Log24

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ten Years of Nothing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 2:02 PM

For insatiable actor Patrick Bateman (protagonist of
American Psycho) and anti-theologian Kirk Varnedoe
Pictures of Nothing, this journal ten years ago today )

Philip Rieff, The Crisis of the Officer Class,
University of Virginia Press, 2007

From page 73:

The third culture's life-style, its way, is no way: it is abandonment, 
an ethos of empty seriousness best expressed, I think, by the 
greatest of American poets in the tradition that began with 
Emerson. Wallace Stevens was the greatest American maker of 
that "fictive music" of the "unreal" by which poets "give back to us 
what you [God] gave," Creation itself, now understood, in the third
culture, as the "imagination that we spurned and crave." Stevens
understood the fictive music of faith, that intensity which

proclaims
The near, the clear …
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
… an image that is sure,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Yet not too like, yet not so like to be
Too near, too clear, saving a little to endow
Our feigning with the strange unlike…. [12]

This is masterly anti-theology. This is what no "mickey mockers" of 
the spirit can ever become: the "American sublime," the mar-

[12] Wallace Stevens, "To the One of Fictive Music," in Collected 
Poems
 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1954), 87-88; all citations of 
Stevens are to this edition.

From page 74:

velous panic and emptiness of belief by which the "sublime comes 
down/To the spirit itself" and terrifies the American self:

The spirit and space,
The empty spirit 
In vacant space.
What wine does one drink?
What bread does one eat? [13]

This poet is no great character, nor temple priest. He is a virtuoso 
chef, preparing the food for the American feast of unbeliefs. This 
supreme fictionist invents bread and wine, anything that will act as 
that "act of the mind." [14] Stevens had a shrewd Emersonian idea 
of myth, or Freudian, the "sexual myth" or any other "images of 
metaphors." [15] He knew that it was in "this invented world" that "the 
death of one god is the death of all." This is the most supreme of all 
fictions, by which "He imposes orders as he thinks of them." [16]

[13] Stevens, "The American Sublime," 130-31
[14] Stevens, "Of Modern Poetry," 239-40; modern poetry, which is 
"the finding of a satisfaction," or a script for a theater– whatever 
"will suffice" for the "insatiable actor" of the third culture, even the 
script of "cuisine bourgeoise," where we may "feast on human 
heads" (240, 227).
[15] Stevens, "Men Made out of Words," 355; and "Thinking of a 
Relation between the Images of Metaphors," 356-57.
[16] Stevens, "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction," 380-81, 403.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bedeviled

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 10:30 PM

From tonight's online New York Times

John McCracken, Sculptor of Geometric Forms, Dies at 76

McCracken died in Manhattan on Friday, April 8.

From Christopher Knight in tonight's online LA Times

… the works embody perceptual and philosophical conundrums. The colored planks stand on the floor like sculptures….

McCracken was bedeviled by Stanley Kubrick's famously obscure science-fiction epic, "2001: A Space Odyssey," with its iconic image of an ancient monolith floating in outer space. The 1968 blockbuster was released two years after the artist made his first plank.

"At the time, some people thought I had designed the monolith or that it had been derived from my work," he told art critic Frances Colpitt of the coincidence in a 1998 interview.

Two photos of McCracken's 1967 Black Plank  seem relevant—

November 28, 2010 (Click to enlarge)

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11/110410-McCrackenPlank1967400w.jpg

December 28, 2010 (Click to enlarge)

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11/110410-McCracken-NatGallery-NothingToSeeHere-400w.jpg

Material that an artist might view as related, if only synchronistically—

Two posts in this journal on the dates the photos were taken—
The Embedding on November 28 and Dry Bones on December 28.

The photos are of an exhibition titled "There is nothing to see here" at the
National Gallery of Art, October 30, 2010-April 24, 2011 —

Click to enlarge.

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11/110410-NothingToSee-400w.jpg

For related nihilism from the National Gallery, see "Pictures of Nothing" in this journal.

Some less nihilistic illustrations—

The Meno  Embedding

http://www.log24.com/log/pix10B/101128-TheEmbedding.gif

A photo by one of the artists whose work is displayed above beside McCracken's—

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11/110410-Sugimoto-AndoChurch.jpg

"Accentuate the Positive."
 — Clint Eastwood

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epiphany Revisited

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 AM

January 06, 2007
ART WARS: Epiphany

Picture of Nothing
On Kirk Varnedoe’s
2003 Mellon Lectures,
Pictures of Nothing“–

“Varnedoe’s lectures were ultimately about faith, about his faith in the power of abstraction, and abstraction as a kind of anti-religious faith in itself….”

Related material:

The more industrious scholars will derive considerable pleasure from describing how the art-history professors and journalists of the period 1945-75, along with so many students, intellectuals, and art tourists of every sort, actually struggled to see the paintings directly, in the old pre-World War II way, like Plato’s cave dwellers watching the shadows, without knowing what had projected them, which was the Word.”

— Tom Wolfe, The Painted Word

Log24, Aug. 23, 2005:

“Concept (scholastics’ verbum mentis)–  theological analogy of Son’s procession  as Verbum Patris, 111-12″ — Index to Joyce and Aquinas, by William T. Noon, S.J., Yale University Press 1957,  second printing 1963, page 162

“So did God cause the big bang? Overcome by metaphysical lassitude, I finally reach over to my bookshelf for The Devil’s Bible. Turning to Genesis I read: ‘In the beginning there was nothing. And God said, ‘Let there be light!’ And there was still nothing, but now you could see it.'”
— Jim Holt, Big-Bang Theology, from Slate‘s “High Concept” department

'In the beginning' according to Jim Holt

“Bang.”

“…Mondrian and Malevich are not discussing canvas or pigment or graphite or any other form of matter. They are talking about Being or Mind or Spirit. From their point of view, the grid is a staircase to the Universal….”

For properties of the “nothing” represented by the 3×3 grid, see The Field of Reason. For religious material related to the above and to Epiphany, a holy day observed by some, see Plato, Pegasus, and the Evening Star and Shining Forth.


Some Context:

Quaternions in Finite Geometry

Click to enlarge.

See also Nativity.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday September 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:02 PM
Closing the Circle

Continued from Monday

“This is a chapel 
 of mischance;
ill luck betide it, ’tis
the cursedest kirk
  that ever I came in!”

Philip Kennicott on
Kirk Varnedoe in
The Washington Post:

“Varnedoe’s lectures were
ultimately about faith,
about his faith in
the power of abstraction,
 and abstraction as a kind of
    anti-religious faith in itself….”

Kennicott’s remarks were
 on Sunday, May 18, 2003.
They were subtitled
“Closing the Circle
on Abstract Art.”

Also on Sunday, May 18, 2003:

 “Will the circle be unbroken?
  As if some southern congregation
  is praying we will come to understand.”


Princeton University Press
:

Empty canvas on cover of Varnedoe's 'Pictures of Nothing'

See also

Parmiggiani’s 
  Giordano Bruno

Parmiggiani's Bruno: empty canvas with sculpture of Durer's solid

Dürer’s Melencolia I

Durer, Melencolia I

and Log24 entries
of May 19-22, 2009,
ending with
    “Steiner System” —

Diamond-shaped face of Durer's 'Melencolia I' solid, with  four colored pencils from Diane Robertson Design

George Steiner on chess
(see yesterday morning):

“There are siren moments when quite normal creatures otherwise engaged, men such as Lenin and myself, feel like giving up everything– marriage, mortgages, careers, the Russian Revolution– in order to spend their days and nights moving little carved objects up and down a quadrate board.”

Steiner continues

“Allegoric associations of death with chess are perennial….”

Yes, they are.

April is Math Awareness Month.
This year’s theme is “mathematics and art.”

Mathematics and Art: Totentanz from Seventh Seal

Cf. both of yesterday’s entries.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday March 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 1:00 AM

Identity

The 3x3 grid as religious symbol

Click for context.

Related material:

Pictures of Nothing

Art Wars: Epiphany

Tilting at Whirligigs

Down the Up Staircase

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Saturday January 6, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 PM


Picture of Nothing

On Kirk Varnedoe’s
2003 Mellon Lectures,
Pictures of Nothing“–

“Varnedoe’s lectures were ultimately
about faith, about his faith in
the power of abstraction,
and abstraction as a kind of
anti-religious faith in itself….”

The Washington Post

Related material:

The more industrious scholars
will derive considerable pleasure
from describing how the art-history
professors and journalists of the period
1945-75, along with so many students,
intellectuals, and art tourists of every
sort, actually struggled to see the
paintings directly, in the old
pre-World War II way,
like Plato’s cave dwellers
watching the shadows, without
knowing what had projected them,
which was the Word.”

— Tom Wolfe, The Painted Word

Log24, Aug. 23, 2005:

“Concept (scholastics’ verbum mentis)–
theological analogy of Son’s procession
as Verbum Patris, 111-12″

— Index to Joyce and Aquinas,
by William T. Noon, S.J.,
Yale University Press 1957,
second printing 1963, page 162

“So did God cause the big bang?
Overcome by metaphysical lassitude,
I finally reach over to my bookshelf
for The Devil’s Bible.
Turning to Genesis I read:
‘In the beginning
there was nothing.
And God said,
‘Let there be light!’
And there was still nothing,
but now you could see it.'”

— Jim Holt, Big-Bang Theology,
Slate‘s “High Concept” department

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07/070106-Bang.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


“Bang.”

“…Mondrian and Malevich
are not discussing canvas
or pigment or graphite or
any other form of matter.
They are talking about
Being or Mind or Spirit.
From their point of view,
the grid is a staircase
to the Universal….”

Rosalind Krauss, “Grids”

For properties of the
“nothing” represented
by the 3×3 grid, see
The Field of Reason.

For religious material related
to the above and to Epiphany,
a holy day observed by some,
see Plato, Pegasus, and the
Evening Star
and Shining Forth.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Friday December 17, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 PM
Christmas Dance at Taos

One grows used to the weather,
The landscape and that;
And the sublime comes down
To the spirit itself,

The spirit and space,
The empty spirit
In vacant space.

— Wallace Stevens,
"The American Sublime"

The Times Online on the artist Agnes Martin,
who died Dec. 16 in Taos, New Mexico:

"At a glance, or from a distance, her work looks like nothing at all. Square canvases are so palely touched with colour they might almost be blank. Considered slowly and carefully and close-up, however, the whole surface comes alive."

"The restraint and formal regularity of Martin’s work has led her often to be grouped with the Minimalists. She shares something of their self-effacing rigour and their concern with the material qualities of art, but she herself preferred to be seen in the context of the Abstract Expressionist painters who were her own contemporaries and early artistic models. Like them she may have seen abstract art as the means to a distinctively American sublime…."

"Taos had been a magnet for artists since the last years of the 19th century. D. H. Lawrence famously spent time there in the 1920s. 'Never shall I forget the Christmas dances at Taos,' he wrote, 'twilight, snow, the darkness coming over the great wintry mountains and the lonely pueblo.'"

Related material:

Pictures of Nothing,

Balanchine's Birthday.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Friday June 25, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:00 PM

Ado

Picture at ICA Big Nothing exhibit

Click on above picture
for some background.

Click on above picture
for some background.

Related material:

A Form (May 22, 2004),
A Form, continued (June 5, 2004),
Balanchine’s Birthday (Jan. 9, 2003),
Pictures of Nothing (Aug. 23, 2003)

Monday, October 27, 2003

Monday October 27, 2003

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 8:28 AM

Dream of Heaven, continued

“…I am going up the hill on the grass behind juniper trees birches the road dusty she is coming up the other side yes there she is look it is who is it not Berty no Molly no a girl with red hair comes through the oak trees beautiful loves me puts out her hand kisses me we are kissing become one face floating in air with wings one fused face with wings Turner sunset and this and this and this and this and this WINGbeat and WINGbeat where whirled and well where whirled and well where whirled and well —”

Great Circle, by Conrad Aiken, 1933.
    Pp. 297-298 in paperback published by
    Arbor House, New York, 1984.

For related material, see the poems of Conrad Aiken, the 1947 novel Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, and the 1936 poem “Altarwise by Owl-Light,” by Dylan Thomas, whose birthday is today.

Surrealist postscripts:

The above dream contains a Turner sunset; a critic once called the work of Turner “pictures of nothing.”  For details, see my entry of 8/23.

The time of this entry, 8:28, is a reference to the date, 8/28, of the Feast of St. Augustine, who was puzzled, as many still are, by the nature of time.  For details, see my entry of 8/28.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Saturday August 23, 2003

Filed under: Uncategorized — 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.

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