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Post #749 • March 9, 2006, 1:46 PM • 40 Comments

I think about what would encourage more people to comment. Anybody who runs one of these things ought to, periodically. Here's how I see the culture here.

First, there's me. I believe that the visual component of visual art is its most important one. I believe this to such an extent that if art doesn't have a working visual component, I feel no inclination to discuss it on other terms. Furthermore, I believe that visual components of art can succeed or fail. That jibes pretty well with modernism, but I was operating on that belief before I had ever heard of "modernism" and long before I read Greenberg. I have a strong sense of myself in that respect.

Then, there's my core group here. They are of a similar kind. That's only natural.

This outlook runs counter to a lot of art being made, bought, and discussed. In fact, if everyone adopted this outlook, the art market would crash. Hard. Much of the market finds its justification in the beliefs loosely collected under postmodernism, although I tend to think that that's an accident as well. I think we're in a neo-Roccoco era characterized by weak figuration, wealth, and bad taste. But regardless, my outlook is an exception with a low opinion of the rule. People who concur with the rule come here to return my low opinion. That's only natural as well. Here's where things get interesting.

I await the appearance of someone, here or elsewhere, who can speak for the rule the way that Oldpro speaks for the exception: with lucidity, certainty, and charm. I occasionally feel inclined to go after OP. I don't find him "too dominant" - that tells me more about the person who characterized him thusly than OP. I find him formidable, a worthy person to have an argument with. But who comes here to go up against us? The problem is not that I have Oldpro, but that opposing viewpoints don't. And so the opposing viewpoints resort to disparagement instead of disagreement, the apotheosis - in terms of art-school-grade empty repetition of contemporary art threats - of which appeared in comment #54 here. This kind of thing is what prompted me to declare that requests for open-mindedness were thinly-veiled demands that we not go after weak arguments. OP is right - get your thoughts together and hit back. Or, if you don't know for sure about something, ask.

George:

Is it a "debate" or a "dialog". OP wants to win the debate, to be "right" To me a dialog is more of an investigation, less concern for being "right" or "wrong" than an inquiry into the topic itself, its strong or weak points, its sources etc.

We're talking about communication styles. I communicate competitively. So does Oldpro. Jack has been on a tear lately and I love it. George wants to explore. I want to win, or lose to somebody who earned it. There is a place for George's approach, but I think the art world has grown corpulent with a buttery exaggeration of cooperative dialogue. You see this kind of talk all the time - such and such explores the issues, raises questions, questions approaches, or blurs boundaries. I'm not interested. I want to decide issues, answer questions, invent approaches, and clarify boundaries. So let's all go reread the guidelines (really, go), sharpen our knives, and get into it. Otherwise, if you just want to lurk, I don't think any less of you. And if it's all not for you, go enjoy the rest of the art world. It will make you very comfortable.

Comment

1.

George

March 9, 2006, 2:33 PM

Slice n dice

I believe that the visual component of visual art is its most important one. That's a bit of a circular reasoning, the visual component of art may or may not be the most important one. Of course I respect your insistence on the primacy of the visual but would question how we judge it.

In fact, if everyone adopted this outlook, the art market would crash. Hard.
Maybe or maybe not, markets "crash" for reasons different than what you are suggesting. Certainly what many believe is nothing more than a case of "the emperors new clothes" and therefore would suggest that all contemporary art is suspect are engaging in a taste or relevance debate with an uncertain outcome. There are a lot of artists and collectors who hate Duchamp, it doesn't make him go away. To the contrary, in the correct circumstances it provides a foil to work against.

I think we're in a neo-Roccoco era characterized by weak figuration, wealth, and bad taste.
I'll accept this as your opinion, I disagree, but rather than arguing in defense of current practice, I would suggest that you offer an example of what artists you think are producing strong, relevant current work? Give us a point of reference.

George wants to explore.
True, I'm interested in inquiry and don't care if I'm always right.

…but I think the art world has grown corpulent with a buttery exaggeration of cooperative dialogue. You see this kind of talk all the time - such and such explores the issues, raises questions, questions approaches, or blurs boundaries. I'm not interested. I want to decide issues, answer questions, invent approaches, and clarify boundaries…

To some extent I agree here, I do think that much of the current artworld dialog is garbled and less than interesting. The problem is that no one here is offering an alternative path of exploratory thought. True jack has been on a tear but he's not saying much. Where's the meat?

2.

Jack

March 9, 2006, 2:47 PM

Sorry to disappoint you, George, but you're hardly my reason for being (here). Sometimes, I don't care if I'm "saying much"; I may simply want to take a whack at something that deserves whacking. So many deserving targets, so little time.

3.

oldpro

March 9, 2006, 2:50 PM

George, point #1 "I believe that the visual component of visual art is its most important one" is not circular reasoning because it is not reasoning, it is a statement of an opinion.

Saying it sounds tautological (or obvious or circular) but it is not actually so because it assumes that we all know that the visual component of what we call visual art has been severely diminished in importance in the last generation.

4.

oldpro

March 9, 2006, 2:54 PM

Also, George, although I am not sure what you mean by "an alternative path of exploratory thought", I would say that this is precisely what is being offered by this blog.

But, as you said on the last page, it is not deemed "relevant".

5.

George

March 9, 2006, 2:54 PM

Jack, I'm sorry I forgot to close the italics and it may have garbled what I had intended to say which was:

To some extent I agree (with Franklins comments on buttery dialog) here, I do think that much of the current artworld dialog is garbled and less than interesting. The problem is that no one here is offering an alternative path of exploratory thought.

Then separately, I was alluding to Franklins earlier remark about you "being on a tear". I hardly expect you to give me the time of day, but tit for tat.

6.

George

March 9, 2006, 3:05 PM

OP #4 re: "an alternative path of exploratory thought"

OK, in the previous topic I linked 3 painters whom I thought you might be interested in.

You said Ehrlich's and Moses' paintings are very nice, but neither makes me want to run to the studio. Poons is an artist of enormous talent and accomplishment who is wildly underrated right now. I find his recent work incoherent, however.

Fair enough, it's what John and I said to each other leaving the gallery, "nice but boring"

You offer up a complimentary assessment of Larry Poons but relax saying the recent work is incoherent. You might as well have said nothing, it didn't advance the dialog one bit, what was incoherent? whay were they incoherent? etc? Such a line of inquiry or discussion is what I mean when I ask for an alternative path of exploratory thought.

7.

Marc Country

March 9, 2006, 3:05 PM

First, we've gotta dump this idea about a "dialogue", which implies there are TWO viewpoints, a "back" and "forth". If George could whip up a handy little graph, we would see comments flying in from so many different geographic locations, it would surely put the lie to the confused notion that there are somehow "two teams" vying for supremacy here... I don't know what the correct word is though... Polylogue? Somebody help me out...

Yes George, Franklin's reasoning is circular, in a way, like saying that "All Black Dogs are Black"... the premise is clearly right there in the conclusion... as distinguished from "All Dogs are Black", which doesn't have the circularity you pointed out, and is also, as we all know, wrong.
Of course the "visual" is not the primary aspect of ALL art... nobody ever said it was, and if they did, Kathleen AND Oldpro'd probably jump all over them.
But if someone tries to tell you that they are making VISUAL art, but the VISUAL isn't of primary importance, then they are probably, actually making something else... it still might be a kind of art (say, literature, for example, or theatre), or it might be something else, like politics, or social science, which are valid things to do... it's just not VISUAL art.

8.

Marc C

March 9, 2006, 3:07 PM

... guess I should have re-loaded first...

9.

George

March 9, 2006, 3:24 PM

A dialog is a "back and forth" discussion, it doesn't matter how many people participate.

Art, as it is defined today, encompasses painting, sculpture, installation, performance, video, electronic media, projection media and whatever new fangled idea some artist may have. It is all more or less visual in that we experience it at least in part visually, other aspects we experience with our other senses or conceptually. In the end, we desire a meaningful experience regardless of the methods. I have no problem with discussing a limited subset of the current art practice. I'm a painter but just because I'm a painter doesn't mean I exclude everything else from my interests or inspirations. In other words I'm open minded about it all because I find it all interesting, not just the areas I activlt am engaged in.

10.

Marc Country

March 9, 2006, 3:38 PM

I suppose you're right, George, that "Dialog(ue)" is the only 'proper' word to use, but it's precisely that connotation of "Back and Forth", that I disagree with... I don't think that describes what goes on here at all... more like "forth, and over, and back, and under, and wow, where did that one come from?". Sometimes I agree with you, when the topic drifts to, say, Miles Davis... other times, I think you're wack... I'm not on anyone's "team"....

"Art" includes all the things George listed above, plus poetry, dance, theatre, cuisine, music, film-making, etc.... plus a bunch more, for sure. George has narrowed his list down to what one might call "Gallery Arts", but he is confusing the issue by using just the word "Art". Franklin is clarifying for us where his interest lies, in what he term's "Visual art". "Gallery Art" and "Visual art", as groups, have some overlaps, but they are not the same.

11.

Marc Country

March 9, 2006, 3:42 PM

Seriously, what's so "intimidating" about this?

I think about something, I type it out... I maybe make a few typos.... maybe someone disagrees with me, say's "you're weorse than Attila the Hun" (out of deference to Goodwin's Law)... so what? If I don't like where the conversation is going, I can try to turn it around or, failing that, turn it off. Game Over for today's bout of verbal-Galaga, better go find some more quarters so I can play again.

12.

oldpro

March 9, 2006, 3:52 PM

No one is obliged to "advance the dialogue", George. All we are required to do, thank God, is keep within Franklin's very reasonable guidelines.

If you want to "advance the dialogue" you can ask me what I meant, or disagree with what I said or whatever. I certainly will not prethink every comment I make with an assessment of whether it will fit your dialogue-advancing criteria. Good grief!

13.

Jack

March 9, 2006, 4:15 PM

Another (mis)translation:

Advance the dialog: Talk and reason like me. Deny your own style and voice to suit me. Play by my rules of engagement. Otherwise, I'll get all sanctimonious and PC and schoolmarmish and nag you silly.

Nag away. Not even remotely buying it. If I can't be myself and express myself accordingly, why bother? I don't play the Stepford wife game.

14.

George

March 9, 2006, 4:24 PM

OP #12,

Gee wiz, I took "incoherent" as a one liner, like my "ok but boring" remark, yes it says something but not much. I don't have a particular criteria for advancing the dialog but if this blog aspires to higher things, to promote and hold forth certain values it feels are important, then it would seem that more of an explaination of how you arrived at the term 'incoherent" would be helpful.

Also, (not just for or directed at OP), I think there is an assumption being made here about certain attitudes which assume that we all know that the visual component of what we call visual art has been severely diminished in importance in the last generation.

I do not think this is currently true. It may have been true once but the marketplace is so competitive today it is no longer the case. This is not to say that one will like what the results are but "visual" is back as a primary objective.

15.

WWC

March 9, 2006, 5:01 PM

"This is not to say that one will like what the results are but "visual" is back as a primary objective."

Maybe if you count wall text as visual.

16.

oldpro

March 9, 2006, 5:03 PM

This can get complicated. I think the "market" - what sells to the customers - supports painting pretty well. In fact the market, which everyone bitches and moans about, might be what saves painting from the academics and allows it to proceed and develop on its own terms.

When I stated (overstated, perhaps) that the visual component had been severely diminished I was thinking about what flies in the academy and the magazines and places like the Whitney Biennial and College Art and everywhere people think they are being "advanced". Low visual has the "buzz factor" going in its favor; high visual works better at the auction house.

The way I arrived at "incoherent" was to look at the paintings and then choose the word I thought matched part of my impression of the paintings.

17.

catfish

March 9, 2006, 5:44 PM

While it is possible to look at "art culture" and say the problem is that the current generation has abandonded the visual, I am convinced the key to the decline is a "positive". This generation embraced academicism, including the non-tautology that when everyone joins the avant-garde it is still the avant-garde. The embrace has been extraordinarily exhuberant, irrationally so.

18.

Jack

March 9, 2006, 5:45 PM

From the Artblog Translation Division:

Incoherent: Pointless. Confused. Garbled. Senseless. Dysfunctional (as in Not Working and/or a Mess).

It's OK by me, OP.

19.

Jack

March 9, 2006, 5:52 PM

When everyone joins the avant-garde it is still the avant-garde

That's not just irrational, it's idiotic. Or, to be marginally more charitable, it's blatantly self-serving and self-congratulatory, not to mention hypocritical (I did say marginally).

20.

Weighing in

March 9, 2006, 6:00 PM

I think there have been many worthy discussions on this blog. My response to the whole Artblog comment culture issue is this: I don't want to speak for "the rule" you defined above. I generally don't agree with it myself. I have my own set of beliefs and opinions about art. But when I (and other more thoughtful posters--not the "drive-bys") have expressed views that are different than those frequently voiced here, certain members of the core group tend to automatically respond as though I represent The Rule As Defined Above By Franklin. It is frustrating to sustain a conversation with someone who is arguing over beliefs they assume you have instead of what you're actually saying. I don't care what anyone says--the camps do not divide that neatly.

I also acknowledge that some posters with opposing viewpoints have been guilty of doing this to the core group as well. That's not cool, either.

Another thing is that this is a comment culture that seems to value rigorous and lengthy debates. It's important for there to be a place like this, but a lot of people (myself included) just don't have the kind of time necessary to participate in that.

21.

George

March 9, 2006, 6:08 PM

OP re#16:
What I am trying to point out is the idea, especially what appears to be the idea here, that the "visual" has been diminished is not exactly the case. It is true that there are other modes of expression which give greater emphasis to the conceptual. This does not appear to be the case currently for painting. I sense that there is a "hangover intellectualization" among green painters who have just finished getting their MFA's but it becomes evident soon enough that control over the formal skills are just as important.

I mentioned once before, in reply to a remark, "it didn't matter if you could draw anymore" that yes it did, because there is another artist is standing in the wings with the same idea AND he/she CAN draw. It is erroneous to assume that formal skills and the visual do not matter because the evidence on the ground is to the contrary almost to the point of being academic about it.

I don't have a clue how things get into the art magazines etc but rather than use this as a judge, go on the web and look at the "artist" pages of galleries. Not just in NYC, but LA, London, Germany etc. It's a totally new phenomena of the last couple of years, for the first time ever, an artist can see what is going on in the galleries anywhere in the world.

I also think that part of Franklin's premise for the blog, "the primacy of the visual component", while essentially correct, is incomplete if it does not include content as well. In my view, both form and content together are required to make great artworks. At any given point in time one may be favored over the other but in general both are important.

22.

oldpro

March 9, 2006, 6:23 PM

Form is content, George. Everything that is in a painting is important to the painting. I think we gave been over this before.

There is no way shoprt of writing a book to pinpoint where, when, how, how much and to what extent the "visual", and the esthetic valuation that goes along with it, has been diminished, but to say that this is not the case is just argumentative.

23.

George

March 9, 2006, 6:48 PM

re #22 Form is content
I won't argue against this. Just talk about the form as content.

I continue to disagree on the question about the "visual component" being devalued at least currently. From what I hear other painters saying it doesn't appear to be the case. I'll let it go at that.

For Franklin this is all getting too theoretical. Since you have stated an aesthetic premise in the initial post here. Can you put up a jpeg of a painting or two that fits your premise?
a) made recently since 1980 say
b) that you think is high quality
c) not Olitski (we've already talked about him)

24.

catfish

March 9, 2006, 8:05 PM

Modernism may have fallen in a black hole (flatboy's idea, not mine) but its penchant for spinning theories grew monstrously in the darkness. Now the system is thoroughly infected and most assume art and theory are inseperable.

But youth is turning away from all the supposedly required brain work. Maybe they don't like to think, but it seems to be more than that. They want something to look at and it is starting to show up in the academy. Pomo art teachers are perplexed that students write essays about the best looking works in a show, not the "provacative" ones. A recent exhibition at my university blew students away with sheer visual accomplishment, yet middle aged art academics now secure in their tenure didn't bother to go into the gallery. A look from the door confirmed what they think they know; it was just defrocked picture-making that everybody agrees is "so yesterday".

What will eventually become "so yesterday", if students represent the future at all, is forced "thinking". The time is ripe for an overthrow of conventional practice, especially one that has become so tedious. Even if Franklin gets his articulate defender of "the rule", instinct will win this battle eventually, and youth rules instinct. Eventually could be a long time coming, though.

25.

Jack

March 9, 2006, 8:14 PM

The form is always content, not just in abstract or non-figurative work. The form is always the conduit for what is generally understood as content: subject, meaning, message, feeling, mood. The success or effectiveness of the content is directly related to and dependent on the form, which is what brings it into being and gives it character and life (if life there be in the work). This is why the form is crucial and primary; the content follows from it, or is formed by it, even if the form was specifically chosen or tailored to convey a given content. Nobody is saying content is secondary in the sense of being inferior, but rather that it only really matters, in the context of art, when it has been sufficiently well formed.

26.

Jack

March 9, 2006, 8:27 PM

I miss Flatboy, even though he is a Duchampisste. Of course, he's not the purebred variety, which is quite hopeless. Actually, he may be a subversive mutant of the breed, taken as he was with the sinuous porcelain curves of the...thing. I can see Oscar Wilde having similar feelings, though not necessarily for quite the same reasons.

27.

George

March 9, 2006, 9:11 PM

Franklin: I'm not sure what you mean by I await the appearance of someone, here or elsewhere, who can speak for the rule the way that Oldpro speaks for the exception: with lucidity, certainty, and charm.

Back to basics First, there's me. I believe that the visual component of visual art is its most important one. I believe this to such an extent that if art doesn't have a working visual component, I feel no inclination to discuss it on other terms.

Surely you must have a champion, a younger artist (

28.

socrates

March 9, 2006, 9:19 PM

If we all agree that content has a relationship with form, and is related to its existence, then content must also be related to the absence of form, correct?

Yes, that must be true.

It follows that, since content is related to the absence of form as well as the existence of form, then the so-called Duchampian readymade's absence of form (as defined in the painterly Franklinian sense) could be considered emodying content according to our mutual acceptance of the importance of form.

Agreed.

29.

Hemlock

March 9, 2006, 9:27 PM

A B S O L U T lee

30.

oldpro

March 9, 2006, 9:27 PM

Better go easy on that hemlock, Socrates.

31.

ahab

March 9, 2006, 9:29 PM

The absence of form leaves even dear old socrates pissing in the wind.

32.

Hans

March 9, 2006, 10:22 PM

I really enjoy this kopflastig (head-heavy?) blog and it's discussions initiated and guided by Franklin. Allthough I have often big problems with following the meaning behind the irony on the 6th meta level of the hard core commenters as a non native English speaker, but that's my problem. (I often understand probably a complete different sence in a post, than it was intended, some sort of "DADA postreading" for me)

The opposite blog is a blog like painternyc, where is just a painting, and then following comments and maybe discussions.
Today here the essence for me has been George's:
"I don't have a clue how things get into the art magazines etc but rather than use this as a judge, go on the web and look at the "artist" pages of galleries. Not just in NYC, but LA, London, Germany etc. It's a totally new phenomena of the last couple of years, for the first time ever, an artist can see what is going on in the galleries anywhere in the world."

Yes, right. Following the painternyc-blog it becomes very clear that painting is in a very bad shape today, this blog looks like a bad cooking book. Most people are just not able to make art, as only very few are able to be very good in f.e. higher mathematics...
Much more people can try to make a painting, and it maybe looks like it, but mostly it is no art (for me) One reason is maybe, that those NYC artists all live to well ? Another, that Art became too oversophisticated and in the same time looks soo (erbärmlich) miserable helpless. Something is missing, maybe TRUST, (Winkleman called it very good as TRUTH some days ago) You can not trust that stuff, but you can trust a Giorgione,Giotto,Vermeer, even Picasso and Duchamp in its integrity, in its statements, in its maturity (Reife). A few things I trusted these days:
The art by Rachel Feinstein (don't think I didnt read all 72 comments)
The art by Michael Majerus
The art by Jonathan Meese
I like very much Guy Richard Smit.

Very doubtful for me are between all the others (me included ;-):
Dana Schutz
Inka Essenhigh
All the Leipzig School
Wolfgang Tillmans and so on
I couple of month ago I saw a huge Art show by Jörg Immendorff in Berlin, wow, such a shit, you can not imagine, and how wrong was the Art Market with this stuff, what sold the last 20 years for loads of money. So, sold shit is just expensive shit but, it doesnt mean it becomes any better...

Dont follow the herd, was most often the best advice for a young artist, so these days, maybe young artists should stop painting again ?

33.

Hans

March 9, 2006, 10:27 PM

Sorry, I missed a 's': Guy Richards Smit

34.

ahab

March 9, 2006, 10:28 PM

HA. I just made a comment about the same blog on the previous thread. HA.

35.

Marc Country

March 10, 2006, 1:52 AM

Some things you think (wish) don't need to be said (again), but they do:

'Form', in itself, is not a positiive or negative.
'Content', in itself, is not a positiive or a negative.

Something can have 'lots of form', and still not be very good, as art.
Something can have 'lots of content', and still not be very good, as art.

Those who wish to continue to try to talk of either as seperate from the other, will have a much more enjoyable time at Rene Descartes' blog, to discuss cutting-edge ideas about "mind-body duality"... when you're done there, build a time machine, and meet us back in the 21st century.

Carry on...

36.

jordan

March 10, 2006, 3:22 AM

Great Franklin. Old Pro is just that. He had success, and tries to help younger painters that he believes are pretty good too. Not because he is a genius, but because he had experienced the benefits of a different time. We on the other hand have to work it out on another level - one where bad figure drawing can earn you hundreds of thousands of dollars, (if you know the right people and play the art game correctly). There are people who squish car parts and grafitti them, make resin casts of shit in corners, and can't decide if photoshop is photography or not. (No wonder that you want to leave to an undisclosed location amoungst Gods greenery and look at trees, clouds, rocks, and simple people Franklin).
Old Pro has fire, and understanding this attribute of his is respectably the best teaching that I've had yet. The information age (so-to-speak) has'nt left him speechless, but he has reflected verbally upon an esthetic gap that exists between generations of 'picture makers'. This 'taste' issue is something that he should accept and dissasociate his bias comments from, (as should most of your bloggers which/who tend to be sheep rather than shepherds).
I give credit to those who speak up against the norm however.
Artists often have nothing negative to say towards/about other artists work(s) if they're happy with their own creative objects or manifested ideas.
It seems that many are'nt happy with their own work here however.
This is sad as we're all only here once.
Peace and have a great weekend.

37.

jordan

March 10, 2006, 3:25 AM

I need to meet Hans in person for a chat of sorts...

38.

Jack

March 10, 2006, 11:44 AM

Certainly, Marc (#35). The quantity of either form or content is not the issue; it's the quality, the art of it. The worst hack can incorporate content ad nauseam; s/he can reference anything imaginable, from Dante to Disney, and still wind up with lousy art. Happens all the time. The form can be impressive as purely or primarily technical skill, but it may be a largely mechanical display with no real life or fire behind it, and thus of limited or superficial appeal. There are degrees of quality, of course, and everything does not have to be (and cannot be) a supreme achievement. But things do need to be good enough to deserve being taken seriously as art. Who decides? I do, and so can (and should) each of us.

39.

Marc Country

March 12, 2006, 1:54 AM

Exactly my point, Jack. The 'quantity' is irrelevant. Complaints about work being "too formal", not having "enough content" are wrongheaded. "More" of ewither do mot make for "better".

But things do need to be good enough to deserve being taken seriously as art. Who decides? I do...

Hey, me too!... and I bet sometimes, we probably even agree... ain't art grand?

40.

jakeebs

March 12, 2006, 5:40 PM

at least "you" all "care" enough about art to keep talking about it, at least.

if you want more comments i would say observe the golden rule (and reexamine it) of address the writing not the writer, and stepping out of the virtual ego, and take responsibility, that is, more importantly, being able to admit you are wrong as something more than words, and integrate this modification into your thinking.

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