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Weschler on Trevor and Ryan Oakes


Lawrence Weschler, who is pretty much my favorite writer of non-fiction at the moment, has an article in the latest issue of Virginia Quarterly Review. It examines the art of Ryan & Trevor Oakes, who are doing some really fascinating work with perspective. You should read it.

There were the conversations as well in which they began to take note of the curious way in which their noses severely narrowed the expanse of their depth of field. They became convinced that a person's nose, even though usually occluded by the operations of his visual cortex such that it tended to disappear from view, served to anchor the scene before him, though not in the way one might expect, as a beacon pointing the way ahead right down the middle of his visual field. Rather, it might be more accurate, in considering bifocal vision, to think of the nose as appearing doubled to either side of the visual field, as if it were bracketing or bookending the scene before us (blocking the right eye's leftmost view, and the left eye's rightmost). And this was a phenomenon, they came to feel, with implications not only for vision generally but for art-making in particular. One day Ryan was studying a recent suite of abstract paintings by Trevor and, never one to accept the arbitrary nature of anyone's mark, he took to focusing in particular on a seemingly recurrent triangular motif off in the lower corner of several of the paintings. "Wait a second, Trevor," he announced exultantly. "That's our nose!" Such shapes appeared not only in Trevor's paintings but in those of other students as well. And indeed, come to think of it, in those of all sorts of other, far more accomplished artists.

The Chicago Reader did a long piece on them last year; it also details how Weschler's relationship with them formed - he actually played a small but significant role in the development of their careers.

An amusing story, but not particularly well-written: Vancouver art controversy just a sign of the times. The art in question:

[A] member of the Vancouver Police Department strode into the ultra-cool Contemporary Art Gallery on a lovely, sunlit afternoon one day last week to inform the gallery that David Grandy wanted his signs back.

The gallery was caught red-handed. The signs were right there, bold as brass, in the gallery's big front windows. They carried brightly coloured, somewhat mysterious words and acronyms, such as "HUFF," "B32U," "INFINITY" and "WORK CREW" stencilled on arrows.

According to the gallery, this was art, an enchanting installation piece called Production Postings by Vancouver artist Christian Kliegel.

The rather sneering tone of the article ('Contemporary art, of course, is not easy for the so-called ordinary person to grasp.') is a bit much - what's so hard to understand about this? It's a bit of a trifle, I suppose, but anyone who lives in Vancouver would probably recognize what the piece was about and be amused by it.

And seriously - those signs are worth $9 each?


Rothko the Writer

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Rothko the writer - an article discussing Rothko's writings, The Artist's Reality, and Writings on Art.

Although it had enjoyed a long life in the mythology surrounding Rothko, the actual manuscript for ``The Artist's Reality" had spent almost 50 years hidden in a manilla folder, labeled ``miscellaneous papers," before being accidentally discovered by the estate's bookkeeper in 1988. Not wanting to spoil the ``sensuous adventure" of his father's art with second-rate writing, Christopher Rothko then held on to the many scraps and drafts for 15 years before deciding to edit them into an intelligible (and intelligent) book.

In 1941, poised between his surrealist experiments of the 1930s and the unforgettably simplified luminosity that would emerge eight years later, Rothko took a year off to write. All the anecdotal evidence suggests that he approached the task very seriously, and these publications show he did it very well. While most of the ideas in the book are not original to him, it is still exciting to follow along as one of our best painters addresses the big problems of the era, with chapters on Primitive Art, Modern Art, Beauty, and Decadence. If he sometimes loses himself in a pile of abstractions, Rothko usually finds his way back to basic concepts, and the journey goes more smoothly if one keeps his future paintings in mind while reading. His detailed inquiries into the role of light in painting are a bit technical, but less so if one remembers how nice it is to bask in the light that his iconic works effortlessly emit.

If ``The Artist's Reality" gives us Rothko the theorist, ``Writings on Art" aims at a fuller picture. The 90 or so chronological entries start in 1934 with his enthusiastic conviction that ``painting is just as natural a language as singing or speaking" and end, in 1969, with a very short speech marking the ``difficult" acceptance of an honorary doctorate from his abandoned alma mater,Yale. (Having finally achieved fame, Rothko tells his audience,with overtones of his impending suicide, that he longs, instead,for ``pockets of silence.")


Rothko Chapel


Did you know there was a Rothko Chapel? I guess that's one reason to visit Houston.

Rothko quote:

I'm not an abstractionist... I'm not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. And the fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions... the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point.

If you're not sure why this is a surprising thing (well, it was to me anyway) for Rothko to say, here's a sample of some of his paintings.

Billy West Interview


Billy West, the voice actor behind Ren & Stimpy and several of the characters on Futurama has some things to say about celebrity voices:

[W]ith your little strip of vocal cords, you're going to create heavens and hells and universes and populations of people, which is the whole idea that a voice person has in their head. It's like, "Whatever it is, I'll be it." But the voice people can physically escape the sound of their own voice. We do multiple voices. We used to save producers' asses, because they'd hire you and say, "Well, we were going to get six people, but we can't afford it. Can you do this, this, and this?" And you'd do them, and they'd be perfectly happy, and they'd save a bundle of dough. Now, it's the exact opposite. The minute they mention a CGI film, they're already looking to see what Renée Zellweger is doing. They're already looking to see what Billy Crystal is doing. This doesn't make sense, to do what they do--spend zillions on visuals, and then have this totally fucking flat-lining voice track. You know, "Hey, I'm Will Smith, I'm a clam! I'm Will Smith, I'm a kangaroo!" All you bring to the performance is your own ego. They're just being themselves. Let's put it this way: Cameron Diaz is the highest paid voice actress in history: $20 million for Shrek. Why? Because she has a 9-foot mouth? That works somewhere else, but not on tape! [Laughs.] It's like what the hell is that all about?

Let me say this about Billy Crystal as a voice actor: he was kind of distracting in Howl's Moving Castle, because it really popped out at you that it was Billy Crystal doing the voice, which is not good when you're supposed to be paying attention to the fire demon that he's voicing.

dali centennial approaches

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Robert Hughes likes Dali, at least his early work. ( via )


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The online picasso project. Amazingly detailed history of nearly 7000 art works.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Art category.

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This is, a weblog by Bill Stilwell. I take the occasional photo.


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