A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...
Posts tagged "art"
Sep 30, 2014
Very few of us are born into homes where we see true
examples of the artistic temperament, and since artists do certainly conduct their lives—necessarily—on a different pattern from the average man of business, it is very easy to misunderstand what he does and why he does it when we see it from the outside. The picture of the artist as a monster made up of one part vain child, one part suffering martyr, and one part boulevardier is a legacy to us from the last century, and a remarkably embarrassing inheritance. There is an earlier and healthier idea of the artist than that, the idea of the genius as a man more versatile, more sympathetic, more studious than his fellows, more catholic in his tastes, less at the mercy of the ideas of the crowd.
Writer’s block is a modern notion. Writers have probably suffered over their work ever since they first started signing it, but it was not until the early nineteenth century that creative inhibition became an actual issue in literature, something people took into account when they talked about the art. That was partly because, around this time, the conception of the art changed. Before, writers regarded what they did as a rational, purposeful activity, which they controlled. By contrast, the early Romantics came to see poetry as something externally, and magically, conferred.
Jenny Holzer took over the empty marquees that once advertised events at 42nd street theaters. Instead of coming attraction, however, the public found “truisms” – statements by Holzer that had the authorities ring of proverbs. But instead of confirming accepted practices, these comments often seemed to come out of left field. Holzer reordered the world along the lines according to her uncanny “uncommon sense.”
By the mid-1920s, Han van Meegeren had established himself in the Netherlands art scene, but critics soon noted his limitations, penning him as nothing more than an “imitator” of Golden Age artists. “He is a gifted technician who has made a sort of composite facsimile of the Renaissance school,” wrote one pundit. “He has every virtue except originality.”
The highly-sensitive van Meegeren took offense to these comments and published a series of defensive, hostile tirades against the modern art community in a self-published journal. In doing so, he fell out of favor with critics.
With the resounding declaration by critics that he was limited, van Meegeren set out on a mission to prove that he could “not only copy the style of the Dutch masters in his paintings, but produce a work of art so magnificent that it would rival the works of master painters.” He moved to the South of France, holed up in a small studio, and devoted himself to improving his craft.
Emphasis mine. Fantastic story. See also: Peter Schjeldahl’s 2008 piece on van Meegeren in The New Yorker
[Cage] found source material in the small ink drawings of natural phenomena in the poet-philosopher Henry David Thoreau’s journals. The selection (hawk feather, hazelnut, rabbit tracks, and so on), position, orientation, scale, and color of the drawings were calculated by what Cage called chance operations.
A young man in Japan arranged his circumstances so that he was able to travel to a distant island to study Zen with a certain Master for a three-year period. At the end of the three years, feeling no sense of accomplishment, he presented himself to the Master and announced his departure. The Master said, “You’ve been here three years. Why don’t you stay three months more?” The student agreed, but at the end of the three months he still felt that he had made no advance. When he
told the Master again that he was leaving, the Master said, “Look now, you’ve been here three years and three months. Stay three weeks longer.” The student did, but with no success. When he told the Master that absolutely nothing had happened, the Master said, “You’ve been here three years, three months, and three weeks. Stay three more days, and if, at the end of that time, you have not attained enlightenment, commit suicide.” Towards the end of the second day, the student was enlightened.
Here are some more good lines:
I determined to consider a piece of music only half done when I completed a manuscript. It was my responsibility to finish it by getting it played.
Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating.
I wanted to be quiet in a non-quiet situation.
All I know about method is that when I am not working I sometimes think I know something, but when I am working, it is quite clear that I know nothing.
You have to play the game.
I like the ones I have. If you like the ones you don’t have, then you’re not as happy.
I have never enjoyed understanding things. If I understand something, I have no further use for it.
At Clouzot’s invitation, Picasso made a series of works in a studio in Nice, using ink markers designed to bleed through the surface so the strokes are visible from behind. Clouzot and his cinematographer, Claude Renoir (a nephew of the filmmaker Jean Renoir and the grandson of the painter Auguste), using a time-lapse camera, filmed from behind the easel as the artist worked on the pictures, which were destroyed at the end of production. When the film is projected, the paintings magically emerge from the void onscreen. For collages and canvases painted with standard oils, a stop-motion camera was used: the canvas was photographed from the front after each brush stroke, again giving rise to the illusion that the artwork generates itself as we watch.
The chicken painting scene from above was a last-minute addition:
”I’m enjoying this — I could keep going all night!” the painter exclaims when Clouzot asks him if he’s up for painting a quickie using the five minutes’ worth of film that remains in the camera. Thus begins the most entertaining segment of the film, in which Picasso paints a bouquet of flowers that he spontaneously reconceives first as a fish, then as a chicken, while Clouzot counts off the remaining time as if he were the announcer on an artistic version of ”Iron Chef.”
In April 1953, Anchor opened up a new market for paperbacks: the “serious” or academic book. They were the brainchild of twenty-five year old Jason Epstein who convinced Doubleday of the market need for such books in paper editions particularly suited for college use. Epstein’s research so impressed the Doubleday executives that they created such a line and made him editor. The format was the same as the taller mass market size (Signet, Ballantine, etc.), but higher in price: 65¢ to $1.45. Anchor was well received from the start, reaching a mass audience through trade book outlets, campus bookstores and some drugstores. And they had Edward Gorey in charge of the covers.
As art editor, Gorey was responsible for the total cover package, supplying the lettering, typography and design layouts. Often other artist contributed the actual illustration: Leonard Baskin, Milton Glaser, Philippe Julian and even Andy Warhol; but Gorey then designed the finished product lending a uniform appearance to the whole line.
Gorey worked in this capacity from 1953 until 1960, a period which roughly corresponds with Anchor’s first two hundred titles. About a fourth of these have line drawn covers by Gorey. He also designed various covers for Vintage, Capricorn, Compass and other publications that followed Anchor’s lead.