January 01, 2010
Whatever

What do you want to be if you ever grow up? How about an art critic? This one writes for The Nation:

Some of the works on paper use large, simple blocky forms; in others, fields of small marks create a sort of broken, refracted visual texure that’s surprisingly reminiscent of Impressionism. References to landscape are rife. Each of the “Hill Series,” from 1981, contains a single large five-sided shape in black ink, its edges nearly parallel with those of the sheet on which it has been drawn, except that one of its upper corners has been replaced by a diagonal line, like the slope of a hill. There is some bare white paper around all the sides, so that despite the reference to nature that the title insists on, it always remains a closed shape, never becoming a view of something larger. The trick — this short-circuiting of reference and abstraction — is simple but effective, so much so that it could easily have been irritating, except that the execution of it is so blunt and unpretentious that the quizzical feeling evoked by this play, not only between abstraction and image but between earnest concentration and triviality, evokes an almost childlike freshness of vision.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at January 01, 2010 06:23 PM
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Hi-frickin-larious. We're long-time subscribers to THE NATION, and I'd pay double the price if they'd cut about half the content -- the pretentious crapola like what you've excerpted -- and replace it with more from the other half, the thoughtful and worthwhile stuff that keeps me renewing my subscription.

Posted by: Helen Highwater on January 2, 2010 1:46 AM

Reagan's city was certainly child like and his vision was too. Child like enough to burn the nation's hands on a hot stove which the parent, the Republican Party, enjoys holding fast to the burner. While little Ronny merrily paints away with his art set in heaven.

If that art critic wss making an analogy about a "Hill series" painted in 1981 and that wasn't a reference to the boy who worshiped the taxidermist, then I'm making a false analogy. If so, the art critic stinks, however since we dont' have the link, I'll just assume that the analogy holds and leave it to the others to critique me for too easily reading analogies that aren't there. Although I could have said what the art critic said much better.

It happens all the time. For instance, in today's NY Times one of my favorite columnists, Bob Herbert, seemingly disappointed today and instead of one his rants, he wrote about what it was like being a Jets fan. I'm with the folks who told him he didn't know the half of it, that it's much tougher being a Cubs fan.

On the other hand, I rather enjoyed the column today because it seems so relevant. Despite the fact that I've never read the sports page and never will because I don't give a whit about football.

Posted by: Buck on January 2, 2010 7:14 PM

A subscription to *The Nation* isn't a purchase of literary material, it's a payment of membership dues.

Pity, that.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam on January 2, 2010 9:18 PM

My long-held opinion is that most "modern" art and it's sycophants are frauds. Here is a true story: Around 1979, a friend and I visited our city of Dayton, Ohio's excellent Art Museum. Eventually, I found myself in a room of "modern" art, standing on a large piece of flat-black-painted plywood that was lying on the floor. After a few minutes the guard came over and ordered me to get off that valuable work of art. Turns-out that I had accidentally circumvented the velvet ropes cordoning-off what was an artistic display. I believe my shoeprints only added to the value.

Posted by: on January 3, 2010 1:17 AM

Jerry, I believe the purpose of the article is to get artists to kill themselves. They'll have spent years developing skills, style, insight and so forth, fighting off self-doubt, scrambling after horrible jobs to fund their pursuit only to find that gratuitous vandalism with a coping saw and a piece of plywood is what really catches the attention of the critical community.

Sadly, that appears to be the editorial mission of The Nation, which in its present incarnation exists to smother liberals in scalding fatuity and epistemic collapse.

Posted by: Jim on January 3, 2010 6:54 PM
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