Thursday, January 31, 2008

Damn the Renaissance! Open Thread

This won't be a stream so much as a glutted rusty drainage pipe of consciousness, and I'm sure there's some standard text out there in academia that I've missed that covers/dismisses all this (probably by some Australian), but I'll ask that you humor me as I wind my way through the barrage of thoughts and questions prompted by the sight of an earring on the sidewalk recently. I won't call it an epiphany so much as a suspicion, but my train wreck of thought went more or less like this:

I spied this humble hoop of small brown stones on the street the other day. Normally the kid in me delights in finding shiny objects in my path, but this one provoked a shrug and "ehh" until it dawned on me that a member of my family would probably adore that style of jewelry. I could hear her say "How beautiful!" in response to me, er, re-gifting it to her. (Settle down: I left it where it lay.)

But it did make me wonder why this woman whose favorite painter is renown for his luminescent snow-capped cottages could appreciate the beauty of something as abstract as the chunky earth-tone stones in an asymmetrical grouping. This woman who I know to sneer at Abstract Expressionism and other such achievements when on canvas, actually has a rather highly refined appreciation for abstraction in jewelry. And she's not alone, I know. This media bias is widespread.

I wondered: how do we not celebrate what's assumed to be a highbrow appreciation in some media when it's revealed via other media? And more than that
, where did this come from, this abstraction appreciation? And why on earth doesn't it extend to paintings?

My first suspicion was training. Despite great advances in moving away from this real-o-centrism over the past century or so, Westerners have been trained to expect representation in painting and that's that, as they say where I come from. But it seems silly in light of the fact that 1) appreciation of beauty has almost assuredly always included a highly developed appreciation for abstraction (as jewelry and patterning stretching back millennia suggest)--indeed, when we take in the dramatic gradations of a sunset or stare up from our blanket on the lawn through the jumble of leaves of the tree we're picnicking under and sigh "ahh, how beautiful" it's not the representational qualities of what we're seeing that pleases us--and 2) it's totally illogical to assign expectations of this sort to certain media without being consistent about it (i.e., jewelry can be both abstract and representational and still please our sense of how things should be, but when it comes to painting and even sculpture we [Westerners] are still highly resistant to seeing it that way). In short, it's human nature to appreciate abstraction in general, but we fight it when it comes to "fine art."

But how did it get to this point, this artificial division of expectation? I blame the Renaissance. Specifically, I blame Giotto and subsequently that myopic and meddlesome Piero della Francesca. They and their respective contemporaries launched the accelerated race toward realism for its own sake that still plagues us today--Giotto somewhat inadvertently, but della Francesca with an arrogance and recklessness akin to that displayed by the scientists on the Manhattan Project. By setting in motion the successive "achievements" that would send young artists scrambling to out-realist their predecessors, they introduced a dehumanizing virus of sorts into their disciplines, one that paralyzed a portion of how we truly see and appreciate what's around us. Lord help the hapless young Florentine foolish enough to suggest that perfect perspective and rigid rules of rendering were antithetical to true perception. From that point of Roman machismo up through the dawn of Modernism, there were, of course, those who saw the truth and sculpted or painted it, but they constantly risked scorn or misunderstanding in do so. And so here we are...artificially divided. Of course that is changing. More and more Westerners appreciate abstraction in painting all the time, but...

OK, so I knew I'd run out of time before finishing this, which I have. I promise to pick it up later, but feel free to jump in and correction my misunderstandings or faulty conclusions here....

Labels: art appreciation, open thread


Blogger My favorite things said...

Edward -

If you keep mining the thread of "realism" you'll find it goes all the way down to the Greeks. They had an early version of perspective (at least if we assume the Romans learned it from them via evidence of surviving fescoes) and of course figurative sculpture. What about that amazing monumental bronze figure at the Met? If that's not realism, what is?

1/31/2008 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Ethan said...

Hmm... I'd suspect it's a tension between formal & conceptual appreciation. That when we look at jewelry there's no pressure to appreciate it for anything other than its formal elements.

But with fine art, there's a foggy background of concept, intention, & art historical background... and a suspicion that's all just B.S. intended to fool the viewer into thinking an artwork is iimportant.

In the absence of that authoratative importance, I think people are more prepared to accept abstract art that is pretty... many of the decorative art galleries that specialize in more traditional, representative art include a few abstract pieces in stock (this gallery, for example).

1/31/2008 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

For all their focus on thinner thighs and better orgasms, women's magazines show a lot of fashion and jewelry in fairly sophisticated way. They may not talk about a ring of brown stones in formal terms, but they certainly do in fashion terms: size, shape, texture, color, how it works with the shape of a face or the color of a dress. They show it and others like it. In this context readers are free to look and compare what they see on the pages, and then look and compare some more when they go into Macy's or Bergdorf's or a little boutique.

Some years ago, Yves St. Laurent took a Mondrian painting and turned it into a dress. "Color blocking" was suddenly in. I'll bet some folks were introduced to abstraction this way.

So it's all about context.

1/31/2008 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger John Hovig said...

Good observations from Ethan and Joanne. People believe they need to see something in art, whereas they accept jewelry as a decoration and allow it for its own sake. Maybe we need to start saying art is a type of jewelry.

I once saw a man with his 5-year-old daughter at a museum. She was bouncing joyfully between the enormous canvases: Hoffman, Scully, Mitchell, Twombly, Frankenthaler, etc. He saw my great interest in the works and asked me something like, "what do you see?" He obviously quite sceptical about the whole enterprise. I assured him that it was all about shape and color. Pick your favorite shapes and colors and let it go at that.

His daughter had bounded to the next room after a few minutes, so we needed to cut the discussion short (nor was he a native English speaker to begin with), but I could see he was still reluctant to accept the works. (And I was looking forward to asking him what type of art he preferred, purely of curiosity). Maybe his daughter ended up turning his head, who knows.

We're pattern-recognition machines and problem-solvers, deep in our DNA. It may take some effort (or "training," if you like) to turn off these switches. The man gave every impression that he was very educated. But he was looking into the works, rather than at them.

1/31/2008 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous stinky said...

One irony to what you're discussing is the importance of Piero della Francesca to the development of modern formalist movements such as cubism. Geometry and perspective in the Renaissance introduced the idea of a set of abstract guidelines to the perception of space which evolved into the sophisticated formal language of abstraction. Giotto and Piero della Francesca are among the most "abstract" of the Renaissance artists.

The love of obsessive realistic detail is what I find really annoying, firstly because it is perceptually and cognitively inaccurate, secondly because it is so damn boring! Vermeer is the one who drives me nuts. I can't stand looking at his stuff anymore.

I think the fact is people will always enjoy making pictures in their heads out of globs of paint on a flat surface. We have to get used to it and learn how to playfully seduce and frustrate this natural tendency.

1/31/2008 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Henri said...

FANTASTIC! Edward thanks for the post! Finally someone discussing abstract painting. I like your populist argument, but abstraction and vision go far deeper, and if we really explore, abstraction can be a way OUT of the Postmodern sinkhole that painting is mired in. The problem is how we see, what technologies funnel our vision. Lens based programming and the digitization of practically everything has changed both representation and abstraction. It has also changed how we make and understand what we see. The simple pleasure of picture making aside - there is always more to vision than meets the eye.

1/31/2008 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say that abstract imagery has been assimilated into more middle class lifestyles than ever before. Being able to appreciate abstract art connotes having had a college education, a certain amount of worldliness. I think there is a correlation between how much higher education one has had and one's ability to appreciate non-representational art. People who reject abstraction and demand realism from art come in different flavors. Almost all people who like representational art are just fine with impressionist paintings (even though the impressionists' contemporaries were not). So long as the abstract qualities in the work are smoothly joined with the representational elements they are not bothered. The world of corporate logos consists of non-representational symbols mostly. I would say that our deep dedication to a certain symbolic order is where you will find the representational and abstract worlds joined at the hip. Unconsciously we can be just as moved by either realm of imagery.

1/31/2008 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Being able to appreciate abstract art connotes having had a college education, a certain amount of worldliness.

Actually, that assumption is at the heart of what I'm questioning. My family member has neither (college education or worldliness [lived most of her life in same small town]) and yet has an innate ability to appreciate abstraction when it's not packaged as "fine art."

1/31/2008 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Specifically, I blame Giotto and subsequently that myopic and meddlesome Piero della Francesca. They and their respective contemporaries launched the accelerated race toward realism for its own sake...

EW, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you're either joking or playing devil's advocate. Piero the realist? He's one of the best abstract painters of all time.

1/31/2008 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

help me see that David.

1/31/2008 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger ryan said...

i'd argue that the average person comes to expect a certain amount of abstract imagery in contemporary art, even if they don't appreciate the value of its presence. and while abstraction may be a turnoff to most people, are they really that much more passionate about realism per se, or do they just want to not have to interpret what they see?

ed, do you have a photo of the piece of jewelry?

1/31/2008 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say that jewelry and fine art aren't that different Ed. In the world of jewelry representational jewelry is generally considered low brow or gauche or poppish (the Faberge Eggs are the exception and the gold jewelry popularized by rap culture are the new norms). In art low brow is almost always representational. The Painter of Light you refer to, Norman Rockwell, street art, they are all pretty much representational.

1/31/2008 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

not of that piece, Ryan, but this is similar-ish, at least in degree of abstraction and providing an example of the appreciation that baffles me (i.e., if this were a painting she would reject it).

1/31/2008 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

I was immediately reminded of this painting by Paul Signac. I think the strangest thing about this abstraction/naturalism disconnect, is how consistently people allow themselves contradictions. How many people are great lovers of music (which has no relationship the natural world) but won’t even look at a painting seriously if they don’t think it’s “lifelike?”

And I note that you haven’t forgetting about Zeuxis, Apelles and Parrhasius. Some form of hyper-realism has been floating around for most of history. Though, afaik, these stories were only popularized in Italy, during the Renaissance. Does anyone know for sure? I don’t know the history of Pliny’s... history.

Wouldn’t it be great to come across some AbEx sculpture from antiquity?

1/31/2008 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger ryan said...

Thanks, Ed.

1/31/2008 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous sharon said...

Being able to appreciate abstract art connotes having had a college education, a certain amount of worldliness.

I'm not sure about that either, because you have a whole world of abstract artists coming from a craft-based practise who aren't necessarily college-educated or "wordly".

Not that your observation doesn't have some basis, but I feel anyone who goes beyond the need for art to be a picture of something and who appreciates art as something evocative and textural will be able to take the jump to appreciate abstraction. I know plenty of non-art world people who have a love for abstract art, simply based on its aesthetic alone. What they all have in common is the understanding that pictures of things are just that (not talking about the finer points here), and abstraction is a sort of next step in a relatively new direction. Really, in the face of art history, the last 100 years isn't that long.

Could it be that we live in a world that is so immersed in graphics and as someone else pointed out, logos; abstraction is becoming more and more a part of daily life?

1/31/2008 12:41:00 PM  
Anonymous bnon said...

I think for Ed's relative, an appreciation for beauty is easy enough in the case of an earring, but an appreciation for abstraction (and formalism in art) is not. Appreciating abstraction in painting indirectly requires the viewer to engage in a dialogue about the history of painting. Liking a bauble is a relatively simple gut thing.

1/31/2008 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

All painting is abstract, it's a matter of degree.

1/31/2008 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Piero the realist? He's one of the best abstract painters of all time.

help me see that David.

EW, I'm not going to try to make an argument for the second part of my statement, as it's totally subjective and therefore unsupportable. But as to the fact that he was an abstract painter, just ignore the subject matter and look at the arrangement of shapes, and the way the picture plane is divided up. Those are formal concerns, not representational ones. Plus, if you're looking at it as representation, what is the subject of this painting? The pseudo-Biblical scene going on way in the background? Were viewers supposed to be emotionally moved by the religious story? I'd argue that the supposed subject matter was simply what Piero had to deal with to work as an artist during this period, and that his real concerns were the formal ones.

PS - There seem to be two of us Davids in the house today. The one who linked to Signac is the other David.

1/31/2008 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

In art low brow is almost always representational. The Painter of Light you refer to, Norman Rockwell, street art, they are all pretty much representational.

I disagree. What most defines Rockwell and the Painter of Lite as lowbrow is that they are sentimentalists, not the fact that their work was representational.

I'd also argue that the response of EW's relative to jewelry is also more sentimental than aesthetic.

1/31/2008 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous stinky said...

I think Piero's detached approach to subject matter would be one point sited in texts on the early development of abstraction. [As opposed to the more ersatz narrative approach adopted by later painters such as Raphael and Correggio.] Then is a minimum of sentimentality to Piero, compared with other painters of the time. It has to be remembered he was a late comer to the "canon" of "great painters". A lot of the reason is that the rationalistic and oddly detached scenes seemed to speak to the mindset of the era that produced Nabakov or Beckett or Al Held.

As far as appreciating modern art goes, perhaps a connection with making it helps? And if abstraction has a hard time holding an audience try explaining conceptual art to the in laws!

1/31/2008 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry but I don't buy the argument that there is still a widespread prejudice towards abstraction. So much of our visual culture is mediated, fragmented, non-sensical, that I have a hard time believing that the majority of humans are still not comfortable with abstraction in any format or genre. No one would be shocked by an abstract art exhibit, and no one would feel uncomfortable wearing clothes with abstract patterns on them.

1/31/2008 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two observations:

Sol LeWitt greatly admired Piero, for the geometric nature of his compositions.

Norman Rockwell's sentimentalism was in large part dictated by the magazines he worked for. The Saturday Evening Post, in particular, was very conservative and Rockwell painted to fit their requirements.


1/31/2008 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Sorry but I don't buy the argument that there is still a widespread prejudice towards abstraction.

Probably depends on who you know.

Very recently, Komar and Melamid provided some insight into whether that's the case.

in 1993, Vitaly Komar & Alexander Melamid focused on our poll-driven society and faith in market research. The pair announced that they would discover what a true “people's art” should look like, then hired Marttila & Kiley, Inc., to conduct a survey in the U.S of preferences and taste in painting. Having studied the data and learned what Americans want, the artists introduced their own version of Paint by Numbers; they created America’s Most Wanted painting and America’s Least Wanted painting.

1/31/2008 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Painters, and especially Édouard Manet, who is an analytic painter, do not
share the masses' obsession with the subject: to them, the subject is only a
pretext to paint, whereas for the masses only the subject exists. "
- Emile Zola, 1867

or you can be an illustrator.

Choose wisely. I was cast out and thrown down into the chaos never to return until i can afford some cadmiums without sacrificing my taste for food and drink. Praise allah. in the name of wine and cheese we pray. Something about Maslow and money dictating taste.

1/31/2008 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

OK, so I guess 1993 isn't "Very recently, " in truth, but I don't know how much has changed in the past 15 years.

My evidence is anecdotal. Anyone have more substantial stats on whether there's widespread aversion to abstraction in painting?

1/31/2008 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Edward, I love a lot of abstract art, but I'd have to say that "America’s Least Wanted painting" is much worse than "America’s Most Wanted painting", even though they're both pretty bad. But that doesn't tell us much.

It would be kind of like doing a survey of America's Favorite Foods, then putting them all in a blender and eating (or drinking) the results. Whether you're a fan of high cuisine or Big Macs, I don't think the blend would satisfy anyone.

1/31/2008 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


I'm guessing, though, that America's "least" favorite painting was done as an abstraction in response to the answer to this survey question:

Which of the following is closest to your view?
* I prefer paintings that are realistic-looking. The more they resemble a photograph, the better.
* I prefer paintings that are different-looking. If they're realistic, I might as well be looking at a photograph.

suggesting to me that it's abstraction itself folks are less keen on. Again, this is hardly conclusion. I'd happily consider evidence that abstraction and representation are on equal footing in terms of appreciation by Westerners.

1/31/2008 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

done as an abstraction in response to the answer to this survey question:

Then I'd say Komar and Melamid are better representational painters than abstract ones. If one were to pick good examples for each answer, we'd see, I don't know, an early Chuck Close painting next to a Motherwell or something. Doing pathetic caricatures of each type of preference doesn't tell us much.

1/31/2008 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

A few years ago America 'loved' george bush.

Let's take a poll

America loves Kraft's macaroni and cheese

If you do it with painting, you'll get the same kind of answer.

It's a fashion thing

1/31/2008 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

fine, fine, Fine, FINE, FINE! {{{grinding teeth in caffiene-induced fury}}}

can anyone point to any EVIDENCE that abstraction is not less popular than representation in painting????? I'll willing to be wrong, but....

1/31/2008 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger George said...


I guess you could look at auction prices, the official record of how much something is liked. The highest prices realized for paintings in the last couple of years were split between the abstract and the representational: De Kooning, Pollock, J Johns, Klimt

1/31/2008 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

can anyone point to any EVIDENCE that abstraction is not less popular than representation in painting?

I assume that abstraction is less popular than representation in painting. But there are also a lot of people that like abstract painting.

If you took a poll to find out who America's favorite musical artist is, I'd be afraid to guess who that might be. Celine Dion? Some country singer? But I'd rather have a dedicated fan base like Radiohead's than a majority from some poll.

1/31/2008 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Jusdging by the art at airports, people prefer abstract art - but thats a high brow crowd - might I diret your attention away from the public and into the private realm where peopel prefer to be surrounded by more intimate, dare I say sentimental representations of domesticity?

People prefer to be comfortable. Its a weird thing I thin because for years the Penitente's inculcated a culture of repreased self loathing and denial.

I can dig that, but I'm not really a conoisseur - I'm more of a "smoke em if ya got em" kind of "catch as catch can" kind of guy.

The earing in this case represents an embarassment of riches, one that to my eye is better hung at the waist line than on the overloaded earlobe (if you have lobes, some don't, I do)

Body piercing is a weird idea to me - like why would you become a conoisseur? Seems like you might have issues - and that might lead to resolution or deferral - my vote is for deferral)

SO the extreme nesting instinct involved in domesticating the earlobe seems to me to be a celebration of what one has or alternately, a pathetic aspirational body-mod (the heavier the better!)

I notice when I go into trader Joes or WHole Foods (I am of that class though I can't usually afford the vaccuum sealed steaks) I dont see a l0ot of short brown people, but there do seem to be a lot of secular Jews (though I'm no expert).

Just saying when you go to an office building I bet you most the art you see and that people prefer is abstract. this is becasue it doesnt cloud the mind or eye with unecessary visions of gingerbread men leading us down and infinite regression of staggered hard coded yellow bricks under a red carpet of lies. Pay no attention to the man behind the strobe light.

1/31/2008 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous stinky said...

Abstraction seems to be accepted as a consensus form of "modern art" by most people now. [Interesting representational art, beyond bourgeois kitsch such as "the painter of light", is in no short supply either.] But I can't think of anything other than anecdotal evidence one way or the other as to abstraction's increasing or decreasing popularity. It seems to be better appreciated; but it was a little weird to notice at a recent exhibition of abex painting at the Whitney a placard describing the movement as "controversial". It wasn't clear if this was a PC reference to their macho-white-maleness or an anti-modern revisionist statement. Lucien Freud is at MOMA; perhaps that gives a clue to the trend in popular sentiment. I do think these things run in fashionable cycles... Currin and Peyton had their moment; I wouldn't be surprised to see younger artists react against this kind of figuration by re-exploring abstract art on a more serious formal level.

If you never have, you should check out Philip K. Dick's "Man In the High Castle". There's a whole bit about American abstraction developing in jewelry after the US has lost the war to the axis powers [it's an alternative history story]. The Japanese conquerers of California have a deep appreciation for this primitive native handicraft. Very wabisabi.

1/31/2008 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Giovanni said...

You might want to check out David Halle's great sociological book "Inside Culture: Art and Class in the American Home." Halle visited hundreds of homes in all different social classes, looked at their art, and analyzed the differences and similarities. While some things seemed predictable, such as no abstraction in working class homes, his interpretation was quite eye-opening: the differences are essentially on the surface. Upon speaking to the people about what the art meant to them, it turns out that their responses were surprisingly similar. According to Halle, most owners of abstract paintings insisted on looking at them as if they were landscapes, which happened to be the favorite subject among all classes. It's a very academic book, but well worth reading. Very different from the discourse we as artists, critics and dealers are used to (and comfortable with).

1/31/2008 05:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

By setting in motion the successive "achievements" that would send young artists scrambling to out-realist their predecessors, they introduced a dehumanizing virus of sorts into their disciplines, one that paralyzed a portion of how we truly see and appreciate what's around us.

This is one of my least favorite antitraditionalist saws. If you stand in front of a window with a view of a road going away from you, and trace the road on the window, you find that parellel lines recede towards a vanishing point at eye level. Perspective doesn't represent everything that's going on in the toroidal 3-space of vision, but it's far from being "antithetical to true perception." Compared to other contemporaneous systems, such as the axonometric perspective of the Chinese and the psychological perspective (things become larger as they increase in importance) of the Byzantines, orthogonal perspective is breathtaking in its verisimilitude. Furthermore, the impulse to achieve greater realism was the essence of the humanist impulse. To call it "dehumanizing" is a contradiction of history. I'm sorry to bring it up, but there's a tendency in both liberalism and postmodernism to regard all mechanical systems as oppressive. In fact, the mechanics of art are enabling. What's dehumanizing is damning whole areas of useful knowledge because they don't flatter ideological positions, such as the one that claims that art is primarily about ideas.

Piero know quite a lot about realism that he didn't use, because his main interest was geometry, not realism. He wrote a book on the Platonic solids. His work reflects that impulse towards geometric order, and they are designed, above all, giving them an abstract quality that realism pursued for its own sake wouldn't produce. This is especially apparent in his use of color in his multi-figure compositions. Colors in Piero repeat around the rectangle in an almost jazzy way, akin to their behavior in a good Mondrian.

1/31/2008 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger the reader said...

While perhaps not a very precise choice of words the "antithetical to perception" comment does hint at the abstraction of perception itself. The fact that physiology of the eye limits us to seeing certain light frequencies combined with the limits of forward facing binocular vision means that vision itself is an abstraction (this also applies to the other senses with their respective limits and filters). while this doesn't really help to answer the question of whether abstraction has reach a level of appreciation in the population at large, the relative and abstract nature of our perception is a constant source of inspiration for all sorts of artists.

1/31/2008 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Systems of representation, methods used for ordering a visual representation of the world are culturally determined. One method is not inherently ‘better’ or ‘truer’ than the other, they represent different ideas about the presentation of a symbolic [abstract] image.
Vanishing point perspectives can offer only a partial solution to a representation of the modern world. Much of what we see on a day to day basis is chaotically ordered, resembling medieval hierarchical ordering more than the tidy Renaissance solution. Why should contemporary painting be any different?

The readers point suggestion that perception is an abstraction is a good one. We don’t see the world holistically, as a ‘picture.’ The eye is not a camera, the retina is not evenly and continuously recording frame after frame as we waltz through life. The eye continuously compares the visual sensations [photon induced electrical charges] as they occur and constructs a "visual reality" which we call seeing. Much of what we see is interpreted ‘correctly’ by the brain in spite of the fact that the source stimulus does not always correspond. For example, compare what occurs when you turn to look out the window on a bright day, with the results you would get from a camera. Even with auto exposure, the camera ‘sees’ blue light outdoors…

Going back to Ed’s question, yes representational painting is more popular at the moment but this hasn’t always been the case. For the most part, I think the reason for this is that the viewer can make a symbolic connection easier with a representational image. Painting is painting, but ideas make it accessible.

1/31/2008 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

Ok, you want an argument that ordinary folk like abstract paintings? Go search for "art" at and see how many abstract paintings come up. Their selection seems to be divided between abstract paintings and paintings of flowers.

I would say there is a significant community out there that views artwork just like jewelry -- a decoration to match their couch and their wallpaper. Many of these people don't really mind abstract art at all. But the art industry has a vested interest in discouraging people from thinking about it this way. So some of them stop thinking about it altogether. Others demand representational art because it gives them some entry point to the content of the work.

I think you would have to blame the current art community for alienating people, not the Old Masters.

1/31/2008 08:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I notice when I go into trader Joes or WHole Foods (I am of that class though I can't usually afford the vaccuum sealed steaks) I dont see a l0ot of short brown people, but there do seem to be a lot of secular Jews (though I'm no expert)."

Did anyone else catch this? What gave away the secular Jews zip? I would love to hear about how you identified them.

1/31/2008 08:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say there is a significant community out there that views artwork just like jewelry -- a decoration to match their couch and their wallpaper.

Yes, it's important to identify your target market.


1/31/2008 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger cralbert said...

Thanks for the topic Ed,

For the most part, I think the reason for this is that the viewer can make a symbolic connection easier with a representational image. Painting is painting, but ideas make it accessible.

I agree. One example of that symbolic connection being made with an abstract image is the American flag (or a flag from anyone's nation.) Or, now that I'm thinking of it, how about quilts, to some extent. The Summer before last, as part of an exhibit of installations in storefront windows in Beacon, NY one of the artists raised a storm of controversy by creating an image of an American flag using transparant pink and green vinyl. As one of the project organizers, I faced a room of inconsolable pensioners angered by the distorted colors. Obviously, this was a situation loaded with notions of patriotism, nostalgia, comfort, and good godly livin', but I was struck by the fact that this local demographic, which generally speaking, would only respond to the most representational of painting, could suspend the reliance on object and vocalize such an affinity for formalist elements within an abstract image.

1/31/2008 10:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All good representational painting is first & foremost good abstract painting.

2/01/2008 12:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

...methods used for ordering a visual representation of the world are culturally determined.

This is the faulty premise from which one concludes that realism and perspective are dehumanizing, paralyzing, rigid, and macho. You can glean perspective from observation. Fortunately, some forward-thinking 15th C. Florentines with a fondness for Persian math decided to try to work with visual facts, and they came up with a representation that is as good in its way as Newtonian physics. (Gravity is also not culturally determined.) I don't care how modern your life is, the close edge of the table appears larger than the far edge, and drawing it that way does not make you less human or more chauvinist or whatever political piety is being entertained here.

How about the idea that conceptualist leanings interfere with the appreciation of Renaissance art? At least for that we have a datum.

2/01/2008 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

hey anonymous 1/31/2008 08:51:00 PM

glad you asked - what are the defining characteristics of secular Jews?

We all know that historicly, Jews, like many young people, were not allowed to own land, so their desire for whole grains, fresh fruit and wholesome goodness is ripe for the picking, so to speak.

Why? Because it is just not possible to maintain a sustained output from an affordable hydroponic farm in manhattan.

For many owning property is also out of the question - a sea of red tape and 0 credit, paired with sustenance jobs - a bargain made at the crossroads - before maps, but not before Sallie Maye. Let my people go. But where?

Outside in the country things get more abstract - dare I say twisted. A drive of four hours through rolling corn fields will derange the senses more than a hearty hit of l'absynthe, even the real stuff - its not exactly LSD, and neither is budweisre, though I like it fine.

So we "Jews" don't own land - that 's one characteristic.

Another is the idea that graven images are not the thing itself - and that we must "deconstruct" them in order to live with them - that they are a danger to our intellectual soul.

Again Jews had a prohibition against graven images, and this fact, while not giving one a hooked nose, per se, does make one an honorary mensch, or at least a card carrying iconoclast (not catholic).

Which is to say there are a lot of lapsed catholics in the art world.

Would anyone like some wine while I make my next point?

(Trader Joe's has an excellent wine selection for the discerning connoisseur of limited means.)

Trader Joe's is an import of West Coast culture - or more specifically what was embodied in the hyper-athletic health nut new age countercultural zeitgeist that peaked in the early nineties with a sort of decadent backlash - micro brews and intstitutionalized coffee houses (Marx and Engles rolled in their respective graves) and the continued success of the war on drugs.

I bring all this up because the esthetic of the earring in question seems indellibly linked to California in my mind. And the rise of Trader Joe's is the rise of a certain class - a "Jewish" class that knows what a false dichotomy is.

Meshuggeheh, isn't it?

2/01/2008 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

forget that whole graven image thing. I'm just projecting.

2/01/2008 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

i might also add that wearing one earing does not make you a pirate, not even if its gold and says pirate on it.

Unless they are real blood diamonds.

oh but that's what you meant.

Snap! Lets do coke!

2/01/2008 07:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps the admiration for representation, realism, and renaissance perspective comes from people who have tried to do it and were not very successful. Beginning art school mentality.

Earrings are decorative. People accept abstraction on bedspreads, but would like to be in awe of "skill" when it comes to displaying something as "art" on their walls.

2/01/2008 08:08:00 AM  
Anonymous stinky said...

One interesting theme in this thread is a quaintly dated class snobbery. "Those uneducated working class folk cannot appreciate the genius of abstraction." I think this is bull. Abstraction is hardly more elevated than other forms of art. Plenty of cutting edge representational work is out there right now. This is not meant as a dis of abstract art [much of which is great]; but hasn't that whole Hegelian myth of artistic progress toward abstraction finally retired to its long deserved grave? It seems so uptight and stuck in the past. We live in a pluralistic art world; no potentate or dictator can tell us what we should or shouldn't like. [Even Shah Clement Greenberg.] I tend to agree in a joking sort of way with the assertion that we still hold the renaissance, that putti besotted period, in over awe. Culturally we can look around a bit more for inspiration. Thats the essence of being modern. It is worth noting though that it was the socially minded realist artists [such as Courbet] who began this transition from blind adherence to academic models and the Greeks. Reread "The Painter of Modern Life" by Baudlaire to remember what the battle is really all about.

2/01/2008 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am astonished by the hubris of those of you acting as mouth pieces for the poor, and when I say poor I don't mean those people who have big college loan debt.

2/01/2008 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

For me, this question about abstraction and representation registers very specifically as a question about the success of John Currin and Lisa Yuskavage, an eagerness NOT among the "working class" but galleries, museums and collectors, not to mention budding painters, to embrace what someone else here referred to as "sentimentality," although in these cases not the dictate of any magazine, but the NEW YORK ART WORLD. Craig Owens so long ago wrote about Sandro Chia, and Neo-expressionism more generally, as having a contempt for painting. This was way back in the early '80s, Robert Ryman and Daniel Buren were often heralded as painting's continuous last stand in the face of such contempt.

This stand-off doesn't exist in the same way today as it did then, but I also don't think that an over-arching laissez-faire pluralism exists either, or Ed would not be driven to ask this question, as though there were something at stake.

So, we are no longer challenging painting's right to exist, but raising an age-old question, and it appears that we are taking sides on the issue of class relevance. To reduce this issue to one of class identification is But this is a deceitful, snotty view that overlooks the actual facts when, for example, the people we are talking about are David Zwirner and the Whitney?

Within the art critical world, how does one address this?

2/01/2008 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...


I like it when class types play art jokes on other class types. Makes it easy to spot the trouble makers in the barn yard and draw a bead on them.

Take Zwirner - he sometimes alternates between arch conceptualism (Thomas Ruff) and infantilized sentimentality (Marcel D'zama) for example.

Well I don't think Marcel D'zama is into institutional critique in the way Daniel Buren was back before he became a conceptual safety cone, but when you view Zwirner as a high brow brand, you can't help but look at his exhibition schedule as a sort of conceptual rebus (brand synergy for you marketing types). I don't know, maybe he speaks to multiple audiences, different circles within a class, that might not even know he shows more than one artist.

Rock bands and clubs do this - I recently went to a show where prime real estate - a saturday night - was ruined by a good band sandwiched between an ironic novelty act and an egotistical vanity project.

I know people in NY are talking about the critical chaos from too many points of view (forget class) or at least too many mouthpieces (go James Kalm!).

But what of the heathen the philistine, the iconoclast?

No, keep the system we have and at least your dreams of "recognition" or "acceptance within the cannon" will comfort you even as your corporeal body decays into the deeply discounted night.

2/01/2008 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Franklin said...

Okay, Zipshit - On my blog, I delete non-sequitur comments because you're not the only one out there with a knack for what I call Poseur Talk and I don't like my blog sounding like Artforum Talkback. So far you've claimed that you're a PhD candidate at Columbia and that you're pregnant, which I think is bullshit, but I guess is harmless enough, so I generally ignore you. Now that you're claiming you're Jewish, with I also think is bullshit. If I'm right, your poseur-talk deconstruction of Jews up there is flat-out antisemitic. It's time for you to out yourself. I support your right to hate speech - you don't really believe in freedom of speech if you don't - but I doubt that Ed wants to associate himself with this kind of racist crap. Or do you, Ed?

2/01/2008 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


I'll thank you to make your point without suggesting that because I hadn't yet read something that I might have thereby automatically endorsed it. Also, you leap from an assumption to a demand, which suggests to my mind you're not even remotely unsure "If [you're] right" or not. Please take a deep breath.

Zip has a long history of going off half-cocked with no apparent harm intended, though, so I'm willing to ask him:

Zip, your comment does seem to be interpretable as racist. If you can't see why, you shouldn't comment here. I hesitate to ask you to explain, fearful that you'll only make matters worse, but this is the only warning I'll offer. I will not tolerate racism here. I hadn't read through your comment (skipping many of them because of their non-sequitur nature), but when someone asks you to clarify such a statement, that's a warning that you're already or in risk of offending us, not an invitation to be more clever on the topic.

Also, everyone, could you not add "shit" to anyone's name here please.

2/01/2008 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous stinky said...

I guess pluralism is relative. Yale and a handful of other high-profile grad programs still produce most of the stuff on view in New York with all the attendant elitism. But the community seems to be a bit more racially diverse and women aren't told they "need to paint like a man" as much anymore. Some things have improved.

It does seem a bit strange to go on about the art in "working class homes" when intentionally kitschy Currins are all the rage in Westchester. All the stereotypes here seem to be pretty wrong headed. That's the problem with anecdotal evidence.

"Within the art critical world, how does one address this?"

This has got to be a bit of a critical nightmare for an art historian. "Postmodern Irony" doesn't really cover it; we're a couple of generations past Umberto Eco and Sandro Chia... most of the interesting figurative work doesn't need to hide behind the cover of irony anymore — although that remains a consistently popular technique. The advent of so much new media work further complicates the issue — much of this work is "figurative" in subject matter; but rather "abstract" in technique. [Thinking of Cremaster and related video installation work]. This all feeds back into painting; introducing new issues and ways of conceptualizing representation or non-representation. Certainly meaty stuff for study, but hardly linear. Add to this a still vital but hardly dominant tradition of abstraction and you have a pretty scrappy mix. Perhaps not pluralistic in a Utopian sense, but still pretty diverse.

[Sorry; this was primarily in discussion with Catherine's comment, not related to the outing of zippy.]

2/01/2008 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I'll admit referring to short latinos as "little brown people" could be construed as racist, I apologize, absolutely. The fact is I don't know what the demographic for Trader Joe's in Union Square is (beyond young and professional), just as no one knows the exact figures on relative popularity of figuration vs. abstraction let alone the drilldown in class and income (two separate but relatedanimals).

But at TJ's there is this sort of dress and vibe you get -
kind of what lower class people refer to as "uptight" which is true and not true but thats another issue.

What exactly is racist about identifying with a recognized cultural group (secular jews) and making an observation that this demographic seems to fit well withing TJ's target market?

I'll admit it is, racist - but it's also classist to identify and target a class right? Like when tommy hillfiger asked blacks not to wear his clothing because of brand erosion? Boy did he look dumb.

MY main point remains unadressed:

How do values (religious or not, "Jewish" or "protestant" or "Catholic") reflect on our attitudes and thus popularity of figuration vs. abstraction?

I argue there is STILL a very real cultural difference between the coasts (not a new idea by any means) and that this is partially a reflection of patterns of immigration (new york is full of "lost tribes" of suburban "Jews", for example)

This includes Jet Setters, who, despite multicultural exposure, tend to exist in bubbles (In my anecdotal experience).

2/01/2008 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry zip but that 'main point' was pulled out of your rear quarters. Did anyone else take this as his point when he referred to the Trader Joe customers as mostly secular Jews (in opposition to 'little brown people')?

2/01/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He does mention religion and art, in a round about beatnik sorta way.

2/01/2008 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

i didnt claim that the presence of "little brown people" led categoricly to the question of "how do values (religious or not, "Jewish" or "protestant" or "Catholic") reflect on our attitudes and thus popularity of figuration vs. abstraction?"

More the lack of "little brown people" in chelsea (presence and abscence bro!) reveals a false dichotomy between oh i forget.

But I get your point - the phrase "little brown people" induces a knee jerk response from you - which puts you distinctly in the class of earthy earring wearing, abstraction loathing Trader Joe zombies. A class I despise.

GOod Day.

2/01/2008 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

His main point is hearing himself talk. Would you like some information about Trader Joe's from an actual Jew, asshole?

2/01/2008 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Many of the Trader Joe's customers out here in L.A. are refugees from the east coast (myself included). The biggest problems with Trader Joe's are that they have a good selection of quality food at reasonable prices, and the employees are friendly and helpful (probably because they're treated well). That works for all us surfers, but I can understand why it might not fly in NYC.

As far as Trader Joe Zombies, they were a great band.

2/01/2008 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The simple math of zip's nonsensical yet quite distinct ideology:

"...abstraction loathing Trader Joe zombies. A class I despise."


"I notice when I go into trader Joes or WHole Foods (I am of that class though I can't usually afford the vaccuum sealed steaks) I dont see a l0ot of short brown people, but there do seem to be a lot of secular Jews (though I'm no expert)."



2/01/2008 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Yes, you are right, I am an asshole. My art movement is called assholeism. SO what? I'm right. When I go into Trader Joe's with it's condescending and infantilizing "Pirate Theme" and an owner who knows how to "get real" with a demographic he understands through his wife, apparently I really feel a part of a something. A demographic maybe. I dig it. I love their trail mix by the way - top notch. Yummers. You should go. Trader Joe's.

Just like when I go to Chelsea and I look at art.
For the record Robert Ryman? He's about snow. Thats it. Pure and simple. Landscapes about snow. Blew my mind like a blizzard in July.

I hung one over the toilet (the bathroom is that large).

What's for dinner btw? I'm having a greasy pork sandwich in a dirty ash tray. Not that you would understand. No reason you should. It's my demographic.

2/01/2008 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Don't kid yourself, Zip - your demographic is people using the Internet to pretend to be more interesting than the losers they really are. You probably bag groceries at Trader Joe's. Maybe one day I'll run into you at the checkout. You can tell me about the defining characteristics of secular Jews in your little Poseur Talk language. Make sure your health insurance is paid up.

2/01/2008 01:50:00 PM  
Anonymous McFawn said...

This a fascinating thread about the schism between our natural appreciation of abstraction and our resistance to it in art.

It reminded me a little of an observation about language. When you hear a foreign language you know nothing of, it sounds very jarring, even annoying. The reason languages we don't know sound this way is that our brain is desperately trying to make sense of the sounds. "That’s a human voice" our brain thinks "making sounds. It must be saying something, if I could just make it out!” The desperation to try to resolve the sounds into words we know frustrates us and prevents us from appreciating the expression or rhythm of the language (the part we actually DO know, even if we don’t understand what’s being said).

I think abstraction can work like that. People look at it—they see colors, forms, line—and they desperately want to resolve these components into something representational. When they can’t, it offends and irritates them. But what I think Ed is saying that people need to realize that they already know the language of abstraction—they just aren’t “listening” for it when they look at a painting. The innate sense of proportion, taste in décor, etc is a visual language that people only realize they have when they see something tacky or see something tasteful. If they could see art this way, not only would they better understand abstraction, they would also better understand their own visual instincts.

2/01/2008 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

I said "..methods used for ordering a visual representation of the world are culturally determined."

F This is the faulty premise from which one concludes that realism and perspective are dehumanizing, paralyzing, rigid, and macho.

Nonsense, how do you arrive at that? I'm talking about all means of visual representation, not just perspective. Second, I'm not judging one as better than the other, just different. Third, if you look at historical models you will find that the depiction of images (or lack thereof) is often a result of some convention, typically but not alays religious. There are a lot of ways to do it, I for one don't find one to be any better than the other.

2/01/2008 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

OK,'re officially invited to stop commenting on this thread. If you push people's buttons on any other thread, I'll invite you to leave the blog altogether.

Sometimes you must choose your forum for your ideas more carefully. I'm all for free speech, but I get to choose whether I want particular flavors of it here or not. When they derail an otherwise interesting and on-topic thread, I don't want them here.

Everyone else, and yes, this means mostly you Franklin, can we not use names to express our objections, please?

But what I think Ed is saying that people need to realize that they already know the language of abstraction—they just aren’t “listening” for it when they look at a painting.

Thank You!!!!

2/01/2008 01:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Nonsense, how do you arrive at that?

It's an old postmodernist chestnut from the identity politics school. here's the top Google result for "perspective phallocentric." (For more,go as Ed why perspective is macho.) Because the idea is useless, it persists only in the humanities. People working on machine vision are using orthogonal perspective.

There are a lot of ways to do it, I for one don't find one to be any better than the other.

From an artistic standpoint one is not better than another. From a realistic standpoint orthogonal perspective is far superior.

If I was going to introduce someone to abstraction I would try it McFawn's way, but I wouldn't be too disappointed if it didn't work. The areas of visual acumen don't always transfer. I had to look at a lot of painting before I started responding to abstraction. I wish we knew more about how tastes are acquired.

2/01/2008 02:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

"go ask Ed"

2/01/2008 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

F. It just goes to show you, it’s always something.

Orthogonal perspective is a fine way of graphically mapping three dimensional space into two dimensional space with a pencil. Modern technology maps one set of dimensional coordinates into another using matrix math. It’s how all modern computer software generates and works with three (or more) dimensional images. I am more than just a bit familiar with the topic since I wrote 3-D plotting software fifteen years ago.

Perspective images are good if they’re looked at with one eye closed. We like them because they appear to be like ‘reality’ as we imagine it. However there are a number of visual ‘realities,’ emotional states, visions of beauty, hallucinations, etc. which are not best served by the use of ortho-perspective (it’s a bug killer).

Just because a painter has a vision more complicated than the obsessive point for point mapping of three dimensions onto a plane, does not imply that they are postmodernist. Nor does it imply anything about their opinion regarding perspective as being phallocentric. While I’m sure it’s exciting to know how to use Google and Wiki, it’s obsfucating the issue at hand in a way which is quite postmodern and I have little use for that.

2/01/2008 04:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I've said it before to George, and I'll say it again: I'll defend anything I actually wrote, not his cockamamie interpretations thereof. Except in this case, I've had my artistic background, my ethnicity, and my intelligence insulted on a single thread. That's enough for one day.

2/01/2008 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger John Hovig said...

Franklin, here's something you actually wrote:

I have a theory that a certain kind of person gravitates towards contemporary art because he lacks the intelligence to produce fiction and the discipline to play in a band.

You're not above insulting other peoples' intelligence, artistic beliefs or membership in a class. Are you complaining this evening that you were struck by your own sword?

2/01/2008 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger the reader said...

"From an artistic standpoint one is not better than another. From a realistic standpoint orthogonal perspective is far superior."

From a creative point of view alternative ways of seeing the world are a crucial driving force in the artists exploration of perception and its abstractions (op art is perhaps the most obvious example). I think its important not to confuse the relativity of perception and the way it blurs the 'real' with pomo cultural relativism.

while the connection between language and how we perceive is undoubtedly an interesting one, there are even more basic physiological levels on which our seeing is abstracted. for example

i agree with Franklin in that making a pomo-moral/political argument against perspective is dated and not very useful, but i think there is definitely a creative imperative in identifying and working with alternative (and perhaps complimentary) ways of seeing.

2/01/2008 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

There have been some good comments here about Piero's use of geometry and abstraction, but there is a danger in going from one extreme to the other. You can't just look at Piero's paintings as abstractions where the subject is irrelevant. That'd be like reading a book just to enjoy the sound of the words but ignoring what they mean.

With Piero, as with all good painters, form and content reinforce each other. In the 'Flagellation', the height of Jesus is significant. Also pay attention to the black rectangle above the bearded guy's hat (the one making the same gesture as the guy in the turban).

It's worth remembering Piero did his initial training as an apprentice to a heraldic painter.

2/02/2008 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Erratum: Tommy Hillfiger never told any group not to wear his clothing.

2/02/2008 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back to the jewelry, the rocks are real. Their arrangement is real, it is specifically decorative not abstract.

The eternal populism of so-called Realism (I, too, think all art, specifically painting is abstraction) is due to representation easily effortlessly identified. It offers a direct, simple "narrative", or, more simply, a hook to the ah-ha moment.

2/02/2008 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Greeks had a deep metaphorical understanding of perspective and geometry in relation to philosophical knowledge, as if they could triangulate the seat of the soul with the Pythagorean Theorem.

Is there a tri-gon-ometry to taste?

The impulse to find hidden meaning in art, and the world at large has hardly changed with modernity. Still, it helps to come back down to earth and realize that sometimes a pipe is just a pipe, to smoke, enjoy and share, and that an earring is sometimes an invitation to another world, one that you may reject, but nevertheless may be as complete and whole, interesting and sophisticated as the one the art world has often hermeticly sealed itself into with esthetic bees wax.

2/02/2008 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

'From an artistic standpoint one is not better than another. From a realistic standpoint orthogonal perspective is far superior.'

Anthropologists have identified about 200 human universals, things that are common to all human cultures. Orthogonal perspective is not one of them.

If you're an engineer or an architect, and you want someone else to be able to build what you've drawn, you will not use orthogonal perspective. You need to show how every part relates to the whole, not how the finished thing looks from a single fixed viewpoint.

On a slightly related note, there's a bit of confused termiology in this thread. Pretty much every time you see 'realism' read 'naturalism'. There's an important difference. Realism shows things as they are (and so includes things like an architect's plan and elevations; compare also Egyptian painting) but naturalism shows things as they appear.

The supposed antithesis of realism and absraction is a result of this confusion. Many of the early abstractionists (such as Malevich, Kupka, Mondrian) were realist painters. They wanted to portray what they understood to be the reality underlying the world of appearances.

2/02/2008 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

Craft artists have been working in abstract forms for centuries; painters, for only about 100 years. Why begrudge the poor craft artist a few fans?

2/04/2008 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger jeff f said...

The statement "Damn the Renaissance!"
is not based on any kind factual evidence or logic. It's just conjecture and is not based on reason.

2/05/2008 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

The statement "Damn the Renaissance!"
is not based on any kind factual evidence or logic. It's just conjecture and is not based on reason.

You're right. It's sensationalistic and reckless blogging at its worse.

Did you miss the "glutted rusty drainage pipe of consciousness" bit at the top???

2/05/2008 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger jeff f said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/05/2008 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Franklin is clearly on record as a hipocrite and a contentious contrarian. And tone deaf to boot.

2/05/2008 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Zip, you're on record as being a racist anonymous troll. I answered Hovig privately by e-mail, and you are welcome to do likewise via my website, assuming against evidence that you possess even the slightest shred of integrity.

2/05/2008 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger jeff f said...

I meant yes I did, at first I thought this was a spoof or something. Than I started reading all the comments, notwithstanding that annoying troll zip, and it just struck me that it's not that simple. To lump Thomas Kinkade of all people with Giotto is quite a stretch.

All Western art throughout history comes with baggage, the Abstract Expressionist are no exception and added their own little brand of
dysfunctionality to the mix.

I am not sure what the whole point of this thread is to debunk realism? To make align it to some kind of agenda?

You forgot to blame the ancient Greeks for inventing liner perspective and the Golden Ratio.

2/06/2008 02:47:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

The whole point of this thread was merely to argue that folks who think they don't like abstraction in painting may actually appreciate it more than they realize, but they've been trained via the obsession with technical proficiency in realism that began during the Rennaisance in earnest to assume that that criteria in painting was the qunitessential measure of quality. It might be, as you suggest, a stretch, but it opened up an interesting dialogue, all the same, which is the point of the blog.

Zip and Franklin, please take it elsewhere. Zip, you in particular were invited to not comment on this thread anymore. Please respect that...and don't respond to even this. It's over here. Take it up with Franklin on his blog. Thank you.

2/06/2008 08:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have not had the opportunity to wade through all the comments here, but I was rather aghast to read this post. Giotto is dealing with something very interesting. After the closing of what is termed the space of antiquity, he is dealing with another opening into space that was tapping into what sculptors did in the high Gothic era. As for Piero. I think if you look at what he was doing, he is a Mathematician, who paints in a way. What could possibly be more abstract than this. I think what disuades you is the proliferation of what Richter called the dumbest thing he could possibly do, an that is reproduce a photograph. Lets not get confused here, the use of abstract mathematical systems to begin to create a new type of space that we understand as conveying the world around us is very very abstract, and I truly think that if you asked many a "realist" painter what its basic tenants are, theyd be stumped. Piero is indeed rigid at times, but I think you are confusing what he was trying to get into the paintings of his contemporaries with what you are trying to get out as a contemporary. Remember your system is only as good as its ability to be adapted to incorporate and subsume some other system. I dont see these issues as restraining at all. I long for painting that has actual space constructed into it, not the closure of space that ocurred after the 19th century, with the reintroduction of the space of antiquity. I would very much enjoy seeing that rupture reopen itself into a world of infinite possibility that uses what has been gleaned from the past 100 years and incorporates it rather than dismisses it. Yet sadly we must lurch ahead and be satisfied with thesis antithesis synthesis....

2/07/2008 10:45:00 AM  

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