Monday, August 15, 2016

The Cycle of Terror and Tragedy

Yesterday when I was looking for an image of "Woman on the Rocks" by Maxfield Parrish Google images provided thumbnails for another artist named Graydon Parrish.

The painting they showed is huge. The largest possible on canvas. The size presented unique problems that Parrish talks about in a series of videos. There are five videos in one of the sets, each over eight minutes long, and I must say they are the fastest eight minutes I've experienced. They go by in a flash. They seem like two minutes. To me.

This Wikipedia page describes the reception of the painting but the Wikipedia page does not do it justice. Two reviewers, one from the NYT disparages it. Wikipedia relays that the NYT wrote:
"Mr. Parrish has a fine arsenal of talent and ideas, but this particular work comes off as overly staged, showy and annoyingly melodramatic, the clichéd pomp and classical symbolism drowning out a gentler, more compassionate spirit."
Wassaamatter, NYT art critic, insufficiently post modern to suit your silly ass? Wikipedia doesn't name the reviewer. Let's see who wrote that.

[NYT  Cycle of Terror and Tragedy] Benjamin Benoochio. Who's that? The reviewer elevates the critic at the expense of the artist. His review is not worth reading. But there it is if you care to.

[Benjamin Benoochio] Turns out Benjamin Benoochio has problems of his own especially regarding honesty. He's known to engage in conflict of interest by adjusting Wikipedia entries on his wife who is director of Hirshhorn Museum at the Smithsonian. The controversy is delineated at the link.

Back to the Wikipedia entry on the painting, the another critic, James Panero wrote:
“… is a pretty good painting that manages to be monumentally terrible."
Oh, come on!

Wassaamatter, Panero, too on the nose to suit your highly refined taste?

James Panero's Wikipedia page, in case you care to know about him. Turns out he's younger than I imagined. So is the artist, about the same age. Panero is conservative and even wrote for a conservative magazine. The YouTube video I watched about him, he describes the necessity of registering Democrat as a matter of survival living in NYC. His opinion is being Republican means having no impact at all. But that was before Trump.

Critics see twin towers personified, loss of innocence. 

Viewers are held riveted. Some sit for hours. Some viewers must be pulled away at closing. In my humble opinion it is an amazing painting, and so is the artist. He’s known for producing a previous large size painting but not so large as this one. He was commissioned earlier to produce a painting about AIDS.

Google images, [Graydon Parrish, AIDS]

Here is Graydon Parrish’s Wikipedia page.

The videos are somewhat disconcerting by the camera’s continually adjusting its white balance. Other than that I think you will find the videos engaging as I do. The artist is a pleasant man. His description of his work is wonderful, I think. I enjoyed tremendously watching all of them. Time very well spent. The first three are best in my opinion, the 4th a museum director is blah blah blahing, and that is less interesting to me, the 5th has some pretty good audience questions. I would like to have been there myself.

These are the videos that I watched. There are others, also presented in sets like this recorded at the 10th anniversary. 

Parrish says his allegory is read from left to right. The symbolism he had in mind is quite clear. He discusses how things changed as he went along. How he understands that people will read their own ideas into it. 

Comments are shut off for some of the videos, but not all of them. And commenters really do add their own interpretation. One man notices the "We" printed on paper in the style of the U.S. constitution and he reads the constitution is torn up. An anti-Bush sentiment it seems to me, in the painting it is part of the debris but not torn. 

One commenter sees one of the weeping woman as representation of Justice, but hers is a headband and not a blindfold. Nevertheless, that is his reading.

Another sees the dark toned man as dead with his eyes open. While the artist says, "the more mature boy has his blindfold lifted, he's of an age where children notice the world is confusing and he is shocked by seeing the dark skinned person struck down dumbfounded but not necessarily dead. 

Others notice the old man's eyes are wide open, he sees things clearly but he is unable to pass his knowledge onto the child and so it is through infinity symbolize by the red strip of fabric, the child must figure out the history that happens in the present all on his own, however the ribbon is broken, the blindfolded child on the far right connects back to the children on the left.

I especially enjoyed Parrish talking about what he learned as he did this, his difficulties, his frustrations, and his interaction with his models. I hope you can set aside some time for these. You'll come out of it a good deal smarter about art, I believe. 

The artist talks about the difficulty of painting roses. Each one took two days to paint. He said a lot of his budget went for replacing the flowers. He remarks that people set flowers to cover the tragedy. The debris of papers is what struck the artist in real life and people rush in with flowers, not to ignore or forget the tragedy, rather to replace the event with beauty. 

I still hate that habit of tossing flowers and cheap fuzzy gifts and balloons onto a heap. That impulse leaves junk to rot and for someone else to clean up. 


Sixty Grit said...

Oh, I thought he painted big pictures. I've seen larger, in the Louvre, for example. Or works by Chuck Close. Or on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which, by the way, has a very nice floor, too.

What is interesting is that Parrish is not a communist. That is exceedingly rare in the art world these days.

The Hirshhorn remains one of my favorite museums in the world. I used to take my children there several times a year - it was really a great place to spend a day, years ago. I imagine it too, has gone commie/garbage art, as Joe Hirshhorn is long gone and no one who has followed him has his eye or vision for what a museum could be.

I should write about the Smithsonian National Portrait gallery, but those of you with sufficient curiosity will be able to find my link to that institution.

ndspinelli said...

You are not supposed to photograph in the Sistine Chapel. But there were a bunch of Chinamen shooting away when we visited.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

That is a big painting. I would like to go see it.

The Commies kept the painting of the Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire in the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, which is about 7 feet by 12 feet. It is based on a true event: This is what they actually wrote...

Chip Ahoy said...

It's the largest on canvas that's available today.

Stretching the canvas took a team of 5 men and present a bunch of problems. It took them several attempts to get it right.

See, you stretch the width and staple both ends on both sides in the back. So now that's the only area that is tight, a tight line going down the center.

Then you stretch the length and and staple the middle on both sides in the back. So now a (+) shape is the only thing that is stretched and all areas filling the four sections is floppy. Then you do your best with with the four floppy corners, and that's were everything goes wonky. You can see how this will be a problem with an 19 X 8 foot canvas. The material is not that cooperative.

Also, Parrish designed the frame. Apparently it's ivory. (the inside portion, I suppose) I don't understand what kind of ivory nor why he would want that, but that's what one of the pages said.

When I saw the frame I thought it looked architectural and not so much like a frame for a painting.

I had this same problem one time with my own plasters. I wanted it to be huge but turns out that they largest matt boards restricted the size I could go.

Sure, you can paint on a wall any size that you like. But canvas comes on rolls and apparently has limitations on width, a matter of production. I'm imagining.

Also, someone asked about showing lending the picture and the Parish laughed and said, that transporting the thing is their problem, not his. The audience found his dismissal amusing. He is entertaining fellow. I listened to other of the videos and whereas the other museum speakers are stodgy soon as Parrish began speaking the tone suddenly changes to lightheartedness. He really is disarming and charming. The nine minute video ended like that *snap* and I'm all, "what? done already?" Such a charmer.

ricpic said...

I really really don't like Parrish's style of painting. Not the subject matter, the way it's painted. Too frickin' careful.

The worst thing about the Sistine Chapel - for me at least - was being surrounded by other people who couldn't keep still or silent in a place where you have to give your total attention to what's up there -- or what's the point? I mean you don't have to give your total attention, you want to. And you can't.

Sixty Grit said...

As it turns out there are these newfangled things called "sewing machines" that allow humans to join one piece of material to another. Sure, the seam has to be dealt with, but it's not that big of a deal - artists are in theory, creative, and even if they aren't, they can turn to how it was done in the olden days.

As for ivory -- there are limitations on how it can be bought and sold, so one can't rule that out, but that seems to be an expensive choice for a frame these days.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

Ricpic there are guides who for a premium will get you in outside the crowds

William said...

I think the picture alludes to John Singer Sargent's WWI masterpiece, "Gassed". I don't think it has the same impact, but that's what it is aiming for.