Tag Archives: music

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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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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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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Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates recently gave a talk in Toronto, which sadly I missed, but the other day I came across two articles about him, one in the New Yorker, the other in the New York Times Magazine. As usual, certain small … Continue reading

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Hopeless but Realistic

A number of years ago I saw the great Penelope Spheeris documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. Someone was going on about how he had no education, couldn’t finish high school, no skills, no talents, … Continue reading

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Cosmopolitanism

Recently was very moved by a BBC documentary about Ravi Shankar. The music is great of course, and he is another artist who inspires by his dedication. He also offers a new perspective on the religion of work, the true … Continue reading

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An Artist’s Life

I recently watched a documentary on El Anatsui. He’s an interesting character. Very much present but quite aloof, in his own space – he lives alone and likes it that way. I know a few people like that in the art … Continue reading

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Old and New

Stella’s work always offers the same experience—each new series looks awful at first, and then time reveals its beauties. How much more revealing of quality is a good strong dislike than the bland suspension of judgment most appropriate today. I … 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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Developing Variation

Thinking back to an earlier post in which I described using a finished piece as the “score” for another one, I realize now that the reason the effort didn’t work was because I was burdened by the idea—a rare moment … Continue reading

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The Score

Any artwork worthy of the name will give more over time. One experience of it can hardly be enough. In music there are recordings, but the best way to listen to music is to play it from the score, that … Continue reading

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Secrets of the Studio

As an exponent of organicism, and of the artwork that produces itself, I naturally find these words of Adorno very interesting: “…you will find that great tonal music actually bears some resemblance to a puzzle. The movements of the greatest … 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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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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New Music

Following from the previous post, to quote critics and philosophers, which I occasionally do on this blog, has some use, namely to confirm the best part of oneself. In this it’s similar to the young artist’s imitation of work that … 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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A Change Has Occurred

I find Ehrenzweig full of insights that, for me at least, confirm experience. But he also has his own experiences to offer, sometimes startling. Here is one: “I can still clearly remember when half a century ago I got to … Continue reading

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Adorno and the Life of Art

I’ve always been struck by an article of Adorno’s called “The Aging of the New Music.” The title alone is enough to think about, and it was in my mind when I wrote an earlier post about Ehrenzweig. What he … Continue reading

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F. Schubert, Abstract Artist

Lately I’m a devoted listener of Schubert’s piano sonatas. A great model for abstraction. Intricate and intellectually formed throughout but non-conceptual, complex and multi-layered but accessible entirely through feeling, light and full of invented forms. If one could make paintings … Continue reading

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Noise

Following from the previous post, as an example of visual noise I would like to present any abstract work by Gerhard Richter. Pictures like this are the high class, supremely tasteful equivalent of stadium rock, a sclerotic form if there … Continue reading

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