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Getting involved

Post #1446 • January 21, 2010, 1:59 PM • 158 Comments

I was honored to be invited onto the panel that culled public nominations for the New England Art Awards. The awards are put on by Greg Cook of the New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, which you may remember for recently winning a 2009 grant from the Careative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program. Voting for finalists is now open to the public, namely you.

Tonight's Inbound #4 event at Porter Square Books has now been picked up by Bostonist (the "artistic treatment of Thoreau" is by yours truly; glad you liked it, Kerry), the Weekly Dig, the Boston Phoenix, WBUR, and a few other media outlets as well. I will be in attendance for signing. Come on out.




January 21, 2010, 2:37 PM

This is an impossible mix of sometimes overlapping & conflicting categories.

There are two very good painters: Frederick & Wethli. I think I would give the nod to Frederick.

I tried looking at the sculpture but there isn't much there. One of them seemed not to even have pictures.



January 21, 2010, 6:19 PM

I would agree, OP, but Frederick strikes me as a bit too literal or photographic, and there's a very faint whiff of Magritte which I dislike. I'd give the edge to Wethli (meaning his 2008 work).



January 21, 2010, 7:46 PM

I was within spitting distance of Porter Square Books today. Wish I had known earlier, I would have stayed in town. Hope it goes well.



January 21, 2010, 8:20 PM

I'd (grudgingly) give the "sculpture" nod to Roelle, if only for a distinct lack of any other worthy alternatives. These are mostly more properly installations anyway. Sculpture is something of a lost art, it seems.



January 22, 2010, 3:15 PM

I see there's no award for ceramics, but plenty of far more dubious categories. Figures.

Anyway, here's more Bizen:

Vase 1
Vase 2
Vase 3
Vase 4



January 22, 2010, 5:03 PM

Another pot (tea bowl):

Kyoto 1
Kyoto 2
Kyoto 3
Kyoto 4



January 22, 2010, 6:31 PM

For those who found the printmaking entries for the NEA awards lacking, an alternative:


It's an 1888 mezzotint after Turner by Frank Short.



January 22, 2010, 6:37 PM

Or, combined etching and mezzotint after a drawing by Claude, by Richard Earlom (1778):

Landscape with Shepherd (click on image to enlarge as needed)



January 22, 2010, 6:46 PM

The original Claude (pen, brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white, on blue paper):

Liber Veritatis 97

It's actually not a shepherd, but St. John the Baptist resting.



January 22, 2010, 7:13 PM

A figural mezzotint engraving, after Domenichino, by Valentine Green:

Virgin and Child (click on image to enlarge as needed)



January 22, 2010, 7:21 PM

And by the way, for what it's worth, I expect there are precious few blogs of any kind going anywhere near latter 18th century English mezzotint engravings (the Green above is from 1778).



January 22, 2010, 7:31 PM

Wait a minute, so where's our Bronzino drawings show report?



January 22, 2010, 7:32 PM

For the time being: here, if you can stand it.


Chris Rywalt

January 22, 2010, 7:34 PM

Mezzotint is really hard.


Chris Rywalt

January 22, 2010, 7:36 PM

I got as far as "power portrait". How annoying.



January 22, 2010, 8:02 PM

Me too Chris, actually:
"He could turn toddlers into potentates and make new-money Medicis look like decent people."

Does the times have a clause in their founding documents to only hire savants as art critics? I'm just saying.



January 22, 2010, 8:22 PM

Like Jack, I'm a bit of a masochist myself so I read the whole thing. If you hear a lone muffled gunshot behind your barn, pay no mind.



January 22, 2010, 8:27 PM

Lucas, I believe you meant idiot savant.



January 22, 2010, 8:49 PM

Come on Jack, you know that term has unacceptable connotations now that we have ushered in a new era of reform, prosperity and political correctness in this fine land of ours.



January 22, 2010, 9:13 PM

OK, so I read the thing by Mr. Pulitzer person. It is indeed annoying, though one is grateful for the accompanying slide show of drawings. What, pray, is a "prosthetic" style? Does the guy even know what that word means? Then he condescends to call a James novel "deeply mannered," when someone whose parents named him Holland should never, ever say that about anything. And "swoony, ribbony lift"? But wait, it gets better: "encephalographic jitters." WTF? The, uh, gentleman doth try too hard. Of course, he has a Pulitzer to live up to, but I mean, please. And by the way, it should be "wears his basic republic black with flair," not "flare" (you hear that, NYT editorial staff?). Sheesh.



January 22, 2010, 9:15 PM

And yes, Chris, mezzotint is hard. Unless, of course, you're good at it.



January 22, 2010, 9:32 PM

Well, at least Cotter makes Saltz look marginally better. Next to "encephalographic jitters," the Saltz bit about "ultrapowerful technique" sounds slightly less gauche.



January 22, 2010, 9:38 PM

As for "prosthetic style," I assume that's a very strained allusion to Parmigianino's Madonna of the Long Neck, but as I said, the guy is trying WAY too hard. I mean, it's embarrassing.



January 22, 2010, 9:59 PM

Hey, as long as we're venting spleens on writers covering art, I finally got around to reading "Homo Aestheticus"... Well, I tried to read it anyway, but I kept wanting to throw the damn thing across the room, page after petty, mistaken, redundant, nonsensical page, up to about the first quarter of chapter 3, when I remembered Schopenhauer's adage: "A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short." While I agree (with her and Opie) "that art problems, and esthetic problems, can be, or perhaps should be, articulated through the scientific method", I don't think she does a very good job of that from what I read.

So, I'm moving on...



January 22, 2010, 10:06 PM

Well, MC, you could do worse. You could have been reading Homo Prostheticus, which will no doubt be hitting select bookstores any day now.



January 22, 2010, 10:15 PM

And I don't vent spleen, but bile. Spleen is too valuable to waste on what gets my bile flowing.



January 22, 2010, 10:28 PM

I'm not going anywhere near that NYT hyperlink with my mouse cursor, Jack... As Bush used to say, "fool me once, shame, uh... I won't get fooled again!"



January 22, 2010, 10:28 PM

The worst thing about the Cotter piece is that not only are all those phrases cited by Jack arty and overwrought - they're wrong, inapt descriptions. I'm tempted to write a Bunny-length piece for this show. It deserves it.



January 22, 2010, 10:44 PM

The real problem here, of course, is not this Cotter piece, per se, but the fact that someone who writes like this could get a job with the NYT and a damn Pulitzer. It's a joke.



January 22, 2010, 10:46 PM

How can we sweeten the pot, Franklin?



January 22, 2010, 10:50 PM

A Franklin-length piece will be fine, undoubtedly better than the NYT piece by the Pulitzer putz.


Chris Rywalt

January 22, 2010, 11:02 PM

I went and didn't read the Putzlitzer's stupid article, Jack, and you went and quoted it at me. Thanks. I had my gallbladder out in '94 and can't vent bile like I used to. "Flare" is especially egregious.



January 23, 2010, 12:48 AM

J. Pulitzer was one of the all-time purveyors of yellow journalism, who came up with the Prize to salvage his rep and the family name. Sort of like Nobel coming up with his Prize to make up for inventing his era's big WMD.



January 23, 2010, 12:50 AM

MC, as you have found out the hard way (so did I), Dissanayake's writing is infested with academicism. I'm sure she got early tenure somewhere.



January 23, 2010, 1:36 AM

Academicism, clumsy syntax, self-contradiction, straw-men (Homo Chafficus), and more. A big disappointment... I was almost sure I was gonna like it, and then, WHUMP. Reality. It's a bitch.



January 23, 2010, 2:04 AM

I got about a third of the way through before abandoning. I remember trying to read it as though I was just along for the ride, and even without careful criticism it was a bumpy detour around the thing I thought would be the most interesting - how it is people use beauty and where the need for it originates.

I got about as far through my SOC101 class before shutting the text and scribbling on the desk. Over the term I stayed awake by sitting each morning at a desk that had it's enamel layer compromised by earlier generations of bored college students. By the end of term I had covered the thing in ballpoint drawing that incorporated all previous years of grafitti. I snuck in and pryed the ply off during examtime (leaving a fresh layer for future suckers), and still have that social experiment with me. But it ain't beautiful.



January 23, 2010, 10:49 AM

Another entry (tea cup) for the non-existent Ceramics category:

Red Raku 1
Red Raku 2
Red Raku 3
Red Raku 4



January 23, 2010, 11:23 AM

I knew Cotter's style seemed oddly familiar. It's quite reminiscent of the arts coverage put out by a free weekly rag in Miami, packed to the gills with ads for cosmetic surgery and escort services. I'm thinking especially of one of its former art writers, a small-time art scenester and self-described "wordsmith," who evidently shared Cotter's unfortunate propensity for sounding ridiculous in pursuit of, uh, creative "wordsmithing." Trouble is, a sleazy free weekly is one thing; the NYT is another. Is it?



January 23, 2010, 12:53 PM

Thanks for sharing, Ahab. The book still had your bookmark in it, and the more I read, the more I was amazed that you had kept with it for so long ( I never came even close to where you eventually decided to quit).

It would be one thing if ED's take on art merely differed from mine, but it's another thing if the writing itself is just plain bad. One example:

"Yet it should not be surprising that what feels good in most cases is what is good for us. In fact, the two are sides of a coin: people universally do something because it feels good: and because something feels good, people do it."

ED doesn't realize here that she's just described the same side of the coin, twice. It's like the old "heads I win, tails you lose". When you read her making conclusions from such obviously faulty premises, it's impossible to just "go along for the ride", unless you leave your brain behind.



January 23, 2010, 1:49 PM

MC I hope that quote was near the beginning. It certainly would have stopped me right there and then.



January 23, 2010, 1:51 PM

MC Clearly that quote would indicate the futility of continuing.

For your sake I hope is was near the beginning.



January 23, 2010, 1:53 PM

Now that has never happened - something I wrote and then corrected and BOTH versions came up!

I wonder what will happen with this one?



January 23, 2010, 2:05 PM

That was page 32... Ahab, bless him, made it to p 125.



January 23, 2010, 2:24 PM

This is cool:

Irabo 1
Irabo 2
Irabo 3
Irabo 4



January 23, 2010, 2:32 PM

Nice things, as usual, Jack.

Excuse me, but I have to clarify some ideas from the thread before this one. I wanted to do so on the previous thread, but the time police checked me there.

First, John, I appreciate your observations, but nobody in Texas says 'thar.' I've heard 'thar' in some bad movies, TV, and when Mrs. Clinton is trying clumsily to pander to Southern Blacks.

Also, 'cowboy' is a Hollywood invention. Here people involved in livestock of the bovine variety are known as cattlemen or ranchmen (these days, ranch people). Employees, tradesmen, on ranches or on the trails were known as waddies, stinks, hoss stinks...not 'cowboys.'

Next, 1, regarding the boisterous thing from #203 of the last thread, that is found mostly among people who move here from elsewhere (now numbering 1500 PER DAY, causing a real strain on the place) and who live in the cities, mainly Austin. Because TX has been so successfully caricatured that way, emigrants seem to believe they have to be that way in order to fit in. TX natives, particularly in the rural areas, have a reserve similar to your description of those in CT., but instead of a sense of being 'a cut above,' native Texans have a sense of being just glad they're here. Yes, Californians certainly do have an air of smugness toward the rest of us as they continue to manage their state straight into the mud.

As for the cities, Fort Worth is the only large city to retain the Texan character and flavor. Dallas is not Texas. Dallas is Dallas, cosmopolitan, with an international population. There has long been a New York-Dallas connection, having mainly to do with theater. Houston is something like southern Louisiana. Austin is something like a southern inland Seattle. San Antonio is...well...charming.

Politically the cities are moderate to left-of-center due to concentrations of minorities. In politics and public affairs minorities of all kinds abound and often rule. There is a conservatism here but it is of a fiercely independent stripe and decidedly laissez-faire. The values among natives which trump all others are LIBERTY, independence, LIBERTY, individual initiative and LIBERTY. Texas identifies and is operated more as a nation than as a state.

Artwise in TX, there is the same goofiness in the schools and in official artdom as anywhere, same rhetoric, same arrangements, same hucksterism, same corruption. Although there are many really formidible collections here assembled by the most savvy people, nouveau collectors are as embarrassingly pretentious here as anywhere, and are in it for the prestige they crave, the dark side of human nature and I don't care.

I have no identity here as an 'artist' to speak of. Beyond that of 'neighborhood rumor,' my ID is that of a guy who knows how to do some things. That works well here. As elsewhere, most 'artists' and art people here don't pass the smell test and have deserved the generalized reputation here of artists as clowns and ne'er-do-wells, and Texans will not put up with phonies, the expression being 'All hat and no cattle.'

Thanks for your indulgence. The notions people have of this place have always been a source of amusement and, often, mirth.


Chris Rywalt

January 23, 2010, 3:27 PM

I will cheerfully admit to being completely ignorant about Texas (I never even watched Dallas). I feel about Texas the way I feel about most of the planet that's not where I live, which is a very thin layer of "Why would anyone want to live there when it's not here?" covering a larger and much more sincere core of "People are pretty much the same wherever they live".

That leaves climate, basically, and I expect Texas is too hot in the summer. I know it's got mountains and less dry places than the stereotype, but it's still too far south in latitude for me.

What I really need to do is find two places on the globe, one northern and one southern hemisphere, which have temperate winters -- no snow! -- and migrate between them so I never experience summer again.

Also I'd like to avoid the shorter wintertime days, if possible.

Yes, I'm insane.

Getting back to Texas, the last thread made it sound like it's got good parts. Any place that large would have to. Maybe one day I'll visit. My life thus far has not led to travelling. I have that in common with Matisse, also. (Did he ever even leave France?)



January 23, 2010, 3:49 PM

"What I really need to do is find two places on the globe, one northern and one southern hemisphere, which have temperate winters -- no snow! -- and migrate between them so I never experience summer again."

But Chris, that's what everybody wants.

It's hot alright, about 150 degrees for weeks on end. I love it. I get on my bike with just a pair of shorts and some sandals and ride out to White Rock (intown lake nearby). I like to ride a little on the fast side and then sit on my favorite bench and feel those breezes coming off the lake through the tree leaves turning my perspiration into a balm, ahh.... See, you're not the only insane one.

But everything here is air conditioned to smithereens, so nobody notices the heat. And you either just go swimming all the time or adjourn to Colorado.



January 23, 2010, 4:34 PM

I don't know that much about Matisse, but I believe he went to Morocco at one point, and I think he got some good ideas about odalisques there, as well as a great painting called The Moroccans...

I visited Texas very briefly in 1985, taking in mainly the museums. The Houston MFA, originally designed by somebody famous like Mies, but with later additions, was attractive, though oddly laid out ...The Dallas MFA (or whatever it's called) was modernistic but impersonal & set in an arid downtown area. Still, it does own Cathedral, one of the very best Pollocks.... Fort Worth has a museum of modern art, recently rebuilt, don't know what the new version looks like (the old was respectable but not outstanding, even though EA Carmean was running it when I was there, I believe). But the Kimbell in Fort Worth is a jewel, an absolutely beautiful building designed by Louis Kahn in the 60s. I remember it as including lots of natural dark wood panels, big windows, a fascinating ceiling & and blond travertine marble floors & stairwells.

Its permanent collection (carrying Western art history up to about Miro) was pretty damn good, too, considering that it didn't start to be assembled until the 60s, when most major Renaissance, baroque & 19th century Old Masters had already been snapped up. I remember being particularly thrilled by its Picasso from the period of Analytic Cubism, Man with a Pipe.

The director responsible for assembling the Kimbell's original collection was a man named Richard Brown. He'd gotten himself canned from the directorship of the Los Angeles County Museum for refusing to hang a fake that Norton Simon, one of the richest & most powerful trustees, wanted hung in the museum as a way of validating its authenticity. At least that was the story Brown told me when he was passing through New York once (when I was still on Time) & took me out to lunch.

There's since been a major addition to the Kimbell. An architect friend of mine said it was good, too. Don't know how reliable his opinion would be. He thinks of himself as a modernist architect & most of his architectural enthusiasms correspond with mine, but in painting & sculpture it's another matter. He saw this addition to the Kimbell when he was on the way to Marfa, that depressing HQ for minimalism as propounded by Donald Judd, and he was just as enthusiastic about that -- which I'm sure I wouldn't have been.



January 23, 2010, 4:51 PM

I was born in Dallas and can speak with a Western (not Southern!) accent when called upon to do so. Hovig, who used to comment here not infrequently, is from Houston, adores it, and was trying to get me to move there the couple of times I was shopping for a new place to live. Housing is cheap, the art scene is pretty good, art writing is at least extant, and winters are mild. The east coast made more sense for both of us as a couple though, and I love Boston.



January 23, 2010, 4:56 PM

I went to Texas often in the 70s, Houston & Austin mostly, and I ALWAYS had a good time.

Too good, sometimes.



January 23, 2010, 5:25 PM

And let us not forget that the most romantic football team in the NFL is located in Texas, America's team, the Dallas Cowboys. Their stadium, now in its second incarnation, is interesting too in that the spectators are protected from the rain but the players are not.

When those thousands of buckskin wearing, jalapeno eating fans break out into "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" it brings a thrill to your ears that no professional singing group can match.

I would love to know how many tons of jalapenos are consumed during a typical Cowboy's game. Until I went to one, I did not know you could buy them in gallon cans, just like I did not know there were drinking fountains that dispensed colored water until my first visit to Ft. Worth.

If I could afford it, I would move there in a heartbeat.



January 23, 2010, 5:52 PM

BTW, Chris, Matisse spent considerable time in North Africa (Tangiers, Morocco) and came once to the USA. He made that mural for Dr. Barnes' building, and spent time in NYC in the '30s. I saw a photo once of him on a rooftop in NYC.

Piri, you came just a few years too soon. The collection at the Kimbell has filled out remarkably. It is privately endowed and the acquisition funds are second only to those of the Getty. They have done a sensational job of 'trading up' over the years. You are right about the building though except there are no windows. You might be thinking of the central expanse of glass doors or the two glass-enclosed courtyards. The vaults Kahn designed manage the silvery natural light of this area onto the work so that there is little need for artificial light, and the result is unsurpassed in my experience.

Also, there have been no new additions to the Kimbell. There was a proposal in the 90s, but the wise citizens of Ft. Worth said no, wanting to preserve the integrity of Kahn's masterpiece. However, there are now plans to put another building on the same campus, which, apparently have passed muster with the city.

The Amon Carter Museum, though, by Philip Johnson, across the way from the Kimbell, recently was tripled in size as one of Johnson's last projects.

Across a little side street from the Kimbell is Tadeo Ando's first American commission, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, a splendid structure arguably equal to the Kimbell. Though it's collection is special, it is publicly funded, so it has fallen in with the pandering that goes on to bring in constantly needed readies. Thus, now they are mounting a Warhol exhibition. And there is the weekly series of arty films in their auditorium, drawing the types who dress in the latest goofy trends and don't know quite how to wear them, the same people you see at the New York openings. I watched them arrive yesterday afternoon, it was really funny. And just across a field at the Will Rogers Memorial Colisium the ladies and gents were arriving for the evening's rodeo events in well-fitting handsome western togs. In a few minutes I bet I saw 50 ladies I'd take right home to Mother, and they were all with well-turned-out solid looking gents.

In Dallas, the DMA building you described is by Edward Laraby Jones, and was indeed rather cold when you were here. It has expanded since then, and the collections have marvelously filled out. But it's another publicly funded institution, so...

Just across the street is Renzo Piano's beautifully proportioned Nasher Sculpture Gardens and Pavillions housing the largest privately owned sculpture collection in the world.

John, the new Cowboys Stadium has a retractable roof. On the inside it's a giant Erector Set. On the outside it's a giant Nike shoe.



January 23, 2010, 6:05 PM

And because you have been so patient, here are some photos of the sculptures on the campi of the DMA and Trammel Crow Building just across the street from the Nasher (They are my photos, and I am NOT a photographer!):

Moore and 'Ford Tractor Parts' mosaic

DMA entry

Crow Center Entry with Maillols

Maillol detail

Rodin at Crow Center



January 23, 2010, 6:24 PM

Correction to #52: The Nasher Collection is the largest privately held collection of Modern and Pomo sculpture in the world (Late 18th Cent. to now)

I know, I know, quantity doesn't = quality. Some more TX brag...



January 23, 2010, 6:43 PM

BTW, click on any of the images to enlarge them.



January 23, 2010, 7:08 PM

And, Chris, you know that the Church of the SubGenius originated in Mesquite, an unfortunate suburban metastasis in eastern Dallas County. I'm not trying to say anything here, but I just wanted you to know that they now offer their 'UFO Abduction Outreach Ministries.'



January 23, 2010, 7:11 PM

Tim, Thanks, I didn't know that (about the new roof). Do the retract it for games and leave it covered for other events? I have read Jim Jones thinks football is an outdoor game. Or has he changed his mind?


Chris Rywalt

January 23, 2010, 7:11 PM

I have no direct responses but I find this whole conversation very groovy. The information is being squirreled away (or anyway about 10 percent of it, which is what my psychiatrist says is retained by geniuses) in my brain.


Chris Rywalt

January 23, 2010, 7:12 PM

Of course you know, Tim, that I'm a long-time fan of the Church of the SubGenius. It would have to emerge from somewhere desolate, like a Texan suburb, or New Jersey.



January 23, 2010, 7:32 PM

John, first, the retractable roof is weather-related. When I was there a couple of weeks ago, it was about 28 degrees, so the roof was closed. I'm surprised the place didn't reek of jalapeno, because, as you know, those fans devour them.

Jerry Jones (Cowboys owner since 1991, I believe) is interested in money, money, and more money. I don't know about whether he believes football is an outdoor game though. For my money a Cowboys game was best seen in the old days at the Cotton Bowl.



January 23, 2010, 7:37 PM

Yes, Chris, I discovered your fandom on your blog. Can I get a 'Yeah boy' this evening?!!

I don't know if I'd call TX suburbs desolate. They're just completely artificial. Maybe the same thing.


Chris Rywalt

January 23, 2010, 7:46 PM

Culturally desolate, I mean.



January 23, 2010, 8:18 PM

Tim, thanks for the corrections & clarifications on TX museums. I think it must have been the proposal for the addition to the Kimbell that my friend the architect was talking about -- probably read about it somewhere & saw the reproduction of a model -- this was dinner table chitchat, & I wasn't paying close attention.

Glass in the doors & courtyard as opposed to windows sounds right,too, wall space as opposed to windows being preferable in a museum.



January 23, 2010, 8:44 PM

"Jim Jones", now there's a Freudian slip, eh? I have always thought Jerry Jones treats his players with less compassion than the Romans held for their gladiators.

I never saw a game in the Cotton Bowl, but I loved the old stadium in Irvine. When 30,000 or more burst out into perfectly synced song with that big hole in the top, it was like being inside a giant musical instrument.

It could get very very cold in there, though. Guess Jones decided the customers were always right. Even a gallon of jalapenos couldn't compensate for 28 degrees. But that didn't keep the fans away, though lots of them complained when it got that cold. They said the way the open top worked was it made the wind colder as it blew down into the stadium. So if it was 28 outside, it was 20 inside the stadium. At least that's what the locals told us.

I wonder what Tony Dorsett, Roger Staubach, Danny White, and Ed "Too Tall" Jones think of this new whip-sock approach to protection from the weather. Guess they could root for the Packers.

In Oklahoma City, there is a style for big houses they call "Dallas". With a high hip roof and lots of cuts in the large footprint, and a three or four car garage, they tend to be as expensive as they are mousey. Probably originated in those burbs around big D, or so I always thought. But in OKC, they say Dallas with respect. In fact, the girl I took to my senior prom went to Dallas to get her dress, which was probably the nicest one at the do. (She lived in a Dallas house, too.)



January 23, 2010, 9:15 PM

Piri, you're welcome.

John, Jim Jones, funny.

Actually, Jerry is very loyal to his players. For instance, he always comes to the aid of the 'bad boys' on the team because he believes (or so he has said) their behavour adds 'color.' And he has a tendency to keep players who don't fit the team, they say, out of loyalty.

And, yes, Texas Stadium was just a big ol' metal barn, and it got to be pretty ratty toward the end. You're right about the temp. Also, the partial roof (originally there was to have been a retractable roof, but it was too expensive) would divide the field into areas of sunshine and shadow which would play havoc with players' ability to see a pass coming.

But Dorsett, Staubach and those guys were from an entirely different era with Tex Schram (Yes, his name was Texas E. Schram. He was from California, and his parents, German immigrants just liked the name.) and the beloved-for-all-the-right-reasons Tom Landry. Those were a couple of sterling individuals. Jones, a Vegas-style impressario, is not worthy of their memory. There is no comparison between then and now. What once was a game is now a tawdry spectacle, all about ego and dough. People still love it though.

I have to say I liked it back in the early 60s when the great Don Meredith, after throwing one of his deadly accurate passes, would trot over to the sidelines and blaze up a Marlboro!



January 23, 2010, 9:19 PM

I have to say I liked it back in the early 60s when the great Don Meredith, after throwing one of his deadly accurate passes, would trot over to the sidelines and blaze up a Marlboro!

And to think, Marlboros were originally marketed to women.


Chris Rywalt

January 23, 2010, 10:00 PM

My dad was a Viceroy man.



January 23, 2010, 10:19 PM

woo hoo



January 23, 2010, 10:20 PM

Given the way things work now in pro sports, taking them seriously, let alone believing in them, is akin to doing so for pro wrestling. The whole thing is so bloated, cynical, money-driven and perverted, not to mention obscenely hypocritical, that I can't for the life of me see how any self-respecting person would put up with it. Of course, we put up with politicians, who have even less to show for themselves.



January 24, 2010, 1:23 PM

A Sunday pot:

Tenmoku 1
Tenmoku 2
Tenmoku 3
Tenmoku 4



January 24, 2010, 2:35 PM

I never thought I'd see a Maillol I didn't like, but damn, that Crow entrance... woof! Maybe it's just the ill-fitting context, but that one on the left looks especially poor (judging by the photo, anyway).



January 24, 2010, 2:52 PM

MC, I also thought those Maillols were poorly served by such a setting. It's clearly not suitable, and it's an obvious disservice to the sculptures. Frankly, the whole set-up is tacky. Not a good reflection on the responsible parties.



January 24, 2010, 3:04 PM

Those Maillol pieces would do much better in a park setting, near greenery and water. Whoever set them up like this is fully worthy of a Vegas casino designer job, or not even that.



January 24, 2010, 3:45 PM

I agree with both of you, Jack and MC. The whole campus is like that. Very fine works scattered willy nilly. I'm surprised something hasn't been done about it yet. I know they must be hearing about it.



January 24, 2010, 6:28 PM

Got milk?

Hagi 1 (click on image to enlarge as needed)
Hagi 2
Hagi 3
Hagi 4



January 24, 2010, 8:16 PM

Here is a Maillol you might like better. It's at the Meadows Museum on the SMU campus.

Really nice cup, Jack.



January 24, 2010, 8:28 PM

The Three Graces, no doubt. Yes, that works better than the Crow Center entrance, which is a lousy set-up. But even this group would do better in a park setting, a "nymphs in a wood" sort of thing.



January 24, 2010, 8:39 PM

It was once in a courtyard across the campus, but I like it where it is now, with those sheer walls which make the contours and negative shapes more apparent.



January 24, 2010, 8:41 PM

By the way, the potter’s work in that Hagi cup and other vessels was inspired by an ancient large cherry tree when in bloom, with its myriad gray-white flowers and the tree bark showing through small gaps between them. I saw a picture of the potter, an old guy who looks as tough as nails, yet apparently possessing a rather poetic sensibility.



January 25, 2010, 12:41 AM

A park setting would be better, more romantic, but still, that picture makes me suspect that his bronzes are likely better than his direct stone carvings, generally speaking.
He's one of the greats, for sure, but those two just don't seem up to his usual high level.
Here's a Maillol bronze I recently photographed at the DC NGA...



January 25, 2010, 12:42 AM

Oh yeah, click to enlarge, Jack.



January 25, 2010, 8:59 AM

MC, yours is a better example of Maillol than those Crow things, except in your example the breasts aren't integrated anatomically. They look stuck on. My idea of Maillol has been that, when his sculptures work, it's because their charm overrides their eccentricity.


Chris Rywalt

January 25, 2010, 9:59 AM

I think what's bugging you, Tim, is not so much eccentricity as it is Maillol's contemporary style. That small-breasted, kind of anatomically separate look, with the overall slight geometricizing of the figure, was I think kind of popular back then. Note also how thick-legged the woman is, especially her ankles -- no one would sculpt that way today. I kind of draw like that but I always mean to make the ankles thinner. It just doesn't always work out.

Maillol would fit right in at Rockefeller Center. With the Lachaise there, I'm surprised Maillol didn't get roped in as well. (Apparently Paul Manship was a big fan, though.)



January 25, 2010, 10:50 AM

So, Chris, you're saying that Maillol's work was affected by or followed Art Deco style? It's more likely (though I don't know for certain) that the comparitively simplistic, mechanical Art Deco style took cues from Maillol, but missed his real qualities. I think his work is much more naturalistic (and better) than Art Deco.

And, as for the liberties Maillol may have taken with proportions, look at the size of the hands in Michaelangelo's David. But they still are anatomically integrated.



January 25, 2010, 11:32 AM

Chris: "Maillol would fit right in at Rockefeller Center. With the Lachaise there, I'm surprised Maillol didn't get roped in as well. (Apparently Paul Manship was a big fan, though.)"

I think you might've gotten that backwards, Chris. In any event, to make their case about a connection between Maillol and Deco, they're gonna have to do better than the following, from the article you referenced:

"Although undocumented, the clear influence of the great American Deco sculptor Paul Manship is evident in these late works, which each bear characteristics of Manship’s most public of masterpieces: Prometheus in Rockefeller Plaza. Of these, The River is an enigma that will forever leave the book open on Maillol. A reclined, yet animated goddess of a woman is frozen in a kind of mysterious half-exstacy half-torment. At once a Medusa and a languid beauty, this work was based on the idea of a fallen stabbing victim to symbolize the abolition of war. In the end, these polar initiatives become a sublime commingling in art the likes of which the world had not seen since the ancient Laocoon Group of Greece."

I see more of a spiritual connection between Maillol and Renoir's sculpture. Still, those Crow things seem clumsy. I mean, look at the drapery. Was that an attempt at stylization, or did he run out of time, or what?


(Somebody who is not) Franklin

January 25, 2010, 11:56 AM

Close the a-tag
at "Rodin at Crow Center" (comment 54)



January 25, 2010, 12:16 PM

Franklin, I think you mean comment 53.


Chris Rywalt

January 25, 2010, 2:08 PM

I may very well have gotten things backwards, Tim, because I'm completely ignorant about this stuff, except what I skimmed briefly before taking my wife to work. I'm not trying to say anyone copied anyone else, exactly, just saying that that style was sort of in the air at the time. The same way so many popular songs from the early talkie era are sung falsetto. It's just how they did things back then.

We've discussed on this list before the way the human body seems to change shape from era to era. I still sort of wonder why -- could be Darwinian selection in the short term, I guess, or intermixing of formerly separate genetic pools. Some people have opined that America is working its way to an all beige population as we all mix up. I also have a pet theory that clothes affect how bodies are shaped -- that we sort of grow around our clothes -- and maybe that has something to do with it. I'm just messing around here, though. Nothing to take seriously.

So I think Maillol's figures partake of a combination of the style of the time, influenced by classical sculpture of course, and the way people were shaped back then. His sculptures (as seen here) kind of remind me of Tamara de Lempicka. Although I fully expect to hear on this list that she's not a real artist. (I only know her work from JPEGs and I suspect it's not very good but I just don't know. They make nice JPEGs, though. Maybe I'm strange, but I find something like this irresistible.)


Chris Rywalt

January 25, 2010, 2:11 PM

Reading the Wikipedia page on de Lempicka does make her sound like the Damien Hirst of the '20s.



January 25, 2010, 3:30 PM

Somebody tell me how to fix #53 or #54, whichever one it is, and I'll do it. No entiendo 'Close the a-tag'.



January 25, 2010, 3:36 PM

I think Lempicka was better at what she did, such as it was, than Hirst is, relatively speaking. It's just that standards and taste have degenerated to such a degree that a brazen charlatan can now be taken very seriously indeed.


Chris Rywalt

January 25, 2010, 3:53 PM

Looking at the photo of Tamara herself, however, I have to conclude that part of her success was owed to being rich and beautiful and knowing how to leverage both.

I guess we'll see if Paris Hilton takes up painting.

Not to hijack Franklin's blog, by the way, but, Jack, did you get my e-mail message? It's the second I've sent with no response, which is fine, as long as I'm sure they're going through.

I remember the good old days when you could be certain e-mail would get delivered. Sigh.



January 25, 2010, 4:17 PM

Lempicka, in a way, was the Warhol of her time, only she was kept in better, more reasonable perspective because, as I noted in 92, people have basically become rather more stupid artwise.



January 25, 2010, 5:13 PM

I have taken care of the tag problem. #87 was not me. Tim, you forgot to put the </a> at the end of one of the links in #53. Some browsers may display that as linking everything else on the page.



January 25, 2010, 5:43 PM

Thanks, Franklin. Sorry for the negligence.


Chris Rywalt

January 25, 2010, 5:53 PM

Don't worry about it, Tim. For we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of Tim Berners-Lee.



January 25, 2010, 6:04 PM

In my case, WAY short.



January 25, 2010, 7:10 PM

Chronologically, Maillol (1861-1944) predates Art Deco (which flourished in the 1920s), so if there's influence, it runs from and not to Maillol. Maillol was a contemporary and great friend of Matisse. Valentin Tatransky used to be a great admirer of his.


Chris Rywalt

January 25, 2010, 7:24 PM

I just searched on "Valentin Tatransky" and yours is the first page that comes up, Piri. 56 is way too young!

Art Deco was so big. Is it possible one person influenced it? Also, my rummaging around makes me think the sculptures we're looking at all date from the '20s and '30s. Although "Leda" is from 1902, and has some of the same features. His early drawings, at least, looks very Post-Impressionist, like Van Gogh's.


Tom Hering

January 25, 2010, 7:52 PM

Jack@92: "It's just that standards and taste have degenerated to such a degree that a brazen charlatan can now be taken very seriously indeed."

I just read this yesterday, and thought you might find it interesting. (I've substituted "work of art" for "product.")

"... a [work of art] made under conditions of ... intellectual carelessness ... may generate its own demand by corrupting our standards in the same direction, and our initial harsh judgment of it will come to seem reactionary. The very existence of the [work of art] makes the lower standards suddenly seem respectable or inevitable." - Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft, pgs. 135-136.



January 25, 2010, 8:31 PM

Yes, Tom, that's more or less the idea, and given the vast hordes of people now "into" art, all suitably "with-it" fashion-wise, and conveniently out-of-it in real terms, it becomes increasingly "reactionary" to expect more or better. It's a kind of vicious circle, spiraling downward.



January 25, 2010, 8:44 PM

It may be that only the genuinely atypical, oddball or whatever, like me, who see fashion for the crock it's always been and are highly averse to bullshit, can resist the lure and influence of the popular, the trendy, the correct. It's so much easier to go with the flow and avoid friction, unpleasantness and frustration. And it's not just a matter of numbers (as in "so many people can't possibly be clueless"), but of corrupted, opportunistic and/or cynical (or maybe simply incompetent) "authority" figures blithely and busily "validating" all manner of rubbish. It's a vicious circle, spiraling downward.


Tom Hering

January 25, 2010, 9:00 PM

My own theory is that most of the authorities in art today achieve status, and make their living, by generating words (texts). It's much, much easier to do that with inferior art.

"A work of art cannot be explained in words. If it could, it would not be worth doing as art. That is why we have art, to give us something that words cannot give." - A. Stirling Calder, father of Alexander Calder (David Bourdon, Calder, pg.8)



January 25, 2010, 9:16 PM

Chris, if you're looking at Maillol from the 20s 6 30s, then you're looking at late Maillol; his reputation (& I suspect his best work) date from earlier. Yes, Art Deco was undoubtedly a synthesis of many different influences, but kind of shallow & trendy in my opinion nonetheless.



January 25, 2010, 9:16 PM

The art system, like pro sports, pop music, anything with big money and the potential for big (or big enough) material gains, automatically gravitates to whatever will not only protect but augment said gains. This inevitably leads to all manner of compromise, not to say corruption and perversion, and the implicit (if not brazen) acceptance thereof. It may, in fact, be too late, certainly in terms of the establishment. I'd like to believe that Art will somehow transcend all the shit it's so abjectly mired in, that it will rise phoenix-like from the ashes, but things don't look too encouraging just now.



January 25, 2010, 9:21 PM

PS. Yes, Chris, I agree. 56 was way too young.


Tom Hering

January 25, 2010, 9:29 PM

Actually, I would change "it's much, much easier to do that with inferior art" to "that can only be done with inferior art" (keeping the A. Stirling Calder quote in mind).

Art is dependent on its cultural context. Art will rise again if our culture, as a whole, begins to recognize and reject BS.



January 25, 2010, 10:06 PM

I have wanted to read Shop Class since it came out. I posted about it last year.


Chris Rywalt

January 25, 2010, 10:16 PM

It doesn't have to be our culture that revives art. In fact it most likely won't be. Some other culture will dig it up again. But not until after ours is dead.

It might be a while.



January 25, 2010, 10:29 PM

'Our culture' is moribund, kept twitching by entertainment. You stand in line to pay your money to get your goose, then when the effects wear off and the withdrawal symptoms hit, you get back in line for your next goose. The gooser has so many ways to accommodate the goosee that the deal can go on forever...or until the law of diminishing returns sets in. And that's about where we're at now. We feel that Something's Missing.

Art is being made. It's just in eclipse now. Artists' job is to get the art made and placed so that it'll be there when 'they' get to it. And they will.



January 25, 2010, 10:35 PM

Artists' job is to get the art made and placed so that it'll be there when 'they' get to it.

I very much agree with this.



January 25, 2010, 10:36 PM

Ah, yes, entertainment. Of sorts. Talk about the opiate of the masses.



January 25, 2010, 11:19 PM

I don't think "entertainment" is bad. Art, if it is good enough, IS entertaining, among other things and I hope my art entertains - why not? I can ensure that it entertains, too, though not necessarily for everyone.

Nor is there anything wrong with money. I would take it if I could get it - on my own terms, of course. That's harder to deal with than entertainment, because the payers won't pay for whatever doesn't conform to their ability to pay and their beliefs about what things are worth - out of my control if I stick with "my own terms".

Entertainment, though, that's everybody's opiate. I'm all for it, even for those who don't like what I make. Everyone needs it. Everyone deserves it.



January 26, 2010, 12:26 AM

This is what I meant by entertainment, John.



January 26, 2010, 12:33 AM

"If that is all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing ..." - three feet off the ground.



January 26, 2010, 8:10 AM

Re entertainment, it's obviously a matter of what kind and to what degree. There's a time, a place and a level. Our current culture, or rather society, is clearly out of whack in that respect. Badly.


Tom Hering

January 26, 2010, 9:57 AM

When I look at a work of art, something more than entertainment happens. It changes the way I see. That's how I know it's a work of art.

Entertainment doesn't change anything.


Chris Rywalt

January 26, 2010, 10:17 AM

I think what John was getting at is that art can be entertainment in addition to anything better it might manage. The best art, Tom, is certainly more than entertainment, but not all art is the best, and being entertaining is not the worst second place prize one could get.


Tom Hering

January 26, 2010, 10:21 AM

I agree, Chris. It's just good to hold to distinctions in a time when entertainers (and others) claim to be artists.



January 26, 2010, 10:42 AM

The entertainment I referred to in 113 was not the kind I consider legitimate, healthy, functional entertainment. As I said, it's a matter of degree or proportion. Our society is quite besotted with and constantly running after all sorts of stuff and nonsense, to put it kindly.



January 26, 2010, 10:44 AM

If I'm not entertained by a specific work of art, something is wrong with it. A Greek tragedy may be heroic, spiritual, probing, moralistic, and whatever else it may be, but in the end, it is entertainment. A Koons aquarium stuffed with basketballs? A diamond studded skull by Damien Hirst? If they entertain you, you are quite easily entertained.

Don't confuse being occupied with being entertained. As broad a category as entertainment is, many things proffered as art simply don't offer any. The difference, I suppose, is that they are taken seriously anyway, while a TV show that doesn't entertain is yanked off the air pronto.



January 26, 2010, 11:32 AM

Interesting. The way I understand entertainment per se is that it is simply confirming values. The entertainer discerns the values of the audience and then reflects those values back to the audience. Artists aren't motivated that way. Artists don't address audiences. Artists address Art. If an audience 'gets' the art, the reward is icing on the cake but that reward is not the artist's motive. The subject of artistic motive is a mysterious one.


Chris Rywalt

January 26, 2010, 12:31 PM

I'd say your definition, Tim, is kitsch, not so much entertainment. Kitsch can be entertaining if you're kind of simple-minded, I guess, and entertainment can be kitschy, but they're not the same thing. People can be entertained by anything, from the highbrow to the low.



January 26, 2010, 12:40 PM

I don't understand what you're saying, Chris. Frank Sinatra and the Beatles were entertainers, not artists in the way we're talking about here. The motives are different.



January 26, 2010, 12:48 PM

I'm not saying that entertainment for its own sake is less or more that art (as we are discussing it here). Its a case of apples and oranges. That is not to say that art is not entertaining.


Chris Rywalt

January 26, 2010, 1:17 PM

That's the thing: Kitsch can look like fine art or popular music or anything, really. The main thing about kitsch (as opposed to art) is it does what you said entertainment does: It tells the audience what it wants to hear. It mirrors back their own ideas and confirms them.

Entertainment, however, doesn't necessarily do that (and to the extent it does, I'd call it kitsch). Entertainment entertains, diverts, causes pleasure. It can be art, too. An aspect of true, great art is that it's also entertaining.

A couple of years ago we went to the circus. I hadn't been in years, maybe since I was a very small kid. I had a great time. The clowns were fantastic and Bello Nock (who's with the Big Apple Circus now) was a marvel, a truly amazing gymnast, clown, daredevil, and mime. Absolutely fantastic.

At no point would I have called the show "art" but at no point was it confirming any of my values, either (except the one about hard work). It was just entertaining. Highly entertaining, in fact.

I'd argue, too, that Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, and so forth aren't confirming values. What they're doing may not be art -- although things get hazy in there, I think -- but they're not kitsch, either, not merely mirroring the audience's values.

That's entertainment.


Tom Hering

January 26, 2010, 1:19 PM

I've heard a number of film directors, who worked through the 1960s, confess surprise that their movies are now considered "culture." And they, "artists." Because they made their movies as entertainment, and transient entertainment at that: they truly believed their movies would vanish after their first run in theaters.

The birth of the idea that there is a respectable thing called "popular culture" changed all that. Though it was originally called "trash culture" (which implied subversiveness). And "low-to-middlebrow nonsense" before that. It would be good if civilization recovered that view.


Chris Rywalt

January 26, 2010, 1:26 PM

I wrote on this at length already, Tom. It is surprising what the word "art" has come to cover.

That's English for you. Juggling is certainly an art but it's not art. Likewise pottery, filmmaking, and so on. I'm not sure movies qualify as art. I mean, obviously very few movies are that good anyway. But the very best: Fine art? I'm not sure. Plenty of people, however, would plunk me in the "Old-fashioned Reactionary Idiot" file for saying so.


Tom Hering

January 26, 2010, 1:33 PM

Chris, I'll say it: the very best movies are not fine art.

Try not to land on top of me at the bottom of the file. ;-)


Chris Rywalt

January 26, 2010, 1:51 PM

At least I'm merely undecided.

I've had a few moviegoing experiences which were really, really powerful. Very different from what I get from a painting, but powerful and visceral nevertheless. I'm therefore not quite willing to dismiss film entirely.

Then again I think it was Bunny who once quoted Noel Coward to me: "Extraordinary how potent cheap music is."



January 26, 2010, 1:53 PM

Chris: " no point was it confirming any of my values, either (except the one about hard work)."

Sure it was. Otherwise you wouldn't have been entertained. Entertainment is entertainment for a reason. Something is funny, for instance, because it contains an element of truth.

"I'd argue, too, that Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, and so forth aren't confirming values."

Confirming values is just about all those examples are doing, and, for their fans, in an appealing way. Otherwise their stuff wouldn't sell. They're working only for their audience, with their audience's whys and wherefores in mind, taking precedence over their own whys and wherefores. None of that stuff will ever emerge as Art because there is nothing timeless in any of it. It was made for specific moments in time, to relate to specific audiences. On the other hand, a Lennon/McCartney tune could be taken by an artist and lifted out of its limitations, ala D'vorak, Smetana, Sibelius...



January 26, 2010, 1:57 PM

Regarding film and all media, the medium as such is incidental. It's what's done with it or within it that counts.


Chris Rywalt

January 26, 2010, 2:00 PM

I'm not looking to argue specifics -- the Beatles versus Dylan (of whom I'm not fond anyway) -- so let's drop that bit.

I think you're employing a circular definition here. Entertainment confirms the audience's values; if the audience's values are confirmed, then they're entertained. If Springsteen's stuff sells, it's because it confirms the buyers' values; if it didn't, it wouldn't sell.

I say it ain't so. I say Springsteen and Bello are value-neutral. They're just enjoyable to experience. When Bruce puts some words in just the right order, or Bello juggles just so, audiences say "Ah, that's nice." That's all. No values (necessarily) involved. (I'll grant you that Springsteen deals with values in his lyrics, but you don't have to agree with them to enjoy his music. Witness the Republicans looking to use "Born in the USA" as their theme song in the 1980s. Or how many New Jersey residents love Bruce even though his most famous songs are about getting the fuck out of New Jersey.)



January 26, 2010, 2:12 PM

Chris, what do you think liking something is? You don't just like something for no reason. I think we must be talking about two entirely different things.


Chris Rywalt

January 26, 2010, 2:27 PM

By that definition everything you like confirms your values, fine art or not.



January 26, 2010, 2:31 PM

Right. What else does liking something mean? But Art gives more than entertainment.


Tom Hering

January 26, 2010, 4:23 PM

Movies and performances are noisy. Fine art is quiet. Dead quiet. What sort of difference in experience is possible because of this?



January 26, 2010, 5:57 PM

Tom, I don't know if this answers your question but movies and performances would obviously be multi-sensory experiences, gestalts, I guess you could say. Painting (I assume that's what you mean by 'fine art'.) can call up a multi-sensory experience, but via the eyes. I'd be looking for a difference in quality rather than sensory difference.

Did you have an answer to your question in mind?



January 27, 2010, 7:54 AM

I'm coming in late on this, but I have to go with John #122. Good art entertains me, and that makes it entertainment. Saying otherwise means that we are allowing ourselves to mislead by what I call "value loading", whereby a word gets unwarranted assumptions attached to it. In this case the word "entertinment" carries the implicit & unwarrented assumption of "not art".

The distinction here is not one of entertainment vs not entertainment but what, or who, is being entertained, which is a complex & interesting subject. But when we deny the capacity for entertainment to good art we submit to a slippery slope which invites the painful, repulsive gotesquerie we see in in new art today.

As one of my colleagues once said, "fun is profound".


Tom Hering

January 27, 2010, 8:53 AM

Entertainment makes us unaware of ourselves for a while. Its a way of forgetting. Art heightens our state of awareness - of both the work and what's happening inside us as we experience it. Its a way of discovering.



January 27, 2010, 9:11 AM

I would go with #122 also, but I sympathize with Tom's #120. Part of the problem in this thread lies with what Chris says in #129: "It is surprising what the word "art" has come to cover." We have been slinging the A word around on this blog in a not especially careful way. But we have proceeded generally along the lines that 'art' rises above the commonplace, entails craft, and requires audiences to bring at least part of their brains to the experience.

Referring to #122, I'd never place Aeschylus or Sophocles, the occasion of whose work I have to rise to, in the same context or category as I would Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen, who don't require anything of me (except money) or give me anything I don't already have in abundance whether I want it or not.



January 27, 2010, 10:40 AM

Tom: the distinction you are making above is really not a distinction. "Unaware of ourselves" and "heightened state of awareness" are essentually the same thing. Entertainment and art (things, events, etc) are not catagorically distinct; they have the same character of effect. We choose to make a distinction in terms of value, and I contend this is a mususe, or maybe just overloose use, of terminology.

Tim: You are letting yourself be lead by the implicit value-charge of terms, which is the same trap that those who overuse the word "art" fall into.

In everyday language we say "art" and we know we mean things in galleries and museums; this is how we converse. But essentially art is merely that which we assess esthetically. Therefore anything in fact can be "art".

Over the course of the 20th C this has become commonplace opinion, and because art is on a pedestal and costs a lot and is prestigious there is a strong motivation to cram as much into the catagory as possible. Most of it is is simply bad art and probably shouldn't be called art, but to the extent that we look at it as art it is art.

Language is fluid by nature. We just have to accept it.

My advice is don't start with categories; start with experience. Experience comes first. Look first, name later. If you are entertained by something we call "art" than it is also entertainment. If you look at it esthetically, as art, and it does not work as art, then it is misnamed.

And try to keep terminology value-free unless is is being used specifically for valuation, eg by using the word "good".


Tom Hering

January 27, 2010, 11:21 AM

If there's a problem with a word, it's "entertainment." Don't we really mean "enjoyment"? I can enjoy an entertainment (or not) and I can enjoy a work of art (or not). But art and entertainment are still two different things. And if we start with experience to define the difference, we have to ask if our enjoyment of art is the same experience as our enjoyment of entertainment. Well, they're not - not for me anyways. The one is an enjoyable experience of discovery, and the other is an enjoyable experience of forgetting.



January 27, 2010, 11:42 AM

Opie, letting myself be led? More like trying to follow the bouncing ball.

Like words such as 'love,' or 'truth,' the word 'art' has been so used as to make it rather useless. So I prefer to stay away from those words rather than have to, for instance, qualify 'art' with 'good' or whatever, which I don't think is satisfactory, though I understand that placing categories before experience can lead to confusion.

I have already agreed that entertainment is a part of the art experience. But I believe there is a context or category of entertainment which pointedly, deliberately requires very little or no art, and there is a lot more of that than not. This, I think, is what Chris thinks I should call 'kitsch.' But Tom suggests that in our society the distinction is muddied, and I agree. I don't know that the way to clarify that is to use qualifiers, which would lead us into a debate about the qualifications, and in the present environment, where would that go?

'"Unaware of ourselves" and "heightened state of awareness" are essentually the same thing.' Yes, a heightened state of awareness entails forgetting self or suspending self out of the way, but so does being a zombie, which is the meaning I got from Tom's comments.

This thread has been an interesting and useful effort of clarification.



January 27, 2010, 12:58 PM

Tom, you say "And if we start with experience to define the difference, we have to ask if our enjoyment of art is the same experience as our enjoyment of entertainment".

But you are not starting with experience, you are starting with categories which are already defined in terms of their expected experience. So it is tautological.

Usually when we have two different words they indicate two different things. Art & entertainment have different definitions. All I am saying is that for me art (good art) is entertaining so therefore is is also entertainment. Something certainly can be entertainment without being art.

Tim, yes distinctions a re muddled but life and language are muddled as a matter of necessity. Unmuddled would be death. All I am advocating here is a certain consciousness that experience is the basic determinating factor. Language is nothing more than a very fluid "life aid" that we use to get along. One of the problems with language is that is makes us think primarily in terms of linguistic disignations and then rely on these static categories rather than ever-changing experience. This is known by the cliche "thinking in the box". It is a real handicap when it comes to talking about art.



January 27, 2010, 1:33 PM

Opie: "Tim, yes distinctions a re muddled but life and language are muddled as a matter of necessity."

Yes opie, I understand, and I'm in general agreement with you. But the 'muddied' I'm referring to is more about a societal dysfunction, a general inability to discern, than it is about language fluidity.

Perhaps another discussion entirely.


Tom Hering

January 27, 2010, 3:32 PM

Opie, I didn't start my life, or grow up, with a clear understanding of categories. I began with experiences of one sort of thing, and also with experiences of another sort of thing. After so many years, I recognized there was a category for each kind of experience.

I found that one sort of experience fit into the category "art" and another into the category "entertainment." And both experiences could fit into the category "enjoyment" (noun). Art could be an enjoyment (or not) and entertainment could be an enjoyment (or not).

To my way of thinking, it's better to introduce that third, more general category (enjoyment) than to say "art is entertainment." Things remain clearer.

Unless, of course, you want to see everything as flowing together. (Personally, I've found life to be far more episodic than flowing. Perhaps that explains the helpfulness, to me, of categorizing.)



January 27, 2010, 7:42 PM

Tom, everything is flowing together, but you can call is "episodic" if you wish. That's the way life & language are. Your experience does not "fit into a category". What you have is a distinct enough experience to have a word that refers back approximately to something in another person's experience. It is entirely fluid.

The notion that we have distinct categories is a fiction we create so that we can face the world with some sense of order. This is extremely useful, but in my opinion we must at all times maintain a clear sense that the only real thing we have is experience and that it is in constant flux.



January 28, 2010, 12:14 AM

Opie: "The notion that we have distinct categories is a fiction we create so that we can face the world with some sense of order. This is extremely useful..." Yes, it is, just as, for example, the notion of time. Actually, we have MUCH more than our experience to guide us. With only my experience, I'm at sea. A backdrop against which to place experience yields meaning.

As for your other point about flux, I don't think anybody is arguing with that, and it seems to me a rather obvious point.



January 28, 2010, 8:01 AM

The point may be obvious, but it is an obviousness we make ourselves blind to. That was my point.I think the first duty of intelligence is to recognize the obvious and take it seriously.

Time is lees an imposed category of thought than a matter of experience. Nevertheless, whenever I think hard about time it begins to strike me as something odd or peculiar. I don't know why that is.



January 28, 2010, 8:16 AM

Events are conspiring against a new post. At the moment, we have electricians switching out the service. My latest activity is here.


Chris Rywalt

January 28, 2010, 8:35 AM

In case it's not obvious to everyone: You need to click on "X COMMENTS ABOUT THIS PIECE" to see Franklin's comment.

"This is freighting the rickshaw of metaphor with passengers too big to haul." Good one.



January 28, 2010, 9:51 AM

Nice job, Franklin. Somebody ought to do it, but really, it shouldn't be that difficult to figure things out. In other words, there should be no need for you, not in this vein or line of work. One grows ever more weary of people who, more or less unaccountably, persist in missing the obvious, the basic. You know, something as simple as "So how good is Charuvi's painting, as such?" What is one to do with people with no real eye who presume to hold forth on visual art?



January 28, 2010, 10:37 AM

Yes, Franklin, excellent commentary, but given the muddled incoherence of what you are commenting on I would say you are freighting the rickshaw of middlebrow dullness with sharp insight too big to haul


Tom Hering

January 28, 2010, 12:30 PM

Tim@150: "Actually, we have MUCH more than our experience to guide us. With only my experience, I'm at sea. A backdrop against which to place experience yields meaning."

It also yields the best art. Cezanne, for example, was no slave to certainties about the nature of reality. "If I did not believe I could not paint."



January 28, 2010, 12:53 PM

The problem, OP, is that the establishment, which controls the perks, is so perverted that critics (real or imagined) are under massive pressure to observe the party line no matter how muddled or nonsensical. Certainly, they cannot stray too far from it without fear of what it could cost them, and most people are not inclined to go on career-averse missions.



January 28, 2010, 1:38 PM

Hey Jack. I personally think "the establishment" can be conquered ... again. Just as the avant-garde conquered it when the AG was viable. If modernism is to do the slaying, what it needs is "breakaways" not "breakthroughs".

Darby Bannard's most recent pictures are good examples of breakaways. In them color that is often seen in the more garish "establishment" art is harnessed by a solid, seemingly conventional, compositional organization that disciplines something that is ordinarily not controlled, not in establishement artists, anyway - a clear departure from his previous work that leverages its fundamentals to release color that jams up against and bounces off the edge, rhapsodic as opposed to garish, though both effects employ saturated color. It is not a "breakthrough" (sudden change), like Pollock's drips, or Louis's veils. But it is nonetheless something very different that is accomplished without negating his past work. Color has gotten short shrift in modernism ever since cubism, and these pictures liberate it without giving up the cubist manner of organizing a picture. They are a shot in the arm. When enough others join him by creating their own "shots in the arm", the establishment will break.

The sheer glut of "breakthroughs" is almost impossible to sort out, and hardly worth the effort anyway. So you find a breakthrough that offers some promise - who cares? "Breakthroughs", for all their romantic appeal, are now a dime or less a dozen. Pre-postmodern can be the launching platform, can be a refreshed version of itself, but it will take more than one artist making something of it to do the job.



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