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.