Monday, May 17, 2010


They invented perfect beauty, those ancient Greeks.

Of course people made beautiful things before the Greeks, but it was the Greeks who dreamed there could be a perfect version of beauty out there waiting to be attained.

Aristotle made the first serious attempt at defining "perfection" but even before him Pythagoras and other pre-Socratics speculated about an ideal beauty. They pursued it with the language of mathematics, asserting that objects look better when proportioned in accordance with the "golden ratio." They believed objects would appear more "complete" and "perfect" if they were symmetrical, with clean shapes in harmony with classical archetypes.

They hoped these principles would lead them to perfect beauty. Unfortunately, they didn't get very far before the goat-god yanked them back.

The Greeks were so confident that their culture was superior, imagine their surprise when the good citizens of Athens began to lose interest in high culture and stray back to the more earthy, passionate cults of their barbaric neighbors. Historian Arthur Koestler claims that Athenian gods lost their attraction as they became more formal and detached from base human emotions:
At an unknown date, but probably not much before the sixth century, the cult of Dionysus‑Bacchus, the 'raging' goat‑god of fertility and wine, spread from barbaric Thracia into Greece. The initial success of Bacchism was probably due to that general sense of frustration ... [that] the Olympian Pantheon had come to resemble an assembly of wax‑works, whose formalized worship could [not] satisfy truly religious needs.... A spiritual void tends to create emotional outbreaks; the Bacchae of Euripides, frenzied worshippers of the horned god....
The Greeks discovered that their lofty aspirations were chained to their earthy goat-god origins. High culture could only take them so close to "perfection" before they ran out of chain.

Greek poets bemoaned the effect of Bacchism on their womenfolk: "Theban women leaving/Their spinning and their weaving/Stung with the maddening trance/Of Dionysus!"

Today we still admire the Greeks' smooth, classical ideals of beauty but we too remain tethered to the goat-god part of our nature. Art becomes less satisfying as it becomes too orderly, smooth and formal. We cannot polish and refine our way to perfection; beyond a certain point, perfection begins to weaken art rather than strengthen it.

Koestler described how the savvy Greeks absorbed and blunted the threat of wild Bacchism:
The outbreak seems to have been sporadic and short‑lived. The Greeks, being Greeks, soon realized that these excesses led neither to mystic union with God, nor back to nature, but merely to mass-hysteria.... The authorities seemed to have acted with eminent reasonableness: they promoted Bacchus‑Dionysus to the official Pantheon with a rank equal to Apollo's. His frenzy was tamed, his wine watered down, his worship regulated, and used as a harmless safety‑valve.
The Greeks' wise technique for co-opting wildness is still employed by artists today. A carefully controlled picture often includes an uncontrolled splatter or eruption or rough line-- not enough to lose control of the picture, but enough to show that wildness still has a seat in the artist's pantheon:

Jeffrey Jones carefully captured facial features, but then indulged in a frenzy for her hair

Note how the great Ronald Searle gains power with from uncontrolled spatters and ink drops.

This sensitive portrait by Jack Unruh would not be nearly as potent if he had not gone back and roughed it up with that dense black and spattering.

Even the erudite Steinberg bows to the virility of non-cognitivism: he draws the icons of civilization with a light and lacy line, but adds strength with a rough, black scrape of a brush.

Pictures still pay tribute to the goat-god, and are rewarded with his strength and vitality


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Rob Howard said...

This is an interesting take on two antipodes of human society. I just finished writing to a young student of mine who is now exploring the vast challenges of Cubism and, unlike the I-have-a-six-year-old-who-can-do-that crowd has come to realize the challenges of this scientifically-oriented age are based in research into previously unexplored areas.

What you are addressing are criteria based in an older fascination with human feelings and the lionizing of those feelings into something of interest and worth. As we have seen, the popularity of Frazetta among the unschooled has to do more with his churning up those dark cthonian urges than any appeal past the pre-cortical brain.

This classic Apollonian/Dionysian conflict is reflected in today's art world, with the Apollonian contingent occupying the high ground of the monied galleries like Gagosian and the Dionysian contingent expressing their feelings in paint on the Internet and railing about the vast shadowy art conspiracy that keeps them out of the running for the big bucks.

The reality is that no one gives much of a damn for art as a confessional or an extension of the therapist's couch. They don't care about the artist's feelings. They want the artist to do what Frazetta did...make them feel. But that is, and always will be the low end of art...easy to understand, requiring no study...just feelings...woo, woo, woo fee-e-e-elings.

In the long run...the very, very long run, the examples of Apollonian Greek thinking have survived whereas the Bacchantes have faded into a vague hangover and waking in a pool of your own effluvia.

Feelings are like so early 20th century, man.

Anonymous said...

Mr. David..
..another, thoughtful , entertaining, enlightening post..
your blog creates contemplation, conversation, and action..
you are definitely wired into an active Art consciousness..if you ever teach somewhere, I am taking the class.
thanks for your contributions to this vast internet,

Matthew Adams said...

I saw some illustrations Unruh did for a real estate company's brochures. Absolutely stunning, made me re-assess the whole idea that such menial illustration jobs were really that menial, or if it was just the attidue that was menial.

अर्जुन said...

Robz nailed it, from ancient to modern, hail Apollo.

kev ferrara said...

Very strong essay, David. It was a pleasure to read. Thank you.

It seems throughout history the same lessons are, again and again, learned too late and forgotten too quickly. And, most horrifically, this doesn't just apply to the arts.

The dangers of fixating on any utopian idea... a generation expends its energy gathering reality into their catch-all container, only to find it's a sieve.

Then, rather than acknowledge that the religion of their youth was nothing more than a childish fantasy, that happiness can't be diagrammed on paper, they become totalitarians and try to force the cattle herd down their particular mental funnel.

And then the backlash starts. Gravity wants its pendulum back.

Idealism evolved to allow us to make tools and paths, to notice the fitness of things. The application of idealism to large scale endeavor is enormously dangerous, grandiose. Nature does not do "top-down" control. It always proceeds from the bottom up, self-organizing its systems based on simple rules that scale up effortlessly. (The simple concept of duality, for instance.)

The great problem of movements is that they are all youth movements. And youth are unprincipled about what they are principled about... Rigorous about checkers and chess and other intellectual games involving perfections, but clueless about reality, history, life, and people.

The worst people are those aging idealists who never realize their own tragic mental failing... the inability to hold more than one strong thought in the mind at once. Those pied pipers, (who are rightly shunned by the town elders), often seek to spend their later years hovering around young people (who do not have the experience to determine just how and why there are so many holes in the mental sieve of the paunchy piper who sings his tune to them)

Of course, these aging idea-addicts want to infect the young with their fantasy religions... so at least they can go to their graves believing, failing all else, that their sacred idea still had enough pep to wriggle into another larvae.

Small compensations for small minds.

Kagan M. said...

Loved it!

Anthony Zierhut said...

Brilliant, David. This reminds me of a Murakami exhibit I saw couple years ago -- room after room of perfectly executed fiberglass robots and characters, paintings with razor sharp, perfectly clean shapes edges, flat computer-like color, logos, trademarked consumer items, computer generated movies, carefully conceived, deliberately executed, ironic and icily detached.

Then on the bus ride home, passing through the MacArthur tunnels in downtown L.A., I can't express the joy and relief I felt looking at the spray painted graffiti on the walls - marks of the human hand! For the first time in my life I was grateful, not offended, by the sight of vandalism. It felt as if I had walked out of a mausoleum and into a forest.

Anonymouse said...


Like a dog chasing its own tail.

Tom said...

Nice Essay David Remains me of the Chinese artists who filled their mouths with ink, and spat the ink on the paper and then discovered a painting to paint.

What would we do without our ideas of opposition?

Anonymouse said...

Artists have progressed to using the other end of the alimentary canal for that now, TOm. OPposition, gotta love it!

David Apatoff said...

Rob, I agree with you 100% about the classic Apollonian / Dionysian conflict (clearly the game to watch ever since Nietzsche resurrected them from the dormant classics and gave them modern meaning). My prejudices generally lean in the same direction on this issue. (As I implied at the end of this post, I think the people who use wild abandon most effectively in their art are the people who are able to use it in a carefully calculated and controlled way).

But do you think the tension between the two sides would have had such staying power if they weren't a little more evenly matched than you suggest?

You say, "The reality is that no one gives much of a damn for art as a confessional or an extension of the therapist's couch. They don't care about the artist's feelings. They want the artist to do what Frazetta did...make them feel." But of course, often the artist's feelings are what make the viewer feel, yes? What percentage of the reaction to Van Gogh relates to his mental illness and suicide? Can you judge a Gauguin without thinking of his escape from society? How much does Eugene O'Neill's personal life story heighten his tragedies for viewers? Would Fiddy Cent be revered today if he hadn't been shot 9 times?

I don't know how often a grieving heart or bitter isolation enhances or informs the art object itself, but I do know that people hate phony poseurs and love sincerity, and that spills over into the time and patience and good will with which they receive your art. All of the artists I listed (well, except Fiddy Cent) learned to control their art along the lines that you suggest, but wouldn't you say that their end product was at least energized or diven by those "feelings"?

David Apatoff said...

D.H.-- thanks for the very kind words, I appreciate them.

Matthew Adams-- I know just what you mean about Unruh. I think he is terrific.

अर्जुन -- I think I need to meditate on your comment a little.

Anonymouse said...

Fiddy was only shot 3 times. He lied! SO maybe van gogh wasn't really crazy, just neurotic

Anonymouse said...

AND what's crazier? Escaping from society or staying in it?

Anonymouse said...

But wait, GAugin didn't really escape from society. He just went from one society to another that was more simple. NEver mind.

Rob Howard said...

>>>often the artist's feelings are what make the viewer feel, yes? <<<
I'm not convinced of that. I recall and interview with Barry Manilow when he was at the zenith of his career. Like many of the Brill Building group, he was a composer for hire, rather than a performer. The interviewer asked him about his feelings and emotions while performing and his answer struck me as what lies at the very heart of professionalism. He indicated that his job was to make the young girls cry (as he wrote in a song) and that no one was going to pay to hear his voice crack with emotion or watch him blubber on stage. Professional performance is largely a technical skill.

>>>What percentage of the reaction to Van Gogh relates to his mental illness and suicide?<<<
The current wisdom is that he was far from being the raving lunatic depicted in Lust For Life. I have to believe that anyone capable of writing and speaking five languages is far more disciplined that the movies let on. In reading what he wrote, it is apparent that he put a great deal of forethought and planning into his pictures. I don't believe that painting was some sort of neurotic activity in which he rushed the canvas like a one-eared priapus. His writing does not indicate that at all.

>>> Can you judge a Gauguin without thinking of his escape from society?<<<
Although more common in his day, it's not unusual to receive a proposal from an artist planning to travel to an exotic locale, where if you pre-pay, you are guaranteed a painting by that artist done in that locale. This was a marketing strategy that Gaugin employed...take subscriptions and go to a place where his money could go far. You should know that he didn't live in a grass hut with the locals. He lived in the French colony, with bakeries, restaurants and bistros, as well as physicians to treat his ailments. Agin, do not think the paintings reflect his daily life. They did not.

>>>How much does Eugene O'Neill's personal life story heighten his tragedies for viewers?<<<
Lots of people have a nutty spouse and a drinking problem. Are they able to construct stories with the skill that O'Neil demonstrated? Let's not forget that he was a helluva fine writer when life was going along swimmingly. Feeling bad doesn't enhance one's work anymore than it enhances one's daily life. There's a big difference between a confessional diary and fine writing like he made. That's skill and genius.

>>>Would Fiddy Cent be revered today if he hadn't been shot 9 times? <<<
I feel that he was not shot early enough or often enough.

Anonymouse said...

That's amazing Rob. You really think great artists of the past were that similar to you? YEt, they make great art while you make highly competent yet completely sterile "art"work. SOmething is missing, don't you think???

Anonymouse said...

It looks like Rob has built impenetrable walls between his APollo and his DIonysus. That's why his art is so perfect and lifeless while his philosophy is comedic at best.


kev ferrara said...

I agree with Rob on Gauguin and Van Gogh. They had radical aesthetic ideas, but they were ideas borne of clarity not confusion.

Personally I never think of an artist's life story when I look at their work. The work itself contains the personality, and the personality reveals all we need to know to understand the work.

I disagree about emotion in the performance of a work of art. There is a distinction to be drawn between being in a fit of passion, where no creative work can be done, versus being in a mood of passion, where the best creative work is done... the zen-like state where the hand is guided by the instinctive imagination and all else falls away.

Anonymouse said...

Kev, sweety-pie, before there is clarity, there is confusion.

B. Sack said...

If Manilow realizes that his blubbering isn't effective it doesn't mean that he had no feeling for what he wrote or sang. If a reasonable person wants you to be moved as they're moved and to feel what they feel (or felt), they generally realize that it'll take more than sobbing openly. An awareness and an understanding of feeling, with a calculated and disciplined approach, is still feeling. To say that Van Gogh used thought and planning says absolutely nothing against what his life meant and added to his work. Likewise with the others. Their success largely comes down to their feeling and reaction to life, with skill and technique only aiding in this. Why we wont remember you, Howard, and why you're not going anywhere career-wise, is, to look at the other direction one can go, for lack of this, I would say. Cold and entirely concerned with the technical, offering only the personality of a life spent at a desk (and now computer) day in and day out, that's what your work speaks and why it's doomed as it is... If you maybe went outside every once in a while, Howard, took up that man on the street corner's offer of crystal meth, the story might've been a little different...

Anonymouse said...

CRystal meth? HOLd your (goodbye)horses! Maybe he just had a bad trip in the 60's!

Laurence John said...

David, i don't really see bacchanalian abandon in a bit of looser than normal inking. interesting idea though. but controlled and calculated abandonment sounds like an oxymoron to me.

"But of course, often the artist's feelings are what make the viewer feel, yes?"

if you mean the feelings come through in the finished work, yes. if you mean the artist's tragic life colours our perception of the work, then yes it often does, but shouldn't.

kev ferrara said...

Anonymouse, this may be a little picayune, but, while it is true that confusion comes before clarity, an applicable aesthetic idea does not arise out of confusion. THe definition of an idea is that it has form, which is to say, the structure for the information has been conceived in the mind.

Even if you don't care for Van Gogh or Gauguin's work, you can see the organization of their paintings. And sensible organization is the opposite of madness.

Laurence, calculated abandon is a very real thing. Certain effects of the brush cannot be made deliberately. They must be made slapdash, and yet they must perform a certain function. So while the general character, location and direction of a "wild" application of pigment is predetermined, the actual look on the page of this stroke is "up to fate" because its specifics cannot be determined before hand without inhibiting the spontanaeity required. The artist just "uses the force" and hopes the slapdash application is more right than wrong. (Wrong can always be corrected or harmonized, anyhow.)

Anonymouse said...

Picayune indeed KEv. Confusion is incomplete or mismatched ideas. Completeness comes from incompleteness, form from chaos, clarity from confusiuon, Ta-da!

Anonymouse said...

If it weren't for all that groping in the dark, you would have never found the light switch.

kev ferrara said...

Theory of me, the question is whether Van Gogh and Gauguin's aesthetics arose from madness or reason.

Coherence, the hallmark of an idea, arises from organization, not chaos, formlessness, or what have you. Millions of people experience formlessness and don't build aesthetic coherence from it. So the root cause of the manifestation of an idea in a human work must be human organization, not chaos. Chaos does not have significance except as a concept of itself.

Nod once if you understand that I am using the word "cause" to mean "willful agency" in this context.

Nod again if you understand that there is a difference between the will to create aesthetic form and the animist will to survive that all organisms exhibit.

(Incidentally, you can't fumble around for a light switch unless you know what a light switch is, where it might be, what it feels like, and how it works, and why it might be useful. Regardless, a light switch is man made so it is a bad analogy for your purposes.)

The point is that Van Gogh and Gauguin may have been aesthetic radicals, but this radicalism had metaphysical structure before it had physical manifestation. They were Symbolists teasing out new aesthetic ideas from the principles of Romanticism.

Lastly, the human imagination breaks the bonds of determinism. That's why we're special.

Anonymouse said...

Ah. but you can bump into a light switch in the dark and flick it on without knowing what it is. Same with other inventions or discoveries, trial and error.

Anonymouse said...

COherence may rise from organization but what does organization rise from? MOre organizations? Ha ha! That's dumb.

Anonymouse said...

Before there was awareness, there was what, awareness?>
BEfore there was light there was light?
That's idiotic kev, stop it already.

Anonymouse said...

'the human imagination breaks the bonds of determinism. That's why we're special'

SO Frazetta had to break the chain of cause and effect to paint and draw? HE's more amazing than we ever imagined!!!! He made J ALlen St. John never exist! Such unfathomable wizardy!

WE are in awe!!

Anonymouse said...

Kev, you think you're special don't you? LMAO!

kev ferrara said...

Theory of Me,

Trial and error only works because of the recognition of fitness. Recognition of fitness in the arts is an act of consciousness that arises from the will to solve an aesthetic problem. The imagination works by trial and error as well, but would be useless without willful direction and the ability to recognize a fit result.

The organization of aesthetic ideas arise from the particular talent available in abundance to human will, that of symbolization ability. This ability evolved from our abilities to read and communicate signs that appear in the natural environment. Only humans are able to repurpose that ability in a significant way toward aesthetics... which have synthetic significance. In all of nature there are no other impressive examples of synthetic significance except in the activity of humans. Most every other activity is preprogrammed by biology which has its fitness due to the processes of evolution, which is to say, physics. Only humans create fitnesses that exist apart from material requirements.

Re: What was before awareness... that's idiocy... etc.

The "idiocy" was your own, of course. You built that straw man, so if you want to mock him, go right ahead.

kev ferrara said...

Your comments are turning worthless, now.

If your ego can't stand to have its tenets questions, maybe you shouldn't get involved in any conversation where there is a chance you might be challenged.

LMAO indeed.

Anonymouse said...

O-RLY?? ANd where does that "will to solve" come from? Does it have to be formed? If yes, then chaos, groping, trial and error. If no then you are silly.

Anonymouse said...

'Most every other activity is preprogrammed by biology'

LMAO! SO people are NOT preprogrammed products of biology?! You're what they call a fucktard, kev.

Anonymouse said...

And your posts are getting longer and longer and more ponderous. WTF have I gotten myself into?

kev ferrara said...

Please respond to the full sentences I'm writing, rather than picking half sentences out of context so you can seem smart when you respond to them.

I did not say our biological abilities with form weren't preprogrammed.

I said: Only humans create fitnesses that exist apart from material requirements.

That is the distinction I drew.

Try to respond as if you are an adult this time with some abilities with reading comprehension. We aren't debating ultimate causes here. We are debating proximate causes.

What you have "gotten yourself into" is a situation where appealing to your absent high school buddies with "LMAO's" and "What have I got into's" cannot exempt you from facing the weakness of your thought under test pressure.

Absit reverentia vero

Anonymouse said...

'I did not say our biological abilities with form weren't preprogrammed.'

ROFLMAo! What a dipshit! Hey look, a full sentence! Unfortunately, if they are preprogrammed it craps all over your fantasy about the human imagination breaking the bonds of determinism, Ooops!

STupid idiot, get your half-baked ideas in order.

Anonymouse said...

'Absit reverentia vero'

WTF is this? IS that supposed to impress someone. Trust me, you're the only one.

kev ferrara said...

Dear Unpleasant Child,

Try to understand the distinction here:

For the sake of argument, let's grant that the human imagination may have been the result of biological/physical determinism.

But the imagination's metaphysical products are self-regulated... that is, their fitnesses are determined outside of the purely physical Darwinistic winnowing process that structures normally go through.

Since the mind is composed of many different types of neurons with many degrees of sensitivity, all of which are imperfect mechanisms, an imaginary macro structure does not go through perfect mechanistic testing in the mind before being materialized by a conscious being.

The mechanistic imprecision of biology creates imperfect fitnesses all over the place, which open room for free will.

Determinism, it seems to me, always fails once it starts making structures that are so large and complex that they cannot have perfect environmental sensitivity.

Recap: Lack of perfect environmental sensitivity allows room for consciousness to develop in the place of pure mechanism as the governing force of the macro body. Even as the sub quantum level may remain deterministic.


Re: Latin... Some aphorism are worth repeating because they put things well, even if in a foreign language. I'm sure you're smart enough to understand that.

David Apatoff said...

Kev, I turned my back on this blog for a day because I had to do some honest work, and upon returning I see that people have been very busy in my absence. This is in response to your very first comment. (I haven't even read your other comments yet, so I apologize if this has been covered).

Your comment rightly criticizes "youth movements" for being clueless, but then you also criticize(again rightly, in my view) "aging idealists" who have become ossified in their thinking. Obviously both sides of the spectrum have strengths and weaknesses to contribute. I tend to think that creative endeavors are at their best when a single person is substantial enough to combine the strengths of youth and maturity (as opposed to bridging the gap the way you describe, with one generation "infecting" the next).

In particular, your comment made me think of a very nice passage by Podhoretz (the father, not the dimwitted son): "Creativity represents a miraculous coming together of the uninhibited energy of the child with its apparent opposite and enemy-- the sense of order so painfully imposed on what finally grows, if it ever does, into the disciplined adult intelligence. When there is no such coming together, we get "happenings" on the one side and listless mandarinism on the other."

kev ferrara said...

Thanks, David. That's a fabulous passage from Podhoretz Sr.

The passage itself is a commentary on the difference between Norman Podhoretz and his son. I can only tolerate listening to someone who has seriously engaged with the complete opposite of what they now believe. Norman's direct experience with the best and worst of the left directly informs his understanding of his current political milieu, its strengths and failings. I can't say the same for his son.

David Apatoff said...

Kagan M-- Thanks!

Anthony Zierhut-- That's a good analogy. I imagine you'd get tired of a steady diet of nothing but forest after a while, but when you are emerging from a world of precision and refinement that raw natural environment can really rejuvenate you.

Tom-- another good analogy. Personally, I have no problem starting a picture with the ink an artist has spit out of his or her mouth; of course, a lot depends on where they take it from there.

kev ferrara said...

... "complete opposite" is too strong.

I mean "seriously challenges" or "contradicts substantively"

Anonymouse said...

Wow KEv, what a gasbag you are! IF"fitnesses" are determined that puts the kibosh on free will! IT doesn't matter where they're determined, they're determined so free will goes *poof*!

Anonymouse said...

If the imagination is determined then how the HELL are its ideas not determined!? YOu're a loon!

David Apatoff said...

Anonymouse said "Fiddy was only shot 3 times. He lied!"

You're kidding! Has that been confirmed??? If true, I will never appreciate his music in the same way again.

Laurence John said "controlled and calculated abandonment sounds like an oxymoron to me."


Anonymouse said...

BEcause something is imperfect doesn't mean that it transcends cause and effect. You so crazy, man! Things are CAUSED to be imperfect, duh!

Anonymouse said...

ANd imperfect things can lead to perfect things. Determinism! SO obvious! OMG!

Anonymouse said...

NEver mind that ideas of 'perfection' and 'imperfection' are tags imposed by the mind. GTFO kev!

kev ferrara said...

Anonymouse, I guess you are unable to visualize the mechanism being discussed.

Which is a very good example where a failure of a biological mechanism (your mechanistic imagination) prevents an otherwise deterministic chain of communication from completing a circuit of understanding.

Thus your lack of imagination proves why free will must exist.

Unfortunately, this point will be beyond you as well.

Nature is randomly cruel.

Anonymouse said...

THat makes no sense kev, but I gotta go. The female needs attention. BBL.

David Apatoff said...

Rob Howard said, "Feeling bad doesn't enhance one's work anymore than it enhances one's daily life. There's a big difference between a confessional diary and fine writing like [Eugene O'Neill] made. That's skill and genius."

I take your point, and I agree that no one wants to see Barry Manilow's emotions get away from him. As Proust said, "the real masters are those who master themselves."

HOWEVER: I do think you are overstating your case.
We know at least one thing about an artist who feels tortured (whether that feeling stems from objectively tragic events or just an unbearable awareness of the universe): that person is sensitive and alert enough to notice and feel pain from conditions to which many of us may be oblivious. If that person also happens to have the gift to communicate their awareness, you are likely to get something more edifying about the human condition than you would receive from a dazzling technician.

I'm sure you would agree that a mature artist drawing on a wealth of experience is more likely to have something interesting to say than a 12 year old pup who never leaves his bedroom. Why then should it be hard for you to believe that a 40 year old artist who has struggled with his mother's addiction or who has looked upon tempests or who has wrestled with an addiction might have a broader range of experience, and a greater familiarity with the varieties of humanity, than a 40 year old artist who has been a bank clerk living in the suburbs? In both cases, additional experience can be an asset in creating some forms of art.

O'Neill was able to write "Long Day's Journey Into Night" because he lived everyday with those agonizing dilemmas, he saw the way people deluded themselves and preyed upon each other. His nose was rubbed in it, and I'm sure he played his escape over and over again in his mind. I don't think that O'Neill or Dostoevsky could simply project themselves into complex characters without some personal experience with the complexities of the human heart.

I have never attempted to catalogue the different types of art, or the ways that different elements contribute toward the success of failure of those different types, but I am pretty sure that the experience of the artist can count for something substantial in that mix. Maybe nobody wants to hear Barry Manilow's voice quiver, but it might enhance their experience if the mature Judy Garland or Billie Holiday betrays genuine emotion.

rs said...

Great post. Reminds me of a visit I made some years ago to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid. The earliest art is on the top floor. I began my journey on this floor and worked down chronologically to the modern art on the ground floor. From medieval religious paintings to Jackson Pollack and beyond. The goat-god has been yanking away and this collection shows the result.

David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara said, "Personally I never think of an artist's life story when I look at their work. The work itself contains the personality, and the personality reveals all we need to know to understand the work."

Kev, I agree that ultimately a work of art has to stand alone and can't be dependent upon what some random viewer happens to know about the artist's life story. But can you really say that your experience of an image has never been materially enhanced by knowledge of its surrounding circumstances? Would Goya's etchings mean as much to you if you didn't know something about the horrors of Spain and the inquisition? Wouldn't you write off Van Gogh's "wheat field with crows" as a muddled mishmash of a composition if you didn't know that the artist's own path was coming to a confused end? You have commented before about the great era of self-consciousness in art, where the treatises and manifestoes of artists such as Kandinsky, Duchamp, etc. make a big difference. Don't those matter?

Kev also wrote, "There is a distinction to be drawn between being in a fit of passion, where no creative work can be done, versus being in a mood of passion, where the best creative work is done..."

Some time ago I referred on this blog to the temptation that has occurred to every artist over a certain age: "Gee... making art feels wonderful and making love feels wonderful... if only there were some way to combine the two, I'll bet the experience would really be something..." But no matter how an artist struggles to blend the two experiences, the resulting art is always crummy. As Robert Coane said, "You can't drool and draw." Art demands its own distance.

kev ferrara said...

Actually, your points (on Goya and Distance) are again related.

My simple tenet is this: Journalism should have no art. That is, it should have no emotional coloring other than that which I feel while in direct contact with the relevant facts. (The relevant facts being all those facts collected in good conscience, which describe both the incident and its relevant context, unfiltered by any ideological slant whatsoever.).

(Since there is no news organization that has this level of integrity, or even comes close, you can imagine what I think of the media. And the damage it has caused to human life.)

Art, I believe, is about the spirit and unity of things, and truths as seen through the temperament of the heart. Art is poetry and metaphor and dreams.

I appreciate journalism like I appreciate an auto mechanic. I want no poetry, no song, no agenda. Just get me the facts and the context and tell me what it will cost.

Looking at Goya's etchings, there is too much poetry in there for me to like him as a mechanic of journalism. I don't appreciate his work on that front. Some of what he says may be true, some not. I can't tell because there's too much personality. There's no way, at this remove, to gauge him as a journalist.

However, I can well appreciate Goya aesthetically and I can appreciate his scenes of brutality as representative of the truth of all brutality and all wars. This is the larger statement of an artist. Just like Kathe Kollwitz' "Mother with Dead Child" is an icon of the idea of a mother with a dead child, rather than a journalizing of a specific incident of a specific mother with a specific child.

The same goes for any Van Gogh. The role of the artist is to express the wonder, say, of a Starry Night... so the experience of that wonder is communicated. The artist isn't opening a Nikon aperture on the world, or seeing through a wide angle Lieca. He isn't opening any aperture at all to the world as it looks. He is actually closing his eyes so he can see according to how he feels. And by this synthetic method, he re-imagines the experience of a Starry Night so the audience can feel that wonder too. Van Gogh surely hasn't re-imagined a Starry Night to explain what a starry night looks like... the dead blinking lights in a black sky as seen through a photo lens. That spiritless version is available anywhere.

When I say I never think of Van Gogh's deprivation in later life, I am speaking the truth. I never think of Fechin's life either, I never think of Frazetta's life, nor Brangwyn's, nor Pyle's... a life begins the same and ends the same and most of it is eating, sleeping, and indulging in necessary pleasure. One war is pretty much the same as the next. One corrupt politician, one thief, one religion, one trip abroad, one divorce, one love affair, one madness, one addiction, one destitution... All pretty much the same from life to life.

Although everybody will think that their particular life is a special thing, the only thing that elevates one life from another, as I see it, is if the reaction to it becomes symbolic to more than just the person it happened to.

Thus, the great art teachers of history, time and again, admonish their student to seek the universal in the personal, the timeless in the momentary, because they know moments pass, that history is but a passing parade, but truths of humanity remain true eternally.

Anonymouse said...

Okay, Lack of imagination proves free will? Total nonsense. Failure of a "mechanistic imagination" can be caused by countless things, dummy. IF it's nature being cruel then nature being cruel is the cause.


Anonymouse said...

DO we freely choose to lack imagination? Of course not!

Anonymouse said...

Can Kev freely choose between believing his nonsense and seeing it for the bullshit it really is? OF course not!

B. Sack said...

I agree with Ferrara. As a news outlet, Goya is no good. There's not enough objective truth there and objective truth is all I'll consider. When I look at painting, I'm looking to a precursor to CNN. I want to know the unbiased facts so that I can form the appropriate opinion. Anything else is meaningless to me - I discard it like the wrapper from a burrito. I don't want the world through the painter's true eyes - what's the good of that? - and even though I like to blabber about art in relation to past art, clearly finding appreciation in how it connects to this and that and what historical devices are being employed, I like to just flat out ignore the artists own life, both the climate of the time and his/her personal history.

I don't want the personal, I just want the plain and sterile reality. Each painter through time should've thought of themselves as like a robot recording humanity, not their life but THE life. The personal brings nothing. I can't take it. I cast that aside and I look for the plain and untouched reality. In the vision of others - the uniqueness of one - I see nothing and can appreciate nothing. Their peculiarities, their notions, their life, I don't want it. It's meaningless and brings nothing. If I didn't believe this I would be crippled by the realization that my own mind, my own view and personality, actually means something to all the technical know-how I've acquired, that technical know-how isn't all there is, that there's something more that people are responding to in art than just a finely painted eyebrow and that that "more" can't be found in an instructional book on art... I'd be ruined!

Mechanical, mechanical, mechanical! Once one has the technical know-how they find truth and worth through a scientific-like process, that's the only way to get there. Life, living it, responding to it, exploring ones own response and vision, that's not to come into play. That's gobbledygook. All that's holding me back at this point is just a lack of technical know-how, but once I get all the technical know-how, once I know all the answers as to what colours mean what, the great art will come. There's no two-ways about it, my friends. I know this and the true leaders of art today know this.

One foolishly asks what was before awareness, was there life itself, living, and then, in response to that, painting based on technical know-how? No, there was mechanical process and then there was mechanical process, all owing to technical know-how found in fine books at your local library. One also wonders if through one's confusion - through their life - they might come upon something - a reaction, a feeling - and later dissect it to create a certain order and result of appeal and 'truth'? More gobbledygook. There is only scientific process, discovery through this process, then more scientific process.

Anonymouse said...

MY sarcasm detector just shat itself. LOL!

kev ferrara said...

Too much dysfunction crying out for attention.

Anonymouse said...

AWW, poor widdle Kevvy, feeling butthurt? Don't take your toys and leave. Come back and play some more!

Ban the Assholes said...

He said "dummy."

heh heh.

Then he said, "idiot."

Heh heh.

Idiot is a funny word to call somebody.

Heh heh.

Then kev ignored him.

What's a matter kev? Don't want to waste your time talking to losers and assholes?

Anonymouse said...

Fuck you, man!

You're a fucktard!


I called him a fucktard!!

I heard that on teh interwebz somewhere.

Heh heh

B. Sack said...

B. Sack stands for Ball Sack!

Get it!

heh heh!

Get it??

God I'm so fucking funny sitting here with a dumb ass grin on.

Please don't ban me, even though I contribute nothing.

Please... I need the attention.


Anonymouse said...

I need the attention too!

I really need it.


Sitting here all alone.

I realize I'm a loser. I just don't know what else to do.

Please don't ban me.

Anonymouse said...

Christ, I'm such a fucking loser.

Anonymouse said...

And where's Rob? WHy's he been so quiet? Oh, that's right IT's because I Totally PWNED him!

Anonymouse said...

This sucks.

I used the word PWNED and nobody laughed.

Nobody cared.

Everybody else gets a laugh from PWNED...

Why am I such a loser all of a sudden?

Anonymouse said...

I've always been a loser! Only losers argue on the INternets!

Anonymouse said...

God I'm such a loser.

I can't believe everybody here thinks I'm a dick.

And this is my entire social life.

I would kill myself but I'm too afraid I'll miss.

Anonymouse said...

I live in my mom's basement! TRue story!

B. Sack said...

All fine points, impersonator of "anonymouse." Your insights into the exact recipe of Da Vinci's brown are exquisite. If this keeps up we might soon discover the exact technique that made his art so timeless. At this time I am delighted to reveal that I have also narrowed down the exact font used in the first edition of "Crime and Punishment," it's either Times Roman or Times New Roman! The way things are going it looks like soon I'm going to be both a great writer and a great painter! Hurrah!

B. Sack said...

Oh, and one more thing, you stupid impersonator. You can see I'm not effected by you. I'm not emotionally effected.

I'm still funny as shit. I'm completely wild. I forgot to mention how funny I am in the last post.

And I mean funny. Big time.

And clever.

My friends always said I was clever. That's how I came up with B. Sack as short for Ball Sack. I come up with witty stuff like that all the time. The Da Vinci formula code joke too, that's my own idea. And the font joke.

That's how comedy works, for all you aficianados out there. First you come up with the outrageous idea, the thing that really makes you howl and roll on the floor. And then you put it out there so people can really get a good hard chuckle out of it.

Sometimes people really laugh at stuff I say.

They used to, at least. I haven't seen a lot of my friends in a while. (People fall out of touch. You know how it is.)

I guess I'm kind of a lonely and pathetic right now in my life. I don't know how things got so dull.

Truth is, nobody cares whether I live or die. Nobody's around. I pretty much hate everything about my life.

Sometimes I wonder if I hate myself. I know that's a weird thing to admit to a bunch of anonymous people on the net. But I don't have anyone else to talk to.

Charles C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles C. said...

Pranksters! Life is wonderful, I shall never say anything to contrary! One shall know me by my delightful wit, my thick paragraphs and my use of commas. Such a poor impersonator to speak in these sentences spaced-out like paragraphs and the ill-use of brackets, nothing I displayed before... Why, it's almost like the unusually absent Kev Ferrara's particular way of typing. I guess behaving like a baby is one way to respond to reasoned criticism, Ferrara. It may not be the B. Sack way but it's certainly one way to go...

Laurence John said...

Kev, i don't think a bit of calculated risk taking in the brush department means you're channeling Dionysus.

Anonymouse... thanks, i've never seen a nervous breakdown in a comment section before. that was a first.

David, PLEASE reconsider switching on comment moderation.

Anonymous said...

See what happens when you invoke that creepy goat-god? Azazel and his minions come a calling.

David Apatoff said...

Laurence John said: "David, PLEASE reconsider switching on comment moderation."

I have always taken particular pleasure in the fact that this blog is not a polite salon or a graduate school seminar but a place next to the railroad tracks where weeds and wildflowers can grow side by side. I have really enjoyed that mathematicians and young comic book fans can throw out ideas alongside professional artists and computer scientists, or that different generations have a safe place to ridicule each other's taste. And quite frankly, I don't have the time to play traffic cop for a bunch of adults.

However, looking over the recent surge in pointless name calling and identity theft , I fear that we are headed toward comment moderation simply because readers will no longer find it worthwhile to sift through all the litter on my railroad tracks to seek out genuine comments. I can promise you this: I will never use moderation to censor any comment about my posts. You can feel free to insult me or my taste all you want.

In the meantime, can I remind readers of the old adage that "arguing with a fool only proves there are two." If you think someone is only interested in ad hominem attacks, better to ignore them and move on rather than trying to shame them into silence.

Anonymous said...

..Lol.. Lets turn this blog into a reality tv show, and get PAID?!..
.."Anonymous" and "Ball Sack" are the same person??!, antagonizing Rob and Kev with a barrage of ping pong banter?.. Rob lays low like a frightened sniper, Kev diverts the attack with an proliferation of intellectual discourse..all of this amidst an engaging discussion of Apollonian/Dionysian Conflict in Art..whoa
This is better than "V",
we have content, conflict, naked pictures, and 50 Cent..lets talk percentages David!

David Apatoff said...

D.H.-- if you can secure commitments from some of the star attractions, your idea is fine with me. I have always speculated that some of them write in from penitentiaries or from caves in the hilly region along the western border of Pakistan, but if you can track them down you have my full authority to put a deal together.

Charles C. said...

Heh. I'm not Anonymouse/Anonymous, to be clear. I don't agree with his repetitive posts. And my name isn't meant to be "Ball Sack," honestly, such filth...

Someone above was signing with the names of others, for those a little too unquestioning... I suspect it was Ferrara, due to the imposter sharing his peculiar way of typing sentences as though paragraphs, with spaces in between. They also sound quite similar, are equally unimaginative, and if you care to notice that the two were never around at the same time, just like Clark Kent and Superman...

"Kev diverts the attack with an proliferation of intellectual discourse..."

Pseudo-intellectual if you actually try to make sense of any it...

Rob Howard said...

>>>There is a distinction to be drawn between being in a fit of passion, where no creative work can be done, versus being in a mood of passion, where the best creative work is done... the zen-like state where the hand is guided by the instinctive imagination and all else falls away.<<<

I confess to overstating my case, Kev, but then with all the anonymice present, I can be forgiven to making it obvious and playing to the cheap seats.

Your assessment is correct, but that subtle state of excitement and even more subtle passion would be totally unknown to people who get their philosophy and duplicate personalities pumped in via TV. being the consumers referred to on loudspeakers in the malls..."Attention, Shoppers..." they are, perforce, passive minds unfamiliar with the controlled passions you describe. But it makes almost no sense in try to cast pearls in that direction, so I write for them, as Beaverbrook advised... in easily understood tid-bits devoid of much shading and nuance (I hate to sound like Obama, but his observations were accurate in regard to those under his dominion). Take away the anonymice's pitchforks and torches and they are rendered mute.

Rob Howard said...

>>>Howard, and why you're not going anywhere career-wise, is, to look at the other direction one can go, for lack of this, I would say. Cold and entirely concerned with the technical, offering only the personality of a life spent at a desk (and now computer) day in and day out, that's what your work speaks and why it's doomed as it is<<<

I couldn't agree more. Coming from one at your level of accomplishment and reknown taste, you've driven home the point. This is the same point you made in all of those published articles, the books you've written and the work you've exhibited. Coming from you, I will take this to heart.

For those who do not know who this contributor is and what his qualifications and awards are, I am sure that he will publish his extensive curriculum vitae in order for us to apply the proper weight to these insightful comments...coments I must add, on his extensive knowledge of me and my work.

Although, early on, I did manage to get out of my mother's basement to work in the fields, on ranches and perform active military service during a vivid period, he has the goods on me about my retreating back to the basement...only coming out for breif periods of getting married, raising children, working in the field of art, travelling and meeting the occasional luminary who was drawn to visit Mom's basement.

While those who personally know me comment on the many things I have done and continue to do, this insightful commentator was able to peel away the mask and show me as a person of low ambition and energy with no accomplishments...unlike his.

We are fortunate to bask in his glow and, as soon as he reveals his accomplishments, I'm sure that you can see why his comments will be taken to heart...and to bladder and intestines.

Rob Howard said...

>>>That's why we're special.<<<

Speak for yourself, Kev. I was raised before Mister Rogers, so I have not been convinced that I'm special. ;-)

Rob Howard said...

>>>Would Goya's etchings mean as much to you if you didn't know something about the horrors of Spain and the inquisition?<<<

That appreciation of history certainly adds previously unseen horrors to the etchings, seeing that the subject was the Peninsular War during the Napoleonic era, as compared to the Spanish Inquisition which began to flower whilst Columbus was still at sea. But hey, what's historical accuracy and a few centuries when one is talking about emotions? The most important things are feelings...whoo, wooo, whoo.fee-e-elings! Reality can't stand up to our cultural narcissism. We're the most important creatures to have ever lived, so why not bend time and history to help us make a point.

I think you've been in Washington a bit too long and that "reality" is affecting your better judgment. It's time for you to come to Boston for a pleasant dinnertime chat.

Rob Howard said...

>>> One corrupt politician, one thief, one religion, one trip abroad, one divorce, one love affair, one madness, one addiction, one destitution... All pretty much the same from life to life.<<<

Of late, Kev, I am coming to appreciate you and your thinking.

Rob Howard said...

>>>Everybody else gets a laugh from PWNED...

Why am I such a loser all of a sudden?<<<

Because you confuse texting with writing. Back to the mall, where you belong and where your taste was formed.

We're not laughing with you. We're laughing at you (actually, just chuckling in passing).

Rob Howard said...

>>>Such a poor impersonator to speak in these sentences spaced-out like paragraphs and the ill-use of brackets, nothing I displayed before... <<<

That will always be the mark of the online coward.

A painter friend's study was broken into by vandals. They damaged a number of his abstract paintings. He was less upset by that than the lack of energy in their strokes and therein is a good point. Those sneaks, like the online ones, simply lack the vitality that makes an artist an artist. All they can do is scream "Fuck You" with their spray cans, but that lacks any authentic energy, let alone individual and creative thought.

No wonder they are so angry...they are socially and artistically impotent and that bit of bad fortune is translated into rage. They can't accept life's lottery and rail against their position on the wheel.

Fact Checker said...

To quote Rolling Stone magazine’s artist bio section, “In April of that year, 50 Cent was shot nine times outside his grandmother’s home; in a 2003 cover story for Rolling Stone…” I trust them to collect their specifics over all the other ill-credited internet gossip arguments.

Mr. Apatoff, feel free to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate this artist’s labors as there is an apparent disparity in his craft in being shot nine times versus only three. “In Da Club” has never sounded so good…

Anonymouse said...

'Pseudo-intellectual if you actually try to make sense of any it...'

TOtally agree with you man. See Kev? TWo totally different people agree that you are a pseudo-intellectual gasbag. I'm sure we're not the only ones. Your bullshit is too easy to refute

Anonymouse said...

HEy Rob, you pretentious douchebag, how many books did van Gogh publish??? Hmm??

Anonymouse said...

Dear Kev,

DO you take Rob's agreeing with you more lately as a good sign?


Anonymouse said...

Speaking 5 languages is very impressive to simpletons. How many do you speak ROb, how many more do you need to learn before you stop being a moron?

Anonymouse said...

I'm sure there are savants out there who can learn a new language every day. DOes that mean they are deep or insightful? Nope!

D.Caffer said...

Another great Greek invention was sodomy, which, let's be honest, has given most of us hours of pleasure over the years.
A tip of the hat to the Goat-God.

Anonymouse said...

Yup, those Greeks sure got the ball rolling for us didn't they? Oscar Wilde was a fan. I'm sure rob likes Oscar Wilde.

Anonymouse said...


kev ferrara said...

Saying no is easy. A million people can say no.

It takes only one good argument however, to defeat a proposition in its tracks. Since you haven't presented any arguments, hard to fathom why you think anything I've said has been refuted.

Overall, I'm not sure why you've flipped out here. What did I say that has caused you to get so emotional? Is it a question of your religion?

If I've insulted your religion somehow, all I can say is I'm sorry. But I'm not going to alter my opinions because of your religious views.

Also, I guess I don't need to mention that all the ad hominems you've been vomiting all over the place are a really weak response to whatever challenge has sent you over the edge. I really don't know who you think you're "winning over" by such 3rd grade tactics.

The same goes for your b-sacked friend B.Sack.

Laurence, you are right that a bit of slapdash technique to get an effect is not exactly Dionysian Debauchery. But splatter techniques do symbolize, in a small way, the "reckless abandon" we associate with Dionysian behavior.

Anonymouse said...

'Can Kev freely choose between believing his nonsense and seeing it for the bullshit it really is? OF course not!'

That was my last post before you pussed out. Thanks for coming back KEv!

Anonymouse said...

And you're the one with the religion because you call your nonsense truth. You believe your own bullshit. That's religion.

Anonymouse said...

It makes you feel 'special' to believe you can break free of determinism. LOL!

David Apatoff said...

Kev-- I can tell you have never tried to talk someone down from a bad acid trip before.

Anonymouse said...

Religion is all about wanting to feel special.

Anonymouse said...

Hi david, I don't do drugs btw. Smoked pot a handful of times, didn't care for it, usually just fell asleep.

Anonymous said...

"pussed out" ? An amusing term for one to use who imagines he's in debate with someone who does not hide in anonymity .

Al McLuckie

Anonymouse said...

Doesn't matter Al. A point is a point regardless of having a name attached to it.

A Passer-By said...

Antagonism gives me a hard-on.

David Apatoff said...

Fact checker-- whew, that's a relief. If I could no longer rely on Fiddy Cent to be truthful about how many times he had been shot, I don't know where I would turn for certainty in this world.

D. Caffer-- I too have heard the Greeks given credit for that, but it never made sense to me. Is it possible that the Cro-Magnons were so unimaginative? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone really cares whether you use drugs or not - unless it kept your fingers off the keyboard .

Al McLuckie

Anonymouse said...

Okay AL. You don't like me. Got it.

D.Caffer said...

My maternal grandfather is Greek and he tells me that as a nation -when they are'nt killing each other- sodomy is a national pastime and almost made it into the first olympic games.
I have never heard of any cro-magnon involvement but I believe vigorous mutual masturbation was their plat de jour.

kev ferrara said...

David, no, never tried to talk anyone down from a bad trip. I find drug users to be enormously depressing to be around.

However, I did once try to talk somebody out of going insane. You can imagine how that went.

Anonymouse... if you'd stop flying off the cuff and simply think through the mechanism that would be necessary for determinism, you will see that it breaks down when perfect sensitivity breaks down, which happens at the macro level of any organism. Macro-ness is predetermined, yes, but not the actions of the macro being because its consciousness has been isolated from deterministic mechanics by layers of insulation of varying environmental sensitivity. For true determinism, all mechanics of all organisms must have perfect sensitivity to stimulus.

This is not a garbage argument.

Anonymouse said...

Haha! Kev, okay, I'll stop with the name-calling.

BUt you still don't see the glaring error in what you just said. You said: "its consciousness has been isolated from deterministic mechanics by layers of insulation of varying environmental sensitivity."

THese layers of insulation are having an effect on the consciousness, so they are DETERMINING how it behaves. Determinism is still in play, saying it isn't turns your argument into garbage.

kev ferrara said...

As soon as perfect mechanism breaks down, determinism breaks down. Yes, the various levels of insulation include nerves, which determine in some ways the behavior of the organism... but nerves communicate with the brain imperfectly... we judge pain as itching sometimes, we think a missing leg is still there, we misjudge the flight of a ball and it hits us in the cheek.

Think of the skull. The skull evolved to protect the brains from physical trauma, but it has the added effect of protecting the brains from electromagnetic radiation. It insulates the brain, without effecting in the least.

A beaver doesn't build a dam to create a lake, a beaver builds a dam because he can't stand the noise of running water and his teeth happen to need whittling. The lake is a byproduct... a pure accident.

From an evolutionary perspective, why would consciousness be needed if everything was deterministic at the macro level?

It makes sense that, like the skull analogy, the evolution of the cell membrane to wall-in a particular organization of cells is actually protecting against the direct onslaught of deterministic forces... the first layer of insulation.

Any insulation breaks direct causality. The more complex an organism the more insulation is in place. The more the organism is insulated from causality, the more the organism must evolve consciousness as a way to survive.

This would suggest that the deterministic evolution of the membrane is the origin of consciousness.

At the very least you have to give me points for originality! :)

Anonymouse said...

Oh boy-- At what point in anything you said do you think you proved that determinism breaks down?

'but nerves communicate with the brain imperfectly'

DOesn't matter. Imperfections are also causes. Things are CAUSED to be imperfect. Imperfections lead to certain effects. PRetty simple, Kev.

Anonymouse said...

You think that because our conscious actions can lead to unexpected results it proves that determinism breaks down. But that's not true. It doesn't break down, it just means that our ability to predict is never completely certain.

Anonymouse said...

BEcause we can never be aware of all the causes that lead to certain effects doesn't mean determinism has broken down.

Anyway, time for me to go. I might be be back later, might not, who cares.

Rob Howard said...

>>>HEy Rob, you pretentious douchebag, how many books did van Gogh publish??? Hmm??<<<

Three. Look it up.

Rob Howard said...

>>>Speaking 5 languages is very impressive to simpletons. How many do you speak ROb, how many more do you need to learn before you stop being a moron?<<<

Three quite well. Plus two ancient languages, Latin and Greek and a tad of Hebrew (early Jesuit education), a smattering of Vietnamese and enough Hmong (Chuanqiandian) to have kept me out of the stew pot as well as mastering one native American language well enough to write a book in it.

From your lack of fluency I am led to believe that English must be your second or third language. What's your first language?

kev ferrara said...


The structural isolation of the neural systems of organisms results, over time, in structures which develop consciousness.

Consciousness requires learning, the apprehension of the environment by symbolic means.

Learning changes brain structure.

Brain structure can be changed to isolate itself from certain environmental stimuli, so the brain can cause itself to prevent the effect of deterministic tropisms. Links to determinism can be broken purposely.

The brain eventually learns to distinguish what it erroneously believes is freedom in the environment from what it perceives as deterministic structure. This piece of learning changes the structure of the brain, giving it a new choice: Perceived Free Choice versus Instinctual/Deterministic Response.

The moment the decision is made to act against determinism, even though that decision was predetermined, the result of that decision is the first breath of free will which results in a new experience. This new experience again changes brain structure.

With each succeeding decision, free will increases as the brain becomes increasingly reconfigured away from its original structure by experience.

Eventually the human brain learns of another choice… to use its natural symbolic understandings only for the uses for which it evolved, or to re-purpose this language to chronicle and decorate the adventures of the human species as it experiments with free will in an otherwise deterministic universe.

Otherwise known as human creativity.

In short, if only I can get you to believe in free will, you can have free will.

Think about it.

A Sexologist said...

Hey why don't you homos just cut the crap and get yourselves a room.

Sexologist said...

God, I'm funny.

Aren't I?


I guess you're right, that was a stupid old joke that I said for no reason. I don't know why I act like such an ass.

Charles C. said...

"We are fortunate to bask in his glow and, as soon as he reveals his accomplishments, I'm sure that you can see why his comments will be taken to heart..."

To say that Elvis Presley is a figure of note and that the local high school band is not, I should first demonstrate my ability to play a guitar?

I'm not saying I'm anything, but you, rather, are saying you're everything. Yet, I had never heard of you before visiting the blog comments here and I can't imagine anyone else had either. Even searching your name, reading your self-written biography, I find nothing to verify you as someone of any degree of note, let alone deserving and qualified to act in the grossly pompous and self-impressed manner that you exhibit here virtually each and every day of the week.

Now, 'note,' to be clear, is not being Britney Spears. 'Note' is where people have recognised your work and held it up in esteem . It's where people put you up as a figure of worth, who has done work of quality in which one can find something to appreciate. It's where your work - and by extension yourself - has a life beyond the short moment of its creation and initial display.

You talk about having had exhibitions all over the world, the covers of "hundreds" of books and work for some of the biggest and most visible brands in history, and yet despite the great heights you say you've reached, all this work you've done in the public eye, no one has seen fit to single you out in any way. There's no one heralding you as anything of worth, no one coveting your book covers as they do others, and no one coming to this blog and going, 'Are you really THE Rob Howard?' Even on your own blog you're struggling to get just one comment, and in all of the internet, all the people free to talk and post about anything they wish, there seems to be nothing mentioning you besides your own desperate efforts at self-promotion.

Plus, on top of everything, you're currently running a tacky online "education" forum where you charge a few dollars to teach middle-aged women named Crystal how to paint. That's where it all took you? What great direction shall the fantastic Mr Howard walk next, setting up a stall at the local flea market and selling birthday cards bearing his cat portraits?

Either you're fattening up your resume with outright lies (that's not actually my opinion) or you're just one of thousands of mediocre artists out there over time, who have earned a living, got by, and that's all, not anyone who should be talking as though they've conquered the world. The reason for this, why you've not achieved anything more, is, as I speculated before, not down to your lack of technical know-how but rather your lack of feeling, personality and vision. You're just another forgettable by-the-numbers painter. There were thousands before you and there'll be thousands more after you, not to mention the thousands currently living. That's just my personal assessment though, I could be mistaken as to the reason for the general public's lack of interest in your work, why historians haven't singled it out as anything of note and so on. However, my saying that you're nobody of note, that I see as clear fact, one that I believe every other reader of this blog has already come to see. You though are saying you disagree with this and that opens up an intriguing series of questions, Howard...

There's a character limit (who'd have thought!) and so onto the next one we continue:

Charles C. said...

Where do you see honestly yourself, Howard? Do you really believe you're a figure that people reference? Do you think that any day now a publisher will be calling to ask to publish a retrospective of your career or even just to re-print a single piece of work? After your passing, which will mean the end of your efforts at self-promotion, do you think your work is going to be remembered in any way? Who do you see as your equals, Howard?

So many questions we have! You normally like to answer questions though, we know, Howard. Anything comes up and you immediately stand to position yourself as the authority on it all, but something tells me with these questions we might not see that, instead we'll just find a whole lot of blustering... Still, I feel everyone who has read through your many comments over the years would be curious as to hear your answers to these questions. It would be nice, Howard... It would help to clear up a lot of things that I'm sure everyone here has had cross their mind at one point or another.

How do I say all this? How have I come to look into all here? I should explain after having gone on so long. It's because I actually thought there was something behind your talk, Howard, just as I'm sure others once did. I was curious as to who you were and, yes, it did take me a little while to accept that you weren't actually anyone, that did come as a surprise... It left me with questions. Many questions, Howard.

Anonymouse said...

Right Kev. ANd if I can make myself believe in the tooth-fairy then the tooth-fairy will be real. Riiight.

A Real Proper Non Imaginary Sexologist said...

OOh look that closet queen is trying to pretend she's me and being SOOO funny!

A Real Proper Non Imaginary Sexologist said...

OOh, I'm not anonymouse, I swear it...

EVen though I have the SAme problem with CAplocks....

I guess that was stupid of me to post under two different names in such a short span of time with the same CAplock issue.

Sometimes I forget how stupid I am.

Anonymouse said...

Rob, you must mean van GOgh's letters which were published after he died. I think I still have those lying around somewhere. The first time you saw one of his paintings you must have checked to see if he was a published author before you'd let yourself appreciate them, right? Yet, you're a published author and are nowhere near the level of van Gogh, so what's missing? Hmm?

And Madonna is a published author too. I guess that makes here a genius. HA ha!

Anonymouse said...

And guess what van Gogh wrote about in his letters. That's right, his FEELINGS! Anyway, I just remembered your confession about overstating yourself, so I'll leave it at that.

Anonymouse said...

Rob.I'm sorry for being such a prize jerkoff.I've had a bit of a lie down and I now see I got carried away with my own ego.
The truth is I'm on medication and if I forget to take it I start running off at the mouth and end up making a fool of myself.

Apologies to everyone here for wasting their time.

the Great Anonymoose said...

I am the Great Anonymoose!
No lowly, squeaky mouse am I.
Am greater than van Rijn or Toulouse,
Even greater than that other french guy.

I am the Great Anonymoose!
My caps don't lock.
My thoughts rock.
My paintings are profuse.

I am the Great Anonymoose!
To all communique, I pen my name,
That massive Cervidae slot even here I use.
(O, would such onymous courage bring me acclaim.)

I am the Great Anonymoose!
Look out! I'm on the loose!

Anonymous said...

Rob Howard said...

>>>And Madonna is a published author too. I guess that makes here a genius. HA ha!<<<

No, that just makes her different from unpublished nameless nonentity. Artists who have posted their work are, in the same way different from you and Sack of. B.

You clearly cannot write. Your inability with the rythmn and timing of simple humor suggests that there are chemical influences that produce a delusional state.

In short, like B.Sack you are nothing of value to anyone...a wart...a turd.

I can hear the sound of the shaken ball as you sad buffoons ready your spray cans for your next unread diatribes.

Øyvind Lauvdahl said...

Great essay:)

Amusing to see how the Hegelian dialectic of the art examples find such perverse reflections in the comments.

...not so much Apollonian/Dionysian as it is Passive-Agressive.

Keep up the good work!

Charles C. said...

"No, that just makes her different from unpublished nameless nonentity."

Like Manet was in his lifetime, like Ingres? Yeah, if only they'd taken the time out to write, maybe they'd have been the Howard of their time instead of "non-entities." Maybe we'd know them today as others know you, eh? What could've been for so many forgotten as they!

There's a difference between 'doing well' and just 'doing,' Howard. Releasing a book means you've released a book, that's it. Releasing a CD means you've released a CD. Etc, etc. The response to that CD, that book, etc, and is where the actual value is. For example, William Faulkner's renown was never as 'The man who has published books' but rather as a writer of some quality. Only a fool and a failure tries to rest on the release alone. Only for you does 'I have been published' mean 'argument winner.' Your approach to the value of your painting and 'opinion' is just the same.

Why can't you answer the real questions, Howard? We need to know what sort of delusions we're dealing with here once and for all. Are you seeing yourself as on the level of Howard Pyle or Burne Hogarth, do you think people know you like them, or see you as a similar figure? Or are you rather dreaming bigger and imagining yourself as a modern-day Michelangelo, known as he is and respected as he is? You're clearly imagining yourself as something more than the reality but what exactly we don't know...

It's really not just me wondering about these things, I assure you. Each and every person who has read the comments over the years has wondered the same thing. Whether they interact with you in a polite fashion or an insulting fashion, they all have the same thought. They think, 'Just exactly who does this Howard character think he is and if I question his fabricated reality will he go crazy and kill everyone around him?'

You don't want to address these question because to address them would mean addressing reality and that to someone like you, Howard, who puts themselves out there in the manner you do, would be worse than dying.

The simple fact of the matter though, Howard, is that everyone saw through you long ago and though you carry on like you're fooling everyone, no one has believed your nonsense for a long, long time, no matter how politely they speak to you today. All that's left now is for you to stand up and face what really is rather than what you wish was.

Anonymouse said...

You're absolutely right Rob. You definitely have a lot more in common with Madonna than you do with me! LOL!

Anonymous said...

With regards to anon/sack/theory/ramirez etc. I think David had the best idea in just ignoring them , and to not bother trying to shame them into silence as any attention is simply fuel for them - even a witty on point riposte is a waste , as they have no pride or values .

They might persist for awhile but with no response to feed off of there is nothing to give them whatever it is that they are enjoying .

Imagine if you could look at them and their lives - you would likely laugh and wonder why you invested any time or fleeting effort in a dialog .

There might be a thousand better art/illo blogs out there - this is the best i've found , maybe the ugle people infect them all as well - but it might be time to consider breaking out the weed-whacker and balance the ratio of flowers and weeds along the track.

Al McLuckie

Antoni said...

At times this can be a good blog, but so often the whole thing just degenerates into the most tedious of off-topic juvenile squabbling.

It's the same old names over and over again- you'd have thought these so-called 'creative' people would have better uses for the time.

Possibly their lack of significant success may due to this distraction, as they seem to be on the forum most of their time.

Anonymouser said...


Only an anonymouse would think the problem was anybody other than an anonymouse.

Nice try.

Care to present your credentials? A website perhaps?

Rob Howard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Howard said...

>>> you'd have thought these so-called 'creative' people would have better uses for the time.<<<

That's exactly what I said about Leonardo's defending himself from philistines. To think that Oscar Wilde and J.A.M.Whistler would take time away from their always pressing production of art to address talking monkeys makes one wonder why they did not apply the non-artist's approach to dealing with buffoons.

Why aren't artists more highly accountants and attorneys? The world would be a lot better place if those people set the rules of behavior...wait, they do!

Damned artists and their unseemly passions!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think a "show me your artwork" defense (so popular on this blog) in and of itself suggests pedantry and incomplete understanding. Anyone who truly knows the subject should be able to evaluate claims based on how they corroborate with great artwork of the past and present.

Rob Howard said...

>>>I think David had the best idea in just ignoring them <<<

Weeding out various things that occur in life is a non-artist's ability I much admire. In a way, it would be like walking down the street with that civilizing filter in place and not seeing half of the people on the street. I have always been in awe of that and the audiences of Noh dramas, where there are men dressed in black, holding butterflies on sticks. To the truly adept theatre-goer, those men in black are totally invisible. All they can see are the main actors and the magically floating butterflies.

Doesn't that sound likw a lovely world to inhabit...there is no trash to take out and no use for toilets, deodorants and toothbrushes. Don't pay any attention dear, and the bad men will go away...okay, so they might fly into your buildings, but they went away.

I think even the wildest abstractionist would be too realistic to ever subscribe to that approach to life.

Erase this message and everything in it will go away as if it never happened. Deny past mistakes and failures and...POOF! they never happened and they'll go away. Above all, never swat a mosquito.

Rob Howard said...

>>>Personally, I think<<<

No one cares what you think. It's chiché.

Anonymous said...

>>No one cares what you think<<

Well, not many of us bear the auctoritas of a Roberts Howard.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rob , Al McLuckie here . I used to frequent a martial art forum in which really good deep exchanges and occasional civil debates arose . Then it got overrun with anon-trolls . The site then banned anon-posting , everyone registered and used their real names and the scum went elsewhere.

I much prefer to debate in person , personally .

In suggesting ignoring the scum that infest this site , since anon-posting is a way for the cowardly to take advantage - in no way do I suggest this as a cheek turning passive denial-state mode of general life conduct . I just think that any response to them , in this venue , constitutes food/fuel for them .

I'll soon be signing up for the Cennini forum - off this topic , I was curious what you thought of Richard Schmid David Leffel and James Wyeth,s work .

kev ferrara said...

Personally, I enjoy when the gist of the discussion veers around a bit. Art takes in a lot of ground.

I appreciate lively debate, too. And come here to hear new ideas and new information or to have my own ideas challenged.

Ad hominems are a form of vandalism against any interesting discussion. As Al said, the product of people who value nothing, i.e. have no values.

Another kind of vandalism is what B. Sack pulled on me, where, because he didn't understand what I was saying, he assumed I wasn't saying anything. Rather than simply ask for clarification, or beg off, or even admit the discussion was beyond him, he just became rude.

Please don't do that again, Mr. Sack. When you discourage people like me from writing material outside your comfort zone, you limit yourself to reading only what you already know.

Why bother reading anything in that case?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"everyone registered and used their real names"

Someone on this blog recently used my "etc, etc" id to "admit" I was gay, when in fact I am not. From my perspective, I am glad I have not used my real name, otherwise I could not have taken it so lightly and there could have been some serious escalation . I don't want that, and my guess is that David does not want that either. Maybe in the martial arts they can get together to slug it out and prove who knows what, but in art and most everything else in life it is irrelevant.

Antoni said...

And so the point is proved.

How could my having a 'website' validate the observation that so much of what is found here is pathetic squabbling?

This perfectly highlights the adolescent level of discourse found here.Tedious.

And so little humor or real creative thinking.Just a bunch of losers and wannabes venting their spleens.

Sad really.

Anonymouser said...


Great contributions you're making.

Oh wait, they're just complaints, nevermind. I'll have to flip back through the weeks and see what your contributions have been so far and.... hmmm, seems like nothing so far. Strange. I guess you want what you want the way you want it, but won't actually lift a finger to make it happen.

I think you're another version of anonymouse.

Antoni said...

That is because;

A: I have a life and other interests too.Unlike yourself, this forum isnt a 24 hour per day obsession for me, and

B: Believe it or not some people actually like to 'read' what is being said and find out more about the things Mr Apatoff writes about.And again ,unlike yourself, I don't feel the need to validate myself by trying to shout over the blowhards who yatter on ad infinitum about nothing much.

The simple fact that you would spend time scrolling back thru previous threads looking for traces of my existence indicates a rather worrying (and unhealthy) obsession with this blog.

You should try to step back a bit and see the bigger picture.Maybe visit another blog every now and then.Seriously.

Rob Howard said...

David, I was reading a bit about Moholy-Nagy and his take on the way modern man fit into history. To an extent, the Apollonian/Dionysian conflict is of less importance in a technocracy.

Moholy-Nagy's stand was, “The goal is no longer to recreate the classical craftsman, artist and artisan with the aim of fitting him into the industrial age. By now technology has become as much a part of life as metabolism. The task therefore is to educate the contemporary man as an integrator, the new designer able to evaluate human needs warped by machine civilisation.”

It seems that so much of the joy and the pain of modern life is caused by the ubiquity of technoloy in our lives...and the desire to capture a fantasy of an age gone by. Perhaps we are growing to accomodate our cell phones and computers...masses of facts without the attendant wisdom.

Rob Howard said...

>>>Someone on this blog recently used my "etc, etc" id to "admit" I was gay, when in fact I am not. <<<

What's the old saw..."the lady doth protest too much"

Rob Howard said...

>>>Richard Schmid David Leffel and James Wyeth,s work .<<<

Schmid is one of those triple-threat painters. He does landscape, portrait/figure and still lifes equally well. He's a good teacher, too.

There's not much about Leffel's work I find appealing. His surfaces are scrubbed, overworked and generally scabrous. It's very obvious stuff.

What I've seen of Wyeth's work has impressed me. He has his own vision and the paint is nice.

I know that you'll enjoy Cennini forum. It's chockablock with working artists, pros who are generous with their advice and guidance. The nice thing is that no one works in the same manner, so there's a real smorgasbord to choose from.

Charles C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles C. said...

'Please don't do that again, Mr. Sack. When you discourage people like me from writing material outside your comfort zone, you limit yourself to reading only what you already know.'

Actually, you know, I will apologise for before, Ferrara. I was just running with something you said in a silly way. That's not to say I agree with you in any way, I don't, just that I too see my post there as unhelpful silliness that you were right not to bother with. Much of it was in response to general attitudes of a certain other on here and not your post in particular. Not that it means anything to you, but I have seen your work before and do find it all rather admirable. Even though I may disagree with you and could grow to outright hate you if given the time, I will still admit here that I find your work very impressive on many levels.

My views on Howard though, I still stand by and I feel there I've really "hit the nail on the head," as they say... My eloquence, oh-so-beautiful! And that I put down the position so plainly that even Howard could muster no response (beyond of course his unavoidable 'I am a man who has been published, who are you!?'), oh boy! A response was not truly necessary though, I suppose, to simply put the questions out there feels enough...

Over forty years working in the arts, Howard, and all you've achieved is the "bigshot" attitude, not the "bigshot" name. While you may not openly acknowledge the truth of what I've said, I think inside you've seen it. You knew it all yourself before I or anyone said anything of the kind. Forty years in the public's eye, all these opportunities to shine, and you've come to absolutely nothing. No one knows your name without your prompting, no one knows your work and no one coming up is citing you as an influence to them or someone they're even just aware of. You come here, you act obnoxious and like you've got the whole world at your feet and some unquestioning minds accept that as presented and pat you on the back, but all you really are is some hack 'artist' who runs a cheeseball forum where grandmas looking for a hobby go to learn to paint, nothing more.

All these "ideas" and "theories" on art you have got you to the place you are now and so coming here and trying to force this "wisdom" down the throat of everyone else, Howard, as you've been doing for years, really seems quite - I don't know the word - funny? You should think about that a little.

A guy jumps headfirst into a river and is left paralyzed. He rolls to you in his wheelchair and says, 'Jump in that river, boy, I did it and I came out fine!' That man in the wheelchair is you with your sorry body of work, Howard. And, yes, every so often you will come across an 'Al McLuckie' who says, 'Yes, I will do it, great mentor...' Scientology and other such things also get by for the abundance of "McLuckies" in this world, but that doesn't say anything to quality of their cause, never forget that...

And one may still wonder about me, of course, posting about such things on and on, and that's an understandable curiosity. The truth is that while I think there's point in singling out the failings and inconsistencies of a character like Howard, this lame self-proclaimed leader of men who comes here and tries to talks down to all, my doing it, taking the time out, is indeed not flattering my own character. At the end of the day this is really a waste of time, I know. Next week though, I will have moved on, certainly, but Howard, the publisher of "books," will still be here, still pushing his "wisdom." The week after that he'll still be here, too, still holding onto his "fantasy," there's no doubt. Until his death, he'll be here. That's something more to think about, I'd say.

Anonymous said...

Rob will have a new machismo sidekick on Cennini. I think I may have seen this movie before...does he paint dead fruit on copper?

Mighty Mouse said...

You guys are obsessed with Rob, your obsession and "insights" speak more to your own life and character than anything else. Like little catty girls, analyzing a man from online postings that you've never even said "Hello" to or laid eyes on. Talk about "Get A Life" time. Look in the mirror and get a life!

fyi: Those published books of Howard's just didn't sit on the bookstore's shelf, they were sold out and to get a used copy of one now will cost you a pretty penny.

Charles C. said...

The motivation of most of his "detractors" you'll find is down to no "cattiness" or things such as that but rather a great distaste for seeing obnoxiousness going unchecked. I know for me that's all it took.

As for his books, check They went through one print twenty years ago and yet had anyone honestly heard of either of them before Howard's "Look at me!" calls on here? Two decades since their release and it looks to me like nothing much came of them.

The quality of his books or his painting though isn't what I see as the true issue. If he was just mediocre alone, I wouldn't have seen any reason to concern myself with him. It's rather his behaviour and attitude on here that calls one to take him up. It certainly all becomes more ridiculous when you see whats backing it up - his paintings and other work - but just his attitude and behaviour alone is enough to incite reactions such as mine, and justifiably so I would say.

Anonymous said...

Al McLuckie here - i've no problem with lively debate . What i've enjoyed about Kev and Rob's occasionally intense and vehement exchanges is at the end , one sees them display humanity towards each other - which is what real men women humans do .

Real Etc.Etc. - no problem with you whatsoever - also , true martial artists don't 'slug it out' , and I generally work on canvas or primed masonite . In teaching martial arts - an integration of Filipino Indonesian Chinese Indian and Russian systems - and painting/drawing , i've had many students over the years , straight gay men women kids of various walks of life and beliefs .

Real B.Sack - I appreciate your view and articulation of opinion without agreeing with them . Oh , you're a little over the top with you're jump in the river characterization - although I might jump in to try to help someone floundering , you included .

Mighty Mouse said...

You don't see how obnoxious you are, Sack? Yeah, what prompted me to post was "a great distaste" for your kind of obnoxious, and cowardly, postings - maybe not catty but pussy-ish. You have a self-righteous need to share your oh, so, enlightened insights to, what you consider, us less-informed, naive, clueless blockheads, who have been reading this blog for years and years - all from the comfort of your anonymous hole. That's pussy-ish.

I had one of Howard's books, lent it to a friend, never saw it again and tried to replace it - that's why I know how expensive and hard to get they are. Again, you write about that which you know nothing about.

David Apatoff said...

Rob Howard said: "... the Apollonian/Dionysian conflict..."

When George S. Kaufman wrote his play, "The Cocoanuts," he thought he was establishing a plot the actors could interpret. Instead, the stars of his play were the anarchistic Marx Brothers who quickly made a shambles of his structure and ran away with his play. Listening in the wings one night, Kaufman famously remarked, "Wait a minute, I think I just heard one of my lines."

Charles C. said...

"...oh, so, enlightened insights to..."

I'm not purporting to offer insights here. There's no insight in stating Howard is not a figure of any note just the same as there's no insight in naming the continents. Rather what you have there is facts available to all who seek.

"You don't see how obnoxious you are, Sack?"

Oh, yes, I most certainly do. I do also realise that I'm being quite harsh and blunt in my assessments of Howard and his career, even downright mean you might say. Why do I continue then? Because Howard absolutely deserves to be spoken to in this way. After how he has behaved on this blog over the years I say there is absolutely no need to bother sugarcoating the realities of his work and career anymore, which is all it takes to put him in his place. If he wants to act obnoxiously as he does, to shout down others and speak as though his opinion is more than what it is, if he wants to respond with "no one cares what you think" as he did above with 'etc etc' and as he has done so many times before with others (the above being one of the more politer instances), then I say there's no reason to hold back on the harsh truths of Howard's career. Howard wants to behave as what is nicely summed up as "a dick" and so Howard is right to be treated and spoken to like a dick, that's it plain and simple.

As to how long my pleasant chit-chat here will go on: I've said all I wanted to say and now I'm just responding if questioned. There'll be a new topic on here soon and I'm certainly not going to carry the conversation over there - it'll end here then. This comments page will die out with the new topic and Howard will go on as he always has, yes, I have no doubts about that. At his heart though, I'm sure he's now a little more aware as to exactly what many think of him and he will carry that with him forevermore, on his mind as he tells the grandmothers how to correctly clean paintbrushes, until that final day that his heart gives out, surely to be at a computer keyboard, and he brings his head down to rest on the keys for one final message:


Such sweetness...

Matthew Adams said...

David, I suspect that the goat-god o fart has been having fun here these last few days. And he never cleans up after himself...

Rob Howard said...

>>>"Wait a minute, I think I just heard one of my lines."<<<

Hahaha...that's delightful. I'd never heard that before.

7ru7Hm4N said...

OMFG 4n0NYm0U23 uR 4 N0-5K1lL2 422h0L3. u'V3 833N Pwn3D

Rob Howard said...

>>>David, I suspect that the goat-god o fart has been having fun here these last few days. <<<

I suspect our host is going for a record number of posts to the blog...quality be damned!

Anonymouse said...

Oh ñÓ3§, !'Vë ßèàn ¶W|\|êd! öH, 7Ëh |-|ÙmåNÎT/-\Y! \/\/h4+ ä \/\/Örl[), WHÄ+ @ \/\/ôr£Ð!

cypher not clever said...

@ Î≈ª§† ¥Øµ® \/∆∏∂∆Î!§^^ !$ !^^¶®\/!∏&...

...ƒ®^^ 3®∂ &®∆∂≈ †Ø 7†# &®∆∂≈

$∞∏ ¥Øµ´££ ß !∏ #!&# §ç••£

The Great Anonymoose said...

{...naming the continents. Rather what you have there is facts available to all who seek.}

I know all the continents!
There's only seven,
Not five or six or eight
Not ten, not even eleven.

There's Africa and Asia
(that's the biggest one).
North and South America...
But wait! I am not done!

Antarctica and Europe
and that one down under,
Its name is Australia!
Ha! It's not for nothing that
They called me Boy Wonder!

But now I am the Great Anonymoose!
Greater than You, Greater than Zeus!

Anonymouse said...

3y3'//\\//\\ ']['¤Ω ¢¤Ω1_ |=[]ʁ §¢:-:¤Ω¬, //.∂₪!

Anonymouse said...

Rob, your poems suck and are obviously by you because of the way they suck

The Great Anonymoose said...

You, tiny little anonymouse,
have no ear for rhyme,
Cannot tell a nickel from a dime.
Unable to see
The gap between Rob and me.

In the shadows you hide
no value do you provide.
Just like a flea or a louse,
A squeaky little anonymouse.

mouser rap said...

Poets who are slow wits often don't know shit, only show it when they blow it, then throw fits when the missed splits of their rhyme hits in the Lit pits like bricks.

Abhor us, Boris, but don't bore us. Just ignore us.


Rob Howard said...

What's all this mall-rat texting about? Howzabout the language you have yet to master...English.

B. Sack a' Rob Howard said...

B. Sack, Rob is here for 3 reasons...

1. Advertise his business.
2. Get off on puffing out his chest while putting down others... which is also part of his self-advertising.
3. He enjoys the feeling like he's in competition with younger people who post, as if this were a "stage" for him to perform on... which is also part of his self-advertising.

He considers a post like yours only in terms of tactics, never content. His goal is for a post like yours to die a lonely death at the tail end of a long mess of posts which nobody will read.

And then, he'll be first on top again at David's next post, and sure to get another small handful of tykes in the tent who don't have the patience to read through the whole gray mass, or who are too young to tell bullshit from content.

Its all tactics. There's no rhyme or reason to what he actually says, and you will find an amazing number of self contradicting statements if you have a decent enough memory or care to wade through his masses of gray he's spilled here through the years.

This is his hobby, his obsession and his living, such as it is. He has been sitting in a chair staring at a computer doing the same thing for something like 15 or 16 years now. He knows how to hold his own in a toilet paper fight. Just never admit wrong and keep posting.

There is no way you will get him to leave this blog by the mere statement of facts, which have nothing to do with the 3 dynamics listed above and nothing to do with the procuring of business.

Since Mr. Howard sometimes provides content that some of the younger posters don't recognize as cut and pasted from google, he is actually a better contributer than some on this blog who do not advertise anything but merely complain or cause mayhem. Therefore David will not be reprimanding him anytime soon.

He has squatted, and there is nothing in the world you can do about it.

Just the fact man. All you can do is stay and ignore him, stay and blow up at his every post, or leave.

Anonymous said...

Jesus Fucking Christ. Enough about Howard already.

You're all one guy, aren't you. There can't be more than one out there who's got such a hard-on for him.

Tax paying artist said...

"You're all one person aren't you."

I agree. and whom ever you are, please, please get help.

Tax paying artist said...

Sorry slight misquote, but same meaning

David Apatoff said...

Please stop. This is a colossal waste of space and it drowns out people who might have a genuine interest in these topics.

Tom said...

Hi David

I don't know if you have seen the David Finn book on Bernini but there is portrait bust he craved of Cardinal Scipione with his incredible immaculate skill and thought. At the same time he also managed to draw a caricature of the cardinal in few pen strokes which seems to make fun of the whole business of pomp and circumstances. The caricature is delightful.

Tom said...

You might get a kick out of this too. I came across it today in Alexander Tzonis's Classical Greek Architecture, The Construction of the Modern." "One of the enigmas of the evolution of ancient Greek architecture is why there should have been a strange turn towards irregularity." Different scholars have different reasons but Joseph Hoffer describe them "as results of a conscious effort to avoid the rectilinear and infuse the lifeless forms of art with a breath of living nature"

Antoni said...

On and on and on.Way off topic,pointless boring time and space-wasting squabbling.
Grow up, boys.

Rob Howard said...

Only twelve more messages and David will have reached a record of 200. So come folks. We can do it. Dig deep and donate another meaningless message and help David reach his goal.

Anonymous said...

"A skillful picture will often allocate space for an uncontrolled splatter or eruption or a rough line-- not enough to lose control of the picture, but just enough to say that wildness plays a role in the pantheon"

I just noticed your examples are pen and ink. Regarding paintings, could you perhaps offer some examples that you feel do not quite make it (i.e. not enough Bacchanalian frenzy) as well as others that just do make it? Just curious as to where you feel the threshold is.

Anonymous said...

[i]I just noticed your examples are pen and ink. Regarding paintings, could you perhaps offer some examples that you feel do not quite make it (i.e. not enough Bacchanalian frenzy) as well as others that just do make it? Just curious as to where you feel the threshold is.[/i]

I'd nominate some of Boldinis work for this.

Some of his painted sketches are skating around that order / chaos thing.


btw Antoni said...

Consensus among us who travel the art forums when this bullshit at David's is mentioned, is that the Anonymous Mystery Guest is either Graydon Parish or Richard Murdock maybe both. If by the off chance you're not, you sure are adding to their good name. WTG

This makes it 191. Only a few more posts before disrespecting David ends.

Rob Howard said...

Not a bad guess, Antoni, but my guess would be self-described "Canada's Most Prolific Watercolorist," Peter Schmid with his page sounding very much like the jilted lover we read in many of the anonymous posts. The other would be Miles William Mathis at Mathis remains upset when I noticed that a true triptych is more than a single picture with doors on the side. Schmid is just flat-out pathetic.

A wise man noted that the risk of insult is the price of clarity, thus mentioning the fact that a triptych usually consists of three separate works of art was taken as an insult. As for Schmid, the mere exitence of artistic competence is an insult.

kev ferrara said...

Steve, agree about Boldoni, I would add Kanevsky, Fechin, Frazetta, Lucian Freud, Leroy Neiman, Oleg Stavrowsky, late Remington, John LaGatta, Carolyn Anderson, Brangwyn prior to 1930 or so, and the early robust work of N.C. Wyeth before he was influenced by the regionalists.

The line I've heard about this type of virtuosic work is (second hand) from an Art Student's League instructor named Andrew Minewski. He would say, "yes, it is very easy to make a wild and energetic brushstroke... the difficult thing is to control it!"

kev ferrara said...

B. Sack... it does matter to me what you think of my work. If somebody appreciates what I put my heart and soul into, that is the person I did the work for. I am trying to communicate with "other souls" as the saying goes.

Following your praise I was really disturbed by your comments about hating. Hating says more about your soul than mine and I would reconsider how easily you throw that word around.


Tax paying artist said...

So David, would you be in general agreement with the view that the art of the Hellenistic period was a meeting of the two ways?

Joss said...

Kev, I can't decide if your crazy yourself for being so patient to reply to the haters or if your generosity is just beyond my comprehension.

But I digress, I wanted to say,

thank you for bringing us back to my biggest reason for being here, which is to discover and rediscover artists I love, and if I'm lucky enjoy some stimulating dialogue thereabouts.

Carolyn Anderson: I was very happy to discover her, ( I'd never heard of her before). The google image search led me to
which was for me a treasure trove of undiscovered contemporary painters. Some real gems in my opinion. What strikes me is how there's so many people out there painting in ways that I have conceived of and it's so satisfying to see it because I could never have realized all those visions in one lifetime(let alone even one cohesive vision). And of course there's infinitely more artists doing amazing things I would never have considered in a million years.

There's a lot on this blog about the lost glory days which I fully agree with, but there is something about the internet age that seems equally as valuable. I'm probably gonna get hated for that comment, but hopefully by someone with something in their sack!

Joss said...

I said
"but hopefully by someone with something in their sack!"

Or a they don't seem to have the need to prove themselves nearly so much as the men.

The concept of penis envy always struck me as the ridiculous creation of one very insecure male.

David Apatoff said...

I have been avoiding this neighborhood recently and was pleasantly surprised to see the path this conversation has taken. Sorry to be late in returning to the party.

Tom, I was able to track down Bernini's bust and sketch of Scipione on line, and enjoyed them both. The contrast between the mediums (dense, brittle marble of the statue vs. the light, fluid line of the sketch) is as fruitful as the difference we've been discussing between careful realism and spontaneous, slapdash images.

Etc. etc. wrote: "I just noticed your examples are pen and ink. Regarding paintings, could you perhaps offer some examples that you feel do not quite make it (i.e. not enough Bacchanalian frenzy) as well as others that just do make it? "

Etc. etc., as I thought about paintings energized by "controlled frenzy," I remembered this post from years ago. There are obviously a lot of abstract gestural paintings of the 20th century (Kline, Pollock) but short of that, there were a lot of painters (such as Boldini suggested by Anonymous or the artists suggested by Kev) whose loose, energetic brush strokes dominate representational paintings. Turner is one of my very favorites, and he frequently danced on the boundary between order and chaos.

David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara said: "Andrew Minewski... would say, "yes, it is very easy to make a wild and energetic brushstroke... the difficult thing is to control it!"


Rob Howard said: "Only twelve more messages and David will have reached a record of 200."

Personally, I am ready to re-start the clock at 200 and forget everything that went before.

Tax paying artist wrote: "So David, would you be in general agreement with the view that the art of the Hellenistic period was a meeting of the two ways?"

Tax paying artist, I don't know nearly as much about Hellenistic art as I should. You don't see a whole lot of the wild side in their architecture, which was one of the most important manifestations of their aesthetic theories about archetypes. But from my limited perspective, the answer is "yes." And it's not surprising-- even while they searched for the "ideal" earlier and harder than anybody else, they still lived every day in perpetual peril from foreign and domestic enemies. That has a way of reminding you of the chaos waiting for you beneath that thin veneer of order and stability. I am a huge fan of Bernard Knox, whose writings about the Greeks are pure gems. He once said something along the lines of, "If you have to go out and kill the family pet with your own hands in order to eat dinner, it keeps you from getting overly civilized."

David Apatoff said...

Tom quotes Alexander Tzonis's Classical Greek Architecture, The Construction of the Modern, about a transformation in Greek architecture:
" Joseph Hoffer describe them "as results of a conscious effort to avoid the rectilinear and infuse the lifeless forms of art with a breath of living nature"

Tom, obviously I should have read Tzoni before volunteering my previous opinion about Greek architecture, but thanks for a nifty quote. These theories come together so neatly, it's almost as if we need an element of chaos to shake them up.

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