Posts Tagged ‘Picasso’

Just musing

There are a few art myths (or not) that appeal to me – “starving artist in garret” being one I find romantic. I am also intrigued by the concept of the muse. Are these out of vogue or something? Maybe the upkeep is too expensive…

The Muses at the College of Arts and Letters Faculty Center of the University of the Philippines

In another life I think I’d quite fancy the job and the Dylan song in a similar vein has always appealed.

Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved
Everything up to that point had been left unresolved.
Try imagining a place where its always safe and warm.
Come in, she said,
Ill give you shelter from the storm.

Not quite a muse but being a safe haven has its strong points as well.

Maybe you’d have to be photogenic – or what ever the painting/sculpture version is of that. Which reminds me, are some people simply not photogenic or is it also about the photographer? Maybe both?

Who are some great ‘muses’ in the art world? I am being generous with the term here…and am thinking along the lines of Picasso’s Marie-Thérèse or someone like Angeline (Laura San Giacomo) in “Under Suspicion

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In my recent ponderings on iconic figures and separating artists from their art (or not), I remembered a comment I’d made about auctioning off investment artists’ shopping lists. After researching a little further I found this:

“…speaking of genius is always talk about artistic hierarchies, about the experts who wield the magic wand that makes something art, placing an art work within a context of previous and subsequent events, and creating authors and oeuvres in the process – the experts create the author and define the art work, separating Picasso’s art from Picasso’s shopping list…As Foucault has discussed, the author (of which the genius is a specific type) is a functional element in the discourse, not a natural category or a real person. It helps us to group the incoherent fragments of the past into understandable segments, and to rearrange the life of an individual into a narrative that can have meaning for our lives.” Hanna Järvinen

As I am now in possession of a metaphoric shopping list, I think another layer could be added. That is – the “non-expert” brings their own value system in making artistic judgements and of course “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

Eve Armstrong – Arrangement: Cush 2007

Speaking of Foucault and icons, makes me wonder if anyone has run the Foucauldian lens over McCahon – I mean they must have. If so, please forward any references in the comments. I mean:

The collaboration of word and image engenders what Foucault calls a “calligram” ,a composite text-image that “brings a text and a shape as close together as possible” . The calligram is a figure of knowledge as power, aiming at a utopia of representation in which “things” are trapped in a “double cipher”, an alliance. Word and image are like two hunters, “pursuing its quarry by two paths…By its double function, it guarantees capture, as neither discourse alone nor a pure drawing could do
From Picture Theory By W. J. Thomas Mitchell

And just because thats all very heavy – something funny and serious all in one. Happiness is a warm gun.

Anna Campbell Warm Gun Series

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Windmills of your mind

I had a bit of a snipe recently about the layout of the Rita Angus exhibition. What I didn’t mention was the reasoning for that layout. Again I refer to Bronwyn lloyd.

Rita Angus’s own description of the ideal way to present her art has determined the structure of the ‘Rita Angus Life & Vision’ exhibition, beautifully curated by Jill Trevelyan and William McAloon. Angus’s friend John Money recalled that she imagined her work displayed as a ‘kind of temple of art’ with her three Goddess paintings at the centre surrounded by a series of small chapels containing smaller paintings and watercolours related one to the other.”

On reflection and when I put aside my personal aversion to mazes (a true but long story) I am reminded of the film Being John Malkovich where apuppeteer discovers a door in his office which turns out to be a portal that allows him to enter the mind and life of John Malkovich. So maybe my discomfort with the exhibition design was that we were being led into Rita Angus’s imagination? I have enough trouble with my own mind without going on trip into anyone else’s.

This week the main art in my life has been dance with my 5-year-old in her first ballet show. It all seems a bit intenseto me, and I encountered for the first time the monster they call “stage-mother” (no – not me). I was wondering if there is a visual art equivalent and then recalled some stories about Thelma Clairmont, so I guess the answer to that is “yes”.

Picasso Curtain for the Diaghilev Ballet Le Train Bleu*

Following on from my post on McCahon’s Victory Over Death, it was pointed out I made little mention of style, technique etc. Although I am even less qualified to discuss that, I may look at it in a future post. One thing I did think of was that if it was painted in house paint, then wiping the vegemite off wouldn’t be too big a problem.

*Ballerinas actually appear to be much smaller in real life – don’t get me started on impossible body images and dance though

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The school holidays and tax returns have snuck up on me to yet again its a time of barely keeping my head above water and sadly still contemplating my lack of a compost bin (while the wood to build it languishes in the tardis garage).

My attempt to lighten things by reading fiction went totally awry, although I am enjoying “The Witch of Portobello” to some degree. The library requested Waimarino County back for their Montana Book award display so I couldn’t slowly go over that again and I don’t have the heart to more than briefly open two poetry books** that unexpectedly arrived, after hearing the author’s comments on his poetry. I will have to force myself though as they are due back soon. Libraries are fantastic but sometimes owning a book is required so I keep putting my gold coins in the piggy bank and forgo coffee for a while – I’ve actually started drinking tea!. I have also been offered the Dean Buchanan book “Wild Beast” at a knock-down price so am mulling over that as my next prospective purchase.

Things do improve as the days lengthen and I was pleased to see the extensive web resources related to the Rita Angus exhibition at Te Papa. Its all good for shut-ins like me and I think Te Papa has really picked up their game on the internet front, although I suspect they have a backlog of work to get through. And a tip – you can download the audio resources for the exhibition and take them on your own ipod (or the like) and save yourself $5.

Art writing is taking some interesting turns and I am curious as to why Tom Cardy has been doing the visual arts writing for the DomPost in the last few weeks (interesting look at Fiona Halls “Force Field” today), Jill Trevelyan writes about Picasso’s collection in the Listener and on a more literary note anyone interested in the Bloomsbury group (that would be me) would do well to read Diana Witchel’s excellent article on her tour. On this subject though, I can’t go past the movie Carrington with Emma Thompson in the title role and Jonathon Pryce doing a wonderful Lytton Strachey.

(Giles) Lytton Strachey (1880-1932), by Dora Carrington, 1916.

*common English for Hotch-Potch, a mixture; mutton soup thick with pieces of meat and all sorts of vegetables, also Hot-Pot
**”Houses, days, skies” and “Streets of Music” by Martin Edmond

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Owing to my inability to get rid of this flu, again a piecemeal entry.

Having been relatively confined to the house, I have been dwelling on art and suburbia and home. There an interesting exhibition at the Walker Art Centre commented on over at Best of 3 about the impact of suburbia on art. Although I haven’t been to Auckland for a while I can only hope the type of American suburb this is mostly about isn’t too present here in New Zealand. I can’t knock NZ suburbs too much because I’ve almost always lived in one and they have served me well. Apart from a short time in Aro Valley that is, and Holloway Road is truly a little entity all of its own.

I found this at Art for Housewives “Aesthetics are homemade. That is, the formation of taste comes from the home. From homemakers. From our mothers. The way they feed us, the way they dress us, the way they decorate our homes. The way they care for us. Housewives are our first trendsetters. Because our childhood follows us throughout our lifetime. Like Proust’s madeleines.” That’s kind of a scary thought. So although I encourage ‘good art’ in our home, at this point I need to remind myself of reason #41 why I can’t own decent original artworks (just yet)  which is “Oh dear, there’s vegemite on the McCahon again”.

This is not just the territory of women artists either (for example Jacqueline Fahey, Joanna Margaret Paul) . Even Picasso didn’t escape from ‘Domestica’ and sorry to harp on but Clairmont’s work was domestic subjects for a large part.

Woman Ironing, Paris, spring 1904.

On a slightly more contemporary side here is an example from Rhonda Roland Shearer 

Kiki Ironing 1991-92 Bronze

I know its a bore, but has again made me challenge Hamish Keith’s assertion in “The Big Picture” that art is essentially an urban occupation. Of course there is a bad side and I get a bit fed up with the line of artistic endeavour by “trapped housewives” and in my own area I will scream if I see another painting of Kapiti Island (apologies to Rita Angus of course – who was a culprit with Waikanae).

Items from the news 

More on the subject of Public Art. Antony Gormley (of the little clay people) says modern public artworks are crap. In the main I’d have to agree.

I see ‘The Listener’ has another visual art ‘review’ which is good. However, yet again, I am confused. I don’t know if the writer has seen the Don Ramage Steel Jungle retrospective but the whole thing was descriptive rather than making any strong comment. Maybe this is how its meant to be with a retrospective? But to me its almost inline with the promotional material which says the show is “reintroducing his work a contemporary audience hungry for retro design heroes” – ugh! So to contrast and compare, I came across this review of the Tate Modern’s new show on Duchamp, Man Ray and Picabia. All respected names with a well known body of work, yet the author (Tom Lubbock) has something new and insightful to say. As I’ve said before though ‘what would I know’.

Exhibition by vote
I also had an interesting discussion over at Best of 3 about “exhibition by vote’. I’ve concluded this is not such a good idea and “Clever programming should be able to answer both needs” that is the familiar and the new. I am totally for better/easier public access to collections (eg at Te Papa – although they seem to be working on that with their web based stuff). What made me finally decide it was a BAD idea was thinking about the local art gallery and the demographics of my area. While there are some great artists and art about, not to knock anyone, but the vote approach here may well result in show after show of paintings of Kapiti Island (see above) – unless it was an MMP vote maybe :-)

Sorry to those who have been on the receiving end of me clicking the ‘send’ button too quickly (and too often) this last week. I will shut up now.

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Shock of the new

The other day I was watching a Tui on a flax flower outside my window and I thought about taking a photo and how I would frame it etc. It suddenly occurred to me that I was imagining the resulting photo in the form of many other photographs of Tuis on flax that I have seen. This has always been an issue in my own artwork. I am a pretty good imitator but rarely come up with anything original. Most of what I produce is derivative – unintentionally or not.

 So I was thinking how do artists stay ‘fresh’ and come up with the new? I watched a video about Jackson Pollock (from the South Bank Show I think) a week or so back and they were saying he got to a point with the ‘drip paintings’ where he couldn’t take it any further or find a new expression and became quite depressed. With most really different styles of painting you can trace some sort of origin or evolution, but do some come completely out of left field? Take an earlier Pollock ‘The She Wolf’ (1943) or Birth (1938-41) you can see Picasso’s influence, but also to me I can see the same influence in Clairmont. Ok – So I haven’t done “Art History 101” but I’d like to know if anything has just appeared that seems for the most part untraceable. Bill Hammonds bird/men spring to mind.

Even so the shock to “The Establishment” of impressionism, cubism, modernism in their time is something to be celebrated. Today everything seems done or old hat and today’s “new” can seem like its trying too hard. I think our senses have become jaded.

On an unrelated front I am excited that one of my pictures(ok its a print) has escaped the garage and has been hung – albeit in the hallway.

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