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Too Pretty? The Trap of Beauty

“The truth is ugly: we have art so as not to perish from the truth.” Nietzsche

art-artist-blog-inspiration-quotes-twombly-07Whenever 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? art-artist-blog-inspiration-quotes-chrissie-hynde-09Beautiful? 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 Joplin…
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!

art-artist-blog-inspiration-quotes-andre-masson-gradiva-1937-05Pretty 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

art-artist-blog-inspiration-pollack-10Was 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 art-artist-blog-inspiration-11be 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

art-artist-blog-inspiration-quotes-picasso-03Pretty. 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?

art-artist-blog-inspiration-quotes-frida-khalo-06Oscar 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”.

art-artist-blog-inspiration-quotes-cocteau-01Looking 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.

art-artist-blog-inspiration-quotes-dekoonings-woman-02“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!

One and Only

genuis-artists-musicians-actors-inspiration-01“It’s easy to stand in the crowd, but it takes courage to stand alone” Mahatma Gandhi

One! Dylan, Patti Smith, Madonna, Picasso, Rumi, Marilyn, Chaplin, Gertrude Stein, Miller, O’Keefe, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Jobs, Joplin……..

One cannot be Undone.

 

unique-people-artists-musicians-actors-inspiration-02There is only One when it comes to the unique individual, who does, acts, creates, lives, in a different spectacular universe far removed from the rest of the rest. Encompassing the Best of the Best.
When these alien species appear, they are usually mocked, rejected, cast out, and scorned.
The masses just don’t get them. And – they are not supposed to.
But yet they persist like the crazy glue you can’t get unstuck from your hands.
They are extremely focused, loyal to their identity, used to the blowback received from peers and society clamoring for sameness, the pervasive herd mentality, yet commandeering their particular OneNess with overwhelming solidarity and singular ness, as they machete their way through the dense forest of criticism, denial, mockery, and rejection.
But still they persist.

The OneNess.

unique-people-artists-musicians-actors-inspiration-03Van Gogh had it. Michelangelo nailed it. Gertrude Stein invented it. Picasso owned it. Einstein invented it. Warhol flaunted it. Dylan folk singed it. Kerouac wrote it. Neil Cassidy drove it. EE Cummings rhymed it. Billie Holiday sang it. Emerson thought about it. Einstein hypothesized it. Freud analyzed it. Kerouac typed about it.

And we are still talking about these icons today. Because they are one of a kind. Unique, special rare, and everlasting. They are never disappearing into the abyss, as so many lesser personalities have done, but remained constant, with eternal, staying power, their destiny gave them, imprinted into infinity for all of us to share, learn, and reap the benefits of their unique Oneness!

Cool. Crazy Cool. The kind of cool that never warms up with the blasé cynicism of time.

unique-people-artists-musicians-actors-quotes-jobs-04ONE signifies the pioneer spirit of discovery! It’s revolutionary and life changing in theory and process . Who wants to run in a pack? Who wants to be a sheep when clearly it’s the sheep herder possessing the real power? But it takes guts, perseverance , creativity, solitude ,and self awareness, to separate from the sheep herd, and run alone.

One can be a lonely number, true, but it’s the ONLY number, existing for the trend setters, artists, and scientific geniuses of all time! The Kafka’s, the Jobs, the Edison’s, the Twains, the Thoureaus, the Pollocks, the Sontags, the Kahlos! No different from the great explorers of history, seeking new worlds in the abyss of the unknown.

unique-people-artists-musicians-actors-quotes-chaplain-05While the world seemed flat to most, for the explorers coming from their unique revolutionary experience of thought they knew that there was another theory waiting to be proven. And prove it they did. But it required charting unknown territories and blasting through the cemented thinking of popular opinion.
To be the One in a chosen destined field of creativity is to be blessed and cursed.

Like famed actor Robert Deniro told the graduating class at Tisch School of the Arts in NYC “you are fucked”! He would know!

unique-people-artists-musicians-actors-inspiration-07Following your dream, passion, fantasy, whatever you want to call it can be a lonely and torturous road. One beset with rejection, poverty, and disappointment. You have to put your Man Pants on if you want to crush it! You have to keep it moving, or you may fall off, never get back on your unique ride towards your individual destiny.

unique-people-artists-musicians-actors-quotes-stein-06But what’s the alternative?

When you are on a creative path you can get side tracked but will eventually get back on the right road. The one leading to your destination. The one that makes you who YOU are. The twists and turns are necessary roadblocks teaching and guiding on the way to greatness.

That’s the beauty and the magic of ONE.

It all starts
And
Ends
With
ONE!

Love/Hate – Dictate

andy-warhol-quoteTo Live is to Love is to Hate.  Have you ever stood in front of a painting, turned the pages of the latest hot novel, or sat in an audience at Carnegie Hall, experiencing a conflicting mix of feelings, where both love and hate, create  a toxic mix of ambivalent emotions as you looked, read, listened?

The renowned writer and author, Herman Melville said ” indifference is opposite of love, not hate. Hating art is like loving art.” It’s the same extreme emotion projected in a an upside down way.

hate-love-artist-blog-nyc-2014That’s the way it’s supposed to be. You are Not supposed to be 100% clear while engaging in any artistic experience because that would be kind of boring? Right?  Nobody wants it 100%. Yes or No. Easy to figure out. Mystery is key. A mixture of things to both love AND hate make it interesting, fun, edgy, create a story, spark our curiosity, essentially involving us like nothing else does. The yin and the yang forces necessary to life’s evolvement. And that is not a simple thing. It’s a bit of black and white, yes and no, up and down, that forces us to really get into it and feel the love/hate dichotomy that riles people up, makes them sweat, and sends them running to their therapists! Otherwise, what have you? Flat – lining into oblivion. “Dead Man Walking.” And who wants that?!??! We need to have that duality when engaging in whatever our art crush happens to be. Otherwise it’s easy to take it for granted, get bored, and loose interest. Not Cool!

hate-love-artist-blog-nyc-2014Falling in love with a painting, a song, a poem, a story, a film, a dance, can feel like a powerful emotional rush, driving the need to engage in an extreme relationship with the object of your infatuation! The reason someone will pay 20 million$ for a painting, or develop a cultish obsession for a writer, I’m thinking about David Foster Wallace, Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, for example, not to mention the obsessive crushes people get on rock stars and actors, creating fan clubs, on-line sites, stalkers, venting their obsessive emotions, that are indulged and stoked by the Technicolor images on stage and screen. The passions that the Beatles, the Stones, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Nirvana ,inspired in the past, certainly looked like love! Swooning teenagers screaming in the audiences, universally tells the story. The Love Story. But then, flip the switch, and you get Hate. The fine line, tightrope walk where Love & Hate get uncomfortably close in their emotional energy and feeling. Especially when it comes to art.

The hatred of an artwork, can be as emotionally charged if not more so as the love of it. Both require intensity of feeling. Hating & Loving, the dynamic duo, blending as one, a bipolar emotional cocktail, with the ultimate result being a feeling of Something whether —viewing, reading, writing, listening, thinking……. Superman & Batman jumping the Shark!

BukowskiBukowsky’s poem, “Nothing Subtle”, read twice will either break the stoniest wall, or add another brick to it. “There is nothing subtle about dying or dumping garbage, or the spider and this fist full of nickels…..”. Or E.E. Cummings’, “LVIII”,  a quintessential love poem, a possible  answer to telling your girlfriend how you Really feel. “Is there a flower (whom i meet anywhere)

able to be and seem so quite softly as your hair….”

Depending on who you are either poem has the possibility of evoking either Love OR Hate, as the poem is processed emotionally in that unique experience that art gives us. One’s identity confirms and affirms one’s feeling.

Van-gogh-the-starry-night-1889The large crowd always clustered around Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” masterpiece at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, can’t stop staring, at the mesmeric swirls of color as they click click click on their iPhone cameras trying to preserve the memory of this work of art that is so hard to walk away from. The agony depicted in Munch’s “Scream” is paltable, it is cringe worthy at best. Hate or Love? I call hate on this one.  It’s definitely not a pretty warm and fuzzy moment. “Scream” makes you want to cry and run away. But that’s great. It’s emotion. And that is a good thing when delving into arts’ caverns of love and hate. You will find both, living side by side, in harmony conflict. A duo of opposites.  Revealing the dichotomy of life forces as experience teaches the individual as he grows. Pop art will inspire a lot of hate, as Jeff Koons did with me at his latest exhibit at the Whitney in Nyc. People Love to Hate Pop. They often don’t get it so it’s easy to hate. They link the hate jeff-koons-wow-show-whitney-museum-nycoften with ridicule and laughter. That’s fine. At least they are feeling something and that’s the point. Warhol’s art was ridiculed and mocked all, over town. That Campbell Soup can was absurd! After all it was just a soup can. Sure. On the surface. Of course ironically, it became the trademark that helped turn Warhol into a pop icon legend, while the haters watched him laugh his way to the bank! So you never know. Hating an art work can be a good thing. When Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, was published, people didn’t know what to think!  A salesman, his protagonist, turning into a giant insect, with no real explanation, it was so bizarre, so hated, so dark, that of course it became his major work, the novel he is known for, the book on high school reading lists worldwide! The story, brought to the surface dark feelings, and confusing messages, all symptomatic of Kafka’s own personal life story.

Franz-Kafka-The-Metamorphosis“A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us” so said Kafka. He finished none of his novels and burned 90% of his work. “Metamorphosis” regarded as his seminal work inspire those conflicting love – hate feelings in any reader. His themes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, quest, and transformation are the substance of his writings, fascinating readers for over 70 years. One can either love, hate, or a combination of both, Kafka’s take on life, and it’s effect on his literary work. But one cannot remain unaffected. One cannot ignore!

“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike” JK Rowling. She should know, waiting on the line for her literary blockbuster Harry Potter, to be recognized!

If the art has inspired ANYTHING other than indifference it has succeeded in cracking that emotional nut!

LOVE.  HATE.  The mirage where the train tracks appear to join as one in the distance, or the ocean and sky meet at the horizon.

Robert-mitchum-Love-Hate-tattoosThe actor Robert Mitchum, in “Night of the Hunter”, tattooed his knuckles with the words Love and Hate, in the 1955 film. Pulp. Dark. Cool.  Unforgettable!

Playing a psychotic preacher, he characterized themes of good and evil, as he flashes his knuckles as a trick to seduce women in the towns he visits, a predator using religion, with good and evil symbolism, as his ticket in, his entrance thru the doorways of womens hearts and cash. With the word LOVE, tattooed on one hand, and HATE on the other, he had his unique, convenient, creepy visual to back up his words. The common universal theme of good and evil as combative forces in religion, nature, and art, communicate an emotional feeling unavoidable for most of us. Mitchum, in the film, plays a character who is very aware of this power, and uses it to manipulate his naive victims, who fall for his preacher act, as he spins biblical proverbs while flashing his significantly labeled hands. A predator hunting his prey, using the themes of love and hate as his metaphorical bait!

beatles_magical_mystery_tourArt can have this kind of power. The viewer, the reader, the listener gets pulled in, on the emotional level that exposes feelings, good and bad, through the magic and mystery of the sublime presence and power that art evokes! Emotional Q or “EQ” dominates and supplements us with an energy like no other!  We experience our own version of a “Magical Mystery Tour”, as we visit unexplored artistic regions! Our EQ provides us with the perfect guide, helping expose and enhance our artistic feelings on the journey.

We see in the paintings and poetry of the genius William Blake, the spiritual power of his mind, translating, love-hate, good – evil, themes which permeate the great body of his work. Being a metaphysician, an alchemist, a painter, a poet, a printmaker, a visionary: he created  his art  from a very transcendental  place, and it shows. Love. Hate. Blake “GOT” it! Supremely gifted with genius, and possessing a powerful connection to the spiritual world, he combined both painting and prose to transmit his messages to the world.

The_Scream_MunchYes, love and hate dictate the emotional overlap in the art world to the outer world. People being who they are, relationships get messy,  and so it is with our relationships with art. Messy. There is rarely a clear definitive response, but when there is, it’s either one or the other. But both are related as the pendulum swings back and forth, like our reactions when faced with the Basquiet, the Lautrec, the monster insect of Kafka’s masterpiece, or the grotesque eviscerations of Francis Bacon’s men, Diane Arbus and her freaks, or Anais Nin’s narcissistic journals, Tennessee William’s anguished characters, Kurt Cobain’s angst ridden songs, Or John Water’s underground film personalities, the list goes on and on and on…….

We all participate in the dictatorial symbolism emoting from the very genesis of what art is, and when we engage, by either making art or enjoying art we become the welcome victims indulging this power, because it takes us into worlds we can’t experience in any other way! Love and Hate are kindred siblings, that inspire, horrify, disgust, repulse, embrace, adore,  caress, shame, tranquilize, frighten, seduce, amuse, threaten, and often surprise!

Yes, Love/Hate – Dictate!

And

If invited-

We are always eager to attend THAT party!

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