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18 February 2009

Well, I had (after vastly complicated on-again off-again scheduling all morning with Kevin as Sean is unwell) my hair cut today, then had jin shin, then went groceterisationing briefly, then came home at five and Tiff came twenty minutes later; she just walked out the door. This has been a busy day for me although a few years ago I wouldn't've thought so. My days can seem exhaustingly full with half that expense of energy, unfortunately.

SJ was here on Monday, and we had a conversation about Philip Guston. When she was in D.C. installing that show she made time to see a Philip Guston exhibit, and had some thoughtful things to say about his work. From my viewpoint - a number of years ago (100?) I saw a collection of Guston's work at a museum in California, and although I had never been interested in his work in reproduction, the actual works had a power that I hadn't expected; I can see plainly in my mind's eye the stub of wall next to a doorway to the right of which hung a Guston drawing of a head facing left. About 26"x 20" maybe, and iconic, perplexing, memorable. The show SJ saw contained works from the three major stylistic periods of his life: representational, abstract, and the late drawings. She said the abstracts were not like anyone else's abstracts - somehow they had a pulsing energy. Faced with the drawings, she recognised the same pulsing energy - she thought, "I... think I'M BEGINNING TO GET IT."

The vibrating energy as I recall in that drawing came at least in part from the tension between the way we think something should be and the deliberate flouting of conventionality, the narrowness of the line, the amount of negative space - the central figure inflated with it. I dunno. All I know is that I didn't see that in reproductions although I might see it NOW after having seen originals.

Reproductions are impoverished versions, and although we think they substitute for the works, in truth they are mere placeholders. I remember vividly, as a teenager, standing before a drawing in a museum, and seeing the erasure marks - the human marks of process and changing thought. That's a minor thing, yet it underscores that the artist - who may be a "god" in the art firmament - is in truth a human being, in a way reminiscent of those Mary and Baby Jesus pictures where the boy's genitalia is meant to mark his bond with humanity. That sounds like a stretch, yet as a young artist it seemed so.

posted by - 6:44 PM

Philip Guston's work has never appealed to me, in reproduction or in actuality, though I agree it is powerful, maybe because of that deliberate flouting of the rules and reverting to something that resembles children's awkward marks.

I just never "got" the whole scribbling school of art thing. At the Menil Collection here in Houston, for example, they have a Cy Twombly Gallery, and it just leaves me cold.

Maybe that makes me a philistine, I don't know.
Ha ha - YOU PHILISTINE!!111 I think if not being interested in a particular artist makes one a philistine (aside from you know who) you have lots of company i.e. everyone.
On behalf of the PDL, Philistine Defense League, I would like to ask you to cease using our much maligned name to represent some arbitary concept of personal or society-wide cultural derth.

We were a proud and noble race of people who developed a complex civilisation that included many aspects of artistic creation and appreciation and to portray us as mere heartless brutes unable to apprciate even the slightest aspect of manmade beauty is hurtful at best.

Carving, clay sculpture and jewellery were just some of the artisrty we enjoyed as a people and today the ever expanding concept of artistic expression is one we continue to find pleasure from.

Except Pollock. That's just money for old rope, that is. Chancer.

Peter the Philistine.

The appeal in action painting is that it combines time, reality, movement, 3D, and results a visual product that is more like a map or the tracings of a bright light; there would be a hole in the art spectrum if it were missing, although once demonstrated it's "done."
Any painting, to a painter, contains its painter to a greater or lesser degree; Pollock is evoked quite vividly by his.
*stabs PtheP*
Philistines don't die so easily, you may have to take another stab.

I envy that you live in a city with such wonderful galleries, Enj. Esp. those on Colquitt St.

What fascinates me about action and gestural painting is the surrender of the will to the subconscious. Pollock and Twombley were tremendously influenced by surrealism. I enjoyed Twombly, but always thought Guston a bit of a pale imitation of Jean Dubuffet and Ben Shahn, and more important for turning away from non-representational art than for his images. But then I have never seen an original, and as Osprey attests, it can change your mind.

For the last fifteen years I earn my daily bread publishing limited editions, so I can attest to the deadening that happens when art is reproduced mechanically. Hand pulled prints have a life of their own, independent of the original, but philistine customers want something that looks as close to the original as possible, for less money. We provide, or they will put out our eyes and crop our hair.
Ack, I used the word attest in the span of two sentences. Must.. hack into... blog... and make... literary revision... ****

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