Tag Archives: meaning

The Abstract Book

I’d like to return to a woodcut by Kandinsky posted earlier on this blog. When I first looked at it I saw an early compendium of techniques still useful in abstraction. Take repetition and mirroring, for example. The white crescent … Continue reading

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Jiro

Just saw a very moving and profound film, called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It’s about a man who has found deep happiness through his work. His goal is to do the same thing everyday and always get better. When I … Continue reading

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Animation

Looking once again at Stella’s Moby Dick works, I’m struck by how intensely animate they are. Animals, figures, whatever you want to see—and it’s evident again how the obvious is so hard to notice, and always the most important thing, … Continue reading

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Further Inside

Following on from the post Inwardness, there is the possibility of something out of nothing, which one might call inspiration or genius. These terms embarrass us today, but there is nothing mystical or romantic about them. Science has shown that … Continue reading

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Inwardness of a Work

What is inwardness anyway? It exists, and it matters, but it’s not really “in” anything. I used to think that commentary expanded as the art work diminished, but now disapprove of such off-hand criticism. Kitaj is right, commentary may not … Continue reading

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Real history

Robert Motherwell, in his Elegy series, alluded to a history that had some meaning to his viewers, even if few had had direct contact with it. They might remember their own experiences of WWII, and reflect that the subversion of … Continue reading

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Generational Change

The burden of these sad times we must obey Say what we mean, not what we ought to say The oldest have suffered most, we who are young May never see so much, nor live so long I’ve always loved … Continue reading

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Stones #2

…the earth…kept deepening beneath the spades, reckoning only with the diggers’ strength and endurance. Sometimes Voshchev would bend down and pick up a pebble, or other dust that had adhered together, and tuck it away inside his trousers for storage. … Continue reading

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Details 2

Sometimes I’m amazed at the endless particulars of life, which seem to multiply daily, but then maybe I’m in a state of wonderment at the human capacity to identify the same. All the details. The details of nature are astonishing … 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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Tacit Criticism

As pointed out on this blog, the role of criticism is to make the implicit explicit, to explain what doesn’t need to be explained, because the implicit—or call it the tacit—contains the social content that must be questioned. I don’t … 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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Perennially New

An article of 1989 by Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, called “The Current State of Nonrepresentation,” proves that certain ideas might seem fresh, but are hardly new: “…the task of nonrepresentation [is], typically, one which involves seeing a thing which is, for once, … Continue reading

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Politics of Blogging

John Kelsey’s article in last September’s Artforum, with its criticisms of digital networking, combined with some comments from my friend Scott Lyall, provoked me to take a step back and ask what it is I’m doing here. This post is … Continue reading

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The Price of Greatness

Readers of this blog will know that I am a great admirer of the work of Frank Stella. It seems I’m in a minority. I was talking to a friend who calls him the Leroy Neiman of contemporary art, and … Continue reading

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Those who make

As Harold Bloom has pointed out, Emerson is the ancestor of all American motivational speakers and aspirational gurus. Tony Robbins and his ilk are Emerson’s progeny, and if self-reliance has become an ideology then it has to be reinvented, or … Continue reading

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Unknown

Recently I published a little squib on the British web site Abstract Critical, and Peter Stott, who has contributed to this blog, offered the following comment: “The one thing that can be said about abstract art is that it is … Continue reading

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An abstract landscape

“Among the beds without flowers and the chipped cupids, the gnawing of actuality seemed for the moment silenced. In this place which had been left without meaning it seemed easier to feel meaning where there was perhaps none.” Anthony Powell

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New again

Emerson has something to say about the appreciation of pictures: “So with pictures; each will bear an emphasis of attention once, which it cannot retain, though we fain would continue to be pleased in that manner. How strongly I have … Continue reading

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Pulses

Been reading Emerson. He confirms something mentioned more than once on this blog: “Nature hates calculators; her methods are saltatory and impulsive. Man lives by pulses; our organic movements are such; and the chemical and ethereal agents are undulatory and … Continue reading

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Time Religious and Artistic

R.B.Kitaj has provoked me to look into a book by A.J.Heschel which happens to be on my library shelf. It’s about the sabbath as a day apart from the noise and strife. That’s how I’ve always thought about my studio—a … Continue reading

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A Dream

During a day of doubt my faith in abstraction was restored by this Matisse: The forms don’t line up as I like them to do, but they are beautifully piled on top of each other, interlaced and jostling for space. … Continue reading

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The Painter Barré

Reading further about Martin Barré I find a kindred spirit. According to Yves-Alain Bois, the logic of his work led him into conceptualism, which he later abandoned, apparently because it was too easy. A further cause of distress to him … Continue reading

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Conceptual Antagonist

The following remarks by Clement Greenberg, from 1971, give the most astute definition of conceptualism, or at least of the kind of conceptualism worth paying attention to: “…art, put to the strictest test of experience, proves to mean not skillful … Continue reading

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Secret meaning

Another theme of Kitaj’s Jewish commentarism is the esoteric. Behind the flat surface lies a depth of meaning—but meaning is not the right word. It’s easy to see how this can work in figurative art, but in abstraction less so. … Continue reading

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Commentary

R.B.Kitaj’s Second Diasporist Manifesto gives a lot of pleasure. He describes himself as kind of Talmudic commentator—of his own painting. Proposition #236 reads: “As a Jew, I am FOR INTERPRETATION…As a post-20th century painter, the very idea of NO COMMMENTARY … Continue reading

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How Hummingbird?

Yesterday I saw a show by Patrick Howlett. It fit well with my recent thoughts on Stella because Howlett’s work is also distinguished by sheer pictorial invention. Abstraction should not mean but be, to paraquote a famous poet. The largest … Continue reading

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Art More Intelligent Than Me

I’m always saying that my pictures are smarter than me, that they teach me what to do. In an old interview in the Brooklyn Rail Robert Hullot-Kentor says it well: “If art—when art is art—understands us better than we can … Continue reading

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Reading Abstraction

In the Kleist series, imagery related to the story, in this case a novella about the famous slave revolt in the West Indies, can’t be ruled out. Robert Wallace, in his discussion of the Moby-Dick works, did very well in … Continue reading

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