I’m not a shrine maker. I try to be minimal.

I don’t line up the fragile souvenirs…they take their chances vulnerable on a common table, things from a purse.

I don’t want to make some piece of crap out of found objects. Pop detritus.

But to pursue some minimalist ideal is absurd. I was born into an increasingly inane consumerist domesticity. I haven’t a bushman’s notion of doing without, and to do without flourish for the sake of art is more absurdity.

Sometimes I cannot resist a a clumsy flourish though I know I’ll be clumsy. Or I protect a flaw, arbitrary. But it doesn’t matter. I weigh less than a jpeg tonight in this solitude, this room.


…the French tradition known as Intimism, which coincides with the rise of middle-class life as the cultural norm and runs (roughly) from Chardin in the eighteenth century to Bonnard, Vuillard and Matisse in the early twentieth. It assumes that the ordinary, day-to-day relationships of an artists domestic life-his family, his parlor, his cook, his cat, the almond tree that can be seen in flower if you crane your neck a little bit to the left of the studio window on this particular day in early May-is deeply interesting as a subject for painting. Not because it is lent grandeur by being part of the stage of an artists life-that kind of egotistical silliness is quite alien to the Intimist tradition-but rather because it shows that life obliquely, in its ordinary quality, just like yours or mine, and then slightly transcends its comommonplaceness, thus giving us hope of meaning, by analogy, in our lives.

Hence, Intimism shuns the grandiose. It argues, without getting polemical about it, that painting can reasonably leave the demands of public declamation-the world of David or Gericaults Raft of the Medusa, of Ingress Apotheosis of Homer or Picassos Guernica or, in our day, the reflections of Kiefer on German romanticism and German guilt – out of the picture. It has no need for allegory or moralizing. It wants to get one thing right at a time. The subjects of the artist are all around him, in his private life. Quite a small corner of that life can be enough. The scale is rarely big because you dont need bombast – in the Intimist context all heroics look forced and the merits are closeness of feeling, modesty of scale, and a witty accuracy about place and character. Intimism likes the interior view. It is apt to see the world from inside the house, through a window – a frame within the frame. Objects tend to take on the role of characters, which appear over and over again: the dusty bottles and rustling bouquets of paper flowers in Morandis studio, the striped wallpaper in Vuillards sitting room, Matisses curly black iron balcony, the funny little dachshund on his mat in Bonnards bathroom. By the same token, people have the permanence of objects: Bonnards wife, Vuillards invalid aunt.“

from some magazine conversation online…

You go to the Louvre, and there are so many people in front of the “Mona Lisa“ you can barely see it. Some of that has to do with fame, of course. But ultimately that fame is the result of people over centuries of time finding something of value in that work. The new museologists and the new art historians like to make all sorts of complicated arguments about how Leonardo only came out on top because of some political strategy that’s been perpetuated. But you go to the Louvre and you see those people standing there, and you see the painting yourself, and you just say no.

No one’s holding a gun to the heads of the people looking at that painting. I’ve always found that people who make the argument that everything is at base political are people for whom that’s true. What I quarrel with is their insistence that that’s true for me, let alone in a cosmic sense. In your view, is that what these new approaches represent — people for whom politics is always paramount?

These are people for whom politics is an end in itself. They often seem to be people who just can’t enjoy a thing in itself.

Harold Bloom identifies himself as a lefty, but he makes a similar argument — that the deconstructionists who have taken over literary studies are people who really don’t like literature or art. What they really like is power and politics.

I would agree with Bloom. I think similar thoughts when I see collectors who spend tons of money on work that’s simply no fun to look at. There are people who fill their houses with work — some of which is little more than propaganda — work that’s meant simply to make a statement that you can understand almost instantly. It’s like filling your house with posters. It doesn’t have anything to do with the enjoyment of looking at something. It seems to have to do with the desire to feel as though you’re supporting the points of view embodied in the work. I have no trouble with people enjoying politics. I’m very engaged in politics myself. But politics and art are two very different things and to confuse them is very dangerous for both.


~ by Rocky Green on April 11, 2008.

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