Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cy Twombly


37 comments:

anita said...

this guy is copying Dru for sure.

c-dog said...

Copier.

cara said...

copy cat!

cara said...

these two works, the one by Dru and the one by Cy, side by side bring up some interesting questions about art for me...like what makes this worth hanging in a gallery?

Anonymous said...

Would you have the same question if you saw Dru's picture in a gallery? The WAG (as well as other galleries) often have kids shows. Children do this quite naturally (scribbley-mark making), but we think nothing of it. When an adult does it, it vexes us, defies classification, and shows the adults' access to possibilities in art includes what children do without too much worry. Still, if you look at more of Cy's work you will find this is just a stepping stone (and a unique, wonderful one for a growed up). His larger works (still scribbles on chalkboards) are really intense and thought provoking. Surely though, the idea is to make people ask the very question Cara did, among others (like how is this kept as an artifact when its so temporal).

cara said...

I wouldn't have the same questions if I knew it was a child's drawing, that's true.

I've actually been thinking about this piece today, and wondering about the diverse reactions that I/others could have to it, it does illict some great questions (thank you for putting them into words)
:)

However, I was also wondering about the power of it's juxtaposition, like where, how and when it is displayed, does it need a formal display, would it vex or defy convention as much if the same thing was discovered on the sidewalk...

I love art like this, and particulary because it vexes and confounds me, and creates a discussion, sometimes between me and another person, and sometimes just between me and the art. Art seems to ask more questions than it answers. which is a welcome oasis in a didactic world.

wolfBoy said...

I'm not sure about the value of this as art.

i mean, if i put on hockey skates tonight, and went out and played goal against the Bruins, and got 25 goals scored on me, would that ask questions about the nature of playing hockey?

And similarly, if i recorded the crappiest possible musical album, just completely discordant and unlistenable (or, as in this case, recorded something deliberately childish), would that somehow have value as music, in that it questions the nature of music?

I think it's possible to explore the free and child-like possibility of art-making without having to copy art by kids. Dru's art is, presumably, an honest expression of something or other, whereas i see Twombly's work as being dishonest in a way, in that it reproduces someone else's honest expression under a guise of...

oh, crap. i dunno. i'm rambling.

i guess, for me, i see it as being possible to make work that questions that nature of art and art making, or that explores the child-like joy of creation, without being (sorry, but) crappy art.

And as DonMax has said before, sports has different and more measurable standards than art, but if i got 25 goals scored on me by the Bruins, I'd have failed, in that I'd have lost the game. And since my accomplishment would be no more impressive than that which any kid or overweight couch potato could pull off, where's the value in it?

Maybe sports analogies don't work.

In any case, part of what I look for in art is aesthetics. Maybe that's my bias, but I still just don't get anything out of this work at all.

I'm also not 100% keen on this notion of art as a big holy sacred cow, so that even crappy art that makes us think about capital-A Art somehow has some kind of sacred value to it.

As to the idea that Twombly's work has value b/c it makes us ask these questions, I point you to the work of someone like Dan Donaldson, where the same questions are being asked, but the work is still interesting to look at.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, wolfboy! I highly recommend going out to find a Cy Twombly piece and look at it. Seriously. Not just to prove a point, but to experience one of these works. Did you even look him up on google before you wrote this (or wonder how the woman (above) was driven to break the law by kissing one? I can't understand how you would say it's "crap", and sports analogies definitely don't work in this case. These may not be his absolutely best works, but they are surely not a lost game. The "questions" brought about by Cy's art is only a small part of it. Creativity and a wonderfully unique aethstetic is also a part.

wolfBoy said...

well, crappy is a bit too strong a word maybe, but i still don't see much value in this.

and yes, i researched him on google although i was pretty familiar with his work anyway. (in case you don't know, i've worked as a professional art critic for many years).

for me, the idea, though, that i should have to bring a body of knowledge or understanding with me to be able to appreciate the work (rather than on its own merit) is where so much of modern art (and art criticism) fails.

not saying you're saying this, Anon, but for me, the idea that you need to know all about the artist and his oeuvre, and then you'll like the work more, sort of suggests a "well you don't like this because you just don't get it, or you're not smart enough/educated enough."

Several years back, i interviewed a guy named Tom Diamond who had directed operas at the Met and stuff, and who was now working in Wpg directing something at the Concert Hall.

His view was that if the audience comes to his productions and they're bored, it's not their fault for not "getting it", it's his fault for not reaching them.

I agree.

Now, having said that, that's only one of many theories of art, each with their own value or "truth", so...

But still, for me, if I walk into a gallery and see this on a wall, I'm not going to be impressed, regardless of how many articles Clement Greenberg or Robert Enright may have written telling me why I should like it.

(Again, not saying that's where you're at, Anon.)

For me, I like to use the "600 years" test. So, in 600 years, assuming we (snicker) survive 2012, and someone walks into a gallery and sees this, knowing nothing about late 20th century America or about Cy Twombly the person, will this art resonate with them on any level?

I may be wrong, but I doubt that it will. Not that that negates its value as art, and often good art is only relevant for a brief point in time (satire, for example, loses its timeliness almost immediately).

Wow. Long comment. :)

cara said...

I'd have to agree with wolfboy, the particular piece that was posted isn't particularly creative or wonderful to me, however I did see some other pieces by Cy Twombly that were so powerful and dripping with emotion.

Ever read Bourdieu? he writes quite a bit about art, I've read just a bit, and mostly in relation to education, but he might explain particular taste in art as more a product of the dominance of certain kinds of knowledge and discourse, and also individual history and cultural experience.

Maybe, ones taste in art is a direct product of your family, social status, education, and the dominant discourse of the time?
He also esteems art due to the way that it undermines orthodoxy and as a path of possibility to revise and renew certain aspects of culture.

Anonymous said...

I would surely get carpel tunnel syndrome trying to express all my ideas about this, so I'll just go through a few of the key points I had issue with.

"well, crappy is a bit too strong a word maybe but i still don't see much value in this."

If you can’t see value in this, you are not looking close enough. The monetary value alone, should act as a signifier of value. Saying it’s “crappy” is not only a greatly misinformed view, but not what I hoped for from someone who “worked as a professional art critic for many years”. (Is Wolfboy Tom Brodbeck?! )

"for me, the idea, though, that i should have to bring a body of knowledge or understanding with me to be able to appreciate the work (rather than on its own merit) is where so much of modern art (and art criticism?) fails."

Couldn’t it be said that you have to ‘bring’ knowledge or understanding to be able to appreciate anything (besides perhaps the ‘purely sensory’), that it's merit IS what can be learned about it. This is not an example of merely art failing. It’s a very human failing. Didn’t you fail to like perhaps biking, swimming, or music before you learned how to do it?

I would look closely at Cara’s comment about Bourdieu:

"He might explain particular taste in art as more a product of the dominance of certain kinds of knowledge and discourse, and also individual history and cultural experience.

Maybe, ones taste in art is a direct product of your family, social status, education, and the dominant discourse of the time?
He also esteems art due to the way that it undermines orthodoxy and as a path of possibility to revise and renew certain aspects of culture".

That sounds really good to me, I am in agreement with Bourdieu (from her description).

Take for example the historical aspects of one of these Twombly works. When before had an artist thought of and been allowed to display scribbled chalk, on a chalkboard, in a gallery and have it become known for its uniqueness. In fact I’m not even sure what’s in question here, haha. Is it that you don’t like it? I don’t think so; my belief is that you’re entitled to your own sense of personal aesthetic (no matter how contrary to mine). I think it’s more I feel a need to defend it because of how carelessly you dismiss it. Your argument never even touched on why you think others might like it. (and I DO like these drawings)

I wish I could make you see something in these. The energy. Imagine if you were walking through a big gallery with your 5 year old, strolling along in the baroque section. All the amber tinted chiaroscuro and carefully rendered apples you can stand. Next you round the corner to the modern art section and see this giant chalkboard with scribbles all over it. You might notice a twinge of relief for some reason, maybe not, but your kid is going to run straight over to it (or look at you, worrying there would be a test on the Baroque section). In the lineage of art, there are stages of great liberation that lead to invention and changing ideals. Inarguably, Cy was a part of one.

"Several years back, i interviewed a guy named Tom Diamond who had directed operas at the Met and stuff, and who was now working in Wpg directing something at the Concert Hall.

His view was that if the audience comes to his productions and they're bored, it's not their fault for not "getting it", it's his fault for not reaching them. I agree".

I’m not sure why blame needs to be assigned, “reaching” and “getting” are both with their challenges. Trying is always commendable.


"But still, for me, if I walk into a gallery and see this on a wall, I'm not going to be impressed, regardless…"

It sounds like your mind’s been made.


"For me, I like to use the "600 years" test. So, in 600 years, assuming we (snicker) survive 2012, and someone walks into a gallery and sees this, knowing nothing about late 20th century America or about Cy Twombly the person, will this art resonate with them on any level? I may be wrong, but I doubt that it will.

This is a bit absurd. None of us can accurately predict what the next 60 years is going to be like, or what tastes humans will have by then. And why would we/do we have to wait 600 years to see if our art is valuable or not? Maybe that’s just one of your ‘art critic’ tactics: “wait 600 years and tell me if I’m wrong”. I’m not sure. From my current perspective, I take interest in anything that someone tells me is 600 years old, and I’d assume I’d be baffled and amazed if that object happened to be a chalkboard full of scribbles!.
"Wow. Long comment. :)
8:18 AM"

knackerson said...

word verif: be less

TheBlueMask said...

I just don't like it. Nothing grabs me. Sure, I can sit and wonder WHY I don't like it...but If I did that with everything I don't like.....what a long day.
It speaks to some people, and that's fine. Why does everyone need to have a long winded essay as to WHY they don't like something?. We all accept "I like it!" without any uproar.

Anonymous said...

"Why does everyone need to have a long winded essay as to WHY they don't like something?. We all accept 'I like it!' without any uproar".

No one said you should write an essay Bluemask. What I was commenting on was the volunteered opinion of "wolfboy". It's fine that you don't like it (see long winded essay above), and that's what I would expect from anyone who hasn't been initiated through education (to understand, but not necessarily enjoy) or at leat their own deep consideration. An art education (or again, perhaps significant thought on the subject) leads one to even question a statement like "I like it". This is not to impose all sorts of theory on everyone, but to allow those curious enough to probe it, some discourse.

wolfBoy said...

"The monetary value alone, should act as a signifier of value."

So, by that standard, Celine Dion, Titanic the movie, and American Idol are artistically significant.

TheBlueMask said...

Then I'm glad I didn't spend years and money to be able to justify scribbles on a blog.
When a child does it, it is pure. When an adult does it, I find it regressive. "Oooh he's making us question what is art" Been done way too many times. See "Art School Confidential". Malchovich's "triangle" series. too funny.
Wolfie, think of all the $$$ that has been passed around and sunk in to "Canadian Idol" over the last few years. Now name some winners. lol

cara said...

so...anon, you think that it is necessary or just gives you a different perspective on art? (art education)


I mean I'm not sure what your formal education is with regards to the actual study of education, but I certainly wouldn't discount your point of view because your not, say, getting your phd in education or anything.

However, I would question your definition of art education. From what I know of education and development, formal and organized education doesn't always lead to learning nor should it be privileged over non formal and self directed learning. Remember that whole dominance of discourse point you liked, well i can direct you to some authors(Bourdieu and others) who would contest this conception of education. Mind you they are not saying that formal education doesn't have capital in the field of art or in high culture, no, but question whether it need be that way.

I guess my point is that I see this blog as a common space to respectfully discuss issues, without anyone trying to shut someone down, whether that' for long winded essays or for their perceived lack of education.


word ver: quest(ion)
should always be welcome here.

cara said...

as an aside I wish we could edit comments, I keep finding typos...ahh!

wolfBoy said...

ooops-- you beat me to it...


now, Anon, if you'd like, i can post my CV to prove that i have in fact been "initiated through education or my own careful consideration" on the subject.

will that for some reason give my views more legitimacy in your eyes?

beyond that, your use of the term "absurd" and "misinformed" to describe my views, and your placing of my self-applied title of art critic in quotations in order to question its legitimacy are two of Brodbeck's favorite tricks.

and no, sorry to report, I'm not him.

TheBlueMask said...

I'm pretty sure there is someone out there with even more education than Anon who dislikes this work.
It's called an opinion.

Anonymous said...

italics!

Anonymous said...

So...anon, you think that it is necessary or just gives you a different perspective on art? (art education)Definitely not necessary. You won’t die if you don’t “get” Modern Art. You may not live your life to the fullest potential (hehe), but you won’t shrivel up or anything.

I mean I'm not sure what your formal education is with regards to the actual study of education, but I certainly wouldn't discount your point of view because your not, say, getting your phd in education or anything. Thanks, I appreciate that, and recognize people learn lots outside of institutions. That’s why I was sure to add the “deep consideration” part. Of course if you go to the library and read your ass off for 5 years you will know as much on the subject as someone who did the same (assuming similar effectiveness) but got a degree for it.


However, I would question your definition of art education. From what I know of education and development, formal and organized education doesn't always lead to learning nor should it be privileged over non formal and self directed learning.

That makes sense. Maybe I should have stuck with my first word “initiated” or just said learned. Either way, I would say if “formal and organized education doesn't always lead to learning”, it at least greatly increases the chances.

Remember that whole dominance of discourse point you liked, well i can direct you to some authors(Bourdieu and others) who would contest this conception of education. Mind you they are not saying that formal education doesn't have capital in the field of art or in high culture, no, but question whether it need be that way. That is an interesting question indeed. It’s hard to imagine it any other way. That’s where artists come in.

I guess my point is that I see this blog as a common space to respectfully discuss issues, without anyone trying to shut someone down, whether that' for long winded essays or for their perceived lack of education. Agreed. Although it’s easier said than done. I hope my comments so far have been taken as I intended, but think this may not be so.

"The monetary value alone, should act as a signifier of value."

So, by that standard, Celine Dion, Titanic the movie, and American Idol are artistically significant.
Look again, the comment I was commenting on (?!) was where you said you:

‘don’t see VALUE’

You did not say ‘artistic significance’. I took it for fact, that Cy is a major name in Art (you claim to have even heard of him before this discussion). Whether or not Cy Twombly is ‘artistically significant’ is very difficult for me to seriously question. He is in tons of history books and has touched the minds of many artists and theorists and other advocates. I’m positive I couldn’t argue the point any better than the many, many, publications about Cy.

beyond that, your use of the term "absurd" and "misinformed" to describe my views, and your placing of my self-applied title of art critic in quotations in order to question its legitimacy are two of Brodbeck's favorite tricks. That’s called a quote; I put it in quotations to show that you said it, to show they aren’t my words. That should be all fixed up now with the italics!. (were you serious about the 600 year thing then?)

Now, Anon, if you'd like, i can post my CV to prove that i have in fact been "initiated through education or my own careful consideration" on the subject.

will that for some reason give my views more legitimacy in your eyes?
I would love to see your CV, but that wouldn’t prove anything I’m afraid (please still post it). I believe you ARE “initiated” (I would like to apologize for that term. It sounds like a club, and you need to eat worms or something to get into it. I mean it more in a “get you started” sort of way). I think people forget how much we’re talking about when we say Art. If someone studies their entire life they are likely not going to know EVERYTHING about art. In fact, they will likely only uncover 38% (and that’s if they study every day)! The rest will be inaccessible. What I’m saying is, even if you have wonderful credentials, and have worked for the most prestigious galleries, you aren’t expected to know and like everything. It would be handy though if you were aware of that, and treated other peoples appreciation with some dignity. That is to say you don’t call it “crappy”. I was never in challenge of your legitimacy, I was contending with the recognition (or lack) of quality in the Twombly that …I…ahem, that Dave guy posted.

I don’t like comic books, never having been into them as a kid. Even so, you won’t find me trashing them on ALFA. Instead I try to understand how intelligent people I know and care for can have such vested interest. A courtesy I would hope you could also extend to visitors (anon or not) of the blog. Even if you just plain don’t like it, please understand, all I’m trying to do is express why I do.

Then I'm glad I didn't spend years and money to be able to justify scribbles on a blog. Yes, be glad. Doing so has made me a pathetic fool, combing blogs first thing in the morning, looking for art debates, spending entire afternoons trying to explain myself, and possibly failing. Not to mention making unemployable, and financially crippled.

When a child does it, it’s pure. When an adult does it, I find it regressive. My perception of this is very different than yours. I look at the marks like words, and read what she/he’s saying. I have learned this language, and can enjoy it. I think the real reason you get frustrated by this is you really wish you had gone to Art School. Because you love art. What an indulgence to be submerged in what you love. Clearly Art has captured your imagination. That’s why you make it. That’s why you’re going out and renting movies like "Art School Confidential", and reading my long winded essays. Don’t be fooled by the movie, or what people tell you. Each person’s journey is highly individual. I didn’t really like University, but I can’t deny it changed my view on art (by broadening it thankfully). I really do think you could have more than the equivalent, WITHOUT the massive tuition. But of course this would mean you would have to find your information somewhere, other than a University. If you did this (and I am convinced you have in a way), it doesn’t negate the things people learned from the university (or who-knows-where), and it may not yield the same results (likey wouldn’t).

"Oooh he's making us question what is art" Been done way too many times. I admit, from what I’ve read about Art history, it gets pretty crazy with that question so I understand your cynicism. But Cy is pretty low on that ladder, as far as challenging his medium and method. Compared to people shooting themselves, crawling through broken glass, or simply brushing their teeth, Cy is pretty conventional (Chalk is a very old medium).


Word Verif: unprose

wolfBoy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheBlueMask said...

Ok. I like it now. My mistake. :)

D. Sky Onosson said...

This is an interesting discussion. The juxtaposition of the Dru and Cy Twombly chalk drawings makes us face a real fundamental question: how much value do we ascribe to something based on its objective merits (however we define those) vs. its creator's intentions?

I was reading that Condoleezza Rice has recently gone back to teaching, and was very soon confronted by students who wanted to know her justification of torture techniques engaged in by U.S. operatives. Her position boiled down to, essentially, that it was justified by people higher up than her, and she just relayed the communication about what was ok or not ok to do - no personal involvement on her part. Her boss said these "interrogation techniques" were not torture, so therefore they weren't.

I think that, regarding torture, it is very hard for most of us to accept her position: that "it's ok if we do it, but it's not ok if someone else does it". That is: torture is torture is torture, no matter who does it.

So, my question is, can we say the same about art? Art is art is art, no matter who makes it?

Isn't that what we're talking about here?

jc said...

A bit of stretch Sky, that is comparing art and torture!

Considering that this site is titled "A Love for Art", calling anything 'crap' really questions the whole purpose-full-ness of this site.

Ahhh, if only the days of art reinforcement lived on.

I really don't think Wolfboy's position on this is for real. He's just trying to get a rise out of us. For f*ck sakes, he's a collagist. :)

D. Sky Onosson said...

Well, yes, I really don't want to compare art to torture! I'm just using a very extreme example to make the point *obvious*.

The point is: can we separate an act or creation from the person who did/created it? I think this can apply to anything we do as humans. Where does the value or meaning come from?

Culleton said...

But why limit this to humans/persons?

I don't think they can be seperated, at least for me, both are insignificant without the other. I think that the value and meaning are found by investigating both the object/act and the person behind it. I suppose you could do one or the other, but I think that by doing both you can get the most out of it.

I abstract painting is cool on its own, but knowing an elephant painted it! wowowo, that's amazing.

D. Sky Onosson said...

I think that with adult humans, we are usually aware of, or at least try to infer, the creator's intentions. With small children and animals (for the most part - there are certainly exceptions), we often disregard their intentions, or assume they don't have any (mistakenly or not).

I agree about the meaning and value to be found when we consider the object and its creator together, but how much is an object's intrinsic value (outside of its creator) worth? My point with torture is that, for that practice, the "value" is obvious to most of us, and the intention is completely irrelevant.

Maybe there's a continuum, with things like torture (intrinsically bad) and a clean environment (intrinsically good) at one end, and things like killing, swearing (the n-word for example), always bound up with intention, at the other end. So maybe art lives somewhere in the middle?

Torture<------Art------>Murder

Heh heh.

Anonymous said...

Well, 'art is torture' makes sense to me for some reason (maybe after reading and writing these comments). =P

Another thing I thought of is unconventional music made with unconventional instruments. There are certainly people who don't like it, think it's irrelevant, and maybe not even music. Heck, I think I've heard the same thing about Jazz. Cy Twombly is like a drum jam on upside down white industrial kitchen buckets. They still look and preform similarly to the conventional tools, but the outcome is different.

D. Sky Onosson said...

There was a guy in Toronto in the mid-late 90s who used to do that on the street all the time (maybe he still does, I haven't been there in a while...) He was incredible!

wolfBoy said...

so, Knackerson, when you state that a post "sucks ass", as you did not so long ago, how does that convey your love for art?

particularly when it's a post by someone who's actually on this blog and who will see that comment about their work, as opposed to a world-famous artist who could probably care less what we think and who certainly isn't here trolling for comments.

or, does a different set of standards apply to your conduct than to the rest of us?

also, please don't presume to speak for me and explain to others what i "mean".

while the use of the word "crap" was perhaps a poor choice, i don't like this work in the least, and think it embodies pretty much everything that's wrong with the modern art "academy"-- self-referential, insular, inaccessible to the vast majority of people, and neccessitating a 50-page essay to explain why it's "important".

i could give you a 500-page essay on why james joyce's work is "important". or, you could read them for yourself and have your mind blown.

this doesn't blow my mind, not on any level-- theoretically, aesthetically, whatever.

p.s. check the URL-- this blog is still called A Label for Artists.

Anonymous said...

Problem with Modern Art! Oh now it's on girlfriend! Before we were just talking about a couple smaller Twomblys, now its all of Modern Art!

If you don't like things that are inaccessible to the vast majority of people, that rules out most art and music. As MOST people are the (see Komar and Melamid studies)blue sky'd landscape lovers (probably listening to Nickelback)! I think 'self referential' sounds like a cynics take on 'tradition'. Isn't there a lineage within all the Arts? Do you dislike modern writing and music for the same reasons? Is this a distaste for all Modernity, or just visual art?

Even if it doesn't blow your mind, would you concede that it's ok for it to do so to another's? I wish you could say "I don't like it, but I guess I can see why you do, and that's ok".

TheBlueMask said...

ME: "I just don't like it. Nothing grabs me. Sure, I can sit and wonder WHY I don't like it...but If I did that with everything I don't like.....what a long day.
It speaks to some people, and that's fine. Why does everyone need to have a long winded essay as to WHY they don't like something?. We all accept "I like it!" without any uproar."

Anon: "Even if it doesn't blow your mind, would you concede that it's ok for it to do so to another's? I wish you could say "I don't like it, but I guess I can see why you do, and that's ok"."

Anonymous said...

(was responding to wolfboy, but I appreciate what you said)

TheBlueMask said...

Valid points until the sour ending.

We all contradict ourselves here. We are just a pile of whiney hypocrites! All forms of art shall continue regardless of ALFA's opinions. People will continue to love or hate certain works. Personal attacks serve no purpose in debating the age old "What is art?" question.
Maybe the answer is..."Who cares?, you decide."
It all seems so silly after a while.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a whiney hypocrite!
But really you have a point about the importance of all this. It would surely swing down to our lowest level of awareness say if all the world was becoming fatally infected with swine flu. At that moment it would be easy for us to see that our interactions are more about getting to know each other than forming world views on art. I'm thankful to all of you for letting me indulge in a bit of my own theories, to bounce them around, and hear your views. I'm just glad I'm not floating in space all alone with no one to hear what I think.