For an artist who worked in materials as graceless as cement, disused furniture and broken bits of mass-produced garden sculpture, Mr. Ireland enjoyed an unusually varied audience. His reluctance to take himself or his work too seriously nearly always made itself felt. Even people who thought contemporary art absurd often appreciated his willingness to affirm the quotient of absurdity in his work and methods.
While curators at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam stand by the theory of self-mutilation, Kaufmann argues that Van Gogh dropped hints in letters to his brother, Theo, once commenting : “Luckily Gauguin … is not yet armed with machine guns and other dangerous war weapons.”
See Mea Culpa, Bruce with David Byrne and Brian Eno from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts-
Connor mainly uses old educational films, science films, government footage and film footage that people throw out and then recuts them to new music, creating dark and sometimes hilarious moods and visual commentaries.
A-Movie – It is referred to as the piece that brought Conner to notoriety. In skillfully editing stock footage, Conner created abstract metaphors of mankind’s violence.
My friend Bruce Conner died yesterday morning in San Francisco, I heard from many mutual friends this morning (I’m overseas). He had been ill for decades and had been given months to live twenty years earlier and more seriously. I met him when I was in my early twenties; I approached him with considerable trepidation when I wrote my thesis on the artist Wallace Berman and found him duly terrifying but also charming, hilarious and possessed of a stunning memory for events of the 1950s, when he joined the other visual artists who, allied with the beat poets of the era, created one of California’s first and most significant avant-gardes. We became friends and had a bumpy, a musing, precious friendship over the next near-quarter century, with interruptions. Bruce himself as most of you know was an extraordinary prodigal genius in many media, reshaping the way film could be understood with his short found-footage movies from A Movie (1958) on, making brilliant, eclectic, and deeply individual work in painting, collage, assemblage, printmaking, photography and other still media, mostly in black and white, a drama of beauty, strangeness, moral wrestling, pop culture and spiritual inquiry that is in my opinion among the most important visual stuff to come out of that strange midcentury moment; I think posterity will raise him higher in the history books, though his choice to spend his life in San Francisco was a choice not to give a damn about that, and he made many uncareerist decisions in a career that is better described as a quest for unattainable perfection that left him dissatisfied but kept his standards high. He was able to see what was sad in porn ography, beautiful in atomic explosions, strange in shadows and photograms, comic in Jesus engravings, rich in black and white. I remember him telling another interviewer about his first viewing of a movie–a Shirley Temple film seen with his mother in Kansas when he was five; his mother kept urging him to admire Temple’s cuteness and he recalled, “She was fifty feet tall and the scariest thing I’d ever seen.” And he commented, “I’m just a stranger on earth, that’s all,” or words to that effect suggesting that aliens see things differently than the natives. No longer of this earth…..
(Via email from Hal Lum)
Alan Sondheim – I saw his films years ago, this is sad (via email)
David Ireland has been a familiar figure in the West Coast art scene for three decades. Not focusing on a career in art until reaching his 40s, he spent his earlier years seeking out an array of experiences. After earning a B.A. in Industrial Design and Printmaking, Ireland lived in Asia, Europe and Africa. He pursued work in numerous professions, most notably serving as an African safari guide during the 1960s and early ’70s. Soon after completing graduate work at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1974, he purchased a house at 500 Capp Street, in the city’s not-yet-gentrified Mission District. (via)
The above two photos taken from magazine clips I saved from long ago.
The top right image is the exterior of Ireland’s house in San Francisco.
This article was written by John Ashbery. He wrote,
Ireland soon realized that this would be no ordinary restoration job–“consolidation” is the word he prefers to use.
“Slowly I progressed, as an artist, and I reached a philosophical point where I realized that the lively presence I was looking for in my paintings was here on the walls, as I stripped away and cleaned off the surfaces.”