Previous: A fable (44)

Next: Solidarity Monday (20)


Post #812 • June 16, 2006, 1:35 PM • 67 Comments

Kiefer paints Velimir Chlebnikov at the Aldrich. This looks pretty promising, although I could live without that shed - that's just showing off. And, look! I could drive over and check it. What a deal.

Hello, Mother.

A step by step ukiyo-e demo from David Bull. (Kottke)

"Pablo Picasso is having a tough summer in Madrid. He can handle it, though with nothing like his usual insolent panache - you can feel him sweat." Peter Schjeldahl reviews Picasso. feels enormous chagrin at missing's mention of National Day of Slayer last week. Next year, festivities will be conducted accordingly. (The list of artblogger/former metalheads grows.)

Assuming I don't bomb the HTML manually, the Atom feed now validates.

Department of Skills: The Ditty Bops. They sing. Amanda plays mandolin and juggles. Abby plays guitar and draws. They have a great website. They're currently touring the US, by bicycle. The new album swings, in the superlative sense. (Davee)




June 16, 2006, 3:36 PM

Schjeldahl can't see. No artist should be that taken for granted, especially Picasso, who painted bad pictures by the hundreds, Guernica included, "icon" though it may be.



June 16, 2006, 7:35 PM

Picasso, for a variety of reasons, was practically ideal for media purposes, especially in his unabashedly chauvinistic times. Once he became a certified major brand name, he was also a veritable middlebrow culture wet dream. Dali had somewhat similar advantages, but he overplayed his hand and got too carried away with his own foolishness, eventually becoming too much of a caricature. Picasso was a far savvier operator, and his much greater talent didn't hurt, either.

Still, the fact is he blew his wad fairly early, impressive though it was, and spent decades cranking out degenerate work (relative to the work of his prime). He had the great luxury of not having to give a damn, because business was always great and celebrity never wavered. The art establishment, let alone the mainstream media, went right along, like good little sheep. He was Picasso--that's all that mattered. Safe as houses. The recent outrageously overvalued Dora Maar sale, unfortunately, indicates the situation persists.



June 17, 2006, 5:59 PM

Re: The Ditty Bops.

Why are they only wearing underwear throughout the whole thing?

Bill Monroe never wore underwear alone in concert. David Grisman is not known for his underwear performances. Bobby Osbourne wears clothes over his underwear when he plays. I know. I've seen them in person. Clothes!

Why not these two?

Granted that links to a video, and not a concert, but really.



June 17, 2006, 6:01 PM

Sorry, I threw an extra "u" in Osborne.

My fancy fingers want to add extra vowels to everything.



June 17, 2006, 6:26 PM

Ah. I see that The Ditty Bops perform in their underwear as well. The gent Ditty Bops too.

Well, there you go.



June 17, 2006, 6:40 PM

Lately they seem to prefer white collared shirts, white pants, and neckties.



June 17, 2006, 7:23 PM

Did anyone go see the new show at MAM that opened Thursday?



June 17, 2006, 10:24 PM

KH, they are not wearing underware. They are wearing outerwear styled as underware and no underware.



June 18, 2006, 12:20 AM

Under where, George? Sounds like you are into the sauce again.



June 18, 2006, 8:12 AM

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi, that's my motto.



June 18, 2006, 9:33 AM

I'll take the bait, Jack!

Yes. I went--though I was late, so I missed the artists' talk. I gather that there was some kind of mental scuffle on stage concerning the definition of painting, which seems like an old kind of argument to have, but nevertheless, it tends to be a fun one. Perhaps someone who went and/or participated could fill in the details on that; it's perfect fodder!

I found the show to be surprisingly pleasant, given that the implication was that it was a painting show. [Kidding!!] I think the show should drop the "Painting (and more)" from the title and be retitled "Big and Juicy". There's actually a lot of scupture, most of which I am familiar with, but some of which I am not. The show seems to be half familiar and half unfamiliar, if I'm recalling properly, which I may not be. Since I was late, I cruised through there like a scientologist on a motorcycle, counting on the fact that I'll be having a walkthrough of the show on Wednesday as part of the Docent training.

PS--George, you're right (in the case of the video)! [Good call! It seems your keen family garment-appreciation runs true ;) ] However, the band website photos seem to depict actual undergarments for both genders.

Franklin--the olde-tymey banker's look never goes out of style!



June 18, 2006, 11:43 AM

I wasn't baiting you, KH, but I wasn't especially interested in exploring underwear issues, either. I was thinking about seeing the show this weekend and wanted to hear some preliminary reactions to it, though I'm sure the opening was not the time to really see it. I'll just have to go myself and deal with it.

Still, if you want bait, you can always go for this prime Picasso lure:

"Women are machines for weeping." Yep, he said it.


Marc Country

June 18, 2006, 12:07 PM

I gather that there was some kind of mental scuffle on stage concerning the definition of painting, which seems like an old kind of argument to have, but nevertheless, it tends to be a fun one.

I like "an old kind of argument", but I can't help but wonder what 'new kinds' are available to the discerning argument enthuiast....

...and now, we're back to Monty Python... "I'd like to have an argument..."



June 18, 2006, 12:29 PM

Jack, I didn't mean to imply that you were maliciously baiting me! Just that: I'll bite.

I really dislike Picasso, and the quote you cited is a great example of why. I like a couple of things he did, but that's as far as I'll go toward saying anything favorable about him. Sorry I can't get more excited about dissing him; it's not worth it.

Yeah, and the underwear thing was stupid. I want a moratorium on women performing in their undergarments until men in underwear are treated equally.



June 18, 2006, 12:33 PM

it's perfect fodder!

Yeah, that's just what I feel like doing right now - finding out what Triff and two Snitzer artists had to say about painting at a MAM show. KH, you've used the line on me a couple of times that I'm too ensconced in privilege to see the problems it creates. It's your turn.



June 18, 2006, 12:34 PM

Marc, that was a totally half-hearted comment, not at all up to your usual standards. What, are you taking us for granted around here? Throwing us a bone or something? Full effort, bro. Spice it up.



June 18, 2006, 12:36 PM

Franklin, what?? What the H are you talking about?

It was apparently a discussion between Lynne and Enrique Martinez Celaya that I think you would have found interesting--unfortunately, I didn't hear it, so I can't relay the salient points to you.



June 18, 2006, 12:38 PM

Do the Red Hot Chili Peppers count?



June 18, 2006, 12:39 PM

Press release said Gavin, Lynne, and Celaya on the panel with Triff moderating.



June 18, 2006, 12:39 PM

Damn, I'm annoyed now. The talk was moderated by Peter Boswell, not Alfredo Triff! And the discussion I'm referring to was a back and forth exchange between Lynne Golob Gelfamn and Celaya.

Are you offended that I used the word "fodder"? How about if I'd said "an appropriate topic of discussion for"? Because I think it would be.



June 18, 2006, 12:41 PM

I'm hoping for underwear equity across the board.



June 18, 2006, 12:44 PM

Boswell moderated. My bad. 2/3 Snitzer artists was correct. Triff moderated the talk for the MAM transitions show. You're annoyed? Welcome to the club.



June 18, 2006, 12:54 PM

You know, Franklin, it doesn't matter if they are Snitzer artists; they may have something worthwhile to say. The suggestion would be like suggesting that all Dorsch artists are one way, and that if you've heard one, you've heard 'em all.

Lynne's not some novice artist; she's got a long productive career, and to discount her contriutions because of who her gallerist is would be unwise.

Ditto Celaya, who, because he is not a Snitzer artist merits no consideration? Celaya apparently had some strong and interesting points that I think you and your audience would enjoy.

Now if we can only find someone to relay those points for us here.

Annoyed? Club? Yea.



June 18, 2006, 12:57 PM

Whatever may have been said at the MAM talk is of little consequence, if any. Artists can talk till they're blue in the face, and that's all some of them seem capable of, but the bottom line never changes. Not mine, anyway: How good is the work?



June 18, 2006, 1:00 PM

Apparently, I'm agitated enough to drop letters while typing.

Jack, I think it's well documented here that the only person who can answer that question for you is you.




June 18, 2006, 1:03 PM

I didn't mean to discount their contributions, whatever they might have been. All I meant to convey was that I don't feel like hearing about it right now.



June 18, 2006, 1:12 PM

KH, your statemen about Picasso in #14 sounds ignorant. I think the level of discussion in this blog assumes that one can "dislike" an artist and still consider the possibility that his work may deserve more than "I like a couple of things he did", and that the attitudes, perhaps, should be mutually exclusive. It sounds as if you don't know the difference.

Marc's remark in #13, to which you took exception, was entirely appropriate, implying that your dismissal of an argument that has occupied estheticians and others for the last century as "old" was also supercilious. However I do agree that he should have made it stronger



June 18, 2006, 1:12 PM


Back to undies?



June 18, 2006, 1:16 PM

OP, at a personal level, I feel the way I stated about Picasso. On an art-historical level I can appreciate his place and role in the scheme of things. I am able to maintain a distance between the two. I understand a lot more than you give me credit for.

I did not dismiss the "old" kind of argument. I said I think this audience would be interested and find it of value. I don't use the word "old" to suggest that something lacks value.



June 18, 2006, 1:37 PM

Marc and I both saw "old" as dismissive, KH, and I suspect anyone else would have too, but have your way.

Re Picasso, I am obviously not referring to "personal level" VS "art-historical level", even if these things can be considered "levels". I was referring to the nature of one's "personal level" relationship to an artist's art VS one's feelings about the artist as a person. I guess you really don't know the difference, or comprehend it, even.



June 18, 2006, 1:46 PM

Of course I do, OP. Thanks for the credit, as usual!


Marc Country

June 18, 2006, 6:02 PM

I wrote:
I like "an old kind of argument", but I can't help but wonder what 'new kinds' are available to the discerning argument enthuiast....
KH wrote:
Marc, that was a totally half-hearted comment, not at all up to your usual standards. What, are you taking us for granted around here? Throwing us a bone or something? Full effort, bro. Spice it up.

I don't think I'll be able to out-spice the Chili Peppers, sorry KH. Maybe you misunderstood the intention of my comment... I'm being serious.
What "new kinds" of arguments are out there for us?
Since you brought it up...



June 18, 2006, 7:37 PM

OK, so I went to MAM today after securing enough quarters for the parking meter (that's very important, since parking meter enforcement is one of the few consistently efficient functions of our delightful local government--for the public good, of course).

The show, considering it's MAM and summer, was better than I expected. I'd seen a good bit of it before, including pieces which, contrary to the press release, have been shown pretty recently (such as, regrettably, a green Francesco Clemente thing which should be permanently banished to storage). I'd say about 20% of the stuff worked reasonably well for me, and, for MAM, that's an improvement.

I gather MAM's trying to convey the message that it's making strides in building up its relatively paltry permanent collection, but the fact is much of the "new" stuff is on loan from private collectors. A lot is being made of (two) works recently purchased by the Collectors Council, neither of which shows the greatest discernment imaginable. One is a big wall painting by Arturo Herrera (red markings on a white background) which looks like Tao Rey on muscle relaxers. The other is a large geometric abstraction by Sarah Morris, which initially seems lively enough (if somewhat generic) but gradually loses impact.

What did the Morris in for me was standing in a spot from which I could, by simply turning my head, go back and forth between her and a smaller non-abstract Hans Hofmann (from 1942) which was really lively, and only got more so. It made the Morris seem relatively decorative and inert by comparison. There was also a nice Gottlieb (from 1947), chromatically delicate despite the "primitive" pictogram patterning. A big and juicy Scully, despite being largely confined to shades of gray, was a pleasure to see again.

Other things new to me which were worth seeing included a juicy if hectic Cecily Brown triptych (better appreciated from across the room), a pastel and charcoal portrait of an old man on paper by George Segal, a minimalist (yes) 4-panel piece by Lucio Pozzi which I found rather sensual (better appreciated up close), and (to some extent) a Botero still life from 1967, especially the black bottle in it (he's still highly overrated, but some of his more restrained still lifes work for me, up to a point).

There was the obligatory Richter (bright orange) squeegee thingie (yawn), some utterly pointless and also orange trifle (OK, big trifle) from someone named Yek (more like yuck), a patented tropical kitsch number by Rosenquist, a laughably hideous Fabian Marcaccio (imagine a more aggressive and pretentious Kenny Scharf), and, not to be outdone (which, admittedly, would take some doing) a huge, frightfully awful monstrosity by David Salle, threatening to suck up the entire building like a black hole. I can easily imagine it as the favorite painting of Darth Vader (before he saw the light). Of course, if one takes it as a joke, which it ultimately is, then it's not so bad.

There were other things, of course, but I've gone on long enough. Now you may return to discussing underwear, though I rather hope not.



June 18, 2006, 7:50 PM

Thanks for the review, Jack. I wish I had your determination. I spent all afternoon suffering with my own paintings, which is real torture when it is not going well.



June 18, 2006, 8:08 PM

Well, OP, one look at the Salle at MAM will immediately and dramatically improve your mood. Next to that ghastly embarrassment, practically anything at all decent would look like a masterpiece. I can only guess what was paid for it, especially if it was bought when Salle was a hot item, but it makes a statement, all right. What kind of statement is another issue.



June 18, 2006, 9:28 PM

P.S. The Herrera wall painting is described in a blurb at the MAM website as "a highlight of the exhibition." Uh, I don't think so (not unless big = high). I mean, it's harmless enough, compared to the positively toxic Salle, but no cigar.



June 19, 2006, 12:08 AM

Picasso taken down a notch.

A dazzling gold-flecked 1907 portrait by Gustav Klimt has been purchased for the Neue Galerie in Manhattan by the cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder for $135 million, the highest sum ever paid for a painting.

Pic: Gustav Klimt, 1907 portrait "Adele Bloch-Bauer I."

Article in the New York Times



June 19, 2006, 12:52 AM

Thanks, George, but, good grief, it looks like some kind of obsessively fussy second-rate Art Nouveau poster with a badly painted grissaille figure stuck in it.

Does the art get worse as the price goes up? Seems that way.



June 19, 2006, 1:32 AM

Interesting tale of inheritances lost and found in that Times article. I kinda like the jpeg of the thing, but if I'd gotten it for the $134million I offered, I'd have cropped two-fifths off the left side right away.

Gold paint must be expensive, eh?



June 19, 2006, 1:43 AM

Ahab, The color of theTimes photo might be somewhat deceptive.
Here is a different one

Also, I think it's gold leaf, not gold paint.

Whatever, it's history now.


Marc Country

June 19, 2006, 2:38 AM

"X-Men: The Last Stand" reportedly cost $210,000,000, making it the most expensive film ever made.
'History', or trivia?... What's the difference, when the criteria is "Most Expensive..."?



June 19, 2006, 2:41 AM

Marc, I knew exactly what you meant. It felt like you were just going through the motions, like witty commentry has become a job for you.
It was, well . . . you know, *yawn*.

Which reminds me.




June 19, 2006, 7:51 AM

Marc, like blogs, Google and much else. Wikipedia is one of the delightful unintended consequences of the internet.

Yes Ahab, much could be cropped from the painting. But I am not sure whaich part I would keep. Sorry your bid was too low, but now you can go buy a town or a thriving busiiness. Or me, for that matter, though probably not much of a bargain..



June 19, 2006, 7:55 AM

Old Pro: I would really like to see your paintings. Anyone who could reduce a Gustav Klimt masterpiece to a mere "fussy second rate art nouveau poster" MUST make higly enlightened works...please direct us to your progressive and ground breaking paintings.

If you paint as well as you talk smack, I'm sure my life will change upon seeing your work.

I suggest Franklin conduct a monthly online critique for all who care to a jpeg and let the lava flow.

Talk the talk, Walk the walk.



June 19, 2006, 7:56 AM

The Klimt looks markedly better in my book on him - the middle third of the jpeg is as flat as plywood, the colors are desaturated, and the contrast took a hit. The model is more pearlescent than gray. It looks like a beaut, and it's nice that it's going to the Neue rather than a wall over somebody's buffet table. The Neue's a great institution. I'm hoping that they'll get confused over my name and show my work there accidentally one day.



June 19, 2006, 9:23 AM

I appreciate the sarcasm, Morf, but the Klimt and my opinion of it have nothing to do with my paintings. It is not a "masterpiece". Just look at it.



June 19, 2006, 9:24 AM

And, furthermore, If you think it is a masterpiece nothing I can show you will do much good.



June 19, 2006, 9:25 AM

The Neue Galerie? In Manhattan? Well, I suppose very rich people are entitled to their affectations. When I open my museum in Kendall, the staff will only speak French, and will be very snotty to anyone who doesn't. It's either that or have everything, from catalogs to press releases, in Latin. Very classy, no?



June 19, 2006, 9:29 AM

(sorry for the multiple posts) Franklin George's link in #40 is a much better reproduction of the picture and improves it somewhat, but not my opinion of it.



June 19, 2006, 9:42 AM


The Neue Galerie is a museum of early 20th century German and Austrian art in NYC (87th near the Met)
I have seen some interesting exhibitions there, the space is rather intimate, it's nioe.



June 19, 2006, 9:47 AM

I had a great time at the Neue. They have excellent work and have presented it beautifully. Even the signage was handsome.

OP, even George's link to the Klimt looks worse than my printed image of it. What can I say? For $135M I'd want a studio the size of an airplane hangar and my own support staff, including a full retinue just to wait on Supergirl, fanning her with palm fronds and massaging her feet if need be. But its a beautiful painting.



June 19, 2006, 9:49 AM

Look at it this way, OP: Lauder got his money by way of a cosmetics queen. Can you think of another painting she would have liked better? It's very fitting, in my opinion. An advertising tie-in to some swanky perfume or facial rejuvenating cream seems a natural fit. I mean, look at the complexion on this woman--all the New York socialites would kill to look that dreamy and pearlescent. And the dress! It's a steal.

Seriously, this is a prime example of its kind, the society portrait, and an icon of a certain time and place and sensibility. Of course it's decorative, but honestly so. It's more significant in its way than the Dora Maar it topped in sale price, which was essentially Picasso knocking off himself.



June 19, 2006, 9:57 AM

Re#51, Franklin

Screw the $135 M, I'd take a muse like Adele.

I haven't seen the painting the flesh, but when it turns a neue leaf and shows up here I'll go see it for sure. I looked at several jpegs of the Klimt, as one might expect, they are all different. My hunch is that it is a great painting but I want to give it the "experience test" before reducing it to just a mere poster.



June 19, 2006, 10:01 AM

Damn, and I could've made a cool one mill. I'm so bitter that I'm just going to steal the jpeg for my desktop wallpaper.



June 19, 2006, 10:12 AM

As for gold leaf and the painting not reproducing well online, one of the glaring problems with a digital image is its unsuitability for accurately rendering metallic colours like gold or silver.



June 19, 2006, 10:56 AM

Franklin, your distribution of your $135 million sounds a tad better to me too.

I guess I am in the minority on the Klimt. With all due deference to the "in the flesh" contingent, however, I really don't think seeing actual gold leaf will help much. The thing is artsy-craftsy, fussy, uptight, dull and pretentious. I really think if we all saw it at a deco fair and had no knowledge of Klimt we would evaluate it as a handsome piece of nouveau wall decoration and leave it that. It just doesn't hold up as art.

Look at the links George just posted and see what you think. These are better, most of them, but they are still inert and overworked. There's no real life to them.



June 19, 2006, 11:14 AM

Re: #57
OP, quit fooling around here and get back to work in the studio.

I picked out the links based on stylistic similarity to the painting recently sold.
Others might want to go to and check out the others.

Klimt's style was heavily dependent on color, line and patterning, yes it's probably considered part of the Arte Noveau movement and if one can't get past that... There appears to be an influence from Japanese woodblock prints but in my opinion, he took the idea and made uniquely his own. They look good to me



June 19, 2006, 11:25 AM

Mark me down as one of the "in-the-flesh" contingent. When I was an ignorant pup, I used to consider Klimt's work to be pretty sorority art.

Until I actually saw one in person.

It's fine work, OP.



June 19, 2006, 12:27 PM

They're even better in aggregate. By themselves sometimes they just look weird. The parameters are more apparent when they'e around each other.



June 19, 2006, 12:41 PM

Well, I may be an ignorant pup, or not minding my "parameters", but I have seen lots and lots of Klimts, including some with metal (perhaps gold) on them, and they are not great. That's about all I can say about it.



June 19, 2006, 1:47 PM

Okay. You don't like Klimt.
No biggie.



June 19, 2006, 1:49 PM

[I mean his work, of course--s'pose I should have said "Klimts" just to be on the safe side.]



June 19, 2006, 3:05 PM

I won't say "Klimts". "Klimt" is hard enough.



June 19, 2006, 8:41 PM

Klimt was initially an explicitly decorative painter in an academic vein and very successful in that line of work. He then changed to a more avant-garde approach, which met with opposition and caused his official commissions to dry up. He remained popular with private patrons, especially for his portraits, mythological and allegorical paintings.

Women were central to his work (he was also a great womanizer), and he surrounded them with rich decorative patterns to highlight their sensuality (and, I suppose, express his). There is a certain rarefied preciousness involved, and a hothouse refinement which can be seen as decadent, but the work remains seductive nonetheless, taken on its own terms. It is fussy, but again, it succeeds beautifully in its intent, superficial though it may be. Klimt simply played to his strengths.

One can take him as a kind of Boucher, albeit less painterly and more stylized, more artsy and artificial (although Boucher did say that he disliked nature because it was too green and badly lit). Klimt's work is not great--there's too much Faberge in it, for one thing--but it does work, which is always respectable.



June 19, 2006, 8:44 PM

I like the Boucher quote. Thanks!



June 19, 2006, 11:28 PM

re: #65 Bunny's rubbing off on you Jack: good informative judgement-based writing.



Other Projects


Design and content ©2003-2022 Franklin Einspruch except where otherwise noted