An upturned face becomes the somewhat ill-fitting lid for a cylindrical vessel in red-and-green patchwork; its partially obscured vision and gaze toward the ceiling suggest the ceramic sculpture turns a blind eye toward the other objects in the room. But its title and the series of which it is part comes from a line in the Bergman film The Silence (1963), in which a character notes the care one has to take when walking among the ghosts of one’s past. Melchert’s ghosts are, as he describes them, “witnesses to events, not unlike a Greek chorus.” Ghost Jar with Butterflies is witness and prelude, then, to both Melchert’s inclusion in the di Rosa collection and to the long friendship between artist and collector.
Patricia Maloney on Jim Melchert at Winery Lake —> http://bit.ly/WMEHVg
Image: James Melchert. Ghost Jar with Butterflies, 1964; glazed ceramic sculpture; 9.5 x 8 x 8 in. Courtesy of di Rosa collection, Napa.
Most days, the original Regency dandy Beau Brummel is my hero. He once asked a manservant: “Which view do I prefer?” Where can I find the assistant who chooses what I prefer in landscapes and effects and maybe even toothbrushes? Then I’d have the bandwidth to choose everything else, maybe even those five hours in the Arsenale. Truth be told, the assistant can choose a Top Ten at Venice for me as well. I want the space and the time to make the right judgment, not the judgment I have to make, on every occasion and on every art-world demand. I would like to weigh the contemporary less so that I might know the contemporary more.
As the region’s traditional gallery- and museum-based art world has grappled with the decline of bohemia (and its audience) as well as the financial challenges of forging a viable life in the arts, another scene has slowly risen to become the vox populi of the Bay Area arts. Yes, I mean Burning Man and its maker ecosystem. It might seem implausible, but Burning Man is as much counterculture as you’re likely to find in the Bay Area these days, and as it so happens, tech professionals love it.
After mounting an exhibition of Giorgio Morandi reproductions, Will Brown became acutely aware of how often facsimiles of these paintings appear in various outlets of popular culture—particularly film.
Will Brown’s artist project “Mediated Morandi” in Issue 5.5 —> http://bit.ly/1uckKpP
Image from Michelangelo Antonioni’s La Notte
My Disappointment Critic
Pore Everything cc Lisa Jane Persky"The job of the regular daily, weekly, or even monthly critic resembles the work of the serious intermittent critic, who writes only when he is asked to or genuinely moved to, in limited ways and for only a limited period of time … What usually happens is that (the staff critic) writes for some time at his highest level: reporting and characterizing accurately … and producing insights, and allusions, which, if they are not downright brilliant, are apposite … What happens after a longer time is that he settles down. The simple truth — this is okay, this is not okay, this is vile, this resembles that, this is good indeed, this is unspeakable — is not a day’s work for a thinking adult. Some critics go shrill. Others go stale. A lot go simultaneously shrill and stale. A few critics, writing quietly and well, bring something extra into their work … Some staff critics quit and choose to work flat out again, on other interests and in intermittent pieces. By far the most common tendency, however, is to stay put and simply to inflate, to pretend that each day’s text is after all a crisis…"
— Renata Adler, “The Perils of Pauline”"As [Harold] Bloom has settled into this second career, so his old virtues have gradually fallen from him. An extraordinary amount of the work of the last decade is luxurious with padding and superfluity; there is hardly a book of his that would not have been better off as an essay. He is not a critic anymore, but a populist appreciator … Above all, for Bloom, writers must be ranked, and the greatness of the very greatest asserted again and again. Moreover, all great writers are essentially alike."
— James Wood, “The Misreader”"The house of fiction, as Henry James once said, has ‘not one window, but a million,’ and hence no single aperture gives access to what James called ‘the need of the individual vision and the pressure of the individual will.’ Different novelists look to different models. Fielding, Sterne, and Stendhal set the pattern for the ironic or self-conscious novel, flaunting its own narrative devices. Balzac became the great exemplar of the social novel, as Scott and Manzoni did for the historical novel. Tolstoy’s deceptive simplicity transformed style into a transparent window on the real. Kafka’s metaphorical novels and stories turned fiction into fable or parable. Each of these writers depends on exact circumstantial detail, but the strength of their fiction comes not from the phrase, the sentence, the metaphor, as critics like Wood would have it, but from how they actualize larger units of scene and theme, plot and character. It can be misleading to approach fiction primarily through its language, a technique better suited to the study of poetry…"
— Morris Dickstein, letter to New York Times Book Review, May 7, 2006What happened is this: I wrote a book (The Fortress of Solitude) and James Wood reviewed it. What happened next: I wrote James Wood a long, intemperate letter. (Not an open letter.) And he wrote a curt postcard in reply. Eight years later, I haven’t quit thinking about it. Why? The review, though bearing a few darts (“Depthless Brooklyn,” “squandered,” “before our disappointed eyes”), wasn’t the worst I’d had. Wasn’t horrible. (As my uncle Fred would have said, “I know from horrible.”) Why, I hear you moan in your sheets, why in the thick of this Ecstasy Party you’ve thrown for yourself, violate every contract of dignity and decency, why embarrass us and yourself, sulking over an eight-year-old mixed review? Conversely, why not, if I’d wished to flog Wood’s shortcomings, pick a review of someone else, make respectable defense of a fallen comrade? The answer is simple: In no other instance could I grasp so completely what Wood was doing."Everyone speaks of the ‘negative capability’ of the artist, of his ability to lose what self he has in the many selves, the great self of the world. Such a quality is, surely, the first that a critic should have; yet who speaks of the negative capability of the critic? How often are we able to observe it?"
— Randall Jarrell, “Poets, Critics, and Readers”
Live Radio Auction appropriates a format from rural American radio stations in which the DJ auctions items over the airwaves and the public calls in to bid on the objects as a way of raising funds for the radio station.
The first episode of Wonderment Consortium’s Live Radio Auction took place on May 27, 2014, on 9thfloorradio.com.
Read more about the project in Issue 5.5 —> http://bit.ly/1sk8IsC
I suspect that, whether they know it or not, the mumblecore filmmakers’ real father is Andy Warhol. You don’t hear filmmakers talk about Warhol that much—his films are usually put in a fine-arts context—yet both Warhol and the mumblecore directors offer performers who seem barely willing to perform. In both kinds of films, the viewer’s attention floats in a medium of sporadic arousal, where the collective will for something to happen becomes tangible, becomes one of the subjects of the art itself.
The first question a show about documentary work made more than forty years ago should ask is, “Why now?” Ripe with current significance, if lacking in self-awareness, Anthony Friedkin: The Gay Essay misses such an opportunity to address its own contemporary relevance while trying to establish the work’s historical significance.