Posts Tagged ‘Helen Frankenthaler’
Brief Bio, Part I – The Boring Stuff: Beatrice Joan Wilson met David Powell at Cooper Union in the 50s. She graduated with a degree in Fine Art, and he in Civil Engineering. After graduation David Powell joined the US Navy and was sent to Guam. While living on Guam the Powells took a vacation to Japan, and while there Beatrice fell in love with Oriental art and language. After four years in Guam the Powells returned to New York City, David got a graduate degree at NYU and Beatrice went to Columbia University to study Chinese language and Chinese art. Her painting above: New Diamond Restaurant.
Cooper Union has a credible program in the arts, its graduates include Jackson Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner, as well as Eva Hesse and Milton Glaser. At Cooper Union Beatrice had an experimental and abstract expressionist phrase. These paintings are still on the wall of her house, as seen in the YouTube video below. This nonsense passed as she later pursued techinically difficult art over simple form. Previously, her art went head to head with abstractionists Helen Frankenthaler & Clyfford Still. This time she’s battling a different critter. Who? Paul Doran…look at his works to see where this is going. Let his works speak for themselves. Look right. Look below.
PAUL DORAN: Here’s what the critics say about Paul Doran: “PAUL DORAN’S small, gritty paintings remind one of Arthur Dove upon first view. Small and seemingly clumsy, like Dove’s early forays into abstraction, Doran seems to be channeling early modernism…blah-help-me-blah…” (I dread to imagine Arthur Dove)
Or: “Paul Doran is most famous for a series of work that took a love of impasto effects to the level of extreme sport, burying the canvas in a rich heap of brashly swept oil-paint… ” (Brashly swept? Impasto effects? As they say in The Tube in London: Shut up, you fucking cow!)
Don’t even try the “you don’t get art” defense: Okay, if you’re a Doran fan, you might be thinking, “Ah hah, why respond to this idiot Caleb Powell. He’s dismissing before looking deeper. This ass just doesn’t understand art.” Fair enough. I’ll fire back: art’s my damned life.
When art critics champion dross the people who don’t understand art either turn off or ignore. The people who understand art are offended or sycophantic. Art becomes less important and accessible. Paul Doran’s existence is one of the many epitomes of this dynamic. Are there any Paul Doran admirers out there? Engage me, gaze at the two Dorans…I’ve given a first glance, a hard intuitive look, and a long meditation. Conclusion: Utter squeak.
VIDEO: I give a tour of my parents’ house. Lots of books & art. Pictured is my mother at Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan, 1967 (a year before she gave birth to me).
Clyfford Still vs. Beatrice Joan Wilson Powell: The above blend of color, caricature, and content, “Casino Monte Carlo and Hotel de Paris,” was painted by the artist known as Cove Loon, or 魏嵦毅, or B.J.W. Powell. In her second duel against abstract expressionists she has to battle, once again, with a yellow square reminiscent of the Frankenthaler in my previously blog: Helen Frankenthaler vs. Beatrice Joan Wilson Powell. What artist? Read on.
“Still makes the rest of us look academic.” – Jackson Pollock
If you think Jackson Pollock is the only overrated abstract expressionist whose blobs, scribbles, and splotches attracted gawkers willing to spend millions, think again. Enter Clyfford Still. Look at the yellow rectangle. Is it a question of sophistication? No. To the untrained eye it looks like nothing special, and to the trained eye it looks like crap.
To be prattled at by a moron is much more intolerable. Gee, Clyfford, screw off. You take yourself that seriously? Yeah, like you couldn’t have just kept on painting yellow if it weren’t for that damned frame’s edge. Are the synapses within your cerebellum and medulla not functioning? I know you’re dead, but crimeeeeeiny sakes, shut up! Your followers may claim that $$$ validate pseudo-greatness. Yes, it’s true, in November of 2011 Four of your “Clyfford Still” Paintings sold for over $114,000,000. Gadfuckingzooks! Danielle Steele sells millions of books, and while some of her fans may claim literary greatness, it don’t make ‘em right.
Clyfford Still vs. My Daughter’s Shirt: Ah hah! Perhaps you think that, in my rant, that I’ll claim the shirt on the right is more beautfiul than the Still on the left. I’m not. The Still actually has a certain aesthetic I find pleasing. Even the though shirt has more use as an article of clothing, and is almost as beautiful, if given a choice, I’d take the Still. Then I’d sell it to some rich liberal sycophant.
What to do? Though I understand why this Denver woman punched his painting, I refuse to resort to anything more than polemics. Thus, my problems are threefold, one: the proliferation of nonsensical visual art (for every Pollock, Doran, Hirst, Still, Frankenthaler etc. there are 1,000′s of aspirants). Two: those willing to spend gobs of $$$ on crap. Why? Has art’s commercial value trumped its emotional and intellectual value? Three: Artists who have more important or worthy visions garner less attention. Once again, I ask, what would you prefer to look at, “Yellow” or “Au Café de la Place”?
This post has four pictures, two of them are painted by Helen Frankenthaler, an abstract expressionist who achieved no small amount of attention. She passed away on December 27, 2011. And here are two self-explanatory examples of her art, which I’ll call ”Blue” & “Yellow.” Pleasant, indeed, but worthy of greatness? The paintings above and below are the work of one of her unknown contempories, Beatrice Joan Wilson Powell, aka Cove Loon, aka Mom. Frankenthaler achieved fame and attention, yet comes from a period that I simply do not get. She counts artists such as Jackson Pollock among her influences. This is problematic, Pollock is not great. Certainly, he is among the many of her contemporaries that have changed & influenced art, but I would argue that they have not advanced art. They’ve lowered the aesthetic bar, added elements that take away from pursuits of beauty and meaning and replaced them with simplicity. Often I think the art world has gone nuts, and rewarded people not on skill or talent or aesthetic but on random chance and marketing. Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Paul Doran, Arshile Gorky, Damien Hirst, Lee Krasner, Dale Malner, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Andy Warhol, et al somehow managed to replicate pop culture or fill a niche or fund bizarre projects as they spread globs of paint on canvas or as they manufactured junk into a visual display; their art is craft or promotion. Am I an unsophisticated lout who has no appreciation of art? That usually is a defense artistes wage against detractors, fair enough, but I have grown up amidst art, am familiar with the art historians, and think that for an artist to be great, one of the criteria is that they must have talent.
As far as Frankenthaler’s art, intuitively and with a further and deeper glance, I do not see why her paintings have value. Her art does not interest me, I pass it by and look for something else.
This brings me to my mother, and do not think I imply that she should be famous. Her talent is worthy of greatness, but her output, ambition, drive, complacency et al have hindered her overall body of work. She is exactly where she should be in the art world, someone who is appreciated by family and friends. Nevertheless, take a look at the art within this post. What would you rather have on your wall?