Miklos Legrady ArtBlog 2019
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133-The Impeachement Inquiry
Former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Michael McKinley, directly contradicted public comments made by the top US diplomat when he testified under oath last month as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. When the American people see the videos of Pompeo lying, his smug refusal and calculating manipulative mind, Pompeo is done for, guilty of lying to Congress.
Congress approved $450million in defense aid to Ukraine. Trump said you don't get it until you investigate Biden. Ukraine agreed, the aid flowed. And Pompeo's assurances of Trump's innocence proved a lie, more Americans will see the truth of how Trump abused the presidential office to enrich himself personally.
That Ukrainian investigation costs a lot, which he doesn't have to pay, the Ukraine will pay it out of American taxpayer's money. And since the Biden thing was just a conspiracy with no truth behind it, this was a waste of the taxpayer's money for Trump's benefit.
I'm staying tuned because I bet more damning evidence will emerge, the general public will turn on Trump, and the Senate Republicans be forced to find him guilty and kick him out. Which will lead to a collapse of the Republican party, and perhaps the emergence of new right and also left wing parties on the political scene. Like a Green Party or a Jesus Party.
Much later, March 23, 2020. Well so much for wishful thinking, Trump loyalty tests, Trump sole nominee on the ballot like Joseph Stalin, Trump leading his party into a dictatorship. Hopefully he’s voted out in November. Unless the coronavirus takes him.
November 4, 2019
Chomsky's linguistic studies of children suggest humans are born with innate knowledge. By the time a child speaks it hasn't heard enough concepts to unite them all into the understanding the child actually has. Kids and young adults experience this often, when you just know something. It's different for the elderly, whose knowledge comes from experience and extrapolation, the wisdom of age. You've been around long enough to know how people react and behave, so you have a fairly good idea of what happens under what conditions.
November 5, 2019
135-I'm Hyperallergic to Francis Bacon
never thought highly of Francis Bacon, I consider him a one-trick pony who could have gone way further. This painting doesn’t differ that much from his other work. It has the shading and transparency Bacon’s known for, is equally unpleasant, yet looser than his typical style.
Since the value of art is made of reputation and marketing, this painting will sell for $6 million... even though he wanted it destroyed.
November 6, 2019
November 7, 2019
137-Activists Crash Private Party at the Museum of Modern Art to Demand Prison Divestment.
The protesters gathered outside the museum to call on MoMA and its board member Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, to divest themselves from private prison companies.
Some issues are so serious we have to act on them, private prisons fall in that category. One thing that concern us with activism is mob mentality, so this moment can serve as a look at the negative and positive sides of activism. That self-reflections is a must if we’re not to turn into the very people we fight against. In this case activism is a good move.
November 8, 2019
138-Artist Pravin Mishra Files Defamation Lawsuit Against His Sexual Assault Accuser in India.
Pravin Mishra has filed civil defamation charges against an independent journalist, following a number of similar suits as the #MeToo movement grows in India.
Pravin Mishra has filed civil defamation charges against an independent journalist, following a number of similar suits as the #MeToo movement grows in India.
The #MeToo movement is changing our social awareness by spotlighting abusive behavior, that till now was protected by tradition, wealth and influence. As a consequence in the future those tempted by bad behavior will know they’ll be exposed for it sooner or later. At the same time we've also seen false accusations; we need wait how this plays out in court.
Pravin Mishra article on hyperallergic
November 9, 2019
Paul Chan’s "Odysseus and the Bathers” at Greene Naftali in NYC. The sculptures recreate Cezanne and Picasso. Art historian and critic Barbara Rose complains of ignorant and lazy artists whose thinking stops at the idea of putting a found object in a museum. Nor does it have to be a found object, an artist can be simply lazy or lack personal vision and do a bad job of anything.
Those who think this is art suffer a metacognitive insensitivity to the complex iterations of non-verbal languages that inform us of shades and subtleties, tell us what is valuable and what is not.
November 10, 2019
David Fisher is in Collingwood, Ontario.: "A portable piece of entertainment technology that has lasted 50 years. No upgrades, no comparability issues...doesn't even require overnight charging.”
I'm a painter. It doesn't help that the auto-focus in my paintbrush is busted. I've also upgraded to colour corrective apps built directly into the canvas. Yes. It does make for a bulky battery pack on the back of the stretcher, but that's the price of creativity. I'm now saving up for that paint which does the painting for you; it contains nano-particles that read your mind and find their correct place on the canvas. Basically all you have to do is pour the paint on the canvas and sign the finished product. That leaves the artist to concentrate on his or her vocation, which for the most part is marketing, hand shaking, networking. It takes professional marketing to make an artist..
November 11, 2019
Hell yeah, Hito Steyerl is here!
Internationally acclaimed artist Hito Steyerl
has arrived at the Art Gallery of Ontario!
This is the future opens this week.
October 22, 2019
142-Disneyland version of a homeless person
Je dit non, c'est de l'illustration, ce n'est pas l'art. Après le premier regard, la gentillesse devient son contraire, un sens oppressant d'être manipulé avec un art conçu pour les enfants de 3 ans. Il existe une loi en psychologie qui dit que lorsque les choses atteignent leur extrême, elles se transforment en leur opposé. Si je vivais à proximité, je finirais par haïr sa douce douceur trop sucré; il ya quelque chose de malhonnête à ce sujet, simpliste au point d’être insensiblement stupide.
The caption above says this kind of graffiti deserves its place in a museum. I say no, it's illustration, it's not art. After the first look, the kindness turns into oppression, we sense we’re being manipulated with art designed for 3 year olds. There is a law in psychology that says when things reach their extreme they become their opposite. If I lived nearby, I would end up hating the over-sugared sweetness; there’s something dishonest about it, simplistic to the point of insultingly stupid.
November 13, 2019
143-DIAPHONER with Iain Baxter& & Anatoli Vlassov
a review for Tussle magazine.
In 2019 Iain Baxter& received the Order of Canada as an acknowledgment of his work as Canada’s preeminent conceptual artist. He’s more than that; Iain embodies the next upgrade to conceptual postmodernism, saving that movement from the dust heap of history. Sometimes I think his conceptual label is too simple for a man whose work encompasses so many media.
Anatoli Vlassov is a Russian artist currently pursuing a doctorate at the Sorbonne in France. Many have wanted to show what goes on inside the artist, but Anatoli swallowed an endoscopy camera whose images were broadcast on a screen, to give the audience a video from the inside as the dancer performs in front of a public. Anatoli’s main attribute is a genius at revitalizing performance, dance, and vocalization, by uniting modes of performance in unexpected ways.
November 14, 2019
144-The art world is sadly corrupt
I'm really coming to the sad view that our contemporary art is seriously corrupt. Not in the sense that bad people plot to do bad things. More that the art world took a wrong turn maybe 40 years ago, and it's making a mess of the field. Anyone objecting will do well to look back to the 2008 sub prime global bank crash, to see how an entire profession can adopt a bad strategy. In the art world it was a combination of competitive pressure coupled with intellectual laziness, where obvious contradictions were ignored simply because post modernism seemed so exciting.
Take the urinal, for example. Why is it so trendy to piss on art? It would be a good idea to look at the statement a work makes. Michael Asher at Cal Arts is a good example. His Venice Biennial show consisted of putting chairs in the gallery, so visitors could sit and chat in a gallery just as if there was no artist nor art there. What is so wrong with art that we would want its absence? Asher's students, when asked what art was, to define art, replied with hurt feelings that question was unfair. If we asked a doctor who's about to treat us to describe what they do, and the doctor replied that was unfair, I'd find another someone else.
As artists we cannot escape that reality check. When Anne Appleby shows paintings that are flat grey monotone, that artist is saying they're bankrupt. Obviously they have nothing to offer.
November 15, 2019
CREDIT: "A PORTRAIT OF BERENICE SARMIENTO CHÁVEZ” BY HUGO CROSTHWAITE, STOP-MOTION DRAWING ANIMATION, (3:12 MIN.), 2018. COLLECTION OF THE ARTIST, COURTESY OF LUIS DE JESUS LOS ANGELES
NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF THE 2019 OUTWIN BOOCHEVER PORTRAIT COMPETITION AND OPENING OF "THE OUTWIN 2019: AMERICAN PORTRAITURE TODAY”
HUGO CROSTHWAITE RECEIVES FIRST PRIZE OF $25,000 AND NEW COMMISSION
PUBLISHED by RitzHerald ON OCTOBER 28, 2019.
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced artist Hugo Crosthwaite as the first-prize winner of the fifth triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Crosthwaite is the first Latinx artist to receive this prestigious award since the national competition was founded in 2006. His prize-winning stop-motion drawing animation, "A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez” (2018), recounts a woman’s journey from Tijuana, Mexico, to the United States in pursuit of the American dream. It will be on view in the exhibition "The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today,” which features nearly 50 portraits by the finalists of the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.
November 19, 2019
Republicans... 1/3 of the U.S. is lying and believing their own lies. Trump funded this with a $1.5 trillion tax break, that he then borrowed from the Treasury and loaded as debt on future generations. His China tariffs led to mid-west farmer suicides after losing their farm. Meanwhile Republicans who would die without Obamacare still vote for those who promise to take it away from them.
I haven't seen any similar events in the history books, where a country implodes from self-deception.
Best scenario would be if Republicans and Democrats separate, get their own country, let the kooks go to Jesusland and ruin themselves into a financial bankruptcy that echoes their moral bankruptcy. For no one can run a productive business based on lies. And these dudes believe their own lies.
The most likely scenario is that even worse revelations will pop up, more treason and high crimes, and eventually articles of impeachment will be drawn up. These will go to the Senate, where senators will distract from the facts and talk about stolen DNC servers, paranoid conspiracies that have been investigated and disproved.
The way news are presented also edits the narrative. Fox news will have afternoon reports of the inquiry, but most people are at work. In the evening Fox news runs opinion shows like Hannity, who lies without end.
Republicans are taking about actually having the trial, and dealing with each article of impeacment before dismissing them. Because they really do live in a delusional bubble, any evidence bounces off their shell. They are committed to the party line, which is believing their own press on Dishonest Donald's innocence. But once at the trial they'll have to face the truth of a reality check, and somehow ignore or repress it by a sacrificium intellectus. Again we'll see the process where Fox's Hannity and others spin lies over the daiily events and corrupt their audience, Trump's base. After which the Senate will find Dishonest Donald not guilty.
At that point everyone in the U.S. will see a guilty man set free by his party's majority in the Senate. Everyone will be conscious a criminal is the president. That leads to either him getting booted out in 2020. The second option is he's re-elected and his example influences the nation. More crimes of all kind are committed. more people try to get away with theft, corruption, lies. That's not good for business, bound to crash.
November 22, 2019
This man destroyed expensive 21st century art. You can see how postmodernism paved the way to the post truth era. With artists like Michael Asher, in the last 4 decades the art world took very seriously the idea that reality is an invention and truth is a social construct. That's ignoring the reality checks, but they taught and influenced culture, until the public believed there was no difference between reality and delusions. The art world nurtured the post truth era and helped elect Donald Trump.
This art world needs a reformation, if not a revolution! In Canada as in the States, our "top-tier" curator promote this level of delusion, and even worse, believe in it. Our highest paid Canadian artists cut pictures out of art books and break sticks and call it art, the gatekeepers applaud while suppressing dissent. I say to them like Olivier Cromwell; "begone from this place, you have sat too long for all the good that you have done."
December 7, 2019
148-Duchamp's Found Object
Duchamp said the readymade were not art, and it's rather obvious that found objects are not art. They remain the everyday items they were before the artist imagined that rubbish was our cultural peak. While the Tate or the National Gallery claim that a pile of broken sticks are a work of art, they remain in fact a sorry pile of broken sticks with curatorial pretensions. To claim them to be anything more is a metacognitive insensitivity to the complex iteration of non-verbal languages.
Those broken sticks could never be art because art is not an accident nor a midden heap. Only if the sticks serve as raw material, and only if the artist produce something unusually creative, excellent among all works of broken sticks, something that is NOT banal, only then does the work earn the description "art", as in "the art of conversation" or "the art of cuisine".
Since the 1960s the academic-curatorial complex accepted the boring, meaningless, and facile as art, breaking with tradition for the shock value created. Our gatekeepers and art experts accept trash as art, as if debasing ourselves is our highest achievement.
Below a link to my early notes on Marcel Duchamp published in the New Art Examiner, which led to a book currently in production, pointing out a fatal flaw in postmodern philosophy; art is a non-verbal right-brain language that's not optimized for intellectual activity.
The Curious Case of Marcel Duchamp
December 11, 2019
149-Dangers of Critique
Cognitive bias means the reader might feel outraged at my writing on postmodern art, just as a religious person would react to a critique of their own beliefs. For example Muslims says anyone who disrespect the Koran must die, as with Salman Rushdie. Rushdie is under police protection, two translators of Satanic Verses were not and had their throat slit by true believers. While the art world is not that violent (I hope), our human nature stays the same.
As a further trigger warning, statistician R.A. Fischer was invited in1947 to give a series of talks on BBC radio about the nature of science and scientific investigation. "A scientific career is peculiar in some ways. Its reason d’être is the increase in natural knowledge and on occasion an increase in natural knowledge does occur. But this is tactless and feelings are hurt.
For in some small degree it is inevitable that views previously expounded are shown to be either obsolete or false. Most people, I think, can recognize this and take it in good part if what they have been teaching for ten years or so needs a little revision but some will undoubtedly take it hard, as a blow to their amour propre, or even an invasion of the territory they have come to think of as exclusively their own, and they react with the same ferocity as animals whose territory is invaded. I do not think anything can be done about it… but a young scientist may be warned and even advised that when one has a jewel to offer for the enrichment of mankind some will certainly wish to turn and rend that person to bits.”
December 11, 2019
150-John Raulston Saul
Accidental details inform this story. On the wall behind him there’s a piece of wallpaper detached from the wall that the stage managers failed to detect. Whenever he gestured, his hand called attention to that flaw in the narrative. Leonard Cohen sang, "there’s is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in". Some say our weaknesses make us endearing... Still, I would fire the stage manager because that fault makes the production look provincial. Ironic that John Ralston Saul was talking about statements and gestures that make one look provincial, so I wonder if fate or synchronicity intended us to focus on what is being said.
I’ve seen and heard John Ralston Saul at a National Gallery event; the impression of a brilliant empathic man is evident in this video. He is one of our proud lights; in contrast to Trump on the news. We can read the mind’s construction in the face. Shakespeare seemingly placed flawed words in Duncan’s mouth, it’s just that the exception makes the rule, people change so Duncan's secondary meaning of "take nothing for granted" still holds. Saul said our belief systems, if rigorously applied, would lead to revolution and social failure because they're not home grown. I think this happened in the art world. When in the 1960s art moved from the Cedar tavern to the seminar room, academic beliefs were imposed on the artist, and homogenized the product. Now all dissent is seen as rude behavior, since everyone knows everyone else and perhaps teaches at the same university.
Saul hits the nail on the head; if our myths and motivations don’t connect with reality, then our theories won’t work and our language won’t work. Our Canadian postmodernism and intellectual art is a provincial copy of other countries, instead of using our personal experience to adapt those myth and language and make it our own.
Saul says that our responsibility as intellectuals and teachers, whose words affect 34 million people across Canada, our function is to make sure the language actually functions, that we’re able to describe what we’re doing, and what we’re doing well and badly. A top tier curator in one of Canada’s most influential positions wrote that "nobody knows what art is anymore”. I was shocked at that irresponsibility on the part of one who should know what art is, and of course this the opposite of the truth that Saul describes here; we have to know what we're doing and saying. If I had a message to the top ranks of the Canadian art community, it's that change hurts, it's uncomfortable to go beyond the comfort of decades of belief systems which are now outdated, but the change is worth the price. Living in the present is the both a duty and a reward.
I have one critique and that is the demeaning of Western culture in the expectation that other cultures can and should be listened to. I don’t think that negative outlook on whom we are is a neurosis that fails to acknowledge the good that we have done. In short this western self-abasement and unrealistic devaluing of our cultural accomplishments and worth is an illness. Does it presage the decline of Western culture or is it a temporary glitch. Inclusiveness does not mean to idealize another culture that has it’s own heights and depths, what is needed for inclusion is empathy and curiosity, not self-castigation.
John Ralston Saul does deliver an inclusive message; we need to expand our perspective and listen to those whom we’d prefer not to hear from.
December 11, 2019
Miklos Legrady, 16" x 20" - 40.64cm x 50.8cm, acrylic on canvasacrylic on canvas, 2019
I painted this balloon dog taking a dump, a small stainless steel paperweight, because Jeff Koons is a modernist. I took that idea one step further into postmodernism, which is always a little bit nasty or self-destructive. Of course Koons did it first. That makes mine a linguistic exercise while his was a cultural statement. He said "The more anxiety you can remove, the more free you are to make that gesture, whatever the gesture is"
Jeff Koons tells us that when he was 9 years old, his father would place old master paintings copied and signed by his son in the window of his shop in an attempt to attract visitors. As a young adult he worked as senior staff at MOMA and in 1980, got licensed to sell mutual funds and stocks. From that moment on, he was on the path to success, able to finance his own work.
Others disagree and in 2010, Gerg Allen dug deep into Koon’s past.1 Koons was in vacuum cleaner sales as early as 1979-80, his stock broker jobs lasting weeks, not years. His breakout solo show at International With Monument, Equilibrium, (with basketballs, Nike ads, and cast metal scuba gear and life rafts), came in 1985.
So we have a love of beauty, a call for status, and rather superficial morals. The genius of one’s talent does not guarantee an honest nobility. Although Koon’s work is the apex of beauty, it’s superficial because Koons is shallow.
December 11, 2019
152-Left Brain-Right Brain
Miklos Legrady, 72" x 96" - 40.64cm x 50.8cm, 182.88cm x 243.84cm, acrylic on canvas, 1991
Soon after the fall of the Roman Empire, In England there came four or five hundred years of historical darkness, few records kept and none survived. A shame, since it is through history that we know who we are and where we’re going; without history we’re not even sure of ourselves, for human memories are frail and wont to vested interests. History dispels ignorance, it’s a mirror, a perspective on ourselves, our time, and our trajectory.
But that history, though written by the victors, has to be reasonably accurate, sensible, logical, for when it’s mixed with fallacies and errors, the engineers will have a hard time deciphering that map. There’s an interesting parallel between art and science since the time of the Industrial Revolution; by the 1920s both fields yielded unheard of new data, something that science kept on, while the arts lost their mandate and fell from grace. It is my hypothesis that from the 1950s on, as the art world moved from the Cedar Tavern to the seminar room, art lost it’s meaning and the academic environment promoted confusion by discarding tradition.
Traditionally, art was a right brain, non verbal process consisting of acoustic language such as music, body language including dance, and visual language, worth a thousand words. Why would anyone say that a picture is worth a thousand words? Because visual language expresses the same meaning in a different way, as music and movement also are different formats than verbal languages. In the human brain, the dominant thinking process is the intellectual functions of the left brain, where Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area reside. The right brain has no speech centers at all, it seems.
The right brain is creative discernment and subtle judgment, this information sent to the left brain, where intellect rules, where laws, concepts, and perhaps consciousness reside. Writing is a left-brain function emerging around 3400–3100 BC, so literature is a recent art, while writing is said to be responsible for our contemporary consciousness, which was lacking in pre-literate people according to Julian Jaynes’ “The rise of consciousness in the breakdown of the bi-cameral mind”.
But art as music, dance, sculpture and painting were present as right-brain functions from the dawn of time, unique non-verbal languages to think with, if we can conceive of thinking as a larger paradigm that simply intellectual thoughts.
Thinking is here proposed as a multi-linguistic model where speech and intellectual are but one function among the others listed above. That would explain why it’s so hard to “know thyself”, because “thyself” also consist of languages that are not optimized for intellectual understanding.
December 24, 2019
Miklos Legrady, 33" x 38" - 83.82cm x 96.52cm, acrylic on cardboard, December 03, 2015.
We can't help being biased and especially when young, we've all told lies now and then. That’s quite a different thing than announcing that it's ok to lie since everyone lies, and we're going to make lying our main strategy. That decision is when a person turns evil.
Good and bad are actually about efficiency, accuracy. When we lie we also weaken ourselves, because a part of our brain is used to maintain a false construct, to remember the lie in order to not get caught. That’s brain power that could be used elsewhere. We all lie, and our make-up consists of checks and balances; it’s when you adopt lying as a strategy that you start messing with own brain and become seriously inefficient, i.e. insane.
Trump and the Republican party are insane. Sane is healthy, they’re unhealthy; insane does not mean unable. An insane person can be quite capable but they'll be unpleasant, as seen in politics today. Canadian Andrew Scheer for example, stealing Conservative party money to put his kids in private schools, while his colleague Doug Ford cuts funding for public schools. Both Scheer and Ford are unpleasant, have a smell, because of their dishonesty.
December 26, 2019
Kent Monkman Introduces Candid Indigenous Narratives
to the Metropolitan Museum’s Great Hall
In a new major commission for the Met, Monkman renders the past injustices and contemporary challenges endured by Indigenous people in the style of academic history painting.
I'm disappointed in these large paintings. I've admired Kent Monkman's work for over 20 years, for the unique personal statement when he made his paintings himself. He was one of the great painters of our time. Now that he hires other artists to paint his images, even though he draws the images and they're projected on the canvas so the image follow his intentions, they look like illustrations rather than the brilliant art he made in the past. Jeff Koons is more successful because he removes the human touch from his work, creating a mechanical art that better accepts the mechanical production of having others paint the work.
Monkman's early ideas were unexpectedly creative. He painted professionally accurate versions of 17th century and 18th century Canadian paintings, but with a twist of adding gay sex between cowboys and Indians. Or he'd do a traditional 18th century painting but put First Nations people in place of the European dignitaries we expect from the well-known original work. Still, his art depends not only on an idea, but on Monkman's genius as expressed in the body language of his personal touch, so obviously problems arise once you hire others to do the touch.
In 1617, Sir Dudley Carleton protested to Rubens that paintings offered to him as by the hand of the artist himself were in fact largely the work of his studio. Rubens was quick to replace them with works he could vouch for as being entirely his own — it would not do to acquire a reputation for passing off inferior work as original. In 1652, Peter van Halen, painter and Master of the Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp purchased Brueghel’s painting Cattle Market for 204 guilders. On closer examination, Van Halen decided it was not an original but a copy. After three years of lawsuits, van Halen managed to establish that the painting was indeed a studio copy made by Brueghel’s assistants and was awarded damages.
It is only now we realize Duchamp was wrong; we cannot make art primarily intellectual because the intellect is a left brain function while creativity, subtlety and complexity are right brain functions. That's why afterwards Duchamp could paint no more.
For that same reason, we can't have other people execute our ideas in images to create art, because they lack the artist's unique touch, the expression of the non-verbal rendered as body language. The magic of art is a combination of the conceptual and the ineffable, while just the concept alone... for those with sensibility it's a yawn. The image is near identical when done by the master or when done by assistants, except for a subtle magic that touches us deeply... that's missing.
December 26, 2019
155-Accept No Substitute
Miklos Legrady, 16" x 20" - 40.64cm x 50.8cm, acrylic and ink on canvas, 2019.
Cognitive bias meant some readers were outraged by this critique of art, just as any religious people would react to a critique of their own beliefs. As a trigger warning, statistician R.A. Fischer was invited in1947 to give a series of talks on BBC radio about the nature of science and scientific investigation.
So we begin.
The first question a skeptic might ask is why, for over 60 years, no one talked about the problems raised in this article? How could anyone assert such a staggering critique of postmodernism, when for over six decades thousands of the most intelligent and talented cultural workers did not disturb themselves with the facts presented here? It makes more sense for the reader to side with the status quo, the expert consensus of established art theory.
Still in 2008, following decades of financial malpractice called sub-prime loans, professional economists crashed the global banking system. If bankers can be so wrong then it is just as possible for the arts community to suffer a group madness, especially as artists love to wear the emperor’s new clothes. And I think that actually happened. That’s what this book is about.
I was not a paparazzi; I did not research Duchamp, Benjamin, Lewitt, Asher, and others with the aim of looking for scandals, I was as surprised as anyone else to find that postmodernism is grounded on flawed myths and untested assumptions that fail logic and should fail peer-review. How this happened becomes clear as this book’s narrative unfolds; here’s some thought-provoking facts.
In a 2004 online survey, hundreds of the world’s top art experts agreed that Duchamp’s Fountain (the urinal), is the most important work of art of the 20th century. It’s unsettling to learn that hundreds of the world’s top art experts are mistaken.
First, the urinal is not a work of art, and never was according to Duchamp, who consistently said that found objects are not art. Second, the Fountain is not by Duchamp, there’s evidence the urinal and found objects are by Dada artist Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, a friend of Duchamp’s who exhibited found objects four years before him. A third problem requires serious consideration; if scatology is our most influential art this culture is in serious trouble.
Some years back I was digging through art history, surprised at major contradictions between historical documents and academic interpretations; equally surprised no one corrects canonical artists even when their ideas are obviously unsound. What does this say about art theory and those artists whose ideas were seminal to postmodernism?
Today we have readily available sciences such as anthropology, sociology, and psychology to correct their mistakes. We need to revise and update our history books - we cannot keep grounding art practice on fallacies, errors, misunderstandings, or confused arguments. This book develops various points touched in my studies on the writing of Walter Benjamin, Marcel Duchamp, and Sol Lewitt, and their influence on Jasper Johns, John Cage, Benjamin Buchloh, Lawrence Weiner, Michael Asher and others.
It’s time to clean up the act.
The information I'm working with was always there, available to any and all, but the facts contradicted the academic narrative overlaid since the 1960s so they weren’t talked about. The layering of anecdotes accumulating like sediment around famous artists and their work, is a cultural canon that itself becomes subject to contextual drift over time. What was important back then loses traction today; older words have shifted meaning. This is a natural gradient behind this corruption of ideology, so that after fifty years or so most dogmas needs a pressure wash to clean out the rust, it’s a Martin Luther paradigm.
Embedded in these essays is the understanding that art contains semiotic cultural values. When “no one knows what art is anymore” and “art is anything you can get away with”, these are moral values depicting who we are and what we do. By contrast, every other profession knows what they are doing and have standards in place to prevent a lack of professionalism.
We learn that Duchamp made painting intellectual and then he stopped painting. It is important to notice that he could no longer paint after he made art intellectual. Jasper Johns wrote that Duchamp tolerated, even encouraged the mythology around that ‘stopping’, “But it was not like that…” He spoke of breaking a leg. ‘You didn’t mean to do it’ he said”.
In spite of his misfortune, Duchamp made a major contribution to the epistemology of painting. He’d located the boundaries of visual art, that an intellectual painting is malpractice and that kills motivation, the artist loses the desire to paint and love of painting when the work becomes simply an illustration of an idea. Our intellect is a faculty of reasoning and verbal concepts, whereas painting is a non-verbal language with an optical vocabulary. Often something sounds right in theory but fails the test, so we lose interest when reality-checks contradict our premise. And since all art is primarily non-verbal, Duchamp soon lost a desire to make any art at all, though for twenty years he kept trying and reworking one piece, but this is dealt with later on.
Walter Benjamin is a brilliant artist, a genius in the field of literature, who also fails peer review because his “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” follows flawed Marxists theory and toes the party line. Communists saw truth and lies as strategies, which means “Mechanical Reproduction” was distorted on the procrustean bed of working class methodology. Such policy did not age well, yet this paper of Benjamin’s is still revered by generations whose adulation lacks both scholarship and common sense.
Another highly respected theorist was Sol Lewitt. He was a brilliant visual artist whose Sentences on conceptual art and Paragraphs on conceptual art show a severe failure of logic. Lewitt rebuts these charges by saying a conceptual artist is a mystic who overleaps logic, but he fails to explain how such miracles happen. Read for what it says, without adulation and hero worship, his writing makes no sense. It’s an ill omen no one noticed the obvious or thought this through… respect for authority is the enemy of inquiry, which is like placing Descartes before the horse.
MOMA curator (and now Dean of Fine Arts at Yale) Robert Storr observed that in the 1960s the art world moved from the Cedar Tavern to the seminar room. In the seminar room, theory undermines practice. If we have not seen as far as others, it's because we’re standing on the shoulders of very short giants, or else myopic giants are standing on our shoulders.
December 30, 2019
156-Happy New Year
Miklos Legrady, 29 " x 52" - 73.66cm x 132.08cm, acrylic on cardboard, Dec. 31, 2019
The very last blog and the very last painting I'll do this year. Much of my work studies right-brain activity and non-verbal languages like visual language. What's it made of, what elements are used, what does it say? What does it mean when a picture's worth a thousand words? How do feelings interact with intellectual thought?
I'm playing with the idea that visual language allows for a non-verbal way of thinking. The process of thinking itself arose of the need for the body to communicate with it's various parts; a signalling system developed that became unimaginably complex over time, until approx. 5000 B.C.E. when written language firdst appeared, and with it the first complex consciousness. All sentient beings have a degree of consciousness, but when it is externalized such as in written language then a new layer of complexity develops in the echoes of information echoing over and over again. It allows for consciousness to have an a thought externalized outside the mind, in stone or some surface, so that one can study and have a more complex thought thereafter.
As we become aware of our thoughts and feelings we can control them, as we become aware of our thoughts the same applies. A science of linguistics shows that thoughts are influenced by feelings and vice versa, whilethere are methods of thinking running under the radar of consciousness that are yet vital and contribute to the final shape of the thoughts and feelings we have.
These are the non-verbal messages noted earlier, languages with as complex information as any verbal language. I started with the idea that we like certain things like butterflies of colors or shapes, shades and faint shimmers of light. What happens if these are recombined in various ways. What’s the nature of visual language?
December 31, 2019