Thursday, July 17, 2008

Three Quick Notes

UPDATE 2: Comments (with moderation) are back open. See today's post for an explanation. There are two other places you can continue the major discussion started on this thread. One is at Catherine Spaeths' (link below) and the other is at Carol Diehl's blog.

Pressed for time today.

Note 1:

The comments around here have been so tame lately, that I thought I should direct you over to a very thoughtful interview Catherine Spaeth generously posted on her blog about our gallery. Catherine has a knack for very piercing questions that elicited some opinions I've only hinted at here.

Note 2:

Don't miss the fabulous New York Times article and cautionary tale Jori Finkel wrote about auctions on cruise ships:

It was only after Mr. Maldonado landed back in California that he did some research on his purchases. Including the buyer’s premium, he had paid $24,265 for a 1964 “Clown” print by Picasso. He found that Sotheby’s had sold the exact same print (also numbered 132 of 200) in London for about $6,150 in 2004.

In addition, he had paid $31,110 for a 1968 print, “Le Clown” by Picasso;, an online art database, showed it going for about $5,000.

Note 3:

One of the best discussions online I've read about the New Yorker Obamas cover controversy is on Art Fag City:
That [is] why the satire doesn’t really work - the image is not an outrageous over the top portrayal of how the right views Obama, it’s (as Tom has be saying) an illustration of their views.
Personally, I think it's always better to acknowledge a joke missed being funny with a faint guffaw than to treat it like it was something more significant than a joke. Cartoons can indeed be offensive, but they should ultimately be judged on whether they're succeeding as humor. In this case, I'd say "eh." Sullivan posted a funnier Obama joke, provided by the candidate's campaign the humorist Andy Borowitz [h/t Deborah]:
"A Christian, a Jew and Barack Obama are in a rowboat in the middle of the ocean. Barack Obama says, 'This joke isn't going to work because there's no Muslim in this boat.'"
Have a happy Thursday.

Labels: misc.


Anonymous t.whid said...

re: NYer Obama illo

John Stuart has a great take (as usual)... something like...

"Obama should have said he wasn't upset about the cartoon depicting him as a Muslim extremist because the only people that get upset by cartoons are... Muslim extremists."

I thought it worked BTW, the satire was obvious unless one is: a) challenged in their art comprehension skills or b) a far right wing loon.

7/17/2008 09:03:00 AM  
Anonymous t.whid said...

re: it's an illo of their views not outrageous and over-the-top

The right's views on Obama are outrageous and over-the-top (terrorist fist jab!). So an illo of those views WILL BE outrageous and over-the-top. As was the NYer cover.

It wasn't the greatest satire in the world, but the people hyperventilating about it need to get a grip.

7/17/2008 09:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That [is] why the satire doesn’t really work - the image is not an outrageous over the top portrayal of (but rather) illustration of their views."

This was precisely my opinion of the current show at your gallery, ed. It was merely illustrative of the curatorial.

7/17/2008 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Ed, can you get me the phone # of Mr. Maldonado, he seems like a really smart guy and my type of collector.

All this bitching about the “New Yorker” cover sounds like the pathetic whinings of a bunch of spoiled cry babies, they’ve nailed the Bushies multiple times and they never bawled about it. (I voted for Michael Ducacus so don’t jump to any conclusions.)

7/17/2008 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed Michelle as a gun totting Afro wearing Black Panther. We should all wear these outfits at Halloween and drive the right blogosphere even nuttier.

7/17/2008 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

t.whid's first comment expresses my opinion perfectly, except I would have spelled Jon Stewart's name correctly. : )
Stewart & writers were brilliant in their dissection of this ridiculous brouhaha. While the cartoon itself was not so amazing, there is no way that a thinking, breathing person should see it as anything but satire. People really need to lighten up. This campaign is serious but try to have a bit of a sense of humor folks. Puleeeze.

7/17/2008 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

The cover didn't upset me but I did fail to see it as a successful satire. I didn't find it tasteless, just puzzling.

But the whole thing can only serve to make the right-wing loudmouths look like idiots. If these playground antics are the best they got (making fun of his name?) then the Obama campaign is in pretty good shape. I almost threw up when McCain called him a 'flip-flopper'. How desperate & pathetic, I still kind of liked him before he said that.

Or else, more likely this puerile name-calling is just the warm-up. Fasten your seatbelts...

7/17/2008 12:01:00 PM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

The Borowitz post Sullivan is referring to is actually quite funny:

7/17/2008 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

The Borowitz post Sullivan is referring to is actually quite funny:

Ahh...what I get for not clicking through. Post has been updated.

7/17/2008 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Dumb like a painter, eh? I'm a painter. Prove it, bitch.

7/17/2008 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Dumb like a painter, eh? I'm a painter. Prove it, bitch.


My head's in a weird place today, Franklin.

Not sure whether that's a tongue in cheek challenge or indication of real offense. None was meant.

I assume the phrase has entered the common lexicon and is understood to refer to a focus on medium and not an indication of one's intelligence, but you tell me.

7/17/2008 01:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Entered the lexicon, eh? I had never heard of it. Googling the phrase pulls up a John Pirreault attribution to Thomas Hess, various attributions to Duchamp, and you. I'm glad to hear no offense was meant. Take no offense yourself when I start using "stupid like a conceptualist."

7/17/2008 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Honestly, I wouldn't have used it without clarification had I known it wasn't a commonly used short-hand for "focused on medium." It is used as such, mostly by painters, and not considered offensive, quite widely among my circle, so I don't know what to tell you.

You clearly did take offense and struck back somewhat prematurely (without asking for a clarification, which I would hope would become standard around here, but...), which I don't appreciate.

Perhaps if the transcript of the interview included quotes around the phrase that would be clearer.

7/17/2008 01:49:00 PM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

Wasn't gettin' on you... I just didn't want anyone to miss the one about the kangaroo.


7/17/2008 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I think "terrorist fist jab" is pretty funny.

Conservatives love nothing better than baiting wishy-washy liberals who respond with appeals to reason instead of good jokes.

Conservatives then had the ability to portray the left as humorless apparatchiks. So the story goeth.

SO I see this as just another chapter in that war - a war the conservatives win by default, as long as the left's humor is perceived to be humorless and conservative!

What's the alternative?

Good Morning Vietnam!

7/17/2008 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Paint has lead in it sometimes, and thats why you need to drink wine, to flush the lead you absorb into your body from the paint from your system. But The combination of wine and lead can make you dumb. I;m not making excuses, there are other factors like solvents (turpentine, tolulol) and dryers (Cobalt) as well as smoking, illegal drugs and so one.

But to say that all painters are dumb is to say that all painters huff fumes, in a way. Is that true?

Conceptually I think painters are dumb though. It is after all paint - there is often no detectible higher level abstract thought going on.

So regardless of whether a painter is smart or dumb, I think you must admit the painting is only as smart as the viewer. To argue that point I might point to some very dumb theorists, who howerver "smart" they are in book learning, probably could not opperate in a world where no one thinks aobut painting in philosophical terms. As specialists, they would rightly get their asses kicked - by streetwise punks. Yes, you allare going to look pretty dumb when oil runs out - no more paint, for one.

7/17/2008 02:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Likewise I don't appreciate the denigration of my intelligence along with my preferred artistic mode. Hey, you're the one contrasting "dumb like a painter" with "scientist."

That "stuck in the essence of their media" statement demonstrates that you've bought into the mythology surrounding modernism without any real insight into the attitude. Modernism doesn't preclude working with ideas. It precludes non-visual justifications of art. It would be one thing if you merely disagreed with this. But on top of it, you won't allow a rigorous challenge of the ideas. For instance, you say that "the question stopped being what is the essence of art and became what is art, and that’s the more interesting question." But you had already answered that question:

The artist is free to say it is art, to define beauty, to define aesthetics. So when contemporary formalists describe the work at our gallery as "anti-formalist" or "anti-aesthetic" my response is to a) feel it’s not their role to define that for other artists and b) conclude that they are perhaps missing something, that they have a closed set of choices or values about art.

So the artist is free to say it is art, no one may disagree, and the people who would disagree "have a closed set of choices or values about art," which is ad hominem nonsense full of implied self-flattery regarding the openness of your choices and values. This is exactly the flattery of sentiment that I was talking about in the last thread. The answer to the "more interesting question" is the one that you already agree with. This is just one instance of a pattern:

Me: This thing is such a visual failure that I'm not even sure it qualifies as art in any meaningful sense.

Whoever: You're not allowed to say that it's not art, and its visuals don't matter because it's conceptual.

Me: Its ideas are shallow, uninteresting, poorly presented, and/or wrong.

Whoever: But because you say so, the piece started a discussion and is therefore successful.

Me: This is why I say that conceptualist talent is social rather than artistic.

Whoever: (crickets)

Even in the 1940s people were arguing for the superiority of art that engaged ideas and narratives while incorporating the methods of the abstractionists, over that of the abstractionists themselves. They were making this argument on behalf of Ben Shahn and Marc Chagall. Your statements at the interview repeat this argument in contemporary terms. But where Shahn had social justice and Chagall had religion, you have questions about the nature of art, and let's face it, you're already pretty satisfied with your answers to those questions.

7/17/2008 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh chill out Franklin, when I heard the expression "dumb as a painter" it was from a painter and it was funny. It's also the title of a CD by a conceptual artist named Kenneth Goldsmith. He used to do a radio program on WFMU in New Jersey.


7/17/2008 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Dumb like a painter, eh? I'm a painter. Prove it, bitch.

I’ve heard this quote for decades, as I recall it was first attributed to Clement Greenberg, perhaps referring to Larry Rivers. It's variously been interpreted to mean: 1. dumb: as in unable to vocalize ideas, (deaf, dumb, and blind); 2. dumb: someone too involved an activity to pay attention to other things; 3. dumb: like someone deprived of one sense compensates by overdeveloping another sense. Perhaps it even relates to “dumb luck”.

7/17/2008 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish painters were dumb. Openings would be a lot quieter.

7/17/2008 05:09:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

A short list of smart painters:

Paul Cezanne
Eugene Delacroix
Fairfield Porter
Paul Klee
Leonardo da Vinci

7/17/2008 06:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why isn't it "dumb like a sculptor"?

7/17/2008 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Why isn't it "dumb like a sculptor"?

I don't know. I think James' reference might provide a clue, though, in that Modernist painters in particular were consumed with the notion of the "essence" of painting and so that kind of focus may have prompted the coining of the phrase.

Anyone taking offense at it should understand I didn't make the term up and truly did think its usage was somewhat commonplace and noncontroversial at this point. My bad, if that's not the case.

But, I mean, come on, no offense was intended. Am I in the habit of insulting artists based on the medium they work in here? Cut me some freakin' slack.

7/17/2008 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Marc Chagall is nothing if not clinical, at least to my eyes. His dreary dry brushed scumbling and timid period palette are dumb dumb dumb.

Ben Shahn? I hate blotted ink drawing, don't you?

Sculptors are often obsessesed with materials, like their painter brethren. Materials don't have innate intelligence and thus lack conscious thought. Having a conversation with a rock, steel or paper will make you dumb.

7/17/2008 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Chris I deleted your comment.

Before anyone else decides to drop the n word or anything else of the ilk to try to get me to understand they were offend by the phrase, I'll just say I'm sorry I used it. This outrage is really not worth the clarity I assumed its use would convey.

I hope if you do studio visits, though, that when the day comes that you hear that phrase, as James apparently has, as I have, as countless other people I know have, used by a painter to explain a certain part of their thinking or process you don't give them as hard a time about it as you're giving me.

7/17/2008 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Ed, I wasn't offended by your phrase. I wrote as much. I was offended by your justification for using it. The justification was bone-headed, you've got to know that.

7/17/2008 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I actually don't know that Chris.

I've used that phrase as short hand for so long, in so many contexts, that I guess I didn't realize it might be construed as an insult. I assumed my audience was familiar with its usage and connotations and that it would make my meaning clearer than any other phrase I could use.

What I also don't know, though, is why anyone would assume that I meant it to be offensive. I represent several artists who paint. Unless the assumption is I'm too dumb to know better than to intentionally offend my own artists.

7/17/2008 07:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Hanging out with painters for a decade and a half, and I've never heard it before. Go figure. Is it a New York thing?

7/17/2008 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...


7/17/2008 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

The audience would be familiar with the usage and connotations of many ethnic slurs and race-based epithets. They might not even find them offensive. Doesn't make them right.

Again, I wasn't offended by your use of the term. I'm offended by your intellectual laziness. I think I'd be much less offended if you told Franklin he was being oversensitive and he could fuck the hell off. At least it'd be honest.

7/17/2008 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

And, actually, going back reading the thing in context, I have to say it is pretty offensive. You're saying, basically, that you include a painter in your roster because she's got great ideas, whereas other painters paint because they don't know any better. Or are "invested in" painting, whatever that means.

7/17/2008 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Read the entire thing for the real context Chris. I'm responding to a question about one artists in particular who paints as part of a conceptualist practice. I'm also saying I represent other painters for whom formalism is their practice.

We disagree about my rationale.

7/17/2008 07:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question is, is this "franklin" chap a painter? I clicked the link to name and frankly, I'll say he is an illustrator! Why take such a great big (dumb) offence over something that one doesn't REALLY fully practice (and as such, the insult, if there was one, is null)?

"Dumb As A Painter" started perhaps during the American Expressionist 50s with the Pollock-Macho-Macho-rolled-sleeves-and-all-that-boozy gestural stuff while wily petit-tyrant Clement Greenberg snoops around orchestrating, fancying himself the ONLY one with any idea. (Then Rothko came and said, no, I ain't dumb, no sir! And wrote some kind of treatise or something).

A point to note is that in Paris at same period (the city from whom New York took the art prix) painters are never considered dumb.

(Therefore), it's likely the the phrase "Dumb As A Painter" calls to mind the fact that North Americans generally like to think about others (fellow country men --and women) as "dumb". This is often used to signify their own 'smart'.

But back to the opening of this my post, there are painters and there ARE painters. Now those are the ones who ought to raising hell (but they are too busying painting and boozing and fornicating? -yes, this last part was also implied in "Dumb As A Painter")

So, this "franklin" frankly ain't a painter enough to be so offended.


7/17/2008 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Good Christ, Anonymous, but you're a freaking moron.

7/17/2008 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

er, Anonymous....I've seen images of Franklin's paintings...he is a painter.

thanks for the history/opinions on the phrase though

7/17/2008 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

You know, Ed, almost every other sentence in that whole interview cries out to be rebutted in turn, but I'm not interested in tilting at that particular windmill at the moment. I did, however, manage to wade through the thing to get the context of what you're saying there, and no, I still find it offensive. It actually gets more offensive the more I read it. You're calling people names. You're saying Joy is a scientist -- whoo! How smart! -- and not a dummy. You say formalists are "stuck". Are we going to say that's not pejorative all of a sudden?

You were right, though -- people did take it personally and now it's disintegrated into bickering and unpleasantness. Kind of funny what happens when you accidentally tell people what you really think.

7/17/2008 08:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Insane as it may sound, the intention of post WAS to help the offended feel better (through a butchered version of historical and national perspectives).

franklin, you are a painter AND are NOT dumb!


7/17/2008 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

Um, guys, 'dumb as a painter' is a translation of the old French saying 'bete comme une peintre'. The reason there are google hits for Duchamp is cos he cited it when going on about his retinal painting thing.

So the Ab-Exes ripped it off along with everything else, and now you guys attribute it to Greenberg et al! That's pretty funny.

7/17/2008 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Isn't bete translated as beast? "Beastly as a painter" makes more sense. Probably just as offensive in the right context, I guess.

7/17/2008 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

MoMa sez:
In 1913 Duchamp abandoned the traditional tools and techniques of painting, prompted by his desire to elevate art and the art-making process beyond the purely visual or 'retinal', as he later called it; his adoption of an overtly intellectual approach was in conscious opposition to the French expression 'être bête comme un peintre', which presumed that painting was a mindless activity.

So, Ed, whether you knew it or not, the phrase means exactly what you intended in your context, and furthermore, was intended originally to be offensive.

7/17/2008 09:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks! But I disagree. Though I must confess I can't stand the greenberg's school (so I'm always game for shooting at him), 'dumb as a painter' is proudly North American! The Greenbergians could not tolerated excesses of the dumb sort Pollock exhibited. Beauty had to be Intellectually Convulsive -or it was dumb as a painter! Remember Duchamp hung around NY a bloody long time and what we tend to forget is the extent of American influence on the french. FRANGLAIS exist not for affinity with England but for love of things Americain like le jeans! (Americans on their side feel very sophisticated when they can say lawn-ge-rie) And monsieur Duchump loved to play with words (recall Rose Selavy).

So yes, why we would rather attribute such a biting phrase to Duchamp (because we think he was clever/smart enough to coin such a hardhitting phrase), "dumb like a painter" is proudly Americain.


7/17/2008 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

Yeah Chris, that 'originally intended' path takes you nowhere. Things change through use. The word 'nice' originally meant 'simple' or 'dim'. Does that mean every time you say such and such is a nice person, you're calling them dim? It was intended originally to be offensive.

Ye gods, who lets themselves be defined by folk sayings anyway!?

I'd beware of taking Duchamp at face value here. He was well aware of Leonardo's 'Painting is a mental thing' (usually boringly translated as '...thing of the mind').

7/17/2008 09:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Bête Comme Un Peintre" -or brute/beastly as a painter ain't as pejorative as "dumb as a painter", which came BEFORE Duchamp's own words, like it or not.

Sure, like a lot of conceptualists, Duchamp made art with deep anti-art feelings (this was absolutely necessary for the thing to move forward), but the New York intellectuals of the 1950s were only too happy to attribute to him the very phrase they themselves coined (which by the way, Duchamp proves more gentle with: bête ain't Dumb but rather an uncouth authenticity that's considered raw, even beautiful, but all the same having an element of 'truth' for being made by the animal, the painter).

Duchamp was a resident Americain-more or less-all through the heated Ab-EX.


7/17/2008 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

the phrase means exactly what you intended in your context

good...because exactly what I intended was to delineate between artist for whom the medium is the message and those for whom it's a tool for the message.

Glad to know that's all clear now.

7/17/2008 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Actually, as I remember, "nice" used to mean "exact." But I could be wrong about that.

But we're not going back to Elizabethan English here, we're talking about usage recent enough to have been heard by people alive today. Duchamp only died in, what, the early 1970s? (Wikipedia says 1968. I was close.)

Again, I wasn't especially offended originally. If Ed had just said "dumb as a painter" in passing, I probably wouldn't have gotten offended. (Actually, I wouldn't have read it at all except Franklin got offended.) I've met a number of painters in the last few years, and gallerists and sculptors and conceptualists, too, and most of them are a dumb as a box of hammers. But then I've met people with doctorates in science who are hilariously dopey. Lord knows I'm an idiot at least half the time.

It's the context that makes his attitude offensive, whatever backpedaling Ed's doing here in his blog, where he tries to make everything look friendly and open and, yes, nice as in simple and dim.

Well, I've calmed down a bit myself anyway. I think Pretty Lady's right and we're all just feeling jumpy lately.

7/17/2008 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Ed sez: delineate between artist for whom the medium is the message and those for whom it's a tool for the message.

The former being stupid.

7/17/2008 09:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

once more, APROPOS:

Every lil' girl (or boy) growing up, as I was, with fervent love of painting knew Duchamp LOVED Da Vinci and Redon, both rare, mental souls with sore individual bent.



PRONTO (and goodnight!)

7/17/2008 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

The former being stupid.

Only if it's done poorly...if it's done well it's transcendent and there ain't nothing stupid about that.

Bonne nuit mes amis

7/17/2008 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Likewise I don't appreciate the denigration of my intelligence along with my preferred artistic mode

Your comments usually do an ample job of that.

7/17/2008 11:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hanging out with painters for a decade and a half, and I've never heard it before. Go figure. Is it a New York thing?

No, its an artist thing.

7/17/2008 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

Not only is "dumb like a painter" a long worn phrase (how could anyone who cares so much for painting not have heard it? It does blow the mind) but there are variations of it that come from painters themselves, such as Frank Stella's desire to "keep the paint as good as it was in the can," or Gerhard Richter's statement that painting is sheer idiocy. These are statements made by people who obviously care a great deal about what they are doing (Richter's statement has been misread), and for whom the question "What does it mean to paint?" is not an idle one.

7/18/2008 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Richard Womack said...

ONE must not lose desires,or the desires behind it, creativeness,to love and to a long life

7/21/2008 10:30:00 AM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

Now that comments are reopened on this, I just had to add that I would be as proud as a papa to be called Dumb As A Sculptor.

7/21/2008 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous concrete phone said...

'dumb like a painter'. hurt a lot of people, Ed, because the term not only refers to, well, someone who relies on paint to communicate, but also suggests that they are behind the eight-ball. Where the term originated from doesn't really matter because 'dumb painter' means 'not very smart doing something quite irrelevant,' despite the more flavorsome and self-referencing quotes offered by Catherine.
Paint is the message, or it is not. Color is the message or it is not. The image is the message or it is not. Messages are everywhere, and they are not just massage messages, they are sometimes small little things, post-its, that are quite vital despite their diminutive scale and seemingly lack of, or incoherent content, or context.
In the study of life and the Universe, we look at the very big things. And then we start looking at the smaller things, how they relate to each other. There are post-its everywhere, and they can get smaller and smaller and smaller--little things you can hardly see, or jot down on. And 'we' as the scientist, are very interested in these small things. Though, of course, not for their smallness alone. More, how the tiny impacts on the colossal--the magnificent on the infinitesimal. One has to understand that the universe is all there, all at one place, in one instant. Yet it remains open, and discoverable. Who knows what detailed post-it we may find, what enormous colorless glue we'll stumble upon, as a painter.

I used the word scientist because you did, Edward, labeling Joy as one. Though it's easy to switch labels, to see what comes up--the point of conceptual underpinnings, and you current summer show. Now maybe i get why you called Joy a scientist. I really thought, for a moment, you had just gone mad:)


7/21/2008 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I already apologized to anyone who took offense concrete phone. Let it drop please.

7/22/2008 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

Leonardo Da Vinci was a scientist and a painter. I don't take offense from your comment, but I also don't take it as a big compliment. In the context of the sentence, you were saying that paintings don't stimulate you in the same way concepts do. Every artist has a concept, every painter has a concept, every human being has a concept, the trick for an artist is to convey their concept to an audience in a way that will move them. A visual artist tries to do it in a visual way, a writer does it in a verbal method, a movie director combines words and visual stimulation, a musician uses sound. In the same way music can work with or without lyrics, so should visual art. A strong song often works without the lyrics, many times the words are not at all important and are serving only as a vehicle for the musician (the singer) to express their voice. At other instances the lyrics can work on their own, and the music is the vehicle a musician uses to put out the message. Whether you personally prefer Bob Dylan or Bartok is purely a matter of taste, but obviously, one can't throw the baby with the bath water, it's only music when it has sound, and it's only good music when the sound, in itself, without the words, works. You may say some songs work better and are more powerful with the words than without them, but the words are used once, to get the idea, while the music continues to affect your feelings and continues to grind into your soul long after you have memorized the words, or even if you don't remember each one and only get 'the idea' of the lyrics, that's the power of music. The Doors, the Pink Floyd, and many others are huge also in non-English speaking countries, because the music stands by itself. Of course, the exception to this is John Cage's 4'33", but he made his point, and you don't see a whole movement of music without any sound taking over after him.

I shouldn't turn this into a discussion about music, it's my tendency because that's most of my education. What I mean to say is that although words and concepts are important and can be part of the medium the artist uses, the visual should also work independently of any other stimulation, when it is a visual art. This is what artists have always striven for, and should continue to do so. It is not enough to make use of a few slogans and display them in a clever way, with or without the use of words, call them 'a concept' and get away with being called 'a visual artist'. It has to work visually, it has to move you on that basis, in order to work and be defined as 'visual'. Visual art uses visual tools of the trade to work on the brain. There is no escape from color and line, or texture and volume in the case of sculpture. There is no escape from harmony, either in the visual or auditory realms. Harmony is a scientific phenomenon, and knowing how to play with the tension between harmony and disharmony is the work of an artist. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

All that said, I believe Ed did, in the interview, mention the visual IS important to him, so I believe we do have some agreement in a way, after all.

7/22/2008 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger Balhatain said...

Tough skin... anyone?

7/23/2008 11:30:00 AM  

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