Thursday, 31 October 2013

On the Defense of Blue Stuff

Reading about Yellowism made me think of Yves Klein's International Klein Blue (though International Klein Blue has more to do with blue than Yellowism has to do with yellow). This video homage to Yves Klein Blue by Jason Judd made me laugh. Nice work.

On the Defense of Yellow Stuff

Until I read this passionate defense of Yellowism by Calum Rodger, I did not know anything about the Yellowist movement.

[Image: Paul Cézanne's 'The Card Players', a version of the most valuable painting on earth today, valued at between US$250,000,000 and US$300,000,000.]

Sunday, 27 October 2013

On the Treachery of Images

J.S.G. Boggs is a contemporary artist who has carved out an interesting niche for himself. He specializes in making drawings that look (very much) like real money, and exchanging them at face value in commercial transactions. For example, he has used a drawing of a US$1000 bill to buy a three dollar hamburger, receiving US$997 in real money (insofar as American money still is real, in these days of imminent US bankruptcy) as change. The extra-interesting twist is that Boggs' work is usually worth far more to his collectors than the face-value of its denomination. A Boggs bill with a $10 'face value' might sell for more than a thousand ('real') dollars on the open market. Although he has had a little trouble with counterfeiting charges, he has generally avoided them since he never pretends that his drawings are real money, only draws one side, and usually includes obvious changes from the real bill into his drawings. He has made his living from this art form for many decades. You can read more about Boggs here, at the on-line Duchampian journal, Tout-fait.

[Image: René Magritte's La trahison des images]

Sunday, 20 October 2013

On Remaking Duchamp's Readymade

I like this re-make of Duchamp's Fountain,  entitled Nouveau Rendez-vous (New Meeting) by contemporary French artist Jerome Pierre, who has a lot of Duchampian-inspired pieces on his website.

Friday, 18 October 2013

On The Rape of the Sabines

This painting, The Rape Of The Sabines, by Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) has always seemed powerful to me. In part this is because I had a friend named Sabine when I first paid attention to it, and I knew no other meaning of the word than that it was a woman’s first name. I wondered if all the women allegedly being raped could possibly be named Sabine. Youth is difficult.

In fact (and now I speak with the full authority of Wikipedia) the Sabines were a tribe from whom the Romans abducted wives in 750 BCE, as attested to by, e.g. both Livy and Plutarch. The women in the painting weren’t actually being raped in the modern sense of the word, but in the old sense of the word, when rape (from the Latin root raptio meaning a large-scale abduction of women, as any careful reader of Wikipedia already knows) meant...well, yeah, a large-scale abduction of women. Like Wikipedia said.

Despite my confusion about the victims and my early visual confirmation of the lack of any partially naked women in the painting (and by no means implying either that rape and sex have anything more to do with each other than that a woman must be partially naked or that violent mass abduction is in itself just an enjoyable spectator sport), this is an exciting and great painting. You’ll know why if you go to the Louvre: this sucker is 1.6 metres by 2 metres (Americans: that’s really big for an oil painting).


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

On A Dozen New Episodes of 'Breaking Bad'

[All these synopses were randomly-generated by my freeware text generation program, JanusNode. Sorry, there are no more actual episodes of the fabulous TV show, Breaking Bad.]
----- ----- -----
Lydia Rodarte-Quayle unexpectedly discovers that her old school buddy Jesus has just hired a new meth cook: Saul Goodman. At the same time, Hank Schrader has fallen in love with Badger. Sponsored by Ripley's 'Believe It Or Not'.
Saul Goodman and Todd decide to blackmail Mike Ehrmantraut. Skinny Pete locks Mike Ehrmantraut into an organ donation container. Loosely based on the life of Bob Dylan.
Steven Gomez and Marie Schrader meet in an airplane to discuss what to do about Gustavo Fring. Much to Walter White's surprise, Lydia Rodarte-Quayle hits Badger with a weapon carefully built using a piece of enamel screwed onto a piece of pine. Viewer discretion advised.
Lydia Rodarte-Quayle unexpectedly discovers that her lover Ronnie has been accused of murdering Lydia Rodarte-Quayle. Meanwhile, some shady characters with federal government connections are asking questions about Lydia Rodarte-Quayle's income. Thanks to this masterful cast, the plot plays out better than it sounds.
Walter White is surprised to learn that his old school buddy Otto is having sex with Skyler White. Meanwhile, Jesse Pinkman decides that it is necessary to kill Hank Schrader. Episode title: Exploding Heroine.
Walter White, Junior and Walter White decide to start selling rosemary together. Much to Walter White's surprise, Lydia Rodarte-Quayle hits Steven Gomez with a weapon that Gretchen Schwartz has constructed using woven hair. Episode title: Culminating Synchronizing Pawn.
Skyler White unexpectedly discovers that her colleague Cody has accidentally injured Marie Schrader. Meanwhile, Skyler White threatens Walter White's bottom. Gratuitous nudity adds little to this lacklustre work.
Marie Schrader unexpectedly discovers that her lover Freddy is suing Skyler White. Meanwhile, Saul Goodman locks Mike Ehrmantraut into a canoe. Chaos ensues.
In this surprising episode, Gretchen Schwartz and Marie Schrader decide to start selling crystal meth together. Much to Mike Ehrmantraut's surprise, Badger is planning to kill Todd. Episode title: Fen-sucked Swooning Dandelions.
Marie Schrader unexpectedly discovers that her father-in-law Doyle has recently had drunken sex with Skyler White. At the same time, Badger starts studying genderization. Loosely based on the works of Oprah Winfrey.
Gustavo Fring is surprised to learn that his mate Ernest already knows Skyler White. Much to Gustavo Fring's surprise, Gustavo Fring reluctantly decides that it is necessary to kill Gustavo Fring. Episode title: Stealing Dill.
Skyler White is surprised to learn that her sweet lover Josh has a new meth cook: his eager neighbour, Sheree. Skyler White starts studying atheism. Great art direction.

Monday, 14 October 2013

On Charging To See Graffiti

Although this story of people charging other people to see a Banksy graffito is amusing in itself, the comments are perhaps the most interesting part, for several reasons. Some of the comments suggest that the people charging to view Banksy's alleged work (one of whom exclaims: "I could step on this shit; it don't matter to me") may in fact be part of Banksy's art. I would go further and say: even if they were not intended by the artist to be part of it, they are part of it now.

 Duchamp would surely have approved of this intertwining of art and non-art, so close that you cannot even see the seams.

[Via BoingBoing]

Sunday, 13 October 2013

On Art As A Urinal

"When you stand close to 'beauty and truth', you realize it's just a bunch of old carved stone that some drunk fucker or gypsy has pissed on." Todd Babiak / Come Barbarians, p. 75

Perhaps Duchamp's most famous piece is his (1917) Fountain. This is the first work of his I ever heard of. It was featured in an anarchist calendar someone gave me when I was in my teens (and therefore, of course, an anarchist). Duchamp bought an ordinary urinal from a plumbing supply store (J.L. Mott Iron Works on Fifth Avenue in New York, if you're a details guy), signed it 'R. Mutt' and submitted it an exhibition organized by the Society of Independent Artists, who had agreed to show every piece submitted. They did not exhibit R. Mutt's urinal. Duchamp and his collector friend Walter Arensburg both resigned from the
Society of Independent Artists in protest. 

As my narrator Isaac put it succinctly in my novel: "Chaos and modern art ensued."

Saturday, 5 October 2013

On The Importance of Framing Things

The frame in art is a fantastic innovation. Presumably before the frame there was just stuff. People before the frame took things (I speculate freely) just for what they were.

The frame is a magnifying glass, a punctuation mark, an augmentive. It is a technology for sharing attention, sharing ideas. It invites viewers to linger carefully on something very particular. Anything deliberately (or, indeed, randomly) framed becomes imbued with more meaning than it had before framing. A framed leaf is not like a leaf fallen on the ground. The frame invites the viewer to consider the leaf, the worlds of all leaves, the universe of things leaves might make us think of, to meditate on all this, to understand the leaf as something more than just organic trash on the ground.

Framing anything augments that thing and makes its better, by reminding us to augment that thing and make it better.

[Image by Spanish artist Lorenzo Durán ]