Archive for figure

Modigliani and iCarly (gets punched in the face)

Posted in Art, Artists, Pop-culture, Social Science, Studio Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 9 August, 2009 by endlessslug

Yesterday, I received my new Modigliani book in the mail.  You really cannot beat an 80 cent art book from Amazon.  For those of you reading along, the book is Modigliani: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculptures, edited by Werner Schmalenbach, Prestel Press 2005.  This is a little coffee-table sorta book but since I was lacking both finances and an in-house book on Modigliani, I could not pass it up for the price.  It is a cute little book though, full of good photos, good interviews – including a very entertaining appendix where a number of famous people explain their relationships with the artist.  The early portion of the book includes a number of essays on Modigliani and a number of photos of work by his influences – something I wish I would see more of in some of these books.  As a younger art student, it would have been very helpful to have some influential reference work right in the volume.  Now that I am professionally versed in many of the worlds artists over the last few thousand years, I no longer need references.  However, still always something is new.  Through this book I discovered a new favorite painter whose work will one day be another blog post – once I can afford one of his many $400 books…  Until then, he shall remain my secret.


I study many things – too many things according to most who know me.  One of my areas of concern is television and other media directed at certain demographics, namely young adults and children.  As I age, I get more and more concerned with the nature of this entertainment as people who used to make this sort of programming because they wanted to give way to people doing it because they’re paid to – and paid to fit certain requirements.  A quick example, since this all has little to do with my blog as it is, would be the Dora the Explorer show.  It recently came to my attention that this terrible disaster of children’s programming was in fact created after paying some show designers to make a new show.  There were no previous ideas, no preliminaries, nothing – just “here’s some money, make us a hit”.  Once I head this, I wanted to go huddle around Fred Rogers’ grave.  Point being, there are few very authentic-feeling shows that really know what kids need to learn these days replaced by what I see as mindless placating of behavior kids say they want.  Most of the quality and refined-ness of things in the world today are being slowly pecked away by the need to bring the consumer directly in line with the producer.  But what do consumers know? They consume anything.  Some of us consumers are more aware than others, but I still do not usually make my own clothes, kill my own cow when I’m hungry, or create my own livingroom dramas.  Actually, I have done a number all of those things, but not regularly.  We live in a society where we believe we have input on the things around us – which, to some degree we do.  I believe we have this extensive input at the sacrifice of developmental refinement and quality.  Where are our standards?  Dora just keeps looking at me and yelling things in other languages… it’s so weird.  What happened to my cigarette-smoking tom-cat and his trickster mouse?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the ‘new’, I just wish it didn’t suck so much.

I constantly research.  There’s no point in criticizing something when you haven’t experienced it or have some sort of data that might suggest a certain idea about what you’re criticizing.  After complaining about kids’ TV lately, some folks suggested that I check out iCarly on Nickelodeon as it seems to have some sort of “pulse” of the youth.  I watched one episode and barely got through it.  On the plus side, the show is hip.  The use of internet publishing and video-streaming is very innovative and cutting-edge, while maintaining a certain connection to an occasionally viewing young adult audience.  The language is contemporary and seems like the dialog is actually written by folks that either are younger or have some kids in high school, or at least did some field research.  On the downside, the humor is lame, in the way Saved by the Bell was lame, although I’d prefer to watch iCarly still.  The show writers hint at, frequently, some very good lessons or ideas to get across to the upcoming youth population.  Upcoming meaning, soon-to-be-adults.  There does seem to be a certain sense of responsibility with this show, and that I commend as well – but again, it’s just stupid overall.  The show reflects a reality, I believe few kids can relate to, but I might be out of my element in that claim.  I did notice a high number of code-switched phrases and idioms.  For those of you unfamiliar with this phenomena of linguistics, a code-switch is simply the use of a word as a direct replacement for another word but unlike a metaphor or simile, the words switched have exactly the same implied meaning, not a relative one.  The code-switching, I believe is part of the show’s success.  The language sounds legit, and it is, but it’s spoken the same way that kids speak around or near their parents or other disapproving adults.  So, that illegal substance or sex reference you made as a kid is hidden in a reference to another word with no known symbolic shared reference except contextually in that moment.  “We are going to get naked tonight” encodes to “we are going to get silly tonight,” for example.  There is a sense of metaphor, but we really have a simple replacement.  From the couple episodes of iCarly I’ve now seen, it seems to excel at this behavior.

The point of everything: iCarly got punched in the face!

I will probably never watch this crap show again.  However, I did have to watch the episode last night where the leading character gets punched in the face, twice!  I was skimming through the post-modern essays in my Modigliani book when I heard the fight sounds from the episode.  I was put into an already delightful state of intellectual bliss with a couple of Modigliani’s nudes, when I look up to see Carly all hyper and happy, jumping with her friends in a mindlessly manga-style way, right before a fight she thinks is fake.  She gleefully hops into the ring, puts her little mouth-piece in, smiles, and then the handy-cam shot of a fist comes hurtling into her mouth.  Carly is wide-eyed and shocked, when BOOM, fist #2 impacts her face.  This event of Modigliani’s nudes coupled with a crap kids’ TV star’s face-punch was a moment of artistic catharsis pour moi.  Back to the studio I go.

Now, if only I could make Spongebob’s sun explode…


The Sad State of Figure Art: Jenny Saville

Posted in Artists, Contemorary Art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 5 August, 2009 by endlessslug

Today,  I picked up a copy of Jenny Saville‘s figure work from Amazon.  Utter crap.  It’s such a shame that someone who has some very nicely refined skill at figure drawing blows it on deformity pseudo-paintings.  One of the worst forms of fine art painting in the world is the “shock-art” movement.  I did not get a chance to read through much of the text but I did get some good skimming in.  Apparently, there are some sort of homage ideas in these works reminiscent of rare works by other famous artists such as Renoir and less rare work like those of Francis Bacon.  Saville’s work, however, is a far cry from either, but in our contemporary setting of inane art criticism and baseless comparisons, the common person might be easily misinformed.  There is a place for shock art: a single room, in a single gallery, somewhere in the world which is labeled “shock art”.  One can go to it if one wishes, but they will not see anything except reason after reason that shock art is more personal therapy than anything otherwise functional for the public – or any other audience except the artist him or herself.  Really, no one cares but you Jenny.

I picked this book up because I was interested in contemporary figure painters since I like to think of myself as one as well.  I’d like to find some peerage out there.  Rarely do I read amazon reviews, because again, we have the common schmo emoting all over a webpage but sometimes a little gem of awareness peeks through.  In the reviews for Saville’s book, one nice reviewer had mentioned that her new work was no where near as abrasive and interesting (my words, I don’t recall the actual words but go to the link above if you wish) as her preliminary body of work.  And therein lies the problem of shock art: the emotion fades as one triumphs over the emotion that created it and moves on, never to look back one moment to the painting made.  Don’t artists have sketch books anymore?

Of course, we cannot expect everyone to be a master artisan.  My reviews, rants, and criticisms tend to make me sound like I have very high standards and that everyone should be a little learning Leonardo – this is not the case at all.  However, there should still be some sort of standard education in the foundations of art and what art means.  We do have definitions of art that work very well and have worked for centuries.  Our contemporary world likes to think that the rules are too constrictive, that they can disregard them – sure you can, it’s how we evolve – but we need to know what the rules are first before we break them.  Instead, I hear hundreds of horror stories from art students about their professors letting them ‘paint what they want’ leading to an army of inconsistent, unprofessional, meaningless producers of low-grade consumer aesthetic commodities.  This is how the bills are paid now-a-days.  Produce so much that something must sell, forget the quality.  And, when something does sell, now we find confidence in creating more of what sold, further de-fining the craft of fine art into a conveyor line of totally pointless – but “original” crap.  On that note, I’ll post about Audrey Kawasaki very soon; another fine example of mass-production of totally emotive, pointless crap designed to placate a very ignorant and simply gratified public.  She wins!