October 10, 2018

"A game of brinkmanship began when the Musée d’Orsay here invited Julian Schnabel to choose paintings from its 19th-century collection to exhibit alongside his own works of art."

"At a certain moment the museum said: You can’t have this or that painting, so I said I can’t do it,' Mr. Schnabel said in a recent interview at the museum. 'I thought, if I can’t pick the paintings, there’s no reason for me to say that I picked the paintings.' The American artist and filmmaker, 66, had his eye on works by four artists in particular — Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Cézanne — which the museum did not want to move from their usual places."

In the end, Schnabel got everything but the Cézanne for the show, described here, in the NYT.

The article doesn't say which Cézanne was so firmly unmoveable, and I don't think it's the Cézanne mentioned in this paragraph (which confused me):
The earliest of [Schnabel's] works in the show is the large-scale “Blue Nude with Sword” from 1979, the first figurative, as opposed to abstract, plate painting that Mr. Schnabel made. It hangs alongside Cézanne’s much smaller tableau “La Femme Étranglée” (“The Strangled Woman,” 1875-1876), with which it shares a similar red, white and blue palette.
I was struck that the NYT would allow such a blurry, distanced hint at violence against women in this article. Women are strangled, not just in the Cézanne painting...



... but in the newspaper that also, when it's in the mood, tells us about the women protesters who scream about our subordination. But in the museum, the men dominate as usual. Schnabel is a man with the power to compare himself to anyone he likes and he likes all men — Van Gogh, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cézanne.

But at least Schnabel's nude woman isn't strangled but wields a sword. No! Faked you out: Schnabel's "Blue Nude with a Sword" is a man:


What's he aiming that sword at? A curled up red dog? A pile of shit? I don't know, but why, with all those phallic symbols — the pillars, the sword — do we see no genitalia between his legs? Or is that the point — "Blue Nude Without Testicles"?

Are you enjoying the Gender Studies at Althouse this morning?

44 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

(Schnabel does not seem to be gay: He has married and divorced 2 women and have 5 children by them.)

tim in vermont said...

Maybe the sword is compensating for something.

Karen of Texas said...

Entrails. It's a pile of entrails. Disemboweled by a nutless nude. What a way to go.

Henry said...

They better not try that with Banksy.

Marc Lowenstein said...

Yes.

Fernandistein said...

A curled up red dog? A pile of shit?

If you can't tell whether it's a dog or a pile of shit, it must be art.

If you can't care whether it's a dog or a pile of shit, you might be a deplorable.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

What's he aiming that sword at?

Obviously a ribeye steak.

Darrell said...

What's he aiming that sword at? A curled up red dog? A pile of shit? I don't know, but why, with all those phallic symbols — the pillars, the sword

A child, too small to see, giving him a blowjob.

Unknown said...

"but why, with all those phallic symbols — the pillars, the sword — do we see no genitalia between his legs?"

He's blue, so maybe it's just cold out.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Christine Agro’s career as a pet psychic to the stars started with yoga classes and a yoga student for the famed fashion photographer Bruce Weber.

The Weber family introduced Ms. Agro to Grace Coddington, the fashion icon and creative director at Vogue, who referred her to Buffy Birrittella, an executive vice president at Ralph Lauren,...Ingrid Sischy, the editor in chief of Interview, Joan Allen, the actress, and Julian Schnabel, the director and artist,...her clientele skews toward the glamorous,...a world devoted to the power of the convincing fantasy (often a pricey one — in this case, $100 per half hour).

Some might wonder if Ms. Agro brings her outer-ether clients compassion and common sense,...there are those who would follow her instructions off a bridge because they were true believers in a gift, or true believers...."

- The New York Times, giving us all the information necessary to see the NewAge cult world, as it is, and not "the convincing fantasy" of hippie flakes most think I have a hard-on for.

chickenlittle said...

Remember that famous Fleetwood Mac album where Mick Fleetwood hung his out to dry? Is that what you wanted to see, Althouse?

EDH said...

The image I see is of an old, rich, white artist with untied sneakers basking in his privilege while a black man mops the floor.

Oh, that's the photo above the NYT article.

chickenlittle said...

To continue the “game of chicken” metaphor raised by Althouse in the context of the Kavanaugh hearings — which side drove off the cliff?

AustinRoth said...

To paraphrase, art politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.

EDH said...

Damn, I left out "entitled".

traditionalguy said...

I for one praise these Gender Studies Of the two genders that are real. All of the other 60 + pretend genders need not apply.

n.n said...

Female or neo-female? Male or neo-male? Perhaps transgender/transvestite. This is NYT's homage to the physical (as opposed to behavioral/orientation) bands of the transgender spectrum. Anyway, #NoJudgment, perception is malleable, and many were spoofed.

Ralph L said...

I assume "plate painting" refers to the 2 separate planes of the canvas he used to distract attention from the vicious, ball-less figure.

n.n said...

Of the two genders that are real

We are lost in semantic drift. It wasn't so long ago that sex was binary: male and female, and reflected to a genotype; and gender (or gendered): masculine and feminine, respectively, was a phenotype, a spectrum of physical and behavioral (e.g. sexual orientation) attributes.

Nonapod said...

Seems presumptious to put a contempory artist side by side with the greats.

Ann Althouse said...

"plate painting"

Schnabel glued broken plates to the surface of his paintings to create a very heavy texture on which to paint. It was a big deal in the 80s in NYC, as I remember.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann Althouse said...

"(Schnabel does not seem to be gay: He has married and divorced 2 women and have 5 children by them.)"

He still seems like it to me. I was talking about marriage with a gay friend a few days ago and we decided the parameters, as gays define them, are too fluid to preclude it - even if they've had a wife, wives, or kids. I mean, gay men do have kids - somehow - and I haven't seen a gay "marriage" yet that isn't open, usually to the point of hilarity, so I don't know what anybody's doing, except to say, I'm not surprised somebody came up with this 57 genders thing, to try to explain something, because it acted as a kind of sunspot, defining my entrance into blinding ignorance.

I needed to know.

n.n said...

The first scene depicts a figure with a wig, in a dress, perhaps a neo-female (or feminine male). The second scene depicts a figure with its back turned to the observer, perhaps an Amazon warrior, or a neo-male. These are masterful works of art that commit violence on human perception. The poignant symbolism for today's sex and gender conflicts, even for abortion rites and selective=child, is unmistakable.

Ann Althouse said...

@Crack

I used "seem" for a reason. The wives don't prove he's not gay. The big blue male nude made me want to look to see if he's gay, and I wanted to know because the depiction without genitals just looks really wrong and bad to me. Why show a man in that position with his legs spread wide and crouching and on pillars if looking up at his testicles was something you DIDN'T want us to do? Maybe he's saying I'm not interested in men's balls. Really, I'm not. You can see that I'm not. I read that as protesting too much.

Henry said...

Schnabel glued broken plates to the surface of his paintings to create a very heavy texture on which to paint. It was a big deal in the 80s in NYC, as I remember.

When I got my MFA in the late '80s he was the poster child for everything wrong with the New York art world. He too obviously seemed to be an untalented self-promoter. But that was before Jeff Koons took the idea of self-promotion and built an empire with it.

That was also before Schnabel directed Basquiat, which is a terrific movie.

Ralph L said...

His obvious steroid use led to testicular atrophy.

n.n said...

It's a blue Amazon warrior or some variation. All those phallic symbols -- the pillars, the sword, the fingers, the outstretched arms -- visually compensate for a lack of male attributes in the neo-male transgendered figure. The back turned to the observer heightens the mystery, and violence committed on our perception. It's a distasteful... artistic parody of #MeToo.

Richard Dolan said...

"Are you enjoying the Gender Studies at Althouse this morning?"

Your writing is clear, focused and cant-free, with lots of irony and humor thrown in for good measure. You'll never be any good at Gender Studies.

Bob Boyd said...

Is that red object not a bloody head he has just taken and dropped?

Maybe the Blue Nude has no testicles because it's Kathy Griffin.

John Tuffnell said...

Brinksmanship: the art or practice of pursuing a dangerous policy to the limits of safety before stopping. Good thing someone backed down, else we might not have survived.

Alternative headline: Artists being drama queens.

Yancey Ward said...

"but why, with all those phallic symbols — the pillars, the sword — do we see no genitalia between his legs?"

Shrinkage- he has been swimming.

JAORE said...


Are you enjoying the Gender Studies at Althouse this morning?

More than the boring, one-dimensional and tedious diversity/sexual harassment training foisted on us during my working years.

Jack Wayne said...

This work of art is exactly the reason I never go to places that feature works of art.

JAORE said...

Oh yeah, the blue man is a figment of Pajama Boy's imagination. He sees himself as a fearless, and victorious warrior against.. against... something formless, but BAD!

No genitalia are showing because they are life sized.

Yancey Ward said...

Can one imagine a hundred years from now a living artist choosing Schnabel works to display alongside their own? I can't.

Laslo Spatula said...

I remember thinking Julian Schnabel's film "Basquiat" had some very good moments.

I have a hazy memory of a scene of someone bicycling through a suburban street, and the point-of-view shot up through the trees at the sky against the intro to Psychedelic Furs' "India": in my memory it is beautiful.

I'll have to look it up and view it again, to see how much my memory has beautified the palette of that scene.

I am Laslo.

Jupiter said...

I know that living well is supposed to be the best revenge, but I would really enjoy watching Julian Snowball getting run over by a garbage truck full of his "works".

WK said...

I'll have to look it up and view it again, to see how much my memory has beautified the palette of that scene.

It wasn’t indelibly imprinted to your hippocampus?

Ann Althouse said...

"Your writing is clear, focused and cant-free, with lots of irony and humor thrown in for good measure. You'll never be any good at Gender Studies."

Thank you. I'm showing the way. It's okay if other gender-studiers don't follow me. I hate followers.

Unknown said...

Basic question from a farm boy (w/degree in Math + Nuclear Engineering via Rickover), who's been around the world 50 or 60 times:

Who sees "Blue Nude with a Sword" & says, "Boy, I just gotta have that painting up on my living room wall"?

Two-eyed Jack said...

I liked his movie "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
It is about a man who, due to a stroke, can only blink one eye. Think of the challenge of making that into an interesting movie!
On the other hand, his broken plate paintings, which I saw at Berkeley in the 80's, are pretentious crap.

daskol said...

Maybe it's a bit gimmicky, but his plate paintings are really interesting to look at, with some of them really striking. I don't know about blue nude, but check out the portraits.

daskol said...

He comes across as kind of macho (for an artist) to be suspected for being gay. Just because he paints, including flowers? Maybe that's why he's got to glue smashed plates all over his canvasses, to look a bit tougher.

Two-eyed Jack said...

I think that the point of modern painting is to create a distinctive look, which, if it catches on, can be replicated without a great deal of trouble into a distinctive, but somewhat varied, trove of paintings that can be sold to collectors. The broken plate paintings fit this model, in that they are uniquely his, but don't have much to recommend them aesthetically or intellectually. Someone like Lucien Freud or David Hockney or Chuck Close seems a lot more rewarding to look at if you want to look at portraits.