February 6, 2014

"It's excellent art. Realistic. Ought to satisfy those who are tired of trite abstractions."

Said David, in the comments to this morning's post about the "Sleepwalker" statue — of the man in his panties — at Wellesley College.

Been there, done that:



That's Meade, getting statuesque with Duane Hanson's "Janitor" at the Milwaukee Art Museum. That thing dates back to 1973. Here's an article about the restoration of the "beloved" art work:
While on view, Terri lightly vacuums Janitor frequently, but there still is a certain amount of dirt and grime settled in. The very first thing we had to do was address how or if to clean the janitor’s clothing. We thought that it might be possible to take his clothes off and throw them in the conservator’s version of a washing machine, but that’s not the case. We discovered that Duane Hanson constructed the Janitor so that his clothes cannot be removed....

[Senior conservator Jim DeYoung] shared that over the years, parts of Janitor’s outfit have sadly gone missing to the wandering hands of Museum visitors. Jim discussed the ethics of honoring the originality of the artwork as it currently exists, or honoring the intentions of the artist.... For instance, concerning the missing articles in the janitor’s pockets, Jim and Terri felt secure in following their own skills and instinct to find comparable materials to replace the thefted items....
There was so much discussion back in the 70s about the value of Hanson's work, but at this point, no one bothers with this debate anymore. People just love it. Maybe they shouldn't. Maybe they've lost a sense of outrage at being amused — as comfortable museum-goers — at the weariness and dreariness of a workingman.

AND: Look at the magnificent grandeur of the woman — idealized and all head — lording it over the pitiful man. Some curator decided upon that juxtaposition.

37 comments:

Hagar said...

Thefted?

Ann Althouse said...

"Thefted?"

Yeah, I know. I figure it corresponds to "gifted."

As in: I'm gifting my loved ones with sweaters this Christmas.

Not as in: Little Timmy is in the gifted class.

Bob Boyd said...

"Look at the magnificent grandeur of the woman — idealized and all head — lording it over the pitiful man."

That's one way to interpret it.

But maybe the janitor is her father who did all that drudge work so she could aspire to more.

Henry said...

Is that a Cy Twombley in the next room? That's what I want to see.

FleetUSA said...

The picture of the woman is nice, but is she cross-eyed?

surfed said...

The woman in the painting a look of someone just startled and impending terror...

Eric Jablow said...

Panties? Really?

EDH said...

Presently, I'm awaiting sedation for my colonoscopy. Funny how that tightly-whitey sleepwalk statue has new resonance for me.

Bob Boyd said...

@ EDH
Check this out.
Lou Rawls, Colonoscopy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI1go72c5H8

C R Krieger said...

What Eric said.

Regards  —  Cliff

Shouting Thomas said...

I know janitors.

The ones I know don't feel pitiful. Their job classification may make it seem as if they should, but they don't.

The janitors I know are men who have a pretty sensible view of the value of work versus family. Their focus is on home. Work pays the bills. That's it.

The janitor guys don't usually need as much money as we eggheads because they know car repair, carpentry, masonry, landscaping and gardening.

I meet these guys riding my Harley. A lot of them in the audience at gigs, too.

Oso Negro said...

This new style of art has great potential to provoke to my mind. How about someone slap up a statue of Jerry Sandusky putting the sausage to a naked boy right outside Beaver Stadium in University Park Pennsylvania. That should be stimulating. A Wehrmacht soldier shooting a Jewess with child in arms right outside of the German consulate would work for me. I would take some Holodomor-thin starving Ukrainians for the Russian consulate. There are endless possibilities for the Catholics, of course. So many possibilities to make edgy art.

Oso Negro said...

So you let the janitors ride your Harley, Thomas? Or they just have the master key that opens the lock on your garage?

mrs. e said...

I'm with you Thomas. It's telling the adjectives folks use to describe others.

Moose said...

Art, particularly modern art, is exploitive by its very nature. Art gave up on beauty and craftsmanship long ago and is now obsessed with impact and controversy.

David said...

Which one is Meade?

David said...

Yes the janitor is tired and dispirited.

I always thought that a Mr. Clean logo on his shirt would have been a nice touch, even if a little heavy handed.

Unknown said...

A few years ago across the street from Kansas State University in Manhattan Kansas we (myself, wife, and three kids) saw a couple of guys in front of their house (presumably students) having a snowball fight in their whitey tighties. My wife called the police, who said they'd gotten lots of calls but couldn't really do anything.

I now realize they must have been art students. I hope they got a good grade.

MadisonMan said...

In what universe is a snowball fight in underwear a criminal offense, Unknown?

How foolish to bother the police with something like that.

bbkingfish said...

"magnificant grandeur?"..."lording it over the pitiful man?"

Sorry...you'll have to do better than that. Look at her face. Then, try again.

Meade said...

David said...
"Which one is Meade?"

That's me - 2 photos back.

Illuninati said...

Althouse said:
"Look at the magnificent grandeur of the woman — idealized and all head — lording it over the pitiful man."

Somebody's having fun with this one.

Kirk Parker said...

"How foolish to bother the police with something like that. "


But.. but ... but .... Unknown was uncomfortable!!!11

Kirk Parker said...

Meade,

"2 photos back"

Derp. You are one lazy dude!

Robert Cook said...

The large painting of the woman's head is by Chuck Close, and yes, she is cross-eyed.

And that does appear to be a Twombly in the background.

David said...

Meade said.. .

That's me - 2 photos back.


Groveling again, I see.

Meade said...

"Groveling again, I see. "

I'm a lazy slut. Buy my birth control, bitches.

Carl Pham said...

Look at the magnificent grandeur of the woman — idealized and all head — lording it over the pitiful man.

Grandeur like Ozymandias, I think.

Kirk Parker said...

Dangit, Meade, why is there no LIKE button here?

Shouting Thomas said...

@Oso

Never let anybody ride your Harley. First rule of the game.

A janitor friend of mine proved this.

He bought a new Dyna, numbered limited series, and rode it home.

His neighbor pleaded with him to let him ride it, and finally my friend gave in and let him.

The neighbor only made it about 20 years before he struck a large rock and went down, causing about $3,000 damage. He wrote a blank check on the spot.

Shouting Thomas said...

That should be "20 yards" not "20 years" in the above post.

Really makes a hell of a difference, doesn't it?

Ann Althouse said...

Why talk about the janitors you know? This is a sculpture, an artist's vision of a figure in a particular pose, with various attributes that express what the artist means to say.

To paraphrase Magritte: This is not a janitor.

To see weariness and dreariness in Hanson's expression is not to say anything about what I think of actual janitors.

How can you get that wrong?

Shouting Thomas said...

@Althouse,

Other posters have assumed my comments were meant as a criticism of your opinion of janitors.

They were not.

Bob R said...

Hyperrealism is art, but the examples we have been looking at today seem to have about the same artistic aims as a Penn and Teller act. Illusion, practical jokes, meant to startle and amuse. Penn and Teller usually do a better job. They have the dignity of artists working on a small, modest canvas and doing an unusually good job. The "fine artists" we've been talking about today get exhibited with more ambitious art (e.g. two pictures back) and then do a card trick.

Robert Cook said...

http://loiter.co/v/how-to-graduate-from-art-school-animation/

The Godfather said...

I've seen the janitor statue (maybe "experienced" would be a better word). I think it was maybe 5-6 years ago at the Boca Raton art museum. For me, it caused a very peculiar reaction because it seemed so real. I felst as though I should engage this "person".

Is that art? Yes, I think it is, because it caused such a reaction.

BTW, Meade's comments at 11:04 am wins the thread as far as I'm concerned.

Ann Althouse said...

I said nothing about janitors.