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Distant early roundup

Post #764 • March 30, 2006, 10:56 AM • 31 Comments

"I should like to arrive in front of the young painters of the year 2000 on the wings of a butterfly." You did, Monsieur Bonnard, you did. Michael Kimmelman reviews, mostly by stepping out of the way, to his credit. (Must restrain self from putting quick jaunt to Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris on credit card.)

In the Art Newspaper, Found: the self-portrait David Hockney gave his first girlfriend almost 50 years ago.

"Neither painting nor sculpture can any longer quieten my soul." Michelangelo. (Must restrain self from putting quick jaunt to British Museum on credit card.)

My eyes - burning! (Supergirl; image via Sully)

Ramen. Confused? Don't be. Theistic religion has never been tastier. Aye! Me parrot concurs. (Reddit)

Just for my own reference, Bertrand Russell on writing.

Department of Skills: Avner the Eccentric. Check the video.

Tonight, John Szarkowski speaks at the Margulies Warehouse. Saturday, starting 11 AM, Momoko is having a garage sale at Books & Books in the Gables. Buy affordable handsome minimalist drawings for your nascent collection. This weekend is the last chance to see shows of Whistler, Toulouse-Lautrec posters, and Milton Avery at the Boca Museum (big thanks to KH).



Marc Country

March 30, 2006, 11:35 AM

Franklin, a companion to Russell's "How I Write":
Why I Write, by George Orwell (an excerpt).



March 30, 2006, 12:08 PM

I wonder if others know of famous, universally highly respected artists they just don't like the work of. I could never stomach Bonnard. I find his pictures smudgy, livid and clumsy. There are plenty of highly regarded contemprary artists I think are third-rate, but there I am much more sure of my taste. Usually, when we have had a hundred years or so to sort it out, I agree with the consensus. Not so with Bonnard.

I also do not care much for Greco and Caravaggio, and Courbet and Delacroix have never quite reached me But I can see something pretty substantial going on with all of these, and I think I might see them at some point. Bonnard is a puzzle. People whose eyes I really respect think his art is pretty good. I don't.

It is interesting how taste works.



March 30, 2006, 1:05 PM

The Whistler show is okay, but not spectacular. The majority of the Whistlers are prints: intaglio and litho. The Ukiyo-e and the Avery are allright, but, eh (to me).

The Lautrec show is really a Litho-poster show, with many more artists outweighing (and often outprinting, though not necessarily outdrawing) Lautrec. One print is by Bonnard. There are two beautiful prints by PAL (Jean de Paléologue-who died in Miami, strangely enough). I found a lot to wonder about and admire in the poster show, but others may not.

However, upstairs, the Boca Museum has a nice permanent collection with many smallish drawings by a huge variety of big-name greats. That was in many ways the most satisfying part of the trip up.



March 30, 2006, 1:31 PM

Intaglio is a broad term that includes engraving, drypoint, etching, aquatint, stipple, and mezzotint. In Whistler's case, it typically refers to etchings.



March 30, 2006, 2:23 PM

Oldpro,I used to feel that way about Bonnard until I saw several examples of his late work in a show in New York some time ago and I was stunned. The work has grown on me over the years.It is slow stuff but quite eerily moving in the end.
I do however agree with you about El Greco--(never could get through that gooey mannerism),Courbet and Delacroix.
Caravaggio is for me a very powerful maker of images and in a class all his own.
Partial list of famous artists I never could quite get: Frans Hals, Renoir, Botticelli, De La Tour, Kandinsky.



March 30, 2006, 2:33 PM

If Michelangelo thought Titian and the Venetian School didn't draw well, I don't think he could even begin to imagine, say, a Keith Haring. I suppose Florence could be accused of having had a disegno fetish, but there are considerably worse fetishes to have, artwise.



March 30, 2006, 3:17 PM

I will have to keep looking, Germain I think Hals is pretty good but at the Met they have them hanging near Rembrandt and that is deadly. Renoir could be pretty good early on but those late, fat, incandescent nudes are very off-putting. And when they had his "La Grenouillere" hanging next to one of Monet's at the big Impressionist show at the Modern (Met?) some years ago it got blown off the wall. De la Tour never interested me either. Kandinskys pre-abstraction landscapes are woinderful and the ealy abstractions are good but he used diagonals too much in them.

Jack, at least Haring's lack of skill is disguised by the comicbook mannerisms. It is worse when some oft hese artists try to really draw something.



March 30, 2006, 3:46 PM

Actually, OP, Haring's lack of skill is impossible to disguise, but I know what you mean.


Harlan Erskine

March 30, 2006, 4:59 PM

FYI - I wanted to go see John Szarkowski speak but I called the collection and this event was filled to capacity (around 350 people) sometime last week and only RSVPs will be let into the Lecture. I just called and thats what they told me. I wish I had known earlier. annoying, if anyone RSVPed and is not going please email me your info.



March 30, 2006, 5:38 PM


Thats an impressive list of artists that you don't get much out of:

El Greco
La Tour
Keith Haring
and that poor old Arthritically handicapped - Renoir

pretty courageous,



March 30, 2006, 5:51 PM

Hmmm: Momoko vs. Linn Meyers



March 30, 2006, 6:57 PM

Feneon, mostly for my students, but also for myself, I have been assembling, from auctions and various odd sources, an image bank of some 19th but mostly 20th C artists I like and can use for teaching purposes. There are about 225 artists in there now and well over 1000 images, and I have really just begun. I really like about 95% of those pictures. Don't worrry; I'm not running short!

And it has nothing to do with courageous. I don't care about that. What I worry about is missing out. An artist like Courbet, for example, would definitely yield more if I paid more attention. Same for some of the others. Bonnard just puzzles me. Haring? No, that stuff is just silly. I mean, George Herriman (Krazy Kat) blows Haring out of the water.



March 30, 2006, 8:57 PM

I've been thinking a lot about Bonnard lately. They called him the Very Japanese Nabi. He does these paintings that look like they should just break but they don't. Sengai claimed to have no method - Bonnard could have done the same.



March 30, 2006, 9:00 PM

Bonnard is definitely a rare treat. I love the work !
Why the puzzle oldpro?



March 30, 2006, 9:08 PM

The puzzle is that I don't like the paintings and most people whose eye i respect do.



March 30, 2006, 9:42 PM

gee wiz, that's not so surprising, we all like different things, uh can have different aesthetic "experiences". It is exactly what I was talking about before, different words.



March 31, 2006, 12:01 AM

Good grief, George, leave it alone. It is not a matter of "differennt esthetic experiences" but of esthetic experience vs. no esthetic experience.



March 31, 2006, 2:20 AM

"Draw Antonio, draw Antonio, draw and don't waste time." So writes Michelangelo (says the linked article), rebutting Franklin's recent post about time well-wasted.

I don't think the one Antonio I know would appreciate it much if I started asking him to pose for me.



March 31, 2006, 2:28 AM

And the Spears statue... it doesn't deserve being called "sculpture."

Even with a google alert set for "sculpture" bringing up three hits a day for the past week I'd managed to avoid seeing any images of this horrid thing. Until now. Thanks, Franklin.



March 31, 2006, 10:16 AM

It is not a matter of "differennt esthetic experiences" but of esthetic experience vs. no esthetic experience.

That is my point exactly as it seems that some have an aesthetic experience with certain works and others do not.



March 31, 2006, 12:48 PM

George, I give up.



April 1, 2006, 12:29 AM

Somewhat off topic but not inflamatory...
Are we near an art market peak



April 1, 2006, 9:00 AM

David Hockney made his best ever here painting for sure !



April 1, 2006, 9:18 AM

What is it that is in the brains of 2d artists that we continue to recognize Michelangelo as valid and more appropriately superior to anything done in over 500 years - I'm not Catholic but he still kicks (political/financial) Modernists asses. I think that Modernists' are a bunch of shams - except for Stella as he is the only recent painter to have delt with 'space' in a progressive manner.



April 1, 2006, 9:35 AM

Jordan, look what showed up in my Inbox last night courtesy Good Reads.



April 1, 2006, 9:53 AM

Stella, Jordan? Good grief!

George, your market discussion is interesting.

BTW The oil crisis bear market was in the early 70s. In the late 70s is when the "hard-asset" blowoff occurred. Also, the correction in the art market in the early 90s was pretty sharp. Lots of records were set in the late 80s and it took 10 years for these kinds of prices to be set again.

The interesting thing about this market is what you mentioned about supply & demand and the new kind of collector. In the past, even when garbage was selling, as it has for decades now, the art market was a "snob" market, a market of "in the know" people. Most people, rich or not, retained the sneering attitude toward "modern art" which has characterized the general population for over a hundred years.

Now, however, we seem to have a very large group of collectors who have eagerly bought into the idea - bought in with their money - that if it is "new" it is "good". This idea has been with us for ages, but now it has spread to the point that it can be called a "popular delusion of crowds".

Furthermore, this notion, by its nature, works down, rather than up. The "established masters" of the Warhol variety are not only no longer new but way too expensive, and middle-level artists have been shown to not have market legs, so the obvious choice is to rush for anything that peeps above the horizon and go prowl around the grad schools and scarf up anything that looks like "new art". This has created a rush not only on fashionable art but art that looks fashionable but has not even proved itself as fashionable.

Thus we have one auction after another where artists you have never heard of no, matter how hard you try to keep up, are sold for tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Every one of them is a "new discovery". This is obviously unsustainable, even on the short term, particularly because kids by the thousands have heard what's going on and are rushing to NYC to be "artists", just as they did to become "actors" 50 years ago.

Speaking of auctions, have you seen the prices of the contemporay Chinese art a day or so ago? Amazing! Everything way over estimate. Hundreds of thousand of of dollars for paintings that would hardly get the artists into respectable graduate programs.



April 1, 2006, 10:37 AM

OP, I wrote most of the early comment from memory. I know gold peaked near 1980. I was in LA at the time and it seemed that in the late 70's the art market their completely dried up except for blue chip works.

What's your recollection?

Re 1990, yes it was severe but I don't think anywhere near as bad as the 70's. It really wacked Sothebys earnings though. I'm going to post something on that next.

The Asian markets are flush, the Japan stock market is super strong and China has an expanding wealthy class. So the auction results were no surprise to me, in particular it seems that some smart speculators were in on this run in advance and worked it for all it was worth.


bob ross

April 1, 2006, 11:00 AM

out of curiosity ,op, what grad programs do you consider respectable ?



April 1, 2006, 11:26 AM

I don't know, Bob. One is given to understand that there is a list of top graduate programs and then some former student sends a brochure of his or her MFA show at one of these places (I just got one last week from Parsons - ouch!!) and you wonder what the hell has happened.

I would say in general a graduate progeam that teaches actual skills and does it well is a good graduate program, but i don't know how to find out who is doing that any more.



April 2, 2006, 12:26 AM

The irrational fetish for "new and different" is both a quick and easy way for collectors to appear "in the know" and an extremely expedient way for dealers to ensure supply of product and maximize sales. It is, in fact, both a delusion and a racket, not to say con game, depending on who's involved. True, those who fall for such nonsense deserve to be taken, as they most certainly are.

While I hardly defend dealers, they, like politicians, are more or less incorrigible. There's little point in expecting them to operate differently, and I don't. What really amazes me is how collectors can be so pitifully gullible and so easy to manipulate. As I said, it's irrational, and that's why I find such collectors more objectionable than the dealers (who couldn't keep unloading crap if there wasn't much of a market for it). The people who buy (literally) into the crap are the ones who "validate" and sustain it, encouraging its continual production and promotion, which is perfectly predictable as long as it sells.



April 2, 2006, 1:35 AM

This article Emerging Artists: No Room to Grow Joao Ribas is worth a read. He is speaking about NYC in particular but some of the factors, like post graduation MFA debt, are applicable anywhere.

The US economy is eventually bound to slow down because of rising interest rates. It's true that the Fed will try to finesse this, but it's like piloting a super tanker in the Straits of Suez, everything happens in delayed slow motion, miscues are inevitable. As a result, I do not see any way that the art market will not suffer a contraction starting sometime next year. I can't say how serious it will be but it will affect the emerging artists in a way I doubt they are prepared for.

If Jack, or I, or OldPro, or Art Soldier, or Franklin, or..., were to weed the garden, we might
all do it differently but in the end the garden will be sparser.



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