Tag Archives: feeling

More Complex Form

One couldn’t come up with an artist further from the concerns of modern day, formalist inclined abstraction than George Eliot—her novels are all about moral challenges. I can hardly express my esteem for what she did, and who she was. … Continue reading

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Plants and Animals

If some readers are not convinced by my description, in the previous post, of Krasner’s work as ruled by a plant metaphor, I submit these two works, which have titles and colours to match that theme. But it’s interesting that … Continue reading

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Crisis Moment

Krasner’s unique style is made of strongly drawn circles, arcs and ellipses. She has a kind of compulsion to go around with her arm. In her case it’s not a limitation and more than a habit—it’s an expressive language that … Continue reading

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Lee Krasner

As I said in an earlier post, Lee Krasner gave Pollock’s Easter and the Totem to the MoMA, and I think that was a measure of her regard for that work, which otherwise is not much celebrated. The conventional wisdom … Continue reading

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Kojève

Recently read a great article by Boris Groys on Kojève. Never read Kojève myself but I know that he taught Hegel to the surrealists, and I learned a lot about that from a very good book about surrealist objects by … Continue reading

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Outside the Border Fence

Following from the previous post, I think it helps a lot to travel, and not just to Miami or Basel. I talk about this in my book. But though you can take your body to different places, it’s hard to … Continue reading

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Berger’s Choices

A recent article by Ben Davis about the death of John Berger demanded a reply—sadly comments were not possible. Davis made the point that some of the artists Berger admired were obscure, non-canonical. My answer would be why does Ben … Continue reading

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Olga Rozanova

Been looking at great collages by Rozanova. They have that beautiful freshness of beginnings. For her, abstraction was an open future, so she had no idea how to value work like this. It was all an experiment. We can decide … Continue reading

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Art for the Age of Trump

Thinking about constructivist collage—in other words, art of a revolutionary period—makes one wonder what kind of art is right for today. Does my Collage #10 really measure up, or is to too much Kutesy-Klee and Kandinsky-Kute? Are the animal/organic and … Continue reading

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Size and Importance

Further on from the previous post—if Stella was part of a larger, more general response to abstract expressionism, I think the generally accepted understanding of that response has been too limited. We usually hear that it was a reaction against the … Continue reading

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Bigger and Better

In some quarters one hears the claim that bigger means more serious or more ambitious. Not necessarily, because bigger doesn’t necessarily mean more. It’s one way to get attention in the world, and maybe does indicate a desire to get … Continue reading

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Color and Mark

I used to think that Stella’s Exotic Birds were not his best works. I could appreciate them as a necessary breakthrough, but bad works nevertheless. I never liked the template approach, that the forms were ready-made and just decorated with … Continue reading

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Aristocrat of the Spirit

You have to know that you are right. But if no one else agrees then you’re a poor sap anyway. Indifference to shame helps. The shame of poverty, for example. Baudelaire turned poverty into “poverty.” Shamelessness fosters conviction.

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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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The Day Is Long

More from the mind of Bertie Wooster: “If there’s one thing I like it’s a quiet life. I’m not one of those fellows who get all restless and depressed if things aren’t happening to them all the time. You can’t … 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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Wooster and the Reality Principle

Wodehouse’s books are light, and lightness is one of the qualities I esteem in any art. But they are not any less concerned with reality as it is lived. Here is Bertie Wooster’s favourite aunt, regaling him with some affectionate … Continue reading

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Music in the Studio

A lot of artists like to play music while they work. I think it’s a dangerous thing to do. The problem is that the feelings of the music possess you and then you start to believe that your own work … 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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A Critique

Recently an article by Laurie Fendrich was circulating on Facebook. It’s worth reading, but this is what I said about it: I like most of what she says, but object to this: “Painting contains its own roughly defined rules. 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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A Normally Sensual Artist

A few years ago I heard the prominent art critic and historian Katy Siegal describe Motherwell as “an intellectual,” meaning to distinguish him from more intuitive or emotional artists—to distinguish him from real artists, in other words. I find this … Continue reading

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Stanley Whitney

The last few posts have been circling around an idea that I think is pretty important, grounded as it is in studio practice but with implications for history and even for our understanding of time. I keep thinking about something … Continue reading

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Unbalanced

A Kenneth Noland piece like this one opens up a space any abstractionist should find attractive to enter, best described in Noland’s own words: “It’s been on my mind—what would something be like if it were unbalanced? It’s been a … Continue reading

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Nicolas de Staël

A little while ago I was commenting on the great importance of Paul Klee for global modernism after WWII, a fact not much mentioned in the standard histories. Another artist who was very successful and widely admired and imitated in … 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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Play

Further to the delightful arbitrariness of Kandinsky’s work, this piece offers many small and exemplary decisions. The image looks like a door viewed at an oblique angle. Inside it are a number of what could be small circular doors that … 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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Work

Lately I’ve been making a series of collages, all roughly the same size—22×28″, sometimes a bit smaller or larger—and find it tough going. In abstract art the temptation is always to accept early results, and that question gets more complicated … Continue reading

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Snapshot

Two posts back I mentioned two concepts of the picture. The second one—broken, fugitive, moving, unstable—has a definite relation to the most profound idea in modern photography, the “decisive moment.” You could even connect it to street photography in particular, … Continue reading

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