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Showing posts from October, 2010

The luminaries unveiled

Fuller post on Monday morning, but here is a photo from Mount Carroll after the giant luminaries were unveiled, with help of Mayor Carl Bates and Patty McNair, on Saturday evening:


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Van Gogh on lack of sales

From a letter dated October 24, 1888:

“I realize, to the point of being morally crushed and physically drained by it, that taking it all in all, I have absolutely no other means of ever recovering what we have spent.
“I cannot help it that my pictures do not sell.
“The day will come, however, when people will see they are worth more than the price of the paint and my living expenses, very meager on the whole, which we put into them.
“As far as money or finances are concerned, what I want and what I am interested in is to have no debts in the first place.
“But, my dear brother, my debt is so great that by the time I have paid it off, which I’, still sure I’ll succeed in doing, the strain of producing pictures will have taken my whole life, and it will seem to me that I haven’t lived."
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On the (fake) ghosts of Halloween

In honour of Halloween, and also of the project I've just completed that uses a lots of old photos, here is a link to 'The Guardian's slideshow of William Hope, who nearly a century ago was using trick photography to produce 'sightings' of ghosts:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2010/oct/29/haunted-photographs-william-hope-halloween
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Delacroix on individuality

From a journal entry dated 30 September, 1855:

"It is absolutely essential that at some moment in their careers, artists should learn not to despise everything that does not come from their own inspiration, but to strip themselves of the almost blind fanaticism which prompts us all to imitate the great masters and to swear by them alone."

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Interview with Ai WeiWei

As a coda to my Meditation yesterday on Ai WeiWei's installation 'Sunflower Seeds', here is the man himself talking about it for the Tate Gallery. Watch this now before it gets taken down by the powers that be:


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Van Gogh on Japanese artists

From a letter dated September 24, 1888:
“If we study Japanese art, we discover a man who is undeniably wise, philosophical and intelligent, who spends his time—doing what? Studying the distance from the earth to the moon? No! Studying the politics of Bismarck? No! He studies … a single blade of grass. But this blade of grass leads him to draw all the plants—then the seasons, the grand spectacle of landscapes, finally animals, then the human figure. That is how he spends his life, and life is too short to do everything.
“So come, isn’t what we are taught by these simple Japanese, who live in nature as if they themselves were flowers, almost a true religion?
“And one cannot study Japanese art, it seems to me, without becoming merrier and happier, and we should turn back to nature in spite of our education and our work in a conventional world.”
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On 'Sunflower Seeds' by Ai WeiWei

My webbie-talk-ular response to a piece that was installed only a few weeks ago by the Chinese genius.



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Delacroix on Jacques-Louis David

From a journal entry dated September 15, 1854:
“David once said to a man who wearied him with his talk of processes, methods, etc.: ‘I knew all that before I knew anything at all.’”
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On old diction

The Carroll County Mirror Democrat, which is the main newspaper in the place where I'm having my public art event on October 30th, publishes snippets of articles from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, etc. Here's one from 80 years ago that they published in the last issue. Don't you love the formality of it? (This one's for Ted Dawson.)

"A package of sausage was left on our desk at noon with the compliments of the Center Hill Smiths, showing that the butchering season has started, although it is yet a little warm. Thanks, we will try out the sausage for breakfast.

"The high school Commercial Club had its first social "get-to-gether" last Thursday after school. About 20 members, with Miss Barr, enjoyed a weiner (sic) roast at the favorite spot beyond the city park. Several games were played to create an appetite worthy of the good eats that followed. After the last marshmallows had been toasted by the light of the fire, all sang songs until they thought o…

On the luminaries: a year's progress

It's only two days until the luminaries will be unveiled to mark the culmination of the community memoir and public art project. I thought it might be interesting to post some pictures showing how the ideas for the luminaries evolved over the course of the last year.

It started with paper-litho transfers to paper-bag luminaries that I created over a year ago:

The first idea for the Carroll County project was to do transfers of photos of people's faces onto four-sided plexiglass columns:

This idea seemed like it would be too bulky and costly, so it was changed to large intersecting panels of plexiglass without frames:

After the workshops ended, and after discussing it with my collaborators Patty McNair, Pati Johnson, and her husband Michael Johnson, we reverted to the idea of the column format, shown in this rough plan drawing:

And then a watercolour to help visualise how they would be placed:

This is the idea we finally agreed on, and that's how they were constructed:
So it l…

Van Gogh on Tolstoy

From a letter dated September 24, 1888: "(Tolstoy's book 'My Religion') must be a very interesting one, it seems to me. In the end, we shall have had enough of cynicism, skepticism and humbug, and will want to live—more musically. How will this come about, and what will we discover? It would be nice to be able to prophesy, but it is even better to be forewarned, instead of seeing absolutely nothing in the future other than the disasters that are bound to strike the modern world and civilizations like so many thunderbolts, through revolution, or war, or the bankruptcy of worm-eaten states.”

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On looking through old sketchbooks: 22

"Drawing is the cornerstone of the graphic, plastic arts. Drawing is the coordination of line, tone, and color symbols into formations that express the artist's thought."---John Sloan.

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Delacroix on the pleasure of painting

From a journal entry dated October 20, 1853:
“How I adore painting! The mere memory of certain pictures gives me a thrill that stirs me to the depths of my soul.”
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Deborah Doering and the Keiskamma artists revisited

A few months ago, I wrote about a project by a friend of mine, artist Deborah Doering, who was starting a collaboration with the Keiskamma artists in South Africa. These artists, mainly women, started making art several years ago in order to raise money for an AIDS clinic in Hamburg, which is in a valley right on the Indian Ocean between Port Elizabeth and East London. Deborah has just returned from a 15 day trip to begin the project. She was accompanied by Dr. Grace Carreon, shown in the following photos of the clinic:
After making a presentation to the lead artists in the community (there are about 150 artists there altogether), Deborah then began collaborating with the local artists on making a series of paintings that combine Deborah's abstract symbology with patterns that occur in their work:
There are paintings on the ceiling because as they worked, they began to see the resemblance between Deborah's forms and night constellations. After working for a few days together, th…

Van Gogh on charcoal

From a letter dated c. September 17, 1888:
“Tomorrow I am going to draw until the paint arrives. But I am now resolved not to draw any more pictures with charcoal. It serves no purpose, you must tackle drawings with colour if you want to draw well.”
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On Marina Abramovic at the Lisson Gallery

Performance artist Marina Abramovic is having a retrospective of her work at the Lisson Gallery in London. Here she talks about the show and about some of the decisions that led her to create specific pieces of work. I can't that I like her work, though of course she would say that her work in not meant to be "liked", only responded to. But what she does is absolutely sincere, and beyond the intellectual inquiry into 'what does it mean to be an artist', she also creates, accidentally or not, art that does compel and move the spectator.


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Putting the luminaries together for the public art project

On Saturday Patty and I went to Mount Carroll and took the panels with the Lazertran prints on them to the workshop. There, I oversaw my team as they slid the panels into the frames, drilled holes into the lids, and fitted the solar lights into the lids. Here is a short slideshow of the whole process, which only took just over an hour to complete:



Ryan, who is the extremely talented wood craftsman who constructed the frames for the luminaries, is recovering from a recent bout of flu, so it was a sterling effort on his part to drag himself out of bed on Saturday. His skill in getting the frames ready meant that the panels eased into the grooves in the frames in a matter of seconds, and in no time at all we had the first luminary ready to go. The local press is starting to publish articles about the project, and I'll post copies of them as they appear.

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Delacroix on remembering a trip to Morocco

From a journal entry dated October 17, 1853:
“I began to make something tolerable of my African journey only when I had forgotten the trivial details and remembered nothing but the striking and poetic side of the subject. Up to that time, I had been haunted by that passion for accuracy that most people mistake for truth.”
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Assembling the luminaries

In the workshop, Mt Carroll.

Van Gogh on the expenses of painting

From a letter dated August 11, 1888:
“The only choice I have myself is being a good painter or a bad one. I choose the first. But the needs of painting are like those of a ruinously expensive mistress, one can do nothing without money, and one never has enough of it. Painting should thus be done at public expense instead of overburdening the artist. But there, we should keep our own counsel, because no-one is forcing us to work, indifference towards painting being inevitably pretty general, pretty well permanent.”
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On a painting by King Farish

Time lapse film of a painter making a work based on life in the colonias on the Texas/Mexico border:


Construcción Incremental, Juárez - The making of a painting.  www.kingfarish.com from King Farish on Vimeo.

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Delacroix on mediocrity

From a journal entry dated September 28, 1853:

“We do not realize the extent to which mediocrity abounds.”
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On 'Ted Berrigan' by Alex Katz

I've always been intrigued by Alex Katz, never knowing whether he's taking the piss or whether he's in fact one of the greatest living painters. Anyway, in my 40th web-talk of this year, I issued my thoughts on the subject.



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Van Gogh on Degas

From a letter dated July 31, 1888:
“Why do you say Degas can’t get it up properly? Degas lives like some petty lawyer and doesn’t like women, knowing very well that if he did like them and bedded them frequently, he’d go to seed and be in no position to paint any longer. The very reason why Degas’s painting is virile and impersonal is that he has resigned himself to being nothing more than a petty lawyer with a horror of kicking over the traces. He observes human animals who are stronger than him screwing and f—ing away and he paints them so well for the very reason that he isn’t all that keen on it himself.”
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Interview with Neal Jenney

Via ArtNetTV comes this interview with painter Neal Jenney at the opening of his recent show at the Barbara Mathes gallery in New York. He has some great things to say about his work and painting in general:


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Delacroix on Millet

From a journal entry dated April 16, 1853:

“They brought Millet to my studio this morning … the small number of rather similar paintings by him which I have seen show a deep, if pretentious, feeling struggling to reveal itself through an execution that is either dry or confused.”
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