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abvg click here to view user rating
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07-Jan-02, 05:57 PM (PST)
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"The Death of Painting"
 
   Is painting dead as a valid, vital art form? As we move into a new century, is it not true that the "energy" and the power lies in the music video, the cinema and paperback as the art forms of the age?

Should we mourn its' passing?

abvg


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 08-Jan-02 1
     RE: The Death of Painting abvg 08-Jan-02 2
         RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 09-Jan-02 3
             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 09-Jan-02 4
                 RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 10-Jan-02 5
                     RE: The Death of Painting abvg 10-Jan-02 6
                         RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 11-Jan-02 7
                             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 11-Jan-02 8
                                 RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 14-Jan-02 9
                                     RE: The Death of Painting abvg 14-Jan-02 10
                                     RE: The Death of Painting Douglas Gordon 14-Jan-02 11
                                         RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 14-Jan-02 12
                                             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 15-Jan-02 13
                                             RE: The Death of Painting ddouglasgordon 16-Jan-02 14
                                             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 17-Jan-02 15
                                             RE: The Death of Painting ddouglasgordon 18-Jan-02 16
                                             RE: The Death of Painting ddouglasgordon 18-Jan-02 17
                                             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 18-Jan-02 18
                                             RE: The Death of Painting DouglasGordon 22-Jan-02 19
                                             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 25-Jan-02 20
  RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 26-Jan-02 21
     RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 29-Jan-02 22
         RE: The Death of Painting abvg 01-Feb-02 24
             Fugitive Art Iliamoderator 06-Feb-02 30
                 RE: Fugitive Art abvg 06-Feb-02 31
     RE: The Death of Painting abvg 01-Feb-02 26
  RE: The Death of Painting dolphinfire28 01-Feb-02 23
     RE: The Death of Painting abvg 01-Feb-02 25
         RE: The Death of Painting ddouglasgordon 02-Feb-02 27
             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 03-Feb-02 28
             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 04-Feb-02 29
  RE: The Death of Painting hansen 08-Sep-02 32
  RE: The Death of Painting goldendelicious 01-Nov-02 33
     RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 01-Nov-02 34
         RE: The Death of Painting abvg 01-Nov-02 35
             RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 02-Nov-02 36
                 RE: The Death of Painting abvg 02-Nov-02 37
                     RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 04-Nov-02 38
                         RE: The Death of Painting abvg 07-Nov-02 39
                             RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 07-Nov-02 40
  RE: The Death of Painting Louis 25-Dec-02 41
     RE: the sake of art Iliamoderator 25-Dec-02 42
         RE: The Death of Painting David Powell 30-Dec-02 43
             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 05-Jan-03 44
                 RE: The Death of Painting David Powell 12-Jan-03 48
                     RE: The Death of Painting abvg 21-Jan-03 49
                         RE: The Death of Painting David Powell 23-Jan-03 50
                             RE: The Death of Painting David Powell 25-Jan-03 51
                                 RE: The Death of Painting David Powell 25-Jan-03 52
                                     RE: The Death of Painting abvg 30-Jan-03 57
                             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 26-Jan-03 53
                                 RE: The Death of Painting David Powell 28-Jan-03 54
                                     RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 29-Jan-03 55
                                     RE: The Death of Painting David Powell 29-Jan-03 56
                                     RE: The Death of Painting abvg 31-Jan-03 58
                                         RE: The Death of Painting David Powell 02-Feb-03 59
                                             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 08-Feb-03 63
                                             RE: The Death of Painting David Powell 09-Feb-03 69
                                             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 13-Feb-03 72
                                             RE: The Death of Painting David Powell 13-Feb-03 74
                                             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 14-Feb-03 75
                                         RE: The Death of Painting abvg 07-Feb-03 60
                                             RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 08-Feb-03 61
                                             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 08-Feb-03 62
                                             RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 08-Feb-03 64
                                             RE: The Death of Painting MK 08-Feb-03 65
                                             RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 08-Feb-03 66
                                             RE: The Death of Painting MK 08-Feb-03 67
                                             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 09-Feb-03 68
                                             RE: The Death of Painting David Powell 11-Feb-03 70
                                             RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 11-Feb-03 71
                                             RE: The Death of Painting abvg 13-Feb-03 73
         RE: the sake of art abvg 05-Jan-03 45
             RE: the sake of art Iliamoderator 06-Jan-03 46
                 RE: the sake of art abvg 06-Jan-03 47
  RE: The Death of Painting abvg 15-Feb-03 76
     RE: The Death of Painting metameme 24-Feb-03 77
         RE: The Death of Painting abvg 02-Mar-03 78
             RE: The Death of Painting Iliamoderator 13-May-03 79
                 RE: The Death of Painting abvg 14-May-03 80

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Iliamoderator
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08-Jan-02, 01:43 PM (PST)
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1. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #0
 
I think it would be wrong to say that painting will ever be gone. It's has been ill for a while though...

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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abvg click here to view user rating
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08-Jan-02, 06:53 PM (PST)
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2. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #1
 
   As long as there are three year olds, paper and crayons, there will always be painters and paintings. The question, I suppose, concerns whether or not painting retains some relevancy in the broadest sense as an artform.

From my own perspective, whenever I tell anyone that I am an artist, increasingly I feel as if I telling them that I am a lamplighter or a roof thatcher or (perhaps even more accurate) I am begining to feel like John Cusacks' puppeteer in 'Being John Malkovich'.

Modernism in art came to an end (probably) with the passing of POP in the late sixties and the Postmodern era seems to have accepted paintings' marginalisation.

As for your second point, what is the nature of the illness and do you regard it as treatable or is it terminal?

abvg


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Iliamoderator
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09-Jan-02, 00:52 AM (PST)
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3. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #2
 
Looks like my post is a bit of an oximoron, if I can apply this word to a combination of two sentences.
If painting can not be gone, than it should not be able to get sick ether. Unless it is dead and presently in hell.

The question is: will/can/should it(painting) be resurrected?

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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abvg click here to view user rating
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09-Jan-02, 04:36 PM (PST)
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4. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #3
 
   Leaving aside the "death/ill" debate for a moment, it might be worth considering a general sense of art history. The idea that artists can paint just about anything they want is a relatively modern one. Art for Arts' Sake originates from the aftermath of the reformation. Since this time, up to the end of the sixties, painting enjoyed a position as the premier artform.

It seems as though it is the growth of the mass media that has pushed painting to the margins. But how valid was this position in the first place?

Could the "dead/ill" question apply to the Art for Arts' Sake viewpoint of painting rather than painting itself? Do we need a new paradigm for painting? Has Art for Arts' Sake run its' course?

What is it we are creating? Expensive decoration focal points? A recent survey of gallery owners in the UK said that one of the most important criterion applied to paintings by buyers is whether or not it would harmonize with the colour scheme of the room it was for.

I am not suggesting either that this is wrong. Buyers buy paintings for their own reasons and I have always suspected that they are not even close to the reasons we (as artists) would like them to be. But is it art and does it need to be?

abvg


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Iliamoderator
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10-Jan-02, 05:15 AM (PST)
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5. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #4
 
LAST EDITED ON 10-Jan-02 AT 05:23 AM (PST)
 
Here is my take on that.

Our life became more complicated, technology, population, knowledge database, etc.
Many sciences had split into branches such as chemical physics, biochemistry, etc. Those "brunches" grew into independent "trees". However Art became even more generalized. I believe due to the luck of being an immediate necessity in a plain sense of the world - as the saying goes "The one can not tailor the coat from a thank you." The church has lost it's position and power and cannot any longer support the arts as it did before. Civil institutions, vulgar and banal by nature do not know and do not want to know how to.

Everything Art began to be administered as a a business enterprise, missing the main objective and seeing just a decorative function. Function understandable and easily acceptable for lasy and arrogant or selfcentered mind, a pleasant supplement for the ego. And as a concequence gently robbing Art and Decoration from it's respective purposes.

Here is the "punch line" There are two related but independent by now phenomena's: Art and Decoration.

The purpose of Art is through illustrating(for the luck of a better word) our irrational beliefs refine us spiritually and give us a reason and a hope.
The purpose of Decoration, is to fulfil our desires for vanity and comfort, making our lifes materially refined.

Both of this functions are of the equal importance, however, as artists, it is up to us to keep those in balance.

So, I think Art is sick of artists as well as decorators that shy away from
facing this task and this is the illness I am referring to.

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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abvg click here to view user rating
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10-Jan-02, 06:09 PM (PST)
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6. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #5
 
   OK. If I understand you correctly you are saying that Society, Art and artists got lazy and began confusing the various threads that make up contempory Art. Furthermore, that this 'corruption' is a direct(ish) result of the commercialization of modern society including Art.

Is there a way forward out of this malaise for all concerned in the equation? I am reminded that it is not the first time in Art History that artists have found themselves in this situation. At the begining of the Modern era they saw themselves as having the task of changing society. They were the avant-garde. It is their world we live in.

abvg


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Iliamoderator
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11-Jan-02, 01:34 PM (PST)
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7. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #6
 
You got it right. Thanks for getting some sense out of my broken English.

As you pointed out this is not the first time, a would add that it is also an escalating process proportional to the population and progres/regress(depending on personal view on what constitutes the former) of the civilization. I can speculate that this process reached its "critical mass" by the end of the 19th century causing a world war which led to the complete restructuring of the world including the Art world.
The belief system has changed permanently "announcing" the new setup through turmoil of the WW1 and Russian Revolution.
Artist, in my opinion, is the creature that senses such cataclysms and reacts to it, BEFORE the actual events begin to happen. However, society is conservative, by nature, and most of the time it has to be "taken by surprise" in order to except new in Art. Avant-garde artists used the War and R. Revolution to manifest this change. In my opinion, the common assumption that the WW1 caused the change in art is incorrect. The change in belief system did and it happened before the war. The war was an opporunity(for the artists) for the proclamation of such with their idea of the visual language for the "updated world" (In my thoughts I would go even further and say that artists, with their "doing" and "not doing", are the ones that caused the change in the belief system and all of the concequences including the war and revolution. but this is a different subject altogether)

Surmising: You say "It is their world we live in.", that is correct, but it is also our world and the world of everyone that has been before.
I would be very burdened indeed if there would be now Mondrian. His color combinations taught me a great deal and influenced my view on the use of color, broadening it conciderably. (ironically one of my paintings is hang next to his at my friends house in Finland, this "hanging" introduced me to his work)

This is why I draw the distinction (not sure if I use this word in the correct context) between Art and Decoration. Artist should make it clear for him/her self which one of the two is primary, because this two do not mix but coexists. Choosing the primer (art) the one submits to the "loss of identity" in the realm of rational world and time, in exchange for the power to manipulate the consciousness and the consequence. Most of the time the later (consequence) is left out, since it requires a titanic effort - hence the "lazy" in my previous post.

Decoration uses the product of art (whatever that is) transforming it into the "stable" form (period, style, etc.)


So it is nether "their" world, nether it's "ours". It is the world of power and the abyss of consequence. The only guide that artist can have is the same abyss and power that he/she has to be guided through.

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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abvg click here to view user rating
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11-Jan-02, 07:34 PM (PST)
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8. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #7
 
   It may be that "lazy" is an incorrect or incomplete description. If you are right about the "abyss of consequence", and I think you are, then perhaps a good deal of fear is in the mix also.

This is not the first time that we have been in this situation. But it might be the first time that we have ever consciously considered projecting power and consequence into the future with full knowledge of the consequences of the past.

That is more than just a little frightening.

However this may be, I would question whether or not painting (rather than a broader concept of Art) commands the power anymore. The fragmentation of the "pluralistic" Postmodern era is more like fractures. Perhaps more so now than in any other time period, it becomes impossible to survey the contempory scene without recourse to specialization. With increasing specialization comes entropy. I think this, more than anything else, is what I feel when I refer to the death of painting.

An entropic universe is very cold.

abvg


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Iliamoderator
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14-Jan-02, 12:21 PM (PST)
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9. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #8
 
LAST EDITED ON 14-Jan-02 AT 12:25 PM (PST)
 
>However this may be, I would question whether or
>not painting (rather than a broader concept of
>Art) commands the power anymore. The
>fragmentation of the "pluralistic" Postmodern
>era is more like fractures. Perhaps more so now
>than in any other time period, it becomes
>impossible to survey the contempory scene
>without recourse to specialization. With
>increasing specialization comes entropy. I think
>this, more than anything else, is what I feel
>when I refer to the death of painting.
>
>An entropic universe is very cold.


Painting is one of the most natural ways of expression and as you noted before about crayons, consciously manifests itself at the very early age. We can see a three year old painting, but I would be surprised to see even a 7 year old editing a music, video for example thus, in my mind, makes painting primary to video editing. I separate Art from Decoration to help myself see the universe before my eyes and reason will have a chance to "fragment" it (try renaming "fragment" to "zoom in" for this equasion).
It is just the game of numbers and also could only be an emanation (we do not know how much of what we think we know about the past is true when it comes to irrational - art may have appeared to the contemporary as fragmented then as it does now to us)

The point is that artist will always see an entropy and I believe the "seeing" the entropy is what sets an individual to be an artist, ability to except the entropy will make a good decorator. But this is only a first step, next the one should "zoom out (defragment)" and observe the whole (entropy and its counterpart - what ever that is). It helps if we refer to A. Einstein and Kabala (for western mind) where is proven than things always have counterparts and not disappear but flow from one form/state into another.
Only than there will be something to express - and this "something" is born of observing the universe from outside of the "fragment" or "zoomed out".
The findings/emanations will need to be adapted to the physical world to be presented visually and the "first generation" of this adaptation will be the most natural way of expression - painting.
Then within the physical world this adaptations can be readapted again and again before it will complete its path and become decorative.
If ever this "first generation" adaptations will be exhausted - used to fuel further readoptations. The art itself and mind as we know it will end, individuality will be gone.

I think that is what evoke the Avant-Garde - the resource of the"first generation" visual material was exhausted. What ever was produced is fueling the Art world today, but just about to be exhausted.

I think asking "is the painting dead?" is asking "are we already the Borg?"

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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abvg click here to view user rating
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14-Jan-02, 08:03 PM (PST)
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10. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #9
 
   So, the Tree of Life meets Star Trek?

Consider the Postmodern, are we not the Borg? The Borg are the ultimate user, interested only in the aquisition of technology and adding the uniqueness of others to their collective. I would say this perfectly sums up contemporary painting.

As for zooming in and zooming out, you are correct but I think the problem lies not exclusively with the artist but with society itself. Personally I would redefine the painting aesthetic for the education of society rather than the furtherence of Art. It may be that these are the same thing. It is possible that it is just a question of emphasis.

I take your point concerning how much of what we think we know about the past is true. But in the writings of the major players of the time they complained of stagnation in style and content not fragmentation. Though it is seems certain that the feeling of entropy was with them. They found a way out, maybe we can too.

Perhaps this is the task before us. Perhaps as long as there are painters unsatisfied with the "state of the Art" then painting is not lost to us. I, certainly, am not yet ready to abandon Art for a subscription to Interior Design Today. Am I confident of the future, though? It is conceivable, and your comments would tend to support such a position, that I have no alternative but to be confident irrespective of any internal disquiet.

I suppose I can claim that as long as I have doubts I remain human not Borg.

abvg


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Douglas Gordon
unregistered user
14-Jan-02, 08:27 PM (PST)
 
11. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #9
 
   hey, Ilia, i wanted to say a couple things on this topic, but i can't seem to log in anymore (joined a couple of days ago)--could you check on this?

ddouglasgordon
thanks!


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Iliamoderator
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14-Jan-02, 09:55 PM (PST)
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12. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #11
 
Hi Douglas! You managed to sign in during the migration to a new server. Just register again.

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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abvg click here to view user rating
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15-Jan-02, 07:01 PM (PST)
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13. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #12
 
   Yes it would be good to have another perspective on the subject.

There are one or two things that I want to add to my previous post because, at times, I feel we talking about different things here. Or rather we are talking about the same things but from two mutually exclusive directions. I shall do my best to explain.

When I talk about the fragmentation of the Postmodern leading to increased specialization, I am thinking here of the specialization of the observer not the artist. The comment that "with specialization comes entropy" refers to an entropy driven by and reflected back upon the observer. The important thing is that this is not the same mechanism causing the problems of entropy from the artists' point of view although it does cause another (entirely seperate) problem for the artist.

With the observer locked within his own personalized black hole, the artist must contend with the problems of Art AND the problems of the observer. If painting is anything it is a contract between painter and observer. My contention is that without the observer there is no painting as Art.

Painting (and Art in general) has always suffered from the problem that only the rich and important can afford it. It was kept alive because it formed part of the popular culture. That is no longer true.

I hope the above goes someway towards explaining my earlier post about the task of re-educating society rather (as well as) furthering the Art.

I always thought that the greatest Modernist triumph was the deconstruction of the aesthetic. I believe that the Postmodern artists attempted a reconstruction and failed.

If painting is to survive as an artform, what we (as artists) need is a completely new aesthetic AND a solution to the problem of the observer.

abvg


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ddouglasgordon
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16-Jan-02, 09:12 PM (PST)
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14. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #13
 
   hey, abvg,

You've brought up some great questions that should probably be separate forums in their own right, and I can't make a comprehensive response to each of them all at once--but here's a breif synopsis of my reactions to them:

First, yes, only the rich can afford art, but it is not their exclusive domain, and never has been. this is what is meant by the term 'patronage,' in the sense that the priviledged support the arts (by purchase, commission, etc.) and enable fine art to continue, as a human achievement, with serious devotion, rather than being a part-time hobby.

this is just sort of a natural 'food chain,' if you will, where the wealthy are priviledged enough to own it and preserve it, but the rest of the world still enjoys it nevertheless--as it filters down to them--with proper preservation, museums, etc.

The only reason this presents a problem to artists is if their art turns from being autonomous and degrades into being art-for-the-wealthy (as I would argue has been the case in recent American history).

Secondly, I'm not sure what triumph you are talking about. Can you define who you are referring to by "modernists," and "deconstruction of the aesthetic?" Regardless of what intellectual path is chosen, art is, by definition, incapable of escaping from an aesthetic.

the modernists of the 1950's-70's were interested in deconstruction, but deconstruction WAS their 'aesthetic.' Their art existed to challenge the definition of what art was. Do you mean deconstruction of the neoclassicist aesthetic of the 1890's Paris Salons? deconstruction of the representational (3-D) aesthetic?

I would argue that there was not a universal 'aesthetic' to be destroyed, and that the Modernists had to create a sort of 'paper tiger,' in order to bring it down. With the exception of a few institutions (Salons, etc.), the aesthetic that defined what was "Art," and what was not, was extremely broad and inclusive.

An aesthic that is based on the destruction of another aesthetic cannot say anything tranchent or lasting about the human condition, and will run dry quickly. Hence the undeniable failure of the Modernist movement (in record time, I might add).

Further, I would accuse Modernism as being guilty of the sin I listed in part I (above), as degrading into "art-for-the-rich." This is explicitly stated in modernist attempts to distance themselves from the 'bourgeoisie,' as if there were something less human about the 'bourgeoisie' than the rich.

Great art generally follows the Shakespeare model to one degree or another--that is to say that it is both accessible and challenging to people across a broad spectrum of humnanity--from highly educated to street-man, all can be 'elevated' by it.

The modernist attempt to sever itself from a vast segment of human population--to turn its back on its own humanity, if you will--only served to truncate its own expressive ability, and is yet another reason for its failure to have staying power or importance.

(for the record, i'm not trying to dismiss modernism wholesale--but merely purge the trash amongst it (of which there is no shortage), and hang on to the discarded treasures).

Third, and most important, can painting continue and be important in a world that has seen both 1)modernism, and 2) a technological explosion including motion pictures in the information age?

The answer is yes, we couldn't kill it if we wanted to (as many have tried), and no it's not merely decorative.

Unfortunately, I haven't budgeted my time wisely, and must expand on this question (Death of Painting) and address the observer-artist problem at a later time.

Again, thanks for bringing these questions up--I'll check back tommorrow, and try to get to your last two points, and a couple of Ilia's as well.

Douglas


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17-Jan-02, 08:00 PM (PST)
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15. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #14
 
   Douglas,

Thanks for your post. I agree with you that my original question - "Is painting dead as an artform in the video age?" - has grown to include a whole raft of issues past, present and future that now threatens to become unmanageable. Part of the problem is this is not a proper cafe. If it was we could interrupt each other and clarify terms immediately.

I shall define some of my terms first, just to clarify my previous posts.

I define Modernism in art as the period between 1850 and 1970. These dates are not to be taken literally but they serve to illustrate the (sort of) time frame I mean. I agree with your comment that there was a lot of trash but I do regard the mordernist era as (probably) producing more outright masterpieces in such a short space of time than at any other time in the past.

I define the Postmodernism era as 1970 onwards.

As for the Modernist "triumph" in deconstructing the aethethic, I mean that during the Modernist era there was a huge explosion of the criterion for measuring what was worthy, beautiful, true, praiseworthy etc. Prior to the Modernist era the definition of what was Art was relatively narrow. Let's not forget that the Impressionists were a scandal! Yet it was barely a blink of eye before Abstract Expessionism held hegemony over the artworld.

I called it "deconstructing the aesthetic" because although it was an expansion of the aesthetic it had an effect rather like the infinitely expanding universe. In other words our definition of beautiful became infinitely varied and variable. I submit that this is a huge benefit to all artists. It is a release from a straightjacket. Unfortunately, the universe does not seem to believe in a free lunch and every advantage comes with a disadvantage but this is another issue.

That is all I wanted to say about your post for now. There are other points I want to discuss with you but I will wait until you have completed your piece.

Before I go, however, there is one thing with which I will take issue since it goes to the problem of the observer which you have yet to comment upon. We agree that only the rich can afford art but I will disagree with you on your thoughts concerning museums.

It would be a fine thing if museums, galleries etc were the guardians and disseminators of fine art that you have so much faith in. But every year the museums buy more and more art that goes direct from the artists' studio into storage never to see the light of day. The museums have so much art that only a very tiny fraction of what they have is ever seen. Consider the "official art" of the salons of the nineteenth century. It has, effectively, been "lost". Now you might say that is not such a bad thing but that is not the point. How can the oberver observe when it is not there to observe? Even art history books largely ignore this huge body of work - dismissing it as unimportant. It might be. But how can we judge?

The situation seems to me that only the rich can afford to buy (and therefore look) at art and the body of general observers (that portion of society who would like to look at and is intersted in Art but who cannot afford to buy it themselves) is getting smaller with each passing year. It is not that there are necessarily fewer people interested in art but that for one reason or another they have fewer opportunities to see it.

Anyway, that is it for now. I look forward to your further comments.

abvg


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ddouglasgordon
Member since 16-Jan-02
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18-Jan-02, 01:05 AM (PST)
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16. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #15
 
   abvg,

It may seem like we're splitting hairs over the modern question, but I'm differing with you for a specific reason--that is, that no matter what the achievements of the past, the legacy it has left us is one in which people like you and I have to worry about whether to mourn the passing of painting or not, as you put it.

(personally, I would limit modernism to 1910's-1970's, but I don't want this to turn into an art history debate).

Undoubtedly, there were a number of masterpieces produced as a result of the shift in aesthetics. I particularly appreciate Schiele, Klimt, and yes, even some of the work of the lazy and much-loathed Picasso. (though i believe that Cezanne's importance, the supposed 'father of modern painting,' is greatly exaggerated).

The problem is that modernism effectively shifted gears from the focus of art being the creation and contribution of lasting masterpieces (i.e. construction, synthesis, exploration) to a permanent avante-gardeism based upon the 'challenging of notions . . ' (i.e. destruction, fracturing, seeking of the new for its own sake in opposition to the old). Examples--Christo, challenging notions that art should be in galleries or museums, the importance of 'spiral jetty,' abstract expressionist rejection of 3-D space, and so on--no shortage of evidence for this.

As I stated yesterday, this makes true 'modernism' dependent upon something to destroy. The artist is thus more deeply obligated to depend on the ideas of the past for subject matter than at any point yet in history. And, strangely, complete consummation means self-obliteration (no more art can exist if there are no more walls to tear down).

In a sense, this destruction of ideals and strictures does lead to a freedom. But a only a freedom that excludes the ideals it has just rejected.

The course of events is therefore predictable: keep rejecting ideals wherever they may be found, and after a period of time, you are truly "free," and no longer limited by imposed restrictions. Do what you will, so long as it is within the limited scope of excluding all those things which we have just rejected.

(just traded one for the other).

Effectively the power of the Academie and the Salons was rapidly reinstated, and equally, if not more oppressive, but from the opposite end of the spectrum. 'Institutionalism' was not rejected; only the rule-writers changed.

Further, modernist work has left us dependent on specific theory for a work of art's success. This is a problem because, first, artistic theory tends to be the exclusive domain of a private few (a MUCH worse problem than 'art for the rich'), and second, it is not subject to any sort of human scrutiny whatsoever.

In general, regardless of aesthetic context, great work tends to stand on its own, 'transcending its specific time and place', if you will. If you disagree with this, I'll have to make arguments later (but it would be difficult to convincingly disagree).

Getting us closer to the real reason we're discussing modernism, the direction the masterpieces of modernism has brought us in--now that we have 'arrived'at their ultimate destination, is a world where a 'masterpiece' is no longer possible (within the confines of the art establishment). Artists and establishmentarians alike recognize this, hence the movement to experiment in the hopes of "possible historical significance." I.E., we have no idea what a 'masterpiece' might look like anymore, so we'll just ramble about aimlessly, and hope that future generations sort things out, and find something valuable in what we've done.

{"oh, please, dear lord, let me be the next Van Gogh, Amen. er, except i need a big paycheck right now--I can't wait 'till I'm dead. Amen. and Tenure, please, Tenure, Amen."}

the shift into an era in which the entire establishment willfully recognizes and admits that it has no idea what it considers 'good art' is a first in human history, and in my opinion, a symptom of a deep malaise.

To underscore my point, this is not a debate as to whether a 'masterpiece' is possible anymore, but you and I are asking whether painting itself is possible.

What a change from the days in which a young Durer could confidently state that he was 'second to no man, past or present,' and certain of the permanence and importance of his work (Picasso also stated similar things about himself). Talent has been emasculated. Should a young Durer be born today, we would probably force him to be a plumber or something.

In summary, I would compare many of the achievements of modern art theory to a cure for cancer which gives you aids in the process. A great human achievement, undeniably, to achieve freedom and health from one oppressive disease and catch another.

You're still going to die.

Again, I still say painting is possible in our current environment, but again my verboseness has precluded me from saying much about it--sorry.

Douglas

P.S. impressionism was not a scandal--it was the king himself who created the salon des refusees. there was no rejection of the past whatsoever--manet said, "in velasquez, i found myself," then went and painted the Fifer. the 'scandal' was mainly hoopla drummed up by art dealers to sell paintings (and a few academie teachers screaming because they lost some power, and didn't believe in painting regular daily life). Had the exact same movement started in Spain, it would be almost indistinct from its predecessors, except for the palette (reference the work of goya, el greco, velasquez' "impressionist" rendering of objects and colors). Remeber, impressionism was the first true "-ism." i.e., little change, lotsa hoopla.


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ddouglasgordon
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18-Jan-02, 01:11 AM (PST)
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17. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #16
 
   LAST EDITED ON 18-Jan-02 AT 01:12 AM (PST)
 
Whoa! didn't realize that was so long!! sorry--I'll try to wrap it up more quickly from now on!

later,
douglas


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18-Jan-02, 06:36 PM (PST)
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18. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #17
 
   Douglas,

Exactly!

You have pretty well covered all my points and there are only one or two things I would disagree with.

1. I disagree with your reading of the impact of impressionism. The initial reaction was shock/horror and genuine. To reduce it to the level of a marketing ploy is doing it a disservice. It changed the world.

2. Since I asked the original question I think it is only fair that I should attempt an answer. In the following I am aware that forever is a long time, it is unlikely that the human race will last forever and so it likely that one day painting will cease. The following answers assume everlasting life.

Do I think painting is dead? No.

Do I think painting will ever cease? No.

Do I think painting is dead as an artform? No.

Do I think painting as an artform will ever cease? No.

Do I think painting is dead as a valid and vital artform? Probably, although I am willing to accept that it might just be lingering on in intensive care.

Do I think painting will exist in the future as a valid and vital artform? No.

This is how I see the present and the future. I see a world where painting as an artform exists as a kind of endangered species. It still goes on and there are people out there (artists and artlovers) desperate to make sure that it always goes on. But it's not as a living, growing, healthy organism. It is an undeath at best.

I admit this is a bleak vision. Perhaps it represents my greatest fear since I have not yet given up hope of seeing a change in these shadows.

abvg


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DouglasGordon
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22-Jan-02, 06:05 AM (PST)
 
19. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #18
 
  
Abvg,

we could go on and on about impressionism.

Historically, it was a HUGE milestone, but from a painter's perspective, there was very little that was truly 'new' about it in terms of either painting technique, or perception of the world.

i'm not trying to belittle the impact of it too much--i agree that it changed the world. but there is a great deal of misconception about how 'new' and 'painterly' it all actually was.

that's the part that was 'marketing ploy.'

there was true substance to it.--i genuinely believe that. but to sit down and read a summary of impressionism in any art history book is to be lead to believe that prior to impressionism the entire art world resembled the french academie in its desire to see glossily rendered nymphs (more classical than even the classics!) mischevously tugging at satyrs, all the while showing us their fleshy (bums) for lack of a better internet-suitable word.

in truth, the ideals as to what good painting was--that had been developing over a period of centuries--resembled impressionism much more than neoclassicism. (rembrandt--esp. late rembrandt, velasquez, goya, el greco, etc. would have all been scoffed right out of the salon). in this sense, impressionsim was more of a moving 'back on track' than the bogus avant-gardeism we mentioned previously.

impressionism was supposedly based upon a rejection of the past, and you must agree that this idea is simply unadulterated, raw misinformation.

the 'new' painterly ideals of the impressionists had been highly esteemed values in painters over the course of several hundred years preceding them. (this is my entire point--nothing more).

if this idea is questionable, look up the defining tenets of impressionism, then look into some rembrandt, velasquez, and a few others.

the similarities are striking--you will find:
1. boldness of execution in brushwork
2. areas of information summarized into raw, flat color treatments--for both rendering and compositional purposes
3. patches of pure color overlaid upon one another to form composite colors ('optical greys, vs. true greys).
4. subjects from la vie quotidienne, if you will.--contemporary people take prominence, when possible, versus elevated themes and literary illustrations.
5. paintings executed out-of-doors

without the above tenets, there's not much left to impressionism (except a high-key palette), and, strikingly, all of the above had been accomplished at minimum two-hundred years previous to the salon des refusees.

anyways, enough on that. hope it cleared up a few things on my beliefs about impressionism. (of which i'm a huge fan, by the way--just an HONEST fan).


Further, i agree with you on the first four points of part #2 (beliefs on painting), but disagree on the last two.

I will add a couple of points that i believe are responsible for your "bleak vision" and answering "no" to points 5&6.

#1. the VAST majority of current painting is poor-to--mediocre at best.
#2. People do not know what good painting is, and do not recognize it or understand it when they see it, so it is difficult for them to be interested in it.
#3. when painting does enjoy a resurgence, people mistake 'realism' for 'good painting.' these words are NOT synonyms, and never have been throughout painting's history.
#4. painting simultaneously is and is not about the appearances of things.
#5. the people who are most confused about the above points are artists.

given the above, yes, painting may continue to be an 'endangered species' as you put it. but perhaps it should be.

even so, i do not believe it will either die, or cease to be important. certainly, its general value is diminishing, though.

i'll try to get back to this shortly.
douglas


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25-Jan-02, 06:46 PM (PST)
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20. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #19
 
   Douglas,

Thanks for your last post. I owe you an apology, I misinterpreted your earlier comments about impressionism. I thought you were suggesting that the whole of impressionism was a marketing ploy.

It is interesting that the works of the artists you mention all read as 'modern' to the contempory eye. Impressionism itself remains powerful in the popular consciousness despite coming to an end a century ago.

I understand your position regarding the death of painting. What I do not yet understand is what it is that gives you confidence that painting will recover from the malaise in which it currently finds itself. If a recovery is to be possible we must solve the problem of the observer.

Finally, and this may be off the track again, but I have been rethinking my earlier position that 'modernism died with the passing of POP.' I think I lied - not so much about the death of modernism but about the passing of POP. This may sound a little wierd but I think POP and 'mass culture' became joined at the hip and it still exists as a growing organism. Not in painting, though. It is as if POP solved Art.

Now, if POP solved Art then the death of modernism was not death but a transformation from so-called High Art to popular culture. Is this a dumbing down of Art or the holy grail which modernism fought for?

When we watch the new Kylie video are we watching the latest fruit of the modernism tree?

So, what is Postmodernism (a horrible word, by the way)? Is it a reaction against the popularization of Art or the collective products of a bunch of artists who missed the point?

I lay awake at night thinking of such things. That probably makes me sad and pitiful.

abvg


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Iliamoderator
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26-Jan-02, 03:26 AM (PST)
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21. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #0
 
Hi!

What is Postmodernism? A great question that deserves its own topic!

I would try to summarize this "The death of painting" in a "Russian" way, by telling a story that may or may not directly relate to the discussion.

Douglas brought up the point I can certainly relate to - "trading one thing to another". I grew up in Moscow (Russia) and at that time the division between the artists was "forcibly" definite: Official Art (social realism - with moderate forms of some other figurative "isms") and "Non-Conformism" (a precise mirror reflection of the prior including the total censorship, which N-C would hypocritically deny but cultivate within themselves) Since the latter was "religiously" procecuted by the state there were no open/commercial competition between the two. This factor caused the theory itself to be the judge of "worthiness" and an ultimate ruler. The transition between the emerging and established artist was almost instant - all you had to do is to choose sides and be accepted by the camp chosen.
This situation helped me to see both sides "operating at the same time" undiluted by commercial "hoopla". In fact being "commercial" - openly admit that you are interested to be paid for your paintings - was "marked out" as an alleged desire to be independent from the collective and was treated as fatal rulebreaking by both camps.

summary:

The painting is as dead as you want it to be and as alive as you want it to be"

When one lays in bed and having these thoughts, most of the time, could be summarized to a simple "what is the reason to wake up tomorrow?"

I believe that it is the artist's duty and function to find and paint(illustrate) this reasons in the permanent(touchable) form. The paradox is that most of the time finding one equals creating one (hence such a close border between art and decoration). This is why it is so easy to slip into kitch or propaganda - instead of finding or creating, the easy road of substituting is taken.

The death of painting will constitute more than just the victory of the "collective" it will constitute the death of culture itself (no one left to paint or be the audience).

Contemporary (modern, whatever) art lucks permanence and it would be incorrect to use it as a reference or criteria while speaking of the most natural and oldest forms of expression - painting and sculpture (i am sure sculptors have similar debate). we can speculate about the death of modernism or classicism, periods and styles they naturally come and go. Painting is a form of art and should be viewed in appropriate perspective.

Physically we can dialog with only so many people in your life and naturally the "more you can cover" the higher position you get and often the latter becomes the priority (I am speaking in general), most of the time it takes away the value of the original which leads to the loss of permanency.
I like abvg's thought about "transformation into PoP" art and with some "stretched logic" i can say that will and already begun the transformation into New age culture which naturally, as any other culture before, will be depicting itself through permanent forms of art. In a way we have/had/will have only one culture - the human culture that replicates itself over and over again always following the same steps. (like they say - history does not repeat itself, it replicates)

The process of depiction has already begun - this website had only 2000 visitors in 1996 and over 200,000 page views in just one month of dec. 2001 (and we had better search engine placement in 1996)

It has been noticed that the "sudden" interest to the figurative/realistic painting is taking place now. (Douglas, you also have mentioned that to me)
It is not sudden or temporary - the New Age Culture is defining itself as we speak and is ready to begin depicting itself. It needs painters to take charge and responsibility.

So put away your pity and pick up the brushes - we are up to some exciting times ahead!

Painting is as alive as we want it to be!


PS. I am typing it for the second time - my comp crushed as i was clicking post. So if you will find some "lapses" in the post let me know.

PS2.
It would be good to start/continue the "What it Postmodern Art?" discussion. Abvg, you have knack on pinning down topics. Will you start it up? We should do it in the "debate" forum Modern Art - Classic Art - New Art (admin might move it there anyway). here is the link to the forum
http://www.truefresco.com/cgidir/dcforum/dcboard.cgi?az=list&forum=DCForumID8&conf=DCConfID2

unless everyone badly wants to stay at the Bar Stool?

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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Iliamoderator
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29-Jan-02, 03:29 AM (PST)
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22. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #21
 
LAST EDITED ON 29-Jan-02 AT 03:54 AM (PST)
 
Did I say anything inappropriate? The conversation has folded for some reason?

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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01-Feb-02, 07:49 PM (PST)
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24. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #22
 
   Ilia,

My apologies for going missing. I managed to throw my back out (reaching for a tube of Burnt Sienna - it is always the stupid things!) and I have been flat on my back for the past few days.

I like your comment that "painting is as dead as you want it to be or as alive as you want it to be."

I will tell you a story. It might make you laugh or it might make you cry.

About four years ago myself and few friends were gathered at the local watering hole and it is probably fair to say that we were well watered by the end of the evening. We had spent the evening surveying the "state of the Art" and came to the conclusion that the real tragedy was that fine art is, generally speaking, non-portable. What good is it if the finest painting ever created is on display in a museum in Buenos Aires? What good is it if the finest painting ever created is in storage in a museum in Cape Town? Sure, there will be photographs or even postcards or prints of the work but what is that compared to the experience of actually standing before the original?

But what if the photograph was the original, I argued? What if the painting is just a stage in the creation of an original photograph? Then it (the photograph) could be reproduced at will without any loss of fidelity. You could hold your next exhibition in a book. It could be available to all through purchase of the book and for considerably less than the purchase price of just one painting. And if purchasing the book is a problem, you could always get it out of your local library. After all, is this not already the way that most people view fine art? The important thing is to view the book as an original work of art. To do this it becomes necessary to physically destroy the painting. Think about it, I slurred, you paint the painting, you photograph the painting and then you destroy the painting so that all that is left is the photograph. It is anti-museum, anti-gallery, anti-dealer and (somewhat perversely) pro-painting despite the fact that the painting is destroyed. It is pro-painting because the painting/photograph has the ability to reach a wider audience. Before long a new movement was born - Fugitive Art (c) abvg 1998.

This is why I am known locally as the fugitive artist.

The point is that all art is fugitive. It only really exists as a photograph. How much original art do you really have the chance to stand before? Compare that to the original art that exists in the world. Compare it to the original art that is newly produced every day. Paul Klee left over 30,000 drawings and paintings. How many have you seen in the original? Our knowledge of the old masters comes to us (in the main) from photographs in art books.

Fugitive Art , it is the past - it is the future.

Think on that and be dismayed!

abvg


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Iliamoderator
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06-Feb-02, 03:58 AM (PST)
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30. "Fugitive Art"
In response to message #24
 
Hi abvg!

This "Fugitive Art" is an interesting concept, tough to apply when you work in fresco though...
I will have to get back to you on that later this week (working on big site update)

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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abvg click here to view user rating
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06-Feb-02, 04:48 PM (PST)
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31. "RE: Fugitive Art"
In response to message #30
 
   Ilia,

Fresco is a special case, it is the most non-portable of all arts. I think it should be considered as virtually fugitive to begin with.

abvg


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abvg click here to view user rating
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01-Feb-02, 08:11 PM (PST)
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26. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #21
 
   Ilia,

Regarding your PS2, I would love to stir it up in a debate about the artistic desert known as Postmodernism. I will post something suitable tomorrow.

abvg


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dolphinfire28
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01-Feb-02, 10:36 AM (PST)
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23. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #0
 
Well I would like to comment on the original question which was is painting dead as a valid, vital art form?

I would say no. Even though digital art and graphic art are becoming more and more popular, I think that people on a whole enjoy the true talents of painters.

At least where I am from. Around here something that is made by hand is appreciated above all else.

As far as the comment about art being for the rich,I think that more people appreciate art and that more middle class people are purchasing more art.

Art and painting is a way of expression and that is why art or painting will never die, it will just continue to evolve.


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abvg click here to view user rating
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01-Feb-02, 08:04 PM (PST)
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25. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #23
 
   Dolphinfire28,

Welcome.

There is a possibility that I may be suffering from geography! Where I live and work (deepest and darkest Essex UK) there are villages and hamlets that have not seen a missionary for two hundred years. Their idea of art is sacrificing a chicken in order to ensure next years crop.

Sorry. It is three in the morning and I tend to get flippant this late/early.

It seems that everyone disagrees with me. Maybe this is a good sign.

abvg


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ddouglasgordon
unregistered user
02-Feb-02, 10:28 PM (PST)
 
27. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #25
 
   abvg,
ilia, & dolphinfire28,

i havent crafted the 'final argument' (so to speak) to support my beliefs just yet, but i wanted to point out a couple of things.

first, technology is not very new anymore, and if the cause of painting's eminent death were technology, then it would have died shortly after the advent of the motion picture (a while back).

second, abvg, you said that it seems everyone disagrees with you. it's important to remember that this is because we're playing within the rules of an artificial format (i.e., the a priori question "can painting continue . . ."). as far as the empirical world is concerned, no one in any major institution, gallery, museum, etc., would consider painting in the throes of death right now.

it may not fit within the definition of what 'painting' means to you or me, but painting is very popular in one form or another, making our discussion a principle-based discussion, for the purpose of clarifying the future, rather than an 'oh-my-god-no-one's-buying-paintings-anymore' discussion.

we, however, happen to be on the 'outside' of the world in which painting is important, (at least myself, anyways), so the question has more relevance, since its importance is not a given.

this brings up another question: given that painting can and will be a vital art form amongst the intelligentsia/priviledged classes for a long time to come, can painting do and/or say anything important to a vast segment of the population? (i.e. influence the course of culture OUTside the priviledged classes, and still avoid becoming mere populism or entertainment).

i feel this is a different problem than 'art for the rich' (which, to me, implies a 'purpose' problem, rather than a 'value' problem).

no conclusions today, i just wanted to point out that we're discussing with a purpose, but i don't believe that we're discussing the actual 'state of the art,' as you called it.

i find your 'photo-destruction' act pretty interesting. a couple of friends and myself had discussed videotaping the painting process, then destroying the painting afterwards, and projecting the video as an installation. but none of us have actually gone out and experimented with 'fugitive art.' kudos to you on that.

i could see the photos being signed/numbered artist proofs. then, in some way, so long as the quality were maintainted (a digitized data set of exact approved colors, etc.), there could be no limit on the number of people who could print out an original work of art.

sort of like DNA being the 'real' life force, the digitized information would be the 'real' art. that would be the most important thing to 'create'--the result of the artistic process (a combo of paint, pixel, etc.).

where would the info be stored, and who would 'own' it? (or the negative, if you prefer to stick with a photo). who would receive payment each time it was printed, or 'purchased?' or should it be free?

interesting.

later,
douglas

i didn't realize that burnt sienna was so bad for your back. i'll quit using it.


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28. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #27
 
   Douglas,

You have raised a couple of points on which I would like to comment but I do not have time at the moment (3rd quarter superbowl). I do, however, believe that Burnt Sienna should carry a government health warning.

abvg


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29. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #27
 
   Douglas,

The points I wished to comment on were these:-

I do not think anyone is suggesting that technology itself has caused or is causing the death of painting. The point about modern technology is that we have used it (particularly communication technology) to create a mass popular culture/artform. This is a modern phenomenon. It could be argued that there always was a high art and a folk art, but folk art was localized. The technology allowed the globalization of mass culture. Now whether you want to call this high art v kitch or, as I prefer to think of it, avant garde and rearguard is completely at your discretion. My contention is that POP art closed the gap between avant garde and rearguard.

The interesting thing is that the avant garde deliberately and with malice aforethought abandoned painting because they believed that painting no longer had the stuff. That is to say they believed that painting could not influence culture beyond the narrow confines of the ruling (artloving) class.

Postmodern artists would seem to agree. They do not work with the big things in mind. Whether this is because they are not interested in the big things or simply because they do not have the clout anymore is central to the question of whether or not painting is dead as a valid and vital artform.

I regret using the word 'rich' in one of my previous posts. A better expression would be an elite class. I do not mean elite in any superior kind of way but elite in the way that Art (with a capital A) has always been elitist.

Finally, my thanks to the Patriots - they won me a tenner.

abvg


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hansen
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08-Sep-02, 01:11 PM (PST)
 
32. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #0
 
   if you are all about giving yourself over to the limbic system in your brain, then 'music video' has indeed taken over, and this will be- in america- in the new millenium- a valid way to live. we all can be little marketing-bots, where the art is actually a commercial. welcome to pure commercialism- instead of high art we could be conniseurs of high commercialism with new museum sections devoted to areas of expertise like "really fooled the public" and "sold the most product".
however if you would like to expand the part of your mind that is yearning for a bit more than shaking your booty, painting is not dead. it is an excruciating task, an affirmation of life and a challenge to it's viewers. this may not be the height of fashion at all times, however the bourgeoisie are just art marketers trying to create exclusive products to buy. this does not mean there aren't painting classes in hundreds of universities, or that there is any lack of customers for bob ross' videos. every level of painting has survived the so-called death... we just have to not believe the 'hype'.


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goldendelicious
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33. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #0
 
   LAST EDITED ON 01-Nov-02 AT 02:46 PM (PST)
 
As someone in art education, I find that the way my college and the colleges of my friends treat painters is quite patronizing. Most lecturers see painting as outdated, video is where it's at. It's difficult to see how this can change, If the people who are in charge of educating the artists of tomorrow see painting negatively, it makes the artists of tomorrow nervous of such risky terrain. But maybe that's the best thing that can happen, we may see a rebellion!


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Iliamoderator
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34. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #33
 

>If the people who are in charge of
>educating the artists of tomorrow see painting
>negatively, it makes the artists of tomorrow
>nervous of such risky terrain.

Good point, some "weeding" is always healthy. Sort of a natural survival of the fittest test.

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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35. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #34
 
   Ilia,

There is no escape. Modern western society is morally bankrupt and I see no future for painting until this civilisation is past.

We must begin again.

abvg

abvg


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36. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #35
 
> until this civilisation is past.
>
>We must begin again.

Hi Abvg!

it is funny but:

"The twentieth century presented us with most, if not all, of the signs of the end of the old and the beginning of the new era. Two world wars, rise and fall of the ideologies, "Babylon" of the religions, information and communication mayhem, etc., etc. The new civilization is "being born as we speak" and the new "megaperiod" in fresco is forming. Recent escalating interest in fresco painting is not a coincidence - it has happened before, it will happen again and it is happening now."

the above quote is from my article "Why Fresco?"

full article is here:
http://www.truefresco.com/dcforum/DCForumID1/79.html

so yes, we shall begin again. I just think we already did.

on the other hand i wish i were an accountant... just kidding... i mean that accountants, have less problems to solve, perhaps...

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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37. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #36
 
   Ilia,

You are an eternal optimist - not that there is anything wrong with that.

The thought that I was struggling with last night touches on part of your reply and the comments of the last two or three letters.

I think now that my original question was wrong or, at best, naive. In truth, it was a moan about how painting has become marginalized in favour of video, cinema, and the paperback. But if the past year has taught us anything, it's that ** RANDOM ACTS OF TERRORISM ARE NOW THE DOMINANT ARTFORM ON THE PLANET **.

I wish it were not so.

abvg

abvg


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38. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #37
 
we should rephrase the title for this topic to The Death of Everything, perhaps.

Your reply got me at the moment of what you (English) call splin... needless to say it did not help the recovery.

Remember the Hamlet? "To be or not to be..."
OK. That is a play artist(WS) has exsagurated and added decorations, locations, lines, etc., etc.

Here is what really happened then:

Hamlet gets hungry and goes to the cafe (or whatever they called it then)...
He enters, gets seated. Stuard approaches.

Stuard:

What would you like, Sir?

Hamlet:

Well, cucumber salad would be good.
Then, perhaps, pea soup and a roastbeef.

...Yes, this shall do.

Stuard:

Very well, Sir!
What would you like to drink?
Tea or Coffee?

Hamlet:

Tea, please...

Stuard:

Certainly, Sir!

Stuard departs to fill the request.

Hamlet:

Oh wait!! I think I would rather have coffee!

Stuard:

Not a problem, Sir.

Hamlet:

Oh no! Wait a moment!

thinking: "i should stick with tee... but coffee, I need some energy! Coffee that is! But tea feels better!
Tea that is final! Not Coffee, not Tea, tea,coffee,coffee,tea

Needless to say he goes insane. End of story.

----------------
so your turn to be optimistic Abvg. what is your solution?

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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39. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #38
 
   Ilia,

I apologize for my last two posts. I always get cranky after finishing a project and I should know better than to engage in any meaningful disourse in the first week.

Why is it that when I am painting a series I think every single one is a wondrous creation but when they are finished I hate them so much I cannot even bring myself to look at them? It takes two or three years before I begin to like them again.

The solution to Hamlet's problem, of course, is to have a coke!

Best wishes,

abvg

abvg


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Iliamoderator
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40. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #39
 
LAST EDITED ON 07-Nov-02 AT 04:42 PM (PST)
 
>Ilia,
>
>I apologize for my last two posts. I always get
>cranky after finishing a project and I should
>know better than to engage in any meaningful
>disourse in the first week.
>

Hi! I do not think there is anything in your posts to be apologetic for. I did enjoy them, as well as loved the chance to post that old Russian joke.


>Why is it that when I am painting a series I
>think every single one is a wondrous creation
>but when they are finished I hate them so much I
>cannot even bring myself to look at them? It
>takes two or three years before I begin to like
>them again.

I am "luckier" than you are - it takes much less time for me to like my work again. It helps not to look at them for a month or so.... as well as show them to someone - it's their problem then.

Can you post something here? or at the gallery at
http://TrueFresco.Net


>The solution to Hamlet's problem, of course, is
>to have a coke!

(there is some risk of a nosebleed with this solution)

iLia

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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Louis
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25-Dec-02, 04:28 PM (PST)
 
41. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #0
 
   "The Message is the Media..." Marshall McCluan
Art can now be done for the sake of art and not as a news media or any thing similar.


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Iliamoderator
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42. "RE: the sake of art"
In response to message #41
 

>Art can now be done for the sake of art and not
>as a news media or any thing similar.

What is "the sake of art"?

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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David Powell click here to view user rating
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43. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #42
 
   I've read through the entries on "The Death of Painting" with great interest, agreement and sympathy (although I admit to not having absorbed each and every idea totally). I, too, have had many sleepless nights torturing myself over this problem. (I'm an American painter living for over 10 years in a small town in Northern Germany.)

However, I believe that a more accurate formulation of the problem would be "The Death of Autonomous Art". Since painting (and sculpture) has perhaps the oldest documented history and tradition that we possess (and can be said to recede into a sort of Jungian "collective memory"), it is naturally singled-out as a victim when the administrators of postmodern culture become suspicious of autonomous art's "political incorrectness" and overzealous in their efforts to purge it from the scene. A recent example: the dismissal of painting as an "epistomological machine" by Okwui Enwezor, director of Documenta 11 in Kassel - a commentary on painting's role at Documenta 11 as well as in Western ("global") culture in general. In fact, painting MUST be pronounced "dead" by the postmodern mainstream because Postmodernism - while principally a visual phenomenon - is not concerned with visual aesthetics but rather postmodern social-political "text" (typified by Conceptualism and the neo-realism of the installation form - both having far more than a casual relation to Socialist Realism).

The notions of Modernism and Postmodernism certainly play a crucial role in this debate, although I would date the beginnings of the modern in art from about 1800 until the end of World War II; the postmodern, I see as a "post-Hiroshima/Nagasaki" continuation of Modernism (which might suggest why some see Postmodernism as a peculiarly "American" idea).

I consider the crisis of "The Death of Painting/Autonomous Art" as a late manifestation of the "built-in" contradictions contained in the very origins of bourgeois art (what we call modern/postmodern). That the debate continues at all is evidence that these contradictions still need to be addressed. Various artists have dealt with these contradictions with varying degrees of success.

"Painting is Dead" - and speaking quite seriously - this might be a good thing. Now that painting is described as having been finally left behind by the mainstream, perhaps it will regain the freedom to devote itself anew to the central unsolved dilemma in the visual arts of the 21st century as inherited from the 19th and 20th: the synthesis of idealism and materialism. Painting remains (in spite of Enwezor's views) the only visual art form - following Cézanne's lead, ignored by Picasso - preserving the potential for a truely dialectical synthesis of the ideal/formal with the material content - what was once called the universal with the individual.

I realize that the above might sound a bit "abstract" - but I wanted to try to keep the ball rolling without writing a VERY long text (which I have the unfortunate tendency to do). I would like to think that the discussion over "The Death of Painting/Autonomous Art" might be only just beginning. I would also like to offer two reading suggestions, if anyone is interested: (1)"Proudhon Marx Picasso: Three Studies in the Sociology of Art" by Max Raphael (1899-1952), ed. John Tagg, New Jersey: Humanity Press; London: Lawrence & Wishart.(2)"On Socialist Realism" (printed together with "The Trial Begins") by Abram Tertz, trans. Max Hayward. Raphael was described by The Times Literary Supplement as "perhaps the greatest philosopher of art of the 20th century." (From a personal standpoint, I have found both Raphael and Tertz almost indespensable to a discussion such as "The Death of Painting/Autonomous Art".)

No, I am not a Marxist. Best wishes and a happy new year to all! - David


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44. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #43
 
   David,

I always suspected that this debate would eventually lead to a discussion of the post-modern and I have been trying to avoid it for as long as possible.

You are correct in renaming the problem as 'The Death of Autonomous Art'. I focused on painting because painting has the biggest problem or the most acute problem.

I can not agree that painting was a victim of a post-modern conspiracy and I will try to explain why. First, I think you are wrong to equate the post-modern with post WW2. You are a little early here. Post-modern theory was developed in the timeframe between the end of the Vietnam War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Practice, of course, precedes theory but even so, it is difficult to place the post-modern later than the final two or three years of the 1960's. Generally, I am not so fussy about the dates for this and the dates for that but in this case, it makes a difference. POP Art was a fruit of the modernist tree albeit a criticism of modernism itself.

As modernist theory came under increasing criticism (from itself), it began a revisionist, introspection of its own works. Western culture changed, it became younger. It was more vibrant certainly but also more than just a little naďve and inexperienced. This was the 60's. It is my contention that modernism and popular culture became 'joined at the hip' and that modernism exists today in advertising billboards, music videos and every aspect of over ground, underground and ground level mass (western) culture. It was co-opted. It met international capitalism head on and sold itself out but it could not take painting with it. Painting, as an art form, can never respond quickly or cheaply enough to the vagaries of commercial fashion.

Painting was discouraged. A new generation of painters could not or would not contend with the complexities of the collapse of modernist theory. Those artists still involved in painting insisted on viewing the modernist period as the creation of a visual toolkit. Their task, as they saw it, to take the toolkit and use it to synthesize a new vision. This came about because we no longer have the taste for random originality. We have lost or distrust the urge to originality that constituted so much of the modernist motivation. The result was a barren landscape in painting.

It is against this background that post-modern theory evolved and, because painting was increasingly irrelevant, post-modern theorists had nothing to say about visual aesthetics. Now, I am not saying that they did not enjoy 'putting the boot in' but I do not think they went out of their way to do so.

I am not familiar with Enwezor's comments on painting but his description of painting as an 'epistemological machine' sounds like a perfectly good summation of the current state of affairs. Post-modern painting or, rather, painting in the post-modern period is in a complete mess. Whether or not it can recover - well, that is the question. As for the current hegemony of socio-political text, I offer the following:

"The dialectic of word and image seems to be a constant in the fabric of signs that culture weaves around itself. What varies is the precise nature of the weave, the relation of warp and woof. The history of culture is in part the story of protracted struggle for dominance between pictorial and linguistic signs, each claiming for itself certain proprietary rights on a 'nature' to which only it has access." This is quote from Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology by W. J .T. Mitchell 1986.

My own view on post-modern theory is that it is essentially a fraud - an artificially constructed intellectualism by a bunch of guys who had too much time on their hands and nothing else to write about. The whole of post-modern theory is directional and they picked the wrong direction.

I certainly do not regard myself as a post-modern painter and I doubt if such a beast is possible unless we are talking about a group of painters sitting in a pub waiting for a passing 'ism'.

As far as I can remember, yours is the first response to offer an answer to my final question 'should we mourn its passing?' and the first time someone has given me a real reason to view the future with some measure of hope. Perhaps it is within us to answer these questions.

Finally, although I have much more to say, there is a good reason why the synthesis of 'ideal/formal with material content' remains unresolved. The main problem is that the ideal and the material change from age to age. There is a good chance that the only synthesis possible is formulaic in construction, perhaps even machine programmable. Then we are really in trouble.

All the best,

abvg

abvg


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David Powell click here to view user rating
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48. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #44
 
   "The hatred for art, of which our society provides such beautiful examples, is so effective today only because it is kept alive by artists themselves. The doubt felt by the artists who proceeded us concerned their own talent. The doubt felt by the artists of today concerns the necessity of their art, hence their very existence." (Albert Camus,"Create Dangerously", Nobel Prize Lecture, 1957)

abvg,

Thank you for the fine reply to my somewhat awkward stab at furthering the discussion over "The Death of Painting/Autonomous Art".

I'm glad if I said something which gives you "some measure of hope". I do agree with your conclusion that "it is within us to answer these questions". But I'm also convinced that if we artists neglect certain unpleasant problems lodged at the center of our culture due to feelings of apathy or impotence (or because it's "in" to be uncritical, or because it's "all too difficult to think about", or because we think it's better to just work and hope for the best, etc.), these problems will end up being solved for us ("over our heads", so to speak). Culture, naturally, is not art, but the "made", wholly artificial public environment whose conditions effect whether art is born to begin with, lives a "normal, healthy lifespan", or dies a premature death. The concept of Autonomous Art indigenous to western bourgeois culture - which evolved out of the need to address the contradictions within that culture - is threatened with extinction. Autonomous Art - for which the postmodern offers no replacement -took a very long time to develop and remains, finally, all we have (it's recent "deconstruction" notwithstanding). Whether one considers this threat to be the outcome of a "conspiracy" is a question I'd prefer to bring up later. (For one of the most important defenses of Autonomous Art written during the 20th century, one should read the essay "Art in the Light of Conscience" by the poet Marina Tsvetaeva.) In the main, however, I don't believe for a moment that art "sells itself" (unless I misunderstand your formulation), is "co-opted" or "sold-out"; rather, that individual artists sell themselves out, are the ones who co-opt themselves down the proverbial river - to the extreme of betraying those among their fellow artists less inclined toward self-prostitution, perhaps the least attractive facet of our vocation during the last century. We've thus become the heirs to a vast artistic "silent majority", a condition I consider(and I'm not entirely alone here) a profoundly dangerous political situation. The first step in the opposite direction is to break the silence. I hope this is what we're doing here - instead of quibbling over art historical/critical terminology and period-dating.

I freely concede that Pop Art (having lived through the Pop Art era, I try to forget it most of the time) had one foot in the modern, the other in what came to be seen as the postmodern. When I "equated" the postmodern with post WW II, I was neither thinking about practice preceding theory nor especially interested in establishing yet another historical/critical dating scheme for Postmodernism. (Anyway, when one sets up abstract systems based upon linear progress-in-time, something or other will inevitably fail to pass neatly into the concept: such systems are usually arbitrary.) Nevertheless, I hold to my contention that the postmodern is post WW II for the simple reason that my overall perspective is "cultural critical" - as distinguished from whatever might be associated with the art historical/critical intellectual preserve. (I'm sorry if I failed to make this clear in the beginning.) As for "later" manifestations of the postmodern continuing into the present,

"...this is the point at which I must remind the reader of the obvious; namely, that this whole global, yet American, postmodern culture is the internal and superstructural expression of a whole new wave of American military and economic domination throughout the world: in this sense, as throughout class history, the underside of culture is blood, torture, death, and terror." (Fredric Jameson, "Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism", 1984)

I cannot share your opinion that postmodern theory is "essentially a fraud" - especially with regard to Barthes, Foucault, Lyotard, Baudrillard and Jameson (unless you happen to be talking about someone else) -although I can understand your mistrust from a broader view.

Your quote from W.J.T. Mitchell bearing upon the current hegemony of socio-political text was well chosen (although I'd like to stay away from Enwezor and Documenta 11 for the present). In response to the Mitchell quote, I'd like to offer a quote to one of my most favored art essayists, the composer Morton Feldman:

"Just as the Germans killed music, the French killed painting by bringing into it the literary clarity which had produced a Stendhal - whose motto, you will remember, was 'To be clear at all costs.' But in painting you cannot decide a priori what is going to be clear. That's why Fragonard, who aimed at an artistic rightness, looks so much more rediculous than Delacroix, who has the whole literary apparatus holding him up. One has only to look at a Delacroix to see that ideas are literally holding the painting together!

I have always thought this reliance on the literary arose quite naturally out of European culture, in the constant pull between the religious and the aesthetical. The aesthetical, of course, is traditionally defensive because of the religious. Painting, literature, none of the arts could deal with abstract thought, could be conceived of abstractly; they had to present ideas with which to fight this other idea.

To understand Cézanne, we must realize that if he was not of his own time, neither was he really of ours. He is understood too much by his influence. In essence, his idea is directly opposed to that of the modernist. With Cézanne, it is always how he SEES that determines how he thinks, whereas the modernist, on the other hand, has changed perception by way of the conceptual.


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49. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #48
 
   David,

My apologies for not writing sooner but a) you left me with a trailing "in" which led me to believe that some part of your post went missing, b) I left it a little while to allow anyone else the time to join in, and c) the Inland Revenue have been pestering me to fill in loads of forms.

There are a number of points I wish to take up about your previous posts.

I had thought that my assertion that terrorism was the current dominant art form on the planet was pretty depressing. But you may have topped that with your comment about younger artists finding these things too difficult to think about. I agree, without reservation, with this assessment. If we, as a society, are raising our children without the ability to think for themselves - to view the world with uncritical eyes - then we have failed them and, through it, are failing ourselves.

One of the main problems with discussing postmodernism is that there are as many views of what it is as there are people wanting to comment upon it. We have post-modern culture, post-modern politics, post-modern social structures, post-modern art etc each with different timeframes. My comments were directed exclusively toward post-modern art theory. I visited the 'Theorizing Vs Doing Art' site and was surprised to find that their material assessment of post-modern art agrees almost exactly with mine. (The only material thing I disagree with is their explicit claim that POP is post-modern.) But while we review the same evidence we come to different conclusions. I maintain that post-modern art theory is a fraud and the best textual evidence for this come from this site.

In an attempt to précis post-modern art theory we are led to believe, for example, that the post-modern existed from 1960's to 1980's and that from the early 1990's to now we have, wait for it, post-post modern art. It gets better. One of the characteristics of modernism, we are told, is triumphalism in art, post-modernism preferred a 'new' triumphalism to replace the 'old' triumphalism, and post-post modernism has evolved an anti- triumphalism triumphalism. This is great! This is the solution to the problem of our younger artists. It is instant art theory. Already we can postulate what the next art theory will be. It will be called post-post-post modernism and one of its key features will be a triumphalism anti-triumphalism triumphalism. Young artists need not worry that art theory is too difficult to think about, they need do no more than some nifty textual manipulation and Bob, as they say, is your uncle. Come to think of it, since we already know so much of what the future art theory will be, they needn't actually go to all that bother of painting canvasses or pickling sharks.

Barthes, Foucault, (especially) Lyotard, Baudrillard and Jameson (you left out Craig Owens) are exactly the usual suspects I charge with fraudulently perverting the course of artistic evolution.

I will try to explain why I call it fraud and the best way I can think of (probably because I am a painter) is by describing an image. Before I start, I admit this is a very simplistic representation. It has the benefit, I hope, of clarity and I must warn you this is about PAINTING specifically, and not necessarily about Art in general.

I see modernism as the avant-garde (in its original sense) moving along a road into the future. You may argue about whether or not it is the right road or if there are turnings and cul-de-sacs etc but this is not a discussion about modernism. The various movements (isms, if you like) are shacks built by the side of the road. Just after POP, the road stops and there nothing ahead but open desert. The painters stand at the end of the road and look out. They begin to wander about aimlessly and in many different directions - afraid to travel too far into the desert for the fear of getting lost. So they wander around looking for what is to be seen but always keeping themselves within sight of the road.

A passing critic, standing on the road and with his trusty binoculars, sees the activity in the desert and says 'Aha! This must be called postmodernism. They cannot possibly be wandering around aimlessly so let's call this Pluralism. They cannot be incapable of moving too far away from the road so let's call this nostalgia or better yet a fascination with retro-styles. This cannot be the smell of despair wafting from the desert so let's call it the scent of a 'new' triumphalism.'

Before long, the critic has convinced himself that he has discovered a new theory of art. This is, after all, what critics live for. He moves to a new location in the desert, still within sight of the road, and builds this gleaming new structure.

'Look over there,' says one painter to another. 'It's postmodernism!'

'Thank God for that!' says another, 'I was beginning to think I would never getting out of this bloody desert.'

Soon, the cry is heard all around.

******

Post-modern art theory is an error, a self-delusion, a mirage. It's a fraud because, deep down, they know it’s a mirage. They drink the sand because it's the only drink in town.

I have, almost certainly, gone on for too long but I want to leave with one last thing.

I find it dangerous to derive art theory from the general cultural conditions of society. There is a relationship but it does not seem to me to be as profound as many commentators would like to believe. It is interesting that the three most influential painters of the modern era - (in no particular order) Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin - lived and worked as far outside of their contemporary societies as they could.

To quote Claes Oldenburg, 'square which becomes blobby'

Best wishes,

abvg


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50. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #49
 
   abvg,

When you wrote at the end of your last posting (which I thank you for) that you "find it dangerous to derive art theory from the general cultural conditions of society" - I assume you refer to my statement that I'm coming from a cultural-critical perspective - which, by the way, in no way implies that I'm in the business of deriving art theory from the general cultural conditions of society (which would not be a very bright idea). You go on: "There is a relationship but it does not seem to me to be as profound as many commentators would like to believe." And just what "commentators" are you talking about? At this point in history, that there indeed exists a relationship between art and the cultural conditions of western society is pretty much beyond dispute (even for neo-liberal reactionaries such as Karol Berger - see Berger's recent "A Theory of Art"). But in order to wave this relationship so lightly aside as you do, one has, only for starters, to dismiss the entire cultural-critical output of the Frankfurt School for Social Reasearch (where the concepts of "cultural criticism" and "critical theory" properly originated) and whose members made some rather persuasive cases for the "profound relationship" existing between art and society. I mean Theodore W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Leo Lowenthal, etc. and last but definitely not least, Walter Benjamin. For good measure, I'll throw in the art philosopher Max Raphael who was not a member of the Frankfurt School, but who should have been. If it had not been for the German student movement of the 1960s, in turn decisively influnced by the Frankfurt School (during WW II, the school operated in American exile), German society as a whole today would be quite different - that is, far less democratic (precisely the situation currently existing in America - or, haven't you heard?). The chapter in the devastating Horkheimer/Adorno study "The Dialectic of Enlightenment" entitled "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" should be required reading for EVERY artist without qualification. (In America, I used to get myself into trouble for quoting from this chapter: "enlightened" Americans don't usually like to hear such things.) An outstanding history of the Frankfurt School is by Martin Jay: "The Dialectical Imagination" (available in paperback).

I'm sorry, but your observation about Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin living and working outside their societies is so generalized and platt as to be virtually meaningless (excuse me please, but I happen to be informed over the lives of these artists). That Gauguin lived in Tahiti provides no support for a thesis over the separation of art and society. And your assertion that Van Gogh tried to live as far outside his own society as possible does not begin to correspond with the basic facts of Van Gogh's biography. Further, in light of Van Gogh's life-history, it is possible to maintain that Van Gogh was finally destroyed by his self-cultivated relationship to his own society - a relationship you strangely refuse to acknowledge. This is not only unhistorical, but disrespectful to the memory of what Van Gogh had to endure exactly because of his social relations - a "suffering" extending well beyond his miserable end into our time by the sale of his pictures for ever-more obscene sums. I won't even approach Cézanne.

I've the impression that what bothers you over Postmodernism is the populistic aura of "anti-intellectual intellectualism" which has come to hang over the subject itself in our culture (an aversion I can understand). But it is equally misguided to oppose this phenomenon with a sort of "intellectual anti-intellectualism". I admit that I'm somewhat disappointed with Jameson's study of Postmodernism, an opinion shared by others (the "perverted" theory of which, however, is not to be glibly laid at Jameson's door). Conversely, the first part of Jameson's book - the discussion/comparison between Warhol's "Diamond Dust Shoes" and Van Gogh's famous "Farmer's Shoes" - is well worth reading for a basic definition of the modernist/postmodernist opposition (available in the internet). Jameson is someone I began to read in the mid-1970s - I think before the term Postmodernism became fashionable - and I have a certain amount of respect for him as a philosopher (regardless of whether I always agree with him or not). Your accusation of Jameson as a "perverter" (along with the others) of "the course of artistic evolution" (!!!) is also so generalizing and indescriminate as to practically make no sense. Unless you bother to support your position with something more concrete - let's say something a bit more "scientifically informed" - aside from your entertaining and colorful painterly images, the charge of "fraud" (a serious charge even when supported) sounds absurd, to say the least.

As a painter, I also have a high regard for painting and what, in its uniqueness, it is capable of saying. But I recognize, too, that painting isn't the only form of knowledge and experience around. Philosophy can also bear fruit occasionally - philosophy, which Paul Valéry wisely designated as properly belonging to the arts.

In turn, I must warn you of something: I enjoy polemics, but have serious difficulties with near-nonsense masquerading as insight.

Best Wishes, David


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51. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #50
 
   (continuation follows)


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52. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #51
 
   "We are in danger of having a new kind of official art foisted upon us - official 'modern' art. It is being done by well intentioned people like the Pepsi-cola company who fail to realize that to be for something uncritically does more harm in the end than by being against it. For while official art, when it was thoroughly academic, furnished at least a sort of challenge, official 'modern' art of this type will confuse, discourage and dissuade the true creator." (Clement Greenberg, 1945)

abvg,

Since I've mentioned Max Raphael twice in my previous posts, I thought it might be a good idea to supply a quote from him: "Any state which under any circumstances whatever persecutes science, art, philosophy, or religion by any sort of arbitrary measures is an immoral state and an impotent one, whose recourse to brute force camouflages its weaknesses" (quoted by Herbert Read in his preface to Raphael's "The Demands of Art").

I would like to begin supporting the thesis that Postmodernism is essentially, to use Andreas Huyssen's term, "an American internationale" (see "Postmoderne: Zeichen eines kulturelle Wandels", Rowohlt, 1997, ed. Andreas Huyssen & Klaus R. Scherpe). But first I need to remind you that Pop Art could never have existed without the deep, long-standing mistrust for the concept of Autonomous Art originating in "old Europe" (the SAME American prejudice of "old Europe" now put into the headlines by US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld). The dark ideological underside of the American mass-culture "renaissance" (whose beginnings predate the end of WW II by at least three decades) is fashioned around the populistic conviction that after America's arrival on the stage of world culture, "that old European stuff" will no longer be needed by anyone outside of a few old Europeans". This is what Raphael means by the phrase "under any circumstances whatever" - which theoretically includes just such an American cultural prejudice; and Raphael's "brute force" may be taken to mean the kind of cultural-economic domination in the meantime perfected by America.

Perhaps one of the most influential Pop-era critiques was "The New Mutants" by the American critic Leslie Fiedler, in which the postmodern is hailed as a populistic "post-white", "post-male", "post-humanistic" and "post-puritannical" (new) world. (It should never be forgetten: in America, "old" = "bad" and "new" = "good" - black and white oppositions we might, I fear, see played-out in headlines yet-to-come.)

"Fiedler's populism is located on the other side of an absolute art/mass-culture dichotomy, serving Adorno and Greenberg as supports for a dogmatic modernism which Fiedler, in fact, wanted to bury completely. Fiedler simply took a position on the other bank, insulting all 'elitist' art and singing the song of praise of the popular (Völkstumlichen). Yet Fiedler's emphatic solution - to cross the boundaries betweed high art and mass-culture, decreasing the distance between the two, as well as his explicit critique of what would be later called 'Euro-', 'Logo-' and 'Phallocentricism' - can be considered important signposts for further developments of the postmodern." (Huyssen, op cit, p. 21)

My overall thesis is that the cultural seeds of Postmodernism are contained in America's very origins as a nation. The (autonomous) high art of "old Europe" does not - and never did - pass into the American democratic cultural ideal. It is not that the founders of America were unaware of high art or its significance. As true sons of the Enlightment, however, they felt that these "aristocratic" art concepts were expendable luxuries - irrelevant and unnessesary to the American Experiment, something the New World - and by later extension, humanity - could live without. Prior to the end of WW II, America's cultural elite suffered from an ongoing, if not semi-private, "inferiority complex" in relation to the concepts of European high art and culture. Nor did America's position as the leading producer of mass-culture (a form, by the way, with thoroughly European origins) help matters very much. As the "winner of WW II" and a nation already well on the road to world domination (albeit with somewhat different tactics than those of the present), America's cultural elite felt that it could finally afford to discard its old and not a little embarassing self-image as a culturally underdeveloped class. All that remained was to fashion a cultural-revolutionary redefinition of the concept of art itself. Kierkegaard has drawn an instructive distinction between a "passionate age" and a "truely revolutionary age". A passionate age razes everything to the ground, leaves nothing standing; a truely revolutionary age leaves everything standing just as before, but "cunningly emptied of significance."

Postmodernism was the result of the post-WW II relocation of the Art Capitol of the World from Paris to New York conditioned by two important historical factors: (1) the nihilistic (atomic) brutality with which America "won" WW II (which is still very much with us) and (2) America's post-war cultural-economic-military world hegemony (which continues).

Best Wishes, David


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57. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #52
 
   David,
*****************************************************
and Ilia,

You will have to forgive me. I seem to be about three or four posts behind the game. (Well, that sums up the story of my life) I will do my best to catch up.
*****************************************************


Thanks for your latest post.

I particularly enjoyed the quote from Kierkegaard, I have not seen that before.

I have two questions for you. They may or may not be related.

1) Accepting that cultural postmodernism was originated and dominated by 'an American Internationale', do you think that it is the inherent 'Americaness' that has led to the decline in the value of painting as an artform?

2) I have always felt that Americans (and I am speaking generally here) are isolationists at heart. You are in a better position than I am to comment on that. If it is true, does that leave an isolationist worm at the core of post-modern culture?

Finally, in response to your previous comments about philosophy, I am preparing a piece on why we should all distrust philosophy when it comes to art. I am still tidying up my sources so you may have wait a few days for it. I think you will enjoy it though.

Somewhere, I think, I still have my 'Hegel Sucks' T Shirt.

Best wishes,

abvg


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53. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #50
 
   David,

Many thanks for your latest post.

I did warn you it was going to be simplistic. I offered no proofs just a clarification of the position I currently occupy (no more, no less).

As for my charge of 'fraudulently perverting the course of artistic evolution', you should remember the golden rule: if it looks absurd, smells absurd, sounds absurd, and feels absurd … then it's absurd. If you would prefer a more sober comment on the post-modern theorists then I would say that I am not fully convinced by their arguments. I do not reject all they have to offer but I cannot help feeling that the structures they raise are not wholly substantial - with reference, I should add, to post-modern painting. Can I, at least, charge them with wilful satanism in the face of moral sensibilities? Frightening children? Inbreeding?

I will admit that my final comments were not well crafted but I am still referring to the post-modern critics - nothing else.

What I am trying to say, albeit awkwardly, is that we may have to wait until history casts its judgement before we can finally nail down the question of post-modern painting. Post-modern art-critical theory contains, I feel, an element of prematurity (if there is such a word).

It is the post-modern critic (with his binoculars) that I mean when I say, 'I find it dangerous …'.

'Every work of art is a child of its time.' Kandinsky (I think). Every artist is the product of his environment, experiences, culture, history, language, writing systems etc. There is a relationship. How much more profound do you want or need the relationship to be?

The point I was trying to make (apparently very badly) about Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin is that if you imagine a critic standing in the midst of impressionism and looking forward into the future for a new theory of art, would he be able to see the immense contribution these three men were already making? All of them, in one way or another, removed themselves from the immediacy of their societal landscape. (I really do not like that phrase but I am hoping that you will understand what I mean.) Any attempt to construct a new theory of art at that time would have suffered grievously from their omission.

I stand one hundred percent behind my Oldenburg quote: 'square which becomes blobby'

Finally, and this is where I like getting really facetious at this time of night:

It has never crossed my mind to wave anything at all at the marxist cabal of the Frankfurt School.

But now you mention it…

P.S. It looks like there are another two posts from you so this might be out of sequence.

Best wishes,


abvg


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54. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #53
 
   abvg,

I only wanted to give you a quick reply to your last post - and try to clear up several things at the same time. First, I apologize for any misunderstandings that may have come from my side. I feel that we finally have similar views on Postmodernism, painting, Autonomous Art, etc. - only from different perspectives (which is not all that surprising). It seems that no matter how much one tries to say things clearly, something always goes astray. But you have to keep trying...

I also want to excuse all the typos and spelling mistakes in my last post (I also work late - or very early in the AM) - especially a sentence toward the end of my last post which didn't exactly say what I wanted it to. I should have said: "As the "winner" of WW II, America was already a nation well on the road to world domination, albeit with somewhat different tactics than those of the present. And one of the major - though sometimes neglected - results of this "total victory", was that America's cultural elite felt that it could finally afford to discard its old and not a little embarassing self-image as a culturally underdeveloped class."

"Postmodernism is a punk band from Oklahoma" - New York City cabdriver

(Preface quote from Warren Burt's essay: "Zurbrugg's Complaint, Or How an Artist Came to Criticize a Critic's Criticism of the Critics" in Critical Vices -The Myths of Postmodern Theory" by Nicholas Zurbrugg, 2000)

I grew up on the Arkansas side of the Arkansas/Oklahoma border and this somehow reminds me of the time many years ago when I was driving with a friend on a dirt road just over the border in Oklahoma territory (which used to belong to the Cherokee Indians). We were uncertain of where the road might take us, so we asked a guy we passed if he knew where the road might lead. He thought for a while before answering: "Well ... this here road don' go nowhere!" I've always suspected that the Oklahomans may have had SOMETHING to do with it, but I had to wait a long time before finding the above-quoted evidence. So there you have my "conspiracy" theory over Postmodernism.

On a slightly more serious note, I want to give you a passage from Camus' "The Rebel" (1951) which relates directly to our problem. (As you may have noticed, I am fond of quotes). It has always made me feel better to read this passage.

"One of the implications of history today, and still more of the history of tomorrow, is the struggle between the artists and the new conquerors, between the witnesses to the creative revolution and the nihilist revolution. As to the outcome of the struggle, it is possible to make only inspired guesses. At least we know that it must be carried out to the bitter end. Modern conquerers can kill, but cannot really create. Artists know how to create, but cannot really kill. Murderers are only very exceptionally found among artists. In the long run, therefore, art in our revolutionary societies must die. But then the revolution will have lived its allotted span. Each time the revolution kills in a man the artist that he might have been, it attenuates itself a little more. If, finally, the conquerors succeed in molding the world according to its laws, it will not prove that quantity is king, but that this world is hell. In this hell, the place of art will coincide with that of vanquished rebellion, a blind and empty hope in the pit of despair....

But hell can endure for only a limited period, and life will begin again one day. History may have an end; but it is our task not to terminate it but to create it, in the image of what we henceforth know to be true. Art, at least, teaches us that man cannot be explained by history alone and that he also finds a reason for his existence in the order of....His most instinctive act of rebellion, while it affirms the value and dignity common to all men, obstinately claims, so as to satisfy its hunger for unity, an integral part of the reality which is beauty....Beauty, no doubt, does not make revolutions. But a day will come when revolutions will have need of beauty. The procedure of beauty, which is to contest reality while endowing it with unity, is also the procedure of rebellion. Is it possible eternally to reject injustice without ceasing to acclaim the nature of man and the beauty of the world? Our answer is yes. This ethic, at once unsubmissive and loyal, is in any event the only one that lights the way to a truly realistic revolution. In upholding beauty, we prepare the way for the day of regeneration when civilization will give first place - far ahead of the formal principles and degraded values of history - to this living virture on which is founded the common dignity of man and the world that he lives in, and which we must defend in the face of a world that insults it."

One of the revolutions Camus is talking about is what came to be known as Postmodernism.

Best Wishes, David


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55. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #54
 
...it will only make sense if there would be any definite (for the luck of the better word) meaning of life. In my opinion artist would be the one who should be on a forefront (if anyone else) of defining it...


acting for the sake of action whether it would be postmodernism or else is just like "chewing on your own snot" (according to current Russian President).

I did like the point:

"It is interesting that the three most influential painters of the modern era - (in no particular order) Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin - lived and worked as far outside of their contemporary societies as they could"

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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56. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #54
 
   ERRATA: Two sentences in the above quote from Camus' "The Rebel" are incorrect. They should read:(1) "If, finally, the new conquerors succeed in molding the world according to THEIR laws, it will not prove that quantity is king, but that this world is hell." (2) "Art, at least, teaches us that man cannot be explained by history alone and he also finds a reason for his existence in the order of NATURE."

Well, I SAID that I work late. (Maybe I need new reading glasses - Mensch!) Sorry. - David


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58. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #54
 
   David and Ilia,

I send this post to keep current with the posts so far and, hopefully, I will get it in before either of you send anything else.

David,

As I think I explained in one of my posts a long time ago, if this were a real café we would have the chance to interrupt each other in order to clarify specific points as soon as they are raised. Since we are not in a real café, all we can do is try to extract what meaning we can from what is before us.

I would like to explain something about myself so that we may understand each other better.

I am a minimalist by nature. What I mean is not that I paint minimalist paintings but that I live my life in a minimalist fashion. It was not a conscious decision to do so, it just seems to be the way I was put together. I was not even aware of it until, a few years ago, a friend of mine happened to make casual remark to that effect. It surprised me at first, but I quickly realised that he was right.

Being a 'minimalist by nature' has several consequences but the one I want to mention here is that I tend to severely distil my thoughts (no matter how complex) into one or two sentences. It causes me no end of problems particularly in an environment that does not allow immediate two-way interaction.

It is true that we are coming to the problem from two different directions. Mine is from the viewpoint of art history, yours from a culture-critical perspective. Both viewpoints are perfectly valid. We just have to be careful to differentiate between post-modern culture, post-modern art (something that I dispute exists), and art in the post-modern period (not necessarily the same thing).

This is Donald Judd from 'A long discussion not about master-pieces but why there are so few of them -Part 1 - 1984.' Here he is talking about post-modern art.

"Much is made now of the catchword 'post-modern,' which includes more every day. This term has been made by changing the meaning of the word 'modern' from 'now,' which is all it ever meant, to a meaning as a style, which the word cannot mean, since no style can include such diversity. Wright, van der Rohe and Corbusier are thrown together and tossed off as being 'modern.' This 'modern' means only earlier and by now opprobriously established, and 'post-modern' means modern. I've thought of an even better label, 'post-contemporary.' 'Post-modern' is being used to obscure the issue of quality by claiming a presentness and a popularity supposedly superior to that of acknowledged art and architecture, no matter how good they are and in fact regardless of their pertinence, democracy and acceptance so far. This is cant. It's hypocrisy to seem to criticize the work of the recent past, especially by ascribing spurious purposes and meanings to it, while indiscriminately mining the greater past. It's setting up a straw man to supersede to identify 'modern' with the 'international style,' a commercial simplification of van der Rohe's work, made by the same architects, Johnson for one, who now say that the style is cold and repetitious, as they made it, and that it must be replaced by another, hopefully diverse and entertaining. The elaboration of the term 'post-modern' is not due to real change but is due to naked fashion and the need to cover it with words."

In my previous post, I said that I am preparing a piece on philosophy's comments on art. This is not entirely true. The piece will deal more generally with art criticism but includes philosophy's writing on art. The reason I mention it is that the Camus text you supplied has a direct relationship with my central point in that piece.

Also (incidentally) from 'The Rebel':

"… the fact that creation is necessary does not perforce imply that it is possible. A creative period in art is determined by the order of a particular style applied to the disorder of a particular time. It gives form and formulae to contemporary passions. <…> Today when collective passions have stolen a march on individual passions, the ecstasy of love can always be controlled by art. But the ineluctable problem is also to control collective passions and the historic struggle. The scope of art, despite the regrets of the plagiarists, has been extended from psychology to the human condition. When the passions of the times put the fate of the whole world at stake, creation wants to dominate the whole of destiny. But, at the same time, it maintains, in the face of totality, the affirmation of unity. In simple words, creation is then imperilled, first by itself, and then by the spirit of totality. To create, today, is to create dangerously.

Collective passions must, in fact, be lived through and experienced, at least relatively. At the same time that he experiences them, the artist is devoured by them. The result is that our period is rather the period of reportage than the period of the work of art."

By the way, we Brits always excuse Americans their quaint attitude towards spelling.

Ilia,

I thought everyone knew that the answer to the great question of life, the universe, and everything is 42.

Best wishes to you both,


abvg


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59. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #58
 
   abvg,

Thank you for the informative post. I will also attempt something by way of self-explanation and clarification. First, I'm pleased that you liked the Kierkegaard "quote" which I paraphrased from my recollection of it (during my student time, I had it pinned to my wall). I found the exact quote only yesterday - which had long been misplaced among my loose papers: "A passionate, tumultuous age will OVERTHROW EVERYTHING, PULL EVERYTHING DOWN; but a revolutionary age, that is at the same time reflective and passionless ... leaves everything standing but cunningly empties it of significance." ("The Present Age") I was wondering ... does this quote fit your definition of distilled thought?

I agree that a virtual cafe presents obstacles to smooth communication, sometimes promoting misunderstandings. We indeed have no choice but to work with what is there. Here is some background over myself which I hope may further better mutual understanding.

Like you, I cannot call myself a minimalist painter. During my university studies in America (early 1970s) it might have been in a sense "better" for me if I'd been able to. The outspokenly authoritarian director of the painting department of my school was not only a minimalist painter, but a very successful, well-known minimalist painter. Together with his "mafia" of teaching assistants, he wasn't in the least above openly persecuting certain painting students who proved resistant to his "postmodern", rabidly anti-romantic prejudices over how one was required to march in step with the ever-advancing zeitgeist of the post-Pop art world. This situation - not exactly one of academic freedom, let alone artistic freedom - was a primary reason for my decision to take my degree in art history instead of painting - a decision I've never regretted. (I had nothing against "difficult" or demanding professors - only a complete lack of tolerance for bigoted tyrants. Some students simply left the school altogether - a choice which others like myself, owing to finances, were in no position to make. An essay confirming my experiences with minimalists and views of Minimalism in general is "Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power" by Anna C. Chave in "Art in Modern Culture" ed Francis Frascina.)

I did have, on the other hand, the compensating opportunity to study under one really outstanding - though demanding - professor of art history. It is to this professor that I owe my understanding of art history as a necessarily "method-limited" discipline, one which only begins to yield insight into its subject to the extent of its operation within a broad interdisciplinary sphere - including the cultural-critical among others - consequently raised to the level of what would then be called the "philosophy of art". This is what I meant by using the term "philosophy" in connection with art, in distinction to what various philosophers or philosophical schools have had to say over the matter (it is good to remember here that the Frankfurt School was founded as a interdisciplinary project). I'm sorry if this was unclear.

In fact, my professor's overall approach had much in common with the "empirical" theory of Max Raphael (while I became acquainted with Raphael not through my art history professor, but my German literature professor, who had translated one of Adorno's major works). And it is the very similar method of my art history professor which is reflected in Raphael's description of the artistic process:

"Artistic creation involves the totality of dispositions, functions, relations, facts, and values - all of these in harmonious interaction: body and soul, inwardness and outwardness, the individual and the community, the self and the cosmos, tradition and revolution, instinct and freedom, life and death, becoming and being, the self and fate, struggle and structure, the Dionysian and the Appolonian, law and accident, structure and surface, contemplation and action, education and achievement, sensuality and spirit, doubt and faith, love and duty, ugliness and perfection, the finite and the infinite. Neither one of any pair of these terms should exclude the other nor should any pair exclude any other - they must be brought together into a higher unity." ("The Struggle to Understand Art")

My professor was famous for running out of time at the end of a term before reaching the culminating picture of a totality such as the one outlined above. I remember one Chinese art seminar which sadly ended with the end of its beginning. When I read accounts of Raphael's "passion", I see my professor's manner as he lectured - only to be described as a mixture of totally committed professionalism and sheer inspiration.

I hope this better clarifies my position - including my conviction that an approach failing to account for nothing less than the utter complexity of what we aim to discuss here may threaten to degenerate into a simple waste of time. Might this be our real conflict? I can appreciate your personal tendency toward simplification (which was a high ideal for people like Emerson and Thoreau) - but it doesn't function very well when it becomes necessary to make complex sense out of still more complex dilemmas. At any rate, I'm skeptical of the idea that it may always be possible to distill complex and often contradictory phenomena into a sentence or two - without either risking jargon or outright falsification. (Economical thought-construction is another matter.) If this sounds a bit austere, then it probably is. I think it's no accident that the first major English edition of Raphael's writings bears the title "The Demands of Art". I'm not saying that we, as painters, are required to be forever equal to the full challenge of what Raphael attempted as an art philosopher (after all, we should be occupied with being, in the first place, painters). I am saying that I believe that it would be a grave mistake for painters not to work at - as a joint activity outside of painting itself - a philosophy of art countering those who in all seriousness proclaim the death of Autonomous Art - and painting into the bargain. Finally, the competition is far ahead of us in this endeavor.

I will continue later: In your previous post you raised two extremely important questions which I'd still like to address.

Best regards, David


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63. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #59
 
   David,

I agree with your assessment of minimalist thought and the over-distillation of complex ideas. Understand, though, it is an error into which I fall. I do not actively seek minimalism in life, nor do I advocate it.

Best wishes,

abvg


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David Powell
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09-Feb-03, 08:09 PM (PST)
 
69. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #63
 
   abvg,
I'm a bit confused by your somewhat curt reply to my last post. (I've read through my last post again to make sure that my memory of it was correct). My account of my university painting professor - just to set the record straight - in no way constitutes my "assessment of minimalist thought". (I did give a reference to an essay which I said confirms my experience with minimalists and views of Minimalism in general - if anyone cares to read it.) Further, I understand completely that you "do not actively seek minimalism in life, nor do (you) advocate it" - but remember, you originally brought up the term "minimalism" (not me).

I'm glad you agree with my thoughts concerning the over-distillation of complex ideas (maybe the term "over-simplification" fits better). What I have trouble understanding, however, is your sentence: "Understand, though, it is an error into which I fall." Am I only supposed to "understand" (overlook) that you fall into the error of the over-simplification of complex thoughts? Or am I only supposed step aside while you indulge in an even more self-indulgent personal tendency toward over-simplification at the expense of the entire discussion? (which is, as far as I'm concerned, precisely what you did in your last long post). You have, of course, the right to fall back behind your own personal errors (if this is what you're doing). But the question I have to ask myself is whether it's worth the considerable time and trouble I invest in writing my posts when I more than once have the impression that you mainly sidestep the larger issues and themes that I raise (as was the case with my last post). In other words, if I want to have a conversation with myself, I don't need to go into the internet for it.

Quite frankly, I'm disappointed. I'd hoped for a discussion over "The Death of Painting". But this hasn't materialized. BRAIN WARS ŕ la Betty Edwards? (you really can't be serious with all this nonsense). If you want to throw around simplistic half- and quarter-truths over left-brain/right-brain functions (in lobotomized brains, yet!) in a manner elevating such "insights" into THE ANSWER which explains everything about The Condition of Human Art, you'll have to do it without me. (But then, perhaps this is your ultimate aim.)


In closing, I'll leave you with one last thought. My "golden rule" is to completely forget how it looks, smells, feels or sounds: think for yourself, question authority, look behind every appearance and always keep in mind that ALL governments - as well as reductionist thought systems - lie.

- David


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72. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #69
 
   David,

Many thanks for your latest post.

"I'm a bit confused by your somewhat curt reply to my last post. (I've read through my last post again to make sure that my memory of it was correct). My account of my university painting professor - just to set the record straight - in no way constitutes my "assessment of minimalist thought". (I did give a reference to an essay which I said confirms my experience with minimalists and views of Minimalism in general - if anyone cares to read it.) Further, I understand completely that you "do not actively seek minimalism in life, nor do (you) advocate it" - but remember, you originally brought up the term "minimalism" (not me)."

I am sorry if my reply your posting seemed "somewhat curt". I had just uploaded my "Art - The Final Battlefield" piece, noticed your latest post, and wanted to make sure that you were aware that I had seen it. I had quickly read your posting online and it was your comment,

"At any rate, I'm skeptical of the idea that it may always be possible to distill complex and often contradictory phenomena into a sentence or two - without either risking jargon or outright falsification. (Economical thought-construction is another matter.)"

that made me wonder if you had misunderstood my earlier comments. It is this that I meant when I said, "I agree with your assessment of minimalist thought and the over-distillation of complex ideas. Understand, though, it is an error into which I fall. I do not actively seek minimalism in life, nor do I advocate it."

It was my intention to comment more fully upon your posting after I had the opportunity to read it more closely offline. I should have made this clear.

"I'm glad you agree with my thoughts concerning the over-distillation of complex ideas (maybe the term "over-simplification" fits better). What I have trouble understanding, however, is your sentence: "Understand, though, it is an error into which I fall." Am I only supposed to "understand" (overlook) that you fall into the error of the over-simplification of complex thoughts? Or am I only supposed step aside while you indulge in an even more self-indulgent personal tendency toward over-simplification at the expense of the entire discussion? (which is, as far as I'm concerned, precisely what you did in your last long post)."

This is precisely what I did not do, as well you know. In post 57 I warned you I was writing the piece. I reminded you of it again in post 58. I prefaced the piece itself with the words "David, As promised." To mistake this for a reply to an unrelated posting of yours is not a misunderstanding but deliberately perverse. It injures us both. It makes me look ungrateful for the hard work you have done and it makes you look foolish. I am not the one and you are not the other.

I am not asking you to "overlook" my tendency towards over-simplification. I am asking you to seek clarification at any time you think I have fallen into this error rather than just launching into a bad tempered tirade (to which, it seems, you have a tendency.)

"Quite frankly, I'm disappointed. I'd hoped for a discussion over "The Death of Painting". But this hasn't materialized. BRAIN WARS ŕ la Betty Edwards? (you really can't be serious with all this nonsense)."

I am indebted to Betty Edwards and her book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain." It stepped into help when my local library was having trouble getting hold of the works by Roger Sperry and Jerre Levy.

Roger Sperry first made his name in the field of developmental neurobiology which helped establish the way nerve cells are wired up in the central nervous system. He later pioneered the behavioral investigation of "split brain" animals and humans. His research suggests that two separate realms of consciousness exist under one skull. His research led him to philosophy and the "mind/brain problem." He was Hixon professor of psychobiology at the California Institute of Technology for about thirty years and won the Nobel Prize in the early eighties.

As far as I am aware the left brain/right brain model is mainstream scientific thought and has been for about twenty years. Subsequently research has built on the foundations laid by Roger Sperry.

It was the documentary "The History of Writing", currently doing the rounds on the Civilization channel, and which makes extensive use of the left brain/right brain model that originally brought the piece to mind (if you pardon the pun).

In your earlier rant you wrote "Unless you bother to support your position with something more concrete - let's say something a bit more 'scientifically informed'<…>." Now, something a bit more scientifically informed is "nonsense."

To call it "all this nonsense" is certainly bold. It does surprise me though in two respects. Firstly, I know you hate over-simplification and yet here you are indulging in it (with a healthy dose of intellectual snobbery thrown in for good measure, I notice.)

Secondly, if there is one thing we do agree on, it is the view that a broad interdisciplinary approach to art history is essential. In one of your earlier postings you supplied a wonderful quote from Max Raphael,

"Artistic creation involves the totality of dispositions, functions, relations, facts, and values - all of these in harmonious interaction: body and soul, inwardness and outwardness, the individual and the community, the self and the cosmos, tradition and revolution, instinct and freedom, life and death, becoming and being, the self and fate, struggle and structure, the Dionysian and the Appolonian, law and accident, structure and surface, contemplation and action, education and achievement, sensuality and spirit, doubt and faith, love and duty, ugliness and perfection, the finite and the infinite. Neither one of any pair of these terms should exclude the other nor should any pair exclude any other - they must be brought together into a higher unity." ("The Struggle to Understand Art")

My central point in the piece is that writing on art by philosophers, critics, and artists has, in general, become increasingly intellectually complex and abstract over the years and that art itself shows a trend to becoming overtly intellectual in nature and form. Had I said that in an earlier posting I feared that you would jump down my throat for over-simplification. So I wrote the piece in an attempt to explain more fully why I believe this is so. It seems I can do nothing right. If it is "short and sweet" it is "somewhat curt" or a "meaningless over-simplification." If it is a longer explanation it is "an even more self-indulgent personal tendency toward over-simplification."

I, too, am getting frustrated. I believe we are both doing our best to grapple with a complex problem but we are still having problems with our communication.

"If you want to throw around simplistic half- and quarter-truths over left-brain/right-brain functions (in lobotomized brains, yet!) in a manner elevating such "insights" into THE ANSWER which explains everything about The Condition of Human Art, you'll have to do it without me. (But then, perhaps this is your ultimate aim.)"

THE ANSWER is 42 (Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, A Trilogy in Four Parts.)

At the end of the piece, I realized that the form in which I chose to present it (to make it entertaining) could easily be misinterpreted to mean that I regarded this as the only issue in art worth considering. That is why I wrote:

"I have presented the material here in such a way that may give the impression that I believe that this is the only issue in art.

It is not."

Yet, you accuse me of it anyway! Is this NOT perverse?

I suppose you do realize by now that considering the number and type of outright errors in your posting, the whole thing supports my piece perfectly as a very good example of "left brain ego" denial. We like to think that we are the masters of our own minds. It is not unreasonable to expect that we ARE the masters of our own minds. As unpalatable as it may sound, as unpalatable as it may be, it does not seem to be necessarily so. There is something within us, call it "left brain ego" or any other label you care to stick on it, that does not always act in our best interests. It always acts in its own best interest, but that is not necessarily ours. I do not claim immunity. I am as much a victim as everyone else.

I will leave this with one final quote.

"Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art."

Susan Sontag
Against Interpretation

I, like you, do not want this to turn into a "yes it is, no it isn't" argument. You are correct in that we seem to be getting side-tracked away from the central problem.

If it helps, I propose that we draw a line under everything that has gone before.

The questions on the table are these:

1) Is painting / autonomous art dead as a valid and vital artform? Is it possible that it might be dead even beyond the "inevitable death of art in our revolutionary societies?"

2) Should we mourn its passing or can we find a new "position" for it - a reinvention of painting?

3) Accepting that cultural postmodernism was originated and dominated by 'an American Internationale', do you think that it is the inherent 'Americaness' that has led to the decline in the value of painting as an artform?

4) I have always felt that Americans (and I am speaking generally here) are isolationists at heart. You are in a better position than I am to comment on that. If it is true, does that leave an isolationist worm at the core of post-modern culture?

I do not have answers to these questions. That is why I ask them. I know you have promised me an answer on the last two and I really do look forward to receiving them.

Despite our differences, I still think you are my best hope for an answer to these questions. Though you may feel otherwise at the moment, I do value your opinions and your help.

Best wishes,

abvg


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David Powell
unregistered user
13-Feb-03, 07:41 PM (PST)
 
74. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #72
 
   abvg,

I sincerely thank you for your honest post. I appreciate it more than anything you've written so far. "Despite our differences, I still think you are my best hope for an answer to these questions....I do value your opinions and your help." - this more or less sums up what I myself thought from the beginnings of our discussion (which might explain at least some of my frustration). Your proposition that "we draw a line under everything that has gone before" sounds to me like a very good idea. In the moment, I couldn't possibly address everything you said in your post (I'm of the opinion that such things are best done "over a drink" - which isn't possible here anyway). I will, though, try to say a few things.

First, I wasn't nearly as "pissed off" as you might have thought (well, if I was, I no longer am). Second, as you yourself realize, there were a lot of unfortunate misunderstandings on both sides. Third, we don't know one another at all (which is the difficult aspect of a discussion like this - I myself am more of an old-fashioned "letter writer" and I'm not all that crazy about the internet). Add all this to the fact that we are (and I don't want to get into any artist-personality cliches) probably - you know - "not exactly uncomplicated individuals".

You also said at the end of your post: "writing on art by philosophers, critics, and artists has, in general, become increasingly intellectually complex and abstract over the years and that art itself shows a trend to becoming overtly intellectual in nature and form. Had I said that in an earlier posting, I feared that you might jump down my throat for over-simplification." No, abvg, I can honestly assure you that had you written that, I would not have jumped down your throat - I would have been glad to hear it! Here, I have to say that you have your finger on an important aspect of the whole problem.

(I know of Adams' "Hitch hiker's Guide" but have never read it, so THE ANSWER is 42 goes completely by me...)

There are, however, a number of things you've accused me of that I could take issue with - being "perverse", my "intellectual snobbery", etc., but this would perhaps be counter-productive at this point. I really didn't consciously intend to sound or behave in such ways - and this goes the other way as well, I'm sure. Nevertheless, I have a real problem with the idea that "the number of outright errors in (my) posting...(is) a very good example of 'left brain ego' denial". But, as I said, I'd rather not get into it for the time being.

I will also say that with the Betty Edwards book, you hit one of my nerves. The text which I haven't posted yet has to do with this - and I hope - for what it's worth - it sheds some kind of light on the subject. (I'm too exhausted to type in the text tonight. But don't worry, in my text I don't have "bad tempered tirades", rant or rave, or say insulting things about you.)

One final thing: during the last ten years (nothing you could have known), I've had a lot of disappointing and frustrating experiences with other artists. Things are now beginning to look somewhat better, but I'm also rather frayed at the edges - I still have to recover from a long time of expecting the worst from my relationships. (I'm also a bit on edge - with a lot of others - because I'm not in the least bit looking forward to seeing America and its allies carry out their plans to invade Iraq - only the second stop on the "Axis of Evil").

- David


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14-Feb-03, 05:49 PM (PST)
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75. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #74
 
   David,

Many thanks for your post.

I am glad that you think we can still continue with the discussion. I do not have the time tonight to comment at length about your post but there are a couple of things I wanted to mention now.

Firstly, purely a technnical matter, I think we should try to make it so that our posts appear at the end of the list. I am having difficulty sorting out which posts I have seen and which posts I am replying to. May I suggest that whoever sends the next post start a new root (as it were.) In other words, making it a new post even if it is a reply rather than making it a reply itself. Does that make sense? I am not sure that it does but I hope you can extract some sort of meaning from it.

Secondly, when I can comment more fully on your post I will tell you, briefly, how The Answer to the Great Question of Life, The Universe and Everything came to be 42.

Thirdly, I share your concerns over the Iraq situation and I also have concerns over the German, French, and Belgian positions. I would like to comment and question more fully on this at a later date.

Lastly, I am going to be missing for the best part of the next two weeks starting from this Sunday 16th. If I can, I will get a proper reply to you tomorrow. If I can't, please bear with me and I will catch up when I return.

Best wishes,

abvg


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07-Feb-03, 04:29 PM (PST)
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60. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #58
 
   David,

As promised.


ART, THE FINAL BATTLEFIELD

THE CONTESTANTS

Much I owe to the lands that grew -
More to the Lives that fed -
But most to the Allah Who gave me Two
Separate sides to my head.

Much I reflect on the Good and the True
In the faiths beneath the sun
But most upon Allah Who gave me Two
Sides to my head, not one.

I would go without shirt or shoe,
Friend, tobacco or bread,
Sooner than lose for a minute the two
Separate sides of my head!

Rudyard Kipling
"The Two-Sided Man"

"The main theme to emerge … is that there appear to be two modes of thinking, verbal and non-verbal, represented rather separately in left and right hemispheres, respectively, and that our educational system, as well as science in general, tends to neglect the non-verbal form of intellect. What it comes down to is that modern society discriminates against the right hemisphere."

Roger W. Sperry,
"Lateral Specialization of Cerebral Function in the Surgically Separated Hemispheres"

Brains come in two hemispheres. In animals, the two hemispheres are symmetrical in function, whereas in humans the hemispheres develop asymmetrically. Thanks to one hundred and sixty-odd years of scientific research, we now know a lot about the functioning of the human brain. There is more to discover, unquestionably, but our current knowledge is considerable.

We know, for example, that the two hemispheres are cross-wired - left brain, right hand, right brain, left hand. We know that the left brain is responsible for language and language-related abilities.

We know that both hemispheres are involved in the higher cognitive functions, each specialized for different modes of thought. One thing is very clear and can be supported by masses of empirical evidence - left brain reason, right brain art.

"The data indicate that the mute, minor hemisphere is specialized for Gestalt perception, being primarily a synthesist in dealing with information input. The speaking, major hemisphere, in contrast, seems to operate in a more logical, analytic, computer-like fashion. Its language is inadequate for the rapid complex syntheses achieved by the minor hemisphere."

Jerre Levy
Roger W. Sperry

"The left hemisphere analyses over time, whereas the right hemisphere synthesizes over space."

Jerre Levy
"Psychobiological Implications of Bilateral Asymmetry"

"When I eat a tomato I look at it the way anyone else would. But when I paint a tomato, then I see it differently."

Picasso

Parallel Ways of Knowing

intellect intuition
convergent divergent
digital analogic
secondary primary
abstract concrete
directed free
propositional imaginative
analytical relational
lineal non-linear
rational intuitive
sequential multiple
analytic holistic
objective subjective
successive simultaneous

J. E. Bergen
"Some Educational Aspects of Hemisphere Specialization"

The Duality of Yin and Yang

Yin Yang
feminine masculine
negative positive
moon sun
darkness light
yielding aggressive
left side right side
warm cold
autumn spring
winter summer
unconscious conscious
right brain left brain
emotion reason

I Ching or Book of Changes

There is no question that in western societies the left brain is dominant. Our writing system, the Roman alphabet - itself descended from the Sumerian, through the Phoenician and the Greek - promotes and sustains left brain hegemony. The left brain is not opposed to maintaining its dominance either.

THE WAR

Within us, a war has been raging for probably thousands of years between the left and right brains. It is only recently that teachers have stopped forcing left-handed children to use their right hands. Our language provides some excellent examples of this "ancient bias". The Latin word for left is "sinister". The Latin word for right is "dexter" meaning skill or adroitness. The French word for left is "qauche" meaning awkward. The French for right is "droit" meaning good, just, or proper. In English, left comes from the Anglo-Saxon "lyft" meaning weak or worthless, right comes from "reht" meaning strait or just.

"In the terms of cultural customs, the place of honour at a formal dinner is on the host's right-hand side. The groom stands on the right in the marriage ceremony, the bride on the left - a non-verbal message of the relative status of the two participants. We shake hands with our right hands; it seems somehow wrong to shake hands with our left hands.

Under 'left handed,' the dictionary lists as synonyms 'clumsy,' 'awkward,' 'insincere,' 'malicious.' Synonyms for 'right handed,' however, are 'correct,' 'indispensable,' and 'reliable.' Now, it's important to remember that these terms were all made up, when languages began, by some persons' left hemispheres - the left brain calling the right bad names! And the right brain - labeled, pinpointed, and buttonholed - was without a language of its own to defend itself."

Betty Edwards
"Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain"

I am not even going to touch left wing and right wing politics.

THE BATTLEFIELD

Art is the domain of the right brain. It is probably the only domain in western society still free from left brain domination. But even a cursory glance at art history will show that it has had to endure a sustained attack upon it.

" was given the task of painting a picture of St Mathew for the altar of a church in Rome. The saint was to be represented writing the gospel, and, to show that the gospels were the word of God, an angel was to be represented inspiring his writings. Caravaggio, who was a highly imaginative and uncompromising young artist, thought hard about what it must have been like when an elderly, poor, working man, a simple publican, suddenly had to sit down and write a book. And so he painted a picture of St Mathew … with a bald head and bear, dusty feet, awkwardly gripping the huge volume, anxiously wrinkling his brow under the unaccustomed strain of writing. By his side he painted a youthful angel, who seems just to have arrived from on high, and who gently guides the labourer's hand as a teacher may do a child. When Caravaggio delivered this picture to the church where it was placed on the altar, people were scandalized at what they took to be a lack of respect for the saint. The painting was not accepted, and Caravaggio had to try again. This time he took no chances. He kept strictly to the conventional ideas of what an angel and a saint should look like <…>. The outcome is still quite a good picture, for Caravaggio tried hard to make it look lively and interesting, but we feel that it is less honest and sincere than the first had been."

E. H. Gombrich
The Story of Art

But something else is going on here. There is more to the second painting than just 'conventional ideas of what an angel and a saint should look like.' Not only was the left brain responsible for the rejection of the first picture, but what is really interesting is that the left brain content in the second painting is appreciably higher than the first. Gombrich calls it 'less honest and sincere' and it is but it is also, irrespective of its content, less art.

Now, I am not saying that every work of art is exclusively a right brain product. The amount varies but there is some left brain content in every work of art. What I am saying is this, in every work of art it is that which makes it art that is exclusively a right brain product. There are consequences of course. It implies that a pure left brain product can not be art. It is precisely that implication that the left brain finds unacceptable and so it is has systematically set about the task of destroying right brain influence in the arts and replacing it with left brain influence. Its main tools are philosophy and art criticism, as we shall see.

Philosophy is the exercise supreme of the left brain. Art is the exercise supreme of the right brain. At the most fundamental level, philosophy and art are incompatible. Unfortunately, the left brain does not know when to 'butt out.'

"We may … begin at once by asserting that artistic beauty stands higher than nature. For the beauty of art is the beauty that is born - born again, that is - of the mind; and by as much as the mind and its products are higher than nature and its appearances, by so much the beauty of art is higher than beauty of nature. Indeed, if we look at it formally - i.e. only considering in what way it exists, not what there is in it - even a silly fancy such as may pass through a man's head is higher than any product of nature; for such a fancy must at least be characterized by intellectual being and by freedom."

G. W. F. Hegel
"Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics"

Make no mistake. Whether or not he was consciously aware of it, Hegel's 'nature' is the right brain. This is nothing less than a thinly disguised attack upon it and a plea for the supremacy of the left brain.

"But if, on the one side, we assign this high position to art, we must no less bear in mind, on the other hand, that art is not, either in content or in form, the supreme and absolute mode of bringing the mind's genuine interest into consciousness."

G. W. F. Hegel
"Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics"

Hegel explains that position by delving into questions of "truth" and the "divine", concepts completely alien to the right brain. The two sides of our head connect via the corpus callosum but this is not a "communication" in any left brain meaning of the word. The right brain has no language - it is mute. The left brain dominates and abstracts. It seeks to dominate everything about the whole brain relationship and it is therefore natural for it to seek domination of art. It is the left brain insistence on hegemony that leads it into errors.

"<…> For symbolic art attains its most adequate reality and most complete application in architecture, in which it holds sway in the full import of its notion, and is not yet degraded to be, as it were, the inorganic nature dealt with by another art. The classical type of art, on the other hand, finds adequate realization in sculpture, while it treats architecture only as furnishing an enclosure in which it is to operate, and has not acquired the power of developing painting and music as absolute forms for its content. The romantic type of art, finally, takes possession of painting and music, and in like manner of poetic representation, as substantive and unconditionally adequate modes of utterance. Poetry, however, is conformable to all types of the beautiful, and extends over them all, because the artistic imagination is its proper medium, and imagination is essential to every product that belongs to the beautiful, whatever its type may be."

G. W. F. Hegel
"Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics"

Hegel is betrayed by his own left brain, but Hegel cannot think otherwise. He is trapped in the left brain's exultation of reason. In other words, the left brain cannot admit anything other than its own supremacy. I call this the "reason trap" and it is very common among philosophers, as you might now expect.

"But the difficulty lies not in understanding that the Greek arts and epic are bound up with certain forms of social development. The difficulty is that they still afford us artistic pleasure and that in a certain respect they count as a norm and as an unattainable model.

A man cannot become a child again, or he becomes childish. But does he not find joy in the child's naivete, and must he himself not strive to reproduce its truth at a higher stage? Does not the true character of each epoch come alive in the nature of its children? Why should not the historic childhood of humanity, its most beautiful unfolding, as a stage never to return, exercise an eternal charm? There are unruly children and precocious children. Many of the old peoples belong in this category. The Greeks were normal children. The charm of their art for us is not in contradiction to the undeveloped stage of society on which it grew. is its result, rather, and is inextricably bound up, rather, with the fact that the unripe social conditions under which it arose, and could alone arise, can never return."

Karl Marx
"Grundrisse. Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft)"

As far as I am aware, nobody has ever believed this. Even committed Marxists cringe when reminded of it.

Hegel and Marx were both very smart men -smarter than me, to be sure. The point here is not that Hegel and Marx can make errors. They would not be human if they made no mistakes. It is the grossness of the error that reveals the "reason trap". But spotting the blooper is relatively easy. I have chosen Hegel and Marx to illustrate the point but you can pick any philosopher at random and find similar errors (when it comes to art). If the left brain's "reason trap" can lead such men into such gross errors, it should not be surprising to find the left brain's hegemonic fingerprints all over just about everything written on art.

"Criticism's function is to initiate that work which art history eventually accomplishes in the form of the 'biographic narrative' that is, as Griselda Pollock describes it 'the production of an artistic subject for works of art'."

Mary Kelly
"Re-Viewing Modernist Criticism"

In his book "Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology", Mitchell makes the point that behind every image is a text and behind every text is an image. He goes on,

"Among the most interesting and complex versions of this struggle is what might be called the relationship of subversion, in which language or imagery looks into its own heart and finds lurking there its opposite number. One version of this relation has haunted the philosophy of language since the rise of empiricism, the suspicion that beneath words, beneath ideas, the ultimate reference in the mind is the image, the impression of outward experience printed, painted, or reflected in the surface of consciousness. It was this subversive image that Wittgenstein sought to expel from language, which the behaviourists sought to purge from psychology, and which contemporary art-theorists have sought to cast out of pictorial representation itself. The modern pictorial image, like the ancient notion of 'likeness,' is at last revealed to be linguistic in its inner workings."

W. J. T. Mitchell
"Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology"

THE EVE OF BATTLE

So here we are. I intended this to be a short piece and it has grown in the telling. I had intended to supply a number of examples supporting my case from critical reviews and art-critics in general but I cannot without writing a whole book. Be assured that I can if I have to.

There is a struggle going on between the left and right brain for the domination of art. Right now, it seems, the left brain has the upper hand. It has staked much on the development of an exclusively left brain art. Painting, sculpture, music, and even poetry can not go there for these artforms depend on the right brain to be recognized as art. Instead, the arts council in Britain is sponsoring an artist twelve thousand pounds to kick an Indian Takeaway down the high street.

NOTES

I really wish I could have supplied the photographs of the two Carravagio paintings. The first painting now only exists as a photograph, the painting having been destroyed. Unfortunately, I have no scanner.

I have presented the material here in such a way that may give the impression that I believe that this is the only issue in art.

It is not.

This is a tool to help us understand what is written about art and why it is written. It is a tool to help distinguish between the valid and the vapour.

There is a huge body of text on art and it has become increasingly left-brain complex and abstract over the years. I am not saying we should dismiss it. I am saying that we need to be aware of the often-subtle means the left brain uses to rubbish the right brain contribution to art and increase in value its own contribution.

Until very recently, artistic production was considered manual labour.

There were to be no writers in Plato's republic.

The last sentence, about Plato's republic, is deliberately misleading. I count five different ways of reading it and there might well be more. To fully understand its import you need to examine, very carefully, every meaning.

This piece was originally thirty-eight pages long. I have condensed it to eight in order to keep it manageable. Frankly, I am unsure if the web-site can handle text this long.

Best wishes,

abvg


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Iliamoderator
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08-Feb-03, 02:07 AM (PST)
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61. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #60
 
Hi Abvg,

Thank you a lot of millions for this posting. It served as a missing link to a long term internal debate that I have with myself on several art and not so art issues.
For a feeling/dream that formed a sort of a plan/scenario for asocial undertaking, now, I have a starting point with a logical and sane verbal base - yours. Which is more "socially digestible" than rational/irrational categorization that I implement. Can I say that homeless are at majority a right brain people? Can I say that actions of the right brain although not as linear as the ones of the left, but often totally overpowering?

Believe it or not, but instinctively I spent a lot of years trying to beat my left brain in its own game(of controlling the right one) by letting it run loose, just to build a foundation necessary for the right one to serve its sweeping blow.

Forgive me for not going into a detail or proper explanation, but you will see where am I going by watching (and hopefully participating) the development of this site.

PS. Abvg, this web-site can handle 38 pages, i suppose the question meant can the readers handle it? You've got one here. I need to read the whole thing!

David welcome to the forums! And thank you for sparkling this discussion once again. I am reading through your posts and surely will have a few things to point out as my digestion will complete its course.

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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abvg click here to view user rating
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08-Feb-03, 03:19 PM (PST)
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62. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #61
 
   Ilia,

I am glad I could supply a missing link. I have often been accused of being one!

When I uploaded the text I could not find a way to format the two lists (the Bergen list and the I Ching list) correctly. Is it possible to edit these into neat coloumns or is it beyond the text-handling capabilities of the site?

In your post you ask:-

"Can I say that homeless are at majority a right brain people? Can I say that actions of the right brain although not as linear as the ones of the left, but often totally overpowering?"

I will answer the second question first. The right brain is not linear at all. Operating in right-brain mode is to lose all sense of time and conscious, logical thought. It is the mode of inspiration and yes, it can be overpowering.

As for your first question, I am not sure that I understand it correctly. If you mean - "are the majority of homeless people those in which the right brain is dominant?" - then I can not answer you. I do not know and I am unaware of any studies in this area.

The studies that have been carried out were on those people who have suffered damage to either their left hemisphere or right hemisphere.

I look forward to anything you wish to add to this discussion.

Best wishes,

abvg


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Iliamoderator
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08-Feb-03, 03:52 PM (PST)
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64. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #62
 
>When I uploaded the text I could not find a way
>to format the two lists (the Bergen list and the
>I Ching list) correctly. Is it possible to edit
>these into neat coloumns or is it beyond the
>text-handling capabilities of the site?


It is easier than you think - you need to use html to do that. the only differense is that you need to use < >thingies instead of <>.

Just click HTML reference link on the left of the posting form just above the smilies.

look









In your post you ask:- I will answer the second question first. The right brain is not linear at all. Operating in right-brain mode is to lose all sense of time and conscious, logical thought. It is the mode of inspiration and yes, it can be overpowering. no comment - can't argue with "yes"
As for your first question, I am not sure that I understand it correctly. If you mean - "are the majority of homeless people those in which the right brain is dominant?" - then I can not answer you. I do not know and I am unaware of any studies in this area. This was my speculation, I added the second question just to show some direction of my theory.
Let's say if the right brain supresses the left one and intellect itself did not have a chance to develope fully bad childhood for example (this is argueable) then the result is complete/partual loss of "social logic" hence inability to earn a living.

ps. (in my original "speculations" right brain/left brain - irrational/rational, respectively)

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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MK
Member since 8-Feb-03
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08-Feb-03, 10:17 PM (PST)
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65. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #60
 
   @abvg: Sorry, but this posting is nothing but a collection of profoundly pseudo-scientific half-knowledge, on the basis of which you come to pseudo-spiritual, oddly fundamentalistic conclusions. I DO believe, however, that you don't like to use the left half of your brains. Keep trying!
bw MK


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Iliamoderator
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08-Feb-03, 10:39 PM (PST)
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66. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #65
 
>@abvg: Sorry, but this posting is nothing but a
>collection of profoundly pseudo-scientific
>half-knowledge, on the basis of which you come
>to pseudo-spiritual, oddly fundamentalistic
>conclusions. I DO believe, however, that you
>don't like to use the left half of your brains.
>Keep trying!
>bw MK

bw MK: But this posting, on the basis of which, profoundly pseudo-scientific half-knowledge is nothing but a collection of pseudo-spiritual, oddly fundamentalistic conclusions.

Sorry that you come to use the left half of your brains. I DO believe, however, you don't like to.

Keep trying!

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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MK
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08-Feb-03, 11:09 PM (PST)
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67. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #66
 
   :)


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09-Feb-03, 05:43 PM (PST)
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68. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #67
 
   MK,

Thanks for your postings.

The "left-brain/right brain posting" is necessarily brief. But if you don't believe me, check the works by Sperry.

A complete analysis of all writings on art would fill several hundred volumes. I am interested though in why you call it "oddly fundamentalistic"? I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

abvg


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David Powell
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11-Feb-03, 06:36 PM (PST)
 
70. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #60
 
   abvg,

After my last post, I had resolved to leave the forum. But I'm so completely put-off by what you did in your BRAIN WARS post - together with the fact that Ilia apparently swallowed your whole theatrically staged right-brain/left-brain art-paradigm "hook, line and sinker" - that I feel compelled to not let it go without a more in-depth commentary.

You've obviously lifted the bulk of your thesis almost verbatim - margin notes inclusive - from Betty Edwards' perennial bestseller "Drawing From the Right Side of the Brain". I could also quote from this book, which I possess now for over ten years. But no need to worry, I won't - my copy is the German version and I don't want to go to the trouble of translation (I will say, by the way, that the German version sounds far better than the original - if this is imaginable.)

Further, on the basis of the above, there is no evidence that you've ever laid your hands on a book by Roger Sperry - let alone a single more recent study in the area of brain research. I even suspect that you derive your idea that since you are a painter, you express yourself in writing better with pictures than words (as you wrote in one of your posts) from Edwards' quote from George Orwell (you know the one I mean).

Have you ever tried to use Edwards' book as a teaching aid in an adult drawing instruction course? I have. And I'll tell you what you'll find if you do. The book is practically useless for adults whose perceptual (gestalt) capacities were damaged or impaired before the age of puberty - as is the case with the majority of people. In her book Edwards gives us, naturally, her "success stories" - but one has no knowledge whatsoever concerning the students who failed to "learn how to draw", nor does one have any idea over the early experiences of those students who were, thanks to Edwards, able to unleash their dormant "creativity". And you talk about fraud?

But this is not to suggest that Edwards' book is fraudulent! (well, not deliberately fraudulent). No, Dr. Edwards is first and foremost a respected art pedagogue, who I assume has only the success and wellbeing of her students uppermost in mind. "Drawing From the Right Side" IS, nevertheless, totally misleading for the scientifically uninformed - but especially for those already duped by the peculiarly American, "New Age" tripe concerning "creativity". And it should be more than obvious that Edwards has made a nice little profit - mucho $$$$$$ - from everybody and their pet canary who mistakenly equates "being able to draw like Ingres" with "being a creative person". Edwards' book finally has little to say about what I'd call genuine creativity (tending to be a little less popular than what Edwards is selling) and practically nothing to say about art - except in the most rudimentary sense imaginable. The huge success of "Drawing From the Right Side" - with its "old master" illustrations to give it just the right note of authenticity - should more be seen as a symptom of the progressive loss in western culture of a sound relation to "art" and "creativity" transcending the purely technical than as some kind of supreme corrective to "The Death of Painting/Autonomous Art". You'll get a tremendous amount more out of what the psychologist Abraham Maslow had to say about human creativity in "Toward a Psychology of Being" written over thirty-five years ago. And what is most important, in contrast to Edwards' bestseller, "Toward a Psychology of Being" is scientifically reliable. Maslows study also has the virtue of being written in an elegant, accessable fashion understandable for the non-specialist - without over-simplification.

-David


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Iliamoderator
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11-Feb-03, 07:51 PM (PST)
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71. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #70
 
Hi David,

You definitely missed the point here.

I do not think that abvg had this book in mind nor that this book reflects anything but a try to patronize the "mystery of art" (which is very decorative) and make it(art) more "eatable" for herself. A sideffect of the emancipation. It is funny especially because it is applied to the old masters.

I did see this book a few years back but could not make beyond 15 pages. Perhaps, this is an Intellect deficiency, but do I have a choice?

Anyway the point is - Rational/Irrational analogy sound very naive to a modern society, "To be or not to be" to classic, good and evil simply banal, etc., etc.

Left/right brain post by abvg gives an additional "color" for me to pain my picture.
I like to use/test in "real life" the theories I have.

It gives me a sense of being alive when opponents "suddenly" and unexpectedly for themselves drops the "snob guard" and gets to realize that there is a "higher power"
(God, brain, nature, wodoo, Mr. Johnson whatever) within the world and themselves, that does not need an explanation nor expects your submission. It just is. This is the first step...

You see all of us regardless of faith, profession, standpoint at times act out of faith, not reason (just think of a paycheck - how sure are you that the employer will pay?).
In the past religion took care of that, now "theories" try to convince us that if you stick-your-head-in-the-sand-no-one-will-see-you.

I smile when people say he/she draws like an old master, old master, how about living in the world where everyone converses with God before make a move or draw the line or put a brush stroke. Does this person lives in that world? How much that world is responsible for Titian to be a Great Master? Being genuinely not-to-fond of yourself?

Common language (idiomas) and the way we speak is similar to the fashion industry. Uncommon language is a bit behind times, or better still forming.

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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abvg click here to view user rating
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13-Feb-03, 05:03 PM (PST)
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73. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #71
 
   David and Ilia,

Sorry, but I seem to be two postings behind again. I have not had more than a casual glance at both but I take it that David is extremely pissed off.

All I can say, David, is please stick with it. If you need a little time to cool down then take it but I DO value your participation.

I will try to answer both postings as quickly as I can.

Best wishes,

abvg


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05-Jan-03, 03:20 PM (PST)
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45. "RE: the sake of art"
In response to message #42
 
   Ilia,

Art for Arts sake rather than Art for a patron, the church etc.

You really ought to find a way to supply drinks at the bar stool. Mine's a scotch!

All the best,

abvg


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Iliamoderator
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06-Jan-03, 00:47 AM (PST)
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46. "RE: the sake of art"
In response to message #45
 
>
>You really ought to find a way to supply drinks
>at the bar stool. Mine's a scotch!
>
>All the best,


Hey Abvg,

This one is a "tuffy", but i like the idea and since i have a power of making decisions on this board...
What about a... just a minute, first you got to tell me how many drinks are in the bottle - in Russia a bottle of scotch yells 4.5 drinks, i can not afford that here in the US.

Anyway, we have two ways to determine who gets the drink here - user ratings (you abvg have it turned off in your preference) and another one is polls. And the third one - ammount of valuable posts.

For starters we can do this: Lets say every two/tree worthy posts should get you a drink at the bar, you Abvg made 25 posts and as far as I am concerned all of them are worthy, so you are entitled to 8 drinks.
When you make a bottle I will send you a real bottle of scotch! How about that?

Also we can rate each other (you abvg have it turned off in your preference)...
Or we can make a poll to vote for the drinks from the bar and as soon as someone accumulates a bottle I will send it.
..
How about that!?..

and for David:

"VERY long text (which I have the unfortunate tendency to do)."

I would love to receive this "very long text" (cause you make a lot of sence) to post it as a permanent article in our new "channel feature" and guess what,.. this article will buy you a bottle of your favorite drink, which I will ship to you as soon as you submit it.
(cristal and dom P are excluded for obnoxiousness)

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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06-Jan-03, 04:21 PM (PST)
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47. "RE: the sake of art"
In response to message #46
 
   Ilia,

Because you dropped a couple of "subtle hints" about not having my ratings preference turned on, I have rectified the problem.

Best wishes,

abvg


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15-Feb-03, 10:38 PM (PST)
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76. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #0
 
   David,

With a little luck, this brings everything up to date. Chances are it mixes up one of two different postings but I hope it makes sense.

Regarding your comments about letter writing and the Internet - I am not very familiar with the Internet myself and every time I get a telephone bill, I resolve to get even less familiar. Though, it never seems to turn out that way.

An Internet forum is a strange beast. It is not like writing letters to a friend and it is not like a group discussion (definitely best done with drinks.) I suppose it could be thought of as a combination of the two but I get the feeling it is not quite that either.

As originator of the question, I feel obliged to answer every posting but I think this stops some people from joining in if they have something to add. It also gives the impression that I want to control the discussion although nothing is further from the truth. On the other hand, if I don't reply to every posting it gives the impression that I am selective in who or what I am willing to listen to and if I don't reply to anything it looks like I have abandoned it. I worry about these things.

You have given me more problems than everyone else put together. I don't mean that in a negative or critical way. What I mean is that I find it difficult to judge both the extent and the tone of my replies to some of your postings. Take, for example, the posting you sent with the long passage from The Rebel. I had read The Rebel many years ago and, to my shame, had forgotten much about it. I was grateful to you for bringing it back to mind. Since the passage you quoted required no interference from me, I decided not to comment on it directly but to let it stand alone in its own glory. I immediately tracked down a copy of The Rebel to re-read and re-enjoy, and supplied my own quote from it by way of thanks. This is, at least, how it seemed to me at the time. I have since read that reply, and all my replies, again. It has surprised me how cool and distant most of them sound. It has surprised me just how much my replies seem to ignore some of the most important contributions you have made. I can only assure you, this was not my intent. Where I have had nothing to add, question, or disagree with, I have remained silent. This, I now believe, is not the best policy (not just for you, David, but for everyone.) See what problems you have caused me! I will try to do better.

I liked your phrase, "not exactly uncomplicated individuals," an understatement if ever I heard one!

Concerning the increasing intellectual complexity and abstraction of writing on art, I would like to get your thoughts on this matter and, expressly, whether or not you see an end to it. I would like to add more but I am running out of time.

Very quickly, because it's four in the morning and I'm not up early but up late, why the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is forty-two.

Millions of years ago a bunch of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings were so fed up with all the bickering about the meaning of life that they decided to build themselves a gigantic computer smart enough to solve the problem. The computer was called Deep Thought. The Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons were not too pleased about it but Deep Thought persuaded them that since it would take seven and a half million years to calculate the answer, the philosophers could be gainfully employed speculating on it and slagging each other off in the popular press.

Seven and a half million years later (through the period known as The Time of Waiting), Deep Thought tells its caretakers that it has solved the question but warns them that they are not going to like it. Really not going to like it. And the answer was … forty-two.

It subsequently turns out that they couldn't understand the answer because they didn't really understand the question.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was originally a BBC radio program and achieved cult status in the UK. That the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything is forty-two, is now, as far as I am aware, urban myth. I believe it also appears as a question in Trivial Pursuit.

I adopted it on the assumption that it was as good an answer as anything else and it has the additional benefits of being short and suitably nonsensical.

All this, of course, is for information only. Make of it what you will.

I have never read the Betty Edwards book. I have read chapter three because a friend of mine photocopied it for me (sh, don't tell the publishers.) I didn't fully understand your comments about the book and Old Masters but I think I got the general gist. Is this what MK meant when he called it "oddly fundamentalistic?"

According to David Hockney, all anyone needs to be able to draw like any of the Old Masters is a camera obscura or, presumably, its modern equivalent. He carried out research on collections of old masterpieces and published a book on his findings. Curiously, I have not read this book either. I saw the Horizon program where he presented his main evidence and I must say he provides a compelling case.

I had intended to comment more fully on the 11 September, Axis of Evil situation and particularly if we are seeing a split into a pro-American post-modern and a pro-European post-modern. But, I am sorry. I really have run out of time.

I am disappearing later today and I will not be back until Thursday 27. Even then, it will probably be the weekend before I log on again.

The best advice I can give you about artists - don't trust 'em!

Best wishes,


abvg


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metameme
unregistered user
24-Feb-03, 06:45 PM (PST)
 
77. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #76
 
   abvg - you must have been very tired.
please try to continue when you have time.
i really enjoy the manner your mind tries to tease out meaning
from threads of the past and to exact tribute from the giddy present.
i have not been able yet to approach with anything sensible to say.
so crack a bottle of wine and suspend the growing divide
of "pondlife" (as in that separated by the atlantic) within your analytical gaze.


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abvg click here to view user rating
Member since 7-Jan-02
40 posts, 1 feedbacks, 2 points
02-Mar-03, 01:37 PM (PST)
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78. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #77
 
   Ilia and Metameme

Ilia,

I just wanted to thank you for your last post. I did not have time before.

Our connection to the past is not as secure as we like to believe sometimes and the further we travel into the past, the less secure it becomes. As human beings and as artists we do share with the experiences of the old masters but only up to certain point. Beyond this, as you point out, we cannot live in their world and we cannot live in their skin. In a society in which God is regarded as something of an optional extra, we simply cannot approach the heart of the motivations of the old masters. It makes you wonder what future generations will think of us. How much of what we think we know of the past is coloured by the modern thoughts of modern historians? Thanks.

Metameme,

Thank you for your posting.

I wouldn't worry about not having 'anything sensible' to say. I don't believe that anyway. I would like to hear from as many people as possible. Is painting dead?

I am not entirely sure what you mean by 'pondlife' and I think it's probably best not to ask. I enjoyed your last comment. Now, when anyone asks me "what's that stupid expression you've got on your face?", I can answer "It's my analytical gaze."

Best wishes to you both,

abvg


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Iliamoderator
Charter Member
339 posts, Rate this user
13-May-03, 11:15 PM (PST)
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79. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #78
 
Hi guys!

I started to seriousely miss the topic...
Just searched on google.com for "the death of painting" and guess what?
http://aolsearch.aol.com/dirsearch.adp?gotcha&query=the%20death%20of%20painting

Our discussion comes #1, looks like it is indeed the tough question! we are #1 and not to many postings lately.

anyway how are all of you?

ilia

http://www.FrescoSchool.com


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abvg click here to view user rating
Member since 7-Jan-02
40 posts, 1 feedbacks, 2 points
14-May-03, 04:12 PM (PST)
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80. "RE: The Death of Painting"
In response to message #79
 
   Ilia,

I have given up painting. But, then again, I give it up three or four times a week. I seem to be getting worse!

Good to hear from you again.

All the best,

abvg


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