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goodbye sister pomo

Post #594 • August 3, 2005, 3:20 PM • 176 Comments

Thanks for your indulgence while I threw a few handfuls of earth on the coffin of pomo. Wait, you say, is it dead?

About as dead as painting. These things never really go out of existence as long as people remember them. Pomo has joined every other tradition in that respect - it has become another mine in which artists may dig, or not.

Google around for people writing about identity theory, simulacra, Eurocentrism, or the usual pomo cant as it applies to art, and you're as likely as not to pull up a document written between 1991 and 1998. Hardcore deconstruction is pretty much dead as a viable activity at this point, unless you're working in academia, which essentially serves to carry on the traditions of the dead in general.

But contemporary art has moved on. The idea of Peter Halley relying on the obscuritanism of Baudrillard seems pretty quaint. (Peter Halley seems pretty quaint, period.) The radicals of pomo and decon have excellent five- and six-figure perma-jobs at the universities. Contemporary art pulls from pomo not as a philosophy, but as a style. It just looks postmodern. The danger has gone out of it. Not only that, its pomo look is an indicator of future sales at certain galleries.

Mark Bauerlein:

As theorists became endowed chairs, department heads, series editors, and MLA presidents, as they were profiled in the New York Times Magazine and invited to lecture around the world, the institutional effects of Theory displaced its intellectual nature. ... One theorist became known for finding her "inner life," another for a skirt made of men's neckties, another for unionizing TAs. It was fun and heady, especially when conservatives struck back with profiles of Theorists in action such as Roger Kimball's Tenured Radicals, sallies which enraged many academics and soundly defeated them in public settings, but pleased the more canny ones who understood that being denounced was better than not being talked about at all (especially if you had tenure).

The cumulative result was that the social scene of Theory overwhelmed the intellectual thrust. Years earlier, the social dynamic could be seen in the cult that formed around deconstruction, and a comparison of "Diffèrance" with the section in The Post Card in which Derrida ruminates over a late-night call from "Martini Heidegger" shows the toll celebrity can take on a brilliant mind. By the mid-Nineties, the social tendencies had spread all across the humanities, and its intellectual consequences surfaced in the desperation and boredom with which Theorists pondered the arrival of The Next Big Thing.

As Oldpro is fond of saying, modernism is an attitude towards making art. Pomo once aspired to radicalism, something that could cause real social correctives, something that seemed profoundly liberating from oppressive structures. Maybe for some people it was. But now, pomo is an attitude towards making art. That's too bad, because it was never equipped very well for the job. It only offered one useful strategy: don't take modernism too seriously.

But if the new stuff isn't pomo art, what is it? I think we should think of it as contemporary and not go about labeling it. It's too close to our time. Something like post-tradition wouldn't be so far off, as art is not constrained to any tradition or opposition to tradition any more. Pomo, for a while, was progressive. Not aesthetically progressive, but it had a rebellious feel to it for a time. Now that it's what all the cool kids are wearing at school, it's not even that. It's another style, or lack thereof.

The Next Big Thing may be sincerity. That's no guarantee of quality, not by a longshot, but it would be refreshing, a real surprise, to see something that despite artistic failure, at least wasn't bogus. And it may not fail. It's worth a shot.

Comment

1.

alesh

August 3, 2005, 4:00 PM

wacky question marks between each paragraph . . . what's up with that?

2.

Franklin

August 3, 2005, 4:08 PM

I have a support ticket open at Textdrive. Sorry for the mess.

3.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 4:25 PM

And this right after we just finished reading Dr. Frankfurt's proof that "sincerely is bullshit"?

4.

fredric

August 3, 2005, 5:06 PM

So when will you start hyperlinking to the Heritage foundation?

5.

Bob

August 3, 2005, 5:24 PM

Franklin: the url kink above on #4 does wacky things; my IE craps out on it. is it you, me or the link?

question: What's your take on works categorized as Post Modern and irony? Do you think irony is/was a necessary component for works to be considered Post Modern? And if sincerity is the new black, then is there still room for the ironic? sorry, three questions.

6.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 5:27 PM

What is the Heritage Foundation?

7.

Franklin

August 3, 2005, 5:37 PM

Fredric, not really my cup of tea. Politically, I oscillate between these guys and these guys. See also: negative capability.

Bob, it's the link. Irony was certainly one available strategy to pomo, as it was easy to relate it to jouissance. I don't think it was a defining factor, though, as other works could be lethally earnest. There's room for everything, I suppose; I think it all depends on implementation.

Oldpro, The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank. There's your link, Frederic.

8.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 5:37 PM

Bob, I tried it too. All kinds of little windows start flying around. You have to restart to get rid of it. I think Franklin ought to dump it.

9.

Franklin

August 3, 2005, 5:39 PM

Dumping it.

10.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 5:41 PM

I don't understand why Franklin would want to link to the Heritage Foundation.

Or is it because he doesn't like Postmodernism therefore he is a Conservative Republican? That's the kind of half-assed logic we get all the time around here.

11.

Jack

August 3, 2005, 5:44 PM

Franklin, you really shouldn't say such things about Peter Halley. I mean, his stuff was at Art Basel, and he's also in the Rubell collection. What more do you want? It doesn't get much more officially approved than that.

12.

Franklin

August 3, 2005, 6:31 PM

Okay, at this point we should have normal paragraph spacing and happy comments. Anyone have any more probs, let me know.

13.

George

August 3, 2005, 7:13 PM

But if the new stuff isn't pomo art, what is it?

Let's call it NOMO



i

14.

Hovig

August 3, 2005, 8:31 PM

Danto calls today's art "post-historical," because the term "postmodernism" is too imprecise to be meaningful (as oldpro has also said). He called Warhol's Brillo boxes the "death of art," and the beginnings of "post-historical" art. He uses "post-historical" because one can conceivable weave a historical narrative of evolution from the days of iconography to the days of modernism, each step building upon the ones before, but Warhol's Brillo boxes killed the line. That's as much as I know about this. If there are any Danto experts out there they can provide any details I might not have gotten right. I just wanted to enter the term into the debate and show there was at least one critic out there also thinking in terms of devising a new name for contemporary art.

15.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 8:42 PM

Danto is a blowhard. "Death of art" and "posthistorical" are nothing more than meaningless stabs at academic reputation-enhancing terminology generation

Art is not dead, and history, barring the megameteorite, cannot be "post". I don't know why anyone takes this guy seriously.

16.

George

August 3, 2005, 8:50 PM

What is art supposed to do?
Just sit there, as eye candy on the wall after a hard day at work?
Should it stimulate our thoughts, as a contemplation on a life experience?

17.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 8:55 PM

Unfortunately, Mark Kingwell (the dude who wrote the article for Canadian Art Mag. about the different historical 'conceptions' of the artist, discussed a while back on one of these pages) seems to take DANTO seriously. I read a piece by Kingwell in Harper's a year or so back, entitled "Art Will Eat Itself", which was really good in its description of the current art scene, but which starngely avoided Greenberg entirely, giving Danto credit for his "institutional theory "of art, which was pretty much described as "art is whatever is in art galleries"... I thought this was strange, because of course Clem had pointed out the same thing, not in relation to Warhol, but to Duchamp, years before anybody know who Arthur Danto (or probably even warhol, for that matter) was.
That Kingwell guy comes so close to getting it, but then seems to get blinded by 'contemporary wisdom' (ie. bullshit).
Hey Elizabeth, maybe you can get him to come onto this blog to hash a few things out... I think Kingwell works as a Philosophy prof. at UofT.

18.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 8:57 PM

Do you mean what is VISUAL art supposed to do? What is Music "supposed to do", George? Is that a harder, or easier, question to answer? Or is that question contained in your question, as music is merely a kind of art?

19.

George

August 3, 2005, 8:59 PM

He called Warhol's Brillo boxes the "death of art" he, he…

Hmm, also looks like CG dropped the ball, zigged when he should have zagged, if he only had the vision to understand that the imagery of popular culture is just as aesthetically significant as a blue stripe.

Pop Art gotta deal with it.

20.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 9:31 PM

George,
It's funny that you would use the word 'vision' to describe something that Greenberg lacked. Funny, but way off.
How did you come to the conclusion that he "dropped the ball"? Seems like your making the common mistake of confusing distinctions of quality with distinctions of subject matter. It seems pretty obvious (to me anyw ay) that a guy who could appreciate Rembrandt alongside Mondrian would obviously be able to appreciate a picture of Elvis, or Mickey Mouse, or whatever, as long as it was done well. All you're really saying, I think, is that you like pop art more than Clem did... all that means is that your taste differs. It doesn not mean that Clem failed to have "vision" no matter how you might like to define that term.

21.

George

August 3, 2005, 9:34 PM

Poo, visual art, painting.
Show me an example, of late modernist painting, of the type championed by CG, the purely visual, that can stand up to this painting Now tell me it's only visual, only a sensory wallowing and that I can look but I shouldn't think. Talk about dumbing down art, sheesh.

22.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 9:37 PM

Any kind of imagery CAN be as significant as any other kind, in theory. But Clem dealt with experience, with ACTUAL art, not potential art.

23.

George

August 3, 2005, 9:47 PM

re #20: Vision, as to, anticipate, conceive, conceptualize, contemplate, envisage, envision, foresee, imagine predict, realize, visualize.

Dropped the ball, as in failed.
CG was a product of his time, a highbrow and as such he found himself stuck on Kitsch. He lacked a way to accept the commonplace, the lowbrow, as a significant symbolic system which carries meaning. Oh no, there I go thinking again, take a second look at Las Menias ("the meaning" in Portuguese).

24.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 9:47 PM

Visual art is for looking at, music is for listening to, fine cuisine is for tasting, etc... sorry to disappoint you George, but their all human inventions designed make life more pleasurable. If you're looking for more, that's ok... there's alot more to the world of human endeavor than art. Maybe try politics, or science. They're good too, and offer different kinds of experience. But, yeah, sorry, art's about aesthetics.

You're not serious about the "show me something that matches THIS" argument, are you? If I show you a recent work that I think is as good as the Velasquez, you will always be free to disagree. Or, for that matter, I could say that looking at the linked reproduction, I thought the Velasquez wasn't very good at all. Would this prove anything?

Aesthetic experience is only possible because we ARE thinking beings. But this experience is more unconscious than conscious, so reasoning about art doesn't get anyone anywhere in regards to art qua art.

25.

George

August 3, 2005, 9:49 PM

Visual art is for looking at

Just looking at? Come on, how stupid is that? We live in a world of signs.

26.

George

August 3, 2005, 9:51 PM

Art is not a one trick pony

27.

George

August 3, 2005, 9:54 PM

But this experience is more unconscious than conscious, so reasoning about art doesn't get anyone anywhere in regards to art qua art.

I'm glad I didn't say that.

28.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 9:54 PM

George,
Not that titles matter when it comes to art, but the painting is Las Meninas (not menias), and is generally translated as "The Maidens of Honor" (not meaning).

I know it's confusing George, and goes against contemporary received wisdom (read: bullshit)... this is why I thought it might be helpful to look at a parallel question, that somehow is easier to answer, and then apply our deductions to VISUAL art after the fact...

So again, I'll ask you, what is the purpose of music? What is music "supposed to do"?

29.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 9:56 PM

... and not what CAN music do, or what does SOME music do... I'm talking necesary and sufficient conditions here.

30.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:00 PM

Just looking at? Come on, how stupid is that? We live in a world of signs.

Signs are not just for looking at, they are for interpreting. Signs may be a feature of art, but if you and I don't share a common language of signs, no communication is possible. Art experience, however, can be communicated even in the absense of common 'signs'.

31.

George

August 3, 2005, 10:00 PM

Sorry for the spelling typo.

It was a pun Duchamp would have liked

32.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:02 PM

No sweat about the dropped 'n'... it was such a poetic mistake (considering your argument), I almost second-guessed it myself.

33.

George

August 3, 2005, 10:02 PM

The painting and music are quite different.

Painting comes from the darkness of the womb.
Music is temporal, the memory of the heartbeat

34.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:04 PM

I'm not sure if you're taking up the question George, so allow me to forward the following hypothesis:
Music is for listening to, to derive a pleasurable experience through our auditory sense.
Sound fair?

35.

alesh

August 3, 2005, 10:04 PM

hovig (#14) ~ on a purely semantic level, "modernism" is the term that's broken. "post-modernism" is no more or less broken then "post-impressionism." "Modern," by definition, means something that is of the present. Anyone who called themself a modernist during modernism's heyday was participating in a hubris that must be seen as self-delusional: the word implies that they believe nothing new will ever happen after them.

I like "modernist" art, but the word itself pisses me off, because it throws a monkey-wrench in the language of art history, and makes it more difficult for the uninitiated to know what the fuck people are talking about.

after all that, "post-modernism" is actually a great term - it implies that we've left that hubris behind. Arguably that was not the case, but the term itself is sensible. But "post-historical" sounds as hubristic as "modernist" to my ear.

Clem is cool. Whatever he said he hated . . . it's all fine. He's part of history, part of the earth's magnetic force, imperfect and beautiful, just like the artists he chapioned. To attack him for what now appear as lapses in judgement is just as silly as to say he was infalliable. He was what he was - his power derived from insight and, mainly, his way with words (which Franklin shares, let it be said), not from any immaculate taste.

I have said it before, and i'm saying it again: George is the MAN.

36.

George

August 3, 2005, 10:10 PM

Matty, re #28: You don't know anything about me but what you read here.
When you talk about contemporary received wisdom you're blowing smoke out the wrong end. You are making the assumption I am regurgitating someone else's ideas on the world condition. Nothing could be farther from the truth as I am thinking these problems through for myself, out loud, on this blog, for the fun of it. I'm arguing against stupidity, not for postmodernism which I consider to be a flawed philosophy.

37.

alesh

August 3, 2005, 10:16 PM

I guess I spent 20 mins on my previous post, because I thought I was going to be #23, and I turned up #35. All y'all people need to get a life.

Matty, in #30, is profoundly wrong: "Art experience, however, can be communicated even in the absense of common 'signs'." You couldn't possibly be any more wrong.

The difference between painting and visual art is that the means of creation in music are much further removed from the means of enjoyment then with the visual art. This is more significan then it may at first seem. It's also significant in a different way then it may at first seem.

38.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:17 PM

Alesh,
If you think "Modernism" is bad (for the reasons you suggest), then you must really hate "Futurism" (we're takin' hyper-hubris here).
But, considering that Modernism is indeed alive and well (although out of the spotlight), "Modernism" continues to make perfect logical, semantic sense (at least it works better than any other known term to decribe my own work.)
The problem with "Post-Modernism" has always been the "post", precisely because of the above fact of contemporary Modernism. This point is such a beaten horse that there's nothing left but hooves and teeth, I think.
Clem is cool... To attack him for what now appear as lapses in judgement is just as silly as to say he was infalliable. He was what he was - his power derived from insight and, mainly, his way with words (which Franklin shares, let it be said), not from any immaculate taste.
Don't be deceived by 'appearances'. Those alleged lapses haven't been proven. And I don't know anyone who has suggested Greenberg had "immaculate taste", although his taste was unquestionably very highly developed, and broadened by his lifelong thirst for art. His way with words, and his insight, we're both informed by his taste.

39.

George

August 3, 2005, 10:18 PM

Matty #34 Music is for listening to, to derive a pleasurable experience through our auditory sense.

This is a simplistic argument. You are suggesting that painting (my visual art) is just a French whore. It just lies there and gives you pleasure.

Is that all there is to our visual sign system of which painting is a part? I seriously doubt it. How do you get through the day without the extended use of visual reasoning. The argument for painting as a French Whore is simplistic beyond belief. There is more to experience than that and I am sure CG would agree with me today (or he's rolling over in his grave)

ps it's hot here in NYC without AC, grrr

40.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:23 PM

Jesus George,
I didn't say anything about you personally... I'm refering to the comments only.
I characterized my comments as against contemporary received wisdom. That is different than saying that your opinions are contemporary received wisdom.
Go re-read my post.

41.

alesh

August 3, 2005, 10:26 PM

George~ SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP. we deal with unbearable heat 9 months out of the year. I'm sorry you're sweating in late July/early August. Eat my Shorts.

Matty~ Yes, "Modernism" is the only term to describe a certain bunch of stuff. And the bunch of stuff it describes is very real, and often very good, and in need of a term. In need, IMHO, of a better term. But obviously the ship has sailed; it's "modernism" and the term is not going to change. It may, though, sound increasingly sillier as the decades and centuries wear on. "Futurism" is probably not seen as silly because it was not as successful. how's that for irony?

42.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:33 PM

alesh post#37
Matty, in #30, is profoundly wrong
I don't think there's any response possible to this other than "No, I'm right. Profoundly right, even."
Do you have an argument to refute what I'm saying, or is just saying I'm wrong proof enough?

George post#39
The argument for painting as a French Whore is simplistic beyond belief.
I'm not touching your "French Whore" characterization George.

43.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:34 PM

I think most people would agree that Modernism is far LESS silly than Futurism.

44.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:36 PM

I will say this though George:
Art is not as complicated as the post-modern obscurantists would have us all believe.

45.

George

August 3, 2005, 10:36 PM

oopsie

All this ism-schism. Gee wiz.

My painter friend and I, like to play a game over a nice bottle of French Bordeaux. I call it "A Pile - B Pile" We pick a movement, and then go through all the artists and put them in the A pile or the B pile. We are nice, believing that any artist who can stick with it through a lifetime deserves respect, so we have no C pile.

What's interesting about this exercise is how few artists there are in the A pile. For example, yesterday I listed out the A list of Pop Artists (#20) as Warhol, Rosenquist, Rauchenberg, Oldenberg, Lichtenstein, Johns, Hamilton, and Dine. That's 8 people being generous classifying Rauchenberg and Johns as pop artists. If you are fair, it's about the same in other categories, there are very few really good artists.

The way I view this game is by asking myself, why is Lichtenstein in the A pile and Indiana in the B pile? What can I learn from this?

It has nothing to do with "isms", really nothing at all. There are those who will tell you Pop Art isn't art, it is not about Pop Art or Plop Art as a style, you cannot exclude works just because they are in a style you think sucks. It's about the art, judged on it's own terms If you cannot deal with the terms then shutup because you make a fool of yourself.

46.

George

August 3, 2005, 10:37 PM

Alesh, LOL I expected one of you would say that, at least it's not humid here

47.

alesh

August 3, 2005, 10:39 PM

Matty~ READ what i said . . . "on a purely semantic level" modernism is silly. the actual substance of modernism is great.

As far as "Art experience . . . can be communicated even in the absense of common 'signs'," i'm not sure i can refute it, but every fiber of my being tells me it's completely wrong. Actually, yes, I can refute it. But not today, sorry.

48.

alesh

August 3, 2005, 10:41 PM

franklinn seriously needs to fix the implementation of html tags around here., like kids in the 80's, I WANT MY TEXTILE

49.

alesh

August 3, 2005, 10:42 PM

weird . . i thought i closed it how about now??

50.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:44 PM

It's about the art, judged on it's own terms
That much I can agree on, George.
A better game, I think, would be to take the whole big, fat, History of Art survey book, tear out all the pages, mix them all up, and then make your piles, REGARDLESS of 'movement', but based on pure aesthetic appeal.
You'll probably find yourself agreeing with Greenberg, in the main, anyway. Rembrant, Vermeer, Picasso, Matisse, ancient greeks, renaissance masters, etc... these would likely unseat the Lichtensteins and Dines (well, they sure would in my assesment, but again, I won't be surprised if your taste differs).

51.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:49 PM

Alesh,
Matty~ READ what i said . . . "on a purely semantic level" modernism is silly. the actual substance of modernism is great.

I did read it the first time around, thanks. I understand what you are trying to say... What I said though, and will say again, is that Modrnism IS contemporary (or, literally 'modern' if you prefer... my proof of this is the fact that I'm a modernist) so, technically, it IS semantically correct.

As far as "Art experience . . . can be communicated even in the absense of common 'signs'," i'm not sure i can refute it, but every fiber of my being tells me it's completely wrong. Actually, yes, I can refute it. But not today, sorry.


I await your rebutal with incredulous anticipation.

52.

alesh

August 3, 2005, 10:49 PM

sorry about my outburst. as a graphic designer i take my text formating seriously, and too much boldface text makes my blood pressure increase.

George~ (1) close your fucking tags. heat is no excuse. (2) the loss of emphasis makes it difficult to get your drift, but I don't like your little game. Categories have meanings, but i'm with oldpro insofar as good artist are good independent of a genre, style, or whatever. that's all part of the "caption" as Hovig has been trying to explain. BTW, I like hovig's idea of the captioned image. I really think he's on to something.

53.

George

August 3, 2005, 10:49 PM

Matty, you said, Art experience, however, can be communicated even in the absense of common 'signs'

This is not true. I know what you are alluding to but I would argue differently.

First I would argue that the "art experience" is a cultural, hence learned experience.

Second, I think there may be evolutionary, genetic experiences which produce the emotional response we call the art experience. Certain perceptual experiences which were associated with events that had a positive evolutionary result may be ingrained in our memories.

54.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:53 PM

In the interest in saving you from a futile task, I could simply do the opposite, and prove that what I said was true, I guess.

Hans Hoffmann is, in my opinion, a great artist. His abstract paintings do not contain, for me, any recognizable, translatable signs. The nevertheless manage to give me a valuable aesthetic experience. What do these paintings mean? What do they 'represent'?
In the word of the famous ad reinhardt cartoon, "What do YOU represent?"

55.

alesh

August 3, 2005, 10:53 PM

Matty~ "modernism" ended sometime in the 60's. If you're still parcticing the form, you're either a "neo-modernist," or an old guy, or kind of like someone who still thinks "impressionism" is a living and breathing tradition, or any two of the above.

56.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:56 PM

Second, I think there may be evolutionary, genetic experiences which produce the emotional response we call the art experience. Certain perceptual experiences which were associated with events that had a positive evolutionary result may be ingrained in our memories.

You might be right, but it would take a geneticist with a few years on his hands to prove it. In the meantime, all we can say is that aesthetic experience is a quintessentially human phenomenon.

I suppose the same argument might go for morality.

57.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 10:59 PM

Alesh, that is a silly, begging-the-question kind of idea. How did it "end"? How was it decided that Modernism had ended? What was the date of its end? If your so sure of it, why the vague notion of "sometime in the '60's"? The argument just doesn't wash.

58.

George

August 3, 2005, 11:01 PM

Matty, re #50. Sure we all have our favorites.

In my view, you can't mix up the book of history. The arguments here are a result of the flux of history. We make art in this time which we cannot escape. We might make works which transcend time, speaking across the ages but we cannot escape our own time.
Like it or not, we live in a world of MTV and BMW's, of Vogue and Yahoo, Hip and Hop, it is a river with a powerful current we cannot fight. You can look back, and imagine forward but for now, we are stuck in our own time. (time in another fav of mine...)

59.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 11:02 PM

I mean, for the sake of argument, what if I was born in the '60's, and make what I call 'modernist' art... why would this not be considered an extension of late modernism?
Artistic 'periods' do not just stop and start so easily, and are notoriously difficult to characterize by contemporaries...

60.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 11:07 PM

In my view, you can't mix up the book of history.
I'm sorry to hear that George. That seems like a very narrow, linear, limiting view.

Like it or not, we live in a world of MTV and BMW's, of Vogue and Yahoo, Hip and Hop, it is a river with a powerful current we cannot fight.
That is a parochial, ethnocentric attitude. The vast majority of the world lives quite happily without MTV and all the rest.
But who cares.. those things have NOTHING TO DO WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF ART.

61.

George

August 3, 2005, 11:11 PM

Matty re:#59

As I said before, I hate "isms", I do think that anyism has a primary historical time frame associated with it. Yes the edges are fuzzy and this is allowed. Strong work can push the boundaries significantly but anyism is ultimately bound in fashions time.

62.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 11:12 PM

alesh,
Impressionism is a subset of Modernism. So is futurism, cubism, fauvism, pop art, minimalism... basically, any art in the last 150 yrs or o can be seen as a subset of Modernism. That continues today.
This should be so obvious I don't understand why I have to say it.

63.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 11:13 PM

Who cares about ISMS? I thought we we're talking about ART.

64.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 11:15 PM

Speaking of isms though, I think I'm gonna have an Aneurism if I keep beating my head against the wall like this.
I'll catch you all again here later.

65.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 11:16 PM

Apparently not, Matty. The talk all seems to be about labels.

66.

George

August 3, 2005, 11:17 PM

Matty, re #60 - MTV Americas Cultural Gift to the World

Not so. I was doing tech support, right after 911, I had a call from a guy in San Diego. we talked for awhile and then he realized I was in NYC. That broke the ice and we ended up having a 30 minute conversation. Turns out he was a petroleum geologist and on his way to China again. He told me he went to a village, somewhere in the middle of China. In the building, in the middle of the town, there was a TV set powered by a generator, surrounded by the villagers, watching MTV.

Postmodernism is globalization

67.

George

August 3, 2005, 11:36 PM

re #60: In my view, you can't mix up the book of history.
I'm sorry to hear that George. That seems like a very narrow, linear, limiting view.

My remark had nothing to do with what one takes from art of the past. I was referring to the general flow of history, essentially a history of stylistic fashions, which develops in its own course. Here in NYC, there are galleries which do a booming business in "Impressionist" paintings. They are quite well done, might even be art but are derivative and obliquely enough out of their historical time that they would be dismissed by most of us here.

On the other hand, I view style as a tool of expression, something which can be used to evoke a mood (this occurs visually) So, one can use historical modes, consumer styles etc as a means of creating the structure of a painting. Of course CG would gag at this because it's so postmodern.

68.

alesh

August 3, 2005, 11:37 PM

matty~ between #50 and #60, 7 of the posts were from you. are you trying to break some sort of record? how about getting some sleep? or did you know there's a whole universe of web sites out there to look at?

69.

George

August 3, 2005, 11:43 PM

Alesh, aw come on, it was a knock down dragout, pitchmans brawl.
I was scrambling just to respond before the next comment came in.
No TV, so it's this or read the Duchamp biography.

70.

George

August 4, 2005, 12:48 AM

It's late, hot, and quiet here in NYC. Sketches of Spain on the CD player.
I stared out my window, through the trees, across the avenue with a particular memory of the light in its moment. It reminded me of Edward Hopper

The visual touches on memory.

71.

George

August 4, 2005, 1:24 AM

oops
It's late, hot, and quiet here in NYC. Sketches of Spain on the CD player. I stared out my window, through the trees, across the avenue with a particular memory of the light and the moment. It reminded me of Edward Hopper

The visual touches on memory.

72.

ahab

August 4, 2005, 3:26 AM

Thanks for the entertainment, folks. Not a bad exchange.

Some irresolvable problems with the terms though, hey? And not just with definitions, or dates. But y'all were also writing as though 'modernist artist' was interchangeable with or the equivalent of 'modernist art' and with/of 'modernism' writ large. What will we do with this lack of consensual nomenclature? Go round and round, I suppose.

Matty, you are a machine - two conversations at once. You have a surrogate? A "Mini-Matty" helping you out with your typing? Maybe a secretary taking dictation?

Alesh, #55 makes me think there is something to the idea that contemporary modernism only remains linked to a "living and breathing tradition" within regional pockets nowadays. And if my particular region/pocket is any indication, Matty and I are of a very very few left looking and working in this vein, and willing to identify ourselves with a tradition that "goes [heavily] against contemporary received wisdom." Lots of poachers though.

George, though I don't know you, from your comments I kinda think you are getting your thinking and looking all mixed together (#25, 27, 45). Of course one cannot excise associative thinking from the act of looking, but a sensitive consideration of and reaction to what one sees is different from and not improved by an conscious appeal to knowledge or memory or the intellect. I sense you are particularly sensitive to intricacies of creative thought (as your philosophical insights on OOP a while ago made clear and which I couldn't completely follow); yet, I am not sure that you see what I see, when looking at Velazquez, for example. Unknowable, unproveable conjecture, I know, but hopefully understood to be, um, sincere.

Man, it takes me a long time to find words that approximate what I think and mean.

73.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 7:20 AM

I guess even just the idea of reading a Duchamp biography put everyone to sleep.

Pretty good summary, Ahab, particularly when there was not much to summarize. Kind of like scooping up water in a sieve.

I think there are a lot more "Modernists" - that is, people who take art-making seriously - than anyone thinks. Comes the revolution...

74.

catfish

August 4, 2005, 8:29 AM

ahab says there is something to the idea that contemporary modernism only remains linked to a "living and breathing tradition" within regional pockets nowadays.

That's typical when the larger scene is in decline.

The Irish monks of the dark ages dedicated themselves to maintaining "tradition" in the face of the breakup of the structure that gave rise to the best of that tradition. It was no longer possible to be connected to a vibrant thing because that expired with the structure that supported it. That made it hard to infuse their endeavor with the freshness that is important to the best culture. But the same isolation kept the decay that had set in at bay, which was good.

Your "pocket" is faced with the same delimma. The structure that supports high culture has broken down and so the "lift" it can provide is not available, period. There is "lift" for middlebrow stuff but if you ride that wave your work must be dumbed down. If you take the high road, the result will tend to be preservationist, not fresh, but still good, certainly better than the alternative.

Art is not the product of an isolated genius. There is a group aspect that even the greatest artist requires and must use to reach the highest level. A pocket here and there does not seem to provide that.

75.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 8:49 AM

Catfish: it would be interesting to get to know their situation in more detail to determine just what it takes to provide a sufficiently vital environment. It might not have to be as extensive as you suppose.

76.

Jack

August 4, 2005, 8:54 AM

The structure that supports high culture has broken down

Yes, I'm afraid it has, and what's being officially promoted and duly noticed, covered and followed by the establishment crowd clearly reflects that. It's pretty depressing out there, not to say grim, for those who will not accept dumbed-down or degraded or perverted standards. So much dross, so little gold.

77.

mek

August 4, 2005, 9:18 AM

why is pomo a sister? interesting implication.....

you all are defining or trying to define pomo in outdated terms. you seem to follow a very linear method of critical thinking, and sorry to alarm you, but the world no longer is divided into this thing vs that thing or point A to point B and so forth. have you looked at what is happening around you in literature, poetry, music - - lets see - - for the past 15 years now?...or in the last 10 years, heck in the past year alone! - - have you looked at the ways technology and information has affected our multi-tasking minds? our definations of time and space, observation and place has drastically changed. thus, critical thinking and analysis has morphed into a more all-inclusive paradigm, and dare i say, pomo is just an example of a larger, cultural, global SPIN. many of you seem to be sadly naive, or geographically isolated.

78.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 9:51 AM

If you are looking at it, mek, why not tell us about it? Be specific.

79.

Franklin

August 4, 2005, 9:57 AM

Why is pomo a sister? Ahem.

It won't do to criticize anyone else's definition if you don't offer your own, Mek.

I have a copy of the Hagakure somewhere in which a retired samurai, from the early 1700's, expresses his bewilderment at the progress of history. Nothing in your list is necessarily true, or new. The world isn't divided into this and that any more? Can I have your car, then? You won't need it if point A is point B now.

80.

catfish

August 4, 2005, 9:59 AM

Jack writes So much dross, so little gold.

One could respond, of course, that such has always been the case and suppose making the best art is no harder now than ever. But there are some large differences between what has always been and exactly how it is today.

Around 1980 I was having drinks with Clement Greenberg and a friend of mine who teaches at a large state university. My friend, who seemed desperate, asked Clem where he should move to in order to connect with "the scene". He thought that would benefit his art, provide an environment that would let it go higher.

The answer both of us expected, New York, was not forthcoming. Instead Clem said "Saskatoon, that's where it's at. You must move to Saskatoon if you want to go higher."

Later, in 1986, Clem wrote an essay for The New Criterion's "New York in the Eighties" symposium. There Clem acknowledged that the "new centers of production" had become provincial "in location". But the art produced there was not provincial because it got "its sustenance from New York". The importance of New York is "where more of recent art can be seen than anywhere else" and because New York remained the "center of attention and attention giving". He went on to say New York is "where new art gets validated" and not in terms of money, but recognition. Thus, according to Greenberg in 1986, "New York remains the effective center, retains its dominance, despite its losses as a center of production". He remained steadfast that New York, like Paris before it, was the "only" center on earth for visual art, because of its role in recognizing the best art.

Fast forward to the present. Olitski's retrospective should have been hosted by the Museum of Modern Art or the Guggenheim. It was not. Instead, it was held in a private warehouse in Miami, hosted by the owners. Olitski may be old in human terms but his work is new in art's terms. New York no longer validates such art. Virtually all its cultural resources are dedicated to "validating" mediocre, middlebrow art. Not only has the center for the production of new art broken down, so has the system for validating it. If you work in a province, there is no where to look for "sustenance" and that limits what can be done.

High art requires leisure time for its making, which is available in great abundance to many of us. It also requires a power structure willing and able to sort it out and put it across, which is no longer available in New York, and never has been available in Miami, Saskatoon, Edmonton, or any of the other pockets of seriousness.

My good buddy oldpro just has to get over it.

81.

mek

August 4, 2005, 10:17 AM

franklin: a car is merely a vehicular type of transport. there are other ways to arrive at point B. so yes, you can have it. that is - - if your destination is terra nova.

oldpro and frank: yesyesyes need to state my case instead of outright criticism. however, my use of language is not as keen and does not come as readily as those of you who are more well-versed in this form of expression. time is a factor for me so one night when i feel like staying up late and have time all to myself (which is a rare occasion) i will blog to my heart's content. for now, this is what you get.

82.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 10:42 AM

Catfish: have you seen Matty's sculpture? It has a lot of twists and turns on the old model. Pretty good stuff. I am always hopeful.

As for Miami, no, it isn't going to happen here, for sure. This place is a cageful of multi-colored, squawking parrots.

Mek: you don't have to write a polished essay, and simple opinions, such as "I like suchandsuch" are easy enough. Also it is simple and direct to just challenge something someone else has said, especially if you don't think it makes sense. If you think about something too long it just goes stale. The blog is a kind of written conversation & should be give & take. But being specific is always more desirable, I think.

83.

catfish

August 4, 2005, 10:53 AM

Yes oldpro, I have seen Matty's sculpture -- on the web. There was nothing there that changed my mind. It has a look about it that says "serious". It may well be as good as anything can be under the current circumstances. But the problems associated with the decline of the art world are also visible in his work as displayed, even the big toe on the foot.

84.

Jack

August 4, 2005, 10:59 AM

Thanks, Mek (77), for your condescension, I mean, concern. No need to worry, though; we're fine. We know what we're about; we think and judge for ourselves, and no, we don't give a damn about being (the horror!) "out of it." There are far too many "with it" types already; no more are needed, let alone desirable. Besides, if everyone were to join the trendy bandwagon, it would no longer be possible to feel smugly superior to poor, benighted unfortunates like us. We serve a useful function, after all.

85.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 11:23 AM

I have to second Jack here, Mek. All this self-congratulatiory effusiveness about the way the world is changing and is "no longer divided into this thing and that thing" and "multi-tasking" and "all-inclusive paradigms" (!), is just breezy stuff we read in magazine columns, contemporary conceits which have nothing to do with reality. Coupled with the painfully smug condescension Jack mentions it really is pretty hard to take.

When you get down to cases this kind of thinking blows off like spindrift.

86.

mek

August 4, 2005, 11:42 AM

entirely my point - you can not "get down to cases" oldpro, in the same manner as you are used to.

nothing like a little "condensation" to urge you to use your windshield wipers..

87.

mek

August 4, 2005, 11:42 AM

entirely my point - you can not "get down to cases" oldpro, in the same manner as you are used to.

nothing like a little "condensation" to urge you to use your windshield wipers..

88.

mek

August 4, 2005, 11:44 AM

each time i post it fails so i try again.. thus the dupe

89.

Jack

August 4, 2005, 12:07 PM

Regarding #87, I don't think "condensation" is the best analogy, although defecation, as from birds fouling the windshield, might be tolerably apt. Also, Mek, please don't presume to tell anyone how his or her mind can or should work; it's simply not your province, regardless of how your particular mind happens to operate.

90.

Franklin

August 4, 2005, 12:09 PM

If the thank you page fails to load, go check the original page and see if the post went through anyway. Sometimes it does.

Mek, you're telling Oldpro that he's not seeing clearly but can't tell him what he would see if he could. Again, this won't do.

91.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 12:11 PM

Of course I can "get down to cases", Mek, any way i feel like. So can you, so can anybody. You keep implying and insinuating without saying anything. I don't know what you are getting at.

92.

Hovig

August 4, 2005, 12:46 PM

Alesh - Danto addresses your point [#35] by saying if the word "modern" is broken, then "postmodern" must be brokener, and "contemporary" must be the brokenest of 'em all. (His wording was actually slightly differenter.)

Oldpro - I don't like Danto's terms either. I just wanted to feed some data into Franklin's question above. (But if the new stuff isn't pomo art, what is it? I think we should think of it as contemporary and not go about labeling it.) I don't know whether art produced today has or needs a name, but it's an interesting question, and could help make discussions more productive.

I also know what you mean about Danto's confusing use of the word "art." He uses it two different ways, once to mean "whatever a gallery displays," but also to mean "art produced after the age of icons but up to the period of modernism." He considers modernism to have been the ultimate movement in "art," and pop art its "death." If death is an overdramatic term, maybe dormancy.

Whatever it is, something exceptional happened during the 20th c, whether it was 1913, the 60s or the 80s. As catfish puts it, "New York no longer validates such art." [#86] I think you can't put the genie back in the bottle. Maybe today's art should be called genieism.

93.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 1:04 PM

Re: Catfish post #80
good post.... except for a small problem with this:
Not only has the center for the production of new art broken down, so has the system for validating it. If you work in a province, there is no where to look for "sustenance" and that limits what can be done.

You jump from NYC not being a centre of 'production', to the assumption that is no longer acts as a centre of 'sustanance'. But the Sustanance Factor hasn't changed, despite the fact that there's not much new stuff coming out of there these days. But NYC continues to sustain us up here in the provinces, Edmonton, Saskatoon, where-ever. That's why we take trips to the Met, the MOMA, the Gugg (sometimes), the Frick, the Whitney (ok, maybe not the Whitney), etc. Of course, there are other Sunstanance Centres (London, Paris,Madrid, etc) which, in this dynamic new world of air and sea travel (can't you feel the excitement!), can be visited by provincial artists.

Great anecdote, by the way... must have thrown your friend for a loop. Did they end up moving to Saskatchewan?

94.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 1:06 PM

It may be true that good/great art can't be 'validated' in the provinces, but that does not take away from the fact that it can be made there.

95.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 1:10 PM

Also Catfish:
But the problems associated with the decline of the art world are also visible in his work as displayed, even the big toe on the foot.

Would you care to elaborate?

96.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 1:30 PM

Well, Hopvig, it may be "genieism" but it sure ain't "genius".

I think Danto is brokener. How can he say that a word is "broken"? What a dork.

Here is Modernsim broken: M O D
E
R N
I S
M

that's not going to come out right, (or wrong) but what the hell.

97.

Hovig

August 4, 2005, 1:32 PM

P.S. Don't forget sister poco. Today's OpinionJournal has an article entitled Truth Has Nothing to Do With It: Is Theory going out of fashion in American universities?

[...] A sign that things may be changing is "Theory's Empire," edited by Daphne Patai and Will Corral [Columbia U Press]. Its 47 contributors patiently dissect all aspects of Theory, from its putative grounding in the ideas of the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) to the practical effects--say, in India--of the postcolonial ("poco") branch of Theory, which does so much to denigrate logic and reason.

[...] Theory has tried to deconstruct science in a similarly misleading way. The philosopher Thomas Nagel [whose essay is entitled "The Sleep of Reason"] observes that theorists invoke quantum theory and relativity "to show that today even science has had to abandon the idea of an objective, mind-independent reality." But, he curtly remarks, "neither theory has this significance."

[...] If challenged, theorists often vilify their opponents as right-wingers or worse. Kwame Anthony Appiah observes that when Susan Gubar, a leading academic feminist, raised questions about the state of feminist theory she "found herself condemned, astonishingly, as a troglodyte, perhaps even a racist." Ironically, Theory may harm the very politics it purports to defend. Noam Chomsky finds it "remarkable" that leftist intellectuals, with their attacks on rationality, "should seek to deprive oppressed people not only of the joys of understanding and insight, but also of tools of Enlightenment." Meera Nanda laments that when postcolonialists repudiate the "objectivity" and "universalism" of science, they give "aid and comfort to Hindu chauvinists who display many symptoms of fascism."

[...]

98.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 1:38 PM

Franklin: The Next Big Thing may be sincerity.
oldpro: And this right after we just finished reading Dr. Frankfurt's proof that "sincerity is bullshit"?

I'm with oldpro here, and Dr. Frankfurt (as I read him).
Postmodernism has been a 'to thine own self be true' movement which threw out Modernism's ideal of 'correctness' (getting it right), in favour of an ideal of 'sincerety' (my personal view is valid because all personal views are valid).
If 'sincerity' is the Next Big Thing, then nothing will have changed.

99.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 1:45 PM

Of course, the Right has learned to use the techniques of the misguided Leftt its own advantages. The Bush administration are very skilled in Postmodern Theory amd the supposed instability of "Truth".

100.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 2:08 PM

Hovig, THANK YOU for the link and the excerpts. It will go to my League of Beleaguered Colleagues.

Sounds like what does on right here, doesnt it?

Of course, being an old fart skeptic, all i can think is what brand of arrant bullshit will replace the Theory kind.

101.

Hovig

August 4, 2005, 2:08 PM

Oldpro - See Alesh's #35. The question is purely a semantic one.

102.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 2:18 PM

What question?

103.

catfish

August 4, 2005, 2:33 PM

Matty, New York may be validating new art, but it is middlebrow new art. If you get sustenance from that, so be it. I don't. Your foot and big toe looked like an attempt to freshen things up.

104.

Hovig

August 4, 2005, 2:42 PM

The question of whether "modernism" is an adequate word to describe a calendar time which may or may not be "modern" in the English sense. Like Matty says, "futurism" is like this too.

105.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 2:52 PM

catfish,
You're misreading me. I do not get 'sustanance' from the 'middlebrow' art being 'validated' nowadays in NYC. I get sustanance from thre great work that came before me, which merely happens to be 'collected' and 'exhibitied' in NYC. Touring the commercial galleries to see what's new is interesting, in its way, but I don't find it 'sustaining' to my practice (inded, most of the time, I find it downright irrelevant).

I still don't think I understand your original reference to my big toe, but nevermind.

106.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 3:03 PM

Not quite Hovig,
"Futurism" is, was, always silly, if only for the obvious semantic fact that it was a movement bound by the present (now the past) but aspired to show the future (more silly because visually it was just clumsy, overblown cubism).
"Modernism" is, was, always an attempt to be modern, contemporary, 'of this time', set in the present etc.... so, as I said before, is semantically far les hubristic than Futurism.

People who argue against the semantic appropriateness of "Modernism", saying it describes soemthing not 'modern' but 'old-fashioned' miss two points:

1. Modernism is contemporary (whether or not it makes the papers). Oldpro's a modernist, Ahab's one, I am too. Reports of Modernism's demise have been highly exaggerated.
2. Go look at a Picasso. It was modern, it is modern, and I suspect it will continue to be modern for a long time. Until society can come to grips with him (as they have with the 'shocking' impressionists before him), his art, and the art that comes after him, continues to be as Modern as anything can be.

107.

catfish

August 4, 2005, 3:05 PM

Matty, Greenberg was writing about emerging highbrow art that he thought was still being validated in NYC by being shown and sorted out there, even though NYC was no longer the center of its making. Apparently, you get sustenance from great work of the past (I assume) that happens to have been collected and is exhibited there.

By the way, my friend never moved to Canada.

108.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 3:05 PM

I still don't see what that has to do with what I said, but so what.

There is no point to get bothered about the nature of the word "modern" as used in "modernism".

To begin with, words applied to art movements get it wrong all the time. It is almost a trodition. The Cubists did not paint cubes, and many of the Abstract Expressionists were not that "expressive". Once one learns (more or less) what a word means and how to use it, so what?

Second, Alesh says "'Modern,' by definition, means something that is of the present. Anyone who called themself a modernist during modernism's heyday was participating in a hubris that must be seen as self-delusional: the word implies that they believe nothing new will ever happen after them."

That makes no sense. Anyone who called himself a modernist meant only that he was keeping his art up to date, or thought he was. This was done in the present, when it was modern. There is no implication of anything in the future.

109.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 3:09 PM

Word, oldpro.

Its like supposing that refering to yourself a contemporary artist is delusional, because....

I can't even bother to go on with this.

110.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 3:12 PM

catfish, I'm quite a fan of CG (you might have noticed) and have read pretty much everything of his that's been published.
I think it's great to find people who knew him personally though (I never met him), to gain their insights as well. Thanks.

111.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 3:50 PM

Catfish, You are making realistic observations but I am not quite with you in the sustaining matter.

Artists who are doing something new have always been out on a limb, rejected, all that stuff. What is the difference between the Impressionists not being valiudated and sustained and the sculptors in Edmonton not being validated & sustained? Of course I know the differences, obviously, but don't the "samenesses" close the gap? I feel that with sufficient talent and opportunity there just might be, or could be, sufficient sustenance and validation in Edmonton to produce great art. I don't think we have enough evidence to rule it out.

112.

mek

August 4, 2005, 4:18 PM

thanks for the links hovig. jon erikson's book about the mo object vs the pomo sign is a good read which i checked out almost 10 years ago now. this act of redefinition that i have presented to the blog has fallen on deaf ears, partly b/c i am not explaining myself in detail. as i have said before, i will do so when i have idle time. i will say that the role of Theory in academics has been deconstructed over and over again and i find it bizarre that the majority of those present keep trying to rope us all back into traditional theoretical models.

113.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 4:35 PM

"...the majority of those present keep trying to rope us all back into traditional theoretical models."

Just gimme the facts, Ma'am.

114.

catfish

August 4, 2005, 4:38 PM

Yes oldpro, I am being realistic. And oh how I wish my views were pure fantasy.

You wrote I don't think we have enough evidence to rule it out. What is needed is evidence to rule it in.

And you wrote Artists who are doing something new have always been out on a limb, rejected, all that stuff. This statement, like the one Jack made about so little gold, is always true, more or less, whether times are good or times are rotten. So the observation doesn't help a lot if you want to determine which one it is. I guess if the existence of lots of bad art and serious rejection of whatever is best always means great art is upon us, then it must be upon us. But I go back to the Olitski show. There is something very wrong with the art system if someone who has paid the dues he has paid must have their retrospective in a warehouse in Miami. That's a sign of decline, not ascendency.

Nor is the art system working for the Edmonton folks. Clem used to say "it takes ten years". They've had a serious "pocket" there for four decades.

People are naturally hopeful and so messages of hope usually win the minds of the majority. That's fine with me. My hope is to make the best art I can under the circumstances that were given to me, even as I understand they could have been much better.

115.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 4:47 PM

mek, before you go on any further about 'Theory' (way to capitalize it, btw), have you read the article that Hovig linked to in his post #97?
(Truth Has Nothing to Do With It: Is Theory going out of fashion in American universities?)
I don't think you're really grasping what "the majority of those present keep trying" to do (maybe you're in too much of a rush to not only input meaningfully, but to read other's input carefully).

116.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 4:52 PM

Honestly, sometimes I think the conflation of art, artists, art movements, the art 'system', etc. make it virtually impossible to have a coherent discussion, even with people whose view aren't total counter to one's own.

117.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 5:04 PM

To try to understand what catfish's point is, I've gone back up to his first post on this page (#74):
The structure that supports high culture has broken down and so the "lift" it can provide is not available, period. There is "lift" for middlebrow stuff but if you ride that wave your work must be dumbed down. If you take the high road, the result will tend to be preservationist, not fresh, but still good, certainly better than the alternative.

I think when oldpro writes "I don't think we have enough evidence to rule it out.", he is asking you to defend your assertion that by taking "the high road", the resulting art will be "not fresh, but still good".

Why can't it be fresh? Why can't it be more than good, great even?

118.

mek

August 4, 2005, 5:09 PM

yes matty i have read it, have you? perhaps you have TOO MUCH time on your hands....

119.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 5:16 PM

mek, sorry for the hasty assessment... its hard to tell what you think, since you never seem to have time for more than the most cursory comments. I mistakenly assumed which parties you were refering to when you wrote about "the majority of those present..."
I take it back.

120.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 5:25 PM

Yeah, Catfish, I know. Clem used to say that Pop Art would only last for 2 years. He was not great at predictions.

I didn't mean to say that because good new artists are out on a limb that being out on a limb made for good art. I only meant that being out of it, being unvalidated and unsustianed, was not, in itself. a necessary condition to limit the production of great art.

Not just the Olitski show, as a pointed exqample, but Olitski altogether, is more than sobering. Ten years ago you could buy a good Olitski at auction for $3000. They are not exactly expensive now, as art prices go. The crucial question is whether we are "in decline", as Clem used to say, and you just said, or just awfully damn slow.

Putting on the hope face ain't easy, for sure.

Matty, I think Catfish is talking from experience and observation here, not demonstating through argument. I completely agree with him about the tremendous part environment plays in art (and everything else; it is usually played down because of the human ego), I only take issue with emphasis. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, of course; if a mess of really great art starts pouring out of Edmonton next week Catfish will have to revise his idea, whereas if the art remains merely good I can always hope. (So i got it better either way).

121.

George

August 4, 2005, 6:15 PM

Ahab, re: #72
I see no conflict in my opinions. Painting is a visual art. It is also a visual interpretation of signs, symbolic marks of paint. So, if you offer up a dumbed down experience, say a monochrome canvas painted IKB blue, I'll agree it's a painting. In retort, I would offer up "Las Meninas" by Valesquez, a painting of both visual and symbolic complexity. Which would you rather look at?

Regarding my comments in #45. Here I am denouncing anyone who would suggest I should view art in a specific way. It doesn't matter if it is a Modernist or Postmodernist idealism you select, I refuse. All art must live or die on its own terms, those of you who cannot accept or understand the terms should avoid making comments which appear intellectually limp.

122.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 6:41 PM

if a mess of really great art starts pouring out of Edmonton next week Catfish will have to revise his idea

Great. Not only do we have to try to make art as good as we can, we have to haul the damn stuff out of Edmonton, or else nobody will believe us, and we'll never have it 'validated'.
Easy for you painters to say. Your work doesn't weigh nearly as mcuh as mine.

George, be careful with your denunciations... It would be all too easy to characterize some of your statements as intellectually limp, too.
Your post #45 doesn't have enough in it of substance to merit going back to, but here goes:
You say you want to deal with art on its own terms, which is great, which I totally agree with....But then you contradict your good statement later by saying that you can't mix up the pages of the art history book and judge the art out of its chronological context, its particular period, etc. That is simply not judging art on its own terms, that is judging it on societal terms, on the artists terms, etc.
Visual arts terms, my friend, are visual. End of story.

123.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 6:43 PM

George, can you tell me what are the "signs" and "symbolic marks of paint" in a painting you admire, like the Velasquez?

Also, you "denounce" anyone who tells you to "view art inb a specific way", but you go on to say that "All art must live or die on its own terms". Do the "terms" of the art require one to view it in a "specific way" or not?

124.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 6:45 PM

Matty, I have always thought I would be a very good sculptor, and I always have been thankful that I am not a sculptor.

125.

Jack

August 4, 2005, 6:46 PM

"So much dross, so little gold."

As Catfish notes, "gold" has always been a definite minority. I should have been more explicit. By "dross" I did not mean work that's not great but still respectable or tolerably good; I meant out-and-out bad work, tripe, stuff I can't respect as art. Also, I emphasized much in reference to the inordinate current preponderance or proportion of dross (as I define it) and its complete acceptance (nay, embrace) by the official art scene (meaning those who are supposed to know).

In other words, I think the system has become degenerate, literally. In some cases, it may be a matter of not knowing any better and/or buying into the BS that the presumed authorities are peddling. In others, it may be simply not caring despite knowing the truth, and choosing to play along because there's some sort of gain involved, material and/or otherwise. I can see how art dealers would be easily corruptible, but what about institutional people, critics, and avowed art lovers? Is it all about the market and notoriety, about money and buzz, then?

126.

Franklin

August 4, 2005, 6:50 PM

Just in case no one realized it, the article that Hovig linked to in #97 is a report on Theory's Empire, which is also the subject of the essay by Mark Bauerlein excerpted and linked to in the original post at the top. Bauerlein is also a contributor to Theory's Empire.

127.

George

August 4, 2005, 7:29 PM

Op. Re#123: Yes but I won't. My point is that the scope of painting makes use of more than just decoration. It all starts here

Do the "terms" of the art require one to view it in a "specific way" or not?
Well, suppose, as a died in the wool impressionist, you looked at a cubist painting and called it crap because it didn't fit your rules.

128.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 7:44 PM

Thanks for the intersting-looking article, George. I will read it.

You may not want to answer my question is because you know, as I do, that it will lock you into asserting that there are certain specifiable factors necessary for a picture to be a good picture, and you probably know where that would lead.

as for the second question, you are saying that the "terms" of a painting do dictate how it must be viewed? But you just don't want anyone telling you, is that it?

It is "dyed" in the wool, not "died" in the wool. It means dying the wool in its raw state, before spinning, which makes the color more permanent.

129.

George

August 4, 2005, 7:55 PM

Died or dyed, it was a pun about dead artists :-)

130.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 7:58 PM

Well, Ok.

131.

mek

August 4, 2005, 7:58 PM

oh if you must know the reason for my lack of focus and time constraints...for the past 2 weeks i have been analyzing data from the us gov concerning a new medicare program. my firm has been subcontracted to execute the marketing strategy with an ad blitz that will roll out in january. that said, as i now prepare dinner for a weary family focused on nutrition, i will fit in some blog time. and then the evening schedule of a much loved 2 year old becomes top priority. after that until approx 1 or 2 am we have a photo shoot scheduled for another account, which i will be art directing.

that aside, i believe that he point of contention here is a belief in the ineptitude of pomo rather than giving it the validity it deserves. clearly postmodern thought has never been able to establish a logical or philosophical basis for itself. this strikes many of you as inherently illogical. of which i disagree.

to me, modernists hoped to unearth universal truth or the fundamentals of art, and postmodernism aims to unseat them. more importantly, to embrace diversity and contradiction. a postmodern approach to art thus rejects the distinction between low and high art forms, and rejects rigid genre boundaries. it favors eclecticism and the mixing of ideas and forms. mind you, pomo is across the board with a wide-ranging set of developments not limited to art theory. it is incomprehensible to me that you do not see it's influences in philosophy, architecture, literature, music, theatre, sociology, etc. which are generally characterized as either emerging from, in reaction to, or superseding modernism. pomo is also the result of economic, cultural and demographic changes in a post industrial society, and it is attributed to the importance of mass media and the rise of an increasingly interdependent world economy. in the era of postmodern culture people have rejected the supposedly universal stories of religion, conventional philosophy, capitalism and gender that have defined culture and behavior in the past, and have instead begun to organize their cultural life around a variety of more subcultural ideologies. and i know you will ask me to site examples, but that will have to be in another post. sorry, my daughter wants to log onto her elmo website.

incidentally, when i was in college and greenberg was about 80, jeanne siegel asked a few of us by invitation only to attend a Q & A type of lecture with mr greenberg. long story short, he was very humble, down to earth, very curt and very charming, which i noted to be contradictory for such a righteous dude. he started off the lecture by saying, well whattya wanna know? a long discussion evolved into an analysis of what a critic is "today" vis-a-vis act of the critic as promoter (which is not the case today). we talked about his influences on fried and krauss, etc.

times up.
mek

132.

George

August 4, 2005, 7:59 PM

Re: terms.

So the postmodernist comes over to look at the modernist painting and says it's crap.

So the modernist comes over to look at the postmodernist painting and says it's crap.

Spy vs Spy

133.

George

August 4, 2005, 8:12 PM

Oh no, POMO is dumbing art down, how is it doing it?

Will embracing diversity and contradiction do it?

Will rejecting the distinction between low and high art forms di it

Will rejecting rigid genre boundaries di it?

Will eclecticism and the mixing of ideas and forms do it?

Thanks Mek

134.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 8:15 PM

George, I am trying to lead you into a blind a\lley and you are being maddingly elliptical. You must know that there is a way, more or less, to look at art, or it isn't art, it is something else. Of course you can look at art any way you want to, but that evades the question. Your viewpoint might be easier if we posit the idea of the Mod. and the Pmod. both looking at the same painting and registering different reactions.

Mek, anyone with a 2-year old who must analyze Medicare programs has all my sympathy on both counts. As for me, I have to go make Barbeque, an easier job but one which will prevent me from answering you until a little later.

135.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 9:12 PM

Mek, people were always surprised when they met Greenberg and they were always surprised when they actually got around to reading what he wrote. The reason was that he and his writing were nothing like the reputation other people made for him. That's why he so often said "I have an argument with my reputation".

All the things you said about Modernism and Postmodernism are ok, I suppose, in a very general way. I think the characteristics attributed to each are not too far off. Again, we are tossing around such diffuse abstractions that it would be better just to say that there have been changes and they could be perfectly well - or better - described leaving out the M & PM altogether. As it stands it is a kind of breathless laundry list of the buzzwords that always come up whenever they are mentioned, not wrong or right, just a great hash of words, too vague and opaque to really mean much.

If i were to list and critique the various phrases and terms and assertions I would be doing it for the next hour, and to what end?. What would I do with "subcultural ideologies", "postindustrial society", "universal truth" and the like? I dunno.

And then you talk about Greenberg and bam! - we get real again.

136.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 9:14 PM

George, Pomo does not dumb down art, it provides a rationalization for dumbdown art.

I gotta go eat.

137.

George

August 4, 2005, 10:03 PM

it provides a rationalization for dumbdown art.

Well, you can use anything to rationalize something else.
I would guess this implies that none of the postmodern characteristics, Mek commented on, would inherently lead to a dumbed down art. A gross extension of this idea leads me to the thought that the postmodern artists are inept.

The reality of NoMo-PoMo issue is that it is nothing more than another variant of the style wars. It is all about fashion, NoMo fell out of fashion and PoMo replaced it. Everyone who invested their careers and reputations on NoMo are seeing the vanity lights dimming and looking for a way to stem the tide. It's not going to happen, fashion is a cruel mistress consuming everything in her path. I have no doubt that PoMo, as we call it, is being consumed as we speak.

What is left are the new structures of media and content left from the initial wave of postmodernist thought. Contrary to Danto's position, I believe Warhol's "Brillo Boxes" are now again historical. The playing field is rearranged but the game goes on.

It's a new age, one can paint washy vistas or Pop icons, even intermix them with impunity, there are no rules. I won't argue in favor of one style over another, only a few can do it well.

To imply that the characteristics of an age, in particular a philosophy, can dumbdown art, well it's a stretch

138.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 10:12 PM

No more rules? George, that is just stupid. Sorry. I can't deal with a statement like that. And I have no idea what "NoMo" is. Please don't tell me.

Pomo, in its late, corrupt stage, helped dumbdown art by means of its thoroughgoing reliance on relativity and the consequent devaluing or outright rejection of value disctinctions.

This is getting tiresome and I'd rather not discuss it any more.

139.

mek

August 4, 2005, 10:16 PM

oh but oldpro, we are just getting STARTED

140.

Elizabeth

August 4, 2005, 10:22 PM

Mek; its a circle, dont you get it??

141.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 10:23 PM

Go to it, Mek. I have to go clean my grill and pick up some people in South Miami.

142.

mek

August 4, 2005, 10:24 PM

do you mean a spiral or a circle elizabeth? of course i "get it", do you?

143.

mek

August 4, 2005, 10:26 PM

no fun without you oldpro. and where's matty?

i am now quitting my browser to avoid further distraction. break is over and photoshoot is on...

144.

Elizabeth

August 4, 2005, 10:35 PM

Mek; yes I do GET IT ! and I said circle ....circle........round and round and round and round .......with everyone flying off in different directions.
What I see in the art community are lost confused souls looking for validation.

145.

George

August 4, 2005, 10:37 PM

Speak for yourself

146.

mek

August 4, 2005, 10:41 PM

lost and confused? NOT. seeking validation: Of course.

ok i'm really done for tonite. gotta work.

147.

Elizabeth

August 4, 2005, 10:42 PM

George; I never claimed to speak for anyone else...you just assume I am, I also am speaking about what I see, not how I feel about myself or my work. have a goodnight,

148.

ahab

August 5, 2005, 12:57 AM

George, I was reading "du Cubisme" today (I was reading it in English), which I'm sure you're familiar with and there seemed to be a lot of statements by Gleizes and Metzinger having to do with the sorts of things you've been working out on this post. Thoughts on the role of 'signs' and an awesome quote attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, which every one who traipses through here should read before being allowed to comment.

I actually copied a whole other longer passage out here earlier on, but company came and I lost my comment before I posted it. I just now sorta-searched the web for an online copy to cut and paste from but I know you're much more proficient than I using these machines.

I'm going to type out the Leonardo quote, thinking not only of your comments regarding thinking/seeing over the past couple of days, but of alesh's and mek's as well.

"We know well that our sight, by rapid observations, discovers from one vantage point an infinity of forms; nevertheless it only understands one thing at a time. Suppose that you, reader, were to see the whole of this page at a glance, and concluded instantly that it is full of various letters; you would not at the same moment know what letters they are, nor what they would mean. You would have to go from one word to another and from line to line if you would wish to know these letters, just as you would have to climb step by step to reach the top of a building, or else never reach the top."

149.

Franklin

August 5, 2005, 1:15 AM

#137, George: It's a new age, one can paint washy vistas or Pop icons, even intermix them with impunity, there are no rules.

Overstated, but this was pretty much what I meant by post-tradition.

#131, Mek: clearly postmodern thought has never been able to establish a logical or philosophical basis for itself.

That's not quite true. At times its logic is selective, but it's repeatable enough to establish itself as a phiosophical style. Different branches use similar methods of anti-modernist and anti-traditionalist thinking.

A certain amount of anti-traditionalism is healthy. And counter to what George is concluding, pomo didn't dumb down anything. Rather, it's hard to make good art in any case, and it's even harder when you're not trying to make it. Social and political turmoils found their way into art after modernism's high period, and a few examples of this are excellent - I especially like later Philip Guston in this respect. But aspirations to social, political, or celebrity import run parallel to quality. These aspirations are as relevant to contemporary art as Catholicism was to Rennaisance art - the content demands a central place in the work, but guarantees nothing about the quality of the final product.

Again, pomo's best contribution to art was the idea that we shouldn't take modernism too seriously, and we shouldn't. But it was also marshalled to take up the slack in quality, which it attempted by trying to negate quality. From the standpoint of Catholicism, any painting that sends the appropriate message is a good one. From the standpoint of art, Raphael's Madonnas are better than those of most of his contemporaries by orders of magnitude. Pomo took a Catholic stance towards content, saying for one reason or another that message trumped form. This has been going on long enough that many self-described art people can adjust their response to any given message, but I find this an overly accepting stance, and I find that it too frequently fails to compensate my trust as an art lover to do it myself.

150.

ahab

August 5, 2005, 1:42 AM

Good on ya, Franklin.

"It's hard to make good art in any case, and it's even harder when you're not trying to make it." It's also harder to make if you're trying too hard.

I also like later Philip Guston quite a lot, and without really wanting to. Good example.

I don't know that I am ready to say that "...aspirations to social, political, or celebrity import run parallel to quality." Quality, to my mind, overarches the social and political as imperatively as it does art - celebrity I'm not so sure about. Is there such a thing as "quality celebrity?" Pejorative oxymoron-ness.

151.

oldpro

August 5, 2005, 8:08 AM

I think by parallel Franklin meant together but on a different track, Ahab. Not interdependent, in other words. At least that's what I hope he meant.

152.

Franklin

August 5, 2005, 8:51 AM

That is indeed what I meant. On a different track, non-intersecting, unrelated.

153.

George

August 5, 2005, 7:45 PM

Ahab, I haven't read "du Cubisme" but another spin on this period Calvin Tomkins biography of Duchamp is fascinating. I'm about halfway through it and so far it is a very interesting tale on his interactions with the French and American art scene at the start of the century. Highly recommended.

154.

George

August 5, 2005, 8:03 PM

#149 But aspirations to social, political, or celebrity import run parallel to quality.

So? This argument is so one dimensional. One can aspire to "quality" but there is no guarantee of getting there. Are you are saying the "other stuff" is a process running parallel adding another dimension of complexity? Does the "other stuff" have its own thread of quality?

155.

Jack

August 6, 2005, 1:33 AM

Franklin (#149), I basically agree with you, but you're selling at least some Catholic big shots rather short. A number of art-loving or art-appreciating cardinals and popes cared at least as much for the quality of the work as for what it was about, and they most certainly were discriminating when it came to picking artists (especially since they had so much to choose from). Michelangelo, for example, didn't get the Sistine Chapel gig because he was willing to use prescribed themes or illustrate correct theological positions--he got it because he was Michelangelo, and Pope Julius II (who could have hired anybody he wanted) knew it. In other words, quality was clearly a major issue. The same is true with Bernini, another papal favorite, not because he'd do saints as wanted, but because they'd be Bernini saints.

156.

Franklin

August 6, 2005, 7:12 AM

#154, George: Nothing I said in #149 was radical. If I put my effort into improving my golf game, I'm not going get better at day trading. Likewise, if I work to make my art better as art, I'm doing something different than if I'm trying to make it into social commentary or whatnot, and commensurate efforts to improve it as commentary may or may not be the same. And sure, something can be very decent as commentary and not so good as art, or be both, or neither. They are parallel concerns.

I agree with everything Jack says in #155. I was overstating a bit.

157.

George

August 6, 2005, 8:39 AM

Franklin, #156, well ok, I knew what you meant. I still view painting as a complex system, get all the aspects working in good order and the whole is better.

Also, with the exception of artists using a painting like a whiteboard, I doubt that many would tell you that they are not working very hard to make a good painting. That is not to say they always make a good painting, but I believe they aspire to it.

In general I continue to think this whole bitch about Postmodernism is a farce. It's not really about that at all, it's about fashion, what's in and what's not. If the current fashion was raving over painterly abstraction (whatever) there would be a lot of happy campers here and a different crowd complaining. I am positive was the case back in the 60's, when the fashion changes left AE by the wayside. I accept the fluxes in fashion as just part of the layout of playing field.

Suppose, as a young artist, you choose to work in an out of fashion style. You either make this choice because the pre-validation of the style makes you comfortable that it's art, or because you think you have a vision that will breath new life into it. In the first case, there is not much to say. In the second case the questions about how one breathes new life into the style is more interesting.

If something is out of fashion, it lacks the ability to gain public attention. It is passed over by the viewing audience, why is this? Consider the psychology of the viewing audience. Typically, a viewer will try to categorize work they are seeing for the first time by associating it with other works they already know. It drives artists mad when some one says, it's like so-n-so's work, but what the viewer is actually doing is trying to find a way to categorize the work as a reference point. When we say the work is "fresh" we are really saying there is something about the work that separates itself from the categories you know. It's a conceptual file slot.

There is more to it than just making a "good" painting, it also must declare its identity in the world. If it doesn't, I am sorry, it will just get lost in the effluence of objects produced daily. Sure, if the work survives, someday it may be recognized, but the artist may be long dead, what's the point in that?

158.

Matty

August 6, 2005, 12:32 PM

Was it Jack, who once wrote on here about not responding to nonsense? Whoever it was, I think I might take that advice.
Don't imagine I'll be posting quite as much anymore.

159.

Jack

August 6, 2005, 1:28 PM

It was Catfish, Matty, seconded by me.

160.

Franklin

August 6, 2005, 2:13 PM

I accept the fluxes in fashion as just part of the layout of playing field.

That's a mature response, although I wonder how you reconcile it with the declaring-identity bit in the last paragraph, George. Anything that declares its identity within a fashion context is going to get put out to the curb sooner rather than later. As the art world increasingly emulates the world of pop music, those fashion cycles are going to approach zero in duration and the age of its players will converge towards drinking age. I'm not sure it's something worth getting involved with.

I figure the art just has to be good, on its own terms, and getting it noticed is a separate - parallel - problem. "Noticed by whom" is an important consideration in all this.

161.

Matty

August 6, 2005, 2:15 PM

Well put Franklin.

162.

George

August 6, 2005, 3:03 PM

re #160Anything that declares its identity within a fashion context...

I said "it also must declare its identity in the world" I didn't say in the "fashionable world", I said, in the world. If an artwork has no identity, fashionable or otherwise, it becomes invisible against the background noise. I would also postulate that if an artwork has no identity, it probably carries no mark of the artist, no personality. This seems obvious to me, something which has been occurring for the ages.

There is nothing inherently wrong with fashion, it's just there. Ask anyone who has been through the benefit of a fashion cycle, it's just nice. When the winds are blowing the other way you find out what you're made of. As far as your remark about the fashion cycles speeding up it's possible but there is a limit to it. Fashion needs time to be consumed. With today's instant media, it speeds up the cycle but not by much. Historically in the last century, "periods" lasted a few years and then morphed.

In my opinion it is particularly important that an artist, working in a style occupied by a number of other artists, be able to declare an identity, a style which makes his or her work identifiable against the background noise. In some areas, for example landscape painting, the problem is particularly acute, a lot of landscape paintings are remarkably similar. This is ok, but if you are trying to make a career as an artist, you are making the process more difficult if you just allow the work to blend in with all the other artists of the genera.

Nothing I am saying should be misconstrued as an encouragement to chase fashion, that is a dead end street. You learn to live with it.

163.

oldpro

August 6, 2005, 3:49 PM

Distinguishability is a characteristic of much very good art, George, but, once again, it is not a necessary condition.

Many of the Impressionists, early on especially, and Picasso and Braque at the height of Cubism, are trenchant examples.

164.

George

August 6, 2005, 4:00 PM

I disagree totally.
I considered Picasso and Braque when I wrote my comment, but the two did establish individual styles. There are times when a few artists might have similar styles but usually this doesn't last for long.

Frankly, to a young artist I would suggest that an identifiable style, an identity, is more important than technical mastery of the medium (good art) Over time, technical mastery can be learned

165.

Matty

August 6, 2005, 4:41 PM

Frankly, to a young artist I would suggest that an identifiable style, an identity, is more important than technical mastery of the medium (good art) Over time, technical mastery can be learned

A suggestion to what end? Fame, fortune, or something else?

Sounds like bad advice George... besides, "technical mastery of the medium" and "good art" aren't equivalents.

166.

oldpro

August 6, 2005, 5:26 PM

No, Matty, they certainly are not equivalents. I am surprised that someone on this blog would even suggest such a thing.

George you are running around the issue again.

My contention was that great art can be made within the context of relative indistinguishability. This was plainly the case with the early Impressionists and with Picasso & Braque, and even the fauves, to some extent, and if you go back into history, when artists often tried to look more alike rather than less alike, there are legions of examples. Saying that Picasso and Braque "establised individual styles" at some other time is beside the point.

And, as Matty implies, and I say straight out, maintaining that you would suggest to a young artist to establish an individual style rather than make good art puts you right in the fashion tank. What an absurd idea!

167.

George

August 6, 2005, 6:01 PM

Nonsense, Identity is NOT about fashion, you should know that by now.

I'll stand by my remark. Finding ones identity, ones voice, is key to personal success. Not fame and fortune but personal fulfillment, the sense of choosing the right path and the confidence to follow it.

Making a "good" painting is always desirable but if the work gets lost in the noise, well, go ahead, construct a lot of rationalizations about how "good art will win out". If someone just wants to make what they consider a bunch of good paintings without concern for the outside world, well that's fine, it's a hard road to hoe but there is no one stopping them.

I don't think that is what most young artists are thinking. They might be idealistic, but I'll bet they are thinking about both a way of expressing themselves and how to establish a career. Establishing an identity is not about fashion, it's about honestly finding a voice, a means of expression that fits an individual personality. It is the bedrock all the work will be built on, it must be honest to survive.

OK, replace "technical mastery of the medium" with "good art", I was just trying to avoid the term.

168.

Matty

August 6, 2005, 6:11 PM

Oh George.

You're so ready to dish out your advice to young artists, but again, I ask, TO WHAT END? I would assume theat the goal is to make good art, but I infer from your posts that this is not the goal you have in mind...if it was, telling artists that they should strive after 'identifiable style' as opposed to 'good art', would be clearly insane.

Oops, I said I was going to stop commenting on nonesense... there I go again.

169.

George

August 6, 2005, 6:28 PM

Matty,

I said...

Finding ones identity, ones voice, is key to personal success. Not fame and fortune but personal fulfillment, the sense of choosing the right path and the confidence to follow it. Nothing about fashion or identifiable style there.

Then I said...
Establishing an identity is not about fashion, it's about honestly finding a voice, a means of expression that fits an individual personality. It is the bedrock all the work will be built on, it must be honest to survive. Here I explicitly denied fashion (style in your terms)

Nowhere here am I suggesting what someone might do or what path to follow. Nowhere am I suggesting that one shouldn't aspire to making the best art possible. What I am suggesting is that discovering ones voice is the foundation everything else can be built on. I have no doubt you are making works which you consider honest, works which are an extension of yourself, a personal expression and which you consider "good art" I am not denying this. How did you arrive at making metal sculptures (rhetorical)?

170.

oldpro

August 6, 2005, 6:43 PM

George, I don;t say this often here, but you just don't know what you are talking about, and you mix up what you youself say so badly that you end up saying something different every time you post. And you never seem to respond to the points you yourself made.

Now you talk about "finding identiy" (I have never been able to figure out what that means) and "personal fulfullment" and "choosing the right path" and "finding a voice" (don't we all have "voices" for crying out loud?) and all that kind of high-minded malarky. This is simply not what you were saying before, when you were pushing "identifiable style". Not at all.

Then you say "Nowhere here am I suggesting what someone might do or what path to follow. Nowhere am I suggesting that one shouldn't aspire to making the best art possible" when that is just EXACTLY what you just did! Good Grief!

It is impossible to keep any kind of consistent threrad going with you.

171.

Matty

August 6, 2005, 6:46 PM

George,
Finding ones identity, ones voice, is key to personal success. Not fame and fortune but personal fulfillment, the sense of choosing the right path and the confidence to follow it. Nothing about fashion or identifiable style there.

Nope... nothing about art there either.

What I am suggesting is that discovering ones voice is the foundation everything else can be built on.

So, it's just an over-arching philosophy of life, not art, that you're on about.
Kinda irrelevant then, in the context of an artblog, isn't it?

172.

Matty

August 6, 2005, 6:48 PM

Being that I'm such a sensitive guy, I didn't want to put it like that, but I totally agree with oldpro.

173.

Matty

August 6, 2005, 6:48 PM

... as usual.

174.

George

August 6, 2005, 6:55 PM

Gee wiz.

How did you decide to make paintings? Make abstract paintings? Make abstract paintings with geometric shapes? Put the emphasis on color?

When you graduated art school did they give you a slip of paper with your name on it next to Abstract, Paintings, checck, check? Did you copy your teacher? Did you copy an artist you admired? Why don't you paint like Vermeer or Grandma Moses?

When did you discover, "hey this is how I should be painting"?

well?

175.

oldpro

August 6, 2005, 10:35 PM

Matty doesn't make paintings, George. He makes sculpture.

If you are addressing me, I didn't go to art school. Never took a formal art class. I decided I liked abstract painting when I was 11 years old, when I saw a Ben Nicholson painting reproduced in a magazine. I taught myself how to draw, did cartoons, sat in my room in college and copied Picasso endlessly, got turned on to the Abstract Expressionists by a great teacher (an art historian who was also a painter) and never turned back.

Matty at least we are not writing simultaneous, near-identical posts any more. That was beginning to freak me out. But it is fun at the same time.

176.

Matty

August 7, 2005, 6:58 PM

George,
How did you arrive at making metal sculptures (rhetorical)?

If your question is rhetorical, as you say, then why don't you tell me the answer already?

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