Category Archives: Ethics of Abstraction

Return

The world it turns, and will continue to do so.

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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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So Much

So many blades of grass, so many twigs or branches on so many trees, so many insects, and above all, so many bacteria. As I don’t cease to mention on this blog, the number of details in the world is … Continue reading

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Time and Motion

British artist Tom Phillips, cited on this blog before, wrote a very interesting review of the Matisse cut-out show. He mentions a film of the artist at work which shows “…Matisse in his wheelchair cutting paper with scissors….Matisse often associated … 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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The View from Inside

In an old issue of the NYRB I find the following from Vladimir Ashkenazy, on his fellow pianist Sviatoslav Richter: “The strongest element in his magnetic appeal to audiences is his conviction that what he does is absolutely right at … 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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Obstacles and Tests

Talking with my friend Chris Gergley about the art world and the obstacles we all face in our careers, it came to me that I have been too one-sided in my stress on objectivity. Yes, art is objective, and yes … Continue reading

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The Other

In Cologne Gerhard Richter is a common presence, as one might expect. In the conference center I saw a couple of pictures by another artist that at first I mistook for Richter. Are they as good? Debatable point, but the … Continue reading

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Richter’s Church Art

I went to see Richter’s window in the cathedral of Cologne, and my first impression was that it blended in well with the other windows, which may be a good thing for the church, but doesn’t necessarily help the reputation … Continue reading

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Marlene Dumas

At the Stedelijk, I had a brief chance to see a Marlene Dumas retrospective. Since she lives in Amsterdam it must have been a satisfying show for her. I was expecting to admire her faces, and a wall of ink … Continue reading

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Sculpture Figurative and Abstract

Lane Relyea has an original perspective on the work of sculptors such as Rachel Harrison and Isa Genzken: “What we are looking at here, after all, is figurative sculpture…who or what exactly is it representing?” He answers: “…in the new … 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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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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Failure

A recent article in the NYT by Stephen Marche makes the case for failure, although he’s talking about writers not artists. He mentions how business, particularly the Silicon Valley variety, has taken up Samuel Beckett’s phrase “fail better,” but with … 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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Matter of Fact

Continuing with one of my favorite topics—the erotics of art, especially abstraction, or one might call it art as sex and sex as art. If art is fundamentally erotic then to make art out of sex is redundant, but for … Continue reading

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Uncritical and Affirmative

Barry Schwabsky has a surprisingly hard hitting piece in The Nation on the Koons retrospective, the more so as he affirms the general feeling, held by many artists for sure, myself included, that Koons is a significant figure. It’s hard … 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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By their taste you will know them

By chance Picasso bumps into Robert Delaunay, and he gives the password—“Cézanne.” Delaunay responds and now they are on the same wavelength, co-conspirators of art. But then Picasso offers the secret handshake—“the late bathers”—and Delaunay doesn’t get it. He prefers … Continue reading

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Appearance and Desire

Nineteenth century artists like Cézanne and Degas believed that if they channeled sexual energy into their work they would get better results. Matisse had the same view. Models should be attractive, but the feelings they aroused had to be transformed … Continue reading

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Caminero and Ai

The tale of the broken vase has come to an end, and in an August 14th. article in the NYT we can read “Mr. Caminero’s lawyer…said: ‘My client has learned what is appropriate behavior for an artist to participate in.’” … Continue reading

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Isolation

From William Tucker’s great book I learn that by the age of seventeen Rodin had been rejected three times by the Beaux-Arts. He spent twenty years earning a living as a technician/assistant working for academic sculptors, while developing his ideas … Continue reading

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