The Three Graces, after Rubens — Jake Wood-Evans

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The Three Graces, after Rubens, 2018 by Jake Wood-Evans (b. 1980)

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Don Quixote — Daniele Galliano

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Don Quixote, 2014 by Daniele Galliano (b. 1961)

Ilketshall — Stuart Pearson Wright

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Ilketshall, 2014 by Stuart Pearson Wright (b. 1975)

One Too Many — Clive Smith

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One Too Many, 2001 by Clive Smith (b. 1967)

Two Elders Seated — Jayne Holsinger

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Two Elders Seated, 2007 by Jayne Holsinger

I’m into Shooting in Natural Environments — Dana Schutz

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I’m into Shooting in Natural Environments, 2008 — Dana Schutz (b. 1976)

the book (is an extension of the eye) — Jen Mazza

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the book (is an extension of the eye), 2012 by Jen Mazza (b. 1972)

Daniela on David’s Récamière — Paul Wunderlich

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Daniela on David’s Récamière, 1974 by Paul Wunderlich (1927-2010)

Super Saian George with Trojan Horse — Mu Pan

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Super Saian George With Trojan Horse, 2018 by Mu Pan (b. 1976)

Goya’s Ghost — Veronika Holcová 

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Goya’s Ghost, 2016 by Veronika Holcová (b. 1973)

Too much plasticity (From Gaddis’s The Recognitions)

 — Where were you all day? Mr. Yak asked again, when they bumped the second time.

—The Prado.

—The art museum? Mr. Yak shrugged. —What did you do there? He glanced up at the face beside him, and said, —You don’t look like you liked it much. The art there.

—Well they . . . the El Greco, his companion began, as though called upon to comment, and he drew his hand across his eyes.

—They have so many in one room, they’re almost hung on top of each other and it’s too much, it’s too much plasticity, there’s too much movement there in that one room . . . He suddenly looked up at Mr. Yak, holding a hand out before them which appeared to try to shape something there. —Do you … do you see what I mean? With a painter like El Greco, somebody called him a visceral painter, do you see what I mean? And when you get so much of his work hung together, it … the forms stifle each other, it’s too much. Down where they have the Flemish painters hung together it’s different, because they’re all separate . . . the compositions are separate, and the . . . the Bosch and Breughel and Patinir and even Dürer, they don’t disturb each other because the . . . because every composition is made up of separations, or rather … I mean … do you see what I mean? But the harmony in one canvas of El Greco is all one . . . one . . . He had both hands out before him now, the fingers turned in and the thumbs up as though holding something he was studying with a life which Mr. Yak had not seen in his face before. But he broke off abruptly, and his hands came down to his sides.

From William Gaddis’s The Recognitions. 

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Detail from The Crucifixion, El Greco, 1600

The Magazine Antiques — David Brega

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The Magazine Antiques, 1986 by David Brega (b. 1948)

“Breughel” — Aldous Huxley

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“Breughel”

by

Aldous Huxley

from Along the Road, 1925


Most of our mistakes are fundamentally grammatical. We create our own difficulties by employing an inadequate language to describe facts. Thus, to take one example, we are constantly giving the same name to more than one thing, and more than one name to the same thing. The results, when we come to argue, are deplorable. For we are using a language which does not adequately describe the things about which we are arguing.

The word “painter” is one of those names whose indiscriminate application has led to the worst results. All those who, for whatever reason and with whatever intentions, put brushes to canvas and make pictures, are called without distinction, painters. Deceived by the uniqueness of the name, aestheticians have tried to make us believe that there is a single painter-psychology, a single function of painting, a single standard of criticism. Fashion changes and the views of art critics with it. At the present time it is fashionable to believe in form to the exclusion of subject. Young people almost swoon away with excess of aesthetic emotion before a Matisse. Two generations ago they would have been wiping their eyes before the latest Landseer. (Ah, those more than human, those positively Christ-like dogs—how they moved, what lessons they taught! There had been no religious painting like Landseer’s since Carlo Dolci died.)

These historical considerations should make us chary of believing too exclusively in any single theory of art. One kind of painting, one set of ideas are fashionable at any given moment. They are made the basis of a theory which condemns all other kinds of painting and all preceding critical theories. The process constantly repeats itself. Continue reading ““Breughel” — Aldous Huxley”

The Riddle — Emily Mae Smith

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The Riddle, 2017 by Emily Mae Smith (b. 1979)

The Art Lover — Jack Levine

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The Art Lover, 1962 by Jack Levine (1915-2010)

Kerry James Marshall on Charles White

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Black Pope (Sandwich Board Man), 1973 by Charles White

Painter Kerry James Marshall has written a wonderful appreciation of the artist Charles White. The piece also serves as a miniature artistic autobiography of Marshall himself, set against the backdrop of African-American history in the latter half of the 20th century. The piece, published in Charles White: A Retrospective (ed. Sarah Kelly Oehler and Esther Adler, 2018) is excerpted today in The Paris Review. Here’s the opening paragraph:

I have been a stalwart advocate for the legacy of Charles White. I have said it so often, it could go without saying. I have always believed that his work should be seen wherever great pictures are collected and made available to art-loving audiences. He is a true master of pictorial art, and nobody else has drawn the black body with more elegance and authority. No other artist has inspired my own devotion to a career in image making more than he did. I saw in his example the way to greatness. Yes. And because he looked like my uncles and my neighbors, his achievements seemed within my reach. The wisdom he dispensed to the many aspiring artists who gathered around him was always straightforward: do your work with skill and integrity, everything else is superfluous. It is a right time for him to be considered again in the fullness of his expertise. And fitting that he should be recognized with a survey in three of the best museums in the world.

Perhaps my favorite section of the piece is where Marshall situates White’s commitment to human representation:

Charlie himself remained steadfast in his commitment to representational art through all the shifts and changes in the contemporary art world of his era. He was not taken up in the rush toward abstraction and what the art historian Thomas McEvilley called the “misconceived belief that abstract art represented a kind of nothingness that made it seem the final term in a semantic series.” …

It was always clear with Charlie that to make good work, one had to know a thing or two about more than how to draw or paint. He had a scholar’s interest in history, which informed the work he made. He often said your work should be about things that mattered but reminded us all to concentrate on making the best drawings we could, adding, “the ideas will take care of themselves.”

Read the full essay at The Paris Review

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Seed of Love, 1969 by Charles White

Ugolino — Isaac McCaslin

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Ugolino, 2016 by Isaac McCaslin (b. 1989)