Thursday, July 27, 2017

How "inadecuacy of language" does *artblicity* wonders for Luc Tuymans

Luc Tuyman Still Life, 2002, 11x16 feet


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At miami.bourbaki, we expose artblicity whenever and wherever we see it.

Dear reader, if you pay a visit to our site for the first time, perhaps we should revisit the term.

Artblicity is basically publicity passing for artspeak, its goal is to $ell art.

Though publicity and contemporary art are best friends, they pretend not to know each other. Profits belong in this other human science called Economy. Art, on the other hand, is this wonderful thing you can present and represent with hyperbolic paraphrasis, pseudo theory & epiphanic slush.

In what follows we'll try to show artblicity in action. Which brings us to Belgian painter Luc Tuymans (full disclosure: we've covered Luc Tuymans before: here, here, and here).

Tuymans is an artblicity favourite.

Take this sample from the Saatchi Gallery Webpage:
The sheer scale makes the contemplation of this painting almost impossible: a vast canvas representing an absolute nothingness. Luc Tuymans chose the subject of still life precisely because it was utterly unremarkable; a generic ‘brand’ of ‘object’ rendered to immense scale; it is banality expanded to the extreme. The simplicity of Luc Tuymans’s composition alludes to a pure and uninterrupted world order; the ephemeral light, with which the canvas seems to glow, places it as an epic masterpiece of metaphysical and spiritual contemplation. In response to unimaginable horror, Luc Tuymans offers the sublime. A gaping magnitude of impotency, which neither words nor paintings could ever express.
At first, we didn't know who wrote this presentation. Then we found it was used here, and refered to as Saatchi blurb.

Then we located Simon Morley (as it turns, an artist, professor and expert in sublimity)

Morley opens with the assumption that Tuymans delivers "absolute nothingness." Not just "nothingness" (a knotty Sartrean category, circa 1950s), but an "absolute" one at that.

Suddenly, one can feel the viscosity of hyperbole constraining one's neck muscles.

This "nothingness" happens as a result of "sheer size." Yet, the ratio of the centered still-life arrangement, about 5x8 feet2, is actually quite proportional to the size of the whole piece (11x16 feet2). If Morley takes a literal cue to imply a symbolic result, the painting's ratio between part and whole doesn't deliver his badly needed sorcery.

Then, inexplicably, Morley ventures into divination: Tuymans chooses this subject matter because Still-Life's "utterly unremarkable" standing. Not just "unremarkable" but "utterly" so (notice artblicity's hyperbolic adjectival, adverbial compulsion: 1- "sheer," 2- "absolute," and 3- "utterly," etc).

In an instant, Morley turns Still Life, one of paintings' sturdiest genres, with 24 centuries of history, into a "generic brand of object."

Now, comes Morley's epiphanic release (in a mere 58-word paragraph)

* ... expanded to the extreme,
* ... an epic masterpiece,
* ... of metaphysical and spiritual contemplation,
* ... response to imaginable horror,
* ... offers the sublime,
* ... gaping magnitude of impotency,
* ... which neither words nor paintings could ever express,

And after this panegyric, he has the nerve to drop this portent:

Still Life is a monument to the inadequacy of language.

Do you buy it? 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Arts-and-Cratfs Revival Manifesto (in progress)

Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry, Detroit Institute of Arts, 1933

Painting, sculpture or performance art are no better than bookbinding, stucco ornament, hand hammering, dry set masonry, or violin making.- Anonymous exploited craftsperson 


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The do's and don'ts

Stop cannibalizing art. Be original. To be original search deep into your sources. Go back your early drawings. Bring back the buried doodling. 

Don't try to be popular. You can't please everyone. 

Craft is the slow food of art. Bring craft back into your art. 

Don't explain your design. Good design doesn't need explaining.

Don't be sloppy. Whatever art you do, learn it thoroughly. 

Don't be a Mammon-sucker! If you hire someone do to art work for you, give them credit in your work.

Don't do art by just looking at art magazines. Imitation is a form of limitation.

Seek effect and affect. Appropriation is cheap.

Avoid Photoshop. Bring back your drawing skills!

What's your truest mark? YOU.

Bring more free hand design! Trace your own experience of a process  resembling its past development!

Go back to calligraphy! Free your hand and mind from the tedium of the mouse. 

Don't cheat. Achieving style is a slow process. 

Don't delegate any art/skill that you can master yourself.

Art doesn't comment. Stop making art to make comments about comments.

Art making is community. Build community!

The hell with the past. Build futurity!

Stop mimicking Postmodern mimicking.

Good art is not political. It is political because it's good.

Don't cheat. Learn your craft from scratch. No shortcuts! 

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* Every line expressed here applies to this writer (he is YOU).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Walter Crane's dictionary (in progress)


At first sight Walter Crane (1845-1915) would not seem a figure at the level of a Ruskin or a Morris. The received information is that Crane was indeed the most prolific children's book designer of his generation; that he was a disciple of Morris and contributor to Morris’s Kelmscott Press. But Crane was active force behind the development of the Arts and Crafts movement. He figures as spokesman of the The Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, which was started in London in 1888. And yet, it is after the death of Morris in 1896 that Crane's voice emerges with a unique self confidence that makes him a valuable source of ideas behind the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Click here for our Walter Crane dictionary (in progress).  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

William Morris' dictionary (in progress)

William Morris, 1883

This brief William Morris curated dictionary (in progress) and Ruskin's dictionary, below are spurred by this discussion.

Much of contemporary art's current crisis can be traced back to a specific moment during the fin de siecle Arts and Crafts revolution. Pre-avantgarde Nineteenth Century illumines recent ideological friction in the contemporary art world, between what we've called "not making," the "art assembly line," art "hypnosis," "the signature," the problem of "proper naming" in art, etc. It makes sense to analyze these contemporary issues from the contributions of the Arts and Crafts Movement, particularly John Ruskin, and more predominantly, by William Morris.

John Ruskin's dictionary (in progress)

John Ruskin, 1863

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Robert Chambers' Iron Oar closes tonight at Emerson Dorsch

Robert Chambers, Trackcendence, 2017, steel I- beams, BBs and reclaimed steel buoy (ball) 5 x 5 x 5 feet

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Don't miss the the closing of Robert Chambers' Iron Oar, tonight, at Emerson Dorsch Gallery.

Iron Oar is a playground connoting the Modern, craft, and a reverence to Homo ludens. One can appreciate Chamber's vatic ability to fill a big white box with the ponderous without pretense. The show invites interaction, wonderment and youthful puzzlement.

There are:

1- "Trackcendence," a 5x5x5 feet ball (a repurposed steel buoy), rolling on a sectional track of steel I-beams, occupies half the gallery space.
2- "Spinner, " a reddish 5 foot diameter disc on the floor.
3- "Couplings," two 28x28x28 inches green-painted forged drops.
4- "Lever," a forged stainless steel rod standing on its own.
5- "Ryoanji Sky Mural," a seven-sheet polished aluminum mural, on the gallery wall.

Robert Chambers, Spinner, 2017, cast iron and steel 5 feet diameter x 11 inches tall

First, the pieces speak of their historic raw material, the uneasy intersection of craftspersonship and the machine. This is the age of the steel industry, the blast furnace, Fordism, trade Unions, The New Deal, progress, the future. Thus, the Modern epoch.

Robert Chambers, Couplings, 2017, two drop forge parts, paint, 28 x 28 x 28 inches

On the other hand, Iron Oar exemplifies what one could call "Chambersian."

Here is the craftsman, dada prankster, the object/puzzle engineer fitting the outrĂª in the ordinary, the ponderous in the fragile, the retro in the hereafter, the ingenious in the facile, or better, the child in the grownup. The night of the opening children were static playing with the imposing two tons, 5-feet diameter ball (let's advance that the best proof for good art is a child's reaction to it). "Trackcendence" reminded this repentant adult of a benevolent, awkward giant, joltily riding its metallic spherical frame on this abstrusely narrow track in the shape of a polyhedron— for fear of harming us Lilliputians.

Chamber's objects typically exhibit a to-and-fro between the "found" and the "made" (although Chambers is too much of an engineer to ever leave things exactly as they are). These sculptures proudly evince the making: first, there's the finding. Then comes the flanging, the swiveling and the welding. Then there is the painting, the hot blackening & the polishing.

Rough enough and furbished enough, Iron Oar follows John Ruskins' craftily advice to let the art object speak of the hand that makes it.

Emerson Dorsch Gallery,
5900 NW 2nd Ave
Miami, FL 33127
(305) 576-1278 info@emersondorsch.com

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hegel & the logic of the "real" Barbie

Nyadak, the black Barbie

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This news from Nyadak Thot, the stunning black Barbie from Sudan made me think of Valerie Lukyanova, the white Barbie from Ukraine and this m.bourbaki post from 2012, which applies to both Nyadak and Valerie. Here it goes:
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Do you know Valerie Lukyanova, the "real" Barbie?

Being the "real," she is more than her role model, the famed Barbie Doll:

the Barbie Doll

In what sense is the "real" more than the doll? It's human!

Valerie's impressive transitioning shows she has achieved her doll/ideal in the flesh. She possesses a more than, leaving dollness behind. But wait, isn't this more than not, as well, automatically, a less than?*

The "real" Barbie is sort of a truer version, but being @ this fullness, it immediately enters a perplexing state of vacancy. From now on, nothing can be realer than it.** Undeniably, with this new in-between category Valerie attains what the doll could only aspire to, but the "real" also signals its own lack.

G. F. Hegel has a telling paragraph in his Logic, under the title "Being determinate": 
... in becoming, the being which is one with nothing, and the nothing which is one with being, are only vanishing factors; they are and are not. Thus by its inherent contradiction becoming collapses into the unity in which the two elements are absorbed. This result is accordingly being determinate (being there and so). (p. 133)
This is no galimatias: the being of "real" is determinate. "Being there and so" is Valerie, the "real" Barbie. She finally filled with flesh-and-bones what used to be a mere doll/ideal (caveat: as old Heraclitus suggests things are never static).

Meanwhile, Valerie is petrified in her own determinate "real" category. She's more than automatically stopped in her tracks.

She won't be able to overcome another more than.

Valerie, the white Barbie

The question persists: Now that Valerie embodies the "real," what would a "realer" Barbie be? 

____________________________
*If the human needs dollness to become "real," being human is far from the measure -as it were (a pretty girl is called "a doll"). Meanwhile the doll forever persists in its dollness. ** A "superreal" would not solve the paradox, it would actually augment it: to a "superreal," one merely adds a higher order, "super(superreal)" and so on.