Saturday, March 31, 2012

Graffiti artist Banksy £400,000 triumphs as seventeen art works sell at Bonhams Urban Art Sale (from ArtDaily.org)





 
 


Banksy:  Bomb Hugger
 


LONDON.-  March 31, 2012


Seventeen art works by the celebrated graffiti artist, Banksy, went under the hammer last night (29 March) as part of Bonhams Urban Art Sale, selling for a total of £405,425. Exceptional prices were achieved for three original works by the artist. Leopard and Barcode, acquired directly from an exhibition entitled Existencilism at the 33 1/3 Gallery, Los Angeles by the present owner and never before been seen at auction, sold for £75,650; Love is in the Air, 2002, £87,650; and Bomb Hugger, £49,250. Banksy highlights also included Banksy’s Girl and Balloon, 2009, which sold for £73,250; Happy Choppers, £13,125; and Nola, £12,500. 






Banksy, Girl and Balloon



Top prices were also paid for O Anniversario da Meretris, 2008 by Os Gemeos (£73,250); Shepard Fairey’s Take Action, 2005 (£24,375); and an untitled piece by Cyclops (£15,000). In total, the sale realised £742,550 with 92% sold by value. Alan Montgomery, Urban Art Specialist at Bonhams, said: "Our results in last night’s auction prove that the demand for works by Banksy is stronger than ever, and the interest in Urban Art continues to grow. It appears that it is now a truly global phenomenon, attracting bidders from around the world. We look forward to our next sale, and intend to include an exciting mix of big names and emerging talent in this rapidly developing area of the art market." 






Banksy, Love is in the Air



NOTE:  I think I’ll just let this one speak (or sigh) for itself.  To put it in some context, however, I just finished listening to My Back Pages (Byrds version) when I was exercising and find it (still) timely and relevant.  Funny how Jane’s just getting into this stuff now that it’s well and truly over.  (See Alan Montgomery’s remarks above.)  I would like to add, however, that I think Shephard Fairey’s work is simply awful and that the headline is like some dreadful pre-April Fool joke. 
Lot 214 - Banksy (b. 1975), Love is in the Air. Photo: Bonhams. LONDON.- Seventeen art works by the celebrated graffiti artist, Banksy, went under the hammer last night (29 March) as part of Bonhams Urban Art Sale, selling for a total of £405,425. Exceptional prices were achieved for three original works by the artist. Leopard and Barcode, acquired directly from an exhibition entitled Existencilism at the 33 1/3 Gallery, Los Angeles by the present owner and never before been seen at auction, sold for £75,650; Love is in the Air, 2002, £87,650; and Bomb Hugger, £49,250. Banksy highlights also included Banksy’s Girl and Balloon, 2009, which sold for £73,250; Happy Choppers, £13,125; and Nola, £12,500. Top prices were also paid for O Anniversario da Meretris, 2008 by Os Gemeos (£73,250); Shepard Fairey’s Take Action, 2005 (£24,375); and an untitled piece by Cyclops (£15,000). In total, the sale realised £742,550 with 92% sold by value. Alan Montgomery, Urban Art Specialist at Bonhams, said: "Our results in last night’s auction prove that the demand for works by Banksy is stronger than ever, and the interest in Urban Art continues to grow. It appears that it is now a truly global phenomenon, attracting bidders from around the world. We look forward to our next sale, and intend to include an exciting mix of big names and emerging talent in this rapidly developing area of the art market."

More Information: http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=11&int_new=54479&int_modo=1[/url]
Copyright © artdaily.org

All Light Up (Pretty Things)











All light up, all light up  
All light up, all light up  
All light up, all light up  
All light up, all light up

Revolution sixty-nine,
I was there, it felt fine
 
Paris riots, sixty-eight 
Dropped a tab and got there late

All light up, all light up  
All light up, all light up  
All light up, all light up  
All light up, all light up

All light up, all light up  
All light up, all light up  
All light up, all light up  
All light up, all light up








 

Friday, March 30, 2012

From "In Memory Of W.B. Yeats" (W.H. Auden)










Time that is intolerant
Of the brave and the innocent,
And indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,

Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives;
Pardons cowardice, conceit,
Lays its honours at their feet.

Time that with this strange excuse
Pardoned Kipling and his views,
And will pardon Paul Claudel,
Pardons him for writing well.

 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Adrienne Rich





 



I was up for a while last night reading about the life (and reading some poems) of Adrienne Rich, who died yesterday.  Delving into her biography caused me also to read some material about her partner, the writer Michelle Cliff.


Caroline wrote her senior English thesis on Rich when we were both at college.  It was excellent, unorthodox, practically footnote-less work (I know because I was one of the team who stayed up all night typing it, as well as a final Dante paper for another course), helping her complete three credits and two years of gym requirements in the final twenty-four hours before graduation doomsday deadline.  


She turned in the thesis just under the wire (I mean just; we greeted her professor arriving early at her office at 6 am on a beautiful, warm late May Swarthmore morning), and it was so well received that Caroline was honored with a “graduated with distinction” (a big deal at Swarthmore) designation that was actually inserted in the graduating students list by a member of the registrar's office gifted with astonishing and deft razorblade artistry.


I had forgotten a lot, but then remembered quite a bit.  The facts of Rich’s life, many of them dramatic and bitter, I still find unsettling.  I suspect they seem less so to her family and partner, but who’s to know?  Poets don’t get covered as celebrities in People magazine very often and if they did, they’d probably look happy posed with their cat or dog.  (That’s a great photographer trick for breaking the mask and getting people to look their best.)  


Anyway, another event experienced in the middle of the night that stirs up the sea silt at the bottom of the ocean.




Hypnos At Home (Nonverbal Communication)









Every interior betrays the nonverbal skills of its inhabitants.  The choice of materials, the distribution of space, the kind of objects that command attention or demand to be touched – as compared to those that intimidate or repel – have much to say about the preferred sensory modalities of their owners.









Their sense of organization, the degree of freedom left to imagination, their coerciveness or aesthetic rigidity, their sensitivity and fields of awareness – are all revealed in their houses.










Child psychiatrists use play techniques to observe children expressing their foremost concerns through creative activities.






Psychiatrists working with adults need only study the material environment with which individuals surround themselves to secure fresh insights into their relationships to objects, people and ideas.







The contrast between a meticulously kept mansion inhabited by an elderly couple and a small home filled with children, where marks of living are found everywhere, is one that needs no comment.






NOTE:   


The text above is excerpted from Jurgen Ruesch and Weldon Kees' Nonverbal Communication, Notes on the Visual Perception of Human Relations, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1956, where I've lately found my rootless self rooting around.

The extraordinary interior photographs above show the Belgian Symbolist artist Fernand Khnoppf's (now unfortunately destroyed) Villa Khnopff on the Avenue des Courses, near the Bois de la Cambre, in Brussels.  An article describing the house by Hélène Laillet, which was originally published in The Studio, LVII, December 1912, no. 237, p. 206 and The International Studio, XLVIII, January 1913, no. 191, p. 201, is found Here and is well worth reading.









Khnoppf' lived and worked alone in his meticulously kept mansion (the exterior appears above this note) without a companion or children.  It's my kind of house, actually, and reminds me of interiors that my mother would also have found appealing or designed for our type of family living.  I suppose it's not for everyone and it's a far cry from the space I inhabit now.

I personally have no design talent whatsoever; I can't make a room comfortable or practical, let alone add any flair or aesthetic savor to an interior space.  (My mother's considerable gifts in that regard were passed on to my brother, I think.)







But I wonder, in terms of Ruesch and Kees' analysis, if what we aspire to but do not create ourselves also conveys significant clues as to the nonverbal skills or qualities of the "imagining inhabitants."  I just don't know.

Apart from Khnoppf's masterpiece, I think my favorite interior ever was the standard junior suite accommodation formerly (I haven't been there in years, so I'm assuming there have been changes) offered by the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California.  The suite was visually perfect in all respects -- straight and curved lines all in place, soothing and enlivening colors rightly arrayed and arranged, exquisite textures, order reigning.  The only problem was that if you moved around in the room at all, if you displaced a single item from its assigned position, you wrecked the place.  I occasionally had two or three week stays there and I was constantly cleaning my own room.  Those were the days (after a fashion).




Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On Never Meeting The Master (Hilton Kramer Obituary From New York Sun)






NOTE:  I read the following short obituary/tribute this morning regarding the critic Hilton Kramer and thought it was good and worth sharing.


By FRANKLIN EINSPRUCH | March 27, 2012



   I never met Hilton Kramer, but I contribute regularly to the magazine he co-founded, The New Criterion, and I was saddened to learn that he died this morning (Link).


   Every issue proclaims on its cover, “The New Criterion: A monthly review edited by Hilton Kramer & Roger Kimball.” To me, this is a reminder to look deeply into the art I have proposed to write about, and hone my prose until it is as sharp as a Japanese sword.


   I have developed an interest in a neglected group of modernists who admired the principles of abstraction while painting figuratively. My writing about them necessitates research, which often turns up a piece by Kramer. And there he is, lamenting the neglect years before I began to experience it myself, and writing scintillating passages like this one (Link) from 2004 about Jane Freilicher: “Cloudy skylines and vivid floral bouquets, still-lifes and landscapes, nasturtiums and petunias lording it over Manhattan’s imposing cityscape, the rectilinear cityscape itself dissolved into a phantom Cubist still-life - these are some of the suggestive incongruities to be savored in Jane Freilicher’s new paintings at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.” When my turn came to write about Freilicher at Tibor de Nagy, I felt like I was staring up at a sheer cliff without a top-rope.






Jane Freilicher, Harmonic Convergence, 2008


   While doing some research for a Fairfield Porter review last year, I ran across Kramer's essay (Link) about the Porter show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from 1983. “Abstract Expressionism thus served Porter’s artistic interests very much as Impressionism had served Vuillard’s,” it read. “It gave him the means of producing art that was modern as well as traditional—for producing an art that he could somehow regard as complete.”





 
 Fairfield Porter, Daffodill and Anemone, 1965


    On top of this perfection of summary, Kramer had keenly observed the social forces that conspired against Porter's due recognition. “Even journals that are normally content to act as if contemporary art does not exist—I think particularly of The New Republic and The New York Review of Books—felt obliged to make an exception in this case and pay the Porter exhibition some sort of critical attention. The former invited no less a literary personage than John Updike to review the show—presumably on the grounds that it takes a WASP to understand a WASP, and that only a professional observer of American middle-class manners could be expected to come to terms with the world depicted in Porter’s paintings—while the latter simply reprinted John Ashbery’s affectionate little essay for the exhibition catalogue. (Like many things written about Porter by his friends, this paid a handsome tribute to the man, but had virtually nothing to say about the paintings.) At The New Yorker, the assignment to cover the exhibition for “The Art World” column did not go to the magazine’s regular art critic—a specialist in the antics of Andy Warhol, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg—but to Whitney Balliett, the resident jazz critic and sometime reviewer of novels who happens to be the fortunate owner of one of the best pictures in the exhibition and may thus be presumed to be a passionate admirer of Porter’s work.”







Edouard Vuillard, Intérieur à Table à Ouvrage, 1893


   I longed to meet him, but each of our several mutual contacts shook his head when I brought it up. “He's very sick.” I didn't inquire further. The details were none of my business. It was enough to have a distant mentor in the writings themselves, passages full of images seen as thoroughly as they could be seen, and people understood as thoroughly as they could be understood. It would have to be enough.



Franklin Einspruch is the art critic for The New York Sun. He blogs at Artblog.net.


The (Original) Island Of Sheep










" We 'd better 'ave this out," he said. "Lady Sevenoaks, you 're what the Americans call a stand-patter, begging your pardon. You still think of the nation as split up into classes each utterly different in temperament and outlook. 


    That's where you're wrong. You Liberals are the worst reactionaries. You 'aven't any notion of the ordinary man. Nothing like as much as the Tory. Why, in my old part of the world people used to 'sir ' the Liberal member and touch their 'ats to him, while everybody called the Tory candidate by his Christian name. There ain't much in that, but it's a parable of the way you have got into the 'abit of cast-iron class notions. This war has shown that all classes are much the same at bottom. Ask the soldiers. They've learned more about the British people in the trenches than you'd learn in politics in a hundred years." 









    Mr. Maldwin signified his assent. "That's true of the two things I know anything about  — sport and fighting. I always guessed it, but I learned it pretty thoroughly in France. That's why I'm for the ordinary man, who's the chap that won the war.  I'd be for the Labour Party to-morrow if it would buck up and reform its stable. It ain't the horses that's to blame; it's the poor stamp of jock." 










    "What I say," continued Mr. Jonas, "is that so long as we go on talking about classes as if they were things established by 'Eaven since the creation of the world, we are asking for trouble. You'll never get to understand about folks in a different walk of life from you if you think of them as somehow different by nature. Things are easier in America, because they tell me that classes are fluid there and their boundaries are always shifting. That's so, Mrs. Lavender?" 








     "True," said the lady. "William was raised in a shack in Idaho, and if the present rate of taxation goes on, my boys will be getting back to that shack."

    "I'm not speaking about classes," said Lady Sevenoaks. "I am speaking about creeds. Do you mean to deny that Bolshevism is rampant in British Labour to-day?" 









    "Of course I do. It's a bad 'abit to call a thing names when you don't understand it. Of course the workers are restless, same as everybody else; and since they ‘ave won the war they want a square deal with the fruits of peace. But they ain't Bolsheviks — barring a few dozen miscreants who should be in gaol. What's Bolshevism anyhow? Judging by the Russian specimens, apart from their liking for 'olesale 'omicide, it seems to mean a general desire to pull things up by the roots. Well, that ain't the line of the British working-man. He is the soundest conservative on the globe, and what he wants is to get his roots down deeper. In other countries the poor man ‘as a grip on the soil. In this country he 'asn't 'ad that for two hundred years. We are over-industrialised, as the saying is; but a root's got to be found somewhere, and he finds it in his Unions. That's why he's so jealous about them, and quite right too. He wants to find security and continuity somewhere. Now that's the opposite of Bolshevism. The true Bolsheviks are the intellectuals that want to make him only a bit of scientific terminology, as Jock Willison says, and the plutocrats that want to make him a cog in a cold-'earted machine. They're the folk that are trying to up- turn the foundations of things.' 






  

    "I should define Bolshevism differently,' said Sir William. "Its chief motive seems to be the establishment of the tyranny of a class. It's the same thing as Prussianism, only its class is the proletariat."








    "I'm dead-sick of that word 'proletariat,'" said Mr. Jonas. "It's part of the bastard scientific jargon that's come over from Germany. I wouldn't call my dog such an 'ard name. But you're right, Sir William. Only what I'm arguing is that Bolshevism is a very old thing, and that there is n't much of it in the British working-classes. I'll tell you who were 'earty Bolsheviks in their day. The Manchester School and the Utilitarians. They wanted to run the world mainly for the benefit of one class, and they considered only material ends.  It 's true they didn't dabble in crime, but that was because they were rich, frock-coated gents and didn't need to." 





 
    Sir William Jacob was far from pleased at Mr. Jonas's assent to his definition, followed as it was by this unexpected illustration. "You misread the Manchester School very gravely, Mr. Jonas.”









NOTE:


The excerpt above is from The Island Of Sheep, a largely unknown book written and published by the famous Scottish novelist, politician, statesman, international taxation expert and publisher John Buchan in 1919 under the pseudonym “Cadmus and Harmonia.”  I encountered it for the first time earlier this week in a digitized copy available through the New York Public Library website.

    In 2001, John Buchan scholar Michael Redley of Oxford University, described the book as follows:

    “At the Armistice in 1918 the most productive period of John Buchan's life lay just ahead. Leaving the civil service aged 44 after war service in propaganda, he settled quickly into his peacetime stride, not just as the popular writer we know and love but as one of the most creative and energetic political activists of his generation.

    The foundation for Buchan's extraordinary outlay of energy and ideas in this period lay in a little book. It appeared in late 1919 under the pseudonym 'Cadmus and Harmonia'. Buchan told his American publisher that it had generated 'a good deal of interest among political people'. However sales were disappointing when the book appeared early the following year in the United States. There was wry amusement when a magazine called The Butcher's Advocate asked for a review copy in the mistaken belief that it had to do with the meat business. This was The Island of Sheep.







The book uses a late-Victorian style of literary entertainment which was already well out of date by the 1920s. A house party of characters from all walks of life gathers to discuss the issues of the day.  Buchan had used a similar device, which he called an apologue, a political statement dressed up as an entertainment, in The Lodge in the Wilderness, an imperialist tract which had appeared in 1907. Half the fun of it - innocent it seems in our more worldly times - is to spot the semi-portraits of famous contemporaries, many of them Buchan's own friends and acquaintances from the war years. The Island of Sheep worries away at the problems of the post-war world, the collapse of Liberalism, the rise of working class politics, how international relations will work under the League of Nations, and the role and definition of democracy in the modern world.

    The book has no pretensions as literature. It is occasionally charming and amusing, but no more. The lack of that polished finish which generally characterises Buchan's published writing is what I particularly like about the book. Buchan never wrote anything which reveals so directly the moral and intellectual basis of his own beliefs. He claimed that the book was written largely by Susan, his wife, and that his contribution had been 'joining the flats'. Susan said in her own autobiography that they worked on the book together. This is almost certainly true, but that Buchan had nothing to do with the main ideas in the book does not stand up to serious scrutiny.”






Buchan allowed The Island of Sheep to go out of print and later refused requests for further reprintings. Redley believes that this indicated a desire to eradicate his previous critique of American isolationism, which was inconsistent with his current intentions, while serving as Great Britain’s Governor-General of Canada, to close the gap between American and British views of the world.  Buchan completed the book’s “burial” by actually  re-using its title for the fifth and final Richard Hannay novel (which I highly recommend for its remarkable descriptions of maritime Norway).  

    I agree that the book’s directness and its lack of  “polished finish,” something readers might  normally experience as a negative quality, make this an unusual curio in the Buchan canon.  However, the lack of burnished style and classic “Buchan pace” doesn’t mean the volume lacks Buchan vigor and sinew, and the book speaks the author's political mind and views clearly and forcefully.

    Redley again:  “Fundamental to the conclusions of the book is the belief, which was anathema to most people of his class at the time, that the Labour Party must quickly gain experience of power. The instincts of the people should be trusted, and at the same time broadened by making higher education and culture accessible to all.  It was a radical prospectus for its times, but one with a future. The most successful political ideology in Britain between the wars, 'Baldwinism', was a compound of these very ideas. The Island of Sheep was one of its earliest tracts, and Buchan went on to be one of its main architects.”

    It’s good and bracing to discover, to be taken by surprise and captured, by books  you never knew existed.  That is what happened to me tumbling on the "original" of The Island of Sheep, looking both ancient and fresh in its facsimile electronic digital format.  Thinking about John Buchan's life and career, I re-imagine the time before television and videogame distraction and abstraction, when energetic polymaths really used their minds to go to town.  

 





Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Vito Acconci: Learning Piece Statement 1970 (Black Betty)











Playing on tape, the first two phrases of a song (Leadbelly’s “Black Betty”).  Repeating the two phrases and singing along with them, until I have learned them and gotten the feel of the original performance.


      Playing the next two phrases;  repeating four phrases until I have learned them.  Continuing by adding, each time, two more phrases until the entire song is learned.