N. Elizabeth Schlatter on Ann Ledy

Ann Ledy, <em>Untitled</em>, 1980

Ann Ledy, Untitled, 1980, ink and Wite-Out on paper, 8 1/2 x 11 inches (21.6 x 27.9 cm). © Ann Ledy / Photo: Ellen McDermott

Ann Ledy’s Untitled from 1980 is a recording of the artist’s response to the philosophical concepts fundamental to her world view. Thus, the following selection of passages by artists, scholars, and philosophers — and the subsequent notations by Ledy — are in, of, and about her drawing.

      Plato describes the universe by constructing it and making it grow.1

The purpose of art, according to Shklovsky, is to force us to notice. Since perception is usually too automatic, art develops a variety of techniques to impede perception or, at least, to call attention to themselves.2

“defamiliarization”; Shklovsky
the habitual way of thinking is to make the unfamiliar as easily digestible as possible. Normally our perceptions are “automatic,” which is another way of saying that they are minimal, i.e., learning is largely a matter of learning to ignore. Ex. “We have not really learned to drive an automobile until we are able to react to the relevant stoplights, pedestrians, other motorists, road conditions, and so on with a minimum of conscious effort–without actually noticing what we are reacting to–”3

A plane figure bounded by a single curved line every point of which is equally distant from the center.4

What can be done with the English language? Use it as material. Material of five kinds: letters, syllables, words, phrases, sentences. A text for a song can be a vocalise: just letters. Can be just syllables, just words; just a string of phrases; sentences. Or combinations of letters and syllables (for example), letters and words, et cetera.5

Croce = Philosophy of language and philosophy of art are the same thing. P 142. ie: the science of art and that of language, AESTHETIC and LINGUISTIC, conceived as true sciences, are not two distinct things, but only one. –general Linguistic, in so far as what it contains is reducible to philsophy. –same 6


1. The source for this note is not included in Ledy’s drawing, but it is possibly from Francis MacDonald Cornford, Plato’s Cosmology: The Timaeus of Plato Translated with a Running Commentary (originally published London: Kegan Paul, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1937), 31. (http://tinyurl.com/3bedbtc)
2. Ivor Armstrong Richards, Science and Poetry (originally published London: Kegan Paul, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1926). Viktor Shklovsky was a Russian theorist from the twentieth century.
3. Lee T. Lemon and Marion J. Reis, Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays (University of Nebraska Press, 1965), 4. (http://tinyurl.com/443rbsg)
4. The specific source for this definition of a circle is not included in the drawing.
5. John Cage, from an essay in the journal Semiotext(e) 3.2 (1978).
6. Benedetto Croce, Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic (originally published in Italian in 1902). (http://tinyurl.com/3j62j57)

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Ann Ledy

Ann Ledy (b. 1952, St. Paul, MN) earned her BFA in Painting at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (1974), and received her MFA in Painting at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn (1979). She has taught drawing at Pratt and at Parsons The New School of Design, New York, where she also chaired the BFA Foundation Department. Ledy lives and most recently worked in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she was President and Chief Academic Officer at the College of Visual Arts. Selected solo exhibitions have been held at Andrea Bergmann Gallery, Drensteinfurt, Germany (1996); Gallery Nine, Seoul (1996); C.A.I.S. Gallery, Seoul (1998); A.D.D. Gallery, Hudson, New York (1999, 2001); Stark Gallery, New York (2001); and OK Harris Gallery, New York (2004). Her work has been included in numerous group shows, most recently at the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut (2007); The San Diego Museum of Art, California (2008, 2009); and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente, Segovia, Spain (2009).

N. Elizabeth Schlatter

N. Elizabeth Schlatter is the Deputy Director and Curator of Exhibitions at the University of Richmond Museums, Virginia, where she has organized exhibitions of modern and contemporary art since 2000. Previously she worked at the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Washington, DC, and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. Elizabeth also organizes exhibitions independently and writes about art for various publications and websites. She has a BA in Art History from Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas, and an MA in Art History from George Washington University, Washington, DC. Elizabeth lives and works in Richmond, Virginia.

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