Category Archives: Abstraction and Society

The Wait

Waiting. Waiting for a pot to boil, for the daylight to change, for the rain to fall, for a flower to bloom—some processes take time, and so waiting is a natural and unavoidable state. For an art that aims to … Continue reading

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Interpretation in Time

My post on destruction got an interesting response on Facebook from reader Nicole Rigets. She says: “Old books contain new ways of seeing and thinking. In my opinion all books contain secret knowledge (even novels).” This is really fascinating. Of … Continue reading

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Normalized

I’m aware of how hokey the previous post became toward the end—the list of artist destroyers is pop art history, and not very good pop art history at that. However, those pairs—Malevich/Mondrian, Pollock/Rothko and Stella/Richter—are in an important sense my … Continue reading

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People or Things

I get very caught up in the news about iconoclasm and the destruction of culture. In one article, by the art critic of the Guardian, the stale claim that human life is worth more than culture is emphatically made. He … Continue reading

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The Fog of Art

I like a recent article by Hito Steyerl, especially this line: “Art is encryption as such, regardless of the existence of a message with a multitude of conflicting and often useless keys.” This is a little dose of aesthetics; abstraction … Continue reading

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Objectivity of Art

Recently a journalist has outed the legal identity of Italian author Elena Ferrante. There have been many critical responses to this piece of detective work. People are not happy. This is what Ferrante has to say about why she doesn’t … Continue reading

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Once upon the Cephalopodocene

Just to go back to the article by Donna Haraway mentioned in the previous post—it’s pretty good in the way she describes the incredible complexity of the biosphere as a whole, single system. When we look at it like that … Continue reading

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Art and Nature Today

The trouble with ideas is that everyone has them at the same time. That’s why art is better—the concrete particular is one thing, in one place at one time. One of my favorite chapters in the book is on art … Continue reading

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Criticism versus Publicity

Alfredo Triff is an interesting guy who lives in Miami, teaches at a local college and writes about art on his blog miami bourbaki. I don’t know exactly what he teaches—somewhere in the realm of philosophy/history/political economy—but I like his … Continue reading

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Globalism and Provinciality

Over the next few weeks I’m going to post images from my book. Here’s one of my favourite comparisons, aboriginal artist Doug Cranmer and the well known Parisian modernist Bram van Velde. Though van Velde had a great interest in … Continue reading

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Further Losses

Lately I’ve been preoccupied with loss, including the loss of artworks. Every work is the product of one moment, and as such it lives in the here and now. But since an artwork is also a thing it can be … Continue reading

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Loss

What one strong man could once do, now is done by two or three weaker men or one weaker man and a machine. More generally, what could once be accomplished by one individual with energy and some executive skills now … Continue reading

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Old Age

One of the most pleasantly surprising phenomena of the last year is the spontaneous and unqualified enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders among the young. Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn are living proof that age doesn’t really count for much. But then that’s … Continue reading

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Life and Art

I’m only a little way into this second blog campaign and already beginning to get tired of myself. And no doubt readers will be tired of hearing about Motherwell or Klee. Maybe I’m just an old fogey out of touch … Continue reading

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Artist of Conflict, Artist of Repression

In our time the great artist of conflict is Frank Stella. His over busy and crowded compositions are nothing other than a battle of forms—and to say that doesn’t mean they are not also a dance of forms and a … Continue reading

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So Goes the Battle

Life is all conflict, like it or not. Gone are the days when we had to face the world, now it’s always other people who give trouble. With the previous sentence readers may notice how my own need for sovereignty, … Continue reading

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New Beginning

The blog is starting up again, and it’s gratifying to know that readers I had before are happy to see it come back. The occasion is the imminent publication of my book, my first book. Artists don’t have to write … Continue reading

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Last Post, For Now

With three and a half years of this blog, I thought the new year might be a good time to take a rest. After hitting a high of 9500 unique visitors in one month, the readership has wobbled up and … Continue reading

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Mythological Images

Following on with Brigid Brophy’s thoughts about Tiepolo, I’m particularly struck by her implicit linking of eighteenth century rationalism with the “critical” sensibility of the present. In the last sentence of the quote in the earlier post she talks about … Continue reading

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Brophy on Tiepolo

This time a slightly longish quote from Brigid Brophy, but she reaches me by appreciating Tiepolo, something not so common in the sixties, or even now: “The religious tradition in which painting grew up was always indulging in religion’s habit … Continue reading

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Brian Nation

This is from the blog of my old friend Brian Nation, a truly gifted writer—although he’s not a famous writer because, as he said at one point, he found it more enjoyable to act at being a writer than to … Continue reading

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Conventional Discourse

I was probably inspired to start talking about authority as a principle active in art by Harold Bloom, who has a lot to say on the topic, usually with reference to the Freudian transference. It just occurred to me that … Continue reading

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Brigid Brophy

Inveterate reader Jacob Wren turned me on to Brigid Brophy‘s book about myth and social psychosis, Black Ship to Hell. I agree with what she says, and mostly with how she says it, but despite the attractive title I don’t … Continue reading

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Authority Again

Thinking more about authority—I’ll bet that many, including artists, maybe especially artists, think it means ordering people about. It may well be that in daily life, but in art it’s more to do with a kind of truth, a truth … Continue reading

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Power and Authority

I think that power and authority have to be sharply distinguished. Power is what individuals seek to compensate for whatever lack they feel. Or just for the sheer pleasure of controlling someone else, if that’s what gives them pleasure. Authority … Continue reading

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No Creativity

Just been reading an interesting article in The Slate. It just says in very plain language what I’ve felt for a long time, namely that the rhetoric of creativity in business is merely rhetoric. Here’s one quote: “This is the … Continue reading

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Servant Class

Jasper Johns famously said that “artists are the elite of the servant class.” Then what price subjectivity? The price varies, as does the value, and value and price are not necessarily related.

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Novelty at a Pace

To go back to the thought experiment I presented in an earlier post; when stone age man (or woman) had fire and a wheel, in principle they had the automobile, although they couldn’t make one. To get the automobile was … Continue reading

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Procrastination

I found a thoughtful but also very amusing article in the NYT, by Anna Della Subin. The topic is procrastination, and she begins with the story of St. Expeditus: According to legend, when the Roman centurion [Expeditus] decided to convert … Continue reading

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Detour

One of my favorite jazz standards is “Detour Ahead”, though I’ve only heard it in one version, and maybe not the best possible one. Was listening to it tonight. Smooth road, clear day But why am I the only one … Continue reading

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