Friday, August 17, 2007

the sensitive genius

There was a discussion on the late Elizabeth Murray at Edward Winckleman which began here and continued here. It touched on some recent debates on still life I had here in PDX.

Some said they do not like Murray’s work. What interested me most was the ensuing squirmish over cups and saucers. Some felt she was claiming the domestic and this made them, for a variety of reasons, uncomfortable. But I was wondering just what is the big deal about a cup? It sure was fucking good enough for Cezanne. The Winckleman conversations cover this.

This then reminded me of certain criticism over still life here. One PDX female artist got a slash-and-burn review from the major paper in this town. - And it turned out the feeling was not necessarily generational or establishment vs. new guard, because a younger blogger joined the critic and actually went on record, saying it was a good thing to slash and burn the work.

Yet the same major paper consistently loves another still life painter in this town, a man. So I decided to not only compare the reviews, but also the work itself. I was curious because my own views were not all that different. Why was it so easy for me to dismiss one and yet hold the other in such high regard?

Both painters laid things out on tables and painted them, and they were often the same things: letters, flowers, cups – stuff. Put as much or as little meaning into them as you want to. It was my pal who told me that we might be trained to think of the guys as sensitive geniuses when they take on the cup. But when a woman does it, she’s a Sunday painter emptying out her pantry.

So then I started really looking at the painting. And what I found sort of shocked me – because I had for years been on the he’s-a-sensitive-genius bandwagon and was probably apt to dismiss her. The more I actually looked at the painting, the more I could see that she was just as good a painter as the sensitive genius. But you know, reading all those reviews over the years about how great he is and how awful she is – well, it doesn’t help.

14 comments:

mary klein said...

Nice post, Eva. It's good to see still life being discussed - period. And even richer with your observations on gender and the long-term impact of reviews.

Yvette said...

While I understand why you refrained from naming the Sensitive Male and the Sunday Painter Female landscape artists, I am dying to look at each of their respective works to see which side of the fence I come down on. Could you send me links to each artist's work without saying who is who? Since I am not from Portland, and shamefully ignorant of the local painters it may be an interesting little exercise. yvettef@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

You got it, Yvette. They are on their way.

E

Susan Constanse said...

Oh, um, could you send me the links too? Please?

Anonymous said...

I will indeed.

E

Steven LaRose said...

This is like one of those online polls or personality tests. . . but much better. If its not too much trouble, link me too.

steven(dot)larose(at)gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

It is not too much trouble at all.

E

gilda said...

I am a Detroit artist, currently working on a series of paintings based on images of chairs...could you please send me the link too? I also teach contemporary art history at a local arts college, and this topic comes up for debate regularily.

My email is Gsnow19543 at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

I will send you the links.

Interesting that you are doing chairs! I had a whole show of nothing but chairs.. I drew about 40 one year...
Here is an example.

carolyn zick said...

Ah Eva, you are luring me back into these things. Thank you for posting this as it would have passed me by.
I have been a fan of Murray's since my 20s. Somehow that in its self has always seemed like a secret admission. When I used to go to the old MOMA I would stop every time at her piece hanging in the permanent collection and give a little pause. The news of her passing is sad indeed. I like how Time Magazine descriptively spots her as modest brilliance .

Anonymous said...

Ok... people... I am sorry if I sent you links which identified the artists. I realize that this is not really what some of you may have wanted. In the future just let me know if you just want a jpg sent instead. My apologies.

Eva

Steven LaRose said...

I'm trying the empirical method over at my blog.

In my opinion, one of the painters lacks a sense of humor, which is not very sensitive. They also use a ham-fisted palette, and noisy compositions. I may be the wrong person to ask however, when you paint as much as I do, gender makes no difference.

Anonymous said...

Alright!!

Thank you Steven Larose


E

Anonymous said...

and here is...

Another post on the topic


E