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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Les Bluets (Lydia Davis on Joan Mitchell)

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I start with the fact that Les Bluets (The cornflowers) is the painting I think of first when I think of one that has had particular significance in my life. Then I have to figure out why. I am not even certain that Les Bluets was the actual painting I saw. What I did see was a very large white and blue painting by Joan Mitchell in her studio more than forty-five years ago, and that is the one I am thinking of.

To get closer to the actual experience of seeing the painting, I first confirm or revise some of my memories of visiting her at Vétheuil, of her strong personality, of my life in Paris. Then I remember more, more than I need to, about where I was living, and how I worked at my writing, driving myself relentlessly to do better and more, with moments of pleasure, but often a hounding sense of obligation, a fear that if I did not work terribly hard something would catch up with me — perhaps the possibility that I did not need to be doing this.

I would take the train out of the city, with its closed spaces, its darkness, to the village of Vétheuil, sixty-nine kilometers to the north. A blue gate at the level of the street opened to a climb on foot to the house, a terrace before the "front door. The view from the hilltop was of a landscape managed, orderly: poplars by the winding river, and a village on the far bank. The grounds, the rooms in the house, and the mealtimes were also orderly, though I did not give much thought, then, to the value of order. Monet had once lived here, though at the base of the hill, in what was now the gardener’s cottage. His first wife, Camille, was buried in a cemetery beyond the garden.

On one visit I walked out to Mitchell’s studio to look at a painting. I don’t know if this was the first time I went into her studio. I liked the painting very much and thought there was no problem with the way I looked at it. It was what it was, shapes and colors, white and blue. Then I was told by Joan or someone else that it referred to the landscape here in Vétheuil, specifically to cornflowers. Whatever I had known or not known about painting before, this was a surprise to me, even a shock. Apparently I had not known that an abstract painting could contain references to subject matter. Two things happened at once: the painting abruptly went beyond itself, lost its solitariness, acquired a relationship to fields, to flowers; and it changed from something I understood into something I did not understand, a mystery, a problem.

Later I could try to figure it out: there had to be visual clues in the picture. Were all, or only some, of the elements in it clues? If the lighter, scattered, or broken areas of blue referred to cornflowers, what did the blocks of darker blue refer to, and the opulent white? Or were all the elements clues but some of them to private, unknow- able subjects? Was this a representation of an emotional response to cornflowers, or to a memory of cornflowers?

I like to understand things and tend to ask questions of myself or another person until there is nothing left that I do not understand. At the time, in the midst of a period when I was training myself so hard in another kind of representation, and seeing more and more clearly into the subtlest workings of my language, I was confronted with this experience of opacity.

I had had other striking experiences of incomprehension, the most extended being the weeks I spent in an Austrian first-grade class listening to the German language, before it began to change slowly, a fragment at a time, to something I could understand. Years later, when translating French texts into English, I struggled so hard with the meaning of certain complex sentences that I was sure I felt this struggle physiologically inside my brain—the little currents of electricity sparked, traveled, leaped forward against the problem, fell back, leaped again from a different side, failed. But this experience caught me unprepared, in its novel form — no words, but three panels of blue and white.

Eventually I began to find answers to my questions, but they were not complete answers, and after a time I did not feel the need for complete answers, because I saw that part of the force of the painting was that it continued to elude explanation. I became willing to allow aspects of the painting to remain mysterious, and I became willing to allow aspects of other problems to remain unsolved as well, and it was this new tolerance for, and then satisfaction in, the unexplained and unsolved that marked a change in me.

Even now, just by remaining so mysteriously fixed in my memory, the painting poses a question that, once again, remains even after I have attempted to answer it, and that is, not how does the painting work, but how does the memory of the painting work?

 

Copyright © 1996 by Lydia Davis. First appeared in Artforum, January 1996. 

Cadavre Exquis

Take a trip through the Rick and Morty multiverse.
Direction: Matt Taylor - Titmouse. Music: "Thursday in the Danger Room (instrumental version)" from the album "RTJ3" by Run The Jewels.

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Le cadavre exquis est un jeu collectif inventé par les surréalistes vers 1925.

Le Dictionnaire abrégé du surréalisme donne du cadavre exquis la définition suivante: «jeu qui consiste à faire composer une phrase, ou un dessin, par plusieurs personnes sans qu'aucune d'elles ne puisse tenir compte de la collaboration ou des collaborations précédentes.»

Ce jeu littéraire a été inventé à Paris, au 54 rue du Château, dans une maison où vivaient Marcel DuhamelJacques Prévert et Yves Tanguy. Le principe du jeu est le suivant : chaque participant écrit à tour de rôle une partie d'une phrase, dans l'ordre sujet–verbe–complément, sans savoir ce que le précédent a écrit. La première phrase qui résulta et qui donna le nom à ce jeu fut «Le cadavre – exquis – boira – le vin – nouveau». Il fait partie des créations inspirées par le concept d'inconscient, souhaitant explorer ses ressources.

Il n'était au départ qu'une activité ludique, selon André Breton : «Bien que, par mesure de défense, parfois, cette activité ait été dite, par nous, «expérimentale», nous y cherchions avant tout le divertissement. Ce que nous avons pu y découvrir d'enrichissant sous le rapport de la connaissance n'est venu qu'ensuite.»

David Wojnarowicz - Untitled

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One day this kid will get larger. One day this kid will come to know something that causes a sensation equivalent to the separation of the earth from its axis. One day this kid will reach a point where he senses a division that isn’t mathematical. One day this kid will feel something stir in his heart and throat and mouth. One day this kid will find something in his mind and body and soul that makes him hungry. One day this kid will do something that causes men who wear the uniforms of priests and rabbis, men who inhabit certain stone buildings, to call for his death. One day politicians will enact legislation against this kid. One day families will give false information to their children and each child will pass that information down generationally to their families and that information will be designed to make existence intolerable for this kid. One day this kid will begin to experience all this activity in his environment and that activity and information will compell [sic] him to commit suicide or submit to danger in hopes of being murdered or submit to silence and invisibility. Or one day this kid will talk. When he begins to talk, men who develop a fear of this kid will attempt to silence him with strangling, fists, prison, suffocation, rape, intimidation, drugging, ropes, guns, laws, menace, roving gangs, bottles, knives, religion, decapitation, and immolation by fire. Doctors will pronounce this kid curable as if his brain were a virus. This kid will lose his constitutional rights against the government’s invasion of his privacy. This kid will be faced with electro-shock, drugs, and conditioning therapies in laboratories tended by psychologists and research scientists. He will be subject to loss of home, civil rights, jobs, and all conceivable freedoms. All this will begin to happen in one or two years when he discovers he desires to place his naked body on the naked body of another boy.

Gerstl's Final Self-Portrait

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From The New Yorker:

In a final, shocking self-portrait, he paints himself naked, his body streaked in clammy blue tones, his genitals colored strangely brown. Coffer describes the picture as one last gasp of self-assertion—“an artist who is crowing at his potency.” Others see it as a rehearsal for suicide—a portrait of the artist as a young corpse. Either way, the image has the feeling of a radical, irrevocable act. A veil has been torn; anything is possible.

HUMANÆ

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HUMANÆ - WORK IN PROGRESS

 

Humanæ is a “work in progress” by the Brazilian Angélica Dass, who intends to deploy a chromatic range of the different human skin colors. Those who pose are volunteers who have known the project and decide to participate. There is no previous selection of participants and there are no classifications relating to nationality, gender, age, race, social class or religion. Nor is there an explicit intention to finish it on a specific date. It is open in all senses and it will include all those who want to be part of this colossal global mosaic. The only limit would be reached by completing all of the world’s population.

A photographic taxonomy of these proportions has been rarely undertaken; those who preceded Angélica Dass were characters of the 19th century that, for various reasons - legal, medical, administrative, or anthropological - used photographs to establish different types of social control of the power. The best-known is that of the portraits of identity, initiated by Alphonse Bertillon and now used universally. However, this taxonomy close to Borges´ world, adopts the format of the PANTONE ® guides, which gives the collection a degree of hierarchical horizontality that dilutes the false preeminence of some races over others based on skin color or social condition.

These guidelines have become one of the main systems of color classification, which are represented by means of an alphanumeric code, allowing to recreate them accurately in any medium: is a technical-industrial standard. The process followed in Humanæ also is rigorous and systematic: the background for each portrait is tinted with a color tone identical to a sample of 11 x 11 pixels taken from the face of the photographed. Aligned as in the famous samples, its horizontality is not only formal also is ethical.

Thus, without fuss, with the extraordinary simplicity of this semantic metaphor, the artist makes an “innocent” displacement of the socio-political context of the racial problem to a safe medium, the guides, where the primary colors have exactly the same importance that the mixed ones. It even dilutes the figure of power that usually the photographer holds. The use of codes and visual materials belonging to the imagery that we all share, leaves in the background the self-referentiality of the artist, insistent and often tiresome.

The will that the project evolves in other directions beyond their control (debates, educational applications, replicas and a host of alternatives that have already triggered by sharing Humanæ on social networks) contributes also to the dilution of the hierarchy of the author.

Many of the ingredients that characterize the [best] spirit of this time appear to be part of this project: shared authorship, active solidarity and local proposals likely to operate globally, networking, communication expanded to alternative spaces of debate, awareness without political ideology, social horizontality…

The spectator is invited to press the share button in his brain.

 

Alejandro Castellote

Morris Louis - Beta Tau

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De 1929 a 1933, Morris Louis estuda no Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts. Em 1952, muda-se para Washington, D.C. Em 1953, com o seu amigo Kenneth Noland, visita o atelier de Helen Frankenthaler, em Nova Iorque, e começa a centrar, a partir desta data, as suas pesquisas na cor e no modo como esta é absorvida pela tela. Embora o artista tenha destruído muitas das suas obras do período entre 1955 e 1957, irá, mais tarde, ganhar um certo renome com Veils [Véus], em 1958-1959. Morris Louis pertence à geração de artistas americanos que se segue ao Expressionismo Abstrato. A série Unfurleds (to unfurl significa desfraldar), que, juntamente com Stripes [Riscas], marca o fim da sua vida, engloba cerca de 150 obras. As Unfurleds são obras de grande formato, realizadas com tinta escorrida (magna, com base acrílica). O centro é deixado intacto. Morris Louis utiliza a técnica do cropping, em que é trabalhada uma metade da tela, depois a outra e se procede a um enquadramento final. Juntamente com Frank Stella e Anthony Caro, Morris Louis está na origem da abordagem do livro Art and Objecthood (1967), do crítico Michael Fried.
J-FC

Untitled

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Joining the rarefied $100 million-plus club in a salesroom punctuated by periodic gasps from the crowd, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s powerful 1982 painting of a skull brought $110.5 million at Sotheby’s, to become the sixth most expensive work ever sold at auction. Only 10 other works have broken the $100 million mark.

Pop/Pistol

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From the MoMA tumblr:

While much of Whitfield Lovell’s work is based on anonymous photographs, Pop/Pistol is a uniquely personal drawing for the artist. It depicts his grandfather, Eugene Glover, who was shot and killed by muggers while returning home from the bank in 1984. Set against a vibrant orange field, the profile image of Glover (“Pop”) and the detailed rendering of a gun are surrounded by a text describing the crime that was published in the New York Daily News. By transcribing the impersonal facts of the news story in his own looping script, Lovell reclaims the publicly reported event as an instance of private grief.

 

You can see this new addition to MoMA’s collection on Floor 1 through April 30 as part of the Museum’s installation series “Inbox.”

[Whitfield Lovell. Pop/Pistol. 1990. Oilstick and charcoal on paper. Committee on Drawing and Prints Fund, 2016. © 2017 Whitfield Lovell. Courtesy DC Moore Gallery, NY]