Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Review

Thursday, April 19, 2018

More Judy Dater

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Visiting Judy Dater

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Clive Bell on Art Refracted Through Our Visit with Judy Dater

Judy Dater seemed to say "art" is something that moves her and also makes her want to go home and create.

But it is useless for a critic to tell me that something is a work of art; he must make me feel it for myself. This he can do only by making me see; he must get at my emotions through my eyes. Unless he can make me see something that moves me, he cannot force my emotions. I have no right to consider anything a work of art to which I cannot react emotionally; and I have no right to look for the essential quality in anything that I have not felt to be a work of art. The critic can affect my aesthetic theories only by affecting my aesthetic experience. All systems of aesthetics must be based on personal experience that is to say, they must be subjective.

Why knowing bits and pieces of theory can be useful to a journalist: It would have been interesting to share with her the italicized passage and get a reaction to this notion of universality.

Yet, though all aesthetic theories must be based on aesthetic judgments, and ultimately all aesthetic judgments must be matters of personal taste, it would be rash to assert that no theory of aesthetics can have general validity. For, though A, B, C, D are the works that move me, and A, D, E, F the works that move you, it may well be that x is the only quality believed by either of us to be common to all the works in his list. We may all agree about aesthetics, and yet differ about particular works of art. We may differ as to the presence or absence of the quality x. My immediate object will be to show that significant form is the only quality common and peculiar to all the works of visual art that move me; and I will ask those whose aesthetic experience does not tally with mine to see whether this quality is not also, in their judgment, common to all works that move them, and whether they can discover any other quality of which the same can be said.

Photography is a useful starting point for a discussion of the following idea from Bell. I'd have liked to get her to 'deconstruct' the GunDaddy photo as an exercise in composition.  Also, does her intent matter? Recall that she embarked on this course of photos not to make a point about guns but because of her curiosity about those who own them and who like owning them. Second also - and I'm extrapolating here - since she feels smiles are masks, she is certainly interested in props and situations where people drop their masks. So there's always more than 'form' going on in her photos.

Also at this point a query arises, irrelevant indeed, but hardly to be suppressed: “Why are we so profoundly moved by forms related in a particular way?” The question is extremely interesting, but irrelevant to aesthetics. In pure aesthetics we have only to consider our emotion and its object: for the purposes of aesthetics we have no right, neither is there any necessity, to pry behind the object into the state of mind of him who made it.

For a discussion of aesthetics, it need be agreed only that forms arranged and combined according to certain unknown and mysterious laws do move us in a particular way, and that it is the business of an artist so to combine and arrange them that they shall move us. These moving combinations and arrangements I have called, for the sake of convenience and for a reason that will appear later, “Significant Form.”

She was not ready to call her gun photo beautiful:

Some people may be surprised at my not having called this “beauty.” Of course, to those who define beauty as “combinations of lines and colours that provoke aesthetic emotion,” I willingly conceded the right of substituting their word for mine. But most of us, however strict we may be, are apt to apply the epithet “beautiful” to objects that do not provoke that peculiar emotion produced by works of art...

When an ordinary man speaks of a beautiful woman he certainly does not mean only that she moves him aesthetically; but when an artist calls a withered old hag beautiful he may sometimes mean what he means when he calls a battered torso beautiful. The ordinary man, if he be also a man of taste, will call the battered torso beautiful, but he will not call a withered hag beautiful because, in the matter of women, it is not to the aesthetic quality that the hag may possess, but to some other quality that he assigns the epithet. .... We live in a nice age. With the man-in-the-street (to call a woman) “beautiful” is more often than not synonymous with “desirable”: the word does not necessarily connote any aesthetic reaction whatever, and I am tempted to believe that in the minds of many the sexual flavour of the word is stronger than the aesthetic.

It was not what I would call a documentary photo. It was self-consciously mannered, posed and selected.

The hypothesis that significant form is the essential quality in a work of art has at least one merit denied to many more famous and more striking — it does help to explain things. We are all familiar with pictures that interest us and excite our admiration, but do not move us as works of art. To this class belongs what I call “Descriptive Painting” that is, painting in which forms are used not as objects of emotion, but as means of suggesting emotion or conveying information. Portraits of psychological and historical value, topographical works, pictures that tell stories and suggest situations, illustrations of all sorts, belong to this class. That we all recognise the distinction is clear, for who has not said that such and such a drawing was excellent as illustration, but as a work of art worthless?

I need to see more of her work. Is any of it documentary? 

The ideas and information conveyed by Paddington Station are so amusing and so well presented that the picture has considerable value and is well, worth preserving. But, with the perfection of photographic processes and of the cinematograph, pictures of this sort are becoming otiose. Who doubts that one of those Daily Mirror photographers in collaboration with a Daily Mail reporter can tell us far more about “London day by day” than any Royal Academician? For an account of manners and fashions we shall go, in future, to photographs, supported by a little bright journalism, rather than to descriptive painting.

She seemed unsure of how viewers would react to her "gun" photographs.  She acknowledged different viewers would see different things. Though she is political, she did not demand that her art be so.

Art is above morals, or, rather, all art is moral because, as I hope to show presently, works of art are immediate means to good. Once we have judged a thing a work of art, we have judged it ethically of the first importance and put it beyond the reach of the moralist. 

Nothing to do with our visit with Judy Dater. I think. But I don't want to cherry pick too much.

In primitive art you will find no accurate representation; you will find only significant form. Yet no other art moves us so profoundly. Whether we consider Sumerian sculpture or pre-dynastic Egyptian art, or archaic Greek, or the Wei and T’ang masterpieces, or those early Japanese works of which I had the luck to see a few superb examples (especially two wooden Bodhisattvas) at the Shepherd’s Bush Exhibition in 1910, or whether, coming nearer home, we consider the primitive Byzantine art of the sixth century and its primitive developments amongst the western barbarians, or, turning far afield, we consider that mysterious and majestic art that flourished in Central and South America before the coming of the white men, in every case we observe three common characteristics — absence of representation, absence of technical swagger, sublimely impressive form. Nor is it hard to discover the connection between these three. Formal significance loses itself in preoccupation with exact representation and ostentatious cunning.

It would be interesting to sit next to Judy Dater and see which photographs she discards.

Let no one imagine that representation is bad in itself; a realistic form may be as significant, in its place as part of the design, as an abstract. But if a representative form has value, it is as form, not as representation. The representative element in a work of art may or may not be harmful; always it is irrelevant. For, to appreciate a work of art we need bring with us nothing from life, no knowledge of its ideas and affairs, no familiarity with its emotions. Art transports us from the world of man’s activity to a world of aesthetic exaltation. For a moment we are shut off from human interests; our anticipations and memories are arrested; we are lifted above the stream of life.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018




By Tara Giddings

Art I Love

 Art that I love:

Art that I hate:


This is the art I love:

And this is the art I loathe:

Karen Finley - Chocolate as Feces


Art that I love
Image result for andy warhol art
Art that I loathe
Image result for splatter art




Love / Loathe

Art that I love - Hiroshige's Sudden shower

Art that I loathe