Thornton Willis


Painter said...

Thornton Willis @
Elizabeth Harris Gallery
529 W 20th Street
NYC 10011

triple diesel said...

Nice follow-up, painter~

Brangalina said...

Is this guys work on the cover of the NYSun paper today?

kalm james said...

Yes brangalina it’s him. Thornton Willis should give hope to any painter who tries to stay true to their practice and believes that eventually through serious work and perseverance they will eventually be “seen”. This painting appears to be one of a trio of smaller works in the show which is his first one-man presentation in over a decade.

Since I became acquainted with his work through Barbara Rose’s “Painting of the Eighties” show, Thornton has developed a solid body of painting and taken the risks of changing a hard-won signature image and moving into a more challenging type of abstract painting. Though this “change” cost him dearly among an influential group of art aficionados as well as collectors and curators he stuck to it. In many ways this is the last thread of what originally put NYC on the art world map, a summing up of the New York School that simultaneously lays a foundation for young abstractionists to carry on with in the new millennium. Not bad for a 70 year old kid!

SisterBee said...

Wow. I've got such a bias toward abstract painting. This piece is exciting to me. Yesterday's by David Bates was just kind of blah. It's not that I didn't like the Bates piece. I liked it fine. It just didn't do much for me.

So we've got the blacks and yellows; the chunky, sculptural forms; those thick black lines and pasty paint handling in common. Yet this piece has a boldness and energy to it that rocks the wall. The other, by comparison, seems overly refined.

Hmm... I wonder what's going on here.

wod zar xam said...

Geometric, gemlike shapes are coming back in to vogue as part of the language of contemporary abstracted figuration type art.

Particularly, seems to be strong on the west coast, coming out of an interest (I think) in primitivism and psychedelic patterning. You can see it in the work of artists from all over, though -- McHargue, Furnas, Tal R, and many others. Personally, I think it is a nod to futurism, crystalline architecture and the idealist stance toward progress and technology it bespoke. In the face of a rather bleak time in history, as we seem to have now, the hopeful shift is shown in diagonals and shards like these -- a utopian bypassing of utility in favor of decoration.

Its nice to see this reinvigorate the career of someone that has apparently been doing it for a long while, somewhat under the radar? Nice painting, especially right now.

poppy said...

i'm drawn to this more than the bates too. 70 hey? it doesn't feel that old.
for most part i like but there is something about the black lines i'm not fussy about. i dont have anything against black lines but some of them don't work for me in this one. and i do like the chunky aspect.
Is part of the appeal - the areas that some might read as mistakes and distractions?

closeuup said...

this is somewhere between the cool of tomma abts or garth wieser and the pretty much-cliched groovy starburst of the w.coast (is that on triple diesels site--the starburst roundup?)

the wierd thing about this painting is how it busts out of the frame and yet back in on itself at the same time. its kinda comic cool.

exu said...

that was on scott taylors site which i cant find no more

Anonymous said...

In each pack of origami paper you receive a booklet of instructional diagrams to make up anything from the crane to the plane. Origami for anyone who has tried is the wonder of the simple fold upon a square bit of colored paper. Five-year-olds can whizz up a praying mantis, a lotus (the difficult version) with the nimbleness of ease. My fumbling fingers, of course, are a little slower though still find the booklet an absolute need--better than the free in Weet-Bix.
Ok I'm going to go make me a boat.

poppy said...

thanks for posting that flip book

kalm james said...

Pops, this piece represents only one of several directions that these paintings are going in. The one that illustrates the article in today’s New York Sun uses white lines and was and in this show was an early favorite of mine.

wod zar xam, if you dig the crystalline forms, you should check out some of the Czechoslovakian cubist designers and architects from the 1920s.

Anonymous said...

shouda read better than the wee in weet-bix, never-mind.
diagonals represent the indefinite you know something you can't fix or place you tilt your head and the horizon still is horizontal. When you close the diagonal at the most simplest you get a twiange. When you look at the sun and draw a line from there to you and that tree over there you have a triangle too. You can get there by plotting numerous verticals and horizontals as you would on graph paper and then just mark in the points and leave them as points. Here the points have equal value whereas in the real and on a painting these points revert back to the hierarchy of the full moon. It's interesting, if you look at a good Mondrian post 23 you'll notice he was looking for the most disparate relation, the just tolerable tension, of the diagonal. He used the grid interpenetration as negation of the negation as Wilhelm Albert Vladimir would say to keep things as plastic as possible, to pin the triangle on the donkey.
I'm sure Thorton Willis had a lot of fun with these.

dharmabum said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dharmabum said...

TW spent a long time wandering in the woods or on the links between the 80's wedge paintings and these new ones- multiple wedges? I and others thought the paintings in the interim were pretty rough but he kept at it. I hope I can paint as well when I'm 70.

clement said...

I'm very interested in crystals, graduating in Geology years ago. What are some of the names of the "Czechoslovakian cubist designers and architects from the 1920s"?


wod zar xam said...

ditto the above (sans the geology degree)...

kalm james said...

Clement, you could start with Bohumil Kubišta, Vincenc Beneš, Emil Filla, some painters. Otto Gutfreund was the major sculptor. For architecture and design check out Joseph Chochol, Pavel Janák, Joseph Gocár and Valastislv Hofman, they were all members of the Avant-Garde Group, (Hofman being the most radical.). They wanted to create a totally cubistic living environment. Checking my references much of this stuff was done in the late teens.

zipthwung said...

Phong Bui of the broklyn rail - i believe - had a show in W-burg - three dee version of this motif.

Whats the motivation? I drew a crystaline figure the other day - not ART because I dont think working in this way is rigourous enough to be avant guard.

I have been reading Olav Velthius's new book -as reccomended here - and as most sociological studies, its dry as dirt. And yet I continue reading.

This stuff leaves me colder than a five day power outage and dumber than downed douglas fir tree.

wod zar xam said...

Re: Whats the motivation?

Probably can't speak for anyone but myself, but utilizing crystalline forms is a great way to talk about the hopefulness of early modernism. I agree that it shouldn't be ALL that you do, but it is not without its merits. As long as it doesn't fog the the mirror, let loose the crystals I say!

zipthwung said...

i was on the edge of chaco canyon once when I spotted some crystals "charging" up for the cell phone call to god.

Far be it from me to transmogrify them into a pile of granola.

The view was fanfuckingtastic.
Guess thats not enough for some people.

Anonymous said...

Who knows what we'll be doing at 70. Some will be rendering rifles others will have a focus on gnomes (see a post at Tom Moody).
Willis is doing his own thing--they look gutsy and there's a lot working well. I can see his mind working as he pulls out a dark line with a half empty brush. I salute him!
...salute you all for this happy season!

no-where-man said...

anyone see Liz Larner's piece: Central Park at East 60th Street... like some sphere-cube chat, this has similar tensions.

zipthwung said...

this reminds me of fred sandbacks yarn, the kabalah, the Jewish Eruv enclosure, stepping on a crack but not breaking my mothers back, drawing a line in the sand, old school diners with tin tiles - deco I suppose - streamlining and efficiency as an esthetic, Taylorism I suppose.

I think its probably in the realm of NOW as Utopian futurism is a STRONG BUY.

I cant remember the name of the dude from across the pond who is coming with some thread.

ALl the new glossy art magazines make me nervous. What next, a ARTOPIA with its own airline and cowrie shell currency?

Cross said...

Glossy art magazines are trying in vain to compete with glossy computer screens. Only a matter of time...

(I see pop-up ads on the walls of galleries, between paintings.)

closeuup said...

I saw Ivanks Trumps apartment in the new Instyle Magazine. I dont necessarily believe that it is really her apt. These people all lie about everything. She said she decorated it herself, which I really dont believe either. She has a Judy Pfaff in the living room. Hmmm

closeuup said...

Ivanka. Boob job too.

rainbowandskull said...

Painter is on MUG Today!
They said
Smart: this site lets you experience a small image of an artist's work, quietly and crowd-free, in two ways. You can simply see the work and the name of the painter. You can also click on the comments to find out where the artist is showing as well as browse the comments, which range from insightful to certifiable.

Ursula's Dad said...

Just wanted to point out the words "Very Disco" in the root word "Discovery"...

Isn't everything retro...

zipthwung said...

is judy pfaff good? I allways thought she was a sculptors sculptor - you know, no bases or pedestals. Like that chickenwire and plaster lady. Or the chickenwire and resin political dude with the wife.

She does draw some nice lines though.

Re MUG: I find certifiable to be somewhat limiting. Call me crazy but it discounts the oppinion of the "certified". Like infantilization.

WHy not just "misunderstood"?
Too elitist?

Ah, marginalia.

RE: Decor - most peopel who hire decorators say they had a major hand in it - thats part of the the decorators job.

no-where-man said...

i recall, not so long ago. i was in the backroom of a gallery with a critic, it was 9/13 and we were taking about "would the Art World ever be there again." we were so sure it would explode.

disco. disco fucking indeed.

zipthwung said...

Ask Larry Flint what happened to porn right Cross? Im just worried that if I focus on my ambiance I might be considered provincial - as a pejorative. My jet is in hawk cuz I'm working with some programmers on a new text based text based computer game where blue chip art funds awesome original avant guard ideas without the blue chip dealer losing face to the serious art community for compromising their artistic integrity. Its called DIE ARTWORLD DIE. THe game ends when you can purchase a suitcase nuke.

bluebalz said...

boring back then, boring now. there is better abstract painting.

George said...


care to give some examples?

closeuup said...

"Down in Denver,
Down in Denver –
all I did was die.”

- Jack Kerouac

artgirl said...

Beautiful. I attended a panel in which Thornton Willis spoke at a few years ago. His work is true abstract painting. I realize that that may not be in vogue now but he is coming out of a tradition in which the artists thought about their work. He isn't trying to get a rise out of his audience. He is trying to make them think about space and isn't that a major aspect of painting? I think so.

poppy said...

you know i don't have a problem with this painting,... but someone please tell me what the hell abstraction means.. i just don't read this stuff as abstract when i figure i know what the heck it is and what it wants to dooooo..

zipthwung said...

I like space - its easy to scream there. Im paranoid about abstraction because I think its a con to get people to shut up.
Nothing to say?

Remember what the doormouse said:

Feed your head.

Professor Mouth said...

This is the best painting I've seen on this site in recent memory.

I must say I am feel somewhat vindicated at finding out Willis' age. When I first saw this painting, I thought 'wow, how striking and economical. I'll bet anything that this dude has been at it for a while'. Nice to see I was right. This is especially refreshing when compared to all the desperate, illustrational tap-dancing that my generation is mostly practicing right now. Barnaby Furnas can spill as much blood as he wants; All that red paint just disguises the fact that he hasn't the slightest fucking clue how to build a real work of art.

Hooray for grumpy old bastards, I say.

zipthwung said...

this is what you want

this is what you get

Corporate city
Lucky for some
Richest island in the sun
That's life

Name of the game
It's competition
Top of the pile
Not demolition

This is what you want
This is what you get

Bad life
Bad life

Anonymous said...

OK, where is it and what is it going to do? Is it going to jump? Is it going to talk to me, or something? Am I meant to make the first move, or will it come up to me. Or, or, do I need to plug it in--ipod, pod-cast something (you can get that right?)... do I need a kind of what do say... an awakening.... like um... waking up in the morning and not knowing where you are but that you know you are there. Yeah well, kind of! We are getting started.

Poppy you are way too young but there was this most dreadful tv series. It goes like this: It's about time, it's about space, it's about the human race. And luckily abstraction has nothing to do with that. If like zip sez it's about space, it'd draw you to the fourth episode of this dreadful um, what do you call it, old tv series. Not a good place to go!
Pitch, visual pitch.

I get into vibrations and stuff: there are these really simple ones, simple arrangements. And from their you just are able to open another pea to another pod. see the pod grow, open that up open the pea to another pod, and it is here that these vibrations start doing different things. Right! So you started with four candles and you peeled your peas and listened to your pod and peeled that and while doing this the gondolas multiplied, So there are now all these candles and gondolas. And candles have to stay alight, right! So there is this stuff called air and in the air there is oxygen. And we breath that stuff. And the candles like it too. However candles don't like pea-pods. They drown! That's why they have gondolas. But sometimes the gondolas go down And that's sorrowful. But this happens.
So as I was saying... awh forget it!

If you question something it usually draws you in and you get your own answers that mean something to you--unless the above kind of really makes sense to you? Then I could just go on and on and on even on to the candelabra and how the gondola driver swings from them... but that's only if you want.

So poppy how have you reconciled this image? Did you ditch the word? It's an old word and not sure if it really ever did work, but you know labels.... they stick!

zipthwung said...

Swizerland was not neutral during WW2.
Thats a fucking lie.

I will go Missile Command. I will GO Tack ball on the thread patrol. I got a braggin dragon on the big 10-4 good buddy. Is that your chimp or mine?

I got a fish eyed van with a crystal wizard driftwood tan.

I got Mrs What Mrs Which and miss Whoo in the tesseract. They wrinkle when they tinkle but they wont fall down.

With a name like Chablis but breath spelled G-A-L-L-O.


zipthwung said...

Speaking of magic lanterns - a kid threw the shocker in the local paper - above the fold. It was like a M. Night Shambleman uncanny moment.

Two in the pink one in the stink!

dharmabum said...

he's not certifiable, just hypoglycemic

poppy said...

these days, when the meaning and references appear foreign etc,... i call this stuff abstract.. when it is farmiliar and completely derived from old school concepts etc...on surface... i call this not abstract...if a painting manages to get me guessing the origins of such a form and forgrounds this in someway.. but this i just wouldn't giver that label..
i think of it more like this.. Meaning intention of artist not understood, cant place, this is when i think abstract.. anyways im repeating but i don't like the oldschool label of abstract i just don't think it should apply in many cases.

poppy said...

these days, when the meaning and references appear foreign etc,... i call this stuff abstract.. when it is farmiliar and completely derived from old school concepts etc...on surface... i call this not abstract...if a painting manages to get me guessing the origins of such a form and forgrounds this in someway.. but this i just wouldn't giver that label..
i think of it more like this.. Meaning intention of artist not understood, cant place, this is when i think abstract.. anyways im repeating but i don't like the oldschool label of abstract i just don't think it should apply in many cases.

wod zar xam said...

Poppy i agree.. nothing is abstract anymore. All "Abstraction" in painting now necessarily refers to one or another period / tableaux of modernism. Referential art can't be abstract, thus there is no abstract art any more. At least none that I can think of.

This TW painting is referring to futurism, pop art (via the cartoony black lines), Bauhaus - lots of other stuff too. All of these styles/periods carry with them a .pdf users manual of meaning, context and associations. So, in this day and (information) age, is painting in a referential, abstract manner any less wrought with narrative than, say, painting an allegory of Greek gods and Shakespearean characters? Can you have abstraction now? With such a strong litany of abstract art in the last 100 years to refer to, I don't see how it is logically possible.

Thousand Points of Light said...


TW's work is 3rd generation abstract expressionism with a very strong dose of Greenbergian formalism.

It is what it is: dusty, heavy line and field work that has little to do with the rest of the world outside the studio.

Its very close to classic, high modernist painting for painting's sake.

The whole conversation of crystals and utopias and European Constructivism seems completely incongruent with this work.

poppy said...

you put it better than me, but what i was gettin at, with all the historical associations comes meaning and narrative..but some people still want to call it this, i understand, it is the easy thing to do. Surely this is in the same line as that older work but it certainly doesn't read as abstract.. but it brings up a good point that wod mentioned too, can you make abstract that reads as such...

Decay Image said...

Didn't know this thread was still going, computer has been down for days.

tpol, you are right on the money. People like this painting because it is so comprehensible. It speaks the olde language. It can be identified with all that is authentic and butch and noble about abstract painting. As zip might say "it wears a black beret and a 'Che Lives' tshirt and chain smokes lucky strikes (unfiltered of course).

But a "summing up of the New York school?" rather nostalgia for. This is precisely where Elizabeth Murray decided to become original. "The last thread"? More like threadbare. I get the possible fashionability of the look if you want to concede that painting has just become an extension of the endless cycles of fashion, which I don't want to do.

Chris Martin takes on the problem that abstract painting has always been a mediation between the arbitrary and the specific so much more gutsily. And if you want radical abstract painting, go see Chris Wool's paintings @ Sperone's group show.

zipthwung said...

I was just looking at picture of young Che in "The Dark Side of Camelot" -RAD!!!!

Hes smoking a cuban cigar - just a cuban cigar - and hes sort of slouched over like he could hang out with Sartre over a cup of mud, metonymicly speaking.

I just got access to some rad books, as you might guess.

Are we all just sleepwalking? Does this painting hold a higher spiritual truth?
No, but I did see the new James Bond Credits, which are pretty druggy.

Thats the era we are talking about, right? THats the ambiance? ANd why the fuck not? I AM SARTRE (but i love the bourgeoise) because thats my schtick. And who the fuck is sartre? He'll be nobody once I eliminate him from the temporal record.

Pour some sugar on me.

zipthwung said...

Speaking of History - Harpers has a nice article on the Christian right re-writing history by connecting the dots to the losers who didnt write very well or whos novels got pulped or were just sort of pedantic. Or they re-interpret stuff. I liek revisionism. Its called creative misreading, adn is the way of the future - I forgot who wrotte about misreading (Eco?), mind like a rusty seive.

I was looking at GAWKER. I think thats where art history is headed. Not dead, just sort of crawwling towards the mirage with a vulture on its back.

zipthwung said...

I need Dr. Feelgood to give me a vitamin shot.

zipthwung said...

peace be with you

-Benjamin Franklin

Anonymous said...

Thanks for replying poppy and your answer is pretty clear and to the point. If something is known it's not unknown (not sure if it was abstraction intention to remain in the territory of the unknown but..). If we understand the elements, the parts, the rationale, and we can see the overall picture then it really is just functioning on the level like any other known thing does, in the case of popular music, it has chords there are lyrics, their is expectation. And perhaps this has it's roots in Perry Como but still it works third generation or not.

The hypoglycemic comments ranting with the candles, the gondolas, and drivers, actually tell at least on a personal meta-level about visual 'temperament' and harmonic intervals in terms of lines and spaces, and their shape--the color of all these ingredients when they are working together though strangely in themselves remaining something that is not a representation of the arm, backyard, bird, or sky.
So if we just look at color as something that has been employed as a non-represental component, you have color functioning without the attributes of the known or outside, though functioning through the outside, getting inside in order to communicate to you, hopefully--color and it's relations has temperament. And that alone gets very tricky, though remains very flexible.
Well, you say fine, so what--it's called monochrome. Well, color is tricky and the more you work with it the more it tends to want to go into the know into some representation of a known, an experience. Therefore even as a monochrome, a so-called abstract work, there is a gradient of how abstract the impression is. Does color free itself from the associations of the known, of what constitutes a red, or a blue, of how color is working, communicating, touching gently or pushing those buttons? At what level is color working, on a totally different level, of the experience of everyday? To do this doesn't necessarily mean you have to mix this fancy color. But you do need to be aware, and understand it's placement in the different contexts, remembering head space in a pretty major context.

The closer the color artist ( keeping with the same example) gets to their focus, the closer they will be producing something that is of that focus.

And remember this is tricky because there are more things in front of us (in the working memory banks) than there is in front of us.

That's color! Just one example!

At this non-represental level, also, there are other things beginning to work. Symbolically I called them candles. To understand the candle you needed to get there was oxygen in the air and that light moved through. So straight away things aren't as simple as they were before you bought in the candle and lit it--now you've got something combusting and it's throwing off light. It's where you can begin to see some of these other things, right! So we needed them gondoliers, right! And all of a sudden we are in another place another time--or we've just become flexible.

So for those working in a nonrepresentational way there is light for what it is, there are visual temperaments that are far too many to even think and name, there is the unknown to find our arrangement with it to bring into our cognitive senses.
And one way still do do this is through the abstract or whatever you want to call it!
Sorry that wasn't meant to come across as a diatribe
Party tonight!!!

wod zar xam said...

... TPL and Decay Image, many thanks for the interesting counterpoint, but I think you are wrong. The meaning of an image cannot be taken away from the context it is viewed in. This is the conundrum of relativity as applied to art. You can never go back to your olde schoole. That apple you painted will oxidize under the duress of ages.

If someone takes a zoomed in, closeup photograph of the reflections in a chrome hubcap, the first time you view it, who knows what you might call it. A landscape, a whirlpool, whatever. But as soon as some one says "dude thats a zoomed in picture of a hubcap", all your innocent, initial impressions are banished from your dome-piece forever.

Thats where we are at with "3rd Generation abstract expressionist" paintings (though I'm not sure this painting really is even that). The noble, honest, formal, straightforward, butch -- all that went out the window a long time ago. Semiotically speaking, everything is layer upon layer of associations and meanings and intertextual relationships. Even Pollack's blind fury could not be separated from Pollack himself, and so it all was for nothing in the end.

We are beyond the point where we can show up with our Beret, Che shirt and Lucky Unfiltered without someone calling us on who we are pretending to be and wondering why we are wearing that getup to the Christmas party. Halloween parties were 2 months ago, that was when we all believed in the immutable finality of form, and that has gone bye-bye. Now, a painter can't go out in costume with out someone looking under the mask.

ad3pt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Thousand Points of Light said...

Wod Zar Xam:

Comments were not in defense of the work at all.

Context doesn't change the intent of the work, which by TW's own admission is very much 3rd gen. Ab Ex.

closeuup said...

what if your context is not my context?

no-where-man said...

context of no context,.. when this cat went to town on my toes ack i just puked in my mouth a little.

Cooky Blaha said...

that black dude in santa costume is always chillin on st marks sellin bric a brac, often has decent junk

epilepticadam said...


as far as my first impression:
this is crap. why?:

it is trivial and was the cover of my geometry book in highschool (and i love geometry). it is below zero and does not allow me to transcend or think even meditatively beyond my capability...

one, by the way, need not go to art school to do this... my brilliant anti-visual brother does such doodles...

it is simplistic and boring for me... i personally need more when it comes to abstract/ abstract -representational/ abstract in the representational mode or whatever... at least intrigue me visually!

i am not intrigued...,

a bothered,

epilepticadam said...

and surely my friends,

we can think beyond
anti-visual people...

Decay Image said...

Here's the deal:
I can't look at this work and not think about the development of Al Held's work. He died last year at the young age of 76, and started his career as a second generation abstract expressionist:
But by 1960 drippy expressionist paint began to be a cliche and so first he starts to simplify:
and this
but then he starts to challenge the flatness ideology and searches for expression by means other than "expressive paint" and he gets
and this
before moving to the work we know him better for.

Clearly he could sling that pigment, but he chose to rebel against that good, honest paint ideology that was so prevalent in the 50's. That's why I see Willis' work as being so atavistic. I think there is no challenge to any painting ideology at all, and without that there can be no painting that is art. Abstract or representational. (I also agree that all painting is representing something on one level or another, even if it is philosophical idea.

epilepticadam said...

google stuart davis...

Anonymous said...

Adam, we are all anti-visual that's why we argue and offer our point of view on threads like these!
decay- you know i don't think anyone on this thread has mentioned that this work challenges abstraction or painting in general. Due to the slightly generic structuring and use of motif it's easy to say I've seen this a thousand times. And maybe you have! It's not groundbreaking earth shattering it's a painting that happens to fall within the tenants of modernist abstraction, looks in the first instance kind of brutish, simplistic, until you start to roam the picture. This flatness thing, the volume thing, the one the other, is nothing but a grab bag for those who wont settle down and look, because if they did, they'd be able to offer something outside the rules that you were taught or had to read at school.
You would see some subtle and interesting things going on as with this one small little example:

Notice the arrow, the pink, grey, and white-i-pink. Look at the angle or the direction it is on. Now look at the solid gray to the left between the two blacks and then the back on the right between the blue and the ochre. Go right down to the bottom of the painting and look at the point at the edge of the painting then go back up, as the pinks open and set down the launch gear, and then return to that top arrow.

A lot of painting doesn't even go half that far.
Agreed painting can go further. But getting some simple stuff right is OK.

zipthwung said...

Why wont anyone tackle intersubjective or contingent context? TO vague? Too obtuse? Too abstract?

Ok, I guess Ill start.

"Harold Bloom, refers to the Cabbalists' practice of eternally interpreting and thus re-writing a basic text or archtext as "creative misreading", setting this as an example for all imaginative reading.

Im going to coin a new term. Ready?

Tepid burlesque.

Its not high - cuz its working something thats allready high.
And its not low, cuz theres no fecal matter or tits. Or cookies.

I believe a lot of so called fine gallery art falls under this umbrella or rubric.

Quizz: Hi or low:

1) A three year old making poosicles.
2) A diamond made out of carbonized poo
3) A lump of coal.

You people obsessed with money and status: The last thing your market wants to deal with is existential angst or class anger.

Keep it light. Keep it happy. Keep it clean.

"the only thing you can do with something that is dead is bury it so it wont poison the air"

-Ernesto Guevara

Decay Image said...

sorry Brent, of course no one has mentioned it, my point is that if it doesn't try to do that on some level, it has no use for me. Just because it does something a little more sophisticated than a billion uninteresting inept paintings is not a good enough reason for me to think about it.(of course I am intentionally being extreme here, because obviously I have thought about it). I am happy for the guy that his lifetime of struggle is finally gathering some support.

And btw, the only moment that caught my attention is that peculiar white acute triangle that starts in the upper middle and terminates in a blobby black line. It is a perverse assertion in an otherwise boring construction, and is the only daring moment. (but I can't believe I am actually wasting brain cells on this). When you talk about a launching pad you start to scare me a little.

epilepticadam said...

"Adam, we are all anti-visual that's why we argue and offer our point of view on threads like these!"

by anti-visual, i meant: not responsive to visuals at all and not even being able to take note of visuals nor even remember visuals with a preference to anything other than visuals...

by that definition, i know people on this blog are not anti-visual...

this painting is so basic compositionally and technically, all painters should be able to concoct something so basic, this is a first year art school exercise... and or doodle...

time for a seizure,

closeuup said...

Art history is like a football game with no ball. The teams fight their way down the field to one end zone and then the other. Back and forth . It gets pretty boring after a while. Lots of artists pay it little mind, tho.

What continues to excite is the presence and reality of the art object. Not "is it new" but "is it good".

kalm james said...

TWEET, first down for closeuup!!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting, I wonder why we can't see past the clunky exterior. I've grown to like this more and more coming back each time to talk with you folks in this break time. The problems that stuck out for me in the beginning have kind of receded quite a bit.
I'm going to kick a ball to the other end of the holiday, or kick it around, something like that.
Enjoy yours.

Cooky Blaha said...

I think the football metaphor is a rather defeatist attitude. I can see it in relation to the last century, but in the context of the last 1000 years, I really dont think we're just kicking the ball back and forth. I always love "good", but innovation in ways of seeing is always thrilling

epilepticadam said...

i agree cooky,

Decay Image said...

"good" requires some kind of consensus, which I assure you we do not have. That's been my whole point. You can like this painting pretty much only in the context of received notions of quality that come from the 50's. Good in art really is about how an artwork challenges those notions. It's not so much about innovations in ways of seeing, but in ways of thinking. (which of course does not have to be verbal).

I see art history more like a game where the rules change pretty much as soon as everyone starts to agree on what they are.

closeuup said...

Sure, there is no consensus, thats what i meant by "what if my context is not your context" but good requires no consensus. its my call, based on my notions of quality, arrived at over a lifetime of my own experience. my taste, my context. sorry to be so confident, but what else is there?

Artists make art. art historians make art history. i dont always buy into history myself. Not a misreading, just a disbelieving.

Lots of people do the wrong thing for the right reason. I like to think about those people. Subcultural history?

zipthwung said...

We are here now at the corner of Chablis and Reisling - thats chablis road, not avenue. Roll your window down and listen.

Ok good. Now roll your window up and make a left. You should see Applebees. Park your car in their lot and go inside.

Order every tenth thing on the drink menu. If they resist, tell them you are expecting a large party and that you are all going to see a movie. Say its a "romantic comedy". Say its your first date in years. Tell them your date is sexually unappealing to you and you hate movies. They will understand.

Drink the drinks.

Get back in your car and drive in reverse to the next applebees.

Roll your window down and listen.

Go into the Target and buy a bow and arrow.

Go outside and try to hit the Target target.

If at any point you hear a rising and falling pitched tone, not unlike a doppler effect, leave the restaurant and go to barnes and noble.

Order an iced quadruple tall mocachino with three syrups. Ask for extra whipped cream. Ask if they have fresh biscotti. Ask for a cup of ice.

Ask someone at a table if its ok to sit down. Tell them how nice they are. Sit down anyway. Offer them "your extra ice" sneer at them if they decline. Tell them ice doesnt grow on trees. Criticize their posture.

Buy a new york times paper. Throw away everything but the sports section. Circle your favorite horse names.

Tell someone nearby your last mname is your favorite horse name. Tell them you changed it because the world is absurd and existence is futile.

Do it now.

zipthwung said...

Re: Sports metaphors.

"So maybe we should stop pestering art to be some utopian undertaking, some zone for alternative thoughts and forms, and just enjoy it for the high-energy, no-impact game of trivial pursuit it has become."


My parents arent even into scrabble anymore. Man those were some times.

zipthwung said...

take the quiz

zipthwung said...

Halleluja! I want the Left Behind video game. Maybe Ill wait until its on sale though.

The LEFT BEHIND SERIES begins with the sudden disappearance of billions of people, creating chaos for the people on earth who are "left behind." The remaining society is confronted by total chaos resulting from earthquakes, and other unimaginable disasters. These dynamic apocalyptic thrillers have captured the imagination of millions and have become a worldwide fast-selling fiction series. The LEFT BEHIND novels are currently available in more than 30 languages. According to Tyndale, the authors, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, plan to release a total of 14 volumes.

Decay Image said...

Well closeuup, the problem with your approach is that there is no room for discussion. If looking at art is a matter of "I like what is good and good is what I like" then what's the point of writing about it? The fun of discussion is for people to sketch out their particular contexts and criteria and state their reasons for their opinions. I think what can be done here is for all of us to broaden our points of view. Add information, introduce different ways of thinking, come up with new interpretations or associations that we haven't thought about. I am more than willing to re-think my opinions based on new approaches I haven't encountered before, but I don't think that has happened here. Certainly claims that I should consider something because it's "good" is not very persuasive even if you happen to be Plato.

Decay Image said...

oh Zip, I also read that fatuous Holland Cotter quote yesterday. Maybe "he" should stop pestering art, or at least stop pestering the art viewing public with his pedantic hectoring. Art does just fine, it's the people I have such a problem with.

I only scored 90 on the mythology quiz, I foolishly associated the lightning bolt with the Flash's logo and so I thought it was Mars' symbol and not Zeus'.

Um you forgot to say what happens if you don't hear the rising and falling pitched tone while shooting at the Target's target. I was wearing my ipod at the time and it was turned up a bit high, I'm afraid, probably due to all of those applebee martinis…Anyway it turns out "Zipthwung told me to" is not a very good legal defense.

closeuup said...

DeKay--There is total room for discussion with "My approach" . You want an arguement, which Im not here to provide. I think I described what I liked about this painting, it just didnt have exclusively to do with art history. For me, looking at art is mostly a matter of "does it speak to me?" thats what makes it good.

You keep saying you want the painting to convince you of something you dont already know. But isnt that impossible? Plus you keep falling for little fusions or bad ideas dressed up in new combinations, like John Currin. I just see nothing new there.

Zips been mocking suburbia all week. Wheres the challenge? Is he telling you something you dont already know? I dont know much about suburbia. I was born in a city and I rarely go to suburbia. They have Applebees and Target and Coscto but basically the people are the same as you and me and osama bin laden. Thats what I know - am I mistaken?

no-where-man said...

CU and what i ment with my response another AS is when you know the "context" of the photos as Cooky Blaha did with santa and i am sure more then i do with the second the 2nd homophobic toe sucking model so much more comes into play and its there like it or not! and thats a Subcultural history of a different colour!:)

Happy Wahrolidayz everyone! and extra specially to painter!

zipthwung said...

Speaking of art and morality (the only argument worth making)- im for total transparency after an intitial night of mud wrestling and fire ant intitiation. Its what the skull and bones do.

Im a big fan of the proctor and gamble satanic sign conspiracy, as an aside.

Im also for a regional type provincialism that eschews the ubiquity of suburbia and its economies of scale.

In effect I am saying that this painting is and isnt ubiquitous - and that art fairs contribute to ubiquity in a bad way.

On the other hand without diplomacy you create demonization, which is the result of ignorance combined with imaginative prejudices.

So I propose a hostage system like in the middle ages.

I was reading about how Frieze was actually a scam to inject new life in a flagging art market - sort of the equivalent of turning your town into a "Christmass year round" theme park.

I was also noticing lots of variations on the toilet of venus from titian to velasquez and so on. Yo, Adrian, I got another movie....review....based on another movie review....

In conclusion - Ill take darwin over a malthusian nightmare - and I'll take greek mythology over a one true god.
i scored like 80 something on the quizz. Its been a while since I paid attention.

closeuup said...

this painting has a rough beauty that appeals to me. i think jackie humphries could re-do this painting in silver with tape instead of black lines and sloppier brushstrokes--and hit the zeitgeist. I love it when people hit the zeitgeist

poppy said...

Merry Christmas Everyone

zipthwung said...

I just saw the movie Spanglish. It was intense. The kid gets into Princeton - but it takes the whole movie to find out.

Speaking of Princeton - Walter Kim writes in the New York times magazine that:

"The North Pole is really Target",

which reminds me of the movie "Miracle on 34th Street" which reminds us all that product placement and branding can be entertaining.

Walter grew up in the home state of the venerable or "eminence grise" Target Corporation, BTW.

Anhoo, he conflates Xmass with art "the lie that tells the truth".

But in the closing paragraph he performs a hegelian synthesis by telling his young son that santa shops at Target.

Thats why I like abstraction I guess.

zipthwung said...

Modern business uses a different language to discuss the same ideas. In “The Long Tail”, an analysis of the impact of the internet on the music industry, with wider ramifications, Chris Anderson describes the “shattering of the mainstream into a zillion different cultural shards”. The post-modern “fragment” becomes a “niche” and the mass market is “turning into a mass of niches”. “When mass culture breaks apart,” he writes, “it doesn't re-form into a different mass. Instead, it turns into millions of microcultures which coexist and interact in a baffling array of ways.” That is a good description of what post-modernists were trying to achieve, and pretty much what a shop like Selfridges actually aspires to look like.


im putting on my tinfoil hat.

cathy said...

Since there haven't been any posts lately.

dotor kunst said...

With no disrespect to the current postee, as the New Year is close approaching, would anyone hazard a brief list of their favorite shows and why for the 2006 season? Top 10 or Desert Island 5, even the worst. Any thoughts?

exu said...

3 and a half men-don't have cable

zipthwung said...

Off the top (I missed some stuff but c'est la vie):

Jonathan Meese @ Amalia Dyan -Carnivalesque.

Elsworth Kelley @Mathew Marks
-They left the load bearing pillar in the middle round, and everything else was square.

Sonic YOuth @ Union Pool. The sunset off the new hi-risers from the 6' below was awesome. I had some absynth - dont know what its supposed to do but it was eighty proof. Fuck the lineup - the last three songs were great.

You Tube and all the other video servers running off of flash streaming technology. Faves include Yacht ROck (really smooth man) and the dude that edited himself into a drum solo.

Kosuth anywhere I read him. Because as Borges says, "I cant get enough of indexical cross reference". What happens when everything is everything else? As my soup says, "No Exit".
I like Letraset.

The Northern Lights. Yep. I saw them.
Live at 33 thousand feet.

The Storm of 2006. I was there. Everything blacked out, stars, trees down. Beautifull chaos.

Al hansen @ Andrea ROsen - Cus Im a loser baby, and it was touching to see the connected amatuerish bit heartfelt performance. I mean art is about life and masking tape, and not being Beck.

The tree the fell that I didn't hear, but nonetheless, made a sound.

David Smith at Gugg. cuz I saw the early stuff. Rauschenberg at Met cuz i heard some lady try to explain it to their kid. Munch at Met cuz of the tuberculosis baby.

closeuup said...

you may look like beck but are you clear?

closeuup said...

you may look like beck but are you clear?

Anonymous said...

When I think of nineties relevance...of cultural markers, I think of manic bloggers. String a poetic sentence...again, again, again...and send it out to the lonely...could you please, make it more urgent, high calorie, piss filled. Devil's Haircut intro...wake up shake the prescription cocktail out of your mediocrity anger and realize...Baby your a lost cause...Masking Tape...smell it...buy it...tape stuff down with it.

zipthwung said...

I saw some al hansen video - did you know he was a fighter pilot in WW2? So that contextualizes his interventions and certainly informs his iconoclasm.

I think that is as relevant a marker, somatic or otherwise, as the other ones I've raised with regards to this kind of work and belief in its intellectual or metaphysical aura.

Postmodern fragmentation of the marketplace and de/re/contextualization of (mythic) story structures (selling scripts if you want to be cynical/sell something), loss of originality/authorship/parallel development - are these part of the xzeitgeist for people? I wonder- I dont know -but I guess no one cares or its been chewed too well to address (I know I get bored).

I agree with cooky that innovation in ways of seeing is thrilling, and yet I dont think thats a function of culture so much as age at this point. And I wonder if Cooky is just some John Berger zombie, thumbing endlesly through the pictures of women draped over cars and odilesques coyly or not so coyly being meat puppeted by patriarchal pervs.

One can imagine collectors salvitating with their droogs for some more amphetamine fortified warm milk and looking for the next tepid bit of non-violence.

I agree with closeuup that the game is pretty well defined - the playbook dogeared. It can change, but like most playing fields, its a game to be played to keep the turf soft, most of the time. Evolution not revolution. We are worms in the feet of giants.

To dismiss this painting, though, as third generation ab straction is to give up the critical game. I will not. Obsession be damned. It is interesting because I will it so. I forget history because I am making new history. Or trying to make a buck.

I am an opperating thetan, and I was born that way. My pops knew someone that spent six figures on scientology - its for profit, dont kid yourself. SO I dont know sometimes I feel like Im playing dodge ball when its really tether ball. Or four square when its really hopscotch. But isnt that what most geniuses do?

One wonders if al hansen was making art for history. My guess is not s'much. And yet I find his work heavyier than much that professes to be deep.

Rationality - the enlightenment project, as adorno and Horkheimer said, is a bogus trip to jail sometimes - and yet its still a most excellent adventure.

The names that make change are the songs that remain.

Becks brother channing loved his palm pilot.

I saw "the protocols of zion" book and "The Landmark Forums" brochures at a prominent investment bank, on separate occasions. Look em up, its good fun.

Trust no one. This is not a message. You did not see this.

closeuup said...

My favorite show this year is right here...painternyc. Thyme Magazine Show of the Year...You!

This seems like a really interesting show. Crystals and utopia and you did it without even knowing it. Pedagogy...did it make you see things in a different way?

"Kindergarten was created by Friedrich Froebel in the 1830s and grew to become what is now one of the most familiar shared milestones throughout the world. Froebel's kindergarten involved play with so-called "gifts," a series of educational toys, including building blocks, parquetry tiles, origami papers, modeling clay, sewing kits and other design projects, intended to foster curiosity and teach young children about art, design, mathematics and the natural world.

The exhibition has been co-curated by Institute For Figuring director Margaret Wertheim along with collector and Froebel scholar Norman Brosterman in association with Williamson Gallery director Stephen Nowlin."

closeuup said...

Best shows cont...
Richard Tuttle
Semina Culture

Cooky Blaha said...

berger sucks. this painting is too young

zipthwung said...


Age before swine!

I nominate the "BODIES" show even though I havent seen it except in the james bond movie. Was that product placement or just a cool locale? Its confusing.

My book says older artists get better prices, and that women get worse prices. I am floored.

no-where-man said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
no-where-man said...

- You Tube: (makes man of the Year Time)!
- Year of Andy: Gago & Barneys & A Documentry Film
- MoMA: DR 9 & No Restraint, Dada
- Deitch's Projects: YellowMan & 1081: The Studio of the Street and opening of new space
- Teams new space, & Cory
- Boeskys new space, Barnaby Furnas
- PS1: whole set of shows up now from Gold Standard to Music is a Better to National Projects (Charles Atlas!)
- Whitney: Ed Hopper, Full House: Views of the Whitneys Collection
- Met: Robert Raushenberg
- Shout out to Saatchi's site & its no censorship boards and free video hosting!
- Mary Boone, Hiding in the Light

kalm james said...

Hands down my fav was DADA at MoMA. There was so much great stuff it was like a stroll through art history.

Great painting shows: Alfred Jensen at Pace 22nd Street, Elizabeth Murray at Pace 25th Street, Tel R at Feuer, Keith Meyerson at Eller. Thanks closeuup for reminding me about Soutine at Cheim & Read.

Odds and Ends: Some one’s bumping up Alex Katz with a nice little retrospect of paintings from the 60’s at Pace 22nd Street and a couple of months latter another recap at the Jewish Museum.

The Downtown show at the Grey last January, everyone’s dead so it’s safe for rediscovery.

Art Fairs seem to be taking over the market with a hedge fund mentality. Now you get to buy art and show off to the crowds at the same time.

The real motive behind the Chelsea art boom, REAL-ESTATE. Unfortunately bigger galleries don’t necessarily make for better art.

Williamsburg has become totally irrelevant (except for real-estate investments).

Art Basel Miami is so rich that they can simply buy out any resistance from critics, publications or institutions.

Art blogs, do they have any influence? Does anybody really pay attention?

Happy 2007.

closeuup said...

from Oakland to Chelsea, this use of artists and galleries to increase the value of real estate is killing me. What can you do to bring down the value of their real estate? Sending NWM to upper east side openings is not enough! ;)Ideas? Buehler?

no-where-man said...

Alfred Jensen ruled so did the RR at Pace and i can't wait for Robert Irwin. Also throw in Nan Goldin @ Marks, Zwinners new space and the John McCracken.

tee-he love it CU... i was fine at Colette's (minus the chair)

The High line project & Rezoning will be quite a shift - i have seen models.. Art is resilient and will find its way. The question isn't where will the work be shown as much as does alot of it need to be.

The exodus of Williamsburg gallerys did set a tone for being a "Poor Mans Chelsea" and not a scene on to itself - but i do love my DIY gallery/studio/loft there yet we know it is a matter of time before we get turned out for condo's. I was just in a meeting where they were talking about the size of hte Christmas Bonus's on Wall Street this year. I hate to say it but think there is a one to one relationship wiht crazy speculative $ and the youth quake. You skratch my ...

closeuup said...

Turned out for condos -- thats what Im talkin about. Luckily Oakland is so damn funky, I dont think the gentrification is gonna hold. Power to the peeple.

zipthwung said...

"Williamsburg" is at least five stops of L line. There are galleries in weird parts of brooklyn. Not centralized but metastasized.

When it gets bad Ill move to montana and work nights at Wal Mart or wash dishes at a Casino. Custodian of culture. Night watchman of nihilism.

Man of fire.

I've seen the eyes of living dead.
It's the same game - survival.
The great mass play a waiting game.
Embalmed, crippled, dying in fear of pain.
All sense of freedom gone.

Black sun in a white world.
Like having a black sun in a white world.

I have a son,
His name is Eden.
It's his birthright,
Beyond estranged time.

Give me 69 years,
Another season in this hell.
It's all sex and death as far as I can tell.

Like Prometheus we are bound,
Chained to this rock of a brave new world,
Our godforsaken lot.
And I feel that's all we've ever needed to know,
'Til worlds end and the seas run cold.

Give me 69 years,
Another season in this hell.
There is sex and death
In mother nature's plans.

Like Prometheus we are bound,
Chained to this rock of a brave new world,
Our godforsaken lot.

Thousand Points of Light said...

For my $, best theories of gentrification come from Neil Smith at CUNY.

Only difference between now and the inception of his work on the subject is the speed of the cycle.

Artists are much more often than not pawns in the process. I have yet to live in a neighborhood that has not experienced the cycle.

The onslaught that NYC will see over the next 10 years will be breathtaking.

closeuup said...


no-where-man said...

but there are still a multitude of unique bars to hop varying from themed to live performance/music/video and often reasonably priced with in a short walk, one needs to expand there notion of Art.

zipthwung said...

This painting is angular marden. Probably both of them use a pendulum to "randomize" their compositions - a heuristic device. Work smarter not harder.

THe latest Harpers (Jan 2007) is good.

An article on pragmatism, which is dear to my heart, so dear in fact that I posted a link of some sort here.
Program my heart...

An TRUE story on an anarchist ambient sound collective. Im down with ambience. My fave ambience hands down is the electronic tambura tone generator. Weeeoooowwwwweeeeeoooooow.

I found a great book for ambient visuals - speaking of tropes - its like a recipe book for painting styles and compositions. only its not painting, just TROPES they use. YOu know, loops that fill space and time entraining thought patterns and inducing nirvana while losening purse strings.

SOmeone just maked a STYLEPEDIA for graphic design too, according to the NYT book review. Cleverer and Cleverer.

In the end though its who you can broadcast your glossolalic loggorea too. Thats why we clarify our butter, fatten up our ducks and age our wine and cheese.

zipthwung said...

"...When we are forty, other younger and stronger men will probably throw us in the wastebasket like useless manuscripts - we want it to happen!

They will come against us, our successors, will come from far away, from every quarter, dancing to the winged cadence of their first songs, flexing the hooked claws of predators, sniffing doglike at the academy doors the strong odor of our decaying minds, which already will have been promised to the literary catacombs.

But we won't be there . . . At last they'll find us - one winter's night - in open country, beneath a sad roof drummed by a monotonous rain. They'll see us crouched beside our trembling airplanes in the act of warming our hands at the poor little blaze that our books of today will give out when they take fire from the flight of our images.

They'll storm around us, panting with scorn and anguish, and all of them, exasperated by our proud daring, will hurtle to kill us, driven by hatred: the more implacable it is, the more their hearts will be drunk with love and admiration for us."

Filippo Thomas Marinetti
From "The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism," 1909

closeuup said...

cunts are still running the world

Anonymous said...

Hey zip before I head off to the alps to slide down one of them on that day to hit the sun, I have to inform that the composition isn't random. If this can't be seen, and as much as I love you, and appreciate your lone stranger braggart, one finally must climb the question to stare down at the funny little point, that first stone we belatedly danced around before diving for the stem that late irrational night, to ask Why (?)
Why is liquid so liquid so liquid that its spill splashing from one cup to the other lip laps the the stone round smooth?

George said...

Art writing...
Like Orwell’s Newspeak, art bollocks is variously used in a knowing way, as an in-joke, a private language, a posture, or maybe out of fear – to maintain some questionable status among equally questionable peers.

I saw the Thorton Willis paintings last week. Within the context Willis has chosen to work, they’re well resolved, directly painted, and tough. Thorton’s been at it for awhile, one would expect his roots to run deep and not wandering on the surface of the moment. He has a set of painting issues which interest him, so he explores them, that’s what happens with time.

I also saw a couple of Chris Martin’s paintings in a group show, they looked tough and good to me too. I also liked Tal R’s show at Feuer but didn’t care for the hodge podge installation elsewhere.

Happy New Year

zipthwung said...

My other guess was that marden uses various hiking trails like the situationists psychogeography, and that this was some sort of vector analysis of the african vs the european swallow.

Its a hard knock life.
Tough like a black diamond.

kalm james said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kalm james said...

Let's not forget Gorchov at PS1. George, you're singing to the choir.

Hope to spend some time with Thornton this New Year’s Eve.

epilepticadam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
epilepticadam said...

any recommendations for digital cameras and lighting for photographing paintings?

George said...


More megapixels is better, at least 5 preferably 8. The amount of detail that can be resolved will probably be more dependant on the size of the image in pixels than by the sharpness of the lens.

Spherical distortion, the bowing out effect on the edges of a painting, can be reduced if you don’t fill the full frame (it decreases moving towards the center) This would mean that with a 8mb camera, you could leave more white space around the edges, reducing some of the distortion, but still have enough pixels for good detail.

Most better cameras allow you to adjust the white point within the camera, so blue lights aren’t necessary. Try to put as much light on the painting as you can but use all the same type of light bulbs. Digital cameras do not seem to have as wide a dynamic range (tones from black to white) as film, and tend to be noisy (i.e. lose detail) in the dark areas without enough light

In Photoshop, you can correct for slightly uneven lighting (typically brighter at the top) but it’s a trick to color correct two different types of light sources (warm and cool for instance) Follow the camera instructions for setting the white point.

If the camera allows you to set the ‘color space’ and offers Adobe RGB, use that over sRGB. I haven’t used the RAW mode, so I cannot comment on that, but I did find that there is not much visible difference between TIFF and high quality JPEG output.

Anonymous said...

JPEG is preferable for cross platform viewing

George said...

That's true for final viewing. Since he mentioned Photoshop I assumed it was available to use to work on the camera files.

If that is the case the original file should be archived out in a tiff or Photoshpop format. If you work on a file (color adjust etc) and keep resaving it as a jpeg, it will degrade the image quality a bit, the jpeg artifacts pile up on each other. You can save the file as a .tiff using LZW compression, since it's a lossless compression it doesn't introduce any new artifacts like repeated saving in the jpeg format will.

Anonymous said...


George said...

More or less what I said. I worked in the digital imaging software industry for 8 years during its infancy. I know a little bit about the subject but less about the cameras because the technology has developed so rapidly.

operation enduring artist said...

does anybody have experience with the RAW? i noticed that my camera does not have the tiff option...but it does have jpeg and raw. ok, george, am i hearing you right? you can save a jpeg file as a tiff and then all is well, no more deterioration? or am i making all of this up?

tis the season for documentation, if you know what i mean.

cha said...

Any suggestions for an easy to use camera ...that will give good results?

So far I get better pics from a throwaway cheap one, than from my digital camera! As already mentioned... difference in color top and bottom of painting.. flash shows ...etc.

Anonymous said...

And ""Into Me/ Out of Me" PS1 to my list of 2006.

Ive worked for the past 5 in a Digital Media dept. - and i try to stay away from cosmetics like retouching. if your not a pro i find it often does more damage then good.
Understanding Raw Files

George said...

Yes. Most cameras normally save the files in a high quality jpeg format. There are some artifacts introduced by the compression but I've done some tests in Photoshop and, like the article NWMan posted, they are more or less trivial.

My camera only saves out in jpeg or tiff, so I don't have any experience with the RAW format. I think you need to open the files in an application like Photoshop in order to work with them.

JPEG uses a wavelet compression that is sensitive to high contrast edges in the image data and introduces some noise in the transitional areas. Make a black line on a white background, save it as a jpeg and compare the saved file with the original to see what I mean. The artifacts will be really noticeable in graphic files, less so in more photographic images which tend to have a different texture.

The key points are
a. Always archive the original camera file, burn them to a CD or something.

b. Do any color adjustment, cropping etc on a copy of the camera file not the original.

c. Save the working file using the tiff or Photoshop file format. If you use layers in Photoshop, it will automatically suggest the Photoshop format. The two formats (psd, tif) keep the file in its original state. Tiff with LZW compression reduces the disk size but doesn’t alter the image data.

d. Do any correction work on the image at its full size, don’t scale it down first if you need a smaller file for the final output.

I prefer to use layers in Photoshop for color correction because you can change your mind, turn off or delete the layer or try it two different ways with two similar layers. I’ve often found that a file I liked at midnight, looked different the next morning. Your eyes get zoned in on the colorspace of the monitor and after a break they readjust, things look different and Layers make it easy to readjust.

Finally, after you have what you want,

a. Save the final working file so you don’t lose your last changes.
b. Flatten the image and scale it if necessary.
c. Use the Save As and select jpeg
... Or better, use the Save For the Web command to save the file as a jpeg.
... the Save for the Web choice has an option for scaling and allows you to see the differences in the various jpeg settings. For the web 40-50 quality is fine, it’s nearly indistinguishable visually from Maximum and the files are smaller. If the files are going on a CD for presentation, use Maximum since there’s no download penalty.

When I’m done I end up with a lot of files
1. The unaltered camera file (so I can always go back to the original data)
2. The ‘working file’ which is usually in photoshop format
3. The presentation files, saved as JPEGs and sized

Another thing to think about is naming the files.
What I do now is use a name that has the camera file record number in it,
like NewYearsEve-00567.jpeg (psd, tiff..)

If I have working states that I save out separately I use something like NewYearsEve-s1-00567.psd.

This way they show up easily (alphabetically) in the file record and you can search either on the name or the camera file number to find the files which eventually can get scattered all over your hard drive. This seems trivial now, but if you end up dealing with 100-200 image files, having an organized naming convention will be well worth it.

George said...


That was an interesting article on the RAW format. The difference between 8 and 14-16 bit color space could make a big difference in the final output if one knew what they were doing when making the adjustments. Probably most people wouldn't notice the difference so jpeg is fine. I suspect that in photos of paintings it might make a big difference.

epilepticadam said...

thanks george and everyone,

i am in the process of shopping for a new camera and know how to take slides well; when applying that info to digital i had a bit of a problem with not having adjusted the white balance in my camera.

my only confusion now, is that i get quite sharp results with a 5mb(my old camera); i am just curious as to how an 8 mb would look. my camera is now about 4 years old and is considered antiquated (i had noticed that the following year i purchased it).

what camera do you recommend that is not overdoing it on the gadgetry/cost?


epilepticadam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
George said...


http://www.dpreview.com is one of the better review sites for digital cameras. They have information, specifications and sample pictures (at full camera size) for most of the recent cameras. Use the "Buyers Guide" link on the left side of the webpage. You can enter in a number of choices, price, pixels format etc and then it will give you a nice search result for comparison.

I don't have any recomendations because I haven't been looking at cameras recently. But for under a $1000 you can get a good 8-10 megapixel camera.
An image from a 10 megapixel camera is 3872 x 2592 pixels
with the overall image area about 1.5x bigger.

epilepticadam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
epilepticadam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
epilepticadam said...

thank you george,
and thanks nwm,
operation enduring artist:

i am a firm believer in the RAW file now. i did some tests having already created a satisfying TIF file. then i did the RAW test, a feature i never bothered to use. with my old non-SLR 5megapixel camera and shooting an over 4 foot painting lit by 4 lamps properly( a bit tricky with a 5M and a nonSLR- as to not get the bowing at the edges), i got results i didn't realize i could achieve. i barely touched anything up at all.

i still plan on getting an 8mp camera. through some research the SLRCanon RebelXT 350D's body ($509)seems to be the best deal for what i want. i plan on getting the 50mm lens($70) and not the one that is offered with the camera. this fixed lens is more refined/better quality than the 18-55 offered for many reasons...


Decay Image said...

I preface these tips, with the idea that no matter how good your jpegs are, it is simply not the painting. But even 4x5 transparencies aren't either, and people used to look at them by holding them up to the light. Really, the main thing is that they should look good on the computer, and make people want to see the original.
For anyone who is still interested, here is how I deal with the bowing at the edges problem (in photoshop):
1. crop to the widest points. select all(cmd A), and then hide selection. (cmd H).
2.edit>transform>distort, so now you have a rectangular marquee with handles at four corners. Marquee magnify one of the corners, and carefully move the handle at the corner so the corner of the painting aligns with the corner of the image. repeat at other corners.
Obviously this will produce (in theory) a very slight distortion of the painting, but if framed carefully in the original shot, and performed carefully in the adjustment, I don't find it noticeable.

I use an antiquated but reliable 4mp canon s45. Canon seems to be the agreed upon standard for color. Even with white point adjustment I still seem to get an image in photoshop that is not color correct (usually too dark) which after many trials I have seemed to be able to correct quite well with the color balance adjustment (uncheck keep luminosity, and color correct in the highlights mode first, and balance for the white space around the painting). This correction seems to be approximately similar for all of my paintings.

closeuup said...

It justs sex and violence melody and silence

MyFriendSamSays said...

I know it's two years later to be writing a comment on this blog...

But the funny thing is...my family has originals of Willis and it's so different from what he does today compared to the 80s...



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