Richibi’s Weblog

Just another weblog

Month: November, 2008

falling for Abstraction

            Morning star  


                                “Morning star”, 1940                   

                                         Joan Miró


                                                                                                                                      to prize Abstraction you need to feel its value, somehow make it relevant to your well-being, your soul, not an easy task for someone who hasn’t grown up with it, I see the same thing ‘s happened for instance for many with computers, the language is entirely foreign

I remember a sigh of relief, and unexpectedly delight, at the Queen Sofia after slogging through the history of art for a couple of weeks across the street at the Prado, before a roomful of Mirós

the Prado had been dripping in art

the Spaniards of course, Murillo, Goya, Zurbaran, were there, El Greco, the transplanted Doménicos Theotokópoulos, his great elongated figures depicting anguish, torment, ecstasies, edged unforgettably in charcoal black

the cheeky Velazquez – looking you straight in the face, where his subjects, the king and queen, also stand, reflected craftily albeit in a mirror at the back where you’d be too were this a real mirror – is a celebrated self-portrait, majesties no less have acquiesced to be merely backdrop here for the artist’s rendering of himself 

and indeed who remembers these once almighty monarchs beside their now immortal subject, their lasting fame assured ironically by virtue mostly of his grace

royal children meanwhile cavort up front, while on the far left taking up most of that side there’s the canvas he’s working on, a brush in one hand, in the other a palette of assorted colours, considering their applicability

a triumph

                                                                                                                                         the Dutch were there, the ubiquitous Rubens of course, the Rembrandts, the van Dycks, the Bruegels, but supreme for me among them was the unearthly rather “Garden of Earthly Delights“, I didn’t expect it there, it was awesome, Bosch representing pictorially the panoply of Christian mythological thought, from Eden to black and ignominious hell through, in the middle triptych, our earth, controversially carnal and cavorting, in pink and azure blue, for our sober edification and delight

and still there were the innumerable, the masterful, Italians

                                                                                                                                       we left the Prado saturated, my mom and I, the Queen Sofia was an afterthought with time left on our hands, we expected nothing other there than baubles, trinkets

but Miró greeted us at the door with a roomful of light, air, fantasy, planets, comets, asterisks swirled in orbits of infinite phantasmagorical invention, fish flew where stars fell, and eyes looked out of spiderwebs, perspective gave way to dimensions

my mom breathed a sigh of relief, simultaneously enchantment, we’d entered another world

just as had in its own time, for that matter, the history itself of art

from there it was just a hop, skip and jump of course to the more abstruse maybe even abstractions of for instance even a Jackson Pollock


                                                                                                                                      yours in the discovery of art                                                                                                                                         richibi

psst: in thinking of Miró I was reminded of Chagall, he could be he for whimsy, I recalled an ekphrastic poem about a painting of his I thought I might’ve lost, all I could remember was the poem’s own mimetic whimsy, and a blue, I’d thought, violin

here it is

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Don’t let that horse

Don’t let that horse
eat that violin
cried Chagall’s mother

But he kept right on painting

And became famous

And kept on painting
The Horse with Vilolin in Mouth
And when he finally finished it
he jumped up upon the horse
and rode away
waving the violin

And then with a low bow gave it
to the first naked nude he ran across

And there were no strings attached





Diane Arbus – 1923-1971

     Diane Arbus, Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J.

                                    “Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J.“, 1967
                                                        Diane Arbus  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   1923 -1971
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      with the camera the shutter becomes the brush, the art only a click away, the artistry, the creativity, debatable
where is the skill, the ingenuity, indeed the art
the snapshot is a picture of an imagination taken on the spot, the art must be in the very brain, not in, as one would expect, the dextrous fingers, the articulation, the prestidigitation, must be already sorted out, already calibrated, technical prowess not required, just able, artful observation
the shutter will do the rest
can a point of view then, a take, one will reasonably inquire, be art

Diane Arbus had been a fashion photographer, gave it up for something, it would appear, more meaningful, became thereby, in my estimation, unforgettable, broke down for me reservations about photography as art 
Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J., 1967, is not about these twins, these unexceptional twins – otherwise merely a portrait, an indifferent even portrait – but about something much more relevant
two little girls in black and white – though this may be itself the kind of photography – look straight into the camera, you look to tell them apart
their little dress adorned by each the same white ruffle at the collar, recalling incidentally the Reformation Dutch, a witty touch, give no clue, they could be matching dolls, flat cut-outs, for that matter, given the minimal use of perspective
a matching hair band, the same hair, the same nose, the same mouth, don’t either, the eyes do but only just 

they tell though the entire story, their different light, their different incandescence, though even ever so slight, though ever even so elusive, is what finally tells them apart 

but the focus has switched, you’re observing something now immaterial, incorporeal, insubstantial, become simultaneously something mystical, metaphysical, transcendental, some might call God  
Michelangelo’s did the same thing for Adam, another much wittier art history touch

two other girls, “Untitled“, 1970-71, speak even more clearly perhaps about this 
note the angel come through in the girl on the left, in all its magnificent splendour


                                           Untitled“, 1970-71
                                                   Diane Arbus 

                                                   1923 -1971

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Diane Arbus committed suicide on July 26, 1971, undoubtedly
undone by what she’d sought to witness, perhaps the too bright light
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     psst: why is it that those who are “Untitled” would never think of taking their own life, perhaps they’ve been blessed with an extra measure of courage