Germans at home and abroad…

December 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Cologne Cathedral… ok… so maybe I went a little overboard with the tilt shift gen on this one??? Please note the tiny red balloon (for scale).

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Cubes…

December 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

sol lewitt

robert morris

janine antoni

the employees of the new brunswick wal mart

There were of course other cubes that I wanted to include… (in order from most to least favorite) Hesse’s Accession, Haacke’s Condensation Cube, Tom Friedman’s Pedestal with Flies, Corbusier’s Boîte à Miracles, Bruce Nauman’s Cast of the Space Under My Chair, Rachel Whiteread did at some point find a perfectly cubey room to castTara Donovan’s Toothpicks, Dan Graham’s Untitled (chromium sprayed glass cubes),Yayoi Kusama (there are a couple that she did… that involved mirrored cubes inside a cube shaped mirrored room with a field of twinkly lights between them), Tony Smith’s Die,  Jeff Koons’ Untitled (Basketball suspended in an aquarium), but the photographs didn’t quite cut the mustard. Jeppe Hein is a young artist obsessed with cubes… but I don’t know how I feel about his cubes yet (which have reached a sort of upper limit of cleverness/ self-awareness)…

Viktor Witkowski

December 5, 2011 § 1 Comment

So I am very very lucky to be friends with Katie Horstein and Viktor… Viktor Witkowski is an amazing painter and we were lucky enough to be able to score a painting, very reasonably priced should anyone who reads this be interested in another one of his amazing canvases.

This is perhaps the most amazing thing that I own— a painting of the Wardack province in Afghanistan. This is the moment immediately following a blast. I have another painting of the Logar province, now hanging on my wall. Do you think I used the word ‘amazing’ enough in the last couple of sentences???

In any case, perhaps beautiful is not quite the word I’d use for this painting—though it is certainly that—it is also haunting. Viktor draws on a long tradition of landscape painting—more English of the 18th c. than Dutch of the 17th—those Romantic landscapes painted through smoky glasses; the pastoral seen through the haze of an approaching Age of Industry—a nostalgia, in fact for a moment before it.

The clash between industry and landscape is a theme more explicitly and less nostalgically addressed in Umberto Boccioni’s earlier work, and earlier even, though less expressively by the American George Inness. But I digress, or rather, jump a century forward. Here, Viktor disturbs the historical landscape by marking it with an event—an IED or a drone bomb drop?

In the painting below a languorous column of smoke rises in the opposite direction of the slow growth of geological time. These two movements split the panel into two distinct times—on the one side a supposedly eternal time and on the other its imminent destruction. In the center—a seemingly oblivious clear blue sky. The mountain itself dissolves into the sky as if its solidity was more tentative than we could have ever imagined it to be. This painting desires another time—a time before the dawn of technological war—the end of science’s promise to humanity. In other words this is another kind of Romance, not that of the Pre-Raphaelites, but one that absorbs the image of its own destruction. A complex and conflictual historical longing—such is the brilliance of Herr Witkowski.

All I have to say is… Viktor your day will come!!!!

So now that Katie is gone, we have this to remember her by, (and the salt, rillons and chocolate). And Katie if you ever get around to reading this, whenever I part from you you leave me with five million new ideas—you are the most exciting kind of friend, most of all because you are also a very good friend. Thanks for sharing.

Katie’s Here!

December 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

…which means… good times, good food, and awesome historical musings. Before I launch into my little historical reverie I just want to take note of all the little magical things that have happened since ma amie has arrived… first she unloaded 1kg of grey salt, a small pot of duck ‘rillons’ and a darling vat of noisette et chocolat, what Katie refers to as “hazlenut chocolate sexy”… an awesomer adult version of nutella. Then we took the train down to Chelsea to see her friend’s show at the Sikkema Jenkins gallery, amazing work by Josephine Halvorson,

This particular image wasn’t in the show, but I love paintings of books and bookcentric artwork in general (like Candida Hofer’s Libraries). Anyway, after that we then we strolled up to the Paul Kasmin gallery to check out Walton Ford, whose work I can only really describe as a violent Audobon dystopia, with a dash of romantic landscape—think baboons in heat with a sort of Guérinesque ruiny background, disturbing pink phalluses, blood, pathos. Hmmm hard to describe… but beautiful stuff. Below is an image of “pigeons.”

Then we walked down the highline and got off at the Chelsea Market where we ate a variety of oysters on the half shell and bought oysters for our Saturday Bo Ssam. Then we hopped in a cab headed for the Madison Square Park Shake Shack… when a traffic jam found us smack dab in front of the Doughnut Plant. This was clearly an auspicious sign, so we debarked and procured doughnuts of an excelsior variety… the coconut cream and crème brûlée doughnuts YUMMMMMMM. Then we made our merry way to our awaiting shack stacks and demi bouteille of cabernet franc. We are awesome.

Anyway, Katie is doing some work on panoramas… her dissertation, which I eventually have to read is on representations of war. Though I know nothing about 18th c. French war panoramas this did get me to thinking about Karl Friedrich Schinkel (master of the German panorama)… and his technically aided views. This one… one of my favorites is called “Dresden Telescope”

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Schinkel’s work was painted with a sense of historical longing (a typically German pathos, yes), but this view seems, in light of actual history, even more haunting. Actually now Katie tells me that all the Romantic Germans were obsessed with Dresden… Germany’s “jewel box” of baroque and rococo  architecture.

In other news… I’m starting to do preparatory reading for my qualifying exams… and one of my ‘fields’ which I’m calling “Architecture and the Nation State” has got me thinking alot about Germany… and the architecture of national identity… the following entry… Pieter Behren’s Dombauhütte.

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In any case, as the inimitable Zoë Prillinger has taught me, the moments of historical crisis are far more interesting than the ‘high’ moments of decadent decline. Unless you think of those high moments as such. This was Behren’s turn away from modernist objectivity, a shunning of the Neue Sachlikeit in favor of an expression of primal German Christianity… a move of historical romance inspired, in large part by Nietzsche. I will write more about this later.

Oh yeah… and did I mention? We’re making Bo Ssam tonight… as soon as we lumber out of bed we’re going to get bagels at H & H, then lunchy at Sullivan and then Korean provisions in K town.

Where Am I?

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