December 2010

Born Under Saturn

ARTISTS DO LOVE TO THINK OF THEMSELVES as different from everyone else. They are first on line for the latest article, book, monograph or lecture on the problems of the artist’s personality and the mysterious springs of his creative power. They bathe in popular notions of their own otherness and cater to popular illusion like savvy account execs in ad agencies. It is so satisfying to count oneself a member of an exotic tribe that is, and always has been, temperamental, egocentric, neurotic, defiant, anarchistic, unreliable, licentious (that’s the best part), flamboyant, obsessed and all-around incorrigible. Continue Reading
Of Art & Work

I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT ENJOY a look at one example of art-as-social-practice in action. Herewith,  Portland State University’s MFA students exhibit their craft at the Portland Museum, Oregon: // // Here we see the social role of the artist being played out in a community setting. It is a wonderful thing. Their heads all point to the center like the spokes of a wheel. The wheel—mankind’s first truly revolutionary mechanical device. It made possible the Industrial Revolution and the very thing that gets your Prius from one place to another. Continue Reading
Saturday Bits

THIS SEEMS A GOOD TIME to say a word of thanks to those of you—you brave few—who take time to email with your own names. I am glad to have them, glad for that brief moment where the curtain of anonymity gets pulled back. It delights me to know that there are real people behind the pen names almost everyone uses. But why is there is so much reluctance to using a real name on a blog like this? It is so totally nonthreatening. Continue Reading
Wearing Black

WE DO ALL WEAR BLACK, DON’T WE? And it is not just artists. A ride on the New York City subways testifies to that. But for the logos on hats and jackets, we all look like Chelsea undertakers or Portuguese widows. Why bother looking for the new black? The old one is just fine, and the oldest pigment known to man. Carbon black, bone black, ivory black, mars black, peach black, vine black—by whatever name, it does not show the dirt. Continue Reading
Gombrich, Again

A PAINTER ON FACULTY SOMEWHERE emailed me to regret that Gombrich had become:
. . . a voice that is little heard at the schools in which I’ve taught. . . . “The Visual Image:  Its Place in Communication” is particularly good in throwing students for a loop; “On Art and Artists” is nice, too.  There’s only one other instructor at [Anonymous U], as far as I know, who introduces Gombrich to the students.  Otherwise, his books are gathering dust in the library. 
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