Tag Art

Good art in dark times

From a bracing, decade-old conversation between David Foster Wallace and Larry McCaffery an English professor at San Diego State “perhaps best known for his role in helping to establish science fiction as a major literary genre.”

If what’s always distinguished bad writing—flat characters, a narrative world that’s cliched and not recognizably human, etc.—is also a description of today’s world, then bad writing becomes an ingenious mimesis of a bad world. If readers simply believe the world is stupid and shallow and mean, then Ellis can write a mean shallow stupid novel that becomes a mordant deadpan commentary on the badness of everything. Look man, we’d probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.


from “A Conversation with David Foster Wallace,” interview by Larry McCaffery, Dalkey Archive Press, 1991 :: via more than 95 theses

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Winter Landscape, by Keisai Eisen

Here’s something I didn’t know: this lovely print belongs to a genre of artwork called ukiyo-e, whose name translates literally as “pictures of the floating world.” They celebrated the the evanescent impermance of natural scenes and moments, but also of the heightened worlds of entertainment (kabuki, geisha). Because they could be mass-produced, they introduced ownable artwork to new classes of Japanese people.

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Winter Landscape,” polychrome woodblock print by Keisai Eisen (1790–1848), from the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Man/Woman/Boy/Girl

Explore the full photo grid lightables.net (enter user name manwomanboygirl).

Is there anything more tiresome, and yet oddly compelling, than the sub-sub-genre of blogging wherein one’s pedestrian but repeatable creative efforts in a given category are laid out, day after day, as a great cumulative achievement of artistry and time management? See, for instance: A Photo a Day. A Drawing a Day. A Heart a Day. A Song a Day. A Dog a Day. A Startup a Day. A Collection a Day. Et cetera.

Leaves and teeth

This basket is beautiful, tiny (just over three inches tall), and presumably not for everyday use, what with the teeth and all. It comes from the tiny micronesian republic of Nauru, known more recently as a tiny oasis of environmental devastation, tax-shelter hijinks, internet crime, etc.

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Basket (Egadakua), pandanus leaves, shark’s teeth, fiber, late 19th-early 20th century, Nauru, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York :: via the Met’s Artwork of the Day feed

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Petroglyphs

Alas, the site offers neither name nor date of these beautiful rock drawings. They have a similar look to those at Newspaper Rock, near Moab, Utah. The style of many petroglyphs seems to be a sort of elemental human visual consciousness—some of the oldest surviving evidences of culture-making (though if these drawings are as exposed as the picture suggests, they’re probably much more recent).

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from The History of Visual Communication :: via FFFFOUND! :: first posted here 6 November 2008

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Guarding Matisse, photo by Andy Freeberg

From a series of in situ portraits of the women who oversee Russian art museums—a job which is probably by turns incredibly boring and incredibly interesting. Sitting for hours in the presence of a painting is something that few of us have the patience for, even if we do have the opportunity.

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Originally published at culture-making.com.

MorningStar (detail), by Alison Stigora

I love Alison Stigora’s moving nearly-monochrome drawings and sculptural installations—in particular how she creates her thickets, nests, and networks of bleached or darkened branches equally well in two and three dimensions. ArtPneuma has posted a ten-minute interview with Alison about her creative process and her thoughts about the aesthetics of natural destruction.

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MorningStar” (detail; full image here), India ink, acrylic, graphite, wax marker on photo collage, by Alison Stigora, 2009 :: thanks Jay Walker

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Every Painting in the MoMA on 10 April 2010

When declining to contribute to New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Gertrude Stein commented “You can be a museum, or you can be modern, but you can’t be both.” Who knows if that’s universally true, but this video (really a series of stills) for me triggers not the bracing feelings of novel modernity but rather a pleasant nostalgia. I’ve never been inside MoMA, but seeing so many famously familiar works of art makes it feel like coming home. I especially love the photos that have people in front of the paintings—a reminder, as the date in the video title makes plain, that this is a record of timeless images, yes, but also of a particular time and place.


Every Painting in the MoMA on 10 April 2010,” by Chris Peck :: via things magazine

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Dancers Among Us, by Jordan Matter

Artist’s description: “Dancers Among Us is a collection of NYC dance photographs featuring members of the Paul Taylor and Martha Graham Dance Companies. This is an ongoing project that began in the spring of 2009. There were no trampolines or other devices used for these images.” The entire series is lots of fun, but I love the interplay of artistic exchange—gifts offered, gifts received—in this one.

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Jamie Rae Walker and Annmaria Mazzini,” photo by Jordan Matter, from the series Dancers Among Us, 2009–ongoing :: via kottke.org

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Grace between the cushions:A love letter to my college couch

During my last two years of college, I lived with two roommates, and
we furnished our rooms pretty much exclusively with things we found in
the trash. We were none of us poor, but we were all quite cheap, and
for two years running the luck of the draw had placed us in our
dormitory’s “garbage entryway,” a dingy, be-dumpstered archway where
the garbage and castoffs of our entire 800-resident undergraduate house
was left pending weekly pickup.