alien country for the Apple-brainwashed creative elite -- obligatory dig --ed.]. The buildup of color, washes, and calligraphic line in digital gesture painting can be seductive but let's remember the original AbEx artists also employed cinematic scale, gloppy physical media, and the athleticism of pushing the glop around with long-handled brushes. They would have laughed to see people making micro-movements on a TV screen and then saving them as jpegs and PNGs. The "action painting" model has been pretty thoroughly discredited but those are the reasons it's in museums, at any rate. Am possibly more interested in Manning's steady output of tiny de Kooningesque and Twomblyesque color-spasms as performance-cum-notation having to do with "available technology" and the instant masterpieces "apps" promise to deliver than some electronic de-reification of the earnest Real of gestural abstraction, although both motivations might be present. Also they are pretty, and it's always good to annoy the Marxist art-as-hair-shirt crowd.

The next day Brian Droitcour covered the same work for Rhizome but couched it more in terms of brands and corporate colonization of the web. Essentially he said that Manning is post-brand in not restricting his work to a single "silo." Yet both of us mentioned the Microsoft Store -- Rhizome even ran a photo of a store exterior. That's a hook and refers to a brand even if it's an ironic joke. I ventured that the "Store" paintings were actually better than the iPad paintings and Droitcour accused me on twitter of loving Microsoft. Now Manning says we're both nitpicking because "I don't really care about brands or the branded part of any of it, I just look at them all like toys lol." (Then why did you call them... oh, never mind.) None of this matters in the slightest to the art dealers who are currently selling printed-out versions of the paintings -- all the collector wants to know is that it's being written about in the right venues. More power to Manning for leveraging the critical vacuum to his advantage, I guess. His own stated reasons for doing the paintings are perfectly valid.