Blackpaint 26


Jean Francois Lyotard thought that the age of “Grand Narratives” was at an end;  the late 20th century and beyond, there would be the age of  little narratives.  So, no more Nation, Empire, bloc – from now (then) on, neighbourhood, tribe, cult, family, individual.  Historically wrong, then; Global Warming, War on Terror are both Grand Narratives, even if they are illusory or misnomers.

As far as art goes, however, it seems to me he was right – it’s all fragmentation, no great Movements, absolute truths.  He divided art into “Figural” – based on emotion, immediate reaction, shock, irrationality – and “Discursive” – rational, intellectual, narrative – and “privileged” (awful transformation of adjective to verb) the visual over the written.  the meaning of “figural” art?  Whatever the viewer sees/thinks/says.

So Lyotard is my man; my stuff is Figural and means whatever thr viewer wants it to mean (it may of course be Discursive too, if anyone reads something interesting, or appealing,  into it).  More Postmodernism from “Art Theory for Beginners tomorrow.

“Intensely Dutch”

I got this fantastic book for Christmas, full of staggering, beautiful abstract and figurative Dutch artists of late 20th century (with de Kooning included; fair enough, I suppose).  The colours are enough to burn into your brain, and the names are good too – Jaap Wagemaker, Wim Oepts, Jaap Nanninga, as well as Appel, Constant and deK.

“100 Contemporary Artists”

My other Christmas book, a big 2 volume Taschen, has more up- to- date artists.  I prefer the painters, and going by Lyotard’s dictum, picked out the following on the basis of immediate visual reaction (i.e. without reading the notes):  Cecily Brown, whose surfaces and colours reminded me immediately of de Kooning’s; Andre Butzer, ditto for Jorn and Guston; and John Currin, whose “Rotterdam 2006” can hardly fail to have a Figural effect – check it out, as the young people say.  The girls on the opposite page in “the Old Fence” are like something by Lucas Cranach, I think.  Then there is the great Marlene Dumas, with her ugly/beautiful, smeary pictures of dead women, pole dancers and creepy little girls with hands dripping blood.  And Peter Doig, of course, canoes, stars, jungles, uniforms…  Volume 2, I – Z tomorrow.

Propaganda Art

A few blogs back, I was rambling on about art and propaganda and said that only propaganda for or by “the oppressed” was likely to produce any decent art; propaganda on behalf of the powers-that-be – Socialist Realism, Nazi art – was likely to be laughable, or sinister, or both (depending on the distance of the viewer from the Power that Be’s).

This sounds like the sort of thing George Orwell would say, only much better, of course; however, what about the following?

Republican posters in the Spanish Civil War (I’m thinking of Miro, for example); Rodchenko’s posters for various Soviet Government ventures in Bolshevik Russia; murals and other art produced under the auspices of the WPA in 30s USA; murals produced in Mexico and elsewhere by Rivera and Orozco.


Listening to Steeleye Span, Bedlam Boys.

“Still we sing bonny boys, bonny mad boys,

Bedlam boys are bonny,

For they all go bare and they live by the air,

And they want no bread nor money”.

Just finished reading “Bartholomew Fair” by Ben Jonson, and was totally lost by the last 30 pages – as many characters as “And Quiet Flows the Don” and full of 17th century London slang.



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One Response to “Blackpaint 26”

  1. 2010 in review « Blackpaint's Blog Says:

    […] Blackpaint 26 January 2010 4 […]

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