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In 1950, Hans Namuth asked artist Jackson Pollock... | Blog—Jarrett Fuller
"[video: "Jackson Pollock by Hans Namuth" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cgBvpjwOGo ]

In 1950, Hans Namuth asked artist Jackson Pollock to take photographs of him painting his now famous drip technique. Unsatisfied with the results as they didn’t capture the energy of the paintings, Namuth returned and filmed video footage of Pollock in action. The result is a ten-minute filmed titled Jackson Pollock 51. Watching Pollock’s focus and intensity is fascinating as he produces his seemingly random paintings. I’m reminded of John Berger’s essay on Pollock, where he writes:
What is their content, their meaning? A well-known museum curator, who I saw in the gallery, said ‘They are so meaningful.’ But this, of course, was an example of the way in which qualitative words are now foolishly and constantly stood on their heads as everybody commandeers the common vocabulary for their unique and personal usage. These pictures are meaningless. But the way in which they are so is significant.

I think Pollocks on view of his work offers a profound insight into their significance:
When I am painting I have a general notion as to what I am about. I can control the flow of the paint. There is no accident, just as there is no beginning and no end. Sometimes I lose a painting but I have no fear of changes, of destroying the image. Because a painting has a life of it’s own, I try to let it live.
johnberger  jacksonpollock  jarrettfuller  meaning  process  art  hansnumuth  1950  content  significance 
january 2017 by robertogreco
A Smuggling Operation: John Berger’s Theory of Art - Los Angeles Review of Books
"EARLY IN HIS CAREER, John Berger’s weekly art criticism for the New Statesman provoked outraged letters and public condemnation. Once, the British Council issued a formal apology to Henry Moore because Berger had suggested his latest work showed a decline. Nor was the hostility limited to such comic passive-aggression. Berger’s politics were deemed so objectionable that his publisher was compelled to withdraw his first novel, A Painter of Our Time (1958), from circulation.

At 90, Berger is harvesting a sudden flowering of praise. It is well deserved. For more than half a century, he has been our greatest art critic — as well as a superior novelist, a poet, and the star and screenwriter of one of the best art documentaries ever made, Ways of Seeing. Most of the writers currently rushing to canonize him, however, avoid dwelling on the heart of Berger’s point of view — his Marxism. No doubt avoiding this disfavored topic makes eulogy easier, but it reminds me of something Berger wrote about Frederick Antal: “the importance of his Marxism tends to be underestimated. In a curious way this is probably done out of respect for him: as though to say ‘He was brilliant despite that — so let’s charitably forget it.’ Yet, in fact, to do this is to deny all that Antal was.” To make such a denial about Berger should no longer be possible after the publication of Landscapes: John Berger on Art.

Landscapes and its companion volume, Portraits: John Berger on Artists (Verso, 2015), are the best summation to date of Berger’s career as a critic. Both volumes were edited by Tom Overton. In Portraits, Overton made selections from decades of essays on the whole historical gamut of art, from the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux to the work of 33-year-old Randa Mdah, and organized them chronologically into a history and appraisal of the art of painting. To read it was to be reminded of Berger’s unique virtues: the clarity of his writing, the historical and technical erudition of his insight, and above all his unique focus on each artist’s way of looking. What Landscapes in turn makes clear, through its assemblage of more programmatic pieces — book reviews, manifestos, autobiography — is that Berger is a rigorous thinker with a theory of art. That theory evolved considerably between the 1950s and the 2010s. Yet two threads hold it together with the tenacity of spider silk: a critique of the political economy of art and a sophisticated account of its human value, each rooted in a committed but elastic Marxism.

A Marxist art criticism of any real subtlety has to be elastic, because it must deal with a problem Marx himself diagnosed but failed to solve. Berger puts it like this:
A question which Marx posed but could not answer: If art in the last analysis is a superstructure of an economic base, why does its power to move us endure long after the base has been transformed? Why, asked Marx, do we still look towards Greek art as an ideal? He began to answer the question […] and then broke off the manuscript and was far too occupied ever to return to the question.

Berger takes up the thread where Marx broke off. He is not, of course, the first Marxist to address the question of art, and he is familiar with most of those who tried before him, sorting through and furthering their legacy.

The most famous of Berger’s influences, Walter Benjamin, wrote the essay “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” from which came most of the ideas in Berger’s documentary, Ways of Seeing. But Landscapes reveals that his most important influence as a practicing art critic was Max Raphael.

Raphael, an undeservedly obscure theorist, located the value of art in the activity of the artist. According to him, an artist performs two operations. On the one hand, the artist turns raw material into artistic material by shaping it to represent an idea or an object; this is true both of Michelangelo shaping a block of marble into David and of Jackson Pollock embodying the rhythms of jazz in drip paintings. On the other, the artist turns his perception into something external and objective, a representation. The work of art is the result of these two transformations, of raw stuff and of subjective perception into an art object. For Raphael, the point of art is these two transformations: they are the artist’s way of “undoing the world of things” and constructing “the world of values.”

So Raphael’s answer to Marx’s problem — why is art enduringly moving even though it merely reflects its social context? — is to say that art doesn’t merely reflect its social context. It does reflect it, because the artist’s material, style, the things they want to represent, even the way they see, are historically conditioned; but it doesn’t merely reflect it, because the transformed material speaks of something deeper and more voluntary. It speaks of humanity’s ability to make its own world, to become the subject and not merely the victim of history. “The function of the work of art,” Berger sums up Raphael, “is to lead us from the work to the process of creation which it contains.”

Anyone familiar with Berger’s own writing will sit up with a shock of recognition. Here is a theory of art directly correlated to his practice of criticism. Berger takes art out of the sanitizing temples where we store it and drops it firmly back onto the easel, in a messy studio, where a sweaty artist bites her lip and stores her way of looking in an object. Over and over again, he asks us to imagine the artist at work. Many have attributed this to his own training as a painter, which might have inspired his fascination with technique, as I, an amateur pianist, am fascinated by the technique of my favorite recording artists. But I think his admiring discussion of Raphael suggests a much deeper reason. If Berger believes that the most important meaning of art is what it shows us of our ability to create the world we want, it turns out that his criticism is connected to his Marxism much more fundamentally than through the borrowing of a few insights from Walter Benjamin.

For Berger, art criticism is a revolutionary practice. It prepares the ground for a new society. In Landscapes, Overton includes a translation by Berger and Anya Rostock of a poem by Bertolt Brecht. It includes this passage:
Yet how to begin? How to show
The living together of men
That it may be understood
And become a world that can be mastered?
How to reveal not only yourselves and others
Floundering in the net
But also make clear how the net of fate
Is knotted and cast,
Cast and knotted by men?
[…] only he who knows that the fate of man is man
Can see his fellow men keenly with accuracy.

How to begin? Berger answers: In art. There we find proof and prophecy of a different world. In another essay, he writes:
We can no longer “use” most paintings today as they were intended to be used: for religious worship, for celebrating the wealth of the wealthy, for immediate political enlightenment, for proving the romantic sublime, and so on. Nevertheless, painting is especially well suited to developing the very faculty of understanding which has rendered its earlier uses obsolete: that is to say, to developing our historical and evolutionary self-consciousness.

This is the promise, the positive function of art. By looking at it, we are, in effect, looking through an artist’s eyes, entering into a concretized instance of their gaze. We are looking at a looking. And from within an artist’s looking, we learn about the capacities of our kind and the possibilities of our future: “A classical Greek sculpture increases our awareness of our own potential physical dignity; a Rembrandt of our potential moral courage; a Matisse of our potential sensual awareness.”

At the same time, Berger is of the opinion that the modern history of art is a history of failure. He won’t compromise on this point, and it is undoubtedly the reason for the stiff resistance that he has often met.

In modern times, Berger believes, the art world has hosted a titanic battle between two conceptions of art. One conception declares that art is valuable because it bodies forth the vision of an artist; it is a good in itself just to the degree that it succeeds at this task. This is Berger’s conception, and it is large enough to embrace all the varying and contradictory proclamations and provocations of the successive factions of modern art. The other conception declares that art is valuable because it is expensive — that, fundamentally, art is property:
Since 1848 every artist unready to be a mere paid entertainer has tried to resist the bourgeoisation of his finished work, the transformation of the spiritual value of his work into property value. This regardless of his political opinions as such. […] What Constructivism, Dadaism, Surrealism, and so on, all shared was their opposition to art-as-property and art-as-a-cultural-alibi-for-existing-society. We know the extremes to which they went […] and we see that their resistance was […] ineffective.

In other words, artists, like all other workers, are victims of a capitalism that alienates them from the fruit of their labor. Berger has nothing but scorn for the commercialization of art: “If you could fuck works of art as well as buy them,” he writes, dealers “would be pimps: but, if that were the case, one might assume a kind of love; as it is they dream of money and honour.” Everything about the modern art world is constructed on the assumption that art is precious in proportion to its price. Even among those who profess a genuine love of art, that passion is often tainted by its ideological function:
A love of art has been a useful concept to the European ruling classes for over a century and a half. The love was said to be their own. With it they could claim kinship with the civilisations of … [more]
johnberger  2017  robertminto  marxism  art  artists  artcriticism  criticism  henrymoore  politics  waysofseeing  frederickantal  tomoverton  economics  walterbenjamin  raphael  jacksonpollock  michelangelo  elitism  anyarostock  bertoltbrecht  process  craftsmanship  arthistory  resistance  constuctivism  dadaism  surrealism  property  society  culture  ownership  beauty  aesthetics  museums  artappreciation  creativity  creation  praxis  canon  objects  mystique  products  action  achievement  making  wealth  ideology  consumerism  consumption 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Twitter
A “big, brassy gigolo of a painting”.

JacksonPollock  DMA  from twitter
january 2016 by amymabli
A computer can tell real Jackson Pollocks from fakes » Smithsonian
Laura Clark:
<a href="http://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/themes/abstract-expressionism/the-processes-and-materials-of-abstract-expressionist-painting">according to many connoisseurs</a>, critics and fakers don’t give the painter enough credit. There are indeed complexities to Pollock's drip art that show it to be the genuine article. And now there’s a computer program helping to make a science out of the deciphering.

The software uses “computational methods to characterize the low-level numerical differences between original Pollock drip paintings and drip paintings done by others attempting to mimic this signature style,” says Inderscience Publishers. You give it a scan of the possible Pollock, and the program goes to work extracting 4024 numerical image descriptors that the human eye would have trouble deciphering as accurately.


I guess we have to add "art authenticator" to the list of white-collar jobs that computers will wipe out in time.
art  jacksonpollock  algorithm 
february 2015 by charlesarthur
Wired 14.07: What Kind of Genius Are You?
"A new theory suggests that creativity comes in two distinct types – quick and dramatic, or careful and quiet."



"Which leads to the second gap. Consider the word genius. “Since the Renaissance, genius has been associated with virtuosos who are young.

The idea is that you’re born that way – it’s innate and it manifests itself very young,” Galenson says. But that leaves the vocabulary of human possibility incomplete. “Who’s to say that Virginia Woolf or Cézanne didn’t have an innate quality that simply had to be nourished for 40 or 50 years before it bloomed?” The world exalts the young turks – the Larrys and the Sergeys, the Picassos and the Samuelsons. And it should. We need those brash, certain, paradigm-busting youthful conceptualists. We should give them free rein to do bold work and avoid saddling them with rules and bureaucracy.

But we should also leave room for those of us who have, er, avoided peaking too early, whose most innovative days may lie ahead. Nobody would have heard of Jackson Pollock had he died at 31. But the same would be true had Pollock given up at 31. He didn’t. He kept at it. We need to look at that more halting, less certain fellow and perhaps not write him off too early, give him a chance to ride the upward curve of middle age.

Of course, not every unaccomplished 65-year-old is some undiscovered experimental innovator. This is a universal theory of creativity, not a Viagra for sagging baby boomer self-esteem. It’s no justification for laziness or procrastination or indifference. But it might bolster the resolve of the relentlessly curious, the constantly tinkering, the dedicated tortoises undaunted by the blur of the hares. Just ask David Galenson.

Conceptualists

Many geniuses peak early, creating their masterwork at a tender age ...

LITERATURE: The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Age 29

PAINTING: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
Pablo Picasso
Age 26

FILMMAKING: Citizen Kane
Orson Welles
Age 26

ARCHITECTURE: The Vietnam War Memorial
Maya Lin
Age 23

MUSIC: The Marriage of Figaro
Wolfgang Mozart
Age 30

Experimentalists

... while others bloom late, doing their best work after lifelong tinkering.

LITERATURE: Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
Age 50

PAINTING: Château Noir
Paul Cézanne
Age 64

FILMMAKING: Vertigo
Alfred Hitchcock
Age 59

ARCHITECTURE: Fallingwater
Frank Lloyd Wright
Age 70

MUSIC: Symphony No. 9
Ludwig van Beethoven
Age 54"
latebloomers  creativity  genius  via:litherland  danielpink  conceptualists  experimentation  experimentalists  persistence  fscottfitzgerald  jacksonpollock  pablopicasso  orsonwelles  mayalin  wolfgangmozart  marktwain  cézanne  alfredhitchcock  franklloydwright  beethoven  davidgaleson 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Why We Love Beautiful Things by Lance Hosey (NYT, 2/15/2013)
If designers understood more about the mathematics of attraction, the mechanics of affection, all design could both look good and be good for you.
lancehosey  beauty  jacksonpollock  design  rtkl  goldenratio 
february 2013 by davidkoren
When Brian Eno met Ha-Joon Chang | Music | The Guardian
"Brian Eno: There's an issue we're both interested in – this middle ground between control and chaos. Some economists say you can only have a control model or a chaos model, that you're either a socialist or it's all about the free market. Whereas you say: "Let's find a place in between."

This happens to be an issue with the music I make. It's made for a place somewhere between architecture and gardening. It's not a situation where I'm finessing every tiny detail. I basically set a process in motion and then watch it happen. A lot of the design work is prior to the thing starting, rather than trying to keep control of it once it has started. You try to design the process carefully enough so you get the results you want and don't have to intervene. …

Ha-Joon Chang:… Central planners thought they could control everything, but there are always elements of uncertainty and surprise… The illusion that this rule-less system can organise itself has been proven completely mistaken – but we still have people wanting to believe in these extremes. …

…our black and white, dichotomous way of thinking…has really been harmful…

BE: … It turns out that anything that is called free anything isn't really. It's just constraints that you don't recognise. …

This turns out to be something that happens a lot. Once you've grown to accept something and it becomes part of the system you've inherited, you don't even notice it any longer. We don't even think that not employing children is anti-free market.



HJC: … if you try to create a world in which everything is driven by money and the market, the world will be a much poorer place.

… Human beings' capacity to "waste time" is a miracle – but that's exactly what art is for. …"

BE: It's not only money, it's also other forms of accountability. Look at education in this country. I've just had two daughters go through the system here, and nothing mattered at all, as long as they could get through their A-levels. It doesn't matter if you don't actually understand a word. I could see some of their friends who were good at remembering things, but had no clue at all about what they were talking about, who got A stars.

HJC: In that system, curiosity is actually a great disadvantage. Which means that any creativity gets lost

BE: It's to do with the act of quantification. It's part of the money thing: something that you can put a figure to immediately assumes a sort of authority, even if it doesn't deserve it.

… Quantification is a big temptation for society because it looks like control. …

BE: … Tom Wolfe says something in his book The Painted Word about how four curators, 12 collectors and six critics determine an artist's career. Something like that.

This is why the art world has such incredible inertia, because once those people have invested their highly important opinion in something, they're very unwilling to change it. Whereas if you've bought an album by a band but then you don't like their second one, you just say, fuck it, the second one isn't any good. …

HJC: … we used to call them tempura shop records – it sounded as if someone was deep-frying them.

BE: Nearly everything good starts from imitation.

HJC: It's actually a good illustration of how art can be done in a very non-hierarchical way. The success of this guy, Psy, is because he didn't try to protect his work too much: he let everyone copy and create their own versions. So you have versions with Voldemort from Harry Potter ... my children are hooked on finding Matrix versions. Some are actually brilliant!

BE: It's a brilliant idea to make something that, like a module, can be plugged into any part of the culture.

Culture does change the way we think, just not in the propagandistic way. Art can be a model of how otherwise something could be done. How else it could be? When you see a piece of art, and you think, "Wow, that's wonderful", part of you wants to know, "And how did it get to be that way? Ah, it got to be that way by that mechanism. This is how it's done."

[…]

And very often a work of art is a way of looking at the outcomes of an idea. It's very clear in novels – in fact, the most clear example is in science fiction: you describe a world, and you try to describe how if things were like that, they would turn out. That "what if?" question is a central question that makes human beings successful creatures. We are capable of saying what if this, and what if that, and comparing those outcomes. We love that question, and art is one of the ways we keep rehearsing our ability to answer it.

HJC: It's a great point. The problem is more with the way people think and not the content of it. Human beings are very prone to this black-and-white dichotomous thinking, so if you're a socialist country you allow no market and squash any dissent, if you're a capitalist country you're supposed to – although in fact, many countries don't – you're supposed to put profit and economic growth before any human values. But paradoxically, these two ways of thinking are the same, in the sense that they have this one grand principle to which they are willing to sacrifice everything. This is why when many communists give up communism, they become ardent free-market supporters.

BE: It's a cliche: the ex-Trot.

HJC: I know quite a few ex-Trots who work in the IMF. So if you understand art in the same way Brian does, it gives you the ability to think about alternatives, think about possibilities.

BE: It allows you to think about uncertainty. One of the characteristics of people, whether on the left or the right, is that they can't tolerate uncertainty. They don't want a system with any leaks in it. They want to think they're capable of battening everything down – and if only people would fucking stick to the rules, it would work. When those systems don't work, it's always because, in their opinion, somebody didn't play the game correctly.

HJC: Yes, it's never their principles that are wrong, it's the people who are the problem."

[So much more…]
creativity  tomwolfe  capitalism  socialism  dichotomy  values  pussyriot  games  rules  jacksonpollock  ex-trots  imf  modular  modularity  imitation  gangnamstyle  k-pop  artworld  inertia  culture  us  uk  a-levels  testing  quantification  time-wasting  wastedtime  inbetweeness  ambiguity  gray  grayarea  psy  interviews  conversations  2012  surprise  paradox  architecture  economics  ha-joonchang  politics  philosophy  music  uncertainty  brianeno  art  terryriley  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco

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