An Alternative to Andrew Russeth’s Top Ten Artist Websites

by Paddy Johnson on August 3, 2010 · 24 comments Opinion

petra cortright, art fag city

Petra Cortright, When You Walk Through The Storm, 2009

ArtInfo’s Andrew Russeth names his top ten artist website, which might as well be renamed “Top 10 auction friendly artists who happen to have websites”. The list is 90 percent men, Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, and Gerhardt Richter amongst them. The two lesser knowns on this list are AA Bronson and Kate Gilmore, and even they are doing extremely well for themselves.

Like everyone else cited by Russeth, it’s clear these artists aren’t making their website a focus (I suspect AA Bronson’s hasn’t updated his design since 2004.) It’s no secret I have an affinity for net artists, but were I making this list that’s not why there’d be a lot of them on it. This isn’t because they intuitively know how to make an easily navigable menu bar — cookie cutter websites are great for this and often preferable for this reason — but because the artist’s  ”hand” is made visible on the site itself somehow. This can be made apparent in both design and frequent updating.

Based on this criteria, I’m listing a few of my favorite sites below. I invite readers to do the same in the comment section below:

Joel Holmberg. The top of this artist’s website marked by constantly refreshing browser tabs. I like it. I also like the current splash page: a picture of the sky with lens flare that follows a users curser. Like most web ephemera this will occupy about 20 seconds of a surfers time, but oh what a 20 seconds!

Petra Cortright. Cortright maintains what is quite possibly my favorite net.artist website. It’s constantly changing and all of the pages have customized background images to match the work. On some pages the cursor even drops pink sparkles.

Stephanie Davidson runs my daily read, the Rising Tensions tumblr, as an addition to her website. Rising Tensions hosts an array of images, mostly from outside the art world.  I enjoyed this David Benjamin Sherry-like picture from awkward family pictures, along with a rising McDonalds sign in a lake. Also, while any picture of a weird office with computers matches the cliche of what viewer would expect to find on an net artist website, but this forest with computers is pretty funny. Like any blog, regular reading is necessary to gain an understanding of the artist’s sensibility.

VVORK. An old school art-image based blog maintained by artists Aleksandra Domanovic, Christoph Priglinger, Georg Schnitzer, Oliver Laric. It was the first of its kind, and incredibly useful, though I now read curator Forrest Nash’s Contemporary Art Daily more regularly. There’s a little less gif action on his site, but I like that the full information about each exhibition is given along with a grid of images. It also is the only website I’ve seen that completely recreates gallery’s aura of authority, which is both a strength and weakness.

Tauba Auerbach – Auerbach is a well known artist who shouldn’t have been missed even by Russeth. An attractive website with curly text and rollovers, the site maintains the unique sensibility of the artist. It’s a little hard to read, but because I can see the text’s relationship to Auerbach’s work, I look past that.

Other Criteria – Technically this is just an artist edition website, but it’s one of artist Damien Hirst more successful projects. I think he’s more honest about what he’s doing when he skips the charade about how his work is about death and the art market, and just sells merch.

  • http://kgillart.blogspot.com Kamilah Gill-Reed

    Thanks. You have a few useful links here. I still have a little trouble dealing with net art, though. I’ve played with it for years and enjoyed it many times, but there isn’t much of it that stays in my mind for very long after I’ve watched an animated GIF cycle a few times. Can anyone tell me what I might be missing? I feel like I need objects. Paintings, sculptures, even a good photo or video. However, online photos and videos can feel just as lightweight as the GIFs. Maybe it’s like online writing versus printed writing. Making a physical artifact often takes more effort, so maybe that’s why objects tend to resonate with me a bit more.

    I don’t want to be just another painter who is stuck in the past. I know, you’re probably tired of talking about this, but I really want to find a better way to approach the existence of net art so that I’m not just another stale, irrelevant painter. It’s disheartening to feel like all of my hard work is just a waste of time. Anyway, any thoughts about this from the other artists here?

  • http://kgillart.blogspot.com Kamilah Gill-Reed

    Thanks. You have a few useful links here. I still have a little trouble dealing with net art, though. I’ve played with it for years and enjoyed it many times, but there isn’t much of it that stays in my mind for very long after I’ve watched an animated GIF cycle a few times. Can anyone tell me what I might be missing? I feel like I need objects. Paintings, sculptures, even a good photo or video. However, online photos and videos can feel just as lightweight as the GIFs. Maybe it’s like online writing versus printed writing. Making a physical artifact often takes more effort, so maybe that’s why objects tend to resonate with me a bit more.

    I don’t want to be just another painter who is stuck in the past. I know, you’re probably tired of talking about this, but I really want to find a better way to approach the existence of net art so that I’m not just another stale, irrelevant painter. It’s disheartening to feel like all of my hard work is just a waste of time. Anyway, any thoughts about this from the other artists here?

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  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    @Kamilah: The notions of the “lightweight”-edness of “net art” and that “making a physical artifact often takes more effort” are strikingly similar to early criticisms against photography, film, video — and (modernist) painting. Rosalind Krauss noted that this kind of attitude existed in response to Malevich’s paintings, which she later parallels (in the same essay) to the skepticism voiced against regarding photography as a legitimate art form:

    “The putative fraudulence of (Malevich’s) ‘White on White’ is based precisely on its failure to conform or to comply with examples of what art had been known to be. In that failure it seems to lay itself open to all sorts of accusations: that there isn’t enough work in it to qualify as a work of art; that in its reduction it is too mechanical to be an image of art; that in its abstraction its language is too private to function as communication on the level of art.” (from ‘Stieglitz/Equivalents,’ October #11, 1979)

    So, even though the internet is still being discussed in terms of its “newness,” the conversation about object-based art vs. non-objective, more ephemeral (“lightweight”) forms is anything but new — and affected attitudes about the changes happening within the traditional, object-based art forms, as well.

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    @Kamilah: The notions of the “lightweight”-edness of “net art” and that “making a physical artifact often takes more effort” are strikingly similar to early criticisms against photography, film, video — and (modernist) painting. Rosalind Krauss noted that this kind of attitude existed in response to Malevich’s paintings, which she later parallels (in the same essay) to the skepticism voiced against regarding photography as a legitimate art form:

    “The putative fraudulence of (Malevich’s) ‘White on White’ is based precisely on its failure to conform or to comply with examples of what art had been known to be. In that failure it seems to lay itself open to all sorts of accusations: that there isn’t enough work in it to qualify as a work of art; that in its reduction it is too mechanical to be an image of art; that in its abstraction its language is too private to function as communication on the level of art.” (from ‘Stieglitz/Equivalents,’ October #11, 1979)

    So, even though the internet is still being discussed in terms of its “newness,” the conversation about object-based art vs. non-objective, more ephemeral (“lightweight”) forms is anything but new — and affected attitudes about the changes happening within the traditional, object-based art forms, as well.

  • http://www.16miles.com Andrew Russeth

    Great additions, Ms. Johnson. True, admittedly I was keeping it auction-friendly. Thanks for the additions.

  • http://kgillart.blogspot.com Kamilah Gill-Reed

    This is hard, but let me try again to clarify what I’m saying…

    I’m not really trying to say that net art and other digital art, and things like performance art *aren’t* art (though those and even some traditional forms can be on shaky ground sometimes). I’ve graduated from art school, digested the White on White and Black on Black and Duchamp urinals and all the rest. That’s old news.

    I can accept net art on its own terms. It is art. A viewer has to be online in order to see it, but that’s okay. It disappears from view when you pull the plug, but the same can be said of movies, videos, recorded music, etc. I guess all of these things have some kind of “presence” that turns them into mental “objects” that persist even when the power is out. Sorry, that was really clunky; I think I lack the words to express this more clearly…

    Anyway, here’s my problem. Net art and painting and all the rest ought to be able to peacefully coexist, right? But I keep seeing declarations that “painting is dead”, often from “net art” practitioners. So, to me, they’re positing that net art and similar forms are the wave of the future and that any mere painter needs to get with the program (by making net art?). Should this really be the goal of all artists? I guess my real question was, what is really wrong with painting? It’s nearly impossible to do anything that’s *never* been seen before, so I’m not sure that should be the goal of artists… A lot of net art seems to be composed of preexisting imagery, anyway…

    Sorry, that was messy. I hope you or someone else can kind of see what I’m getting at. I feel lost as an artist lately. I’m a painter. I could make GIFs and stuff, but I don’t really feel like my work would add much to that genre. What makes a good painting anymore? It seems so random…

  • http://kgillart.blogspot.com Kamilah Gill-Reed

    This is hard, but let me try again to clarify what I’m saying…

    I’m not really trying to say that net art and other digital art, and things like performance art *aren’t* art (though those and even some traditional forms can be on shaky ground sometimes). I’ve graduated from art school, digested the White on White and Black on Black and Duchamp urinals and all the rest. That’s old news.

    I can accept net art on its own terms. It is art. A viewer has to be online in order to see it, but that’s okay. It disappears from view when you pull the plug, but the same can be said of movies, videos, recorded music, etc. I guess all of these things have some kind of “presence” that turns them into mental “objects” that persist even when the power is out. Sorry, that was really clunky; I think I lack the words to express this more clearly…

    Anyway, here’s my problem. Net art and painting and all the rest ought to be able to peacefully coexist, right? But I keep seeing declarations that “painting is dead”, often from “net art” practitioners. So, to me, they’re positing that net art and similar forms are the wave of the future and that any mere painter needs to get with the program (by making net art?). Should this really be the goal of all artists? I guess my real question was, what is really wrong with painting? It’s nearly impossible to do anything that’s *never* been seen before, so I’m not sure that should be the goal of artists… A lot of net art seems to be composed of preexisting imagery, anyway…

    Sorry, that was messy. I hope you or someone else can kind of see what I’m getting at. I feel lost as an artist lately. I’m a painter. I could make GIFs and stuff, but I don’t really feel like my work would add much to that genre. What makes a good painting anymore? It seems so random…

  • http://www.16miles.com Andrew Russeth

    Great additions, Ms. Johnson. True, admittedly I was keeping it auction-friendly. Thanks for the additions.

  • http://kgillart.blogspot.com Kamilah Gill-Reed

    This is hard, but let me try again to clarify what I’m saying…

    I’m not really trying to say that net art and other digital art, and things like performance art *aren’t* art (though those and even some traditional forms can be on shaky ground sometimes). I’ve graduated from art school, digested the White on White and Black on Black and Duchamp urinals and all the rest. That’s old news.

    I can accept net art on its own terms. It is art. A viewer has to be online in order to see it, but that’s okay. It disappears from view when you pull the plug, but the same can be said of movies, videos, recorded music, etc. I guess all of these things have some kind of “presence” that turns them into mental “objects” that persist even when the power is out. Sorry, that was really clunky; I think I lack the words to express this more clearly…

    Anyway, here’s my problem. Net art and painting and all the rest ought to be able to peacefully coexist, right? But I keep seeing declarations that “painting is dead”, often from “net art” practitioners. So, to me, they’re positing that net art and similar forms are the wave of the future and that any mere painter needs to get with the program (by making net art?). Should this really be the goal of all artists? I guess my real question was, what is really wrong with painting? It’s nearly impossible to do anything that’s *never* been seen before, so I’m not sure that should be the goal of artists… A lot of net art seems to be composed of preexisting imagery, anyway…

    Sorry, that was messy. I hope you or someone else can kind of see what I’m getting at. I feel lost as an artist lately. I’m a painter. I could make GIFs and stuff, but I don’t really feel like my work would add much to that genre. What makes a good painting anymore? It seems so random…

  • http://josephbolstad.blogspot.com Joseph Bolstad

    Great points, Jesse. @Camilla, I think you just need to permit yourself to enjoy net art and count it as a legitimate influence on your own work instead of worrying about how much time it takes or how it doesn’t take up physical space. You write that you are concerned with becoming irrelevant as a painter, presumably because you believe that net art will somehow eclipse other forms. Stop worrying about that and allow yourself to cultivate an interest — you already stated that you “enjoy” net art. As a start, I’d recommend finding some net artist you genuinely like and thinking about why their work is more successful than others, rather than allowing your current, blanketing opinion about net art as a whole to crystallize. Finally, if you are really worried about being irrelevant, and yet still want to make paintings, let the net influence what you do with paint. Stop looking at painters and turn your eyes solely to the screen for awhile. You will most likely find yourself making fresher work.

  • http://josephbolstad.blogspot.com Joseph Bolstad

    Great points, Jesse. @Camilla, I think you just need to permit yourself to enjoy net art and count it as a legitimate influence on your own work instead of worrying about how much time it takes or how it doesn’t take up physical space. You write that you are concerned with becoming irrelevant as a painter, presumably because you believe that net art will somehow eclipse other forms. Stop worrying about that and allow yourself to cultivate an interest — you already stated that you “enjoy” net art. As a start, I’d recommend finding some net artist you genuinely like and thinking about why their work is more successful than others, rather than allowing your current, blanketing opinion about net art as a whole to crystallize. Finally, if you are really worried about being irrelevant, and yet still want to make paintings, let the net influence what you do with paint. Stop looking at painters and turn your eyes solely to the screen for awhile. You will most likely find yourself making fresher work.

  • http://josephbolstad.blogspot.com Joseph Bolstad

    Great points, Jesse. @Camilla, I think you just need to permit yourself to enjoy net art and count it as a legitimate influence on your own work instead of worrying about how much time it takes or how it doesn’t take up physical space. You write that you are concerned with becoming irrelevant as a painter, presumably because you believe that net art will somehow eclipse other forms. Stop worrying about that and allow yourself to cultivate an interest — you already stated that you “enjoy” net art. As a start, I’d recommend finding some net artist you genuinely like and thinking about why their work is more successful than others, rather than allowing your current, blanketing opinion about net art as a whole to crystallize. Finally, if you are really worried about being irrelevant, and yet still want to make paintings, let the net influence what you do with paint. Stop looking at painters and turn your eyes solely to the screen for awhile. You will most likely find yourself making fresher work.

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    @Kamilah: Regarding “painting is dead,” here’s a snippet from an Yve-Alain Bois essay that proceeds the Krauss essay I quoted above:

    “For Lissitzky, the organization of exhibition space and the construction of books and posters were the Aufhebung of easel painting, whose death — the cliche of the era — was proclaimed by many, from Mondrian to the Russian productivists.” (from ‘El Lissitzky: A Reading’ October #11, 1979)

    Sorry to keep quoting old Octobers, but I think it’s relevant that this is actually part of an ongoing (and nearly century-old) conversation — which is that artists (particularly the ones from the last century on) engage with new forms (particularly those ushered in by technological advancements). Of course these new forms will often be placed in polemical opposition with “old,” “traditional” forms (i.e. painting), but it really doesn’t need to be an either/or showdown. And like most new forms (photography, video), “net art” comes with its glut of physical apparatuses that are essential to generating its primarily “weightless” output — and as with many of the more successful works produced by new forms, “net art” that somehow speaks to these very corporeal necessities is worth investigating.

    I agree with Joseph: it’s more about being excited by and genuinely engaged with your experiences with the net, “net art,” and “net artists” rather than feeling pressure to either defend or abandon painting, or to worry about some proper way to understand or be a “net artist.”

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    @Kamilah: Regarding “painting is dead,” here’s a snippet from an Yve-Alain Bois essay that proceeds the Krauss essay I quoted above:

    “For Lissitzky, the organization of exhibition space and the construction of books and posters were the Aufhebung of easel painting, whose death — the cliche of the era — was proclaimed by many, from Mondrian to the Russian productivists.” (from ‘El Lissitzky: A Reading’ October #11, 1979)

    Sorry to keep quoting old Octobers, but I think it’s relevant that this is actually part of an ongoing (and nearly century-old) conversation — which is that artists (particularly the ones from the last century on) engage with new forms (particularly those ushered in by technological advancements). Of course these new forms will often be placed in polemical opposition with “old,” “traditional” forms (i.e. painting), but it really doesn’t need to be an either/or showdown. And like most new forms (photography, video), “net art” comes with its glut of physical apparatuses that are essential to generating its primarily “weightless” output — and as with many of the more successful works produced by new forms, “net art” that somehow speaks to these very corporeal necessities is worth investigating.

    I agree with Joseph: it’s more about being excited by and genuinely engaged with your experiences with the net, “net art,” and “net artists” rather than feeling pressure to either defend or abandon painting, or to worry about some proper way to understand or be a “net artist.”

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    Please note that comments by readers who have clearly failed to follow any of the links or respond to what’s been written will not be approved. Do the work people.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    Please note that comments by readers who have clearly failed to follow any of the links or respond to what’s been written will not be approved. Do the work people.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    Please note that comments by readers who have clearly failed to follow any of the links or respond to what’s been written will not be approved. Do the work people.

  • http://hypothete.com Hypothete

    Petra Cortright is an amazing artist. I had completely forgotten about trailing cursors, and she just goes crazy with them in those videos. Stephanie Davidson is also really on the ball – one of my daily visits as well. As for Other Criteria, as much as I love planet cutaways (it’s an art form!) $90 for a shirt seems steep and artistic. :P

    @Kamilah – As you know, I have a lot of thoughts on what you’re struggling with regarding net art. To go out on a limb, I’d say that the “struggle” between some net art and art using traditional media is all about audience. That is, paintings reach some people, GIFs reach other people. Quicktime movies of statues rendered in 3D tar with the Mac “Whisper” voice narrating pithy epithets reach some people, even.

    Artists can know by their choice of media who their audience is going to be. Some people feel that an audience should be broad, and others choose to narrow the appeal of their work. This causes division because of whatever reasons said artists have for wanting that audience. Net artists say “painting is dead” because paintings – physical handcrafted objects – are more limited in their consumption.

  • http://hypothete.com Hypothete

    Petra Cortright is an amazing artist. I had completely forgotten about trailing cursors, and she just goes crazy with them in those videos. Stephanie Davidson is also really on the ball – one of my daily visits as well. As for Other Criteria, as much as I love planet cutaways (it’s an art form!) $90 for a shirt seems steep and artistic. :P

    @Kamilah – As you know, I have a lot of thoughts on what you’re struggling with regarding net art. To go out on a limb, I’d say that the “struggle” between some net art and art using traditional media is all about audience. That is, paintings reach some people, GIFs reach other people. Quicktime movies of statues rendered in 3D tar with the Mac “Whisper” voice narrating pithy epithets reach some people, even.

    Artists can know by their choice of media who their audience is going to be. Some people feel that an audience should be broad, and others choose to narrow the appeal of their work. This causes division because of whatever reasons said artists have for wanting that audience. Net artists say “painting is dead” because paintings – physical handcrafted objects – are more limited in their consumption.

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  • http://www.LeeColpi.com Steve

    One site that I have found that I liked is http://www.LeeColpi.com. In addition to being able to view the artist’s works, there is a “find the signature” game and a neat “book” effect that is used to present one of his show’s invitations. There is also this map that shows the locations of all his art, which is pretty neat. This sites isn’t really the same as the other sites listed… but it does seem to be an artist that clearly has put some effort into the website.

  • http://www.texjernigan.com/ Tex

    Net artists make me feel like a redneck in the 1950′s when Pollock was getting big.  
    “Oh, you like Jackson Pollock? I’ve got one of those on my garage floor!”

    But you’ve got some gems on your list.  Any plans to post another list, since its been a couple years?

  • Personal Shoplifter

    As an ‘alternative to the alternative list’ I also like this list of contemporary artist websites. Santiago Sierra and Jonathan Meese as favorites http://artistswebsites.org/artists

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