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Post #536 • May 11, 2005, 6:55 AM • 20 Comments
Remember the whole exchange around Art Since 1900 that brought together Iconoduel and Artblog.net readers in a Superman-Spiderman-like one-issue fight followed by team-up? Dan Hopewell got a reply from Yve-Alain Bois. Artblog.net will continue to do its part to provide coppable phraseologies. Go Dan!
May 11, 2005, 6:57 PM
Bois's response (it looks genuine to me) presents himself as one indeed interested in the object as well as theory. It is reasonable but a little disingenuous, and not entirely convincing.
He states that he has "been called a formalist all my scholarly life", takes a swipe at Hilton Kramer and points out that in 1990 he wrote "a warning against the effect of undigested theory". That's "undigested" theory. If it is digested it is OK, presumably, but if one follows "digested" matter any further one might want to consider a more appropriate construction.
He comes to Krauss's defense by stating "I defy anyone to describe Caro's Early One Morning better than she did in Passages of Modern Sculpture", but neglects to say that this was published 28 years ago, when Krauss was hardly what she is today. He defends Buchloh by saying "there is nothing I like more than going with him to see an Odilon Redon show, for example, and spend hours in it commenting on every grain of pastel". Of course examining "every grain" is how these people manage to miss the point in the first place. Oh, well.
He concludes with " I enjoy much better going to look at painting (and in enjoy, there is the word joy, if you see what I mean)." I suppose this refers to my comment on Iconoduel that "They are not connoisseurs because they do not respect the art and there is no joy in their souls." Well, OK; I'll take his word for it.
May 11, 2005, 7:17 PM
i don't know what it would take for an actual dialogue to take place here. you get sarcasm from one, and disbelief from the other. if bois claims to enjoy sitting in a gallery for hours to enjoy simply what makes a painting up visually, how is this person "missing the point" as old pro claims. and i find it hard to take when old pro dismisses krauss' analysis from 28 years ago when he judges contemporary work through the lens of painting one hundred years ago. if krauss' analysis is irrelevent because its dated, what does that say about his beloved fauves?
as for jack, it just sounds like trash talk to me. is that the best you can do in response? i know, i know, it's much cooler to appear indifferent when the people you bitch about get involved however peripherally (?) in the ongoing discussion. you just keep rockin' on man. and i mean that.
May 11, 2005, 7:51 PM
You make a habit of missing the point, yourself, Craig.
I did not say that he was not enjoying examining every little grain, I was merely implying that examining every little grain is similar to the way these people go about talking about art, and by doing so they miss the point of art, which is experiential, not analytic. I thought that would be clear, but one can never be clear enough, it seems.
As for Krauss, my point (could I have made it more clear?) was not that I dismiss Krauss's discussion of the Caro sculpture, as you say I did, but that she is not doing that kind of thing any more. My liking the Fauves is completely irrelevant to the discussion.
I enjoy disagreement, but misunderstanding just necessitates explanation, which is boring and time-consuming.
May 11, 2005, 8:09 PM
Craig, you must allow me to derive some amusement, however paltry, from the perambulations of the great and mighty (at least to some). It is the very least they deserve. I do not expect your approval, nor do I seek it. As fo my appearing indifferent to such founts of wisdom, you're mistaken. I AM indifferent.
May 11, 2005, 8:30 PM
okay, okay. i didn't mean to offend you. thanks for the clarification. sorry i'm such a hot head.
May 11, 2005, 8:32 PM
and jack: alright fair enough.
May 11, 2005, 8:41 PM
Some observations on the Kuspit, Danto theory discussion which I posted earlier on Timothy Quigleys blog
If you step out of time to look at the contemporary and the historical what would you find? Start simply, we would have a "past" and a "future" with the "present" as a boundary between the two. A more complex model would probably need to be more like an aggregation of multiple sets of uniquely personal past-future models. The "present" is the foam between the "past" and the "future".
Donald Kuspit argues that the contemporary is that which precedes, resists, and lies outside history, this is what I describe as the foam of the "present" By foam, I am implying that the present is constantly mutable and indeterminate, it is there but hard to pin down.
By definition, the "present" cannot have a history because it is a boundary condition which is infinitely subdividable. As the present moves through time it becomes history. We may not like the characteristics of this "history", it may not fit our desires for a taxonomy with concisely packaged descriptions but it will be history never the less.
The perceptual span or time experience of the "present" is not very large, trying to bind a categorical definition like "postmodern" with the "present" will fail logically. From this standpoint, the perception that "there can be no history of postmodern art" is illogical and therefor false.
The idea that there "is no longer any such thing as the judgment of history" is presumptuous. It assumes that the future historians will view the current critical argument as true. This seems highly unlikely and the present critical theories and constructs will be viewed as, a bias or artifact of our particular moment in historical time. In other words, there will be a judgement of history.
Dantos conception of the posthistorical makes more sense to me.
The advent of photography initiated a radical change in the way the culture could create images.
For thirty thousand years, the cultural process of creating an image was the purview of the shaman-artist. While its is true that anyone with a marking stick could make an image, the cultural images, the bison on the wall, the altarpiece, the still life, etc were produced by "shaman-artists" with a command of the craft.
The advent of mechanical reproduction, specifically photography, slowly democratized the process of image creation. I hesitate to use the phrase "simplified the process" but this was also the case.
The result of this change in the means of production has been an exponential increase in the number of images in the culture. Moreover, since the early 60s the development of electronic media has further accelerated this process. The posthistorical world is the consequence of the information cross linking initiated by the advent of communication revolution which started in earnest when television saturated the culture. We live in an image soup. The posthistorical must encompass the historical because the historical is part of the image soup.
Since just the act of producing an image appears to be historical, a greater consequence of the posthistorical will be how the artist defines his relationship with the image soup. The artist need not define this relationship specifically, i.e. work from a theory. He or she must have some intuitive awareness, that in the image soup, anything could be art, and a primary issue is to create a separation from the background noise.
I suspect that what we call "pluralism" is the first manifestation of the separation process as individual artists focused on issues or aspects of the culture they found compelling. The changes implied by the concepts of the "posthistorical" are profound and will require more extensive analysis from a theoretical standpoint. This change in perspective should encompass both the past and future modes. Again, I find myself sympathetic with Craig Francis viewpoint that a dialog can be productive.
May 11, 2005, 8:59 PM
Oldpro, re: the 'digestion' of theory... Perhaps you're right about the poorness of this term. I haven't, of course, read the piece in question, but I suspect a clue to his point can be found in the book blurb I quoted:
Warning against the uncritical adoption of theoretical fashions and equally against the a priori rejection of all theory, Bois argues that theory is best employed in response to the specific demands of a critical problem.
(Speaking of attending to the particular.)
Re: appreciation down to the finest grain... You may take this to exemplify an overly analytic approach to art, but I saw it as little more than a rhetorical (and hyperbolic) insistence on Buchloh and Bois' maximal attention to the object (as their appreciation thereof was really what was in question). How would you like him to express his pleasure in the experience of the work? Do you require a testimonial to tears or ejaculatory joy?
Jack... Still too cool for school, I see, though never too cool to say so. (With apologies to the guideline gods.)
Finally... Franklin, shouldn't the proper, triumphalist gloss on this thing be: "October reads blogs!!"? That would be appropriately hyperbolic (all "death to the dinosaur media" and what have you).
May 11, 2005, 9:59 PM
Sorry if I'm not pious enough for you, Dan. But never fear, the pious are always with us, even on this blog. They'll chime in sooner or later, and you can go sit next to them and be comforted.
May 11, 2005, 10:24 PM
Sorry if I'm not pious enough for you, Dan.
I'm not looking for piety. I'm just impressed at the consistency with which you so loudly declare your indifference.
May 11, 2005, 10:32 PM
Dan, I guess that would be the proper triumphalist gloss, but I suspect instead that some grad student of Bois et al. reads blogs and brought it to his attention. My compliments go to you for parsing the issues clearly enough to merit a response.
Who called him a formalist all his life? His colleagues down at the ivy-covered hall? As I admitted somewhere on Iconoduel, Bois can write description apart from interpretation and I suspect that many of the straighter passages of AS1900 belong to him. But man, I've known some heavy-duty formalists, and they couldn't interface with what goes on at October if they wanted to.
We have to stop and appreciate the fact that if not for blogging, Bois' and Oldpro's opinions would not have have come into contact like this.
May 11, 2005, 10:49 PM
Dan, I guess that would be the proper triumphalist gloss, but I suspect instead that some grad student of Bois et al. reads blogs and brought it to his attention.
Well... yeah. Bois pretty much says as much. But since when have facts gotten in the way of blog triumphalism? Jeez... if we go in for such reasonable discernment, we'll never achieve decadent media hegemony!
May 11, 2005, 11:13 PM
I suspect that many of the straighter passages of AS1900 belong to him.
My glance through the text at Borders one day suggested that they split the work on a year-by-year/section-by-section basis, the title/contents page for each decade tagging each year/section with the intitials of its individual author (I really had to look hard to find this).
This is, by the way, what opened them up to the criticism regarding the quality of attention afforded the Harlem Renaissance (where only that section and one devoted to Rivera and the Mexican muralists were penned by a fifth and all but uncredited author).
May 11, 2005, 11:33 PM
Right, right... I wrote "Decadent Media Hegemony" on a sticky note and hung it on my monitor next to my passwords, ssn, and mom's maiden name. No more forgetting that one.
I forgot to remark on Bois' world-weariness at his crowd's mistreatment at the hands of history -
I was particularly incensed at Whitford's review in the Times, when he complained that Greenberg was more discussed than Matisse: this just showsed that the only thing he read in the book was the index, for there is three entries entirely devoted to Matisse (1900, 1906, 1910) and another (1944) in which he gets the lion's share. But that's the way the cookie crumble and has crumbled for so long now that it's no use protesting.
Well, come on, Whitford read more than the index, and what, is Bois' office chair at Harvard insufficiently plush? My heart goes out to his hiney. Meanwhile, the current issue of October is an Ed Ruscha tongue-bath, and next issue we have Barthes, Duchamp, and LA filmmakers. Poor dear, that someone might find him and his crowd responsible for the theory-uber-alles ethos that makes the contemporary art museum such a boring place to visit so much of the time.
May 12, 2005, 2:05 AM
Ah, but you are looking for it, Dan (#11), only it's your kind of piety, which is natural enough, though I'm hardly obliged to comply. Besides, what would you have me be, two-faced? Wishy-washy? Hypocritical? Or perhaps simply SILENT? Should I be prim, proper and polite enough to avoid ruffling the fleece of the vast flocks of PC sheep and their dubious shepherds? Sorry, can't help you.
Maybe you just object to my style, which is evidently too strident for you (and not a few others, I dare say). Trouble is, when I find someone or something noxious, not to mention obnoxious, I don't take it well, and I react accordingly. Not very tolerant or pluralistic of me, I admit, but with industrial quantities of BS being thrown around with gleeful abandon by so many, I'm not about to turn the other cheek and smile beatifically while I'm being bombarded with shit. Shit really bothers me, you see.
But never mind. Let's just say I'm not your sort, and you're not mine. It happens (frequently). That's why I attend to some blogs and not others, as we all do. Natural selection at work, I suppose. Besides, what do you care about me, when you've managed to get a nod from the illustrious M. Bois? I expect even Tyler Green is impressed, if not envious. You can imagine how impressed I am (not), but I don't even have a hyphenated name. I'm just Jack, and Tyler Green doesn't know me from Adam. You're better off sticking to the right crowd, and leaving us intransigents be.
May 12, 2005, 2:40 AM
Dan, my comment on "digestion" was mean to be scatalogical humor, nothing more.
Sorry I can't participate more on this lively discussion. For the time being I got no time.
May 12, 2005, 3:40 AM
Address the writing, not the writer. Not even in self-defense.
May 12, 2005, 5:52 AM
"Theorie Unter Alles" might be the title of my next show. "Unter" is "under" in German.
May 12, 2005, 11:57 AM
i like to draw God's machines in person... thereby creating pages of caca and those whom I love can't even trade them for food and shelter.
May 11, 2005, 6:57 PM
Ooooh! A response! From the man himself! Did it come with an 8 x 10 glossy? Or at least an autographed dust jacket? That would just be too fabulous! I'm shivering from the excitement of the very concept!!! I mean, it's not like getting a theoretical diagram drawn by Krauss herself, but THAT would probably be too overwhelming anyway. We're only mere mortals, after all. The Olympian deities can only condescend so far.
The short version: So, what's the weather forecast for this weekend?