Thursday, January 12, 2006

Is it ok to admit I don't like a whole lot of painting???



Let me start by saying this is not a bash on painting. A popular question over the past 10 years has been 'is painting dead?'. A question that I believe has been answered over and over, but as I've always said, 'painting is not dead, it just has more competition."

As I sit here this evening, wine in one hand, cigarette in the other, Seinfeld on the tv, I look around my luscious 575 s.f. abode and see a couple of major (in size only, not by Sotheby's standards) photographs, an autographed can of evaporated milk, a pack of smokes wrapped in plexi, light from my kitchen duplicating some sunset in New Mexico, a nursery rhyme telling young males they shouldn't masterbate, an audio piece repeating 'Get yo' feet off my bench', AND a tiny oil portrait of myself by an a talented artist in California that refuses to go to grad school.

I just started to wonder, why don't I have more paintings? Price is an issue, but price was an issue when I just bought the two videos in South Beach. I'm not a painter, and can't begin to understand it's intricacies, but I want to learn. When painting starts out conceptually, I get it and I sometimes love it. Think Tim Gardner. But I think I need help, a lot of help, with the artist pictured above. I need help with the Germans. And Lord knows, I need help with so much else.

I also need a few volunteers. I need a lover of painting to take me through Indy this week and show me why they love painting. I need a lover of painting to take me through Chicago next month and show me why they love painting. And in March, I need a lover of painting to take me through New York and show me why they love painting. These blogs seem to be dominated by painters, and I can't promise my next purchase will be a painting, but will somebody please help me???

25 Responses to “Is it ok to admit I don't like a whole lot of painting???”

Anonymous said...
January 13, 2006 at 1:54 AM

Christopher,
I would not have guessed you to maintain art biases!

Oh, and thanks for getting me addicted to art blogs!

Lindsey (former intern)


Scott said...
January 13, 2006 at 3:23 AM

I knew this day would one day come my friend. So, i hereby volunteer my time to show you why i am into painting. I can't make New York but we could surely go to the IMA and/or Chicago to school you on some of it. The Germans, i do like those Germans.


Christopher said...
January 13, 2006 at 8:01 AM

Yes Scott, let's hit the IMA soon. Thank you.


Anonymous said...
January 13, 2006 at 11:27 AM

The death of painting has been proclaimed for forty years, at least, not ten. It's just something jejune some people like to do in order to declare absolutes. Sometimes I think it is just that painting is the medium singled out to discuss the arts and their place in our culture.

Painting is the most expressive, elastic, visceral art. Gooey liquids can become anything. Paint may depict, it may express, it may abstract. It may do any and all of these at once. It may appear wet or dry, loose or tight, rough or smooth. The physicality of paint is one of its most alive and engaging characteristics.

The simplicity and directness of painting, traditionally a shape of canvas or board usually hanging on a vertical surface (wall) belies the complicated experience of a painting. Painting is a silent challenge no matter how beguiling its surface or image, no matter how innocuous its presentation. Your experience, intellect and perception directly confront that of another, the painter. But there's more: painting, like people, may contain contradiction and confusion, as well as any range of emotions. At the same time it states an individual view of the world. This may be the physical, social, cultural or intellectual world. Mostly, when painting is good, it tell us something about all of these aspects of living. It tells us about an actual experience of being alive at a specific time and place.

In order to understand this the viewer actively and imaginatively engages with the painting. It is not a passive experience. You bring nada, you take away nada.

Painting carries on an additional dialogue. The dialogue with all painting created before it. That requires a viewer with some education and lots of experience to perceive.

Ultimately, the thrill of painting does not lay in recognition or understanding. It resides in the religio-magic roots of painting which are as potent today to us as they were in the caves of Lauscaux to our ancestors. Wish fulfillment? Conjure? Instruction? Explanation? Either way, imagination is the very foundation of taking a tool and some viscous liquid to make a window on a world.

That imagination is cured in a furnace of ability and desire. Skill borne forth via technique. Maybe only other painters are interested in the "how die he/she do it" question. Anyway, it comes last for the viewer, if at all, but is inextricably part of the painters view.

Then there is a purley formalist perspective. This is an entirely abstract approach to the appreciation of painting. I leave you to learn about that on your own.

Locally, we have some thrilling painters: Brian Fick, Carla Knopp, Steve Paddack, Ed Sanders, Becky Wislon, Marc Jacobson. Maybe you could schedule studio visits with these painters. You could see a greater breadth of their work than would be available to you in a single exhibit.


Scott said...
January 13, 2006 at 12:09 PM

Might i say Anonymous, that is one hell of a great answer! Thanks.


gben said...
January 13, 2006 at 1:51 PM

First off, let me say that I love that you started out with the Dana Schutz painting for this discussion.

I, as an ex-painting purist, have come to a lot of crossroads with the medium. Like, "why the hell do I paint?"

First, I feel that painting does take a lot of time and research to understand it's formal potentials. Not as much with the painter's dexterity (although I suppose that plays a certain role at some part), but simply by being able to train your formal eye and get lost in it's space. This, I feel takes a lot of patience considering painting has taken huge strides and multiple roads throughout it's history, and today we are confronted with a giant mixing bowl of these relics when we look at them.

As said earlier, "Painting carries on an additional dialogue. The dialogue with all painting created before it. That requires a viewer with some education and lots of experience to perceive."

I do feel that painter's get way too caught up in being a painter because of whatever training it takes to understand a level of it's formal process. This can make ok paintings, but bad art. People who like to paint (like myself) carry an idea through in a painting that would be much more successful in another medium and give the idea much more power. I think that people like (although I still can't seem to appreciate him completely due to some purist bones left in my spine) Luc Tuymans are trying to bridge a tighter gap in between the aspect of concept and process. My favorite aspect of painting is this ability to possess a realm of ironic possibilities within it's surface. It has a nice level potential of presenting importance in the object making and the images (which I feel that Schutz does to a certain successful degree).

Painting’s unimpeded compositional power can raise questions of hierarchies attached to the artist. For instance, the placement and scale of depicted icons, such as a giant hamburger next to a tiny fork, may elevate the creator’s system of values. One might say that the giant hamburger next to a little fork raises questions directed at the artist’s outlook on consumption. However, if the artist is aware of the general original perception of these objects, the power of manipulating them can open the conversation with something outside the initial response to the viewer in a passive aggresive manner.

The skeptical qualities inherent in the representational aspects of painting can also raise play an interesting role. It allows a combination of sources from imagination, memory, life, and inherent traits of other mediums, such as photography, sculpture, and manufactured objects to be translated to the viewer within it’s surface. The painted surface presents itself as a moot documentary (had to slip in the advertisement) in comparison to the truth of most photography. It also leaves little room for accident in documenting events to the viewer. For instance, if you are taking a family picture and there is a candy wrapper on the floor it could very be passed off as a mistake being left there by the photographer. However, with a painting there is an extra step that places the wrapper there and gives it an intention making it more important to the piece. Questions of the wrapper's origin can the be raised in order to help understand the piece's intent. This is a very loose dumbed down example of what I think Phillip Guston spoke of regarding "the unfreedom of painting".

There are other major qualities of painting that I am overlooking with this comment. Especially considering I am such a sucker for space, but these are more qualities that I tend to look for in and attempt to promote with my own work. This comment is also becoming way too long.

I did enjoy the reply preceeding, but I do disagree with a few of it's statements...

" The death of painting has been proclaimed for forty years, at least, not ten."
- Today, painting is absolutely not dead, unrecognized, or assumed under this context on any broad level. It is entirely oversaturated and there are a lot of bad painters clogging up the art world (ahem Elizabeth Peyton) because of painting's importance today in the canon of art history.

"Then there is a purley formalist perspective. This is an entirely abstract approach to the appreciation of painting. I leave you to learn about that on your own."
- This I agree and disagree with. I don't believe there is any solid definition of formalism today, even though I can't seem to find another word for formal since academic and technique are way off-base . However, there is a broad concept in trying to define what formalism is today. For instance, using the idea of beauty as an ethical model.

"At the same time it states an individual view of the world. "
- I feel that painting in it's highest success depicts an artist's attempt to understand the world, not make statements about it.


Anonymous said...
January 13, 2006 at 6:37 PM

Can someone translate the last comment for me! I paint and purchase paintings for beauty. Beauty is what moves me.


gben said...
January 13, 2006 at 7:11 PM This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Anonymous said...
January 13, 2006 at 8:39 PM

Formalism is well, formalism. The examination and valuation of art via formalist characteristics. Like compositional elements, line, foerground, background, etc. I don't know that a subject of such limitations is up for grabs. Beauty itself has been in disregard for half of the last century.

Also, my attempt was to present aspects of painting to someone who (as expressed) might not have a penchant for it. I in no way attempted to offer a complete summation of painting in my few paragrphs.

I can hardly understand why the numbers of people painting or not painting may have anything to do with the relevance of painting per se.

Yes, statement vs. view - isn't that just so much rhetoric. I do see your point. I just think statement doesn't necessarily mean certainty. Its the fudging, you know.


Jim said...
January 13, 2006 at 9:37 PM

One reason paintings are so often so boring is that they are accepted and appreciated as fine art simply because they are hard to do. Even in 2006, people seem to respect art work based on the whole "I couldn't have done that" idea. People like what's precious.

That's not great art any more. What makes art matter today is innovation, is thinking, is creating something new. It's slicing off a part of life that might have been there but we never saw it.

If someone spends a month painting a cliche, the work sucks just the same. I'd rather look at, appreciate and own something new and interesting I haven't seen before that took an hour to do.


Anonymous said...
January 13, 2006 at 10:06 PM

Imo, innovation isn't all it's cracked up to be. I find art made solely for the sake of being different/new as boring. Perhaps the "problem", if there is one, is because (as someone said) beauty has been in disregard for the last half century? We have different opinions I guess. I like the Precious!


Anonymous said...
January 14, 2006 at 2:49 AM

here here. new for the sake of being new has been the standard since before I was even born. innovative and beautiful is wonderful, but just plain beautiful trumps innovation nine times out of ten.


gben said...
January 14, 2006 at 3:16 AM

Okay I am just going to reply to comments by ""s because I am late in coming in and have missed a little thread.

"Formalism is well, formalism. The examination and valuation of art via formalist characteristics. Like compositional elements, line, foerground, background, etc. I don't know that a subject of such limitations is up for grabs. Beauty itself has been in disregard for half of the last century."

I don't know where to start with this. I suppose I will start from the end and work my way up to the start. Beauty has been in disregard for the last half century? Well, minimalism was the essential peak of formalism in the modern era. It was designed to make beauty. It had rules to follow (formal rules defined by critics and artists of that time) in order to make a "beautiful" piece. Those rules are now abolished, and we are now at a time when formalism and the rules of it, have no standard. Composition, line, foreground, background are all great examples of techniques used in the early 19th century regarding formalist concerns. Today is a whole different ball of wax, and I have yet to find an example of beauty being anything but purely subjective.

"Yes, statement vs. view - isn't that just so much rhetoric. I do see your point. I just think statement doesn't necessarily mean certainty. Its the fudging, you know."

How is statement vs. view connected to trying to understand vs. statement? No, there is a big difference between the two. Using painting to propagate a viewpoint is telling a story to the viewer. Using painting as a tool for understanding is showing something entirely different. It presents the action of painting. It is the difference between a statement and poetry. It is not a semantic difference between washington red vs. gala apples.

" Imo, innovation isn't all it's cracked up to be. I find art made solely for the sake of being different/new as boring."

I agree that art shouldn't be made for the sole purpose of being different. However, I couldn't imagine a reason to create something good and redundant. Vermeer is my all-time favorite painter. I will never be able to paint like him, and I will most likely never be able to see anyone who can. However beautiful the paintings are, and how awestruck I am when confronted with them, they are from a different time with different agendas. Artists back then didn't have the internet, blog sites, commercial advertisement, cell phones, email, cars, airplanes, or any fraction of the amount of information people are given today. There was no ADD. Artists have to deal with a lot more shit now, just as people do. These things come into play when people create. This is also how art relates to people beyond what someone thinks it takes to do a good job regarding craftsmanship. What is the point of starting a work if the purpose is the middle part of the job? The start, or idea/innovation, I feel should be a better part of the work. Not cleaning up a poopy idea.


Marti said...
January 14, 2006 at 5:18 AM

Keep in mind I'm an art simpleton....

It's my opinion that the artistry of painting isn't dying... it's just decaying... much like the opera. It's a medium that fewer people like, understand, or appreciate.


carla said...
January 14, 2006 at 11:50 AM

Innovation happens. It is innate to the painting process. One must deliberately set up barriers to keep it out...and they do.

Innovation is one of the most exciting results of process-focused painting (as opposed to 'idea-illustration painting' - before you yell at me, I do both).

But...

By focusing exclusively on the new, we tend to elevate what is the easiest to recognise as being innovative,ie. the most obvious. As this becomes the prominent, make that requisite, motivation for making art, it beomes a limited, standardized concept, often manifested visually in specific styles, which become outdated and change. It becomes more about the appearance of innovation, and, while this is certainly the golden age for superficial livin, it really screws up our natural drive towards novelty.

Personally, I find my expectations or desires to make a 'good' painting interferes with the process of painting, and this includes the desire to make something new. this said, I don't show work unless something very special/new happens, and this can take some years of painting (another topic).

When the novelty is inherent to everything else going on in the process, it really is a timeless moment that produces an eternally innovative piece of art (Picasso, Spiral Jetty, some outsider/naive art, etc.)


gben said...
January 14, 2006 at 11:57 AM

"Personally, I find my expectations or desires to make a 'good' painting interferes with the process of painting, and this includes the desire to make something new."

I think that is a great statement I just wanted to bring attention to.


Anonymous said...
January 14, 2006 at 1:34 PM

Gben: as for formalism, I thought that in context of what I wrote it was apparent that I was refering to formalism as a way to view and critique art not to any art school or movement. The father of Art History, Winkelmann, was a formalist and professed formalism as a way to understand art.

The beauty question: just because someone professes to be making something beautiful deosn't necessarily mean they are succeeding. But mostly it is the subjectivity of beauty and the sigularity of it as a goal that has made it disfavored.


Anonymous said...
January 14, 2006 at 4:41 PM

how successful one is at creating beauty isn't really point, and we all know it depends on who is looking. the fact that it's rarely taken into consideration is. one shouldn't hope to create empty, pretty things if they want to be taken seriously at some point, but I think we've come around enough that professional artists should again at least strive to make beauty.


Anonymous said...
January 14, 2006 at 4:46 PM

Why beauty? I'm not saying that beauty isn't a perfectably acceptable aspect of art but there is room for all of human experience in art.


Liriodendron said...
January 14, 2006 at 10:05 PM

Why beauty? Because I like it, (heh!) and you know....I've noticed many other people respond favorably to beauty also. There's something about "beautiful" art that people of all ages, places, times, seem to appreciate. Just because something is beautiful does not make it empty.


gben said...
January 15, 2006 at 5:48 AM

I now declare monkeys to be the only objective standard of goodness, and I like poot.


Scott said...
January 15, 2006 at 2:48 PM

gben- LOL, monkeys and poot. you have been relagated down to monkeys and poot.

marti said- "Keep in mind I'm an art simpleton..."

Marti- welcome to our site and i for one love to hear the insights of the non art crowd from time to time. i would never consider you to be a mere simpleton for that reason. After all look what poor gben has come to, lol.


liriodendron said...
January 15, 2006 at 4:48 PM

Monkey Man! Poot Painter! lol ;)


gben said...
January 16, 2006 at 11:41 AM

can i change my name to that?


Liriodendron said...
January 16, 2006 at 1:21 PM

Which one? I kind of like Poot Painter...
Perhaps I should change mine to Shallow Beauty? heh!


All Rights Reserved OnTheCusp.org | Blogger Template by Bloggermint