Sometimes the city wakes up and says, "Hello, here are a bunch of things that are awesome that you need to do right now." Many of them never get done, but a lot of them do, which is exciting. I've started working as an assistant to Brenda Taylor again - which is great and full of learning/meeting new people. Ace is still Ace, Art is Art (seeing and making), Skeeball is still Skeeball, Fisk is still fantastic, and I'm still reading up a storm. With that in mind, I've got a few projects I'm working on, all to be announced by the end of the month. I won't spoil the surprise but all I can say is it will be a very exciting/fun Winter. Now my notes on the latest, recommended by Will.
Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting
This book was organized well with 4 focal points:
1) Xenia - "concerns the painting of 'still life' objects in the decorative schemes that survive from antiquity, and considers them in relation to issues of representation (realism, hyper-realism, simulation) on the one hand, and on the other to issues of power (class difference, control over nature, control over representation). "
2) Rhopography - "examines the discourse in painting in which painting itself is divided into two sectors: one dealing with the exceptional act and the unique individual, with the narrative and the drama of 'greatness' (megalography), and another dealing with the routines of daily living, the domestic round, the absence of personal uniqueness and distinction (rhopography)."
3) Abundance - A lot about Dutch still life and the society's attitude towards its own wealth. "In particular this essay analyses how the sphere of consumption was re-absorbed, in still life imagery, back into the values of production."
4) Still Life and 'Feminine' Space - " asks what the distinctions between low-plane reality and high-plane reality, between rhopography and megalography, between still life and the supposedly 'higher' genres of painting, may have to do with gender positions and gender idealogy."
I would do a terrible job trying to break down each essay into a succinct paragraph that highlighted the significance of each - but I can say what I found most preferable.
Jan Vermeer, The Concert.
Essays 1 and 3 were fantastic for their ability to discuss academically and understandably histories and specific meaning within still life painting itself. Never too often these days (I feel) do we get too much of a break down of exactly how a piece of work is functioning on a literal level - so I appreciated the discussion of works of art and their meaning within Dutch society. Through out the book I appreciated Bryson's ability to stay focused, it would have been easy to go on various tangents, but he didn't. He made one reference of Tulipmania and respectively moved on.
Willem Kalf, detail from Still Life with Nautilus Cup.
I was very delighted to read about the opposition between Rhopography and Megalography - had I listened to Will and read this book when he gave it to me - perhaps this would have made an excellent resource for my thesis. Shoulda coulda woulda. The polarities in meaning between these two subjects and how they describe many of the fundamentals of painting itself was a joy to read about.
Juan Sánchez Cotán, Still Life with Vegetables.
Chapter 4 made the case that for Dutch society the home was the sphere of women. Because still life inherently depicted objects and things from the home life, it is of little surprise that these paintings spoke about the nature of this feminine space. Making clear that many paintings depicting out of doors scenarios leaned towards being about the world of men. Characteristics of paintings that would benefit any painter in knowing.
Hope everyone is enjoying this great Fall day in October - New York City is looking bright and cool.