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THE DAILY PIC: I spotted this 1926 painting by Lowrie Warrener, called Contrasts, Northern Ontario, during a recent visit to the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. (That’s in Canada, for those of you who don’t know what country your mussels come from.) I spent a number of years as an art critic in Toronto and never even heard Warrener’s name. It turns out he was born in Sarnia, in western Ontario, in 1900, and came east to Toronto in 1920 to go to art school, then left the Big Potato to spend a couple of years studying in Europe. He always seems to get described as a follower of the Group of Seven, Canada’s first official avant-garde – which had just gelled when Warrener hit his stride–but this painting seems to declare him a notable talent in his own right, more willing to head out onto the limb of abstraction that most of the G7 were. Seems a shame that, in about 1930, he mostly gave up fine art to concentrate on theater design. I wonder if his sets were as gorgeously painted as this little picture.
The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Sep 23, 2014

THE DAILY PIC: I spotted this 1926 painting by Lowrie Warrener, called Contrasts, Northern Ontario, during a recent visit to the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. (That’s in Canada, for those of you who don’t know what country your mussels come from.) I spent a number of years as an art critic in Toronto and never even heard Warrener’s name. It turns out he was born in Sarnia, in western Ontario, in 1900, and came east to Toronto in 1920 to go to art school, then left the Big Potato to spend a couple of years studying in Europe. He always seems to get described as a follower of the Group of Seven, Canada’s first official avant-garde – which had just gelled when Warrener hit his stride–but this painting seems to declare him a notable talent in his own right, more willing to head out onto the limb of abstraction that most of the G7 were. Seems a shame that, in about 1930, he mostly gave up fine art to concentrate on theater design. I wonder if his sets were as gorgeously painted as this little picture.

The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Posted at 4:00 PM
[Permalink] 17 notes #art  #abstraction 

THE DAILY PIC: I spotted this recent wall-piece by Richard Nonas, called “Crude Thinking”, in his solo show at Fergus McCaffrey gallery in New York. Funny thing is, I saw it with an art-critic friend who finds  this kind of pared-down abstraction too cerebral to have any life, beyond what a critic can give it by dressing it up in fancy words. Whereas my problem with this work – if you can call it a problem – is that it seems too obviously, easily loveable. For me, this is just what art is obviously supposed to look like to give pleasure.
Do you think the difference has anything to do with the fact that my friend came to art a bit later, in the postmodern 1980s and 90s, whereas I happened to be surrounded by late abstraction as a child? We lived a short bike ride from Montreal’s original Museum of Contemporary Art, and Nonas’s work is just what I would see on any given weekend in the early 1970s when my siblings and I would cycle over.
My new theory: Critics, and all aesthetes, imprint, duckling-like, on the first art they come to see; the rest of an aesthetic life is spent either seeking that same familiar pleasure, or trying to find new, less obvious joys that will push you beyond the one that lives deep in your heart. Either way, the childhood conditioning is inescapable.
That’s why I  worry about all the Thomas Kinkades in American homes… (Courtesy Fergus McCaffrey)

Sep 22, 2014

THE DAILY PIC: I spotted this recent wall-piece by Richard Nonas, called “Crude Thinking”, in his solo show at Fergus McCaffrey gallery in New York. Funny thing is, I saw it with an art-critic friend who finds  this kind of pared-down abstraction too cerebral to have any life, beyond what a critic can give it by dressing it up in fancy words. Whereas my problem with this work – if you can call it a problem – is that it seems too obviously, easily loveable. For me, this is just what art is obviously supposed to look like to give pleasure.

Do you think the difference has anything to do with the fact that my friend came to art a bit later, in the postmodern 1980s and 90s, whereas I happened to be surrounded by late abstraction as a child? We lived a short bike ride from Montreal’s original Museum of Contemporary Art, and Nonas’s work is just what I would see on any given weekend in the early 1970s when my siblings and I would cycle over.

My new theory: Critics, and all aesthetes, imprint, duckling-like, on the first art they come to see; the rest of an aesthetic life is spent either seeking that same familiar pleasure, or trying to find new, less obvious joys that will push you beyond the one that lives deep in your heart. Either way, the childhood conditioning is inescapable.

That’s why I  worry about all the Thomas Kinkades in American homes… (Courtesy Fergus McCaffrey)

Posted at 4:00 PM
[Permalink] 21 notes #art  #richard nonas 

THE DAILY PIC: This is “Heart Throb”, from the latest show by Justine Kurland at Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery in New York. The new body of work is (partly) about America’s so-called “love affair” with the car, which in Kurland’s hands becomes as complex a relationship as any real couple could have: There’s real affection, but also MADness (as in, Mutually Assured Destruction). In this photo, the couple have got to the point where they’re dressing the same, but the man’s embrace is also a taking apart. (Turn the picture sideways and they start slow dancing.) Kurland’s subjects have often been sentimental: Her love affair with her little tyke, for instance, and their Rootabaga Story adventures among the trains that made the West. But what’s crucial is that she treats her motifs without sentiment. (Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY)
The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Sep 19, 2014

THE DAILY PIC: This is “Heart Throb”, from the latest show by Justine Kurland at Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery in New York. The new body of work is (partly) about America’s so-called “love affair” with the car, which in Kurland’s hands becomes as complex a relationship as any real couple could have: There’s real affection, but also MADness (as in, Mutually Assured Destruction). In this photo, the couple have got to the point where they’re dressing the same, but the man’s embrace is also a taking apart. (Turn the picture sideways and they start slow dancing.) Kurland’s subjects have often been sentimental: Her love affair with her little tyke, for instance, and their Rootabaga Story adventures among the trains that made the West. But what’s crucial is that she treats her motifs without sentiment. (Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY)

The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.


THE DAILY PIC: Here’s a wonderfully and quietly odd piece called “Double (I)”, from Gordon Hall’s first New York solo, at Foxy Production gallery. It consists of a stool that the artist found (in Madison, Maine, we are told) and then a purified, rectified “copy” of that stool. I feel as though I’ve been presented with several steps on the way to the Platonic ideal. (Plato, of course, talked about a table, but a stool seems a perfectly good stand-in.) The found seat isn’t the lowest possible stool in the Platonic hierarchy: For such a scrappy, casual object, it is jointed with unusual care. Then Hall’s doubled version takes it up a notch, in a modest if unlikely act of worship. (But is that one green edge on the new lumber preserved by Hall out of respect for the original state of the materials, or out of a kind of slacker disregard for perfection?) “Above” both stools there then hovers the diagram that describes them, then above that the pure geometry that defines its shapes, and then much higher up, on some superlunary plain, is God’s ideal of how an X-shaped, Maine-made stool ought to be. (I love the idea of God crowding his mind with such details.)
One other thing Hall’s stools call to mind: That great Saul Steinberg drawing of a hand-sketched cube dreaming of being a ruler-drawn one, and a rigourous one wanting to be wild and wooly. Does Hall’s piece depict stool-envy? (Courtesy the artist and Foxy Production, New York; photo by Mark Woods)
The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Sep 18, 2014

THE DAILY PIC: Here’s a wonderfully and quietly odd piece called “Double (I)”, from Gordon Hall’s first New York solo, at Foxy Production gallery. It consists of a stool that the artist found (in Madison, Maine, we are told) and then a purified, rectified “copy” of that stool. I feel as though I’ve been presented with several steps on the way to the Platonic ideal. (Plato, of course, talked about a table, but a stool seems a perfectly good stand-in.) The found seat isn’t the lowest possible stool in the Platonic hierarchy: For such a scrappy, casual object, it is jointed with unusual care. Then Hall’s doubled version takes it up a notch, in a modest if unlikely act of worship. (But is that one green edge on the new lumber preserved by Hall out of respect for the original state of the materials, or out of a kind of slacker disregard for perfection?) “Above” both stools there then hovers the diagram that describes them, then above that the pure geometry that defines its shapes, and then much higher up, on some superlunary plain, is God’s ideal of how an X-shaped, Maine-made stool ought to be. (I love the idea of God crowding his mind with such details.)

One other thing Hall’s stools call to mind: That great Saul Steinberg drawing of a hand-sketched cube dreaming of being a ruler-drawn one, and a rigourous one wanting to be wild and wooly. Does Hall’s piece depict stool-envy? (Courtesy the artist and Foxy Production, New York; photo by Mark Woods)

The Daily Pic also appears at ArtnetNews.com. For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Posted at 4:00 PM
[Permalink] 15 notes #art  #sculpture  #Gordon Hall 

THEME BY PARTI