Tag Archives: meaning

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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The Feeling of a Moment

Robert Musil‘s novel The Man Without Qualities should be required reading – for somebody. I read it years ago in the first English translation, and kept turning down pages to mark the mind expanding moments I wanted to return to. … Continue reading

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Rorshach Fail

Stella, at least before Moby Dick, was pretty committed to non-representational art, and kept coming up with new ways to see what that meant. Here’s another quote from the catalog mentioned earlier:“The way I see it, an abstract painting should … 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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Inscrutable Klee

Readers of this blog will have noticed that I sometimes allude to T.J.Clark’s articles in the LRB. Recently he reviewed the massive Klee exhibition at Tate Modern. I think he is right to stress that it is very hard for … Continue reading

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Clownish

This piece was my second Island painting. At the time I thought of it as my clown painting, and clowns – from Bruce Nauman to Paul McCarthy – were very present in art at that time. In painting, Gary Hume’s … Continue reading

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Figures

An earlier post got me thinking. Balzac’s “The Unknown Masterpiece” is an iconic work of literature for modernists, from say Cézanne to Picasso. The blank map in The Hunting of the Snark is equally important for the transition from abstraction … Continue reading

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Studio Show

I recently published a review of the work of Jeff Tutt, an artist also mentioned earlier on this blog. I can’t add much more to what I said in the review, except that it might be too much about local … 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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A Private Art

A review of a show of Indian art in the Guardian makes an important point. India does not have a tradition of museums, never mind public art galleries. Most art is still in private hands, and, apparently, there’s lots of it, … Continue reading

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Vasudeo Gaitonde

Just discovered an important Indian artist, Vasudeo Gaitonde. Apparently he was something of a mentor to Nasreen Mohamedi. His work reaches me variably, as expected. I’ll say more about him in my book, but for now just want to suggest … Continue reading

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Ordinary Conceptualism

Back in the day, conceptual art had the cachet of difficulty, abstruseness and extreme refinement. That the works were regarded as unsaleable was supposed to guarantee their seriousness and integrity. These qualities were operative even if the work was silly; … Continue reading

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Groys

I found an article/review on Boris Groys by Benjamin Kunkel in the London Review of Books. Overall it’s probably accurate, but I didn’t perfectly recognize Groys in some of the more summary descriptions: “Groys is…idealist in his belief that the … Continue reading

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Politics and the Aesthetic

Lately I’ve had the impression that on this blog the aesthetic and the political are falling apart, yet at bottom I believe they are one. I also don’t accept the standard view that modernist abstraction and its heirs are necessarily … Continue reading

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Art in the Mainstream

Barry Schwabsky’s recent review of the Christopher Wool retrospective strikes several chords with this blog. Right off he asks whether the value of art can be equated with price, exactly the right question, and of course he gives the right … Continue reading

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Qualified Curators

I’ve just been pondering the curator, a curious animal. Or at least that impression grows on me the longer I think about them. There are people who have a real affinity for art but for whatever reason don’t want to … Continue reading

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An Approaching Limit

As geographer Erle Ellis says in an earlier post, we shouldn’t underestimate the ability of the clever human being to invent new ways to cross environmental limits. It’s not at all certain that economic growth must stop. I, for one, … Continue reading

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Music and Abstraction

Early abstractionists such as Kandinsky and Klee found that music gave them a lot to work with. Since then the idea that abstract art is visual music has become a cliché so cornball that no one even thinks about it … Continue reading

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George Lois

The following quote from George Lois sounds a lot like Ehrenzweig: “The point about unusual ideas has to be their proximity to madness. Creativity is the ultimate adrenaline rush. If you have what you consider a fantastic concept, you must … 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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Anti-Individualism

In the art world (outside the market) there is a kind of lingering embarrassment attached to the idea of the individual. Creativity is a word never used, neither is expression, and I think that’s an uncritical holdover from seventies theory—the … Continue reading

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Single Shapes

I’ve been pondering the work of Jeff Tutt, and its difference from mine. Familiarity with his work makes me notice this very small piece that was lying in a corner of the studio. I can’t remember why I did it … Continue reading

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Variable Decline

Adorno’s ruminations on the difficulty of “new music” include the following, which supports my own earlier comments on Richter-style abstraction and music: “Tonal complexes [in Wagner]…are already conceived in such a way as not to be perceived with the same … 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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Abstraction and Empathy

Wilhelm Worringer was an original thinker, and he’s worth some time, even today. Like Ehrenzweig, I first heard of him because of Smithson’s interest, and likewise I didn’t read him until very recently. Geometry could be seen as pre-existing us, … Continue reading

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Curation at the limit

In a recent Artforum the very distinguished critic Claire Bishop has an interesting review of the combined Lithuanian/Cypriot pavilion at this years Venice Biennale. Some artists are suspicious of the curator as artist, but in a way that development was … Continue reading

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Judd’s Polarities

I’ve been reading David Raskin’s book on Donald Judd, and it is kind of remarkable, not least because Raskin does not pretend to the objectivity of the art historian, but clearly and openly takes a position on and with his … Continue reading

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Honor, Power and the Love of Women

From Freud, General Theory of the Neuroses Part XXIII. “The Development of the Symptoms” “Before I leave you today I should like to have your attention for a while for an aspect of imaginative life which is worthy of the … Continue reading

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Many Images

My friend Jeff Tutt tells me that he is not satisfied with a shape unless it suggests at least three images. A good approach, and inspiring. He also has a great abstract book.

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Large Forms

Following from the previous post, some thoughts from Ehrenzweig suggest what might be interesting about an abstract book: “…integration [of the artwork] can only be controlled by the empty stare of unconscious scanning which alone is capable of overcoming the … Continue reading

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