Yellow Canary Art Dictionary (1995)



 Abstraction, Non-Objectivity:   1. Just an abandoning, a dumping of humanity and the big deal      2. In our day, worn-out, Godsend formulas for hack artists      3. Early in the 20th Century, an understandable attempt to escape reality and its problems by finding meaning in a private world of aesthetic manipulation       4.  While there is an abstract language of forms and colors, it is extremely limited compared to using art as a means of relating to, and expressing, nature and the societies we all inhabit       5. The abstract language of form and color is, of course, also in use in the creation of a realist art; their symbolic meanings are present whether the art is abstract or realistic


 Academicism:  1. Any art, whatever its style or period, that is based on formula rather than a direct response to life        2. In 19th Century France, using exquisite, highly trained, refined technique to paint aesthetic formulas based on Neo-Classicism and Romanticism       3. In 20th Century America, early and late, the creation of watered-down versions of French Impressionism       4.  In 20th Century America, the substitution of the surface illustration of reality for the fine art construction of form and reality       5. Pretty, formulaic pictures...Impressionist, or otherwise...extolled by academic art magazines and commercial art galleries that specialize in such fare        6. In 20th (and 21st) Century America...and the infinite variety of decadent, bizarre formulations passed off as "advanced," "cutting edge," "abstract," "modern" or "contemporary" art that, in fact, are as much manifestations of the entrenched academicism of the pseudo-avant-garde academy as the dimpled nymphs of France ever were


 Aesthetics:   1. The theory and study of beauty      2. In painting, the elements, the building blocks -- and how they are used -- in the construction of an image and design      3. They are color, light and dark, movement, composition, form, paint substance and brushwork      4. The key question...are these building blocks -- the aesthetics -- used creatively, profoundly?      5. If the answer is "no," then the resulting painting may be clever, trivial, decorative, and will not rise to a very high level      6. If the aesthetics are used significantly, profoundly, then a work of important art has been created...if its "content" (idea, meaning, feeling or story) is equally profound      7. If the aesthetics are of a decent level, but the content is weak, then you have what amounts to a "pretty face" devoid of brain or depth        8. Both aesthetics and content are of the highest levels in the work of the great artists; you never have one without the other


 Allegory, Allegorical:   1. Symbolic meanings consciously painted into a picture to reveal truths, characteristics and processes of life


 Arrogance:  1. absolute necessity for insignificant artists whatever their style  2. fill the vacuum created by lack of artistic insight and the inability to translate it into significant art


 Art:  1. Ever the search for truth and beauty    2. The expression of ugliness and horror, if significantly perceived and constructed    3. One alternative, more constructive than most, to the stultification of materialism


 "Art for Art's Sake":   1. A late 19th Century idea encouraged by the aesthetic experiments and innovations of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists      2. In other words, art is an independent entity and activity, created for itself, based on its own characteristics and results with no connection to, or measurement of its validity against, any outside sources or standards...little, incidental, forgotten  things like life, nature, mankind, God, truth, beauty, tradition, values, ethics      3. The result, of course -- without standards or measurements -- was a steady, downward, 20th Century slide into total corruption and meaninglessness...with some interesting side-alley aesthetic excursions      4. Without measurement or standards, anything goes; anything the artist says is art, is art; anything so-called avant-garde collectors and institutions are willing to pay money for will continue to be produced and identified as art      5. If conscience, insight and understanding are completely absent, and human willfulness and perversity gain control, then all that can follow is artistic catastrophe      6. If the convolutions and affectations of the human brain, in its arrogant, empty, self-aggrandizing processes, can cause the collapse of civilizations, it can certainly destroy the arts      7. And, it has


 Art and Culture in the Contemporary World: 1. Serious thought, creative insight?      2. Enhancing the art and life of mankind?      3. "Fah-gedda-bowd-dit"


 Art Education (Positive):   1. Students learn to "see"      2. They are awakened to the character, reality, color and design of Nature and the world -- and how to use these tools to translate the world into significant art -- by sensitive, intelligent teachers who themselves are aware of these things      3. Learn to draw reality with perception, character, vitality and intensity      4. Become familiar with media and techniques that are not ends in themselves, but the means of self-expression through a visual and emotional relationship with the reality of life and the world      5. Students are imbued with a serious, profound, poetic understanding of art, a love and respect for art and the great artists of the past, that will not allow the young artists to cheapen or degrade art, either now or in the future      6. They understand that they are responsible for upholding, renewing and re-discovering the timeless tradition and meanings of art that so many artists before them have given their lives to discover and uphold      7. They also understand that it is their responsibility to bring fresh eyes and hearts to the creation of art that continues the tradition of past greatness within the context, the needs and aspirations of life that are both timeless and specific to themselves and society in their own time      8. In other words, students learn timeless art principles, and that they are not to mindlessly copy formulas of the past or present; they learn to see, create and understand art anew, with awareness of past greatness


 Art Education (Negative):    1. Students are taught formulas, whether academic or contemporary, rather than creative individuality, and learning to "see" and make significant art from Nature and the world within the context of timeless art and life principles      2. Students become victims of the decadence of the art world as it is copied and transmitted by academia      3. They become clones of their teachers who are themselves products of the art world, and addicted to the fashionable aesthetic formulas      4. Thus the decline of art in the 20th Century, and now in the 21st, becomes more precipitous as generation after generation of young artists, educated in the cliches of the pseudo-avant-garde, slip farther and farther away from a grounding in life and timeless art principles      5. The tragedy is compounded by the fact that most of the young artists will never recover from their mis-education, never be able to acknowledge, respond to and work with their doubts about contemporary art that, together with personal and creative courage, could help them pull out of the terrible artistic pit they have been placed in      6. How can they be expected to resist the society-wide brain-washing that shapes them, makes them slide farther into artistic emptiness, taking contemporary art down with them, deeper into the hole than it already is?


 Art "Experts":     1.  While there are people who genuinely love art in all areas of the visual arts, there are far too many who are only knowledgeable about historical and contemporary artists, styles, movements, chronologies and sequences in a dry, conventional, stereotypical manner rather than understanding art as a living reflection of the lives and universal aspirations of society, humanity and the artists themselves.     2. Significant art is not dead formula, so often aggrandized in the contemporary world; it is as vitally alive as the blood pulsing through our bodies, and the poetic feelings, ideas and search for meaning in art and life that inspire  genuine artists  and art lovers        3.  So pathetically few in the world of galleries, museums and academia have any realization of this      4.  They are content, in their self-satisfaction and limitation, to merchandise diluted art "products" for sale and the propagation of their own empty reputations      5.  Sadly, too many "experts" are dead to deeper, more transcendent art, existing in a world of narrowly circumscribing aesthetic fashion as superficial, pandering and witless as any popular television programming or clothing designs paraded by runway models in a fashion show


 Art Galleries:     1. Exhibit art based on fashionable, pseudo-avant-garde formulas, and safely conventional conceptions, whether abstract or realistic       2. More interested in money than art       3. Art is merely a product       4. Could just as easily sell tennis shoes, mattresses and used cars rather than art       5. Probably more expert about the former than the latter


 Art Museums:    1. When they store, preserve and exhibit the great art of the past, art museums serve their traditional, and expected, function as repositories of human greatness      2. When they abdicate their responsibilities by espousing perverse, dehumanized contemporary art and cultural non-values, they become simply another societal institution supporting the debasing of art and life      3. In this age of the destruction of values in art, museums must be examined to see whether they are serving artistic greatness or artistic decay      4. Like many other contemporary institutions that once served the cause of art and humanity, many museums can no longer be depended upon to be doing so today      5. Unfortunately, just because paintings and sculpture, and the endless variety of contemporary artistic manifestations are exhibited in a place called a "MUSEUM," does not necessarily mean such work has any degree of artistic excellence      6. The eternal puzzle, the eternal question, remains...why can't -- or why won't -- museum people, supposedly knowledgeable in art, support artistic excellence over artistic trivia in the world today?      7. It is interesting and ironic that the response of the artistic elite and that of the ordinary viewer and buyer of art in the galleries is exactly the same; they both respond to dead, fashionable, formulaic art.  But they are 180 degrees apart in their tastes.  While the educated museum elite often support the latest, formulaic "avant-garde" fashions, the man in the street favors the fashions of decorative, illustrational art, and formulaic photographic "realism"      8. Maverick genius Frank Lloyd Wright once described some strata of those involved in the arts as "educated beyond their capacity."  This may be the problem with art museum personnel.  Not only may they be overly educated, it appears they have been educated in the passing, surface formulas and fashions of art rather than its timeless, underlying principles


 Art Patrons, Patronage:    1. Sensitive, intelligent lovers and collectors of art who wish to live with -- and share with others -- the beauty and greatness of humanity's history of artistic achievement     2. Ignorant, crudely materialistic acquirers of products they intend to make a profit from or gain a name for themselves in the art magazines or on museum walls      3. Their range of motivation is as broad and varied as that of the human race itself      4. Artistic patronage, for obvious reasons of money and power, almost always comes from institutions like government, church, corporations, wealthy families and individuals (there are exceptions of art lovers of modest resources who scrimp and save to pursue their love, like the 19th Century's Victor Chocquet, who amassed a major collection of Impressionism and earlier French art on a minor bureaucrat's income)      5. Patrons collect and sponsor art for both honorable and selfish reasons...their love of art and beauty; their desire for self-aggrandizement      6. There were straight-forward or mixed motives for the many altarpieces painted during the Renaissance in which the patron and his family were depicted piously devotional before Christ or other holy subjects      7. Some include: genuine piety; fear of death; appeasement of God; appeasement of the Church; payment for a debt of doubt or sin; display of family piety (and the wealth to be able to afford it) before the rest of the congregation      8. In our time, art works and collections are donated to museums because the work is loved, and there is a desire to have it preserved, protected and displayed for the enjoyment of others      9. Art is also donated to gain tax advantages, fame, approval, gratitude, the "immortality" of one's name being associated with the art in the museum (in addition to the modesty of wall labeling, museum wings -- paid for by the donor -- are created with the donor's name prominently featured)      10. Aside from the support of artists great and small -- which is of major, often life and career-saving in its importance -- the benefit, significance and lasting effect of art patronage depends on the level of artistic and other understanding of the patron, or their advisors, in the selection of the highest quality art      11. If the patron's collection is limited to works that reflect the hype and fashionable artistic cliches of the day, then, if acquired by a museum, it will continue to harm, demoralize, the spirit and understanding of the public (after all, it's in a must be good...or must it?), as the patron's original purchases harmed art and society by financially supporting trivia or perversity over genuine, lasting art


 Arts Funding Agencies:  1. About as helpful to art as taxpayer-funded studies to determine why mice eat cheese (they like it)      2. Along with bad taste and stupidity, they keep phoney art financially propped up that might otherwise collapse of its own dead weight      3. It is maddening to think that perverse mediocrities are sustained in their destructive aesthetic diddling, when significant artists too often must live lives of such difficult struggle in the effort to continue in the creation of their art      4. Arts funding agencies, private and governmental, have little insight into what makes art genuine      5. They operate and make their judgments based solely on the fads and fashions of the day that receive the publicity in art publications written by critics as ignorant as themselves, and upon the references and recommendations written by those who also abide by, believe in, and support the aesthetic trivia of the day, themselves gaining honors and financial rewards from this thoroughly corrupt system       6. Poor Van Gogh.  The inhuman people of his day, ignorant of art and life, in the end responsible for his death, have been recycled in ours.  Poor art.  Poor us.


 Artist:  1. A person foolish enough to think anyone would be interested in what they are doing       2. A lemming going exactly opposite the direction of all the other lemmings    3. A child of dreams in a world of hard facts    4. Someone with concerns so different from most as nearly to be another species or from another planet    5. A shrewd, fast-thinking, facile operator manipulating art formulas and an art system rapidly going nowhere    6. Capable of healing art, if he/she would


 Artistic Communication:  1.  The artist communicates, interacts with nature and reality in the process of creation    2. Then, he communicates to others, through his work, what he has seen, felt and learned    3. In great art, significant thoughts, ideas, insights and beauty are passed on to humanity for the artistic, poetic and spiritual enrichment of all


 Artistic Content:   1. The meaning, ideas, emotions, poetry, "story" contained in a work of art      2. The greatest artists are not communicating the beauty of aesthetics alone...their work is rich in content      3. They use great aesthetics to support their message about life, Nature, humanity, God      4. Content explores  the beauty of life, the horror of life, the struggle of life, the perplexity and mystery of life, the truth of life...and the artist's reactions to the range of human experience, fears and aspirations


 Artistic Determination, Courage of Convictions:   1. Artists put their individual perceptions and beliefs on the line, open themselves to criticism of what they are doing, and why...the way any individuals do who express their feelings and ideas      2. Artists of significance must believe in what they do in order to do it      3. If artists have periods of doubt, as many do, then their artistic need, their drive to create must carry them through


 Artistic Double Standard:   1. Paintings by ignored artists, not favored by the art establishment and its love of fashionable formulas, gather dust and damage, stacked in storage and studio during a lifetime, then, by means of a twist of fate aided by the profit motive, are "discovered," "determined" (too often after an artist's of the true cliches of art) to be valuable, both aesthetically and financially, as "precious" objects, beautifully framed and adored in galleries, auction houses and museums      2. Hack artists, churning out aesthetic pap for a lifetime, are honored for their adherence to pap and formula, receive the plaudits of the mindless art crowd during the decades of their lives...until...later generations, with more understanding, consign them to the basements of museums and the dustbin of art history


 Artistic Dreaming:  1. What Paul Gauguin said he did in nature when painting...and advised others to do   2. Contact with deeper elements of our psyche allowing poetic inclinations to surface   3. Cutting through the mediocre layer of daily social/business intercourse to reach a more resonant, creative level of existence, awareness and responsiveness


 Artistic Intelligence:  1. able to overcome the intrinsic difficulty, even hardship, involved in the creation of significant art, whether painting, sculpture, novel, play, poem     2. 80%-90% of those professing to be artists in any given area of the arts are unable to create significant art, art that will last beyond the momentary fashions and artificially-created demand of the day     3. Without creative intelligence and force--more than simple ability or talent; these latter characteristics are what ordinary artists have--it is impossible to create work that is serious, significant and enduring in both aesthetics and content


 Artistic Principles...Timeless:    1. Honesty and integrity      2. Courage      3. Discipline      4. Searching for truth, rather than the easy aesthetic solution      5. Visually, poetically and spiritually aware of oneself, humanity, Nature and the world      6. A natural and/or developed ability and desire to create significant art from your experience of, and feelings and ideas about, life      7. Draw, paint, sculpt with character and truth in lines, shapes, forms      8. An abhorrence of artistic formula      9. Aware of artistic greatness, and what and why it is...including profundity of expression; richness of aesthetics      9. Depth of insight and observation, and the genius to manifest it into an art form of the highest quality and significance


 Artistic "Seeing," Artistic Vision:   When artistic "seeing" is introduced to the student in college or art school -- if they are lucky enough to have this happen to them, rather than inculcated with the picture-making cliches and formulas of the day -- the young artist realizes they were "blind" for eighteen years, seeing only what was necessary to function in the world, not the world itself, not the color, form, design relationships, spirit, poetry of the world necessary to the creation of significant art and a significant visual and poetic understanding of reality


 Selective Vision:    1. First of all...all of us, all of humanity, are blind, or, at best, partially sighted      2. As we think, so we see      3. We "see" according to our family background, the kind of people we are, what we've been taught, the experiences we've had...and miss all of the rest     4. No one in the history of humanity on earth has been able to see and understand the totality of reality      5. All vision, thinking and understanding -- our perception of reality and the world -- are contained in, filtered through the physical substance, variables and limitations of our brain and body; our consciousness and awareness are constrained by, trapped within, modified by, our filtering bodies (the "containers" of our cosnciousness), brains, experiences, prejudices, beliefs      6. We see what we are able, allow ourselves, to see, within our inevitable limitations of character, awareness, emotions, experience, training, brain-washing      7. To state the obvious, this delicate balance of consciousness and awareness can also be thrown awry by any of many physical or mental illnesses, or ingested substances       8. In such a tenuous situation, no wonder "normal" people cannot agree on what happened in an event they just witnessed, much less the great issues of art and life  


 Automatism:  1. A curious, interesting manifestation of early modern art--continuing in our time--where all conscious thought is denied in the creation of art    2. In a process utilizng what, at other times, would be called creative "instinct," artists relied on the accidental, random, mindless placement of shapes and materials on their canvas in the hope and belief that their "unconscious" (since Freud and Jung, another magically fashionable, mystically reverberating term and concept for powerful, inward, unknown, guiding forces once called "God") will do the "right thing," make the artistically right moves when paper, string or paint are dropped or splattered      3. This attitude, quite understandable in terrible times, was a clear abdication of personal responsibility and personal power, hopelessly ineffectual anyway in the face of a world gone mad with war and social disintegration.  Who among us would not try to run away from the madness of apparently, supposedly, "rational" minds--world leaders--who were destroying the world?  It was not possible for anyone, artists included, to "think" or "reason" their way out of the horrors of four years of trench warfare during World War I and the subsequent effects on the psyche of humanity lasting even until the present moment    4. Our own loss of faith in mankind and belief in the world, dating at least from that time, has been repeatedly shattered by century-long catastrophes such as this     5. If artists no longer believed in God (or human society with any purpose), there had, by the nature of human existence, to be some substitute to take His place...automatism, the unconscious, purposeful "chance"--the belief in "happy accidents," as they're called, while at the same time believing there is no such thing as accident...everything happens for a purpose in its proper place and time  


 Automatic Writing:  1. Automatism related to writing rather than painting      2. Allowing the automatic flow of words by turning off our inbuilt censorship and editing capacities--trying to eliminate rational response or restriction, in other words--so that the purposeful unconscious will reveal the truths it contains (obviously a positive procedure for any writer, to a certain extent...don't interrupt the flow of thought by editing, self-criticizing, while writing; write first, edit later)     3. "Stream of consciousness" is a related concept, another way of saying it     4. Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac apparently wrote his book of memoirs and experiences, "On the Road," using a continuous roll of paper in his typewriter so that his flow of thoughts would not be interrupted by paper changes      5. The nonsense poetry of Dadaism was stream of consciousness activity, letting whatever sounds and rhythms, or non-rhythms, however odd or irrational, come into being, unaffected by self-censoring


 Avant-Garde (Genuine):  1.  Original thinking breaks new ground in all fields     2. First disturbs, then eventually opens dull minds of the human masses...and the "experts" in any given undreamt possibilities     3. Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Goya, Van Gogh, Cezanne...some of the genuine artistic avant-garde of their time     4. Inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, statesmen, writers, theologians, scientists, their highest levels of creativity, cannot help but be members of the avant-garde in the originality of their thinking


 Avant-Garde (False):  1. Destructive, self-aggrandizing endeavors of those apparently unable to accept and live with themselves...their own foibles, fears and weaknesses (personal and artistic)...projecting their self-loathing upon the world     2. Revolutionaries revolting against themselves in the name of changing the world, art, etc.     3. Unholy rather than divine discontents     4. Substitute ambitious opportunism for genuine insight and achievement     5. Thumb their noses at tradition; disrupt the status quo; disquiet "bourgeois"  smugness; shock sensibilities of any not as "advanced" as they    6. Adroitly take advantage of the ignorant who desperately yearn to rise above the ordinary and distinguish themselves by appearing more brilliantly daring and advanced than their stolid brethren     7. With nothing life and society-enhancing to offer, they can only destroy the ethics, values, traditions and positive functioning of their field of operation   


 Avoidance of Reality in 20th Century Art:  1. We do our utmost to avoid physical, emotional and psychological pain     2. Can it be any surprise that artists sought the avoidance of pain in this most painful, most terrible of centuries, where the impact and extent of its horror was magnified by the mechanical genius of a world inventive beyond any nightmares of a pre-mechanical age?    3. This self-saving, pain-reducing turning away from the horrible realities of the world is the fundamental explanation for abstraction and non-objectivity in 20th Century art    4. Also the reason for the emphasis, up to the present day, on aesthetic diddling, the equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns, in an effort to counter fears of living and of a very dangerous world; keeping busy in order not to think     5. Artists lose themselves in paint, color, designs and random markings devoid of any relationship to life and the world...and any real meaning beyond a revelation of their artistic, psychological and emotional predicament     6. One thus avoids the stress and tremendous expenditure of energy and life force necessary for the creation of serious art of any kind, especially the creation of serious art relating to such a world.  Such art makes an immense demand on artistic discipline, commitment and the strength of mind and will to deal with problematic thoughts, ideas and riddles of life among the inhabitants of our beautiful and brutal planet


 Awards and Prizes:  1.  Given to those most reflecting the prejudices of the award and prize givers    2.  Have almost nothing to do with the talent and significance of the recipients     3. Awarded by one friend on a committee to another not on the committee    4.  When previous awardees gain positions on committees, they give awards and prizes to the former committee members    5.  Inbred?  Oh, yeah      6. But, even more basic to the psychology and motivation of award-giving, and contrary to the perception that the "awardees" are the ones being honored...awards are used to honor and justify the power and position of THOSE WHO GIVE THE AWARDS.  Think about it...The act of awarding prizes and honors declares that the "awarders" are the arbiters, the experts, the power-brokers in their field, further solidifying their positions


 Bad Art:  1. As debilitating to spiritual health and poetic insight as junk food is to the body       2. Ever notice how you feel weaker during and after viewing an exhibition of bad art; you're blood turned to fizzy water?       3. As dangerous to human life as radioactivity      4. One of the elements destructive of society      5. Just another corruption of the ethics and values necessary for survival of an individual or a civilization


 Barbarianism:  Whether in art or society, perverse ideas and actions from the basest foundations of mankind, rooted in the rudimentary muck and filth of existence -- ignorance, arrogance, fanaticism, greed, narrow-minded self-interest, corruption, cruelty and hubris -- that larger humanity has ever sought to rise above through elevated consciousness, profound thought, spiritual awareness and insight, the accumulated wisdom of man...and the simplest, clearest, most obvious revelations of common sense combined with awareness of the poetry of life


 Barbarians:  1. Those with little understanding, sensitivity or awareness who range from politely dense to overtly manipulative, destructive and corrupt      2. Dominant, sad to say, in too much art and too many other areas of contemporary endeavor      3. Deliberately destroy values, ethics and aesthetics in order to destroy the civilization they hate    4. Crude, brutal, bestial people, existent in all societies from primitive to most technologically developed, who neither understand nor appreciate truth, beauty, ethics or the timeless, aspiring, life-enhancing spirit and poetry of humanity and the human soul      5.  See Nihilism


 The Baroque (also see Expressionism, Romanticism):  1. 17th Century art movement in Catholic countries countering Martin Luther's Protestant call for reformation of the Church      2. In Italy, murals and ceiling paintings are rampant with the whirling motion of angels, saints and the blessed ascending to heaven      3. Contrarily in Protestant Holland, but also simultaneously in Catholic Italy and Spain, the Baroque produces the realism of painters like the Dutchman Rembrandt, Italian Caravaggio and Spaniard Velasquez      4. Rather than an art of ecstatic movement expressing spiritual elevation and fulfillment, theirs is a monumental realism finding the divine in richly-developed paintings of people engaged in everyday activities, as well as biblical, spiritual pursuits      5. Their equivalent of an art of dramatic movement is one of dramatic contrasts of light and dark that not only create massively three-dimensional forms set in a richly poetic, mysterious atmosphere, but explores the symbolic and spiritual characteristics of these elemental aspects of nature and human existence     6. Light, because of the fact of "day," is the basic, most significant symbol of life itself, and as such, of spirituality...divine luminosity and spiritual presence, rightness and justice, amid the darkness of "night"...human doubt, corruption, evil      7. In the broadest sense of the term, as used today, the Baroque defines any art based on emotion and movement, a free-form style emphasizing energy and flux rather than stability; the sinuous movement of a figure-eight or yin-yang symbol versus the Classical order of the geometric triangle or square


 Beauty I:  1. Elevated color, form and feeling that uniquely combine in a painting, human being, landscape, bird or animal      2. Along with truth and love, the ultimate reward given mankind by God     3. Counters the evil and ugliness of the world and the human heart    4. That which offends the dull and insentient


 Beauty II:  1. Is not in the eye of the beholder       2. Is not a relative concept     3. Cannot be evaluated or degraded by conventional taste or fashionable  misunderstanding       4. Is a specific, timeless, rock-solid value like truth, ethics, justice, good


 "Big Bang":  1. Pop Art, cartoon short-cut to the origin of the universe      2. You can almost see the dialogue balloon pop up with "BIG BANG" inside of it      3. Perfect explanation for a superficial, materialistic society     4. About as useful and informative as a television commercial or situation comedy     5. An enduring spiritual, poetic interpretation of the universe to hang our hats on     6. Pop goes the weasel


 Big Bucks:  The reason for art


 Pieter Brueghel, "Hunters in the Snow":   1. The beauty of Pieter Brueghel the Elder's (1525-1569) beloved painting, "Hunters in the Snow," is extraordinary, and can be enjoyed on many levels...just by looking at and absorbing the totality of the work, then letting the eye and mind range over it from area to area, object to object...the beautifully painted hunters, their dogs, the trees and village houses scattered in the snow, the distant valley ponds with skaters, the birds and expressively thrusting distant peaks      2. When we begin to think about the painting and what the artist has done to accomplish his vision, we find the beauty lies in its vital design pattern of contrasting lights and darks, its clarity of realistic, poetic vision and the profundity of meaning he has instilled in a scene that lesser artists would make into mere anecdote, story-telling.  Brueghel creates not only a painting of 16th Century country life in Flanders, but a universal statement of the beauty of life and nature, and the aspirations of mankind      3. While the dark foreground hunters, their dogs and the trees contrast beautifully, in terms of aesthetics, with the snowy hill they trudge upon, the white rooftops of houses and the distant white vista, the darkness of the hunters also suggests a downcast psychological, spiritual and emotional state of being as well      4. The painter's skill and clarity of observation create forms that are both very real and, at the same time, abstract in their simple directness, merging three-dimensional form with two-dimensional pattern.  The artist is able to distill reality, capturing its elemental essence devoid of any extraneous detail (every great artist has their personal understanding and manifestation of the essentials of realistic form)      5.  The basic design movement of the composition is strongly diagonal from the hunters in the lower left to the upper right corner and its distant snowy crags, toward which the hunters seem to walk with a certain head-down weariness.  This diagonal movement is strongly supported by the diminishing perspective of the four foreground trees.  A diagonal counter-movement from lower right to middle and upper left cannot deflect the hunters' progress toward the goal of the crags, though it clearly creates the demarcation line between the everyday, earthly life of the foreground and the visionary distance      6.  For this is the ultimate purpose and meaning of the painting, and what raises it to the level of a universal statement.  It expresses the poetry of life; man's quest for meaning and purpose by means of, and beyond, the everyday struggle for existence.   Because they are deeply involved in their quest, the hunters and their dogs are oblivious of the three small figures they pass on their left, working around a fire in front of the largest house.  The difference between the hunters and the fire-tenders is that the latter are unaware of any higher purpose or quest beyond their daily tasks, while the hunters doggedly pursue greater meaning, symbolized by the distant, craggy peaks (they are "hunters," after all, men who "hunt," look for, seek to find...not game in this instance...but truth).   The hunters may be dispirited at the moment, doubting, wondering if they will ever reach their goal – carrying their darkness with them -- but they are aware that the goal exists, and continue to plod forward despite their weariness and doubt      7.  Four dark birds in the twiggy tops of the trees, and one in flight – the latter seeming to aim directly at the crags, and certainly providing a compositional link between the hunters and the peaks – create a directional line of perspective convergence toward the crags in conjunction with the tree trunks where they enter the snow.  The flying dark bird, overlapping the lower slopes of the peaks like an airborne cross, seems symbolic of the spiritual aspirations of the hunters as they seek to reach the abode of deity in the snowy peaks


 Yellow Canaries:  1. Sacrificial test birds sent into art galleries and museums.  If overcome by fumes from bad art, and they go feet up, it's not safe for humans to enter    2. If they start to sing or take baths, everything's o.k.


 Michelangelo da Caravaggio:  1. Violent man; great, great artist     2. One of THE great realists     3. Totally honest vision and artistic grasp of the world      4. His apparent fascination with beheading seems not so much a question of removing the head from the body, as getting the body away from the head; separating the sinful, violent flesh from the sensitive, thoughtful spirituality responsible for the great paintings (whose expressive intensity and solid reality were animated, however, by the fiery flesh)


 Paul Cezanne:  1. The last genius painter    2. Understood the beauty and density of reality's forms    3. Synthesized the beauty of the art past with the fractured horror of the social present


 Clear Thinking:  As dead as the dodo


 Color:  1. Visual song of nature    2. Cry of the heart    3. Joy of the artist


 Color: RED: Its Symbolic and Emotional Meaning:   The color of the energy, intensity, emotion and passion of life, of blood, fire, sex, danger...stop signs, traffic lights, fire engines, red-light districts, Hell.  French Expressionist Chaim Soutine is perhaps the artist using red most powerfully in the 20th Century in paintings of women, bellhops and waiters in red clothing.  Caravaggio got into trouble with the early 17th Century Church when he painted the dead Virgin Mary in an intensely red dress that might have been more symbolic of Mary Magdalene


 Color: YELLOW: Its Symbolic and Emotional Meaning:   The color of light, the sun, hope, divinity...a much less earthly, earthy, powerful color than red; more transcendent, more aspiring, reaching upward toward heaven rather than downward toward the things of the earth.  Perhaps the idea of "yellow" applied to cowardice stems from its intrinsically weaker visual and emotional impact, its relation to higher, non-earthly things...angels rather than soldiers and fighters      


 Color: ORANGE: Its Symbolic and Emotional Meaning:  A mixture of red and yellow; orange is closely similar to gold, the color of haloes and heavenly light; gold, the symbol of the ultimate treasure, the goal, worth and meaning of life, the spiritual riches of life and the afterlife (the power of this symbol is transformed by human greed into the desire for earthly wealth that actual gold represents).  Earthly elements are spiritualized in orange; not as one-sidedly committed to earthly life and passion as red, nor as ethereal as yellow.  In Van Gogh's "Portrait with Bandaged Ear," painted shortly after the artist turned his frustration upon himself, severing the lobe of his ear, his face is pale against an intensely colored background divided horizontally into equal areas of red and orange.  Which color do you think is above the other, in order to express his debilitation?  The orange plane of color is on top, the red below, symbolically signifying the weakening, the pressing down of physical energy and passion for living, with the more non-physical, spiritualized orange now dominating


 Color: BLUE: Its Symbolic and Emotional Meaning:   In part because the sky is blue, the color represents heaven, the zone of spirituality, the divine.  The gown of the Virgin Mary is traditionally understood to be blue.  Blue is a much, much cooler, more peaceful color than red, yellow, orange, and therefore intrinsically quieter, more meditative, more reserved, more recessive in both mood and its action within a painting.  Because of this, it can also be the color of sadness and depression..."I feel blue."  "Blue Monday"...the lack of enthusiasm for returning to work after the weekend.  How different a "RED Monday" would be.  Pablo Picasso's Blue Period paintings depict the tragedy and suffering of life...hunger, blindness, death...underscored by the use of an overall blue color.  While Gainsborough's portrait of a youth, "Blue Boy," is not at all unhappy, the painting has a much quieter feeling than Goya's portrait of a child, "Don Manuel Osorio de Zuniga" with magpie and birdcage, clad in fiery red, and very disturbing in mood and symbolism


 Color: GREEN: Its Symbolic and Emotional Meaning:  Green is obviously the color of nature, of trees, plants, grass.  Therefore, it is the color of life itself, the color of growth, fecundity, fertility, forward movement.  Green is the opposite of the color of death -- black -- or the color of sterility -- white.  As the color of nature, the growth of spring-time and summer, it also represents hope (along with yellow and orange).  The major application of green in our automobile society is as the color of forward movement in traffic signals, the green of "go" (as opposed to the red of "danger and stop").  Like all colors, there are positive and negative interpretations, and they vary according to personal experience.  For example, someone who had a terrible experience with a person who wore orange or green clothing, will forever have a negative response to what otherwise are mainly positive colors.  And, we are familiar with the generally negative applications of green in the sayings, "She was green with envy," and jealousy as "the green-eyed monster."  These may have to do with the sourness or sharpness of green when a great deal of yellow has been added, rather than the more mellow, restful, healing green with blue mixed in.


 Color: VIOLET: Its Symbolic and Emotional Meaning:   Violet is related to orange in the sense that it is a mixture of two colors.  Whereas orange is a blend of two warm colors, red and yellow, violet is a mix of red and blue, a warm and a cool.  While both yellow and blue have connotations of heaven and divinity, yellow is the color of light and the sun, while blue is darker, quieter, more of the void of sky, space and the universe than an object within it.  Thus, violet, the mixture of a fiery color and a quiet, heavenly one is a combination of both, a diminution of earthly passion by spirituality, meditation; or, looked at the opposite way, spirituality animated by the energy of life.  Violet, a truly beautiful color, may thus become the color suggestive of, resonant with, a magical, a mystical response to touched by heaven; heaven touched by life on earth.


 Color: BROWN: Its Symbolic and Emotional Meaning:   Though brown is the cliche color of tree trunks and the ground (and therefore positive parts of nature)...cliche in the sense that the Impressionists taught us to sensitively see more color in all is also the color of the browning, the "dying of the green."  It is the color of autumn, the dying of leaves and grasses, giving brown a certain lifeless quality.  It has been said that for survivors of terrible experiences, brown is the color with which they most identify, at least for a time, until they recover some of the energy of living.  It is interesting to think of brown as the color most identified with the old masters, though this may also be more of a cliche than an actual fact


 Color: BLACK: Its Symbolic and Emotional Meaning:  Black is the color of night, of death, of the fear of darkness and death.  As such, it can be the color of nightmare, evil, dark visions and imagination.  We wear black in mourning; priests and nuns (at least they used to) wear black as the color symbolic of the death of the senses, of sexual appetite, of Self, in the service of God.  In painting, the addition of black to all colors takes the brightness, the vitality away, just as death takes the sparkle and energy from life.  In the physics of color, black is the absence of color, while white is the presence of all colors


 Color: WHITE: Its Symbolic and Emotional Meaning:   White is a color of many, contradictory meanings.  We see it for what it is in various settings and situations.  While it is the color of purity (bridal gowns, snow, ice), it is also the color of sterility (as opposed to sterile, cleanliness...doctors' coats, bandages, cotton swabs, etc) and death (bones, ghosts).  In a way, white is the antithesis of life...paleness emptied of the coursing red blood that gives color to our cheeks.  It is the sterility, the emptiness resulting from the intellectual and ethical destruction of the vitality of life and genuine art.  White is the barrenness of the snowy tundra, ice fields of the North that seem to extend forever into nothingness.  In painting, it is the color (a useful one, of course) that lightens, weakens, tints, turning colors to paler, pastel versions of themselves.  


 Color: Its Symbolic and Emotional Meaning:   1. There are, of course, endless combinations and varieties of all colors       2. Each particular variation may have subtly or greatly different meanings...a yellow-green is much more acidic, for example, than a quieter, more beautifully resonant blue-green; pink (white and red) is a weaker, less effective, more sentimental version of the power that is red.  Both "baby pink" (girls) and "baby blue" (boys) are diluted, sentimentalized versions of their vigorous "host" colors, perhaps representing the inherent delicacy of infancy.  


 Commonplace Reality:  Misapprehension and misnomer of the divinity of reality


 Common Sense:  As dead as the Dodo


 Conceptual Art:   1.  An arrogant, "anything I conceive of or touch is art" attitude       2. Formlessness imbued with anti-art, anti-societal content       3. Banal words substitute for original, creative imagery constructed by means of significant aesthetics


 The Constitution of the United States:   1. A work of art inspired by God -- the central force and truth of Reality and the Universe -- and the genius of its human creators      2. Divined by men of genius from God the way great artists create their art      3. Insight into the nature and condition of the world and human life, its needs and aspirations, equivalent to the greatest accomplishments of artistic, poetic genius


 Contemporary Art/Contemporary World:  "What's the use of a train taking one quickly from Islington to Camberwell, if it only takes one from a dismal and illiberal life in Islington to a dismal and illiberal life in Camberwell?" ---Matthew Arnold


 Contemporary Communication:  You tell me your lie, and I'll tell you mine


 The Contemporary Mind:  1. A tragedy       2. Hopelessly mired in irrelevance, confusion of values, lost purpose, nihilism


 Creativity:  1. The essential energy of being alive turned to thought, act or art, whether great or evil      2. Just the opposite of habit, formula, dullness of mind      3. Manifested in all areas of human endeavor, whether in so-called primitive societies or those technological      4. Relatively rare in its highest forms      5. To be highly prized when turned to life-enhancing activity      6. Offensive and disturbing to the conventional status quo


 Critics:  1. Often miss the point, and fail in their responsibility, by merely reporting on the status quo without evaluating it    2. Like everyone else on earth, absolutely certain theirs is the only correct opinion    3. Capable of healing art, if they would


 Cubism:  1. Early 20th Century art movement reflecting the destructive effects of technology on humanity and their loss of constructive purpose and meaning in life     2. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque work together in exploratory aesthetic and expressive experiments based on the faceted brushwork and design shapes of Paul Cezanne, the simple, geometric shapes of primitive art, and their own psychic pressures resulting from the contemporary zeitgeist    3.  Cubism's planar, fragmented shapes reflect hard-contoured machine shapes and the brokenness of a pane of glass, for example    4.  A figure disoriented and shattered in a Cubist painting is the equivalent of the human body fragmented by highway accident or war; the ultimate meaning of the painting and such a destructive act is essentially the same


 Cypresses:  Growing in size from painting to painting, finally breaking through the top of the picture, they are symbols of the dark and swelling rise of Van Gogh's deadly inner pressures


 Dada:  1. Easily the single most destructive attitude in art (or life) in the 20th Century     2. Another name for nihilism     3. A cynical, anti-art position based on personal and societal discontent and emptiness that must destroy any worthwhile values in art and life     4. Ostensibly in reaction to societal and governmental corruption during World War I, artists of this stripe sought to attack existing values by the "creation" of "art" (they described it as "anti-art") that was patently ridiculous and undermining of any artistic and social traditions     5. Marcel Duchamp famously, or infamously, turned a urinal on end, named it "Fountain," and declared it sculpture     6. Duchamp and others, believers in the "happy accident," (see "automatism") dropped bits of string, gluing them in place, because a higher power (their unconscious rather than God) dictated the rightness of the position of the string (now you know, in part, where Jackson Pollock's drip paintings came from)     7. Dadaists put on "cultural" events...noise concerts and nonsense poetry readings where racket, din and meaningless syllables defied and decried the values and traditions of society and fine art     8. Though the specific birth of an art movement termed "Dadaism" took place nearly one hundred years ago in Europe, it is as alive and well world-wide today--and has been for all these years--as it ever was (which explains the destructiveness of the so-called artistic avant-garde even now)      9. Can you connect the dots of this negative, nihilistic attitude to all the other breakdowns and active destructions of ethics and values in every field of endeavor--every job, every profession--society-wide?     10. A number of years ago, John Cage, a very negatively influential figure in the arts, performed in concert his "musical" composition which, in its entirety, involved four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence     11. Pop art is essentially dadaist in nature, as are "artists" who, in the past, have had themselves shot, mutilated their sex organs, masturbated in an art gallery, and defecated in a can...all declaring their efforts to be "art," and exhibited as such      12. All such acts--and they are countless, dominant, and taken seriously by art critics, art publications, galleries and museums--are Dadaist and clearly destructive of genuine, life-fulfilling art.  But who wants anything genuine in a decadent age?


 Death:  1. Clean-up crew in charge of removal of mediocrity and venality    2. Clean up crew unfortunately also in charge of greatness and inspiration


 Claude Debussy:  1. Great music of the unconscious   2. Swooning lyricality and dream in advance of World War I mustard gas, artillery and machine gun fire


 Moral, Ethical and Aesthetic Dehumanization, Disintegration and Decay:      1. Omnipresent in contemporary culture and society      2. Bodes ill for the survival of humane, ethical societies      3. The destruction of individual and national beliefs, traditions and faiths of ethical societies by the unethical creates a sense of lost purpose, hope, meaning, trust and constructive direction in life      4. Obviously, moral and ethical decay, like moral and ethical elevation, have been components of human behavior since man first appeared on earth.   But in our own time, exceptional decay was evident at the beginning of---and throughout---the 20th Century in aesthetic, societal and political corruption and destruction.   Manifestations in art made it clear that something was "in the wind" as the 20th Century opened.  Extreme rapidity of technological innovation combined with profound societal and aesthetic change and world war in the creation of a very different and dangerous world      5. While, at times, lyricism and profound emotional expression were elements in the art of the day, dehumanization and destruction of societal and artistic values were the dominant features in the advent of modernism       6. Nature and human beings were either eliminated altogether from art, or distorted, robotized and otherwise dehumanized.  The many examples are now the facts of art history in the 20th Century from beginning to end, in abstraction and non-objectivity, cubism, futurism, fauvism, German expressionism, metaphysical painting, dada, surrealism, De Stijl, and, after World War II, abstract expressionism, pop art, op art, happenings, conceptualism, minimalism, photo realism, and all the other limited art of the day      7. The inherent destructiveness of most 20th Century art movements is evident to anyone genuinely and open-mindedly seeking insights into the origins and meanings of modernism --- beyond conventional cataloging and description of styles and chronologies.  While offering --- as a rallying cry to the troubled and disaffected --- innovation and rebellion against the conventionalities and restrictions of bourgeois society, destruction of art and positive, sustaining human values has been the goal for over one hundred years...the destruction of any guiding ethical, moral, spiritual, poetic, commonsense values and timeless understandings, traditions and principles in art and life       8. Such 20th Century aesthetic nihilism found --- finds --- its equivalent, to the protracted sorrow and agony of humanity, in political nihilism and totalitarianism that was --- is --- so horrific during the entire century, into the 21st.  To state the obvious, political tyrannies have no respect, empathy or feeling for mankind.  The tenets of dictatorship are dehumanization and destruction of life-enhancing ethics, morals, values and traditions...exactly the same non-values dominating modernism in art              


 Design:  Humanity ever seeking what nature inherently possesses


 Diogenes:  Still looking for an honest man or woman in the art world


 Drawing:  Harder to fake than painting


 Painting:  1. Easier to fake than drawing    2. But not easy enough


 Emperor's New Clothes:  Always in style


 Environmental Art:  1.  Egoistic manipulations of the earth     2.  Extols the primacy and power of man and the individual artist apparently trying to overcome self-doubt and prove the fact of their existence by making marks on the land     3.   Grandiosity in the attempt to cover up what?  Personal and creative weakness?     4.  Unable to make significant art from the timeless materials of art     5.  Generally meaningless exercises in arrogance involving cliched design shapes and the fashionable formulas of the day     6.  Often destructive of nature's organic integrity of form and space   


 Escapism in Art:    1. First of all, everyone is an escapist, whether an artist or not; we all "need to get away," as we say.  What we aren't making clear in this statement, is that what we need to get away from is the world...its horror, noise, demands      2. In a way, all artists get away from life and the world by creating their own world in art; but, the greatest artists allow the world into their visions, seek to make art of their intersection with, and perception of, the world      3. These significant artists are validating the world; as beautiful and ugly as it is, it's all we have, and worth looking at, working with, thinking about      4. But mediocre or venal artists are the escapists who completely sacrifice the world and art, the deepest meanings of both, evade their responsibilities to life and art       5. In our time, abstraction, non-objectivity, conceptualism and all their forms and manifestations are escapist in the negative sense...over the period of one hundred years since the beginning of the 20th Century, their accelerated abandonment of the world has resulted in the ultimate vacuum of meaningless, worn-out aesthetic formulas...that worst of all artistic conditions...dead art


 Expressionism (also see Baroque, Romanticism):   1. Nominally a 20th Century movement and manifestation of emotionalism in art stemming philosophically and stylistically from the painting of late 19th Century artist, Vincent Van Gogh      2. But Expressionist art --  art emphasizing emotion -- if not called that, has existed probably since art began...clearly in 16th Century "Mannerism," 17th Century "Baroque," and 19th Century "Romanticism"      3. In late 5th Century Greek art, as the Golden Age of Pericles and the Parthenon crumbles, movement and emotion appear in their sculpture    4. German painter Matthias Grunewald's "Isenheim Altarpiece," in the early 16th Century, is often pointed to for its extreme emotional expression in the figure of Christ on the cross, His diseased, rotting body and distortion of its proportions, and the artist's extremely visionary conception of Christ's  radiant resurrection      5. Spanish artist (actually a Greek working in Spain) El Greco's elongated, sinuous figures in the 16th Century, while termed "Mannerist" for the period in which painted, are Expressionist, in the full meaning of the term      6. Eugene Delacroix, early 19th Century French, is clearly Expressionist (though labeled "Romantic," as a key figure in that movement) in the free application of paint, exuberant gestures of his figures and the sinuous, explosively writhing movement of his compositions, particularly in his "Lion Hunts" (Peter Paul Rubens, 16th Century Flemish, greatly admired by Delacroix, is another "Expressionist" in his own figure compositions and lion hunts, though part of the "Baroque" period      7. 20th Century Expressionism comes into being as the expression and release of personal and society-wide suffering...the range of Expressionist emotions can include anger, pain, fear, outrage, struggle, loss, as well as spiritual and poetic elevation, insight and ecstasy, though these latter characteristic are close to invisible in the terrible 20th Century      8. Some such artists, early and late in the 20th Century, may or may not be considered neurotic, but there is also the major factor of pressure and fear building in an era of war, machine dominance creating a mechanistic response to life and human beings, political repression, and loss of traditions of living based on religious faith and nature -- rather than technology -- with masses of people being forced from the land into factories and urban centers      8. Aside from Van Gogh, Edvard Munch, a much longer-lived Norwegian contemporary of the Dutch artist, famous for his phantasmagoric painting, "The Scream," was also influential, particularly in Germany; this painting of a distorted, nightmare-like figure, hands to face, isolated on a bridge, its perspective converging fiercely to a sinuous, bloody sky, pretty much sums up the 20th Century      9.  Major early 20th Century Expressionist artists are the German Expressionists like Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Emil Nolde; Italian Futurists like Umberto Boccioni; Austrians Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele, Frenchman Chaim Soutine, and, yes, the Spaniard Pablo Picasso      10. The continuing later stream of Expressionism in the 20th Century obviously includes the American Abstract Expressionists...Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and many, many others in this influential art movement world-wide; Francis Bacon in Britain; and many independent Expressionists unaffiliated with specific groups, like the American Alfred Maurer      11. Stylistically and technically, Expressionist art usually uses thick roughly-textured paint, intense color, wild brushstrokes and loosely twisting forms and composition, though artists like Maurer use a Cubist-like format, and contemporary Englishman Leon Kossoff uses very thick paint stirred to an emotionally expressive grey goo


 Fashion:  Any idea silly and fascinating enough to save us from thinking


 Fifteenth Through Seventeenth Centuries:  1.  Period of the greatest, sustained realistic artistic depiction and exploration of man and nature in painting in the known history of the world      2. Italian artists like Masaccio, Raphael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Titian, Caravaggio; Flemish and Dutch...the Van Eycks, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Ruysdael; the Spaniard, Velasquez; Greek, El Greco; Durer and Holbein in Germany; de la Tour in France


 Formulas:  1. Haven for the unimaginative    2. Activity of half-artists      3. Guarantor of sales


 Freedom:   1. An absolutely essential ethical, political and creative principle     2. Odd that this even has to be said     3. The fullness of living and artistic creation is not possible without it     4. Freedom is there for everyone, the great in thought and achievement, as it is for the fools, and all the rest of us     5. Freedom exists, a gift from God, that we may choose to accept or reject not only the greatness of life, the world and its art, but the corruption and decadence that the fools produce during their single opportunity at living on the planet


 Genius:  1. Tuned more directly and intensely to the elemental reality of life    2. Emotional and intellectual insight and response undamaged by habit and expected result    3. The perception of the miraculous in the commonplace


 Geometry: Basic Shapes and Forms in Art: CIRCLE, SPHERE:  1.      Related, of course, to the fundamental form of the planets and their (elliptical) orbits, and perhaps the nature of the universe itself, the circle/sphere, with no beginning and no end -- continuous, connected existence -- is symbolic of perfection and wholeness      2. In Eastern art and religion, and in psychologist Carl Jung's writings on the subject, the circle becomes a mandala, a symbol of psychic, spiritual and world wholeness, integration of all elements, even those that seem contradictory, whether good and evil, heaven and hell (or their equivalents)      3. The circle, not that much used in Western architecture compared to the square and rectangle except as it appears in domes and Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum, has been cheapened in some contemporary geometric painting, though also not used as much there as the square


 Geometry: Basic Shapes and Forms in Art: SQUARE, CUBE, RECTANGLE:  1. A stolid, earth-bound form exactly opposite in character to the triangle/pyramid      2. Its horizontal lines reflect the horizontality of the ground      3. The square/cube has no aspirational qualities whatsoever, rather it reflects the conventionality and lack of imagination of the status quo      4. A rectangle, its long axis parallel to the ground is even more earthbound than the square, though the fact that it has one long direction implies more movement, more energy than the equilateral square      5. The dominance of the square, rather than the triangle, in contemporary geometric painting reveals the stultifying, materialistic nature of this form of art      6. While the circle is perhaps most often thought of as the essential mandala shape, the square with its equal sides is also a mandala (a symbol of psychic wholeness or desired wholeness) that speaks of a desire for an easy remedy, by means of an artistic formula, for contemporary disequilibrium and stress      7. If a rectangle stands on end, long axis reaching upward, there is a degree of aspiration, but without the spiritual inspiration of the triangle.       8. Flat-topped skyscrapers, for example, minus a crowning pinnacle, reach for the sky, but rather than God or spirituality, they seem to express the desire for dominion over the earth, the attainment of earthly rather than spiritual riches and power


 Geometry: Basic Shapes and Forms in Art: TRIANGLE, PYRAMID:   1. Points upward in aspiration toward fulfillment, whether personal, societal, spiritual, intellectual     2. Like the point of a rocket or a knife, the triangle-pyramid cuts through literal and figurative earthly restraint and limitation to penetrate the ether, reach out for, and remind of, higher zones of development, understanding and fulfillment       3. The Christian church steeple and Egyptian pyramid come quickly to mind as widely known examples    4. The triangle and pyramid are the most stable of the geometric forms discussed here (with square, rectangle, circle) because their bases are broadly, solidly parallel to the earth, rooting the form there, while the tapering point is the least fact, not top-heavy at all       5. The idealistic nature of the triangle/pyramid is also perhaps reflected in its impracticality as a building form in terms of its utilization of space...the less functional A-frame structure versus the cube and sphere (geodesic dome)      6. Compositions in painting, in the past, were, in the Renaissance at least, most often triangular, with the apex at the top, whether in the head of a Raphael madonna or the head of Christ in a crucifixion by Masaccio       7. Even an artist of early 19th Century France like the Romantic, Eugene Delacroix, known for his swirling, baroque compositions of Arabs on horseback hunting lions, based his 1830 painting of the French Revolution, "Liberty Leading the People," on a triangular composition, with its apex the head and raised arm of the allegorical female figure of "Liberty" and the French flag and staff she holds aloft


 Francisco Goya:  1. One of the world's great artists      2. Deeply pained by, and angry at, the cruelty and corruption of humanity      3. But never debased the content or aesthetics of his art, like so many of today's artists who do so to "express" their displeasure with the world (actually to cover-up their inability to paint significantly)


 Francisco Goya's "Executions of May 3, 1808":    1. Francisco Goya's "Execution of the Rebels," proves that the subject of a painting may be ugly and cruel, but the picture can be a great work of art if it is painted by a genius, and the aesthetics and content are significant.  This masterpiece is painted and drawn in a looser, more modern style, with less sculptural forms (than Caravaggio's "Deposition," for example), and flatter shapes that will influence French painter Edouard Manet in the last half of the 19th Century      2. The revenge of Napoleon's invading troops on the Spaniards who rebelled against their invasion, attacking the French, is taken by firing squad at night.  The subject of the painting is the horror of the execution.  Goya has massed his figures in four distinct groups...those already dead, those about to be shot, those waiting to be placed before the rifles, and the firing squad itself (the dead and those next to die actually form a single group, separated only by the horizontality of death and the verticality of life      3. The dead lie sprawled and bloody at the bottom-left of the picture.  Those to be shot next, stand behind the dead, above their heaped, prostrate bodies on the left side of the painting, opposite the firing squad on the right.  The group waiting to be put before the guns, occupies the space between them in the center of the painting, overlapped by the bayonets and rifle barrels, caught between the firing squad and the next to die     4. Hands and arms of the victims play major expressive and design roles in the painting.  The V of helpless surrender of the spread, raised arms of the most visible victim in white shirt and yellow pants, about to be shot, is repeated in the inverted V of the arms of the dead man bathed in blood in front of him.  Any acknowledgement of helplessness, any plea for mercy to our common humanity will not be heard.  Goya uses this standing figure to signify, on an individual basis, the humanity of the victims, their helplessness and futile appeal to the killers      5. In the group before the firing squad, the hands of a tonsured monk clasp in prayer, nearer the ground than heaven, seeming to reach more toward the shooters than God, as if realizing nothing will work in such extremity.  A clenched fist of another figure is barely raised above shoulder level in acknowledgement of the futility of resistance; hands cover a face in an attempt not to see, to hide from death just a moment away, echoing the gesture of the lead figure in the group next to be brought before the guns.  Another in that latter group clasps praying hands at his mouth; a figure falls to his knees, either in prayer or weakness from fear.  The spread arms of the fallen rebel echo the legs of the soldiers in wide-spread stance...inverted Vs in the foreground, left and right

6. Light is of major emotional and compositional impact and importance.  The victims are in light, the killers in relative darkness; the sky is dark, mid-distance city buildings shadowed by the gloom.  A square box lantern (the lightest light in the painting, with the central victim's white shirt) casts the illuminating light, aiding the firing squad and revealing the crime to posterity, the way the light bulb's jagged rays in fellow Spaniard Pablo Picasso's painting of "Guernica," one hundred and thirty years later, serves to illuminate the atrocity of Nazi bombers destroying a Spanish market town      7. The angles of light cast on the ground and on the low hill close behind the victims, like their spreading arms, reverse to a vanishing point near the center of the firing squad.  The inhumanity of the squad versus the humanity of the rebels, aside from their act of murder, is revealed in the faceless, mechanistic formation of the soldiers, backs to the viewer, that contrasts with, and directs our attention at, the faces and bodies – the individuality -- of the victims in their variety of postures and expressions      8. All questions of aesthetics aside, the main message and emotional point of the painting is man's inhumanity to man, and Goya's abhorrence of it


 El Greco's Landscape, "View of Toledo":  1.  El Greco's (1541-1614) "View of Toledo," is resonant, pregnant with meaning and poetic force like a landscape and sky darkened at the advent of storm.  Related to Van Gogh's "Starry Night" in its transcendence, it is unlike it in that the essential dynamic fulfillment of Van Gogh's painting is here superseded by threat and mystery.  Both, however, can be termed Romantic, Expressionist paintings with charged emotional atmospheres and sinuous compositions      2.  Lines of river, city walls and rooftops in El Greco, twist and loop back upon themselves like the advances and reverses of life itself, working from the bottom center of the picture two-thirds of the way to the top, where a spire and bluntly rectangular building vie for connection with the sky (it seems a city of bones, silver, faintly luminescent, more like tombs and headstones in a distant cemetery than a place where humans dwell; perhaps it is an artist's comment on the center of the Inquisition in Spain)      3.  This sky, nearly as famous as Van Gogh's, is dark with the ominousness of God, electric, shot with light emerging from the darkness, whereas the Dutchman's is more positive, a whirling, yin-yang abstraction of the majesty and power of God.  Irregular clouds angularly spark the sky, two major shapes left and right flanking central darkness, vying like the two buildings for dominance of the storm, the night      4.  El Greco's painting in its entirety seems a statement of the poetry, divinity – and travail – of life, a metaphor of the spirituality and mystery of life on earth, the immense earth.  The tiny human beings that inhabit it are like the nearly invisible human specks in the Spaniard's river, dwarfed by the fathomless immensity of the universe itself, partaking of the waters of life, the essential mystery, caught in its flow, caught in time, moving swiftly and inevitably toward our unknown destiny


 High Prices:  1. Inflating the monetary value of art in an attempt to compensate for, fill an inner spiritual void with objects of indisputable financial worth    2. The value of art still measured by money, not beauty or intrinsic worth    3. "how much did you pay for it," not "God, what a beautiful painting."


 The Human Heart:  1. As black as night, the depths of the earth    2. As white as light, as clear and strong as the sun


 Hype:  1. How to make money    2. Life blood of economics     3. How to manipulate the insatiable human need to know and believe    4. Repeat a lie long enough...


 Idealism:   1. An inbuilt characteristic of the human mind that senses and needs the belief that there is...or could be...a better version of life than that invoked since man inhabited the planet      2. God and the desire for God are alive in this need, this state of being      3. In art and life, a desire to smooth the rough edges of reality      4. Idealists must be careful to keep at least one foot planted in the real world, or their desire for betterment and perfection may lead to the ivory tower where few rounded, complete human beings dwell      5. Little genuine art can come out of the ivory tower as well; there are many bloodless examples of theory-bound artists producing lifeless creations, from the past to the present, abstract or realistic, espousing the idealism of Classicism (the ancient Greeks and Romans), but without the life and vitality of the Parthenon sculptures or the penetrating portraits of Rome      6. Genuine art must have both the ideal and the real in order to live      7. The idealism in the painting of early 19th Century French painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres lies in the perfection of the nude female body, portrait likenesses and folds of fabric in the costumes of men and women created by his exquisitely controlled, Neo-Classical technique, which nonetheless breathes the fire and air of life      8. Rembrandt van Rijn, nominally a realist, Baroque painter of 17th Century Holland, is idealistic in both his belief in humanity...that humanity and the painting of humanity are worthwhile endeavors...and the way he paints people, with such incredible depth and breadth of being.  We see, and respond to, both the soul and physical structure of Rembrandt's Dutchmen and women, the psychological spectrum and poetic presence of their being


 Ideas:  1. Often spring unbidden from unknown reservoirs of being   2. This reservoir is as deep as life itself   3. Endless in their fecundity, if we have the strength and energy to mine them (to change a metaphor), and the alertness to see them coming   4. Sometimes we aren't conscious of our thoughts and ideas; we need to be aware when they have surfaced and are active in our minds, respecting them, and ourselves, enough to recognize and evaluate them


 Impressionism:  1. One of the last two art movements (with Post-Impressionism) celebrating, or at least exploring, humanity and the world with form and character      2. A truly great period of painting with artists as varied as Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas      3. The stylistic innovations of the first three artists...loose brushwork evolving to the separate touches of "broken color," had both positive and negative effects--like most human invention--on succeeding art history      4. In a positive sense, there was a great freeing of the attitude toward painting, its brushwork and use of color, in addition to the Impressionist continuing reliance on, and respect for, everyday life as its subject      5. Negatively speaking, Impressionist technique, in the ongoing downward spiral of artists' disrespect for paint as a medium in the 20th Century (part of Dadaist hatred of art itself), opened the door to lesser artists who ultimately used constructive Impressionist painterly freedom as a license to drip, slap, speckle, throw, pour and splat      6. Paint can be used creatively and constructively or destructively and meaninglessly      7. We realize that all human activity has the potential for good and ill, both concurrently existing in varying degrees


 Inertia:    1. The inbuilt inability in humanity to get anything started with any grace, rapidity or ease       2. The muck and mire of primeval existence yet clings to, and clogs, the attempted workings of the human mind      3. "The world is flat;" "The sun revolves about the earth;"  "There are no such things as 'germs' that spread infection;" "Wash my hands and instruments before surgery?  Are you nuts?  Wiping them on my apron works just fine"    4. Try to start a new company, pass an honest, constructive law, paint an important picture; make the world aware of artistic greatness, medical genius, invention, new ways of thinking and viewing the world      5. Vincent Van Gogh died of inertia


 Intellect:  1. Open-minded     2. Profoundly thoughtful     3. Insightful     4. Serious in pursuit of truth     5. Capable of grasping truth     


 Intellectuality:  1.  The brain used at its most superficial, data-gathering, formula-making level     2. Arrogant in its mistaken belief that it is intelligent     3. Simply unequipped to understand the creative process and the mind of the significant artist    4. Such people, unfortunately, are in charge of art galleries, museums, academic institutions and art publications


 Lies, Liars, Lying:  Today's standard of communication


 Life:  1. "There was time when meadow, grove and stream,/ The earth, and every common sight,/ To me did seem/ Appareled in celestial light,/ the glory and the freshness of a dream." ---William Wordsworth, Intimations of Immortality    2. "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,/ Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,/ to the last syllable of recorded time..." ---William Shakespeare, MacBeth    3. "Last scene of all,/ That ends this strange eventful history,/ Is second childishness, and mere oblivion/ Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." ---William Shakespeare, As You Like It


 Logic:  That which sounds wonderful to our own minds, but has nothing to do with reality


 The Machine as God in the 20th Century:   1. Most things in life have both good and bad in them      2. While obviously useful in moving mankind from back-breaking enslavement to the soil, machines have also resulted in an alienation of humanity from Nature and the earth, the basis of our existence      3. We have served our machines in factories and mines, and our technologies in laboratories, for around 150 years, rather than also being sensitive and responsive to Nature's beauty, poetry and meaning.  Can we do both?      4. Mankind became a bit arrogant in its belief, enthralled by our own invention, that we were masters of the universe      5. That we, personally, are as strong and fast and sexy and immortal as we may feel when energized by driving our automobiles and flying our airplanes      6. That we have overcome Nature      7. Until we weaken and die       8. We brag that our machines are unsinkable, and proceed to steam full-speed ahead into the night, heading straight for the icebergs...the Titanic, rich in the trinkets and technologies of advanced civilization      9. When art, society, ethics, tradition, values, faith, honesty, profundity, truth -- God -- were destroyed in the 20th Century, mankind had to worship something; we chose a new god...the machine and the materialistic values it represents and creates     10. The machine, its shape and form and accomplishments -- and its destructiveness -- invaded our psyches, took them over, so to speak.  We became like our machines...colder, depersonalized (interesting that the concept of "robot" came into existence in the 1920s or so      11. Cubism represented and revealed the dominance and fragmentation of our souls by the machine god; the hardness and angularity of machine shapes forced into art at the expense of the poetry and profundity of our originally humane bodies and souls


 Materialism:  Another modern god


 Media:   1. Television, Radio: able creators, propagators, allies of pap, mediocrity and the dreary world of the fast-talking, shouting sales pitch, and news that isn't       2. Newspapers, Magazines: able creators, propagators, allies of pap, mediocrity and the dreary world of the (printed) fast-talking, shouting sales pitch, and news that isn't


 Minimalism:  1. "Art" pared to a poverty-stricken pseudo-geometry   2. Symptom of decadence in art and society   3. Blatant disregard and denial of the timeless richness and complexity of art, humanity and nature   4. Aesthetic totalitarianism  depriving humanity of their cultural heritage and any significant artistic manifestation of spirituality, poetry and meaning in life      6. The empty meaninglessness of minimalist formulas is clearly reflected in the blank emptiness of this manifestation


 Piet Mondrian:   1. Ivory tower search for safety, control, purity and perfection in a dangerous world  2. Rigid horizontal and vertical lines creating squares and rectangles express his repression, containment of emotion  3. His paintings are the equivalent of timid homeowners trying to control dangerous, irrepressible nature by severely trimming trees and bushes, turning them into cubes and spheres  4. The first and best of the rectangle painters  5. Passion simmers there, but the language of his forms is just the opposite of the outreaching energy of Van Gogh's spiky sunflowers and cypresses...and, strangely enough, Mondrian's early Van Gogh-influenced paintings themselves


 Money:  1. The deeper meaning of contemporary art   2. The life blood of contemporary art   3. In our day, the only reason for contemporary art and its excesses...aside from an artistic adolescence that refuses to be outgrown


 Museums:  Unsure whether to be art galleries, circuses or flea markets


 Museum Curators:  1. As graduate students, content to believe their professors    2. Art by the book    3. Status quo appreciators    4. Capable of healing art, if they would


 Museum Directors:  1. The only good artist is a dead artist    2. Find the great art and artists of their time at the cocktail parties of the rich and socially prominent    3. Art corporation CEOs    5. Hearts and sensibilities as big as all outdoors    6. Capable of healing art, if they would


 Mystery:  The elemental foundation and reality of the universe, earth and human life that necessitates a spiritual, poetic view


 Nihilism:    1. Life has no purpose, no meaning     2. A major ingredient in the decline of 20th Century art   3. Art has no purpose, no meaning     4. Therefore, art (which gives meaning to our lives, as religion does) must be destroyed     5. Finds perverted meaning and fulfillment in the act of desecration and destruction itself...and in the destruction of those things held dear by humanity and society       6. Not only does not believe in anything, but wishes to destroy the beliefs of others       7. Not content to abide by their own dehumanized position, based on hatred of all things, including themselves...they want everyone else to disrespect and despise art, mankind and the world as virulently as they do      8. In their minds, this justifies the nihilist position


 Paint:  Prosaic substance mystically become flesh, fabric, spirit in the hands of genius


 Pap:    The drivel and superficiality pervading contemporary art and society


 Pablo Picasso:   1. A genius who sensed and understood the fracturing of the human soul and spirit by 20th Century forces, manifesting it as Cubism      2. He came along at the turn of the century, a time of great artistic change, epitomized by the Post-Impressionists...Van Gogh and Cezanne in particular      3. Clinging to recognizable shreds and shards of the world, unlike Kandinsky and Mondrian, for example, Picasso was nevertheless swept along by the century's dominant tide of abstraction      4. Responding to human suffering in his Blue Period; more philosophically decorative in his Pink Period; Picasso moved toward massive, primitive figures as he sought to sink the roots of his art into a regenerative zone of feeling and awareness  of elemental humanity    5. But this could not hold; mechanistic 20th Century forces were too intense, resulting in Cubist fragmentation and depersonalization      6. The disintegration of tradition and stable society, disoriented by massive industrial and technological changes -- the exaltation of the machine as a modern god -- resulted in the loss of respect for humanity and the horror of technology-magnified, mass dictatorships      7. Picasso's art generally expresses this turmoil       8. It may be said that he, like mankind itself, never resolved the trauma of the breakdown of art, society and the human spirit      9. Picasso's art, at its best, is serious and significant, replaying the 20th Century struggle to remain human, but cannot transcend the problem      10. As a result, it leaves art history and mankind with legitimate artistic documents of destruction, but no road-map for possible, future direction.  Posterity is left in a charnel house -- a Buchenwald of painting -- with no escape plan      11. Not that it was Picasso's responsibility to save art and the world.  But the collapse of modern art into inconsequentiality and perversity duriing his lifetime and in the decades since his death in 1973 is clear


 "Political Correctness":   1. Make art their way, or don't bother     2. Do it their way, or don't expect to exhibit it or read about it     


 Jackson Pollock:   1. A powerful, passionate artist clearly expressing the intense suffering and predicament of his disordered psyche     2. His early paintings, influenced by Picasso, are as expressive of his suffering as his later, often more elegant, "drip" paintings, when the artist spread unstretched canvases on the floor, pouring paint from cans, dripping it liquidly from brushes     3. The thickly interwoven skeins of paint in his drip paintings are the dramatic, literal and symbolic manifestations of the "web" of frustration and confusion in which he is immeshed...and from which, ultimately, he is unable to fight himself free     4. More clearly than most artists, Pollock's painting maps the efforts -- like a diary...or Van Gogh's letters -- of a creative individual desperately trying to work his way out of insurmountable personal problems     5. A legitimate, serious artist who realizes at the end of his life that he has painted himself into an artistic blind alley.  Where can his art go from there?  He had too much integrity to pursue the paths taken by most post-Pollock "modernists"     6. Though he tries to return to recognizable imagery in his painting, Pollock does not have the strength of mind and body to carry it through     7. Deeply despondent and alcoholic, his death in a car crash on Long Island -- killing a young woman with him, injuring another -- is a clear instance of suicide by automobile     8. Jackson Pollock, perhaps the last serious modernist painter of some accomplishment, was born January 28, 1912.  He died August 11, 1956 at the age of forty-four


 Pop Art:   1. The trivialization of art and life to the level of cartoon and commercial advertisement      2. Its lack of any depth or meaning...beyond its evident triviality...has been  disguised, attempted, by art critic, art gallery salesmanship proclaiming Pop Art reflects, reveals the "reality" of the contemporary world      3.  Superficiality, materialism, decadence, corruption, perversity, destruction of ethics, values, belief, tradition...these are all negative ingredients of contemporary art and life, sad to say, but that does not mean their pursuit...and Pop Art will result in the creation of a lasting art.  It won't      4. Pop artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein wanted an art as depersonalized as if it had been manufactured in a factory.  They succeeded       5. Does that tell you anything?  


 Post-Impressionism:  1. The major artists...Paul Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat    2. All of them either went through an Impressionist period in their work or were affected by its color and brushwork    3. If, generally speaking, Impressionism tended to be "soft" and atmospheric, Post-Impressionism was "hard" in contour and flatter, less nuanced color   4. Just as Renoir, the epitome of Impressionism--along with Monet--rejected, for an extended period in later years, Impressionist vagueness, seeking a firmer contour and more solid form, this was also a key impetus behind the Post-Impressionists    5. They combined three-dimensionality with two-dimensional flatness by creating harder contours and simpler areas of stronger color that nonetheless created forms and images that were very real    6. Their drive for an art equaling the intensity that life presented to their senses, and the intensity of their emotions in response to life, urged them toward an art of exceptional power that combined both realism and expressionism...a term their art would later cause to be coined    7.  These four artists were also attempting, in four different ways, to deal with the trauma of personal lives in disruption, and a society and world in a state of flux and decline that offered little real comfort, stability or support for either artists or the citizenry at large, beyond a sterile, conventional surface functioning    8. These artists, in the revolutionary genius of their work, were receptors anticipating and reflecting, in brilliant paintings, the coming storm of 20th Century war and dehumanization


 Primitivism in 20th Century Art and Life:  1. One of the major tendencies in reaction to an overwhelming, dehumanizing technological emphasis and the breakdown of tradition...artistic, spiritual, societal     2. Seeking to rediscover meaning in life and art, a fundamental meaning discerned or hoped for in simpler, non-industrial, non-technological societies and their arts     3.  Seeking a healing meaning in nature as antidote to technological coldness and machine barrenness      4. This is the timeless human need of meaning and purpose in life, whether now or tens of millennia past     5. It is possible to say that the revival of Neo-Classicism in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries in the art of Jacques Louis David in France, for example, and its manifestations in America, are a reaching back for, an identification with a past of perceived greatness to tie one's art, life and culture to     6. Similarly, the passionate romanticism of Eugene Delacroix's painting, reaching out to exotic (to Frenchmen) North Africa, as Paul Gauguin would seek alternatives to a stultified conventional society in the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists will reach out to "exotic" Japan and their two-dimensional, planar handling of three-dimensional space in their woodcuts      7.  Artists will also seek a re-connection with the earth, nature and the peasants of their own country...the 19th Century French Barbizon School landscape painters working in the Fontainebleau Forest, Millet's and, later, Van Gogh's peasants...the Impressionists making art from the common fabric of life in their time      8.  In addition to Gauguin's symbolic (and physical) search for truth in life, Van Gogh seeks the sun; Monet creates his famous flower garden...a literal "Garden of Eden" Giverny as antidote to an unpleasant reality beyond its borders; Paul Cezanne seeks a world of "solidity" he can depend on; Georges Seurat defines a world of aesthetic order that becomes somewhat artificial in the effort     9. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque create an overtly primitive art--Cubism--blending Cezanne, the carved planes of primitive masks and sculpture, and machine shapes (and their negative effect)    10. The many forms of Expressionism; folk art; child-like art; "art brut;" "outsider art;" the art of the disturbed; automatism; Surrealism; all seek to touch deeper unconscious levels beyond surface superficiality and destructiveness to reach a redemptive, life-giving truth      11.  The discovery and prominence of the "unconscious" by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung is itself a manifestation of the 20th Century need to dig for a deeper perception, a deeper truth of life     12. Similarly, popular societal manifestations speak of these no particular order...jazz, rock and roll, tattoos, environmentalism, long hair, hippies, torn jeans, punk hairstyles, extra-terrestrials, cults, and even violent movie special effects like flaming car crashes, explosions and other cataclysms represent a release, an attempted escape from the rationality of the brain, machines and the restriction of a sterile society devoid of the meaning that all pursue     13. Like organic gardening, for example, the desire for connection with the primitive and  the elemental, is a need to dig one's hands and spirit into something  its practitioners feel -- rightly (when applied in genuinely resuscitative ways) and wrongly (in the case of superficial manifestations)-- is a more profound, genuinely earthy, earth-involved, God-involved sense of living


 Professors:  1. Perpetuate their own prejudices and limitations    2. Capable of guiding youth toward truth, if they would


 Profundity:  As dead as the Dodo


 Psychological Projection:   1. Not the one that shows slides and movies on a screen on a wall...but, this is an accurate analogy; we do project our feelings, ideas, motivations on the "screen" of other human beings, saying they are doing what we are actually doing      2. We all do it, if we are not alert, and catch, prevent ourselves from doing it      3. Simplistic and/or devious minds consciously and unconsciously use projection to accuse others of exactly what they themselves do        4. To understand the real motives of someone like this, apply to them what they say of others       5. The concept of projection, by other names, is an insight that goes back to Chapter Six in Luke's Gospel in the Bible (and no doubt to the beginning of human existence):  "Either how canst thou say to thy brother, 'Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye?' Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye."      6. 20th Century psychologist Carl Jung liked to comment on this aberration all are heir to      7. Needless to say, this is but another aspect of the human condition that makes it so difficult to see and understand life and reality with any clarity       8. Life's uncertainties, however, do not relieve us of our responsibilities to make judgments to the best of our abilities


 Rebirth:  1. Rediscovery of that which we were born with but lost in the process of socialization    2. Reawakening of innately majestic insights and responses to life.


 Rembrandt van Rijn:  1. Actually interested in life and the world as a source for his art...amazing       2. Perhaps the greatest pure painter who ever lived      3. Used the painting medium more richly than any other artist   4. Had a great love and respect for-- and understanding of--humanity and the substance and three-dimensionality of the world     5. Ultimately a tragic view of life


 Rembrandt van Rijn, "Carcass of Beef":   

1. Rembrandt van Rijn's, 1606-1669, butchered "Carcass of Beef" (also called the "Flayed Ox"), 1655, 37 x 27, hangs, skinned in a dark shed, dominating the center foreground of the painting.  From an artist's point of view, what may initially strike the eye is the sensational use of the substance of paint to equate with, and construct, the substance of the carcass.  The variegated, thick impasto brings the carcass massively and magnificently into existence, particularly when contrasted with the thinner paint of the background.  Rembrandt has sumptuously developed the planes and forms of what, to most people of his day – and ours – would be merely a dead animal of utilitarian use, a source of physical nourishment (if we are aware today of the deaths that take place to feed us).  He sees in a dead beef -- turns it into -- a miracle of artistic beauty, and poetic and spiritual profundity      2. Rembrandt is the pre-eminent artistic master of painting the physicality of existence, the physical substance of being, whether here or in portraits and figure compositions.  It is a physicality, beautiful in itself, in which he discovers the universal spirituality of being.   Within this density of form, Rembrandt sees and understands, has the human insight and artistic genius to express, divinity, the universal truths of existence, in flesh (fabric and armor, for that matter), whether human or animal      3. Rembrandt has reached his highest artistic level in this work of a hanging carcass of beef, braced open at the chest to cure by letting air in the cavity.  He paints the rough and ragged carcass, the revealed rib cage, slabbed and ridged drying meat, and knots of lumpy fat; the knobby elbows, joints and bones of sinewed legs (once strong enough to support this massive body, now trimmed of their hooves), the hide and head, of course, removed as well      4. The artist paints this raw and drying thing with the reverence and respect with which he painted all things, including the crucifixion of Christ.  For, this painting of a slaughtered ox or beef, hanging upside down in a darkened storeroom, can't help but be likened to a crucifixion, with the spreading rear legs like arms affixed to a cross      5. The warmth of color, the resonance of light and the deep feeling painted into the carcass and the painting as a whole, speak of several issues.  The carcass is both horrible and holy.  Rembrandt gives us the raw and blatant fact of death – the death that comes to all things that live.  He does not back away from death and the idea of dying.  In a way, he embraces it here, as if a means of resolving its pain and fear.  He has dealt with death in the loss of his first wife, Saskia, and at least two of his children      6. He seems to find an element of transcendence in death by means of light, as if light's radiance somehow imbues a fearful physical fact with divinity.  In the mundane world of food and eating, the death of this beef will provide physical life for those who consume it; as those who "consume" Christ, in belief, gain immortality      7. Into this room with the suspended carcass, the head and body of a woman peer or start to pass through a door in the rear.  In terms of the painting's composition, she is placed directly next to the loin of the body (though well behind it), dwarfed by its immensity, as she is humbled by her incipient awareness of its connotations.  It's as if she has stumbled upon a hallowed event, the scene of a ritual, where the truth and meaning of life lie open and naked for all to see      8. She is about to enter the room, the realm of understanding and insight into the nature of the world.  Hers – and through her, ours – is the dawning awareness of the ravenous nature of life and death that uses up all life that ever lived.  The carcass -- in its naked rawness, denuded of any surface blandishments of skin, hair, head, eyes, ears, tail and feet that once roved the pasture, the cow pulling grass into its mouth with its tongue -- is clearly a monument to death and the timeless process of life and death      9. But, there is a holiness in the glowing richness of the light emanating from its dense corporeality that is echoed in the hesitant reverence of the tiny woman's slightly bowed head.  As our surrogate, she is able to acknowledge and share with us the majesty and mystery of being represented by the carcass, as we develop our own insights and feelings in response to this painting      10. We have only to compare the artistic, poetic and spiritual radiance of Rembrandt's painting with a painting of a side of beef by Chaim Soutine, a Rembrandt admirer in early 20th Century Paris, two hundred sixty-five years or so later, to see how despairing Soutine's vision is compared to the Dutchman's.  There is no redemption or hope of redemption there.  Soutine has bathed his side of beef in blood and anguished strokes of paint in a diagonally sliding composition that speak of both his era's despair at loss of meaning and purpose in living, and his personal desperation (Soutine painted the beef in his apartment studio, bathing it daily in blood from the butcher shop to keep it "fresh."  As it rotted, the stench drove his neighbors to vociferous complaint)      11. Rembrandt's painting of the carcass of beef is horrible, ugly, beautiful, transcendent, life...contradictory, but ever-present and unavoidable.  But beauty and truth seem to dominate here (perhaps a harsh truth, but redeemed by the magnificence and majesty of paint become flesh...flesh become paint...flesh become light).  Horror and death are redeemed by this icon of red and golden meat that glows with richly radiant light from out of a dark background in a simple storage room.  This extraordinary vision hangs from rough-hewn, cross-braced poles notched into a ceiling beam, steadied by blocks at the bottom between the poles and the floor.  A timeless, transcendent event occurs in the most ordinary of the birth of a Messiah in a manger.


 Renaissance;  1. Reawakening of finer instincts and abilities after a period of their diminishment or debasement    2. Rising to heights of awareness from the trough of the usual


 Romanticism (also see Baroque, Expressionism):   1. An early 19th Century art movement epitomized by French artists Theodore Gericault and Eugene Delacroix that espouses emotional expression, dramatic subject matter, exotic locales, dynamic compositions      2. Though Delacroix is attacked by more conventional Neo-Classical artists and critics of the day, his paintings of North Africa appear to meet a societal need for escape from the present to an exotic, romantic past, or "strange and unusual" (to the French) non-French locales and races in the present     3. Paintings of Arab lion hunts and harems fill the bill, rubbing off on academic artists who will journey to the middle-east in search of architectural settings and people garbed in unusual costumes, living different lives      4. Paul Gauguin's late 19th Century longing for the exotic, culminating in his voyages to Tahiti, are clear continuations of this 19th Century psychic need


 Schlock Art:  Standard gallery fare


 The Scholarly Brain in Art:  1. So concerned with, so totally immeshed in minutiae and inconsequentiality, that it completely misses the living truth and vitality of significant art past and present     2. Not one whit of investigative or contemplative creativity that might match the creativity that is the essence and entirety of fine art      3. How misplaced is this brain...equipped to deal with warehouse inventories of sneakers, car parts and mattresses, but, please, God...not art     4. Turns one of humanity's most inspiring, redemptive, difficult quests into dry chaff     5. Robotic activity counting the number of times Mark Twain uses the word "maybe" in "Huckleberry Finn"     6. Were Paul Cezanne's shoes brown or black...important things like that      7. Vibrantly alive, delightfully interesting people to meet and discuss art and life     8. May I blow the dust from you (and your brain) so we can talk...I have allergies     9. The concept of "mind" is totally out of place here; the mechanical clankings of "brain" fit to a T      10. Those who may still be alive in this field could turn art around through sensitive, insightful examination and commentary


 Significance:  1. That which salves the soul in a depleted world       2. Perhaps the most important one-word designation in art or anything else      3. A painting, sculpture, play, novel, poem, thought, action, conversation -- anything -- is either significant or it isn't      4. They either mean something or are meaningless...perhaps only foolishly harmless, perhaps deeply  destructive      5. The former are hardly worth doing, looking at, thinking about      6. The latter are dangerous to art and debilitating to the thoughtful mind      3. And, yes...significance is as dead as the Dodo   3. Thank you, Dodo


 Spam, the New Foreign Language:  1. "konngggeeee zatch pliddox carp noxzzzoo"   2. Or, "-mpxlzz med #@ldtkklprex q ktmpi zzx mschrmx"  3. Right? No problem


 Spam, Sexual:   1.  Is the American (International?) male as concerned about his "size" as spammers indicate by their deluge of misbegotten creativity?      2. Do sexual "size" spammers know something the rest of us don't?     3. Or, is such nonsense just another example of the contemporary exchange of serious thought and awareness for mediocrity and corruption?     4. Remember to ask yourself as you start your day..."ama I lonngeee enuffexx to havaee anee selfpha respectee?"      5. And..."Howa abouttee myah circumferencee?"      6. Got it?


 Spin:  1. How to say, nicely define this term of contemporary evasion of the truth?      2. How to "spin" it?      3. Spin is a shaping (all right, an outright distortion) of material to present it in its best light      4. a fib      5. an untruth      6. Dare we come right out and call it what it is...a lie?


 Substance:   1. The substance and materiality of life that contains the essence of God, which the greatest artists understand, capture and express      2. Rembrandt van Rijn and Paul Cezanne, a 17th Century Dutchman and 19th Century Frenchman, both knew this, were able to raise their painting to sufficient heights to express the presence of spirit in the density of substance of all things, whether rocks, apples or human beings      3. All great artists know this...and are able to transmit this knowledge through paintings and sculpture of the highest achievement


 Surrealism:   1. Perhaps by definition the 20th Century art movement seeking most to explore and express subconscious, unconscious aspects of life       2. Using dreams and concepts of psychology and psychiatry, automatism, hallucination and the irrational, artists seek an escape from, and understanding of, the disturbing modern world      3. The prefix "Sur," meaning "over," "above," might well be defined as "beyond," or better, "below," in the sense that Surrealism explores issues, states, conditions and emotions "beneath" the surface of consciousness and everyday existence      4. Salvador Dali would be an example of the "realistic" wing of Surrealism; Andre Masson and Matta, the abstract (Jackson Pollock's painting was born out of Surrealism and Expressionism)      5. American Surrealist Charles Rain, 1911-1985, painted, among other things, city streets filled with frame chairs, with steam rising from manholes      6. French writer Andre Breton authored the Surrealist Manifesto in 1924, stating, "Pure psychic automatism...Thought's dictation, in the absence of all control exercised by the reason and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations."


 Symbolic Thinking:   1. While we may not consciously think in symbolic terms in youth, in later life, through education and experience of art and life, we become increasingly aware that what we call our "ordinary, everyday" lives are nested in myth and mythic, universal forces that make their presence known -- that are impossible to avoid -- and that we characterize, interpret through symbols and symbolic, mythic thinking and awareness     2. For example, all things good and bad in daily life, in human history, from minor to horrific, occur within the greater context of "Good and Evil" that has puzzled, unnerved and terrified mankind since our inception, and with which we have had to deal both in fact and in our thinking about it       3. God and Devil, Heaven and Hell, Crime and Punishment, are facts and/or symbols (depending on how you look at it) innate, embedded in life, evolving over eons to deal with this major duality and puzzlement of human existence; only the process and riddle of Life and Death may be more elemental      4. These major concepts and understandings are inextricably entwined within the fabric of everyday life in the sense that when one hears of a petty crime or unnecessary cruelty, or a world-wide offense, the events are seen not only as specific, factual  occurrences, but also within the context of mythic Good and Evil      5. When good things happen...kindness, generosity, encouragement, honesty...they, too, exist within the larger context of "Good"      6. So, too, Beauty and Ugliness, Truth and Deceit, Creation and Destruction, etc, are elemental facts, forces, perceptions and conceptions at the foundation of existence, whether that of humanity on earth, or in the context of the cosmos       7. Thus, the ordinary, everyday occurrence and appearance of beauty, for example, in a person, a tree, an idea, a sunset, will be seen to exist not only within itself, but in the embrace of mythic, timeless "Beauty" -- the big "B" -- by people, artists, poets, philosophers, theologians, who are aware of this resonance of the symbolic context of the world      8. Everyday experiences, objects, actions, people, resonate with cosmic significance, as does the greatest art.  This is symbolic thinking, symbolic perception and understanding of the world that does not diminish the worth of everyday experience, rather enriches and enhances it


 Symbols, Symbolism:   1. Truths that reside, often hidden, in objects, thoughts, actions, rituals, behavior      2. In art, may be consciously and/or unconsciously created by the artist      3. If the artist is serious and significant--as opposed to frivolous and superficial--all of the things they paint will be symbolically resonant, imbued with the weightiness of being...the poetry, meaning, substance and symbolism of life      4. A mountain, for example, is a symbol of a desired goal, perhaps difficult to attain     5. A road or path is symbolic of our passage through life      6. An apple painted by Paul Cezanne has the substance and materiality of existence that also contains and evokes the spiritual, poetic meaning of life     7. A human being painted by Rembrandt resonates symbolically--and actually--with the richness of the emotional, spiritual and psychological possibilities inherent in humanity       8. The idea of symbols, to those not yet initiated in their use, may seem odd or weird. After childhood, and increasingly into youth, despite a wide range of feelings and experiences, we tend to become more pragmatic, at least in our daily conscious behavior.  But children's art (like all honest art) is well known to reveal the inner, unconscious  world of the artist.  For children, a burning house, for example, may symbolize an unstable, troubled home, perhaps where parents fight with each other.  A monster something that they fear, whether a school ground bully or a disease.  The sun, with rays, so often drawn by children, perhaps symbolizes their innately life-affirming energy, hope and optimism      9. Please see "Symbolism of Light and Dark" for a basic explanation of these powerful forces in reality and the world of human symbolic interpretation


 Symbolism of "Light and Dark" in Art and Life:   1. All symbols originate in the reality of life and humanity's experience of it      2. Light and dark, white and black, are among the most elemental and powerful symbols because they originate in the fact of day and night, the sun and darkness      3. Light, by its luminous, often fiery nature, and the fact that most people live their lives and conduct their business during daylight, is seen as a positive force...of reason and rationality (the commonsense of everyday); growth of plants (and animals, all living things) responding to light; light allows us to see in order to function during the day, as well as symbolically, the "truths" of life, the essence of "reality", which may be seen or intuited      4. Conversely, the nature of night, darkness, blackness, does not allow us to see well in practical terms (symbolically speaking, we are "blinded" to deeper realities and truths); we sleep at night, we dream, have nightmares, thus creating the symbolism of "darkness", "unconsciousness", as confusion, fear, lack of insight and understanding       5. In both reality and our creation of symbols related to that reality, day and light become associated with "good", night and darkness with "evil".  We are often afraid of the dark because we can't see, and our imaginations can run away with us.  Darkness allows the birth of monsters in our minds.  Crime, sin and the disruptions caused by persons of hideous character are termed "black", "dark" hearts, dark deeds, dark moments in history      6. Light is positive, even, at its highest symbolic connotations -- holy -- because of its luminosity, its shine, brightness.  In our language, smart people are "bright", a virtuous person is a "shining" example, someone or something of high stature sheds "light" on something, or into the "darkened" corners of the mind, or the world      7. Deity, angels and other spiritual beings are assigned the characteristics of "light"...they shine, glow, are luminous, too bright to look upon, have haloes.  Satan (evil) is a creature of "darkness", a "dark" angel fallen into the pit of "darkness"      8. All of this, and so much more, exist in our historical and contemporary minds, writings, perceptions and conceptions of life and the world because of one simple, central, elemental fact that all of us take for granted...the revolution of the earth around a brilliant star that every twenty-four hours completes the cycle -- and fact -- of day and night       9. Day, light and the characteristics of light, symbolize life itself, just as night, darkness, our loss of contact with the world of day, and its fearful aspects, symbolize death      10. The great artists are aware of, and use, both consciously and intuitively, the reality and symbolism of this great truth of light and dark to enrich and ennoble their art, make profound statements of human existence and the nature of the world        


 Television:  1. As bad as it gets    2. As empty as it gets


 Thought:  1. examining life with enhanced awareness  2. cutting through habits, cliches and automatic reflexes of the brain to search the truth of art and life  3. an extremely rare activity


 Tradition; Traditional (positive):  1. At its highest level, the extolling, maintenance and passing on of the beliefs, ideas, philosophies and facts responsible for the great art, thought and achievement of mankind      2. There is nothing tired, boring or stultifying in the living truths of tradition      3. Tradition is not prosaic, not habit, convention, limitation, totalitarian;  it is the living, poetic, expressive, spiritual core at the heart of humanity and the life process itself      4. In the evolution of life from generation to generation, differences of perception and belief occur naturally.  This is as it should be      5. But the eternal truths of human existence, creativity, thought and act necessary for the timeless physical, spiritual and artistic health of man are the substance of genuine, living tradition.  They must be preserved


 Tradition; Traditional (negative):  1. Life and art-negating rules and strictures falsely propagated as "traditional"      2. Calcified, stultifying habit and convention having more to do with a desire to control others than with exalting living, individuality and creativity      3. Designed to control freedom of thought and perception      4. Designed to create an environment free from the innate uncertainty of existence and therefore conducive to making money, preserving a status quo       5. "Here's the way art in our time is made," say its purveyors, "relax, enjoy, buy."


 Truth: 1. That fundamental reality residing at the root of nature, the human psyche and the universe    2. What we have and others don't    3. Not good; hurts sales, harms business


 Two-Dimensionality: It's Rise in 19th and 20th Century Art:   1. From Edouard Manet, in the mid-19th Century, to the present day, there has been a continual, escalating increase in the two-dimensionality, the flatness of painting      2. In Manet's day, and that of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists (roughly 1860 to 1900), the influence on the artists of Japanese woodblock prints -- their flatness and depiction of the everyday lives of the Japanese -- was strong      3. The advantage of flatness -- the emphasis on the two-dimensional pattern of a picture rather than three-dimensional forms in realistic space -- is the increased directness of impact of simpler shapes and flat, intense colors on the eye, emotions and mind; significant, realistic, two-dimensional art has power that a fussy art of detail cannot achieve      4. But it can be said, that this flatness had another appeal beyond the aesthetic.   Two-dimensions are more primitive than three dimensions because it simplifies the artistic, psychological and perceptual complexities of the three-dimensional world, appealing either to children, immature, undeveloped adults and more primitive minds and cultures.   It also appeals to overly-sophisticated, industrialized cultures seeking to re-establish connection with their psychic roots by a return to an earlier developmental state (almost all art of "primitive" cultures emphasizes two-dimensional, planar characteristics); thus, the earlier artists sought to re-invigorate their art and their response to, and perception and understanding of, the world      5. Flatness in painting is, in essence, an attempt to overcome jadedness, world-weariness, finding, and clinging to, something that may still be alive, as opposed to the emptiness and purposelessness of a wornout contemporary world       6.  This aspect of the rise of two-dimensionality reflects, consciously and unconsciously, a desire to set right a world gone askew by ultimately ignoring it because the world is too far gone, and we are unable to bring it back to a humane state of existence      7. Thus, pictorial flatness is ultimately a wearing down, a giving up on the world, turning away from it, ignoring it -- because the reality of our world of man and nature is the epitome of three-dimensionality -- creating aesthetic, emotional and intellectual "dream states," fantasies, private visions of magic and personal incantation lost in the recesses of unconsciousness, infantilism and the brain, increasingly irrelevant and completely divorced from reality and the world, aspirations and interests of non-artists      8. Thus, such flat art, in our time, creates and occupies a void of sterility that has little or nothing to do with life beyond the vacuity of the artists and the decadence of the art world system that sustains it                  9. Ironically, the use of flatness by the Japanese to depict the realities of their lives -- and the flatness used by the Post-Impressionists, say -- while minimizing detail did not detract from the reality of the world or their vision of it; it was only when man and nature disappeared from art, as if they did not exist -- or never had existed -- that flatness and two-dimensionality became ultimately sterile      


 Vincent Van Gogh:  1. Abandoned by the people of his time    2. It was his misfortune to inhabit a world -- our world -- which would not let him live, could not accept his vision, allow him to be a uniquely contributing artist and valuable member of society

3. Visionary greatness inspired by the experience of everyday life


 "The Van Gogh Myth":  1. An artist's struggle and suffering make his art better      2. Mental disturbance and insanity are positive things...improving the art for the artist and posterity      3. It is better for an artist to be poor than have enough money to live on      4. It is better for an artist to starve and live in a garret      5. It is better when an artist cuts off his ear      6. It is better if an artist lives in isolation, cut off from the fellowship of his society      7. It is better if the artist is a misunderstood genius      8. It is better if an artist is scorned, receiving little or no recognition during his lifetime, becoming famous after death      9. It is better if an artist dies young      10. Question...why should all of these nonsensical beliefs be good for art and artists when they are bad for everyone else?


 Andy Warhol:   Television


 Wisdom:  1. Arrival at an all-inclusive understanding; complex, but simple at its essence  2. Basics of life and thought imbued with richness, luminosity, transcendence


 Yellow Canary polling:  1. You can have complete confidence in the Yellow Canary polling system      2. When our pollsters telephone, you can trust them not to slant questions to obtain the answers they wish you to give      3. Furthermore, the Yellow Canary poll has a margin of error of only plus or minus 39.7%


Copyright by Don Gray


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