Thursday, May 31, 2007

similarities of being an artist and a scientist

Excerpt from "The soul of man under Socialism"
by Oscar Wilde

A fresh mode of Beauty is absolutely distasteful to them [public], and whenever it appears they get so angry and bewildered that they always use two stupid expressions - one is that the work of art is grossly unintelligible; the other, that the work of art is grossly immoral. What they mean by these words seems to me to be this. When they say a work is grossly unintelligible, they mean that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is new; when they describe a work as grossly immoral, they mean that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is true. The former expression has reference to style; the latter to subject-matter. But they probably use the words very vaguely, as an ordinary mob will use ready-made paving-stones. […]
Perhaps, however, I have wronged the public in limiting them to such words as "immoral," "unintelligible," "exotic," and "unhealthy." There is one other word that they use. That word is "morbid." They do not use it often. The meaning of the word is so simple that they are afraid of using it. Still, they use it sometimes, and, now and then, one comes across it in popular newspapers. It is, of course, a ridiculous word to apply to a work of art. For what is morbidity but a mood of emotion or a mode of thought that one cannot express? The public are all morbid, because they never find expression for anything. The artist is never morbid. He expresses everything. He stands outside his subject, and through its medium produces incomparable and artistic effects. To call an artist morbid because he deals with morbidity as his subject-matter is as silly as if one called Shakespeare mad because he wrote King Lear.
Within the last few years two other adjectives, it may be mentioned, have been added to the very limited vocabulary of art abuse that is at the disposal of the public. One is the word "unhealthy," the other is the word "exotic." The latter merely expresses the rage of the momentary mushroom against the immortal, entrancing, and exquisitely lovely orchid. It is a tribute, but a tribute of no importance. The word "unhealthy," however, admits of analysis. It is a rather interesting word. In fact, it is so interesting that the people who use it do not know what it means.
What does it mean? […] In fine, a healthy work of art is one that has both perfection and personality. Of course, form and substance cannot be separated in a work of art; they are always one. But for purposes of analysis, and setting the wholeness of aesthetic impression aside for a moment, we can intellectually so separate them. An unhealthy work of art, on the other hand, is a work whose style is obvious, old-fashioned, and common, and whose subject is deliberately chosen, not because the artist has any pleasure in it, but because he thinks that the public will pay him for it. In fact, the popular novel that the public calls healthy is always a thoroughly unhealthy production; and what the public call an unhealthy novel is always a beautiful and healthy work of art.

Monday, May 28, 2007

From NY Times

Adam and Eve in the Land of the Dinosaurs
Published: May 24, 2007

[...] For here at the $27 million Creation Museum, which opens on May 28 (just a short drive from the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport), this pastoral scene is a glimpse of the world just after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, in which dinosaurs are still apparently as herbivorous as humans, and all are enjoying a little calm in the days after the fall.

It also serves as a vivid introduction to the sheer weirdness and daring of this museum created by the Answers in Genesis ministry that combines displays of extraordinary nautilus shell fossils and biblical tableaus, celebrations of natural wonders and allusions to human sin. Evolution gets its continual comeuppance, while biblical revelations are treated as gospel.

Outside the museum scientists may assert that the universe is billions of years old, that fossils are the remains of animals living hundreds of millions of years ago, and that life’s diversity is the result of evolution by natural selection. But inside the museum the Earth is barely 6,000 years old, dinosaurs were created on the sixth day, and Jesus is the savior who will one day repair the trauma of man’s fall. [...]

Sunday, May 20, 2007

V6.P5. Last few days in NY and the way back home...

Let's start with the Metropolitan Museum.
As anything else in NY, it was HUGE. so huge that it diverts the attention from details to the quantity of art pieces you have covered. Hence, despite its well-deserved fame, I found the Met very hard to enjoy as a museum-lover. It was heart breaking no miss so much, but it was also incomprehensively crowded and chaotic.
Some of the paintings I have seen, however, were rather moving. So as to be descriptive of the diversity and overwhelming variety, I will pick and upload those paintings that I really enjoyed seeing and you'll notice how confusing one might get when there is so much dissipation in style as well as period.
(of course you can never blame a museum for being too big or having too large a collection, and I also know that the Met is not the one and only museum that is so huge and overwhelming, but this experience generally made me feel scared of going to Italy, which I will have to do for the first time this month!) Anyway, I ended up blaming myself for just having a day to spend here (it is closed on Mondays) and to compensate I will upload ("applaud" sounds very similar doesn't it, and fits my mood too...) some more of it:

then of course there was the barcelona exhibition that I could not miss: "Barcelona and Modernity: Gaudí to Dalí" presents Barcelona as a booming industrial city with conflicting politics and revolutionary works of art, architecture, and design. To explore the relationships among the visual arts, broader cultural activity, and political events of the era, the exhibition is organized in nine thematic sections, beginning with the origins of the Catalan Renaissance. The remaining sections focus on the major artistic movements that followed: Modernisme, Noucentisme, and other avant-garde idioms such as Surrealism, with a final section on works of art influenced by the Spanish Civil War."
To see so many Spanish artists (including Gaudi, Miro, Dali, Piccasso) and so many pieces of art work from Barcelona was nonetheless brought me into the revelation that I was indeed feeling very strongly about this city (although being them only twice and both for limited periods of time), and cherished the dream of living/being there.

And finally I should also mention the exhibition on Venice and the Islamic World thanks to which I have finally seen the Bellini for all of us who studied primary school in Turkey. :)

such was my Sunday (also including a traffic jam and a dinner at Carmite which seem typical in NYC) and the next few days, I ended up doing less impressive things like sitting around the central park, exploring some of queens, and writing a bit of my legitimacy paper for the Amsterdam Conference. At the end of the day, I had my bag stolen with my laptop (and whatever what not) in it, and hence I will be at a conference that I have not paper for. Sad, I know. "You lose you learn..."

Sunday, May 13, 2007


It was a busy day and although my plans are failing these days, I always doing some great things. So, I didn't manage to ride a horse in Central Park, as to find out how to get to somewhere and get the service takes more than doing it in this busy a city. Nor could I meet Sander at Met(ropolitan Museum of Art) as we have planned. (I really am terrible at organising appointments without having my mobile around).
But I had a fabulous day anyhow.

Step 1: The Cloisters
To put it very shortly
- It's located on four acres overlooking the Hudson River in northern Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park,
- It's devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe,
- It incorporates elements from five medieval French cloisters, three cloisters that are reconstructed so as to feature gardens planted according to horticultural information found in medieval treatises and poetry, garden documents and herbals, and medieval works of art, such as tapestries, stained-glass windows, and column capitals. These gardens by themselves would be enough to make my day.
- It has a unicorn tapestries room (of seven south Netherlandish tapestries depicting "The Hunt of the Unicorn" - a must-see!),
- It has the first circumcision of christ, and death of Mary scenes that I've seen (both from Germany).
- It also has some wonderful early dutch wood paintings, in a far better condition than any other I have seen in the Netherlands.

I dont know how exactly they "got" these buildings, and carried over here, but I am surprised to hear that Rockefeller was thoughtful enough to buy the lands across the river as well, so as to secure the view from the museum to the otherside.

Step 2: Guggenheim Museum
This magnificent building by Frank Lloyd Wright was a response to Hilla Rebay, the art advisor to Solomon R. Guggenheim, asking the architect to design a new building to house Guggenheim's four-year-old Museum of Non-Objective Painting. She wrote: "I need a fighter, a lover of space, an agitator, a tester and a wise man... I want a temple of spirit, a monument!"

If you read the mission statement of the museum, you'll see that they are interested in partnerships, too.
Moreover, I've seen my first Mogliani, I tried to skip as many Kandinsky paintings as possible (NY is full of them!) and focus on paintings of Gaugin or on a few paintings that made me slightly more interested in the works of Chagall, Seurat, Manet and (as I would like to call her) Camille, whose lifestyles and times I've always been attracted to.

But the most interesting, the most attractive and life-changing of all was the Archadia and Anarchy Exhibition on divisionism and neo-impressionism. As you can see there were things interesting for me:

but it was not only because I have found certain surprising links between these Italian movements and the Pre-Raphaelites, but also because (oh ok. I shouldn't write this but simply upload some of these pictures here and you will understand exactly why).

If you click on them (I think/hope) you can see the information.
Otherwise trust me, I will write more about them once I find out!

And oh! I also came across someone I didn't expect at all: Jan Toroop this time as a pointilist, left-wing divisionist!

Step 3: Beethoven 9th from the NY Philharmonic at the Lincoln Center

to make it even better :)))
Although I must admit that it was not the best of the best (as one for some reason expects from everything one comes across in NY, which after a while causes an accumulation of indifference if not frustration), I enjoyed it tremendously. The orchestra was rather good, the choir was all right and the soprano was simply unbearable. Although many parents and friends of those on the stage were heavily applauding, me and the gentleman I met after the show disagreed that it was worth clapping for half an hour. I trust his judgement better, as he has been living across the Lincoln Center and went to concerts regularly and told me (besides the fact that he was a rather "within-the-enterprise lawyer" with "against-the-enterprise ideas") that he's has heard much better gatherings of musicians. As I always say, one can always meet cool people simply by smoking outside of a conference, concert and the like...

At the end of the day I had a rather adventurous way back home and probably did a few not-so-smart-and/or-safe decisions, but hey, I'm home.
and because it has already passed 4 am, that's all for now. tomorrow is the met day!

Friday, May 11, 2007

V6.P3. MoMA

To my surprise, visiting MoMA (more) was not too exciting. It was big, it had a bit of everything (though, not necessarily the best of eveything) and therefore it was rather easy to get lost in. I think the sheer number of good quality art work assembled in this museum is the reason why it is found so impressive. But to a visitor, it is a little eclectic. All those tremendous installations I was dreaming of simply weren't there (other than one), the audiotour was not inspiring at all (although it was better than the Frick Collection's,which simply claimed that each painting was the best of the best, and how lovely the painting is etc...), and some of the paintings of Dali and Magritte that I would really like to see were sent to exhibitions.

Yet, I'm glad to have been there. Here are some highlights:

"This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big."
- van Gogh (about the Starry Night)

Gustav Klimt.Hope, II. 1907-08. Oil, gold, and platinum on canvas

"A pregnant woman bows her head and closes her eyes, as if praying for the safety of her child. Peeping out from behind her stomach is a death's head, sign of the danger she faces. At her feet, three women with bowed heads raise their hands, presumably also in prayer—although their solemnity might also imply mourning, as if they foresaw the child's fate.

Why, then, the painting's title? Although Klimt himself called this work Vision, he had called an earlier, related painting of a pregnant woman Hope. By association with the earlier work, this one has become known as Hope, II. There is, however, a richness here to balance the women's gravity."

Georges-Pierre Seurat. Port-en-Bessin, Entrance to the Harbor. 1888. Oil on canvas

Frida Kahlo. Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair. 1940. Oil on canvas
Kahlo painted Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair shortly after she divorced her unfaithful husband, the artist Diego Rivera. As a painter of many self- portraits, she had often shown herself wearing a Mexican woman's traditional dresses and flowing hair; now, in renunciation of Rivera, she painted herself short haired and in a man's shirt, shoes, and oversized suit (presumably her former husband's).

Kahlo knew adventurous European and American art, and her own work was embraced by the Surrealists, whose leader, André Breton, described it as "a ribbon around a bomb." But her stylistic inspirations were chiefly Mexican, especially nineteenth-century religious painting, and she would say, "I do not know if my paintings are Surrealist or not, but I do know that they are the most frank expression of myself."

René Magritte. The Lovers. 1928. Oil on canvas, 21 3/8 x 28 7/8" (54 x 73.4 cm).

Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Paris, June-July 1907. Oil on canvas
"The result of months of preparation and revision, this painting revolutionized the art world when first seen in Picasso's studio. Its monumental size underscored the shocking incoherence resulting from the outright sabotage of conventional representation. Picasso drew on sources as diverse as Iberian sculpture, African tribal masks, and El Greco's painting to make this startling composition. In the preparatory studies, the figure at left was a sailor entering a brothel. Picasso, wanting no anecdotal detail to interfere with the sheer impact of the work, decided to eliminate it in the final painting. The only remaining allusion to the brothel lies in the title: Avignon was a street in Barcelona famed for its brothel."

Giorgio de Chirico. Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure). Paris, early 1914. Oil on canvas.

V6.P2. Classic Art in New York - The Frick Collection

"The Frick Collection is housed in the former residence of Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), the Pittsburgh coke-and-steel industrialist. The building, erected in 1913-14, was designed by the American architect Thomas Hastings in a style reminiscent of European domestic architecture of the eighteenth century.

Mr. Frick bequeathed the residence and the works of art he had collected over a period of forty years to the Board of Trustees, permitting it to add to his collection (almost a third of the paintings were acquired since his death) and to make it a center for the study of art and related subjects. After alterations and extensions were made to the building by John Russell Pope, it was opened to the public in 1935. A further extension, including a reception hall, exhibition galleries on a lower floor, and a garden, was completed in 1977."

these paintings never leave the building (which is a marvelous piece of art itself), so I feel lucky to have seen them, thanks to Rita, a wonderful person I met in the CSD conference. to check if you missed anything click here, and select your interest. You can also try the virtual tour.

I have already seen the Stubbs exhibition (or at least a major part of it) in London (and I was lucky enough to see my fave Stubbs paintings of all times: Whistlejacket), so I simply walked through the rooms to figure what was bothering me with his paintings. First of all I dislike his horses, he depicts them in a very humanised, restricted context, but his was too easy. I finally figured that it was his depiction of the sublime (in all those "horse being eaten by a lion" paintings) as a response the Burke's definition of the term that reduced my appreciation of him. Hence, I will see what I can do about it when I'm in London next time.

before I go and indulge myself to even more art, here is a wonderful painting -of saint francis whom I deeply appreciate- I looked at in amazement for minutes:
Bellini's St. Francis in the Desert from 1480

Saturday, May 05, 2007

V6.P1. New York - New Jersey

The last three years, I spent the 4th of May on three different cities, and (if I'm not mistaken) three different continents.
Looking back, they were three incredible years of my life that changed and shaped me tremendously. the last one was rather painful at the beginning but it didnt end being self-destructive, although both psychologically (several times) and physically (twice) it got very close. I'm glad that period is over. It left its marks which will certainly heal, but in a very long time.

This year I am in New York City. I've a number of observations on NYC tht I want to write about, but as I've spent most of my week in the basement of the UN building I will wait till I look around a little more and try to figure out what is so impressive about it. So far it left me indifferent, which is rare between me and cities of this size and this peculiar a character. Today I was stuck with the idea that the sunshine in this city reminds me of the "American Dream": It is up there somewhere, but in the shadow of all the skyscrapers it is almost impossible to reach.

It is hectic, so much so that there is no time for details, so competitive that there is no space to feel depressed or sick, of such an enormous scale that it is very hard to feel of any significance, so diverse that there is no way of tracing back things to their origins and peculiar histories.

Despite the looooong way I've to make every morning and night, I'm happy to be staying in New Jersey. It's great to look at midtown Manhattan from across the Hudson River, particularly when there is a full moong reflecting over the river...

I will leave it to that for now. (I'm sure Sander is posting more stuff already)

ps. I know I skipped V.5. (the Barcelona trip).