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finally, a trendlet in my favor

Post #706 • January 11, 2006, 4:46 PM • 35 Comments

Arthur Lubow investigates the Leipzig School for the NYT. A corrective to eyeless collecting in favor of craft, or proof that even a stopped clock is right twice a day? You decide! (Among them, I prefer Christoph Ruckhäberle.)




January 11, 2006, 5:08 PM

Why is this anemic stuff a "trendlet in my favor"?



January 11, 2006, 5:08 PM

Haven't read the piece yet, but saw the images. I think it's the clock, Franilin (that's not a typo, though it may have started as one; I saw it in a comment from Alesh and thought it was cute).



January 11, 2006, 5:17 PM

It's in my favor because it's figurative.

Franilin sounds like an attention deficit disorder drug.



January 11, 2006, 5:43 PM

I still don't get it. There is all kinds of figurative work out there. And your work has absolutely no relationship to this warmed-over 1940s surrealism.



January 11, 2006, 6:06 PM

The Ruckhäberle work looks vaguely familiar.



January 11, 2006, 6:20 PM

They note a debt to Balthus. Probably why I like them.



January 11, 2006, 6:34 PM

Figurative work may be out there but I can't remember the last time that non-ironic figurative work was the subject of a collection frenzy.



January 11, 2006, 6:44 PM

A somewhat more interesting (if only because less familiar, or more exotic, or less lightweight) version of Alex Katz comes to mind. That is not a compliment, by the way.

This stuff indeed looks like it's rooted in old East German communist repression. It's sort of like what you'd get if you put poor Alba to sleep and fixed her in formaldehyde.

Note to self: Stop giving Damien Hirst any more damn ideas.



January 11, 2006, 7:01 PM

LOL! But no, they're better than improved Katz. One of the ones that the Rubells have is a good'un. I did see some things of his at AB/MB, and I didn't think they were as strong, but I at least went over to look at them more closely, which comes with a certain amount of inherent praise.



January 11, 2006, 7:18 PM

This kind of attenuated, vapid, lifeless, silly-stuff-in-silly-places badly painted work has been a collecting frenzy for years. We have discussed it on the blog any number of times, most recently in light of the Hernan Bas phenomenon. And we discussed Rauch at length some time before that, and the whole dumb-figure thing many times.

It is too bad everyone is ignorant of latter-day Surrealism and "Magic Realism" and the other half-baked realist styles of the mid-century. They might think twice about this.



January 11, 2006, 7:49 PM

Please, Oldpro, not the R-word. You will only rile up George, and we don't want to go through that again.

Now Franilin (you're such a kidder), someday you, too, could be the object of a collecting frenzy. You just need more issues. It'd also help to drop the hetero tack, or at least go the Lolita route, or maybe zoophilia...pigs are an idea (given your ethnic background, that would wow them big time). Just think concept. What about a traumatic spiritual crisis, some schizoid thing between your own heritage and Eastern mysticism? But then again, that might not be enough. Have to put politics in there somehow. Or heavy-duty gender stuff. I know, you could become an extreme feminist who demanded no male should hold political office without being neutered. You see? You just need to get a little creative.



January 11, 2006, 7:51 PM




January 11, 2006, 8:12 PM

Germain, the paintings, or the thought of me following Jack's advice?



January 11, 2006, 8:25 PM

the paintings, Franklin



January 11, 2006, 9:33 PM

re numberr 4: There is all kinds of figurative work out there.

So since Miami isn't Lipsink what do you suggest doc?



January 11, 2006, 10:11 PM

What a bunch of effete wimps. Franklin makes a point about some paintings which give him some hope that whatever resonates with him might have some chance in the real world.

Rather than take it up as a freestyle, round table, speculative discussion, you all just put a stake in its guts and watch it bleed. Frankly, this is exactly the opposite reaction one would find in the various European schools where they would most likely pick the ideas apart and reassemble them into something more to their liking.

In case no one has noticed it, being the turn of the century and all, the art world is wide open for new ideas. Of course, I suspect you are all just hanging out down there in hurricane hollow waiting for someone else to publish the ideas to copy. What's up?



January 11, 2006, 11:29 PM

You are something else, George. "Effete wimps" indeed. Read the guidelines.

First of all, I think the word you want is "lipsync", unless you are making some kind of obscure wordplay, which may be the case because I still would not understand what you were driving at.

Did we preclude a "roundtable discussion"? Not me. I'm happy to pick ideas apart any day, as you know.

By the way, What are the "ideas"? I'm open to "new ideas". I'd love to hear some. Did these Liepzig people have "new ideas".? I didn't see any.

Do you have any, George?



January 12, 2006, 12:04 AM

Come on Oldpro, you know what I'm getting at when I say ideas. I didn't see any comments which did anything but bash another school of painters.

When Franklin brought the Leipzig school up, I think it was with the implication that maybe they offered him some hope for his own work. The reason there is a Leipzig School is because those artists supported and encouraged each other. Now one may not like their work, I'm not arguing that point one way or the other, what I do think is that the inability to describe a path out, rather than just say some other work is junk, is basically just hot air posturing.

Franklin said It's in my favor because it's figurative.
So Franklin, what is the problem with figurative? I actually don't think there is one but I think it's a common perception. So what other questions do you have?


that guy

January 12, 2006, 12:21 AM

"The reason there is a Leipzig School is because those artists supported and encouraged each other."

Now we know what we don't need in Miami. The Miami School is based not on nurture but on nature. Brilliant George. These nurturists really blow.



January 12, 2006, 12:31 AM

re#19: That's a silly remark, I specifically said I wasn't arguing about the work.



January 12, 2006, 12:40 AM

Now, Oldpro, don't feel obligated to take the bait. It's such an old lure, too. But if George likes huffing and puffing and beating on his chest, who are we to begrudge him a little grandstanding? He's of a certain age; he lives in New York, and I suppose he has to do something to pump himself up. So let him have his fits of pique and his outbursts of self-righteous indignation over us myopic effete wimps, who should be duly grateful he deigns to enlighten us, hopelessly out-of-it though we are.

Besides, if he didn't do it, some other(s) would fill the vacuum, and he can be tolerably amusing: a character. We could do worse, and we have, as you know. He may be fixated on Herr R____, but at least he's not pushing live rabbits as night lights.


that guy

January 12, 2006, 12:45 AM

I'm just saying art does not coddle its better artists. Although I didn't say it very clearly. Artist's who coddle each other are doing anybody any favors. Most of the Miami artists who are any good have figured this out. The news should reach new york in about 15000 years.


that guy

January 12, 2006, 12:52 AM

"but at least he's not pushing live rabbits as night lights."

Im not sure Jack, have you seen his paintings? It looks like he's about ready to pull the pomo escape hatch.



January 12, 2006, 1:15 AM

re#21, You are mistaken about my interests in other artists. Frankly I was irked by the response to the subtext of Franklin's post. It had nothing to do with the work of any of the artists in Leipzig group rather it was an expression by Franklin, that maybe it really was possible to make figurative (image based) art and that gave him a sense of hope and encouragement. I found it surprising that no one was willing to delve into the topic beyond the general surface bash. So what was potentially a subject which could have generated an interesting discussion was cut in the bud.



January 12, 2006, 6:18 AM

Sometimes, just seeing something get hyped that's not horrifically bad is enough to make me think that the art world has it within itself to function correctly. It's events like this that make up for the inevitable disappointments, like when the Goldman Warehouse goes into cahoots with MoCA and puts on a show of Friends With You, as they are doing at the moment. I hope the damning with faint praise in the original post is enough to temper any implied enthusiasm on my part, but at least these peoples' values don't totally oppose mine: they learned to draw because they thought it was important, and they like the tradition of painting. And I'm not ready to write this off just yet.



January 12, 2006, 7:21 AM

Yes, but art has to be more than just not objectionable. And this brand of mannerism is really getting tired.

George's protestation "is it possible to make figurative art" sounds like something one might hear in the middle of AE 50 years ago. It is just not an issue now. Everybody does it, ad nauseum.



January 12, 2006, 8:50 AM

Natural like a viper pit? A giant squid feeding frenzy? A rabid dog? A child raised by wolves?

I'll take the nurturing crowd with afternoon tea and a thoughtful discussion of ideas over that any day.

Franklin, good for you. Find inspiration where you may, without judgements. If one were to find inspiration only in the very best, one would hardly find inspiration ever. And that would eventually take its toll on the spirit.

Oldpro, why would you suppose that these painters are ignorant of surrealism, magical realism, or even mannerism? I'm curious, are you of the opinion that the styles of historic movements can no longer be done or that one can no longer attempt to build upon them? [warm them over, I suppose?]



January 12, 2006, 9:23 AM

Art has to be more than not objectionable, but the art world, to refrain from twisting my undies, just has to not be objectionable more often than not and give me something good to look at more often than not. (Why I should continue to maintain expectations like this, I have no idea.)



January 12, 2006, 10:29 AM

re#26: George's protestation "is it possible to make figurative art" sounds like something one might hear in the middle of AE 50 years ago. It is just not an issue now.

I was interpreting Franklin's initial comments as the question.

Regarding stylish rehashing, 50 years ago is a long time, there is no way to approach the problem in the same way, intervening history and knowledge of previous styles, directly or indirectly, makes it impossible. So one might question, what is implied in revisiting an older style? My guess is that one feels an empathy with the approach. After all, in the 40,000 years of painting there are only a finite number of 'styles' which are continually re-expressed periodically. They may appear differently each time, this is due to the clothing they wear (historical point of insertion) but the psychological underpinnings remain the same.

re #25: Sometimes, just seeing something get hyped that's not horrifically bad is enough to make me think that the art world has it within itself to function correctly.

The 'art world' isn't making the art, that's done by individuals, one work at a time. While it's true, works get 'hyped' it's more a function of marketing which can pollute the artmaking process. Oldpro doesn't like the term "issues" but I think at any given point in time it is worth having a set of "issues", questions about the subject and process and their relationship to the self and the artistic environment. For example, if you look at the early work of Van Gogh it changes dramatically after his visits to Paris. What happened here? Exposure to work by his contemporaries, new ideas, a sense of new possibilities and a degree of confidence to press forward.

In particular, 50 years ago, in the midst of AE questioning the possibilities for an image based art in the face of Modernism was difficult because the potential historical precedents which might show a way were to close in time. (I might add that, today, Duchamp's ideas are now over-done and not relevant) So, I put my 50's hat on today and rethink the questions. Since we now know how AE finished and how image-based art proceeded (Pop Art) we could reconsider the question as if image based art proceeded directly from AE (50's precedent was bay area figuration) Rather than look at AE directly, jump back another 50 years (more or less) and a good source of inspiration might be found in Toulouse Lautrec who was a better painter than 90% of the AE guys.

To my mind, the other half of the question has to do with the subjects of the painting, the "image" in image-based. I don't think this is a trivial issue, it is in part what the Leipzig School is based upon. Another approach is outlined in the first two chapters of Kuspit's new book A Critical History Of 20th-Century Art are out on ArtNet and take a look at Picasso and Matisse. (I'll save Jack and OldPro time by suggesting they don't bother reading it) I'm bringing this up because he attempts to deal with aspects of figuration psychologically (a valid approach IMO) but takes it way to far and botches the job. It leaves open a number of questions we could discuss later.



January 12, 2006, 12:42 PM

Kathleen: Going back to the best art to borrow and build from it is how art gets made. Of couse I approve of it. In this case the "going back", if this is what is being done (which I doubt), is going back to a kind of art-making which was vitiated in the first place. That's the problem, not the going back as such.

George, with all due respect, you are simply wrong when you say one cannot derive from the past. Manet looking at Velasquez and Goya is only the best known case. Every artist does it one way or the other. I can't help feeling sometimes you are just being argumentative. That's OK with me, but you got to argue better if that's what you want to do.



January 12, 2006, 1:26 PM

Re #30 cannot derive from the past

That's not what I said, just the opposite, everything is derived from the past but each time it can never be seen the same way again.



January 12, 2006, 1:33 PM

OK, George, ok. Everytime we have any kind of discussion you say something and then when any exception is taken to it you say you didn't saythat, you meant something else by it, that that was not your intention, that It was not understood correctly, etc etc. It's pointless to continue.



January 12, 2006, 1:56 PM

re 32: I don't see what the problem is.
I'm NOT saying one shouldn't look at the past. I do think that there is a zone in the recent past (relative to 'today') where it is much more difficult to work. A simple example would be the second generation AE painters, many just disappeared into the woodwork (relative to the viewing audience) In other cases, the legacy of an artist becomes so overused, it becomes perverted or distorted and rendered useless. While I like Duchamp's work, I think he falls into this category and I would consider him less relevant.

Moreover, as time goes by, historical works acquire a different patina. The way they appear physically may stay the same but the viewer (the artist) brings a new viewing context into play. Assuming the viewer is somewhat informed, he sees the historical work not only in the contextual framework that it was produced but with a bit of the perspective of all the artists that followed.



January 12, 2006, 1:56 PM

Thanks for the warning on the Kuspit book, George, but not to worry. I'm not likely to bother with that sort of thing. He can mast-art-bate till he looks like a Chia pet, as can they all, but that's not my affair and I won't make it so. I think everyone should develop his own theory or approach to art based on personal taste, judgment and experience. If someone else comes up with something that rings true, makes sense and is useful, that's fine, but otherwise I simply don't care. It's my call, always.

I find it very hard to understand why anybody would go through all kinds of mental contortions, compromises and/or equivocations to come into line with currently prevalent dogma. It makes no real sense, and it's counterproductive to what art should be about, which is the interaction between a specific individual and specific work. If it's not personal, if it's not yours, why bother? What's the point? Of course there can be all sorts of extraneous or ulterior considerations, but then it's not about art; it's about other issues with art as means to an end, not the end itself.

The very idea that I must attend to someone, anyone, because he or she is so-and-so and is supposed or presumed to know better or best is just ludicrous to me. I don't owe any of these people anything. If you want my attention or allegiance, you earn it, based on my criteria. Real simple.



January 12, 2006, 2:13 PM

Jack, I agree completely.



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