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Wednesday, October 20. 2010
Quoted in an otherwise appreciative City Journal review of a Normal Rockwell show, this supercilious comment:
I can't stand people who write like that. I almost thought it was satire, at first.
Whoever decided that art was meant to afflict comfort? Comfort is a good thing, and difficult to obtain. Sure, art ought to be stimulating in some way - like any other sort of entertainment - or nobody would buy it. Art is entertainment. We love looking at pictures and designs of all sorts.
Here's Rockwell's 1962 Saturday Evening Post cover pic, The Connoisseur. It makes me think new thoughts and try new acts, and I think his Pollock imitation is better than Pollock:
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I'd love to ask the "art critic" who wrote the snide critique of Norman Rockwell what he thinks "the purpose" of art is. Realists, whether proponents of 'magic realism' or simple realism feel a need to portray the world as they see it, for the pleasure of themselves and other viewers.
Is that so wrong?
Rembrandt “doesn’t challenge any of us, or himself, to think new thoughts or try new acts or look with fresh eyes.” Nor Shakespeare. Or Strauss (pick one).
OK, Strauss maybe - the Waltz was considered scandalous and verging on debauchery - men actually holding women, and often women met mere moments earlier? Shocking!
You're kidding, right?
Rembrandt most definitely lets us "look with fresh eyes" - and therefore "think new thoughts" - even if it's about familiar things.
So does Rockwell.
So do Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rubens, and all the realists who came before modernism.
The reaction to snotty elitists is not to be Philistine on purpose....
I thought the purpose of art was to express and ommunicate (and yes, entertain -- I almost forgot that part, BD) not necessarily make someone "think new thoughts."
The Rockwell exhibit obviously took Mr. Gopnik out of his comfort zone, since he found it so obnoxious. So, I don't know what, exactly, he is complaining about, accoding to his own terms.
Having said all that, whenever I go to a museum of modern art, I usually go in search of the Matisses, so I can at least see something recognizable.
Gopnik has no knowledge of history.
He neither understands the history that allowed the Rockwell subjects to come into existence, nor does he understand the context or Rockwell's works. (Obviously those two are related).
I suspect Gopnik's dislike stems from the fact that he does correctly realize that fools were dealt with more appropriately in Rockwell's era.
Somehow I doubt that this bozo would appreciate degrading "art" about something he cares about (how about a picture of Obummer pushed head first into a turd?). No doubt he thought "Piss Christ" was "challenging". But that presupposes that he cares about Obummer or anything else.
I am constantly amazed at what is called "art" now. I suspect it is mainly done to get a government grant. So the next question is why are the taxpayers required to fund such "art". The answer is, of course, because they are such rubes and need to be enlightened.
If I want to "think new thoughts," I will read an essay, not look at a painting. IMHO, the purpose of a work of art is to evoke an emotional reaction.
Perhaps one reason that particular art critic is of the opinion that the purpose of a work of art is to cause the viewer to "think new thoughts" is that the critic couldn't paint his way out of a room , given a paint brush and a can of paint. But he CAN write an essay, which to him is more important than the work of art.
That Norman Rockwell could so well imitate a Jackson Pollock work shows that he was rather good at his work.
The progressive imperative is to be further down the road than YOU. As to where the road goes, well, nevermind that.
Enter Rockwell, and 'sentiment'. The salon will argue over the sentiment, starting far down the road that 'sentiment' is bad, or wrong, or not 'art'.
Whoa, baby. Let's back that up a little ways, shall we? Let us look at spirit, and lift, and the ways of handling light.
...and look at the way the gentleman's weight is put on his left leg --more subtle than the Masters, i'd say --it's the "David pose" (after Michelangelo's statue) and i've never seen it rendered with less of the work showing.
And buddy ... His back is very expressive of doubt, kept in check by good manners. I like that. Like Andrew Wyeth's work, the painting is worth revisiting.
MM, i re-looked --and you're right --all the resolve is taken out by the ever-so-slight slump and back-tilt --the very movement of skepticism trying to hide any vulgar public confrontation.
Agree on Andrew --and old NC too --NC's very line and color expressing in full the bold-stroke economy in the texts of the adventure romances and folklores he illustrated --and doing it so perfectly that now no one can imagine the genre any other way --as if he pioneered nothing but just painted the pictures in people's minds eye. But --he is who put those pictures in those mind's eyes.
Actually I have a Pollock on my wall (no. 27, 1950), and it's actually better.
Hope you're keeping the insurance up to date --if we get a hyperinflation, that thing will go ballistic --
I'm a winner already. I see it's listed for $27, and I'm sure I didn't pay more than $10 when I got it.
Currently the art community goes by the motto that "art must be subversive."
Sorry, but the public generally disagrees.
For a medium that I know well, consider photography. It has degenerated into shock and gag. Where is the pursuit of beauty, of enternal verities?
Most fiction writing lost me as an audience long ago.
As a creative, I have nothing but contempt for critics. This bears repeating in any discussion of critics and criticism: a critic is someone who does not create, and therefor is qualified to discuss the work of those who do. (Robert Heinlein). I believe the world would be a better place if critics were given the back of everyone's hands.
"As for the endlessly repeated claim that art is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable, I don't buy that. And I don't believe the people who say that they do buy it are being honest. I think that a picture which they have no problem with, but which they believe makes other people whom they disapprove of uncomfortable, makes them very comfortable indeed, and that that is the kind of discomfort (i.e. not discomfort at all, for them) which they like, and are referring to with all this discomfort propaganda."
Also see "Against the dehumanization of art," by novelist Mark Helprin, which I excerpt here:
...another try with the Helprin link:
"Washington Post art critic Blake Gopnik, who in reviewing the show derided Rockwell as the cowardly, 'aw, shucks' epitome of Middle America. Rockwell 'doesn’t challenge any of us, or himself, to think new thoughts or try new acts or look with fresh eyes,' wrote Gopnik. 'From the docile realism of his style to the received ideas of his subjects, Rockwell reliably keeps us right in the middle of our comfort zone.'"
Gopnik, like almost anyone in the modern "arts community" can simply be completely ignored. The time has long passed since artists offered "new thoughts" or "new acts" or looked at anything with "fresh eyes".
It's rich of Gopnik to prattle on about our "comfort zone"; no one could possibly be more comfortable than an art critic.
The arts haven't challenged diddly in years - unmade beds, crucifixes in urine and sharks in tanks of formyldahyde just don't cut it. The old game of "épater les bourgeois" falls on its face when both artists and audience are part of the same smug self-congratulatory bourgeoisie.
I'll listen to Gopnik when some artist gets really "edgy", say, by painting Mohammed in a compromising position. Don't wait for any "established artist" or Gopnik-type critic to risk their own comfort zone on that sort of fresh artistic challenge though.
The old game of "épater les bourgeois" falls on its face when both artists and audience are part of the same smug self-congratulatory bourgeoisie
Yall are amazing.
Last weekend i comfortably came upon a discomfiting collection of art, "The New Order" by Arthur Szyk, 1941 edition, at a yard sale.
Folks certainly had too much stuff and too much money for they all but gave it away.
In it, certainly, Szyk attempts to make folks uncomfortable with his illustrations.
In it, certainly, Szyk attempts to make folks uncomfortable with his illustrations
...as i wuz telling my friends Charley Manson and Achmadi Nejad, Heinrich Himmler hisself couldn'ta said it better.
Buddy, me thinks Msr. Szyk has an illustration of yall in this marvelous book, The New Order.
Matter of fact, thar's several lousy liars illustrated, therein.
Since yall include Charlie in yall's company of lousy liars, what lie, do yall think, did he tell?
I suffered through 3 years of Philosophy, 4 or 5 years of Art History and 3 years of Art school. A major "big name" art school.
Art is the creation, reproduction, and dissemination of cultural icons. It is the visual and auditory symbols that define and bond a culture.
Art may be other things, but IMSO this is what art is at it's bedrock. From the creation of instantly recognizable brands like Coca-cola and Nike and little auditory gems like "Wheres the Beef" (that probably dates me a bit) to things like Beethoven's Ninth and the Mona Lisa, from the least talented rock-and-roller to James Dean to the leather jacket, these are all our culture.
And Rockwell did this far, far better than almost anyone. He was a GENIUS. His brush was pure MAD SKILZ BIOTCH!
Maplethorpe was good. Demented, but talented. Pollock? One trick pony (Alice Donut lyrics--I got a Jackson Pollock tattoo on my ass...) Piccasso? PURE GENUIS (No one ever called Pablo Picasso and asshole).
Andrew what's his name (the piss christ twit)? Talentless piker.
Why ugly art?
"it ain't no accident!"
Probably an frustrated no-talent artist - Most critics are.