Alfred Jensen


Painter said...

Alfred Jensen @
David Zwirner
525 West 19th Street
New York, NY 10011

milf-magic said...


Urban said...


White_Shipping_Container said...

Umm...um...ummmm...like art is like...ummm...writing things with paint and like umm...colors...

White_Shipping_Container said...

Oh yeah, third and fourth, motherfuckers!!

Zipthwung said...

Ok. Get ready, bitches! I'm a-gonna start googling and cutting and pasting shit on this muthafucka now! I am gonna blow your minds with my web savvy lusciousness and, in the end, I'm just really insecure. I wish I didn't have to have a day job.


Zipthwung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zipthwung said...

So today has been kind of blah. I figured that I would either jerk the chicken or do some art-shit, but I can't seem to muster the energy required to do either. So I think that I'll just sit in front of the computer, do a few lines, and then look at some porn for the next few hours. Oh, and think about art.

Cross said...

Really nothing to say about this piece that has not already been written ON this piece. But... July 20, 1957, lets see, maybe this is a target for one of the cold war nukes that were pointed at each person then. Thats what artists do you know, we deflect all the attention to our work and from ourselves. "Throw your darts at that, not at me." "Oh, you like it? Hi, I'm the artist." Yes, it's a poor substitute for relating directly to people, but it seems safer somehow. A little circular and limiting...

Zipthwung said...

I'm not crazy about the red and yellow in the painting. I would have used more blues, cuz that's ho I usually feel.

No Rush said...

Tantric paintings-concentric circles

I see it like this:

Your inside is out and your outside is in
Your outside is in and your inside is out
So come on come on
Come on is such a joy
Come on is such a joy
Come on make it easy
Come on make it easy
Make it easy make it easy
Everybody's got something to hide except for me and
My monkey.

--Miss Lonelyhearts

No Rush said...

and painter never fails to amuse--he's from new jersey. do you do that on purpose?

milf-magic said...

painter and
sittin in a tree

poppy said...

Clean, now dirty...yessm..

zipthwung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anthony said...

Anybody else make the Pettibon connection? Right down to the semi-obscure quote. I definitely have a spot in my heart for Nathaniel West. The man who gave us the sainted flea and Homer Simpson.

anthony said...

Actually, that's a downright obscure quote.

zipthwung said...

Hey fake zipthwung I like what I've seen of Alfred Jensen. Why pick on me now?

Here's hoping you get yours.

anthony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zipthwung said...

"So we'll live and pray and sing and tell old tales and laugh at gilded butterflies," which the catalogue strangely calls "a written reminder of mortality...from the death scene of King Lear." Wrong on both counts. It's from the "let's away to prison" speech, and marks Lear's breakthrough from vanity to wisdom—having insisted on status more and more futilely throughout the play, he now realizes he no longer wants it; he only wants to spend his days in obscurity with Cordelia whose loving heart he has, through suffering, at last learned to value. Jensen, already in his mid-fifties then, is saying that attention, adulation, don't matter as long as he can follow his own route, at his own speed, to self-identity, self-integration—and both these words are written on the canvas as well."


May Locusts swarm your eyes, Du. You can't push my buttons, because you don;t know what they are.

Old Guy said...

Fake Zipthwungs!

How low can this forum sink?

anthony said...

I once worked with a schizophrenic woman who became trapped in elaborate conversational loops which inevitably returned to and overlapped her two obsessions: film noir and theoretical math. She would also trap me in these loops. Since her logic was so internal and her conversation so earnest, she sounded to me almost visionary. When I would try to relate her notions to others the zeal or belief was missing, so the moments could not be shared in an authentic way.

Jensen's ideas remind me of those conversations.

Old Guy said...

I like the Pettibon connection. I didn't see it, but now it makes the Jensen a bit lighter, jauntier.

The mystical target/mandala still makes me think about a knitting pattern for a sleeveless sweater, but maybe that's too Pettibon.

Zipthwung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zipthwung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zipthwung said...

koel. voor zover ik kan vertellen, ben ik valse zipthwung nummer vier.

Idon'tbathe said...

Anybody know who painted a target first John's or Jenson ?

Zipthwung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zipthwung said...

Ok. A flaw in the blogspot.com system has allowed some dipshit to start posting from an account using the same name. I'm going to take the initiative and change my name to Königrückstände.

anthony said...

I would say that Jensen did not paint a target here, but more of a spectrum. He was fascinated by prisms. You are looking into a cone of light in his painting. So, Johns painted the target first.
Although for some reason this post has a target, for sure.

Idon'tbathe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Idon'tbathe said...

I like Jensen's work, he paints from such a strange place it's in your face sincere.
This one keeps making me think of toothpaste.
Anobody know when painters stoped putting latice around there canvases ? or why.
I never did cuz some wood nailed to the outside of my painting would change it after it was already done.

George said...

The most interesting thing about Jensen’s paintings is the painting, not the ideas.

Ideas in painting are fugitive, they are interesting one year, out of fashion the next. Jensen is a systemic painter, his ideas generate the systems he uses to make an abstract painting. In a sense they function like a still-life setup, or a landscape, anyone can use one, you don’t need to be ‘first’.

It is what is done with the ‘idea’ in its painting that ultimately matters. In this respect, Jensen succeeded compared the others who have tried a similar approach.

George said...

Another very interesting point to think about, Jensen was nearly sixty when he found the groove and started to achieve some success. The road between young hotshot and sixty is riddled with those who have dropped out.

no-where-man said...

i really enjoyed his recent number paintings show at pace...

his statements are worth the read interesting he should site.

- the edge of color as it is observed in a prism. Goethe wrote in Beitrage zur Optik, 1791, paragraph 33:

The prism as an instrument, was looked upon with submissive awe and humility in the Eastern lands; so that the Chinese emperor gave himself the right to be the unique owner, as he insisted, by divine right of Majesty, to behold these beautiful appearances for himself alone. We in all ages from youth to old age look with wonder on the prismatic instrument because upon its use depends most of the color theories: therefore, to begin the study of color we must concentrate on this object

no-where-man said...


no-where-man said...

the marketplace rule

Anonymous said...

George I think all the side ideas are central to a Jensen no matter how wacky you think they are. In fact I don't think they are wacky at all. Just not what we consider to be central to art-making, though if we ran a few numbers through i think we could find that there is this central arrangement;)
The colors in this are really nice. It breathes.

George said...

The ideas, systems and structures are central to Jensen’s paintings, they facilitated their making. We are fifty years away from the original inception of these works, it is difficult to imaging what resolve was required on Jensen’s part to bring these paintings into existence.

Most aesthetic ‘ideas’ are fugitive over time, their original meanings are lost or distorted and replaced by convenient tags through repetition. We apply judgements, interpretations, and assignments of meaning, based upon our viewing point in the present, a view point which has the advantage of an additional 50 years of history. As time goes on, these original ideas become blurred under history’s selective memory and we are left with the object, the painting, it cuts it, or it doesn’t.

Most painting being made today, loaded and fashioned with the ‘ideas’ their creators are currently so sure about, will be brushed aside in next years wave of new thinking, and ultimately forgotten. Making a painting that will endure, requires a special gift and commitment that I believe Jensen had.

anthony said...

I hear you George, but...Even though we are viewing Jensen's work in the present context, we are given the benefit of his insistence to actually write his ideas on the canvas. I think he was trying to be as direct as possible. I realize not all of his paintings received this same treatment.
The prettiness, the abstract patterns seem like pleasant extras.
This work, like other work I associate with it, seems to hold it's own by benefit of it's original context. The work here looks fresher than 1957-I don't feel the need to stick it in a timeline as a historical hiccup or find a place for it in the current art instance.

Idon'tbathe said...

He got his groove at sixty and achieved some success.... you equate groove with what type of success ? I'll assume you mean recognition.
It's possible that Jenson felt he was getting his groove on at 25 or 33 we really don't know do we.
I'm saying an artist may know they have found there groove but it doesn't mean anyone will care.

George said...


It was late. I don’t know much about Jensen’s early years, but he was part of a larger art community. What we do know is that in his late fifties, he found a means of working which gave him a voice that was his own and not someone else’s. This stylistic shift gave rise to a fairly large body of work and a degree of public recognition. He was respected by his peers.

Looking at his life as an artist, it presents one possible model. Regardless of what he may have thought about his paintings when he was thirty, it took another thirty years of dedicated work before he began to achieved recognition. This is a very difficult career path that most give up on after the first few years of hardship. The fact that Jensen stuck it out says a lot about his dedication, I respect that greatly.

An artist who thinks they have found the groove and finds no one cares, hasn’t found the groove.

zipthwung said...

"An artist who thinks they have found the groove and finds no one cares, hasn’t found the groove."

In fifteen minutes everyone will be famous to fifteen people for fifteen seconds.

Then someone will put a space in fron t of your name and post as you.
No one will care and it will be a cyber tragedy.

Cooky Blaha said...

Ideas may be transient, and irrelevant to future generations; however in the majority of art with staying power, the aesthetics and visual power of the work are grounded by conceptual origins, however meaningless and unfashionable they may become. This holds as true for cimabue, bosch and holbien as it does for jensen, warhol and richter. Even the idea of "painting with no idea" is a concept in and of itself, and one that is shaped by its particular milieu and point in time.
I acknowledge this statement is riddled with holes but I'm not gonna write a thesis right now.

zipthwung said...

I got this offa post at WInkleman;s blog, its AWESOME in its clarity and relates to George's assertion (facetious I hope) that soemthing has to be popular in order to be marketable:

"The simple truth that modern weapons now mean a nation must practice genocide or commit suicide. Israel provides the perfect example. If the Israelis do not raze Iran, the Iranians will fulfill their boast and wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Yet Israel is not popular, and so is denied permission to defend itself. In the same vein, President Bush cannot do what is necessary for the survival of Americans. He cannot use the nation's powerful weapons. All he can do is try and discover a result that will be popular with Americans.


Family Security Matters...

zipthwung said...

Xylor jane has some trippy shit. I thought she was coming from the same place kind of.

What does "a 20 year study of Goethe's color theory" really mean in jensen's case?

20 year study? Really? I cant even stay on task for 20 minutes.

zipthwung said...

Goethe was both a writer and a scientist. His 1,400-page treatise on color was published in 1810. According to Goethe:

“That I am the only person in this century who has the right insight into the difficult science of colors, that is what I am rather proud of, and that is what gives me the feeling that I have outstripped many.”

Crazy Germans.

No Rush said...

to george: why do you think that "50 additional years of history" is an advantage?

Xylor and alfred are an interesting match. personally I think math is murder. Why are some people drawn to systems, and others resent them? what do systems offer? How much order do you need. I have a high tolerance for chaos.

I do like plaid tho.

Thing that is interesting about jane & al is that they use their "hand" in conjunction with the math/system. Jane has even drawn the same grid with varying degrees of control. Al doesnt make his circles perfect, he slabs on the paint with a knife (who said pretty? I wouldnt call these pretty--in form or color)

So they are putting opposite things together--and thats what gives their work power.

zipthwung said...

No they are not pretty. People call it :arty" when you show the hand too much - but its no more or les arty than anything else - more about how much attention you call to it - like in writing when your artifice becomes the art (hello mr narrator).

I thought it would be nice to make apainting about the terror levels because they are color coded - but in NY its been orange so it wouldnt be very exciting (terror orange).

Louder than bombs.

George said...


I’m trying to make a case for no ideas, to the contrary it is the ‘idea’ which often facilitates the painting coming into existence. However, over time these ideas become blurred and the painting must stand on something else. This is where Jensen pulls it off, his paintings have an insistent presence as a painting, even if/when we do not like them.

No Rush said...

artist's handwriting including xylor.

I get a lot out of handwriting

George said...

No Rush,

why do you think that "50 additional years of history" is an advantage?

Distance. The fact we are even looking at Jensen's work is because it has been filtered by the culture. Further, when we look at his work, we are bringing to it the knowledge and history of the interceding fifty years.

For example, take Zahn’s piece in the preceding post. Everybody seems to have an opinion, one way or the other, but no one suggested it was an important work. Maybe it isn’t, but maybe it is and no one gets it, in four or five years we will know better, distance.

No Rush said...

So we supposedly know what history decided. So what? History is also rewritten constantly. History is a scam--like dentistyy and engineering. Viruses and earthquakes prove it. And actually paintings like this one prove it too.

apelles said...

"Maybe it isn’t, but maybe it is and no one gets it, in four or five years we will know better, distance."

Or maybe it isn't important, but a dozen years later, someone creates something similar, but his work becomes popular. Then some critic might say, "look at this other work which predated this current one. This older stuff must be important. Let's give him a retrospective."

Then this older work becomes "good" due to the distance of a dozen years. It happens sometimes.

apelles said...

We won't always "know better" because of distance.

It depends who's looking at the work.

zipthwung said...

I read someone call distance "patina" - the patina of age - a patina gives it a sort of lustre, a glow, an aura.

Well thats age fetishism isnt it? People look on in wonder as the toys of their youth sar suddenly deemed vintage collectibles.

Conservatives (neocons included) value history, or a version of it. Holding on to history dooms you to the karmic circle of pain - the repetitive edge. Lets not hold on to the past like that. Honor your ancestors by remembering how you felt about them, and keep that feeling alive in the hope that one day you can pass on, too.

otherwise you are a nihilist, pbt proxy or proof, and that road is the death road, and it is paved with skulls.

As I pave my road iwth skulls, I wonder, what could I put under them to make the road more level and easier to travel?

Crushed skulls.

George said...

Earlier I said I’m trying to make a case for no ideas...,
I meant that, I’m not trying to make a case for no ideas...

George said...


... but a dozen years later ...

In your example, the ‘someone’ who comes along is Zahn himself. In other words, whether or not this particular piece is important, depends on what Zahn does from here on out. Being ‘first’ is less an issue than the course finally charted.

zipthwung said...

I got that. Did you get my human history as buddhist lawnmower analogy? not really original but how many ways can you say history repeats itself? Maybe one. Oh truth, so truthfull.

old guy was misinterpeted at some point and then I responded to the misintrerpretation at face value, knowing full well what I was doing. My bad.

I .like to see myelf think - so does Baudrillard (who showed in a gallery so he is within shooting distance on the taxonomic range of artist)
I had this bookmarked for a while but I dont remember reading it till just now (so any influence was not conscious though surely all of you must be thinking the same thing?).
check it out:

What is this useless function good for in the end?
What does it deliver us from with its very uselessness?
Like politicians, who relieve us from the bothersome reonsibility of power, contemporary art, with its incoherent artifice, relieves us of the grasp of meaning through the spectacle of nonsense. This explains its proliferation: independent of any esthetic value, it is ensured of prospering in function of its insignificance and vanity. Just as p9oliticians persist depite the abscence of any representation or credibility.
Art and the art marrket therfore flourish to the extent that they decay: they are the modern charnel houses of culture and simulacra.

Well gosh thats something! he goes on to say something about art and life and how life is generally more interesting and doom and melancholy.

Which is what I think.

zipthwung said...

Also define crazy - because if artist are crazy, then the art must be crazy and if people who are sane buy art, what is it that they are buying?

Science, right?

Sane people do not read art criticism at face value, is what I'm saying.

milf-magic said...

dentistry is a scam? are you brittish, no rush?

Cross said...

art is a scam. it scams viewers into believing their own thoughts and doubting their own beliefs. very clever really. and necessary.

Edna said...

This is great.

Idon'tbathe said...

Jensen was a late bloomer, his work withstands the test of time and it's very respectable that he stuck it out until he found his own original voice. Pursuing a career as a fine artist is very difficult.
I get it.
Let me rephrase this:
An artist may KNOW (when you know you know.... you know ?) they have found there groove but it doesn't mean they will get recognition for there accomplishments.
If you have friends and family most likely they will care about the work your doing even if your work is crap.

milf-magic said...

Here's a topic:
Sometimes "crappy" art is BETTER than "good" art. Think about it...

zipthwung said...

8. I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.

All that glitters is not gold
yadda yadda yadda.

Anyone else into the long dark teatime of the soul?

Do not go gently into that good night.

Anonymous said...

Look up to the sky I care not why I will not lie there is an I in the grid. now that the clouds are sewn into rectangles the biulding blocks lay ahead as spirals sweeping gently lead

ah that's better. i think writing really good poetry first thing in the morning is good for the head.

Another one...
A cat sat there. He was not square thro had triangles for ears and nose. The cat was black that sat with triangle bits.

Another one...
Ahhh writer's cramp [got it]

A DVD played in the player. We could not see it go round. But surely it did.

That's it! Sometimes short is OK.

no rush it was me who called the colors pretty. I should have said 'pretty' in an oppositional sort of revolting 'icky' way. Where are words when you want them?
I think we can argue this painting because the language is there. I mean we know the language. [Ok Milf and bathe don't know it, but Um, now what was Alfred saying again?

Zipthwung said...

This is actually the writer that uses the tag Old Guy, just testing to see if he can access the tag Zipthwung by switching tags after previewing a comment (the links to my profile and account become available). I don’t have to change my account, all I have to do is ‘edit’ my profile with a new tag.

My apologies to the real and rightful Zipthwung.

Old Guy said...

Then you've got to remember to re-edit it back, of course.

anthony said...

Self identity. Self integration.

Idon'tbathe said...

Its not a poem , more of a tounge twister.

anthony said...

That's not my body
That's not my head
That's my pillow
That's my bed

No Rush said...

still the original unabomber.

the unaposer has the "profile not available" (or like with old guy-- unatester--he has his own)

apelles said...


i was thinking of someone like judith linhares. Her career has been kind of revived and now seems more "important" than it used to be. Why? Because Dana Schutz became huge, people started thinking, some critic decided that judith linhares started this style, and that she should be given some credit.

Regardless of whether her work is good or not, important or not, (i haven't seen much of her work to judge) because Dana Schutz's rise, judith linhares career seems to have become more "important."

do you get what i mean? revivals like this happen pretty frequently.

Unabomber said...

I have my social side.

no-where-man said...

Edna... heh.

old tricks new dog.. is anyone else freaked out about the turnover rate????

zipthwung said...

I wish I knew how to edit the cookie or token or whatever like everyone else.

Celebreality. Its part of my 20+ year study. Because hindsight is usually more entertaining. Doesn't everyone agree that for most people art is philosophical entertaninment?

The Two Coreys - or, simply, "The Coreys" - is a reference to two popular teen actors from the 1980s, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, who appeared in many films together - most notably, a number of successful teen-oriented films in the late 1980s. Feldman starred in Gremlins and The Goonies, while Haim starred in Silver Bullet and Lucas before being joined together in the movie The Lost Boys in 1987.

The Two Coreys is also a celebreality program on the A&E Network. After wrestling with personal demons ranging from substance abuse to obesity, Haim tries to put his life in order. [1] The premise is that Haim, unemployed, single, slightly overweight, and slovenly, moves in with Feldman and Feldman's wife, Susie Sprague (married by fellow celebreality star M.C. Hammer on a 2002 Surreal Life episode) in a threesome in the style of the film You, Me & Dupree. Although Haim concedes some plotlines were contrived, he's hoping for a payoff. Haim and Feldman are producers on the program. [2] The show began filming on December 4, 2006 and premiered on A&E on July 29, 2007.[3]

George said...


Your point about Linhares is valid, but I suspect it’s all a bit more complex than it appears on the surface.

What is ultimately considered good (or great, or important…)painting is often not something that many painters would agree to. It appears to me that what makes something ‘stick’ as art involves a symbiosis between the artist and the culture. In my opinion the culture needs a certain kind of art at a certain time and elevates it in importance and considers it ‘good’. This notion flies in the face of the formalists who would like to suggest that ‘good’ is somehow a fixed aesthetic, I don’t think it is.

I think Schutz’s paintings came along at the right time and filled a cultural need, hence they were deemed important. I suspect the same paintings would have been less successful 20 years ago. This shouldn’t be construed as taking anything away from Dana’s achievement, she’s an interesting painter. Good timing and a bit of luck are always helpful.

All of this points towards a couple of issues I think one has to deal with as a painter. One we just covered, which is timing, whether or not ones personal vision is in sync with the culture (as manifested in the marketplace, ugh). The second one is ambition, whether or not one cares about public success and to what degree.

There are many artists who will settle for a teaching job somewhere, have a local show every couple of years and be happy (or bitch about it, as the case may be) Others, slog it out down in the trenches until they get a chance to make something happen.

I know Judith Linhares, she is ambitions, she works hard and hustled hard. Whatever opportunity was opened by Dana Schutz, had nobody’s name written on it, Judith was there to take advantage of a break.

So yes, opportunities come in mysterious ways, but someone has to be there to take advantage of them.

zipthwung said...

I don't think DS came along, I think god put her there. Thats a fact.

God works in mysterious ways, and thats one of them.


George said...

shit happens

zipthwung said...

also, what is resonance, as compared to dissonance as in "that painting really resonated with the zeitgeist?" or "I felt dissonant, the energy was really evil".

Also, whats the frequency, kenneth?

zipthwung said...

i can dig that george, shit does indeed happen.

No Rush said...

In my tiny universe, the Bad Painting show was one of the all time most important exhibitions in art history. So those folks JL, Joan Brown or people like Robert Colescott are the progenitors. They are the successful.

But It takes the artworld so long to catch up--so Dana Shutz reaps the monetary rewards. Like Green Day did with Punk.

Old Guy said...

But Green Day are not really the same thing as The Ramones.

To still call it Punk stretches the definition beyond usefulness.

The same thing happens in the art world.

George said...

no rush,

There are always ‘progenitors’ and Shutz was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. In the last five years, the art world has experienced an unprecedented expansion unlike anything seen in the 20th century. It is not something that will happen again in our lifetimes. Everyone should count their blessings.

Anonymous said...

hmmm, I like green day. is that bad?

I'm getting a bit confused here. So how does DS and JL fit? Is someone painting thinking like Jensen now?

Old Guy said...

When people want to re-think abstraction and particularly it's American history, they cast around for peripheral figures like Jensen.

They're the abstraction that didn't lead to Minimalism, the strange tangents now worth tracing.

Sometimes Jensen looks like a complete outsider, then again later stuff especially can look uncannily prescient.

In this one the contrast between the text and the circles is the most interesting part. The text was obviously added afterwards – it doesn’t fit into neat little compartments, as it might have, if designed to go with the circles. They’re an afterthought, and yet they are confined to the white areas. Apart from their literary allusions (noted above) I think they also say something about the status of white in his colour scheme.

Black and white welcomes text – colour and even just outline is the Other thing, a bigger scheme. There’s also the notable contrast between the spindly, flourishing line of the handwriting and the great lumpen circles. That strikes me as interesting, and expressive of his attitude, his certainty and nonchalance.

The whole thing of just writing on top of (as opposed to in with) a design, displays a weird ambivalence. It’s not exactly Dada, but it strikes me as kind of Beat, definitely belongs in the 50s somehow. Might look more at home in San Francisco or at least alongside Wallace Berman.

On the outsider thing I was also reminded a bit of a New Zealand artist called Colin McCahon –


also noted for his use of texts as paintings.

apelles said...

george said: "This notion flies in the face of the formalists who would like to suggest that ‘good’ is somehow a fixed aesthetic, I don’t think it is."

I don't think that formalists are the only group of people that think that "good" is a fixed aesthetic. I think a lot of other people who are knowledgeable about art, the people who actually think about art, or the cognoscenti of any given era would agree that what is "good" can be agreed upon to a certain extent.

There is a reason that Mondrian is more famous than Theo van Doesburg that doesn't have anything to do with ambition or society. It's because people see that Mondrian's work is simply better.

These people that judge Mondrian value him from a formalist point of view.

On the Zahn post, it was obvious that many people didn't think that the work shown here was very good. From what point of view were they judging the art? At least, for me, I might judge it on both a conceptual and formal point of view, and from those perspectives, I didn't think that this specific Zahn piece was very good. I think many others would agree, and I think many others would know almost 100% that they are correct about this judgement.

apelles said...

I just reread my post and it sounds insulting when I say: "...the people who actually think about art."

I don't mean to imply that you don't think about art, I mean that some random person that doesn't think about art at all, or doesn't care for it, that person's opinion about some art he sees one day while walking down the street would carry very little weight compared to the opinion of that same work of a critic who has been studying art for his entire life.

Anyway, what makes you think that "good" or "quality" cannot be something fixed that is achievable by an artist?

apelles said...

I just reread your post and I am confused by what you mean by "fixed aesthetic."

If by that you mean that "good" is something that is achievable through a formulaic method, then I don't think that is what the formalists thought.

I think the formalists thought that "good" could be achieved, or decided on by people, but never something specifically labeled.

Old Guy said...

Well, who are we calling 'Formalists' exactly? (Apelles or George)

Can we nail down Formalism, for a start?

zipthwung said...

Greenday is power pop or pop punk.

One problem I have with the genre is the generic or affected vocals. Green Day's (Billy) fake english sneer is an appropriation of something in english punk. Well fuck Billy Idol has that rebel yell too.

It allways seemed false somehow.
When you listen to the music, you can tell it "lies" - its too controlled. Its overproduced. It lacks immediacy. these are things you can say about Rancid or the Offspring, Avril Lavigne (moreso), Blink 182 (or any of the other sheep bands with numbers) and before that even any of the bands with box in their names (in the wake of grunge).

Still not convinced?

In 1995, Dookie won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album and the band was nominated for 9 MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year.[18]

Punk my ass. MTV music awards are about as punk as the US golf open. They are both largely white.

Pop is sugar. Its good to a point, like McDonalds (the dollar menu is one of the seven conveniences of the modern world).

But when you take work that has "it" well you have to have had "it" before you know what you are missing.

I know I like it. I need it.

I can tell when I get it. I know when Im there. Call me pretentious.

Turbonegro has IT (not all the time but often enough) and they are power pop.

Jensen has it but is putting something in the way of it to keep it from consuming him. I dont know why I feel this, but I know its flawed, so maybe Im giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying its a deliberate strategy, like feedback or poking holes in you amp with a pencil.

I know some people hate feedback, and I feel sorry for them, because sometimes it kicks ass.

Yeah, Turbonegro, fuckin' there man.

zipthwung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zipthwung said...

Billy Childish vs Alfred jensen.

Formalism is golden mean right proportion color theory stuff right?

I dont think any other definition is defensible.

zipthwung said...

Sincerity is the new honesty

Billy thinks "the good" is fixed.

Guess hes a formalist.

Check it out:


those crazy stuckists.

Anonymous said...

nail down formalism... well,
i think a piece that looks to only have formal value is dead. Mondrians work because he painted what he saw, and as he kept seeing he'd adjust things to see them more clearly, and as he saw things clearer a new sight would emerge. His rapture was in seeing things change before his eyes. And he'd capture that. Colin Mcm and Jensen's rapture needed text and numbers probably because painting couldn't move them fAR enough from the idea to actuality -- devout and a word spell impatience.

Zahn uses conceptual as well as visual stratagies so formailsm alone as an idea for deciding good is not going to pay too much...

apelles said...

zip said: "I can tell when I get it. I know when Im there. Call me pretentious."

I'm not a big punk fan because that was before my time, but let me ask you a hypothetical question.

First off, how many hours of music have you listened to in your entire life?

If a person came up to you and said: "I know for a fact that Matisse is the greatest painter of the 20th century."

And then a number popped up above his head that was the number of hours he'd spent looking at 20th century paintings in museums all over the world, and this number was the same as the number of hours you've listened to music in your entire life...

what would be your opinion about this person's statement?

zipthwung said...

You don't mean literally, that an actual ...

I'd ask him if he wanted a knuckle sandwich.
Check out this 24 year old

As Witgenstein said, punks not dead.

Idon'tbathe said...

If I had to pick an artist that I think has been influenced heavily by Jensen working today, it would probablly be Chris Martin. Xylor Jane not so much.

anthony said...

You let a few drips slip down the canvas, that's controlled feedback. You tighten up on the math but relax the delivery and you get a Deerhoof painting.
Barnaby Furnas is like poser punk. Banks Violette is false metal. Probably Matthew B fits in there pretty well....Is he the Bjork of visual art? Money Indy?
For a while it seemed like the stream of old punk titles and lyrics showing up in Artforum just wouldn't quit.

I see six year olds walking around with Misfits shirts. Ramones and Greenday, too. They are not wearing Dad's shirts-those sizes are available for purchase. Anybody seen "Pancake Mountain" or "Chica-go-go"?

Anonymous said...

Ok no-one picked up on my rapture. I'll carry it! In rapture all the material needs to be in the right place at the right time. As rush points out there is also this contradiction. In contradiction, or what we consider contradiction, is the only way things can find their place and time together. So actually there is no contradiction only a shift in time-o-space = a shift in experience. And as we can only plot experience up to a certain degree to the left or right of it there's something to be said for the immediate. In the immediate there is this transmission of plotted points of time and space. what's the saying... at the right time in the right place ... a useful adage == useful for art.
Miles, he said, pick my hat, we are going out!

anthony said...


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

i forgot to mention that at each side of rapture is sorrow and elation or elation and sorrow. This is our usual experience of time-0-space --each side of it. Thinking is each side of knowing. CG used to say that in taking the whole thing in, in a moment, is the only way to tell if anything is any good. We certainly need experience to know if something is good. Though at the same time that experience needs to be sublimated for real experience. Education is but one side of experience. There is this other side, which again is only a flavor of experience.

zipthwung said...

Childrens books. SOmeone said a lot of art is coming out of that. I dont know where Xylor places her product in art history, but when I say she comes from the same place its pretty evident I think in the diagramatic mindset. You see it in outsider artists too - its an honest (if dumb) impulse, like making a dots and connecting them.

I try to ignore the web of influence - its counterproductive to the rapture.

Spongebob is pretty good, I said it once I'll say it again. Not so into the merch though.

"Problems are also noticeable in Friends where celebrities such as Winona Ryder and Bruce Willis are mentioned by name and later appear playing characters other than themselves. It would seem that the characters in the shows would recognize the celebrities, therefore making suspension of disbelief impossible or at least illogical.

George said...


I regret using the term ‘formalist’ earlier, it’s a remnant from an argument elsewhere.

Your point ...or the cognoscenti of any given era would agree that what is "good" can be agreed upon to a certain extent. is a good place to start.

Ok, to a certain extent. Certainly from the comments here, it appears that not everyone is in agreement over what should be considered ‘good’. If there is some aesthetic measure of ‘goodness’, shouldn’t it be more or less universally applied? In thinking this through once before, I speculated that an aspect of the aesthetic experience might be primal, possibly genetically based, and that it occurs before one has a cognitive or conceptual response.

I do think there are some low level sets of rules that we respond to aesthetically. I think these are partly a function of how the brain is wired to deal with certain visual situations, boundaries, figure-ground, vertical-horizontal, etc. Still, this operates at a low level and doesn’t take into account the differences in opinion we see all the time.

Move up one level in complexity and I think you find that there are different sensibilities at work. Different individuals have different psychological histories, different education’s and experiences and therefore different tastes.

So already, this nurture-nature view is making the question of determining ‘goodness’ more complex. If we bump up another level, to the cultural aesthetic, things become more complex still. On one hand, the culture acts like a filter, sorting out differences in opinion, categorizing and creating an apparent cultural hierarchy of the aesthetic. The culture defines for itself what ‘goodness’ means.

Unfortunately, this is also really messy. What the culture considers ‘good’ today may change, be reevaluated, demoted, or promoted, tomorrow. It is highly unlikely that Jackson Pollock’s paintings would have been considered ‘good’ in 1850. Certainly individual artists might have thought so, but as a whole it seems fairly reasonable to assume they would have been considered a joke. So what happened between 1850 and 1950? The paintings wouldn’t have changed, so the aesthetic must have changed?

So my point is that the aesthetic, what we consider ‘good’ is not a fixed quantity but subject to change. Further, there appears to be a granularity in what might be considered ‘good’, with some qualities more tightly defined (apparent) than others. This causes no end of consternation for many people because they want the security of knowing what ‘good’ is.

Milf said Sometimes "crappy" art is BETTER than "good" art. I think this is correct. I’ve seen paintings that I thought were ‘good’ in the sense they were visually pleasant, well composed, well executed etc, but at the same time they did not hold my attention any more than a nice piece of wallpaper, or a weathered facade. ‘Crappy’ is a misnomer, it is often just a way of describing something that runs against our personal taste. If the art is ‘better’ then ‘crappy’ is an incorrect attribution.

Cross said...

An analog (scary word) for changing taste in art is the car industry, back when 99% of cars in the usa were made in Detroit and new models were presented for our delectation each September. There was a reason that year to year design changes were subtle. This gave folks time to accept the new look, adopt it as 'good' and then get a little tired of it, right on cue. To keep the market going and to prevent your new shiny thing from losing all its value in one year, the models didn't change very much for 4 or 5 years, then more radical changes were proudly introduced.

The Big Three were very good at creating and controlling this market esthetic, essentially determining public 'taste' in cars.

The Big Art Three (Ten, 200?) do that now with art, and they learned it well. Certain styles are acceptable because they are presented to us in the showrooms, er galleries, and we dutifully discuss, collect, and emulate them because it is safe to do so, and it makes us acceptable to the art crowd. Formalism or whatever you want to call it has been blown away in favor of style and trends. Yeah its got a hemi. Buy it.

George said...


I agree with your analogy except it’s describing how fashion is being manipulated.

The aesthetic experience itself is a different situation, it is a deeper level response and less susceptible to surface manipulations the way fashion is. Fashions can change overnight, but whatever changes occur with the aesthetic response seem to happen much slower.

I’m using the term ‘aesthetic response’ and not ‘aesthetics’ for a reason, the aesthetic, as conceptualized can be momentarily perturbed by fashion. The ‘aesthetic response’ is something different, it’s that overwhelming feeling or elation one feels in the presence of a great painting. You can’t legislate this, it’s there or it’s not.

Cross said...

I appreciate what you are saying George, but I an cynical enough to think that fashion and (shallow) style are as good as it gets now. Just like most people don't listen to and entire 'album' of music anymore, they also don't care much about what is below the surface of an artwork. If you can't put it on a billboard (or on a homepage) and get it in 7 seconds, it doesn't get got. Pop culture is the only culture. (I don't like it either, but we are in a tiny tiny minority.)

zipthwung said...

Pop culture can be and often is as sophisticated and "deep" as "high culture" - so you have to use specific examples or you will get into trouble like Adorno on Jazz.

What is the mechanism that creates these changes in taste? Everyone with eyes can see the waves. How are they propagated? Why do they start small and grow larger? Do they gather energy like a grassroots movement or is it a single pulse landing on the shore of a media beach?

If you look at the Bob Dylan video you can see "hip" vs "square" which Bob is rather big-headedly pointing out to Time's researcher. Note how Bob has depersonalized "the man" as a "square" and part of an monolithic entity called "Time Magazine" or "big media" in an opositional dialectic. Psychologicly I wonder if this is in fact projection of BD's hanhgups (inability to grasp a complex social system in its entirety) on "the establishment" with its inability to "get it".

The truth of the counterculture.

Bob's 24 but hes got "it" but you know not what it is. Condescending as all get out though. Reminds me of Dennis Hopper in Heart of Darkness, in a way. Preachy.

BUt the "big 10" galleries say they have it when they dont, like the popular crowd in High school propped up with cosmetic surgery and drugs. Thats pretty funny, the emporer really doesn't have any clothes, just a media wing producing text books for the consumption and subjigation of the inland empire. THIS IS WHERE CULTURE COMES FROM.

Was he a bad man? You know. who are you to judge what is good or bad? Man, at the center is your soul, man. You know, the soul. 50 pages of advertising.

Put one image NEXT DOOR to another without explanations, Bob says. Like a neighbor. because all this explanation is just going to bore everyone to death with received wisdom. You know, a little humility in the face of the innate intelligence in everyone. Nothing to get really so long as you are a free thinker.

This painting could be about tree rings. Tree rings can be pretty deep. They can be a prism clear down beyond the Mayflower Society.
Old New York was called New Amsterdam people just like it better that way. Cars used to have fins, because that was space age. Stream lining was an esthetic. Mainstreaming. You sent your kid to private school without question.
The hierarchy collapsed like a Whopper box. Kids rebelled. Society had a little too much chaos.
Tune in turn on drop out but most people raised kids, stayed in their homes and watched war on TV. War on TV is a great idea, and totally marketable. The ultimate reality show, and with war with Iran coming, helmet cams would generate revenue. Imagine 100,000 channels. get both sides. Use AI or sound levels to get the firefights. 2,000 editors. All war all the time.

Or its a wishing well. A wormhole. Light interference patterns. A quantum map. Who cares what Jensen thought, he was studying color theory. Study color theory, put Jensen in your footnotes. Color theory isnt going to write a top 40 hit though. No resonance.

George said...

Culture be culture, pop or high, it’s all one thing.

What is the mechanism that creates these changes in taste?

Boredom. It’s a fact, not so specifically how the changes come about but the idea that people need a change. Visual perception is a result of comparing the change in stimulus (see, O'Regan, sensorimoter theory of perception )and maybe this idea just filters down and gets used by the marketing people.

Ok, that was a headfake, but O’Regan is interesting.

"If you look at the Bob Dylan video..." you’re looking at mediated information that has been distilled by time and reflection. Hip-Square, it’s a perpetual idea that starts with teenagers, dresses up differently and develops its own private culture pressing against the status quo. Dylan was imbedded in it, where are we?

Zip’s got it right about the "big 10" galleries, they say they have it, but they don’t, they do have the client list and access to the money. Business be business.

Artists, plural, are still in control of the art, we make it or break it, we control its direction and focus. It’s "artists, plural, because there always those who will do whatever for a buck or blow, but as a group artists respond and react to one another, it’s a collective, a psychic focus brought to bear on the culture.

No Rush said...

I think you all proved my point about Green Day. I said they made the big money off of punk--not that they were punk. And Dana Schutz is making the big money offa Bad Painting.

Because it takes the Swells a long time to catch up.

For some reason I like Green Day too. And Dana Schutz. Probably because they are good at what they do.

Alfred Jensen is what they call an "artist's artist". Bruce Conner, Lee Lozano, Nozkowski, etc

BTW there used to BE a big difference between hip & square. then the Swells caught up, and it was the 70s. And Zip was born.
Is it so hard to believe what a huge divide there was between cultures back then?

anthony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anthony said...

There was something brought up before in some older post by Zipthwung--"Those who know what they don't know" or something close to that. What about that?
Dylan knew there was something to what he was doing, he could feel it, and he could also recognize that many others felt it but he remained famously silent regarding meaning in his songs. Sort of like the blind parody read of Warhol.

If you can't define it yourself then is it only half finished? This sounds like a question posed in Wilde's "The Critic as Artist".

George said...

10 Unsolved Mysteries Of The Brain

zipthwung said...

"BTW there used to BE a big difference between hip & square. then the Swells caught up, and it was the 70s. And Zip was born."

I was raised by wolves and you know it. I dont listen to music, I listen to the sound of the wind whistling through the trees. Nothing but the cold bone clicking of my keyboard, and the high pitched whine of the CPU's cooling fan. I live for these quiet poetic monments. A chug of budweiser. A whiff of truth. Endless becoming.

zipthwung said...

Oh and Socrates said the know you dont know stuff. I dont know what I said, I know that.

y'all read that before?

JB and JB - its like bourbon.

Old Guy said...

Having recently watched a fair slab of Scorcese’s marathon documentary on Dylan (I was never really a fan – although I understand a lot more about folk music now) – it seems obvious to me the reason Dylan doesn’t bother to further explain his lyrics is because he would rather be an artist than a critic.

It’s unlikely he was familiar with Cleanth Brooks’ ‘heresy of paraphrase’ but I’m sure he grasped the idea that paraphrasing is rephrasing, and once you’ve said something just right there’s no saying it better or simpler.

He remains ‘silent’ when not singing because he’s a singer. And that’s not just hip or beat or bohemian, it’s logical.

Incidentally, on color theory, something Zip is often anxious for us painters to chew over, I endorse John Gage’s Colour and Culture and Colour and Meaning. They ought to be required reading in art schools (in fact might be these days). It takes a while to see how they feed into 20th century painting, but when they do the impact is AWESOME.

apelles said...

you all have some weird ideas of formalism is. some of these ideas are straight-up ignorant. Color theory and golden mean is what formalism is? That is whack. Formalism alone looks dead? Why don't you know what the fuck you're talking about? are you fucking retarded?

You sound like the people who think whites are inherently smarter than blacks and make little graphs based on facial features to prove it.

anthony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Sorry I'm off track, but here counter culture means something different. It's kind of amusing.

It wasn't until I arrived that I knew Bob had been here. I mean he always sounded funny. There was this nasal thing but the way the sound came out... it was J-pop before j-pop. Bob came over and headed straight for the counter  and ordered four bowls of miso ramen. He took it all. I guess he went home and took it with him --the counter, the culture and the warble, J-pop, before there was J-pop.
I always measure culture by how clean the job is. Conducting, directing traffic in Miami, sitting the right side of the counter, front, culture, and class.
Ok back to Bob and the guy who painted this, what's his name? Hmmm, makes you think music might be the better place. ah what the heck, hand me a tube

apelles said...

george said: "Unfortunately, this is also really messy. What the culture considers ‘good’ today may change, be reevaluated, demoted, or promoted, tomorrow. It is highly unlikely that Jackson Pollock’s paintings would have been considered ‘good’ in 1850. Certainly individual artists might have thought so, but as a whole it seems fairly reasonable to assume they would have been considered a joke. So what happened between 1850 and 1950? The paintings wouldn’t have changed, so the aesthetic must have changed?"

Pollock would not have been considered good by who? The general public who have no real interest in art? Or the cognoscenti who have a pure interest in art?

Between 1850 and 1950, it is my opinion that the aesthetic did not change, but that what was unnecessary in a painting was completely removed from the equation.

you also said: "So my point is that the aesthetic, what we consider ‘good’ is not a fixed quantity but subject to change."

You make a point that is hard to argue against and I understand your point of view. But going with my gut, I believe that "good" will always be a fixed quality in art, and not subject to change.

Over time, people have confirmed or rejected older generations' judgment of art. Throughout this time, it is basically established that certain artists are good and certain artists are not good.

Bouguereau, for example, has the technique to paint realistically. This is obviously not the criteria that we judge a painting's "Goodness" by. What is this criteria then? Some have put out the idea that it is the "form" of a painting that we judge it by. And, looking back in time, it seems that form was the criteria that many generations and many different cultures had judged their art by. Then, the art critics of different generations who come to judge art decide pretty similarly the "quality" of the works of the past and the present. If Bouguereau reaches canonical status in one generation, you can be pretty sure that a future generation will throw him back into the "kitsch" column. Why? Because in terms of "quality", he is clearly inferior to other artists of canon. Through 0generations an artist's level of quality is affirmed.

zipthwung said...

alchemy vs science.
Is alchemy proto science

Is art a proto cognitive science

If so, who is the controll group? WHo gets the placebo?

apelles said...

In a world where there exist only two artists, Raphael and Bouguereau, and one generation hails Bouguereau as the greatest painter of their world, then would you consider it a subjective opinion that they are entitled to?

Anonymous said...

I think Rodin changed things. But he didn't paint. He was french. He smoked Gauloises the one of acclaimed status.
and sorry apelles I didn't know you were talking about THAT formal. I though you were talking about the other formal. The one you are talking... that's the good one. You don't find it often. The other one that's the bad one. Sometime soon someone should give better labels so we don't confuse the good one from the bad one. I don't know that's a job and a half.

No Rush said...

Ive studied lots of color systems, but now i just paint what I see and what I feel. It turns out better that way.

zipthwung said...

Concrete your You Tube clip definitely points toward a kind of formal rigour. I think Jackass jacked that. In fact I'd bet money on it.

"The term formalism describes an emphasis on form over content or meaning in the arts, literature, or philosophy. A practitioner of formalism is called a formalist."

Ad hominem voibiscum.

Andd finally, Goethe was is a total sap.

Check this Sturm und Drang out:

The Sorrows of Young Werther was Goethe's first major success, turning him from an unknown into a celebrated author practically overnight. Napoleon Bonaparte considered it one of the great works of European literature, thinking so highly of it that as a youth, he wrote a soliloquy in Goethe's style, and that as an adult carried Werther with him on most of his campaigns. It also started the phenomenon known as the "Werther-Fieber" ("Werther Fever"): Young men throughout Europe began to dress in the clothing described for Werther in the novel. It also led to some of the first known examples of copycat suicide; supposedly more than 2,000 readers committed suicide.

Who says art can't change things?

The formalists?

apelles said...

"The term formalism describes an emphasis on form over content or meaning in the arts, literature, or philosophy. A practitioner of formalism is called a formalist."

where do you get your information from? Some intro to theory book written by a lazy professor that really needs a paycheck? Dude, no book is going to tell you what form is.

some writer who need to define formalism in one sentence for his book isn't going to know what formalism is.

zipthwung said...

that was the definition I got (in various formulations) all through school.

but here's my definition


kichigai gaijin!

Now I showed you mine, why dont you show me yours?

apelles said...

my definition. At 2:30.

apelles said...

more formalism

Anonymous said...

Ok least we are getting a variety of form now. In that last one apelles they never did give the weather report. I'm thinking why put it up there if you're not going to give it. Or the point [what you are saying] that's the unnecessary content? Kinda like the Jordon thing, too, two things goin on. One is this explanation I guess, a bit like the words in this painting. And zip's great definition. Formal rigor doesn't make a spectacle of itself. And when there is this overriding need, well, a little heartfelt apology is not that hard to deliver after the paella.

zipthwung said...


George said...


I used Pollock and a 100 years in my example for a reason. I was referring to the cognoscenti and allowed for the fact that some artists might have recognized something in Pollock, but that overall, by the cognoscenti, he would have been dismissed.

Even today, there are readers of this blog who, I’m sure, think Pollock was a charlatan. At the same time, there are critics today, who would acclaim De Kooning and Pollock, yet quickly dismiss Johns, Warhol or Lichtenstein.

I’ll toss up another one, Basquiat. In my opinion he was a great painter, one of the best at the end of the twentieth century. If I say that to other painters, half will groan and roll their eyes. What’s happening?

I think there may be a reason for this that’s tied up in how we perceive the world around us, and as a result how we attempt to formulate an aesthetic.

Let’s skip over ‘good’ for a moment. ‘Great’ paintings, as acknowledged by the culture, by the cognoscenti and consiglieri, have the ability to engender the aesthetic response in the viewer. The aesthetic response is a deeply felt emotional experience which has some similarities in quality to other psychological responses we have. A great painting can move me to tears or give me a feeling of elation, I can’t quantify it or tell you why this occurs, but it does. In my opinion, this is a, by consensus, requirement for greatness in a painting.

One millisecond further into consciousness is the conceptual response which occurs at a level of awareness, recognition and conceptualization about what we are perceiving. This is layered on the aesthetic response above, enriching the complexity of our experience.

Just to muddy up the water, the conceptual response can block the aesthetic response, it becomes a filter of denial. This seems to occur when the viewers formulate some prejudice against a certain artist or style for intellectual or personal reasons.

So for me ‘good’ is defined as a degree of approximation, closeness to, ‘great’ as defined above. It has nothing to do with technical skill, which is often a trap for many painters.

So, I could argue or agree that yes there is some stable aspect to the ‘aesthetic’ over time. I would say it is the aesthetic response I described above.

When I say the aesthetic is shifting or changing has more to do with what the culture is willing to accept as ‘good’.

This is a not so subtle distinction, as a painter I believe it is almost impossible to have the pure ‘aesthetic response’ with ones own work, we are too close to the work emotionally and conceptually, as a result we rely on an outside response for verification.

Paintings do not exist in a vacuum, they act as an interface between the artists experience, then, and the viewers experience, now. Both the artist and the viewer are/were looking at the same thing, the painting. So what the audience, the culture, the cognoscenti and consiglieri consider to be good, to define the aesthetic, becomes important because it allows new forms to exist in the quest for the aesthetic response.

webthing said...

just read this, found at tale-of-tales.com/tales/RAM

its a kind of funny look at how some really talented people see art

7. Don’t make modern art.

Modern art tends to be ironical, cynical, self referential, afraid of beauty, afraid of meaning
-other than the trendy discourse of the day-,
afraid of technology, anti-artistry.
Furthermore contemporary art is a marginal niche.
The audience is elsewhere.
Go to them rather then expecting them to come to the museum.
Contemporary art is a style, a genre, a format.

Do not fear beauty.
Do not fear pleasure.

Make art-games, not game-art.
Game art is just modern art
-ironical, cynical, afraid of beauty, afraid of meaning.
It abuses a technology that has already spawned an art form capable of communicating far beyond the reach of modern art.
Made by artists far superior in artistry and skills.
Game art is slave art.

Realtime media are craving your input, your visions.
Real people are starving for meaningful experiences.
And what’s more:

society needs you.

Contemporary civilisations are declining at an unsurpassed rate.
The world is collapsing while the Artists twiddle their thumbs in the museums.

Step into the world.
Into the private worlds of individuals.
Share your vision.


webthing said...

painting will continue, don't worry. it's always been necessary to the human condition. that kinda thing doesn't fade. we eat, we sleep, we drink, we talk, we breathe, we write, we paint, we fuck. always been the same. always will be. what is upheld in critical circles weathers the seasons of favour, but really, underneath what is 'in' and what isn't, you know what i'm sayin. pollock, basquiat, poseurs or not, no biggy. don't try and find a 'formula' for greatness, unless you want to engage in an act of the irrational. if so, perhaps do it on canvas! painting, the old great tribute to the true elusive meaning of this earthball thing, and all the other little things doing stuff on it.

(the toilet paper roll is on fire, how am i gonna wipe my ass?)

zipthwung said...

Cigarette lighter, that was allways a nice iage, with the glowing orange coil. Never forgot that - mustve been 4 or 5.

"His affinities range through a host of texture-mad stipplers, dotters and checkerboarders who came both before and after, from Charles Burchfield to Alfred Jensen and Jess to Ralph Humphrey and Robert Irwin."


This is is color coded:



tell me what it means man.

Old Guy said...

Amen Webthing!

Rather than gnaw and nag away at some elusive irreducible essence, some ineffably abstract and absolute ideal for painting – far better surely to consider what topics painting might usefully address at present – how painting differs from other kinds of pictures – even abstractions – of our world and what strikes at the heart strings before purse strings there.

Apelles is not content with book learning and secondhand wisdom, wants his history as the only history, but can’t be bothered to live it much less learn from it. Being offended by Richter doesn’t make Pollock or Raphael any more welcoming, resenting Gonzales-Torres doesn’t make you any more discerning, sensitive or right. Actually it makes you smaller, meaner and even younger than your years.

Grow up and make good.

George stands by the intuitive response, known to older readers as the aesthetic attitude, appeals tacitly to Ruskin’s innocent eye before Kant’s disinterested mind. But the eye robbed of the informing mind is blind; the mind emptied of incidentals soon spirals into a vacuum. The exclusively, explicitly visual cannot support a formal or intrinsic definition of painting. The splendid and ideal isolation of materials, tools and technique cannot guarantee excellence to painting.

If form is found anywhere with certainty, it is afterwards. It is the history of changes by necessity and circumstance. What was good mostly stays good, but never in the same way. What was bad might become good, if only to refine what is still bad.

Better altogether to heed Webthing’s suggestion, wrestle with the present world to make painting an ideal.

zipthwung said...

and get good drugs

maybe read durkheim, do some totems, keep it simple. oh wait thats wish fulfillment.

Old Guy said...

It means you missed Chorus Line chasing too many other lines!

Sean Dack wishes he was Philip K. Dick, but he'll settle for Burt Bacharach.

Anonymous said...

Information it's everywhere.

George said...

old guy,

I don’t know squat about Kant and Ruskin, and I wouldn’t characterize my position as you suggest. If my remarks came off that way then I am being misunderstood or not clear in my points.

I do believe that the ‘intuitive response’ (your term) is important, but I do not believe it is the only characteristic or quality which engenders the aesthetic experience. The nature of human perception is more complex than this. As such, I would agree with your statement that the eye robbed of the informing mind is blind.

My position is that the aesthetic response occurs, sequentially, starting in sequence with the intuitive or emotional response. FWIW, the emotional response happens first because psychological reactions are survival based, producing a reaction with less intervening thought, hence faster.

I also do not think that the intuitive response may necessarily always occur for everyone, and that the conscious mind can choose to ignore or misinterpret what one is feeling.

After that the conscious mind takes over.

No Rush said...

apelles and old guy--its like duelling hallmark cards

No Rush said...

25- Unlike the gestures, postures and mantras, which have long been codified, and with the extreme precision of which India is capable (seeming to have always had an unparalleled passion for detail and classification) the meaning, as far as we know, of these images is not strictly fixed. Probably because painters are always consummate in the art of taking liberties. No doubt, they have done that with what was surely at one time the original cannon. Moreover, we don’t have systematic translations of the treatises that contained these images (in particular, we would have to know if the text was commentary on the images, or if the images illustrated the text). In any case, it is all astounding. It would seem that not a single researcher has seriously looked into their precise symbolism. Generally, books on tantric art, naturally those of Mookerjee and his disciples spring first to mind, remain judiciously brief on the subject of specific meanings. One dreams of knowing more. Numerous meetings with painters, amateurs, scholars and even some initiates have been necessary to extract by cross-reference a common interpretation. But, we may never have come across the true fonts of knowledge. Who knows?

26- Here’s for your knapsack, in any case. A few travelling rations. Black indicates the night of the world. Blue is consciousness. The lighter, the purer. Spirals and arrows symbolize energy. Inverted triangles depict the Goddess.

36- Imagine : suddenly, after weeks, months, perhaps years of evoking the Goddess for example, her arms, her legs, her jutting tongue and terrifying gaze, all was precipitation - in both senses of the word. All was feverishly resolved in a simple inverted triangle. And this triangle not only contained but became every petal of the evocation, legs, arms, strength. Not one petal was lacking. Abstraction.

37- Abstraction. To abbreviate. To see it all, finally, together.

Cross said...

Are we just 'rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic' as we sit here talking about what's happening with art now versus then? I notice it all fits into this little box on one blogsite (and thank you for it painter) with about a dozen posters. The NYT had an art forum but gave it up when nobody showed up to play. Most large cities have no art coverage to speak of online or off.

I'm not making the old 'art is dead' argument, but more an 'art is life' one. Traditional ways of doing art have been absorbed into the culture which is what I mean by popular culture is the only culture. We can sit here in our corner talking about formalism or ab-ex or ibexes or whatever but the little pictures are distracting us from the bigger pic in which everyone is their own artist/curator/musician/critic. Egalitarian art; I think we might be there and don't even know what to make of it. Oh, you are an artist? Cool. Me too. Lets make a movie.

So artists have to fit into this. Maybe that is the real discussion here... Help! We are relevant! Anyone?

zipthwung said...


zipthwung said...

check check check check

zipthwung said...

pattern recognition

no-where-man said...

'rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic'

hey that was my line - Finch stole it after we had drinks.

apelles said...

oldguy said: "resenting Gonzales-Torres doesn’t make you any more discerning"

Oldguy, I never said I resent Gonzalez-Torres. Gonzalez-Torres is my favorite artist. Maybe you should actually read some of the stuff that I write instead of skimming it.

You've said before that people shouldn't exclude Richter from the canon. My opinion is that if you look at art for long enough then you would understand why someone would come to the conclusion of thinking that Richter is not as important as some people like to think.

In your trademark passive-agressive way you also said: "Apelles is not content with book learning and secondhand wisdom, wants his history as the only history..."

No, I don't want my history as the only history, but I do think the Old Masters were great artists, and that they were better than the best artists working today, and I also believe that we could learn something from them.

I believe that quality exists in art. Of course it is not measurable with a ruler, but it exists. Someone might like Avril Lavigne better than Mozart. They might hold the opinion that Avril Lavigne is a better musician than Mozart. What do you say to that? That this is just a subjective opinion that everyone is entitled to and that if one person adamantly states that Mozart is a better musician, that that person is "obeying"? That that person that is suggesting that it is a fact that Mozart is better than Avril Lavigne is a slave to this system of judging? That this person is smaller and meaner for saying that he knows for a fact that Mozart is better than avril lavigne?

apelles said...

webthing referred to a place that said: "Don’t make modern art.

Modern art tends to be ironical, cynical, self referential, afraid of beauty..."

Whoever thinks modern art is afraid of beauty has absolutely no idea what they're talking about. That is just stupid to say that. Straight-up false.

zipthwung said...

Please people, if you are going to use cliche's at least change the name of the boat.

apelles said...

George said: "I’ll toss up another one, Basquiat. In my opinion he was a great painter, one of the best at the end of the twentieth century. If I say that to other painters, half will groan and roll their eyes. What’s happening?"

Ok, I agree with a good portion of what you say, depending on which artist we're talking about. There are people who hate and some people who love a certain artist. There are some people who say Rembrandt is better than Raphael, and some people who say vice versa. It is true that they are each entitled to their opinion.

But I still think that for anyone looking at art a lot, their conclusions in regards to the quality of a work will be pretty accurate.

for example, when Odd Nerdrum was mentioned, several people expressed their disgust at the mentioning of Nerdrum in the same sentence as Titian. Ask them if they know 100% that Nerdrum is inferior to Titian and I have a feeling they will say yes.

I would agree with you depending on who we're talking about. Some artists are definitely both hated and loved, and might be because of pure personal preference.

zipthwung said...

I mean ship.

I wouldnt take shit so personally apelles what you trying to star t a fight for? Claim a territory? Youre like the new kid pushing the bully down. And you cant push anyone here down - in my case cuz I'll just change my opinion and tone and then flip you out of the ring and cut your eyes out and put you on the Shrimp boat or revisionism and then youll be talking like forest gump for the rest of your life.

Theremy. thats another highly original Finchism. How does he do it?

zipthwung said...

mbly suggest that aside from your esthetic argument (formalism dude) that REVISIONISM

is what you should be discussing. Ill do my homework and we can have a nice discussion about it on tuesday what ya say?

zipthwung said...

In philosophy, essentialism is the view that, for any specific kind of entity, there are a set of characteristics all of which any entity of that kind must have. This view is contrasted with non-essentialism which states that for any given kind of entity there are no specific traits which entities of that kind must have.

A member of a specific kind of entity may possess other characteristics that are neither needed to establish its membership nor preclude its membership. It should be noted that essences do not simply reflect ways of grouping objects; essences must result in properties of the object.

An essence characterizes a substance or a form, in the sense of the Forms or Ideas in Platonic idealism. It is permanent, unalterable, and eternal; and present in every possible world. Classical humanism has an essentialist conception of the human being, which means that it believes in an eternal and unchangeable human nature. This viewpoint has been criticized by Marx, Nietzsche, Sartre and many modern and existential thinkers.

Thanks wikipedia!

apelles said...

zip said: "I'll just change my opinion and tone and then flip you out of the ring and cut your eyes out and put you on the Shrimp boat or revisionism and then youll be talking like forest gump for the rest of your life."

Sorry zip, i didn't know anything i said was making you so violent and hateful. I wouldn't take anything I say so personally either.

I like discussing art i guess. I might get carried away sometimes, i admit.

I am going to stop posting here because of your threat. It really disappoints me to hear stuff like that.

you're a very smart person for knowing the word revisionism. you must know a lot about it. it would also help to know about the thing that is being revised. otherwise, any knowledge about revisionism doesn't really help you in any way. you might end up sounding like the guy that webthing quoted.

apelles said...

george, i would like to add that even though i agree that two people knowledgeable about art could come to two different conclusions about an artist like basquiat, sometimes it's due to relating to the artist and not being able to relate to the artist.

Being black, I read invisible man and i loved it. But someone who is not black might not as enjoy it as much as I did. Although they could just as well love it as much as i did. i admit that it's hard for me sometimes to engage in a work that is explicitly about feminism, or about gays, or certain very specific subject matter like the subject of growing up a girl in southern mississippi or an apotheosis. But some artists can create about any subject matter and the work will come through to anybody who gives the slightest bit of effort to appreciate the work. Or a subject like anne frank, for instance, might move someone because it's content is so universal.

But i think it is important for the viewer to give anything a chance (like basquiat) even when they are not drawn to the work because they don't empathize with the subject or the style that the work is done in. I think this is partly the reason why people's opinions on some things differ so much.

Idon'tbathe said...

I don't want to see how skillfull you are-I'm not interested in your skill. What do you get out of nature? Why do you paint this subject? What is life to you? What reasons and what principles have you found? What are your deductions? What projections have you made? What excitement, what pleasure do you get out of it? Your skill is of the least interest to me.

apelles said...

here's some more formalism for you to enjoy.

Idon'tbathe said...

I thought you we're going to step off.

apelles said...

yeah, but you posted something i had to respond to.

So do you discount anything that does have skill?

Anonymous said...

what happens when your hoop starts to bend and to twist... should you rub your eyes, believe in heavenly bliss, or as the man for Coffee?... anyone?

Idon'tbathe said...

if you are one who needs to walk and talk with the airs of your betters one who must in some way pretend to be that which you are not, we may see a very skilled technique, one filled with a thousand clever tricks, but it's a self-conscious technique one which is an end in itself.

Cooky Blaha said...

In art theory formalism is the concept that a work's artistic value is entirely determined by its form--the way it is made, its purely visual aspects and its medium. Formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color, line, shape and texture rather than realism, context, and content. In visual art, formalism is the concept that everything necessary in a work of art is contained within it. The context for the work, including the reason for its creation, the historical background, and the life of the artist, is considered to be of secondary importance. Formalism dominated modern art from the late 1800s through the 1960s.

History of formalism

The concept of formalism can be traced as far back as Plato, who argued that 'eidos' (or shape) of a thing included our perceptions of the thing, as well as those sensory aspects of a thing which the human mind can take in. Plato argued that eidos included elements of representation and imitation, since the thing itself could not be replicated. Subsequently, Plato believed that eidos inherently was deceptive.
In 1890, the Post-impressionist painter Maurice Denis wrote in his article 'Definition of Neo-Traditionism' that a painting was 'essentially a flat surface covered in colours arranged in a certain order.' Denis argued that the painting or sculpture or drawing itself, not the subject of the artistic work, gave pleasure to the mind.
Denis' emphasis on the form of a work led the Bloomsbury writer Clive Bell to write in his 1914 book, Art, that there was a distinction between a thing's actual form and its 'significant form.' For Bell, recognition of a work of art as representational of a thing was less important than capturing the 'significant form', or true inner nature, of a thing. Bell's work harkened back to the Aristotelian concept of general forms and 'species.' For Aristotle, that an animal was a dog was not important; that a dog was a Dalmatian or an Irish wolfhound was. Echoing this line of thought, Bell pushed for an art that used the techniques of an artistic medium to capture the essence of a thing (its 'significant form') rather than its mere outward appearance.
Throughout the rest of the early part of the 20th Century, European structuralists continued to argue that 'real' art was expressive only of a thing's ontological, metaphysical or essential nature. But European art critics soon began using the word 'structure' to indicate a new concept of art. By the 1930s and 1940s, structuralists reasoned that the mental processes and social preconceptions an individual brings to art are more important that the essential, or 'ideal', nature of the thing. Knowledge is created only through socialization and thought, they said, and a thing can only be known as it is filtered through these mental processes. Soon, the word 'form' was used interchangeably with the word 'structure'.
In 1940, the American art critic Clement Greenberg, in an influential piece in Partisan Review, argued that the value of art was located in its form. The representational aspects of a work of art are less important than those aspects which embody a thing's 'internal identity'. This led Greenberg to the conclusion that abstraction was the purest art of all.
Greenberg also perceived that impressionism had blurred the boundaries between various art forms. This led to a 'confusion of the arts', he wrote, and a lack of purity in artistic endeavor. Defining a work of art by its 'art form', or medium, limits a work's artistic possibilities to the nature of that medium. Yet, this also allows the work of art to stand alone on its own merits.

zipthwung said...

Way to sidestep the issue Apelles.

You are repeating yourself. Ever consider maybe you have nothing to say? Think about it before you answer - maybe have half a glass of water before bed and then have the rest after. Write down your dream and tell me what it is. I'm pretty good with haruspicy too.

I can only assume you are facetious, disingenous or both. What kind of an educated "black man" makes some claim to essentialist classicism? Its a joke right? AHead of my bell curve? You sound like a crank like Hilton Kramer or something.

Good job. I'll take the bait. Yes, quality is fixed like the planets in their spheres and the sun circles around you.

Now what?

YOu cant call people retarded and expect them to take you seriously. Your tone deafness is what is retarded.

To busy shouting.

apelles said...

no i am not sidestepping anything zip. I just don't feel like further discussing anything with someone who says they're going to cut my eyes out over an argument about art, regardless of whether they are serious or not. I hope you can understand that.

You are absolutely right that I shouldn't call anyone retarded and expect them to take me seriously and I apologize. Like i said, i can get carried away in these discussions, just like a lot of other people here.

Do you think because i'm black that i have to adhere to some revisionist doctrine? Do you think that i have to make "black" art like kara walker to be a serious "black" artist? If so, your revisionism might need some revision.

you said: "Good job. I'll take the bait. Yes, quality is fixed like the planets in their spheres and the sun circles around you.

Now what?"

Now go study the best artists, and then make some good art yourself. Take your art to the next level. I really do hope you find that matisse to richter is like what the ramones is to green day.

I hope that I don't have to see this work on this page by Zahn when I walk into the contemporary section at the met twenty years into the future. Maybe instead i'll see a painting by zipthwung that i like.

Idon'tbathe said...

are you kehinde whiley ?

zipthwung said...

Thats asinine and you know it.
Taking my comment out of context is the kind of tactic a FORMALIST would use.

YOU SET THE TONE. You chose your weapon and besides, art isn't some civil discourse to be conducted at dawn with nerf pistols, its a limited combat theater. Im not coming over to your house like some MSNBC pedophile. I'm engaging you here in this teensy little loop of the internet.

Maybe you should read what you wrote. All of it. I did.

In fact Im gonna go read some more about structuralism. Between the signifier and the cheeseburger falls the stomach.

no-where-man said...

The idea of animal territories was first introduced by the British ornithologist Eliot Howard in a book published in 1920. In the 1930s it was developed further by the American ornithologist Margaret Morse Nice through research on the song sparrow. It was widely popularised by Robert Ardrey in his book The Territorial Imperative, and the popularity of this book led to an exaggerated perception of the importance of territory in social ethology. In fact only a minority of species maintain territories with well defined boundaries, within which they live and find all the resources they need.

zipthwung said...

The process and mechanics of ownership are fairly complex since one can gain, transfer and lose ownership of property in a number of ways. To acquire property one can purchase it with money, trade it for other property, receive it as a gift, steal it, find it, make it or homestead it. One can transfer or lose ownership of property by selling it for money, exchanging it for other property, giving it as a gift, being robbed of it, misplacing it, or having it stripped from one's ownership through legal means such as eviction, foreclosure and seizure. Ownership is self-propagating in that if an object is owned by someone, any additional goods produced by using that object will also be owned by the same person. If one finds an object, one can legitimately take ownership of that object as long as no one claims to have previously lost that object. Some jurisdictions place time restraints on finding lost property before that property becomes fair game for anyone to claim ownership of once found. Such is the case of the gold found in the sunken SS Republic.

Anonymous said...

we need a higher level of Communication around here. You know we are all doing our best. If someone wants to spend their lifetime blending paint around a fucking arm that is not there, well why not? They did it in antiquity.
I'm with norush, though --just go with it.
As soon as we get the flow the square, the triangle, and the other one, I forget, but I know it, when we can deploy these onto the canvas with some level of accuracy and color sense, we get the full rug, i mean the picture, well we'll get it when it comes.
The same goes for communication. Lets get our clothes off, communicate -- thought and action...


... how was that for you?

No Rush said...


No Rush said...

In the summer of '59 after leaving home early spring, I was in Minneapolis, having come down from Northern Minnesota-from the Mesabi Range, the iron mining country, steel capital of America. I'd grown up there in Hibbing but had been born in Duluth, about seventy-five miles away to the east on the edge of Lake Superior, the big lake that the Indians call Gitche Gumee. Though we lived in Hibbing, my father from time to time would load us into an old Buick Roadmaster (hey! that's the same car we had when i was a kid--4 kids fit in the backseat!)and we'd ride to Duluth for the weekend. My father was from Duluth, born and raised there. That's where his friends still were. One of five brothers, he'd worked all his life even as a kid. When he was sixteen, he'd seen a car smash into a telephone pole and burst into flames. He jumped off his bicycle, reached in and pulled the driver out, smothering the driver's body with his own-risking his life to save someone he didn't even know. Eventually, he took accounting classes in night school and was working for Standard Oil of Indiana when I was born. Polio, which left him with a pronounced limp, had forced him out of Duluth-he lost his job and that's how we got to the Iron Range, where my mother's family was from. Near Duluth, I also had cousins across the suspension aerial bridge in Superior, Wisconsin, the notorious red-light, gambling town and I stayed with them sometimes.

Old Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zipthwung said...

Nihongo ga wakarimassen?
I never look under the hood.

Hal Foster states that neo-expressionism was complicit with the conservative cultural politics of the Reagan-Bush era in the U.S.[35] Felix Guattari disregards the "large promotional operations dubbed 'neo-expressionism' in Germany," (an example of a "fad that maintains itself by means of publicity") as a too easy way for him "to demonstrate that postmodernism is nothing but the last gasp of modernism."[3]

01101000 01110100 01110100 01110000 00111010 00101111 00101111 01110111 01110111 01110111 00101110 01110100 01101110 01110100 00101110 01110100 01110110 00101111 01110011 01100101 01110010 01101001 01100101 01110011 00101111 01110100 01101000 01100101 01100011 01101111 01101101 01110000 01100001 01101110 01111001 00101111 00001101 00001010

If you're into Yevgeny Zamyatin references pretty funny.

no-where-man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Old Guy said...

Do you suppose there really were deckchairs on The Titanic? I mean the weather on the North Atlantic run is not exactly conducive to lolling around in deckchairs, trying to catch some sun, is it?

zipthwung said...

exhibit a

got me a movie
i want you to know
slicing up eyeballs
i want you to know
girlie so groovy
i want you to know
don't know about you
but i am un chien andalusia
wanna grow
up to be
be a debaser, debaser

got me a movie
ha ha ha ho
slicing up eyeballs
ha ha ha ho
girlie so groovie
ha ha ha ho
don't know about you
but i am un chien andalusia

anthony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Idon'tbathe said...

Through art mysterious bonds of understanding and of knowledge are established among men. They are the bonds of great brotherhood. Those who are of the brotherhood know each other, time and space cannot seperate them.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cross said...

Of course there were deck chairs! Didn't you see the movie?? :-)

Zip, for the cliche, mea culpa. Oops is that a cliche too? Damn. Creativity's not my strong suit. (Doh!)

(Oh, look another painting... I'm moving on to that one, which I think I hate. But I better look at it first.)

zipthwung said...

NO EXCUSES. I hope Apelles is doing the reading assignment.

Everyone I know cheers when the titanic sinks.