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Post #1013 • June 1, 2007, 9:59 AM • 58 Comments

I should start paying attention: arts sections at LA Times, OC Register, San Diego Union-Trib (excuse me, is this not the main paper in SD, or does this just completely suck?), OC Weekly (Cheesecake! My favorite! Or maybe it's just coincidental that Burlesque of Bond is on stage so close to the Erotica LA convention next month. Or maybe this kind of thing goes on all the time. Yay!), LA Weekly. More suggestions welcome.

On a related note, gets a warm welcome from the OC Art Blog.

News to me: Suicide Girls has an art feature? Written by Caryn Coleman?

PhotoSynth at TED. The implications for future art history lectures are profound. Featured on a roundup before; I'm just not over the coolness. (Catharin)

Drawn! links to drawing tutorials by Matthew Archambault, an instructor at SVA.

Brett Sokol profiles Dennis Scholl. John Sanchez, Dorsch Gallery worthy, gets a nod.

The frescoes of China's Dunhuang caves on the ancient Silk Road have survived 1,600 years of sandstorms, wars and Mao Zedong's red guards. Now, caretakers are turning to computers to save them from half a million tourists a year. (AJ)

From a note to Maud Newton congratulating her on her NPR appearance: I was feeling a little envious of the literary world the other day. I think society is moving towards forms of culture that can be shared - books, movies, and music - and that visual art's slice of the pie is going to shrink simply because it requires old-fashioned physical proximity. The whole focus on acquisition is pumping insane sums of cash into scene, and the effect is analogous to the effect of vast wealth on religion - charlatanism, gaudiness, and living the unexamined life. Sigh. I realize that the literary world has its own scandals and frivolities. I just wish we could arrange a six-month exchange program for them. We'll trade you the conspicuous consumption for the pedantic backbiting.

I learned to write using Elite 12-pitch typewriter type - on Olivetti manuals, IBM twirly-ball Selectrics, and Juki daisywheels. Now I mostly use Courier New, and my writing's gone all to hell. I miss the naked polliwog of the Elite g. The main thing, though, is to use some nonproportional typewriter-style font - you need the sentences to look their worst until the dress rehearsal of the galleys, when all the serifs come out dancing. Writers pick their favorite fonts. (AJ)

Iran protests the screening of the film adaptation of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis at Cannes. David Thompson has a clip, and a link to Satrapi's MySpace page. (Every MySpace page I've ever seen has made me want to hurl. That Satrapi's is no exception says something damning about the format.)

Painted women. (Reddit)

Department of Skills: Eric Dolphy.




June 1, 2007, 10:15 AM

Lots of interesting museum stuff in the LA Times.

[Indeed. - F.]



June 1, 2007, 5:58 PM

I'm glad you caught Maud Newton. I just purchased a backup drive for my collection.



June 1, 2007, 7:31 PM

WDB Archive Update: Sixteen new articles in the archive this week. All good, but I have to recommend this one in particular. "Later on we got Pop Art, which grafted camp illustration onto predigested 10th Street Abstract Expressionism just in time to catch the rising tidal wave of big-time popularity which has since inundated the art world. And now, speaking of waves, we have "new wave," which is turning out "content" faster than an alligator can lay eggs."



June 1, 2007, 9:23 PM

[He was honest about it, at least. - F.]



June 1, 2007, 9:31 PM

Re #3

Italicized quotes from WDB #64

Content is the moral imperative of the art of our time. If you don't have it, you better hang up your brushes and slink off into oblivion.


Unfortunately, no one seems to be able to say just what "content" is.

Yup, related to the mystery of defining what ‘good" means.

So, to start, I’ll wade into this morass by agreeing that ‘content’ is not intrinsically linked with ‘quality’.

Content is something we can talk about, independent of quality because it is more naturally separated from individual issues of taste. The content question, regardless of how it is framed, allows the audience an alternative way of entering the work.

WDB notes that
There is more of everything, in fact, except good new art...

...For this overgrown industry to survive, it must convince itself that the other art, the bad and mediocre art which is present in such abundance, really is good art, worthy to be bought, sold, shown and written about...

To this point I agree, the salesman’s job is to sell what he has, be it a Yugo or a Lincoln.

... and that the good new art, which is commercially insignificant and implicitly threatens and criticizes the bad art, must be reviled and ignored...

I totally disagree on this point. Part of my disagreement is based on the idea that whatever the ‘good new art’ is, it is not a universal opinion, it is just ‘one’ opinion among many. For example, how about Warhol? Don’t answer, I know what the responses will be, all over the map. So what does this tell us? Zip.

The best way to promote bad art is to rationalize bad taste, to accommodate taste that is raw, vulgar, and undeveloped. This is done, in part, by shifting attention away from aesthetic evaluation and toward the acceptance of readily understood style and content which has been established as desirable. Instead of judging the worth of a work we are led to match its parts against approved forms, thereby reducing the function of taste from evaluation to identification. This process is part of the history of art. It is called fashion.

This is profound. Unfortunately, not in the way it was intended.

Art is Fashion.

In my opinion something profound is occurring at this point in time, this changing of the millennium. Art is redefining itself in a way which may or may not include all the previous elements of its self-definition over the last 500 years.

You could quip, Modern is Soooo 20th Century!

Art has firmly entered into the world of commerce and by this I mean ‘good’ is in part defined by what sells and for what price. Paintings in the 50 million and up category, are guaranteed a place in the history books and museums.

POP Art, check it out in the auction market, it’s a winner, big time. This is telling us, as observers, what the audience ,the world, in interested in.

Why is this?


Sounds almost dirty.


Juli Adams

June 2, 2007, 12:28 PM

comment on favorite fonts

I think I love you for adding the Favorite Font link.

Courier is a link to the less digital past. It has more texture and simplicity than the others.



June 2, 2007, 12:43 PM

OK George. Here we go again.

My contention (there or elsewhere) is that content is real and clear and consists of anything self-evidently in the work; what is undeniably there. This might be fuzzy around the edges, but only slightly, and it is the only useful way to define it.

As for good new art being criticized, this is in such abundant evidence though the history of art in our culture for the last two centuries that I would rather not even try to argue it. It is a truism by now. What is good" is not a function of variable taste; variable taste is just different ways of getting at what is good. And your statement about "one opinion among many" in regard to Warhol simply doesn;t make sense; opinion is universal that Warhol is a great artist. Opinion in this case is not "one among many". It is more like "one against many".

Finally, if you are going to say "this is profound, but not the way it was intended", I think you are obligated to explain. I have no idea what you mean.


Marc Country

June 2, 2007, 8:12 PM

In my opinion something profound is occurring at this point in time, this changing of the millennium. Art is redefining itself in a way which may or may not include all the previous elements of its self-definition over the last 500 years.

George's comment is emblematic, but not in the way he meant it. A quick trek in my time machine, oh, 45 years back should do 'er... Hey Clem! Got any words of wisdom here?

"Both Mr. Alloway and M. Tapié can see, and they do not want for courage either. Mr. Alloway, in particular, I always find refreshing to read. But like M. Tapié, he seems to lack a sense of perspective, and it is this that makes them both inveterate futurists, votaries of false dawns, sufferers from the millennial complex - and to that extent comedians like Mr. Rosenberg, who back in 1952 greeted the beginning of the end of painting as an art" (C. Greenberg, How Art Writing Earns Its Bad Name, Encounter, Dec. 1962).



June 2, 2007, 8:46 PM

Now, that is doing yer research!


Marc Country

June 2, 2007, 9:19 PM

It's a handy quote to have at hand, in case the flux capacitor's on the fritz.

This kinda "Now, art is something else entirely, New and Improved!"... stuff isn't exactly new, and as we see, the associated art isn't exactly improved...

"Paintings in the 50 million and up category, are guaranteed a place in the history books and museums."

Lemme tryout the wayback machine again, and get a response....

Yup, Clem say's it'll all be in the history books, alright. Somewhere beneath the entry on Eugène Carrière, if there's any justice. "An episode in the history of taste", Clem yells out from 36 years past, "...Carrière, who is a pretty good painter, and who was far, far more famous in 1900 than Cézanne was, and really more famous than any of the Impressionists, except possibly Monet. And we've got so many examples of that in painting since the time of Corot on, and we have it in literature too, and we have it in music. We can say that the art public that admired Carrière Participated in the history of taste rather than the history of art, that's what I mean."

Good point, Clem.



June 2, 2007, 9:43 PM

70 million for a Warhol deserves a place in the history books, for sure.

Museums might be another matter.



June 2, 2007, 10:09 PM

If you are over thirty (30) you just won’t get it.

Greenberg (Danto, whoever, take your pick) are part of the olde guard, 20th century, and not necessarily relevant for the 21st century.

What art IS, is being redefined as we speak. This is occurring because the size of the art world has reached a necessary critical mass and is morphing into something else.

What you think is "art" is being redefined by the culture and you are powerless to stop it. What you think makes art "art" is in fact changing and you don’t get it.



June 3, 2007, 12:49 AM

Geez, George, I haven't heard the over 30 thing since 1969



June 3, 2007, 9:28 AM

George, I have seen plenty of work by 20-year-olds and one of the pathetic things about the great majority of it is exactly that it is not substantially different from previous examples, some of which date back to the early part of the last century. You may think they're redefining art, and maybe even some of them do (I've only heard that from a couple of them, and both of them were ploughing vigorously down a worn road). But if so, it's just not showing up in the work. Even if I didn't like it, I would be able to tell if it were different somehow. It's not, and it's up to you to demonstrate otherwise if I'm mistaken.

The only genuine development I've seen in the creative landscape is that comics have rather suddenly become a viable medium for serious artistic pursuit. ("Rather suddenly" dates back to 1978 and Will Eisner, but these things take time to gain momentum.) That's partly why I got involved in them. Despite the respect rightly afforded to Robert Crumb (Robert Hughes deserves a lot of credit for praising him early on), critical response to comics in general has been inadequate. (Peter Schjeldahl made an attempt in 2005 that was not highly regarded.) Baffled critical establishment? Check. NIgh nonexistent institutional acceptance? Check. Sounds like a movement.

And George? George yawned. So much for that sentiment behind anyone else "not getting it." That's the problem with trying to be the art historian for your own age: This new thing is happening, that old thing is fading, etc. We're all stuck right here in the present. We don't have a lot of choice except to spend our time in a pleasurable and useful manner in the best way we can figure how. That means making calls about good and bad, not new and old.

There's a lot of anxiety in the art world about being on the wrong side of history. Reputations and the value of collections are riding on the knack for being on its good side. But my sense is that history-making art is not made with this kind of thing in mind. It's made by pursuing your interests in an excellent way. History may be unkind to you anyway, but at least your time was well spent. Better that than chase after those wavy drafts of hot air up the road that look like water from a distance.



June 3, 2007, 10:50 AM

George: I must agree with you about Pop Art and how it has become a winner in the auction market. It does not follow, however, that art is redefining itself. Pop Art is a very small blip in the history of art ... smaller even than the whole 20th century, itself not a large part of the history of art. What is the chance the 10 years Pop was part of the scene means much in the 20,000 plus years humans have been making art?

You are a good student of financial markets, as demonstrated by your occassional comments on this blog. What did you think in the late 90s when so many proclaimed "this time it's different"? What do you think the real probability is that art has decided to redfine itself and throw some or all of itself overboard, simply because humans invented a time line they call the 21st century and most of the powerful in the art world are saying "art is different now"? Just like most investors said "investing is different now" in the 90s.

When, in the history of art, has 500 years of accomplishment been consciously thrown overboard, with glee, as a sign of advancing? The Dark Ages don't count. There was no self satisfaction, no sense of "advancement". Artists, to the extent there were any left, knew they were in trouble, not advancing.

About revolutions: until 1960 and the rise of Pop, revolutionaries in art were opposed to whatever was "contemporary" and in power at the time of their revolution. Somehow the use of the term revolution began changing in the 60s when it is applied to art. So today you can be "revolutionary" and in power at the same time. Where the original avant-garde hated the art in power, today the ONLY art the so-called avant-garde likes is the art in power. If you don't like the art in power, you are "dated" and "hanging on to the past" and "afraid of change". If your eyes do not respect $50 million dollar art that is because you are not revolutionary enough.

Doesn't this seem a little weird to you George?



June 3, 2007, 11:05 AM

Franklin: the rise of comics as art, weaving as art, performance as art, and so on seems like a sign of decline, not expansion. They are entities filling the vacuum left by the decline of goodness that had been found in the most ambitious art up until 1960 or so. There is no doubt Pop was out to replace AbEx, a lofty ambition indeed. But it fell short and enterprises that were perfectly respectable for what they were (and remain) began to tumble into the space created by the shortfall. When they are confined to that space, whether by external force or their own purpose, they look freakish and odd. A good comic is a good comic and the good ones are not plentiful. But they don't belong in the Louvre.



June 3, 2007, 11:10 AM

Let’s crank up the second-guess machine again.
Suppose we take your favorite artists, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and Roy Litchenstein and apply that look back logic to them. Since I’m assuming you probably consider these three artists ‘overrated’, you will be able to suggest three other artists whose contributions will seen as more significant as we move a little deeper into the 21st century.

Franklin’s missing my point about the 20 year olds.

I am not talking about all the 20 year old artists, just the few who are going to change the future because they are not stuck in the old 20th century thinking.

Maybe I’m the only one thinking about this, but it seems to me, that there is a very real potential we are at a cusp in time where the culture is going to redefine art, and what ‘art’ means and what it means to be an artist. This is something which might happen only once every 500 years or so.

It is possible that the art market has reached the critical mass necessary to sustain a new level or pardigm for what we will accept as ‘art’. Of course this can include all the past qualities used to describe or indicate what is ‘good’ art. But, it may also choose to value and include other qualities as well. The market has become too big to stay focused on a single idea for any length of time. Modes of production, promotion and distribution will have to adapt.

POP Art will always be important because it appeals to a wide audience.



June 3, 2007, 11:25 AM


A couple of points.

I’m using POP Art as a tenuous indicator of what I am sensing is occurring.

Second, I am not suggesting that anything will be ‘thrown out’, rather that the scope of what’s included in the definition of art will be expanded.

I am suggesting that it "is different this time". World finance is going through a monumental expansionary change which in unparalleled in history. Of course, I do not expect the course of world economies to be all up, all the time, they will fluctuate, but it appears that something very monumental is occurring AND that it is part of the reason the art market is so hot at the moment. (I do not think it is a bubble yet)



June 3, 2007, 11:28 AM

50 million dollar art is certain to find a place in catalogs, even if it sucks. Some collectors gleam like unapologetic wisenheimers when their investments yield obscene returns at the auctions. In a tragicomic way, 50 year old starving artists can play the game also. It is not uncommon for artist to trade art with artist friend. To perpetuate the game, in time most assuredly some artists will achieve collect-ability and market value. If they perish untimely, so much the better, except of course if they were your friend. In 1986 I asked a friend if he did not mind my selling a gift from him to pay for my brothers HIV medical costs. His answer was, that's why i gave it to you, for a rainy day.
Though I have a perfectly sound career in the art industry, today I face a new crisis. The sudden obscene cost of insurance n taxes for living in Miami. But I thank my luck stars for the value some art commands. The numbers at the auctions are obscene but not surprising given the players. For them it is the game.... but for me it is the life.



June 3, 2007, 11:43 AM

George, when you strart writing things like " the art market has reached the critical mass necessary to sustain a new level or pardigm for what we will accept as ‘art'" I really think it is time for you to get a little more specific.

The art market has long since succumbed to the upwards march of every useless thing in the world fighting to be called art. This is a change, but is nothing new. Your rhetoric is couched in verbiage signifying some sort of coming apocolypse, sort of a global warming in the art market scenario. You need to spell it out. Briefly, please.



June 3, 2007, 11:59 AM

Catfish, I hesitate to say "comics as art." Comics are becoming increasingly viable and serious as comics. I don't see it as an expansion of art, even a horizontal expansion. It is something taking place in the landscape of art, as well as the landscape of literature. (Time Magazine's #1 Book of 2006 was Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.) To the extent that comics is producing objects of visual interest, museums might as well pay attention. Hogarth's engravings and most ukiyo-e were made on similar terms. Ukiyo-e were being used to pack ceramics for shipment before people started collecting them.

George, what exactly is this "old 20th century thinking" you claim that certain future-altering 20 year olds are not going to be stuck in?

Swampthing, let me tell you how relieved I was when I got my insurance bill after I sold my house in Miami and moved up north. It would have quadrupled in two years had I stayed. My condolences.



June 3, 2007, 2:34 PM

OK, I’m just speculating here so bear with me. By ‘critical mass’ I’m sensing that the art market has reached a crucial size, both in the number of participants and in its capitalization.

The art world is now no longer just a playground for a few wealthy connoisseurs, it has become a significant part of the larger marketplace for luxury goods. My hunch is that the art market has reached a size large enough to withstand a stiff economic correction without imploding.

In order for a market sector to remain self sustaining, the capital must be kept flowing. Markets expand and the new collectors tastes probably will not march in tune with the old tastes and the aesthetic will be redefined. If that seems like some ‘sort of coming apocalypse’, then yes you understood me correctly.

I like some of the works of Johns, Warhol, Litchenstein, Neo Rauch, etc for aesthetic reasons, I can get into their work. Others here imply that somehow these artists, are just market fads. Yet everyone else, including the market place has the opposite critical assessment, I can only conclude someone doesn’t get it and that there are two dissenting aesthetic opinions occurring. If this is the case, the solution is not to throw out one opinion over the other, both must remain. Over time, but probably not in our own lifetime, the question will be sorted out.

So, I think the 20 somethings are going to define for theirselves what they think is hot and what’s not. I believe this is a bi-generational event (approx 40-50 years apart) and that it is in the process of occurring now.


Marc Country

June 3, 2007, 5:34 PM

Well, I'm no twenty-something, and I'm guessing George ain't either, so... any twenty-somethings out there have an opinion?



June 3, 2007, 5:44 PM

i think a version of this came up recently by someone else, probably a greenberg or bannard quote: but here it is slapped together by me;

one issue with the continuance of this lesser (johns, warhol, etc. peyton, koons) art still maintaining the lead as the best determined by the art hierarchy and the market is because bad taste has permeated art so deeply on all levels. it is crazy that this is also not just a 20-30 year thing, but we are going on 50 years.

people with poor taste have control on every level. and yes, another factor is that the market for art as a luxury item certailny has expanded. the market does not care what is good, it just wants to make more money.

what is best, is still the best, regardless of what the market or anyone else gives the nod to. most people in the general public and even the art world just can't see it or they really don't care. and for this reason, george could be right about somethings. on all levels, the establishment or otherwise are seeing something different, but they can't see or don't care if it is the "real deal".

it is impossible to argue with this as the problem.

for now much of what is widely accepted as some of the best, is just not. but should we care?



June 3, 2007, 7:29 PM

George, I think Britney Spears is a musical trifle and the marketplace has an overwhelmingly opposite stance on that as well. I'm still right. And the marketplace is wrong. It is not always wrong, but it is wrong on this.

Markets may reflect taste to variable degrees but they've proven poor at enforcing it. Here in Boston a number of modernist buildings dating from the '70s have been slated for demolition, most notably the loathed city hall. This is a city where people are fond of a prominent Citgo sign on the Charles, and people just hated this building. That's a substantial reversal of fortune on an expensive and "approved" public structure. In fashion, you can do anything you want, but you will be destroyed if you do the same thing as last season, and no amount of financial might can make last year's look hold over. The idea that an artist's reputation can be floated indefinitely aloft on a hill of cash has no analogues in any other market I know about. They had fire sales on David Salle and they'll have them on Neo Rauch too. Like them all you want. They're goofy and shrill, and in the future they'll still be goofy and shrill.

You didn't answer my question in #21.

1, I think we probably shouldn't care, as per #14. But a fine writer has tackled this problem at greater length.



June 3, 2007, 8:04 PM


Somehow the flaw in this picture is tied up with the notion that "the continuance of this lesser (johns, warhol, etc. peyton, koons) art still maintaining the lead as the best determined by the art hierarchy and the market is because bad taste has permeated art so deeply on all levels" (My four artists were Johns, Warhol, Litchenstein and Neo Rauch, I might include Koons, wouldn’t include Peyton)

And, going on a bit further… people with poor taste have control on every level.

I find it hard to believe this is the case, that there is a hegemony of ‘poor taste’, I do not believe this is true. I suspect that there are disagreements in taste, disagreements about the merits of one artist over another. If the opinions were reversed, the supporters of AW, JJ RL NR etc would make the same argument in response.

Moreover, while many are quick to offer up a negative opinion on the artists I’ve mentioned, no one has named other artists who have created a viable alternative path over the same historical period.

Aside from the votes from the marketplace, I think another factor which must be included is how an artists body of work has influenced other artists over time. This is a subtler and slower process.



June 3, 2007, 8:30 PM


The idea that an artist's reputation can be floated indefinitely aloft on a hill of cash has no analogues in any other market I know about.

I would agree, so this isn’t what is occurring. $140 million for a Johns might be a bit on the high side, it’s ridiculous as a method of "floating his reputation" (i.e. makes no sense financially) so it must represent something else.

The Britney analogy doesn’t work for me, that’s more equivalent to the billion dollar cutesy house painter (I forgot his name)

David Salle is out of favor and thus underpriced.

Neo Rauch is in another league, he is the most important German painter at the moment. I believe he may be the most important and ambitious figurative painter working today as well. The Met has a small exhibition of his works up now, but what do they know?

The "old 20th century thinking" is just that, you postulate the future by projecting the past forward assuming the same rules apply. I think we are in a special moment in history when this will prove to be only partially true. One might write eloquently about quality in art, what makes it good only to find that this perception is mutating and expanding.



June 3, 2007, 8:46 PM

Any artist bitching and moaning about the art market are exactly the same ones who are not benefitting from it.

Like me!



June 3, 2007, 8:52 PM

the "old 20th century thinking" is just that

Now I think you don't know what you're talking about.

you postulate the future by projecting the past forward assuming the same rules apply. I think we are in a special moment in history when this will prove to be only partially true.

You can project forward from any point in history and find that the implications are only partially true.

One might write eloquently about quality in art, what makes it good only to find that this perception is mutating and expanding.

That's not my problem. My problem is to be as clear-sighted as I can be right now. If I make a practice of that over a lifetime of observation, I'm bound to get something right. And if I don't, too bad - at least I didn't lie to myself or anyone else. Besides, what's the alternative? To second-guess the future? I'll let someone who's living there take care of it.



June 3, 2007, 9:42 PM

George: You clearly do believe this time it's different. But you must admit that there have been times in recent history when bad taste had control - the French Academy of the late 19th century, for instance. And the avant-garde that fought those in power then did it by going backwards, to earlier artists such as Goya, rather than postulating a "new definition" of art.

The "new" definition of art that you espouse was recognized as early as 1971 as the "de-definition" of art by Harold Rosenberg, in a short piece in which he said art was getting "too big" for art. As opie put it in #20, it was about "the upwards march of evey useless thing in the world fighting to be called art". And so, I guess, you will say that what was at least factually "new" over 35 years ago is still "new" today.

As far as influence goes, you raise a good question. Who is following in the tradtiion of Warhol? LIchtenstein? Johns? No one that I can see. The ash can school that came before them has had more effect on "today's painting", don't you think? So does Hopper. For that matter, no one follows Pollock, Rothko, or deKooning either. The heavyweights of American art since 1945 just are not having much effect, except in the market. They are not providing "a path", alternative or otherwise, except for collectors.

Having influence may be a subtle and slow process, but we are now 50 years down the pike. Isn't it about time to see something? Why did it all fall over the cliff as far as the newer generations of artists have been concerned. Duchamp, his "non-work ethic", and other Dada nonsense seems to be the only influence that has endured, and that is now over 100 years ago.

And what, really, are the new hot shots against? What do they hate about the current power structure in art that they are compelled to counteract? They gripe about stuff outside the art system, but they seem to love things just like they are, as far as the inside goes. Whatever they are, they are not revolutionaries.



June 3, 2007, 9:52 PM

Well F. you didn’t ask me about the new thinking.

I’ll turn it into an example. Let’s take Greenberg. At the present he is irrelevant, his moment of influence has passed. One reason for this is that much of his words have become dogma on one side or inflammatory on the other. I think an aspect of this is a result of people being to close to the source (in time, not necessarily personally) and their opinions have become tainted or biased.

By the time one of my 20-something geniuses reads CG, it’s going to be 40 or 50 years after the fact. It is old history, and they have no vested interest in the ideas presented, what rings true and feels exciting will be assimilated, what’s not will be forgotten.

The same thing can be said about other writers or other artists.



June 3, 2007, 10:01 PM


that there have been times in recent history when bad taste had control - the French Academy of the late 19th century, for instance. And the avant-garde that fought those in power then did it by going

Why yes of course.

And where is the avant gard today?

I'm suggesting that either they are either
a. powerless or
b. ineffective or
c. are in fact the current taste makers.



June 3, 2007, 10:12 PM

More Cat,

Duchamp, his "non-work ethic", and other Dada nonsense seems to be the only influence that has endured... etc

This is not the case anymore.

There is a lot of different types of work being made at the moment and I don't think many of the younger artists are picking up the Duchamp (or pomo) thread. There's is a lot of serious painting going on, in all styles, some good, most not, as you would expect.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $



June 3, 2007, 10:23 PM

You might be right about painting today, George. Neo Rauch, for instance, makes pictures, pictures that look sort of pomo, even.

You might be right about the avant-garde being the current taste makers too, except if they are, "avant-garde" is not a very good term to describe them, except (again) that is the one they most often choose themselves.

I'm still looking for the influence of the American heavies.



June 3, 2007, 10:30 PM

You seem to be getting everyone stirred up George, but I really can't respond because all you have done is say that there is a type of change coming or happening which is different, and, by implication, more earth-shaking than other types of change, but you are not saying what it is. Can't you be more specific?

So far it's just a big tease festooned with a bunch of red herrings.



June 3, 2007, 11:41 PM

Well F. you didn’t ask me about the new thinking.

There's a reason for that. I'm not sure you understand what you mean by the old thinking.



June 4, 2007, 8:14 AM

Today the temperature is going to be above normal for this time-of-year.


Marc Country

June 4, 2007, 9:37 AM

"I’ll turn it into an example. Let’s take Greenberg. At the present he is irrelevant, his moment of influence has passed."

This is hilariously ironic, I'm sure not in a way George intended. Greenberg will, in a hundred years, be just as irrelevant as he is today, which is to say, argued about and refered to constantly. I wonder what other critics will enjoy such richly relevant longevity... not many, I bet.

"By the time one of my 20-something geniuses reads CG, it’s going to be 40 or 50 years after the fact. It is old history, and they have no vested interest in the ideas presented, what rings true and feels exciting will be assimilated, what’s not will be forgotten."

Avant Garde and Kitsch was written over 60 years ago. And I'm barely over thirty. So yes, I was in my twenties when I first read Greenberg, at least 40 - 50 years after the fact. Greenberg nails Alloway and Tapie back then, in the quote I provided with the phrase, "inveterate futurists, votaries of false dawns, sufferers from the millennial complex"... and just as relevantly, the words hit Geroge's own rusty nail smack-dab on the head today.

Not that I expect this reality to change George's evangelical fervor...



June 4, 2007, 9:56 AM

Opie (#35): It is that old "vision of the future" thing. The future is easily manipulated because it provides no facts that can bring the visionary back to reality. Therefore the projected idea can be as earth shaking as serves the visionary's needs.

The only aspect George is willing to posit is that it will soon be "different", grandly different, I suppose. That's not much to go on, but it is enough for me to say that probability weighs against him. When you think about it, art is perhaps the most stable cultrual phenomenon we have. Compare what art looked like 20,000 years ago to what science looked like then.

From the Heraclitian point of view, art hasn't made much "progress" since then. From the aesthetic point of view, there has been no need for change. The French cave paintings stand up real well today, many eons after they were made. Unlike the "science" of that time, there is no need to replace them. They are just dandy, as they were and are.



June 4, 2007, 10:15 AM


The interesting aspect of Rauch’s paintings is that they are anti-reductive. Many are ambitious multi-figure compositions done with an eye to past history and a bent for the surreal. Working with assembled images, he is making spatially complex paintings with inventive transitions to tie it all together. So maybe that’s ‘pomo’, maybe not, I don’t think he cares.

Re, the ‘avant garde’:
It is very likely that this in an idea which time has passed. I think the art-world has become too large today to support the idea of a spearhead for long. At best, we might have a nebulous border momentarily recognizable, then shifted somewhere else.

The now amorphous nature of the avant garde has now become a problem for younger artists because it is not so clear who to follow, too bad.

Since, an amorphous ‘avant garde’ is not particularly good for business, I would expect to see a consensus creation of a marketing replacement. Something like the New-New Avant Garde, well whatever. It will just be a fashion inspired marketing device but might provide something to work against for the contrary.

F. The points above on the avant garde would fall into the category of how the artworld is changing. The old thinking is ‘avant garde’ which doesn’t seem be able to function appropriately any more. It will be replaced by a different type of thinking to describe the ‘edge’.

Re, The influence of the American Heavies:

I think it’s there but more subtle than earlier in the 20th century. The development various hegemonic styles, in particular Cubism, created an environment where more focused movements could occur, hence the sense of ‘influence’

I still think this is occurring today, but it’s less focused because we have many artists looking at many other artists as inspiration. Because of electronic reproductions, artists can now look at 100’s of other artists works for ideas and inspiration, and this seems to be what is happening.

With someone like Roy Litchenstein, his style is so uniquely identifiable that it can’t be appropriated. Yet, there is something in the clarity of his images, outside the use of the ben day dots and other graphic tropes, that is interesting in the way that Leger is interesting.


Marc Country

June 4, 2007, 10:24 AM

Stupidity, continued...



June 4, 2007, 11:02 AM

re 41

Christopher Knight is one of the best, if not the best, art writers working for a newspaper today. Your suggestion is lame



June 4, 2007, 11:18 AM

OK George, if "avant-garde" is to be replaced by "the edge", just how many thousands of art people can occupy the edge before it is no longer the edge?



June 4, 2007, 12:05 PM

George, you have lost me again. The review of the Heilmann paintings Marc linked to was largely a worked-up scenario which had little to do with her paintings, which are rather middling at best anyway. I think Marc was completely on target.



June 4, 2007, 12:07 PM


Don't misunderstand me, I'm not proposing something, just trying to make sense out what I'm seeing.

The 'edge' idea suffers from exactly the problems you suggest. So what will this mean going forward in a art world much larger than any time in the past?

It would seem that having some way to identify what’s on the cusp would be a good marketing tool. Therefore we can expect that the art marketplace will find a way to do this, define fashion.

Now, while the marketplace might call this the ‘avant garde’ we know better, it’s only marketing jingo. However, I would also expect that artists will attempt to anticipate what this new-new ‘avant garde’ will be and to actually attempt to cut in line (they already do this, have for years)

More or less any way I bend the idea, it looks like the old avant garde is dead and just a marketing tool.

So where does that leave us?

* * * * * *

I am sure that all the artists here want to believe that ‘good work will win out’, that ‘good art’ will rise to the top. Unfortunately, it also appears that most here also don’t think this is happening, that bad taste rules.

So we have a problem. Is it that ones work isn’t ‘bad’ enough to get noticed, surely this can’t be the argument one would want to make.

So what is the problem? Maybe it is because ones style or approach to art making, is out of favor at the moment, that certainly happens. What causes this disinterest? What brings the interest back?

I don’t have answers to these questions, I do know I am bored with almost all the painting I see currently.



June 4, 2007, 1:46 PM

I concur. I will say it again, Avant Garde music has left 2D in the dust!
It is vibrant and exciting.



June 4, 2007, 2:39 PM

The old thinking is ‘avant garde’ which doesn’t seem be able to function appropriately any more. It will be replaced by a different type of thinking to describe the ‘edge’.

That's it? That's the "old 20th Century thinking" that nobody over 30 gets? Sheesh.



June 4, 2007, 3:07 PM


Tip me on the music. I need some new sounds.

* * * * *

F. Let's not make a federal case out of it. I am only suggesting that the art world is suffering growing pains. If the current idea of the 'avant gard' has become ineffective, ask yourself how it might change. Extend this line of thinking to the other things you assume to be fixed facts but might in fact be more mutable than expected.

Of course if you don't care, don't bother.



June 4, 2007, 3:16 PM

Judy Linhares. Rosanna Bruno. Jackie Saccoccio. Jenny Dubnau. How could you be bored?



June 4, 2007, 3:19 PM



June 4, 2007, 3:21 PM

George your whole point here is "you guys are too fixed in your ways and don't see the big picture like I do", but, once again, no big picture is being given us.

Now suddenly you say " I am only suggesting that the art world is suffering growing pains" when clearly you have been suggesting all sorts of other things. It is impossible to deal with. It is like kicking Jello.

And that "Of course if you don't care, don't bother" is just petulant.



June 4, 2007, 3:44 PM

Opie, I didn't say I saw the big picture, if I was that smart I wouldn't be wasting my time here.

I have said before that the turning of the century is a big deal psychologically. This coupled with the expansion in the size of the art world leads me to conclude that change is inevitable. I am sensing this is occurring right now but I can't really articulate it all in five minutes. I'll leave it at that, the 20-somethings rule.



June 4, 2007, 3:55 PM

Change is inevitable. There's a prediction you can bank on. Good luck to those mysterious 20-somethings, whoever they may be.



June 4, 2007, 4:29 PM

The concept of an "avant garde extending tradition" may not be palatable to the educated art hobbyist these days, but 'on the ground' (as Franklin likes to say) it is rather more a fact of life than a defunct/dysfunctional mode - demonstrably so in most (every?) fields, disciplines and trades. Tradition is a deep, possibly unfathomable, field of research from which I can make a reasonable start. Working from a tradition opens up the largest possible number of options, while "rebellion against a tradition", though highly attractive to the fashionable nihilist or anarchist, necessarily results in an un-put-back-together-again Humpty leaving next to no options. What I do next is the future, and it is a forward action, no matter how much anyone might say otherwise.



June 4, 2007, 4:52 PM

Well put, Ahab.



June 4, 2007, 5:25 PM

Well ahab,

I have no problem with the idea of the "avant garde extending tradition".

So in this morass of poor taste which seems to currently rule, could you be so kind as to point me in the direction of this 'avant garde' It's tropes seem to be in dissarray and the generals are hiding.



June 4, 2007, 9:46 PM

Me, me! Pick me. No, don't worry, I don't fancy myself the neo.

Just as you hesitate to name 20 year olds, George, I'm in no position to finger generals. The army metaphor you're on about is, by the way, about as stretchable as the nursery rhyme I mentioned, except that I can name dozens upon dozens of artists who are as fully rounded as a broken egg. I am sympathetic to your fractal analogies (which you've all but named again here) but for their ultimate formlessness.

The actual avant garde of the visual arts are painters and sculptors and drawers and printmakers and whoever, creators of art who have not been seduced by modes of art that require marketing more than making. These are not merely makers, however; they are keen-eyed hard-nosed broad-shouldered critics of what they themselves make, though they may not even realize how much so. Every artist makes vehement claims to such self-criticism, of course, but not every artist's art bears it out. It is unfortunate that those most courageous makers with the keenest eyes and most skilled hands do not always have the additional capacity to clearly verbalize their pursuit or its significance (sometimes they even lack the wherewithal to keep themselves in the studio for whatever real-life reason).

It's a lucky thing, isn't it, to survive 10 years as an artist? Managers who paint are all over the place making careers for themselves, but artists holding enough cards to keep it together for 30+ years... and good ones at that? And who write?


Marc Country

June 4, 2007, 10:06 PM

Ahab's message comes at you LIVE from the wilderness of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
'Artworld', take note...



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