January 20, 2023

First Contact with ChatGPT

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Ok then.

I decided to ask the AI about a lingering question I had after seeing the Met's exhibition, Cubism and the Trompe l'Oeil Tradition

Q:   How did the Cubists know so much about trompe l'oeil?

A:   The Cubists, including artists such as Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, were influenced by the technique of trompe l'oeil (which means "fool the eye" in French) in their work. Trompe l'oeil is a technique in which an artist creates the illusion of depth and three-dimensionality on a flat surface, often through the use of realistic details and shading.

The Cubists were likely familiar with the technique of trompe l'oeil through their study of the works of earlier artists such as Jan van Eyck and Jan Vermeer, who were known for their highly detailed and realistic paintings. Additionally, the Cubists were also influenced by the work of the 19th-century French painter, Édouard Manet, who was known for his use of trompe l'oeil elements in his paintings.

Cubism, as an art movement, was heavily influenced by the idea of representing multiple viewpoints in a single painting. Trompe l'oeil, which creates the illusion of depth, was a way to represent the subject in a way that showed multiple viewpoints all at once. This idea of creating a new way of seeing and representing the world was also influenced by the advent of photography and the way that it changed the way we see the world.

The Cubists also had an interest in the concept of representation, and the ways in which art can depict the world. They were interested in pushing the boundaries of traditional representation, and trompe l'oeil technique allowed them to play with the viewer's perception of reality.

Overall, the Cubists' knowledge of trompe l'oeil was likely a result of their study of the works of earlier artists, as well as their interest in pushing the boundaries of traditional representation.

Q:   What evidence do we have of the Cubists' knowledge of earlier trompe l'oeil art works?

A:   There is evidence to suggest that the Cubists, particularly Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, were familiar with and influenced by the technique of trompe l'oeil in the works of earlier artists.

One example of this is the influence of the 15th century Flemish painters, such as Jan van Eyck and Jan Vermeer, on the Cubists. Both van Eyck and Vermeer were known for their highly detailed and realistic paintings, which often employed trompe l'oeil techniques to create the illusion of depth and three-dimensionality on a flat surface. The Cubists would have been exposed to these painters' work through exhibitions, art history books, and reproductions.

Another example is the influence of the 19th century French painter Édouard Manet on the Cubists. Manet's painting techniques and use of trompe l'oeil elements in his paintings, such as the use of light and shadow to create the illusion of depth, were highly admired by the Cubists.

Additionally, the Cubists' own works also provide evidence of their knowledge of trompe l'oeil techniques. For example, in Picasso's painting "Still Life with Chair Caning" (1912), the artist used trompe l'oeil elements, such as the illusion of a woven chair seat, to create a sense of depth and realism. In Georges Braque's "Violin and Palette" (1909-1910) the artist creates a sense of depth by using trompe l'oeil technique to make the palette and the violin look as if they are on top of the tablecloth.

Overall, the influence of earlier trompe l'oeil techniques can be seen in the works of the Cubists through their clear references, influences and incorporation of those techniques in their own paintings.

Q:   Your answer "...trompe l'oeil techniques to create the illusion of depth and three-dimensionality on a flat surface." is not precise. Trompe l'oeil simultaneously creates and subverts the illusion of depth and three-dimensionality on flat surfaces. Please try to answer my question as to how the Cubists derived their knowledge of trompe l'oeil painting.

A:  You are correct that the goal of trompe l'oeil is to create the illusion of depth and three-dimensionality on a flat surface while also subverting this illusion and drawing attention to the flatness of the painting surface.

To answer your question, the Cubists, particularly Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, were influenced by the technique of trompe l'oeil in their work by studying the works of earlier artists who used this technique. One of the main influences was the 15th century Flemish painters, such as Jan van Eyck and Jan Vermeer, who were known for their highly detailed and realistic paintings that employed trompe l'oeil techniques. The Cubists would have been exposed to these painters' work through exhibitions, art history books, and reproductions. They would have studied the techniques used by these artists to create the illusion of depth and three-dimensionality on a flat surface, and they would have learned how to subvert the illusion to draw attention to the flatness of the painting surface.

Another important influence on the Cubists was the 19th century French painter Édouard Manet, who was known for his use of trompe l'oeil elements in his paintings. Manet's painting techniques and use of trompe l'oeil elements, such as the use of light and shadow to create the illusion of depth, were highly admired by the Cubists.

Cubists also had an interest in the concept of representation, and the ways in which art can depict the world. They were interested in pushing the boundaries of traditional representation, and trompe l'oeil technique allowed them to play with the viewer's perception of reality and subvert it.

Overall, the Cubists' knowledge of trompe l'oeil was a result of their study of the works of earlier artists, as well as their interest in pushing the boundaries of traditional representation and subverting the viewer's perception of reality.

Q:   Is there a historical record of Cubist artists conversations regarding trompe l'oeil?

A:   While there is no direct historical record of specific conversations that Cubist artists, such as Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, had regarding trompe l'oeil, there is evidence that they were familiar with and influenced by the technique through their own writings and statements, as well as through the analysis of their works.

For example, Picasso and Braque's own works provide evidence of their knowledge of trompe l'oeil techniques. In Picasso's painting "Still Life with Chair Caning" (1912), the artist used trompe l'oeil elements, such as the illusion of a woven chair seat, to create a sense of depth and realism. In Georges Braque's "Violin and Palette" (1909-1910) the artist creates a sense of depth by using trompe l'oeil technique to make the palette and the violin look as if they are on top of the tablecloth.

There are also statements and writings by the artists that provide insight into their understanding of trompe l'oeil and its role in their work. For example, Picasso's statement "Art is a lie that makes us realize truth" suggest his interest in subverting reality and creating illusions through his art, something that is in line with the principles of trompe l'oeil.

Furthermore, there are also several art historian's and critic's analysis of the Cubist works that point to their knowledge and use of trompe l'oeil. These analysis often cite the similarities between the Cubist works and the works of earlier artists who used trompe l'oeil techniques such as Van Eyck and Vermeer, as well as the use of techniques such as the use of light and shadow to create the illusion of depth, as evidence of the cubist's knowledge of trompe l'oeil.

In summary, while there isn't a historical record of specific conversations between Cubist artists regarding trompe l'oeil, there is evidence of their knowledge and use of the technique through their works, statements and writings, and analysis of their works by art historians and critics.


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Conclusion:

1) ChatGPT did not pass the Turing Test.
2) Jan van Eyck, Jan Vermeer and Édouard Manet were not trompe l'oeil painters.
3) I was looking for links to historical records of conversations, or recollections thereof between painters of that generation about the subject of trompe l'oeil.
No joy.
4) The citation of Picasso's "Lie > Truth" was spot on. Nice connection.
5) It's evident to me that the AI is faking it to make it. Kind of human, if you think about it.

Posted by Dennis at 11:16 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2023

Matisse & Modigliani: Trip to Philly (with Steve Shane)

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Steve Shane texted. Steve said let's go to Philly. It will be fun, he said... (see Note #2) It was indeed fun. Steve reminds me of Henry Taylor, watching him chat people up, almost like he's flirting with them. Henry and Steve, both very loving guys.

Links:
Last Chance: Matisse and Modigliani in Philadelphia
Philadelphia Museum of Art: Matisse in the 1930's
Barnes Foundation: Modigliani Up Close


Matisse
  • The storyline: Matisse was in a funk, a slump, he was tired of doing the same old thing ad nauseum. Then Dr Barnes asked him to paint a mural for his house in Philly. This opened the constraints of frame/stretcher, subject/background and paint/tool of delivery.
  • The facture of a mercenary: he would do whatever it takes. Paint with (the same) brush. Paint on paper. Paint with palette knives, scrape scrape scrape... he flipped the brush and scratched into wet paint with the tip of the handle, scratch scratch scratch. Look at these lips, for example. We can almost count the number of touches of the tip of his palette knife.
  • The composing mercenary: In a single painting, over several paintings (Large Reclining Nude, 1935), Matisse was working out both compositional problems and a refinement of motif. Outside of the singular canvas, Matisse used collage with custom colored paper, pinned for flexibility.
  • Drawing and color fill everywhere in both shows, both artists Matisse and Modigliani. Drawing and color fill, a legacy of Classicism? It wouldn't be until... DeKooning (?) that painting breaks free of drawing & color fill. (?). This is the descriptive function.
  • Refinement of image via drawing. The model was a pretext for icon development. This was illustrated in the exhibition with his collaboration with the Mallarmé book project. This then could be seen in other works.
  • Breaking free of the temporal subject towards the eternal one. (See images below)
  • Check out how Matisse documented the development of his painting process. He wanted people to see his decision tree.
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    Modigliani
  • (Researching Modigliani, brushing up on his bio.) Why does Rick James come to mind? Specifically, why does Chapelle's Rick James come to mind? Lover man? Funny man? Hard man? Hiding man? He was simultaneously charming, cryptic, edgy, cutting, solicitous, oracular, self destructive...
  • Modigliani, the outlier. Of, but not within the Post Impressionist ambit. Overtones of illustration. Drawing & color fill all the time. An illustrator that owes his roots to early Renaissance religious devotional painting., pre and para civilizational art.
  • The influence of African "Primitive" Art was really the influence of antiquity, an anchoring counter narrative to a Utopian Modernism. Counter weight. The Post Impressionists and associated cohorts weren't singularly focused on a modern utopia, as opposed to the Futurists, for example. The Classical container broke open and all sources from all histories and cultures were available for productive motivation.
  • The eyes, the famous Modigliani eyes. 1. Apparently, Modigliani said (paraphrasing) that with one eye you see the world and in the other eye you see into the mind. More than one of his self portraits attests to this conviction. 2. Painting is drawn into an equivalence to sculpture. This thought struck when I saw a subject of his in profile. (He lost the plot a bit in my opinion.) Therefore, it's not surprising to me to see that Modigliani kept rigorously to the frontal poses of his subjects. The tie between the two mediums sculpture and painting was a voluntary constraint.
  • Both Matisse and Modigliani were artists focused on the sensual. The voluptuousness issued from a man's POV and the widespread appreciation of both artists' works bridges the sexes.
  • Matisse was about the languor of the idyllic and Modigliani was about the invigoration of suffering. While I'm sure of the former characterization, I admit that I'm taking some risk with the latter. Modigliani certainly knew he would die young. Much of his youth was spent convalescing. He knew that he had tuberculosis, a communicable disease, in a non trivial way similar to AIDS. He hid his condition. I think we can see this in how he laid his paint down on canvas.
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    Note 1: Steve Shane is an OG collector based in NYC. I've been blessed to have works in his collection.
    Note 2: The knees. Some of Amtrak's trains are strangely designed. Very social, though.

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    Posted by Dennis at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

    Art, the Problem

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  • The word Art, given its multiple valence, is taken for granted.
  • Art is usually taken as a positive quality, the product of creativity. This is not necessarily so. Art can be good or bad. Creativity can be strong or weak. This is a source of much confusion. This is a place that scoundrels hide.
  • The use of Art to quality disciplines indicates an arena of operation outside of the rational structure of a discipline, an intuitive maneuver outside, within and between existing logical framework. Skill plus imagination, this the basis of all dictionary definitions. The Art of War. Architecture is considered a synthesis of art and science. The art of medicine.
  • The phrase "a term of art" is about the use of language specific to a discipline. It is about the nuance pertaining to a field or trade.
  • The term Fine Art distinguishes Art from art. This is about creative activity explicated via media from gross to subtle. Fine Art is the ambition towards the best in art.
  • Art also indicates cunning. Artfulness is associated with deceit. Guile, trickery, wiliness. Not all uses of artful cunning is about theft... consider another dimension concerning the idea of the Art of War. It is for no small reason that Odysseus is known as the great artificer. Deception is the foundation of battle. Stratagem. Combatants create patterns and break patterns, this is how traps are made, how war is won.
  • Artifice can be an indication of bad art, the reliance on clever or cunning devices within prevailing cultural codes. Shtick. Gimmick. Things get complicated when bad art is used to make good art. Meta. The hall of mirrors.
  • Posted by Dennis at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

    realm of the muse

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    realm of the muse
    2022
    #618
    18" x 12"
    Oil and Acrylic on Canvas over Wood Panel

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    Posted by Dennis at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

    January 7, 2023

    2023

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    Posted by Dennis at 9:42 PM | Comments (0)

    Notes on Cezanne

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    Cezanne at the Tate Modern:

  • In the first paragraph of the introduction in the little booklet for the exhibition, the writer suggests that the Impressionists were passive and Cezanne was active "...By approaching painting as a process and investigation where uncertainty plays an integral role...". Whereas the former was a camera, the latter was a discerning... apparatus? (aka ...human?) Or was Cezanne more of an Impressionist in that he cranked up the discernment? I think what was remarkable in his painting was that he snapped onto the quanta in the pictorial field he represented. What I mean is that his images were assembled analyzed bits. Corpuscular. This is what perhaps the Cubists saw in him, the mainspring inspiration for their work. Cezanne's bits were influenced by Pointillism, perhaps? Fatter, refracted Pointillism?
  • The "ballsy painter", a quote attributed to the artist. Cezanne thought so, so others thought so. Youthful over self confidence? Courbet's L'Origine du monde was painted in 1866, roughly contemporaneous with Cezanne's socio-political paintings. Ballsier or not?
  • Incidentally, also at the same time Cezanne was producing provocative political themes, he was adapting Classical motifs drawn from visits to museums and de-mythologizing the figuration for a secular audience.
  • Curiously, two aspects about how Cezanne derived his motifs: 1) he was too shy to hire live models, so he instead adapted (appropriation? perhaps not) the figuration found in museum collections... the impact of which was that he bluntly schematized (abstracted?) his figures and 2) he was omnivorous about where he found his figural motifs, not only from the academy (He was a fan of Delacroix so it was said) but also from commercial illustration (champagne labels, magazine illustrations, lithographic fashion plates.)
  • Without Émile Zola, where would he have landed? At age 13, they met in their hometown at Aix-en-Provence (was this the quinto pino, the sticks of France?). Thirteen! Nine years later Zola moves to Paris, he embarked on a road to stardom and during this process, invited Cezanne to join him there and meet his circle of talented friends. Boom. Off to the races.
  • Pissarro's influence, was linked to the famous Cezanne hash mark. How? I web search and find this. A snip: "It is in us that beauty exists and not outside us." I refer back to the first bullet point above: the artist-as-camera was a feeling camera. This is what Van Gogh probably took from them. Sensation was broken down to bits, sensation was not only of what was outside the iris but also the of feeling behind it.
  • Was the Cezanne oeuvre a sequential series of sublimations? For example, was his focus on Mont Saints-Victoire (works completed between 1882-1906) a sublimation of works involving the theme focused on bathers such as "The Battle of Love" (1879-80) and his "Bathers" (1875).
  • The artist's artist validation: citations of Henry Moore, Picasso, Matisse, & Jasper Johns. What were they looking at? Sensibility, I think it was. Tears, wetting the trembling, loaded brush.
  • The last line of the Cezanne Ey Exhibition Tate London booklet: Cezanne "...bridged tradition and modernity." Has this value endured to this day? That is, why is it that no one cares about bridging anymore? We are all a shambles of division nowadays.
  • The image headlining this post: a shot of Cezanne's studio. Note the cross. See the end of this post, click on related link #2.
  • Posted by Dennis at 4:19 PM | Comments (1)

    Notes on Lucien Freud

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    (Collage: Lucien Freud early, middle and late styles.)

    Lucian Freud at the National Gallery
    • Gazing at his early paintings (circa 1947), other artists float to my mind: Ben Shawn in the eyes and faces, Andrew Wyeth in the hair of 'Girl with a Kitten', Georgia O'Keffe in the bottom left corner of 'Girl with Roses', when I see his treatment of hair I think of Art Deco. At that time in his life, it was all about the edges.
    • Lucian Freud's early oil painting resembles tempera or gouache. Very thinned out. Dry. Lots of solvent, his studio must have been fragrant.
    • At what year did he go thick, fleshy? There was a transition from illustration to "fine art".
    • Lucian Freud painted thick fleshed faces, paint moved fat and hard with big brushes, quick attacks spending material fast. Reminds me of the faces of early Cezanne and Van Gogh's "Potato Eaters".
    • The power of the portraitist: such a painter has an advantage of anchoring fast into social circles. Abstract painters have no such advantage. People like having their portraits done. If they are paying for them, they expect a likeness. If they are not paying for them, if a "known artist" asks for a sitting, people are usually thankful to be memorialized into art history. Social circles can expand, social power is communicative. Embedment. Art-qua-art sneaks in the wake of who-knows-who.
    • More power: of the artist over the subject. Nudes spreading legs, the secret face revealed. Divulgement. Submission, both model to artist and artist to model? Caché of the dare. Truth or Dare.
    • Impasto to render flesh, of wet over dry via multiple layers and iterations. Encrustations. Obsession, compulsion? He followed the highlights on the topography of flesh as in a racecourse, over and over agin, round and round... a slow race it was since a portrait could cost around forty sittings over six months. Multiple passes conjuring flesh. Rembrandt. With each sitting, Freud's activity must necessarily be confined to a narrow action of the highlights. What had changed session after session? Freud controlled the pose with chalk marks where the chair legs touched the floor, the record of the previous session, the time of the encounters. As he caked paint over and over over nose, cheek and brow, what changes did he record? Psychological changes? No, that layup is way too easy.nWhat was it, then?
    • Evenness of tonality in Freud's oeuvre: the result of the famous London (blueish-grey) sky?
    • Facial caricature falls off in later years... or does the portrayed self change? (Quoting myself: "every portrait is a self portrait.") The whole body too, is a portrait, equal to and as informative as a face.
    • Note regarding the last photo mural on the bookstore wall, snapped from Freud's studio wherein he scraped off his palette and slathered the meaty leftovers of paint onto the wall. This happened at the end of the session, when he and his subject deployed for dinner. Leftovers before dinner! A celebration? A kind of clock, marker of time. Accretion. Tree rings. Lucian Freud's only abstract painting? Fire and forget. Remember, he deliberately left it there. A testament of something specific? Better, in my opinion, than the abstraction that he represented in the background of 'Self-portrait (Reflection)', 2002.

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      Posted by Dennis at 2:02 PM | Comments (0)

    On Writing

    A quick note about how I'm starting to default, pertaining to writing in this weblog with notations:

    I enjoy writing. I've been told that I'm a good writer. When I am told that my writing is good, I blush and think that I have a very long way to go to be considered a good writer. When I am told that I am a good writer, I thank the kind person for the compliment and shut up about my self doubt about the matter.

    I think sometimes that I could be a writer if I applied myself to the art. This involves time, of course. I don't have the time. I' have heard/read elsewhere that writing is really editing. This blog is largely a compilation of first drafts. Therefore, this isn't writing and I am not a writer.

    The general process of *writing* for me is to jot notes as the thoughts arise as quickly as possible. Before, I would settle down and try to cohere the notes into something resembling an essay. Regardless of the length of the piece, this is an absorbing task for me, a task that eventually rivals the time I need for painting and associated studio activity. If editing is writing, then writing is a bottomless well. Every time I review an essay, I see new mistakes, new phrasing that can be polished, new architecture.   Every.   Time.   Therefore, pressing the "publish" button is settling for a potential "lesser" edit. If I drilled down on my writing, I would be jeopardizing my time for painting. Painting requires chops. Chops requires time. If writing threatens painting, painting would slit its throat and hold it down until it bleeds out.

    [Maybe that last bit was too much? Well, this is a first draft, after all. *shrug*]

    For the past several years, I've relied on the Notes App to compile my thoughts. I've labeled a category of notes as "BLOGSAC". Lately, I have started to use the checklist function to bullet point the thoughts into some kind of rudimentary shape. Usually, I'm on the subway on the way to my studio. Recently, I'm starting to conclude that short of becoming a real writer, I can simply post the notes. With a minimal amount of editing, this might suffice. So, this is the plan going forward. After all, it's the ideas that count the most. And for me, ideation cascades like waterfall.

    ***

    Another thought arises as I write this, one to the contrary to all I wrote above.

    Before the Information Age -a fancy term meaning before computers- in my youth and for centuries before, people wrote in longhand on paper. People wrote letters and one had to gird their loins before ink met paper. A person's mind had to summon the totality of their thought and in a more Classical Epoch, the structure of their thought had to conform to an order of beginning, middle and end.

    Even within the fragment of a checklist, an idea has to present itself and tributary thoughts stream out from the source in lesser and lesser rivulets. So even in your humble author's lesser fingertips, a fragment of classicism remains, even within a bullet point. Maybe, just maybe, I see the glint of the possibility of reclaiming an old skill that was just about to wither on the vine, the neural vine of my mind, on a laptop... or the thumb pad of a cell phone. Maybe by restricting myself to first drafts, I can gird my loins once again and make the digital act like ink drying on paper.

    Posted by Dennis at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)