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Friday, August 31, 2012

Coromo, parts 556 - 559

556. The sisters returned to the village with Coromo two weeks later and this time they brought along sets of crayons, ball-point pens, pencils, magic markers, a number of sets of watercolor paints,  drawing pads, and several sets of poster paints, the type used in grade school. There idea was to give the children toys that were simple, and did not involve batteries or electricity. For the adults they had several wind up clocks , mirrors, and some odds and ends of clothing.

557. As you can imagine this visit was a big hit, and although the children were thrilled with the gifts, they loved the magic markers best.

558. These children did not have any understanding of the mechanics of magic markers, and after their first long session with them, they were left on the ground with their caps off and the next morning they were all dried up and useless. Then they attacked the ball-point pens, and this kept them occupied for the entire day but the pens suffered the same fate as the magic markers.

559. The watercolor sets were a complete mystery to the children, who never managed to comprehend that water was required, and as for the poster paint, as soon as the caps were off it all turned rock hard in one afternoon. Only the crayons held out for several days and then all melted into a big multicolored glob at the bottom of a tin can.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Coromo, parts 552 - 555

552. The three sisters were reunited in the middle of the wood, and it did not take two seconds for the sisters who had been absent to figure out in great detail exactly what had happened while they were gone, and they figured it out by means of facial expressions that had been in use between them since their high school days.

553. Coromo and the sisters returned to the resort, where everyone received a very abbreviated explanation of what had happened. Soon the sisters went back to their homes in America and over the next year you can imagine how the resort, and their next vacation was a frequent topic of conversation among 

554. The following year they again went horseback riding with Coromo, and with a specific purpose; they wanted to visit his village and see first hand how natives in that part of the world lived. They were expecting to see grass huts, but what they found were primitive shacks all in clusters, naked children, and a lot of old people suffering various ailments with hardly any cloths on.

555. The sisters discussed what they had seen. They were moved to their depths, not with pity or compassion, but with curiosity, and a desire to somehow connect with the villagers, but they wanted to do this in a non-condescending way. So they hit upon a plan, they decided to return again with simple gifts for the children, very basic obvious things that the children they knew took for granted.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Coromo, parts 548 - 551

548. "But the following night the branches and leaves were insufficient and we had to resort to the blankets again, but I said my prayers all night and finally got to sleep about six o'clock in the morning."

549. "The next  day," Coromo said, "I went off and had a long talk with God about my situation. I said, "God, Grandmother always said that no mater what trials we encounter in life, you will give us the strength in get through those trials. Now I want to ask you, was she correct about this, because if she was then I expect those other sisters to get back here before the sun goes down tonight."

550. But the sun went down without the sisters coming back, but that night Coromo and the woman slept soundly all night, only waking up for a short time at midnight, and then again at 1:30, at 3 :30. again at 4, and then again at five. At about five-thirty Coromo was sitting with his back against the tree smoking a cigarette, the woman was again sound asleep, when he heard the sound of a helicopter approaching.

551. "Listen Aunt Jemima", the Duck said, "This is all very interesting, but what has this missing story out of Boccaccio's 'Decameron'  got to do with floor moping and expressionistic painting." Everything," replied Aunt Jemima, "but just let me finish my story and don't  interrupt me."

Coromo, parts 544 - 547

544. Coromo had a grandmother who had raised him, a very devout Christian woman who put the fear of God and eternal damnation into him, added to that was the fact he never in his life had been alone with a woman for any length of time, and the entire situation, compounded by his concussion, threw him into profound confusion.

545. Here is what Coromo told me about it. "That woman and I were alone up there in the woods for four nights, because the other sisters got completely lost in the forest, and were only rescued later with the help of helicopters, and search parties."

546. "The first night it got so cold that we had to use each other for blankets, and even with the blankets it was still very hard to get to sleep. Thankfully Grandmother's teachings helped me get through the night, but I didn't really fall asleep until five in the morning."

547. "The following day"  Coromo said, "we decided that if we had to spend another night in the cold, we had to gather together a lot of brush and leaves to use for cover because it was too uncomfortable and impractical to use each other for blankets, and it made it hard to get to sleep."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Coromo, parts 540 - 543

540. The horse, realizing that Coromo did not know anything about horsemanship, headed for his stall many miles away.  The sisters were in a quandary, they had no idea where they were, no idea how to get back, and no idea of the condition of their guide, and so did not dare to move him.

541. Now, about these sisters, they were not the sort to panic in an emergency, they sat down on the ground and drew up a plan. The first sister would head up the path looking for the village their guide had been talking about, the second sister would go back down the path to the resort on the coast to get some help. The third sister would stay with Coromo, who was alive and well, but knocked out cold at the foot of a tree.

542. What happened next I only know about because Coromo told me about it some time later. He said he came to in the evening and at first did not know where he was or what was happening. The woman who was with him explained what had happened and, from the look of things, he had a concussion.  Night fell and it became very cold.

543. Coromo and the woman figured that since it had taken them three hours to get to the place they were, they could not expect any help until very late at night, and meanwhile it became colder and colder.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Coromo, parts 536 - 539

536. One of my cousins named Coromo was an especially popular waiter. He became very friendly with three American woman who asked him if he knew of any place in the area where they could rent horses for an afternoon excursion.  So it happened that he went horseback riding with the women up into the hills, along paths that ran between the resort, and our village.

537. These women were all excellent riders with years of experience, three sisters all raised on a horse farm in Vermont. They were not the usual timid women, terrified of the locals,  scared to death of anything outside the walls of the resort. They were bold and fearless happy healthy souls, intent on having a good time, and seeing some of the real world. I remember my cousin saying to me, "The bitches were not afraid of bugs even, never seen the like."

538. Coromo went off horseback riding with the women, and it all sounds very exciting, but he did not know anything about horses other that what he had seen on TV at the resort, but since he had a lot of self confidence he did just fine, deceiving his horse into thinking he was in control, when actually he had no idea what he was doing any more than a seven year old driving a car.

539. But as luck would have it, Coromo's horse was startled by a chipmunk that ran across the path, and when the horse lurched to the side, he smacked his head on a tree branch, and fell unconscious on the ground.

Coromo, parts 532 - 535

532. But how was it possible for this cleaning lady on the night staff of the hospital, and a poor immigrant, to have such insight into Buboni's ideas, and art in general. We all turned toward her, and in our faces she could see that she owed us some sort of an explanation.

533. "I was born in a small village on the coast of Africa,", she said, "And in my childhood, except for some wood carvings, there were no paintings around or any interest in art at all. But today if you were to visit my village you would find everyone is an artist, and the selling of paintings is the principal occupation of my people back home. This is how it came about, and why, by accident, I got involved in looking at, and collecting paintings."

534. Several years ago a big French tourist company decided to open a resort facility on the coast about twenty miles from my village.  All of the towns folk were excited that this resort would be an opportunity for serious employment in the restaurant and hotel line. It was at that resort that I first learned the art of waxing floors, and mopping up.

535. The worst paying but most lucrative jobs at the resort went to the waiters, who were paid nothing at all but who made huge amounts of money by our standards. Young tall good looking men from my village who knew the art of the shy dazzling smile did very well.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Aunt Jemima's Paintings, parts 528 - 531

528. I wish you could have seen the look on old Buboni's face as Aunt Jemima finished talking about her floor moping in terms of modern art. I came across a picture and posted it above, it shows the sort of expression he had, it is of a boy who is hearing a sound for the first time, after his hearing was repaired by surgery.

529. The professor had been accustomed for so many years to discussing art at gallery openings and in academic circles, and in all the years of his career had never heard anyone outside of the upper classes say anything intelligent or perceptive about modern art.

530. And now this poor cleaning lady was not only talking about his favorite subject, but putting it in a way that would have never crossed his mind. And all of us realized;  thinking of floor moping as expressionistic painting was a perfect example of Buboni's theory of Dedstructivism.

531. Here is a picture of Aunt Jemima; it is not a current picture but one taken many years ago. In it you can see the animation that was in her face as she talked about cleaning the floors of the hospital.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Aunt Jemima's Paintings, parts 524 - 527

524. "How often I have thought to myself", Aunt Jemima continued,  "as I mopped the floors of this big hospital late at night, what masterpieces I could be creating if the floor was not a floor but a huge canvas rolled out from wall to wall, and instead of a bucket of soap and water, I had buckets of paint of all different colors.

525. First I would stick that mop into the red, and throw a huge path of red from the left, all the way to the far wall in a big slash. Then, with the mop still full of red, I would plunge it directly into green, and do a number of rapid staccato splashes in parts of the red stroke, as the red and green are mixing and turning to brown.

526. Then I would put the red mop aside and go directly to the black, and mop up a number of dark ominous strokes in the corner, approaching my red section, but not touching it, leaving slivers of the white canvas floor separating the black from the red. When I was done I would give it a title, the title would be, 'The Hospital at Four AM.' But I would give credit for the title to Giacometti, who did that wonderful piece 'The Palace at 4 AM', do you know it?"

527. "And why,", she said, raising her voice and becoming excited, her brown face flushing.  "Because If I could paint big pictures with a mop and bucket, I could live in a palace, instead I have to mop hallways, and empty bed pans.  But, it is all relative, and God who looks down on us all knows that my floors are great works of art, no one but Him will ever notice."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Aunt Jemima's Paintings, parts 520 - 523

520. Dennis went back to painting birds and wildlife, and his sojourn into abstract expressionism had no effect on him.

521. I presumed Aunt Jemima, the cleaning lady, would not know what Buboni was talking about with all his hyperbole comparing abstract painting to scribbling, and his dissertation on the relationship between doodling and cell structures, but  I was shocked to realize she understood completely, and even added to Buboni's lecture.

522. Aunt Jemima said, "I know just what you mean Arnold, take for example when I wax the hospital floors with the big waxing machine, the process is just like a big doodle, the machine goes left and right in big circles and the patterns on the floor are a repeat pattern over and over again.

523. But with the mop and the bucket it is a different matter. The use of the mop is just like scribbling, as Dr. Buboni was saying; when you are pushing the mop back and forth anything can happen, you might suddenly veer off to the upper right in a big arc, or suddenly do a few short strokes in the lower left hand corner. Moping the floor can be passionate and invigorating, but waxing with the machine is deadly monotonous.

Dennis Bezanowitz, parts 516 - 519

516. Nevertheless, I side with the scribble over the doodle every time. Better the false hope of the scribble, especially the scribble that rips through the restraints of the paper, better that than monotonous doodles of time killing boredom.

517. Two weeks later the fake Kline abstractions Dennis painted showed up, nailed to the wall of the Coffee Shop. Actually they were not nailed to the wall, but screwed to the wall with black Philips screws. I was ashamed and embarrassed by the paintings. If Dennis had set out to make fun of the coffee shop owner he succeeded.

518. But the coffee shop owner loved the paintings and commissioned Dennis to do a series of paintings for his home. He wanted three cubist Picasso's, one more Kline, and two Jackson Pollock's, one for over the couch, and another for the den in the basement.

519. But it didn't matter anyway because a few months later our coffee shop closed its doors, the owner saying, "Everyone came once, drank an espresso, and never came back again, it just didn't catch on"

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dennis Bezanowitz, parts 512 - 515

512. Although back then I did not like abstract painting, and even  now I think of it as  self-indulgent childishness, still it seemed to be something more than just large doodles; to me it seemed that those paintings of Kline were more like large scribbles, rather than doodles.

513. And what is the difference between a doodle, and a scribble? You ask.  A scribble can have emotion, a scribble can have energy, passion and unpredictability. But a doodle is just killing time with boring repetitive shapes. A doodle never has passion and commitment, but a scribble can rise to the heights of emotional intensity.

514. But then, on the other hand, something has to said in defence of the doodle. The doodle is a long series of simple shapes repeated over again with only slight variation, a variation that arises from the passage of time, and imperfections of the materials and the execution. And isn't that an accurate description of the cell structure of living things, plants and animals.

515. If you look at cells under a microscope, aren't we looking at tiny doodles, the doodles of nature killing time, as nature waits for all eternity for someone to answer the phone. And if you say that doodles have no purpose, no destination, can't you say the same of life itself, isn't life one long endless doodle, with an occasional scribble of passion, that promises meaning, but disappoints you in the end.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dennis Bezanowitz, parts 508 - 511

508. Dennis immediately started to apologize for the green on the Mallard's neck saying, "I can't get the green right, I have rubbed it out over and over again, I am going to try sap green next, the thalo is too acid." On the walls of his studio room were numerous posters all of the work of Andrew Wyeth; I began to have an uneasy feeling about the commission.

509. I showed Dennis the pictures of the work of Franze Kline in my book and I asked him if he would be interested in doing five paintings for thirty-five dollars each, to look something like it. I told him the coffee shop owner would supply the paint and Masonite panels. I will never forget the look of incomprehension on Dennis Bezanowitz's face, as he tried to take in what he had been asked to do. He seemed to think I was making fun of him, or trying to ridicule him.

510. "But these pictures are just big doodles that anyone could do, why don't  you do it yourself, any moron could do it. Not that I think you are a moron, but do you know how many hours I have been working on this duck, here look at this log book, I have already put in fifty hours. This is a real painting, done with oils on canvas like the old masters, why would I want to paint big doodles, when I can do this."  "For the hundred and seventy five dollars, I replied."

511. Dennis agreed to do the fake Franze Kline paintings for the coffee shop, but I had misgivings. I was worried that his perception of the work as 'large doodles' would mean that he would create huge stupid diagram paintings for the place, and not the "abstract expressionism" people were talking about.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dennis Bezanowitz, parts 504 - 507

504. Both my brother and I immediately suggested Dennis Bezanowitz, the boy who could draw Donald Duck so well, to do the job. Even though Dennis was concentrating on portraits of birds and animals, we could think of no one else, because he was the only one in our graduating class that had been interested in art.

505. I knew all about those big abstract paintings since I was going to school in New York back then, so I got a book out of the library, I think the title was "The Meaning Of Modern Art" and went to pay a visit to Dennis and see if he would do the painting commission.

506. The boy who could draw Donald Duck was still living with his parents that winter of 1962, and his room had been made into a small studio. He had a hand made easel next to a table covered with paints and brushes, and on a canvas was a half finished painting of a Mallard duck. I had never seen a work in progress before, and was struck by its odd appearance.

507. The top of the picture was complete down to the very finest detail, and the bottom of the canvas was blank except for a few indistinct pencil lines. The brown tones of the feathers looked perfect but the green band on the neck was the wrong green, and had been scrubbed out and was being repainted. In front of the painting was a gigantic magnifying glass on a pivot, through which the details were magnified and distorted.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dennis Bezanowitz, parts 500 - 503

500. Everything was the same in my home town in 1962, except for one thing, somebody was planning to open a coffee shop downtown, it would be a first for our town. We all felt this was very important but we did not know exactly why. Everyone, back from college that New Year was anxious for it to open so we could go there and order our first espresso. It was necessary to have an old sweatshirt. One had to be reading certain sorts of books.

501. "The Catcher In The Rye", would not do in 1962, and we were not interested in "Lord Of The Flies"  either. What was necessary was Andre Gide, or Camus. When I went to the coffee shop the first time I was reading "The Stranger." The coffee shop was in a space I knew well, a big cellar room that formerly had been a barber shop, but the barber had died a year before. Everything was painted black and white, including the furniture.

502. The owner of the coffee shop was anxious to complete his interior decoration with some paintings, and sat down with my brother and I and asked if we knew any local artists who would like to do some commissions.

503. What the coffee shop owner wanted was some large abstract paintings that would look like the works of Franze Kline he had seen in a museum somewhere. He though this could be done very cheaply, as he had some black and white paint left over from painting the coffee shop, and there were also some large pieces of Masonite left over from replacing the floor. Thirty-five dollars a picture was what he had in mind.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dennis Bezanowitz, parts 496 - 499

496. Dennis did the decorations for the Prom, he did all the lettering for diplomas, and every year he had to create countless posters and advertisements with images and lettering for various campaigns when the students ran for office to the student council, or for class president.

497. In his senior year he discovered the painting "Christina's World" by Andrew Wyeth and this transformed his life. Not since his days throwing baseballs at the playground fence and dreaming of being a pitcher for the Yankees was he so motivated. He went to the art supply store and purchased his first triple-0 paint brush, and twelve different shades of brown paint.

498. In his last year of high school he began to do highly detailed watercolors of birds, and it became his speciality.  He would spend many hours putting in all the tiny lines of the feathers, and sometimes these watercolors were purchased by hunting magazines, and used in their advertisements. I went off to college, and he started working days at a fast food restaurant.

499. It was 1962, a different world and time. I was at NYU, with a liberal arts major and I often went to shows at the galleries. Out in the street were ban the bomb protesters, in Penn Central ragged men held up signs telling us the end of the world was coming, Kennedy was president, Warhol was showing his soup can paintings, Kline and Pollock were famous and dead already, but when I went back home for vacation, everything was unchanged as if set in stone.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dennis Bezanowitz, parts 492 - 495

492. Dennis set up a target on the chain link fence at the border of our playing field, and all summer long the sound of his baseball hitting the fence over and over would ring out from morning till night, as he practiced his pitching, in anticipation of getting into the big leagues.

493. But things did not go well for him. The year we went on to High school, he tried out for the school's baseball team, but the coach rejected him. Practicing more and with greater determination was not an option, because that was all he ever did anyway.

494. For several weeks Dennis was rather depressed, but then one night he broke into the coach's house and trashed all the furniture, and spray painted things on the walls while the coach was out having dinner. When the coach came home he found Dennis in the middle of an epileptic seizure.  The coach did not press charges, but Dennis had to spend a few weeks under observation in a hospital.

495. The combination of his rejection from the team, and the epilepsy resulted in Dennis giving up any desire to be a pitcher for the Yankees. He drifted through high school without any purpose except that he was constantly requested to do art work for various high school events, since he was the only one among us that could draw.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dennis Bezanowitz, parts 488 - 491

488. The entire time we were talking about Buboni's childhood, the old woman who called herself Aunt Jemima, the cleaning lady and night staff person at the hospital, was listening intently to the conversation. I was surprised at this. It seemed to me that a cleaning lady from some third world country would have little interest in art or art history but I was wrong.

489. "Tell me Mr. Buboni dear," Aunt Jemima said, "What ever happened to the boy who could draw Donald Duck, did he become a great artist when he grew up, and go to work for Disney Land?"

490. "Far from it", said Buboni. "The boy who could draw Donald Duck did go on to become an artist when he grew up, but we all knew things would not turn out well for him back in grade school. The problem with him was that he had no appreciation of his talent. His name was Dennis Bezanowitz."

491. Even though Dennis could draw all the Disney characters with his eyes shut, his great ambition in life was to be a professional baseball player. Specifically, he wanted to be a pitcher for the Yankees. For him this was not just a day dream, but something he worked at with great determination.

Buboni Resurrected, parts 484 - 487

484. And does the fact that Arnold was incorrect about the origin of certain works of art invalidate his theories? If Einstein mistook smelts for trout in the fish market would it invalidate the theory of relativity? There are some who would say so, because that is how they like to reason.

485. But that is the sort of reasoning you find practiced by the back stabbers, or as Albert put it so eloquently, ' in academia we have no back stabbers, what we have are 'front stabbers'.

486. When the Duck finished this revelation about Buboni, and his status in France, we all turned to Albert to see what his reaction would be, but he was none too pleased.

487. "It is all a sham is what it is. The French are not really interested in art theories, it is just that they hate the English, and like to take this sort of opportunity to embrace whatever the English have rejected. It all boils down to the Joan of Arc thing, or perhaps the business with Napoleon." Thus Buboni dismissed his academic resurrection. "As far as my days as an art historian, they are over, I am never going to go down that road again."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Buboni Resurrected, parts 480 - 483

480. And now consider Warhol's Brillo boxes. In 1964 Andy Warhol created a number of gigantic Brillo Boxes and whatever art collector purchased those boxes was not planning to wash gigantic sinks with huge Brillo pads.

481. And later when he was painting those huge labels from the soup cans, those paintings were never intended to be used, by gluing them to gigantic cans of soup.

482. Sarah wrote,  the theory of Destructivism is alive and well, and can be usefully applied  to many aspects of contemporary art, but she also addressed the Buboni scandal, taking it one point at a time. 'The Raphael painting that he made so much of turned out to be a copy by students, and not the original, so what.' She wrote.

483. When a person writes about a painting and its color relationships, they are not referring to the actual color on the specific canvas, but rather to the idea of the colors as they exist, juxtaposed in the mind. This being so, a photograph will suffice to illustrate an idea, and if that photograph were of a museum facsimile, it would make no difference.

Buboni Resurrected, parts 476 - 479

476. I am especially interested in his Theory of Destructivism, and I did a term paper on the subject, the title of which was "Destructivism Theory applied to Art after the Armory Show."

477. Sarah wrote: I will not bore you with the entire paper but here is the introduction and some of the high points. I hope you will give my regards to Doctor Buboni.

478. From Sarah Meyers paper on Buboni: This theory has not been applied to modern art by its author because he feels that the past century, devoted so much to 'art for art's sake' falls outside the parameters of the theory, but there are notable exceptions.

479. Take for example Duchamp's urinal. The urinal is highly regarded as a seminal work of art, but very few people would be tempted to enter the Philadelphia Museum of Art and relieve themselves in it. The urinal is a perfect example of Destructivism. It can only be considered art if it transcends its original purpose.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Buboni Resurrected, parts, 472 - 475

472. At the junk yard the car was parked in line to be demolished, and perhaps the sight of helpless cars being lifted up by that huge magnet and put in the crusher cured it of its inability to start. Anyway, the day it was to be demolished, the yard man was able to get the engine to run, shortly after that it was purchased by Mr. Bertelsby.

473. Sarah Meyers wrote back right away. 'The car not starting like that is entirely my fault. During the last month I was in Paris a wire in the engine developed a short; sometimes it would work and sometimes not, and I never got around to fixing it. Please tell Mr. Bertelsby to replace the green wire that runs from the coil to the distributor. Also, did you say you are traveling with Albert Buboni?'

474. Yes, the other person in our group is Albert Buboni. He is the art historian, who for many years taught at Cambridge.

475. Please tell Mr. Buboni for me, that I love his work and have read all of his books. He has been a real inspiration for me. After he left Cambridge, my art history instructor discovered his works and they are now required reading for art students at the Sorbonne.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Buboni Resurrected, parts 468 - 471

468. According to Sarah's facebook page, she could not find a job in fashion design when she got back to America, so she was working as a mechanics' assistant in a foreign car repair shop.

469. Sarah accepted the Duck's friend request, and so he sent her a long e-mail, bringing her up to date on the situation of her old car, this is what he wrote to her.

470. The Ducks letter to Sarah Meyers, concerning her old 2CV:  Dear Sarah, I am traveling around Southern France with my good friends Richard Bertelsby, and Albert Buboni. Mr. Bertelsby is the owner of your old 2CV which he bought at a used car lot in Paris about six months ago.

471. I thought you might like to know that after you left Paris no one was able to start you car for several months. Mr. Britelesby, the current owner, told me this himself, and heard it from a mechanic in Paris. Since it was such an old car it had been hauled off to the junk yard to be crushed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Buboni Resurrected, parts 464 - 467

464. "Are you divorced?" the Duck Inquired. "I would rather not talk about it." I replied.

465. "Perhaps we should change the subject," said the Duck, noticing that I was getting ill at ease with the conversation even though I had brought it upon myself. "I have some good news for Buboni, something no one would have thought possible. His theories are being talked about in Paris, and he does not even know anything about it."

466. The Duck had some very strange and remarkable information for Buboni. During the night he was doing research on his ipad and he got it into his head to look up Sarah Meyers, the woman who had owned Nani, my 2CV. He came across Sarah's facebook page and sent her a "friend" request.

467. He knew it was the same Sarah Meyers because on her facebook page she mentioned studying at the Sorbonne.  Her page had a picture of the 2CV, and, oddly enough, a picture of the auto mechanic, the one who explained to her how to check the transmission oil.

Childhood Of The Art Historian, parts 460 - 463

460. I would never have noticed my wife had changed her earrings in a million billion years, and yet Philip noticed it the second she sat down at the table.

461. Now I have to admit, the first thing I thought to myself when Philip the custom furniture maker started screaming for all the restaurant to hear how he loved my wife's earrings, was that he had to be gay, it was so obvious.

462. So you can see from that example; fifty years my have gone by and yet anyone who notices their surroundings is branded as gay in a derogatory way, and people like me think blindness is a mainly virtue, I said, disparaging myself in an unnecessary way.

463. Anyone who has lived through the six months leading up to a divorce knows exactly what I am talking about, I blurted out.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Childhood Of The Art Historian, parts 456 - 459

Richard Britell

456. What you are saying reminds me of something that happened with my wife. Whenever we were going to go out to dinner she would ask me if I liked this or that earrings she was going to wear, and I would never know what to say.

457. Whatever earrings my wife happened to have on I would say, "Those look good," hoping she would stop asking for my opinion. But like as not she would be dissatisfied and try on another pair.

458. One time my wife put on her favorite green earrings and we went out to dinner. We were having dinner with her friend Marsha that I told you about and a man named Philip who made custom furniture.

459. About half way through dinner my wife went to the bathroom and when she sat back down again Philip yells out so the entire restaurant can hear him, "Oh my God, I just LOVE those blue earrings." Apparently my wife had a different set of earrings in her bag and decided to change them while she was in the bathroom.

Childhood Of The Art Historian, parts 452 - 455

Richard Britell

452. He said that If I wanted to be a man, I was not to refer to purple as violet. So, apparently there was a choice involved, I did not know this, and he was unwilling to elaborate.

453. So, it turned out therefore that the Policeman did not have poor color acuity after all, he must have been a person who knew the rules about being a man, and that is why he was unwilling to call the the jacket of the thief 'chartruce and black checked' but in his manly way just called it 'green coat'. Even now the concept is difficult to grasp because it was so obvious that such a system of manliness would make a mess out of arresting the right persons.

454. It was years before I figured out why my mother thought my book was a sissy's book, but for the time being I abandoned the idea of trying to use my color acuity. Color acuity was going to be a curse, rather than an advantage. Just to be on the safe side I decided to go out for the football team.

455. "You Know" I said to Buboni, "I think I was raised with the same sort of ideas about the descriptions of things, and the use of the wrong words to describe colors although I don't recall anyone ever talking about it."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Childhood Of The Art Historian, parts 448 - 451

Richard Britell

448. I knew what my art teacher was talking about when she said I couldn't draw. My hundred drawings of Donald Duck convinced me of that. As far as being an art critic, or an art historian; it was all gibberish to me back then, and I didn't even know what the words meant. But then something happened at home that changed everything having to do with my color acuity.

449. My dear Mother was not impressed with my A+ on my book, The Hundred And One Shades Of Red. "This is a sissy book," she said.

450. It was a sissy book!  It is impossible to understand now, what those words did not mean to me back then. I expected some explanation, but my mother did not offer one, and it was many years before I had an insight into what she was thinking.

451. I went to my older brother for an explanation, since he knew everything, I said to him. "Peter, why would a book called 'A Hundred And One Shades Of Red' be considered a sissy book. "Because", my brother said, "only girls know the different shades of the colors, for boys it is just red yellow and blue, try to avoid purple and under no circumstance refer to purple as violet. That's the rule, if you want to be a man."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Childhood Of The Art Historian, parts 444 - 447

Richard Britell

444. But it didn't matter anyway because at that age I knew next to nothing about art. My knowledge of art was limited to knowing who Michelangelo was, that Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear, and a boy in my class knew how to draw Sylvester The Cat.

445.  I asked the boy in my class to teach me how to draw Sylvester The Cat but he said Sylvester was too complicated and I should begin by learning to draw Donald Duck. Learning to draw Donald Duck was going to cost a quarter so I signed up to learn.

446. The boy who could draw showed me his system. To draw Donald Duck there were about ten separate shapes very similar to letters in a picture drawing alphabet, there was a fish hook shape, and a backwards S shape, and several others. He put all these shapes in a row and numbered them, and I had to memorize them.

447. After I memorized the Donald Duck alphabet shapes I had to put them together in a certain order and the result looked like Donald Duck but my drawing looked like it was stretched out with a very big beak and a tiny head. I had to draw this over and over a hundred times and show him my best drawing. After that he gave me my quarter back

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Childhood Of The Art Historian, parts 440 - 443

Richard Britell

440. I will quote from Jackson's biography just so you see what I am talking about, look, here it is on the screen of my ipod, see for yourself; 'While living in Echo Park, California, he enrolled at Los Angeles  Manual Arts High School, from which he was expelled, after having been expelled from another high school in 1928.

441. Most likely back then he was developing the real skills that would lead to his eventual success, heavy drinking and reckless driving. And at the same time he was working on those skills, his class-mates who wanted to be artists would have been drooling over the Post Covers of Norman Rockwell, and trying to imitate his drawing style.

442. Because by studying the drawing skills of Norman Rockwell back in the 1940's they would have the skills, and be in a position to do magazine covers when they grew up. And when they grew up those magazines were no where to be found.

443. That is the reason my art teacher was wrong to tell me I couldn't be an artist if I couldn't draw, but I must not have been an artist anyway because if I was I would have never listened to her.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Childhood Of The Art Historian, parts 436 - 439

Richard Britell
436.  Vasari about Giotto: The great Florentine painter Cmabue discovered Giotto drawing pictures of sheep on a rock. They were so lifelike that Cimabue approached Bondone and asked if he could take the boy as an apprentice. Little Jackson Pollock would read that and be fired up with ambition to study anatomy, and perspective, and then God willing, he would get commissions to paint the ceilings in huge churches in Cody, Wyoming where he was born.

437.  No, yelled Buboni, getting all worked up about his ideas in his usual way, if Jackson knew how to draw like the old masters as a child then today you would have never heard of him, and if he had worked real hard to develop his drawing skills he would be doing the one thing that would ruin his chances in life.

438. You may think that I a joking in what I am saying about Jackson, but I am really serious about this. Many of the things he did in his youth were the opposite of what the successful young student would be expected to do.

439. Take his high school days. Did Jackson study real hard to prepare himself for his eventual prominance in the world of Art in New York City of the fifties? No, he did just the opposite.