Replied to The Mysteries of Mondrian by Peter Schjeldahl (The New Yorker)

Peter Schjeldahl reviews “Piet Mondrian: A Life,” by Hans Janssen, a new biography that excavates the genius of the Dutch modernist painter.

I enjoyed Peter Schjeldahl’s overview of the life and works of Piet Mondrian. The quote I liked the most was the importance of religion when it comes to atheism:

Mondrian was caught up for much of his life in Theosophy, the anti-materialist mythos that was initiated in 1875, in New York, by the much travelled Russian occultist Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Its pantheistic mysticism seemed to resonate with everything he craved in both art and life. Theosophy’s tenet of an ascent from the natural by way of the spiritual toward a union with the divine was right up Mondrian’s temperamental alley. He was most immersed from about 1908 to 1912, when he painted metaphysically supercharged flowers and frankly weird totemic figures. In the years that followed, he shrugged off the aspects of the movement that seemed pedantic and nebulous rather than liberating and practical, not to mention its mediumistic hocus-pocus, but he never regretted the influence. He remarked later, “One cannot call oneself an atheist without really having experienced some form of religion.” He kept painting flowers, however, with unfailing virtuosity but waning enthusiasm, as a stock-in-trade to support his experimentation with frontal, vibrant geometric patterning.

It is intriguing how ideas sometimes take time to make sense. I find the lack of the horizon an interesting technique. With art, I always find myself being caught out with things I had not noticed, but once highlighted I cannot help but see, such as the horizon.

“Jason Kottke “ in Claude Monet’s War Paintings ()

Liked Writing Wednesdays: Art is Artifice (Steven Pressfield | Website of author and historian, Steven Pressfield.)

Art, by definition, is artifice. It’s fake. It’s not “real” in the sense that a sunset is real, or a trout or a pomegranate. Art is a work crafted with calculation, forethought, and skill to create either the simulacrum of something real (a painting of a sunset, say) or to express an insight into, or attempt to bring order out of, nature or the experience of life.

Art is made by man, not God. The simple fact that art is made, not discovered or revealed, makes it artifice. But art is also real. The pomegranate in the painting may not be a real pomegranate, but the painting is a real painting. It’s fake life, but it’s real art. Lady Gaga is a fabricated personality, yet who can deny that that personality is real?

Bookmarked John Olsen’s life lived by the brush (ABC News)

There’s a distinct style to a John Olsen painting. His bird’s-eye view of the Australian landscape has cemented him as one of our most sought-after artists. But the light of genius can sometimes cast a great shadow.

Vanessa Gorman and Susan Chenery explore the often hidden side of the artist and that is the world around them. They tie together his family and the challenges that they have faced in living in the shadows.

“Some may say,” Tim explains, “to be a great artist you have to be a selfish bastard.

“Dad wasn’t selfish. He had to do what he had to do.

“I think the word selfish could be replaced with the word committed.”

I am intrigued by the word ‘committed’, on the one hand it represents a dedication, while on the other hand it is a word often used in association with mental asylums.

Liked Sgt Pepper Photos by cccchrischrischris (

The collage was designed by Peter Blake and his wife Jann Haworth, and the cut-outs were assembled in Michael Cooper’s London photographic studio. Michael and his team toiled hard to construct the ‘cast of extras’, using a mix of photos sourced from the BBC Hulton Picture Library, images from private collections, waxworks and personal artifacts, including a gnome owned by Ringo Starr.

“Jason Kottke” in Finding All the Source Images for the Sgt. Pepper’s Album Cover ()
Liked Nick Cave – The Red Hand Files – Issue #131 – This world is shit. (The Red Hand Files)

As for shitty art, all art is perfectly imperfect — like the world itself — and to some extent value judgments on art are largely subjective and beside the point. Creating art is about growing the world and increasing its reach, and it has more to do with the act of creation itself than what is actually made. Anything that animates us creatively in a positive way — be it the grand design of a great architectural wonder or the Big Bang of a child’s drawing — is a re-enactment of the original creation story. Whether we realise it or not, making art is a religious encounter as it is our attempts to grow beyond ourselves that energise the soul of the universe.

Tom Breihan wonders if The Weeknd’s After Hours will be the end of a particular niche.

As an entire world stares down a long and confusing struggle, I have a hard time summoning any empathy for the shit that Abel Tesfaye is talking about.

With our world and imagination changing, it makes me wonder if the art space will enter a time of nostalgia to cope with the growing uncertainty or a new form of literature that grapples with the minute aspects of the current crisis. As Dave Winer posits,

Future porn will be people talking without masks in public places.

Liked Nick Cave – The Red Hand Files – Issue #94 – I recently read that the band Rising Signs believed ‘Palaces of Montezuma’ plagiarized their 2005 song, ‘Grey Man.’ Sure, I can hear similarities in melody, but, oddly, I think one of many reasons I love ‘Palaces’ is that it reminds me, if anything, of the intro to ‘Theme From Mad Flies, Mad Flies’ by The Laughing Clowns from 1982. I’m not sure what that says about Rising Signs, but it made me wonder – [ ] Is originality in music sometimes hard to obtain? (The Red Hand Files)

Theft is the engine of progress, and should be encouraged, even celebrated, provided the stolen idea has been advanced in some way. To advance an idea is to steal something from someone and make it so cool and covetable that someone then steals it from you. In this way, modern music progresses, collecting ideas, and mutating and transforming as it goes.

But a word of caution, if you steal an idea and demean or diminish it, you are committing a dire crime for which you will pay a terrible price — whatever talents you may have will, in time, abandon you. If you steal, you must honour the action, further the idea, or be damned.

via Austin Kleon
Liked “My Wife Hates it When I Work From Home” — Banksy Shares Rats Run Amok in his Bathroom from Quarantine (Colossal)

Presumably quarantined like the rest of humanity, Banksy just posted a few images of an artwork executed in his supposed home bathroom. The installation depicts a mischievous pack of his signature rats destroying everything in sight: swinging from towel racks, running on toilet paper, marking the da

Bookmarked The National are meant to be in Australia — here’s what they’re doing instead (Double J)

“Making a song, or even making a drawing or anything out of some of this anxiety is the only thing that’s ever helped me really. Watching the news, talking about it, speculating and debating with friends, it never really makes me feel any better. It just gets me more riled up.

If you don’t write, Berninger reckons engaging with prose, music and art is a nourishing way to spend these anxious times.

“I have found art, listening to music, or just flipping through a book of paintings or photographs or reading an old book really changes your chemistry and is enlightening in a mental and a spiritual way,” he says.

Matt Berninger talks about art as an antidote for anxious times.📑
Replied to Gareth Hart on Instagram: “Beautiful work by Shilpa Gupta at @tarrawarrama – ‘The markings we have made on this land have increased the distance so much’ 2019 – An…” (Instagram)

46 Likes, 1 Comments – Gareth Hart (@artgareth) on Instagram: “Beautiful work by Shilpa Gupta at @tarrawarrama – ‘The markings we have made on this land have…”

This has me wondering about the many unconscious choices we make associated with art.
Replied to |k| clippings: 2018-11-26 — it helps to press send (Katexic Clippings)

A conversation last night reminded me that I am unrepentant about (most of) my 80s rock listening…then and now. Michelle Kwan’s cover of “Sweet Child o’Mine” on a guzheng nails not just the iconic song, but one of the era’s best solos. Also: a worthy cover by bluegrass musicians Thunder and Rain & Postmodern Jukebox doin’ it New Orleans style & Scary Pockets makin’ it funky & a wistful version by Taken by Trees.

Thank you for sharing the different covers. It is an intriguing collection.

Where jazz has its standards, it feels that the (post)modern standards are songs we have ingrained in our memory to a point where we apprehend every bend and squeal, even if it is not performed.

It is interesting to think of these songs in association with algorithms and the choice of what is played and performed. Has nostalgia replaced originality or is all music copied as people like Chilly Gonzales demonstrate.

Here I am again reminded of a comment from William Gibson:

Watched Nolan – The Man and the Myth (2018) – The Screen Guide – Screen Australia from

Sidney Nolan is unquestionably one of the best- known names in the history of modern Australian art. His images are iconic, treasures of the Australian visual language. Everyone feels they know ‘Sid Nolan’ but there’s more to the man than the public image. This film will explore and celebrate the artist and the man, going well beyond his early years to his stellar international career and all the success and turmoil that came with it.

I went and saw the Ned Kelly series when I was in Canberra earlier this year. It is intriguing to appreciate something now that was barely recognised at the time. I guess this is a part of the myth?

I almost do everything to avoid painting, but once I get to them