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A Kiss Before Flying

Post #1425 • December 1, 2009, 7:46 AM • 54 Comments

I'm getting on a plane at Logan late this morning, but I wanted to let you know about some things going on here in the great city of Boston.

Inbound #4 is now available for preorder, or even immediate purchase if you come to the release party this Saturday, December 5 at the Atomic Bean Cafe in Cambridge. Inside I have a two-pager which interprets a passage of Thoreau's journal in comic form. Interest in this book has been quite a bit greater than previous issues, so have a look.

Lorem Ipsum Books, recently featured in Publishing Perspectives for its daring Black Friday Anti-Sale in which customers were invited to pay more than the sticker price, is trying to sell 5000 books in ten days starting today to fund a necessary (as in extinction-level urgency) move to a new location. Store owner Matt Mankins in a University of Miami and MIT graduate who wrote his own software for online book sales, so you can support this fine independent bookstore from wherever you are.

Best of all, Artblog.net learned last night that the estimable Greg Cook has been awarded the $30,000 grant from Creative Capital and the Warhol Foundation's Arts Writers Grant Program for his New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. Cook, who is also the regular critic for the Boston Phoenix, richly deserves this recognition for his readable, sensible prose and devotion to the New England art world. He is, in fact, one of the few critics for an entertainment weekly who is not disgracing the genre, instead showing week after week that the format remains as viable as any for publishing worthy criticism. Bravo!

Comment

1.

Jack

December 2, 2009, 10:28 AM

So Franklin, are you feeling fabulous yet?

2.

Jack

December 2, 2009, 10:50 AM

By the way, Franklin, be sure to catch the Shepard Fairey outdoor installation thing ("Arab Woman") at MAM. I guess Romero Britto was otherwise engaged and MAM had to find an alternative. Oh yeah, MAM looks more impressive every day. Sheesh.

3.

Franklin

December 2, 2009, 10:57 AM

At the moment I'm at the media reception listening to ABMB directors talk the show up. Much gratitude spills forth from their lips.

4.

Jack

December 2, 2009, 11:29 AM

Oh, and when you get into the main Basel venue, by all means search for the Louise Bourgeois rag doll thing I saw in the official catalog. As I recall, it's a limbless, overstuffed torso of a bald female delivering a small head from its vagina. I cannot tell you how meaningful and, uh, moving I found it. Thank goodness there was a nearby restroom.

5.

Jack

December 2, 2009, 1:06 PM

Franklin, I'm sure I don't need to remind you, but you will, of course, make time to pay your respects to Bert Rodriguez while you're in Miami. Maybe he'll invite you to his upcoming talk, "A Little Bertie Told Me." Isn't that precious?

6.

Chris Rywalt

December 2, 2009, 1:15 PM

It's like my mother always told me: "If you can't say something nice, wait until Jack says it for you."

Can't we have anything positive? Maybe something like, "As bad as Louise Bourgeois' rag doll is, it could've been worse."

7.

Jack

December 2, 2009, 1:34 PM

Chris, if you want sugar and spice and everything nice, surely you know where to find it. There are proper and correct art blogs all over the place. Somebody has to try, at least, to lance the boil.

8.

Jack

December 2, 2009, 2:06 PM

But you have a point, Chris. It could have been worse. It could have been Bourgeois herself running around dressed in hot pink, head shaved bald, carrying a huge dildo. As a performance piece, naturally. Of course, that might have been just too meaningful, even for Basel.

9.

Chris Rywalt

December 2, 2009, 2:46 PM

You could make a display case for your pots out of your cynicism.

10.

Jack

December 2, 2009, 2:50 PM

You can call it cynicism, Chris, but I'm simply calling it the way I see it. What I say doesn't sound pretty because what I'm talking about sure as hell isn't. Besides, it's bad enough having to put up with shit; do NOT ask me to refrain from saying it stinks.

11.

Oriane Stender

December 2, 2009, 3:06 PM

Hey guys,

Louise Bourgeois has done a lot of great work over the years. Maybe this particular piece isn't her best ever, but you have to take one piece in the context of a long career. It's surprising that you just dismiss someone like her on the basis of one piece that one of you saw reproduced in a catalog. I have seen work from her stuffed doll series that is very powerful. This is someone in her 90's, who is still working and in various media. So this one grosses you out - big deal. If you get out there and interact with people making work, like maybe going to her Sunday artists salon, which I have done several times, rather than sitting in your armchair looking at catalogs and making snide comments, you get more of an appreciation and understanding of work which at first doesn't speak to you.

Men generally don't like seeing anything to do with birth, but they sure do like doing the thing that makes it happen. Hmm... they like to make the mess, but don't like to see the mess. Dealing with the mess is women's work. Well, maybe that's part of what the work is about - acknowledging women's work and women's power.

And that's quite a cheap shot saying it's better than seeing Louise herself running around. Yes, she's old. We all will be someday (if we're lucky). Do you have a mother or a grandmother? Why don't you show some respect?

12.

Tim

December 2, 2009, 3:37 PM

"...making snide comments."

"Men generally don't like seeing anything to do with birth, but they sure do like doing the thing that makes it happen. Hmm... they like to make the mess, but don't like to see the mess. Dealing with the mess is women's work.'

Hmm...

13.

Chris Rywalt

December 2, 2009, 3:44 PM

Oh, Jack, you know I agree with you and totally understand and share your crabby attitude.

14.

piri

December 2, 2009, 4:24 PM

Well, I'm a female of the species,too, and I consider Bourgeois overrated.

15.

Oriane Stender

December 2, 2009, 4:51 PM

I'm not saying that all women have to love LB, or that men who don't like her work are sexist. Certainly there can be disagreements about the importance of an artist's work. I'm just saying that I'm more likely to take seriously the views of someone who puts it as you do, Piri, rather than

"Thank goodness there was a nearby restroom."
and
"it's bad enough having to put up with shit; do NOT ask me to refrain from saying it stinks."

16.

Jack

December 2, 2009, 6:26 PM

Why, Oriane, how utterly in character. It's just like you not to disappoint, though I might have known any swipe at Bourgeois would draw you out. However, rest assured you were the farthest thing from my mind; I wouldn't want you to obsess over me as you seem to have done over Mr. Rywalt. Still, one must concede your reliability. Like clockwork, really. Stender...Swiss descent, perhaps?

But enough small talk. Formerly, I would have been delighted over the opportunity you provide, but alas, Franklin, who owns the joint, has become averse to a certain mode of expression, so I am unable, for his sake, to do you full justice. We must strive for well-done now, as opposed to rare, to use a steak metaphor. So here's the expurgated version:

What I said about Bourgeois wasn't based on the piece in question, but reflects everything I've ever seen by her, both live and otherwise, which has been rather more than I would have preferred. Trust me. I was not "grossed out" in the sense you imply, though I'm frequently "grossed out" in another sense by work I find objectionable, quite apart from considerations of anatomy, gender or bodily functions. This is not about sex or age, believe it or not; I would have said the same thing about equivalent work done by anyone. I was not making fun of the lady's age, either; the image I evoked was inspired by a pair of Teutonic transvestites with shaved heads in pink frocks who were all the rage at a prior Basel here, and of course you're familiar with the Mapplethorpe photo of Madame with the dildo. As for showing respect, I only respect that and those I deem worthy of it, which is of course my call, not anyone else's. So in summary, if you think you can shame me into adopting your impeccably correct propriety, I'm afraid you grossly overestimate your powers of persuasion.

As for taking me seriously, please don't trouble yourself. I'll be sure to do likewise for you.

17.

Chris Rywalt

December 2, 2009, 7:29 PM

I just looked up Mapplethorpe's photo of Bourgeois and, good lord, that's not a dildo, it's an abomination.

18.

dude

December 2, 2009, 8:44 PM

Chris, maybe it's Japanese. Or maybe it's the control-stick for the eunuch squad that tidies up her messy messes in the studio.

19.

Oriane

December 2, 2009, 9:31 PM

Thanks for reminding me why I stopped coming by here. Keep in touch, Franklin.

20.

Jack

December 2, 2009, 9:49 PM

It seems pertinent to quote a comment from a thread from about 3 months ago:

"Personally, my own doubtfully rational dislikes remain broadly focused on Louise Bourgeois: get over it, woman, there are people in this world with real problems, and you're not one of them!"

It was made by Bunny Smedley, who is both a woman and fully worthy of my respect.

21.

opie

December 2, 2009, 9:54 PM

Oraine, anyone can make any criticism or any kind on a single work or a life's work without disrespecting a person's character, work ethic, etc.

I have been looking at Bourgeois's work since the 50s and I have never seen anything of any real distinction, respectable, sometimes, but never more than monmentarity interesting, and the recent work I have seen certainly deserves Jack's response.

Furthermore, your post was quite sexist, about which I couldnt care less, but you brought it up. Can you imagine Jack saying something like "well, women don't care for going out and working hard much, but they sure do like the money I bring home. Anyway, their work is cleaning up the mess I make". Think about it. It works both ways in this PC world of ours.

Let's stick to art here, and leave the characterization out of it. Leaving in a huff when someone disagrees with you certainly doesn't say much for that "women's power" you so eagerly invioked.

22.

dude

December 2, 2009, 10:26 PM

Sorry if my lame quip was part of your reason to leave, Oriane. I guess I found your comment a bit irksome, whatever, I know you didn't mean it any serious way (I know you and Mr. Rywalt have your own lil' flirt going on).

If I had the skills, I would say something along the lines of Opie's post regarding Bourgeois. I'd add that I think she's a surrealist making decent stuff now and then. That's pretty much the way surrealism is in the hands of those few that can actually make art out of it. As for her age, lots of brilliant people die far too young.

23.

Oriane

December 2, 2009, 11:43 PM

I'm not leaving in a huff. It's really true that I remembered why I never felt comfortable here for very long.

24.

Tim

December 3, 2009, 12:02 AM

Well, Oriane, I'd be interested in knowing what your specific problem is with the replies to your comments on here tonight. And, why do you need to feel 'comfortable' in order to participate?

25.

Jack

December 3, 2009, 9:02 AM

Tim, where Oriane (or anybody) chooses to hang out (or not) is her business, as are her reasons for doing so. She has no obligation to explain or justify that. It's perfectly understandable that she could find, and would prefer, a more congenial environment. That's up to her and strictly her affair.

In other words, I wouldn't ask "Why don't you like it here?" Nobody has to like it, just as nobody here has to adulterate, dilute, disguise or sugarcoat himself in order to be liked. We are presumably here because we're serious about art and we stand by our convictions, be they popular or not, mainstream or not. Speaking for myself, I'm here to call it as I see it, always, no excuses and no expedient equivocations. I most certainly don't expect to be universally admired (let alone loved) for it.

26.

Franklin

December 3, 2009, 9:22 AM

And yet as a writer, and everyone who appears here is a writer, there is an infinitude of ways to squander your credibility, and hyperbolic, gross-out barbs accomplish exactly that. I don't agree with much in #11 but I agree with all of #15. I leave comments open in hope of fostering productive conversation, not repetitious emotional dumping by the perpetually disgruntled. Taunts are countermanded in one of the guidelines and I would appreciate not having to crack down on it.

27.

John

December 3, 2009, 9:34 AM

Well said Franklin. And Piri.

28.

opie

December 3, 2009, 10:00 AM

Franklin & John, as long as were are not characterizing and personalizing - which we rightfully exclude for practical and civility reasons - I would strongly object to any blunting of the forcefulness of anyone's criticism of any art whatsoever. If Jack wants to say that a piece makes him want to retch he should feel free to say it.

29.

Franklin

December 3, 2009, 11:11 AM

I appear to countenance everything that shows up on this blog without my criticism. Jack has the luxury of not having to worry about his credibility. I write professionally and I do not.

30.

Chris Rywalt

December 3, 2009, 11:15 AM

Franklin sez:
...there is an infinitude of ways to squander your credibility...

I'm just guessing, but I imagine Jack would say, credibility with whom? Hyperbolic barbs may lose him credibility with some but gain him with others.

And while Jack's "repetitious emotional dumping" certainly is part of his persona here, it'd be more of a problem, I'd say, if he didn't also, just as frequently, show us his positive side, as with his pots. He loves Japanese pottery with as much vehemence as he dislikes Louise Bourgeois and that's what makes him more than the perpetually disgruntled.

31.

Tim

December 3, 2009, 11:30 AM

Well, many of us have had our moments on here, and I take your concerns seriously, Franklin, but it's easier for me to overlook hyperbole and a bit of 'language' if the point being made is substantive, than it is for me to regard the kind of petulence I found in #11 as credible. I think a forceful reply was called for, though I'd like to have Oriane stay and get on a good basis with us rather than drop her bomb and run away. Of course, as Jack put it, that's up to her.

32.

Tim

December 3, 2009, 11:44 AM

And Jack, I think my questions to Oriane in #24 were OK. Her first reply to your comments was, as you pointed out, not really about what you were saying. After that, she only allowed that she preferred Piri's manner over yours. So that is why I asked her the question.

33.

that guy

December 3, 2009, 12:04 PM

Now things are getting interesting around here.

As an artist, the only way to lose credibility is within yourself.

Although socially, Franklin is of course right. But that has nothing to do with being an artist.

Lots of artists get hung up on this one. I was thinking about Motherwell last night at Art Basel and decided he just started to take himself too damn seriously, and therefor lost some of his artistic credibility. His artwork suffered because of it. We should make a list of artists who suffer with this. I've never met an artist who is completely immune from this phenomenon. What really matters is what they do with it once they understand its ramifications.

34.

Chris Rywalt

December 3, 2009, 12:11 PM

It's got to be difficult for a successful artist -- even with moderate success -- not to start to take themselves too seriously. I find myself feeling aggrandized when the hits on my blog go up; I can only imagine what it must feel like to have people buying your paintings for thousands of dollars and telling you how great you are. Especially if you've been toiling in poverty and obscurity in a cold-water walk-up for a decade or two. Add in the tendency for artists to have rather large egos anyway and you've got a recipe for messiah complexes.

Proper perspective is hard. Both literally and figuratively.

35.

opie

December 3, 2009, 12:14 PM

I think you are right about Motherwell. He settled back and didn't try so hard any more, or so it seems. He did "radical" things, like the "opens", but they are half-hearted.

Clem had a name for it, which I remember inexactly, something about "anglo-saxon charm", said so that I would take it as a precaution, of course.

36.

that guy

December 3, 2009, 12:24 PM

BREAKING NEWS: Tonight on Sixty minutes, Andy Rooney explains, why your art collection maybe in danger of being forgotten, in a special segment we are calling "Beware of the Anglo-Saxon Charm".

37.

Bethea

December 3, 2009, 12:28 PM

Basel was bleak at best. Worst than last year. If nothing else i thought I'd seem some beautiful Frankenthalers and hoffmans at Ameringer. Nothing! ,just some dead motherwells. I just don't get it. More evidence that it's all about the dollar. Qualitiy has nothing to do with it. I saw some nice Klees, de koonings, a black and white Guston from the sixties that was a pleasant surprise.

38.

dervonrams

December 3, 2009, 12:33 PM

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39.

Tim

December 3, 2009, 12:58 PM

Bethea: "More evidence that it's all about the dollar." You do get it.

A very fine one of those Motherwell 'Spanish Elegy' paintings resides in the Dallas Museum of Art. The spacial element in it is convincing, compelling. When he hit it, he really hit it.

40.

Tim

December 3, 2009, 1:00 PM

I meant 'spatial.'

41.

eageageag

December 3, 2009, 1:43 PM

Miami Vice Part 2

42.

that guy

December 3, 2009, 2:04 PM

Bethea, there was a nice Leon Kossoff painting at one of the galleries. Uninteresting art is synonymous with Art Basel every year. So, I'm a little surprised with your reaction. As in, what were you expecting? Thankfully many of VIPs were surgically enhanced so that made the whole evening easier on these weary eyes.

43.

piri

December 3, 2009, 3:33 PM

I think the Hofmann estate must be pretty well cleaned out by now. Seems to me it's been ages since I saw Ameringer display any peak period Hofmanns --- all the more recent shows have been dribs & drabs from early periods, etc. It may also be that vintage Frankenthalers are a little too pricey to travel these days --- I know that Ameringer has a Frankenthaler show scheduled for its new Chelsea gallery in December. But I do hope somebody checks out Gary Snyder's Project Space at Basel Miami. I'm not too wild about his "historical" stable of 2nd rank color-field painters from the 60s, but he may have a John Griefen on display, and as far as I'm concerned, Griefen is doing some of our most exciting work these days.

44.

bethea

December 3, 2009, 4:47 PM

that guy- as time passes i forget how bad it is. time buffers and distorts my memory or maybe i'm just hoping upon hope that there will that one piece that really moves me. last year was really bad but it was still worth it because I saw some beautiful frankenthalers and good hoffmans. I remember a whole room full of morandis a few years back.

45.

bethea

December 3, 2009, 5:03 PM

That Guy- I didn't care fro the kossoffs

46.

That guy

December 3, 2009, 5:18 PM

He isn't a great artist, but a cut above most of what was on offer.

47.

opie

December 3, 2009, 7:42 PM

Piri, Ameringer, a gallery which represents several painters who paint wonderful, rich, colorful paintings, decided to go "minimal" as a kind of theme. The results were not inspiring.

48.

piri

December 3, 2009, 10:11 PM

Opie, "minimal" in itself is no guarantee of quality, I agree. Anybody who remembers the 60s knows how much postmodernist nonsense has been peddled in the name of minimalsm. This doesn't alter the fact that Griefen, a minimalist, is also a damn good painter. Or that Bannard, also a very talented painter, had a minimalist phase as well.

49.

opie

December 3, 2009, 10:44 PM

Sure. Perhaps that observation could have helped dissuade Ameringer from an ill-advised attempt to display the "minimal" impulses of "maximal" artists.

50.

bethea

December 4, 2009, 11:42 AM

Piri-
where can i see the grieffens your talking about? is there a link?

51.

piri

December 4, 2009, 1:52 PM

George, I don't know of any link, but you really won't get the flavor of a Griefen from a website anyway. The effect relies too heavily on the brushwork of the surface & the scale. As I said before, if in that maelstrom of the mediocre which appears to be Miami Basel, you can locate the booth of Gary Snyder, you might be able to see one Griefen. But I don't know which one it'll be. Snyder showed a black & white one last summer at an art fair in the Hamptons that I wasn't too enthusiastic about, but most of them are monochromatic & employ lovely colors.

52.

piri

December 4, 2009, 1:59 PM

George, I should add that Terry Fenton has put up a website for Griefen, to wit http://www.sharecom.ca/griefen/ However, the paintings on it are all old, & show an earlier stage in his evolution, when he was still painting more directly out of Olitski. Fenton did a catalogue that shows the newer Griefens for John's last show, at Salander O'Reilly, but even that was some years ago.

53.

piri

December 4, 2009, 2:11 PM

googling further, I find an additional recent Griefen at Gary Snyder's website. From the repro, it looks like a fine picture, though the large horizontal ones are even better. Sorry I don't have the technical expertise to open up a link for you, but I assume you can cut & paste the website below into your search line. http://www.artnet.com/gallery/994/gary-snyder--project-space.html

54.

1

December 5, 2009, 1:31 PM

i think griefen is quite good as well. he sent me a package with some images a couple years or so ago, but you can seem some on line.

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