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Post #1127 • February 19, 2008, 7:40 AM • 99 Comments

New at The Moon Fell On Me. Just so you don't have to look it up, the asthenosphere is the molten layer under the earth's crust.

Update: working on commenting problem. Fixed.




February 20, 2008, 9:01 PM

I hate looking up a word in the dictionary when I've read it in a comic, so I'm grateful for the preemptive definition of 'asthenosphere'. Otherwise I could quibble with the poesy of 'inexorable'; or maybe it's 'huge and' that I'd do away with.

However, a very much improved use of the text-image. I almost wish a letter of advert had shown up on the sides of those far-away semi-trailer mirages, as a visual hint of the widely scaled imagery.



February 21, 2008, 9:55 AM

It's OK, Ahab. The dictionary is you friend. It's too bad more people don't consult it more often.



February 22, 2008, 6:24 AM

As usual, really good.

The long "panels" mimic the trucks, but also imply motion and the weird parallax landscape form the side of a highway-driving car. Even the scrolling action needed to read the piece underscores that.

As for athenosphere, I get why you used it - it works nice next to asphalt. Mantle wouldn't have hit the mark aesthetically, though it would have been easier to decipher. I'm glad you went for beauty over legibility.

I've been thinking about this series as a whole and I keep remembering the travelogue/poetry of Basho. I have a book "Narrow Road to the Interior" where Basho (1644-1694) writes a prose travelogue that has evocative haiku sprinkled throughout. He uses prose to tell the facts and the poetry to evoke moments and mood.

Your series reminds me of that - a trip processed through poetry and painting.

One other thing - you know your eyes are wide open when you can find beauty in an Illinois highway full of trucks.


Oriane Stender

February 22, 2008, 8:54 AM

As a newcomer (and with a feeling that you could use a little new blood here), I have a request. Maybe you all know who everyone is in this old boys' club, but while slogging through that long conversation in the comments after "the market for serious work" post, in which people occasionally referred to their own work, I started wondering who you guys are. If George or Opie, or anyone else, is talking about their work being in such and such collection, can you identify yourselves so we can see the work in question? Even if you don't have an image or a website, we can google-image you and find something. (I don't have a website, but I am googlable.)

I have nothing against people maintaining anonymity on the internet, but it seems like you all know each others' identities so you're only remaining anonymous to the newcomers. Is this your intent? Because if it is, you might as well just keep drinking and arguing around the table at the Cedar Bar about the proper interpretation of the works of Saint Clem. If you want to invite anyone new into the Club (and I realize that you might not want to), perhaps a few introductions are in order.

Just a thought.



February 22, 2008, 9:43 AM

Greenberg was not a saint, and not even his most ardent supporters would make such a claim, even though quite a few of his detractors seem only too eager to paint him as a devil. Referring to him as "Saint Clem" can only be taken as a derogatory jab at him and/or those who value his work as a critic, such as the "old boys" who frequent Artblog. It is hardly likely to induce the "boys" to even consider obliging the jabber.



February 22, 2008, 10:31 AM

I know Franklin and Jack and Catfish. I know the identities of Marc and Ahab but I have never met them. I met George once. I don't know X, 1, Chris, WWC, EC, Pi6, or Eric (although I believe he may have identified himself at some point), all of whom were on that thread, and I don't think I know any other regular commenters.

The reasons for anonymity are clear and good. It creates an environment where opinion is forced to count as opinion as such, to be criticised as such, without the inevitable "political" baggage identification of a personality carries. It also frees individuals to voice unpopular (and sometimes vile and offensive) opinions which certainly would be otherwise inhibited and left unexpressed.

It is interesting how readily people take umbrage, or at least become defensive, when faced with this kind of collection of individual voices with similar and strongly held opinion. This is what provokes comments like "Saint Clem"; mild as that is, it is an indicator of of this attitude. If we were extolling Jesus, Queen Elizabeth, Mahatma Gandhi or even Rush Limbaugh or Hillary Clinton or even Arthur C. Danto (perish the thought!) or defending animal rights or the sanctity of motherhood or global warming or strip mining or even (once again perish the thought) neo-nazism we would not have this particular reaction. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it is consistently the same, every time.

Back when I started to comment here, a couple of years ago, we had what amounted to violent disagreement. It was the blog equivalent of yelling and screaming, and it was great fun. There were at least a half dozen opponents who put up their dukes at every opportunity. The problem was that in the long run they were unable to hold up their end of the debate. Time after time their facts were shown to be specious and their arguments illogical, and sonner or later they just drifted away, muttering about closed minds. Believe me, we are ready and willing to take on that vast mainstream artworld out there that disagrees with us. Where are they?

You don't need to have faces and biographies to engage in a lively discussion here, Oriane. Words will do. We welcome everything as long as it follows the guidelines.



February 22, 2008, 10:49 AM

Orieane, I'd suggest that you just relax and say what you have to say and see how it goes for you.

I've been impressed by Barack Obama's capacity to learn from those who criticize him. He apparently takes careful stock of their remarks and when they are valid, he adds whatever it takes to address the problem to his message. He does not insist that his critics alter their own position, he just uses their insights to better his own. It has had a profound effect on his campaign's outcomes.

Obama's political practice is analagous to that of what I call the "ambitious artist", an artist who will do anything to get better. Accepting and acting on negatives is probably the most difficult thing for artists to do. Almost as hard is separating the valid negatives from the rest. You need to be able to do both and if you can, it can be very helpful.



February 22, 2008, 11:48 AM

Opie -

You said 'It is interesting how readily people take umbrage, or at least become defensive, when faced with this kind of collection of individual voices with similar and strongly held opinion. This is what provokes comments like "Saint Clem"'

I don't take umbrage and I don't believe I'm being defensive in referring to St. Clem. It was a just a tiny poke at how seriously wrapped up you guys are in the AbEx mythology and its chief architect and tastemaker. All of which happened before many of us were born. And I don't mean to imply that old=bad and new=good. It's just that I imagine people have been having this discussion for the last 50 years or so and I wondered if anyone was interested in taking up a new topic once in a while. But there are plenty of other conversations going on, so if I'm not completely enthralled, I can go elsewhere. No offense intended and none taken.

And the question of individuals' identities was just one of curiosity. If you're artists, it's more interesting to me to listen to your words if I know a little of your (art)work. It adds another dimension to the dialogue. But like we say back home, it's all good.

Ciao belli,




February 22, 2008, 12:28 PM

There is no evidence that I can think of that we are "wrapped up in abex mythology", whatever that is. Can you give me an example?

Greenberg was not a "chief architect and tastemaker". That is what people have made of it, perhaps, but it is dead wrong and factually unsupportable. All he did is report on the art and make judgements. You should really investigate the period a little more thoroughly.

I can't think of anyone having "this discussion". Seems to me we are the only ones.



February 22, 2008, 12:47 PM

Opie, I don't want to argue with you about this, because I have no strong position on it. I can't give you an example (that you're wrapped up in ...) because it's just my impression, not a provable fact. Oh wait, maybe I can. Why does Jack get his knickers in a twist about me saying "St. Clem"? You guys tease each other all the time, but this tweaking of Clem is beyond the pale? And of course you're right, no one else is having this exact same conversation. I didn't mean it quite that literally. But I don't want to offend anyone further. I'm not criticizing you, so you don't have to defend yourselves.

I do know a bit about the period, probably not as much as you, but I can live with that.



February 22, 2008, 1:18 PM

I am not in the least "offended", Oriane. I was brought up in an environment where people were happy to have strong differences of opinion, argue about them and not take it personally. Times have changed.

Yes, it is your impression. That's why you might want to reflect on a statement, like the one about Greenberg, before making it.

Jack can speak for himself. I will say, however, that those of us who knew and admired Greenberg may, after 40 years of Clem-bashing by virtually the entire art world and 3 utterly scurrilous recent books about him, be excused for some sensitivity on the subject.



February 22, 2008, 1:57 PM

I can indeed speak for myself, but, in this instance, the last paragraph of #11 saves me the trouble.



February 22, 2008, 3:00 PM

oriane's comments about clem and ab-ex and all the rest stem from the hackneyed propaganda that backs the mainstream 'alternative'. the 'alternative', a strategic construct in itself, needs a villified tyrant kingmaker in order to sustain the critique. it is just so sad how uninformed and insipid the bashing becomes. the whole thing is a hoax. Greenberg, dust yo' shoulders off!

why not Sister Warhol? Reverend Schnabel? Archbishop Perceptual of the Conceptual? cuz it won't wash. everything slides on down the drain but clem's insight remains. he is that big. he gets labeled simply because they can. what he saw and did and said is warped by ignorance. that is the real myth, oriane. and i'm not an 'old boy', but i am thankful there's still some of 'em kickin' round.



February 22, 2008, 3:41 PM

Alright, hold on here.

"oriane's comments about clem and ab-ex and all the rest stem from the hackneyed propaganda that backs the mainstream 'alternative'. the 'alternative', a strategic construct in itself, needs a villified tyrant kingmaker in order to sustain the critique. it is just so sad how uninformed and insipid the bashing becomes."

My comments do not stem from any hackneyed propaganda. And I'm not doing any bashing or vilifying. I didn't actually say anything about Clem other than that you guys are "seriously wrapped up" in him. And your overboard reaction kind of proves my point. You treat him like a sacred cow, hence my use of "St. Clem". And it sounds like you're doing a little uninformed bashing yourself. I'm not generally considered insipid. But I'm not really arguing a point here; I was just making an observation about the insular nature of your conversation. And commenting that if you continue in this vein, very few people are going to be inspired to join you because we've heard it before. Just thought you might want to know that from an outside observer. But it's fine with me. I can go find my own clubhouse(s).



February 22, 2008, 3:50 PM

My name is Eric Gelber and I am forty years old. I don't care about anonymity, but I respect people who do care about it. This is a blog. That means words are paramount, not promoting ones burgeoning or not so burgeoning art career. Why does anyone feel the need to know what an individual blogger's artistic output looks like? Would it make it easier to mock or dismiss the someone who you didn't have a chance in hell of besting in an argument or debate? Feel free to take a look at my blog. There are a few examples of drawings there but nothing that remotely represents all that I have done through the years, paintings and drawings. A good blog welcomes argument, disagreement, verbal and mental sparring. This blog does that. Most blogs, over 90% I guess, are nothing more than

Franklin cares about art a lot and has thought through his beliefs about art in great detail through the years. If that does not satisfy your criteria for what makes a good art blogger than you should withhold comments and snicker in front of your computer in complete privacy. Greenberg was a better writer and thinker than Saltz, et. al. The et. al. represents all living and currently deified art critics who write for periodicals. I am an art critic and Greenberg is way better than me. If you went back and read the stuff, at least volumes one and two of his collected works, or the collection called "Art and Culture", you would see what I mean. If you disagree with me after actually reading the stuff that is fine. I don't give a turd. Present your arguments and see what the rest of us can come up with.



February 22, 2008, 4:00 PM

nothing you've said translates into any sort of reckoning with the man or the art or the writing. 'St. Clem"??!! it's only been used a million times. always in the perjorative. it means nothing. you are not owning up to your own judgements. 'wrapped up in', 'insular', these are judgements. take it from me, a basher of sorts not too long ago, if you are REALLY interested (i mean really, otherwise you're wasting your own time first) you better come with something better than the typical shallow take that market driven theory trades in. i mean, it's just warmed over academic opinion. 'St. Clem' originates out of the same naive grievances i heard ad infinitum from the 'authorities' while i was in art school too. and so you absorb it cuz it's an opinion that's tailored to fit the scene. same as all the rest. the point is, there is the real greenberg, the one you whose huge body of thought you might start reading and then try to fire off flippant comments about or there's 'St. Clem', whom everyone assumes artists just blindly buy into. that's junk. and everybody here knows it. that's the only thing insular going on here. that and an interest in the visual. an interest that greenberg low and behold, happened to share.



February 22, 2008, 4:04 PM

Um, everyone? I had dinner with Orianne, Pretty Lady, and Chris Rywalt back in January. Let's give her a warm welcome.



February 22, 2008, 4:12 PM

i am not saying your comments are insipid, you really haven't said that much. i do think they are symptomatic of a larger apparatus that uses a simplified propagandistic version of greenberg to support its claims. opie already pointed this out. the claims are just unsupportable. unless one chooses to remain ignorant of the real deal and then try to sound off like you've actually taken a look or a read.



February 22, 2008, 4:13 PM

welcome, oriane.



February 22, 2008, 4:17 PM

Oriane, if you will, after all the snarling and growling of this pack of defensive Clem-lovers (myself included, of course), just enter into the conversation with any kind of comment or question that is free from suggestive caustic overtones and I am sure everyone will calm down.

If you like, you can say "Clement Greenberg was a lousy critic and a son-of-a-bitch" or "Abstract Expressionism was nothing but a bunch of wannabe failures" or anything like that. These would be straightforward presentations of opinion. Just be prepared to back them up, and we will discuss it. (I am not implying that you want to say these things, just giving an extreme example for the sake of argument).

You see, everyone has "impressions". They are knee-jerk, universal, all the same, everywhere; unformed and uninformed, as are most impressions. We have heard them and their accompanying sarcasm a thousand times and, as you have seen, are sick and tired of it.

So you got a deafening overreaction. Call it hazing. Let's get past it, and join the "club". We could use some intelligent opposition (we are in desperate need of it, in fact), or agreement, or whatever you please.



February 22, 2008, 4:57 PM

Thank you Franklin.

You guys are bit tetchy.


"Would it make it easier to mock or dismiss the someone who you didn't have a chance in hell of besting in an argument or debate?"

I am neither mocking nor dismissing anyone.

If that does not satisfy your criteria for what makes a good art blogger than you should withhold comments and snicker in front of your computer in complete privacy.

I never said a word about Franklin's artblogging abilities and I'm not snickering at anyone.

Mr. X,

"you better come with something better than the typical shallow take that market driven theory trades in. i mean, it's just warmed over academic opinion."

I don't partake of "market driven theory" and am not an academic. I hated almost every minute of art school and did not "absorb it cuz it's an opinion that's tailored to fit the scene. same as all the rest." You're making a lot of assumptions there.


"You see, everyone has "impressions". They are knee-jerk, universal, all the same, everywhere; unformed and uninformed, as are most impressions. We have heard them and their accompanying sarcasm a thousand times and, as you have seen, are sick and tired of it."

So you got a deafening overreaction. Call it hazing. Let's get past it, and join the "club". We could use some intelligent opposition (we are in desperate need of it, in fact), or agreement, or whatever you please.

Well, thanks all the same, but I think I'll keep my impressions to myself for a while. I'm not big on joining clubs that subject one to a hazing ritual first. Like fraternities. Based on everyone's reactions, I don't think you guys actually want any new members.



February 22, 2008, 4:59 PM

With reference to the club thingy...I don't know anyone here. I will never meet them in person. I write about all sorts of art. However, I really like the writings of Greenberg, Rosenberg, and Steinberg. A conspiracy of Bergs if you will. I like painting. I like making them, thinking about them, and writing about them. That is why I visit here. My critical interests tend to be more generous than the regulars around here but that doesn't mean I can't be intrigued or entertained by the banter. I am not great at debating or arguing so I tend to shy away from that sort of thing. Although, I do agreee that we need a lot more of it in the art world. Back in the fifities and sixties everyone argued about everything. Nowadays, the biggest concern is networking and careerism. My opinions surface in the reviews I write. Barely anyone reads my blog or my reviews. I read art blogs because it is a way to stay in touch with artists, and people in the art business. I live in the sticks. I do not have a dealer and I do not show my work in a galerry. I have made paintings and drawings for years. I never socialize with artists. I don't go to openings. I have never written about any artists I know personally. So I am not part of any club and I want to keep it that way. I don't remember getting a nice warm fuzzy welcome when I started visiting this blog. In fact, I got bothered by the tone of the commenters pretty quickly, but I got over it because I don't take this shit personally. Franklin seems to like you. He met you in person and said that you are a pretty lady. Franklin is going to determine the initial direction of the conversations around here, but as a commenter, you are free to take them in any direction you please.



February 22, 2008, 5:33 PM

It was not a "ritual" Oriane; calling it "hazinf" was just an off-hand characterization of an impromptu reaction, meant humorously.

Of course we want more people commenting, and more lively discussion, and more disagreement. Why would we have reacted to you in the first place?

If you don't want to participate that's up to you. But as far as I'm concerned the more the merrier.



February 22, 2008, 5:45 PM

Thank you for the welcome, Opie. If I feel moved to comment I will do so. And Eric, while I'm certainly a babe, I believe Franklin was referring to the blogger known as Pretty Lady, who was also present at dinner. (And, not that I want to prolong this interaction, but Eric, if you are forty years old, I gather that you did not partake firsthand in the hearty discussion and healthy disagreement of the 50's and 60's. On the other hand, a two-year-old can disagree pretty vigorously.)



February 22, 2008, 5:53 PM

I have two sons, a four year old and 1.5 year old. With regards to their ability to argue and complain all I can say is...ARGH! (Interaction terminated as far as I am concerned)



February 22, 2008, 7:32 PM

Well that was like a first try at yoga. Awkward and painful.



February 22, 2008, 8:30 PM

So Franklin had dinner with 2 babes. Hmm.



February 22, 2008, 8:33 PM

Three if you count Chris.



February 22, 2008, 10:20 PM

i tend to take shots at greenberg - innocent or not - for shots at the art he supported. because all he really did was describe what he saw.

part of why i think he is important is because he was able to provide a rigorous analog for work whose content is essentially non-verbal. this kind of work is hardly flourishing but it is still being made - hence i take all this pretty seriously. i like to use my brain to think about art as much as the next. greenberg AND some others provide the only reasonable evaluation of what has been achieved through modernism. note i say reasonable. it takes the art on its own terms. it doesn't try to displace and impose its own content. this is an extremely tall order, if the goal is to adequately encapsulate the significance of an aesthetic that does not submit to the verbal.

the darby bannard archive, maintained by Franklin, is one of the best places one can visit for straight talk about art that makes sense to a certain kind of artist. bannard's excellent analysis of cubism on through to late 60's abstract painting would not be possible without greenberg.



February 22, 2008, 10:22 PM

greenberg's work is not an analog for anything. sorry for my clumsiness.



February 23, 2008, 10:53 AM

It may be worth noting that people thoroughly disgusted and fed up with the same establishment or milieu that has long demonized Greenberg are highly likely to respond negatively to anyone or anything that even slightly gives off a whiff of said milieu. In other words, it's not so much a Greenberg thing, but a kind of allergic response triggered by a jab at Greenberg and/or his admirers. And yes, if you know I'm allergic to seafood and you slip some shrimp bits into my food, I'm going to be pissed off and you will hear about it.



February 23, 2008, 2:06 PM

In the broader scheme of things Greenberg is really just a focus point of certain virtues that fewer and fewer people in the art world subscribe to, notably the very high value our culture has traditionally placed on art as a repository of exalted human feeling and the value of honest straightforward, intelligent reporting on and discussion of the experience of this feeling through art.

These characteristis are being deliberately and brutally exterminated from our art culture by a kind of doctrinaire zealotry of the literal which insists that the entire function of art is that which can be forced into verbal explication. These people are fanatic and they are legion; they prevail almost utterly in academia. They are killing art. Students who have "old fashioned" ideas about what art is and does are literally brainwashed; if they persist in their beliefs they suffer bad grades. I have spoken to students in my school and others who actually have no idea of the "esthetic"; sometimes when they are introduced to it they even think of it as "an interesting new idea"!

It is the intellectual equivalent of book burning, destroying tha rain forest, or what have you. The destruction of a habitat. It is about time we stop thinking that we are defending some kind of "status quo" which is under attack and realize that we are a beseiged minority under threat of extinction. To hell with being on the defensive. It is time to become revolutionaries.



February 23, 2008, 3:09 PM

It's not a matter of being on the defensive, but of absolutely refusing to condone or put up with what one finds offensive. The establishment and its adherents are remarkably arrogant or insecure or both, which is why any serious dissent or opposition is treated as a dangerous heresy, with practically medieval fervor. I'm sorry, but I'm not about to hold my tongue or be diplomatic or tolerate what I find unworthy of respect. Bullshit should be treated as such. We've had more than enough.



February 23, 2008, 3:17 PM

Brilliant statement of the situation, opie (#32).

Revolutions can't occur unless a critical mass of "people" are very unhappy with those in control. Do you know where they are?



February 23, 2008, 3:45 PM

Well, Catfish, some of them are obviously here, which is one reason I bristle at the periodic calls for us to tone it down, or mind our language, or change our tune. We may not make much of a difference in the big scheme of things, but at the very least we have the right, if not the obligation, to call it precisely as we see it regardless of who does or doesn't like it. "Proper" art blogs are a dime a dozen, so those who find us "improper" can easily find a more congenial environment.



February 23, 2008, 4:19 PM

It is more a matter of motivation than location, Catfish. They are everywhere, everywhere there are great artists or good artists or mediocre artists who have a feeling that art really means something in life more than a cold politically correct instructional label full of stale academic jargon.

They are usually nice folks who do their best and tend to their lives and don't rock the boat. I'm saying that boat needs to get rocked, but I certainly don't know how to get them to rock it.



February 23, 2008, 4:22 PM

thanks opie.

and i apologize for sounding like a zealot. i just really resent the way greenberg's name functions on a shorthand level.



February 23, 2008, 4:50 PM

We need a Che-style t-shirt with Greenberg on it. Viva Looking!



February 23, 2008, 5:10 PM

so write a manifesto



February 23, 2008, 5:53 PM

I'm working on it.



February 23, 2008, 8:06 PM

Me too. It ain't easy,



February 23, 2008, 8:20 PM

We don't need a manifesto. That's for political types or would-be redeemers of mankind, like the Italian Futurists of the early 1900s. Besides, George was being snide, or usefully useless (according to Catfish). What we need is a return to common sense, which evidently is anything but common.



February 23, 2008, 8:40 PM

I wasn’t being snide.

OP used the term "revolution"

Revolutions have manifesto’s.

Writing a manifesto takes balls.

We’ll see..



February 23, 2008, 8:48 PM

Motivation opie, true, it is very important. But a location of "everywhere" doesn't jive well with the history of artistic movements. History suggests there needs to be a group of good (we can get that), motivated (I'm not as sure about that, it might be doable, but as you say everyone is too nice) artists who are located close enough to feed off themselves. I don't know if email, blogs, and JPEGs are up to the task of furnishing the fertile location, or rather, location that becomes fertile because of what else is there. The "niceness" seems to be a function of isolation. When you are constantly alone, you don't put up your dukes as readily as when you're part of a gang, even a minority gang.

Jack's strategy works well for an individual collector and/or art lover.

There is no need for a manifesto. But a list of words to be banned from critical commentary might be nice: "issues", "critique of", "narrativity", "experimenting", "explores", and "cutting edge" would be good ones to start with.



February 23, 2008, 8:51 PM

George: the manifesto is so last century ... so beginning of last century. I'm surprised you give it any respect.



February 23, 2008, 8:55 PM

re #45: Catfish,

Everything I write is a manifesto. :-)



February 23, 2008, 9:25 PM

Catfish I turn on NPR every morning when I drive to work and see if I can get out of the driveway before the word "issues" comes up.

My writing students are not allowed to say "explore" unless they are reporting on an arctic expedition. They use it anyway.



February 23, 2008, 9:46 PM

You need a longer driveway, opie.


Marc Country

February 24, 2008, 12:03 AM

Re #4:

I too was a newcomer, once, not so long ago...

I don't know who everyone is, except for Franklin, of course, and one or two others... but, that's ok... Jack is, um, Jack, as far as I can tell. As you can see, I'm Marc Country, but, if you switch the letters around, does it really make any difference? Either we agree with what we type here, or we don't... whatevs...

I must admit, I've referred to Greenberg as St. Clem, sure... but only because of the irony... he's invoked as some kind of "Pope of Modernism" by folks who want to dismiss him as a demagogue, to which I say... Hell yeaah!! Heez mah gawd (worship, worship) !

So, unless you've got your tongue jammed in your cheek, then such talk comes off as a common, mindless slur to those who know better...

Seriously, though... Oriane sounds made up...



February 24, 2008, 5:20 AM

Re #43, George, writing a manifesto takes pen and paper, or PC and keyboard. Balls are entirely optional (besides, how chauvinistic of you).

And yes, Catfish, I think I have a good strategy. The problem is I'm not exactly typical. Why I'm not more typical defies logic, but logic is incompatible with fashion and not supportive of delusion, both of which appear to be the order of the day.



February 24, 2008, 6:04 AM

Writing a manifesto, It ain't easy

This is true, you need to be able to state your position.

"The cry of rebellion which we utter associates our ideals with those of the Futurist poets. These ideals were not invented by some aesthetic clique. They are an expression of a violent desire which boils in the veins of every creative artist today.

We will fight with all our might the fanatical, senseless and snobbish religion of the past, a religion encouraged by the vicious existence of museums. We rebel against that spineless worshipping of old canvases, old statues and old bric-a-brac, against everything which is filthy and worm-ridden and corroded by time. We consider the habitual contempt for everything which is young, new and burning with life to be unjust and even criminal.

Comrades, we tell you now that the triumphant progress of science makes profound changes in humanity inevitable, changes which are hacking an abyss between those docile slaves of past tradition and us free moderns, who are confident in the radiant splendor of our future.

We are sickened by the foul laziness of artists, who, ever since the sixteenth century, have endlessly exploited the glories of the ancient Romans.

In the eyes of other countries, Italy is still a land of the dead, a vast Pompeii, whit with sepulchres. But Italy is being reborn. Its political resurgence will be followed by a cultural resurgence. In the land inhabited by the illiterate peasant, schools will be set up; in the land where doing nothing in the sun was the only available profession, millions of machines are already roaring; in the land where traditional aesthetics reigned supreme, new flights of artistic inspiration are emerging and dazzling the world with their brilliance.

Living art draws its life from the surrounding environment. Our forebears drew their artistic inspiration from a religious atmosphere which fed their souls; in the same way we must breathe in the tangible miracles of contemporary life—the iron network of speedy communications which envelops the earth, the transatlantic liners, the dreadnoughts, those marvelous flights which furrow our skies, the profound courage of our submarine navigators and the spasmodic struggle to conquer the unknown. How can we remain insensible to the frenetic life of our great cities and to the exciting new psychology of night-life; the feverish figures of the bon viveur, the cocette, the apache and the absinthe drinker?

We will also play our part in this crucial revival of aesthetic expression: we will declare war on all artists and all institutions which insist on hiding behind a façade of false modernity, while they are actually ensnared by tradition, academicism and, above all, a nauseating cerebral laziness.

We condemn as insulting to youth the acclamations of a revolting rabble for the sickening reflowering of a pathetic kind of classicism in Rome; the neurasthenic cultivation of hermaphodic archaism which they rave about in Florence; the pedestrian, half-blind handiwork of ’48 which they are buying in Milan; the work of pensioned-off government clerks which they think the world of in Turin; the hotchpotch of encrusted rubbish of a group of fossilized alchemists which they are worshipping in Venice. We are going to rise up against all superficiality and banality—all the slovenly and facile commercialism which makes the work of most of our highly respected artists throughout Italy worthy of our deepest contempt.

Away then with hired restorers of antiquated incrustations. Away with affected archaeologists with their chronic necrophilia! Down with the critics, those complacent pimps! Down with gouty academics and drunken, ignorant professors!

Ask these priests of a veritable religious cult, these guardians of old aesthetic laws, where we can go and see the works of Giovanni Segantini today. Ask them why the officials of the Commission have never heard of the existence of Gaetano Previati. Ask them where they can see Medardo Rosso’s sculpture, or who takes the slightest interest in artists who have not yet had twenty years of struggle and suffering behind them, but are still producing works destined to honor their fatherland?

These paid critics have other interests to defend. Exhibitions, competitions, superficial and never disinterested criticism, condemn Italian art to the ignominy of true prostitution.

And what about our esteemed "specialists"? Throw them all out. Finish them off! The Portraitists, the Genre Painters, the Lake Painters, the Mountain Painters. We have put up with enough from these impotent painters of country holidays.

Down with all marble-chippers who are cluttering up our squares and profaning our cemeteries! Down with the speculators and their reinforced-concrete buildings! Down with laborious decorators, phony ceramicists, sold-out poster painters and shoddy, idiodic illustrators!

These are our final conclusions:

With our enthusiastic adherence to Futurism, we will:

1. Destroy the cult of the past, the obsession with the ancients, pedantry and academic formalism.
2. Totally invalidate all kinds of imitation.
3. Elevate all attempts at originality, however daring, however violent.
4. Bear bravely and proudly the smear of "madness" with which they try to gag all innovators.
5. Regard art critics as useless and dangerous.
6. Rebel against the tyranny of words: "Harmony" and "good taste" and other loose expressions which can be used to destroy the works of Rembrandt, Goya, Rodin...
7. Sweep the whole field of art clean of all themes and subjects which have been used in the past.
8. Support and glory in our day-to-day world, a world which is going to be continually and splendidly transformed by victorious Science.

The dead shall be buried in the earth’s deepest bowels! The threshold of the future will be swept free of mummies! Make room for youth, for violence, for daring!"

TO THE YOUNG ARTISTS OF ITALY! this was the Manifesto of the Futurist Painters brought to you by Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini



February 24, 2008, 7:21 AM

oh boy. yep, the 'splendour of a radiant future' alright.

i do think we should take a hard stance against the 'neurasthenic cultivation of hermaphodic archaism'. it's getting right out of hand these days.



February 24, 2008, 7:26 AM

if clem had been able to finish with 'Homemade Aesthetics' as a book, would this have amounted to something of a manifesto? opie or catfish or marc, you guys know where he was going with that more definitely?



February 24, 2008, 7:30 AM

Mine isn't going to sound like that.



February 24, 2008, 7:35 AM

thank goodness. i look forward to reading whatever you and opie might have to offer. history has shown that documents such as these can be very significant indeed.



February 24, 2008, 8:41 AM

x sez: "history has shown that documents such as these can be very significant indeed."

I'd say history has shown that documents such as the one George generously provided (thank you George) don't matter near as much as the work its writers produced.

It boils down to whatever inspires, inspires. "Whatever" can be just about anything on earth.



February 24, 2008, 8:48 AM

Clem was the opposite of a manifesto-type person, but I think manifesto ingredients can be drawn from his writing.

Manifestos usually come after the ideas in them are aleready explicit in art but often provoke a much wider adoption of the ideas. Marinetti's Futurist maniufesto of 1909 anticipated Futurism and much else, like the Bolshevik revolution and the Great War of 1914-1918, but the revolutionary ideas were well in place by then.

The Surrealist manifesto of 1924 was less directly related to future events but this is natural because of its overtly absurdist content.

Nowadays an effective manifesto probably has to be kinder and gentler and take a more conservative, "green" sort of position. This would be in tune with the times and also accord with the problem; the doctrinaire attack on basic human, nonverbal, intuitive spiritual value of art (as opposed to righteous explicit PC value) is quite analogous to pollution, environmental degradation and habitat destruction, to which everyone is already sensitive.



February 24, 2008, 8:53 AM

Homemade Esthetics is a collection of essays Clem wrote long before he died. Each essay corresponded to a seminar/talk he had given at Bennington, as I remember, and had been published. Transcripts of the seminars are included in the book as well.

I took it that he regarded the essays as complete - which is not the same as running out of additional things to say, just that he was finished with that project. Clem was not really a writer of books. His thinking was rather lean and to the point. The essay generally suited his approach better than the lengthy book form. He did not give a dman that the book is widely held in higher regard than the essay. (Besides, he wrote a couple of true books.)



February 24, 2008, 9:02 AM

Clem probably didn't give a "dman" either, but I meant "damn".



February 24, 2008, 9:04 AM

I like "Everything I write is a manifesto." If only "Everything I manifest is right."



February 24, 2008, 9:25 AM

Hey ahab, manifestoes don't have to be "right". The approach opie describes in #57 is quite different than the historical manifesto on that count, but would be quite welcome, as would anything that gets the horse out of the barn to oppose the decline that has received such widespread sanction. Opie's approach would be "right". I wonder who it would convince other than our fellow fanactics. Many Edmonton artists would rejoice, I'm sure. Edmonton is the only "location" that I can think of that is really a "location". Maybe Saskatoon too. Maybe others. Common sense about art found a better place to grow in Canada than anywhere else. So the rest of us are widely dispersed. Dispersal is part of the present predicatment, so we must invent a solution for it. Perhaps the internet is it - that sounds appropriately up-to-date, eh?



February 24, 2008, 9:40 AM

Somewhat against my better judgment, I am weighing in again in response to Marc's recent post.

"I don't know who everyone is, except for Franklin, of course, and one or two others... but, that's ok... Jack is, um, Jack, as far as I can tell. As you can see, I'm Marc Country, but, if you switch the letters around, does it really make any difference? Either we agree with what we type here, or we don't... whatevs..."

My interest wasn't really in knowing everyone's real name, but more about seeing people's artwork when they referred to it. I believe several people here talked about being (or not being) in the Broad collection. I was curious about the work. I don't need anyone's social security number.

"I must admit, I've referred to Greenberg as St. Clem, sure... but only because of the irony... he's invoked as some kind of "Pope of Modernism" by folks who want to dismiss him as a demagogue, to which I say... Hell yeaah!! Heez mah gawd (worship, worship) !

So, unless you've got your tongue jammed in your cheek, then such talk comes off as a common, mindless slur to those who know better..."

First of all, my tongue was not firmly planted, but resting in the vicinity of my cheek, where it normally resides. My use of the offending phrase was also a comment on the way he is invoked, but, in this case, not by his detractors, but by his followers. I don't dismiss him as a demagogue, but I'm somewhat perplexed that a bunch of artists place a critic, rather than the artists that he wrote about, on the highest pedestal. I would understand if your heroes were de Kooning, Kline, Gorky, Graham, Pollock, et al. I know and love their work (to a degree, and some more than others) and in fact spent many years living in close proximity to a really wonderful private collection including these artists. But the fact that the interpreter (for want of a better term) of the work, rather than the creators themselves, is the one that you all worship (tongue in cheek, just quoting Marc above, don't freak out, ok?) is what is strange to me. I get that you respect his lack of bullshit in writing about the work. But since we're talking about a visual medium here, why so much reverence for the mediator, the translator, the explainer of the work? I'm familiar with the 'bergs, Clem, Leo and Harold. I prefer to look at the paintings themselves rather than read about them. That's the main point I was making. I am definitely not one of those pomo academic dismissers of the notion of quality. I hate that "all is equal, no culture is superior to any other, there is no such thing as objective truth" bullshit. That's mostly misplaced white colonial guilt. So I am potentially on your side here (except that I don't like to see it as so black and white, as sides, as "you're with us or you're with the terrorists"). If you are searching for allies, you might want to think before you jump all over someone and assume they are part of the enemy camp.

And now for the part that got my hackles up (actually it made me laugh out loud).

"Seriously, though... Oriane sounds made up..."

Allowing for the fact that YOUR tongue may have been cheek-implanted, but (and I generally abstain from snobbing anyone about this, but I couldn't resist this time after all the abuse I've taken here about being a know-nothing philistine) you're clearly not as much a scholar of the masters, not as reverential of the canon as you profess. Allow me to introduce you to la Duchesse de Guermantes, yes, a made-up character, but one made up by Marcel Proust in "A la Recherche du Temps Perdu", a piece of writing sometimes referred to as the first "modernist" novel. I've seen a few paintings and read a book or two in my day.

ps Is a dman like a G-man?



February 24, 2008, 10:13 AM

Marc likes anagrams, Oriane. In fact, his alias is an anagram (he already said this so I am not outing him).

Your anagram might be "Are!" (emphasis mine).

Maybe he worked that out.

We do admire the artists you mentione, of course. But they are not being attacked for their high standards.

As I indicated above, Greenberg amounts to an exemplar for certain values, and the attack on him is an attack on those values.

Greenberg will hold his own in history. The values he represented may very well not.


Enairo Rednets

February 24, 2008, 10:32 AM

Opie, yours could be "I, Poe."

But you know what's even better than anagrams? Palindromes!

I love me, vol. I
Go hang a salami, I'm a lasagna hog.
A man, a plan, a canal - Panama.

See? We have may have more in common than you realize!



February 24, 2008, 10:38 AM

That Futurist manifesto, lots of sound and fury that wound up signifying precious little, if anything, is one reason why we don't need such a bombastic, histrionic eruption now. Futurism as a movement as well as its individual members are now a historical footnote, more or less, except perhaps in Italy. Frankly, I think those guys were frustrated politicians of a particularly operatic sort, which I suppose came with the territory.



February 24, 2008, 10:46 AM

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not in the Broad collection, and furthermore, I hereby inform Mr. Broad that, despite all his money, my work is not to be had. He will have to console himself with George.


No, I are!

February 24, 2008, 10:50 AM

Marc, let's make up and be friends. I like your Ganeshes, sort of like Otterness, but with soul (and without the dog-torturing connotations). I actually don't like Otterness, but I like what I can see of your work - I'd much prefer to see your pieces than his all over the subway platforms here in NYC.

I especially dig the monochrome maquettes for solo. They look like wax - are they really steel?



February 24, 2008, 10:55 AM

I like the chain mail tunic that the one Ganesh is wearing. It has a El Anatsui/Do Ho Suh vibe. El Anatsui is one of my current favorite artists - have you seen his work? Give him a google.



February 24, 2008, 10:59 AM

Amen on Otterness. Everyone seems to have forgotten the dog thing. Not me.



February 24, 2008, 11:04 AM

Otterness? Did someone say Otterness? Franklin, don't you a filter or something to keep out such references, which have nothing to do with art and everything to do with bunk? You know, like a spam filter? Well, I guess such a filter would automatically delete any reference to Britto, for basically the same reason, and sometimes it's useful to have a clear example of faux art handy.



February 24, 2008, 11:16 AM

And Marc, you with your interest in summarizing Proust, not recognizing me? For shame!

Actually, it was the maquette for Playhouse, the red one, that I really like. The view with the stairs.

I'm going out to enjoy the sunshine now, so if I don't respond to any future comments, I'm not ignoring you, ok guys?



February 24, 2008, 12:10 PM


Good galleries are dispersed thoughout Canada. Okay I get it. Can you send me the names of a few, any, galleries that are near Montreal, Quebec, two to three hours away from upstate New York? When I tried to google this stuff I came up with galleries that sold cheesy genre work. This is stuff I am not interested in writing about. I suppose I am looking for galleries that do not sell genre work that ends up in dentist office waiting rooms. Thanks for the help.



February 24, 2008, 12:22 PM

"Go hang a salami, I'm a lasagna hog."

I prefer pi, Oriane.



February 24, 2008, 1:20 PM

I just had a terrible thought. Can you imagine Bernini being shown the, uh, sculpture of Otterness and asked for his opinion? I could have used Michelangelo, but that would have been too unspeakably horrible.



February 24, 2008, 1:23 PM

Bernini's comments would have been more pungent, I think. He was a real hot shot.



February 24, 2008, 1:53 PM

Yes, possibly something like:

Sculpture? What sculpture? Are you insane? How dare you use that word for such degenerate, crude and vulgar lumps of futility? The worst hack in Rome, churning out cheap funeral markers, is worthy of the Vatican next to this... this...Guards! Take away this unfortunate creature, who must have escaped from some madhouse!



February 24, 2008, 2:33 PM

Oriane: dman = Demolition Man, or D-Man, a charactrer in Marvel comics who teamed up with Captain America.

Eric: There is a place in Toronto named Gallery One, 121 Scollard St, M5R 1G4 (416) 929-3103. Check out their web site at Pat Service has a show up there now and Doug Haynes will have one in May. They have had shows by artists ranging from Lauren Olitski to Susan Roth to Helen Frankenthaler in the past.

Other artists they represent are Boxer, Bush, Christo, Drapell, Dzubas, Francis, lerner, Motherwell, Noland, Jules Olitski, Peacock, Picasso, Poons, and Riopelle (Canada's claim for first drip painting) - many others too.

There is quite a lot to look at and no strict "canon" that you must accept.



February 24, 2008, 3:30 PM

Thanks very much catfish. If you can think of any others please send them along. I look at and occasionally write about all sorts of art. Otterness sucks so bad. Who in the NYC government structure forced us to look at his awful repugnant shit while we trudge home from work? Ugh. It would be great if one of those big brass money bags he loves so much fell from the sky and landed on his head.



February 24, 2008, 5:27 PM

Eric, Otterness himself is not the real problem. The problem is the system and the idiot buyers who have enabled him to get anywhere.



February 24, 2008, 5:47 PM

Commuters don't have to step around or look at the enablers' sculptures everyday, but of course from a socio-economic viewpoint, the enablers, not the enabled, are the real problem.



February 24, 2008, 5:55 PM

Come up to Edmonton some day, Eric, and visit the Common Sense gallery where you will find real artworks by serious artists who've not been written up. Edmonton may be a locus for artists who care about the highest sorts of art, whom I have without a doubt been hugely encouraged and inspired by, but invaluable to my education has been where I've been able to test my understanding against others' more articulate eloquence.



February 24, 2008, 7:01 PM

Believe me ahab if Edmonton was closer I would come up there often and write about these worthy artists who have never been written about. Right now I am writing about two artists who have never been written about. Trying to find artists who make worthwhile art and have never been written about in NYC is no easy task. What do Canadian art loving folk read if they want good art criticism about Canadian artists showing in Canadian galleries?



February 24, 2008, 8:12 PM

catfish - re: significant i only meant the ability to convey a 'meaningful' sense of what a group of artists might be on about. the fate of futurism, (let alone the art) says volumes about this kind of thing's efficacy. but opie describes a certain kind of synthesis that, if written well and by the right person, someone qualified to do so, it might be a useful thing to point to. these are different times. it would and should sound different today lest it ridiculous. as for homemade esthetics...i've only read a portion of the first few essays, but i recall from somewhere, maybe in the intro, that he was working towards a book that would summarize his position and perhaps flesh out some aspects of his thinking around intuition and the esthetic and maybe Kant a bit...i can't recall. the lectures were supposed to register more than they did at bennington, clem hoping to build from them. then he fell ill(?) and it never made it into a proper book. homemade esthetics was a title he had kicking round(?).



February 24, 2008, 8:13 PM

If, in fact, common sense was common, and taste had not gone to hell in a handbasket, there would have been no possible way for the work of Otterness to escape being seen for what it is: a lousy joke. What would ever persuade someone to part with serious money for such lame infantile rubbish? What kind of moron would display the stuff in his/her home and thus provide irrefutable evidence of mental deficiency? The answers to those questions lie near the heart of why things have sunk to such a wretched, pitiful state.



February 24, 2008, 8:46 PM

the truth is (as far as i can tell)that there is no real follow-up generation to writers like Greenberg, Bannard, Fenton, Moffett, Wilkin, Fried etc. This doesn't really bode well for us thirty-somethings and our ascendancy! so maybe an enlightened summation of the position that we all care about could do us some good. maybe one of the above is working on said volume...

Would you guys say that this critical wane correlates with the number of artists working today in a Modernist mode? i mean, is there that much to even write about today? how much is this drop-off in criticism, geared towards a proper engagement with good work, responsible for the lack of a continuing high art credibility? don't take that the wrong way. i just mean, a lot of the artists i look to at least in the near past, had the benefit of at least some support structures in a wider sense. obviously the likes of Wilkin or Bannard are still writing (AND painting in Bannard's case) but where is the quality writing about the next generation of quality art? i understand all the nefarious ways in which the system's got our number. those of you that are veteran does this all look to you in terms of the response you get from students these days?



February 24, 2008, 8:47 PM

Clearly you're a great fan of Otterness, Jack.

I recall Clem had the title "Homemade Esthetics", which he liked, and had started on a book which was to be some kind of a summing up but apparently only wrote an introductory chapter (an appendix of the present book, which is a set of lectures he gave at Bennington and some essays based on them).

He never liked book-length projects. I remember talking with him about it and after a good discussion he would mutter about getting back to it and curse himself for procrastinating.



February 25, 2008, 4:16 PM

I think we now have essentially the critics the current art scene and system deserve (and want). The establishment, including all the big art publications, will not seek, welcome, encourage or reward any critic comparable to a Greenberg.

What is wanted are art reporters, or advocates, or cutesy "bad boys," or academically sanctioned windbags, or safe hacks--but never, ever anyone who will seriously challenge, oppose or threaten the status quo. There are far too many vested interests, economic and otherwise, and the game is not about the quality of the work anyhow.

A Greenbergian approach is completely out of place because it is based on premises which are now treated as false, irrelevant or at best optional, meaning it's perfectly OK to ignore them. This attitude pervades everything from top to bottom, including the traditional bastions of historical continuity, scholarship and connoisseurship. In other words, the rot is systemic.

The recruitment or conversion of large and ever-increasing numbers of moneyed players (who accept the system as is because they don't know any better and/or because it suits them) keeps the game going and growing, since it is fueled by money and associated preoccupations, like image, notoriety, fashion and status. The art, or what passes for it, is not important individually or specifically, in and of itself--it simply has to fit the bill and serve its purpose in the game, which is much more about itself than about the art as such.

I'm afraid that if Greenberg had come of age in our time as opposed to his, he might have remained more or less anonymous, quite possibly limited to commenting on a venue like Artblog. The current milieu simply has no use for him.



February 25, 2008, 6:09 PM

i agree jack. it's a pretty bleak picture. of course greenberg would never go over the same today. nor does the art obviously. but it still goes on. there is another generation of artists (how many i don't really know) lesser in number that carry on - informed by the best art they can find. along with great art there should be a community we can turn to, one that nurtures the way it did for a generation of baby boomer artists. but as i see it, the fat's been trimmed. the larger system doesn't but nod towards even the best contemporary modernists. the work already carries on underground. most of the time i think this is a good thing, given the state of things.

it's closing time on some of our best and somehow whatever energy is left it needs to be fortified. nobody is really saying much here, it could be my naive enthusiasm and zealotry that puts 'em all off.

i wouldn't know a thing about any meaningful community outside of artblog and nesw,



February 25, 2008, 6:41 PM

will there be a big gauche noland retrospective? what about olitski?

that string of blockbuster mode shows in the late eighties and on into the nineties (matisse, picasso, cezanne to name a few). that's energy that i think is probably all done...i get by mostly on reproduction of the work i care about so thank god for those catalogues! i was happy to read caro enthuse about reproductions as a serious resource, in an interview once. it made me feel better about my geographical limitations - just like artblog does!



February 25, 2008, 6:43 PM

If you don't mind saying, X, where are you located?



February 25, 2008, 6:49 PM

i guess geography was an issue when it comes to the nucleus that was caro noland olitski and greenberg etc. what remains to be seen is if a transplanted modernism will bear fruit in regions that it managed to take hold outside of the major centres, beyond the generation of the likes mentioned above. and not just second and third rate mannerism. but something major.



February 25, 2008, 6:50 PM

north of you



February 25, 2008, 6:51 PM

sorry franklin, don't mean to be coy. i'm in canada.



February 25, 2008, 7:04 PM

That narrows it down.



February 25, 2008, 7:49 PM

prairie region



February 25, 2008, 7:50 PM

i've shot my mouth off too much under this alias to come totally clean.


Marc Country

February 25, 2008, 8:08 PM

I'll just add, NESW references outside of Edmonton are rare, indeed...



February 25, 2008, 8:18 PM

you guys are more notorious than you think.



February 26, 2008, 7:01 AM

Whatever can you mean?



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