Thursday, November 13, 2008


Robert M. Greenberg
Through his collections we can ask ourselves what it means to be an artist, what counts, what doesn't count? Do many people have to know your name or your formal training?
"We shouldn't travel in ignorance just because the world may be unfamiliar or extreme" - Robert M. Greenberg

All the individual pieces of the collections come from a person. Someone who thought, saw, felt, moved in order to accomplish what we see today as a single piece in Robert Greenberg's collection. With this being known "we are obliged to understand, as far as we can, the terms of expression of each work." - Robert M. Greenberg

Henry Darger
Without knowing a lot about Darger, without knowing anything really, one begins to wonder what he thought of children and whether or not he was into them or not. It sounds horrible, I know, but looking at pieces by Darger are examples of what I mean. Such as "During height of storm escape be setting it on fire" It depicts children being strangled as well as the piece "At Calmanrina" which depicts children being strangled and tortured as well.

Those were the first opinions and impressions I had about Henry Darger before actually knowing uch about him through research. These pieces with the children in them are from a series. Darger wrote a 5000 page story about a war between those children and a corrupt, evil regime bent on destroying and enslaving them.

Not just the pieces of art which went along with the story but the story itself is very long and shows me an example of what I have been doing in the surrealism class. It is called "The imperialistic fury of precision." It entails a lot of close proximity drawing and making with a lot of details and the fury of needing to make or draw something complex and detailed. A lot of people talk about "going into the zone" when they are working on a piece, whether it be large or small. "The zone", in part, is what it is to be doing the imperialistic fury of precision. Although, the piece being worked on at the time may be complex or detailed, it is "the zone" which makes this way of working more bearable. That is my experience but I am sure that Darger's story was done during periods of time when he was in this trance-like state, writing for hours on end. The story being written about a massive war reflected turmoil during the time but at the same time was fuel for the story he was writing and the pieces that he generated. I still wonder, though, if there was something about children that drove the story and the accompanying visual work.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Fantastical Fables as told through illustrations by Amy Cutler speak as to how illustration is a social medium used to convey messages from the artist to the viewer. The medium itself is the means of expressing those ideas in a way that people might understand or in some circumstances might not understand what is being presented to them. Although for some viewers Amy Cutler's illustrations might not reveal their meanings right away, the first thing someone notices when they stand up close and look carefully is the attention to detail. The way in which firgures are posed speaks to their emotions as well as the dresses or clothes that they are wearing.
The gouache on paper was very nice to see because of its versatility through detailing to background washes that set a toned mood in a piece. The detailing helps tell what the artist wanted to show, whether it be human interaction with animals or each other as was evident in some of Amy Cutler's pieces.
One of the pieces entitled "Dinner Party" was interesting to look at because of the depiction of food and dishes falling to the floor along with the table cloth which had animals that looked as though they were falling to the floor through the table cloth, as if the table cloth were a waterfall, if that makes sense. The falling and cascading motion was enhanced along with the rest of the piece because of the four figures of he ladies that were at the dinner party that had somehow gotten the chairs and silverware entangled in their hair.
Another piece that I found amusing was one titled "Hen House". In it there are small hens that can be seen inside of the upper door of the barn where they have little human heads with bonets.

Amy Cutler really seems to add a couple elements to make her pieces. One being the personal things involved in making the pieces, the memories of hard times and struggles and the second being a little sprinkling of the surreal when animal take on human characteristics and when humans take on animal characteristics like in the piece where the women are behaving like beavers. The humans and animals in the pieces seem to compliment one another and the works are reminiscent of Animal Farm.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Even now after seeing David Lynch's Eraserhead I cannot seem to get some of the images out of my mind. I feel a need to cleanse myself and see something relaxing and recognizable after witnessing what I would describe as a disgusting, disturbing, uncomfortable display of meanings and commentaries that come together to make the polluted, sickening presentation of filth that we witnessed. If to make people feel uneasy and uncomfortable was the purpose for David to make films such as these then he did a great job.
Even from the very beginning of the film things are not right, at least, not the way most people view them to be. The beginning composition with the character "Henry" being horizontal and zooming in and out as well as being panned up and down vertically was a sign of the off-balance things to come in the rest of the film. It was all very slow, slow movement with a droning, wind and atmospheric background noise throughout the entire film with the exception of a few strange songs with actual lyrics being repeated over and over again in them.
There was a feeling of disease and an organic, biological mix with the mechanical industrious deadness of nothingness.
The concept of fading in and out and closing in used through the darkness and the light mingled with size relationships was alien. It all felt unfamiliar and uncomfortable. The desolate and barren scapes mixed with industrial deterioration and ruin brought about a sense of being lost and in despair with no hope of ever escaping a monotonous nightmare of the unfamiliar and uneasy.
The Human interactions and displays of emotions were hard to watch because of a dark underlying sense of un-reality, what made sense and what did not make sense.
Some words that came to mind when watching were
breaking point
There was a very dark undercurrent and I could definatley apply consumption, excess, sacrifice to the wasted food at the dinner scene, the killing of the creature. At one point I thought of the "Tell Tale Heart" when "henry" is laying down and the creature is making sounds that seem like laughter right before he kills it with the scissors.
Does a person have to be in a certain state of mind to watch something like this or especially make something like this? It was hard to watch and I wish I had not watched it but I see the value in looking at all sides of something, whether it be a piece such as this film or a movement like surrealism.
Going against the flow and the norm seems to be a main canal for the surrealist movement. The slap in the face to "high art" and artists from the Renaissance. Embracing the unconscious world of a neither reality where anything good or bad or strange is possible and does not seem out of the ordinary because the ordinary does not exist.