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Post #895 • October 27, 2006, 9:49 AM • 53 Comments

Scott Adams is the Lance Armstrong of cartooning.

An artist records his own descent into Alzheimer's.

"A petri culture of rat neurons drew this. Not bad!"

The Art-O-Meter. Via Andrew, who asks, "So how can we expand this useful concept? The wank-o-meter, which counts the number of inane, wanky comments people make in front of a work? Perhaps including a bullhorn that emits an ear-splitting blast should some threshold be passed."

Boston ICA to open December 10. "That puts the opening nearly three months later than originally planned, and on a waterfront where daytime temperatures usually hover in the low 40s," notes Geoff Edgers.

Roberta Smith on Brice Marden, currently at MoMA. With Scully simultaneously over at the Met, I believe its time for that long-overdue trip to New York. (Robert Colescott's over at Kravets/Wehby, too, as Holland Cotter reports.) I have generally loved Marden's post-minimal works, but this recent thing in the article isn't landing on me right.

"A Danish court has rejected a libel case brought by several Muslim groups against a paper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.", its libertarian sympathies spiked this morning by this headline (leave it go already, people; what the hell, I'm just going to link to Richard Dawkins' blog; take that, pious hypocrites) approves.

Slate explains what to do about that elbowed Picasso.

Department of Customer Relations: I skipped yesterday to exert a mighty push upon the mechanism that will allow me to accept advertising and orders for merch. (As I said to Hovig, someone noted that arguing with slaves turns you into one. Guess what idiot-proofing your forms turns you into?) Sorry, the primary content provider and the head of the IT department is the same cat around here.

Update: Forgot to mention that Jide covered yours truly. Also, Basel is not a goddamn verb.

Update 2: Should have checked in with Reddit this morning. "It was the jewel of Pompeii's libertines: a brothel decorated with frescoes of erotic figures believed to be the most popular in the ancient Roman city." And it's back on display after a recent cleaning.




October 27, 2006, 10:59 AM

Sure it's a verb, Franklin. You know, "Bah, sell."



October 27, 2006, 11:32 AM

Roberta Smith was on our campus this week (Wed-Thu) speaking to public and student audiences. She did mention Brice Marden in her slide presentation on painting and seems to be still in the process of learning more about him. She noted that her process is always open to gathering information (meaning after seeing her published article that she still is probably looking at his work).

Do you like her writing (generally)?


redneck railroad

October 27, 2006, 12:30 PM

Not just a pickled shark...He can draw, too....



October 27, 2006, 4:05 PM

oh, ive been baseling for years, its not so great.
im actually getting tired of it, maybe i'll take up
painting instead.
what, an art show? oh, nevermind.



October 27, 2006, 4:30 PM

You're kidding, right, redneck?

I couldn't find anything on the site but if that shark-in-a -tank drawing on the main page is any sample, ouch! That's below the level of my worst expectations, and those were the ultra low expectations set by that painting show of his a while ago.

He should steer clear of the skill mediums.



October 27, 2006, 5:18 PM

what does legalart really do? yeah, i've read the mission statement....and know that they have had an "emerging artist" award (which is another ball of wax) but it seems that legalart exists a networking tool for the attorneys/collectors rather than artists.

what's the relationship with artcenter south florida? do they work with the artcenter? for the artcenter? hopefully they'll work for the many artists duped by the now defunct rocket projects.



October 28, 2006, 10:45 AM

OP, forget the dorky shark drawing. Click on the small color image to the right of it and get a load of the title of the thing. I don't know whether to barf or laugh hysterically. This guy is a piece of work, all right, but I think that, ultimately, laughter is the way to go.



October 28, 2006, 11:13 AM

Yes, it is stupid.

I was struck by the flat-out ineptness of the drawing. Usually even bad artists have at least a bit of art-school flair to any sketch they make. The carpenter who helped me work on my house this summer had way more precision and character in his drawings than this. I was surprised.


the redneck

October 28, 2006, 11:42 AM was meant to be funny.

A show of 25 years of his drawings.
They're almost as bad as COOPER's.



October 28, 2006, 12:33 PM

Well, of course we all know that the quality of the drawings is quite beside the point here, certainly as far as Gagosian and his clientele are concerned. Hirst could have had the drawings done by other people, then merely added a line or two and signed them, and it wouldn't make much difference (just as it didn't with his previous painting show at Gagosian). The monumental cynicism and opportunism involved don't appear to bother those who are evidently too rich to need a brain.



October 28, 2006, 12:48 PM

Jack, you make an interesting comment. It seems we demand more "originality" from drawers than painters. Rubens, as I'm sure you know, had some significant parts of his paintings painted for him, while he was away on trips. Michelangelo was exceptional in that he painted all of his frescos himself. Most of the other greats used assistants. And why not? Some of that stuff is damn hard work.

But when an assistant makes a drawing, that seems to be a foul. In the case of Hirst, though, he could use an assistant, one with a good hand. And he could afford it too.



October 28, 2006, 1:02 PM

Yes, Catfish, but we're not talking about the same or even truly comparable scenarios. Rubens, to stick to your example, used assistants trained by him. They did what he had taught them to do. Whatever work they performed, he could not only do it himself but do it unquestionably better. It was simply a matter of practicality and expediency--demand could not be met if he did everything himself, as he was not only an artist but also functioned as a high-level diplomat, who had to travel to various countries for that reason.

I'm sure you will agree that the skills of HIrst, such as they are, are in no way comparable with those of a Rubens. The latter's use of assistants is essentially beside the point.



October 28, 2006, 1:08 PM

according to dan c and his buddies, this is where marden got his inspiration



October 28, 2006, 1:23 PM

What inspiration? there's nothing there to be inspired by.



October 28, 2006, 1:24 PM

I'll give another example. Sir Godfrey Kneller (who was German) was the leading portrait painter in England from about 1680-1720. He was in extremely high demand, and reportedly sometimes accommodated as many as 14 sitters in a day. He relied heavily on assistants, especially for painting things other than the actual face, and the average portrait turned out by his studio tended to be slick and mechanical. However, when he took matters into his own hands and really cared about a particular piece, he was capable of much higher quality, as good as any portraits made in Europe at that time.

Interestingly, sitters handled with the assembly-line approach were required to pose only for a drawing of the face, made by Kneller. Efficient formulas were worked out for the rest, meaning accessories and so on.

But yes, I take your point about drawing versus painting. Not a few artists are now more esteemed for their drawings than their paintings, and one reason is that the drawings are considered a truer and more pure expression of the artist's talent.



October 28, 2006, 7:21 PM

What isn't there, George? The Christensen is certainly more lively, wacky and fun than those inert Mardens.

Or is this more of the "success counts" doctrine.



October 29, 2006, 12:31 AM

Franklin, someone (plural) said to me last night that your intensions for this blog are to elaborate on a pending monetary idea; to write and sell a book about Walter Darby Bannard. Is this true?
Never-the-less, this has been informative.



October 29, 2006, 12:59 AM

Basel is not a goddamn verb.

Franklin - The verb in the sentence "How To Art Basel" wasn't Basel, it was Art. And there was a typo.

How Thou Art Basel
Let Me Count The Ways



October 29, 2006, 1:02 AM

The big problem is Baseling art.



October 29, 2006, 1:29 AM

Homage to Him, the Exalted One, the Worthy One, The Supremely Enlightened One
Homage to Him, the Exalted One, the Worthy One, The Supremely Enlightened One
Homage to Him, the Exalted One, the Worthy One, The Supremely Enlightened One
I go to the Buddha as my refuge.
I go to the Dhamma as my refuge.
I go to the Sangha as my refuge.
For the second time, I go to the Buddha as my refuge.
For the second time, I go to the Dhamma as my refuge.
For the second time, I go to the Sangha as my refuge.
For the third time, I go to the Buddha as my refuge.
For the third time, I go to the Dhamma as my refuge.
For the third time, I go to the Sangha as my refuge.

You are now officially a Buddhist. But wait, the ceremony is not complete. The Buddha recommends that all his disciples keep the minimum of the Five Precepts. These are not rigid commandments that one is compelled to live by. They really are more like training rules that are taken voluntarily. They establish your virtue and protect you from harm in this life as well



October 29, 2006, 2:40 AM

You are fortunate Methuselah, as am I Sisiphus.



October 29, 2006, 9:46 AM

#16. You've got to be kidding



October 29, 2006, 10:28 AM

No, I'm not kidding George. Christensen did a lot of those linear spray paintings back in the 60s and I think they are pretty good, though the comparison to the recent Mardens did not occur to me until someone mentioned it here.

In comparison to those pictures the Mardens are like those Christensens after they died and got dressed up for the funeral.



October 29, 2006, 10:40 AM

#23, Oh well, I liked it better when I thought you were kidding.



October 29, 2006, 11:29 AM

Yes, I imagine you did. My problem is that I naturally want to be "for painting"; I am a painter and painting is my bias. I also can observe, fairly objectively, I think, that other ways of making art that have come up in the last generation don't get anywhere near the level of some painting done recently and in the past.

Now we have these two shows, Marden and Scully, at the two all-time top venues we have, and this should make me happy because MoMA and the Met have chosen to "honor" painting, to respect it and declare that it is significant in the face of all the mainstream art which I think is little more than detritus. The critic at the Times joins in, declaring that painting more or less died as an art form about 30 years ago (which only exposes her ignorance) and that the mere act of painting straight abstract pictures now amounts to some kind of heroism, plunging Marden into the broad mythological stream of Great Men Who Struggled Against the Odds and Won Out in the End.

Unfortunately, this is not good enough, because the art is not good enough. It's OK, its respectable, it is better than most. But it is not good enough. And when I see Olitskis selling for next to nothing and getting no official attention whatsoever, a deadpan Scully bringing hundreds of thousands while, say, a dynamite Noland band brings tens of thousands, or a flat, innert Marden going at auction for 3 times what a great Hofmann goes for, or see those polychromed fettucini pictures selling for a million or two while Christensen's much earlier and much more interesting paintings reamain virtually unsellable, I cannot exult.



October 29, 2006, 11:52 AM

Great Men Who Struggled Against the Odds and Won Out in the End

Indeed, opie, that's what Roberta Smith would have us believe. Both these guys have "struggled" with selling pictures for a hundred thousand or more each and selling many if not most of what they could produce. Their IRAs should be bulging. They "won out" all along, as far as I am concerned. True, now they are getting even more attention, and it should be measured by their prices going up further.

What's at issue is whether the attention now and attention all along is proportionate to the goodness of their work or a random phenomenon of popular culture or both. It can't be both because their stuff isn't that good.



October 29, 2006, 12:15 PM

Seems like money confuses the issue



October 29, 2006, 12:22 PM

No, George, it clarifies it. Money is the simplest and most straightforward measure of how the art world appraises art. This, of course, contrasts with quality of work all the time, which provides an interesting counterpoint.



October 29, 2006, 12:40 PM

Money is the simplest and most straightforward measure of how the art world appraises art.

Hmm, avoid the stockmarket.



October 29, 2006, 1:04 PM

And the stockmarket is the simplest and most straightforward measure of how the financial world appraises business.

What's the problem?



October 29, 2006, 1:10 PM

The Stock market reflects a moment of perceived value, not necessarily true value. Prices become overvalued or undervalued depending on the emotions of the participants. Obviously the art market currently places a high value on Scully and Marden, but also on Hirst.



October 29, 2006, 1:36 PM

... reflects a moment of perceived value, not necessarily true value

It takes a long time in art for "perceived value" to align itself with "true value". Greenberg called the eventual alignment "the consensus of taste".

Emotions may be part of how some works get undervalued and others overvalued, but mostly it is about the failure of taste, which has its most difficult time getting on track with respect to newly created work.

When taste fails, it is easily and usually replaced by our herding instinct and so we go along with the crowd which, in art, does a pretty good job of seeing to it that its members do not get bored. This art crowd has gotten quite large in the past 50 years. Thus their influence has increased, even as the standards have been necessairly lowered to accomodate the "averageness" that always comes with larger and larger group. As it grows, further accomodations are made, and so forth. In theory, it should collapse of its own weight, someday. That's just a theory, however.



October 29, 2006, 1:50 PM

Well as a painter I don't see how one could hold up DC against either Scully or Marden. The fact that the marketplace agrees is incidental.



October 29, 2006, 2:48 PM

What does it take to get you in on the discussion, George? I never said that the market had anything whatsoever to do with "true value" All I said was that the price of an object is the clearest indicator of the value the market puts on it, and then I made a painfully obvious point (or so I thought) about the CONTRAST between "perceived value" and "true value".


Marc Country

October 29, 2006, 4:25 PM

I proofread for free, as long as the writing is interesting enough.

The comparison between works by Marden and Christensen seems like a no-brainer. It's interesting to think that DC's squiggles might predate, or have perhaps even 'inspired', BM's.



October 29, 2006, 4:47 PM

some of dan's most recent work, which is not available on the above page, is even more similar to mardens signature style. i'll see if i can find some pics for comparison.

below are the most recent i could find, but not really what i was trying to show.



October 29, 2006, 5:05 PM

I don't think there is any connection between the paintings of Christensen and Marden. Did he see them? probably but so what? We all see a lot of other painters work, some notions stick, some don't and we forget about them.

It appears to me that Marden's late paintings evolved out the drawings he was making in the late 70's. He was interested in Diebenkorns work and the two of them had some sort of dialog about that time. I am sure Christensen is a serious painter but in my estimation he was never able to take his loopy spray paintings past the initial idea and it appears he gave it up.

Dispite aspersions over the "sucess" doctrine, the simple fact is that Mardens late paintings are much better than Cristensen's.



October 29, 2006, 5:09 PM

Hey George, I can agree that Christensen's pictures depicted in 1's last URL are not any better than Marden's. Maybe not as good, even. In any case, those last two ain't so hot. They have an admirable bluntness, though. Marden, to my knowledge, never succeeded in being blunt.



October 29, 2006, 5:29 PM


I'm not quite sure what 'blunt' infers.

As far as the curvilinear line goes, it certainly appears to me that there is a huge difference in intent between what Marden is doing and what Christensen is doing.



October 29, 2006, 6:00 PM

they'r'e both a bunch of unqualified crap.



October 29, 2006, 8:42 PM

Kravets/Wheby gallery has a rather nice sellection of realist figure painters - check the link above.



October 29, 2006, 11:05 PM

Dear webmaster,

My name is David. I found your website from google. And deeply impressed by your site.We have two websites about oil paintings. hope to exchange link with your site. Do you think it is OK? If you are interested in exchanging. Our websites are as follows,

[David, if you were really impressed by my site, you wouldn't be mixing it up with a bulletin board. - F.]



October 30, 2006, 12:06 AM

Well, I guess it's better than plasticized bodies.



October 30, 2006, 12:10 AM

George, "blunt" is just a word applied to art, in this case, the way those two pictures look to me. "Frank" might be just as good. If neither means anything to you, that's not an issue as far as I am concerned.



October 30, 2006, 12:11 AM

Franklin, is Boston on DST?



October 30, 2006, 12:14 AM

BTW George, if words are inadequate for describing works of art, they are even more inadequate for describing "intents" of artists. In fact, I am quite comfortable with my take on most works, it is just describing it that gets screwed up. But as far as knowing the intent, I simply don't know it in the first place. How is it that you feel you know the difference of intent?



October 30, 2006, 2:16 AM

Hey Opie, those plastinated bodies are there for us to draw as the best way to understand anatomy is to see it and draw it in the "round" - thus the results are accurate and volumetric. A viceral experience is a truthful and lasting one.



October 30, 2006, 10:16 AM

Sorry for the silence, folks - the internet connection has been on the fritz since the windstorm this weekend.

I like Roberta Smith's writing well enough. Her ducks are usually in a row.

J, I'm about to start experimenting with ways to generate revenue on, to see if I can make a go of it, financially, as an independent writer. (Combined with selling some art, it could work.) The project I'm doing for Darby is a separate effort. His written oeuvre is full of gems - readable, useful thoughts - and I think they deserve to be better-known than they are. I would like to see them published in print as well, but my monetary expectations for such a project would be modest, as in Don't Quit Your Day Job kind of modest. Since I quit my day job back in March, I have to have a broad strategy.

Kate, there's a beautiful rendition in Old Path, White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh in which Ananda goes to the Buddha and says, "We need an ordination ceremony," and the Buddha replies, "Just tell them to act accordingly."

I like the Mardens better than the Chrstensens as well, and Scully better than both. Sprayed paint on its own tends to look listless to me.



October 30, 2006, 11:42 AM

Good boy, Franklin. I see we're still on the same path and, to some extent I also have some things going on in the background that seem to be the same general idea or motivation.



October 30, 2006, 12:19 PM

Anticipating what I expect will be some griping about using Artblog,net for commercial purposes, I'd like to say I have no problem with it at all and hope it works. It will be interesting to see how it develops.


Marc Country

October 30, 2006, 4:15 PM




October 30, 2006, 5:15 PM

That Schjeldahl describes Marden as " the most profound abstract painter of the past four decades" simply reinforces my opinion.

I don't expect atgreement; I'm just saying it for the record.



October 30, 2006, 9:54 PM

Looking at Marden's paintings is hard to do. He said so himself.



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