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Post #874 • September 22, 2006, 9:24 AM • 63 Comments

Time to go to Portland.

Holland Cotter reviews an exhibition of Sikh art at the Rubin Museum, which I have not heard of until now, I confess.

Illustration freelancing tips. (Drawn)

Tomorrow: World Wide SketchCrawl. (Drawn)

David Macaulay won a MacArthur Fellowship. So did some other RISDoids.

This is the first time since I was seventeen that I felt tempted to play a video game.

"A German art student outfoxed police in China when he disguised himself as one of the 2000 world-famous terracotta warriors and took his place among them, creating an unusual manhunt." (Reddit)

This coming week is crunch week for my Dorsch show. I reserve the right to be a sporadic, quote-mongering blogger.




September 22, 2006, 11:46 AM

It's always a good time to go to Portland--great town with a fine museum. I'd like to see that show as well, though I'm not sure I'll get the chance. The museum's got a lot of character, especially the older building now dedicated to 17th-19th century American art (including a veritable shrine to Homer and one of my favorite Bierstadts, seen in small image here on the right.)

You really should head up there--especially at this time of year, it's amazingly beautiful, and Portland's a fun town.



September 22, 2006, 6:02 PM

> Police said that because Wendel did not damage to the cultural relics and he was clearly passionate about the warriors, his actions warranted only "serious criticism and education".

So, what, they subjected him to a spirit-breaking three-hour art school critique? Sounds pretty rough.



September 22, 2006, 7:15 PM

From the "But what did you expect?" files:

The latest Miami New Times, whose cover is even sleazier than usual (if that's possible), has a review by Carlos Suarez de Jesus of the recent Wynwood Gallery Walk, which featured several openings in the same area. Among various galleries covered are Snitzer, Ingalls and Kevin Bruk, all of which are around the corner from Dorsch Gallery, which was not covered (it had two shows opening that night). How very curious. Or not.



September 22, 2006, 8:13 PM

It does not take a major dose of paranoia to discern a pattern, Jack. Historically it is a good sign, of course, but that doesn't make it any more pleasant.

And what is someone like that going to be able to say about straight painting anyway? He wouldn't know a Rembrandt from a remnant, except to prefer the latter.



September 22, 2006, 8:32 PM

True, OP. Straight painting is so, well, straight. Too simple for certain minds, I guess. Of course, Franklin is a Dorsch artist, and his Artblog has featured less-than-glowing opinions regarding the reviewer in question, but that could just be an unrelated coincidence. Or not. Besides, Dorsch can hardly rival Snitzer and company in the with-it sweepstakes, and while New Times may be terminally cheesy, one should not expect it to be, you know, uncool.



September 22, 2006, 10:01 PM

the wind picks up
you stand towards it
lean forward to it
yet loath it necessity
(while the zipper comes down)
releasing your arch
a certain unexpected drop
hits your leg
you name it MacArthur
your fellow


Page 2

September 22, 2006, 10:28 PM

Dorsch IS covered:

The David Castillo and Brook Dorsch galleries featured tidy painting shows by Beth Reisman and Chris Byrd and Luis Blanco and Mark Roder, respectively, and attracted steady crowds during the night.

Castillo's bar was the best in the hood, while Dorsch's spanking-new air conditioning was the talk of the town.



September 22, 2006, 10:33 PM

Karel Appel
Born Apr 25 1921, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Died May 3 2006, Zurich, Switzerland.



September 22, 2006, 10:34 PM

Karel Appel
Born Apr 25 1921, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Died May 3 2006, Zurich, Switzerland.



September 22, 2006, 10:39 PM

Well, in that case, I owe Mr. Suarez de Jesus an apology, and i do apologize. I did not see the part mentioning Dorsch, possibly because I skimmed over the review and assumed each gallery would get a readily recognizable, substantial segment like the ones for the galleries I mentioned. Still, it was careless of me, and it should not have happened . I will strive to be a more scrupulous reader in future.



September 22, 2006, 10:54 PM

Basically, the titles of shows that were reviewed in some detail were set off in boldface type and stood out from the rest of the text, and since I didn't see that for Dorsch or its shows, I figured it had been left out. Dorsch was essentially mentioned in passing and not dwelt on, but yes, it was mentioned, so I was still off base.


Lucas Blanco

September 22, 2006, 11:02 PM

It would be hard to call one sentence for four artists "covered". But at least he spelled %75 percent of the names right.
I missed it the first time too Jack, because of the reasons you mentioned. I don't remember any tidy paintings at either show.


Lucas Blanco

September 22, 2006, 11:09 PM

Okay, Castillo does show tidy paintings.



September 22, 2006, 11:26 PM

"Talk-of-the-town AC" is not exactly coverage. That is silly. And you do not misspell names when you are writing for a newspaper and if you do there should be an editor to catch it. It is garbage all around but no more than we ask for or deserve.



September 23, 2006, 12:10 AM

The New Times review of the Wynwood Gallery Walk discussed above is here:

I think it's fairly accurate to say that the Dorsch shows were mentioned or acknowledged as being there, but not really covered, certainly not like other shows. The only thing written that can qualify as a review or criticism is a single word: tidy. Of course, I expect the reviewer is not required by NT to give comparable space to all shows, so he's free to tailor the coverage at his discretion or to his liking.

Dorsch is not listed in the boxed-off side section labeled "Entertainment Details," where I also looked for it initially and, not finding it, again assumed it had been omitted from the review.



September 23, 2006, 1:16 AM

"covered" as a journalistic term is not unlike "covered" as a term referring to how an individual may exsist in relation to a blanket.

poor galleries who freeze from a lack of coverage, with nothing to keep them warm, not even a weekly rag!

Dorsch on the other hand, is only chilly because of the new AC.


real estate lawer

September 23, 2006, 7:50 AM

His gallery will be sold, and all Artists will be dropped...
- the space will become a venue for selling Muslim carpets, American guns, European blood sausage, and Ab-Ex.



September 23, 2006, 10:57 AM

So. MAM has gotten itself some very fancy Swiss architects (from Basel, no less) for its proposed new building in the so-called Museum Park development. The same ones who did the Tate Modern in London. Terence Riley, new MAM director and architecture person, is doing what he was presumably hired for, and what MAM seems to be all about: The Pursuit of the Holy Grail, I mean, Sacred Building.

Of course, once it's built, all else will come. Absolutely, positively. Failing that, MAM can always get some suitably huge Richard Serra number (another public bond issue, anyone?) to take up the space, as in Bilbao. One way or another, Miami will have something to show for itself (or, more to the point, something with which to impress the Art Basel crowd). How truly worthwhile and satisfying that something turns out to be, however, remains to be seen. Don't bet the house on it.



September 23, 2006, 1:07 PM

any thoughts on appel?




September 23, 2006, 1:42 PM

> MAM has gotten itself some very fancy Swiss architects (from Basel, no less) for its proposed new building in the so-called Museum Park development. The same ones who did the Tate Modern in London.

Sir Giles Gilbert Scott?



September 23, 2006, 2:43 PM

No, Dan. Sir Giles is, uh, dead, which is a significant obstacle to proper building design. I meant the firm of Herzog and de Meuron.



September 23, 2006, 4:15 PM

I think Dan was making some sort of comment, Jack. I didn't get it either. Sometimes I wonder why people make these obscure, off-the-wall statements, like #17 above. I guess they have been reading obscure, off-the-wall writers who have become famous for doing so, but it is a bore.

I got to like Appel's painting better as time went on, Gorky. A lot of older painting started looking better as younger artists abandoned making art with any visual interest at all.



September 23, 2006, 4:25 PM

> No, Dan. Sir Giles is, uh, dead...

You don't say.



September 23, 2006, 4:31 PM

I think Appel and the COBRA people in general have their merits and charm, even if their approach is something of a crude, sometimes infantile version of Fauvism. The style easily degenerates into schlock, especially in the hands of camp followers, which has tended to trivialize the original thrust. Still, it's clearly preferable to supposed visual art which simply doesn't work visually, assuming it works at all. Like OP, I'm not sure I'd like it as well if the competition were stronger than it is.



September 23, 2006, 4:40 PM

Yes, Dan, but even if he were alive, he definitely wouldn't be Swiss. The Swiss guys refurbished or reconfigured what was originally a power station designed by Gilbert Scott, now the Tate Modern.



September 23, 2006, 6:37 PM


Consider my two previous posts appended with ; )s.

Re: the CoBrA crowd...

> I think Appel and the COBRA people in general have their merits and charm, even if their approach is something of a crude, sometimes infantile version of Fauvism.

In many cases, wouldn't a comparison to Dubuffet and Art Brut (who'd probably take "crude" and "infantile" as the ultimate compliments) be even more apt?

At any rate, I find CoBrA Commander Asger Jorn an interesting figure. His later involvement in the Situationist International leaves me with an image of the associated movements, like Dada before them, straddling the line between what we might nowdays qualify as the otherwise opposed "modern" and "postmodern" avant gardes.



September 23, 2006, 7:13 PM

You can sigh and appens smilies, Dan, but I still don;t know what you are talkintg about. I suppose it was to say, so we should use some ancient cathedral architect or something?
Clarity of helpful.

I don't know about "straddling avant gardes", but Dubuffet's crudeness was - it seems to me - purposeful and resulted in some marvellous paintings, while a lot of Cobra work really does look like Fauvism someone took a hammer to, more or less as Jack said.

And I think the opposition between Modernism & Pomo is something of an illusion; it is really a matter of what is good and what is not so good, and the two are really continuous. I am sure they will seem more so when the art world no longer has a stake in the opposition.



September 23, 2006, 7:42 PM

I was referring to how COBRA work tends to strike me, not how it would or could be seen or situated by others, including its practitioners.



September 23, 2006, 8:27 PM

> Clarity of helpful.

It's really not anything deserving of clarification. Seriously. Just an attempt at a one-off joke, and apparently a bad one at that. Certainly nothing that attempted to rise to the level of even a "comment."

Jack seemed to suggest that MAM's going for name cred with their "fancy Swiss architects... The same ones who did the Tate Modern in London." I came back with the name of the long-deceased architect of the Bankside Power Station. Ha ha.

It seems my feigned ignorance came off a bit too faint, though, as Jack came back to explain that, not only is Scott not Swiss, but he's also long-deceased.

> And I think the opposition between Modernism & Pomo is something of an illusion

That's sort of, more or less, my poorly-expressed point.

With so much in the way of ex post facto categorization, we can easily lose sight of the organic connectedness of these elements within the historical avant garde, especially when someone with a stake in prescriptive pronouncements seeks to separate the "true" avant gardists from the "compromised" decadents (cf, Lyotard).


Dada, arising from the legacies of Futurism and Cubism, and consorting with the likes of the Constructivists, offered us Arp, Richter and Schwitters alongside Duchamp and Picabia, not to mention Ernst, Hoch and Man Ray. And yet, it is so often shackled as a movement under the figure of Duchamp's urinal.

The CoBrA painters bore strong affinities to Expressionism, Fauvism, Art Brut and even Ab-Ex. And yet, through a merger of some of these with select Lettrists, they also blend diriectly into the SI, which is so intimately identified with that ultimate postmodern moment of May '68.

I do think that there's a distinction to be made between the eras, but something more akin to Fredric Jameson's distinction between the respective marketplaces of the modern and postmodern periods, and the shift in the modes of cultural production thereof.



September 23, 2006, 11:24 PM

George, regarding the CoBrA painters I recently saw an excellent Asker Jorn at the Riena Sofia in Madrid. I think that this style of painting has some mileage left .



September 23, 2006, 11:39 PM

I forgot to mention that Dan made one hell of a contribution to the How to Shoot Art thread. Thanks, man.



September 23, 2006, 11:49 PM

In contrast to the works above, Friday (free) I went to the Guggenheim to see the Jackson Pollock Paintings on Paper exhibition. The exhibition finishes Sept 29, for those unable to make it, the catalogue is worth the money ($40)

This was a beautiful exhibition of a broad range of Pollocks works on paper. It covered the full span of his career from the start to the end. There were maybe a half dozen works in the "drip painting" style. These are just as good as the large works on canvas. They are smaller yet have an incredible sense of scale, they feel bigger than they are. Anyone who thinks he just "slung paint around with a drippy stick" will be surprised at the seriousness, sense of infinite space, and control of the medium evident in these smaller works.

I still find the works he made in the forties inspirational. These were the drawings associated with paintings like The She Wolf-1943, Moon Woman-1942, The Key which I find more interesting because they feel more open ended than the later drip paintings. If one compares the 3 Pollock paintings with the Karl Appel's from 1948-1955, the weakness in Appel's work becomes quite apparent.



September 24, 2006, 12:43 AM

Thanks for the power station info, Dan. Sorry for all the typos in my response. It's been a long day. And thanks for all thelinks, George. Maybe I will wake up tomorrow and respond when I am functioning better.



September 24, 2006, 12:49 AM

Re #31 Jordan

CoBrA: "I think that this style of painting has some mileage left."

Well, yes, it was just a fashion, all "style" is nothing more than fashion, it comes and goes with the changing times. Personal style is something different, it’s the way you inherently make something. Whatever "fashion" one assumes is primarily a look for the catwalk and aside from being "fashionable" has no bearing on the end result. One dons the cloak, and then tries to make a painting which pierces down to the truth of oneself. In comparison with Apple, this is where I think Pollock excelled. His focus was internal, the quest to make a painting his way, no holds barred and no shortcuts taken.

What I find difficult about groups like CoBrA is that the very existence of the group creates a focus outside the self, the group. Obviously this can be circumvented with a relentless pursuit for ones own truth and a commitment to take the painting to a point of resolution and not just membership in the group idea.

There is something which happens when you look at a painting, it occurs in the very first instant of perception, before any consideration or thought occurs. It is a form of raw primal awareness, in fact I believe it so primal it may be genetic in nature. Whatever the case, it is a psychological reaction from the subconscious. After that, the conscious takes over, we hate it, or we like it, and we think about it. This conscious behavior creates a veneer of opinion in our perception.

Whatever the exact mechanism, I think this initial psychological response is the "aesthetic experience" Everything which follows is conscious thought and mitigated by our prejudices one way or the other. The arguments for, or against, the visual and the conceptual occur in the space of conscious thought and are subject to prejudice (fashion)

A painter faces a the difficult task for they cannot experience a painting in its instantaneous totality. Rather they see it develop over time which, for the most part, is conscious perception. So as painters we are compelled to bring to bear our knowledge of painting and our subconscious memory of the feeling of the aesthetic experience. Somewhere in this process there is a personal truth, for ultimately all painting survives on the expression of the truth as the artist finds it. This "truth" must be found internally, it is independent of "style" (in the sense of fashion) or any other external source, concept, or group.

So yes, there is mileage left in any approach to painting but it is a long arduous path to success.




September 24, 2006, 1:51 AM

Found a link to some pictures of the Pollock drawings in the Guggenheim exhibition at Artnet The show was reviewed by Jerry Saltz.



September 24, 2006, 10:59 AM

Dan, it is too bad that critics are not more aware, all the time, of that "organic connectedness". As artists we know the tremendous complexity of what gets to us and influences us in the course of years of working, and then if you multiply it many thousands of times you get a "social organism" that is way too complex to even begin to comprehend in writing.

George, many thanks for the Appel & Pollock links. It is an interesting comparison, interesting to see two "all out" artists, both good but one (Pollock) "cleaner" and "deeper" (words fail me here) and just way better all around.

By the way your comparison of the "instantaneous" take on art as the right one (and other reactionst merely being somewhere outside of it) to the artist's struggle trying to somehow maintain the same depth of relationship to his art while making it is excellent. This is along the lines of something I have been working on but I had, for some reason, never explicity compared the two. Try writing it again without using the word "truth". "Truth" doesn't work conceptually in that context.



September 24, 2006, 11:05 AM

Saltz gets a little purple in his article and also makes a major error when he says Pollock was not "conventionally talented". He was "conventionally talented" big time. Conventional talent was what he overflowed with. That's what came banging through all that clumsy draftsmanship.

What he was not was conventionally well-trained and skillful, like, say, de Kooning (who was also wildly talented).



September 24, 2006, 11:41 AM

Re #38 Opie,

Regarding the notion that Pollock was not "conventionally talented", as you, I suspect the remark is referring to "academically trained" or the like. On the other hand, your inference about his "clumsy draftsmanship" should be laid to rest on closer inspection of his "drawings" For me, the art of drawing is about making a line that goes where you want it to and possesses the linear qualities (speed, thickness etc) you desire. The line may, or may not, accurately (in an academic sense) delineate the subject. I’m currently reading "The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh" (available in toto online, Google Van Gogh+Letters) and he speaks extensively of his need to make the drawing "expressive" at the expense of academic accuracy. Several of the Pollock works on paper utilizing the drip technique were marvels of the controlled line, a line which went where he intended, there seemed nothing clumsy about it.

In the paper works from the middle 1940’s his draftsmanship is rougher but I think this was a result of his search for a way to make the drawing expressive. What I felt was that he was reaching out for a particular feeling or effect and pressed the point until he felt he had found it. There were some Pollock drawings which I didn’t respond to as positively, but when he bore down and wouldn’t settle for less they were really impressive. Pollock was a very serious artist.

With Karl Appel, it appears to me that he had some "idea" about what he was after, but that he never pressed the process hard enough and just ended up settling for the "idea" This is a peculiar problem for the artist. If one intends to make something which is "instantaneous" or raw or primitive in appearance, without reworking the line into some resonate relationship with the whole, then a massive amount of editing is probably necessary because it’s hard to do consistently.



September 24, 2006, 1:04 PM

Re#37 Opie

Regarding my use of the word "truth" I know what you mean, I am still grappling with a way to correctly express what I mean. In essence I am trying to pinpoint an internal awareness which the artist becomes aware of. I am not referring to something outside, or a truth in some logical sense.

It seems to me that in the process of making a painting, there exists a stage, a point in time, where the painting coalesces and becomes an image of itself. Depending on the nature of the painting, its overall structure becomes essentially fixed. If one works in a traditional mode, relying heavily on an initial drawing, this may occur early in the process. With other more exploratory approaches, it may occur late in the process. Regardless, it becomes the point where the painting declares what it will look like as a general "image" or appearance. Unfortunately, this is where many artists stop.

In my opinion, a painting is a declaration of the artists identity, over time its subject may fade into history and what we see is the artist. We speak of "the painting by Fra Angelico" or "by Rembrant" and less so of the particular subject of the image. We may marvel at their skill and technical or expressive achievements but in the end what we recognize is "the Fra Angelico" or "the Rembrant" So where does this "identity" come from. It cannot be "style" per se, at least in the fashion sense, for many artists can use the same style or approach. So when I speak of the "truth" (for lack of a better word) I am referring to the pact the artist makes with himself to find that which is "true for them" in the process of making the painting.

On the surface this would appear to be subjective but I think otherwise. The memory of the "instantaneous aesthetic experience" I mentioned earlier, is a path to the universal and each artist must find his own way to this point. In my opinion this occurs in the second stage of the painting where the artist attempts to make the "general image" resonant with both with itself and with the artist.



September 24, 2006, 1:06 PM

I know what Saltz meant, George, but that was not what he said. Confusing "academically procicient" with "conventionally talented" remains a blunder, pure and simple.

I understand all the "draftsmanship" subtlety, of course, and obviously a case can be made for good drawing being whatever works, but that is not to say that Pollock was academically proficient, which is all I was referring to. Pollock's works on paper can be absolutely dynamite, but when he tried to, say, draw a figure with proper proportions and shading it often was clunky to an extreme. We learned in the 20th C. , for better or worse, that clunkiness and gernius can co-exist, but that does not obviate or delegitimize the distinction.



September 24, 2006, 1:25 PM

George, forgive my inttrusiveness, but i think you really have to toss "resonant", "universal" and "identity" along with "truth". And "subjective" too, just to keep things clear. I am also getting the feeling from #40 that I was reading something into your original statement which was not there.

I think what happens in art is fairly simple but very hard to describe. The artist makes something that corresponds with some sort of inner "psychic organization" or "life force" (the right terms just do not exist), building it by some internal plan that can only be intuitively perceived in a circumstance excluding "practical" considerations. Then the art is perceived by something similar in the viewer and comes across as a refreshing pleasure. It might be seen as the "deepest" kind of communication, a communication which puts all worldly things aside for that instant of perception, a communication without words, messages or directions.

I thought you were putting the "give" and the "take" up as mirror images, which I had not thought of in just that way and which strunk me as having the obviousness that all good intuitive thinking ultimately has. What you are saying now, however, seems to refer to art as somehow "identifying" the artist, which seems rather trivial. Maybe I just don't understand it.



September 24, 2006, 1:30 PM

Dan (#29), I wasn't so much suggesting that MAM's going for name cred as I was referring to its apparent obsession with a new "world-class" physical facility (to the relative neglect of what I consider far more important, namely, the art on offer). I don't care what the building might be like if the art in the damn building is not good enough. MAM's paltry current permanent collection is not even remotely up to the level of its proposed facility, and to me that's putting the cart before the horse.

If it were all being done with private money, it wouldn't really be any of my business, but there's at least $100 million of public funding involved, and the way MAM got that money was not at all to my liking. Besides, in my opinion, MAM's performance thus far simply did not merit such largesse. Of course, one could say it's not about MAM but about Miami and its image and so on, but I'm rather wary of civic boosterism, whether it's a new museum or a new sports facility. I prefer a hardnosed, case-by-case approach. In other words, don't give me promises--show me how and why you deserve what you're asking for, and you'd better convince me.



September 24, 2006, 3:16 PM

Re# 41-42 Opie

I agree with your observations in #41, I didn’t mean to imply that you meant or understood otherwise.

Re #42,

By "universal" I only mean to imply that there is something in the work which produces the instantaneous aesthetic experience and that when this occurs in its most positive form it appears to be independent of our conscious awareness. Whatever we say about it afterwards is part of the conscious process, we are thinking, recognizing and evaluating the work in a conscious way. It is possible to have the experience and dislike the work, dislike is subjective in the viewer, a result of conscious thought. It does require a certain amount of sensitivity on the part of the viewer but I believe it does not require prior knowledge about art and in that sense I believe it is universal.

You went on to say The artist makes something that corresponds with some sort of inner "psychic organization" or "life force" (the right terms just do not exist), building it by some internal plan that can only be intuitively perceived in a circumstance excluding "practical" considerations.

The terms you use here are somewhat analogous in meaning to what I’m trying to say using the term "resonance" The result of resonance is that the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. When the parts are resonant with one another they amplify the effect of one another. This is not necessarily the same as harmonious as it might allow for a successful resolution which appears dissonant.

What you are saying now, however, seems to refer to art as somehow "identifying" the artist…

To some extent I think this is true but what I was alluding to is probably more of a practical observation than anything else. Every artist sees the world their own way and the best they can do is to come to terms with what this implies. I do not think this has much to do with what one knows about painting, this just affects how one goes about making the painting not necessarily the result. Somewhere in the subconscious of the artist there is the memory of what "instantaneous aesthetic experience" feels like and the issue is to find that again in the painting using whatever skills are at hand. In my opinion this is an internal quest for only the artist can honestly know what they are feeling. If one succeeds, then one has found "a truth", a psychological correspondence with the aesthetic experience as one has perceived it. I honestly think that is all one can do.

FWIW, I’ve just been thinking out aloud here, conversationally. I’m not necessarily wedded to my particular choice of words but I am trying to express a number of thoughts I have been mulling over for the past few months. The notion of the "instantaneous aesthetic experience" occurred to me in a discussion with another artist about the Pollocks. He suggested that part of the viewer response or interest was a result of "knowing something about art, knowing they were Pollock’s" It occurred to me that while this is partly true, something else was happening and I suggested that Pollock had managed to tap into some primal psychological response, what we can call the aesthetic experience. I also noted that the works I judged to be "better" had also attracted a larger number of viewers and suggested that it was more than just knowing Pollock made the drip paintings which was the magnet. Anyhow, we debated the questions afterwards for 4-5 hours including my notion about "identity"



September 24, 2006, 4:12 PM

You and your friend are both right, but It is less a matter of who is right than it is knowing the precise terms of the discussion. "Knowing they are Pollocks" is misleading; if anything knowing they are Pollocks can be a block to seeing because you may feel obliged to "like them", which has nothing to do with esthetic experience.

"Knowing something about art", on the other hand, is probably necessary, because it gives you the requisite experience of what has worked and not worked which (I believe) constitutes a kind of "jungle clearance" to ease your way into the experience.

This is a very delicate discussion because it is such a minefield of misunderstanding, misconception and bloviated BS, and because anyone has every right to think whatever they want to, right or wrong, stupid or reasonable. That's why the right word is so essential, and why inadequate words need quotes and apologetics.

I object to "resonance" mostly because it is a current buzzword of such commen occurrance that is has lost its meaning and to "universal", which vies with "the infinite" as one of the good old gold standards of thin meaning. The problem with "truth" is that we are simply not talking about truth; truth is a matter of verbal specifiability and we are talking about something which is unspecifiable.

Finally, I see no way one can have the experience we are talking about (and I think we are talking about the same thing) and not "like" it. Anything that provides an esthetic experience for me I like. How can I not?

I think you are making this matter too intricate and variable. it is difficult to write about but in reality is a very simple process.



September 24, 2006, 6:25 PM

re #45 Opie

I think you are making this matter too intricate and variable

Well that isn’t what I intend. I am trying to make a distinction between the primary aesthetic experience and everything which follows.

Originally I used the term "instantaneous aesthetic experience" primarily as a means if locating it in the time sequence of how I believe a painting is perceived. I don’t necessarily feel it has to be instantaneous but I wanted to make the distinction between the feeling one has and the conscious responses which may follow.

If one is walking in the woods and sees a snake, one might feel an initial reaction of fear. On the east coast there are several poisonous snakes, without warning rattles, and survival might depend on having a defensive reaction (fear). This happens very quickly, as it must to be of any value, and after we consciously see the snake we assess, to the best of our knowledge, whether it is dangerous or not. This is the conscious response which occurs after the initial fright response.

I think that the "aesthetic response" must have had some value to the species, it goes back a long way in human history. I also suspect some people are more sensitive to the feeling than others but that it should exist to some degree in everyone.

That all said, one could conclude that it is indeed a simple process as you suggest. Where this becomes more difficult is in the conceptualization which occurs after the aesthetic experience and I wanted to make a distinction between the two phases of experience.

Everything starts with the "aesthetic experience" and unfortunately modern criticism has made the grave mistake of trying to separate the visual (Duchamp’s retinal) from the conceptual. In the visual arts, primarily I am concerned with painting here, the visual is the most obvious link to the "aesthetic experience" because it is how it is acquired, by seeing. Never the less, the conceptual becomes part of the experience as it unfolds. In my opinion, to separate the two (visual vs. conceptual) in opposition to one another, is a major philosophical mistake. They coexist, we can talk about the visual aspects of a painting and we can talk about the conceptual aspects of a painting but they exist together. At any point in time, fashion might emphasize one over the other, but they continue to be intertwined and ultimately are not subject to separation.



September 24, 2006, 7:18 PM

I think everything you say in the main is correct, but I'd have to part ways with you on the inseperability of the immediate experience and all the rest. I think they are utterly different - ditterent etiology, different characteristics, different type of experience, (if subsequent thinking is "experience at all" - I wouldn't think it is, except in the simplest sense) and so forth. Basically there is the esthetic experience and everything else.



September 24, 2006, 8:59 PM

re #47 opie

I’m not sure there is a disagreement here. What I said is that there is the primary aesthetic experience, a psychological response and that it is followed by a cognitive, or conscious response. I am not implying that they are the same thing, only that one follows the other. I suggested that the cognitive response can exist on both the visual and conceptual levels but that they are equally important.

The main problem is that if one tries to dissect the aesthetic response you leave its realm and are operating in the realm conceptual. All critical writing therefore exists in a post aesthetic response realm. If I use my previous analogy, it tries to tell you what kind of snake you saw not the nature of your fear.


Marc Country

September 24, 2006, 9:58 PM

In other words, "The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao."



September 24, 2006, 10:33 PM

Ah grasshopper,

it is the Tao that can be told which can be used to spear you.



September 24, 2006, 10:57 PM

George, you are merely stating that that once the esthetic response is over there is no more esthetic response so you go on thinking as usual. Doesn't this go without saying?

You don't have to "dissect" the esthetic response - if that is even possible - but you can report on it. That's what good criticism does.



September 25, 2006, 1:30 AM

Never the less, the conceptual becomes part of the experience as it unfolds. In my opinion, to separate the two (visual vs. conceptual) in opposition to one another, is a major philosophical mistake.

With an 'Art Speak' and 'Art Spoke' book in hand, most have been prepared to propose and defend the conceptual, yet don't comprehend and/or practice the visual. The market is in the mindset of the youth trained by current society. "It's all good" man...

Art is a product to sell 'so it seems'...



September 25, 2006, 1:32 AM

First comment in the previous statement is a quote from George. My bad.



September 25, 2006, 1:45 AM

The emphasis on 'placement' guarantees that it's bad.



September 25, 2006, 9:17 AM

re#51. opie

I don’t know about dissection. I was interested in the timeline of how one responds to a painting because it seems relevant to how the viewers final response is developed.

A. The instantaneous aesthetic experience.
I’m suggesting this is a psychological or at least a subconscious response which resides in the viewer. As such is probably subject to a number of psychological factors relating specifically to the individual viewer. I think this occurs prior to any conceptual response (awareness) but in theory could be measured using a brain scan (or…)

B. Everything which follows, visual and conceptual awareness.
Identification and assessment. This is related both to the viewers experience and the culture.

Conceptual awareness is not attached to the aesthetic response, in fact it may contradict the aesthetic response. Conceptual awareness is subject to dissection, or at least one may choose to focus on one specific aspect over another. Since it is a cognitive response it is subject to the prejudices of the viewer.

Criticism, or theory operates in the realm of conceptual awareness. It may try to illuminate why the aesthetic experience occurs but can only do so by looking at what occurs after the fact, what occurs as a result of conceptual awareness.


Marc Country

September 25, 2006, 10:45 AM

It seems I threw George with my last comment, so I'll de-mystify it a bit...

In other words, "The (aesthetic experience) that can be told is not the eternal (Aesthetic Experience)."

Now nobody needs to get speared, I hope.



September 25, 2006, 10:58 AM

It wasn't that I didn't get it.
In actual practice language continues to be the spear.



September 25, 2006, 11:40 AM

Jordan, the "conceptual" does not "become part of the experience as it unfolds". One is experience and the other is thought, or "cognitive" as George says. Separating them is not a "philosophical mistake", it is a matter of how the brain works. If you examine closely what you - you, personally - do when looking at a work you will understand this.

Yes, George, I think that is about it (#55) The conceptual response can indeed contradict the esthetic response because people do not trust their own experience, as you imply This is true universally, not just with art.



September 25, 2006, 9:25 PM

Saltz seems to write articles that are like patch work quilts . Just when I find a little patch that has something to say I see that it's sewn on to one that's nonsensical or contradictory . A few years ago there was a Pollack retrospective that showed his great work and some of his less than great draftsmanship. This odd thing happens where abstract painters are more easily justified if they have the same academic skill set as realistic painters and then choose to work abstractly . It's like discounting Ray Charles because he not Pavarotti.
re#10-"though no one will ever own up to it"Would you say more about this?



September 25, 2006, 9:28 PM

Sorry, ignore the last post .I was responding to another thread and posted here by accident.



September 26, 2006, 12:01 AM

But you are right on target with Saltz, Noah.

It is spelled "Pollock". I am a lousy speller myself but names we need to get right.



October 5, 2006, 12:43 PM

[Comment spam deleted.]



October 5, 2006, 8:14 PM

[I am excrement.]



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