In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« RSS, Whatever That Is ... | Main | Sex and The Art of Shaping Hamburgers »

February 27, 2007

Portraits and Modernism

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

A theme I've been edging up to and that I plan to pursue from time to time in the coming months is the question of the future of painting assuming that Modernism and its spawn prove to be an aberration in the long-term history of art. The validity of that assumption can be left for discussion at another time (are you there, Friedrich?). For now, I simply want to use it as a peg for a series of blog posts.

One way of examining this is to look at subject-matter that is comparatively impervious to Modernism and see how artists have been dealing with it. Today I'll take a first pass at portrait painting, perhaps returning later to hit the subject from another angle.

Portraiture can be analyzed in terms of whether or not a particular painting was commissioned and, if commissioned, by whom -- the subject or by an organization or some other funding source. It seems to me that portraits most subject to Modernist influence would be those done strictly at the volition of the artist. The least amount of Modernism is likely to be found in portraits commissioned by the subject or perhaps "official" portraits commissioned by governments or businesses. Other commission sources likely fall someplace between, though probably tending to the non-Modernist end of the spectrum.

(I posted on Presidential portraits here.)

Here's a selective overview. All or nearly all of the paintings shown were not commissioned and present the artist's free-choice side of the typology just presented.


Let's skip Van Dyck, Reynolds and Sargent on the assumption that you're familiar with traditional portraiture in its various guises, and cut straight to Modernism.

"Nude in an Armchair - Fernande Olivier" by Pablo Picasso - 1909
The subject of this early Cubist work is Pacasso's mistress. One would be hard-pressed to identify her in a police lineup if this was your only clue. Still, she's recognizably female.

"Daniel Henry Kahnweiler" by Pablo Picasso - 1910
The following year, Picasso painted Kahnweiler, his dealer at the time. I don't know if this was commissioned or not. The point of showing it is that a viewer ignorant of Kahnweiler's actual appearance would have no idea what the man looked like on the basis of Picasso's "portrait." That last word was in quotes because the work is clearly beyond portraiture as it has been known and continues to be known. Picasso asserted that this is a portrait: some will accept it on his authority, I do not.

"Tadeusz de Lempicka" by Tamara de Lempicka - 1928
Tamara de Lempicka has become known as the archetypical Art Deco painter. This is an unfinished portrait of her first husband (his left hand still needs work). Although stereotyped to 3-D geometrical underpinnings, one has a fairly good idea what Tadeusz looked like.

"The Prisoners Sacco and Vanzetti" by Ben Shahn - 1931-32
Some would call this Expressionist -- after all, Shahn was never shy about expressing his political views. I'd be more inclined to call it a cartoon. Still, cartoons tend to be Expressionist in greater or lesser-diluted form. The subjects, being dead, were in no position to commission this work and influence how naturalistically Shawn might have painted them.

Hmm. Shahn's painting seems curiously like this photo of the two gents. So why did he even bother: to me, the photo seems just as affective as the painting.

"Marilyn Monroe" by Willem De Kooning - 1953
Abstract Expressionism ruled the New York art roost when this was done. Apparently a totally abstract painting of the same title didn't strike the artist as appropriate, so he chose to paint Monroe as abstractly as he thought he could get away with. (N.B. These are my conjectures and are totally independent of whatever De Kooning himself might have claimed. I strongly suspect that most claims by Modernist artists have high B.S. / PR content, by the way.)

"Survivor" by Burton Silverman - 2004
The webmaster is probably getting antsy will all the bytes these illustrations consume, so I'm closing with this recent representational work by Burt Silverman, a favorite artist of mine. He did commercial art for many years and switched to Fine Art when the commercial market tanked. He portays himself following his heart attack recovery. Silverman has been interested in the effects of reflections on windows for some time now (he painted a number of Upper West Side scenes investigating this), and uses reflections here as well. As you can see, Silverman is close to the long-term tradition or portraiture, yet includes some contemporary twists to the genre.

The lesson to be drawn from this is that portraiture, in any reasonable sense, cannot stray very far from representation in the direction of Modernism without becoming something other than portraiture.

For a more comprehensive look at what's happenin' now, check out the winners and runners-up in the 2006 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, National Portrait Gallery (Washington, DC) here. You'll see a range from nearly fine-arts to cartoonish with most having the "edginess" that seems mandatory these days. (Could someone please tell my why the Lucy Fredkin painting even got accepted -- scroll down to view it.)

A different perspective is in the form of the American Society of Portrait Artists' Sargent Medal winners that can be viewed here.

You might also be interested in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters site and John Howard Sanden's World of Portrait Painting site here.



posted by Donald at February 27, 2007


I'm a stupid philistine science nerd, but I really hate nonrepresentational art. Whatever happened to the idea of craftsmanship as seen in the Sistine Chapel or, indeed, the picture of the man on the lawn? Silverman gives you an idea of the man's surroundings and personality through his body language, facial expression, and surroundings. What does looking a crucifix submerged in urine add to my life? (Yes, I know, that's postmodernism.)

Posted by: SFG on February 28, 2007 8:00 AM

Apparently, the more slavishly subservient to photographic accuracy, the better the art.

Without getting into a defense of modernism, I would just point out that some of the greatest representational portraitists in the history of art have taken great liberties with accurate representation. Frans Hals comes to mind. Yes, you can recognize the hoyden, or the drinker, or the member of a guild; but the power of his work is in the sweeping brushstrokes that are not subservient to the visage, that almost pull it apart and sweep it off the canvas but in so doing imbue it with LIFE!

That's the issue. Not accuracy. Life.

Posted by: ricpic on February 28, 2007 10:35 AM

How in the hell would you know if Hals painted something accurately or not? Did you see his model? Of course not.

As far as painterly realism goes, I like that more than the photographic copy, hands down. But modernism is crap.

Isn't it interesting that modernism has little concern with the subject or the viewer? Its all about the artist-me, me, me! What happened to the quest to portray the identity and emotions of the sitter, and convey that to a viewer? Instead, all we get is scribble and stupid pseudo-intellectualism.

The more you know about the "fine art" world, the more you realize that modernism is just an advertising gimmick, with an endless rejection of tradition and an obsession with the odd to create an artist/brand. That's it. It has little to do with the traditional role of the humanities and a lot more to do with modern marketing. That's the key. Once you understand that, you understand it all.

Modernism is an aberration in the road of painting which was brought about by the gallery system of sales, in opposition to the former role of patron/artist. Artists would work as illustrators and potraitists to pay the bills and do some personal work on the side. Artist were put into service.

The modern role of the artist outside of this traditional role is to make a lot of money for the collector/speculator by way of branding and celebrity. It is a disease whose only cure is a return to the past roles of the artist/patron. I wouldn't expect that as long as there is more money to be made through the gallery/brand/celebrity system.

Posted by: BTM on February 28, 2007 11:25 AM

ricpic -- I wasn't talking about representationalism being better art than the alternatives (though in a very broad sense, that's my general take). This post deals with portraiture which, by its nature, is supposed to represent humans and other living creatures in a recognizable way. (If the subject can't be recognized, it's not being portrayed.)

That still leaves plenty of room for artistic expression because painting, by its nature, involves distortions and simplifications from the real world. Further, portraits that include a psychological dimension -- that reaveal something of the character of the sitter that goes beyong surface appearance -- have tended to be more highly regarded than other portraits.

I don't think what I just stated is much removed from the content of your comment apart from its first sentence.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on February 28, 2007 12:15 PM

Lucien Freud has done some amazing portrait work taking a lot of liberty with photo-realism. Probably my favorite modern portrait artist for evoking feeling and humanity out of his subjects, although I'm glad I'm not one of them as many are none too flattering.

For me, paintings, portraiture included, have to have some feeling and evoke some emotion in me. Otherwise, they serve merely a utilitarian purpose, like "this is what the mayor of Boston looks like." And that's fine, too, it's just not art to me. This emotion can come from representational artists like Sergeant or modern artists like Freud, and yes, for me at least, from Picasso, too. The painting of Daniel Henry Kahnweiler that Donald posted above conveys a lot of emotion. Sure, you can't get a feel for what Mr. Kahnweiler looks like in life, but is that the main point of painting? For some, maybe it is, and that's fine. I just need something else.

And this gets back to something that Chris White, a frequent commenter here, said about people who enjoy non-representational art not having a problem with representational art and in many cases, enjoying both. I'm in that camp.

To those who don't like non-representational art, what is you don't like? Is it that you get nothing from it, no emotion other that frustration or anger or just ambivalence? I don't see how one couldn't feel the urgency and perhaps animosity in the 2nd Picasso painting in this post. But that's why art appreciation is so subjective, I guess.

Posted by: the patriarch on February 28, 2007 12:38 PM

What's so great about Picasso? If you look at his picture in this thread, I can't see any emotion whatsoever. Its visually kind of interesting and gimmicky. But it looks pretty cold to me. What's so great about painting a small spot on your canvas, then moving your easel to a different spot, painting another small piece, and then moving again, and so on and so on? We have sculpture for that, and sculpture that's a hell of a lot better than a cubist painting to boot. Picasso understood the system and created a succession of gimmicky techniques to draw attention to himself. That's what he was best at.

I have question for modern art lovers too. Why are the rest of us supposed to buy into the idea that gimmickry and the depiction of the grotesque, bizarre, and negative are just as artistic as the great masters?

Art implies mastery. For the life of me I can't understand how these con artists, who were intent on coming up with one gimmick after another, ever mastered anything. Their work is just a compilation of gimmicks and experiments that, unlike any other field of experimentation, never failed! Just one "masterpiece" after another! What "geniuses", to only create "masterpieces", and never fail! Its all a load of marketing BS by galleries and critics who want to believe they have golden eye, and are more intelligent than the lonely, derivative theorists and hangers-on they actually are.

I like it, it stirs a lot of emotion in me! So what? That's a pretty idiosycratic standard, don't you think? I'm sure that your spouse, kids, family and friends do too, but those people have little significance outside of your own small slice of life. Are we really supposed to believe these people who you have emotions for are on the same level as great scientists, statesmen, etc.? They have families and friends too. There are just things that are more widely important than others. This gets back to the idea that a great painting or any form of art should have some consensus view behind it. Modernism lacks any sort of popular support, so it has cloaked its failure in many ways, one being the appeal to idiosycratic tastes. Then it boldy proclaims its place beside works which have far more universal appeal as equals. Its just ridiculous.

You can like whatever you like. Nobody's stopping you. But please refrain from calling this junk art or masterful. It is neither. It has no widespread appeal, lacks technical ability and control, focuses on the ugly and bizarre, and generally lacks any redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Its not the job of us traditionalists to justify our views of what we like or why we like it. That's playing into the idiosycratic game. Its our job to uphold high standards, especially in regard to the popular culture and institutions which receive subsidy and special status (tax-exempt museums, universities, charitable foundations, etc) and which are disseminators of such culture.

I don't understand why the general population should be made to subsidize this junk if we don't like it, just because some rich idiots bought into advertising gimmicks. I don't understand why we have to continually lower our standards, and if we don't, we are accused of being bigots, ignoramuses, and closed mided. Its as if we are some sort of evil fiends for trying to oppose the atomizing of western culure.

But I guess a list would be better. Here's what modern art generally lacks (either alone or in combination):

1) Good color, understanding of color compostion
2) Good drawing
3) Good values (light and dark compostion)
4) Good edges (transitions between color shapes)
5) Some sort of realistic depiction of the subject, so the VIEWER can relate to it
6) Good overall composition which would lead the VIEWER'S eye through a picture
7) Good depiction of emotion of the SUBJECT
8) Good depiction of emotion of the artist
9) Good understanding of the emotion and desires of the VIEWER

Plus the overall addiction to gimmicks, politics, pseudo-intellectualism, and trends to try to make a name for themselves as "artists". Lack of fidelity to the subject, lack of concern and interest in the viewer. The argument I'll get is that the artist should just "express himself". To that I sould say, if what he expresses is so odd and out of the ordinary that viewers can't relate, the artist is probably just an oddball weirdo that doesn't deserve my atention anyway. Next will come the political argument, that art is supposed to "stir things up". To that I'll just say that you can stir things up far more by going to the ballot box than painting a painting. No painting has ever changed anything. Now, let's get back to good painting.

Posted by: BTM on February 28, 2007 2:06 PM

"I have question for modern art lovers too. Why are the rest of us supposed to buy into the idea that gimmickry and the depiction of the grotesque, bizarre, and negative are just as artistic as the great masters?"

You don't. My question to you is why are you so bent out of shape by people liking modern art? I don't care much that you and many others don't like it, but it doesn't bother me, either. Many people feel that modern artists like Picasso are just as artistic and have made as much a contribution to art as the Old Masters. Time will tell, I guess. Some of the old greats were not so appreciated during their lifetimes, so we all are probably way off in our estimations of what is or isn't "great" about today's art.

"Art implies mastery."

Technical mastery? Sure, much great art is technically impressive. But for me, the more important component in art is emotion. Does it elicit an emotion in me, does it cause me to reflect or see something familiar in a new way, etc. Could be any number of emotions. All kinds of art have had that effect on me, and conversely, all kinds of art I've gotten nothing from, from photo-realism to total abstraction. Why compartmentalize? If you honestly get nothing from modern art, fine. But to say it's empirically crap is to invalidate what I get from some of it. I can't control the way I'm effected by the art I like and dislike, any more than you can.

"Their work is just a compilation of gimmicks and experiments that, unlike any other field of experimentation, never failed! Just one "masterpiece" after another! What "geniuses", to only create "masterpieces", and never fail!"

To stick with the Picasso example, that dude created countless amounts of artworks, much of it crap. The ones you keep seeing are the ones that lots of people like.

The rest of your latest comment is a litany of all the usual gripes that come from people who prefer representational art and dislike other forms. I'll just say that your assertion that modernism is just some wacky niche that only turtleneck-wearing assholes like is a load of crap. It's main innovations, namely the deconstruction of form, has been HUGELY influential during the 20th and into the 21st centuries.

Posted by: the patriarch on February 28, 2007 3:34 PM

"I don't understand why the general population should be made to subsidize this junk if we don't like it, just because some rich idiots bought into advertising gimmicks."

How are we subsidizing it? Museums? Should we cut off public funding for them? Or maybe a line item approval system of each piece of art. And who should be on that committee? Ridiculous. I'm sure you can find as many things that you like as dislike in just about any publically funded museum, so are you advocating to only fund things you like? Does it pain you that much to come across something you dislike?

Posted by: the patriarch on February 28, 2007 3:40 PM

Yes, we should cut off all public funding for the museums, as well as remove their tax exempt status. I can't figure out why the MOMA shouldn't pay taxes on its receipts but Random House or Bantam should. Give me a good argument as to why that should be. Also, cut public money off for the arts. Show me one great masterpiece that was the result of the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of government spending. They all did just fine without governmental funding. There were plenty of museums funded by private money before the government arrived on the scene in the 60's. Its been a one-way slide downhill since. I don't see why they should be priveledged over any other enterprise.

Your comment about modern art being for turtleneck-wearing assholes is dead on. I would also add ratty t-shirt wearing pseudo- intellectuals who managed to take a college course on art appreciation. The main feeling they get from modern art is a feeling of superiority.

I don't really care about personal responses. People have all kinds of weird personal responses. What the thread is about is that portraiture should be a description of the SUBJECT, recognizable as a SPECIFIC PERSON. And since modernism is obsessed with technical gimmickry and the celebrity of the artist, they IGNORE THAT, showing their complete incompetence and total disregard for their subject and their audience, and instead wallowing in their own egocentrism.

Just becaue modern art has been "hugely" influential doesn't mean its been good. Read that sentence again.

Why should the public be forced to subsidize the ugly, the profane, the gimmicky, and the bizarre?

I could say the same thing about all the usual reponses you gave defending modernism. It has been a cancer in music, art, architecture, literature, education, etc. How people can defend it I have no idea.

Posted by: BTM on February 28, 2007 6:26 PM

"Show me one great masterpiece that was the result of the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of government spending."

The Sistine Chapel (adjusted for inflation, of course), commissioned by the Pope and funded by the church, which back then was basically the government.

"What the thread is about is that portraiture should be a description of the SUBJECT, recognizable as a SPECIFIC PERSON."

Says who? If someone commissions a portrait and they want an accurate physical representation, than they should get that. Beyond that, I can't see why an artist should be bound by some narrow definition of "portraiture." Is the problem you have with paintings of people that are not representational based on the fact that they may be called "portraits?" I'm thinking your apparent need for art to be clearly categorized is limiting your capacity to recognize the value in some modern paintings.

"I don't really care about personal responses. People have all kinds of weird personal responses."

I totally agree. Your need to categorize art and your dismissal of modern art as a whole is entirely weird to me, and I'm not trying to be clever here. I don't understand it, but there it is. It's what you like. Can't change that.

Posted by: the patriarch on February 28, 2007 7:11 PM

Right, the artist shouldn't be bound to any sort of standard. No standards. That works great.

You know, my observation is that most of the modern art aficianados I've met are just literary people, half-assed writers and whatnot. Its funny that the visual arts should have no standards or objective criteria, but boy o boy, don't pull that shit on the writing aficianados! Here's nice sample of modern art applied to writing:

ssdfghjkl;';liuyttyjikjbhgnm,l;poi dfghyu5redcfvbnm,.;luytreesazxcvbnm,.mnbbhjirtyuik rtyuik bv c 78ikj h cvbnmjhtrwsdfgthyhuioiiuytrdcvbhnjklm b rdcvkjjh dc vbnm!!!???!!! 1!@#$%^&*()(

There you go! Isn't that great writing! Its just genius! Its genius because some people think so! I think its just as good as the Gettysburg Address of Shakespeare! I don't know why people are so anal as to think that non-objective, shitty writing is, well, shitty writing. Its not, its magical and progressive! And if you don't think so, you're just an uptight, backward dumbass! Stop trying to limit the great genius writers with your anal obsession with grammar, spelling, punctuation, plot, character development, etc.

Degas once described critics, whom he hated, as "unattached writers", and he thought they were absolutely dangerous to the arts. He was 100% correct.

Modern art is garbage. A little bit of "art education" (modern art propaganda) is a dangerous thing. Thanks for ignoring what I had to say and proving that observation correct.

Posted by: BTM on March 1, 2007 12:23 AM

P.S. I was talking about the masterpieces created by our American government funding of the arts. Your inability to come up with a single example just proves my point. Also, no response to why the MOMA should not be subject to the same sort of taxation as any major publishing house. It shouldn't be. In fact, it really is a for-profit institution. Not only are the modernists just mercenaries, they are tax cheats too.

Posted by: BTM on March 1, 2007 12:33 AM

Ah, another pitched battle in the War of False Dichotomies. Once more into the fray!!!

When considering portraiture there are a number of factors to investigate. Are we talking about a commissioned portrait? In this situation the portrait painter (or sculptor) is hired to create a work that represents the sitter in a manner presumably chosen by the sitter by virtue of their choice of portraitist. Where in the fluid continuum between various poles such as stylization versus exactitude, high art versus kitsch, the particular result falls can be infinitely variable. In Sargent's day he was much sought after by well to do members of society; he presented the sitters in a particular way that pleased them and impressed others by virtue of the artist's standing. Jump forward a half a century and Warhol provided commissioned portraits for a similarly well-heeled clientele, one with a very different aesthetic, but the result is fundamentally identical ... the clients got what they wanted from an artist (including some reflection of or transference to themselves of the artist's prestige) and the results have entered museums and art history books.

Then there are artists who wish to paint portraits for their own aesthetic reasons. They may hire sitters whose role is thus reduced to being a model for hire. Or their subjects may be among the artist's family and friends. This brings us back to Picasso or Van Gogh or such currently working artists as Brett Bigbee, Chuck Close, and Jamie Wyeth. In these cases the artist is attempting first and foremost to make a work of art, however closely or distantly the art objects they create portray the exact physical appearance or innermost being of their sitters is again infinitely variable.

If you are a CEO paying an artist to paint a portrait of you to hang in the company boardroom, you will probably find a subservient, but talented, craftsman who will take thirty pounds and a dozen years off of you in his depiction. It may be hyper realistic or have Sargent-esque Impressionist leanings. Perhaps some signifiers to indicate your wealth and status will be put into the background. If you're a major art collector you might instead seek out David Hockney (or even Lucien Freud) and attempt to convince one of them to do one for you, but if they do, don't expect to dictate how you're going to look.

In short, in portraits, as in all art, there are a diversity of overlapping aesthetics and approaches. Some produce great art, others produce great likenesses, some manage both. At the end of the day, I'll favor art over accuracy, but that's me.

Why this becomes an opportunity to attack (yet again) modernism, is a bit perplexing, but it is par for the course around here. Among the various red herring scattered through the comments thread I particularly get a chuckle from the way certain posters (you know who you are) take the position that, because they do not like/understand/appreciate a certain type of art then (a) that must be the opinion of the vast majority and (b) anyone who disagrees is stupid, brainwashed or cynically benefiting from a scam, therefore no support of any kind (especially financial support through grants) for such art should be allowed.

Asking for examples of great art produced through government programs is a daunting task. Most arts funding goes for exhibitions and other institutional support, not commissioning art objects. There are "percent for art" funds for this purpose and, depending on the agency involved and whether it is local, state or national, you can have very conservative or very avant garde biases and tendencies at work. It would take a lot of digging, but I stronly suspect there has been art funded this way that even those among you who would prefer we repeal the 20th century (or even the last three centuries) would enjoy and appreciate.

All in all, a lively discussion, but as always much of the commentary rests on a combination of false dichotomies and elevating one's personal taste to an absolute. I'll resist the urge to point out the numerous factual and conceptual errors in BTM's many "zingers" except to say that BTM seems to exemplify many the negative traits he (or she) would have us believe are the mark of modernists.

Posted by: Chris White on March 1, 2007 10:53 AM

Talk about a false dichotomy! How about substituting a market transaction when the discussion is about quality, standards, and widespread, rather than individual, appeal.

Posted by: BTM on March 1, 2007 5:12 PM


First of all, people who like modern art have ideas about quality and standards too; they do not uncritically love every abstract painting they see, and they have reasons for liking what they do and disliking what they don't. In your list you claim that modern art lacks "good" understanding of color composition, "good" drawing, etc.; but of course many people who share your assessment of the art you like would also say that the art you like actually does have those things. You confuse your personal taste with immutable, objective standards; in fact no one has ever agreed entirely about what makes art great. That isn't to say that discussing it can't be valuable, but if you start from the premise that anyone who disagrees substantially with you isn't interested in art and is arguing in bad faith, it certainly won't be. In no particular order, I want to address a few things you've said.

1) The idea that widespread appreciation indicates quality is pretty obviously false. Call me an elitist if you will, but if you believe that widespread appeal makes something great, you are compelled to accept a lot of American pop culture rubbish as great art. I think you probably realize this so I won't dwell on it.

2) I don't understand your offhand dismissal of non-representational art. We surround ourselves, after all, with visual decoration that doesn't represent anything--designs on a Persian rug, the arrangement of a tile floor, patterns on clothing--because these things make our surroundings more attractive to us. It's pretty obvious that people respond directly to color, shape, and line. Now, you could argue that the interest of these abstractions is so limited that it can necessarily never transcend mere decoration, but that is quite different from the argument you have been making--that abstraction is inherently alienating and unintelligible. I think once you are open to the idea that the elements of painting are interesting in and of themselves, you can be more receptive to abstract painting.

3) To approach this another way, consider music--which I know a lot more about than art. Music isn't expected to represent anything outside of itself; all music is, in a sense, abstract, but no one has ever denied its ability to be art. I really just don't understand why representation is so important.

4) You seem unwilling to concede that art might have different aims and operate through different visual languages; you would like all art to basically try to do the same thing in the same way. I'm not sure, for example, how a lot highly stylized medieval art would fit into your scheme; it has pretty much nothing aesthetically in common with Sargent, say, but I find it nonetheless beautiful and moving. Do you? What about classical Chinese art (some of which verges on abstraction)? It's not that these different strands of art are totally alien from one another, but they have distinctly different concerns and address them in distinctly different ways. What I'm trying to say is that when you approach a piece of art, you seem to evaluate it according to how much its aims and methods resemble those of art you already like, and this is not a good approach. Why not try sincerely to understand the aims and methods of each piece of art? If you decide you still don't like it, great, but why dismiss it right off the bat?

Posted by: bop on March 1, 2007 6:51 PM

second sentence should read: In your list you claim that modern art lacks "good" understanding of color composition, "good" drawing, etc.; but of course many people who share your assessment of the art you like would also say that the art you HATE actually does have those things.

Posted by: bop on March 1, 2007 10:49 PM


I hear the same argument all the time. When I ask for objective standards of quality, modern art lovers refuse and move to the subjective. When I talk about how so many people individually find modern art repulsive, I.e. make a subjecive argument, modern art lovers talk about how much money people spend on it, how the intellectual classes like it, how influential it is--in other words, they try to make an objective argument. Never once do they show how qualitiatively it excels and should be considered the equal of the representational masterpieces of the past. Yet they claim equal status, government funding, and do what they can to censor representational art in museums, universities, juried contests, and exhibitions.

I never argued that great art should be determined solely by the masses. But I don't think the the masses should be shut out either, especially when their tax money is involved which subsidizes museums, universities, primary and secondary schools, etc. I think there should be a widespread consensus. And I bet that, contrary to your assertion, you would find a lot more unanimity in the type of painting that is chosen than you think.

Music is a bad analogy because music is abstract. Just think what a spectacular failure non-abstract John-Cage-like music is, with its breaking glass, blowing wind sounds, etc. Visual art is naturally non-abstract. Making it abstract is just as much a perversion as making music non-abstract. Think about that. Also, I have no problem with abstraction as it relates to decoration. I do have a problem with abstraction as it relates to telling the human story. I find it ridiculously inferior. I don't see why some people put it on the same plane as great representational painting.

I think the example of modern art as it applies to writing in the post above is dead on. Most of the support for modern visual art comes from writers and intellecuals who are far more comfortable seeing some other form of art deconstructed for the alleviation of their intellectual boredom than seeing modernism and abstraction applied to their beloved written language. When language is deconstructed, you see just how silly modernism really is. I take visual language seriously as I draw and paint a lot. I find its deconstruction painful and senseless, just like the writers and intellectuals would if their language were attacked. If people like me won't defend visual language, who will?

And last, why wouldn't I defend my own preferences? That's normal and healthy. I never argued that modern painting should be banned, just called the junk it is. Then other posters asked me why I thought that way, and when I responded, the lovers of individual preferences told me that I was wrong to have my individual preferences! I can't call modern art junk! Its the same crowd that's censoring free speech everywhere too. They're all for individual choice as long as they can dictate what everybody's choices are. I just think that the spending of public money should take into consideration public taste. But oh no, no, the pseudo-intellectual elite should only be entrusted with that overwhelming responsibility!

And that a portrait should actually look like the subject. The real world isn't beautiful or varied enough. It needs the helping hand of the political and philosophical margins with an axe to grind. And the nutjobs looking to make a name for themselves with gimmicks. Pardon me if I disagree.

Posted by: BTM on March 2, 2007 1:14 AM


Hmm, you don't accept objective arguments in support modern art (auction prices, works in major museum collections, serious books written about it, etc.) AND you don't accept subjective arguments (the number of people who like it, artists who find it inspiring, etc.) yet you demand proof positive that it be shown 'equal to the representational masterpieces of the past'. Sounds to me like you have absolutely no interest in actually exploring the issue with anything apporaching an open mind, just winning the debate. Still, I can use the mental exercise so I'll keep up my end.

It is extremely rare to find a modernist who opposes or condemns the art of the past, or even excellent art of the present that comes from a different aesthetic. Why do you feel compelled to make war on modernism? As for how THEY (whoever 'they' are supposed to be) "censor representational art..." I guess you don't make it out to the museums, universities, juried contests, and exhibitions very often, do you? For the past twenty years abstract paintings have been at least as rare as neo-neo-classical allegory paintings in those venues.

Regarding the role of "the masses" in determining aesthetics, I wonder why you think they are shut out. Take museums, while ticket sales per se are usually not the major source of funds at most museums, those revenues are often critical to a museum's survival, both in themselves and in making the institution attractive to private and corporate donors. Grant support from both private foundations and public funding sources are usually pegged in part to attendance levels, so museums mount "blockbusters" to bring in as many visitors as possible. King Tut, Lenny da Vinci, Vinny Van Gogh and Jack "The Dripper" Pollock are all blockbuster names. The public is also essentially the marketplace; if enough people buy a given artist's works or a certain type of art the price goes up, then the critics and museums take notice.

Want to try explaining your point again about music, visual art, abstraction and representation. Why is music SUPPOSED to be 'abstract' and visual art 'representational'? It seems we're tap dancing (is tap dancing supposed to be abstract or representational?) around issues pertaining to art that is content driven or has literary aspirations on one side and art with experiential goals on the other. Music absent lyrics or libretto might still be programmatic with audio cues referencing the real world (tympani as thunder, harmonica as chugging train, etc.) or it might be purely experiential on its own terms without any intentional references.

As for !@#$%^&*( equals modernism applied to writing, I don't buy it. The entire premise is based on a fallacy. Namely, your presumption that abstract visual artists are cynical frauds tossing paint with absolutely no skill just to make a product they can foist off as "art" to well heeled rubes. From this a modernist writer need only pound on the keyboard until a sufficient number of pages has been reached and proclaim it a masterpiece. If you want to argue modernism in writing let's start with a more appropriate quote:

" and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
Molly Bloom's Soliloquy, closing words of James Joyce's Ulysses"

As for how public monies get spent on the arts, I really think you need to do more research into the various ways that happens. Actual purchase of art objects by public funds is mostly through various "percent for art" programs. These virtually all have selection committees drawn from the local community and project stakeholders (e.g. the principal if the project is to be for a new school) as well as any "peer professionals" whom you might deem 'tainted' by virtue of their very expertise. In other words the spending of public money DOES take into consideration public taste.

Finally, speaking only for myself and not all 'modernists', it is not your support of art you like that is problematic, that is admirable; rather it is your insistence on attacking art you don't like and don't understand using patently false arguments that is troubling.

Posted by: Chris White on March 2, 2007 12:50 PM

"It is extremely rare to find a modernist who opposes or condemns the art of the past"--Bullshit! A lot of them do! Most universities don't even teach representational drawing! All they do is insult and downgrade the late nineteenth century representational painters. Who do you think you're kidding?

Any number of museums have been selling off representational artwork in their collections and buying modern junk. If you go the the Art Institute of Chicago, they keep all the european painting on the second floor, placed in chronological order, from the medieval era to the present, finally culminating in--ta da!--modern garbage. The Sargents, Beauxs, Homers, Eakins, Henris, Bellows, etc. are kept in an offshoot gallery on the first floor, separated from other ninteenth and 20th century work and placed along with the furniture collection and classified as "decorative art". Don't BS me and tell me that modernists aren't trying to censor.

I will repeat once again that the public hates modern art garbage but is forced to pay for it with their tax money and the granting of tax-exempt status to de facto for-profit modern art institutions.

My point about music being by nature abstract and visual arts being by nature literal was dead on. Modern art garbage is a cynical fraud and my analogy to gibberish in writing was also dead on. You just bought into the propaganda at an early age and can't believe that what you decided to spend your time on is indeed decrepit and worthless. Too bad for you.

More BS about how public art money is spent. The modernists stack themsleves and their cronies on these committtees and shovel public money to their friends or those who buy into their philosophy and assiduously shut others out. Bullshit again that it takes into consideration public taste. Most pubic modern art garbage is laughed at and people can't believe that tax money was spent on it. But they just let it go, and treat it like all the other money that the government wastes.

What part of the Joyce quote is abstract? You can't even get that right.

Quoting auction records or the opinions of pseudo-intellectuals does not comprise a QUALITATIVE ARGUMENT. Modern art proponents run like hell from QUALITATIVE ARGUMENTS because they can't win them. Modern art is so vastly inferior to the art of the past that it cannot be compared to it directly. New standards "have to be developed" that have nothing to do with quality. That's why they hide the 20th century representational art in the basement, and don't hang it side by side with the modern garbage pile. Because it would show that good painting never died, that modern junk is truly junk when directly compared to good painting, and that modern painting was never the logical development and culmination of the european tradition, but a fetid, oozing gangrened limb desperately in need of amputation. It would show the madmen to be madmen. Thus the censorship.

Posted by: BTM on March 2, 2007 4:05 PM

Dude, you spout off about arts funding as if you had first-hand experience in it. Do you? Mr. White does, and I know that immediately disqualifies him as a reliable source in your world, but I'm more inclined to listen to someone with experience in a given subject. I'm not talking about taking his word for what's good or bad art, I'm talking about perhaps listening to him about a very concrete subject with which he has experience in such as arts funding.

Beyond that, your insistence that anyone who enjoys modern art has merely fallen for a ruse is ridiculous. You don't like modern art. We get it. I despise Kincade and can mention very specific reasons why, yet many people seem to like him, so there must be something he's doing right that I simply don't respond to. So how can I state empirically that his stuff isn't art or that it's crap? "I don't like it" is as far as I can go. In reverse, despite your repeated assertions that "the public" doesn't like it, many, many people enjoy modern art. Not some lunatic fringe, but vast numbers of people from all stations in life. I'm baffled that you feel satisfied to simply write them off as fools and the art they enjoy as empirically bad.

Posted by: the patriarch on March 2, 2007 6:05 PM

Almost every abstract painter, heck almost every serious painter of any type I've ever known, thinks about, talks about and is generally obsessed with QUALITY in art. The few that don't are generally obsessed with the art market. That said, the discussions among abstract painters about what qualifies as QUALITY painting vary from those of "modern" landscape painters, whose ideas can be quite different from "traditional" landscape painters ... and so it goes. The same can be said for most collectors and many dealers as well.

When discussing art it is virtually impossible to discuss QUALITY absent specificity. If you gave me a list of attributes that made for a great athlete ... speed, power, endurance, good muscle to mass ratio, etc. ... then said you knew there was an opening with a local team and offered no more specifics and I suggested Nadia Comaneci or Payton Manning to become the new pitcher for the Cubs, what does that prove? Does it prove Nadia and Payton are not great athletes?

If someone could come up with a set of objective measurements to define and identify QUALITY in art, we could all create masterpieces in our spare time. Or have Bill Gates' programmers write code so all we need to do is push the button. It just doesn't work that way.

I've worked with collectors who own both abstract paintings and representational paintings from different eras. One has a particularly good eye for exuberant, yet finely nuanced, use of bold color. This somewhat unifies his collection. He hangs works in the offices of a company he owns. With a mix of very traditional work, folk art pieces, "modernist" landscape and still life painting along with abstract paintings available, the employees are able to choose works for their office areas. Over the 12-15 years this program has been in place, the artists whose works are in the greatest demand and get most favorable comments from employees include a couple of abstract painters, a regional landscape painter whose works might best be termed "modernist" and another landscape painter whose initial success was as an abstract painter and whose landscapes are therefore highly abstracted. One person choose an early twentieth century watercolor landscape that merely hints at the influence of Impressionism and an abstract work that falls between painting, sculpture and collage. They look great together, by the way. In short, my experience with the general public says there is no a priori negative view of abstraction, merely a lack personal experience with it.

I already hear your possible responses: (a) they actually hate the stuff but are sucking up to the owner HA!! Boy, if you only knew how wrong (a) was. I've heard those who don't like something tell the owner so in no uncertain terms. It's a running gag. Tastes there are diverse. It is just that there is no universal dislike for abstraction evidenced.

(b) my anecdotes are tainted (although your own are not, of course) and again I say, HA!!

Posted by: Chris White on March 2, 2007 8:43 PM

If either one of you guys really think large numbers of people like modern art, you live in a dream world. You might mean large numbers of people you know, but believe me, those aren't regular people.

I think you are more inclined to listen to Mr. White beacause you agree with him. And yes, I know plenty about public art funding. Mr. White just doesn't want to fess up about how its works because it favors his style of painter, that's all.

Sorry, Mr. White. I know lots of painters who are obsessed with quality in art. That doesn't mean they paint well. And that's not even taking into consideration the argument involved in what constitutes quality. As far as I'm concerned, everything in painting counts, from good technique, to good composition, emotion, and compelling subject matter.

Of course you can discuss quality with specificity! You just averred to it in your first paragraph--you know, that ALL THE ARTISTS YOU KNOW OBSESS OVER QUALITY. They know what quality is--they have to! They know specifically what makes it up, because THAT'S HOW THEY KNOW WHAT TO SHOOT FOR OR WHAT TO IMPROVE ON. That's their target, for chrissakes! Self evaluation and peer critiques go on all the time. I myself am a member of such a group. We go to each other for honesty, real constructive criticism, and not the blathering BS we hear from others who might be unwilling to tell the truth because they might "hurt the poor artist's feelings". We all know who paints well and who doesn't, because we were all trained in the visual language, we know the ins and outs, and not just acting like we do. We've spent years painting and looked at many thousands of paintings because we love good painting.

Coming up with an objective standard for good painting isn't difficult, nor is it rigid. Technical excellence is one standard. Fidelity to nature is another. This was not even an argument prior to the rise of the modern nightmare. It was taken for granted that understanding visual languange meant a fluency in rendering nature, because we live in the natural world. That never meant that nature could not be stylized or approximated, but that it had to be rendered faithfully enough to be read by the observer. That's the means of communication in visual art--not artist's statements, critical reviews, and gallery sales propaganda.

You can talk over and over again about your feelings for one specific modern painting or another. That makes absolutely no difference to me at all. The whole point I was making was that modern art IN COMPARISON to the great realistic art of the past and present is grossly inferior in quality, and is held so by the vast majority of people, both educated and uneducated. Both of you know damn well that is exaclty what the argument is about, and what it has always been about. And since the vast majority of people expect technical excellence in what they deem art, and refuse to lower their standards to the level of the modern basement, you guys refuse to use technical excellence as a standard. One excuse follows another. "Gee whiz, if only there were some sort of objective standard" (we could start with technical excellence guys), "but alas, Microsoft (cold, hard quantative types) haven't invented one." Why do you ignore the views of the past, Mr. White? You think Picasso is a master? Please tell us how Picasso is the qualitative equal of Rembrandt. You must know, you lump them together, so YOU MUST HAVE SOME SORT OF OBJECTVE QUALITATIVE STANDARD TO DO SO, don't you? Maybe they both cost a lot? Are you and accountatnt or an art lover?

As to your example of the collector, its easy to respond. Give the employees the choice beyond the limited range of the owner's collection, from the renaissance, to the baroque, to impressionism, to the late ninetheenth and twentieth century. Then see what they choose! If people are fond of modenism once they are propagandized to "get it", it should be easy to educate them about all the great realistic painting they are missing, don't you think? Somehow, the owner doesn't feel the need, being such a wonderful guy, to do that for his employees. He'd rather push his tastes on them instead. Only in his case, since he agrees with you, he's not an anal academician like me. Hardly proof of anything.

I'm just going to repeat this one last time. I am not making an argument that modern junk should not be created, that it should be banned or censored, or that the artist should be jailed. I am just calling modern art worthless shit, that's all. It gets you upset because you happen to like what most people think is worthless shit. You can talk all you want about the feelings you get looking at specific pieces of worthless shit, I don't care about your feelings. What I care about is that this worthless shit is called masterful and given the same status as a Rembrandt or El Greco, but is never qualitatively compared to the two, and when the majority points out this deficiency in the worthless piece of modern shit, they are told that they are ignoramuses and that the particluar worthless piece of shit in question costs a lot, so give us your grant money and tax exemption and leave us alone. Oh yeah, and give us total control of the public schools to propagandize for our worthless shit. Now, go put some suntan on your neck, dumbass. We're smarter than you.

Posted by: BTM on March 3, 2007 1:05 AM

Back at ya, BTM-

Ahh, slipped into your last comment I find the source of all this pent up rage. "Self evaluation and peer critiques go on all the time. I myself am a member of such a group. ... We've spent years painting and looked at many thousands of paintings because we love good painting. " You are a painter, presumably one whose goals are primarily "technical excellence and fidelity to nature." Good for you. I'd be interested in seeing your work sometime. There is a very good chance I'd like and appreciate your paintings. I'd certainly understand where they are coming from.

I strongly suspect that you or members of your group have submitted works to and perhaps been rejected by a variety of invitational juried exhibitions or grants. If this has been the case, inevitably the works or artists that DID get into the shows or receive the grants included works you found distasteful. Or perhaps your group dominates one local organization, but the nearest major institution ignores you. Suddenly it all makes sense. In fact, I've heard it all before from other artists. Boy, you should hear abstract painters bitch about the Whitney. In any case, what we have here is sour grapes.

This fall I worked with a plein air painter whose goal for the past fifteen years has been to re-discover the technical attributes of artists like Church and Bierstadt. He went to art school at the height of the "do your own thing" era and can singe your hair with his fiery denunciation of art schools. So can I, but not always for the exact same set of reasons. We have had great discussions about Quality's qualities. We agree on some things and disagree on some others, but with good humor and mutual respect. He doesn't need to label everything he doesn't like as 'worthless shit'.

As suspected, you reject my anecdotal examples (used to show that many "regular citizens" can and do respond favorably to abstraction) as tainted, but continue to insist that your own anecdotal evidence proves otherwise. It would be useless to ask, for example, why all those tourists go to MOMA each year if they hate what they're going to see there. It would also, I'm sure, be useless to note (as I thought I did originally) that the employees at the collector's company DO have examples of traditional work among those from which they can choose. And some do. That they don't have works by Titan, Rembrandt and the rest of the canon of greats among their choices doesn't make their choices any less valid.

Just to return for a moment to the issue of portraiture, as I said in my original comment, " in portraits, as in all art, there are a diversity of overlapping aesthetics and approaches. Some produce great art, others produce great likenesses, some manage both." Certainly, if I wanted to have a portrait painted I'd be inclined to seek out an artist I consider to be an excellent painter who does at least some portraits. My own taste is such that I doubt, however, I'd choose an artist for whom technical facility and tight realism are paramount concerns. I generally find that type of portrait painting cold. The artists I can think of who manage both tight fidelity to reality AND that ineffable spark of inspired genius (e.g. Jamie Wyeth, Brett Bigbee, Chuck Close) are WAY past my price range.

Posted by: Chris White on March 3, 2007 9:05 AM

I never read the last post you made Mr. White, but the part about me or any of the other people that I paint with being rejected from shows is quite false. Actually, I've never entered a juried show, and the only ones I might want to enter are realist painting shows. I'm quite happy to see good realist painting by whoever does it. As far as the other members in the group, some are routinely accepted to juried national shows. We are all pretty good painters. You seem desperate to make me look bad. You still have never really addressed any of my arguments, but substituted some kind of personal animus. That's kind of pathetic, don't you think?

Realist painting shows don't have grants, just prizes, at least any of the ones I've ever seen. So jealousy is not a motive. Love of good painting and not modern junk is. I don't even look at modern junk, because there is so much good realist painting and I am busy trying to get my own work done. What modern work I have seen is indicative of mental illness, so why look at more? They're obviously are on the wrong path, and about 99% of the rest of the world agrees with that assessment too. You'll notice that I didn't have to create some sort off false tale of your supposed loserdom to make that point either.

BTW, I thought Chuck Close just copied photos, only bigger and with a sort of goofy pixelated technique. How warm and inviting that is!

I know this is a dead thread, but I didn't see the last post. I thought I might respond to the silly response of Mr. White, who has again shown that he has no argument, just as the emperor has no clothes.

Posted by: BTM on March 8, 2007 12:22 AM

In your posts you've offered the following:

Modernism is an aberration in the road of painting.

It's all a load of marketing BS by galleries and critics.

It has no widespread appeal, lacks technical ability and control, focuses on the ugly and bizarre, and generally lacks any redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Coming up with an objective standard for good painting isn't difficult, nor is it rigid. Technical excellence is one standard. Fidelity to nature is another.

Modern art is garbage.

I am just calling modern art worthless shit, that's all.

For over a century large numbers of artists have been exploring modernism and show no signs of stopping; that's a pretty long "aberration."

Every gallery does its best to market the art they show; critics like what they like. There are galleries and critics that specialize in a nearly infinite variety of styles and types of art. If modernism has been successful in the marketplace doesn't that argue it has a widespread appeal? And the diverse styles shown each month in the major art magazines argues that realism gets plenty of coverage and support as well, arguing against an anti-realist conspiracy.

You offer a supposedly "objective standard for good painting" that begins with "technical excellence" virtually defined by the ability to faithfully depict nature. As this definition precludes abstraction out of hand and ignores the technical innovations and talents of abstract painters, I say it is hardly an "objective" definition.

If there are juried shows to which you can submit that feature or limit themselves to realism, doesn't that also contradict your assertion of a rigid blacklist against realists by juried shows? As for suggesting I'm trying to make you look bad by supposing that you've entered and been reject in shows, perish the thought! Among the artists I've known, regardless of their style, the ones who do enter juried competitions nearly all deal with some level of rejection. Quite a few become cynical about the process.

You keep coming back to the notion that somehow grant money is flowing to abstract artists like they were hedge fund managers. I will simply ask you to do the following; contact your state arts agency, find out what art objects have been purchased through their percent for arts program in the past five years. Let me know if this supports your contentions. I wager that it will not.

Among the epithets you've tossed at art you don't like are "pathetic" "garbage" and "shit." In my general direction you've lobbed "dumbass" and "loser" along with other less than collegial terms. I hope you'll understand if I note that I find your opinions reactionary and narrow.

Posted by: Chris White on March 8, 2007 7:58 PM

I never once characterized you as a dumbass or loser. You again distort and lie. Read the posts. I said that's what modernists think of people who don't agree with them. I also said that modernists blacklist realists from their positions in museums, schools, and shows. I never said that realists blacklisted each other--of course we have shows together!

Just because there are a lot of people who follow a trend, even for a long time, doesn't mean the trend is good. Lots of painters don't like the limits of painting, and the hard work it takes to learn it well. Its much easier to write an artist's statement than to learn how to paint. The appeal of modernism is that you don't have to learn how to paint well--all you have to do is come up with a gimmick, and then work on your sales technique. That's a lot easier, believe me!

Oh, and one last thing--modern art isn't adding anything to technique, its only subtracting from it. What's more abstract--blobs of paint that can be made to look like a thoughtful face, a blue, blue sky, or the rollling waves of the ocean, or a blob of paint that's made to look like only a blob of paint? Modern art is subtractive and atomizing, not constructive and additive. The only thing added to the painting world by modern art is artist's statements. And the last time I checked, not one of those were painted.

Posted by: BTM on March 8, 2007 10:47 PM

"I never once characterized you as a dumbass or loser. You again distort and lie. Read the posts."

So, now you're calling me a liar? Re-reading the posts you conclude one of your over the top responses to me this way:

"Now, go put some suntan on your neck, dumbass. We're smarter than you."
Posted by: BTM on March 3, 2007 1:05 AM

"modernists blacklist realists from their positions in museums, schools, and shows"

You say this, yet offer no proof. It is a belief without substance; any anecdote that might seem to confirm it can easily be matched by another that would deny it. A specific museum might have a particular bias based on the current curatorial staff, but there is no universal or even widespread "blacklist" of realists.

"modern art isn't adding anything to technique"

Direct painting (as different from traditional ground/under painting/over painting) is a modern art technique. Efforts to make this new technique more flexible and archival contributed to the development of fine art quality acrylic paints. This in turn led to modern artists developing a vast array of new techniques for applying and manipulating these new paints. Today there are new mediums and pigments being developed and used, especially by modernists, which continue to extend the technical vocabulary of painters.

One quote that I've always liked (I'm not sure who first said it, perhaps Gertrude Stein) regarding abstraction in painting is, " "Red is as real as a rose."

Let me know if you actually research where the percent for art funds have gone in your state and whether the results confirm your assertion of anti-realist bias. I still contend you'll find no pro-modernist conspiracy or bias toward abstraction. (Unfortunately the web site was down when I went to check this for my state. I can say, howwever, that the three examples I did find listed were all representational works,)

Posted by: Chris White on March 9, 2007 8:12 AM

The dumbass quote was me mimicking modernist's atttudes and wasn't directed to you at all.

Yes, I am calling you a liar for misquoting me, and then pretending not to.

Modernists are some of the most reprehensible censors and crony-oriented people around. My claim is true.

Direct painting is not a modern art technique at all, and Franz Hals did it back when he was painting. It really took off when oil paints were put into portable tubes and landscape painters did outdoors studies (mid-late 1800's, well before modern crap painting). Acrylic paint is also garbage and non-archival. The plastic cross links and becomes brittle and falls apart, and many modern artist's (?) paintings from the 30's on are doing just that, neeeding extensive restoration. Using a different paint doesn't translate into an innovation in painting, just like using a spatula to paint isn't an innovation over using a brush, or using yellow paint isn't an innovation over using blue paint. I can tell you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about now, but that hasn't stopped you before.

Gertrude Stein is an idiot and her quote is asinine.

The public monies stolen by modernists include grade school, high school, and university teaching positions, university and private museum grants, curatorships, and tax exemptions, and lots of the federal pot for arts funding. You dont tell me what to do, I do what I want. And I am right on that too, as I live in Chicago, and I see the so-called "public art" that the public hates. Look at Milennium Park, that cost the taxpayers in the hundreds of millions. Frank Gehry, a goody jelly bean sculpture, and a stupid water fountain with tv screens ofpeople staring at each other. That's public money. You are so absurd. This debate has gone on long enough.

Modern art is crap and everybody knows it, except those who want to think they are smarter than everybody else, and that includes you. I'll let you have the last word as it is so important to you, as if by saying something false last that somehow makes it true. Since nobody but you and me care or are reading this thread anymore, that leaves you to talk to yourself and repeat all the falsehoods you made in the posts above. Bye.

Posted by: BTM on March 10, 2007 6:30 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?