Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society. We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don't "win," there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. We need hope.

An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places--and there are so many--where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

-Howard Zinn, "The Optimism of Uncertainty," The Nation, 9/2/2004

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Paintings I Like, pt. 45

Veronese, The Family of Darius before Alexander, 1567. Oil on canvas, 93" x 187."

I stood in front of this Veronese at the National Gallery for a long time puzzling over over how the composition could work so well when it felt like so much of it was crammed over to the right. Then I saw it: the two interlocking waves of value, like Yin and Yang, light on top, dark on the bottom.

Some of the best pictorial ideas sound trivial when described in words, but are phenomenal in practice. This is one of my favorite things about pictures.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

210 Gallery, 1/23/10

Thanks to everyone who came to the opening at 210 Gallery yesterday, it was a great time!

The show stays up until 2/28 and the gallery is open Friday to Sunday from 12-6pm and by appointment, click here for more info.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Paul at 210 Gallery, A Reminder

I open tomorrow at 210 gallery in Brooklyn from 3:00 to 7:00 pm, please come by if you can!

Click here for details.

Are Corporations People?

What are corporations? That's a serious question. Corporations are state constructed tyrannies. The internal management of corporations is simply a tyrannical system, orders come from the top down, you transfer them below you and so on. About a century ago the courts gave corporations the rights of persons, which was a tremendous blow against classical liberalism. Classical liberalism maintains that rights inhere in people, like you and me, not in abstract tyrannies. But corporations were given the rights of persons, such as freedom of speech, freedom from search, so they’re unaccountable. And of course they’re immortal persons of enormous power. In fact the recent trade agreements give them rights way beyond persons. General Motors can go to Mexico and demand to be treated like a Mexican company, it’s one of the ways the Mexican economic system has been taken over by foreigners. Can a Mexican company come to New York and demand it get national treatment? Its inconceivable.

-Noam Chomsky, from an article on, May, 2000

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Don't Worry; Democracy is Overrated, Anyway

From today's New York Times:

"WASHINGTON — Sweeping aside a century-old understanding and overruling two important precedents, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections."

Anyone who thinks this won't distort democracy should take a look at the effect that unlimited money had on the last three mayoral elections here in NYC, particularly the most recent one. And that was unlimited money driven by ego, not profits.

Democracy took a real hit today. Obama immediately called upon congress to write legislation to stem the inevitable tide of corporate cash, but my guess is that both bodies will remain silent on the matter.

We only recently finished an eight-year period when energy, pharma, insurance, and investment banks essentially ran the country. This ruling will make that era look restrained by comparison.

Paintings I Like, pt. 44

Drunken Silenus Supported by Satyrs, ca. 1620, attributed to Anthony Van Dyck. Oil on canvas, 53" x 76."

"An old legend has it that King Midas hunted a long time in the woods for the wise Silenus, companion of Dionysos, without being able to catch him. When he had finally caught him the king asked him what he considered man's greatest good. The daemon remained sullen and uncommunicative until finally, forced by the king, he broke into a shrill laugh and spoke: 'ephemeral wretch, begotten by accident and toil, why do you force me to tell you what it would be your greatest boon not to hear? What would be best for you is quite beyond your reach: not to have been born, not to be, to be nothing. But the second best is to die soon.' "

-from "The Birth of Tragedy" by Friedrich Nietzsche, 1872:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Paintings I Like, pt. 43

Frans Hals, The Laughing Cavalier, 1624. Oil on canvas, 33" x 26."

Regular readers of this blog will undoubtedly have noticed the absence of posts from the last ten days - this is because the staff of No Hassle at the Castle was away on a whirlwind tour of Paris and London, soaking in masterpiece after masterpiece. What a gas! Over the next few weeks I'll be rattling off installments of "Paintings I Like" about the amazing pictures I saw.

The Laughing Cavalier resides at the Wallace Collection in London, and rather than do a detailed analysis, I'd just like to pose a question: Wouldn't it be wonderful to wake up to this painting in your home every day?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Paul Corio at 210 Gallery, 1/23 - 2/28

I'm pretty thrilled to announce that I'm having a solo exhibition of paintings at 210 Gallery in Brooklyn, opening later this month.

The show runs from January 23rd to February 28th, and the opening is from 3:00 to 7:00pm on Saturday, January 23rd.

From Manhattan, take the "R" train to 25th St. in Brooklyn. Walk one block to 24th street and take a left. 210 Gallery is on the left side (see map below).

Hope to see you there!

(Click here for the e-mail version of the above invitation. The long skinny one was a little more blog-friendly).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kenneth Noland, 1924-2010

One of late Modernism's foremost color painters died today, and if you take a walk through the major NYC collections you'll see very few of his paintings.

So rather than eulogize Ken Noland, I'm going to make an open plea to the big museums and galleries: please take these marvelous pictures out of mothballs and mount a show. I had a similar hope at the passing of Jules Olitski, but it didn't happen. I'm frankly not optimistic about this one either.

Many of the key players of the Contemporary Art Institution (the museum directors, curators, department chairs, writers) made their bones by slaying Clement Greenberg and the painters associated with him. Their victory was complete: In "Art Since 1900," the 704 page volume on modern art released in 2004 by the heavyweight foursome of Yves-Alan Bois, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Hal Foster, and former Greenberg disciple Rosalind Krauss, the subject of Color Field is essentially omitted - there is apparently a sidebar reference on page 472.

I've always said that in order for calm reevaluation of this period in painting to occur, the big players will probably need to have died. Greenberg, Noland, Olitski, and Morris Louis are all gone, and Larry Poons has moved on to utter idiosyncrasy.

Can't we take another look? Please?

No Future For You

Twenty-two years ago today, on January 5, 1978, the Sex Pistols kicked off their ill-fated North American tour at the Great Southeast Music Hall in Atlanta, Georgia. The tour consisted of only seven shows, and the clip above is from the Sex Pistols last-ever concert, at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom on January 14, 1978.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Paintings I Like, pt. 42

Piet Mondrian, "Trafalgar Square," 1939-43. Oil on canvas, 57" x 47."

In terms of Mondrian's late paintings, the vibrant, syncopated "Broadway Boogie Woogie" tends to dominate the the conversation, and rightly so - it would have been exceedingly interesting to see what he would have come up with if he had been able to continue on that track for a few more years (he died of pneumonia in 1944 at age 71).

But while "Broadway Boogie Woogie" represented a significant departure from the typical Mondrian pictorial vocabulary, "Trafalgar Square," finished around the same time, was also a big move, even though it bears a stronger resemblance to the earlier works.

In terms of size, the main body of Mondrian's output would be classified as easel paintings or "cabinet pictures" - the middle scale so common to Impressionism and Cubism, made with the domestic setting in mind. Both "Broadway Boogie Woogie" and "Trafalgar Square" (along with the unfinished "Victory Boogie Woogie") represented a shift to a larger scale. It would be tidy to say that the Dutchman's move to NYC influenced him to work larger, but Trafalgar Square was started in London (hence the title). Still, it's easy to believe that New York's skyscrapers, so aesthetically linked to his earlier works, convinced him that bigger scale was the correct move. The fact that "Broadway Boogie Woogie," painted entirely in New York, is in a similar scale to "Trafalgar Square" tends to support this view.

The shift in scale is somewhat difficult to appreciate when looking at "Trafalgar Square" in reproduction, because the stripes are scaled up in proportion to the canvas - the part to whole relationship is similar to the smaller paintings of the '20's and '30's. But in person, it makes for a very different picture.

The scale is in keeping with a three-quarter-length portrait, and as such the picture demands a different sort of attention - it is more like meeting a person than peering into a small window or diorama or fish tank. The picture is still spatial to be sure, but the larger size encourages the viewer to look at the picture as opposed to into the picture. The scale also demands that it be hung relatively high, so it is impossible to apprehend it completely at eye level - you have to look up to see the top, which adds to its more commanding presence.

More importantly, the new width of stripe allows it to do double-duty, as it were; it can function as line (as it typically did in Mondrian's work) or it can function as plane. This latter distinction is quite important, because when the lines are perceived as planes, it's a short trip to seeing them as an unbroken ground behind the white and primary squares - especially when the panes of white and color get small at the sides and bottom of the picture. The five white and two yellow rectangles at the bottom left look dangerously close to dislodging themselves from the grid, and this subtle breakdown in the stability of the space reverberates throughout the rest of the picture, even the areas at the top where the the lines tend to function more like masonry, as they did with the earlier work. The ability to get that much variety from such a Spartan vocabulary is awesome.

Had Mondrian lived just a little longer, would he have been influenced to an even greater scale by his new neighbors and admirers in New York: Newman, Pollock, Kline, Rothko, et al? I think that stripe would have looked pretty good at about a foot wide.