From: Judy Seigel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: 04/09/02-10:26:31 PM Z
On Tue, 9 Apr 2002, shannon stoney wrote:
> I re-read the Jed Perl article last night. He is not saying that
> painters should never use photographs; he objects to copying
> photographs "slavishly." As somebody who has painted both from life
That's not my reading of this article. He jumps up and down for 3 or 4
pages on the intermix of photography and painting... he uses "slavish
dependency" to mean "interest in" or "reference to" photography; he says
"There are by now several generations of museum goers who have been
trained to regard photo-dependency as a fact of artistic life." And so
> and from photographs, I agree with him that you can tell the
> difference between a painting from life and one copied from a
> photograph, and the latter has a kind of flatness to it. I think
> this is because we see in stereo, with two eyes, and a camera sees
> with one eye. It's as if it has one eye in the middle of its
Hardly -- you're looking at a 2-dimensional image whichever way it was
made, with 2 eyes or 3 eyes. Many are blends, with photo as reference --
you and Perl none the wiser, that is, you wouldn't know unless you knew...
If the painting is "flat" that's a deliberate "look", or stylization... or
what you "see" via preconception. (Do photo realist paintings look
> forehead. The camera's monocular vision does not bother me in a
> photograph, but somehow when it's translated literally into a
> painting, something is lost.
Like which painting?
You also assume it's the duty of a painting in 2 dimensions to look 3
dimensional. A major development of 20th century painting was what was
called "flattening of the picture plane." In post modernism, this may be
reversed, but whether or not, it is NOT a sign of something "wrong," only
of an evolution of form.
> I think Perl's larger point was about the vacuity and nihilism of a
> lot of contemporary art that descends from Duchamp. It's not that he
> hates all contemporary and modern art; he loves Mondrian, Matisse,
> Picasso, et al, and he says nice things too about a lot of
> contemporary artists.
Mondrian, Matisse and Picasso are for the purposes of this discussion
hardly "contemporary," but old masters. In the article at issue, Perl
says "nice things" only about the "master" Balthus, but no later artists,
tho he gives a pass to Lucien Freud & Kitaj. He sort of likes early
Warhol, but says the later is "nothing at all," making a point of fact
that he doesn't consider Warhol great. Three & a half isn't "a lot." I
would also add that a "critic" who doesn't see the greatness of Warhol has
no business writing about 20th century art.... or not beyond Balthus.
I agree with you AND Perl, BTW, about emptiness of much/most contemporary
art. But so what? 'Twas ever thus. The problem is that Perl is wrong on
the manifestations, the ways, the reasons, and the particulars. That a lot
of famous art is indeed meretricious hardly makes him a prophet. Even a
stopped clock is right twice a day.
He just despises Richter evidently, and
> worries about the direction of the MOMA.
> If anybody wants to read this article, it's in the archives of The
> New Republic site online.
> Or go to www.tnr.com and click on the link to the Jed Perl article on Richter.
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