Your Kid Could Not Do This

I confess to more than a little snobbery when I was in art school. I wasn't a snob about status or money, because those things seemed far too pedestrian to me. I was a snob about work. I was immensely impressed by craft and labor. This is not to say that I didn't appreciate conceptualism, because I absolutely did. I just expected to see it -- to have some tangible proof of the time and suffering inherent in the birth of an idea.

I was a naive idiot, and is there anything worse than a stupid snob?

cy twombly francois halard

I scoffed at Cy Twombly's work (all those dots and scribbles -- I could make that in my sleep!). But if I am honest with myself, I didn't like his work because I didn't understand it. I couldn't discern any method to his art or craft whatsoever.

cy twombly francois halard

It's been eight years since I finished school, and the art world was different back then. Art was about something -- your gender, your home, your race, your pet chickens. What didn't really matter, but there damn well better be a metaphorical SOMETHING in there somewhere.

cy twombly francois halard

And so, as a young photographer I was quite sure Twombly's work was outdated, superficial, and self absorbed.

cy twombly francois halard

After all, photography in the late twentieth century threatened old school gestural painters like Twombly much in the same way photography threatened painting back in the early nineteenth century, leading Paul Delaroche to utter most famously, "Painting is dead."

cy twombly francois halard

And after all, Cy Twombly lived in relative obscurity for decades -- a recluse doing his own thing off the coast of Italy. An irrelevant person of little interest. At least that's what I thought.

cy twombly

So it's really rather funny that Twombly is undeniably popular now; it's funny that it has become such a fad to scribble all over a canvas and call it Art with a capital A.

cy twombly francois halard

But the difference between Twombly and all the trendsters, the thing that I did not understand about his work when I was in school, the thing that perhaps most people were too jaded and eager to dismiss about him when he first started painting amidst all the splashy ab ex guys and minimalists years and years ago, is intent. Or INTENT, rather. Yes, with capital letters. Purpose is the key.

And to make that appear effortless is the mark of a virtuoso.

cy twombly francois halard

If you doubt that, read his own words regarding his work: “It does not illustrate. It is the sensation of its own realization.”

Spoken like a man well versed in the wisdom of the classics. I hope it's not too late for me to learn to follow suit.

cy twombly francois halard

Rest in peace Cy Twombly.

[NY Times Arts Beat, Photos of Cy Twombly's studio by Francois Halard]

Redesigned Ditties: Baby Got Back

Oh, my, god. Becky, look at that art.It is so big. It looks like, one of those abstract expressionists. But, you know, who understands those art guys? They only paint things, because, they were like total alkies, 'kay? I mean, that art, is just so big. I can't believe it's just so round, it's like, out there!

I mean - whoa. Look! It's just so ... black!

I like big art and I can not lie You other sistas can't deny That when a big paintin' hangs in an itty bitty place With that color all in your face You get sprung, wanna write out a check Cause you're a lusty wanton wreck

This art ain't made for sharing I'm hooked and I can't stop staring

Oh canvas, I wanna get with you And take your picture My accountant tried to warn me But that shape you got makes me so horny

Ooh, Rump-o'-smooth-stroke Been thinking about you since I woke Well, come home, please me 'Cause you ain't an average new piece

I've seen small paintings To hell with all them things

You're a net asset, Got me goin' like a turbo 'Vette

I'm tired of magazines Sayin' gallery walls are the thing Take the average woman and ask her that Art gotta pack much back

So, ladies! (Yeah!) Ladies! (Yeah!) Does that painting match the carpet? (Hell yeah!) Then just take it! (Take it!) Take it! (Take it!) Trust your inner gut!

Baby got back!

[Nuevo Estilo, Miles Redd, Gary Hutton, Alex Katz, Marilyn Minter, Robert Motherwell, Pamplemousse, Elle Decor, OWI]

Express Yourself

Sorry for the short posts of late, but I've been super busy with house guests and birthdays. In other words, I've been having a little bit way too much fun... I do love summer! Anyway, I know I'm behind the curve here, but I am completely obsessed with Mad Men. If you haven't seen it yet, well, watch it not only for the great acting and story lines, but also for the AMAZING set decor. It takes place at an advertising agency in 1960, so all the furniture is sleek Knoll and Herman Miller, Saarinen tulip chairs and Stiffel lamps, walls are covered in walnut paneling and grasscloth, all with punches of lime and red to lend character to the neutral furnishings. This isn't the best picture, but I think you can see what I mean:

mad men

The paintings in particular caught my eye, mostly because I am searching for the perfect something to fill a blank space on my wall. I never thought I'd say this, but I think I want an abstract expressionist painting for the wall behind my sofa... I really hope my old art profs are covering their eyes, because matching art to your furniture is so very naughty.

Nevertheless, Ebay tempts me to decorate away with their wide selection of vintage abstract paintings:

ab ex montage

Clockwise from top left: J. Van de Bogert, Nicola Naimo, Andre J. Grill, W. Nolte.

Although I had to hunt through pages and pages of paintings that said they were abstract but weren't (hello, people, a painting of driftwood and flowers is representational), I did manage to find quite a few gems. Of the paintings above, I really think the black and white is the best of the bunch, followed by the one with the white background.

Here are some more goodies by Bela de Kristo and I. Zevon:


I think lefty is more versatile, but with the right wall color that purple background could look fantastic. Really, though, I like both of these, but with starting bids at $450 they're too too rich for my poor poor blood.


These paintings by Martin Pearce and an unknown artist have earthy undertones that would work well against a pale aqua wall... which I no longer have.


I'm considering this 50's painting by Josef Jose but it's so hard to tell what the colors will read as in real life, and I suppose this is part of the danger of decorating with art. If you buy something because it's amazing and it speaks to you, then you'll always find a place for it. If you buy a piece to coordinate with something, then you run the same risks of color trauma that you do with ordinary fabrics, rugs and patterns.

Hey painting, if you want to live with me you better start talking.