Tag Archives: time

A Sensibility

I’m acquiring more affection for the work of Martin Barré, especially the later ones. From 1986, this piece has the feel of its moment – it verges on 80s parodic modernism, like a cartoon Mondrian, although I’m quite aware that … 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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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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Early Monet

Some years ago I was very struck by this Monet in Chicago. It is beautifully ordinary – the subject, the treatment – a kind of bland, unassuming realism. I thought of Harold Bloom’s description of Wordsworth, whose use of ordinary … Continue reading

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Philosophy of An Artist

In his book Working Space, Stella makes a comment in passing that I can’t get out of my mind. He says “…life is more wonderful than the imagination and recall of the people who live it.” Objectively true. How can … Continue reading

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Art as Production or Not

Blog reader Naomi Schlinke has drawn my attention to the following by Bridget Riley: “For well over two hundred years the idea of work in our society been modeled on the industrial concept of production. These demands, the demands of … 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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Groys’ Irony

The previous post may have seemed a little obscure to some, but I have recently found a text that illuminates Groys’ irony. A recent article on Malevich begins with the following: “…can the Russian avant-garde function as an inspiration and … Continue reading

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Kandinsky Pro and Con

Recently I saw a couple of early abstractions by Kandinsky, which provoke me to revisit the reasons I don’t like them. As it happens, my normal disinterest in the artist has just changed – I’m now strongly disposed in his … Continue reading

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The Human Base?

In a neighbouring grass hut a husband was talking to his wife. He wanted them to have a child: maybe a child would start right now. But the wife answered: “No, there’s nothing inside us – only weakness. Ten years … Continue reading

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The Light is Everywhere

Here is an amazing and wonderful quote, from an unlikely source: “The light, creation’s mind, was everywhere, and all things owned it’s power.” Here “owned ” means acknowledged. I often wonder what we do when we look at anything; it … Continue reading

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Too Many, Too Much

I’ve been reading a book called Countdown, by Alan Weismann, about population, the biggest problem in the world today, and the one that ties all the others together. Readers of this blog know that I don’t think that species loss … Continue reading

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Anthropocene Debates

Geographer Erle Ellis, in a New York Times article, argues against the panic about environmental degradation and species loss. He accepts the designation of Anthropocene, which seems to have become conventional now, and thinks that “The idea that humans must … Continue reading

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Circumstantial Change

Sometime, a long time ago, our ancestors got hold of fire, so they could have heat whenever they wanted it. And at another time they “invented” the wheel, probably first as logs used to roll heavy weights around. So the … Continue reading

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Technology and Civilization

For a couple of centuries now the rhetoric of technical innovation has been pretty consistent. Apparently technology has revolutionized all of life and transformed evolution itself. The first question is whether any single local improvement in the way we do … Continue reading

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Improvisation Again

I published a little piece on Abstract Critical about improvisation. Even though the article was itself improvised, and advertised the fact, that didn’t prevent it from being misunderstood. I wish I had included this comment from Adorno as additional clarification: … Continue reading

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Digital Complaints

An article by Rebecca Solnit in the London Review of Books is one of the best critiques of the digital culture I’ve read. She says: “The real point about the slow food movement was often missed. It wasn’t food. It was … Continue reading

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A Broken Pot

Readers of this blog will know that I’ve spent some time on Ai Weiwei, but sadly I find him more admirable as a citizen than interesting as an artist. His work is adequate in its genre, but not exceptional. In … 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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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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Moments

Like The Garden of Forking Paths, the story by Borges, or the theoretical physicists fantasy of multiple universes appearing like soap bubbles in each other—each moment forks off into many possibilities, and each one of those forks further. In reality … Continue reading

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Complex Process

It takes an effort of imagination for an ordinary viewer to recapture the enormous difficulty of Stella’s methods in the reliefs—time consuming, and requiring the coordination of many different activities and people. First he has to plan the work with … 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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Aging of the New Art

Following from the previous post, Ehrenzweig has a great sensitivity to the way that art ages and dies in our perception, and he understands that changes in the way that we see it are objective, that the work itself has … Continue reading

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Nature

In an essay about my work, Richard Shiff said that I produce a sense of place out of nothing and nowhere, the highest compliment I can imagine. My work is as arbitrary as nature itself—it unfolds according to immanent laws, … Continue reading

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Extinction

Another, very affecting perspective on the disappearance of species comes from Hayao Miuyazaki, the great maker of animated films. At the climax of his long graphic novel Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, the heroine confronts a machine programmed to … Continue reading

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Evolutionary Adventures

Still mulling over the mistaken understanding of the concept Anthropocene, mentioned in an earlier post. Hand wringing over the disappearance of species is very human I’m sure, but unnecessary. My children, like all children, are fascinated by dinosaurs. Why, I … 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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