Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Few Words of Wisdom

It seems to me that today if you want to produce art seriously and make for yourself a little corner of originality, or at least keep for yourself a thoroughly guiltless personality, you must immerse yourself in solitude. There is too much tittle-tattle. It's as if pictures were being painted by stock exchange players, by agents of people avid for profits. Apparently you are supposed to need the mind and ideas of your neighbor to do anything at all, much as a businessman needs the capital of other people in order to earn a sou. All these transactions put your mind on edge and falsify your judgement.
Edgar Degas, 1856

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Clearing the decks from last year...

Both are conte on Kraft paser, approximately 2'x3'.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

A friend of mine recently reawakened my interest in Mary Cassatt, definitely one of my favourite artists ever. I pulled out a book I had bought ten years ago Mary Cassatt, Modern Woman (put out by the Art Institute of Chicago), and the first thing I came across was this etching, done by Winslow Homer for Harpers.

It's a striking etching taken from a gallery in the Louvre. Note the number of students and copyists, the hanging style for the pictures and compare them to what one sees in most modern museums, where pictures tend to be hung miles apart, and one rarely sees anyone trying to draw from them.

What does that say about the state of modern art?

Friday, January 1, 2010

On Painting the Sistine Chapel

A goiter it seems I got from this backward craning
like the cats get there in Lombardy, or wherever
—bad water, they say, from lapping their fetid river.
My belly, tugged under my chin, 's all out of whack.
Beard points like a finger at heaven. Near the back
of my neck, skull scrapes where a hunchback's lump would be.
I'm pigeon-breasted, a harpy! Face dribbled—see?—
like a Byzantine floor, mosaic. From all this straining
my guts and my hambones tangle, pretty near.
Thank God I can swivel my butt about for ballast.
Feet are out of sight; they just scuffle around, erratic.
Up front my hide's tight elastic; in the rear
it's slack and droopy, except where crimps have callused.
I'm bent like a bow, half-round, type Asiatic.
Not odd that what's on my mind,
when expressed, comes out weird, jumbled. Don't berate;
no gun with its barrel screwy can shoot straight.
Giovanni, come agitate
for my pride, my poor dead art! I don't belong!
Who's a painter? Me? No way! They've got me wrong.
From Three Complete Poems of Michelangelo, translated by John Frederick Nims