Log24

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Varnedoe

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:00 AM

See "August 14" + Varnedoe in this journal.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Monday October 1, 2007

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 7:20 AM
Bright as Magnesium

“Definitive”

— The New York Times,  
Sept. 30, 2007, on
Blade Runner:
The Final Cut

Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J.

“The art historian Kirk Varnedoe died on August 14, 2003, after a long and valiant battle with cancer. He was 57. He was a faculty member in the Institute for Advanced Study’s School of Historical Studies, where he was the fourth art historian to hold this prestigious position, first held by the German Renaissance scholar Erwin Panofsky in the 1930s.”

Hal Crowther

“His final lecture was an eloquent, prophetic flight of free association….

Varnedoe chose to introduce his final lecture with the less-quoted last words of the android Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) in Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner: ‘I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe– attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, bright as magnesium; I rode on the back decks of a blinker and watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to die.'”


Related material: 
tears in the rain–

Game Over
(Nov. 5, 2003):

The film "The Matrix," illustrated

Coordinates for generating the Miracle Octad Generator

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Saturday August 23, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:07 AM

Pictures of Nothing

‘”The artist delights to go back to the first chaos of the world… All is without forms and void. Some one said of his landscapes that they were pictures of nothing, and very like.”

William Hazlitt, 1816, on J. M. W. Turner

“William Hazlett [sic] once described Turner’s painting as ‘pictures of the elements of air, earth, and water. The artist delights to go back to the first chaos of the world…All is without form and void. Some one said of his landscapes that they were pictures of nothing and very like.   This description could equally well be applied to a Pollock, Newman, or Rothko.”

— Sonja J. Klein, thesis, The Nature of the Sublime, September 2000

The fifty-second A. W. Mellon series of Lectures in the Fine Arts was given last spring at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., by Kirk Varnedoe, art historian at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey.

The lecture series was titled

Pictures of Nothing:
Abstract Art since Pollock.

 

The lectures, 2003:

Why Abstract Art? … March 30

Survivals and Fresh Starts … April 6

Minimalism … April 13

After Minimalism … April 27

Satire, Irony, and Abstract Art … May 4

Abstract Art Now … May 11

Varnedoe died on Thursday, August 14, 2003,
the day of the Great Blackout.

Pictures of Nothing:

“Record-breaking crowds turned up at the National Gallery for Kirk’s Mellon Lectures….

… the content of Kirk’s talk was miraculously subtle, as he insisted that there could be no single explanation for how abstraction works, that each piece had to be understood on its own terms — how it came to be made, what it meant then and what it has gone on to mean to viewers since.

Dour works like

Frank Stella’s early
gray-on-black canvases

Die Fahne Hoch,”
Frank Stella,
1959

“Gray on Black,”
or “Date of Death”

seemed to open up under Kirk’s touch to reveal a delicacy and complexity lost in less textured explanations.”

Blake Gopnik in the Washington Post,
Aug. 15, 2003

For another memorial to Varnedoe, see

Fahne Hoch.

A May 18 Washington Post article skillfully summarized Varnedoe’s Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery:

Closing the Circle on Abstract Art.

For more on art and nihilism, see

The Word in the Desert.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Monday August 18, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 3:09 PM

Entries since Xanga’s
August 10 Failure:


Sunday, August 17, 2003  2:00 PM

A Thorny Crown of…

West Wing's Toby Ziegler

From the first episode of
the television series
The West Wing“:

 

Original airdate: Sept. 22, 1999
Written by Aaron Sorkin

MARY MARSH
That New York sense of humor. It always–

CALDWELL
Mary, there’s absolutely no need…

MARY MARSH
Please, Reverend, they think they’re so much smarter. They think it’s smart talk. But nobody else does.

JOSH
I’m actually from Connecticut, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that I hope…

TOBY
She meant Jewish.

[A stunned silence. Everyone stares at Toby.]

TOBY (CONT.)
When she said “New York sense of humor,” she was talking about you and me.

JOSH
You know what, Toby, let’s just not even go there.

 

Going There, Part I

 

Crown of Ideas

Kirk Varnedoe, 57, art historian and former curator of the Museum of Modern Art, died Thursday, August 14, 2003.

From his New York Times obituary:

” ‘He loved life in its most tangible forms, and so for him art was as physical and pleasurable as being knocked down by a wave,’ said Adam Gopnik, the writer and a former student of his who collaborated on Mr. Varnedoe’s first big show at the Modern, ‘High & Low.’ ‘Art was always material first — it was never, ever bound by a thorny crown of ideas.’ ”

For a mini-exhibit of ideas in honor of Varnedoe, see

Fahne Hoch.

Verlyn Klinkenborg on Varnedoe:

“I was always struck by the tangibility of the words he used….  It was as if he were laying words down on the table one by one as he used them, like brushes in an artist’s studio. That was why students crowded into his classes and why the National Gallery of Art had overflow audiences for his Mellon Lectures earlier this year. Something synaptic happened when you listened to Kirk Varnedoe, and, remarkably, something synaptic happened when he listened to you. You never knew what you might discover together.”

Perhaps even a “thorny crown of ideas“?

“Crown of Thorns”
Cathedral, Brasilia

Varnedoe’s death coincided with
the Great Blackout of 2003.

“To what extent does this idea of a civic life produced by sense of adversity correspond to actual life in Brasília? I wonder if it is something which the city actually cultivates. Consider, for example the cathedral, on the monumental axis, a circular, concrete framed building whose sixteen ribs are both structural and symbolic, making a structure that reads unambiguously as a crown of thorns; other symbolic elements include the subterranean entrance, the visitor passing through a subterranean passage before emerging in the light of the body of the cathedral. And it is light, shockingly so….”

Modernist Civic Space: The Case of Brasilia, by Richard J. Williams, Department of History of Art, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Going There, Part II

Simple, Bold, Clear

Art historian Kirk Varnedoe was, of course, not the only one to die on the day of the Great Blackout.

Claude Martel, 34, a senior art director of The New York Times Magazine, also died on Thursday, August 14, 2003.

Janet Froelich, the magazine’s art director, describes below a sample of work that she and Martel did together:

“A new world of ideas”

Froelich notes that “the elements are simple, bold, and clear.”

For another example of elements with these qualities, see my journal entry

Fahne Hoch.

The flag design in that entry
might appeal to Aaron Sorkin’s
Christian antisemite:

 

Fahne,
S. H. Cullinane,
Aug. 15, 2003

Dr. Mengele,
according to
Hollywood

 

Note that the elements of the flag design have the qualities described so aptly by Froelich– simplicity, boldness, clarity:

They share these qualities with the Elements of Euclid, a treatise on geometrical ideas.

For the manner in which such concepts might serve as, in Gopnik’s memorable phrase, a “thorny crown of ideas,” see

“Geometry for Jews” in

ART WARS: Geometry as Conceptual Art.

See also the discussion of ideas in my journal entry on theology and art titled

Understanding: On Death and Truth

and the discussion of the wordidea” (as well as the word, and the concept, “Aryan”) in the following classic (introduced by poet W. H. Auden):

 

 

Saturday, August 16, 2003  6:00 AM

Varnedoe’s Crown

Kirk Varnedoe, 57, art historian and former curator of the Museum of Modern Art, died Thursday, August 14, 2003.

From his New York Times obituary:

” ‘He loved life in its most tangible forms, and so for him art was as physical and pleasurable as being knocked down by a wave,’ said Adam Gopnik, the writer and a former student of his who collaborated on Mr. Varnedoe’s first big show at the Modern, ‘High & Low.’ ‘Art was always material first — it was never, ever bound by a thorny crown of ideas.’ “

For a mini-exhibit of ideas in honor of Varnedoe, see

Fahne Hoch. 

Verlyn Klinkenborg on Varnedoe:

“I was always struck by the tangibility of the words he used….  It was as if he were laying words down on the table one by one as he used them, like brushes in an artist’s studio. That was why students crowded into his classes and why the National Gallery of Art had overflow audiences for his Mellon Lectures earlier this year. Something synaptic happened when you listened to Kirk Varnedoe, and, remarkably, something synaptic happened when he listened to you. You never knew what you might discover together.”

Perhaps even a “thorny crown of ideas”?

“Crown of Thorns”
Cathedral, Brasilia

Varnedoe’s death coincided with
the Great Blackout of 2003.

“To what extent does this idea of a civic life produced by sense of adversity correspond to actual life in Brasília? I wonder if it is something which the city actually cultivates. Consider, for example the cathedral, on the monumental axis, a circular, concrete framed building whose sixteen ribs are both structural and symbolic, making a structure that reads unambiguously as a crown of thorns; other symbolic elements include the subterranean entrance, the visitor passing through a subterranean passage before emerging in the light of the body of the cathedral. And it is light, shockingly so….”

Modernist Civic Space: The Case of Brasilia, by Richard J. Williams, Department of History of Art, University of Edinburgh, Scotland


Friday, August 15, 2003  3:30 PM

ART WARS:

The Boys from Brazil

It turns out that the elementary half-square designs used in Diamond Theory

 

also appear in the work of artist Nicole Sigaud.

Sigaud’s website The ANACOM Project  has a page that leads to the artist Athos Bulcão, famous for his work in Brasilia.

From the document

Conceptual Art in an
Authoritarian Political Context:
Brasilia, Brazil
,

by Angélica Madeira:

“Athos created unique visual plans, tiles of high poetic significance, icons inseparable from the city.”

As Sigaud notes, two-color diagonally-divided squares play a large part in the art of Bulcão.

The title of Madeira’s article, and the remarks of Anna Chave on the relationship of conceptual/minimalist art to fascist rhetoric (see my May 9, 2003, entries), suggest possible illustrations for a more politicized version of Diamond Theory:

 

Fahne,
S. H. Cullinane,
Aug. 15, 2003

Dr. Mengele,
according to
Hollywood

 

Is it safe?

These illustrations were suggested in part by the fact that today is the anniversary of the death of Macbeth, King of Scotland, and in part by the following illustrations from my journal entries of July 13, 2003 comparing a MOMA curator to Lady Macbeth:

 

Die Fahne Hoch,
Frank Stella,
1959


Dorothy Miller,
MOMA curator,
died at 99 on
July 11, 2003
.

 


Thursday, August 14, 2003  3:45 AM

Famous Last Words

The ending of an Aug. 14 Salon.com article on Mel Gibson’s new film, “The Passion”:

” ‘The Passion’ will most likely offer up the familiar puerile, stereotypical view of the evil Jew calling for Jesus’ blood and the clueless Pilate begging him to reconsider. It is a view guaranteed to stir anew the passions of the rabid Christian, and one that will send the Jews scurrying back to the dark corners of history.”

— Christopher Orlet

“Scurrying”?!  The ghost of Joseph Goebbels, who famously portrayed Jews as sewer rats doing just that, must be laughing — perhaps along with the ghost of Lady Diana Mosley (née Mitford), who died Monday.

This goes well with a story that Orlet tells at his website:

“… to me, the most genuine last words are those that arise naturally from the moment, such as

 

Joseph Goebbels

 

Voltaire’s response to a request that he foreswear Satan: ‘This is no time to make new enemies.’ ”

For a view of Satan as an old, familiar, acquaintance, see the link to Prince Ombra in my entry last October 29 for Goebbels’s birthday.


Wednesday, August 13, 2003  3:00 PM

Best Picture

For some reflections inspired in part by

click here.


Tuesday, August 12, 2003  4:44 PM

Atonement:

A sequel to my entry “Catholic Tastes” of July 27, 2003.

Some remarks of Wallace Stevens that seem appropriate on this date:

“It may be that one life is a punishment
For another, as the son’s life for the father’s.”

—  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens

Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr.

“Unless we believe in the hero, what is there
To believe? ….
Devise, devise, and make him of winter’s
Iciest core, a north star, central
In our oblivion, of summer’s
Imagination, the golden rescue:
The bread and wine of the mind….”

Examination of the Hero in a Time of War, Wallace Stevens

Etymology of “Atonement”:

Middle English atonen, to be reconciled, from at one, in agreement

At One

“… We found,
If we found the central evil, the central good….
… we and the diamond globe at last were one.”

Asides on the Oboe, Wallace Stevens


Tuesday, August 12, 2003  1:52 PM

Franken & ‘Stein,
Attorneys at Law

Tue August 12, 2003 04:10 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fox News Network is suing humor writer Al Franken for trademark infringement over the phrase ‘fair and balanced’ on the cover of his upcoming book, saying it has been ‘a signature slogan’ of the network since 1996.”

Franken:
Fair?

‘Stein:
Balanced?

For answers, click on the pictures
of Franken and ‘Stein.


Saturday, August 16, 2003

Saturday August 16, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:16 AM

My Personal Thorny Crown

Kirk Varnedoe, 57, art historian and former curator of the Museum of Modern Art, died Thursday, August 14, 2003.

From his New York Times obituary:

" 'He loved life in its most tangible forms, and so for him art was as physical and pleasurable as being knocked down by a wave,' said Adam Gopnik, the writer and a former student of his who collaborated on Mr. Varnedoe's first big show at the Modern, 'High & Low.' 'Art was always material first — it was never, ever bound by a thorny crown of ideas.' "

For some background on the phrase "thorny crown of ideas," see the web page

Understanding.   

The phrase "thorny crown of ideas" is also of interest in the light of recent controversy over Mel Gibson's new film, "The Passion."

For details of the controversy, see Christopher Orlet's Aug. 14 essay at Salon.com,

Mel Gibson vs. "The Jews"

For a real "thorny crown of ideas," consider the following remarks by another art historian:

"Whether or not we can follow the theorist in his demonstrations, there is one misunderstanding we must avoid at all cost.  We must not confuse the analyses of geometrical symmetries with the mathematics of combination and permutation….

The earliest (and perhaps the rarest) treatise on the theory of design drives home this insight with marvellous precision."

— E. H. Gombrich, 1979, in
   The Sense of Order

This is perhaps the most stupid remark I have ever read.  The "treatise on the theory of design" that Gombrich refers to is

  • Dominique Douat, Methode pour faire une infinité de desseins differents avec des carreaux mipartis de deux couleurs par une ligne diagonale : ou observations du Pere Dominique Douat Religieux Carmes de la Province de Toulouse sur un memoire inséré dans l'Histoire de l'Académie Royale des Sciences de Paris l'année 1704, présenté par le Reverend Sebastien Truchet religieux du même ordre, Academicien honoraire, imprimé chez Jacques Quillau, Imprimeur Juré de l'Université, Paris 1722.

This is the title given at the web page

Truchet & Types:
Tiling Systems and Ornaments
,

which gives some background. 

Certain of the Truchet/Douat patterns have rather intriguing mathematical properties, sketched in my website Diamond Theory.  These properties become clear if and only we we do what Gombrich moronically declares that we must not do:  "confuse the analyses of geometrical symmetries with the mathematics of combination and permutation."  (The verb "confuse" should, of course, be replaced by the verb "combine.") 

What does all this have to do with

Mel Gibson vs. "The Jews" ?

As jesting Pilate seems to have realized, whenever Jews (or, for that matter, Christians) tell stories, issues of truth may arise.  Such issues, as shown by current events in that damned Semitic Hell-on-Earth that used to be referred to as "the Holy Land," can be of life-and-death importance.


Scene from
The Passion

The Roman soldiers may have fashioned a physical crown of thorns, but the Jews are quite capable of fashioning a very uncomfortable crown of, as Gopnik says, "ideas."

Here is an example.

"Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich, who as an author went by the name E. H. Gombrich, was born in Vienna in 1909….

The Gombrich family was Jewish, but his parents felt this had no particular relevance. In later years Mr. Gombrich said that whether someone was Jewish or not was a preoccupation for the Gestapo."

— Michael Kimmelman's obituary for Gombrich in the New York Times. Kimmelman is chief art critic for the New York Times and author of the Times's Aug. 15 Varnedoe obituary.

The web page Understanding cited above contains a link to

Pilate, Truth, and Friday the Thirteenth,

a page combining some religious remarks with a quotation of an extremely patronizing and superficial reference to my own work (and, in passing, to Truchet/Douat patterns).

This reference, and the above-quoted remark by Gombrich, constitute my own modest claim to what the Jew Gopnik jokingly calls a "thorny crown of ideas."

To me it is no joke.

This partly accounts for the rather strained quality of the attempt at humor in a web page I put together yesterday in response to Varnedoe's obituary:

Fahne Hoch, Macbeth!

Another reason for the strained quality is my being struck by the synchronicity of reading Varnedoe's obituary shortly after I had done a journal entry related to the death in July of an earlier Museum of Modern Art curator.  Like Robert A. Heinlein, I think the God of the Jews is a lousy deity and an even worse father figure.  I do, however, believe in synchronicity.
 

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