Previous: When it comes to this art stuff your species is completely nuts (8)

Next: Roundup (15)

Goosebumps

Post #1020 • June 14, 2007, 12:08 PM • 83 Comments

The ball goes into E_W's court.

Comment

1.

Marc Country

June 14, 2007, 7:30 PM

I'm no expert, but that looked like damn good TV to me.

TV is a little like opera, I suppose... it's produced by a team of people, it tells a story, it's multimedia, multisensory... One difference: good TV usually only has a duration of a few minutes.

I hope Jack watches the video, and shares his thoughts.

As for art... whaddya think of this Carol Vogel review of Neo Rauch at the Met (with images)?

2.

Germain

June 14, 2007, 7:58 PM

Her review is much more on target than Schjeldahl's puff piece in the New Yorker. These paintings leave me colder than my hometown (Buffalo, NY)...

3.

that guy

June 14, 2007, 8:09 PM

You are right Germain, haven't they heard of earth tones over there in Germany. I'll bet my severance pay that George will be drooling over these.

4.

opie

June 14, 2007, 8:46 PM

Ms Smith is on a tear these days, after the hatchet job on Stella.

In this case I have to agree with her. During various discussion on Rauch on this blog I found a few bits to admire about his paintings but on the whole he is not much; clunky, fatuous combinatioins of "meaningful" subject matter done in an awkward, sometimes amateurish illustrational style, poorly painted, sour colors, overshaded and over-shadowed.

I think George loves his work; maybe he will come to the defense.

5.

George

June 14, 2007, 11:03 PM

I skipped reading the NY Times article, I'll go see the paintings over the weekend and I'll form my own opinion after that. So I have nothing to say about the paintings in the MET exhibition.

Opie, Neo Rauch doesn't need me to come to his defense. Nor would I say I love his work.

I respect him as a painter for what I see as his ambition for painting within his paintings.

So if I was to construct a list of the ten most important painters working today, he would be my pick. That leaves nine other picks for the rest of you.

PS, What does 'sour color' have to do with anything?

6.

ec

June 14, 2007, 11:20 PM

I saw Neo Rauch, a painter I've not cared for overly much, and I'm sorry to announce I enjoyed the show.
Somewhere the work took a turn from commentary to something genuinely strange. Hanging near the works on view in the low-ceilinged room were two larger pieces in the Modern Wing that apparently are now part of the Met collection. They revealed a transition from disparate images tossed together to mysterious spaces populated by unlikely characters. The sharp shifts from figures to space in the earlier works are condensed in 'tears' on the surface of the paintings, taking different forms: a radical color shift that reverts back to the field, or a strange design that almost lifts off the image to assert itself in another way. The paint is low and smooth, the neutral tones fine. There's a big, carnivalesque painting that's probably the centerpiece (though not the best painting) with a Teutonic looking woman and the back of a blue and white dress, which is just gorgeous. The space in the painting is divided by a strange totem pole-like structure that creates the 'tear.' The dress is unforgettable.
He uses paint more deliberately and knowingly than before, and the paintings seem more integrated as a result. There is a strange, illustrational, print quality to the work that seems internal to its logic.
It was a strong leap forward for Rauch, an artist who interested me less before this show.

7.

opie

June 15, 2007, 12:08 AM

Thanks for the review, EC. I couldn't disagree more, but then in this case you have seen the actual paintings. This is what makes the world go 'round.

Let us know what you think, George. Sour color? Sort of like a sour towel. Something you want to put in the wash.

8.

George

June 15, 2007, 12:16 AM

Naw, sou color, it's just a certain kind of light.

Whatever, any color is nice, I like them all, mixed together or alone

9.

Marc Country

June 15, 2007, 12:21 AM

Sorry all... Yes, Smith, not Vogel.. I must have been reading something else by her... weird.

10.

ec

June 15, 2007, 1:40 PM

Oh, holy crap, I didn't look at the link to "Vogel's" review and after writing about the show, saw this morning's Times! Well, at least you can see two of the paintings I was thinking about when I wrote.
The references to Balthus, okay, yes, but I disagree w/ Roberta S on this. Sheesh, I don't even want to defend Rauch; I've never been a big fan--BUT, his color is way better in this show, because he did get rid of that hideous Veronese green, and the muddy color she talks about is quite fine--sure, some brown sauce, but nice grays and purples too. And, the print illustrative quality gives the work a palpability it doesn't have in the photos--trust me--but how can you, really.
Today: Myron Stout, Burchfield, 57th St.
Opie, I saw WDB's show last week. The optical resonance of the colored circles stays with me. In the gallery space, the afterimages were intense. I could have drowned in the blue pool. The shape of the canvas around it lifted off and carried away. Some of the smaller paintings (Pie/iron, painting behind desk) had both care and speed, which gave a very contemporary feeling. They did not have the optical punch of the color in the larger paintings, but, that didn't seem to be their intention nor did this viewer need it. The slices of color that shifted the space around the form or the form itself and strange color choices in the work were compelling aspects of the painting that let me know someone had been there, fully there. As Elizabeth Murry said in an interview once about Cezanne, that someone was home.

11.

Marc Country

June 15, 2007, 1:53 PM

"The slices of color that shifted the space around the form or the form itself and strange color choices in the work were compelling aspects of the painting that let me know someone had been there, fully there. As Elizabeth Murry said in an interview once about Cezanne, that someone was home."

Nice, ec. Reminds me of this:

"If you want to earn the gratitude of your own age you must keep in step with it. But if you do that you will produce nothing great. If you have something great in view you must address yourself to posterity; only then, to be sure, you will probably remain unknown to your contemporaries; you will be like a man compelled to spend his life on a desert island and there toiling to erect a memorial so that future seafarers shall know he once existed."

- Arthur Schopenhauer

12.

Marc Country

June 15, 2007, 1:55 PM

I know, I've probably quoted that here before. What can I say? Schopesy-baby gives me goosebumps...

13.

opie

June 15, 2007, 1:56 PM

"Care and speed". That's a nice locution. And there seems to be something about the adjustment (I guess) of that blue circle that draws people in.

It's interesting that people have such direct reactions now, because when they were first shown in the 60s many people had a hard time even accepting them as paintings at all.

14.

ec

June 15, 2007, 8:40 PM

Great quote, Marc...tho' great potential for delusional thinking, the quote offers overall inspiration for studio solitude.
Opie, I can believe people in the 1960s wouldn't accept those as paintings: they must have seemed very demanding in their confrontation with pure formal elements. It's funny, since Pop did something similar with image...but image is easier to absorb.People seem to feel more comfortable with the recognition aspects of looking rather than the perceptual and more abstract aspects...as if blue or yellow were somehow less literal than a Brillo box. But, re: the blue and its response, it is just so optical, and turns the painting next to it orange so dazzlingly, that i'ts the most aggressive player. Doesn't mean the best, but the most upfront. Scale for sure, and the ratio and color adjustments just right.
Today, Myron Stout at Washburn, Richard Baker and works from the northwest abstract painters (Tobey, et al) at Tibor and Charles Burchfield and Tooker at DC Moore. Burchfield wasphenomenal. Ten big works, who knew he would add on to previously finished, even exhibited watercolors with extra strips of paper and rework them? These works were very large (for Burchfield) combinations of w/c and charcoal outline; they did not seem finished in his sense, but in contemporary terms they brokered an interesting relationship between the drawing and painting aspects in his work. They were gorgeous. Sometimes there were notes: "big, dark pit" or "green lighter here."
Makes me wonder like late Joan Mitchell works (now on view at Cheim and Reid) make me wonder...what would the artist have made of it?
Anyway: an excellent show, utterly inspiring.
Baker has moved from Washburn to Tibor, those are really strange paintings, very self-conscious. Somewhere between Manny Farber and, well, old Richard Baker. Or the bottom 1/8 of any Odd Nerdrum painting. He actually pursues a plastic surface, something most still life painters would shy away from. He is deep into an exploration of kitsch, the way it looks and feels--they're one drop too painterly for me to give them up as pastiche. But it's hard to know what to make of them--I get what he's doing, and there's two in the show that are wonderful as paintings, but his application just seems too...deliberate, the reasoning too clear, to think it's germinating deeper.
Stout had some beauties, checks that recede in the distance, giving a vertiginous feeling despite their small size. The color is dense and rich, glowing from within. He paints precisely with a tiny brush not unlike Mondrian, but the feeling is very different. He has a beautiful touch. Offsetting more filled compositions were stark images, as if Paul Feeley had been channeled through a computer and wrung out to dry. It'll take a little more time to get to know this painter, he is an idiosyncratic one, but a solid contributor.
Er...running on to be sure, but, very excited about all I've seen.

15.

opie

June 15, 2007, 9:06 PM

I envy you your esthgetic peregrinations, EC. Here in Miami..well, it gets tiresome complaining about it.

The Burchfields sound wonderful and certainly by far the most rewarding of the bunch, especially because they were large, which is unusual, and some apparently unfinished with notes? I would like to see that. These early.mid 20th C American modernists get collected eagerly enough but seem to be shown seldom, in museum shows and such, and young painters know nothing of them.

Stout has always seemed a little cold to me. I don't see that much problem evaluating Baker; he just doesn't paint very well.

16.

1

June 16, 2007, 9:00 AM

although rauch is not really my cup of tea, i was able to take something positive away from the second picture, "the next move" on the link in the review.

first, i do get why opie calls the color sour, it may relate to the similar feeling about how richter's color is always off-setting. or redon. and even dare i say greco and renoir at times. not all exactly the same or equal in intensity, but i think you get the picture.

but in regards to finding something positive in the pictures, i must say that smith was reading my mind about the quote below:

"But the main event is tension between the smoked-salmon pink of the wall, the white of the men’s coats and the inky darkness in the right corner."

those colors do really work great together, and the smoke over the "inky darkness' only enghances this stellar portion of the picture. as for the rest, you can have it. the "sour" colors are evident in other areas in the picture. for example the curtain colors and window.

still, if you cropped this picture to capture this part and made a few other changes you would have a pretty good painting.

i would start with the botton just a hair below the guy in the foregrounds hand on his lap. make the left edge run all the way up to just eliminate the curtain on the left side. then i would eliminate the other curtain and window while running the "salmon" wall all the way up, or just cut-off the top being below the bottom of the curtain on the right side. last adjustment, eliminate the small acidic purple portion in the upper right edge.

bada-bing! instant masterpiece, maybe not, but better than before.

17.

1

June 16, 2007, 9:18 AM

the link i am referring to is via comment #1 by marc country. please note the slide show contains the full larger image of the painting "the next move" which is discussed above.

18.

opie

June 16, 2007, 9:34 AM

"1" looks hard at picures, for sure.

Richter, Greco, Redon, Renoir all have problem with color, but i would particularize more.
Richter's color is simpoly garish in the basic sense - not "on purpose", just no sense of color, no color eye at all. Greco's color, what there is of it, is often heavy handed and unfelicitous. Renoir's color, especially in the late nudes, would be "sweet", as is often said, but cloying enough to make one;s eyeballs curdle sometimes. Not far from "sour", really. Redon was a wonderful colorist but overloaded on color sometimes, overdid it.

I tried your crop, and, as with most badly put-together, overcomplicated paintings it improved it, but it is such a very badly painted painting it seems like a wasted effort. I almost want to see those clunky dark passages overwhelm the whole sorry thing so we wouldn't have to look at it in the first place.

EC was quite eloquent about liking the pictures, however, and I have seen bits and pieces of Rauch paintings which worked. He is an interesting "type specimen".

19.

Marc Country

June 16, 2007, 1:03 PM

i would start with the botton just a hair below the guy in the foregrounds hand on his lap. make the left edge run all the way up to just eliminate the curtain on the left side. then i would eliminate the other curtain and window while running the "salmon" wall all the way up, or just cut-off the top being below the bottom of the curtain on the right side. last adjustment, eliminate the small acidic purple portion in the upper right edge.

bada-bing! instant masterpiece, maybe not, but better than before.


Like This?

20.

1

June 16, 2007, 1:30 PM

that's close enough. you could play with just that and refine it to taste. although i did like the way the smoke went up higher on the dark background as well.

21.

opie

June 16, 2007, 1:50 PM

Well, I would "refine it to taste" by jacking it up and putting Cezannes "Card Players" in its place.

22.

George

June 16, 2007, 1:53 PM

Re: #16 and #19 (alteration attempts)

Sorry Charlie, that's no solution, it just closes up the space in the painting, a la Salle. This is the old solution.

Sometimes his color is like Hopper.

It is interesting how once a delineated combination of abstract colored shapes assume a recoganizable form, they cease to be abstract and become fatuous combinatioins of "meaningful" subject matter

What if images are just forms and have no meaning for the artist?

23.

opie

June 16, 2007, 2:12 PM

Well, golly, George. If that's the old solution, then what is the new solution? I think any cropping of a painting that bad is helpful, frankly. The more the better.

24.

Marc Country

June 16, 2007, 2:16 PM

Maybe yours IS the new solution, Opie. 1 and I were cropping from the outside, in. I think what you're saying, is you want to crop from the INSIDE of the picture, out towards the frame... sounds revolutionary.

25.

George

June 16, 2007, 2:21 PM

True,

So let's crop something down to nothing...
Just one color...
Just make a minimal painting,

It's the approach that ruined painting at the end of the twentieth century.

Boring as can be, ultimately forgettable.

26.

Franklin

June 16, 2007, 2:42 PM

The important metric for solutions isn't old or new, but effective or ineffective. I'll go through that more slowly if anyone needs help with that mind-blowing concept.

27.

1

June 16, 2007, 2:50 PM

george, so you prefer the picture as is?

i thought i was eliminating a good bit of the awkward ill-colored foolishness, while saving some of the redeeming qualities. the color play of those 3 elements (and smoke) noted in the writers quote.

as with most of his pictures, "the next move", taken in it's entirety, to me, is unbearable to the point were i feel myself cringe and feel the glands below my tongue produce feelings of disgust.

28.

opie

June 16, 2007, 3:06 PM

careful, 1 - art can be dangerous.

That is a tough one, Franklin. You got 4 different concepts in there. Whew! Let me think about it.

29.

opie

June 16, 2007, 3:09 PM

Better yet, George, how about just a space on a wall with a note saying:

"No Rauch painting"

Now, that's conceptual art I could really like.

30.

George

June 16, 2007, 3:28 PM

Re#27 - 1

george, so you prefer the picture as is?

Yes.

One of the more significant aspects of Neo Rauch's paintings is how he develops the painting space.

In contemporary painting which utilizes multiple images one of the pictorial problems is how one organizes the space.

One can just draw on the surface, the best at that was Basquiat.

Or one can use a modified collage or layered approach like Polke, early Rosenquist or Salle.

I’ve always felt that the collaged approach, especially as practiced by David Salle tends to end up looking more like a scrapbook of magazine clippings than a painting.

The source of this problem may lie deep in the ‘flatness’ issue of the early sixties. In the case of Basquiat, his approach works because his paintings live on the surface, rather than feel applies to the surface. I think this may have something to do with the time he spent painting on the brick walls of Crosby Street.

Whatever, when a painting is flat, it’s flat in fact and there is no reason to beat up the viewer with the fact.

This implies that I think illusionary space must be important, and I do. I think illusion is at the core of painting, literalness reminds you of what’s there and illusion reminds you that it’s all in your mind.

Getting back to Neo Rauch. What he is doing is creating a controlled space, not a still life as suggested elsewhere, but more of a stage set. He can populate this space with his characters and other visual elements or objects. ‘Space’ can be referential space, or referential space on a backdrop. One kind of space can blend or morph into another.

None of this would be particularly surprising if Neo Rauch was making an abstract painting but recognizable images tend to strongly declare a space for their existence, you can cut them out and paste them down like Salle, or give them a stage set to live in.

So the remarks about knocking out part of the background would turn it into a flat plane parallel to the picture plane. The painting space would collapse into the shallow, cut and paste cubist-like space of the last century.

31.

Jack

June 16, 2007, 3:33 PM

Hi, Marc.

I played the video. I deliberately turned off the audio except for the actual singing, and did not actually watch, only listened. Potts has a good lyric voice; there's sweetness in it and some heart behind it. This particular role and aria, however, are ideally meant for a bigger, fuller sound (a so-called dramatic or heroic tenor, as opposed to a lyric one). Even though audience noise got in the way and made it hard to judge precisely, he couldn't go all out at the climax because there's not quite enough power or "juice" there. In addition, there was a slightly halting quality to his overall delivery, as opposed to a smooth and uninterrupted flow of sound (technically known as legato). It was a perfectly respectable performance, certainly for an amateur, and I enjoyed it, but no, I was not overwhelmed.

I might add that I am rather less "crazy" about Puccini than is generally the case among opera lovers. I certainly find him inferior to Verdi. Unless there are really first-rate singers involved, Puccini is a bit too sentimental and sugary for my taste, a bit too close to being vulgar. No doubt that's part of the reason he's so popular, though his work is undeniably highly effective, and, in the best hands, just about irresistible.

Jack, you see, is afflicted with having very definite and rather high standards for things he loves and knows something about, with being very clear as to what he does and does not like, and with an analytical and critical turn of mind. Hence, Jack is anything but a pushover. He stopped going to live opera in Miami some years back because of things like a Turandot where neither tenor nor soprano could deliver the goods at climactic moments, and Jack figures that, if there's going to be sex, there had damn better be a climax. He's funny that way. Then there was a Lucia where the soprano sang the Mad Scene, not like a crazed woman on a tear, but like she was scared she wouldn't be able to get through it (she did, after a fashion, but it wasn't worth the bother). Jack hates mad scenes where the main feeling conveyed is of an insecure or incapable singer walking on eggshells. Jack is very difficult.

Or, to put it another way, the better you know, the more you want, and the greater the odds that you won't get it and, therefore, won't be satisfied.

32.

opie

June 16, 2007, 4:09 PM

Jack, you forgot to add that the pleasure from the good stuff makes up for all that. At least it does for me. Let's not discourage the kids!

Of course I told mine "don't be an artist, whatever you do".

George you predict that "The painting space would collapse into the shallow, cut and paste cubist-like space of the last century:"

Hah! It shoud be so lucky. All it would actually do is collape into the poorly rendered illusionistic pace of THIS century. Just less of it.

33.

Jack

June 16, 2007, 4:21 PM

Yes, OP, the good stuff makes up for that, but obviously there's never nearly as much of it as one would like. Sometimes, it feels pointless to keep looking, because the yield is so low. But yes, when you hit paydirt, it's worth the wait. Still, one does get rather tired of so much chaff.

34.

Marc Country

June 16, 2007, 5:38 PM

Chaff chafes.

35.

George

June 16, 2007, 6:28 PM

George you predict that "The painting space would collapse into the shallow, cut and paste cubist-like space of the last century:"

It's more than a prediction. Look at the example MC linked, or imagine spreading out the orange into the upper window frame area and taking out the curtains. It has the same result which turns the background into a slab of color parallel to the picture plane causing the painting space to collapse into a shallow cubist space.

Whatever, the composition in this painting is interesting to say the least. 'Cropping' is for amateurs.

36.

Marc Country

June 16, 2007, 9:16 PM

"'Cropping' is for amateurs."

Please explain...

37.

catfish

June 16, 2007, 9:39 PM

Cropping is a tool for painters who will do anything to make a better picture.

38.

Marc Country

June 16, 2007, 10:59 PM

... and, I know cropping is essential for sculptors who feel likewise.
I guess the pros must just cover everything in diamonds, and call it a day. "Cropping.. Bah!"

39.

George

June 16, 2007, 11:36 PM

A general response to ‘if you don’t like it cut it off’ attitude and my earlier remarks in #25 about cropping.

In my opinion the critical response to Neo Rauch is off the mark. Because there are recognizable images in his paintings there is a tendency to try and tie them up in some form of narrative. Whatever the motivation behind his specific choice of imagery, I think he’s using the image abstractly in the same way an abstract painter might use a patch of color. This approach is evident in his earlier work. The later paintings are more complex and confident in their approach.

I’m not surprised that some are put off by his paintings, for some his ambition may be scary, too much to accept.

What I find humorous is that most of the things people focus on in Neo Rauch’s paintings are the things that make them personally Neo Rauch. He likes the kind of color he uses, the way he paints the figures and the way he builds a pictorial space for them, these things are about Neo Rauch.

So you can say you don’t like this kind of color, that’s fine. What’s much more interesting to me is that he is approaching painting like a visual language and consciously working with its visual elements. It’s rather formalist in my opinion.

40.

Franklin

June 16, 2007, 11:43 PM

I’m not surprised that some are put off by his paintings, for some his ambition may be scary, too much to accept.

Mistaking visual failure for sophistication is for amateurs.

41.

George

June 16, 2007, 11:45 PM

You don't know what you're talking about.

42.

Franklin

June 16, 2007, 11:58 PM

It doesn't seem to stop you. "Cropping is for amateurs"? "The shallow, cut and paste cubist-like space of the last century"? "This is the old solution"? You're firing 'em out today.

43.

George

June 17, 2007, 12:04 AM

I can't help it if you don't get it.

44.

Franklin

June 17, 2007, 12:07 AM

That's very true. But I remain unconvinced that you get it.

45.

George

June 17, 2007, 12:12 AM

Cropping? If you look at the best painters over the last century, it wasn’t a technique used by too many.

I discussed painting space in comment #30, what didn’t you get?

46.

Franklin

June 17, 2007, 12:19 AM

I got #30 fine, I just doubt whether it's true.. Why couldn't you answer Opie's question in #23?

47.

Marc Country

June 17, 2007, 12:28 AM

Hmm. Really, I hadn't bothered to give the narrative in these paintings any thought at all...

Perhaps I was distracted by the terror I feel regarding Mr. Rauch's ambition...

48.

Franklin

June 17, 2007, 12:30 AM

Cropping? If you look at the best painters over the last century, it wasn’t a technique used by too many.

Degas, Morris Louis, and Poons come immediately to mind...

49.

George

June 17, 2007, 12:51 AM

Re: #46

I don’t understand why this is so difficult to understand.

What Neo Rauch is doing is opening up the pictorial space in a slightly different way. The suggestions related to recomposing (the orange area) his painting ‘Next Move’ weren’t a solution. They just would re-situate the painting in a shallow cubist space or a normal figurative space, depending on how you did it. Both alternatives are what I would normally expect to see in a contemporary painting.

Neo Rauch has found for himself a pictorial space which is more like a stage set than a room of a shallow cubist box. What is different about the ‘stage set’ is that it is not unexpected to see ‘backdrops’ or other visual elements which can exist in their own separate space without destroying the overall visual logic.

Further, I previously mentioned that I think he is approaching painting as a visual language where the separate characteristics of each painting element possesses a visual identity beyond just its pictorial image. The way any element is painted , it’s color and the style of execution become part of its characteristics and these characteristics do not have to all be congruent across all elements in the painting.

So I felt that the suggestions people were making about cropping or otherwise changing his painting would result in a mundane pictorial solution. Further, I linked a marked up image of the particular painting which indicates the painting is constructed fairly carefully and that the suggested changes would just make a different painting with a different set of problems to solve.

I think all this matters, most painters are using the same old pictorial solutions to constructing a painting space. It’s refreshing to see an alternative

50.

opie

June 17, 2007, 7:03 AM

George, justifying the Rauch paintings by saying they are "about Neo Rauch" or that he is constructing them carefully or that he is doing them like a "stage set" (now there's an innoivation!) or because they seem somehow to go beyond concepts of illusionistic space which are, for some reason, illigitimate for painting these days. You seemed to almost suggest something interesting when you mentioned the deliberate lack of "congruence" of the objects in his space, but it was not clearlty stated.

In any event, none of the elements you have brought up, insofar as i can understand them, at least, seem to me to be particularly new. And, furthermore, no amount of compositional innovation can possible compensate for the cack-handed paint application.

51.

Franklin

June 17, 2007, 7:53 AM

I think all this matters, most painters are using the same old pictorial solutions to constructing a painting space. It’s refreshing to see an alternative

Neo Rauch, Kryptia
Ben Shahn, The Red Stairway

52.

opie

June 17, 2007, 9:19 AM

Good example. Dozens more could be dug outof the latter-day surrealism of the 30s and 40s. Rausch and others of his ilk have often struck me as deriving from or reprising these earlier models, which, interestingly enough, had the same kind of half-blind audience back then as now.

And both of them bad painters. Look at the sky and the wall in the Shahn, or the wall areas in the upper & lower right areas of the Rauch. Flat surfaces are the curse of the second-rate painter. If you can't see how badly these are painted you need to find another hobby.

53.

George

June 17, 2007, 10:03 AM

Re #50:

The first sentence is poorly formed, I’m not quite sure exactly what you were attempting to say.

I was not trying to justify Neo Rauch’s paintings, I don’t think they he needs me to do that. I am certain that if one doesn’t like Neo Rauch’s paintings, there is nothing I can say that will change this opinion.

What I object to is the way people can so quickly dismiss another artists work either because they don’t understand it, or it is not like what they do, or because it is obviously more ambitious than what they do. I am NOT speaking directly to anyone here, but I am making a general observation about how other artists tend to dismiss another artists work because it seems to violate or question one of the sacred canons they have built their own practice upon.

Regarding Rauch, I was making a more general point, which is applicable to any painter. It seems obvious to me that some of the characteristics of a painting will be inextricably intertwined with the artists personality and history. One can have an opinion about these characteristics, one might not care for the ‘sour color’ but this does not inherently say the color is ‘bad’, just not to ones taste.

If I am looking analytically at the structure of a painting, then I am willing to overlook some characteristics which I implied were ‘personal’ in order to focus on another aspect which may have a broader application.

Specifically:

1. Any image, representational or abstract, has as a quality or characteristic, a particular pictorial space which it occupies. How we perceive this space, if we perceive it at all, seems to be a basic brain function.

2. There may be more than one way an image can occupy a pictorial space.

3. Two objects (images) in a painting create a third pictorial space where the viewer tries to consolidate the two objects into a conceptual and perceptual unity.

4. In representational painting, a classical solution is to create a container space, a room or landscape that logically holds the objects. This space may be perceptually organized (western perspective) or conceptually organized based on a cultural convention (eastern art, middle ages etc)

5. In recent painting, most solutions for combining two or more images (with their own independent pictorial spaces) have resorted to the use of the ‘collage’ solution.

6. The collage solution is essentially an cubist solution. It implies a shallow flat pictorial space which contains the images dispersed across the surface.

7. Images in a collage solution are by default flattened into ‘reproductions’ or ‘clippings’ and the viewer reads the painting space like a newspaper.

8. Most contemporary painting either utilizes a strict representational space, or a variant of the collage space.

In many of Neo Rauch’s paintings, he is utilizing a pictorial space which I suggested is like a stage set. This has some particular advantages. For one, we have a real world knowledge of this type of space. We are willing to suspend a certain amount of disbelief and accept it as a fiction. This allows Neo Rauch to mix discrete pictorial elements in the same space, where the individual elements can still carry their original pictorial space because it is incorporated into a sub element of what I describe as the stage set space. In other words, a mountain vista which makes no sense in an interior pictorial space, makes sense when it is also viewed as a backdrop.

Is this new? Was I even claiming it was new? (no) Franklin links a Ben Shan and Neo Rauch’s ‘Kryptia’ as if I am supposed to make some enlightened connection between two red grills. The fact is, there is a historical precedent for this type of space in British surrealist art from the 1930’s and 40’s. However, as far as I know, no other artist has utilized the ‘stage set’ space as a way of organizing multiple images in the way Neo Rauch does.

What I think is ‘new’ about Neo Rauch’s paintings is that he is approaching painting as a language. It is no more a pastiche than this sentence is a pastiche of words.

54.

Franklin

June 17, 2007, 10:09 AM

However, as far as I know, no other artist has utilized the ‘stage set’ space as a way of organizing multiple images in the way Neo Rauch does.

Fra Lippi, Madonna and Child with Stories of the Life of St. Anne

55.

Franklin

June 17, 2007, 10:16 AM

Masaccio, The Tribute Money

It's Krypta, not Kryptia. My apologies.

56.

George

June 17, 2007, 10:17 AM

This is becoming so petty, it’s pathetic.

Franklin, show me a recent example.

What are you arguing? That I'm wrong in my observation about how Neo Rauch is solving a pictorial problem? That it’s not new? Ok, so what? It is a relatively new solution to a current pictorial problem that no one else seems to have exploited.

57.

George

June 17, 2007, 10:24 AM

BTW, I've seen "Krypta" in person, opie's comments don't hold water.

Everyone's a jpeg critic.

58.

Franklin

June 17, 2007, 10:31 AM

That it’s not new? Ok, so what? It is a relatively new solution to a current pictorial problem that no one else seems to have exploited.

So you're saying that it's not new, but it doesn't matter, but it's relatively new, and no one else is doing it. And that it's petty to point out this makes no sense whatsoever.

If you make irresponsible statements salted with neophiliac platitudes, I'm going to punch holes in them.

59.

George

June 17, 2007, 10:42 AM

The're gonna love you in Laguna beach.

60.

Marc Country

June 17, 2007, 10:50 AM

... only, in Laguna Beach, your clear thinking and patience will likely be rewarded by the respect of your colleagues, admiration of your students, and a paycheck.

61.

ec

June 17, 2007, 10:51 AM

Charlotte Schultz (http://www.charlotteschultz.com) makes work that has multiple spaces.
As a fan of Bouleau's Painter's Secret Geometry I find George's diagram quite interesting. The cropping point, which indeed is a tool, in this thread simplifies the composition, which is fine, but I enjoy and understand the desire to construct complex compositions, failure or not. The thrill is in the effort and as I've said before, this show shows significant growth in Rauch's integration and technique.
The stage set space point holds true, which explains the tears in its surface. Plus, as I've said before, the paint handling and compositions are a lot smoother in the new work.
I don't consider flat surfaces to be bad painting. The Ben Shahn painting is wonderful. His ham-handedness is part of the work.

62.

Marc Country

June 17, 2007, 10:52 AM

Ok, so clearly, Lippi wipes the floor with Rauch... 'nuff said.

Speaking of Lippi, have you considered maybe changing your name to Fra Nklin?

63.

ec

June 17, 2007, 10:57 AM

People, my bad:
http://www.charlotteschulz.com
Charlotte Schulz

64.

George

June 17, 2007, 11:20 AM

Re #61: EC,

I made the divisions in the diagram very simply, not assuming too much of what Neo Rauch might have done. Visually dividing the canvas into 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4 is probably fairly commonplace. It’s what I did along with extending lines out the vanishing point. It’s interesting how things line up

Awhile back, I did a more esoteric analysis on Fra Angelico’s painting "Paradise"

I don’t know much about Neo Rauch personally, but I would suspect he has more than a basic knowledge of art history and classical techniques.

65.

ec

June 17, 2007, 11:43 AM

George,
Thank you for the link. I don't work that way so the diagrams seems very esoteric and thrill me no end.
Without a doubt, Rauch has more than rudimentary knowledge.
I'm chewing on a point in the discussion about Rauch using images as abstract elements, so that images are meaningless, even arbitrary elements in almagams that can can be compared to abstract compositions. Seen this way, there's an extra load in how Rauch's images operate historically and conceptually . On that level, I get it, and see how that could be a motivation for Rauch as a painter--oh, to be unburdened by meaning! filling a flatbed space with any old thing one feels like painting, and shifting it illusionistically through space. Teasing the idea further, the way the forms and space are painted, referred in this thread at times as Surrealist, have no meaning either--so paint becomes inert, activated by what the viewer brings. Which is causing problems for some on this thread and not for others, but leaves Rauch standing separate and above. True? Who knows.
BUT...experiencing the paintings, looking at them--is it genuinely possible to see an image as abstract? Harking back to Salle's leveling of images on one surface suggested potential--in the way something can be 'new'--for 'reading' images, which is IMHO postmodernism's anti visual legacy. How I remember Salle's guttural swipes of paint, which meant something to me as an art student... But, in terms of visual immersion with felt and embodied forms, Salle's invitation did not extend, nor was it intended to.
As we've agreed, Rauch's language is more historical, and he is a more skillful painter than Salle, so, is he using that to compound his agenda or is he a painter who wants to take you somewhere?
I believed the paint and want to believe the paint. I can accept the circulation of images within an internal logic, which is what I saw. Many of the posted images suggest successful integrations of disparate spaces. Massaccio, Fra Filippo Lippi, were engaged with perceptual systems. It's possible Rauch wants to confound the desire for disparate space with unlikely images and associations, grounding a Surrealist impulse within a solid visual foundation. Roberta Smith says simplify. Marc Country and "L" say same. Integrating multiple spaces within western painting seems to be a difficult proposition, almost too conceptal a notion for the visual foundation of painting.

66.

George

June 17, 2007, 11:51 AM

so that images are meaningless

Not sure if I said that but if I did, it's incorrect.

I am sure that he has some reason for the images he chooses, maybe even a narrative or dialog in his head while he's working. I think it is hard to work with images in a totally meaningless fashion, it seems to me that we make associations as we are working and even if these associations are not what the painting is 'about', these decisions help it along

67.

Franklin

June 17, 2007, 11:57 AM

Not sure if I said that

#22

68.

Jack

June 17, 2007, 1:04 PM

Not that it matters, but as some of the more regular "regulars" may have perhaps noticed, I've refrained from the Rauch discussion. There are good reasons for that. Several. Might be worth considering.

69.

opie

June 17, 2007, 3:15 PM

Marc, #60 & #62 ("Fre Nklin") - very good.

George you are ascribing motives now, and I refuse to respond to that. And the more your statements get shot down the more obfuscation you lay generate, like a threatened octopus. The old "you can't tell from a JPG" and the ancient "painting is a language" (aargh!), and the REALLY ancient "it's just taste" doozie, and "British" surrealist painting (Huh?) and strings of diversionary eureka moments like "In representational painting, a classical solution is to create a container space, a room or landscape that logically holds the objects." Good grief!

Can you just, for once, condense all this froth into one short statement? Any short, specific statement. Give us something we can discuss, not smoke screens.

And EC:

"I don't consider flat surfaces to be bad painting." Me neither, except when they are.

"The Ben Shahn painting is wonderful. His ham-handedness is part of the work." Yes, I do agree that his ham-handedness is part of his work. Is there a point hidden in there? And if you think that is good painting, I can only say, with all due respect: find another interest.

And Jack: do it anyway.

70.

ec

June 17, 2007, 4:24 PM

Opie, no point hidden in my comment. Shahn's painting isn't good painting in the way Titian's is. But then I'm not seeing Shahn in relation to Titian. So I can love his endearing clumsines without getting snagged in an is it good dilemma. To measure it against the greats is apples and oranges, but the painting can still be wonderful for idiosyncratic and inept decisions like palette knife clouds. Must be the same impulse that draws me to kitsch. I love its obviousness.
Find another interest, dear me never.

71.

opie

June 17, 2007, 5:10 PM

EC There is plenty of stuff I love and enjoy that isn't good art, there is even art I like that isn't good art. But I don't confuse it with good art. It isn't; it is just something I enjoy.

All good art is good in the same way. Everything else is something else.

72.

George

June 17, 2007, 7:08 PM

Just returned from the Met. How exciting, the sand filled dump trucks were out and we had to leave through the rear exit. Went to Central Park, had a beer and watched some live music. Had a fun afternoon.

Opie, regarding Noe Rauch, you don'ty have a clue what he's doing. This guy is playing in the big leagues and you're not. Sorry, but I don't see the poing of arguing with you over this, since you're so sure you're right, and I know you're not. Have a nice day.

73.

opie

June 17, 2007, 7:52 PM

That was uncalled for, George. Sore loser talk.

74.

Franklin

June 17, 2007, 8:03 PM

Yeah, Opie, Rauch is playing in the big leagues, doing something George can't explain, yet is the Next Big Thing that is old yet new yet the same yet different. And there's no cluing you in because you're so sure your right, not because his ruminations about Rausch consist mostly of sugar and foam, and his undershorts turn into advanced topology problems when this is pointed out to him, you minor leaguer, you.

75.

Jack

June 17, 2007, 8:03 PM

OP, I doubt I'll ever convince you, but you're wasting your time, though I suppose it's OK as long as you know that and you get some enjoyment out of it. It's not worth it to me, but I guess you're made of sterner stuff.

76.

Franklin

June 17, 2007, 8:13 PM

I mean, there was no convincing you even though he marked up a work with receding perspectival lines and harmonic proportions and angles and things, not like that amateur cropping stuff.

77.

Marc Country

June 17, 2007, 10:35 PM

LOL... Here's some lines, perhaps not entirely inappropriate, from the good Sir Clem:

"Some other decisions going into the creation of formal art may be arrived at by what looks like reasoning and not intuition. But usually what seems a reasoned decision starts from an intuitive judgment and aims at one. The artist has seen, read, or heard something from which he infers–and hopes–that by imitating or adapting that something (whether a device, a convention, a scheme, or a nuance) he will make it produce an equally positive judgment in his own work. The same happens more or less when the artist's seemingly reasoned decision is based on faith in a theory or a formula (like the Golden Section). The faith usually starts off from a positive esthetic intuition here too, and from what the artist thinks, rightly or wrongly, is responsible for it. He sees the Golden Section at work in those paintings of Raphael that he admires and he adopts the Golden Section for himself. Or he deems that a fixed system underlies certain works of music that move him very much. The rarer case is that of the artist who stakes himself on a theory or system that doesn't ostensibly derive from his esthetic experience, but which he believes is grounded in some extra-esthetic factor like God or ultimate reality or the harmony of the spheres. Yet even here positive esthetic judgments lie usually somewhere under the artist's faith, whether he's aware of that or not (and crank though he may be)."



One thing, Franklin: you keep changing the spelling... is it Roach, or Raunch?

78.

opie

June 18, 2007, 8:47 AM

Marc, I don't know that particular passage. Where is it from?

79.

George

June 18, 2007, 10:23 AM

Re #65 EC,

I meant to answer you yesterday but went off to the Met before I had time. I appreciate the fact you took the time to think about Ruach’s paintings and to engage in a dialoge rather than a ‘not invented in my house’ dismissal. Sorry for the length of this, I sliced my comments with yours.

I'm chewing on a point in the discussion about Rauch using images as abstract elements, so that images are meaningless, even arbitrary elements in amalgams that can be compared to abstract compositions.

I did bring this point up as a general idea, but it doesn’t appear to apply to Neo Rauch.

Seen this way, there's an extra load in how Rauch's images operate historically and conceptually . On that level, I get it, and see how that could be a motivation for Rauch as a painter--oh, to be unburdened by meaning! filling a flatbed space with any old thing one feels like painting, and shifting it illusionistically through space.

In my experience, if one includes an image, or sequence of images, in a painting the viewer will attempt to construct a meaning from what is there. This occurs even if the images were chosen at random. It also implies that the viewer may construct or infer a meaning not originally intended by the artist.

Since the painter is the first viewer, the above also applies to what can occur while making a painting. Even if one is just working with random images, I think at some point one begins to develop an internal dialog which gives the images additional associated meanings AND begins to direct how other images or pictorial decisions are made, utilized or revised.

It appears to me that Neo Rauch has developed a working method which allows a considerable degree of free association, working with a known set of developed images in a dramatically constructed pictorial space.

Teasing the idea further, the way the forms and space are painted, referred in this thread at times as Surrealist, have no meaning either--so paint becomes inert, activated by what the viewer brings. Which is causing problems for some on this thread and not for others, but leaves Rauch standing separate and above. True? Who knows.

I don’t think Neo Rauch is Surrealist. Regardless of the sources of his imagery, his paintings are situational pictorial situations.

By this I mean he constructs a populated pictorial space without a specific narrative. If you imagine yourself in say, Times Square and look around. There will be a crowd of people, all doing something, some of their activities you might grasp, others will appear arbitrary, yet all the activity will in fact be willful but masked to us as viewers. If you looked closely, you could unravel more of what is occurring than you think.

I think Neo Rauch is creating pictorial dramas. The characters and how the paintings are painted all give the viewer some information about what is there, yet to a large degree the narrative must be completed by the viewer.

You saw the paintings, so did I and I wouldn’t say the paint is inert, these paintings felt like they were hard fought to a resolution.

BUT...experiencing the paintings, looking at them--is it genuinely possible to see an image as abstract?

I can, but I’ve talked with other painters who will argue the point with me. For me, ‘abstract’ is a blob, an more entropic form in space. An image has a higher degree of ordering (is less entropic), more information exists inside the containing blob. One can manipulate the blobs abstractly.

Harking back to Salle's leveling of images on one surface suggested potential--in the way something can be 'new'--for 'reading' images, which is IMHO postmodernism's anti visual legacy.

Rosenquist was a more important precursor to this idea. Even so, I don’t think either Rosenquist or Salle were able to take the idea past it’s initial state. I still find the early Rosenquist paintings the most interesting. Salle started off with a bit of pizzazz but that was it. His approach seems stuck in its minimalist-POP-flatbed legacy.

As we've agreed, Rauch's language is more historical, and he is a more skillful painter than Salle, so, is he using that to compound his agenda or is he a painter who wants to take you somewhere?
I believed the paint and want to believe the paint. I can accept the circulation of images within an internal logic, which is what I saw.


I’m not sure what your question is here. It appears that as his work developed, Rauch utilized whatever pictorial conventions he found to further his ability to visualize and manifest his paintings. This approach is inclusive rather than exclusive (reductive), and a positive development for painting in general.

It seems logical to think that a painter who has something to say will seek out a visual solution which facilitates his expression. In Rauch’s case, his interest in using dreamlike imagery creates a situation where he needs to resolve spatially disconnected pictorial elements within the same picture. He found a method within the historical language of painting that he could adapt to solve his problem.

However, the question of resolving disparate spaces is specific to Rauch’s program and not a requirement for paintings evolution. Certainly all the solutions to the development of pictorial space are in play at any given moment.

The rise of the internet has become an important background condition during the past ten years. For the first time, a painter has immediate access a global database of paintings for reference. This expanded access to information is affecting how painters think about and approach their practice. The history of painting, in all cultures and eras, is its language. Painters for the new century have access to this language are will use it. Neo Rauch is one of them.

81.

opie

June 18, 2007, 1:09 PM

Thanks Marc.

82.

ec

June 18, 2007, 4:46 PM

Amongst my peers, colleaguesand friends, disparate spaces or exploded pictorial space is of interest and concern. Maybe this is due to a desire to integrate or reflect diverse images and information from daily reality, in a way that is fueled by but not equivalent to moving pictures and other more immersive situations than painting (I'm thinking of that amazing Brazil painting in the Met, by Heade I think, a staged panorama that traveled in its day). In my experience, disparate or exploded space is difficult to pull off due to painting's intrinsic demands for visual integration and convincibility. I don't see disparate spaces as a requirement for painting's evolution, but a reverberation in the air that Rauch's work provides one example of.

Franklin's work may well provide another example, I'd like to hear his take on this, if it is an intention of his or not. Other people off the top of my head, Magnus Von Plessen, Franklin Evans, Sandy Litchfield, Claire Corey, Jackie Saccoccio are just a few artists working with disparate or exploded space. When I think about what that means, the definition could expand to include any number of works, so the artists I mention outside of Franiklin approach space from a vantage of dissonance, travel or explosion.

For those unconvinced by Rauch's works, the paintings appear Surrealist becasue they do not offer a convincing pictorial reality but introduce disparate narrative and spatial elements, creating anarchy in the structure of the painting. The figures are quotational and maintain a distance that won't fully immerse a viewer into an engagement they may find in Corot, or Frank Auerbach. These are more integrated works than Rauch has ever done and for me the paint and the strange dissonance of the ilustrated figures worked. It seemed like what you said, George, that he was having an extended internal narrative with his chosen imagey.

Rosenquist introduced dissonance in an overt way, and of course there's Duchamp's Tu M'. Ronsequist's paint and color was consistent and gave the work a coherent foundation. He played creamy colors against gray. Back in Salle's day, painting was just another syntax , as purposeful as a chair, or a word, or anything else--he did not value paint's visual properties. He wanted to make statements. But seeing the first paintings as a student I was really shocked by the rude and ugly paint treatment and the shock felt liberating--like Emile Nolde felt at first. They're not at the same level and I wouldn't make the case, but for me personally, as a painter, the paint offered something, an option, something I hadn't seen and was curious about. Now Salle doesn't matter and his project is exposed as a post-Duchampian query. So my comment wondered if Rauch was taking the post-Duchampian approach or a more heartfelt, associative approach.

The internet offers images, but not form, color, surface or facture. That has proved a difficult situation for this discussion, and if I hadn't seen the show I would not have seen a shift in the work. However, for someone fully invested in paint's visual properties, Rauch has got to look glib and self-conscious. Because of his overt use of images rather than forms, the paintings can appear, especally in jpegs, flat in all senses of the word. Roberta didn't believe his immersion. I did, while understanding it wasn't the immersion of a singular reality or world.

83.

opie

June 18, 2007, 6:44 PM

Geez, guys. There are lots of artists using illusionistic space in lots of ways. A method or technique or use of space is not good or bad in itself, is unlikely to be new and will not compensate for other inadequacies..

The problem with Rauch is that he is a lousy painter, he can't put paint on right. I have seen Rauch paintings. With the exception of a passage here and there they suck. That's it in a nutshell. The rest is just inventory.

Subscribe

@franklin_e

franklin.e

Offers

Other Projects

Legal

Design and content ©2003-2017 Franklin Einspruch except where otherwise noted