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Post #980 • March 31, 2007, 7:49 PM • 29 Comments

Artbroken: What Art Is and How We Stopped Making It, and the eulogy delivered for Jules Olitski at his memorial service.




March 31, 2007, 9:13 PM

Mere common sense, alas, is too plain and simple to be fashionable, glamorous or "challenging." It is right, of course, but right doesn't go very far with those who don't really care about that and never did. Same goes for quality. "New and different," no matter how empty and contrived, is what is wanted. The cynical need it to manipulate the shallow, and the shallow always fall for it. It is their nature to do so, and they deserve what they get.


Marc Country

March 31, 2007, 9:30 PM

Aren't all Faustian bargains bad ones?



March 31, 2007, 11:24 PM

Any deal with the devil will seem to have its up side - to the short-sighted or the corrupt, at least.



April 1, 2007, 1:28 AM

The eulogy was very moving.
I appreciate the the essay as well.
I don't know if I'd call the bargain being made Faustian . It doesn't have the grand tragic element. It's more like revenge of the philistines. Faustus knew who he was cutting a deal with. If one believes God and the devil are equals or don't exist, the contract loses weight. In the present situation there's no good or bad. There's just a lot of posturing and "whatever."There are probably a few instructors- maybe a few artists too- wandering around wondering if they should repent because they've sold out, but I seem to run into more who either are content to keep their position even if it means nothing more than a regular salary or fleeting celebrity or they're content to be cheerleaders. Faustus may have wanted wealth and power but he wanted knowledge - I don't sense the same crazily ambitious desire for knowledge at the root of contemporary "sell- outs."



April 1, 2007, 2:08 AM

Mann's Faust-figure was a composer whose bargain was with the creator of high culture: his foreshortened life in exchange for the mother of all songs.



April 1, 2007, 2:18 AM

Rhetorically into the ether: provided you'd been given sure guarantee that it would make your art better than the best, what lengths would you go to for your art? Or rather, what wouldn't you?



April 1, 2007, 7:30 AM

I think the comments re "Faustian" are well, taken, and leave it to Marc to point out the redundancy.



April 1, 2007, 8:43 AM

Noah has a point. It's one thing for someone with great talent or serious promise to sell out. It's quite another to jump on the bandwagon and adopt the party line to get a certain kind of material success, when no other type of success was ever likely to happen. A lot of these people didn't have much going for them to begin with, and you can't "sell out" if you never really had anything truly worthwhile to sell.



April 1, 2007, 8:50 AM

About "first place": yes indeed it exists. One of the "mathematical problems" in great art is that "many" artists reside there, the goodness of one is virtually indistinguisable from the goodness of the others. We must grasp that more than one can be best but only as long as each is the best. The systemic failure to understand this has led to pluralism, where "many" means everyone who conforms and is currently certified.



April 1, 2007, 9:22 AM

About the FATE talk as a whole: right on. Foundations can't be important unless something important is conveyed. So, like everything else in art, it gets down to good judgment about what matters. For those who believe in "relevant" and "current", Bannard's talk might give them some problems. How did the talk go over with the crowd in attendance? Anyone know?

My guess is that it resonated with at least a few but that is a guess. The theme of the conference suggests that it would not be many.



April 1, 2007, 9:34 AM

I'm not as confident as Bannard that "EVOLVE" means to sneak what is important to art in by the back door, though his definition of figure drawing is very funny. Instead, it could simply mean "get with it" and "SHIFT" into a contemporary mode that will allow students to "CONNECT" with what's hot.

Again, anyone know which way the conference attendees leaned on the EVOLE issue?



April 1, 2007, 9:48 AM

I think your interpretation of the conference theme is probably correct, Catfish, if it can be taken to be definite at all. I am sure Bannards interpretaion was ironic or satirical..



April 1, 2007, 4:41 PM

How does one know it's a faustian bargain until after they agree to it?



April 1, 2007, 4:43 PM

I meant to say, How does one know it's a faustian bargain BEFORE they agree to it?

Sorry, looooooooooooong night.



April 1, 2007, 4:58 PM

Because the devil comes up and says he will give you all sorts of earthly rewards if you sell your soul.

And also if your name is Faust.



April 1, 2007, 5:33 PM

Devil/Faust questions aside, Bannard made one hell of a statement.



April 1, 2007, 5:41 PM

Yes, Catfish, and certainly one worth making, but I'm afraid the target audience may be too far gone for it to do much good. Still, it can't hurt.



April 1, 2007, 8:32 PM

I've been looking at some drawings by Claude from his Liber Veritatis (now in the British Museum). These are just sketches, the sort of thing he could probably toss off in his sleep, yet the degree of sheer visual poetry and rightness is just, well, sort of like listening to Mozart. It seems completely natural and effortless, like it was nothing for him to do it, and yet it's so beautiful, exquisitely so, like a delicious breeze.

This is the sort of thing that art students should be looking at, learning from and emulating, at least in spirit, not some labored "with-it" gobbledygook. It's a wonder these utilitarian clowns don't explode from aesthetic constipation.



April 1, 2007, 10:18 PM

Re Claude's work, no one needs to take my word for it. However, if it was good enough for J.M.W. Turner (who revered Claude), it should be good enough for art students--then or now.


Painters Today.

April 2, 2007, 9:05 AM

That was serious?
We read Bannard's "statement' as satire..

He was serious?
Jeez.....what a (oil) stick in the mud....



April 2, 2007, 9:45 AM

Painters Today, clarify your objections.


Marc Country

April 2, 2007, 10:17 AM

I have a theory: that artists who don't recognize the problems with the contemporary art world (as described by Bannard here, and elsewhere throughout this blog) are very likely part of the problem itself.

It reminds me a little of the old saying about poker: if you look around the table, and don't know who the sucker is, then the sucker is you.



April 2, 2007, 11:09 AM

It's not necessarily a failure to recognize the problem; it may be a refusal to do so. The current system can clearly benefit its adherents, and they are hardly likely to denounce or oppose it. Reflexively and furiously attacking those who do, however, is completely predictable--as we see time and time again.



April 2, 2007, 4:41 PM

Franklin, those carpet swatches have to go. When I cover them up with my hand, there's a definite improvement. It's just visual clutter for no good reason.



April 2, 2007, 4:46 PM

Jack - Just get a small swatch of nice arches paper and tape it on to your Monitor over that part of the screen. Works for me, except I can never seem to close any windows ????



April 2, 2007, 9:23 PM

That's a little bit funny Otto.



April 4, 2007, 4:18 AM

Franklin, please put Jack out of his pain....and they do look like carpet swatches...your work would be more fun to see.



April 4, 2007, 10:10 AM

The site looks great ! Thanks for all your help ( past, present and future !)



April 4, 2007, 9:18 PM

An open letter to Walter Darby Bannard:

Dear WDB,
Sincerely, RBW.



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