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Pent-up Roundup

Post #926 • December 22, 2006, 8:42 AM • 26 Comments

Well,'s site meter is still cranking strong. Gut yontiff, one and all!

Sara Agniel sent out news that her show of Thomas Sgouros's paintings got reviewed by the New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, which appears to be the blog of illustrator and writer Greg Cook.

Terri Windling, an alert reader hailing from The Endicott Studio for Mythic Arts, found the Ellen Day Hale post and wrote in: " The Hale family produced quite a number of painters over the generations - and I am writing because I thought you might be interested in a book I came across many years ago called In the Studio by Nancy Hale. It's a collection of biographical stories about Nancy's parents, Phillip Everett and Lillian Westcott Hale, both of whom where well-known painters in Boston at the turn of the century. The book is out of print, but well worth tracking down." So I did. Said alert reader continued, "The most recent painter in the Hale family is Phil Hale, born in Massachusetts and now living in London. His work runs the gamut from book and comics illustration (he's illustrated Stephen King, among others) to fine art (his portrait work has been exhibited in London's National Gallery). Two links." Endicott Studio has a blog.

A gazillion free tutorials on drawing the human figure.

"Thomas Eakins' The Gross Clinic will remain in Philadelphia after a fundraising drive yielded nearly $30 million and the promise of bank loans that will keep it from being sold and moved." I think it's for the best. Philadelphia is just much closer to Boston than Arkansas.

The Bamiyan Buddhas consider a return. They must have been something to behold: "The Buddhas were only roughly carved in the rock, which was then covered in a mud plaster mixed with straw and horsehair molded to depict the folds of their robes and then painted in bright colors. ... The larger Buddha was painted carmine red and the smaller one was multicolored."

Fork art. At the same site, latte art. (Reddit)

Peter Schjeldahl delivers my pick for best AB/MB article.

A sad week for cartooning and comics: Joe Barbera of Hanna-Barbera died Monday, and Martin Nodell, creator of the Green Lantern, died Saturday.

"'This kimono must be beautiful, but there is also sorrow in the weave,' [Yasujiro] Yamaguchi said, eyes trained on his stitch. 'The audience will see this and immediately understand that the character is mourning for something precious, for something lost.'" Twilight for the Kimono.

Nice shot of the ICA at sunset. (UH)

Roberta Smith comes up to Prov to review Wunderground. (Via Brett, who recently contributed this to the New York Observer.)

The life and times of an artist's model in the early part of the last century.

Historical Anatomies on the web. (Andrew)

I didn't know the trick with the baby oil. (Andrew)

Department of Skills: Bicycling. (Reddit)




December 22, 2006, 9:32 AM

Schjeldahl writes engagingly, and he is right about the bubble. of course, but he is so breathless, and so eyeless. There's little mention of what he thought was any good. This is not art writing, it is fashion reporting.



December 22, 2006, 9:44 AM

I agree with opie. schjeldahl doesn't say what's good or bad about the art. It's not art writing, just fashion. It's my experience that most critics are unwilling to make a stand on what they believe is good or bad about art. Seems as if they are affraid to be wrong.



December 22, 2006, 11:32 AM

It's a lot safer that way. Look what happened to Greenberg.



December 22, 2006, 11:50 AM

yes, looed what happened to Greenberg. I believe it will turn around at some point.



December 22, 2006, 6:07 PM

Well, I suppose Schjeldahl does a reasonably good job of pointing out the obvious, but I don't need him or anyone else to tell me that. If his writing seems superficial and inconsequential, it's because it fits its subject. The scene he's covering is only incidentally about art as such, so there's no real call for him to focus on that. What really matters is the game and the players, as his entire piece corroborates.



December 22, 2006, 6:23 PM

Frankly, it's the kind of thing that I never wanted to be called upon to write. But I stand up for this sharp observation delivered with great brio: "I knew what all the righteously posturing art was for, but not whom it was for. It invoked a mythical audience, whose supposed assumptions were supposedly challenged. I missed the erotic clarity of commerce - I give you this, you give me that - and was glad when creative spunk started leeching back into unashamedly pleasurable forms. Then came this art-industrial frenzy, which turns mere art lovers into gawking street urchins. Drat."



December 22, 2006, 7:11 PM

Well, as I said, he does write engagingly, and. if one is not so small minded as to expect anything about the art, entertainingly. So I won't begrudge you that, despite that his smug mannerisms drive me up the wall, and he cant see the end of his nose.



December 22, 2006, 7:59 PM

Well opie, as we have discussed many times, it is pretty easy to get things right if you stick with the negative side, which is so large a target that only a dolt could miss it. That, coupled with the fact most art writers ARE dolts and DO miss it, makes Peter S tolerable. His comment about "supposed assumptions supposedly challenged" is a good way to characterize what god must think of the spectacle.

Meanwhile the darkness remains in control, and Schjeldahl gets his start there. In fact, the rich and famous that Jack likes so much to dislike, seem to get off on a Schjeldahl or two to make them feel bad enough to think they are in the right ball park, the ball park where IT is happening.

Merry xmas, happly holidays, etc. to all those who inhabit the catacombs. May you all live long enough to make it out of the basements scattered here and there amongst the pilgrims who seek to get their clickers clicked as only the good stuff can click them



December 22, 2006, 10:28 PM

Well, Catfish, since the offending rich and famous insist and persist on intruding upon my consciousness, the least I can do is turn them to some useful purpose, such as serving as butts for my scorn. After all, it wouldn't do to let them remain entirely useless.



December 22, 2006, 11:39 PM

I just felt like sharing this. Near the end of his life, William Hogarth issued a print that ticked off some politician, who then wrote and published something against Hogarth, who then issued a print with a caricature of the politician, whose friend, a minor satirist, wrote a vitriolic Epistle to Hogarth, accusing the painter of being old, decrepit and senile. Hogarth then issued a print called The Bruiser, in which the satirist is depicted as a beer-swigging bear wielding a club peppered with the word lye (the gentleman apparently had alcohol issues). The print also included Hogarth's pug dog Trump, posing impassively and looking very dignified, while at the same time pissing on a copy of the Epistle.

I wonder if Pollock knew about this. I expect he would have approved.



December 23, 2006, 8:19 AM

Yes and I approve as well. This is a creative folly between fellow competitors. They must have loved each other none-the-less Jack.



December 23, 2006, 12:08 PM

Franklin, I forgive the oversight, given your new address, but you missed a prime Roundup item. It seems we're now in a golden age of art in Miami. Yes we are. Says so in the paper (the Herald, I mean). Go here (assuming the stupid "sign-in" screen doesn't pop up):

Ah, Basel! Ah, MOCA! We're so blessed--at least on paper. Doesn't it make you want to come back, Franklin? Doesn't it make you want to tear your hair out? Oh, sorry; you have no hair. Well, same difference.



December 23, 2006, 12:21 PM

You are soooo negative, Jack. If Bonnie says "This is a golden time for the arts in Miami", who are we to dispute our perceptions and experience? After all, it is not the art that counts, but the public reaction to the art. Let's have sensible priorities here.

Besides, "our membership is up, therefore Art Basel is good" is such ironclad logic I would hesitate to even think of disputing it.



December 23, 2006, 12:49 PM

I know, OP. I'm just not with-it, but I suppose I should try harder. I should stop going on my own experience and judgment and just go by the press releases. They're so encouraging. Or at least open-minded. Very. Sometimes there's no discernible evidence of any mind at all. It must be something like being on really good mood enhancing substances.

But I can't help it. It's society's fault. I wasn't brought up properly. My parents didn't have "challenging" or "disturbing" art all over the house. They never told me about people like Helmut Newton, you see. They didn't take me to all the Locust openings. I was just left to my own devices and allowed to figure things out for myself, which is always dangerous. I should have been made to read art theory and art magazines first and actually look at the stuff second. Or third.

Anyway, I'm glad you've come around and gotten on board. Maybe Bonnie will even give you a discount when you subscribe.


Marc Country

December 26, 2006, 10:45 AM

Apologies for my self-centeredness, but, speaking of bad "art writing"...



December 26, 2006, 10:46 AM

pretentious, self indulgent machistas ( excluding my girls) steve mumford is the shznit.... bow down! what are you guys doing for the movement... hah!



December 26, 2006, 12:28 PM

Marc, that review is not art writing at all but an expression of a conflict of values. Although it fails to work out the conflict It is not that badly written.

I can understand your frustration but it would be disingenuous of you not to expect criticism if you take liberties with the representation of religious figuration which has been so symbolically fixed for so long. This is just a pragmatic expectation. Think of what would happen if you portrayed Jesus in any kind of radically altered circumstances like this. There would be public meetings, editorials, vandalism, and such like.

Some kinds of representation are too culturally laden to mess with. It isn't worth the trouble, unless your intentions are political, which yours, apparently, are not.



December 26, 2006, 2:31 PM

You're right, opie. There was a Jewish woman who once thought she could rehabilitate the swastika as an artistic symbol, to restore its original meaning, the sun. Being a Jew seemed to her enough "protection" from offending anyone who might doubt her purpose. It didn't work. There are some things that are bigger than the magic of art, no matter how good the art.



December 26, 2006, 3:20 PM

Yes. The problem, apart from offending the pious, is importing all sorts of pre-existing baggage that is bound to be distracting, confusing and/or misleading (relative to what the artist intended). The presumed content or source material then becomes inordinately prominent, making the artistic element secondary, if not dwarfing it altogether.


Marc Country

December 26, 2006, 4:10 PM

Marc, that review is not art writing at all...

Yes, that was my point as well. It was an article about religious sensitivity, which is fine, but not if it takes the place of a consideration of the work as ART, which, to my mind, is the job of a so-called "art writer". Clement Greenberg affirmed “that you look at Hindu sculpture, say, in the same way, by and large, as you look at contemporary art or the art of the old masters or any other kind of art”.

Naturally, I don't have a problem with the Hindu priest's (negative) personal take of the piece, although I feel he's missing out on the art... his loss.

I do wonder what he thought of the three other works on display, which were standing poses... I suppose his opinion of those pieces wasn't controversial enough...



December 26, 2006, 4:13 PM

Acrually I can (could if I were there anyway) see it esthetically because although I see the "indian" look I do not know the intricacies of the symbolism. I suppose many people could. But it still is not worth all the inevitable hassle.

You're right, Catfish. The swastika is a very strong graphic image which simply cannot be used unless a direct reference to the Nazis. It has been banished from circulation.

Another instance of this, although of a less innocent construction, is the "N" word, which is now at the top of our obscenity list. The mere utterance of the word, in many circumstances, can ruin careers. I heard an interesting interview by a black journalism student on NPR asking different people about this. The white people were pretty righteous about it and so were a number of the black people, but many of the black people, especially the younger ones, got pretty indignant at the idea that someone would deny use of the word among themselves and repeated it hilariously and liberally into the microphone. Of course they were quite clear that they did not want to hear white people using it.



December 26, 2006, 4:26 PM

Off topic:
Speaking of the swastika check this:
A Canadian artist whose mission is the healing of the swastika.



December 26, 2006, 4:28 PM

For many millenia, before it was appropriated by the Nazis, the swastika was a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Almost every race, religion and continent honored the swastika -- a perfect example of the universal spread of a symbol thru the collective unconscious used by American Indians, Hindus, Buddhists, Vikings, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Mayans, Aztecs, Persians, Christians, and neolithic tribes. There are even Jewish swastikas found in ancient synagogues side-by-side with the star of David!
The swastika was associated with the hammer of Thor which returned to him like a boomerang, the footprints of Buddha, the emblem of Shiva, Apollo, Jupiter, and even Jesus Christ! The swastika was the first Christian symbol and is found in the catacombs in Rome. Hindus and Buddhists to this day still revere the swastika as their sacred sign. Jains make the sign of the swastika similar to the Christian sign of the cross.
In the early part of the twentieth century Rudyard Kipling used the swastika as his coat-of-arms, Coca Cola made a swastika-shaped lucky watch fob,American pilots used it on their planes when they fought for the French in World War One, it was the symbol for the Ladies Home Journal sponsored Girls' Club and the Boy Scouts. A town in Ontario was named Swastika in 1911 because of a lucky gold strike.



December 26, 2006, 5:09 PM

Well, Adolf squelched all that, didn't he?


Marc Country

December 27, 2006, 12:33 PM

Well, no, opie, he didn't... I think that's curious' point... the swastika is STILL used as a positive symbol by other cultures, such as the Hindus, but in our ethnocentrism, because we see it as "off limits" to us, we assume it must be off limits to others as well.

Not that I put any swastikas on my "hindu-inspired" sculptures, mind you... I only was to be inflicted to so much wrath, you know...



December 29, 2006, 1:47 AM

The demo drawings 'tagged' above are 'stiff' and calculated; thus they are not beautiful..



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