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Post #547 • May 27, 2005, 6:55 AM • 54 Comments

Tonight Leonard Tachmes is having an opening of the work of Erika Morales and Carlos Rigau. Tachmes has a new website designed by Leyden Rodriguez's company Fulano, and I'm sure its astonishing similarity to Gagosian's website is purely coincidental.

Ingalls (125 NW 23 Street) also has an opening tonight of work by Robert Wyndam Bucknell & Viktor Wynd.

Help a girl out - Vanessa Garcia, an artist whose move to Miami from New York was noted here, is having a two-day show of her work at the Four Ambassadors (825 Brickell Bay Drive) this weekend, Saturday and Sunday 10:30 AM to 6 PM. Go forth and buy generously.

This weekend is the last one that you can view the exquisite Olitskis up at the Goldman Warehouse (404 NW 26 Street; Sat/Sun 11 - 4) before the show comes down and they close for the summer. If you haven't seen this, you really need to get yourself down there.

Next week a highly beta version of Go See Art launches, obviating the need for further roundups and inspiring great rejoicing among the masses.

Until then, add your own.



beltranovich van Floridanopolis

May 27, 2005, 5:29 PM

Morales, Rigau, Garcia...Viva Latinos!



May 27, 2005, 6:28 PM

I don't think any similarity
between the websites you
mention is significant -
much less astonishing...



May 27, 2005, 6:32 PM

wow nice web site.
I feel like everyone is graphic designer in these days.



May 27, 2005, 6:32 PM

wow nice web site.
I feel like everyone is graphic designer in these days.



May 27, 2005, 7:06 PM

FRC - similar warm grey, similar or same type face, almost identical centered 4-part squares. I'd say the similarity is pretty definite, if not astonishing.



May 27, 2005, 7:22 PM

I think it's the best gallery web-site in Miami!!



May 27, 2005, 8:20 PM

It undoubtedly is, Daniel. Not that that's saying much.

Unrelated but sort of roundup-ish: you know how hyperlinks to PDF files appear with a little warning that the link is a PDF? As in: Casio Digital Paintbrush Specs (PDF, 3 MB). I think something similar should be used for links to Scene & Herd. Like: "I'd like to see a statistical graph of the relative fortunes of performance art and air guitar. (S&H, 40 IQ)."



May 27, 2005, 8:51 PM

Franklin - Unless I'm mistaken, the Scene & Herd post is saying air guitar contests are on the rise as performance art is on the decline, making the slaughteringly hilarious implication that air guitar contests are essentially the cultural equivalent of performance art, and vice versa. I found the rest of the post similary funny.



May 27, 2005, 9:13 PM

I'm sure you could find dozens of web sites that use that same basic look. There's nothing that unique about black and grey squares. "Broadband required" is pretty lame, though. How about a "Poor people kindly fuck off" sign for the door?



May 28, 2005, 5:45 AM

I did the same today, the roundup from Chelsea

The best show on this day was Joan Mitchell at Cheim Read Very nice.

Also impressive was Neo Rauch at David Zwirner.

Impressive works on paper by HEIDI McFALL at Annina Nosei Gallery They had a mood of eerie perfection.

A bit of a disappointment was Jasper Johns at Matthew Marks.

AtRamis Barquet A show of paintings by Luis Cruz Azaceta.

Sliding back more towards the early photorealism was was Malcolm Morley at Sperone Westwater. Ok, but seemed a bit tame now.

A plesent show of collage based abstract paintings by Michel Alexis at Stephen Haller



May 28, 2005, 6:10 PM

George, keep sending these sites; it's interesting to see what is going on.



May 28, 2005, 7:49 PM

Oldpro~ I had a nice chat with Stephen Haller. He has an eye. At the time, I felt he has a sensibility which might look favorably on some of the artists which were in the Abstraction in Miami show at Dorsch. I had never met him before, but seeing me thumb through the gallery catalogues, he took the time to talk. It was a plesent experience.



May 28, 2005, 8:22 PM

George, thank you. Those Joan Mitchells look especially nice.

Alesh, I was going to talk about that in terms of a usability problem, but I think you summed it up hilariously.



May 29, 2005, 2:46 AM

"Broadband required" is like "valet parking required" or "bottled water required if you want water." Unless the establishment in question is VERY sure that customer demand is VERY high, it's a VERY bad idea (not that it's a good idea in any case).



May 29, 2005, 2:56 AM

if you cant afford broadband, you cant afford art...



May 29, 2005, 2:57 AM

its a gallery not a library...



May 29, 2005, 3:01 AM

did anyone see the show, any thoughts, comments??



May 29, 2005, 3:27 AM

Jack~ did anyone out there with just dialup actually try Tachmes new website? It looked to me like the bband requirement is probably just based on the loadingtime for Flash. What I hate is when they do a browser check and say sorry get a different browser, click. The NY Times tellse you the page will look funny but still feeds the page.

For awhile, Barbara Gladstone's website was, well snooty slick. The page opened and the type dimmed down until I couldn't read it, drove me nuts and I quit looking in. Well, I had my moment at the Armory Show when I ran across a booth for exhibit-E the website designers.
"Did you guys do the Gladsone website?" I asked.
Yes! they said proudly.
I replied back, rather loudly over the din "Well it sucks, you can't read anything because you guys got too cute with the text!"
We discussed it. I checked it recently and they actually changed it. How about that, sombody actually paying attention to the customer. (exE not BG)

Tachmes, site looks ok to me, I'm not a fan of the overly fancy approach but it actually looks ok (and a tiny bit like LG at the open) Now if only someone would light a fire under Dorsch...



May 29, 2005, 5:14 PM

George, \ I talked to Haller some time ago but nothing came of it. He has an eye, as you said, and he is very engaging and personable, not at all the kind of asshole dealer we were talking about here recently.

However, when you look at his artists, good as many of them are, you notice a certain flaccidness and timidity, a disinclination to "push" painting, as exemplified by Pollock in his day, or by the recent Olitskis in the Goldman show. This may be his personal take or it may have to do with sales. It is disappointing when a dealer gets close and doesn't grab the ring.



May 29, 2005, 7:23 PM

Oldpro, I don't disagree with your assessment of the painters he shows. That was also my take. The stuff is all very tasteful visually. Maybe too much so. For me, a lot of the work looked like "nice paintings" for filling up an empty wall somewhere.
I think the notion of "pushing" the painting, to the boundaries of expectation is the right attitude. Ron Ehrlich's works (among the others) tend to stay well in the safe zone of expectations. If abstraction, in any guise, is to forge ahead and reengage the audience, staying in the safe zone won't play. At some point, one has to work in a territory that's so uncomfortable it's scary, then stuff can happen (and then it eventually gets comfortable again)



May 30, 2005, 12:36 AM

George, I hadn't tried it till you suggested it, but even though I have a dial-up conection it seems to work, as far as I can tell (unless there are hidden features only visible to those with broadband).

And I agree, if a gallery has a website, it needs to be current. Otherwise, it just annoys people when they visit.



May 30, 2005, 1:56 AM

After thinking about it for awhile, of all the shows I saw in the last two days, Neo Rauch was the most interesting top me. It's a different deal than Joan Mitchell who is securely grounded in a historic style. Rauch is pushing painting beyond POP and unlike many others he knows what he's doing.



May 30, 2005, 2:31 AM

George, I got to take issue with you re Rauch. he knows what he is doing all right, but it isn't making interesting art, not for me, anyway. it reminds me of the 2nd and 3rd generation surrealism I used to see in NY in the 50s, all of which is mercifully forgotten now, another version of the aimless "weird" attitudinizing going around now, that "hey, what's going on here, with all these funny things put together, it must be significant and meaningful" type thing. Reminds of of all those awful European Existentialist "auteur" movies of the 40s and 50s. And they are not painted well enough to be interesting esthetically. I am so tired of this kind of thing it has become actually annoying to see them. And they are COLD as ice, not as cold as Richter, but close.

Anyway, just an opinion.



May 30, 2005, 3:17 AM

Oldpro, OK, here we go

IMO, Rauch's work is the closest to my sensibility and as a result his painting is the most interesting around.

Surrealism or not, POP or not, that is the issue, the image is the scaffold for the painting, the hook for the audience. Around now, I would expect a Link "sell out" remark but wait what the fuck is a painting supposed to do? Just lie there like a French whore? Come on, it's gotta do more than that. The lineage from Surrealism to DaDA to POP is clear, so what is the next step AFTER we acknowledge the "other" media as a cogenerator of cultural images? Come on, what is the subject of a painting?

What are the requirements for a great painting? To me it is the time to bring back painting in its full dress, not just using some isolated aesthetic aspects but with all the great historically characteristic grandeur of the great masters.

Otherwise why bother?

Take a hard look at Neo Rauch's paintings with a post historical view. By this I mean new painting must be viewed not only in its historical painterly terms but also in terms of twentieth century imagism. I wouldn't get too hung up in the subject matter unless I was a Ph.D. candidate, all that is required is there. His color is incredible, synthetic, process, natural and quirky, its consciously running way past the post pop fauve palate gamut. The compositions are complex and varied, certainly not boring. The transition between pictorial spaces is really cool AND NOT a window on the world like so much figurative painting today.

If one is a painter intent on changing paintings path, then I think we are at the fork in the road, the point where we must admit what we expect from a painting and how it is to interact in the culture. At the moment no one owns the territory but Rauch has staked out his.



May 30, 2005, 3:27 AM

And here the question of taste comes in. The trouble with the newest art and its critical champions is that fundementally they have no real breadth of taste. These people are devoted to fanaticisms, catchwords, all manner of taking themsevles too seriously.



May 30, 2005, 3:32 AM

mather~ OK, stand up for your opinions or challange mine. I have been painting for 35 years, it is all I ever wanted to do. Everything else I did, I did so I could paint. What it always came down to was why? What was this process? This project? this practice which so consumes me? You want to talk about fanaticisms or catchwords, ok let's go, but get specific.



May 30, 2005, 3:55 AM

The trouble with the newest art is that it pokes you in the eye.



May 30, 2005, 4:22 AM

George, you seem to couch your opinion in some kind of historical terms, as if Rauch is the ultimate "now". I don't even agree with that - I think his stuff is as dated as all getout - but my problem is putrely visual - the subject matter is corny and the painting is cold. I guess we've both been painting long enough to have well-grounded opinions, so all I can say is I simply find the pictures, weak, annoying and unpleasant, and you don't. he may be the coming savior of painting. More power to him. I just don't like his work and have a hard time even taking it seriously.

Maybe someone else has an opinion...



May 30, 2005, 4:23 AM

And, hey, wait a muinute, this stuff doesn't "poke me in the eye". I wish it did!



May 30, 2005, 4:26 AM

Painting at the Boundary. The trouble with the newest art is that it isthe newest art. Oh my, it's so stylish, so rave, so cool, so down and Vogue. The issues are NOT limited to the "newest" art, a time poke in your eye. Ultimately painters, oh painters, as a surrogate for any artist, must be true to themselves and to their timelessness. Oh how I love that now! Oh wow! How I love thet new, that mysterious now, the elusive new, boundary condition between this past and that future. Oh! please! this is where I live on the condom of universality. Suck that into the metaphor machine. Yoda, what does it all mean?



May 30, 2005, 4:32 AM

Oldpro~ Nothing historical on my part. I do believe that a painting is a complex mechanism and that all of its attributes are available to the task of creating a transcendent experience. That is what it is all about.


that guy

May 30, 2005, 4:52 AM

Rauch never did much for me. bad color, layout and his overall ineptness is too apparent. If he is our next great harbinger of painting, we are in some serious guano.



May 30, 2005, 4:57 AM

Mather's on to something, although I think at least part of the problem is that calling some art new is itself a kind of catchphrase. I made a painting last week. It's new. It's part of what's going on. But some people continue to think of me as an old-style painter. That's fine, but I live in the moment just like they do and as such am part of contemporaniety.

I definitely think that a lot of people substitute catchwords and taking themselves too seriously when regarding art, and that this is an old problem - I've seen some horrendous things written in defense of abstraction and even Impressionism. People with literary minds are prone to this. They nearly always get it wrong. (I'm thinking of Stephane Malllarme as an example.) The contemporary wrinkle is that once the artist's idea of quality becomes too complex, false, corrupted, or sidelined, the art has little chance to function and the appreciation of it becomes utter blather.

Another thing - newness is a phony virtue. It looks like a virtue, because artists generally work hard to innovate and not overly resemble any predecessor, and that requires some pursuit of originality for its own sake. But doing so does little to gurantee quality in the outcome; the hard work in and of itself is more likely to accomplish that. It's tricky, because you want to innovate, but it can blow up on you - you will more likely make something novel instead of innovative. It can be hard to tell the difference.

I have no opinion of Rauch. In reproduction, it looks like the kind of post-pop stuff that doesn't interest me, but it also looks quite a bit more muscular than what I've seen around the Miami galleries over the last couple of months. I'll admit it: I've been thinking of much of it as jerks on paper, and I mean that in the masturbatory sense. But I've been super pissed off this week.



May 30, 2005, 5:07 AM

Bad color? Whoa! Based on what? Naturalistic representation?
Color, the palette, carries its own information, as a reference, maybe as a nudge of memory which can evoke an experience. This experience can be in the natural world or in the colors of the culture. It all carries a tone.

Let's get down to specifics, what about the "layout"? Classically, we would call it composition, what's the problem here?

Ineptness? Maybe, I'm more generous than you, clue me in on this.

What I find interesting is that nothing I see in paintings, like those of Rauch, is exclusive. To the contrary, I see it as inclusive.



May 30, 2005, 5:38 AM

Franklin~ I spend a lot of time thinking what paintings is about. I don't have filter for "new" This discourse flirts with this temporal definition as if it were a required quality.

It's about being caught on the catchwords. This is not what I am inferring. In truth, "old-style" vies with "new style" for a crumb, but not the resonant tone, of greatness. I singled out Rauch for a reason. He is painting with no fear. By this I mean, that he is resonant with multiple aspects of his work. This is a requirement for great work but it is inclusive in scope. As such the qualities of "the new" or "old style" are interchangeable and not necessarily a defining aspect of greatness.

Greatness is what it is all about.



May 30, 2005, 7:17 AM

Oh, man, "no fear"?

Sounds like THE RUBELL STORY, the gripping saga of the collectors who were NOT AFRAID (the violins swell and the French horn sounds a distant plaintive note in a minor key as the sun sinks slowly in the west...)



May 30, 2005, 3:39 PM

Franklin, I'm partially with you on #33. As a former student of art classes, I allways considered how much info I was recieving from instructors as opinion, bias, and personal insecurities on their part. Sometimes it seems that criticism is too learned, and well, easy.
I've often agreed with others that the comments on this blog are too self serving and defensive, that's why artists should not critique Art and why there are critics, dealers, currators, writers, and other middle people who are better suited to do so. Maybe they all suck too, but not as much, right?
I've always liked most contemporary art that museums and galleries display. I'm allways surprised and pleased to see and learn something, even if it reflects what is contemporary or in a magazine. (Come to think of it, was'nt old pro in a couple of mags before, and was'nt this then contemporary? )
Most work does not fit to my taste however - taste is personal and although people have more experiences as time goes on - they refine THEIR own taste but often make judgements based on a personal opinion, and disreguard the intensions of the individual who made the thing. Too P.C. right?
Quality is allways visible in great craft and the care that one takes with their subject(s) and materials of choice is the most objective basis to guage an evaluation on. As the world is constantly providing newness in terms of subjects, information and technology, and lived feelings, new things will speak as artworks when sensitivity and focus are apparent in the craft. Movements and styles belong to the voice of the gatekeepers from yesterday - holding on to what is known (learned) while exerting dislike towards that which life moves too quickly for complete understanding.
Maybe post-pop-stuff has another hundred years left, with many slight deviations, mutations and material variations.
Thanks for the jab though!



May 30, 2005, 4:00 PM

Oldpro~ Come on, I didn't say anything about collectors, let's not go there. I did mean that I felt the recent works by Neo Rauch were confidently painted. There is a lot of variation in the color schemes and compositions. Sure one can say "it looks like so-n-so" but that's par for the course in a medium with a history. I think there is a danger for us senior artists (I'm 60) dismissing something now the same way we did on out youth. When IO was in school, everyone nixed anything cubist, no one wanted to take anything slightly surrealist seriously. Geez, that was two generations ago, rauch wasn't even born yet. We live in an era where history is ever accessible and is part of the present. It is a subject for the artist.

I can understand how someone might not like Rauch, that's ok we all have our own personal tastes. I do have a problem with any position which attempts to restrict the options open for painting. As such, I wouldn't characterize Franklins work as old-style painting. It situates itself in the context differently but it still is in the dialog which includes Neo Rauch. I think I'm more generous than most when I go out to the galleries to look. At least that's how it seems to my companions. On the other hand, I have always been interested in Jasper Johns work and this time he failed to live up to my expectations. It's not that the paintings were technically bad, they just felt flat, like he was out of gas. Seeing the Rauch paintings shortly afterwards was a treat, there was a lot there to consider.



May 30, 2005, 4:19 PM

I am not a fan of Rauch. His work is simply ok. Heavy laden, overwrought,
and empty all at the same time: that is an accomplisment. His work brings to mind 3 others who I also don't fancy so much. Paul Delvaux, Eric Fischl and Mark Tansey. Tansey being my least favorite and most incompetent. I see or feel very little passion. Dry,dead, and calculated.



May 30, 2005, 4:28 PM

One thing is interesting to me, I wrote a little about an artist with a bit of current press, it was about my opinion of the work as an artist not about the catch phrases, which I know you can all read anywhere.

Another blogger, Chris Ashley was in NYC recently and posted pics of his trip including this one of Rauch.

I used the phrase post-pop, only as an extension of the timeframe, not in a critical sense. I do think one of the great acheivements of POP art was the reintroduction of the subject back into painting. as such it seems like a good thing to me not as a problem.


that guy

May 30, 2005, 5:08 PM

beWare, I'd add David Salle to that list. If we put our heads together we could come up with a lot more by your well described qualities.



May 30, 2005, 5:36 PM

George, I did not mention the 2-generation-old surrealists to imply that it was not a permissible way to paint, just that it was tired by the time it appeared and that it is discouraging to see it return again in a highly-touted painter. To my mind it did then and does now appeal to the same kind of degraded taste.

Beware brought up Paul DelVaux, whose work is a good example of what I am talking about and who may not be familiar to our readers. If you search the name on Google images you will see what I mean, and there are others of the time who are even closer in feeling to the Rauch type picture. This is the kind of thing the AE painters were up against during the time - late 40s, early 50s - when they were doing their best work. Then, as now, my friends and I hated the stuff.

Jordan, when you talk about how everything is "personal taste" and then refer to "great craft" don't you sense some kind of contradiction? Relative and absolute seem mutually exclusive to me, but we all seem to go on and on talking relative and behaving absolute. I think it is OK, perhaps unavoidable, to do this, but we have to be more aware of what we are doing.



May 30, 2005, 5:50 PM

George I looked at the Chris Ashley site and was pleased to see an excellent discussion of Gainsborough's painterliness. I will read him further.

Thanks for providing these interesting links.



May 30, 2005, 5:57 PM

George - I can give you a specific reason I dislike Rauch. I've seen his earlier work in person, and I took a look at the Zwirner link you gave above, so I'll try to comment based on everything I've seen.

Conceptually I understand his means and his methods. He uses surrealism as a weapon of iconoclasm, to undercut the Social Realism of the East Germany in which he grew up and was educated. He paints in a brooding, cold style, perhaps again to directly insult the mismanaged paperwork dictatorship of his fatherland's previous incarnation, but he also puts his own self in the paintings. He shows you the way an artist might try to work under such conditions. He tries to show how such conditions can still lead to artistic thought and output. He shows you his thoughts and his own love for art and expression, despite the experience of his youth, or even perhaps because of it. I "get" all that.

I also respect him inasmuch as I recognize his symbolism has struck a chord among collectors, and his melancholy soul-searching has made an impact. I don't begrude him his success. I also understand he has very good working habits, he takes his craft seriously despite the sarcasm of his imagery, and does not try to take shortcuts to art, so all this is for the better.

But aesthetically there's one specific reason I don't like his work. His newer works draw directly on the styles of the Old Masters -- natural colors, realistic figures (even if ultimately surreal), dark backgrounds with highlighted subjects, rounded figures and landscape elements in formal postures, heightened chiaroscuro, balanced figures against grounds, etc, etc -- so I think it's fair to compare them directly.

I won't say his works are clumsier than those, but they're a bit flatter. I won't say they're less dramatic (the old masters were hams, I admit), but they're certainly distant. But these aren't my reasons for disliking his work. The main reason is that the figures don't interrelate with each other. My eye feels fenced out. In one work the figures stand parallel, in another they're orthogonal, and in another they have no discernable relationship whatever.

Perhaps this is intentional, perhaps he wants to keep the viewer's eye from grabbing his work and traveling the canvas. But that's not a style I enjoy. The photo on Chris Ashley's blog is an interesting one. The left side shows an interesting and interactive scene -- almost old-masterly, as it were -- but then there's this schism ripping down the center of the canvas, blocking the right side completely from the left.

One of the things that impresses me most about the old masters that all their figures and shapes relate to each other. This hand points at that body, this face looks at that face, this wedge of light highlights that head, this tree frams that figure, this robe swirls around just so, and so on. It's not always noticeable, but when done well it helps the painting cohere. John Currin might enjoy making fun of his elders, but he still uses their techniques to his advantage. Some masterworks baffle my mind with the way their artists were able to plan their space to be filled so perfectly with human figures in relation to each other. It's hard enough to draw the human figure, imagine drawing a dozen of them in a carefully choreographed scene.

Putting aside the fact that Rauch gives himself the freedom of surrealism, he still doesn't provide this type of figural flow -- or at least I don't see it -- so I feel like I can't enter his paintings. Again, maybe this is intentional, but it keeps me away. Perhaps someday I'll find a key to appreciate Rauch -- at first I disliked Daniel Richter until someone pointed out to me how rich and unusual his colors were -- and perhaps I'll completely retract everything I've written about Rauch above, but as of this moment, I don't see anything to admit me into his works. If you have a key for me, let me know.


Rene Barge

May 30, 2005, 6:10 PM

I went to have a look at the Rauch pic by Chris Ashley. It took me a cup of coffee to get to it, I was held up at El Greco and then James Ensor. I must say that I agree with beWare and that guy. It also got me thinking just briefly about Figuratively Speaking at MAM, standing in front of Chia and Clemente and going "what the hell where they thinking?"
Rene Barge


that guy

May 30, 2005, 6:24 PM

you are right on Rene. The Ensor is one of his better ones that I've seen.


that guy

May 30, 2005, 6:36 PM

oldpro, he also has a nice snapshot of Manet's painterliness latter on with two details of "the Dead Christ and the Angels".



May 30, 2005, 6:38 PM

You say some pretty amusing things between your coffee and your beer, Rene. What were they thinking, indeed.

Of that crowd, the overall winner in the "What Were They Thinking" sweepstakes is Baselitz. I saw a big one up at the Norton in W Palm a while ago that had to be the worst single painting of that generation I have ever seen, upside down, right side up or sideways.



May 30, 2005, 6:50 PM

Thanks, Guy. Yes, that was interesting, too. In fact the whole page is interesting. He goes around NYC taking pictures of shows and studios and once in a while writes about something, all very matter-of-fact. Fun to browse.

The blonde lady with the hangdog expression looks like she should have been in the Ensor painting, not just next to it.


that guy

May 30, 2005, 6:58 PM

yeah she has the schnoz to boot.



May 30, 2005, 9:05 PM

Totally agree about the Chia and especially the Clemente in the MAM show. Their only purpose, as far as I'm concerned, is to document how low standards can sink, and have. We're talking embarrassingly bad.



May 30, 2005, 9:23 PM

Hovig~ Fair enough opinion. In truth, I didn't even know who he was until I saw a painting of his at MOMA (6th floor, sheets, furniture, bank collections, watch repair...) so my first real exposure was at the Zwirner gallery.

I just looked at the paintings. I didn't get up to speed on any of the conceptual mumbo jumbo surrounding them. When I just look at the paintings, the works seem visually very ambitious, the spaces are complex, more medieval than old master. Your points on the interplay between the figures in the old masters is well taken. What is even more interesting is that at this point in history we are comparing a youngish german painter with the old masters at all.

I think this is the issue, painting is reclaiming territory it once held in the past. We live in an era where we have amazing access to information, where we can Google an artist and see reproductions (pixels for paint) right now. We can get the look down and appropriate to our hearts content, is that cool or what. It still doesn't suffice for seeing the actual paintings.

So the criticisms you bring up may be a harbinger for the direction art criticism might take. I think that it is an interesting approach, it's valid information another painter might employ. In this world where "anything can be art", we need a higher standard to conteract entropy, I'm all for that.



May 31, 2005, 10:48 PM

George - Thanks for the thoughts. I'm not sure if it was clear, but I wan't trying to define a global ("absolute!") standard. I merely thought Rauch's new works -- like Neujahr and Der Pate -- hearkened back to previous centuries' works -- whether sincerely or ironically, I don't know -- so I felt it was fair to say what I enjoyed in master works but didn't see in his. Don't know if I'm right or wrong, not trying to prescribe quality or even attemtpt to describe it, just giving a little bit of market feedback.

In fact those two works probably flow better than Rauch's others. In Der Pate ("The Godfather"), the figures play together pretty nicely. The eye can travel the canvas and read it. Start with the brown cloud behind the large figure's head. Follow it to the head, then down the arm to the left hand [canvas center], then the tripod on the ground, then the staff and lantern, then the shadows on the ground, and back up the kneeling figure, from his stick to his arm to his head, in a swirl back to the standing figure's right hand [canvas left], with your attention now stolen a bit by the haloed windmill. Note also how the two objects lower-left reinforce this movement, as do the twig-trees upper-right. My only objection is that the sky and the brown cloud clash.

I wouldn't claim to have proof, but I think the eye tries subconsciously to establish a visual flow when it sees a work -- at least I think my eye does -- which is why I enjoy analyzing works in these terms. The artist can play with this or against it, depending whether they want to attract the eye or attack it. In this case, the eye tries to move left-to-right when reading either the cloud or the sky -- both are strongly horizontal -- so it can't jump across the cloud, thwarting the eye's movement across the sky, making the work just slightly disjoint. BTW, note also how this painting seems to purposely mock classical craft. The limbs of the standing figure are smaller in front, and larger in back, exactly the opposite of proper perspective drawing. I'm sure it was done intentionally, and actually I think it's pretty funny.

Another close one for me is Heimkehr ("Homecoming"). It's got a lot of very nice movement, but then there's that dark vertical line about a third of the way from the left, just damming everything up. If you cut away the left third of the canvas, or maybe just erase the bottom half of that line, you'd have a great piece in my opinion. Maybe this would change the "meaning" of the canvas, (not to mention majorly piss off Rauch,) but I don't know what his conceptual point is anyway, I'm just responding to the visuals.

P.S. Just got AiA in the mail. The cover reprints the left-hand side of Neue Rollen [the article is about German art in general, not Rauch in particular], which if I can be immodest for a moment, reinforces what I said in my previous comment that this half of the piece works nicely by itself as its own self-contained moment.



May 31, 2005, 11:54 PM

Hovig~ Regarding how the eye scans. I recently saw a study about the way the eye scans a web page. They hooked up a tracker on the eye movements and the results were kind of like this....

XX x x

Some compositional strategies will act to counter this, others go with it.

Moving away from Rauch for the moment, I think your observations about referring back to previous centuries work is important. Since the advent of mechanical reproduction, the artist and the observer has had unparalleled access to the appearance of earlier historical artworks as well as images from the popular culture. Utilizing the appearance alone is sufficient to establish a mood, a tone, a resonance and therefor a meaning, by evoking a memory in the observer. This adds a layer of complexity to how an image can function in a pictorial framework. Style is a tool of expression.

On a slightly different tack, I think your response was an example of just what is needed in art criticism today. I'm not calling for a return to traditional modes of painting, far from it, but I do think painting needs to be addressed in full historical dress. What makes painting interesting is that it is not new. It is always just recycling its history from the past forty thousand years. From this vantage point at the start of the twentieth century, we see this history than ever before. As a painter you have to take that into account.



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