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Post #1098 • December 7, 2007, 7:59 AM • 20 Comments

"A long-missing Michelangelo sketch for the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, possibly his last design before his death, has been discovered in the basilica's offices, the Vatican newspaper said today." (AJ)

Haring - Basquiat - Futura 2000 collab discovered behind New York City wall.

ModKix reviews Fragonard at the Clark.

American Elf archives now free.

John Brunner once said, "There are two kinds of fool. One says, 'This is old, and therefore good.' And one says, 'This is new, and therefore better.'" I observe, if not a third sort, a variant of the former: the fool of the first kind, who utters the sentiment of the second. (AJ)

"Some of the regular patrons believe she is a performance artist."

Can I get another shout-out for Karen Wilkin? Yes I can. "I can't think of an art critic whom I admire more, or read more attentively, than Karen Wilkin. Not only does she write about modern art with stylish, jargon-free clarity, but she is immune to the trendiness that is the driving force behind the 'thinking' of so many American critics. Her essays and reviews invariably help me to see the painters about whom she writes with an enhanced clarity that owes nothing to the factitious charms of fashion. Her name figures prominently on the very short list of critics whose books I will buy and read regardless of their subject." - Terry Teachout. (Armavirumque)

Color goes to court. (K)


The Art Newspaper asks the obvious. (AJ)

This James Wolcott review of Gail Pool's Faint Praise is perhaps germane to art, but mostly I wanted to demonstrate that I could defeat TNR's shenanigans that would force the reader to view the article on nine separate screens. (Ease of reading? Hardly. Each clickthrough is another page served for advertisers. There's paying the bills, and then there's selling out the end user, and then there's whoring.)

"You gave up on the Joseph Beuys paint by number?"

Hex color words. Hexplanation. (Reddit)

More geekery: Python, which figures prominently into the production of The Moon Fell On Me, really is this good.

More geekery: pimped-out robots do battle.

More geekery: "This month, Wacom is releasing a 'sketchbook' version of the critically-acclaimed Cintiq drawing tablet. Cintiqs are tablets with built-in LCD screens so you can draw directly on the image."

Department of Skills: Art Tatum plays Dvorak. He even looks at the keyboard occasionally.




December 7, 2007, 8:14 AM

Re the Art Newspaper, when one asks something to which the answer is that obvious, one does not deserve to be given any consideration. BTW, isn't that the freebie promotional rag they give out at fair events?



December 7, 2007, 1:50 PM

The curator of that Fragonard Exhibit is a good "abstract comics" maker, Andre Molotiu. He's organizing an abstract comics anthology for Fantagraphics.

and Fragonard is great.



December 7, 2007, 2:07 PM

Thanks for the tip, W. Here's Blotcomics.



December 7, 2007, 3:02 PM

In answer to Jack, they're a legitimate art news outlet that distributes a feeble promotional rag during the fairs. My man Brett Sokol has checked in with a report of art buyers engaging in behavior that would make sheep feel self-conscious.



December 7, 2007, 3:46 PM

The curator of that Fragonard Exhibit is a good "abstract comics" maker, Andre Molotiu.

I came across his comics when researching the show. He has a blog, I believe, and also participates in some online comics boards. Google the name, you'll find it.

I agree that Fragonard is great. I'd also say that the Clark Art Institute is one of this country's great museums, and that the installation and the catalog are the sort of highly professional productions you'd expect from such an institution. Unfortunately, not all the art is that great. It's an interesting, even adventurous, show, but not a great one. Still, there's some good (even some great) stuff, particularly in the earlier work and the drawings.



December 7, 2007, 5:14 PM

Franklin, that Sokol story is just...sad. I know it's under $2000 per mini-knockoff, and there's far bigger money being flushed down the toilet, but what exactly do these people think they're accomplishing? Any number of hacks could churn these things out, and they're utterly worthless. Why not get a damn giclee, for Pete's sake? It'd be a more faithful copy, if nothing else, and it could even be done at the original size. Unbelievable idiocy.

If these (cough) "collectors" were at all legitimate, they'd be able to get an infinitely more worthwhile piece from a real "emerging" artist for the same money or less, at least a good work on paper. Sheep, you say? Even cows would be blushing.


Daniel birnbaum

December 8, 2007, 8:16 AM

"Richard Prince: Spiritual America" Guggenheim Museum. " It's getting late in America. And this retrospective, organized by Nancy Spector, Showed Prince's notoriously slippery yet spellbinding paintings and photographs to be perfect talismans for the final days of empire."

Artfourm December 2007



December 8, 2007, 6:36 PM

Went to a couple of Baseloid things today. I finally decided to skip the main fair because I'm not paying $30 to get in after my distinctly less-than-great experience last year. I could do the $15 after-5-PM number, but I don't want to feel time pressure, even though I'm pretty sure 3 hours would be plenty to see what would appeal to me. Basically, Basel doesn't need my money, and I don't feel any inclination to add to its take.

Saw NADA (free admission), which pretty much lives up to its acronym. A few things here and there, but very slim pickings. The work that could be classified as painting was almost uniformly lousy, as in embarrassing. Why they even bother with such stuff is mystifying. Maybe they think it's funny or ironic. I was far more struck with the people, as the Art Person contingent was ubiquitous. Of course, that gets old quickly, but there were quite a few remarkable specimens. Imported, no doubt. Walking caricatures galore. Miami still has a good bit of catching up to do.

Art Miami (free pass), which had pretty much hit rock bottom (as in schlock fest), has undergone major surgery. It's mostly safe stuff, but far better than the last few years. Most of the galleries from last year are not there, and the replacements are considerably tonier and blue-chippier. Most unlikely find: a whole booth's worth of paintings by Guy Pene du Bois, more than I'd ever seen. He's not exactly a great artist, but certainly interesting, and I got a kick out of it. Worth a visit.

Tomorrow I may do Scope, which I hear is the best of the lot (I got a free pass, too. Thanks, John). If I go, I'll write a note on it.



December 8, 2007, 10:21 PM

"Guy Pene du Bois"

Not a bad artist at all. At least he could paint.



December 8, 2007, 11:09 PM

I hadn't heard of him. I looked him up. Ouch. He makes Balthus look facile.



December 9, 2007, 6:55 AM

He wasn't bad. Some of his paintings have a Hopperish quality.

Was Balthus distinctly unfacile? I never took his work as facile or otherwise.



December 9, 2007, 7:28 AM

The pieces at Art Miami are some of the best I've seen by him. There's a strange aura to his portraits that's intriguing. It doesn't seem calculated; I think that's just the way they came out.



December 9, 2007, 7:31 AM

I have a high regard for Balthus but in his effort to modernize Piero he can be pretty stiff. I'll defer to Jack's opinion of GPdB until I see some in person.



December 9, 2007, 8:19 AM

I think that "strange aura" Jack is seeing is probably the same thing I perceive.

I don' t think he is all that slick technically, but that can be deceiving too, which I discovered at the big Hopper show - I always thought Hopper was clunky (although I love his paintings) until I got a real close look and saw how deft he was. He is one of those odd painters who looks clunky from viewing distance but not up close.

Du Bois may be similar; I have seen actual paintings by him but never checked them out up close.



December 9, 2007, 10:36 AM

Collaboration? thats hilarious. considering the obvious ability each of those artists, i refuse to believe the wall is nothing more than piss on the wall whilst smoking the drugs. I mean look at that room and look at the examples in the rest of the vid. its obvious they where wasted. Can someone please explain these people think that crap on drywall is worth anything?



December 9, 2007, 11:49 AM

I wrapped up my "Basel experience" today with a trip to Scope. Very nice ambience, like a cleaned-up, sleeker NADA, and the people were generally less cartoonish. Very uptownish.

Unfortunately, it could have been called "House of Tricks." Gimmicks galore, most of them painfully obvious and often crude. Almost everything screaming for attention in highly predictable and ultimately tiresome fashion (which is, of course the height of the current fashion). Evidently, the delusion that attitude and juvenile brashness, if aggressive enough, can compensate for lack of real talent has become endemic. So has the condition of being far too pleased with one's presumed cleverness-hipness-coolness.

Bottom line: Lots of tricks, precious few treats.

The art game better pray that the rich idiots don't find something else to pursue and waste their money on.



December 9, 2007, 4:30 PM

I'm with you Jack!



December 9, 2007, 5:37 PM

In case anybody's listening and even remotely cares, I have a word of practical advice for galleries showing at fairs not strictly intended for the unquestionably rich:

Don't force potential customers to ask for a price. Asking some snotty or weird-looking gallery person (especially a foreign one) "How much is this?" is NOT an appealing task. If you don't want to put up the price next to each piece, have a price list in a clearly marked binder readily accessible to the visitor, or at least have an easily visible sign that says "Price list available upon request." I am certain the current system results in a number of lost sales. Remember, make things as user-friendly as possible (unless, of course, you prefer to be a stupid jerk).



December 9, 2007, 8:25 PM

I almost forgot to thank Alesh, webmaster of Critical Miami blog, for his significant contribution to my NOT going to the main Basel fair, thus saving $15-$30 for something more wortwhile (like my next trip to Utrecht Art Supplies, even though I have no business going there, strictly speaking, but I still like it). His posted photos of "The World's # 1 Art Fair" were so utterly incompatible with such a claim that I had little trouble brushing off the whole business as, essentially, rich-idiot bait.

Alesh, by the way, said that "As always, Scope rocked." This is not exactly in tune with my response to Scope (see #16), but, unlike Alesh, I have no blog and no image to project or protect. He also posted photos from Scope, but they don't do it full justice. His pictures make it look too cute; the effect of the live visit was rather worse (though excessive cuteness was part of the problem).



December 11, 2007, 3:34 AM

Robert Irwin: Primaries and Secondaries
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
Through April 13,2008

..."one of those rare artists who has set the culture on its ear."

"This sweeping survey shows that he's far from out of new ideas, even as it confirms Irwin's standing as one of the greatest living artists."



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