Category Archives: Current Affairs

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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A Critique

Recently an article by Laurie Fendrich was circulating on Facebook. It’s worth reading, but this is what I said about it: I like most of what she says, but object to this: “Painting contains its own roughly defined rules. The … 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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Politics and Art of the Abstract Type

It’s been an interesting nine months. Like many I’ve been completely captivated by Bernie. Never in my life have I felt like giving money to a politician, but can’t anyway since I’m not American. For that matter, I’ve never heard … 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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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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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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Kippenberger

The collection at the Stedelijk is pretty great, but l kept seeing sameness, unchanging qualities. Martin Kippenberger, for example, was a talented painter, in a completely normative way. His fooling around was fun to do and is fun to watch, … Continue reading

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Pictorial Energy

Looking at the work of Mr. Energy himself at the Wallraf-Richartz museum in Cologne—the striking thing about Rubens is that he covers so many square yards of canvas without losing intensity. The level is uniformly high. This is a bit … Continue reading

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Owens on Koons

After writing three and a half posts on Jeff Koons, I naturally took an interest in the comments by artists in the September 2014 Artforum, Koons on the cover. Laura Owens in particular was really good; devastating, but true to … Continue reading

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Lost Boundaries

One moment in Lane Relyea’s book that caught my attention was this: “The rise of networks might not mean the end of of all insides and outsides, but it does mean that, with boundaries and the exclusions they effect being … Continue reading

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Anxiety

A couple of months ago I visited a well known Toronto gallery (well known in Toronto), which had just moved to a new space. As it happened, the gallerist was alone when I arrived, and the whole encounter gave me … Continue reading

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Bureaucratic Fantasy

Here’s a moment of high comedy from Chin P’ing Mei, an account of Taoist ritual:“This lot consists of nine memorials…the one submitted at the time of the ninth recitation to the Ruler of the Most Exalted Crimson Empyrean, the Perfected … Continue reading

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Abstract East and West

My blog readers wouldn’t necessarily know it, but I have made a pretty close study of Chinese art, historical and modern, and even written about it. There is a chapter in my book on that topic in fact. My question … Continue reading

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Too Many Mediations

It’s very important to remember—as often as possible—that the current highly mediated context, in which artists learn their business and craft from books, schools, the internet, art magazines and any number of other mass outlets, is very new and very … Continue reading

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Enlightenment

Lately I’ve been enjoying Andrea Fraser’s writings, and I’m not sure that blog readers who follow me to Stella, Barré, Motherwell or Riley will also come along that way. The fact is that I am a believer in modern art … Continue reading

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No Meaning

How does one answer the charge of nihilism? Just observe that nature is nihilist. And that meaning is myth.

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Andrea Fraser

I remember in Artforum a few years ago a piece on institutional critique by Andrea Fraser, and also remember being underwhelmed. To me it seemed conventional, a reiteration of familiar insights, without the enlightening shock of work by Buren, Asher … Continue reading

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Networks

Lane Relyea describes the reconstitution of the art world around systems of communication, around networks, and he makes a strong case that the ruling paradigm today is information. The database and the project are the fundamental forms, and the idea … Continue reading

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A New Artworld

On holiday I brought two books, precisely because of the excruciating contrast between them. The criticism of Patrick Heron is on a very high level, of both insight and rhetorical skill. It’s inspiring, and what more could you ask? It … Continue reading

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All-overness

Greenberg had this to say about what he regarded as Pollock’s major achievement: “It wasn’t the space. I think the shallow illusion of depth had Cubist antecedents, and of course there was Miró’s indeterminate space. When Bryan Robertson writes about … Continue reading

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More Matter of Fact

Following on from the previous post, Andrea Fraser’s effort at desublimation is better yet. I think it transcends the obvious caption, “art as prostitution.” Again it’s totally objective, but it hits hard when we consider that it “really” happened. The … Continue reading

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Criticizing the Critics

One thing I like about Alfredo Triff’s blog miami bourbaki, is that though he is very critical of the contemporary art scene, he also criticizes its critics. No simple minded moralism, but a genuine interest in art, two traits that … Continue reading

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A Small Group

Speaking about coteries, a recent article in the NYT points out that there are world wide an estimated 200,000 or thereabouts of individuals with more than $30 million in assets, yet the total bidders at Christie’s spring 2014 auctions of … Continue reading

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Corporate Mind

A recent article about the “corporatization” of the arts strikes me as well-intentioned but naïve in a very precisely Canadian way. What has distinguished Canadian art for the last fifty years at least is a very pronounced bureaucratic mindset, that … Continue reading

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Outdoors

Human beings are just an ordinary part of the biosphere, and the biosphere is our limit. We will never be anything other than animals and all cosmic dreams are just that – dreams. Space flight is bound to fail because … Continue reading

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