Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Review

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

When Reviewers Juxtapose

Whaam!, a 1963 pop art painting by Roy Lichten...
Whaam!, a 1963 pop art painting by Roy Lichtenstein, incorporates onomatopoetic comics lettering. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Review of Bart Beaty's Comics Versus Art
By Cameron Kunzelman

Beaty, Bart. Comics Versus Art. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012. Print.

Bart Beaty's Comics Versus Art is an analysis of the relationship between comics and art in the 20th and 21st centuries. Beaty's methodology is decidedly original, eschewing literary or fan-centered accounts of both art and the comics community in favor of "a sociology of the arts" that surrounds comics and art culture more broadly. Because of this, the chapters in Comics Versus Art take a wide breadth of topics in addressing comics and art proper. Toys, Wizard Magazine, Roy Lichtenstein, Clement Greenberg, and even Friedrich Nietzsche take their place in analysis beside the curated art shows, auctions, and comics anthologies that populate the comics-art assemblage. 

From Vulture today

Q: Both Killing Eve and Catfight have a pair of female adversaries at their core. Killing Eve is much more of a cat-and-mouse style thriller, whereas Catfight was this social satire. But they’re both grounded in this female adversarial energy. Is there something about that dynamic that attracts you?

Sandra Oh: Huh, I didn’t really notice that. Gosh, now that I think about it, that’s true. Catfight was very much violent and adversarial and [Killing Eve] is very intertwined and adversarial but also obsessive. It’s super-charged, like you’re getting to wrestle with the female psyche that way. In Catfight, both of our characters wanted to kill the other. With Killing Eve, it’s not so much wanting to kill the other, it’s the fear of killing the other.

Robertson's Art Quest

Minimum length for this is 600 words, but it could easily go longer. Due date is May 7. Due date for play review is May 14. Due date for your interview with a critic/reviewer is May 25. **There will be no final exam.**

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Monday, April 23, 2018

'Ugly' Quotes

English: Frank Zappa, © 1977 Mark Estabrook. 1...
English: Frank Zappa, © 1977 Mark Estabrook. 1977 Frank Zappa press conference and Armadillo World Headquarters performance photographs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"And all this culture, all this art, was simply a trick. It allowed us to pretend that human beings were noble, intelligent creatures who'd left their animal past behind them long ago and had evolved into something finer, something purer; that because they could write like angels they were angels. But this art was just a screen that hid the ugly truth -- that we were still the same creatures who had cut into the warm bellies of the animals we'd killed with sharpened stones and vented our anger on the weak with frenzied blows of a blunt club." 

"People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish... but that's only if it's done properly." 

"Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time." 
Jean Cocteau

"All profoundly original art looks ugly at first." - Clement Greenberg

"I feel that works of art which genuinely puzzle us are almost always of ultimate consequence." - Clement Greenberg

"Well, Daddy, I used to believe that artists went crazy in the process of creating the beautiful works of art that kept society sane. Nowadays, though, artists make intentionally ugly art that’s only supposed to reflect society rather than inspire it. So I guess we’re all loony together now, loony rats in the shithouse of commercialism." 
Tom Robbins 

Not only can we take the aesthetic attitude toward things that are not art, but we can also take it toward things that are not beautiful. Some art is ugly, and certain artworks even flaunt their ugliness for artistic effect. In fact, calling something ugly is giving it an aesthetic evaluation, which in turn requires taking the aesthetic attitude toward it. - Alexandra King

"Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit - all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them." 
Brian Eno 

“The dominant theories of elite art and criticism in the 20th century grew out of a militant denial of human nature. One legacy is ugly, baffling, and insulting art. The other is pretentious and unintelligible scholarship. And they’re surprised that people are staying away in droves?” - Steven Pinker

"Art should be linked to abstract things - color, line, tone. It is not an instrument to improve social conditions and chase ugliness. Painting is like music and it has to separate from everyday reality." 
Irving Stone

'Ugly' seems like an overstatement, but 'boring' seems to hit the nail on the head. - Naysawn Naderi

"The job of art is to chase ugliness away." 
Walter Isaacson (Steve Jobs)

“I have an important message to deliver to all the cute people all over the world. If you're out there and you're cute, maybe you're beautiful. I just want to tell you somethin' — there's more of us UGLY MOTHERFUCKERS than you are, hey-y, so watch out.” 

"Christianity was beauty created by controlling a million monsters of ugliness . . . modern art and science practically mean having the million monsters and being unable to control them..." 

"Create something. Create something ugly. Create something beautiful.  I don't care what it is. Create it. " 

"In all great works of fiction, regardless of the grim reality they present, there is an affirmation of life against the transience of that life, an essential defiance. This affirmation lies in the way the author takes control of reality by retelling it in his own way, thus creating a new world. Every great work of art, I would declare pompously, is a celebration, an act of insubordination against the betrayals, horrors and infidelities of life. The perfection and beauty of form rebels against the ugliness and shabbiness of the subject matter." 
Azar Nafisi 

“It is the sheer ugliness and banality of everyday life which turns my blood to ice and makes me cringe in terror.” 

“I’m trying in all my stories to get the feeling of the actual life across—not to just depict life—or criticize it—but to actually make it alive. So that when you have read something by me you actually experience the thing. You can’t do this without putting in the bad and the ugly as well as what is beautiful. Because if it is all beautiful you can’t believe in it. Things aren’t that way.” 

“-Do you see that?
-Yeah, what is it?
-That’s the truth.
-How can you tell it’s the truth?
-Because it’s ugly.” 

"There is something about the act of studying an unclothed body, as an artist does, that allows a person to appreciate it as pure form, regardless of the kinds of traits traditionally regarded as imperfections. In a figure drawing class, an obese woman's folds of flesh take on a kind of beauty. You can look at a man's shrunken chest or legs or buttocks with tenderness. Age is not ugly, just poignant." 
Joyce Maynard

“Accentuated plainness and accentuated vice ought to bring about harmony. Beauty lies in harmony, in style, whether it be the harmony of ugliness or beauty, vice or virtue.” 
Yevgeny Zamyatin,

“If you think something is ugly, look harder. Ugliness is just a failure of seeing.” 

Matt Haig,

“Imperfections don’t make something ugly.” 

Beauty he loved for its own sake; ugliness, which more often than not was a form of inverted beauty, fascinated him. Life offered far too little of either, and far too much appalling mediocrity, which he thought hideous.” 

All Art is Interpretation, and Sometimes It Makes Fools of Us

From a Fodor's miniguide

English: Michelangelo's David (original statue...
English: Michelangelo's David (original statue) Deutsch: David von Michelangelo (Original aus der "Accademia" in Florenz) Nederlands: David van Michelangelo (het originele beeld) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"As Michelangelo well knew, the Renaissance painting
 and sculpture that preceded his work were deeply
 concerned with ideal form. Perfection of proportion
 was the ever-sought Holy Grail; during the Renaissance, ideal proportion was
 equated with ideal beauty, and ideal beauty was equated
 with spiritual perfection. But David, despite its
 supremely calm and dignified pose, departs from these
 ideals. Michelangelo did not give the statue perfect
 proportions. The head is slightly too large for the
 body, the arms are too large for the torso,and the hands are
 dramatically large for the arms. The facade of the
 Duomo and was intended to be seen from below
 at a distance. Michelangelo knew exactly what he was
 doing, calculating that the perspective of the viewer
 would be such that, in order for the statue to appear
 properly proportioned, the upper body, head and arms
 would have to be bigger,as they are farther away
 from the viewer's line of vision. But he also did it
 to express and embody, as powerfully as possible
 in a single figure, an entire biblical story.
 David's hands are  big, but so was Goliath,
 and these are the hands that slew him."

English: Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's B...
English: Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Français : La Pietà de Michel-Ange située dans la Basilique Saint-Pierre, au Vatican. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
From a Renaissance website

An examination of each figure reveals that their proportions are not entirely natural in relation to the other.  Although their heads are proportional, the Virgin’s body is larger than Christ’s body.  She appears so large that if she stood up, she would likely tower over her son.  The reason Michelangelo did this was probably because it was necessary so that the Virgin could support her son on her lap; had her body been smaller, it might have been very difficult or awkward for her to have held an adult male as gracefully as she does.

Handy Handy Guide to Pronunciation of Artists' Names, Plus Smart Questions for That Art Gallery Visit

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Typewr...
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, 1999, painted stainless steel and fiberglas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's all part of sounding smart. 

A Checklist for Looking at Art

Art education at the Terrain Gallery in New Yo...
Art education at the Terrain Gallery in New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most of this is from art educator David Perkins
·      Work to overcome the given passivity toward viewing engendered by television and videos.
·      Engage in active viewing and a lot of it.
·      Understand that viewing art is its own reward.
·      Accept that viewing art is a complex, challenging proposition.
·      Use questioning as the primary strategy. (I would say, “Don’t be afraid to express your uncertainty.”)
·       Look for the things in the work that carry the “kick” or the “oomph.” Move toward the "inner relations" of aesthetic experiences rather than the "outer relations" of art history.
·      Look for motion (or stillness), mood, personality, and surprise to hook into the aesthetic effects
·      Invest “looking time,” at least 3-5 minutes.
·      Find a good distance, where the work becomes a whole.
·      Let your eyes work for you. Remember to have a "hungry eye."
·      Make looking deep and clear. Let what you know inform your looking.
·      Let questions emerge. When the flow stops, look away for a few seconds, then look back. This refreshes the eyes.
·      Make looking organized. Tell yourself when you notice interesting features.
·      Label the features in words to yourself.
·      Juxtapose paintings, etc. to promote seeing.
·      Always look for the "point of entry," the emotional/intellectual hook that challenges the viewer to engage with the work.

Perkins, David N. "The Intelligent Eye: Learning to Think by Looking at Art." The Getty Center for Education in the Arts. 1994

Turning Art

Fresh new art every month

A Catholic View of Art?

From Hamilton Reed Armstrong, sculptor and professor of Fine Arts

The elevation of "art" and “the arts" to a position of status was a Renaissance concept based on Platonic and Neo-Platonic philosophies which emphasized the ascent of the soul to the divine realm through the contemplation of natural and artificial beauty.
 In the classical tradition, from Plato to Aquinas, things that delight the eye (ear) and elate the soul are said to be beautiful. Thus by contemplating the proportion, radiance, harmony, and integrity of the created order we may, or ought to be, brought to contemplate the uncreated beauty/good,  Kalón, of the Creator. "Since through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author." (Wisdom 13:5)

 The Abbé Suger of St. Denis in Paris, founding father of Gothic architecture, rightly saw that the beauty of natural objects (statuary, stained glass, and sacred vessels) in a sacred setting lead the viewer to divine contemplation. "When  ‘out of my delight in the beauty of the house of God’  the loveliness of the many-colored stones has called me away from external cares, and worthy meditation has induced me to reflect, transferring that which is material to that which is immaterial, on the diversity of the sacred virtues: then it seems to me that I see myself dwelling, as it were, in some strange region of the universe which neither exists entirely in the slime of earth nor entirely in the purity of Heaven; and that, by the grace of God, I can be transported from this inferior to that higher world in an anagogical manner."

 St. Thomas Aquinas: The pursuit of beauty, albeit one of the highest of natural goods, can, however, be perverted and turned away from its proper end. St. Thomas, again reminds us, that even though "Every one loves beauty, spiritual people love spiritual beauty and carnal people love carnal beauty." (Comm. in Psalmos, 25, 5)  Whereas spiritual beauty is ultimately found in its Source, God, carnal beauty can, and often does, lead away from Him. From the very beginning the pursuit of beauty has had its dangers and pitfalls. “And the woman saw that the fruit… was fair to the eyes and delightful to behold.” (Gen. III, 6)