Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My life, I suppose, is complete, to a degree

This is the Rothko Room at the Tate Modern. It contains a series of paintings Rothko did late in his career on commission for the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan but which were withdrawn by the artist after he actually dragged his ass down to the Four Seasons and realized he was surrounded by a bunch of bubble-headed rich people eating obscenely expensive Dover sole. Meuniere, probably.



Apparently he freaked out, saying something to the effect of "These are not the people for whom I paint." He resigned the commission, gave the Four Seasons their money back, and tucked them away in the back room.

Some years later, a guy from the Tate asked, "If I give you a lovely room, will you give us those paintings?" The rest, as they say, is art history.

All of which brings me to this: It is a source of great annoyance that Geoffrey Raymond, the UCSB sociology professor, is showing up on my Google alert more than me these days. Nonetheless, I was delighted to see today that I apparently now merit an entry in "Arteur."

You can view it here.

The whole point of the story is that at the bottom of my modest entry, the site offers three artist who you, the Arteur reader, might like if you liked my work. Two are not recognizable names to me. One is a Brazilian grafitti artist (I can understand that connection). The other is somebody else-- photographer. The third is Chris Ofili.

Chris Ofili. Wow.

He, of the painting of the Virgin Mary (See? All the great ones paint religious iconography. I'm not some crackpot, no matter how much you, dear reader, would like to shake your head in a tut-tutting manner and whisper to yourself "That guy's such a crackpot.") executed, in part, with elephant dung.



He, whose painterly execution of the Virgin Mary made Mayor Guiliani plotz.
Everybody talks about that whole elephant dung business. How come nobody complains about the asses?
The what?
Those flying asses that you, upon quick inspection, probably thought were butterflies.
They are butterflies.
To a degree they are--much the way we ALL are butterflies--but they are actually little pictures of naked asses cut out of magazines and collaged, if that's even a word, onto the surface of the painting.
OMG, that's sacrilege!
That's what Rudy said. Except he was talking about the elephant dung.
If he knew those were asses, he would have totally shit in his pants.
Yes he would have.
He, who was sitting around one day (rolling, perhaps, some elephant dung around in his hands) when the Tate Modern called and asked if he could fill a room with his paintings.

OMG. Could you just imagine?



What a beautiful sight that is.
Those boys at the Tate know how to light a room.
Yeah. And they're suckers for that whole spartan-bench-in-the-middle thing.
Yeah. Like the Rothko Room.
Exactly.
Kind of like that bench at the Met in front of "Lavender Mist."

Exactly.
Except that might not be the name. It might be "Something, something, Number 1."
No, that's not the one.
I've got it, by Jove!
What?
"Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)"
Now that's a name for a painting.
You're no slouch yourself, my friend.
Thank you.
My favorite title of yours?
What?
"Dancer #3 (Reclining--Chelsea Hotel)"
Yeah. You know you've hit the big time when you have a painting with a name like that.
Yes you do.
Anyway, we all have things to shoot for. Having a show at the Tate would certainly be one of mine.
You know what they say in golf, don't you?
No. I don't play.
Well, they say a lot of things. But one of them is "Never up--never in."
Meaning?
Meaning that if you don't strike the ball hard enough to reach the cup, it will, by definition, never go in.
Meaning?
Meaning aim high my friend. Illegitimatus non carborundum.
Is that another golf thing?
No.

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