Posts Tagged ‘paintings’
August 9, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
Peyton Freiman’s exhibition “Long Gone and Missing” opens Wednesday, August 10, at Shin Gallery, in New York. Freiman, based in Brooklyn, uses his work to explore “feelings of disillusionment with institutional systems,” with a special fondness for “jejune colloquialisms.” His show is up through September 10.
August 3, 2016 | by Bonnie Nadzam
Revisited is a series in which writers look back on a work of art they first encountered long ago.
In 1974, when they were honeymooning in Atlanta, my parents bought a portrait of Ulysses S. Grant—not the one pictured above, but something close enough. They spent fifty bucks on it: cash they’d won on a bet with my grandfather, wagering that Nixon would not see out his term.
The painting hung above our fireplace in northeast Ohio when I was a girl. It matters only peripherally that Grant was an actual man who lived and died in the nineteenth century; who was the eighteenth president of the United States; and who, as commanding general of the United States Army, led the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy in the Civil War. What matters is how single-minded I found his gaze, his eyes staring down at me—to say nothing of the distinguished crinkle of the eyebrows above them, those bright buttons on his jacket, that thick beard and head of hair, sculpted like cake frosting. Read More »
July 29, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- The hatchet job isn’t what it used to be. To read Tobias Smollett’s book reviews from the eighteenth century is to discover, as J. H. Pearl writes, ever-higher concentrations of venom: “Smollett, who helmed The Critical Review from 1756 to 1763, never minced words in his judgment of whether a particular text was worth the paper it was printed on … All Smollett needed, it seems, was a target for his wrath. And as the pages of the Review attest, targets abounded … Specific reviewers remained anonymous, the better to create the impression of a unified voice, but writers of badly reviewed books tended to blame Smollett, returning their fire on him. It’s easy to understand that anger. Would you want your book called ‘a very trivial, insipid, injudicious and defective performance, without plan, method, learning, accuracy, or elegance; an unmeaning composition of shreds, rags, and remnants … a patched, a pie-bald, linsey-woolsey nothing’? (That was the assessment of a book called A New and Accurate History of South-America.)”
- Because people excel at finding new ways to waste other people’s time, a small but vocal faction of conservative educators and politicians have called on our schools to start teaching cursive again. Tamara Thornton, the author of the 1996 book Handwriting in America, sees the reactionary anxiety at the center of their argument: “Learning cursive has never been just about learning how to express yourself in writing … In the early twentieth century, it’s about following models and suppressing your individuality … We get very interested in cursive when we feel that our morals are in a state of decline, all hell is breaking loose, people are doing whatever they want … And I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch that the sort of people who believe in the standard model of the family get very nervous when we depart from the standard models of the cursive script. So there have been periodic bouts of hysteria about the decline of cursive. And it’s always when we feel that as a society, we’re going down the tubes.”
- The artist Vik Muniz—clearly a very patient and detail-oriented man—has created a series of painstakingly accurate emulations of the backsides of famous paintings. Claire Voon writes, “With all their hardware—the wooden beams, wires, nails, and other knickknacks—the fading stickers, and the inked scribbles from the hands of conservators or handlers, the frames often reveal additional stories to the much-discussed paintings they cradle. You have to wonder if there’s a reason why someone, for instance, scrawled a north-facing arrow and the French word Haut on the Mona Lisa—essentially, shorthand for ‘This side up’ … The Mona Lisa was one of the largest challenges: Muniz had to buy a tree in Tennessee to re-create its frame, making sure to also precisely reconstruct the museum’s own contemporary update: an electronic device that monitors a gap nineteenth-century conservators had closed with a butterfly joint. If that gap widens a single micron, someone will receive a text notification.”
- Given the unhinged chaos that characterizes politics at the moment, why aren’t there more political novels? “My sense is that quite a few writers—and also their readers—feel somehow duty-bound to be in opposition; and what results is a certain lacuna in our collective imagination. Hanif Kureishi has lamented that, unlike in Dickens’s time, there is not one contemporary writer with ‘a sense of the whole society, from prisoner to home secretary.’ But there is often a difficulty for writers who adopt an overtly political stance. A novelist may set out purposefully to make a book that furthers a cause, but it is not likely to be any good, since good books don’t carry messages like sacks carry coal.”
- At the White Plains Annual Reptile Expo, Madeline Cash dissects the strange bond between lizard and lizard keeper: “That unspoken connection no one else could understand, which maybe didn’t even exist, echoed all over the Convention Center. A lizard’s inhuman qualities are its appeal. They are whatever you need them to be—loving, smiling, a good listener — because the relationship is all a projection … When I saw the bearded dragons, my heart swelled. The gold-breasted beasts had the same long mouths carved across their faces that, as a child, I’d understood to be a smile. The vendor handed one over in an attempt to make a sale off my nostalgia. It cocked its head up at me with that permanent grin and it all flooded back.”
July 15, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
In his new exhibition at White Cube, “Self Portraits,” the painter Raqib Shaw insinuates himself into classics by the Old Masters. You’ll find him in the canvases below—carefully modeled after work by Antonello da Messina and Hendrick van Steenwyck the Younger, among others—posing as a joker, a mime, and a ghost lying in his own coffin. Shaw, born in Calcutta, was raised in Kashmir and moved to London in 1998. In his paintings, the critic Norman Rosenthal has written, “Color achieves an almost blinding intensity and precision that exists in both a horrific, and beautiful universe derived from personal experience based on self-knowledge and dream psychology … mixed with a profound love and understanding of the history of visual and poetic culture of both East and West.”
Raqib Shaw’s self-portraits are at White Cube through September 11.
July 5, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Abbas Kiarostami, the Iranian director who made Taste of Cherry, Certified Copy, and a host of other poetic films, has died at seventy-six. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, one of Kiarostami’s contemporaries, told the Guardian, “Kiarostami gave the Iranian cinema the international credibility that it has today … But his films were unfortunately not seen as much in Iran. He changed the world’s cinema; he freshened it and humanized it in contrast with Hollywood’s rough version. He was a man of life, who enjoyed living and made films in praise of life—that’s why it’s so difficult to come to terms with his death.”
- It wouldn’t be a lie to say that Robert Ryman paints white squares—exactly the kind of concept that makes the uninitiated roll their eyes and say, My kid could do that. But your kid could not do this, not even your honor student. As silly as it sounds, Ryman’s canvases force you to reevaluate the whole, like, concept of white: “If you take a close look at the current exhibition at Dia: Chelsea, you quickly realize just how much can be contained within them. With smears and flecks and whorls of paint, built up in some places, washed out in others, the works catch the light in a singular way … The works are best seen when lit by the sun, as filtered down through the Dia skylights. And the light can activate the paint differently during the day, often calling up blue or green undertones.”
- The web in the nineties was a simpler, uglier place, where color schemes grated, links broke, and a MIDI version of your favorite Third Eye Blind song was always just a click away. What explains our nostalgia for all this? Charles Thaxton writes, “It’s now well established that most Internet users experience the web through a handful of large, enclosed platforms and apps … Was the Early Web any better? The pre-platform, pre-mobile Internet was a web of pages and links and counters. The most essential thing about it is the notion that it looked bad. But the bad-looking web is making a comeback. All of a sudden you’re on that clunky-looking webpage again … Nostalgia for the way the web looked is really a sublimated nostalgia for how it felt, for a time in almost everyone’s life when discovery and openness and joy were all more operable. As much as we want to preserve the early Internet in amber, we want to hold on to the feeling of the early Internet even more.”
- Boethius was executed in the year 524, but don’t let that deter you: his De consolatione philosophiae, written as he awaited execution, remains a vital read in troubling times. “Boethius’s task was both personal and communal, for in stoically embracing the decisions of the goddess Fortuna he admitted that death would soon come, but as he was also a refugee from a world that was dying, his manuscript served as an ars moriendi for culture, too. And in subsequent centuries his accomplishment was steadfastly maintained by fellow humanists, laboring in monasteries and libraries dotting Europe, making The Consolations of Philosophy one of the most copied texts of late antiquity, a capsule from one culture’s final moments through the eclipse of the next centuries … It’s an interesting question how much someone like Boethius could anticipate that their world was coming to an end; it’s an important question to ask if we are adequately anticipating it right now.”
- In which John Berger visits a small coastal village in Italy and rhapsodizes about eels: “The women and men of Comacchio are recognizably different from their neighbors. Stocky, broad-shouldered, weather-tanned, big-handed, used to bending down, used to pulling on ropes and bailing out, accustomed to waiting, patient. Instead of calling them down-to-earth, we could invent the term down-to-water. Every year in the first week of October they celebrate a fete known as the Sagra dell’Anguilla (the festival of the eel). The cobbled town center is crammed with stalls of street vendors, come from elsewhere, selling trinkets, rings, seashells, cheeses, madonnas, salamis, dolls at low prices, small pleasures. The inhabitants wander slowly past, fingering the knickknacks, reckoning the small pleasures, and from time to time paying out a few coins. There are also benches and trestle tables where one can drink and eat. There is the smell of food being grilled. Onions, aubergines, peppers, and, of course, eels.”
June 29, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
“Intimisms,” a new group exhibition at James Cohan Gallery, looks at the legacy of the Intimists, a group of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century artists—Jean-Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard among them—remembered for the rich closeness and empathy of their portraiture. The French writer and critic Camille Mauclair defined intimism as “psychologic poetry in painting … a revelation of the soul through the things painted, the magnetic suggestion of what lies behind them through the description of the outer appearance, the intimate meaning of the spectacles of life … the daily tragedy and mystery of ordinary existence, and the latent poetry in things.” The artists in this exhibition aim to further that tradition.