Tag Archives: titles

Literary Modernism

I’ve always been drawn to artists who write their own books and illustrate them—or maybe they are actually writers who also draw. Two obvious ones who come to mind are Mervyn Peake and Bruno Schulz, and I like them both. … 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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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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In Memoriam

The series Polar Coordinates for Ronnie Peterson was another tough one for me to learn to like, but now I love them. Somehow, the two layer structure, combined with the busyness of the “ground” layer, has some relevance to the … Continue reading

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Figures in a Landscape

Many of my works are figures, and many are landscapes. Since the overall rubric is “Islands,” I guess they are really all figures in a landscape. The figure might be found in the negative space or ocean, so figure and … Continue reading

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Love Letters

I’ve been enjoying a group of small works in Stella’s Kleist series named after some of the writer’s love letters. Each one has a nice formal gesture; this piece, for example, has parts that swing up and down in opposite … 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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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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Moving Out and Staying Back

I’m still getting great enjoyment out of Frank Stella’s Moby Dick series, which seems to be a kind of culmination. With the next series, built around the writings of Kleist, he gives up the method of constructing in superimposed planes … 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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Redefinition

In the previous post I managed to avoid making a definition of abstraction, although I feel the presence of one near. It’s that feeling that should guide us, the pull of the future. Hope to survive long enough to talk … Continue reading

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Figures coming through

Ruminating on the later work of Frank Stella has led me to a some new thoughts about what abstraction really is. Most important is to keep a sense of what Richard Shiff described in our recent conversation as the strangeness … Continue reading

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Modes of Abstraction and Styles of Writing

Robert Wallace has shown me that I was mistaken about Stella’s work, as in fact many are. Though at first sight the Moby Dick works seem attractively chaotic, it would be wrong to assume that they have a fundamental arbitrariness, … Continue reading

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The Mortality of the Work

I have belatedly found out that three of my pictures were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. When contemplating disaster, studio fires or things like that, I always thought I could handle it fine, because the important thing is the energy that … Continue reading

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Alighiero Boetti

A latecomer to Boetti’s work, I have no expertise in it. Right now I’m looking at this grid piece, “Niente da vedere niente da nascondere,” or “Nothing to see nothing to hide.” The title really adds something, and bears thought, … Continue reading

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An Explanation

Readers of the earlier post on captions and backstory might have had some difficulty in understanding the choice of illustration. Actually, it makes a lot of sense—what wouldn’t make sense is an explanation, even though this is not a story. … Continue reading

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The Storyteller

Been reading Walter Benjamin’s very great essay “The Storyteller.” When I read it years ago I found it too theoretical, or something like that—it didn’t speak to me. But what he is saying has become more vivid, more truthful in … Continue reading

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Kitaj’s Diasporic Literariness

Been reading R.B.Kitaj’s Second Diasporist Manifesto. I read the first one many years ago and found it unsatisfying, but this one is so optimistic and cheerful, it’s a pleasure. The change is that he unreservedly proselytizes a Jewish art—previously he … Continue reading

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Drawing and Writing 2

Frankenthaler’s literary interests are well known, in fact given away by the title of one of her pictures, Seven Types of Ambiguity, also the title of a book by William Empson, one of the most widely read works of literary … Continue reading

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First and last

In America, “first” means best, and also the leader. Of course, every artist is the last, always coming after the great achievements of the past. In American art, leadership is gained by deploying tropes of “firstness,” by claiming to access … Continue reading

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Everybody’s meaning

What abstract art means, and how it can mean anything, is perhaps one way of describing what this blog is about. But generally I don’t traffic in such exalted concepts; I would rather talk about something concrete, like titles for … Continue reading

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Subjectively so

Just want to reiterate my sympathy for Peter Stott’s position in his recent comment, namely that whatever thoughts are going through the mind of the artist at the moment the work is made, or whatever fantasies he or she may … Continue reading

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Expressiveness without backstory

Following from the previous post, Gego‘s work might be exemplary of an art which is just a sensitive handling of small particulars, when those small particulars don’t necessarily mean anything, or stand for anything, and don’t need a title or … Continue reading

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Titles long and exuberant

Through all the recent thoughts on this blog about backstory and titles, to my mind one approach really stands out as less problematic than any of the others, and that’s Terry Atkinson’s very long caption-titles. His titles contain in themselves … Continue reading

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Words and Material Things

The recent comment by Ricki Oltean expresses well an important position, one that in the past I myself have unthinkingly held, namely that the materiality of a work—in another sense, its many details—should be the source of aesthetic experience, and … Continue reading

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Fewer Words

I found the recent comment by Chris Gergley very thought provoking—in fact it confirms my own emerging position on titles. In the discursive model of art the backstory, whether presented in exhibition or uncovered as critical history, has a demystifiying … Continue reading

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Back to Titles

Before responding any further to David Court or Scott Lyall, I want to assess the progress of the discussion so far. This section of the blog started off with some questions about titles, and titles expanded into captions, and then … Continue reading

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One word

Reflecting on the meanings that a single word can have takes me back a few years to a photo book I did with a couple of other artists in Vancouver. We were making an imitation of a commercial stock photo … Continue reading

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Beginnings

The invocation of beginnings in Pape’s title summons up the early moments of abstraction-the work of Malevich, Popova and other Russians. The new art was cosmic because it was the image of a new universe, and the beginnings of the … Continue reading

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Book of Creation

I first saw works by Lygia Pape at the Americas Society in New York back in the 90s. They were prints with a Gegoish flavor, but I found out about The Book of Creation from a catalog that I picked … Continue reading

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