Saturday, June 21, 2008

June 3-6, 2008

The Existential/Activist Painter
The Example of Leon Golub
Donald Kuspit
1986, paperback
3 cards (due to underlining in my own copy)

The moment I saw this book at Book Trader in New Haven I knew I needed it. There had been a session at CAA about Golub and I had seen a Golub painting at the MFA in Boston (that made me recoil but also rejoice in that recoiling) and the book seemed to offer the perfect next step. A year or so later I finally picked it up again and despite the pretentious sounding title and the at times dense phrasing, Kuspit succeeds in identifying and tracing the ways in which Golub's paintings operate. He reveals but does not oversimplify. With all that continues in the world today in terms of abuse of power and human rights violations the world needs more painters in the vein of Golub and more people need to see Golub's paintings.

Smattering of notes/underlining
-opening Adorno quotes from Aesthetic Theory
4- "the brilliance of Golub's art is that it makes them horrifically explicitly, overwhelming, until they seem to touch us so directly that we violently react"
-physical surface- necessarily brutal
7- Barthes
18- "when it is realistic to think that man may end his own history"
20- "But in Golub's usage the classical image of man proclaims the tragic nature of modern man"
41- "I tend to think that the most important thing about ancient art for Golub is that it has to be excavated, and once unburied exists only in devastated form- physically wrecked as well as spiritually meaningless in the contemporary world."
46- "Golub's man is especially tragic because he knows his failure"
60- skulls and Chicago artists
104- Photography has made such appearances far from novel, indeed all too commonplace, and one of Golub's artistic problems is to get rid of this sense of the banality of evil. He attacks the issue by showing the power principle behind evil."

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