“The truth is ugly: we have art so as not to perish from the truth.” Nietzsche
Whenever I visit galleries which is often I find that I spend the most time gazing at a painting sculpture etc. that is the least pretty or beautiful or cute. The ones that capture my interest are either ugly, weird, or just downright confusing. Because yes, it’s true that we all like pretty, but pretty wears off fast, gets old, tired, and empty and we go hungering and thirsting after something heartier, more filling, more substantial. Paintings can be like that. Was Warhol pretty? Picasso was hideous, and Twombly just plain confusing, what about Richter? Beautiful? I think NOT. Why do we love Patti Smith? Not because she is Sooooo pretty! But because she is way above and beyond I to the world of fascinating abstract soulful interesting capturing our hearts and our minds with her music and her LIFE STORY.
So, yes, Chrissie Hynde, one of the ultimate sexy Queens of Rock, is getting play with statements she is making about how singers today are nothing more than porn stars who sing. As they strip down to their bare nothingness while wailing usually a boring tinsel sounding melody that doesn’t really require much talent just nerve and the lack of an embarrassment gene.
Oh well. Hyde got it right. She never had to expose her body to be sexy, cool, popular, and desirable. never. ever.
Neither did Fleetwood Mac…
Or Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas…
Or Carole King…
Or Linda Ronstadt…
I could go on and on and on….
You get the point!
Pretty is Not the Point. It’s the Anti point. helloooooooo
Art should be confusing odd different and unique. Warhol’s soup can was his. Sort of. Actually it belonged to all of us. That’s what made it cool.
Twombly so scribble scribbles are crazy and weird like,poll lacks splatter paintings bug again do to we relate more to dysfunction and chaos then we do to linear clean lines?????
Chrissie Hynde Mystery Achievement
Was not nyc more glam in the dirty scary seventies than it is now in its gentrified sterile prettiness?????? Of course. But the only people who know it are the ones who saw it back when . The millenniums and the gen y ‘s have no clue. As they try to be artists in this uber tech society with the grunge the grit the gory grotesque horror neatly cleaned up and filed down. Neatly cleaned up, filed away for future reference , only if and when necessary!
Jolie Laide – translated in English – pretty ugly. This means that a physically imperfect person exudes a sexy charm, a beauty that cannot be hidden by sterile perfection. This quality is actually sexier and more interesting than someone who is physically perfect. We see this in the modeling world where top models, like Kate Moss, Turlington, Twiggy, Penelope Tree, or any of the London models made famous during the age of Mary Quant and Piccadilly, during the Hippie Age of Drugs Sex and Rock n Roll, like Verushka, all made their fame and fortune spectacular in their unconventional look. That made them objects of fascination for everyone who wanted to be them, but just did not have that edge, that extra something. And that’s true in the art world as well. Perhaps it’s true in every aspect of life. One needs that Extra Something, the new, different, often irregular, offbeat, crazy, that makes people take notice. Otherwise it’s just same old same old. And that doesn’t make art!
“Fashion: a beautiful thing that becomes ugly. Art: an ugly thing that becomes ugly.” Coco Chanel
Pretty. A compliment? I think not. More than likely a dismissal. An after thought. A crumb of “let’s pretend”. Who really wants to be pretty? What painting could be worthy of interest if it’s only claim to fame was pretty? Pretty doesn’t go far. It’s merely one step above cute.
Is Picasso pretty? Or Munch? Or Pollack? Or Rothko? Basquiet? Arbus? de Kooning? Kahlo?
Were Kerouac, Hemingway, Plath, Stein, Rimbaud, Billie Holliday, Langston Hughes, Zora Hurston, EE Cummings, Djuna Barnes, Bob Dylan!
We want the thing that gets our attention and makes us take notice. pretty doesn’t cut it.
Pretty weird or ugly or confusing or strange or complex or disturbing makes it something we want to look at harder, understand, get involved with, and then later in the midnight hours ponder wonder and consider what exactly was that I saw?
Oscar Wilde said “No object is beautiful that under certain conditions will not look ugly”.
One could say that those conditions depend upon the viewer the mood the day the setting. It is all fluid and changeable. And mostly extremely individual. The thought of the viewer determines the experience. Beautiful can look ugly. Ugly can look beautiful. Perception is everything. But one studies ugly in a very different way, more focused, and involved. It’s someways to gloss over beauty. It’s obvious effect needs no further inspection.
I love still lives of Fantin Latour. Every flower is perfection. So real, in their detailed beauty, the viewer of his paintings can’t help but feel the paintings “prettyiness”. But they do not require much analysis. Nor do the wonderful Bonnard domestic scenes of early 20th century Provence life. No one will dispute the lush beauty of Renoirs women, or of Mary Quants children. In the moment one beholds the beauty, but moving away it is easily forgotten. Why is that?
The “Jolie-Laide” is missing.
Renowned art critic Clement Greenberg said “All profoundly original art looks ugly at first”.
Looking at some of the older works of Ny artist Julien Schnabell prints in his book of memories called CV.J. I can’t find one pretty painting. Most are a melange of chaos on a canvas, broken plates, harsh words, confusing images, and muddy colors, and again broken plates! Not your everyday pretty painting. Suzanne Valdon’s bastard son, and sickly alchoholic, Utrillo, was a master of pretty paintings, still sold today as postcards and prints. His images of Montmartre, during the early 1900’s, appeals to the masses today as frame – able, hangable, non disturbing art. Guaranteed to decorate, promised not to disturb. And that’s OK.
“They have to take a chance, everything they do is taking a chance, but they feel so much safer when they take it on something they know to be ugly, vain and stupid.” Ayn Rand
We take that chance when we choose ugly art . It’s the safe route. Life is NOT pretty. Art is life. We want the Real Deal. Not the facade. Not the counterfeit. The pretty – ugly. the ugly- pretty. The ying and the yang. The Jolie Laide called LIFE, called ART!