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Post #840 • July 28, 2006, 9:26 AM • 192 Comments

Because it's not quite a roundup this week. Art stories are a little thin on the ground. Ah, Summer.

KH has my back and I very much appreciate it.

Camp Firstbasawassa's going to be the bombier than ever!

Time to go to Connecticut.

And now, a sneak preview from an upcoming project I can't tell you anything about.


Next week: reviews! Yay!




July 28, 2006, 9:59 AM




July 28, 2006, 11:48 AM

Nice drawings. Very evocative.


Marc Country

July 28, 2006, 12:29 PM

Yeah, I especially like the first one, of the homeless guy making a balloon animal (a trout, perhaps?).



July 28, 2006, 12:56 PM

Dammit, Marc, that's a nun massaging an eel. I thought you were an artist!



July 28, 2006, 1:01 PM

Careful, guys...



July 28, 2006, 1:08 PM

i personally like the woman unzipping her shirt. im personally a fan of more nudity, but they are ok!!!......



July 28, 2006, 1:46 PM

She's not unzipping herself; she's an opera or concert singer emoting.



July 28, 2006, 1:56 PM

sarcasm much?..... nope... never!!....... haha.....


Ass for a head

July 28, 2006, 2:03 PM

I like the guy with an ass for a head.



July 28, 2006, 2:56 PM

Like Rodney Dangerfield, Franklin gets no respect...



July 29, 2006, 2:29 PM

Different subject but I just need some answers.

Can somebody tell me why the Miami Herald’s art critic is sooooo behind? It is really embarrassing!

In today’s paper the featured artist’s accomplishments are old news. The book that she refers as “new” is actually from last year. Is she getting paid extra for trying to promote the gallery, the artist and the collector?



July 29, 2006, 3:14 PM

Ask the paper, Mystified. Us blogsters have given up asking, because there is no answer to be had. The whole art scene down here is Micky Mouse. Nothing in the museums, a bunch of kids working out of art magazines and a daily paper that really doesn't care.



July 29, 2006, 6:52 PM

The Herald blurb linked to in #11 is indeed mystifying. The point would seem to be the artist's inclusion in the book, but the book is definitely not new. So what's the real point, then? As Mystified suggests, there are a number of rather dubious, not to say downright improper, possibilities. It's like asking to have one's integrity questioned. The paper's editorial staff, as usual when it comes to arts coverage, is out to lunch, assuming it even cares at all. Sad.



July 30, 2006, 9:59 AM

Mr. oldpro:

re: #12

What are YOU doing to raise the bar in the Miami art world? why are you so bitter? why are you so full of venom for Miami?

Perhaps we do not live in the same city....I live and work in Miami and I go to museums and galleries on a weekly basis and I see a vibrant creative community. I've visited other cities like New York, Paris and Rotterdam and in many ways we are MORE interesting...there is a sense that anything can happen here. You can create your own scene and thrive.

Saddly a few people may actually believe the drivel that drips from your wrinkled mouth.

Not everything is perfect on one level, but give thanks you are not trying to live and create in Bagdad, Darfur or North Korea.

There are ample venues for everyone to exhibit their work, there is more than one museum to visit....there are generous collectors who open their doors for artists and students to look at important work and new work, and there is plenty of affordable studio space. What is Mickey Mouse about this?!




July 30, 2006, 11:04 AM

Note the irony of a single person being responsible for both "why are you so bitter?" and "the drivel that drips from your wrinkled mouth." Why are you so bitter, Mickey?

Most of my reasons for leaving Miami were personal, but I also felt that I had run out of opportunities to advance my art and writing careers, and solving that problem was going to mean conforming to a set of preconceptions about contemporary art that I don't accept. The primary ethos of the scene down there is something I call the Cult of the Open Mind, in which you can do anything you want except adhere to humanist standards. I didn't feel that I was thriving, just getting by, both financially and artistically. I'm glad you're doing well down there, and I can only wonder what I would think of your work.


Mickey Mouse

July 30, 2006, 11:35 AM


Everyone knows Mickey Mouse is the eternal optimist.

All I read from oldpro is venom for Miami and the creative community.
Miami's artistic community is multifaceted and growing. Mr oldpro and his posse seem to always gravitate towards the same people, places and things to complain about.

You'd think there were stuck in Miami, Ohio.

Interesting with the way things are currently set up you can live or write in Miami and exhibit and thrive globally. My last exhibit was in Toronto and I am working on projects for and in Miami.

Personally, I have not been embraced by the galleries in Miami, but I feel my work is accepted, respected and collected. I hold no grudges because I am not "the flavor of the moment" but perhaps this it due to my personally outlook about and belief in impermanence.

I believe you should work if you feel the need. Show your work if you feel the need and limit the amount of ulcer inducing complaining.

Franklin your thoughts of my work are irrevelant. I paint, draw and build things. Some of these works are great, others are not, but I keep working.

I enjoy this blog and am mostly amused by the sour comments.



July 30, 2006, 12:24 PM

Mickey, I am eternally grateful that I was born and raised in this country and do not live and work in places like Bagdad, Darfur or North Korea.

It is interesting how often a realistic critical appraisal is read as "bitterness". It has happened here often. I have no bitterness at all. None. And "venom" its a tad strong as a characterization of my relatively mild and accurate comments.

After all, Miami is Micky Mouse. I lived in or around NYC for 30 years and was very much part of that art world during that time. That is what I would call a "vibrant scene". Not this.

Part of the problem in Miami is the problem everywhere: the decline of standards in the face of the huge increase in the popularity of contemporary art and the public obsession with "the open mind", as Franklin mentioned above, which started in the 60s and has mushroomed into a national pathology at all levels of culture. When this manifests itself in art we must either criticize or passively allow let dreck to be shoved in our face. If you don't know the difference, or don't want to say, fine, but I think we need to stand up tell the artists and museums and collectors that they have to do better. As long as I have this wrinkled old mouth to say it with, I'm going to keep on saying it.

Franklin, I think I am going to change from "oldpro" to "Opie". I an getting tired of the recurrent ageism we get here.



July 30, 2006, 1:22 PM

A major Miami collector, the MAC person, is quoted in a current art mag to the effect that one of her dearest wishes is to get a Damien Hirst medicine cabinet. Uh, right.



July 30, 2006, 1:51 PM

That may go to my point, Jack. It is a small instance of it. This kind of abject trend following seems to affect all collecting in Miami, as much as I have seen, anyway. I may be all off, but how many artists out there in this "vibrant community" really feel that they need a Damien Hirst medicine cabinet to go look at? How many of them think we need Hirst at all? How about the public? Is this medicine cabinet something that provides esthetic pleasure or is it just a trophy garnered because people in NY and LA and London have one? How may good works of art could be bought for what the thing costs? What leads this collector to think she can boldly make such a statement and feel good about it? And so forth.

Doing what everyone else is doing. This is what I mean by "Micky Mouse".



July 30, 2006, 1:55 PM

Re #17

... I think I am going to change from "oldpro" to "Opie".




July 30, 2006, 1:58 PM

Oh, and the ageism. I know an artist who left Miami because she was in her late thirties, and she was actually doing pretty well there. I didn't feel that it was affecting me so much, but thought it might start once I got to 40. To a certain extent that goes on everywhere, but not nearly to the revolting degree that it does in Miami. People don't wear it proudly like Mickey is doing up there.



July 30, 2006, 2:08 PM

Re #18 & #19

Do they ...really feel that they need a Damien Hirst medicine cabinet to go look at?

You betcha they do, because the "smart money" is suckering the "dumb money" once again.

Whee! There is a sucker born every minute or Art as an investnment according to Merrill Lynch (with links to the ML study, the Bloomberg article, and of course my intrepid observations on dumbness )


Marc Country

July 30, 2006, 2:47 PM

Hey Opie, does this mean we can start refering to Miami not as 'Mickey Mouse', but "Mayberry" instead?


Marc Country

July 30, 2006, 2:51 PM

"Not everything is perfect on one level, but give thanks you are not trying to live and create in Bagdad, Darfur or North Korea."

... or Edmonton.



July 30, 2006, 4:28 PM

No, Opie was a kid, and I am still retaining the "old" nomenclature (Opie as in the German slang for "grandpa") disguised as the Old Pro initials spelled out to avoid all the knee jerk ageist stuff.

Besides, Mayberry was sophistocated compared to Miami (What? What!? Is that venomous or what, you out-of-it walker-totin', slipper-shufflin', toothless, drooling, one-foot-in-the-grave old fart!)

C'mon! Edmonton is cold as hell and a thousand miles from nowhere but nothing like those other places.



July 30, 2006, 6:37 PM

nice brush drawings
what kind of paper are the done on?
I see them being done on rice paper or would that be to obvious a material

Mystified 11.
I know how you feel
I gave up a long time ago with the arts writing from South Florida local papers
When a Local arts writer wrote a review about my show and never actually went to see it
I figured he never seen the show in person because he mentioned a work in the review that I happen to edited out of the show at the last minute
but a slide of it was sent out in the press package by mistake also the review was word for word from the press release.
Time to through the hands up on the air and give up or maybe just laugh.

newspapers are dyeing a slow death because most people are reading online now anyways
which I am sad about.

oldpro 25.
I like the name opie better it sounds and friendly.

A lot of what is happening in Miami the art museums and galleries
has a long long way to go to be considered sophisticated.
The museum collections are only geared in one direction. What direction I have no Idea ? Maybe a trendy direction?
the same problem with a lot of the galleries are to cookie cutter and show a lot of the same kinds of art that is based far to much on trend.

It is not all bad I have seen shows in both museums and galleries that I have enjoyed and I am glad that we have an art community
here rather then having none at all. Just think if Edna Hible was the only art shown in miami .

I would buy a gun a shoot myself.



July 30, 2006, 7:24 PM

OK. So I'm trying to get ready for my ARTnews close-up (you know, when I make it to their Top 200 Collectors list, which is, of course, my life's goal). That should be any day now. All I have to do is pry Bianca Jagger off Hernan Bas so he'll put me on his waiting list, introduce me to his starlet friends, and have them put me on their waiting lists. It'll be all smooth sailing from there.

Anyway, I'll have to answer the usual questions, like "What art work would you get if you could have anything you wanted?" The MAC lady already picked Hirst, so he's taken. Warhol? Too quaint. Picasso? Too dowdy. I know, the list of suitably banal yet correct choices is endless, but that's the problem. How to stand out? I suppose I'll have to bite the bullet and get advice from the experts (our local major collectors, obviously). They can answer those questions in their sleep. Come to think of it, I sometimes wonder if they also buy art in their sleep, but never mind. I need good material to maximize my 15 minutes. It is so hard to be relevant.



July 30, 2006, 7:50 PM

Yes, RL, it does sound more friendly. Less challenging, less threatening.

Well, maybe I can make Opie a name to be feared. Who knows.

Edna Hibel? I never heard of her before now. Yes, it is art worth shooting oneself over. Or better yet, shooting Edna.

Although, in its own way, I have to say I have seen worse on tthe"cutting edge". I guess it depends on what kind of dreck bothers you most: sick or saccharine


Mickey Rat

July 30, 2006, 7:56 PM

Mr. Oldopiepro:

I will ask you once more.

What are YOU doing to raise the bar in the Miami art world?

You speak of the good old days in NYC drinking hard liquor at the Cedar Tavern. You've had ooodles of enlightening experiences and are so worldly.

What are YOU doing to contribute, enhance or elevate the quality of the art community in this city?

......just what I thought.....nil

Miami probobly doesn't need another Damian Hirst, the Rubell's already have an awsome example of his "work" did not change my life but it has remained in my mind. The de la Cruz's have a very inspiring collection of paintings, Martin Margulies never fails to find something new or old and very interesting to bring home to Miami, his photography collection alone can keep your eyes and mind occupied for months....the Braman's, if your fortunate enough to see their collection will leave you the Janson's History of Modern Art and you get the idea. Another Hirst will not hurt. It's those damn Britto's that need to be melted down and recycled or turned into a natural reef. The best place to encounter a Britto sculpture would be deep under water.
This is without even mentioning the museums...the Wolfsonian is world class...where else can you go see Adolf Hitler's toaster?



July 30, 2006, 7:58 PM

Hernan Bas is a good one Jack
Hmmmm? I guess I would have to pick that one
I want to be placed on his waiting list too
but I will need Hernan make something in suttle pinks and blues for me?
It must not fight my Frank Gehry cardboard chair.



July 30, 2006, 8:19 PM

Just a note:
Matin Margulies has been donating work to the Harn Museum in Gainesville FL
The Harn Museum will be having an exhibition of the 28 Photographs he donated in September
He also donated his Joathan Borosky "Hammering Man" 48 foot tall steel sculpture to them.

Doe anyone knwo if he has donated anything to MAM or MOCA in Miami?

I am curious Let me know?



July 30, 2006, 8:53 PM

Re #27:
OK jack, let's cut to the chase, what are you really saying?

The French have a word for where we are (or were) they call it the "Fin of the cycle" It is a reference to a hot mode of self-propelled transportation in the late1890's. (The fin idea got picked up by Cadillac, another Frenchman, but that's another story for later)
Cycle-fins mark a changing of the guarde, the old troops retire and the new ones put on their best finery to stand watch. What I am suggesting is that the folks you have such a difficult time comprehending are the olde guarde, they made their money over the last thirty years and now get to show off by buying (bye bye $$) at the hot hot art boutiques. So what's your beef, that they have the money to throw away and you don't?

So let's call a spade a spade, well maybe we'll need a shovel, to properly pile all this manure, do you really want to be in the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list, well do you? This isn't such a bad aspiration for a man with your sense of taste but you need to be more realistic about it. Unless you are filtheey riché, you will need to start collecting slowly, which means making the Top 200 list isn't a realistic expectoration for a few years at best.

Let me do a wheelie here and flip back to bicycle fins. Chances are the art market is going to experience a little slowdown over the next year. I don't want to imply you'll get that elusive chance to move up on the "waiting list", my guess that stuff is still going to be out of your price range. No, what I'm suggesting is that slowdowns in the art market inevitably lead to change, and a smart guy with an eye can buy in on the ground floor.

Of course, just because you like something isn't going to move you up on the Top 200 list. Nope, it's just like politics, if you want to know what's happening, you have to follow the money. I don't mean like a cat chasing its tail, you cant be the one following, you have to be the one leading. If you collect art you love and then use your influence with other collectors, well it generates a little buzz and the smell of money is like a rotting carcass… Shucks, you could deal a little on the side. Soon, you'll need to buy a white linen suit and a Borsalino hat to wear to all the parties you'll be invited to.

The artists and collectors in Miami, and anywhere else for that matter, don't really care about what someone else doesn't like. If you don't like it, and someone else agrees with you, there is no money flow, no buzz and it is a non event. Negativism is bad for business, you'll never make the Top 200 that way

If you put that sharp wit and precise eye to work, and start writing about the art you like, that works. It gives the unsure collector confidence to take the plunge and write the check, money flows, and the sharks always follow the money You can't change everything, there will always be differences of opinion but it does not matter it's a big big marketplace, there is always room for one more positive opinion.



July 31, 2006, 12:01 AM

Mickey, you write:

"What are YOU doing to raise the bar in the Miami art world?"

What I am doing is none of your business.

One thing I have not done is write about drinking hard liquor at the Cedar Tavern.

The collections you mention are mostly junk. Not all, but mostly. Would you like to single out one or two examples? Just curious. However, If you find Hirst's work memorable we have little to discuss. .


Mickey Rat

July 31, 2006, 8:07 AM

......just what I thought.....nil
......just what I
......just what I
......just what I thought.....zilch
......just what I thought.....nada
......just what I thought.....absolutely nothing

You are nothing but an opinion, no more no less.

Noboby likes or needs a complaining complainer.

What I like is none of your business. And none of what the local collectors like or buy is any of your business either.

There are collections in this city that you will never see, so you write and repeat the same negative comments like a drunkard spewing vomit.

I'd recommend you join B.A. (Bloggers Anonymous)

go fly a kite.


Mickey Rat

July 31, 2006, 8:09 AM

...and I mean literally, Go fly a kite.

The fresh air will do you some good.



July 31, 2006, 8:21 AM

Evidence indicates that you are also nothing but opinion, and rudely stated ones at that. Please read the guidelines, and if you take issue with something OP is saying, make a case for it.



July 31, 2006, 9:26 AM

RL I heard some years ago that Margulies and some of the museums in town were having problems with each other, but this is nothing more than a memory of third hand information


Mickey Rat

July 31, 2006, 9:45 AM


I have asked if oldpro is so negative about miami, and if he is here what is he doing to elevate the art community other that complaining?

He states that it is none of my business, which we all know means he is doing NOTHING.

I've read your guidlines and I am not hurling insults, I am only making a point....oldpro is blowing smoke up our collective asses.

he claims to be a world class successful artist, he lives in miami and he thinks the art community is "mickey mouse"....which is insulting.

I live, work, create, exhibit and support the art is not all good but Franklin/Oldpro should acknowledge that it is young and
shows promise and that there are many excellent artists working in MIami.



July 31, 2006, 10:40 AM

George (#32), I was being, like, sarcastic. I've been known to do that on occasion. I was also bored, so maybe I should have refrained. Those art mag "Top Collector" lists, with their numerical rankings and so on, are pretty cheesy, not to say vulgar, though they're perfectly in keeping with the system they represent and its adherents. They're like a beauty contest, complete with stock questions and pat answers.

So no, I'm not "Top 200" material, nor do I especially want to be, given the context. Not a few of those people make my flesh crawl. I don't play nearly well enough with others to join the happy little family. And you're right, negativism is bad for business, and it's all about business, meaning money and its adjuncts.

As for #34, using the logic displayed therein, OP's opinions are none of his detractors' business, so if he's not entitled to criticicize what's supposedly none of his business, they're not entitled to criticize him. It's all rather silly, of course. The real point is that his view of the current art world, to which he is absolutely entitled simply by virtue of having a brain, regardless of what he does or does not contribute, is diametrically opposed to and incompatible with the approved or correct view, which more or less amounts to this being the best of all possible worlds.

Those who take the latter view are also entitled to it, but they are not entitled to presume that those who disagree should somehow keep their voice down or watch their language to avoid being "negative."



July 31, 2006, 11:07 AM

re #39 Jack,

Hope you noticed the tongue in my cheek too.



July 31, 2006, 11:12 AM

This is tiresome, Mickey. I have an opinion, and I wrote it. This, and the discsssion of ideas, is what blogs are for, at least this one is, the way Franklin has set it up.

Although the evidence indicates it would be painfully one-sided I will be happy to discuss any ideas you have, but I have absolutely no interest in trying to "prove myself" in the face of snotty derogations by someone who obviously has less interest in ideas than displaying rancor toward me. Nor do I have any obligation to, unless I make claims, which, despite your allegations, I have not.

This blog can be interesting when a good argument can develop, when it does, but we seem to spend at least an equal amount of time dealing with juvenile, personal spitefulness like this. if you don't like what I say, contradict it; don't have at me (or anyone else) personally. That's what the guidelines say, and they are good guidelines.




July 31, 2006, 12:24 PM

Lesson : NEVER share studio space with creepy strangers.


Marc Country

July 31, 2006, 1:37 PM

Franklin, I thought this might be up your alley...

Dedalus Foundation senior Fellowship

"The Dedalus Foundation invites applications to its program of grants in support of art historians, critics, and curators pursuing projects related to the study of modern art and modernism. Applicants need not be affiliated with educational institutions or museums; they may not, however, be candidates for a degree. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.

Awards will be made for periods of up to one year. Stipends will vary according to need, with a maximum of $30,000."



July 31, 2006, 2:07 PM

Thank you, Marc. I have a project that would be suitable for that.


Marc Country

July 31, 2006, 2:34 PM

I thought you might.
I found that over at the dreaded CAA website, next to this one:
Post Graduate Fellowship in Studio Art (Abstraction)

The goal of the fellowship is to encourage new and innovative approaches to abstraction. Candidates will be artists working with fundamental problems in the field, including objecthood and illusion, rhetoric and form, presence and theatricality, space and time, art and science. Thorough familiarity with the history of art since 1945, including the major theoretical debates, is required, and the candidate should be actively working to construct a critical distance from canonical positions. Salary, studio and travel expenses provided. Contact Robert Linsley, University of Waterloo, Waterloo ON Canada..."

I wrote to Mr. Linsley last year, requesting more info, and he emailed back a lengthy dissertation on the program... I was gonna post it here for y'all, but it's huge. so I'll go stick it up in the cafe for any of you abstract painters who might be interested...



July 31, 2006, 3:04 PM

Well, I just did my part. I sent a letter to the Miami Herald about the incorrect, old and irrelevant art article on Saturday’s newspaper. I know that their art section is not popular bla, bla bla…. But, I expect the art critic to write at least correct and updated information. We deserve better. Don’t you think Mickey Rat?

By the way, The Herald’s art critic is really Mickey Mouse.



July 31, 2006, 3:22 PM

Marc, please note the sentence " the candidate should be actively working to construct a critical distance from canonical positions."

This means "make it look trendy and don't even think about trying to build on the great art of the recent past."

Kind of lets you out, I think.

Franklin, Dedalus is Motherwell's foundation. They are nominally devoted to modernist standards but they don't always adhere to them.


Marc Country

July 31, 2006, 3:52 PM

Indeed... I had sent my web link along with my request for info, and Linsley responded with:
"Thanks for introducing me to your work. i had a look at your website. I think you are a good artist, but you are not quite within the area that I'm trying to work with."

So, yes, he's trying to fit prospective applicants into his pre-conceived framework (see his 'research' treatise, now at an 'open table' in the, and he's specifically looking for painting, so I'm already disqualified.

I figured, however, that as long as a painter was willing to phrase their discussion of their work in terms amenable to Mr. Linsley's notions (even if it's just lip-service to PC blather), abstraction is abstraction is abstraction... If they can't tell good from bad, then good is just as likely to be selected as bad is, as long as it's presented with enough intellectual pomp(osity).


Marc Country

July 31, 2006, 3:56 PM

At the very least, it might afford someone an opportunity to perpetrate a "Sokal" type hoax.
And, considering the sentence "Salary, studio and travel expenses provided", someone might feel like the pain might be worth the gain.



July 31, 2006, 4:37 PM

"You are a good artist. Mr. Country, but...well...just not one of our crowd, doncha know. You wouldn't be happy here."

How in the world would it be possible to make a Sokal-type hoax with art? There simply is no distinction any more.


whisky sam

July 31, 2006, 5:01 PM

Yes, we really are above and beyond those folks at CAA. Damn those trendy inclusionists, excluding our abstract paintings. We are good artists. We are damn it. We are.



July 31, 2006, 5:19 PM

the candidate should be actively working to construct a critical distance from canonical positions

Is this choice, or what? As in:

"No, Mr. Manet, we don't want any reworking of dusty old Spanish stuff."

"No, Michelangelo, no classical nudes inspired by the antique; Rome is already full of damn broken torsos."

"No, Piranesi, nothing to do with old ruins. You're supposed to be an artist, not an archeologist."

In other words, avoid like the plague what has already been proven to work, no matter how strongly it may speak to you or how helpful you may find it. This is not about that sort of nonsense, it's about new and different. Please get over the quality fallacy. Nobody that matters cares about "quality"--hell, in most cases, they don't even know what it is. They're not supposed to, really. It's too elitist and, you know, closed-minded. Not to mention too damn difficult to figure out. Being with-it is the thing. Conformity is bliss. The establishment would never lie to you or lead you astray, now would it?


whisky sam

July 31, 2006, 5:35 PM

et tu brute?
perhaps you are the conformist.
and you dare to compare the Marc Country to that list of artists!

BAH! fools!



July 31, 2006, 5:37 PM

Re #52

Whoa Jack, are we on the same page?

"... it's about new and different...." sure thing, last century's battle cry.

"NEW" and "DIFFERENT" have been usurped by "BRANDING"

Where we disagree is on the "quality fallacy"

There may be a bit of disagreement on a precise definition for "quality" but there is so much so-so (as in so what?) painting out there that the BEST way to get recognition is to make a really GOOD paintings.

No shortcuts. No kidding.



July 31, 2006, 5:39 PM

OK Whiskey. You had your dripping-with-sarcasm drive-by shot.

Do you have any real opinions?



July 31, 2006, 5:41 PM

Or did I get you wrong? Sometimes it is impossible to tell.



July 31, 2006, 6:32 PM

For what it's worth, and it's surely little, #52 was addressing Mr. Linsley's general position, as encapsulated by the quoted passage by him.

The Julius Caesar allusion is hardly apt in this context, though we are all duly impressed. Or not.

And George, the entire last paragraph of #52 is written as if I were Linsley or his sort, not myself (yes, sarcasm again--imagine that).



July 31, 2006, 7:08 PM

Jack, (57)

I knew you were being sarcastic.

However, I was being serious.

How's them apples?



July 31, 2006, 7:18 PM

Jack, you'll never win with ol' George. He can twist and turn like an eel on the mud bottom.



July 31, 2006, 7:35 PM

George, whether it's "new and different" or "branding," it still amounts to BS, and that's the real point (for me, at any rate). It's still about being "with-it" and going for the hot brand even if it's worthless in real terms (not necessarily material terms). Same dog, different collar. It still reeks.


Marc Country

July 31, 2006, 8:20 PM

It never ceases to amaze me, the people who take the time to post their little zingers, but fail to read the comment they are responding to carefullly enough to understand what it actually says.
I honestly wonder sometimes whether their retarded reading ability leads to their poor thinking skills, or whether it's the other way around.
I don't suppose it'd help much to ask them, though.

Opie, you don't do a Sokal hoax with the art, you just do it with the writing around the art. It'd be pretty easy, no doubt... just read the document up on the cafe, and pull out the hot buzzwords and key concepts. Use these keywords and concepts to create a haze of pseudo-intellectualism around the work, whatever it is.


Marc Country

July 31, 2006, 8:26 PM

"the candidate should be actively working to construct a critical distance from canonical positions"

Of course, as anyone who's been to art school in recent memory knows, the current 'canon' hails Duchamp, Warhol, Beuys, Koons, Holzer,... etc. So, if one is establishing a critical distance from these positions, shouldn't that count?



July 31, 2006, 8:30 PM

Flatboy (who never posts anymore, unfortunately) would do a very good job of such a hoax, I expect.



July 31, 2006, 8:36 PM

Art or art writing, Marc. Amounts to the same thing. As I have said before here, you cannot parody a parody. Sokal is a perfect example. The only thing that separates what he did from the "real thing" is that he SAID it was a parody.

No, this guy did not mean the Canon of Koons, he means the canon of starightforward abstract painting. One never calls the current pop trend the canon because that means it is not "avant" any more. That worm has not turned.

Of coure I know you meant this anyway, but I had to say it It's a perennial straight man's job.



July 31, 2006, 8:41 PM

Now, Marc, you know the guy means canonical positions not currently trendy. Distancing one's self from what's currently "in" is, of course, not to be even considered, much less done. What are you, some crazed heretic?



July 31, 2006, 9:31 PM

Well, U Waterloo? Woo hoo!

Linsley's (faculty at the loo) paintings dont cut it.

He can talk the talk, but can't walk the walk, doesn't have a clue.



Marc Country

July 31, 2006, 9:48 PM

Yes, it's the same story all over... we love work that 'questions assumptions', as long as they're the assumptions you're supposed to be questioning, bub.

I found this little gem from a press release for the Sobey Art Award, "Canada's premiere art prize", a while back...

"The five finalists for the Sobey Art Award 2002, as selected by the curatorial panel, represent the remarkable breadth of practices that make up contemporary Canadian art. Each of their careers is in tune with current thought and demonstrates commitment to a clearly defined creative practice. More simply put, these five artists know how to make stuff that is exciting and thought provoking which places them individually as the avant-garde; the leaders within their regions and the ambassadors for Canada on an international stage."
[emphasis mine]

It's truly amazing to me that the 'remarkable breadth of practices', diverse as they must be, all happen to be 'in tune with current thought', and that the Sobey folks aparently see no irony here. I also love how their "more simply put" line that follows is a complete non-sequitur to what came before it... oh well. They can give their money to whomever they wish, of course. I just wish they wouldn't try to couch it in all this contradictory piffle.



July 31, 2006, 10:02 PM

Well, Marc, I agree that it's risible, but at least it sounds relatively free of presumption. It's quite dumb, yes, but in an endearingly folksy sort of way (though I might feel differently if I were a Canadian artist not in tune with current thought). Why, oh why don't these clueless rich people just stick with what they know and actually understand?



July 31, 2006, 10:05 PM

I want a T-shirt that says NOT in tune with current thought.



July 31, 2006, 10:13 PM



It would be a hot seller



July 31, 2006, 10:27 PM

I think the idea of the "Avant Guard" was a 20th Century idea.

What we have here is academic run off for folks who know how to write grunt proposals.

On the other hand, I believe there are real societal issues which can provide a starting point for an artist. By this I mean some work may be more relevant at certain moments in time. This does not make it better, but it gives it more visibility.

I read Google News every day, it's a litany of death and destruction. It's hard to remain oblivious about it.

Flash! Castro cedes power temporarily…

Meanwhile back at the ranch



August 1, 2006, 12:08 AM

That's well spotted Marc. The problem is no one else will take them to task for it. We need to keep an open mind.

Maybe you can use those "relevant societal issues" in your next grunt proposal, George. That's the kind of talk they like.



August 1, 2006, 5:47 AM

Art doesn't occur in a vaccume.

Art is not about art, it's about life.



August 1, 2006, 8:23 AM

The Sokal hoax was an experiment to see if a prominent journal would publish errant nonsense if it flattered its preconceptions. You could do it with art, if you deliberately set out to make ridiculous work, informed a trusted party that you were doing so in advance, and applied for a grant with it or see if you could get it into a gallery. It has occurred to me to attempt this, but I have my real art to make.

Art is about art. Life is about life.

I forgot to answer RL's question - they're destined for reproduction, and hence are on humble bristol.



August 1, 2006, 10:33 AM

"arrant" nonsense?

It would be inbteresting, if anyone could stand doing it, to see if someone who knows that sort of garbage well, if there really was any real difference between Sokal's text and a "real" text of that type.

Yes, I am getting sick of "about". When you come down to it art and life are not "about" anything. Saying "about" is another way to turn them into head stuff and avoid what they really are.



August 1, 2006, 11:00 AM

Yes oldpro, during the early 60s a certain level of art decided to make itself available to the intellect. That was the beginning of a long reign for "about-oriented" art.

Certainly there are many examples of successful art that conformed to contemporaneous beliefs, but what is new about this stuff is that it attempts, lamely, to change contemporaneous beliefs, as if the artist is now the priest in charge of public belief. The record shows that these art-priests have not been very successful at their self selected role, any more than their art has succeeded on any level except popularity with the art-groupies it created by making itself available to the intellect.



August 1, 2006, 12:22 PM

Yes, art for the ear instead of the eye.



August 1, 2006, 12:51 PM

OK, find another word for "about"

I'm not talking about using words to justify art, I just don't think art happens in a vacuum. We live a life in the real world, it's 2006 not 1959 or 1911 or 1840.

What we think about in the studio, staring at our big toe, is different contextually today than it was 20 or 40 or 100 years ago. At the same time the human condition, our psychology, fears, hopes etc are part of a continuum over time.

When I get up in the morning and read that another 500 people are dead because the world has gone crazy, I'm pissed off. I'm not trying to make a painting illustrating an "issue" about political indifference to human life but I'm angry and don't see any reason to go into the studio and pretend I'm not.

If you think painting is just about resolving some smudges of color on a piece of cloth, then you're disconnected from everything that makes art universal.



August 1, 2006, 1:02 PM

And then you go into the studio, make some art, and those people are still dead, and more are going to die tomorrow. Meh.

Philip Guston had some kind of crisis of conscience about current events and it ended up spurring his art on. That's all well and good. If it helps, you use current events. If not, you pretend there are no current events.


Marc Country

August 1, 2006, 1:07 PM

The requirement that one's art be 'in tune with current thought' is both risible, and derisible (is that contradictory, or redundant?)

Who said anything about art in vacuums, George? What straw man are you arguing with now?

About that real world we live in, I hate to tell ya, George, but those numbers you toss out are arbitrarty labels used to count the earths laps around the sun... what does that have to do with art? Everyone that has ever lived, lived their lives in their present. No exceptions. No artist alive today can do any different. He may not live in the past, or in the future, only now. So all current thoughts are 'current thoughts' no matter what sources they may draw from.

If you're so pissed off about world events that you can't think about art, then skip going into the studio... you won't be able to change the world events for the better by painting, and you probably won't make very good art if you're distracted by other, humanitarian concerns, so skip the studiop, and go write a letter to your congressperson, or your local paper, or go join a protest...

"If you think painting is just about resolving some smudges of color on a piece of cloth, then you're disconnected from everything that makes art universal."

This is just silly, George... everyone knows you can paint on other things besides cloth.



August 1, 2006, 1:08 PM

George, we've been over this before, probably ad nauseam, but nobody's saying you shouldn't make art "about" whatever inspires you to make it. That's your choice and your business. The point, again, is that regardless of what the work is "about" or what prompted it, it must succeed on visual terms if it is to succeed as visual art. If the work is meant or conceived as something other than visual art, then that changes the situation, but then we're talking about a different kettle of fish, which would be fodder for a different blog.



August 1, 2006, 1:08 PM

Gee wiz, Franklin the idea of "current events" is just an example. Maybe you don't give a damn about the current political condition, ok, fine. Do you get up in the morning and wonder if you'll ever make a decent painting? Or if the last one you made was it, there's no more water in the well? Or that you're in love and so happy you could scream? Come on, art does not happen in a vacuum.

The trouble with most painting I see is that people are just going through the motions, or trying to make a buck, whatever it's not real.



August 1, 2006, 1:11 PM

Jack, I have no problem with the requirement that a painting must succeed on a visual level, I expect that a priori.


Marc Country

August 1, 2006, 1:14 PM

About "about":

"About" is not required. Another word is not required, either.

Art is Art. Life is Life.



August 1, 2006, 1:19 PM

Mark, It's not that I can't think about art. Skip your platitudes and show me something interesting.



August 1, 2006, 1:20 PM

ment Mark not Jack



August 1, 2006, 1:22 PM

Art is Art. Life is Life.

Come on, flesh that out a little, you're sloganeering



August 1, 2006, 1:25 PM

You're confused George, but I am afraid to say so because I know it will just start another nutty round of hide-and-seek.

The reason art is "universal" is precisely because it does, in fact, refuse to be "about" all the great burning issues of the day, reaching down instead to a much deeper place, a place where we all become the same, a place human evolution has taken us, one far removed from the superficial, if serious, overt problems of humanity. Jung called it "universal unconscious", and, while I disagreee with his elaboration of the concept, he was getting at the right idea.

I don't know what you mean by "different contextually" (I don't think you do either) but it does no good to continuously jump up time after time, as you do, and gleefully announce that "things are different now". Of course they are, But those differences do not affect the depths that art comes from any more than waves disturb the bottom of the ocean. So we don't paint like Monet or Picasso or Pollock any more. So what? Whatever we do it still comes from that deep well, and that changes, if at all, with exquisite slowness. And it comes out, often enough, as the "smudges of color on a piece of cloth" you so recklessly disparage

If you don't sense this somehow, or understand it, you consign yourself and your art to the inane superficiality we see everywhere all around us. Art either works or it doesn't that's all there is to it.

Meh, indeed.



August 1, 2006, 1:26 PM

Skip #86, I cot confused about where I was in the thread.


Marc Country

August 1, 2006, 1:35 PM

Jorge, I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Platitude (n) : a banal, trite, or stale remark
"OK jack, let's cut to the chase."
"He can talk the talk, but can't walk the walk, doesn't have a clue."
"Meanwhile back at the ranch."
"Art is not about art, it's about life."
"I just don't think art happens in a vacuum. "
"We live a life in the real world"
"Maybe you don't give a damn about the current political condition, ok, fine."
"Come on, art does not happen in a vacuum."
"Skip your platitudes and show me something interesting."



August 1, 2006, 1:37 PM

Opie, Opie,

Gee, I'm not confused at all. I know what I'm doing and why.

What's so hard to understand about "different contextually"?

Let's see, we have cars today and aeroplanes, we have the internet and modern war. We have TV and yesterday's history. The context is different. What one can do in the studio is different. The struggle is the same, the doubt is the same, the pleasure is the same but how we go about it is different because our historical context is different.



August 1, 2006, 1:39 PM

Mark, you're such a wise ass, put it into the work


Marc Country

August 1, 2006, 1:40 PM

"Fless it out", he says... sweet jesus fuck.

Ok here it is... an illustration for you, Jorge.


Ok, see that word there? Let's say that represents 'life'... now see that dot over the 'i'? If you look really closely, that dot is made up of the word 'art'.

Art is a small part of the very big thing that is life. Life is not art. Art is not life.

This ends lesson one.



August 1, 2006, 1:43 PM

Mark, that's your problem, art is just a small dot.




August 1, 2006, 1:44 PM

"Derisable" is good, Marc. It should be an official word, the latinate form for "wet blanket"

Let's set up the "INTERNATIONAL VACUUM WORK SHOP" and make art in it to prove George wrong. The cry will be "EUREKA!"

George is funny. He comes up with "Art doesn't occur in a vaccume." (Make that VACCUME workshop) and "Art is not about art, it's about life." and then accuses you of sloganeering.


Marc Country

August 1, 2006, 1:45 PM

No Jorge, it's not a problem for me at all.



August 1, 2006, 1:50 PM

M. That's what you think.


Marc Country

August 1, 2006, 1:53 PM

'Derisible', meaning suitable for derision... As in "George, your objections to my so-called 'sloganeering' are derisible."



August 1, 2006, 1:55 PM

Oh. I thought oif it as "anti-risible", or against amusement.

Either way is fine.



August 1, 2006, 1:56 PM




Marc Country

August 1, 2006, 1:59 PM

OP, I think your workshop is a great idea, although despite what George says, it's probably already been done. I've heard of a guy who did portraits using a lint-screen, so we do know that art can be made in a dryer... it seems that making it in a vacuum wouln't be much of a stretch beyond that.
Of course, we'd better make sure to have the latest model... we don't want to use a vacuum from 20, or 40 years ago, for fear of lacking the required 'relevance'...



August 1, 2006, 2:05 PM


Good idea (the vacuume or dryer) let's weld it up and see if it flies



August 1, 2006, 2:28 PM

Since I have no idea what you all are talking about anymore and the subject of t-shirts came up a few dozen posts ago, I'm getting closer to making a t-shirt for Any suggestions?



August 1, 2006, 2:34 PM


Yeh, I like Jack's earlier idea (shrunk to fit)




August 1, 2006, 2:37 PM

We don't know what we are talking about either, Franklin. What makes you think you are so special?

We had a slogan contest for artblog once before, a long time ago. Remember? Do you have that information still? I think there were a lot of nutty suggestions, stuff like "artblog, where bad ideas come to die".



August 1, 2006, 2:38 PM

This Is Not A Shirt



August 1, 2006, 2:40 PM

F, howabout

. . . A R T B L O G . . .
All Ideas are Suspect



August 1, 2006, 2:41 PM

I knew we had this discussion once already. Here it is. 233 comments. Jesus.



August 1, 2006, 2:43 PM

ce n'est pas une idée



August 1, 2006, 2:44 PM

. . . . A R T B L O G . . . .
No Idea Before its Time



August 1, 2006, 2:46 PM

. . A R T B L O G .
. . . Why Think
. When You Can
. . . . Drink ?



August 1, 2006, 2:49 PM




August 1, 2006, 2:54 PM

. . A R T B L O G . .
. . . Greenberg's . . .
. . . Last Stand . . .


Marc Country

August 1, 2006, 3:02 PM

Jesus, that Matty guy was brilliant... what ever happened to him?



August 1, 2006, 3:08 PM

Something for everybody Picked these out for Marc, click on the names for the rest.



August 1, 2006, 3:09 PM

Derision usually inhibits discussion. It rarely advances it.I agree that art does come from a"deeper place" .At Homer's time they would have referred to "the tears of things". A lot of work -a lot of abstract work as well-that's been offered over the last 30 years appears to be shallow, problem solving stuff."life is life' and art is art" comes off sounding as if they are separate . Life encompasses art as one of the many things humans do. The problems arise when untransformed experience is offered as "art".All the "stuff" that makes us human also provides fodder making art.As I've said before ,we can only really see and discuss the results or we end up opening the door to muddy supposition and potential fiction.



August 1, 2006, 3:14 PM

Wow, we really used to carry on back then! 235 comments, almost two weeks continuously. Frankline even put in a "comments close after two weeks" note.

I hate to say it, George, but "Greenberg's Last Stand" is pretty funny.

I even remember where the name "Matty" came from, Marc. Ahh...the good ol' days.



August 1, 2006, 3:19 PM

"BS is BS is BS"

Sorry. Gertrude.



August 1, 2006, 4:58 PM

I assume that's a T-shirt slogan?

Who's Gertrude? Why is she Sorry?



August 1, 2006, 5:05 PM

Stein, George. She's not sorry; I meant to write "Sorry, Gertrude." And yes, it's a potential T-shirt slogan.



August 1, 2006, 5:12 PM

George, you hittin' the sauce again?



August 1, 2006, 5:15 PM

Ah I get it now

. . Don't Think . .
. . . . . Drink . . . .
. . . From Your . .
. . . Gertrude . . .
. . . . . Stein . . . .



August 1, 2006, 5:17 PM


A Stein by Any Other Name is Just a MUG

In wrap around newstyle



August 1, 2006, 6:07 PM

Noah, I encourage you to drop by more often. "The problems arise when untransformed experience is offered as "art" - Indeed, that's one of the problems, but I think the core problem is when the art doesn't work as art. It's curious, because one's existence as an artist feeds into art-making by various means, everything from a person's loves to his intellectual interests. Typically nobody makes art unless those interests and loves are engaged. And yet the art has to have some kind of life of its own that will cause it to function even without knowing what went into it. It's a saccharine metaphor begging to be abused, but you could say that life is dirt and art is the flower that grows out of it.



August 1, 2006, 6:19 PM

Yes, I agree, Noah, You seem to have a particularly clear grasp of things.

Franklin, I'm not sure if I go along with "Typically nobody makes art unless those interests and loves are engaged." I have never felt anything going very deeply into my art as undigested as that remark would make it seem. When I have it has been doing something obvious, like a birthday card, which may have had artistic merit incidentally, but the motivating reason still had nothing to do with the resulting "art", except fo provide subject matter and such like.



August 1, 2006, 6:44 PM

OP: By engaged, I just meant involved. You probably had some intellectual interest, or at least mild curiosity, about the problem of abstraction. It was enough to get you into the studio and move some paint around.



August 1, 2006, 9:56 PM

the core problem is when the art doesn't work as art

We'll duh. It doesn't make one bit of difference what approach an artist takes towards their work, the problem is always about making it "work", making it transcend the material and ideas that went into it. We define what "works" for ourselves and hope for the best.

I feel that people here want to somehow make me the fall guy because I am both willing and interested in discussing other topics which may affect the process of making art. It's seen as a threat to your carefully constructed self rationalizations about what you do and how successful you feel you are at doing it. Nothing could be farther from the truth, at least on my end.

To suggest that art is somehow separated from life is stupid. Yes, art is not life (another duh) It's nothing more than an inert object. But, it is made by a human being who lives a life with real life experiences, it's the ultimate reality show. If the artist is disconnected from these experiences, then the artwork will be dead, cold, and pointless. It will fail to find that transcendental quality which affects the viewer, the very essence of what makes art "work".

Opie says Art either works or it doesn't that's all there is to it. So? Did I ever argue anything else? The tone of your remark basically says that if you can't have it your way, you'll take your ball and go home. That's a damn fine way to have a discussion.

I don't think talking about art, any which way, will have any affect on what I do in the studio. It's a diversion, maybe a way of loosening up, but I don't make paintings from a theory. I make it just like everyone else, one step at a time.

No matter where I start, from an idea or just a smudge of color, the painting resolves itself through the process of painting itself. But while I'm working, I am not afraid to entertain thoughts outside of painting or about the meaning or importance of making art itself. It's not like you can catch BS from a toilet seat

I am appalled at the attitude towards young artists on this blog. If they should offer up an opinion even slightly enthusiastic about any art seen by the rest of the world as "mainstream" they're immediately put down with a firm know it all scolding. Why is that?

Does their naive enthusiasm threaten someone here? Is someone afraid they might become the next Hernan Bas and move you all down one notch on the local ladder? (Jack doesn't count, he's the scorekeeper)

Just what is it?

What's wrong with wanting to be cool? Or wanting to be engaged with the latest trend? That is one way a young artist starts off on a tortuous path of self exposure and hardship.

Opie, you did it. I read your articles way back when, I remember you making paintings with floating geometric shapes in pastel house paint colors. I thought that was "cool" and went out and bought 20 quarts of "mistake" latex paint, at a buck a can, and made over a 100 paintings on paper that summer. I didn't know if they were any good or not but I learned a lot and I had a ton of fun because I was excited, it seemed like a "hip" thing to do. No one was telling me the only thing that matters is that they "work" don't do that.

What's the point? What difference does it make if some young artist latches onto whatever is the latest fashion and becomes successful with artwork you dislike. Who cares? What does it have to do with you? Does it make your work any less "good", less relevant, less successful, less marketable or not "work" anymore? Who cares if you "go along with" the program?

Every artist makes choices, some good some not so good, and they proceed from there. It's a bug game of "king of the hill" and the young Turks are playing rough and knocking the old Turks into the dust. Too frigging bad.



August 1, 2006, 10:54 PM

You're appalled with Artblog, George? You want me to tell you how appalled I am with the art world in all its stinking putrescence? Do you? Because we're talking several different orders of magnitude. Do you expect some sort of sympathy for your discomfiture with what goes on here? Don't. If it bothers you enough, you can always hang out at many other blogs where people are tripping all over themselves to be cool, with-it and oh-so-correct. Let them. Join them if you like, but please, if you must preach the gospel of Current Thinking, find a suitable congregation. This isn't it. That's one reason why I'm here.



August 1, 2006, 11:10 PM

George, that's a mess. You don't seem to be disagreeing with anything I said in #124, although it sounds like you intend to, so I'm not sure how to answer. I'm here to make judgment calls about art. I do that as well as I can.

Two things, though. First, answering "Who cares?" This is exactly my point. It doesn't matter. Whether the artist is following a trend or not, whether he's trying to be cool or not, like everything else, if it helps his art, he should do it, and if it doesn't, he should do something else. I keep having to point out that my opinion about Bas is not altogether negative, but mixed. I don't care who the next Hernan Bas is. I barely care who the current one is. Thinking about such things is an express ticket to triviality. You seem to become exercised when I refuse to give life any priveleged place in the act of making art. It only deserves such a place when it feeds the art somehow. I thoroughly believe that you can block out the world, and even yourself, and make great work. Not that you must, but that you can if that's your nature.

Second, "the young Turks are playing rough and knocking the old Turks into the dust." No, they're not. Some young artists may be enjoying commercial success these days, and more power to them, but that's not my metric. My old Turks are Rembrandt, Sengai, David Park, Jules Olitski, Lucian Freud, people who do what they do or did what they did as well as anyone attempting similar challenges. If someone comes along whose work I like better that these greats, I'll be the first to talk up his work, and I don't care if he's in grade school. But it hasn't come up yet.



August 1, 2006, 11:26 PM




August 1, 2006, 11:30 PM

"Whatever"? "That's a damn fine way to have a discussion."



August 1, 2006, 11:49 PM

George, if you type 'cool' one more time...

I guess I could work to dig out some decently-said sentiment from #127; but the gist I get is that you feel bullied, and the weight of your sympathy for poor disparaged idea-mongers everywhere compels you to champion their issues and causes.

And no matter what else you feel about it, there are only a dozen or so pro-quality commentors, even here in one of the last bastions of the best of modernism, and it is we who are the underdogs of art-making that is no longer beseiged by "fun, hence cool, hence relevant, hence marketable success" but completely given over to it.

Discussion of art and its better or worse attributes is what we all come here for - though of course it is best when there is an actual piece of art being considered. In my locality, art dialogue usually consists of "art is dead" spray-stencilled onto the side of a sculpture, or an interior designer installing a bar in the art gallery to play at art star. All the dickering here (inferred insults included) is just part of the conversation - I read and contribute as a way to exercise my own resistance to triviality.

Artblog is not my studio, neither is it my life, but it adds a little spice to each.



August 1, 2006, 11:56 PM

I dig the saxophonist by the way.



August 2, 2006, 12:26 AM

I'm interested in all kinds of "topics which may affect the process of making art" .One of the many problems however is that discussions of this nature usually stray onto that muddy no mans land where it's genuinely difficult to separate fact from fiction.I engage in discussions of this nature carefully and selectively.
A cruel reality is that some of the people I would, perhaps presumptuously, think of as"disconnected" have created great art. The rain falls on....etc.

I'm feeling a bit like I walked into a party where the argument that's going on has more to do with shared history than the topic at hand.



August 2, 2006, 12:35 AM

George, I would love to "be knocked into the dust" by a "young Turk". It doesn't happen. I have been knocked into the dust a few times - once I even wrote about it - but always, so far, by better, older artists.

My complaints here do not derive from being pushed around by younger artists, but from just the reverse: by the frightening fact that I am not being pushed around by younger artists.

It makes me worry about the health of our enterprise.


Marc Country

August 2, 2006, 1:28 AM

Goddammit, Ahab, that's a nun massaging an eel!... and don't even think about making a joke about Boston Catholics...

Man, that old thread was a beauty... we covered a hell of a lotta ground on that one. I miss Elizabeth... she was a sweet kid... bat-shit insane, but sweet.
George, have you reconsidered, and picked up a copy of 'On Bullshit' yet? It's now available as an audio book!

Back to the discussion at hand...
"To suggest that art is somehow separated from life is stupid. "
I don't think anyone here has done this. "Art" was the dot in the 'i' of "Life", in my little illustration!

"But while I'm working, I am not afraid to entertain thoughts outside of painting or about the meaning or importance of making art itself."
Again, I don't think anyone here has suggested you not entertain such thoughts while you're working. And again, I wonder, what's with the straw men, George?

I am appalled at the attitude towards young artists on this blog.
Now, this makes me think you should address your dismay more specifically, George. The whole blog surely doesn't have a uniformly bad "attitude towards young artists"... some of us ARE young artists, for pete's sake (well, perhaps younger than you, anyway). Lumping the 'youngsters' together is no better than disparaging the 'oldsters' as all the same, (something which Opie has protested enough about already).



August 2, 2006, 3:07 AM

It's hard to know what art is actually being produced and if knock-outs have taken place . Not many ref's or audience members available to do the count. Where is the scene ?What galleries are supporting those under 40 who are concerned with the real stuff? Forget showing ,where does an 18 year old go to learn to paint? As people jostle for the few spots left open for visual work I see a general decline in studio exchanges and an increase in alliances based on avoidance of really going it alone.
Leaving the personnel stuff aside and barbs seem to fly and be returned with remarkable ease.There's nothing in #127 that I find particularly contrary or difficult to comprehend so what's the fuss?



August 2, 2006, 7:50 AM

I think you meant "personal",Noah.

The problem with #127, as Marc put it, is not that Geoge is saying things that are completely off base but that he is fighting "straw men", that is, he is projecting attitudes and beliefs on our part that don't exist and then doing battle with them.

As for learning how to paint, that is a matter for investigation. We teach painting from bottom to top at the University of Miami, but a lot of the well known art schools have given it up altogether.



August 2, 2006, 8:23 AM

Hi Jack. Thanks for the compliment (#63). No I don't post anymore (it is just too taxing), but I do lurk every now and then.

I don't think a re-run of Sokal would accomplish anything that he did not already accomplish. He showed that words are just words. End of story, really. Oak (#76) and opie (#77) say that too.

As far as George being "appalled" (#127) at the attitude towards young artists here - he has a point. The problem is made worse by the fact we young 'ens are not coming up with anything that can replace what fell into the black hole 50 years ago.

If art like that of Pollock, Louis, Still, and others continued to be made, then (as Whitehead might have put it) God either forgot about it or never noticed it in the first place. So why should the regulars praise what they see served up by the art God? But it hurts that they cannot, all the more because they are getting it right. I feel your pain, George. Just call me Flatboy Clinton.


opie (formerly oldpro)

August 2, 2006, 9:31 AM

Stop lurking and start posting again, Flats.



August 2, 2006, 9:37 AM

Re#128 Jack,
I feel your pain. Deal with it.

Re #129 Franklin
You don't seem to be disagreeing with anything I said in #124 Reasonably perceptive.
I thoroughly believe that you can block out the world, and even yourself, and make great work.
The world, yes. Yourself, no. Every artist has to deal with their own demons, for better or worse. To be disconnected from the self is to be disconnected from the work. Please note, when I say "disconnected" I am not suggesting that an artist has to have a psychologically stable "integrated" personality. What I am suggesting is that the artist works from within theirself, demons and all. In my opinion, if an artist ignores this then the works are fake and it will be apparent.

Re #132 Ahab
the weight of your sympathy for poor disparaged idea-mongers everywhere compels you to champion their issues and causes.
Sorry, but that is a gross misperception of my position.

we who are the underdogs of art-making that is no longer besieged by "fun, hence cool, hence relevant, hence marketable success" but completely given over to it.
Another misperception. Leaving out the "hence" which changes the tone of my original remark. My remark was intended as a general characterization which might be applied to young (under 30) artists. Giving themselves "completely given over to it" comes with time but we all start somewhere.

FWIW, I've always appreciated your contributions, whether I agreed or not.

Re #135 Opie
I would love to "be knocked into the dust" by a "young Turk". It doesn't happen.
Sounds a bit presumptuous to me but I'll defer to your experience.

Re #136 Marc
Not worth commenting on.

Re # 134/7 Noah
The "topic" here has always been flexible in its direction, it is what used to make discussions here interesting. Your remarks in #137 seem directed at the Miami scene which I have no connection with at all. In general the gallery system is about making money, especially at the current moment. Here in NYC artists under 40 actually have more access to the galleries than mid career artists do.

Re #139 Flatboy
Your comment came up on a page refresh after I wrote the above.
If art like that of Pollock, Louis, Still, and others continued to be made…

The artworld is a much much larger arena today than it ever has been in the past. A lot of the work which currently gets shown is minor at best.

The heroic abstract painters are still there in peoples minds, it hasn't gone away. Unfortunately most current abstract work is feeble and unheroic, frankly it lacks the power and ambition of works by the artists you mentioned. To me, it all feels like everyone is just playing safe, basically working in an arena which was defined 50 years ago. I think for the artists, there is a certain security to that but the works which result are boring.

If a young artist (30's) can make heroic abstract paintings today, I'll guarantee you the galleries would be interested. It's an interesting problem.

I've got no pain, other than it's a 100 degrees in my studio. I'm just passing the time.



August 2, 2006, 10:45 AM

What I said cannot be "presumptious" George. I am reporting on experience. I could be lying, but I can't be "presuming".



August 2, 2006, 10:46 AM

I do apologize for the grossness, George.



August 2, 2006, 10:55 AM

Re #142. opie

I have a considerable degree of respect for anyone who remains a serious artist for thirty years or more. I don't need to be treated like one of your students. I was trying to be polite in light of the above, I curbed my tongue. Let's leave it there.

It's hot and I'm cranky.



August 2, 2006, 11:46 AM

Sorry, George. Just warming up for my writing class.



August 2, 2006, 12:49 PM

George, here is what you said: "current abstract work is feeble...feels like everyone is just playing safe, basically working in an arena which was defined 50 years ago."

I agree about the feeble part.

I also agree that the "arena was defined 50 years ago" but question what that has to do with anything. Portraiture has been around for thousands of years. Duchampian pranksterism (some of which I happen to like) has been around for almost a hundred. How does having a relationship with the past constitute "playing safe"? Or maybe you don't really mean that the way it looks in #139.

In any case, maybe the only pain I feel is my own. I wish there were something heroic on the art landscape, abstract or whatever. But I don't see anything heroic in the galleries these days. Why would they necessarily embrace heroic abstraction?

I remember someone making a case (last year?) that we had entered a new dark age. Was it you? That is somewhat compatible with your commnet about the larger arena today. Maybe the plain truth is there is no heroic work to be found.



August 2, 2006, 12:54 PM

Sorry George and all, I should have typed #141 when I typed #139.



August 2, 2006, 12:57 PM

Oh, I'm dealing with it, George, my way and in my terms, as I will continue to do, and you don't have a damn thing to do with it. I could tell you to deal with what you don't like about this blog, but that would be redundant, and that's your business, anyhow.

It should be understood, by the way, that it doesn't matter whether or not an artist is "cool" or fashionable or in step with the times. Any number of great artists have been some or all of those things. There is no objection to those things per se. All that matters is how good the artist's work is; the rest is more or less incidental.

The trouble comes when the work doesn't cut it as art, and all that's really there is superficial, insubstantial stuff like image, posturing, buzz, hype, "correctness," "relevance" and so forth. That's when the situation becomes unacceptable, not to say offensive, at least to some of us.

In other words, if Paris Hilton could do great work, more power to her, despite all the ridiculous nonsense around her. But if the work does not work, any and all incidental frippery should be denounced and rejected for what it is: nothing.



August 2, 2006, 1:17 PM

Flatboy, I think the dark ages comment may have been from Catfish.



August 2, 2006, 1:59 PM

Re: #146. flatboy
I also agree that the "arena was defined 50 years ago" but question what that has to do with anything.

The important part of my remark was "playing it safe" (in the arena…)
What I mean is that the follow up work is just finding a niche which is predicated on the validation of the earlier heroic abstract painters.
Dan Walsh had a nice show of abstract paintings at Paula Cooper Gallery NYC, they were nice but not heroic. To me they felt like a lot of fussing around with little details, discrete nice abstract works, but not heroic. A lot of abstract painting feels like that to me, a lot of nice finessing of the paint, or worse just stuff that looks like an abstract painting.

I started off as an abstract painter, so I have expectations of what I want to get from this type of work and I'm not getting it.

Probably a more important and interesting issue would be to define what "heroic" can mean today. This is not about the "good art" art issue, that is a given. There is good painting which is not heroic.
Take, Newman, De Kooning, Pollock, Still, Motherwell (not my fave but) all these artists made at least some paintings I would call heroic. They had a grandness to them. They were in your face tough as nails. They paid attention to detail but never left you feeling they were being fussy just to show you they could do nice stuff with paint. They made paintings with a real presence, an insistence on their existence.

This era is different because we already know about these works. It requires a different kind of invention, an aggressive stance to reinvent abstraction within its own framework.

Why would they necessarily embrace heroic abstraction?
Money, money, money. Galleries would love to have good abstract work to sell, there is a good market for it. I commented several months ago that abstraction was coming back, watch next season in the NYC and European galleries.


Marc Country

August 2, 2006, 2:01 PM

Personally, I'm holding out hope that the next great heroic painter of our age will be Carmen Electra.

George, your response to me in #141 was LOL funny.



August 2, 2006, 3:02 PM

George, if it is "money, money, money" why are they not pushing any heroic non-abstract art? Is there any of that to sell?



August 2, 2006, 3:13 PM

George, you are quite right to hook up "heroic" with "grand". And the "nice stuff with paint" issue. I call it "grace notes" when I see it, which is too often. Something added because the artist knows how to add it. But not necessary. Your remarks are kind of inspiring. I might just go to the studio instead of typing more dots on my screen... Thanks!

But I really can't go for "this era is different because we already know". There was lots of heroic stuff before Still and company, so they "already knew" too. Didn't stop them. And it shouldn't stop anyone working now.

"Reinvent" is not a word I trust. But I think I know what you are getting at. It must be strong. Feeble just won't do.



August 2, 2006, 3:39 PM

George, I have to categorically disagree with you that galleries are looking for "good abstract art". In fact I disagree that they are looking for either "good:" art or "abstract art".

All the evidence I have received in the last 10 years indicates to me that they and their customers and the curators and the writers and the whole damn art world is scared to death of it.

Dan Walsh, whose work is a kind of limp neo-geo with bad color, is hardly an example. If you want an example, I will submit Jules Olitski, who I think is the greatest living painter and who went for 3 years in the mid to late 90s without being able to find a gallery which would even show his paintings, and who even now sells at auction for a small fraction of anyone with any kind of name.

Furthermore, it was only recently that many of the heroes of abstract expressionism got into the kind of million-dollar range that vastly inferior younger painters like Richter broke into ages ago. Hofmann, for example, who I rank right up there with Pollock, only recently had public sales in the million dollar range.

Furthermore still, I know any number of very talented good abstract painters who cannot even get galleries to look at their work, and I see those same galleries with dozens of nominally abstract artists whose only (dubious) virtue is their craven manipulation of some kind of pomo gimmick.

Believe me, I really really wish you were right on this one, but you are not. And If you are right I will happily and publicly eat my words.



August 2, 2006, 3:54 PM

Re#153. flatboy

What I was trying to say with "this era is different because we already know" is that when the AE painters made those paintings, they were going against the grain. It's not that there wasn't heroic work before but they took a position and went forward aggressively.

Today we know their work, it is part of our history so when I say reinvent, I mean just that, finding a way for yourself to make heroic paintings of your own. They can build on the past, all painting does that one way or another, but making the painting your own requires that you dig down deep inside yourself to find whatever it is that makes it possible.

In part I think it is just will, the ambition to do it, in the spite of whatever is going on around you. It requires a degree of belief, not necessarily confidence for doubt may fuel the fire, but belief that it can be done. I don't think the idea is limited to abstract painting, it was just what we were talking about. It's more of an attitude or posture where you stand toe to toe with all that has gone on before and say "take that"

PS, $$$, the merchants push whatever they can. Fashion plays a part of it but fashion changes in a regular cycle, roughly 5 to 7 years and it's due for a change. It is all just part of the background noise but you watch.



August 2, 2006, 4:00 PM

Re#154 Opie.

Well, that's what happened in the past.
Times change and I think you're wrong



August 2, 2006, 4:39 PM

George I hope you are right and I am wrong. In this case, nothing could please me more.

By the way, if you want agreement, I think 95% of your #155 is absolutely right on target and well said. I would only quibble with the 5 - 7 year cycle for fashion change , It may look like that sometimes, but I have felt that it is more a generation at least, maybe two.



August 2, 2006, 5:15 PM

Re #157. opie

I would only quibble with the 5 - 7 year cycle for fashion change... generation at least...

It's two different things, two different cycles.
The generational one is in the system itself, the critical writers, curators, etc. This is probably more a factor of age. When a new group-think is instituted, and then the amount of time its advocates are in positions of power. A year ago I said POMO was dead, well for all intents and purposes it is, but it still has a run-off life in the boondocks when the news travels by pony express.

The cycle I was talking about has been in place since at least the late 1800's. I'm not sure of the exact length but it's between 5 and 10 years. Movements start off first slowly, then become widely visible, last a few years and then are replaced by something different.

Trace back at the turn of the century for a model of this. The cycles can overlap, two things can happen at once, either in phase or out of phase.

In any case I think its caused by a couple of things. First the leaders of any stylistic movement control a certain amount of territory. The ones who come behind them work in the spaces left over, with overlap but also with the requirement of maintaining an identity. By the time the third generation comes along, they are hard pressed to find a field to plough.

The second thing has something to do with the artists themselves. It appears that there is a rough ten year cycle for an artist body of work. I'm not sure exactly what causes this but it might have something to do with the process from inception to maturation. If you think about your own working process on a body of work it goes through a series of psychological periods.

It has a life cycle of its own.
At the start there are certain conditions, an excitement about a new idea or inspiration, a new material, whatever. There is no history, you don't know what will happen until you try something.

Midway, you have started to discover what works for you and what doesn't, decisions are less arbitrary and the results are more predictable.

Towards the end, the results are predictable but the sense of discovery is lessened.

However it happens, either as I outlined or some other way, it takes a certain amount of time and time is the major parameter of a cycle.



August 2, 2006, 5:31 PM

I think your descriptions are OK but I can't relate to the time. It just seems way too short.

AE evolved slowly and you have to give it a cyle of at least 20 years, if you put the apogee at 1950. Cubism, in its "high" phase, was about 7 or 8 years, but then it got reworked over and over again. The dada/surrealist thing jumped up in the late teens and worked its way through several forms and is still doing so. Impressionism, in your cycle of invention to deterioration, went on for a good 40 years, if you count all the latter-day impressionists like Henri Martin.

I just don't see that time period as something visible enough to establish as a standard.



August 2, 2006, 9:03 PM

#159. opie
I'm making tighter sets of distinctions, essentially setting a shorter cycle period.

If we just look at how things cycle in the public eye, in the galleries and among artists. This is about phenomena, not aesthetics.

At the start of something new (like CUBISM) the first artists are the most visible in the public eye. They stand out precisely because they help to define the style. If they are successful, then others join in. This is the recognition phase, where it becomes fairly obvious that something interesting is happening Finally at some point, the works become ubiquitous where in cases like AE you couldn't tell the players without a program. Fini,

The situation is similar today which means to me that one could expect a change. In a period when the economy is slowing down (right now) the galleries don't want to rock the boat too much. Abstraction fills the bill nicely, it started a couple of years ago.



August 2, 2006, 9:33 PM

#155 making the [heroic] painting your own requires that you dig down deep inside yourself to find whatever it is that makes it possible

My experience tells me that self-concious well-digging (variously known as navel-gazing or emo) for the purposes of finding artistic inspiration results in embarassing if not downright abominable artworks. I can look at some awesome thing and go make my own pretty good thing; and I can make use of found objects, tweaking them into alright objects; and other interesting things happen when I'm in the studio just hammering away at a pile of material. But those rare times when I make a good piece of art out of my head are far outweighed by the number of times it finds me just because I was there making things anyway.

Although I've done lots of good design work, none of which comes close to meeting my benchmark for a good art work, the actual effect of any thing made from preconceptualization always demands more material adjustment than I could have imagined. So it is the actual effect of an artwork that I have tuned my studio time to, and I am wary of intended or predetermined effects.

And as to heroicism, I'm surprised no one has piped up with a series of objections to patriarchy pandering or feminism infringement. "Heroic" is an inadequate word, regardless. Not all good cubism or expressionism is primarily heroic, just as not all good sculpture is monumental, and a heroic work is not necessarily laudable.



August 2, 2006, 9:42 PM

Ahab, if it ain't laudable it won't be heroic.


Marc Country

August 2, 2006, 10:25 PM

Heroic, not laudable.



August 2, 2006, 11:16 PM

re# 161. ahab

make a good piece of art out of my head
What I was talking about has nothing to do with that at all.

I didn't specifically define heroic, I said "probably a more important and interesting issue would be to define what "heroic" can mean today" It should have nothing to do with gender.

So when I said it "requires that you dig down deep inside yourself to find whatever it is that makes it possible", I wasn't talking about navel gazing.

I think heroic painting is willing to take great risks.

Pollock is an example. There was no a priori evidence that dripping paint on a piece of canvas would even result in anything more than a painters tarp. Somehow he decided, found that place of belief within himself, that it might make a painting. He took this leap of faith that no one else dared to take.

You don't start off saying (or thinking), "gee, ok, now I'm going to make a heroic painting" You walk up to the edge of the abyss, and leap. In the hands of a lesser artist, it's just a paint spattered tarp. In Pollocks hands it turned out to be heroic. How could he do that?



August 3, 2006, 12:15 AM

We might be getting into language problems here."Digging deep" might be misleading. Effective art-making procedure might be, apparently, at least, just the opposite: taking yourself "out of" the process altogether, making seemingly random, fleeting and arbitrary choices, which would fit with Ahabs description. We have all done this if we are any good.

Although it seems contradictory, "digging deep" and "getting out of the picture" are actually the same thing. It might be described as putting oneself in a mental position where choices are made that are unblocked by any considerations, conscious or unconscious, that do not respond directly and solely to the conditions present on the unfinished work itself. Ironically, this includes making conscious choices that make the work "look like art".
This may only be possible only when we drop all conscious attempts to "make art" and just play.

"Emo" is not really "digging deep"; it is falling back on the shallowest of available reactions, reactions that effectively prevent "digging deep".

When Pollock was in the middle of evolving the drip paintings it is clear to me that his basic artist brain was saying, over and over, "goddam it, how am I going to do this?" and nothing much else. He just didn't care about anything else. That's what let him do things that made art that looked nothing like art was supposed to look like. Clem Greenberg used to say that Pollock was the most "serious" artist he knew, and I am sure this is what he meant.

I am very aware of this state of mind, and I think most artists are. It is absolutely basic and necessary but for some reason it never gets articulated.



August 3, 2006, 12:41 AM

We might be getting into language problems here. "Digging deep" might be misleading. Effective art-making procedure might be, apparently, at least, just the opposite: taking yourself "out of" the process altogether, making seemingly random, fleeting and arbitrary choices, ....

I don't care enough about "digging deep" to argue the phrase.

I was looking for a way to express the idea that the process requires a commitment to your intuition. It has nothing to do with thinking about it, which is what you are generally saying. In sports it's called the "flow state". I've had this experience painting, I just do something, then something else, then something else, if it's wrong, I just fix it there's no conscious analysis it just gets fixed intuitively, by doing it the right way. It's the best thing that can happen when your painting.

I think part of what allows this to occur is psychological, the willingness to suspend the disbelief that it can be done and a willingness to ignore the risk that it all might just end up as paint drips on a tarp.



August 3, 2006, 12:55 AM

The process of painting (and drawing) is unique. It is a process of visual decision making with immediate feedback, close to music.



August 3, 2006, 1:21 AM

Exactly, thank you, MC.



August 3, 2006, 8:43 AM

Marc (#163): Laughable, and not heroic.



August 3, 2006, 8:56 AM

If I saw that coming at me I would be running, not laughing.



August 3, 2006, 9:07 AM

Opie, you would run from a statue?



August 3, 2006, 9:36 AM

If I saw it coming at me I would run very hard.


Marc Country

August 3, 2006, 11:16 AM

Laughable, maybe... that's open for debate.
But, sorry, it is unquestionably heroic.
Maybe you guys need to find a different word.



August 3, 2006, 11:27 AM

Sure, it's a word problem, but I know what it means: going your own way, working against the odds, sticking with what you feel best, all that good stuff. More a matter of attitude than result. I can't help but feel sympathy for this kind of "heroic"

On the other hand, an argument could easily be made that that overtly "heroic" sculpture was a cowardly work of work.

Words and art, art and words.



August 3, 2006, 11:28 AM

Marc, it is would-be heroic, in a bombastic propaganda mode entirely characteristic of the totalitarian mentality. I'm sure it's huge, which is a very old trick, and again quite typical.


Marc Country

August 3, 2006, 11:49 AM

I don't care enough about "heroic" to argue the phrase.



August 3, 2006, 1:00 PM

Heroic is a good old fashioned word , like courage . To avoid accusations of taking things or oneself too seriously , many use the dismissive"whatever" response to anything that smacks of idealism . If we accept that there is no creativity , no originality ,no link to the greatness of the past- in fact we were framed to view it as greatness anyway,then all we can do is plod along recombining, re-contextualizing and indeed we are workers . I'd rather be accused of being Don Quiote than a nihilist



August 3, 2006, 2:07 PM

Yes Noah, "heroic" is a good word. It stands for something serious. Like everything serious, it can be made fun of. But it is a testament to the level of discussion here that no one has done that.



August 3, 2006, 2:41 PM

"I'd rather be accused of being Don Quiote than a nihilist" is another possiblity for the t-shirt.



August 3, 2006, 2:50 PM

The T-shirt would need to name a corresponding literary character to Don Quiote. Too fuggy-minded to think of one today.Time for the beach.



August 3, 2006, 2:53 PM

How about: "I'd rather be Don Quixote than Gregor Samsa"?



August 3, 2006, 3:07 PM

I'd rather be Don Quiote than a grubby proofreader.

Hi, I'm Gregor, the Orkin man.



August 3, 2006, 3:21 PM

Artblog proverb chapter 840 verse 183: "Better to live as Don Quixote than the don of the house of Usher".

I'd pick "daring" over " heroic".



August 3, 2006, 3:41 PM

Greenberg' highest praise was "serious", which meant you do anything to make your art better, no matter what.



August 3, 2006, 3:45 PM

Re: #177. Noah

Opie's right we know what it means.
It's not something that everyone can be and others will try to tell you that you can't either.
Nonsense, Stick with it.



August 3, 2006, 3:47 PM

A poet in our English Department has asked me for names of artists who painted churches in a "semi/abstract semi/realistic" style for book illustrations.

I have suggested Feininger, Marin, Sheeler, early Kandinsky, Klee a couple of German Expressionists, Kokoschka, Picasso & Braque around 1909?, even though I'm not sure i could find church paintings from some of them. Any other ideas?



August 3, 2006, 3:55 PM

Speaking of heroic, do you Edmonton guys know the very heroic classical nude marble statue of Napoleon (ca. 1810) by Canova? It's several times larger than the real Napoleon would have been. Interestingly, it came to belong to the Duke of Wellington, victor of Waterloo, and is still at his former London mansion, Apsley House. The British government bought it for him. I'm sure it made a great, uh, conversation piece (a very high-class version of a suffed deer head on the wall). Seriously, though, as always with Canova, the finish is like buttah (only creamier).



August 3, 2006, 4:05 PM

OP, I should think Monet would do fairly well, though it depends on the degree of abstraction this guy wants.



August 3, 2006, 9:03 PM


van gogh



August 3, 2006, 9:07 PM

Matisse Chapel of the Rosary in Vence.



August 3, 2006, 9:19 PM

This link might be a help, Opie:



August 3, 2006, 9:24 PM

Or, now that I've followed it myself, maybe not so much.



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