Alice Neel was a great artist from New York, working between 1930 and her death in 1984. She bucked the trends of abstraction and conceptualism (not to mention sexism) and produced personal and stylistic figure paintings. This meant she was not taken as seriously as other artists of the times, but the quality of her work and her persistence eventually won her the fame she deserves. It's rare that we get to see a Neel on the west coast, but if you live in Denver, the art museum is having a show of her work.
posted by Greg 12:21 PM
The Rev. Howard Finster died yesterday, on Tony's birthday. This is strange because I had a conversation about his work with Tony over the weekend, cause they're both reverends. If you don't know, Finster was an "outsider artist" from Georgia who painted pictures with words on them, sermons and calls to Jesus. He painted Elvis and Coke bottles and record covers, and built a Paradise Garden in his backyard. He also numbered all his paintings. I was telling the story about the vision that told him to paint. Here it is from his official site: Around 1976 in Paradise Gardens he was painting a bicycle with his fingers and saw the image of a face on the end of his finger. He had a vision. A voice told Howard to paint sacred art. He replied that he could not do art because he was not a professional. The voice asked him repeatedly, "How do you know?... The reverend Howard Finster has followed his vision and the image of the face on his finger become known as his "Resting Souls" figures in his art. His art and his example are great and will be missed.
posted by Greg 12:45 PM
Monday, October 22, 2001
Happy Birthday Tony!!!
Tony - America's greatest living poet. Internet art pioneer. Good buddy!!!!!!
Amy Langfield, a Bakersfield local who is familiar with my love of all things Buck Owens, sent me this funny story about his search for a woman he talked to for a few minutes on the set of Family Feud. Thanks, Amy. Be sure to check out her blog while you're at it.
Finally: I was thinking that I was going to have to write this article, but finally someone else did, and in a magazine called Reason for that matter. It's about how ending the drug war would help us in the war on terrorism. Here's another article from that magazine saying that the drug war is a very bad example to base the war on terrorism on. And don't miss this piece about the terrorism/Gilligan's Island connection.
posted by Greg 11:06 AM
In times like these, one can find some comfort in philosophy. It can help us make sense of chaotic circumstances. Logic and reason are the weapons we must use to combat hysteria, superstition, prejudice, fanatacism, and relativist (I can't spell consequentialist) attitudes. Perhaps now is the time for action more than thought, but until the Franklin Hills Militia is mobilized, all we can do is think. If I hadn't gotten into Art school, I was going to be a philosophy major. I really liked my philosophy classes, but if I'd gone that way I probably would have had the same trouble with the de-constructionists that I had in Art school. They love that destruction. Anyway, check out these quotes from 18th century English philosopher Edmund Burke: "There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men." "It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare." "It is the interest of the commercial world that wealth should be found everywhere." "He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper."
In my previous post, I didn't mean to imply that Balthus was a member of the ashcan school. He wasn't, he was French. The ashcan guys were American. If Balthus had made his paintings in America, he probably would have been strung up. Or Jackie Chan would have kicked his ass. Luckily he was in France where they're a little more sophisticated when it comes to sects.
Have you been checking out Sister Wendy's American Collection on PBS? (There's an unintentionally jarring picture of the Sister Wendy with the New York skyline including the twin towers in the background on the front page, so be ready.) For those who've never seen it, she's an South African/Scottish nun with a vicious lisp who goes around to museums talking about the art, spending a few minutes going in depth about particular pieces. She's great, very insightful and amazingly enthusiastic about all kinds of art. She talks about both the historical context of the art and her personal reaction to it, which in turn can teach us how to look at and appreciate art. Plus she visits LACMA. Above is a pretty famous painting she talks about by George Bellows, a member of the Ashcan School, a turn of the century American realism movement that's one of my favourites. I liked that she talked about this great Balthus painting, despite the fact that he's pretty much a perv: "He is best known for his paintings of young girls on the verge of womanhood."
My real favorite painter from the ashcan school is George Luks:
Luks was known for his brash confident brushwork and down-to-earth subject matter as much as for his ribald language, hard drinking, and love of barroom brawls. Sadly, however, true to his tumultuous life, Luks died in the doorway of a New York bar, having picked his last fight; the newspapers reported that he had died of heart failure while waiting to paint the light effects of dawn on the city.
posted by Greg 10:23 AM