David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

19 May 2013

Incidently, here comes the Golden Guillotine

Yesterday's post started with this image of someone looking at Barnett Newman's Onement VI, 1953, prior to it's New York auction last week.

Two details that we immediately noticed were the lighting+photography, which here affects our perception of/ the appearance of/the colour of the stripe; and the absence of the object's means of support.

Lighting as a crucial variable is currently foregrounded by David Homewood in the catalog of label/descriptions for his exhibition (here)  
Group Exhibition: Artwork Documentation

As for the absence of any visible means of support for Onement VI, that is not something neutral or accidental. Rather, it is the well established High Modernist code for         disconnectedness.        The Thing at a remove.        Art for art's sake/L'art pour l'art/Ars gratia artis          Isolationism.           The Thing In Itself/Ding an sich.

"The high end of the market is quite deep," said Tobias Meyer, head of Sotheby’s contemporary art department worldwide and the event auctioneer, speaking of the number of bidders. "People are very educated; they know what is what."

We note this because we know of the 1961 Alexander Liberman Archive photo of Barnett Newman in his studio, standing with Onement VI suspended by heavy chains.

For the Sotherby's online catalog image (below) this messy world of grime and chains and uneven light has been banished for bland. Now, The Thing self-elevates. Truly Abstract. Free at last, free at last. Even the slim framing surround of wall and floor appears as if a natural extension generated out of the painthing.

A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/  
someone looks at something ...