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Bicycle as art. Please discuss...

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Bicycle as art. Please discuss...

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Old 07-23-11, 07:59 AM
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AZORCH
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Bicycle as art. Please discuss...

I'm looking for a broad range of suggestions here.

Let's say you were attending an exhibition titled "Art of the Bicycle," ok? (Just a working title for now.) The show should represent the "art" of the bicycle in all its myriad forms and not just the particular favorites of the curator. Let's also presume that the cost for pulling this show together was unlimited (which it decidedly would not be!) The question is this: What should be represented in such a show?

I'll begin with some of my own prejudices: a classic and modern example of a handmade randonneur, examples from a very small, local maker of unique cycling caps, a painting by an artist in which the bicycle features prominently (it wouldn't be available, of course, but Picasso's "Bull" sculpture, made from bicycle handlebars comes immediately to mind.)


Now, what are your contributions to the show?
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Old 07-23-11, 08:10 AM
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There's this:

http://collections.madmuseum.org/cod...le=exhibitions

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Old 07-23-11, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by AZORCH View Post
What should be represented in such a show?[/I][/B]
I'd think that anything and everything related to bicycles http://youtu.be/jSemuIYTh_4
Here's another link http://youtu.be/Vh_utsIU2ls

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Old 07-23-11, 08:29 AM
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As with any work of art, the interpretation is more about the artist than the work. Is this supposed to celebrate function? form? impact?

What was Picasso saying with that sculpture and did it have anything to do with bicycles? Personally, I'd steer towards elements that retain the function of transport, and their depiction in various media. What is your vision? What are you trying to say?
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Old 07-23-11, 08:33 AM
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I'd contribute my paintings if something like this were to happen near me.

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...in-SF-Bay-Area

Almost done with a third one!
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Old 07-23-11, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by liquefied View Post
I'd contribute my paintings if something like this were to happen near me.

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...in-SF-Bay-Area

Almost done with a third one!
Gorgeous work. I'd like seeing that in a show.
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Old 07-23-11, 08:37 AM
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I would want to see a good diachronic display of decorative items, including but not limited to the decals, with lots of examples from every country and every decade, with an emphasis on some of the more interesting periods. This should show both how big factories could afford large runs of expensive decals and headbadges whereas small builders would get similar effects by hand. Definitely include some of those amazing Australian bikes with 100% hand painted graphics. And some continental European bikes with fender emblems. French bikes with crazy chain guards. Chain rings.
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Old 07-23-11, 08:55 AM
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Old 07-23-11, 09:20 AM
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I'd also read up on the Art of the Motorcycle exhibition that was at the Guggenheim. Personally, I would not consider an exhibition of just bikes to be art.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Art_of_the_Motorcycle
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Old 07-23-11, 09:36 AM
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The Picasso and Duchamp sculptures are definitely high art using bicycle parts. However as an art event or exposition of modern Bike art I would prefer rolling sculpture myself and advocate a Art Bike Parade similar to our Art Car Parade, in which any and all forms of rolling cycle art pieces or associated derivatives could participate in order to raise bike consciousness. A special C&V class for the purists would be at it's core. No fossil fuels allowed, but any fossils included (like me).

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Old 07-23-11, 09:44 AM
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The Picasso and Duchamp pieces shown above are art. Bicycles (at least good ones) are craft.
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Old 07-23-11, 10:04 AM
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Old 07-23-11, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Otis View Post
The Picasso and Duchamp pieces shown above are art. Bicycles (at least good ones) are craft.
Well, obviously, any time you take a noun and add another noun as adjective, you get something slightly different from the noun. Art is art (and very hard to define at that) while bicycle art is bicycle art and, whatever it is, not the same as art.

So bicycle art... the art of the bicycle... the art of bicycle design...the art applied to the bicycle... the bicycle as art... the bicycle in art... all these are slightly different things, but when you argue whether they're art or craft you have descended into semantics. Now I have nothing against semantics, or even semiotics, but let's not go there.
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Old 07-23-11, 10:17 AM
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Old 07-23-11, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Otis View Post
The Picasso and Duchamp pieces shown above are art. Bicycles (at least good ones) are craft.
Not so fast.
What's interesting (to me, anyway) is that this distinction, while useful, suggests a dichotomy that isn't easily maintained once certain cultural assumptions are called into question. It's easy to assign objects to convenient categories - even necessary. But the "divide" between art and craft hasn't always been so historically obvious. Both are examples of making, both involve creativity, problem-solving, an aesthetic sense, particular skills and ability to manipulate materials. In other cultures and times, items of "use" have often also been objects of aesthetic importance or enjoyment. I think precisely the intersection between so-called "art" and "craft" - right where the categories blur, is quite revelatory, at least potentially.

The intelligent mechanic engaged in his job, interested in doing well and finding sasisfaction in his handiwork, caring for his materials and tools with genuine affection, is artistically engaged. The difference between such a worker and the inept and careless bungler is as great in the shop as it is in the studio. Oftentimes the product may not appeal to the esthetic sense of those who use the product. The fault, however, is oftentimes not so much with the worker as with the conditions of the market for which his product is designed. Were conditions and opportunities different, things as significant to the eye as those produced by earlier craftsmen would be made. - John Dewey, "Art As Experience"
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Old 07-23-11, 10:44 AM
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Old 07-23-11, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Picchio Special View Post
Not so fast.
What's interesting (to me, anyway) is that this distinction, while useful, suggests a dichotomy that isn't easily maintained once certain cultural assumptions are called into question. It's easy to assign objects to convenient categories - even necessary. But the "divide" between art and craft hasn't always been so historically obvious. Both are examples of making, both involve creativity, problem-solving, an aesthetic sense, particular skills and ability to manipulate materials. In other cultures and times, items of "use" have often also been objects of aesthetic importance or enjoyment. I think precisely the intersection between so-called "art" and "craft" - right where the categories blur, is quite revelatory, at least potentially.

The intelligent mechanic engaged in his job, interested in doing well and finding sasisfaction in his handiwork, caring for his materials and tools with genuine affection, is artistically engaged. The difference between such a worker and the inept and careless bungler is as great in the shop as it is in the studio. Oftentimes the product may not appeal to the esthetic sense of those who use the product. The fault, however, is oftentimes not so much with the worker as with the conditions of the market for which his product is designed. Were conditions and opportunities different, things as significant to the eye as those produced by earlier craftsmen would be made. - John Dewey, "Art As Experience"
To further support your point: In most cultures (i.e., non-Western cultures) there is no word for "art." The aesthetic experience we enjoy and refer to as "art" when we enjoy viewing 19th century African masks - just to cite one of many exemplars - has no meaningful interpretation to the culture and time from which they hail.

That said, what I hoped to get out of initiating this discussion in the first place are examples that C&V enthusiasts might want to see displayed and collected into a single venue, and that the general public might also find interesting as well. At this point in time I have purposely chosen not to clearly define what "the art of the bicycle" means, partly to motivate the sort of philosophical dialogue that has already begun here, and partly to collectively brainstorm the possibilities. It would be so easy to simply narrow the focus down to photographs of Italian racing bikes or a display of modern frame designs or balloon tire wonders ... or something else equally esoteric. But it seems to me that many of us - certainly everyone in this forum, I would imagine - feel some sort of affinity for the bicycle. For some, it's tied in with the nostalgia of childhood; for others it is about the exercise; still others love the classical allure of vintage steel and lugs and chrome. The list of connections goes on and on. (To me, there is the intrigue of form and function striking a perfect balance: a beautifully designed machine that performs in time with the rider.)

I hope the dialogue continues and I plan to steal the best of your ideas mercilessly as we consider what a show like this might actually entail.
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Old 07-23-11, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Otis View Post
The Picasso and Duchamp pieces shown above are art. Bicycles (at least good ones) are craft.
+1 Why should we be embarrassed to call a display of aesthetically pleasing bicycles anything other than what they are are, great examples of industrial design?

A partial list of what I'd include:

American Baroque bikes. The balloon tired bikes from the 30s to the 60s. Not so great to ride, but gorgeous to look at and a reflection of greater trends in society. Kids were being sold a steppingstone into the world of motorcycles, cars, aviation and space travel.

The muscle bikes of the 60s & 70s. Starting with the original Stingray, muscle bikes were pure fantasy. Lots of imaginative designs.

English roadsters and 3 speeds. Classic looking bikes with wonderful attention to detail. Some of the chainwheels are worthy of being hung on the wall by themselves.

Track bikes and real race bikes of the downtube shifter and steel frame era. No other piece of machinery designed to carry a human is as spare and purposeful as these. The minimum is the optimum.

Early safety bikes. In the era before we'd finally settled on the best frame layout, double-diamond, experimentation and differentiation ruled. If all bikes looked the same, why should anyone buy one particular brand? Make it unique.

There are a lot of bikes that are beautiful by themselves. Some French bikes are individual, functional, and lovely to look at. Rene Herse, anyone?

My '84 Univega Super Strada with full Dura Ace AX. Candy red. Still the pertiest bike ever in Merkel-land.
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Old 07-23-11, 01:23 PM
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I'd want to include this:



It the original painting by Greg Curnoe. Here's the actual bike on the wall behind Mike Barry, who built it:

http://www.thestar.com/entertainment...gh-coffee-shop
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Old 07-23-11, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by AZORCH View Post
To further support your point: In most cultures (i.e., non-Western cultures) there is no word for "art." The aesthetic experience we enjoy and refer to as "art" when we enjoy viewing 19th century African masks - just to cite one of many exemplars - has no meaningful interpretation to the culture and time from which they hail.

That said, what I hoped to get out of initiating this discussion in the first place are examples that C&V enthusiasts might want to see displayed and collected into a single venue, and that the general public might also find interesting as well. At this point in time I have purposely chosen not to clearly define what "the art of the bicycle" means, partly to motivate the sort of philosophical dialogue that has already begun here, and partly to collectively brainstorm the possibilities. It would be so easy to simply narrow the focus down to photographs of Italian racing bikes or a display of modern frame designs or balloon tire wonders ... or something else equally esoteric. But it seems to me that many of us - certainly everyone in this forum, I would imagine - feel some sort of affinity for the bicycle. For some, it's tied in with the nostalgia of childhood; for others it is about the exercise; still others love the classical allure of vintage steel and lugs and chrome. The list of connections goes on and on. (To me, there is the intrigue of form and function striking a perfect balance: a beautifully designed machine that performs in time with the rider.)

I hope the dialogue continues and I plan to steal the best of your ideas mercilessly as we consider what a show like this might actually entail.
Well, one thing that to me merits inclusion is an example or two of the bicycle posters from the first half of the 20th century. I'm sure you know the ones I'm referring to.
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Old 07-23-11, 02:23 PM
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A "what is art?" thread?

Wouldn't we be better off discussing what oil is best in an AW?
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Old 07-23-11, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Otis View Post
The Picasso and Duchamp pieces shown above are art. Bicycles (at least good ones) are craft.
Ok, then we'll just leave the crafty C&V bunch out of the parade. Need I remind you that art is in the eye of the beholder. You can now climb back under that rock, with your blinders securely fastened.
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Old 07-23-11, 02:47 PM
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Surely some works by the guy that makes a painting of every stage in this year's tour, mr. Ibema. Good stuff.

And I'd make it a ride-in exposistion with a cyclepath running through the museum, or place the works of art (or copies, in case of vulnerable/expensive stuff like the picasso things) along a pretty cyclepath in the park.

Picasso and duchamp are already in.

Lot's of Dario Pegoretti bikes, the ones he finishes himself with whatever suits his temperament that day and what he has lying around in the shop. I.e., he recently made textured paint with coffee grounds.

A photo gallery with artsy paris-roubaix pics of the pinnacle of human suffering.

A grotesque installation with gore, blood and white coats titled "Eufemio".

A bust of pantani.

A paint your own visibility falg corner for the kids.

All the furniture by some dutch guy who builds stools and chairs (fillet brazed) from bike tubing, painted in shades of gios blue, celeste etc.

A wall full of chainrings in all shapes and sizes.

Certainly no modern custom frames, they should be ridden, not exposed as art (except guys like pegoretti, who use the bikes as canvas).

Look bikes with the original mondriaans next to it.

Sound installations with great quotes on cycling and tales of heroic victories.

...this will do for now
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Old 07-23-11, 03:00 PM
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"The first sense of the word 'art' to be distinguished from art proper is the obsolete sense in which it means in what in this book I shall call craft. This is what 'ars' means in ancient Latin, and what _____ means in Greek: the power to produce a preconceived result by means of consciously controlled and direct action..."

from The Principles of Art, R.G. Collingwood

The De Rosa was conceived with the highest degree of craft. The interaction between me and this thing that gets me all hot and sweaty is the art.
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Old 07-23-11, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by stonefree View Post
Ok, then we'll just leave the crafty C&V bunch out of the parade. Need I remind you that art is in the eye of the beholder. You can now climb back under that rock, with your blinders securely fastened.

Agreed. I make a living doing art. Nothing else. And that does not make me in any way qualified to say what is or is not art.

I am sometimes stunned by the line of a cable housing backlit against the morning sunlit pavement. I have a few vintage frames on my wall, next to some seriously good paintings done by some very good painters. A couple very strikeing components sit next to contemporary ceramics and metal work done by other artists.

I do not generaly put bicycle "stuff" in my work. Other than the occational run of coffee cups wtih "Yes I rode my bicycle today" on them. And thats for fun. And a little profit.
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