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My admonition to modern art is: "Bottoms up!"

posted 9/9/2007 10:41:45 PM |
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  HER_NIGHTMARE

I have long had a high regard for the Pete and Dud method of separating the artist from the charlatan.
Somewhere among the old videos in the spare bedroom lurks a copy of the Not Only But Also episode in which Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's raincoat and cloth-capped alter egos are strolling around an art gallery, Pete pontificating as usual, Dud twitching and pulling silly faces.
They stop before a large Rubens featuring women's bare bottoms.
That's the secret of a good painting, Pete says loftily When the bottoms follow you around the room. Dud tries out the theory by strolling to the other end of the gallery then quickly glances back, hoping to catch the bums unawares.
"You're right, Pete,"
He says.
"They've followed me."
I road tested the theory at the National Gallery of Victoria when they had a Caravaggio exhibition a few years ago. Worked a treat. Confronting Judith Slaying Holofernes then wandering away and swivelling to face it again, it did, indeed, seem as if Judith had momentarily paused in the gruesome business of beheading the Babylonian general to see what I was up to.
I also tried the Washing Day at Erangy 1901 when the Pissarro exhibition came to town last year, but with Impressionists it's always more difficult to tell, what with all that suggested movement in the brush strokes. One of the women hanging out the family undies might have glances up, I couldn't be certain.

No such problems with the Guggenheim 1940s to Now exhibition now is residence along St. Kilda Rd.
I went to renew hostilities with American Abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, one of many artists on show who render the Pete and Dud method redundant by not actually painting anything looking like something.

Rothko and I don't get on. My gallery companion and I have viewed outstanding examples of his work in some of the great, galleries of his adopted homeland - museums of modern art in San Francisco and New York, the Metropolitan on Fifth Ave, Washington's Hirschhorn and others.
At each Rothko site along the way, she has patiently tried to convey the vibrancy of his work, the impressiveness of those vast slabs of colour, told me how the artist came to believe recognisable objects and images were actually obstacles preventing the direct experience of art.
While I'm looking at what seems a half-painted shed door in a particularly ugly shade of rust primer with a horizontal stripe through the middle of where the masking tape used to be.
She thought a breakthrough had been made at the little cyber gallery that day, when I reeled away from a glum looking Rothko in a fit of the giggles. A positive response, she said, until I confessed it wasn't Rothko, but was caused by another visitors interaction with a German instillation artist's life work.
This fellow had mistaken a kitchen chair beside a huge suspended net-full of spray painted kitchen utensils, bicycle frames, gumboots, scrap iron, as a place for a sit down.
So he cleared things off the chair and remained seated there until security guards arrived in some haste to point out it was part of the installation.
So here I am now, standing before I know not what, other than that it is a Rothko. appears unfinished and, in company with almost all his work that does not have a name but a number, is titled Untitled

Nope, still does nothing for me. Let's have a quick look at a few Tom Roberts before we go. They're brilliant... and they follow you around the room.

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Comments:

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NachoBaby

Sep 9 @ 10:47PM  
Yanno, I've tried looking at Picasso and tried to make it art.. but it, to me, looks like something my kids would scribble on the walls with crayons.

I guess it's just us heathens that don't get it huh?

Missed your skowling face around here sunshine.
Dominus

Sep 9 @ 10:48PM  
I'm more of the Vonnegut school.

How can you tell if a painting is good? Study a million paintings.

(From his marvelous work, Bluebeard)
Dominus

Sep 9 @ 10:51PM  
Nacho, you're telling me that you can't look at Guernica and be moved? That you can't feel stirred at Lavender Mist No. 1?
NachoBaby

Sep 9 @ 11:01PM  
I prolly could if I knew what they were.. if they are by picasso.. then prolly not so much. Now, if it were Salvadore Dali I would say yes. His sort of surrealism is my type of art.
Redhead131

Sep 9 @ 11:06PM  
I always liked all the impressionists... but I also love Chagall...
dridge

Sep 9 @ 11:40PM  

No matter where you go it follows you, don't believe me, try it for yourself. Welcome to my nightmare!
mrknowuwell

Sep 10 @ 2:41AM  
Dammmm Dridge........I can barely look at that sober
borty293

Sep 10 @ 3:05AM  
My gawd I love paintings displaying female buttocks....I find them esthetically pleasing and extremely erotic...

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My admonition to modern art is: "Bottoms up!"