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Post #775 • April 14, 2006, 8:23 AM • 20 Comments

The First Post displays a series by Ellen Kooi.

Bunny Smedley reviews Ruisdael at the Royal Academy, a version of a show that I had a word about myself in January. After a two-year hiatus, she has reactivated Electric Review Online as a site of her art writings. And oh, but can she write.

Nice photo spread of visitors looking at the Ron Mueck show at the Cartier Foundation. (Reddit)

Have you been by studiosavant lately? Go. Just go. Take off!

Pulse. The author trained in fine art and is now advancing an evolutionary approach to culture and system design. He is delivering his book traditionally, as well as digitally in several flavors. Some of the delivery ideas are intriguing, some are unpromising. All of them together may be unprecedented. If someone were to ask me what the future of publishing is going to look like, I'd point them here.

Can't... stop... watching... We had a project like this back at RISD freshman foundation. This is dedicated to all you first-years out there. (Reddit)

CNN: China launches museum-building frenzy. Note to self: Keep working on Mandarin.

Chelsea, or Leipzig? Leipzig.

"We feel as if this frozen moment from 525 years ago will soon cease to exist, and as the artist scribe begins to move the pen in his hand, his beautiful face will light up in even greater happiness, as if he is watching someone else's pencil race across the page." Orhan Pamuk covers Bellini and the East at the National Gallery, London, for the Guardian. JL comments. (AJ)

New art: one, two, three, four.



Marc Country

April 14, 2006, 11:51 AM

Thanks for plugging studiosavant again, Franklin... had I known we'd be on your roundup, I wouldn't have rehashed those Chomsky excerpts I already posted here (they took me a while to type out, so I wanted to get some more mileage out of them).

Also, your 'new art' kicks ass.



April 14, 2006, 5:59 PM

Hey, lots of nice nudes in your studio !



April 14, 2006, 8:06 PM

#2 and #4 are my favorites out of your new paintings above. #2 suggests an expressionist Delacroix, and #4 is like a fusion of Picasso and Dali (a fusion that works in this case).



April 14, 2006, 8:18 PM

Of course, #3 is nice, too. Was it inspired by Ukiyo-e work?



April 14, 2006, 9:51 PM

Ukiyo-e is huge for me, but I didn't have anything overt in mind. However, that is the brush hanger I brought back from China on the windowsill.



April 15, 2006, 12:39 AM

I love your new work. Your paintings are getting stronger. I can't explain it. I've always
appreciated your work, it reminds me of several painters that I love--Soutine, Auerbach, David Park, and Dieberkorn's figurative works...
Your colors are more vibrant, and the spontaneous
gestures seem to have greater depth. #2 is fleshy and sensual. #3 has an Eastern
sensibility as noted above--I wonder how you have the time for this
great blog and still manage to paint?



April 15, 2006, 12:42 AM

Blue Robe (also known as #3) is really great. May I wallpaper my desktop with it? Too late.



April 15, 2006, 1:03 AM

I quite enjoyed reading Bunny's Medley.

My kids, nine and eleven (years old, not #9 and #11), were absolutely mesmerized by the crazily precise lowtech Japanese(?) machines.

I hope we do you proud with our Canadese(eh!) blog.


bob ross

April 15, 2006, 8:03 AM

"Painterly" is another way of saying sloppy for a nervous hand and flinching wrist. Soutine? a bit of a stretch. While loose and thick, Soutine was always precise, which these are not. And you seem to have a fear of painting faces in. The head is a formless blob gesturing balloons and lollipops rather than character,line,gesture. These are people, remember? You seem to forget that in favor of the academic "nude" (though robed....)
The colors are ok. I can jive with them. The space works for me as well, especially #3. But, my problem is with the stiffness of the figures. For all the fancy-dancy paint application, the pieces are uncomfortably stiff.



April 15, 2006, 8:11 AM

Aside from the continuing opportunity it presents for sour fulmination on the excesses of the art business the nice thing about this blog is the pleasant surprises that come along. I go right along with Ahab on Smedley and with his kids on the Japanese Rube Goldberg contraptions, despite that they suffer in comparison to those of Fischl & Weiss.

Smedley is a real discovery for me. Her writing is full of life and wit and, amazingly enough, she seems to have a real eye, at least from what little I have read so far on the Electric Review archive. She actually gets breathless about a patch of yellow in a Ruisdael and makes an elegant comparison to something similar in Vermeer's "View of Delft". And read her piece on Tuymans - ouch! My kind of art critic, for sure! Check it out and you will see what we are missing. I have bookmarked Electric Review and will read it all when I get time.


Bunny Smedley

April 15, 2006, 2:09 PM

Thanks, Franklin, for the really kind words.

I'm almost glad, though, that I didn't read your Ruisdael piece until yesterday, since if I had, it would have been far too tempting to have adopted as my own your excellent point about Ruisdael's legion of very bad imitators and how they affect our experience of viewing his work now ....

And oldpro, thanks for your comments. For what it's worth, I mostly write for entirely selfish reasons - because writing makes me look more closely - but it always comes as a boost to hear that someone else enjoys reading this stuff, too.



April 15, 2006, 2:40 PM

Yes, the Smedley review is very good, and of course highly atypical for the current practice of writing about art. I especially responded to this passage:

he painted for a clientele that still knew how to look — not simply to scan an image for its meaning, as if it were a piece of roadside advertising or a corporate logo, but really look — with patience and persistence. Truly, hard though this may be to believe, Ruisdael’s contemporaries, like Constable’s, could lose themselves in an etching

It's what I try to do, though no doubt I could do better. And it's what I absolutely expect and require from anyone who wants my respect as a commentator on art. In other words, no eye, no sale.



April 15, 2006, 4:37 PM

The reason they could get "lost in an etching" tells us in one simple anecdotal phrase what real art is. They knew what they were looking at, knew the intricacies, the tortuous path of learning and revising and evolving, the subtlety and sensitivity of the technique, all the delicate neurological fine-tuning that is folded into a great print or painting by a great artist.

This is entirely unrelated to art as we know it today. If we want to find examples this attitude at work now we must turn away from art and look where there is high craft and focused excellence, professional sports ("The Science of Hitting" by Ted Williams, for example) or movie special effects - that kind of thing. Art is not "art" any more, for the most part, not in the getting-lost-in-the-etching sense, for sure.



April 15, 2006, 6:41 PM

...but what does "High Tory" online journal mean?



April 15, 2006, 7:11 PM

Conservative, resistant to change and reform



April 15, 2006, 9:01 PM

For what it's worth, I love old prints of various kinds. There is more art in many such prints by relatively obscure artists than in much current work hyped to the skies and outrageously overpriced.


Marc Country

April 16, 2006, 2:53 AM

Contrary to Jack, I pick #1 and #3 as my faves from the quartet.
Something about the flatness of the figure in #4, the outline, the clunky drawing, the head crop, just aren't workin' for me, whereas #2 is super-hot, too much so for me, with that clown-nose peeking in on the right... and I think I want a bit more clarity in the underarm-knee-breast triangle.
Picking nits.
#1, for me, has a problem in the lower middle of the painting, where the brushes meld with the woman's lower half, due to a blending of tones and colours... another artist I know looked at this one (appreciatively) but I believe thought there may have been some problem due to the "V" shape of the woman's neckline being somewhat repeated in the "V" of the brushes in the foreground... maybe she'll comment on that here, later, herself.

... for what it's all worth. It may all just be subjective, since I tend to like the colour green.



April 16, 2006, 7:10 PM

painting number 2 provides some jumping off points. the figure from the neck down is the most impressive place to mine from the four pictures. paint application, color and results.

the rest of the picture in #2 does not hang with body portion mentioned above. only the small upper left green/yellow corner works with this picture on an equal level. it seems you have put more effort and insight into the body (as is the case with many of your other pics), but left the background to play a lesser role and it shows. even great artists seem to make this mistake fairly commonly. focusing on making one area look good and rushing through the rest to finish the picture or whatever.

pay more attention to integrating the background to make a more complete picture. it should not just play a substandard supporting role. it all needs to work together.

the pictures in general need a little more push/pull and/or air/breath. the body and robe from picture 3 has some air, but is still not as good as the body from #2. without air or push/pull the results will be clunky, suffocating and mushy. sometimes just a mess with the additional lack of composition organization.

i'd be curious to see if you had different results with more time and effort spent on the background.



April 16, 2006, 8:08 PM

pick up a brush every now and then



April 17, 2006, 4:21 AM

It's O.K. to look at some other art that one finds interesting, connect with it, and make some stuff that may mirror it somewhat. This may be simular to watching and admiring a film, and realizing that you don't have the resourses to out-do it, thus all you can do at that time is make a documentary that has simular nuances. Nice pics Franklin, especially the third one. These pics are for painters of course.
Do we eat, or do we please each other as painters?
For some, there is/are no financial burden(s) of sorts.
Non-the-less, they look good; I am primarily a visual person also.



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