Sunday, November 16, 2008

Two Dee Dee Stories and a Mini-Rant

As we wind down, I'll be combining unrelated subjects more frequently, simply in order to make posts of respectable sizes.

  • I have mentioned that Dee had a sweet tooth, and it was from her that I learned that M&M's *will* melt in your hand, given sufficient time. Dee also liked the occasional daydream or nap, and one day she combined her pleasures, grabbing a handful of M&M's and stretching out on the bed. She awoke several hours later with a handful of melted chocolate.

  • One day Dee was *quite* upset with me over something, I honestly don't recall what (but if she reminds me I'll post it here), and was unable to keep it from spilling over into the office.

    Whatever led up to it, she came to the area where I worked and shrieked "I'm BUSY Saturday. And EVERY Saturday."

    The rest of this I later heard from her. Soon it was quitting time, and she was at the elevator bank, crying. Several co-workers arrived and one asked, "What's the matter, Dee Dee?"

    Dee, Having Her Cake and Eating It Too: "Oh, never mind. I don't want to get Donnie Richards in trouble."
What Constitutes "Art?"

Twenty years ago a colleague and I skirmished for a couple of days over the things that people call art, in particular "abstract art" and its cousins. Taking examples from real life, my position was that paintings created by dipping cows' tails in paints and having the cows swish their tails against canvas, and paintings by monkeys randomly throwing paint at canvas have been awarded first prizes in art contests, and this says to me that the so called judges simply couldn't distinguish between art and Art Garfunkel.

In the end he took the position that something was to be called art if whoever created it said it was art. My take on that was that the concept robbed the word "art" of all meaning.

My colleague is now among the departed, and if he ever changed his mind on the matter he did so without informing me. *Eye*, it will delight you to know, have not changed my position one iota, and a recent news item simply adds fuel to my fire.

The Tate Museum in London is "thought" to be displaying two paintings by the late Mark Rothko incorrectly. They currently hang horizontally, and it is said by some that he intended that they hang vertically. This argument is bolstered by the position of his signature on the back of the canvas.

Rothko donated the works to the Tate Museum before committing suicide, and one is left to hope that the proximate cause of the suicide was not the positioning of the paintings.

Rothko, by the way, has been described as "famous for his bold stripes and squares."

Here's one of the pictures in question, hanging at the Tate:

Couldn't you just look at that all day?

What? Let me see if I've got it:

If you paint stripes - nothing but a couple of stripes - on a canvas, you've created a work of art, a serious work of art, one worthy of hanging in the Tate Museum, even though no one can look at it and tell which end is up.

Try this thought experiment:

1. Find and isolate a dozen or so art critics who somehow have never seen or heard of Rothko or his paintings.

2. Make your own painting - nothing but a couple of stripes. Paint them vertically or horizontally - it doesn't matter.

3. Submit your painting and the painting pictured above to the critics for comparative judgments.

If such an experiment could be arranged I would bet the farm that the critics would be divided as to which was the better painting. And they would find reasons for their opinions, reasons regarding what each painting "says," reasons that never entered Rothko's mind or yours while the paintings were being created.

Despite the  risk  certainty of being categorized a Philistine by the effete, I say they're jackasses all - those who think it's art, those who argue about which end is up, and those who even give it a second thought.

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