Saturday, May 05, 2007

Strolling through Artopolis: Part Three

Gerhard Marcks (1889-1991)
Woman with Apple, 1948, 23"

Marcks is one of my favorite 20th C. sculptors
- which probably coincides with the fact that he's occasionally available
to be seen in American museums.

Here's a figure made the year I was born.

"Woman with Apple" ?

Why doesn't he just call her "Eve"?

It's funny how traditional Christian iconography
appears even when it hasn't been summoned.

This is the fullness,
and the relaxed elegance
that gives me so much pleasure

Pierre Fournier Des Corats (1883-1953)

There's less pleasure for me in this piece,
but I'm inspired to try something like it,
a large, 50" sculpture
that's more like a deep relief.

These are the bronze versions of
the stone sculpture carved for the mansion of
William Randolph Hearst mansion in San Simeon Cal.

They represent Summer and Winter

(and I wonder whether Patty Hearst grew up with them)

I like this view..

but not this one -
it somehow feels less like a figure sculpture
and more like a clumsy piece of furniture

Pierre-Marie Poisson ( 1876-1953)
Allegory of Maritime Commerce
maquette for sculpture commissioned
for the Ocean Line La Normandie, 1935

I suppose that decorative and fine-art sculpture
are supposed to be kept distinct from each other
.. but I don't know why

(and over the passage of time,
doesn't that distinction disappear ?)

Poisson was a leading decorative sculptor
of his day,
and I have a lot more
of this kind of work on
my website

Cecile (or Madeleine) Lalande Dutemple (1910-1942) - Eve , 1937

I'm not sure that this life size piece deserves all this attention,
but this poor sculptor,
a pupil of Chlana Orloff , died so young,and this is her only documented, exhibited work.

I 'm also not sure
whether its fine finish
should be more attributed
to the foundry than to her.

But it certainly got my attention,
and what else is sculpture for ?

Hugo Robus ,1885-1964, 16", --" Young Girl (shy) "1951
(drawing in background by Francis-Marie Martinez Picabia, c 1941)

Like the piece before,
it's not that I like this so much as
its oddness seems to hold my attention

as something from one of the possible civilizations that
America might have become but didn't

..reminding us of the tragic story of The Sculpture Center ,
which began as a well-equipped working space
for sculptors in midtown Manhattan
(Hugo Robus worked there)
but was hi-jacked by its board of directors in 2002
and transformed into a gallery of contemporary art in Long Island City.

Robus - Spirit of Youth, 1931

Why do these pieces feel so Japanese ?

They seem so well made,
but so tangential to what might interest me

Joseph Cszaky (1888- 1971 ) " Mother and Child", 1927

Here's a Hungarian who joined the first generation
of Cubist sculptors in Paris.

In my alternate narrative of art history,
cubism - like Bolshevism -
was one of the disasters of the 20th C.

But Cszaky's figures still feel human,
and very appealing,
to me

(note: the above sculptures (except for the Marcks)
were all shown by the
Martin Du Louvre gallery from Paris,
which also provided a relatively
thorough history of the artist and the piece.
I certainly hope they return to Artopolis next year)

Amer Kobaslija ( b. 1975 - Serbia) "Janitor's closet II", 2007 , 93" X 72"

I love a neat, clean space (to visit!)
but I'm more comfortable
living and working in chaos,

and there's an entire school of
contemporary painting
that seems devoted to the formal redemption
of my living habits.

This is the latest -- and so far -- the largest
example of that distinguished endeavor,
combining a ripe sense of disorder
with an uneasy sense of vertigo.

I love it !

Max Weber (1881-1961) , 1907, 16"

I hate Max Weber,
I hate Cubism,
I hate abstract expressionism,
and I hate the grandfathers,
fathers, and children of that disaster called Contemporary American art.

But I like this painting,
done when Weber was 25,
living in Paris,
hanging out with the avant garde,
and painting like Cezanne.

He had an eye for beauty,
but unfortunately he soon discovered
that it had nothing to do with art.

David Hockney, portrait, 2003

There was a wall full of Hockney line drawing portraits,
illuminated by some strange yellow light,
that didn't work well with my camera.

But they're fine drawings anyway,
with a delicious sense of design.

Hockney is a somewhat controversial figure
in the world of drawing
because he's suggested that the old masters
used a camera obscura to aid in their optical realism.

This has greatly exercised
the gentle folk at the Art Renewal Center
for whom such realism is a necessary (and objective!)
condition for excellence in the fine arts.

But I think that these drawings
(and all drawings)
can do quite well without it.
(or despite it)


Blogger Robert said...

Kathe Kollwitz "Rest in the peace of his hands"

Pierre Fournier Des Corats

Just a quick comparison of these two sculptures Chris. What I like so much about the second one is the contrast in texture between flesh and the rest. This is where Prince Paul Troubetzkoy is so successful. In the Kollwitz work that contrast between face, hands v clothing is not there. To say therefore that it becomes ordinary is perhaps unkind as the works deserves more.

As for Hockney and the Art renewal war well...
I will be honest I have not seen any convincing work from Hockney, in that I haven’t seen his skill and draftsman ship. He is "of an age" with which I am at odds. He is just wrong! His art does absolutely nothing for me. As for Art Renewal they have a right to speak up too. I enjoy a good scrap but I take the middle ground which maybe boring until I change and surprise everyone by being irrational! Art Renewal needs to be broader to have my full support. They need to exist, they are a great asset. If you have to have a "left" then you must have a "right".

I like to see real hard work, where it is clear that the artist has laboured hard and achieved exactly what he wanted, nothing left to chance. Flashes of brilliance by luck have to be produced consistently to carry weight for me. Beethoven v Mozart and Hochney is no Mozart!

Forgive the lack of blogging, very busy at present!

May 09, 2007  
Blogger Conrad H. Roth said...

Hey, I hate Weber too! I read his book, thinking it was the Max Weber--maybe an interesting sociological angle on art?--but no, just a series of pseudo-mystical platitudes about art, like a much worse Kandinsky.

May 09, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

Now there's someone about whom we can agree - Count Troubetzkoy -- but I don't remember him contrasting textures like Des Corats -- maybe you need to show me some more of his pieces.

With him -- I don't recall flesh contrasted with cloth -- I just see a lot of brush strokes (clay strokes?) like Sargent/Sorolla were doing in their paintings.

But all of the above are light hearted compared with Kollwitz.

Grief can be a wonderful thing
(as long as it's someone else doing the grieving !)

Regarding Hockney -- I guess we'll have to disagree -- since I think he can make drawings that feel both convincing (as portraits) and enjoyable. (like the portraits in St. Vitale . Do you like those ?

Regarding "lucky flashes of brilliance" versus "hard work" -- I'm afraid that yet again -- we have to disagree --- since I am fundamentally a butterfly rather than an ant -- and there's nothing I admire more than luck (a sign of being in tune with the universe)

Do you really think that Count Troubetzkoy felt that he was working very hard ?

I imagine that he woke up in his hotel at about about noon -- chatted with fellow emigres all afternoon at the local cafe, and wandered over to the studio when he felt like modeling instead of talking.

May 11, 2007  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

“Woman” set with “apple” is a summoning, I think… just as two bits of wood set akilter make a cross, or “woman” set with “pomegranate” summons Persephone. One would have to be weak-minded indeed not to know that, so I’m sure he did. But “woman” offering an apple is more sweeping that Eve offering an apple—“woman” includes Eve in a great, generalized category.

The Robus piece reminds me of netsuke somehow—the curve of neck and head, the incised-looking lines, the emphasis on a mood? Something.

Robert's comment reminds me that something I love so much is that sense of offhanded elegance. But you know, it doesn't matter to the work of art whether it really was offhanded elegance or the illusion of offhanded elegance.

May 24, 2007  

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