Friday, August 16, 2013

ART FRAUD

"What is robbing a bank compared to founding a bank?"
                                                            -- Bertolt Brecht

This morning's newspapers bring the fun story of a massive art fraud, in which 63 "newly discovered" masterpieces by the greatest abstract expressionist painters (Rothko, de Kooning, Pollock, Motherwell) turned out to be forgeries, painted by a local artist in his garage.

fake Jackson Pollock

The paintings were sold over a 15 year period by prestigious art galleries for more than $80 million. 

The New York Times reports, "How imitations of the most heralded Abstract Expressionists by a complete unknown could have fooled connoisseurs and clients remains a mystery."  No it doesn't.  Not in the least.

See if you can spot the worst fraudsters in this food chain:  The painter who created the fakes first attempted to earn a living selling his own work on the streets of New York, but ultimately turned to painting masterpieces instead.  He was paid $5,000 to $7,000 for each painting.  His fakes were then sold as originals by Glafira Rosales, an obscure art dealer, who reaped millions of dollars in profits, peddling them to venerable Manhattan art galleries with distinguished reputations, such as Knoedler's.  The venerable art galleries then reaped even greater profits, reselling the paintings to Wall Street executives and investment bankers. (For example, Knoedler's sold $63 million worth of the paintings, keeping its "fee" of $43 million and paying only $20 million to Rosales.)  The Wall Street executives could afford the paintings because the executives had become fabulously wealthy using slippery tactics to manipulate the financial system at huge social cost to pension funds, home owners with mortgages, and individual investors.  Because the Wall Street executives had no personal taste for art, they paid huge fees to consultants and advisors who claimed to have impeccable judgment and great expertise.  These advisors would never stoop so low as to purchase art from a painter selling his work on the streets of New York. 

Ah, but the nest of parasites does not end there.  There is now a blizzard of law suits from the purchasers of the fakes, who are indignant at being defrauded.  My initial reaction to these lawsuits was, "If you were inspired by the beauty of the picture when you first bought it (as you claimed in your press releases) it looks exactly the same now, so sit down and shut the fuck up."

However, one must keep in mind that these lawsuits are likely to generate millions of dollars in fees for large corporate law firms, and as a lawyer I don't want to write anything that might discourage this worthy outcome.  How else could law firms afford to do pro bono work for impoverished artists who sell their work on the streets of New York?

 

115 Comments:

Anonymous JD said...

Not exactly hard to make a fake of something that didn't take much talent to make in the first place.

I'm sorry. I know, that was harsh. I don't have much taste for abstract art. It takes a whole lot more study and practice to create a good realist work.

8/16/2013 1:10 PM  
Blogger ARMAND CABRERA said...

TO be fair Tony Tetro made a career of forging old masters along with modern painters and it took 30 years to catch him, so its obviously not that much of a skill problem to copy realist work.

8/16/2013 2:22 PM  
Blogger Larry MacDougall said...

Poetic justice I say - any artist who can stick it to those Wall Street snakes is okay with me.

8/16/2013 4:21 PM  
Blogger Stanley Workman said...

http://acaseformarcbreed.blogspot.com/

8/16/2013 5:59 PM  
Blogger Donald Pittenger said...

If our assignment is to play a blame game, I nominate the forger and Rosales, both of whom according to your account knew for sure that works were fakes. The rest of the bunch, whatever one thinks of them in political terms, seem to have been ignorant, careless, or too trusting.

8/16/2013 7:27 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

I always find the art experts, critics, and consultants the most deplorable in any and every situation. If I were a lawyer, I'd be salivating at the thoughts of pelting them with hostile questions on the witness stand....

"So tell me...was this fraud or ignorance on your behalf?"

8/16/2013 8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knoedler must have known something was a bit off if their professional client was willing to take only 20 million out of sales totaling 63 million.

8/16/2013 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and the Pollock, unlike most of the real ones, looks like crap.

8/16/2013 10:37 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

JD and Armand Cabrera-- I do like the work of a number of abstract painters, despite my view that abstraction did not age gracefully, and ended the century in something of a shambles. I think it's a lot easier to forge bad abstract work than good abstract work, and it's generally easier to forge abstract work than work that requires substantial technical skill. But I recognize that there have been forgers in all categories.

Larry MacDougall, Donald Pittenger and etc, etc. -- I suppose a lot depends on the kind of fraud that offends you most. One of the great things about this anecdote is that it offers us a full catalogue of human fraud. There is both legal fraud and moral fraud; there are consultants who peddle fake expertise in a field with no objective aesthetic criteria; There are wealthy oligarchs who delude themselves into believing they are aesthetically sensitive. There are petty thieves like the original painter, and major felons like the art dealers, and Wall Street crooks who some would say should have their ill gotten gains siphoned off by whoever can appeal to their vanity. There is quite enough conniving and duplicity surrounding art so that we can all pick the flavor that appeals to us most.



8/17/2013 12:12 AM  
Blogger Michael Hall said...

Like.

8/17/2013 12:16 AM  
Blogger Joss said...

Rothko, de Kooning, Pollock, Motherwell, all seem lame to me, heavy on novelty, or concept and weak on a refined beautiful visual language. Well, beautiful to me anyway. Kline, early Mondrian, Kupka, Hodgkin, among countless others are a world apart. People who can't appreciate any abstract work just seem immature. Very entertaining and thought provoking post as usual.

8/17/2013 3:47 AM  
Blogger K said...

The Wall St guys probably bought them as investments and inflation hedges.
Heh.

8/17/2013 4:37 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Stanley Workman-- Marc Breed seems like an interesting character but I wouldn't buy a Picasso from him.

Anonymous-- Others have reached the same conclusion about Knoedler's, and are suing partially on that basis. The interesting question is how many other "established" galleries operate in the same larcenous fashion if you'd just scratch the surface. I think a great many of them deal in smoke and mirrors, but their credibility (and profit margin) depend on creating the illusion of solidity and objectivity. I have to believe that many of the victims who are snookered by such trappings deserve what they get.

8/17/2013 6:44 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

K-- I'm sure the Wall Street guys did believe they were buying a good investment, but that's not the explanation they gave in interviews on society pages. As wealthy media mogul Peter Brant put it when explaining why he collected the work of Jeff Koons:"My whole philosophy of life revolves around aesthetics."

Michael Hall-- Many thanks.

Joss-- I like Kupka's representational work more than his abstractions, but I think it's interesting the way his representational roots show up in his later work. I was planning to offer a few thoughts about him one of these days. You are a little harder on Motherwell and de Kooning than I would be. To the extent they are "weak on a refined beautiful visual language," I would say refinement may be the last thing we look for in a pioneer. Thay made some bold, rough choices and paid a price for it at the beginning. The artists who followed in their wake to refine and polish those early choices don't seem to have advanced the dialogue much.

8/17/2013 7:04 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

" Why don"t they just hang their money on the their walls?"
Andy Warhol

8/17/2013 7:41 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

People who can't appreciate any abstract work just seem immature.

Well, I can't think of very much positive to say about people who elevate artisan design to the level of high art, either. I'm sure it could make a pretty piece of jewelry in the right hands if that's what you like, though.

8/17/2013 11:54 AM  
Anonymous AJA said...

Thanks for the laugh. Reminds me of Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? where the painting is most likely authentic, but isn't authenticated by the gallery owners.

8/17/2013 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Wallartidea said...

Love the post.

8/18/2013 4:07 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/19/2013 6:20 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

David: "if you were inspired by the beauty of the picture when you first bought it, it looks exactly the same now..."


if i bought a - previously unknown - Leyendecker painting which turned out to be a fake i'd be annoyed too, even if it was still a beautiful work and indistinguishable from an original stylistically.

being duped by a well done fake doesn't automatically mean the collector has no 'eye' and is an aesthetic poser.

8/19/2013 6:22 AM  
Blogger Walter Plitt Quintin said...

I'm laughing until now with this post. I think your writings deserve to be transformed in a book - That I certainly would buy.
Thank you, Mr. Apatoff.

8/19/2013 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Kurt said...

Interesting. This parallels one of the plot lines in Tom Wolfe's new book, Back to Blood.

I'm an abstract painter myself - but that doesn't mean that I can throw together any old junk and call it art.

The color, form, and balance have to have some unity - and beauty. If I don't achieve that, I paint over the canvas and start from scratch.

We may be confusing "abstract art" with "modern art". Most realistic paintings start in the abstract and procede from there. Modern art, according to Wolfe, is what is decided by a small group of (mainly) New York Art Critics.

One idiot in a local gallery asked me if I had ever "shown in New York". Now, I answer this question by saying that I have shown in the "Kurtzman-Elder Gallery" in New York. (Fans of MAD magazine will get the irony.)

I like Wolfe's recurring theme: "creativity without skill = modern art".

8/20/2013 12:06 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Tom-- An excellent question. Warhol had a way with words (although he was certainly a beneficiary of this system).

Etc etc-- It could be argued (although perhaps not here) that there is a lot to be said (although perhaps not in today's society) for "artisan design." The designs and patterns prevalent in ancient Egyptian society made for an astonishing decorative environment. So much of our view today (on computer monitors and video screens is an information mash up with no overriding sense of proportion or balance or harmony.

AJA-- It sure tells you something, doesn't it?

8/20/2013 9:37 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

The designs and patterns prevalent in ancient Egyptian society made for an astonishing decorative environment.

You're preaching to the choir. How many people do you know who have a copy of Goodyear's The Grammar of the Lotus in their personal library? I do, although personally I consider the decorative arts of ancient Mesopotamia vastly superior, but there's no fighting the hyped-up mystique of ancient Egypt I guess. But back to the point, artisan design divorced from artisan application, i.e. total abstraction, is fruitless; see the 20th century.

8/20/2013 11:04 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Wallartidea-- Many thanks.

Laurence John-- Different people collect for different reasons. Many of the collectors we are discussing were already well known for being financially shrewd, and now want to buy the credential of "aesthetic sensitivity." Their press agents trumpet that image in society page interviews. If they wish to relinquish that claim, and concede they are buying for purely mercenary reasons, or for prestige, or to win some male endowment competition with a rival financier then I think they are entitled to be disgruntled.

There are other collectors, I'm sure, with genuine fondness for Leyendecker who want something the great man himself touched. I personally intervened a few years ago when someone tried to post some Leyendecker knock offs as the real thing. I had no economic incentive, but I didn't want to see Leyendecker's reputation blurred by people attributing inferior crap to him. He worked too hard for his accomplishments.

As far as I'm concerned, any artist capable of painting like Leyendecker-- the real Leyendecker-- deserves to be as famous.

8/20/2013 11:20 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Walter Plitt Quintin-- Thanks for reading, and for your very kind reaction.

Kurt wrote, "Most realistic paintings start in the abstract and proceed from there." The good ones, yes. And as (realistic) illustrator Robert Fawcett said, "The longer the idea can be considered in the abstract, the better."

Etc, etc.-- very interesting. Is Goodyear's book heavily illustrated? And is the text worthwhile?

8/20/2013 11:45 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

And is the text worthwhile?

Not particularly; but it certainly is an impressive and scholarly sounding title to drop in a blog discussion.

8/20/2013 1:19 PM  
Blogger Joss said...

Etc. etc.,
Can you not think of anything very positive to say about any of Kupka's work? Or just his abstract work? If I recall correctly, Mondrian was inclined to completely reject his earlier representationalism, but it is artists like Kupka who have explored and seem to embrace both extremes that really impress me in their grasping the fullness of artistic possibility. Similarly Andrew Wyeth, or Robert Fawcett revel in the abstract qualities of their details or designs, even as it magically appears to the masses as strict realism. I'm a little confused by your use of the term "artisan design". Are your connecting it to "crafts" i.e.. jewelry? The Kupka picture you referenced strikes me as a powerful, dynamic composition that conjures the sense of an intergalactic dance of planetary spheres. But hey, thats just me.

8/21/2013 1:46 AM  
Blogger Joss said...

David,
I like abstract artists whose works conjure a sense of space and form. There are innumerable other aspects which I may enjoy as well, but when an artist's style continually harshes on or lacks any depth of space my sensibilities are offended. Some of Christo's drawings nail it for me. I mean that in a good way. I don't think I mean "refinement" the way you are taking it. Would you call, Christo or Franz Kline refined? It's more that beauty always has an inexplicable quality of refinement in spite of whether its rough, bold, raw. I don't reject Motherwell and Dekooning wholesale. I'd reject maybe just %90 of Dekooning's output that I've seen. The other %10 is nice, sometimes impressive. Motherwell is overly simplified and graphic, lacking the richness of great works, but still I'd say 15% of his work is appealing to me. I find all this difficult to communicate, but I want to. Pollock i'd be slightly more harsh with say....95% disappointing. One of the joys of art appreciation for me is getting to be the god of what is good and what bad for myself, and it is a compelling journey to explain if only to my self, how these choices are made.

8/21/2013 3:06 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Joss,
I think the painting demonstrates rock solid design skills. However, much of his work (that which a google image search retrieves) does not demonstrate that, and/or seems redundant in a way that is not interesting to me personally (every artist is redundant in some respect), and the skill seems compartmentalized i.e. does not translate into interesting compositions in his figurative work. That's the problem I find with abstract design in general when it is not tethered to some kind of traditional application (representation in the case of painting). I'm not that familiar with him; perhaps he was pioneering in some aspects but now he seems just another artist with graphic instincts.

8/21/2013 9:54 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

What constitutes "thinking in the abstract" is a major matter. For most of history abstraction was a summarizing process. With modernism, abstraction was redefined as unspecified form. There is no reconciling these two viewpoints. How Fawcett thought abstractly was informed. How Kandinsky thought abstractly was information-free. Thus, the very reason why Modernism is/was a primitivist movement. It was anti-information.

I can't believe anybody, btw, mistook this junk for a Pollock. I may think Pollock was only a designer, but he certainly knew how to design.

8/22/2013 5:22 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Kev,
What, pray tell, are the specific characteristics that make it plainly evident to you that this is a fake Pollack?

8/23/2013 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Etc. - I'm thinking Kev will articulate this better than I will , but , to me it looks unconvincing because the layers don't look as deep , the lines don't have the calligraphic looseness , and the marks look squished by the boundreys of the canvas . Having looked at originals , it simply rings false .

If I hadn't been in front of originals , I can't say if I'd have the same reaction .

Al McLuckie

8/23/2013 2:22 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Mr. McLuckie - What is "calligraphic looseness" in regard to dripping paint on a canvas? Regarding shallow layers and squished boundaries, what do you have to say about this?

8/23/2013 3:00 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

I don't think "abstract" is quite the right word for how artist's think.  I believe artists think in terms of analogy.  They see or understand how one thing is like another. In so doing they see how things are similar before they are different.  "The landscape is like a room with a ceiling, wall, and floor."  You can go one step further into geometry and say the landscape is like being in a box with a ground plane, side planes and top plane. But what you are really doing is referring one thing back to another thing or your saying I understand this because I see the same principal here.

Design and drawing seem to be one and the same, because one's analogies are organizing principals. Or one draws to what they want to express. The idea is the design.

A point, a line, a plane, a volume and orientation  is how we describe everything before we give it a  motivation. Maybe what I am asking is what is abstract thinking?  

8/23/2013 5:58 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Etc. etc.

Always glad to get in a discussion with you. As I know it will end with you learning something new and appreciating that. And I find that very gratifying. (As well as your light touch and sense of humor.)

I think the simplest tell is that Pollock lays down paint in a graphic manner, in that the strokes are articulate in so far as they specific as to where the stroke ends and the ground begins both lengthwise and in terms of their edges. Like a musician playing a note, it has a clarity and decisiveness, rather than a vagueness. The fake pollock is full of indecisive strokes, both in terms of their edge specificity and their gesture. There is blurry edges and fumbling paint lines galore. It would take a lot more explaining to get into why the overall design is bad, so I'll beg off on that except to say that it is a question of patterning.

Tom, we seem to share a great many viewpoints. Are you part of conceptart.org ?

8/23/2013 6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please , call me Al . Watching footage of J.P. working , there is a loose sinuous quality in his motion that reminds me of good Japanese calligraphy execution . The line he produces has a connectivity . Some of his originals I've looked at seem like they follow through off the edge of the canvas , as opposed to stopping short . Robert Henri , in The Art Spirit writes eloquently about not being stifled in your brushwork by the canvas boundary .

As for density of layers , some of his work , seen first hand has that effect of seeing into it as though through layers . Again , can't say what I'd think if I had not been in front of the originals .

Regarding your sample - FAKE !!!

Al McLuckie

8/23/2013 6:49 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Like a musician playing a note

That's about the most absurd analogy I've heard; music has layer upon layer of defined organization, structure, and rules; notes, intervals, scales, chords, etc; you can't play just any note. It's a poor and unfit analogy even for representational painting, let alone Pollock.

Regarding your sample - FAKE !!!

I'm sure the Met would disagree. Ever hear of provenance?

8/23/2013 9:36 PM  
Blogger Sidharth Chaturvedi said...

The marks in any (good) painting are done in relation to each other, and to the whole composition, like the individual notes in a musical piece are done in relation to each other and to the whole. You can't make just any mark.

Each note within a (good) musical composition must be played with intention and clarity, and not vaguely, or the composition doesn't work. Just like the marks in a painting .

The analogy between painting and music is as old as both art forms have existed.

8/24/2013 12:12 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

What are you guys waiting for? You could make a fortune with your expertise....

Pollock or Not?

Is This a Real Jackson Pollock?

The Fake Jackson Pollock Industry

8/24/2013 12:21 AM  
Blogger Sidharth Chaturvedi said...

I was explaining an analogy that anyone who's ever used a pencil understands, but which you seemed determined not to.

And if your point is that computer models and art dealers don't know what they're looking at... hey, we agree on something!

Not weighing in on Pollock specifically, not looked at enough of it.

8/24/2013 1:32 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Etc, I can tell a bad Pollock fake from a real Pollock. As in David's example. But I will not be able to distinguish a good fake from the real thing and never said I could. And I doubt anybody else could either.

Your comment snarkily dismissing the music analogy is typical of you.

8/24/2013 8:58 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Kev,
You're a musician. I know that you know that pitch is divided into twelve evenly spaced tones which have simple harmonic ratios, relationships distinguishable by the human ear. No such known systematic framework exists for visual phenomenon (although some such as Leon Battista Alberti have attempted to posit such a thing). Now if you want to argue that Pollock had certain idiosyncrasies (a la John Beazley and the Greek vase painters, although his work pragmatically yielded more than the gut feelings being offered as expertise here) in dripping his paint, then fine; but that has nothing to do with musicality, and it can't have anything to do with musicality because any analogy between music and visual art fails at the foundational level.

8/24/2013 9:50 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

First of all, you've altered the question, as usual.

I spoke of articulation as a common feature of music and mark-making. You have changed the question to the 12-tone systematic organization of western scales and its suite of pre-determined intervals and the theory that pops out of that.

Leaving aside how obnoxious this particular argumentative tactic is (whether conscious or not), this is the upteenth time you have asserted that "the correct way" of an artform must be your choice of one particular systemization of the artform. If that's what you need to get through the night, fine. But don't pretend that the systemization is the artform.

I wonder if you are aware that the 12-tone musical system we find most consonant is actually slightly fudged, and is not perfectly mathematical. I wonder if you have read about the many different color systemizations that produce effective results proffered over the last 150 years. (That Alberti reference was a joke, right?) I wonder if you are aware that the compositional "rules" of Bach were broken by Beethoven. And the "rules" of Beethoven were broken by Rachmaninoff. And the "rules" of Rachmaninoff were broken by Debussey, Stravinsky, and Gershwin. And that the theoretical underpinnings that formed around jazz that resulted were even more intellectual and mathematical than that contained in Schoenberg's big book. And Brian Wilson's compositional innovations showed that even these deep understandings of musical theory were in need of broadening.

Speaking of which, a vise may be made of iron, but its utility is as narrow as its jaws.

8/24/2013 12:14 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Kev,
I assumed you used the analogy of music because you wished to propose that there was some kind of systematic underpinning to the way Pollack dripped paint; now either I misunderstood you or you are backing off that analogy, and I'm left with the answer to my original question to you (namely, what are the specific characteristics that can distinguish fake Pollacks from real ones?) as being that bad fake Pollacks have indecisive paint drippings and that genuine or good fake Pollacks have decisive paint drippings. Now I'll confess that I have zero experience with regard to the intentional dripping of paint, but I am just a little skeptical of your claim that you can tell the difference between decisive and indecisive paint drippings. And just maybe no one else can really tell the difference either, and that at least partially explains why authentication of Pollacks is such a precarious business?

8/24/2013 1:48 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Yes, incorrect assumptions are practically your M.O. That you snark at the drop of a hat, given your proclivity for such misreadings, should ring a bell in your noggen that a little bit of maturation is in order. A good conversationalist takes care to be as certain of what the other person is saying as he is of his own thoughts.

Dropping down long swirling lines of pigment as Pollock does is a hard-won skill akin to professional rope tricks or fine glass blowing or flowing calligraphic penmanship. The materials at play are as sensitive as a seismograph needle and any loss of concentration or lack of command of craft is recorded in the presentation as quavering, bogginess, muddiness, scratchiness, sketchiness, awkwardness, tightness (the anti-virtuosity index), etc. Each of which is emblematic of a lack of previsualization, focus and craft. Thus noting such graphic qualities in the work translates to an understanding that the craftsman does not have command. Since Pollock had command of his drip-craft, any painting that lacks it probably isn't a Pollock. A good Pollock fake must at the very least have equivalent command.

Pollock's command of his mark-making is evident in his work to any who cares to notice. Just follow one single long line of paint in one of his works and pay attention to just how smoothly the thin line of pigment is landing through all its arabesque meanderings. And then imagine yourself accomplishing the same technique. Some of his calligraphic lay-downs probably lasted for eight seconds.

8/24/2013 2:56 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Since every design scheme is its own system, and Pollock's works are designs, then it seems obvious that either Pollock laid down pigment according to the systems he developed for his respective pieces or in order to develop organically the system of a particular piece.

8/24/2013 3:06 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Kev,
Nonsense. It was purely about novelty in an era when novelty was mistaken for genius and creativity, and foisted upon a gullible public who dared not to refuse to bow down before the latest cultural idol. Same system that is alive and well today. Once it was done it was done, and there was nothing left to unfold and explore for other artists as there were and are with legitimate artistic innovations; that's why no one did it before or after Pollock.

8/24/2013 6:34 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

As usual, you don't even acknowledge or address the actual points I've made, like I'm talking to a wall, and you change the subject to an area you feel resolute about. Are you aware that you constantly do that?

And I don't know why you constantly think in such a confusedly binary way. Not everything is an either-or matter. For instance, it can be so that what I am saying about Pollock's craftmanship is true and also that what Pollock was doing was merely trying to create novel work. What prevented you from understanding that before you posted?

On the topic of novelty, we have the quote from NC Wyeth, having met up with Marcel Duschamp's crew around WWI that all they were after was novelty for its own sake. Whether this applies to Pollock or not we can only surmise. That Pollock had honed his craft is irrespective of such motivations or whether what he created was actually Art rather than simply decorative design.

That the public is led around by the nose by knaves, charlatans, advocats, ideologues, and ad men is the area where you and I most see eye to eye.

8/24/2013 8:12 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Kev,
I'll admit I find Number 8 graphically intriguing. The linear work however, in my opinion, has little value of its own, but rather finds value in concert and contrast with the more solid shapes. The interesting question for me is just how much is skill and how much is happy accident, or to leave my binary thinking, perhaps Pollock's is the skill of allowing happy accidents. Along those lines (pun intended), I'll leave you with a quote from Schiller:

Therefore, the real artistic secret of the master consists in his annihilating the material by means of form, and the more imposing, arrogant and alluring the material is in itself, the more automatically it obtrudes itself in its operation, and the more the beholder is inclined to engage immediately with the material, the more triumphant is the art which forces back material and asserts its mastery over form.

8/24/2013 9:13 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Of course Pollock's linear marks require the more solid shapes to provide compositional contrast and gravity. What does that have to do with the fact that his line-making is craft?

Pollock's work is far too designed to be mostly accidental. Orson Welles once said that after preparing a film, actually directing it was mostly "presiding over accidents."

Not sure what the relevance of the Schiller quote was to the discussion. Although I'm pleased that you're reading him. (obviously Schiller is not advocating getting rid of subject matter, if that's what you were getting at.)

8/24/2013 11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kev , you do as good a job at explaning aesthetics to a non - artist as I've seen . It's a fairly impossible task - does it constitute an exercise in thought organization or just fun ?

8/25/2013 1:06 AM  
Blogger Joss said...

kev ferrara said...
What constitutes "thinking in the abstract" is a major matter. For most of history abstraction was a summarizing process. With modernism, abstraction was redefined as unspecified form. There is no reconciling these two viewpoints.

I have no trouble reconciling the two viewpoints
Abstract from the latin "draw away"
To take it away from it's context. So a summary refers to something else in a more succinct concentrated format. Unspecified form are similarly forms taken out of specific context

When we create or experience forms away from a concrete defined context, they are abstract!



Tom said...
I don't think "abstract" is quite the right word for how artist's think. I believe artists think in terms of analogy. They see or understand how one thing is like another. In so doing they see how things are similar before they are different.

Analogy is abstraction. Yes analogy is referring to what is shared, abstraction refers to difference, same continuum. Difference and similarity are not at odds, hence the saying," The more things change, the more they stay the same."

In art, unspecified form is form removed from context. summary is also referring to a text of which it is a more succinct version, both are characterized by their displacement from a context. In either case, a mind when confronted with a summary or an unspecified form, engages the imagination to provide specifics to this framework to recreate within it thereby giving it life by its own subjective experience of it.

Whether a form refers to something else(summary) or simply remains an enigmatic vacuum(abstract art) allowing you to supply the meaning, both are abstract in that they are removed from context.

8/25/2013 3:23 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Your wording of the problem as "removed from context" is imprecise and it is leading you to conflate what is distinguishable. Abstract begins life as a verb, to abstract being a poetic process whereby a more sprawling gaggle of content is distilled down to a more easily apprehendable form, the gist of the matter, without losing anything of unique salience to the original including the reference. Without beginning with the overly complex, over-rendered phenomena or perception, the reference, and without holding fast to this tether of reference, there is no abstraction process. There is simply the jump to graphic decorative design. This goes beyond the gross generalizing of cartooning, which even at its most expressive and least realistic, is still abstracted in the original sense.

8/25/2013 9:27 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Anonymous, glad you're getting something out of this. I do not consider clear presentation of aesthetic ideas to be just an exercise, or just fun, or merely an academic pursuit. I seek clarity because it helps me in my work. The byproduct of my getting enough clarity on an aesthetic matter that it can help me in my work, is that it also is clear enough to be understood by anybody. As Harvey Dunn used to say, "It is only the muddle of our minds" that is the problem. I don't think there are any subjects in the world that, with enough clarification, can't be understood by most anybody. The great problem is that we are all drowning in misinformation, ignorance, and linguistic sloppiness from the moment we are born.

8/25/2013 10:30 AM  
Blogger Joss said...

Kev,
It's true I am working backwards from how the word is used to get at it's meaning. I think there is value to knowing the original meaning origins of a word and how they morphed or become muddied through use, but I think you are fighting a hopeless battle to try and roll back the use of "abstract" to signify unspecified form. It has simply become too enmeshed into our use. Thus I find it useful to analyze how it is that the word abstract can (and does) make the leap to signify these two seemingly "irreconcilable viewpoints". I am saying this is how we as a culture are using it, and you are saying we are using it wrong. At a certain point the history becomes relatively inconsequential. Anyone who has looked into word origins see's dizzying paths, twists and turns that word meanings take. Foremost a word is a tool for communicating our experiences, so if we agree as a culture through our use that it means what it does, that's my starting point.

I have a particular interest in art which does not specify form, as a means to trigger the imaginative capacities in the viewer. So this idea that modernism is a dead end baffles me. I would say it is an open end. One which artists like Kandinsky, and Mondrian tried unsuccessfully to make into a closed end. Pollack and the @#$%?? expressionists left it more open I think by keeping the humanity in it.

I admit there is plenty of confusion around the word abstract to merit a discussion. Do you have a better word for the kind of art that Kandinsky, Mondrian, etc. created which we now call abstract? "Anti-information art," or "primitivism" would I think reflect your intention to place this art as less than. Perhaps that is your opinion, but frankly I think it reflects the immaturity which originally prompted my comment, and as we as a culture have already embraced abstract art as a valid form there is no going back(imho).

Tom said
A point, a line, a plane, a volume and orientation is how we describe everything before we give it a motivation. Maybe what I am asking is what is abstract thinking?

Gosh, to me this discussion, we are having (especially your sentence above) is abstract thinking. i.e. difficult to follow and wrap one's head around.
My intent is to get clear about what is an abstract visual and why it is a wholly worthwhile endeavor to create images which are that. As I said above we need a word. I don't think "analogous art" is up to the task of replacing "abstract art". I for one am quite happy with abstract art as a description, even if it is confusing. That is perhaps most appropriate because abstract art is so open ended. To pair the word abstract with the word art is to almost reverse the original use of the word which is perhaps the opposite of art. Summary, though it may be artfully done, I would propose that the practice of precise/objective description belongs more to science, than art. Indeed to write an abstract is what scientists do, no? Once again Kev I am working backwards from how we use the word to what it means, just like an artist to behave irrationally.

8/26/2013 3:58 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

Hi  Joss

"Abstract" painting is fine with me.  My question was what is "abstract thinking," from the Robert Fawcett quote and a pervious poster comments about abstraction.

I think I understand what Fawcett was saying but to me abstract sounds to vague to describe the thinking process.  That is why Kev's Harvey Dunn quote is so great.  Clarity comes from the mind, from how the problem is thought out.  And how artistic problems are thought out is through analogy.

All I was saying with my geometry example is this.  That a row of trees  can form a wall in  the landscape.  A group of trees is like a wall.  A wall is like a rectangle box if you compared it to a volume.  A box has six faces  which are flat surfaces or planes. The box can be given orientation and direction in space and expressive power by scale , position  and light and shade. The trees can be made to feel violet, calm etc by how the artist chooses to use line to describe them.  Slashing lines, caressing strokes etc.

Different artistic personalities will expressed and emphasis what is important to them.  Looking back at the pervious posts I think  Kev's  description of abstracting  is a good one. So I was more interested in the thinking process behind art then the names we give things.

Kev- no I am not a member of conceptart.org.

8/26/2013 8:52 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Joss,

Obviously scientists and artists deal with different types of content. And each will seek to retain in their abstracts those qualities they wish to preserve. In neither case is the original subject of the abstract denuded of meaning or reference. So, although the artistic abstraction includes aesthetic/emotional meanings whereas scientific abstracts attempt to remove any coloration whatsoever, that is fine for their respective purposes.

Don't mistake "primitivism" for a pejorative or for something I came up with. A host of modernist self-described as such. I happen to believe the description is apt and sensible. I don't see how the correct naming of the various modes of communication can be immature. It seems more like evidence of cultural literacy.

You seem to be associating suggestiveness with non-representational designs. But suggestiveness has been the bread and butter of art sync time immemorial. Although, often this suggestiveness does not have the open-endedness of a Rorschach ink blot test.

That nobody considers Rorschach's ink blots to be works of art is an interesting matter to consider.

8/26/2013 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

The exchange on music, abstraction and observations on Pollock's work were wonderful, thanks. The movement was drafted into a larger political arena as part of a greater fraud, that money could buy world cultural dominance and so Nelson Rockefeller put New York and the USA at the center of the cultural world.

Abstract art, (which later just became a synonym for concept based art), was also part of the popularization of psychology and such art was supposed to unveil new and unknown languages, which of course never happened; much like deconstructionism is supposed to bring forth a flowering, without ever having seeded anything but annihilation of meaning and confusion. The abstract era was also marked by writers heralding impulse and violence.

Cultivation is a slower process requiring impulse control, whereas revolution is explosive, violent, disruptive, obnoxious, impulsive and destructive, often playing on novelties and inarticulate or absurd promises. The revolutionary art of the 20th century, brash and novel, served the same political generalities. Arguments can be made that new things were discovered and so they were, but the overwhelming crudeness and political record of the 20th century isn't going to go away. Thankfully, the whole thing has exhausted its welcome.

8/26/2013 10:36 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Tom,

The Brandywine illustrators taught that the first step in developing a work of art was to "feel the subject." And then to let the mind stew these feelings into graphic form. The longer one allows the imagination to ruminate the image, the more organically the image develops. As opposed to forcing or constructing the image at the drawing board. I imagine that Fawcett was referring to this kind of thinking, (although he is obviously not a brandywine legacy artist.)

Btw, are you yourself an artist?

8/26/2013 10:56 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This imaginative development of imagery is a process of creative synthesis, it is not merely analogic.

8/26/2013 11:02 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Sean, very interesting post.

Do you have sources to share if I wanted to read further on the points you made in this paragraph: Abstract art (...), was also part of the popularization of psychology and such art was supposed to unveil new and unknown languages, which of course never happened; (...) The abstract era was also marked by writers heralding impulse and violence.

8/26/2013 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

Trying this from a tangible rather than abstract approach, B.B. King once said in a television interview, that the Blues will always be, because it's about persons, places and things. I was struck by the truth and the sadness of what he said, because it may not be about persons, places and things anymore. Over the course of a couple centuries, the concrete realities of persons, places and things were abstracted and trivialized into servants of ever more intangible causes.

Artists will discuss the specifics of art and picture making, but I wondered if B.B. King is correct, are persons, places and things still worthy as real subjects; or have they become secondary props?

8/26/2013 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

Hi Kev,
Norman Mailer would have been one writer. Richard Wright and Malcolm X would be included in that era
as well as part of a divided approach to confronting racism and Civil Rights. The style of near violent confrontation with the truth came by way of writers like Eugene O'Neil and there was Rebel Without a Cause also along the theme of anger. Kerouac's stream of consciousness writing was a novelty of associated with jazz improvisation and both were swept along with the great anticipation of the untapped creativity of the unconscious mind. Keroauc's work was also wrongfully attached to the growing movement of radicals around the Beats but also to the later sixties anti-heros, Abbey Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, The Fugs and a long list of 60s radicals influenced by the 1950s justifications of violence. Jesuit Liberation Theology is associated with the 1970s, but had deeper roots going back to the atom bomb and this movement was also very influential as a movement of rebellion and later, of violence as a legitimate and purposeful act.

On the assembly line of novelties coming from the subconscious movement of the 1950s and also Jungian psychology were primal scream, scientology and many do it yourself spiritual novelties hanging on a promise of some kind nirvana, or some kind of spirit to spirit communication which nobody ever seemed to find.

The languages of symbols and iconography of dreams in popular psychology also popularized astrology and other... where am I, who am I searching in such as Hesse's Siddhartha (1951), Khahil Gibran, Marharishi Mahesh Yogi, J. Krishnamurti and endeavors for cognition of something meaningful on the pathless way, placing hope in everything but reason. It was an avalanche of unknowingness, acid, drugs and silliness about the potential in sentience. It became a badge of honor not to know who one was among the endless false identities of persons, places and things. Yes, all of this was a result of the promises of the unknown potential hidden in the subconscious levels of human existence rendered initially popular in pop psychology and abstract art. There have been numerous books written on the subject, but one I enjoyed was called Brooklyn Existentialism, Voices from the Stoop explaining how Philosophical Realism can bring about the restoration of Character, Intelligence and taste, by Arthur DiClementi and Nino Langiulli. It's not a history of the era, but makes quick work of some of its enduring notions.

8/26/2013 1:04 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Thanks Sean. I was familiar with everything you mentioned up until the book mention: Brooklyn Existentialism: Voices from the stoop. I'll check that out. Thanks.

The idea that art is a language goes back much further than Modernist claims to the idea. As usual, instead of rendering service to their fellow man, the modernists did everything and anything they could to call attention to themselves and hype their project (their wares.) Such a theory of art was a quiet part of Brandywine picture making as it appears in both Harvey Dunn's and Dean Cornwell's lecture notes. And I am sure it stems from Pyle and the symbolic philosophy he adhered to.

8/26/2013 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

Hi Kev,
I have been reading your posts with great interest, the visualization, etc. Yes, art is a language, a gift with some mysteries. How much is training and knowledge and how much is talent and how much is interest or inspiration are questions that never get quite get answered.

I've met some artists with almost no training who do fantastic stuff and others who never stop studying and do very little and some who do the reverse.

The moderns dismissed the training and conscious part, leaving a dumbed down generation to fumble along and rediscover things for themselves. Something good may come of it yet.

The book is nothing you wouldn't gobble up. I found the section on law the most revealing.

8/26/2013 3:38 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Cultivation is a slower process requiring impulse control, whereas revolution is explosive, violent, disruptive, obnoxious, impulsive and destructive, often playing on novelties and inarticulate or absurd promises.

Sean,
Great commentary; wish you participated more. I think it's apparent that revolutionary ideas in art were precipitated by the revolutionary ideas in philosophy that occurred earlier; German idealism, Enlightenment, etc.; the historian Norman Davies offers an interesting thesis that this rabid revolutionary bent in Europe came about as a result of disillusionment over religion...bloodletting between Catholics and Protestants, Inquisitions, etc. The revolutionists think that by annihilating the established order it is a given that something better or at least equal but different will come along, and that's just not often the case (Reign of Terror for example).

8/26/2013 8:10 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

There are two public galleries in Britain; The Tate and The Tate Modern. Walking through the former one can pass through the history of painting from the 17th century right through to mid-20th century modernism. It’s a curious experience. Leaving the Pre-Raphaelite rooms and walking into the 20th century feels like a rug has been pulled under our feet. There are many beautiful things, Henry Moore, Ben Nicolson among the modernists for example. But the most telling is Stanley Spencer. A painter with powerful visionary gifts allied to a great heart. His pictures look conventional within the 20th century rooms, but if they were taken back and hung in the earlier rooms they would look anarchically radical.

Spencer’s pictures, the surface of his vision, had he been working during an earlier time, would have been different. But, because of his heart, no less meaningful. Ben Nicolson would have been painting something like Vermeer, probably. My point being that although modernism made both of them primitives in the sense of divesting their culture of a living tradition, it did not touch what was in them as men, as artists.

For me, the interesting thing is what happens when we walk across to The Tate Modern. Not only has the living tradition been taken away, but a relationship to materials themselves. The transcendence from corporeal roots delivered by literary ‘concept’ comes at a price. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the early rooms of The Tate are far away from the turbine hall of The Tate Modern. But if we could step from one to the other, we would know, in an instant, what that price was.

8/27/2013 5:29 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

Hi Sean
" It was an avalanche of unknowingness, acid, drugs and silliness about the potential in sentience. It became a badge of honor not to know who one was among the endless false identities of persons, places and things. Yes, all of this was a result of the promises of the unknown potential hidden in the subconscious levels of human existence rendered initially popular in pop psychology and abstract art"

It could also may have been a rejection of the materialism and consumerism of cold war America of the 1950's, the search for a more authentic life then that presented by the ad man and Hollywood.  And many of the people who challenged and questioned those values where attacked, spied on and even assinated. It produced the civil rights movement and brought about the end of the Vietnam war. But history is interpertation, it says more about the person writing it then it does about what happened. 

And wasn't Luther a "do it your self spiritualist"?

Maybe there are reasons why a self center dumd down culture has  been created.

There is also a book by two Frenchman (I think) who wrote about the political and social context of abstract expressionism instead of just the paintings, it is called "How new York sold the idea of modern art."

 "Cultivation is a slower process requiring impulse control, whereas revolution is explosive, violent, disruptive, obnoxious, impulsive and destructive, often playing on novelties and inarticulate or absurd promises."

I am not sure if you are talking about art or social structures or both.
A lot of violent reaction is a response to violent and oppressive social orders, you would not have one without the other.

As far as art is concern I always likes this Kenneth Clark quote, "Opera, next to Gothic architecture, is one of the strangest inventions of Western man. It could not have been foreseen by any logical process."

8/27/2013 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

etc., etc.
Thanks for the reference to Norman Davies. Sure, we must wonder, if the Spanish had not come down so hard on some nutty people running around naked who rediscovered their lost innocence, would there have been a revolution and the loss of art housed in twenty thousand churches and a couple thousand of destroyed monasteries. The history of revolution has a continuity of twisted reasoning requiring a return to a lost innocence as a prerequisite for utopia. Not that there aren't real conditions for justified revolution, but the history of revolutionary movement is often founded on idealism.

Chris,
Thank you for the references to the excellent British painters. There was a time when I saw the 20th century as a breath of fresh air after thumbing through art history books, but I do see your point more today.

Tom,
All fair points, but were they justification for murder or entering a perceptual world with no context or thoughtfulness? Yes, Luther, but also Thomas Muentzer and the Anabaptists, also some of the early Hussites also went to town over some questionable matters in something called Ultraquism. I'm referring not to art entirely, but idealism born of the same was part of the 20th century revolutions in art. Thanks.


8/27/2013 10:08 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

A number of critics I've read saw the purity of "abstract" art as an antidote to the existential horrors of the 20th century: the wars, nuclear annihilation, the holocaust, etc. Since the escapism of pristine pop consumer culture can be seen as a psychological antidote to/prophylactic over the exact same problem, it can be argued that the only philosophical distinction between modern art and consumerism is the veneer of elitism attending the former.

8/27/2013 10:49 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

David I wasn't justifying anything, I was saying that almost everything is a reaction. Push too far in one direction you will get push back from the other direction. These issues are as old as us. “The nature of the universe, Marcus Antoninus has observed, delights not in anything so much as to alter all things, and present them under another form.”

8/27/2013 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

Kev,
I've been reading the notes of Harvey Dunn's evening classroom you mentioned and wanted to mention how great they are, thanks. The subject of perception as a source of truth is a really interesting one, but I'm also impressed by Dunn's personal content, what he brings to perception. Though he emphasizes feeling and truth and honesty in observation, he also speaks of the humility to respect the subject, the humility in letting the image develop, or the respect in seeing an old man thumbing though books, all of which requires a dialogue with perception, recognitions here and there. There is a recognition that one is part of a larger world, that the subject goes where it will as a writer lets a character develop as it will.

Though not always readily apparent, experience, or knowledge shares in the empathy of perception and ought to deepen it. A story of a boy whose father left him, is greatly enhanced by the understandings of what such can do to the boy. Forty years ago, people were told that nothing really happened to kids of divorce or abandonment and so many believed and behaved accordingly, with a lack of empathy, even though the same sorrowful situation stood before their very eyes. So visual perception and one's development, or content, share the dialogue in experiencing feeling.

So exciting are Dunn's comments in his encouragement to go forward while getting out of one's own way, unleashing the process from fears and self consciousness and his emphasis and near abandonment to perception, that I almost forget I was listening to a man of insights and experience.

http://www.robolus.com/H.Dunn-EveningClassroom.pdf

PS: Tom, thanks for the suggestion of the book, How New York Sold the Idea of Modern Art.

8/27/2013 11:28 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara wrote: "As Harvey Dunn used to say, 'it is only the muddle of our minds' that is the problem."

Dunn has a point, and I have read similar statements from artists such as Noel Sickles, who believed that once he thoroughly understood (in his mind) the physical structure of an object, he could draw it from any angle without a model or photo reference (and he seemed to be right).

Nevertheless, I think that for the majority of artists there are at least two categories of problems: clear pictures of muddled concepts and muddled pictures of clear concepts.

8/28/2013 8:45 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Etc, etc, Sidharth Chaturvedi, Kev Ferrara, Sean farrell and others who weighed in on the nexus between music and visual art-- I agree that we would be hard pressed to find a precise mathematical correlation between musical scales and marks on paper, although there is a lot of work being done to start bridging that gap, from "graphical scores" of music (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02tkp6eeh40) to computer based "fractal analysis" of Jackson Pollock's drips, employing a metric that might be applied equally to music (http://spie.org/x35260.xml). So far I have not seen anything very persuasive from that field but it is at least an interesting field of exploration to watch.

However, I would be surprised if anyone believes (including Etc, etc, who wrote it) that "any analogy between music and visual art fails at the foundational level." Music seems to be fashioned out of the same basic stuff as visual art: composers travel up and down the music scale selecting notes of various length and emphasis, while artists travel up and down the value scale or color spectrum, selecting marks of various size and emphasis. Composers and artists both employ contrast and balance and harmony to shape those ingredients in a suitable composition. But more importantly, both sounds and colors (in a vacuum, as non-referential, non-representational as an object can be on god's green earth) can inspire reactions from us-- stillness, warmth, sadness, excitement, etc.. Shapes and compositions (in both sound and light) can do the same. These relationships seem so fundamental to the character of the two art forms that I have trouble believing someone literally means there is no possible "analogy between music and visual art," and I assume I am missing something.

Etc, etc and Kev Ferrara-- Kev wrote: "the compositional "rules" of Bach were broken by Beethoven. And the "rules" of Beethoven were broken by Rachmaninoff. And the "rules" of Rachmaninoff were broken by Debussey, Stravinsky, and Gershwin."

Mr. Etc. (thanks, Al McLuckie, I love that name for Etc, etc) wrote: "Well, I can't think of very much positive to say about people who elevate artisan design to the level of high art, either. I'm sure it could make a pretty piece of jewelry in the right hands if that's what you like, though."

I read these comments while I am on the road and, even though I am not in a place where I can respond to them, I do cogitate on them, hence my following blog post on patterns. I think some artisan design is under appreciated these days, and for the wrong reasons; we don't value good old fashioned design and composition until we look around and find we have been flooded with crappy art from "conceptual" artists who don't respect the physical medium enough to make the slightest concessions in the direction of design. Similarly, while I recognize that Bach's patterns were going to be overthrown eventually (older truths have been giving way to newer truths since the world began) I'm not prepared to write off the loss of rules as just being "the way of the world." Even that trambo Miley Cyrus must recognize, at long last, that there were legitimate reasons to keep some clothing on.

There seems to be a healthy tension between these elements, and some of the best art I've seen results from a savage tug of war within an artist who appreciates the value of both sides.

8/28/2013 11:21 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Etc, etc-- an interesting quote from Schiller. I have long thought that one of the most god-like qualities of art, if not specifically "annihilating material by means of form," is making a likeness from unlike things-- taking tincture from the ground and applying it with bristles attached to a stick, to create a likeness with totally alien substances such as water or flesh or cloth. The artist's means is the line made with the stick, as directed by the geometric arc permitted by the anatomy of our wrist or our elbow or our shoulder, and yet the result betrays none of the limitations of these tools. In this painting (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2e/NC_Wyeth_the_Indian_in_His_Solitude_3.png) N.C Wyeth seems to have achieved a zen understanding of the nature of water. In doing so-- in "knowing" water through his use of pigments-- he transcended the limitation of his materials. If that ain't quite the same as god molding the universe out of clay, it may be as close as we mortals can ever come.


8/28/2013 11:45 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

However, I would be surprised if anyone believes (including Etc, etc, who wrote it) that "any analogy between music and visual art fails at the foundational level." Music seems to be fashioned out of the same basic stuff as visual art: composers travel up and down the music scale selecting notes of various length and emphasis, while artists travel up and down the value scale or color spectrum, selecting marks of various size and emphasis.

Be thou surprised. An artist can play "outside" value, chroma, and hue scales without creating any visual dissonance, whereas it is immediately recognizable and quite offensive to the ears when a musician does so. That's on a systemic level, which I, being a formalist, would consider "foundational". Now that's not to say that there is no overlap between art and music in aesthetic principles such as order and contrast; if one considers those principles more foundational than systemic issues (and I'm not insisting you should see it my way), then from thence our disagreement arises.

8/28/2013 1:53 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Sean, so glad you are enjoying Dunn's notes. Your initial takeaways are interesting to read. I think you will find that the more you read the notes you will find other ideas revealed by them. My first reaction too, to the notes was to be inspired and only later on did I realize how mich practical information and philosophy was disguised amid the expression of Dunn's personality.

Although you emphasized Dunn's take on perception, the real heart of the matter is belief. Imaginative belief. This stems from Pyle's teaching on "Mental Projection." Which is to live, utterly, in one's pictures.

To this end, Dunn felt that one must feel love towards the artwork, and that the artwork would form with the artist a circuit of belief predicated on this love energy. Doubt would short circuit this feedback loop of belief/love and should be avoided like the plague. Thus Dunn encouraged his students to always feel that they are in a state of play when working on art. For in a true state of play there is no doubt, only joy.

Also it really pays, if you want understand Dunn, to appreciate that he was simultaneously a neoplatonist/Idealist, a transcendentalist, a Romantic, a swedenborgian, and a believer in "New Thought." All of which flows into his teaching.

8/28/2013 3:13 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Mean Mr. Etc, until such time as you actually investigate the aesthetics of art, rather than just reading texts about it, you should probably not be too sure of where you draw the aesthetic barricades, or whether, in fact, you are qualified to decree where such barriers might fall at all. You may consider yourself a formalist, but I am absolutely sure you don't know enough about the systemization of form to be anything more than a pretender on the matter.

I've shared with long-time friend and fellow poster here, artist Chris Bennett, a host of my research into the music of art and I think he will vouch for me when I claim that I successfully created tonalities and scales with color and was able to produce color chords using these scales that were akin in feeling to musical chords, including, I am proud to say, dom7 and maj6 jazz-type chords.

For the sake of brevity, the character traits of arrogance
and ignorance you constantly display will be combined, from now on, under the banner of ARGGHnorance.

8/28/2013 3:38 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

the character traits of arrogance and ignorance you constantly display will be combined, from now on, under the banner of ARGGHnorance

Ok, Kev. And the sensation (esthesia) of music with the sensation (esthesia) of color will be combined (syn), from now on, under the banner of SYNesthesia.

8/28/2013 4:29 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Etc, etc. wrote: "An artist can play 'outside' value, chroma, and hue scales without creating any visual dissonance, whereas it is immediately recognizable and quite offensive to the ears when a musician does so."

I don't claim to be an expert on music, but is this really true? I understand that musical dissonance is immediately recognizable, and perhaps even initially offensive, but hasn't it been accepted for a century as high art in the work of Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Bartok and Copland? Grating and difficult, yes. Tension without release, yes. But knowledgeable people tell me that once we master its aesthetic, this dissonance is inspiring and complex and illuminating. On the visual art side of the equation, why do you think atonal artwork doesn't create visual dissonance as a parallel to music? I would imagine that if you showed Stravinsky's audience a Bob Peak picture pitting dayglo orange against pink and purple, the outraged audience would cease chasing Stravinsky and turn on Peak with rocks and bottles. Yet, we have learned to digest Peak's aesthetic too.

8/28/2013 5:47 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"I successfully created tonalities and scales with color and was able to produce color chords using these scales that were akin in feeling to musical chords, including, I am proud to say, dom7 and maj6 jazz-type chords."

sounds interesting. why not start a blog and post them so that others can see them and comment on them ?

8/28/2013 5:59 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

David,
Without you having musical experience it's complicated for me to explain. The most simple and direct example would be two guitars accompanying each other with one of them out of tune. It would be cacophonous and beyond any real resolving. Yes modern Western ears have acquired and can aquire a taste for dissonance, but largely within the boundaries of the 12 tone system which means there is still underlying organization. With training, one can learn to recognize relative musical intervals just by hearing them; however, unless accompanied and aided by a grid or hue/value/chroma scale, the eye can make no such precise relative distinctions with space and color.

8/28/2013 6:36 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Again and again you come back to the precision of the intervals in the 12 tone scale not realizing that Munsell did the same thing with forty colors in equal increments around the color wheel decades ago. Not realizing that you can break up octaves of pitch into other increments besides 12 or into no increments at all. Not remembering the 12 tone scale we are accustomed to is fudged. Not realizing that the eyes are much more sensitive to incremental change than the ears. What you are saying is, in short, pure AARGGHnorance!

8/28/2013 7:30 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Laurence, thank you for your interest. If I eventually publish my book on composition there will be a very large section on the music of art. Until then I will only be sharing such information privately among my artist friends.

8/28/2013 7:37 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Again and again you come back to the precision of the intervals in the 12 tone scale not realizing that Munsell did the same thing with forty colors in equal increments around the color wheel decades ago.

No, Kev, it's not the same thing; can you or any artist you know identify 5 YR 6/2 when you see it in a painting the way an experienced musician can identify an E♭when they hear it? Any artist you know not fooled by these?

And you need to brush up on your knowledge of how Munsell organized his chart; he contracted the space between red and yellow, and expanded the space between red and blue, and expanded the space between blue and yellow for reasons stated in the book, so the comparison with 12 evenly spaced tones does not work with Munsell.

8/28/2013 9:42 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Munsell spaced his colors according to how humans perceived incremental changes. It is for the same reason that the 12 tone scale has been altered away from the exact mathematical ratios. Because the more pleasant version was the one that conformed to perceptual preference NOT dogmatic systemization.

An artist can play 'outside' value, chroma, and hue scales without creating any visual dissonance, whereas it is immediately recognizable and quite offensive to the ears when a musician does so.

AARGHnorance!!

This is the most brutal bunch of bull we've had to endure from you in years. Either pick up a paintbrush, learn to paint and actually test out your blue sky art theories, ask actual painters if such a statement corresponds with their experience of reality, or still thy gobby maw.

You haven't scratched the surface of just what a scale is or why it is or how it functions on the mind.

8/28/2013 9:50 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

No, Kev, it's not the same thing; can you or any artist you know identify 5 YR 6/2 when you see it in a painting the way an experienced musician can identify an E♭when they hear it? Any artist you know not fooled by these.

What absurd argument. The vast majority of musicians do not have perfect pitch. Even though there are only 12 notes in the musical scale.

Yet if you break up the color wheel into a simple red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, magenta scale, most everybody will be able to place any particular strongly saturated color accurately as being closer to one particular color or family of colors than all the others. Thus, in comparison to our audio ineptitude, the vast majority of human beings have something akin to perfect color pitch. (what some color is named matters not at all. And pulling grays into the question is a whole other matter given that musical instruments can only play highly "colored" notes.)

8/28/2013 10:04 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/28/2013 10:18 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Munsell spaced his colors according to how humans perceived incremental changes.

That simply isn't true with regard to the spacing of hue that I referred to:

"Even finer distinctions can be made between similiar hues through the use of decimals. This is why Munsell chose 10 hues as the basis for the system rather than the 12 hues often used in artist's color wheels. A system based on ten's can be further divided into decimals, making it possible to designate colors with precision."

Because Munsell wanted a simple decimal system, something had to give. You only needed to get to page 3 of The New Munsell Student Color Set to be aware of that.

8/28/2013 10:34 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

There are forty increments in the Munsell big book of colors, the one used by painters. The spacing between the 40 increments were arrived at through extensive testing of how human subjects were able to perceive equivalent increments of color across the spectrum. This is the reason for some bands being more squashed than others.

Can somebody besides Mr. Etc corroborate or refute. Thanks.

That this is so, however, is off topic, once again.

8/28/2013 11:06 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

The 40 colors are simply further divisions of the 10 color student color wheel. If you have read the book, even the humble student book, you would know Munsell did organize color by perception, but he made exceptions for reasons I have already explained when he arranged the hues.

8/28/2013 11:20 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/28/2013 11:42 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

P.S. Kev

I've been through this argument many times with many a fundaMunsellist who never seems to understand the system quite as well as they think they do. ;)

8/28/2013 11:47 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

You've yanked us into another meaningless alley, like a useless seeing eye dog that can't stop pursuing the smell of beef. In your case the beef is some kind of mania you have for catching me out. Bloody boring to deal with considering how AWFUL your reading comprehension is.

That the Munsell system is broken up into 40 increments or ten and for whatever reason is a different matter than WHERE the increments fall just exactly within the system... And my point was that these increments were chosen by perceptual polling. In order that the color hue increments be systematized yet human-centric. Just like the way the 12 tone scale is both mathematically systematized and then refitted to key into human perceptual preferences. Which was the actual point I was making, which was relative to the actual discussion we had entered into. Alright?

So you haven't disproven anything that I have said. What i was saying was correct. You've merely mixed up the notions of "how many increments the color wheel was divided into" versus "how those actual increment distances were chosen in the event." And then you argued against me on the basis of YOUR mental mix up. Meanwhile ignoring the larger point. ONCE AGAIN.

Learn. How. To. Read.

Think. Before. You. Write.

Incidentally, it is stated in the 1905 "A Color Notation" that the ten colors were chosen because those ten colors are what children first recognize as distinct from one another.

8/29/2013 12:22 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

I've been through this argument many times with many a fundaMunsellist who never seems to understand the system quite as well as they think they do. ;)

I am not a stickler for Munsell in any way shape or form. That you think I am is the 4000th incorrect assumption you've made so far. Bloody boring dealing with.

And what argument, pray tell, are you talking about?

And have you made "this argument" on Rational Painting where I might be able to corroborate you claim?

8/29/2013 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel the need to apologize in advance to Etc, Etc . If David ever organizes a meet and greet over dinner and drinks - and it happens to occur a block or so from where Etc,Etc resides , and Etc,Etc attends and introductions and made , and it turns out to be Ms or Mrs Etc , sorry for being presumptuous .
Al McLuckie

8/29/2013 2:32 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

Kev wrote: “I've shared with long-time friend and fellow poster here, artist Chris Bennett, a host of my research into the music of art and I think he will vouch for me when I claim that I successfully created tonalities and scales with color and was able to produce color chords using these scales that were akin in feeling to musical chords, including, I am proud to say, dom7 and maj6 jazz-type chords.”

Indeed I can. For reasons Kev has already given to Laurence, I will not go into technical details. They are Kev’s intellectual property. But in terms of concrete examples/expressions of the truth of this idea I would say that one only has to look at the examples of Pissaro and Monet to see the effect.

Pissarro lacked a feeling for chromatic scale with which to build his pictures, and subsequently they generally lack the sense of tonality, modality or key that one finds in the best of Monet’s pictures. Pissaro’s pictures are inexpressive and inert chromatically because they are ‘atonal’ in that there is no implied sense of scale/key. Monet’s pictures, on the other hand, are chromatically expressive through their dissonance tension within their implied sense of scale/key.

The maj7#4 chord found in Debussy sounds piquant because the sweet resolution of the major seventh has a ‘sting in the tail’ of the sharp forth implying we are really in another key (the chord’s unstated fifth).

The turquoise streak across a pinkish-orange haystack found in a Monet is trying to ‘alter’ the colour chord of the haystack in a similar fashion. (‘Alter’; another musical expression as in ‘altered chords’ – my Debussy example being just such a case)

PS: The tech stuff above has nothing to do with Kev’s researches – it is standard musical theory found in any textbook on harmony.

8/29/2013 5:35 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

And my point was that these increments were chosen by perceptual polling.

IF you would read the text with an open mind you would understand that what you are describing is not the case in regard to the way Munsell arranged hues. If it were the case, then it would indicate that there is a significant deficiency in the normal human ability to detect hue in the red to yellow range, as 5R to 5Y only occupies 1/5 of the circumference of the Munsell circle (obvious by simply looking at the link I provided above).

8/29/2013 8:15 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

The turquoise streak across a pinkish-orange haystack found in a Monet is trying to ‘alter’ the colour chord of the haystack in a similar fashion. (‘Alter’; another musical expression as in ‘altered chords’ – my Debussy example being just such a case)

In the texts of that era, this technique is called "modulation." Another obvious parallel between art and music.

If it were the case, then it would indicate that there is a significant deficiency in the normal human ability to detect hue in the red to yellow range

Mr. Etc, are you aware that the human eye is more sensitive to green than any other color? And is in fact weak at perceiving reds? Does this chart help you any; http://www.amastro2.org/at/ot/othcs.html

Again, you have gone off topic to pursue a picayune point which you are wrong about anyway.

8/29/2013 11:54 AM  
Anonymous chimesatmidnight said...

i think kevs point is that the munsell system is kind of systematic yet also kind of based on what humans can perceive. And that this is like the way the musical notes have been arranged too, mostly based on math but then "tempered" so it sounds right to the human ear. I don't see what etc is arguing about. Its self evident.

8/29/2013 12:30 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Kev,
I'll concede that it appears you may be right and I am wrong regarding Munsell's distribution of hue. I did read the student edition and there was no mention of green sensitivity, nor does the Munsell circle seem to jive exactly with the eye color sensitivity curve you linked (according to which we are more sensitive to oranges than blues but the opposite is suggested by Munsell). At any rate, as far as your research goes, you should have no trouble overlooking an AARGHnorant one who remains skeptical until some evidence is presented, and perhaps even afterwards. It isn't the first time I've seen a color theory discovery touted as something that will be a game changer.

8/29/2013 5:02 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Proud of you, Mr. Etc.

I agree the Munsell system isn't perfect, nor put together in a perfectly sound, scientific way. And it doesn't conform exactly to human sensitivities, as you mention. It is, however, really nice to have all those chips to play with.

Regarding my color research, my suspicion is always that I am not discovering anything at all, only recovering what was known in that mythical year I call 1905. I perfectly understand how the specific claims I have made about color chords would be tough to swallow without visual proof.

8/29/2013 5:54 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Etc, etc and Kev Ferrara-- Are you two guys sure you didn't go to law school?

Sean Farrell-- I wanted to circle back to your very interesting discussion of the "avalanche of unknowingness" in 20th century art and literature (from Eugene O'Neill to Kerouac). You write:

"Abstract art, (which later just became a synonym for concept based art), was also part of the popularization of psychology and such art was supposed to unveil new and unknown languages, which of course never happened; much like deconstructionism is supposed to bring forth a flowering, without ever having seeded anything but annihilation of meaning and confusion. The abstract era was also marked by writers heralding impulse and violence."

It seems to me that there was plenty of hard evidence in the 20th century to cause people to reconsider their faith in enlightenment era rationality and reason, and instead explore the subconscious, spirituality, impulse, superstition and LSD as possible paths forward. Start with quantum physics and the discovery that Isaac Newton's view of the world (which was a major underpinning for the enlightenment) was a magnificent delusion. Add to that World War I, which left the concept of human progress (another artifact of the enlightenment) in tatters as people realized that that the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, and soon the technological revolution had provided us with the means to make the world far worse, while human ethics had not progressed at all). Third, we can add the development of the field of psychology, (from William James through Freud) which demonstrated that human thought and motivation are far murkier than we once suspected. It is no wonder that people began investigating alternative, non-rational paths; it would not have been reasonable for the world to believe in the Age of Reason any more. Could individual "impulse and violence" possibly land us in a worse spot than methodical, systematic technology and bureaucracy which brought us nuclear weapons and World War II?

As further evidence, the great rebellion against the tools of reason was not confined to the arts you criticize. In religion, Christian fundamentalism was born in the US as an anti-rationalist response to science and technology. In science, there was a revolution in the philosophy of science in the 1950s and 60s as academics began to equate science with the military industrial complex (which seemed to be funding most of the science-- something Newton never dreamed of).

So why shouldn't art, of all things, have a similar response to the revelations and terrors and disappointments of the early 20th century? In addition to all the tectonic shifts listed above, poets were concerned about the dehumanizing effects of what Charlie Chaplin called "Modern Times."

Robert Motherwell (the poet of the abstract expressionists) wrote: "The emergence of abstract art is a sign that there are still men of feeling in the world .... Nothing as drastic as abstract art could have come into existence save as the consequence of a most profound, relentless, unquenchable need. The need is for felt experience -- intense, immediate direct, subtle, unified, warm, vivid, rhythmic."

I agree with you that many of these trends turned out to be disappointing or unhelpful in the long run ("Thankfully, the whole thing has exhausted its welcome") but that doesn't mean that they didn't provide some useful counter balances and create some excellent work along the way. Tracey Emin and Jeff Koons may have beaten it into the ground (with the assistance of an ignorant and misguided viewing public) but intellectuals from Kandinsky and Malevich and Klee and Duchamp and Motherwell and Rothko started out doing exactly what you'd want pioneers to be doing under such circumstances, and I think created some beautiful work in the process.

8/31/2013 7:30 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Etc, etc wrote, "The revolutionists think that by annihilating the established order it is a given that something better or at least equal but different will come along, and that's just not often the case (Reign of Terror for example)."

Agreed, but let's keep in mind that the age of revolution began as governments and societies became more effective at maintaining order. Mass media meant the message could be controlled better, technology meant that behavior could be monitored, police forces became more effective. Before long, governments didn't have to rely on haphazard pogroms to discourage troublemakers, they could load whole segments of the population into train cars, assign them serial numbers and bump them off wholesale in gas chambers. It was in that context that believers in revolutionary dialectic (from Marx to Marcuse) argued that extreme measures were warranted, even if you had to break a few eggs to make an omelet. As Tom noted in his comment, "A lot of violent reaction is a response to violent and oppressive social orders."

Chris Bennett-- I agree with your point about Spencer, Nicholson and Moore, and like the way you portrayed it, in the transition from the Tate to the Tate Modern. But don't you wonder how long the artists in the original Tate could have continued along their traditional path? Sometimes I think that these artists realized the jig was up, and that in another century their path would be a "beautiful dead end." After Bouguereau, how much more could artists polish and refine images? After the invention of photography, how much longer could artists perform their historical role documenting faces and events? If instead of the Tate Modern you continued to project the work of the Tate forward along the same axis, where do you think we'd be by now?

Tom-- Pardon me for smiling but "a book by two Frenchman... called 'How new York sold the idea of modern art'" is like Captain Renault being shocked to find gambling going on in Casablanca. Really?? French authors have discovered that taste can be a public relations game fueled by money and social status??? Imagine that!

I know the folklore is that the "center of the art world" (or at least the "center of the art market") shifted from Paris to NY after Paris was disabled by WW II. But it seems to me that the migration started long before that. Seurat couldn't give away his masterpiece, La Grande Jatte, in his home country so some Chicago industrialist scooped it up for a song and brought it to the US in the 19th century.

For me, the far more interesting contrast is not between NY and Paris but between NY and St. Petersburg. You could argue that Russian intellectuals such as Malevich's suprematists and Kandinsky's blue rider group invented modern art but it could not find fertile soil in a "revolutionary" country. Decades later when the seed was transplanted to the center of capitalism, voila! You have modern art!

8/31/2013 8:53 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/31/2013 11:35 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

David Apatoff wrote: “Sometimes I think that these artists realized the jig was up, and that in another century their path would be a "beautiful dead end." After Bouguereau, how much more could artists polish and refine images? After the invention of photography, how much longer could artists perform their historical role documenting faces and events? If instead of the Tate Modern you continued to project the work of the Tate forward along the same axis, where do you think we'd be by now?”

I agree. What has happened was inevitable and makes complete sense – A few clicks on the machine I’m typing on will bring in front of me almost any image the world has ever created. In other words, technology has changed the way we value images.

As you say, the handmade image lost most of its functional, utilitarian purpose with the march of progress. Modernism was an attempt to answer this in its pursuit of a plastic language divested of functional purpose which led to the abandonment of the mimetic effects entirely. But meaning's baby swam in that mimetic bath water… and the project floundered and finally failed.

The market for the handmade image is now miniscule and elitist and shrinking with every year. It will eventually stabilise into a bastion exclusive to the very wealthy. The average picture-buying public of yore no longer exists to sustain most of those who now produce it. A new paradigm for why handmade images are made is being born. But, in my view, it will have little resemblance to the context surrounding why it was made before.

8/31/2013 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

Hi David,
What you're saying is true. The abstract expressionists were scaling down the number of elements in order to create a limited environment to better observe how each reacted to the other and in such their individual qualities, beauty, movement and in some cases, intuitive or visceral level expressionism. Abstract art was to be art for artists. Well, that was some of the reasoning that followed in the heady decoupling of minimalism.

The knockoffs quickly became the favorites of interior designers, but the original intent wasn't to create design products, though that's what it became as it worked well with incoming Japanese furniture and other modernism.

In a funny way such was part of an earlier iconoclasm in Dutch reformation churches. The 20th century and Americanism itself was a kind of ongoing iconoclasm departing from the past for ever more spectacular inventions and social and interior autonomy, (individualism).

Much of the idealism and promises in novelty, breaking barriers, and the “less is more” rejection of embellishments you bring up in the next post were an outgrowth of what later became the economics of creative destruction; the abandonment of old technologies for the new. That things were discovered isn't in doubt, but what exactly was left behind remains a mystery.

Enlightenment rationalism, the optimism of individualism and the romantic fascination with the natural impulse which followed, was America's parting from the past, despite Greco-Roman revivalism including an unspecified Averroism in Deism. Novelty did enter with John Nelson Darby and the Scofield bible as you mentioned evangelicalism.

The Americanism of both 19th and 20th century held to radical ideas preceding it in Hume, or even Auguste Comte's positivism around 1830. So it is was there in the 19th century and until we discover what we left behind, the dissolute art you deplore will continue as if the world had just begun.

It is possible the separation of being and idea is a modern myth. At the very least, being necessitates a dialogue with oral or written language. Thanks for your response.

8/31/2013 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

Hi David,
To (possibly) clarify that last statement, vitalism was a major influence in Emerson's transcendentalism and modern variations of pluralism, deconstructionism and other modern isms and vitalism is the belief that thought is an interference with the purity of being.

In your next post, a fascination with the “Oceanic Feeling”, led to vitalism as the avenue of trying to re-live its mystery. But if it is a myth that thought and being are separate, it might help undue a lot of the damage rendered by vitalism.

8/31/2013 1:12 PM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

David,
Kandinsky was influenced by the Fauvists and he later moved to Paris. Paris was the hub, the place to be because it was where Duchamp, Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky and others lived, even though many things were happening elsewhere. The Reds and Whites as backgrounds and squares by Malevich and Lissitsky were political statements.

8/31/2013 4:44 PM  
Blogger paul worley said...

This article is redundant and it's gaping holes are riddled with red hearings, ad homonyms. You place prejudice on wall street executives. No where in this article does it seem to negotiate the fact that these works were fraudulent. Furthermore it wasn't addressed how fraudulent art impacts the world today. This is merely liberal propaganda. Your just as bad as fox news. Because at the end of this post all I got out of it was. "I dont like wall street executives. They dont buy art from struggling artists."

And why do the majority of the posters on this topic arrogant enough to be able to place themselves in the shoes of executives and lawyers?! Half of you dont have the wit, stomach, backbone to be half of either. Not to mention even a vague conception of what takes to even get started on a career like that.

9/08/2013 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Peter Haken said...

Copies but still master pieces, art in the beholder

9/08/2013 5:06 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Paul Worley writes: "why do the majority of the posters on this topic arrogant enough to be able to place themselves in the shoes of executives and lawyers?!"

Paul, I've spent 20 years as a senior partner in a large multinational law firm that is consistently rated one of the top firms in the country. In that capacity I have worked closely with top executives and board members at some of the largest corporations in the world. I'm not sure whether that makes me more qualified or less qualified to write on this subject.

If at the end of this post you think my only message was, "I dont like wall street executives. They dont buy art from struggling artists," then perhaps I wasn't explicit enough, but perhaps you weren't reading carefully enough: in this case, the wall street executives DID buy art from a struggling artist, they just didn't realize it. They wouldn't touch his work when it was displayed on the sidewalk, but when the same artist displayed his work in a fancy frame using someone else's fancy name, it suddenly became worth millions of dollars. Doesn't that tell you anything at all about their criteria and their taste?

Peter Haken wrote: "art [is in the eye of] the beholder."

Within limits.

9/09/2013 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

Paul Worley,
As bad as Fox News, merely liberal propaganda?

Wasn't it the Wall St. Journal that declared the nation state dead? Was WSJ expressing liberal, conservative, or global radicalism with the statement?

Check out the leadership and past members of The Aspen Institute and you'll get over the left-right thing in a hurry. Radical globalism has no liberal and conservative.

You are also confusing the rigors of the required education and work environment of Wall St. with possessing the moral high ground. Hard working people of different talents make this same mistake all the time.

Next time the “Too Big To Fails” come with their hands out asking and getting trillions under the radar, including foreign banks, maybe they should be told to go home and pull up their bootstraps like everyone else. Then we can open up state banks as Karl Denninger suggested early on (and loan interest payments could serve local interests).

9/09/2013 1:36 PM  
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9/12/2013 7:31 AM  

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