Paul Nervy Notes
“Jokes, poems, stories, and a lot of philosophy, psychology, and sociology.”

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Arts, visual arts, criticism.  ---  .This section is about visual arts criticism.  Topics include: .  ---  1/24/2006

Arts, visual arts, criticism.  ---  (1) NY abstract expressionists: monumental and powerful, like the mountains.  (2) Francis Bacon: willing to discuss pain and horror, and thus think what are its causes and cures?  (3) Warhol: the housewife of 20th century art (laundry detergent and soup cans), trite, banal, ineffectual, pop.  He does not satirize hollywood, he worships it.  ---  04/01/1994

Arts, visual arts, criticism.  ---  Andy Goldsworthy.  This is nature art like it oughta be.  It is not just about nature, it is of nature.  Natural materials.  Natural settings.  Yet a hint of the human.  A hint of a sentient mind.  A hint of the artist.  Like some kind of genius caveman could have made this art 100,000 years ago.  Its both simple yet elegant.  Its both organic and formal.  Its witty and solemn.  Best of all, there are no people around!  Its more sculptural than pictorial.  Its outdoors, so the changing natural environment plays a big role.  What extreme sports are to traditional sports, Goldsworthy is to traditional art.  ---  6/14/2002

Arts, visual arts, criticism.  ---  Basquiat.  (1) His paintings are intentionally raw, like Kerouac's spontaneous prose.  A raw esthetic adds power to the artwork.  A polished esthetic adds subtlety.  (2) His work is rough because his subject matter is rough.  Life in the city is rough.  Drug addiction is rough.  (3) A raw esthetic also adds intensity.  Raw is hot.  Polished is cool.  Raw is active and quick.  Polished is slow, deliberate, and calculated.  (See notes on hot and cool music.  See notes on raw and polished music).  (4) Basquiat's use of random words can be viewed as depicting a reality that is trying to make sense and be coherent but which fails.  (5) And his use of random words also depicts a person who is trying to spit out or say the ineffable.  A person in pain trying to express.  (6) There is a lot of terror and horror and Basquiat's work.  The faces are grimacing skulls.  A lot of pain.  Anger, fear and anguish.  How do people who feel this way express it?  Not with polished rhetoric.  Basquiat is to visual art what wailing blues rock is to music.  (7) The words in his painting are like the words of street level shop signs.  "Eat at Joe's" "Wash-o-rama".  This is the literature that the person of the street reads, and it does not scan well.  (8) Basquiat is not graffiti.  Basquiat evolved from graffiti, but later he transcended it.  Graffiti is FROM the streets, but it endeavors to be polished and cool.  Basquiat is ABOUT the streets.  (9) Most amazing is Basquiats friendship with Warhol who was his exact opposite.  Warhol is polished and cool.  Basquiat is rough and hot.  ---  8/10/1998

Arts, visual arts, criticism.  ---  Botero redeemed.  Botero gets political and paints the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Americans soldiers at Abu Gharib prison.  Its good to see Botero forthrightly addressing issues of social injustice, albeit using his typically fat figures.  Perhaps Botero should next try his hand at depicting the American obesity epidemic.  ---  9/4/2005

Arts, visual arts, criticism.  ---  My favorite visual artists are Phillip Guston and Leon Golub, because they take a political stand.  ---  07/18/1997

Arts, visual arts, criticism.  ---  Some of my favorite artists: Hans Hoffman, Mark Rothko, Jenny Holzer.  ---  08/30/1993

Arts, visual arts, criticism.  ---  The Gates, by Christo, in Central Park.  (1) Central Park, possibly the most beautiful urban park in the world.  Central Park, noted for its "wild nature" aesthetic.  Central Park now looking like a Home Depot, due to the appearance of The Gates by Christo, with its orange metal beams and orange plastic banners.  Christo turned a beautiful park into a Home Depot.  The Gates are a warning that one day every inch of nature may have a Home Depot parked on it.  (2) What is art?  Everything is art (in that everything has aesthetic qualities) and art is everywhere.  (3) The Gates with people walking under them.  The Gates without people walking under them.  Two entirely different things.  (4) What is the color when you face the sun with your eyes closed?  What is the color of sunlight through eyelids?  Orange.  Saffron.  Peaceful.  Zen.  ---  2/4/2005

Arts, visual arts, criticism.  ---  Warhol.  (1) Warhol loved to go shopping.  After he died they auctioned off bags and bags of stuff he had bought and never even opened.  Warhol's art shows his love of mass-production and mass-consumption.  He is not neutral on the issue, nor is he sending us a warning about the perils of over-production and over-consumption.  Warhol himself is the warning.  Warhol is the antithesis of an ecologically conscious artist.  Kitschy subjects, neon palette, and icy attitude.  Warhol can be used as an example of what was wrong with America at that time.  The funny thing is that he loved it.  He glorifies the artificial, the fake and the plastic.  He is not being ironic.  He is for looks rather than substance.  He is a front.     (2) Warhol is the leader of the pop art.  It began as an attack on "high art" and that is fine with me.  Yet it wound up like pop-music and pop-culture, with the worst traits that these things have.  The best that pop culture has to offer is a democratic, egalitarianism made possible by the mass media.  The worst pop-culture has to offer is the wasteland of repetitious pop-radio, poorly written comic books, overly-sugared breakfast cereal, etc.     (3) The view that pop theorists hold is that pop-culture is either: (A) Better than anything else.  (B) Just as good as anything else (relativism).  (C) Here to stay, so get used to it.  (D) Something to recognize and understand, in order to improve it.  (E) I hold view "D".  Warhol held view "A".     (4) In Warhol we see an art of nihilism, cynicism and pessimism.  An art about being popular, being trendy and being cool is a high school art.  An art about fame, status, money and power that he was glorifying rather than criticizing.  Warhol gives the shallow crowd the green light by in effect saying "Everything you believe is okay".     (5) When the outsiders become the insiders and the insiders are relegated to outsider status you are still playing the "insider-outsider" game.     (6) Warhol was more about the artist than the art.  Warhol was about being an art star.  However, it should always be more about the art.     (7) Warhol seems disengaged rather than engaged.  He is posing constantly.  He never gets real.  The good he did was to draw our attention to things in society that are amiss by his celebration of these same things.  I call for an engaged, authentic art that advocates values like ecological sustainability and social justice.  ---  10/8/2000

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Paul Nervy Notes. Copyright 1988-2007 by Paul Nervy.