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Friday Roundup, Saturday Edition

Post #1089 • November 17, 2007, 11:23 AM • 155 Comments

Supergirl has kindly offered to support me as a painter while she goes out and has a big-name art career making easy nihilist crap. (More on William Cordova here.)

Why things turn dark when they get wet. (Reddit)

"Some years back, a group of artists were hounded out of Beijing by authorities. Some went to Songzhuang village, a farming town an hour away. Now, that village is a boomtown - based on the market for contemporary Chinese art. Communist officials drink beer with bohemians. Will the rising tide raise all the artists' boats - or capsize them?" Studio 360 reports on that and more about the Chinese art world.

Department of Maybe Not In Good Taste. (Reddit)

It gets said, but not often enough: Terry Teachout is awesome, a veritable perfect storm of talent, erudition, and graciousness. Note that he also just wrote an introduction to the latest William Bailey catalogue and is at work on an opera. An opera! In comparison I am squandering my life on fripperies! Ahem. Thank you.

Synthetic happiness proven using Monet prints. (Ryan)

Book Design Review picks its 2007 faves. (Kottke)

"In a time when success is often measured in terms of material goods and incomprehensibility sometimes seems an end in itself, the simple life and the clear, straightforward statements of artist Charlie Ward seem out of place. For here is work that touches at the very heart of life, dealing with the simple things, the ordinary, the everyday, bringing to them an understanding rare in a day when neuroses are the norm and shock value is more important than good painting." Unknown writer in 2007 1958. Ward's work is on display at the Fisher Federal Building and US Courthouse in Trenton. (Necee)

"Seattle is a strangely disenfranchised place to be an artist in."

Department of Skills: Ballwechsel!

Comment

1.

Jack

November 17, 2007, 12:49 PM

True, Franklin, you're nobody if you haven't written an opera. Or at least an oratorio. However, when you finally write yours, make sure there's actual singing in it. You'd be surprised how often that little detail has been ignored--like "visual" art chock full of "content" that's unfortunately not worth looking at.

2.

Jack

November 17, 2007, 12:58 PM

Oh, and tell Supergirl not to expend any more effort than is absolutely necessary. Just a little creativity invoving tampons, global warming and floor cracks should do it. Just make sure the accompanying text is suitably pseudoprofound.

3.

Franklin

November 17, 2007, 1:09 PM

Opera is beyond my powers. Pseudoprofoundity I can generate at will, thanks to repeated exposure to art magazines.

4.

wwc

November 17, 2007, 1:55 PM

I think someone less tech-dumb than me could easily make a random pseudo-profound artist wall text generator. Some thing that strings together enough important words (relevant, investigates, juxtaposes) to make some great and "challenging" art writing.

I once saw in a catalog a giant wooden thing that Mark Tansey has - some wheels inside wheels that can spin making words line up to make content for his work:

http://madinkbeard.com/blog/archives/mark-tansey

5.

Franklin

November 17, 2007, 2:47 PM

I tried to write an Artforum Diary post generator once but it didn't work out. One day.

6.

Jack

November 17, 2007, 2:56 PM

Ah, yes, the Whitney Biennial. Check. Next contestant! Uh, no, don't call us, we'll call you. Yes, very, uh, interesting work. Challenges all sorts of things. I had a tiny dog like that once. Thought she was a German Shepherd. Yes, yes, very nice. All right people, keep it moving; we have a lot of shit, uh, work to sift through...

7.

Just Wondering

November 17, 2007, 3:53 PM

Your attention to the careers of Mr. Gipsert and Mr. Cordova smacks of jealousy and a Travis Bickle obsessive compulsive freakishness. Their work strikes a cord, is remotely interesting and someone thinks it has merit.

You don't, but why do feel the need to make hyperlinked charts.

I suggest that you strap on your silly beret pick up your palette and brush and paint a bowl of fruit.

8.

Franklin

November 17, 2007, 3:57 PM

Autoresponse: Jealousy

9.

Still Wondering

November 17, 2007, 4:21 PM

With such a successful career, why do feel the need to make hyperlinked charts about artists you do not respect?
Why not make hyperlinked charts abouts things you like?
It really smacks of an unhealthy mind to take the time to compare Cordova and Gispert in such a way. Of course there are similarities, they are friends, went to the same school and have collaborated on numerous projects. Its not like to discovered anything new or interesting. I've been reading this blog for over a year and I will say you are at your most entertaining when you are writing about things you like, as opposed to things you dislike.
When you are negative and sling mud, you sound like an eleventh grader writing a high school blog. When you write about things you have genuine interest in you sound enlightened and intelligent.

10.

opie

November 17, 2007, 4:27 PM

Just Wondering wants to pose for you, Franklin.

Someone has to call it crap, guys. No one else is doing it. Accepting this stuff as art is the esthetic equivalent of not calling 911.

11.

Franklin

November 17, 2007, 4:29 PM

Actually, putting that chart together back in '03 was surprisingly catharctic. My writing gets calmer as time progresses because I have a place to vent. It gets smarter as it gets calmer, I think.

12.

Still Wondering

November 17, 2007, 4:47 PM

Sincerity not appreciated.

13.

Franklin

November 17, 2007, 4:55 PM

Comment #10 for the win!

You're telling me, Wondering. Just look at who got included in that Biennial.

14.

Not Wondering

November 17, 2007, 5:26 PM

Whitney Biennial
Who gives a crap?
Apparently you do.
Oh yeah, that thorn in your side Bert Rodriguez
Here we go again.....

15.

Jack

November 17, 2007, 6:00 PM

Sincerity is rarely appreciated when it "challenges established norms." How's that for incorporating artspeak into a lowly blog comment? Maybe I could write for an art mag.

OP is right. It may be a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

Besides, why would anyone in tune with the establishment, which is by definition predominant, get at all upset over disapproval from those "out-of-it"? Is the "in" crowd actually arrogant enough to expect everyone to agree with it? Or is it too insecure to handle critical opposition?

16.

Jack

November 17, 2007, 6:24 PM

Hey, Franklin, I must have missed that Cordova-Gispert chart the first time around, but it still hits the (sore) spot. Must be something to it, I shouldn't wonder.

17.

Franklin

November 17, 2007, 7:24 PM

I rather think I'm more of a thorn in his side. And something worse to his anonymous supporters.

Or is it too insecure to handle critical opposition?

There you go. If the work was better it wouldn't be necessary to resort to ad hominems while defending it. Ah, sweet vindication.

18.

wwc

November 17, 2007, 8:10 PM

That chart is what my two-year-old neighbor calls "Big Awesome." Esp the bit about maintaining the outsider pose.

19.

tracy kelly

November 17, 2007, 8:24 PM

darn. for a moment i thought posting #14 was poetry.

okay, i'll have a go at it:

whitney biennial
who gives a crap?
art stars, wanna be’s
people like that.

crap can be a verb
crap can be a noun
at the whitney biennial
either is profound.

20.

Jack

November 17, 2007, 8:32 PM

Comment #7: "Their work strikes a cord"

Strike a cord. Strike a pose. Vogue.

Hell, if anybody knows the score, Madonna does.

21.

opie

November 17, 2007, 9:37 PM

Here's a limerick, Tracy:

Crappy art brings lots of dough; it
takes an esthete to know it.
Crap, verb and noun,
is a double put-down,
but the Whitney Bi-anal can show it.

22.

Tracy Kelly

November 18, 2007, 7:58 AM

Nice job, opie.

Here's a haiku. I promise to stop after this and continue a serious discussion.


the anointed ones
crap in the temple of art
we bow and buy it

23.

McFawn

November 18, 2007, 8:15 AM

To be a success as an artist (which is different from being a good artist), one must have no sense of shame. Shame-or at least an internal quality-check--would prevent so much of the work we discuss here (and see Banks Violette for another example).

The trick to being a successful artist is to just keep elaborating on a lame concept until you trick viewers into thinking it must be worthwhile: "if this wasn't a good concept, than how could the artist get so much mileage out of it?"

24.

Jack

November 18, 2007, 8:38 AM

I know I shouldn't; it's too easy, and hardly necessary, but I couldn't resist. I'm just weak sometimes.

#7: "I suggest that you strap on your silly beret pick up your palette and brush and paint a bowl of fruit."

I suggest picking up a book or a computer mouse and looking up "Cezanne still lifes."

Talk about silliness.

25.

Franklin

November 18, 2007, 8:58 AM

Shame-or at least an internal quality-check--would prevent so much of the work we discuss here...

Self-criticism, practiced widely at peak levels, would destroy the art world as we know it. For the better.

The trick to being a successful artist is to just keep elaborating on a lame concept until you trick viewers into thinking it must be worthwhile.

There's something to this. I call it the William Wegman school of art career success, or for short, Shtick Theory.

26.

Stopped Wondering

November 18, 2007, 9:26 AM

Funny thing is that you think you are a thorn.
You are not a thorn or a flower.

Gispert is a skilled film maker, story teller and sculptor.
Have you seen his work Stereomongrel. I did'nt think so.

Cordova is able to tell a story and his works on paper both large and small contain all the ingredients of a good work. Excellent use of materials, good composition, great titles, light, color, all that stuff that you think about.

Rodriguez works comes from a different place. One that confuses FE. A ridgid mind is unable to appreciate Bert's work. Bert deals with ideas and humor, while thumbing his nose at the established gallery, museum and collector realm.

Perhaps none of these guy look as good in a beret holding a palette as FE, but their work has merit, it is as much trash has Opie's cranky minimalist schlock, and FE goopy paintings of fleshy light and form.

At the end of the day it is all meaningless crap.

27.

Franklin

November 18, 2007, 9:56 AM

Gispert has decent moments as a photographer, is a terrible filmmaker, and a worse sculptor. I saw Stereomongrel.

Cordova is capable of okay works on paper when he stays small. His installations are sad amalgams that would blow away like dust in the presence of someone like Keinholz. I reviewed a video of his at Locust a few years ago which I would characterize as ridiculous.

Rodriguez's work is extremely easy to appreciate because there isn't very much to it: humor and disrespect. The humor is lame, the disrespect is not sincere enough to decline the art system's money and recognition, and the form it takes, when it's not slavishly reworking Bruce Nauman, lacks the urgency that would animate something like this. Anybody who thinks his work is good marks himself as an easily amused art-world fashion victim.

Opie hasn't worked in a minimalist style in forty years.

I'm always open for suggestions regarding my painting if you think you know how to improve them.

28.

Marc Country

November 18, 2007, 10:05 AM

The thing I couldn't figure, after that Gilbert "Monet Print" video lecture, was, why do we prefer one print over the other in the first place?... but maybe, this (poor quality) audio lecture by Ramachandran answers that question, too...

29.

opie

November 18, 2007, 10:15 AM

Sorry, Tracy. Some of these comments do not deserve seriousness.

my mind is so hopelessly ridgid
I can't use it; I just sit and fidgit
but It will unbend
to comprehend
an intellectual midgit.

30.

Marc Country

November 18, 2007, 10:51 AM

But, I can't help Wondering... why come in thundering, when you just end up blundering, and looking the fool? What's wrong with berets? Or what Franklin says? Wise up, or shut up: don't crap in our pool!

31.

Marc Country

November 18, 2007, 11:14 AM

Another Neuroaesthetic link...

32.

Jack

November 18, 2007, 12:25 PM

Well, Franklin, I don't want to be rude about your ridiculous video experience at Locust, but seriously, what did you expect?

That reminds me of some, uh, less-than-riveting video by Hernan Bas I saw (by accident, I swear) at about the same time. Pretty boys in the ocean wearing fake shark fins. I guess it was over my head.

By the way, what's Bas been doing lately? I'm no longer wasting my time hanging around Wynwood, but his profile seems to be lower than it was. Maybe it's just the general pre-Basel hibernation phenomenon. Or maybe he's been promoted to Old Master status and is no longer expected to be that visible.

And what about Tao Rey? He was hot, or at least warmish, a while back. Are the 15 minutes over, or what?

I suppose I could get out more (meaning to where the "action" is), but I just didn't make a good enough masochist. I gave it a mighty serious try, but the bottom line is that I just didn't enjoy pain that much.

33.

necee

November 18, 2007, 2:08 PM

this might be off- topic, but here's a link with more info about the charlie ward show that franklin kindly mentioned in the roundup. what i loved about the quote, from 1958, is that it's relevant today.

http://www.njn.net/artsculture/starts/season07-08/2603.html

34.

Jack

November 19, 2007, 8:43 AM

Artblog has been accused by Critical Miami blog of "banal mockery" of some of the exalted ones selected for the upcoming Whitney Biennial.

Just wanted to announce that so those inclined to ashes and sackcloth can act accordingly. No takers? Didn't think so.

35.

Chris Rywalt

November 19, 2007, 8:48 AM

I just checked out that "Maybe not in good taste" link and was struck by the similarity between the sculpture from this angle and a painting of mine.

Mildly disturbing. But that's an awesome grave marker. Or whatever you call the slab over a grave. Way better than the Kiss Kasket.

36.

Franklin

November 19, 2007, 9:59 AM

I've returned fire at Critical Miami.

Way better than the Kiss Kasket.

I'm not sure. That's a pretty tough call.

37.

Marc Country

November 19, 2007, 10:02 AM

So, let me get this straight, Jack... It's not the mockery, per se, that (the completely objective voices at) Critical Miami has a problem with, so much as their contention that such mockery is lacking originality, freshness, or novelty?

If that's the case, they appear to hold mere mockery to higher standards than they do art. Strange.

Then again, what they call art, I call hollow mockery.

A chacun son gout.

38.

Jack

November 19, 2007, 10:18 AM

Marc, don't trouble yourself so. I expect "banal" was merely a careless (and certainly poor) choice of adjective, especially considering the nature of the mocked art in question. The point was simply to dismiss our criticism. It's hardly a novel phenomenon.

39.

easily amused art-world fashion victim

November 19, 2007, 11:05 AM

Ladies, this artblog reads like a 16 year old private school girl who didn’t get nominated for home coming queen.

Here is a quote you wrote about Bert’s fans...

"Anybody who thinks his work is good marks himself as an easily amused art-world fashion victim."

There is a big difference between criticism and talkin’ crap. Art should be criticized...it is supposed to ignite a reaction… but talkin’ crap about the audience who enjoy these pieces is puerile and smells like player hatin’. I doubt you have persuaded anyone with your critique to look at things in a different light and at the same time you have managed to alienate yourselves from an audience that might have found your work or blog interesting.

40.

Jack

November 19, 2007, 11:11 AM

Re #39: last two sentences of #38.

41.

opie

November 19, 2007, 12:03 PM

"Ladies, this artblog reads like a 16 year old private school girl who didn’t get nominated for home coming queen."

That would be "talkin' crap", wouldn't it?

As you correctly point out, we are not in the popularity business. Because this is perhaps the only forum in Miami, or just about anywhere, that calls the emperor naked, it is regularly accused of malicious envy. This has been refuted effectively and often here; most of us are either quite successful at what we do or - as in the case of Jack - not in the art businees at all.

What we do and say is not out of envy but out of our love and respect for art. We don't like the way it is being treated and what is being done in its name, and we are willing to say so. Frankly, anyone who can look at the kind of thing shown at the Whitney Biannual and not be immediately struck by the senseless inanity of most of it is either utterly lacking in any kind of common sense or moving helplessly with the culture crowd. "Fashion Victim" is too kind. Art is not made by or for lemmings. Sorry.

42.

Franklin

November 19, 2007, 12:23 PM

In that case, Victim, stop reading and fuck off. I don't care how this blog reads or how my work looks to people with no taste.

43.

This Lemming Is A Fashion Victim

November 19, 2007, 12:50 PM

I disagree; art is for everyone...including lemmings.

Attacking and criticizing art is welcomed...but thinking you're opinion is far superior to anyone else and branding an audience who truly appreciates a certain type of art "fashion victims," is truly foolish. But hey, that is my opinion....I'm just a lemming and I'm not suppose to understand this great complex thing known as art.

44.

ahab

November 19, 2007, 1:02 PM

Air is for everyone. Art is for those who care for it, and truly caring for it has nothing to do with what everyone else cares for.

45.

Jack

November 19, 2007, 1:15 PM

If Franklin, or anyone, believes and says this:

Rodriguez's work is extremely easy to appreciate because there isn't very much to it: humor and disrespect. The humor is lame, the disrespect is not sincere enough to decline the art system's money and recognition, and the form it takes, when it's not slavishly reworking Bruce Nauman, lacks the urgency that would animate something like this.

then it would follow, quite logically enough, that Franklin, or whoever, would also believe that:

Anybody who thinks his work is good marks himself as an easily amused art-world fashion victim.

The problem here is that Franklin (like the rest of us nasty reprobates regularly do) has actually verbalized his opinion publicly, which is evidently incorrect, and which apparently must be rationalized away, preferably by the most expedient way imaginable: the ever-useful "You're just jealous and/or arrogant" dismissal.

Any artist who in any way criticizes another who is more successful in commercial or establishment terms can always be accused of jealousy or sour grapes. It's the easiest possible way out. Too easy, as it happens.

46.

Chris Rywalt

November 19, 2007, 1:17 PM

I'm thinking anyone who uses the phrase "player hatin'" definitely marks himself as an easily amused art-world fashion victim. Did Franklin review a hip-hop CD? I don't think so.

I'd also like to add, for the record, that I write what I do out of malicious envy. I am not successful at what I do.

47.

opie

November 19, 2007, 1:30 PM

Good for you, Chris. Go get 'em!

48.

Jack

November 19, 2007, 1:39 PM

Well, I suppose I should add, for the record, that I don't write what I do out malicious envy. I'm just malicious. Or traumatized by too much bullshit. Yeah, that's it, Post Bullshit Malice Syndrome (PBMS). Has a nice ring to it.

49.

opie

November 19, 2007, 2:12 PM

Sorry, Victim. Lemmings can't see art. All they can see is the back end of the lemming in front of them. That's where their esthetic comes from.

50.

Just Another Victim aka Run-On-Sentence, Man!

November 19, 2007, 6:15 PM

Wow, what a gang bang... thank you, may I have another.

Opie: The only reason I started with the "ladies" crack was to counter the "Fashion Victim" jab. Your opinion is that we are fashion victims and lemmings, my opinion is that you guys are acting like a bunch of girls. But the fact is, none of you have elevated this discourse to the next level. The minute someone disagreed with your opinion and counter attacked your insult, all of you jumped on me like a bunch of AP honors high school kids.

Frankiln: I never thought a mensch like you would respond to someone's opposing opinion in such a crass manner. If your debate skills tell me anything about your art skills, one can see why you have made a career in academics. As for bad taste, we both know that is a subjective matter and I don't believe anyone has proclaimed you the Taste Master of the art world.

Jack: Your thought process is an excellent example of an ad hominem argument. You see, your quotes are opinions, not facts...which Franklin and crew have every right to voice...but that is where discourse comes to play. Other people will probably have different opinions and if you go off an insult others because they don't share your same opinion rather than debate the issue...well that puts you right next to people like Mao and Fidel Castro. If you want people to see your side of things, persuasion works better than bullying.

Chris: I do appreciate your honesty. Malicious envy is a powerful beast. Good luck with that, but I doubt it will assist you in your art career. I'm sorry if my ebonics or youthful slang caught you off guard. I didn't realize I was talking to an elderly man.


Very disappointing, guys.

I'm glad these folks made it to the Whitney, especially Bert. The kid was born and raised in Miami. I'm personally not a fan, but I appreciate his smart ass art and it is obviously pushing buttons...so it is OK if you hate his work....but attacking an audience because they like his work on the other hand is Bullshit and quite shallow. It is also faulty logic to assume that if someone appreciates Bert's art they must have no taste or have little understanding of art. There is no factual evidence to back it up....hence, your opinion holds no weight.

51.

opie

November 19, 2007, 7:16 PM

There is never factual evidence to back up taste, Victim.
There is no such thing.

But there is such a thing as bad, or inadequate, taste. This, along with other difficult questions ("subjective", for example) has been intelligently worked over at length here on this blog. Go read and learn.

This has been a harsh exchange, to be sure, but it is puzzling to hear someone whining about ad hominum who started out with ad hominum and has done little else since but make increasingly pompous disparaging chracterizations, concluding with the above. Your use of age-related and sex-related innuendo is particularly self-serving and nasty. We were at least attacking the art and the audience, not individuals.

If you want a discussion elevated to some "next level", no one is stopping you. I assure you we can rise to the occasion.

By the way, I don't know Chris, but I am pretty sure he was being tongue in cheek when he made that statement.

52.

opie

November 19, 2007, 7:32 PM

By the way, Victim, though I haven't the time or patience to reread this blog, I think you may also be just plain wrong about "ad hominem" at least when it comes to Jack. He made several hard-ass criticisms, for sure, but only indirectly aimed at any particular person. You turned around and compared him to Mao and Castro.

You are betraying your own case, kiddo. Think about it.

53.

ahab

November 19, 2007, 7:38 PM

Tweet! 49! Illogical double-standard infraction! Two minutes for not allowing anyone else the authority of their own opinion.

54.

ahab

November 19, 2007, 7:40 PM

Video review reveals the offending player was number 50, not 49.

55.

Franklin

November 19, 2007, 7:46 PM

The only reason I started with the "ladies" crack was to counter the "Fashion Victim" jab.

The only reason for the fashion victim jab was to retaliate against A ridgid mind is unable to appreciate Bert's work. Sorry for the bad manners, but just as top-level boxers are careful about who they spar with, I don't favor everyone with a discussion. One major disqualifier is complaining about a tactic and using that tactic simultaneously. Likening people whose opinions you don't share to major 20th Century dictators is not only moronic, it comes up often enough to get its own autoresponse. The purpose of the autoresponses was to cut down on the time I spend suffering fools. A defense of Rodriguez's work may lie in the realm of possibility, but until I see a valid one, I can only conclude that you like things that have nothing to do with art, and therefore your taste is bad.

56.

Still Wondering

November 19, 2007, 8:37 PM

It is amazing how a few well placed stink bombs get this whole blog community buzzing like a hive of angry art hornets.

Bert's work is VERY, VERY good. He rarely misses the mark and delivers the goods. I have good taste. I am a professional, an artist and I appreciate the creative and destructive forces.
The usual suspects that linger here only like painting, C. Greenberg, and the past. Guess what? There are other things in the art world, other ways of seeing and thinking and being successful.

Rigid minds, rigid thoughts, calcify wither die.
Qi Kung and meditation is the remedy. Open your mind to the realization that you may be wrong.It's Okay. Loosen the grip on your hardline opinion of what is good, right, accepted, and established.

"There are other worlds" Sun Ra

Comparing Cordova to Keinholz (#27)is just plain stoopid... Like comparing FE to deKooning or even Cecily Brown. Like a fart from a flea.

Comment number 50 was very accurate.

Opinions are like assholes and this place if full of them.

ppppfffffftttttttt.

57.

Franklin

November 19, 2007, 8:48 PM

It's amazing how a one-sentence crack about art I don't like brings on persistent trolling. As Morrissey says, it only hurts because it's true.

The usual suspects that linger here only like painting, C. Greenberg, and the past.

I've reviewed many other mediums positively, talk about other thinkers besides Greenberg, and admire many things about the present. Cursory reading of my work would reveal as much, but don't let facts get in your way. It would interfere with caricaturing the people who don't share your bad taste in art.

58.

opie

November 19, 2007, 9:23 PM

It never ceases to amaze me how you mainstream trend followers persist in thinking you are up on the barricades fighting the good fight, and something that has been out of fashion and on the defensive for decades is "what is accepted, and established."

Now you are calling us assholes? Take your foul mouth somewhere else, please.

59.

Jack

November 19, 2007, 9:28 PM

Dear Wondering Victim,

Thanks for spelling out the obvious for those readers who might be retarded, but of course what I quoted in #45 are opinions. In a sense, so is all art criticism, and that was my point, which you evidently missed. I was responding to #39, in which you accused Franklin of talking trash, though what you called "trash" was a logical extension (however rude) of Franklin's opinion-criticism of the work of Rodriguez (I don't refer to him as "Bert" because I don't know him personally; I assume you do). Of course different people have different opinions (thanks again on behalf of the retarded), but if one thinks someone else's opinion is full of it, one has the right to (a) say so, and (b) make logical deductions or extrapolations from it. I don't know about you, but most people engage in that general process all the time in all sorts of contexts, not just art. And please, leave dead and foot-in-the-grave tyrants out of this. If you can't resist the temptation of branding me a fascist, just spit it out; no doubt you'll feel better.

As for "debating the issue," that all depends on the issue in question. If someone tells me, as OP has, that he has problems with the work of El Greco, I'll be happy to discuss the matter in great depth and detail. If someone tells me (and means it) that Britto is a wonderful painter, or that your Bert is a "VERY, VERY good artist," I'm sorry, but I don't have that kind of patience, or time. Authoritarian? Arrogant? Feel free to malign me/us as you wish; you will anyway, and it's of no consequence.

Regarding persuading others to "look at things in a different light," I personally don't see that as my responsibility, although those so inclined are free to take it on. I'm here to deal with art on my own terms and call it as I see it, especially when I disagree with the prevailing or "correct" ideology. Precious few people are doing that, regardless of what you think of my particular performance. I'm not a missionary or a motivational speaker or a would-be guru, but I will speak my mind and let the chips fall where they may. Call it a reaction to the all too predominant, ubiquitous and incessant blather of establishment artspeak, which you undoubtedly find considerably more congenial--but that's your game, not mine. Call me a reactionary, too, if it suits you; again, it's of no consequence. Alienated you, have I? Ah, but you have SO many exquisitely pious co-religionists to, uh, validate and reassure you! Why should we wretched or disreputably "elderly" cranks even register in your consciousness? We're not worthy.

You don't really want "factual evidence," or do you actually presume to be able to "prove" with "facts" that your taste is "correct" and ours is not? Yes, it's your opinion against ours. So? We can handle that. The reason you seem to have problems with it would appear to be that what you really want is for us to (a) agree with your crowd, or (b) keep suitably quiet lest we upset or (gasp!) trouble the faithful--you know, the parishioners of the Church of Basel. Thing is, we have our own faith. Deal with it.


P.S. You may wish to reconsider using "acting like a bunch of girls" as a derogatory phrase. I hear that's not PC in your neck of the woods, and you don't need the demerits.

60.

ahab

November 19, 2007, 11:02 PM

You know, Lemming, we do agree on one thing. Your comments (opinions) have definitely been stinky.

61.

The Little Victim That Could

November 20, 2007, 12:04 AM

Is this the O'riley spin zone or what?

FYI, I am not the person who posted 7, 9, 12, 14, 26, and 56.

...for the record, you guys threw the first stone and I threw it back. If you don't think that insulting a group of people is the same as insulting an individual...well then, that is where the malfunction begins.

My bad for being reactionary and feeling insulted. How insensitive of me. No worries, I will never return to your club house, again... My taste is obviously too low brow for the purveyors of good taste.

Jack..
In regards to that PC card you are waving... the same rules apply to those who call people with special needs, "retards". It dosen't sit well with the public, neither do double standards.

62.

Not wondering

November 20, 2007, 5:27 AM

This really is a silly waste of time, yet somehow fun.
Like banging yr head against a rock.

Perhaps this is actually a conceptual art project?

FE may yet be brilliant and will too be selected to represent himself to the world as the worlds' best paintblogger.

opie his lap dog, marc and jack wagging their tails and drooling...what a sad and sorry pathetic bunch of ridgid wasted minds.

touche'

peace out.

63.

Jack

November 20, 2007, 6:04 AM

Re #61: weak. If that's the best you can do, I'm afraid it's "very disappointing." And by the way, there's a slight difference between mentally retarded and "retards," but don't let me stop you from grasping at straws.

Re #62: Possibly weaker; certainly lame. Wit is not your game, so stop straining after it. And if you're going to call people rigid, misspelling it is a tad gauche. Have a nice day.

64.

opie

November 20, 2007, 6:40 AM

In the future when we get this kind of commenting I will restrict my responses entirely to correcting factual errors. Getting into mud-slinging and pissing contests with people like this is demeaning and unproductive.

65.

Eric

November 20, 2007, 6:42 AM

"The first subject matter for painting was animal. Probably the first paint was animal blood. Prior to that, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the first metaphor was animal."

"The pet is either sterilised or sexually isolated, extremely limited in its exercise, deprived of almost all other animal contact, and fed with artificial foods. This is the material process which lies behind the truism that pets come to resemble their masters or mistresses. They are creatures of their owner's way of life."

(John Berger, "About Looking")

66.

been watching

November 20, 2007, 6:43 AM

I heart #58

67.

gagging

November 20, 2007, 7:16 AM

I am not as articulate as many of the posters here, but I have to purge.

The Miami art scene is reflective of the city - shallow, materialistic and one big nodding party.

Undeveloped imposters in the right t-shirt overun, and it is clear by the comments here, who gets invited to the party (or is busy kissing ass to get invited) versus who hold art to a more timeless standard. The path to being a Miami "art-star" seems pretty obvious, be aggressive, kiss the right ass, some ethnic decent helps. Dont worry what you commit to your medium - smear some shit on canvas, stick your dick out a wall - who cares? We'll love you for it, and call you "irreverent". Hell, don’t even make work, just be Haitian.

The saddest aspect of the Whitney choices, is how revealing it was as to the Whitney’s place in the game. It makes all their other shows and exhibitions suspect to me.

I have enjoyed reading the blog here, and it is has been somewhat cathartic to know that somewhere these artists are being held accountable, even if it easy for them to dismiss it as jealousy.

68.

Wondering Again

November 20, 2007, 7:19 AM

It seems as if opie has had a break through moment
comment 64.
good job.

69.

Franklin

November 20, 2007, 8:27 AM

Is this the O'riley spin zone or what?

Autoresponse: Politics.

Clearly, I can do this all day, and so can Victim, but it makes for boring reading after a while, so let me wish you good luck in finding online reading material more amenable to your preferences, and point out that the lengthiest commentary on Rodriguez's work on this thread came from me in #27, leaving my opinion where it was: that it may be possible to attack it without ad hominems, but it's not possible to defend it without them.

Gagging, I sympathize with a lot of #67, but consider that selecting three people at random in Miami is likely to produce two latinos and a Haitian. This particular Haitian I have reviewed positively, albeit a long time ago for work I prefer to his current production. Let's just leave ethnicity out of this. That leaves plenty of art to criticize, which is all that matters to me anyway.

70.

Storto

November 20, 2007, 8:28 AM

Wow. Did I miss anything?

71.

Marc Country

November 20, 2007, 8:58 AM

(wagging tail, drooling...)

Not much real commentary of interest here on your Roundup features, Franklin, so I'll drop another link...

Jerry Saltz: Ladies Man

72.

Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2007, 8:59 AM

In case anyone is still reading this, I'd like to add that I am, in fact, elderly, and not "down with" current slang.

73.

opie

November 20, 2007, 9:39 AM

You know, Marc, I used to think Saltz was pretty sharp. He wrote a couple articles that I put up on a web site run by a friend and colleague.

But lately he just seems floundering, off the wall. As he himself says - contradicting the whole tenor of his essay - there is no place for identity politics in art. And he must know that the reason there are not more women represented in the galleries at MoMA is not because MoMA is sexist but because the world was sexist when Modernism had its run.

I also think there are woman artists who should be represented rather than some of the male artists, but that is because they are better than the male artists. This is not a matter of gender bias but one of not being able to see. That's the big problem at MoMA, and that's what he should be writing about.

74.

Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2007, 10:21 AM

OP sez:
...not because MoMA is sexist but because the world was sexist when Modernism had its run.

I think this is exactly what Jerry is arguing against: Yes, the world was sexist when Modernism had its run (although there are those who'd argue it isn't done yet). But museums like MoMA have the power -- and, I think Jerry's saying, the responsibility -- to reshape that history, to argue with the past, and to come to new conclusions. Like he wrote, museums shouldn't just defend the canon, they should dig into it, question it, and revise it. In other words, MoMA shouldn't just be a building of dusty artifacts memorializing the dead year of 1945; it should be a living institution, constantly seeking to re-explore and revitalize its subject.

Going back and adding in painters who were glossed over the first time around is, I think Jerry is saying, part of their reason for being.

As Alice Neel's Website quotes her: "It is hard to go against the tide of one's time, milieu and position. But at least I have tried to reflect innocently the twentieth century and my feelings and perceptions as a girl and a woman."

And for her efforts and accomplishments, she's still being ignored by MoMA. Seems wrong.

75.

opie

November 20, 2007, 10:39 AM

Yes, Chris. You dig, reconsider and revise. But not in terms of gender or ethnic politics, and that, not the climate during Modernism, is exactly what Saltz was advocating.

I've always though Neel was OK and probably better than some of the males, but not that great.

76.

Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2007, 10:59 AM

I think digging in terms of ethnic or gender politics is fine, as long as you stay open to digging on other terms as well. I mean, it makes sense to me to go back and say, "During the founding years of MoMA, what blinded the collectors and curators to good work being done at the time? How can we correct that oversight now?" Certainly gender and ethnicity were major areas of blindness in America during the mid-20th century.

Of course, you can only correct for what you can detect. Any blindspots we have in common with the past are still going to be unexplored. We can leave that to future generations.

77.

Jack

November 20, 2007, 11:16 AM

Chris, I trust the only oversights you advocate correcting are those in which serious talent was not taken seriously enough, regardless of the reason/s why that happened (which may or may not involve gender, ethnicity or whatever).

78.

opie

November 20, 2007, 11:24 AM

Jack is right, Chris. Correcting must be done in terms of the perceived quality of the work. Correcting past mistakes by making present mistakes is not a solution. Bias for or aganst any gender or ethnicity or personal characteristics has no place in art.

79.

Fred

November 20, 2007, 11:53 AM

This is what Saltz said and what he's asking:

"Ask yourself if hanging any of the following artists would really ruin the narrative espoused by the museum: Barbara Hepworth, Louise Nevelson, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell, Dorthea Rockburne, Yoko Ono, and Florine Stettheimer........Even Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe are missing. There’s no Mary Cassatt......."

80.

Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2007, 12:44 PM

You guys don't really think I'd be posting regularly here if I believed quality wasn't the only real priority in art, do you? Come now.

Jack nails it exactly, and I agree with Fred that that's what Jerry is demanding. Go back, he says, and find the good work that was overlooked because of past bias -- and while you're at it, jettison the bad work that was kept because of past bias.

I don't think Jerry's suggesting we go back and find some artists who happened to paint in the right style at the right time and throw whatever they made up on the wall because we need to balance out the maleness/whiteness/richness/baldness quotient at MoMA.

I think his suggestion is a good one. It would help, I think, keep the future more balanced, too, by "permitting" (culturally) a better balance in the future. I mean, there may be no female counterpart to Beethoven or Mozart, or Picasso or Van Gogh, but that may be because there's so little female history for women to draw on in those areas. Give them a history they can be a part of, and maybe we'll finally get that female Beethoven.

Unless Camille Paglia is right and there are no female geniuses for the same reason there are no female serial killers.

81.

RL

November 20, 2007, 12:44 PM

I was in NY a couple of months ago and I saw several beautiful large Joan Mitchell paintings hanging in the Museum of Modern Art. I can image many will disagree but the whole gender/sexist issue with museums and galleries is mostly a thing of the past I don't see its relevance to today because for me it is really hard to believe that a museum curators will consider gender when looking for art in 2007. I don't see why they would have a reason to do that. Did I just hear a feminists rolling over in her grave? I am no way in saying that because women artist in the past should not be collected in museums today. They should but only on the merit of quality alone and not if they need more "women" artists in them.

82.

opie

November 20, 2007, 12:46 PM

Fred, he also said "...it has become bitterly clear that MoMA’s stubborn unwillingness to integrate more women into these galleries is not only a failure of the imagination and a moral emergency; it amounts to apartheid."

That is a very strong statement indeed, and it is nothing more than calling for a quota based on gender.

Furthermore, "ruin the narrative espoused by the museum" is hardly the point; the point is (or should be) to show the best art, best in the judgement of those making the decisions. Inclusion of the work of some (certainly not all!) of these women would seem reasonable, but this, after all, is a list only of women. Any one of us could assemble a respectable list of men who are also not included.

Gender politics, or any other favoring or excluding of a group, should not be a policy for choosing art in a public institution.

83.

Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2007, 1:05 PM

It seems to me all he's saying is, given the sheer number of quality artists from the modernist period, to have only 3 percent of the works on view be from women is evidence that MoMA is probably still biased against women.

It's funny. Over at Anonymous Female Artist I'm the guy claiming that feminists are nuts.

84.

opie

November 20, 2007, 1:18 PM

Chris, "all he's saying" is all that he said, and he said much more than that. If MoMA is demonstrating bias against women (and I am not saying that they are not) then the way to solve it is to learn to choose art gender-blind.

For example, I cannot imagine a comprehensive display of Impressionists without Mary Cassatt, and I suspect there is some trace of "women just aren't as good" lurking in her exclusion, but what's needed is not some kind of blind quota but a clear understanding that she was a better figure painter than many of her Impressionist contemporaries.

This could be easily accomplished by a case-by-case comparison with available work in the collection. That's what is lacking, not some quota.

85.

Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2007, 1:24 PM

Jerry pretty specifically rejects a quota. What he says is exactly what you're saying: He lists plenty of women with good work which is probably already in MoMA's collection, and suggests that if it isn't, they should go shopping. Which is just what you're saying: Compare the work.

86.

Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2007, 1:39 PM

Although one question I've asked at Anonymous Female Artist is worth considering. Given that we're not going to institute a quota -- which is a bad idea, of course -- how can we tell if an institution isn't being sexist? Or racist or any other kind of -ist. Over at that blog, the question is usually about Chelsea galleries, which are "known" to be biased against female artists (X number of solo shows are by women, where X is a very small percentage, kind of thing). Here we can ask the question about MoMA. But, really, it's a question any time -isms come up: How can we tell?

My thought experiment for the nutjobs goes like this: Assume today, poof, using my magic wand, all gender bias in the art world is gone. What does it look like? What's different from today?

This question isn't easily answered. So probably our current system -- where obvious bias is punished through the legal system or collective action (picketing, boycotts) -- is about as good as we can get, even if it isn't effective against the kind of bias we'd find at MoMA.

87.

opie

November 20, 2007, 1:55 PM

Saying "...Nor am I a quota queen, advocating that women be allotted their 51 percent" is hardly "specifically rejecting a quota".

The piece is jammed with facts and figures and counts and statistics and percentages and words like "apartheid". This is quota talk.

Anyway, emough on Saltz. i gotta go.

88.

Fred

November 20, 2007, 3:17 PM

Re 82 -

Saltz says, "...it has become bitterly clear that MoMA’s stubborn unwillingness to integrate more women into these galleries is not only a failure of the imagination and a moral emergency; it amounts to apartheid."

I do think it represents a failure of the imagination and a kind of moral emergency. If women artists aren't shown to have been part of the history of modern art then they must be part of some other, separate art history. If this separateness only comes down to gender bias then, sorry, it is like an apartheid - strong word, yes, but appropriate.

89.

opie

November 20, 2007, 4:28 PM

OK, Fred, then you think the museum should choose art according to certain characteristics of the person making the art, right?

90.

opie

November 20, 2007, 4:29 PM

(it won't be long until some yahoo comes along to say "opie is against woman artists")

91.

Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2007, 4:50 PM

OP sez:
Saying "...Nor am I a quota queen, advocating that women be allotted their 51 percent" is hardly "specifically rejecting a quota".

Actually, it's doing precisely that. It was you who wrote "'all he's saying' is all that he said". If that's the case, then he definitely does not advocate a quota. Period. Anything else is your supposition, your extrapolation from his actual words.

...words like "apartheid". This is quota talk.

You may think it is, but it isn't necessarily. Given that Jerry rejects quotas earlier, I'd say it's not quota talk at all. One can speak against apartheid -- which is specifically a policy of separating people based on criteria like race or gender -- without demanding a quota. Does South Africa now require a certain percentage of black citizens now that it's demolished apartheid? Is it forcing birth control on whites to maintain equality?

What he's simply saying is that MoMA's selection process for its upper floors is clearly not gender-blind. I'm not sure he advocates any specific solution, other than to say if they keep it up, no one will like MoMA any more.

(it won't be long until some yahoo comes along to say "opie is against woman artists")

Oh, man, OP, you have no fucking idea. Take the comment on PaintersNYC saying "You make chris rywalt look like kate millet" (now I'm an epithet) or this wonderful exchange, taken from the Anonymous Female Artist site.

So be thankful you're here and not there.

92.

Jack

November 20, 2007, 5:15 PM

As long as exclusion or inclusion is based on the quality of the work and not the personal characteristics of the artist, there is no problem. This is not, and should not be, a numbers issue. Either choices are being made based on the right criteria or they're not, but if they are, as they most certainly should be, I don't give a damn about Jerry Saltz's issues, whether they be sincere or conveniently adopted to position himself advantageously.

Stick to the basics, and let the chips fall where they will.

93.

Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2007, 5:22 PM

For what it's worth, I believe Jerry is sincere. The few times I've met him he struck me as a very down to earth, open and generous person. On the other hand, maybe he's just good at faking it.

94.

opie

November 20, 2007, 6:03 PM

It's odd how these blogs go, Chris. I was reading the blog about the Duke Lacrosse players case the other day, kept by the guy who helped expose the DA and shame all the profs who rushed to judgement, and although he proceeds with excruciating caution and justifies everything he says every which way he gets exactly the kind of snarly low-down nasty characterizing we see here - just the same, only the context is different. And a lot of it comes straight from those who were dead wrong and acted badly in the first place.

Now you & I have a disagreement and you could have at any moment started calling me a sexist pig and all the rest but instead you just persisted pushing your case. You are WRONG, of course, but the disagreement was always back and forth on the same playing field.

Why is it so difficult for people to disagree without getting disagreeable? Are there as they say 2 different kinds of people in this world? It really looks like it.

At any rate, I don''t see how anyone could possibly read that Saltz piece and think anything else but that he is calling for a quota, or at least show women artists because they are women until there is an "appropriate" balance, whatever that may be, which is the same thing. He does everything but state it baldly.

I see no hope of convincing you of this, however, so i suppose we should let it go (before you get envious and malicious, fer sure).

95.

Dirk McDoodle

November 20, 2007, 6:30 PM

[This is not a bulletin board. - F.]

96.

Franklin

November 20, 2007, 6:38 PM

If you're trying to figure out whom you've overlooked, there's no harm in seeking out women or Asians or Californians (a favorite concern of Tyler Green's) or anything like that. The only requirement is that once these people are found, they should be compared to the best of the best, not other women, Asians, Californians, etc. It's great to rediscover neglected, good artists. I think the fallacy is thinking that the neglect indicates goodness, or that the artist deserves a lower hurdle because of it. No way.

97.

Fred

November 20, 2007, 6:59 PM

Re #89:

"OK, Fred, then you think the museum should choose art according to certain characteristics of the person making the art, right?

It appears that they do already.

98.

opie

November 20, 2007, 7:05 PM

Nice dodge, Fred, but that is not what I asked you.

That is, unless you are approving of this activity. Is that it?

99.

Jack

November 20, 2007, 7:11 PM

OP, part of the problem is that some people want too much, or want it both ways, or want to have their cake and eat it, too.

Some want the ease, convenience and safety-in-numbers of going with the flow and adopting the prevailing fashion, yet can't handle being called on it, and insist on being not only "right" but somehow morally superior (or something to that effect). It's like, "How dare you question me? Can't you see I'm in with all the top people? You must be jealous or hopelessly out-of-it."

In other words, they not only want to be unequivocally "with-it," they want to be essentially untouchable or beyond reproach, as if that's part of their benefits package for belonging to the right club. They also want to pass themselves off as far more independent and "outside the box" than they actually are, being, after all, firmly entrenched in the prevailing establishment.

100.

Fred

November 20, 2007, 7:21 PM

If a museum of modern art is looking around at art - AND ART ALONE ON ITS MERITS ALONE then how is it that works by so few women show up on its walls?

101.

Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2007, 7:31 PM

OP sez:
Why is it so difficult for people to disagree without getting disagreeable?

I think some people start off disagreeable.

More seriously, I have to admit to asking for it to some degree. I mean, you can't be a middle-aged guy who paints naked women and post on an angry feminist art site and not expect to get set on fire.

It's all primate politics. Humans defend ideological space as fiercely as they do real physical territory. One of the main things that makes us human is that we confuse the symbols for the things they stand for -- as Robert Anton Wilson likes to say (I think he got it from someone else), we confuse the menu with the meal.

Of course, this is also what makes art possible, so we shouldn't complain too much.

102.

Fred

November 20, 2007, 7:50 PM

"Humans defend ideological space as fiercely as they do real physical territory."

Quite true Chris.

103.

Fred

November 20, 2007, 8:01 PM

Sorry, didn't mean to cut out so fast. That is what lends urgency to Saltz's article - it is so blatantly obvious the contributions of certain key women artists are unrepresented.

104.

ahab

November 20, 2007, 8:44 PM

Nice one, MC.

105.

opie

November 20, 2007, 9:24 PM

It really is hard to keep things straight when the people discussing cannot keep things straight. I never said or implied or hinted that MoMA was NOT sexist. They may very well be, but that is beside the point.

What I asked you Fred, was:

"OK, Fred, then you think the museum should choose art according to certain characteristics of the person making the art, right?"

It seems that this is what you and others, including Saltz, believe. If you do, can you please say so, and defend your position? that way we can have a real discussion, if that is possible.

Or else the hell with it, and go on talking to yourself.

106.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 4:41 AM

Opie, I asked you to use your own logic - I repeat - if a museum of modern art is looking around at art - AND ART ALONE ON ITS MERITS ALONE then how is it that widely known contributions by so few women show up on its walls?

If you concluded that the omission of Kahlo, Cassatt and others could only be the result of gender bias, how can that be beside the point?

107.

opie

November 21, 2007, 5:00 AM

Either you cannot comprehend the basic elements of the discussion or you are deliberately evading it. It's like talking to a wall. I give up.

108.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 5:11 AM

ok then.

109.

Chris Rywalt

November 21, 2007, 6:02 AM

OP sez:
OK, Fred, then you think the museum should choose art according to certain characteristics of the person making the art, right?

It seems that this is what you and others, including Saltz, believe.


Jerry and Fred are both saying exactly the opposite, OP. They're saying the museum should stop choosing art according to certain characteristics of the person making the art. Since the museum is clearly choosing men over women.

110.

opie

November 21, 2007, 7:16 AM

Of course. But I was talking about what seemed to be their solution. That's the discussion I have tried to get going, in vain, alas.

111.

opie

November 21, 2007, 7:59 AM

In other words, it is bad when the museum discriminates in a sexist way, but good when they do it in a politically correct way. This at least the subtext if not the avowed recommended procedure of Saltz and many of the bloggers here. I happen to disagree with this, and I was trying to get something going. It has not worked.

112.

Jack

November 21, 2007, 8:49 AM

Given the current climate and the nature of the current art establishment players, who are exquisitely sensitive to image and conforming to the prescribed mode, I simply cannot believe that female artists are being excluded because they're not male. That accusation can certainly be made, just as Franklin can be accused of jealousy whenever he criticizes a currently hot artist, but accusation or suspicion is one thing and reality another.

No artist deserves any special consideration based on personal characteristics apart from the work as such. Period. Either the work is deserving or it isn't. If a certain artist who happens to be female is highly overrated, I have no problem with that artist being put where she really belongs based on her work. Same goes for a male artist, obviously. The fact is, regardless of sex, there are way too many idols with feet of clay all over the place. What's really needed is better discernment, not more political correctness.

113.

Marc Country

November 21, 2007, 9:38 AM

Seriously: How many Barbra Hepworth sculptures does a museum have to have? What's the proper number?

114.

Jack

November 21, 2007, 9:51 AM

Marc, that sounds dangerously close to some Polish joke. Shame on you. We've moved beyond that sort of thing.

115.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 12:14 PM

Re #111:

"In other words, it is bad when the museum discriminates in a sexist way, but good when they do it in a politically correct way. This at least [is] the subtext if not the avowed recommended procedure of Saltz and many of the bloggers here. I happen to disagree with this, and I was trying to get something going. It has not worked."

Your disagreement, then, lies with a subtextual quota phantom. Nobody has written anything like that here.

116.

opie

November 21, 2007, 12:30 PM

That is not true, Fred, but arguing it is hopeless.

Let's try this: Saltz and several bloggers here have made very strong statements about the underrepresentation of women at MoMA. Will you agree to that?

OK. If so, how do you, or how do you suppose they, propose to fix it?

117.

Chris Rywalt

November 21, 2007, 12:48 PM

Well, OP, I thought I pretty clearly addressed that point when I asked what a world free of gender bias would look like. We can't even be sure of that, let alone how to get there. I don't think Jerry proposed a solution, either. I think, like many people, he thinks "we'll know it when we see it." I don't think we will, though, which is why I argue so much about measurements and finish lines.

Jerry probably believes that a gender-blind museum would be obviously so. But it's important to ask: What does a gender-blind museum look like? How can we be sure MoMA isn't gender blind? Maybe the curator(s) really do think they've got the absolute best art up on the walls, and it just so happens none of the artists are female. Whoops!

The thing is, I can agree with Jerry that 3 percent, when we're talking Modernism, seems low. But just because 3 percent is obviously too low doesn't mean we know what's right. Is 51 percent fair? 30 percent? 10 percent? 98 percent?

I don't think anyone can really answer that question. However, I don't think Jerry tried to. I think he said what he said very simply: 3 percent is obviously too low. MoMA needs to improve that or it'll wither away. The end. What's an improvement? Jerry waves his hands at that. He points to some examples he deems fair (some within MoMA), but that's all.

It's a failing of the piece that Jerry doesn't propose a solution, but I forgive him that because I really don't think there is one. It'll be fair when we all think it's fair, and, really, there are some of us who'll never ever think it's fair. I believe it'll work out like this: It'll be fair when a majority of people thinks it's fair, then all of them die off and are replaced by a whole new generation who simply are fair without thinking about it.

Or not.

118.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 12:57 PM

I would take Saltz's advice and ask myself " ... if hanging Barbara Hepworth, Louise Nevelson, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell, Dorthea Rockburne, Yoko Ono, and Florine Stettheimer would really ruin the narrative espoused by the museum ." I'd put up a Frida Kahlo, a Georgia O’Keeffe and a Cassatt or two and then I'd go shopping.

119.

opie

November 21, 2007, 1:10 PM

"fair" has nothing to do with it Chris. "fair" means setting a quota. It means balancing representation in terms of gender rather than quality. I simply do not know why it is so hard to understand that this works both ways and is absolutely unacceptable.

3% seems low, but it is not "obvious". As I said before the modernist era, like all others heretofore, did not encourage women. That means there were far fewer women doing work. This was certainly not "fair", but nevertheless is a fact. You cannot inject inferior work into a collection just to raise percetntages. (can't I please use the word "quota"? if it is too low what is the "right" amnount? 10%? 25% Is this not a "quota". Good grief!)

Thanks, Fred. You have answered my question. You would make choices on the basis of gender.

Would you care to justify this in principle?

120.

Jack

November 21, 2007, 1:20 PM

Nothing should be done by MOMA that is not based on conviction of artistic merit. Numbers and percentages have no place in this. I don't want statisticians making curatorial decisions. I also don't want those decisions made using pop-culture-type criteria, such as "Gee, Frida Kahlo has really become a hot item; they even made a movie about her, so of course we have to cater to that."

I don't know who calls the shots at MOMA, but where's the proof that they're acting out of sexism rather than what they honestly believe to be the best work? The fact that Saltz disagrees with them? Even if their judgment is sincere but mistaken, as may well be the case with a number of male artists (both included and excluded), if they're acting out of artistic conviction, then that's the best that can be expected of them. If their best is not good enough, replace them with better eyes, but don't play a numbers game.

121.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 1:33 PM

Heavy sigh....louder and saggier than yours...
Opie! Leaving out Frida is as much a disservice to Diego as it is to Frida. It's historically inaccurate to leave her work unrepresented and that taints the ideology of all the work on view.

122.

Chris Rywalt

November 21, 2007, 1:38 PM

OP sez:
"fair" has nothing to do with it Chris. "fair" means setting a quota.

I think I see the problem: You've redefined the word "fair" for this discussion. "Fair" doesn't mean a quota at all. Fair means fair. It means applying the same criteria to all comers, not allowing males to get in where females can't, or vice versa. It also means not accepting a crappy Pollock just because it's a Pollock, just to pull out a different example.

Fair, in short, means exactly what you and Jack keep saying, which is that it should be based on merit and merit alone.

That's just like my old high school, Stuyvesant. They give a test to get in. The top X scores on the test get in. Everyone else goes somewhere else. There's no spot on the test for your race, gender, height, weight, grades in junior high, or anything else. Just the test. Get in or don't.

Sadly, there's no definitive test for art. So there will always be people who can argue about bias in the art world. (Although there are people who argue about bias in testing, too.)

I said 3 percent was obviously too low and I think it is. But it's a point that can be argued. Arguing for or against that point, though, says nothing about quotas at all. Even if we agree it is too low, we still haven't said one thing about what to do about it.

Jack, you're right when you say there's no proof MoMA is sexist. I agree with you. I'd say, though, that, given the Modernist period, I'd strongly suspect that a curator would sincerely choose more than 3 percent women artists if they were gender-blind. But maybe not. Maybe they're really being sincere. It's possible. But Modernism isn't like, say, early medieval art where you wouldn't expect women artists.

123.

opie

November 21, 2007, 1:53 PM

Ok Chris, fair is fair. I usually apply the word more to a moral principle than to a qualitative one, but if that is how you want to use it, OK.

Also, saying that 3% seems too low for the reason you give would not lead to considerations of quota. But I strongly maintain that gender-based "quotas" have been the 800 lb. gorilla sitting in the middle of this discussion all along. I just think coming straight out and saying it is something no one wants to admit to.

Fred, Jack brought up Freda, not me. I don't think she is much of an artist, but apparently you would also choose paintings on the basis of what would be fair to other artists who were related. My, this could get complicated!

And "taints the ideology"?? What in the world is that?

124.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 2:24 PM

Actually Saltz brought up Kahlo.

tainted as in corrupt: touched by rot or decay; or archaic

ideology as in the collected ideas and doctrines of modernism which a museum of modern art might claim to represent

125.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 2:50 PM

In other words, by neglecting to exhibit works by women, the museum looks either corrupt or incredibly out of touch. As a result it is less of a museum a little low on product knowledge. Gotta know your product.

126.

ahab

November 21, 2007, 2:56 PM

Isn't it a bit ridiculous to think that equalizing the representation of artists via categories external to the collected art objects themselves would redress social inequities of the past?

127.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 3:23 PM

It's ridiculous to talk about Flaubert without mentioning his friendship with George Sand.

And it's like Saltz said, "Obviously, MoMA can’t invent modern masters and new Cubists. By my count, only about one percent of all the art up to 1970 in MoMA’s Painting and Sculpture Collection is by women. The people who run this institution are earnestly trying to do the right thing; I’m not declaring them sexist bigots. Nor am I a quota queen, advocating that women be allotted their 51 percent: Art history isn’t about fairness. Nevertheless—and this is a vital point—MoMA’s master narrative would not be disrupted if more women were placed on view. In fact, that narrative would come to life in ways it never has before, ways that would be revitalizing, even revolutionary."

128.

ahab

November 21, 2007, 3:44 PM

Who's talking about Flaubert? For Flaubert's writing to be worthwhile it should hit me in the art-plexis whethe I read it next to his complete body of writing and wiki biography, or on an offline library-less island.

Now I'm "talking" about Flaubert, and what do I know about George Sand? Oh, my.

129.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 3:49 PM

Baby steps Ahab. Just put one foot in front of the other.

130.

opie

November 21, 2007, 4:12 PM

"Baby steps" indeed. How pompous can you get?

"It's ridiculous to talk about Flaubert without mentioning his friendship with George Sand."

It is ridicuous to make such a declaration, Fred. Ridiculous on the face of it. Each of us could talk at length about Flaubert without referring to George Sand. They were not Siamese twins. Besides, it is a complete non-sequitur. This is tiresome.

I know what the words "taint" and "ideology" mean, thank you. The construction is silly, overstating something that is not in question, just like Saltz and his proposterous claim that including more women would be "revolutionary". The subject is reltively simple and straightforward and there is no good reason why it cannot be discussed in a simple and straightforward way.

131.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 4:21 PM

Saltz says right here he's not advocating a quota. So I am genuinely wondering why you think he is.

"I’m not declaring them (MOMA) sexist bigots. Nor am I a quota queen, advocating that women be allotted their 51 percent: Art history isn’t about fairness. Nevertheless—and this is a vital point—MoMA’s master narrative would not be disrupted if more women were placed on view. In fact, that narrative would come to life in ways it never has before, ways that would be revitalizing, even revolutionary."

132.

Chris Rywalt

November 21, 2007, 4:21 PM

Including more women wouldn't be revolutionary in a general sense, but it would be a revolutionary way for MoMA to look at Modernism. Maybe. Maybe it'd just be refreshing.

133.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 4:22 PM

Your words:

And "taints the ideology"?? What in the world is that?

134.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 4:24 PM

I mean Opie's words. re my last comment.

I agree with you Chris. I think it would be refreshing.

135.

Jack

November 21, 2007, 4:29 PM

Kahlo's work is either good enough or it isn't, and her connection to Rivera, or anybody else, does not alter that in the least, so it is not a valid basis for either inclusion or exclusion. Her currently high profile, which is based to a very significant extent on personality and/or biographical elements, is also irrelevant in and of itself. I say the exact same thing for Warhol.

Just look at the damn work, period. I personally would question calling her a true Modernist, and even apart from that, I certainly wouldn't call her a major or first-rank artist. Her ranking in the context of Mexican art is a separate matter, but that does not concern me, and it should not concern MoMA.

136.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 4:36 PM

What about Cassatt, Hepworth and the others mentioned by Saltz?

137.

yahoo

November 21, 2007, 6:15 PM

Opie is against women artists!

138.

Fred

November 21, 2007, 7:23 PM

What took you so long?

139.

opie

November 21, 2007, 9:13 PM

Yahoo!

140.

Jack

November 22, 2007, 8:03 PM

Cassatt was good enough for Degas and can hardly be argued against, except that she's essentially a 19th century artist. I certainly don't mean that pejoratively, but she seems a better fit at the National Gallery or the Met.

I'd like to hear what the sculptors here think of Hepworth and Nevelson. Hepworth strikes me as eminently respectable and perfectly safe; she certainly belongs at the Tate. Nevelson overdid the persona angle, which now seems not only excessive and theatrical but cheesy, and this (to me) is distracting in a negative way, which may be unfair. However, it makes one wonder what she was really about, and whether the work was just another form of exhibitionism. In other words, she put herself forward so much that she got between the viewer and the work. That work can seem monomaniacal, especially in large doses, even eccentric (as she evidently was) and fussy, but it is also undeniably elegant and intriguing.

Bourgeois has been extensively discussed here previously, and the consensus (with which I concur) was not favorable. I don't feel like rehashing the details, but Franklin can supply the link. I definitely feel she's overrated, but so are a slew of other "living legends," most of them male.

O'Keeffe is overexposed in an unfortunately trivializing way, and there's something of the persona problem I alluded to with Nevelson, though not as ham-handed and possibly not as much her own doing as that of others (but still annoying: I want the work front and center and the artist in the background). She was at her best within a fairly limited range, but she did quite well with it, though probably too much has been made of its sexual aspects (and heaven knows WAY too much has been made of the psychodrama of Kahlo's life, which all too often resulted in glorified schlock, painting-wise).

Mitchell can work for me, but there's a nagging sense that she was trying too hard to prove she could play the same game the same way as the AbEx boys. There's a certain flashiness or over-emphasis, which can get vaguely vulgar or sloppy and seem superficial, like too much shouting, or writing in all caps. I can't tell how much of the work was really, naturally her and how much was bravado blustering to (over)compensate for the fact she was a "woman painter." I go back and forth over her, but she's definitely not in the same league as a Frankenthaler.

Yoko Ono has no more to offer me than Beuys. The whole Fluxus business is like an embarrassingly bad joke, not to say fraud, and I couldn't care less who disagrees. I wouldn't put her in MoMA or anywhere else--except the trendy celebrity circuit, where she belongs.

Rockburne I've only seen online; I like her well enough, certainly considering current standards, but the work of the last 15 years or so seems something of a decline. Stettheimer I hardly know, but she strikes me as little more than an interesting curiosity.

Basically, Saltz's list is a very uneven or mixed bag, and several of his choices are highly debatable, to say the least. I am definitely not left with a feeling of overwhelming outrage over undeniable injustice. I am, however, left feeling that this looks like suspiciously convenient and self-serving chest-beating on his part. Even if he sincerely believes all these women are neglected major artists, that just tells me he's not a very good critic, which immediately disqualifies him as an authoritative or persuasive voice.

141.

opie

November 22, 2007, 9:29 PM

Well, now that Jack has summarized his opinions, I gues I've got to live up to my reputation.

Hepworth's sculpture is just plain dull, duller than Henry Moore's, pleasant, graceless things whose sole virtue was that they looked just like what modern sculpture should look like. In fact, cartoonists of the time, 40 or 50 years ago, would draw Hepworth-type sculpture to satirize modern art, just as they drew Picassoid distorted faces.

As for Nevelson, I will quote a review: "When I look at the sculptures, unable to perceive any sign of life, I can't help imagining that some wise god of art has taken all the bits and pieces of used Cubism floating around in the art world, sorted them as efficiently as possible and put them in "mothballs", like the Navy does with old vessels. The sculptures are very tidy and nicely put together - enclosed, constrained, static, impassive and dull, like specimen drawers in a natural history museum - and any subversive hint of surface variety is effectively squelched by the uniform black coat of paint."

Bourgeois must be one of the most overrated artists of our time. Most of her stuff is just plain silly. She is to be admired for living so long and for being so productive and for keeping at it, but her work was limp 50 years ago and it still is.

OKeeffe has her moments, but for the most part the paintings are as chilly as their desert surroundings are warm.

Kahlo is a second-rate artist supported by a story.

Mitchell is respectable but she never learned to put a painting together.

Yoko Ono..? Well, Jack said it: it's embarrassing. And Stettheimer is indeed an "interesting curiosity". I am puzzled by her recent resurgence.

Dorothea Rockburne, as Jack said, is pretty good by today's standards. I wouldn't go out of my way to see a show, not any more, at least.

I guess Frankenthaler must be in the exhibit because she is not mentioned. Now there's a woman who went up against the big boys and beat them at their own game, painted masterfully and originally and succeeded in the market.

And if we are looking for a woman who made it in the company of the AE guys how about Grace Hartigan? Not a great painter but a damn good one, at least when she was good, which was often good enough back in her heyday.

The point is that there are literally millions of artists and tens of thousands of professional artists and thousands good (or popular) enough to make a real go of it but there will never be more than a very very few who come to the very top in terms of quality, whatever their gender, color, ethnicity or whatever. Art must be judged by the art, nothing else

142.

hovig

November 23, 2007, 8:08 AM

Nice analyses from Jack and Opie. Saltz continues:

For the hand-wringers who imagine this would trash the canon, I'll note that cramming in 50 more paintings by women would still keep their presence below 16 percent. Of course, if MoMA removed some warhorses like Dine, Gottlieb, and Kitaj at the same time, things could get really interesting.

Does it justify Saltz's essay if he can make the case that lesser men artists are in his opinion displacing better women ones? And do folks agree that the women he named are better than these men?

143.

Marc Country

November 23, 2007, 8:28 AM

Opie nails Hepworth. I'm not saying she's completely useless, but I can't think of any reason why somebody who ISN'T British would care about her work. I don't know Nevelson's 'persona' (fortunately), but her sculptures always seemed to me to leave room for someone else to come along and do them better (some works by Willard Boepple comes to mind...). As for Yoko Ono, I'm sure she's a nice persona, and all, but if she wants to be in the MoMA, she should have to pay admission like everyone else...

144.

opie

November 23, 2007, 9:31 AM

It would justify it in effect, Hovig, because it would amount to an unbiased estimation of quality of work, which is the only permissable method of selection. But it hardly excuses the soapbox tone and unsupportable statements.

I think Dine, in his better moments, is better. Gottlieb is a great and underrated artist and is far better than any of the women he mentioned. Kitaj you can chase me with.

(I'm leaving Cassatt out for now; she certainly more than deserves to be hung with the other Impressionists but as Jack pointed out she is something of a special case for this discussion).

145.

Marc Country

November 23, 2007, 10:11 AM

Opie, can you do me a favour, and give me a link to an image of work by Jim Dine that doesn't make me want to poke my eyes out? That's usually my reaction any time I've seen his work in the flesh...

146.

hovig

November 23, 2007, 11:44 AM

Marc - Without speaking for Opie, Jim Dine's colorful hearts and bathrobes can drive me away too, but I still like some of his b/w prints and drawings (e.g., Bird, Dry-Wall Hammer, Warm Drypoint Robe, Dartmouth Still Life). Maybe it's the engineer in me.

147.

Jack

November 23, 2007, 12:03 PM

I resisted the terms staid, matronly and, especially, dowdy Modernist for Hepworth because I didn't want to be flip with someone who was obviously quite serious and did her best within her capabilities (and of course she's important in the context of Modernism in Britain, hence the Tate reference).

For Marc's benefit, Nevelson tended to come across publicly like she was channeling either Lady Macbeth or Medea, complete with suitably dramatic garb and brooding, glowering expression, enhanced by theatrical poses and lighting when photographed for the art press. I suppose it may have been a Russian thing, but it was still over the top. That's fine in opera, but opera is supposed to be over the top.

Some of her work, like the gold-painted stuff, flirts with kitsch, but I have seen work by her that I liked. However, its obsessive-compulsive Baroque-Cubist mix is admittedly best taken in small doses, and I suppose she could be accused of excessively formal formalism and repetitiveness.

148.

opie

November 23, 2007, 12:53 PM

I like the bathrobes & hearts, Hovig, well, some of the time, anyway, but I agree with you about those prints. Very nice.

I may like Dine more because he always seemed like the only Pop artist with enough talent to make a good picture. Actually Rauschenberg can put a picture together beautifully, but they still seem too thin.

149.

opie

November 23, 2007, 12:55 PM

Marc, I will try. I am not going to defend Dine's work to the last gasp.

150.

Jack

November 23, 2007, 1:00 PM

"Thin" would have been a perfectly apt title for the last Rauschenberg show at MAM here in Miami. Still, I'd take that over the last MAM Rosenquist show, an apt title for which would have been "Ghastly."

151.

opie

November 23, 2007, 1:18 PM

gasp.

Upon thorough investigation on Google Images I have decided not to strike you blind, Marc. Some of the prints are OK, but you are right - the stuff really does not hold up.

152.

Jack

November 23, 2007, 1:31 PM

Well, OP, when somebody gets credit for not being as bad as the rest of his group, that credit can only go so far.

153.

Franklin

November 23, 2007, 2:53 PM

I don't care for Dine much at all except that he had a nice physical way of drawing. Kitaj has always struck me as ambitious and serious without ever making me love his work. Gottlieb I've gone back and forth on. I wrote a paper on Gottlieb in high school and found later on, when I finally got to see some in person, that they looked overly easy, especially if they got too close to a Franz Kline of any significant size, and I don't exactly love Kline either.

My repairs to the canon would be Dzubas and Morris Graves among others.

154.

Jack

November 23, 2007, 4:13 PM

I haven't seen all that much Dzubas, but I've liked all I've seen.

155.

Chris Rywalt

November 23, 2007, 8:25 PM

I think you can actually see the moment this conversation got over my head.

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