Tag Archives: emptiness

Simplicity and Strangeness

Personally, I don’t find much value in thought. I had some experience of it when I was young, but for most of my life I’ve been more concerned with something else that I’m not sure how to name. There are … 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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Shame

I’ve been thinking a lot about Anton Ehrenzweig’s idea that artists are shameless, that art is a kind of self exposure that demonstrates a courageous defiance of social norms—of guilt in fact. I’ve discussed it before on this blog. But … Continue reading

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Late Discoveries

Barry Schwabsky has written an insightful review of two current museum shows, Agnes Martin and Carmen Herrera. Herrera is a fascinating figure for everyone, because she holds the record for late discovery of a living artist—after sixty years of obscurity … Continue reading

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While Waiting

The topic of waiting is not to be confused with procrastination. From an art point of view the biggest problem is the need to be busy, because the true religion of the modern world, in every culture, is work. The … Continue reading

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Further Losses

Lately I’ve been preoccupied with loss, including the loss of artworks. Every work is the product of one moment, and as such it lives in the here and now. But since an artwork is also a thing it can be … 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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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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Complete

There’s many ways to simulate wholeness, completeness, whatever one wants to call it. As many as there are ways to simulate an excess.

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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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Lost Geometry

What is the substantial difference between an artist who diagrams and fills in completely, and one who diagrams and only partially fills in? Seems to be a lot, as the work of Martin Barré is more attractive than that of … 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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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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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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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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The Factory

Continuing on with thoughts about Jeff Koons provoked by Barry Schwabsky’s recent review, I can understand why he was struck by the giant Play-Doh piece. It looks like an early Lynda Benglis, but Schwabsky is surely right to stress the … 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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Late Barré

Late Barré is unexpectedly charming. This series is built on a grid with diagonals, with certain sections filled in, most not. And the consequent forms are carefully placed to avoid obvious lining up of the edges. A sophisticated deployment of … Continue reading

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Collective Solipsism

A popular and often heard claim is that an individual creates their own reality. I think it’s more like the mass media are too much present in everyone’s mind. There is no such thing as “virtual” reality—there is such a … Continue reading

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Tucker’s Stance

William Tucker’s favorite sculptors, according to his book, are Brancusi, Matisse and Degas. If one looks at his own work with this in mind, it’s clear that he is not rooted in construction, but in ideas of organic form, and … Continue reading

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Old Matisse a Master

My reservations about T.J.Clark have been expressed on this blog, but I still like to read him, because he’s a rare art historian who actually gets it, who can feel art from the inside, not just shuffle it between theoretical … Continue reading

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New Show

Here’s a couple of images of my just opened show at CSA Space in Vancouver.

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The Sky and The World

A quote from Adorno“A man gazing peacefully at the sky may at times be closer to truth than another who accurately follows the ‘Eroica.’”How could someone who would say this ever be called an elitist? Maybe because the advocates of … Continue reading

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Early Monet

Some years ago I was very struck by this Monet in Chicago. It is beautifully ordinary – the subject, the treatment – a kind of bland, unassuming realism. I thought of Harold Bloom’s description of Wordsworth, whose use of ordinary … Continue reading

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Andrei Platonov

I’m becoming very interested in Andrei Platonov, a Stalin period Soviet writer who remained relatively unknown until recently. Most consider his masterpiece to be The Foundation Pit, quoted some time ago on this blog. I like that book, but am … Continue reading

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The Light is Everywhere

Here is an amazing and wonderful quote, from an unlikely source: “The light, creation’s mind, was everywhere, and all things owned it’s power.” Here “owned ” means acknowledged. I often wonder what we do when we look at anything; it … Continue reading

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Critics and Philosophers

Critics and philosophers are useful for the most paradoxical reason—because they confirm what one instinctively knows. Some critics and philosophers. The reason for this can only be that the world around us, including the art world and everything that people … Continue reading

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Total Structure

Still harping on Ehrenzweig, I choose these words as the core insight of use to any artist: “In a work of art any element however paltry has to be firmly related to the total structure in a complex web of … Continue reading

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Moments

Like The Garden of Forking Paths, the story by Borges, or the theoretical physicists fantasy of multiple universes appearing like soap bubbles in each other—each moment forks off into many possibilities, and each one of those forks further. In reality … Continue reading

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