I keep meaning to write something, but I can’t stop reading long enough to do so. Here are some more of my recent gleanings from the Web:
– Over in the Top Five module of the right-hand column, I’ve posted a few heartfelt words in praise of Jane Freilicher: Recent Work, up at Tibor de Nagy through Apr. 24. Now Hilton Kramer has reviewed the same show at length for the New York Observer:
Cloudy skylines and vivid floral bouquets, still-lifes and landscapes, nasturtiums and petunias lording it over Manhattan’s imposing cityscape, the rectilinear cityscape itself dissolved into a phantom Cubist still-life–these are some of the suggestive incongruities to be savored in Jane Freilicher’s new paintings at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery. Brilliantly rendered floral color commands the foreground in most of these paintings, while views of the city, seen in a distant haze through an upper-story window, have a mirage-like quality–too shadowy to be entirely real, yet never venturing into the kind of fantasy we associate with surrealism….
Abstractionism in color is particularly evident in her two Flora paintings on handmade paper, with their shallow-spaced, all-over structure, and an abstractionist impulse can be seen in all of her recent paintings. It’s even more emphatically stated in Seascape, another painting on handmade paper, which has a structure of stacked horizontal forms.
All of this suggests that what we’ve been witnessing–though not always acknowledging–in the history of American art since the 1950’s is a widespread movement among representational painters to come to terms with the powerhouse influence of the Abstract Expressionists. Not only as a critic but also as a painter, this was an issue that Fairfield Porter was absolutely obsessed with: In writing about abstract painting, he often went looking for its subject matter, and in writing about realist painting, he was mainly concerned with pure pictorial form.
What this also suggests is that, in the long term, representational painters may have derived greater benefits–pictorial, aesthetic benefits–from the Abstract Expressionists than abstract painters have. It may be heresy to suggest this, but in the presence of Ms. Freilicher’s current exhibition, it’s a heresy worth thinking about….
Read the whole thing here. Then go see the show. It’s not to be missed.
– Golden Rule Jones has run 17 arts blogs through an on-line tool that tests Web sites for “readability.” According to the creator of the tool in question, “A level above 12 indicates the writing sample is too hard for most people to read.” Mr. Jones scored 12.9, Our Girl and I a paltry 12.2. The thorniest thicket, not surprisingly, was The Reading Experience (16.5), while Return of the Reluctant and Old Hag both racked up a spectacularly fluffy 10.1.
I guess that makes us lower-middlebrows, right?
– Sarah won an award! Good for her.
– Jeff Jarvis recalls his tenure at People, apropos of that magazine’s thirtieth anniversary:
I was at People during a few crucial cultural changes. While I was there, the audience fragmented before our very eyes. It used to be that we could put a No. 1 TV show on the cover and, zap, it would sell. But suddenly — thanks to the most revolutionary device ever invented, the remote control — that changed.
I remember my managing editor and mentor, Pat Ryan, coming down the hall more than once shouting at me, “TV’s dead, Jarvis, it’s dead.” That meant another Dallas cover had inexplicably bombed. The audience sat asunder.
Welcome to the future of media and culture.
The audience took control of their entertainment (just as, today, we are taking control of their news and media). Cable grew. VCRs were just starting to be sold. We were no longer captive to three networks. We watched what we wanted to watch.
The truth is that our time in a shared national experience was short — it lasted only from the moment TV reached critical mass until the mid-80s and the spread of the cultural bomb we called the clicker. “Who Shot J.R.” was our last single shared experience. Even now, when we watch a war, we watch it through CNN’s eyes or FoxNews’ or the Internet’s.
Some lament the passing of that shared national experience. I don’t. It was a tyranny: rule by the mass (or rather, what executives thought the masses should or would want). Now the individual is in charge again….
– Finally, MoorishGirl brings us this stunning story of a modest author:
When Edwidge Danticat went on Radio Times on WHYY-FM (90.9) the other day to talk about her new novel, The Dew Breaker, callers didn’t want to discuss plot or character. They had bigger questions for the Haitian-born writer. Like: “Is there hope for Haiti?”…
“I find it difficult being a spokesperson,” said the shy, soft-spoken, 35-year-old novelist, who gave a reading at the main branch of the Free Library. “I don’t think in an op-ed way. I don’t always have an immediate response. My work is my soapbox. What I hope is that people will read that and then want to find out more about Haiti.”
Excuse me while I relocate my jaw.