Friday, June 30, 2006
Thursday, June 29, 2006
The following is along the same lines as what I have been writing and thinking about lately:
Because we play with causes and effects and never go beyond them, except verbally, our lives are empty, without much significance. It is for this reason that we have become slaves to political excitement and to religious sentimentalism. There is hope only in the integration of the several processes of which we are made up. This integration does not come into being through any ideology, or through following any particular authority, religious or political; it comes into being only through extensive and deep awareness. This awareness must go into the deeper layers of consciousness and not be content with surface responses.Again from Krishnamurti at Seeker after Truth. The school I went to, like any school probly, was loaded with agnostics who were quick to turn Krishnamurti into a sort of substitute religion. It beats October Magazine, I suppose, as substitute religions go, but I have always been hesitant about getting too heavy into Krishnamurti's thinking as a result. Because we play with causes and effects and never go beyond them, except verbally...
What I try to do is turn over the same bits of language again and again until they stop having their same significance. I cling to those kinds of significance to my own (to my works') detriment but eventually I find connections and meanings that were not apparent in the first instance. The understanding is that their is some grave well of meaning deep and true but not apparent to the mundane conciousness, not obvious.
I have had a long struggle to figure out what an art blog should be about. I never put my finished work here or in Studio of Ashes because my finished work is always designed for a body to encounter. Most of the communication is done between the bodies of the viewers and the thing itself and therefore glimpses on the internet are but soundbites. But I do a terrific amount of "essays," studies where bad ideas are fleshed out, and proven wrong, and these not only litter my floor and my walls but inform all of the work in the same way that writing about the work does sometimes. "Quoting" these ridiculous and not-so-ridiculous studies by pasting them into a blog helps me to understand from one more of countless angles, and puts them out so that an infinite number of "concious entities" (ha ha, that's you) can fling these still embryonic ideas back at me, changed, altered. Vibrating differently into the circuitry of vibrations, they try again to get into, further into, an understanding.
Posted by Ashes77 at 5:38 PM
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
One of the things that seems left out of the Winkleman piece on his sentimental favorite museum is that institutions like the National Gallery in London, the art marketing industry and the media are dependent on "art brats" to provide fodder for the publicity machine able to keep their prices inflated and the product moving.
In some ways it goes back to my rant about justifying art. Perhaps I should have ranted instead about justifying artists which seems just as likely to be happening anytime particularly crappy art is being traded. Some people want the good artist with the vacation home and the stock portfolio while others prefer work by the junkies and (...remember Nan Goldin fell in that swimming pool? ha ha ha). This is to say that the industry does not go to any length to understand the latest thinking about how art works, how it develops and how artists are working to realize it. Like any marketers, art marketers fear the intellectual capacity of their clientele. They fear sensual enjoyment and insist on infantilizing the transaction process, keep it business-like and "professional."
Part of what I tried to describe yesterday had to do with trauma, and using it, accepting it as part of the work. This is a relatively recently understood phenomena which explains alot of the teenage style "art" that caused marketing scandals a few years ago in Chelsea, but I think it has been well understood by artists for centuries. Emotion is part (maybe a big part) of the intelligence necessary to making connections, to allowing parts of the intellect to open, and in particular, to allowing insight to come up and through the various atomic particles of our thinking and language. Healthy emotional intelligence is shut not only by ideology but certainly also by trauma.
I am not saying you were gang-raped when you were seven and never drew another picture. I am saying that some relatively natural part of growing up shut down your capacity to draw anything and everything and variously successful attempts have been made over centuries by artists to recover from that small trauma. Somethings work and some don't. Probably the most successful has been accepting the trauma, re-living some of it, working with it. That is what people are doing when we see them acting out the "artistic temperment." Though obnoxious, it has made the celebrity marketers' job a bit easier. Celebrity is a much cleaner product and sells well in a society that exists primarily on spreadsheets, but society, that's for another day.
Posted by Ashes77 at 11:07 AM
I thought this was pretty funny.
Krauss, whose work has been driven in equal doses by insight, hunger for new theory, and deep, irrepressible irritation with her colleagues, most successfully places her arguments within alternative art histories and counternarratives …Now how does she do that ? Will be interesting to find out I guess.
Posted by Ashes77 at 3:35 AM
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
This is fourth in a series of posts on the Art Renewal Center. Though to be honest, we are losing interest in them.
The failing of art school education [...] is that it has an attention span problem. Relevant art didn’t just spring up in the ‘80’s. Too many schools focus solely on the cannon of Pollock/ Johns/ Rauschenberg/ Warhol/ Basquiat without much regard for other streams of foundational content. The world is getting small and young artists need to get out of their self styled masturbation bubble and see the connections out there. There is a lot of work to do. There is a lot to understand of the larger historical art trajectory.From Highlowbetween's post yesterday. Mindsprinter and Art Powerlines both have good responses to the New York Times ridiculous lament for public school art. Really mostly a filler piece that doesn't mention the failed economy of New York, the Rockefeller laws or the role of education, as do Art Powerlines and Mindsprinter. Highlowbetween correctly summarizes the narrow focus of Art Schools. Both Mindsprinter and Powerlines go after the narrow over-all focus of the Times and the NY Board of Ed neither of which can accept that education is a bit broader than taking tests and processing ideological sound-bites.
The fact that Times is un-aware of the present status of the US, its government and
constitution shouldn't alarm us. We are facing a great upsurge in the learning and conciousness of the population of the world, even if it is by only a fraction of the world's actual population. The Times can report on trauma the same way that we as younger artists lamented the pain and trauma that stopped our childhood artmaking and cast us into the adolescence of drawing boobs and trucks and angular faces with eyes that stared gaunt from our own emptiness.
What we learned eventually, meta-learned maybe, was that even by the most basic acknowledgement of that trauma, through making art about it, with it and through it, we were able to again make art with more of ourselves than we had previously. When we are still acting on the trauma that shut down the art of the 7 year old, then we are merely advancing the greedy agenda of the adolescent. The 15 year old determined to be the next Warhol by whatever means necessary does not recognize that her need is driven by doubt and insecurity also. This artist does not recognize that doubt and insecurity fuel war and devastation. The writer for the New York Times is unable to process that such sturdy attacks, body blows from both left and right, come about
because it's language is based in the same nothing-reality of the adolescent's notebook filled with scrawled AC/DC logos and 4-wheel drive trucks. That is to say, it is a language based on the narrow drive of the individual stringing thoughts together
in succession, unable to allow thoughts to come up, through language, to describe situations WITHOUT moral judgement.
The devastating lies that the New York Times has printed in the last few years, and those which continue to allow the current regime to remain in power are similar to those which allow the adolescent to be accepted into SVA, acknowledge trauma only with a cynical acceptance that trauma is necessary within the present ideology, and then continue onto Skowhegan or Kennebunkport secure in the knowledge that ideological adherence is necessary to the furtherence of that same ideology.
The reason I began this series on ARC was in an attempt, perhaps thru a comparitive analysis of ideologies, to understand what it is we seek from 19th century art that we aren't getting from 20th century art. I believe Highlowbetween comes close to the sort of simple description of what we are doing:
I was derided by faculty, as nostalgic and uneducated. Never mind that I was simply exploring historic models of inquiry while taking hours of philosophy, comparative literature and contemporary art criticism courses – I was labeled a ludite for wanting to see what traditional work felt like. “Why are you interested in Goya so much”?![All bolding is mine.] Highlowbetween may not know it, but he has describes the proper way to perform journalism, blogging and science. Not even to mention making art. The Times article cited above could very well have included words from the people who work for the New York Times and live in Brownsville Brooklyn. Why should the New York Times care what happens in Brownsville Brooklyn ? It is only its false objectivity that allows it to "report" (with all of the moralizing subjectivity) when it could provide writing about and through the people of Brownsville. Not as impartial observers, but only as necessary participants can we report the situations that confront us. And I think it particularly important that people who have interest in the success of BOTH Brownsville AND the New York Times be called upon as witness. Otherwise it is only the further Cartesian disconnect of the "impartial media organization" reporting on disconnected "others," as opposed to us discussing us.
It was intended to discourage me and hurtful as a young student, especially when faced with loosing my place in graduate school for wanting to make – charcoal drawings! These drawings were about physics and the psychology of movement and transformative acts – not the Pieta!
Still many of the faculty couldn’t get past the materials and methods used. They were hung up, like the ARC is hung up- on style and misconceptions about the relevancy of the past. Luckily I got the MFA, while sticking to my guns. I remember thinking – childishly – why can’t they see how punk rock this is?! Nobody draws like this now!
What Highlowbetween describes is the proper conduct of an artist exploring what it meant and how it FELT to make art in the 19th century. The idea that one is longing, nostalgically for another time and period of art-history show a serious lack of understanding about craft, (with a nod to the excellent Deborah Fischer definition to which HLB links). Sadly it is this lack understanding of craft that the Times also exhibits. We use craft the way that we use language. We take its predetermined forms, agreed upon meanings and understandings and we use them to craft further meanings. Likewise, we use language to craft understandings, insights, meanings, and not merely to support pre-supposed assumptions.
The Board of Ed will fail. Nothing new will come of it. I summed up the New York Times article and you are none the better for it. The ideas of originality and linear roads to new solutions are so Skowhegan - so Kennebunkport, as to be positively useless for what artists are undertaking today. And yet even a glance at the children struggling to not succumb to trauma, even a whisper from adults who recognize the trauma that is New York City's invisible population (invisible because the New York Times deems it so) is enough to start us re-covering from when we stopped being able to draw anything and everything. Using the totality of our experience, and not the greedy adolescent longing for conquest and subjection - that is a step toward understanding art, now.
Posted by Ashes77 at 12:26 PM
Monday, June 26, 2006
This is third in a series of post's on the Art Renewal Center. Today, a special guest post from Highlowbetween of the blog High Low & Inbetween. Beyond being erudite, articulate and well-read, Highlowbetween is also one of those kids who showed up in art school with an easy command of accurate, nuanced drafting skills.
It’s an honor to be a guest here at Speaking of Ashes - as close as I’m likely to get to a visit to Mexico anytime soon! I was asked by Ashes to take a look at the organization called the Art Renewal Center. If you haven’t read the first two entries by Ashes you should take a few minutes and catch up here and here.
It should be noted that I spent a good 3 to 4 hours on the ARC site, its dense and verbose and certainly convoluted, especially if you start getting into the archived email exchanges, which ultimately reveal the raw psychology and strained emotions of the ARC team. They are “hopping mad” to say the least. They do have a serious collection of artworks archived and that is worth reviewing – especially if you teach, it’s nearly a one stop shop for anything that doesn’t include Impressionism or Post-Impressionism. If you’re a romantic 19 year old art history student and love Pre-Raphaelite pictures you may have found your homepage ;)
But alas Fred Ross has a mission. Its grass roots and far too often resembles the activism strategies of evangelicals, which Mr. Ross may indeed be in many respects. To get a better sense of what I mean, go to the ARC approved schools section of the site. It reads like a primer for the home schooling set. Admittedly some good student life drawings are posted in that section and for the heart strings, a story of a local art teacher ostracized and fired for advocating life drawing. The irony there is that the dismissal is the result of latent Victorian attitudes towards sex and the body – the very time period ARC is hoping to demonstrate as a beacon of freedom and erudite discourse on liberty and the highest of humanist values. For them the late 19 century is the culmination of the painting project initiated by Giotto and carried on by the masters of the Renaissance, Baroque and beyond.
The late 19th century Academy artists, as many know them, are the ARC heroes and not the stooges of the Imperial State, but the highest paragons of the tradition and the expertise of Western painting – art practice knowledge bordering on science. The last vestige of something great before the door abruptly gets slammed by the “rogues” set loose by “fashionable” art history – Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse among many others. (Even congenial Pissarro gets sullied.) These are the men who are portrayed as cannibals, Ottomans running loose destroying the temple, brick by brick. What is also interesting is that 19th century American artists seem to be completely missing from the ARC equation. They are in the archive but not seemingly implemented into the overt philosophy and agenda despite all the talk of the Consitutionality of free expression. The heroes for the ARC are definitely European – French and English to be specific.
Like all good movements (and the ARC is a movement for sure, getting loads of hits – hundreds of thousands to be exact) you need a hero or spiritual beacon. For some reason which I still can not figure out, William Bouguereau is that beacon of the ARC. At times on the site you get the feeling that the real point of ARC is to propel this artist to his "rightful" art historical place alongside Rembrandt and Caravaggio. It’s a gross misstatement to think he belongs there – further proof of the flaws in thinking and strategy at ARC. Rembrandt and Caravaggio certainly mirror Bouguereau in terms of their commercial or populist fame during their lifetimes but skill and popularity aren’t enough to survive Time.
The ARC misses mightily that Rembrandt’s lasting relevance has little to do with the art history mafia and more to do with the intangible – the humaneness of the work. Many of Rembrandt’s paintings feel like we still feel – like people who have lived tragedy and survived only to suffer again. These works are about loss and sentient being. It’s embedded in the paint and the eyes. No cherubs need apply! But I digress; this is supposed to be about the 19th century…..
Here’s a brief line from the mission statement by ARC’s Fred Ross:
Further on you get things like this: if you are a Modern or Post-modern artist, every possible method of expressing these feelings and ideas has been removed. Story telling, drawing, illusion, perspective, modeling, and harmonious blending of these with color, tone and design are all forbidden to you. Nothing at all from the real world or even your dreams is permitted. But in the late 19th century it is increasingly being recognized that the greatest artists were not establishment old order supporters, but are more appropriately thought of as liberal activists, both for the advancement of our culture and the righting of societies wrongs.The first quote shows what I mean about his evangelical out look – kicking against the pricks to paraphrase. This railing against Modernism feels like something you’d hear regarding liberals in sources like MeinKampf, or in today’s terms, right wing radio or David Horowitz’s efforts to purge universities of “radical left” professors. I’m being heavy handed and unfair with that statement but you get that sense in some of the rhetoric being tossed around at ARC. It’s a little on the angry white man side – “everyone is stupid but us” psychology. I’m wagering too – that they fail to fully grasp the 19th century as they fail to do the 20th. It’s an accusation I’m willing to throw out against MFA programs as well.
Here’s Ashes on that bit:
I will say that, as shrill as Ross's estimation of the 20th century is, I am interested in pursuing this because I think that any movement to get past the shittiest parts of the last 10 years do necessarily require a re-newed understanding of many parts of the late 19th century art-world. That is not to say I support a return to the "realism" that I am pretty sure Ross advocates. I do think a continued assault on the thinking that led to the kind of crap we are seeing is necessary, though absolutely not on conservative grounds. Ross's screeching misses the fact that much of the hysteria of early modernism against his "old order" was committed by working people against an entrenched aristocracy. It is like the conservative argument against Soviet paraphernalia that misses the vision and dreams of communists, both devout and merely sympathizing. A communist world is imaginable, many have of us, including anyone whose grandfather was in a labor union, have indirectly benefited from communist activism.Ashes further observes:
Likewise, ARC, while missing the beauty and potential of their own subject matter, imagines itself opposed, armed with "draftsmanship" while rooting out honesty as thoroughly as does the mob of any MFA open critique. Yes, those MFA students need discipline and draftsmanship. They also need a thorough grounding in what the hell just happened, not since the 80s and the East Village, but since the 1880s or the 1780s. And that history is NOT being taught, not by Yale, not by ARC, not by all the blogs in my roll, except maybe the history blogs...Ashes mentions in his post that he agrees with many of the ARC’s negative observations of the Modernist and Post-Modernist project and the notion that contemporary art schools are bordering on farce and fraud. I have to say I’m in that camp too. However unlike the ARC, I still find tremendous value in artists such as Duchamp or Warhol, not mention so many of today’s artists. There is a lot to mine out there and despite my often negative assessments, it’s an incredibly rich time to be an artist. That being said, Ross is primarily correct on 2 things – the need for the serious study of older eras, like the 19th century and the unfortunate demise of teaching solid painting craft.
Regarding the lack of craft, the ARC disparages art educators as products of an era where no one could do anything practice wise when it came to painting or drawing. They are depicted as hapless bureaucrats stuck in a pc purgatory of inane self expression! I have felt that occasionally but let’s be clear that this is an unfair and mean spirited assertion and misses out on some of the greatest art of the last 60 years. So what if Beuys couldn’t draw like Michelangelo – I don’t think the world or his students for that matter suffered! Beuys’ contribution is huge.
Still, why is there such a severe lack of good sound traditional training in art schools? It’s a serious point to make. On the flip side of Fred Ross, there is the Art world and the current academy which has been erected and founded upon the outlook of the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is a period hostile to tradition and hell bent on new forms at the cost of traditional forms. That hostility has remained in institutions even as the market has loosened the anti-traditional grip from its height during the mid-seventies. We may have missed out on installation art if the focus hadn’t shifted from the gallery to the university courtesy of the art market crash of 1971. It changed everything – some for the better, some not for the better. One residual effect is a distrust of craft equal to the distrust by the ARC of abstraction and conceptualism. That’s a shame for both camps. Unfortunately, too many artists have missed out on the joys inherent to making art through traditional modes of application. The reverse is true for the ARC artists featured on their website – those folks need a good dose of critical theory and self criticism that doesn’t hinge on the “correct” way to paint.
Regarding the need for craft, here’s the best definition I’ve read recently on why craft is so critical to the intellectual and creative health of an artist.
From Deborah Fisher:
Craft: the study and application of any building or making tradition. Craft connotes history. It is passed from one person to another directly through apprenticeships and teacher/student relationships, and indirectly through books and videos and remembering every time you do a dumb thing. It is a way of working that acknowledges right and wrong ways to do it. Craft-based thinking has its foundation in the fact that people have been making stuff for millennia. It smartly uses this collective body of information gleaned from daily interactions with materials to describe and codify best practices.That’s good stuff. When I studied, I was a student of “natural talent” who realized quickly that I had a good predisposition for draftsmanship and just needed discipline to further it. It excited me as I could see how useful skill could be and how fun the hard work was in getting to the desired result – drawing what I could actually see. What was outside of ME. I was lucky; I had a few teachers who recognized the value of tradition in training a young artist so I was edified by a few. I also had the opposite experience though.
Craft is concerned with maximizing human output, both in terms of quality and quantity. Craft is extremely powerful. Learning a craft is a great way to practice larger MakerThinker concepts, like how to pay attention to what you are doing. But it is crucial to keep in mind that craft is powerful because it is telling you what to do. It is telling you that for hundreds of years people have faced very similar sets of problems when working, and it offers solutions that are valuable because they have been tested by millions of others.
I was derided by faculty, as nostalgic and uneducated. Never mind that I was simply exploring historic models of inquiry while taking hours of philosophy, comparative literature and contemporary art criticism courses – I was labeled a ludite for wanting to see what traditional work felt like. “Why are you interested in Goya so much”?!
It was intended to discourage me and hurtful as a young student, especially when faced with loosing my place in graduate school for wanting to make – charcoal drawings! These drawings were about physics and the psychology of movement and transformative acts – not the Pieta!
Still many of the faculty couldn’t get past the materials and methods used. They were hung up – like the ARC is hung up- on style and misconceptions about the relevancy of the past. Luckily I got the MFA, while sticking to my guns. I remember thinking – childishly – why can’t they see how punk rock this is?! Nobody draws like this now! Anyway…
One of my favorite thoughts by Agnes Martin, to paraphrase, is that everything is contemporary. The Pyramids have as much value to me as the Turner Prize. If you can take it in then it is relevant subject matter for you as an artist and as a citizen.
The failing of art school education that Ashes mentions, is that it has an attention span problem. Relevant art didn’t just spring up in the ‘80’s. Too many schools focus solely on the cannon of Pollock/Johns/Rauschenberg/Warhol/Basquiat without much regard for other streams of foundational content. The world is getting small and young artists need to get out of their self styled masturbation bubble and see the connections out there. There is a lot of work to do. There is a lot to understand of the larger historical art trajectory.
The ARC is gets a small part right but ultimately misses the big picture . In its quest to unseat the king, a lack of understanding is revealed - the needs of people today - and the need for new visions -or so it seems judging by the ARC approved contemporary artists. Perhaps Forum Gallery would be interested in these artists?
all images from the ARC: Bouguereau, Cabanel, Meissonier, Bouguereau
Posted by Ashes77 at 12:30 PM
Friday, June 23, 2006
I've only been following Seeker After Truth for a few days, and of course, things fall into alignment and I like it better than all the other blogs put together. Today they come up with Krishnamurti saying exactly what I was trying to say yesterday:
What causes war – religious, political or economic? Obviously belief, either in nationalism, in an ideology, or in a particular dogma. If we had no belief but goodwill, love and consideration between us, then there would be no wars. But we are fed on beliefs, ideas and dogmas and therefore we breed discontent. The present crisis is of an exceptional nature and we as human beings must either pursue the path of constant conflict and continuous wars, which are the result of our everyday action, or else see the causes of war and turn our back upon them.
[...] if you as an individual belong to any of the organized religions, if you are greedy for power, if you are envious, you are bound to produce a society which will result in destruction.
Posted by Ashes77 at 3:50 PM
This is second in a series about the Art Renewal Center.
It seems that for most of the past century, there has been what is best described as a conspiracy, both tacit and willful, to malign and degrade the reputations and artwork produced during the Victorian era and its counterparts in Europe and America. This struggle for the re-appreciation of Traditional Realism continues to the present day.This is but one among many of the oddly paranoid statements that find so much room to bump into each other in the ARC. I can't say that I am not a big fan fan of conspiracy theories, but this one sounds like Republicans complaining about the liberal press. I don't know anyone who doesn't appreciate traditional realism. It is quite easy to appreciate. Likewise, it is quite easy to appreciate people working for a living, even when I was sipping lattes on one of the coasts in my Volvo.
What makes it so frustrating, and what made me want to understand this site and its mission, maybe even support them, is that I agree so totally that 19th century art is crucially, vitally important right now. Being able to draw bodies and perspectives and figures is crucial to re-awakening the ability to match the world with what we are making it. It is always going to be up to artists to provide one aspect of the near-mystical ability to think, physically, outside the body, and thus continue the terrific tradition we have of providing insight where it is thought that we have only words. It is thought that we have ideas expressed only as words, that our thinking itself is accessible only through verbal language.
And yet, that disaster of a century that we were all just barely lucky enough to live through has ended. And embracing all of its terrific and life-affirming achievements, we must realize that it was the construct of repeated and merciless conflicts that killed hundreds of millions, many of them innocent that set that century apart like no other before it. To create conflict anew, literally to make up conflict in the harshest terms, in the name of art, sounds to me an awful lot like religion. And like the religious, the ARC is intolerant to the extreme and hoping to push forward its agenda not by the soundness of its argument but by the overwhelming thoroughness and extensive reach of its public relations campaign.
There is no end of great art among the extensive archive, there is no end to the great uses to which it can be put; inspiration and like I am always advocating, thinking on paper. I frequently email color documents down to the print shop in my neighborhood so that I can have hard visual facts on the wall of my studio. Not art works, but working documents that help me to think, how does a curve turn a corner, how do the feet of a table rest on the ground, how do dogs look when they run through snow. Looking at them and realizing the intersection of lines and universe is the resolution of conflict. And that is the use of art against the conflict of not knowing.
When the conflict of not knowing is left un-attended then we have to invent an enemy. We have to gear up our PR team to attack where ever they can, and though I cannot draw dogs in the snow, I must attack people who don't understand why I should draw dogs in the snow this way (badly). One can pursue such an agenda through the end of the century, for indeed that is what they did. Rumsfeld's gearing up that the Soviets were mighty and "evil" even as the Soviet Union circled the drain made Ronald Reagan a hero for facing down a decrepit and imaginary evil.
Likewise, ARC, while missing the beauty and potential of their own subject matter, imagines itself opposed, armed with "draftsmanship" while rooting out honesty as thoroughly as does the mob of any MFA open critique. Yes, those MFA students need discipline and draftsmanship. They also need a thorough grounding in what the hell just happened, not since the 80s and the East Village, but since the 1880s or the 1780s. And that history is NOT being taught, not by Yale, not by ARC, not by all the blogs in my roll, except maybe the history blogs... and so here they are (just so i can feel like i am being a little constructive):
I am expecting a couple of good entries to this series over the next few days.
Posted by Ashes77 at 2:47 AM
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Highlowbetween hits a few strong nails right squarely on their little round heads:
Its so status quo at this point, quite conservative actually when you think about the last 60 years. The recent fucking rad, bad painting crop feels like a collection of hollow style mongers and quite honestly do little more for the world than provide hipster wallpaper for gallery hopping.Emphasis mine. I can't do an illustration with this post. Sorry. Too depressing. But I think the conservative angle doesn't get enough of a shake. A lot of this art is glaringly anti-intellectual, cynical about art and art's capacity, cynical about its audience, an insult to its own clients. It does sound a little like Leo Straus. Maybe these art intellectuals really believe the vanguard is somehow going to lead from afar at October Magazine, in secret, and they'll provide the masses with this stuff in the meantime.
Posted by Ashes77 at 6:15 PM
2 more nice replies on what Ross seems to be missing in his look back at the late 19th century. The first from Firedoglake on the SEIU victory in Miami. Miami ? The other is from, well, yes, from Lenin's Tomb with a great screed on WTF is going on in the US. Now I've got to go see how Mexico can handle Portugal.
And here's a great left vs right in Austria clip from the LA Times. I guess they agree over there:
Peter Pilz, a spokesman on security issues for the leftist Green Party, said of Bush's visit: "It is problematic to welcome as guest a politician who wages unconstitutional wars, uses falsified secret … reports as an excuse to do so, is willing to preemptively deploy nuclear weapons, who tolerates kidnappings, torture and illegal detention camps as a means of security policy."
Joerg Haider, former leader of the far-right Freedom Party, said in an interview with the moderately conservative newspaper Die Presse that Bush was turning the Middle East "into a witches' caldron."
"The summit will not change anything," said Haider, who is best-known for anti-Semitic comments and opposition to immigrants when his party was part of the government.
Posted by Ashes77 at 8:46 AM
This is first in a series about the Art Renewal Center.
Let's just say i feel a bit whipped. Having gotten through Fred Ross's diatribe, I can honestly say I probably agree with about 85% of what he writes. I encourage anyone who stops by here to read his philosophy closely. His assertion that the 20th century has been a disaster for the arts is probably a bit over-stated in that any honest look at the 20th century should show quite clearly that it was a disaster for lots of other things too. In fact, it was a disaster in just about any field that one looks, art education being just one obvious example.
Our influence and reach are growing daily, and our goal is to right the wrongs of 100 years of decadence, decay and decline in the fine arts of painting and sculpture.... to expose the hoax of modernism and the destructive of empty conceptual concept. [sic?]Well, I wish I could say "more power to him." It is a little difficult to criticize a shrieking advocate of "realism," when the view of realism, the definition of realism is so harpishly anachronistic. That is not to say that Ross's reading of history, particularly 20th century history is not at times brilliantly accurate.
I am always amazed at modernist critics like John Russell or Hilton Kramer of The New York Times. They will review museum shows of old masters such as Raphael,Caravaggio, Titian or da Vinci, refer to the exquisite drawing, the balance of composition, accuracy of perspective and modeling, subtlety of coloration, and then conveniently fail to notice over-sentimentalized subject matter or over-dramatized gestures. These same critics will then look at Bouguereau, Gérôme, Burne-Jones or Alma-Tadema and totally ignore all of the above-mentioned parameters and with a "double-think" right out of Orwell's 1984<, see nothing but the so-called sentimental subject matter.Hilton Kramer ? This cutting gives you a bit of the tone anyway. Now seriously, it is going to take me a few days to thoroughly digest what is going on over there. I will say that, as shrill as Ross's estimation of the 20th century is, I am interested in pursuing this because I think that any movement to get past the shittiest parts of the last 10 years do necessarily require a re-newed understanding of many parts of the late 19th century art-world. That is not to say I support a return to the "realism" that I am pretty sure Ross advocates. I do think a continued assault on the thinking that led to the kind of crap we are seeing is necessary, though absolutely not on conservative grounds. Ross's screeching misses the fact that much of the hysteria of early modernism against his "old order" was commited by working people against an entrenched aristocracy. It is like the conservative argument against Soviet paraphernalia that misses the vision and dreams of communists, both devout and merely sympathizing. A communist world is imaginable, many have of us, including anyone whose grandfather was in a labor union, have indirectly benefitted from communist activism.
I sincerely hope I never sound like this guy, though I think I am sometimes confused with someone who shares his views. What I am interested in doing here is filling in the gap between what he thinks and what the people I surround myself with think. As Ross says:
[...] if you are a Modern or Post-modern artist, every possible method of expressing these feelings and ideas has been removed. Story telling, drawing, illusion, perspective, modeling, and harmonious blending of these with color, tone and design are all forbidden to you. Nothing at all from the real world or even your dreams is permitted. But in the late 19th century it is increasingly being recognized that the greatest artists were not establishment old order supporters, but are more appropriately thought of as liberal activists, both for the advancement of our culture and the righting of societies wrongs.Now, I really have seen a lot of dejected, unhappy and angry MFA students in the United States, who realize bold-facedly that they are being scammed, that these programs really are set up to rob them, as university cash cows that offer NO real learning. If not to advocate for a return to "realism," at least these arguments could be made for a return to actually teaching, rather than merely pretending to teach.
And so at this early stage, I think my hat is 85% off to Ross. Read more tomorrow.
Image, William Bouguereau, The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. 1880, Oil on canvas, 121 5/8 x 83 3/8 inches (309 x 212 cm). Cathedral of La Rochelle, La Rochelle, France
Posted by Ashes77 at 12:00 AM
Monday, June 19, 2006
As one of those painters who really thinks a study of the 19th century is far more important and useful than studying the 20th, I 'm going to spend a couple of days milling about the Art Renewal Center with the intent of filing a report back. I am hoping someone else will too, and I'll post your conclusions here if you haven't got the space for it!! (You know who you'ze are !!)
ARC bill themselves as the largest museum on the internet !! And they do have a lot of really stunning looking art, also... a lot of weird regressive screeds about and against "modernism." A first glance at their site is a bit like walking into a Greek diner in Queens, you know the ones with the naked art noveau ladies pouring water and flowers and shit all over the crystal and the marble.... but gimmie a few days. This is one of my early attempts at upgrading the level of reader involvement and I thought it would be fun, possibly humorous, probably I might learn something.
Posted by Ashes77 at 9:50 PM
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Clearly the google/picasa servers are not quite up to speed yet. But at last I think my uploads are moving along. You can check here for the latest, as my hard drive begins to breathe a little easier, and hopefully more positive vibes enter into the blogos/cyber/your-sphere !!
Update: God, and i thought Flickr was difficult to navigate. I really think it is impossible at this stage to find anyone else using Picasaweb albums. If anyone else tries them, drop me a line.
Posted by Ashes77 at 8:13 PM
Friday, June 16, 2006
Inspired by Lighteningfield, which is, I think, a great way to remember the greater New York area if you have any reason to, I am teaming-up with a new entry into the online photojournal arena. I remember how, many years ago, I realized that Webshots had people all over the world uploading pictures for dorky, local geography and history reasons. You can still see fotos from my first trip to Mexico there. And that was great. All the gringos posted pictures of themselves drunk, but you could really get a good idea of other parts of the world, places that I will never go, like Minsk and Odessa on the old Webshots site. Maybe you still can, I never look at it anymore.
Since then obviously, most of that action has moved over to flicker, and I have toyed with them a little bit. A lot more going on at flicker for sure, things magazine covers this stuff with flair and often, like group projects Pareidola and subject specific albums such as Modernist Houses !! Things is an invaluable guide to what I think is an otherwise largely unbrowsable site.
But I have been most happy with google's super lite-weight Picasa software, excellent for online photo retouching purposes anyway. If you work with print or real graphic design, I'd say, steer clear. But with their new easy upload thing, I am hoping I can get more of my fotos up into the more stable environs of cyber-space, rather than here where the cats walk on my keyboard and every thing seems so ready to cash out forever. With that, I encourage you to check out my for now experimental venture into a Picasa webalbum here !! I think they are experiencing some server problems on the google side, and everything I've got says it is beta, but by the time you guys check in, I am hoping to have this album loaded and my harddrive breathing easy.
Posted by Ashes77 at 11:31 PM
I've been involved in one of these heavy but invigorating email exchanges that leave you feeling like you could do anything, and that you absolutely must stop doing certain things immediately.
if you want to know a really bad secret, that i am not at all proud of but whatever.... I avoid lots of new work in the "art world". Just flat out avoid it. Unless i hear recommendations from lots of people, i mostly just wait until work finds me. Why you ask? Just as i think there are keys to open the doors, i think bad work closes them. I have left rooms faster than you can blink that have bad paintings in them. I feel like i am corrupting myself to look at them.... I couldn't agree more, and it is with the same sentiment that I delete blogs from the blog roll. Suppose I was a devout Catholic and I kept being invited to parties at the local porn shop ? I think there is a better example... and for that I will turn to Berman's discussion of Bateson, again:
There is no such thing as a schizophrenic person. There is only a schizophrenic system. The mother in such a system is in the position of controlling the child's definitions of its own messages, and (deutero-) teaches it a reality based on a false discrimination of those messages. She also forbids the child to use the metacommunicative level, which is that level ordinarily used to correct our perception of messages, and without which such normal relationships become impossible.Now imagine all of your friends are in marketing and you're at the opening. The meta-message is "this is all such garbage but we have to go cause we want to make it as artists." But because so many of your friends went to Yale this meta-message is crushed in the NBC style of living and breathing where everything is possible with the right amount of marketing. Except of course, actual perception.
Actual perception invlves, as Berman discusses, both the perception of the message itself, and the perception of the context or meta-message. He uses examples such as the schizophrenic being approached by a waitress who offers him "anything you like." A normal person is able to distinguish that this message is limited to items on the menu.
Your gallery is offering rather a stale plate of slimey eggs my friends. More later. Happy weekend.
Posted by Ashes77 at 4:51 PM
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
JL at Modern Kicks has done 3 good posts on Peter Fuller's Aesthetics After Modernism here, here and here. And while I haven't read Fuller, the quotes that JL provides remind me of enough other things to believe that Fuller is writing on the edge of what many of us are working towards.
When my turn came to speak I tried to tell the assembled clerics about the ethical, aesthetic and spiritual bankruptcy of the institutions of contemporary art. I argued that it was up to the churches to rehabilitate the idea of the transcendent in art. It was not their task to condone the ubiquitous symptoms of anasthesia and spiritual bankruptcy which pass for art in the modern world. I don't think my words counted for much . . .There is not enough there to judge Fuller by, and I heartily disagree that Warhol is not one of the great spiritual artists of our time (as in the more complete quote linked), but the idea of a critic concerning himself with the transcendent in art certainly does have its appeal. That other Australian critic, Hughes, only ever swooned over Warhol's disaster series, though admittedly only for that series of works, as if, like in Capote, Warhol's creative brilliance was never as bright after that too close glimpse at mortality. But JL does a great job of presenting the Fuller stuff even with what I think are relevant reservations:
But to take this statement seriously, I see either the sort of impulse, found in precincts from John Cage's aesthetics to the quirkier sort of Marxist and psychoanalytic thought, of the union of life and art, [ . . . ] or a really bad idea for a possible economic future that looks horrible to democratic, republican eyes.That elipse is mine just to break the two sides of the remark and emphasize. I am not sure that I hold the same reservation, indeed, my democratic, republican eyes see development that has gone so overboard on insisting that a certain racial pedigree has an inalienable right to slave labor in the southern hemisphere and military culture in the northern, that a union of aesthetic production with industrial production seems outrightly, desperately necessary. The idea that we can have both seems grossly 19th century, hiding our Dickens in Malaysia.
And of course, much of the modernism that Fuller and so many others lament, was overtly concerned with the alienation that had resulted from our alienation from craft and making things how - making things also made us and made our thinking. The fact that it failed to ever fully rectify that split is what I think has become so obvious to those of us who look to thinkers like Fuller and certainly Bateson and Morris Berman.
And so, if we can accept our alienation, and understand painting as part of the thinking that happens at a distance from our bodies, as indeed, part of the focal point of the thoughts that happen at a distance from our corporal centers, then we are well on the road to understanding how the new physical universe could begin to look.
There is a reason that we find painting that looks like this and this repugnant, to pick just easy examples. The lines don't correspond with any understanding but only with the separated sort of industrial thing we got from modernism and from the direct and crude manipulations of advertising. Learning about the correspondence, the non-differentiated and possibly transcendent world requires that we learn about how our physical bodies (intelligences) match up with that outside world and coalesce with it, forming complex but meaningful metaphors. The person schooled in the metaphorical universe does not even see advertising. Indeed that sort of seeing is like listening to a loud-mouth all day, eventually you don't even tell them to shut up.
Posted by Ashes77 at 11:06 AM
Monday, June 12, 2006
In Mexico, like perhaps most other developed countries, there is a an established art industry that uses its expertise to further the sales, marketing and development of the art market. Like in other places, the art industry folks are steeped in lingo and make frequent trips to New York and Miami where they presumably learn something more about sales and marketing and which they frequently assume somehow makes them knowledgeable also about art.
Also in Mexico, as I assume there is in other places, there is a strong willed, sophisticated and intelligent population of people who strive to have their lives enriched and their intellects challenged. People who are humble, and believe that there is a lot of complicated information about art that they don't understand, and yet who insist on beauty and vibrancy in their lives. As a Latin country, of course, Mexico inherited a strong sense of beauty from the 12th century and the first heresy period before the Inquisition. They decorate everything, and the most brutish construction worker understands the need and the impulse to make even a signpost or a mail-box into something beautiful, not at the direction of a corporate designer, but at the direction of the person who wants a mail-box or a sign-post.
I am wondering if other painters have this experience of talking to people on the street, or clients who insist that they want good art but can't find it in galleries, and wouldn't pay for it there anyway, but who can talk intelligently about painting and art history. These are people who put money that would just as well go to entertainment or frivolity but who instead put it toward paintings and artwork and who love to talk about such things. It makes me wonder why these galleries don't go after a public that is a few steps down from the market they seem to cater toward but who are probably even more devoted to art.
I've often thought and written about pretense in the art world, and I still don't outrightly condemn it. A decent painting on the wall of a hovel makes for a smart looking hovel. But an ugly painting on the wall of a mansion (or a loft) makes for a.. well, you know.
Posted by Ashes77 at 11:51 AM
Friday, June 09, 2006
One of the things that is most difficult to discuss with non-artists is the nature of painting. Unlike linguistic or rational thinking, painting does not allow one to separate out ones emotions, ones prejudices and ones doubts. If those things are present they will make themselves evident in the work being done, and they will need to be dealt with realistically, even confrontationally. If they are not then the painting will be not only imperfect, but also will foist the negativity (of repressed emotion, prejudice and doubt) onto the person witnessing it.
This is one reason that painters consider what they do as relevant, even supremely relevant to the current atmosphere, which is not only anti-art, but anti-emotional, highly prejudiced and filled with doubt. Painters try to experience these things in earnest and without judgement so that not only inform the work, but such that they no longer hinder the artist. Most of the painters I know consider their emotions a part of their intelligence and try to allow this kind of intelligence to be used and expressed physically during the creative act. We see this early on as the sort of lashing out emotionally that we associate with various kinds of expressionism, but the mature artist more likely experiences emotion as a profound sadness, or melancholy, or even as the hurt that precedes most of the world's anger. Indeed, a very wise teacher once told me that all anger is preceded by hurt which, left un-experienced, becomes anger.
There are other ways in which we might understand painting as a way of thinking but I will leave it there for now.
I found the cool pic via BibliOdyssey.
Posted by Ashes77 at 12:49 AM
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Sharing Hilowbetween's alarm about the nutters on the right, it is with great pleasure that I present a few clippings from one of my favorite books. I think that too little is said of the political content of one the great publishing phenomenons of our era, but then perhaps I am wrong. I just would probably never read that when I am still relishing the books themselves. And while I am never quite sure where the great JK Rowling political sympathies lie, my hat is off to her for presenting this kind of complicated and devious politcal maneuvering to literally zillions of kids and (not-such kids - like me !) This is all from chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
ʹWell, the main thing is to try and convince as many people as possible that You‐Know‐Who really has returned, to put them on their guard,ʹ said Bill. ʹItʹs proving tricky, though.ʹThis is all in a discussion of where Voldemort has been and what troubles face the Order. When I read this, I think of infallible Mr. Rumsfeld and Karl Rove steadfastly refusing to initiate any sort of realistic look at Islamic terrorism or fundamentalism. This is followed by:
ʹBecause of the Ministryʹs attitude,ʹ said Tonks. ʹYou saw Cornelius Fudge after You‐Know‐Who came back, Harry. Well, he hasnʹt shifted his position at all. Heʹs absolutely refusing to believe itʹs happened.ʹ
ʹBut why?ʹ said Harry desperately. Whyʹs he being so stupid? If Dumbledore ‐ʹThat's the problem with people who are blinded by the paranoia that comes with feeling full entitled superiority, superiority that comes from racial and religious dogma. They believe that everyone wants what they've got, even when they have very little.
ʹAh, well, youʹve put your finger on the problem,ʹ said Mr Weasley with a wry smile. ʹDumbledore.ʹ
ʹFudge is frightened of him, you see,ʹ said Tonks sadly.
ʹFrightened of Dumbledore?ʹ said Harry incredulously.
Frightened of what heʹs up to,ʹ said Mr Weasley. ʹ s plotting to overthrow him. He thinks Dumbledore wants to be Minister for Magic.ʹ
But Dumbledore doesnʹt want ‐ʹ
Of course he doesnʹt,ʹ said Mr Weasley. ʹHeʹs never wanted the Minister even though a lot of people wanted him to take it when Millicent Bagnold retired. Fudge came to power instead, but
heʹs never quite forgotten how much popular support Dumbledore had, even though Dumbledore never applied for the job.ʹ
accepting that Voldemortʹs back would mean trouble like the Ministry hasnʹt had to cope with for nearly fourteen years,ʹ said Sirius bitterly. ʹFudge just canʹt bring himself to face it. Itʹs so much more comfortable to convince himself Dumbledoreʹs lying to destabilise him.ʹAccepting that politics and democracy are tough games to play would mean dealing with world issues that the business community has not had to face since the end of World War 2 and the McCarthy period. Right now, the nutters of the right wing are playing in the shadow of a monstrous system that they created, all the while pretending to be so morally up-standing. They've put murderers and criminals into the highest offices of the land and where is it gonna get them ? You think that one of them would share a cell with Bill Frist or Dennis Hastert ? Would Ralph Reed ? It is so much more comfortable to convince themselves that the world is against them and hopefully it is all going to end soon.
Voldemort doesnʹt march up to peopleʹs houses and bang on their front doors, Harry,ʹ said Sirius. ʹHe tricks, jinxes and blackmails them. Heʹs well‐practised at operating in secret. In any case, gathering followers is only one thing he's interested in. Heʹs got other plans too, plans he can put into operation very quietly indeed, and heʹs concentrating on those for the moment.It's probably widely thought that Voldemort somehow represents Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaeda and presumably then everyone against them is part of the 'wizarding community.' But the more interesting side of the politics of the later Harry Potter books is in the mixed and disingenious meanderings of the Ministry of Magic itself. By constantly worrying about his own position in power, the minister of magic leaves himself open to manipulations by the very people closest to Voldemort/Bin Laden. Sound like that UAE ports deal to you ? Who is supposed to read this stuff ? 14 year olds ? I can't imagine that anyone much younger than that really appreciates the nuances of political intrigue.
Whatʹs he after apart from followers?
He thought he saw Sirius and Lupin exchange the most fleeting of looks before Sirius answered.
Stuff he can only get by stealth.ʹ
Part of the reason I am posting this is in response to Highlowbetweens well placed concern, but I think the 14 million pumped-up number provided by the publishers of that Rapture book series are right to worry about whether Harry Potter is corrupting their kids. Those kids might just see what a bunch of Racial Purist Death Eaters their freak parents really are.
Posted by Ashes77 at 11:44 PM
Arthur C. Brooks has an interesting post over at CBS News. It is basically an essay on some sort of wig-wag surveys that allow people to rate other people’s political views on a scale of zero to 100. Apparently there is a lot of intolerance on the left. Brooks writes:
But if and when liberal political power returns in
I couldn’t agree more that tolerance is a great virtue. Let’s not forget where, at this moment, it is most conspicuously absent.
But Mr. Brooks, maybe we should remember too what the oh-so-tolerant Right is tolerating:
- Excuses for Torture
- Disingenious stories that were designed to deceive the public to go along with the full-scale and totally illegal invasion and occupation of another country.
- Excuses for the ignoring of warnings that should have prevented a huge terrorist attack
- Scapegoating immigrants and gays
- Excuses for an incompetent defense department and secretary
- Excuses for 2 wild wingnut attorney’s general dedicated far more to politcal attack than to respect for the constitution
- Excuses for setting up concentration and torture camps around the world
Image is the November 5 NY Times ad placed by Partnership for a Secure America.
Posted by Ashes77 at 11:03 PM