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30 Episodes of Art Criticism & Writing Lectures from SVA’s MFA Program

The MFA program in Art Criticism & Writing is one of the only graduate writing programs in the world that focuses specifically on criticism. This program is not involved in “discourse production” or the prevarications of curatorial rhetoric, but rather in the practice of criticism writ large, aspiring to literature.  Includes video lectures from T. J. Clark, Dave Hickey, Avital Ronell, Boris Groys, Arthur Danto, Johanna Drucker, and many more.

Thanks, Damon.

I don’t normally do this but I’d like to shout out my new favorite art blog.  It is dead now, so I don’t feel too self-conscious by promoting it.  Granteeny documents painter Joe Penrod‘s son’s magnificent forays into art production.  The 4 year old artist works in various media, including photography, performance, poetry, and drawing.  His portfolio is lovely; I am equally impressed with the considered analysis given to each work by Papa Penrod.

Girl with Hair Ribbon–After Lichtenstein: “While Lichtenstein sought to elevate a cartoon to high art, Grant works backwards and takes Lichtensteins painting past its comic roots and back to the origins of the comic- grafiti scrawled on a wall.”

The documented conversations between artist and father artist are equally enlightening, such as the following which occured while viewing a Rothko painting:
Papa, does red mean Rothko is warm?
-Maybe
Does blue mean cold and maybe lonely?
-It can, yeah.  What would you paint if you were an abstract expressionist?
I would paint a yellow painting. It means bananas and also you feel kind of weak…. or weaky…….. or something?

I am so inspired.

Thanks to Peter for showing me this.

Another roundup of child art I mean contemporary art I mean child art.

“Arrows” by Chandler Meyers, age 16.  Artist statement: “I like many many things.”

Sure, comparisons galore here.   The Kruger emotional caption.  The Calder slinky arrows.  The LeWitt rainbow palette.  But I love this piece, and I love it for none of those reasons.

I have said before that I like the fake Hollywood version of contemporary art because it is so obvious, so hyperbolic.  I think child art gets at that.  Buchloh’s critique of Beuys was that has use of symbols was too basic, too A=B.  If Beuys eschewed symbolism [he wouldn't be Beuys he would be Duchamp], A would equal A, and if A is a good idea what’s the problem?

“Untitled” by Francis Gellman age 12.

Francis Gellman.  Frank Gellman.  Frank Stellman.  Frank Stella.

Not that much of a stretch, people.  But Stella never had those colors, so Gellman is really coming into his own.

“Why her?!?” by Freya E, 13 years old.

This one’s just so obvious.

I’ve been wanting to write an essay on this for a while.  Well well well.  Looks like someone beat me to the punch.  But the town of essays on fake nostalgia is big, and I think there’s room enough for both of us.  Mine will be different.  For one, I would like to write it without mentioning “authenticity” 24 times.

The Faux-Vintage Photo by Nathan Jurgenson: “The faux-vintage photo, while getting a lot of attention in this essay, is merely an illustrative example of a larger trend whereby social media increasingly force us to view our present as always a potential documented past.”

Spring has sprung, and it’s time to be in love.  This year, I’ve fallen hard for an Italian political philosopher.  He is a QT.

I am only finally reading Agamben’s The Man Without Content, with much thanks to Adam’s recommendation.  There are so many relevant passages, but one that caught my eye was in a discussion on the attractiveness of bad culture.  Agamben references intrigue novels, but he may as well be speaking to Teen Mom 2 or Coldplay.  The following is from a letter written by Madame de Sevigné, dated July 1671:

I often wonder where the fancy I have for such ridiculous stuff could come from; I can hardly comprehend it.  Perhaps you remember me enough to know how much bad style in writing displeases me; that I have some discernment for a good one; and that no person is more sensible to the charms of eloquence.  La Calprenède’s style is wretched in a thousand places; long-winded periods, ugly words; I feel all this…I know, then how detestable [La Calprenède’s] style of writing is, yet I continue to get caught in it like a limed bird: the beauty of the sentiments, the violence of the passions, the greatness of the events, and the miraculous success of their redoubtable swords, I get carried away by all this like a little girl; I become a party in all their designs, and if I did not have M. de La Rochefoucauld and M. d’Hacqueville to comfort me, I would hang myself for being guilty of such weakness.

Agamben then cites Brunetière’s observation of the inclination of good taste toward its opposite:

What cruel destiny is the critic’s!  All other men follow the impulses of their tastes.  He alone spends his time fighting his!  If he gives way to his pleasure, a voice calls out to him: wretched man, what are you doing?  What!  Le deux gosses makes you cry and Le plus hereux de trois makes you laugh!  Labiche amuses you and Dennery moves you!  You hum Béranger’s music!  You secretly read Alexandre Dumas, perhaps, or Soulié!  Where are your principles, your mission, your priesthood?

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.  GIORGIO.

A few weeks ago I posted some great art made by children that I found on the internet.  I want to do that more often.  Here are a few artists that I found–we should all probably start collecting their work now.

“My house” and “My House Again” by John Weathersby 6 years old from LA.  In his artist statement, Weathersby notes that he likes “Dogs and cats and strate lines”.

I can’t think of a similar artist for these, but I wanted to display them because I love them.   There is no warmth here, though these are meant to depict homes.  We could take it literally and assume he lives in a game of pickup sticks, or we can draw from the subtle symbolism of ordered chaos.

Zola, 12 years old, from Amsterdam.  I can’t really say that I’m into the aesthetic, but I’m picking up a very Cindy Sherman vibe here.  There’s a story in each that remains untold.  Is the protagonist the artist?  Is she the same woman in each?  Is this a feminist series?

Bill Newton, 6 years old from London.  Wait, this one is actually called “Rothko”.  Now I am just doubting everything.