Tag Archives: nature

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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Arbitrary Beginnings, Well Known Ends

Further on in the Richter film, starting at 54 minutes, there’s a conversation between the artist and Benjamin Buchloh. They hit on all the points I make in the book, and the conclusion is as I described it. Richter knows … Continue reading

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Once upon the Cephalopodocene

Just to go back to the article by Donna Haraway mentioned in the previous post—it’s pretty good in the way she describes the incredible complexity of the biosphere as a whole, single system. When we look at it like that … Continue reading

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Art and Nature Today

The trouble with ideas is that everyone has them at the same time. That’s why art is better—the concrete particular is one thing, in one place at one time. One of my favorite chapters in the book is on art … 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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Less Figure, Less Grid

Still worrying about Robert Motherwell. Why? For the same reason as any artist might come to mind—because of how bad he is, and how good, and because those qualities are more or less undecidable right now. He’s bothersome, and his … Continue reading

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Brigid Brophy

Inveterate reader Jacob Wren turned me on to Brigid Brophy‘s book about myth and social psychosis, Black Ship to Hell. I agree with what she says, and mostly with how she says it, but despite the attractive title I don’t … Continue reading

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Crouching Woman

Going back to look again at William Tucker’s book, I find my original impression confirmed—it’s really great. Ideas come tumbling out at every turn of the page. Here’s one insight from the chapter on Rodin: “With the Prodigal Son and … Continue reading

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Novelty at a Pace

To go back to the thought experiment I presented in an earlier post; when stone age man (or woman) had fire and a wheel, in principle they had the automobile, although they couldn’t make one. To get the automobile was … Continue reading

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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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Marlene Dumas

At the Stedelijk, I had a brief chance to see a Marlene Dumas retrospective. Since she lives in Amsterdam it must have been a satisfying show for her. I was expecting to admire her faces, and a wall of ink … 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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Starry Reflections

My theory about Pollock’s Reflection of the Big Dipper is that the title should be taken literally. It shows reflections of clouds, stars and tree branches in a puddle. I just saw the piece in person for the first time … Continue reading

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No Meaning

How does one answer the charge of nihilism? Just observe that nature is nihilist. And that meaning is myth.

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Invisible

Earlier remarks about the invisible greater part of an artwork used only classical, canonical paintings for examples. Actually, the point applies to abstraction more than anything, and the drive to eliminate the superfluous, which in some cases takes the form … Continue reading

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Scientific or Social Origins

I have finally got around to Lee Smolin’s new book, about time. As sympathetic as I am to his ideas, I can’t help but look toward the blind spots. Here’s one quote: “In the past, great conceptual steps in physical … Continue reading

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Emergent Space

Lee Smolin’s latest book, Time Reborn, is an argument in favor of the open-ended future. We may not have known it was endangered, but apparently one of the consequences of Einstein’s theory of relativity is that time becomes objectified as … Continue reading

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Feelings for and of the World

Following from the previous post, landscapes are beautiful to the extent that our feelings live there, and I love landscape and landscape art. But the art that is willing to die is closer to the body—not just content to look … Continue reading

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Outdoors

Human beings are just an ordinary part of the biosphere, and the biosphere is our limit. We will never be anything other than animals and all cosmic dreams are just that – dreams. Space flight is bound to fail because … Continue reading

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Illustration and Abstraction

I’ve been enjoying the work of the great British illustrator Brian Wildsmith. He started in the early sixties and it’s not hard to see some influence from Alan Davie, as well as from those perennial undergraduate favorites Klimt and Hundertwasser. Arbitrary … Continue reading

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Parts and Wholes Again (As Always)

I’m going to include an unusually long quotation in this post, from scientist and philosopher Abner Shimony.“…collective behavior in macro physical systems and in biological cells can often be explained in great detail in terms of the properties and interactions … Continue reading

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Cézanne at an Angle

Many of Cézanne’s compositions lean. They have a tilt. The desire to rectify, or straighten out, or balance when a tilt appears is so strong. Learn from Cézanne to go with the lean, and not correct it.

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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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Wood Nymphs

Leger’s work is very odd. This piece, a kind of a breakthrough for him, is really bizarre. While contemplating the craziness of this work, I find in the MOMA Invention of Abstraction catalog two large cubist Picabias I had never heard … Continue reading

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More Details

From Mother Goose: Little drops of water, tiny grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land.   I’m always astonished at the sheer scale of everything – that there are so many individual bits of gravel, grains … Continue reading

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The Lost Steps

Returning to an earlier discussion of books and art, my own favorite iconic novel of art is Alejo Carpentier‘s The Lost Steps. Although it is about a musicologist, it does have a lot to say about abstraction, if we can … Continue reading

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The Sexual Gesture

About a year ago Laura Owens was interviewed in Arforum, and she said some interesting things about sex and painting. I meant to comment, and can’t believe it was that long ago. “I had asked myself, in a depressed mood: … 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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Overpopulation

I’m feeling somewhat shaken by Alan Weisman’s book on population. He says “Except for volcanic eruptions, every emergency on Earth is now either related to or aggravated by the presence of more people than conditions can bear.” Short of total … Continue reading

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