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Constant reviews considered harmful

Post #1244 • October 8, 2008, 10:36 AM • 120 Comments

You've been part of an experiment over the last three or four weeks. As many of you know, my employment situation has become rather liberated, obliging me to think about selecting one of my several pastimes (writing, say, or perhaps the daubing) and put some effort into making it remunerative. I hit upon an idea: move to an all-review format, which would be an easier sell to advertisers than the hodgepodge presented here normally. Reviews would be kept to a paragraph or two to allow for five posts a week.

The results: fifteen reviews since the middle of last month, which I'm pretty proud of considering that I've spent the last three weeks living in an RV park with a spotty Internet connection and making daily forays into town in search of a house to buy. And in that time my site stats have plunged. Unique readers slipped only a little - bless you - but total visits? Eek. You prefer hodgepodge: worthwhile exhibitions discussed at length, ad-hoc crits of current production in the studio, and the occasional overarching opining about matters artistic. Let me know if I'm mistaken. Otherwise I'll go back to the non-format, which is more fun, anyway, and I'll ponder another opportunity.




October 8, 2008, 11:49 AM

I would think the advertisers would be more interested in total hits than format.

Also, it might not be only the format change that caused the drop, or maybe it's a combination of things. But people do like to bitch & complain about "issues" more than discuss actual art, for sure, much as we may deplore it.



October 8, 2008, 12:03 PM

OP, there's not that much actual "contemporary" art worth looking at, let alone discussing.


Arthur Whitman

October 8, 2008, 12:03 PM

Longer reviews are good. I'll keep reading anyway, though.



October 8, 2008, 2:00 PM

So, we should start baiting the half-wit lurkers again? I don't know if 400-comment Snide-heavy posts are worth any amount of advertising revenue...



October 8, 2008, 3:29 PM

The art blogs that make money are review heavy. Advertisers have to believe that they will be getting something for their investment so I don't see how you can avoid writing reviews. The business model is kind of mystery at this point though. I would imagine that if you wanted to go the journalism route, avoid opinion pieces, and write art world news stories and reviews, that the time committment would be overwhelming. Doing research and seeing shows takes a lot of time and geography matters. I think you are exploring new territories in terms of blog business models. Also, galleries are infamously cheap when it comes to spending money on advertising (probably for good reason). ReviewNY, an excellent and free print magazine that was very popular in New York City for over a decade, went under because no gallery would spend a penny to subscribe to it or advertise in it. This magazine ran thoughtful, well written, and long form reviews of exhibitions in many different venues. So if potential advertisers are used to getting a product for free it will be hard to convince them to pay for it once the publishers want to change the business model.



October 8, 2008, 5:20 PM

I miss the good discussions lately, I think money comes with good content, so just follow your way and make your art blog stronger in the long run. Hans



October 8, 2008, 5:24 PM

just some ramblings...first, like everybody says, you have to base this around something that you are passionate about.

in order to make it viable you need viewers and comments. you need to market and have something of value to keep the people coming back and spreading the word.

you need to get the news out to your base that you have something that they want. your base is people from the artworld who have the time to poke around and be part of this blog. this group would include, artists, art educators, gallery and dealer people, the decorator set and people who buy art. these people need to know what you are offering, to spread the artblog "word" and you need to keep them coming back. you need to reach these people.

the internet makes meeting these people in all corners of the world a lot easier, but being in or around new york would seem to be the epicenter of your target audience. being here on the ground would seem to make a lot of sense to me. new york would also seem to provide you with the easiest access to content.

now, what will get the people to try you and have them coming back.

with content, it sounds like you are figuring this out. you have a lot of research you can study from.

how many posts did you get from the memling show? i really enjoyed that one, but would have actually liked even more commentary with that piece. that was pretty quality content. as i have mentioned before i would like to see interviews and or guest commentary when you do a piece. it can also be cool when your regulars hash it out on an interesting topic, but can be annoying when it goes too far. you need higher quality with more meat on the bones content.

in addition to your daily or weekly post i think it would benefit the site to have some other forms of content accessible.

i would also amp up the look and feel of the page or future pages.

back to work...good luck

you should scour the net for sites that you like and are successful and steal ideas as well.



October 8, 2008, 7:56 PM

above i was sending myself back to work, not you.

currently your site comes off like some guy doing this out of his basement. in a way that is cool and all, but if you want this to take off you really need to take it up many more levels. you definitely have a great dedicated core group of regulars to tangle with the masses. that is a huge plus, but you need to make a big jump up in many other areas.

after a quick look around i don't really see any art sites that would be competitors that are all that great. which ones do you respect and or like?

two sites on the periphery of what you are attempting and are successful, yet are not blogs, that may or may not help, but take a look anyways. i often check out the house section here (archives) this months highlight even has a noland

i just think some things can be learned from these two sites in combination with what you are attempting.

make some big improvements in the posts/reviews you are currently doing with the blog, add some crossover ideas from these sites above, and take a little here and there from other art sites and you could make a run at it. this may be to commercial for you, but if you want to get out of the basement.....


Bunny Smedley

October 9, 2008, 8:23 AM

This isn't exactly the most ruthlessly commercial point, but I still think the most important feature of this site is actually you, Franklin - your voice, you views, your sense of what's interesting and what's not worth mentioning, your work, the kind of conversations you provoke or encourage or tolerate — because, put bluntly, the internet being the thing it is, everything else either is or possibly could be available somewhere else. If people keep coming back here, it's because they like hanging out at your place.

So in a way, I am not sure it matters hugely whether you include a lot of reviews, or factual content, or opinion pieces - obviously some of it will attract more search-engine type hits than others, but the visitors who come back for more will be doing it because of something special about your approach to it all.

Actually, I guess all I'm saying is that I hope you don't end up pressurising yourself into trying to be or do something you aren't, because experience suggests that people who do that end up getting a bit bored and jaded - sentiments which immediately transfer themselves, as if by magic, to the site itself. Please keep being you and doing the things that make you want to get up in the morning and blog something.

Um, actually that wasn't very commercial at all, was it? I still think I'm right, though.


Bunny Smedley

October 9, 2008, 8:33 AM

Sorry, just a quick two-part postscript.

1) If your overall hits have dropped over the past few weeks, don't you think the global economic excitements might have had something to do with it? Anecdotally, there really are people who've been watching the market news etc rather than pondering the deficiencies and promise of the contemporary art scene, however much we might find this astonishing.

2) If you want lots of hits, rather than unique visitors, the thing to do is start fights in the comments. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that boosts hits faster.



October 9, 2008, 9:41 AM

first, whether this remains pretty much in the same format or becomes a more fleshed out entity the quality of the content needs to go up. many posts often seem like last minute attempts to quickly get something up. if this sticks to a stricly art blog format and the content is not improved dramatically, you will always just be waiting for the one time drive bys or george (who i agree with john link is good for you) who is always circling.

still these people( along with the group i termed the base above) are very important and you need to get them the word about your site, but i might wait to do that until you get better content. you may only get one shot at these people.

the first thing i mentioned in this thread is that this needs to be something you are passionate about. artblog needs to be your vision, but to be successful it most likely needs to be bigger than franklin. sure you have a few rush limbaughs or martha stewarts out there, but you give this a much better chance if you make it more about the company than the ceo or media face. it is your vision and you will be the driving force, but artblog needs to be what it is all about. the company comes first.



October 9, 2008, 9:57 AM

I prefer the more universal takes on art and the philosophy of making art. There's a lot of art websites out there that are review heavy or press release-ish--boring. I like how Artblog can be both ultra-specific and wide-lensed.



October 9, 2008, 10:03 AM

as bunny mentions, you can find alot of this extra stuff all over the net, but you need to pull all the best pieces together and make it a better cohesive whole.

you started small and have learned a lot. you need to build on your strenghts as a writer with ties to good people in the arts community. it may help if you build some partnerships as well. some that may not pay much or at all at first. but you have talented commentors on this site that may be willing to help you make this work and provide you with content.



October 9, 2008, 10:14 AM

i also enjoy the universal takes on art, but it would benefit to have some regulars help you with this content. it will be very hard to do on your own. also you have other art writer contacts, who i don't think comment hear, but may help you and give them a platform to share their thought from.



October 9, 2008, 10:52 AM

Re #10
1) If your overall hits have dropped over the past few weeks, don't you think the global economic excitements might have had something to do with it?

No, I checked some other sites and that isn't the case to any major degree.

The real problem is that Franklin is preaching to the choir. He's playing the same old tunes everyone already knows. After awhile it becomes irrelevant and therefore boring, people like me move on.

Formalism has run out of fresh ideas and is bankrupt. RIP


Arthur Whitman

October 9, 2008, 11:03 AM


If you want to boost hits, general and polemical posts are better than reviews. It is difficult to debate or otherwise converse about a show when most people have not seen the work in person. Obviously, this is true even when the artist(s) are widely known.

That said, Bunny is absolutely right in stressing that your personal engagement with art is the heart and soul of the site. This is what distinguishes in a vast sea of gossipy and journalistic art blogs. Go back to the "non-format," write whatever kind of post you feel necessary, and keep writing out of the basement. Long format reviews are a strength; please don't abandon them whatever else you do.

Certainly, the need to make money is respectable. But I don't see how adopting a fixed-format is going to guarantee anything commercially. I believe it would alienate your core audience, as well as limit the site's appeal to other people looking for something unique.



October 9, 2008, 11:32 AM

but the current core audience is not giving franklin what he is looking for. they are very, very important, but that needs to be built upon. the current model is not working to achieve franklin's other goal. and maybe no matter what he does it still won't work, but doing more of the same will result in the same. or worse, because many of the previous combatants are gone. whether it is reviews (short or long), cut and paste pieces, philosophies, etc. the content, while better than most, it is still not getting it done on a regular basis.

franklin, i think you can make this viable without selling completely out, but it won't be easy and you must make changes or this will just be a hobby that loses money. and that is ok too.



October 9, 2008, 11:52 AM

The golden days of blogging are past--that's part of issue here. Sure there are still wonderful writers all over the net doing worthy things, but there is only so much room for a single website to grow. There simply is not an infinite audience for this type of work.

There are probably some things that Franklin could do to up his stats--but perhaps the internet itself is played out. Perhaps to step forward we need to go back...I for one would subscribe to an Artblog print publication. Franklin could do a watercolor on each limited edition issue...

Alternatively, like the online mag Big Red & Shiny, Franklin could do a print "best of" of the site periodically.

Although the idea of having guest bloggers is interesting...



October 9, 2008, 11:53 AM

Go back to the old free-wheel format.

As for remuneration, just use all the posts to date as research, write a book, and get it published, Franklin. Are there any books on the shelves at Books & Books (or, heaven forbid, Chapters) on contemporary art that tell it like it really is? Like you could tell it, Franklin?

WRITE THE BOOK...I'll buy it.



October 9, 2008, 2:03 PM

In reference to the title of this post, Franklin, I expect constant sex is harmful--not that I would know.



October 9, 2008, 8:18 PM

"Hodgepodge" is viewed by some as a pejorative word. Not by me, though, especially when it comes to art. The best art is not, of course, a "hodgepodge", but the process that gets us there is. As Conrad wrote through his mouthpiece Marlowe, the best way to tell the story of what it all means is to talk about everything - except what it means.

Go back to writing about everything. That's what you do best.



October 9, 2008, 8:31 PM


Formalism has run out of fresh ideas and is bankrupt. RIP

Correct. But any art that relies on ideas, fresh or otherwise, is bankrupt too.

After awhile it becomes irrelevant and therefore boring, people like me move on.

Not correct. You keep coming back and I'm glad.



October 9, 2008, 8:54 PM


The golden days of blogging are past

Well they sure didn't last very long, did they? Like 3 years? If that's true, blogging probably isn't that important anyway.

But I can't agree. Blogging is just a kid trying to grow up. Franklin has a unique combination of his own contributions and those of several equally sharp commentors. The output is raggedy and rag tag, but it produces results that are not duplicated anywhere else, on line or in print.

At its best, artblog is Plato on steroids, loosened up and enlivened by a healthy dose of Chaucer, which mercifully eliminates the dominance of any one character such as the legendary Socrates/Plato. Like pilgrims in a fog, we don't really know if we are going to or coming back from Canterbury, but the group shows signs of real life and real art when it digs into each other and into the things that Franklin tosses out, "hodgepodge" fashion. It may just take the rest of the world a long time to catch on.



October 9, 2008, 10:45 PM

Usually when you can't get a clear answer to a problem it is best to just keep going, put up the antenna and dial into the wave length of the problem.

Something always comes up.


John S

October 9, 2008, 11:35 PM

Hey John can you clarify what you mean by "any art that relies on ideas, fresh or otherwise, is bankrupt too."? I am wrestling with this concept, help me out.



October 10, 2008, 1:10 AM

John S, to put it positively, I simply mean that art depends upon feeling and seeing. "Thought", "philosophy", "issues", "theories" and the like not only often get in its way, they are toxic to it when art gives up feeling and visualness in favor of their mandates. A classic example is the propoganda art of the old Soviet Union. WWII propoganda art in the US illustrates it just as clearly. Fast forward to the here and now of "issue art" and all you get are a different set of obstacles to feeling and seeing that are made up to look more "arty" than the nationalistic patriotism I just cited.

It is possible, of course, for art to be good when the artist is involved with "ideas", even very strange ideas, as was Mondrian. But his art did not depend upon those ideas; its feeling and visual sensibility comes through fine for all those who are not even aware of the strange ideas the guy embraced. As time passes, probably fewer and fewer know much about theosophy. Mondrain ripped off theosophy for the right angle but did not allow theosophy to rip off his eyes or his instincts.

So it is when art gives itself up in favor of ideas that it goes bankrupt, bankrupt as art, that is. I'm sure the war posters worked fine for purposes of stirring up the nation to prevail against Germany and Japan. Just as "combat art" serves the military to inspire soldiers to do their jobs.

I must confess that the purpose served escapes me when an artist fakes a 26 foot long poop down a high school bowling alley to attack society's "overemphasis on world records" while claiming the poop was exactly the length of a typical human colon but at the same time the longest on record.

Does this help?



October 10, 2008, 7:06 AM

John S. - Have you ever tried to describe something to someone, something like a painting, for example, only to struggle with the words and description and get a polite blank stare from the person you are trying to help, and then when they see the paintings they immediately say "Oh, now I see what you mean!"

The old cliche "a picture is worth a thousand words" actually understates the problem. Words, ideas, theories, concepts - they are all, by nature, fragile, mutable, temporary and transitory. They are not real, but because they are our pathway to action and socialization we fool ourselves into thinking they are.



October 10, 2008, 8:59 AM

All good stuff to consider above. I'm in the thick of house negotiations, but I'm listening.



October 10, 2008, 9:21 AM

"any art that relies on ideas, fresh or otherwise, is bankrupt too."

This is false depending on how one uses "relies".

It's an easy way out for brain dead painters. Ideas will lead painting into the 21st century.



October 10, 2008, 9:37 AM

"ideas will lead painting into the 21st century"

Now there's a "brain-dead" idea. The only thing that leads painting is better painting.

Off-topic, George - Futures are down 50% this morning, the down is off 40+%. Are we at a bottom? What do you think?


John S

October 10, 2008, 1:10 PM

I am not sure if it was helpful. "Ideas/theories etc" are a complex bunch. It seems like the choice in my art making is between "just doing it" where the ideas/theories/feelings are used to explain the outcome and the other is thinking of the idea THEN paint accordingly. I don't think you can get around this "idea" thing guys. They exist. Either I am conscious of them or I am not, but they are there. Therefore I can not agree that they bankrupt the work, because all art would then be bankrupt according to your statement. You said that it was feeling and seeing that counts. I agree too. I feel excited (an idea) about this red textured swath on the canvas (an idea-namely dealing with design). I also agree that you simply can not over analyze the visual art WHILE making it. Don't you think that is why we are on the Artblog to discuss the ideas behind the art? (Thanks to Franklin for providing this venue) Your Mondrian example fits for the propaganda work too. The propaganda idea is there but we can judge the work, just like Mondrian's. That 26 foot crap on the bowling is far beyond anything I can understand to even discuss. Yes, it is based on ideas as well. So I wonder if we are discussing art and ideas or painting and ideas. Hell, this is complex



October 10, 2008, 2:02 PM


For IRA investors there is NO bottom in sight yet.

I don't have time to comment here on this. You can read my blog, FutureModern Finance which has charts and my intrepretation of the current events as they are unwinding.



October 10, 2008, 3:58 PM

You don't have to comment, George. You answered it. You said there is no bottom. I don't know how the "IRA" bottom is different from any other bottom, but let's leave it at that, inasmuch as you are short on time.

You are making it too complex, John S., just as most everyone does. Of course there are "ideas" going in and coming out of art all the time. Any kind of articulable thought is an "idea". It is just a matter of what you do with it.

One of Mondrian's ideas was you should not use diagonals. This is an idea, but it is also a working convention. The turd on the bowling alley, on the other hand, apparently has no esthetic life outside of the weak rationalization expressed to justify it. Art that depends on ideas has no substance. It has no justification calling itself art.



October 10, 2008, 4:49 PM


Quickie here

I bought today, I think it was a low for traders not IRA investors.
Market goes up and down inside of bigger ups and downs, we're in a bigger down making a tradeable up. Unless you know what you're doing you should stay out. I easily could have egg on my face Monday.


that guy

October 10, 2008, 5:09 PM

I would say the markets put in a 6-9 month bottom here. Monday will be a huge gap open. It will run higher for at least a week. There will be pull backs but expect 1300 on the S&P by January 09.



October 10, 2008, 5:12 PM



that guy

October 10, 2008, 5:19 PM

thats exactly why, George.



October 10, 2008, 5:40 PM

that guy,

best not to use me as a contrary indicator unless you know why I said 'nope'


that guy

October 10, 2008, 6:22 PM

You are right George, but there are now just enough suckers who will not believe in this new rally to actually help the new rally get underway. This will help feed the markets. From this point forward the bad news is priced in. Guess we will have to see. We need some organized person on this blog to remind us in January where the s%p is? I'll take 1300 +or- 200 any day from these levels. John, Opie any takers? We could call this the artblog sucker bet stock challenge.



October 10, 2008, 7:07 PM

They will be scurrying around this weekend doing more fixing. At least they have finally got the idea that the important thing is to get the money moving through the banks. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

There can't be a whole lot more bad news. Monday should be up, although there will be residual selling. We'll see.

George, if your "nope" needs explaining, why not explain it?



October 10, 2008, 7:14 PM

price on what date in january? regardless of which date you pick i will go with 1111. that is still a strong retracement over a relatively short period of time. and i think i am likely over rather than under. guy, one thing you need to have certain is that this is the bottom. if we go lower, your number seems very high, that could hurt you. what do i win if i am closest?



October 10, 2008, 7:21 PM

i don't see any way that we can get over 1260 by january


that guy

October 10, 2008, 7:41 PM

We might be near your number in two weeks. Take a look at the semi's and real estate ETFs. The laggards are now the leaders. A major change from what we have seen this year. This move will be a bear rally to end all bear rallies. I also expect gold and oil to be halved by that same time. Also take a look at gold, one of last years leaders, taken to the woodshed today. The market changed character after this mornings spike to 7900 on the DOW If you are short stocks going into this weekend get out Monday.
Lets say January 1st, and you win a cookie if your are closest!


that guy

October 10, 2008, 7:50 PM

Just for clarification, 1, I was referring to your first number above, not the 1260 # from your second post.



October 10, 2008, 11:47 PM

There can always be more bad news. The spread between the 3 month Libor and the 3 month T-bill set a new record today, 4.6 where "normal" is 0.5 or less. It measures the willingness of institutions to extend overnight loans to each other. Detroit needs more billions. CA is teetering. God knows how many unnamed (as yet) banks are on the edge. Hedge funds are full of OTC stuff they can't sell so they must sell stocks to satisfy their redemption obligations. Leveraged ETFs and even conventional mutual funds are in a similar position. Larry McMillian says nervous banks have raised margin requirements from 15% to 35% for broker dealers and hedge funds, forcing liquidations that would not otherwise have become necessary. There is a lot more going on than sub prime loans that aren't being paid back.

The rally at the end of the day Friday carried the DOW to plus 333 for a minute or so, then faded 461 points straight down into the final 30 minutes. Immediately after the close, oder imbalances were on the sell side, which was responsible for shaving off the final 20 or so points.

Minus 128 is a better ending than minus 500 in today's environment, but the early morning plunge was not "the bottom" some might wish was part of a "key reversal" day. To be that the Plunge Protection Team or whomever was responsible with the late day pop (and flop) should have gotten it underway at 10 am, not at 3 pm, and made sure it succeeded, instead of the 450 plunge that followed it.

Those who think there will be an upside as steep as the downside has been steep are overly optimistic, to say the least. The reasons the downside has been so steep remain in place and will take a time to work out. The stock market points to the future, but not the indefinite future. Yes someday it will all be fixed. But not soon.

The 2002 lows remain as a magnet that can readily draw the market back down to themselves, and lower. Next week is expiration week, and they typically exert a positive effect, but positive relative to what whould happen without all their extra activity, not necessairly absolutely.

I won't predict what will happen Monday, but I don't see any "gap open" lasting much longer than today's two momentary peaks. I hope that George bought at one of the two bottoms. If he did, he should have a chance to unload at a profit on Monday. But he must be mentally nimble because the question of how long to hold them is hardly clear, which is why I agree with him that this is not a place for "investors" to get involved. It is for speculation with money you can afford to lose - because that is quite possibly what will happen to it. Market mechanisms are working fine. But it is a very fast market that swings this way and that like an unattended fire hose pumping 500 gallons a minute, consuming money by the barrellful.

It is easy to be left holding the bag. Warren Buffett is typically early and I think he is early here, but his capacity to hold a bag until it is profitable exceeds that of just about anyone on earth, except the government (and the government cannot be counted upon to play fair, quite the opposite.) The rest of us should be cautious.

As scary as today was, it wasn't scary enough to put this junk behind us. Whatever you do, don't take my thoughts about this as anything but wild speuclation.



October 11, 2008, 12:10 AM

Forgot. McMillan also ...reports that the most massive of the margin calls for broker dealers and hedge funds are due Monday, October 13 ... the day the optimists amongst us think the market will soar. Like I said, there is too much going on to reach a simple conclusion. To trade in it, you must be very nimble and have money to burn, if that's how it turns out.



October 11, 2008, 2:42 AM

meanwhile, on the potato-eater front...



October 11, 2008, 5:25 AM

Trying to buy a house in this market is interesting, to put it gently. We have a good chunk of money to put down, we plan to live in it for many years, and I expect to make a profit but not a killing on the sale, so I think we're going to be okay. The Fed cutting the prime rate to 1.5 will help us a bit. Home prices in urban areas have been mightily resistant to falling even when hit with phenomena like the dot-bomb.

But the dot-bomb was a doodle compared to this, and it's clear from the Fannie/Freddy implosion that government interference in the lending market has injected a massive amount of distortion into home prices. I'm counting on the fact that foreclosures in the area are getting snapped up at non-bargain-basement prices, or are simply being left to languish as undesirable properties that have little effect on the price of the desirable ones. As long as people continue to make babies and land doesn't stretch, urban housing surpluses will eventually disappear, sooner rather than later in places that aren't balmy and horribly overbuilt with condos like South Florida.

We're not disaster-proof. But I figure, who is?


that guy

October 11, 2008, 7:07 AM

Yes John, you are correct. We might test 830 next week but I don't see that as likely. Also a bear rally isn't so much a optimistic rally. Bear rallies are volatile and sloppy they feed on the everyones pessimism. The same logic that says "Stocks, they can't go any higher from here", creates the perfect buying opportunities for those who where short. Short covering is going to play a big role now. The more shorts who cover the more buying at distressed levels gets reported in the news, this in tern gets more suckers to buy, thinking they can get all their losses back and then some. Only to discover new highs will not be made this time. I'm saying the highest we go is around 1300. Below these prices rest giants who are starting to wake up.



October 11, 2008, 7:43 AM

John, wasn't that weird volatility a result of very unusual manipulation of some kind or another, and doesn't that affect how the moves are interpreted?

Franklin, where are you buying a house?



October 11, 2008, 8:38 AM

based on the locales from previous posts it seems likely franklin is landing in boston or within a radius of at most 200 miles or so.



October 11, 2008, 10:53 AM

Opie (#50), the paranoid that lives inside me has always believed in the existence of a "Plunge Protection Team" that is under the direction of the government. Such a PPT could very well have done that buy program. It certainly was a buy program of someone's doing. By flooding the market with orders for S&P futures, at a relatively inexpensive cost, you can trigger arbitrage programed computers run by others to buy the actual stocks. Up to a point, you can profit because your investment in the futures can be recovered because your upside bet is somewhat self fulfilling. (Works the same way going down too.)

Whomever did it seemed to be seeking to reduce the fear that could and probably would have buit up over the weekend, had the buy program not been run. The PPT is a prime suspect because of the big wigs meeting this weekend, and because generally it wants to stop the decline. But it could be a coalition of liquidators who wanted to goose up the market some before they sold what they knew they had to sell, and commenced selling after the end of the program.

From a wave perspective, what they created was a clear a-b-c countertrend rally at a couple of degrees inside the downtrend. The big drop down is clearly of the impulsive type and a "third of a third". So this thin little rally was a fourth of one degree or another and appears to have completed or nearly completed. The signal, then, is for the fifth wave down to commence Monday. When it is complete we should expect a somewhat extended counter trend rally, before the decline resumes.

The problem I've always had with Elliott Wave theory is that it is better at analysing what has happened than predicting what will happen. But the last week or so bears all the characteristics of a "third of a third" and that validates the suggestion that "ones and twos" had indeed lined up to propel the thing. The pop and flop, then, is most likely a fourth of some sort, which says the decline will return for a fifth. Fifths can extend further than thirds, but I doubt this one will.

But even if this was a minor a-b-c fourth wave, it might develop into something much more extended, as in an x-y-a-xy-b-x-y-c, or any number of other complex forms that take much more time to complete. But in the context of the way the "ones and twos" piled up over the past six weeks, and then the lightning quick form of the third of a third, the "look" of the thin bounce is that is is over or just about over. If it is a fourth wave, there must be a fifth in the other direction, which will be down. The probability is that the fifth started at yesterday's close.

From the wave perspective, "manipulation" is just part of the game. Big players with a lot of capital, insiders, governments, all have advantages over ordinary people and know how to get around the rules or in the case of the government to violate them with impunity. Nontheless, they are just as susceptible to the "social mood" that drives everyone. Price action is the effect of this mood, not the cause, according to the wavers. Bush summarized it well in his five minute talk yesterday when he said this is "just" about fear. He was correct, even though he played a big role in stoking this fear when he leveraged it to get his bailout passed. He has also brought back a Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division from Iraq (a true combat brigade, not a unit of the National Guard) for specialized training in controlling domestic problems. They are now located at Fort Stewart in GA.

FDR said the same thing when he said that all we should fear (in a third wave down) is fear itself. FDR was smart enough to take steps to calm things. Bush's can't seem to get any more positive than to express contempt for it. But we shall see what happens this weekend.

In a massive third wave (either direction) contrarian indicators don't work very well. The herd is all lined up, like the good little ducks God intended them to be, and they are feeling the same thing because they have hit the "point of recognition" where what they are feeling is true. It interests me that CNBC constantly runs a logo on its lower banner lately that says "Is your money safe?" - even when they attempt to return to their former cheerleading role. Where are Ralph Acompora and Abbey Joseph Cohen and Joe Battataglia in their programming? Instead CNN is adding a new "criminal" market participant each night to its "10 Most Wanted" list. I'm sure some of those people will wind up in jail, too.


that guy

October 11, 2008, 11:22 AM

John, I know that was for Opie, but I will just have to trust Occams razor on this one. If we close under 825 I'll reenter shorts, otherwise be vary careful on the short side, and any dip should not be bought in my opinion.



October 11, 2008, 11:25 AM

that guy (#49), you are right that short covering is back in play. The most effective intrusion by the government into our "free" market lately was September 25 (I think) when they goosed the shorts with a well timed announcement about their bailout plan - on a Thursday in expiration week.

Once the governement curtailed shorting, their interventions became much more short lived. So they recognized that shorts are not the unpatriotic demons they had painted them to be, but rather are market participants especially susceptible to governmental abuse, er, use.

You are also right that bear market rallies are quite violent. After all, stocks are "on sale".

Unlike our speculations about the future of art, these about Monday in the financial market are 1), quantifiable, and 2), will very soon reveal who amongst us, if any, got it right.


that guy

October 11, 2008, 11:30 AM

Thats right, I think thats why a large number of participants to this blog follow the markets. Its fun!



October 11, 2008, 11:34 AM

that guy (#53) - shorts must always be careful. Everyone hates them, especially when they make money.

I think it was Bush himself who said market manipulators will be prosecuted (can the governement prosecute itself?). I doubt that anyone who manipulates shorts will see jail time.

If you are good at scalping, dips are the best place to go long -- the right dips, of course, of which there have not been many lately.

A more tradeable low seems "just around the corner" to me. I just can't tell which corner.



October 11, 2008, 11:38 AM

#51 is correct. South Boston if our current negotiation goes through, north Providence if it doesn't, rural New Hampshire if we can't get a loan, at which point I will buy something free and clear and invest in gold and guns.


that guy

October 11, 2008, 11:49 AM

"gold and guns" thats good. Wait awhile on the gold.



October 11, 2008, 12:31 PM

re #50 opie

See the lead post on "Ugly Thursday - Set up for a reversal?" the remarks about the "vacuume effect" explain what happened in the first hour on Friday. This was an important exhaustion signal. The rest of the day followed the expected pattern, a sag but a recovery into the close (on a Friday) reaffirming the opening hour. The next three days might be a fractal of Fridays behavior.

For an explaination of "nope", you'll need to click on the September archives and read "Bailout Week MCO Update" from Saturday, September 27, 2008



October 11, 2008, 12:52 PM

FWIW, Friday, the SPX closed 50 points or 5.2% below the lower Bollinger Band, this is a Crash or Rebound situation, one or the other will happen on Monday.

I think it will be a rebound, but there is nothing to guarantee this, the move could go either way. One slip of the tongue over the weekend could cause another 600+ point decline in the DJIA or the converse.



October 12, 2008, 2:21 AM

George: John Bollinger himself says: "Closes outside the Bollinger Bands can be continuation signals, not reversal
signals--as is demonstrated by the use of Bollinger Bands in some very successful volatility-breakout systems." Both Thursday and Friday's closes were definitely outside the lower band, as were a couple of others over the past two weeks. He also says: "tags of the bands are just that, tags not signals. A tag of the upper Bollinger Band is NOT in-and-of-itself a sell signal. A tag of the lower Bollinger
Band is NOT in-and-of-itself a buy signal." The lower band has been tagged a number of times in the past week also.

I've always thought the necessary condition for a "crash" is a deeply oversold condition. Regardless, I think most would agree that price action this past week constitutes a crash. It was the largest one week point drop in the DOW and the largest one week percentage drop in history, I have heard. Don't know if that is really true, but it has been almost straight down.



October 12, 2008, 2:30 AM

If ideas do not have formal 'go' then they are unformed. An unformed idea is something before the idea is formed. Not trying to be smart here, though when an idea is formed, or bracketed as art, and is 'on' the 'go' then it is working formally as well. Of course art is an extension of life. But when we talk of the extension let's consider leaving the head on the dog. Looks stupid the higher end with four legs, headless, wagging its tail.



October 12, 2008, 2:49 AM

I could perhaps summaraize my previous comment by putting it into the form of a question: Why can't Monday be just another down day in the markets, say 100-300 points down like so many of them have been lately. That is, aren't there more possiblities than monster drop or monster surge?



October 12, 2008, 7:10 AM

Ideas attach to all human activities, even the most formal. It would be silly to think that you could remove them entirely from a work of art. Rather, modernists distinguish between the success of the ideas and the success of the art, and make the latter their ultimate concern.



October 12, 2008, 8:34 AM

Hi c.p. - Of course art is NOT an extension of life. Artists must be alive to make art, but art (as their product) and life are not the same thing. Even though art enhances life if it is good enough, it does that whether the artist is alive or not. The enhancement is special because art is quite distinct from life, and is therefore able to contribute something unique to it. But there is a difference between attempting enhancement and achieving it.

You may be familiar with Rosenberg's "American Action Painters" (50s essay) in which he asserted action painting "broke down every distinction between art and life". Are you familiar also that in the early 70s he said that his theory led to some of the worst art imaginable? He did not take back the theory, however, so you may find him to be a valuable ally.



October 12, 2008, 8:52 AM


I know what the general rules are for the Bollinger bands and like most of the technical rules, they work in normal markets. We can use certain numerical levels as overbought and oversold trading guidelines and they work most of the time. This is NOT most of the time.

The current market technical condition is at levels 2x what we would "normally" call an "oversold" signal. While this increases the odds of a rebound it also makes the outcome of a failure much worse than 'normal'

This is also reflected in the interpretation of the Bollinger bands which assume that price variations are normally distributed. Assuming they are, the lower 2 sigma bollinger band should bound 95.45% of the price movement, the 3 sigma band, 99.73%. Fridays intraday low tagged the 3 sigma band and closed below the 2 sigma band by 2.5%.

Statistically we would expect the SPX to rally to a point inside the band on Monday, that is my "Rebound".

But what if the market fails to rebound? Under "normal" conditions we could possibly have a modest movement and still remain below the lower band. However under the current conditions, with the other technical indicators extremely oversold, a failure to rally would be an indication that the price movements are remaining outside the normal distributions and extending the current "Crash".

In other words, the prices would continue to "slide" down the lower Bollinger band until they finally reverse. In order to do this, at this later stage in the game, requires high volume to sustain the selling pressure and IF this occurs something bad is happening.

It looks to me like the first hour on Friday was the start of a reversal to the upside. At the end of the day, the advance decline difference had narrowed considerably, this is an indication that a number of issues are now resisting the decline enough to move from negative to positive during the day.

But conditions are still critical and news events OR lack of them, may have an adverse effect on the markets in the coming week. ALSO, keep in mind that futures and options expire next week.

Finally, all the current price activities suggest that the markets will retest the recent lows in both the short term (days) and the intermediate term (weeks). I do not expect to see the final lows until after March of 2009.

My numbers for the SPX yesterday were incorrect, it closed at 899.22, 2.5% below the lower BB.

I rarely use the word "crash" when discussing the markets, it's a term used by newsletter writers to frighten people in order to build subscriptions. So when I have used the term recently, I was deeply concerned.

I consider a "crash" to be a single day move greater than about 8% or a multiple day move greater than 15%.



October 12, 2008, 9:16 AM

cp - like most of our "deeper questions" the art-life-idea breaks down pretty easily.

First, we have to understand that art & life & idea are words, not things, and we necessarily use them imprecisely and with varying precision. They are things which try to communicate a mental reference to things.

An "idea", in the most practical usage, is something which can be expressed in words. If I think "red should go there" that is an idea. The red, when it goes on, is not an idea.

The turd on the bowling alley is not an idea. That it expresses some kind of social criticism is an idea.

When we say something is art it is basically a direction for reaction: this is art, therefore react to according to how one should react to art. Strictly speaking, ideas cannot be art. I suppose one can write down an idea and then say it is art (this has been done, one way or another) but it is certainly a special case, untypical.

Much of the confusion here is based on "the idea" that ideas, as such, are sacred cows, inculcated in us by our education, when really ideas are just bits and pieces of articulated thought which zip through our heads a million times a day.

John, I think of art as a kind of codified life, although I find the "idea" impossible to justify in words.



October 12, 2008, 11:53 AM

Ok I got slammed for that brief comment.
Personally I tend to approach studio time as something outside the normal. It would be wonderful to spend every waking moment in a state of readiness, but I haven’t figured that one. So yes, I’ll call that time an extension, life out on a limb.
Visually, looking can only take you so far. We don't cut language into little pieces to find out what is useful and what is not. The process of thinking intuitively, visually, I can’t remember reading the records that the idea was out of the game. An idea can be the impetus, and another idea on top of that can produce counter moves. The visual is not open-ended, like all things, and experiences, it is contained within a paradigm. And as such we are all trying to get out of that one, right!
How we leap across one visual paradigm to another, keep leaping until the ‘feel’ is right that you are on a good thing, must have something to do with ‘idea’, if only in the simple metaphor of a light bulb which switches on illuminating the darkness: Or, as a frog would have it, opens possibility to the next or next lily pad.
Distance makes things blurry so to argue that a visual sense can always get you to the next pad doesn’t always work. Call it idea, intuition, this is the light bulb, the time-o-space travel of the mind, the visual playground, until a moment rings, and it’s time to leave the things in focus and move on.




October 12, 2008, 12:10 PM

"Strictly speaking, ideas cannot be art."

I'm not so sure about that one, opie...



October 12, 2008, 1:54 PM


I've updated my blog with charts of 1929, 1973-75, 1987 and 2008 crashes, the charts are scaled equally for comparison.



October 12, 2008, 3:24 PM

Those are beautiful charts, George. Thanks.

Wasif Latif, a VP for USAA Investment Mangement in San Antonio, said: "This is not a Benjamin Graham market. This is a Sigmund Freud market." (Graham is considered to be the father of value investing.)

Funny how Freud can never be trumped by "reason", whether stocks and their computed valuations, or art and the wordy buzz that always surrounds it. While the buzz that is attached to art is not strictly speaking "computed", it is nonetheless rational, or tries to be.

To alter LBJ, if you've got his pecker in your pocket, his mind is sure to follow. This works most of the time. The inverse never does.



October 12, 2008, 3:31 PM

Opie, I think of art as a time out from life, even if I'm doing something "realistic", such as photography.

Consider, for instance, Cezanne's portraits of his wife. So distanced and cool, yet so hot as art.



October 12, 2008, 3:36 PM

re #71 jonh,

Thanks I had to modify my software so I could control the timeframe and scaling.

All markets are Sigmund Freud markets.

Market psychology is the only thing which does not change.

"Valuation" is nothing more than a marketing tool to get the players to belly up to the crap table. Think about it, you'll see I'm right.



October 12, 2008, 3:38 PM

Me: "Formalism has run out of fresh ideas and is bankrupt. RIP

John: "Correct. But any art that relies on ideas, fresh or otherwise, is bankrupt too."

No, formalism has not kept up with the art, it's stuck in the 1970's and frayed around the edges. There is a new formalism developing in the underground among younger artists. One example might be the Music Genome project.

Regardless, the art of the analysis of art, has succumbed to navel gazing and petty border skirmishes and as such has run out of ideas which can provide any meaningful insight into the art of the twenty first century. This doesn't have to be be the case, it is a result of a lack of imagination.

All art relies on ideas. The information is transmitted visually, how effective you are at the visual enhances how effectively you communicate. Most contemporary painting is equivalent to grunting, you are making visual noise but you aren't saying much.



October 12, 2008, 4:43 PM

George: "Most contemporary painting is equivalent to grunting, you are making visual noise but you aren't saying much."

Correct again, especially the "visual noise" part. I'd almost bet Jack agrees too.

Here is a more complete example of something I cited somewhere above, about the "critique of world records" as an idea that swamped one artist's work, Peristaltic Action. It communicates rather thoroughly the artist's contempt for world records and is part of a small but consistent body of work. What more could you ask for?



October 12, 2008, 4:58 PM

From the Village Voice article titled "Let's Make an Ordeal (Young Artists Recover the Conceptual 70s in the Material 90s)": "Hines says her series [World Recprds] is about the quest for immortality and the absurd lengths one will go to be remembered. She dares to parody work which has always been treated with reverence by vanguard artists, even if others regarded it as masochism or madness."

If all you care about is the communication of ideas, seems like she was successful.



October 12, 2008, 4:59 PM


oh come on, that's not what I meant at all. No one's taking that shit seriously.

That expression "dumb like a painter" seems to have taken hold here. What would Leonardo thought?



October 12, 2008, 6:35 PM

Spoos are up $31. Don't know what fair value is, but if that holds there will be a nice pop at the open tomorrow.

The Village Voice takes "that shit" seriously.


that guy

October 12, 2008, 6:44 PM

Gap likely, gap fully filled less likely.



October 12, 2008, 6:55 PM

Spoos have lost 5 points, DOW futures have lost 60 or so.

I will wait until 7 Eastern. That's when the first Asian market opens. (Can't remember which one.)



October 12, 2008, 7:08 PM


I just don't know what to say. It seems like everyone here spends all their time looking for things to be afraid of. Nobody seems to have any feel for the ebb and flow of ideas at the street level.

I think we are on the cusp of the biggest cultural change since the 1960's. It will affect everything, art, music, literature, fashion, business, each in its own way. I believe the driving force is primarily generational, out with the old, in with the new. Now, I mentioned this once before here and received a lot of snippy responses. Well, I'm talking to young artists and curators here in NYC and they are curious.

Yesterday I went to a talk given by Rhizome at the New Museum. I was early and while I was waiting I had a very interesting conversation with the guard. He was a 23 year old, recent art school graduate. I asked him what he did and he rang off the litany of art school answers, "some performance, some installation, some video, but lately, you know they say painting is dead, but you know I decided I was interested in painting, so that's what I'm doing now" We had a nice talk about change

We had an interesting conversation because we were exchanging ideas, I wasn't telling him how it was, I was asking him what he thought. It is his generation which is going to define art for the next 30 years. Mover over.

PS. They all seem to think Postmodernism is bullshit, like I told everyone here three years ago, you all can quit fighting it.



October 12, 2008, 7:10 PM

Give me an example, MC.

You too, George. "navel gazing" and "run out of ideas" and "meaningful insight" is just boring pap talk.

CP you are being way too ornate and complicated. People turn "ideas" into some kind of fetish, as if "ideas" are some elevated virtue. Ideas are just mental formations which are used to deal with reality. If we don't take things for what they are we cannot talk about them sensibly.



October 12, 2008, 7:12 PM

YOU told US Postmodernism was bullshit??

Good grief!!



October 12, 2008, 7:22 PM

George: whatever "happens next" in art, it will have to excite someone (not exactly sure who). But excitement is a necessary condition, not a sufficient one. People get excited by lots of things, many of which have no legs.

When I was teachiing painting, the music most often requested by my students was Johnny Cash, which still surprises me. Likewise, if you go far enough back in mining (robbing) the past, it seems more likely to gain acceptance. Perhaps painting itself is way back enough to allow for some excitement. But "some performance, some installation, some video" still have the upper hand in the school where I taught in the "fine" arts. Graphic design, of course, dominated the vocational side, which was larger than all the fine arts and crafts put together.

That guy: CNBC has fair value on the spoos at 12 and 102 for the DOW, so the picture painted so far by the futures is somewhat diminished, especially as far as a gap up open goes.



October 12, 2008, 7:53 PM


"whatever "happens next" in art, it will have to excite someone (not exactly sure who)."

Of course, it's makers. It's something that will be led by the new generation, it's got nothing to do with your students, it will be a few special people who will sow the seeds and it will develop on its own. I have seen this happen in the fashion industry Kate and Laura Mulleavy are my nieces, and I have seen this whole process unfold from the inside.

My nieces have college degrees from UC Berkeley, in art history and literature, they had no training at all in fashion until they started the business. The Spring 2009 show was held in the Gagosian gallery last month.

So this change will happen because a new generation will ignore people like opie, and just do what they want. They will learn as they go, be more creative than their teachers, work harder, ignore boundaries, and push art into the future. You can bet on it.


Relax, the futures don't mean squat until about 8:30 AM Monday, anything can happen in the thin overnight markets.



October 12, 2008, 8:24 PM

Holy shit, George, the Mulleavys your nieces? They bring such an intelligent and unique vision to fashion. They are the most interesting designers I have seen in a long long time.

How was the Eliz Peyton show at new Museum? I have avoided it, but am curious.

Franklin-your reviews are excellent--I think as someone said earlier, most people haven't seen the work and so can't comment...but I appreciate them and learning about the artists--I've met Ann Walsh but never seen her work, so was very interested to see it.



October 12, 2008, 8:33 PM

I, for one, am glad that John brought up Peristaltic Action. Therein lies the new generations' bold renunciation of old ways. Michelle Hines (a young lady herself) certainly "ignored boundaries", and "pushed art" into, if not the future, than at least onto the bowling alley in an admirably unbroken line.

George, you seem to have a great faith in the progress of mankind. Yes, the new generation may be the artmakers, movers, and shakers, but that in no way promises a good future for art. It's easy enough set up a dichotomy between old codgers afraid of change and a new generation heralding in what we all need to see. "Ignoring boundaries" is a cliche in itself now--the argument could be made that at this point in time, setting boundaries is actually more bold that shucking them. Sometimes deregulation isn't the answer.



October 12, 2008, 8:37 PM

George, opie is the most brilliant person I know. Granted, sheer intelligence isn't the only way to puzzle out art, but he is just too smart to ignore. His students would do that at their peril. Same for the rest of us, old and not so old alike.



October 12, 2008, 8:42 PM

McFawn ... Hines not only ignored boundaries, she also ignored phyisiology. Elephants may have 26 foot long colons, but the human colon is 3, maybe 4 feet long. But then, that qualifies as "pushing boundaries", eh?



October 12, 2008, 8:52 PM

McFawn hit it on the head when she said "setting boundaries is actually more bold that shucking them." You really can get black balled these days if you champion discipline, control over mediums, and the like.

As I watched academic art administration "evolve" over 40 years, I noticed that the principles of avant-gardism came to be taked as dogma by most department chairs and all recent deans. Deans tend to be the most fuddy-duddy of the old fuddy-duddies. And the most often wrong.

But stuff like Hines' hiney does get people excited.

Then there is sad stuff like the art student who committed suicide by hanging himself in an art building. It was many hours before people who saw it realized it was real - they thought it was a performance piece.



October 12, 2008, 8:57 PM

""Strictly speaking, ideas cannot be art.""

I think a joke, or even a funny thought, could be considered a form of art, in that it can be appreciated for its own sake, and can be entirely solipsistic, or it can be formalized into something communicable.


that guy

October 12, 2008, 9:01 PM

God, an art student killed himself in an art building! When where? Thats awful.



October 12, 2008, 9:19 PM

like john i need to stand up for opie on this one. sure you could maybe overlook some others of lesser pedigree than him on this blog and still be wrong. but while young or even old serious artists eventually need to have their own vision, most would be foolish not to benefit from what someone like he could share with them.

you are just getting personal with this one.

but maybe we are in for some kind of change. the mayan calnedar says so in 2012. 2000 did not change the world , but maybe 2012 is the year



October 12, 2008, 9:21 PM

McFawn says "I, for one, am glad that John brought up Peristaltic Action. Therein lies the new generations' bold renunciation of old ways."

It's hopeless, the boundary lies in your own mind. It's the very fact you are even wasting your time worrying about something that has nothing to do with you, nothing at all. You are creating your own mental obstacles, what for?

Progress. One step after another? yes. Before and After. A point of demarcation that will be obvious looking back from the future.

You are worried about definitions, "boundaries" or "a good future for art." Your own conceptual cliches are holding you back, those are the "boundaries" I'm talking about. The young generation do not have these hang ups, they don't know it cannot be done, they won't take no for an answer and they do have a vision for great art. A douzen people can change everything, like it or not.


Bertrand Russell

October 12, 2008, 9:37 PM

If Hamlet is to be interesting to a really modern reader, it must first be translated into the language of Marx or of Freud, or better still, into a jargon inconsisently compounded of both. I read some years ago a contemptuous review of a book by Santayana, mentioning an essay on Hamlet 'dated, in every sense, 1908' -- as if what has been discovered since then made any earlier appreciation of Shakespeare irrelevant and comparatively superficial. It did not occur to the reviewer that his review was 'dated, in every sense, 1936'. Or perhaps this thought did occur to him, and filled him with satisfaction. He was writing for the moment, not for all time; next year he will have adopted the new fashion in opinions, whatever it may be, and he no doubt hopes to remain up to date as long as he continues to write. Any other ideal for a writer would seem absurd and old-fashioned to the modern-minded man.

The desire to be contemporary is of course new only in degree; it has existed to some extent in all previous periods that believed themselves to be progressive. The Renaissance had a contempt for Gothic centuries that had preceded it; the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries covered priceless mosaics with whitewash; the Romantic movement despised the age of the heroic couplet. Eighty years ago Lecky reproached my mother for being led by intellectual fashion to oppose fox-hunting: ''I am sure,'' he wrote, ''you are not really at all sentimental about foxes or at all shocked at the prettiest of all the assertions of women's rights, riding across country. But you always look upon politics and intellect as a fierce race and are so dreadfully afraid of not being sufficiently advanced or intellectual.'' But in none of these former times was the contempt for the past nearly as complete as it is now. From the Renaissance to the end of the eighteenth century men admired Roman antiquity; the Romantic movement revived the Middle Ages; my mother, for all her belief in nineteenth-century progress, constantly read Shakespeare and Milton. It is only since the 1914-18 war that it has been fashionable to ignore the past en bloc.

The belief that fashion alone should dominate opinion has great advantages. It makes thought unnecessary and puts the highest intelligence within the reach of everyone. It is not difficult to learn the correct use of such words as 'complex', 'sadism', 'Oedipus', 'bourgeois', 'deviation', 'left'; and nothing more is needed to make a brilliant writer or talker. Some, at least, of such words represented much thought on the part of their inventors; like paper money they were originally convertible to gold. But they have become for most people inconvertible, and in depreciating have increased nominal wealth in ideas. And so we are enabled to despise the paltry intellectual fortunes of former times.

The modern-minded man, although he believes profoundly in the wisdom of his period, must be presumed to be very modest about his personal powers. His highest hope is to think first what is about to be thought, to say what is about to be said, and to feel what is about to be felt; he has no wish to think better thoughts than his neighbours, to say things showing more insight, or to have emotions which are not those of some fashionable group, but only slightly ahead of others in point of time. Quite deliberately he suppresses what is individual in himself for the sake of the admiration of the herd. A mentally solitary life, such as that of Copernicus, or Spinoza, or Milton after the Restoration, seems pointless according to modern standards. Copernicus should have delayed his advocacy of the Copernican system until it could be made fashionable; Spinoza should have been either a good Jew or a good Christian; Milton should have moved with the times, like Cromwell's widow, who asked Charles II for a pension on the ground that she did not agree with her husbands politics. Why should an individual set himself as an independent judge? Is it not clear that wisdom resides in the blood of the Nordic race or, alternatively, in the proletariat? And in case what is the use of an eccentric opinion, which never can hope to conquer the great agencies of publicity?



October 12, 2008, 9:40 PM


Don't get me wrong I'm not singling people out here, I'm saying that this is a generational change, something that happens very rarely and which is occurring because of a perfect storm of events right now. It will progress gradually but last weeks crash is probably as good "before and after" point as any. The crash is not the cause, just an event occurring in parallel, a marker.

To a person, everyone here seems to think that what will happen will be bad for art. Why is that?

What did all of you think you were doing when you were twenty five? Making bad art for the future? Honestly, the best of the best are going to make great art by anybodies standards. It's going to be different, or not, offend you or not, traditional or not but for sure it isn't going to lack vision or confidence.

Who said "you can't champion discipline or have control over mediums"? Not me. Nowhere in anything I wrote can you infer these limitations, they are in fact, boundaries existing in your own imagination.



October 12, 2008, 9:53 PM


I said "can't champion discipline". It was to reinforce McFawn's observation about what is bold.

As far as what I was doing when I was 25, it was the same thing I am doing now - making art for that day, i.e., "today" as it existed then. That's not a profundity, it's just because today is all we ever have. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn't here yet.

And, like politics, all art is local.

The current change in the stock market certainly is "generational". Art, though, continues to move slowly. In the longest of long runs, art will be OK.



October 12, 2008, 10:40 PM


I know you said it, it was a cut and paste paraphrase, but it has nothing to do with anything. All these objections that keep rising here in one form or another just serve to reinforce the conceptual boundaries individuals are constrained by.

I suspect that however this evolves it will have little initial affect on anyone here. It interests me so I am paying attention to it, just as today becomes tomorrows past.

The financial crisis is an event which clearly delineates a point in time. In the larger picture it will have a negative affect on the art market which might support the resurgence of the avant garde as a counter move against the excessive consumerism in the art market at the turn of the century.



October 12, 2008, 10:54 PM

You're exceeding my limit for listening to someone who's not making sense, George.



October 12, 2008, 10:55 PM

Hey ahab one hundred



October 12, 2008, 11:01 PM

Now that that's done...


I just wanted to show Franklin I could get the comments into triple digits, no sweat.

I'm off for now. Cheers.



October 12, 2008, 11:25 PM

Opie is already telling students to do whatever they want, at least grad students. I was one of them.



October 12, 2008, 11:35 PM

George, the only thing you've convinced me of is that when the future finally does arrive, you're going to be the last one to figure out what's going on.



October 12, 2008, 11:46 PM

FWIW, spoos hanging in at $19 (over fair value) and DOW futures are sinking a bit, at $84 (over fair value).

Hang Seng is +0.06% and trending sharply down.

Shanghai is -2.93% and trending down.

Nikkei is closed for a holiday.

Gold is up $11 for a +1.26% gain.

As George observed, 8:30 am is the hour to watch.



October 12, 2008, 11:59 PM

John Franklin & 1, thanks for the kind words.

George, I heve several talented members of the next generation working their butts off in our painting building right now. They don't do what I do or paint like I paint (nor do I ever ask them to) but they listen to what I say. What's good is good. You either see it or you don't.

I had occasion to chat with a student who was working on a piece for another instructor which I suppose was pomo or conceptual or whatever you might call it. I immediately came up with a half dozen improvements ("ideas") - tricky or amusing or "symbolic" things of some variety - while he eagerly took notes. It wasn't hard. It was fun. But I told him to be extra sure not to tell his instructor that I had a hand in it. That would have been the kiss of death.



October 13, 2008, 12:13 AM

I understand your point, MC, but a joke or even a "funny thought" is not an idea, it is a constructed narrative.

If you fiddle with definitions you could say that an expressed thought is an entity which could be appreciated as art, esthetically, but my feeling is that a proper definition of "idea" should exclude a state of existence stable enough to be esthetically apprehended. Thinking of an "idea" as a thing distrorts its nature.

However, that may be too extreme.



October 13, 2008, 3:47 AM

Back to the financial markets ... central banks all over the world have cooperated to inject huge sums of money into their banks. 400 billion euros for German banks - $550 billion or so US, 200 billion pounds for the English, France, something similar. Japan is said to be considering joining the party as well.

Details are sketchy, but it appears all this money is in the form of short term loans that are somehow flowing from the US Federal Reserve.

Europe is up almost 6%.

Futures are way up too. 300 for the DOW, 40 for the spoos, and 67 for the NASDAQ - all after adjusting for fair value.

Looks like those who felt there would be a big opening this morning got it right.



October 13, 2008, 5:37 AM

Still on the idea? Yep, John, we have a holiday.

Not trying to overwrite the importance of visual dexterity, just saying, as in eastern thinking, a thing is an idea expressed. When there are a number of complicating ideas then the more dominant ones would express the thing or circumstance. Bad ideas bring about bad circumstances, or things. Muddy produces mud. As a person who tends to think very simply and slowly, though like most simple-thinking folk a lot of things, to get a handle on the visual thing, the circumstance it is in, it is quite interesting to self-monitor how and what part of an idea plays in its exposure, ultimately the expression, the visual thing and its hold on dexterity and shift. As such the idea seems to be a little ahead at times, not whole, but I have heard of people, in this case an architect, can't remember the name, who downloaded the blueprint for a new structure while sleeping.
Today we tend to think ideas are tied to the conceptual so it might put some people off [don't think most people talk POMO anymore--it wasn't meant to be taken up in the visual arts, anyway, was it?]. I wouldn't let what people are doing get in the road of what part ideas play in the visual.
In the end an idea may not even appear manifest in the thing as the idea has been so modified or reworked. And when a number of good ideas are roaming around and want to have equal play in the expression, it takes longer to get them operating.
Someone mentioned Paul Cézanne--a good case in point. Blue is an idea, and its position a circumstance. You can shift so much about the blue to modify the idea to rewire the circumstance, one would hardly believe where it began, as such. You can say that Cézanne worked out his idea via fervent visual negotiation and experience. Fair enough!
I was trying to explain 'dusk' here. I went about it saying that it's a time of day between daylight and night whereby color drops out of its container and we register things gray. We looked out in perfect timing. Their response, 'It's blue!'
Leonardo, The Conditional Context!



October 13, 2008, 7:06 AM

CP - No, a thing is not "an idea expressed". An idea can lead to the making of a thing, but the thing is real and the idea is not, not corporeally, anyway.

We value ideas and language - our means of human socialization - so much that we tend to think ideas and concepts and "thinking" are more noble and "higher level" than common stuff, especially in the academy, where many of us work. This infects art-making these days and we talk about that a lot here on the blog.

But ideas and concepts and thinking are just the ebb and flow of the creation of the physical thing which is art. We have a lot of ideas while making art, but art is not ideas. It is the consequence of a directed human activity which involves ideas.



October 13, 2008, 8:56 AM

Ok, Opie, visually, we are less tanked on getting the whole thing to behave to a word order. And that's a relief, no?
The condition we have to deal with is materiality and how it performs. Though I suggest that not all conditions are 'present in material fabric'. So while we are all geared up on visual logic, why not consider conditions that are quite possibly part of the object endurance: Like little fairies helping out in the woods, with Ideas on their backs, sort of, focused, enjoying the rough and tumble, working for you.




October 13, 2008, 10:00 AM

I am not quite clear on what you are trying to say, CP, but the esthetic approach comprehends everything and specifies nothing while the analytical approach looks for particulars and tries to put them into words. They're different ways of looking at aspects of reality. You use whichever fits your purpose.



October 13, 2008, 10:55 AM

If I think "red should go there" that is an idea.

"I understand your point, MC, but a joke or even a "funny thought" is not an idea, it is a constructed narrative."

So, 'red should go there isn't a constructed narrative, but a 'funny thought' is? What if you think "red should go here" is a 'funny thought'?


Chris Rywalt

October 13, 2008, 12:19 PM

I haven't, personally, been away for any reason to do with the content here. I've been busy, and when I haven't been busy, I've been recovering, and when I haven't been doing either of those, I've been playing Word Twist on Facebook, which is frighteningly addictive.

So, you know, whatever. I haven't read all the comments here -- mine eyes glazed over -- but I second the notion that readers are here for you, Franklin, not for what you're writing about necessarily; and the shorter reviews are less you.



October 13, 2008, 1:40 PM

"What if you think 'red should go here' is a 'funny thought'?"

Well, then you are a very strange person who is unsuited to discuss the intricacies of English grammar.



October 13, 2008, 4:09 PM

Ok, fine, it would take a bit more context to turn the particular placement of red into an amusing idea. But perhaps you could be pleased that you came up with the idea of putting red in that spot, and perhaps you could appreciate the simplicity, elegance, etc. of the idea for its own sake.
Does that count as art, then?



October 13, 2008, 6:33 PM

franklin, george did help drive the numbers. there is no way around that.

you need more georges as well as flatboys and johns, jacks, bunnys, ahabs, mcs, opies and so ons.

this site seems right up serious art academics alley



October 13, 2008, 7:17 PM

Geez, MC. Such a serious fellow today.

I suppose it might be possible to regard an idea esthetically. I tried to do it but I couldn't. But I can't demonstrate thet it is impossible.



October 14, 2008, 3:09 AM

for a while I was a regular reader, but it seemed to become too much about the politics of art and not what makes art great. Really, reading about how shitty the art community is reminds about everything I ever hated about art class.



October 14, 2008, 10:27 AM

I can say, without too much doubt that the red that is where it is, happy in its mood, its state, exists somewhat already as thought.
The action that takes place for you or I to realize this is just the consequence.
This is one of the reasons we have protégée. They are tapped in. They read the thought and reproduce it. However, often they are not in tune with the condition. Quite often they burn early in the scheme of things.
Condition represents the possibility of manipulating thought and material in a way that perhaps another condition did not permit.
Conditions change. Art changes. Thought and action is change.
I guess that is what it is about right now.
Not entirely ‘whatever floats your boat’.



October 14, 2008, 12:34 PM

Not so serious, just trying to stir up some shit other than all the stock talk...



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