Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Confronted by BS

I love Half Price Books. I spend a lot of time there looking for the next book or books to add to my collection of book shelves. Well, this week they had a big sale and I again added to my growing collection. I found a few interesting art books including a nice one on Whistler.

There is one book I thought I would focus on, as it was a special find. It is a book published by the Columbus Museum of Art on a painter named Joseph Marioni. I had never heard of him, and I probably would not have bought the book if it had not been $2.50. It was worth every penny.

Now, on to this wonderful book. I will just start by showing you a picture on page 9 of one of this "artist's" paintings hanging on the wall. Click on it to see it bigger if you must.

Red Painting acrylic and linen on stretcher 22" x 20" 1994 no. 21

OK, first I would like to point out that this is number 21 of god knows how many other red paintings he has done.
Now, the best part of this book, is that is has 'details' of the paintings. This way you can really get in there to see what is going on.
Here is the detail on the next page. Click on this to really get a handle on it.

Red Painting (detail) acrylic and linen on stretcher 22" x 20" 1994 no. 21

So, if you didn't get what was going on seeing the whole painting, this book zooms in for a closer look. Did you notice? It's red.
The book has 9 more paintings, but it only shows the details of these. I won't show them all, but I will list them. There is Blue Painting # 12, Green Painting # 21, Green Painting #5, Red Painting # 14, Black Painting # 4, Blue Painting # 26, Green Painting # 18, Yellow Painting # 1, White Painting # 1, and Yellow Painting # 6.

There are also 6 pages written about these paintings. I am not sure who is more talented, the man painting these paintings or the person that could come up with 6 pages discussing them. The text is available in English and German, and I found both equally enjoyable. In this well crafted text, Marioni is quoted as saying, "that the very essence of the painting experience is a state of consciousness that is unlanguaged."
Interesting stuff. For him it also seems to be a bunch of other words that have un- in front of them as well, like: trained, inspired, talented, skilled, or interesting. Just to name a few that came to mind. The writer goes on to mention that he feels somehow "confronted" by color.
No kidding?
What else exactly is there to be confronted with?
When I read this, I felt confronted with B.S.
There is even mention of his technique. Guess what? He uses a paint roller, and occasionally will use a brush. He uses these tools to somehow give the impression that these paintings have "somehow simply 'happened'."

I had an exciting moment where I thought my wife and I actually owned a series by this artist. After a search I found it in our archives and I was very disappointed to discover I was wrong. Turns out the series is a collaborative piece. The artists seem to be named Perry and Derrick.

They are a bit more clever with the names of their images than Mr. Marioni, and are way less sloppy with the paint. Interestingly I have something in common with these artists, as I think I painted my bathroom Sunflower 4524D which is in this series of tiny paintings. Turns out, I used a very similar technique to that of Joseph Marioni, by rolling the paint on to the walls.

I know you are going to think I am being over dramatic, but I was so moved by Marioni's work, that I spent a few hours writing a poem about the Red Painting # 21, which I liked better than the detail of Red Painting # 14 on page 40. The poem is below, and I call it G. Let me know what you think.

I really am inspired here, so I went even further and wrote some music. Now, I can't read music or play an instrument, but here it is. And as lack of ability to properly use the tools or media available didn't stop Marioni, why should it stop me. Enjoy.


"Muscles" said...

gee whiz, Von Luschek, just because you don't understand this stuff, you needn't throw a hissy fit. one would almost think that you believed that art has been on the wrong track for the last 90 years.

i suggest that you search out the originals of these pictures. this kind of subtlety really defies the power of four-color reproduction.

your poem "G" is amateurish, and carries nowhere near the sense of existentialist angst that is found even in the reproductions of these paintings. (although perhaps if i saw your original, i might reconsider.)

and speaking of "G", would you do me a favor and use that character when you spell out the proper noun "God"? i'd think that anyone so richly blessed with talent, training, work ethic, an impossibly beautiful wife, etc., etc., would at least have the common decency to capitalize the name of the One Who has been so generous to him.

great piece, Von Luschek. you are the Ann Coulter of art criticism.

Richard J. Luschek II said...

I will have you know I intentionally left the word "god" with a small g because I meant the pagan god, Saturn. You know, the one that turned out to not be a very good father. That whole "eating his kids" thing that is generally looked down upon in parenthood.
Seemed more appropriate to use a pagan reference when discussing these paintings.
I would also like to point out that the poem has nothing to do with God. It is about so much more. It is "unlanguaged" really.
I also forgot to mention details of the poem:
Poem G No. 6, 48" x 48", Sharpie Marker on handmade white paper, 2008

"Muscles" said...

now that i understand the context of your poem, i take back all i said about its being amateurish. but i would suggest you use India Ink instead of a Sharpie; the dyes used in felt markers are notoriously fugitive, and i would like my grandchildren to be able to enjoy your work as much as i do.

Dave said...

Hmm...this artist seems to have plagiarized liberally from an idea for a series of paintings I laboured over in college...for example:

Autumn Breeze in New York City #3

Autumn Breeze in New York City #4

Autumn Breeze in New York City #7

Autumn Breeze in New York City #8

Autumn Breeze in New York City #1213

..although you can clearly see the progression of my idea through the works.

Richard J. Luschek II said...

Wow, I have to admit, Autumn Breeze in New York City #7 really brought back some memories.
Horrifying, terrible memories of a childhood event.
I cried when I saw that one.
I bet Muscles would buy it from you.

HULK said...

Your "G" has the signature Helvetica tail. Only a true artist would have the sensitivity to put the quintessentially modern mark...bravo.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Luschek, I'm sorry you do not enjoy my work. I have studied your work and I cannot say I don't like it I just think nothing of it. It saddens me to think you have spent eight long days painting a vase with Day 1 appearing the same as day 8, neither interesting. To me this is BS.
Thank you for buying my book.
Joseph Marioni

Richard J. Luschek II said...

Joseph Marioni
I am so embarrassed. I never thought you would actually see this post. I suppose I should have known you would be the type to Google yourself on a daily to see who is talking about you.
Tell you what, I will make it up to you. I would like to hire you to paint a few rooms in my house. Maybe even the outside of the house. I would like to specify colors, and that they be put on in two unified coats.
The outside is more challenging as there will be two colors. There is scrapping and painting involved as well. I think you can handle it. The amount this would help me out is "unlanguaged".

Anonymous said...

Mr. Luschek, you are not the first painter to be resentful of my success. My suggestion to you is to buy a good bottle of wine, perhaps you could borrow the money for it, and drink it while thinking about what you could paint that might interest someone.
Good luck.
Joseph Marioni

Richard J. Luschek II said...

OK, could you please send me some money so I can buy a bottle of wine, actually a case of wine would be better. My address is on my website. A check or money order is fine.

I think that you are right, lots of alcohol might open up my creative side.

HULK said...

Methinks both Joseph and Richard Google themselves on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Luscek, I'm afraid I can not purchase this wine for you because you have not been kind to me. I don't imagine many people buy you things.
Just purchase something inexpensive. I think anything will help.
Joseph Marioni

Jeffrey Collins: Painter said...

Too bad you didn't get to see the actual show, as it was quite amazing. Only in person can one really grasp the fullness of Josephs paintings.

And I too have heard comments like he would be a great house painter...even from people I know, but they are mostly the ones who do not understand Art and would never take the time to understand Art or Painting. Marioni's paintings are something to take in, just like he said, a nice bottle of wine. You don't drink the thing like a bottle of beer, you let it flow over the tongue and down the throat, enjoying every sip of it.

I believe I have said my peace. Enjoy the book, there are plenty others that are much better. I recommend the catalogue from the Rose Art Museum. Wonderful catalogue of Josephs.


Richard J. Luschek II said...

I have seen a Marioni in person.
If this is "Art" then I guess I don't understand it, nor do I care to. I do not plan on reading books with a single word in them either. What I am attracted to is truth. I think great painting has truth. A single color, no matter how much thought, work (multiple layers), and pompous heady theory is put into it, is still one color.
One note of music is not interesting, no matter how well it is played. To compose a symphony with that note, and a few other is what can make art- though even that doesn't always work. As painters, our job is to visually communicate something pleasing and beautiful. If you have to write a book of theory to explain it, you have failed in the job- I will say it again, Visual Communication. So, to blame the viewer for not understanding "Art or Painting" is a pretty arrogant thing to do, but it is all about ego when it comes to this kind of work isn't it? I am not a fan of Rothko, but at least he was able to arrange 3 or more colors into a pleasing arrangement.
Maybe I need to adjust my thinking. I am going to go drink a 24 case of Bud light and look at his work again.

Cameron said...

You really wrote something funny, amusing, and true up there. I had to laugh and laugh and laugh. Unfortunately for us, Richard, the "arts for arts sake" artists like Marioni and traditional artists like us are put into the same category. Clearly, we are not in the same category. These two wildly different worlds will never meet, as far as I can see, and trying to argue the faults of one world with the standards of the other world will only be an exercise in frustration for the person who tries to do it. Both worlds are here and both worlds are here to stay, yours and Marioni's. My advice to you is to do what Paul used to say: "Play the field and not the man", or in other words, focus on your own work and do not stress out about what Marioni is doing. If your work has worth, it will hold up over time. If Marioni's work doesn't, it will fade into obscurity.

---Cameron Bennett

chuck said...

Wow! Richard, you are right on. It's time the public stood up and against such baloney. As my father would say, " don't piss down my leg and tell me It's raining." Art has suffered long enough with this snake oil mentality. Let's get back to creating art that says something without a great writer to explain it.