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Monday, February 28, 2005

Raising your horizons with Gustav Klimt

There’s something about the landscapes of Gustav Klimt that’s dramatic. More correctly there’s a couple of things that he does visually that jars the eyes. The placement of the horizon, and the shape of the canvas.

Klimt’s landscapes have been in my head for months, with their very high horizons and their square canvases. The high horizons I can recreate by looking down as I walk. But I needed some canvases.

Well okay, I didn’t; I really needed to paint – but it’s easier to buy canvases than paint them, and you still get to be an artist. And the sign enticed me in. 50% off. Large stretched canvases, here I come.

But each canvas had two price tickets. Better clear this with the owner.
-Is the sale price calculated on the cheaper of the two prices on each canvas?
-No, it’s on the other one, the red tickets. And it’s only for brand XY canvases.

The place was full of sale signs. They all said YX not XY. Other brands 40% off. Yellow tickets say two for cheaper price total than red tickets. Get headache. Pause. Choose canvases, all square ones. Too many are too big or too small. Compare brands. Compare discounts. Do the math. Final decisions. Still have headache. Go to checkout.

-Oh no, these would have to be the same size to get this yellow discount. And they’re brand YX, not XY, so that will be 40% off the red ticket price not 50%.
-Let me take them back and have a rethink.

Brain tired. Leave all canvases. Recall that in five years I can’t remember their canvases not being at least 40% off. No business from me today. Indignant I leave. Go to competitor. More expensive canvases. But better quality. Buy. Art Supply Store A loses. Verne wins. So does Art Supply Store B. Notice I’ve spent dinner money for three days. Remain starving stereotype. Note that despite starvation, pants much more comfortable with two buttons undone.

Another Friday, another opening. More artists than collectors. Almost no buyers. Enjoy the paintings. Except when overly stylistic. Dislike use of multiple parallel lines. And very jagged edges. And exaggerated curves. Talk to the artist. Seems tired. Talk to another artist. No longer full time. Returned to corporate employment. Offers me similar corporate opportunity. Look disdainful. Is she happy? Yes, though it’s not what she wanted. Ask her what she wanted. Says she wanted to be a big PM Dawn fan.

Return to hors d’oeuvres. Take two. Call them dinner. Undo two buttons.

Paul Dorrell says "You want your life to be your canvas."


Friday, February 25, 2005

Painting for Nobody

Is it art for art's sake when you paint a picture nobody can see? Is it not wonderfully unpretentious to paint a picture believing that nobody will ever see it no matter what? Is it not simply brilliant to paint it in such a way as you the artist not being able to see it either, not even when you are painting it?

Paul Bahn, the independent archaeologist, believes that the motivation for some of the Ice Age art found in the world today, was religious. Of all the debates about cave art - and most of them seem to end up saying that cavemen were in touch with rocks, fairies, drugs, or their feminine side - the one piece of incontrovertible evidence about all of them that science can look at, is that the very place they were painted is still there. Right there beside the rocks.

I'm reminded of how all the great landscape views aren't simply something that exists in the lense of a camera or window-like on an artist's canvas, but instead run all the way from the distant horizon up to the viewer's feet. The immediate physical space is such a crucial part of any landscape, and perhaps why so many of us want to go to that road to look at Mount Saint-Victoire as Cezanne did, with the branch of the tree beside us rooting us into the landscape.

Some studies in acoustics have highlighted a relationship between the spaces in caves decorated and the quality of the sound. It occurs to me that the better sound might simply account for the presence of the artist and not for the presence of the art.

However it is in studies of visibility that Paul Bahn finds grounds for drawing a religious motivation in some cave art. If paintings are deliberately painted up chimneys or in fissures where no human can go or is likely to try to, then just who or what is intended to see these pictures? Bahn believes it was clearly intended in such cases for a deity, spirit or ancestor - that it was clearly religious in some way and produced out of strongly held motivations. I'm not so sure.

Is he not forgetting the artist? Do not some of us - all of us who create - not sometime create things not intended for the public? And I mean really not intended for the public, as in not now, not in twenty years, not when you grow up, not after you die, not ever. And by public viewing I mean not showing to anybody, not just not simply in a gallery. That means not showing your husband, your girlfriend, your best friend, your mother, or your dog. Don't some of us deliberately destroy works we have created unseen by anyone else? Did we do it for god to have a peek? Or were we aware that it was for our dead great-grandfather?

Maybe there were very shy cavemen painting pictures up chimneys or in low overhangs because they didn't want it to be seen, even by god, but they just didn't have any sketchpad handy. And maybe it was an overbearing and proud mother that often broke away stalagmites and stalactites for viewing by the public in the ones we can see easier.

-Where you've been? I've had your dinner ready for an hour already!
-Don't you nowhere me young man, I know you've been somewhere.
-I haven't.
-Oh yes you have. And what's all that stuff on your hands?
-You've been climbing up those chimneys again, haven't you?
-No, I haven't.
-C'mon, take me there. Show me what you been doing then.
-Ah no mom.
-Oh, your mother isn't good enough to see your pictures is she not? Your mother doesn't understand art? She's not 'An Artist'.
-I didn't say that.
-No, but you're thinking it aren't ya? Or are they dirty pictures you been drawing?
-No mom, just buffalo again.
-You and your buffalo. C'mon, let's go show your dad.

Paul Dorrell says

you will know when you're ready to show publicly if you trust your inner voice, and your critics.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Textiles in his Blood

They never heard of him. If you gained their confidence they might admit remembering his name being whispered by their parents or his family being pitied. He was a triple failure. He failed to take over the family shop, he failed at the law his family made him study, and he failed in his own quest - to paint.

Growing up in a region without galleries or museums he most likely never saw an oil painting until he was nineteen or older even. He enrolled secretly in a local art school where the shame of his failure brought embarassment for a hundred years.

Despite these surroundings, he survived. He survived because he came from a booming textile region. From the beginning as a poor art student he collected textiles. From junk stalls he collected scraps of tapestry, and he never stopped collecting. They became his working tools bringing him derision and ridicule for the art he produced being too decorative. By the time he died his studio was a treasure trove of Persian carpets, Arab embroideries, African wall hangings, cushions, curtains, costumes and fabric screens.

The textiles led him in his later years to his final great development - that of almost abstraction using collaged brilliant cut-outs. Only in the last few years has the town and region he came from finally accepted him and celebrated him as their own. The rest of us for some time have accepted him as the greatest French painter of the twentieth century.

Never wanting my own painting to descend into the arabesque or gestural decoration, it is of himself I think as I carry on painting ignoring the trickery of the third dimension. And, except in the case of serial killers, hoarding is to be considered a good thing - likely to provoke great developments in art history and probably destined for a museum. Tell your loved ones.

Alas I will not be in London for the exhibition next week. Matisse, His Art and His Textiles: The Fabric of Dreams is at the Royal Academy from March 5 to May 30.

Instead I will have to make do with the second part of Hilary Spurling's biography of Matisse. The story of his triple failures in the textile-rich region of northeastern France that drove him to Paris and ultimately south to Nice is told in her first volume: Unknown Matisse

Matisse the Master. A Life of Henri Matisse, vol 2: 1909-1954 is published by Hamish Hamilton on March 14, 2005

Paul Dorrell believes that without selfishness you couldn't work as well, or with the devotion you'll need, to bear you through the periods of failure and rejection.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Artists to Earn From Resold Work

If a Francis Bacon painting is sold in France a percentage of the sale goes to Mr. Bacon's heir, but if a painting by Matisse is sold in the UK, Henri's heirs receive nothing. This is because to date France has a "Droit de Suite" for artists, and the UK has not. Note that it is unfortunate rather than relevant that both artists in the example are dead.

However, benefitting the producers of paintings, photographs, sculptures and other unique works of art, the UK is finally getting ready to implement the European Directive recognizing Artists' Resale Rights that first came into effect all the way back in 2001.

On a degrading scale Artists will soon reap a portion of the profits made when their works are traded or resold, the UK Patent Office announced last week.

In France and many other European countries, artists are already paid a percentage of the resale proceeds under a "Droit de Suite" for as long as copyright protects the work: up to seventy years after the death of the artist. The Directive will make little difference to those countries but the UK has dithered because of concerns of impact on the art trading industry itself.

Peter Lawrence, Director of Intellectual Property & Innovation at the Patent Office believes: "Britain has an art-trading tradition which is the envy of the world. We also have world-class artisans who deserve fair reward for their creativity. This new "Artists Resale Right" must balance the needs of artists with the concerns of the art trade, and that is why its implementation must be done transparently and sensitively."

It is for this reason - specifically to prevent art sales moving to the US in avoidance of paying royalties, to be honest - that the percentage for artist decreases as the value for the sale increases, and has an upper limit on the royalty payable on a single work of art of €12,500.

The table of royalties due for the portion of the resale Price (in Euro):

4.00% … up to 50,000
3.00% … between 50,000 and 200,000
1.00% … between 200,000 and 350,000
0.50% … between 350,000 and 500,000
0.25% … in excess of 500,000

This means a work of art would need to be resold for more than €1,000,000 to reach the cap on the maximum royalty payable.

The final delay for the UK is to facilitate a consulation process with artists and art dealers about how exactly to implement the law. In particular the UK Patents Office wants to know:
Should the lower limit on the resale price, below which the artist will not enjoy a resale royalty, be set at €3,000 or lower? It's a sort of a "No Artist Left Behind" scheme, with the exception of the artists we can't afford to take with us.

European countries which did not have any Artists' Resale Right or Droit de Suite prior to the Directive are: Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

This has persuaded me to paint furiously and ship paintings for token amounts to people in the UK. Then in five years' time I shall do something unspeakable on the world stage, gaining notoreity unconnected with art. Instant booming trade in formerly cheapo paintings. Massive bucks. Royalties. Verne wins.

Repeat plan every five to ten years as necessary.

Paul Dorrell says "I rarely charge a copyright fee, since I feel that the exposure is what's most important, and I don't care to complicate the deal."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Sophie Okonedo: Primarily an Actress

The first time I saw Ms. Okonedo was not the first time I saw Sophie. She was an Augustus John painting defaced by Roy Lichtenstein. Falling in love with a two-dimensional character is not without its problems. Mostly it’s the obvious; you miss the third dimension, but that’s often a good thing. Best of all though, are the primary colors.

Sophie Okonedo was born in London of a Nigerian father and a British mother. Okonedo began acting late—after a writing class at the Royal Court Theatre. Sophie’s breakthrough on the stage came in ‘99, when she portrayed Cressida in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida at the Royal National Theatre. Praise followed: Sophie Okonedo's Cressida is one of the very few I have seen to come close to the character's tragic ambiguity, observed The Sunday Times.

Success on the stage led to multiple TV roles, and these in turn led to the bigger movie roles. Next year, Okonedo will co-star with Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand in the sci-fi action movie Aeon Flux. Of course Ace Ventura is so long ago that we don’t talk about it. However I knew nothing of this life because for me Sophie was a cartoon.

A couple of years back the BBC did a webcast of their Doctor Who series. Animated, it starred the voices of Richard E. Grant, and Sir Derek Jacobi. Sophie Okonedo voiced Alyson, a bar-maid who, despite an obvious strength, seemed condemned to stay with her doting boyfriend until the world ended. Luckily the world was about to end.

Cosgrove Hall made the animation. It is neither Danger Mouse nor Count Duckula. A not-uncommon convention in animation, the characters are drawn to look like the actors voicing them, Ms. Okonedo voiced Alyson, and thanks to Cosgrove Hall I’ve had the primary colors of a bright green top and a lemon yellow star in my head ever since. In a Jasper Johns meets Peter Blake way.

Dirty Pretty Things by Stephen Frears, is beautifully crafted, lighted, and acted, with Caravaggio colors dripping all over its dodgy script. And it was those delicious colors that made me take a second glance at the scene of the prostitute performing some rumpy-pumpy with the hotel doorman. Can’t recall my reason for the third glance. And then I realized who she was. Like a bad Norwegian music video, my animated hero had come to real-life – in the very act that creates real-life. Haven’t watched a cartoon since.

The Doctor Who webcast in question is still available on the BBC website. Best watched for the line by a British soldier when first confronted with an alien: It’s a great big dirty alien, sir!

The back cover of Paul Dorrell's book claims

Regardless of your discipline, you will benefit from the real-life guidance of this work.

Sophie Okonedo – Road to the 77th Oscars in Headlines

Edward Bulwer-Lytton's play Money on stage in London's West End Royal National Theatre's Olivier theatre
The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: In the Presence of the Enemy
BBC- Doctor Who - Scream of the Shalka - Interviews - Sophie Okonedo
Nominations announced for 2003 British Independent Film Awards

The Royal Court Theatre : Nightsongs
Dirty Pretty Things is a smart, edgy thriller
The Royal Court Theatre / I Just Stopped By To See The Man

Smoking list – Okonedo
Sophie Okonedo? You should check out her other African Movie
Sophie Okonedo: Hotel Rwanda Star Lost For Answers At Press Junket

These were neighbours killing each other
Hotel actress on rise
Aeon Flux - Starring Actress Sophie Okonedo

Nominees for Screen Actors Guild Awards
Okonedo homes in on movie glory
The Fifth Annual Cinemarati Awards (for films released in 2004)

Brit revels in surprise Oscar attention
Oscars - 77th Annual Academy Awards - Nominees – Sophie Okonedo
With five nominations, black actors gain record Oscar esteem

The road to the Oscars is paved with TV parts
Sophie Okonedo: The Bookworm's Revenge, Act I; A Brainy Brit's Breakthrough Role.
Okonedo's Rwanda nomination a door-opening experience

Star-Telegram | 01/23/2005 | ONE TO WATCH
Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) to Win

BBC - Doctor Who - Okonedo's Oscar
Sophie Okonedo says, I just want to feel quite comfortable and not have my bust fall out, you know?


Friday, February 18, 2005

Clyfford Still: More than American

From the most ancient time the artist has been expected to perpetuate the values of his contemporaries. The record is mainly one of frustration, sadism, superstition, and the will to power. The anxious find comfort in the confusion of those artists who would walk beside them. The values involved however permit no peace, and mutual resentment is deep when it is discovered that salvation cannot be bought. We are now committed to an unqualified act, not illustrating outworn myths or contemporary alibis. The artist must accept total repsonsibiity for what he executes. And the measure of his greatness will be in the depth of his insight and his courage in realizing his own vision.

-Both of these checks are for your account?
-Is that your name?
-It is, yes.
-Oh. It seems to be different.
-Well people have told me I seem to be different.
-How do you say your name, sir?
-When I was little it was Clyfford.
-Is it Clyfford still?

Every painting a journal entry, in totality an autobiography. In that context it is admirable that his paintings were very rarely split up, for Clyfford Still valiantly, if cantankerously, lived to create his work and keep his work as just that. He tried so hard to create life itself in each of his paintings, fusing color, form, and texture, yet when I first saw one I saw decay. No matter really because it's much the same thing, and nonetheless I was enthralled. Many years later while working in the decorating industry, every time I was required to scrape and prime a garage door for painting, I did so in homage to Clyfford Still.

Housing 750 of his paintings, plus hundreds more works on paper, in a single dedicated museum will instantly render the collection an international treasure of the highest order and elevate Still to his true status within his own country. Given that the relative virginty of a recent Modigliani (due to its private ownership out of public view for so long) contributed largely to its record price of thirty-odd million dollars, one can't help wonder at the scale of the Still gift to the city of Denver, Colorado.

Not known for fun, Clyfford Still was reknown for being socially difficult except when talking about his work. Aside from painting itself, he was most at ease when discussion of his work was the sole focus of conversation.

Until the pilgrimage when the museum in Denver is ready, we have the minorly magnificent Albright-Knox - which runs to early April 2005.

Paul Dorrell says: "Be willing to talk. You don't need to only talk about your work, although if you want to sell, conversation will eventually have to gravitate in that direction. Still, don't make discussion of your work the sole focus of the evening."


Thursday, February 17, 2005

I Believe in Art

I believe Canaletto never really left Venice. I believe Chris Offili trained elephants to poop on his paintings. I believe Picasso, when he was 12, could draw like Raphael; I believe I could draw like Picasso when I was 12. I believe Salvador Dali had shorter teeth and a longer leash than his ocelot.

I believe Christina was happy in her world. I believe Balthus was interested in little girls, only for painting. I believe Julian Schnabel only used plates that had accidentally broken through normal usage. I believe Rothko’s paintings look incredibly different when raised a single inch.

I believe Cezanne painted townscapes from wooden building block sets. I believe the sheep in Kansas were to blame for Frederic Remington. I believe Edvard Munch didn’t sleep well at night, and that he didn’t sleep well with Edward Gorey.

I believe Tracy Emin believes. I believe Georg Baselitz never tilts his head. I believe Patrick Heron liked to work in the garden once in a while. I believe Georges Braque read the newspapers.

I believe the shark was asking for it. I believe the Arnolfinis weren’t happy. I believe Dada was poignant. I believe Grandma Moses was a very good Grandma. I believe Mondrian went around the bend.

I believe posters look good without frames and that frames look good without posters. I believe Andy Warhol shot J.R. Ewing. I believe Thomas Hart Benton had a very small car.

I believe every Rembrandt can be improved with a good wipe. I believe Bridget Riley didn’t wear glasses, and neither did El Greco. I believe Giacometti slipped quietly out of the room.

I believe Elvis drank Campbell’s soup, in moderation. I believe Sunflowers owe us. I believe Monet couldn’t find a needle. I believe Audubon used to take bread to the park for the ducks.

I believe Walter Sickert was handy with a palette knife. I believe Post-Impressionism came at the wrong time. I believe Van Gogh saw stars in the daytime. I believe Arcimboldo ate well but Egon Schiele did not.

I believe the Post-Modernists didn’t see the point. I believe that Georges Seurat did. I believe Vermeer wasn’t a man for the Polaroid. I believe Grant Wood’s sister was seeing the dentist.

I believe in me. I believe in you. And you know I believe in art. I believe in truth, though I lie a lot. I feel the pain from the sell and mart. But no matter what you put me through I'll still believe in art. I love your art action. Art's just an abstraction. No talking, just painting. Painting your art action.

Paul Dorrell says:

You're the one creating the work. You're the one who has to believe in yourself. You're the one who has to know whether your work is any good.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

London Vacation

-Can I borrow your Mirror? he said, waking me up.
I took my head off my newspaper pillow.
-It's the Independent, I replied groggily, referring to the wrong London newspaper.
He walked away. I remade my pillow with the magazine Flash Art on top. Half an hour later I woke and peeled my now blue, hand and ear, from the magazine.
It was Euston station, London, in the early hours. He had asked me for a few pence for a cuppa several times. The last time I had been tempted to point out the food bars were closed. Not being quite that arrogant I said no, and I was sorry, yet again. Wearing only bandages on his feet he shuffled off seemingly trying to maintain his balance the whole time.

He had a shoelace tied around his head keeping most of his greasy matted hair off his face. That was how he had been when I arrived in London in the early morning and that was how he was still, sixteen hours later. Still shuffling, balancing, with his hand feebly outstretched as he mumbled requests for a few pence. At three in the morning he changed.

Feet apart, trembling with anger he pointed down at some young people.
-This is Babylon. This is Sodom and Gomorrah. His speech became suddenly coherent. He went on about Good and Bad, Heaven and Hell, boys and girls, repentence and judgment. He was neither persuasive nor informative - but angry and I believed it. The young people didn't seem too concerned about the disruption to their sleep or the implications of his message. Balance no longer was a problem for him and his speech became more and more assertive, and his London accent clear.

From over seventy yards a young man suddenly sprinted toward him and leaped over the young offenders.
-Shut up! Now, just shut up! he roared. Are you going to shut up? Bloody idiot!
The middle-aged man scurried away quickly managing to gesture that he would shut up as instructed. Looking back he waited until the young man had returned to his sleeping space. Then he sang.

Looking every bit like an English Willie Nelson, he sheepishly at first, and then boldly upon reaching the chorus, treated us all to his version of Wake Up Little Susie.

A young man lay down beside me.
-Put your shoes by your head, he told me, somebody will steal them if you leave them there.
I was reading Flash Art and he the Mirror. When he finished he offered it to me. I accepted saying thanks.
-It's something to do. Stop you getting bored, he told me.

I got the impression that he wanted me to read it beginning right away. I put down the leading European art magazine and glanced through the awful British paper. He turned over and slept face down on a supplement. His feet smelt worse than mine. I moved on.

A British Rail employee edged towards me with a brush. I asked him if he wanted me to move but he said I was fine and swept up my leaflets from London's Tate Gallery.

I walked some more in north London until I was near Kings Cross. A young man, better dressed than I, stopped me.
-Could you give me twenty pence please?
-Sorry, no.
-It isn't very much.
-You're right it isn't very much - so why don't you ask for more?
He didn't answer me.

I made my way on, to a group of London homeless and sat with them. Some had a small plastic carrier bag full of possessions. Most had nothing. One had a very large hearing-aid. He was in his twenties. All had been on the streets long enough for their hair to grow uncomfortably long and matted. Uncomfortable for them or me? Most of them tried to sleep, except for the few who instead just rested their limbs from a day of walking the streets of London. Everybody stank, including me. A fabulous collection of human smells. I couldn't read Europe's leading art magazine here either.

Paul Dorrell urges you to

go to Europe if you can. Let the Europeans humble you.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Padma Lakshmi, An Art Form

With Padma Lakshmi bearing the names of three gods, it's not surprising to see a headline Brand-Name Goddess Basks in the Moment. And it's easy to imagine Salman Rushdie, upon first reading of Padma Lakshmi in a magazine, thinking, That'll do nicely.

Reportedly to see Padma Lakshmi is to be in pain, according to Richard Dreyfuss. Abstract Expressionism I hear you say, but wait. Let's look at Ms. Lakshmi herself; what do the headlines tell us she is? Padma, Padma, your dinner's ready:

  • Model: "Model PADMA LAKSHMI Arriving at the El Rey Theatre"
  • Talented: "Lakeshmi Dresses Herself"
  • Actress: "Boom is Awful and Can be Given a Miss"
  • Indian: "Padma Lakshmi is South Indian, and from Chennai"
  • Producer: "Padma Lakshmi to Produce Film"
  • Writer: "Padma Lakshmi - Easy Exotic : A Model's Low-Fat Recipes from Around the World"
  • Cook: "Model Lakshmi Discovers She Can Make More Than A Decent Bowl of Rice"
  • Eater: "A model Who Eats? She Wrote the Book"
  • Drinker: "Padma Lakshmi to Endorse Beer!"
  • Presenter: "Padma Lakshmi Takes Low-Fat Cuisine to TV Network"
  • Visually-Impaired: "It was Love at First Sight: Padma Lakshmi"
  • Intelligent: "Clever Crumpet and the Joy of Erudition"
  • Stupid: "Salman Rushdie Splits with Girlfriend Padma Lakshmi; Pretty Much Calls her Dumb"
  • Organized: "What Do Padma Lakshmi and Kyra Sedgwick Have in Common? Their Wedding Planner"
  • Married: "Rushdie Weds Padma Lakshmi"
  • Famous: "Author Rushdie Weds Indian Star"
  • Odd: "Odd Couple Weds"
  • Doer: "Mrs Rushdie Does New York"
  • Passionate: "Padma Lakshmi: A Woman of Varied Passions"
  • Inspirational: "Smitten Salman Writing Film for Padma"
  • Provocative: "Padma Lakshmi's Bikini Provokes 'Sexism' complaints"
  • Sweet: "Honey Of The Week - Padma Lakshmi"
  • Saucy: "Saucy Padma Pic Lands in a Soup"
  • Traveler: "Padma Lakshmi to Visit India as UN Envoy"
  • Punctual: "Padma Lakshmi Arrives for a Premiere of "The Missing" in New York City"
  • Envied: "Lakshmi - The Envied"

Abstract Expressionism?

Does that invoke the Abstract Expressionist in you? Well, it shouldn't. Yes her career is one big Action Painting but look at her face. In all those naked shots, presumably before she dressed herself, what do you see when you look at her face?

Not AbEx

Pierre Soulages.

Staring in the Face

Big dirty solid straight black gestural brush strokes across and down the face of a goddess. Absent-mind yourself from the saucy, punctual traveler; the odd, passionate doer; the provocative visually-impaired drinker; the talented, married eater, the dumb, famous writer, the Indian, organized actress, the inspirational, envied model; the intelligent, saucy producer, and you are staring in the face, Lyrical Abstraction.

Paul Dorrell advises:

that you don't get sucked into the vortex of global information. It's all too vast to keep up with, and often the way it's presented is too absurd to bother over.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Central Park, The Gates

7,500 gates. Each one is 16 feet high with widths varying from 5 and a half to 18 feet. Spaced at 12 foot intervals, they follow the edges of footpaths in Central Park for 23 miles. Saffron fabric hanging down to 7 feet above the ground and waving towards the next gate. In leafless February they can be seen from every direction.

Twenty-four hours before opening, it is now almost three weeks since Mayor Bloomberg announced this long-conceived art project would go ahead. In chronological order, here are the headlines of that three-week build-up:

Christo's and Jeanne Claude's 'The Gates'
Artist Christo giving New York a good wrap
Christo, unwrapped
Artists Watch 'Gates' Take Shape in NY
Central Park 'Gates' a coup for Christo and wife
Bulgarian at 'The Gates'
Christo, Jeanne-Claude watch 'The Gates' take shape
'The Gates' melds art and money
No reason to blow in the wind
NY art shaped in Springfield
Lifting the Gates in Central Park
Swathes of gold in Central Park
Bulgaria-Born Christo Hires Germans for "The Gates"
Sheets to the wind
Art Project Pilgrims Prepare to Install 'The Gates'
Christo exhibit set for NYC's Central Park
Art: It's Not a Wrap!
The Gates: 20 years and $20m later ... (only in New York)
This time, wrap star Christo's open palette is . . . Central Park
New York awaits `The Gates'
Christo's latest installation gets help from K-College grad
Christo's Massive Central Park Art Installation Resumes
Final Preperation for Opening on "The Gates"
Crews begin weeklong preparation for opening of The Gates in ...
Metamorphosis in Central Park
Curtains going up on 'Gates'
Into the starting 'Gates'
Frames Sprout in Central Park to Support Christo's Art
Curtains for Central Park
Erstwhile wrap artists fling open the gates
Crews prepare for Central Park attraction
Final Touches For Christo's Central Park 'Gates'
Gates installed in Central Park
Barbarians (Well, Mostly Art Lovers) at 'The Gates'
Giant artwork covers miles
Miles-Long Christo Art Exhibit Opens in Central Park
Central Park Makeover: Reality Show, in a Way
Central Park fabric walkway expected to draw thousands of tourists
Opening the Flood Gates
Opening The Gates of contrariness
Is the Big Apple becoming the Big Bonbon?
For the love of Christo...
Christo has a lark in the park
Let 'The Gates' unfurl
'The Gates' Creators to Sign Copies of New York Magazine on ...
Christo and Jeanne Claude to Open 'Gates' in Central Park
The wrap artists come to New York
The Gates takes shape in Central Park
New York police to turn out in force to protect `The Gates' art ...
Artists Christo, Jeanne-Claude prepare to unfurl 'The Gates'
Art in the Park Calls for More Than Velvet Ropes
Wherefore the Gates?
Multi-lingual cops to guard 'Gates'
Central Park gets a makeover, Christo-style
Gates make park work of art
Central Park is hosting The Gates, which are draped in saffron ...
Passionate fans of Christo team up to install latest art
New York prepares for the opening of 'Gates'

Paul Dorrell advises: "You should never let a large installation of any kind pass without attempting to get the press to cover it".

It was because of Christo and Jeanne-Claude that I used to wrap paintings on boards. Using a blue industrial strength saran-wrap I would crudely wrap paintings over and over. The result was that each painting with close concentration was only barely visible through all the folds. Oh yeah, and it made the painting rather blue. I was very happy with these paintings and each one was deliberately painted to be wrapped. A show of twenty-two of them was going to be stupendous until an incident with a policeman caused the finished ones to be unwrapped. Re-wrapping was never an option.

I do like February, and can see why Christo and Jeanne-Claude chose it. For 16 days I imagine New Yorkers will like it too.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Jack Vettriano Paints Umbrellas

The Freedom of Information Act has established that Vettriano, Scotland's most commercially successful artist, has been excluded from the National Galleries not because of snobbery, nor because of his immense popularity. No, Jack Hogan, as his mother knew him, has been ignored because curators believe he isn't very good.

Vettriano himself has railed against these "snobby academics", believing they exclude him because he paints frankly heterosexual art. I'm dismayed after all this time to learn that they actually believe Vettriano is technically unskilled as a painter and that his handling of paint is often dull. Jack seemingly is also an indifferent painter who bases his success on cheap commercial reproductions. I always believed he was awful because he painted umbrellas.

Yes, our original modern artists painted umbrellas in the late nineteenth century, and their Japanese friends and forerunners painted them earlier, but that doesn't excuse their depiction in the late twentieth century, or the unthinkable twenty-first century. Umbrellas are not top shelf heterosexual, blatant or obvious.

Don't get me wrong; I think umbrellas are great. Every artist should have one, and be a man and use one, even if you're a woman. But they are not for painting. To walk under one, to carry one, to use one as a walking stick, well that is to live the artist's life. But to paint one, that is to cop out. That's where Jack joined Beryl Cook and Rolf Harris. Let the people get wet, I say. Let them get burnt. Put down those umbrellas! C'mon now.

I once worked in the same office as a girl who was stunning. Tall, skinny, - too skinny - with long, long hair, and almost elegant. Thing is, she always walked as if she was holding an umbrella. She held her head perfectly at an angle so that she could see out from underneath her non-existent umbrella, whilst staying dry. Indoors this is. When I saw her approaching the water cooler I so wanted to run up to her, put my arm around her, and make her complete by placing an umbrella in her hand. But I didn't; instead I stared and wondered how her long, long, straggly hair always had the appearance of being very wet.

Paul Dorrell Provides Guidance

Although with his previous job as a miner, and his selling of prints, Vettriano has followed a path to success that Paul Dorrell espouses, it does appear that Jack needs to read Paul's section on getting into the galleries.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Hokusai & the Manga Graph

Every time I look at a print by Hokusai I can smell the hair of a former girlfriend.

It's the mountain. Thirty-six views of Fuji. Red Fuji. One hundred views of Fuji. Rendered by Hokusai Fujiyama is the most mathematical of manga mountains, the perfect graph of our relationship. Exponentially it rises up from nothing, dances up there in the clouds for a brief period, then inevitably drops you suddenly, until it finally brings you right back to the bottom, albeit gently in the end.

It was an imperfect six months she went out with me, but even for the short high period I was always behind her. Behind her on the street as she marched to coffee shops I didn't know we were going to, behind her in the department store as she raced to the changing rooms with a skirt that was always too small, behind her as she stepped onto the train for home without me, behind her at an ATM - for she always had more money than I, and behind her in the galleries and museums, especially when Hokusai and the masters of Japanese printing came to town. Behind her, smelling the tangerine scent from her hair whilst staring at our graph over her shoulder.

And of course the graph is always there. Whether surfing on a great wave, or working on a tea plantation, or crossing a river, or measuring a pine tree (one of my favorite past-times), there she is, my girlfriend. Her and I, graphed for eternity. Always there, over somebody's shoulder, or in the distance, and I'm left smelling Tangerine Tickle.

Did Paul Dorrell Know?

When Paul Dorrell snuck in to a museum with his girlfriend to see the ukiyo-e artists, did he know that among the Hiroshiges and Utamoros they were looking at a graph?


Saturday, February 05, 2005

Kate Moss & Pete Doherty: A Love Story in Headlines

I've Found Love With Kate Moss

Well I haven't really, at least not the kind of love you're thinking of. Ex-Libertine, current shambolic Babyshamble, and Tony Hancock fan, Pete Doherty supposedly found that kind of love with Ms Moss. Or so proclaimed the NME on Jan 25. Wondering if this was how Pete was Living the Artist's Life it prompted me to have a look at the news headlines for the last month regarding Pete and Kate:


Jan 4 Kate Moss is not back with ex-beau!

Jan 5 The Libertines No More - But I Still Love Pete

Jan 6 Libertines Officially Broken Up
Jan 6 Libertines Break-up Due To Tumour, Love-Loss



Jan 12 Kate Moss 31st Birthday Bash Promises To Be Wildest Yet
Jan 12 A Look at the Libertines

Jan 14 What a Bloody Shambles

Jan 15 Kate Moss has proven to be a model of resiliency


Jan 17 Love is the Druggie

Jan 18 Babyshambles' Pete Doherty Scores With Kate Moss?
Jan 18 Kate has been linked with troubled pop star Pete Doherty

Jan 19 Is Kate Moss 'smitten' with Pete Doherty?

Jan 23 TV show's shock claim Model was 'out of it'

Jan 25 Pete's model behaviour
Jan 25 Kate Moss Tattoos Boyfriend’s Initials
Jan 25 Pete Doherty and Kate Moss an item
Jan 25 Pete Doherty: “Kate Moss And I Will Last”
Jan 25 Kate Will Come To Rue Her Tattoo, Says Top Tattoo Removal Specialist
Jan 25 Pete Doherty confesses his love for Kate Moss

Jan 26 Pete Doherty and Kate Moss in love after dating only a week
Jan 26 Kate Moss Smoulders in New Ad Campaign
Jan 26 Sadie warns Kate to stay away from Pete

Jan 27 Kate Moss Tired of New Boyfriend

Jan 28 Pete Doherty Warned He Will End Up Like Phil Lynott
Jan 28 Kate Moss ditches beau Pete Doherty
Jan 28 Kate Moss Dumps Wild Pete
Jan 28 Kate Moss ends her affair through SMS!
Jan 28 Pete Doherty Loses Girlfriend Then Hour Later His Drummer Quits
Jan 28 Doherty 'determined' to win back supermodel
Jan 28 Kate and Doherty Back Together
Jan 28 Doherty is determined to marry Kate Moss!

Jan 29 Kate Moss "can't help" being in love with Pete Doherty

Jan 30 Kate Moss and Pete Doherty: Is she really going out with him?

Jan 31 Pete Doherty Pimps Out Girlfriends For Drugs?
Jan 31 Moss threatens Doherty after drug controversy
Jan 31 Pete's pimping exposé
Jan 31 Gemma's Goodbye Letter to Pete
Jan 31 Kate Moss splits with singer Pete Doherty

Feb 1 Pete Doherty up for NME awards with two bands
Feb 1 Shock!! Pete Doherty Turns Up On Time!!!
Feb 1 Kate Moss' pals worry about her relationship with Pete Doherty
Feb 1 For Pete's sake, Kate
Feb 1 Kate Moss gives drugs deadline to Pete Doherty!
Feb 1 Kate Moss Dumped Boyfriend After Two Weeks of Dating

Feb 2 Top Story: Doherty Documentary Broadcast
Feb 2 Pete Doherty Risking Severe Internal Damage
Feb 2 Pals say Moss, new love a bad match
Feb 2 Chris Martin asks Gwyneth to stay away from Kate Moss!
Feb 2 Press pester Pete

Feb 3 Anger over 'heroin is not that bad' claim
Feb 3 Freud's Kate Moss painting to be sold
Feb 3 ‘Spaced out’ rock star arrested in Farringdon
Feb 3 Max Carlish gets Pete Doherty arrested
Feb 3 Pete: He came at me with a sword

Feb 4 Troubled rock star Pete Doherty held over assault
Feb 4 Surprise! Pete Doherty Arrested Allegedly While High
Feb 4 Doherty's ascent to rock infamy
Feb 4 Top Story: Pete Doherty Arrested Again
Feb 4 Blackmail and Robbery Charges for Doherty
Feb 4 Ex-Libertine Doherty Jailed **
Feb 4 Addict singer plans Russian sabbatical to keep Kate Moss
Feb 4 Doherty has a quiet night in... at Her Majesty's pleasure
Feb 4 Libertines Pressing On Without Doherty
Feb 4 Former Libertine Doherty wins bail
Feb 4 Supermodel Kate's Nude Painting Revealed
Feb 4 Doherty bailed on robbery and blackmail charge
Feb 4 Rock Star Doherty Freed on Bail by UK Court
Feb 4 No late nights for bailed rock star Doherty
Feb 4 Rock Star Doherty Misses Bail Deadline
Feb 4 Nude portrait of Kate Moss up for auction
Feb 4 Doherty to spend weekend in jail after missing bail deadline
Feb 4 Singer Doherty Back Behind Bars
Feb 4 The Libertines: not over

Feb 5 Pete Doherty To Face Rehab On Monday
Feb 5 Talent Trapped in a Freak Show

Living the Artist's Life? - Pete? or Kate? Wonder what Paul would say. And the correct answer is Lucian Freud.

Part 2 of Pete & Kate, A Tabloid Love Story here
Part 3 of the Moss & Doherty love story in headlines here