Monday, February 22, 2010

When Sorrow Steals Our Words, And Then Our Lives

My dear brother,

Thanks for your kind letter and for the 50-franc note it contained. I’d really like to write to you about many things, but I sense the pointlessness of it. I hope that you’ll have found those gentlemen favourably disposed towards you. You didn’t need to reassure me as to the state of peace of your household. I believe I’ve seen the good as much as the other side. And besides, am so much in agreement that raising a kid in a fourth floor apartment is hard labour, as much for you as for Jo. Since that’s going well, which is the main thing, should I go on about things of lesser importance? My word, there’s probably a long way to go before there’s a chance of talking business with more rested minds. That’s the only thing I can say at the moment, and that for my part I realized it with a certain horror, I haven’t yet hidden it, but that really is all.

The other painters, whatever they think about it, instinctively keep their distance from discussions on current trade. Ah well, really we can only make our paintings speak. But however, my dear brother, there’s this that I’ve always told you, and I tell you again once more with all the gravity that can be imparted by the efforts of thought assiduously fixed on trying to do as well as one can – I tell you again that I’ll always consider that you’re something other than a simple dealer in Corots, that through my intermediacy you have your part in the very production of certain canvases, which even in calamity retain their calm. For that’s where we are, and that’s all, or at least the main thing I can have to tell you in a moment of relative crisis. In a moment when things are very tense between dealers in paintings – by dead artists – and living artists.

Ah well, I risk my life for my own work and my reason has half foundered in it – very well – but you’re not one of the dealers in men; as far as I know and can judge I think you really act with humanity, but what can you do

Vincent van Gogh last (unfinished) letter to his brother, Theo (Auvers-sur-Oise, Wednesday, 23 July 1890)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Those Places That Demand We Reinvent Ourselves

Louis Stettner - Manhattan from the Promenade, Brooklyn, New York, 1954

Skepticism is the sadism of embittered souls.

Emile M. Cioran

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Don't Care What You Think - I'm Hanging On To It

Barbara Kruger - Untitled (You are a very special person), date unknown

Doubt tempers belief with sanity.

Barbara Kruger

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Was A Teenage Messiah And I'll Cry If I Want To

John Heartfield - Das Kreuz was noch nicht schwer genug, 1933

Se questo è un uomo

Voi che vivete sicuri
Nelle vostre tiepide case,
Voi che tovate tornando a sera
Il cibo caldo e visi amici:

Considerate se questo è un uomo
Che lavora nel fango
Che non conosce pace
Che lotta per mezzo pane
Che muore per un sì o per un no.
Considerate se questa è una donna,
Senza capelli e senza nome
Senza più forza di ricordare
Vuoti gli occhi e freddo il grembo
Come una rana d'inverno.

Meditate che questo è stato:
Vi comando queste parole.
Scolpitele nel vostro cuore
Stando in casa andando per via,
Coricandovi alzandovi;
Ripetetelele ai vostri figli.

O vi si sfaccia la casa,
La malattia vi impedisca,
I vostri nati torcano il viso da voi.

Primo Levi

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More Cities Of The Night And Their Webs Of Glitter

Jon Cattapan - Grey Nocturne (The Pool), 1996

What kind of viewpoint is proposed by the cityscape/datascape paintings? The street has been left behind; the scale is broader and more encompassing. Consistently, the point of view is high - the city is a sweeping vista glimpsed through the window of a plane. The viewer is a traveller, a tiny part of the global traffic of experiences, products and ideas.

It is a point of view that compresses space and stretches form. ... [Overlapping] skyscrapers are stacked across the canvas like a field of crystalline stalagmites. The vertical format of the works, along with a high horizon and diagonal perspectival projection, extends the forms up the canvas. This visual effect emphasises the supra-human scale of the city, as does the evacuation of the human figure from most of the paintings. But viewpoint and perspective also establish a particular urban focus: this is downtown, the corporate and administrative heart of the metropolis, housed in skyscrapers. This is an urbanism emblematic of the postmodern society's supplanting of modernism's 'smokestack' economy - a 'post-industrial' society, a 'consumer society, media society, information society, electronic society'.

Chris McCauliffe (from Jon Cattapan: Possible Histories)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

At Last, The World Has Started Speaking Back To Us

Jenny Holzer - Truisms ("Survival"), 1983-5

The task of philosophical presentation is to come with speech to help speech, so that, in speech, speech itself does not remain presupposed but instead comes to speech.

Giorgio Agamben (from The Thing Itself)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Strange Alignments Of The Visible And The Invisible

Candida Höfer - Masonic Temple Philadelphia I, 2007

The emotion of hoping expands out of itself, makes people wider instead of narrower; insatiable, it wants to know what makes people purposeful on the inside and what might be allied with them on the outside.

Ernst Bloch (The Principle of Hope, 1959)