Tag Archives: value

John Walker

I remember when there was a vogue for the work of John Walker. I didn’t like it because at that time he was using the same form over and over, which he called “Alba,” and said was derived from Goya. … Continue reading

Posted in American Modernism, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Style of Work

What makes Stella so productive (and you have to investigate to find out how much, because most of the work is not widely known) is a two part process. First lots of planning and preparation, then head long improvisation and … Continue reading

Posted in American Modernism, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter and The Totem

I don’t think I can explain why I like this piece. It’s an example of Pollock’s late figurative work, coming after the Black Paintings and after Convergence and Blue Poles, contemporary with The Deep and Portrait and a Dream. I … Continue reading

Posted in American Modernism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Kojève

Recently read a great article by Boris Groys on Kojève. Never read Kojève myself but I know that he taught Hegel to the surrealists, and I learned a lot about that from a very good book about surrealist objects by … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Outside the Border Fence

Following from the previous post, I think it helps a lot to travel, and not just to Miami or Basel. I talk about this in my book. But though you can take your body to different places, it’s hard to … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abstract Order

Following on from the previous post, Stella’s manner in the late prints especially, but also in many of his reliefs, is to be vivid, crazy, overloaded and loud. That’s what puts a lot of viewers off. It’s a style and … Continue reading

Posted in American Modernism, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Art for the Age of Trump

Thinking about constructivist collage—in other words, art of a revolutionary period—makes one wonder what kind of art is right for today. Does my Collage #10 really measure up, or is to too much Kutesy-Klee and Kandinsky-Kute? Are the animal/organic and … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, American Modernism, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Russian Philosopher

I’m always grateful to Boris Groys, who has opened so many horizons with his wit and penetration. He has also brought attention to lesser known Russian thinkers, and there are a lot of them worth looking into. One that attracted … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Progressive Critique

The following comes from a piece by McKenzie Wark: “Contemporary art…loves three strategies that portray nothing so much as the forms of accumulation its current or emerging patrons enjoy. Firstly, there is outsourcing, where the art is made by somebody … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Conceptualism and Painting, Ethics of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Size and Importance

Further on from the previous post—if Stella was part of a larger, more general response to abstract expressionism, I think the generally accepted understanding of that response has been too limited. We usually hear that it was a reaction against the … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, American Modernism, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Once Again New

It’s been pointed out, most cogently by Nietzsche, that what stirs us most in what we read is what we already know. He means philosophy or any kind of wisdom writing, not political screeds on the internet. But we still … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, American Modernism, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Opportunity, or A Christmas Message

Stella teaches something every artist should know, or does know but normally forgets—that art is not a problem, it’s an opportunity, an invitation, a promise. What it is for society I have no idea, but that’s what it is for … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, American Modernism, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aristocrat of the Spirit

You have to know that you are right. But if no one else agrees then you’re a poor sap anyway. Indifference to shame helps. The shame of poverty, for example. Baudelaire turned poverty into “poverty.” Shamelessness fosters conviction.

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wallace’s Poverty

Ian Wallace’s Poverty is a fiction. Can someone who is really poor take an interest in that? You’d have to be indifferent to wealth to begin with to appreciate both rich and poor as roles, to take them as art. For … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Conceptualism and Painting, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Decisions, Maybe Bad Ones

This video of Gerhard Richter in his studio shows him painting a couple of largish abstracts, with three big pots of paint—yellow, red and blue—and a wide brush. The sequence in question is from 12-23 minutes. It’s a pleasure to … Continue reading

Posted in Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Heap of Scrap Metal

On a train passing a scrap yard the piles of twisted shiny metal pieces remind me of Stella’s sculpture in Chicago. You might call the pile a piece of abstract art, in the “all over” mode, but Stella’s work is … Continue reading

Posted in Abstract Sculpture, Abstraction and Society, American Modernism, Current Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abstraction in Iran

My facebook friend from Vancouver, Mohammad Salemy, has written a piece about the modernist art collection in Tehran. It’s worth a read. The collection is very rich, but right now I’m interested in the abstraction. Stella spent time there in … Continue reading

Posted in American Modernism, Asian Abstraction, Current Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shame

I’ve been thinking a lot about Anton Ehrenzweig’s idea that artists are shameless, that art is a kind of self exposure that demonstrates a courageous defiance of social norms—of guilt in fact. I’ve discussed it before on this blog. But … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wooster and the Reality Principle

Wodehouse’s books are light, and lightness is one of the qualities I esteem in any art. But they are not any less concerned with reality as it is lived. Here is Bertie Wooster’s favourite aunt, regaling him with some affectionate … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Modern Labor

Kafka has this to say about the entrepreneurial culture: “The animal wrests the whip from its master and whips itself in order to become master, not knowing that this is only a fantasy produced by a new knot in the … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Polemic

Another chapter of my book looks at that universal favorite, Gerhard Richter. It may be the first genuine critique of an overrated artist, and the book is probably worth the price for that alone. It’s not original though; I take … Continue reading

Posted in American Modernism, Current Affairs | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

While Waiting

The topic of waiting is not to be confused with procrastination. From an art point of view the biggest problem is the need to be busy, because the true religion of the modern world, in every culture, is work. The … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wait

Waiting. Waiting for a pot to boil, for the daylight to change, for the rain to fall, for a flower to bloom—some processes take time, and so waiting is a natural and unavoidable state. For an art that aims to … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Asian Abstraction, Current Affairs, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interpretation in Time

My post on destruction got an interesting response on Facebook from reader Nicole Rigets. She says: “Old books contain new ways of seeing and thinking. In my opinion all books contain secret knowledge (even novels).” This is really fascinating. Of … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Conceptualism and Painting, Principles of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Normalized

I’m aware of how hokey the previous post became toward the end—the list of artist destroyers is pop art history, and not very good pop art history at that. However, those pairs—Malevich/Mondrian, Pollock/Rothko and Stella/Richter—are in an important sense my … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Early Abstraction, Ethics of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Destruction

Further to the phenomenon of iconoclasm or demolition of cultural monuments—the first thing that comes to mind is that modern art has always been iconoclastic and in fact very destructive. I’m enraged to read about the burning of old Korans … Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs, Early Abstraction, Ethics of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

People or Things

I get very caught up in the news about iconoclasm and the destruction of culture. In one article, by the art critic of the Guardian, the stale claim that human life is worth more than culture is emphatically made. He … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fog of Art

I like a recent article by Hito Steyerl, especially this line: “Art is encryption as such, regardless of the existence of a message with a multitude of conflicting and often useless keys.” This is a little dose of aesthetics; abstraction … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Objectivity of Art

Recently a journalist has outed the legal identity of Italian author Elena Ferrante. There have been many critical responses to this piece of detective work. People are not happy. This is what Ferrante has to say about why she doesn’t … Continue reading

Posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment