Low Hive v Craft of Thinking 2/26/10


[Edit to say that I was freeballin' and seemed to assert something that is not how Ken Parille feels - read the comments for clarity if you're feeling masochistic.]


I've been thinking about this post on Blog Flume for a long time.  The focus is on Roy Lichtenstein's lettering, and the idea is that he did a crappy job, that his visual craft wasn't quite up to par with that of the comic book illustrators of the time.  In my mind, that's like saying that Kirby's comics are stupid.  Maybe it's true, but it misses the point.




To me, Pop Art, Minimal Art, Conceptual Art, blah, blah, blah is about the aesthetics of ideas and based on the craft of thinking.  I wanted to say that it is a very satisfying experience for me to ponder the relationship between viewing our lives in romantic terms (where we're the heroes of our narrative, a la Pollock) and viewing ourselves in the superflat moment of consumerist non-transcendence.  More satisfying than looking at 70's Captain America.  But I'm just building another theory, putting people that disagree with me on one side and myself on another.  Or myself now vs. myself in my next blog post.  It doesn't matter what-is-better-art, only each individual instance of being nurtured by this thing or that.  There's not a stable poetics-of-Jason-O.  I was waiting in line for tacos the other day and saw a sketchbook or notebook someone had with drawings of superheroes by the King printed on the cover, and it seemed to sparkle.  But it's so hard for me to think that Ditko is in the same league as Marcel Duchamp.



Roy Lichtenstein sculpture at Portland Art Museum that I really like (images stolen from other blogs)

Comments:

Robert Boyd said...
Marcel Duchamp was better than Steve Ditko. To reach any other conclusion is to embrace anti-intellectualism (which is, in fact, lovingly embraced by many many comics fans). To refuse to make any critical distinction between the two is to abdicate the role or function of the critic or intellectual.
Concluding that Duchamp is a fundamentally more interesting artist than Ditko does not close off the possibility that there is something interesting or pleasurable about Ditko. This isn't March Madness--when one artist "wins," it doesn't mean the other one loses.
FEBRUARY 26, 2010 7:05 PM  
 blaise larmee said...
i feel like anti-intellectualism among comics fans can be traced back to pop art and the 'hi-low collapse'. they were comfortable in their 'low' digs and when things got all shook up they had to deal with someone else's unwanted paradigm mixed in with their own. they feel powerless maybe, because they cannot or refuse to learn the language.
FEBRUARY 26, 2010 7:20 PM  
 Jason Overby said...
I totally agree, Mr. Boyd - that's a good way to put it - Ditko doesn't need to lose - they can be enjoyed differently.
Blaise - exactly.
FEBRUARY 26, 2010 7:51 PM  
sam said...
"they feel powerless maybe, because they cannot or refuse to learn the language."
i'm sorry, but you dont seem like you're projecting AT ALL. gimme a break here.
I'm sorry but these comments are insanely condescending.
first off, you're here again trying to quantify the unquantifiable. no matter how 'unintellectual' you want to deem someone like Ditko or Kirby the fact of the matter is is they created and influenced something in the ballpark of 70 years of visual/pop culture. And it takes an prettyy brilliant visual artist/designer to make the innovations they did.
and on the other end of the scale you have Duchamp, who was one of the single greatest influencers and innovators of modern and contemporary western art and it's permutations, arguably laying the ground for the current contemporary art condition of 'post medium'.
I'm not sure what's worse, anti-intellectualism or the hopelessly obvious superiority complex that insists that the 'art world' is more important.
its hilarious to me that people say something as concrete as 'duchamp -was- better than steve ditko' and then almost negate that by talking about how they can be appreciated differently. no one is 'fundamentally' anything aside from the type of person and art maker they were.
also, the same thing is occuring in the fine arts world right now. these 'lowbrow artists' like gary baseman or souther salazaar or etc. are poking their fingers into the eyes of a zone that has continuously shut them out.
also, what part of his brain was duchamp using that was unique and magic and superior to the art he was making? it's like everyone forgets that when these guys were sitting down and figuring their problems out (both kirby and duchamp) the functions in their brain which allowed them to arrive at their solutions are one in the same.
I'm not trying to offend anyone, but this was like one more post away from entering circle jerk territory.
FEBRUARY 26, 2010 11:59 PM  
 blaise larmee said...
@sam you know jason wrote the article, yes?
'the hopelessly obvious superiority complex that insists that the 'art world' is more important.'
no one said the art world is more important / everything is of equal proportions.
before duchamp the art world (present tense) didn't exist. i think jason is saying 'Ditko is [not] in the same league as Marcel Duchamp'.
Comics is like a black and white newspaper blowing against a giant monument/crevice of 'art'. There is more 'shit' in art and more 'genius' and more everything. One has a million people in it, with foundations and federal grants (art) and one has some residual capital from the teenage mutant ninja turtles.
Art isn't more important, it's more everything.
FEBRUARY 27, 2010 12:21 AM  
 Q. Lazzarus said...
a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22ltlLZkFlE"
FEBRUARY 27, 2010 12:25 AM  
 sam said...
i know jason posted it. his post was pretty evenhanded, i just felt like the posts that followed weren't.
first off, there are so many practices and traditions in art that are unrelated to duchamp that to hail him as being 'art' is kind of weird to me. like fine arts is nice and all but the tradition of architecture or industrial design ( and i could definitely be wrong) are all very intellectual without grappling with the problems duchamp grappled with. duchamp is one brilliant fine artist in a world full of other brilliant architects, designers, painters, sculptors, etc.
also, it doesnt strike you as condescending to talk about comics fans as more or less stupid? just because comics dont fit into the frame of intellectualism that you envision doesnt really mean that there is an aspect of anti-intellectualism to it. or just because someone is interested in stories rather than thinking about stories or thinking about thinking about stories doesnt make them un intellectual.
like how much of this comes from art history education? like if the art narrative wasnt introduced in such a western, unwieldy manner would people be able to separate themselves from this notion of what true 'art' is?
FEBRUARY 27, 2010 1:11 AM  
blaise larmee said...
'there are so many practices and traditions in art that are unrelated to duchamp that to hail him as being 'art' is kind of weird to me.'*
i wasn't talking about art i was talking about the 'art world':
'before duchamp the art world (present tense) didn't exist'
likewise, jason limited himself to specific western art narratives:
'Pop Art, Minimal Art, Conceptual Art, blah, blah, blah'
i feel like jason and i have both been rather careful in what specifically we are talking about, especially since when we talk together we often use 'art' as a shorthand for the present moment in 'the western art narrative'.
FEBRUARY 27, 2010 2:45 AM  
 ULAND said...
Wouldn't the "craft of thinking", if such a thing existed, best be expressed by mathematics? Why would it have a visual component, necessarily?
FEBRUARY 27, 2010 12:27 PM  
Anonymous said...
the post you are referencing is about text. it seems apparent that Lichtenstein wasn't thourough about sourcing what he thought was "comics." because he disregarded an integral half of "comics," which is text. I think the post is questioning Lichtenstein's practice, It isn't saying that he isn't as good as his source material, but that he didn't thouroughly acheive his goal, by being haphazard/inconsistent. Lichtensteins's work appears to say that he is sourcing "comics", but He is only interested in the image, which is not real "Comics."
FEBRUARY 27, 2010 1:45 PM  
 Jason Overby said...
U- It might be mathematical/scientific or it could be more philosophical.  I think Lichtenstein could be viewed as approaching visual art philosophically, in the sense that his paintings are about what is proper subject matter for art.  The abstract expressionists seemingly felt that it was this mysterious inner state beyond linguistic analysis, while I think pop artists questioned that assumption, positing that surface was only surface and that, maybe, that's ok.
Anon - Though I read Ken Parille's blog post completely when it originally appeared, I just scanned it yesterday before I made this post.  I guess my beef was less with his text than with what I feel like is the prevalent comics-centric person's view of Lichtenstein: that he appropriated imagery from comics, and in doing so de-valued the work of our brethren, the "genuine" craftspersons.  I think he was making paintings of available visual artifacts, that he wasn't concerned with verisimilitude because his point could be made by roughly referencing his subject matter.  The paintings in Parille's article are early in L's career, it should be noted.  I think that L got slicker and slicker as time went on, and, while I think some later works, such as his paintings and sculptures of brushstrokes, furthured and refined the ideational basis of his art, it seems like he ended up just working to satisfy the market need for "Lichtensteins," much like almost any cartoonist, once they've found their "style."
FEBRUARY 27, 2010 6:13 PM  
 blaise larmee said...
'it seems like he ended up just working to satisfy the market need for "Lichtensteins," much like almost any cartoonist, once they've found their "style."'
damn
well said
that's always the worry in art and the expectation in cartooning
FEBRUARY 27, 2010 7:10 PM  
 jeff koons said...
goddamn bitches
FEBRUARY 28, 2010 7:55 PM  
 Ken Parille said...
Jason,
Thanks for thinking about my post for a long time -- I'm happy to know that someone has thought about something I wrote for even a minute.
"my beef was less with his text than with what I feel like is the prevalent comics-centric person's view of Lichtenstein: that he appropriated imagery from comics, and in doing so de-valued the work of our brethren, the "genuine" craftspersons."
I don't think I said this, though, or even implied it. My point was just that in one way - lettering - L seems to me to be not as good as he was in other ways (I say this in the post). I don't see my criticisms as stemming from anything like fanboy anger at L -- that's not what it's about.
I began "Many discussions about Roy Lichtenstein's use of comic book images focus on moral and legal issues (should he have given credit to the original artists? - could he have been sued for copyright violation?)" and go on to show that I was not interested in that kind of argument.
It's a fairly standard kind of critique: looking at images and their sources and talking about what you think works or doesn't.
As I also say in the post, many of the changes L makes work for me -- but his lettering often does not.
I would basically agree with what anonymous has said about my post.
MARCH 1, 2010 1:14 PM 
blaise larmee said...
one of the things that's been brought up is how to discuss Lichtenstein's craft. what language do we use to critique it - the language of comics craft or [what could loosely be phrased as] artistic craft.
being able to execute one's ideas/intentions.
anonymous says
'Lichtensteins's work appears to say that he is sourcing "comics", but He is only interested in the image'
MARCH 1, 2010 2:12 PM  
 Jason Overby said...
I agree with what both of you are saying. I apologize for misrepresenting your blog post, Ken. I kinda jumped around a bit and didn't aknowledge that I was referencing this friend-to-comics anti-pop-art conventional wisdom (that seems to exist, but I'm, maybe, just chasing down windmills) and not anything you'd written (although I do feel awkward critiquing Lichtenstein's visual elements separately, and I actually like the early, more raw paintings of Warhol, L, and Peter Saul a lot).
MARCH 1, 2010 3:47 PM  
Ken Parille said...
Jason,
No problem -- I just wanted to seperate my post from the simplistic 'reaction against L' type of argument.
MARCH 3, 2010 9:06 AM  
 dylan sparkplug said...
I saw a guy pretending like the giant green sculpture in front of the Portland Art Museum in the pictures was his giant penis. This says everything I ever wanted to say about the whole world of "this art is better than that art."
MARCH 3, 2010 10:20 AM  
Jason Overby said...
Yes!
MARCH 3, 2010 11:15 AM