Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sex Is Not The Enemy

Edouard Manet (1832-1883) - Olympia (detail), 1863

The painting of the nude in the 1860s . . . as the critics of the critics of the 1860s never tired of saying, is . . . curiously hybrid, marked by modernity in an incoherent way. If it is chaste, and it sometimes is, it is rigid and inanimate with its own decorum; and if it engages with sexuality, it does so in ways which verge on violence or burlesque.

Something is wrong here: a genre is disintegrating . . . The nude is not a matter of sexual health but of artistic conventions, and it is these that were foundering in the 1860s. If there was a specifically bourgeois unhappiness, it centred on how to represent sexuality, not how to organise or suppress it . . .

One might expect these problems - especially the way they seemed to invite a reading in terms of some general cultural doom - to produce lot of bad criticism. One might especially predict at the end of a genre, a squad of Cassandras inflexible for truth and purity; and, sure enough, they existed. In the face of Cabanel's Venus and Baudry's Perle, Maxime du Camp put paid to the salon nude in general. "Art", he wrote in 1863, "should have no more sex than mathematics." The mark of the nude in art was chastity and abstraction: "The naked body is the abstract being, and thus it must preoccupy and tempt the artist above all; but to clothe the nude in immodesty, to give the facial features all those expressions which are not spoken of, that is to dishonour the nude and do something disreputable." The nude "ceases to be honest when it is treated so as to intentionally exaggerate certain forms at the expense of others", when its poses are "provoking", its attitudes "violent", and its whole language contorted and unnatural.

The vocabulary is torturous - trying to speak of sex and yet not speak of it - but the message is clear. Desire is no part of the nude: the nude is human form in general, abstracted from life, contact, attraction, even gender.

From Olympia's Choice by T. J. Clark

Verso XII

Tanja Ostojic - Origine du monde, 2002

While using her own body within different cultural and social contexts as a retort to various power-games Ostojic inevitably entered the realm of "gender troubles". Her reflection on gender issues is focused on the economic and political phenomena that accompany the phantasm of European Community that is shared by many Eastern European countries. In her project "Looking for a Husband with a EU Passport" she reveals and ironizes the truth about the traffic with women, prostitution, pragmatic marriages and all other "side effects" of transition. In such conditions the economy of gendering is inevitably the economy of power over the body. The self-irony of this project is contained in the intentional aesthetics of artist's usage of her own image for the Internet add: her skinny shaved body without any traces of sensuality and seducing gaze or gesture conveys completely opposite visual message. From this conflict of the textual invitation with the visual repulsion was born the gap of ambiguity between attraction and abjection.

Suzana Milevska

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Future That Was

Hildebrands Chocolate promotional campaign, 1900

A Quick Stroll on the Water in the Year 2000

Combined Ship and Railway Locomotive in the Year 2000

House Moving by Train in the Year 2000

Personal Airships in the Year 2000

Personal Flying Machines in the Year 2000

Police X-Ray Surveillance Machine in the Year 2000

Roofed Cities in the Year 2000

Summer Holidays at the North Pole in the Year 2000

Televised Outside Broadcasting in the Year 2000

The Moving Pavement in the Year 2000

Undersea Tourist Boats in the Year 2000

Weather Control Machine in the Year 2000

future, n. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true, and our happiness is assured.

Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Word Book, 1906

Verso XI

The Past That Is

Steampunk Desktop

Steampunk Laptop

Steampunk Mouse

Steampunk Watch

Steampunk Robots and Bike

Steampunk Robots

Steampunk Tank

Steampunk Gunship

Steampunk Spider

Steampunk Spider

The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.

Winston Churchill

Monday, April 28, 2008

Six Images In Search Of An Exhibition XI

Bruce Nauman (b. 1941): By The Cold Light Of Art - Part One

Self-Portrait as a Fountain, c 1966

The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (Window or Wall Sign), 1967

One Hundred Live and Die, 1984

Mean Clown Welcome, 1985

Human Sexual Experience, 1985

Double Poke in the Eye II, 1985

When I was in art school, I thought art was something I would learn how to do, and then I would just do it. At a certain point I realized that it wasn't going to work like that. Basically, I would have to start over every day and figure out what art was going to be.

Bruce Nauman

Six Images In Search Of An Exhibition XII

Imants Tillers (b. 1950): By The Cold Light Of Art - Part Two

Aftermath I, 1997

Aftermath II, 1997

Body of Knowledge, 2002

Nature Speaks, 2004

Nature Speaks, 2005

Nature Speaks, 2007

Everywhere one seeks to produce meaning, to make the world signify, to render it visible. We are not, however, in danger of lacking meaning; quite the contrary, we are gorged with meaning and it is killing us.

Jean Baudrillard

Sunday, April 27, 2008

La Grand-mère D'Olympia

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) - The Grand Odalisque, 1814

The faculty of the imagination is both the rudder and the bridle of the senses.

Simone de Beauvior

It is not sufficient that what one paints should be made visible. It must be made tangible.

Georges Braque

Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one's sensations.

Paul Cezanne

The aura given out by a person or object is as much a part of them as their flesh. The effect that they make in space is as bound up with them as might be their colour or smell . . . Therefore the painter must be as concerned with the air surrounding his subject as with the subject itself.

Lucian Freud

Born of the sensibility, art sows and creates life in its turn.

Remy de Goncourt

Body experience . . . is the centre of creation. I rarely draw what I see. I draw what I feel in my body.

Barbara Hepworth

The senses are our bridge between the incomprehensible and the comprehensible.

August Macke

I want to reach that state of condensation of sensations which constitutes a picture.

Henri Matisse

All the arts are based on the senses. What they do for the person who practices them, and also the persons interested in them, is make that particular sense more active and more acute.

Henry Moore

Nothing exists in the intellect that has not first gone through the senses.


The Week In Review


Roma, città aperta (Rome, Open City), 1945 - d. Roberto Rosselini
Paisà (Paisan), 1946 - d. Roberto Rosselini
Germania, anno zero (Germany Year Zero), 1947 - d. Roberto Rosselini
Crumb, 1994 - d. Terry Zwigoff
Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist, 1997 - d. Kirby Dick
In the Realms of the Unreal, 2004 - d. Jessica Yu
The Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite), 2007 - d. Fatih Akin


Entourage: Series 1-3


Baudelaire by Claude Pichois

Articles & Chapters:

Salon Rhetoric by P. ten-Doesschate Chu
City vs. Country: The Rural Image in French Painting from Millet to Gauguin by R. Herbert
To Create a Living Art: Rethinking Courbet's Landscape Painting by Mary Morton
Pre-Raphaelite Realism: Landscape and the Human Model by Elisabeth Prettejohn
Courbet and Popular Imagery: An Essay on Realism and Naivete by M. Shapiro
Rejecting Nothing, Selecting Nothing by A. Staley
The Topographical Aesthetic in French Tourism and Landscape by Greg M. Thomas


Fiona Hall: Force Field - Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney)


String Quartets - Benjamin Britten
String Quartets - Michael Nyman
Third (2008) - Portishead
String Quartets - Michael Tippett

Addendum VII

The Body Eclectic

The Ku Klux Klan's Auxiliary Ladies' Association, 1923

Matthew Barney (b. 1967) - Cremaster 1, 1996

Tracey Emin (b. 1963) - I've Got It All, 2000

Marina Abramović (b. 1946) preparing to pay homage to a 1973 performance piece by Gina Pane, 2005

Daniel Edwards (b. 1965) - Paris Hilton Autopsy, 2007

Anime Period Ghosts

'The best thing about the term 'performance artist' is that it includes just about everything you might want to do.'

Laurie Anderson

Verso X

Edgar Degas (1834-1917): The (Not So) Dirty Dozen

Woman in Tub, 1884

Woman Combing Her Hair, 1886

After the Bath, 1884

Woman in the Bath, 1886

After the Bath, Woman Drying her Left Foot, 1886

After the Bath, 1892

After the Bath, c. 1896

After the Bath, c. 1896-98

After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself, c. early 1890s

After the Bath Woman, Drying Herself, 1895

After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself, 1895

After the Bath, c. 1895