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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Superflat in the Back Bay

I was considering doing another review of another kitsch art book, but I can't do it now because I've been hanging out in Boston's art museums and galleries for a week, and off-brand Frazetta just can't bear the comparison. One thing about galleries: in the South they assume you're broke until you indicate otherwise, and they're fine with that. Places in Boston, though, are terribly huffy about all these nonpaying looky-loos. I would have paid a reasonable admission fee to see (and sometimes resee) the art, so perhaps they should switch to a ticket-price-refundable-with-purchase-of-art model.

Miro gets closer to my idea of the Fantastic than more representational fantasy art does. He's joined Klee and Kandinsky in the first rank of my fave nonrepresentational artists.

New respect for Salvador Dali. His overexposed famous works are by no means the whole story; I've now seen a slew of his little funky drawings that gave me fresh appreciation for his skills and imagination. I've failed to find the image I want online, but the Martin Lawrence Gallery (Actually fairly friendly about the whole looky-loo thing) had a small etching or something on a Biblical theme in which little stick figures acted before soft, lovely colored background... then on closer inspection the background revealed itself to be towering angels looming over the action, some in the foreground rather than the background as a first glance suggested. A remarkable shift of perception, but also an intriguing theological statement.

Cubism works better for me live than in reproduction, and Picasso's cubism especially. He did for portraiture what Charlie Parker did for pretty tunes.

Also new respect for Warhol. I never noticed this before, but in some of his silkscreens he's hand-drawn a tracery of lines over the figures in his shaky hand. I've always liked his sketches of shoes and whatnot, and when he incorporates it into his silkscreens it really makes the images pop. So to speak.

Scroll down here till you get to "Jellyfish Eyes - Black 4" and you'll see my favorite of the images I saw that were made within my lifetime. What isn't visible at this resolution is the way each pupil has many rings of color, pupils within pupils, or multiple rings of coronas around an almost microscopic core pupil.

Oceanic art is inspiring to me in a way I'm not sure I can articulate. Currently a lot of the dreamier nerds out there are terribly excited about Transhumanism; Oceanic peoples took such polymorphing of the body for granted, at least at a symbolic level. I recall being hypnotized by the Oceanic collection at the museum in Birmingham, Alabama as well.

Cornelia Parker's Hanging Fire (Suspected Arson) was my other favorite contemporary art discovery. A sort of mobile made of blackened burnt wood, suspended by thin lines tied to rough nails and pushpins in the wood. It looked like the fruit of a Clive Barker/Katsuhiro Otomo collaboration.

Also got to see some Nan Goldin and Cindy Sherman photography. They both seem so necessary and so close to the truth while being so different in their approaches. Goldin is pure documentary, while Sherman is pure artifice, yet they both understand so much about our era.

Other delightful things about our trip to The Back Bay:

Meeting and dining with Laurie's friends (hello!) I hope to see and hear more from all. (For those who came in late: "Laurie" is my online to-protect-the-innocent pseudonym for my wife.)

Boston, or at least the Back Bay, is so pedestrian-friendly that it's driver-unfriendly. It completely inverts the Southern car culture thing where the attitude is "Why are you using the legs you were born with when you could be using a loud stinky expensive deathtrap? What's wrong with you?" In the Back Bay you can just cold stop in the street in order to focus in the conversation you're having with a fellow stroller, and all that the cars you're blocking can do is fume and honk. You could probably lie down on the nearest vibrating hood and take a nap if you chose, such is the cultural deference giving to pedestrians. My Wife's heedless jaywalking and complete disregard for driver's right-of-way finally makes sense to me. I've gotten a lot more arrogant about crossing the street.

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