Dec 8, 2010

Charles McGee, Barnett Newman, Picasso, Chick A. Dee

Here I go again, spouting without a license about subjects I do not know.

One day a friend said about some rather dark poem, “What is the gift of that poem?” My friend knows his poetry; he was not looking for sappy sunlight in every poem, but some new and plausible way of seeing and saying things that are worth reporting. And by the way, to be sure he wasn’t plagiarizing or going off half-cocked, he attributed the notion of Poem as Gift to a professor he’d had.

Since then, I’ve taken the liberty of spreading the idea to parts of poems and, always the daredevil, to all art and other objects of beauty. No gift, no beauty; no beauty, no gift and no truth.

Just to demonstrate my hip open-mindedness, I want to say that I can see, and could argue for, the gift in the first two of these paintings, “Spectral Rhythms” (1970s) by Charles McGee and “Be I” (1970) by Barnett Newman (in spite of its pretentious title).

However, I do not see much gift below in Picasso’s “Girl Reading” (1938). It’s likely I have never seen any Picasso painting as a gift, though he certainly shows us new ways of seeing things, and through that, potentially new ways of “being in the world” (a phrase common in the study of philosophy, I’m told, and I think it's a hugely important concept).

Am I the only one who sees Picasso’s girl as a pig? Yea or nay, how is his transmogrification of her a gift? Is it cruel comedy? Should it alter our perception of all females’ ways of being in the world? My own way of being in the world? The way of being in the world if you're a pig that reads?

What is the value of Picasso’s rendering of this subject, except that it’s new? If a surgeon could attach a hand to the top of her head, a hand with fingers that wiggle, that would also give us a new way to think about girls who read, girls who don’t read, and all humans. Wouldn’t it?

Here is young Fritz Chickadee, Certified Gourmand. With his big orange treat, he's pretty cocky; he's also rather common and quite a flighty guy. His way of being in the world is both everything and nothing like my own, which he invited me to think about. In late November, he was a gift.


Brenda's Arizona said...

Lovely, Banjomyn - just lovely!
How did you answer your friend's question about the gift in that one poem? I would have loved to hear it.

Picasso's pig? Nay.
And if a surgeon attached hand to the top of her head, wiggling fingers and all, wouldn't she look like a rooster?

Lovely to see you back. Have missed you! The final photo of Fritz Chickadee is the best gift of all these...

Jean Spitzer said...

The chickadee's delightful.

I don't see the pig. (Though I can see what makes you see it.)

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Picasso's is a developed language. You can draw a line (pun intended) between his pristine, limited palette and abstract/cubist painting to the development of this language. One that takes advantage of multiple perspectives in his later figurative work. That is 'truth' even if you see the gal as a pig which (mind you) lots of feminist perceived Piccasso to be. A misogynist pig whose hate for women can be seen in the ugliness of his depictions of them. Another "truth" So whose on trial, Truth, Beauty or Picasso?

remember...he was only 5'3" but girls could not resist his stare Personally, I love his bullish break down

BTW: Barnett Newman is the best "go to" guy for pithy quotes. Our version of Oscar Wilde. Bet that title is pretentious for a reason.

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, I think I just kept raving about how much I liked the label. It's one of those ideas you "get" immediately upon hearing, don't you think? I hear "one's way of being in the world" in a similar way, tho' it's probably more nuanced. Great point about the rooster!

Jean, thanks. I didn't want to have to tweak the meds again.

PA, all three? Thanks so much. Good lord, you know a lot of stuff. I must say, I think I understand the argument about P's truth. It's the gift part that's a problem. I see his "truth" as plausible--even as a gift -- except that it's all brain, no heart. Does that hold water as a perspective in art criticism?

Michelle said...

I can see the pig, but really only because of the nostrils. They are just too big!

Jeff M said...

Picasso depicted the true geometry of human movement and feeling. That's why I always enjoy looking at his work.

Anonymous said...

I've always told PA I'd be one who could resist the stare. Oh yes, I could.

Not sure I like the idea that art to be art must be a gift. I don't not like it, so instead, I disagree. And I would be suspect of any artist who thought his or her work was a gift.

I think, creating art, however big however small, is like going through a birth process. You just hope the baby breathes.

Banjo52 said...

PA, the video on PP's stare is . . . a gram of amusement but a big negatory on the convincingness thing. It was fun calling him PP just then. Hadn't thought of that.

AH, me too. The rest is too big an issue for this hour. Maybe tomorrow.

FC, at least there are two of us.

I want a taker on the brain vs. heart topic, re: PP.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Excuse me, a gram? whose being heartless now

btw: replace 5 foot three with six foot three and the hiker would NOT be able to resist his stare. True, have you seen the way she lusts after my Mr V? sickening

Jean Spitzer said...

Plenty of heart and brain and a genius.

Banjo52 said...

AH, I might be turning my response into the next post. Hope you'll stay tuned.

PA, as a provincial from the Midwest, I have not, of course, seen this lusting biz with Mr. V, so I think you should devote a post to the subject.

Brenda's Arizona said...

"Picasso and His Women"is a book by Jean-Paul Crespelle.
”…Just as he kept old matchboxes or pencil stubs, so he kept his old mistresses ready in hand. Just in case…” (Crespelle 11).

Misogynist pig? So the painting is actually a self-portrait?

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, why not? Tho' the girl as pig is still more obvious to me.

Jean or PA, I get the brain and the genius, but can you show me the heart? Maybe a link to something? And I mean heart in his work, not his life.

And we all like Chick A. Dee. I wonder if we're seeking similar things when we go to nature and to art.

Jean Spitzer said...

The best I can suggest is to google Picasso images and scroll around.

When you find something that speaks of "heart" to you, check it out and discover if it was painted by Picasso.

Perhaps the image of Don Quixote?

Banjo52 said...

Jean, sounds like a good plan. I'll do it. Thanks.

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