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Re: Book Art vs. Book Arts



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> It seems to me that the parallel between American support of abstract
> expressionism, and Soviet support of Socialist Realism is highly tendentious,

What do you mean by this? The dictionary definition is "marked by a tendency
in favor of a particular point of view." Which point of view am I favoring
markedly?

> and, indeed, not only not to be taken seriously

Why not?

>--but not intended to be.

I am quite serious about it.

> It should have been obvious, that Jules raised the issue of politics as a red
> herring,

I raised the point to demonstrate that art criticism can be politically
inspired.

Answer these questions: Do you consider yourself to be anti-communist?
Anti-Stalinist? Feel that I'm a pinko? Anti-American? Consider it trivial
that Clement Greene's vicious attacks on certain artists destroyed their
careers and, it is said, caused some to commit suicide?

As you can see, what I am getting at is that there's a distinct possibility
that your erroneous interpretation of my intent is based on your own
political agenda. So let's get that out in front.

> with the sole intention of minimizing the work of abstract artists (i.e., book
> artists who work in non-traditional forms),

If you actually read my messages, you'll see that despite my personal
preferences for craftsmanship, physical beauty and easily accessible
meaning, I was arguing in favor of broad definitions rather than narrow
ones, even when those broad definitions include works that I personally find
ludicrous.

One reason is that I appreciate the impulse to use art as a form of
ridicule. Luckily, since I'm a writer as well as an artist, I can use verbal
sarcasm instead.

> But, of course, as a critic, what do I know about art?

Humility helps. Glad to see that you recognize your own limits. The best way
to learn more about art would be to create some in a physical sense. Writing
is art, of course, but it's not the same thing as a painting or an object.

Let's just deal with one factor -- technique. You might begin with trying to
learn a very simple technique, such as imitating a Disney cartoon. A good
place to begin would be one of the Walter Foster books, which break down the
construction of Bugs Bunny (not Disney, Walter Lantz, but I happen to
remember this one very well) into a peanut for the body, ovals for the head,
eyes and ears and so on. If you follow the instructions you will be able to
make a rather decent Bugs Bunny.

So that's easy. Now let's go to water color. Oops! No erasers. No
concealment of any false move. Just transparent color that goes from glowing
to muddy in a millisecond, with no going back. A sheet of merely decent
water color paper is probably about $10. How many sheets do you go through
before you get one that doesn't have a single muddy spot? Once you've
mastered that, you can try executing your cartoon of Bugs Bunny in water
color.

How about meaning? Well, how about Bugs giving art criticism the finger?

Your problem here will be to symbolize the concept of art criticism. This
means that you might have to learn how to draw a book (not hard) and get the
title "Art Criticism" on it in the correct perspective (a little more
difficult) and put the book under the arm of someone with, say, longish hair
in a tweedy jacket, possibly bearded (if male), must have thick glasses,
standing at a podium (can be labeled "Academy" or "Salon de Paris").

This is not so easy. You have to go back to Walter Foster and learn some of
the techniques of representing the human form. This could take a while.

Even more difficult: your art critic has a scornful expression (that might
take a while to learn how to do) and is pointing to a large image (can be a
slide projected on a screen) of Bugs who is chomping a fabulous carrot
(luminous orange, with brilliant white paper showing through for the effect
of glistening highlights) and giving the art critic the finger. Maybe he's
wearing a beret.

So that's how you begin to create meaning in one very conventional way  --
the newspaper political cartoon, perhaps.

If you are an abstract expressionist, however, you splash paint on canvas
and it expresses your mood.

There's a lot of technique involved here, too, especially if you choose
water color, but also even with easier media such as acrylic. One major
difference, however, is that it's a lot easier to fake being an abstract
expressionist than it is to fake drawing Bugs Bunny.

Moreover -- and this embarrassingly obvious -- the meaning of the abstract
expressionist painting will be a lot less accessible than the political
cartoon of Bugs Bunny giving art criticism the finger.

We will now resort to capital letters: AND THAT'S WHY THE ROCKEFELLERS LIKED
IT A LOT BETTER THAN SOCIALIST REALISM!


--

JULES SIEGEL Apdo 1764 Cancun Q. Roo 77501
http://www.cafecancun.com

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