Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Artsy Fartsy

Here is an interesting article from the Times Online entitled "The Top 200 Artists of the 20th Century to Now." I am not a terribly cultured person, feeling far more at home surrounded by corn and soybean fields than towering skyscrapers and busy streets, but I have been exposed to most mainstream and some satellite artwork, mostly due to the devotion of my high school art teacher (owner of the "Artsy Fartsy" phrase) who led the art academic team that I participated in for a few years. In spite of my down home, middle American upbringing, I've had a lot of wonderful opportunities to see pieces of art and places of creation like Rodin's "Le Penseur" ("The Thinker") and Monet's Giverny.

In honor of the "Top 200," below is one of my favorite paintings and my least-favorite artist.

"Old Guitarist" by Pablo Picasso.

Favorite Painting. I don't know why I love this painting so dearly. Picasso is a cliche artist to appreciate, but I love his work in spite of its mainstream appeal (he is number one on the "Top 200" list). The mood of the painting is so evocative, it breaks my heart anew each time I look at the man's face and cast my eyes upon his body language. What is he thinking? Why is his despair so great? What has brought him to this lowly place? Was it circumstance or fate or choice? I have a small copy of the painting hanging in my office, and though I can view it everyday, I am still able to see it through fresh eyes each time.

"Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. IV" by Georgia O'Keefe. Yes, it's also a vagina.

Least-Favorite Artist. Georgia O'Keefe. I'm going to make one definitive verdict about her work: Overrated. I suppose, to be honest, I never really had a problem with her work until I learned more about the artist herself. O'Keefe was one of the subjects for study during a year on the art academic team. We looked at her paintings, read stacks of printed information about her life, and viewed a documentary with her at the center. The documentary, filmed around 1976 at Ghost Ranch, served as the foundation on which I began to build my temple of dislike. I remember specifically her haughty attitude, saying something to the effect of "I could have been a much better artist, but then I probably wouldn't have been so famous." Or something. I probably also didn't like her because, in her mid-eighties, she took up with a very young "companion," which seemed so distasteful to the sixteen- or seventeen-year-old me. She was eccentric, as many artist seem to be, but not genuinely so, I thought.

Disagree? That's okay. That's the wonderful thing about art. I can love a piece by Jackson Pollack, and you can think it looks like something a kindergartner would turn out. You can love a floral depiction by Georgia O'Keefe, and I can think it looks like a blue vagina. That's the beauty of the world.


Kyle said...

Smurf vaginas! So weird. Although there was only one female Smurf, so it should be vagina...not the plural form.

whiskey9cjo said...

That's a vagina. I don't see how it can be interpreted any other way.

Katherine said...

Yes. Yes it is.

Lester said...

AHHH You put an O'Keefe painting on your blog. Now I'm going to see it for the rest of the month.. nooooooo

Katherine said...


blind irish pirate said...

I need to add this to my collection of vaginal/vulvar images. There is the vulvar mirror, the vaginal tentacle stained art, and the vagina pops, courtesy for the Vagina Monoglogues.

George O'Keefe, my, oh, my, why have we not met before? I'm pretty sure I will be referencing you in conversations from this point on, simply to make other people insanely uncomfortable. Add that to your resume, you artiste posuer!