Comments on: Naïveté and Truth in Modern Art Abstract Critical is a not-for profit company aiming to establish a new critical context for all generations of artists involved with ambitious abstract art. Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:23:33 +0000 hourly 1 By: Robert Linsley Fri, 10 Jan 2014 03:42:51 +0000 Just discovered an article by Julian Bell in the LRB February last year, on the RA Manet show. He says:

“Manet is at home with goofballs….because on a certain level he himself is goofiness personified. He is a well meaning, well heeled optimist who wants to take on the whole world of painting and come out on top, all the while remaingIng ‘sincere.’ And while half the story is that he had within reach a primal power of attention able to deliver such an ambition….its comic rejoinder is that he couldn’t fathom why his innocent, omnivorous ambitions were so apt to wrongfoot the Paris public.”


By: Robert Linsley Mon, 30 Dec 2013 03:22:24 +0000 My first thought was “that’s quick,” but it seems that you haven’t read a lot. Not that there’s any requirement to do so.

I agree with your last comment, which is why I have no interest in that industry. But there’s still a few people worth reading.

The more important question is whether Adorno gets so caught up in his speculations that he loses touch with the object, namely art. But that’s a pretty widespread failing, that even artists can be guilty of. Any journalist critic who rattles on about minimalism or earth art or any other such conventional category is lost in an intellectual fog, because such things have no real existence. That’s why artists tend toward what I think is called nominalism – that there are only particular single things no general categories. Every artist wants to claim their own difference, and resents being grouped, isn’t that so? If Adorno sometimes got too abstract he can hardly be blamed for that ordinary failing, and I think he did a much better job than most. I’ve found his judgments on particular works to be not so bad, but his forte is something else. He is also popular with artists, or some at least, and I suspect that is because he knew what it is from the inside, as a composer. He always defended Schoenberg from the systematic 12 tone composers, in exactly the same terms that you use, yet Schoenberg loathed him and entirely rejected his interpretations, however complimentary they may have been. He probably resented the way that Adorno set him against Stravinsky in the Philosophy of Modern Music book, and that may in fact be an example of a too systematic and theoretical effort. It’s not my favorite. Certainly from Schoenberg’s position it must have been politically very unwelcome. I think his books on Berg and Mahler are pretty good. But he’s vulnerable to the charge of being a failed composer turned critic. It’s hard to be objective about these things, especially in an era where many artist are also theorists, critics and writers, when in fact every substantial artist is at least something of a theorist. Maybe you’re too intellectual.

By: Alan Gouk Sun, 29 Dec 2013 14:43:48 +0000 I withdraw my comments on Adorno as ill-informed. Having read more, I find little obscurity. In Coherence and Meaning for instance, his account of form and content, and intentionality, are admirably lucid and balanced. However his highly abstract speculations are primarily concerned [ as in all modern philosophy ] with clarifications in the use of language; when he turns to adducing specific corroboration for supplementary covert value judgements in musical or pictorial examples, any specialist is bound to demur, which is why Taruskin has difficulty.
For example— he says that ” Schoenberg himself distinguished almost mechanically between the preparation of 12 tone material and composition, and on account of this distinction he had reason to regret his ingenious technique”.
Though Schoenberg may well have felt somewhat trapped by the method, he continued to try to demonstrate its flexibility and versatility almost to the end. To relax it [as he occasionally did ] would be to lend ammunition to his enemies and critics.
The 12 tone system is an organising procedure; in itself it carries little implication for ” form” as defined by Adorno, which for Schoenberg came from inspiration fuelled by the vicissitudes of his emotional and intellectual life.{ A thoroughly old -fashioned aesthetic position in Adorno’s scheme of things]
He was criticised by the younger Darmstadt composers for pouring new wine into old bottles, by continuing to employ or to parody classical forms in some movements.
The advocates of “total serialism” claimed greater logical rigour for their employment of the procedures, but as always, the pursuit of “the new” does not guarantee greater formal or qualitative strength, and quality is confirmed in the end by the empathetic tolerance of new listeners.
However that they ,[ the totalists] “incurred the loss of articulation without which form is almost inconceivable” is a value judgement which supporters of the new music would find problematic.
ONe other thing—in An Appetite for Poetry [1989], Fank Kermode graphically describes the current babel of conflicting schools of literary criticism, and records how academics in University faculties of Literary and Cultural Criticism owe their continued existence to the publishing of “research”, i.e. churning out contributions to the art theory industry, thus perpetuating the trickle-down of factional interests and agendas held by a very few original voices.
Why visual art-students would even want to enter this minefield is beyond me.

By: CAP Sun, 29 Dec 2013 06:06:48 +0000 This whole essay is wayward to me. Cezanne’s early works were dismissed admittedly, but by the time he found his mature style he quickly had followers, before he even showed much. Degas and Gauguin were amongst them. Part of the reason his reputation rises quite quickly is because the Impressionist group recognise his ‘sensations’ and his radical shift to volume over colour as basic or prime. They might not have wanted to follow him, but they could see what he was doing.

The early Manet-influenced perversities are just not very good -even as just that. I wouldn’t say he was naive though. Although he came from the provinces, he went to a very good school, was intelligent, well read and according to Mary Cassat reliably remained a gentleman and always removed his hat in her presence. He also had a private income and no real need to chase a career. Initially he was intent upon shocking or offending, as young men often are, but he really didn’t have the ammunition, technically or emotionally, to deliver the kind of epat he had in mind. I think he just wasn’t mature enough, or know himself well enough at that point. If you want to call this naive, then he was naive.

He’s a great advertisement for late bloomers though.

By: CAP Sun, 29 Dec 2013 05:49:58 +0000 Are you saying he’s ‘naive’ (in the English sense) Ryan?

By: Terry Ryall Tue, 24 Dec 2013 01:29:15 +0000 Alan,there is (as I see it) an unwelcome structural problem here which prevents me from properly addressing your view that I wanted to have you banned from abcrit. More on that later.
What you and I and others have said in this particular thread is open to a process of scrutiny and assessment,and that, I hope you would agree, is as it should be. Individuals can look at what has been said in terms of content and tone and come to a balanced and objective view about opinions and comments. You feel I have unfairly ‘painted’ you as anti-intellectual and I don’t. I feel I have made a broadly-cast comment(if somewhat exaggerated)intended as a plea for a more tolerant tone. Those interested to do so can decide which of us has most justification for our differing viewpoints. Moving back in time a little, I hope we would both agree that the decision to remove our respective comments from a particular thread (I can’t remember which it was now) was contrary to the spirit of open exchange of views that Abcrit should (and indeed does most of the time) seek to promote. Sadly, no general scrutiny of what either of us actually said can now take place and because of that I am unable to defend myself in any meaningful way against the cheap-shot assertion that I wanted to have you banned from Abcrit,so,enjoy the moment. Think of it as an early Christmas present from those whom you have dubbed the Abcrit police:-) If you know who these shadowy figures are, please let me know.
Finally,I agree it is regrettable that the audience for your kind of abstraction has shrunk. Ultimately perhaps all that most artists really have that is meaningful is provided by what they do. It’s a lonely job.
Now,where’s that sherry?

By: Ryan Mon, 23 Dec 2013 16:07:48 +0000 Is 38-years-old still “young” enough to place me in a new generation? Am I of this AbCrit “coterie”, or outside of it? Or is all that crap insubstantial and ultimately irrelevant?

I hate to break it to y’all, but there is just no such thing as “continental philosophy”, as there is really no such thing as “alternative medicine”, or “Christian Science”. There is philosophy, there is medicine, there is science. Those other, added adjectives literally mean that, whatever it is you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong.

“Conceptual art” is another example of this…

So, trust an essay-writing university professor who self-admittedly doesn’t read philosophy to be the first to quote a “continental philosopher”, claim to “have no academic pretensions”, AND do it all without any outward sign of self-awareness or embarrassment!

Wow. Maybe I’m gettin’ too old for this shit.

By: John Pollard Mon, 23 Dec 2013 13:31:32 +0000 Abstract Critical brings lots of good painting to people and some interesting ideas. It also brings some personal disputes that play out like a family therapy session and so, for this reason, I will not comment on what can sound quite hurtful insults at times.
However, more seriously, I’m sure it does put some people off from posting and this should be kept in mind. How inclusive does Ab Crit want to be?
I’m certainly careful with what I post.
So, on the subject of continental philosophy, I won’t mention Heidegger.

By: Alan Gouk Sun, 22 Dec 2013 06:23:06 +0000 Corrections—I was rushed. Spelling–Schelling–repellent–series , not sees. More sherry anyone.

By: John Holland Sat, 21 Dec 2013 17:25:48 +0000 Really, Mr. Gouk, you’re going to have to do better than simply making up your own sleights. When the hell have I ever mentioned bloody UKIP? What on EARTH are you on about? Have you really nothing better to do- what about top and tailing the sprouts?
As for the Bristol Cream/Sanatogen ‘dig’, er- ? Maybe you should just say I smell, and be done with it.

Obviously, though, I’m enormously impressed with the sophistication of your sherry choice. Well done. And Happy Christmas.