(Sorry: I was all out of images, so I grabbed an old canvas of mine for a background and photographed some coins on top of it. No reason. I just wanted to emphasize that it has nothing to do with the picture book of the title or with any of the names or works referenced below, except insofar as it is an artistic masterpiece.)
Dear ship log,
Marcel Duchamp gave one of his artworks the title "To Be Looked at (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour". This fact came to my mind while I was paging through a book of classic paintings that I checked out from the library. Every page featured a work by a different artist; I looked at each one, but I was flipping the pages rapidly, like people do when they browse through magazines in the beauty salon. Splendor after splendor, and I'm giving them no more than a glance: less than a second of my time. This is not normally how I take in art; but I happened to be searching for a specific work by a specific artist, so I was moving hastily. Then certain pictures along the way would grab my attention and I would pause and look deeper while thinking about them, and I'd sometimes even read the brief text that was provided by the editors. The Duchamp work that was chosen to represent his whole life's oeuvre, by the way, was not the one I mentioned above (that work came to mind because of the droll note about time in its title) but stupidly one of his readymades. That frustrated me; and what they wrote about his life and works annoyed me. The book was badly done, but I don't want to waste my time complaining; I'd rather let my thoughts wander...
Why don't I visit an actual, physical museum, by the way? I should go visit an actual, physical museum sometime. How about the day after tomorrow? OK, let's synchronize our watches and meet there. How will I know you? My face will be obscured by a lime-green fruit. Let's rendezvous at The Dream of Henri Rousseau. But what if we get lost?—I don't think our local museum has any Rousseaus. Then let's move to New York; I have heard that the sepulcher and the white linen have yielded me up, and that I am alive there. (Yet can a declining Empire enter the second time into creative renaissance, and its States re-become the greatest poem? See John 3:4 and the preface to Whitman's 1855 Leaves of Grass, second paragraph. See also MoMA: Make omerika Marvel Again.)
Visual art in the Age of the Internet. What is the place of paintings nowadays? I wish I could see the new artworks that the young fresh artists are creating. Do people even exhibit their works anymore? Do people even paint, or do they only paw touchscreens? Remember the Armory Show of 1913, the International Exhibition of Modern Art? One reason I want to become cash-rich is so that I can buy exquisite paintings from starving artists, and make those artists cash-rich in turn. For I know the best stuff: I have the best eye, best judgment, best taste. But why would I say such a thing – isn't beauty too subjective of a notion to be spoken of in this way? Yes, but that's OK. There's nothing immoral about boasting that your opinion is superior.
But what about the way that people scroll through feeds of artworks on the Internet, and a mural that's 3.49 meters tall and 7.76 meters wide I.P.R. (= "in physical reality") appears relatively the same dimensions on the screen as a postage stamp? The homogenization of automatic image resizing.
And do people fall in love with paintings anymore, or is everything held on the same level as a retail store's ad pics?
Do people think that Paul Cézanne is boring? I recently heard someone in an interview speak as if there's a consensus among all fashionable museumgoers that Cézanne is passé. But I love Paul Cézanne. I don't have to go into detail explaining what is alluring in his works; I simply find myself fascinated by him consistently, and for many reasons.
Also [name removed]: he's very popular among the suburbanites where I live, who're the type of people that don't care much for art; I get the feeling that they like [name removed] because he soothes them, and he's easy for them to ignore; they think of his work as a blurry decoration that patiently, humbly, dutifully remains in the background. But this is not how I think of [name removed]; my heart opens to his paintings. Just because narrow-minded people endorse him for shallow reasons doesn't make him or his work any less wonderful.
But even if your art book only allows one single painting per artist, I say that Henri Matisse deserves many more pages of material to be reproduced: you should break your editorial rule for this fine soul. He's a favorite of mine.
I also like Paul Klee a lot too. I chose a work of his to be the cover of my bible, for criminy sake. He offers the mind visions that are too small or too big for our fleshly sight to perceive, and worlds that were before this world, and things to come. Not a mere copier of surface-nature but an illuminator of the mysteries of inwardness.
Pablo Picasso is a name that everyone knows, and I'm happy about that, because I think he deserves to be remembered as one of the two or three souls who get to occupy the glowing eye above the tip of the pyramid. It's not always that the popular ones are also the most sublime, but Picasso leaves me spellbound. Give him a trophy.
My sweetheart just sent me an electronic postcard from the grocery store saying that she finished shopping and is now waiting in the checkout line, therefore beware: she will arrive home soon. So I'll just page through the rest of this art book too swiftly, like I was doing when I started, and, instead of attempting to say anything interesting, I'll just pluck the names of my faves for a posy.
By the way, isn't it nice that you can walk to the farm across the street and purchase food? I'm thankful that living creatures exist.
Edward Hopper; Giorgio de Chirico; most of all Max Ernst. The book has two fragments that I actually like, in its notes about Ernst – I'll copy them here, for fun – this first one is just a five-word phrase:
. . . his inexhaustible delight in experimentation . . .
and here's the only other part of the book that's worth reading; it's almost an entire sentence:
. . . Ernst created pictures with subject matter that eludes rational explanation; in combination with their often-cryptic titles, these works are thoroughly enigmatic.
Also note that Ernst died in 1976, exactly one year before I myself was born. And it takes a soul 365 days to transmigrate into its new body. So I probably am the new Max Ernst; just so you know. Or rather, after the upcoming Friendly Black Hole absorbs our dimension and causes the stream of time to reverse its direction, Max Ernst will be considered the new Bryan Ray. That's why I'll have to try to die around April Fool's Day, so that our shared nightmare doesn't suffer mitosis. (Incidentally that's really his birthday; or was his death-day back when the cause-carriage led the effect-horse.)
Also Joan Miró; René Magritte; Roy Lichtenstein; and Jasper Johns. I even love David Hockney. Tho I'm timid about admitting my affection for Hockney, because he's comparatively new to me and SO prolific, also he seems dangerously close to the whatness of Picasso, so I'm always wondering: Is this guy satanic enough to stand out from Pablo's great shadow? But all I can say is that his work intrigues me, pleases me, fascinates me, strikes me as beautiful, seems passably complex...
And why must art be complex, Nicodemus? It needn't. But I prefer creations whose appearance celebrates a sort of intricate difficulty. Since we live in perplexing times, it is good to be able to embrace a vision of...
Ah, here is a young woman at the front door, holding grocery bags. I will help her bring them into the apartment now. Thanks for your company.