May 2011

Not Failed, Just Unrealized

BEING AN ARTIST MEANS you never have to say, “I failed.” Think of the advantage that gives artists over the rest of the plodding classes. Artists never have to admit the lack of wit, talent, or stamina needed to conceive of work, realize it and see it through. All they have to do is rummage through their junk pile and declare everything in it “unrealized.” At least that is the drift of “A call for unrealized projects” broadcast by the Agency for Unrealized Projects (AUP), a conceptual scheme devised by artists Julieta Aranda, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Julia Peyton-Jones, and Anton Vidokle in collaboration with London’s Serpentine Gallery. Continue Reading
Art, Still Not Dead!

I CANNOT TELL A LIE, much as I would like to. This wonderful bit of Photoshopping was sent by a reader who calls himself Mr. Eyeballs. I wish I could say I found it myself. // // Who knew just how contemporary that Mona Lisa smile could be? A stylized expression in Leonardo’s day, it suddenly looks quite current removed from a Renaissance setting and inserted into a post-modern one. The bloody amputation might be a bit over the top, but the figure’s facial mien—part simper, part sneer—would do nicely in a Vogue photo shoot. Continue Reading

IN CASE ANY OF YOU WONDERED WHETHER SUSTAINABILITY was, at heart, an ideological love affair with subsistence living, take a gander: / // Take this as a fashion forecast of our new footgear when the sustainable crowd finally erases the Industrial Revolution and its works from the planet. The shoes on the left are a bit hard to see in their full splendor but they are made completely of plastic packaging. In good weather, we can always go barefoot. Look again at the one on the right: //   How uncomfortable to wear! Continue Reading
More on the Pointing Finger

READER SAM’S REFERENCE, in a comment on the previous post, to the biblical story of Adam naming the animals lends thrust to Tallis’ argument on—for lack of a better term—the metaphysics of pointing. // The Genesis narrative distills into a simple, vivid anecdote the substanceN of Raymond Tallis’ thesis in Michelangelo’s Finger. The mythical Adam could hardly identify every beast of the field or fowl of the air. He did not emerge from the dust of creation a systematic taxonomist on the qui vive for all that tagging and classifying. Continue Reading

ORDAINED ART APPRECIATORS are, in the main, a predictable tribe. Often enough, the freshest and most intellectually satisfying comments on art from outside the expected punditariat. Michelangelo’s Finger: An Exploration of Everyday Transcendence, by Raymond Tallis, is an engaging, erudite excursion into what it means to be human. Tallis, a professor emeritus of geriatric medicine at the University of Manchester and one of Britain’s finest public intellectuals, offers as a guide the human forefinger. He does so with all the wit and eloquence of the poet, novelist and philosopher that he is also. Continue Reading