March 28, 2010

"The Butt."

A painting, from a slide show of paintings, supported by this essay by Roberta Smith that argues that the art form known as painting still lives. The essay is flabbier than the ass depicted in the painting. It contains lines like: "And something else greatly reduces the chances of the death of painting: too many people — most obviously women — are just beginning to make their mark with the medium and are becoming active in its public dialogue."

50 comments:

madawaskan said...

How Meade and Ann spent "Spring Break"

Aspen In Sepia

TosaGuy said...

"fomented mostly, but not always, . . ."

ugh....lazy writing by a person who wants us to think she is smart.

if something is "mostly" by definition it is "not always"


The elephant in the room is that the popularity of a particular artistic medium is directly related to the relevance of that medium at the time. Before photography, painting was more vocation than artistic pursuit. Today, the vocational aspect is gone, leaving only the artistic sense of it and few people are capable of truly great art.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Painting is alive and well, just not with actual paint brushes.

Palladian said...

"And something else greatly reduces the chances of the death of painting: too many people — most obviously women — are just beginning to make their mark with the medium and are becoming active in its public dialogue."

In the 6 years I've been teaching, all of my drawing classes have been majority female.

Roberta's been running on fumes for a long time now.

Sofa King said...

"The #1 movie in America was called 'Ass.' And that's all it was for 90 minutes. It won eight Oscars that year, including best screenplay."

Palladian said...

And young artists have always been interested in painting. It's the mediocre teachers, the failed academics who re-christen themselves "curators", and turgid magazine art critics that have talked them out of it.

TosaGuy said...

The bartender at my local watering hole is applying for art school. He is making it a point of applying to those whose facility are either primarily employed as artists or derive significant income from their artistic endeavor. He is avoiding places where the facility teaches because they can hack it as artists.

jayniejaynie said...

Althouse,you are wonderful. Art and painting say plenty, but that butt, whoa .. what it says you may not want to hear.

Jason (the commenter) said...

How can an article about how painting isn't dead ignore the most famous painter in America, probably one the most famous artists in the world, Thomas Kinkade?

David said...

Cheeky.

contractor said...

LOL re Kinkade.

That's a plumber's butt.

Yesterday I decided to do an image of a brain with the hemisphere cleavage as a vagina and the whole thing like an O'Keefe flower.

I'm a straight woman, What does that say?

ironrailsironweights said...

That hairy posterior is gross. Excessive body hair in general is gross ... well, except for one particular type on women. Yum!

Peter

Palladian said...

I love to paint hairy male butts. Painting pictures of them is another matter.

Palladian said...

"well, except for one particular type on women. Yum!"

Peter, will you just buy yourself a merkin already and be done with it?

Joan said...

I hate how the NYT punctuates lists of things with semi-colons when everyone else in the world uses commas.

These are the two sentences that precede the quote that Ann pulled: But what really is questionable, and passé, is the implied ranking of art mediums and the leaving of some of them for dead. None of them ever really, ultimately have much of a monopoly on quality.

She uses the word "really" in two consecutive sentences and no editor caught it? How can you "really, ultimately" have "much of a monopoly" on anything, much less "quality"? The idea of a monopoly on quality is bizarre anyway -- is she trying to say that at times some art forms have been perceived as better than others? If anyone is leaving a particular art form "for dead" is the art critics. Of course that's true that art forms go in and out of fashion -- but it's just as true that there are brilliant artists working in many different categories, and the existence of brilliant painters does not preclude the existence of brilliant sculptors or composers, whether or not their forms are particularly appreciated at the time they are working.

p.t. fogger said...

Oncet upon a time I worked for a small publishing house in NYC that published mostly romances, but also westerns, techo-thrillers, horror, etc. We would hire models to pose for the romance covers, take pictures, and then have artists paint up an over-the-top beefcake picture from the pics. One of our artists (male) was very talented, painted only in oil, and loved doing the work for us because it provided him a rigorous technical exercise that not only allowed him to hone his chops, but paid him to do it. He got to work on depicting the human form, half-nekkid, and he usually threw in something lush and ornate in the background -- oriental rugs, thick, piled drapes, or epic nature scenes so he could go crazy on hyper-detailed brush work. It wasn't photographic like the "The Butt", but, uh, more painterly.

His "legit" stuff was much more toned down & focused (then) on urban NYC scenes, usually small and sometimes quite drab slice-of-life vignettes. They managed to pull off being painterly in a sort of old-fashioned sense while coming across as contemporary.

Unfortunately, I can't remember his real name!! IIRC, "Winter" was his beefcake painting nom-de-brush; haven't been able to run him down & see what he's up to.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

Hey Althousians!

I just got a vision message from God and guess what – in a couple hours he's gonna be right here at my flat!

God asked me to rent the Peter Jackson movie Heavenly Creatures. We're gonna smoke some pot and eat some pizza and watch that movie and then watch tonight's episode of Breaking Bad.

God always brings the best marijuana too, man... He says that he gets all the new strains direct from Amsterdam.

Ron said...

I must begin my painting of a woman's callipygian asspect and entitle it "Tha Badonk Badonk."

Old Dad said...

One of these things is not like the other: "The Butt", the Sistine Chapel, the NYTimes.

kentuckyhusseinliz said...

That would be sexist!

mesquito said...

"Painting may be in a similar place right now, fomented mostly, but not always, by young painters who have emerged in the last decade. They feel freer to paint what they want than at any time since the 1930s, or maybe even the 1890s, when post-Impressionism was at its height."

"In the late 19th century painting was being radically changed by a series of artistic explosions — the newly abstracted figuration of post-Impressionists from van Gogh to Ensor; the extremes of color favored by the Fauves, like the young Matisse, and German Expressionists, like Kirchner; the shattering of representational form by Cubism and Futurism; and finally the flowering of abstraction itself in the work of Malevich and Mondrian."

****

Geez Louise. I hope the NY Times didn't actually pay for that undergrad bilge.

lover and a friend said...

Two fave men of mine have that hirsute hind side. One was an arty genius slash investor who, when I met him, was an auto mechanic doing homecalls. Chubby, grimy jeans with crack, and possibly a cross-dresser.

The other is my darling fiance who is brilliant and, tho' normally averse to manual labor, is working on digging up stumps in his yard for me to garden, as we speak.

Loving hairy men has its artistic upside. I've taken photos of my loved one's chest-forest which, when it's wet, can be configured into intriguing textural patterns.

In high school, my favorite guy friend had a great posterior in his uniform pants, and also somewhat hairy arms and when he rolled up his sleeves just so...

mesquito said...

You know the smart-looking, hip-looking people who come on teevee saying how they subscribe to "The Weekender"? The ones in a variety of hues but all sounding like Rachel Maddow?

This is the manure they get.

Paddy O. said...

So is that Welch, Kaus, or Volokh?

edutcher said...

As to the actual works, the two with the black people are the most interesting, the rest the usual dreck of modern art.

Given that grafitti is the closest most black people get to painting (and some of that, taken of itself and leaving aside the vandalism aspect, is pretty good), it would be interesting to see what an effort to really encourage painting among blacks would produce. Of course, it would involve government funding and that would louse it up.

Moose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moose said...

Sorry - art died in the late 60's and has been lying around galleries and universities unburied, sticking to high heaven ever since. What's now called art is just the noxious fumes of its rotting corpse.

Moose said...

Back in the day when I still paid attention to art and art critics (and their writing) I used to skim Artforum in Borders books. I would nearly get kicked out due to how loud I laughed.

Robert Hughes and Camille Paglia are still 2 of my favorite people who write about art (I won't insult them by calling them "art critics").

rhhardin said...

Mary Cassett did baby butts.

Palladian said...

"Sorry - art died in the late 60's and has been lying around galleries and universities unburied, sticking to high heaven ever since. What's now called art is just the noxious fumes of its rotting corpse."

Hmm... Sounds like somebody failed out of an art career... maybe sometime in the late 60's?

Joe said...

That's called illustration and it's relatively easy and boring.

ironrailsironweights said...

Mary Cassett did baby butts.

Today she would be imprisoned as a child pornographer.

Peter

Chip Ahoy said...

Hahaha. Callipygian asspect. Win!

Jason (the commenter) said...

Moose: Sorry - art died in the late 60's and has been lying around galleries and universities unburied, sticking to high heaven ever since. What's now called art is just the noxious fumes of its rotting corpse.

To this I say: Botero!

Palladian: Hmm... Sounds like somebody failed out of an art career... maybe sometime in the late 60's?

I don't see you naming any great painters to prove him wrong. I've already named two!

Meade said...

Paddy O. said...
So is that Welch, Kaus, or Volokh?

LOL! (X2)

I said...

[de-lurk]
That's called illustration and it's relatively easy and boring.

As an illustrator, I resent that. Some illustration, sure, it doesn't take much time or talent and can be really boring (corporate illustration, anyone?). But there are other types of illustration that are quite involved and more resemble paintings than illustration (i.e. a lot of book cover art, especially for fantasy and sci-fi novels--check out artists/illustrators like Todd Lockwood, John Howe, Alan Lee, Michael Whelan, and others).

[re-lurk]

Michael Hasenstab said...

Yes, the boys have fallen behind(s).

Fred4Pres said...

The paintings are okay, but they are more illustration than fine art. I am not even that much into the art scene and I can grasp that inuitively. There is something about good art that literally takes your breath away and none of those pieces do it.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I, thanks, those are some great examples! It's funny how there are all these debates about the nature of art, but they always take for granted that anything 'commercial' isn't.

Joe said...

That's called illustration and it's relatively easy and boring.

To clarify my comment; the "it's" was referring to this style of illustration (photo copying.) I apologize for lumping all types of illustration together.

This is one area where one word describes vastly different types of artistic expression. Sendak illustrated his books, but his work is genuinely artistic as is the work of many "illustrators."

(Don Wood is another favorite illustrator of mine.)

Palladian said...

"The paintings are okay, but they are more illustration than fine art. I am not even that much into the art scene and I can grasp that inuitively. There is something about good art that literally takes your breath away and none of those pieces do it."

I always think of the distinction as a painting being "closed" and "open". When the term "illustration" is used pejoratively people are often talking about paintings and drawings that I would call "closed". In these sorts of images the artist's intentions are clear, ambiguities have been polished away and the visual becomes subservient to the narrative. There is no room for the viewer to engage past a brief glance that is more akin to reading than looking. There is nothing to do but be pleased and then turn the page. These types of images are also often stylistically mannered in a very systematic and consistent way. Most of the paintings in Roberta Smith's slideshow fit my criteria of "closed" images. The false naivete is meant to be read as an excuse for painting, a wink that is meant to assure the post-modern art lover that "we're not taking this too seriously".

Julius "Ray-the-Raghead" Hoffman said...

So is that Welch, Kaus, or Volokh?

It's Kozinski! HA HA HA HA HA!

Sorry... it is funny if you are high, like I am, with God, right here right now.

God said I needed to change my middle name so I did.

Michael Ryan said...

Damn it! She said she'd never use that picture!

Moose said...

Palladian -

Dude, normally you're on the mark, but here, you're in the weeds.

"Failed" in art, particularly any time after the 70's - is a loose and very goosey term.

You "fail" if you don't "succeed". However I determined I didn't really want to succeed as as a male prostitute in art. So I terminated my career with exreme prejudice.

From my viewpoint in the 80's when I dumped art as a career, all I could see were people who were connected with the academic establishment (people who one year wrote grant applications and the next evaluated other people's grant applications) or people who literally slept their way up the gallery owner ecosystem in NY.

In either case, I didn't want to participate. Now, people with WAY more talented than I could rise above this ecosystem, but I wasn't one of them. Sad? perhaps. Lacking in ambition? Definately. I didn't want to my passion to become my fatal obession.

What has happened in art in the last 25-30 years is at the least a crime and at the most an obscentity.

bagoh20 said...

Art is one of many areas where "intelligence" can be an obstacle to appreciation. I, for one, treasure my stupidity. I cling to it and it serves me well.

p.t. fogger said...

Sez Palladian:

I always think of the distinction as a painting being "closed" and "open". When the term "illustration" is used pejoratively people are often talking about paintings and drawings that I would call "closed". (& etc.)

I think your remarks following this remark are a pretty good definition of what distinguishes illustration as illustration.

And hey, illustration can be very very good: when I was a kid, N.C. Wyeth's "Treasure Island" illustrations were like whole narratives unto themselves. I could make up my own pirate stories just based on those.

And +1 for the "false naivete" smackdown on some of those paintings.

Sigivald said...

Holy crap!

Women can paint?

Why wasn't I informed of this earlier?

(And what sort of person is worried about the death of painting?

The death of Painting As Revered High Modern Abstract Art, perhaps, and good riddance - representational painting of things people actually want to look at was never in any danger.)

Robert said...

"Women can paint?" NO! Not if those "painting" in the article are any indication; what garbage! Reminds me of those middle school art shows run by the local library: over-wrought attempts at copying REAL artists. Cutesy and cloying, whne not outright offensive.

Jen Bradford said...

As a "woman painter" I'm sure she couldn't care less about my work. Everything she chose was self-consciously garish. Bleh.

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