Author Archives: Robert Linsley

Bigger and Better

In some quarters one hears the claim that bigger means more serious or more ambitious. Not necessarily, because bigger doesn’t necessarily mean more. It’s one way to get attention in the world, and maybe does indicate a desire to get … Continue reading

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Wooster’s Version

I hope my readers will excuse this long quote from one of the Jeeves and Wooster books: The effect the apparition had on me was to make me start violently, and we all know what happens when you start violently … Continue reading

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Simplicity and Strangeness

Personally, I don’t find much value in thought. I had some experience of it when I was young, but for most of my life I’ve been more concerned with something else that I’m not sure how to name. There are … Continue reading

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Jonathan Lasker

Back in the day (can’t remember how long ago) Jonathan Lasker’s paintings seemed inevitable. Maybe not so now. But they had a beautiful objectivity, with their squirming lines that looked like they came out of cake decorator’s tool. Looking back … Continue reading

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Color and Mark

I used to think that Stella’s Exotic Birds were not his best works. I could appreciate them as a necessary breakthrough, but bad works nevertheless. I never liked the template approach, that the forms were ready-made and just decorated with … Continue reading

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Somehow Both

Further to the Marisa Merz work in the previous post, and to the discussion about story telling in abstraction—we are familiar with the common object decontextualized to the degree that it becomes “abstract,” and also with the evocative shape or form … Continue reading

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Forms of Realism

The best part of Facebook, in fact the only good part, is some of the people one can meet. Recently I connected with a young writer called Joobin Bekhrad, of Iranian extraction but living in Toronto, who loves to post … Continue reading

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Once Again New

It’s been pointed out, most cogently by Nietzsche, that what stirs us most in what we read is what we already know. He means philosophy or any kind of wisdom writing, not political screeds on the internet. But we still … Continue reading

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The Artwork in Our Time

Miklos Legrady, an artist in Toronto who has a penchant for polemic, has just published on e-flux conversations what he thinks of as a rebuttal to Benjamin’s famous artwork essay. It takes the form of a close reading with commentary. … Continue reading

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Realist Masquerade

When the post about Ian Wallace’s Poverty went up on Facebook, there were comments from Ydessa Hendeles. She is a very interesting artist and has been an important figure in Toronto for many years. She remembers when the Poverty series … Continue reading

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Abstraction from Life

This blog is about abstract art, and I think it offers some interesting and novel ideas. It also has some unconventional ideas, and makes no apology for that. The recent post on Ian Wallace’s work is, for me, a bit … Continue reading

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An Opportunity, or A Christmas Message

Stella teaches something every artist should know, or does know but normally forgets—that art is not a problem, it’s an opportunity, an invitation, a promise. What it is for society I have no idea, but that’s what it is for … Continue reading

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Aristocrat of the Spirit

You have to know that you are right. But if no one else agrees then you’re a poor sap anyway. Indifference to shame helps. The shame of poverty, for example. Baudelaire turned poverty into “poverty.” Shamelessness fosters conviction.

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Wallace’s Poverty

Ian Wallace’s Poverty is a fiction. Can someone who is really poor take an interest in that? You’d have to be indifferent to wealth to begin with to appreciate both rich and poor as roles, to take them as art. For … Continue reading

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Arbitrary Beginnings, Well Known Ends

Further on in the Richter film, starting at 54 minutes, there’s a conversation between the artist and Benjamin Buchloh. They hit on all the points I make in the book, and the conclusion is as I described it. Richter knows … Continue reading

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Decisions, Maybe Bad Ones

This video of Gerhard Richter in his studio shows him painting a couple of largish abstracts, with three big pots of paint—yellow, red and blue—and a wide brush. The sequence in question is from 12-23 minutes. It’s a pleasure to … Continue reading

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Illusions of Identity

A couple of months ago I read about the American writer Lionel Shriver and the scandal she caused at a writer’s festival in Brisbane. At the time I was sympathetic but passed on. Recently a follow up article showed that the whole … Continue reading

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Colour in Sculpture

Stella’s Town-Ho’s Story is made of cast and poured aluminum, steel, and some ready-made bits and pieces. It’s not all scrap, in fact mostly fabricated. However, the colour of the piece leans heavily on the untreated color of the different … Continue reading

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Stories in Stories

Stella’s large sculpture, The Town-Ho’s Story, is, among other things, a collection of smaller pieces. I’ve mentioned this before, but as I suggested in the previous post, parts of the main body of the work could also be seen separately, … Continue reading

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A Story

In Moby-Dick the chapter is called “The Town-Ho’s Story,” and the story is of an encounter with the white whale. In Stella’s piece the ship is heeling over, and from the side it looks like it’s taken a hit. Jammed … Continue reading

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A Heap of Scrap Metal

On a train passing a scrap yard the piles of twisted shiny metal pieces remind me of Stella’s sculpture in Chicago. You might call the pile a piece of abstract art, in the “all over” mode, but Stella’s work is … Continue reading

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The Day Is Long

More from the mind of Bertie Wooster: “If there’s one thing I like it’s a quiet life. I’m not one of those fellows who get all restless and depressed if things aren’t happening to them all the time. You can’t … Continue reading

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Abstraction in Iran

My facebook friend from Vancouver, Mohammad Salemy, has written a piece about the modernist art collection in Tehran. It’s worth a read. The collection is very rich, but right now I’m interested in the abstraction. Stella spent time there in … Continue reading

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Shame

I’ve been thinking a lot about Anton Ehrenzweig’s idea that artists are shameless, that art is a kind of self exposure that demonstrates a courageous defiance of social norms—of guilt in fact. I’ve discussed it before on this blog. But … Continue reading

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Wooster and the Reality Principle

Wodehouse’s books are light, and lightness is one of the qualities I esteem in any art. But they are not any less concerned with reality as it is lived. Here is Bertie Wooster’s favourite aunt, regaling him with some affectionate … Continue reading

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The Mystery of Jeeves

The genius of P.G.Wodehouse has been well recognized. And so it should be. His books are so funny and give so much pleasure that they make life more bearable. But he was also a very intelligent and sophisticated artist, the … Continue reading

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Invention and Labour

I read recently about Alfons Mucha’s Slav Epic, an allegorical/historical cycle of gigantic paintings, some actually as much as 20 feet high. I’d like to see them, but even before doing so I’m getting tired. Too much work! Mucha is … Continue reading

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This World or Another

At the time of writing, a couple of weeks before publication, the Trump election is everyone’s topic of discussion, and the content of that discussion can get pretty intense—intensely apocalyptic in some cases. I’ve been putting in my own opinion … Continue reading

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Music in the Studio

A lot of artists like to play music while they work. I think it’s a dangerous thing to do. The problem is that the feelings of the music possess you and then you start to believe that your own work … Continue reading

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Another Kind of Artist

I find this woman‘s work fascinating. Over a period of many years Isabelle Mège persuaded prominent photographers to shoot her portrait. Now she is regarded as the artist. The feminist side of what she is doing is obvious and the … Continue reading

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