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Archive for the ‘Therapy’ Category

In the early 2000’s green was a fashionable color, meaning it was associated with romantic love.  In Steve Martin’s 2005 movie Shopgirl (he wrote the screenplay) the walls of the shopgirl’s apartment were green. I remember thinking, how odd, I thought green walls were for hospitals.

So it goes with color associations.  We talked about that earlier, in the post about blue.

There have been paintings of solid black (Barnett Newman), solid blue (Yves Klein), solid white (Bruce Nauman) and solid red (Malevich). But solid green?

In the 1990’s the Tate showed large solid color paintings by Maria Lalic, including a green that is, however, not applied evenly and flat but thinly striped. So we can’t count it.  https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/maria-lalic-2639

What is it about green? Why has nobody made a solid green painting? Kazimir Malevich would not have shown a Green Square next to his Red Square in 1915.

On the internet you can look up “color therapy,” and read that green is the most therapeutic color: “This is the most basic color of all in healing. It is the color which you always use first and last.” https://www.aetherius.org/healing-yourself-and-others/color-therapy/    Is that why walking in parks and woods is restful? But then, consider that there’s more hitting the senses in the woods than green-green-green.

A given color will affect us differently in different contexts.

Try this.

It’s 3 feet square.  In what room of your house would you like to see this?  Really?  For how long?

Next, imagine walking unassumingly into a museum or gallery and there it is, it 8’ x 8.’  Your whole visual field is filled, it envelops you, nothing else exists. Here you have green and its complementary color, red, for maximum contrast.  The Malevich juxtaposition in 1915 would have been comical, but here the contrast may give you a profound jolt.

Now let’s take another break from color.  What happens when you switch abruptly between the Renaissance sensibility and the modern sensibility in which we’ve been immersing ourselves here? We will now toggle back again from 2000 to 1500.

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2019/02/18/black/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/red-and-rational/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2019/02/19/those-blues/

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George Stubbs (1724-1806) was sought after as a painter of horses, often shown with their proud owners.  His format is always horizontal, since a horse’s body is long.  To show it in its full glory you needed to portray it from the side, in its longest extension. In his paintings of horse and rider, the horse is more important than the rider, even if it’s the Marquess of Wocestershiresauce.

If the owner of the horse wanted to be shown as more important, however, the format had to be vertical.  Now the Marquess of Watever is shown in full verticality and his beloved horse…oh, wait, how can we get the horse in this picture?  Looks like we have to foreshorten the animal.  That means, the horse has to be shown either from the front or the back.  Well, we can’t have the horse’s hindquarters, the whatsit, poking out towards the viewer, so I guess it will have to be the head.

An example of a foreshortened horse is Joshua Reynolds’  portrait of Captain George K.H. Coussmaker.  The wall sign at the Met says, “Reynolds gave close attention to his portrait of George Kein Hayward Coussmaker, a lieutenant and captain in the first regiment of Foot Guards.  No fewer than twenty-one appointments—and at least two more for the sitter’s horse—are recorded between February 9 and April 16, 1782.  The composition is complex and the whole vigorously painted.”  Complex, indeed.  The  horse’s body is forced into a semi-circle, stretching its head to an anatomically unbelievable length. To show that the head is connected to a horse, Reynolds paints in some hooves,  pointing daintily like a ballerina’s toes.  A tour de force, all for the sake of framing the captain in an elegant arch. He must have been a vain, humorless man.

We get an even more daringly foreshortened horse in Henry Raeburn’s portrait of George Harley Drummond. This horse—and I wish we knew the horse’s name—is shown in complete indifference to the proceedings.  She grazes nonchalantly while the aristocrat is posing for his portrait.  Aside from the anthropomorphizing of the animal, the artist has solved the foreshortening challenge in an ingenious, witty and possibly satirical way.  Really, your lordship, the horse’s hindquarters?!

One wonders if the expression “horse’s ass” was in circulation in Scotland in the early eighteen hundreds.  Perhaps the man in the fine boots had a sense of humor—after all, he must have approved the composition—and hung it in his great entrance hall where he positioned himself to greet his neighboring land owners as they arrived for his party, letting everybody know what he really thought of them.

The Met, once again, stays away from the possibility of satire: “The foreshortened view of the grazing bay horse is the most complex part of the composition, though not the most important.  It is curious, therefore, that the animal’s hindquarters should so prominently displayed.”

Exquisitely painted hindquarters, yes.  But the Met is prudishly polite: the horse’s ass is  obviously the most important part of the painting!

Happy April Fools Day to All!

George Stubbs | The Marquess of Rockingham’s ‘Scrub’, 1762

Joshua Reynold (1723-1792).  Captain George K.H. Coussmaker

Henry Raeburn (1756-1823). George Harley Drummond.

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17feb

Just try!  Look at this and try being bored.  Try harder.

Bruce Boyer, oil on canvas, 30” x 40”

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16septdanstilllife

Dan Goffman never likes his work. He can see that his drawings are not realistic.

But I’m fascinated by it. Could that be because I’m a modernist.  I respond to composition.  Realism?  Not so much.

Ten years ago Dan Goffman suffered a stroke which resulted in partial paralysis and aphasia.  He’s a historian and author with a long scholarly bibliography. Drawing was suggested as therapy and now he draws every day.  I have his permission to show and talk about his work.  “If I hadn’t had the stroke, I wouldn’t have discovered that I can draw,” he says with wry humor.

20160922_144150What you see in this drawing is far from a depiction of objects on a table.  You throw away the realism check-list and instead your eye wanders through this pattern of shapes, textures and negative spaces.  Of all the things he could have focused on, he chose these shapes from the still life set up on the table. They sit on the page with an uncanny sense of rightness, balance and economy. Any concern about “realism” or more “detail” would have ruined the drawing. Do we need the three-dimensionality of the oranges and that bowl?  No.  The ellipse in the upper right corner is enough.  Notice how your eye briefly rests there and then keeps moving through the composition.

Drawing by Dan Goffman, graphite on paper, 30” x 22”

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/reading-a-shape/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/how-it-sits-on-the-page/

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mistakeroom1

The program of this gallery is failed art.

How can we think about this?  What is failed art?

Apparently it’s the artist who decides that what he or she attempted to do ended in failure.

But that can’t be, because the artist then submits the work to the gallery. Doesn’t that mean the work is an interesting failure?  Sorry, that’s an oxymoron.  If it’s interesting, it can’t be called a failure.

Maybe the artist doesn’t find it interesting, but depressing.  Then the gallery would be offering therapy by accepting the work.

This gallery would have to be swamped with inquiries.  How does the curator decide which failed work will get shown because it’s the best failure? Best failure? Worst failure?

When an artist’s failed work is chosen, does the artist then consider herself a success?  At the opening, do the guests congratulate her? Will this go on her résumé?

On the gallery’s web site, http://www.tmr.la/, the word “mistake” is crossed out.  Ah, so that’s it.  There’s no such thing as a mistake.

Or is the word “mistake” crossed out by mistake?

Back to square one.

mistakeroom

An installation view of “Oscar Murillo: Distribution Center,” 2014, at the Mistake Room.

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/seeing-something-awful/

The Mistake Room, 1811 E. 20th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90058

Phone: (213) 749-1200.  Email: info@tmr.la

Wed – Sat     11am – 6pm.     Sun – Tue     Closed

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MondrianGroup

The “Mondrian Class” exhibited paintings for ten weeks, from mid-March to the end of May, at the Ethical Humanist Society in Skokie.

http://ethicalhuman.org/

This was a great opportunity for students to experience hanging a show, a rotating show in this case. The space is not a gallery, per se, but the large meeting room of the Ethical Humanist Society.  The painters had a chance to show their work without costs or complications and the people meeting in that spacious, high ceilinged room with one wall all glass, enjoyed the works and the inspiration it brought them—a winwin arrangement.

EthicalHum1

We got this space because I attended Darwin’s birthday party there in early February, saw the drawings displayed there and had an aha-moment. By coincidence, they were eager to have a new exhibit.  Ta-tah! Not only that, I mentioned that I could give a talk on “Morality in Modern Art” and, ta-tah, there was a day open for a presentation, April 24.  These things happen, you know.  The talk was well received and I hope to give it again this fall, at another venue.

EthicalHum3

Artists showing their work in “alternative” spaces is a well-established strategy.  Eateries of all kinds have been doubling as galleries for a long time.  Now, consider your living room as a gallery.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/04/arts/design/its-an-art-gallery-no-a-living-room-ok-both.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=8&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

EthicalHum2

Shown in these photos are  works by Robert Frankel, Harold Bauer, Keven Wilder and Terry Fohrman.

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RedStudio

Charles Jencks’ book on Post-Modernism was at 700 JE on the library shelf. What a relief, I had to refresh my memory on what he says about Pruitt-Igoe.  But at 700 HO, right next to Jencks, was “Art for Dummies.”  I pulled it off the shelf, hoping to find something to chuckle over after a week of overworking myself.  Hoving!  They got Thomas Hoving to contribute to the For Dummies series?!  I opened the book at random and there on p. 173 under the heading “Is Modern Art Something of a Joke?” I found this wonderful paragraph:

“Modern art is, admittedly, rash, confusing, prone to making one suspect that it’s all a joke, annoying at times, and forever puzzling as to meaning and significance.  Yet, much of it possesses a power and an elegance equal to the greatest earlier movements and styles in Western art.  The real gift of Modern art is that it allowed artists, if they wanted, to go far beyond the rather restricted practice of copying a subject faithfully.  Pure energy could be expressed.  So could mysterious emotion.  It takes dedication and lots of work to come to grips with Modern art, but when you have saturated yourself in it, you will, in time, appreciate the explosive genius of Picasso and the infinite calm and serenity of its most illustrious master, who is, in my opinion Henri Matisse.  He once observed that he wanted to create an art that might be so comforting that tired businessmen would readily turn to it for solace.  Once you gaze at his triumphant Red Studio or Luxe, Calme et Volupté, in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, you’ll see that he succeeded.”

I took it to the circulation desk and checked it out along with the architecture books.  In his Art for Dummies book Hoving inserts some cartoons by Rich Tennant—something to chuckle over, after all.

LuxeCalmVolupte

Henri Matiss,  Red Studio, 1911

Henru Matisse, Luxe, Calme et Volupté, 1904

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