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Fragments

 

January 2, 2017

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work” – Gustave Flaubert, 1821-1880

January 14, 2016

“In our age, when men seem more than ever prone to confuse wisdom with knowledge, and knowledge with information, and to try to solve problems of life in terms of engineering, there is coming into existence a new kind of provincialism, not of space, but of time; one for which history is merely the chronicle of human devices which have served their turn and been scrapped, one for which the world is the property solely of the living, a property in which the dead hold no shares.  The menace of this kind of provincialism is, that we all can, all the peoples of the globe, be provincials together: and those who are not content to be provincials, can only be hermits.” – TS Eliot, 1944 (from What is a Classic?)

December 28, 2015

“An established opposition, like a neurosis – the solutions are the problem – cannot be overcome by argument. Dialectic, in which moves toward synthesis or transcendence are transformed into theses to be opposed, protects and nourishes ambivalence, prevents at least its recognition. With this understanding, that the rules of philosophical argument tend to enforce the cultural divisions they reflect, Eliot commenced to write philosophy…” – Jeffrey Perl, 1989 (from Skepticism and Modern Enmity: Before and After Eliot)

December 13, 2014

“It’s very difficult for me to separate content and aesthetic bases. To me if they don’t become one, it’s a rejection of the painting. So that I am incapable of, or refuse to allow that aspect of myself to start to break down that I accept it aesthetically and reject content.” – Lee Krasner, 1908-1982

January 25, 2014

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words; watch your words, for they become actions; watch your actions, for they become habits; watch your habits, for they become your character; watch your character, for they become your destiny.  We become what we think.”  -Margaret Thatcher

July 16, 2013

“It is and remains my contention that the true lover of the medium is not the sycophantic fan who adores the good and the bad with equal fervour, but the discriminating, hard-nosed reader who refuses to tolerate the mediocre and the banal. If someone sets particularly high standards for a medium, it is a token not of contempt, but of deep and abiding respect for its potential. When these high standards result in the dismissal of most of the work produced in the medium, it takes a perverse logic to infer from this contempt for the general output a contempt for the medium itself.”  —Kim Thompson, 1956-2013

December 26, 2012

“Artists are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, artists face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every role, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life – the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because artists are willing to give their entire lives to a moment – to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Artists are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.”   – David Ackert

December 18, 2012

“The creed of ‘impartiality’ and ‘objectivity’ that has infected the liberal class teaches, ultimately, the importance of not offending the status quo.  The ‘professionalism’ demanded in the classroom, in newsprint, in the arts or in political discourse is code for moral disengagement.”  – Chris Hedges (from Death of the Liberal Class)

December 7, 2012

“Whatsoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.”  – Francis Bacon, 1909-1992

February 2, 2012

“An ad that pretends to be art is – at absolute best – like somebody who smiles warmly at you only because he wants something from you. This is dishonest, but what’s sinister is the cumulative effect that such dishonesty has on us – since it offers a perfect facsimile or simulacrum of goodwill without goodwill’s real spirit, it messes with our heads and eventually starts upping our defences even in cases of genuine smiles and real art and true goodwill. It makes us feel confused and lonely and impotent and angry and scared. It causes despair.”  – David Foster Wallace, 1962-2008

February 1, 2012

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”‘  – Jim Jarmusch, 1953-

January 31, 2012

“You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.”  – Philip K. Dick, 1928-82 (from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)

December 6, 2011

“Painting, or all art, has now become a game by which man distracts himself, and the artist must really deepen the game to be any good at all.”  – Francis Bacon, 1909-1992

February 17, 2011

“Originality is not something great, but something subtle.” – John Taylor

December 29, 2010

“Most expressive discoveries are made in old familiar subject matter.  The really original artist does not try to find a substitute for boy meets girl, but creates the illusion that no boy ever met a girl before.”  – A. Hyatt Mayor, 1901-1980

December 6, 2010

“How does art reveal Beauty, or Form?  Like philosophy it abstracts.  Art simplifies.  It is never exactly equal to life.  In the visual arts, this careful sorting out in favour of order is called composition, and most artists know its primacy.”  – Robert Adams, 1996 (from Beauty in Photography)

November 26, 2010

“Generally speaking, playing with quotations is boring for me.  I can understand that postmodernism, intertextuality, etc., can cause a vertigo, but in my opinion that is far from reaching a high water mark and it is never a goal in itself!  The game of second- and third-degree quotes, I think that is a pathological form of the end of art, a sentimental form.

“If only art could accomplish the magic act of its own disappearance! But it continues to make believe it is disappearing when it is already gone.  Art seems in fact to have nothing at all going on.

“What we need is a new set of rules – I consider that the major ideas of our times, in art, philosophy, politics and elsewhere, date from the first twenty or thirty year of the (21st) century.  Postmodernism seems to me to be an inferior time.  Our period seems to me imaginatively the poorest ever, and people are subletting the leftovers of the strong ideas from the beginning of the (21st) century.  Perhaps a culture is obliged to go through a process of garbage disposal?  At any rate, that is what is going on now.  Intelligence and subtlety are great indeed, but strong ideas are lacking.”  – Jean Baudrillard, 1986 (from an interview in Flash Art No. 130)

November 23, 2010

“The politics of a person is less ideology than Id.”  – Stanley Sultan (from Was Modernism Reactionary?, 1991)

November 21, 2010

“It is in the character of the critic to say no more in his best moments than what everyone in the following season repeats; he is the generator of the cliche.”  – Leo Steinberg, 1962

November 11, 2010

Ephemerality in Art derives its existence from that which attempts to endure.  It is reactionary; just as that which attempts to endure is reactionary towards Death.  They are each subordinate in turn: the last mirroring what the second attempts to deny the first.  – Jay Senetchko

November 8, 2010

Painting badly is different than not being able to paint.  One is a philosophical position that is taken, the other is a position that is taken by the force of default.   – Jay Senetchko

November 7, 2010

Any artist doing anything is in dialogue with the past.   – Jay Senetchko

October 9, 2010

“I occasionally take missteps and go on side trips.  But I’m hoping there is a unity in the end.  I worry about it because there is a lot of freedom in the art world to do whatever you want.  You have to be aware of that and not try just anything.  So it’s good to exert a certain discipline on your work.”  – Rodney Graham, 2010 (from an interview in Border Crossings issue no. 113)

October 8, 2010

“The capacity to experience all works in accord with their inward objectives and at the same time against external standards belongs rather to the collective judgment of a generation, a judgment within which many kinds of critical insights have been absorbed.  I find myself constantly in opposition to what is called formalism; not because I doubt the necessity of formal analysis, or the positive value of work done by serious formalist critics. But because I mistrust their certainties, their apparatus of quantification, their self-righteous indifference to that part of artistic utterance which their tools do not measure. I dislike above all their interdictory stance: the attitude that tells an artist what he ought not to do, and the spectator what he ought not to see.”  – Leo Steinberg, 1972 (from Other Criteria)

October 7, 2010

“Painting is simply in no position to present an object for simultaneous collective experience, as it was possible for architecture at all times, for the epic poem in the past, and for the movie today.  ALthough this circumstance in itself should not lead one to conclusions about the social role of painting, it does constitute a serious threat as soon as painting, under special conditions and, as it were, against its nature, is confronted directly by the masses.  In the churches and monasteries of the Middle Ages and at the princely courts up to the end of the eighteenth century, a collective reception of paintings did not occur simultaneously, but by graduated and hierarchized mediation.  The change that has come about is an expression of the particular conflict in which the painting was implicated by the mechanical reproducibility of paintings.  Although paintings began to be publicly exhibited in galleries and salons, there was no way for the masses to organize and control themselves in their reception.  Thus the same public which responds in a progressive manner toward a grotesque film is bound to respond in a reactionary manner to surrealism.”

“One of the foremost tasks of art has always been the creation of a demand which can be fully satisfied only later.”

“The painting invites the spectator to contemplation; before it the spectator can abandon himself to his associations.  Before the movie frame he cannot do so.  No sooner has his eye grasped it than it is already changed.  It cannot be arrested.  ‘I can no longer think what I want to think.  My thoughts have been arrested by moving images'”.  – Walter Benjamin, 1892-1940 (from The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction)

September 16, 2010

“What distinguishes perceptual happenings from that of objects is not that the former involves the experience of passing time, but that during a happening we witness an organized sequence in which phases follow one another in a meaningful one-dimensional order.  When the event is disorganized or incomprehensible, the sequence breaks down into a mere succession.  it loses its main characteristic; and even the succession last only as long as its elements are being squeezed through the gorge of immediate presence.  The performance becomes a kaleidoscope: there is constant change but no progression, and there is no reason to remember past phases, because time by itself can create succession, but not order.  On the contrary, any experience of time presupposes some kind of order.”  – Rudolph Arnheim, 1954 (from Art and Visual Perception)

September 15, 2010

“Those who have no name, who remain invisible and inaudible, can only penetrate the police via a mode of subjectivization that transforms the aesthetic coordinates of the community by implementing the universal presupposition of politics: we are all equal.  Democracy itself is defined by these intermittent acts of political subjectivization that reconfigure the communal distribution of the sensible.  However, just as equality is not a goal to be attained but a presupposition in need of constant verification, democracy is neither a form of government nor a style of social life.  Democratic emancipation is a random process that redistributes the system of sensible coordinates without being able to guarantee the absolute elimination of the social inequalities inherent in the police order.”  – Gabriel Rockhill, 2004 (from Translator’s Introduction of Jacques Ranciere’s Politics of Perception)

September 14, 2010

Everyone has good taste buried somewhere inside them.  – Jay Senetchko

September 12, 2010

“Everything is screaming with exaggeration today.  I think today’s artists today are caricaturing the truth, and life is more serious than that.  Also, I detest the sweetness I see in so much realistic painting.  Awful.  That’s one of the great dangers of my technical accomplishment.  The abstractionists obliterate the object because it’s one way of escaping perfunctory picturesqueness.  Then you don’t have that goddamn subject matter, an object standing in your way.  You’ve just got colour and mood.  But I’d never be satisfied with just that.  Why can’t we have reality too, so we can understand it?  Does it have to be gibberish?”  – Richard Meryman, 1965 (from Andrew Wyeth: An Interview)

September 1, 2010

“in art old paradigms never die; instead, they undergo a conversion process that turns them from belief system into style.”  – AD Coleman, 2008 (excerpt from Border Crossings article Pictorialism’s Revenge)

July 28, 2010

“The craftsman who had fulfilled an established need in the affairs of government and religion was gradually transformed into an outsider – the producer of surplus luxury goods to be stored in museums or used to demonstrate the wealth and refined taste of the rich and privileged.  This exclusion from the economic mechanism of supply and demand tended to transform the artist into a self-centered observer. Such a detachment from the give and take of civic existence has its pros and cons.  On the positive side, a spectator can stand back, and thus see better and more independently.  At a distance, personal commitments lose their power; accidental detail drops out and essence reveals its broad shape.  The detached artist, like the scientist, withdraws from individual appearance to seize more directly on fundamental qualities.

“Negatively, high abstraction risks detaching itself from the wealth of actual existence.  When contact with a full range of human experience is lost, there results not art, but formalistic play with shapes or empty concepts.  Remnants of thoughts and experiences are organized not according to their meaningful interaction in the world or in reality, but by purely formal similarities and symmetries.”  – Rudolph Arnheim, 1954 (from Art and Visual Perception)

July 21, 2010

“The utterances of artists make it clear that they think of “style” simply as a means of giving reality to their image.  “Originality” is the unsought and unnoticed product of an artist’s successful attempt to be honest and truthful, to penetrate to the origins, the roots, of what he sees.  The deliberate search for a style inevitably interferes with the validity of the work, because it introduces an element of arbitrariness into a process that can be governed only by necessity.  Picasso once said: “Always strive for perfection.  For instance, try to draw a perfect circle; and since you can’t draw a perfect circle, the involuntary flaw will reveal your personality.  But if you want to reveal your personality by drawing an imperfect circle – your circle – you will bungle the whole thing.”‘  – Rudolph Arheim, 1954 (from Art and Visual Perception)

July 18, 2010

“The best and most legitimate way to get the all-powerful reader to surrender his power over time is to seduce the reader. To charm the reader. We are, after all, pleasure-driven creatures, pulled toward what charms us. We don’t hurry past what charms us.

A good comic book artist plays to the strengths of the form, and one of comics’ chief appeals is that they are drawn by hand. The artist’s personality is felt. Comics drawn in slavish imitation of photography are almost as bad as those awful fumettis occasionally produced, despite all good sense, in Europe, those pasted-up things that are the worst and dumbest and most joyless corruption of the artform imaginable. They’ve got all the charm of a low-budget porn movie, and all of the verve of a high school yearbook. The hand of the artist should be visible, making its judgments, picking what is important, exaggerating the essential and discarding the irrelevant. Cartoon art is the craft of reuniting the word and the picture, using the drawing itself as communication more than as cold representation. Done with skill and wit and economy, cartoon art charms the eye. The eye wants to linger on the physical gesture, that piece of shrubbery, that funky old beat-up wagon pulled by cows. The six deft brush strokes that compose a figure stimulate the mind, making the reader fill in the blanks, now an eager, active participant in the storytelling. Properly wined and dined, the reader settles down and takes the story at the pace the cartoonist intended.”  -Frank Miller, 2010 (from Time)

July 13, 2010

“No word comes easier or oftener to the critic’s pen than the word ‘influence’, and no vaguer notion can be found among all the vague notions that comprise the phantom armoury of aesthetics.  Yet there is nothing in the critical field that should be of greater philosophical interest or prove more rewarding to analysis than the progressive modification of one mind by the work of another.”  -Paul Valery, 1871-1945

July 2, 2010

“In these years whole treasures of patience, analysis, research and learning were devoured in the studios of the young painters in Paris, and sheer intelligence welled up more intensely than ever before.  The painters looked at everything: contemporary art, and art in every historical style, the expressive means of all peoples, the theories of all periods.  Never before had so many painters been seen in the museums, studying and comparing the techniques of the Old Masters.  They looked at the artistic productions of savages, of primitive peoples, and the evidence of prehistoric art.  At the same time they were much occupied with the latest theories of electro-chemistry, biology, experimental psychology and applied physics.”  – Robert Delaunay, circa 1912

July 1, 2010

“If you compare yourself with others you lose – I am the hero in my own life.”  – Odd Nerdrum, 1983

June 30, 2010

“Mainstream vampiric whiteys, known as Hipsters, will absorb any subcultural artifact that can be consumed.  Hipsters disguise themselves as non-conformist outsiders, using their external appearance as a means to express their perceived individuality.  Hipsters play dress-up, and their costume is “Unique Individual”.  They accessorize and co-opt by feeding on subcultures like ‘white trash’ rednecks (belt buckles, The Great Trucker Hat Debacle of Aught-Three), the geeks and dorks (awkward eyeglasses, bad haircuts), and the ever-popular class-slumming trend of pretending you’re poor (ripped clothing, Salvation Army scavenging.)  A Hipster’s trend lust knows no bounds.  These vampires feed until the ironic novelty is drained away, until they have devalued the things which were once important signifiers to the original subcultures.  They seek, consume, and destroy.  Hipsters need to manufacture their rebellion, because underneath all of their cheap signalling, they are indescribably normal.”  -Tom Pappalardo, 2010 (Cultural Vampirism from The Optimist)

May 29, 2010

“It’s of some interest that the lively arts treat anhedonia and internal emptiness as hip and cool.  It’s maybe the vestiges of the Romantic glorification of Weltschmerz, which means world-weariness or hip ennui.  Maybe it’s the fact that most of the arts are produced by world-weary and sophisticated older people and then consumed by younger people who not only consume art but study it for clues on how to be cool, hip – and keep in mind that, for kids and younger people, to be hip and cool is the same as to be admired and accepted and included and so Unalone.  Forget so-called peer-pressure.  It’s more like peer-hunger.  No?  We enter a spiritual puberty where we snap to the fact that the great transcendent horror is loneliness, excluded encasement in the self.  Once we’ve hit this age, we will now give or take anything, wear any mask, to fit, to be part-of, not be Alone, we young.  The arts are our guide to inclusion.  A how-to.  We are shown how to fashion masks of ennui and jaded irony at a young age where the face is fictile enough to assume the shape of whatever it wears.  And then it’s stuck there, the weary cynicism that saves us from gooey sentiment and unsophisticated naivete.  Sentiment equals naivete on this continent.  Hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human, since to be really human is to be unavoidably sentimental and naive and goo-prone and generally pathetic.”  – David Foster Wallace, 1996 (from: Infinite Jest)

May 29, 2010

“It can be a surprisingly long way from the mind to the eye to the hand.  So long, in fact, that crossing may be altogether impossible or only on the shakiest of bridges.  It may be a technical inability, a communication problem, financial difficulty, or more seriously, a skeptical gap, a form of impotence.  The greater the number involved the greater the potential loss.”  – Dion Kliner, 1999 (from: Give me a Little Death Baby)

May 28, 2010

“Freedom within limits.  It is the limit that defines freedom.”   – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832

April 22, 2010

“Nothing is harder to forgive than merit.”   – Denis Diderot, 1713-1784

March 11, 2010

“I like what Art stands for more than I like Art.”   – Pennylane Shen, 2010

January 22, 2010

“Taste is the enemy of Art, and Fad is a skungier enemy in league with Taste.”    – from an interview with Thomas Hoving, 1976

January 22, 2010

“Art is decadent? Degenerate? Art does not do that. Art is not like a physical human being.  It does not have a vigorous youth, a marvelous maturity, and a declining old age.  It just doesn’t, it changes styles because it’s utterly unconnected (through) various artists who do not sit around and say: “now we are in middle age, now we’re gonna have to decline”.  – from an interview with Thomas Hoving, 1976

March 15, 2009

It is the arrogance of the artist that allows them to suppose that everyone should understand their work; it is the arrogance of the viewer that allows them to think that they should be able to understand the artist without any effort on their part. – Jay Senetchko