From the journal of Steven H. Cullinane
ART WARS August 15, 2003:
A mini-exhibit in memory
Kirk Varnedoe, Museum
of Modern Art curator,
who died on Thursday, August 14,
The following journal entries were written
heard of Varnedoe's death.
For related material, see
ART WARS: Geometry as Conceptual Art
and A Thorny Crown of Ideas.
Friday, August 15, 2003 3:30 PM
The Boys from Brazil
It turns out that the elementary half-square designs used in Diamond Theory
also appear in the work of artist Nicole Sigaud.
Sigaud's website The ANACOM
Project has a page that
leads to the artist Athos
Bulcão, famous for his work in Brasilia.
From the document
Art in an
Authoritarian Political Context:
by Angélica Madeira:
"Athos created unique visual plans, tiles of high poetic significance, icons
inseparable from the city."
As Sigaud notes, two-color diagonally-divided squares play a large part in
the art of Bulcão.
The title of Madeira's article, and the remarks of Anna Chave on the
relationship of conceptual/minimalist art to fascist rhetoric (see my May 9, 2003, entries* ), suggest possible illustrations for a more
politicized version of Diamond
Aug. 15, 2003
These illustrations were suggested in part by the fact
that today is the anniversary of the death of Macbeth, King of Scotland,
and in part by the following illustrations from my journal entries of July 13, 2003 comparing a MOMA
curator to Lady Macbeth:
* May 9
entries are reproduced below.
Religion of Cubism
In the dome of the Capitol at Washington, DC, a painting
depicts The Apotheosis of Washington.
Personally, I prefer the following pair of pictures, which might be
titled Apotheosis of the Cube.
A New York Times article says Tony Smith's
instructions for fabricating Die were as follows:
"a six-foot cube of quarter-inch hot-rolled steel with
diagonal internal bracing."
The transparent cube in the upper picture above shows
the internal diagonals. The fact that there are four of these
may be used to demonstrate the isomorphism of the group of rotations
of the cube with the group of permutations on an arbitrary set of
four elements. For deeper results, see Diamond
For an explanation of why our current president might
feel that the cube deserves an apotheosis, see the
previous entry, "The Rhetoric of Power."
See, too, Nabokov's Transparent
"Its ultimate vision was the incandescence of a book
or a box grown completely transparent and hollow. This is, I
believe, it: not the crude anguish of physical death but the
incomparable pangs of the mysterious mental maneuver needed to pass
from one state of being to another. Easy, you know, does it,
The Rhetoric of Power:
meditation for Mental Health Month
From "Secondary Structures," by Tom Moody, Sculpture
Magazine, June 2000:
"By the early ’90s, the perception of Minimalism as a 'pure' art
untouched by history lay in tatters. The coup de grâce
against the movement came not from an artwork, however, but from a
text. Shortly after the removal of Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc
from New York City’s Federal Plaza, Harvard art historian Anna Chave
published 'Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power' (Arts Magazine,
January 1990), a rousing attack on the boys’ club that stops just
short of a full-blown ad hominem rant. Analyzing artworks (Walter de
Maria’s aluminum swastika, Morris’s 'carceral images,' Flavin’s
phallic 'hot rods'), critical vocabulary (Morris’s use of 'intimacy'
as a negative, Judd’s incantatory use of the word 'powerful'), even
titles (Frank Stella’s National Socialist-tinged Arbeit Macht
Frei and Reichstag), Chave highlights the disturbing
undercurrents of hypermasculinity and social control beneath
Minimalism’s bland exterior. Seeing it through the eyes of the
ordinary viewer, she concludes that 'what [most] disturbs [the
public at large] about Minimalist art may be what disturbs them
about their own lives and times, as the face it projects is
society’s blankest, steeliest face; the impersonal face of
technology, industry and commerce; the unyielding face of the
father: a face that is usually far more attractively masked.' ”
From Maureen Dowd's New York Times column of June 9,
"The shape of the government is not as important as the policy of
the government. If he makes the policy aggressive and pre-emptive,
the president can conduct the war on terror from the National
Gallery of Art."
From the New York Times,
Friday, May 2,
The National Gallery of Art in Washington has
just acquired Tony Smith's first steel sculpture: "Die,"
created in 1962 and fabricated in 1968.
"It's a seminal icon of postwar American art,"
said Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery.
From a New York Times obituary,
Friday, May 2, 2003:
by Ari L. Goldman
Paul Moore Jr., the retired Episcopal bishop
of New York who for more than a decade was the most formidable
liberal Christian voice in the city, died yesterday at home in
Greenwich Village. He was 83....
Bishop Moore argued for his agenda in the most
Christian of terms, refusing to cede Biblical language to the
Christian right. Although he retired as bishop in 1989, he
continued to speak out, taking to the pulpit of his former
church as recently as March 24, even as illness overtook him,
to protest the war in Iraq.
"It appears we have two types of religion
here," the bishop said, aiming his sharpest barbs at President
Bush. "One is a solitary Texas politician who says, `I talk to
Jesus, and I am right.' The other involves millions of people
of all faiths who disagree."
He added: "I think it is terrifying. I believe
it will lead to a terrible crack in the whole culture as we
have come to know it."....
[In reference to another question] Bishop
Moore later acknowledged that his rhetoric was strong, but
added, "In this city you have to speak strongly to be
Paul Moore's early life does not immediately
suggest an affinity for the kinds of social issues that he
would later champion.... His grandfather was one of the
founders of Bankers Trust. His father was a good friend of
Senator Prescott Bush, whose son, George H. W. Bush, and
grandson, George W. Bush, would become United States
Related material (update of May 12, 2003):
- Pilate, Truth, and Friday the Thirteenth
- The Diamond Theory of
- Understanding: On Death and Truth
Which of the two theories of truth in reading (2) above is
exemplified by Moore's March 24 remarks?6:30 pm
Thursday, August 14, 2003 3:45
Famous Last Words
The ending of an Aug. 14 Salon.com
article on Mel Gibson's new film, "The Passion":
" 'The Passion' will most likely offer up the familiar puerile, stereotypical
view of the evil Jew calling for Jesus' blood and the clueless Pilate begging
him to reconsider. It is a view guaranteed to stir anew the passions of the
rabid Christian, and one that will send the Jews scurrying back to the dark
corners of history."
-- Christopher Orlet
"Scurrying"?! The ghost of Joseph Goebbels, who famously portrayed
Jews as sewer rats doing just that, must be laughing -- perhaps along with the
ghost of Lady
Diana Mosley (née Mitford), who died Monday.
This goes well with a story that Orlet tells at his website:
"... to me, the most genuine last words are those that arise naturally from
the moment, such as
Voltaire's response to a request that he foreswear Satan: 'This is no time to
make new enemies.' "
For a view of Satan as an old, familiar, acquaintance, see the link to
Prince Ombra in my entry last October 29 for Goebbels's
Wednesday, August 13, 2003 3:00 PM
For some reflections inspired in part by