Unreal Nature

August 13, 2014

Some Unsatisfied Demand

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:43 am

… For a personal symbolism in the religious field to be both creative and successful it would seem to have to reflect some unsatisfied demand in the power structure.

This is from Symbols: Public and Private by Raymond Firth (1973):

… As a symbolic instrument, a person may use his own body as a means of communication, to indicate by bodily action or reference some more abstract idea. When a person kneels in prayer he is symbolizing his humility before what he conceives as a higher personality, a god; when he says to someone else ‘I bow to your opinion,’ he symbolizes his deference to authority. These are simple instances, but there are many more subtle ways of using one’s body to express a social relationship. As Mauss put it: ‘The body is the first and most natural instrument of man.’

[ ... ]

… symbols may be regarded as means whereby the individuals simply express their own experiences or feelings and attempt to communicate these by comprehensive images to other people. Any question about the validity of the symbols then relates to the degree to which they are thought to reflect accurately the experiences and feelings signified. The meaning of the symbols is the clue they give to the state of mind of the person who expresses them. Quite another significance of the private symbols may be thought to lie in the degree to which they express experiences or feelings of what may be called the audience. The dream, trance presentation or other symbolic form is regarded as relevant not only to the individual’s situation but also to that of those to whom it is communicated.

… It is characteristic of many mystics that they have felt a need — almost a compulsive need — to communicate their experience and to assert its validity. Not only again do they claim their symbolic presentations as true; they claim this truth as having more than a personal application. So, commonly the personal symbolic experience of a mystic has resulted in a call for a commitment by others, for a recognition of the social validity of his symbolic order. And this in turn has often meant a need for judgment by the established forms of authority in the society. (The personal symbolism of a poet is usually easier to handle; except perhaps in a dictatorship, his market is apt to be uncluttered by power considerations.)

… For a personal symbolism in the religious field to be both creative and successful it would seem to have to reflect some unsatisfied demand in the power structure.

My most recent previous post from Firth’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 12, 2014

Because of the Excess

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:47 am

… better this waywardness and muscle-flexing than the anemia of good taste.

This is from ‘Review of an Exhibition of David Smith, David Hare, and Mirko’ (1947) found in Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism, Vol. 2, edited by John O’Brian (1986):

… The baroque exuberance and invention that disrupted Smith’s style in 1944 and 1945 has in this latest work been assimilated into a new unity of style that moves again with that “classical” spareness and speed which is so indispensable to the new linear. pictorial sculpture of our time. That Smith has been so well able to subdue his embroidery and luxuriance to this streamlining without emasculating his invention represents a feat and establishes a strong example. It is easy to be elegant in Smith’s vein at the cost of power; it is far from easy to combine the two. His sculpture for all its energy presents an elegance like that of Picasso’s or Braque’s high cubism: there is a similar clarity and a similar plenitude, both of which come from the artist’s certainty of having a style that is able to say everything he has to say with the maximum of economy. Yet at the same time the content of Smith’s art is worlds away from cubism, being the product of an age whose remaining optimism — of which Smith seems to have plenty — has become the private affair of individuals; whereas the cubists regarded the disenchantment of the world as a triumph for man, later artists like Smith have become so disillusioned with that triumph that they now seek new myths and new obscurities inside themselves.

Smith_hudson-river-landscap
David Smith, Hudson River Landscape, 1951

Hare is still somewhat too prone to the self-indulgence and whimsy of surrealism to channel his powers into a style. Thus, at his present show, any unity the very fact of his temperament might impose is still not enough to overcome the impression of eclecticism and capriciousness. But one feels, as in Smith’s case, better this waywardness and muscle-flexing than the anemia of good taste. In the end, when Hare does develop a style, it will say and include more, precisely because of the excess it will have to subdue.

Hare_magicians-game-1944
David Hare, Magician’s Game, 1944

… The exhibition of works by Mirko, a new young Italian sculptor, at Knoedler’s offers an epilogue. This, indeed, is the last gasp of academic sculpture — and that it is even a gasp and not merely a sigh is due to the fact that it is expelled by an artist of real talent. Like Chirico’s, Mirko’s parody destroys — in this case, the classical tradition of bronze casting. His bronze figures have the texture and suggestion of contours, if not the size, of eroded, oxidized archaic Greek figurines, although there is nothing of archaic stiffness about them. The distortions and simplifications are licensed by post-Rodinesque sculpture — which is about all they have to do with modern art. And yet Mirko’s sculpture [in some pieces] has a certain contained vehemence underneath its impressionism and period stylization. Nor do the classical and Renaissance motifs he favors retain enough of their original chasteness to hide a curious sexuality and sadism. This is academic, archaeological art all right, but it is also very up to date. Chirico set the example. And is all the new Italian art as academic, and, at the same time, as full of the Zeitgeist as this? It is a shame to see a talent as natively strong as Mirko’s waste itself and everything it has to say about modern life on the academic, only because Italian despair, pride, and nostalgia have made the academic de rigueur.

Mirko_lion
Basaldella Mirko, Roaring Lion II, 1956

[Note that the artwork of Smith and Mirko that I have chosen to show post-dates Greenberg's review.]

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 11, 2014

Preoccupation with Hares

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:40 am

This is from Defining Moments in Art: Over a Century of the Artists, Exhibitions, People, Artworks, and Events that Rocked the World, general editor Mike Evans. The book features items sequentially, starting in 1863 and ending in 2008. I am selecting items from back-to-front (starting in 2007) because I enjoy going from recent to distant more than the reverse:

Key Artwork John by Chuck Close; Date 1992; What It’s Key The giant face of a fellow artist [John Chamberlain] perfectly captures Close’s imaginative low resolution art.

Typifying his preoccupation with the depiction of people and faces on a grand scale, Chuck Close’s John is also nevertheless recognized for consolidating his movement away from the Photorealist style that made him famous.

Close_John
John by Chuck Close

 

Key Artwork The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living by Damien Hirst; Date 1991; Why It’s Key Controversial sculpture that established Hirst as the UK’s best known and most financially successful Conceptual artist.

… [it] is actually an arresting, beautiful, and poetic piece. A play on the idea that sharks need to constantly move ahead or die, the work addresses the reality of death with quiet resignation and poignant humility. Strip away the shock of the shark, and it is possibly an immortal work of art.

Hirst_shark
The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living by Damien Hirst

Key Artwork Six Foot Leaping Hare on Steel Pyramid by Barry Flanagan; Date 1990; Why It’s Key The bronze sculpture captures the essence of Flanagan’s archetypal animal subject.

… The artist’s preoccupation with hares can perhaps be attributed to the naturally expressive nature of their form. Flanagan is able to invest the animal’s loping legs and long ears with subtle emotions that would otherwise be difficult to convey …

Flanagan_Leaping Hare
Six Foot Leaping Hare on Steel Pyramid by Barry Flanagan

Key Artist Anselm Kiefer awarded the Wolf Prize; Date 1990; Why It’s Key Acknowledged Kiefer’s role as a defiant artist in West Germany

He first came to artistic prominence in the 1970s with subjects that dealt derisively with German heritage like the Nazi period. As a result he was regarded as a national embarrassment for years in West Germany, his art being riddled with German taboos and often seeming rather dark and neo-Romantic in style and thus out of date. While the press in the Federal Republic chastised the artist not a single other German artist — not even Joseph Beuys — enjoyed such a huge international following during his lifetime.

Kiefer
by Anselm Kiefer

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 10, 2014

The Offering

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:48 am

… It is a matter of something else, which takes place, happens, or occurs in presentation itself and in sum through it but which is not presentation: this motion through which, incessantly, the unlimited raises and razes itself, unlimits itself, along the limit that delimits and presents itself.

This is more from the essay ‘Ths Sublime Offering’ in A Finite Thinking by Jean-Luc Nancy (2003):

… if it is permissible to speak of the “unlimited” as of “something” that sets itself off “somewhere,” it is because in the judgment or the feeling of the sublime we are offered a seizure, an apprehension of this unlimitation that comes to raise itself up like a figure against a ground, although strictly speaking, it is always simply the limit that raises a figure up against a nondelimited ground.

it is the infinity of a beginning (and this is much more than the contrary of a completion, much more than the inversion of a presentation). It is not simply the infinite sprawl of a pure absence of figure. Rather, the unlimited engenders and engages itself in the very tracing of the limit: it retraces and carries off so to speak, “unto the ground” what this tracing cuts on the edge of the figure as its contour.

… Because unlimitation is not the number but the gesture, or if one prefers, the motion, of the infinite, there can be no presentation of the unlimited.

… the logic of the sublime is not to be confused with either a logic of fiction or a logic of desire, that is, again, with either a logic of representation (something in the place of something else) or a logic of absence (of the thing that is lacking in its place). Fiction and desire, at least in these classical functions, perhaps always frame and determine aesthetics as such, all aesthetics. And the aesthetics of mere beauty, of the pure self-adequation of presentation, with its incessant sliding into the enjoyment of the self, indeed, arises out of fiction and desire.

But it is precisely no longer a matter of the adequation of presentation. It is also not a matter of its inadequation. … In the sublime — or perhaps more precisely at a certain extreme point in which the sublime leads us — it is no longer a matter of (re)presentation in general.

It is a matter of something else, which takes place, happens, or occurs in presentation itself and in sum through it but which is not presentation: this motion through which, incessantly, the unlimited raises and razes itself, unlimits itself, along the limit that delimits and presents itself. This motion would trace in a certain way the external border of the limit. [ ... ] What takes place in this going overboard of the border, what happens in this effusion? As I have indicated above, I call it the offering, but we need time to get there.

… to be continued. My previous post from this Nancy essay is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 9, 2014

We Are Only Round Occasionally

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:41 am

… The truth is we are not usually real life characters in real life.

This is from the essay ‘Ideal Fiction’ found in The Collected Essays of J.V. Cunningham (1976):

… The essence of Ideal Fiction is that it presents the extreme case, but yet a case. It is something that once happened to people with such names as we have, living in a nameable place. As extreme, however, it is in the literary sense improbable, improbable by definition: “Yet sometimes it shall fall on a day / That falls not afterward within a thousand years.” And this provokes two observations. First, the improbable is interesting. Your wife says, “God, another day,” and you turn off your hearing aid. She says, “The damnedest thing happened today, I never would have believed it,” and you are eager attention. Secondly, the improbable is also probable. Several years ago I hailed a cab at 58th and Park Avenue, said “Grand Central Station,” and the cabbie said, “How do you get there, buddy?”

But the Fiction of the Extreme Case, though consonant with medieval habits of thought and feeling, is not peculiarly medieval. It is also modern, though repugnant to our official ideas. It is true we are not so partial to notable images of virtues and vices, partly because we are routinely in revolt against what we take to be Sunday School morality, against the idea of extreme good and extreme evil. We will not accept More’s or Shakespeare’s Richard III, though we constructed such a character ourselves in Hitler and Stalin. But the extreme case in our society deals rather with the little things and little people, with comedians, professors, cowboys, and not with the big things, death and supposed death, chiefs of state, their spouses and heirs. It flourishes particularly in oral literature; it is the point of many a joke.

There is the extreme case of W.C. Fields’ “Who put water in my water?” as also the current story of the professor who taped his lectures, which were heard by fifty lonely tape recorders on fifty chairs.

[ ... ]

… In [one kind of] narrative [of Ideal Fiction] character is narrowed to relevance, and the elements of action are extremes, high and low, joy and disaster, and they are not gradual but sudden. They invite the extreme case.

It follows, then, that in Ideal Fiction the characters are flat. But it is a fiction of our fiction that people are round. The truth is we are not usually real life characters in real life. We are flat, and so are those we know. We are only round occasionally to others in a sympathetic moment, to ourselves in the grim game of interpersonal relations: “I want to be treated as a person.” We usually see others as truck drivers or neighbors, bore or blonde. And we are flat to ourselves when working efficiently, when we are most ourselves. When I write a poem I am a poet; I am narrowed to relevance.

Nor was the extreme case in Chaucer’s works as extreme as one might think. In that Christianity which has been almost liquidated in my lifetime, each of us is an extreme case, destined for Heaven or for Hell. There is no individualistic Limbo in which we as real characters can hide. We are flat, flatly saved, or flatly damned. The ultimate world is ideal, and the ultimate our ultimate concern.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 8, 2014

Like an Axe

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:40 am

… six have been used to transport foods like peanuts to a coffee table …

This is taken from two separate essays by A.D. Coleman (1972) found in Leave Any Information at the Signal: Writings, Interviews, Bits, Pages by Ed Ruscha; edited by Alexandra Schwartz (2002):

Los Angeles — “After a book leaves here, it’s for whatever anyone wants to use it for. I’d love to have the facts on where my books are … I had a daydream once not long ago about an imaginary person known as the Information Man, and I wrote it down. Let me read it to you.

” ‘The Information Man is someone who comes up to you and begins telling you stories and related facts about a particular subject in your life. He came up to me and said, ‘Of all the books of yours that are out in the public, only 171 are placed face up with nothing covering them; 2026 are in vertical positions in libraries, and 2715 are under books in stacks. The most weight on a single book is sixty-eight pounds, and that is in the city of Cologne, Germany, in a bookstore. Fifty-eight have been lost; fourteen have been totally destroyed by water or fire; two-hundred sixteen books could be considered badly worn. Three hundred and nineteen books are in positions between forty and fifty degrees. Eighteen of the books have been deliberately thrown away or destroyed. Fifty-three books have never been opened, most of these being newly purchased and put aside momentarily.

” ‘Of the approximately 5000 books of Ed Ruscha that have been purchased, only thirty-two have been used in a directly functional manner. Thirteen of these have been used as weights for paper or other small things, seven have been used as swatters to kill small insects such as flies and mosquitoes, two were used as a device to nudge open a door, six have been used to transport foods like peanuts to a coffee table, and four have been used to nudge wall pictures to their correct levels. Two hundred and twenty-one people have smelled pages of the books. Three of the books have been in continual motion since their purchase; all three of these are on a boat near Seattle, Washington.’ “

Ruscha_GasolineStations

[ ... ]

“It’s a playground, is all it is,” says Ed Ruscha. “Photography’s just a playground for me. I’m not a photographer at all.”

Despite this disclaimer, Ruscha’s fourteen small books of photographs have found much of their audience among people interested in contemporary photography. They were among the first of the new wave of privately published photography books; they also pioneered in the use of photography as a basic tool of conceptual art. Quite aside from their historical significance, these books have a consistency and a charmingly mystifying ambiguity which results from their very literalness. They seem — at this admittedly early stage — to be remarkably durable works, Ruscha’s fear of their eventual “quaintness” notwithstanding.

Ruscha indicates that he began working with photographs out of “a combination of desires.” One was to, first of all, make a book. “I wanted to make a book of some kind. And at the same time, I — my whole attitude about everything came out in this one phrase that I made up for myself, which was ‘twenty-six gasoline stations.’ I worked on that in my mind for a long time and I knew that title before the book had even come about.

[ ... ]

… “Most of my books should be of unlimited quantities. I don’t want people to come up to me and say, ‘Boy, I’m going to save this because some day it’s going to be a work of art.’ That’s not it — you missed it … “

Ruscha, who feels that he’s “just scratching the surface” with his books so far, indicates that “It’s not only photography that interests me, it’s the whole production of the books … I just use that thing [the camera -- he works with a Yashica, by the way], I just pick it up like an axe when I’ve got to chop down a tree. I pick up a camera and go out and shoot the pictures that I have to shoot. I never take pictures just for the taking of pictures; I’m not interested in that at all. I’m not intrigued that much with the medium … I want the end product; that’s what I’m really interested in. It’s strictly a medium to use or not use, and I use it only when I have to. I use it to do a job, which is to make a book.

Artist/photographer Roni Horn, and who could not be more different in practice that Ruscha, says something very much like that about her use of photography: “I have never thought of myself as a photographer. … For me the book form and its means of address are what I’m working with. The photographs play a supporting role.”

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 7, 2014

Within His Autocratic Rule

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:49 am

… “What right have you to tell me what to do?”

This is from the chapter ‘Josef von Sternberg’s The Devil Is a Woman‘ in Narration in Light: Studies in Cinematic Point of View by George M. Wilson (1986):

… according to von Sternberg, people tend to be actors and actresses almost all of the time. Whether consciously or unconsciously, they are constantly putting on masks for the inspection of others and dissimulating motives and beliefs that are not theirs at all. What makes these proposals puzzling in von Sternberg’s mouth is their apparent incompatibility with his artistic aims. He patently has the ambition of employing the cinema to penetrate to truths, however tentatively endorsed, about the essential interior. But, in doing so, he necessarily makes use of what are for him the opaque, superficial, and distorting exteriors of the human specimens he directs.

… the cinematic work is … a construct determined by the director’s guiding actions. Or so it is, according to von Sternberg, when his recalcitrant human materials, the cast members, abide within his autocratic rule.

… It is characteristic of the film that the sheer horror of the situation elicits a series of wild puns. “Lie once more, you lie so well!” [Don Pasqual] shouts at the lately recumbent Concha. Standing in fetching disarray before the entrance to her bedroom, she postures her way outrageously through a tantrum of histrionic anger and strikes back verbally. “What do you mean by bursting in here like an assassin,” she cries, “and causing this utterly ridiculous scene?” Given Don Pasqual as Sternbergian surrogate, and given what is presented, with heavy emphasis, as “an utterly ridiculous scene,” one hears this as a protest against an egregious directorial intrusion into what, after all, ought to be a paradigmatically private scene. The dialogue continues in this metacinematic vein. Don Pasqual responds with the words, “You’ve gone too far! You’re not going to play with me anymore.” (This, by the way, is a thought that von Sternberg had, at the time, several good reasons for believing.) In reply, both Concha and Dietrich, protesting in her own right, seem to speak in questioning the relevant authority, “What right have you to tell me what to do?” The query is well posed. For, really, who is this morbid intruder upon the set?

Devil_is_Woman

The Devil is a Woman may be the film discussed in this book which best demonstrates the need for careful discriminations among the possibilities of cinematic point of view. It is nearly impossible to say anything enlightening about the general conception that informs its elliptical and apparently illogical plot, its incredible acting, and its sensuous but “campy” visual style unless one attends sensitively to the question of narrational perspective.

… The whole of the film, shot by shot, can be viewed as the extended expression of a psychic drama that has putatively been played out in the mind or soul of its creator, von Sternberg himself. The work’s repeated assertion of its status as a filmic artifact is, by implication, an assertion of the all-encompassing presence of the maker within his product. This is not, of course, a matter of a directly visible presence, but one that surrounds each scene and shapes it to his private fancy. If we wished to extend the meaning of the phrase, we could say that the narration of The Devil Is a Woman involves reflected subjectivity of two kinds. It reflects the subjectivity of some of its characters, but, in a different and more fundamental way, it reflects through and through the obliquely depicted subjectivity of its director.

Finally, these formulations are complicated once again by the director’s introduction of a central character who is to stand as his embodiment inside the fiction. This means, among other things, that the director has symbolically delegated some of his power over the course of the narrative to a designated member of the secondary world. As a consequence, Don Pasqual, who appears as a narrator whose activity of narration elicits a large segment of the film’s imagery, is to be seen, somewhat mysteriously, as a figure who also can control strands in the primary narration of the whole film.

… The filmmaker hs discovered a way of creating a personage who appears as his representative, who, at crucial junctures, can intervene for him in the plot, and who, at one remove, provides him with a voice. This solution is as special as it is ingenious. It depends upon strategies that can operate only in a film, such as this one, whose narration is substantially distanced from common-sense assumptions about experience and exemplifies the thoroughgoing self-consciousness noted above.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 6, 2014

Private Symbolism

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:37 am

… What kind of contribution does private symbolism make to the formation or modification of public symbols?

This is from Symbols: Public and Private by Raymond Firth (1973):

… Edmund Leach in characteristically brisk manner has characterized the aim of public symbolism as being communication, and of private symbolism as expression; the former he regards as a subject for anthropological study, the latter for psychological study.

… granted precautions to be taken in the study of mental functioning, what is the relevance for anthropologists of what can be initially described as private symbols?

… private symbolism is regarded as relatively free-floating, even at times a kind of dwarfed or under-developed intellectual activity, less significant than a reasoned examination of the personal meanings of religious ideas. But from the other side, sociological and anthropological approaches to religion have tended to subsume private symbolism under public symbolism, and to give public symbolism a significant, respectable place in social action.

… the serious problem for social anthropologists is not so much to demonstrate how one arrives at a general statement of any piece of public symbolism, as to work out how public and private symbolisms impact upon each other. How far do public symbols really condition the forms of private symbolization? What kind of contribution does private symbolism make to the formation or modification of public symbols? In what way, if at all, does private symbolism have an effect in social action? How far does the existence of clusters of private symbols, if known or suspected, disturb the community when they do not seem capable of public utilization but imply social action with which the community may have to deal?

… A very pertinent field for the study of inter-relation of private and public symbolization is art. Creativity in an artist is the display of a personal vision, in which symbolization may play an important, perhaps vital part. The symbols must be personal, individual, unique, stamped with the artist’s own imaginative power, if he is to generate positive reaction in other people. (As modern examples Paul Klee or Pablo Picasso clearly qualify.) Yet if the symbolism remains purely private, unrecognized, the stimulus of the creative act is lost to the community.

… A symbolic form which is completely obvious may be banal. But a symbolic form which has meaning which stays completely locked up in the artist’s private world is not an object of art in any socially significant sense.

… [In modern society] we have the spectacle of artists often operating a private symbolism and striving for its public recognition, but becoming frustrated and angry at the failure of the community to understand what they are trying to convey.

My most recent previous post from Firth’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 5, 2014

A Small Artist

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:46 am

… Picasso tempts one to inflate and distend himself and deny weaknesses, Klee invites one to tell all — work your brushpoint idly over the surface, let it be a seismograph that answers every tremor in yourself: invent, invent.

This is from ‘Review of an Exhibition of Victor Brauner’ (1947) found in Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism, Vol. 2, edited by John O’Brian (1986):

The influence of Paul Klee has had, in the past ten years or so, a more immediately rewarding effect upon contemporary painting than that of Matisse, Picasso, or Miró, who are all greater than he.

Brauner, coming after Dubuffet, Mark Tobey, and Morris Graves, raises more sharply than ever the question why Klee’s influence should be so much more immediately fructifying than Picasso’s, whose influence has certainly been greater in extent and more pervasive. Here is a former third-rater [Brauner] who now, suddenly, is well on the way to becoming accepted as an important petit maître under Klee’s tutelage, and there are five or six others like him abroad in the world; whereas of those who follow Picasso closely, hardly one — not Graham Sutherland in England or Pignon and the other epigones in France — has been able to realize himself half so satisfactorily.

The explanation is both obvious and complex. Picasso’s influence carries with it the flavor of a potent personality, and the style he formed for himself, in the later even more than in the earlier stages of cubism, is designed to accommodate that personality. Artists taking his style as a point of departure find it difficult to disembarrass themselves of Picasso’s personality, difficult to push it out of the way and fill in with their own. Even Picasso himself has since 1925 been largely unable to supply the power and fulness his original style requires and must resort to inflation. Painters with talents self-assured and imperious enough to shape these mighty means to their own ends are in any case very rare. (If Jackson Pollock has been able to profit by Picasso, it is because he has diluted him with Miró and Kandinsky.)

Klee_red-balloon-1922
Paul Klee, Red Balloon, 1922 [image from WikiArt]

Klee, on the other hand, is a small artist — genuine, enormously original, a master, but nevertheless diminutive, working within a restricted range, an interior decorator rather than an architect. His personality, however authentic and intense, does not oppress but rather frees the painter who comes under his influence. If the artist’s temperament is a modest one, as is usually the case in a period like ours that drives passionate people away from art, contact with Klee encourages him to release it in sincerity rather than suppress it in imitation. Seeing how much Klee made of relatively little, the aspirant is moved to confess how little he himself has and to make the most of that little. While Picasso tempts one to inflate and distend himself and deny weaknesses, Klee invites one to tell all — work your brushpoint idly over the surface, let it be a seismograph that answers every tremor in yourself: invent, invent.

Picasso asks you to construct rather than invent, to survey the terrain of your emotion more consciously and build upon it the largest and most substantial edifice possible — not, like Klee, to send up demountable tracery and momentary mists of color. This does not mean that Picasso is more “intellectual” or deliberate than Klee; he works, in fact, faster than Klee did, and with less meditation. It is simply that he sees the picture as a wall where Klee sees it as a page, and when one paints a wall one has to have a more comprehensive awareness of the surroundings and a more immediate sense of architectural discipline — though Klee’s sense in that respect, if slighter in scale, should not be discounted.

… Yet the doubt persists whether Klee’s art, as compared with the still unexploited potentialities of the cubist heritage, has enough carrying power to support a school of major importance. I myself would say that even the earlier abstract painting of Kandinsky provides a firmer point d’appui. So far none of the products of the Klee school has been able to do more than make an original initial statement of his personality and then stop short, with nowhere else to go.

Klee_twittering-machine-1922
Paul Klee, Twittering Machine, 1922 [image from WikiArt]

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 4, 2014

User Friendly

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:43 am

Continuing through Defining Moments in Art: Over a Century of the Artists, Exhibitions, People, Artworks, and Events that Rocked the World, general editor Mike Evans. The book features items sequentially, starting in 1863 and ending in 2008. I am selecting items from back-to-front (starting in 2007) because I enjoy going from recent to distant more than the reverse:

Key Artist Mark Wallinger Ecce Homo, Trafalgar Square; Date 1999; Why It’s Key Conceptual artist whose work maintains a compelling moral commentary on contemporary beliefs, and who won the Turner Price in 2007

… The sanded resin sculpture [of Ecce Homo] depicting a life-sized Christ-like figure was set up on an existing plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square in 1999-2000, dwarfed by its surroundings, it appeared vulnerable before the city crowds. The work simultaneously addressed the nature of belief and the tradition of public commemorative statues.

Wallinger_ecceHomo
Ecce Homo

Key Artwork My Bed by Tracey Emin; Date 1998; Why It’s Key In 1999 it was exhibited at Tate Britain where Emin had been short-listed for The Turner Prize. It provoked widespread criticism and debate in the media.

… Emin describes My Bed as having taken “a lifetime to make.”

Emin_MyBed
My Bed

Key Artwork The Hot One Hundred by Peter Davies; Date 1997; Why It’s Key Important Conceptualist whose use of language and color achieves a “user friendly” accessibility to his work

… Next to some names are often titles of the artists’ works or scathingly funny descriptive sentences.With his squiggly scrawl and use of cheerful basic colors, these works usually resemble props for a grade-school kid’s classroom presentation. But their benign appearance does not undermine the intelligent nastiness in his satire of the art-world’s cliquey market-driven mentality.

peter_davies_hot_hundred
The Hot One Hundred

Key Artwork Cinderella (Fay’s Fairy Tales) by William Wegman; Date 1994; Why It’s Key Cinderella, the first of Wegman’s picture books featuring photographs of his expressive Weimaraner dogs playing the various roles in the fairytale, became extremely popular with both children and adults.

Wegman_bride

… Wegman has rewritten Perrault’s classic fairy tale adding his own surreal humor to the narrative.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

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