Friday AND Wednesday.

Apologies if you looked for something here Wed.

Edward Hopper 22 July 1882 – 15 May 1967.

Considered one of the Masters of 20th century American Painting he was not initially successful in the ‘fine arts’. Although he studied in Paris in 1906, 1909, and 1910 and worked as a commercial illustrator he did not sell anything in exhibition until his second show, of etchings and watercolours, in 1924; it sold out.

Critics and art historians insist he was painting the isolation of the individual within America’s rapidly progressing society. Hopper himself says “My aim in painting has always been the exact transcription of my most intimate impressions of nature …”

Many of his images have become iconic.

What is he saying to YOU?


New York Movie

Morning Sun

“Edward Hopper: A Modern Master” Ita G. Berkow

“Edward Hopper: A Catalogue Raisonne” Gail Levin

National Gallery of Art


Another Monday.

Seemed like I had too much Impressionism on my mind (art done before my current lifetime) when I recalled some things I witnessed emerging. As I was in art school on the East coast in the 60’s I would often visit New York City. Here is where Pop Art was born and the entire ‘Art Scene’ was being revised by artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, &c.

Whether I was in the uptown galleries, midtown museums, or the hole-in-the-walls in the Village I was eye exercising. There was no disciplined appreciation for me. I hadn’t yet learned what art is, though I thought I was an ‘artist’. What I used as my criterion of appreciation was the ‘I like it, I don’t like it’ method of judgement. And this was weighted by how much I liked it or how much I didn’t like it. This had some merit because it was based on my reaction to the piece, but I couldn’t articulate the reaction without the base of ‘what is it saying to ME’ and ‘can I contribute’. I was often left with “well it must be ‘good’ because I can’t stand it”; rather than being able to say “this speaks to me of how crude and cruel misunderstandings can be in life” because I haven’t a clue what that is I’m looking at and it is so well executed.

For me, and my growth as an artist and appreciator, the ‘what is it saying to ME’ and ‘can I contribute’ criteria of criticism made all the difference. I had a yardstick that told me when a piece I was producing was finished and allowed me to be able to say why and how I liked or didn’t like what someone else had produced.

Anyway, I enjoy John’s execution what I perceive as a well controlled sloppines. Warhol’s work left me emotionally cold and I used to feel it was too mechanical, though today I see, in historical context, (got to love that 20/20 hindsight and history) he was beating against the bastion of abstractionism and helping to bring representation back to art. What I get from Rauschenberg is how objects can be repurposed and redefined by context, ala Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’. Having recently seen some new Rauschenberg this is still true, it made me chuckle.

I may be away from the drawing table because I want to find show some supporting examples of this viewpoint, until next time.

<politics> Will I ever get my fill of politics? Not at this rate. </politics>

Old? French art.

“Monet and the Impressionists” by Patrick Bade. This is an impressive book, if only for the hundreds of reproductions. Though fairly recent, published in 2003, it suffers from poor colour reproduction most probably because of its Chinese printers. But then unless you are in the Musee d’Orsay or the Louvre you will not be seeing the work in true colour regardless of the printer. (not to slight the Art Institute in Chicago or New Yorks Met or any other collection of Impressionist work)

The legend goes that the term Impressionist comes from critic Louis Leroy’s remarks about Monet’s 1872 painting “Impression: Sunrise”. Exhibited at the studio of the photographer Nadar at 35 boulevard des Capucines, Paris, April 15, 1874; this was a ‘Realist Salon’ in the tradition of the Salon des Refuses of the 1860’s that included Monet, Degas, Sisley, Renoir, Pissarro, Morisot, Boudin, and Cezanne. Interestingly Edouard Manet, considered a premier Impressionist, never exhibited in an official Impressionist show.

Bade breaks the book into 14 chapters, Background, Techniques, the Artists, and then various categories of type of image, with a very brief write up at the start of the chapter. The heart of this book is the wealth of reproductions. Some fine ones from the ‘Portraits’ chapter include Renoir’s 1874 ‘Charles Le Coeur’, Cezanne’s 1866 ‘Scipio the Negro’, and Monet’s 1871 ‘Madame Monet on the Sofa’. A nourishing visual treat.

Todays art.

I’m late today because I got into a political email with my sister and had to pull my head back into art.

Got a couple of things framed yesterday. This is good. I make myself stop fiddling with a piece after I’ve signed it, but until I get a frame on it it’s not done. I can’t exchange it. That’s what it’s all about, exchange.

Also have done some smaller work recently (10×12 – 11×14) and was pleased by the results; usually I work at 18×24.

It’s invigorating to see, in the galleries, an increase in ‘representational’ work. I like to think artists today have come to grips enough with ‘new media’ and lens based images (David Hockney “Secret Knowledge”) that the ‘need’ for abstraction is less immediate. Of course based on ‘what is this piece saying to ME’ and ‘does it let me contribute’ abstract is well established as art.

Maybe I’ll pull a couple of things out from under the drawing table and dust them off; until next time.

Art today?

Was thinking about the contribute/communicate aspect of art. What is this piece saying to ME? Then I happened to hear about a freelance designer and video editor who does ‘lifecasting’.

So I went over to this site and spent almost an hour clicking through the directory looking at various ‘lifecasters’. I would say probably 80% of the sites I looked at said they were artists or art students of some flavor. But nearly everyone had their webcam sitting on the monitor and were just sitting at their computer typing, so I’m watching someone type or mouse. This is art? Maybe I can makeup some back story for these people.

The sky over Ciba was its usual gunmetal grey and we see newbu637(not really) who just made it back to the flat from the streets. S/He is winded from having to sprint past the —, who were out in force and taking no prisoners. Ah yes, much better than looking at sheila637(not really) just typing/mousing.So now my commentary is the art that newbu637 contributed to.

This is no critique of lifecasting, I don’t feel I have enough information yet to have an opinion. One actually has to know something about something to have a valid opinion. Example; do you feel the Conchoid of de Sluze is flavorful, important, or useless? Unless you knew this is the plotted curve of an equation that looks like a shell, studied by René François Walter, baron de Sluze, you couldn’t say if it was flavorful or not (I did not provide a link because I couldn’t find one that simply said ‘plotted curve’ without all the math attached). I leave to you your opinion of its usefulness.

Here’s some <politics>Bruce Schneier</politics>

I should chain myself to the drawing table, till next time.

Some art today.

Been looking through a book of old Francesco Scavullo photos; Scavullo: Francesco Scavullo Photographs 1948-1984. I was interested in how he got a high contrast look with single source flat lighting.

I had the idea, I think from a professor at my first university, that magazine fashion was the ‘bleeding edge’ of mainstream photography. (just where is that on the ‘hip’ scale?) Anyway I would flip through Harpers and Vanity Fair, Vouge and Cosmo. Rarely did I find anything I would use in my own work, but it is a good exercise in ‘eye’. When I was doing professional photography, in the late 70’s – early 80’s, I was looking for a long tonal range lower contrast in my work. Probably I imagined myself an Ansel Adams for dancers and actors.

Scavullo’s portraits were also an eye exercise. Here was a person, someone you likely would never meet, and cropped so tightly in an environment of seamless, yet Scavullo got you (me anyway) to think you knew something about this person from looking at this photo. For me this is where the art is in his work. He was communicating something, whether it was true was irrelevant, about this person.

It is the feeling of connection, communication between the veiwer and the work, that is the defining factor in art. Next time you’re at the gallery or museum go past the ‘I like it / don’t like it’ and ask ‘what is the piece saying to me’, if anything. What can I contribute to the piece. You’re not looking to figure out ‘what the artist is trying to say’. This is just a simple exercise in ‘what is this piece saying to ME’.

I want to have figured out how to get images up in this thing real soon now. So if I’m not in the server closet I’ll be at the drawing table, till next time.

Politics? What did you do with the art?

Seeing the Samizdata bloggers Monday night being “politically incorrect”(no link; that’s not my point) I got to thinking about what is this ‘politically correct/incorrect’.

<politics>It’s the idea that you shouldn’t do or say anything that will “offend” someone’s sensibilities. Well TOOOO BAAAAD!

I remember in the “old days” (because I’m an old man) we would even sometimes do and say the ‘politically incorrect’ simply because it was. But it literally wasn’t, because the buzzword hadn’t been invented yet. What it was was being real and honest about what you wanted to say or do. And if it hurt somebodies feelings accept the consequences, but tell them to grow up and grow some skin.

Richard X. Nixon’s VP, Spiral Agnew, used to say the word ‘hippies’ with an inflection and tone that you knew meant he was really saying “#%@&* worthless, dirty pile of *&@%#”. So we always called ourselves hippies.

Though I never felt the least affection for Nelson Rockefeller, I still chuckle when I think of the photo of him, when VP of the U.S., flipping the bird at some hecklers. He at least was being honest and accepted the consequences. His justification was he was responding in kind, well good for him.

A lot of lip service is given to the ‘freedoms’ we have in this country (while Bush etc. keep making them harder to find). Free speech happens to be one of those freedoms, in fact it is actually a right guaranteed by the Constitution. I think we need to take a good hard look around and in ourselves and see if we, you and I, really do grant these freedoms and rights to everybody. I’m not saying like it or agree with it, only grant others their rights.

Don’t even start about ‘hate speech’ and ‘intolerant speech’ etc. That is just cowardly bigoted whining, because the whiner doesn’t believe EVERYBODY has inalienable rights under our Constitution. There are laws that cover inciting activity, use them. Not this lawsuit, court clogging, lawyer enriching, mania that seems to be sweeping the courts.

It’s a sad and sorry state of affairs that these days you better not even make a “politically incorrect” joke because somebody will whine. And then you have to apologize because the whiner may sue you. I’m sorry Jerry, you got more press for using the word “faggot” then for raising 64 million dollars to help kids who have Muscular Dystrophy. I’m sorry that people can’t grow up and see beyond their own ‘inbred’ belief system, f* ’em if they can’t take a joke.</politics>

Here’s another beaut from the NYT. What does that dusty old document say about “…shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”?

Boy, sure spewed a bit. Art on Friday, promise.