Max Gasparininudo venezia (201X)

When Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps premiered in May of 1913, the stir it caused in the audience is usually framed as a riot.

For me such responses are in keeping with my own perspective on what constitutes Capital A Art. (I recall the feeling of my blood freezing in my veins when I first encountered Emily Dickinson’s reply upon being asked as to how she defined ‘poetry’–if I read something and it makes me feel as if the top of my head has been physically removed, I know that is poetry; if I read something that makes me so cold that no fire will ever warm me, I know that is poetry.

I’ve always thought of Capital A Art as a point beyond which there can never be a returning to the way things were before the apprehension of the work.

One of the things, I’m realizing as a result of being back in school is that that’s not exactly a holistic perspective. It’s problematic in the same way that Isaac Newton’s if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants remark. [It’s not only the obsequiousness that rankles me, it’s also both the facts that Newton famously cribbed most of what he’s most famous for from Leibniz and the completely bollocks Great Men of History ™ narrative.] (Here I am reminded of Stephen Jay Gould’s comment on Einstein.)

There is absolutely an art to preserving a particular methodology; also: efforts to further improve and refine elements within a given tradition.

But…

Increasingly–at least in academia (if my program is at all representative of wider treads), there’s a push toward art made about Art. (Gasparini’s painting is certainly an example.)

You’d think this push would serve greater inclusiveness. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it plays out like that in practice.

When art is made to address Art, there is an emphasis on the conceptual as the primarily arena for determine the merits of work. This, of course, privileges those who arrive first on the scene. (Typically, those with more available resources–i.e. the more privileged–have a decided advantage.)

Conceptually, Gasparini’s paintings tend to be rote, lazy portraits. The above is a cut above the rest. I think you could argue that there’s a firm grounding in the interplay between the history of Italian painting and sculpture (particularly statuary), as well as a superficial exploration of the sculptural potential of painting* and there appears to be some consideration regarding the boundaries between painting and photography (to me the pewter portions resemble early tintypes).

Still, I have to wonder about the ramifications of presented women’s bodies in this fashion–decapitated, legs amputated, passively recumbent; further, the emphasis on they physicality sans any sort of interpersonal context doubles, if not triples the explicit objectification acting in the work.

And I think that’s the crux of my critique: the revolution will only ever be embraced if it can be televised. (Note: how Stravinsky never again managed to achieve the same caliber of work again.) Also: work that seeks to refine elements of a particular methodology directly benefits from exploiting what pre-extant work has already accustomed the viewer to expecting.

In short, being revolutionary will only benefit your art career if you’re willing to sell out; and making work similar to preceding work only benefits those who feel the work is self-justifying in and of itself–instead of pursuing any sort of singularity of deeply experience personal vision.

All that being said: I still enjoy gazing at this image. Perhaps that counts for more than I’m willing to concede just now.

*This may not be something that applies in this case but as there are several exceptionally talented painters in my class, I’ve been exposed to the work of folks like Thornton Dial and Anna Betbeze–notions of boundaries between sculpture and painting have been the easiest way for me to engage with the work. (I’ll be the first to admit that this may be a case of a hammer seeing everything in the world as a nail…)

Tamara de LempickaLes deux amies (1923)

I’ve realized that the art world is neither as progressive or avant garde as I would’ve hoped.

Invariably, when the subject turns to how to hold shitty male artists accountable for their exploitative fuckery, someone asks when criticism of him as a person will lead to the ‘cancellation’ of his work.

This is a straw man argument–no one is suggestion that Picasso be excised from the canon; instead: the proposition is that we maybe mention that his works are full-throated missionaries of misogyny. Given that fact, it might be responsible to make this explicit to consumers of his work.

But I think I’m just going to ignore the straw man argument and treat the supposition as serious: why the hell would you ever need fucking Picasso when there’s Tamara de Lempicka?

Louise Bourgeois & Tracey EminJust Hanging from DO NOT ABANDON ME (2009-2010)

Whether you think you know these artists or not, I’m pretty sure you do. Bourgeois was responsible for that unsettling giant spider sculpture Maman & you’ve almost certainly seen documentary photos from Emin’s Exorcism of the last painting I ever made (here and here).

In this collaboration between the two Bourgeois painted watercolors and then Emin added line drawings. (Interestingly, it took Emin two years to decide what to do with her part and then executed all the drawings in a single day.)

Originally, I was going to reblog this post from the always astute @psyche8eros. In the process off trying to figure out the date, I saw the above image and had a stronger reaction to it.

In the context of the image I was going to post and then this image and the title of the collaboration, there’s this sort of histrionic romantic fatalism. That feeling reminded me of a high school English teacher who found Romeo and Juliet “far-fetched” due to the fact that “no one ever died of a broken heart.” (This was the same teacher who informed me “life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel” to which I responded immediately: but how can anyone go through life without feeling?)

These are two questions I’ve carried with me ever since:

  1. Can you really die from a broken heart?
  2. How can anyone go through life without feeling?

I saw this post the other day:

This living-with-myself is more than consciousness, more than the
self-awareness that accompanies me in whatever I do and in whichever
state I am. To be with myself and to judge by myself is articulated and
actualized in the processes of thought, and every thought process is an
activity in which I speak with myself about whatever happens to concern
me. The mode of existence present in this silent dialogue with myself, I
shall now call, solitude. Hence, solitude is more than, and different
from, other modes of being alone, particularly and most importantly
loneliness and isolation.

Solitude means that though alone, I am
together with somebody (myself, that is). It means that I am two-in-one,
whereas loneliness as well as isolation do not know this kind of
schism, this inner dichotomy in which I can ask questions of myself and
receive answers. Solitude and its corresponding activity, which is
thinking, can be interrupted either by somebody else addressing me or,
like every other activity, by doing something else, or by sheer
exhaustion. In any of these cases, the two that I was in thought become
one again. If somebody addresses me, I must now talk to him, and not to
myself, and in talking to him, I change. I become one, possessing of
course self-awareness, that is, consciousness, but no longer fully and
articulately in possession of myself. If I am addressed by one person
only and if, as sometimes happens, we begin to talk in the form of
dialogue about the very same things either one of us had been concerned
about while still in solitude, then it is as if I now address another
self. And this other self, allos authos, was rightly defined by
Aristotle as the friend. If, on the other hand, my thought process in
solitude stops for some reason, I also become one again. Because this
one who I am is without company, I may reach out for the company of
others–people, books, music–and if they fail me or if I am unable to
establish contact with them, I am overcome by boredom and loneliness.
For this I do not have to be alone: I can be very bored and lonely in
the midst of a crowd, but not in actual solitude, that is, in my own
company, or together with a friend, in the sense of another self. This
is why it is much harder to bear being alone in a crowd than in
solitude–as Meister Eckhart once remarked.

–Hannah Arendt, Responsibility and Judgement

“A true solitude is not unbearable since it allows for otherness.”

— Hélène Cixous, Readings: The Poetics of Blanchot, Joyce, Kafka, Kleist, Lispector, and Tsvetayeva 

I‘m someone who requires a great deal of solitude in order to function; by the same token: I loathe loneliness. (I frequently refer to loneliness as being akin to buzzing florescent light tubes. You can tune them out and completely forget they’re there–but if someone says: hey, how do you stand that noise… it’s back and the only thing you can think about.)

It’s rare but there are several folks I’ve met that I can experience solitude with them in the same room. (Most people just make me feel increasingly alone the more time I am compelled to spend with them.)

That’s probably why this particular piece resonates with me so much: from one vantage it’s maudlin romangst–the idea that if you abandon me it will lead to my mortal undoing; it’s also, from another vantage: understandable given the losing of someone with whom you can share solitude.

Agnieszka Handzel-KordaczkaCosmos (2016)

The way these figures are rendered is very similar to another artist; unfortunately–for the life of me, I can’t recall whom.

Thus, I am going to describe this as what you’d get if you told an intern from the art department of a Tim Burton movie to draw Maleficent fucking Capt. Jack Sparrow except draw them in the style of Aeon Flux.

The backdrop is what you’d get if Mark Rothko challenged the Bauhaus painters to a jousting competition.

There’s even a touch of that thing they do in hentai where they show sexual penetration as if they camera were inside whatever orifice is being penetrated.

Each distinct element is–in and of itself–unappearling; yet, combined… they form something a good deal more than the sum of the parts.

In fact, this painting stands out from the rest of her work: it’s more accessible but less resolved. (Honestly, to me here style is particularly well suited to the way I visual things when I read Camus, Moravia or Ferrante.

[↖] Jean-Baptiste HuongUntitled (201X); [↗] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↑] Source unknown – Title unknown feat. Victoria Daniels (201X); [←] @graveyrdslutTitle unknown (2017); [→] Source unknown – Title unknown (2013); [+] Erika LustXConfessions Vol. 4: A Talk Too Dirty feat. Poppy Cox & Dean Van Damme (2015); [↙] Abby WintersTitle unknown (2005); [↘] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↓] Fabio BaroliSujeito da Transgressão #4 (2011)

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