Andre Wallace

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Arthur Danto - RIP

The death of one of the best 20th century aesthetic philosophers has been announced. Arthur Danto wrote much dense prose in his lifetime, most of which made sense; "At some point, I had decided that my task as a philosopher must be to compose a theory of representations, which would be a philosophy of what it is to be human." Happily this project also shed some light on what it is to make art.

Which brings us to that $142 million Bacon Triptych of Lucian Freud which Jonathon Jones with state art credentials to the front says is a portrait of two geniuses. He writes; "Now they orbit one another as the two great British artists of the 20th century, and probably will always be grouped in art history as blunt individualists who defied the supposed inevitable progress of the readymade to paint like modern reincarnations of Velázquez".
Jone's copy includes the statement that Bacon painted like an old master but he actually did not, he had none of the painterly skill or visual acuity of a Rembrandt or Velasquez and what he actually did was to smear up and distort bad press photos - this Freud portrait is not that exactly, and it tells us little or nothing about the real character of Freud. Bacon's technique was so slack he mixed anything with anything and he actually put oil paint over chalk pastel, which inevitably flaked off. In the future more and more of his works will shed paint.

Sarah Kent (where has she been for the past few years?) is uptight about the kinds of people who now find contemporary art exciting - she is right to be concerned about the current state art stupidity that is promoting Tino Sehgal as an artist because as we have said many times  - he really really is not a visual artist, but a luvvy!

Meanwhile this week 17th November both Laura Cumming and Waldemar Januszczak get worked up over the latest small painting show at the Tate. A comedy of small aspiration, but there is in there one figurative artist who shows some promise in the five artists. He is Simon Ling who works from life and produces accurate but oddly dissonant representational images. This is a true rarity but one to be noted because he has the potential to achieve a genuine new vision.  Gillian Carnegie also has good form but her work is self limited and her genuinely dark and empty vision leaves you with a feeling that you have missed something. Art for the unstressed. Catherine Storey's painting is preciously over reverential and it's content is formal. Tomma Abts makes small abstracts that communicate little optical tricks and are not major league in any sense. Lucie MacKenzie is an enigma, both conceptual artist and depicter of trivia. This is the state of state art painting today!

A more interesting alternative group of five painters could have been these, five painters who really know their craft, who have real skills and can actually see:

Natasha Kissell
Rebecca Cains
Lisa Wright
Charlotte Sorapur
Daniela Gullotta

Friday, November 22, 2013

Eric Hobsbawn on contemporary art.

A small slice of criticism from Eric Hobsbawn:

One of Hobsbawm’s more appealing prejudices is with regard to contemporary art. "He insists that the fine arts, and especially painting, have been killed off—or, at the very least, perverted—by the rise of the camera, the motion picture and the mass market. Because their traditional preserve, pictorial representation, has been lost to them by the advent of photography, artists “have ideas, sometimes bad ones,” leading to installations and videos that “are less interesting than the work of stage designers and advertising specialists.” Avant-garde art, he states pungently, is merely “a subdepartment of marketing.”