Tag Archives: autonomy

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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Brophy on Tiepolo

This time a slightly longish quote from Brigid Brophy, but she reaches me by appreciating Tiepolo, something not so common in the sixties, or even now: “The religious tradition in which painting grew up was always indulging in religion’s habit … 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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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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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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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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Philosophy of an Artist II

From a recent interview with Ai Weiwei comes the following:“My answer may sound like a cliché. I think you only live once. A life is like a fortune that is owned by every one of us. “Actually it’s not so … Continue reading

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Anthony Caro

Just heard the news about the death of Anthony Caro. Although he’s been less on the critical radar in recent years, he was truly a great artist. My feeling about his work was always that it was light, and clearly … Continue reading

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Morandi and Ai

I’ve just read a book by Guardian journalist Barnaby Martin about Ai Weiwei and his recent imprisonment. Ai has been mentioned on this blog before, and he is important for the position I’m trying to develop. He has to be … Continue reading

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Critical Experiment

Here’s an idea for an amusing artwork in the form of a sociological experiment. Take two groups of curators, and ensure that the members of each group have no opportunity to talk to members of the other group. Maybe this … Continue reading

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Syntax of Forms

All of the recent thinking about literature and abstraction—Groys, Benjamin, Kitaj, Klee —has helped to clear up some lingering questions in the watercolors. Sometimes images appear, and sometimes that’s good, but I wasn’t sure how to distinguish when it is … Continue reading

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Backstory Without End

Was just reading about the work of Paul Sietsema, and my thought was—this work has a lot of backstory. Of course there are different kinds of backstory.  Sietsema seems to stick pretty close to painting, and to the history of … Continue reading

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Shaped canvas 7

I’ve been looking at Tiepolo’s curved frames for a  long time, and wanting to use something like that myself, only with an asymmetrical arrangement of curves. I hesitated because I felt that the strong shape would inhibit the Islands. But … Continue reading

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Objects are not literature

It may be true that objects are not literature, but what we do with them is. The way we shape them turns them into words, maybe something like ideographs. The way we group them makes a syntax or a grammar. … Continue reading

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Without an object

The discursive mode is implicitly, and explicitly, critical of modernist art, especially if we think of modernist art as silent. Logically the opposite should also be the case, but it doesn’t work that way. It’s not just that the discursive … Continue reading

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No Aura

A critic should be judged by the quotient of pain he or she can inflict. Here again is Boris Groys: “For those who devote themselves to the production of art documentation rather than artworks, art is identical to life, because … Continue reading

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Titles long and exuberant

Through all the recent thoughts on this blog about backstory and titles, to my mind one approach really stands out as less problematic than any of the others, and that’s Terry Atkinson’s very long caption-titles. His titles contain in themselves … Continue reading

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Back to Titles

Before responding any further to David Court or Scott Lyall, I want to assess the progress of the discussion so far. This section of the blog started off with some questions about titles, and titles expanded into captions, and then … Continue reading

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Context as Backstory

As David Court pointed out in his recent comment, what used to be backstory has been turned inside out and become context, or analysis of context. At least that is the normative history of the turn from an emptied out … Continue reading

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Nerves

I’d like to keep thinking about backstory. It is a literary concept, especially relevant in short forms where time is compressed, such as drama and film. A character, Hamlet for example, had a life before the story begins, and his … Continue reading

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Names and titles

The whole topic of titling of abstract works is incredibly complex, untheorized and full of questions. In my opinion the worst approach is to free associate. There are practical reasons to identify a work, but the artist who just dreams … Continue reading

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Titles historical

Terry’s way with titles is basically the same as Motherwell’s, although seems very different. The fundamental difference is that Atkinson is more of a modernist, since no matter how specific their references his titles are always reflections on the role … Continue reading

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Titles abstract and verbose

Thinking about titles reminds me of Terry Atkinson. We used to be friendly but I haven’t seen him for years. His idea—one of those simple and obvious things that we never think of—is that every picture has a caption already … Continue reading

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Empty subjects, empty worlds

The choice of Ai Weiwei to quote in the previous post may seem odd, because there are certainly other sources for the same ideas, perhaps more eloquent, or more purely involved in aesthetics. But I like to hear Ai say … Continue reading

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The manager within

It’s undignified for a work to be a slave to an artist’s intentions. Under current labor conditions that must seem a radical thought. Crudely, there are two positions, the manager or owner and the poor devil who does the work; … Continue reading

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As Ai Wei Wei sees it

Self-reflection is the process of modernism, although we usually give it the more portentous label of self-criticism. Self-reflection is also how the individual’s subjectivity or inwardness grows, how they find their own limits and possibilities. On the social scale self-reflection … Continue reading

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Ethics of Abstraction Part 1

Autonomy is an ethical/political stance, not a description of the social role or position of a work

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