Monday, April 30, 2012

Scraped Rothko

Items one and two should be marked Exhibits A and B for the defense. The first is, of course, "Erased deKooning Drawing," a work by Robert Rauschenberg.  If you type Erased deKooning into the blog search box you will almost certainly find a video interview with Rauschenberg about the painting.  It's highly recommended viewing.

Update:  Type Rauschenberg instead

Second is a work by Gerhard Richter.  Who last year sold more work at auction, as measured by the total amount of money changing hands, than Damien Hirst.
Which is a crass way of establishing artistic worth.
Yes it is.  But at the same time, it's not chopped liver.
No it isn't.

Anyway, the important thing right now, assuming you live in New York City, is that you turn off the computer and go see a movie called, I think, "Gerhard Richter: Painting" if it is still around.  Then report back.  I will continue with the post under the assumption that you've done so.

Me?  I'm not the guy's biggest fan in the world.  But I'm certainly interested in seeing how other people paint, and when it comes to that, the movie really delivers.  Plus, his wife is attractive.  So that helps.

Richter has gone through a number of styles, and the movie catches him during his squeegie period.  That is to say, he paints what appears to be a thickly rendered, relatively colorful abstract painting on a large canvas.  Then he takes a huge squeegie and starts scraping away at it.  One of the things that's interesting is how the bright colors, when smushed together over and over again, sideways and top-to-bottom, usually end up looking like mud you've scraped off your shoe.
Or shit.
Yes.  Or shit.

Nonetheless, it's pretty interesting and Exhibit B for the defense is just such a painting.  It's titled "Cage 6".  Which makes as much sense as me calling yesterday's wood-cut "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.  Which, if you're too lazy to scroll down one post, looks like this:

The reason I bring it up is that the background of the painting -- the sunset behind the mountains -- is actually a Mark Rothko painting which I nipped off the interweb and pasted down (Thus the MoMA reference).   And we're all on the same page in understanding that I'm painting these things on my computer, yes?

Okay.  So one of the things I noticed was that once the Rothko was on my computer, I could manipulate that image in the same way I could manipulate my own stuff.  Including taking a massive electronic squeegie and scraping Mark Rothko's beautiful painting sideways several times, as if it had been delivered to my studio still as fresh and moist as a high school cheerleader.
And you comfortable with the cheerleader reference?
Yes.  I suppose so.
It might make some people uncomfortable.  You are, after all, what?  Seventy years old?
First of all, I'm not that old.  Second, people in the arts can say whatever they want, by and large.
But that guy with the Marlins can't say he likes Castro.
No he can't.

Moving forward, all that thinking and scraping yielded Scraped Rothko, which is above.  And Scraped Rothko 2a and 2b, which are these:

 What has not been fully determined is whether this is a good idea or not.

It is interesting to see what scraping does.  And I love the below-surface artifacts the process leaves behind (see the one on the right above).  Although of what are they artifacts?  It's not like the computer knows what was underneath.  None of this makes sense, but I am motivated by it.  And perhaps that's point enough.

For the record, I am a big Rothko fan.  And the idea of being able to mess around with his work as if it had been delivered to my studio still as fresh and moist as a high school cheerleader, is titillating.

Perhaps in more of a Rauschenbergian way than a Richterian way.


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