Category Archives: Uncategorized

Possibly Annoying Details

Straight lines that form geometric shapes always imply some kind of consistent order. It might have something to do with buildings, because walls that don’t meet at ninety degrees, or don’t quite meet at all, seem awkward, even though there … 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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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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Table Pieces

Anthony Caro’s Table Pieces are really great, and as far as I can see they are all great, and there are literally hundreds.

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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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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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The Deep

This late Pollock has come in for some critical contempt over the years, not least because the title seems to confer on it a Melvillean sort of portentiousness, but without Melville’s humor. It has to be Melville because it has … Continue reading

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John Bunker

Some collages by the British artist John Bunker are very good. I can’t help but think of Stella, as usual, but this piece is pretty compelling, and stands any comparison.

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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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Images Without Words

While in Vancouver for my recent show I took in Peter Culley’s excellent show at the Charles Scott Gallery. A giant montage of small to medium ink jet prints wrapped around three walls, thankfully without any explanatory wall text or … 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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Planar Spaces

From Susskind’s book comes another important formulation, also mentioned in my articles of a few years ago, now revisited: “The maximum amount of information that can be stuffed into a region of space is equal to the area of the … Continue reading

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Planar Construction

William Tucker’s book contains the following very apposite remarks on cubist construction:“Painting gives way to physical making, and survives only to key or differentiate existing parts. The picture surface has been replaced by the frontal planes of real volumes, although … 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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A Man of Sensibility and Taste

The fact is, there is no avoiding Mr. Simchowitz, however much I disagree with his choices. He knows how to talk. This is what he says about Oscar Murillo: “…with Oscar, there is no collusion—his collectors are an evenly distributed … Continue reading

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Illustration and Abstraction

I’ve been enjoying the work of the great British illustrator Brian Wildsmith. He started in the early sixties and it’s not hard to see some influence from Alan Davie, as well as from those perennial undergraduate favorites Klimt and Hundertwasser. Arbitrary … Continue reading

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Parts and Wholes Again (As Always)

I’m going to include an unusually long quotation in this post, from scientist and philosopher Abner Shimony.“…collective behavior in macro physical systems and in biological cells can often be explained in great detail in terms of the properties and interactions … Continue reading

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Chin P’ing Mei

Chin P’ing Mei is an incredibly rich and detailed account of all the details of life in historical China, from food to clothes to architecture, and all the goings on between people, the ways they fill the passing time. It … Continue reading

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A Book of Drawings

Eli Bornowsky sent me a small book of drawings, and I find them very interesting and even inspiring. When some lines cross others with apparently no regard for the configurations already in place, then we have the impression of simultaneous … Continue reading

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A Show of Abstractions

The arbitrariness of abstract form is a permanent condition, and artists can be judged as to how they work with that fact. For myself, I’m on the side of invention, which means I like the way that forms can come … Continue reading

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A Journey by Train

Sonia Delaunay’s collaboration with Blaise Cendrars, La Prose du Transsiberien, featured in a number of recent catalogs, including Inventing Abstraction, is pretty interesting. I love the shapes, and of course I love the idea of an abstract book. This one is … Continue reading

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The Sameness of Abstraction

Recently I came across a review of the Nada art fair in The Art Newspaper, which amounted to the observation that abstract painting was everywhere and that it all looked the same. Actually the reviewer was warning that it will … Continue reading

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Gouk on Steel

To all my blog readers I would like to recommend the two articles by Alan Gouk on sculpture in steel recently featured on abstract critical—especially the first one, though part 2 has its interest. Thanks to Gouk I have discovered … Continue reading

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A Muddy Spring

Among the Picabias mentioned in an earlier post is one called The Spring, so presumably lacking the dancing figures. The writer in the Inventing Abstraction catalog observes that this spring looks pretty muddy, that the colors of the picture might … Continue reading

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Had Gadya Again

Just for the pleasure of it I want to make another Stella print/study comparison. The Had Gadya works reward the effort. From the first resolved version of this piece to the final, the scribbly bits are quite changed. The scribbles … Continue reading

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Wood Nymphs

Leger’s work is very odd. This piece, a kind of a breakthrough for him, is really bizarre. While contemplating the craziness of this work, I find in the MOMA Invention of Abstraction catalog two large cubist Picabias I had never heard … Continue reading

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An Artist’s Life 2

The religion of work and work as religion are slightly different things. The first is a substitute for any number of things, the second is the model of a successful life for a modern person. In this case “religion” is … Continue reading

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