Archive for the Andy Warhol Category

The Academy versus The Street, neo-Poussinistes versus neo-Caravaggisti

Posted in 16th cent, Andy Warhol, Babylon Beefcake, Caravaggio, Jacques Louis David, Nicholas Poussin on June 30, 2011 by babylonbaroque

I am fortunate to live in a vibrant neighbor, the Arts District of Los Angeles.

7th & Mateo St., Los Angeles

This neighborhood  may  well be  the center of Los Angeles’ Renaissance, for like 15th-16th century Florence, my neighborhood is rich with public work. On a recent jog through town I  confronted  a familiar face plastered upon a derelict wall, St Therese , lifted directly from Bernini’s masterpiece, translated from divine marble to street-worthy stencil.

I wasn’t sure what to think, I was pleased that this anonymous artist found her beautiful face as inspiring as I have ; but I am concerned that there is a lack of reverence that great art is due. We seem to live in a time and place where all imagry is up for grabs, to be clipped and pasted to suit the creator’s taste and imagination. My experience with fellow students, is a dis-regard for the source, what matters is the aesthetic appeal. This saddens and worries me, what is the relevance of great art when it is as desirable and as ephemeral as an image from advertising.

Damn you Mr. Warhol

I am concerned our cultural experience will become increasingly less rich and less rewarding. This isn’t a new argument of course, Nicholas Poussin famously complained that “Caravaggio had come into the world to destroy painting”. Poussin’s opposition to Caravaggio’s “street” art is understandable considering Poussin’s belief that “…the first requirement, which is the basis for all others, is that the subject should be great, such as battles, heroic actions and divine matters…”; Caravaggio’s saints with dirty feet would certainly have conflicted with Poussin’s directive to “disregard anything that is vulgar…” (source:Alain Merot Nicolas Poussin).

Los Angeles is in enthralled with this image of spontaneous street expression, MOCA is enjoying popular attendance with its blockbuster exhibition Art in the Streets. This enthusiasm for uninhibited (illegal ?) expression can be found elsewhere as well, Pasadena Museum of California Art has jumped on the “street” bandwagon with its current exhibition Street Cred: Graffiti Art from Concrete to Canvas ; recently there was an event downtown in which  skateboarding youth were quite literally given the streets, Wild in the Streets.

As I sit and type this I am aware of how curmudgeonly conservative I appear. I am conservative, but I do not believe that restricts my appreciation of public work with visual merit; my concern is that the traditions I most admire will be lost in a cloud of aerosol .

That said lets look at pretty pictures.

Nomadé

2011 (?)

paste-up

7th and Mateo, Los Angeles

source

Work by Nomadé is difficult to not admire and enjoy, I run by examples quite frequently, particularly around the corner from my home at 7th and Mateo. The work is pasted up and requires  regular maintenance, which often translate into another arresting (no pun intended) image.

Nomadé

2011

paste-up

7th & Mateo

source

This short clip is marvelous at demonstrating the creation,  as you will see, studio preparation is  an important part of the process.

More work by Nomadé can be found at this link.

Please follow the following prompts for more examples to be found in my neighborhood, work by JR, D*Face, Shepard Farey, etc., link and link, you will be in  for a visual treat.

But for all of that robust masculine expression created by Nomadé, I must of course confess an allegiance to that monarchist traitor, Jacques Louise David .

I prefer David’s beefcake to Nomadé’s.

Jacques-Louis David ( 1748-1825)

The Intervention of the Sabine Women

detail

1799

oil on canvas

Louvre

Can I be blamed for preferring the above to this,

Nomadé

I have been “crushing “on David’s noble soldiers since I was a boy, his paintings have continued to give me great joy. A joy  and satisfaction that I doubt a paste-up will be able to sustain.

Although “street” art often requires extensive preparation, this attention to detail  pales to the fifteen years David devoted to his monumental Leonidas at Thermopylae. David strove for  the “ideal beauty” the Academy and subject demanded.

Poussin may well have chided David for defying his decree that an artist must “…make every effort to avoid getting lost in minute detail, so as not to detract from the dignity of the story”, for David made many sketches reworking the composition time and again. The painting has been criticized as over-worked, but again, I am merely infatuated with the virile splendor and painterly virtuosity.

Leonides at Thermopylae

1814

oil on canvas

Louvre

Leonidas at Thermopylae

 detail

I have been in love with the soldier on Leonide’s left for decades, the timelessness of love and art.

For a higher quality image of the painting follow this Encyclopedia Britannica link .

The following are some of the examples of David’s attention to detail, both source links offer very interesting insight into David’s process, well worth a peek.

Leonides at Thermopylae

ca. 1814

black chalk, squared in black chalk

Metropolitan Museum of Art

ca. 1813

Louvre

I will end this Academic love fest with just two more images ,because I can never be satisfied with less.

I appreciate your indulgence.

Study after Michelangelo

1790

black chalk

Louvre

Mars Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces

1824

Musée royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique

I appreciate the opportunity to rant, until next time, take care.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

Cold War Homo Artists, 1945-1968( and a bit beyond)

Posted in 20th century, Andy Warhol, Beauford Delaney, David Hockney, Gay, George Platt Lynes, Jasper Johns, Larry Rivers, Minor White, Paul Cadmus, Robert Rauschenberg on November 11, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Once again dear reader I am influenced by my current topic of study, in this case the chilling effects caused by the Cold War, the House Un-american Activities Committee, and McCarthyism. I chose to explore gay American artists during this period and how they responded to  the societal pressures of conformity and repression, personal, and aesthetic.

I will not bore you with the essay, just provide a scrap book of images.

Beauford Delaney

1901-1979

Washington Square

1948

Washington Square

1952

source for both images

I confess I knew little of Beauford, I found his story most touching, his struggles with racism, homophobia, depression, loneliness very poignant.

Paul Cadmus

1904-1999

Manikins

1951

I did not include this later work in my project, but I have long enjoyed the image.

Summer

1979

source for both images

I really enjoy how this painting reminds me of Boucher, the subject like a strange retelling of the Moses myth. Cadmus seems to have been a happy man; 35 years with the handsome Jon Anderson serving as muse and companion certainly had something to do with that.

Jasper Johns

b. 1930-present

Target with Plaster Casts

1955

source

I love how until recently, the closeted Johns made use of secrets.The cast body parts only revealed upon lifting the little doors. the great visual irony being the target symbol, screaming for attention yet hiding truths from view.

Robert Rauschenberg

1925-2008

Monogram

1955-59

freestanding combine

source

Retroactive 1

1964

source

It is a great irony that the two Pop geniuses Johns and Rauschenberg, boyfriends for some time, tried to distance themselves from Warhol, who they found “too swish”.

This attitude not unlike the macho posturing of the Abstract Expressionists.

Andy Warhol

1928-1987

Nancy

1960

source

It is too difficult to not notice the visual/verbal humor that the closeted Warhol was exploring. Early Pop paintings by Warhol were first exhibited as a sort of artistic window dressing for  the department store Bonwit Teller in in the spring of ’61. Rauschenberg and Johns had also exhibited their work in this manner. It is little wonder that the virile Abstract Expressionists dismissed the Pop movement.

Larry Rivers

1925-2002


The Greatest Homosexual

1964

source

Ostensibly not homosexual although his boyfriend the poet Frank O’Hara might find the argument flimsy. It doesn’t matter, this twice married , father of five  libertine, in many ways best expressed gay sensibilities. Be it his wry parody of David’s The Emperor Napoleon in his Study at the Tuileries ,1812 (above), or his sensitive portrayal of O’Hara (below) ;River’s painting satisfy.

Frank O’Hara Nude with Boots

1954

source

As space was limited I did not include many of the artists I would have liked. I will fasten a few more that I particularly admire.

George Platt Lynes

1907-1955


Nicholas Magallanes and Francisco Moncion in NY Ballet production of Orpheus

1950

source

I love how this East Orange N.J. boy, with his flamboyantly gay imagery became Kinsey’s “go-to-gay” whenever he needed something decidedly queer.

He certainly found the right fellow.

Minor Martin White

1908-1976

Bob Bright, San Pedro Point Marker

1949

source

The deeply conflicted White, perhaps bisexual, perhaps gay, spent his life tormented by his desire. This image of the incredibly handsome Bright gives us an inkling of that torment; Bright is almost available, teetering upon the rocky precipice, just out of desire’s reach.

David Hockney

1937-present

We Two Boys Together Clinging

1961

source

I end this exploration of American Cold War Homo Artists with a Brit; a Brit who seems to have great affection for our country, at least sunny southern California.

I have always found this painting sweetly touching and uplifting, I thought it a fitting end piece.

With that,

Good Day,

Babylon Baroque

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