Entries from October 2007

Abstract Expressionism and the Making of a Heroic Art: Outlines

October 22nd, 2007 · 4 Comments

My week 9 presentation Abstract Expressionism and the Making of a Heroic Art documents Greenberg’s assertion of the all-american machismo of Abstract Expressionist or “American-Type” painting in his 1955 article “‘American-Type’ Painting” as well as the repercussions this had on the female artists associated with the New York School, exemplified by Lee Krasner’s struggle with her engendered artistic identity as “Mrs. Jackson Pollock” in Anne M. Wagner’s “Lee Krasner as L.K.”
Mrs. Jackson Pollock?

Outline: Lee Krasner as L.K.

Outline: ‘American-Type’ Paintings

Tags: Art · ARTH460 · Women and Art

Heroes and Housewives: The Language of Kitsch

October 22nd, 2007 · 1 Comment

Jasper Johns’s subtle manifesto Painting With Two Balls (1960)

The most interesting findings of my research to date for my “Gender and Kitsch” paper have been, surprisingly, more connected to vocabulary than painting. While women were, at different times, admitted to the highest circles of Greenbergian painting, the language used to discuss those that were and those that weren’t was uniformly tied to gender. For instance, the male Abstract Expressionists are invariably depicted as archetypal struggling artists, supported by the workaday wages of their wives, while all women attempting the same effort were described as housewives or hobbyists. (Janet Sobel, a female painter from Long Island in the 1940’s served as the primary inspiration to Jackson Pollock’s distinctive mark, and yet, was disregarded as a housewife). Meanwhile, even the Abstract Expressionist women artists such as Helen Frankenthaler were labeled second generation Abstract Expressionists even when their work premiered at the same time as some “First Generation” male painters. Similarly, in a husband-and-wife painter exhibition, the women were described as “tidying up” their husbands work.

The smoking gun, however, is in Greenberg and Rosenberg’s writings, where the former defined the feminine as the tendency to employ the elements of great art for practical uses, essentially his definition of kitsch, and the latter derided the pop artists for being afraid of a “masculine” struggle.

The painter Jasper Johns, perhaps Rosenberg’s arch-nemesis, in turn retaliated with the wonderfully tongue-and-cheek Painting With Two Balls, which satarized the gender roles of Greenbergian art while committing all of the mortal sins: corrupting abstraction, including words, employing symbolism (and in a vulgar way!) and most of all, denying the messiah of painting, flatness.

Tags: Art · ARTH460 · Women and Art

Caravaggio: Evil Genius

October 21st, 2007 · Comments Off on Caravaggio: Evil Genius

As many of you know, this semester I have based my Individual Study in painting off of the work of Italian baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, who was described by Spanish painter Vincenzo Carducho in 1630 as an “evil genius, who worked naturally, almost without precepts, without doctrine, without study, but only with the strength of his talent, and nothing but nature before him, which he simply copied in his amazing way.”¹

Self Portrait, with nostrils
So far this semester, most of my time has been spent exhaustively researching the unfathomable laziness of Caravaggio’s working technique (in hopes of learning from the master). Which meant that, besides venturing out briefly to paparazzi UMW faculty, I had to spend my fall break holed up in a Daniel street studio coaxing the beginnings out of a big ol’ painting,² (also churning out this purdy little test) in time for this Thursday’s Forum on Undergraduate Research.

So, if you’re curious to learn about Caravaggio’s unorthodox use of egg tempera (or just want to see my nostrils projected at a massive scale), come to the Department of Art and Art History’s Forum on Undergraduate Research on October 25 at 5 PM in Melchers 107.


the ever unflattering Roblog


¹ Evil genius? Man, if anyone ever described me that way, I’d put it on my business cards.

² So what’s in this big painting you ask? Well…Nascar…tiki torch fuel…I’ve said too much already.

Tags: Art · caravaggio · Individual Study Painting

Where in the World is Jim Groom?: National Folk Festival

October 15th, 2007 · 6 Comments

a fella on the 5 string banjo at the National Folk FestivalWhen me and the little lady attended the National Folk Festival in Richmond this weekend, while watching the inimitable Campbell family band―featuring Mary Washington’s own Molly Campbell on mandolin (and a studio art major no less)―…

The Campbell Family Band

…we had a rare Jim Groom sighting. (Always the consummate professional, he was wearing a WordPress shirt to keep UMWblogs close to his heart even while recreating):

Jim Groom, the consummate professional, wearing a WordPress shirt to keep umwblogs close to his heart even while recreating.

Other highlights of the festivities include:

a little impromptu old time

Phil Wiggins teaches a childrens workshop on the harmonica

Bluesman Phil Wiggins of the piedmont blues band Cephas and Wiggins leads a children’s harmonica workshop.

Linda Lay and company sing bluegrass

Linda Lay on the autoharp for a bluegrass rendition of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

More photos:

A crane on the JamesSome beautiful ground artThe Jerry Grcevich Tamburitza OrchestraThere were a lot of banjosThe fiddlin’ really brought out the crowds

Until next time,



(While it is true that this post is of questionable academic value to my art/poetry blog, it does feature Guatemalan folk art, piedmont blues, and of course, Jim Groom.)

Tags: jim groom sightings · music · Richmond

The Biennale and ARTS 474

October 9th, 2007 · Comments Off on The Biennale and ARTS 474

Documenta, photo: New York TimesMonday’s Professional Practices class attended VCU’s symposium on the 52nd Venice Biennale, Documenta 12 and the 4th Sculpture Projects Munster, which included a raging debate on the relevance of left-leaning political art and the weird power vacuums involved in curating massive, major exhibitions (pitch black exhibition spaces? really?). Afterwards, I brought up some of the larger criticisms of Robert Storr, and kept mumbling things about a New Yorker review on the subject, which is located here if anybody is curious or wants to get all prepped for next Wednesday’s discussion.

Now if only I can track down all the controversial Felix Gonzales-Torres selection theories that were floating around these wild internets ’bout a year ago at this time…¹

Until then,



¹…there were an awful lot of dead artists presented. Coincidence? Deliberate choice? Evidence of a vast, elaborately concealed artist killing conspiracy? You decide, next time on Roblog!

Tags: Art · Art Exhibitions · ARTS 474