Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Paintings I Like, pt. 69

From the top:
1. Edouard Manet, Olympia, 1863. Oil on Canvas, 51" x 75."
2. Francisco de Goya, The Naked Maja, 1800-1803. Oil on Canvas, 38" x 75."
3. Diego Velazquez, The Rokeby Venus, 1647-51. Oil on Canvas, 48" x 70."
4. Titian, Venus of Urbino, 1538. Oil on Canvas, 47" x 65."

For installment #69 of P.IL., I decided to embrace the wink-wink internet porn implications of that famous number. There are two naughty issues in this post. The first is the female nude not presented as a critique or cultural commentary, and the second is the generational dialog between artists. Regarding the former, I don't have much to say - as is the case with all pornography, all you really need to do is look at the pictures.

As to the latter - the end of the historical narrative has been a big theme in art theory for about 45 years, but I think that no matter how hard the art thinkers beat that drum, they can't stop artists from looking at the work of earlier artists whom they admire. I certainly agree that the forced-march type of teleology espoused by Greenberg doesn't allow room for all the nuances and tributaries of a real, organic historical dialog, but to counter that with claims that the dialog is an utter fiction enforced by a shadowy academic hegemony is equally absurd.

Artists become artists in large measure because they have seen other, older art that inspired them to do so - I don't think this is an especially controversial claim. The worst of them copy; the best of them may start by copying, but eventually assimilate the aspects of the older work that suit their own time, temperament , and purposes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Friday, March 25, 2011

Paintings I Like, pt. 68

Edouard Manet, "Luncheon on the Grass," 1862-63. Oil on canvas, 82" x 105."

The cut and paste space of this picture is famously a precursor to abstract painting; the people and objects are arranged according to the artist's desired locations, and the accuracy of the perspective is abandoned to that end. Greenberg considers Manet the first modernist painter for this reason. But even as the picture ushers in a modernist approach to painting, it predicts the post-modern collage and the disjuncture and discontinuity it implies.

As if that wasn't enough, the painting is also reverential to the past, and not in a glib or ironic way; Manet's well-known love of Velazquez is stamped all over the picture. But the most cursory inspection shows that it couldn't possibly be a Velazquez - the strangeness of the perspective is a dead giveaway. Velazquez himself had a similar relationship to Titian; not specifically in terms of the perspective, but in the more general sense of a strong family resemblance subverted by aspects which could have not shown up in the earlier artist's work.

Manet's enthusiasm for Velazquez was not that different than the reverence that 19th century French academic painters had for Raphael (Thomas Couture, Manet's one-time teacher, is a good example). What Manet did with that reverence was utterly different, though. Rather than show his admiration by being a copyist, he sifted out the things he could use, left out parts that seemed dated, and added things that were germane to his moment in time and his own purposes.

The contemporary painter, especially the contemporary abstract painter needs to consider this model. Classicism is definitely not the way to go right now - an overly orthodox approach seems to me an excellent way to hasten the notorious death of painting as opposed to postponing it. But at the same time it would be a mistake to throw out the baby with the bath water.

Abstraction and modernism are not indissoluble, and in the end, that's a good thing.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Michael Zahn on Henri Mag and Other Subjects

Mark Stone at Henri Mag recently put up an extremely thoughtful piece on Michael Zahn, a painter for whom I hold an immense amount of respect. It's especially good on the interplay of the visual and the cultural, which I think is one of the most interesting things about MZ's work - it's not conceptual art, but it's not Modernism or Minimalism, either.

Also, last week D. Richmond started a new series on Immaterial Culture about the academization of art and its historical precedents. It's researched exhaustively, it's fascinating, and I look forward to future installments.

Readers of No Hassle may or may not have noticed that I haven't written anything long-form in a while. I am thinking, thinking, thinking, though, and am a little hesitant to publish while my thoughts are in a state of flux. Nonetheless, I'm not going to wait too long - I don't have a big problem with changing my mind in print.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Paulie's Picks, Aqueduct, 3/17/11

From northern Japan, to Libya, to Bahrain, this week's news has been saturated with death, destruction, unendurable misery and nuclear calamity. Domestically, the right wing is trying to eliminate childrens' health insurance programs, medical assistance for the elderly, collective bargaining, and anything else that vaguely resembles the New Deal and the Great Society.

Tomorrow, I'm taking a break from the news. The favorite in the 8th race at Aqueduct is named Funky Munky Mama, and I'm looking forward to meeting her.

Here are Paulie's Picks for St. Patrick's Day, 2011, at the Big A:

1st race:
6 - Budge Man
5 - Blank Check
2 - Old Man Buck

2nd race:
3 - Bazinga
5 - Dita
2 - Maspeth Princess

3rd race:
6 - Spring Elusion
4 - Crafty N P
2 - Turning South

4th race:
9 - African King
5 - Mr Magenta
8 - Head Heart Hoof

5th race:
5 - Lights Out Lisa
7 - Elite Class
6 - Aegean Breeze

6th race:
5 - Dr Disco
9 - Katskill Bay
3 - Dr. W

7th race:
2 - Sin and the City
6 - Digger
3 - Ricoriatoa

8th race:
4 - Funky Munky Mama
6 - Jimmy's Sweetheart
2 - All Around Fancy

9th race:
6 - Goldenstatewarrior
1 - Moody Majesty
8 - Allen's Affair

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011