Category Archives: Current Affairs

Kojève

Recently read a great article by Boris Groys on Kojève. Never read Kojève myself but I know that he taught Hegel to the surrealists, and I learned a lot about that from a very good book about surrealist objects by … Continue reading

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Outside the Border Fence

Following from the previous post, I think it helps a lot to travel, and not just to Miami or Basel. I talk about this in my book. But though you can take your body to different places, it’s hard to … Continue reading

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Art for the Age of Trump

Thinking about constructivist collage—in other words, art of a revolutionary period—makes one wonder what kind of art is right for today. Does my Collage #10 really measure up, or is to too much Kutesy-Klee and Kandinsky-Kute? Are the animal/organic and … Continue reading

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Collage at the Beginning

Years ago, in her book on abstraction, Briony Fer suggested that collage was at the origin of the practice. I didn’t know what importance to attach to that idea, but I liked it. Her examples were collages by the Russian … Continue reading

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Another Russian Philosopher

I’m always grateful to Boris Groys, who has opened so many horizons with his wit and penetration. He has also brought attention to lesser known Russian thinkers, and there are a lot of them worth looking into. One that attracted … 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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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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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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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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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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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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Modern Labor

Kafka has this to say about the entrepreneurial culture: “The animal wrests the whip from its master and whips itself in order to become master, not knowing that this is only a fantasy produced by a new knot in the … Continue reading

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A Polemic

Another chapter of my book looks at that universal favorite, Gerhard Richter. It may be the first genuine critique of an overrated artist, and the book is probably worth the price for that alone. It’s not original though; I take … Continue reading

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While Waiting

The topic of waiting is not to be confused with procrastination. From an art point of view the biggest problem is the need to be busy, because the true religion of the modern world, in every culture, is work. The … Continue reading

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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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A Literary Art

Back at the start of this blog, in 2011 I think it was, I wrote several posts on R.H.Quaytman. She’s still one of my favourite artists, and features prominently in my book. Another artist with a very creative relationship to … 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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Destruction

Further to the phenomenon of iconoclasm or demolition of cultural monuments—the first thing that comes to mind is that modern art has always been iconoclastic and in fact very destructive. I’m enraged to read about the burning of old Korans … 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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Arrived

Of course all arrivals are temporary, but this collage looks done. Had a bit of doubt as to how the increase in size (4×3′) would throw off the scale relation between the watercolor patches and the larger flat areas of … 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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