Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ballet Encounters

Mark Morris Dance Company
Jenn and Spencer

San Francisco Ballet

New York City Ballet

 New York City Ballet
A Month in the Country

New York City Ballet

New York City Ballet
Le Tombeau de Couperin

New York City Ballet
Soirée Musicale

New York City Ballet

San Francisco Ballet

These are the ballet stills that brought me most satisfaction during a recent long session looking at new shots of old vehicles and new shots of new vehicles,.

Fire Fighters

My daughter took this picture with her phone while chaperoning a field trip dedicated to fire fighter role play. Mabel is wearing the red hat, aiming the hose, and remembering the all-important wide stance with the knee-high rubber boots.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Peacock Sofa

Another fortunate day  when Mabel's grandparents were each able to spend time at her house (with its new sofa in a color called peacock) playing with toys and constructing snacks, reading books and telling stories.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


In 1998 the Tate acquired 26 sheets from a spiral-bound sketchbook originally given to friends by the painter Francis Bacon (1909-1992) in 1961.

Thinned-down oil paint was the main medium for these sketches. Hasty brushwork. Also sometimes ballpoint or pencil.

The curators remark that most of the sketches do not correspond to known paintings completed by Bacon. Yet the archetypes on display here are all familiar ones. To me it makes sense that Bacon was not so much conjuring specific poses as studying force fields.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

can't and won't

Farrar, Straus and Giroux have published a new book by Lydia Davis 

can't and won't

Typographic dust jacket by Charlotte Strick.


Life is too serious for me to go on writing. Life used to be easier, and often pleasant, and then writing was pleasant, though it also seemed serious. Now life is not easy, it has gotten very serious, and by comparison, writing seems a little silly. Writing is often not about real things, and then, when it is about real things, it is often at the same time taking the place of some real things. Writing is too often about people who can't manage. Now I have become one of those people. I am one of those people. What I should do, instead of writing about people who can't manage, is just quit writing and learn to manage. And pay more attention to life itself. The only way I will get smarter is by not writing anymore. There are other things I should be doing instead. 

Author photo by Theo Cote

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

1970 in Pictures

The Kent State Shootings took place on May 4, 1970. In that incident the Ohio National Guard murdered four college students during a Vietnam War protest.

Also in 1970, Larry Rivers (1923-2002) created a portfolio of screenprints called The Boston Massacre.


While not part of the Boston Massacre portfolio, the final screenprint, Confederate Solder, was made at the same print studio in the same year. It is the artist's own pink pastiche of his famous 1959 painting, The Last Civil War Veteran.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Small Trees of the 1970s

In 1974 Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman (b. 1932) made two mutually related & equally fascinating series of screenprints  Painted Trees I (above) and Painted Trees II (below).

From collections at the Tate.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Old Favorite

The Descent

William Carlos Williams1883 - 1963
The descent beckons
              as the ascent beckoned.                 
                               Memory is a kind      
of accomplishment,                          
              a sort of renewal
an initiation, since the spaces it opens are new places
              inhabited by hordes
                               heretofore unrealized,
of new kinds—
              since their movements
                               are toward new objectives
(even though formerly they were abandoned).

No defeat is made up entirely of defeat—since
the world it opens is always a place
                               unsuspected. A
world lost,
              a world unsuspected,
                               beckons to new places
and no whiteness (lost) is so white as the memory
of whiteness.

With evening, love wakens
              though its shadows
                               which are alive by reason
of the sun shining—
              grow sleepy now and drop away
                               from desire.

Love without shadows stirs now
              beginning to awaken
                               as night

The descent 
              made up of despairs
                               and without accomplishment
realizes a new awakening:
                               which is a reversal
of despair.
              For what we cannot accomplish, what
is denied to love,
              what we have lost in the anticipation—
                               a descent follows,
endless and indestructible.
*          *          *
William Carlos Williams seems to have shared the fate of other Modernist poetry gods like Wallace Stevens and Charles Olson. When I was in college in the 1970s I would have been dumbstruck by the idea that these three poets (who then seemed supernaturally significant) would steadily fade in reputation over the next half century until they approached invisibility. Not that they are attacked or reviled now. Ignored, simply ignored. Forgotten, largely forgotten. Perhaps in future they will return to fashion. Williams was always my favorite, and his work seems to me as beautiful as ever, or more beautiful.

Production Line of Happiness

"Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness—the first retrospective ever mounted of Christopher Williams (American, b. 1956)—spans the impressive 35-year career of one of the most influential cinephilic artists working in photography. Williams studied at the California Institute of the Arts in the mid to late 1970s under the first wave of West Coast Conceptual artists, including John Baldessari, Douglas Huebler, and Michael Asher, only to become his generation’s leading Conceptualist and art professor; he is currently professor of photography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Deeply invested in the histories of photography and film, architecture and design, Williams has produced a concise oeuvre that furthers a critique of late capitalist society in which images typically function as agents of spectacle.
For the title of this exhibition, Williams has taken a line from a documentary by French director Jean-Luc Godard, in which an amateur filmmaker compares his daily job as a factory worker with his hobby of editing his films of the Swiss countryside as “the production line of happiness.” In Williams’s hands the phrase appears to refer broadly to the function of much photography in today’s consumer culture, in which it not only pictures but also produces so many experiences and objects to be consumed."

Christopher Williams with photo, scarf, shades, coffee

The Production Line of Happiness is currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago, before moving on later this summer to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.