19 December 2014

What's up for one more day, v. XIX

If one is out and about this Saturday in Manhattan one of the all-time Chelsea-in-December lineups is mostly winding up, and in this case the Clemente and Rauch shows have left me puzzled enough to make for one of my last minute notices.  The Francesco Clemente shows especially have had a personal and formative effect on me and I will post on them again some time during the run of the Rubin show (til Feb 2), but for now know that the Rubin is free Friday nights, but as there are often lectures in the Clemente Temple then, paying admission on a weekday is often quieter.  It and Clemente's Two Tents at Mary Boone 24th St, ending Saturday, are revisitations of the period of Clemente's life when he lived in Chennai in India's Tamil Nadu, holed up in the Theophilosophical Society library, creating works on handmade paper of the ashram in Pondicherry while his lifelong strategies of representation were formed amid sacred art and secular posters. The tents are based on tourist tents located on the edge of the Thar desert outside Jaisalmer in Rajastan, mostly middle class camps where local and international package tourists are treated to camel rides and garish musical numbers, a genre intended to be seen in darkness or minimal light and at varied states of wakefulness.  The two tents are the Devil's Tent, where a figure resembling the Planter's Peanut guy or the New Yorker guy with a monocle acts out colonial repression amid some Moloch-like figures, and the Angel's Tent, where Clemente's sentiments towards the earth, body, are spirit are represented, along with works on paper inspired by Mughal miniatures.

I was a bit disappointed by the last Neo Rauch show at Zwirner while finding the previous one seminal; this one I liked the first time and more the second - it is truly one for the ages which one should see if possible. 'Hüter der Nacht' is perhaps the most thematically representative in the show, in that it portrays the recurring male in the sickbed being approached by the female assuming an aquatic figure, which, in other works, appears to suggest (though nothing is ever for certain in Rauchland) Melusine and/or the mermaid found in German folk tales and literature.  Ellis Dye writes of Goethe's references to Melusine "in all these cases the destination is an exotic elsewhere, and in each case transliminal communication takes place. Woman - she who lacks boundaries - is the agent of such border crossings.. a vessel of mixing, mingling and transformation."  'Skulpteurin' comes closest to Goethe's Melusine-as-dwarf theme, with gender inversions of the Pygmalian theme; 'Marina' (above) depicts the Melusine/ Mermaid figure as a crucifix, with a mermaid in the background spatially coming from its back shoulder. In the large 'Der Blaue Fisch' (below), the female in red emerges from the guts of a large fish found by a team of men in a canal, reminding me of Breton's 'Melusina no longer under the burden of the fate unleashed on her by men alone, Melusina rescued, Melusina before the scream that will announce her return, because that scream would not have been heard if it hadn't been reversible, like the stone of the Apocalypse and like all things' in Arcanum 17.

If on 24th St for Clemente at Boone this Saturday, Dionisio González' photos of architectural structures resembling the Jetsons' Googie house on stilts deteriorating in isolation in natural settings in Spain and Alabama is at Galerie Richard (514 w 24th) one more day; here the thumbnails are some consolation for not seeing the show but the color prints from the Inter-Acciones series are large scale.  Also up one more day are Nathan Lyons photos at 535 w 24th, Ahmed Alsoudani's paintings at 515 w 24th, and Sigmar Polke's manipulations of photocopies at Fergus McCaffrey, 514 w 26th St.

Ending later in Chelsea are Louise Bourgeois' suspended works at 547 w 25th (til Jan 10) and the two Picasso shows: John Richardson's Gagosian Picasso and the Camera at 522 w 21st (til Jan 3) and Pace's answer, focusing on the period with his last wife Jacqueline, including a room of variations on "Les Femmes d’Alger d’après Delacroix” that Picasso enthusiasts should try to get to (til Jan 10).

30 October 2014

What's up for two more days, I mean no yes two days and an hour or so, v. XI and/or XII

“Café Deutschland VI – Caféprobe (Café Deutschland VI – Café-Rehearsal)”, 1980

This year's presentation of late 70s- early80s Café Deutschland paintings by Jörg Immendorff, long represented by Michael Werner (4 East 77th, through 1 November), closes less than a week before David Zwirner's new opening of Neo Rauch, who has stated his admiration for Immendorff's series which made waves in Germany when Rauch was in art school.  I don't know if those selecting the works intended this, but compositional strategies and characters in the canvases in the show reminded me of some in Rauch's, while flags emptied of meaning found in Rauch, who grew up in the GDR, were an early theme of Immendorff the West German.

Immendorf has said that the Café Deutschland series was born when he saw Renato Guttuso's Caffè Greco in reproduction (above) and then in person in Cologne.  Guttuso's early works were realist protests during the Fascist era of Italy, after which he placed mythological themes in contemporary settings, a technique de Chirico used to channel Böcklin.  Caffè Greco was painted in 1976, when de Chirico was living next door to the 18th Century café which has welcomed Goethe, Byron, and Stendhal, so Guttuso would see him, and, on one occasion, Buffalo Bill there, as well as I suppose Gide, seen in the central foreground, while Duchamp's arm holding a cigar may be a reference to what the owner of the arm called "the fourth dimension," and Picasso's neo-Classical Dora Maar across the room from the Torso of Belvedere would similarly relate to Guttuso's stylistic affinities.  The figure wearing sunglasses to the right of Gide is from de Chirico's portrait of Apollinaire (below), said to suggest the blindness of the seer.  Regardless of how one views de Chirico's late work, incorporating theatricality and open-ended time-images quoting the classical era, Guttuso's dual portrait reflects the inclination of many to separate the phases of de Chirico's work, of his youth "the nostalgia of the infinite" as he prophesized in one of his titles which is represented here visually.

Guttuso's portrait of de Chirico in a known place is not in accord with de Chirico's representation of the Stimmung of imagined places drawn from his readings of Nietzsche, Otto Weininger, and the Schopenhauer who wrote "this pure and objective Stimmung of the soul is encouraged and determined by encounters with external objects" and, though a respite from the political content of Guttuso's early work, paved the way for Immendorff to set an eternal present of political imagery in such a place.  As Husserl, whom I'm not aware of de Chirico reading, described the primary emotional experience of objects and of time, de Chirico's canvases would seem to be set more in emotional recesses than his successors though he included clocks in his locales, perhaps referencing the Stimmung of afternoons, in canvases like The Melancholy of Departure, The Philosopher's Conquest (below) and The Soothsayer's Recompense.  Rauch's work thereafter would vary the locales in accord with emotional imperatives as well as adding personae from sociological observation.  Political content is more universally recognizable than emotional content, as humans can be estranged from even their own emotional memories, as I've indicated may be increasingly the case with Rauch as it was with de Chirico.

25 October 2014

Un sirventes novel vueill comensar,
que retrairai al jor del jujamen
a sel que.m fes e.m formet de nien.
S'el me cuja de ren arazonar
e s'el me vol metre en la diablia
ieu li dirai: "Seinher, merce, non sia!
Qu'el mal segle tormentiei totz mos ans.
E guardas mi, si.us plas, dels tormentans."

I want to start a new poem
which I will recite on the day of judgement
to him who created me and formed me from nothingness.
If he wants to ask me to give account of anything
and if he wants to put me among the devils
I will say to him: 'Lord have mercy, don't do such a thing!
For in this evil world I spent my life tormenting myself.
If it please you, then, keep me from tormentors..'  

(Pèire Cardenal, c. 1180 – c. 1278, 'Un sirventese novel vueill comensar..')

24 August 2014

What's up for five more days

Many of Chelsea's doors are locked not because it's summer, but since Cheim & Read has Joan Mitchell's Trees what's the point? I have been reading about Riopelle: her earlier paintings here, with him in Vétheuil in the Île-de-France, frame the trees more closely, while the paintings from the early 90s, well after her split with Riopelle and deteriorating health are of orchards from a distance. Riopelle railed against symbolic content, Mitchell was against the Exressionists, calling Willem de Kooning an Expressionist, saying she has more kinship with the Impressionists. Riopelle thought the Impressionists were "cheats" but that Van Gogh was the "extension" of the history of Dutch painting. The Île-de-France inspires a war with Van Gogh, whom Artaud called "bodily the battlefield of.. the problem of the predominance of flesh over spirit, or of body over flesh, or of spirit over both.." with Monet near by. Provence gets you Van Gogh and Cezanne: Picasso holed himself up there to do battle with Manet and Velazquez; Kiefer ties the landscape in to controversial aspects of German history. Mitchell admired Van Gogh a great deal, and would, like him and not Riopelle, call herself spiritual. The show revolves around two paintings of cypresses, the first from '64 can't be reproduced (hence this note). Riopelle said "I don't take anything from Nature, I move into Nature." (which Mitchell doesn't like capitalized, saying "Larry Rubin [William Rubin’s brother] kicked me out because Greenberg 'dropped me.' Because Greenberg said, 'Get rid of that gestural horror.'")


13 August 2014

Joseph Cornell, Lauren Bacall box, 1946

08 August 2014

A few weeks ago I became aware of the pronouncement in The Boston Review, which I don't read, that "To confront, reinvigorate, and complicate the conversation about class in contemporary poetics, we are launching a poetry forum with this capacious essay by Daniel Tiffany." They could start by checking the attributions on the quotations and paraphrasing.  I just checked to see if I had forgotten some point that Margaret Cohen made and I hadn't..  I will leave this up here briefly...

"Tiffany cites Margaret Cohen's writings on Gothic Marxism and then moves on to the unattributed conclusion "..not only must the working class destroy itself, but it cannot become fully conscious of itself until it does so."  This is made to sound like a paraphrasing of Cohen's writings on the topic, but nowhere does she make that statement directly or indirectly.  The quotation cited to explain Cohen's concept of Gothic Marxism in the previous paragraph is not Cohen's, but an unattributed passage from David Arnold's Poetry and Language Writing.  Whether this conclusion bears some relation to Tiffany's reading of Gáspár Miklós Tamás or his own wish-fulfillment is unclear, but it is essential that Cohen's sentiments not be so misrepresented by someone cutting, pasting, and stringing together logical constructions about a class culture and tradition apparently alien to him."

02 August 2014

Your commentary is lowercase and not italicized

Susan Sontag: "Let the atrocious images haunt us. Even if they are only tokens, and cannot possibly encompass most of the reality to which they refer; they still perform a vital function. The images say: This is what human beings are capable of doing – may volunteer to do, enthusiastically, self-righteously. Don’t forget."

Sontag also may have helped prompt Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz' fresh attack on Ginsberg and the Beats in 1988 by, as president of PEN American Center, signing Ginsberg's letter in support of Palestinian press freedoms, or maybe, since Norm doesn't confide these things to me, it was Ginsberg going to a Tel Aviv protest to read "Jawah and Allah Battle" that year including the line "Commentary and Palestine Review sent me here!", or maybe it was only a matter of literary taste, as beforeGinsberg's response was classic:

Good old Norman Podhoretz. If he weren't there like a wall I can butt my head against, I wouldn't have anyone to hate. And why hate him? He's part of my world, and he's sort of like the character the Blue Meanie.. did I ever really hate him or was I just sort of fascinated by him? I saw him as a sort of sacred personage in my life, in a way; someone whose vision is so opposite from mine that it's provocative and interesting - just as my vision is provocative and interesting enough for him to write columns against in the newspaper. In fact, maybe he's more honest than I am because he attacks me openly. So I should really respect him as one of the sacred personae in the drama of my own transitory experience.

Norm's son, a marital relative of Elliott Abrams, took over Commentary in 2009...

"Sam, I thought I told you never to.."

25 July 2014

What's up

NYC: MoMA's retrospective of Lygia Clark includes her 1968 installation 'The House is the Body' (right), in a way the quintessential Penetrable of the era, wherein one walks into the "Penetration" room as a sperm in a room full of balloons, of which my body mass caused many to escape into the "Ovulation" room until you get into a "Expulsion" room of yarn and mirrors disfiguring your image. Roberta Smith's dismissively calling the work "laughable" in the NY Times is an example of how some of the critical support for amiable folks like Donald Judd like Smith's only drags the artists down by creating an either/or that the they didn't choose. Smith, first of all, accuses the work of lacking verisimilitude as a representation of a woman's experience of childbirth without taking the time to read the card next to it that explains it's not about that, accuses the curators of letting it be "reverentially presented by itself on the fourth floor" in a "Lygia, is that her name? She left this in the hall where the guests can see it" sort of way, then concludes a review untroubled by the historical tradition she is supposed to be writing about by suggesting, perhaps after a midtown lunch spent slapping together a few paragraphs complaining it didn't agree with the Minimalist theory she picked up at the Whitney, that going through it again with the audio guide makes her like it a bit more. Clark was not only making geometric sculptures long before Judd began to, but when Judd made his first sculptures she had already moved onto her tactile works that allowed the visitor to partially 'manipulate' them, to use a term from Oiticica's 1974 "New Objectivity" manifesto which contrasts the Supersensorial works from what he terms the 'semantic' reception of Minimalist sculpture, "to 'communicate' something which.. is fundamental.. large-scale, not for an elite reduced to 'experts,' but even 'against' this elite, with the proposition of unfinished, 'open' works." Could Ariella Burdick at Financial Times reasonably be called an expert? "The encounter group meets the neo-primitive ritual, giving birth, as it were, to a groovy mysticism. That shaggy ethos has not aged well and, like almost everything else in this arid show, seems almost brutally dated." At FT the groovy Sixties were spent intentionally misreporting the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the wars and military governments to follow, which has aged so well that James Petras said a few months ago "The Financial Times should change its name to the Military Times."

The starting point of South American Constructivism is Argentina after the Revolution of '43 freed expression slightly, followed by architectural works that complimented the economic expansion in Venezuela during the Pérez Jiménez dictatorship of the 50's, art more to the liking of FT than the influential critic Marta Traba (1974) "it is true that I deem the Venezuelan kinetic art (I am referring to.. geometric abstraction, Concrete art..) to be a sort of official art that has proved convenient for the ruling classes and the economic powers since it caters as much to their ideology as to their snobbery. It is true that I have repeated and hammered this incessantly, in an open campaign, because I believe that in our countries ideas can no longer be solely expressed, instead they have to be fought for tooth and nail so some minimal attention can be devoted to them. this does not mean that I have stopped appreciating kinetic art.. my openly admitted admiration for.. [Donald] Judd should prove this.. In this space odyssey (of the ruling classes representation of progress) it is obvious that the present is being erased, with increasing force, and the contempt for the past is constantly growing... a society that embarks on such comic book futurism disconnects itself from its problems, and that nothing could be more convenient for its rulers than the projection of their people onto the backdrop of the future, where everything enters a context as Utopian as it is harmless."

Fernando Guillar's 1959 Neo-Concrete Manifesto cited Merleau-Ponty's denunciation of "the concrete rationalists who still think of human beings as machines.." to say "We do not think of art as a 'machine' or as an 'object,' but as a quasi-corpus' (quasi-body).. which can be only understood phenomenologically.. a work of art transcends mechanical space.." paving the way for Oiticica, Clark, and Lygia Pape's Sensorial works of the mid-60s. The point of departure of Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception is his exposition of "Sensation" which Husserl set forth in 1907's Thing and Space, both phenomenologists prioritizing tactile sense perceptions; in 1965 Clark writes about her Bichos ("Beasts" as imperfectly translated, metal sculptures the spectator is encouraged to touch, pictured left) "a total, existential relationship can be established between you and him." Both Husserl and Merleau-Ponty studied Buddhism and were likely influenced by the discourses in the Brahmajala Sutta when Buddha describes "the relishing of sensations, the danger of them, the release from them." In the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, as described by William Hart "four dimensions of reality are common to every human being: the physical aspects of body and sensation, the psychic aspects of mind and its content. They provide.. the four vantage points for observing the human phenomenon." All four dimensions are covered in Phenomenology of Perception, which cites the Existentialist Heidegger (student of Husserl's) in support of his assertions while quibbling with Heidegger's notion of time and conveniently ignoring Sein und Dasein.

Her son's film O Mundo de Lygia Clark documents her movement into interactive works in which the viewer becomes a participant, which began around the time of the Bichos and continued for three decades while she would "abandon" art for long stretches of time to practice therapy. In the MoMA show, which employs "facilitators" to enact and at times invite visitors to join in, the film is shown in fragments in on different walls and I first saw the footage of her walking on the beach before the show opened and was much entranced. The device at 2:00 is a tube that you are to twist into a circle and hold where it is joined so that the air can go in and out. At 3:30 is the rock on top of an inflated plastic bag that is to suggest pregnancy when held against the chest amongst other things. At 5:00 is the sensorial work "Cannibal" (c. 1973) in which the blindfolded participants eat fruit out of the pocket of someone lying on the ground, mindful of Oswald de Andrade's 1928 essay "Cannibal Manifesto." "..they who came were not crusaders. The were fugitives from a civilization that we are devouring.. In order to transform them into totem." At 8:30 is a plastic bag full of water and small shells which was made available in the Cullen Education Center. I was told it was good to put over the ear, and indeed it was as I liked to bend sideways at the waist with the sound of the shells sliding back and forth above it. From 13:30 for a few minutes is 1974's "Elastic Net." At 24:50 is "Anthropophagic slobber."

As Claude Lévi-Strauss' 1949 essay "The Effectiveness of Symbols" compares the work of a shaman and a psychoanalyst, the therapeutic methods of Clark, who lived in Paris after 1968, resemble those of Lévi-Strauss' shamans: "The shaman plays the same dual role as the psychoanalyst. A prerequisite role - that of the listener for the psychoanalyst and of orator for the shaman - establishes a direct relationship with the patient's conscious and an indirect relationship with the unconscious.. The patient suffering from neurosis eliminates an individual myth by facing a 'real' psychoanalyst; the native woman in childbed overcomes a true organic disorder by identifying with a 'mythically transmuted' shaman.. the shamanic cure seems to be the exact counterpart to the psychoanalytic cure, but with an inversion of all the elements.. in one case, the patient constructs an individual myth with elements drawn from his past; in the other case, the patient receives from the outside a social myth which does not correspond to a former personal state.. the psychoanalyst listens, whereas the shaman speaks." The shamans' use of a synthetic rather than analytical mode resembles the literary workshops of Bhanu Kapil, heavily influenced by Clark, and CA Conrad, who occasionally recounts his considerable childhood trauma but pursues what could be called mythic transmutations in groups, setting aside his often thoughtful, original literary analysis for other times. Clark mostly created these relational works in solitude, one of the reasons they appear incongruous to socialized behavior, though many of the ideas acted on came through the pipeline of her artistic milieu, and the synthetic nature of her training in architecture, reinforced by Concretism, may have prodded her in that direction, away from the analytical.

I particpated in "Life Structures" in which each participant was to get on the floor and tie rubber bands in knots emerging from a single rubber band in two arm-like elastic limbs extending out, exchange the limbs, and dance and climb inside as the circle of rubber bands in the middle gets smaller, which resembles a Catalan Sardahna in some ways (only with purses to the side) as well as the notion that each participant's thought and essence was a spoke on a wheel or limb of a tree. I came late as I followed my attentions to the Gauguin prints in what seemed like performative down time in Camp Lygia, then I never developed a remembered system for tying the rubber band knot making me rather slow at the task as I focused rather on observing as many aspects of what was happening as possible in an irreverent reverence or vice versa; my inclination to dance or move within the knot was hampered by visiting the Halal Guys across the street so as to not get hungry in Taniguchi's floor plan (discussed further below). People spoke different languages but there was a rare sense of communication between us. A stodgy couple selected me to ask what the deal was and I shrugged my shoulders, which the facilitators seemed to like. The guard, a Trinidadian country girl who gave me a full run down on the best places to get Pelau in the boroughs, let participants touch most works but to my delight enforced the no photos whatsoever rule strictly. I felt more grounded in the analytical than most, observing perhaps Buddhistic non-attachment to O Mundo de Lygia and the world that was not her, about which Gauguin's illustrations were in closest proximity.

Dubuffet, Cinq et un six
Amid the summer group shows is - sort of a group show - where Acquavella pairs Dubuffet's portraits and "inventories of terrain" with those of his follower Miquel Barceló whose white paintings resembling abstractions reference a specific natural or architectural object: "'abstract' as I said before, means 'to come from.' (Riopelle)" Dubuffet is the last portraitist I like and the small selection here contains some gems, whereas in the room of "Texturologies" Barceló the pupil stole the show for me.  Gagosian's Ed Ruscha room has a variety of his works for two more months including some interesting photos and they have the some dude's readymades there til August 8.

Chicago:  If you missed the Magritte show at MoMA you're better off seeing it here (til Oct 13), as it not only unlike NY "marks the first time since they were hung in [Edward] James’ Wimpole Street house that these three radically different works (“On the Threshold of Liberty,” which is in the Art Institute’s collection, plus “The Red Model” and “Youth Illustrated”), have been brought together," not only because the lighting recalls the dark main room of 1938's Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme in which the viewers were given flashlights, not only because there are other works here that were not at MoMA, but the way the pathway leads to rooms that feature a single work recalls a great museum of old... NY MoMA before they renovated in favor of thin, crowded hallways leading to vast rooms with masterpieces and visitors jostling and distracted.  Remember when you went down that corridor and the de Chiricos were there all by themselves? well.. it's sort of recalled in the Art Institute's Magritte show.

DC: A week remains of the Mexican Cultural Institute's display of Octavio Paz artist books, which contains works by Motherwell, Cage, Twombly, Tapies, and Tamayo.  To my liking there are several works on paper by Gunther Gerzso, Paz' wife's collages which are quite good, and illustrations of Hanuman creating grammar.. Free, air conditioned, and a Roberto Cueva del Río mural going up the stairs.

Philly: The curators have yet to endorse my theory that being hired to do the Minotaure cover in 1933 brought on Picasso's Minotaur phase, but you can't argue with the Vollard Suite, which is only up til August 3rd.

Boston: The African North of Brazil is represented in a small room adjoining the Sargents in works where the lines between religious iconography, domestic life, and imagination are unclear.  Sense a geographical theme here?

24 July 2014

Thanos Mikroutsikos singing "Of Poor Old B.B."

"Of Poor Old B.B."

I’m friendly to people. I put on
A stiff hat like they do.
I say: they’re animals with a quite particular smell
And I say: it doesn’t matter, I am too.

Mornings I sit a few women
In my empty rocking chairs now and again
And I look at them nonchalantly and tell them:
In me you’ve got a guy you can’t rely on.

Evenings I gather men around me
We address each other as: ‘gentlemen’.
They’ve got their feet on my tables
And say: things are getting better. And I don’t ask: when?

12 July 2014

My Charlie embeds

Everyone has their own particular tastes in Charlie collaborations.. I can't pass up Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, Dewey Redman on tenor sax, Ed Blackwell on drums, Molde, Norway, 1979..

And no, I didn't know about this one til I searched on Youtube, at which time I embedded it by Pavlovian reflex.. (actually quite good) McCabe's Guitar Shop Santa Monica, CA, 1984..

11 July 2014

Beuys' Lightning with Stag in its Glare 1958-85 (below) "enacts a dramatic moment in nature: A bolt of lightning.. strikes the ground, illuminating a stag..  According to Beuys, the stag is a guardian for the Primordial Animals, which squirm on the floor without intelligence or direction. These simple creatures, like the dramatic Lightning, were cast from a pile of loam.." Tonight's moon (and tomorrow morning's), one of three loosely defined perigree moons with August's full moon being the closest the moon gets to the earth, is alternately referred to as the Buck Moon and the Thunder Moon.

22 June 2014

Since Alain Resnais died I have been re-watching the films and will post about them some time. Harvard Film Archives - which Charles Olson once introduced for - is projecting them these days in a Le Corbusier-designed theater.. if you're nearby tonight at 7pm is the masterpiece La guerre est finie, next Saturday the 28th at 7 is Muriel, or the Time of Return (my favorite of his, which I will attempt to catch), and Monday the 30th at 7 Providence. The ones I named are the ones I recommend, which doesn't include Last Year in Marienbad, which I consider a valiant attempt to make Robbe-Grillet cinematic as I may elaborate on in said post. I don't know what was available to the nice folks at the archive but the films I consider better than Marienbad (and the others they feature like Wild Grass) of those within reach here, in order of preference: 1. Muriel, 2. Hiroshima, Mon Amour, 3. Le Guerre Est Finie, 4. Providence, 5. La vie est un roman, 6. Night and Fog (short; his short films on Van Gogh, Picasso and Gauguin would also roughly place here), 7. Mélo, 8. Love Unto Death, 9. You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet.

08 June 2014

What's up

A bunch of shows now will likely elicit comment here in the next couple of days but if you can get to Princeton today before 5pm it's the last day to see MoMA's collection of Edvard Munch works on paper (which MoMA hung up, I think fewer in all, when The Scream - that work the artist asked the Genie to banalize and the Genie granteth - was loaned to them) which constitute some of the best prints ever made by a human, I think the best but you can check the samplings from Picasso's Vollard Suite in Philly if they're not getting it done for you. In Vollard and the Frieze of Life, there is a relation between universal archetypes and contingent experience which haggles over the formal qualities, color, line, symbolism, the concept, meta- and phenomenology, but this haggling comes from the unification of the two, like the woodcut of The Kiss (left) that has been reworked from drawings from fresh emotional content. The print version of Moonlight (below) is perhaps for me the most powerful of the show. If the face is that of mistress Milly Thaulow leaving her house at night in 1885, and the house in this print is believed to resemble the shore house his father rented, they share the common color brown, while the window pane and the tree share green, both featuring a combinations of right angles and natural curves as moonlight on the face is itself a reflection with its symbolic history, as with the shadow. The large format painting on the subject highlights the bright glow of the face suggesting the influence of Redon's Marsh Flower (Hommage à Goya), Germination 2 and Triste Montée of Dans le Rêve, and Obsession, of which the latter may have provided the compositional structure for works like Jealousy.

The curators' promo "from his first prints in 1894 to those completed in 1902, the year of the triumphant exhibition of the complete Frieze of Light painting cycle at the Berlin Secession" omits from the history of institutional reception the fact that in 1892 the Berlin Artists Association took his works down from their show after one week, leading the the formation of the Secession (and publicity and attention for Munch) which itself wouldn't show Munch's works until after the intention of certain personalities was overcome. Whether they are dealing in paternalistic euphemisms about official taste hasn't broken my relative détente with the Princeton curators as they feature a huge Riopelle in their new abstraction show.

03 May 2014

What's up

This closing crept up on me after I happened by a month ago, but Piri' Miri Muli' readers within proximity of the St. Lawrence River who haven't seen the Peter Doig show are here advised that it ends upon closing today, in the area where he spent his adolescence after the show opened in Edinburgh, the nation of his birth, headed to Fondation Beyeler in the half-canton of Basel-Stadt where readers have it for all of next winter. Seeing it in Montreal sets it against the backdrop of the landscape paintings of the "Group of Seven" which Doig internalized while at the same time seeking escape to the Royal Academy of London for punk culture and the easel masters. The German Daniel Richter, about whom the phrase "the Return of Painting" has often been used, wrote an essay about Doig in 1990, around the time that Richter, who shares Doig's passion for music and album art, was moving from abstraction to figurative composition. Richter's depiction of the figure, at times deploying an illumination suggestive of autonomous human energy, as well as landscape brush work, use of color influenced by psychadelia, and abstracted planes with a representitive function can be traced to the influence of Doig, even as Richter has taken it in compositional directions influenced differently by literature, philosophy, activism, and European master archetypes. The influence of the Group of Seven, who by choice worked oblivious to the avant-garde trends of New York and Europe, and Doig's earnest emulation of both the painterly techniques and embrace of the pre-modern of Gauguin, an influence derided by Ashley Bickerton, a graduate of CalArts conceptualism and 90's New York, in lesser practitioners as "stupid Gauguin fantasies of island life.. dollops of local color spooned on, nauseatingly obvious images of kitsch slices of exoticism," caricatured in wallpaper by Sigmar Polke, is updated in a manner that makes it central to the practice of painting in the face of photography (which Doig works from) and concept. So mounting this show of Doig's in Montreal reflects not only a civic pride in a local boy, but lets the works share the building with Tom Thomson, Emily Carr, David Milne, and others, revealing how that tradition's formal, painterly focus on nature helped revitalize figurative painting. Doig's film posters for his own repertory cinema in Port-au-Spain, Trinidad suggest that genre's influence on his work, as the various versions of Pelican (two of many below), in which a man dragging away a pelican is shown at the precise moment he sees his witnesses, employ cinematic methods of focus by highlighting, in turn, the man and the pelican, from one painting to another in a way that can only be found in painting.

That place and the Contemporain have a sampling of Riopelles up, the latter in a show on local abstraction (which actually just ended), though Riopelle found abstraction unattainable, and where the Adrien Paci show has also closed but the Albanian funeral dirge that he contracted for himself can be uploaded for today's Shavasana..

In Toronto the AGO has a capriciously rotated show of Beuys drawings, sculptural assemblages by David Altmejd that seem to get more critical attention North of the border than in these parts, and for those of you that wondered why they should go to the effort of creating a real work of art when a fake one would suffice Wifredo Prieto has placed one real diamond amidst a pile of fake ones for you to spot.

NYC: It's good to see the Werner show of small Polke drawings before and after the MoMA show as it allows contemplation of his commentary on commodities with fewer crowds, but it gets crowded too. It is bizarre at times to see all those people looking at Polke paintings (which includes youthful parodies expressing his distate for pure conceptualism) in the big show which includes his masterpiece Paganini, which I've likened to Richter's later masterpiece The Owner's History Lesson. The Gauguin show there is essential; including his original prints for the Noa Noa pamphlet and his sole casted sculpture, from someone who beheld a lot of them 'prominent' in urban settings. Also near Werner is Raymond Pettibon's surfer works on paper over the years, in which Polke-like cartoon renderings glide upon (I will not attempt surfer slang) Courbet's and Turner's dear coasts with the bo's'n's 'surfing trumps art' spielingThe Met's SE Asian Hindu/ Buddhist show includes early Ganeshes from Vietnam, one where he is a much unadorned pachyderm, one in which he holds a horseradish and one on a sort of pedastal unusual to Indian carvings... similarly themed Himalayan works from the period in Brooklyn's holdings are still at the Rubin. Free chocolate at Zwirner.

21 March 2014

Eagleton describes St. Patrick in The Truth About the Irish as "the first individual in recorded history to write against slavery. He is also said to have driven the snakes out of Ireland. Some people suggest that they ended up in Chicago's city hall." Meanin' to upload some tunes for the occasion, like this footage of Packie Russell, a year before Topic Records recorded the Russell family in 1974, a stone mason who would hold fort on his concertina at Gus O'Conner's pub in Doolin, where Dylan Thomas, G.B. Shaw, and Synge also sought refreshment in their day, the latter making famous the boat ride from that port to the neighboring islands at Yeats' insistence. While his brother Micho toured internationally, Packie chose to stay there: 'I am only an ignorant countryman living on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher, in the county of Clare, on the western coast of Ireland,' where Wallace Stevens imagined 'the head of the past.'

Paddy Keenan, the "Jimi Hendrix of the uillean pipe" was one of the founding members of the Bothy Band..

The saying 'all Keenans are related' has been passed down from I don't know where, but in Iniskeen, where Patrick Kavanagh grew up and my family came from, the gene pool is small, the lower edge of its county lines bordering County Meath, where Paddy was the son of the piper John Keenan, an Irish Traveller, of which Eagleton says "in 16th and 17thC Ireland, professional travellers were often skilled craftsmen, as well as poets, doctors, seers and druids.."


Also raised in County Meath was the Bothy Band's Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, here in 1976.. ..(embed disabled)..

The Clancys stir Ed Sullivan's Hibernian blood with their "Johnson's Motor Car" at 1:40.. Edward Said wrote "the problem of Irish liberation not only has continued longer than other comparable struggles, but it is so often not regarded as being an imperial or nationalist issue; instead it is comprehended as an aberration within the British dominion."

Two tactics from that history that noticeably carry over into current imperial governance is the use of catastrophes like the potato famine to impose economic monopolies, recently evident after the Haiti earthquake, and the complicity of the native financial elites in that reorganization and everything else..

John Cage: "I don't see the difference between a gallery and a church. And I don't know the difference between a church and anything else, hmm? That's what's meant, I think in Finnegan's Wake by the word "roaratorio," which I used for my music. The oratorio is in the church but the roaratorio is everything outside the church, hmm? And there's no difference between oratorio and roaratorio. Or another example is Tibetan Buddhism - not meditating is the same as meditating.. in the spiritual sense. If that attitude is taken, then it is." "You don't roar in a church but you roar in life, or roars take place in life, and among animals and nature. That's what this is. It's out in the world. It's not in the church. Or you can say, the world has become a church, hmm? ..in which you don't sing, you roar."

27 February 2014

Paco obviously could have had any set up for Saura's Flamenco and he chose a circle in which he sits before what appears to be the sunset in an imagined pre-industrial Spanish coast, accompanying his brother Pepe's singing as when he was growing up..

Here in 1972, around the table with his brother for Bulerias "Cepa Andaluza"..

The "Mediterranean Sundance" perf in  Friday Night in San Francisco is I think one of the hardest songs to get sick of, and before you do.. this version has the video of Paco's fingering..

A rumba from the early 70s.. with Camarón..

31 January 2014

What's up for two more days and a few months out west

Craft Morphology Flow Chart
The first posthumous retrospective of Mike Kelley has another two days at MoMA PS1 in Queens before opening in his home turf on March 31, having begun in Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum where it was organized.. there was no doubt talk of subjecting the herd at MoMA Midtown to this expansive display of what Kelly termed his "Dysfunctional Bauhaus for the new religion of victimization" but aside from space considerations, mounting Kelley at a former school was irresistible as noted by curators and reviewers alike as he draws from the rituals, posters, vandalisms, and culture of schools as in his 1995 architectural work "Educational Complex" "his model of all the schools he attended omitted the rooms he forgot, which he attributes to repressed memory of trauma.."* in which, as with pop culture, he didn't believe in or attempt a psychic separation but one of critique that, by his account, led to works that were interpreted as the very nostalgia he despised for pop culture and school, developing at a moment between the Pop High Renaissance ("I'm from another generation. I have a more critical relationship to mass culture") and the arrival of the money and art stardom: "The art world is very different from what it was when I was young. When I was young, the art world was where you went to be a failure." In 1968 at age twelve in Detroit, his father a janitor his mother a cook, his aesthetic seemingly worked out, he placed a mock entry in a patriotic poster contest of ironic 'bad art' and won the contest. He got a dose of "Greenbergian formalism" at Michigan Ann Arbor where he roomed with Jim Shaw until he and Shaw went West, where Kelley soaked up and chafed against John Baldessari's "reductionist" Conceptualism at Cal Arts** in the mid-to-late 70s that has become fashionable in academic poetry over 30 years later. Kelley was emphatic that the artist does not arrive at meaning unwittingly "I don't believe in hiding intentionality," welcoming viewers though "to look at something and like it for the wrong reasons" as he says he does, not seeking what he termed Duchamp's non-retinal "reliance on hidden material that the viewer does not have access to for his meaning." Duchamp, of course, didn't hide The Green Box, and left it to the viewer to decode what he sought to express and represent -including the unwitting and unexplained - in so doing, evading the reduction of a Conceptualism for it's own sake as Kelley later did in his own way. "My early work - in part under the influence of the Conceptual Art generation of the 1960s and 1970s - refused to acknowledge that there was a historical 'I' in the work.. Meaning would flow in a kind of mythical third person, as if I.. were absent and the historically grounded reader were absent. Then I realized that this was a lie, a reiteration of the voice of dominant culture. So I tried to deal more with the specific aesthetics of my own lower-middle-class background."

Pay For Your Pleasure (above), created for the Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago, consists of a hall of blown up, institutional posters of authors and artists implying their practice is the sublimation of the criminal mind "I do not understand laws. I have no moral sense. I am a brute" (Rimbaud) "If you encounter charlatans, reason with them.. if they resist, be bold enough to drown them" (Giotto) "I erect myself at the exact point where knowledge touches madness, and I can erect no safety rail" (Balzac) "I call 'monster' all original, inexhaustible beauty" (Jarry) leading to the 'low art' of the work of an actual local criminal which is studied to decipher their psychology. I saw this installation in his previous retrospective and the criminal's work was an uninteresting portrait - this time the criminal's was good enough, a sort of cosmological abstraction, that I thought the previous concept had been forgone and a work of Kelley's had been inserted - as he is all over the map graphically, including attempted skill levels. A hallway is typically decorated to condition the visitor to the decorum sought in the rooms and this does the opposite, as when he proposed*** to decorate an office complex by blowing up cartoons on secretary's desks to a large scale, placing "If assholes could fly, this place would be an airport" in large letters next to the conference table. The exhibition includes From Our Institution to Yours (below) in which he blew up drawings made by his art school's security guards, warning the working class against 'false images,' as the personification of animals exists in church and state as well as folk art and cartoons.

I think Mike wants us to see Accatone soon
Kelley stressed in interviews that his trauma involved his encounter with the dominant culture and repeatedly denied experiencing familial abuse, a suggestion that the magazines continue to circulate to explain his suicide. He was politically passionate, describing himself as a Marxist and dialectical materialist: "Every state that's against (Bush) helps him get reelected because the population hates anything that's against the dream that he's proposing, so any time anyone says anything that counters that dream, people reject them (and) make him even stronger because people want to live in a fantasy world of American hegemonic dominance." As with Pop, his work often appears to be the full extension of Art Therapy rather than a critique of it: "Beuys had a notion of art as a curative process. I don't have that delusion. Art doesn't cure you, it makes you aware of the problems you have. Art used to be a personal sickness that showed you were better than other people. In actuality art is just saying 'let's just point this out and we can talk about it, I'm no different from you, I'm no better than you, I'm not special, I'm no genius that cut off my ear. I'm just another schmuck like you.' What I like about Beuys is that he had a very egalitarian idea of art. I don't believe that either. A lot of people don't have the talent, the strength to stand outside the culture and make a fool of themselves. He was a professional fool. What I dislike about a lot of contemporary artists is that they want to be hipsters. They're not willing to be fools, to put themselves on the line in some shared emotional way. They want to be better than other people, and that's to me worse than wanting to be the outsider and tragic and a suicide and all that crap.'"

The snowfalls have left Clyfford Still-like markings on the exterior of PS1, and Still would be an example of an artist for whom a single work has a resonance which, if somehow quantified, could score relatively favorably against the resonance of his entire oeuvre - Kelly, despite flashes of mastery of materials and inventive draftsmanship, inhabits the other side of that scale, as he was prolific and evocative with a minimum of repetition, so conducive to the Posthumous Retrospective space this is. Despite his many imitators, there will never, ever be another show like this one.

* His We Communicate Only through Our Shared Dismissal of the Pre-linguistic: Fourteen Analyses was a critique of the socialization of art
** ..after Art Institute of Chicago rejected him because he was 'too Chicago' as they were trying to copy Baldessari at Cal Arts
*** Proposal for the Decoration of an Island of Conference Rooms (with Copy Room) for an Advertising Agency Designed by Frank Gehry

16 January 2014

invadieron el muerte..

A bird lived in me.
A flower traveled in my blood.
My heart was a violin.

I loved and didn't love. But sometimes
I was loved. I also
was happy: about the spring,
the hands together, what is happy.

I say man has to be!

(Herein lies a bird.
                              A flower.
                                             A violin.)

-Juan Gelman, Epitaph, tr. Ilan Stavans

"You see, that's what I said with my poem. Everybody waits for the next death of the next late great jazz musician. That's what it concludes with, sayin' everybody is waitin'. Like all the record company pirates put out legendary performances of all types of stuff that wasn't around when you were alive. It's like everybody waits 'til you're dead, then you get all the recognition. But what good is it when you're dead, if you're alive right now and you're not gettin' recognition, you know what i mean.." (Roy Campbell, Jr.)

In a book of verses spattered
with love, with sadness, with the world,
my children drew yellow ladies,
elephants trudging across red parasols,
birds imprisoned in the margin of a page,
they invaded death,
the large blue camel rests above ash-gray words,
a cheek glides across the solitude of my bones,
candor defeats the disorder of the night.

-Juan Gelman, The Victory, tr. D.J. Flakoll & Claribel Alegría

"A heart stops, another starts, it beats and bleeds within the chest, it whispers, it speaks the truth – listen! The soul, sometime staggering under life’s challenge, is straining every unseen fiber, then desires and fears are seen no longer; the soul is but a stillness somewhere in space. The heart speaks to the soul. Listen to this internal dialogue. See with the eyes of the heart; Listen when it speaks, for the heart is born pure." (Yusef Lateef)

The main thing
to be against
    is Death!

 Everything Else
      is a

 -Amiri Baraka, Ancient Music