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Pretentious art writing

Kent Wang

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I find the text accompanying a lot of modern art quite hilarious. For example:



Jo Baer
Horizontals Tiered (Vertical Diptych)
1966
Oil and synthetic resin on canvas
132.1 cm x 182.9 cm (52 in. x 72 in.)
Gift of Mari and James A. Michener, 1968

Collector James Michener bought this spare, two-part painting during his first visit to the studio Jo Baer shared with her husband at that time, painter John Wesley. Richard Bellamy, a young New York gallerist who had a sharp eye for new talent, served as guide on these scouting excursions, a crucial part of Michener's process of selecting works. Baer's work was notably forward-thinking for its time. She was committed to a rigorously formal approach to abstract painting: her interest was in the visual qualities of the work-its composition, surface, the relationship of depicted space to line and form-rather than in any implied meaning or message. Her aim was to create a painting that emphasized its frontal plane in a way that would echo the wall behind it, suggesting the architectural character of the painting's shape. Indeed, the work echoes its own edges with its two interior border markings, and even replicates itself in two panels, yet it denies any allusion to a window, the conventional association that has accompanied the framed panel or canvas since Renaissance times. The artist has challenged the viewer to regard her minimal work, stripped of the more ingratiating aspects of painting, as absolute in its simplicity.​
From the University of Texas Blanton Museum of Art in Austin.

Just for fun I wrote up my own description of a Mondrian homage I painted:



Kent Wang's work fuses chaos with order, with lines and shapes laid randomly - at first glance. Closer inspection gradually reveals that a set of rules governs the placement of shapes and the choice of colors. Thus, the artist challenges the viewer to explore the rules encoded in the subconscious that shape our aesthetics, to consider why we find beauty in the juxtaposition of chaos and order.

Rather than any implied meaning or message, the minimalist nature of these paintings encourages the viewer to consider the visual qualities of the work - the composition, surfaces, textures and the relationship of depicted space to line and form. In simplicity, art becomes more direct and incisive in its dissection of the human mind, a more lucent mirror of our collective subconscious.​
 

Biscotti

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I'm so tired or art, art talk, and artists.
 

GoSurface

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Originally Posted by robin
Nothing to write about?

Even if my work was worth writing about, it's all rather fruitless. It's not like words would legitimize my work any better than an emotional connection/response would.
 

GQgeek

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Did you ever take any literary criticism courses, or courses that had that as a component of them in university? Talk about intellectual masturbation *e^1000000. Some of the essays i've been forced to read have been intollerable. What you posted is benign by comparison.
 

Trapp

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I know what you mean about the text accompanying a lot of modern art, or art in general, being funny or pretentious.

To be honest, I don't think the above is a good example. The points the writer makes are observable and concrete. For the most part, the language has been chosen in an attempt, first, to put the artist and the painting in a historical context, and then to describe some ideas these two paintings attempt to address. Not everyone has to agree with the writer about the validity of these ideas--or how they apply to the paintings. But I don't see a lot of words or phrases being dropped in an effort to 'sound smart' at the expense of meaning and communication.

Modern art (not to mention people's attempts to write about it) will always be a ripe target for mockery. It doesn't matter. The good stuff can take it.
 

The Snob

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Originally Posted by Trapp
I know what you mean about the text accompanying a lot of modern art, or art in general, being funny or pretentious.

To be honest, I don't think the above is a good example. The points the writer makes are observable and concrete. For the most part, the language has been chosen in an attempt, first, to put the artist and the painting in a historical context, and then to describe some ideas these two paintings attempt to address. Not everyone has to agree with the writer about the validity of these ideas--or how they apply to the paintings. But I don't see a lot of words or phrases being dropped in an effort to 'sound smart' at the expense of meaning and communication.

Modern art (not to mention people's attempts to write about it) will always be a ripe target for mockery. It doesn't matter. The good stuff can take it.


That was my thought too... this example sounded like the work of a very talented art history grad to me. I think maybe it's just that the painting is so simple that anything more than two lines long seems excessive. Heh.

Also, great Mondrian knockoff.
 

Huntsman

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Originally Posted by Trapp
I know what you mean about the text accompanying a lot of modern art, or art in general, being funny or pretentious. To be honest, I don't think the above is a good example. The points the writer makes are observable and concrete. For the most part, the language has been chosen in an attempt, first, to put the artist and the painting in a historical context, and then to describe some ideas these two paintings attempt to address. Not everyone has to agree with the writer about the validity of these ideas--or how they apply to the paintings. But I don't see a lot of words or phrases being dropped in an effort to 'sound smart' at the expense of meaning and communication. Modern art (not to mention people's attempts to write about it) will always be a ripe target for mockery. It doesn't matter. The good stuff can take it.
The greatest, and most easily supported, criticism of the criticism is that it attempts to say what the artist thinks. I find that incredibly pretentious, indeed, it is the greatest of all the practiced pretenses. ~ H
 

JoeWoah

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Originally Posted by Huntsman
The greatest, and most easily supported, criticism of the criticism is that it attempts to say what the artist thinks. I find that incredibly pretentious, indeed, it is the greatest of all the practiced pretenses.

~ H


They can't all be DADA pieces.
 

Huntsman

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Originally Posted by JoeWoah
They can't all be DADA pieces.
I have no idea what, or if, this means. Dada or no, it's still pretentious to declare that you know what someone thinks. ~ H
 

tagutcow

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Originally Posted by Huntsman
I have no idea what, or if, this means. Dada or no, it's still pretentious to declare that you know what someone thinks.

~ H


Il n'y a pas de hors-texte, n'est pas?

Sorry, got carried away with the pretension. I need to transcribe some of the liner notes from my modern classical LPs.
 

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