Arguments Worth Having

Art = Absurdity = Provocation = Contemplation = Wisdom = Love

Paul Doran vs. Beatrice Joan Wilson Powell

with 7 comments

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).

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7 Responses

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  1. Corrections, comments, and clarifications from david Powell.

    1. Beatrice and David were married in May of 1957.

    1. David received a graduate degree from New York University in 1964, after returning from Guam in 1960.

    2. The painting of the New Diamond restaurant was done in Vancouver, Canada in the mid-1970s.

    3. The photograph of Beatrice was taken at Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan in May of 1967.

    4. Compared to Eva Hesse’s art (?), Paul Doran’s art (?) is comparable to the works of DaVinci, Reubens, Bosch, Bruegel, Monet, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, et. al.

    David Powell

    March 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm

  2. Thx, corrected!

    Caleb Powell

    March 25, 2012 at 11:16 am

  3. Re; Last Post-
    ”This ass just doesn’t understand art.” You said it. You clearly can’t be expected to understand the level of sophistication involved in this work. Beatrice’s illustration is just that; an illustration. I’m sure that these images are copyright of a gallery and it is extremely immature to post uninformed derogatory comments. I’m shocked to see that you are an adult, it sounded to me like the inane ramblings of a kid who didn’t get into art school. It’s hardly informed or even intelligent criticism ie. it makes you look stupid. I’d delete the post and channel your energy into something else, not art obviously.

    DL

    March 31, 2012 at 5:29 am

  4. DL –

    What I said = Doran fans unable to articulate an argument, simply claiming they are sophisticated.

    I’ve never had any ambition to be a visual artist.

    Thanks for helping me illustrate my points.

    Caleb Powell

    April 11, 2012 at 5:44 am

  5. […] that drives successful artists to create until completion. In previous posts my mother has taken on Paul Doran, Helen Frankenthaler, and Clyfford Still, and her technique has handily defeated them. However, […]

  6. […] Beatrice Joan Wilson Powell vs. Paul Doran  Winner – Powell […]

  7. […] not really sure what else. I’m wont to taunt her admirers, as done previously regarding Paul Doran, Helen Frankenthaler, Tracey Emin, and  Clyfford Still. Their ilk produces scholck and lacks […]


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