28 February 2014

26 February 2014

Philip Guston on art #3

There are so many things in the world - in the cities - so much to see. Does art need to represent this variety and contribute to its proliferation? Can art be free? The difficulties begin when you understand what it is that the soul will not permit the hand to make.

25 February 2014

Philip Guston on art #2

          Tony Tuckson 1973 (Australia)
I do not think of modern art as Modern Art. The problem started long ago, 
and the question is:
Can there be any art at all? 
Maybe this is the content of modern art.

24 February 2014

Philip Guston

George Seurat, la Normandie

When the great Philip Guston speaks, I listen.

"Everyone destroys marvelous paintings. Five years ago you wiped out what you are about to start tomorrow. 

Where do you put form? It will move around, bellow out and shrink, and sometimes it winds up where it was in the first place. But at the end it feels different, and it had to make the voyage. I am a moralist and cannot accept what has not be paid for, or a form that has not been lived through.

Frustration is one of the great things in art; satisfaction is nothing."

(from an article which appeared in Art News Annual, XXXI. It is based on noted for a lecture the artist gave at the New York Studio School in 1965.)

22 February 2014

Lecture on Something, John Cage

Coming back to Eickhart, for the sake by the way of a brilliant conclusion, a tonic and dominant emphatic conclusion to this talk about something and nothing and how they need each other to keep going, as Eickhart says, "Earth (that is to say something) 'has no escape from heaven" (that is no-thing) "flee she up or flee she down heaven still invades her, energizing her, fructifying her, whether for her weal or for her woe.

from John Cage's talk Lecture on Something delivered at the "Club" NYC in February, 1951.

19 February 2014

Ai WeiWei, and the problem of the vase starring Tony Shafrazi!

One of these jars by Wei-Wei was smashed to the floor by an artist in Miami at the recently opened Pérez Museum. He (the perpetrator) spoke with a reporter for the New York Times. His grief, he claimed, was “for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here.” "Miami’s museums and galleries", he said, “have spent so many millions now on international artists,” without, in his view giving any attention to local talent.
“It’s the same political situation over and over again,” he told the newspaper. “I’ve been here for 30 years and it’s always the same.”

I will not mention his name so as not to add to his celebrity but to break a $1,000,000 vase by the leading contemporary Chinese artist Ai WeiWei is more than just chutzpah, as they say in New York. He goes even further and says, “I saw this as a provocation by Ai Weiwei, the artist/protester/vandalizer told the Miami New Times, "to join him in an act of performance protest,” Chutzpah, indeed!
(He was referring to WeiWei's famous work entitled  “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn,”  wherein WeiWei destroys a priceless Han urn, "to make a point about valuation of art and everyday objects as well as the fragility of cultural objects".
Its an interesting theory but it usually plays out to be more a move to generate publicity for the author of the defacement in question. Think of Tony Shafrazi, who in 1974, took a can of red paint and sprayed Picasso's infamous Guernica with large lettering: "KILL THE LIES ALL". Grabbed later by a MOMA guard he shouted: "Call the curator, I am an artist".
He was, of course, arrested but he did get off with a slap on the wrist. This is the new American paradigm, (but soon to be world-wide, if it isn't already). Shafrazy is now a wealthy gallery owner, and also a heavyweight on the Contemporary Art scene.

And, this latest act of defacement will feed conversations at dinner parties from London to Los Angeles, (briefly maybe) but it's the discussion which nobody wants to have:
'What is it really worth: this thing called CONTEMPORARY ART?' 
While all the big guys (and gals) play musical chairs, it's under the table where one finds the elephant in the room.

Speaking of all these vases, it's made me think of this one from a recent post. If it was broken in this fashion my heart would have been shattered.

15 February 2014

for Joyce

Before dying
The very last email
Is sent.

14 February 2014

Forrest Bess

I am wild about these images. I am only a little familiar with his work, having seen a show many years ago. At that time I remember being so flummoxed by the paintings that I really was thrown off balance. I found them strangely beautiful, and do today even more. Isn't that really what art is for? Isn't it to show us something coherent and yet strange at the same time? I imagine that this painter is in possession of the necessary artistic means (writers call this craft) to take the viewer somewhere mysterious in ourselves. What that is, or where, I cannot say.

I am re-reading Stanley Fish's book How to Write a Sentence. I often read what writers say about  their craft because what they are after is what I am after in painting. And, of course, I don't mean airport books. Writers write about the craft of writing, but painters rarely write about the craft of painting because they are not writers. There are great exceptions: Delacroix, Van Gogh, (I have read both) Motherwell, Klee (which I haven't read) among others. But painters paint, they don't usually write about the experience. And, if they do, I am always cautious. 

From Stanley Fish who writes:
-sentences... are discrete instances of what Walter Pater sought in art, experiences of brilliant intensity that promise "nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass and simply for those moments' sake -

Who could describe art more succinctly? 

Fish cites another wonderful example of craft at its best:

'Almost anyone can read with pleasure the sentence in which John Updike tells us what it was like to see Ted Williams hit a home run in his last at bat in Fenway Park on September 28, 1960:
It was in the books while it was still in the sky.

How can one make paintings like this?

09 February 2014


Where there's Buddha,
There's people
And flies.

(merci Issa pour l'idée)