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18 July 2011

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I had a similar revelation with a Mondrian retrospective, in a big room of a zillion little grid paintings and happened on one where the line was less than perfect, a little smudgy even, and trailed off instead of coming to a hard stop or bisecting the cosmic plane of the canvas. Because the eye completes the picture, you couldn't see it unless you stopped looking at the picture and started looking at the line.

I like Stella because his contempt for the human animal is right there at the surface and in that contempt, he finds actual joy, a freeing sense of flight from man(un)kind's gravity. He is playing in the Platonic clouds of ideas with a slide rule and a stack of sample chits lifted from Sherwin-Williams.

Stella can blow right through you, though, because it really is you-see-what-you-see. You can pour yourself into those paintings and it's like perfectly good paint going right down the drain.

I was unclear in my post, I was actually talking about Jasper Johns' Voice
http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2007/johns/device2.shtm

But I think it applies to Newman's The Voice as well. I like the pressure exuded on that little zip.

Stella and Rothko, and Twombly for that matter, were all painters I had an initial, visceral THIS IS BULLSHIT reaction to and with time, let them work on me, and eventually they did with personally rewarding results. I'm not in geosynchronous orbit yet, but have the same relationship with Steely Dan; I ask a massive art to bring me in to its way of thinking. Why hate something unless you can glean some understanding about it or yourself from it? It's wasted energy otherwise.

Right now, I'm at a place where I find both Barnett Newman and Aja to be arenas of astonishingly agile gracelessness, ballets where the charm of the human stumble has been squeezed out, perhaps even callously, and while I can get with it in Frank Stella's work, I can't get with it in theirs yet. I will say, though, after a week of preparing for the WNYC thing, I've found more to latch onto with the Dan. Compresssing a foghorn like Michael McDonald into a background singer on "Peg", denying him his magnificent leatherette gale, and convincing a wild panther like Wayne Shorter to jump neatly through hoops - cold power moves. It's a "you work for me" situation. which is how its is when you are operating at an enterprise level.

I thought of that same thing glancing up at an anonymous glass tower off Allen Drive in Houston. Easily twice as big as anything in my whole city, and half the size of the real big boys Houston has to offer, and I was struck by "Who could possibly muster the curiosity to find out what goes on in there?"

Right next to it was a bridge where a quarter-of a million bats live in little crevices on the underside that look a lot like Barnett Newman zips, except they are dripping with shit and are filled with chattering bats and at sunset they emerge and murder the devour the vanquished sun with their mass. It's a stoned soul picnic with the damned.

Naw, I was talking about Newman's. I knew that Johns piece was way down South, but I think I saw an interation of it here ... at the Whitney, maybe? Not NGA, because I have only been there one time.

This whole outpouring from you is so bromantic! In the Keats-y reflective way, not in the pants way.

I am not surprised to hear that about you & Twombly. When we were in Chgo, we went to the Art Institute's new Modern Wing -- which was so, so great -- where there was an exhibit of Twombly's sculpture that just ... it was really nice to see it, and I loved it because it was -- have you seen this sculpture? photos?. Here.

here!

I love work that brings that reaction from people, because I feel like it energizes the pieces, like they stand taller to cast a mightier shadow over people's small-minded scorn and in that height, they are given the grace to lift those who are open to show something that was never seen before.

I am not even the littlest bit ashamed to tell you that the reason that I could not get down with Stella's huge Toledo show is because it was titled Irregular Polygons. Ahahaha! Seriously, though! Plus, also, so much to see there, out there, on the homeland's rich soil.

there!

Picassos! Miros! That Schnabel mosiac of Reinaldo Arenas! van Goghs we've never seen in real life that are not in Paris! All just hanging on the wall! This is making me so sad I was not in Manhattan last week to get it to the Whitney, which I had totally planned. Oh, the forgotten Whitney ... xoxo

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