Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Masculinizing American Art : Open Thread

It's no mistake I suspect that it took a generation of hard-drinking, womanizing blowhards who'd start swinging their fists at the drop of a hat for the US to finally take serious notice of its own homegrown artists. (I refer, of course, to the Abstract Expressionists.) The tendency to relegate Art to the distaff side of our identity (and hence overcompensate for that with hyper-masculinity) is fully intertwined with our more mythical view of ourselves as wild west cowboys and the widely held opinion that art is for sissies. (This makes it all the more ironic that we see such a disparity in the high-level acknowledgment of women artists vs. that of men, but....) .

This tendency is underscored in many subtle ways, even in the fact that despite how it symbolizes an industry in which "nearly 6 million people make their living [and] contribute[s] more than $160 billion to our economy every year" we still see a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Metropolitan Museum as a job for the First Lady rather than the President of the United States himself. The view runs so deep that even the channels that might help change the perception (i.e., the press) are seemingly designed to perpetuate it, as András Szántó recently noted in the Art Newspaper:
Culture, especially in its rarefied incarnations, has never been a high priority for the mainstream press. Criticism is a strange bird in an enterprise devoted to “objectivity” and mass readership. And news bosses rarely care about “soft” arts stories. They are into “hard” reporting on wars and money and sport—boys’ stuff. [emphasis mine]
Some of this obviously hinges on the central myths of our culture. The fact that art takes reflection to do well and reflection is at odds with the shoot-from-the-hips, take-no-prisoner impulse we admire in our heroes (hence we get Captain Kirk rather than Captain Spock taking the helm of the USS Enterprise) doesn't help, I'm sure. But as artists are the ones best situated to redefine our culture, I can't help but wonder whether the art community isn't most to blame for not changing this.

Even as I write that, though, I realize that "changing this" can have two meanings. First is to replace the hyper-masculine central myths that define us. Second is to change the perception that art is at odds with those hyper-masculine myths. The AbExers apparently related to the myths and wanted to make art that celebrated them. The next generation of American artists (led by Rauschenberg, Johns and eventually Warhol [three gay men, mind you]) largely rejected the myths and their significance though. So perhaps there's an obvious gay vs. straight component at play here we'll have to sort out to get to the point where art isn't seen as something you send the First Lady to represent.

Consider this an open thread on sorting out the issues of why art is viewed as so nonmasculine in the US.

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79 Comments:

Blogger George said...

For a look back at that generation of hard-drinking, womanizing blowhards...

Might I suggest Roger Corman's 1959 film,A Bucket of Blood currently showing on HULU. Once one gets past the local color -- taken metaphorically, it is a good parallel to the art world of today.

Get some microwave popcorn, a joint and enjoy.

5/20/2009 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger nathaniel said...

This came up at a talk I was giving a few weeks ago, and was very eye-opening for me. For general audiences, I often compare my performative scanner prints to Pollock. I say that he didn't "make paintings" but "performed painter," and that here I am performing some of the dynamic relationships between bodies, media and perception. Anyhow, someone raised their hand and said, "But Pollock was so male" (final word with distaste). I was really taken aback. I had always looked up to the man/movement that legitimized American art, felt very indebted to him/them, and never really thought about it that way. But of course, as soon as I heard it, I knew it was true.
It wound up being a great discussion around the active production of art in dynamic relationships, as opposed to that same activity as (male) ownership and author-ity. And it made me re-think my own trajectory in ways I hope to keep exploring. It fascinates me to hear your take on the trajectory at work here, in American art at large - thanks!

5/20/2009 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Purportedly Pollock was bi or at least adventurous.

5/20/2009 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Abex is an art that reflected a sexual (sensual) liberalization that was going to permit the next gen of artists to all be gay and prouds.

Most abex artists were probably good in bed judging by their artistic outputs.


Cedric C

5/20/2009 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

you said open thread so here is a concept from left field ...I wonder about the idea that this is some sort of sexist discrimination on the machoness of the artwork . I think the issue may be more basic then a question of perceived "masculinity".
Art since the ages has shifted time and again with each technological turning to new media.
And with each media, not only were there innovations in artistic expression, but major shifts in artistic funding.

When frescoes were the nadir of the art world, they were tied directly into the media of architecture and funded through building programs.
When the technological turning of oil painting freed art from the limits of fixed architectural space and opened the possibilities of portable artworks, the source of funding art shifted as well.
Gone were the patron placements within the artwork, gone were the guaranteed mass audiences. Hello middle class funding and its wider individual sponsors. Hello Mona Lisa.

This shifting of the ground of art media, entails shifting funding opportunities.

So why do athletes get corporate and political patronage but not the visual arts? I'd contend it is the media still, athletic coverage and review is achieved through our "mass" media which allow for
corporate sponsorship. Individual works of art remain that, individual works accessed through the media of galleries , museums, magazines and art books. Package them together as an exhibit
and the exhibit can get funding and sponsorship, but it is rare to hear of direct artist patronage. The 1% art in Public spaces building initiatives are encouraging, but again, this seems to be an example of the
art medium determining the type and amount of funding available. This isn't about funding art, it is more about funding a certain type of artwork media.

The art media is the determinant of the funding and its source, and not so much the creative impulse within the art work or the masculinity of the artist. .

Presidents can invest, but being patrons is considered best left to after they leave office. Otherwise it smacks of pork barreling. Unless art uses as its ground a media of "investment or return", its funding will remain on the side lines.

(see "art" photography as compared to advertising photography - I contend it is the media that is the distinguishing factor in funding- here advertising getting the lions share of the budget - not any concept of one being more masculine then the other.)

5/20/2009 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

What's really interesting is that, by taking a psychological attitude which rejected the "expression of emotion," one of the most unshaven and steeled tenets of machoism, three gay guys offended everyone and changed the course of art.

5/20/2009 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I think you, Christopher Knight, and Judith Dobrzynski all need to go quaff a frosty mug of Get Over It. I don't know if you've noticed, but the president these days is a little busy, and it seems like the First Lady ought to be able to handle a ribbon-cutting ceremony without sending the culturati into fits of teeth-gnashing over the inferred symbolism.

For the record, she nailed the speech, she talked up the importance of art and craft to the history of the nation, and as always, she looked fabulous. But no, we're supposed to fret about art being relegated to a wifey obligation while replacing the alleged hyper-masculine myths surrounding it. You go ahead. I have non-imaginary problems to deal with.

Also for the record, Spock had been made captain of the Enterprise in Wrath of Khan.

5/20/2009 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Franklin's really good at being abrasive but he's right, the president is a little busy these days.

5/20/2009 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Franklin,

If this were a new shovel-ready highway project being launched, the President would have made time in his busy schedule to cut the ribbon. Why? Because the symbolism of the First Lady doing so (a non-elected, figurehead) would send the signal that this was less important to the nation. That's my point. How can a $160 billion industry not be worth his time?

As for Star Trek, though, it's the newest version in which it's asserted that you can't trust the reflective types to make the right decisions...that it takes the go-on-your-guts types to beat our enemies...I had hoped we saw enough of that during the Bush years to cure us of that delusion, but...

5/20/2009 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I'm good at being right, too.

Ed, I think that you're looking at this all wrong. You're unhappy that the administration sent Michelle Obama. I'm happy that it didn't send Joe Biden.

I havent seen the latest Star Trek (although I fully intend to), but it seems that the point of the Kirk/Spock arrangement was to fit in with the old archetype that subordinates Merlin to Arthur: namely, that knowledge is indispensable, but the main thing is courage. Thus the fonts of wisdom (Aslan, Gandalf, Beatrice, etc.) are never the main characters, and they have to withdraw their assistance at some point in the narrative so that the hero can come into his own. Unfortunately, whereas Kirk had Spock, Bush had Cheney.

5/20/2009 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What of the female Abstract Expressionists?

Were they hard-drinking, man-izng blowhards too?

As usual - last to be included.

You should be ashamed to have left them out of the discussion thus far.

5/20/2009 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Ed, I think that you're looking at this all wrong. You're unhappy that the administration sent Michelle Obama. I'm happy that it didn't send Joe Biden.

LOL...

actually, I'm more focused on how to get gender neutrality associated with art...and that begins by butching up its image a bit, I think.

5/20/2009 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

You should be ashamed to have left them out of the discussion thus far.I would if I assumed that their participation had served to butch up the notion of art for Americans...I'm not sure it did though. Good point to debate, all the same.

5/20/2009 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

Thoughts:

Ed, I get your point, but sending Michelle on an arts-junket is a positive symbol of the role that women have in politics, equally important (but underacknowledged) as in the arts? You opened the thread with a side-comment on male-female disparity in the arts, but then complained that Pater O. failed to come & wave his wand over the ceremony..so to speak..

In other words, in a televised political arena, fabulous Michelle's appearance may be a more positive gesture.

Less than a macho vs. sissy understanding of the arts, I think the central myth of the artworld is that it is mainly populated by freaks! Individual artists rarely have much of a public face or personality, and I was always surprised in school at the preponderance of straight jocks (really no other way to describe 'em) pursuing BFAs and MFAs.

Rauschenberg & Johns deliberately distanced themselves from Warhol for being too swishy, as the story goes...I think all three of them were a very eager not to get kicked out of the Boys Club.

Part of the journey of re-defining masculinity on a personal level means getting in touch with the 'male' archetypes. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that art isn't really seen as sissy work anymore, not since the 60s. I think that the fashion world has replaced that popular perception with the explosion of very visible, dandified homos on television fashion shows.

On a humorous note: the word verification code for this post is "SNAPP" -- you go gurl!

5/20/2009 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed said: "...it took a generation of hard-drinking, womanizing blowhards who'd start swinging their fists at the drop of a hat..."

Generated myth.

*See the on-going Pluralism post for perspective.

5/20/2009 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed said: actually, I'm more focused on how to get gender neutrality associated with art...and that begins by butching up its image a bit...

this is an interesting take. Can you elaborate just a bit more?

5/20/2009 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

There are two histories to contend with...one within the art world, which has subtleties to it, such as RR punching Scull, a scene that none of the AbExers had the cajones to to act out on a collector that I know of...not that I'm saying RR was right, mind you, but in the myth-building department it reigns in machismo...and then there is the history as seen by outsiders, in which, as Andras points out, the arts are not seen as "boys' stuff."

Getting the arts to be seen as more masculine by the press and general public at large will help it become more gender neutral. Currently it's seen as too feminine (yes, as I noted, that's ironic), and that is affecting, IMHO, its widespread appeal.

5/20/2009 12:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Aesthetically I find Abex and Abstract in general to be very feminine (I would add to my comment above that it applies the same to women and men, how Abex liberalized sensuality).

The minimalists "feel" more "masculine" to me, but that's a cultural illusion, because ask that to the bees. Nevertheless, the rare women minimalists always seemed to have an agenda about feminizing the field, whereas conceptuals or abex were seemingly much more working on "equal" (cough) grounds.

Cedric C

5/20/2009 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

...sorting out the issues of why art is viewed as so nonmasculine in the US.

I'm not sure I buy into that premise. I do think there has been gender bias in the culture and in the artworld which should be addressed.

I seriously question the notion that hyper-masculine myths have anything to do with art making directly. I see a place for aggressive expression within art but do not think this is per se masculine, Louise Fishman comes to mind recently.

What I am getting at is that art must be able to express the entire range of human emotion and psychology. Tthis must include both the aggressive and the reserved, the masculine and the feminine, and whatever other cultural pairs there are.

5/20/2009 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Thanks for bringing this up, Ed.

Art is seen as non important--or at least less important than other undertakings. Women, as we know all too well, are still perceived as less important--even in the art world. I don't want the arts to be seen as more "masculine." That suggests that "feminine" or "female" is not good enough.

When female-ness is more highly regarded, the rest of the art world--no, the world--will be better off.

As for who should have presided over the ribbon cutting at the Met, my vote would have been for Spock.

5/20/2009 01:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah those artists in other countries were not like our dirty dudes at all. it's an american thing for sure. i hate men. why can't they sit properly. oh my god that guy just burped and didn't cover his mouth giggle and blush, what an oaf.

5/20/2009 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

"... art is viewed as ... nonmasculine in the US."

"Getting the arts to be seen as more masculine ..."

I've never been macho, and have always felt pressure (school, society) to look and act "more masculine." Now my art - or at least my role as an artist - must be "more masculine" too? Does this mean not stepping out of my house unless I'm wearing Packers-logo clothing from a sports apparel store? Owning dogs instead of cats? Spitting on the sidewalk? I wonder what it costs to move to Europe these days ...

5/20/2009 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"yeah those artists in other countries were not like our dirty dudes at all. it's an american thing for sure. i hate men. why can't they sit properly. oh my god that guy just burped and didn't cover his mouth giggle and blush, what an oaf."

Oh, right. Since when did american men corner the market on "dirty dudes" over any other country's men?

Plenty of american women who can belch and fart with the best of men

Equality ! Yeah, that's what we're talkin bout.

5/20/2009 02:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Chance Randel said...

I would, cautiously, agree with Joan that both arts and the feminine are sadly undervalued in America. I'm not so sure about linking the two. Might biology and tradition have more to do with the feminization of the American art world?

Art is an essentially creative act and creation (love it or loathe it) is linked with womanhood. It might not be seen as "proper" for a man to bring life forth from within. This might be part of why the uber-macho Pollock types were needed to help build mainstream acceptance.

At the same time, however, the barriers between high and low art were falling down. This meant greater links between the art world and decor, design, craft, textiles, etc. Art now finds itself interacting and associating with a number of things that have long been held as "the realm of women."

A little biology and a little thoughtless traditionalism can go a long way.

As far as the MOMA ribbon cutting goes - let's be honest here. The arts ARE seen as less important in America. Obama attending that ribbon cutting while "real problems" were brewing would be fodder for more nasty commentary than I'm willing to put up with right now.

5/20/2009 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

This might be part of why the uber-macho Pollock types were needed to help build mainstream acceptance.

This is utter nonsense and revisionist history. Aside from the CIA influence, if we look back on American social mores in the wartime and post war period it makes a certain degree of sense that the aggressive male would be mythologized.

A scant 30 years earlier women had just achieved the right to vote, the 60's hadn't happened, and the relationships society condoned between men and women were quite different than we have today.

Moreover, this supposedly "macho" art was an expression of the existential angst, of the post war emotions which were cloaked in abstraction to isolate them psychologically as well as politically.

I think it is a mistake to create this myth about the artists from this period (AE) based upon the limited amount of historical knowledge we have and then extend it into some sort of period generalization. It's not what happened.

5/20/2009 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous http://youtube.com/nemastoma said...

The male and female mode of existence is about a question of degree. Modern endocrinology has confirmed Jung’s feminine archetype.

5/20/2009 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous jennifer said...

Thanks Ed – great topic for discussion.

It’s no surprise that the value placed on art in our culture of commerce is negligible. From a young age, kids are taught to follow professional paths that are “useful” and “important”—math, science, financial, etc., that art is something to do if you have extra time, or want to have fun or a new hobby. In larger culture, the value of art is not something easily quantified, measured, or shown through financial studies, and thus is quickly disregarded as a non-value cultural realm. This “invisible worth” actually reminds me of that invisible value of parenting that is mostly the domain of women. To see the effects and value of art (and likewise childrearing) takes a comprehensivist view, one that’s very different from the narrow and specialist viewpoint that is all the more common in a/our capitalist society. When art does fit into the comfortable parameters of money markets (auction system, etc), and its value can be assessed through pricing structures and as a commodity, people are more comfortable working within that framework of assigned/perceived value. When art is taken out of that context, people have a hard time seeing its value.

In my own artwork, I have a series that focuses on power—specifically the difference between our current American/Western idea of power (the aggressive, conquering, overt kind of power fed by our wild west beginnings and related pervasive mythologies) and an alternate kind of power. This “other” power is one I see as intrinsic to both nature and the feminine (both females and the feminine aspect of human nature): it is understated, lies beneath the surface—is latent, but holds an immensity of potential force. Our culture has no dialogue/language for this alternate view of power, and until we do, I think women (and art) will remain undervalued.

I agree with Joanne that our first steps should be directed towards making more visible the value of the feminine, rather than repositioning art as more masculine.

5/20/2009 06:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that your examples are all of Hollywood, of entertainment, not art. Art has always been virile, about life, and sensual. Though erotic art is difficult, and from what I have seen better done by women, as men just want to get off. No binding, which is arts true purpose, but getting mine, which is just as typical of gay men as straight.

Art is about us, not the individual, and so this is an irrelevant article. If art is seen as effeminant, not feminine or masculine, in America, it is because it has not often addressed anything beyond the desires of the rich, the wants of the spoiled, and the perversions of the decadent.

We are a creative people, but not in visual creative art. Entertainment, yes. Building, yes, music, yes, sports yes, business, sometimes. Art is seen this way because it has not addressed the needs of the American people, it has been for the effete, those detached from work, from family, from religion. Art has hidden from looking at what is meaningful in life, instead, getting caught up in individual issues, politics, sales, and yes, sex. Sex is not for public display, it is personal, for two people to bond. Art is for humanity to bond, to find what is essential in life, to unify, through that which is not temporal, but eternal,

Artists have been scared to tackle these issues, instead focusing on themselves, their desires, their self expression, and their "issues". The masses dont care, and shouldnt. That's not creative art. Never has been, never will be. Art is not a rag, a People magazine to air out ones own private life and mental issues. It is about US, and not, not the entertainment rag, though it has been substituted for art, becaue it hs faile dot perform its role in society. We all ahev a role, art has its purpose, but instead, focused on career, on exhibitionism, on glorious excess.

And so the masses dont respond. And you wonder why. Artists have failed. Not Americans. We still visit musuems, but often overseas, as ours are grossly overrated, except for the Met and MoMA which again, thier best stuff is from around the wrold, not American. We do commercials, not art, and so artists have done that too, thinking they are the same thing. They arent. And so, you have reaped your reward. Disdain.

5/20/2009 06:59:00 PM  
OpenID banole said...

It could be because professional sports, with all their heroic athleticism, siphon off so much cultural masculinity that they leave the arts underfunded in the macho department.

5/20/2009 07:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Deschanel said...

Perhaps part of it is that for most of US history, art has been seen as rarefied and upper-class. In a nation of farmers and shopkeepers, it's always been a working class trope to resentfully characterize the wealthy as feminine and unmanly.

Until the mid-20th century, the majority of the population were working-class. One small consolation for them was to imagine their wealthy bosses- who could afford art- as being less of a man, paper-pushers who didn't do "real' work.

The civic idea of art being "for everyone" is I think a fairly recent. It was seen as a luxury, for the decadent rich. So I think there's an atavistic class resentment too. Which is unfortunate, in this day and age.

But god help an "artistic" boy in school. A lot of male artists I knew in art school seemed to overcompensate for being tagged as "sensitive"- it's the same dynamic . Frankly, I just think people hate artists, and feminizing them , stigmatizing them from an early age as "fags"- well it's a way of putting talented people in their place. "Who do you think you are?" Part of the stigma is resentment at someone who might rise above their station so to speak. And for young male artists in school, the classic putdown -impugning their masculinity- does the trick. Again, class matters.

(Sean Capone above mentioned how Rauschenberg and Johns shunned Warhol in the macho (overcompensating?) 50's for being too femme. The called him "Wendy Airhole". Poor Andy. I still feel bad when i read of the cold shoulder they gave him.)

5/20/2009 07:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Chance Randel said...

@George - Well, I was attempting to speak to the reality if Jung's feminine archetype. Sorry if I was unclear.

If the arts are associated with the feminine (because they are creative/generative) then a society that doesn't accept the feminine within will see men in the arts as transgressing and quite likely question their masculinity. A suitably macho type can get away with it without being questioned. (Unless you want a bloody nose.)

It's easier for others to follow after the macho types clear a path. (He did it and wasn't girly. So can I.) That isn't the same as de-feminizing it though. The large feminine aspect wasn't removed from public perception - it was slightly overshadowed for a while. That's all. Then the feminine was reinforced by association with other things considered feminine.

I don't think that's revisionist. I just think that's the way people work.

5/20/2009 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

"... why art is viewed as so nonmasculine in the US."

Remember how (less than a year ago) everything not Far Right was defined as Leftist? Perhaps we still define everything not hyper-masculine as feminine, when in fact it ain't so.

5/20/2009 08:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Larry said...

From the NY Times of last week:

Editorial
Lincoln Center, New and Improved
May 13, 2009

"Fifty years ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower* wielded a ceremonial shovel at the groundbreaking for what would become Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts."

* i.e., not Mamie

5/20/2009 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

What a bunch of wimps you guys are, waiting for the machismo types to pave the way so it's ok to be an artist. Andy was more macho than any of you, he strutted his stuff in front of everyone at a time when most of the American public suppressed a snigger at the word 'fag'

I cannot believe the implied insecurity expressed in the subtext of almost all of these comments. (If you carefully parse that sentence you can find a way it avoids you ;-) It seems like a number of the artists here lack any faith at all in their art, instead they are worried about being seen as 'too sensitive' or being whispered about behind their back. Oh lordy.

Really, we are whining about unfairness to women in the arts on one hand, and complaining about Michelle cutting the ribbon on the other. Michelle, the closest we been to a first lady like Jackie Kennedy in a half century. Lest anyone forget, we are in the worst political and economic crisis in over a century and we are not out of the woods yet. President Eisenhower had a bit less on his plate.

Finally, I challenge the idea that the masses don't respond, the evidence is to the contrary with US Museum attendance out drawing sports events. [NY Times]

I challenge the idea that art has somehow 'failed' because it does not 'address' someone's personal need.

I challenge the idea that arts patrons are any more decadent or spoiled or perverse than anyone reading this blog. It's nonsense.

I challenge the idea that I should care if art is considered non-masculine, call me names if you want, but call me an artist.

5/21/2009 12:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"According to Aristophanes in Plato's The Banquet, in the ancient world of legend there were three types of people.
In ancient times people weren't simply male or female, but one of three types : male/male, male/female or female/female. In other words, each person was made out of the components of two people. Everyone was happy with this arrangment and never really gave it much thought. But then God took a knife and cut everyone in half, right down the middle. So after that the world was divided just into male and female, the upshot being that people spend their time running around trying to locate their missing half."
— Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore)

5/21/2009 12:29:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

Michelle, the closest we been to a first lady like Jackie Kennedy in a half century. Exactly. Just think about it: a black woman cut the ribbon for the reopening of The American Wing at The Met. The American Wing. Black woman. Black First Lady.

Ribbon cuttings are mainly symbolic events, and this one was particularly nuanced: it's no accident that Michelle was dispatched and not the prez (sorry, the last person Obama should be referencing is Ike). An instant style icon from the get-go, Michelle is now officially ordained as Black Jackie -- she needed The Met, not the other way around. The ribbon cutting references her historical precedent, while bestowing UPON HER a certain kind of [very white, very Upper Crust, very conservative-in-the-old-sense, old money, old everything] cultural validation. It's not over yet.

Go Black Jackie. :-))

5/21/2009 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Chance Randel said...

@Tom Hering

I don't see why that might not be the case. People do like to see the world as black & white. Even if you're right it doesn't give us a WHY though... Why would the arts be considered less than ultra-macho to begin with?

@George
I never meant to suggest that anyone HERE waited for trailblazers. I would be very shocked, however, to find out that there aren't people who did just that in 50's and are doing roughly the same right now. Stop the presses! People can be limited by their anxieties.

As well - I agree with you that there was something aggressively masculine about Warhol but macho is not the word I would use to describe him.

My preference for Barack was based on the office he holds. A first Lady is lovely to have but, no matter how striking a personality, she won't bring the cache of a head of state.

5/21/2009 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The masses go to proven art, not contemporary. Do they go to the "New" Museum, or Whitney? NO, they go to the Met, MoMA and Guggenheim. And many are tourists, many from other countries, as that is the cultural "itinerary" of visitng the city. Plus the hyped large exhibits, like King Tut, and as many go to Space, Natural History and other museums, probably more than Art. All those Smithsonian Museums spread across DC and the country bring in millions.

Sports are limited in capactiy, they have a certain number of events and seats. Far more watch on TV. Sports has drawn the vast majority, and interest, of the American people because it is pure drama, and competition is our nature. Far more have played sports, and so appreciate its difficulty and athletic beauty, while even those few that have attempted art realize the sloppy skill level and limited emotional depth of contemporary art. And so, stay away, in droves.

Art now is neither masculine nor feminine, but effeminant, soft, weak, sensitive about ones own tender feelings. Art never was in the past except in decadent times, It was about us, celebrated life, or attacked that which was negative, but in positive terms. Not political nonsense, and conceptual academic jargon. Emotionaless drivel. Sports is far more intense, and yes, passionate. As the son of an athlete and an artist, and done both as coach and player, this I would know.

The patrons of the arts are more decadent as our society is, haven't you noticed this depression? Caused by these same society folks who were obsessesd with greed, and their own views of themselves, hoisted onto the art academies they fund, ideas espoused to placate their needs, their desire, their arrogant selfishness? The masses DON'T care. Why should they? Its not about us, but them.

5/21/2009 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Anonymous, you said, "Emotionaless drivel"

Why should visual art be judged according to emotions? It never has been as good at emotion as, say, literature or the performing arts have been. The power of visual art lies elsewhere. The great masterpieces of religious art, for example, were meant to teach. Not too many (if any) people have ever broken down in tears before a painting of the Last Judgment.

5/21/2009 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Charles Kessler said...

It wasn't because the Abstract Expressionists were "hard-drinking, womanizing blowhards" that they were the first United States artists to achieve international recognition. It's that they were the first to evolve a unique, powerful and identifiable art movement.

That some of them (not, for example, Motherwell, Still and Newman) were also hard-drinking, womanizing blowhards has more to do with post-war United States than anything inherent in their art.

5/21/2009 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the Pope did. If you dont, then why the hell are you in art? Pick another field. You just dont get it. If you dont feel power and passion in Demoiselles, d'Avignon, Matisse's Red Dessert, Klee's Death and Fire, or many works of Gauguins, van Goghs and Cezannes, you don't understand art.

Visual art is torn between two poles, that of the poetic and musical, when a culture is vital and growing, and the prosaic, illustrative of selfish ideas and desires, in times of decadence and decline.

We are in the latter, or were. Times are changing, and art is called for again, its been negligent for fifty years. Little worthwhile has been created. Anselm Kiefer is an exception to prove the rule. If you feel nothing before his work, which is truly Modern, not contemporary drivel, take up knitting.

Art is made with and felt by mind, body and soul. It is philosophy, science, and theology. It unifies, while prosaic arts divide, into nice neat divisions for marketing purposes, and use by the wealthy for their own amusements. These are the times we have passed through, and are now over. You want illustration, applied arts are fine, but just that, made for a practical purpose. Creative art is the unifying force of man, to define mankind, explore nature, and search for god. This is now needed once again, time to get to work.

As Obama said, it is time to leave childish things behind, and nothing has been more childish than "art".

5/21/2009 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Anonymous: "... why the hell are you in art?"

Because I'm an artist.

"Pick another field."

I don't have that option. Art is my calling.

"You just don't get it."

It's you, Anonymous, I sometimes don't get. But art? No problem.

"... you don't understand art."

See above.

5/21/2009 06:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michelle is far more woman than Jackie, who was an anorexic society chic, dolled up for an uninterested husband, caught in an arranged marriage. Only fashion types and fat housewifes liked her looks, real men went for JFKs erotic release, Marilyn. We want women built like women, not skinny waifs.

Mrs. Obama may not be the hottest thing walking, but she is a woman, something us hot blooded males appreciate after all the glazed eye Republican dames, with no sensuality whatsoever. Hillary at least was smart and fun, if rather overbearing. But far from sexy, and so the lesbian comments. Dont know if she is or isnt, dont care, but she sure as hell doesnt exude femininity. Michelle does.

We finally got a man and a woman in the White House. Thank god. Wasn't looking like there were any left in America. Cute kids too. The wife wants to swipe one, but not swirl looking enough for us, the swirl makers we are.

And possibly art is your calling, but its applied arts then, illustration. The lines between that and creative art were blurred long ago so anyone could buy a degree and pretend to be an Artiste. All great art begins, and ends with passion. Or its really design.

5/21/2009 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Anon [3:47-7:24] Look at yourself in the mirror. Where do you get off suggesting how someone else should follow their chosen life path? How sure are you, that you "get it?" What you have written* suggests the contrary and reveals the frustration and anger it has caused you.

With all due respect to everyone here, I wonder if Ed's original premise was correct, is art really viewed as so nonmasculine in the US? I'd almost bet that if you polled people, "nonmasculine" (or equiv.) would be low on the list of words characterizing artists and art. Way below "wacky" or "free spirited" or "Irresponsible"

Further, when asked why they became an artist, the most common answer was "to get laid," which reduces the masculinity question to one of who's on top :-)

5/22/2009 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Anonymous said, "... possibly art is your calling, but its applied arts then ... its really design."

So the mosaics, tapestries, stained glass windows and book illustrations of Chagall are not art. The book illustrations of Matisse, and his designs for the chapel at Vence (his masterpiece), are not art.

"All great art begins, and ends with passion."

Having done quite a lot of design work in my life, I assure you it can be a very passionate process, from beginning to end. (Excellent design can arouse passion in others, too.) But passion, by itself, doesn't make something art. It isn't even necessary to creation. Who hasn't had the experience of creating a work that was nothing but a drag from beginning to end, only to look at it months or years later and feel satisfied, even thrilled?

Art isn't as black and white - either emotionally, or in terms of applied versus fine - as you want to make it, Anonymous.

5/22/2009 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sure. Yes, I have been frustrated with the art world for decades, since I was a child and had absolutely no interest in getting involoved in its self absorbed rantings. The son of an athlete and an artist, i chose athletics. Much more pure, hard working, disciplined, and there is only one way to do it, the right way, the way that wins for the team. Sacrfice is necessary to achieve this, and strong self criticism, all virute's completely lacking in the "arts".

But change is in the air, finally. The Age of Excess is over. Times call for putting side childish things, and taking responsibility. For maturing, for art to fulfill it purpose, to bind us together, not splinter into seperate and distinct marketable groups for commerce and control by the rich, who use it for their amusements.

A new time of vigorous action and vital growth is here, to fulfill arts role in society, to define humanity, explore nature, search for god, Mind, body and soul, in musical layers of color, line and structure, to reflect what is, so that we may face it, and grow as one, to focus, inspire, and motivate our people to action. Not tell them how to do it, but allow them to make up their own minds, so they can see wht is, tearing away the falsehoods that have been perpetuated upon society. In freedom to choose, but a real choice this time, one with consequences of death and decay, or growth unified in commonality. For the future demands it now, the Age of Meism is done.

Art has failed for decades, it is time, lets get to work.

5/22/2009 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

hmmmm....you seem rather proselytistic for someone who opted out for sports, Anonymous.

As passionate as you claim to be, one would have imagined you would have worked to change things from the inside rather than cheering for change from the sidelines (to mix my metaphors somewhat cheekily). No obligation, mind you, but you'll have to forgive those in the trenches from eying your assessment with suspicion.

5/22/2009 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are who you hang with, what you do, and your word. You are on the wrong side. Those trench walls are blinding you from who you are fighting for.

It is far too corrupt, run by the very people who are the enemy. As Cezanne did, one must attack from the outside, there is no heart in the beast. What we face is the exact same enemy, in new garb, Imperial Clothing.

One can only be victorious by making what is true, and speeking up as we hold up that mirror, one we constantly look into, but the Dorian Grey's of decadence have avoided for decades. It is here now, time to pay the piper, they have destroyed what they ocveted, as they always do. And now, is time to bind together, its about US, not I.

But they have controlled the conversation, twisted its language, its like being on Firing Line, but with idiots. The originals may have been like Buckley, and see what his followers wrought. He, at the end, was dismayed by what had happened. Much as Robert Hughes and others of the founders before him have discovered. It wasnt for them to explain and define, but to present. The Pharasees of art won, but broke the Temple in the process.

War is at hand. Man must choose for himself, not be dictated too. Nottold how to think, how to feel, how to do. The choices were destroyed long ago, controlled, an illusion of freedom given. There is no true debate, but a brain washing telling each person how things are before they ahve a chance to see and feel for themselves. The Pharasees control teh situation, and direct contact is denied. So people just walk away mystified, as they know what they see, but are told differently. Humanity is smarter than that, when nit is needed, they will look and see.

That time is now. Things do not change overnight,the world is not on the clock, programmed as a cable show, though the academics would have it so.
Things are changing, outside of anyones control, and we must look out for all, not the individual now. The stakes are far too high. Our ass is in the sling. It all works together, will we get out of it, or be hurled?

Who knows? But change is finally here. It is not for me to decide, but it sure as hell calls for battle. no more cowardice, conforming, cleverness substituted for truth. Its time to take sides.

5/22/2009 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Let me know how all that works out for you.

5/22/2009 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

But change is in the air, finally.

Well I agree with that. Unfortunately, the young, the twenty somethings, are in the process of creating their own history and I seriously doubt that they are going to going t give a damn about what you think. Your generation did this as well, but your generation seems to have left you in the dust dreams were made of.

My generation, the twenty somethings, are going to redefine art as we see fit, we're going to have fun doing it. You're not going to like that either because disillusionment comes with age but evolution is born from naive belief and hope for the future.

The future doesn't demand anything.

Anon's take on meism is wrong. All great art is about identity, about the cultures identification with the artist as a person through their work. The artist functions in modern culture somewhat like the shamans of the past.

This is manifested culturally by what we call the "star system" The culture reveres the Michael Jackson's and Amy Winehouse's of the era. It also includes those artists who are more private but still create their own mythology. In other words, it is all about me. Ask Caravaggio.

5/22/2009 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are entertainers, Caravggio the god of the decadent and self absrobed. A murderer. Ask Cezanne and Michelangelo

5/22/2009 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

George said, "... disillusionment comes with age ..."

Actually, a lot of us find that disillusionment goes away with age. We become MORE engaged with the world as it is - MORE excited about the world as it is.

Generational divisions and distinctions in our culture are largely artificial (the work of product marketers). You might be surprised - and I hope you will be surprised - by the age of some of the artists who are going to redefine art.

5/22/2009 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Anon, "Ask Caravaggio" had a deeper subtext but it went over your head.

Tom,
"... disillusionment comes with age ..." does not say that only disillusionment comes with age, it just infers that particular fact is more likely to be true.

Generational divisions and distinctions in our culture are largely artificial ...

I don't think so. There is some biological evidence to the contrary. Also, I think it is hard to escape experience and assume naiveness again, not impossible but very hard. Well, not so hard if you get what I mean.

I do agree that age doesn't mater much in terms of potentialities for redefining art but I think it is much harder to do as you get older. Aside from the art-political aspects, new blood and all that, I think it's hard to escape your past history and invent a new one. Not impossible, but very hard.

A great example of this was seen in an exhibition a few years back at Pace Gallery featuring Basquiat and Dubuffet. I went to see the Basquiats, but was blown away by the Dubuffets. Dubuffet essentially reinvented himself at the age of 60, the new paintings were influential in the NY scene at that time.
I blogged it here

5/22/2009 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nah, pretty much got it, your context stuff doesn't mean anything, art jargon for excusing mediocrity.

All three you mentioned were miserable excuses for human beings, as they are all completely self consumed. All great artists are reclusive, even Picasso, who would put on a show, then disappear for long stretches to work, he knew how to market however. One has to live life, not escape it, as we build on the past, never ignore it. Thats the trademark of youth, and stupidity.

All created mythologies, but were not personal ones. They were inclusive of humanity, built of the past, updated to include all we knew, of others outside the old stuff, and knew data we had learned about our world.

Dubuffet's late work was garbage, repetitive merchandise for sale, no passion. Unlike his Art brut til about 1959, he was burned out and done, happens. Basquiat never was, a talented art student at his very best, bland scribblings of appropriated, disconnected nature the rest of the time.

5/22/2009 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

ROTFLOL

5/22/2009 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

as they are all completely self consumedoff the charts....

5/22/2009 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can I say, birds of a feather. You got your Michael Jackson and Caravagio, I got my John Coltrane and Cezanne.

Guess how wins?

Wrong again.

5/22/2009 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

most connoisseurs of Coltrane and Cezanne I know don't shrink from signing their names to their opinions...

seriously, if you're that confident in your tastes, what are you hiding from?

5/22/2009 02:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

George said: "What a bunch of wimps you guys are, waiting for the machismo types to pave the way so it's ok to be an artist. Andy was more macho than any of you, he strutted his stuff in front of everyone at a time when most of the American public suppressed a snigger at the word 'fag'"

Give me a break. First Andy turned himself into a stereotype, then art. That was an act of genius which he never received proper credit for.

O-blog-dee-blog-da

I posted a better version of this blog yesterday, but it wasn''t published for some reason. Did you censor it Ed?

5/22/2009 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

In what strange, parallel universe are Cezanne and Caravaggio at odds with one another?

5/22/2009 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

.... This is a ....
PUBLIC SERVICE
ANNOUNCEMENT:

By decree.

Anonymous Wins!

Please turn towards that person you don't know and congratulate them on winning. Also note that bitter taste in your mouth belongs to our winner.

Let's hear it
Congratulations Anonymous!

Rah! rah! rah!

Izatmachoenough?

5/22/2009 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Did you censor it Ed?I chose not to publish it, not understanding the context in which the hateful epithet therein was being used (hazard of not always having the time to re-read an entire thread), yes ... sorry for reading too quickly.

5/22/2009 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed said: "... chose not to publish it, not understanding the context in which the hateful epithet therein was being used..."

I'm not sure which part you're referring to, but I don't think I ever post anything hateful. It doesn't matter now - thank you for posting the revised version.

O-bolog-dee-blog-da

5/22/2009 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Tom WTF, it's Friday, might as well explain my own jokes.

"Ask Caravaggio" has a more complex meaning than is initially apparent. Clearly I know the stories of Caravaggio's misdeeds, and this is in part why I chose him.

First I knew it would inflame Anonymous since he considers himself a judge, maybe the sole judge, of other peoples character.

More importantly, what we have from Caravaggio are his paintings which we now judge in the present, independently form his character which we cannot experience.

If we truly want to ask Caravaggio we must be in the past, hence dead or lost, taken as an imperative (the subtext).

I suggested that The culture reveres the Michael Jackson's and Amy Winehouse's of the era.

These two people are popular examples of stars, but they do not exclude anyone else. Somehow in his rebellion against authority figures, definitely a love-hate relationship, Mr. Anonymous would like to supply his own examples as evidence he is better than the rest of us. Well, examples accepted, since for the purposes of argument they don't make any difference.

NO break on First Andy turned himself into a stereotype, then art.

Andy was smart, exceptionally talented and honest about who he was. He was open about his sexuality in a time which was becoming more accepting of difference. I seriously doubt that creating a stereotype came first with him, the art came first then the public persona. I know this from personal experience.

Anybody can create a persona, you wanna be the tough guy artist? No problem, but there is no guarantee it will make your art any good, from what I've seen more likely not. The fact is that the biggest complainers, the least generous artists make less interesting art, the two seem to go hand in hand. Not everyone of course, but most.

5/22/2009 04:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

George said...
.... This is a ....
PUBLIC SERVICE
ANNOUNCEMENT..."

For the record, I am NOT the Anon. George refers to in the public service announcement. I post anon. but always sign "O-blog-dee/blog-da".

I'm more with George and Tom's pov, on the latest go round. Finding the other anon. a bit difficult to understand.

Tom said: "In what strange, parallel universe are Cezanne and Caravaggio at odds with one another?"
Brilliant!

5/22/2009 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Donald Frazell said...

Sorry, had work to do, missed your silliness. Well, not really.

And come on now Winkie, you know exactly who I am. I am all over the internet, The Guardian, culturemonster, artnewsblog, once in a awhile, I gotta make a foray into the belly of the beast. Those who think Caravaggio and Cezanne are in any way connected, in intent, purpose, or quality really dont understand art. Creative art such as that by these two, Miles Davis, Paul Klee, Matisse, Gauguin, Thelonius Monk, none are concerned with expressing themselves, but creating works outside of themselve's, that express the world as it can be reflected in art. In art one takes one's abilities so far that one can lose ones individuality into the whole, flow explore it, be at one. Mind, body and soul.

Complete opposite, you want to be entertained, so you got perv's like MJ, Caravaggio, and that english drunk chick. Exhibitionism. Not art. There is no soul in your work, no body either, just mental games, pretending to control the world, to own it, and make art as therapy, and exhibiting your supposed individual greatness.

A Love Suprme is just the opposite, and so part of my Presentation to the Vatican in my Judgement Chapel, Cardinal Ravasi liked the paintings, just sent it as a small building, personal Judgment in question, being judged for ones sins, ones life, ones failure in responsibility and sacrifice. Words never used in contemporary art, where US is banned, "I" rules. And so, is decadent, selfish, and downright boring.

Art is about defining mankind, exploring nature, searching for god. Philosophy, Science, Theology. Mind, body and soul. Always has been, always will be. We build through music and poetry, line as melody, color as harmony, structure as rhythm. It evokes life, does not describe, control, strangle it. It triggers extreme passions in others. Not of the artist, but of life, thats an artists job. His role, as others are soldiers, bakers, candlestick makers. No better or worse. We bind our group, with Modernism, all of humanity. Purpose is found. meaning is felt. Artists dont matter, art does.

Decadent stuff always comes up, to be tossed aside in times of growth and cultural vigor, to return when decay sets in, and selfishness rules the times. You will be back, in a few decades, but your time is done, for now. Times are changing, bonding is needed, losing oneself in service of all. Sacrifice, I know you have heard of the term. Many do it, willingly and are happier for it. Parents, mentors, providers. I have done them all. Selfishness always leads to anger, frustration, avarice, while selfishness leads to joy, energy, love.

Try it sometime. A Love Supreme. I know you want to believe artists matter more than others, they dont, you dont, no more or less than any other of the 6 billion plus out there. Its not about you, its about us, humanity, at this point, getting over the Age of Excess, and vigorously advancing as a people. Or we are all doomed. We will adapt if we don't, but much destruction through war and starvation loom ahead, and you arent helping. You are taking.

Lets see, silly songs about denying babies like Billie Jean, or unifying to advance like in Miles' In A Silent Way.
mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Losers.

art collegia delenda est

5/22/2009 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

And come on now Winkie, you know exactly who I am.I did suspect as much, it's true, but being an eternal optimist had actually hoped you had returned to the mothership and fled our planet for good. Guess now that they got rid of you they're just as happy to leave you here, eh?

The only loser I see here is the one so desperate to be heard he'll try every which way to insert himself into the conversation, every way but actually be willing to listen and/or explain what he believes with any degree of generosity. It's a failing you have but a lifetime to overcome, Donald...try harder.

5/22/2009 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

"... none are concerned with expressing themselves ..."

Yet you are concerned with expressing yourself, here and elsewhere. So explain, please, why self-expression is a bad thing.

5/22/2009 05:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And again, you didn't publish my comment-which was most definitely relevant and not hateful. Ed, I feel a complex coming on. Please, I'm fragile enough - but not yet Donald Frazell. Please explain - was he the other Anon?

O-blog-dee-blog-da

5/22/2009 07:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

George said: NO break on First Andy turned himself into a stereotype, then art.

I'm saying he turned himself into a stereotype, then "art", not not just his own, but the world view of it., and in that order.

O-blog-dee-blog-da

PS: sorry ed, I didn't realize you had published my comment.

5/22/2009 07:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

When I said Abex felt feminine to me..Did I mention that I think Pop Art is gay? Come on. It has to be gay. It's GAY, man. Pop art is gay. Do you hear me?



I guess the opinion of Donald is that public vote is really cool.



Donald, I could point you to good websites about the history of the representation of christ in cinema, because I think you're the one the wrong field. Art is somewhere else because cinema took part of its power to do just the things that you describe. Neverthless, there is not a single work of art in the world that doesn't apprehend the mind, body and soul to various degrees (and yes, by mind we infer both the emotional and intellectual realms). Yes, there is soulless art. That isn't a bad thing in itself. The soul belongs to the livings, not the objects. It is perfectly understandable that
some artists wish to convey that perception in their arts, by reminding people that they are
really just seeing objects, and not simulacrums where they should project their psycho-phazed senses of passion.



You know when The Kiss Of May Irwin And John Rice was screened in 1896, people went a litttle over-the-board gaga about this film. Irwin and Rice became the first Brangelina, and people were wetting their beds at night thinking about either or both
of these actors. This is a psychological effect of cinema that it puts the audience in an intimate relationship with the actors because they are shown so large and so close onto the screen (a first for 1896). In a similar way, strong emotional and passionate response to visual arts should be taken with caution. It is not real. It is a psychological reaction because some aesthetics values or extraneous informations triggers affects of our memories
or tease ferociously with our cultural presomptions.


Jung talked of the erotic gene (linked earlier), we could
also debate of the God gene. Those are things that we should discuss with ourselves instead of just letting it all out with passion, sturm und drang. We're not in the 19th century anymore.


Cedric Caspesyan

5/22/2009 07:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I'm no expert, but shouldn't that be "ars collegia delenda est"?

5/22/2009 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Donald Frazell said, "Art is about defining mankind, exploring nature, searching for god. Philosophy, Science, Theology."

Mr. Frazell, I can see why you despair over the state of art. You believe artists should accomplish things they can't accomplish.

Philosophy, science, theology? I believe an artist's work can be informed by these disciplines. I even believe an artist can become an expert in one of these disciplines. But it would require a commitment of all his time and energy (leaving none for his art) because the disciplines of philosophy, science and theology have become highly complex - highly demanding. In other words, becoming a Renaissance man is no longer possible. An artist who dedicates his art to "defining man, exploring nature, searching for god" is going to look laughably amateur in these matters.

As an artist, if you have any real respect for philosophy, science and theology, you will leave these fields to those who have dedicated their lives to them. And dedicate your life to art. And accept the limits of the artist today.

What did the Moderns you mention and admire have to say about this?

Klee: "The artist does nothing other than gather and pass on what comes to him from his depths."

Matisse: "... to translate my emotions, my feelings, and the reactions of my sensibility into color and design ..."

Gauguin: "... the way I do my paintings ... as fantasy takes me, as the moon dictates."

Honestly, Mr. Frazell, when I look at your art, I don't get a sense of "defining mankind, exploring nature, searching for god." Why demand that others achieve what you yourself cannot?

5/23/2009 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats a little literal Ced. Just because one says god doesn't mean its in the Abrahamic sense, or any other deity. Spiritualism, though often caught up in guruistic, shamanistic shallowness, doesnt mean that a sense of god, of more, of purpose, of meaning in life, how energy creates in one more than the some of the parts, doesnt exists, And is created in great works of art. They give off their own energy, internally, a life force that makes its presence felt in a room. This is the artists ultimate goal, and totally lacking in contemporary art. The emotions are all personal, of the viewers and makers own internal desires, wants, fears, longing.

That's not art, that's a fetish. Of and for the psychologically unstable. Not the healthy. Art has always been by, and for the strong, of mind, body and soul, not wealth. But the weak took over as art wsa not needed and tehy went elsewhere. And so, they fear the strong, but its back now. For it is needed for the species to survive adn thrive, all humanities true purpose. Not self aggrandizement.

5/23/2009 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/23/2009 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

obleda,

Warhol. I'm confused I guess here on what you are saying about Warhol turning himself into a stereotype. What do you mean by that?

Early Warhol in two exhibitions I have seen. One a long time ago, at the Ferus Gallery LA in 1962, was the first exhibition of Warhol's Soup Cans. More recently, in 2005, Larry Gagosian had an exhibition Early Hand-Painted Works which were remarkable hand made, as opposed to silkscreened, paintings from 1961. In both cases we see Andy working like any other young artist solving pictorial problems and trying to find a direction.

The first Warhol review by Henry Hopkins

Andy Warhol, Ferus Gallery: To those of us who grew up during the cream-colored thirties with “Big-Little Books,” “Comic Books,” and a “Johnson and Smith Catalogue” as constant companions; when “good, hot soup” sustained us between digging caves in the vacant lot and having “clod” fights without fear of being tabbed as juvenile delinquents; when the Campbell Soup Kids romped gaily in four colors on the overleaf from the Post Script page in The Saturday Evening Post, this show has peculiar significance. Though, as many have said, it may make a neat, negative point about standardization it also has a positive point to make. To a tenderloin oriented society it is a nostalgic call for a return to nature. Warhol obviously doesn’t want to give us much to cling to in the way of sweet handling, preferring instead the hard commercial surface of his philosophical cronies. But then house fetishes rarely compete with Rembrandt in esthetic significance. However, based on formal arrangements, intellectual and emotional response, one finds favorites. Mine is Onion. --Henry T. Hopkins, © Artforum, September 1962, vol. 1, n. 4 Source.

Almost all the writing that comes after this gets involved in the Warhol myth, the various descriptions and anecdotes borrowed and repeated. Hopkins really doesn't say very much about the paintings but he succinctly describes the cultural environment which allowed them to come into being. I can relate to the images Warhol used, they were part of the visual and pictorial environment of that age, Warhol used them because he liked them. More importantly, he was a good editor knowing both what to do and what not to do.

Warhol fashioned his career on the ad agency model, his factory, and I suspect that at some point the fright wig Warhol persona was adopted as a psychological defense mechanism against the public. Any young artist who has even a small taste of notoriety will understand how confusing this can be.

So I can understand why one might attribute some importance to the Warhol character, as the figurehead of the Factory which produced the Warhols. However I still think that in the early sixties Warhol was just making art like any other young artist -- the Warhol of the future did not exist then. His overt display of sexuality was congruent with the era, it was the Sixties.

5/23/2009 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Herring, you already admitted not feeling art, so what exactly, is your point?

5/23/2009 05:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

I agree with Tom. Why ask artists to do reverse mathematics? What does that say about people who do that?


I know what you mean by "God" Donald, but do not underestimate a good blog about the representation of Christ in cinema. Film can be more than entertainment, and is much more fit from now on to reach the masses. For visual arts to try to compete with film on matters of common grounds and universalism would be absurd. Art doesn't move in every cities, and you can't rent it on DVD. Visual arts are for people who can move to the few cities where it is shown. It's rather elitist by geography alone.
That's why it has become a field for intellectuels or "aesthetes",
because it has now become a little free of the role of trying to reach and emotionally move the mass (if it ever was the case, that art should reach the mass, but before artists had to make sure uneducated kings and patrons would like their art).

Us is about each and everyone of us. It's very good that people celebrate their identity and who they are rather than trying to
find messages that are suit to anyboby. Sex, Life, Love, Death: we all heard about that. Sometimes an artist is interesting because they relate to something absolutely unimpertinent that nobody ever cared about. "That"
is also "Godly", the uneven, the futile, the rejected detail. Pointing toward the front of the church is quite philistine. "God" laughs, if you want to hear it. Your ridiculous pretentition, your rewards, your thirst for grandeur and perfection. This is not where "God" is, in the best of arts. You've been fooling yourself all along, Donald.


Cedric Caspesyan

5/24/2009 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Donald, you're not really using the old "ad hominem" switcheroo again, are you? Oh well. I'll just repeat my questions: Why place a burden on artists that they shouldn't have to carry - and wouldn't be very good at carrying if they tried (when compared with the most creative people in the now-highly-complex fields of science, philosophy and theology)? Is it right to ask others artists to carry a burden that you yourself can't carry (judging by the evidence of your own art)?

5/26/2009 10:55:00 AM  

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