Monday, September 01, 2014

another repeat. continuing

Cindy Sherman is the most openly, explicitly, misogynist female artist since Alice Neel.

Untitled #229, 1994/ Nancy and Olivia, 1967

I'd forgotten about Lisa Yuskavage.
Neel also was contemptuous of women, but not of herself. There's a tragic element to Sherman's work, which at its worst, recently, reaches down to Yuskavage's level of merely pathetic.

The above is less unfair than unclear. And it was written in response to Sherman's MoMA retrospective but before the show at Metro. I was also probably in a bad mood at the time.

Sherman's newest work is both cinematic and static, less aping filmic imagery -the film stills always annoyed me- than returning as it were for the first time to late narrative painting, the cinematic Goya of the Black Paintings, and from there to Howard Hawks, John Ford, and Lars von Trier, or maybe the reverse, from von Trier to Goya. The questions haven't changed since Goya's time: how or whether to make a "high" art in a democratic or even nascent democratic culture, and how it can be any more than high design and refined pleasure, an art that leaves complex moral questions to film (now) and literature. I've written elsewhere that the best and much of the worst of Modernism was representational, the street-grid neo-Platonism of Mondrian's last paintings and Barnett Newman's mannerism being less included than exemplary.

von Trier begins Melancholia with an operatic fashion video -crap a la Ellen von Unwerth- like a filmmaker who tells everyone anytime he can that he always wanted to be a painter; in the context of the rest of the movie it's a brilliant bad joke. Sherman and other artists over the past 30 years have faced the same problem from the other side. If serious filmmakers have to negotiate the desires of a sizable segment of the majority, fine artists have to negotiate the fads and foibles of the oligarchy. Both Sherman and von Trier could be said to have done a good job of managing their various contradictions and allegiances.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment moderation is enabled.