Friday, October 05, 2007

A few thoughts before our flight

Warning: This one rambles (might be the back pain I've got...might be the pills). I'm not even sure it's not essentially contradictory. Ignore it and comment on what you want to if that's your preference. I'll be in London next week, and regular blogging will resume on the 16th (I might be able to squeeze in a post from the UK but can't promise at this point).

I've been doing a lot of thinking about how much art there is to see, how some folks feel it's not a matter of too much but just knowing how to find what's worth seeing, and all around that, like the elephant in the room, the crescendoing clamor of those who feel art as we once knew it is lost. Defining where we are might be somewhat more complicated than even that though. In an article by Walter Darby Bannard that Franklin pointed to on his blog and that is titled "Artbroken: What Art Is and How We Stopped Making It," the author wrote:

Art is condensed life. The artist works his materials against immediate circumstances and applies what he has in his head against what he has already done, reaching deep down to the extraordinary harmonic integrity of life itself to fashion something that is narrow, safe and permanent, and which deliberately circumvents transitory utility in order to create a dynamic equivalent of life itself. Art comes from a place that is way deeper than words and ideas and things. It goes out to the same deep place in the viewer. The work itself is the point of contact, the spark that jumps between the poles. It yields a special kind of recognition and pleasure, but it does not submit to rational explication.
Anyone who knows me understands full well I don't subscribe to the notion that we've stopped making art. We've gone rounds and rounds here about what's shown in galleries and museums in what boils down to a question of whether what defines good art is form or concept, which is often still the same old debate between representation and abstraction in new clothing, and blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum. But I do like Mr. Bannard's notion that art is "condensed life" (I think some folks abuse his notion that "art does not submit to rational explication" to avoid facing what's intellectually lacking in certain works, but...again...we've been all over that before.), and I think the condensed life notion might be a clue to why there's a certain malaise in certain quarters about the state of Art in general. Stick with me here...I promise to try to make a point in all this.

We live in a walk-thru/drive-thru era in which we'll pay folks to give it to us quickly or summarize things for us because we don't have time to read, hear, learn, see, experience everything we need or want to and still get to eat or sleep. "Give it to me in a nutshell." From Headline News to the fact that movie trailers are so important to selling a film that often they're much better than the film itself, we're a people who want it in capsule form first. "Just give me the elevator version right now."

But there's a critical difference in my mind between "condensed" and "summarized." When something is condensed it's more compact, but just as complex as the original. When something is summarized, the complexity gives way for the bite-sized basic premise. In the domain of viewing visual arts we may be confusing those two somewhat.

Permit me to make this personal, in hopes of expressing more clearly what I'm driving at here. We had an exhibition of paintings by Christopher Lowry Johnson a while back that are incredibly slow to see. The underlying structure of each canvas is worked out through a series of drawings with complex organic frameworks referencing scientific models, and they are then built up with painstaking care and consideration. Then end result, to my eye, is breathtakingly beautiful (if you give them the time to reveal themselves to you), but a number of viewers who passed through the gallery looked for a moment and then passed on. That happens.

One viewer though took the time to look and then wrote about the work in a way that simply delighted me. OK, so that viewer was none other than the connoisseur James Wagner, but here's what he wrote:
This is not a walk-thru show. Actually, this is probably true for most painting shows (at least those where the gallerist/curator has any creds at all), but this one is even more special. It seems quite muted at first, but given a little time, its rewards are great.[...]

I recently walked into the space at the end of a long afternoon of gallery visits and sat down on the bench in the middle [yes, a bench in a gallery - a bench, how extraordinary, and how helpful for both visitor and art!]. I stared at the large, very white-ish, canvas across from me, expecting to work with it only as a beautiful, complex abstraction. I had been immediately attracted to its drama and beauty as I walked in, before I knew anything or saw very much, but then something happened. As I sat looking at this canvas its impenetrable layers of oil opened a wonderful, very grand window on images both abstract and concrete, a world undetectable at first or even second glance.
But here's the rub. If we took that kind of time to view all the work on view in New York, let alone elsewhere, we'd never do anything else, and never even see all we set out to. And yet, if we don't, we stand no chance of experiencing the value of the work out there that is actually "condensed life" rather than merely a summary. Or is that truly the case?

We may simply be using that as an excuse, and in the process potentially closing ourselves off to understanding great work that isn't already part of our experience. This occurred to me while reading Holland Cotter's review this morning of the exhibition Eternal Ancestors: The Art of the Central African Reliquary:
Is she an infant, a wrestler, a goddess or what? Sunk in thought or entranced by sounds only she can hear? Her flawless skin is dark but glows. Her body is organic but abstract, with seeds for eyes, succulents for arms, and mushroomlike shoulders melting into breasts. In the perfect sleek globe of her head, her face is a scooped-out heart.

You’ll find this stunner, beaming with ambiguity, in “Eternal Ancestors: The Art of the Central African Reliquary” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was carved in the 19th century by a Fang artist in what is now Gabon. Sometimes referred to as the Black Venus, she resides in Paris today. And she’s just one of many magnetic images in a gorgeous, morally and spiritually vibrant show that is sure be one of the sleepers of the fall art season.

Why, with such attractions, is it a sleeper? Because exhibitions of African art almost always are. Even when museums give them the luxury treatment, as the Met does here, they remain on the fringes of our awareness, in a compartment labeled esoteric, as we make our beelines to Rembrandts and Rothkos. We are the sleepers, somnambulating past extraordinary things.
He's right. We rush to see Rembrandts (with "rush" being the key work here), but we don't have to take much time to benefit from them because we're fully prepared/equipped to appreciate them on a summary basis if our schedules don't permit a slower appreciation of them on a condensed life basis. With work that we'd need to invest much more time to feel we "get," though, we feel we're at such a disadvantage that we might as well not bother. Mr. Cotter notes, however, that perhaps we're not giving ourselves enough credit in that department:
This African show isn’t esoteric at all. Anyone familiar with Western religious art, particularly art before the modern era, will recognize its basic theme: life as a cosmic journey homeward, with parental spirits, embodied in materials and images, coddling, counseling and chiding us every step of the way.
My point is that perhaps there's plenty of great art about, but many folks are are not well suited to find it. For art to be good, it has to be rich (i.e., more than just a one liner or a one-liner that reveals something more complex than itself). Most of us would agree to that. With our hectic schedules, though, slowing down long enough to appreciate that complexity seems impossible, so we often reflexively don't even try. That may lead inadvertently to some viewers leaning toward less complex work. Work that they get quickly and perhaps, because they're not unaware of what's good, project complexity onto that isn't there. I'll include myself in that to avoid it sounding like I'm picking on any particular artist, collector, or gallery.

The knee-jerk solution to this would seem to be "slow down," something I've advocated before. But I might as well stand off to the side of a six-lane highway and whisper that to the motorists flying past me at 85 mph. Besides, what if by slowing down folks decided they no longer had time to venture as far West as our gallery is located ("Slow down, but start at the West Side Highway... :-).

If you're still reading, you're probably hoping for some sage advice on how to deal with this modern dilemma. Me too.

Have a great week if I can't check in on you.

Labels: art world, ramblings


Blogger Mark said...

What a wonderful dilemma to have!

10/05/2007 09:51:00 AM  
Anonymous ml said...

Work which is easily and successfully photographed tends to fare better than subtle work as well. It's as if art is now a form of advertising.

10/05/2007 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

My wife and I have addressed this issue by deciding that seeing any art well is the best we can do. Our favorite place to be on a Saturday night is in the Rembrandt gallery in the Met. We are almost always alone there, and can sit on the bench in the middle of the room and absorb the energy of centuries-old paint. It becomes quite meditative and enriching.

10/05/2007 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger prettylady said...

Yes indeedy. If one subscribes to the holographic, or holistic, view of reality, then every aspect of the whole may be contained in every part of it. Thus it can be as rewarding to study any one thing in depth as it is to try to take in everything there is, and certainly less stressful.

10/05/2007 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

There is certainly good work out there that you will miss if you dont have the time to "see" it.

Thats why you pay critics like Holland Cotter to tell you what to see.

The idea that you, as an individual, should be able to discern good art is the same ligic that lets children graduate school with heads full of fairytales about equality.

Not that I'm against populism or a "holographic" artworld (a great concept and hardly a one liner if you think about it - which I have, probably before anyone, or at least more brightly)

No, some art is inferior,a nd for every picasso there were twelve or ten also rans in Africa.

its the African's who you have to fear - they come at you in the night with spear points and chicken bone logic.

Cull the herd, I always say (I'm working on the article, Winkleman)

I am the amoeba in your nose.

10/05/2007 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Noah P. said...

David Byrne had a take on this same issue last week:

There's no doubt that the number of galleries and artists in Chelsea alone makes having a moving experience more challenging, but the flip side is that that many more people think it's a worthwhile experience to try for. Of course much of the interest is fueled by the opportunity (mirage or not) to make money without having a conventional job, but still, as someone who makes art and likes to look at art, I'm glad there's more of it to see.

There's an assumption the bottom can't hold and the whole thing will come crashing down--no doubt something will change, but I wonder what it all looks like in another 10 yrs. Is it possible that the gallery system as we know it will have morphed into something more like Hollywood? Or more like punk rock? Will more art be free? Will it get more exclusive again as the audience turns to other forms of social activity? Why do crowds and art go together anyhow?

Thanks for the great forum here.

10/05/2007 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Marc Snyder said...

Coming at this from the making stuff side as opposed to the looking at stuff side, I believe that when everything is really clicking, my artwork is much smarter than I am, as it is the result of all of the decisions I have made over time. That "condensation of life. . ." It's quite a wonderful thing to have something in front of you that you could not have imagined before you made it.

It requires some faith in the process, and an investment of time, to consider the idea that you start with as just the jumping off point for the artwork. When I was teaching, I tried to encourage my students to keep making choices at every step of the way. In printmaking, this is especially a danger for the student, that he/she might start with a "five-minute idea", and then spends hours and hours executing it, without adding much to the initial idea.

But anyway, when it all comes together, you have a single object that is a time capsule, that has absorbed all of the hours of decisions and ideas that went into its creation, and has benefited from all of the detours and dead-ends and reconsiderations that went into reaching that final point. That's how the object really gets charged up, in my view.

Over on my "Fiji Island Mermaid Press" blog I just put up a little animation I made from a number of the proofs of an etching that I'm working on, that kind of illustrates that process. . .

10/05/2007 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I was coming from the making stuff side, for the record. that's why makers pay for lookers. It called specialization, I believe. We are all special, says Jerry Saltz - who is one of the telethon community of lookers. - but not David Hickey's "lookey loos" although there are undoubtedly some of those amongst his readers.

There can be no private language where art is concerned. Is art a language?

yes, if art can be "slow" then in this motion metaphor, art "communicates" much as a glacier communicates - slowly and with a hint of pathos, though not without a certain insouciant dry humour.

What is the intent?

You ask, sitting on a park bench, thick as a brick. Or maybe you lean back, balls to the wall, and wonder who made who?

Which is to say one persons hero vs. one person's zero can be relative to what's on the juke-box.

There is water under the ocean.

10/05/2007 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Who's next, Zip? Maybe some fragile physical graffiti in 2112.

10/05/2007 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

As its editor, I'd like everyone to know that there's a lot of good stuff in the Walter Darby Bannard Archive and I thank Ed_ for the link. If you make art, you may find that WDB's writing is almost a cure for art writing in general. I particularly recommend this to start.

10/05/2007 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Darby Bannard said...

I am forever grateful to Franklin for getting my writing up on the web. It is not only personally gratifying but saves me constantly xeroxing copies to send to people who ask for them. Also I now find myself quoted all over the place, which is good for the ego & impresses my colleagues.

My saying "art is life" is really a tacit admission of failure to draw a verbally explicit parallel that will be compelling to the intelligent reader. I have been plugging away at this idea for long time and I "feel" the truth of it but it is just too damn hard to specify because it takes place "too deep" or something like that.

Also I probably lack the sociological, anthropological or psychological training to develop it. I have worked up another piece of writing out of that one but smart people have already torn it apart.

Well, one day, maybe.

10/05/2007 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

Espousing a holographic view, dear Zip, hardly obviates a 'culling of the herd' when so much of the herd is a stranger to the notion of 'depth.' Complexity does not necessarily equal depth; nor does obscurity, or political correctness. But engaging in the constant habit of deep exploration in one's own life makes one more able to recognize it in others.

10/05/2007 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

Oh, and I certainly recognize it in Mr. Bannard's writing. Thank you so very much, Mr. Bannard, and thank you Franklin for making it accessible!

10/05/2007 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

So odd, how whenever one speaks a simple and obvious truth, as Mr. Bannard did in that article Franklin just linked to, that so many people become confused and hostile. What is it about 'you can't control the future' that these people do not understand?

10/05/2007 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

who's hostile? Be specific.
Now that I've been turned on to DB, I'm putting down my Carlos Castenada and my Fritjof Kapra and I'm going to start quoting db, his bloviations go down easy.

Better marketing.

The recommended essay, besides making me exceedingly thirsty, reminded me of Elkins, and also myself. Probably because this sort of sophistry is the kind of populist smokescreen careers are made of.

Why ARE our pictures puzzles?

10/05/2007 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

prettylady, I've encountered that too. I was moved by Mr. Bannard's description of what art is, or can be at least.

10/05/2007 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Letter to the Editor (1968)

"Lemon is the color of lemons"

I love that.

"My ability to see is unobscured by material detritus."

I wrote that.

10/05/2007 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Gusky said...

In response to Edward's original post, the "condensed life" statement resonates strongly with me. I think we are able to condense more life into an art object now than in Rembrandt's time.

The problem is how to situate art in a world of fast media and viewers with short attention spans.

Can the object be structured so that it peels out an instant reward that lures the viewer further in? I'm reminded of video games now; a well-designed game isn't easy, but it does provide for a few early successes that suggest the potential for later, more rewarding success.

Now you have an object that is not only rewarding through successive experiences, but instructs the viewer in the ways of experiencing it and perhaps also art in general.

This thought suggests to me the potential in giving viewers an accessible starting point -- some sort of familiar touchstone whether of format or history or medium -- and then extending the piece outward from that starting point.

Your subsequent experiences of the piece will assemble themselves into a narrative of memory that is similar to when a new person is added in your life, hopefully a fairly interesting, entertaining and/or enlightening person.

Does any of that make sense?

10/05/2007 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

Your eyes are on top and right in front of your brain, but they don't work like a camera. Your brain interprets the signals coming along the optic nerve using expectations and assumptions based on its previous experience.

Just like you can immediately recognise a friend across a crowded room even though you've only glimpsed a bit of the back of their head and just like you don't have to do the maths when you hold out a hand to catch a ball, you can rely on your immediate first impression of visual art. We've evolved specifically to make snap visual judgements. Let your unconscious mind do all the work. Then you can properly decide what to look further at.

Of course this doesn't work when things aren't what they appear (as in one of the examples given), but a quick chat with whoever's holding the fort usually sorts that out.

10/05/2007 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

This thought suggests to me the potential in giving viewers an accessible starting point

Thats what titles are for, I thought.

This idea of giving the reader a clue or "gateway" or "door" is often used in esoteric mystery cults as well as gaming ("rabbit holes") and painting (I can;t recall who said it or if I read it but I remember hearing this idea repeated several times). The gateway into the "logic of the painting" with its integral self contained or at least merely a two part cypher to a message or experience.

But another idea is that of the Trojan horse, or the rock band with the christian message.

The gobstopper esthetic sounds nice, and of course you want a timed release on the bitter pill - so sugar coating is essential.

But is art medicine? Or is it more like a grain of sand that attracts matter until it gains gravity?

Or is art, like life, a continuum that receeds into infinity, the illusion of limit imposed by external forces - that of the history one believes in.

10/05/2007 06:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

It's tempting to read that paragraph and think, If art is condensed life, maybe we can make some condensed art and it will be good because of its density. It could work if your talent is like Bonnard's or Ensor's. But Hakuin drew simple circles that were wonderful. One of Darby's colleagues, likely the one that ripped apart his aforementioned new essay, said that all great art is an exception. There's no method for getting there except to work in accordance with your talents and interests. Even that won't guarantee to produce greatness, but at least you'll enjoy the trip.

10/05/2007 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Know who you are and you will find good art."

"Be aware and you will find good art."

"Good art needs great people, not a museum or temple."

I wrote that.

I don't mind all these people making millions, just don't tell me is good art.

10/05/2007 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Never trust anyone over thirty.

Bullshit baffles brains...

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump...

reaching deep down to the extraordinary harmonic integrity of life itself to fashion something...

narrow, safe and permanent, gasp!

...which deliberately circumvents transitory utility... order to create a dynamic equivalent of life itself.

Hoo Rah! Semper Fi! order to create a dynamic equivalent of life itself.

Darby got it, but swoon, life baffles brains.

Art, as the dynamic equivalent of life itself is not just about beauty, or quality or intellectual prowess, it cannot be condensed into an elixir to stir you out of your ennui. Life, by definition, is not static, stasis is life’s last cinder, but life’s metamorphic changes can illuminate our awareness of the illusory construct we breathe as reality. Awareness is reality, what we embrace as reality, in truth or delusion, we fix it as a point of reference.

Art, this "dynamic equivalent of life itself" can never be static, it will resist all definition with a vengeance, because life itself, will resist all definition. If we wish, we can try to resurrect some prior resonance we once called "art", but there is no assurance it will resonate uniquely today, and not just function as a mnemonic reminder of some others past victory.

Job description; the artist is responsible to their craft, honed skills which allow them to give a voice to this "dynamic equivalent of life itself." Pay attention, skill or the quest for goodness, is a trap, a diversion between the artist, and the "dynamic equivalent" which uses these tools to reveal a most fragile, temporal, aura of another’s existence within an object, an object the culture might use to define its own history.

The art, that some here tacitly argue for, is the equivalent of "missionary position sex," a neatly defined geometry between two consenting, copulating participants, yes pleasurable.

I, want an art like dirty sex, raw, pulsating, painful, pleasurable, perverse, dominating, beyond expectation, wet, timeless, and orgasmic to the point of unconsciousness. I want an art which makes my partner, my viewer, complicit in my life experience, jail me or canonize me but know I existed.

I pass. Take it zip.

PS: for Ed, "The art market death watch cheerleaders" will have to wait awhile.

10/05/2007 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

PS: for Ed, "The art market death watch cheerleaders" will have to wait awhile.

Ahhhhh...que tragique.

Whatever will they do with all those pom-poms?

Thanks for the good news before the fair, George!

10/06/2007 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Throughout the 90's I used to visit every art exhibits I could. In my city people would recognize me as the big amateur who've seen it all.

Since the new millenium I've changed drastically. Now I will select in advance the few exhibits I will visit, and take my time to visit them. I can make a long travel to see one single exhibit that I think will rock me.

How I decide has little to do with critics, because I rarely ever found a critic that shares my taste in art. I keep trace of artists I like, and of "galleries" (exhibit spots) I like. I read PR, than look at the invitation card work (or 1 or 2 pieces on the web), to see if that interests me. Sometimes I google a name to see what "they're about" by reading older statements, etc.

I tend to love places that document their exhibits well (or artists that does), because a photograph can help me remember and follow the thoughts I usually wrote on the spot in a notebook.
I don't expect these photographs to deliver the good, their utility to me is purely mnemonic.

Finally I have a preference for anything that sounds unusual, statement-wise, medium-wise, or exhibit-space wise. I do miss a lot, but I'm confident about my selections, and I'm happy to bitch when the show had a better description than what was offered, so I have a lot of fun keeping copies of strange PR.

I tend to evitate artists trying to show too much (like, a hundred films exhibit), unless they have a book, dvd, or catalog of some sort where I can come back and scrutinize the details. I just don't think you can expect that much from a viewer in a single exhibit and artists or curators should acknowledge that. If you insist on showing your 800 drawings than great but why not publish a book?

Historical museum exhibits are usually great when they are long but usually they come with a decent catalogue.

As far as art being condensed
life, isn't it the balineses that use the same word for life and art?


Cedric Caspesyan

PS: I would never bypass a good retro on african arts. More like I would bypass Rembrandt. Many Rembrandt are one-liners. ;-)

10/07/2007 03:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, I used to make the mistake of visiting a group exhibit because it had a strong curator's statement.

Now I realized that curators will put any work and try to fit them with their own theoretical dilemnas (that are often not shared by the artist), or they will use a lot of "filler art" because they simply don't have the means to deliver the good chunks.

So I try to know in advance what type of works are shown by the couple artists I like. Names aren't enough. If they are new names I read an excerpt of works descriptions.


Cedric Caspesyan

10/07/2007 03:57:00 AM  
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10/07/2007 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New York Magazine! A must read.

10/08/2007 02:11:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

some animals are more equal than others

10/08/2007 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

Ed good post to leave during your jump across the pond. I have thinking about it since I read it, it's one of those unintentional omni philosophical topics it has had me reviewing all my own thoughts on Art I ultimately agree with ED:

I don't subscribe to the notion that we've stopped making art. We've gone rounds and rounds here about what's shown in galleries and museums in what boils down to a question of whether what defines good art is form or concept,

In all fairness to Walter Darby Bannard (WDB) because I read some of his articles and agree with some of his points, up to the point where he becomes judgmental, as an artist and art lover to have someone discount the actions of myself and many friends, is absurd however I would say an article titled "Viewerbroken: What Art Is and How We Stopped Seeing It" would better explain the current state of the union
I'll explain and start with a quote from WDB from a 1972 article The War Against the Good in Art

if the long-predicted death of painting and sculpture ever comes, it will be because the serious tough-minded artist has abandoned them, and for no other reason. Materials are only vehicles, inspiration is deeply human and ever persistent. It will always come up in the "wrong" place, and it will always be resisted and misunderstood. Great art, new or old, will not compromise, but it is always there, waiting for us to come to it. It is the flower of our civilization and, ultimately, its salvation.

I have to agree with that, artist being such a stubborn bunch and all, especially painters who insist on painting even though painting has been declared dead every decade or so in three centuries and two millenniums, whatever drives artists is no doubt primordial, it comes from the realm of the subconscience, it is the voice of our reptilian brain, it is our eternal existence that untouchable speck of our dark places unchanged by time. Let's just call it the Joyful Rise of our Lizzard. apparentley what motivated George's comment and a bit of insight into what gives his Lizzard a Joyful Rise.

WDB hit's a homerun in his first statement of Artbroken: What Art Is and How We Stopped Making It

The theme of this conference is SHIFT, CONNECT and EVOLVE. These, so it is written, are meant to be "ways to be relevant" in the face of oncoming change.

What do they mean? Are they choices? I am guessing that SHIFT means "get out of the way", CONNECT means "surrender and get on board", and EVOLVE means "work up some sneaky way to do what you know is best in the first place."

Evolve that's exactly what artist have been doing since the beginning, basically finding new and relevant ways to communicate the same ideas.
call it civilization, call it enlightenment, call it humanity, call it spirituality, whatever gets your chakras spinning, and obviously it would take something different for every one.
Now let me get back to ViewerBroken, everyone who sounds the battle cry Thaere's no "good art" at some point must have looked at something and thought that's "good art", and at some point probably looked at the same thing and thought "I can't believe I thought that was "good". Why is this?
most would answer" my aesthetic eye has matured, or I have been better educated.
so let's jump to the "How We Stopped Making It" half of WDB

But the stark, simple, unassuming old-fashioned utilitarian character of most traditional foundations works against them in the academic postmodernist marketplace because they cannot compete with the intimidating jargon, blustering self-importance and beguiling mystique of the theories and so called "issues" that are thrown, like so much trash, onto the path that art must take.

I propose here in lay the confusion and limitation, thinking art to be something that is shown in a gallery in Chelsea, written up in the New York Times, and is sprawled on the pages of magazines, where evidently the glossier the page the "better" the art. In fact the art is the viewers reaction to it, there's a concept known as primordial sounds, tones that when heard stimulate the brain and can induce a relaxed yet alert state of mind, (mantras even when thought might do this wanna try just read "Om Mani Padme Hum" three times)certain visual triggers have the same effect, these involuntary reaction, such as the fight or flight reaction when threatened, or sexual arousal, these are chemical stimulations of the brain, different chemical, different reaction, cortisol, serotonin, endorphines, the Times had an article about a reflective reality device, maybe last year, that by flashing light at 12 pulses per second could induce a trans, (anyone remember the Pokemon cartoon incident`, and possibly Zip's old avatar) there is a lot more science about it on the web.
then there's near overload, where you can't quite take in all the information at once and experience fear and beauty at the same time, what we call Sublime, Bill Beckley describes the difference between beauty and sublime by saying, you can put a frame around beauty, (it's right there in front of you like a flower is) The Sublime surrounds you, (if you are watching an approaching storm at sunset and the waves are violent the sky is big then suddenly lightning strikes off to the right and startled you have to turn your head to see it) unfortunately once you start to understand what is going on you don't have the same effect and the more you see and understand, the harder it is to have the same experience, anyone remember the first time they drank? probably one beer and you were hammered, how many beers does it take you now? See the point.

Now I know that I will eventually see something that blows me away and I don't expect to see it more than once or twice a year, I can appreciate a lot along the way, even call a lot crap, but it will happen.

Now yes it does have more to do than just some involuntary reaction, there is a moment of enlightenment a "I never looked at it that way, and it's so obvious, I'm an Idiot for not seeing it" or let's just call it the AH HA! moment. Of course we could never know, until we know, what that is, we can only know that will be.

As for all the art is dead declarations, and a lot of what WDB writes about, trying to prove it is or isn't, I want to bring up "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" being it was referenced and because it is a very relevant book about the reaction to, and alienation of post modernism, for those who haven't read it the relevant point is that the narrator is taking a motorcycle ride cross country with his nine year old son at a time after suffering amnesia from shock treatment because he was having a nervous breakdown while working on a PHD dissertation on a philosophy proving Quality exists. The road to prove art lives is a similar path.

Let me leave you with a transcript of Joseph Campbell from "The Power of Myth: Masks of Eternity" where he describes a conversation he had in a locker room with a priest

Priest: Mr. Campbell do you believe in a personal god?

Joseph Campbell: No father.

Priest: Well I suppose there is no way to prove by logic the existence of a personal god.

Joseph Campbell: If there were father, what would be the value of faith?

10/09/2007 10:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Karl Zipser said...


Your views on art and sex inspired me to interview a porn CEO on the topic. I expected she would try to sell the idea that porn is artistic, but she was quite frank in saying it's for pure profit -- art is too risky.

10/10/2007 02:58:00 AM  
Anonymous brenda said...

I think part of the problem is that the viewer is told too much by gallerists and artists with regard to how they should view the work, what it means, what the "concept" is and why the rectangle in fron of them isn't just a traditional figure painting or abstraction, etc. Too many people rely on being spoon-fed explanations and gallerist spend a lot of time making a case for something that actually isn't in the work. I happen to love looking at paintings for as long as I feel the need to, but then, I don't go to every show.I also don't want to know about things that are so far outside of what the painting is actually delivering. It should speak for itself and speak loudly--no matter how quiet it is.

10/11/2007 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

come to daddy

10/11/2007 04:01:00 PM  
Anonymous meme_watch said...

"suggesting something about the burden of art history on growth in the present."

10/12/2007 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger painterdog said...

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10/13/2007 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger painterdog said...

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10/13/2007 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger painterdog said...

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10/13/2007 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger painterdog said...

Cedric Caspesyan

PS: I would never bypass a good retro on african arts. More like I would bypass Rembrandt. Many Rembrandt are one-liners. ;-)

Maybe you just can't 'see' Rembrandt.

What kind of statement is that anyway, 'many Rembrandt's are one-liners'.

This statement says more about your perception of painting and maybe the lack of it, not Rembrandt.

10/13/2007 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

fuck the truman show

10/13/2007 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Following up on my comment from a couple of days ago.

Keith Tyson's sculptural installation "Large Field Array" at Pace Gallery is what I was talking about, not sex. This is, hands down, one of the best exhibitions by a young artist I have ever seen.

Don't miss it, take a friend it will be more fun.

10/14/2007 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

i find the price tag on large field array problematic.

10/15/2007 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger nordend said...

The Fang statue you see in “Eternal Ancestors: The Art of the Central African Reliquary” was the top of a container made to keep the bones ans skull of the deceized. The carving at the top was made so that you could remember the death, and they where usually put all together in a shrine.

So when you look at them who is the "sleeper" ?

David Norden

10/16/2007 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

I come back to this months later:

>>What kind of statement is that >>anyway, 'many Rembrandt's are >>one-liners'. This statement says >>more about your perception of >>painting and maybe the lack of >>it, not Rembrandt.

This says about my perception of Rembrandt, not of painting. I can look at a painting by Ackermann and receive much more intellectual and aesthetic stimulation than a Rembrandt portrait. Looking at 50 Rembrandt portraits, they all convey the same project: they were all painted at the light of a candle. People insist that they are the most humane of portraits,
or almost inhabited by their spirits. But nobody knew these people in person, so they must be talking of something else. Facial mimics, body imperfections, and of course the glimpse of light in the darkness. Everybody is larger than life under a candle. I'm not saying Rembrandt isn't a terrific master, I'm just saying that I'm bored, the same way I'd be bored if I had been a subject of these paintings and my ghost would now travel the museums to hear "oh..see the emotions in the eyes of that man, Cedric... Is he about to cry?...Do you see how his forehead looks like an orb of illumination? Is it about to burst?". I way... I'm not a fan of Chuck Close either. Technique doesn't suffice me, and I generally think of portraits as lies.


Cedric Caspesyan

12/06/2007 05:30:00 AM  

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