Recommend
 
 Thumb up
 Hide
16 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Everything Else » Beatnik Coffee Haus

Subject: Paintings as Avatars, Instalment 17 rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Gerald Cameron
Canada
Unspecified
Nova Scotia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Whenever I go too long after changing my avatar without writing the new one up in my journal, Fawkes gets on me about it, so this one's for you Fawkesy!

This avatar depicts Gerhard Richter's painting Tourist (with 2 Lions). This is probably the newest painting I've used do far in this series, having been painted in 1975. Richter (who is still alive) is one of the foremost modern abstract painters, as well as a highly regarded artistic photographer. Specifically, Richter is part of the Abstract Neo-Expressionist school, a modern school characterized by a return to the depiction of real objects (even if in a highly abstract way) as opposed to the geometrical abstraction of modernism and minimalism. I defy you to point to a tourist or a lion in this painting, but the point is that it is Richter's conceptualization of the concrete subject matter, not how realistic the depiction is. On the surface, I'm sure that this sounds like a lot of poseur claptrap, but really, the point is that the Neo-Expresionists found their inspiration in real objects, not that they were literally showing them. In contrast, Modernism and Minimalism painted geometric patterns that were devoid of representational intent.

On a parochial side-note, Richter also taught for a few years at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. I wasn't actually aware of this until I was researching this Journal (I first heard of Richter in a Time magazine piece about a Richter exhibition several years ago), but it adds a certain extra something to the choice for me.

A (somewhat) larger image of Tourist (with 2 Lions) can be seen at http://www.zwirnerandwirth.com/exhibitions/2000/022000Richte...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
E Corcoran
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
One lion is right in the upper center of the painting. It's easy to see.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rod Spade
United States
Elizabethtown
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
abstract art
Is this anything like the one with a giraffe?

I think someday I should throw some blotches of paint onto a canvas, pick some random words from the dictionary as a title, and see if any "artistic" people buy it. What do you think?

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gerald Cameron
Canada
Unspecified
Nova Scotia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Abstract Art
Rod,

You're repeating a common joke about abstract art - that it's just a bunch of random blotches that anyone can do without any thought or (necessarily) any talent. Since I'm not an artist, the joke doesn't really bother me- it doesn't exactly hit me where I live or anything - but it's as good an opportunity to pontificate on this rather common thought as any. It's not directed at you in particular, it's simply an effort to help people understand and appreciate art a little more.

While it's true that there have been documented cases of journalists or hoaxsters taking art that kind of amounts to random blobs to so-called art experts and having them pronounced great works, I suspect that this is a product of psychology and the atmosphere of the modern art world. People in the hippest art circles - the poseurs as I called them in the main journal entry - always want to be on the bleeding edge, and never want to be caught missing the 'significance' of the next great thing. This leads to a lot of awful artists - and the product of children or elephants or chimpanzees - being proclaimed works of a great new talent. The atmosphere of art clique criticism makes it safer to proclaim random blobs 'edgy' or 'significant' than it would be to exercise actual critical judgement and take the risk of panning something that everyone else might cotton on to. This isn't exactly unique to the art crowd, but they're probably the easiest case of it to ridicule.

Good art, whether abstract or representational, painting, sculpture or theatre (or even television), is about expression, and evoking the feelings connected to some part of life, be it the wonder of true beauty, the pain of those bombed by the Nazis at Guernica, or the awe of the religious experience. The talent doesn't lie in being able to paint the most realistic looking tourist (although that's cartainly not a trivial task), it's about painting something that makes an emotional connection to your fellow human being. There are an awful lot of nearly photorealistic paintings that are as engaging and moving as a blob of pus, and, IMHO, there are a much smaller, but still significant, number of pure abstract paintings that are highly evocative in the artistic sense I've outlined here. Of course the reverse is true, too. There's an ocean of horrible, dull, abstract paintings in the world, and some truly wonderful representational works.

This realization that art is only about the emotional reaction, and that the realism of the image was an incidental thing, was the big breakthrough of the French Impressionists, and for most of the next century art explored how to provoke that artistic response with increasingly less realistic, and then increasingly non-representational, works, until finally artists were armed with the stylistic tools to produce purely abstract art, much to the aggravation of a lot of people ever since.

An interesting side note - a few years ago, there was an article in Discover magazine about the paintings of Jackson Pollock, the archetypical 'blobs of paint thrown at the canvas' painter (see, for instance, http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/pollock/pollock.number-... ). It turns out that Pollock's paintings are VERY highly fractal ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal ), NOT random. By comparison they showed Pollockesque paintings that were much less fractalized, in other words more random, and they were shown to be much less engaging to observers than Pollock's own, superficially similar, work. So even the most abstract of art may have an underlying, but inobvious, logic.

So my advice to people who just don't 'get' abstract art would be to stop trying to find the elephant, turn off your conscious, analytical, impulses, and just try to take in the image and see how it makes you feel.

YMMV
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
June King
United States
Unspecified
flag msg tools
badge
Bring me her heart in this box.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Applause applause
Very very nicely put Gerald.

Although I prefer representational art, I also appreciate some abstract stuff too. The Philly Art Museum has some nifty Mondrians that I used to stare at. Just blocks of primary colors on white canvas... or are they?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeffrey McBeth
United States
Rochester
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Beautiful painting, excellent choice. I'll have to look up more of his paintings.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rod Spade
United States
Elizabethtown
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
art
Linnaeus,

I dig what you're saying. But if this abstract stuff is all about the intangible emotional response, why does this painting have a pseudo-concrete title like "Tourist with 2 Lions"? Is that just prententious, or am I actually supposed to feel these lions???

BTW, have you seen the play Art? It's about three guys, one of whom buys a magnificent (i.e., expensive) painting by the next up-and-coming genius artist. It's white. On white. And he truly believes it's a great painting. After all, he has a refined appreciation of modern art! Of course, his friends have other terms to describe it. It's a great play, whether you understand "art" or not.

Rod
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gerald Cameron
Canada
Unspecified
Nova Scotia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I see lions, but not a tourist
Rod,

Your question prompted me to take another look at the larger image of Tourist(with 2 Lions), and it turns out to be slightly more representational than I thought. You can see the lions if you take a moment, but try it with the larger image - they're just misty dark regions on the scale of my avatar. I still haven't seen the tourist yet, but here's a theory - the lions are outlined by what seems like it could be a cloud. Clouds tend not to stay put very long, so perhaps the tourist in question is the cloud, and since it defines the two lions in a negative way, it becomes a cloud (tourist) containing (with) two lions.

As I mentioned in passing, Richter is also an artistic photographer, and if you do a Google image search for Richter, you can get a look at several of his photos in thumbnail. You'll quickly notice that his style is rather different than that of, say, Ansel Adams. Perhaps his paintings are representational, but reflective of his photographic style, which means that they tend to be HEAVILY stylized.

However, you question is still perfectly valid in the case of any number of other abstract paintings, and I don't really have an answer for you. Frankly, I suspect it varies from artist to artist. Many of them give their works nominal names (Painting No. 365, etc.), while others may refer to the source that inspired the feelings that they are trying to express in the work, and still others are probably (would-be) Dadaist/Discordian pranksters who just pull some absurd name out of the air.

Not much of an answer, really, but it's the best I can do.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rod Spade
United States
Elizabethtown
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
"representative" abstractions
The black blob just right of center is the head of a teddy bear. I don't know what the other blob is. The white field at the bottom is a close-up of a caterpillar. The other white stuff is that ice fog Koldfoot was talking about.

Hey, I think I'm getting better at this abstract art stuff! laugh
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
andrew
Australia
bayswater
western australia
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
diverse or what
while i enjoyed the comotion over the religous bloke with the wife with emotional problems and when is a double entondre sexual (or not).
this has been without doubt one of my favourite jounal read throughs. thanks so much for the insights.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gerald Cameron
Canada
Unspecified
Nova Scotia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You're Welcome, Andrew
And thanks for the kind words.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Simon Hunt
United States
Roseville
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Maybe...
... the lions ate the tourist?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Deleted User
msg tools
badge
Avatar
Figures that the journal dedicated to me would have your loooongest diatribes on art ever. Cheers Carolus, you did good.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
E Corcoran
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
at home he's a tourist
I suspect the tourist is the one holding the camera, i.e. the viewpoint of the painting is the viewpoint of the tourist, therefore the viewer is the tourist. A tourist in nature perhaps, confronted by the lion, an image of untamed natural force. The image is fuzzy because the tourist is shaking with fear!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mary Weisbeck
United States
Black Hawk
South Dakota
flag msg tools
"Blow up the damned ship, Jean-Luc!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the art lesson, Gerald. I do appreciate you sharing your knowledge...but I just gotta tell ya, it looks like 2 gorilla heads to me so I call it "Gorillas in the Mist". kiss
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chester
United States
Temple
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I was going to say what 'Gruff' said. The tourist is the perspective of the viewer. Maybe it says something about that the lions are where they belong and the beholder of the painting is the visitor. Or maybe not. I like to think of it that way.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.