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Writers Who Paint

Post #1087 • November 14, 2007, 11:23 AM • 21 Comments

Andrew Sullivan links to the exhibition at Anita Shapolsky.



Chris Rywalt

November 14, 2007, 1:02 PM

Why Henry Darger? Because he insanely wrote as well as insanely painted? The show looks like it's supposed to be about people we know mostly for their writing (although I know Cocteau more for his films -- and doesn't it just look like he copied one of his friend Pablo's drawings?) who also painted. But who knows Darger for his writing?



November 14, 2007, 9:08 PM

Is this like entertainment celebrities who are "political" and actually expect me to pay them any mind? Uh, thanks, but I don't think so. Stick to your area of actual competence (assuming there is one).



November 15, 2007, 6:26 AM

When you say "Stick to your area of actual competence (assuming there is one)." do you mean that they should not even attempt to work in other mediums if they want to, or do you just object to the theme of the exhibition?



November 15, 2007, 7:38 AM

They can attempt whatever they like. My being interested in it is another matter.



November 15, 2007, 8:51 AM

I don't mind celebrities speaking about politics as long as they make sense and I don't mind writers drawing and painting as long as the work is good, which it looks like these aren't.

Do you think anyone would publish a book of short stories by prominent visual artists? In a way a show like this is can be seen as a reflection of what Franklin wrote about recently - the written consuming the visual. This show says that the qualities that make these writers good can carry over into visual art, which might be true in some cases, but isn't guaranteed at all.

and Darger being included IS crazy itself.



November 15, 2007, 9:04 AM

It's just more bad art hanging on a theme.



November 15, 2007, 9:10 AM

To me this whole phenomena is all about the cult of celebrity. Lou Reed's recent photography exhibition was lauded in the art press, or at least the NYT. It all has to do with the value of a name. Some of the writers in this particular exhibition may not be so well known in this country but you can be sure that the curator tried real hard to get well known writer's work into the exhibition. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, we are living in the age of mixed media. I know many painters who dismiss multi-media work or flat out hate it without even looking at it in person. It takes so long to become a good or great painter that this reaction makes perfect sense.



November 15, 2007, 9:54 AM

"It takes so long to become a good or great painter that this reaction makes perfect sense."

I tried to make this point recently to an audience of largely photo/digital artists recently and almost got lynched.



November 15, 2007, 9:58 AM

Do those ignorant people who wanted to lynch you really think that you could make a decent painting during your first month as a painter the same way you could accidently make a decent or even great digital photograph the first few times you used the digital camera? Puhlease.


Marc Country

November 15, 2007, 10:32 AM

I take it William Blake was busy with other things... lucky, I don't much like his paintings either...



November 15, 2007, 10:38 AM

You should have been these to cover my retreat. I was very circumspect and simply said that a photo takes you halfway there instantly and it takes a long time to get to the point where a painter can make that convincing an image and they immediately translated that into me totally trashing photo & photo digital. The newspaper story covering the event declared that I was "no friend of photography". And this after 25% of the show I had just juried was photo & photo/digital! It was not a great experience. But, then, I should have known better.



November 15, 2007, 11:36 AM

I suppose this is going on a tangent, but regarding #5 above, the point is not just whether or not these celebrity people make sense, but that their politics do not deserve one iota more of attention than those of a cashier at the local supermarket, and do not have one iota more of significance. I am seriously sensitive to people who presume to "advise" me without being asked and with no discernible basis for thinking that highly of their opinion.



November 15, 2007, 11:41 AM

And really, OP, how could you expect any other reaction? I mean, just because you tell the truth, that doesn't mean people will want to hear it, let alone appreciate it. Still, sometimes being "insensitive" is worth the trouble. Heaven knows there's way too much "validation" for the dubious as it is.



November 15, 2007, 1:44 PM

To continue tangent: You're right Jack, famous folks are no better at big thinking than anyone else, they just have a louder megaphone.


Marc Country

November 15, 2007, 4:43 PM

Then again, it's entirely plausible to think that there might be some intelligent, wealthy celebrities who are concerned and active citizens, who have the luxury of time and resources to use educating themselves on certain political matters, as well as the luxury of time to spend expressing their thoughts. Luxuries not every cashier can boast. Fame doesn't exactly disqualify you from having an informed opinion, either.



November 15, 2007, 5:27 PM

You're not getting my point, Marc, but never mind. I have serious celebrity issues, starting with the completely ludicrous and exceedingly embarrassing amount of attention they get, even though the vast majority of them are of little or no use, certainly to me, and definitely not necessary (except to those who make money off them).

When you add to that presumptuous delusions of importance, as in, "You really should listen to me, because I'm really famous, which automatically makes my opinion somehow special and qualifies me as a credible spokesperson for whatever strikes my fancy," I start getting really nasty thoughts. As in, "Go talk to your agent, adopt yet another baby, or change sexual partners again, but get the hell out of my face unless you have something for me that I actually want."

OK, that feels better.



November 15, 2007, 6:42 PM

I don't mean to be a sycophant but bravo Jack! I am laughing until I cry.



November 15, 2007, 7:09 PM

Actually, Eric, I could probably use the odd sycophant or two. I hear they're very nice, at least if one can manage to believe they're on the level, and that appears to be quite manageable. It certainly happens often enough.



November 15, 2007, 7:56 PM

I hate to lie Jack but after I had a painful falling out with an old painter friend today I decided to give up on being a sycophant for as long as I can, unless of course I am required to kiss ass in order to keep my job. I was only trying to point out how painfully honest your comment was.



November 15, 2007, 8:17 PM

You are not a sycophant in this case, Eric. You are not trying to curry favor with Jack. You are only an admirer.



November 20, 2007, 2:49 PM

I'd like to offer up Patrick Woodroffe as an artist we deal with who is emminently capable of both painting and writing. We sell his work here
but our information site is what I have put in the link because we run an art blog there that you might also like to comment on. Patrick Woodroffe is quite simply a staggering genius. The small detail in his painting has to be seen to be believed (and I speak from experience!)and then you find out that he had practically zero formal training. In terms of writing he speaks French and German fluently although he writes in English. His stories are surreal fantasies for the most part that are a perfect complement to his paintings (or is it the other way round?). Is he a painter who writes or a writer who paints? Hard to tell really since he is so capable on both counts.



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