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Everything posted by jfutral

  1. Brief article here. OK, I know this site is supposed to be focused on Arts and Faith, but I do think there are all sorts of things that translate, affect, can be affected by, similar in nature, etc., to Christians and the arts. Personally, I think the government arts grant model has long been broken in a lot of areas. I don't know. Just thought I'd share. Joe
  2. Long time admirer of Rob Bell. He is an artist. I think he realizes that. Actually all pastors/preachers/teachers are artists. There is no such thing as delivering "just the facts". Even when a pastor tries to preach in such a way as to not "cloud" the message with emotion, that is an artistic decision. Joe
  3. Kind of somewhat related. Two NYT critics spar over Tharp's Come Fly Away Joe
  4. Thought dance should get some renewed attention/love here. Talented internationally acclaimed choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Worth checkin gout. Joe
  5. I think sometimes snobbery also can insinuate itself when we strive for something new or become dissatisfied with what we have or even just develop more sophisticated tastes. Like the NYT reviewer I mentioned earlier. At some point seeing the same (seemingly) thing over and over again makes it harder to appreciate the work as it is presented on its own terms. Or to expect something more of an artist who has risen through the ranks of the common only to be seen to take steps backwards. Like getting to the point that only top shelf brandy will do. Or even only a particular top shelf brandy at that. At this point we start to look at others as the "uneducated masses". Of course _they_ would like the cheap stuff. They haven't had the privilege of the _real_ thing. Or they haven't paid their dues yet. This can happen to the artists as well. Like rangers, or delta force, or seals, some could say the are right to think they are the elite, because, well, they are. I think John Cage and Merce Cunnigham (if I didn't know Merce Cunningham already as a real humble and self effacing kind of guy) could be perceived this way. I'm kind of having this discussion in Atlanta right now. Many of us in the dance community are dealing with developing the dance audience here. A local presenter wants to bring in Ballet Preljocaj. Right now they are touring a work called Empty Moves, parts 1 and 2. Preljocaj has done some amazing and compelling work. But Empty Moves, done to a John Cage sound track called Empty Words (even for me, a Merce fan—but not a Cage fan) borders on audience abuse. If we are in the midst of trying to promote dance and get people out here to see dance, this piece will not accomplish that goal. So, sometimes it isn't just about excellence or its pursuit. Sometimes it seems it could just be self-indulgence. Or maybe that's what you are trying to say and I missed it. I think it does, at least, center around self-identity. Joe
  6. That's interesting, especially from a critics POV. I wonder at what point a critic might even venture beyond the simple snobbery discussed here? For instance, the NYT reviewer of Parson's Dance Company's latest work when it first premiered about a year ago was quite... well... uncharitable. One of the NYT Cultural editors saw the show, but after reading the review was left wondering what it was that she didn't get. She saw the show, enjoyed it and then read the review and was left wondering if they saw the same show. Should the reviewer have been more charitable? How do you balance charitable and honest, or elite and snob in situations like this? Joe
  7. Not sure how wide a definition of snobbery you want to pursue. I think there is also another kind of snob which is a bit more obsessive, but probably no less insecure—the "collector" who seeks mastery as identity. Or in contemporary terms of technology, needing to be identified as a "guru". I am not so convinced by the articulation of the nuances of "elitist". Seems to me to be called "elite" is not so negative a connotation as being called "Elitist". And "elite" seems best when it is conferred upon someone rather than someone trying to self-identify as "elite", either directly or through action. I think the latter is when someone veers towards elitist/snob. I mean, I didn't look _real_ hard, but I could find no definition of "elitist" that did not convey a negative connotation. Not that I don't understand the intent of your quote. But it seems a better choice of vocabulary could be in order. Or not. What do I know? By and large, I do agree that there is often the need, from either direction, to erroneously conflate excellence with snobbery. Joe
  8. It is amazing. While I understand that even this through a web browser is better than probably just about any picture I would take, i am disappointed I couldn't take my own pictures. Especially after much of the museum they had no problems with pictures. Ah, well. I do understand, including the detrimental affects of many cameras as well. No less disappointed that I couldn't have my own pics. This is amazing, all the same. Joe
  9. I'm slow. I have to look at art for a long time. I've always envied people who could "get things" quickly. I always have to watch a movie at least twice, listen to an album or a song over and over, look at a piece of art over and over, even with choreography (which is where I spend most of my time) I have to chew and digest a long time over several viewings, before I can really articulate the sense of what I see. My initial reaction was very vivid imagery. It's kind of hyper-realistic (although I am probably using that term incorrectly) in the sense that it is realistic, but (usually, but not always) in a somewhat non-realistic setting. The stark white background that is in most of her paintings, while adding a sense of light, gives no clues as to the action or environment within which the object is caught. What is the one girl looking at where we actually see her eyes? Day and night and environment are unimportant, yet we still feel that the women are somewhere contemplating something about... someone? And with all the sense of light, there seems to be something dark or hidden underneath it all. There is a restlessness or oppressiveness or repressiveness to many of the pieces. The socks over the hands and arms add colour, but they hide the hands. Why? It makes the piece where the artist articulates the hands of the little girl even more striking. And the one with the older woman's fingers are exposed, they are still guardedly so. But the hands of the older women are important, the sox draw undeniably to them. Never idle, either. Shading the face, covering the head, reaching for, expressing, or holding "something". Never insignificant. Just some thoughts, Joe
  10. I sit here and see what Giacometti's Walking Man was recently sold for. As artists we often discuss and present how arts real value has no dollar amount. Yet there we are. Someone was obviously willing to put a dollar amount on that piece. But what does that dollar amount actually measure? Both the NEA with all their recent studies and The Americans for the arts with their recent Arts Index both bemoan the status of arts support and funding. But really, who is benefiting from Shen Wei's grant of $500,000? While i was working for Pilobolus, shortly after their appearance on the Oscars and Oprah Winfrey we did a rough calculation that over the course of Pilobolus's 30+ year history of performances Pilobolus has performed live for just over 1,000,000 people. that's with an average schedule of 100 performances a year. The appearance on Oprah's show trounced that in less than an hour. We had more hits than that figure on Youtube alone after our appearance on Conan O'Brien was posted. If the NEA's focus is supposedly that high quality art is a part of people's everyday lives, why do the arts seem to always be struggling? Or has such endeavors simply outlived their usefulness? For instance, I know one dance presenter after 30 years who can't sell subscriptions to long time patrons anymore because he has done such an excellent job educating his audience that they prefer to pick and choose what they watch. Or, is art's value really only in the lives it actually touch? The dollar amount only reflects the value to the person who paid it. Monetary investment is just a side product of very specific pieces and should not be conflated with actual, true value. But how does that affect those of us who are trying to make a living as artists? Just some thoughts as I sit here contemplating my art and my work and influencing others. Joe
  11. What? An artist that's contradictory? That's unheard of! I imagine the prof, thinking probably exactly like you, (if I were him or her) pulled out the only parts worth keeping? Maybe? How do the chapters read that were excerpted? Joe
  12. A link to some excerpts from Tolstoy's What is Art? for anyone interested in sampling. Joe
  13. I would also suggest that studying this from a strictly visual art history perspective is only part of the story. Architecture is another area where the philosophical debates and battles rage on. Just ask Eisenman and Krier. I did miss the issue of representational art in my attempt at a summary of issues, although it is implied. As I mentioned earlier, I don't understand why the proponents of representational forms seem to have no issue with music. Or maybe they do and just don't talk about it. As I alluded to earlier, I also think some of the discussion bleeds into or from the problem of universals. But maybe that broadens the discussion too much. And, as Greg rightly points out, the revolving issue of "objectivity". Joe
  14. Well, it keeps running around my brain so I think I'll take a stab at it all the same. There really are several issues that, while they do affect each other, aren't necessarily exclusive to each other and conflating them doesn't really help. There is the Art economic machine, which from a NYC perspective where it originated and is still deeply entrenched, does attempt to hold sway. The most grievous aspect that many in the art world share with the OP's referenced website is it's huge focus on money and money as the focus of success. The only problem with complaining about this is that it is about 20 years too late. Just as the RIAA is having to deal with losing their control, so to is the NY Arts scene. Still important, to be sure, but less the central capital it once was. There are many other Art centers in the US, the Midwest is a great example. New Mexico in particular has a tremendous art scene. And then there is the NW, like Seattle and Portland. Then there is Modernism as a philosophy and its influence on Modern Art. That many artists, visual and architectural being the most prominent, have adopted this philosophy as the basis of their art is hardly in dispute. I would echo others that there are many things that have influenced their expression. But just because there are wildly diverse expressions of Modernism, does not mean there are not common elements that exist in the undercurrents. And Modernism does span a large swath of time, so there will be varying ideas of Modernism. There is the Modern Art aesthetic that many artists employ, yet without adhering at all or only partially to modern philosophy. Several have already been mentioned. And there are many artists today that employ what are easily seen as modern styles, but I would be hard pressed to say they embrace Modernity. Fujimura comes to mind since that discussion is current in another thread. There is this idea, maybe it is uniquely evangelical in nature, that says something along the lines of "evil only begets evil". And if Modernism is evil, then any art that derives from that can only be evil. That sentence alone has several elements that can and should be deconstructed. There is the presupposition that visual Realism is the only valid visual form (never mind needing to answer the question "What is real?"). It is the only way to depict what is Truly real. But this is as steeped in Modernism as any of the Modern Artists. Especially if one takes the statement from the OP at face value when he (she?) says "'Modernist' art is the rejection of all creeds, forms, rules and limits..." and the "... rejection of traditionalism, experimentation, a tendency toward abstraction, etc." (I think I summarized that without butchering anything). Yet this is the same sort of ideologies that stoked other movements like the Renaissance, the reformation, and Francis Bacon. Realism was a HUGE departure from the accepted "tradition" (reference the article I linked to about Medieval art). So if Modern Art and artists are being held to this measure, then I hope you are at least Roman Catholic, if not Orthodox, and not Protestant. Or maybe part of the neo-monasticists movement. If you are like me and place Modernity as part of the natural heritage of the Renaissance, reformation, Enlightenment and the likes of Francis Bacon, Realism is actually more "Modern" than Modern Art. Philosophically that is. Realism is just focusing on the material fork of Modernism rather than the immaterial focus of Modern Art. Then there is the whole issue of "skill". But, as has been pointed out, the question is "skill at what?" And why is one skill set more valid than another? I don't think anyone on this board would argue the necessity of respecting one's art by understanding and practicing the craft involved. But there is more to skill than simply technique. But then the Impressionists faced the same derisive critiques. So I imagine the OP and website feels the same way about Impressionism? That's my assessment of the issues. I have no doubt I missed some nuance or even obvious element. This is just what I was thinking over the last hour or so. I still like Fujimura's down and dirty lineage of artistic questions. My paraphrase: "Pre-modern art asks 'How do you paint a flower?' Modern art asks 'What is a flower?' Postmodern art asks 'Is there a flower?'" Views of Mako and over simplifications of referenced ages of art aside, I think this is a good sequence of questions. Joe
  15. I fund this little talk by Suzi Gablik. Worth a listen to if you have the time. The talk itself is about 45 minutes and there are about 45 minutes of Q&A afterward that is decent enough if you can ascertain the question. One quote from her I like is actually her quoting Warhol: "With its one sided emphasis on individualism, modernism had managed to destroy the social self. Conditioned to live in their own world, artists often found themselves, as Andy Warhol once put it, making things for people they don't need". Joe
  16. Or her mother's twenty+ years as a dancer. I really stacked the deck against me, here. Joe
  17. I remember coming across "The Yellow Sound" in my readings, that's about all I can remember. Plato was all about those universals actually existing somewhere. I don't think his view of material/immaterial coincides entirely with modern ideas. That is the point my friend was making. I think he is pretty spot on. I have not applied to any grad school. Life keeps getting in the way! I was touring with Pilobolus for four years, getting my daughter through college (she's out now) but now working on what she "wants to do with her life". I just dropped her off at the airport this morning to go off to NYC for an ADF winter dance intensive. She wants to dance. Go figure. I send her to Ga Tech to get an applied math degree and she wants to dance. This is what I have to put up with! Joe P.S. I love Sister Wendy. JF I thought the exact same thing. And came to the same conclusion! Great point about objectivity/objective standards. Ooo! and just saw this: "But I can point out many pre-modern works that seem to scream "look at me and what I can do" just as obnoxiously as anything by Jeff Koons." i won't mention the Dallas art collector I recently met... Joe
  18. The first sentence is true enough. However, not all who employed modernist techniques and processes were adherents of Modernist philosophies. What I do like about almost all of the abstract artists is the explicitness that there is more than the material. This more difficult to overcome in realist artists, IMHO, because they start to become obsessed with technique and level of realism. Not all. The ones who don't get bogged down with that do understand there is more to the flower they are painting than the flower they are painting. As for "Thus, I’d suggest that Picasso’s 1938 Mother and Son took significantly less skill to paint than his 1896 Artist’s Mother." To focus on skill I think is what is missing the point in your posits and the material you quote. Musicians can have an immense amount of skill, but couldn't move a weeping willow to cry. Same with visual artists. Skill is not _the_ measure of art. It can and often is -a_ measure, but to think it is the sole measure is more steeped in Modernism than the Modernist philosophies you are railing against. You are saying only material quantification is important to measure the value of art. The NEA often makes the same mistake when they try to frame the value of art in strict economic or educational terms. I'm less concerned with the effects of philosophy on art than I am how those philosophies become some unnecessary measure of value. The art that results is simply one trying to come to a deeper understanding (either for himself or the viewers) of why some art works and some art doesn't. We are all seeking to understand something. That is something I can sympathize with and in which I can find inherent value. Joe
  19. I've only read the "What is art?" excerpts I've found on the web. Good stuff. The whole music connection is what got me fascinated with Bauhaus and I believe why I was so cued in to Klee. Many theatrical lighting designers think in terms of creating a series of pictures. I've always taken a musical approach since I am a musician. To me, theatre is rarely static, even if geographically so. The lighting for me always as to breathe. And I remember being told to study sax and horn players if I wanted to be a better guitarist. OK, WAAYY OT. Sorry about that. Carry on! Joe
  20. I know this sounds nerdy, but I think I would have enjoyed you prof's class! I still think if I go back to school I am going to study art history. As for Kandinsky, right. I do know and understand that (although probably not as much as you, much less your professor). I believe his beliefs are what got him booted out of Bauhaus, IIRC. If I said his beliefs were a "reaction to Enlightenment", then I mis-spoke. But I do still stick to the idea that his mysticism accepts and relies on the material/immaterial division built up in the Enlightenment and that objectivity and subjectivity are divisible and is the basis, or at least part of the frame work, for his diatribe against materialism. To me these are all variations of the similar "secular/sacred" divide of many churches. Joe
  21. While I don't argue that Cezanne was somehow obsessed with consumerism, but that consumerism has found its birth in Modernity is hard to discount. And since Cezanne lived off his father's wealth, he was probably least concerned with his work being commodified. Although, he does somewhat typify the isolated individual that Modern Art finds appealing, someone removed and misunderstood. My point (and I do have one!) is not so much that the chain begins with Cezanne, only that he was part of the chain. But Cezanne is important in the course of Modern Art. Realism is concerned with depicting things as they really are and that usually, at least, implying as we can see them. The impressionists signaled a further thought that what is really there is not what we really are seeing. But the impressionists, IIRC, seemed too subjective to Cezanne. He was seeking the objective universal. But even Cezanne did not feel he could achieve this by depicting the apple as it was visible. And he, too, went further down the road of the separation of subjectivity and objectivity. One art historian calls Cezanne the father of sorts to Cubism. Matisse influenced a different form. But it was Cezanne's angular forms that seemed to capture the most attention and was a major influence on Picasso as well as Kandinsky. It was Guggenheim who brought Kandinsky to the notice of NY and America. And he went on to present and house many of the early 20th century modern artists. The galleries in Soho, Chelsea (Dillard for instance, since Fujimura came up in another thread), and elsewhere all seek to replicate that success and influence. It is how artists and galleries make a living. They get noticed and eat or they don't and find other work to pay the bills. That is the machine that exists. The only people I can think of who don't believe there is a machine are people who don't have to exist in it. Joe
  22. I don't know about his essay, but this one I found very intriguing: horror-vacui Joe
  23. As long as the colourful expression is actually conveying a point and not obfuscating one. Well, yes, I have read many of those artists and, no, they did not all understand themselves as embodying Enlightenment principles. That's a huge generalization. I certainly did not say the necessarily understood themselves to be embodying Enlightenment principles, although I doubt any of them would find that objectionable. But, take Kandinsky for instance. his whole position in _Concerning the Spiritual in Art_, while condemning materialisms insufficiency to provide answers, accepts the material/immaterial divide created through the enlightenment. He actually has harsher words for materialism (I'll get to more of this in another response): "This all-important spark of inner life today is at present only a spark. Our minds, which are even now only just awakening after years of materialism, are infected with the despair of unbelief, of lack of purpose and ideal. The nightmare of materialism, which has turned the life of the universe into an evil, useless game, is not yet past; it holds the awakening soul still in its grip." It is also this split that separates the Renaissance thinkers from the Greek philosophers they looked back to for inspiration. And it is this and other divisions like this that permeate from Enlightenment through the early 20th century. I think a good friend of mine explained this the best in a conversation we had over the problem of universals and I pointed out the Enlightenment concepts as a return to Greek thinking and ideals (keep in mind he is far more anti-modernism than I ever was): "This is a critical juncture in the conversation, because in my opinion we cannot view realism as pondered by Plato and Aristotle as anything like Modernism. I say that not in fuddy duddy Professor mode but in detective mode. Somewhere down the line Meaning was murdered, and I am trying to find out who did it. And its in meaning that Plato and Aristotle are at complete odds withe Locke and (as far as I can tell Berkeley). Because for Plato and Aristotle, and for that matter Augustine, and Aquinas, and Hugo de Groot for that matter, what is ultimately Real, is meaning, whereas for the Enlightenment to search and find meaning occurs only if one has not cleared away superstitions or worse metaphysics, what the Enlightenment wants to find are facts, universals which are devoid of meaning, which require no organic whole in which that fits." You won't get any argument from me on this point. I tried to write earlier (which got ultimately lost to the internet black hole of destruction) and hinted at briefly, I think the Enlightenment was a necessary corrective. I was speaking with a friend just the other day. She was bemoaning "evidence based healthcare". I just said "Well, it may not be a perfect approach, but it certainly is better than the village witch doctor telling everyone sex with a virgin will cure AIDS." As I think I said, Modernism is fine as far as it goes. I just don't believe where it goes is all there is. Again, and I won't belabour this point further, "monolithic" is the wrong adjective for machine. It is definitely a monolithic attitude. I've been in the same room with the people with money, not just for my projects but for other major organizations' projects. There have long been people you need to dub your work as acceptable before your work can be accepted, and not just critics. I think it is safe to use Pilobolus (my former employer) as an example. If Charles Reinhart at the American Dance Festival and the Joyce Theatre in NYC did not take these guys into their fold early in their career i have serious doubts that Pilobolus would have been taken seriously by anyone. They already had and still have issues with much of the dance community (Mark Morris never has anything nice to say). Here is hoping my html formatting holds! Joe
  24. Brief attempt 2. While it would be easy to discount the OP quoted website as a frustrated malcontent who either isn't getting the notoriety (or money) he feels entitled to since he is pursuing a genre that might require a high degree of discipline, either directly or as preference. And while this may be true enough, the discussion concerning the machine is not new. The debate still rages as to whether Warhol's art was the works he produced and hangs on walls versus how he played the system. Dada was partially parodic response to the people who proclaimed what is and isn't Art. Christo's art (and others like him) was purposed to avoid the whole art gallery circuit. Back in the 80's Suzi Gablik asked the question and and sought to answer in her book _Has modernism failed?_. There she pointed out that (in the 80s) the US graduated more artists every 5 years as existed in Florence in the 15th Century. George Will updated that when he said this occurs each year in the US. Just about a year ago an NPR show aired a panel discussion (shortly after the first round of Wall St. scandals) that tried to answer the question that went something like "Is the Art world more corrupt than Wall St.?" And even as someone who makes my living in the performing arts and often runs around the crowd implied in these discussions I don't have the academic credentials of e2c. I only have my experience as an artist and through encounters with the power brokers who do firmly believe it when they say "It isn't art until I say it is art". And we are all having this discussion in the professional arts world as most organizations are reeling at the drop in public support, not just in dollars, but also attendance. Not all of this can be attributed to the current economic climate. Many see the NEA's attempt to make excellent art a part of everyone's life a failure. The discussion usually focuses around making it accessible. I say the issue isn't accessibility, but approachability. And I place that blame squarely on the ideologies and institutions of Modern Art and it's influence over all the art world, i.e. artists have no one to blame but ourselves. At the same time, the individualism some of us decry is either new to other countries and cultures (like Georgia and Armenia) or merely the stuff of dreams in other countries. I am not one of those postmoderns who thinks Modernism is all bad. I just don't think that's all there is or should be. What Modernism addresses it addresses fairly well. But that is not all there is to address. This is a larger discussion and mostly OT from the OP, I suppose. So in a nutshell-"realism good, abstract bad" needs to be nerfed. But yes there is an institutionalized way of thinking in the art world that resulted in an anointed few getting to say what is and isn't art. But I think that is largely being reduced to irrelevance through the decentralization of the machine (NYC may be an important center, but it is no longer the primary center) and the large democratization of art that is occurring making the gate keepers less and less relevant. Things are changing whether the art world likes it or not. joe
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