Tag Archives: aesthetics

Formal Principle

I’ve been trying to work out exactly what kind of order Stella is aiming for, looking at the prints and late paintings. I think that to avoid an ordering principle is probably, for Stella, a kind of abstraction. The topic … 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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Literary Modernism

I’ve always been drawn to artists who write their own books and illustrate them—or maybe they are actually writers who also draw. Two obvious ones who come to mind are Mervyn Peake and Bruno Schulz, and I like them both. … 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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Black Rain

Thinking about Kandinsky’s disregard for any tight or comprehensive order, I realize that I don’t quite agree. I want an organic kind of closure, if you could call it that. Poussin after nature, as Cézanne described it. Geometry loose, but … Continue reading

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Aesthetically Pleasing

The previous two posts on Kandinsky might draw the objection that his works do have an order, namely beauty or the indefinable feeling of aesthetic quality. That’s a hard point to argue with, but it doesn’t feel like that to … Continue reading

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The Liteness of Kandinsky

I’ve always had problems with Kandinsky. One is his scaleless space, but more about that another time. Another, which I’ve only just began to clarify for myself, is the arbitrariness of his arrangements. There’s no reason why they have to … Continue reading

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The Basics

John Berger could be a stupidly moralistic critic, but he was perceptive. He notoriously rejected Pollock as a decadent of the age of individualism, meaning he didn’t really understand Pollock at all, but then listen to this: “Imagine a man … 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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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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Chaos Shimmering Through

In an old copy of the NYRB I just found an article about Alfred Brendel, who quotes the poet Novalis: “Chaos, in a work of art, should shimmer through the veil of order.” So now I can see where Ehrenzweig … 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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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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Impossible

A recent short piece by Barry Schwabsky on Ad Reinhardt struck an obscure chord in me. Obscure because so far it’s private. He suggests that Reinhardt’s most cherished ideals and his greatest ambition for art are unrealizable, and he knew … Continue reading

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Wilhelm Worringer

Recently I put up a post on Wilhelm Worringer’s classic book, Abstraction and Empathy. It worked off an earlier post about Michel Serres, but I didn’t give it much importance; it was something of a placeholder. But as Mr. Waller … Continue reading

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Professionalism as Ending

I know that the previous post ended on an apparent contradiction. Rothko’s mature and characteristic  work certainly looks strong in comparison to what preceded it—simplified, clarified, professionalized and rationalized, but it’s no longer an origin, more a conclusion. The way … Continue reading

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Technology and Civilization

For a couple of centuries now the rhetoric of technical innovation has been pretty consistent. Apparently technology has revolutionized all of life and transformed evolution itself. The first question is whether any single local improvement in the way we do … Continue reading

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Animals All

Following on from the preceding post, here’s another few words from Adorno that fit well, this time from his unfinished book on Beethoven: “What I find so suspect in Kantian ethics is the ‘dignity’ which they attribute to man in … Continue reading

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A Political Idea

According to Eckermann: “Goethe added that the idea of the whole, which turned upon aristocracy and democracy, was by no means of universal interest.” I think it significant that questions such as the relation of part and whole, which are … Continue reading

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Unity

Unity or wholeness in art will always appear as the conservative choice. Take the politics out of it and it’s still bad because in my experience at least, reinforced every day in the studio, it is much much harder to … Continue reading

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Secrets of the Studio

As an exponent of organicism, and of the artwork that produces itself, I naturally find these words of Adorno very interesting: “…you will find that great tonal music actually bears some resemblance to a puzzle. The movements of the greatest … Continue reading

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New Music

Following from the previous post, to quote critics and philosophers, which I occasionally do on this blog, has some use, namely to confirm the best part of oneself. In this it’s similar to the young artist’s imitation of work that … Continue reading

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A Change Has Occurred

I find Ehrenzweig full of insights that, for me at least, confirm experience. But he also has his own experiences to offer, sometimes startling. Here is one: “I can still clearly remember when half a century ago I got to … Continue reading

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How Long Has This Been Going On?

The words of the song come to mind as I get swept up in Anton Ehrenzweig’s brilliant book. Apparently it’s quite popular, so I guess that means everyone knows these things, and I’m the only one out of the secret. … Continue reading

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Anton Ehrenzweig

I’m just reading Anton Ehrenzweig‘s The Hidden Order of Art, though I’m ashamed to admit that it took so long to get to it. Years ago I was a close student of Robert Smithson, and this was his main reference. … Continue reading

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What We Are

Jennifer McMackon drew my attention to a conversation with Bob Hullot-Kentor in the Brooklyn Rail, from which I take this quote: “…in the Christian view, which includes Hegel’s triune concept, the highest becomes the lowest so that the lowest can … Continue reading

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Order inside and out

I keep thinking about a quote from Emerson that I’ve used elsewhere on the blog: “I would write on the lintels of the doorpost, Whim. I hope it is somewhat better than whim at last, but we cannot spend the … Continue reading

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Abstraction is so over

Bruce Hainley is a critic I have a lot of time for. Oddly, many of my friends don’t understand why. I get where he is coming from, and it’s the right place. If I was in a down mood his … Continue reading

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