robert-hughes

We watched Notting Hill again tonight. I don’t care who you are, if the above scene doesn’t tear you apart from the inside, you must be dead on the inside. Each time I see Julia Roberts struggle to keep her composure during the famous line, it becomes more powerful.

Most of us have been there. Most of us have at one point or another during our lives lowered our guard, and exposed ourselves completely to another. It’s scary, powerful stuff.

And just so you know, I often say “whoops a daisies”, but I’m allowed, because I’m English. I have the accent and everything.

7

7 years.

7 years of creativity.

7 years of clever writing.

7 years of great humor.

7 years of memorable characters.

7 years of memorable music.

7 years of great ideas.

7 years of busting.

7 years of “What'cha Doin’?”

7 years of OWCA.

7 years of Inators.

7 years of Summer. A fun and enjoyable Summer.

7 years of a great show created by two of the greatest animation minds as well as a team of great people. 

7 years of Phineas and Ferb

Happy 7th Anniversary Phineas and Ferb. 

“Kenneth Noland’s paintings were based on the simplest patterns, target, chevron and stripe. In the best of his target paintings, like Song, he could set a splashy grey rim whirling around concentric circles of red, black and blue with an airy energy that few American painters could equal. Like gigantic watercolours his targets and chevrons bloom and pulsate with light; they offer a pure, uncluttered hedonism to the eye.”

- The Shock Of The New, Robert Hughes

The basic project of art is always to make the world whole and comprehensible, to restore it to us in all its glory and its occasional nastiness, not through argument but through feeling, and then to close the gap between you and everything that is not you, and in this way pass from feeling to meaning. It’s not something that committees can do. It’s not a task achieved by groups or by movements. It’s done by individuals, each person mediating in some way between a sense of history and an experience of the world.
And he was a pure critic: both his memoirs and his essays on cities came most alive when he was laying into someone, or pouring praise on something, explaining why one fountain in Rome is more beautiful than another, or why someone he met in the course of life was not beautiful at all. The critics’ work was his work—not disclosing, but describing, fixing, defending, denouncing.
—  Adam Gopnik remembers the art critic Robert Hughes, who died this week. Click-through to continue reading: http://nyr.kr/S0ZI5d

Vladimir Tatlin, Counter-Corner Relief, 1915. 

Tatlin […] regarded the still-life (which Picasso’s sculptures generally were) as a genre tainted by bourgeois conventions. Still-life, after all, was the chief image of private property in Western art. To make ‘socialist’ art, one must stop depicting ownable things: in short, go abstract. (Tatlin would have considered today’s art market nothing less than an atrocity.) 

(Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New, p.89.) 

Like the Brontës and Victorian literature? Summer reading recommendations:

Originally given to me by my Brontë professor. Thanks!

- If you like stories with sinister villains, you may like Charles Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend, which also features clever disguises, ladies in distress, and bad sewer systems.

- If you like stories with creepy children, you may like Robert Hughes’ A High Wind in Jamaica, which also features wild storms, incompetent pirates, and a stabbing.

- If you like stories with lots of walking, you may like Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d'Urbervilles, which also features paganism, illegitimate pregnancy, and Stonehenge.

- If you like stories with strong female characters, you may like Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters, which also features estranged fathers, secret affairs, and an oppressive stepmother.

- If you like stories portraying Victorian psychology and its impact on women, you may like Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, which also features a proudly plain heroine, mysterious doubles, and an eccentric Count who wears white mice in his clothes.

- If you like stories with mysterious doubles, you may like Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Master of Ballantrae, which also features mental derangement, sibling rivalry, and pirates.

- If you like stories portraying gothic entrapment, you may like Sheridan Le Fanu’s Uncle Silas, which also features religious cultists, a one-legged villain and an oppressive uncle who takes a great deal of opium.

- If you like stories with opium trips, you may like Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, which also features a stolen Indian diamond, multiple narrators, a detective story, and quicksand.

- If you like stories of women in oppressive foreign locales, you may like George Eliot’s Middlemarch, which also features a sickly husband, a dashing doctor, and scheming relatives.

Wake of the Ferry II, 1907, John Sloan

’…the beautifully composed The Wake of the Ferry. Black stanchions and a tilted line of roof frame the cold blue evening sea from the stern of the Staten Island Ferry, as the blue in Whistler’s Thames was framed by Battersea Bridge. Daringly, Sloan counterposed the dark mass of the lone woman gazing astern against an open, swiftly brushed diamond pattern of the safety rail running out to the left, giving both balance and a sense of exposure: you see the wet light on the steel deck and feel the cold.’

- from American Visions, Robert Hughes

Pablo PIcasso: Guernica (1937) 137.4" x 305.5", oil

Robert Hughes:

Picasso’s Guernica, 1937 is the last of the line of formal images of battle and suffering that runs from Uccello’s Rout of San Romano through Tintoretto to Rubens, and thence to Goya’s Third of May and Delacroix’s Massacre at Chios. It was inspired by an act of war, the bombing of a Basque town during the Spanish Civil War. The destruction of Guernica was carried out by German aircraft, manned by German pilots, as the request of the Spanish Nationalist commander, General Emilio Mola. Because the Republican government of Spain had granted autonomy to the Basques, Guernica was the capital city of an independent republic. Its razing was taken up by the world press, beginning with The Times in London, as the arch-symbol of Fascist barbarity. Thus Picasso’s painting shared an exemplary fame of the event, becoming as well known a memorial of catastrophe as Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade had been eighty years before.

Guernica is the most powerful invective against violence in modern art, but it was not wholly inspired by the war: its motifs– the weeping woman, the horse, the bull– had been running through Picasso’s work for years before Guernica brought them together. In the painting they become receptacles for extreme sensation– John Berger has remarked, Picasso could imagine more suffering in a horse’s head than Rubens normally put into a whole Crucifixion. The spike tongues, the rolling eyes, the frantic splayed toes and fingers, the necks arched in spasm: these would be unendurable if their tension were not braced against the broken, but visible, order of the painting. It is like a battle sarcophagus, cracked and riven, but still just recognizable as a messenger from the ancient world– the world of ideal bodies and articulate muscular energy, working in flat carved stone space. As a propaganda picture, Guernica did not need to be a specific political statement. The mass media supplied the agreement by which it became one, and Picasso knew exactly how and where to insert his painting into that context– through the Spanish pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition, where it was shown in 1937 as a virtually official utterance by the Republican government of Spain. Seen detached from its social context, if such a way of seeing were either possible or desirable (in Picasso’s view it would not have been, but there are still formalists who disagree), it is a general mediation on suffering, and its symbols are archaic, not historical: gored bull and speared horse (the Spanish Republic); the bull (Franco) towering over the bereaved, shrieking woman; the paraphernalia of pre-modernist images like the broken sword, the surviving flower, and the dove. Apart from the late Cubist style, the only specifically modern elements in Guernica are the Mithraic eye of electric light, and the suggestion that the horse’s body is made of parallel lines of newsprint, like the newspaper in Picasso’s collages a quarter of a century before. Otherwise its heroic abstraction and monumentalized pain hardly seem to belong to the time of photography and Henkel 51s. Yet they do: and Picasso’s most effective way of locating them in that time was to paint Guernica entirely in black and white, and gray, so that despite its huge size it retains something of the grainy, ephemeral look one associates with the front page of a newspaper.

Guernica was the last great history painting. It was also the last modern painting of major importance that took its subject from politics with the intention of changing the way large numbers of people thought and felt about power.

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