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Blathering - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Blah. I haven't done my rt_challenge thing for today, though I have a vague idea of it. Just not in a war and love lines and romance kind of place.

So, I'll blather instead.

I've been reading some Kenneth Oppel recently (Airborn and Skybreaker), which has been reasonably interesting, and some Jasper Fforde, which is entertaining without quite holding my interest, if that makes sense. (I don't give a rip about the main plot, but the meta jokes are great.)

I think I've hit my saturation point for spicy pics. It took longer than I was expecting it to. Now, I really enjoy clicking on pictures that turn out to be of Quidditch and battles. Or just people having dinner together or reading the paper or something. I've really been into some of the interpretive art in the black and white art challenge at hp_fringeart, though I've been a lousy commenter. (No, I'm not trying to tell artists what to draw; just mentioning that I've personally hit the saturation point on the pairing stuff and am enjoying other stuff more.)

Speaking of art, my mother is not a modern art fan at all. I consider myself not-a-modern-art-fan, but I'm not adamant about it. I just happen to prefer classical stuff, and to think that there are a whole lot of people in modern art that are only being provocative... but not that there are no modern artists who are doing anything interesting or worthwhile. The attitude bothers me more than the art ("Oh, representational art is so passé, dear..."), and I have liked several pieces. I am fond of Picasso and Dalí particularly, which marks me as rube enough to only know the very biggest names. But the point is, the city of Albuquerque is celebrating its three hundredth anniversary, and it's celebrating Spanish culture, and it has what is apparently a huge exhibit of Picasso and Dalí. I'm thinking, man... I actually wish I was around for that. My mother sighs, "Well, I guess I should probably go over, it's important..." You know, like taking medicine. Sigh. I guess I'd be the same if it was an exhibit of Jackson Pollack, and I was the same with the O'Keefe stuff in Santa Fe. So I shouldn't talk. But dude. That's an exhibit. (Checking the website, it also seems to mention Joan Miro, Jaume Plensa, and Julio Gonzales, but Mom didn't mention them to me.) And it's only a $4 museum entrance.

Um, okay.

I guess that's enough blathering.

I feel a bit...: bored bored

19 comments or Leave a comment
From: ireactions Date: February 17th, 2006 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been reading the same books! I love Matt Cruse and Thursday Next! And Kate De Vries!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2006 12:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Matt and Kate are terrific. :) I don't know why it took me so long to read these. Now, I really must go read the Silverwing books.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2006 01:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Which Fforde ffiction are you reading? I like him a lot, but I don't think any of his books really sucked me in plot-wise. Is it possible to be spoiled for "real" fiction by fanfic?

The third Thursday book, The Well of Lost Plots.

I agree about what the issue is with modern art--when I look at a Leonardo, I can see how he's captured the world, and it's brilliant. When I look at a Mondrian, I can see a lot of bright lines and it's kind of interesting aesthetically, but I don't see the kind of artistic skill it takes. I mean, other than the ability to paint many straight lines and arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
ivylore From: ivylore Date: February 17th, 2006 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
The key to Mondrian was that he didn't believe true reality could be expressed by simply imitating the world, subjectifying the objective rather than objectifying the subjective. That was such an enormous departure from tradition at the turn of the 20th century.

Whether or not the painter's brushstroke could appear on canvas, whether or not colours could be symbolic rather than representative, whether or not inner feelings could be expressed - the conservative art society in Europe was challenged and that all needed to happen.

I think on the surface modern art is easy to lump together, and many works might appear easy to create, however most of these artists were incredibly talented as representational artists in their own right (at least, I've been totally impressed by many of their early works). It's that they chose 'not' to paint that way and push the boundaries. Just 'looking' at at a piece isn't enough - individually, they're much more interesting and impressive.
ivylore From: ivylore Date: February 17th, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Still, while I understand that Duchamp was challenging the 'idea' of art with his urinal, blah... I don't like it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2006 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think my issue with this sort of thing is that it requires too much outside of the art itself, too much knowledge of the artist. The art doesn't live on its own. (Not to say I don't like Mondrian pictures; he was a bad choice as an example, because I find him quite neat to look at.)

I recognize that they've chosen to make an ideological statement--I have read a bit about it--but the ideological statement is not clear in much of the art itself; you're required to know the background. That means that the art can't speak for itself. Now, I'm big on author intent in writing, but I think that it's the writer's job to make that intent clear. Does it sometimes make a piece make more sense to know the personal background going into it? Yes. But (and not to compare myself to actual artists, but I at least can know my own intentions) people seemed to like the Moaning Myrtle story I did and get it without knowing the personal reasons I wrote it or what events in my life and thought processes made me write it. If a lot of people had read it and said, "Um, what was the point of that?" I think I'd assume I'd been unsuccessful in telling the story itself.
ivylore From: ivylore Date: February 17th, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, for a great deal of modern art one is required to have knowledge of the artist outside his or her work. That is (for instance, in the case of Picasso and his collages); it was produced for the elite in the art world.

On the other hand, the same is really true of artists like Da Vinci and David. (And too, remember how much everything changed with photography! Painting was no longer a means to capture an image for posterity.) David's painting of the murdered Marat is little more than a portrait of a dead man in his bathtub - unless you know that Marat was a leader of the French revolutionaries and David's painting deified him. And Da Vinci might seem simple enough on the surface, but he was part of an artistic revival we now call the Renaissance. Basically, what you see is never what it's all about. At least not most of the time.

When it comes to things like expressionism, I personally adore it because I love the experience of emotion in art and that seems about as straightforward as we can get.

I think it's tough to compare a work of art to writing. They're similar on a lot of levels, but every word has its own meaning. If you type 'woman' I' will visualise a woman when I read it. If she 'walks to the pier' I'll visualise that. I'll walk away from your story with some of understanding of your intent and characters, even if I don't understand it completely. It's impossible to infuse a purely visual work with the same signifiers, with enough information that an artist's intent can be discerned by viewing it alone, especially if its one work all by itself.

Regarding representative art - I don't know if I'd call it a movement, but there are quite a few influential representational artists out there. I think they just get lost in today's media coverage.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 17th, 2006 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Re: Fforde - I felt the same way about The Eyre Affair and was never able to get into any of the sequels even enough to enjoy the literary in-jokes.

Re: modern art - I spent three years sharing living space with two studio art majors. These girls are two of my best friends in the whole world, but we did have some major disagreements about what does and does not precisely constitute "art". I fall kind of into your camp... not a modern art fan, but not in an OMGIHATEALLMODERNART kind of way, just in a "well... ooooookay, if you say so" kind of way. Large modern-art exhibits tend to make me angry, but I have seen pieces I quite like.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2006 05:54 am (UTC) (Link)
There were a couple of neat pieces at the Albright-Knox in Buffalo. One was a little house with furniture built from mirrors, and another was built on a swivel and when you turned it, it was four different designs. (No joy on finding links to images, since I don't know what they're called!)
tante_in_hp From: tante_in_hp Date: February 17th, 2006 03:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, Fforde entertained me from the start. I loved the premise of The Eyre Affair, especially from a fanfiction author POV. Normally it's children that wander into book worlds. I loved the adult angle on book jumping. I desperately want to vacation in Austen.

I felt similarly about Modern Art (particularly the kind which is just a jumble of coat hangers and the like) until just last winter. My brother and I wandered into an art museum on The National Mall on one of their very slow afternoons. At the information desk, we explained that we'd never been there before, only had about an hour to spend and wondered what they recommended we see. An disengaged docent was on hand and we lucked into a guided tour of her favourite exhibits. She was marvellous. Now I understand why great piles of wire coat hangers or three blue wooden chairs can actually be interesting to contemplate.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2006 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd love to vacation at Hogwarts. :) Or maybe in Twain or Alcott somewhere. Much as I love Stephen King and Orson Scott Card, I think neither would make for a relaxing vacation...
polly_locket From: polly_locket Date: February 17th, 2006 03:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh, I love Jasper Fforde! Are you reading Thursday Next or the Nursery Crimes? I thought the plotting of The Eyre Affair was amazing, but each sequel after that lost more and more focus, until even I was getting tired of meta jokes about a depressed Hamlet in book IV. Still think the idea of Richard III done Rocky Horror Picture Show-style is amazing, though. ("WHEN is the summer of our discontent?" "Now...") XD

Here in Philly we had a huge Dali exhibit last spring, but I didn't go and now feel so uncultured whenever people bring it up. I *have* seen "Christ of St. John of the Cross" in person, and that blew my mind.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2006 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Thursday Next. I'm in The Well of Lost Plots. And I do love an alternate world where books are that valued.
frenchbraider From: frenchbraider Date: February 17th, 2006 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I've only read one of the Thursday Next novels; I think it was Lost in a Good Book. The plot made my head hurt, but all the lit references were awesome.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2006 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I know. That's what's so much fun about them. This one features Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights on a serious star tantrum.
frenchbraider From: frenchbraider Date: February 17th, 2006 08:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Ha! A serious brooding kind of tantrum? How IC!
ani_bester From: ani_bester Date: February 17th, 2006 05:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Ohh man provacative art, it's so hard no know what the line is between intelligent thought and shock art for the sake of shock art.

I've always had a fondness for peices that confront issues in society that no one wants to face, and I think shock can be a valid way of doing that, but at the same time, I think there are peices that have about as much depth as telling your parent's "Fuck you" just to get them really pissed.
To me that's fairly pointless in that it's just too easy (*Cough Piss Christ *cough*).

err,m yes, Sali and Picasso, very worth seeing =P
Dali I find interesitng in that I think he can be a nice bridge between modern and classical. I lot of his techniques are very classical, so you dont' really get the "my two year old can do that" problem, where as his subject matter is well modern.
Picasso is interesting if you read the history behind that art style.
A lot of the modern movements were very intelligent but adly there were a lot of people standing on the backs of giants and IMHO the art world got too premissive.

And finally

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2006 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Ohh man provacative art, it's so hard no know what the line is between intelligent thought and shock art for the sake of shock art.

I know. There's a definite difference, but it's very hard to pin down. (I agree about "Piss Christ"... please. Make an effort, at least).

I like surrealist art in general--and Dali in particular--because it's very obviously technically difficult and shows a lot of virtuosity, but you're still looking at it and going, "WHAT THE HELL...?"

A lot of the modern movements were very intelligent but adly there were a lot of people standing on the backs of giants and IMHO the art world got too premissive.

It's unfortunately a common problem across the arts, and we see it in the defenses people make of bad fanfic as much as we see it in the defenses of very bizarre modern art--"It doesn't need to make sense! Why should I have rules?! Rules are the enemy of art!" Which just makes me thud my head on the desk. It's like saying that words are the enemy of language. They're malleable, but they give shape to what you're trying to say and make it comprehensible to other people.
danel4d From: danel4d Date: February 17th, 2006 02:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the Thursday Next books, but I'm waiting for the paperback version of the newest one... I think I like them probably more than you do, I think mostly because I seriously love meta...

Oh, and is Kenneth Oppel good, then? I've seen the books at the shop, and wondered whether to buy them...

I have a general dislike for modern art too... I fail at being a liberal, since modern art seems to be one of those shibboleth things. I used to have a general distaste for most art, really, but I've recently discovered that my university has a wonderful free admission gallery, and I've spent a few lunch hours in there, just wondering around. Lovely stuff, just beautiful.
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