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Tom Wesselmann at Forum

Post #1139 • March 12, 2008, 12:29 PM • 79 Comments

Los Angeles - Tom Wesselmann represents some of the more tiresome aspects of Pop: its decorativeness, its lightness, its lack of visual pressure. Wesselman didn't even mobilize Pop's cultural critique - he really liked all that T&A, from the looks of it, right down to the tan lines. Some of his quirks downright grate on the eye. His sketchy, back-and-forth scribbles, once translated into serigraphy, turn as chilly as surgical steel. His rendering of nipples reminds me above all of Devo's stage wear. But who knew? Wesselmann had a process, and some of the little watermedia studies currently up at Forum redeem him a bit, especially his 1981 Study for Drop Out and the 1973 Smoker Study. A cut paper maquette for one of his sculptures indicates what he might have accomplished if he permitted some hand to remain in his final work. That didn't interest him, though, leaving him to his fat, worm-like line and prismatic palette. One 1993 silkscreen quotes Leger, and the hommage outperforms everything else in the room. Wesselmann could have used some of those dark neutrals and variations of line. Or, perhaps, he couldn't.

Comment

1.

ex

March 12, 2008, 12:23 PM

a colleague was raving on, and on...and on, about wesselmann a while back, how beautiful and gorgeous and i dunno what else. he seemed to really feel that the pieces on show had the world going for them, and they were on par with some of the best figurative work...uh, ever i guess. this was just the POP version of figurative excellence. we were discussing a large 'worm' infested print and his overt enthusiasm left me so little room to answer (inside i was screaming), that the dialogue just kinda slumped to the floor cuz i think we both knew we were on opposite ends of wesselmann world. my colleague tends to elevate POP as a very sort of sublime thing, that these guys had it going on big time, slyly turning consumerist glut on its head. but if i had to characterize his response, it was more that of a child wowed by shiny baubles than that of a trained viewer. i wanted to say something more about this obvious inability to discern quality, or something of the mechanism that blinds people like my colleague (he's no twit after all, and i would say he's kinda sensitive to the aesthetic otherwise) but this is all starting to seem so futile. education is obvioulsy culpible, and i'm wondering how anybody feels about the post-secondary art school model as a tenable part of the solution. would it benefit to have say a Post Painterly Academy somewhere? lol. art departments throughout the land are plagued by the same careerist idiots we have writing and curating, and bucking up against them can come at a price.

2.

ex

March 12, 2008, 12:35 PM

are there any art schools left today that truly support modernist work?

3.

Hans

March 12, 2008, 1:22 PM

Hi Franklin, I have been on your banner to the ArtNet Online Auctions and quite interesting, to see the system working, although in Beta. I found a pretty weak (my opinion) watercolor by Immendorf with a minimum bid of USD 14.000 (sure one pays for the history and its probably how the market values it), now the site is down, for maintenance.

4.

opie

March 12, 2008, 2:35 PM

Wesslemen is a weak painter.

The first study & the maquette are OK; the smoker study is not, although it is marginally better than the other stuff. I dont care for artists where you have to struggle to find a little something to like. I want to be scared right back to my studio.

X, your colleague has no eye. He does not relate to the picture, to the thing itself. That's why he goes on and on with his stale ideas about "culture" and what have you. It always boils down to that.

5.

Eric

March 12, 2008, 2:53 PM

This is the best I could come up with Chris:

"That Cameron and the New Museum have come this close to capturing some of its mojo is nothing short of wonderful."
(2004)

"They crackle with optical cockiness, love and massive amounts of painterly mojo."
(2007)

"Experientially rich, buzzing with energy and entropy, crammed with chaos and contradiction, and topped off with the saga of subversion that is central both to the history of the empty-gallery-as-a-work-of-art but also to the Gavin Brown experience itself, this work is brimming with meaning and mojo."
(2007)

"It's visually deadening, unctuous, and manipulative—all no-no with no mojo."
(2002)

If I had access to LexisNexis at home I could have unearthed many more mojos.

6.

Eric

March 12, 2008, 3:44 PM

Sorry. I posted #5 on the wrong thread.

7.

Jack

March 12, 2008, 4:39 PM

Wesselmann is a sharper, slicker Britto for an ostensibly more sophisticated and worldly audience. He's like the Hugh Hefner version of Matisse.

8.

Eric

March 12, 2008, 4:54 PM

Wesselmann made it into the history books, one sentence in the Pop Art section of the book, because of those airbrushed (or painted what does it matter) pair of lips with the cigarette dangling out of them. That is it. Yes he did other stuff, the cartoon pin-up girls with the silly nipples, but none of that will be remembered. "Hi I am the airbrushed lips guy!" He will introduce himself at the retirement home in such a manner. I never understood why, beyond his 'discovery' of a successful logo, the lips, he became ensconced in the history books.

By the way, if you want to make art that is perceived as cutting edge, avant-garde, etc., just use a body fragment. Don't use the entire body or just a boring old portrait. Make sure that you use a body fragment, a leg coming out of a wall, body parts strewn all over the gallery floor with some wires thrown in for good measure. If you do this you might get lucky and have a critic or academic write that your art, "disturbs fixed boundaries and rigidly gendered identities that objectify the body in order to build up a concept of the body that is fluid and leaves room for changes and mergings with other bodies, where bodies are held together not by a stable body image and a gendered identity, but by forces of connection and interaction between parts of the body."

9.

Jack

March 12, 2008, 4:59 PM

BTW, that Saltz "mojo" stuff is hilarious, to put it kindly.

10.

opie

March 12, 2008, 6:35 PM

You'r right about body parts, Eric. Have you also noticed Taxidermy? It's big right now.

And I am told at this year's Whitney it is elephants. These things run in series.

11.

Eric

March 12, 2008, 6:45 PM

#10

You can thank Mr. Hirst for that.

12.

opie

March 12, 2008, 6:58 PM

No, it was coming on before Hirst did it, way back in the 90s. Don't make the mistake of thinking the guy is original just because he did it bigger than anyone else.

13.

Eric

March 13, 2008, 4:19 AM

You were right that it was around before him. I remember looking at maggots writhing over a piece of meat in a glass box in some gallery hell hole back in the eighties. BUT...Mr. Hirst brought taxidermy into the spotlight. Is there any other taxidermy inspired art that has gotten even half as much attention from the press, most of it adoring of late, than his decaying shark? I don't think so. Once Hirst's 'masterpiece' became common coinage, a symbol of the new, shocking, and avant-garde (albeit a safe one because it resembles a display in Sea World more than anything else) the parade of creatively bankrupt art folk followed suit. So you are right opie, he didn't come up with this shit, but he did score the most points in terms of popularity. I think archival practices can be used interestingly in the art world but they rarely are.

14.

Chris Rywalt

March 13, 2008, 8:07 AM

I'm sorry, but I love Tom Wesselmann. (Also, he won't be introducing himself to anyone at the retirement home, since he died a few years ago.) When I first saw his work I almost died, because I saw that it was what I'd been aiming at -- left alone, I probably would've turned into him.

To a degree. I showed my work to a gallerist and told them about my feelings about Wesselmann and how I'd have to work around him. The gallerist told me not to bother working around him -- go through him. Figure out what I do better and beat him with that.

Which made me think. Wesselmann's lines and compositions aren't as good as mine. So that's where I've been going. I consider my work to be in direct competition, I guess you'd say, with Wesselmann and Peter Stanick. Both, I think, are too distant, too cold. I want to paint how women -- how people -- feel, their texture, how it is to hold them. Who cares how people look?

15.

Chris Rywalt

March 13, 2008, 8:09 AM

The Saltz quotes are pretty funny. I guess he does use that word too much. It's amusing because he's a little Jewish guy who looks about as far from any mojo as anyone can get.

16.

Franklin

March 13, 2008, 8:21 AM

Those are the guys you have to watch out for.

Chris, I'm confident that you can outpaint Wesselmann. Get to it.

17.

ex

March 13, 2008, 8:21 AM

chris, i think gary hume is better than stanick.

18.

ex

March 13, 2008, 8:37 AM

hume was the guy who started painting graphic flat again before everybody discovered photoshop. his surface is very liquid and comes across as paint at least and formally much more exciting in their organization. and no reliance on soft porn for immpact.

19.

ex

March 13, 2008, 8:43 AM

but really these guys are all about design more than anything else. i think hume is better because he seems to be interested in color more.

20.

Chris Rywalt

March 13, 2008, 10:56 AM

Thanks, Franklin. I really appreciate it, even if you clearly don't like Wesselmann, so it's not saying much that I can outpaint him.

I've been planning some color experiments, speaking of being interested in color. (The Gary Hume paintings I found online look very dark, like he's exploring deep shades and nothing bright.) I'm trying to figure out what makes oil paint glow. You know, when someone paints a sunset or something, and the paint just seems so much brighter than it has any right to be.

I'm thinking it's either the contrast of a cool color next to a warm color which makes the warm color look brighter; or it's a Munsell scale kind of thing, with a low-chroma color next to a high-chroma color. Or maybe it's all in the value.

Anyway, I'm going to do some Albers-like experiments. I bet someone on here can tell me before I do, though.

21.

Jack

March 13, 2008, 11:33 AM

Liking or loving Wesselmann is one thing; saying he was a major talent or a great artist is quite another. People can and do love all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons, which is their business and can't be prevented anyhow. I'm not saying Wesselmann had no talent; he had a talent of a certain sort or for a certain sort of work. That's fine, as far as it goes, as long as it's kept in the proper perspective.

22.

ex

March 13, 2008, 11:45 AM

damn that's diplomatic.

BTW franklin, the devo comparison is great. i had a great laugh at that. i'll have to mention it to my colleague. no doubt it will only affirm how prescient and in the groove wesselmann was...

23.

Chris Rywalt

March 13, 2008, 12:15 PM

What I wrote about Tom's paintings after seeing a show of his a couple of years ago: "I really love them. They're so big and bold and bright and just wonderful. Not challenging, true. Not earthshattering. I'm not going to revise my whole approach to art because of them. But, damn, they sure look pretty. And they're all of naked women, which is always one of my favorite subjects. That probably makes me a bad person."

Although Franklin is right about his way of painting nipples. While I have no doubt that there exist women with nipples like that -- women come in a bewildering array of shapes -- seeing a lot of them all in one place is a bit bizarre.

My main problem with Wesselmann -- and to a greater degree, Stanick (the two of whom I put together mainly because I saw their work on the same day -- also, Stanick is represented by the same gallery as a friend of mine) -- is that they take a Pop approach to human beings; that is, they treat naked women as a product, sort of, and their paintings end up looking like ads for hot chicks instead of something more intimate. I guess you could say their work is slick.

Although Wesselmann clearly had a thing for Matisse, Matisse's love of his subjects shines through his work, while Wesselmann seems a few steps removed from his subjects. They both probably had sex with a lot of their models, but I bet only Matisse gave great head.

24.

Eric

March 13, 2008, 1:09 PM

Chris I think you will gain much more by working your way through Matisse rather than through Wesselmann. Wesselmann is a gnat in comparison.

25.

Eric

March 13, 2008, 1:45 PM

Chris you also have to ask yourself what your goals are. Do you want to make artful pornographic images? Study Currin. He is currently striking gold with this format. If I wanted to paint or draw pornographic images of women I would not turn to Wesselmann. Study pornographic images, old magazines, video stills, the endless supply of free pornographic images available online, etc. Many artists are doing this. If you want to go the tradionalist route keep drawing from the nude. Eventually you will discover a quirky format which may or may not catch a gallerist's attention. You could become the guy who does pictures of women giving blowjobs or the guy who paints lesbian orgies. Whatever. You will need to come up with a recognizable format and subject matter, and then repeat the formula ad infinitum. Of course if you get lucky enough to have solo shows every few years you will have to tweak the format; add a few oddball props to the backgrounds, do a few hetero orgy scenes, paint brunettes instead of blondes, etc. You get the idea.

26.

Chris Rywalt

March 13, 2008, 2:39 PM

Of course Matisse is a much better artist. That's kind of part of the problem: Going through Matisse is like going through God, you know?

Although I personally don't love Matisse. He's okay. I saw the Matisse/Picasso show at MoMA a few years back. I liked most of what I saw, but wasn't really moved by any of it. My favorites are still Rousseau and Van Gogh.

27.

Chris Rywalt

March 13, 2008, 2:43 PM

Eric, please tell me you're being facetious on purpose. That's got to be the most cynical advice I've ever heard. The giveaway is bringing up Currin, who, incidentally, I reviewed favorably until I found out he'd copied Danish porn almost exactly (only not that capably), after which I trashed him. Still the most visited review on my site!

I have no desire to make porn, nor to repeat the same formula ad infinitum. Although that does seem to be necessary to be a selling artist. If people can't look at a painting and immediately say "That's So-and-so!" then you're going to have trouble. Braque would never survive today.

28.

Franklin

March 13, 2008, 2:50 PM

Could we have a link to that Currin post? That was classic.

29.

Chris Rywalt

March 13, 2008, 3:09 PM

"Comment Guidelines: No ads. Requests to look at your site will be deleted."

My original review covered John Currin and Andrew Wyeth, both of whose shows I saw on the same day. The comments on that led to the discovery of the actual photos Currin used as references, which led to my revisiting my thinking on the show.

I tried to get an interview with Currin through the gallery, but no one ever got back to me. When the director or whoever I was talking to heard I wasn't with any actual publication, she kind of blew me off, and I doubt she ever gave my number to John. I really wanted to talk to him. We lived in Hoboken at the same time, so we've got something in common, even. We could've gone to Vito's for lunch. Best fresh mozzarella of all time.

30.

Jack

March 13, 2008, 3:11 PM

Danish porn? Is that like people who look vaguely (or not so vaguely) ill having sex as if they're just trying to kill some time so they won't get so bored they'll commit suicide?

31.

Franklin

March 13, 2008, 4:21 PM

No, if it's germane to the conversation it's fine. The guideline is aimed at people who pop up here just to say that they're making art and here's a link to it. That's advertising.

32.

Eric

March 13, 2008, 4:25 PM

You mean John Currin wouldn't do an interview with someone who wasn't from the NYT or the New Yorker. I am shocked!

33.

ahab

March 13, 2008, 5:11 PM

To work your way through or around danish porn? Tough decision.

34.

Chris Rywalt

March 13, 2008, 5:15 PM

Danish porn is just Hamlet, only with more moaning.

O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew
Inside your steamy mouth, harlot!

35.

Chris Rywalt

March 13, 2008, 5:26 PM

And, Eric, I don't know what John Currin would or wouldn't do. I called Gagosian, and spoke to someone there (I got her name at the time -- I forget it now) who was in some fashion in charge or something. I asked her if I could interview Mr. Currin about his current show, and she told me he was very busy with a lot of interviews, and what magazine was I with? I told her I wasn't with a magazine at all, but had a Web page, and I thought she got very chilly -- although I could've imagined it -- and she took my name and number and said she'd pass it on. The end.

That page of mine gets a bunch of hits -- nothing enormous, but a bunch -- from people Googling for Currin images. And sometimes for people looking for "hairy porn."

I really wanted to interview John because I really wanted to know what he was thinking. Was he completely at a loss to imagine what people wanted to buy from him? Was he cynically attempting to be outrageous? Was he sincerely trying to be outrageous? Was he just simply interested in Danish porn?

I read an interview where John said that during and after art school he'd foundered for a while, not knowing what he wanted to paint, or what anyone wanted from him. As a goof he painted a "portrait" of Bea Arthur topless and left it around his studio. A visitor loved it, Currin got a show, and now he's either a punchline or an art god, depending on where you're standing.

It seemed to me a guy like that could've painted the Danish porn out of plain confusion. I can imagine there's a lot of pressure when you're an art star. I mean, you always want to get to the next level, right? Or at least stay on your current level. Okay, so now you're there. What next? If you got there without really knowing what you were doing, I can imagine being lost. It sounds kind of tragic, actually. It's the kind of tragedy where you wipe your tears with hundred-dollar bills, but it's tragic anyway.

So I wanted to get to know Currin a little bit. Find out if he's a jerk or a sad sack or an intelligent guy with a definite plan or what. Just get a handle on the whole thing.

But I guess not.

36.

Jack

March 13, 2008, 5:28 PM

Well, Chris, I expect the Ms. Budick from Newsday would also have been blown off as not sufficiently worthy. I'm pretty sure that, if she tried reaching the Whitney Biennial curators before she wrote her review, they did not return her calls.

37.

Eric

March 13, 2008, 5:39 PM

All of the things that you wanted to discuss with Currin are completely admirable Chris. But if you read the recent blowjob the New Yorker gave him you will see that penetrating deep discussion about the nature of success and the pressure to stay in the limelight and keep coming up with new and shiny shtick that the critics can rub their chins in front of and the collectors can suck up for a lot of money and decorate their McMansions with, is the last thing an art star wants to reveal to the public. The image they create of themselves in these magazine spreads in widely distributed magazines is just as much of a creation as their art work is. The photos of the artist in their home/studio are completely posed and composed, and every word they say to the interviewer is calculated. I am sure the servants of the house spend a lot of time straightening up the studio before the photographers arrive, and they carefully make it look just right. If you want to post meaningful artist interviews on your blog you should approach artists who are not famous.

38.

Chris Rywalt

March 13, 2008, 9:27 PM

So far I only talk to entirely unfamous people. It works.

I didn't read the New Yorker interview, but it made an artist friend of mine deeply depressed.

Where's your studio, Eric? You want an interview?

39.

Eric

March 14, 2008, 4:27 AM

I would have sent the link to the article in which the New Yorker performs fellatio on John Currin but it is not available online. I guess we have to pay to get access to the illustrious vaults of the esteemed publication.

How posed do the pictures of Currin and Feinstein look?

What is also really amazing is that Peter Schjeldahl has written about Currin at least three times. No one gets that kind of coverage by the New Yorker's art sage.

When Kimmelman and Schjeldahl are on your side look out!

Of course they are just doing their usual Owl of Minerva bullshit, polishing up the jewels of the previously enthroned art gods.

Why the fuck would you want to interview me? Why don't you put together a slideshow of your work, the stuff you are really proud of, and post it and send me the link. I would be happy to email you my two cents after I look it over. Now I know it isn't the same as seeing the stuff in person, but it is better than nothing.

40.

Eric

March 14, 2008, 5:38 AM

When viewing the slideshow I sent the link for in my previous post, please note the dramatic chiaroscuro playing across the sullen master's face in the first image.

41.

opie

March 14, 2008, 6:24 AM

Eric writes: "When Kimmelman and Schjeldahl are on your side look out!"

Most artists would wich for nothing more, but it is a kiss of death. For your art, anyway.

42.

Chris Rywalt

March 14, 2008, 7:53 AM

I went through the slideshow -- eventually. I got a kick out of the Brooding Artist Portrait with Lesbian Porn. I actually kinda dig the porn, but then I like porn. I don't like Old Master porn, especially not-very-competent Old Master porn. But off in the background there, it looks pretty okay.

I'm amazed that anyone says Currin has incredible technique. He's barely competent. (Although looking at the slideshow I started to think that he's probably hiring assistants to do most of the painting these days -- his style has shifted so much.)

Now, Eric, why would I want to interview you? Why not? I'd rather interview you than get your opinion on my portfolio. Not that I don't appreciate opinions. Another eye on my work isn't so bad. But I prefer conversations. And also, I don't know what you do. It'd be interesting to find out.

43.

Jack

March 14, 2008, 8:00 AM

Currin looks like the art world version of Mickey Rourke. Remember him?

44.

Jack

March 14, 2008, 8:01 AM

And by the way, I'm not just talking about the way Currin looks.

45.

Jack

March 14, 2008, 8:09 AM

I suppose the saddest thing is that, by now, he may actually believe all the tripe that's been written about him, such as the New Yorker piece. On second thought, the saddest thing is that anybody would believe it.

46.

Chris Rywalt

March 14, 2008, 8:24 AM

Except Mickey Rourke used to be talented.

47.

Chris Rywalt

March 14, 2008, 8:25 AM

Moving away from Currin for the moment:

Franklin, what exactly is "visual pressure"?

48.

Eric

March 14, 2008, 11:03 AM

"Now, Eric, why would I want to interview you? Why not? I'd rather interview you than get your opinion on my portfolio. Not that I don't appreciate opinions. Another eye on my work isn't so bad. But I prefer conversations. And also, I don't know what you do. It'd be interesting to find out."

Chris I have years worth of work in storage in my large attic. I am working on completing my studio this summer, a small twelve by twelve house with electric on the edge of the 2.2 acres I live on in the sticks in upstate New York. I have boxes full of old sketchbooks and a lot of old paintings on paper and canvas. None of this stuff has been digitized. Lately I have been doing ink and pencil drawings from life and from imagination.

I actually plan on trying to approach a gallery with my work in the coming year for the very first time in my life. I am forty. Sound exciting? I think not. Thanks for showing interest but the work has always been first and foremost in my mind, to the detriment of everything else apparently.

The writing has been fun, and provided me with a number of insights through the years, but to me, making art is paramount. I will welcome visitors to my studio once I open shop this summer. I warn you though that I live way the hell upstate in the middle of Adirondack State Park.

49.

Franklin

March 14, 2008, 11:18 AM

I call the sensation that elements of a composition belong where they are "visual pressure."

50.

Chris Rywalt

March 14, 2008, 11:19 AM

Well, Eric, you sure live a zillion miles away from New York City. You're probably a good four- to eight-hour drive away. Fun!

Aside from that, though, sounds like we have a lot in common. I've been planning on building a small studio in my yard. Based on this design. I'm working out the budget.

And I'm 37.

See that? We're practically brothers. Except for the workaholic part. I get distracted easily, especially by computers.

When you get your studio up I'll come by. I'll stop and visit Tracy on the way.

51.

Chris Rywalt

March 14, 2008, 11:21 AM

Interesting definition, Franklin. I'd think of pressure as a negative force, trying to push the pieces of a composition into different positions.

A Google search on "visual pressure" turns up a lot of "visual pressure gauges". Point one of those at an Olitski, see what happens! You know, I've got a stud finder -- goes off whenever I get too close.

52.

Eric

March 14, 2008, 12:21 PM

My future studio needs very little work: a good cleaning with bleach, a new cheap wooden door, a dime sized hole in the tin roof needs filling, and that's it. I will get the electricity flowing again as well. I think some outdoorsy people actually lived in this small light blue house all year round back in the early 1900s. They left a small rotted wooden plaque nailed to the wall that had their name and the date written on it in dark red paint. Their family name was U.Will.Die or something like that I can't remember. At the beginning of the summer, in the middle of the night, when there is a power outage and I am completely alone, I will take an old flashlight with weak batteries in it and revisit my future studio.

Visitors? Human beings? Things of the flesh that move and breathe and wave their hands in the air? I will have to rise out of my anchorite cell and relearn this whole speech thing but it sounds wonderful. Thank you for the kind offer.

53.

opie

March 14, 2008, 1:40 PM

I don;t think of it as "visual pressure" as much as a foundation for visual pressure.

54.

ahab

March 14, 2008, 7:02 PM

The various usages of "visual pressure" (a vague enough term) put me in mind of the slightly more specific "air pressure" and "tectonic pressure". The elements underlying the whole painting can be observed to exist and interact as tectonically-charged relationships - structural and weighted. Or those same elements can be appreciated as fluidly shifting weather systems - atmospheric and enveloping. The odd thing is that there exists another, third, discernible tension that must be felt to be in equilibrium. Intuitively felt, mind you, because as sophisticated as they are, seismography and barometry aren't perfect systems for quantification - and how much less understood is their effect on one another?

The Olitskies on the other post are pretty damn good at realizing these sorts of balance or resolution or equilibrium or whatever the hell.

55.

ex

March 14, 2008, 10:02 PM

i've been chewing on opie's little koan. i think he is pointing to the fact that this pressure is only afforded in the direct experience of the thing. you can't really say that much more about it. but it's no less there. maybe a bit semantic but the emphasis is valuable as it steers any notions of what it is or might be analagous to back to the thing. it is only truly there in the thing, if it's there at all.

56.

opie

March 15, 2008, 5:25 AM

Back when I was a student (many years ago) someone wrote a highly respected book about Cezanne's composition, with lots of chart and diagrams and visual analysis aids. To me it seemed entitirely arbitrary and pointless; Cezanne's compositions were just fine, but as soon as they were analyzed whatever "rightness" there was simply evaporated. There was no "rightness" outside of the painting. It was like trying to describe life through anatomy.

As I continued to make my own painting I realize that the matter of placement was entirely dependent on the nature of what was being placed. Any composition could be "right" depending on what is being composed. I wasn't trying to put things where they belonged, I was trying to make parts which had the character of the evolving painting.

Furthermore, I discovered early on that in fact there was no point at all trying to compose because I could do this much better by cropping smaller pictures out of a very large canvas of elements applied with no thought of composition at all.

Obviously composition matters. I just think it is more complicated than we realize. We think of it as placement but actually the important thing is that it is in synch with, shares the character of, the other elements of the picture.

57.

ex

March 15, 2008, 8:32 AM

would you say the 'character' of the elements or range of characteristics available to the artist has broadened through modernism? that part of wielding these elements competently requires a deeper empathy for materials? that's a bit loose but if we discuss it through painting, it seems a new physicality has been developing. i don't mean to emphasize only a grosser physicality, more generally a broadening of scale relationships maybe, that comes with an array of material effects and applications (developing since cubism i guess)that weren't available before.

58.

ex

March 15, 2008, 8:36 AM

really my questions aren't that well plodded. olitski's 'empathy' would be no different than rembrandt's.

59.

ex

March 15, 2008, 8:50 AM

maybe it's about intuition then as now.

60.

ex

March 15, 2008, 9:22 AM

i must have intuited the cad yellow my wife found in my eyebrows this morning.

61.

opie

March 15, 2008, 12:10 PM

Well, at least it sounds like you & your wife have a good relationsip. That takes intuition too.

yes, there is much more available to art now. The question is whether this is a good thing.

62.

Chris Rywalt

March 15, 2008, 4:54 PM

Getting back to Tom Wesselmann (not that this thread isn't interesting aside from him): At the drawing group today, the model had Tom Wesselmann nipples. Seriously. And when I showed her my drawings at the end of the session and told her she could have a couple, she said, "I want one of the nipple drawings. Is that okay?"

Sitting on the floor tailor-style hip to hip with a naked bleach-blonde girl looking through my drawings and talking about her nipples -- life takes us strange places sometimes.

Incidentally, those Devo hats are called Energy Domes. (I have a friend who's a Devo fan.)

63.

Marc Country

March 16, 2008, 6:44 AM

Hey ex, you might want to check out this show...

64.

Eric

March 16, 2008, 6:33 PM

I wonder what all of you think about this Jerry Saltz video clip.

65.

Marc Country

March 17, 2008, 6:37 AM

"It's a joke", indeed, Mr. Saltz...

I'm shocked that anyone could take this guy to be a serious authority on art criticism. New York used to be a centre for art, I hear...

66.

Eric

March 17, 2008, 6:43 AM

What I find fascinating about the clip is that he has absolutely nothing substantive to say. He has been reduced to making proclamations like, "extraordinary", blah blah blah, which are supposed to resonate and have meaning for no other reason than that Jerry Saltz is saying it.

67.

Marc Country

March 17, 2008, 6:47 AM

The pretensious knob seriously has the absence of sense to say one "finds a middle kingdom" in Johns' grey paintings...?

He must be thinking of a different "Middle Kingdom" than I am...

68.

Eric

March 17, 2008, 7:12 AM

In R.C. Baker's review of "Gray" he talked about the parallels between Johns' use of encaustic and the Egyptian artifacts on display at the MET. So at least we know what he is talking about because he refers to specific works of art. Saltz is more interested in turning a clever phrase, providing no explanations besides, "Hey I Am Fucking Jerry Saltz Man! Mojo Mojo!"

69.

ex

March 17, 2008, 7:45 AM

that is so abysmal. he's like a sesame street character. i can see him with grover explaining pix to kids seated on a wall.
"today's epsisode was brought to you by the word 'mojo'."

it also feels just so much like a paid advert.

70.

Chris Rywalt

March 17, 2008, 7:55 AM

Hey, what would you say about a bunch of lame-ass Jasper Johns paintings?

There's another clip of Jerry touring the Whitney Biennial. I can't wait to see what he makes up about that.

71.

Eric

March 17, 2008, 8:10 AM

Chris I think Saltz's Biennial video clip was better than the one he did for "Gray" but that isn't saying much.

72.

ex

March 17, 2008, 8:24 AM

hocus f*cking pocus! if the WB is the 'big kahuna' of contemporary art then the bit of that clip that i was able to withstand confirms that this stuff is being made every where by whoever for whatever reason. i've not been to NYC for a while, but i sure didn't feel out of the loop when i got back home last time and i sure don't now either. excepting the obvious treasures that can be found in NYC, that clip shows the pedantic nature of these ideas full stop. why do we want this in art?

73.

ex

March 17, 2008, 8:53 AM

franklin i've been trying to post a comment on this thread since sat night i think and i keep getting the message below. i thought maybe bacause i had copied and pasted the text so i retyped it in a fresh window and still getting the same, but i''ve been able to post otherwise this morning...

Precondition Failed
The precondition on the request for the URL /comment.php evaluated to false

74.

ex

March 17, 2008, 8:59 AM

test

franklin i've been trying to post a comment on this thread since sat night i think and i keep getting the message below. i thought maybe bacause i had copied and pasted the text so i retyped it in a fresh window and still getting the same, but i''ve been able to

75.

Franklin

March 17, 2008, 9:08 AM

Ex, this happens for mysterious reasons on rare occasions. If you want, e-mail me the comment so I can analyze it.

76.

ex

March 17, 2008, 10:12 AM

sorry this comes tardy but after some tinkering by einspruch the almighty, better late than never...

Marc, i was looking at the biz on the perehudoff show earleier. not so many works in the show but some early works that look good from here.

chris the naked girl buzz wore off in school pretty quick once i realized what kind of effort it takes to make something of a life drawing

re 61:

i like to think it's all a matter of proportion. scale runs right through life and into art. right now the scene's like pop radio and there are obviously too many artists. and if more material possibilites are available then the rotten state of things is a result of bad proportions, in the widest sense. so much of this art is just plain nasty. why we want art to reflect the worst of ourselves, i can't understand. as traditional forms start to look quaint to most young artists, we realize there is a huge gap that these forms are increasingly unable to close. and talking about heart, or spirit, or goodness in art becomes impossible.

i want great art to have the power to make it a no brainer for more than just the initiated. but instead art gets tossed around by babies. shrewd millionaire parents watching form behind the two-way mirror. the artists only ever see themselves reflected back. and this narcissistic little go round is what they keep making their art out of.

77.

ahab

March 17, 2008, 10:18 AM

That Face of Senwosret III is just awesome. Maybe dude was thinking of Middle Earth.

78.

ex

March 17, 2008, 10:18 AM

i'd like to qualify...these things are being (here at least sometimes) talked about, but they have been significantly 'discredited' as 'constructs' within the establishment.

79.

Jack

March 17, 2008, 3:18 PM

The current art establishment is an invalid, fraudulent construct. Ergo, any and all claims made by it are insubstantial, devoid of authority and utterly dismissible.

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