i'm hardly any good for a well formulated entry right now. that is, my stable, refined observations are bound for other places: readings for an upcoming exhibition we need to plan, a lecture in TX, articles for everywhere, catalogue essays (didn't you hear? U.turn is going to produce catalogues now and again. and i think they are going to be beautiful!). but there is such a nice array of bits worth considering, that they may as well be plotted here.
maybe a year ago, my brother lent me his copy of All About Eve. Films are weird creatures; i trust my instincts about when to watch them. When i have trudged forward with heeding my quiet compass, the effects can be disastrous. I woke several days ago and decided that it was the right time to commit to the film. No doubt entire courses can be and have been taught about this eloquent, humorous, sensuous film. Bette Davis is a revelation. The script is unceasingly poetic. The issues- agism, trust, obsession- are timeless and relevant. the two couples that are moored in the center of the story remind me, oddly, of the Ricardos and the Mertzes, in Lucille Ball's madcap I Love Lucy, just at a different level of antics. I was struck by their fluctuating loyalties, how it seemed in the end, all they wanted or needed was each other, but how they each proved willing to act against one another when stressed to a certain point.
i think there are few actresses today who would let themselves occupy a role the way Davis did. Puffy eyes, frizzy hair, pushed to a place that could only parallel her and her contemporaries' careers. i thought she was stunning, as i know that many also do.
and maybe it is the black and white, and my rereading of Jed Perl's Antoine's Alphabet, but I've been spending more time with the drawings of Aubrey Beardsley than i ever have. his debt to Watteau is incalculable, but in particular, he is one of several important contributors to the characterization of the Pierrot character, in whom i take great interest.
particularly, this drawing The Death of Pierrot (which could very well be a title for an exhibition or artwork in my future) is a remarkable illustration. if only you could see a crisper version. the drawings at this point in Beardsley's career began to include dotted lines to create lighter marks. the effect is to make parts of Pierrot, even his clothing draped across the chair, start to seem invisible beside the more solid visitors to his bedside.
I could not do better than to recount a bit of Perl's text here: "I have read about a Romantic-Pierrot, a Lunar-Pierrot, and a Watteau-Pierrot, each of which describes some artistic variation on the original Pierrot, the slapstick Pierrot of the old commedia dell-arte. The hyphenations suggest how difficult it is to describe variations on this comic in the floppy white suit, for the scholars can't seem to help but become jugglers of meanings, much as the artists are. Pierrot becomes a romantic poet, a figure as elusive as a moonbeam, or an eighteenth-century gallant. The literary critic Frederick Karl describes a Dandiacal-Pierrot line that runs through modern literature, which thus connects Pierrot with an attitude of artistic detachment, at once witty and aloof and snobbish and austere, so that Baudelaire turns out to be a sort of Pierrot. Karl, however, draws the line at Proust, whom other people see as very much the Pierrot. I get a kick out of the loopiness of these scholarly arguments. It's superble brrainy conversation. There is a pleasing madness to all the hyphenated meanings, as if the scholars themselves were getting a little drunk on the possibilities of Pierrot."
On the Back of a Hurricane (for Rudolf de Crignis), 2008
Blue monochrome, blue plastic shopping bag mounted on panel
12 x 12 inches
Yesterday i had the pleasure of sitting at semantics gallery for some of the hours we are open on saturday. it was the last day of Touch Faith, a dense group exhibition organized by Jeff Cortland Jones that looks at various practitioners that use abstraction and painting to varying amounts and diverse innovation. Near the very end of the day, our last visitors came in and spent a respectable amount of time with every artwork in the exhibition. A small jewel of a piece by Lori Larusso (a favorite of mine as well) seemed to be the standout for them. But, with eager interest, they asked me which piece I liked most. To be sure, there are many works in the space that i really admire. But a monochrome work by Matthew Deleget on display in the back gallery (see blue piece above) has been strikingly beautiful and humble throughout the month. Yesterday it only improved on my experience of it. The blue is not paint, but actually an everyday material, isolated so that its color and the simple embossed patterning of its plastic surface function aesthetically. i've been finding every opportunity to reinforce a position of the everyday, real, functional world offering immense resources for the research of aesthetics. i hope to get to know Deleget better.
obviously, there is more. if you haven't read Molly Donnermeyer's essay about Lady Gaga's relationship to Hitchcockian imagery and characters, do so soon. Listen to Fame Monster. Watch Jewelry Television. And stop by Brighton next Saturday evening for openings at semantics and U.turn!